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Howard Staunton vs Elijah Williams
London (1851), London ENG, rd 4, Jul-12
English Opening: Agincourt Defense (A13)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-06-03  ughaibu: If Morphy remains champion till he dies then it's impossible to complain about Lasker's or Alekhine's matches or lack of them.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I have read that Paul Morphy as a patriotic Southerner, who was able to speak several languages, after the war broke out offered his services as a diplomat to the Confederate State Department in Richmond. He was turned down initially, but later when Judah Benjamin, who was a close friend of Morphy's father, became Secretary of State, C.S.A State Department engaged the services of Morphy. Morphy spent some time in Cuba where he gave some exhibitions and later he was sent to Paris where he acted as an agent of Confederate Secret Service. During his stay in Paris he played a match with De Riviere in 1863 winning 9 to 3. After this match, Morphy also agreed to terms for a serious match to be played in 1864 with Ignatz von Kolisch, but it did not occurred as Morphy was recalled to the Confederate States.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: For London 1862 see
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: In 1862 Louis Paulsen tied Anderssen +3=2-3 in a match. Also Steinitz's reign after 1866 is not clear. What about Paris 1867 (1.Kolisch, 2.Winawer, 3.Steinitz), Dundee 1867 (1.Neumann, 2.Steinitz) or Baden-Baden (1.Anderssen, 2.Steinitz) 1870?
Aug-06-03  uponthehill: <Paul Morphy as a patriotic Southerner>

Was he confederate? I found this in memoirs of one union officer:

"While a loyal citizen of Louisiana, he was opposed to secession. He did not believe that the Republic ought to be broken up."

Aug-06-03  uponthehill: and one more sentence find on the net (

"The secession of his state disrupted Morphy's life, as he opposed secession, and he became a reclusive individual in later life. "

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: In October of 1861 Morphy visited Richmond where he played some odds games with local players. It is assumed that the reason of his visit in C.S.A capital was to offer his services to General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, who was also a close friend of Morphy's family. The fact, that Paul Morphy previously expressed some pro-union feelings, is not so crucial in this matter. In fact, many people on the South opposed the seccession, but when it happened and when the war broke out, they served to the C.S.A with an absolute allegiance. Of course, I cannot verify informations about alleged activity of Morphy on behalf of Confederate Secret Service in Cuba and in Paris during the war, but it looks quite probable.
Aug-07-03  Helloween: In 1851, Staunton was the no.1 player in the world, considered to have about a 2675 ELO rating. Anderssen was no.3, considered to be around 2590.
Aug-07-03  Sylvester: I vote for saying that Anderssen dethroned Staunton at the 1851 tournament.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <I vote for saying that Anderssen dethroned Staunton at the 1851 tournament.>

O.K., but what about Tassilo von der Lasa, who shortly after Anderssen's victory in London tournament crushed the new "King" in a match with score 10 to 5? By the way, in 1851 Anderssen lost also in a friendly match to Lionel Kieseritzky (+5=2-9).

Aug-07-03  PVS: <what about Tassilo von der Lasa, who shortly after Anderssen's victory in London tournament crushed the new "King" in a match with score 10 to 5?>

Thank you for bringing this to my attention. The friendly match does not bother me, but this one may cause problems for my scheme. I am of the opinion that the matches of 1834, 1943 and 1858 were regarded as determining the best player in the world at the time, and that few, if any other matches before 1886 were. Do you agree with this?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: I think that longer match (10 games or more) is the best way of determining who is better (in that moment). But it is difficult to say that some match played in conditions of rare contacts between strong players on international level can determine, who is the best in the world. I don't know whether De La Bourdonnais proclaimed himself to be the best in the World or World Champion, but he could be really the best. Since 1821 when he defeated Deschapelles (6 to 1) and Cochrane (7 to 0) in triangular match till his death he lost (if I know) only two matches played on even conditions (The 2nd and the 6th matches with McDonnell winning other four matches with total score +45=13-27). In 1836 he lost a match with Szen 12 to 13, but Szen was in that match given odds of Pawn and move (in some games it was even a Pawn and 2 moves). By the way, on the same conditions he had beaten in a match also later Staunton's "challenger" Saint-Amant. His career as well as his play are impressive. But he never played with Petrov, Bledow, Bilguer, Lasa etc. and so it is almost impossible to determine if he was superior in comparison with them. Staunton's position is more questionable for the reasons which I mentioned in a kibitz on his page. Morphy's pretension to the title of World Champion is well-founded with his results and play. He beat convincingly every opponent included Louis Paulsen and Anderssen, who were undoubtedly world top players (although Paulsen was before that famous US Chess Congress 1857, where he took the 2nd place, almost unknown and his brilliant chess career was only in the beginning.) During all matches played in period 1858-1859 Morphy's superiority over his opponents was overwhelming and undisputed. But it is not so certain that he would have beaten Paulsen so easily three or four years later. Also Anderssen in 1862 could have been a little bit tougher opponent than he was after long playing pause and without any preparation for the match in 1858 (some of games played in that match were pretty poor from Anderssen's side). And, of course, nobody knows how would have been finnished eventual match with young Kolisch, who, for example, one year after Morphy smashed Thomas Barnes with score 12 to 1. During 1860s some other interesting persons appeared in chess world - Steinitz, Neumann, Winawer, Blackburne etc.
Jan-27-04  S4NKT: Ne2 is sacrificed.
Aug-23-06  Marmot PFL: Truly bad game by white. Most experts today would play better. Makes no sense at all to play Ne2 then capture on c3 with a pawn. Several moves later he loses the c4 pawn for nothing. Also note the useless bishop on a3 (later a1) and the waste of time moving the rook up and down the b file. Finally he has to lose a piece just to survive a few more moves. Black played well for the most part it must be said.
Aug-23-06  sneaky pete: <Marmot PLF> Staunton agrees with you: "Mr. W. conducts this attack all through the close with great judgment, while the defence is proportionably imbecile."
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Position after 29....Rfd8.

click for larger view

I wouldn't wish White's position on, well, Staunton. (Sorry to denigrate a great player, but I have his book on the tournament, and a more disagreeable chess writer never picked up a pen.)

Soltis in his book "The Great Chess Tournaments and Their Stories" praises Williams for his proto-Nimzowitchian play in this game. See also <sneaky pete>'s "Nimzowitchian avant la lettre" collection. I've been playing chess for decades and I am still amazed how having your opponent conquer c4 can give your entire position the bends.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Also, Staunton had the black pieces in every game of this mini-match, so colors should be reversed in that diagram.
Sep-22-14  Big Pawn: Williams plays like a modern master in this game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: One of the best games between these two is Staunton vs E Williams, 1851
Sep-22-14  Big Pawn: <offramp> It seems like Williams bit off a bit more than he could chew in the game you provided, but the game was very interesting and somewhat well played by Staunton. Sometimes Staunton plays like a strong, modern day master and other times he plays like a 2000 player.
Jun-04-16  sneaky pete: Position after 15... Qf7

click for larger view

When playing 16.f3 .. Staunton complains "Throwing away a Pawn without equivalent of any kind", as if he has been struck by some rare and undeserved misfortune. But after the only remedy 16.d5 Ne5

click for larger view

I don't think his position has been improved.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sneaky pete>

<When playing 16.f3 .. Staunton complains "Throwing away a Pawn without equivalent of any kind", as if he has been struck by some rare and undeserved misfortune. But after the only remedy 16.d5 Ne5>

Staunton can still open the position with adequate play e.g., 16.dxc5 dxc5 17.Nf4, and if 17....Qxc4 18.Rfd1 b5 19.Bf1 Qf7 20.Qd6 Re8 21.c4! b4 22.Bb2 Ra7 23.Nd5 Nxd5 24.cxd5 with equality -- so saith Stockfish, anyway.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Nimzovich would be proud of this hypermodern masterpiece :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <kingscrusher>, so le grand maitre would.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Staunton's writings were quite beneficial to the chess world, but his play was less enthralling.

First of all, Black plays a Dutch Defense above, not the Agincourt.

White plays a hypermodern English double fianchetto and sits there, gets ran over on the queenside and kingside simultaneously. Staunton is roadkill in this game. Hail the Dutch Defense, played by the Englishman Williams, who has a minus score in the database.

Staunton put up fine numbers playing 1.e4, albeit most were casual games. He played 1.c4 far less, having a minus score using the English Opening. Staunton performed better with 1.f4 fianchettoes than 1.c4. There are not many examples of either pawn thrust. Staunton's advocacy rather than application contributed much to other openings as well.

Paul Morphy's comments in this article seem to have merit:

Perhaps this is the reason for Staunton's performance decline in 1851 : - )

"On 23 July 1849, Staunton married Frances Carpenter Nethersole, who had had eight children by a previous marriage.[3][11]"

-- Wikipedia.

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