Lecture Course

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Tim Harding
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Tim Harding » Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:19 pm

PeterFarr wrote:Sorry to have missed it. 1851 sounds an excellent idea, so many angles you could take on it.
Just be aware, if you choose London 1851, the tournament was NOT originally Staunton's idea.
You would need to read the Staunton chapter in my "Eminent Victorian Chess Players" and there is a recent book in German "Das Schachturnier London 1851" by Mario Ziegler.
Tim Harding
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Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Gerard Killoran » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:31 pm

The first reference to London 1851 I could find is The Dublin Evening Mail - Wednesday 09 October 1850 which has the Staunton theory.

Great Chess Match. —Arrangements are in progress for a great chess match, to be played by " amateurs of all nations," during the Exhibition of 1851. The idea originated with Mr. Staunton, the first known player in the world ; and the first to respond to it was a player at Calcutta, who has forwarded a handsome subscription. It is proposed to have a number of "chess tournaments," the entries to be £5 each, and the first prize, £500. Another suggestion is, that the English chess clubs shall each send a champion player, with a moderate sum as entrance money, and the winner of the match to receive the prize, in the form of handsome trophy, in silver.

The next report I can find is from the Liverpool Mercury - Friday 13 December 1850

The following gentlemen have been nominated by the London chess players a committee to bring about a chess congress at the Exhibition of 1851 :- Messrs. Mongredien, Perigal, Alsager, Frederick Slous, George Walker, Packham, Payne, Hennell, George Medley, Greenaway, Thos. Fenn, and H. White. The two celebrated German chess players, MM. Horwitz and Harrwitz were in attendance at the meeting, and announced their readiness to contend in the chess tournament.

Your local library should have access to http://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/ which is an invaluable source of background information - but I must warn you, it's not always 100% correct.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Paul McKeown » Sun Aug 02, 2015 10:41 pm

City Lit will be hosting another lecture in chess history on Monday 10th August, from 18:30 to 20:30, at their premises on Keeley Street, nr. Covent Garden, London WC2B 4BA.

History of chess: The Great International Tournament of London – 1851
UBD07
London 1851 was the first international chess tournament run on recognisably modern lines. Explore the background to the tournament, the players and key moments from the game.

Mon 10 Aug, 18:30 to 20:30

Prices
Full fee: £18.00
Concessionary: £8.00


Brendan O'Gorman
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:07 am

Meant to say that I attended Paul's first lecture in this series (on the McDonnell-la Bourdonnais match). It was good value as he was very knowledgable and it was good to learn about the historical context as well as see some famous games. The venue is in Keeley Street (London WC2B 4BA). It's five minutes' walk from Covent Garden or Holborn tube stations.

Tim Harding
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:08 am

Gerard Killoran wrote:The first reference to London 1851 I could find is The Dublin Evening Mail - Wednesday 09 October 1850 which has the Staunton theory.
...The next report I can find is from the Liverpool Mercury - Friday 13 December 1850...
Good luck with the lecture, Paul, but I hope it will challenge the Staunton theory becauseI fear otherwise you will give it further currency. Certainly he adopted the idea and did much of the work but it was not his idea originally and his contemporaries were clearly aware of this. Also the way he organised it annoyed many people, chiefly the London Chess Club.
You certainly cannot rely entirely on the piecemeal evidence available in the British newspaper archive for this.

The issue of whether the 1851 London tournament was Staunton's idea (as of course he and his ardent backers like R. D. Keene will always claim) was challenged by sports historian Dr. Adrian Harvey in an article for Kaissiber 17 (2001) and further investigated by Harvey and myself subsequently. See page 54 of my "Eminent Victorian Chess Players."
The suggestion to organise a chess tournament in connection with the Great Exhibition was first made to Staunton by a "S.M.N." of Trinity College Dublin (eminent mathematician Dr. George Salmon) in a letter published in the Chess Player's Chronicle, January 1850.

On 22 May 1850 there was a meeting of the Chess Association at Leeds (curiously overlooked by Medley when he wrote his account of the B.C.A. for the book of the 1862 Congress). Saint Amant and Salmon were among those present but Staunton was not. Probably this was why the English chess press did not mention it but the July number of the French chess magazine La Regence had a long report (pages 193-203).

The idea of the tournament was clearly discussed in Leeds because Saint Amant, towards the end of his speech (see page 202) said:
"Honneur aux Amateurs d'Echecs de Londres qui, a cette occasion, s'occupent d'organiser un grand tournoi sur l'Echiquier."

Staunton was not specifically named in that connection. In the Illustrated London News of 9 November the idea of the tournament was put forward to a wider audience in one of Staunton's "anonymous" letters.

Finally, when Staunton's book appeared, it was attacked in a long review published in the form of a booklet (1852) by a member of the London Chess Club which is worth mentioning in your lecture. It is possibly still available in Google Books.
Tim Harding
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Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
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Michael Flatt
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Michael Flatt » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:31 am

As with any great idea it is not always the originator who has the wherewithal or drive to see it through and consequently their contribution gets overlooked.

Had Staunton not taken it on would anyone else have been in a position to do so and done it so effectively?

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:45 am

Tim Harding wrote:Finally, when Staunton's book appeared, it was attacked in a long review published in the form of a booklet (1852) by a member of the London Chess Club which is worth mentioning in your lecture. It is possibly still available in Google Books.
This review appears to be the booklet in question, which can be downloaded in full from Google Books:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=v58aAAAAYAAJ

A Review of "The Chess Tournament" (1852)
By a Member of London Chess Club
Original from: Harvard University
Digitized: 12 May 2008
Length: 26 pages

Tim, are there any hints as to which member of the London Chess Club published this work?

Tim Harding
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Aug 03, 2015 12:04 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Tim Harding wrote:Finally, when Staunton's book appeared, it was attacked in a long review published in the form of a booklet (1852) by a member of the London Chess Club which is worth mentioning in your lecture. It is possibly still available in Google Books.
This review appears to be the booklet in question, which can be downloaded in full from Google Books:

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=v58aAAAAYAAJ

A Review of "The Chess Tournament" (1852)
By a Member of London Chess Club
Original from: Harvard University
Digitized: 12 May 2008
Length: 26 pages

Tim, are there any hints as to which member of the London Chess Club published this work?
German historian Mario Ziegler (who subsequently wrote the recent book on London 1851) raised this question some years ago on Edward Winter's Chess Notes (CN 6690): http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter72.html but didn't get an answer, I think. Since I only had a quick look at his book, which is in German, I don't recall what conclusion (if any) Ziegler came to about this.

See also http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/staunton.html.

My own view on the possible authorship was tentatively expressed in an end-note in Eminent Victorian Chess-PLayers. The style of the pamphlet is not George Walker's and the "Review" distances itself from Walker's coverage in Bell's Life. Also since the Review includes the complete correspondence between the London CC and the St George's about the former's possible participation in organising, the conclusion I came to was that the author of the review was one of the LCC's senior officers - Perigal (Hon Sec) or Augustus Mongredien (President). Possibly they did it together.

As Adrian Harvey argued in his article that I referred to earlier, this correspondence strongly suggests that Staunton wanted all the glory and so made it as hard as he could for LCC to share in it. For example, Harvey points out that the Saturday afternoon time Staunton suggested for a meeting was calculated to be impossible for the LCC committee who, at that date, were nearly all stockbrokers and would be busy at work.

While Staunton certainly deserves some credit, the 1851 tournament should IMHO not be presented as an heroic achievement by him, but rather one sullied by his own vanity and other faults of character.
Tim Harding
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Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

Michael Flatt
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Michael Flatt » Mon Aug 03, 2015 1:09 pm

I found it interesting that one of the complaints was that so much of the subscription raised to finance the tournament was raised from abroad and especially India. The expectation was that the bulk of the subscription should have been raised in London. How times have changed.

The second point was that the London Chess Club were not in agreement with how St George's Club had taken the initiative in forming the organising committee and objected to being offered only three places on it. Clearly, they had seen it as their prerogative to have taken the lead themselves. Too late, the horse had already bolted.

I see that St George's was actually founded by Staunton in 1843.

Reference: http://www.victorianlondon.org/entertai ... sclubs.htm

John Townsend
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by John Townsend » Mon Aug 03, 2015 2:54 pm

Tim Harding said:
My own view on the possible authorship was tentatively expressed in an end-note in Eminent Victorian Chess-PLayers. The style of the pamphlet is not George Walker's and the "Review" distances itself from Walker's coverage in Bell's Life. Also since the Review includes the complete correspondence between the London CC and the St George's about the former's possible participation in organising, the conclusion I came to was that the author of the review was one of the LCC's senior officers - Perigal (Hon Sec) orAugustus Mongredien (President). Possibly they did it together.
Into consideration comes George Webb Medley, who conducted the correspondence on behalf of the London Chess Club, describing himself as "Secretary to the Committee". He and George Perigal seem the most likely culprits.
As Adrian Harvey argued in his article that I referred to earlier, this correspondence strongly suggests that Staunton wanted all the glory and so made it as hard as he could for LCC to share in it. For example, Harvey points out that the Saturday afternoon time Staunton suggested for a meeting was calculated to be impossible for the LCC committee who, at that date, were nearly all stockbrokers and would be busy at work.
The letters from the St George's side were written on behalf of the "Managing Committee" (which included several aristocrats) by Miles Gerald Keon, Esq.. There was rivalry between the two clubs. Why should poor Staunton be held personally responsible for any perceived shortcomings in the letters between the two clubs?
While Staunton certainly deserves some credit, the 1851 tournament should IMHO not be presented as an heroic achievement by him, but rather one sullied by his own vanity and other faults of character.
That may be the impression given by the pamphlet, but one should bear in mind that it was motivated by sour grapes on the part of the London Chess Club because they had not shared in the organisation of the tournament. The fact that no-one put his name to the pamphlet says much about its trustworthiness. The 1851 tournament was a huge achievement by Staunton, and made at no little personal sacrifice.

John Townsend
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by John Townsend » Mon Aug 03, 2015 3:48 pm

Michael Flatt said:
I see that St George's was actually founded by Staunton in 1843.
The source quoted is woefully wrong on that point. Far from having founded St. George's Chess Club, Staunton was, in fact, excluded from it until the Spring of 1843!

Craig Pritchett
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Craig Pritchett » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:05 am

John Townsend wrote: The 1851 tournament was a huge achievement by Staunton, and made at no little personal sacrifice.
That's certainly the view that I more or less subscribed to on reading around this topic for the Anderssen chapter in my Everyman book: Chess Secrets: Great Chess Romantics (2013).

Perhaps even more importantly it appears to reflect the balanced contemporary German view, as expressed in a lengthy discussion of the background to and the course of London 1851, to be found in Hermann von Gottschall's substantial chess biography: Adolf Anderssen (1912). Gottschall goes out of his way to stress Staunton's considerable achievement ... the more so because of Staunton's regrettable, over-the-top pique at losing to Anderssen (which he thought must be 'sharply criticised') ...

... including, for example, Staunton's ludicrous denigration of both players' play in one of the most interesting games played between the two (Game 2 in my book) in Staunton's curate's egg of a tournament book ... 'discreditable to two third-rate players of a coffee house ... mere mockery'. Dear me! Anderssen, genial, as always, shrugged it all off and just got on with life.

Gottschall also traces the idea of such a 'big' international tournament back to Bledow (originally) and v d Lasa, whose plans to stage an event in Trier, Aachen or Antwerp fell though when St Amant wouldn't support it and in April 1849 Kieseritzky suggested alternating annual internationals in London, Paris and Berlin. Then the Great Exhibition of London 1851 gave London a great opportunity (Gottschall also mentions Staunton's Irish 'discussions') and Staunton's great international appeal for funds went out ... successfully.

Trust the forthcoming lecture will be a great success. Fascinating and still not entirely clear history in all details!

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Aug 05, 2015 11:50 am

Here's a curious fragment from the Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties - Friday 01 March 1850 p.7

...ollege, Dublin, asks the editor
...onicle, if does not think it
...p a “Chess Tournament,” for
...be contended for at the great
...Sciences in 1851? The writer
...ome sum could be raised in the
...object.

Tim Harding
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Tim Harding » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:56 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:Here's a curious fragment from the Nottingham Review and General Advertiser for the Midland Counties - Friday 01 March 1850 p.7

...ollege, Dublin, asks the editor
...onicle, if does not think it
...p a “Chess Tournament,” for
...be contended for at the great
...Sciences in 1851? The writer
...ome sum could be raised in the
...object.
This is a direct lift from CPC 1850:

MY DEAR SIR,- Do you not think it would be possible to get up a "Chess Tournament," for players of all nations, to be contended for at the time of the great exposition of Arts and Science, in 1851? I think that a very handsome sum could be raised in the Chessworld, for this object, and I, for one, shall be willing to contribute.
Believe me, very truly, yours, S.M.N.
Trinity College, Dublin, Jan., 1850.

(Adrian Harvey guessed that S.M.N. was the Rev Dr George Salmon. I did extensive research in the records of TCD to establish that there was nobody else with initials or surname that could match "S.M.N.")
Tim Harding
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Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
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