Chess - Play & Learn


FREE - In Google Play

FREE - in Win Phone Store

Anderssen. Some games with the Sicilian Defence.

Anderssen. Some games with the Sicilian Defence.

Dec 10, 2017, 9:48 AM 8

The picture is, as you will all know!, of Anderssen and Steinitz.

As I have mentioned before, I think that the popular conceptions of Anderssen as a chess player are not entirely accurate. One example of an attempt at objective assessment can be found here.


One facet of his play that interests me is his occasional use of the Sicilian Defence - which was quite a rare opening for a large part of his career. He seems to have used it very early on in his playing days - probably under the influence of la Bourdonnais and Staunton. Then he pretty much abandoned it for the bulk of his career, adopting 1...e5 exclusively, except when his opening preparation - as in the Morphy and Steinitz matches - ran into problems.

On to some games - I hope you find them interesting. I have not included 3 that he played in a 'match' against Paulsen - perhaps someone else will contribute them, with opinions of greater expertise than mine!!grin.png

The first one is historically interesting. It may be the first game completed in an 'international tournament' as we would view it today. If anyone knows more on that, feel free to contribute!

Batgirl has done an excellent post on Kieseritzky here.





 In the next game, Anderssen's 21st move is a stunner!! However, Staunton pointed out an even better move - I will leave you to find it.


The following game is a fascinating battle between 2 great players.


In the same match, the two playes gave us a good illustration of Reti's idea that combination is the heart of positional play, with which he introduces his section on Anderssen in 'Masters of the Chessboard'. Kolisch seems to be producing a positional game with a quality of understanding rarely seen at the time. However, his opponent's combinational insights into the position prove more important. Sadly, the game is spoiled by a blunder at the end, but is well worth the effort of studying nonetheless, and taught me a lot about Anderssen's chess, when he was playing top notch opposition in serious games.

Most strong players of the time clearly had two styles of play - in 'off-hand' and exhibition games, etc, we see the 'gambit style', full of sacrificial brilliance and risky adventures. In more serious encounters, we see a much more solid approach. I think that Steinitz's considered opinions on Morphy in that regard, for example, are very apt, despite the condemnation that they received at the time. ( Steinitz had a rare talent for making himself unpopular!!) Anderssen was a partial exception to that rule. When up against opponents who were not of the highest class, in tournament games - sadly such events were quite rare at the time- he would sometimes go into 'off-hand mode'. I think that he just loved playing chess, and wanted to enjoy the games whenever he could. The following game, from the London Tournament of 1862, is a case in point. (As always, I have my own opinions - which may differ from 'Everybody knows', and I respect everyones right to think that I am talking rubbish!!)  

There is a game which Anderssen lost as White, in the final of London 1851, to Marmaduke Wyvill M.P., which I think he learned a lot from. He used the lesson against Morphy in their match, and also in the following game. ( As a personal side - note, I learned the same lesson from the games mentioned, and used it to win a particularly satisfying game in a junior event many years ago, the memory of which still makes me smile!!!grin.png

The following  games are part of 3 consultation games that I know of - without researching the  subject - played at the time of the 1862 Tournament. In both we see Anderssen and Paulsen on the same team. ( Steinitz played in the other game I think - apologies for not doing the research, as it is not relavent to this particular article) Often there were consultation games attatched to tournaments during this era, and very often they took the form of a team of 'home' players against a team of 'foreign' players. Here, Lowenthal, as a London resident, was part of the home team - I think his residency and naturalisation details are discussed by Tim Harding in his excellent 'Eminent Victorian Chessplayers'. Louis Paulsen and Anderssen were rivals for quite a long time, but they seem to have been very much 'friendly rivals'. From what I can gather, that was the nature of both of them. At the time of London 1862 they had both matured into very fine players. 'Kennedy' would have been Capt. H.A. Kennedy - a staunch friend and supporter of Staunton, as well as being a pretty decent player. Samuel Boden was regarded by Bird as the strongest player in England. As a professional artist - works of his can be found on the internet - he was a strictly amateur player, and I have been unable to find many games of his. He edited the legendary chess column in 'The Field', for a time, before handing it over to De Vere.


At the start of his match with Steinitz, Anderssen is pretty much unrecognisable. He had terrible problems with Black against Steinitz's Kings Gambit ( never a strength of Anderssen's in my opinion - other opinions are available!!) and so switched to the Sicilian. In the last game of the match he tried  defending the Kings Gambit with ...Bc5, which  became a significant element in his opening repertoire from then on. I think his two wins in the Sicilian against Steinitz are amongst his very best games.

It is interesting that Anderssen did not use the Sicilian at the great baden Tournament in 1870 - he answered steinitz's Kings Gambit with the ...Bc5 defence, and won a famous game, for example. He did, however, useit in Vienna, 3 years later.

Von Gottschall comments on the following game that Anderssen played the whole game 'with great energy. It came after he had won a beautiful game with White against the same opponent - the Tournament was played on a 'miini-match' system - who was known for his solid, but passive, style.

The following  games are from Anderssen's final tournaments. He may not have been at his best, but, on occassion, the old lion could still roar!! Captain McKenzie and Joseph Blackburne, for example, were hardly pushovers.






Online Now