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Vienna Tournament

Wilhelm Steinitz22.5/27(+20 -2 =5)[games]
Joseph Henry Blackburne21.5/32(+20 -9 =3)[games]
Adolf Anderssen19/30(+17 -9 =4)[games]
Samuel Rosenthal15/25(+14 -9 =2)[games]
Henry Bird14.5/24(+14 -9 =1)[games]
Louis Paulsen14/25(+12 -9 =4)[games]
Josef Heral12/31(+9 -16 =6)[games]
Adolf Schwarz10.5/30(+6 -15 =9)[games]
Maximilian Fleissig10.5/27(+8 -14 =5)[games]
Oscar Gelbfuhs10/29(+6 -15 =8)[games]
Philipp Meitner8.5/25(+4 -12 =9)[games]
Karl Pitschel5/21(+3 -14 =4)[games] Chess Event Description
Vienna (1873)

Vienna, Austria; 21 July 1873—29 August 1873

Matches 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 W D L Points Place/Prizes ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— 1 Steinitz ••• 0½0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½1½ ½1½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 10 0 1 10 1st* Art and cash, valued at 2000 fl. 2 Blackburne 1½1 ••• 011 0½0 1 1 101 101 1 1 1 1 101 ½11 101 10 0 1 10 2nd 600 fl. (minimum) 3 Anderssen 0 0 100 ••• 011 011 1 1 01½ ½½1 011 011 1 1 ½11 8 1 2 8½ 3rd 300 fl. 4 Rosenthal 0 0 1½1 100 ••• 0 0 10½ 1 1 1 1 101 1 1 101 1 + 7 1 3 7½ 4th 200 fl. 5 Bird 0 0 0 0 100 1 1 ••• 0 0 1 1 1 1 0½1 1 1 1 1 1 1 6 1 4 6½ 6 Paulsen 0 0 010 0 0 01½ 1 1 ••• 1 1 ½11 01½ 10½ 1 1 1 + 5 3 3 6½ 7 Fleissig ½0½ 010 10½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ••• -1+ 0½1 0½1 100 1 1 2 3 6 3½ 8 Meitner ½0½ 0 0 ½½0 0 0 0 0 ½00 +0- ••• 1½0 ½11 ½1½ 1 + 3 1 7 3½ 9 Heral 0 0 0 0 100 010 1½0 10½ 1½0 0½1 ••• ½10 ½01 010 0 6 5 3 10 Schwarz 0 0 010 100 0 0 0 0 01½ 1½0 ½00 ½01 ••• ½½½ ½1½ 1 4 6 3 11 Gelbfuhs 0 0 ½00 0 0 010 0 0 0 0 011 ½0½ ½10 ½½½ ••• ½11 2 2 7 3 12 Pitschel 0 0 010 ½00 0 - 0 0 0 - 0 0 0 - 101 ½0½ ½00 ••• 1 0 10 1 ————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— * Steinitz won 1st place by winning a play-off match against Blackburne. A + indicates a forfeit win, a - indicates a forfeit loss. Format: Best of three games wins each match, points are based on the number of matches won, drawn matches count one-half.

Playoff 1 2 Wins ——————————————————————— 1 Steinitz 1 1 2 2 Blackburne 0 0 0 ———————————————————————

Vienna, western capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and a city rich in culture and chess, hosted a World's Fair in the spring of 1873. In the tradition of earlier world exhibitions, great buildings were constructed, inventions and events were hosted and people all over the world were invited to come, observe, and participate.

The central hall of the exhibition was erected at the Prater and the fair opened on May 1st. Unfortunately for the city and the fair, the stock market crashed the following week (later known as the "Panic of 1873") and a cholera epidemic later swept through the city and its people in early July. Whereas previous world's fairs were attended by hundreds of thousands to millions of people, Vienna was virtually deserted during the summer following the market crash and the growing epidemic.

In spite of these conditions, or perhaps because of them, Kaiser Franz Josef along with Baron Albert von Rothschild and Ignatz von Kolisch pooled together a large prize fund and organized an international chess tournament to be played from July 19th to August 29th, a period that would be during the worst of the epidemic. Games were played in the rooms of the Wiener Schachgesellschaft, and the tournament was organized differently from the previous world's fair competitions. The international chess tournament held at the London world's fair of 1851 was a knockout tournament. In 1862, it was the first all-play-all with draws to be replayed. At the Paris world's fair in 1867, double rounds had been played where draws were not counted. In Vienna an all-play-all system was devised, wherein each of the players were paired against each other and then made to play best of three rounds for each pairing. Unlike traditional scoring in previous tournaments, the results of all three games would be used to determine a sole winner for the pairing or if the two players were drawn. In the event a player won the first two games of the pairing, the third round need not be played. One of the goals of this format was to avoid replaying of draws and also to increase the chances of a definite result. Second round games were played with colors reversed, and if a third round game was required, the players would resume the colors they played in the first round. The schedule called for one game to be played a day, and twenty moves had to be played each hour. Every seventh day was a rest day, although chess masters who quickly dispatched an opponent could get "an extra rest day" on scheduled days for third round play.

Twelve chess masters were invited to participate in the elite event. Adolf Anderssen, who had won the previous world's fair competitions in 1851 and 1862, and Louis Paulsen participated on behalf of Germany. Joseph Henry Blackburne, Henry Edward Bird, and Wilhelm Steinitz (who had long played in Vienna prior) participated on behalf of Great Britain. Samuel Rosenthal, originally from Poland, participated on behalf of France. And the final six seats were occupied by chess masters of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, including Maximilian Fleissig, Oscar Gelbfuhs, Josef Heral, Philipp Meitner, Karl Pitschel, and Adolf Schwarz. Eight games from the tournament were decided by forfeit and they are omitted from this collection. Pitschel withdrew from the tournament after the completion of the eighth pairing's third round, so his six remaining games were forfeited. In the final pairing, both Fleissig and Meitner forfeited a game to each other. Although Anderssen was the clear favorite going into the competition, previous world's fair tournament participant and long time Viennese player Steinitz rose to the occasion and tied British chess master Blackburne in his international debut. Traditional scoring would have placed Blackburne a full point ahead of Steinitz in the final, but because the scoring followed best of three games for each pairing, both men finished with 10 points out of a possible 11 total. A two round playoff match was devised to determine a sole winner, and Steinitz, hot off a fourteen game winning streak to finish the tournament, swept the playoff match winning both games. His last sixteen wins here would contribute to an overall twenty-five game winning streak in professional competition, a record for chess history. Steinitz was crowned champion, being paid the prize fund of 1000 francs as well as an additional 200 golden ducats for winning the playoff match. Blackburne, as second, was awarded 600 francs, while Anderssen (as clear third) received 300 francs. Rosenthal received 200 francs for finishing clear fourth. The remaining players were compensated for their travel expenses. The tournament was later seen as a landmark moment in chess history, with the passing of the guard from Anderssen's reckless, swashbuckling style to Steinitz's more studied, "modern" play, a style that would come to influence the latter century of chess players and theory and herald a new era of competition.

Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne vs Anderssen / Paulsen / Rosenthal, 1873 was a consultation game played at this event. Much of the historical content for this tournament comes from the hard work of Jan van Reek and others.

Der Erste Wiener Internationale Schachcongress im Jahre 1873, Lehner and Schwede, Leipsig 1874, p14 (prizes)
Der Erste Wiener Internationale Schachcongress im Jahre 1873, Lehner and Schwede, Leipsig 1874, p44 (crosstable)

Original collection: Game Collection: Vienna 1873, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 163  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. O Gelbfuhs vs Bird 0-1651873ViennaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
2. Blackburne vs Paulsen 1-0521873ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
3. K Pitschel vs Steinitz 0-1201873ViennaC39 King's Gambit Accepted
4. A Schwarz vs J Heral  ½-½451873ViennaC01 French, Exchange
5. M Fleissig vs S Rosenthal  0-1401873ViennaC45 Scotch Game
6. Meitner vs Anderssen  ½-½711873ViennaC45 Scotch Game
7. Anderssen vs Meitner ½-½341873ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
8. Bird vs O Gelbfuhs 1-0151873ViennaA02 Bird's Opening
9. Paulsen vs Blackburne 1-0631873ViennaB01 Scandinavian
10. Steinitz vs K Pitschel 1-0141873ViennaC01 French, Exchange
11. J Heral vs A Schwarz 1-0721873ViennaB23 Sicilian, Closed
12. S Rosenthal vs M Fleissig 1-0181873ViennaC46 Three Knights
13. Meitner vs Anderssen 0-1261873ViennaB28 Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation
14. Blackburne vs Paulsen 1-0441873ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
15. A Schwarz vs J Heral  1-0281873ViennaC15 French, Winawer
16. Anderssen vs Bird 0-1401873ViennaC51 Evans Gambit
17. Blackburne vs Steinitz 1-0271873ViennaC60 Ruy Lopez
18. M Fleissig vs Paulsen 0-1731873ViennaC41 Philidor Defense
19. O Gelbfuhs vs J Heral ½-½391873ViennaB01 Scandinavian
20. A Schwarz vs K Pitschel ½-½811873ViennaC01 French, Exchange
21. Meitner vs S Rosenthal 0-1511873ViennaC45 Scotch Game
22. Bird vs Anderssen 0-1371873ViennaA02 Bird's Opening
23. Steinitz vs Blackburne ½-½301873ViennaC11 French
24. S Rosenthal vs Meitner 1-0441873ViennaC33 King's Gambit Accepted
25. Paulsen vs M Fleissig 1-0511873ViennaC49 Four Knights
 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 163  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-12-13  brankat: It must have taken a lot of courage for these chess-master to compete for forty days in an almost deserted Vienna just after a catastrophic stock market crash, and then in the midst of a cholera epidemic!

Somewhat ironically, but quite justifiably, the Vienna Tournament of 1873 is seen as a beginning of a new, modern era, in the history of chess tournaments.

Dec-16-14  suenteus po 147: <brankat> For these reasons you mention I once had aspirations of writing a novel about this event. I wish someone would, it's a great story.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <Traditional scoring would have placed Blackburne a full point ahead of Steinitz in the final> That's just because he played 5 games more that Steinitz i. e. struggled harder to get the 10 points.

The crosstable indicates 11½ for Rosenthal vs Blackburne, but then the 3rd game would not be necessary? Also 110 for Pitschel vs Heral.

In the crosstable, =9th Heral is placed ahead of =7th. Same as in

Feb-27-16  zanzibar: From the intro...

<Pitschel withdrew from the tournament after the completion of the eighth pairing's third round, so his six remaining games were forfeited.>

This is a little confusing to me, since the mini-matches were either 2 or 3 games.

So wouldn't it be better to explicitly say he forfeited against three opponents (or matches)- Rosenthal, Paulsen, and Meitner - and then note this equated to six forfeited games?

I'd also prefer the details of forfeits be broken out in a separate paragraph (starting with "Eight games were ..." ).

Also, there is some debate raised by the assertion that this was the first international tournament for either Blackburne or Steinitz.

It's actually unclear who is the "his" in the "his debut". Blackburne or Steinitz?

Additionally, <London (1872)> preceded this tournament, and was viewed as an International tournament in the press of the time. I view it as such as well. And it had both Blackburne and Steinitz in it.

Feb-27-16  zanzibar: Here is the xtab from p44 of the tournament book:

Mar-01-16  zanzibar: Unless I'm mistaken, the original rules must have been modified:

<II. Game hours and disruption of games.

§. 4. Every Match must be completed within two consecutive days. The Time takes on the first day of such a match from 9am Morning to 1 o'clock noon and 3:00 to 7:00 in the evening - on second day 9-1 noon and from 3 pm until the conclusion the third game. The price candidates can spend their free time even to using games to which they do not behave according to the agenda are; but the same are to play in the tournament locale.> (tb p15)

It seems that the original intent was for an entire "match" to last just two days.

As it was finally played, matches lasted three days, as reported in the intro.

A breakdown of play by day can be found here:

July 30th, 1873 is unusual, no player had a free day on the 3rd-game day for R3. That didn't happen again during the entire tournament.

Mar-01-16  zanzibar: Right, from the tb p24, perhaps also due to the influence of the recent British arrivals, is a relenting of the strictures:

<Then a few changes to § 4 of the tournament rules were still (in Meaning of §. 12) hit. Namely, since the number of participators is as a lower out, as we initially reported taken had, it was deemed necessary, the resulting Time savings to a reduction of the players imposed daily to use effort. Accordingly, it was determined that each match must be completed within <three consecutive days>, and that until obtaining of a result every day at least one game to was playing. The season was from <10 am to 2 pm After noon and from 4 pm until the close of the game> firmly set.>

Does this mean no adjournments? Wonder how many games went past midnight.

Premium Chessgames Member
  dernier loup de T: A pity the five strongest masters and the Viennese ones did not play separately, in two tournaments; it would have been less tiring for all participant; Bird was sickly towards the end, maybe exhausted... Anyyway the games are demonstrating in my mind at least, a big superiority of Steinitz from this year, while his victory against Anderssen in the match of 1866 was still not neat and convincing... The positional style of Steinitz is here superb from the beginning to the end of the contest; Blackburne was much more irregular...
Apr-22-18  Big Pawn: It's interesting that Blackburne actually won more games than Steinitz, but Steinitz' new position style got all the attention and all the credit. Blackburne scored more wins with the attacking style, so why did this happen?
Aug-14-18  sakredkow: <Big Pawn> Maybe at the time it wasn't so apparent, perhaps in retrospect Steinitz's style was seen to be revolutionary. Don't forget also that Steinitz's "sixteen wins here would contribute to an overall twenty-five game winning streak in professional competition, a record for chess history." That's an attention getter.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: Probably the most striking thing about Steinitz's performance to the contemporary masters at the event was the lack of losses, coupled with authoritative wins. Blackburne's all-or-nothing style must have seemed more familiar, after all. Positional chess - it's about not losing!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: ...In other words, Steinitz was nearly unbeatable in this tournament, where Blackburne (though clearly a monster player) lost games to weaker players. All that aside, Blackburne's games are a joy to behold.

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