1st World Champion, 1886 - 1894
Born in Prague Bohemia (now Czech Republic) in 1836. He later went to Vienna to study at the Technische Hochschule, but had to stop because of poverty. He devoted himself totally to chess and became a professional, after which he settled at London (1862).
He denounced himself as the World Champion in 1886 when he had won a match from Zukertort, held in the USA (New York, St. Louis and New Orleans). From that year on he acquired the USA citizenship. In three subsequent matches (Chigorin, Gunsberg and again Chigorin) he held his title. Steinitz had been world's best player for over 20 years and had achieved a better tournament record than anyone else. But at the age of 59 years he was terribly defeated by the young Lasker in 1894, after which his career quickly declined. He died in poverty at the age of 64 years.