Monday, May 6

Steinitz game collection, Volume 2

We report with great pleasure the appearance of the second volume of Herr Ludwig Bachmann's Schachmeister Steinitz, covering the late World Champion's life and career from 1878-1883.  As with the first volume, published three years ago, and which dealt with the years 1859-1877, Herr Bachmann has again painstakingly collected all available games played by Steinitz during the period in question and presented them in annotated form, supplemented by much biographical information.  The result, as before, is a work any chessplayer will wish to possess, as even those without a working command of the German tongue will be able to play through the games and glean at least some instruction from the notes.

Some of our readers, in particular the younger ones, may be unaware that Steinitz, devoting himself almost exclusively to theoretical analyses and literary work, played virtually no serious chess between 1873 and 1882, the only exception being his match victory over Blackburne in 1876, achieved with the remarkable score of seven wins to none, with no games drawn.  As a result, Herr Bachmann's latest volume contains few games from 1878 until the Vienna tournament of 1882, at which time the great man at last emerged, like Achilles from his tent, to rejoin the battle and, in particular, to put to the test - against foes of the caliber of Blackburne and Bird, Mason and Mackenzie, Paulsen and Winawer, Chigorin and Zuckertort - those theories anent the very nature of our game that he had formulated and developed in the interim.  The result, it will be recalled, was most convincing: first prize ex aequo with Winawer after a grueling 34 rounds, followed by a drawn tie-break match.  Steinitz's games from this great tourney, which the reader will of course find in Herr Bachmann's latest work, could well serve as the curriculum for a course on modern chess.

Late in 1882, Steinitz, accepting an invitation from the Philadelphia Chess Club, embarked on his first voyage to the New World, a visit of several months' duration that saw him fulfill professional engagements in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, New York, and Havana.  Herr Bachmann has collected more than 60 games from this tour, among them blindfold, simultaneous, and consultation contests, but also including struggles on even terms against players such as Mackenzie, Golmayo, and Sellmann, competitor at London, 1883.  Even the best-read aficionados among our audience, we daresay, will find much new and unfamiliar material here.

This second volume of Steinitz's games concludes with the great London tournament mentioned just above, at which our protagonist took second place behind Zuckertort, who produced the finest result of his career.   It was disappointment over his placing behind his rival, it has been said, that led to Steinitz's permanent move from England to America, and later to the Championship match with Zuckertort in 1886, held to decide once and for all the question of superiority between them.  Be that as it may, Steinitz's games from this tourney are glossed with his own notes, an invaluable boon to those not fortunate enough to be in possession of one of the rare copies (only 500 were printed, we believe) of the London tournament book.

As space permits, we will from time to time over the coming weeks present a few Steinitz games taken from Herr Bachmann's latest volume.  To begin, we have selected a game played by Steinitz blindfold, not a form of chess with which he is generally associated.  His consulting opponents were Kockelkorn, the well-known problemist, and the German Master Wemmers.  The result is a masterpiece that any Master would be proud to have played with sight of the board.


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