Talk:Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais

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"De La Bourdonnais was considered to be the unofficial world champion"Edit

This sentence does not work as is. There was no distinction between official and unofficial world champion in his time:

  • There is no evidence that the term "world champion" was used then, and the Earl of Mexborough's 1843 speech on Staunton (quoted at Development of the World Chess Championship) used a tentative phrasing that suggests the Earl was very conscious of using a neologism. In fact I think the Earl's words segue from "champion" as "representative in combat" to "champion" as "world's best" in one sentence.
  • As I've argued before "official" vs "unofficial" is 1980s revisionism. See for example Kennedy's claim for the 1851 London tournament and the contemporary question over whether the Morphy-Harrwitz match should be regarded as for the world championship (both at [[Development of the World Chess Championship]).

I suggest that e.g. 'De La Bourdonnais was regarded as what was later called "world champion"' would be better. -- Philcha (talk) 09:35, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

On this point, we're talking here about one (admittedly famous) series of games, not anything like the present global system. Murray, Hooper & Whyld and Winter are all very clear that Steinitz was the first world champion. For one thing, the whole framework of having a contract, having clear rules, chess clocks etc. is necessary to level the playing field. In any event, the games foremost historical writers have accepted that Steinitz-Zukertort was the first world championship for these kind of reasons. It's not for us to adopt a stance of "we know better" in the teeth of clear statements by historical experts. I would not be happy with anything more than "it was an important match". Remember, La B. was a professional, but his opponent was not even the leading British professional! The match did help chess to develop, and I see it as instrumental in developing opening theory. That is a theme which runs through to the present day. Macdonald-ross (talk) 10:04, 13 January 2021 (UTC)