Steinitz in London

A Chess Biography with 623 Games

Paperback Edition


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SKU: 9781476691428 Categories: , Tags: , ,

About the Book

Drawing on new research, this biography of William Steinitz (1836–1900), the first World Chess Champion, covers his early life and career, with a fully-sourced collection of his known games until he left London in 1882. A portrait of mid-Victorian British chess is provided, including a history of the famous Simpson’s Divan.
Born to a poor Jewish family in Prague, Steinitz studied in Vienna, where his career really began, before moving to London in 1862, bent on conquering the chess world. During the next 20 years, he became its strongest and most innovative player, as well as an influential writer on the game. A foreigner with a quarrelsome nature, he suffered mockery and discrimination from British amateur players and journalists, which eventually drove him to immigrate to America. The final chapters cover his subsequent visits to England and the last three tournaments he played there.

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. He is a former editor of Chess Mail magazine and for almost 20 years he contributed monthly articles in “The Kibitzer” series at He lives in Dublin, Ireland.

Bibliographic Details

Tim Harding
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 421
Bibliographic Info: 84 photos, 623 games, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2023 [2020]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-9142-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Acknowledgments 7
Abbreviations 8
Annotation Symbols 9
A Note on Play at Odds 10
British Money and Notation 11
1. The Making of a Master, 1836–1862 13
• Chess in Prague: A Big Silence • Viennese Chess Before Steinitz • Enter a Poor Student• Club Tournaments and a Visit by Harrwitz • The 1861–1862 Tournament • The Games in Vienna
2. The London Congress, May–August 1862 35
• Preparations for the Tournament • The First Two Weeks • The “Grand Week” • Conclusion of the Tournament • Steinitz’s Tournament Games • Aside from the Tournament • Match with Dubois
3. “The Greco of the present time,” 1862–1863 63
• London in 1862 • London Chess Club and Purssell’s • Chess and the Divans • The Grand Divan and Simpson’s • Odds Games and Playing for Money • After the Tournament • Blackburne Match • Match with Deacon • Casual Games Later in 1863 • Match with Green (1863/1864)
4. Quiet Years, 1864–1865 100
• Games in 1864 • Early 1865 • Dublin Chess Congress 1865 • Steinitz as Blindfold Player • Back in England • Failure Against de Vere
5. Dethroning Anderssen, 1866 118
• The Divan Transformed • From Early 1866 to the B.C.A. Congress • British Chess Association 1866 Congress • Early Days of the Westminster Chess Club • Anderssen Match: Arrangements and Schedule • Anderssen Match: The Games • Becoming a Father • Bird–Steinitz Match • Other Games in 1866
6. Paris and Dundee, 1867 149
• Exit from the Westminster Club • First Visit to Scotland • Paris International 1867 • Dundee Congress 1867
7. Difficult Years, 1868–1871 171
• British Chess Association 1868/9 Congress • More Games in 1869 • City of London Chess Club Origins • First Visit to Oxford • Baden-Baden, July–August 1870 • Back to Oxford • Quiet Year in 1871
8. Big Successes, 1872–1873 198
• The City of London Chess Club Handicap • Steinitz in Oxford Again • British Chess Association Congress 1872 • Steinitz–Zukertort Match • Later in 1872 • Vienna Correspondence Match • Events in Early 1873 • Visit to The Hague • Emperor’s Cup, Vienna 1873 • After the Tournament
9. Development and Crises, 1874–1876 230
• Visiting the Provinces, 1874 • Back in London • Last Visit to Oxford, 1875 • Games in London and Glasgow, 1875 • Time of Crisis • Two Bad Mistakes • Games, Early 1876 • Second Blackburne Match • Aftermath • A Second Chess Column
10. Absent from the Board, 1877–1881 257
• The Fraser Letter • Back in Circulation • The Divan Crisis • Events in 1878 • Summer in Paris • Casual Games, 1878–1879 • Events in London, 1878/1879 • Crisis at the London Figaro • 1880: German Visit and Breach with Bird • Casual Games, 1880 • Dublin Visit, January 1881 • In London and Germany
11. A Champion Returns—and Departs, 1882 281
• The Early Months • Vienna International 1882 • Leaving The Field
12. Farewell to London, 1883 304
• London 1883 Tournament • The Last Column • Aftermath, 1884 Onwards
13. Last Visits to England, 1895–1899 321
• First Match with Liverpool • Hastings Congress 1895 • 1896 and 1897 in Brief • Back in Europe, 1898 • London International Tournament 1899
I. Match and Tournament Record 347
II. Dubious and Spurious Games 348
III. Extracts from Steinitz’s Review of Wormald’s Chess Openings (1875) 350
IV. First “Ink War” of 1876–1877 352
V. Leaving The Field, 1882 359
VI. Steinitz’s Grievances (1883) 364
VII. Steinitz Hits Back—Extracts from His International Chess Magazine Column 366
VIII. Bird on Steinitz (1890) 369
IX. MacDonnell on Steinitz (1894) 371
Chapter Notes 375
Bibliography 397
Index of Opponents (to game numbers) 401
Index of Openings—Traditional Names (to game numbers) 403
Index of Openings—ECO Codes (to game numbers) 405
General Index (to page numbers) 406

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Exhaustively researched and meticulously documented… Harding’s fine work presents a full account of what is known of Steinitz at the time, along with a game collection from the same period. Recent research and rediscovered games make this book especially valuable as a chronological account of the development of Steinitz’s chess career and the significant life events he experienced in the midst of the active London chess scene…. This is a valuable account of Steinitz’s life and times. …recommended”—Choice

• “A handsome, beautifully produced hardback book based on extensive and exhaustive research… Harding chose to include all available games from Steinitz’s time in London, some of which have only recently been rediscovered in old newspaper and magazine columns…if you want a full and accurate record of every currently available Steinitz game from his time in London, along with some earlier games from his time in Vienna and those from his later English tournaments, look no further…. this is a major addition to the literature of our game, marked by scholarly research and historical accuracy, and, as such, deserves a place in the library of anyone with an interest in chess history. McFarland and their authors are doing an enormous service to the chess community by publishing books of this nature… But it’s not just a dry as dust history book. It’s a gripping read as well. Harding tells his story with panache, leaving the reader eager to turn the page and find out what happened next… Very highly recommended: 2020 has been an excellent year for chess books and this is certainly one of the best.”—British Chess News

• “This is another beautifully produced hardback edition from McFarland and is a pleasure to read, as always.”—New in Chess

• “An outstanding work…This book is a milestone in the history of chess literature.”—MAT – Poland’s National Chess Magazine

• “In addition, [Harding] not only presents several dozen unknown and forgotten games, he also corrects the sequence of moves of many more with the greatest care, so that this publication can claim sovereignty for the correctness of the notation.”—Karl