Wilhelm Steinitz, World Chess Champion Challenges God to Play With Him

Many of you may not know Wilhelm Steinitz, especially if you are not a fan of chess. Wilhelm Steinitz was born on May 17, 1836. He was the first chess player and official world chess champion between 1886 and 1894.


The youngest of the thirteen siblings started learning to play chess at age 12. He came from a Jewish family from Vienna in Austria-Hungary. Later he lived in England and changed his name from Wilhelm to William.

In the final years of his life, he moved with his family to the United States. During his heyday, Steinitz won many chess matches with world-class elite chess players, including Joseph Blackburne (England) and Adolf Anderssen (Germany).

(Wilhelm Steinitz)

His victory over Johannes Zuckertort in 1886 solidified his title as the greatest player in the world. History also sees him as a chess player who has never been beaten by anyone for 30 years.

(Wilhelm against Johannes)

But as he got older, he slowly became a madman until he was admitted to a Mental Hospital in New York. He often felt that he could call someone without using his phone, or play chess without having to touch a wall.

His mental illness became worse when Steinitz announced to the public that he wanted to oppose God for playing chess. Not only that, he also offered God a free step in the competition.


Some authors claim Steinitz has sexually transmitted diseases that may have been the cause of his mental illness in recent years. His chess activities are also said to have no major financial reward to him.


Steinitz died at Manhattan State Hospital (Wards Island) on August 12, 1900, from a heart attack at the age of 64. Steinitz is buried in Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

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