Great Players: Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa

Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa

There are two competing claims to the title of Staunton's successor as the best player in the world, and their levels of fame are surprisingly different. The general chess public's knowledge of Adolf Anderssen deservedly ranks him very highly; he won the first international tournament, and two of his games always make the collections of classics.

This article's subject, though, Tassilo von Heydebrand und der Lasa (1818-1899) is a somewhat more obscure figure. Like so many of the great players of the 19th century, his ability to play in tournaments was curtailed by the needs of his career - in this case, in the Prussian diplomatic service - but his results in match play between 1843 and 1853 - which included two match victories over Anderssen and one over Staunton - show that he was capable of holding his own against the best players of his era.

His playing style was very much of its time - a ferocious attacker with a keen tactical eye, he was very capable of demolishing the somewhat primitive defensive techniques of the 1840s and 1850s. It would have been interesting to see how he fared against the somewhat tougher defensive skills of Steinitz, but my database has no record of their ever having played.

 Like Philidor before him, he was also an accomplished writer on the game; his book Handbuch des Schachspiels was by far the best reference book in its day on the subject of opening play.


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