Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The First World Champion

As the Match between Anand and Kramnik approaches I thought it might be interesting to go over some history of an old World Champion. The first World Champion was Wilheim Steinitz and most consider his match with Zuckertort in 1866 as the first official World Championship Match. After trailing 4-1 Steinitz fought back to win 12.5 -7.5. Chigorin was the next challenger.

Here are some comment I found at http://www.e3e5.com/ by Kramnik on the First World Champion.
"Steinitz was the first to realize, that chess complies with some common principles, although it is a very complicated game. Before Steinitz chess players brought up only separate subjects; for example, Philidor adduced and upheld the thesis:"Pawns are the soul of chess".
My impressions of Steinitz and other chess players of the 19th century are somewhat scrappy, that`s why I want simply to impart my thoughts brought by the examination of these games. I`ve studied rather attentively the matches between Steinitz and Chigorine, Lasker...
Steinitz began to look at things broader, to provide common base for separate conclusions. However, frankly speaking in his works there can be found quite a lot of examples of his decisions that do not quite correspond with his own rules. Steinitz began to get to some ideas, but he was far from getting to the heart of the matter.
I think he was not very good at dynamics; the dynamics was obviously his weak point. Thus, he constantly moved black pieces on very difficult positions in matches with Chigorin. For example, he took a pawn in the Evans Gambit and after that withdrew all the pieces to the eighth rank.
Steinitz was a strong practical player. He had profound and original ideas; for example, he asserted that king is a strong piece, which can defend itself. Certainly, the idea is original and in some instances it is correct, but it can`t be observed as the classical essential chess principle.
People simply played chess before Steinitz and he began to study it. But, as often happens, the first attempt is merely an attempt. With all my respect to the first world champion I can`t call him the founder of any doctrine. He was an experimentalist and pointed out that there are certain regularities in chess, which are worth thinking about.

Steinitz,W - Chigorin,M [D07] 2nd World Championship Match Havana (Game14), 19.02.1889

After 13 previous games Steinitz had a one point lead going into this game.
1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 Bg4 3.c4
Game two proceeded 3.Ne5 Bh5 4.Qd3 and Steinitz went on to win.

This opening now carries Chigorin's name. Miles and Morozevich are modern names who have tried this opening with some regularlity.
Chigorin tried 3...Bxf3 in game 4 and lost in 22 moves and clawed back a win in game 6 with it but then didn't try it again in the match.
4.cxd5 Bxf3 5.gxf3 Qxd5 6.e3 e5 7.Nc3 Bb4 8.Bd2 Bxc3 9.bxc3 Qd6 10.Rb1 b6 11.f4 exf4 12.e4 Nge7 13.Qf3 0-0 14.Bxf4 Qa3 15.Be2 f5 16.0-0 fxe4 17.Qxe4 Qxc3 18.Be3 Qa3 19.Bd3 Qd6 20.Qxh7+ Kf7 21.Rb5 Nxd4 22.Qe4 Rad8 23.Bxd4 Qxd4 24.Rf5+ Nxf5 25.Qxf5+ Kg8 26.Qh7+ Kf7 ½-½ Kasparov,G-Smyslov,V/Vilnius 1984/Candidates
4...e5 5.Qb3 Bxf3 6.gxf3 Nge7
6...exd4 7.cxd5 Ne5 8.exd4 Nd7 9.Nc3 Qe7+ 10.Be3 Qb4 11.Qc2 Ngf6 12.Bb5 Rd8 13.0-0-0 a6 14.Ba4 Be7 15.Rhg1 g6 16.Bh6 b5 17.Bb3 Nb6 18.Rge1 Kd7 19.Bf4 Rc8 20.a3 Qa5 21.Bg5 Ng8 22.Bxe7 Nxe7 23.Ne4 Rb8 24.Nf6+ Kd8 25.Rxe7 Kxe7 26.Qxc7+ Nd7 27.Qxa5 1-0 Steinitz,W-Chigorin,M/Havana 1889 Game 10/
7.Nc3 exd4 8.Nxd5 Rb8 9.e4


As the game proceeds it appears that this knight is unfortunately placed.
9...Ne5 10.f4 Nd7 Black's knight are better placed to attack white's center with ideas of f5 and Nc5.
10.Bd2 Bd6 11.f4 0-0 12.0-0-0 Nce7 13.f5!
White is able to retard black's pieces nicely.
13...Nxd5 14.cxd5 Nf4
14...Ne7 15.f6 Ng6 16.fxg7 Kxg7 17.Qh3 White is not immediatley winning but black has to squirm like a pro to hold on.
15.Qf3 Qh4 16.Rg1 h5 17.Kb1 c5
If black tries to save his knight by 17...d3 trying to hop to e2 then 18.Bc3 and the open g-file Bishop pair and strong pawns make black's life a struggle for survival.
The piece cannot be saved now.
18...Ng6 19.Qxd6 Qxe4+ 20.Ka1 Qxf5 21.Qg3 Qxd5 22.f4

Black may appear to have even material with 3 pawns for the piece but his position is hopeless. Chigorin has no easy way to defend the g7 square from mate making the knight a sad sad piece, I think Larry Christiansen put it best with this comment "The pin is like a pittbull on your leg you just can't shake it off."
Dreaming of a pawn storm on white's king.
23.Bg2 Qd6 24.Qg5 f5 25.Bh3 Rb6 26.Bxf5 Rf6 27.Be4 Qd7 28.Qxh5 Nf8 29.Qxc5 Ne6 30.Qh5 Qd6 31.Qh7+ Kf8 32.Rc1 Ra6 33.f5 Nc5 34.Qh8+ Ke7 35.Rxg7+
After this crushing defeat Chigorin was broken. Steinitz went on to win 2 more in a row and win 10.5-6.5 to retain the title as World Champion.

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