Wilhelm Steinitz - the first World Champion
The year 1886 is a year of colossal importance in the history of chess.
On January 11th, the first official match for the title of the World Champion between Wilhelm Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort took place.
Although many notable matches took place in the preceding years, this match was the first in which the official "World Champion" term was used.
By winning the match with the 10 - 5 score, the 50-year-old Steinitz became the first World Champion in the chess history.
Wilhelm Steinitz is universally recognised as the father of the modern chess. Whereas everyone else was relying mostly on gambit openings and sharp tactical play, Steinitz revolutionised chess with his principles of strategic and defensive play, which laid the foundation for the subsequent development of chess in decades to come.
However, nowadays very few remember that in his youth Steinitz was as fearless attacker as everybody else. Only when he realised that such reckless style doesn't guarantee him superiority over his contemporaries did he switch to the more positional, strategic play. Only from this positions of strength did he launch the vigorous attack that his opponents were unable to parry.
While going through his games, I was impressed with Steinitz's deep understanding of the game. Sometimes his games were so much sided, that one gets the impression that he was playing amateurs in simultaneous exhibitions and not the strongest masters of those times.
In this overview of Steinitz's best games, I have tried including games that demonstrate every aspect of Steinitz's play mentioned above:
- Tactical escapades in the youth
- Strong attacks resulting from the superior strategic positions
- Tenacious defensive skills which frustrated his opponents
Hope you will enjoy.