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Steinitz in London: a big read for winter nights

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

It is a large hardback of 415 pages in the same format as the author's 2015 biography of British master J. H. Blackburne.

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.

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

The website British Chess News posted an extensive review by chess author and teacher Richard James. He says:

...not just a dry as dust history book. It’s a gripping read as well. Harding tells his story with panache, leaving the reader eager to turn the page and find out what happened next, helped, in part, by his subject’s disputatious nature.

James concludes by saying:

A large book with high production values and a niche market is never going to come cheap, but, even if you’ve never read anything of this nature before, you might want to give it a try. With chess clubs closed and pubs offering restricted services, what better way could there be to spend your winter evenings? Very highly recommended: 2020 has been an excellent year for chess books and this is certainly one of the best.

This is the first review we have seen. When there are more we shall create a separate page.

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, we recently added to this website a little story about Steinitz which was discovered in a recent 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.

We have started a page for errata now that readers have pointed out a few mistakes in the book, as is almost inevitable in a large work of this kind.

You can also see the Table of Contents.