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Jan Herman Zukertort (Cukiertort) -  Poland’s Greatest Chess Grandmaster

(Researched and written by Marek Rencki, Director of Polish Heritage Society (UK)

Zukertort-playing-chess( 1 ) Zukertort Chess – Summary :

Win       = 267      (57.42 %)
Draw     = 78        (16.77 %)
Loss       = 120      (25.81 %)
                -------    ---------
Total      = 465     100 %

Peak Average Rating : 1 year peak range :

Name                    Ranking               Average Rating                1 year peak range
Zukertort             No. 22                   2782                                    1884-Jan through 1884-Dec                       

( 2 ) Zukertort 465 Games

As one can see below, almost one third of all his games (32 %) were with the 3 most important players of his generation :
Adolf Anderssen (German), Joseph Henry Blackburne (English) and Wilhelm Steinitz (Czech, 1st World Champion).

Thus Zukertort played 67 official public games with Adolf Anderssen, beating him in 32 games, losing 27 games to Anderssen and drawing 8 games. Zukertort played many hundreds of private games which are not officially listed.

Two thirds of all his official games (306 games or 65.8 % out of 465) were with the leading 19 players, with the results listed below.  Zukerort managed to win 141 games in that top group, losing 90 and drawing 75.   


                                                                                                                        Zukertort Results
Player                                                              Games                                  (Win / Loss / Draw)

( 1 ) Adolf Anderssen                                     67                                         32 Wins / 27 Loss / 8 Draws                        
( 2 ) Joseph H. Blackburne                          42                                         18 Wins / 13 Loss / 11 Draws      
( 3 ) Wilhelm Steinitz                                    40                                         8 Wins / 20 Loss / 12 Draws
                                                                           -------                                 ----------------------------------         
                                                                           149 (32.04 %)                   58 Wins / 60 Loss / 31 Draws

( 4 ) Samuel Rosenthal                                  22                                         10 Wins / No Loss / 12 Draws
( 5 ) Szymon Winawer                                   19                                          9 Wins / 1 Loss / 9 Draws
( 6 ) Viktor Knorre                                          13                                         4 Wins / 9 Loss / No Draws
( 7 ) William Potter                                         12                                         4 Wins / 3 Loss / 5 Draws
( 8 ) Louis Paulsen                                          10                                        4 Wins / 4 Loss / 2 Draws
( 9 ) George Mackenzie                                  10                                        2 Wins / 3 Loss / 5 Draws                                
                                                                            -------                                 -------------------------------              
                                                                             86 (18.49 %)                     33 Wins / 20 Loss / 33 Draws

( 10 ) H. Munk                                                   9                                           9 Wins / No Loss / No Draws
( 11 ) John W. Schulten                                    9                                           9 Wins / No Loss / No Draws
( 12 ) Bertold Englisch                                     9                                            3 Wins / 1 Loss / 5 Draws
( 13 ) Johannes von Minckwitz                      8                                            5 Wins / 2 Loss / 1 Draw
( 14 ) Karl Mayet                                               7                                             7 Wins / No Loss / No Draws
( 15 ) James Mason                                          7                                             5 Wins / No Loss / 2 Draws
( 16 ) Josef Noa                                                 6                                            3 Wins / 2 Loss / 1 Draw
( 17 ) Emil Schallopp                                        6                                            3 Wins / 3 Loss / No Draws
( 18 ) Henry Bird                                               5                                            4 Wins / 1 Loss / No Draws
( 19 ) Mikhail Chigorin                                    5                                             2 Wins / 1 Loss / 2 Draws
                                                                           -------                                    ------------------------------
                                                                            71 (15.27 %)                        50 Wins / 10 Loss / 11 Draws

In addition, Zukertort also played with numerous fewer plays :

1 Player (John Owen)                                                    4 games                               4 Wins / No Loss / No Draw
13 Players                                                                         3 games each                     28 Wins / 11 Loss / No Draws
14 Players                                                                         2 games each                     22 Wins / 6 Loss / No Draws
18 Nesco Nomen (NN / Unknown Players)              1 game each                       18 Wins / No Loss / No Draws
70 Known Single Players                                              1 game each                       54 Wins / 13 Loss / 3 Draws
                                                                                           ------------                            ------------------------------------
                                                                                          159 games (34.19 %)         126 Wins / 30 Loss / 3 Draws      

Source : www.chessgames.com

( 3 ) Zukertort’s Opening

Zukertort is considered today as one of the greatest chess players of all time. He was one of the ablest attacking players of his generation, ranked by Chessmetrics as the No. 1 player for 56 months between 1878 and 1886 (prior to the Elo-rating FIDE system).

Today, the 1.Nf3 opening is known as “Zukertort’s Opening” (which has also been expanded and is also known today as Reti Opening which is 1.Nf3 d5 2.c4) :

Source : en.wikipedia.org
Source : en.wikipedia.org
Source : en.wikibooks.org
(This source also includes numerous references to Chess Opening books, including books by Nunn’s, De Firmian & Korn, Kasparov, etc…)
Source : enchessbase.com

( 4 ) Zukertort Game Openings (majority)

According to Chessgames.com, Zukertort played the following majority of openings (70%, 326 games out of 465) :

White Pieces                                                                     Black Pieces

Evans Gambit                    (40 games)                          Ruy Lopez                           (70 games)
C51 C52                                                                              C67 C65 C77 C80 C83
Ruy Lopez                           (35 games)                          King’s Gambit Accepted (30 games)
C65 C77 C67 C64 C70                                                     C33 C39 C37
Vienna Opening               (27 games)                            Evans Gambit                    (27 games)                                                         
C 25 C28 C29 C26                                                            C52 C51
Queen’s Pawn Game        (20 games)                           Giuoco Piano                     (15 games)
D05 D00 D02 D04 A46                                                  C53 C50               
French Defense                 (20 games)                           Scotch Game                     (14 games)
C01 C11 C14 C00 C15                                                       C45
Sicilian                                 (19 games)                          Four Knights                      (9 games)
B46 B45 B40 B23 B43                                                    C49 C48 C47

Source : chessgames.com

( 5 ) Zukerort Notable Winning Games

1865       Zukertort v Anderssen                  1-0
1865       Zukertort v Anderssen                  1-0
1865       Zukertort v Anderssen                  1-0
1872       Zukertort v Count Epoureano     1-0
1877       Zukertort v NN                                1-0
1883       Zukertort v Blackburne                 1-0
1883       Chigorin v Zukertort                      0-1
1883       Steinitz v Zukertort                        0-1
1883       Zukertort v Englisch                      1-0
1883       Zukertort v Steinitz                        1-0         

Source : chessgames.com

( 6 ) Zukertort Tournaments Summary

1870  : 1st in Baden Baden (ahead of Wilhelm Steinitz)
1872  : 3rd in London (behind Steinitz and Joseph Henry Blackburne)
1876  : 2nd in London (behind Blackburne)
1877  : 2nd in Leipzig (behind Louis Paulsen)
1877  : 1st in Cologne
1878  : 1st in Paris (jointly with Simon Winawer)
1881  : 2nd in Berlin (behind Blackburne)
1882  : 4th in Vienna (behind Steinitz, Winawer and James Mason)
1883  : 1st in London (3 points ahead of Steinitz and 5 ½ points ahead of Blackburne)
1886  : 2nd in The World Championship (behind Steinitz)

Following Zukertort’s loss in the World Championship, his health declined rapidly and his  tournament results consequently also declined steeply :   

1886   : 3rd in Nottingham, 7th in London
1887   : 4th in London, 15th in Frankfurt
1888   : 7th in London

Zukertort Match Data and Tournament Data :

Source : edochess.ca
Source : www.askbiography.com

( 7 ) Zukertort Blindfold Chess

Zukertort became the World’s greatest Blindfold Chess player in 1876 when he exceeded Louis Paulsen’s best total of 15 (1859) by achieving 16 Blindfold games.

He started originally playing Blindfold games in 1868 (7 games, followed by 9 games, 12 games – Glasgow & Dublin - and eventually 16 games). He created the highest series of Blindfold games by achieving 16 games at St. George’s Chess Club, between 16-21 December 1876 which was not overtaken until 1900 by Harry Nelson Pillsbury who achieved 16, 17 and 20 in that year.

(Interestingly, the record today is 46, achieved by Marc Lang on 26 November 2011 when he exceeded the Polish Chess Grandmaster Mieczyslaw Najdorf’s 45, obtained originally in 1947).  

Source : www.blindfoldchess.net

( 8 ) Zukertort’s 2 Most famous Tournaments

( A ) London Championship : 26 April – 21 June 1883, Victoria Hall, London)

First important gathering since 1862 and attracted every major chess master from Europe and America.
Zukertort created a record by winning 22/26, a performance combining brilliance, energy and accuracy, unequalled by any great master hitherto. This tournament clearly established that Zukertort and Steinitz were the best two players in the world.

  • Steinitz quoted that Zukertort’s defeat of Blackburne was “…one of the most notable combinations conceived over the chess board…one of the most brilliant games on record” :
  • Source : en.wikisource.org

 


( B ) First (official) World Championship : 11 January – 29 March 1886 in USA

Played with Wilhelm Steinitz (Czech Austrian, originally living in London but had emigrated to USA in 1885, founding The International Chess Magazine). Zukertort commenced brilliantly, having won 4-1 in the New York. Steinitz started to play seriously in Saint Louis and by New Orleans he eventually won the First World Championship :

  • Series 1 : New York (Cartier Academy, No. 80, 5th Avenue), 11 – 20 January 1886 : Zukertort won 4–1
  • Series 2 : St. Louis, Missouri (Harmonie Club, Olive Street), 03 – 10 February 1886 : Steinitz won 4–1
  • Series 3 : New Orleans, Louisiana (Chess Club, Baronne & Canal Streets), 26 February – 29 March 1886 : Steinitz won 5-0

1st World Championship Result : Steinitz 10, Zukertort 5, Draws 5 (12 ½ - 7 ½ )


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 the only place to settle chess matters is over the board.

Zukertort’s quotation concerning Steinitz – Interview with President Taylor, Salt Lake Tribune, 28 June 1884 :

( 9 ) Zukertort Performance

Quotations concerning Zukertort’s win over Count de Kostaki Epoureano (Berlin, May 1872) :

 “ This is the finest odds-game ever played

  • Source : Francis J. Welmuth, The Golden Treasury of Chess, page 5 – New York 1943

Perhaps the most extraordinary finish in the history of the game

  • Source : Fred Reinfeld, British Masters Past and Present, page 18 - London 1947

 To Zukertort goes the Honor of producing the finest finish in this type of context

  • Source : Irving Chernev and Fred Reinfeld, The Fireside Book of Chess, page 218 – London, December 2012

Source : www.chesshistory.com

 


Jan Herman Zukertort (Cukiertort)– Poland’s greatest Chess Grandmaster (GM)

(Researched and written by Marek Rencki, Director of Polish Heritage Society (UK)
 

johannes-zukertort( 10 ) Zukertort Background

Jan Herman Cukiertort was born on 07 September 1842 in Lublin, which was then the Congress of Poland, an occupied country by Tsarist Russia which carried out yet another aggressive and illegal invasion of Poland - Third Partition of Poland (1795). Zukertort attended the Piotrkow School in Lublin until he was 13.

Interestingly, Zukertort’s younger brother, Adolf Christian (1850 – 1895, who also died at the early age of 45) had 2 sons / nephews of Zukertort (Karl and Arty Johannes), both of whom joined the German Army and both rose to being Generals in WW2. Their own 2 sons (grandsons of Adolf and grandnephews of Zukertort) are apparently still alive, living in Germany (September 2014).

Zukertort’s both parents were Polish, Mother being Baroness Krzyzanowska and his Father (Yenkel Ezekiel Cukiertort, 1801 - 1887) being a Christian (Lutheran) missionary who worked converting the local Jewish peasantry into Christianity.

This Polish Christian mission was not approved by the Russian Tsarist occupying administration (due to the fact that Tsarist regime wanted Jews to learn to speak Russian – rather than Polish - and to be converted into Orthodox Christianity, rather than into Roman Catholicism or Lutheran), and therefore the  Zukertort family was expelled in 1855 out of Poland by the occupying Tsarist regime and ended going to Breslau in Prussia (now Wroclaw).

Following the emigration, his parents Germanised their surname from Cukiertort to Zukertort  (a literal translation would be “Sugar Cake” or “Sugar Tart”). Jan Herman Cukiertort therefore became Johannes Hermann Zukertort when he was 13 in 1855.

Zukertort attended a local grammar school in Breslau (Mary Magdalen Gymnasium) and subsequently went to Breslau University in 1861 to study Medicine. Zukertort was very Polish and became a Member of the Literary Society of Slavic (which was a club for Polish students at Breslau University, who all escaped from Russian-occupied Poland). Though he claimed to have graduated in 1865 (1866), there is absolutely no proof that he received a medical degree.

His major personal disaster was the death of his fiancée during the 1863 Polish Uprising against the Russian Tsarist illegal occupation of Poland and he subsequently did not actively pursue medicine.

Zukertort did, however, learn to play chess at 19 when he was an undergraduate. He apparently entered a tournament in Breslau that same year and managed to lose every game whereupon he took up the study of Bilguer’s Handbuch. Within 12 months in 1862 (when he was 20 years old), he won a game playing against Adolf Anderssen, a leading German chess player (winner of the London Tournament in 1851) with whom he became a close personal friend and who introduced Zukertort to the world of prestigious chess tournaments.

( 11 ) Zukertort Nationality

For some very strange reasons, Zukertort has been identified  as a German Chess player (he obtained German citizenship in 1866), as a British Chess player (he obtained British citizenship in 1878) and, very strangely, also as a Jewish Chess player (Jewish Encyclopedia).

Bizarrely, Wikipedia also keeps mentioning - irrelevantly - that his Father was of Jewish origin. In reality, Zukertort’s parents were both Polish, that he was born and was educated in Poland until he emigrated at the age of 13. Moreover, Zukertort was born a Polish Lutheran Christian, attended Polish Lutheran Christian Church and eventually was buried as a Polish Lutheran Christian (Brompton Cemetery, details below).

Since the recent grave restoration in 2012 (the rededication of Zukertort’s grave was conducted by Rev. Walter Jagucki, Bishop Emeritus of the Lutheran Church in Great Britain in conjunction with Fr. Wladyslaw Wyszowacki, Polish Roman Catholic priest), Zukertort is finally now being identified as a Polish Chess Player.

Definitively not a German, British, or Jewish chess player.

( 12 ) Zukertort Forced Emigration

All the websites have stated exactly the same wording : “ Zukertort’s father was a Christian Protestant Missionary of Jewish origin at a time when the Christian mission among the Jews in Russian-occupied Poland was illegal. Consequently, the Zukertorts emigrated to Prussia. “ This is not quite true.

The reality was that the Polish Christian Missionary was converting Polish Jews into Polish Christians – and therefore all the classes & conversations were in Polish. The Tsarist occupying regime had closed most Polish schools and banned the Polish language in administrative service which was officially replaced by Russian language.

(The Tsarists also closed down both the Universities of Warsaw and Vilnius (Wilno) in 1863, stealing their entire Polish libraries and creating St. Petersburg’s Imperial Public Library – now The National Library of Russia - with all the stolen 420,000 Polish books. Warsaw University Library was the 4th largest library in Europe at the time).

Which is why Zukertort’s Parents were forced (expelled) to leave Poland as they were not allowed to officially practice Polish language in their own country – which was invaded and occupied illegally by Tsarist Russia (as well as illegally by Prussia and Austria).

The hypocrisy was, that converting Jews to Christianity, was not actually illegal – it was practised heavily in the rest of Tsarist Russia so that Jewish peasants were forced to speak exclusively Russian and many were converted to Orthodox Christianity rather than to Roman Catholic or Lutheran Christianity.  

( 13 ) Zukertort move to Berlin and to London

He moved to Berlin in 1867 when he was 25 where he became Co-Editor of Neue Berlin Schachzeitung with Adolf Anderssen, and started living wholly for chess, writing, teaching and playing. By 1871, he managed to thoroughly beat Adolf Anderssen (5-2, no draws).

  • In 1872, he emigrated to the UK, being invited to join the St. George’s Chess Club in London.
  • He eventually also became the Editor of The Chess Monthly.
  • He participated in the First Oxbridge Varsity Match (Oxford University v Cambridge University, 1873) in which he demonstrated Blindfold Chess of 6 games (Steinitz was one of the umpires).
  • He took British Citizenship in 1878.
  • He lived for many years at 187 Walworth Road, London SE17 7RW (A215) – near Elephant & Castle (his original property no longer exists and is now Bantwa Newspaper Agency).
  • The following year (31 January 1879), he started playing with & teaching Lord Randolph Churchill (father of Winston Churchill).

 

( 14 ) Zukertort Chess Club

Interestingly, there is a chess club in Netherland named after him : Zukertort Amstelveen Chess Club (established in 18 December 1884) which stated that he was a Polish Chess player.

Zukertort Amstelveen is playing chess on Friday evenings at :

European Go Cultural Centre (EGCC)
Schokland 14
1181 HV Amstelveen
Netherlands


Tel : (0031) 20 – 671 – 6179 (Secretary, Office hours)
(nearest station : Metro Kronenburg, off Rembandtweg)

Source : www.zukertortamstelveen.nl

There was, apparently, a London-based chess club named Zukertort immediately after his death, but it obviously ceased to exist and cannot be traced historically.

( 15 ) Zukertort Books

There are many chess websites all over the world, the main ones being obviously in English. Among the numerous chess writers (and players), we would strongly recommend Stuart Conquest, David Rudel, Tim Harding and Bill Wall. In addition, there are arguably some of the finest and most important books very recently written on Zukertort :

The best and one of the most detailed books on Zukertort was published in 2002 :

Grandmaster of Lublin : Truth and legend about Johannes Hermann Zukertort / Arcymistrz z Lublina

  • Written in Polish by Tomasz Lissowski (Chairman of the Polish Chess Federation) & Cezary Domanski (Fellow, University of Marie Curie-Skladowska, Lublin)
  • Published in 2002 by Wydawnistwo Szachowe Penelopa (Warsaw ISBN 83-86407-5-6)
  • Subsequently issued in German (2005, Der Grossmeister aus Lublin, Exzelsior Publishing, ISBN 3  935800-03-07).

Johannes Zukertort : Artist of the Chessboard by Jimmy Adams (New in Chess, 2014, ISBN-10 : 9056914960)

Source : File:///C/Cafe/Reviews/books.htm
Source : www.vistula.linuxpl.en

  • Zuke’m – The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized: A chess opening for everyone by David Rudel (Thinker Press, 2008, ISBN 1-888710-39-X)
  • The Moment of  Zuke – Critical Positions and Pivotal Decisions by David Rudel (Thinker Press, 2009, ISBN-10 : 1887 10380)
  • The Zukertort System : A Guide for White and Black by Grigory Bogdanovich (Mongoose Press, 2010, ISBN-10 : 19362 77050)
  • D-pawn Attacks : The Colle-Zukertort, Barry & 150 Attacks by Richard Palliser (Everyman Chess, 2008, ISBN-10 : 18574 45783)
  • Eminent Victorian Chess Players by Tim Harding (McFarland, 2012, ISBN-10 : 08764 65689)
  • Johannes Zukertort Artist of the Chessboard by Jimmy Adams (New in Chess, 2014, ISBN-10 : 9056914960)


The oldest known book on Zukertort was written by his original tutor and close friend, Adolf Anderssen :

  •  “ Blindings-Schach-Spiel “ (in German, pub. E. Schweiggersche Hof-Buchandlung, Berlin, 1872)

In addition, there are at 2 other known books written on the 19th century which partly cover Zukertort :

  • Chess History and Reminiscenes by Henry Bird (1893)
  • Mr. Blackburne’s Game of Chess by Heny Blackburne and J. Graham (1899)

Another early book on Zukertort was “ J.H. Zukertort : 201 Partier ” by Anton Olson (in German, Pub. F.Englund, Stockholm, 1912)

( 16 ) Zukertort Personal Publications

  • Author : “Leidfaden des Schachspiels” (Berlin, 1869)
  • Author : “Sammlung der Auserlesensten Schachaufgaben, Studien und Partiestellungen” Berlin, 1869)
  • Contributor : “Westminster Papers” (St. George’s Chess Club, London 1873 – 1876)
  • Editor : “Neue Berliner Schachzeitung” (Berlin, 1867 – 1871)
  • Co-Editor : “Grosses Schach-Handbuch” (collaborated with Jean Dufresne, 2nd Edition, Berlin 1873)
  • Founder & Editor : “The Chess Monthly” (collaborated with Leopold Hoffer, London 1879)

( 17 ) Zukertort Interviews

There are fascinating articles concerning interviews with Zukertort when he was touring the USA in 1883 and 1884 including his visit to Canada :

New York Herald article on 02 December 1883 following his tour of NY (“What The Memory Can Do”)

Canadian Illustrate News on 28 December 1983 :

Toronto Mail on 23 January 1884, Globe on 30 January 1884 and Ottawa Citizen on 01 February 1884 :

Salt Lake City Tribune on 28 June 1884 following his games at the Alta Club in Utah :

Chess Monthly & British Chess Magazine on October 1884 concerning his games at the Mechanic’s Institute in San Francisco, California :


( 18 ) Zukertort’s Death

Zukertort died on 20 June 1888, being very young at the age of 45. Though engaged whilst an undergraduate, he subsequently never married (but, apparently, had 2 daughters – Iseln and Maud – who stayed and lived permanently in Berlin with Zukertort’s mother, Baroness Krzyzanowska. He never discussed having children or relationships). Following his failure to win the World Championship in 1886, his health declined due to rheumatism, coronary heart disease, kidney problems and arteriosclerosis.

He was playing at a tournament in Divan’s Bar (101 The Strand, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, London W1 – it was his 10th tournament at Simpson’s but he also played often privately at the Divan Bar) – and collapsed, being taken to Charing Cross Hospital, but never recovered.

His death was finally due to cerebral haemorrhage.

Notice of Zukertort’s death in Chess Monthly (July 1888) :

ZUKERTORT
As evening fell before the board he sat,
And moved the pieces with his wonted skill ;
And none, who looked upon his thoughtful brow,
Divined the destiny he must fulfil.
The morning dawned ; upon his narrow bed
Dying he lay, unconscious to the end ;
So great an intellect, so sad a fate,
Must to his name a hallowed lustre lend. B-C



Source : streathambrixtonchess.blogspot.co.uk
(NB : Zukertort co-edited Chess Monthly with Leopold Hoffer)

( 19 ) Zukertort’s Grave

He was buried in Brompton Cemetery (Earl’s Court, London SW5 – behind Chelsea Football Stadium). With the passing of time, his grave had sunken very low and was covered by grass.

The grave was rediscovered in 1927 by John Keeble (Chess historian) who said that the grave had already sunk into the ground and required restoration. In 1951, the grave was visited by Harold Commer (Chess player) who personally spent 2 days clearing the grave, followed by time spent by the grave, composing chess problems.

It was rediscovered again by GM Stuart Conquest in 2011 and, in collaboration with Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki MBE (Chairman of the Polish Heritage Society UK) they raised subsequent finance (50% from the Polish Embassy, 50% from Stuart Conquest) and had the grave fully restored in June 2012.

In addition, they added a headstone designed by Marek Stella-Sawicki and Marek Rencki (fellow Director of Polish Heritage Society UK) with detailed descriptions of Zukertort in Polish and in English:

Zukertort grave

Polish Chess Grandmaster
Johannes Hermann Zukertort
7.09.1842 Lublin, Poland
+ 20.06.1888 London

One of the World’s Notable Chess Players
World Championship Contender 1886
The Greatest Polish Grandmaster
Of the XIX Century

Always in our Memory
Dedicated by the Polish Heritage Society (UK)

There is also the Polish version of this below on the headstone. This wording has been criticised as being too long by some British Chess masters who visited the restored grave. From the English point of view, they are probably correct – however, traditional Polish graves tend to be dedicated in detail – this English version is an exact translation of the Polish wording.

(20) Zukertort – Polish Heritage Society UK ( PHS )

Apart from working closely with GM Stuart Conquest on the restoration of Zukertort’s grave, PHS also unveiled a plaque in memory of Zukertort at the Divan Bar, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, London on 23 August 2012 where Zukertort played regularly (officially as well as in private) and where he tragically died in 1888.

This was also done in close co-operation with The Polish Cultural Institute, the English Chess Federation and The Polish Chess Association.

Presented by the Polish Heritage Society to
Simpson’s Divan bar in commemoration of
the greatest Polish Chess Grandmaster
Jan Herman Zukertort, a regular at Divan bar


He won the prestigious 1883
London Chess Tournament winning a record 22 out of 26 games,
beating most of the world’s leading grandmasters including
Steinitz, Blackburne and Chigorin

Zukertort Plaque

Source : www.polishheritage.co.uk
(This Plaque was designed and personally funded by Marek Rencki, Director of the Polish Heritage Society)

( 21 ) Zukertort Summary

Much has been written about Zukertort. One of the most interesting summaries of Zukertort is by Thomas Seccombe (Dictionary of National Biography 1885 – 1900, Volume 63) :

Zukertort was a clever conversationist and linguist (speaking English like a native), with a marvellous memory, and a large store of general information. His memory, it was said, only failed him when he had to answer a letter or keep an appointment. At the chess board one could not gather from his countenance whether he was winning or losing, for he presented in either case the picture of abject misery.

As a blindfold player, he was not surpassed even by Blackburne, and as an analyst he probably had no equal.

His annotations upon the Morphy-Anderssen match in the pages of the Chess Monthly were a revelation, entirely superseding the previous analysis by Lowenthal. His knowledge of the openings was exhaustive. And his analysis of the Evans, Muzio and Allgaier gambits completely altered long-established opinions as to their value. Very few English players have equalled Zukertort in devotion and service to the game of which he was such a brilliant exponent.

Altogether he was a chess genius of the highest order ”.