Anderssen - Staunton 1851: Preparing For Battle

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The London Tournament of 1851 was a landmark international affair, bringing together many of the world's best players. Adolph Anderssen, by virtue of his outstanding victory, solidified his position as the world's top player of the time.

Howard Staunton defeated Brodie in the 1st round, 2 to 0 (best of 3 games), then defeated Horwitz in the 2nd round, 4 to 2 (best of 7 games; 1 game drawn). In the third round, Staunton and Anderssen met head-to-head. The result was a near-rout as Anderssen closed out the match in only 5 games, by a score of 4 to 1.

In his book "The Chess Tournament," Staunton repeatedly explained away his own poor play, using his role as author/commentator as well as third-person language.

From the Introduction, page lxvii: "The first game between Staunton and Horwitz, which lasted nearly eleven hours, was, up to almost the end, a fine sturdy Chess battle; perhaps, one of the most scientific of those played in the Tournament. At the last, as is seen, the loser from exhaustion threw away a decisive advantage, declined after this to draw the game, and finally allowed his adversary to score it."

From the next page, lxviii: "Like Mr. Wyvill, Mr. Staunton lost the first three games with his new adversary. The first, though a very badly played game, must be considered a fair defeat. But the second and third games will be found, when examined by Chess-players, to have been most unaccountably thrown away. In each the loser had an unquestionable advantage, and this is saying the very least, which an inspection of the games will prove. But in truth, to all who knew the labours entailed upon Mr. Staunton by the carrying-out this Tournament, and his seriously impaired health at the time, the wonder was not that he played so ill, but that he could play at all."