La Bourdonnais, Louis-Charles Mahe de

BORN 10 Apr 1797, La Réunion (then: Ile de Bourbon) - DIED 13 Dec 1840, London
GRAVE LOCATION London: Kensal Green Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green

Louis-Charles Mahe de la Bourdonnais was born into a noble family on Reunion Island, then called Bourbon Island, in the Indian Ocean. He was sent to Paris where he attended the Henry IV College and learnt to play chess in 1814. From 1818 onwards he played seven days a week at the Café de la Regence, where he had his own table. In 1821 he defeated Alexandre Deschapelles and John Cochrane and in 1823 he defeated Lewis in London.

In 1825 he visited England again and there he married Eliza Waller Gordon. In 1831 he lost the money that he had inherited from his fasther in a land speculation in Saint-Malo. From then chess was his only source of income. In 1833 he published "Nouveau Traite du Jeux des Echecs" and in 1834 he played a match against Alexander MacDonnell. The match consisted of six parts and La Bourdonnais. They didn't speak each other's language and could only say 'check' to one another. MacDonnell took far more time to make his moves and in between them La Bourdonnais played quick chess againt other players to earn some extra money. During the sixth and last part La Bourdonnais was recalled to France on urgent business matters and MacDonnell died before the match could be resumed.

In 1836 he became one of the editors of the first chess magazine, "La Palamede". In 1838 he suffered a stroke and then from dropsy. Things went downward from then. He had to sell his books, furniture and clothes and in 1840 he returned to London where he was employed at Simpson's Divan. He died in december of that year and George Walker, the organiser of his match against MacDonnell, paid for his burial.

Related persons
• has a connection with MacDonnell, Alexander


The grave of Louis Charles De La Bourdonnais at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.

The grave of Louis Charles De La Bourdonnais at Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Picture by Androom (08 Feb 2012)


La Fontaine, Jean de

Published: 09 Nov 2008
Last update: 15 Jan 2023