Eminent Victorian Chess Players

Ten Biographies


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About the Book

This book portrays British chess life in the nineteenth century through biographical studies of ten players who shaped the modern game. From Captain Evans, inventor of the famous gambit, to Isidor Gunsberg, England’s first challenger for the world championship, personal narratives are blended with game annotations to reassess players’ achievements and character. The author has combined deep reading in primary sources with genealogical research to reveal new facts and correct previous misunderstandings. Major chapters on Howard Staunton and William Steinitz, in particular, highlight the tensions between Englishmen and immigrants, amateurs and professionals. The contrasting long careers of Henry Bird and Joseph Blackburne provide a thread of continuity. The lives of several other important figures in Victorian chess are also presented.
More than 160 games (with diagrams), several annotated in detail, and 50 photographs and line drawings are included. Appendices provide career records for all ten; there are extensive notes, a bibliography and indexes.

About the Author(s)

Tim Harding played for Ireland at the 1984 FIDE chess olympiad in Thessaloniki. He is a FIDE Candidate Master and a Senior International Master of correspondence chess. A well-known writer on many aspects of chess, Tim is a former editor of Chess Mail magazine and for almost 20 years he contributed monthly articles in “The Kibitzer” series at www.chesscafe.com. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Bibliographic Details

Tim Harding
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 406
Bibliographic Info: 163 games, 61 photos, diagrams, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6568-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0143-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments      1

Abbreviations and Annotation Symbols      7

1. William Davies Evans (1790–1872)      9

2. Howard Staunton (1810–1874)      35

3. John Jacob Löwenthal (1810?–1876)      73

4. Henry Edward Bird (1829–1908)      108

5. Arthur Bolland Skipworth (1830–1898)      134

6. William Steinitz (1836–1900)      160

7. Joseph Henry Blackburne (1841–1924)      204

8. Johannes Hermann Zukertort (1842–1888)      230

9. Amos Burn (1848–1925)      260

10. Isidor Arthur Gunsberg (1854–1930)      278

Appendix I. Career Records      315

Appendix II. Games by Captain Evans      322

Appendix III. Evans Family Financial Appeals      332

Appendix IV. Staunton’s Contract with Routledge      338

Appendix V. Löwenthal’s Will      340

Appendix VI. The Career of Mephisto      341

Chapter Notes      349

Select Bibliography      383

Index of Images      387

Index of Opponents      387

Index of Openings (by Name)      388

Index of Openings (by ECO Code)      389

General Index      390

Book Reviews & Awards

“meticulously researched…Harding has written many fine books, but this may be his best…warmly recommended”—IM John Donaldson (JeremySilman.com); “a major work on the history of the top personalities from the period…outstanding…highly recommended”—Carls Planet; “I would place Eminent Victorian Chess Players at the top of his achievements as an author. The book is simply packed with material…. Surely this is one of the best and most accessible pieces of chess history ever written”—The Week in Chess; “should both enlighten and enthrall…sheds light on a select group of players, and the clubs and publications they founded and funded…exhaustively researched…finely produced…exquisite…Harding has amassed a cornucopia of scholarship. Harding is a fine researcher, author, and an eminent historian. This book is a fine guide to British Victorian chess and honors the contributions of these ten men and others immortalized between its covers”—ChessCafe.com; “well researched…. As with all McFarland books, the quality of the publication is excellent”—Mind’s Eye Press; “this is a welcome, deeply researched work that fills a void in our understanding of the lives of nine prominent Victorian chess players and a tenth, slightly unusual choice…excellent”—Chess; “wonderful”—Huffington Post; “valuable”—Dale Brandreth, Caissa Editions; “diligently researched and vividly written…an excellent book”—Manchester Chess Foundation; “impressive”—Chess Direct; “the depth of research undertaken by Tim Harding in the course of writing this book is impressive. A joy to read, the photographs and sketches help illuminate a bygone time”—Hull & District Chess Association.