De la Bourdonnais versus McDonnell, 1834

The Eighty-Five Games of Their Six Chess Matches, with Excerpts from Additional Games Against Other Opponents


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About the Book

The meeting of Louis Charles Mahé de la Bourdonnais and Alexander McDonnell at London’s Westminster Chess Club in 1834 was notable for a number of reasons. Hard-earned reputations were zealously protected, and masters of equal standing had seldom faced each other on even terms. The chess world was watching closely, but it was the actions of spectator William Greenwood Walker, who recorded each move of the 85 games, that has had the greatest impact.
This recording and publication of game scores from a series of matches between masters was a first in chess history: The event gave birth to modern chess theory. Once based upon composed exercises studied in isolation, theory now became concrete and measurable. Practice replaced contrivance, and tactics could be studied and honed in light of the avalanche of match records that followed.
McDonnell and de la Bourdonnais played six matches in 1834. This book offers biographies of the two and illuminates their times—and then the 85 games are analyzed using modern theory; there are numerous diagrams and previously published commentary. The merits of the openings, middle- and endgame maneuvers of the two are weighed. Nine appendices present selected games against other opponents; excerpt a contemporary account of the games’ ambience; provide other interesting documents; present several statistics; and provide a schematic of mistakes made by both contestants. Bibliography, notes, indexes.

About the Author(s)

Cary Utterberg lives in Golden Valley, Minnesota. He has held the National Master title with the U.S. Chess Federation since 1985.

Bibliographic Details

Cary Utterberg
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 416
Bibliographic Info: photos, diagrams, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2012 [2005]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7174-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Game-by-Game Table of Contents      vii

Preface      1

On the Spelling of the Two Opponents’ Names      5

Introduction      7

A Note on the Games      37

Match One: de la Bourdonnais 16, McDonnell 5, Drawn      4

Games 1 to 25      43

Match Two: McDonnell 5, de la Bourdonnais 4, Drawn      0

Games 26 to 34      115

Match Three: de la Bourdonnais 6, McDonnell 5, Drawn      1

Games 35 to 46      139

Match Four: de la Bourdonnais 8, McDonnell 3, Drawn      7

Games 47 to 64      181

Match Five: de la Bourdonnais 7, McDonnell 4, Drawn      1

Games 65 to 76      242

Match Six: McDonnell 5, de la Bourdonnais 4, Drawn      0

Games 77 to 85      281

Conclusion: The Statistics      311

Appendix 1: Selected de la Bourdonnais Games      319

Appendix 2: Selected McDonnell Games      337

Appendix 3: Opening Theory, Then and Now      355

Appendix 4: Collected Games of Deschapelles      379

Appendix 5: Statistical Data      382

Appendix 6: Preface to Lewis’s A Selection of Games at Chess      389

Appendix 7: Foreword to Bledow’s Funfzig auserlesene

Schach-Partien      390

Appendix 8: Preface to Greenwood Walker’s Games by the

Late Mr. M’Donnell      391

Appendix 9: Excerpt from “The Café de la Régence”      394

Bibliography      399

Index      401

Book Reviews & Awards

Honorable Mention, Book of the Year Award—Chess Journalists of America
“fine work…remarkable…marvelous”—The Washington Post; “wonderful book…highly recommend”—IM John Donaldson (; “four stars”—Chess Horizons; “recreates the drama and the atmosphere of the match…The chess world owes a debt to the author for making available a great legacy.”—