NAME: Wilhelm Steinitz
BIRTHDATE: May 17, 1836
CREDENTIALS: First official World Champion of chess. Maintained the title from 1886 to 1894. During this time he won a consecutive string of 24 matches. Founder of a rigorous approach to the study of chess.
Took a scientific approach to the game. He formulated his strategies and theories into "chess laws". He also argued that a game could not be lost without the losing player having made a mistake. Seemingly small weaknesses in a player's strategy could develop into game-deciding factors over time.
Learned chess from friends at the age of 12. World Champion from 1886 to 1894. After living in New York for five years, Steinitz became a US citizen on November 23, 1888. After losing the world title, Steinitz developed several mental health problems (including being convinced that he had played and defeated God in a game of chess held over an invisible telephone line) and was placed in various institutions. Expenses were costly for this man who wasn't able to make any great profit from his chess career. Lasker, the man who took the championship from Steinitz, observed his former opponent's hard times and once said I who defeated Steinitz shall do justice to his theories, and I shall avenge the wrongs he suffered. Steinitz died on August 12, 1900. He is buried in Brooklyn.