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Steinitz in London: "a milestone in the literature of chess history"

Steinitz in LondonTim Harding's book, Steinitz in London, published in 2020 by McFarland, is widely available through usual retailers and the publisher's website.

The biography and game collection deals chiefly with the years 1862-1882 when Steinitz lived in London. It is a large hardback of 415 pages in the same format as the author's 2015 biography of British master J. H. Blackburne

For reference, the ISBN for the print edition of the book is 978-1-4766-6953-3.

Late last year, a major introductory article by Tim about Steinitz for New In Chess magazine appeared in their issue 2020/7 on pages 40 through 48 including many illustrations.

We have just started a separate page for reviews of the book. The most recent we have seen is a full-page review by eminent Polish chess historian Tomasz Lissowski which appeared in the Polish magazine Mat late in 2020.

We have just posted a PDF scan of the original page and a rough translation is quoted in our review page.

Lissowski concludes by saying:

This book is a milestone in the history of chess literature.

Many thanks to a few readers who have emailed us with corrections or queries about the book. Most are minor. A few mistakes are inevitable in a large work of this kind prepared over a long period.

Also one more game from a Steinitz simul has turned up in the British Newspaper Archive. We intend to update our errata pageonce the Candidates tournament is over. So if you think you have found a mistake in the book, please email us without delay.



Steinitz (right) playing
 his match with Anderssen in 1866

William Steinitz (right) playing his match with Adolf Anderssen in London, 1866. Victory in this contest established his reputation as one of the world's leading masters.

Steinitz in London is both a biography and a game collection (623 games) which covers the life of the first World Chess Champion from his earliest days in Prague, through the start of his career in Vienna (1858-1862) up to the point (autumn 1882) when Steinitz first went to the USA. The last two chapters deal with his later visits to England in 1883 and the 1890s.

The book includes about 60 recently rediscovered games which Steinitz played, in Vienna and in the U.K., which are not to be found in the standard print and database collections.

Steinitz in London also include some rare illustrations and reveal many new facts about Steinitz's life. There are factual corrections to previous biographies in several respects.

It also includes crosstables of all Steinitz's tournaments, some of which correct inaccurate records that appeared in previous works. The book naturally includes the usual scholarly apparatus of Chapter notes, Bibliography and indexes.

Steinitz in London importantly includes numerous corrections to Steinitz games whose scores are incorrect in previous books and databases.

We were truly astonished to discover how many discrepancies turned up between databases and printed collections of Steinitz games. None could be trusted and we had to undertake a forensic examination using The Chess Suite, new software written by Dr Thomas Niessen of Aachen, Germany, who provided invaluable help.

While the book was awaiting publication, we started checking Steinitz's American and later European games that are not in the book. We were particularly shocked to find a large number of problems with the normally accepted game scores of many Steinitz games. Our new history series reveals our findings. Steinitz's matches with Lasker and Gunsberg are especially problematic.

Tim's article for New In Chess 2020/7 also included some examples of games where the usually accepted game score is wrong.

Tim is now preparing more articles for this website which will comprehensively list corrections found for Steinitz and J. H. Blackburne's games. These will include newly-found mistakes in the book Tim wrote some years ago about Blackburne before The Chess Suite was available. There are also cases for both masters where discrepancies in sources mean that the definitive game score cannot be established.

The two articles previously posted on this site, about Steinitz's visits to Dublin in 1865 and 1881, have now been withdrawn, because these accounts have been thoroughly rewritten for the book with new details and extra games. However, last year we added to this website a little story about Steinitz which was discovered in a release from the British Newspaper Archive.

This book was originally due to be published several months ago but was delayed by the Covid-19 outbreak until late August.

You can also see the Table of Contents.