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  • benws
  • | May 27, 2013

According to a fairly trustworthy source:

"Isidor Arthur Gunsberg (November 2, 1854 – May 2, 1930) was a chess player, best known for narrowly losing the 1891 World Chess Championship match to Wilhelm Steinitz."

"In the late 1880s and early 1890s Gunsberg was one of the top players in the world. Arpad Elo calculates that Gunsberg's best 5-year average Elo rating was 2560."

"In 1916 he sued the Evening News for libel when they said that his chess column contained "blunders". He won the suit after the British High Court accepted a submission that in chess matters, eight oversights did not make a "blunder"."

To celebrate this little-known chess master on this Memorial Day 2013, here is one of his finest games. Enjoy!



  • 23 months ago


    Wow, amazing games! Where did you get them?

  • 24 months ago


    Interesting how the title of the article is "Blunderless" and talks about the court case for libel about blunders/mistakes in the newspaper, yet all of you keep complaining about the 0-1 score and "here chigorin resigned" without considering that maybe the mistake was made on purpose.

  • 2 years ago


    Gargleblaster, thanks for putting up an actual article underneath the messy blog post above!

  • 2 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    FWIW, Gunsberg is a somewhat challenging subject to find a good "angle" on, other than perhaps the already-mentioned colorful libel case.  He is almost certainly the most obscure world-championship contender in chess history.  That said, I can provide a quick summary until some greater authority such as GM Serper or perhaps Batgirl deigns to educate us further...

    Isidor Gunsberg was born in Budapest in 1854. In 1876 Gunsberg moved to Britain where he eventually became a citizen.  Shortly thereafter, in 1879, Gunsberg became the operator of "Mephisto the Magnificent", arguably the strongest of the trio of 19th century chess-playing "automatons".  Batgirl has a series of articles on this contraption:

         Mephisto the Magnificent 
         How Mephisto Was Caught: Chess Legend
         Mephisto - promotional material
         Mephisto Revisisted

    In 1890, after having won matches against fellow English masters Bird and Blackburne, and also having drawn a match against Chigorin, Gunsberg challenged Steinitz for the World Championship.  The match was played at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York and some of the press coverage can be found here:


    The match was close: Steinitz with six wins, Gunsberg with four, and nine draws apiece.  Here is one of Gunsberg's wins:

    In 1895, Gunsberg participated in the great Hastings tournament. Though he fared poorly, he did play a pivotal role in the last round by losing this famous game to Pillsbury:

    In 1906 Gunsberg organized one the most remarkable tournaments in chess history, the multi-stage Ostende event that only recently has had a tournament book written about it:


    In 1914, Gunsberg took part in the great Saint Petersberg tournament (which Lasker so famously won ahead of Capablanca,  Alekhine, Rubinstein, etc.).  This would prove to be his last showing on an international stage.

    Finally, in 1916, Gunsberg successfully sued the Evening News for libel after being accused of "blunders" in his column for the Daily Telegraph.  The episode, and several other legal imbrolingos, are recounted here:


    For other information on Gunberg, I'd recommend this article by Tim Harding as a starting point:



    - GB

  • 2 years ago


    Yes GM Gserper we're waiting for an article on this guy. WIth annotated games

  • 2 years ago


    Yea the standards for "articles" need to go up. This rates an average blog post. Gunsberg looks like an interesting character that a real article should have been devoted to. GM Serper, we are awaiting one of your excellent articles on this guy! (Or anyone that takes time to do any real research beyond copy/paste from wikipedia)

  • 2 years ago


    how come chigorin resigned, if it was 0-1 and chigorin was black?

  • 2 years ago



    32.Bc1 might be answered by 32...Nd4 attacking the Q on e2 and the pawn on f3.  After 33.Bxf4 Rxf4 34.Q moves, Black plays 34...Nxf3 threatening 35...Qxg4+ 36.Kh1 Qh3+.  White's position collapses.  I imagine 33.Bc1 runs into similar problems.  When the black knight lands on d4, White has to be ready to exchange it off with Bxd4.

  • 2 years ago


    Why not 32. Bc1, pinning the rook to the Queen (or perhaps at move 33)?

  • 2 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    My apologies!

    So, OK, to recap now: the article "celebrating" Gunsberg is entirely lifted from wikipedia except for a single game, which Gunsberg loses, which is almost unannotated except for one line at the end ("here Chigorin resigned"), which is wrong. 

    Somewhere Eric Schiller must be smiling. :)

  • 2 years ago



    The players are NOT reversed: Gunsberg is White, Chigorin is Black.  Chigorin won the game. (So the "Here Chigorin resigned" comment in the annotation is obviously incorrect.)

  • 2 years ago

    NM GargleBlaster

    A) The "fairly trustworthy source" here is Wikipedia, this entire "article" is lifted from there in fact, except for the game, which leads us to...

    B) The players seem to be reversed in the (almost completely unannotated) game - Gunsberg is Black, Chigorin White. (EDIT: oops, turns out the players are given correctly and the one annotation ("here Chigorin resigned") is wrong)

    C) The interesting part of all this, namely the bizarre libel case, is recounted here: http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter12.html#3824._Libel_suit

  • 2 years ago


    That was fun, kept waiting for white to pull it off because of the wrong names and it just got worse and worse.  

    I doubt it mattered but KxB seems no worse for white there at 39. 

  • 2 years ago


    If 43.Kd2 then Rh2 wins the bishop, and 43.Ke3 allows Rh3 pinning the queen.  That's why White resigned.

    BTW, I think that in this game Chigorin DID have the Black pieces and DID win  the game:

    Beautiful game, though.

  • 2 years ago


    ok so you play Kd2, I play Qc1? Perpetual check or worse

  • 2 years ago


    even in white's position, he could have still pulled a win. King to d2, queen to d1, queen from f3 takes queen on d1, rook takes, king takes. Then all white has to do is get his pawns to the end using his bishop!

  • 2 years ago


    Kd2 Qc1+ / Ke2 Qd1+ followed by an exchange of Queens and black is well in control. 

  • 2 years ago


    Impressive game, I guessed he'd check but I woulda took the bishop

  • 2 years ago


    On the contrary, black won. Gunsberg was black and Chigorin was white.

    Black is winning in this position since he is a pawn+an exchange up.
    And he wouldn't have resigned when he has a perpetual check would he ?Even if he were down in material, Qf1-Qc1 would give him a draw.

  • 2 years ago


    amazing game... bizarre white queen moves though.

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