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Wilhelm Steinitz vs Johannes Minckwitz
Baden-Baden (1870), Baden-Baden GER, rd 12, Jul-29
Vienna Game: Vienna Gambit. Steinitz Gambit Fraser-Minckwitz Defense (C25)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Steinitz could lose pretty ugly; in fact, I can't think of another champion who looked so bad when he lost. For a Steinitz loss that makes this game look like a masterpiece, see Steinitz vs. Jeney, Steinitz vs E Jeney, 1860 .
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Baden-Baden was the first event where time control was used. It is possible that Steinitz's blunder in move 18 had something to do with that. Anyway this loss with Minkwitz (last with 5/16) cost Steinitz (2nd with 10,5/16 just half point behind winning Anderssen) the first prize and some 2400 francs.:-)
Nov-05-07  kevin86: A neat loan by Minckwitz at shark rates-Black gives up the queen and then uses a fork to regain the lady,garnering a bishop as intrest.

It's refreshing to see that a great champion can have a really bad game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: thanks for the computer analysis, <RandomVisitor>.
Nov-05-07  zb2cr: Hi <xrt999>,

I think we're generally in agreement. As I said, Steinitz' love of experimentation in the opening led him into many very difficult games. It's a tribute to his patience and defensive skill that he was able to save so many of those games. However, as I mentioned, his loss percentage in the <> database (24%) may be the highest of any who have called themselves World Champion. (This is a guess on my part and subject to correction.)

For an example, consider this game from his 1890 World championship match with Isidor Gunsberg:

Gunsberg vs Steinitz, 1890

Look at the truly weird position Black arrives at in that game after move 13. In the kibitzing to that game, poster <Honza Cervenka> makes a very cogent point along the same lines as I had said in my original post.

BTW, the truly detailed post on the position after 18. Kg1 was made by <RandomVisitor>. I don't want to steal his credit.

Nov-05-07  RookFile: <PositionalTactician: Also, Rookfile, according to Random Visitor, Stenitz actually had a large advantage if he had played 18.Kg1. The fact that he could have gotten a large advantage even if he allowed himself to make bad moves in the opening showed how great a player he was.>

Actually, I was the one who pointed this out, back on October 4th. But, I'm curious, you should explain more of this concept of - 'make bad moves -- get a large advantage -- therefore you're a great player'.

Where I come from, games like this show the the level of Steinitz's opposition, and also expose Steinitz's relative weakness in the Open Game.

Nov-05-07  YouRang: Very easy indeed. It's always surprising to see a famous name like Steinitz on the losing end of an embarrassing blunder, but it happens.
Nov-05-07  zb2cr: A little research shows that I'm not quite right in my statement made above that Steinitz's loss percentage in the <> database, at 24%, is the worst among those who called themselves World Champions. (At least before 1991--I can't keep up with the permutations since then!)

Adolf Anderssen, at a staggering 38.8% had the highest percentage of games lost. Steinitz was second, at 23.7%. Here's the rest of what I found:

Player Loss %
Lasker 22.8
Euwe 16.4
Alekhine 13.7
Botvinnik 12.6
Smyslov 12.2
Fischer 11.3
Tal 11.2
Morphy 10.6
Spassky 10.3
Karpov 10.1
Petrosian 8.2
Kasparov 8.1
Capablanca 7.4

The usual <> disclaimers apply (e.g. results may be incomplete, etc.).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: The remarkable blunder (18. ♔f1??) that concludes this game reveals something fundamental about chess. It is hard to dispute the classificartion of this combination as "very easy", and yet the strongest player of the era (albeit not formally recognized as world champion until 16 years later) blundered right into it.

The simple fact is that no human player can do full-width searches of move possibilities, and if in any particular instance a player somehow experiences chess blindness to the key tactical pattern, he just ain't gonna see it ... even if he is world champion.

The lesson I take from this is that, although it certainly makes sense to work as hard as we all can to avoid blunders, perhaps none of us should take too much to heart the inevitable oversights of something "obvious" that will occur to every chessplayer from time-to-time.

Nov-05-07  TheaN: 1/1

18....Qxc4 where 19.Qxc4 Ne3+ with Nxc4, leaving Black up a piece. Maybe not a Monday ending but it wins clearly.

Nov-05-07  Judah: For those (like me) who become intensely curious at the words "deleted posts", part of the exchange between Plato and RookFile is still available at . It won't last forever, of course.
Nov-05-07  Terry McCracken: znprdx Qe4 is a good move.
Nov-05-07  Terry McCracken: RookFile, Steinitz was brilliant in all aspects of the game, yes, even open positions.

Steinitz had a small advantage until he moved his King to a horrible square.

Anand lost a game within 4 moves!

Does that make him a lousy player as well?

Of course not.

Nov-05-07  whitebeach: Thanks for the loss percentages, zb2cr. They’re interesting in themselves but maybe even more interesting for revealing how misleading statistics can be in comparisons across several generations of athletes or other game-players.

Except for two major anomalies, Morphy and Capablanca, the stats show a general decline in loss percentage for the more recent players. The main reason for this of course is the prevalence of draws in modern chess. What is striking about Morphy’s relatively low percentage of losses is that he achieved it in an age when draws were rare and most players regarded them as anathema. The whole style of play, as we know, was aimed at reaching a decisive result. Morphy lost only 27 games in the database, but drew only 26! (Anderssen and Steinitz played most of their careers in this same atmosphere, and Lasker at least began his in it.)

Capablanca, of course, not only played when technique and style had made draws more common but was famous for his ability to draw.

Points per game (with 1 for a win, 1/2 for a draw, and 0 for a loss) evens out the anomalies except for Morphy. His “batting average” in the database is .844. No one else, as far as I can tell, even comes close. Fischer and Capablanca, for example, are both below .750. Steinitz comes in at about .667.

Again, though, what can we really learn from such statistics? Steinitz, for instance, played for some forty years--he didn’t win the “official” world championship until he was nearly fifty. And because he badly needed the income, he continued to play into his sixties, after both his physical health (he could no longer walk) and mental health (he died in an asylum) had deteriorated terribly. A quick glance at his results will show that a disproportionate number of his losses came in these later years. Few if any other former world champions have faced the necessity of competing under the burden of such a crippling old age (although certainly some faced other problems: Tal with his illness and Alekhine with his drinking come to mind). Alekhine and Capablanca died relatively young; Fischer and Morphy removed themselves from the game while still young. Lasker had a long career but apparently was quite vital at the end of it, as was Botvinnik.

I realize this discussion is out of place here, but the loss stats made me want to comment.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <Benzol: Steinitz' play was just a bit too provocative here.>

I would dare to humbly disagree with this. Steinitz Gambit was not used by its inventor as some psychological trick or provocation. In this seemingly bizzare opening Steinitz just consistently applied (in quite radical way) one of fundamental principles of his classical positional school of play. Steinitz and all his pre-hypermodern followers believed that the crucial factor of the game is control of the centre, optimally provided by central Pawns. He was deeply convinced that the side which prevails in the centre has the edge due to space advantage with chance to get better coordination and higher mobility of pieces. He saw the control of centre as more important than plain development of pieces and for achieving it he was prepared not only to sacrifice a Pawn, a few tempi or right of castling but also to use actively the King in defense of the centre. It should be noted that Steinitz was highly successful with this line (btw, in this game Steinitz also had the upper hand from the opening till the sudden failure in move 18) and despite the fact that modern theory evaluates this opening as somewhat dubious and that white definitely has some more promising opening lines than this one, I never saw any reliable tactical refutation of it from black side.

Nov-06-07  RookFile: Well, Terry McCracken - I suggest you play over the <twenty three> Steinitz losses with Black in the Evans Gambit, to better appreciate Steinitz in the Open Game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <RookFile> Many of these losses came as a consequence of Steinitz's pattern to stubbornly repeatedly defend on the board his own published opening ideas, in this case especially his 6...Qf6?! after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Ba5 6.0-0 (8 losses with Chigorin and Gunsberg). But as white with the same Evans he has quite impressive +16-1=1 according to this database.
Nov-06-07  RookFile: Sure, he was fine with White.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Honza Cervenka: <Benzol: Steinitz' play was just a bit too provocative here.> I would dare to humbly disagree with this.>

<Honza> I know better than to argue with your assessment.


Dec-26-07  Terry McCracken: < RookFile: Well, Terry McCracken - I suggest you play over the <twenty three> Steinitz losses with Black in the Evans Gambit, to better appreciate Steinitz in the Open Game. >

I'd suggest you learn some manners.

Do you think you're a better player than Steinitz was in the open game?

Dec-26-07  RookFile: <Terry McCracken: I'd suggest you learn some manners.

Do you think you're a better player than Steinitz was in the open game?>

The topic here is Steinitz. He had a demonstrated weakness with defending with the black pieces in these open games. Your 'argumentum ad hominem' is irrelevent to the fact that some of the weakest players of the day rolled Steinitz up with White in the Evans.

Dec-26-07  Terry McCracken: < RookFile: <Terry McCracken: I'd suggest you learn some manners. Do you think you're a better player than Steinitz was in the open game?>

The topic here is Steinitz. He had a demonstrated weakness with defending with the black pieces in these open games. Your 'argumentum ad hominem' is irrelevent to the fact that some of the weakest players of the day rolled Steinitz up with White in the Evans.>

No ad hominem, you lack manners and you haven't answered my question which imo is relevant.

Now if you want ad hominem, imo your assessment RookFile is that of a Rookie;)

The weakest players at that time were stronger than you:p

P.S. You failed to provide these links, not very courteous:) Any other GM's WC's you'd like to criticise? You seem to be fixated:o)

Dec-24-08  WhiteRook48: knight fork... wow... Steinitz loses. Even the best have their off days
Premium Chessgames Member
  enog: Missing comment here.
Steinitz was World Champion for 28 years
Aug-04-20  arteryking: looked up the game after the puzzle in The Woodpecker Method.
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