Dr. J. H. Zukertort, the champion chess player of the
world was seen at the Walker House yesterday and talked quite
freely about his trip, his career and other matters of interest. The
doctor is a man of small stature, possessing a quick, bright eye and
an intelligent countenance.
He is a Russian by birth, but received his early
training in Germany,
where he resided until 1872 when he became a subject of Great
Britain. He speaks with a slight German accent and is one of the most
agreeable and unaffected of men. By profession he is a physician, but
has not practiced for many years. He has been for some years past the
publisher of The Chess Monthly, an English publication issued
Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London. At present he is on a tour
around the world, giving public exhibitions at those places where he
has been specially engaged to do so. He has visited almost all the
cities of the East and has been as far North as Manitoba and as far
South as the Gulf of Mexico. He visited New Orleans on his Southern
trip and had several talks with Paul Morphy, at one time the wonder of
the world at chess. Morphy has been demented for years, and of course
has given up chess altogether not having played for twenty years past.
The Doctor is on his way around the world, remaining here til
Monday next and then going to San Francisco, where he plays several
exhibition games. Thence be gone to Japan and China and finally to
India, expecting to reach London about the first of January, 1885. He
has already received a number of invitations from Maharajas of India,
who act as princes of small principalities. India being the birthplace
chess, the Doctor expects to derive much pleasure from his visit
although the best players there are not natives but Englishmen.
"Where did you find the best players in this country?"
"In New York and Philadelphia. Dr. Mackenzie of New
York is of
course the best player in this country. Martinez of Philadelphia is a
strong player and so is Max Judd of St. Louis. There are also a number
of good players in Chicago. The best chess players I have found so far
in the West are at Leadville. Mr. Jones, a lawyer of that city, being
a very strong player. At Denver there are no good players at all,
their playing not even entitling them to be ranked as amateurs. I have
met but two gentlemen of this city, and I think their playing compares
favorably with the Leadville men, although I don't think either of
them a match for Mr. Jones of that city."
"How long have you been playing chess?"
"I began playing when I was about 19 years of age.
Prior to that I
scarcely knew the moves on the board. I have been almost constantly
before the public since 1873, although I have not played continuously
"Did you have any special mental training that
[prepared] you for the role of chess player?"
When I was quite young, an old bachelor, who was very
mathematics, lived at my parents' homeland he early instructed me in
that science. He began with me when i was but five years of age and
when I was seven years old, although I could neither read nor write, I
could prove clearly that the square of the hypotenuse of a right
triangle was equal to the sum of the square of the other two sides. I
was also well versed in algebra and trigonometry, and also had a
passion for all exact sciences. My memory has also been well
A man must, I believe, to become a first class chess
player be endowed with special faculties. These alone, however, will
him a good player. He must truly study a great deal and must have
opportunities of playing with better players than himself."
"How many games can you play blindfolded?"
"I have played as high as fifteen, and once I played
twelve is about the highest number I usually play. These stories about
men playing eighteen and twenty games are magnified newspaper
accounts. I have played as high as sixty simultaneous games, but not
"I see that Steinitz has been attacking you in the
public press since
your arrival in this country. What does he mean by it?"
Steinitz is a quarrelsome man and has been expelled from all the
clubs he ever belonged to in England. He insulted Max Judd in New
York and has been trying to pick a chess quarrel with me through the
papers. But I never take any notice of such attacks, for I hold that
only place to settle chess matters is over the board."
"What nation takes the lead in chess?"
"England does to-day. It is becoming more and more a
game there, and as usual with Englishmen, whatever they take hold of
they strive to make a success of. Germany does not produce as strong
players as she used to. France has had no great player since 1840.
Russia has a few good players and America has her share."