THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL Morphy                                                                                                                                                                                 Löwenthal by Lange


Max Lange




Herr J. Löwenthal, one of the most eminent Chess players, occupies at present a prominent position in .the English Chess world. He was a member of the famous triumvirate in Pesth, which, sixteen years ago, so gloriously conquered the Parisian Chess celebrities, in two games by correspondence. His two partners in the contest, both of great renown, were Szén and Grimm, whose decease we have already to lament. In the year 1849, shortly after the termination of the Hungarian insurrectional war, Löwenthal left his native land and went to America, which country he represented, but not successfully, in 1851, at the great tournament in London. He afterwards resided in the English metropolis, and obtained the appointment of Secretary to the St. George's Chess Club. By editing, at the same time, the Chess articles of The Era, he rendered great services to the theoretical and literary part of the game, and exhibited considerable activity in promoting the interests of Chess. In the year 1857 he obtained the first prize in the tournament at Manchester. With equal success he played at the Birmingham tourney in 1858, where he proved his decided superiority over all his opponents, and amongst others over Staunton.

[When Herr Löwenthal met Mr. Staunton in the second round of the Birmingham tourney, the winning of the first two games out of three decided the struggle. Surely but a doubtful proof of "decided superiority," when we consider the total want of practice on the part of the English player! In the first and third round Herr Löwenthal beat Messrs. Kipping and "Alter"; in the last round he had to contend with the Translator for the first prize, and came off the conqueror in a very long and protracted struggle, having drawn four games and scored three to his opponent's one.—Trans.]

Herr Löwenthal may be, therefore, considered the Chess Champion of England, and his match with Morphy as a proof of the relative strength between England and America. Lately Herr Löwenthal has undertaken the editing of another Chess column in the recently established Illustrated News of the World, a distinct publication from the Illustrated London News, the Chess articles of which are edited by Mr. Staunton. By that newly established paper we are informed that, owing to the high position in which Herr Löwenthal stands, and which has been still farther augmented by his late success in Birmingham, a third Chess club of some pretension (the St. James's) has been established in London, which, under his direction, it is hoped, will soon be in a most prosperous condition.

The general interest which, owing to Herr Löwenthal's high reputation, was taken in his match with Morphy, produced soon, a rise in the stakes, which were at first settled at £50, to be awarded to the winner of the first seven games. It was finally arranged to extend the number of games to be won to nine, and to double the stakes. Thus the increasing interest taken in the match was duly expressed, and the final conditions were as follows:—

1. The winner of the first nine games shall be entitled to the stakes.
2. The first move shall be decided by lot, in the first game, and shall subsequently belong to each player alternately, drawn games notwithstanding.
3. One half of the games shall be played at the St. George's Chess Club, the other half at the London Chess Club.
4. The play shall take place on the following days in each week: Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Mondays and Tuesdays at the London Chess Club, at two P. M. Thursday and Friday at noon, at St. George's Chess Club, unless otherwise agreed.
5. Either party failing to appear within half an hour of the appointed time shall incur a penalty of £1, within an hour, £2; within an hour and a half, £5; the fines in each case being payable to the opposite party.
6. No game shall be protracted beyond one sitting, unless adjourned by mutual consent.
7. After five hours' play, either party shall be at liberty to demand an adjournment for an hour.
8. The games shall be the joint property of the players.

There have been different opinions as to the intrinsic worth of the games. The high genius of a M'Donnell or a Labourdonnais, has, no doubt, been wanting in these encounters, as in many other modern matches. It is, however, not to be denied, that many difficult positions and profound combinations were gone through, and carried out, which prove no mean degree of strength and power. This may be seen in our Notes that accompany the games. We here quote the following passage from the Boston paper, the American Union, but must observe with regard to it, that, in our opinion, it is not the brilliant style alone which constitutes a claim to mastership. " The games in this gallant contest, have not been so interesting as anticipated; they lack that brilliancy so strikingly apparent in the contests between the never to be forgotten M'Donnell and Labourdonnais. If the gambits had been accepted, we should have seen some dazzling Muzio's and Evans's, which would have eclipsed previous battles of a like character."

The American paper, the Winona Republican, comforts Löwenthal in a very humorous way, about the loss of his match, saying that if the worthy old champion Philidor could come out of his grave and look at the performances of a Morphy and a Paulsen, he would be rather astonished, and would console Herr Löwenthal by saying:

" My dear Herr Löwenthal, your play is very good, and worthy of a great master, but as to beating Morphy, don't dream of it, for myself, I verily believe I could not do it."

We may add here, that although fortune did not favour Herr Löwenthal with regard to the practical result, yet the consciousness of his play having in no way given the impression of a decided inferiority of strength to that of his renowned antagonist, must have afforded him far more satisfaction.

A capital and impartial opinion is given in Bell's Life after the first seven games had been played :—

"Curious enough, by far the finest exhibition of real Chess play has been in the Game (No. V.) won by the Hungarian (Löwenthal) ; indeed he appears here to be quite another man, takes up a grand position through Morphy's carelessness, plays a long series of difficult moves without error, and wins the game in a way that would have done credit to M'Donnell. Alas 1 for the other games! Can it be the same Löwenthal ? We confess our belief that such is Chess, and that little can ever be told from the first half dozen games. Herr Löwenthal has, hitherto, underplayed himself, and need not resign the thoughts of ultimate victory from past defeats. Let him think of the English at Inkerman, holding their own even in the gripe of the bear, and ' never despair' be his motto and his sustaining thought. Our good and gentlemanly friend Morphy must not, however, think we mean to liken him personally to a bear, for he is the very pink of courtesy and chivalry, and we know would rather be glad than otherwise, to see his opponent score a game or two, to restore the match to its pristine condition of universal interest and expectation. We despair of seeing an Englishman take up Morphy's challenge. The Chess players have not the leisure; while our ten thousand of the heavy pocket and broad acres, have the leisure, but not the Chess."