Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Jozsef Szen
Number of games in database: 60
Years covered: 1836 to 1857

Overall record: +27 -23 =8 (53.4%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 2 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (6) 
    B44 B20 B40 B30
 Ruy Lopez (5) 
    C64 C65 C63 C67
 Giuoco Piano (4) 
With the Black pieces:
 King's Gambit Accepted (9) 
    C39 C33 C37
 Evans Gambit (6) 
 Giuoco Piano (4) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Szen vs Anderssen, 1851 1-0
   Szen vs S Newham, 1851 1-0
   Anderssen vs Szen, 1851 0-1
   Szen vs La Bourdonnais, 1836 1-0
   Szen vs F Slous, 1836 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   London (1851)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   London 1851 by MissScarlett

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Jozsef Szen
Search Google for Jozsef Szen

(born Jul-09-1805, died Jan-13-1857, 51 years old) Hungary
[what is this?]
Jozsef Szen was born in Pest on July 9, 1805. He learned chess from his uncle. He obtained a law degree and later became the municipal archivist for the city of Pest. He was given the nickname of the Hungarian Philidor. In 1836, Szen beat Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais with 13 wins and 12 losses, no draws in Paris. La Bourdonnais gave odds of pawn and two moves. In 1839, he founded the Budapest Chess Club (Pesti Sakk-kor). In Berlin in 1839, Szen lost a match to Karl Mayet with 2 wins, 3 losses, and 1 draw. Between 1842 and 1846, he headed a team of correspondence players that beat a Paris team with 2 wins and no losses. The Hungarian team introduced the Hungarian Defense, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Be7. The suppression of the Hungarian revolution of 1848-1849 brought with it a ban on all club activities, including chess clubs. The ban was in effect until 1864.

In the London (1851) tournament, Szen defeated Samuel Newham with two wins in the first round. In the 2nd round, he and Adolf Anderssen agreed that the winner of the match between the two, if he eventually won first place, give 1/3 of his winnings to the loser (they also agreed to share a hotel room). Anderssen beat Szen in the second round with 4 wins and 2 losses. In the 3rd round, Szen defeated Bernhard Horwitz (a German living in England) with 4 wins. Anderssen took first place and paid Szen 1/3 of his winnings. In the 4th round, Szen defeated Hugh Alexander Kennedy with 4 wins and 1 draw. Szen took 5th place (behind Anderssen, Marmaduke Wyvill, Elijah Williams and Howard Staunton). In London in 1853, he lost a match with Daniel Harrwitz with 1 win, 3 losses, and 1 draw.

Wikipedia article: Jozsef Szen

 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 64  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Szen vs La Bourdonnais 1-0431836Odds match000 Chess variants
2. Szen vs F Slous ½-½481836LondonC51 Evans Gambit
3. Szen vs La Bourdonnais  0-1411836Odds game000 Chess variants
4. H H Boncourt vs Szen  0-1291836MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
5. Szen vs H H Boncourt 0-1321836MatchC01 French, Exchange
6. Szen vs H H Boncourt 0-1361836MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
7. F Slous vs Szen  321837Casual gameD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
8. F Slous vs Szen  0-1231837Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
9. F Slous vs Szen  ½-½461837Casual gameD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
10. Szen vs F Slous 0-1521837Casual gameC53 Giuoco Piano
11. G Walker vs Szen 0-1361837Casual gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
12. Szen vs G Walker ½-½391837ParisB20 Sicilian
13. Szen vs Von der Lasa 1-0551839BerlinC53 Giuoco Piano
14. Bledow vs Szen  0-1271839Szen in BerlinC53 Giuoco Piano
15. Szen vs Bledow 0-1671839Szen in BerlinC53 Giuoco Piano
16. Szen vs P Bilguer  0-1621839Szen in BerlinC53 Giuoco Piano
17. Von der Lasa vs Szen 1-0271839Szen in BerlinC37 King's Gambit Accepted
18. Mayet vs Szen  ½-½541839Szen in BerlinC45 Scotch Game
19. Mayet vs Szen  1-0211839Szen in BerlinD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
20. Szen vs Mayet  0-1411839Szen in BerlinC45 Scotch Game
21. Von der Lasa vs Szen  0-1271839Szen in BerlinC45 Scotch Game
22. Loewenthal vs Szen 1-0351842BudapestC53 Giuoco Piano
23. Loewenthal vs Szen 0-1371842BudapestC53 Giuoco Piano
24. F Erkel vs Szen 1-0331845BudapestC51 Evans Gambit
25. H Kennedy vs Szen ½-½571851LondonB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 64  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Szen wins | Szen loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-09-09  Knight13: He looks very dangerous (according to the picture).

And he was... on a 64 squared board!

Happy birthday.

Jul-09-09  kramputz: In Hungarian the word : "szen" means;
Jul-09-10  wordfunph: <WhiteRook48: and it's pronounced SANE what the...? I am InSzen>'re Szen!

Jul-09-12  Infohunter: <kramputz: In Hungarian the word : "szen" means; coal>

Actually that's "szén", just to be crystal clear; <cg> has this master listed as "Szen" simply because their software doesn't support upper ASCII characters in their hyperlinks. If there were such a word in Hungarian as "szen" it would be pronounced much like the first syllable of our word "Senate", whereas "szén" is indeed pronounced much like our word "sane", as alluded to in several prior postings here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Annie K.: Pronunciation audio now uploaded. ;)
Sep-14-12  Karpova: Early occurrence of the term 'Grandmaster': <Die stärksten Schachspieler in Pesth sind gegenwärtig, den Grossmeister unseres Spieles natürlich inbegriffen, nach alphabetischer Ordnung die Herren: Erkel, Hirschbaum, Innocent, Kapdebo, Professor Recsy, Rosenthal, Strauss und Hauptmann Tanarky.>

From page 101 of the March issue of the 1855 'Wiener Schachzeitung'

This might be interesting for Edward Winter also. The <Grossmeister> in question is obviously Szen, that's why I post it here.

Jan-09-15  Avun Jahei: If you mean <s> in Hungarian, you must write <sz>. For if you write <s> you mean <sh>. Hungarian Orthography is very easy, not like the English one.
May-08-15  offramp: He wrote a great book on motorcycle maintenance.
Jul-09-15  Poulsen: <offramp><He wrote a great book on motorcycle maintenance.>

Yeah, right, a man, that died the same year, that principle of free piston engines was patented - 10 years before an engine build after this principle was shown at a Paris fair in 1867 - and 27 years before the first selfpropelled petrol bicycle was even designed in 1884 - writes about proper motorcycle maintenance?

What a visionary man ....

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <offramp>'s humorous comment refers to the Robert M Pirsig novel <Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance>.
Jul-09-15  Birthday Boy: Happy Birthday!! Jozsef Szen!
Jul-09-15  Poulsen: <perfidious> I was aware of that ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: It showed.....
Nov-19-15  zanzibar: I'm confused about Karpova's reference for the usage of GM...

Die stärksten Schachspieler in Pesth sind gegenwärtig, den Grossmeister unseres Spieles natürlich inbegriffen, nach alphabetischer Ordnung die Herren: Erkel, Hirschbaum, Innocent, Kapdebo, Professor Recsy, Rosenthal, Strauss und Hauptmann Tanarky. >

The strongest chess player in Pesth are present, the grandmaster of our game, of course, included, according to alphabetical order of the gentlemen: Erkel, Deer Tree, Innocent, Kapdebo, Professor Recsy, Rosenthal, Strauss and captain Tanarky. >

This must be a google translation issue. But I read the GM label as applying to all the named players. Which would make it fairly generously applied(?).

* * * * *

Here's the full passage:

<Aus Pesth erhalten wir die betrübende Mittheilung, dass dort eine bedauerliche Lauheit an die Stelle des einst regen Schacheifers getreten sei, dass überhaupt wenig gespielt, und die Zeit, in welcher «las einst hochberühmte ungarische Triumvirat sein siegreiches Banner entfaltete, längst als der Mythe angehörig betrachtet werde. Herr Szen sei übrigens noch immer thätig, und führe — nicht als primus tnter pares — sondern als unbesiegter Held das Schachscepter. Wenn wir auch annehmen wollen, dass dieses Bild mit zu trüben Farben gemalt ist (und wir können es aus eigener Erfahrung bestätigen, dass Pesth sich auch heute noch bedeutender Schachkräfte zu erfreuen hat), so müssen wir es doch jedenfalls beklagen, dass Niemand sich dort, wie uns brieflich gemeldet wird, die Mühe nimmt, die interessanteren Partieen zu notiren. Es gibt deren gewiss, wie es uns überhaupt scheinen will, dass die Schachzustände der benachbarten Metropole nicht im Allgemeinen, sondern eben nur mit Itücksicht auf die frühere Glanzperiode sich verschlimmert haben. Die stärksten Schachspieler in Pesth sind gegenwärtig, den Grossmeister unseres Spieles natürlich inbegriffen, nach alphabetischer Ordnung die Herren: Erkel, Hirschmann, Innocent, Kapdebo, Professor Recsy, Rosenthal, Strauss und Hauptmann Tanarky.>

<From Pesth we get the distressing communication of that there is a deplorable lukewarmness had taken the place of the formerly bustling Chess zeal that ever played little, and the time in which "las once highly famous Hungarian triumvirate his victorious banner unfurled, long as the myth belonging would be considered. Mr. Scenes is incidentally still active, and lead - not as primus tnter pares - but as the undefeated hero Schachscepter. If we shall suppose that this image is painted with too gloomy colors (and we can confirm it from their own experience that Pesth has to enjoy even more important chess forces even today), so we need it but in any case complain that no one there is , as reported to us by letter, taking the trouble to notiren the more interesting Partieen. There are the certain, as it seems to us ever wants the chess states of the neighboring metropolis have worsened not in general, but just with Itücksicht to the earlier golden age itself. The strongest chess player in Pesth are present, the grandmaster of our game, of course, included, according to alphabetical order of the gentlemen: Erkel, Hirschmann, Innocent, Kapdebo, Professor Recsy, Rosenthal, Strauss and captain Tanarky>

Clearly the google version needs improvement.

Here's the original WSZ:

Nov-19-15  zanzibar: Wiki also gives a Szen position, a defense for R+B vs R:

(White to move, game is draw)

click for larger view

8 /2r5/8/1R6/4B3/4K3/8/3k4 w - - 0 1

<Szén position

József Szén discovered the Szén position, a defensive drawing position. The kings are opposite in an L-shape and the weaker side's rook defends on the side of his king that has more room (Benko 2007:99). Szén's position is the most important for over-the-board players. Compared to the Philidor Position, the kings are not opposite each other and the defending rook can prevent checkmate. The position is a draw only if there is enough room for the defending king on the side with the rooks (Nunn 2002:183–84).

An example of this defense being used in a game is this 1982 one between József Pintér and Yuri Razuvayev.[7] After 88 moves, the position had a rook and bishop versus a rook. The diagram shows the position after 101. Kd1!, reaching the Szén position. On the 132nd move, White reached a Szén position for the fourth time. The game was drawn on the 138th move (Benko 2007:98–99).>

It would be a little interesting to know if Szen actually found this defense in a game, or in a study. I guess the question is how did his name get associated with the position?

Nov-19-15  zanzibar: As far as English spelling being difficult - there can be no argument...

I blame the French!

<By the 11th Century, English spelling was merely erratic. Within 400 years, it had become chaotic. The root cause was the arrival of the Normans and a cadre of French scribes who wrote official documents.


Nov-19-15  zanzibar: <MillBase> has 29 of his games under <Szen, Joseph>.

None of which have a R+B vs R endgame.

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: Edward Winter quotes several sources (not always to their advantage!) about this player, including:

<Mongrédien’s opinion of Szén, from page 274 of the June 1888 BCM (an article entitled ‘Chessplayers I Have Known’):

‘With this sturdy Hungarian player I only had a few games during his short visit to London in 1851, and I came off second best. His style was about the slowest, the heaviest, and the most tedious that I ever came across, and the man himself was eccentric, ungenial and dreamy. His great power of abstraction, however, enabled him to concentrate all his attention on the game, and he was great at unravelling the knot of an intricate position.’ >

CN #5573

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: A communication from <Chess Player's Chronicle v12 (1851)> finds Szen asking to participate in the London (1851) tounament.


We resume, as far as the pressure for space admits, the extracts from communications on the subject of this assemblage, with which we have been favoured by the most eminent Chess players abroad.

From Mr. Szen, of Pesth.

Pesth, March 8th, 1851.

Honoured Sir,—I must apologize for writing to you in German, as you may not perhaps be sufficiently master of that language to make this out without the help of a translator; but in truth my knowledge of English, which I have been studying only about two months, is insufficient for the purpose. I take the liberty of addressing myself to you as the representative of the present renowned Chess Players of England, and of requesting the favour of your communicating my proposal to the Honourable Committee of the Chess Tournament. Since I left London, I have often called to mind the friendly reception which I met with, and the very pleasant two months that I spent there. Since that period, I have been to a great extent deprived of practice in my favourite game, partly through the press of official business, and partly through a want of firstrate competitors. Hence, although perhaps not a, weaker player than I was in 1837, I have done little in the way of improvement. I do not envy others, however, the knowledge they have acquired, as I know that the acquisition of such knowledge requires much both of labour and perseverance, and I am willing to give superior talent its due honour.

When the news reached me of the approaching Exhibition of the World's Industry, and of the Chess Tournament connected with it, there arose within me an irrepressible desire to tread once more the soil of England, whose inhabitants have already realized such truly noble ideas, that they may with right and justice sing " Rule Britannia." Then awoke in me also my old passion for Chess, and this so strongly, that if the Committee, having regard to my slight reputation, think me worthy of it, I shall consider myself happy and honoured in co-operating according to the best of my abilities in the great World contest. Nothing but a refusal of leave of absence or passport shall prevent me, but that I hope to obtain easily on the ground of former promises. As soon as I have the honour to receive your answer, I will make my application, in order to be able, by the 26th of April, to make known the participation of my humble self in the contest.

Meanwhile I commend myself with the greatest respect to your friendship, and to that of all the gentlemen whom I had the pleasure to meet in London, and to the favour and kindness of the honourable managing Committee, and am with the highest regard,

Your devoted servant, Joseph Szen.

Despite the rust, Szen did rather well, placing 4/16 in the <CG> leaderboard with a score of 12.5/17. He didn't make it pass the 2nd round in the knockout format, where he met Anderssen. Of course, nobody beat Anderssen in the pair matches in that tournament!

Nov-20-15  zanzibar: The photograph must come from wiki, where it's attributed to a reproduction of a reproduction in a book.

Anybody have any idea what that book might be?

Nov-21-15  offramp: How does one pronounce his surname? User: Annie K has given us some clues (at Biographer Bistro (kibitz #12514) ).

<S > Like a long hissing S, like a snake with a problem.

<Z> A 17th century Castillian "J", but without the hoo-hoo. So it's esentially a basso profundo version of Columbo's "One more thing".

<E> This is exactly like the first <U> in <Cthulhu Fthagn>, but a lot deeper.

<N> A double N, in fact, like the Spanish nay-nay.

So his surname in its totality would be


I am ignoring the fifteen glottal stops.

Nov-21-15  NeverAgain: You're putting too much Black Flag in your beer, OR.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <NeverAgain> He likes it that way.
Jan-14-18  zborris8: Hungary's first world-class master had a measured elo of 2450, and was an endgame expert. There's a footnote to one of his games that is worth reading from <Karpova> as it gives insight into his personal character, and happened during the tournament in London (1851), which was the equivalent of the World Championships for its day:
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <In the London (1851) tournament, Szen defeated Samuel Newham with two wins in the first round. In the 2nd round, he and Adolf Anderssen agreed that the winner of the match between the two, if he eventually won first place, give 1/3 of his winnings to the loser (they also agreed to share a hotel room).>

Anyone else thinking what I'm thinking!?

search thread:   
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific player only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!
Home | About | Login | Logout | F.A.Q. | Profile | Preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | New Kibitzing | Chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | Privacy Notice | Contact Us

Copyright 2001-2021, Chessgames Services LLC