Editor: Dr Tim
© Dr Tim Harding
4 July 2022
William Steinitz paid the first of his two visits to Dublin in September 1865, to take part in the first Irish chess congress, which he won.
A fuller and more deeply researched version of this story can be found in Tim Harding's book Steinitz in London for which additional research was done. Steinitz's other visit to Dublin was in 1881.
News reports of this visit do not appear to have been very extensive and searches for more information are continuing. The ongoing digitization of old Irish newspapers gives hope that more details may come to light in the near future.
The exact dates of Steinitz's stay remain to be confirmed. He was not very famous in those days and his presence in the city was hardly headline news, although there were some brief reports in the Dublin press.
The tournament games began to be played at 10.30am on Tuesday 26 September, after the official opening meeting on the evening of the 25th. So it is likely that Steinitz arrived on the 25th via train and boat from Britain.
The first report that we have so far found appeared in the Dublin newspaper Saunders’s News-Letter on 2 October and again, slightly reworded, in the Morning Post of 3 October 1865:
“DUBLIN CHESS CONGRESS. Great progress has been made during the last week in the several tournaments now pending in the Athenaeum, and many fine games have been already played. Herr Steinitz, the great German professor of chess, now for some time resident in London, and one of the most finished players of the day, arrived in Dublin early last week, and is engaged in one of the No. 1 tournament games with an able amateur. Herr Steinitz has been engaged by the managing committee to play three games blindfold on some day this week.”
The same report goes on to mention that Löwenthal was expected to arrive in Dublin that evening, and that further events were planned including a telegraph match with the St. James's Club of London, in fact the second one that year.
Surprisingly there is no mention in the Irish Times report (of Monday 9 October) of Steinitz being present for the telegraph match played the previous Thursday evening, 5 October, when Löwenthal was named as the umpire in Dublin. However, it is likely that he was there.
Löwenthal's report for The Era, of Sunday 15 October, reported that he played a simultanbeous display during the short time that that he was in Dublin, scoring +9 =3 –3.
Steinitz not only won the principal tournament but also gave two blindfold simultaneous exhibitions, possibly the earliest occasions on which he did so. In the first of these, Saturday 7 October, Steinitz played three opponents. It was reported that Löwenthal had to depart for London early on the 8th so he only saw the beginning of the display.
Then on Saturday 14 October Steinitz played five opponents blindfold. He probably left Ireland the next day or on Monday 16 October. The Morning Post, 18 October, quoting the Dublin newspaper, Saunders’s Newsletter, said Steinitz had spent three weeks in Dublin.