De “Lewis” schaakstukken

Er is al veel gepubliceerd over dit stukje schaakgeschiedenis: de ivoren schaakstukken die in 1831 werden gevonden op de kust van “the Isle of Lewis” (Schotland).

Isle of Lewis

Nog datzelfde jaar werden de 78 schaakstukken in Edinburgh tentoongesteld.

De schaakstukken zijn zeer fraai uit walrus ivoor en walvis tanden gesneden. Uitgebeeld zijn: een koning op zijn troon, een bezorgde of geschrokken koningin, een bisschop of geestelijke, een ridder te paard en staande warders of berzerkers. De pionnen hebben de vorm van kleine obelisken. Momenteel worden ze bewaard en tentoongesteld in de National Museums Scotland en het British Museum.

Het bijzondere aan dezed stukken is niet alleen dat er voor het eerst duidelijke menselijke figuren worden uitgebeeld, maar ook dat een bisschop of geestelijke in het spel voorkwam. Met name dit laatste heeft de discussie over de oorsprong van de stukken doen oplaaien.

De Koning
De Koningin (kijkt ze bezorgd of geschrokken?)

De Bisschop (onze Loper)

De Ridder te paard (ons Paard)

De Berzerker of Warder (onze Toren)

Oorsprong

Het verhaal over de oorsprong van de stukken dat zowel door the British Museum als the National Museums Scotland wordt verteld, is dat de stukken van een koopman waren die van Noorwegen naar Ierland onderweg was. De stukken zouden in de late 12de of de vroege 13de eeuw in Noorwegen zijn gemaakt. Dit heeft men afgeleid uit de detaillering van de mijter die het stuk, dat de bisschop voorstelde, droeg. Dergelijke mijters werden rond 1150 geintroduceerd en rond 1200 kwamen weer andere mijters in de mode.

Maar juist het feit dat we het hebben over een bisschopsmijter heeft tot discussie geleid en wel dat de stukken uit IJsland afkomstig zijn. De term “Bisschop” in het schaakspel wordt alleen gehanteerd in de Engelse en IJslandse taal; in de andere Scandinavische talen, het Duits en het Nederlands is het een “Loper” (van het werkwoord lopen).
In de Engelse taal komt het woord “bishop” pas rond 1450 voor?! Van de andere kant: IJsland was in de Midddeleeuwen nog niet veel meer dan een met ijs en sneeuw bedekt land met hier en daar een boerennederzetting, zodat het ongeloofwaardig lijkt dat de verfijnde kunstwerken die de stukken zijn en de kostbare hoeveelheid ivoor die er voor nodig was, toen in IJsland voorhanden was!

Schaakspel of Hnefatfl?

Andere onderzoekers trekken weer in twijfel of de stukken wel voor het schaakspel bedoeld waren. In de Middeleeuwen was een ander bordspel, Hnefatfl, erg populair in de Scandinavische landen. Met de gevonden stukken is het namelijk mogelijk om 3 beginopstellingen van het Hnefatfl spel te vormen.

Verloren stuk gevonden

Een tijdje terug was dit nieuws in een Engelse krant:

A medieval chess piece that was missing for almost 200 years had been unknowingly kept in a drawer by an Edinburgh family and has been sold at auction for £735,000.

They had no idea that the object was one of the long-lost Lewis Chessmen – which could now fetch £1m at auction. The chessmen were found on the Isle of Lewis in 1831 but the whereabouts of five pieces have remained a mystery.
The Edinburgh family’s grandfather, an antiques dealer, had bought the chess piece for £5 in 1964. He had no idea of the significance of the 8.8cm piece (3.5in), made from walrus ivory, which he passed down to his family.
They have looked after it for 55 years without realising its importance, before taking it to Sotheby’s auction house in London.

The Lewis Chessmen are among the biggest draws at the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. They are seen as an “important symbol of European civilisation” and have also seeped into popular culture, inspiring everything from children’s show Noggin The Nog to part of the plot in Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone.
Sotheby’s expert Alexander Kader, who examined the piece for the family, said his “jaw dropped” when he realised what they had in their possession.

“They brought it in for assessment,” he said. “That happens every day. Our doors are open for free valuations. “We get called down to the counter and have no idea what we are going to see. More often than not, it’s not worth very much. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s one of the Lewis Chessmen’.”
Mr Kader, Sotheby’s co-worldwide head of European sculpture and works of art, said the family, who want to remain anonymous, were “quite amazed”.
“It’s a little bit bashed up. It has lost its left eye. But that kind of weather-beaten, weary warrior added to its charm,” he said.

Het verloren stuk

Despite not knowing its significance, the late 12th/early 13th Century chess piece had been “treasured” by the family. The current owner’s late mother believed it “almost had magical qualities”. A family spokesman said in a statement: “My grandfather was an antiques dealer based in Edinburgh, and in 1964 he purchased an ivory chessman from another Edinburgh dealer. “It was catalogued in his purchase ledger that he had bought an ‘Antique Walrus Tusk Warrior Chessman’.”

From this description it can be assumed that he was unaware he had purchased an important historic artefact. “It was stored away in his home and then when my grandfather died my mother inherited the chess piece. “My mother was very fond of the Chessman as she admired its intricacy and quirkiness. She believed that it was special and thought perhaps it could even have had some magical significance. “For many years it resided in a drawer in her home where it had been carefully wrapped in a small bag. From time to time, she would remove the chess piece from the drawer in order to appreciate its uniqueness.”

The Lewis Chessmen set includes seated kings and queens, bishops, knights and standing warders and pawns. Some 82 pieces are now in the British Museum and 11 pieces held by the National Museum of Scotland. As well as the chess pieces, the hoard includes 14 “tablemen” gaming pieces and a buckle.
Since the hoard was uncovered in 1831, one knight and four warders have been missing from the four combined chess sets.
The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword and the equivalent of a rook on a modern chess board, which “has immense character and power”.
The Lewis Chessmen are among the biggest draws at the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.ade in Scandinavia, possibly Norway, they are seen as an “important symbol of European civilisation”.

The newly-discovered piece is a warder, a man with helmet, shield and sword, which “has immense character and power”.
Following the sale, Mr Kader said: “This is one of the most exciting and personal rediscoveries to have been made during my career. “It has been such a privilege to bring this piece of history to auction and it has been amazing having him on view at Sotheby’s over the last week – he has been a huge hit. “When you hold this characterful warder in your hand or see him in the room, he has real presence.” Despite not knowing its significance, the late 12th/early 13th Century chess piece had been “treasured” by the family.

De Lewis Schaakstukken

Game of Kings, King of Games

In het boek “The Grandmaster” over de match om het Wereldkampioenschap tussen Carlsen en Karjakin in New York 2016 van Brian Jonathan Butler, las ik het volgende fragment over de “duurzaamheid” van het schaakspel:

It’s not an accident that chess has been one of the most durable things humanity has created in the last fifteen hundred years. Think of all the precious, cherished things people have lost in that time along the way to the present: languages, religions, civilizations, entire bloodlines, endless artifacts, and countless stories cast into a common darkness. How did something so seemingly trivial as chess prove so much more durable and immune to the friction and chaos of history? Any child can learn the basics in minutes, yet no human mind will ever be capable of solving it any more than an abacus has a prayer of measuring a black hole.”

Dat geeft wel te denken.

Carlsen – Karjakin match New York 2016

De bewuste match ging tussen regerend wereldkampioen Magnus Carlsen en uitdager Sergej Karjakin. Carlsen was wereldkampioen sinds 2013, Karjakin werd uitdager door het kandidatentoernooi van 2016 te winnen.

De match werd gespeeld in New York vanaf 11 tot en met 30 november en ging over 12 klassieke partijen, waarna de stand 6–6 was. Carlsen verloor de 8e, maar won de 10e partij; alle andere partijen eindigden in remise.

Vervolgens werd er een tiebreak van vier rapid-partijen gespeeld, die Carlsen met 3–1 won en daarmee zijn wereldtitel prolongeerde. De slotzet van de hele match was direct ook de allermooiste van de hele match. Dit is de partij, geanalyserd door David Navarra op de Chessbase site:

(klik op de zet en je ziet een diagram)

Wandelen in Alphen 11/13

Het wordt langzamerhand tijd om het wandelen en fotograferen in een wijdere omgeving dan alleen rondom de Zegerplas te gaan doen. Vandaag toch nog via een kleine omweg naar de Zegerplas gelopen:

Druiligere dag in Alphen

Gauw weer naar binnen om naar Tata Steel Chess te kijken. Zal de wereldkampioen zich herstellen van zijn nederlaag (vanuit onderstaande positie tegen de met wit spelende Epishenko):

Wandelen in Alphen 8/13

Voordat de vijfde ronde van Tata Steel 2021 begint, toch maar even een half “Rondje Meer” gedaan. De wind blies zo ongeveer door je heen, maar de zon deed ook zijn best:

De Zegerplas in een stevige bries

Ik volg het Tata Steel schaaktoernooi online, want er is dit jaar geen enkele andere manier vanwege de Corona (covid-19) situatie. Er is dit jaar (versie 83!) alleen een A groep, maar wel met de wereldkampioen Magnus Carlsen:

Magnus Carlsen in Tata 2021
Magnus met een mondkapje…

Een paar jaar terug speelde ik ook in Wijk aan Zee, in een van de amateurgroepen. Dat is waarom het Tata (en vroeger Hoogovens) schaaktoernooi “wereld” beroend is: naast de allergrootsten spelen ook amateurs van diverse pluimage en schaaksterkte in dezelfde grote zaal! Het zou mij niet verbazen als alle Nederlandse en ook sommige buitenlandse spelers die in de A groep gespeeld hebben, ooit in een van de amateurgroepen zijn begonnen, en toen verlangend uitkeken naar de topgroep letterlijk een paar tafels verder!

De A groep gebruikt dit jaar de hele zaal…

Female Chess – Judit Polgar

In my summary of female World Champions elsewhere on this site, I miss Judit Polgar: the strongest female chessplayer ever. She just refuses to become a female World Champion! I make up for this with a short bio:

Judit Polgar (born July 23, 1976) is a Hungarian chess player. Easily the best female chess player in history, in the April 2004 FIDE rating list (including men and women) she was ranked number nine in the world with an Elo rating of 2728.

Polgar sisters

Judit and her two older sisters (Zsuzsa (GM) and Zsofia (IM)) (from left to right in the picture below) were reportedly part of a educational experiment carried out by their father in an effort to prove that women could achieve high mental aptitude when trained from a very early age (see more below).

Judit, Zsuzsa and Zsofia Polgar

He set out to educate his daughters in many fields, not merely chess, but all three latched on to the game at a young age, and have achieved heights in chess few men ever achieve.

Youngest GM

Judit could almost certainly have won the title of Women’s World Champion of Chess several times over. No other woman was even in the top 100 of the January 2004 FIDE rating list. However, she has refused to participate in women-only chess events, stating that she wants to be the true World Champion of Chess. Amongst her achievements are earning the men’s Grandmaster title at the then-record age of 15 years and 4 months, one month earlier than Bobby Fischer’s previous record.

Her climb up the ranks once seemed to put her on target for the world championship, but although she has played many winning games against some of the world’s best players, she has yet to win a major tournament. She has also been unable to beat former champion Garry Kasparov in any of their encounters in standard time control games. In 2002, she finally beat Kasparov in a rapid game of the “Russia vs The Rest of the World 2002” tournament.

In 2015 she retired from chess.

The Polgar Experiment

Educational psychologist László Polgár studied the biographies of 400 geniuses. From Socrates to Einstein, he researched them all. And now he was preparing for one of the most extreme experiments ever done—so extreme that people thought he was going crazy. A local government even told him to see a psychiatrist to “heal him of his delusions.” But Polgár was determined. He only needed a wife who was willing to jump on board.

Laszlo and Klara

He started corresponding with a number of young ladies, outlining the pedagogical project he had in mind. Klára, a foreign language teacher, was one of them. “Like many at the time, I thought he was crazy” Klára recalls, “but we agreed to meet.” When they were dating, Klára was charmed by him and got interested in his bold idea. They ended up marrying. And so the experiment began.

They named their first daughter Susan. And soon Sofia and Judit followed. László and Klára quit their jobs and devoted their lives to home schooling their 3 children. Polgár believed talent did not exist. Anyone could become a master in any field—the top 3 percent—if you applied the right kind of practice. “A genius is not born, but is educated and trained” Polgár tells The Washington Post. “When a child is born healthy, it is a potential genius.” Polgár had always been an advocate of the practice theory as opposed to the talent theory. He wrote papers on the subject and lobbied with government to change the education system. But nobody wanted to listen. “Children have extraordinary potential, and it’s up to society to unlock it,” Polgár says. “The problem is that people, for some reason, do not want to believe it. They seem to think that excellence is only open to others, not themselves.” It seems that people’s mindsets are programmed incorrectly.

Proof

As nobody wanted to listen to what he had to say, the only way was to prove it. He was going to raise his children to become geniuses. It took him a long time to pick a field to focus on. After his first daughter was born, he knew it was time to finally make a decision. “I needed Susan’s achievements to be so dramatic that nobody could question their authenticity,” he says. “That was the only way to convince people that their ideas about excellence were all wrong. And then it hit me: chess.” He decided to go for chess because the measurement was objective. “If my child had been trained as an artist or novelist, people could have argued about whether she was genuinely world-class or not. But chess has an objective rating based on performance, so there is no possible argument.” In other words, if he announced upfront that his children would be chess geniuses and was able to pull it off, his theory about mastery was proven.

Chess

Polgár, an amateur chess player himself, dived into the depths of the game and learned as much as possible about chess training. With the help of his wife, he turned their modest apartment in the heart of Budapest into a real chess temple. It had a library with thousands of chess books stuffed onto shelves on one wall, with another wall lined with sketches of chess scenes. A file card system took up an entire third wall. It included records of previous games and even an index of potential competitors’ tournament histories.

Once he felt sufficiently developed as a trainer, he started to introduce chess to each of his daughters. And while the children were also learning all the regular subjects and spoke several languages, chess was always at the core.

First results of Susan

At age 4, Susan, the eldest of the Polgár sisters, won her first chess tournament, the Budapest Girls Under-11 Championship, with a 10-0 score. At age 12, she won the World Under-16 Girls Championship. At age 15, despite restrictions on her freedom to play in international tournaments, she became the top-rated female chess player in the world. At age 22, Susan was the first woman to earn the men’s Grandmaster title in the conventional way—the highest rank in chess. By the end of her career, she had won the World Championship for women on 4 occasions and 5 chess Olympiads. In December 2006, she married her long-time business manager and friend, Paul Truong. She now lives in the US where she runs a chess institute and coaches the Webster University chess team, the number 1 ranked team in the nation.

First results for Sofia

Sofia, the middle sister, won the gold medal at the under-11 Hungarian Championship for girls, the World Under-14 championship for girls, and numerous chess Olympiads and championships. But she is best known for the ‘Miracle in Rome’ where she won 8 straight games against many of the greatest male players. “The odds against such an occurrence must be billions to 1,” one chess expert wrote. It is still seen as one of the most extraordinary chess performances in history. She married fellow chess player Yona Kosashvili and moved to Israel. She now helps to run a chess website and is an acclaimed painter.

First results of Judit

Judit, the Benjamin of the family, is considered the best female player of all time. At the age of 12, she was the youngest player ever to break into the Top 100 players’ rating list, ranking number 55. At the age of 15 years and 4 months, she became Grandmaster. At the time, she was the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She defeated 11 current or former world champions in either Rapid or Classical Chess, including Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, and Garry Kasparov. She occupied the number 1 position (highest rated female) for 26 years until she retired in 2015. Today she lives with her husband and 2 children. She authored 2 children’s books on chess and is Head Coach of the Hungarian National Men’s Chess Team. She also founded the Judit Polgár Chess Foundation to bring chess as an educational tool to children in schools.

Laszlo’s gamble

By publically declaring that his children would become geniuses even before they were born, Polgár took a huge gamble. He could be ridiculed and be the laughing stock of science by stating this upfront.

But even then, the talent myth was hard to kill. When his eldest daughter Susan won a local competition as a 4-year-old, the local newspaper called her a ‘genius.’ And father László remembers many occasions when he was congratulated by other parents for having such talented daughters.

Although Polgár was criticized by some for encouraging his daughters to focus so intensely on chess, the girls later said that they had enjoyed it all. “We spent a lot of hours on the chess board, but it did not seem like a chore because we loved it,” Susan recalls. Father Polgár, always careful not to push his daughters too hard, once found Sofia in the bathroom in the middle of the night, a chessboard balanced across her knees and said “Sophia, leave the pieces alone.” Her reply… “Daddy, they won’t leave me alone!” László Polgár ignited their interest and made them care about the game. They became passionate about chess.

Female Chess – The Champions

Below I list the female chess worldchampions.

1. 1927-1944 Vera Francevna Menchik (1906-1944) from Czechoslovakia/England.

Born in Moscow, daughter of a Czech father and an English mother. At the age of nine she learned chess and as a teenager moved with her family to London, where she took chess lessons from Geza Maroczy (Hungarian, 1870-1951), at the time one of the top-10 players in the world. Vera Menchik was easily the strongest female player of her time, having at one time or other beaten most of the strongest players in the world (the defeated became members of the “Vera Menchik Club“). In 1927 she won the first Women’s World Championship tournament with a score of 10.5 out of 11. She defended her title with ease in Hamburg 1930, Prague 1931, Folkestone 1933, Warsaw 1935, Stockholm 1937 and Buenos Aires 1939. Menchik met a tragic death in June 1944. She was killed with her mother and chess-playing sister during one of the last German air attacks on London.

2. 1944-1950 There was no champion(ship)

3. 1950-1953 Liudmila Rudenko (1904-1986) from the Soviet Union.

Ludmila Rudenko from Byelorussian started her career by winning the women’s champion of Moscow in 1928. She went on to win the Women’s World Championship tournament in 1949, with a score of 11.5 out of 15. She held the title until 1953.

4. 1953-1956 Elizaveta Bykova (1913-1989) from the Soviet Union.

Elizaveta Bykova was coincidentally born in a town called Bogolyubovo in Russia. In 1938 she became women’s champion of Moscow, which she subsequently won a number of times. She was first the USSR Championships of 1947, 1948 and 1950. The first Candidates Tournament for women was held at Moscow in 1952. Elizaveta Bikova won the event (+11-3=1), one point ahead of 2nd/3rd places, earning the right to face Rudenko in the first modern Women’s World Championship match. Behind by one point in the last game, Rudenko needed a win to retain the title. She fought hard, but lost. Elizaveta Bikova thus beat Rudenko (+7-5=2) to become the second women’s World Champion.

5. 1956-1958 Olga Rubtsova (1909-1994) from the Soviet Union.

At 17 Olga won the first USSR Women’s Championship. That was in 1927. After that she won a great number of tournaments, including the USSR Women’s Championships of 1931, 1937 and 1949 and the Moscow Championships of 1953 and 1954. The second Candidates Tournament, Moscow 1955, was won by Rubtsova (+13-2=4), one-half point ahead of 2nd place. FIDE decided that the World Championship would be a triangular match of the three strongest players in the world. Olga Rubtsova won at Moscow in 1956, one-half point ahead of Bikova who finished five points of Rudenko.

6. 1958-1962 Elizaveta Bykova (1913-1989) from the Soviet Union.

With no intervening Candidates event, Bikova regained the title at Moscow in 1958, beating Rubtsova (+7-4=3). She accomplished the first successful defense of the title by beating Kira Zvorikina, winner of the Candidates Tournament, with a score of +6-2=5 at Moscow in 1959. In that same year she also won an International Tournament in Amsterdam.

7. 1962-1978 Nona Gaprindashvili (1941- ) from the Soviet Union.

She was born in Tbilisi, Georgia, and was the greatest female player of her generation. She won the fourth Candidates Tournament, Vrnjacka Banja 1961, (+10-0=6) two points ahead of 2nd place. Gaprindashvili crushed Bikova (+7-0=4) in the title match, Moscow 1962, to become the fourth Women’s World Champion. Gaprindashvili defended her title against Alla Kushnir of Russia in matches at Riga 1965 (+7-3=3), Tbilisi/Moscow 1969 (+7-2=5), and Riga 1972 (+5-4=7). Her last successful title defense (+8-3=1) was against her compatriot Nana Alexandria of Georgia at Pitsounda/Tbilisi 1975. Gaprindashvili played in men’s tournaments, winning amongst others Hastings 1963/64 and and tied for first at Lone Pine 1977. In 1978 she came second and earned a full male GM title.

8. 1978-1991 Maia Chiburdanidze (1961- ) from the Soviet Union.

The Georgian was one of the first women chess prodigies, becoming the youngest WIM in the history of the game (in 1974 at the age of 13). The 1976-78 cycle saw two Interzonals at Roosendaal and Tbilisi. Chiburdanidze finished second at Tbilisi behind Elena Fatalibekova, the daughter of Olga Rubtsova, third World Champion. Fatalibekova was eliminated in a semifinal Candidates match by Kushnir, but Chiburdanidze beat Alexandria (+3-2=5), Elena Akhmilovskaya (+4-3=5), and Kushnir (+4-3=7) to earn the right to challenge Gaprindashvili. When 17-year old Maia Chiburdanidze beat Gaprindashvili (+4-2=9) at Tbilisi in 1978, the torch passed from one generation of Georgian women champions to the next. She defended her title against Alexandria at Borsomi/Tbilisi 1981 (+4-4=8), Irina Levitina at Volgograd 1984 (+5-2=6), Akhmilovskaya at Sofia 1986 (+4-1=9), and Nana Ioseliani at Telavi 1988 (+3-2=11).

9. 1991-1996 Xie Jun (1970- ) from China.

Xie Jun became junior Xiangqi (Chinese chess) champion of Beijing at the age of six. She was later persuaded to take up chess. The Georgian domination of women’s international chess ended abruptly at Manila 1991, when the young Chinese star Xie Jun beat Chiburdanidze (+4-2=9). She had earned the right to be challenger by finishing second behind Gaprindashvili at the 1990 Interzonal in Kuala Lumpur, tying with Alisa Maric at the Candidates Tournament, Borzomi 1990, then beating Maric (+3-1=3) in a tiebreak match.

10. 1996-1999 Susan Polgar (1969- ) from Hungary.

The oldest of the famous Polgar sisters initially refused to play in women’s tournaments, becoming a male grandmaster in 1991 at the age of 23. In 1993 she decided to play for the women’s world championship, but did not win the title after a 12-12 draw against Nana Ioseliani. The next cycle was all Susan Polgar’s. After tying with Chiburdanidze in the Candidates Tournament, Tilburg 1994, she beat the ex-World Champion in the final match (+4-0=3), St. Petersburg 1995. She went on to beat Xie Jun (+6-2=5) at Jaen 1996, giving the Polgar family its first World Champion. Susan has also won the Women’s World Chess Champion titles in rapid and blitz chess (both in 1992).

11. 1999-2001 Xie Jun (1970- ) from China.

In the summer of 1994 Xie Jun was awarded the full Grandmaster title. The final match in the Women’s Championship was scheduled to be played in Shenyang, after sponsors from China made the best offer for the prize fund. Galliamova refused to play the entire match in China and the win was awarded by default to Xie Jun. The title match would be Polgar – Xie Jun II. By the time FIDE announced the date and venue for the title match, Polgar had given birth to her first child. She considered that the time to recover from childbirth and to prepare for the new match was insufficient. She requested that the match be postponed, FIDE refused, and negotiations broke down. After the contract deadline passed, FIDE declared that the title match would be played between Xie Jun and Galliamova. The forfeited Candidates match was to be resurrected as a title match! The 1999 match, with a venue split between Kazan and Shenyang, was won by Xie Jun (+5-3=7). A year later, at New Delhi 2000, Xie Jun defended her title by winning the first Women’s Championship played with the knockout format. She beat her compatriot Qin Kanying (+1-0=3) in the final match of the six round event. Xie Jun is one of three women to have at least two separate reigns, besides Elisaveta Bykova and Hou Yifan. Xie Jun is the current president of the Chinese Chess Association.

12. 2001-2004 Zhu Chen (1976- ) from China.

The Chinese player Zhu Chen became Women’s World Champion in the FIDE knock-out event in Moscow 2001, beating Russian Alexandra Kosteniuk in the process.

13. 2004-2006 Antoaneta Stefanova (1979- ) from Bulgaria.

This top Bulgarian female player won the title in the FIDE knock-out championship (June 5th 2004) in Elista, Kalmykia, defeating Russian  WGM Ekaterina Kovalevskaya in the final. In this world championship Zhu failed to defend her title due to pregnancy and attached scheduling problems.

14. 2006-2008 Xu Yuhua (1976- ) from China.

She won the title in the FIDE knock-out championship (March 25th 2006) in Ekaterinburg,  Russia, defeating Russian IM Alisa Galimova in the final. The knockout event had 64 participants, with both former world champion Zhu Chen and reigning world champion Antoaneta Stefanova. Xu Yuhua was 3 months pregnant at the time…

15. 2008-2010 Alexandra Kosteniuk (1984- ) from Russia.

She won the title in the FIDE knock-out championship (September 18th 2008) in Nalchik, in the Kabardino-Balkaria region of Russia. 64 players were eligible to play in the knock-out event, which had a prize fund of US $450,000. Due to the tensions in the region the Georgian players and a few others decided not to participate. Kosteniuk defeated the 14-year-old Chinese wondergirl Hou Yifan in the final.

16. 2010-2012 Hou Yifan (1994- ) from China.

She won the title in the FIDE knock-out championship (December 24th 2010) in Hatay, Turkey. It was a 64-player knockout tournament, with two-game mini-matches qualifying a player to the next round, until the final and 6th round, which was a four-game match to determine the champion. Hou Yifan defeated compatriot Lufei Ruan in the tie-break games of the final to become the youngest World Champion.

17. 2012-2013 Anna Ushenina (1985- ) from Ukrania.

She won the title in the FIDE knock-out championship (November 2012) in Khanty Mansiysk, Russia. It was a 64-player knockout tournament, with two-game mini-matches qualifying a player to the next round, until the final and 6th round, which was a four-game match to determine the champion. Anna Ushenina defeated ex World Champion Antoaneta Stefanova in the tie-break games of the final to become the 14th World Champion.

18. 2013-2015 Hou Yifan (1994- ) from China.

As the winner of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2011-2012, Hou won the right to challenge Anna Ushenina in a 10 game match for the world title. Scheduled from September 10 to the 27th, the Women’s World Chess Championship 2013 was played in Taizhou, Jiangsu, China. She won the match in 7 games with a 5.5-1.5 score (+4 =3, TPR 2730) regaining her championship title.

19. 2015-2016 Mariya Olegivna Muzychuk (1992- ) from Ukrania.

She won the title in the FIDE knock-out championship (April 2015) in Sochi, Russia, after defeating Natalia Pogonina (Russia) 2,5-1,5 in the final match. She was expected to defend her title against Hou Yifan in the Women’s World Chess Championship (match) later in 2015.

20. 2016-2017 Hou Yifan (1994- ) from China.

In 2010, she became the youngest Women’s World Chess Champion in history by winning the 2010 Women’s World Championship in Hatay, Turkey at age 16. In the Women’s World Chess Championship 2012 she was eliminated early, but she regained the title in 2013, defeating Anna Ushenina. She then lost the world title by not playing in the 2015 Championship for scheduling reasons. Hou then defeated former world champion Mariya Muzychuk in the 2016 World Championship match to regain the title. The scheduled 10-game match was held from 1 to 14 March 2016 in Lviv, Ukraine. Hou Yifan won convincingly, not losing a single game.

21. 2017-2018 Tan Zhongyi (1991- ) from China.

In the final match of the World Championship in Tehran Tan Zhongyi defeated Anna Muzychuk on tie-break with 1,5-0,5. The championshio was a 64-player knock-out tournament. The final tie-break of the Women’s World Chess Championship took place in the Espinas Palace Hotel in Tehran March 3. Four previous games with classical time control finished with 2:2 score. Some top female players had decided not to attend the tournament. Hou Yifan, the outgoing women’s world champion and top ranked female player, decided not to enter the tournament because of dissatisfaction with FIDE’s Women’s World Championship system. The 2015 Women’s World Champion, Mariya Muzychuk, and US Women’s Champion Nazi Paikidze also elected not to attend, out of protest at the tournament’s location in Iran, where it is mandatory for women to wear a hijab in public. Other notable absentees were women’s world number 4 Humpy Koneru and 7-time US Women’s Champion Irina Krush.

22. 2018-xxxx Ju Wenjun (1991- ) from China.

In February 2016, Ju Wenjun won the Tehran leg of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix 2015–16. By also winning the last tournament of the Grand Prix in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia, she finished first in the overall standings and earned the challenger spot in the Women’s World Chess Championship Match 2018, which she won. Several months later, in the Women’s World Chess Championship Tournament of November 2018, Ju defended the women’s world chess champion title. In December 2017, Ju won the Women’s World Rapid Chess Championship in Riyadh, and won in the same championship held in St. Petersburg in December 2018, scoring 11½/15 (+8=7) and 10/12 (+8=4), respectively. In January 2020, Ju successfully defended the women’s world chess champion title against Aleksandra Goryachkina in the Women’s World Chess Championship 2020. She won with the score of 2.5–1.5 in the tiebreaker after having equalized the regular matches 6–6.

Jan Hein Donner

I admire the late Jan Hein Donner (1927-1988) more for his writings than for his chess, although he won the Dutch championship three times (in 1954, 1957 and 1958) and had some international success (in Beverwijk 1963 first, ahead of Bronstein, and in Venice 1967 first, ahead of Petrosian).

Jan Hein Donner

The King

On August 24, 1983 Donner suffered a brain hemorrhage that ended his playing career at age 56 (“Just in time, because at age 56 your chess is not as good as at age 26” he sardonically put it). He died at 61, on November 27, 1988. His friends Tim Krabbe and Max Pam compiled his best writings into one volume: “The King: chess pieces”. That’s a book I can recommend to anyone, and I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Jeremy Silman starts his review of “The King” as follows: “I have long complained about the lack of good writing in chess circles. In fact, most of the chess rubbish that passes for prose reminds me of a Republican lecture on family values: rambling, boring, obvious, shallow and always (watch out! This is the part that really offends me!) politically correct. Then a light appeared at the end of the tunnel: a raving Dutch lunatic named Donner had written for years about chess, its big names, its political machinations, the psychology of winning and losing, and so much more.”

And this is what the publisher says: “This is the most outrageous chess book that money can buy! Dutch readers have followed the writing of the legendary, late J.H. Donner for decades. Witty, opinionated, sometimes cranky, he was never boring  – always fun to read. Here is a collection of his best essays  translated into English. We call it the Chess Book of the Century. Limited printing.

The King by J.H. Donner

Harry Mulisch

Jan Hein Donner and Harry Mulisch were close friends. Their friendship plays a major role in Mulisch’s magnum opus “The discovery  of Heaven“. In the two main characters, Max Delius and Onno Quist, the reader can recognise much of Harry Mulisch (Max) and Jan Hein Donner (Onno).

Some Donner data and facts

Johannes Hendrikus (Jan Hein) Donner was born on July 6, 1927 in The  Hague (by the way: Adolph Anderssen was born on July 6 too!). He  learnt to play chess on August 22, 1941. This exact date was  remembered because it was the same day his father was imprisoned by the Germans (remember it was World War 2). He had a special talent for chess, since one year later he played Euwe. In 1944 he joined DD (Discendo Discimus). He was a member of this famous Dutch chess club all his life. In 1945 he started his law studies at the University of Amsterdam, but spent most of his  time there studying and playing chess. He got international fame in the Hoogovens tournament in 1950. He took first place before Euwe and Rossolimo. In 1952 he became an IM and in 1959 an IGM. In 1954 he  wins the Dutch Championship and ends thus the 33 year (!) reign of Euwe. When asked to mention his best game, he said: “… very little remains of the hundreds of games I played. Maybe one. A short one, but one that shows some of the perfection I always sought for, but  almost never found …” This is that game:

Donner Quotes

* “The New Testament is the only detective who patently obviously points out the reader as the guilty.”

* “After I resigned this game with perfect self-control and solemnly shook hands with my opponent in the best of Anglo-Saxon traditions, I rushed home, where I threw myself onto my bed, howling and screaming, and pulled the blankets over my face. For three days and three nights the Erinnyes were after me. Then I got up, dressed, kissed my wife and considered my situation.”

 * “Love is: trying your whole life to teach your wife to play chess.”

 * “However painful it may be, we must not shrink from the truth: women cannot play chess.”

 * “An odor of sanctity began spreading through the tournament hall and outside too, as far as the blast furnaces spewing smoke in  the distance. A few Reformed brethren, correctly assuming that the *MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM* was present in me then and there, gathered around me and asked me if this overwhelming token of Grace was not a Sign for me to return to the service of the Lord of Hosts. He, of Whom we can only speak obliquely, is my Friend, the Helper, by Whom I leap over a wall.” (on salvaging a win from a lost position)

The term mysterium tremendum was used by the German theologian and philosopher Rudolf Otto in his book Das Heilige (The Idea of the Holy; 1917) as description for “arousing spiritual or religious emotion; mysterious or awe-inspiring“. Otto’s concept of the numinous (another term he used for mysterium tremendum) influenced thinkers including Carl Jung and C.S. Lewis. t has been applied to theology, psychology and descriptions of psychedelic experiences.

 * “A real chess game can only be experienced by two people.”

 * “Our game is just too difficult for ordinary intelligent people.”

 * “The chess player who has lost his game – who will describe him? I have seen him unable to move. The public was long gone, the lights were out, and still he sat rigidly in his chair staring at the emptied board, because he had overlooked Bg2. A case of complete petrification, with bystanders whispering and tiptoeing by. I have heard him begging for punishment in blasphemous language. He had forgotten Nh5, and in his dismay he called down annihilation upon himself. Derisively, he rejected our words of solace, demanding insults and chastisements. Standing afar and horror-stricken, I have witnessed him swearing in orgiastic fury to rip off his genitals, because he had played Qf6 instead of Qb6.”

 * “He plays a hideously crooked kind of chess. If correct play and judgment were what counted, he would never win a game. He hasn’t got a clue. He is the worst player in the whole wide world.”  (on Lodewijk Prins)

 * “Prins was in his element. Utter nonsense proved a complete success. It is a sad thing that a player of his level must rate officially as the strongest in Holland.” (on Lodewijk Prins winning the Dutch chess championship)

 * “When I can’t bang their heads together anymore, it is time for me to go.”

 * “My case happens to be less harrowing than it would have been if I had been totally dependent on the Dutch chess world, but not everyone gets the chance to marry a rich woman.” (quite sarcastic, since his wife was by no means rich)

 * “Men want to beat you up, but women want to take care of you. Personally I prefer a beating, because there’s an end of it.”

 * “What’s this? Are you teaching the poor boy to play chess? Fie, for shame! Why not have him drink hard liquor or take him off to a brothel, while you’re at it!” (on teaching a child to play chess)

 * “There is a conviction, deeply rooted in the Netherlands, that no Dutchman can ever achieve anything worthwhile. Euwe was so upset when he became world champion that he got rid of the title as soon as possible.”

 * “Kind, full of promises and guarantees before the contest but a blank amnesia afterwards. That’s the way these gentlemen are.”  (on Dutch tournament organizers)

 * “He probably has not overlooked me at all. No, he has omitted me on purpose. What is more, I have the distinct impression that he has only given his views in order not to mention me! How dare he, the little brat!” (on being omitted from Fischer’s list of the 10 greatest chess players of all time)

 * “I love all positions. Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it. Give me a bad position, I will defend it. Openings, endgames, complicated positions, dull draws, I love them and I will do my very best. But totally won positions, I cannot stand them.”

 * “He has contributed a few notorious drawing variations to chess theory and obviously holds to the firm belief that winning or losing is an abnormal end to a chess game.” (on Trifunovic)

 * “The torrent of rudeness, girlish sulking (‘I’m not speaking with you any longer’) and downright insults I have to put up with from youngsters who are as yet incapable of surpassing me on the chess board may have its psychological explanation, I still find the intensity of their aggression frightening at times. When Bohm avails himself of the publicity surrounding his excellent result in the recent IBM tournament to air his doubts about my sexual prowess and to brand me a malicious gossip, and then triumphantly declares that he has taken his ‘revenge,’ I don’t quite see why, though I suspect it concerns problems that he’ll have to thrash out for himself.”

 * “How could a Western Grandmaster lose to a Chinaman?” (after his loss to Liu Wenzhe in Buenos Aires, 1978). This is the game:

 * “Even in the world of chess there is at least one woman who rates as a world-class player. For inveterate masculinists and for those who must write jocular pieces to earn a living, this is a serious setback, which will naturally not prevent us in the least from continuing our struggle unabatedly.” (speaking of Nona Gaprindashvili)

 * “Women can do everything but they cannot think logically. They have no intuition.”

 * “Great writers must be dead. Their being alive is no good to us. On the contrary, because they are alive, there is something  unfinished about their work. … they may change their minds or  give further explanations, spoiling their work.”

Female chess – Jan Hein Donner

Women, for whatever reasons, have not truly attained an equal footing with the male chessplayers. Madame Chaudé de Silans, one of the better female players (in 1950 she was the first woman to play in an Olympic Chess Team (for France)), had this contemptuous remark on why her own sex didn’t do better: “Women can’t play chess because you have to keep quiet for five hours.

Chantal Chaudé de Silans

On the other hand Milunka Lazarevic, a top Yugoslav female player, notes: “No one asks me why I play better than 19 million Yugoslavs, but only why I play weaker than some 100 (male) Yugoslavs.

Milunka Lazarevic

Indeed, the question has been raised many times: “Why can”t women play chess on the same level as men?“. I”ve seen several answers. The best and funniest ones (in my opinion) were given by the late Jan Hein Donner (more about him soon elsewhere on this site!).

Observations

In 1968 he noted: “However painful it may be, we must not shrink from the truth: women cannot play chess. And, if you ask me, they will never learn to play chess. … And why can”t they play chess? After more than twenty-two years of pure scientific research, I think I have found an explanation. It is a well-known fact that a woman is superior to a man. Physically she is stronger. With her endless patience she will win, in the end, the everlasting battle of the sexes. She can think more logically… She has a far better memory… In everything a woman is superior to a man, but she misses one thing: intuition.

And: “I have studied Fraulein Jorger closely and attentively. In any aeroplane whatsoever, I would completely put myself in her hands, her piano playing is a delight, but chess… forget it, she is hopeless at it, just like any other woman.

A little bit later I hear the echo of a quote by Anna Garlin Spencer: “The failure of women to produce genius of the first rank in most of the supreme forms of human effort has been used to block the way of all women of talent and ambition for intellectual achievement in a manner that would be amusingly absurd were it not so monstrously unjust and socially harmful.

This is what Donner has to say about the subject, in 1972: “The difference between the sexes in chess is remarkably big, but in my opinion no bigger than in any other cultural activity. Women can not play chess, like they can not paint, nor write literature, nor compose music, nor be a philosopher. In fact, there is nothing thought or done by a woman, that is worth noticing. So chess is not to blame. But what is? First of all a woman is far more stupid than a man. And, a woman is not at all capable to amuse herself.”

Reactions

A little bit later after he received some “fan” mail regarding his observation, he writes: “The authoress Hanny Michaelis protested against my assertion that women cannot write, citing a number of names as evidence to the contrary. What a ghastly list it was! The nastiest hags and frumps that ever wielded a pen!

To another woman who wrote: “Donner forgot to mention the blacks. It should have been: women and blacks can not play chess, because they are too stupid“, he answered: “She misses my point: black men can play chess, black women can not.

Adjustments

He adjusted his views a little bit in 1973: “The feeling of horror a real chessplayer gets when looking at women playing chess, should not make us blind for reality. They are not as silly as we like to think.”

And even more in 1977, after Nona Gaprindashvili won the Lone Pine tournament: “Even in the world of chess there is at least one woman who rates as a world-class player. For inveterate masculinists and for those who must write jocular pieces to earn a living, this is a serious setback, which will naturally not prevent us in the least … from continuing our struggle unabatedly.”

And then…

In 2002 Judith Polgar wins from Gary Kasparov (the World’s number one for many years). This was the game:

Judith Polgar – Garry Kasparov

Alas, Donner did not live to see this game…

Wilhelm Steinitz 5/5

Op de site van Tim Krabbé vond ik een Interview met Steinitz. Dat leek me een aardige afsluiting van mijn artikelen reeks!

Zoals we al in eerdere afleveringen schreven wordt Wilhelm Steinitz als de eerste wereldkampioen gezien. Meestal wordt zijn regeerperiode geacht te zijn begonnen in 1886, toen hij in Londen een match tegen Zukertort won. Het is daarom wel aardig om in een lang interview dat hij in 1896 aan het Nederlandse  Tijdschrift gaf, te lezen dat hij zelf vond dat hij al vanaf 1866 wereld-kampioen was, nadat hij Anderssen in een match had verslagen. “Anderssen was op dat ogenblik sterker dan ik” zegt Steinitz, maar hij had gewonnen, en zo was hij al 20 jaar wereldkampioen vóór hij het, volgens de huidige inzichten, op zijn 50ste, werd. Een grote rol speelde daarbij dat Morphy in 1884 overleden was; dat maakte de weg vrij voor een algemene erkenning van een nieuwe wereldkampioen.

Morphy en Anderssen

Steinitz heeft Morphy éénmaal ontmoet, een jaar voor diens dood, in New Orleans. Morphy had in de ontmoeting toegestemd op voorwaarde dat er niet over schaken zou worden gesproken. Steinitz: “Hij was toen reeds lang in een toestand, waarin ik slechts het diepste medelijden met hem kon hebben. Het blijft toch altijd een treurig gezicht een man, in de kracht van zijn leven, die eens als een schitterende ster aan de schaakhemel verscheen, nu zo totaal gebroken voor zich te zien. Men heeft vaak de dwaasheid gehad Morphy met mij te vergelijken. Maar hoe is dat nu mogelijk? Morphy treedt één jaar op en overwint alles wat hem tegemoet waagt te treden en gaat bewierookt naar zijn vaderland terug, waarna hij niets meer van zich laat horen.
Opmerkelijk is dat Steinitz desondanks Anderssen genialer noemt; Morphy is te veel opgehemeld omdat hij zo jong, sympatiek en beleefd was, en hij speelde de openingen slecht.

Interview

Dat grote interview (16 dicht-bedrukte bladzijden) werd gemaakt door een jonge schaker, J. Moquette, ter gelegenheid van een simultaan-toernee die Steinitz door Nederland maakte.

Stel u, waarde lezer, een klein mannetje voor, die geleund op een stok, vriendelijk lachend op mij toekomt en niets wil weten van het verzoek om toch te blijven zitten en zijn gemak te houden, hoewel hij een reis van 8 uur achter de rug heeft. Ieder die hem heeft gezien zal moeten toestemmen dat Steinitz met zijn prettige lach en zijn geestig glinsterende bruine ogen terstond een indruk maakt die ieder voor hem inneemt.

Steinitz maakt inderdaad een sympatieke indruk, ook op de lezer van 104 jaar later, en hij bederft dat niet eens met zijn verhalen over alle ellende die hem in zijn leven getroffen heeft. “Allerlei rampen overvielen mij, maar als ik u dat alles wilde vertellen zou ik om vier uur nog niet uitgepraat zijn.

Hij heeft reumatiek aan beide benen, zijn rechterknie is kapot getrapt door een paard, een zonnesteek doodde hem eens bijna en bracht hem aan de rand van de waanzin, zijn vrouw, dochter en broer stierven, er werd een moord-aanslag op hem gepleegd, twee beroerten verlamden hem half, hij raakte schaakrubrieken kwijt en werd bedrogen door uitgevers.

Steinitz is er trots op beroepsspeler te zijn, maar toch: ‘Stel u eens voor, dat ik niets voor schaken voelde; dat het enig doel waarom ik speelde geld was, dan was ik toch een der beklagenswaardigste mensen die er bestaan. Het schaakspel is zo ver boven elk ander spel verheven dat ik er geen enkel mee durf te vergelijken. Het bezielt zo, dat ik niet geloof dat enig goed speler onder het spel een kwade gedachte kan koesteren.

Niemand zal kunnen beweren dat het de harstochten opwekt omdat het spel te rein, te edel is. Wilt u mij beschouwen als beroepsspeler, goed, ga uw gang, maar vergeet niet dat ik bovenal een kunstenaar ben, die de kunst die hij beoefent, zijn gehele leven door, zoveel mogelijk populair heeft trachten te maken.

Het woord beroepsschaker staat bij velen in een ongunstige reuk, maar waarom? De amateurs nemen toch ook op de grote wedstrijden heel kalm de geldprijzen aan en wie heeft er verder mee te maken of ik brood of koek voor dat geld wil kopen. Anderssen had een heel ander oordeel over de beroepsschakers dan de meeste anderen. Toen ik hem eens vroeg wat hij over dergelijke spelers dacht, was zijn antwoord: “Beroepsschakers zijn de hoogste uiting der kunst”.”

Simultaan

De seances, in Hilversum, Rotterdam, Haarlem, Den Haag en Leiden, werden niet al te druk bezocht, en uit Moquette’s verslag blijkt ook dat Steinitz nogal traag speelde – de simultaan in Rotterdam, met 25 tegenstanders, duurde van half 9 ’s avonds tot 3 uur ’s nachts. In Haarlem en Leiden werden daarom de partijen rond middernacht gearbitreerd.

’t Is een hoogst eigenaardig gezicht die invalide te zien voortstrompelen van bord tot bord. Leunend op zijn linker ellenboog ziet hij de positie nauwkeurig aan en doet daarna zijn zet. Dan ziet hij zijn tegenstander even aan, alsof hij op diens zet wil wachten. De meesten geven hem een teken dat hij door kan gaan, sommigen laten zich verleiden en worden het slachtoffer van hun overijling. Is de positie zeer interessant of de tegenpartij zeer sterk dan duurt Steinitz’ tegenzet langer. Zo nu en dan gaat hij even op een stoel zitten om spuitwater en citroen te drinken en een nieuwe sigaar aan te steken, maar nooit langer dan een minuut. Het is volstrekt geen kwelling voor een der tegenstanders zijn partij te moeten opgeven, want een vriendelijke lach en een kalmerend ‘ah’ stelt een ieder op zijn gemak.

Wilhelm Steinitz 4/5

In 1883 werd Steinitz tweede in het sterke toernooi in Londen. Eerste werd Zukertort. Dit gaf natuurlijk opnieuw aanleiding voor het oprakelen van de discussie wie nu eigenlijk de wereldkampioen schaken was.

In datzelfde jaar besloot Steinitz Engeland te verlaten en definitief in New York te gaan wonen. Maar deze emigratie zorgde niet dat er een einde kwam aan de “Ink War”, want sommige van zijn vijanden wisten de Amerikaanse pers aan hun kant te krijgen.

Zukertort

In 1885 begon Steinitz met de publicatie van het International Chess Magazine, wiens editor hij tot 1895 bleef. In “zijn” magazine beschreef hij chronologisch de moeizame onderhandelingen met Zukertort om tot een match te komen. Het kwam zelfs zover dat Steinitz voorstelde om af te zien van alle vergoedingen voor onkosten en van een aandeel in het prijzenfonds, zodat de match “a benefit performance, solely for Mr. Zukertort’s pecuniary profit” zou zijn. Uiteindelijk kwam het tot een akkoord: in 1886 zouden Steinitz en Zukertort een match spelen in New York, St. Louis en New Orleans, en dat de winnaar degene zou zijn die als eerste 10 partijen won. Steinitz drong er op aan dat de match “for the Championship of the World” zou zijn. Bovendien wilde Steinitz spelen onder de Amerikaanse vlag (hoewel hij nog niet officieel genaturaliseerd was).

Na vijf aprtijen in New York stond het 4-1 voor Zukertort, maar aan het eind van de rit was het 12½–7½ voor Steinitz (tien gewonnen, vijf remises, vijf verloren). De manier waarop Zukertort instortte (hij won slechts één van de laatste vijftien partijen) werd later beschreven als “perhaps the most thoroughgoing reversal of fortune in the history of world championship play.”

Wereldkampioenschap

In 1887 begon het American Chess Congress aan het opstellen van de regelmenten voor het wereld-kampioenschap schaken. Steinitz was hier een actieve voorstander van, al dacht hij dat hijzelf te oud werd om wereldkampioen te blijven. In zijn eigen magazine schreef hij:

I know I am not fit to be the champion, and I am not likely to bear that title forever“.

Maar in 1888 wilde de Havana Chess Club een match sponsoren en organiseren tussen Steinitz en degene die Steinitz waardig achtte als tegenstander. Steinitz koos de Rus Mikhail Tchigorin.

Mikhail Tchigorin

Voorwaarde was wel dat de invitatie aan Tchigorin niet kwam als een uitdaging van Steinitz en evenmin dat het een match om de wereldtitel zou zijn. De match zou om maximaal 20 partijen gaan en dat was voor Steinitz een argument om niet voor de wereldtitel te spelen:

“Fixed-length matches were unsuitable for world championship contests because the first player to take the lead could then play for draws”,

Bovendien was Steinitz samen met het American Chess Congress bezig met het world championship project.

De match werd uiteindelijk wel begin 1889 gespeeld in Havana, en gewonnen door Steinitz (tien gewonnen, een remise, zes verloren).

Het voorstel, waarmee het American Chess Congress kwam, was duidelijk een compromise tussen voorstanders van matches en die van toernooien.

De winnaar van het toernooi dat in 1889 in New York gehouden zou worden, mag zich wereldkampioen noemen, maar moet bereid zijn om binnen een maand een match om de titel te spelen met degene die tweede of derde zou worden.

Steinitz gaf aan niet in een toernooi om de wereldtitel te willen spelen en zou ook de winnaar niet uitdagen, tenzij dat niet gebeurde door nummer twee of drie in het toernooi.

Het toernooi vond plaats, maar had een verrassende uitkomst: Mikhail Tchigorin won samen met de Oostenrijker Max Weiss, en de play-off eindigde in vier remises.

Toen trok Weiss zich terug wegens drukke werkzaamheden. Tchigorin twijfelde, omdat hij al een match met Steinitz had gespeeld en verloren. Toen rook de derde prijswinnaar, Isidor Gunsberg, zijn kans en daagde Steinitz uit. Die match werd in 1890 in New York gespeeld en eindigde in een 10½–8½ overwinning voor Steinitz.

Het American Chess Congress format werd daarna niet meer herhaald en Steinitz speelde daarna alleen nog matches die hij persoonlijk regelde, daarbij gedreven door geldnood.

Zo was er in 1892 opnieuw een match in Havana met Tchigorin om de wereldtitel. Steinitz won nipt (tien gewonnen, vijf remises, acht verloren).

Mikhail Ivanovich Chigorin (1850-1908)

Als partij kies ik de 23e in die match, want:

The highlight of this match is the biggest shock ending in the history of the Championship. In game 23, Chigorin, a piece ahead, was on the verge of tying the score at 9-9 and sending the match into overtime. Rather than sealing his move, he made it on the board, and in so doing, unprotected his h-pawn allowing Steinitz a mate-in-two that ended the match.”

(klik op de zet en je ziet een diagram)

Het overkomt ons allemaal….