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Steinitz-Zukertort, 1886

This article is a sample of how Wilhelm Steinitz covered the First World Championship and is presented for your enjoyment from The Collected Works of Wilhelm Steinitz. The Introduction to the Steinitz-Zukertort match will give you a taste of the excitement in the atmosphere at the beginning of the first world championship match. The game itself is richly annotated by Steinitz and shows why he is considered the world's greatest chess instructor. This extract features just one of hundreds of games (850+) annotated by the man who was the idol of Bobby Fischer and revolutionized chess into what it is today! And now, Wilhelm Steinitz:

"At last there is a championship contest in progress before the Chess world, the like of which has not been witnessed since Morphy met Anderssen over the board in 1858. A number of matches between first-class Chess masters have been consummated subsequent to that great event, the last on record, in which two opponents were pitted against each other, each of whom had proved himself superior, by his previous exploits, to all other contemporary rivals for Chess fame. We may say with but little hesitation that the present contest is fully analogous in that respect with the famous match between the American and German master in 1858, for the rox populi fully indorsed this opinion as shown by the extraordinary support accorded by Chess amateurs all over the world to the necessary arrangements for the meeting between Messrs. Steinitz and Zukertort. It may fairly be doubted whether any other Chess expert would have been enabled to raise two thousand dollars as stakes against either of the two contestants in the pending championship match and while we fully appreciate the liberality of American lovers of the game, it is questionable whether a like handsome purse for expenses, such as has been subscribed for on the present occasion, would have been forthcoming for the purpose of deciding the rival claims between any other pair than the one now engaged in the struggle for Chess supremacy.

"Before the 11th ult., the date fixed for the commencement of the match the Special Committee of the Manhattan Chess Club, consisting of Mr. George T. Green, President, and Messrs. F. M. Teed and W. M. De Visser, had completed all arrangements for the contest with painstaking attention to details. Thousands of copies had been distributed in New York and all over the country of a well-compiled program, containing the conditions of the match, a chronological record of the previous performances of both players, Chess Reminiscences of Morphy, by W. J. A. Fuller, besides miscellaneous interesting items of Chess history and biography, which were chiefly contributed by Mr. Frere. Near the front window of the large hall of Cartiers's Academy, No. 80 Fifth Avenue, a well-sized platform had been fitted up on which the players and their Umpires were to be seated and could be easily seen from all parts of the room. An ingeniously constructed Chess board of four feet square was placed on a mantel-piece in the center of the wall for the purpose of illustrating the progress of the game. In the middle of each square a hole had been bored into which chessmen of corresponding size, which had been cut out of thin board wood, could be inserted by means of a peg attached to them, so as to appear flat on the Chess board like the pieces on a diagram. We understand that this novel board and men were made after a plan devised by the President of the Manhattan Chess Club, Mr. George T. Green.

"The two players appeared punctually at two o'clock on Monday, the 11th ult., before a large number of spectators, which rapidly increased to a crowd in the course of the afternoon, and included some ladies us well as several Chess enthusiasts from distant cities, who had specially traveled to New York for the purpose of witnessing the match. Conspicuous among the latter were Mr. D. M. Martinez, the President of the Franklin Chess Club of Philadelphia, to whom a seat of honor was assigned near the players, M. J. Redding of San Francisco, Mr. K. Shipley of Philadelphia, Mr. Osborne of Ansonia, and Mr. Martinez, Jr.

"After the two contestants had been seated before the historical board and men (loaned for the occasion by Mr. Thomas Frere) at which Paul Morphy won many of his brilliant victories, the two Umpires, Messrs. Thomas Frere and Mr. Adolpli Moehle, after having adjusted the clocks, tossed up for the first move which fell in favor of Mr. Zukertort who, amid breathless expectation, opened with 1.d4 and then, in reply to the corresponding same move from the other side, proceeded with the regular Queen's Gambit which was already on the 2nd move of the defense taken out of its usual groove when Steinitz advanced 2...c6 instead of 2...e6. The game then, for a few moves, assumed a form almost identical with the position which occurred in the match between Messrs. Zukertort and Rosenthal and in a justly celebrated game which Zukertort won of Winawer in the London tournament. A change of plan by both parties became, however, soon apparent, for Zukertort, contrary to his former practice did not castle on the Kingside, but at once pressed an attack with his pawns on the Queen's wing, while Steinitz first operated with his pawns in the center and then wheeled round one of his Knights for an early attack against the adverse Kingside, after having, by an advance of the h-pawn, made room for the cooperation of his King's Rook. The crisis was readied on White's 15th move, when Zukertort, disdaining a defensive retreat of his King's Bishop to f1, which, we believe, would have been his best play, subjected himself to a sacrifice of a piece for which the opponent apparently only gained two pawns. But it seems that White had not taken into calculation that, with the help of the King's Rook, Black could force the gaining of another pawn, and that his own King would be confined for a long time to the detriment of his development while Steinitz was enabled to form an attack with the preponderance on his pawns. A great deal of fencing and maneuvering ensued, in which Zukertort aimed at sacrificing a piece or the Exchange for one or more pawns in order to extricate himself from his embarrassment. But Steinitz frustrated that plan and carefully nursed his pawns up to the adjournment of the game, at six o'clock, when he sealed his 32nd move. After the resumption of the game, at eight o'clock, his position became ripe for a final break-in with his f-pawn, which opened the file for his Rook, supported by the Queen, to such powerful action that Zukertort, on the 37th move, elected as a desperate resource to give up his Queen for a Rook. The game was then spun out for nine moves longer during which Zukertort laid some ingenious traps which, if not properly attended to, might have led to a draw or a protracted struggle. But seeing that his opponent finally preserved the advantage of Queen against Rook with an irresistible attack, Zukertort resigned on the 46th move, the game having lasted 5 hours and 15 minutes, of which time the clock of Steinitz recorded 2h. 45m., and that of Zukertort 2h. 30m. Captain Mackenzie regulated the moves on the suspended Chess board for the benefit of the spectators, Mr. Patterson acted as Teller during the afternoon and Dr. Simonson in during the evening sitting."

Steinitz-Zukertort, New York 1886

[Event "Wch-01"] [Site "New York"] [Date "1886.01.11"] [Round "1"] [White "Zukertort, Johannes Hermann"] [Black "Steinitz, Wilhelm"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "D10"] [Annotator "Steinitz, W."] [PlyCount "92"] [EventDate "1886.??.??"] [EventType "match"] [EventCountry "USA"] [Source "Pickard & Son"] [SourceDate "2003.10.15"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 ({The usual defense here is} 2... e6 {The deviation in the text is adopted with the object of bringing out the Bishop to f5, and it also threatens 3...dxc4 followed by 4...b5.}) 3. e3 Bf5 4. Nc3 e6 5. Nf3 Nd7 6. a3 ( 6. c5 {would be premature, for Black could break up the pawns by} b6 {followed by 7...a5 if White defended by 7.b4.}) 6... Bd6 7. c5 Bc7 8. b4 e5 {[Similar positions have arisen in match games between Zukertort (White) and Rosenthal, and in a beautiful game in which Zukertort, who had the attack, won against Winawer in the last London tournament. Black here introduces a change from the tactics of Zukertort's opponents on those occasions, and by the advance of the center pawn, prepares the weakening of the adverse Kingside.]} 9. Be2 Ngf6 10. Bb2 e4 11. Nd2 h5 {[In order to compel the adversary to push 12.h3, for otherwise Black would enter with his Knight at g4, and White could not get rid of it excepting by an unfavorable exchange for the Bishop, as h2-h3 would be afterward of no use, on account of the reply ...Qh4.]} 12. h3 Nf8 13. a4 Ng6 14. b5 ({We agree with Mr. Zukertort who stated to us that he ought have played here} 14. Nb3 {[%cal Ye1d2] in order to prepare an exit for his King at d2 and to strengthen his attack on the Queenside, while the entrance of Black's Knight at} Nh4 {could then more safely be answered by} 15. g3) 14... Nh4 15. g3 ({His best defense now was} 15. Bf1 {whereupon Black would, of course, have proceeded with} g5 {But, as we believe, Black's sacrifice of the Knight which now follows was very dangerous for White in actual play and ought to have been avoided.}) 15... Ng2+ 16. Kf1 Nxe3+ 17. fxe3 Bxg3 18. Kg2 Bc7 19. Qg1 ({If} 19. Qf1 Qd7 {[%cal Yh8h6] followed by 20...Rh6, etc.}) ({But} 19. Nf1 {was his best defense and made it more difficult for the opponent to win, though, after careful subsequent analysis, we find that Black's attack ought to have made its impression by judicious play, and the game might have proceeded thus:} Rh6 20. Rg1 ({or} 20. Kf2 Qd7 21. h4 Bh3 22. Ke1 Bg2 23. Rg1 Qh3 24. Kd2 Ng4 25. Qe1 Rf6 {with an excellent game, for if White defended by} 26. Nd1 {then follows} Bxf1 27. Bxf1 Qh2+ 28. Rg2 Qh1 {followed by 29...Nh2}) 20... Rg6+ 21. Kh1 Rxg1+ 22. Kxg1 Bxh3 {with three pawns for the piece, as White can hardly venture on} 23. Bxh5 {on account of the reply} Ng4 {followed by 24...Qg5 if 24.Bxg4, with an excellent game.}) 19... Rh6 20. Kf1 Rg6 21. Qf2 Qd7 22. bxc6 bxc6 {[%cal Rf5h3]} 23. Rg1 {[Nothing better, for Black threatens to win the Queen by 24...Bg3, after 23...Bxh3+.]} Bxh3+ 24. Ke1 Ng4 25. Bxg4 ({ If} 25. Qh4 Nxe3 26. Rxg6 fxg6 27. Qg5 Ng2+ ({better than} 27... Nc2+) 28. Kd1 Nf4 {and preserves three passed pawns with an extra pawn in the center for the piece.}) 25... Bxg4 26. Ne2 Qe7 27. Nf4 Rh6 (27... Rf6 {looks stronger, but, we believe, on examination it will not be found as sure as the move in the text, for although Black might have thereby won the Exchange and an additional pawn, his game afterward will not appear very satisfactory and seems to leave to the opponent a good attack with some chances of drawing and even winning, e. g.} 28. Rxg4 hxg4 29. Qh4 Bxf4 30. exf4 Rxf4 31. Qh8+ Qf8 32. Qh5 {[%cal Rh5e5] (threatening 33.Qe5+)} Kd7 33. Qg5 Rf6 34. Nf1 {followed by 35.Ne3, with a good game.}) 28. Bc3 g5 29. Ne2 Rf6 30. Qg2 Rf3 31. Nf1 ({Obviously his best, for he could not defend the pawn otherwise, and if} 31. Nxf3 {he would lose a piece by the answer} exf3) 31... Rb8 (31... Bh3 {seems good enough, but, we believe, Black's winning could at least have been made very difficult and much delayed if White had then elected to sacrifice his extra piece, e.g.} 32. Qxg5 Rxf1+ 33. Kd2 Qxg5 34. Rxg5 Rxa1 35. Bxa1 Ke7 36. Rxh5 {with a defensible game. }) 32. Kd2 f5 33. a5 ({Rather weak; but it is difficult to suggest a good move. } 33. Nh2 {might have led to the following variation:} Rh3 34. Nxg4 hxg4 35. Rh1 Qh7 36. Rag1 Kf7 37. Rxh3 gxh3 {and if} 38. Qxg5 {then follows} h2 {[%cal Yb8g8] and 39...Rg8, winning the Queen.}) 33... f4 34. Rh1 Qf7 {[The decisive preparation in support of the Rook before opening the f-file.]} 35. Re1 fxe3+ 36. Nxe3 Rf2 ({Quite good enough and perhaps leading to a speedier decision than the tempting} 36... Rxe3 37. Kxe3 Bf4+ 38. Kf2 {(best)} Rb3 39. Rhf1 Bxe2 40. Rxe2 Rxc3 41. Kg1 {and if Black plays} Rg3 {White would answer} 42. Qxg3) 37. Qxf2 ({The sacrifice of the Queen was forced on this move; if} 37. Qg1 Qf3 38. Nxg4 Bf4+ 39. Kd1 {followed by} Qd3+ {and mates next move.}) 37... Qxf2 38. Nxg4 ({There was no draw by} 38. Rhf1 {and then again attacking the Queen at h1, for Black would release his Queen by} Qh4 {and then interposing the Queen's Bishop at 39...Bh3.}) 38... Bf4+ 39. Kc2 hxg4 40. Bd2 (40. Bd2 {An ingenious attempt to snatch a draw from the teeth of defeat. For if Black accept the tempting exchange by} Bxd2 {then White would answer} 41. Ref1 {and should Black then take the Knight, White would draw by perpetual check with the Rook at h1, as the Black King could never attempt to retreat to d8 or c8 after a check of the Rook at h7, on account of the impending mate by Rf8. Of course, Black could also avoid the draw by} Qxf1 42. Rxf1 {followed by} Bxa5 { but he naturally preferred to preserve his Queen.}) 40... e3 41. Bc1 Qg2 42. Kc3 Kd7 43. Rh7+ Ke6 44. Rh6+ Kf5 45. Bxe3 Bxe3 46. Rf1+ {[In the hope that Black might take the Rook, whereupon he would win the Queen by 47.Ng3+.]} Bf4 0-1

This game along with its commentary was originally published by Steinitz in his International Chess Magazine (February, 1886), and is reproduced in The Collected Works of Wilhelm Steinitz.

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