On This Day - The First International Chess Tournament was Held in London in 1851

The tournament was called

The 27th of May back in 1851 saw the first-ever international chess tournament that took place in London. The tournament was called London 1851 and was conceived as well as organized by English player Howard Staunton. It was held parallel to the 1851 Great Exhibition.

The tournament was a massive success. It involved some of Europe's finest chess players such as Adolf Anderssen, Bernhard Horwitz, Lionel Kieseritzky, Howard Staunton, and Samuel Newham among others.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Pardon Chess (@pardon_chess)

Germany's Adolf Anderssen (who was also a math teacher) won the tournament and went on to be termed the best chess player in the world at the time.

About the Tournament

The tournament was designed as a knock-out contest involving sixteen players. It consisted of single-elimination matches, with each of the first-round matches being a best-of-three game. There were subsequent rounds such as the best-of-seven.

Eight losers in the first round (Kieseritzky, Bird, and Löwenthall) were dropped from the tournament. J. R. Mucklow and E. S. Kennedy had a draw against each other.


Anderssen defeated Staunton 4–1 in the semi-final match. In the final match, Anderssen defeated Wyvill to win the championship title.

Some Interesting Facts

In 1848, Ludwig Erdmann Bledow proposed to organize an international chess tournament in Trier, Germany.

The two commentators of the tournament had written in a statement beforehand that the winner would be regarded as "the World's Chess Champion".

Hungarian chess master Vincent Grimm could not attend the tournament as he was exiled to Aleppo.

The knockout format of the tournament received enormous criticism.

Howard Staunton was the secretary of the tournament's Committee of Management. It operated under the leadership of the Duke of Marlborough.

In 1852, Staunton wrote a book on several aspects of the tournament, which he titled 'The Chess Tournament'.

London 1851.