Chess has sometimes been termed “the Jewish National Game” due to the extraordinary number of great Jewish grandmasters. One such was Wilhelm Steinitz, who ranked as first undisputed world chess champion and who is the subject of “The Steinitz Papers: Letters and Documents of the First World Chess Champion” newly available from McFarland & Co. Publishers.
Born in Prague in 1836, Steinitz was champion from 1886 until he lost that title to Emanuel Lasker, another great Jewish player, in 1894. Steinitz attributed the mastery of Jews at chess to:
patience, pure breeding, and good nature. Having been the most persecuted race in the world, [Jews] have had the least power to do harm, and have become the best natured of all peoples.