November 16, 2014

Revisiting Roots!

At the halfway mark of the World Championship match between Anand and Carlsen, IM Prasanna Rao takes us on a journey to where it all started. In his series of "Revisiting Roots" he intends to cover all the World Champions of the past. So let us begin with the first official World Chess Champion: Wilhelm Steinitz.

After a long hiatus from blogging, I am back with Chessace for the version 2.0. With our core team retained, I hope with the help of you guys, we will go a long way this time around!

After contemplating long and hard on what to write, I decided its time for us to revisit the roots. With the World Championship perched intriguingly at the halfway mark, I decided to have a dive in the history of World Chess Champions!

I, with the help of my teammates, am going to do a series on ex-world Champions that have ever graced the game. How many of you can actually tell the names of all the 20 world champions on the first go? Even if you do, how about in the chronological order? Nothing better than starting with Wilhelm Steinitz who was the first official World Champion!

Wilhem Stenitiz (1836-1900)
Wilhelm Steinitz, born on May 17, 1836 was the 1st undisputed World Champion from the period 1886 to 1894. He dominated chess for almost 4 decades starting from 1860 to the late 1890s but he was officially crowned only in 1886 . He was known as a tactical genius but in the later stages of his career he started playing positional games and was one of the pioneers of positional play. He lost his title to the succeeding world champion E. Lasker in 1896.
With improvement in technology and the engines we might often tend to neglect the old games, disregarding them as obsolete systems of play. But some of the most brilliant concepts and systems were conceived during that era and Steinitz was at the forefront of that.

Here's an illustration on how studying the old games will still be beneficial in the modern era.
There are two games annotated in depth. One is the game with Dubois which was a tactical masterpiece and the other is against Rosenthal which is well remembered for the positional concepts. Select the games from the drop down menu at the top of the board.

Is writing scoresheet a crime?
We all know that we have to write down the moves while playing a game of chess. Do you think someone can get arrested for writing down the scoresheet?  The champion was once arrested as a spy! The police and other notable authorities, assumed that the moves he was making in his correspondence game of chess with Mikhail Ivanovich Tchigorin, were in reality part of a code to communicate war systems!

Steinitz vs God
Another interesting story about the world champion is:  How many of you have actually read your obituary? Wilhelm had the unique opportunity to read his own obituary that was published prematurely in New York Times on Feb 23, 1897. (I can't imagine how it feels to read your own obituary!) The title read. "Chess and Brain Disease."

Near the end of the life, it is said that he claimed that he was playing a game of Chess with God, in which he had given him odds of a pawn. Talking about crazy chess players!

How many legends in one frame? Can you name all of them?
 The one quote that sums him up perfectly is, "Chess is his very life and soul, the one thing for which he lives."
Stenitiz- Lasker

Stenitiz eventually lost his title to E. Lasker (who kept the World Champion tag for a whopping 27 years) which we will be seeing next in our series!

Cheers! Stay Tuned :)

About the Author
Name- Prasanna Raghuram Rao
Rating- 2447
Tittle- IM
DOB- 28.4.1994
A professional chess player , avid reader , loves music. Follower of Tennis, Football and ofcourse CHESS! Loves Aronian, Anand , Ivanchuk! Loves Economics and technology! Favorite book "Open" by Andre Agassi! Among sportsperson likes Sachin Tendulkar, Roger Federer!


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