Loewenthal, Johann Jacob (DNB00)

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LOEWENTHAL or LÖWENTHAL, JOHANN JACOB (1810–1876), chessplayer, son of an Hungarian merchant, was born at Buda-Pesth in July 1810. He was educated at the gymnasium of his native town, and received his first chess lessons from Szen, the noted Hungarian player, then a clerk in the archives at Pesth. Though a non-combatant in the revolutions of 1849, Loewenthal was an ardent follower of Kossuth, and held a civil appointment under his administration; he was in consequence expelled from Austro-Hungary after the patriot's downfall in 1849, and sought refuge in the United States of America, where he contributed an interesting account of his sojourn to a volume entitled 'The Book of the First American Congress.' In 1851 Loewenthal visited England, in order to take part in a chess tournament, and from that date he permanently resided in London, 'taking an active part in every organised movement for the advancement of chess.' He became chess editor of the 'Illustrated News of the World' and of the 'Era,' taking a prominent part in the chess problem tourney set afoot by the last-mentioned paper, of which he issued an account, both in English and in German, London and Leipzig, 1857. He welcomed Morphy to London in 1858, accepted with a good grace a crushing defeat in a match to which he had promptly challenged him, and published in 1860 'Morphy's Games of Chess, with Analytical and Critical Notes,' forming an interesting and instructive account of the brilliant American's meteoric European campaign. He was appointed manager and foreign correspondent of the great London chess congress of 1862, in which the first prize was taken by Anderssen, Loewenthal tying with Mr. Blackburne for the eighth place. He wrote a full account of the congress for the Bohn Series, German edit., Berlin, 1864 ; new edit., Bohn, 1889. He edited the 'Chess Player's Magazine' from its commencement in 1863 until its cessation in 1867, and was, from 1865 to 1869, manager of the British Chess Association, of which Lord Lyttelton was president. He was also for some years subsequent to 1852 secretary to the St. George's Chess Club, and from 1857 to 1864 president of the St. James's Chess Club. Loewenthal, who became a naturalised Englishman, had a highly polished manner and mixed freely in good society. He was a friend and frequent opponent at chess of W. G. Ward [q. v.], under whose influence he joined the Roman catholic church. He died, unmarried, at St. Leonards on 20 July 1876.

Loewenthal was an assiduous student of chess; his knowledge was great, his analytical power remarkable, and his notes on the games of Morphy and others admirable. As a player he takes a high place in the second rank of masters. Like Bernard Horwitz[q.v.], a player of about equal power, he was subject to constitutional nervousness when engaged in matches, and his play consequently suffered. A large number of Loewenthal's games are included in the 'Chess Player's Magazine,' the 'Chess Player's Chronicle,' Walker's 'Thousand Games,' and other collections.

[Cooper's Biog. Dict. Suppl. p. 122; Illustr. Lond. News, 29 July 1876; Times, 21 July 1876; Loewenthal's Works in Brit. Mus. Libr.; private information.]

T. S.