The Top Chess Players in the World

Howard Staunton

Howard Staunton
Photo: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons.
Full name
Howard Staunton
Apr 1, 1810 - Jun 24, 1874 (age 64)‎
Place of birth
London, England


Howard Staunton was an English chess master who is considered the unofficial world champion from 1843 to 1851. Staunton started making a name for himself as a prominent chess player after defeating the strong John Cochrane in a series of matches. His peak came after defeating the previous "world champion" Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant in 1843. Staunton's victory over his French opponent made many people consider him to be the strongest active player of the time.

Howard Staunton
A depiction of the match between Staunton and Saint-Amant. Painter: Jean-Henri Marlet/Public Domain.

Besides being a successful player, Staunton made many contributions to chess. During his match against Saint-Amant, Staunton analyzed many opening lines and helped popularize the English Opening. He was also the author of an influential column in The Illustrated London News and the critically-acclaimed The Chess-Player's Handbook, a book that analyzed openings. Staunton's writings on openings were highly esteemed by strong players like Wilhelm Steinitz and Paul Morphy.

Staunton's contributions also include the endorsement of the Staunton chess set, which is now the standard set for tournament play in the United States and many other countries. He was also the first person to organize an international chess tournament in 1851. The event not only had a considerable prize pool for the winner but also made it possible for the chess world to reach a consensus on who the best player in the world was at the time.

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