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Carl Friedrich Andreyevich von Jaenisch

Oct 1, 2013, 12:00 AM 7,090 Reads 13 Comments Chess Players

     Tschigorin had written in 1880:  "In the chess world there are not a lot of names with such a wide and well-deserved reputation as the that of our compatriot Carl A. Jaenisch." 

Carl von Jaenisch

     Jaenish, a railroad engineering graduate, an associate professor of mechanics and member (Major) of the Army Corps of Engineers, abandoned his careers at age 27 to devote his time to chess. Unable to support himself fully through chess, he took employment in the Ministry of Finance but continued on with his chess obsession.

     Jaenish was born in Vyborg, a village about 50 miles from Petersburg and raised by his uncle Karl, a surgeon, in Moscow, after his father died. He moved to St. Petersburg, the center of chess at that time, to attend the Institute of the Corps of Railroad Engineers  (now the Petersburg State Transport University). His uncle's daughter was Karolina  Jaenisch Pavlova who, six years older than Carl, became the most respected 19th century Russian poetess.

     In 1838 he won a 2 game correspondence match with Lionel Kieseritsky (+1=1) just before Kieseritsky left Dorpat to become the strongest player in Paris. Actually, the second game terminated in Jaenisch's favor when Kieseritsky failed to reply due to his hasty departure from Livonia ("Chess Player's Chronicle," vol.2, 1841).  This may have sparked his decision to devote himself full time to chess in 1840  After quitting his teaching job, he started writing his well-received book, "A New Analysis of Chess Openings," completeting volume I in 1842  and volume II in 1843. Jaenisch was among the first to appoach opening analysis in an organized, scientific  manner. In 1862-3 he published his 3 volume work, "Treatise on the Application of Mathematical Analysis in the Chess Game."  To list all the articles by Jaenisch in various magazines and newspapers would be a task in itself.  Jaenisch also, although only briefly in 1856, edited the first chess column in Russia in the "St. Petersburg Gazette." 

     While he bested Kieseritsky in their short correspondence match, played using German rules, he wasn't so fortunate against the German Pleiades in Berlin in 1842.  He lost to Ludwig Bledow by an unknown score, to Heydebrand von de Lasa -2+1=1 and to Wilhelm Hanstein -4+1=1.

     It's commonly held that in Russia at that time Petroff was the strongest player, followed by either Shumov or Jaenisch. The results of games and matches between Jaenish and Shumov are hard to ascertain, even using the data from reliable sources.  The chessgames.com database shows 23 games between the two with the following results:

Year Shumov Jaenisch Draw
 1845   1  
 1849 1 2  
 1850 2 1  
 1851 2 1  
 1852     2
 1854 2 4  
 1868 1 1 2


     Chessgames.com is a superlative resource, but the games there, while 95% accurate, sometimes give erroneous dates, player names, venues, etc. , sometimes the total games are incomplete, making the database a springboard more than a definitive source.

     I love Edo Historical Chess Ratings for several reasons, foremost of which is that Mr. Edwards supplies his incredible array of sources for his data. Below is the Edo summation of Jaenisch's results (with a link to the pages - click on the year - explaining how each result was ascertained):

Year Shumov Jaenisch Draw
1849 1 2 1
1850 2 1  
1851 2 1  
1854 7 5  
1854 3 5  


     Other sources give slightly different results.  But all sources seem to agree that Jaenisch's had a slight overall minus recorded score against Ilya Shumov (Shumoff). Jaenish also had a slightly minus recorded score against Petroff, but we also had recorded games of Petroff offering Jaenisch odds of Pawn and Move.

from "Chess Player's Chronicle," vol. I, 1841

(I didn't try to transpose the game score into a pgn because it isn't specified which pawn is removed).

Below is a game between Jaenisch "and one of the first Players in Russia." c. 1842.

     In 1850 Jaenish played three games with J. Wallenrath who seems to have been a German player visiting St. Petersburg in 1850-1.  It's surprising that so little can be found concerning Wallenrath since he not only beat Jaenish +1=2, but drew Shumov +1-1=1 and beat another player unknown to me, Epiphanoff, +2-0. These results came from the "Schachzeitung" 1852.  The game scores were sent from Russia, but it's not clear if they were all the games played by Wallenrath or only the ones he wanted published.

     At that time Howard Staunton had sent an invitation to the better Russian players to take part in the International tournament in London. Jaenisch reponded to the invitation with a conditional acceptance, not knowing he would be able to make it in time. He added that Kireevsky (probably Ivan Vasilievich  Kireevsky, the Russian writer) wouldn't be able to participate, but he was hopeful that Shumov would.  He added that he forwarded the invitation to Petroff in Warsaw. It turned out that, while niether Petroff nor Shumov could attend, Jaenisch could but arrived too late to participate in the tournament itself.  However, he did play a set match with Howard Staunton, losing quite badly +2-7=1.  He seemingly played off-hand games with other notable players, such as Augustus Mongredien. One of Jaenisch's games with Hugh Alexander Kennedy, presented below, was preserved in the tounament book.


     Jaenisch tied a short match with Prince Sergey Urusov (+2-2) in 1854. Although vol. 3 (1851) of the "Chess Player's Chronicle" names Dr. Carl Otto Rosenberger as the fourth strongest Russian player, surely Prince Urusov had strong claim to that position.

     A curious side note is that in his 1862-3 series, "Treatise on the Application of Mathematical Analysis in the Chess Game," Jaenisch, in response to the 8 Queens Puzzle proposed in 1848 and partially solved in 1850, suggested a 5 Queen puzzle. The nature of both puzzles is that the Queens must cover all the squares on the board (in the 8 Queens puzzle however, there are two variations, one that required the Queens to cover each other, one that forbids it). In looking into this mathematical puzzle, I came across a solution presented by none other than the Puzzle Master himself, Sam Loyd:

"American Chess Journal"  1876

"Mr, Loyd gives the following as the solution to the Queens Puzzle of last month, to-wit : to place five Queens on the board so that every square shall be guarded. No (other) correct solutions were received, as our solvers overlooked the necessity of guarding the squares occupied by the Queens."



     Carl Friedrich Andreyevich Jaenisch died in St. Petersburg on March 7, 1872.

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