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Alexander McDonnell
Number of games in database: 107
Years covered: 1825 to 1835

Overall record: +35 -48 =14 (43.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 10 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (19) 
    B21 B32 B30
 King's Gambit Accepted (13) 
    C33 C37 C38
 Evans Gambit (6) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 Evans Gambit (19) 
    C51 C52
 Queen's Gambit Accepted (15) 
 Giuoco Piano (6) 
 King's Pawn Game (4) 
    C44 C20
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 0-1
   La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell, 1834 0-1
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs NN, 1830 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 1-0
   McDonnell vs NN, 1835 1-0
   McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1834 1-0

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Blunder check: Alexander McDonnell by nimh
   Selected 19th century games by atrifix
   zumakal blunders archivadas5 by zumakal
   Ideas by LaBourdonnaisdeux

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Alexander McDonnell
Search Google for Alexander McDonnell

(born May-22-1798, died Sep-14-1835, 37 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]
Alexander McDonnell was born in Belfast, Ireland. A player of GM strength, he initially studied chess under William Lewis in the 1820s and from June to October 1834 contested six matches against Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais. Although he lost by an overall score of (+27, =13, -45), the high standard of play did a great deal to raise the profile of chess in both France and England. McDonnell died in 1835 of Bright's Disease (now known as acute or chronic nephritis) and is buried in Kensal Green cemetery in London.

Wikipedia article: Alexander McDonnell

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 107  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Captain Evans vs McDonnell 1-0201825LondonC52 Evans Gambit
2. McDonnell vs NN 1-0281828EnglandC38 King's Gambit Accepted
3. Captain Evans vs McDonnell 1-0201829LondonC51 Evans Gambit
4. McDonnell vs NN 1-0171830London000 Chess variants
5. McDonnell vs J Finch 1-0151830Casual000 Chess variants
6. McDonnell vs Harrison 1-0221830Casual000 Chess variants
7. NN vs McDonnell 0-1521830CasualC20 King's Pawn Game
8. McDonnell vs NN 1-0241830CasualC33 King's Gambit Accepted
9. McDonnell vs A D'Arblay 1-0271830Casual000 Chess variants
10. McDonnell vs J Finch 1-0261830Casual000 Chess variants
11. F Lavagnino vs McDonnell 0-1291830London around000 Chess variants
12. McDonnell vs NN 1-0211830CasualC30 King's Gambit Declined
13. McDonnell vs NN 1-0241830Casual000 Chess variants
14. McDonnell vs W M Popert 1-0191830England000 Chess variants
15. McDonnell vs NN 1-0181830Casual000 Chess variants
16. W Fraser vs McDonnell 0-1251831MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
17. McDonnell vs W Fraser 1-0371831MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
18. McDonnell vs W Fraser ½-½741831MatchC00 French Defense
19. W Fraser vs McDonnell 1-0541831MatchC53 Giuoco Piano
20. McDonnell vs W Fraser 1-0371831MatchC00 French Defense
21. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell ½-½591834London m4 ;HCL 18C20 King's Pawn Game
22. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-1361834London m4 ;HCL 18D20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
23. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell ½-½931834London m4 ;HCL 18D20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
24. La Bourdonnais vs McDonnell 0-1471834London m3 ;HCL 18D20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
25. McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais 0-1591834London m3 ;HCL 18C38 King's Gambit Accepted
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 107  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | McDonnell wins | McDonnell loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-17-13  LIFE Master AJ: And if you need PROOF, I would suggest Soltis's book on the History of the U.S. Championships. (Lots of cross-tables, educate yourself.)
Mar-17-13  LIFE Master AJ: And if you want to settle the argument, write Winter.

ChessBase, USCF, (me) [and many others!!!] consider him to be the final authority on such matters.

If you don't then I would suggest you are <again> just full of hot air ... but we all know that this is par for the course.

Mar-17-13  TheFocus: Poor <AJ>. Someone points out that you were wrong, even provide evidence, and you respond with insults. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I did a search at <Chess Notes>, and not surprisingly, your name doesn't turn up. So much for Winter citing your pages.

My name shows up. <thomastonk>'s does. But not yours. Hmmm. I wonder why?

Mar-17-13  TheFocus: And, let me point out that <Winter> does not hold Chernev as the most trust-worthy of sources in:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: <Been involved with chess since before you were born ... forgotten more about chess than you will ever know ...>

Let's see

Thomas Niessen

Highest rating achieved in database: 2495.

A J Goldsby

Highest rating achieved in database: 2283

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: So <thomastonk>'s alterego is Thomas Niessen ?

I didn't know that. That's what I like about this site, the pleasant revelations that sometimes occur.


Mar-19-13  LIFE Master AJ: BTW - one more addendum. Although he never personally gave me lessons, I became master probably because of Chernev's books. Chernev's books on "The Most Instructive Games of Chess" and also the one on Capa's best endings ... at one time, I had memorized many of these games.I am sure I would never had become a master, if not for the writings of Chernev.
Mar-20-13  LIFE Master AJ: Today, I probably have a couple of thousand books, I don't even try to count them any more. (Something like five bookcases full. Some shelves, have stacks in back and rows in front ... and just about all of them have stacks - that go nearly to the ceiling - on top.)

However, I can still clearly remember when I only had around 15-20 books in my library. (This was back in the early 1970's.) A few favorites were:

#1.) "The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played." (Chernev)

#2.) "The Complete Chessplayer." (Reinfeld)

#3.) "1000 (best) Short Games of Chess" (Chernev)

#4.) "Capa's Best Endgames," (Chernev).

#5.) "The Chess Companion," (Chernev).

#6.) A Pamphlet on Staunton's Games. (I forgot who did it, I won this as a prize at a chess tournament, I lost it many years ago.)

#7.) A Dover reprint (soft cover, blue)of Paul Morphy's Games.

The rest were all opening books ... ... ... (King's Indian, Dragon, Benoni, two on the Grunfeld, etc.)

At one time, I had literally memorized all the (complete) games in the first two books, several friends (Bruce Andersson and David Kurjan) who knew me in my High School days can attest to this.

Mar-21-13  LIFE Master AJ: See also a few of my comments on:
McDonnell vs La Bourdonnais, 1835, as they are relevant here.
May-22-13  brankat: A very fine master Mr.McDonnell.
May-22-13  thomastonk: From "The Belfast News Letter", Oct 2, 1835:

"Chess - Death of Mr. M`Donnell - The amateurs of chess in this country have to regret the loss of Alex. M`Donnell, Esq. who died last week at the early age of 37. This gentleman was not only the best chess player in the united kingdom (sic), but the best our country has possessed since Philidor. His talents were not, however, confined to this one pursuit, but appeared equally to grasp and command a variety of subjects, difficult of attainment to ordinary minds. He was the author of several valuable works on political economy, West India commerce, and foreign trade in general, and his style, which was remarkable perspicuous, illuminated his comprehensive views with great felicity. By the Westminster and London Chess clubs, of which he was a member, this melancholy bereavement of their best player is felt as a domestic misfortune. It was Mr. M`Donnell who played the long series of games, amounting to nearly 100, with Mons. de la Bourdonnais, in the Westminster Chess Club, about a year past. Mr. M`Donnell for many years held the high situation of secretary to the West India Committee at the Dock-house in Billiter-square, London, and was the son of Dr. M`Donnell, of Belfast."

May-22-13  thomastonk: From "The Hull Packet", Oct 2, 1835:

"Chess - The amateurs of chess in this country have to regret the loss of Alexander M`Donnell, Esq., who died last week at the early age of 37, after a short illness. This gentleman was not only the best chess player in the United Kingdom, but the best our country has possessed since Philidor. Indeed Philidor was a Frenchman, though the greater part of his life was spent in England, it may be fairly said that Mr. M`Donnell was the greatest English player upon record."

<Here the text continues about his talents, books etc. like the obituary above.>

"The chess world will not soon forget him, and by the Westminster and London chess clubs, of which he was a member, this unexpected and melancholy bereavement of their best player is felt as a domestic misfortune. It was Mr. M`Donnell, who played the long series of games, amounting to nearly 100, with Mons. de la Bourdonnais, in the Westminster chess club, about a year past. His excellence as a chess-player was associated with a kindly spirit, of the finest quality. He was always ready for the field, not only to play, but to instruct ; and in this respect nothing could exceed the patience with which he would communicate information to the less advanced amateur. To eulogize his skill in the science is needless - he leaves none behind him whose names are worthy of being written on the same page. In his life he was beloved, in his death he is deeply lamented. Mr. M`Donnell for many years held the high situation of secretary of the West India committee at the dock-house in Billiter-square, and was the son of Dr. M`Donnell, of Belfast. He died at his residence in Tavistock-square, and his remains are interred in the cemetery an the Harrow-road."

May-22-13  KlingonBorgTatar: Albeit for a brief period of time, McDonnell was the world's best player or proto world champion from the time he won the second match from de la Bourdonnais till he lost the third match of their series. He was leading the unfinished sixth and final match when he was taken away from this world and who knows what the result could have been had he lived a few weeks longer. Paul Morphy considers the games of these two gentlemen the finest chess ever and went as far to annotate15 of them. There is a picture of McDonnell in Edward Winter's site.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ketchuplover: Pieces out.
May-23-13  thomastonk: <KlingonBorgTatar: ... what the result could have been had he lived a few weeks longer.> The 6 matches were played in the summer of 1834, McDonnell died one year later.

<Paul Morphy considers the games of these two gentlemen the finest chess ever ..> Such statements were often made in the 1840s by earlier authors. Morphy begun the series of commented games with a compliment, and called the games "beautiful models of chess strategy". But prior to that he had already presented his true intention: "True, they have been published before ; but no satisfactory analysis has, to our knowledge, ever been appended to them." His comments do not follow the tradition to praise everything both men played. He clearly distinguished between the good and the bad parts of their games. The opening play, and in particular McDonnell's, is several times harshly criticized. Here is one example: "The great fault to be with M'Donnell's play in all these Sicilian and French openings, as also in the Queen's Gambits, is loss of time, which, against such a powerful antagonist as Labourdonnais, could ill be afforded by any player."

<... and went as far to annotate15 of them.> More than twice times as much: games annotated by Morphy.

<There is a picture of McDonnell in Edward Winter's site.> Mr Winter's feature article entitled "Alexander McDonnell" begins with these words: "No picture of Alexander McDonnell has ever been found, ...". But at the end of that article one can find at least an old picture of his grave.

From your user profile: <"I am a former director of the National Chess Federation of the Philippines. Used to be rated at 2200. Just retired from my chemistry and engineering career but just 'unretired' from chess!> Good to know. I am sure, you'll understand that I don't like to correct sloppy statements in this way. So, with due respect, I would like to ask you to be more careful with the facts. Thanks.

Nov-19-14  LarsenBentYou: Not to nitpick, but how do we know McDonnell was GM strength?
Oct-07-15  The Kings Domain: Does anyone know if an image of McDonnell survives? I have yet to come across one.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi K.D.

Always try Edward Winter if stuck.

The very first line.

"No picture of Alexander McDonnell has ever been found."

Oct-07-15  The Kings Domain: Sally Simpson: Thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: McDonnell made his fortune in the West Indies, while La Bourdonnais was born in Reunion. Does this tell us something about the colonial economy of the early 19th century - and the social background of chessplayers - or is it just coincidence?
May-05-16  Christoforus Polacco: McDonnell - one of the greatest chess ''gods''... He died too early....
May-22-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Alexander McDonnell.
May-22-16  offramp: He would only need a week's revision on opening theory and he would be World Chess Champion.
Jun-09-16  Christoforus Polacco: <offramp> I understand McDonnell very well beacause I play very often unsound openings because I like them :) What is unsound is playable :) - probably Tartakower said it. For example : 1.e4 e6 2.f4 ?! McDonnell liked too such extravagant openings. On the higher level of chess programme I lost many times (sometimes only I won or draw) this variant of declined Morra Gambit : 1.e4 c5 2.d4 cd 3.c3 Nf6 4.e5 Nd5 5.Nf3 Nc6 d6 ?! 7.Bc4 Nb6 8.B:f7+ ?! but anyway it's very exciting play.
Nov-10-16  TheFocus: Besides, I'm trying to catch up to <cormier>!!
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