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Lionel Kieseritzky

Lionel Kieseritzky
Full name Lionel Adalbert Bagration Felix Kieseritzky
Country Russian Empire
Born 1 January 1806
Tartu, Livonia, Russian Empire
Title Master

Lionel Adalbert Bagration Felix Kieseritzky (1 January 1806 [O.S. 20 December 1805] in Tartu - 18 May [O.S. 6 May] 1853 in Paris) was a Baltic German chess master, famous primarily for a game he lost against Adolf Anderssen, which because of its brilliance was named "The Immortal Game".

Early life

Kieseritzky was born in Dorpat (now Tartu), Livonia, Russian Empire into a Baltic German family. From 1825 to 1829 he studied at the University of Dorpat, and then worked as a mathematics teacher, like Anderssen. From 1838 to 1839, he played a correspondence match against Carl Jaenisch - unfinished, because Kieseritzky had to leave for Paris. In Paris he became a chess professional, giving lessons or playing games for five francs an hour, and editing a chess magazine.

Chess career

Kieseritzky became one of the four leading French masters of the time, alongside Louis de la Bourdonnais, Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant, and Boncourt, and for the few years before his death was among the top two players in the world along with Howard Staunton. His knowledge of the game was significant and he made contributions to chess theory of his own, but his career was somewhat blighted by misfortune and a passion for the unsound. In 1842 he tied a match with Ignazio Calvi (+7 −7 =1). In 1846 he won matches against the German masters Bernhard Horwitz (+7 −4 =1) and Daniel Harrwitz (+11 −5 =2). He enjoyed a number of other magnificent victories across his career, but his nerve was lacking when it came to tournament play.

He was invited to play in the first international chess tournament, the London 1851 tournament, where he scored ½-2½ and was defeated in the first round by the eventual winner Adolf Anderssen. One of the games was finished in a mere 20 minutes after a horrific blunder Staunton described as having been "never equalled even among beginners of the game". The other loss was equally one-sided. During his time in London however, Kieseritzky also played an offhand game against Anderssen which has so thrilled generations of chess players that it has been dubbed "The Immortal Game". Despite losing, it was in fact Kieseritzky who recorded and published the game during his period as editor of La Regence.

Kieseritzky is credited with invention of the first three-dimensional chess, Kubicschach ("Cubic Chess") in 1851, but failed to attract adherents. The 8x8x8 cube format was later picked up by Dr. Ferdinand Maack in 1907 when developing Raumschach ("Space Chess").

Kieseritzky was never a popular man owing to his narcissistic character - considering himself the "Chess Messiah" - and on May 18, 1853, he died unmourned in Paris, France. He was buried in a pauper's grave, its location has been found but not his exact plot, and a memorial has been placed.

Example game

The following game, played in Paris in 1844 against Schulten, represents probably his finest combination and bears a similarity to the famous "Immortal Game" he was to lose seven years later:

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Bc4 Qh4+ 4. Kf1 b5 5. Bxb5 Nf6 6. Nc3 Ng4 7. Nh3 Nc6 8. Nd5 Nd4 9. Nxc7+ Kd8 10. Nxa8 f3! 11. d3 f6 12. Bc4 d5 13. Bxd5 Bd6 14. Qe1? (14.e5! seems to be in White's favor. Instead he is delivered a beautiful forced checkmate.) 14... fxg2+ 15. Kxg2 Qxh3+!! 16. Kxh3 Ne3+ 17. Kh4 Nf3+ 18. Kh5 Bg4# 0-1

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