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Staunton, Howard

Howard Staunton, 1810–74, English chess player, writer, and editor, b. Westmoreland. Settling (1836) in London, he edited (1841–54) England's first major chess magazine and wrote (1845–74) a chess column for the Illustrated London News. He also was the author of several chess books, most notably The Chess-Player's Handbook (1847). After winning a series of games (1843) against John Cochrane, Staunton was considered the unofficial world chess champion—the only Englishman to hold the title, which he kept until 1851. That year in London he organized the first international chess tournament, from which he was eliminated by Adolf Anderssen. An outstanding theorist, Staunton was noted for his unusually modern positional play; the English Opening and Staunton Gambit are named for him. A set of chess pieces patented in 1849, endorsed by Staunton, and called the Staunton pattern is still the standard tournament design. His 1858 failure to play against Paul Morphy was a source of considerable controversy at the time. Staunton was also a Shakespeare scholar and published (1857–60) an edition of the bard's plays.

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