Max Lange on Morphy/Anderssen
Sep 23, 2013, 1:05 PM 3
Adolphus Anderssen by Max Lange, 1858
The high reputation which the Transatlantic master had enjoyed for a long time in the western part of Europe had insensibly found an echo in Germany. There were, it is true, still single players and Chess societies which did not join in the general enthusiasm, although the German Chess organ had, long before his appearance in Europe, acknowledged his high qualities, and given due expression to its opinions. But Germany not only possesses many players of great and acknowledged merit, but has two stars of the first magnitude in the Chess horizon to which they could look up with confidence, and the brilliant rays of which were also reflected in foreign countries. This ought to have sufficed, and the coming of events ought to have been quietly waited for. It was clear that the American champion would be compelled to encounter the far-renowned German masters ere he could boast of the championship of the world. His chivalrous mind would have doubtlessly led him to that final and decisive combat; and the program of his Chess tour, which was repeatedly announced in the American Monthly, distinctly intimated a similar project. Moreover, it would have been indifferent to the German masters that a foreign and newly risen Chess celebrity was gathering laurels in France and in England, as long as that knight errant of Chess did not consider it necessary and to the interest of his own reputation to enter the arena with those who were acknowledged the strongest. Every true German, therefore, ought to have abstained, for various reasons, from making the first step in meeting him who was engaged in seeking laurels abroad; and those considerations, which ought to have determined our countrymen to be on their guard, were founded not only on national pride and consciousness of German powers, but still more on the pretensions of foreign countries, which invariably tended to increase their reputation at the expense of our own. In mentioning this, we scarcely allude to the chivalrous young hero himself, as may be seen afterwards, but chiefly to his countrymen, his enthusiastic admirers and companions. It so happened, that several German societies and private amateurs so far forgot themselves, as to invite the young hero, with whose further views they were altogether unacquainted, to visit their country, and thus to challenge him to an encounter. Such advances could but flatter the pride of the young master, even had his chivalrous mind disdained to avail himself of this advantage, although he knew very well he had most to fear from the German champions. The busy friends, however, of the young American considered such a juncture so desirable, and the advantage of bringing the adverse party to make the initiative so essential in the most difficult encounter which the young hero had to submit to, that they tried by every means to bring that event to pass. The first step was to influence public opinion by means of the press, and thus it was announced in several papers at different times in a confident manner and with an air of certainty, that not only Anderssen, but also Heydebrandt von der Lasa would hasten to Paris, in order to try their strength with the young phenomenon. In this sense, not only French but also English papers, instructed by direct or indirect communications from France, published news which, both with regard to their wording and their contents, must appear absurd to every one acquainted with the circumstances. The barefacedness in inventing similar reports was so great, that it was announced as an undoubted fact that the Prussian general-consul at Rio Janeiro, Heydebrandt von der Lasa (who at the time had not even a knowledge of Morphy's presence in Europe) would make it his task to obtain an immediate leave of absence, in order to hasten to Europe and enter the lists with the American. If similar unfounded news could not be supported for any length of time, they, however, could not fail to effect their purpose, by inducing Germans to take the initiative, which it was foreseen would lead to an encounter in Paris. The initiated are well aware what influence external circumstances and surroundings have upon the final result of a Chess match between players of equal strength. Thus the manoeuvres founded upon ambition and other motives, those niaiséries de la presse, which Deschapelles already reprobated in 1844, were again repeated, and another proof was given of the self-conceit of foreigners, especially of the French, who are always most anxious to induce foreign celebrities to congregate in their own city of Paris. Heydebrandt von der Lasa protested most decidedly and energetically against these unfounded reports, and we only wish that other German masters had done the same.
Misled by these reports, joined to the rumor that Morphy would, after all, not visit Germany, which were circulated even in German papers, hasty and isolated invitations were addressed to the young American, and the true light in which a meeting with him ought to be considered was thus lost sight of. To this must be added that certain parties abroad, not satisfied with the influence exercised by the press, tried to bring the intrigue to an issue by direct communications. Letters were all at once addressed by the companion of the American champion to several of the German clubs, with the announcement that the transatlantic master was making preparations for his return to his native country, a fact which in itself would be of the utmost indifference to Germany; to this was joined the very presumptuous request to ask him for a continuance of his stay in Paris.
Thus nothing less was required but that Germany should address a petition to a foreign young Chess player, as yet not personally known, and whose own ardent desire ought naturally to have been to meet the German masters, just to enable the French players to enjoy for some time longer the pleasure of his play in Paris. This was certainly the most preposterous request that foreigners could dare to make to Germany. Still there were to be found some German Chess amateurs who entertained the above demand. The Berlin Chess club, however, unanimously repudiated the suggestion, and in a simple but dignified answer expressed their regret not to be able to take part in the desired petition. When the question was discussed in the club, the editor of their Chess organ laid great stress upon the fact that it by no means behooved Germany to take the initiative, considering the widely acknowledged excellence of German players, and the consciousness which they possess of their own abilities; and that it ought to be revolting to every member of the club, for it to be imputed that the society which has produced the acknowledged greatest masters, should address a petition, in the interest of a foreign country, to a young and rising player, who possibly had not yet arrived to the height of his strength, whatever the promises he may give for the future might be.
The real intention of the letter was at the same time alluded to, which clearly could have no other object than to provoke the initiative on the part of Germany; and it was agreed that no steps whatever should be taken in this business, but coming events should be quietly waited for, and all preliminary steps left to the foreign master, so eager for glory. In the meantime the initiative had been taken by a party from whom it had been least expected. Anderssen, the often tried and ingenious veteran champion, whom Morphy, before all others, must have desired to meet, influenced by false reports and other circumstances, had himself challenged the American, under certain conditions. Among these conditions was one capable of offending the pride of his opponent, and thus give him an occasion to turn the affair still more in his favour. Morphy, therefore, in his reply, declined Anderssen's proposition, and in return invited the Professor to Paris, to play the desired match in that capital. Thereupon Anderssen, as he confessed himself afterwards, ought to have insisted upon, and remained satisfied with, his own challenge.
It is evident that the distinguished American player would have done everything to effect the match, for if he had not played after having been challenged, he would thereby at once have acknowledged the superiority of the German champion.
Burning, however, with impatience to break a lance with the youthful hero, who was so much admired abroad, and personally invited by him in a letter, which contained several reasons why they should not meet in Germany (which motives, however, were quite indifferent to a German, and valueless in themselves), the veteran German champion went at once to Paris, to meet the young foreign master, and presented himself, confident in his tried powers, to the fatal combat.
Some persons, it is true, have given a false interpretation to the disapprobation of taking the initiative, and wanted to see in it a desire to elude altogether the combat. It is unjust, however, to censure Anderssen's friends for their disapproval of his resolution of going to Paris, as they had a well-founded conviction that the foreigner would, under every eventuality, have presented himself in the arena. The opinion, therefore, of those who found fault with Anderssen for having made the first advance, was influenced only by formal considerations ; the more so as, by the challenge on the part of Germany, everything was done that could be required to save the national honour. However, when it was once decided to meet the young hero in Paris, there was nothing left but what was said in the "Schachzeitung" (December, 1858, page 493), that even if it seemed prejudicial to national pride and the consciousness of strength, that long-proved and matured masters should make the first step, yet, whatever may be the result of the match, the advantage of chivalrous feeling must be on the side of the Germans, and the patriotic heart may be proud that the otherwise so highly prized chivalry of the transatlantic hero was obliged to bow.
* The Berlin Chess players considered the step which Anderssen had taken in that light; and the above-mentioned Nationalzeitung says, in respect to this :—
" The chivalrous American champion having, as we have mentioned before, and as he repeatedly assured himself, chiefly the honour of victory and the consolidation of his reputation in view, and besides, in case he should visit Germany, the German Chess Club being by no means adverse to find stakes, we may expect to witness a very interesting contest between American talent and German ability. For this reason, and in order to obviate all doubts, the famous German player, Professor Anderssen, has proposed to the American a match for £50, and £25 to pay his traveling expenses, and we believe that now all necessary measures have been taken to hold up the German reputation."
Still more clearly this idea is expressed in the Schachzeitung, of November, page 448 :—
" The views of the transatlantic master are in harmony with the often repeated intention expressed in his own periodical, viz., that of measuring his powers against those of the German masters. As however, through erroneous reports, many misunderstandings have arisen, our friend Professor Anderssen, of Breslau, has, in order to set at rest any doubt that may exist about German self-confidence, taken the initiative, and offered to the American a match for £50 sterling, and £25 to cover his traveling expenses. In bringing these facts before the public, we thereby express the hope to see interesting match games played in the midst of the German Chess Society."
Adolphus Anderssen, born July 6th, 1818, in Breslau, devoted himself from 1838 to the study of philosophy and mathematics, at that University. More given to the simpler doctrines of Kant than to the modern ones, especially those of HEGEL, he soon embraced with ardour the study of mathematics, and was afterwards for some time employed as assistant master at Frederic's College, in Breslau. Afterwards he accepted an advantageous engagement at Stolpe, in Pommerania, where he remained two years. In the spring of 1851, he came to Berlin. There he found strong opponents in Chess, as Mayet, Dufresne, Falkbeer, and sometimes also von der Lasa. His success in Berlin brought him to the tournament in London, after which he returned to his native town, and in 1852 he obtained an engagement as chief master at the above-named College. His merits as teacher of mathematics were soon acknowledged by the title of Professor, which was conferred upon him.
Lately, Anderssen has devoted his leisure hours to private studies, whilst his only recreation, which is not of a literary nature, consists in a game of Chess, although amongst the members of the Breslau Club there is not one player of his strength. This want of practice with first-rate players exercised a greater influence, than Anderssen could or would have believed before, on his unlucky match in Paris. He began his journey to the French capital on the 11th December, passing through Berlin, and only stopped a short time at Cologne, at the house of Mr. A. C. [Adolphus Caratanjen*] On the evening of the 14th he arrived in Paris, and, to his surprise, was informed that Paul Morphy was ill in bed. This accident may be viewed in any light, but in no case could it be considered favourable to Anderssen, who has even expressed his regret that he remained under such circumstances. However, the vivacity and spirited manner with which the patient joined in the conversation, promised a speedy beginning of the fight. The mean time the German master employed in an encounter with his countryman, Harrwitz, with whom he won three games, lost one, and drew three. He also played a few games with Arnous de Riviere, and some other French players. The match with the American began on Monday, December the 20th, and was continued without intermission. Besides these chief games, there were played a few off-hand contests, to which, however, Anderssen attached no importance whatever. They met for another distinct purpose, but the preparations were, through mistake, not finished; and just in order to pass the time, a few games were played in a skittling style. Afterwards, great emphasis was laid upon these games by French and English writers; often, also, the most innocent expressions, which sometimes had quite a different meaning, or were spoken occasionally by the German player, were laid hold of, and undue importance attached to them. Amongst these may be mentioned the words attributed to him, "that it was a rare fortune for a player to win one or two games against Morphy." The fact is, that at dinner, before the last game was played, Anderssen said, jokingly and in good temper, " He was glad to have already two sheep in safety." Again, Anderssen is reported to have said, " II joue non seulement le coup juste, mais le coup le plus juste." (Morphy makes not only the best, but the very best move.) " No living player has a chance in play against Morphy ; it is uncertainty struggling against certainty."
The truth is, that Anderssen only spoke of the great correctness of Morphy's play, and simply remarked, that the American never made a mistake, and very rarely an error. We do not intend, by correcting these misstatements, to diminish the glory of the American; for, after all we have said before, it is evident this can not be our intention; but an impartial presentation of facts, devoid of national vanity, can only be in favour of the youthful champion who came off victorious; and, therefore, we will add here a few expressions of Anderssen's, which we can warrant to be authentic. He was asked if the American was superior in coolness and self-possession, and if his play in general had seemed to him superior to his own. The first part of the question was not strictly answered, for Anderssen merely replied to it as follows :—" I cannot say I believe so; for, in my own opinion, I was quite cool, but still I have overlooked the most simple moves." The second question was answered without reserve:—" He did not even in his dreams," he said, " believe in the superiority of his opponent; it is, however, impossible to keep one's excellence in a little glass casket, like a jewel, to take it out whenever wanted; on the contrary, it can only be conserved by continuous and good practice." It was asked of him, if there were any external disturbing influences at work, and how the witnesses and spectators behaved. As to the first question, it was not denied that unwonted noisy surroundings in the hotel chosen (Hotel Violet), produced sleepless nights, which by no means contributed to fortify him for the exhausting play of a match. The near spectators, as Messrs. A. de Riviere Preti, Journoud, and Edge, as well as the proper witnesses or honorary seconds, Messrs. St. Amant, Lequesne, Mortimer, and Grandboulogne, behaved, all of them, most honourably; amongst the other spectators, however, there were unmistakable, and sometimes very disturbing, sympathies shown for his opponent. Signs of impatience were chiefly exhibited when the German player took time for reflection; especially conspicuous therein was a certain baldheaded Italian, who generally managed to place himself close to the American player. To such influences may be attributed the turn in the sixth game of the match, move twenty-eight. The German master was, amongst, other things, also asked wherein the strength of his opponent lay, and what was his opinion of the lost games in comparison with those he won. As to the first part, he had already mentioned that the American never committed a mistake, and very seldom an error. As to the second point, the games won by the German player must be good, because Morphy never loses through mistakes or errors. The contrary may be said of the other games, which were generally thrown away by evident blunders. Besides, the question has been addressed to Anderssen, and especially from Leipzig, if he would again fight with Morphy, and how the latter had behaved to him. The answer was, that Morphy was invariably polite to him, but more so after his victory, and that he manifested his satisfaction by several little attentions. He had distinctly promised, besides, to pay a return visit to Germany in the month of March ; whereupon, if he had no objection to idle away a fortnight in Breslau, most likely a return match could be arranged. Finally, the same parties inquired how the American master spoke of Anderssen's play. Upon this the German player replied with well-founded confidence:— " To express an opinion upon this subject was impossible for Morphy, as I had not gone to Paris to get a certificate of ability. Those who surrounded the American, however, seemed to think that they flattered me most when they said, how high an opinion the American had of my play, and that he considered me the strongest of all opponents he had met till now. But to be reckoned stronger than a Lowenthal I consider next door to nothing! "
*An enthusiastic amateur and great admirer of Anderssen, Mr. Adolphus Caratanjen (a member of the well-known firm " Vom Rath Joest and Carstanjen," in Cologne), expecting rather too favourable results for Germany from a meeting of the two champions, and fully confiding in the genius of the German master, pressed the business forward with most ardent zeal. He was the chief cause that the challenge was made, and thus is answerable, in a certain respect, for a considerable part of the whole transaction. Among the conditions which the already mentioned Secretary of the Breslau Club (who acted as deputy) had offered to Morphy, was an indemnification for the expenses of his journey, the non-acceptance of which might have been easily foreseen.
With great severity—to which, however, he was fully entitled—Morphy says, in his answer to Dr. S.:
(translation from the original French from David Lawson)
Dr, Schultze, Secretary
Breslau Chess Club
I regret that you do not understand my position: I have never and never will play as a professional and I am in a position that allows me to travel at my own expense. The offer you have made is very kind but should not be addressed to me.
It will not be possible for me to go to Breslau to contest with Mr.Anderssen. I had hoped he could accept the invitation of the French players, but the dispatch received Saturday deprives me of hope that I will be able to measure myself with the German champion.
Please accept assurance of my highest regards.
An impartial and profound examination of the games in this match, proves, on the part of the vanquished, an uncommon depth in judging positions, and even shows him to be the superior genius in a certain class of games, in which that advantage predominates. That class of games which obliges each party to arrange first their pieces on their own territory, and thus exacts a long foresight of future positions, and a comprehensive understanding of Pawns and pieces in concerto, not having been as yet analyzed in books, gives free and full scope to the exercise of genius, and affords at the same time a proper scale for the appreciation of the natural depth of combinations. To the superiority of the German master in this class of games which is especially shown in the sixth, eighth, and tenth, and which he regrets not to have made use of sooner, the American can oppose his perfect knowledge and accurate play in all the open games wherein he has a nearly equal superiority, as Anderssen, entirely absorbed by his professional duties, could lately not devote so much time to the study of the openings, and therefore succumbed nearly always in those games, which are analyzed by the books and which form the great majority of the match.
It must be added to this, as he observed himself, that Chess mastership cannot be conserved in a glass casket, like a jewel, to be taken out when wanted, but that it needs continuous practice with strong players. In that open game which Anderssen knows perfectly well, viz., the Evans's gambit, he played well throughout and kept his advantage, acknowledged by the books, perseveringly to the end. Although it is not to be denied, that skill in open games can be acquired by careful study and consequent practical exercise, whilst the more deeply lying knowledge of positions, being a specific quality of genius, can only be acquired to a certain degree by talent; and though, on that account the German master will perhaps remain the deeper player of the two, the American on the other side has an advantage which is decisive in practical play, and which being also a specific quality can only be acquired to a certain point by practice. We mean that invariable coolness, and that indestructible power of reflection in the most critical situations, which never allows a mistake and only very seldom an error. It is evident therefore that the want of strong practice in the German master, which is so great an obstacle to success in similar matches, must have been strongly felt by him when opposed to the American, who, so to say, only lived for the practice of the game. In most of the games, we thus see the German player either through evident blunders, as in Games III., VI., and IX., or through mistaken easy combinations, showing the want of tension in his intellectual powers at the moment, as in Games IV., VI., and XL, or lastly through undervaluing his opponent's strength, as in Games IV. and V., throw an already obtained advantage away and lose the game. If therefore we take into account the specific quality of coolness, which is the peculiarity of the tough Englishman and the practical American, and oppose it to the depth of combination which, characterizes the German genius, we find that the balance is greatly ins favour of the American, by his thorough knowledge of the openings and their application to practical play, and that balance, too, is in full accord with the result of the match. To sum up our remarks, we can state in a few words, that at all events the American was, at the time, the superior, that is, the more practiced match player.