Lionel Kieseritzky[ edit ]

Lionel Adalbert Bagration Felix Kieseritzky (1806-1853) was a 19th century chess master, famous primarily for a game he lost against Adolf Anderssen, which was so brilliant it was named "The Immortal Game"

A mathematics teacher like Anderssen, Lionel Kieseritzky moved to Paris and became a chess professional, giving lessons or playing games for five francs an hour, and editing a chess magazine. He became one of the four leading French masters of the time, alongside Louis de la Bourdonnais, Pierre-Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant and Boncourt and for the few years before his death was among the top two players in the world along with Howard Staunton. His knowledge of the game was significant and he made contributions to chess theory of his own, but his career was somewhat blighted by misfortune and a passion for the unsound. He won a match against the German master Bernhard Horwitz in 1846 and enjoyed a number of other magnificent victories across his career, but his nerve was lacking when it came to tournament play.

In 1851 he was invited to play in the first international chess tournament in London where he was defeated in the first round by Adolf Anderssen. The game was finished in a mere 20 minutes after a horrific blunder Staunton described as having been "never equalled even among beginners of the game". Indeed, it was during his time in London that Kieseritzky played the off-hand game against Anderssen which has so thrilled generations of chess amateurs that it has been dubbed "The Immortal Game". To his credit, despite losing, it was in fact Kieseritzky who recorded and published the game during his period as editor of "La Regence".

Kieseritzky was never a popular man owing to his narcissistic character - considering himself the "Chess Messiah" - and in 1853 he died following a bout of mental illness. He was buried in a pauper´s grave, completely unmourned.

  • The Oxford Companion to Chess, 2d ed. by David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld. 1992
  • G.H. Diggle (Nov. 1976) "Chess Characters: Reminiscences of a Badmaster". British Chess Federation
  • Zagadka Kieseritzky´ego by Tomasz Lissowski and Bartlomiej Macieja, Warsaw 1996

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article No 659 / last change on 2005-06-29, 10:05pm

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