József Szén

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József Szén

József Szén (9 July 1805, Pest, Hungary – 13 January 1857) was a Hungarian chess master.

He obtained a law degree and later became the municipal archivist for the city of Pest. He often played in the café Worm of Pest, playing with any opponent for a stake of 20 Kreuzers. Very strong in the endgame, he was given the nickname of the Hungarian Philidor. In 1836 Szén played a match in Paris with Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais in which La Bourdonnais gave him odds of pawn and two moves. Szén won with 13 wins and 12 losses, and no draws.

In 1839, Szén founded the Budapest Chess Club (Pesti Sakk-kor). In the same year, he lost a match to Karl Mayet (+2 –3 =1) in Berlin. Between 1842 and 1846, he headed a Pest (Budapest) team of correspondence players that beat a Paris team with two wins and no losses. The Hungarian team introduced the Hungarian Defense (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Be7). The suppression of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 brought with it a ban on all club activities, including chess clubs. The ban was in effect until 1864.

In 1836, he drew a match with Boncourt [1]. Szén took fifth place at the world's first international chess tournament, London 1851. In the first round he beat Samuel Newham 2-0, then lost 2-4 to the tournament winner, Adolf Anderssen; in the third round he overcame Bernhard Horwitz 4-0 and in the fourth round Hugh Alexander Kennedy by 4½-½. In 1852, he drew a match with Ernst Falkbeer (+9 –9 =2) in Vienna. In 1853, he lost a match to Daniel Harrwitz (+1 –3 =1) in London.

See also[edit]


  • Adriano Chicco, Giorgio Porreca, Dizionario enciclopedico degli scacchi, Mursia, Milan 1971