The First Battleground in Chess, Part II

| 8 | Chess Players

In this article, as a continuation from last week, we will discuss the lives and games of Labourdonnais and Mac Donnell and their epic match, a match we consider to be the first battleground in chess.   The match also constitutes a turning point for modern chess. The level of play by both players was dramatic, and from my point of view, gave a tremendous impulse to the height and diffusion of chess.  As a result of this match, another epic battle arose 9 years later; the duel between another British representative and a Frenchman.  This match, between Saint Amant-Staunton, Paris 1843, will be the study of our next article. Over the history of chess, many future battlegrounds would emerge. The first battleground having the legacy of ushering in an era of modern chess, leading to many epic battles ranging from Alekine-Capablanca all the way to Kasparov-Karpov.

Labourdonnais was born sometime between 1795 and 1797.  He was a student of the famous Deschaspelles.  He progressed quickly, and later founded the first magazine of chess, “The Palamede” (1836-1840), which was said to have had 236! Subscribers! After the series with Mac Donnell and until his death in London, December 13th, 1840, he was considered to be the best chess player in the world. He studied the book “The Analysis” by Philidor, but played with a dynamic and intuitive style.

Alexander Mac Donnell was born in Belfast the 22nd of May, 1798. Later, he moved to London, where he worked as secretary of the committee of merchants for the western Indies. He received chess classes  rom Williams Lewis and in 1830 he was already considered to be the number 1 in his country. According to his contemporaries, and in contrast to Labourdannais, who played very fast and with facility, Mac Donnell concentrated too hard and finished his games exhausted. His style was fierce and acute. It is said that this accumulated tension precipitated his early death, the 14th of September, 1835 at ahe age of only 37 years old.

It was George Walker, founder of the “Westminster Club” and the main fan of Mac Donnell, who organized and compiled all of the games of the “Marathon of Westminster”.

Now I want to finish with two more games that are another example of the strength of these true gladiators, but not without first recommending to all my readers the study of additional games from this match which can be found in any one of the most popular databases. I am sure you will enjoy these games!




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