Louis Paulsen II

Louis Paulsen II

Apr 5, 2015, 12:00 AM |
12 | Chess Players

     I'd written about Paulsen several times in different places. HERE is my article at Chess.com of which I'll consider this an extension.

     Why write more on Louis Paulsen?  I am fascinated with the 19th century and chess during that era.  Paulsen was one of the most influential players during the second half of that century.  Other persons interested in this same period must also have an interest in Paulsen.  So the information here is for their benefit mainly, although I would think that anyone with even a passing interest in the history of chess should be able to find something worthwhile here.


     The first entry is Steinitz' memorial of Paulsen following his death including Wilfried Paulsen's account of Louis' final days) :

"International Chess Magazine,"  July, 1891.

     "Herr Louis Paulsen, whose death was announced in our last issue, was one of the greatest Chess masters of the age. He was born on June 15, 1833, at Blomberg, LippeDetinold. Germany, and he learned the moves of Chess at an early age from his father, Dr. Paulsen, who was the strongest player in that part of the country. In 1854 he came to America and established a business in Dubuque, Iowa, with his brother Ernst. In his leisure hours he played Chess with amateurs, and he soon acquired a reputation which led to his being invited to Chicago, where he successfully met the best players of that city. In 1857 he entered the famous New York Chess Congress, the first in America. Paul Morphy was the chief victor at this Congress, and Paulsen won the second prize, having been beaten in the final match by 5 to 1 and two draws. Three years later after Morphy's return from his victorious tour in Europe, Paulsen challenged him to a match, but Morphy declined to accept. In 1861 he won the chief prize in the Bristol, England, tournament, Kolisch being second. With the latter master he had previously contested a match which was one of the most remarkable on record. Paulsen won at first five games to one, but then his opponent drew game after game, and also added some victories to his score, until finally the match, which was for the first ten up, was given up as drawn, the score being: Paulsen, 7, Kolisch, 6, and 18 drawn. In the London Congress of 1862 Paulsen came out second. Anderssen being first. Later he entered the German national tournaments, and he generally came out a high prize winner. His greatest achievement in Germany was his victory in Leipsic, in 1877, when Anderssen won second prize, and Zukertort third. He was less successful in the International Congresses of Baden in 1870, and of Vienna in 1873 and 1SS2. for he was not placed in either of these meetings, although he came out close to the prize winners. But he had undoubtedly the best match record of any German master. In 1862 a contest between Paulsen and Anderssen was abandoned as drawn after each player had won three games, but Paulsen won two more games for separate prizes. In 1876 he defeated the same master by 5 to 4, and again one year later at Leipsic by 5 to 3 and one draw. He also defeated in matches such masters as G. R. Neumann, Adolf Schwarz and Max Lange, each by 5 to 2 and no draws, except three against Neumann."

     'Herr Paulsen's name will also stand out as one of the most famous on record n the annals of Chess for his extraordinary performances as a blindfold player. He made his first effort in playing without seeing board or men in New York in 1857, when he contested the then unprecedented number of five games simultaneously, of which he won four and drew one The New York Chess Club awarded him a gold medal for this achievement. Later he conducted no less than fourteen games at the same time without seeing the board. He gave one exhibition of playing that number at Dubuque in 1858, and this extraordinary feat was only once surpassed, when Zukerkort conducted sixteen games simultaneously in this manner in London in 1876. Herr Paulsen gave a great number of successful exhibitions of playing when blindfolded ten games simultaneously, both in America and England. He made excellent scores on each occasion, defeating some very strong opponents, including Blackburne and Mackenzie, who each tried their hands against him in one of those performances. It should, however, be stated that both were only rising young players at the time. Herr Paulsen was a thoroughly straightforward and honest gentleman, and his modesty and unassuming manners made him popular among amateurs as well as experts."

     "Herr Paulsen was a genius of an order which is now becoming generally recognized after having passed the usual transition period of public derision and depreciation. He was one of the chief pioneers of the modern school which has been so much decried during its advance, but has established itself victoriously after a hard struggle against a sort of sentimental opposition. So far from my wishing to he intolerant against tinadverse critics of the modern principles, I freely beg to statt e that in the early part of my career I myself was an absolute believer in the old system, and I well recollect that when I first met Kolisch and Andersen I expressed myself in very derogatory terms about Paulsen's style of play. But both those masters warmly defended Paulsen against my general criticism and this set me thinking. Some of the games which I saw Paulsen play during the London Congress of tS62 gave a still stronger start to the modification of my own opinions, which has since developed, and I began to recognize that Chess genius is not confined to the more or less deep and brilliant finishing strokes after the original balance of power and position has been overthrown, but that it also requites the exercise of still more extraordinary powers, though perhaps of a different kind, to maintain that balance 01 respectively to disturb it at the proper time in one's own favor. Morphy. with all his mighty powers, never ventured on a single experiment in the early part of the game, and he faithfully followed the track laid out by theoretical predecessors. Paulsen, on the other hand, struck at the root of the game in different openings, and in an original manner he paved the way to the development of principles in the middle part and in the ending which generated position judgment and helped to dispense with mere combination tactics. Some admirers of the modern school have gone so far as to claim a monopoly of genius for the new style. Notably, Dr. Tarrasch denies altogether the real genius of old masters, including Morphy. In my capacity as a public critic I have to hold the scales of justice to the best of my ability, and I must express my disagreement with the young German Chess giant, who, in his honest enthusiasm for the school to which he belongs, seems to ignore or unduly to depreciate the merits of masters of a previous generation who can only fairly be measured by the standard of their time. But on the other hand, the professed exclusive adherents to the old style will not be able to deny the irrefutable logic of facts, which stamps Paulsen as a genius of the highest order, although his generalship was not of the sort which they admire, for he had beaten such masters of the old school as Anderssen, Kolisch and Neumann."  N. Y. "Tribune."

     Herr Wilfried Paulsen, the brother of the late Louis Paulsen, and also one of the leading German Chess masters, sends the following most interesting reminiscence of his brother and an account of his last days to Deutsch's Woehenschach:

     "Louis Paulsen lived very simple and regularly ; he only drank water—no spirits, coffee or tea—he did not smoke, and apparently he had conserved himself very well. In March he suffered from influenza. Regularly he came daily from Blomberg to Nassengtund (the residence of Wilfred Paulsen). In the beginning of May he ceased coming on account of his suffering from swollen feet, and he had to keep his room, where, however, he did his usual work. (Louis Paulsen was engaged as a manager of an estate belonging to his brother, who writes this letter). About the end of May I proposed to make a journey with him to the Hartz,which, however, he declined. In July he at last attempted a journey for his recuperation, but he was al ready too weak for the purpose. He stopped in Kassel, whence after a ten-days', stay he wrote to request that one of his relatives should visit him. My brother Ernst made the journey and brought him back to Blomberg. He positively refused to take medical advice. During his last days his strength failed most rapidly. On August t8 he slept during the evening as quietly as a healthy man, but at a quarter to 12 o'clock he ceased to breathe. The physician. Dr. Theopold, who viewed the body next day, considered it probable after the account which we gave him about the symptoms of illness and habits of life of our brother, that the cause of death was diabetes mellitus, which generally ends with consumption. His features were not altered in the least. He looked as if he were sleeping. On August 22, at 10 a.m., the funeral took place with a numerous participation. A great number of laurel wreaths had been sent and the coffin was not visible under their cover. He had no enemy and no differences with any one. His life was simple and unassuming; in spite of his economical habits he rewarded services that were done for him very generously. and gladly gave alms to the poor. Strict rectitude, conscientiousness, punctuality and love of truth were his special distinctions. For us his death is a great loss. His bookkeeping was so careful and exact that mistakes were totally excluded. With such energy he kept himself up that only during his last day he was confined to his bed."

     Wilfried Paulsen's own obituary from the BCM 10 yars later:

"BCM" April, 1901.

     WE greatly regret to record the death on February 6th, at Nassengrund, near Blomberg. of Herr Wilfried Paulsen, the elder brother of Herr Louis Paulsen, who died twelve years ago. In chess tourneys of the seventies and eighties both brothers frequently took part, and the elder was very little inferior in strength to his celebrated brother. The newly deceased retired from active chess contests several years ago, and occupied himself on his own estate at Nassengrund, where he was well known as a successful potato raiser. Our old chess masters of the 19th century are rapidly passing away from us, and there are not many of them left. Let us do them all honour while they are yet with us, even though they may have retired from the actual practice of our noble game, for they can say with Horace,—
                                Not without glory have I ta'en the field;
                                Now on this wall must hang my sword and shield."

      "The Book of the The Fifth American Chess Congress" by Charles Gilberg contained many biographies of influential players including the following exceptional of of Louis Paulsen:

     LOUIS PAULSEN, The youngest son of Dr. Carl Paulsen, Professor of Philosophy in the University of Gottingen, was born on the 13th of January, 1833, in the city of Blomberg, duchy of Lippe-Detmold, on the borders of Westphalia. Himself an excellent and enthusiastic chess player, Dr. Paulsen had discovered in the game a valuable discipline to the youthful mind, and sought to inculcate a love for it in his sons and daughters at an early age, as a mere preparatory exercise to more important studies; but succeeded so admirably that all of them became profoundly and permanently attached to it, and all have become noted as players. Louis is said to have imbibed the rudiments of the game at the early age of five years while listening to his father's instruction to his eldest brother, and with superior natural aptitude for its study developed remarkable skill and ingenuity in his earliest attempts to direct the forces on the chequered battle-field. At the age of fourteen he came into possession of a German edition of Philidor's Games, containing an exposition of what was regarded in his day as a most wonderful and almost incredible power of conducting three games simultaneously without sight of boards or men, and he determined at once to emulate the celebrated Frenchman's astonishing performance—a resolution which he has probably carried to the utmost limit of human capability. With a slight effort he found that he could conduct one, two, and even three games by the use of his unaided mental vision almost as clearly as with the implements of the game before him; and restricting himself during the years of probation to the latter number, his perfect command and perception of the unseen forces achieved a succession of triumphs that was not marred by a single defeat until the fall of 1857, when he was led astray by a miscalled move of one of his opponents. In August, 1854, he embarked for America, and settled for some years in Dubuque, Iowa, in partnership with his brother Ernst as a wholesale tobacco merchant. His reputation as a chess player received no check from the amateurs of that city, to nearly all of whom he found it necessary to yield heavy odds; and frequently to equalize the great disparity of strength that existed between them he would surprise and entertain his less skilled adversaries with exhibitions of his ability as a blindfold strategist. Fame trumpeted his achievements abroad, and Dubuque speedily became a point of interest and attraction to lovers of the game in the neighboring States, who flocked there to witness and test his marvellous powers. Among these visitors was Mr. W. S. Allison, of Minnesota, a gentleman of considerable fame in the chess world, who gave an enthusiastic account of Mr. Paulsen's performances to the Chicago Chess Club, and the rapturous praise which he bestowed upon feats that had never before been accomplished or attempted in this country led that club to extend an invitation to Mr. Paulsen to visit their city. Yielding to the pressure of that friendly behest, he gave the players of Chicago repeated evidence of his consummate skill, and to the admiration that was excited among them upon that occasion was due his subsequent introduction to the New York Club and his participation in the Congress. On his arrival in New York he gave several blindfold exhibitions, playing first two, then three, four, and finally five games at the same time against opponents of acknowledged strength, with almost uninterrupted success. But these performances he eclipsed on his return to the West, and in March, 1858, he essayed for the first time seven simultaneous games against his old adversaries of Dubuque, winning all; and afterwards in Davenport, Rock Island, St. Louis and Pittsburgh he accomplished the unprecedented feat of successfully conducting ten games at the same time. "With an ambition still unsated, and conscious of possessing powers that were capable of enduring a greater mental strain than they had yet been taxed with, he has since rivalled his performances in this country both in England and Germany, and has steadily advanced until he has reached—if we may credit the Schachzeitung—¦ the extraordinary number of sixteen—and it is even hinted that without the aid of his organs of sight he has conducted eighteen games at the same time! In 1859 Mr. Paulsen assumed the management of a chess column in the Chicago Sunday Leader, but determining soon after its commencement to return to his native land his editorial duties were necessarily abandoned. In the fall of 1860 he left America, and in the following year entered the Bristol tournament of the British Chess Association, in which he won the first prize, and gave the Englishmen an evidence of his blindfold abilities by playing eleven games, in which he was opposed by some of the strongest provincial players. His subsequent career in Europe has been marked by many splendid triumphs in tournaments and in -well-fought matches with the most eminent practitioners; and, with the robust mental and physical structure which nature has so liberally bestowed upon him, greater laurels may yet be added to his crown. As an interesting and valuable scientific exposition of our subject's mental organization, we conclude our sketch with the following admirable examen made by Professor Fowler during Mr. Paulsen's sojourn in New York in the fall of 1857:

     Phrenological Character Of Mr. Louis Paulsen, By Mr, L. N. Fowler, Professor Of Phrenology. Your organization is most remarkable, both as to size of brain as a whole, and also of the separate faculties. The one leading feature of your mind is comprehensiveness, largeness and expansiveness of thought and feeling. You can see further, carry more in your mind, and more easily understand the adaptations and relations of things than most men. The ordinary size of a fullgrown male head is 22 inches, while yours measures 24^hiches; and the quality of your brain being favorable to mental development gives you a great advantage. You are not necessarily smart in small tilings, sprightly and wide awake under ordinary circumstances, but you develop yourself to the best advantage where the most mind is required. You are prudent; you have great cautiousness, forethought, restraint and desire to guard all points of action. Your firmness being very large, indicates stability, perseverence and tenacity of will, which, combined with your full self-esteem, gives presence of mind and disposition to carry a steady hand in whatever you do. You also have circumspection, consistency of conduct and sense of moral obligations. You are capable of great executive power, and when fully aroused to a subject can show unusual energy and force of mind. You have application and continuity of thought, and can dwell long on one subject if necessary. You are not remarkably warm hearted, social, companionable, or fond of exchanging thoughts and feelings in a friendly manner. You are not cunning and artful, acquisitive or selfish; not ambitious and affable, showy or vain—are not hopeful, sanguine, enthusiastic or visionary; but you have an unusual degree of sympathy, tender heartedness and goodwill towards mankind. You are respectful, and are interested in subjects of a spiritual and supernatural nature. You are ingenious, constructive and versatile in talent. You have a full degree of imagination and sense of beauty, but you possess more intelligence than poetical feeling. You are decidedly fond of subjects sublime, magnificent and grand. You are not imitative or given to mimicry, but you have an active sense of wit, and are quite quick to perceive jokes and fun ; but your tone of mind is not one that favors mirth-making. The most remarkable traits of your character lie in your intellectual faculties. Your phrenological organization as a whole is large, but the frontal lobe is particularly large, which gives you an unusual degree of intelligence, comprehensiveness of intellect, correct perceptions, and an extended range of knowledge. You are not so much of a student as you are an observer. Size, form, individuality, order, calculation and locality are all very large. You are extensive and minute in your observations, remarkable for your perception of forms, faces, shapes and the outlines of tilings. You have superior knowledge of proportions and the adaptation of one thing to another. Tou also can calculate force and resistance well, and can judge of the laws of gravity accurately. You are remarkable for your power to plan, systematize, and devise ways and means, and to come directly to your results with as little labor and friction as possible. Few men have as much order and power to take all the conditions into account as yourself. You have superior mathematical talent, and it would be easy for you to make up estimates and calculations in general. You have a remarkable knowledge of place. You can remember location, and the relative bearing of one thing to another with perfect ease, after having once seen them. Memory of events and dates appears to be comparatively good, but not great. Your power to execute music is not so good as your capacity to criticise when others perform it. You are not copious in speech unless highly excited. You are generally taciturn, and a man of few words. Your reasoning intellect is unusually strong. You have originality, power to sense a subject, see the bearing of one subject to another, to analyze, study the relations of things, and to apply your knowledge in some practical form. You also have an intuitive sense of character and motives, but you are somewhat wanting in youthfulness, agreeableness aud suavity of manner. Your great talent as a chess player arises, first, from your having a very large brain, and that of good quality; secondly, from your coolness and self-possession, from your prudence and foresight; thirdly, from your great perceptions, mechanical talents, system, local memory, and great philosophical mind. four phrenological development perfectly harmonizes with the reputation you sustain as a chess-player.

     And last, a little Morphy.

     One of the most famous games in history put Paulsen on the wrong side of a Queen sacrifice played played by Morphy at the 1st American Chess Congress in New York.

More from batgirl
The Julien Levy Gallery

The Julien Levy Gallery

The Dean of American Chess

The Dean of American Chess