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Alexander McDonnell vs Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais
"Labourdonnais Picnic" (chessgames.com game of the day Sep-03-12)
London m4 ;HCL 18 1834 · Sicilian Defense: Old Sicilian. Open (B32)
Who is McDonnell ?
Alexander McDonnell (1798–1835) was an Irish chess master, who contested a series of six matches with the world's leading player Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais in the summer of 1834.
The son of a surgeon, Alexander McDonnell was born in Belfast in 1798. He was trained as a merchant and worked for some time in the West Indies. In 1820 he settled in London, where he became the secretary of the Committee of West Indian Merchants in which role he advocated strongly for the continuation of slavery. It was a lucrative post that made him a wealthy man and left him with plenty of time to indulge his passion for chess. In his politics McDonnell was a committed Whig.
This section uses algebraic notation to describe chess moves.
In 1825 he became a pupil of William Lewis, who was then the leading player in Britain. But soon McDonnell had become so good that Lewis, fearing for his reputation, simply refused to play him anymore.
Around 1825–1826, McDonnell played Captain Evans, while the latter was on shore leave in London. McDonnell was beaten with what is now regarded in chess circles as the creation of the Evans Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4).
Who is La Bourdonnais ?
Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1795–December 1840) was a French chess master, possibly the strongest player in the early 19th century.
La Bourdonnais was born on the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean in 1795. He was the grandson of Bertrand-François Mahé de La Bourdonnais. He learned chess in 1814 and began to take the game seriously in 1818, regularly playing at the Café de la Régence. He took lessons from Jacques François Mouret, his first teacher, and within two years he became one of the best players of the Café.
La Bourdonnais was forced to earn his living as a professional chess player after squandering his fortune on ill-advised land deals.
Unofficial World Chess Champion
Main article: La Bourdonnais - McDonnell chess matches
La Bourdonnais was considered to be the unofficial World Chess Champion (there was no official title at the time) from 1821—when he became able to beat his chess teacher Alexandre Deschapelles—until his death in 1840. The most famous match series, indeed considered as the world championship, was the series against Alexander McDonnell in 1834.
He died penniless in London in December 1840, having been forced to sell all of his possessions, including his clothes, to satisfy his creditors. George Walker arranged to have him buried just a stone's throw away from his old rival Alexander McDonnell in London's Kensal Green Cemetery.
La Bourdonnais – McDonnell chess matches
The La Bourdonnais – McDonnell chess matches were a series of chess matches in 1834 between Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais of France and Alexander McDonnell of Ireland. These matches confirmed La Bourdonnais as the leading chess player in the world. They are sometimes seen as having been unofficial World Chess Championship matches, before the title of World Chess Champion existed.
It was the first match of importance in the history of chess and is sometimes referred to today as the World Championship of 1834. The games were published widely, and were annotated and discussed by enthusiasts all over Europe. In the course of the mammoth encounter, both players introduced several innovations, a few of which are still seen today. It might even be said that the modern era of chess began with the McDonnell-La Bourdonnais match of 1834.
La Bourdonnais won the first, third, fourth and fifth matches; McDonnell won the second match, and the sixth was abandoned with McDonnell leading. The overall score was 45 wins to La Bourdonnais, 27 wins to McDonnell, and 13 draws.
De La Bourdonnais was considered the world's leading player from 1821, when he surpassed his mentor Alexandre Deschapelles. In 1823 La Bourdonnais defeated William Lewis, Britain's leading player, in a match in London, and in the spring of 1825 he played and defeated the best players that England had to offer. Nine years later he returned to London when a challenge was issued on McDonnell's behalf.
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