Feb 4, 2017, 1:23 PM |


This is a small attempt to pay tribute to the games of Howard Staunton. I have been inspired by two articles by GM Serper:

The Man Who Was Ahead Of His Time


Staunton Could See The Future


Note: I am also inspired to annotate some of these games, not because I am a very strong player, which I am not, but because it seems too dry to offer a game without notes. If I feel that I understand some of the things that happen in the game, I will annotate it. One of the things that I enjoy most in chess is analyzing lines, so please forgive me if my notes are not of the highest caliber. Also, I am NOT using an engine to analyze. I do it myself, for the love and joy of the game of chess! Thanks.

Kamalakanta Nieves


Howard Staunton


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Howard Staunton


Full name

Howard Staunton




April 1810


June 22, 1874 (aged 64)


Howard Staunton (1810 – 22 June 1874) was an English chess master who is generally regarded as having been the world's strongest player from 1843 to 1851, largely as a result of his 1843 victory over Saint-Amant. He promoted a chess set of clearly distinguishable pieces of standardised shape—the Staunton pattern promulgated by Nathaniel Cook—that is still the style required for competitions. He was the principal organiser of the first international chess tournament in 1851, which made England the world's leading chess centre and caused Adolf Anderssen to be recognised as the world's strongest player.


From 1840 onwards he became a leading chess commentator, and won matches against top players of the 1840s. In 1847 he entered a parallel career as a Shakespearean scholar. Ill health and his two writing careers led him to give up competitive chess after 1851. In 1858 attempts were made to organise a match between Staunton and Paul Morphy, but they failed. It is often alleged that Staunton deliberately misled Morphy while trying to avoid the match, but it is also possible Staunton overestimated his chances of getting physically fit and of making time available for a match.


Modern commentators consider Staunton's understanding of positional play to have been far ahead of his contemporaries'. Although not an all-out attacking player, he attacked when his preparations were complete. His chess articles and books were widely read and encouraged the development of chess in the United Kingdom, and his Chess-Player's Handbook (1847) was a reference for decades. The chess openings the English Opening and Staunton Gambit were named for his advocacy of them. Staunton has been a controversial figure since his own time, and his chess writings could be spiteful. On the other hand, he maintained good working relationships with several strong players and influential chess enthusiasts, and demonstrated excellent management skills.




Staunton, c. 1860


Most information about Staunton's early life is based on claims he made. Record of his birth or baptism has never been found. The chess historian H. J. R. Murray summarised the information that he "gleaned" from various sources: Staunton was born in 1810, reputedly the natural son of Frederick Howard, fifth Earl of Carlisle; he was neglected in youth, receiving little or no education; although he spent some time in Oxford, he was never a member of the University; when he came of age he inherited a few thousand pounds, which he soon squandered; in later life Staunton often used to tell how he had once played Lorenzo in the Merchant of Venice, with the famous English actor Edmund Kean playing Shylock.[1][2]


1836–42, first steps in chess


In 1836 Staunton came to London, where he took out a subscription for William Greenwood Walker's Games at Chess, actually played in London, by the late Alexander McDonnell Esq. Staunton was apparently twenty-six when he took a serious interest in chess. He said that at that time the strongest players he saw in London, Saint-Amant and George Walker, could easily have given him rook odds.[1] In 1838 he played many games with Captain Evans, inventor of the Evans Gambit, and also lost a match against the German chess writer Aaron Alexandre. He had improved sufficiently by 1840 to win a match against the German master H.W. Popert,[3] a slow, cautious player with great defensive skill.[1]


From May to December 1840 Staunton edited a chess column for the New Court Gazette. He then became chess editor of the magazine British Miscellany, and his chess column developed into a separate magazine, the Chess Player's Chronicle, which Staunton owned and edited until the early 1850s.[1][4]


1843, competitive peak


Early in 1843 Staunton prevailed in a long series of games against John Cochrane, a strong player and chess theoretician.[3]Chessmetrics treats these games incorrectly as one match when it was in fact a series of matches, and lists it as Staunton's best performance.[5]


A little later that year he lost a short match (2½–3½) in London against the visiting French player Saint-Amant, who was generally regarded as the world's strongest active player.[6][7]


Staunton challenged Saint-Amant to a longer match to be played in Paris for a stake of £100, equivalent to about £73,000 in 2015.[8] Then he prepared new opening lines, especially those beginning 1.c4, which became known as the English Opening after this match.[1] He also took Thomas Worrall and Harry Wilson to Paris as his assistants;[9] this is the first known case where seconds were used in a match.[10] Staunton gained a seven-game lead but then struggled to keep it before winning the match 13–8 (eleven wins, four draws, and six losses) in December 1843.[11][12]


Saint-Amant wanted a third match, but Staunton was initially unwilling as he had developed heart palpitations during the second match. Von der Lasa later suggested this was why Staunton faded in the second match.[13] However, after a long, difficult negotiation, which he reported in the Chess Player's Chronicle,[14] Staunton went to Paris intending to start their third match in October 1844, but he caught pneumonia while travelling and almost died; the match was postponed and never took place.[1]


Several modern commentators regard Staunton as de facto World Champion after his match victory over Saint-Amant, although that title did not yet formally exist.[15] After Saint-Amant's defeat, no other Frenchmen arose to continue the French supremacy in chess established by Philidor, Deschapelles, La Bourdonnais and Saint-Amant.[16] Some contemporary English commentators, mainly in Staunton's Chess Player's Chronicle, and some later writers hailed Staunton as the world champion.[17][1][18] The response was less enthusiastic elsewhere in Europe. Even in England some writers suggested other players, notably Buckle or von der Lasa, were stronger.[19]


1845–48, chess writer and promoter


In 1845 Staunton began a chess column for the Illustrated London News, which became the most influential chess column in the world and which he continued for the rest of his life.[11][20] Although his articles mostly focused on over-the-board play,[21] a significant number featured correspondence chess.[22] Some followed with enthusiasm the progress of promising youngsters, including Paul Morphy.[23] Staunton produced over 1,400 weekly articles for the Illustrated London News.[22]


The first chess match by electric telegraph took place in 1844, between Washington and Baltimore. In April 1845 Staunton and Captain Kennedy travelled to Gosport to play two games by telegraph against a group in London. Staunton took a long-term interest in this solution to the difficulties of travel, and reported telegraph games in the Illustrated London News. In 1871 his report of a telegraphic match between Sydney and Adelaide calculated that the 74 moves of the longest game had travelled a total of 220,000 miles (not much less than the distance between Earth and Moon).[22]


In 1847 Staunton published his most famous work, The Chess-Player's Handbook, which is still in print.[24] It contained over 300 pages of opening analysis,[25] and almost 100 pages of endgame analysis.[26][27] Staunton's Handbook was based on Bilguer and von der Lasa's Handbuch des Schachspiels (first published in 1843), but enhanced by many variations and analyses of Staunton's own.[1] His book The Chess-Player's Companion followed in 1849.[28]


He still found time for two matches in 1846, comfortably beating the professionals Bernhard Horwitz (fourteen wins, three draws, and seven losses) and Daniel Harrwitz. The match against Harrwitz was set up in a very unusual way: seven games in which Staunton gave Harrwitz odds of pawn and two moves (Staunton won four and lost three), seven games where he gave pawn and move (Staunton lost six and won one), and seven at no odds (Staunton won all seven).[1][3][29]


1849, marriage and design of a chess set




Original Staunton chess pieces, left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king.


Main article: Staunton chess set


On 23 July 1849 Staunton married Frances Carpenter Nethersole, who had had eight children by a previous marriage.[2][10]


In 1849 Nathaniel Cook registered a chess set design, and Jaques of London obtained the manufacturing rights. Staunton advertised the new set in his Illustrated London News chess column, pointing out that the pieces were easily identifiable, very stable, and good-looking. Each box was signed by Staunton, and Staunton received a royalty on each set sold.[11] The design became popular, and has been the standard for both professional and amateur chess players ever since.[30]Anthony Saidy and Norman Lessing wrote that, "if a vote was taken among chess-players as to which pieces they most enjoyed playing with, ... the Staunton chessmen would win by an overwhelming margin."[31]




The front entrance of the Great Exhibition.


1851, London International Tournament


Main article: London 1851 chess tournament


Staunton proposed and then took the lead in organising the first ever international tournament, as he thought the Great Exhibition of 1851 presented a unique opportunity, because the difficulties that obstructed international participation would be greatly reduced.[32] He may also have been motivated by reports that a few years earlier Ludwig Bledow had proposed to organise an international tournament in Germany, whose winner was to be recognised as the world champion.[33] Staunton and his colleagues had ambitious objectives for this tournament, including convening a "Chess Parliament" to complete the standardisation of various rules and procedures for competitive chess and for writing about chess. Staunton also proposed the production of a compendium showing what was known about chess openings, preferably as a table.[32] Before the tournament started Captain Kennedy and the Liberty Weekly Tribune in Missouri wrote that the winner should be regarded as "the World's Chess Champion".[33]


The organisers obtained financial contributions from Europe, the US and Asia, enabling the committee to set up a prize


Adolf Anderssen.
Staunton offered to pay Anderssen's travel expenses if necessary. Anderssen won the London 1851 chess tournament and the rival tournament organised by the London Chess Club.


Despite the generally enthusiastic response, several major players were unable to participate, including von der Lasa, Saint-Amant and Cochrane.[32]Adolf Anderssen was at first deterred by the travel costs, but accepted his invitation when Staunton offered to pay Anderssen's travel expenses out of his own pocket if necessary.[35] The committee had also organised a "London Provincial Tournament" for other British players, and "promoted" some of the entrants to play in the International Tournament to obtain the right number of players for a knock-out tournament.[32]


The tournament was a success, but disappointing for Staunton personally; in the second round he was knocked out by Anderssen, who won the tournament convincingly; and in the play-off for third place Staunton was narrowly beaten by Elijah Williams.[36][37] Staunton's defeat by Williams suggests that Staunton had over-stretched himself by acting as both a competitor and the Secretary of the organising committee.[1]


The London Chess Club, which had fallen out with Staunton and his colleagues, organised a tournament that was played a month later and had a multi-national set of players (many of whom had competed in Staunton's tournament), and the result was the same – Anderssen won.[38]


In 1852 Staunton published his book The Chess Tournament, which recounted in detail the efforts required to make the London International Tournament happen and presented all the games with his comments on the play.[32] Unfortunately some of Staunton's comments in the book and in the Illustrated London News were intemperate, because he was disappointed with the placing he achieved.[1]


 The next game is notable for the maturity of White's play, but also for the last is so beautiful!

In the next game Staunton teaches us a thing or two about how to play the Black Side of a Giouco Pianissimo....(d3 by White).

Staunton was also a fine endgame player. In the next game, he maneuvers very elegantly, until finally his opponent loses his way and misses a tactic....

Again, in th next game Stauton keeps showing us his amazing endgame skills...

In the next game, Staunton, playing White, plays a dynamic pawn sacrifice in the opening, and he slowly outplays his opponent, who in despair sacrifices a piece, but without sufficient compensation. Staunton's precise play seals the victory.

In the next game, Staunton's opponent overextends in the kingside, and eventually his position crumbles....

In the next game, Staunton gives a Master Class in how nto play the Black side of a French Defense. In the critical moment, White does not perceive the dangers awaiting him on the queenside, and Black almost wins a piece....White has to make unfavorable exchanges to avoid the loss of a piece, but Black ends up with a devastating initiative, winning in a few moves.

In the next game, Staunton delivers a tactical and strategical jewel....he achieves a decisive advantage in development out of the opening, and it eventually translates into a material advantage. Staunton's technique is world-class!

In the next game, White chooses a wrong plan (Bd5, Bxc6), giving Black the two bishops and a strong centre....before long, the position explodes with some wild tactics, and White is swept off the board!

In th next game, Staunton plays a positional masterpiece, and in the process makes a positional sacrifice of the Queen! Brilliant game!

In the following game, Staunton takes his initiative into a favorable endgame, from that point on, his superior endgame technique carries the day!

 The next game, played in 1843, features the Tarrasch Defense in the Queen's Gambit Declined...almost 20 years before Tarrasch was born!

The following game is a positional masterpiece against Horwitz...Staunton is a Master Class every time he plays!

In the following game, Staunton plays the Bird Opening. Black seems to be doing fine, until Staunton uncorks a series of tactical fireworks that leave him with a huge positional advantage! The rest is history, as they say....