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Steinitz on Paulsen

Oct 2, 2009, 1:18 PM 10

In this facinating obituary of Louis Paulsen, Wiliam Steinitz gave full credit to Paulsen for his developmental ideas as well a deserved praise for his chess pioneering. 


" 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. Lippe-Detmold. 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 lour in Europe, Paulsen challenged him to a match, but Morphy declined to accept. In 1861 be 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 om 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 1882, 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 lit 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 be intolerant against the adverse critics of the modern principles, I freely beg to state 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 Paulson'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 1862 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 requires the exercise of still more extraordinary powers, though perhaps of a different kind, to maintain that balance or respectively to distrub 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 otherr 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 Wilfred 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 Deutschet 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 Nassengrund (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 already 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 visil 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 18 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."

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