Wilhelm Steinitz (May 17 1836 - August 12 1900), born in Prague, was the first official World Champion of chess. Known for his original contributions to chess strategy such as his ideas on positional play, his theories were held in high regard by disparate chess players such as Aron Nimzowitsch, Siegbert Tarrasch, and Emanuel Lasker.
Steinitz was world champion from 1886 to 1894, retaining the title in four matches against Zukertort, Chigorin (two times) and Gunsberg. He lost two matches against his successor, Lasker.
Lasker, who took the championship from Steinitz, once said, "I who defeated Steinitz shall do justice to his theories, and I shall avenge the wrongs he suffered."
Steinitz eventually went insane and claimed that he had played chess over an invisible telephone line with God and defeated him.
He died in New York.