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Johannes Zukertort
Johannes Zukertort.jpg
Zukertort, early 1880s
Full name Johannes Hermann Zukertort
Country  Poland German Empire German Empire
 United Kingdom
Born September 7, 1842(1842-09-07)
Lublin, Congress Poland
Died June 20, 1888 (aged 45)
London, England

Johannes Hermann Zukertort (7 September 1842 – 20 June 1888) was a leading chess master of German-Polish-Jewish origin. He was one of the leading world players for most of the 1870s and 1880s, and lost to Wilhelm Steinitz in the World Chess Championship 1886, which is generally seen as the first World Chess Championship match, he was also beaten by Steinitz in 1872 in unofficial championship; both were top2 players in the world. In 1865, 1867, 1871 he defeated world champ Anderssen, lost to him last time in 1868.

Zukertort filled his relatively short life with a wide range of other achievements as a soldier, musician, linguist, journalist and political activist.

Contents

Early life and non-chess achievements

Zukertort was born 7 September 1842 in Lublin, Congress Poland. He said that his mother was the Baroness Krzyżanowska (Krzyzanovska).[1] His father was a Christian Protestant missionary of Jewish origin.[2] The Christian mission among the Jewish population in Russian-occupied Poland was considered an illegal activity. Therefore, the Zukertort family emigrated to Prussia. In 1861, he enrolled at the University of Breslau to study medicine; he later claimed that he completed his degree, but this has been disputed. In any case he met Adolf Anderssen while in Breslau and fell in love with chess.[3 ]

This new passion did not prevent Zukertort from distinguishing himself in other ways. He became fluent in a wide range of languages (perhaps as many as 14). He fought for Prussia against Austria, Denmark, and France; was once left for dead on the battlefield; and was decorated for gallantry nine times; and he was noted as a swordsman and marksman. He was an accomplished pianist and, for a while, a music critic. He even found time for political activity, as editor of a political paper, a writer for Bismarck's newspaper, the Allgemeine Zeitung, and as a leading spokesman for prison reform.[3 ]

Chess career

In Breslau Zukertort met the leading chess player Adolf Anderssen and studied with him. Among many other notable matches he played with Anderssen, he defeated him in 1866, lost in 1868 by a score of eight wins, three losses, one draw, and finally defeated him convincingly (5-2; no draws) in a match in 1871.[4][5] In 1867 he moved to Berlin and in 1872 to London. In that year, he played Wilhelm Steinitz in London, losing 9-3 (7 losses, 1 win, 4 draws).[5]

Although Zukertort lost both his matches against Steinitz, he proved that he was superior to other opponents throughout the late 1870s and early 1880s.[6 ] During this period top-class tournaments were rare[7 ] and Zukertort's best performances were mostly in matches, notably against Anderssen in 1871 and Joseph Henry Blackburne in 1881 (6 wins, 2 losses, 5 draws).[6 ][8 ] Nonetheless Zukertort was one of the most successful tournament players of his time: third place behind Steinitz and Blackburne at London, 1872; first place at Cologne and second at Leipzig in 1877; tied for first with Simon Winawer at the Paris International Chess Congress in 1878 and beat Winawer in the play-off; second at Berlin in 1881, behind Blackburne; tied for fourth at Vienna in 1882; first at London in 1883, 3 points ahead of Steinitz.[3 ]

Zukertort's win in the London 1883 chess tournament was his most significant success: he won his games against most of the world's leading players, scoring 22/26, and he finished 3 points ahead of Steinitz, who was second with 19/26.[9] This tournament established that Steinitz and Zukertort were clearly the best two players in the world, and led to the World Chess Championship match between these two.[10]

The 1886 World Chess Championship match lasted from 11 January to 29 March 1886. After building up a 4-1 lead Zukertort wilted, lost four of the last five games and lost the match by 12½-7½.[11 ]

After this defeat, Zukertort's health suffered and he was a greatly weakened player for the remaining two years of his life. Diagnoses of his ailments include rheumatism, coronary heart disease, kidney problems, and arteriosclerosis. His results after the 1886 match declined steeply: seventh at London and third at Nottingham in 1886; fifteenth at Frankfurt and fourth at London in 1887; lost a match in 1887 against Blackburne (1 win, 5 losses, and 8 draws); and seventh at London in 1888.[3 ]

Poor health and lack of physical stamina appeared to be one of Zukertort's two long-term weaknesses: some commentators attributed to illness the severity of his defeat in the 1872 match against Steinitz;[12 ] in the 1883 London tournament he won 22 of his first 23 games, enough to give him an uncatchable lead, but lost his last three games; and he initially built up a 4-1 lead against Steinitz in 1886, but then his performance sharply deteriorated.[11 ][13 ] His other weakness was that, while no one had greater attacking flair, Zukertort never approached Steinitz' understanding of positional play and Steinitz often out-maneuvered him fairly simply.[7 ]

Unlike the majority of attacking players, Zukertort preferred openings such as 1. c4 and 1. Nf3 that were closed or semi-closed and offered the possibility of transpositions—in fact in the early 1880s 1. Nf3 was known as "Zukertort’s Opening", 40 years before it became known as the Réti Opening.[7 ][14]

In his prime Zukertort also excelled at playing while blindfolded. In 1876, he played sixteen games simultaneously while blindfolded, winning eleven, drawing four, and losing only one.[3 ]

Later life

Zukertort died 20 June 1888, in London from a cerebral hemorrhage after playing a game in a tournament Simpson's Divan, which he was leading at the time.[3 ] He is buried in Brompton Cemetery in London.

Trivia

It is said that Steinitz and Zukertort, present at the same dinner party, both rose in response to a toast to the "greatest chess-player in the world". Research by Edward G. Winter suggests that this story has been embellished.[15]

References

  1. ^ http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lab/7378/relative.htm
  2. ^ Jews in Poland
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Johannes Zukertort by Bill Wall". http://www.geocities.com/siliconvalley/lab/7378/zuk.htm.  
  4. ^ "Bill Wall's Chess Master Profiles: Adolf Anderssen (1818–1879)". http://www.geocities.com/siliconvalley/lab/7378/andersse.htm.  
  5. ^ a b "Chess Matches: from Lopez to Kramnik". http://www.endgame.nl/match.htm.  
  6. ^ a b "Chessmetrics Player Profile: Johannes Zukertort". http://db.chessmetrics.com/CM2/PlayerProfile.asp?Params=199510SSSSS3S147051000000111000000000036010100.  
  7. ^ a b c Fine, R. (1952). The World's Great Chess Games. Andre Deutsch (now as paperback from Dover).  
  8. ^ [http://www.chessarch.com/excavations/0010_bla_zuk/1881blzu.shtml "The Blackburne-Zukertort Match, London 1881"]. http://www.chessarch.com/excavations/0010_bla_zuk/1881blzu.shtml.  
  9. ^ Mark Weeks' Chess Pages: 1883 "1883 London Tournament". http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/y3lon-ix.htm 1883.  
  10. ^ "The Centenary Match, Kasparov-Karpov III", Raymond Keene and David Goodman, Batsford 1986, p.9
  11. ^ a b "World Chess Championship: 1886 Steinitz - Zukertort Title Match". http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/y6sz$wix.htm.  
  12. ^ Winter, E.. "Early Uses of ‘World Chess Champion’". http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/champion.html.  
  13. ^ "World Chess Champions: Wilhelm Steinitz". http://www.chesscorner.com/worldchamps/steinitz/steinitz.htm.  
  14. ^ Soltis, A. (2007). Transpo Tricks in Chess. Batsford. ISBN 0713490519.   See review at "Transpo Tricks in Chess - review". chessville.com. http://www.chessville.com/reviews/TranspoTricks.htm.  
  15. ^ Chess Notes 4360, by Edward G. Winter, 13 May 2006

External links

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