Master Anderssen

(Born on July 6, 1818, died March 13, 1879 in Breslau)

Blessed is the man of intellectual privilege whose whole life revolves around his chosen avocation. Especially honored is the man who comes to personify that avocation. The less often such an outstanding figure arises, the more lasting is his influence on forthcoming generations. Only a chosen few may aspire to his epoch-making achievements, and his name is raised by the common people as a symbol of his cause. The simple sound of his name alone is enough for generations in the furthest future to recall his deeds. Names like Homer, Socrates, Kant and Goethe keep their popular magic long after the glory of other intellectuals has paled, others who might themselves have delved deeply into the secrets of Knowledge and Art. And this phenomena repeats itself in every sphere of human aspiration, so proving its value in the development ofMankind. In the area of our noble recreation of the mind, such a man has now left us; his life's work now passes from our cultural history into the general history of all men.

With the death of chess Master Anderssen we have lost a most outstanding personality, whose whole life was identified with the field of his endeavors. There is a growing interrelation between the cultural history of all peoples, but his name will forever be linked to the refinement of chess in the German chess community. And while the stars of many of our chess Masters shine brightly on their various accomplishments, the indelible star of the name Anderssen will forever shine brighter than theirs in the German chess firmament. His life in chess went full circle; his personality became the very soul of chess. More than through any other man, the German chess school was portrayed in his persona. Anderssen united a conscientious thoroughness in research with a persistent will, or energy of desire, combining with his brilliant depth of analysis. He upheld a rigid fulfillment of duty, which never spared himself, and he always followed his calling in chess whenever it became necessary to keep the flag of German chess honor flying.

To comprehend a life full of difficulties and success, like the one that lies before us, and to fully understand and celebrate his memory with dignity is a task nearly impossible to achieve, but the object of these pages is to at least make a beginning. Even if both the honored and the celebrating (to quote Marc Aurel) are only mayflies in the vastness of life, yet will future generations keep the memory of his now fulfilled record as a blessed legacy, one with lasting effects. We the survivors feel overwhelmed by our grief for the great and irreplaceable loss we have suffered, having been eye witnesses to a completed and honorable life. Thus we feel the force of this deep sorrow, but not only our magazine, whose name was closely connected with the deceased for many years, but also the whole fraternity of international chess feels immersed in sorrow. And at this moment our sorrow cannot be red uced by the consolation that among the granite pillars which form the foundation of chess history, is one which will always carry the name Anderssen.

The life of a man is reflected in his deeds, the character of a man in his creations. The great researcher discovers new truths in accordance with the laws of nature, and the great artist makes images of enduring beauty, which are pictures of his innermost life. Likewise the virtuoso affects the immediate sensibilities of his audience by momentary exertions. The chess Master is lucky, because in his domain scientific work is closer to artistry, in that he designs equally effective and lasting forms to please the people. If he dedicates himself to his subject area, then we get the impression of a harmonious unity in both his personal nature and his creations. His chess friends granted Anderssen such a vehicle for his creativity and brilliant talent. Although he had to overcome many obstacles to fulfill his life's work in chess, he was so completely at one with his favorite subject and its appropriate treatment that, not reckoning otherwise, he always vouched personally with all his strength and power for the highest ideals in chess. It is, of course, the basis of his character that he treated the game with complete sincerity and indestructible will power, which game even for him was a mental rest period beside his everyday work. If excitement prevailed (as his obituary praises) like in Bledow's Thun, and if the "Silence of the Deed" or "Friendly Peace" in Hanstein's Wesen and such describe his presence, Anderssen united both advantages into a higher element. His deep inner devotion to the game showed by his restless but well planned work, which resulted in a galvanizing creative energy, whose focused will pursued its purpose by elegant means, striving after its goal without deviation. Only with the help of his will power; which was true to him all his life, was it possible for Anderssen to reach his expectations in this higher profession of the chess world, through the fulfillment of three ambitions which help us understand our chess Master's work.

Anderssen had taken over the administration of the German chess councils of his time, and especially the job of keeping the technique of the game alive in view of the fresh and growing advancements in theory. How far he himself took part in these advancements was secondary to his true chess profession, especially because his theoretical works can only be understood as improvements upon his own experience, or as the combined results of his practical play. Furthermore, as the German champion Anderssen had to represent and uphold the reputation of German chess art in all major national and international events. He was always responsible for teaching the younger generation, and the rewarding business of enlisting the youth into chess by the example of his love for the game and his untiring readiness to fight. Around these three tasks that he constantly tried to fulfill revolved another obligation, which was very special, and whose fulfillment coincided with his three duties: The creation of a union for all serious chess players, with the help of a well organized and far reaching promotion of this aristocratic game. After this deed was accomplished at the time of his anniversary, and at the height of his work for the game of chess, his rich life was allowed to come to an end. At the close of human creation there is no better tribute than the uplifting contemplation, that sees the completion of a life's work in its beginning. Not the empty being, but the growing out of what was put into human nature is alone the comfort and price of aspiration, and beyond the small-minded complaint about what the deceased might still have achieved is a true appreciation of the center and value of his life.

The real beginnings of our Master's chess work go back to his earliest childhood, when his father taught the nine-year-old boy the basic rules of the game. His first chess apprenticeship took place at the time of his school education in the Elisabeth-Gymnasium in Breslau, where he was born on July 6,1818. Hirschel's German Greco, along with Allgaier's and Philidor's teaching books, opened the secrets of chess to the eager youth, and planted the seeds of a deep understanding of pawn and piece play into his responsive mind. Anderssen absorbed the fundamentals and found practice playing chess with his school friends, and later with the experienced chess players of his home town. One of them was the well-versed Master Liebrecht, a clear and sharp thinker with an imperturbable calm and presence of mind. Another was the well-known editor of the original Chess Riddles, K.F. Schmidt, whom Anderssen praised for his well thought out and planned game. But the most effective influence on the continuous strengthening of his play was the constant practice during his free time in the course of his academic studies. A busy and varied chess life bloomed in a local public bar, the so-called Nova, where his chess contemporaries made their first acquaintance with the Master. Some of these became famous in later years, among them the current president of the chess club in Leipzig. He met equally aspiring fellow students there and toughened his energetic attacking game. Through these contests with the most talented chess players of Breslau, whose games differed in many ways, he learned to appreciate different openings, attacks, defenses, and especially the strange subtleties of each piece. Could this combined effect of impressions fall upon a deep and energetic personality such as Anderssen's without lasting conse quence? Naturally it stimulated his assimilation of chess art, and with it his own creative urge. The simultaneous study of the artistic games of Stamma and the Italian Masters led to creations ofsimilar but more completed compositions, which were blessed by a lively energy and expressed the combination of the single pieces in an aesthetic and artful way.

It is an unmistakable mark of true genius that his work defined a new epoch. Anderssen published the Exercises for Chess Players, a collection of problems, when he was a young man and with it left a mark of high originality. His exemplary results in this special subject area of chess problems laid the foundation for his fantastic advancements, and they already foretell the strange double-sidedness of Anderssen's practical play, which became more apparent in his later years, combining far-sighted planning and deeply prepared openings with decisive piece maneuvers. They are proof of the Master's preference for certain pieces and their perfect deployment in well thought through game plans, which only experts are able to unravel. It is mainly his finely tuned handling of the Knight, which already demonstrates the youthful Master's interest in combinations, which was planned for ahead. At the height of his chess powers it was the interweaving of pawn and piece play, "where ghosts sleep under thin blankets," that led him to a novel treatment of, for example, the Spanish game.

Anderssen's ground-breaking problem collection of 1842 helped to spread word about the composer far beyond his home town, which must have made Breslau an attraction for other chess Masters who traveled to the city. A charitable effect of such visits by chess greats like Bledow, v.d. Lasa, Mayet and Lowenthal was inevitable. Our Master was encouraged to further study the game, especially with the help of the well regarded authors Walker and Lewis, who had introduced the Evans gambit into literature. A personal meeting with Bledow, who had published the most important examples of the contest between La Bourdonnais and Mac-Donnel in German, had deeply impressed Anderssen, who could not yet stand up to the overwhelming game of the champion from Berlin, and stimulated him to further study these games. This deeper involvement opened new perspectives, which fundamentally influenced Anderssen's chess development, and this far-reaching consequence manifested itself over time in his continuing proficiency. His youthful temperamental nature and his personal feeling of inde-pendence led him to prefer the open game with its rapid, more glamorous offense, which not always could be played with complete correctness and could not hold up against a planned and calculated game. The Master felt this conflict between better results (which he perfected in later years) and the aggressive tendency founded in his personal character, which he referred to when discussing his own game with other Masters. He wrote in 1847 (Schachzeitung, p. 278) that for one's own security, it is important to keep a watchful eye on the opponent, whose careful hesitation hides the fact that he wants you to prematurely attack. 'The intention alone to prepare the deciding move and wait for the right time is not enough to fight the old habit, where the attacker, not respecting his losses enough, knows that a mistake in execution kills." Therefore those games which he lost against the Berlin champions, though one-sided at times, yet have the imprint of general correctness and of deep understanding, which lends unity to the entire game.

At that time Anderssen was a young adult still growing up, not even 24 years old, when he entered the chess world with his "Practice" collection. His build, bigger than average, already gave signs of developing into a large and strong-boned stature, of robust and stocky strength. His head, with darkstraight hair, showed little of a protruding forehead. The open profile with the German nose and the darkly shining but friendly eyes, free of the sometimes penetrating look of later years, gave him winning looks. The mouth, more big than small, hid a sensual feature, changing frequently in humorous situations to a heartily innocent and pleasant sounding laugh. The lips tightened when he was serious or upset, while the corners of his mouth shook now and again and wrinkles became apparent near his cheeks. This trait strengthened over the years and returned regularly, when he sat in deep thought at the chess board. Doing so he sometimes held his head up with both arms, although he otherwise had the thumb of an unusually big and strong hand on his chin, while the other was busy with a gleaming cigar He moved the pieces according to the status of the game, sometimes silently sliding them, sometimes putting them down with strong pressure from his fingers and sometimes with such precision as if the piece should be nailed to the board. But the execution of the move was always short and determined, never noisy or ugly. The pace of his play was surprisingly fast, and he tried to demonstrate the value those moves which looked surprising to the spectators, although decisive to the opponent. Anderssen used to stand and then bend over, as if resting from the strain of the game, and accompanied his moves with short comments and lively gestures. Then some of his remarks even sounded rude, and he really disliked any arguments, especially from people he knew.

This trait became stronger later as the Master's self-worth grew through his great successes, but in his youth it lay dormant due to his trust in authority, which kept his own sense of infallibility subdued in the face of great players he had yet to surpass. Still, Anderssen belonged to the so-called bourgeoisie in his art as well as his outside lifestyle and inner character. Born into a low class, he sensed his lack of fine manners when he was together with chess friends from higher society. This knowledge kept his natural respect of the unknown alive, as it does with all self-made men, which of course tends to the opposite after the newness wears away. This young man's life was focused on his home town, where he enjoyed his youth and made his first life-long friends, but he also had to live through the poverty of his heritage. It was there where he rose from his poor origin to an appropriate circle, and where he found his first appreciation and his first patronage. Everybody knew him there, and even his immature personality, with its unpolished and often crude behav ior, caught between pride and embarrassment and all the little and awkward blemishes of earlier failings, did not keep him from progressing. It must have been this experience which made his striving nature desire to expand his education beyond the borders of his home town, by reaching for unknown areas and new environments. At this time there were two centers of German life, which provided a fertile ground for the higher fostering of chess. It was in Berlin where talented chess players met, and their frequent contests led to a scientific treatment of the game which was the foundation of the seminal Handbuch by Bilguer and v.d.Lasa in 1843. In the middle of that year a weekly magazine, the lllustrierte Zeitung, was published in Leipzig in grand style, which even to this day keeps its reputation more than any of the copy-cat magazines, thanks to the great leadership of the fine and gifted book dealer J.J. Weber This magazine gave to chess (first by announcing the grand competitions between Staunton and St. Amant, which made waves at that time) an appropriate format in which to further cultivate our recreation of the mind in Germany. Both places combined the physical and personnel requirements needed for the success of a periodical chess organ, as had been done in England and France several years ago. The so-called Deutsche Schachzeitung opened in Leipzig with fresh excitement, whose early publishing was only made possible with the appearance of periodical chess literature, and it drew quite a few striving talents into its two or three year sphere of activity. The monthly periodical which was also published in 1846 under the simple title Schachzeitung in Leipzig (which is our own Deutsche Schachzeitung) received wide distribution due to its varied content and known connections, which is why it keeps its position even today, against competition from Leipzig and Berlin.

It was in the natural interest of both chess circles that they would look for an upcoming power such as the Master from Breslau, whose reputation was already made through his wonderful games and compositions, his relationship with the lllustrierte Zeitung, and through a published chess almanac with his picture in it which was widely distributed (1846), and sometimes got him the honor of being the referee in competitions. The Leipzig Schachzeitung, in its 4th edition, published an analytical essay on the Muzio gambit, and the monthly periodical in Berlin published an exciting essay about chess activities in Breslau. Both events coincided with the inner wish of our Master to expand his horizon. Repeated trips to Leipzig and especially Berlin resulted, which influenced his career and opened the way for his role in the development of chess, especially in fostering the cultivation of German chess. Starting in 1848, Anderssen traveled first to Leipzig after his strength was challenged in a serious match with D. Harrwitz. In the following years he repeatedly traveled to Berlin, which had lost most of its famous Masters, and won over the chess community through his wonderful and still blossoming attacking game, especially his handling of the Evans gambit. The time was ripe for a work of unlimited trust; the great chess tournament of London 1851, organized during the first World Exhibition, began to take on an international character. The friends of chess in Berlin made it their task to prepare the ingenious Master from Breslau to represent the chess knighthood of their Fatherland in the competition. How well Anderssen justified their trust is generally known. He won a title for Germany in this international "ghost fight" whose national importance was felt not only by chess players, as the following poem expresses:

This was a fi$\t for well-timed glory: We could not rest on past laurels; We were down before all Christendom -You have saved us with your checkmate!

But though your victory makes you a hero, Be yet a dove bearing green branches Which brings and revives our hope, That this victory only begins the roundelay.

These deep words held a great promise. They not only came true to the glorious raising of the Fatherland, but they were also fulfilled for Anderssen personally. He won the palm twice in big tournaments, London 1862 and Baden-Baden 1870, on the one hand for himself and on the other for German nationalism. In the second case he was carried by the personal awareness that German strength and strategy would finally prevail in the more serious tournament of the nations, which flared up at the same time.

Of these three praised high points in his life, our Master's triumph in 1851 takes precedence, raising German self esteem by breaking foreign superiority, as well as making Anderssen's name known beyond his specialized field and granting him a reputation of everlasting magic. This reputation could not be shaken from then on, not even by some of his defeats. By his own admission, Anderssen preferred that sort of knighthood which forbids trying to save one's reputation from rough seas, and he was always ready to put his reputation on the line and to loose it, but always in the unbreakable belief that he might at least recover his stake. It was this knightly character that prompted Anderssen into competition, to risk his reputation at every opportunity, even when others would have been clever enough to stay away by using external objections. Some of Anderssen's opponents should have been thankful for their successes when, occasionally, our Master's deeper strategy, which liked to unite the nearest with the furthest, led him sometimes in a far-reaching combination to miss an obvious but crucial minor detail. In this sense we can better appreciate the results of his meetings with Morphy (1858) andSteinitz (1866), as well as his unlucky showing in the tournaments at Manchester (1857), Vienna (1873) and Paris (1878). By the way, Anderssen proved himself in these and other contests as an outstanding chess thinker who understood the whole game, pulling his opponent along with him and giving each game its own character. Although he was unexcelled in the art of creating positions which promised success, his offensive moves sometimes came too rapidly and he quickly tired in the face of an opponent's careful and tenacious defense. Still, assiduous students of chess could learn much from his stimulating game, which taught them to be well-rounded players, and many of them, Masters with good reputations like Du-firesne, Mieses, Suhle, Neumann, Zukertort and others, realized that. Generally Anderssen maintained his superiority in serious competitions or when he met them in bigger tournaments. Here is not the place to describe such meetings; to examine his playing style and theoretical work is beyond our present object, but may be attempted at a different time. We would like to add here that Anderssen, besides the already mentioned tournaments and matches in various countries (for example London in 1861 against Kolisch) and his many visits to Berlin and Leipzig, visited Cologne repeatedly, and once in 1861 he went to the Netherlands. Beginning in 1868 Anderssen made the German Chess Exhibitions greater still simply by his presence, especially in the Rhine River area in Aachen (1868), and in Barmen (1869), Krefeld (1871) and Frankfurt (1878) where he played his last games; generally he won first prize at these events.

It was not external success alone, that which put him above patrons and Masters of the game, but rather it was his eternal consistency and bright, well-conceived way ofplaying, which found true admiration, even in foreign countries, especially from the ingenious Kieseritzky; it was also his fine analytical thinking process, which was expressed first in the Evans gambit, later also in the Spanish game and reaching a deep understanding in some other openings; it was also his untiring readiness to fight anybody who wanted the honor of playing chess against him; finally and last and foremost, his excitement and enduring energy for chess, expressed by deeds and not words, and on which all his thoughts were spent. Anderssen was a teacher by occupation, and since 1855 served as Professor in Breslau. That he fulfilled his duty in his state employment as a conscientious man is proven by multiple citations from his superiors, and not only the fact that he was chosen to teach the important subjects of German language and mathematics in the upper grades. Con sider also his worries to find a proper successor, which occupied his thoughts until the day he died, even during the last hours of his fight for life, but most of all the undivided admiration of his colleagues and the touching devotion of his students, who mourn for the deceased as their competent and loving teacher. Besides the careful shepherding of his professional work, Anderssen found time and room in his soul only for our recreation of the mind, which was intertwined since childhood with his very character. In order to give the game his undivided attention he did not even seek marital bliss, although his mother and sister, who he cared for, desired it for him; he is survived only by this sister, a brother living in America, and another sister who is married in Silesia. Great words about his deep connection to the noble game were spoken at his 50th anniversary celebration by R.v. Gottschall, the representative of the chess club of Leipzig, who described this event in his lively and poetic manner as the golden wedding anniversary between the Master and the chess muse, and truly a better parable to praise Anderssen could not be thought of! The celebration itself may be seen as the crowning event of a fulfilled life.

Any expressions of heightened self-assurance which come naturally with success were mellowed by his quiet and factual sincerity; even if under certain circumstances he tried to keep his reputation by short and drastic remarks against quick or unauthorized intrusions. Soon after 1851 his mannerism in society became more secure and his movements became more rounded; his outstandingly modest and likeable demeanor showed up later in his light humor, which didn't fall short of occasional ribaldry. His facial expressions became more and more pronounced, although it never lost its original mildness. His forehead became more pronounced, unlimited by a receding hairline, and his hair nearly completely disappeared during his last years of life. The friendly smile, with its calm irony set against darkly shining eyes, was sometimes disturbed by a shy or furtive glance, but won him the affection of people he met for the first time, just as in earlier times. He could be very comfort able in cheerful company and liked to be stimulated by good food and fine wines, whose taste he taught himself to appreciate and enjoy. The presence of ladies also stimulated him to interesting conversation and gallant phrases, whenever he owed some attention for special considerations; butgenerally he tried to stay away from socializing with the fair sex, which only interested him in passing, though he did not go out of his way to avoid large social events. But deep down in his soul lived the sincerity of his assigned task to treat the game of chess like he did his other profession. In conversation he could not concentrate on different thoughts, be they questions of science or art, or conversations about politics and society; he always found a link to refer back to chess and the way to play the game, or any other theme related to chess. He did have a warm inner interest and a fine understanding for the above mentioned areas, if it really mattered. His real patriotic sense and his profound views kept him away from senseless and cliche-ridden contemplations even in politics, and kept his views in line with realty. In mathematics, his real science, he tried to at least keep up with new advances; concerning literature he announced that, although his deep-thinking nature gave him a tendency to like Goethe and his sense for fine expression ran to Platen, as a young teacher he had a warm heart for Schiller, and once gave a speech in the assembly hall of his school on the occasion of Schiller Day in November 1859, about Schiller's works and their influence. Although his personality seemed to be similar to Beethoven, in music he showed an exclusive love for Mozart and Weber, especially for their operas Don Juan and Obercrn, and he rarely missed any performances, though he very rarely visited the theater. His judgment of the arts displayed the healthy opinions of an educated man. If we would like to add a word about his general views, especially of his attitude toward religion, it may be enough to mention that he had the same tolerance for all beliefs; if his mind sometimes wandered to the divine, then he found no satisfaction in the beliefs of a certain church, but in the admiration of the Infinite. He told the priest, who came to see him in the last days of his life, that he didn't need a pardon, that he was prepared to go steadfast to his last fight, like he did the many fights of his lifetime. During his last trip in the summer of 1878 to Paris and Frankfurt, already seriously suffering (from a disease of the pericardium), he tried to stand straight with nearly Olympian strength, and continued to work at special occasions, for example at the "Abitur" exam in the autumn of 1878. Only two days before his death did he finally switch from the recliner and sofa to the bed, and he commented the strongest attacks of pain with "If it only were over soon!" The last day he spent half unconscious, but managed to still say "Where are we going to move?" because he knew he had to give up his official apartment due to the retirement he had asked for. On the evening of March 13 at 9:00 p.m. he fell asleep peacefully; a stroke had released him from his suffering, and his high-flying spirit, the place of so many ingenious thoughts and energetic creations, departed from his sick body:

Thinking and wanting, struggles and challenges, Tarpaulin is tied, which is glowing in our eyes -Conquered by the last checkmate, Dies the boldest design which inspired us, And nothing remains after the fight's ardor But the bones, which rest in a box.

The procession, which followed the deceased from the celebrations in the house of mourning to his last resting place could not be overseen. His colleagues of the Friedrichs-Gym-nasium and all his students, past and present, representatives of the chess club of Breslau, acquaintances and chess friends met and decorated the coffin with a multitude of flowers. Laurel wreaths with dedications arrived from chess circles far away, such as Berlin, Leipzig, Stettin, Vienna and other cities. The laurels will be green forever like the honorable remembrance of our immortalized, who earned an estate in the history of chess and who forever secured a place in the hearts of all true friends of this noble recreation of the mind.

The Chess Games


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