The Top Chess Players in the World

Louis de La Bourdonnais

Louis de La Bourdonnais
Photo: Wikimedia, CC.
Full name
Louis de La Bourdonnais
Jan 3, 1795 - Dec 13, 1840 (age 45)‎
Place of birth
Reunion, French Republic


Louis de La Bourdonnais was a French chess master who was considered the best player in the world from 1821 until he died in 1840. He started dedicating himself to chess professionally after losing his fortune in bad land deals, playing chess for money at the famous Cafe de la Regence. There he gained the attention of Alexandre Deschapelles, the world's strongest player at the time, who took La Bourdonnais under his wings as a student.

In 1821, La Bourdonnais won matches in Paris against Deschapelles and John Cochrane, another strong chess master. Even though La Bourdonnais had pawn-and-two-move odds against Deschapelles, his former teacher was convinced he couldn't beat La Bourdonnais in a regular match. After this, La Bourdonnais reigned as the strongest player in the world.

La Bourdonnais' most famous set of matches happened in 1834. The French master faced the strongest player in Great Britain, Alexander McDonnell, to determine the world's best chess player. Of the 85 games played, La Bourdonnais won 45, lost 27, and drew 13—a whopping victory. La Bourdonnais annotated the games of this match, contributing significantly to the advancement of chess theory.

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