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 However he also wrote more about this in unpublished papers: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!