France or England?

11 | Chess Players

Nine years later after the match between Labourdonnais and Mac Donnell, the same situation occurred but this time, in Paris, with an Englishman challenging a Frenchman, and in both cases the guest triumphed. The match Saint Amant – Staunton had a lot of expectations surrounding it because several months earlier, the French player won a short match against the same opponent +3 -2 =1.

Saint Amant was born on September 12, 1800. He was, by the age of 40, the strongest player at the Café de la Regence and therefore, the best player in France. During the match we are going to review, he thought eternally almost every move with the average length of the games 9 hours! Between 1841 and 1847 he revived Le Palamede magazine. He was also a renowned merchant and wrote a book about wines.

Howard Staunton was a truly interesting man, a Shakespearian scholar by profession who learned to play chess late in life. It is said he wanted to avenge the defeat suffered by his countryman Mac Donnell. Among Staunton’s contributions to chess he published the notable Chess Player’s Handbook and organized the first international tournament in History, in London 1852. However, his name became most famous by creating the prototype of chess pieces known as “Staunton Pieces”. Fischer said: “Staunton was the most profound opening analyst of all time. He was more theorist than player, but nonetheless he was the strongest player of his day. Playing over his games, I discover that they are completely modern; where Morphy and Steinitz rejected the fianchetto, Staunton embraced it. In addition, he understood all of the positional concepts which modern players hold so dear, and thus – with Steinitz-- must be considered the first modern player.”

I want to show you two games from this contest, the first one is a tactical jewel, and the second (and final game of the contest), a jewel of strategy. The match ended +11 -6 =4 for Staunton. This was a historical tie between England and France! The modern era in chess had begun!


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