HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Stewart Reuben
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HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Stewart Reuben » Tue Mar 12, 2019 12:48 pm

HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Tim Harding has suggested I put this announcement on this forum.

Together with Alex McFarlane and Shaun Press, we are writing a history of the Laws of Chess, going all the way back to the beginnings in the 6th Century AD.
Shaun is working on the early days.
Alex on the 'modern' laws from the 15th century.
I am dealing with the more recent.

We would like to include the Rumens - Mabbs game, or even just the final position, of 1957-8 in the London Boys Championship. Can anybody help?

Tim Harding
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Tim Harding » Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:20 pm

Thanks, Stewart.

Harold Murray had a long debate with the German problemist Johannes Köhtz who wrote a long article on early chess for the Handbuch des Schachspiels, which Murray thought was wrong in many respects. A summary of this is to be found in a two-part article Murray wrote in BCM for 1913. However he also wrote more about this in unpublished papers:

There are some documents in the Harold Murray collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, which either Alex or Shaun may want to spend a day (at least) reading.

MS H. J. Murray #75 "Primitive chess and the baring victory" - various articles on the debate with Köhtz, who had argued that the main way of winning a game in Arab chess was to take all the opponent's pieces. Murray believed checkmate was always the principal objective. The articles in this box include annotated translations by Murray dating from 1915 made from the Wochenschach, Deut. Schachblatter etc. Murray's last word in the Wochenschach was according to this, volume 30, number 37 of 1 Feb 1914.

MS H. J. Murray #76 has material relating to primitive chess by another man named Seyferth. Probably less important.

MS H. J. Murray #84 includes material (among other things) about the history of pawn promotion.

A list of what is in the various Murray manuscript boxes can be found in my British Chess Literature to 1914 and I have notes on some but not many photographs.

In order to read Bodleian manuscripts, whoever is going would need to obtain a special reader ticket that permits you to consult manuscripts. Unless one of you is an Oxford graduate, this won't be easy to obtain without something like a letter from a publisher or Oxford academic saying you need to see things for the book you are writing and that you are a suitable person who will handle the material with tender loving care etc. Photography is allowed these days, which will help and save time.

In the meantime, take a look at http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/wint ... y_of_chess which is a transcription of an article Murray wrote shortly before his death. There Murray says it was the Persians who made stalemate a draw.

Stalemate is a topic to which you will of course need to be very careful about as, if I recall correctly, at various times and places, all three results have arisen from stalemate.
The laws of the Manchester chess club (1817) will be worth quoting. They stated that "In England he whose king is stale-mate wins the game but in France, and several other countries, the stale-mate is a drawn game." There was a long footnote to this which I can send you privately (it's not on my laptop) defending the old English rule against Sarratt's attempt to import the continental one.

Because it was said to be a win in Hoyle's games etc., up to the 1840s you can see Bell's Life in London (Walker) and other columns with answers to correspondents saying stalemate is a draw.

Another topic for one of you is the Italian rules (free castling and "passar battaglia", i.e. no en passant) which only died out in some places in the second half of the 19th century after they were used in some correspondence games. For example, Hamburg v Breslau 1840 where the game where Hamburg had first move was played with free castling because they liked it in Hamburg, but eventually Von der Lasa persuaded them to give it up.

In Italy it may have been Serafino Dubois who was influential in the modern rules being adopted, but on this you should consult Fabiano Zavatarelli.

In my Chess Literature book you will also find some material about the "dummy pawn" controversy that arose from the row between (principally) Staunton (Chess Praxis laws) and Löwenthal (British Chess Association 1862 laws). There was to have been a meeting at the 1870 Baden-Baden congress to debate issues in the laws but it had to be cancelled when the Franco-Prussian war broke out, curtailing the programme.

One hard case over the repetitions and 50-move draw laws arose in 1879 in a game between Blackburne and Mason. There is something about this in my JHB book; the full account is in the Glasgow Weekly Herald of 12 July 1879.

So in 1883 a special sub-committee of the London 1883 tournament had to draw up a set of rules in advance which would avoid possible disputes between British and continental players. Several more drafts followed over the following decades to try and clear up problems like the Blackburne-Mason case etc. etc.

No doubt you will have great fun with this!
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

Geoff Chandler
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Geoff Chandler » Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:30 pm

Hi Stewart,

This may be of interest to Shaun, Tim mentioned the Italian rules in his post.

https://www.chesscentral.com/discart-bo ... ad-e-book/

Discart-Bonetti Chess Match, 1863

Here is your chance to experience chess as it used to be - or might have been! In January of 1863 a match took place in Modena, Italy,
between Francesco Discart and Cornelio Bonetti, using the old Italian rules of chess. Castling was "free" style, en passant pawn captures
were disallowed, and a pawn could only be promoted to those pieces already captured! All 15 games of this great match are annotated by
Discart himself, and much additional material is included.

The advert continues.

This important match has been carefully translated into ChessBase format, with all of the modern features you've come to expect.
Besides the 15 match games with Discart's commentary, this e-book includes:

* Four text documents, with biographies of both players
* Several supplemental games by Discart and Bonetti
* Compositions by Discart
* Scans of newspaper clippings, theme Key, even a drawing of Discart himself

O.G. Urcan
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by O.G. Urcan » Wed Mar 13, 2019 3:36 am

Tim Harding wrote:
Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:20 pm

In Italy it may have been Serafino Dubois who was influential in the modern rules being adopted, but on this you should consult Fabiano Zavatarelli.
Not "Fabiano." Nor "Fabio," as given on page 4 of Tim Harding's book on Blackburne. Zavatarelli's forename is Fabrizio.

Tim Harding
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Tim Harding » Wed Mar 13, 2019 7:29 am

Yes you do love correcting me, don't you? I wasn't at home to check the title page of his book.
Tim Harding
Historian and Kibitzer

Author of 'British Chess Literature to 1914', Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

Stewart Reuben
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Stewart Reuben » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:19 am

The Essex County Association Lightning Championship will be taking place in June 2019. Does anybody know of any other lightning tournaments?
Lightnig chess is where a buzzer used to go and a move had to be made every 10 seconds, It was also sometimes played every 5 seconds, or perhaps just for the first 5-10 moves.
t was a standard law that you had to nove on the buzzer, nog before and not after.
Illegl moves lost.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Gerard Killoran » Thu Mar 21, 2019 8:49 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:19 am
The Essex County Association Lightning Championship will be taking place in June 2019. Does anybody know of any other lightning tournaments?
Lightnig chess is where a buzzer used to go and a move had to be made every 10 seconds, It was also sometimes played every 5 seconds, or perhaps just for the first 5-10 moves.
t was a standard law that you had to nove on the buzzer, nog before and not after.
Illegl moves lost.
Have a look at viewtopic.php?f=27&t=9443

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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Alex Holowczak » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:35 am

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:19 am
Does anybody know of any other lightning tournaments?
The Birmingham League has a lightning tournament.

Some children at a school I coach at like a variation of lightning chess. The time limit is Game/0 + 10's delay per move.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Stewart Reuben » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:54 pm

Alex. that doesn't seem like a variation to me. It is actually Lightning chess.

NickFaulks
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:57 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:54 pm
Alex. that doesn't seem like a variation to me. It is actually Lightning chess.
No, the difference is that you can play before the buzzer, depriving your opponent of thinking time on your clock when your move is obvious.

E Michael White
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by E Michael White » Thu Mar 21, 2019 3:41 pm

In 1970 or thereabouts the BCF lightning rules had two rules which might be considered unusual now:-

a. check had to be announced

b. the arbiter had to default a player for any second rule infringement, none of this wishy washy 3 or 4 strikes and you're out. Players and arbiters were expected to know the rules.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Stewart Reuben » Thu Mar 21, 2019 4:42 pm

E Michael

I don't remember a requirement to announce check, but it is a long time ago. That would have led to endless problems. Failure to announce would be an infringement. Did that mean the plaer checked could then ignore it? What if he didn't hear it? Did a player ose if he had failed to announce it twice?

Blitz it was always loss for the first illegal move. It is only very recently that all three versions, Blitz, rapidplay and standardplay have been brough into line with each other at 2.
Where and when in the Laws were four infringements allowed?

E Michael White
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by E Michael White » Sat Mar 23, 2019 10:04 pm

Hello Stewart

If you need to check the BCF Lightning tournament rules the last set I know of was included in the BCF yearbook for1970-71.

They definitely included the announcing check rule. If a player failed to announce check and as a result the opponent left their king in check the opponent could not be penalised but the position was set back for the opponent to parry the check.

Illegal moves, except as above, lost immediately yes.

The buzzer was supposed to sound for 2 seconds. Moves had to be played while the buzzer was sounding. That was a challenge for a 3 piece move, such as promotion involving capture, because as you know during a promotion the pawn had to placed on the promotion square in rules before the year 2014.

Any two rule transgressions, not on the same move, lost except for illegal moves as above. For example moving off-buzzer followed by two handed castling.

I wasn't wishing to imply that you could transgress the same rule 3 or 4 times in any other form of chess in recent times but that you could get away with a total of 3 rule infringements for several different rules before being defaulted on the 4th such act for generally failing to follow the rules. I'm not sure what you could get away with now. Maybe an illegal move, pressing the clock before righting a piece you displaced and saying j'doube just after your opponent plays an illegal move but has not yet pressed the clock (you don't yet have the move).

Francis Fields
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Francis Fields » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:08 am

D Lynn wrote a history of chess in the 19th century that has the following story.

There was a game of chess between two players at a chess club. The book says in 1311. It is hard to imagine that. So it is believed that the typesetter made a mistake and that it should be 1811. One player promoted his pawn to a king for stalemate which in those days was a win. The rule was believed to be that the only piece you could promote a pawn to was the queen. The argument was that the king was not a piece as it has no value. The opponent knocked the pieces off the board in disgust. The player said you have resigned. He replied that his king was on the floor and that he had resigned. There was a bit of chaos though no-one was forced out of the chess club.

Another story is about a chess book printed in 1411. The history books say that the first printing press was William Caxton in the late 15th century in Westminster. An 18th century chess book says that it is a 17th century fraud. It is believed that the first fraudulent book considered by a court in England was in the early 17th century.

A history of bookmarks, a short book, written in the 17th century says that the first bookmark in England was invented by a chess player. Earlier, not all books had page numbers and it could be difficult to know where you were. Some books use to use numbers on the pages to indicate where you were. One chess book used the phrase in round number 64. Would this make the book unreliable? It is difficult to believe that there was such a long tournament.

Finally, is there going to be any mention of notation or annotation? The appendices of the above mentioned book say that letters were used to annotate. For example, Z after a move meant zugzwang.

Francis Fields
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Re: HISTORY OF THE LAWS OF CHESS

Post by Francis Fields » Sun Mar 24, 2019 11:15 am

The oldest book on the history of chess that I have heard of is mentioned at the end of A History of England written in the 17th century. There is a story behind this book as it is republished. The book mentions L'histoire d'echecs (1243). I think it was by Phillipe Beugmont and was seen in the national library in Paris shortly after it opened.
"Politics is the enemy of the people who said that?" Samuel Johnson (the playwright not the architect)

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