Video 1 - 1886. First official match for the world chess crown.
Wilhelm Steinitz Johannes Zukertort
In this video, GM Misa presents the first official match for the chess world title, played between Wilhelm Steinitz (born in 1836 in Prague, died in 1900 in New York) and Johannes Zukertort (born in 1842 in Lublin, German Empire (nowadays Poland), died in London in 1888).
After the Steinitz - Anderssen match in 1866, won by Steinitz 8-6 with no draws, which some see as the unofficial world title match, thus considering Steinitz world champion since 1866, Steinitz also played and won some other matches: in 1872, he won against Zukertort 7-1 with 4 draws, and vs. Blackburne in 1876 Steinitz won 7-0, with no draws! He also won Vienna in 1873. But then, Steinitz took a break from chess, in the years 1874 to 1882.
In these years, Zukertort, an Anderssen's student, emerged as the world-leading chess player by winning Paris 1878 and London 1883 sensationally - he won by 3 points margin ahead of Steinitz. 3rd was Blackburne and 4th Chigorin. The tournament was extremely strong. Between those 2 tournaments, Zukertort managed to win matches vs. Anderssen in 1871 (5-2, 0 draws) and Blackburne in 1881. (6-2, 5 draws). Anderssen was already old, and although he usually won the matches vs. Zukertort, his student became better than the Master.
There is a funny anecdote from the London 1883 final banquet when the tournament director and president of the chess club made a toast to the best chess player in the world; both Steinitz and Zukertort stood at the same time to thank him!
After that tournament, organizing a chess match for the world champion title came in place. Both London, where Zukertort lived, and New York, where Steinitz lived, were considered. Eventually, they settled for New York because of better financial conditions. Morphy died in 1884, so nobody could argue that those were not the two best in the world.
So, the match was ready. It was played in 3 cities, from 11th January until 29th March 1886. In New York, St Loius, and New Orleans. The first to score 10 wins was to be declared the Champion; draws were not counted. The time control was 30 moves for 2 hours and then 15 moves for each hour.
After an initial 4-1 for Zukertort, Steinitz managed to recuperate and level the score to 4-4, with 1 draw, before the final leg in New Orleans. Then, he finally broke his opponent and triumphed with 10-5, with just 5 draws!
After this match, Zukertort was psychologically devastated, and with his fragile health, he died 2 years later. Chess can be cruel.