Adolf Anderssen

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Adolf Anderssen

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Background

Karl Ernst Adolf Anderssen (July 6, 1818 – March 13, 1879) was a German chess master. He is considered to have been the world's leading chess player in the 1850s and 1860s. He was "dethroned" temporarily in 1858 by Paul Morphy.

After his defeat by Steinitz in 1866, Anderssen became the most successful tournament player in Europe, winning over half the events he entered—including the Baden-Baden 1870 chess tournament, considered comparable in the strength of its contestants to recent "super GM tournaments". He achieved most of these successes when he was over the age of 50.

Anderssen is famous even today for his brilliant sacrificial Attacking play, particularly in the "Immortal Game" (1851) and the "Evergreen Game" (1852). He was a very important figure in the development of chess problems, driving forward the transition from the "Old School" of problem composition to the elegance and complexity of modern compositions.

He was also one of the most likeable of chess masters and became an "elder statesman" of the game, to whom others turned for advice or arbitration.

Playing strength and style

Anderssen was very successful in European tournaments from 1851 to early 1878, taking first prize in over half of the events in which he played. His only recorded tournament failures were a one-game-per-round knock-out event in 1857 and sixth place at Paris 1878 when his health was failing and he had only about a year to live. His match record was much weaker: out of the 12 that he played, he won only two, drew four and lost six.

Arpad Elo, inventor of the Elo rating system, retroactively calculated ratings through history, and estimated that Anderssen was the first player with a rating over 2600. Chessmetrics ranks Anderssen as one of the top five players for most of the period from 1851 to shortly before his death in 1879.

Steinitz, who spoke his mind without fear or favor, rated Anderssen as one of the two greatest Attacking players of his time: "We all may learn from Morphy and Anderssen how to conduct a king’s-side Attack, and perhaps I myself may not have learnt enough."Although Anderssen is regarded as a member of the "heroic" Attacking school, he was not in favor of mindless aggression, for example he said: "Move that one of your pieces, which is in the worst plight, unless you can satisfy yourself that you can derive immediate advantage by an Attack", a principle more recently labelled "Makogonov's rule". Nevertheless his approach to development was haphazard and he totally failed to understand why Morphy won.

Anderssen's home town was so proud of him that in 1865 Breslau University awarded him an honorary doctorate.

 

 

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