Karl Ernst Adolf Anderssen (July 6, 1818 - March 13, 1879) was a famous German chess master, one of the most renowned of the classic masters of 19th century chess. He had a long and distinguished chess career, at times considered the leading player in the world, and world famous for his sparkling play even today.
Background and early life
Anderssen was born in Breslau, Germany (now Wroclaw, Poland) in 1818. He lived in the city of his birth for most of his life, never married, living with and supporting his widowed mother and his unmarried sister. Anderssen graduated from the public gymnasium in Breslau, then attended university where he studied mathematics and philosophy. He graduated, and took a position at the Friedrichs Gymnasium as an instructor and later Professor of Mathematics. Anderssen lived a quiet, stable, responsible, respectable, middle-class life. His career was teaching math, while his hobby and passion was playing chess.
When Anderssen was nine years old, his father taught him how to play. Anderssen said that as a boy, he learned the strategy of the game from a copy of William Lewis´s book Fifty Games between Labourdonnais and McDonnell(1835). Anderssen was not a chess prodigy; his progress was deliberate, and by 1840 at age twenty-two, he had not yet surpassed German masters such as Ludwig Bledow, Heyderbrandt Von der Lasa, and Wilhelm Hanstein.
Anderssen first came to the attention of the chess world when he published some short and lively chess problems in 1842. Then in 1846, he became involved with the magazine Schachzeitung (later called Deutsche Schachzeitung).
In 1848 Anderssen drew a match with the professional player Daniel Harrwitz. On the basis of this match and his general chess reputation, he received an invitation to be the standard-bearer for German chess at the world´s first international chess tournament, London 1851. Anderssen was reluctant to accept the invitation, as travel costs were a substantial issue to his limited pocketbook. However, Howard Staunton offered to pay Anderssen´s travel expenses out of his own pocket if necessary, should Anderssen fail to win a tournament prize. This was a generous offer, and Anderssen made the trip. At that tournament, Anderssen defeated Lionel Kieseritzky, József Szén, Staunton, and Marmaduke Wyvill, winning the tournament to everyone´s surprise.
Anderssen was celebrated as well for two of his casual chess games in which he was victorious through combinations involving heavy sacrifice of the pieces. In the first, called the Immortal Game, as white against Lionel Kieseritzky in 1851, he sacrified a bishop, both rooks and finally his queen. In the second played in Berlin, in the year 1852, as white against Jean Dufresne, the total sacrifice was more modest, but still exceeded a queen and a minor piece. That game has since been called the Evergreen Game.
For the next few years he was considered by many people to be the world´s premier player. Then in 1858 he was beaten by the American star Paul Morphy in a famous match held in Paris, France, losing by a score of two wins versus Morphy´s seven, with two draws.
Anderssen played the curious initial move of 1. a3 in the match against Morphy, and this opening move is now referred to as "Anderssen´s Opening." The opening has never been popular in serious competition.
Three years after being defeated by Morphy, Anderssen came back and won London 1862, the first international round-robin event (in which each participant plays a game against all the others) with a score of twelve wins out of thirteen games, losing only to John Owen.
In 1866 he played and lost a close match with young Wilhelm Steinitz. The match introduced a number of new ideas to the field of chess strategy. A few modern writers say that after the match Steinitz was the world champion, but the players themselves did not make any such claim, nor did anybody else at the time. Later Anderssen lost a second match against Steinitz.
Anderssen was generally well liked and considered very honest. Steinitz wrote: "Anderssen was honest and honourable to the core. Without fear or favour he straightforwardly gave his opinion, and his sincere disinterestedness became so patent....that his word alone was usuallly sufficient to quell disputes...for he had often given his decision in favour of a rival..."
Anderssen´s greatest chess achievement came late in his life, when he won Baden-Baden 1870, the strongest tournament ever held up to its time. He finished first ahead of his old nemesis Steinitz, as well as the great players Neumann and Blackburne.
Still playing strongly, Anderssen´s last major victory was placing second at Leipzig 1877, at the age of fifty nine. Two years later, he died.
The Deutsche Schachzeitung noted his death in 1879 with a nineteen page obituary.
- The World´s Great Chess Games by Reuben Fine; Dover; 1983. ISBN 0486245128