Baden-Baden 1870 can be regarded as the first super tournament. In comparison with London 1851, London 1862 and Paris 1867, three main changes were made: a) time was restricted with clocks, b) draws counted as half points, and c) only international top players were invited. The similarities with the later events in Tilburg, Linares and Dortmund are striking.

Kolisch was the driving force during the preparation and held the function of secretary in the organising committee. Prince Stourdza was president. Writer Ivan Turgenyev lived part of the year in Baden-Baden and was vice-president. The committee of appeal consisted of Baron Maythény and Kolisch.

Ten first-rate players participated in the double rounded event: Anderssen, Steinitz, Neumann, Blackburne, Paulsen, De Vere, Rosenthal, Winawer, von Minckwitz and Stern. Lange, Zukertort, Jakoby and Meitner did not participate for various reasons. The event lasted from 18 July until 4 August 1870. Each day one game was played. Double rounds of two participants were played consecutively. Twenty moves had to be made per hour. The first time control was after two hours. Play started at 9 AM. If a player did not appear within one-and-a-half hour, the game was forfeited.

pgn-file of Baden-Baden 1870 and 2013       zip-file of CBase-files of Baden-Baden 1870 and 2013

Movement by the Franch army

The start of the tournament coincided with the beginning of an international conflict. After mutual provocations, five states started to mobilise their troops: France on 14 July, Prussia on 15 July, Baden and Bavaria on 16 July and Württemberg on 18 July. France declared war on Prussia on 19 July. The southern German states took the side of Prussia. The war came close to Baden-Baden. A manoeuvre by the Southern wing of the French army took place at the other side of the Rhine.

Von Minckwitz proposed to postpone the Congress for one year, considering the grave circumstances. The Committee showed full confidence in the Prussian army, rejected the suggestion, but shortened the programme. Other visitors to the spa and its casino were less fanatical and left. 

Main buildings in Baden-Baden with

the 'conversation house' as the largest.

At 9 AM on 18 July 1870, the players assembled in the town-hall and the tournament started. Few rich and famous aristocrats were around as spectators. Lunch took place at 1 PM. Thereafter, interrupted games had to be resumed and finished on the same day. Those, who had ended their game, made afternoon excursions. During the evening they listened to the spa band and drank wine in a local cellar. One evening Blackburne, De Vere and Steinitz sang English tunes, strolled outside the city and encountered an alert German patrol. An international incident nearly occurred. More serious was Stern’s mobilisation, as a Bavarian reservist, after four rounds. Like Zukertort, he fought in the war. 

The chess players

Ignatz Kolisch (born in 1837) stands at the right. He watches a game between Levy and white haired Devinck in the Café de la Régence. Kolisch won Paris 1867 and had become an important businessman in 1870. 

Adolf Anderssen (born in 1818) had won London 1851 

and London 1862. His style still was aggressive.



Wilhelm Steinitz (born in 1836) defeated Anderssen

 in London 1866. He applied quiet positional play, 

but also chose hazardous openings.

Gustav Neumann (born in 1838) won Dundee 1867.

 Mental illness would end his chess career.

Joseph Blackburne (born in 1841) 

was the English champion in 1868 and 1869.


Louis Paulsen (born in 1833) ended

first in Bristol 1861 and second in London 1862.

 Consolidation was his main strategy.

Cecil de Vere (born in 1845) became 

the first English champion in 1866. 

He suffered from tuberculosis and alcoholism.

Winawer (born in 1838) was a Polish merchant.

He became second in Paris 1867.


Samuel Rosenthal (born in 1837) moved from Poland 

to the Café de la Régence in Paris.

Johannes von Minckwitz (born in 1843)

edited the ‘Deutsche Schachzeitung’.

Adolf Stern was a young player from Ludwigshafen.

Probably, he wore a pike helmet or 'Pickelhaube'.



               1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9

1 Anderssen   ** 11 00 1½ 11 1½ 10 10 11   11    3000 francs

2 Steinitz    00 ** 11 0½ 11 11 11 ½1 ½0   10½    600 francs

3 Neumann     11 00 ** 1½ 01 01 11 0½ 11   10     200 francs

4 Blackburne  0½ 1½ 0½ ** 10 11 1½ ½½ 11   10     200 francs

5 Paulsen     00 00 10 01 ** 10 1½ 1½ ½1    7½

6 De Vere     0½ 00 10 00 01 ** 01 11 01    6½

7 Winawer     01 00 00 0½ 0½ 10 ** 1½ 11    6½

8 Rosenthal   01 ½0 1½ ½½ 0½ 00 0½ ** 00    5

9 Minckwitz   00 ½1 00 00 ½0 10 00 11 **    5


The games were hard fought in Baden-Baden 1870. Draws were rare. Anderssen led most of the tournament with uncompromising chess. Steinitz had a disastrous start and a great finish. Rosenthal wanted to score at least a draw against the strongest players and called it a duel scar or ‘Schmitzel’. But he forfeited his four games against De Vere and Minckwitz.

The first prize of 3000 francs was made available by the administration of the ‘Conversation house’ or Casino of Baden-Baden. A prize of 600 francs consisted of the registration fees of 50 francs per participant. The Committee added a third prize of 400 francs. Four players received a substantial amount of money.

The tournament was played in great harmony. Three difficulties occurred: A) It was difficult to register on the Schwarzwald clocks, when a player overstepped the time limit. Decades later this was solved by a ‘flag’. The problem could have been ended right away, if the famous cuckoo clocks had been used. B) Sometimes chess positions were repeated endlessly. Restrictions came in later tournaments. C) The start at 9 AM was early for De Vere and Minckwitz.

Long reports about Baden-Baden 1870 were published in the ‘Deutsche Schachzeitung’ (edited by Minckwitz) and ‘Neue Berliner Schachzeitung’ (edited by Anderssen and Zukertort). Gilliam and Swift published an English translation. Fifteen tournament games and one casual encounter were selected by me (Jan van Reek) for new analyses.



The finish of Baden-Baden 1870 marked the end of the beginning of hostilities. The advance of French troop alongside of the Rhine went through Weissemburg. They had to withdraw at Wörth on 6 August 1870. The German army had larger numbers of men at the front and used the superior Krupp canons. The thunder of the artillery could be heard at a distance of 30 km in Baden-Baden. At the end of August, Napoleon III was beaten in the battle of Sedan. He surrendered with his army on 2 September. Stern sent a card from the fields near Sedan on 4 September: "Emperor Napoleon has been mated". Paris surrendered after a siege in January 1871. The German states unified. Germany gained Elsace-Lorraine. France became a republic. The casino of Baden-Baden was closed in 1872. 


Six players carried out double rounds in Baden-Baden from 7 until 17 ii 2013. Grenke sponsored the event. Caruana led by one point on Anand at the end of round 8, but the final standings became: Anand 6½/10, Caruana 6, Adams and Meier 5, Naiditsch 4, Fridman 3½.

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