Chess Mail logo Friend of ICCF award  
Editor: Dr Tim Harding
  Dr. Tim Harding   J. H. Blackburne     Paul Morphy   Correspondence Chess history book   Captain W. D. Evans

Steinitz book: some further research notes

The points in this file are not, strictly speaking, "errata" because they do not correct mistakes in the main text but are nonetheless relevant to the book for readers who like things to be absolutely perfect - an unattainable aspiration in our opinion.

Unfortunately Steinitz in London is not the final word on the first world champion's early career; we never expected it to be. A few of the criticisms we have received are close to pedantry. The book without errors has never been published.

Nevertheless, for the sake of completeness and (in some cases) to give credit to other historians, we will point out the following matters that have come to our attention since the publication of the book in summer 2020. If more come to light, they will be added here.

Page 26, Game 1 (Hamppe-Steinitz, 1859).

In the book there is some speculation about how Ludwig Bachmann came to find this game, which was only first published in the 1890s, but we never claimed to have the final answer. It is certainly somewhat strange that this game which became so famous had not previously appeared in print.

When writing Steinitz in London we failed to notice that Peter Anderberg (in note 36 to his article in Caissa 2/2018 traced the source of this famous game. Leopold Hoffer published it in his column in the London morning newspaper The Standard on 7 May 1894 (page 7) he saying he had received it from Dr. Hermann Neustadtl, who in turn had obtained it from Dr Sebastian Herzfeld. It was subsequently reprinted in other publications, one of which (a newspaper in Bachmann's home city, Augsburg) was probably his source for the game.

There is one mistake in Anderberg's note. Probably misled by the curious naming procedures of the British Newspaper Archive which we have previously criticised, he says that the game appeared in the London Evening Standard, a sister title of The Standard. If you find the game in that archive but then turn to page 1 of the same issue, you can clearly see the correct title of the newspaper on the masthead.

It should be added that Dr Vlastimil Fiala in Quarterly For Chess History 22 (2021, pages 297-298) correctly identifies The Standard as the title of the newspaper in which the game was published, but his calling the game "the genesis of the Steinitz Gambit" is misleading.

Steinitz himself, in The Field of 29 July 1876 where he noted the death of Hamppe (whose surname he spelled incorrectly), did say of the opening variation with an early king sortie, used by his opponent in this and many other games: "The idea gave, rise, however, to the Steinitz Gambit, where the sacrifice of a pawn is added to the perils of White's game at an earlier stage, and before any piece is exchanged." Thus Steinitz acknowledged that Hamppe's pet line gave him the seed of an idea but the way Hamppe played was not itself a gambit.

Pages 84-85, Game 81 (Steinitz-Wilson, 1862).

Fabrizio Zavatarelli has queried the finish of this game, pointing out the version in Chess Player's Quarterly Chronicle, June 1872, pages 70-71, whereas we followed the original publication in The Era which is also in Bachmann's Schachmeister Steinitz. He suggests that it is odd Wilson would choose to postpone the inevitable checkmate by interposing his bishop but not delay it one more move by interposing the queen. It seems presumptuous, though, for a 21st century mind to second-guess an early Victorian's thought processes.

As we point out in the book, there were several published versions of the end of this game, some clearly incorrect. We believe the main issue was that we established 16 Ke3 was played, not 16 Kd3. Having considered the matter in detail, we have come to the conclusion that (to use sporting terminology) "there is insufficient evidence to overturn the on-field decision."

Page 186, missing game scores from Baden-Baden 1870. Following a query by reader Jason Radley, we have established he was right to say that there only four missing game scores that were actually played. Checking this was messy because there was no contemporary tournament book and the game numbering in the two modern books (by Gillam and Haas) do not match. Gillam was actually missing five games because he overlooked one game that had been published (see below).

So we did a detailed investigation. The situation is quite complicated, so we set out our discoveries in full below. For this purpose we disregard Adolf Stern who withdrew early due to being called up to serve in the Franco-Prussian War which began at the time. (He only played against Steinitz and Von Minckwitz.)

The following four games were defaulted for unknown reasons by the Polish/French player named in italics: Rosenthal v De Vere (two games) and v Von Minckwitz (two games).

Gillam's book is lacking the game Winawer v Rosenthal which was published in The Field, 3 September 1870, but Haas included it in his book.

The four Baden-Baden games which are known to have been played but of which the moves were not preserved are:

De Vere v Anderssen, Minckwitz v Anderssen, Blackburne v Winawer, and Winawer v Steinitz. has what purports to be the Winawer-Steinitz game. The moves given there at present are: 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bc4 Bc5 4 b4 Bb6 5 a4 a6 6 0-0 d6 7 a5 Ba7 8 b5 axb5 9 Bxb5 Nge7 10 d4 exd4 11 Nxd4 Bd7 12 Nxc6 Nxc6 13 Bxc6 Bxc6 14 Bb2 0-0 15 Qg4 f6 16 Ra3 Qe7 17 Nd2 Bc5 18 Raa1 Rfe8 19 Bc3 Bxe4 20 Bxf6 Qxf6 21 Nxe4 Qe5 22 Ng3 Bxf2+ 0-1. Investigation shows that these were actually the first 22 moves of Winawer-Paulsen from Baden-Baden which continued for some further moves before Winawer resigned.
This case is not included in our appendix of Dubious and Spurious games and we hope that will take steps to remove this mistaken entry from their database.

Page 196 re: Games 341-344: These four games were played against an amateur, A. Sich, whose forename was unknown to us. Since our book was published, Richard James has done some excellent research which can be found online at British Chess News. James has established that Alexander Sich was a wine merchant and it was probably he who, in 1872, helped Steinitz to prepare for Zukertort by giving him sight of the latter's article about the Steinitz Gambit in the Neue Berliner Schachzeitung. Hoffer's version of this story (not naming Sich) is on page 388 of our book in note 12 to Chapter 8.

Page 217, Games 391 and 392. We now believe that these two "alternation games" may have been played not in June (as we guessed but did not claim) but rather on 5 July, or possibly later, and at Simpson's Divan rather than at Gastineau's house, since one of those involved (John de Soyres) does not appear in the photograph on page 216.

Page 227, Game 433 (Amateur-Steinitz, 1873). We stand by what we wrote in the book about this miniature in the Dutch Defence which Steinitz won against an un-named opponent. The game was published in the Dutch chess magazine Sissa (1874, pages 133-138) under the headline "Buitenland" (which means abroad) so that Bachmann was wrong to say it was played in The Hague. Exactly where and when we cannot discover, though it was possibly somewhere in Europe on Steinitz's way home after the Vienna 1873 tournament.

The game began 1 d4 f5 2 e4 fxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 c6 5 Bxf6+ exf6 6 Nxe4 Qb6 and here Potter-Steinitz, 1872 (Game 352 in our book), had continued 7 Bd3 but Steinitz (in analysis published in The Field) had prepared the trap 7 Qe2? Qxb2! (allowing a double check) 8 Nd6+ Kd8 9 Qe8+ Kc7 10 Qxc8+ Kxd6 11 Rd1 Na6! when Black is winning. The unknown amateur walked into this analysis and was mated on move 18.

The reason we mention this game here is that we later disocvered that the score of the game is identical with one published in Amos Burn's column for the Liverpool Weekly Albion, 9 January 1875, where it was said to be Whittaker-Blackburne, played at Bradford. Indeed Blackburne visited Bradford Chess Club on 10, 11 and 12 December 1874 and on the first night Robert Whittaker was one of his opponents in a blindfold simul. (Blackburne would have been White in that game.) This could well be a game they played on one of the other nights with Whittaker making the same plausible but fatal 7th move that Steinitz's opponent had done. Blackburne was probably familiar with the line from The Field.

So the game was clearly played by Steinitz (the Sissa publication being months earlier than Steinitz's visit to Bradford). The question, probably unanswerable, is whether Blackburne really played the identical game or did Burn make a mistake when writing his column?

Actually they probably did both win the same game. Fabrizio and Zavatarelli found a game by the aforementioned Dr. Wilson where he too won a game in this line in 1876, so it seems that the trick was quite well known in some circles in England.

Page 296 et. seq, Vienna 1882 tournament, rounds 32-34.

Although not usually commented upon (including in my books about Blackburne and Steinitz), the organisers decided to exchange the original pairings for round 32 and round 34. This was, according to the Wiener Allgemeine Schachzeitung (quoted in Christiaan Bijl's tournament book), in order to avoid the games Mason-Steinitz and Blackburne-Mackenzie from falling on the final day because it looked as if they would be crucial for the top prizes. Apparently the tournament committee feared some result-fixing might occur though it is not clear what regulation they used to justify the change.

Their decision had some unintended consequences. The rather chaotic final rounds of this tournament is a subject worthy of an extended article which we may write at some future date. For now, we just want to point out that on the original schedule the game Steinitz-Bird was due to be played in Round 32 (Monday 19 June) and on that day Bird was too sick with gout to play. In fact he defaulted five successive rounds (29-33), only rising from his sickbed on the Wednesday in an attempt, which almost succeeded, to deny Steinitz top honours in the final round.

Page 376, note 59 (also page 409 in the General Index). The wealthy Epstein, who was Steinitz's opponent in a famous anecdote, is mentioned on page 17 (in a quotation) and on page 20 of our main text but we did not attempt a full identification of the man.

We had overlooked the passage in Fabrizio Zavatarelli's Ignaz Kolisch: The Life and Chess Career (page 14) where the author argues convincingly that Steinitz's opponent was Lazar (also known as Leopold) Epstein, 1798-1864.

Our note 59 to Chapter 1 (page 376) mentions that Michael Ehn, in his book Geniales Schach about coffee house chess in Vienna, identifies this person as “textile industrialist and banker” Gustav Ritter von Epstein (1828–1879). That note will be rewritten in any future reprint and the index in future should reference the older Epstein.

In passing, we note that in 1851 the Schachzeitung (volume 6, pages 347-348) printed a letter congratulating Anderssen on his victory in the London tournament. Unfortunately we did not remember this letter when writing the section of our book "Viennese Chess Before Steinitz" (pages 16-19). It was dated 10 September and signed by 37 Viennese chess players, writing from the Cafe Neuner, one of whom was C. L. Epstein, presumably the aforementioned Lazar.

Other signatories to that letter who are mentioned in our book were J. R. von Henickstein, Jos. Matscheko (Matschego according to Ludwig Bachmann), Falkbeer (probably Ernst Falkbeer but might be his brother or both), J. Staudigl (a famous bass singer), and H. P. Schlemm.

Page 398, Bibliography. Fabrizio Zavatarelli points out that Under the Mulberry Tree (the memoir of Gastineau's chess parties, mentioned on page 216) was printed in 1881, according to its review in The Chess Player's Chronicle 28.6.1881, p. 305.

Back to main page about the Steinitz book.