Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais was a French chess master, possibly the strongest player in the early 19th century.
La Bourdonnais was born on the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean in 1795. He learned chess in 1814 and began to take the game seriously in 1818, when he regularly played at the Café de la Régence. He took lessons from Jacques François Mouret, his first teacher, and within two years he became one of the best players of the Café.
La Bourdonnais was forced to earn his living as a professional chess player after squandering his fortune on ill-advised land deals.
La Bourdonnais was considered to be the unofficial World Chess Champion (there was no official title at the time) from 1821—when he became able to beat his chess teacher Alexandre Deschapelles—until his death in 1840. The most famous match series, indeed considered as the world championship, was the series against Alexander McDonnell in 1834.