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Wilhelm Steinitz

Number of games in database: 1,051
Years covered: 1859 to 1899
Overall record: +468 -190 =152 (67.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 241 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Vienna Opening (107) 
    C25 C29 C28 C27 C26
 French Defense (81) 
    C00 C01 C11 C10 C02
 King's Gambit Accepted (69) 
    C39 C37 C38 C35 C33
 French (47) 
    C00 C11 C10 C13 C12
 King's Gambit Declined (43) 
    C30 C31 C32
 Evans Gambit (30) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (127) 
    C62 C70 C60 C64 C65
 Evans Gambit (74) 
    C52 C51
 Giuoco Piano (37) 
    C50 C53 C54
 King's Gambit Accepted (28) 
    C33 C39 C37 C38 C34
 Scotch Game (22) 
 Three Knights (16) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 1-0
   Steinitz vs Chigorin, 1892 1-0
   Dubois vs Steinitz, 1862 0-1
   Steinitz vs A Mongredien, 1862 1-0
   S Rosenthal vs Steinitz, 1873 0-1
   Steinitz vs A Mongredien, 1862 1-0
   Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886 0-1
   Steinitz vs Paulsen, 1870 1-0
   Steinitz vs A Sellman, 1885 1-0
   Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889)
   Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892)
   Steinitz - Lasker World Championship Match (1894)
   Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen - Steinitz (1866)
   Bird - Steinitz (1866)
   Vienna (1873)
   Steinitz - Martinez (1882)
   Steinitz - Blackburne (1876)
   Vienna (1882)
   2nd City Chess Club Tournament (1894)
   Baden-Baden (1870)
   London (1883)
   St. Petersburg 1895/96 (1895)
   Paris (1867)
   Vienna (1898)
   Hastings (1895)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   London (1899)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   The t_t Players: Staunton, Steinitz & Zukertort by fredthebear
   Match Steinitz! by docjan
   Match Steinitz! by amadeus
   The Dark Side by lonchaney
   World Champion - Steinitz (I.Linder/V.Linder) by nbabcox
   World Champion - Steinitz (I.Linder/V.Linder) by Qindarka
   Stupendous Play from Steinitz' Day by fredthebear
   Stupendous Play from Steinitz' Day by Okavango
   World championship games A-Z by kevin86
   The t_t Players: The 1900s by fredthebear
   1883 Beyond London lks SP by fredthebear
   the rivals 1 by ughaibu
   y1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by fredthebear
   1851 Beyond London Phil Max Isa by fredthebear

   Showalter vs Gossip, 1889
   J McConnell vs Steinitz, 1886
   Chigorin vs Gunsberg, 1889
   Showalter vs Taubenhaus, 1889
   M Weiss vs N MacLeod, 1889

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Wilhelm Steinitz
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(born May-14-1836, died Aug-12-1900, 64 years old) Austria (federation/nationality United States of America)
[what is this?]

Wilhelm Steinitz was the first official World Champion of chess.


The last of thirteen sons of a hardware retailer, he was born in Prague in what was then the Kingdom of Bohemia within the Austrian Empire and which is now within the Czech republic. Like his father he was a Talmudic scholar, but then he left to study mathematics in the Vienna Polytechnic. He eventually dropped out of the Polytechnic to play chess professionally. Soon after, he played in the London tournament of 1862, and then settled in London for over twenty years, making his living at the London Chess Club. He emigrated to the USA in 1883, taking out US citizenship, living in New York for the rest of his life, and changing his first name to “William”.


He was recognized as the world's leading player, and considered to be the world champion by many, after he defeated the then-acknowledged number one chess player in the world (now that Paul Morphy had retired), Adolf Anderssen, in a match in 1866 which he won by 8-6. However, it was not until his victory in the Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886) – where he sat beside a US flag - that he was recognised as the first undisputed world chess champion. He successfully defended his title three times in the Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889), the Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890), and in the Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892). In 1894, Emanuel Lasker won the crown from Steinitz by winning the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship (1894) and retained it by winning the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896).

Steinitz was an extremely successful match player. Between 1860 and 1897, he played 36 matches, winning every serious match with the exception of his two matches against Lasker. Some of the prominent players of the day that he defeated in match play other than in his world championship matches included Max Lange, Serafino Dubois, Frederic Deacon, Dionisio M Martinez, Joseph Henry Blackburne, Anderssen, Augustus Mongredien, Henry Edward Bird, Johannes Zukertort, George Henry Mackenzie, and Celso Golmayo Zupide.


Steinitz was more adept at winning matches than tournaments in his early years, a factor, which alongside his prolonged absences from competition chess after 1873, may have prevented more widespread recognition of his dominance of chess as world champion until the first “official” world championship match in 1886. Nevertheless, between 1859 and his death in 1900, the only tournament in which he did not win prize money was his final tournament in London in 1899. His wins include the Vienna Championship of 1861 which he won with 30/31 and earned him the nickname the “Austrian Morphy”, the London Championship of 1862, Dublin 1865 (equal first with George Alcock MacDonnell), London 1872, equal first at Vienna 1873 and 1882 (the latter was the strongest tournament to that time, and Steinitz had just returned from 9 years of absence from tournament chess), and first in the New York Championship of 1894. Other successes include 3rd and 2nd at the Vienna Championships of 1859 and 1860 respectively, 2nd at Dundee in 1867, 3rd in Paris in 1867, 2nd in Baden Baden in 1870, 2nd in London in 1883, 5th at the Hastings super tournament in 1895, 2nd at the sextuple round robin St Petersburg quadrangular tournament behind Lasker and ahead of Harry Nelson Pillsbury and Mikhail Chigorin, 6th at Nuremburg in 1896, and 4th at Vienna in 1898.

Steinitz’s Legacy

The extent of Steinitz’s dominance in world chess is evident from the fact that from 1866, when he beat Adolf Anderssen, to 1894, when he relinquished the world crown to Emanuel Lasker, Steinitz won all his matches, sometimes by wide margins. His worst tournament performance in that period was third place in Paris in 1867. This period of Steinitz’s career was closely examined by Chessmetrics exponent and advocate, Jeff Sonas, who wrote an article in 2005 in which he found that Steinitz was further ahead of his contemporaries in the 1870s than Robert James Fischer was in his peak period (1970–1972), that he had the third-highest total number of years as the world's top player, behind Emanuel Lasker and Garry Kasparov, and that he placed 7th in a comparison the length of time great players were ranked in the world's top three.

Despite his pre-eminence in chess for those decades in the late 19th century, Steinitz’s main contribution to chess was as its first true theoretician. He rose to prominence in the 1860s on the back of highly competent handling of the romantic attacking style of chess that had been popularised by Morphy and Anderssen and which characterised the style of the era. However, in the Vienna tournament of 1873, he introduced a new positional style of play which not only commenced his run of 25 consecutive high level victories, but profoundly transformed the way chess was played from shortly after that time, when its efficacy was embraced by the chess world. It enabled him to establish his complete dominance over his long time rival, Johannes Zukertort, and to easily win the first official match for the World Championship.

Lasker summarised Steinitz’s ideas as follows:

"In the beginning of the game ignore the search for combinations, abstain from violent moves, aim for small advantages, accumulate them, and only after having attained these ends search for the combination – and then with all the power of will and intellect, because then the combination must exist, however deeply hidden."

Although these ideas were controversial and fiercely debated for some years in what has become known as the <Ink Wars>, Lasker and the next generation of the world’s best players acknowledged their debt to him.

"He was a thinker worthy of a seat in the halls of a University. A player, as the world believed he was, he was not; his studious temperament made that impossible; and thus he was conquered by a player ..." - <Emanuel Lasker>.

"He understood more about the use of squares than did Morphy, and contributed a great deal more to chess theory.' - <Bobby Fischer>.

Sources: Wikipedia article: Wilhelm Steinitz and <jessicafischerqueen>'s YouTube documentary - in turn sourced mainly from <Kurt Landsberger's> biography "Bohemian Caesar."

Steinitz played on the following consultation teams: Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne, Steinitz / Boden, Burn / Steinitz / Zukertort, Steinitz / Allies, Steinitz / Zukertort, Schiffers / Steinitz, Steinitz / Chigorin, Steinitz / Blackburne & Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere.

Last updated: 2017-02-11 20:05:54

 page 1 of 43; games 1-25 of 1,051  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. K Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1231859ViennaC29 Vienna Gambit
2. Lenhof vs Steinitz 0-1451859Casual gameC23 Bishop's Opening
3. Steinitz vs Lenhof 1-0321859Casual gameC52 Evans Gambit
4. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0341859Casual gameC52 Evans Gambit
5. E Pilhal vs Steinitz 0-1211859Casual gameC53 Giuoco Piano
6. K Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1281859Casual gameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Steinitz vs F Nowotny 1-0311859Vienna CC tC55 Two Knights Defense
8. Steinitz vs NN 1-0121860UnknownC25 Vienna
9. Steinitz vs Harrwitz  0-1391860Casual gameB44 Sicilian
10. Steinitz vs NN  1-0201860Odds game000 Chess variants
11. Steinitz vs NN  1-0151860Casual gameC41 Philidor Defense
12. Steinitz vs NN  1-0161860Casual gameC50 Giuoco Piano
13. Steinitz vs NN  1-0181860Casual game000 Chess variants
14. NN vs Steinitz 0-1241860Casual gameC59 Two Knights
15. Harrwitz vs Steinitz  1-0251860Casual gameD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
16. K Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1311860ViennaC27 Vienna Game
17. Steinitz vs NN  1-0201860Casual gameC52 Evans Gambit
18. Steinitz vs E Pilhal 1-0171860ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
19. Steinitz vs NN  1-0241860Odds game000 Chess variants
20. H Strauss vs Steinitz 0-1311860Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
21. Steinitz vs H Strauss 1-0331860Casual gameC29 Vienna Gambit
22. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0261860Casual gameC55 Two Knights Defense
23. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0191860Casual gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
24. Steinitz vs Reiner 1-0321860Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
25. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0291860Casual gameC25 Vienna
 page 1 of 43; games 1-25 of 1,051  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Steinitz wins | Steinitz loses  

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Premium Chessgames Member

<Jean Defuse> Very good catch.

Steinitz vs O Loebbecke, 1896 has exactly the same score as P Evtifeev vs V Omeliansky, 1905 .

Obviously one of the games has the wrong players, or even worse- the game was played by still other people, or it is a composition or a hoax of some sort.

Certainly this state of affairs is <nonsense>, as you say.

May-05-21  Chessist: Deutsches Wochenschach, No. 18/19, 10.05.1896, p.149: Steinitz-A. Löbbecke, simul vs 21, Magdeburg, 26.04.1896, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 ... 19.Ba3 Rf2 0-1. The one score has to be deleted, the other has to be shortened. Black was obviously not Oskar Löbbecke, but presumably August.
Premium Chessgames Member

<Chessist> very good discovery you made.

So now:

Steinitz vs August Loebbecke, 1896


P Evtifeev vs V Omeliansky, 1905


Premium Chessgames Member
  Gottschalk: <Jean Defuse> Ok, I made an error. Sorry for my mistake.
Premium Chessgames Member

<Gottschalk> Possibly might you list your source for the game you posted? That might avoid future replication of the error.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gottschalk: <jessicafischerqueen>Your suggestion is quite reasonable and practical. I would love to be able to do it, however it's been a lot of time that I downloaded some PGN's to my PC.
I remember that it was a German chess website with chess curiosities, where the author used his own name in the URL, but I don't remember who he was and the site got off the webspace. Please, forgive me.
Premium Chessgames Member

<Gottschalk> No problem, in fact that is helpful new information.

The more data we put in this thread the better.

May-29-21  The Rocket: Weakest World Champion, but sharp tactician.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: <The Rocket: Weakest World Champion, but sharp tactician.>

He is #15 here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: “Weakest World Champion” is an utterly ridiculous choice of phrasing.

I know I am hardly alone in feeling this reaction. He’s Steinitz. If you want to compare him to the other Greats (with a capital G,) then find a few more words, please!
May-29-21  nimh: <then find a few more words, please!>

The most inferior among them?

On absolute level he sure is due to rising level of play but in terms of greatness or superiority to contemporaries you can easily name several ones in turn inferior to him.

Sep-27-21  Albertan: Visiting Steintz and Lasker at their final resting places:

Mar-22-22  Polonia: 4/1. Willhelm ( William ) Steinitz 1872 - 1894 (Defeated Zukertort in 1872, the 1866 match should not count against Anderssen, because at that time Zukertort was stronger from Anderssen, beating him in 1865)
Apr-02-22  Polonia: courtesy of chess champ:

wilhelm steinitz was wrong to claim championship in 1866 when he beat anderssen, because at the time zukertort was champion!

Adolf Anderssen 1851 - 1858, 1860 - 1865, 1868 - 1871 (23 years on top) Won all matches against Zukertort, except for the 1865 and 1871 match, Steinitz defeated Anderssen in 1866 but Anderssen was not the champ. Co Champions: Paulson drew Anderessen in 1860 match, 5 to 5, one draw, Kolisch did it in 1862 match, 3 to 3 with 2 draws. Anderssen also drew Daniel Harrwitz in 1848 match, 5 to 5, this could be considered the first world championship match since at least 10 serious games were played! In 1860 he drew 11 game match vs Harrwitz. In 1861 he won 9 game match vs Harrwitz. In 1862 he drew 8 game match vs Paulson! In 1864 he also drew Suhle, 3 to 3 with 2 draws. He lost a match in 1865 to Zukertort, regained the title in 1868. Since 1848 match was very competitive and Anderssen defeated everybody who met him, he should be considered the best player of his time.

THIS IS AMAZING FEAT FOR 1893: GERGE MARCO VS CARL SCHLECTHER, I WANT TO SEE THOSE GAMES, <CHESSGAMES, GET BUSY> In match play he drew with Carl Schlechter (+0, =10, -0) in 1893

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: (New Orleans) Times-Democrat, January 5th 1883, p.2:

<Mr. Steinitz tells this anecdote as an amusing instance in his career: He once encountered a very careful and studious player and early in the game captured his queen, and then won the game off hand. The careful and studious player looked very much surprised and, after much reflection, said: "Mr. Steinitz, wherein did I make my mistake?" Mr. Steinitz blandly replied: "You lost the game when you lost your queen." "I didn't lose my queen," indignantly responded the careful man. "I sacrificed her to prevent you doubling my pawns!">

Apr-30-22  Albertan: Taurus and their strategy:

May-17-22  Albertan: Wilhelm Steinitz,thé thinker and the dawning of chess classical age:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: In reference to the Hastings tournament incident, the game was not adjourned as stated in the article. I happened to be present on that occasion, and what actually occurred was this: Herr Bardeleben, perceiving that his game was lost, quitted his seat without a word, leaving his time clock to run on, and thereby losing the game by forfeit. Steinitz sat at the board until the hour had expired, intently studying the position, and when he was told by a member of the committee that he was entitled to claim the game by forfeit he simply said, "I never announce mate, but as I intend to place this game in competition for the brilliancy prize I announce mate in seven moves." He immediately proceeded, to the great delight of the onlookers, to demonstrate the not at all obvious mate, with all its variations. He displayed no disappointment, " bitter " or otherwise. Nor would any chess player be likely to express disappointment in similar happy circumstances. Nearly all the writers of obituaries of Mr. Steinitz appear to assume not only that he was insane but that chess made him so. As a matter of fact, it is doubtful if he was insane. In his youth, he had an attack of sunstroke, which in later years often affected his head. It is not unlikely that as he became old and feeble, physically, these periodical attacks became more aggravated. After his detention for several weeks at Moscow, as the result of an attack of serious nervous excitement, after the conclusion of his return match with Lasker, the Russian doctors concluded that he was not insane, and New York specialists certified similarly less than three months ago. But, even assuming that he died insane, there is really nothing to prove that chess was the cause of it. His was a most sensitive temperament, and no doubt the loss of the championship after holding it for so many years affected him greatly. But with his disposition, he would have grieved equally if he had held any other prominent position in the world and if he had been suddenly hurled from his high pedestal. Yours, 40., L. VAN VLIET. Simpson's Divan, 101, Strand, August 17.

Morning Post - Saturday 18th August 1900, p.3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: An interesting review of Steinitz's accomplishments by a contemporary.

THE LATE MR. STEINITZ. TO THE EDITOR OF THB MORNING POST. Sir, The short leader on the late Mr. W. Steinitz, published in the Morning Post on Thursday, is well calculated to make chess players tremble for their own safety. The curse of the game, the article states, is in its fascination. But in what respect, may I ask, is the game of chess more dangerously fascinating than, say, billiards or whist? The strain of defending the championship for thirty years, the author of the article opines, must have been enormous. Would it surprise him to know that during the entire period of twenty-eight years that Steinitz held the championship he probably engaged in only one contest in which he really experienced any- thing like a great strain, and that only when his race as champion was run— l am referring to his last match with Lasker played at Moscow about three years ago? For the rest, all the chess that Steinitz played affected him either mentally or physically little more than if he had played whist or dominoes. He was especially noted during his career as being a player who possessed extraordinary stamina and could tire out almost any opponent if he had no better way of beating him.

It is also an error to suppose that Steinitz was a slave to chess. Compared with some other famous experts he played very little. For a number of years he scarcely played at all, and I have it on his own authority that when he was about to take part in matches with other masters he had more than once to pay strong players to play with him for practice in order to enable him to recover sight of the board, which he had lost through long abstention from actual play. For every game at chess Steinitz ever played Mr. Blackburne has probably played 50 and Mr. Bird 250, and for every game at chess Steinitz every played he probably took part in 100 games at dominoes or cards. So much, therefore, for the supposition that he was a slave to chess.

Jun-07-23  Nosnibor: The following game was played at the Cigar Divan, London 1864. In a review of the game Blackburne stated "The opening moves have been played by Mr. De Vere with great skill and judgement and he has now established such an excellent position ,that with ordinary care he ought certainly have won the game" (Stated after White`s 11th move.) White: C. De Vere Black: W.Steinitz. Giuoco Piano 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.0-0 Nxe4 6.d4 exd4 7.cxd4 Be7 8.d5 Nd6 9.dxc6 Nxc4 10.Qd4! bxc6 11.Qxg7!? ( 11.Qxc4! was required) Rf8 12.Re1 d5 13.Bh6 Be6 14.Ng5 (14.Nd4 was better) 14...Bxg5! 15.Bxg5? 15...Qd6 16.f4 Qc5+ 17.Kh1 Ne3 18.b4? Qc2 19.Bh6 0-0-0 20.Na3 Qd3! 21.Qg3 d4 22.Bxf8 Rxf8 23.Nb1 Bd5 24.a4 Nxg2 25.Kg1 Nxe1 26.Qxe1 Rg8+ and Black won 1-0
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Why not post that here? De Vere vs Steinitz, 1864
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <QOTD: Fame, I have already. Now I need the money. --- Steinitz>


Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: "The glory I can spare, but I need the prize money" is the quote attributed to Steinitz by Fred Reinfeld in 1952, so perhaps a 50/50 chance of it being a fabrication?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: Steinitz in Glasgow, evidencing the hardships of professional chess at the time:

<Mr J.D Chambers, of Cardiff, sends the under-noted reminiscences, which have been told here before years ago, in other words, but may bear repetition. The contrast between the first appearance of Capablanca here and Steinitz is enormous! “Capa” was “spick and span", and evidenced material prosperity and neatness

My First Meeting with Steinitz!

'I remember, I remember!
In the days of long ago!'

One day after the Glasgow Chess Club had moved to Lang’s, in Queen Street (about 1880), l was having a friendly chat with the young lady in charge downstairs (the club was upstairs) when a stranger with a bashed hat, greasy tie and collar, frayed overcoat, and all-round of "stoney-broke’’ and disreputable appearance came in, and addressed the young in lingo, beyond her ken. Judging his appearance, she classed him a tramp, and in these few words gave him a settler! "Awa’ out of this my mannia; we have nothing for you the day."

Instead of obeying, the supposed tramp launched more words at her, and with much spluttering continued to make her understand that his name was William Steinitz and that he came there by the invitation of Sheriff Spons. These names, like magic, changed affairs. The young lady looked glum, and the writer seized the stranger’s hand, shook it ‘‘con animo", and expressed unbounded delight meeting the world’s chess champion, stood a drink at the “Auld Kirk,” and escorted him up to the club-room, where he received a welcome from Sheriff Spens. Fyfe, Tait, Gilchrist, and other members there, that a King might be proud of.

This was his first visit to Scotland. He remained a week with us, giving a number of displays simultaneous and otherwise, and to quote a well-known line by his marvelous skill, was a case of "Dad and Devils", for he made "Hares of us all". He had the time of his life while with us, and financially was much benefited. The Sheriff gave him a brand new overcoat. I stood him a hat, and the members all did something handsome for him. His style was mathematical and remarkably careful. The “Ruy Lopez” microbe had him stung — at that date of chess Queen’s Gambits and pawn openings were rare — and now look at us! “Tempora mutantur... En passant I may mention later I often met Steinitz in simultaneous play and invariably drew. I often wondered if these results were through my skill, or was he making slyly a little payment for tho days of auld long syne in Glasgow? I think we all agree that in his day Steinitz was justly the champion of the world’s chess, and we also all agree that for beautiful combinations and artistic chess he was nowhere compared to our dear dead Blackburne, British champion."


Source: "Linlithgowshire Gazette (Scotland), Friday 2nd January 1925, p.4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: See Glasgow Chess Club (kibitz #2). It wasn't his first visit to Scotland; he'd visited Dundee and Glasgow in 1867.
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