Steinitz's Battle of Hastings

by Milica Knezevic on January 17, 2022

The Chess Game: Steinitz vs. Bardeleben, 1885 Hastings

Steinitz vs. Bardeleben
  • The magic of sacrifices: A game that showcases this was played on August 17, 1895, in the tenth round of the Hastings tournament. After energetic opening play, Steinitz enters the seventh rank with his rook and causes havoc even though the rook is not defended and for several moves could have been taken by the black queen or the black least theoretically.
  • An incredible game, and one that Steinitz thought it was the best he ever played.
  • However, Steinitz is not famous for such brilliant attacks but because he lay the foundations of positional and because he realized that many of the wild sacrificial attacks that were common at this time were premature and would have failed against better defense.
  • Explore this fascinating and almost breathtaking game, as per usual, figure out your own potential strategy and let us know what you can up with in the comments.

Who Was Wilhelm Steinitz

  • Wilhelm Steinitz was an Austrian master and the first official world champion.
  • He held the title from 1886-1894, after dominating the chess scene for decades before. He was undefeated in match play for over 30 years (1862-1894).
  • In 1859-1961, bold attacking performances in the Vienna City Championships earned him the nickname "Austrian Morphy".
  • From 1873-1882, Steinitz went on a historic 25 game winning streak.
  • In the early 1870s he introduced a new style of play, and is subsequently regarded as the father of positional chess.

  • When Steinitz entered the chess scene in the 1850s, aggressive play was all the rage.
  • He played in this romantic fashion full of gambits and sacrifices at first, but he later changed the landscape of chess forever when he revealed a new positional style of play.
  • He defended his new positional ideas furiously, and they were eventually accepted by many other masters. This new positional style laid the groundwork for modern chess.

Who Was Curt von Bardeleben

  • Curt Carl Alfred von Bardeleben (4 March 1861 – 31 January 1924) was a German chess master, journalist, and member of the German nobility.
  • Curt von Bardeleben started playing chess when he was ten years old and quickly developed into one of the strongest players in Weimar.
  • Originally a student of law, Bardeleben gave it up in order to become a professional chess player.
  • He later quit competitive chess for four years between 1883 and 1887 to complete his law studies.
  • In 1908 he lost a match to future world champion Alexander Alekhine, who described him as "a charming old chap" but also said he lacked the will to win. Bardeleben was married three times in the early 1900s, supposedly to women who wanted his title of nobility.

  • Bardeleben is perhaps best known for the game he lost to the former world champion Wilhelm Steinitz at Hastings 1895, especially because he simply walked out of the tournament room instead of resigning.
  • Although he was sharing the second place in the tournament before this game (7.5 in 9 rounds, Mikhail Chigorin had the lead with 8), he achieved only 4 points in the final 12 rounds.
  • Bardeleben seemingly committed suicide by jumping out of a window in 1924.
  • According to one obituary, however, he fell out by accident. His life and death have been cited as an inspiration for the main character in the novel The Defense by Vladimir Nabokov, which was made into the movie The Luzhin Defence.

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