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Wilhelm Steinitz
Number of games in database: 1,038
Years covered: 1859 to 1899

Overall record: +468 -193 =151 (66.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 226 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Vienna Opening (106) 
    C25 C29 C28 C27 C26
 French Defense (79) 
    C00 C01 C11 C02 C10
 King's Gambit Accepted (67) 
    C39 C37 C38 C33 C34
 French (47) 
    C00 C11 C10 C13 C12
 King's Gambit Declined (41) 
    C30 C31 C32
 Evans Gambit (30) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (127) 
    C62 C70 C60 C64 C65
 Evans Gambit (75) 
    C52 C51
 Giuoco Piano (35) 
    C50 C53 C54
 King's Gambit Accepted (28) 
    C33 C39 C37 C38 C34
 Scotch Game (22) 
 Three Knights (16) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895 1-0
   Steinitz vs Chigorin, 1892 1-0
   Dubois vs Steinitz, 1862 0-1
   Steinitz vs A Mongredien, 1862 1-0
   Steinitz vs A Mongredien, 1862 1-0
   S Rosenthal vs Steinitz, 1873 0-1
   Zukertort vs Steinitz, 1886 0-1
   Steinitz vs Paulsen, 1870 1-0
   Steinitz vs A Sellman, 1885 1-0
   Steinitz vs Lasker, 1896 1-0

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889)
   Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890)
   Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892)
   Steinitz - Lasker World Championship Match (1894)
   Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Anderssen - Steinitz (1866)
   Bird - Steinitz Match (1866)
   Vienna (1873)
   Steinitz - Blackburne (1876)
   Steinitz - Zukertort (1872)
   Vienna (1882)
   2nd City Chess Club Tournament (1894)
   Baden-Baden (1870)
   London (1883)
   St. Petersburg 1895/96 (1895)
   Paris (1867)
   Vienna (1898)
   Hastings (1895)
   Nuremberg (1896)
   London (1899)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   The t_t Players: Staunton, Steinitz & Zukertort by fredthebear
   Match Steinitz! by docjan
   Match Steinitz! by amadeus
   The Dark Side by lonchaney
   World Champion - Steinitz (I.Linder/V.Linder) by Qindarka
   World Champion - Steinitz (I.Linder/V.Linder) by nbabcox
   Stupendous Play from Steinitz' Day by fredthebear
   World championship games A-Z by kevin86
   The t_t Players: The 1900s by fredthebear
   the rivals 1 by ughaibu
   y1870s - 1890s Classic Chess Principles Arise by fredthebear
   1851 Beyond London by fredthebear
   Wilhelm Steinitz's Best Games by KingG
   1883 Beyond London by fredthebear

   Showalter vs Gossip, 1889
   J McConnell vs Steinitz, 1886
   Chigorin vs Gunsberg, 1889
   Showalter vs Taubenhaus, 1889
   M Weiss vs N MacLeod, 1889

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Wilhelm Steinitz
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(born May-14-1836, died Aug-12-1900, 64 years old) Austria (federation/nationality United States of America)
[what is this?]

Wilhelm Steinitz was the first official World Champion of chess.


The last of thirteen sons of a hardware retailer, he was born in Prague in what was then the Kingdom of Bohemia within the Austrian Empire and which is now within the Czech republic. Like his father he was a Talmudic scholar, but then he left to study mathematics in the Vienna Polytechnic. He eventually dropped out of the Polytechnic to play chess professionally. Soon after, he played in the London tournament of 1862, and then settled in London for over twenty years, making his living at the London Chess Club. He emigrated to the USA in 1883, taking out US citizenship, living in New York for the rest of his life, and changing his first name to “William”.


He was recognized as the world's leading player, and considered to be the world champion by many, after he defeated the then-acknowledged number one chess player in the world (now that Paul Morphy had retired), Adolf Anderssen, in a match in 1866 which he won by 8-6. However, it was not until his victory in the Steinitz - Zukertort World Championship Match (1886) – where he sat beside a US flag - that he was recognised as the first undisputed world chess champion. He successfully defended his title three times in the Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Match (1889), the Steinitz - Gunsberg World Championship Match (1890), and in the Steinitz - Chigorin World Championship Rematch (1892). In 1894, Emanuel Lasker won the crown from Steinitz by winning the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship (1894) and retained it by winning the Lasker - Steinitz World Championship Rematch (1896).

Steinitz was an extremely successful match player. Between 1860 and 1897, he played 36 matches, winning every serious match with the exception of his two matches against Lasker. Some of the prominent players of the day that he defeated in match play other than in his world championship matches included Max Lange, Serafino Dubois, Frederic Deacon, Dionisio M Martinez, Joseph Henry Blackburne, Anderssen, Augustus Mongredien, Henry Edward Bird, Johannes Zukertort, George Henry Mackenzie, and Celso Golmayo Zupide.


Steinitz was more adept at winning matches than tournaments in his early years, a factor, which alongside his prolonged absences from competition chess after 1873, may have prevented more widespread recognition of his dominance of chess as world champion until the first “official” world championship match in 1886. Nevertheless, between 1859 and his death in 1900, the only tournament in which he did not win prize money was his final tournament in London in 1899. His wins include the Vienna Championship of 1861 which he won with 30/31 and earned him the nickname the “Austrian Morphy”, the London Championship of 1862, Dublin 1865 (equal first with George Alcock MacDonnell), London 1872, equal first at Vienna 1873 and 1882 (the latter was the strongest tournament to that time, and Steinitz had just returned from 9 years of absence from tournament chess), and first in the New York Championship of 1894. Other successes include 3rd and 2nd at the Vienna Championships of 1859 and 1860 respectively, 2nd at Dundee in 1867, 3rd in Paris in 1867, 2nd in Baden Baden in 1870, 2nd in London in 1883, 5th at the Hastings super tournament in 1895, 2nd at the sextuple round robin St Petersburg quadrangular tournament behind Lasker and ahead of Harry Nelson Pillsbury and Mikhail Chigorin, 6th at Nuremburg in 1896, and 4th at Vienna in 1898.

Steinitz’s Legacy

The extent of Steinitz’s dominance in world chess is evident from the fact that from 1866, when he beat Adolf Anderssen, to 1894, when he relinquished the world crown to Emanuel Lasker, Steinitz won all his matches, sometimes by wide margins. His worst tournament performance in that period was third place in Paris in 1867. This period of Steinitz’s career was closely examined by Chessmetrics exponent and advocate, Jeff Sonas, who wrote an article in 2005 in which he found that Steinitz was further ahead of his contemporaries in the 1870s than Robert James Fischer was in his peak period (1970–1972), that he had the third-highest total number of years as the world's top player, behind Emanuel Lasker and Garry Kasparov, and that he placed 7th in a comparison the length of time great players were ranked in the world's top three.

Despite his pre-eminence in chess for those decades in the late 19th century, Steinitz’s main contribution to chess was as its first true theoretician. He rose to prominence in the 1860s on the back of highly competent handling of the romantic attacking style of chess that had been popularised by Morphy and Anderssen and which characterised the style of the era. However, in the Vienna tournament of 1873, he introduced a new positional style of play which not only commenced his run of 25 consecutive high level victories, but profoundly transformed the way chess was played from shortly after that time, when its efficacy was embraced by the chess world. It enabled him to establish his complete dominance over his long time rival, Johannes Zukertort, and to easily win the first official match for the World Championship.

Lasker summarised Steinitz’s ideas as follows:

"In the beginning of the game ignore the search for combinations, abstain from violent moves, aim for small advantages, accumulate them, and only after having attained these ends search for the combination – and then with all the power of will and intellect, because then the combination must exist, however deeply hidden."

Although these ideas were controversial and fiercely debated for some years in what has become known as the <Ink Wars>, Lasker and the next generation of the world’s best players acknowledged their debt to him.

"He was a thinker worthy of a seat in the halls of a University. A player, as the world believed he was, he was not; his studious temperament made that impossible; and thus he was conquered by a player ..." - <Emanuel Lasker>.

"He understood more about the use of squares than did Morphy, and contributed a great deal more to chess theory.' - <Bobby Fischer>.

Sources: Wikipedia article: Wilhelm Steinitz and <jessicafischerqueen>'s YouTube documentary - in turn sourced mainly from <Kurt Landsberger's> biography "Bohemian Caesar."

Steinitz played on the following consultation teams: Steinitz / Bird / Blackburne, Steinitz / Boden, Burn / Steinitz / Zukertort, Steinitz / Allies, Steinitz / Zukertort, Schiffers / Steinitz, Steinitz / Chigorin, Steinitz / Blackburne & Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere.

Last updated: 2017-02-11 20:05:54

 page 1 of 42; games 1-25 of 1,040  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. K Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1231859ViennaC29 Vienna Gambit
2. Steinitz vs Lenhof 1-0321859Casual gameC52 Evans Gambit
3. Lenhof vs Steinitz 0-1451859Casual gameC23 Bishop's Opening
4. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0341859Casual gameC52 Evans Gambit
5. E Pilhal vs Steinitz 0-1211859Casual gameC53 Giuoco Piano
6. K Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1281859Casual gameC38 King's Gambit Accepted
7. Steinitz vs F Nowotny 1-0311859Vienna CC tC55 Two Knights Defense
8. Steinitz vs NN  1-0161860Casual gameC50 Giuoco Piano
9. Steinitz vs Harrwitz  0-1391860Casual gameB44 Sicilian
10. Steinitz vs NN  1-0151860Casual gameC41 Philidor Defense
11. NN vs Steinitz  0-1241860Casual gameC59 Two Knights
12. Steinitz vs NN  1-0181860Casual game000 Chess variants
13. Steinitz vs NN  1-0201860Odds game000 Chess variants
14. Harrwitz vs Steinitz  1-0251860Casual gameD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
15. K Hamppe vs Steinitz 0-1311860ViennaC27 Vienna Game
16. Steinitz vs NN  1-0201860Casual gameC52 Evans Gambit
17. Steinitz vs E Pilhal 1-0171860ViennaC52 Evans Gambit
18. Steinitz vs NN  1-0241860Odds game000 Chess variants
19. Steinitz vs NN 1-0121860UnknownC25 Vienna
20. H Strauss vs Steinitz 0-1311860Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
21. Steinitz vs H Strauss 1-0331860Casual gameC29 Vienna Gambit
22. Steinitz vs Meitner 1-0261860Casual gameC55 Two Knights Defense
23. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0191860Casual gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
24. Steinitz vs Reiner 1-0321860Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
25. Steinitz vs Lang 1-0291860Casual gameC25 Vienna
 page 1 of 42; games 1-25 of 1,040  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Steinitz wins | Steinitz loses  

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May-10-20  Ron: A tournament in honor of the great man, Wilhelm Steinitz:

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Old Redbeard will be turning in his grave at this affront!
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Publishers McFarland have copies of Tim Harding's latest book, Steinitz in London, in stock since late August. It should become widely available soon but if you want the book quickly, go to the publisher's website.

It is a large hardback of 415 pages in the same format as the author's 2015 biography of British master J. H. Blackburne.>

Sep-19-20  TheFocus: <MissScarlett> From the article in Chessmail:<Steinitz in London importantly includes numerous corrections to Steinitz games whose scores are incorrect in previous books and databases.

We were truly astonished to discover how many discrepancies turned up between databases and printed collections of Steinitz games. None could be trusted and we had to undertake a forensic examination using The Chess Suite, new software written by <Dr Thomas Niessen> of Aachen, Germany, who provided invaluable help.>

Isn't Dr. Thomas Niessen <thomastonk>?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: In a word, yes.

I note the book claims some 60 new (or 'recently rediscovered') games. What are the standard collections of Steinitz's games and how many games do they number?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: I don't know any single database that has more games than Bachmann's game collection. The last edition (four volumes, 1925-1928) contained 991+ games. (The very last game is numbered 969. Outside of this numbering there are 22 games from Steinitz early days in Vienna. And some more games were inserted with a number followed by a letter, e.g., 245a and 340a.)

Bachmann claimed in the subtitle that his collection is complete ("vollständige Sammlung"), and for its time this was certainly a monumental work.

Pickard's book from 1995 contains only slightly more games: 1022.

Today more than 1200 games are known.

May-03-21  Gottschalk: [Event "Magdeburg (Germany)"]
[Site "Magdeburg (Germany)"]
[Date "1896.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Wilhelm Steinitz"]
[Black "Oskar Loebbecke"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A22"]
[PlyCount "98"]
[EventDate "1896.??.??"]

1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. Qb3 Nc6 4. e3 Be7 5. g3 O-O 6. d3 Bb4 7. Bg2 Bxc3+ 8. bxc3 Ne7 9. Ba3 Re8 10. Ne2 d6 11. O-O Kh8 12. Rae1 Rb8 13. e4 g5 14. Bc1 Rg8 15. f3 Qf8 16. h3 Nh5 17. Be3 b6 18. Bf2 Ng6 19. Qb1 Be6 20. Kh2 f6 21. Rh1 Re8 22. Kg1 Re7 23. Kf1 Qc8 24. Be3 Rf7 25. Kf2 c6 26. Ref1 Rb7 27. Ke1 Rd8 28. Qb2 b5 29. cxb5 Rxb5 30. Qa3 Qb7 31. c4 Rb2 32. Bd2 d5 33. exd5 cxd5 34. f4 gxf4 35. gxf4 Nhxf4 36. Nxf4 Nxf4 37. Rxf4 exf4 38. Rh2 Rb1+ 39. Kf2 Qc7 40. cxd5 Qb6+ 41. Ke2 Qg1 42. Qc3 f3+ 43. Bxf3 Qxh2+ 44. Ke3 Qg1+ 45. Ke2 Qh2+ 46. Ke3 Kg7 47. dxe6 Rf1 48. Be1 Re8 49. Bd5 Qe5+ 0-1
Poor Steinitz! Receiving two checks and a skewer. In the final position it looks like he was dragged to the tomb.

May-04-21  Jean Defuse: ...

<Gottschalk> Steinitz vs O Loebbecke, 1896 is a typical CG game which is nonsense - see: P Evtifeev vs V Omeliansky, 1905


Premium Chessgames Member

<Jean Defuse> Very good catch.

Steinitz vs O Loebbecke, 1896 has exactly the same score as P Evtifeev vs V Omeliansky, 1905 .

Obviously one of the games has the wrong players, or even worse- the game was played by still other people, or it is a composition or a hoax of some sort.

Certainly this state of affairs is <nonsense>, as you say.

May-05-21  Chessist: Deutsches Wochenschach, No. 18/19, 10.05.1896, p.149: Steinitz-A. Löbbecke, simul vs 21, Magdeburg, 26.04.1896, 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 ... 19.Ba3 Rf2 0-1. The one score has to be deleted, the other has to be shortened. Black was obviously not Oskar Löbbecke, but presumably August.
Premium Chessgames Member

<Chessist> very good discovery you made.

So now:

Steinitz vs August Loebbecke, 1896


P Evtifeev vs V Omeliansky, 1905


May-06-21  Gottschalk: <Jean Defuse> Ok, I made an error. Sorry for my mistake.
Premium Chessgames Member

<Gottschalk> Possibly might you list your source for the game you posted? That might avoid future replication of the error.

May-07-21  Gottschalk: <jessicafischerqueen>Your suggestion is quite reasonable and practical. I would love to be able to do it, however it's been a lot of time that I downloaded some PGN's to my PC.
I remember that it was a German chess website with chess curiosities, where the author used his own name in the URL, but I don't remember who he was and the site got off the webspace. Please, forgive me.
Premium Chessgames Member

<Gottschalk> No problem, in fact that is helpful new information.

The more data we put in this thread the better.

May-29-21  The Rocket: Weakest World Champion, but sharp tactician.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: <The Rocket: Weakest World Champion, but sharp tactician.>

He is #15 here.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: “Weakest World Champion” is an utterly ridiculous choice of phrasing.

I know I am hardly alone in feeling this reaction. He’s Steinitz. If you want to compare him to the other Greats (with a capital G,) then find a few more words, please!
May-29-21  nimh: <then find a few more words, please!>

The most inferior among them?

On absolute level he sure is due to rising level of play but in terms of greatness or superiority to contemporaries you can easily name several ones in turn inferior to him.

Sep-27-21  Albertan: Visiting Steintz and Lasker at their final resting places:

Mar-22-22  Polonia: 4/1. Willhelm ( William ) Steinitz 1872 - 1894 (Defeated Zukertort in 1872, the 1866 match should not count against Anderssen, because at that time Zukertort was stronger from Anderssen, beating him in 1865)
Apr-02-22  Polonia: courtesy of chess champ:

wilhelm steinitz was wrong to claim championship in 1866 when he beat anderssen, because at the time zukertort was champion!

Adolf Anderssen 1851 - 1858, 1860 - 1865, 1868 - 1871 (23 years on top) Won all matches against Zukertort, except for the 1865 and 1871 match, Steinitz defeated Anderssen in 1866 but Anderssen was not the champ. Co Champions: Paulson drew Anderessen in 1860 match, 5 to 5, one draw, Kolisch did it in 1862 match, 3 to 3 with 2 draws. Anderssen also drew Daniel Harrwitz in 1848 match, 5 to 5, this could be considered the first world championship match since at least 10 serious games were played! In 1860 he drew 11 game match vs Harrwitz. In 1861 he won 9 game match vs Harrwitz. In 1862 he drew 8 game match vs Paulson! In 1864 he also drew Suhle, 3 to 3 with 2 draws. He lost a match in 1865 to Zukertort, regained the title in 1868. Since 1848 match was very competitive and Anderssen defeated everybody who met him, he should be considered the best player of his time.

THIS IS AMAZING FEAT FOR 1893: GERGE MARCO VS CARL SCHLECTHER, I WANT TO SEE THOSE GAMES, <CHESSGAMES, GET BUSY> In match play he drew with Carl Schlechter (+0, =10, -0) in 1893

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: (New Orleans) Times-Democrat, January 5th 1883, p.2:

<Mr. Steinitz tells this anecdote as an amusing instance in his career: He once encountered a very careful and studious player and early in the game captured his queen, and then won the game off hand. The careful and studious player looked very much surprised and, after much reflection, said: "Mr. Steinitz, wherein did I make my mistake?" Mr. Steinitz blandly replied: "You lost the game when you lost your queen." "I didn't lose my queen," indignantly responded the careful man. "I sacrificed her to prevent you doubling my pawns!">

Apr-30-22  Albertan: Taurus and their strategy:

May-17-22  Albertan: Wilhelm Steinitz,thé thinker and the dawning of chess classical age:

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