Added on 2/25/2021

The Internet Chess club is thrilled to announce a brand new video series, with GM Misa Pap. Misa has been researching history and chess, to pick up the best 15 matches to determine the World Chess Champion. Enjoy the Intro video! Here is the presentation of the course, written by our GM. Chess is a vibrant and noble game, and as we know, it has a very long and illustrious history, dating many centuries in the past. But only in the last 500 years or so, we have been playing with Chess's modern rules, which are still used today. At a point, the fast-growing chess world needed a "world champion," someone who had to be recognized as the strongest chess player in the world, for people to admire him and to learn from him. And even to challenge him.

     Therefore, chess matches for the prestigious title of the world champion were established. At first, these matches were unofficial, of course, and then starting from 1886, we had the first official match for the world title, played between Steinitz and Zukertort, which will be the theme of the first video in this series.

Steinitz and Zukertort in the first official World Chess Championship 

      In this series of 15 videos, GM Misa presents to you in a short and instructive, entertaining format, facts and games from 15 matches for the world title, starting from the first one, played in 1886, till the last one, played in 2018. There have been more than 50 matches for the chess king's crown, so Misa picked up the 15 most interesting, most exciting, or just most important ones. 

   The first games in a modern database, which has around 10 million games today, are from the 16th century, 1560. And there, the Spanish monk Ruy Lopez de Segura is mentioned. Maybe he was not the best player of that era, but he was quite famous. Today we all know about the "Spanish opening" or the "Ruy Lopez" opening, which is still played by elite GMs half a millennia after being invented!

      Following him were the most famous (if not the best): Salvio and Greco in the early 1600s.

      Then, after some "gap" in the history of notable players, we have famous and certainly the strongest player of that time, one and only  François-André Danican Philidor (1755–1795), at the end of the 18th century. Surely all of you know the famous Philidor defense on the 6th rank in rook endgames! Or, for example, his favorite motto: "Pawns are the soul of chess." He was the strongest chess player in the world of his era without a shadow of a doubt. However, he was not the official world champion because such a title didn't even exist, and it was not used!

      After him, in the first part of the 19th century, the most prominent chess players were:  Alexandre Deschapelles (around 1800–1821), Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1821–1840), and Alexander McDonnell (1798–1835). 

    "Something resembling a world championship match was the La Bourdonnais - McDonnell chess matches in 1834, in which La Bourdonnais played a series of six matches – and 85 games – against the Irishman Alexander McDonnell, with La Bourdonnais winning the majority of the games." - Wikipedia writes.

      As you can see, still nothing official.

  In the 1840s, the strongest player was considered famous Howard Staunton. He played, in Paris, the French master  Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant. Even today, we know and use the "Staunton" chess pieces.

      In the "Deutsche Schachzeitung" in 1848, a proposal was published: a tournament should be played in Trier to determine who is the world's best player. Unfortunately, those plans were not realized.

  And then comes London 1851, the first official international chess tournament! It was a knock-out format or Cup system; Adolf Anderssen (1818-1879) showed his power and won! From that moment, he was considered the best in the world, as Henry Bird wrote in 1893.

Adolf Anderssen 

  But then, something happened. "Pride and sorrow of chess," the famous and fantastic character and master, Paul Morphy of New Orleans (1837-1884), like from some Shakespeare's drama, comes to Europe to conquer the chess world. He was just 21 years old! (We will later see that some champions became world champions in their early 20s, like Kasparov or Carlsen). In the spirit of the old Latin proverb: "Veni, Vidi, Vici," he came and won against all the best chess players of that time and returned to the USA in 1859, only to quit Chess! 

Paul Morphy

  In 1858, Morphy won a match vs. Anderssen 7-2, with 2 draws. Also, he won several other matches with ease. When Morphy retired from Chess after the London tournament in 1862, Anderssen started winning again; he was again the best player around.

  In 1866, Anderssen was defeated by Steinitz 8-6 without draws, and from that moment, Steinitz was considered the best player in the world.

Don't miss this formative, instructional, and most interesting video series by GM Pap Misa!