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Wilhelm Steinitz
Number of games in database: 901
Years covered: 1859 to 1899

Overall record: +454 -191 =148 (66.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 108 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Vienna Opening (95) 
    C25 C29 C28 C27 C26
 French Defense (75) 
    C00 C11 C01 C02 C13
 King's Gambit Accepted (53) 
    C39 C37 C38 C34 C33
 French (46) 
    C00 C11 C10 C13 C12
 King's Gambit Declined (33) 
    C30 C31
 Evans Gambit (25) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (125) 
    C62 C70 C60 C64 C65
 Evans Gambit (72) 
    C52 C51
 Giuoco Piano (33) 
    C50 C53 C54
 King's Gambit Accepted (25) 
    C33 C39 C38 C34 C37
 Scotch Game (21) 
 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 Mongredien, 1863 1-0
   Steinitz vs Mongredien, 1862 1-0
   Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886 0-1
   Steinitz vs Paulsen, 1870 1-0
   S Rosenthal vs Steinitz, 1873 0-1
   Steinitz vs Rock, 1863 1-0
   Steinitz vs Bird, 1866 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)
   Steinitz - Zukertort (1872)
   Steinitz - Blackburne (1876)
   Vienna (1873)
   Vienna (1882)
   2nd City Chess Club Tournament (1894)
   Schiffers - Steinitz (1896)
   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?]
   Match Steinitz! by amadeus
   The t_t Players: Staunton, Steinitz & Zukertort by fredthebear
   The Dark Side by lonchaney
   World Champion - Steinitz (I.Linder/V.Linder) by Qindarka
   The t_t Players: The 1900s by fredthebear
   World championship games A-Z by kevin86
   1851 Beyond London by fredthebear
   1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by fredthebear
   the rivals 1 by ughaibu
   Stupendous Play from Steinitz' Day by fredthebear
   Wilhelm Steinitz's Best Games by Nimzophile
   Wilhelm Steinitz's Best Games by KingG
   Match Chigorin! by amadeus
   Max Euwe - From Steinitz to Fischer, Part 1 by demirchess

   Showalter vs Gossip, 1889
   J McConnell vs Steinitz, 1886
   Chigorin vs Gunsberg, 1889
   Showalter vs Taubenhaus, 1889
   Max 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 37; games 1-25 of 902  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Lenhof vs Steinitz 0-1451859ViennaC23 Bishop's Opening
2. Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1231859ViennaC29 Vienna Gambit
3. Steinitz vs Lenhof 1-0321859ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
4. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0341859ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
5. E Pilhal vs Steinitz 0-1211859ViennaC53 Giuoco Piano
6. Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1281859ViennaC38 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Steinitz vs F Nowotny 1-0311859ch Vienna Chess ClubC55 Two Knights Defense
8. Steinitz vs E Jenay 0-1321860Vienna m1A13 English
9. Steinitz vs H Strauss 1-0291860ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
10. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0191860ViennaC37 King's Gambit Accepted
11. Steinitz vs E Jenay 1-0331860Vienna m1A13 English
12. Steinitz vs Reiner 1-0191860ViennaC51 Evans Gambit
13. Steinitz vs Reiner 1-0321860Vienna m4C51 Evans Gambit
14. E Jenay vs Steinitz 0-1351860Vienna m1C44 King's Pawn Game
15. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0261860ViennaC55 Two Knights Defense
16. H Strauss vs Steinitz 0-1311860Vienna m3C51 Evans Gambit
17. E Jenay vs Steinitz 1-0221860Vienna m1C53 Giuoco Piano
18. Steinitz vs H Strauss 1-0331860Vienna m3C29 Vienna Gambit
19. Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1311860ViennaC27 Vienna Game
20. Steinitz vs NN 1-0121860UnknownC25 Vienna
21. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0231860Vienna m2C44 King's Pawn Game
22. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0291860ViennaC25 Vienna
23. Reiner vs Steinitz 0-1181860ViennaC44 King's Pawn Game
24. Steinitz vs NN 1-0151861Casual Game000 Chess variants
25. Steinitz vs NN 1-0311861ch Vienna Chess ClubC30 King's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 37; games 1-25 of 902  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
  Telemus: <JD: The two Harrwitz games played probably in the 'WSG knockout tournament 1860/1861'> Rumors spread the fastest.

<JD: The 'Telegraf games' do not look trustworthy. For example: <"N" vs Steinitz> = Reiner vs Steinitz, 1860>

Without the 'not' I understand the sentence at least, but even then I would say: it is rather the other way around.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jean Defuse: ...

Harrwitz gegen Steinitz und Hamppe

Im 2. Heft des II. Bandes von Telegraf. Illustrirte Familienblätter [13.1.1861] finden sich in den Spalten <91 und 92> die Notationen von zwei zwischen Harrwitz und Steinitz ausgetragenen Partien, ohne dass daraus erhellt, aus welchem Anlass sie gespielt wurden. Eine Gesamtschau der zum Wettkampf Harrwitz-Hamppe zusammengetragenen Details ergibt nach Auffassung des Autors, dass das Turnier der Wiener Schachgesellschaft von 16 Teilnehmern im K.O.-Modus („in Gängen“, wie man damals formulierte) ausgetragen wurde, in dem Steinitz im Halbfinale gegen Harrwitz verlor und schließlich nach Hamppe und Harrwitz den dritten Rang belegte. Dass auch im Finale zwischen Hamppe und Harrwitz zwei Partien absolviert wurden, deutet daraufhin, dass, anders als noch im Turnier des Vorjahres, generell nicht jeweils eine einzige Partie entscheiden sollte, sondern dass stattdessen zwei Partien mit wechselndem Anzug gespielt wurden. <Die beiden folgenden Begegnungen bilden demnach eines der beiden Halbfinals>.

Peter Anderberg (Caissa 1_2018, p. 16)


Jan-07-19  Chessist:

page 6 / 16 resp.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jean Defuse: ...

Another example:

Telegraf 1861, column 237 <Steinitz vs "R."> = Steinitz vs Meitner, 1860


Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: <Rumors> As Anderberg wrote: there is not the slightest hint about the occasion at which the two games were played. Nevertheless, he states later with some certainty, that these are the two games from the semi-final Harrwitz vs Steinitz. I think this is one possibility, but I consider it as completely unproved.

We know that Harrwitz spent many months in Vienna and he offered to play different formats. So, there was enough of (other) opportunities for these games to be played. Very little is known about the knockout tourney. Not even how many games or wins were necessary to advance.(*) Moreover, we do not have any evidence that Harrwitz played Steinitz in the semi-final! Steinitz's third place is only known from his pen in 1876, and he did not mention to whom he lost.

I have praised Anderberg here often, but I think his certainty about these two games is a weak spot in this great article. And the consequences are already visible in the the text at edochess: no doubts mentioned, new facts generated!

(*) The two games from the final Hamppe vs Harrwitz were also the final two games of their match, which stood 5:5 at this moment and was a match for seven wins. This match is given by Anderberg as an example on how easily games and results can be misinterpreted ...

Jan-08-19  Chessist: Anderberg wrote: "nach Auffassung des Autors" = "according to the Author's opinion". He does not state anything "with some certainty", therefore I consider your criticism not justified.
May-05-19  KnightVBishop:

greater than Steinitz?

look at the problems he came up with

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Steinitz v 'L' on here is Steinitz vs NN, 1861

It appears originally this game was posted here as being played in London.

The last post in that thread corrects that adding:

"Bachmann (who he?) names his victim "L.",so this may have been Herr Lang."

Steinitz vs NN, 1861 (kibitz #41)

There follows in German (rough translation) This game was played in a pre-Steinitz style. The same swashbuckling we (or most of us) adopt when first starting out.

(we are then meant to grow out of this stage and become proper chess players...I'm 67 and am still waiting to grow out of this stage....Looking forward to it!)


May-05-19  sneaky pete: Nicht who he? aber Ludwig:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***


I could not see Bachmann as a source in the previous posts.



May-05-19  KnightVBishop: Was Theophilius Thompson a threat to Steinitz?
May-14-19  Strategsson: I'm playing a tournament in Prague this summer. I will make sure to take a trip to the house where Steinitz grew up.
May-14-19  SkySports: The "notable games" section has disappeared from the profile of the first WC too. I had already highlighted the same issue for other important players (Gligoric, Kotov, Velimirovic...).

Now I'm almost sure this is due to a software glitch; it is impossible that Steinitz games do not appear in enough user collections...

May-14-19  SkySports: Lasker too!
Emanuel Lasker
Sep-06-19  SkySports: Notable games are back. Phew...
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: The Best Player ever!
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Now booking a prop on the matchup between Steinitz The GOAT and <WorstPlayerEver>, with the ghost of the champion running at -700.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: <perfidious>

Ok, but I will choose Blackburne as my secondant then.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Btw I just discovered Steinitz wrote a book.

The Modern Chess Instructor

Must be my lucky day ;)

Premium Chessgames Member
Premium Chessgames Member
  Ron: A tournament in honor of the great man, Wilhelm Steinitz:

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Old Redbeard will be turning in his grave at this affront!
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Publishers McFarland have copies of Tim Harding's latest book, Steinitz in London, in stock since late August. It should become widely available soon but if you want the book quickly, go to the publisher's website.

It is a large hardback of 415 pages in the same format as the author's 2015 biography of British master J. H. Blackburne.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <MissScarlett> From the article in Chessmail:<Steinitz in London importantly includes numerous corrections to Steinitz games whose scores are incorrect in previous books and databases.

We were truly astonished to discover how many discrepancies turned up between databases and printed collections of Steinitz games. None could be trusted and we had to undertake a forensic examination using The Chess Suite, new software written by <Dr Thomas Niessen> of Aachen, Germany, who provided invaluable help.>

Isn't Dr. Thomas Niessen <thomastonk>?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: In a word, yes.

I note the book claims some 60 new (or 'recently rediscovered') games. What are the standard collections of Steinitz's games and how many games do they number?

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