Sunday, June 23

Steinitz game collection, Volume 2 (continued)

As we await the cable with the results of today's final round in the Austro-Hungarian Championship tourney at Budapest, we return, as promised, to an earlier subject.

Some weeks ago we reported with pleasure the appearance of the second volume of Herr Ludwig Bachmann's Schachmeister Steinitz, a monumental and ongoing work through which Herr Bachmann proposes to assemble and publish all known games played by the late World Champion.  This second volume, covering the years 1878-1883, includes, in addition to the games played by Steinitz at the historic Vienna and London tournaments, a large selection of contests from the great man's first visit to the New World over the fall and winter of 1882-83.  Many of these games were unfamiliar to us, notwithstanding the fact that during the period in question we were a young man following most assiduously all news of our noble game, and we must congratulate Herr Bachmann on the diligence and thoroughness of his research.

We present today three games by Steinitz from this period, two played against Sr. Dionisio Martinez of Philadelphia and one against the late Mr. Alexander Sellman of Baltimore.  Steinitz met Sr. Martinez, a native of Cuba regarded as one of the strongest Philadelphia players, in two series of games late in 1882, winning the first by a clean score over seven games and taking the second by the tally of three wins to one, with three games drawn, a result rather more indicative of the loser's true strength.  The reader will find below the initial game of the first series and the closing game of the second, which have been selected in part as being representative of the often idiosyncratic opening play of the Champion: to wit, the move 2.e5 against the French Defense and the eponymous Steinitz Gambit, a weapon, we feel, meant to be wielded, like the bow of Odysseus, by its owner alone.  The final specimen was played in December of 1882 at Baltimore in a series of 5 games contested against Sellman, a strong young player taken from us far too soon, who made the very creditable score of three draws and two losses against his powerful opponent.  Steinitz's renowned tenacity, patience, and willingness to maneuver are readily apparent in this dour struggle.

Examining the games of Steinitz from decades ago has in some sense brought us back to our chess youth, a most delightful sensation, and we may well revisit this subject again in the future.



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