Louis Eichborn: Better than Adolf Anderssen?

by Johannes Fischer
2/4/2017 – The ChessBase Mega Database 2017 lists 35 casual games Adolf Anderssen (photo) played from 1851 to 1859 against Louis Eichborn. Eichborn won 32 of these games, lost 2 and only one game ended in a draw. Now Anderssen is considered as one of the best if not the best player of that time while Eichborn is relatively unknown. How then to explain his overwhelming plus against Anderssen?

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Louis Eichborn was born on June 30, 1812, in Breslau. His father was a wealthy businessman and when Eichborn's father died Louis Eichborn took over the company. With success: In 1845 Eichborn founded a private bank which was granted the privilege to issue bank notes.

Historical view of Breslau in Silesia (today Wroclaw in Poland).
Wilhelm Kandler - Wolfgang Schwarze: "Romantische Reise
durch den historischen Deutschen Osten".
Gondrom Verlag, Bindlach, 1989. (Source: Wikipedia)

Eichborn was a passionate chessplayer. Although he never took part in  tournaments he played a lot of casual games against strong players. One of his regular opponents was Adolf Anderssen (6th July 1818 to 13th March 1879), who also lived in Breslau.

Adolf Anderssen

Most of these games are not recorded but a few survived because Eichborn kept a notebook in which he entered the games he considered to be noteworthy - mainly his wins. After Eichborn died on May 9, 1882, the notebook with the games was found and Hermann von Gottschall published some of these games in his biography about Anderssen, which appeared in 1912 in Leipzig. One player who was delighted by these games was Bobby Fischer, as John W. Collins, Fischer's first trainer, remembers in his book My Seven Prodigies of Chess:

“I remember I once lent a brand-new copy of Adolf Anderssen, by Dr. Hermann von Gottschall, to him. Some weeks or months later he returned it and I had good reason to believe he had worked over every game and note in it – all 751 games in the main section, plus eighty problems by Anderssen in another section! And later on Bobby and I played over thirty-six games that Anderssen played during 1851 to 1859 in Breslau with Louis Eichborn, a banker and a good friend of chess. Much to our great glee we found that Anderssen lost them all!" (John W. Collins, My Seven Prodigies of Chess, New York 1974, p. 55.)

In a lot of the games Eichborn won against Anderssen he successfully parried the wild sacrificial attacks of his opponent. But as the following nice game shows Eichborn also had a feeling for the attack:


The recorded games between Eichborn and Anderssen are now part of the ChessBase Mega Database 2017. This is due to the work of Gisbert Jacoby who extensively revised, edited, improved and enlarged the historical section of the Mega. More than 10,000 additional games were added, a lot of them commented with historically interesting material.

In the following video Gisbert Jacoby and Karsten Müller present some of the additions and novelties of the Mega 2017:

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Johannes Fischer was born in 1963 in Hamburg and studied English and German literature in Frankfurt. He now lives as a writer and translator in Nürnberg. He is a FIDE-Master and regularly writes for KARL, a German chess magazine focusing on the links between culture and chess. On his own blog he regularly publishes notes on "Film, Literature and Chess".


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