London 1883 chess tournament

The London 1883 chess tournament was a strong chess tournament among most of the leading players of the day. It was won convincingly by Johannes Zukertort (22 points out of 26) ahead of Wilhelm Steinitz (with 19 points). Remarkably, Zukertort was already assured of victory with three rounds to go, having scored an astonishing 22/23. He then lost his last three games against relatively weak players, probably due to exhaustion. The tournament established Zukertort as rivalling Steinitz to claim to be the best player in the world,[1] and led to the World Chess Championship 1886 match between the two (the first official World Chess Championship match). The event was a double round-robin tournament. Marmaduke Wyvill contributed to organizing the tournament.

Johannes Zukertort, winner of the tournament
The London 1883 chess tournament, The Illustrated London News, 5 May 1883

The tournament was also notable for the first use of the double-sided chess clock, invented and manufactured by Thomas Bright Wilson of Manchester Chess Club.

A common story relates to an incident that occurred at the tournament banquet, when the St. George Chess Club President proposed a toast to the best chess player in the world and both Steinitz and Zukertort stood up at the same time to thank him. Research by Edward Winter suggests that this story has been embellished.[2] A game between Mason and Winawer was played, adjourned and resumed, but upon resumption the black knight on e7 was mistakenly placed on d7. Neither player noticed at the time and Winawer played the illegal, but powerful, Nc5! setting up a Ne4+ and eventually winning the match, with the mistake not being spotted until after the game concluded. It was not until days later that the mistake was noticed.

The tournament book was dedicated to Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, for his patronage of the tournament.[3]


The results and standings:[4]

# Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Total
1   Johannes Zukertort (United Kingdom) Does not appear 01 d11 1d1 1d0 dd11 11 11 d1d1 11 11 10 10 1+ 22
2   Wilhelm Steinitz (Austria-Hungary) 10 Does not appear 01 00 11 0dd1 1d1 d0d0 11 11 1d1 11 1d1 1+ 19
3   Joseph Henry Blackburne (United Kingdom) d00 10 Does not appear 01 d00 1d0 1d1 d1d- dd½dd1 0d1 1d1 d11 11 11 16½
4   Mikhail Chigorin (Russian Empire) 0d0 11 10 Does not appear 11 0d1 d01 0dd1 10 10 d10 1d1 10 1+ 16
5   George Henry Mackenzie (United States) 0d1 00 d11 00 Does not appear dd½dd½ 0d1 d0d1 01 0d1 1d1 dd½d1 d11 1+ 15½
6   Berthold Englisch (Austria-Hungary) dd00 1dd0 0dd1 1d0 dd½dd½ Does not appear dd00 dd½dd1 01 d01 11 d11 11 1+ 15½
7   James Mason (United Kingdom) 00 0d0 0d0 d10 1d0 dd11 Does not appear d10 d10 11 dd½1 1dd1 d11 1+ 15½
8   Samuel Rosenthal (France) 00 d1d1 d0d- 1dd0 d1d0 dd½dd0 d01 Does not appear dd½dd1 d10 01 d01 11 d1+ 14
9   Szymon Winawer (Russian Empire) d0d0 00 dd½dd0 01 10 10 d01 dd½dd0 Does not appear d01 dd10 1d1 11 1+ 13
10   Henry Edward Bird (United Kingdom) 00 00 1d0 01 1d0 d10 00 d01 d10 Does not appear 00 11 d11 d1+ 12
11   Josef Noa (Austria-Hungary) 00 0d0 0d0 d01 0d0 00 dd½0 10 dd01 11 Does not appear 01 11 0+
12   Alexander Sellman (United States) 01 00 d00 0d0 dd½d0 d00 0dd0 d10 0d0 00 10 Does not appear 11 0+
13   James Mortimer (United Kingdom) 01 0d0 00 01 d00 00 d00 00 00 d00 00 00 Does not appear 01 3
14   Arthur Skipworth (United Kingdom) 0- 0- 00 0- 0- 0- 0- d0- 0- d0- 1- 1- 10 Does not appear 3

In this tournament a game ending in a draw was replayed at least twice. The third game after two draws would count, whatever the result. In the table, "+" indicates win by default, "-" indicates loss by default or unplayed game, "d" inicates a drawn game that was replayed and not counted towards the final score.

Skipworth withdrew from the tournament two games after the half way point; the remainder of his games were scored as losses. The final game between Rosenthal and Blackburne was not replayed as by that point it was clear that it would have had no impact on the final result of the tournament.


  1. ^ Edward Winter (chess historian). "Early Uses of 'World Chess Champion'".
  2. ^ Chess Notes 4360, by Edward Winter, 13 May 2006
  3. ^ Winter, Edward (4 December 2005), "4044. Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany", Chess Notes, retrieved 13 August 2012 {{citation}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  4. ^ C.E. Ranken (editor), The International Tournament of 1883, Chess Player's Chronicle, 27 June 1883, p. 26

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