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´╗┐Title: Chess History and Reminiscences
Author: Bird, H. E. (Henry Edward)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chess History and Reminiscences" ***

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by H. E. Bird


My Highly Esteemed
Chess Opponent And Patron
Of Nearly 40 Years
W. J. EVELYN, Esq.,
Of Wotton, Surrey












Dedicated to Belfast and Newcastle


STEINITZ, PART 1, (8 pages.)

NOTE. Postponed. "Times Reminiscences" (7 in number)
"Ruskin's letters" (28), "Bayley's Article" and "Fortnightly
Review" controversy, and "A few words with the German writer,
and the works of 1872 and 1884."



This little work is but a condensation and essence of a much
larger one, containing the result of what can be discovered
concerning the origin and history of chess, combined with
some of my own reminiscences of 46 years past both of chess play
and its exponents, dating back to the year 1846, the 18th of
Simpson's, 9 years after the death of A. McDonnell, and 6 after
that of L. de La Bourdonnais when chivalrous and first class
chess had come into the highest estimation, and emulatory matches
and tests of supremacy in chess skill were the order of the day.

English chess was then in the ascendant, three years before
Howard Staunton had vanquished St. Amant of France, and was
the recognized world's chess champion, while H. T. Buckle the
renowned author of the History of Civilization was the foremost
in skill among chess amateurs, Mr. W. Lewis and Mr. George
Walker the well known and prolific writers on chess, were among
the ten or twelve strongest players, but were seldom seen in the
public circle, Mr. Slous and Mr. Perigal were other first rate
amateurs of about equal strength. Mr. Daniels who attended
Simpson's had just departed. Captain Evans and Captain Kennedy
were familiar figures, and most popular alike distinguished and
esteemed for amiability and good nature, and were the best
friends and encouragers of the younger aspirants.

At this time Simpson's was the principal public arena for first
class chess practice and development: the St. George's Chess Club
was domiciled in Cavendish Square at back of the Polytechnic. The
London Chess Club (the oldest) met at the George and Vulture on
Cornhill, when Morphy came in 1858, and Steinitz in 1862, these
time honoured clubs were located at King St., St. James, and at
Purssell's, Cornhill respectively.

Other clubs for the practice and cultivation of the game were
about thirteen in number, representing not five percent of those
now existing; the oldest seem to have been Manchester, Edinburgh,
and Dublin, closely followed by Bristol, Liverpool, Wakefield,
Leeds and Newcastle.

Annual County Meetings commenced with that held at Leeds in
1841. The earliest perfectly open Tournaments were two on a
small scale at Simpson's in 1848 and 1849, and the first World's
International in the Exhibition year 1851, at the St. George's
Chess Club, Polytechnic Building, Cavendish Square. In each of
these Tournaments the writer participated.

Three chess columns existed when I first visited Simpson's in
1846, viz., Bells Life managed by Mr. George Walker from 1834
to 1873. The Illustrated London News from 15th February 1845 to
1878, in charge of Howard Staunton, and the Pictorial Times which
lasted from February 1845 to June 1848. The first column started
had appeared in the Lancet 1823, but it continued not quite one

The Chess Player's Chronicle issued in 1841 (Staunton), was then
the only regular magazine devoted to chess, but a fly leaf had
been published weekly about the year 1840, in rather a curious
form of which the following is found noted:

About the year 1840 the Garrick Chess Divan was opened by Mr.
Huttman at No. 4 Little Russell St., Covent Garden. One of the
attractions of this little saloon was the publication every week
of a leaf containing a good chess problem, below it all the
gossip of the chess world in small type. The leaf was at first
sold for sixpence, including two of the finest Havannah Cigars,
or a fine Havannah and a delicious cup of coffee, but was
afterwards reduced to a penny without the cigars. The problem
leaf succeeding well, a leaf containing games was next produced,
and finally the two were merged in a publication of four pages
entitled the Palamede.

The Gentleman's Magazine 1824, 1828, British Miscellany 1839,
Bath and Cheltenham Gazette 1840, and Saturday Magazine 1840,
1845, had contained contributions in chess, but of regular columns
there were only the three before mentioned, now there are about
one hundred and fifty, mostly of larger dimensions.

Mr. George Walker's 1000 games published in 1844, gives no
game of earlier date than 1780, viz., one of Philidor's of whose
skill he gives 62 specimens, and there are 57 games by
correspondence played between 1824 and 1844.

The list of chess works of consideration up to Philidor's time,
number about thirty, but there were several editions of Jacobus
de Cessolus (1275 to 1290) including translations by J. Ferron
and Jean De Vigny, from which last named Caxton's book of 1474
was derived.

Lucena, Vicenz, Damiano, and Jacob Mennell appeared before
1520, Ruy Lopez in 1561, Polerio, Gianuzio, Greco, Salvio,
Carrera, Gustavus Selenus and the translation of Greco, followed
in the interval from 1561 to 1656.

I. Bertin 1735 and the six Italian works of the last century,
were the principal which followed with Philidor's manifold
editions, up to Sarratt the earliest of the nineteenth
century writers.

Dr. A. Van der Linde, Berlin 1874, 1118 pages, 4098 names in
Index, and 540 diagrams includes notice of Cotton's complete
gamester 1664, and Seymour's complete gamester 1720, with
editions of Hoyle's games from 1740 to 1871, in fact about
one-fourth of Linde's book is devoted to the specification of
books and magazines, mostly of the nineteenth century, even down
to the A.B.C. of Chess, by a lady.

Poems have been written on chess, of which the most esteemed
have been Aben Ezra 1175, (translated by Dr. Hyde) Conrad Von
Ammenhusen and Lydgate's "Love Battle" in the fourteenth century
Vida, Bishop of Alba 1525, Sir William Jones 1761, and Frithiofs
Saga by Esaias Tegner 1825.

Of articles which have appeared during the last fifteen years,
the Retrospects of Chess in the Times particularly that of the
25th June 1883, (the first on record) mark events of lasting
interest in the practice of the game, which would well merit
reproduction. Professor Ruskin's modest but instructive letters
(28 in number 1884 to 1892), also contain much of value
concerning chess nomenclature, annotation, ethics and policy
combined with some estimable advice and suggestions for promoting
greater harmony in the chess world.

The able article in Bailey's 1885, on chess competitions and the
progress of the game, and that in the Fortnightly Review of
December 1886, entitled "The Chess Masters of the Day," rank as
the other most noteworthy productions of the last seven years'
period in chess.

I regret that it is not in my power to produce the more extended
work, for to bring that now submitted within assigned compass
and cost, I have had to omit much that would be needful to render
such a work complete, and to give but a Bird's eye view of
chapters which would well merit undiminished space. Thus the
complete scores and analyses of the matches, tournaments and
great personal tests of skill and statistics of the game would
be acceptable to a few, whilst the full accounts of individual
players such as Philidor, Staunton, Anderssen, Morphy, Lowenthal,
Steinitz, Zukertort, Blackburne and perhaps even Bird, (Bailey's
and Ruskin's opinions) would be regarded and read with interest
by many chess players.

Respecting the supposed first source of chess the traditional
and conjectural theories which have grown up throughout so many
ages, regarding the origin of chess, have not become abandoned
even in our own days, and we generally hear of one or other of
them at the conclusion of a great tournament. It has been no
uncommon thing during the past few years to find Xerxes,
Palamedes, and even Moses and certain Kings of Babylon credited
with the invention of chess.

The conclusions arrived at by the most able and trustworthy
authorities however, are, that chess originated in India, was
utterly unknown to the Greeks and Romans, and was first
introduced into Europe from Persia shortly after the sixth
century of our era. In its earliest Asiatic form styled the
Chaturanga, It was adapted for four persons, having four small
armies of eight each. King, three pieces answering to our Rook,
Bishop, and Knight, Elephant (Chariot or Ship,) and Horse, with
four Pawns. The players decided what piece to move by the throw
of an oblong die.

About 1,350 years ago the game under the name Chatrang,
adapted for two persons with sixteen piece on each side, and the
same square board of 64 squares, became regularly practiced, but
when the dice became dispensed with is quite unknown.

It may not be possible to trace the game of chess with absolute
certainty, back to its precise source amidst the dark periods
of antiquity, but it is easy to shew that the claim of the Hindus
as the inventors, is supported by better evidence both inferential
and positive than that of any other people, and unless we are to
assume the Sanskrit accounts of it to be unreliable or spurious,
or the translations of Dr. Hyde, Sir William Jones and Professor
Duncan Forbes to be disingenuous and untrustworthy concoctions
(as Linde the German writer seems to insinuate) we are justified
in dismissing from our minds all reasonable doubts as to the
validity of the claims of the Hindu Chaturanga as the foundation
of the Persian, Arabian, Medieval and Modern Chess, which it so
essentially resembled in its main principles, in fact the ancient
Hindu Chaturanga is the oldest game not only of chess but of
anything ever shown to be at all like it, and we have the frank
admissions of the Persians as well as the Chinese that they both
received the game from India.

The Saracens put the origin of chess at 226, says the "Westminster
Papers," (although the Indians claim we think with justice to have
invented it about 108 B.C. Artaxerxes a Persian King is said to
have been the inventor of a game which the Germans call Bret-spiel
and chess was invented as a rival game.

The connecting links of chess evidence and confirmation when
gathered together and placed in order form, combined so harmonious
a chain, that the progress of chess from Persia to Arabia and into
Spain has been considered as quite satisfactorily proved and
established by authorities deemed trustworthy, both native and
foreign, and are quite consistent with a fair summary up of the
more recent views expressed by the German writers themselves,
and with the reasonable conclusions to be deduced even from the
very voluminous but not always best selected evidence of
Van der Linde.

So much has a very lively interest in chess depended in modern
times upon the enthusiasm of individuals, that the loss of a single
prominent supporter or player, has always seemed to sensibly affect
it. This was notably felt on the death of Sir Abram Janssens and
Philidor towards the end of the last century, and of Count Bruhl,
Mr. G. Atwood and General Conway in this. During the last 15
years the loss of Staunton, Buckle, Cap. Kennedy, Barnes,
Cochrane and Boden, and yet more recently of such friends of
British chess as F. H. Lewis, I. C. H. Taylor and Captain
Mackenzie left a void, which in the absence of any fresh like
popular players and supporters, goes far to account for the
depression and degeneracy of first class chess in England.

Though the game is advancing more in estimation than ever, and
each succeeding year furnishes conclusive evidence of its
increasing progress, in twenty years more under present auspices,
a British Chess Master will be a thing of the past, and the
sceptre of McDonnell and of Staunton will have crumpled into dust,
at the very time when in the natural course of things according
to present indications, the practice of the game shall have
reached the highest point in its development.

We miss our patrons and supporters of the past who were ever
ready to encourage rising enterprize. None have arisen to supply
their places. The distinguished and noble names we find in the
programmes of our Congresses and Meetings, and in the 1884 British
Chess Association are there as form only, and it seems surprising
that so many well known and highly esteemed public men should
allow their names to continue to be published year after year as
Patrons, Presidents, or Vice-Presidents of concerns in which
apparently they take not; or at least evince not, the slightest

Of the score or so of English born Chess Masters on the British
Chess Association lists of 1862, but five remain, two alone of
whom are now residing in this country.

The British Chess Association of 1884, which constituted itself
the power to watch over the interests of national chess, has
long since ceased to have any real or useful existence, and why
the name is still kept up is not easy to be explained.

It has practically lapsed since the year 1889, when last any
efforts were made to collect in annual or promised subscriptions,
or to carry out its originally avowed objects, and the keeping up
in print annually, of the names of the President and Vice-President
Lord Tennyson, Prof. Ruskin, Lord Randolph Churchill, and Sir
Robert Peel seems highly objectionable.

The exponents of chess for the 19th century certainly merit more
notice than my space admits of. After Philidor who died in 1795,
and his immediate successors Verdoni and E. Sarratt, W. Lewis,
G. Walker, John Cochrane, Deschapelles and de La Bourdonnais,
have always been regarded as the most able and interesting, and
consequently the most notable of those for the quarter of a
century up to 1820, and the above with the genial A. McDonnell
of Belfast, who came to the front in 1828, and excelled all his
countrymen in Great Britain ever known before him, constitute the
principal players who flourished up to 1834, when the series of
splendid contests between La Bourdonnais and McDonnell cast all
other previous and contemporary play into the shade.

The next period of seventeen years to 1851, had produced
Harrwitz, Horwitz and Lowenthal from abroad, and Buckle, Cap.
Kennedy, Bird and Boden at home, whilst the great International
Chess Tournament of that year witnessed the triumph of the great
Anderssen, and introduced us to Szen and Kiezeritzky, then
followed a lull in first class chess amongst us from 1851 to 7,
succeeded by a year of surpassing interest, for 1858 welcomed
the invincible Paul Morphy of New Orleans, considered by some
superior even to La Bourdonnais, Staunton and Anderssen the three
greatest players who had preceded him.

In the year 1862 England's second great gathering took place and
Anderssen was again victorious. In the four years after Morphy's
short but brilliant campaign, a wonderful array of distinguished
players had come forward, comprising Mackenzie, Paulsen, Steinitz,
Burn and Blackburne, The Rev. G. A. MacDonnell, C. De Vere,
Barnes, Wormald, Brien and Campbell. In another ten years two
more of the most illustrious chess players appeared in the persons
of Zukertort and Gunsberg, and we read of matches between
Steinitz, Zukertort and Blackburne, for a modest ten pound note
(see growth of stakes in chess).

In 1867 at Paris, 1870 at Baden, 1873 at Vienna, and 1878 again
at Paris, four more International Chess Tournaments of nearly equal
interest to the 1851 and 1862 of London took place, and they were
won respectively by Kolisch, Anderssen, (third time) Steinitz and
Zukertort, Berlin 1881, a very fine victory for Blackburne, 1882
Vienna, honours divided by Steinitz and Winawer, and 1883 the
Criterion, London, a second remarkable victory for Zukertort
represent the other most noteworthy tournaments.

Of all sorts International and National, there have been 34
meetings with 46 County local gatherings, as well as 20 of the
University matches between Oxford and Cambridge, of which the
two first and greatest were held at Perrott's, Milk St., in 1873
and 1874.

Continuing with the chess giants of more modern date, Mason's
great powers became developed in 1876, and Tchigorin of St.
Petersburg, a splendid player came to the front in 1881. Equal to
him in force, perhaps, if not in style, and yet more remarkable in
their records of success are the present champions Dr. Tarrasch of
Nuremberg and E. Lasker of Berlin. The Havanna people, who,
for five or six years past have spent more money on great personal
chess encounters than all the rest of the world combined, have put
forth Walbrodt of Leipzig. In the above mentioned four players,
chess interest for a time will mostly centre, with Steinitz, yet
unvanquished, and, as many consider, able to beat them all, the
future must be of unique interest, and the year 1893 may decide
which of five favourite foreign players will be entitled to
rank as the world's champion of chess, so far as can be decided
by matches played on existing conditions.

Chess with clocks and the tedious slow time limit of fifteen
moves an hour (say a working day for a single game) must not be
confounded with genuine, useful and enjoyable chess without
distracting time encumbrances as formerly played. Played at the
pace and on the conditions which the exigencies of daily, yea
hourly, life and labour admit of experience shews that there are
yet English exponents that can render a good account of any of
the foreign players.

First class chess enthusiasm and support for the past year has
been limited to Newcastle-on-Tyne and Belfast. The unbounded
and impartial liberality of these very important cities has met
with gratifying reward in the increased appreciation of their
efforts and the enhanced number of club members and interest in
the general circle. These highly successful meetings, however,
have caused no impetus in metropolitan management, and has seemed
to divert the attention of chess editors and the responsible
powers entirely from the fact that the London 1892 First Class
International Chess Tournament promised has been altogether
neglected, if not forgotten. We are thus in grave default with
the German and Dutch Chess Associations, who have so faithfully
and punctually fulfilled every engagement.

The forthcoming monster chess competition at Birmingham,
from which first class players are excluded can scarcely be deemed
a fitting substitute for our owing International engagement with
any true lover of chess and its friendly reciprocity, and least
of all in the eyes of our foreign chess brethren and entertainers.

NOTE. This monster Chess Contest between the North and the South of
England, represented by 106 competitors on each side, which
terminated in a victory for the South by 53 1/2 to 52 1/2, took
place at Birmingham on Saturday, the 28th January last, and has
occasioned considerable interest among the votaries of the game
and reports pronounce it a great success.

As affording indications of general chess progress, since the
game became a recognized item of public recreationary
intelligence, and the time of the pioneer International Chess
Tournament of all nations, London 1851, the event may be deemed
of some import and significance, as evidence of the vastly
increased popularity of the game, but the play seems not to have
been productive of many very high specimens of the art of chess,
and has not been conspicuous for enterprise or originality, and
if these exhibitions are to take the place of the kind of
International Tournaments hitherto held, much improvement must
be manifested, before they can be deemed worthy substitutes,
even from a national point of view only.

Books on the openings in chess have continued fairly popular,
but it is singular how very little novelty or originality has
been imparted into them. Since Staunton and Wormald's works, and
the German hand-books, the Modern Chess Instructor of Mr.
Steinitz, 1889, was looked forward to with the greatest
interest, and the second of the several volumes of which it was to
consist, promised for September, 1890, is still awaited with
anxious expectation. In regard to the practice of the game, the
lack of national chess spirit, or organization, and the
extraordinary denominating influence of the foreign element, is
the remarkable and conspicuous characteristic, and the modest
seat assigned to British Masters in the Retrospects of 1889
and 1890 (Times), will it is feared have to be placed yet
further back.

The Chess Openings:
Considered Critically And Practically
By H. E. BIRD.

"This is the work of one of the most distinguished of
English players. Since the death of Mr. Staunton
nobody can more fairly claim to represent the national
school of players than Mr. H. E. BIRD, who took part in the first
International Tournament of 1851, and also played at Vienna in
1873, at Philadelphia, and recently at Paris. Perhaps his most
brilliant performances have been in single matches, in two of
which he made an equal score with Falkbeer, while, in 1867,
when contending against Steinitz (fresh from his victory over
Anderssen), he won six games against his opponent's seven, while
seven others were drawn. Six years later Mr. BIRD once more
proved his right to be considered second to none among English
players, by defeating Mr. Wisker, the holder of the British
Association Challenge Cup, after a protracted struggle. So far,
therefore, as practical proficiency constitutes a claim to
respect as a teacher of chess-theory, the author of `The
Chess Openings' is in no need of an excuse for coming forward as
an instructor. Mr. BIRD by no means confines himself to mere
reproduction. He has the merit of having identified his name with
several original variations, and of having revived several older
defences, such as the Cunningham Gambit, with no small degree
of success. The book has been evidently the result of painstaking
and accurate analysis, and it may be confidently recommended to
the more advanced players who have graduated in the beaten tracks
of the 'Handbuch,' and are willing to follow in the steps of an
able and original guide. In addition to the usual Appendix of
problems, Mr. BIRD supplies a very useful and attractive feature
in a series of end game positions from the most celebrated
modern match-games. Owing to clear type and large diagrams, the
volume will prove an agreeable companion when a board is out
of reach."--Athenaeum, September 7th, 1880.


Chess Masterpieces:
Comprising--A Collection of 156 Choice Games of the past quarter
of a century, with notes, including the finest Games in the
Exhibition of 1851, and in the Vienna Tournament of 1873, with
excellent specimens of the styles of Anderssen, Blackburne,
Der Laza, Hanstein, Kolisch, Lowenthal, Morphy, Staunton,
Steinitz, and the principal English Players. Supplemented by
Games of La Bourdonnais, McDonnell and Cochrane, contested prior
to 1849, Compiled by H. E. BIRD. Cloth, black lettered, 3/6; or,
handsomely bound, gilt and gilt edges 4/-.

The entire series will be found full of interest and points of
excellence, and can scarcely fail to afford amusement and
pleasure, as well as to impart instruction, to all who may avail
themselves of the opportunity of examining them, they will be of
especial service to amateurs who aspire to preeminence in chess.


Times, Biographical Notices, Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic,
Pictorial World, American and Continental, Newcastle Chronicle,
and Hereford Times.

Professor Ruskin (from 28 letters in all, since 1884).
"Your games always delight me, as they seem in my humble judgment
specimens of chess skill remarkable for originality and
vivacity."--12th June, 1884.

"Indeed I feel that you have done more for chess at home and
abroad than any other living player."--16th April, 1885.

"Your Catalogue is quite admirably drawn up, and if ever I can
recover some peace of life and mind I hope to be of some use
in furthering the sale of the book and recommending its
views."--7th June, 1887.

RANDOLPH CHURCHILL, Etc., Etc., (also great Musicians, Amateur
Chess Players, letters and support.)



As a player, analyst, critic and author. Considerations of his
book on the openings. Notes on his general play, and conduct of
the game, &c., are dealt with in review of Modern Chess Instructor.

Steinitz claims with justice to be very conscientious in the
performance of his work at all times, and he had no need to
excuse himself for the following criticism, which occupied him
(he told me) months in its preparation. It seems to me that an
author has reason to be obliged to any who may point out his real
errors and shortcomings. Steinitz, however, was betrayed into a
degree of unfairness and prejudice in dealing with Staunton and
Wormald's books, and Morphy's play, bordering almost on
imbecility. That the great artist himself is not infallible
appears from my review of his Modern Chess Instructor.


The Field, December, 1879.


The Chess Opening, Considered Critically and Practically.
By H. E. Bird.
London: Dean & Son, 160, Fleet Street.

The public record of chess matches and great tournaments places
the name of the author of this work above that of any living
English competitor for chess honours, excepting Mr. Blackburne.
It is therefore all the more disappointing to find that
Mr. Bird's book has not done justice to his great reputation as
a player. The author's chief defect as an analyst arises probably
from one of his distinguishing qualities as a practitioner over
the board. Few chess masters could excel Mr. Bird in rapid survey
of position and in the formation and execution of surprising
maneuvers, which, though not always sound--and sometimes, as he
admits, even eccentric--tend to raise confusing complications,
difficult for the adversary to disentangle at a quick rate.
These qualities make Mr. Bird one of the most dangerous opponents
in "skittle play," or in matches regulated by a fast time limit;
but they prove almost antagonistic to the acquirement of
excellency as an author on the game. For the first-class analyst
is not merely expected to record results, but to judge the
causes of success or failure from the strictly scientific point
of view, and he has often to supplement with patient research the
shortcomings of great masters in actual play. In such cases every
move of a main variation becomes a problem which has to be studied
for a great length of time; and the best authors have watched the
progress of different openings in matches and tournaments for
years, and pronounced their judgment only after the most careful
comparisons, Mr. Bird is, however, too much of an advocate to be
a good judge, and he evinces great partiality for ingenious traps
and seductive combinations, which form an attractive feature of
his own style in actual play, but which mostly occur only in
light skirmishes. Moreover he often treats his duties as an
analyst in a cavalier fashion. In his quotations from other
authors he embodies variations which stand already severely
condemned by first-class chess critics in various chess
periodicals; and his original researches contain a considerable
portion of "skittle" analysis, which does not bear cursory

We have no room for lengthened demonstrations, and must confine
ourselves to a few instances of the latter description, all
occurring in the compiler's new additions. On page 6, he
overlooks the winning of a clear piece which White can effect
by Q to R4, followed by P to QR3 if the B be defended. On page
22 Black can win a piece on the 16th move by P to KB4, followed
by P to KKt3, and there is no chance of any counter-attack by
P to KKt4, for Black may afterwards interpose the B at K4, and
get the K into the corner. On page 105 a piece can be won by
Black on the l0th move by B to Q5, for the Kt has no retreat,
a mate being threatened at KB3. The ending of a game between
Messrs. Bird and MacDonnell affords a still more remarkable
illustration. There is abundant proof that the author must have
examined the position at least more than once, for, by a singular
error, the identical ending appears twice in the book--on pages
183 and 197,--each time with a large diagram. On each occasion
a win is demonstrated for White in nine moves, while at least a
piece can be gained at once by Q to K7, followed accordingly by
P to Q6 dis. ch., or B to KKt5. Mr. Bird would be annoyed to
make such oversights over the board; and there is no excuse for
such shallow examples being recommended to the student without
the least comment on their weak points.

As regards the general arrangement, we have to remark that the
variations sometimes seem to have been examined loosely and
separately, irrespective of their relation to each other, or to
the main propositions of the author in reference to the form of
opening he deals with; and the brevity or length of space
assigned to different forms of play have apparently been decided
in a whimsical and arbitrary manner. For instance, on page 29,
in the Philidor's defence, 7. Kt to KB3, is described to afford
the most satisfactory and secure opening for Black. On the next
page the move is repeated under the separate heading, Example II,
and it looks odd enough that one single move should have
received such prominence, the only addition being, "Won by
Harrwitz in 40 moves," as if it were to be forced by Black in
that number, while at the time the positions show little
difference. But, stranger still, four pages later on (page 34)
the identical variation reappears, taken from the same game
between Morphy and Harrwitz (though this is not stated), with
three more moves on each side added to it, but this time the
remark is made, that "White has a good position." To take another
example. On page 78 there is a repetition of 10 moves on each
side, merely for the purpose of indicating a different 11th move
for White. It is scarcely necessary to point out that in each
case the stronger move should have been inserted in the main
variation, while the weaker one could have been disposed of in
a foot-note of one line.

While on this subject we cannot refrain from mentioning the
frequent references to "Chess Masterpieces," a work previously
published by the author, which contained a collection of fine
games partly reproduced from Howard Taylor's "Chess Brilliants,"
and other publications, with additions mostly from Mr. Bird's own
practice. We must confess that some of the so-called variations
extracted from the "Masterpieces," appear to be nothing more than
advertisements. Notably, on page 157, four "examples" are given,
which do not go beyond the 4th move, and leave no mark on the
positions, and then we are gravely informed, in a manner already
described, that White or Black won in so-and-so many moves.

We notice with great pleasure the handsome and courteous
manner in which almost all the prominent chess masters of the day
are mentioned in the book, and the sense of fairness evinced by
Mr. Bird in the selection of variations and examples from his own
practice, irrespective of his victory or defeat. But his chess
historical references are unreliable, and he often wrongly ascribes
the adoption of certain variations to different players in a manner
which could have been easily rectified by taking a little more
trouble. This is not unimportant, for the reputed strength of a
player is evidence of the strength of an opening he favours in
matches and tournaments. We can only adduce a few instances which
are more within the writer's personal knowledge.

The statement about 5. Q to K2, in the Buy Lopez, on page 16,
is much confused. The move was adopted by Mr. Blackburne in
the final tie match of the Vienna tournament, but it never occurred
in the first game of the Steinitz-Blackburne match, as Mr. Bird can
convince himself from his own book, where the latter game is
published in full on page 171. Steinitz is also erroneously credited
with strongly favouring the attack in the Scotch Gambit, for we do
not remember a single game on record in which he ever adopted that
form of opening as first player. On the other hand, a variation in
the Evans Gambit is ascribed to Zukertort, which actually occurred
first in a game between Steinitz and Blackburne, played in the
London Grand Tournament of 1872. This error seems to have been
quoted from Staunton and Wormald's "Chess Theory and Practice."

A few more words about the problems at the end of the book and
we have done with the details. There are about a dozen compositions
mostly by high-class American authors, and some of them of very
good quality; but, unfortunately, Mr. Bird has omitted to indicate
their solutions. We must suppose this to be due to an oversight,
as he gives the key moves of the four problems by English composers.
The omission is deplorable, for many students would wish to
appreciate the author's idea, and the merits of the construction,
if they fail to solve the problem. To quote an instance from our
own experience; we could not find any solution to the problem on
page 224, which composition, we conclude, is either of the highest
order or suffers from the gravest of all faults, that of being
impossible. In either case we should have liked to examine the

Our judgment of the book, on the whole, is that it cannot be
ranked in the first class with the works of Heydebrand, Zukertort,
Staunton, Lowenthal, Neuman and Suhle, Lange, &c.; but it will
satisfy the demands of the great number of lovers of the game who
do not aspire above the second rank. Mr. Bird's ability and
ingenuity is beyond doubt, and there is ample evidence of his
qualifications in the book before us, but he has not yet acquired
that element of genius which has been defined as the capacity
for taking pains. Mr. Bird could produce a much better book than
this, and we hope he will.

Variously estimated from 3,000 to 1,000 B.C.
The Primeval Hindu Chess.


[Diagram of a Chaturanga board with 4 armies. Yellow is in upper
left. Black is in upper right. Green is in lower left. Red is in
lower right.]


The Medieval and Modern Chess.

[Diagram of a standard chessboard, white pieces at the top,
black pieces at the bottom.]

Derived from the Persian Chatrang, 537-540 A.D.


Problem I. by the Caliph MU'TASIM BILLAH.
White to move, and give checkmate at the ninth move.


About 1380.
Problem II. by 'ALI SHATRANJ.
White to play and mate in eight moves.



A not unfair criterion is afforded of the long prevailing and
continued misconception as to the origin of chess, by the lack of
knowledge regarding early records as to its history exhibited in
the literature of last century, and the press and magazine articles
of this even to the present year. We refer not to lines of poets
such as Pope, Dryden and others, with whom the ancient order of
fiction is permissible, or to writers of previous periods, from
Aben Ezra to Ruy Lopez, Chaucer and Lydgate, or Caxton and
Barbiere, but to presumably studied and special articles, such
as those given in Dictionaries of Arts and Sciences and in
Encyclopaedias. The great work of 1727 dedicated to the King--
which claimed to embody a reasonable and fair account--and even
the best knowledge on all subjects referred to in it; contains an
article on chess of some dimensions, which may well be taken as
an example of the average ignorance of the knowledge of
information existing at the time. The Chinese, it says, claim to
date back their acquaintance with chess to a very remote period;
so with the best testimonies of that country, which acknowledge its
receipt from India in the sixth century the writer seems to
have been quite unacquainted. Nothing occurs in the article as
to the transit of chess from India into Persia, next to Arabia and
Greece, and by the Saracens into Spain; neither does a line
appear as to Egyptian probabilities, or the nature of the game
inscribed on edifices in that country. Though abounding in
traditional names of Trojan heroes, and others equally mythical
as regards chess, the more genuine ones of Chosroes of Persia,
Harun, Mamun and Mutasem of Bagdad, Walid of Cordova,
the Carlovingian Charlemagne of France, Canute the Dane,
William of Normandy the English kings are entirely absent, nor
is there a word concerning Roman games or the edict which
refers to them in which Chess and Draughts (both mentioned)
were specially protected and exempted from the interdiction
against other games; which has escaped all writers, and would
certainly, if known about, have been deemed of some significance.
The Persian and Arabian periods from the time of Chosroes, to
Harun, covers the Golden Age of Arabian literature, which is
more prolific in chess incident than any other; yet even this and
Firdausi's celebrated Persian Shahnama, and Anna Comnena's
historical work escapes notice. We may perhaps, not implicitly
trust or credit, all we read of in some of the Eastern manuscripts
biographical sketches; but there is much of reasonable
narrative we need not discredit nor reject. We may feel
disposed to accept, with some reservation, the account of the 6,000
male and 6,000 female slaves, and 60,000 horses of Al Mutasem,
(the eighth of Abbasside). The prodigious bridal expenditure,
comprising gifts of Estates, houses, jewels, horses, described in
the history of Al Mamun (the seventh of Abbasside, and the most
glorious of his race), may seem fabulous to us; the extraordinary
memories of certain scholars narrated in biographies, who could
recite thousands of verses and whole books by heart may appear
worthy of confirmation; the composition of two thousand manuscripts
by one writer, and the possession of forty thousand volumes
by another, may somewhat tax our credulity. We may feel a little
surprised to hear that Chosroes' chess men were worth an amount
equivalent to one million of our money in the present day; we
may doubt, or disagree with the opinions attributed to Hippocrates,
or to Galen; that cures were effected, or even assisted of
such complaints as diarrhea and erysipelas by the means of chess;
or, that, as the Persian suggests it has been found a remedy of
beneficial in many ailments from the heart ache to the tooth ache.
We may doubt whether the two Lydian brothers, Lydo and
Tyrrhene, in the story of Herodotus really diminished the pangs
of hunger much by it; but, amidst all our incredulity, we can
believe, and do believe, that Chosroes and chess, Harun and
chess, Charlemagne and chess, Al Mamun and chess, Canute and
chess, are as well authenticated and worthy of credit, as other
more important incidents found in history, notwithstanding that
encyclopaediasts and writers down from the days of the Eastern
manuscripts, the Persian Shahnama and Anna Comnenas history
to the days of Pope and Philidor, and of the initiation of
Sanskrit knowledge among the learned, never mention their names
in connection with chess as exponents of which the Ravan, king of
Lanka of the Hindoo law books, the famous prince Yudhisthira
and the sage Vyasa of the Sanskrit, and Nala of the poems, and
in more modern accounts, Indian King Porus, Alexander the
Great and Aristotle, are far more reasonable names inferentially,
if not sufficiently attested, than those cherished by traditionists
such as Palamedes, Xerxes, Moses, Hermes, or any of the Kings of
Babylon or their philosophers.

NOTE. The ever growing popularity of chess is forcibly and
abundantly proved in a variety of ways. One conclusive proof of
it is afforded by the enormous and ever increasing sale of
Chess Equipages, Boards, Men and Figures, Diagrams, Scoring
Books, Sheets, &c., a somewhat matter of fact, it is true, but
at the same time practical, reliable, and satisfactory species
of evidence. Its progress is further attested by the extreme
favour in which Chess Tournaments both International and National,
are held, at home and abroad, which attract a degree of attention
and awaken an interest little dreamt of during any past period of
the history of the game; and it is further illustrated by the
continued formation of Chess Clubs in every sphere, the ever
widening interest in the home circle, and by many other facts
which indicate with absolute certainty its highly enhanced
appreciation among the thoughtful and intelligent of all classes
of the community.

The humble and working classes have, in recent years, began to
avail themselves very considerably of the enjoyment of the game,
and this is a powerful and laudable ground for gratification,
because chess, besides being innocent, intellectual and mentally
highly invigorating, though soothing also, is essentially
inexpensive and does not tend to the sort of excitement too often
occasioned by some other games where the temptation, too often
indulged, of spending money principally when losing, in hopes of
obtaining supposed stimulating consolation and nerve, is so
frequently manifested, that it appears at times to be so
irresistible an accompaniment of the game as to become almost a
condition and part of the play.

Chess in fact, affords the greatest maximum of enjoyment, with
the smallest minimum of expense; it is at the same time the most
pleasingly absorbing, yet the most scientific of games; it is
also looked upon as the most ancient, and with, perhaps, the
exception of Draughts probably is. The reason why it has been
for so many ages, and still is called the "Royal Game" is, because
it came to Europe from Persia, and took its name from Schach or
Shah, which, in that language signifies King, and Matt dead from
the Arabic language making combined "Schach Matt" the King is
dead, which is the derivation of our "Checkmate."

The degree of intellectual skill which chess admits of, has
been considered and pronounced so high, that Leibnitz declared
it to be far less a game than a science. Euler, Franklin, Buckle
and others have expressed similar views; and the Egyptians, the
Persians, and the Arabians according to many writers, including
Mr. Warton and the Rev. Mr. Lambe, have also so regarded it.

Chess is so ancient that, by that distinction alone, it seems
taken beyond the category of games altogether; and it has been
said that it probably would have perished long ago, if it had
not been destined to live for ever. It affords so much genuine
intrinsic interest that it can be played without pecuniary stake;
and has been so played more than all other games put together,
and continues to be so during the present time on occasions,
by the very finest players. It exists, flourishes, and gains
ground continually and prodigiously, although the average annual
support in amount for first class chivalrous chess competitions,
tournaments and matches in all Great Britain does not equal that
put on in former years as the stake of a good prize fight; whilst
the receipts of a great football match at Bradford and other
important cities, which can be named, exceeds the combined
incomes of all the few remaining British chess masters derived
from chess instruction and skill in play.

Chess is, moreover, surrounded by a host of associations, and is
suggestive of a pleasant mass of memories, anecdotes, manners,
and incidents, such as no other game, and hardly any science may
presume to boast; and though never yet honoured throughout its
long life by any continuous history, or consecutive and connected
record, its traditions from time immemorial have been of the most
illustrious, royal, and noble character.

More apt at figures, than at diction, I have no claim to powers
of writing or learning, which can afford me any hopes of doing
full justice to so important a task as a worthy work on the
history of chess would be; my labours and experience, however,
may have enabled me to gather together materials for a more
solid and substantial chess structure, than at present exists
and I am not without confidence that competent and skilful
workers will be found to construct an edifice more worthy of our
day, which present, and pending, grand developments will still
further consolidate in interest and glory; a building in fact
cemented by the noblest and most worthy, praiseworthy, and
commendable associations with which the aspiring and deserving
artisan and mechanic of the present and future, may be as
closely identified as the greatest rulers, deepest thinkers,
and most accomplished and profound scholars, and distinguished
men of science of the past; affording also a substantial boon,
which may be conferred by philanthropists on their less
fortunate brethren in society, as it is calculated to induce
temperate as well as peaceful and thoughtful habits. A bond of
social union also to all who appreciate and care to avail
themselves of the relief and advantages which chess is so
well known to afford, over other less innocent, less
intellectual and more expensive and objectionable movements.


The following notice of chess shortly after the death of
Dr. Zukertort, add materially to an increasing appreciation of
chess among the working classes, and help the good work on.

"THE WEEKLY DISPATCH," June 24th, 1888.

By the sudden death of Dr. Zukertort, last Wednesday morning,
the royal game of chess loses one of its most interesting and
brilliant exponents. This distinguished master was only forty-six,
and he has been cut off right in the middle of an interesting
tournament at the British Chess Club, in which he stood the best
chance of winning the first prize. Amongst his last conversations
was his arranging to play Blackburne on Saturday, the 23rd, and
Bird on Monday, the 25th. The extreme painfulness of Zukertort's
death to his friends cannot be estimated by the general public.
Famous cricketers and famous actors are applauded by those they
entertain or amuse. The chess master receives no applause; over
the board, however, he enters into conversation with amateurs,
and is rewarded by friendships that far outweigh the wildest
ephemeral outbursts of approval. The friendships so formed by
Zukertort have now been snapped, and his removal has caused, in
the words of the old player Bird, "a severe blank." Bird himself
is an interesting character. He is by far the oldest chess master,
does the chess correspondence for the Times, and is as well known
by his chess books as by his play. The game between him and
Zukertort in the tournament now in progress was looked forward to
with intense interest, for he and Zukertort were the leading
scorers, and the fight for the first prize would have centred in
this contest. A good feature in Bird's character is his disposition
to make acquaintances with working men. He has taught many of them
his "charming game," and has frequently been told afterwards
that it has been the means of saving them a few shillings every
week. This is easily understood, for a man that plays chess is
not likely to play "penny nap" nor to drink much four-ale. Such at
any rate, is Mr. Bird's theory; and he is just now endeavouring to
promote a scheme for the popularising of chess amongst the
industrial classes.



The honour of the invention of chess has been claimed, we are
told, by seven countries, China, India, Egypt, Greece, Assyria,
Persia and Arabia.

Capt. Kennedy, in one of his chess sketches observes, and Mr.
Staunton, in his Chess Player's Chronicle repeats the statement,
thus: "That this is as many countries as aforetime there were
cities in Greece, each of which, it is said, having peacefully
allowed Homer to starve during his life-time, started up after he
died in a fierce contention for the glory of having given him

My old friends, Capt. Kennedy and Mr. Staunton, no doubt,
used the words "starved" figuratively, for neglected by his country,
for myself, I really do not know whether Homer really was
neglected by his country or not.



The traditions of chess are numerous and conflicting, Zakaria
Yahya a writer of the tenth century in "The Delight of the
Intelligent in Description of Chess" referring to stories extant
and fables respecting its invention to that time remarks, "It
is said to have been played by Aristotle, by Yafet Ibn Nuh
(Japhet son of Noah) by Sam ben Nuh (Shem) by Solomon for the
loss of his son, and even by Adam when he grieved for Abel.

Aben Ezra, the famous Rabbi, interpreter, and expounder of
scripture, and who is said to have excelled in every branch of
knowledge, attributed the invention of chess to Moses. His
celebrated poem on chess, written about 1130 A.D., has been
translated into nearly all languages of the civilized globe,
into English by Dr. Thomas Hyde, Oxford, 1694.

The unknown Persian, author of the imperfect M.S. presented
by Major Price the eminent Orientalist, to the Asiatic Society,
and upon which N. Bland, Esq., mainly bases his admirable
treatise on Persian Chess, 1850, says--"Hermes, a Grecian
sage, invented chess, and that it was abridged and sent to
Persia in the sixth century of our era."

The famous Shahnama, by Firdausi, called the Homer of
Persia, and other Eastern manuscripts as well as the M.S. of the
Asiatic Society, give less ancient traditions of the adaption of
chess relating to the time of Alexander the Great and Indian
Kings, Fur, Poris, and Kaid; in one of these the reward of a grain
of corn doubled sixty-four times was stipulated for by the
philosopher, and the seeming insignificance of the demand
astonished and displeased the King, who wished to make a
substantial recognition worthy of his own greatness and power,
and it occasioned sneers and ridicule on the part of the King's
treasurer and accountant at Sassa's supposed lack of wisdom and
judgment. However, astonishment and chagrin succeeded before
they were half way through their computation, for when the total
was arrived at, it was found to exceed all the wealth of the
world, and the King knew not which to admire most, the
ingenuity of the game itself, or that of the minister's demand.

The earliest European work on chess is supposed to be that of
Jacobus de Cessolus, a monk of Picardy, which appeared (it is
said) in 1290 (scheilt swischen 1250-1275 Linde 1-10). His
favourite names are Evil Merodach, King of Babylon and a
philosopher named Xerxes, Massman, 1830, gives Ammelin,
Amilin, Amilon and Selenus, Ibl, Xerxes whose Greek name was
Philometer to whom 597 B.C. has been assigned.

Palamedes and Diomedes of Trojan celebrity, the Lydians of
Herodotus, the Thoth of Plato, the Hermes of the Asiatic Society's
philosopher; in fact nearly every one of the Gods who has in turn
served as the Great Mythological Divinity has been credited with
the discovery of chess.

NOTE. There are few parts of learning so involved in obscurity, as
the history of Pagan idolatry. It may, perhaps, be some
satisfaction to us to think that the ancients themselves knew
even less of the matter than we do; but if so, it furnishes a
strong argument for the necessity of being very cautious in
drawing our conclusions. We believe it may safely be said, that
there is not one among all the fabled deities of antiquity, whom
(if the writers of antiquity may be trusted) it is not possible
to identify with every other--Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Pan,
Hercules, Priapus, Bacchus, Bel, Moloch, Chemosh, Taut, Thoth,
Osiris, Buddha, Vishnou, Siva, all and each of these may be shown
to be one and the same person. And whether we suppose this person
to have been the Sun, or to have been Adam, or Seth, or Enoch,
or Noah, or Shem, or Ham, or Japhet, the conclusion will be still
the same, each of them, it may be shewn was worshipped as the Sun,
and all of them, wherever their worship was established, were
severally considered as the Great Mythological Divinity.

So far, It would not appear that there is any room for much
difference of opinion, at least, not if ancient authorities may
be depended on.


Dr. Salvic states on the strength of one of his authorities, and
Alexandre apparently quite seriously has repeated the statement
that the text in Samuel of Abner and Joab's twelve chosen
champions "Let the young men now arise and play before us"
may be applicable to chess, but the context of the chapter is
opposed to any such conclusion. All the foregoing fabulous
accounts may be at least declared "not proven" if not utterly
unworthy even of the verdict pronounced in those two words.
There are three more modern traditions or accounts, the first of
which is referred to Alexander the Great's time 336 to 322 B.C.,
and the two others to about the time of Chosroes--900 years later.
Forbes devotes thirteen pages to them and they are given with
less detail by the Rev. R. Lambe in 1764 and N. Bland in 1850.



In this, the first Indian tradition referred to the time of
Alexander the Great, it is related in the Shahnama that a very
powerful King of India named Kaid, satiated with war, and having
no enemies without, or rebellious subjects within his kingdom,
thus addressed his minister Sassa.

"Day and night my mind is harassed with the thoughts of war
and strife; when in the hours of the night sleep overpowers me, I
dream of nothing but battlefields and conquests, and in the
morning, when I awake, I still think over my imaginary combats and
victories. Now you are well aware that I have no longer one
single enemy or rebel in my whole dominions with whom to
contend. It is utterly repugnant to justice and common sense,
to go to war without any cause. If I were to do so God would be
displeased with me, and a severe retribution for my evil deeds
would soon overtake me, even in this world, for is it not said
that a kingdom governed by falsehood and oppression is void of
stability, and it will soon pass away. Tell me, then, O Sassa,
for great is thy wisdom, what am I to do in order to regain my
peace of mind, and obtain relief from my present state of
weariness and disgust?"

Sassa hereupon bethought himself of a rare game, the invention
of an ancient Grecian sage, by name Hermes, which had recently
been introduced into India by Alexander and his soldiers, who
used to play it at times of leisure. Sassa procured and modified
the game and board from 56 pieces and 112 squares to 32 pieces
and 64 squares, and explained it to the king, who practised it with
both satisfaction and delight, Sassa's stipulation of a reward of
a grain of corn doubled again and again 64 times, which was at
first deemed ridiculous, was found to amount to
18,446,744,073,709,551,615 rating the barley corn at two
shillings the bushel, the value required from the Indian king by
the philosopher was 3,385,966,239,667 pounds and 12s an
unexpected and amazing sum.

The second version is of another highly ambitious and successful
king of Hind, name Fur, who died and left a young son,
inexperienced in war and in danger of losing his possessions. The
wise men consulted together, and Sassa, the son of Dahir,
brought the chess board and men to the Prince, saying, "Here
you have an exact image of war, which is conducted on principles
similar to those which regulate this wonderful game. The same
caution in attack and coolness in defence which you have to
exercise here, you will have to put in practice in the battlefield.
The Prince with eagerness availed himself of Sassa's instructions
until he made himself fully acquainted with the principles of the
game. He then assembled his army and went forth in full
confidence to encounter his enemies, whom he defeated at all
points. He then returned home in triumph, and ever after he
cherished his love for the game of chess to a knowledge of
which he considered himself indebted for the preservation of
his honour, his kingdom and his life."

The third account relates--"After Belugi, reigned Giumhur
who had this royal seat in the City of Sandali, in the province of
Cachemir. When he died, his brother, called May, was chosen
King, who had two sons, Ghav and Talachand. Upon the death of
May, their mother Paritchera, that is, endued with angelic beauty,
reigned. These two young Princes being grown to maturity,
desire to know from their mother who of them was to be her
successor. The mother concealing her mind, gave them both hopes
separately. In the meantime, the brothers quarrel, and raise
armies, and the mother endeavored to reconcile them by her
good advice, but in vain, for soon after they broke out into open
war. After various battles, it fell out that Talachand was slain.
Upon this, the mother goes to her surviving son, and complains to
him of these things.

"Then the wise men of the kingdom set about to compose the
game Shatranji, representing the battle of Ghav and Talachand.

"The sorrowful mother contemplates this game, and by daily
playing it, brings into her mind the battle and death of her son
Talachand. She could not forbear to torment herself with the
remembrance of his death, and every day for a long time, to give
herself up to the meditation thereof."--SHAHNAMA.


>From the early ages of the Christian era back to the times of
Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, and Aristotle, traditions,
concerning the origin of this wonderful game have come down to
us of a very various and conflicting character; the Arabian and
Persian historians from the commentators on the Koran interdict
against lots and images to the days of the Persian Shahnama of
Firdausi and the Asiatic Society's famous manuscript, have spoken
of the origin and history of chess, Aben Ezra, the famous Rabbi,
contemporary of Maimonides, Jacobus de Cessolus the Monk of
Picardy, Ruy Lopez the Spanish priest, Damiano the Portuguese
Apothecary, Gustavus Selenus (the Duke of Luneburg), Dr. Salvic,
Carrera, and the writers of the Italian school, have all contributed
to the remarkably delusive and often mythical theories propounded
in regard to it. In our own Country we have them from Chaucer,
Lydgate, Caxton, Barbiere and the Encyclopaediasts, and Pope
writing just before knowledge of the Sanskrit became imparted
among the learned, and ere the classical Sir William Jones had
began to enlighten us, thought probably he had set the matter at
rest by declaring that the invention of chess, (which we had and
could enjoy without caring to know from whence it came) and
which was an imperishable monument of the wisdom of its
unknown founder, involved a problem which never would be solved.



It has been a subject of regret with writers that complete games
of chess cannot be found for the earlier ages, and it has been
suggested that a few well annotated games of the great Eastern
players of one thousand years ago, and of the rival champions of
Spain, Italy and Sicily in the Sixteenth century would be of
more interest than all the problems and positions handed down
to us in existence and, it certainly would be pleasing and
instructive to be able to compare the styles Ali Suli, Adali,
Lajlaj, Abbas and Razi, the great players of the Golden Age of
Arabian Literature, and that of Ali Shatranji of Timur's Court
and Ruy Lopez, Leonardo and Paolo Boi with those of Philidor and
the leaders of the Nineteenth century.

The first half of the Nineteenth century witnessed the
commencement of Press notice, and the growth of a literature for
chess, and was distinguished by the number of works devoted to
the play of the game, not half a score of books could be traced in
England before Philidor's, besides which Caxton, 1474, dedicated
to the Duke of Clarence, Rowbotham, 1561, to the Earl of
Leicester, and Saul and Barbiere, 1617 and 1640, to Lucy, Countess
of Bedford, which constitute the most noted works recorded,
conveyed but little knowledge concerning the game, and were
scarcely more than translations of foreign works from that of
Jacobus de Cesso1us, 1290, and others, and were rather moralities
and philosophical treatises than works of practical utility from a
scientific point of view.

During the second half, the advance in the appreciation and
practice of chess has been yet more astonishing as compared with
the single club in St. James' Street, and the meeting place for
chess players in St. Martin's Lane, which existed in Philidor's
time, and the thirty clubs or so which had arisen by 1851, we
have now at least five hundred, and as against the earliest chess
columns in the Lancet, Bell's Life, and the Illustrated London
News, we can specify near one hundred. It is among the middle
and humbler classes that the spread of a taste for chess has been
most apparent, with the fashionable or higher classes, so far as
any manifestation of public interest or support is to be taken as
a criterion, its appreciation has died out, and for twenty noble
names among its patrons in Philidor's time, we cannot reckon
one in ours. Another singular feature is the grave diminution
in the recognized number of able exponents, commonly called
Masters, which in the British list are reduced to less than a
third of the well-known names of 1862. The support of chess,
trifling as it is, comes from about a score of Her Majesty's
subjects, and the total in a year does not now equal a sum very
usual in a glove fight, or a Championship Billiard match, and
the sums provided in a generation by our present machinery would
not equal the value of one Al Mamun's musk balls or the rewards
to Ruy Lopez for a single match.

The time allowed for consideration of the moves in chess, and
the management of the clocks used to regulate such is a most
important element in estimating the relative strength of chess
players. So important, in fact, that pure chess, and chess with
clocks is found by experience to be a very different thing with
certain players. Bird finds the clocks more trouble than the
chess, and as everybody knows is heavily handicapped by them,
hence his force and success in ordinary play is far greater than in
tournaments. Take the time limit alone for two players of equal
reputation, who may not be disturbed or distracted by the clocks,
a difference in the time limit of ten or even five moves an hour
would in some cases turn the scale between them. Passing over the
faster Bird; and other English players who prefer the slower rate
take a very notable example, Steinitz and Zukertort. After the
Criterion Great Tournament of 1883 opinions differed much as to
which of these was the stronger player, but after the match at
15 moves an hour, in the United States, won by Steinitz with a
score of 10 to 4, the palm has been generally awarded to
Steinitz, and without any qualification whatever the term of
champion of the chess world has been universally accorded to him
and still continues to be so, notwithstanding the superior claims
of Dr. Tarrasch based upon victory in three successive
International Chess Tournaments, Breslan 1889, Manchester 1890,
and Dresden in 1892, in the two first named not losing a single
game, and in the last, one only, feats never accomplished by

Zukertort was undoubtedly a far more ready, and we have long
thought a finer player than Steinitz, but skill was so nicely
balanced between them that a very slight variation or acceleration
in rate would have been in Zukertort's favour. At 25 moves
an hour or at any faster rate it would have been odds on Zukertort,
at 15 moves an hour or less it would have been safer to back
Steinitz. Staunton, Kolisch, and Paulsen seem to have been the
slowest of the players, 10 moves an hour would suit them better
than 15, a 10 or 12 hour game with them was not uncommon.
Bird is the fastest, and his best games have averaged 40 moves an
hour or two or three hours for a game, a reasonable rate for
recreationary chess.

In the last century one-and-a-half or two hours was considered
a fair duration for a good game, 30 moves an hour would give
three hours for a game of 45 moves or four for a game of 60
moves, and such could be finished at the usual sitting without

The period dating from the France and England Championship
Match between St. Amant and Staunton in 1843, to the Vienna
Tournament of 1873, was singularly prolific in very great chess
players. In addition to Anderssen 1851, and Morphy 1858, there
appeared in the metropolis in 1862 Louis Paulsen, William
Steinitz, and J. H. Blackburne, three players who, as well as
Captain Mackenzie competed in the British Chess Association's
Tournaments of that year, and were destined with Zukertort and
Gunsberg of ten years later growth, to rank as conspicuously
successful among even the score or so of the pre-eminently
distinguished players of the highest class the world has ever
produced, the Rev. G. A. MacDonnel1 and Barnes were of five and
Boden of 12 years earlier reputation, all were competing in the
1862 contest, Buckle died in this year, and his opponent Bird
had retired from chess, other pursuits entirely absorbing his
time mostly abroad. He had been the hardest fighter and most
active of the English combatants of 15 years before, and it was
his fate about four years later, once more to become not the
least prominent and interesting of the leading chess players.

Chess as now played with the Queen of present powers, imported
into the game dates back about four centuries, to near the time
when the works of the Spanish writers, Vicenz and Lucena,
appeared in 1495, and shortly before that of Damiano the
Portuguese in 1512. In 1561 Ruy Lopez, the Spanish priest of
Cafra, a name familiar to the present generation, from one of the
openings most approved in modern practice being named after
him, wrote the best work of a scientific character which had
appeared in Europe to that time, and he was considered in Spain
the very best player in the world, until the memorable contests
between him and Leonardo da Cutri, and Paolo Boi of Syracuse
left the question of supremacy doubtful. These famous struggles
are reverted to not without interest in our days, when the not
very profitable task of attempting to institute comparisons between
past and present great players is indulged in, for in the absence
of a single published complete and annotated game until the 19th
century, there is little advantage in conjecturing whether Al Suli
was equal to Philidor, Razi or Greco to A. McDonnell of Belfast,
Ali Shatranji to La Bourdonnais, Paoli Boi to Anderssen, Ruy
Lopez to Staunton, or Leonardo to Morphy, though these
conjectural comparisons in varied forms are not uncommon in
modern chess talk.

The records of incidents, and the anecdotes appertaining to chess
or chess players in the middle ages, are so scattered, scant, and
meagre, that no writer has attempted to put them into shape, or
make a consecutive or connected narrative of them. Even
Professor Duncan Forbes the most elaborate of all the European
writers on the history of chess, dismisses the period from 750 to
1500 A.D., in a very few words not vouchsafing to it in his volume
of 400 pages a chapter of a single page, though his book able as it
is, contains much description of games of the past in different
countries, the interest in which seems not considerable in present
days. The Hon. Daines Barrington writing in 1787, says, (and
others have followed him to a like effect), "Our ancestors
certainly played much at chess before the general introduction of
cards, as no fewer than twenty-six English families have
emblazened chess boards and chess rooks on their arms, and it
therefore must have been considered as a valuable

The opinions so commonly entertained and expressed, however,
so far at least as they can be taken to apply to the period before
Queen Elizabeth's reign, rest upon but slender data, and it is
highly probable that even in that monarch's reign the practice of
chess was confined to a very limited circle for we read of no fine
player, great games, or matches, or public competitions of any
kind, in our climes until Philidor's time; his career in England
though intermittant extended close upon fifty years and from his
time may be dated the budding forth of the popularity of chess,
which began to come to full bloom about 1828, (33 years after his
death) and produced its fruits in the France and England
championship contests of 1834 and 1843, and the inception of
International Tournaments in 1851 which first established
Germany's great reputation and furnished a chess champion of the
world from among them.

Though the contests between the rival champions of Spain and
Italy, were promoted as tests of skill, at the courts of Philip and
Sebastian, and rewarded with a liberality unheard of, since the
days of Chosroes and Al Mamun, and took place during the
contemporary reign of Queen Elizabeth, when chess had become
decidedly fashionable in England, we find no record of the games,
or that any interest or enthusiasm appears to have been evoked by
them in any country except those where they took place. They
seem to have led to no emulation in other parts of Europe, and we
read of no chess competitions of any kind in France, Germany, or
England. It was not till a century later that the debut and
successes of the brilliant Greco the Calabrian, in Paris, began
to cause a little more chess ambition in France and gave the
ascendancy in the game to that country which it still held in
Legalle and Philidor's time in 1750, and continued to maintain
until the matches of 1834, between Alex. McDonnell of Belfast
and the famous Louis de La Bourdonnais of Paris, followed in 1843
by Staunton's victory over M. S. Amant, first advanced British
claims to a first class position in chess, and left our countryman
Staunton the admitted world's champion in chess, until the title
was wrested from him by Professor Anderssen of Breslau, in the
International tournament held in London during the Exhibition
year 1851.

The career of England's champion, Staunton, for about ten years
successful as it was, is considered generally to have been even
surpassed by that of Anderssen which lasted till his death in 1879
near thirty years. Their chess performances like those of Philidor
from 1746 to 1795, and of Paul Morphy from 1855 to 1858,
would well merit full record in a longer work.

NOTE. A translation of Greco was published in London in 1656,
with a likeness of Charles the First in it.


Space precludes the admission of the sketches and
comparisons of the chess careers of Philidor, Staunton, Anderssen,
and Morphy, and confines us to the brief account of Philidor's
extraordinary support and influence on the future of chess and
such references as occur in the sketches of Simpson's.

Continuously from the date of Philidor's death in 1795, to the
ascendancy of Deschapelles in 1820, France maintained the
lead in chess which she had held for one hundred and fifty years,
producing in the interval the famous de La Bourdonnais, who for
genius, invention and force has never been excelled, and may be
ranked with Anderssen, whose supremacy for Germany first became
manifested in 1851, and the unparalleled Paul Morphy, of New
Orleans, who in 1857 and 1858, electrified the whole chess world
by his signal successes in New York, London and Paris.

Taking strength, style, and rapidity of conception combined,
these are probably the three greatest players which the world has
produced since Al Suli in the Tenth century who was considered
a marvel among the best of the Eastern players, and Paolo Boi,
Leonardo and Ruy Lopez in the Sixteenth century.

Even in the pools at Paris in 1820, when Deschapelles essayed
to give the pawn and move to La Bourdonnais and Cochrane, and
in a boastful manner challenged the whole world on the same
terms the superiority of La Bourdonnais was already manifested,
and for succeeding years became unquestionable.

There are yet remaining old chess enthusiasts who recall with
pleasure the satisfaction of the British chess circle at the zeal
and prowess of Alexander McDonnell, of Belfast, on his appearance
in London in 1828, and his continued pluck, perseverance
and improvement, and gallant stand against the most formidable
of French or living chess players, and which first began to
establish English chess claims to equality with France and the
very learned German school which had sprung up of which Dr.
Bledow, Heydebrand Der Lasa, Hanstein and Bilguer soon became
like Anderssen so especially distinguished. Staunton, a household
word in chess, first came decisively to the front in 1840, the year
in which La Bourdonnais died. McDonnell had already departed
in 1837. They lie close together in the northwest corner of
Kensal Green Cemetery. Staunton became the recognised English
Champion, and by defeating St. Amant, the French representative,
and all other players he encountered, further enhanced British
chess reputation by upholding his title against all comers, until his
wane and defeat by Anderssen, of Breslau, in the First
International Tournament of 1851, a result quite unexpected at home
and abroad, but subsequent events confirmed what the character
of Staunton's play in this competition seemed to indicate that he
had passed his best, for two English amateurs, very young, but
rising into fame, not then considered by any means equal in force
to Staunton, yet fully held their own in 1852 against Anderssen,
the first great German conqueror in games which Germany has
ever held in very high estimation.

In British chess circles, H. T. Buckle, writer and historian
was now the most patient and scientific of the players. S. S.
Boden, the most learned and profound, H. E. Bird the most rapid,
ready and enthusiastic. The last-named, a favourite opponent of
the English leaders, also encountered one by one the phalanx of
great Foreign players assembled, such as Anderssen himself, Szen,
Lowenthal, Kieseritzky, Harrwitz and Horwitz, and sustained our
chess reputation, particularly in those dashing contests of short
duration, which exigencies of time and other pursuits alone
rendered practicable. The years 1853 to 1857 were not notable
for first-class chess contests. Boden and Bird had both retired.
The appearance of the invincible Paul Morphy from America in
1858, caused a revival of chess; he came to play a great match
with Staunton, but no individual contest ever took place between
them. Barnes a very strong amateur chess player encountered
Morphy but lost by a large majority. Boden next came forth
from his retirement and played some excellent games with him.
Bird, long out of chess happening to return from a long absence
abroad, also met him, but neither English player proved equal to
Morphy, and it was regretted that the more experienced Staunton
would not, and that Buckle could not test conclusions with
him, Lowenthal and Paulsen had both been defeated by Morphy
in America, and the young American proved decisively successful
in matches against Lowenthal and Anderssen in London [Paris], and
Harrwitz in Paris.

NOTE. Schallop, Dufresne and Alexis at the Berlin Chess Club
pointed out the great appreciation by Anderssen for these games
when Bird was in Berlin some years ago.



When it first entered my thoughts to say a few words about chess
and its principal exponents during the Nineteenth century, and
particularly of the forty years during which I have been in the
circle, any idea of inquiring or examining into, and much less
of attempting to reconcile the many conflicting theories so well
known to exist in regard to the early history and progress of the
game, had never once occurred to me. Like many others, I was
slightly acquainted with Professor Forbes' important work of 1860,
in which the age of chess was fixed at about 5,000 years, and
India assigned as its birthplace; and I was more or less familiar
with the theories advanced as to its supposed first introduction
into Europe and also into our own country. That the assumed great
starting point of chess on a board of sixty-four squares (as at
present used), with thirty-two figures, and played by two persons,
was Persia, and that the time was during the reign of Chosroes
Cosrues, or Khosrus (as it is variously written), about A.D.
540, was to the limited few who took any particular interest in the
matter, considered, if not altogether absolutely free from doubt,
certainly one of the best attested facts in early chess history;
whilst the opinions of Sir William Jones (1763), the Rev. R.
Lambe (1764), Hon. Daines Barrington (1787), F. Douce, Esq. (1793),
and Sir Frederick Madden (1832), to the effect that chess first
found its way into England from France after the first Crusade,
at about. A.D. 1100, were, I know--although unfounded and
erroneous--generally accepted as embodying the most probable

The circumstance which first induced me to take some additional
interest in this question of chess origin, was the perusal of the
lines attributed to Pope (quoted by Forbes at the foot of Chapter
XII of his book), and the vague and uncertain, and I now think
unreasonable date fixed for our own probable first knowledge of
the game, though concurred in with tolerable unanimity by so many
ancient writers among those regarded as the chief authorities on
the subject.

This, however, is not all, for in regard to the European origin
of the game of chess, as to which there is such a consensus of
agreement; it may be that all the authors are yet still more at
fault; for with one accord they all assume that chess reached
Europe from Persia not earlier than the sixth century, the Arabs
and Saracens getting it about A.D. 600, Spain and the Aquitaine
Dominions being commonly pointed to as the countries which first
received it from the Arabs or Saracens in Europe after the Persian
period above named. There is no indication in any of the works of
a notion of the knowledge and practice of chess in Europe at an
earlier date, so it appears not unreasonable to conclude that the
following extract, which applies to a period seven hundred years
before the Persian epoch, must have entirely escaped the notice
of all the writers. The article occurs in the "Biographical
Dictionary of the Society for Diffusing Useful Knowledge"
(Longman & Co., Vol. I, Part II, pp. 842, 512), under the head
of "Ahenobarbus." The following is an extract of the Biography,
which is given in full in the Appendix:

"Ahenobarbus triumphed at Rome for his victory over Averni,
and, according to Cicero, over the Allobroges also, in
B.C. 120. In their Consulship (B.C. 115), Ahenobarbus and his
colleague, L. Coecilius Metellus Dalmatius, prohibited all
scenic exhibitions at Rome, except that of the Latin flute
players, and all games of chance, except Chess or Draughts,
&c., &c."

(Signed) W. B. D.
(Presumably William Bodham Donne.)

The contributions of W. B. D. are not frequent in the Biography
as those of Duncan Forbes, Aloys Sprenger, Pascual de Gayangos,
and William Plates are, and he does not apparently write, like them,
as an authority upon Eastern questions, and I might have overlooked
this reference to chess had I not read through the whole of the

It will be observed that both Chess and Draughts are referred to
in the notice, which is important, for had chess alone been
mentioned, it is probable that exception would be taken that
the game was but a species of the latter; it is doubtful, also,
whether Ludus Latrunculorum, a game of the Romans, might not
also have been suggested.

I cannot find any writer who has referred to chess in Rome or
elsewhere at this period, and it is not improbable that the extract
given may cause some little astonishment to those well-known
writers who have assumed that the Romans knew nothing of chess
till some centuries later. The generally accepted theory is
that chess reached Persia from India in the sixth century of our
era during Chosroes' reign, as stated by Lambe, 1764; Bland,
1850; and others; and this is almost universally concurred in.
The practice of chess in Rome, as indicated by the foregoing
edict seven hundred years before, may, however, tend somewhat
to disturb all existing theories as to its first European
origin, and it will be of interest to know what the learned in
such matters will think in regard to it, while it may tend to
closer investigation by more learned and able men, who have
already devoted attention to the subject, and have greater
facilities for extracting reliable information.

Spain is stated by all authorities to be the first country in
Europe where chess was known, 600 to 700 A.D. being the period
assigned. The Franks and Aquitaines had it very soon afterwards,
certainly in Charles Martell's reign, and evidence that the
game was held in high esteem during the reigns of his successors,
Pepin and Charlemagne, may now be regarded as perfectly

As the views of Pope before referred to represent something like
those of many others, and they may not be altogether devoid of
interest in the present day, I append them, with Forbes' sweeping
animadversions thereon. The lines which have been published as
original (or without acknowledgment) by more than one chess writer
in modern magazines, are as follows:

"When and where chess was invented is a problem which we
believe never will be solved. The origin of the game recedes every
day further back into the regions of the past and unknown.
Individuals deep in antiquarian lore have very praiseworthily
puzzled themselves and their readers in vain, in their endeavours
to ascertain to their satisfaction how this wonderful pastime
sprang into existence.

"Whether it was the product of some peaceful age, when science
and philosophy reigned supreme, or whether it was nurtured amid
the tented field of the warrior, are questions which it is equally
futile and unnecessary now to ask. Sufficient for us that the game
exists, and that it has been sung of by Homer, that it has been
the delight of kings, scholars, and philosophers in almost every
age; that it is now on the flood tide of success, and is going
on its way gathering fresh votaries at every step, and that it
seems destined to go down to succeeding ages as an imperishable
monument of the genius and skill of its unknown founder."

Forbes introduces this article by observing: "Pope has much to
answer for as the originator of a vast deal of rhetorical rubbish
upon us in chess lectures and chess articles in periodicals.
Here (he says), for example, is a fair stereotype specimen of
this sort," and he concludes: "We recommend the above eloquent
moreceaux, taken from a chess periodical now defunct, to the
attention of chessmen at chess reunions, chess lectures, and
those who are ambitious to do a spicy article for a chess

This appears somewhat severe on Pope, even if it be reasonable
and consistent, which may be doubted; for Forbes himself, writing
to the "Chess Player's Chronicle," in 1853, about 120 years
after Pope, and seven years before the appearance of his own
"History of Chess," thus expressed himself:

"In the present day it is impossible to trace the game of chess
with moral certainty back to its source amidst the dark shades of
antiquity, but I am quite ready to prove that the claim of the
Hindoos as the inventors, is far more satisfactory than that of
any other people."

Pope needs no defenders. There are writers of more recent date,
who have inflicted what Forbes would probably call more rhetorical
rubbish upon chess readers. Here is one other example, which
appeared in 1865:

"Though the precise birth and parentage of chess are absolutely
unknown, yet a light marks the track of this royal personage adown
the ages, by which we may clearly enough discern one significant
note of his progress, that he has always kept the very best of
company. We find him ever in the bosom of civilization, the
companion of the wise and thoughtful, the beloved of the studious
and mild. Barbarous men had to be humanized and elevated before
he would come to them. While the East remained the better part
of the world he confined himself to the East; when the West was
to be regenerated he attended with the other agents of beneficial
destiny, and helped the good work on. He seems to have entered
Europe on two opposite sides. Along with philosophy and letters
Spain and Portugal received him, with other good gifts, from their
benefactors the Saracens; and he is seen in the eighth century
at Constantinople, quietly biding his time for a further advance.
>From that time to the present, chess has been the delight of
kings and kaisers, of the reflecting, the witty, and the good."


The Indian and American views will be found in the sequel.

It is a peculiar and distinguishing characteristic in the very
long life of chess, that at no period of its existence has any
attempt ever been made to place on record a narrative of its
events, either contemporary or retrospective, or to preserve its
materials and to construct a lasting history for it; and,
notwithstanding, the enormous advance and increase in chess
appreciation and chess reporting in 19th century ages, it will
not, perhaps, be very rash to predict that a future generation
will be scarcely better informed of our chess doings than we are
of the past, and that the 20th century will, in this respect, be
to the 19th as that is to the 18th and preceding ones. The
valuable scientific and weighty works of Dr. Hyde, Sir William
Jones, and Professor Duncan Forbes were mostly devoted to chess
in the East, and to arguments on the probabilities of its origin
and proofs that it came from India. The book of Forbes, the most
elaborate and latest of them, is much devoted to the Sanskrit
translations of the accounts of the ancient Hindu Chaturanga;
and descriptions of other games which, however able and
interesting from a scientific point of view, observation and
experience seem to indicate to us, few care to follow or study
much in the present day.

The period of 750 to 1500 is dismissed by Forbes in less than a
single page. His work contains no account of Philidor or his works,
nor of the progress of chess in this century up to 1860 when his
own book appears, and makes no mention of modern chess events or
players and it is an expensive work when viewed by popular notions
on the subject. These foregoing works with the admirable
contributions and treatises of the Rev. R. Lambe, the Hon. Daines
Barrington, F. Douce, H. Twiss, P. Pratt, Sir F. Madden,
W. Lewis, Sarratt, George Walker, C. Kenny, C. Tomlinson,
Captain Kennedy, Staunton and Professor Bland all combined fail
to supply our wants, besides which there is no summing up of them
or their parts, or attempt to blend them into one harmonious
whole, and each writer has appeared too well satisfied with his
own conclusions to care to trouble himself much about those of
anybody else.

The Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and French writers who refer
to chess, and in our own country Chaucer, Lydgate, Caxton,
Barbiere, Pope, Dryden, Philidor, and the Encyclopaediasts deal
mainly with traditions, each having a pet theory; all, however,
conclude by declaring in words, but slightly varied, that the
origin of chess is enshrouded in mist and obscurity, lost in
the remote ages of antiquity, or like Pope pronounce it a problem
which never will be solved.

The incomparable game of chess, London, 1820, says, under
"Traditions of Chess." Some historians have referred to the
invention of chess to the philosopher Xerxes, others to the
Grecian Prince Palamedes, some to the brothers Lydo and Tyrrhene
and others, again, to the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Hindus,
the Persians, the Arabians, the Irish, the Welsh, the Araucanians,
the Jews, the Scythians, and, finally, their fair Majesties
Semiramis and Zenobia also prefer their claims to be considered
as the originators of chess.

Chess history, it may be assumed, has never been regarded as a
very profitable subject to write upon; and, even in these days of
very advanced appreciation of chess, it is highly probable, that
only a very few among the more curious of its admirers, who care to
consider the basis and essence of things, will take any particular
interest in this branch of the subject; but it is just for such that
we venture to submit a very brief outline of what we find suggested
from the fairest inferences, which can be gathered from existing
information, as to the source from whence our favourite and
charming game first sprung.

Enquiries as to the habits and the idiosyncrasies of chess
players known to fame, have, always, appeared to be of interest,
and have been frequent and continuous from our earliest
recollections, both at home and abroad. We have met with people,
who would devote an hour to questions of this sort, who would not
care to listen five minutes to chess history or devote that time to
look at the finest game. In America, once, a most pertinacious
investigator, in for a very long sitting (not an interviewer with
his excellent bait and exquisite powers of incision but a genuine
home brew), was easily disposed of by the bare mention of the
words India, Persia, China, Chaturanga, Chatrang, Shatranji and
Chess Masterpieces.

This thirster after knowledge would have absorbed willingly
any account of Staunton's appearance and manners, his elevated
eyebrows and rolling forehead, Munchausen anecdotes, Havannah
cigars and tobacco plantations, Buckle's peculiarities, pedantic
and sarcastic Johnsonian's gold-headed walking stick, so often
lost yet always found, but once, and the frequent affinity between
his hat and the spittoon, the yet greater absence of mind of
Morphy and Paulsen and their only speeches, the gallantry, kid
gloves, lectures of Lowenthal and his bewilderment on the subject
of Charlemagne, the linguistic proficiency of Rosenthal, the chess
chivalry, bluntness extreme taciturnity, amorous nature and
extreme admiration for English female beauty, of Anderssen,
McDonnell's jokes and after dinner speeches, Boden's recollections,
Pickwickian and other quotations, and in fact little incidents
relative to most of the celebrated chess players, constantly flit
through the memory in social chat, which invariably seem to
entertain chess listeners whom a minute's conversation about the
history, science, or theory of the game would utterly fail to

The early censurer of chess in the old Arabian manuscript who
declared that the chess player was ever absorbed in his chess
"and full of care" may have reflected the chess of his time, but
he did not live in the Nineteenth century and had never seen a
La Bourdonnais, a McDonnell or a Bird play or he might have
modified his views as to the undue seriousness of chess. The
Fortnightly Review in its article of December, 1886 devoted some
space to the fancy shirt fronts of Lowenthal, the unsavoury
cigars of Winawer, the distinguished friends of one of the
writers, the Foreign secretary, denial that Zukertort came over in
two ships, and other less momentous matters, so we may assume
that the authors who greatly control the destinies of chess
could even, themselves, at times appreciate a joke.

Despite however the preference so decidedly evinced on these
subjects, concerning which we are advised to say a little, the real
origin of chess, the opinions in regard to it and its traditions
and fables interest us more, and tempt a few remarks upon
prevailing misconceptions which it appears desirable as far as
possible to dispel, besides there may yet be a possibility that
some of the more learned who admire the game may produce a work
more worthy of the subject, which, though perhaps of trifling
importance to real science and profound literature, certainly
appears to merit, from its many marked epochs, and interesting
associations, somewhat more attention than it has ever yet received.



Chess is the English name for the most intellectual as well as
diverting and entertaining of games. It is called in the East the
game of the King, and the word Schach mat, or Shah mat in the
Persian language signifies the King is dead, "Checkmate." Chess
allows the utmost scope for art and strategy, and gives the most
various and extensive employment to the powers of the
understanding. Men whose wisdom and sagacity are unquestioned have
not hesitated to assert that it possesses qualities which render it
superior to all other games, mental as well as physical; it has so
much intrinsic interest that it can be played without any stake
whatsoever, and it has been so played and by the very finest players,
more than all other games put together. The invention of chess
has been termed an admirable effort of the human mind, it has
been described as the most entertaining game the wit of man has
ever devised, and an imperishable monument of human wisdom.
It is not a mere idle amusement, says Franklin, partakes rather
of the nature of a science than a game, says Leibnitz and Sir
Walter Scott, and would have perished long ago, say the Americans
if it had not been destined to live for ever.

The earliest opinion found on record concerning chess, after the
Muslim commentaries on the Koran passage concerning lots and
images, is from a philosopher of Basra named Hasan, of celebrity
in his day, who died A.D. 728, who modestly and plainly termed
it "an innocent and intellectual amusement after the mind has
been engrossed with too much care or study."

In our age, Buckle, foremost in skill, who died at Damascus
in 1862, and more recently Professor Ruskin and very eminent
divines have expressed themselves to a like effect; highly valuing
the power of diversion the game affords and giving reasons for its
preference over other games; Buckle called his patiently hard
contested games of three, four or five hours each a half-holiday
relief; Boden and Bird, two very young rising amateurs, then
approaching the highest prevailing force at the time would, to
Buckle's dismay, rattle off ten lively skirmishes in half the time
he took for one. The younger of the two aspirants became in
1849 a favourite opponent of the distinguished writer and historian
whom, however, he somewhat disconcerted at times by the rapidity
of his movements and once, and once only, the usually placid
Buckle falling into an early snare as he termed it; and emulating
Canute of old and Lord Stair in modern times got angry and
toppled over the pieces.

Colonel Stewart used frequently to play at chess with Lord
Stair who was very fond of the game; but an unexpected checkmate
used to put his Lordship into such a passion that he was
ready to throw a candlestick or anything else that was near him,
at his adversary: for which reason the Colonel always took care
to be on his feet to fly to the farthest corner of the room when he
said "Checkmate, my Lord."

In older times the narrative is silent as to the temper of
Charlemagne when he lost his wager game to Guerin de Montglave,
but Eastern annals, the historians of Timur, Gibbon and others tell
us that the great potentates of the East, Al Walid, Harun Ar
Rashid, Al Mamun and Tamerlane shewed no displeasure at being
beaten, but rather appreciated and rewarded the skill of their
opponents. They manifested, however, great indignation against
those who played deceitfully or attempted to flatter by allowing
themselves to be overplayed by their Monarchs.

Concerning the origin of chess considerable misconception has
always prevailed, and the traditions which had grown up as to its
invention before knowledge of the Sanskrit became first imported
to the learned, are various and conflicting, comprising several
of a very remarkable and even mythical character, which is the
more extraordinary because old Eastern manuscripts, the
Shahnama of Persia, the Kalila Wa Dimna, the fables of Pilpay
in its translations and the Princess Anna Comnena's history
of the twelfth century (all combined) with the admissions of the
Chinese and the Persians in their best testimonies to point out
and indicate what has been since more fully established by Dr.
Hyde, Sir William Jones, Professor Duncan Forbes and native
works, that for the first source of chess or any game with pieces
of distinct and various moves, powers and values we must look to
India and nowhere else, notwithstanding some negative opposition
from those who do not attempt to say where it came from or to
contravert the testimony adduced by Dr. Hyde, Sir William Jones
and Professor Duncan Forbes, and despite the opinion of the
author of the Asiatic Society's M.S. and Mill in British India
that the Hindoos were far too stupid to have invented chess
or anything half so clever.

Not a particle of evidence has ever yet been adduced by any
other nation of so early a knowledge of a game resembling chess,
much less of its invention, and it is in the highest degree
improbable that any such evidence ever will be forthcoming.

NOTE. There are some who do not concur in this wholesale
reflection on Indian intelligence, among others, may be mentioned
Sir William Jones, Professor Wilson, a writer in Fraser's, and
Professor Duncan Forbes.


One of Sir William Jones' Brahman correspondents, Radha
Kant, informed him that it is stated in an old Hindoo law book,
that the wife of Ravan King of Lanka, the capital of Ceylon
invented chess to amuse him with an image of war, when his
metropolis was besieged by Rama in the second age of the world,
and this is the only tradition which takes precedence in date of
the Hindu Chaturanga.

The Princess Anna Comnena in the life of her father Alexius
Comnenus, Emperor of Constantinople who died A.D. 1118, informs
us that the game of chess which she calls Zatrikion was
introduced by the Arabians into Greece, The Arabians had it from
the Persians, who say that they themselves did not invent it, but
that they received it from the Indians, who brought it into
Persia in the time of the Great Chosroes, who reigned in Persia
48 years, and died A.D. 576, he was contemporary with the
Emperor Justinian who did A.D. 565.

Of all the claims which have been advanced to the invention
and origin of chess, that of the Hindu Game the Chaturanga is the
most ancient, and its accounts contain the earliest allusion worthy
of serious notice to anything partaking of the principles and form
of chess. The description of it is taken from the Sanskrit text,
and our first knowledge of it is obtained through the works of Dr.
Hyde, 1693, and Sir William Jones, 1784, Professor Duncan
Forbes in a History of Chess, dedicated to Sir Frederic Madden
and Howard Staunton, published in 1860, further elaborated the
researches of his predecessors and claims by the aid of his better
acquaintance with chess, and improved knowledge of the Sanskrit
to have proved the Chaturanga as the first form of chess beyond
a shadow of doubt. Accounts of it also appear in native works
published in Calcutta and Serampore in the first half of this
century, and it receives further confirmation in material points,
from eminent Sanskrit scholars, who refer to it rather incidentally
than as chess-players.

The accounts of the Hindu Chaturanga (which means game of
"four angas," four armies, or "four species of forces," in the
native language, Hasty-aswa-ratha-padatum, signifying
elephants, horses, chariots and foot soldiers) (According to the
Amara Kosha, and other native works as explained by Dr. Hyde and
Sir William Jones) give a description of the game sufficiently
clear to enable anyone to play it in the present day.

NOTE. We have tried it recently. So great of course is the element
of luck in the throw, that the percentage of skill though it might
tell in the long run is small, perhaps equal to that at Whist.


With every allowance for more moderate estimates of antiquity by
some Sanskrit scholars, the Chaturanga comes before any
of the games mentioned in other countries sometimes called chess,
but which seem to bear no affinity to it. The oldest of these
games is one of China, 2300 B.C., attributed to Emperor Yao or
his time, another in Egypt of Queen Hatasu daughter of Thotmes
I, 1771 to 1778 B.C., and that inscribed on Medinet Abu at
Egyptian Thebes, the palace constructed by Rameses IV
(Rhameses Meiammun, supposed grandfather of Sesostris) who
according to the scrolls, we are told reigned 1559 to 1493 B.C.,
and is said to be the monarch represented on its walls. According
to the Bible Chronology he would be contemporary with Moses
who lived 1611 to 1491 B.C.

The moves of all the pieces employed in the Chaturanga were
the same as those made in Asia and Europe down to the close of
the Fifteenth century of our era. The Queen up to that time was
a piece with only a single square move, the Bishop in the original
game was represented by a ship, the Castle or Rook (as it is now
indiscriminately called) by an elephant, the Knight by a horse,
the two last named have never at any time undergone the slightest
change, the alteration in the Bishop consists only in the extension
of its power of two clear moves, to the entire command of its own
coloured diagonal. The total force on each side taking a Pawn
as 1 for the unit was about 26 in the Chaturanga as compared
with 32 in our game. There appear ample grounds for believing
that the dice used, constituted the greatest if not the main charm
in the game with the Brahmans, and that the elimination of that
element of chance and excitement, destroyed its popularity with



The Chaturanga signifies the game of four angas, or four species of
forces, which, according to the Amira Kosha of Amara Sinha and
other authorities means elephants, horses, chariots and foot
soldiers, which, in the native tongue is Hasty, aswa, ratha,
padatum. It was first brought to notice by the learned Dr. Thomas
Hyde of Oxford, in his work De Ludus Orientalibus, 1694.
About 90 years later the classical Sir William Jones, also of
Oxford, who became Judge of the Supreme Court in India from
1783 to 1794 gave translations of the accounts of the Chaturanga.
This was at a time when knowledge of Sanskrit had been only
just disclosed to European scholars, the code of Gentoo laws, &c.,
London 1781, being the first work mentioned, though by the year
1830 according to reviews, 760 books had appeared translated
from that language, no mention of the Chaturanga is found in
Europe before the time of Dr. Hyde, and all the traditionists
down to the days of Sir William Jones would seem to have been
unacquainted with it. In respect to Asia, so far as can be judged
or gathered, the details and essence of the Sanskrit translations
mentioned in the biography of the famous and magnificent Al
Mamun of Bagdad 813 to 833 or those for the enlightened Akbar
1556 to 1605 are unknown to European scholars; there are no
references to any translation of them, or to the nature of those
alluded to in the Fihrist of Abu L. Faraj.

Eminent contributors to the Archaeologia, F. Douce, 1793, and
Sir F. Madden, 1828, adopt the conclusions of Dr. Hyde and Sir
William Jones and they receive confirmation from native works of
this century, and incidentally from Sanskrit scholars who wrote
not as chess players.

Duncan Forbes, L.L.D., Professor of Oriental languages in
King's College, London, is the next great authority upon the
Chaturanga; in a work of 400 pages published in 1860 dedicated
to Sir Frederic Madden and Howard Staunton, Esq., he further
elaborated the investigations of Dr. Hyde and Sir William Jones
and claimed by a better acquaintance with chess and choice of
manuscripts and improved knowledge of the Sanskrit language to
have proved that the game of chess was invented in India and no
where else, in very remote times or, as he finally puts it at page
43: "But to conclude I think from all the evidence I have laid
before the reader, I may safely say, that the game of chess has
existed in India from the time of Pandu and his five sons down
to the reign of our gracious Sovereign Queen Victoria (who now
rules over these same Eastern realms), that is for a period of
five thousand years and that this very ancient game, in the
sacred language of the Brahmans, has, during that long space
of time retained its original and expressive name of Chaturanga."

The Chaturanga is ascribed to a period of about 3,000 years
before our era.

According to the Sanskrit Text of the Bavishya Purana from
which the account is taken, Prince Yudhisthira the eldest and
most renowned of the five sons of King Pandu, consulted Vyasa,
the wise man and nestor of the age as to the mysteries of a game
then said to be popular in the country, saying:

"Explain to me, O thou super-eminent in virtue, the nature of
the game that is played on the eight times eight square board.
Tell me, O my master, how the Chaturaji (Checkmate) may
be accomplished."

Vyasa thus replied:

"O, my Prince, having delineated a square board, with eight
houses on each of the four sides, then draw up the red warriors
on the east, on the south array the army clad in green, on the
west let the yellow troops be stationed, and let the black
combatants occupy the north.

"Let each player place his Elephant on the left of his King,
next to that the Horse, and last of all the Ship, and in each of
the four Armies, let the Infantry be drawn up in front. The Ship
shall occupy the left hand corner next to it the Horse, then the
Elephant, and lastly the King, the Foot Soldiers, as are stated
being drawn up in front."

The sage commences general directions for play with the
following advice:

"Let each player preserve his own forces with excessive care,
and remember that the King is the most important of all."

The sage adds:

"O Prince, from inattention to the humbler forces the king
himself may fall into disaster."

"If, on throwing the die, the number should turn up five, the
King or one of the Pawns must move; if four, the Elephant; if
three, the Horse; and if the throw be two, then, O Prince, the
Ship must move."



"The King moves one square in all directions; the Pawn moves
one square straightforward, but smites an enemy through either
angle, in advance; the Elephant, O Prince of many lands, moves,
(so far as his path is clear), In the direction of the four
cardinal points, according to his own pleasure. The Horse moves
over the three squares in an oblique direction; and the Ship, O
Yudhisthira, moves two squares diagonally."

NOTE. The Elephant had the same move as our Rook has, the Horse
the same as our Knight. The ship had two clear moves diagonally
(a limited form of our Bishop). The King one square in all
directions the same as now. The Pawn one square straightforward.
There was no Queen in the Chaturanga, but a piece, with a one
square move, existed in the two handed modified Chatrang. The
Queen, of present powers is first mentioned in the game at the
end of the 15th century, when the works of the Spanish writers
Lucena and Vicenz appeared in 1495.


About two thousand six hundred years are supposed to have
elapsed between the time of King Pandu, Prince Yudhisthira,
Vyasa, and the records of the ancient Chaturanga, to the days of
Alexander the Great, to which period the references concerning
chess and the Indian Kings contained in Eastern accounts,
Firdausi's Persian Shahnama and the Asiatic Society's M.S.
presented to them by Major Price, relate.

NOTE. The Shahnama, it is recorded, occupied thirty years in its
preparation and contains one hundred and twenty thousand verses.

The long interval of three or four thousand years, between the
date ascribed to the Chaturanga, and its reappearance as the
Chatrang in Persia, and the Shatranj in Arabia, has perplexed
all writers, for none can offer a vestige of trace of evidence,
either of the conversion of Chaturanga into Chatrang or Shatranj;
or that the game ever continued to be practiced in its old form
either with or without the dice, it is conjectured merely, that
when the dice had to be dispensed with, as contrary to the law
and the religion of the Hindus and when such laws were vigorously
enforced, it then became a test of pure skill only, and was
probably more generally engaged in by two competitors than four;
but, it appears reasonable, when we recollect the oft translated
story of Nala, and the evident fascination of the dice to the
Hindus, to suppose that the dice formed far too an important
element in the Chaturanga to be so easily surrendered; and it is
not at all improbable that the prohibition and suppression of
the dice destroyed much of its popularity and that the game
became much less practiced and ceased to be regarded with a
degree of estimation sufficiently high to make it national in
character, or deemed worthy of the kind of record likely to be
handed down to prosperity. Notwithstanding that the moves of
Kings, Rooks and Knights in the Chaturanga were the same as they
are now, the absence of a Queen, (which even in the two-handed
chess was long only represented by a piece with a single square
move) and the limited power of the Bishops and Pawns, must have
made the Chaturanga a dull affair compared with present
chess as improved towards the close of the Fifteenth century;
and it is not so very remarkable that it should have occurred
to Tamerlane to desire some extension of its principles, even
with our present charming and, as some consider, perfect game,
we find that during the 17th and 18th centuries, up to Philidor's
time not a good recorded game or page of connected chess history
is to be found and we may cease to wonder so much at the absence
of record for four or three thousand years or more, for a game
so inferior to ours. Were the Chaturanga now to be revived
without the dice it would probably not prove very popular.

Authorities say "But, unquestionably, the favourite game among
the ancient Hindus, was that of chess; a knowledge of which in
those primitive times formed one of the requisite accomplishments
of a hero, just as skill in chess was considered among us in the
palmy days of Chivalry."

What this game was is not explained; beyond the description of
the oblong die of four sides, used to determine which piece had
to move in the Chaturanga; we have no information how a game of
interest could be made with dice alone, as is not easy to understand.


We have no means of ascertaining, says Forbes the exact era at
which the Chaturanga passed into the Shatranj, or in other words
at what period as the Muhammadans view it, the Hindus invented
the latter form of the game. The earlier writers of Arabia and
Persia do not agree on the point, some of them placing it as early
as the time of Alexander the Great and others as late as that of
Naushurawan. Even the poet Firdausi, the very best authority
among them though he devotes a very long and a very romantic
episode to the occasion of the invention of the Shatranj, is quite
silent as to the exact period; all that he lets us know on that
point is that it took place in the reign of a certain prince who
ruled over northern India and whose name was Gau, the son of

Sir William Jones was Judge of a Supreme Court of Judicature
in Bengal, from 27 April, 1783 to 27 April, 1794, when he died
at Calcutta. It is recorded that he came much in contact with
intelligent Brahmans and was much esteemed. He states on the
authority of his friend the Brahman "Radha Kant" "that this
game is mentioned in the oldest (Hindu) law books; and that it
was invented by the wife of Ravan, King of Lanka, the capital
of Ceylon, in order to amuse him with an image of war while
his metropolis was closely besieged by Rama in the second age
of the world."

NOTE. Sir William Jones says: If evidence be required to prove
that chess was invented by the Hindus, we may be satisfied with
the testimony of the Persians, who, though as much inclined as
other nations to appropriate the ingenious inventions of a foreign
people, unanimously agree that the game was imported from the west
of India, together with the charming fables of Vishnusarma, in the
Sixth century of our era. It seems to have been immemorially known
in Hindustan by the name of Chaturanga, that is the four "angas"
or members of an army, which are said in the Amarakosha to be
Hasty-aswa-ratha-padatum, or Elephants, Horses, Chariots and Foot
Soldiers, and in this sense the word is frequently used by epic
poets in their descriptions of real armies. By a natural corruption
of the pure Sanskrit word, it was changed by the old Persians into
Chatrang; but the Arabs, who soon after took possession of their
country, had neither the initial or final letter of that word in
their alphabet, and consequently altered it further into Shatranj,
which found its way presently into the modern Persian, and at
length into the dialects of India, where the true derivation of
the name is known only to the learned. Thus has a very significant
word in the sacred language of the Brahmans been transferred by
successive changes into axedres, scacchi, echecs, chess and by a
whimsical concurrence of circumstances given birth to the English
word check, and even a name to the Exchequer of Great Britain!

"The beautiful simplicity and extreme perfection of the game, as
it is commonly played in Europe and Asia, convince me that it was
invented by one effect of some great genius; not completed by
gradual improvements, but formed to use the phrase of the
Italian critics, by the first intention, yet of this simple game,
so exquisitely contrived and so certainly invented in India. I
cannot find any account in the classical writings of the Brahmans."


Eminent contributors to the Archaeological Society and to
Asiatic Researches have adopted the conclusions of the foregoing
authors, (Dr. Hyde, Sir W. Jones and Professor Forbes). Francis
Douce, Esq., after referring to Dr. Hyde's labours, says, "Yet I
shall avail myself of this opportunity of mentioning the latest and
perhaps most satisfactory opinion upon this subject; for which we
are indebted to the labours of that accomplished scholar Sir
William Jones." He has informed us that chess was invented
by the Hindoos from the testimony of the Persians who,
unanimously, agree that it was imported from the West of India in
the Sixth century and immemorially known in Hindustan by the name
of Chaturanga or the four members of an army, viz. Elephants,
Horses, Chariots and Foot Soldiers.

Sir F. Madden, 1828, remarks: "It is sufficient, at present, to
assume on the authorities produced by the learned Dr. Hyde and
Sir William Jones that for the invention and earliest form of
this game we must look to India, from whence through the
medium of the Persians and the Arabs, as proved demonstratively
by the names of the chessmen it was afterwards transmitted to
the nations of Europe."

It seems that we may be satisfied that chess is of Asiatic origin,
and India its birth place without subscribing entirely to the
view that even the ancient Hindu Chaturanga so minutely
described and which comes so long before any other game
mentioned in China or Egypt is even the first of chess; but we
may say this much, that, notwithstanding, the doubts expressed by
Crawford in his history and Rajah Brooke in his journal, and the
negative opposition of Dr. Van der Linde, we cannot bring
ourselves to be skeptical enough to discredit the trustworthiness of
the accounts furnished to us in the works of Dr. Hyde, Sir. William
Jones and Professor Duncan Forbes of the existence of the game
called the Chaturanga at the time stated.

NOTE. The Amara Kosha was one of the most valued works of Amara
Sinha one of the nine gems which adorned the throne of Vikramaditya.
The period, when he lived, was that from which the Hindoos date
their present chronology; that is he lived about the middle of
the first century B.C. The Amara Kosha was one of his numerous
works preserved, if not the only one that escaped. They perished,
it is said, like all other Buddhistical writings at the time of
the persecutions raised by the Brahmans against those who
professed the religion of Buddha.


Sanskrit scholars, including Colebrooke and Captain Cox, writing
rather incidentally than as chess players, inform us that the pieces
used in our game, viz. the Rook, Knight, and Bishop are
referred to in old Indian treatises, under their respective names of
Elephant, Horse, and Ship, which is a most convincing item of
evidence to chess players. This is one of the three main things
which historians fail to notice; the Roman Edict of 115 B.C. and
790 to 793 A.D., the least unlikely period for English acquirement
of the game, on Alcuin's three years visit from Charlemagne's
court, being the two others most meriting attention and noticed in
their respective places.

NOTE. The Roman Edict of 115 B.C. exempting chess and Draughts from
prohibition, when other games were being interdicted, seems to
have escaped the notice of all writers, and does not harmonize
with the Germans Weber and Van der Linde's theories of 954 A.D.
for the earliest knowledge of chess in its precise form.

NOTE. Alcuin, 735-804, is a name forgotten by all writers in
considering the Charlemagne, Koran, and Princess Irene period
and English probabilities.

NOTE. The Sanskrit translations for the glorious Al Mamun, 813
to 833, those mentioned in the Sikust (980), and for the
enlightened Akbar, 1556 to 1615, seem to have been unknown to
European scholars, who throughout the early and middle ages do
not strike us as having been remarkable for zeal and application.


The Chinese claims made apparently rather for than by them,
are recorded in the annals of the Asiatic Society as being in
respect of a game called "War Kie," played with 360 pieces, said
to have been invented by Emperor Yao so far back as B.C. 2300,
the next account is of a game called Hsiang Kie, attributed to
Wa Wung B.C. 1122, with 16 pieces on each side, like draughts
with characters written on each so recently as 1866, it was claimed
to be played all over the country. The great dictionary of Arts
and Sciences dedicated to our King in 1727, merely says:

"The Chinese claim to date back their acquaintance with chess
to a very remote period." The Chinese call chess the game of the
Elephant, and say that they had it from the Indians. The
Haipiene or great Chinese Directory under the word Sianghki,
says that this happened in the reign of Vouti, about the year of
Christ 537. Notwithstanding this statement there is an account
of Real Chess given in 1793, by Eyles Irwin, Esq., a gentleman
who had passed many years of his life in India, and contained in
a communication to the President of the Irish Society. He says
379 years after the time of Confucius (which is equal to 172 B.C.),
King Cochu, King of Kiangnan, sent an expedition into the Shensi
Country, under the command of a Mandarin, called Hansing, to
conquer it, and during the winter season, to allay the discontent
of his army at inaction, chess was invented to amuse them, with
results entirely satisfactory.

The board, or game, Irwin says, is called Chong Ki or Royal
Game. Forbes says the game is called by the Chinese "Choke
Choo Hong Ki."

The board is 64 squares with a chasm in the middle, the army
9 pieces, 2 rocket boys, and 5 pawns on each side.

It has become the fashion to this day to dish up the great poets'
lines more or less seasoned or to repeat, one or the other of the
fabulous stories, or fallacious theories so constantly put forward
in regard to the origin of chess, so it may be not amiss to state
what is known or can be gathered in regard to it, concerning the
claims of countries other than India.

Such consideration as can be found devoted to the game in Egypt
mostly relates to hypothesis and conjectures in regard to the
inscriptions on tombs and on the walls of temples and palaces;
some discussion has arisen in our own time, in notes and queries,
and particularly in regard to Mr. Disraeli's references in the book
Alroy, concerning which the Westminster Chess papers in 1872,
instituted a criticism. Chapter 16 of Alroy begins "Two stout
soldiers were playing chess in a coffee house," and Mr. Disraeli
inserts on this the following note (80). "On the walls of the
palace of Amenoph II, called Medeenet Abuh, at Egyptian Thebes,
the King is represented playing chess with the Queen. This
monarch reigned long before the Trojan War."

A critic, calling himself the author of Fossil Chess adds "In
the same work may be found some account of the paintings on
the tombs at Beni Hassan, presumably the oldest in Egypt, dating
from the time of Osirtasen I, twenty centuries before the
Christian era, and eight hundred years anterior to the reign of
Rameses III, by whom the temple of Medeenet Abuh was commenced,
and who is the Rameses portrayed on its walls." An unaccountable
error on Mr. Disraeli's part in the same note assigns its
erection to Amenoph II, who lived 1414 B.C.

Closer investigators of the Hieroglyphics of Ancient Egypt, state
Rameses Merammun (15th King of the 18th dynasty and grandfather
of Sesostris), who reigned as Ramses IV from 1559 to 1493 B.C.,
is the name that appears on the great palace of Medinet Abu, and
some other buildings in the ruins of Thebes.

According to the tables of Egyptian Chronology most approved
in 1827 reviews Sethos or Sesostris reigned as Ramses VI from
1473 to 1418 B.C. The reviews observe that Herodotus thought
that Sesostris ascended the throne a few years later than
1360 B.C. Amenophis II reigned from 1687 to 1657 B.C.

The draughtmen and board of Queen Hatasu among her relicts
in the Manchester Exhibition of 1887, are assigned to 1600 B.C.;
but she was the daughter of Thotmes I, who according to the
tables referred to, reigned 1791 to 1778 B.C.

Egyptian chronology seems not to be conclusively agreed upon;
however, the game found inscribed on the walls of Medinet Abu is
not proved to resemble chess, and is generally assumed to be
draughts, besides whether ascribed to Amenoph II 1687 to 1657
B.C., or to Ramses IV 1559 to 1493 B.C.; the date is long after the
period ascribed to the Sanskrit writings, (said to be about 3000
B.C.) even taking the shortest estimate of the age of the Ancient
Hindu and Brahman writings assigned by Sanskrit scholars.

Sir Gardiner Wilkinson says, the pieces are all of the same size
and form, and deduces from this the inference that the game
represented a species of draughts.

Mr. Lane the Egyptologist, apparently no chess player himself,
in describing the sedentary games of Egypt, says that the people
of that country take great pleasure in chess, (which they call
Sutreng), Draughts (Dameh), and Backgammon (Tawooleh).

Sir F. Madden says, it is however possible that the Ancient
Egyptians may also have possessed a knowledge of chess, for
among the plates of Hieroglyphics by Dr. Burton No. 1, we find
at Medinet Habou two representations of some tabular game, closely
resembling it, and I am informed that a more perfect representation
exists on the Temples at Thebes.

Sir John Gardiner Wilkinson, the celebrated Egyptologist,
in a note appended to Mr. George Rawlinson's of Herodotus

"Still more common was the game of Draughts miscalled
chess, which is Hab, a word now used by the Arabs for Men or
Counters. This was also a game in Greece, where they often
drew for the move, this was done by the Romans also in their
Duodecim Scripta, and Terence says--

                         Ti ludis tesseris.
Si illud, quod maxime opus est facto non cadit.
Illud quod cecedit forte, id arte ut corrigus.
                         Adelph iv. 7. 22-24.

NOTES. According to Dr. Young, 1815, and M. Champollion, 1824,
Ramses III was the 15th Monarch of the 18th dynasty, the date
affixed to him being 1561 to 1559 B.C., but the British Museum
Catalogue, page 60 says: The principal part of the monuments in
this room are of the age of King Ramses II, the Sesostris of the
Greeks, and the greatest monarch of the 19th dynasty; but, in the
tables, he appears as the 14th of the 18th dynasty 1565 to
1561 B.C. and the catalogue is probably a slip.

No consensus of agreement however has been arrived as to
Egyptian Chronology. Sesostris for example 1473 to 1418 B.C.,
(Manetho, the scrolls Young, Champollion) Herodotus thought,
ascended the throne about 1360 B.C.

Some Bible Commentators have even called the Shishak of Scripture
558 B.C. Sesostris.

Bishop Warburton was wont to vent his displeasure on those who
did not agree with him. For instance, on one Nicholas Mann,
whose provocation was that he argued for the identity of Osiris
and Sesostris after Warburton had pronounced that they were to be
distinguished, he revenged himself by saying to Archbishop Potter
in an abrupt way, "I suppose, you know, you have chosen an Arian."

Under Exodus 1 C.B. 1604 a note occurs.

The Pharaoh, in whose reign Moses was born, is known in general
history by the name of Rameses IV, surnamed Mei Amoun. He reigned
66 years, which agrees with the account given Ch. 4, 19, that he
lived till long after Moses had retired to the desert. The
Pharaoh who reigned when the Israelites went out of Egypt was
Rameses V surnamed Amenophis.

Moses' birth is under B.C. 1531, Exodus ii., his death under
B.C. 1451, Deuteronomy xxxiv., but as he was 120 years old when
he died, one of these dates must be wrong, he was probably born
B.C. 1571.

Opposite Chapter 14 v.25 of 1st of Kings B.C. 958 says: There
can be no rational doubt that this Shishak was the famous
Sesostris the conqueror of Asia. Herodotus, the father of
profane history, relates that he, himself, has seen stones in
Palestine erected by the Conqueror, and recording his achievements.


It is confidently asserted by the writers of the Eighteenth
century, and this, that the ancient Greeks and Romans were totally
unacquainted with chess, but a Roman edict of 115. B.C., specially
exempting "Chess and Draughts" from prohibition passes
unobserved by all the writers; and might have materially qualified
their perhaps too hasty and ill-matured conclusions, and have
suggested further inquiry into the nature of the sedentary games
and amusements practiced and permitted by the Romans.

The Roman edict mentioned by Mr. W. B. Donne, in his
biographical sketch of Ahenholarbus, 842, has evidently escaped the
observation of all writers on the game. Chess and Draughts are
specially exempted in it from the list of prohibited games of
chance under date B.C. 115. The Hon. Daines Barrington 1787,
Sir F. Madden 1832, Herbert Coleridge, Esq., 1854, and Professor
Duncan Forbes 1860 are prominent among those who confidently
assert that the Romans as well as the ancient Greeks were quite
unacquainted with the game of chess, at least, says Coleridge,
without giving any reason for his qualification, before the time of
Hadrian. These writers having apparently satisfied themselves
that the Romans as well as the Greeks played a game with pebbles,
assume therefore that they knew not chess, but might have known
a game something like Draughts. Here in the edict, however,
Chess and Draughts are both mentioned inferring a recognized
distinction between the two. It seems reasonable to assume that
the writers would have paused and have searched a little deeper
into the nature of the sedentary games which the Romans knew
and permitted if they had seen this explicit statement. It has
never been suggested by any writer that the Romans ever left an
inkling or taste for intellectual pastimes in Britain. The name
of Agricola or that of any other Roman is not associated with
any tradition or story of the game, even Aristotle and Alexander
the Great and Indian Porus (names we find in Eastern accounts)
are names not so familiar in speculatory traditions as to chess,
though less remote, than that of Thoth the Egyptian Mercury who
Plato says invented chess "Hermes" (Asiatic M.S.) or the more
frequently mentioned Moses, and the Kings of Babylon with their
philosophers. The favoured notion that chess (first) came into
Europe through the Arabs in Spain about 710 to 715 A.D. may yet
prove ill matured and require modification, and for English first
knowledge of the game, we may on inferential and presumptive
evidence prefer the contemporary period of Offa, Egbert and
Alcuin when Charlemagne, the Greek Emperors and the Khalifs
of the East so much practised and patronized the game, rather
than the conquest or Crusaders theory of origin among us, which
is also beside inconsistent with incidents related in the earlier
reigns of Athelstan, Edgar and Canute, and moreover is not
based upon any direct testimony whatever.

In proof of the ancient use of chess among the Scandinavians.
In the Sages of Ragnar Lodbrog printed in Bioiners collection,
and in an ancient account of the Danish invasion of Northumberland
in the Ninth century entitled Nordymbra, it is stated that
after the death of Ragnar, messengers were sent to his sons in
Denmark by King Alla to communicate the intelligence and to
mark their behaviour when they received it. They were thus
occupied, Sigurd Snakeseye played at chess with Huitzeck the
bold; but Biorn Ironside was polishing the shaft of a spear in the
middle of the hall. As the messengers proceeded with their story
Huitzeck and Sigurd dropped their game and listened to what
was said with great attention, Ivar put various questions and
Biorn leant on the spear he was polishing. But when the
messengers came to the death of the chief, and told his expiring
words that the young bears would gnarl their tusks (literally
grunt) if they knew their parent's fate, Biorn grasped the handle
of his spear so tight with emotion that the marks of his fingers
remained on it, and when the tale was finished dashed it in pieces,
Huitzeck compressed a chessman he had taken so with his
fingers that the blood started from each whilst Sigurd Snakeseye
paring his nails with a knife was so wrapped up in attention
that he cut himself to the bone without feeling it.

All authorities down to the end of the Eighteenth century,
ascribe the first knowledge of chess in England, to the time of the
reign of William the Conqueror, or to that of the return of the
first Crusaders, some adding not earlier than 1100 A.D., H. T.
Buckle the author and historian who was foremost in skill among
chess amateurs, in his references to the game, satisfied apparently
with the evidence of Canute's partiality for it, (1017 to 1035)
thought it probable that it was familiarly known in England a
century or so before that monarch's reign. Sir Frederick Madden
writing from 1828 to 1832 at the outset of his highly interesting
communications to the Asiatic Society, at first inclined to the
Crusaders theory, but upon further investigation later in his articles
he arrived at the conclusion that chess might have been known
among us in Athelstan's reign from 925 to 941, and Professor
Forbes writing from 1854 to 1860 concurred in that view. Both
of these authorities after quoting old chess incidents and anecdotes
of Pepin's and Charlemagne's times with other references to chess
in France, Germany, and Scandinavia, then pass on to chess in
England, and after asserting the probability that the Saxons most
likely received chess from their neighbours the Danes then fix
apparently somewhat inconsistently so late as the Tenth century
for it. They assert that the tradition of the game having been
brought from the North certainly existed, and is mentioned by
Gaimar who wrote about the year 1150, when speaking of the
mission of Edelwolth from King Edgar to the castle of Earl Orgar,
in Devonshire to verify the reports of his daughter Elstreuth's
beauty. When he arrived at the mansion,

          "Orgar juout a un esches,
          Un gin k'il aprist des Daneis,
          Od lui juout Elstruat lu bele,
          Sus ciel n'ont donc tele damesele."

          "Orgar was playing at the chess,
          A game he had learnt of the Danes,
          With him played the fair Elstrueth,
          A fairer maiden was not under heaven."

Edgar reigned from 958 to 975, English history referring to
this incident among the amours of Edgar, make no mention of the
Earl of Devonshire and his daughter being found playing chess
together. Hume says Elfrida was daughter and heir of Olgar
Earl of Devonshire and though she had been educated in the
country, and had never appeared at court, she had filled all
England with the reputation of her beauty.

The mission of Earl Athelwold, his deception of the king, and
marriage of Elfrida follows, next the king's discovery, the murder
of Athelwold by the King, and his espousal of Elfrida.

This incident with others, such as the presentation to Harold
Harfagra, King of Norway of a very fine and rich chess table,
and the account of and description of seventy chess men of
different sizes belonging to various sets dug up in the parish of
Uig, in the Isle of Lewis, are referred to by the writers as the
chess allusions of the North, but Sir Frederick Madden who confines
himself to the supposition of the Saxons having received the game
from the Danes, rather disregards a statement of Strutt, Henry
and others, based on a passage in the Ramsey chronicle that chess
was introduced among the Saxons, so early as the Tenth century.
Forbes however who usually agrees with Madden, sees no
improbability in it or grounds for disputing, and thinks that England
may have obtained its knowledge from France between the Eighth
and Tenth centuries. It is curious that Forbes stops here like
Madden and all other writers, he evidently knew nothing of the
Roman edict of 115 B.C., and neither of them cast a thought to the
earlier reigns of Alfred, Egbert, and Offa, which were
contemporary with the Golden Age of Literature in Arabia and the
period when chess had so long travelled from Persia to other
countries, and was so well known and appreciated in Arabia;
Constantinople, Spain, and among the Aquitaines as well as by
the Carlovingian Monarchs. Al Walid the first Khalif noted for
chess, the most powerful of the house of Umeyyah, who (through
his generals Tarak and Musa invaded, conquered, and entered
Spain, reigned from 705 to 715 B.C.), and comes before Offa,
whose reign commenced five years after the foundation of the
mighty Abbasside Dynasty, which displaced the first house of
Umeyyah, and thirteen years before that of Charlemagne, with
whom he was contemporary 26 years, and Egbert was 13 years.
Harun Ar Rashid; of Abbasside, the Princess Irene, and the
Emperor Nicephorus of Constantinople, and the successors of
Harun, viz., Al Amin, Al Mamun, the Great Al Mutasem and Al
Wathik (the two last contemporary with our Alfred), all
cultivated and practiced chess and the strongest inference, and
a far more striking one than any yet adduced, is that we got
chess during the long reign of Charlemagne, and his Greek,
Arabian and Spanish contemporaries, and this might well happen,
for Charlemagne knew both Offa and Egbert (the latter personally),
and the knowledge becomes somewhat more than a matter of
inference, for the Saxon scholar Alcuin was in England from
790 to 793, on a farewell visit after being domesticated in
Charlemagne's household as his treasured friend, adviser, and
tutor and preceptor in the sciences for more than twenty years,
and could not be otherwise than familiar with the Emperor's
practice and enthusiasm for chess, in which he may to some extent
have shared. Alcuin would certainly have communicated a game like
this, in which he knew other civilized people were taking so much
interest, to his countrymen. The connecting links of evidence
which Sir F. Madden and Professor Forbes have illustrated in
Athelstan's and Edgar's reigns, would have been greatly
strengthened and confirmed, if they had thought of Alcuin's
residence and influence at a court where chess was not only
played, but talked about and corresponded upon. Charlemagne's
presents included the wonderful chess men which he valued so
highly, and with which we are tolerably familiar through the
reports of Dr. Hyde, F. Douce, Sir F. Madden, and H. Twiss, and
the engravings in Willeman's work, and by Winckelman and Art
Journal. These chessmen (still preserved) were perhaps often seen
by Alcuin and were possibly also shewn by Charlemagne to the
youthful Egbert when in refuge at his court, and on the whole it
seems unreasonable to assume that chess was unknown in England
after Alcuin's last sojourn, and during Egbert's reign.

It may be also that on further consideration of the Roman edict
and references to their games, and the accounts relating to the
fourth century B.C., many will be indisposed to accept the dictum
that Herodotus, Plato and Aristotle meant nothing more than a game
of pebbles, when they referred to chess and propounded their
theories as to its invention.



"Khusra Anushirawan" Naushirawan or Chosroes as he is
more frequently called, being the Byzantine title applied to him,
was King of Persia and reigned 48 years, from 528 to 576 as
stated by some authors, or from 531 to 579 according to others.
He is described also as Chosroes the Just. The receipt of chess
in Persia from India early in his reign, and the great appreciation
and encouragement of it, is the best attested fact in chess history,
if not really the only one as to which there is entire concurrence
in opinion among all writers.

The Persian and Arabian historians are unanimous that the
game of chess was invented in India, some time previous to the
Sixth century of our Era, and was introduced into Persia during
the reign of Kisra Naushirawan, the Chosroes of the Byzantine
historians, and the contemporary of Justinian, they differ only as
to the time of its modification, some ascribing it to about this
period, and others to that of Alexander the Great, 336 to 323 B.C.

Although several works concur in stating that chess first came
to Persia from India, through Burzuvia the physician, most
learned in languages with the materials of the book called Culila
Dimna, quite early in Chosroes' reign, some think differently and
attribute Burzuvia's mission to India and return to a late date.
It is related from the Shahnama, the great Persian poem that it
came from Kanoj, Kanauj, commonly written Canoge, by means
of a magnificent embassy from the King of Hind, accompanied by
a train of elephants with rich canopies, together with a thousand
camels heavily laden, the whole escorted by a numerous and
gallant army of Scindian cavalry. After depositing the various
and costly presents, last of all the Ambassador displayed before
the King and the astonished court, a chess board, elaborately
constructed together with the chessmen, tastefully and curiously
carved from solid pieces of ivory and ebony. Then the
Ambassador presented a letter richly illumined, written by the hand
of the Sovereign of Hind, to Naushirawan the translation of which
is given as follows:

The King of Hind's address to Chosroes with the Chess

"O, King, may you live as long as the celestial spheres continue
to revolve; I pray of you to examine this chess board, and to lay
it before such of your people as are most distinguished for learning
and wisdom. Let them carefully deliberate, one with another;
and if they can, let them discover the principles of this wonderful
game. Let them find out the uses of the various pieces, and how
each is to be moved, and in to what particular squares. Let them
discover the laws which regulate the evolutions of this mimic
army, and the rules applicable to the Pawns, and to the Elephants,
and to the Rukhs (or warriors), and to the Horses, and to the
Farzin, and to the King. If they should succeed in discovering
the principles and expounding the practice of this rare game,
assuredly they will be entitled to admission into the number of
the wise, and in such case I promise to acknowledge myself, as
hitherto, your Majesty's tributary. On the other hand, should you
and the wise men of Iran collectively fail in discovering the nature
and principles of this cunning game, it will evince a clear proof
that you are not our equals in wisdom; and consequently you will
have no right any longer to exact from us either tribute or impost.
On the contrary we shall feel ourselves justified in demanding
hereafter the same tribute from you; for man's true greatness
consists in wisdom, not in territory, and troops, and riches, all
of which are liable to decay."

When Naushirawan had perused the letter from the Sovereign
of Hind, long did he ponder over its contents. Then he carefully
examined the chess board and the pieces and asked a few questions
of the Envoy respecting their nature and use.

The latter, in general terms, replied, Sire, what you wish to
know can be learned only by playing the game, suffice it for me,
to say, that the board represents a battle field, and the pieces
the different species of forces engaged in the combat. Then the
King said to the Envoy, grant us the space of seven days for the
purpose of deliberation; on the eighth day we engage to play with
you the game, or acknowledge our inferiority.

Then followed the assembling of the men esteemed learned and
wise, the sages of Iran, and seven days of perplexity. At last
Buzerjmihr hastened to the presence of Naushirawan and said:
"O, King of victorious destiny, I have carefully examined this
board and these pieces, and at length by your Majesty's good
fortune, I have succeeded in discovering the nature of the game.
It is a most shrewd and faithful representation of a battle field,
which it is proper your Majesty should inspect in the first place.
In the mean time let the Indian Ambassador be summoned into
the royal presence together with the more distinguished among
his retinue, also a few of the wise and learned of our own court
that they may all bear witness how we have acquitted ourselves in
accomplishing the task imposed upon us by the King of Kancj.
When Buzerjmihr had explained the evolutions of the ebony and
ivory warriors, the whole assembly stood mute in admiration and
astonishment. The Indian Ambassador was filled with mingled
vexation and surprise, he looked upon Buzerjmihr as a man
endowed with intelligence far beyond that of mere mortals, and
thus he pondered in his own mind: How could he have discovered
the nature and principles of this profound game? Can it be
possible that he has received his information from the sages of
Hind? Or is it really the result of his own penetrating research,
guided by the acuteness of his unaided judgment? Assuredly
Buzerjmihr has not this day his equal in the whole world. In the
meanwhile Naushirawan in public acknowledged the unparalleled
wisdom of his favourite Counsellor. He sent for the most costly
and massive goblet in his palace and filled the same with the
rarest of jewels. These, together with a war steed, richly
caparisoned, and a purse full of gold pieces he presented to

The other version of the first receipt of chess in Persia, based
upon eastern works and perhaps more reasonable, if not resting
upon yet better attestation, records that Burzuvia, a physician,
and the most expert that could be found in the knowledge of
languages, and art and ability in acquiring them, at the request
or command of Chosroes, King of Persia, undertook to explore the
national work of the Brahmans and the famous book, the Kurtuk
Dunmix, and the result of his mission and labours were, after
considerable research in India, the materials for and production
of the Culila Dinma, a national work greatly treasured by Chosroes
and future kings of Persia, and which work contained the art of
playing chess. This work is said to have been jointly translated
by Burzuvia and Buzerjmihr the vizier of Chosroes and it is highly
probable that the latter did assist, and thus learnt the secret, and
this seems to form the most likely solution of the circumstance of
his unraveling the mysteries of chess as alleged, without the
slightest clue, to the amazement and delight of Chosroes and his
court, when it was received as a test of wisdom and profound
secret from the King of Hind. Writers who concur in or do not
dissent from either of these accounts, yet differ as to which should
take priority in point of date, the more reasonable supposition
seems to be, that Burzuvia not unwilling to propitiate Chosroes'
favourite vizier and Counsellor, reserved his knowledge from all but
Buzerjmihr in which no doubt he exercised wise policy and did
not himself go unrewarded. The chief Counsellor and vizier of a
great King was a desirable person to conciliate in those days, and
afterwards as is abundantly proved throughout Eastern history
and dynastics from the time of Abu Bekr, Omar, Osman, Abdullah,
and the Prophet, and later from Harun, and Al Mamun (786-833)
even to the time of the enlightened Akbar, (1556-1605), continued
examples are to be found in the reigns of the rulers through all
these ages where the real sway vested in the vizier who frequently
combined a great knowledge of learning with an extraordinary
capacity for war.



The "first advantage" of which the commencement is wanting
in the M.S., turns chiefly on the benefits of food and exercise
for the mind in which chess is marked out as an active agent,
intended by its inventor to conduce to intellectual energy in
pursuit of knowledge, for as the human body is nourished by
eating which is its food, and from which it obtains life and
strength, and without which the body dies, so the mind of man is
nourished by learning which is the food of the soul, and without
which he would incur spiritual death; that is ignorance, and it is
current that a wise man's sleep is better than a fool's devotion.
The glory of man then is knowledge, and chess is the nourishment
of the mind, the solace of the spirit, the polisher of intelligence,
the bright sun of understanding, and has been preferred by the
philosopher its inventor, to all other means by which we arrive
at wisdom.

The Second Advantage is in Religion, illustrating the Muhammedan
doctrines of predestination (Sabr and Cadar) by the free
will of man in playing chess, moving when he will, or where he
will, and which piece he thinks best, but restricted in some
degree by compulsion, as he may not play against certain laws,
nor give to one piece the move of another, whereas, on the
contrary, Nerd (Eastern Backgammon) is mere free will, while in
Dice again all is compulsion. This argument is pursued at some
length in the text. Passing from this singular application of
theology to chess play, we find the Third Advantage relates to
Government, the principles of which the author declares to be
best learned from chess. The board is compared to the world,
and the adverse sets of men to two monarchs with their subjects,
each possessing one half of the world, and with true eastern
ambition desiring the other, but unable to accomplish his design
without the utmost caution and policy. Perwiz and Ardeshir are
quoted as having attributed all their wisdom of government to
the study and knowledge of chess.

The Fourth Advantage relates to war, the resemblance to which
of the mimic armies of chess, is too obvious to detain the
philosopher long.

The Fifth Advantage of chess is in its resemblance to the
Heavens. He says, the board represents the Heavens, in which
squares are the Celestial houses and the pieces Stars. The
superior pieces are assimilated to the Moving Stars, and the Pawns
which have only one movement to the Fixed Stars. The King is
as the Sun, and the Wazir in place of the Moon, and the Elephants
and Taliah in the place of Saturn; and the Rukhs and Dabbabah
in that of Mars, and the Horses and Camel in that of Jupiter,
and the Ferzin and Zarafah in that of Venus, and all these pieces
have their accidents, corresponding with the Trines and Quadrates,
and Conjunction and Opposition, and Ascendancy and Decline,
such as the heavenly bodies have, and the Eclipse of the Sun is
figured by Shah Caim or Stale Mate. This parallel is completed
by indicating the functions of the different pieces in connection
with the influence of their respective planets, and chess players
are even invited to consult Astrology in adapting their moves to
the various aspects.

The Sixth Advantage is derived from the preceding, and assigns
to each piece, according to the planet it represents, certain
physical temperaments, as the Warm, the Cold, the Wet, the Dry,
answering to the four principal movements of chess, (viz, the
Straight, Oblique, Mixed or Knights, and the Pawns move). This
system is extended to the beneficial influence of chess on the
body, prescribing it as a cure for various ailings of a lighter
kind, as pains in the head and toothache, which are dissipated by
the amusement of play; and no illness is more grievous than
hunger and thirst, yet both these, when the mind is engaged in
chess, are no longer thought of.

Advantage Seven, "In obtaining repose for the soul." The
Philosopher says, the soul hath illnesses, like as the body hath,
and the cure of these last is known, but of the soul's illness there
be also many kinds, and of these I will mention a few. The first is
Ignorance, and another is Disobedience, the third Haste, the
Fourth Cunning, the fifth Avarice, sixth Tyranny, seventh Lying,
the eighth Pride, the ninth Deceit, and Deceit is of two kinds,
that which deceiveth others, and that by which we deceive
ourselves; and the tenth is Envy, and of this also there be many
kinds, and there is no one disorder of the soul greater than
Ignorance for it is the soul's death, as learning is its life; and
for this disease is chess an especial cure, since there is no way by
which men arrive more speedily at knowledge and wisdom, and in
like manner, by its practice all the faults which form the diseases
of the soul, are converted into their corresponding virtues. Thus,
Ignorance is exchanged for learning, obstinacy for docility, and
precipitation for patience, rashness for prudence, lying for truth,
cowardice for bravery, and avarice for generosity, tyranny for
justice, irreligion for piety, deceitfulness for sincerity, hatred
for affection, emnity for friendship.

The Eighth may be called a social advantage of chess, bringing
men nearer to Kings and nobles, and as a cause of intimacy and
friendship, and also as a preventive to disputes and idleness and
vain pursuits.

The Tenth and last advantage is in combining war with sport,
the utile with the dulce, in like manner as other philosophers
have put moral in the mouths of beasts, and birds, and reptiles,
and encouraged the love of virtue and inculcated its doctrines by
allegorical writings such as the Marzaban, Namah, and Kalila wa
Dimnah, under the attractive illusion of fable.



There is scarcely any writer who has gone through so many
editions and translations as Marcus Hieronymus Vida, Bishop of
Alba. The Scacchia Ludus was published at Rome in 1527, and
since then no fewer than twenty-four editions have been published
in the original Latin, the last at London in 1813. Of translation
there have been eleven in Italian, four in French, and eight in
English, including the one ascribed to Goldsmith, which appears
in an edition of that poet's works published by Murray in 1856.
The only German translation hitherto noticed in this country is
that printed at the end of Kochs Codex (1814) but we learn from
an editorial note that the version now given in the Schachtzeitung
is by Herr Pastor Jesse, and that it was published at Hanover in
1830. It was from Vida that Sir William Jones obtained the idea
of his poem Caissa, which Mr. Peter Pratt described in his Studies
of chess as an "elegant embellishment" an "admired effusion"
and a classical offering to chess. In the Introduction is found:

To THE READER, GREETING. Strange perchance may it seem
to some (courteous Reader) that anie man should employ his time
and bestow his labour in setting out such bookes, whereby men
may learn to play, when indeede most men are given rather to
play, than to studie and travell, which were true, if it were for
the teaching of games unlawfull, as dice play, or cogging, or
falsehoods in card play, or such like, but forasmuch as this game
or kingly pastime is not only devoid of craft, fraud, and guile,
swearing, staring, impatience, fretting and falling out, but also
breedeth in the players a certaine studie, wit, pollicie, forecaste,
and memorie not only in the play thereof, but also in action of
publick government, both in peace and warre, wherein both
Counsellors at home and Captaines abroade may picke out of these
wodden pieces some prettie pollicie both how to govern their
subjects in peace, how to leade or conduct lively men in the field
in warre: for this game hath the similitude of a ranged battell,
as by placing the men and setting them forth on the march
may very easily appeare. The King standeth in the field in
middle of his army, and hath his Queene next unto him and his
Nobilitie about him, with his soldiers to defend him in the
forefront of the battell.

Sith therefore this game is pleasant to all, profitable to most,
hurtful to none. I pray thee (gentle reader) take this my labour
in good part, and thou shalt animate me hereafter to the setting
forth of deeper matters. Farewell. LUDUS SCACCHI.

Peter Pratt of Lincoln's Inn, author of the "Theory of Chess,"
(1799) a work referred to by Professor Allen, the biographer of
Philidor as "the most divertingly absurd of all chess books."
Some idea of the plan and style of the work may be obtained
from the following extract from the author's preface: "The game
of chess, though generally considered as an emblem of war (the
blood stained specie of it) seemed to him (the author) more to
resemble those less ensanguined political hostilities which take
place between great men in free countries, an idea which was at
once suggested and confirmed by observing that when one
combatant is said to have conquered another, instead of doing
anything like killing or wounding him, he only casts him from his
place and gets into it himself." Fortified in this conceit the
ingenious author converts the Pawns into Members of the House
of Commons, the Rooks into Peers, while the Queen is transformed
into a Minister, and the whole effect of this curious nomenclature
upon the notation of the games is ludicrous in the extreme.

An American view was presented in the following words, it
would probably have also have disturbed the equanimity of
Forbes like that of Pope's did (page 20).

The date to which I have referred the origin of chess will
probably astonish those persons who have only regarded it as the
amusement of idle hours, and have never troubled themselves to
peruse those able essays in which the best of antiquaries and
investigators have dissipated the cloudy obscurity which once
enshrouded this subject. Those who do not know the inherent
life which it possesses will wonder at its long and enduring career.
They will be startled to learn that chess was played before
Columbus discovered America, before Charlemagne revived the
Western Empire, before Romulus founded Rome, before Achilles
went up to the Siege of Troy, and that it is still played as widely
and as zealously as ever now that those events have been for
ages a part of history. It will be difficult for them to comprehend
how, amid the wreck of nations, the destruction of races, the
revolutions of time, and the lapse of centuries, this mere game
has survived, when so many things of far greater importance
have either passed away from the memories of men, or still exist
only in the dusty pages of the chroniclers. It owes, of course,
much of its tenacity of existence to the amazing inexhaustibility
of its nature. Some chess writers have loved to dwell upon the
unending fertility of its powers of combinations. They have
calculated by arithmetical rules the myriads of positions of which
the pieces and pawns are susceptible. They have told us that a
life time of many ages would hardly suffice even to count them.
We know, too, that while the composers of the orient and the
occident have displayed during long centuries an admirable
subtility and ingenuity in the fabrications of problems, yet the
chess stratagems of the last quarter of a century have never been
excelled in intricacy and beauty. We have witnessed, in our day
contests brilliant with skilful maneuvers unknown to the sagacious
and dexterous chess artists of the Eighteenth century.

Within the last thirty years we have seen the invention of an
opening as correct in theory, and as elegant in practice as any
upon the board, and of which our fathers were utterly ignorant.
The world is not likely to tire of an amusement which never
repeats itself, of a game which presents today, features as novel,
and charms as fresh as those with which it delighted, in the
morning of history, the dwellers on the banks of the Ganges and

An Indian philosopher thus described it:

It is a representative contest, a bloodless combat, an image, not
only of actual military operations, but of that greater warfare
which every son of the earth, from the cradle to the grave, is
continually waging, the battle of life. Its virtues are as
innumerable as the sands of African Sahara. It heals the mind in
sickness, and exercises it in health. It is rest to the overworked
intellect, and relaxation to the fatigued body. It lessens the
grief of the mourner, and heightens the enjoyment of the happy.
It teaches the angry man to restrain his passions, the light-minded
to become grave, the cautious to be bold, and the venturesome to be
prudent. It affords a keen delight to youth, a sober pleasure to
manhood, and a perpetual solace to old age. It induces the poor to
forget their poverty, and the rich to be careless of their wealth.
It admonishes Kings to love and respect their people, and instructs
subjects to obey and reverence their rulers. It shows how the
humblest citizens, by the practise of virtue and the efforts of
labour, may rise to the loftiest stations, and how the haughtiest
lords, by the love of vice and the commission of errors, may fall
from their elevated estate. It is an amusement and an art, a sport
and a science. The erudite and untaught, the high and the low,
the powerful and the weak, acknowledge its charms and confirm
its enticements. We learn to like it in the years of our youth,
but as increased familiarity has developed its beauties, and
unfolded its lessons, our enthusiasm has grown stronger, and our
fondness more confirmed.

NOTE. The earliest example of praise and censure of chess strikes
us as very curious and sufficiently interesting to be presented
as illustrating two varieties of Arabian style, and as exhibiting
two sides of the question. It is from one of the early Arabian
manuscripts called the Yawakit ul Mawakit in the collection Baron
Hammer Purgstall at Vienna.

                    By Ibn Ul Mutazz.
                    CENSURE OF CHESS.

The chess player is ever absorbed in his chess and full of care,
swearing false oaths and making many vain excuses, one who careth
only for himself and angereth his Maker. 'Tis the game of him who
keepeth the fast only when he is hungry, of the official who is in
disgrace, of the drunkard till he recovereth from his drunkenness,
and in the Yatimat ul Dehr it is said, Abul Casim al Kesrawi hated
chess, and constantly abused it, saying, you never see a chess
player rich who is not a sordid miser, nor hear a squabbling that
is not on a question of the chess board.

                    IN PRAISE OF CHESS

O thou whose cynic sneers express the censure of our favourite chess,
Know that its skill is science self, its play distraction from
It soothes the anxious lover's care, it weans the drunkard from excess,
It counsels warriors in their art, when dangers threat and perils press,
And yields us when we need them most, companions in our loneliness.


The manuscript of the Asiatic Society presented to them by
Major Price, is a curious but interesting production, the author is
unknown, but he is regarded as a very quaint individual, an
opinion perhaps not unwarranted by his preface, and many a one
(he says) has experienced a relief from sorrow, and affliction in
consequence of this magic recreation, and this same fact has been
asserted by the celebrated physician, Mohammed Zakaria Razi,
in his book, entitled "The Essence of Things," "and such is
likewise the opinion of the physician Abi Bin Firdaus as I shall
notice more fully towards the end of the present work for the
composing of which I am in the hope of receiving my reward
from God, who is most high and most glorious.

"I have passed my life since the age of fifteen among all the
masters of chess living in my time, and since that period till now,
when I have arrived at middle age, I have travelled through Irak
Arab, and Irak Ajarm, and Khurasam and the regions of Mawara
al Nahr (Transoxania), and I have there met with many a master
of this art, and I have played with all of them, and through the
favour of Him who is adorable and Most High, I have come off
victorious. Likewise in playing without seeing the board I have
overcome most opponents, nor had they the power to cope with
me. I, the humble sinner now addressing you have played with
one opponent over the board and at the same time I have
carried on four different games with as many adversaries without
seeing the board, whilst I conversed freely with my friends all
along and through the Divine favour I conquered them all."

The ten advantages of chess as set forth by the anonymous
author of the Asiatic Society's M.S. form the most remarkable
specimens of chess criticism. The first discusses it as food and
exercise for the mind, the second, he says is in Religion and free
will, 3 relates to Government, 4 to war, 5 to the Heavens
and stars, 6 to the Temperaments, 7 in obtaining repose, 8
The social advantage of chess, 9 Wisdom and knowledge, 10,
In combining war with sport.

Advantage the ninth is in wisdom and knowledge, and that
wise men do play chess, and to those who object that foolish men
also play chess, and though constantly engaged in it, become no
wiser, it may be answered, that the distinction between wise and
foolish men in playing chess, is as that of man and beast in eating
of the tree, that the man chooses its ripe and sweet fruit, while
the beast eats but the leaves and branches, and the unripe and
bitter fruit, and so it is with players of chess. The wise man
plays for those virtues and advantages which have been already
mentioned, and the foolish man plays it for mere sport and gambling,
and regards not its advantages and virtues. Thus may be seen,
one man who breaks the stone of the fruit and eats the kernel,
while another will even skin it to obtain the innermost part, and
in pursuit of knowledge men do likewise. One man is content
with the exterior and apparent meaning of the words, nor seeks
its hidden sense, and this is the man who eats the fruit and throws
away the kernel. Another desires to be acquainted with the
secret and inmost meaning that he may enjoy the whole benefit
of it, and he is like unto the man who takes out the very oil of
the nut, and mixes it with sugar and makes therewith a precious
sweetmeat, which he eats and throws away the rest. This is the
condition of the wise man, and the foolish man in playing chess.

The game of chess received by the Arabians from the Persians
was differently regarded by the various sects, some practising,
others disapproving it. Familiar references occur to it in the
time of the Prophet, who died 632 A.D. Commentators considered
that a passage in the Koran concerning lots and images embraced
chess within the meaning of the latter term. The words are "O
true believers, surely wine, and lots, and images, and divining
arrows are an abomination of the works of Satan, therefore avoid
ye them that ye may prosper."

Mussulman commentators supposed that the interdict applied
not to the game itself in which chance had no part, but to the
carved figures, representing the pieces, Men, Horses, Elephants,

According to Sokeiker of Damascus, the author of the book
Mustatraph and others, it is related from the Sunna. That about
the time of Mahomet they played in the East at chess with figured
men. As Ali accidentally passed by some men playing at chess
he said to them, "What are these small images upon which ye are
so intent." From which it appears says the historian, the
Prophet saw small images of which he knew not the use. The
Mahometans of the Persian sect, it is said, used figures, and the
Turks and Arabians plain pieces.

The Arabians had among them very expert chess players.

The progress of chess from Persia to Arabia plainly appears
from the number of Persian words which are never used by the
Arabians except in this game. The Elephants which held a place
in it, and the Chariot, Ship, or Boat, original terms for the Bishop
of our game are among the proofs adduced of its Indian origin
which neither European nor Asiatic writers seem to doubt, whilst
with chess players the agreement in principle and identity of
pieces in the present game with the ancient Chaturanga is deemed
almost conclusive.

Al Suli, who died in 946 is recorded to have been the greatest
player among the Arabians. Adali al Rumi was also a player of
the very highest class, both of these as well as Abul Abbas a
physician, who died in 899, and Lajlaj in the same age wrote
treatises on the game. Ibn Dandun and Al Kunaf, both of
Bagdad were of the first class, called Aliyat.

NOTE. Khusra Naushirawan, King of Persia, who reigned 528 to 576
(Anna Comnena, Lambe) or 531 to 579 (Forbes and biographers) seems
to be the first Royal patron of chess and if we consider the
accounts of Alexander the Great, and his contemporary Indian
Kings insufficiently vouched Shahnama, (Asiatic Society's M.S.),
ranks as our earliest reigning great patron, (Justinian perhaps
coming next). Al Walid, conqueror of Spain, 705 to 715 A.D. is
the first mentioned among Arabian rulers before the famous Harun Ar
Rashid. The enlightened, mild and humane Al Mamun (second son of
Harun) the great patron of science, comes seventh on the list, and
is supposed to have been the most enthusiastic and liberal of all
the Khalifs, and we are told that it was a happy thing for any
worthy man of learning or scholar to become known to him. "Unluckily
it is said for Oriental literature, but few of the Arabian treasures
have been preserved, and of those that have, scarcely any are
translated," but there are abundant references to shew that some
of the most powerful Eastern rulers were chess players, (Gibbon
and others and Eastern historians) and probably as has been
suggested, (Lambe, Bland, Forbes, &c., &c.,) many of them were
devoted to or partial to the game, list of the Khalifs, Sultans,
Emperors and Kings of the East, Africa, Spain and at times of
Egypt and Persia, from Abu Bekr 632 to 1212 A.D. (the great battle)
which finally overthrew the Moorish ascendancy.

The versions of Persian Chess. Burzuvia 1, King of Hind 2.


Abu Feda, who is regarded as one of the most reliable historians
in the annals of the Muslims, records the following letter from
Nicephorus, Emperor of the Romans to Harun, "Sovereign of
the Arabs," the date given being about 802 A.D.

After the usual compliments the epistle proceeds:

"The Empress (Irene) into whose place I have succeeded
looked upon you as a Rukh, and herself as a mere Pawn,
therefore she submitted to pay you a tribute more than the double
of which she ought to have exacted from you. All this has
been owing to female weakness and timidity. Now, however,
I insist that you immediately on reading this letter repay to me
all the sums of money you ever received from her. If you
hesitate, the sword shall settle our accounts."

In reply to this pithy epistle, Harun in great wrath wrote on
the back of the leaf:

"`In the name of God the Merciful and Gracious.' From
Harun the Commander of the Faithful to the Roman dog,

"I have read thine epistle, thou son of an infidel mother. My
answer to it thou shalt see not here. Nicephorus had to sue for
peace, and to pay the tribute as before."

The above is adduced as tending to confirm by the familiar
allusion to Rukh and Pawn that the game was known to the
Greeks and Arabians in the eighth century.

NOTE. The unknown Persian philosopher in his M.S. presented by
Major Price, the eminent Orientalist to the Asiatic Society
attributes the invention of chess to Hermes, who lived in the
time of Moses. This M.S. which is the one upon which Bland mainly
bases his admirable treatise on Persian Chess is imperfect, many
pages being missing, including that in which the title, name of
author and date would doubtless appear if the M. S. was perfect,
what exists however is singularly curious and interesting. It
commences with a description of the author himself, and his
prowess and achievements. It then sets forth under ten headings
the advantages of chess, explains its terms, and describes it
fully, gives the names of great players with many positions,
including some of Al Mutasem, eighth Khalif of Abbaside, (833 to
842) and 18 by Ali Shaturanji the Philidor of Timur's time. Bland
assigns about the Tenth century, between the time of the death of
Al Razi the physician of Bagdad, and that of the poet Firdausi, as
the age of the document. Forbes strongly contends that it was
more probably written in the time of Tamerlane, between 1380 and
1400 A.D. and hints that it may have been prepared to please that
monarch himself with an illustration of the great game called the
Complete or Perfect Chess of Timur (with 56 pieces and 112 squares)
to which he had become much attached. Blindfold play by the author
and others is described in the M.S. as well as the giving of odds,
there being no less than thirteen grades of players enumerated.

Anna Comnena was born 1083 and died 1148, she was the daughter of
the Emperor "Alexis Comnenus" and "The Empress Irene." During the
latter years of her life she composed a work to which she gave
the name of Alexius, which is divided into 15 books, and has
been more or less esteemed by critics, generally, and is called
a memorable work by all.

The Biographical Dictionary 1842 describes it as one of the most
important and interesting works of the time, and the chief source
for the life of Alexius I, mention is made of her great beauty and
extraordinary talents, also of her learning, and that her palace
was the rendezvous of the most eminent Greek scholars, poets,
artists, and statesmen, and was surrounded by many of the
distinguished barons of the first Crusaders, on their appearance
at Constantinople; reference is made to her attachment to arts and
sciences, but as to chess or music, or the diversions, or recreations,
common to the period, or favoured at the Court not one word is said,
and this seems very remarkable, as due prominence is given to her
notice of chess by chess writers. The article is initialed W. P.
William Plate, L.L.D., M.R., Geographical Society of Paris. This
gentleman may have been unacquainted with chess, and so may Don
Pascual de Gayangos and Dr. Sprenger, the other writers in the
Biography, but it happens that many of the articles in the same
volume are by Duncan Forbes, who in other works so prominently
makes due mention of Anna Comnena and her references to chess, and
the fact that her father Alexius was in the habit of playing
the game.

We are told by Hyde that the Princess Anna Comnena relates, in
the Alexius a work written by her in the beginning of the 12th
century, "that the Emperor (Alexius), her father, in order to
dispel the cares arising from affairs of state, occasionally
played chess at night with some of his relations or kinsfolk.
She then says that this game had been originally brought into use
among the Byzantines from the Assyrians." The fair historian says
nothing as to the time when the game came from Assyria, which may
have been five centuries before she wrote, her statement, however,
proves that it came from Persia, and not from Arabia, for Assyria
formed an important portion of the Persian Empire under the
Sassassian dynasty, and in fact was for some centuries a kind of
debatable land, and alternately occupied by the Persians and Romans,
according as victory swayed to one side or the other. The term
Assyria, then, denoting Persia in general, is used here in a well
known figurative sense "per synecdechen," a part taken for the
whole, just as the term Fers is employed to at this day to denote
the whole of Persia, whereas it is only the name of a single
insignificant province of that kingdom. Finally, the once splendid
empire of Assyria, of Media, and of Persia, had all passed away
long before Anna Comnena wrote, so that one name is just as
likely to be employed by her as another. (Forbes.)


The European origin of chess, or rather the supposed time of
its first introduction through the Arabs into Spain 713, 715,
though resting on a general consensus of agreement may yet prove
to be ill matured, for though it is clear that Spain did get
knowledge of it at the conquest and occupancy during Al Walid's
reign by the armies under Musa Ibn Nosseyr and Tarik Ibn Yeyzad
it is not so certain, if the Romans were acquainted with it at
the time of the edict, 830 years earlier, that it may not have
been known in some parts of Europe before the time supposed,
besides which we have the Asiatic Society's statement, through
its Persian M.S., and from the Shahnama applicable to Alexander
the Great's time, and the Indian Kings in treaty with him.

The commonly accepted theory, that England first got chess
through William of Normandy at the Conquest or on the return
of the first Crusaders (in the latter case about 1100 A.D.),
though concurred in with tolerable unanimity by all writers until
Sir Frederic Madden raised his doubts in 1828 also appears scarcely
consistent with previous incidents found on record. Canute's
partiality for chess (he reigned 1017 to 1035) events mentioned
in the reigns of Athelstan and Edgar and the chess pieces and
boards we read of including those dug up at the Isle of Lewis,
and of Pepin, Charlemagne, Harfagia, King of Norway, and in
Iceland seem to be unnoticed or too slightly regarded by those
who wrote on assumed Saxon or English chess, first knowledge.
The period assigned for chess in England is 500 years later than its
arrival in Persia, and subsequent receipt in Arabia, and probably
in Greece, and nearly 400 years after its practice among the
Spaniards, the Aquitaines and the Franks. The Saxon monarchs
who first became most given to the search after knowledge of all
kinds and who were acquainted with and contemporary with
Pepin and Charlemagne and Harun and the great Al Mamun may
well have heard of and acquired some knowledge of a game so
popular as chess had become at the Carlovingian and Greek
Courts, and in the Eastern dominions and Mohammedan Spain.

The reigns of Offa and Egbert seem not improbable ones in
which chess might have become known among us, the scholar
Alcuin from his long sojourn and domestication with Charlemagne
and his family, by all of whom he was revered and beloved, was
familiar with that monarch's tastes and amusements. He was in fact
his preceptor in the sciences. By arrangement with Charlemagne he
paid a visit to his native country, England, during the years 790
to 793 A.D., he probably knew chess and was familiar with the
celebrated chess men which the Emperor valued so much, and
have been reported on in our own times, and he seems the least
unlikely person to have noticed and assisted in encouraging a
judicious practice of it in England. Offa also corresponded with
Charlemagne. Egbert took refuge at his Court before he began to
reign and was well received, and for a time served in the
Emperor's army, and that those kings may have known of
the royal game, through Alcuin, or even direct is not impossible
or even improbable.

H. T. Buckle, the author and historian, (born 1822, died at
Damascus in 1862) foremost in skill among chess amateurs,
satisfied with the evidence of Canute's partiality for the game
thought it very probable that it might have been known before
the commencement of that monarch's reign (1016), and suggested
perhaps a century earlier. Sir Frederick Madden (1828 to 1832)
at the outset of some highly interesting communications to the
"Asiatic Researches," at first inclined to the Crusaders' theory,
but upon later consideration in his articles he arrived at the
conclusion that chess must have been known among us as early as
the reign of Athelstan (925 to 940), and Professor Duncan Forbes
(1854 to 1860) concurred in that view, both writers regard the
incident related of the Earl of Devonshire and his beautiful
daughter being found playing chess together, when Earl
Athelwold, King Edgar's messenger arrived to test the report of
her great beauty as not unworthy of credit. Edgar reigned from
958 to 975. English history referring to this incident among the
amours of Edgar makes no mention of the Earl of Devonshire and
his daughter being found playing chess together. Hume says
Elfrida was daughter and heir of Olgar (Orgar), Earl of
Devonshire, and though she had been educated in the country and had
never appeared in Court she had filled all England with the
reputation of her beauty. The mission of Earl Athelwold, his
deception of the King and his own marriage with Elfrida follows,
next the King's discovery, the murder of Athelwold by the King,
and his espousal of Elfrida.

This incident in Edgar's reign with some in Athelstan's,
including the present to Harold Harfagra, King of Norway, of a
very fine and rich chess table, and the account and description of
seventy chessmen of different sizes, belonging to various sets, dug
up in the parish of Uig, Isle of Lewis, are mentioned among the
matters which cause the impression and assumption that a
knowledge of chess had existed in the north of Europe, and in
England earlier than the Conquest days assigned to it by all
writers before Madden's views of 1832 appeared.

So early as the Eighth century some courtesies began to be
extended and enquiries made between contemporary monarchs on
theological, scientific, and social matters. The presents received
by the Carlovingian rulers from Constantinople and the East
included the chess equipages deposited and preserved as sacred
relics in France, which had belonged to Pepin and to Charlemagne.
The latter was contemporary with the famous Harun Ar Rashid
of Bagdad and Princess Irene and her successor Emperor
Nicephorus of Constantinople. Greetings and embassies passed
between them.

Offa corresponded with Charlemagne and despatched the
scholar Alcuin to assist him in refuting certain religious
heresies (as alleged) propounded by one Felix, a bishop of
Urgel. Egbert, we read, took refuge at Charlemagne's Court,
was well received by him and served for a time in his army.
Alcuin was the preceptor and became the life-long friend and
adviser of Charlemagne, was domesticated with him and greatly
revered in his family. 232 letters of Alcuin's are referred to
in Forbes' edition.

The Emperor's taste for chess, his celebrated chessmen and
his communications on scientific and social matters with the East
and elsewhere could be no secrets to Alcuin.

Charlemagne seems to have fancied himself at chess, and from
his avidity to find an opponent Alcuin may have been induced to
test conclusions of chess skill with him. On his visit to England
in 793 Alcuin brought his knowledge with him and he is the
least unlikely person to have noticed chess and to have assisted
in diffusing a knowledge of it in England.

Egbert, a young man of the most promising hopes gave
great jealously to Brithric, the reigning prince, both because he
seemed by his birth better entitled to the crown, and because he
had acquired, to an eminent degree the affections of the people.
Egbert, sensible of his danger from the suspicions of Brithric,
secretly withdrew into France where he was well received by
Charlemagne. By living in the Court, and serving in the armies
of that prince, the most able and most generous that had appeared
in Europe during several ages, he acquired those accomplishments
which afterwards enabled him to make such a shining figure on the
throne, and familiarizing himself to the manners of the French,
who, as Malmesbury observes, were eminent, both for valour and
civility above all the Western Nations, he learned to polish the
rudeness and barbarity of the Saxon character, his early
misfortunes thus proved a singular advantage to him.



In the second volume of the "History of British India," by
James Mill, Esq., we are told that the Araucanians invented the
game of chess.

Forbes sums up an article upon this claim by saying, "We must
in charity suppose that Mr. Mill really knew nothing of chess,
whether Hindu, Persian, or Chinese."

Professor Wilson's opinion of Mr. Mill's work is better worth
recording. "History of British India," by James Mill, Esq.,
fourth edition, with notes and continuation, by Horace Hayman
Wilson, M.A., F.R.S., &c., London 1840, 9 vols., 8 vo., Vide
Preface by Professor Wilson, page vii, &c.

Of the proofs which may be discovered in Mr. Mill's history of
the operation of preconceived opinions, in confining a vigorous
and active understanding to a partial and one-sided view of a
great question, no instance is more remarkable than the
unrelenting pertinacity with which he labours to establish the
barbarism of the Hindus. Indignant at the exalted, and it may
be granted, sometimes exaggerated descriptions of their advance
in civilization, of their learning, their sciences, their talents,
their virtues which emanated from the amiable enthusiasm of Sir
William Jones, Mr. Mill has entered the lists against him with
equal enthusiasm, but a less commendable purpose, and has sought
to reduce them as far below their proper level as their encomiasts
may have formerly elevated them above it. With very imperfect
knowledge, with materials exceedingly defective, with an implicit
faith in all testimony hostile to Hindu pretensions, he has
elaborated a portrait of the Hindus which has no resemblance
whatever to the original, and which almost outrages humanity.
As he represents them, the Hindus are not only on a par with the
least civilized nations of the old and new world, but they are
plunged almost without exception in the lowest depths of
immorality and crime. Considered merely in a literary capacity,
the description of the Hindus, in the history of British India is
open to censure for its obvious unfairness and injustice, but in
the effect which it is likely to exercise upon the connexion
between the people of England and the people of India, it is
chargeable with more than literary element, its tendency is evil,
it is calculated to destroy all sympathy between the rulers and
the ruled.

A writer in Fraser's Magazine, observes: "The native
of India is defective in that mental and moral energy, that
restless enterprise, which distinguishes the Anglo Saxon genius,
and which gives him such a preponderance over the impassive
and contemplative Oriental, but, on the other hand, the
native of India possesses in a high degree that acute perception
and common sense strengthened by numerical traditions and
maxims, which enable him to judge correctly of both the acts and
motives of his Foreign superior. It should be recollected to their
credit, that the germ of almost every known invention, the
original idea of nearly every useful secret in arts, the knowledge
of the highest branches of the abstract sciences, had been familiar
to the wise men of the East, and were taught in the most perfect
language in the world, the mother of all other languages, the

The anonymous or rather unknown author of the Asiatic
Society's M.S. often declares that the Hindus were far too stupid
a people to have invented chess.



The inventor as some authors declare, and among them Jacobus
de Cessolus, a Friar and Master of the Dominican Order, is Xerxes,
a philosopher and minister of Ammolius, King of Babylon whose
object was to admonish his monarch of the errors that had been
committed in the government of the realm. This opinion is
followed by many, of whom the author of the Historia del Mondo
is one. St. Gregory of Nazianzen in his third oration, Cassiodorus
the Great in his thirty-first epistle and eighth book, Allesandri
Allesandro in the third book and twenty first chapter of his Dies
Geniales, Torquato Tasso in his Romeo del Gioco, Thomas Actius
in his Tractatus de Ludo Scaccherum, and other legal authors who
have treated of play, say that chess owes its origin to Palamedes
who at the siege of Troy, employed it in order that his soldiers
should not remain inactive, and not being able to practice actual
warfare, they might amuse themselves with mimic conflicts. For
which reason Palamedes played it with Thersites, as Homer tells
us in the second book of the Iliad, so also did the other heroes
of the Grecian armies, as is related by Euripides in his tragedies.

Carrera 1617, published a large volume concerning the origin
of chess, in which he attempts to prove from Herodotus,
Euripides, Sophocles, Philostratus, Homer, Virgil, Aristotle,
Seneca, Plato, Ovid, Horace, Quintilian, and Martial Vida, that
Palamedes invented chess at the siege of Troy.

The Encyclopaedia or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences,
dedicated to the King in 1727, contains an account of chess, but
it is neither a well informed nor useful article beyond the
statement that Schach is originally Persian, and that Schachmat in
that language, signifies the king is dead, it vouchsafes neither
reasonable nor useful information.

The traditionary names mentioned in the article are Schatrinscha
a Persian philosopher, Palamedes, Diogenes and Pyrrhus, its
authorities, Nicod, Bochart, Scriverius, Fabricius, and Donates,
and it concludes with a sample of the stereotyped character, with
which we are so familiar of the trace of chess origin, being lost
in the remote ages of antiquity. Chess is thus described in it:

"An ingenious game, played or performed with little round
pieces of wood, on a board divided into 64 squares, where art and
address are so indispensably requisite, that chance seems to have
no place, and a person never loses but by his own fault. On
each side are eight noblemen and as many pawns, which are to be
moved and shifted, according to certain rules and laws of the

The same work specifies the various ancient opinions upon the
origin of the game, inclining to those of Nicod and Bochart,
supported by Scriverius, who state that Schach is originally
Persian, and Schachmat in that language signifies the king dead.

Another opinion is that of all the theories enunciated, the most
probable is that of Fabricius, who avers that a celebrated Persian
astronomer, one Schatrinscha, invented the game, and gave it his
own name, which it still bears in that country. It adds, Donatus
observes, that Pyrrhus the most knowing and expert prince of his
age, ranging a battle, made use of the men at chess, to form his
designs, and to shew the secrets thereof to other. The common
opinion was that it was invented by Palamedes at the siege of
Troy, others attributed it to Diomedes, who lived in the time of
Alexander, but the text concludes by remarking, "The truth
appears to be that the game is so very ancient, there is no tracing
its author."



In the Fourteenth and Fifteenth centuries, chess continued to be
extremely popular, Chaucer in one of his minor poems "The
Boke of the Duchesse," introduces himself in a dream as playing
at chess with Fortune, and speaks of false moves, as though
dishonest tricks were sometimes practised in the game.
He tells us:

          At chesse with me she gan to playe,
          With her fals draughts (moves) dyvers,
          She staale on me and toke my fers (Queen),
          And wharne I sawe my fers awaye,
          Allas I couthe no longer playe,
          But seyde, farewell swete yuys,
          And farewell ul that ever ther ys,
          Therwith fortune seyde Chek here,
          And mayte in the myd poynt of the Chek here, (chess board)
          WIth a paune (pawn) errante allas,
          Ful craftier to playe she was,
          Than Athalus that made the game,
          First of the chesse, so was hys name.
            (ROBERT BELL)-CHAUCER, Vol. VI. p. 157.



Barbiere 1640, in his work, "The famous game of chess play,"
dedicated to Lucy, Countess of Bedford, observes:

"For the antiquity of this game, I find upon record, that it was
invented 614 years before the Nativity of Christ, so that it is now
2,252 years since it hath been practiced, and it is thought that
Xerxes (a puissant King) was the deviser thereof, though some be
of opinion that it was made by excellent learned men, as well
appeareth by the wonderful invention of the same."

The title is quaintly expressed.

The famous game of chesse play, "Being a princely exercise
wherein the learner may profit more by reading of this small book,
than by playing of a thousand mates. Now augmented by many
material things formerly wanting and beautified by a threefold
methode of the Chesse men, of the Chesse play, of the Chesse
                    by J. BARBIERE, P.
To which is added representation of a chesse board and pieces,
with two players thereat, in the act of drawing for the move with
the following lines:

          "If on your man you light,
          The first draught you may play,
          If not tis mine by right,
          At first to leade the way.

Printed in London, for John Jackson, dwelling without Temple
Barre, 1460.

The introduction is in the following words:

                 The Right
Honourable, Thrice Noble, and Vertuous Lady,
Lucy Countesse of Bedford, one of the Ladies of Her
Majesties Privie Chamber.

This little book, not so much for the subject sake (though much
esteemed), as for bearing in front your Honour's honoured name
having found that good acceptance with the world, as now to come
to be re-imprinted. I have been desired by the printer, my friend,
little to review it, and finding it indeed a prettie thing, but with
some wants specially or a good methode, I have to my best skill
rectified it for him, leaving to the author (now deceased), with
the good respect and commendation due to him for his honest and
generous endeavour, his phrase and stile whole as farre as I might
of this Madame, I now presume to offer your Honour the censure
whose singular judgment, and love in and unto this noble
exercise, is reported to be a chief grace to the same, that so both
his labour and mine herein, may returne to the sacred Shrine of
your Honour's vertues, there still to receive protection against
ignorance and malice.

For which attempt of mine, humbly craving pardon I rest,
          Noble Madame of Your Honour,
   The most submissive observant, J. BARBIERE, P.



The earliest English references to chess, are in the works of
Chaucer, Gower, Occreve, Price, Denham, Sir Philip Sydney, Sir
Walter Raleigh, &c.

John Lydgate the English Monk of St. Edmund's-Bury, calls
this game, the Game Royal, and he dedicates his book, written in
the manner of a love poem, to the admirers of chess, which he
compares to a love battle, in the following words: M.S.

            JOHN LYDGATE.

          To all Folky's vertuose,
          That gentil bene and amerouse,
          Which love the fair play notable,
          Of the Chesse most delytable,
          Whith all her hoole full entente,
          Where they shall fynde, and son anoone,
          How that I not yere agoone,
          Was of a Fers so Fortunate,
          Into a corner drive and maat.

The old English names in Lydgate, are 1, Kynge, 2, Queen or
Fers, 3, Awfn, or Alfin, 4, Knyght, or Horseman, 5, Roke or
Rochus, 6, Paune.

Although Shakespeare makes no mention of chess in his works,
some of his brother dramatists, and other writers who were
contemporary with him, were fond of referring to it. Skelton, poet
laureate to Henry the Eighth, says:

          For ye play so at the chesse,
          As they suppose and guess,
          That some of you but late,
          Hath played so checkmate,
          With Lords of High estate,
        And again,
          Our dayes be datyed,
          To be check matyed.

Many other poets and writers of that age, drew similes and
figures of speech from the chess board, including Spencer, Cowley,
Denham, Beaumont and Fletcher, quaint Arthur Saul and John

Middleton's Comedy of Chesse, 1624, was acted at the Globe.
It was however a sort of religious controversy, the game being
played by a member of the Church of England, and another of
the Church of Rome, the former in the end gaining the victory.
The play being considered too political, the author was cast into
prison, from which he obtained his release by the following
petition to the King.

          A harmless game, coyned only for delight,
          T'was played betwixt the black house and the white,
          The white house won, yet still the black doth brag,
          They had the power to put me in the bag,
          Use but your hand, tw'll set me free,
          T'is but removing of a man, that's me.

Philidor states in his work that historians have commemorated
the following Sovereigns as chess players: Charlemagne,
Tamerlane, Sebastian, King of Portugal, Philip II King of
Spain, The Emperor Charles V, Catherine of Medecis, Queen of
France, Pope Leo X, Henry IV of France, Queen Elizabeth,
Louis XIII, James I of England (who used to call the game a
philosophical folly,) Louis XIV, William III, Charles XII, and
Frederick of Russia.

Of these, Charlemagne, who reigned 768 to 814 is the earliest
name. Tamerlane or Timur who dominated at the end of the
14th century is the next. The remainder date from the 16th

To this list the renowned and esteemed Philidor might have
made some very material additions. If the first Indian account
of Kings, Kaid and Porus, in Alexander the Great's time, is to
be relied on, the Macedonian conqueror who was in friendly
alliance with Porus in 326 B.C., might have become acquainted
with chess, and Aristotle, some time his tutor, may have played
it as supposed in one of the Arabian manuscripts. Chosroes,
King of Persia, who reigned from 531 to 579, Harun Ar Rashid,
786 to 809, Al Amin, his first son, 809 to 813, the magnificent
Al Mamun, his second son, 813 to 833, Al Mutasem, the most
skilful player among the rulers, 833 to 842, and Al Wathick,
842 to 847, the five successive Caliphs of the powerful Abbasside
dynasty, during the palmy period called the Golden Age of
Arabian Literature, are identified with a very interesting period
of chess practice and progress, and are all recorded to have been
chess players. Al Walid the Sixth, of Umeyyah, 705 to 715,
who through his generals, Tarik Ibn Zeyyad and Musa Ibn
Nosseyr and their armies invaded, conquered and occupied Spain,
is the earliest ruler we read of as a chess player after its first
great friend and patron Chosroes, but it is pretty certain that
Justinian, who died in 565, and was contemporary with Chosroes,
was also an exponent and supporter of the game.

Of the one hundred and sixty monarchs who ruled the East
Africa and Spain from the days of Bekr, Omar, and the Prophet to
the downfall of Moorish ascendancy in the middle of the
Thirteenth century, we read of several who emulated the tastes
of their most famous predecessors, and the Rahmans, Mansur and
An Nassirs vied with Harun and Al Mamum in their patronage
and encouragement of all sorts of learning arts and sciences.
Of the powerful Abbasside dynasty which lasted from 749 to 1258,
there were 37 Caliphs whose chess doings and sayings alone
would, it is said fill a good-sized volume.

NOTE. In addition to the 37 of Abbas and 14 of Umeyyah 664 to 749,
there were 17 of Beni Umeyyah 755 to 1030, there were 14 Fatimites,
893 to 1169, 5 Almmoravides (exclusive of Abdullah, the founder),
the Mahdi, 1059 to 1145, 13 Almohades, 1130 to 1269, and 8 Sultans
of Almowat, 1095 to 1256. These with about 52 other rulers,
Sultans, Emperors or Kings of Cordova, Toledo, Seville, Khorassan,
Valentia and Badajoz, make up a list of about 160 rulers, who
swayed the East Africa and Mohammedan Spain for about 650 years.
The Moors after suffering great defeats in 1085 and 1139 received
a final check in the great battle of 1212, and in 1248 when
Ferdinand III of Castile took Seville their powers of aggression
had vanished.

NOTE. Abbasides is the name generally given to the Beni Abbas or
descendants of Abbas, who succeeded the Beni Umeyyah in the
Empire of the East. Owing to their descent from the uncle of the
Prophet, they had ever since the introduction of Islam been held
in great esteem by the Arabs, and had frequently aspired to the
Khalifate. In the year 132, A.D. 749-750, Abul-abbas Abdullah,
son of Mohammed, son of Ali, son of Abdullah, son of Abbas Ibn
Aldi-l-Mutalib, uncle of the Prophet Mohammed, revolted at Kujah,
and after putting to death Merwan II, the last Khalif of the house
of Umeyyah, was unanimously raised to the throne. Thirty-seven
Khalifs of the dynasty of Abbas reigned for a period of 523 lunar
or Mohammedan years over the East (Spain, Africa and Egypt)
having been successively detached from their Empire, until the
last of them, Al Mut'assem, was deprived both of his kingdom and
his life by the Tartars under Hulaku Khan, 1258.

NOTE. The Khalif Al Mamum was one day playing with one of his
courtiers, who moved negligently and in a careless manner, the
Khalif perceived it and got wrath, and turned over the board and
men, and said: "He wants to deceive me and practice on my
understanding; and he vowed on earth that this person should never
play with him again." In like manner, it is related of Walid ben
Abdul Malik ben Merwan, that on an occasion when one of his
courtiers, who used to play with him negligently at chess,
omitted to follow the proper rules of the game, the Khalif
struck him a blow with the Ferzin (or Queen) which broke his
head, saying: "Woe unto thee! Art thou playing chess, and art
thou in thy senses."

NOTE. The 37th and last Khalif of Abbaside, was dethroned and put
to death by Hulaku. the son of Genghis Khan in 1258, when the
Tartars were also sorely troubling part of the Christian world,
and frightening the Popes. Unluckily for Oriental Literature we
are told, scarcely any of the comparatively few works of the
"Golden Age of Arabian Literature" saved from destruction, have
been translated or made known to us, but we may conclude that of
the one hundred and sixty rulers, not a few emulating Harun, Mamun,
Walid and Mutasem, were more or less like them, devoted to the
game. The powerful Abbaside Dynasty lasted from 749 to 1258, and
there were 37 Khalifs of that race, the chess sayings and doings
of whom alone, it is said, would fill a good-size volume, chess
has had to contend against the consideration that the greatest
historians and biographers, with the exception of Cunningham and
Forbes, and perhaps Gibbon were not players, hence what we do
possess is gathered from scattered allusion, incidental and
accidental rather than sustained or connected narrative or
biographical notice. Canute the Dane, 1016-1035, William the First,
and other English Kings, not so well attested, are absent from
Philidor's list. Henry I, John, two of the Edwards, I and IV,
and Charles I are identified with the chess incidents. Accounts
of Henry VII and Henry VIII, contain items of expense connected
with the game. The bluff king it is said played chess, as Wolsey
and Cranmer did, and as Pitt, and Wilberforce, and Sunderland,
Bolingbroke and Sydney Smyth have in our generations. The vain and
tyrant king, like the Ras of Abyssinia, who we hear of through
Salt and Buckle much preferred winning, and was probably readily
accommodated. Less magnanimous and wise, these two, Henry and Ras,
did not in this respect resemble Al Mamun and Tamerlane, whom Ibn
Arabshah, Gibbon and others tell us, had no dislike to being beaten,
but rather honored their opponents. The chessmen of Henry VIII were
last heard of in the possession of Sir Thomas Herbert, those of
Charles I were with Lord Barrington. Chess men were kept for Queen
Elizabeth's use by Lord Cecil, the Earl of Leicester, and Sir
John Harrington.

In olden times as supposed, Alexander the Great, perhaps from
acquaintance with India and its Kings, and their powerful Porus,
326 B.C., may have known chess and possibly Aristotle, sometime his
tutor, who some say, invented chess, also played it. The most
ancient names are the renowned Prince Yudhistheira, eldest son of
King Pandu of the Sanskrit chess period, the yet earlier Prince
Nala of the translated poems, and further back we have the Brahmin
Radha Kants account from the old Hindu law book, that the wife of
Ravan, King of Lanka, Ceylon, invented chess in the second age of
the world. Associated with games not chess, but more like Draughts
in China, there are Emperor Yao, 2300 B.C., Wa Wung 1122 B.C.,
Confucius 551 B.C., Hung Cochu, 172 B.C, and in Egypt, Queen Hatasu
about 1750 B.C., Amenoph II, 1687 to 1657 B.C., and Rameses IV
1559 to 1493 B.C.

NOTE. The Throne, Cartouche, Signet, and other relics. The
Draught Box and Draughtsmen of Queen Hatasu in the Manchester
Exhibition 1887. Date B.C. 1600. The catalogue says: These
remarkable relics, the workmanship of royal artists 3,500
years ago, i.e., 200 years before the birth of Moses, are now
being exhibited for the first time, by the kind permission of
their owner, Jesse Haworth, Esq. Queen Hatasu was the favourite
daughter of Thotmes I, and the sister of Thotmes II and III,
Egyptian Kings of the XVIII dynasty. She reigned conjointly with
her eldest brother, then alone for 15 years, and for a short time
with her younger brother, Thotmes III. She was the Elizabeth of
Egyptian history: had a masculine genius and unbounded ambition.
A woman, she assumed male attire; was addressed as a king even in
the inscriptions upon her monument. Her edifices are said to be
"the most tasteful, most complete and brilliant creations which
ever left the hands of an Egyptian architect." The largest and
most beautifully executed obelisk; still standing at Karnak, bears
her name. On the walls of her unique and beautiful temple at Dayr
el Baharee, we see a naval expedition sent to explore the unknown
land of Punt, the Somali country on the East coast of Africa near
Cape Guardafui 600 years before the fleets of Solomon, and
returning laden with foreign woods, rare trees, gums, perfumes
and strange beasts. Here we have 1. Queen Hatasu's throne, made of
wood foreign to Egypt, the legs most elegantly carved in imitation
of the legs of an animal, covered with gold down to the hoof,
finishing with a silver band. Each leg has carved in relief two
Uroei, the sacred cobra serpent of Egypt, symbolic of a goddess.
These are plated with gold. Each arm is ornamented with a serpent
curving gracefully along from head to tail, the scales admirably
imitated by hundreds of inlaid silver rings. The only remaining
rail is plated with silver. The gold and silver are of the
purest quality.

2. A fragment of the Cartouche or oval bearing the royal name, and
once attached to the Throne; the hieroglyphics are very elegantly
carved in relief, with a scroll pattern round the edge, and around
one margin, and a palm frond pattern around the other. About one
fourth of the oval remains, by means of which our distinguished
Egyptologist, Miss Amelia B. Edwards, L.L.D., has been able to
complete the name and identify the throne. On one side is the
great Queen's throne name, Ru-ma-ka. On the other the family name,
Amen Knum Hat Shepsu, commonly read Hatasu. With all its
imperfections it is unique, being the only throne which has ever
been disinterred in Egypt.

3. A female face boldy, but exquisitely carved in dark wood, from
the lid of a coffin, the effigy strongly resembling the face of
the sitting statue of Hatasu in the Berlin Museum: the eyes and
double crown are lost.

4. The Signet: This is a Scarabaeus, in turquoise bearing the
Cartouche of Queen Hatasu, once worn as a ring.

5. The Draught Box and Draughtmen: The box is of dark wood,
divided on its upper side by strips of ivory into 30 squares, on
its under side into 20 squares, 12 being at one end and 8 down the
centre; some of these contained hieroglyphics inlaid, three of
which still remain, also a drawer for holding the draughts.
These draughts consist of about 20 pieces, carved with most
exquisite art and finish in the form of lions' heads--the
hieroglyphic sign for "Hat" in Hatasu. Also two little standing
figures of Egyptian men like pages or attendants, perfect, and
admirable specimens of the delicate Egyptian art. These may have
been markers, or perhaps the principle pieces. Two sides of
another draught box, of blue porcelain and ivory, with which are
two conical draughts of blue porcelain and ivory and three other
ivory pieces.

6. Also parts of two porcelain rings and porcelain rods, probably
for some unknown game.

7. With the above were found a kind of salvo or perfume spoon in
green slate, and a second in alabaster.

The coffin of Thotmes I and the bodies of Thotmes II and III, were
found at Dayr el Baharee in 1881, that of their sister, Queen
Hatasu, had disappeared but her cabinet was there, and is now in
the Boulack Museum, and I have no doubt whatever, says Miss
Edwards, "that this throne and these other relics are from
that tomb."


NOTE. The name which occurs most frequently on the finest monuments
of Egyptian art is Ramses, which immediately recalls the names of
Rhamses, Ramesses, or Ramestes, and Raamses, (Exod. i., 11)
occuring in Hebrew, Greek and Roman writers, and when we find this
name with all its adjuncts, distinguishing some of the finest
remains of antiquity from the extremity of Nubia to the shores
of the Mediterranean, we are immediately led to ask whether this
must not have been the title of Sesostris. The Flaminian obelisk
at Rome, its copy, the Salustian, the Mahutean, and Medicean, in
the same place; those at El-Ocsor, the ancient Thebes, and a
bilingual inscription at Nahr-el-Kelb, in Syria, all bear this
legend. The power and dominions of this Prince, must therefore
have been of no ordinary magnitude; and such was in fact that of
the Rhamses, whom the priests at Thebes described to Germanicus
as the greatest conqueror who ever lived (Tacit. Annal. 11
p. 78 ed, Elzevir, 1649). But none of the ancient historians give
this name to Sesostris. He is however called Sethos by Manetho who
tells us (Joseph, contra, Apion, 1 p. 1053) that he was also
called Rhamesses, from his grandfather Rhampses, and thus affords
a clue by which all doubt is removed; and as Sethos, Sesostris and
Sessosis, are virtually the same name, and confessedly belong to
the same person, so was the Rhamses of Tacitus and the REMSS of
these hieroglyphical inscriptions, no other than that mighty
conqueror. His grandfather is called Rhameses Meiammun by Manetho
(15th King of the 18th dynasty) and that name appears in the
great palace of Medinet Abu and some other buildings in the ruins
of Thebes, but the one is always named Ramses Ammon-mei and has
distinctive titles different from those of the other. This is alone
sufficient to identify them; for as the Ptolemies were distinguished
by their surnames Philadelphus, Epiphanes, Soter &c., so were the
ancient Egyptian Kings by their peculiar titles, as is manifest
from the double scrolls by which their names are usually expressed.
>From the tomb of Ramses Mei-ammun, in the Biban-el-muluk,
Mr. Belzoni brought the cover of his sarcophagus of red granite,
ornamented with a recumbent figure of the deceased King in the
character of Osiris. It is now preserved in the Fitz-William
Museum at Cambridge, to which it was presented by that justly
regretted traveller.

CORRECTION. The 16th King of the 18th dynasty he must have been
if they were seventeen, for Sesostris in the tables is 1st King
of the 19th dynasty.


It is not unreasonable to infer that Egbert and even Offa, at
about the end of the Eighth century may have known chess,
which had become popular during their times, in Arabia, Greece,
Spain and among the Franks and Aquitaines, these Saxon
Kings were of an enquiring turn of mind, and not indifferent to
what was passing on in other countries. Two hundred and fifty
years had elapsed since chess had reached Persia, and
contemporary monarchs were not altogether strange to one another's
tastes and pursuits. Justinian and Chosroes held communication on
historical and social matters, Harun of Bagdad, and the Princess
Irene of Constantinople, as well as her predecessor, made special
presents to Pepin and Charlemagne, including chess equipages
which probably were considered suitable and fitting compliments
at the time, and they seem to have been appreciated and highly
valued, especially by Charlemagne, who evidently fancied himself
at chess, and we find was somewhat demonstrative in his challenges.

Charlemagne must have known Egbert, who took refuge at his
court for a time, before he became King of England, from the
usurper Brithric. The biography of the celebrated scholar Alcuin,
says that Charlemagne met him in Parma; but Hume is probably
right in his statement that he was sent by Offa as the most proper
person to meet the Emperor's views in aiding him to confute
certain alleged heresies. This scholar was much esteemed and
venerated by Charlemagne, and his family, and from his long
domestication in his household, and familiarity with his habits
and pursuits, could scarcely be ignorant of Charlemagne's
enthusiasm for chess, and such a popular exponent of learning at
the time as Alcuin was, might well have been known and
favourably regarded by such a patron and enquirer as the famous
Harun Ar Rashid of Bagdad, who must have corresponded with
Charlemagne and sent his presents at the very time that Alcuin
was residing with the Emperor.

NOTE. Offa died 794, Alcuin 804, Harun 809, Charlemagne 814, the
great Al Mamun commenced to reign in 813, and he is undoubtedly
reputed to have been the most mild, humane and enlightened of all
the Khalifs. He was, however warlike also and expressed his
surprise that he could not manage the mimic armies of the chess
board like large forces on the field of battle.


Canute's great partiality for chess seems well attested. The
three successive royal assassinations recorded in Scandinavian
history associated with chess incidents, need not alone be relied on
and form not the most pleasing reading in connection with our now
innocent, and harmless chess; neither perhaps is it a
recommendation or evidence of the calmness, meditative tranquility
and imperturbability so generally supposed to be incidental to the
game, to repeat the authenticated statement that the son of Okbar
was killed by King Pepin's son through the jealousy and irritation
of the latter at being constantly beaten at chess, or that William
the Conqueror in early days had to beat a precipitate retreat from
France through assaulting the King's son over the chess board,
and a somewhat similar misadventure in early days to Henry I,
and John's unseemly fracas. It is related that an English knight
seized the bridle of Philip Le Gros in battle, crying out, the king
is taken, but was struck down by that monarch who observed,
"Ne fais tu pas que aux echecs on ne prend pas le roi."

Among English monarchs, indeed, there are several which may
be added to the list presented by Philidor which comprises only
Elizabeth; James I and William III, of those omitted Canute,
the first William, and perhaps Edwards I and IV, are the most
notable before the time of the unfortunate Charles I, whose
likeness is in one of the chess books, and whose chess men
exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries were preserved in the
possession of Lord Barrington. Items referring to chess are
mentioned in expense accounts of Henry VII and Henry VIII. In a
closet in the old royal palace of Greenwich, the last-named had
a payre of chess men in a case of black lether--(Warton). The
celebrated Ras, at Chelicut, was passionately fond of chess,
provided he won, Charles the XII was much devoted to the game.
In 1740 Frederick the Great writes: "Je suis comme le roi et
echecs de Charles XII qui marchait toujours."



Sir Frederick Madden states in p. 280: Snorr Sturleson relates an
anecdote of King Canute, which would prove that monarch to have
been a great lover of the game. About the year 1028, whilst
engaged in his warfare against the Kings of Norway and Sweden,
Canute rode over to Roskild, to visit Earl Ulfr, the husband of
his sister. An entertainment was prepared for their guest, but
the King was out of spirits and did not enjoy it. They attempted
to restore his cheerfulness by conversation, but without success.
At length, the Earl challenged the King to play at chess, which
was accepted, and, the chess table being brought, they sat down to
their game. After they had played awhile, the King made a false
move, in consequence of which Ulfr captured one of his opponent's
Knights. But the King would not allow it, and replacing his piece,
bade the Earl play differently. On this, the Earl (who was of a
hasty disposition) waxing angry, overturned the chess board and
left the room. The King called after him, saying, Ulfr, thou coward,
dost thou thus flee? The Earl returned to the door, and said: You
would have taken a longer flight in the river Helga, had I not come
to your assistance, when the Swedes beat you like a dog--you did not
then call me a coward. He then retired, and some days afterwards
was murdered by the King's orders. This anecdote is corroborated
(so far as the chess is concerned) by a passage in the anonymous
history of the monastery of Ramsey, composed probably about the
time of Henry I, where we are told, that Bishop Etheric coming
one night at a late hour on urgent business to King Canute,
found the monarch and his courtiers amusing themselves at the
games of dice and chess.

In the year 1157 the Kingdom of Denmark was divided between three
Monarchs: Svend, Valdemar, and Canute the Fifth. This took place
after many years of contest, between Svend on the one hand, and
Valdemar and Canute on the other. Each King was to rule over a
third of the realm, and each swore before the altar to preserve
the contract inviolate. But it did not last long. Canute asked his
brother monarchs to spend a few days of festivity with him at
Roskilde. Svend came with a crowd of soldiers. One evening
Valdemar sat at the chess board where the battle waxed warm.
His adversary was a nobleman, and Canute sat by Valdemar's side
watching the game. All at once, Canute observing some suspicious
consultations between Svend and one of his Captains, and feeling
a presentiment of evil, threw his arms round Valdemar's neck and
kissed him. Why so merry, cousin? asked the latter without
removing his eyes from the chess board. You will soon see, replied
Canute in an apprehensive tone. Just then the armed soldiery of
Svend rushed into the apartment, slew Canute and severely wounded
Valdemar. The last named having strapped his mantle about his arm
to serve for a shield, extinguished the lights, and fought like
a lion. He succeeded in making his escape and is known in history
as the powerful Valdemar the Great.

A century later chess again makes its appearance upon the historic
stage of Denmark. At that time, Eric Plovpenning or Ploughpenny as
he was called, ruled wisely and well over the fierce and war loving
people of that country. In the summer of 1250 he was on his way to
defend the town of Rendsborg against the attack of some German
bands, when he received an invitation from his brother Abel to
visit him in Slesvig. The unsuspecting and open hearted Eric
accepted. After dinner, on the 9th of August, the same day of his
arrival, he retired to a little pleasure house near the water to
enjoy a quiet game of chess with a knight whose name was Henrik
Kerkwerder. As they were playing the black-hearted Abel entered
the room, marched up to the chess table, accompanied by several
of his followers, and began to overwhelm the King with abuse. At
length, the unfortunate Eric was thrown into chains and was basely
murdered that very night.

The American Chess Monthly gives the following anecdote, but does
not state its source.


Among the anecdotes related of the childhood of the Princess
Charlotte, the daughter of a rascally father, and of an
unfortunate mother, there is a story which we do not remember
to have seen in any periodical devoted to the game. It is
perfectly authentic, and runs thus:

"Being one evening present when a game of chess was playing. The
sudden and triumphant exclamation of checkmate was given. On her
inquiring its meaning, she was informed, it is when the King is
enprise by any particular piece, and cannot move without falling
into the hands of an enemy. `That is indeed a bad situation for
a King,' said the little patriotic stateswoman, but it can never
be the fate of the King of England, so long as he conforms to
the laws, for then he meet with protection from his subjects."


We can find nothing in the form of evidence, as to whether
either of our four kings, the Georges, took any interest in chess,
or played at it. Some of our greatest men we hear, looked in
occasionally at the club in St. James St., to witness Philidor's
performances. Chatham, Fox, Pitt, Godolphin, Sunderland,
Rockingham, Wedderburn, St. John, Sir G. Elliott, and many
others, most distinguished and celebrated at the time, have been
specially mentioned as visitors or members. As only those who
know or care for the game subscribe to chess books, the three
hundred principal names on Philidor's edition of 1777, affords a
significant proof of the extraordinary appreciation and support of
the game, throughout the period of his ascendancy, viz., from
1746 to 1795.

Twenty-six ladies of title grace that list, which contains a large
proportion of the nobility, cabinet ministers, men distinguished in
science, and at the bar, and on the bench, and several eminent

Prince Leopold's support of chess, and encouraging remarks
concerning it at Oxford, in Scotland and at the Birkbeck, had
much to do with the taste for the game which sprung up among
the humbler working classes, and which happily has been
continuously though steadily progressing.

One of our most genial and reliable chess editors has recently
informed us, on very high authority, that even our Most Gracious
Majesty Queen Victoria, has at times shewn an appreciation of

Three years after the commencement of her reign the first
County Chess Association, was formed in Yorkshire. There were
at this time but twelve chess clubs in this country. The year
1849 signalised the first Chess Tournament found on record, it
took place at Simpson's, and Mr. H. T. Buckle writer and author,
the best amateur at this time, came forth first. This was two years
before the first world's International Chess Tournament of 1851,
was held in London, of which the Prince Consort was patron, since
then thirty-four National Tournaments and forty-eight country
meetings, and twenty University matches between Oxford and
Cambridge have taken place.

It is now reasonably estimated that there are quite five hundred
clubs, and institutions where chess is practiced and cultivated,
and near one hundred and fifty chess columns, and both press
notice and chess clubs are continually on the increase.



Simpson's renowned establishment was opened by Mr. Samuel
Ries on its present site 100 and 101 Strand in 1828. It was soon
found to afford the most admirable facilities for the quiet and
comfortable enjoyment of chess, and hence became greatly
appreciated and proportionately patronized, and has always been
regarded by the best and most impartial friends of chess with
sentiments of extraordinary partiality.

Its influence on the practice and development of chess has been
of a very remarkable character, and of the first and highest
importance, and notwithstanding the migration of some of its
members on the occasions of the formation of the ill-fated
Westminster and West End Chess Clubs in 1867 and 1875, and
again on the institution of the present British Chess Club in
1885, its popularity is maintained to this day.

The chess events, anecdotes, and reminiscences of Simpson's
must ever form a most interesting chapter in the English or
National history of chess for the Nineteenth century, and is
intimately linked with that of the whole chess world. As the
arena of the finest and most brilliant chess play Simpson's still
stands, and has ever done so, pre-eminently first, from the time of
A. McDonnell of Belfast, and L. de La Bourdonnais of Paris, and
their first appearance there in 1828 and 1829 to the present day,
and it is there (and there alone) that can still be witnessed in
this country a competition or tournament open to all comers
conceived in the spirit of pure enthusiasm only, and it is to
Simpson's that lovers of the game must still resort if they wish
to see really fine contests between the recognized greatest
players. It was here that H. T. Buckle, the writer and author in
1849 gained leading honours in the first tournament ever held on
British soil, or so far as is known, on any soil. About this time
it was that the school of young players with some of whose games
the public have become familiarized and pleased in later years,
begun to radiate, educate, and progress. Bird as a boy, became a
favourite opponent of Mr. Buckle, so early as 1846. Boden soon
followed, and by the year 1851, both had, it was supposed, reached
about the force of Mr. Buckle, and were hailed with welcome as
British chess representatives of the highest class, and at this
period and for a quarter of a century afterwards no games were
watched with greater interest than those in the love contests
between Boden and Bird, and no names are more familiarly associated
with Divan chess play. The former has departed this life, but the
latter still plays, having within the past year or two, twice
secured first prize in Simpson's Tournaments, and first position in
1889 and third in 1890, though his forte is rather for rapid and
lively play, which he cultivates now rather more than in his younger
days, otherwise his style of 1848 and 1852 compared with 1873, 1889
and 1892 remains the same in its characteristic features. Bird's
games with Anderssen in 1852 (his best performance), with those
against Morphy in 1858, Steinitz in 1866, and Wisker (British
Champion) in 1873, rank among the most notable encounters at
Simpson's. Among the most recent events of the greatest interest at
Simpson's have been the visit of Dr. Tarrasch, of Nuremberg,
after his great International victory at Manchester, the splendid
performance of young Loman the Dutch Champion in Simpson's
Spring Tournament (following his grand City of London successes
and that in Holland). The recent games of Blackburne and Bird,
and Lasker and Bird have been other events of popular
chess interest.

To return to old times, (to boyhood days), it was during the
years 1844 to 1850 that English ascendancy in chess first became
universally recognized. As noticed in the History of Chess
elsewhere the supremacy of chess in past ages back to the Sixth
century, when Persia (as well as China received chess from India)
has alternately rested with Arabia, Spain, Italy and France,
while the question of the hour now is whether Germany or England is
best entitled to claim possession of the chess sceptre. The famous
series of contests in 1834 at the old Westminster Chess Club in
Bedford Street, Covent Garden, between McDonnell and de La
Bourdonnais may certainly be regarded as the inauguration of
the spirited matches between individuals and representatives,
both International and National, which have since become so
popular. The following was the result of this great conflict,
La Bourdonnais won 41, McDonnell 29, and there were 13 drawn.
The Evans attack, which had been invented by Capt. W. D. Evans
in 1830, was played 23 times: the attack won 15, the defence 5,
and 3 were drawn. These memorable contests are generally
considered to have given the first great impetus to International
chess competition which became further cemented and consolidated
by the match between the Champions of England and France,
Staunton and St. Amant in 1843, and the first World's Tournament
held at the St. George's Chess Club Rooms in Cavendish Square,
London, in 1851. Staunton maintained his title to the British
Championship until this great International event took place which
was signalized by the decisive victory of Prof. Anderssen, of
Breslau. Staunton made no real effort to recover his laurels
afterwards or to in any way reassert English claims to supremacy.
The foreign players, after the Tournament, Szen, Lowenthal,
Kiezeritzky, Mayet, Jaenisch, Harrwitz and Horwitz frequented
Simpson's and Anderssen (like Morphy seven years later) greatly
favoured the place, and readily engaged in skirmishes of the more
lively enterprising, and brilliant description in which he ever
met a willing opponent in Bird, who, though a comparatively young
player, to the surprise and gratification of all spectators, made
even games. This young player who it seems had acquired his utmost
form at this time, also won the two only even games he ever played
with Staunton, and also two from Szen, which occasioned yet more
astonishment, the last-named having been regarded by many
deemed good judges, the best player in the world before the
Tournament was held, and even in higher estimation than his
fellow countryman Lowenthal, and considered not inferior to
Staunton himself. Judging from the success of this the youngest
player who was certainly not superior if equal to Buckle or Boden,
it is not unreasonable to conclude that Staunton with his greater
experience and skill, had he possessed the same temperament as
Bird, and at the slow time limit which suited him as well as it
has Steinitz (his exact counterpart in force and style) would
have regained his ascendancy for Great Britain. It is undoubtedly
owing to the opportunities at Simpson's that Boden and Bird so
rapidly acquired first rank and the partial withdrawal of the
former, and the entire relinquishment of chess by the latter from
1852 to 1858 was unfortunate for English chess renown, for on
the appearance of the phenomenon, Paul Morphy, and Staunton's
default in meeting him, there was no English player in practise
able to do honor to Morphy over the board, except a new comer,
Barnes; and Boden and Bird, but acquiesced in a general wish,
(albeit an equal pleasure to themselves) in revisiting Simpson's to
play with the subsequently found to be invincible Morphy.

Simpson's Divan was naturally the first resort of the
incomparable Paul Morphy, and he greatly preferred it to any other
chess room he ever saw, he even went so far as to say it was
"very nice," which was a great deal from him, the most
undemonstrative young man we ever met with. Certainly nothing else in
London, from St. Paul's, Westminster Abbey and the Tower to
our Picture Galleries and Crystal Palace, not even the Duke of
Wellington's Equestrian Statue, elicited such praise from him as
"very nice," at least as applied to any inanimate object.

Louis Paulsen arriving from America in 1861, at once visited
the Divan and played twelve games blindfold simultaneously
there against a very powerful team amid much enthusiasm, it
being the earliest exhibition among us on so large a scale. Morphy
had in 1858 played eight games blindfold both in Birmingham
and Paris. This was 63 years after Philidor's exhibition of two
games blindfold (and one over the board) a performance then
thought marvellous, and which it was predicted would not be
believed or attempted in any future generation. However we read
of A. McDonnell playing without seeing the board and men in
1830. Bilguer in like manner did so sometime before his death
in 1841. La Bourdonnais in 1842, and Harrwitz at Hull in 1847,
but neither more than two games. Paulsen in the West of America
1855-6-7, was the first to accomplish ten or twelve games blindfold,
which he did with very marked success. Steinitz from Prague,
who for twenty-two years, from 1867 to 1889, has been regarded
as chess champion of the world, at the usual slow time limit is
now residing in Brooklyn, New York. Soon after his arrival from
Vienna in 1862 he became a tolerably regular attendant at
Simpson's, and it was through this that his appointment of Chess
Editor to the "Field" arose, as well as that of Mr. Hoffer who
superseded him in that post. Mr. Walsh, chief Editor of the
"Field," had been for many years a constant visitor at Simpson's,
and the column for a long time was not favourable to our chess
interests. Foreign influence and views became far too
conspicuously manifested. The great English chess players were of a
retiring nature after the disappearance of the powerful Staunton
and Captain Kennedy, and the retirement of the genial
McDonnell; Boden was as reserved as Buckle or as Morphy, Bird
cared only for his game. Such eggs of chess patronage as
continued to exist, somehow or other always found their way into
one and the same basket, to which no British master could have
access. No eminent English player had any voice in chess
management, and though the Jubilee year's proceedings, bid fair
to balance matters on a more cosmopolitan basis, the facts
remain that for the three last German Tournaments at Frankfort,
Breslau and Dresden, neither Lee nor Pollock, the youngest, nor
Bird, the oldest master, could on either occasion manage to

Small, but very enjoyable first class Tournaments have been
held at Simpson's, which have always evoked a considerable degree
of enthusiasm, and at times stimulated energy in the constituted
authorities, and been productive of Tournaments on a larger scale

Notwithstanding that the Mammoth laws of Limited Liability
in 1867, absorbed the gorgeous and spacious Divan Saloon, for the
present ladies dining room, and somewhat lessened the chess
accommodation, the distinguishing characteristics of the place
have remained unchanged, while the glorious chess events and
reminiscences continue nearly as vividly fixed in the recollection
as ever.

The interest felt in the associations of Simpson's, have in fact
continued unabated from the days of the supremacy of La
Bourdonnais, Staunton, and Morphy, to the time of Steinitz's
appearance in 1862, and, to the triumphs of Blackburne, Cap.
Mackenzie and Gunsberg in our own days, and Bird the winner of the
Tournament just held there, who has frequented the room for
forty-five years, still plays the game, with a vigour equal to that
displayed against the greatest foreign players in 1852, and with
scarcely less success. The transactions in chess connected with
Simpson's for the last quarter of a century, would fill a good size
volume, only including events of the greatest interest to chess
players. The lapse of the British Chess Association of 1862, and
the wane of the less successful B.C.A. of 1885, during a period
when chess has been making such rapid strides that clubs have
more than doubled, is a very remarkable feature in modern chess
play and its management. The seven years operations and
accounts of the present British Chess Association, though it had
the advantage of such names as Tennyson, Ruskin, Churchill and
Peel, on its presidential list, have not resulted in one half the
patronage, accorded to the Tournaments of 1851 and 1883, mainly
promoted by one single club, (the St. Georges') at times when no
Association of a public kind, ostensibly for the support,
improvement, and extension of worthy chess existed.

The eminent masters of the art of chess, registered in the list
of the British Chess Association of 1862, numbered 30, now there
are but 10, such has been the effect of the management of a game
yearly and daily increasing in favourable estimation, and the
practice of which, judging from the increase of chess clubs, press
notice and favour, sale of chess equipages of all kinds, and other
indications conclusively prove, must have increased at least
ten-fold in the present generation.

Simpson's has done most to assist in cultivating force and style
in chess, and to prevent it becoming the idle amusement which
at least one great philosopher has told us it is not, and ought not
to be, and the only three recognized new masters which have risen
up in the Metropolis during the present generation, can be
directly traced to its opportunities and influence. This same
period has witnessed the rise and fall of two chess clubs, the
Westminster formed in 1867, at Covent Garden, and the West
End in Coventry St., in 1875, both (wonderfully successful at
first), having lamentably failed through the predominating card
influence and lack of undivided fealty and devotion to their
legitimate and avowed objects, viz., the chivalrous practice and
earnest cultivation of the noble and royal game of chess. Cards
and social pleasures (so called) cliquism, with the principles of
mutual admiration so strongly in force there, have already
seriously undermined the constitution of the British Chess Club,
or the British Club as it is now more properly called, and the fate
of this third combination from its original avowed point of view
that is for chess purposes, may be considered as virtually sealed,
unless chess be at once restored to something nearer approaching
its acknowledged true position.

At Simpson's of our own countrymen, A. McDonnell in 1829,
and Howard Staunton in 1842, each first in fame of his time, and
the two greatest British chess players who ever lived mostly

Steinitz admits that his pre-eminency in chess is greatly due to
the facilities of Simpson's, and the courtesies of his early
opponents. The luxurious couches, tables, and mirrors, (NOTE. When
Bird first visited Simpson's and was playing his first game, he
became uneasy at finding so great a mirror at his back, and was
greatly troubled at the bare possibility of his coming in contact
with it. He was however completely reassured by John, who solemnly
informed him that the glass was thicker than his head, and much
less likely to crack.) with the splendid light afforded, tempted
many visitors who played not chess, to resort there for pleasing
converse, combined with ease and comfort, and a record of the
distinguished men who have been seen in the Divan, would make an
illustrious list. H. T. Buckle (already referred to as most eminent
of amateur players) in his chess references, calls Simpson's a
favourite half holiday resort, for an occasional change and
striking relief in a game of chess, so different from his usual
meditative pursuits, and the arena and play of chess, has been so
regarded by eminent men of all grades and branches of knowledge.
Among other English chess players of the past and present generation,
that have come into front rank there, are Boden and Bird, the
most successful of the young rising players during Staunton's ten
years chess reign. No games on record seem to have occasioned more
interest than the contests between these two favourite opponents,
unfortunately neither made any practice of recording games, which
is rather a subject of regret, for they were much in request by
chess editors in England as well as in America and Germany. The
few on record owe their preservation mostly to lookers on, who took
them down. Boden and Bird were never known to play for a stake, not
even for the time honored and customary shilling. In 1852 Barnes,
and a few years later Cap. Mackenzie, the Rev. G. A. MacDonnell,
and Cecil de Vere, began to adorn the first class chess circle, in
1862 our unsurpassed Blackburne appeared to the front almost
simultaneously with Steinitz, and ten years later the amiable Dr.
Zukertort (the winner of the Paris International of 1878, and the
great London "Criterion" Tournament of 1883), came to this
country, and was destined to create nearly as much sensation in
chess circles as Paul Morphy (who appeared 14 years before him,
and 4 before Steinitz and Blackburne) had done, and it may be
safely asserted that Dr. Zukertort's play in 1883, has never been
surpassed even by Morphy's and Anderssen's very best
performances, though Anderssen excelled both in fertility of invention.
The "fondness" of Dr. Zukertort, like that of his distinguished
Berlin townsman, Anderssen the renowned winner of 1851, 1862
and 1870), for Simpson's, and its Associations was very great, and
increased very much towards the latter part of his life, and the
place has always formed a strong bond of union between Foreign
and English players. Zukertort was engaged in conversation
with the writer and others, in his usual genial manner, and spent
some happy hours with us on the evening preceding his death.
Every true lover of chess must appreciate the chivalry and good
feelings always observable in chess play at Simpson's. There
only leading players for mutual pleasure and without stake, and
to the interest of spectators play many an emulatory game which
may bear comparison with the best of the few good ones to be
found in the most recent tedious chess matches played for amounts
not thought of in previous times, and sufficient to disconcert and
make timid both of the opponents. With our Foreign visitors,
Simpson's Divan is the first resort to meet old friends, to hear
chess news, to compare notes, and to discuss topics of interest.
It is a kind of landmark, or where the pilot comes aboard. When
they do not dine at Simpson's, which is regarded as "par
excellence," but retire to Darmstatters, the Floric or the Cheshire
Cheese for refreshment, the Divan is yet the Appetizer, or Sherry
and Bitter starting point, in fact, wherever the abodes of our
distinguished chess brethren may be, Simpson's is always the centre
and home of friendly attraction throughout their stay in this
country, and so long as harmony and good feeling prevails it is
ever likely to continue so.

          For Clubs may come, and Clubs may go,
           And make us ask what's next to see;
          But Simpson's ever should remain,
           The place for Chess in ecstacy.

The above article was run off for the late deeply lamented
Captain Mackenzie, the amiable and dignified United States
Chess Champion, on one of his visits here. I dedicate it to our
surviving foreign visitors.


The following article from The British Chess Magazine
furnished by the writer has been regarded with much interest,
we are tempted to re-produce it.


An article appeared in The Fortnightly Review of December,
1886 bearing the signature of L. Hoffer, Secretary of the B.C.A.,
entitled "The Chess Masters of the Day." We are informed
that the British Masters, who have read it are unanimous in
condemning its tone and spirit; and a short letter of protest has been
inserted in the March number of the same magazine, from H. E.
Bird, specifying their principal objections to it! In a letter to
us, Mr. Bird, incidentally, mentions that the article bears the
semblance of having been prepared by more than one writer; and
he suggests that a confusion of ideas may account for the
discrepancies in it? He then proceeds to question Mr. Hoffer's
authority for adding B.C.A. after his name, presumably for the
purpose of giving weight to the article which it is contended does
not meet with the general approbation of members of the British
Chess Association, or other real lovers of chess and friends to its
cause and advancement. The remarks of Mr. Bird, which we
understand, are heartily concurred in by all the British Chess
Masters, we give precisely in his own words.


However entertaining and amusing the article which appears
in The Fortnightly Review, entitled "The Chess Masters of the
Day," bearing the signature of L. Hoffer, may prove to the
general reader, there are reasons why it is not likely to pass the
more observant chess friend and true lover of the game without
grave misgivings and deep regret; and it is probably not very
rash to predict that, notwithstanding, the smile that may be
evoked here and there at the expense of the unhappy lampooned
Chess Masters, the feeling most predominant at the close of
reading the article will be very near akin to extreme

It is but fair, at the outset, to observe that the writer does
not seem to claim that his article is a disquisition on the game
of chess; that it is not so may, at once, be granted; but, it is
unfortunate that even as a record of what it purports to be,
viz., "The Chess Masters of the Day," a few lines will suffice
to show that it is not sufficiently connected, reliable, or complete
to form a chapter in chess history, or to be of any lasting interest
from a descriptive Chess Master's point of view.

Having first generalised the main contents of the article, we
may then proceed to point out its shortcomings, as well as the
more serious objections to it.

Of the 13 pages and 533 lines to which the article extends,
more than three-fourths are devoted to foreign players; that
apportioned, by the author, to panegyric of his present colleague,
Zukertort and to sneers, and personalities bordering on
vituperation of his past friend, the World's Champion, Steinitz,
being about equally balanced.

To the English Chess Masters mentioned, four in number,
Blackburne, Burn, Bird, and Mackenzie, the space allotted is less
than a fifth of that given to four foreign Masters, Zukertort,
Steinitz, Rosenthal, and Lowenthal. The writer himself also
figuring somewhat conspicuously.

The reason for the introduction, and at such length, of the
name of the distinguished Hungarian player, Lowenthal, into an
article presumably by title intended for living Masters, is not at
all apparent--he died in 1876. Anderssen, far more successful
if not far greater as a chess-player considered by many, including
the writer of this article, as King of all chess-players, who lived
till 1879, is not even mentioned. The selection may seem to
have been made for effect, and for the purpose of reproducing
certain too oft repeated jokes and quaint notions commonly
attributed to Lowenthal; that highly agreeable and justly popular
gentleman having apparently been regarded (if the expression
may be permitted) as a very convenient peg on which to hang
some funny sayings and ideas.

Horwitz, who died in 1884, is also in the article, supplying
further pleasantry. There will not be wanting, however, many
chess-players who will consider a description of Anderssen's play,
and great Championship and Tournament Victories of 1851, 1862,
and 1870 of at least equal interest.

Rosenthal of Paris, next to Steinitz and Zukertort, absorbs the
largest space among living players, more in fact than all the
British Masters combined; here again supposed witticisms and
pleasantries open up at the expense of the volatile and amiable
Polish player; no other plausible explanation appears to offer
for the prominency and length of space devoted to Rosenthal.
The name of a much greater though more demure Master,
happily still in the flesh, Von Heydebrand Der Lasa, considered
by many, including Morphy, as the finest chess-player of his
time, and certainly one of the most distinguished of foreign
writers, is not even mentioned.

The Prussian Masters are entirely omitted; Paulsen, most
modest and distinguished, certainly, one of the greatest players
and not second to any but Blackburne as a blindfold artist, why
is he forgotten? Bardeleben, winner of the Vizayanagram
All-comers' Tournament, Criterion, London, 1883, is another
unaccountable omission. Where is the incomparable Schallopp, the
present Prussian champion? His welcome visits from Berlin,
and performances unsurpassed for brilliancy at Hereford in 1885,
as well as London and Nottingham this year, are still pleasurably
remembered by us all. The absence of Paulsen, Bardeleben,
Schallopp, and Riemann, all living Masters of the highest
excellence, has the effect of excluding Prussia altogether, and
makes a portentous void, as it would do in any article on chess.

Tchigorin of St. Petersburg would probably, at the present
time, be equal favourite against any player in the world except
perhaps Steinitz. Though behind the Champion in Tournament
record, the young Russian player has been successful against him
in three out of four individual contests.

Tchigorin is leader of the Russian Chess Committee in the
St. Petersburg Chess Club now conducting the telegraph match
against the British Chess Club. His absence from a list of the
greatest living Masters is a grave oversight, and this most likely
is accidental; the omission of the only great Russian chess
representative, we have had the honour of welcoming to our Chess
Circle, could hardly have been intended.

Coming to players of the past in our own country, Great
Britain is made to occupy a very far back seat, and in this
respect at least Russia, Prussia, and England, through their
representatives, may join in mutual sympathy and condolence.

There can be no jealousy where all are ignored! We are
tempted to ask, "What can be thought or said of an article which,
professing to portray and describe Chess Masters, devotes near a
page to Lowenthal and more to Rosenthal, yet not a line to
Staunton or to Buckle?" Can the Reviewer have forgotten that
Staunton and Lowenthal were contemporary; if not, what can be
the explanation of such an omission?

Howard Staunton's name is certainly not second to any,
however illustrious, ever known in chess, he will ever be
remembered as the greatest chess-player of his day; and was
the most vigorous and entertaining of chess writers. Having
witnessed his play during 1845 to 1849, when he was still in full
force, deep impressions remain with us of his extraordinary
powers of combination, his soundness and accuracy. Although
comparison of chess-players, who lived or were in practice at
different times appear of little use or value, we yet have been
tempted once more to compare Staunton's, Anderssen's, Morphy's
and Steinitz's best games without arriving at any conclusion
except that Anderssen's style still appears more inventive and
finer than any other, while Steinitz is pre-eminent for care and

H. T. Buckle, writer and author, who died in 1862, was for
many years the strongest amateur player, mostly considered a
shade weaker than Staunton, but regarded by many as equal,
like Steinitz in style, sound and safe, running no risks, exactly
the reverse of that of Bird, who became his opponent on equal
terms in 1852.

All chess admirers, not in this country alone, but throughout
the world, would like to have seen the names of Staunton and
Buckle, and the more recent ones of Boden and Wisker as much
as those of Lowenthal and Horwitz. Less convenient for
facetious observation, it is yet more than probable that the grand
chess researches, works and sayings of the English champion and
Shakespearian Editor, and the Diary Chess Extracts of the highly
accomplished author of "The History of Civilization," (in which
reference is made to the relief and enjoyment afforded by chess),
would have interested the chess public fully as much as the
description of Lowenthal's shirt front, Rosenthal's grammar,
Winawer's inodorous and unsavoury cigars, or the fact that the
author had played billiards with M. Grevy, the President of the
French Republic, and that he was in a position to contradict the
statement that Zukertort came over in two ships. There are
many old players and admirers, and perhaps some young ones,
who would have felt both gratified and interested at a brief,
descriptive sketch of de La Bourdonnais and McDonnell, and
their great and never to be forgotten contests; Staunton and St.
Amant's championship match, England v. France, which
occasioned more genuine interest and enthusiasm than any other
chess event of this century, would also have been a welcome and
pleasing addition.

Coming to English players, the absence of the name of the
Rev. G. A. MacDonnell, one of the most accomplished writers,
experts, and masters of the game, cannot be satisfactorily
explained. He is (though rarely practising) full of vigour.
Independently of his skill as a player, he is regarded as a living
institution in chess. For a quarter of a century, with the late
Mr. Boden, and Bird still living he has been one of the foremost
amateurs; as a writer, he has contributed as much to the
amusement and edification of chess readers as any author known. He
always has been, and is still highly popular, with many intensely
so; his geniality is so great, as well as his wit, that his society
is eagerly sought, and always enjoyed. The omission of the name
of such a notable, worthy representative and general favourite,
is alone sufficient to detract from the value of the article to no
inconsiderable extent; if really intended as a trustworthy narrative
and record of the world's Chess Masters.

The Amateur Masters are not so numerous that they need have
been passed over. The Rev. W. Wayte is alike distinguished for
his honorary writings in support of chess, and his brilliant
victories, at times, against the finest players, extending over a
long period, not very far short of the experience of the writer of
these lines. He is, in addition to his many well-known scholarly
qualifications, a very distinguished amateur chess master, a liberal
supporter of the game, and by many looked up to as the head of
the circle. His name would grace any article. Mr. Minchin's
national and international services are too well-known to require
comment and he would deprecate any reference to them; still I
must express the opinion that he has earned the gratitude of the
entire chess-playing world for his disinterested services in
promoting and so largely contributing to the success of great and
popular gatherings. Mr. Thorold's eminence as an exponent, and
modesty and courtesy as an opponent, are known to all; whilst
Mr. Watkinson, though now out of practice, was an equally
forcible player, and has rendered inestimable benefits to the cause
of chess by conducting, for many years, a journal of the highest
class; which has never wounded the susceptibilities of a member
of the circle. The life-long services of the Rev. Mr. Skipworth
ought not to be forgotten; he is, when free from his official duties,
quite formidable as an adversary, and is ever ready and willing
to test conclusions with the best of players. The Rev. C. E.
Ranken, too, a very strong player and analyst, has, in many ways,
been of great service to the cause of chess.

Should the reader's stock of astonishment be at all limited,
heavy draws will have been already made upon it; yet another
call, however, remains, and that the most recent and in many
respects the most unaccountable. The advent of a new chess
master after a lapse of twenty years is in itself an event of
considerable interest in the chess world. W. H. K. Pollock was
early last year admittedly a master, in the opinion of many
considered competent to judge. In August of last year he won
the first prize in the "Irish Chess Association one game Master
Tournament," winning from Blackburne, Burn, and six leading
Irish players. He is most modest and very chivalrous, always
ready to play on convenient occasions for pure love of the game
and credit of victory alone. This is truly a strange omission.

The author's assertion with regard to Morphy is that "He
was head and shoulders above the players of his time." What
precise degree of superiority that may imply in chess is not easy
to define, and must be left to the imagination of the reader. As
a matter of fact Mr. Hoffer never saw Morphy; and his statement
is based upon his published games and public chess opinion;
which, it is true, mostly awards Morphy the highest place in
modern chess history; his title, however, is principally based
upon his victories over Anderssen and Lowenthal, the former
in bad health, and not in his best form at the time! Staunton
and Buckle, the best English players of their day, never
encountered Morphy. Against Harrwitz he won five to three, and
fourteen to six against Barnes. Morphy's record, though great,
is not superior to Staunton's before, and Steinitz's after him.
There do not appear sufficient grounds for estimating one more
highly than the other. Foreign critics sometimes as well as
English ones have been apt for purposes of inferential comparison
to exalt one player and proportionately disparage another; thus
chess critics, with whom Staunton does not stand in the highest
favour in the past, or Steinitz in the present, too often indulge
in the most extravagant statements as to Morphy's immeasurable
superiority, not based on conclusive grounds; when the games and
evidence are closely and impartially tested.

The rapidly advancing chess skill of so many young amateurs
in the present day is a great stimulus to the rising generation of
chess-players, especially to such as aim at a high state of
proficiency; and, though this may be regarded as one of the most
interesting and popular features in the pursuit the author of the
article in question makes no reference to this branch of the
subject. The gradual introduction of the game as a mental
recreation into seats of learning and industrial establishments,
and the formation of many Working Men's Chess Clubs are now
well known; the result is that for the first time within the
recollection of present players several amateurs have come to
the front scarcely inferior in force to the new Master, Pollock,
whilst some in style may compete with him! Anger, Donisthorpe,
Guest, Hooke, Hunter, Jacobs, and Mills, with the most successful
of the past University Chess Teams, Chepmell, Gattie, Gwinner,
Locock, Plunkett, and Wainwright, are names scarcely less
familiar than those of the half dozen older masters left, who form
the remnant of the little band of twenty recognised masters living
in 1854.

Chess has become far more general than it formerly was
because it is better understood. Old fashioned notions that it
was too serious and necessitated an unreasonable absorption of
time, are passing away. A well-known amateur, whose games
please the public much and are greatly admired in Professor
Ruskin's letters has played many of his best specimens within an
hour, some in half that time. This same player states that he
recurs with great interest, though melancholy in its character,
to some games, he has played with those afflicted in various ways,
on account of the solace and consolation as well as pleasure it has
been found to afford him! The excellent contests some blind boys
made against him with their raised boards; the enjoyment
they expressed and felt, as conveyed to him by the master of the
Asylum, is vivid in his remembrance. Chess has proved highly
beneficial to such of the lower classes, as have been fortunate
enough to resort to it, in place of more exciting and expensive
indoor games. The mental exercise called into play is of the
most healthy character; and those who interest themselves in the
welfare of their less fortunate brethren may benefit them
and society, by assisting to diffuse a better knowledge of its
advantages for those at present uninterested in it.

There may be something in the author's opinion that no
extraordinary mental power is needed for chess excellence; but his
views, probably, would have been more valuable if less general,
and expressed with such qualifications as the history of its masters
suggests; his idea, however, that anyone of average capacity
may play average chess, is not in accordance with experience, if,
indeed, it is not decidedly in opposition to it. Some of the finest
players may appear to Mr. Hoffer to possess but average intellect;
but, whether he is right or not, one thing is certain, that many
with the greatest endowments and known powers of calculation
and thought have failed at it and some have been candid enough
to admit that they abandoned the game because dissatisfied with
their own progress and skill at it. Buckle in his opinion given
by MacDonnell in "Life Pictures," (the amusing and interesting
work of the latter), considers imagination and calculation
necessary, but discards any idea of superior mental capacity.

It is clear, however, that the qualifications necessary to be met
with cannot well be defined; we have never found any successful
attempt to do so. Franklin did not attempt it. We find by
experience that a likely man fails and an unlikely one succeeds.
Stock-brokers have been very successful--mathematicians quite
the reverse. Twenty or thirty eminent players, barristers and
solicitors, may be quoted to four engineers and accountants, the
latter, however, including one of the masters! The Church has
been very prolific as well as medicine.

>From the programmes of our more recent tournaments we find
the most distinguished names of supporters, and the British Chess
Association is honoured with those of Lord Tennyson, Lord
Randolph Churchill, Professor Ruskin, and Sir Robert Peel on its
presidential list. The late Prince Leopold was Patron of the St.
George's Club, and President of the Oxford University Chess Club.
The late J. P. Benjamin, Q.C., and formerly, Sir C. Russell were
among its admirers and supporters. Sir H. James and Sir H.
Giffard also honour the list; and a very brilliant amateur in past
days, (scarcely inferior to John Cochrane and Mr. Daniels), W.
Mackeson, Q.C., still honours the chess clubs with an occasional
visit, willingly taking a board and invariably running a hard
race of combination with the best performers. Earl Granville,
the Marquis of Hartington, the Marquis of Ripon, and the Right
Hon. H. C. Childers, M.P., have also appeared as patrons and

Blackburne, Steinitz, and Zukertort, our three greatest
professional players, will not feel highly complimented to hear,
for the first time, that their excellence arises from twenty years
hard labour; and that inferentially their capacity, otherwise, is
but common. Memory, a quality not mentioned by the Reviewer or
by Mr. Buckle, must be essential in the playing of chess for hours
without sight of board or men; it must be also advantageous in
the ordinary game, when many variations have to be worked out;
or the earlier combinations might be forgotten when the latter
are maturing.

Steinitz is now residing in New York, (this fact might well
have been stated) and the attacks upon him in his absence,
moreover, can hardly interest or gratify chess readers. These
attacks are in the worst possible taste; being calculated to lead
to controversy with his friends and supporters, who are still
numerous, both here and abroad. They will arouse a well merited
and just sense of indignation for despite his faults of temper and
a disposition, at times, prone to be touchy and contentious, Steinitz
is a true artist, a painstaking, careful, conscientious, and
impartial annotator, whilst as a describer of play he is unrivalled.
Willing, at all times, to render full justice to the skill, style,
and play of others, he has been frequently heard to observe that the
"difference in force between the six leading chess-players
is so slight, that the result of a contest between two of them would
be always uncertain."

As a chess-player he is far from lacking modesty. No "head
and shoulders" comparison or claim of superiority has ever been
made by Steinitz. He is exceedingly courteous to young aspirants,
and fairly communicative to all; he is, when vexed, as likely, (or
more so), to offend his best friends as strangers. With all his
shortcomings, however, it is doubtful whether any real admirer of
chess from its highest aspect will feel aught but regret at the
remarks applied to him; the space devoted to these attacks
(exceeding that allotted to all the English players) might well have
been devoted to chess in its social aspect, to its advantages and
prospects, or to some more agreeable phase of it than extreme
personality. Even another page or two of chess-players' jokes
and eccentricities would have been less objectionable.

The personalities and lack of impartiality in the article cannot
but be regarded as a very serious drawback; it is not written in a
tone which is likely to benefit chess or advance its cause; and it is
to be feared, that it will afford but little instruction or lasting
interest and pleasure to its readers.


As the events of the day or of the hour generally command
the most immediate interest in chess (as in many more important
things), we may commence notice of National Chess with the
memorable event which has most recently engaged public chess
attention, viz., the North of Ireland Chess Congress just
concluded in the City of Belfast. The history of First Class
Modern Chess Competition upon an emulatory scale in our country
may be almost said to begin with Ireland. We know that a little
band of chess enthusiasts assembled regularly in Dublin so early
as 1819, and that the knowledge of it had a material influence on
the advance of chess practice at the time, and so far as we can
gather the letter from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1850, was the
suggestion which first led to discussions which resulted in the
World's International Chess Tournament, (the first on record)
held in London in the succeeding year. There is little doubt
moreover among old chess players, and probably will be with
observant young ones either, that from the appearance of the
courteous and chivalrous A. McDonnell, of Belfast, in 1828,
may be dated the origin of genuine first class chess rivalry. It
was McDonnell's skill, courage, perseverance and gallant stand
against the famous Louis de La Bourdonnais, of France, in 1834,
and his successes against all the other competitors he met with,
and the encouragement that his example inspired, which first
established British claims to ability in chess, and an equal
reputation with the best of other countries in the exposition
of the game.

>From Greco's debut in Paris in 1626 to Philidor's first
appearance at London in 1746, (about 120 years) forms the first
of three previous epochs of chess progress; Philidor's own
distinguished career to 1795, a second, and the next quarter of a
century, to the first great correspondence match between Edinburgh
and London, when books on the game, literature, and the formation of
chess clubs first became conspicuous, marks the third epoch, from
Queen Elizabeth's time when probably chess first became the subject
of any considerable notice, or indication of approach to more
general practice and appreciation.

NOTE. The extent to which the 1851 and 1883 Tournaments were
aided by Indian feeling and support is another great and pleasing
feature. The names of Cochrane and Minchin stand foremost in
memory among the inceptors.


The wonderful Evans Gambit attack which has ever in its
manifold branches continued so intensely popular, had been
invented by Capt. W. D. Evans, in 1830.

It was played 23 times, the attack won 15, the defence 5, and
3 were drawn.

The Belfast amateur gained considerably in form in the latter
stages and at the conclusion, whether in brilliancy or depth, there
was not much to choose between them, though the great French
professional would seem to have been the more rapid player.

McDonnell died on the 14th September, 1834, aged 37, and
La Bourdonnais on the 13th December, 1840, aged 43, being about
five years before the appearance in the chess arena of the writer
of this article, and who now, owing to the hospitality and liberality
of Belfast has the honour and pleasure of taking part in a national
British competition in the native place of one who so greatly
contributed to the pioneering of these interesting tests of skill.

NOTE. The match between La Bourdonnais and McDonnell produced games
which for originality, enterprise and spirit have never been
surpassed. They commanded the admiration and enthusiasm of all
lovers of chess at the time, besides securing press notice and
arousing a taste for its practice, and a genuine emulation never
witnessed before this great example, and the appreciation of the
games is now as great as ever, and few modern matches can bear
comparison with them.

Different versions of the score have appeared; it was probably
finally La Bourdonnais 43, McDonnell 29, and draws 13.


The Chess Congress of the North of Ireland, which will sound
yet more familiar to many ears, under the title of the Belfast or
Belfast and Holywood Chess Congress (for it is to the spirit and
liberality of these two places that the meeting owes its origin)
commenced in the Central Hall, Belfast, on September 12th, and
concluded with one of Mr. Blackburne's marvellous blindfold
performances on September 24th, an ordinary simultaneous
competition of twenty-one games by Mr. Bird, on September 21st,
having also apparently afforded some pleasure and satisfaction.

The Belfast meeting must, owing to the originality and
enterprise of its conception, and the complete success which has
attended it form a unique item in Great Britain's local chess
records, and will not form one of the least interesting and
significant features in the national chess history of this
generation, for it is the first occasion in the record of the
forty-eight counties gatherings held since the first of 1841, in
Leeds, that the idea has been conceived of adding a contest between
the greatest living masters in the country on terms the most
liberal and deeply appreciated.

The proceedings of the Congress, and the scores of the players
in the Tournaments have been reported from day to day in the
Belfast papers, and the games of the masters with some selected
from the amateur handicaps have also been given, and save that
the same have been presented without comment on the merits of
the play, description, or notes which are found so useful and
acceptable to the general reader, otherwise considered, from a purely
local point of view, nothing remained to be desired. From a
national chess point of view, however, it seems to have been too
lightly regarded by the Press, some trophy in the amateur
competitions to commemorate the name of Alexander McDonnell, a
native of Belfast, who did more in his time than any other man to
uphold British chess reputation, might also not have been
inappropriate on such an occasion. Personally I was surprised that
the name of McDonnell did not appear to be more vividly
remembered in his native city.

It seems desirable, if not indeed absolutely necessary before
describing the games contested by the four masters, Blackburne,
Bird, Lee, and Mason, to say a few words about the original
inception of the great matches in which it was at one time
proposed that two other eminent players, not British born should
participate, but who at the last moment sought certain undue
advantages beyond the very liberal bonuses provided, and even a
controlling influence never anticipated by the committee, and to
which of course it could not, with any full sense of propriety or
regard to originally avowed intentions and subscribers views consent.

Asking pardon for a slight digression I will first say a word or
two about the absentees in not an ill-natured way before coming
to the essence of the play.

It so happens that during the past few years the countries that
furnished us with visits from the chivalrous Anderssen, the
hospitable and princely Kolisch, the distinguished and retiring Szen,
the singularly modest Paulsen, the courteous and gallant Lowenthal,
the amiable, unassuming, and as some think incomparable Zukertort,
and the genuine and in many respects greatest of all chess artists,
Steinitz, have also domiciled with us two more recent additions of
chess experts, who arrived at the age when chess players most
excel, and playing under conditions of time and clocks most
favourable to them have each in turn achieved such remarkable
successes, that native players have retired entirely to the shade,
and a forty year Bird (competitor of Buckle, Staunton, Anderssen,
Morphy and Steinitz, and still the most successful representative
of the rapid amusement school), and a thirty year Blackburne,
perhaps the greatest all round chess genius who ever lived fade
into significance before these foreign champions who, with the
most commendable energy, combined with unbounded confidence
and assurance, attempt to, and well nigh succeed in placing chess
influence at their feet with a Boss the shows determination openly
and unequivocally expressed. The control of most of the London
chess columns, and a large number of the Provincial is also
in foreign hands and proves a very powerful weapon in advancing
personal interests.

NOTE. The chess of the Daily News, Evening News and Post,
Standard, Field, and Telegraph and nearly all the Provincial
papers are conducted by German players. No leading British
player has a regular chess column.


Gunsberg, the elder of the two (slightly it is feared on the wane
though still champion of many columns) and Lasker twenty-four
years of age, still at his height, are both wonderful performers,
and enjoy a vast popularity among their race, and in certain
circles, but in the long run it is not unlikely that either will
feel extremely dissatisfied if he can maintain for half the time
the sustained reputation of the oldest English players who so
contentedly and modestly at present occupy their retired back seats,
and there are not wanting reasons to believe that both Gunsberg
and Lasker became most anxious to enter for the prizes in the
Belfast competition at the very time when it was finally determined
to confine it to four leading national representatives.



The proceedings opened at the Central Hall, Rosemary Street,
Belfast, on Monday, with an admirable address from Dr. Barnett,
who wished the players a happy and harmonious time and
extended to them a hearty welcome.

No.1. Bird against Blackburne offered an Evans Gambit.
This game was the only one played without clocks; both players
seemed at ease, and glad to be free from the formality and
encumbrance of time regulators and it is a happy omen that it
proved one of the most interesting in the programme:

The following is the complete list of the masters' games:

J. H. Blackburne, H. E. Bird, T. J. Lee, and J. Mason

1 Bird        Blackburne Evans declined      64 moves Drawn
2 Lee         Mason      Petroff             75   "   Mason
3 Bird        Lee        Queens Pawn counter 47   "   Drawn
4 Blackburne  Mason      Vienna              44   "   Blackburne
5 Lee         Blackburne Kt KB3 PQ4          48   "   Blackburne
6 Mason       Bird       KP and QP           62   "   Mason
7 Blackburne  Bird       Ruy Lopez Kt Q5     47   "   Bird
8 Mason       Lee        KP and QP           18   "   Drawn
9 Lee         Bird       PQ4                 37   "   Bird
10 Mason      Blackburne Ruy Lopez           28   "   Draw
11 Blackburne Lee        Ruy Lopez           43   "   Blackburne
12 Bird       Mason      Two Knights Def     38   "   Mason
13 Lee        Mason      Kt KB3 PKB4         35   "   Mason
14 Bird       Blackburne KP1 KPB2            42   "   Draw
15 Bird       Lee        KP one              73   "   Draw
16 Blackburne Mason      Giuoco Piano        30   "   Draw
17 Mason      Bird       Sicilian            27   "   Bird
18 Lee        Blackburne Four Kts            20   "   Draw

No.1 is the best and most instructive; No.17 was the most
lively and entertaining. Of the eight draws, two are legitimate,
the other six being unworthy the name of games.

That Lee when out of the running, directed a care and energy
against Bird which he did not against Blackburne and Mason will
be readily observable by a comparison of the games, especially
No. 9, 15, and 18; in the last he indeed made no attempt to win
at all, and a draw is the utmost he seems ever to have hoped for
in the other.

In the final score Bird, Blackburne and Mason were even in
their play, but Bird only scored 2 out of 3 with Lee, whilst the
others gained 2 1/2 out of 3 against him, this difference of half
a game placed Bird third only.

The two last games, the 17th and 18th, were finished about the
same time; thus, when Bird had won from Mason (doing his best in a
game which in no way effected his position) Blackburne and Lee
agreed to draw, which was a disappointment to the spectators, and
of course, to Bird, who was entitled to, and would have liked to
have seen the game played out.

These games present a very striking contrast. We particularly
commend the last, and the other draw to the consideration of all
who would wish to see chess continued as a noble and worthy
game. Bird by consenting to a draw with Mason could at once
have given him the first prize.

Game played in the Masters' Tournament, 23rd September,
1892, between Messrs. James Mason and H. E. Bird:

  White             Black
  MASON             H. E. BIRD
1 P to K4          P to QB4
2 Kt to KB3        Kt to QB3
3 P to Q4          P takes P
4 Kt takes P       P to Q3
5 Kt to QB3        B to Q2
6 Kt takes Kt      B takes Kt
7 B to Q3          P to K3
8 Castles          P to KKt3
9 P to B4          P to KR4
10 P to B5         Kt P takes P
11 P takes P       Q to Kt3 ch
12 K to R square   Castles
13 P takes P       P takes P
14 Q to K2         P to K4
15 B to K4         Kt to K2
16 B to Kt5        P to Q4
17 B takes Kt      B takes B
18 B to B5 ch      K to Kt square
19 P to QKt3       P to K5
20 Kt to R4        Q to B2
21 P to B4         Q to K4
22 P takes P       B to Q3
23 P to Kt3        B takes P
24 QR to B square  P to K6 ch
25 K to Kt square  QR to KKt square
26 R to B3         B takes R
27 Q takes B       R to KB square

Game played in the Masters' Tournament, 23rd September,
1892, between Messrs. F. J. Lee and J. H. Blackburne:

          A Contrast.

  White               Black
   LEE             BLACKBURNE
1 P to K4           P to K4
2 Kt to QB3         Kt to KB3
3 Kt to B3          Kt to B3
4 P to QR3          B to K2
5 P to Q4           P to Q3
6 B to K2           Castles
7 Castles           B to Kt5
8 P to Q5           Kt to Kt square
9 P to R3           B to R4
10 Kt to KR2        B to Kt3
11 B to Q3          QKt to Q2
12 B to K3          Kt to B4
13 P to B3          Kt takes B
14 P takes Kt       Kt to Q2
15 P to KKt4        P to QR3
16 Kt to K2         B to Kt4
17 B to B2          B to R5
18 B to K3          B to Kt4
19 B to B2          B to R5
20 B to K3          B to Kt4


J. H. Blackburne, H. E. Bird, F. J. Lee, and J. Mason,
           Sept. 12th to Sept. 23rd, 1892.

Of the eighteen games competed for by the above, eight are
worthy to be placed in a first class collection. They are--No. 1,
"Evans Gambit Declined," (Bird v. Blackburne) which is thought
in some respects the best, as illustrating the styles and resources
of the two players, besides containing many instructive phases.
No. 4, "A Vienna Opening," between Blackburne and Mason, was
a game of considerable enterprise and interest, though the latter
missed an ingenious and promising opportunity, which would
have given him a considerable advantage, sufficient for so careful
and reliable a player (who seldom misses chances) to have won.
No. 7, a Kt to Q5 defence to the Ruy Lopez) a form not approved
by the authorities, condemned once more by Mr. Hoffer, in the
Field, but passed without comment by Mr. Mason in the B. C. M.)
was a popular game with the spectators and was won by Bird,
defending against Blackburne, who also succeeded in No. 17 on
the last day against Mason with a Sicilian in a short and
decisive game, pleasing and amusing to the lookers on who liked
to see a lively and decisive game. No. 9, "A Queen's Pawn
opening" produced fine combinations and critical positions and
a brilliant finish (Bird scoring from Lee). No. 11, "A Two
Knight's Defence" terminated in a clever and meritorious victory
for Mason as second player over Bird.

The above six games were the most entertaining of the series,
viz.--l, 4, 7, 9, 11 & 17.

No. 5 Lee and Blackburne, Kt to KB3, and No. 12, Blackburne
and Lee, a Ruy Lopez were steady, but rather dull, but furnished
excellent specimens of Blackburne's skill and masterly conduct
of end games.

Next to the foregoing eight games in order of interest were
No. 3, Bird and Lee. Counter Queen's Pawn opening and No.
13, Bird and Blackburne KP one, these, though both drawn, were
steady, well-played and instructive games. In No. 2, Lee and
Mason, a Petroff, the former should have drawn, but lost on his
75th move. In No. 6, Mason was at a decided disadvantage with
Bird who committed an ingenious suicide in a game he could
have drawn.

In No. 13, a Kt to KB3 opening, P KB4 reply. Lee had much
the better game with a Pawn more against Mason, but made a
palpable blunder at his 34th move and resigned.

No. 8, a tame draw in 18 moves, Mason and Lee 10, Mason and
Blackburne, 28 moves, not much better 16, Blackburne and Mason
30 moves, of no interest, and No. 18, the last game 20 moves
between Lee and Blackburne, from which something was expected,
but which baffles polite description, and cannot be dignified by
the name of, or as a game, completes the list. This was a Four
Knights game, 15 Blackburne and Mason a Giuoco Piano 30 moves
was a lamentable specimen of wood shifting.

The following game presented some very instructive positions
towards the close:

Game played in the Masters' Tournament, 16th September, 1892,
between Messrs. H. E. Bird and F. J. Lee.

  White              Black
   LEE               BIRD
1 P to Q4           P to Q4
2 Kt to KB3         P to K3
3 P to B4           Kt to KB3
4 P to K3           QKt to Q2
5 B to Q3           B to K2
6 Kt to B3          Castles
7 Castles           R to K square
8 P to QKt3         P to B3
9 B to Kt2          B to Q3
10 Q to B2          P takes P
11 P takes P        B to Kt square
12 Kt to K2         Q to R4
13 P to B5          P to K4
14 B to B3          Q to Q square
15 Kt to Kt3        P takes P
16 B takes P        Kt to K4
17 B takes Kt       B takes B
18 Kt takes B       R takes Kt
19 KR to Q square   Q to K2
20 QR to B square   B to Kt5
21 P to B3          B to K3
22 R to K square    P to KKt3
23 P to B4          R to Q4
24 P to K4          R to Q5
25 P to B5          QR to Q square!
26 P to K5!         Kt to Kt5
27 P takes B        R takes B
28 P takes P ch     Q takes P
29 Kt to K4         Q to KB5
30 Q to QB4 ch      K to Kt2
31 P to KKt3        Q to R3
32 R to B2          R to Q8. Good
33 Q to K2          R takes R ch
34 Q takes R        Q to K6 ch
35 K to B square    Q to KB6 ch
36 R to KB2         Q to R8 ch
37 K to K2          Q takes K8 ch


H. E. Bird, J. H. Blackburne, F. Lee, and J. Mason.

                    FIRST ROUND.

September 12--Blackburne drew with Bird, Lee v. Mason
adjourned after forty-two moves. Resumed on Thursday, Mason

September 13--Bird drew with Lee, Blackburne beat Mason.

September 14--Blackburne beat Lee, Mason beat Bird.

                    SECOND ROUND.

September 15--Bird beat Blackburne, Lee drew with Mason.

September 16--Bird beat Lee; Blackburne drew with Mason.

September 19--Bird lost to Mason, Blackburne beat Lee.

                    THIRD ROUND.

September 20--Bird drew to Blackburne, Lee lost to Mason.

September 22--Bird drew with Lee, Blackburne drew with

September 23--Bird beat Mason, Blackburne v. Lee, drawn.

          Blackburne won 2 out of 3 from Mason.
          Mason       "  2    "   3   "  Bird.
          Bird        "  2    "   3   "  Blackburne.
              These three scores being equal.

Blackburne and Mason each won 2 1/2 out of 3 with Lee, but Bird
only 2 out of 3.

     Final score--J. H. Blackburne... ...   5 1/2
                  J. Mason ...    ... ...   5 1/2
                  H. E. Bird      ... ...   5
                  F. J. Lee ...   ... ...   2

            GAME No. 7.--RUY LOPEZ ATTACK.
          Kt to Queen's fifth Defence (Bird.)
    Note. This defence is condemned by all authorities.
The following was considered the game of the Tournament and
must be admired:

  White             Black          White              Black
BLACKBURNE          BIRD          BLACKBURNE          BIRD
1 P to K4         P to K4        25 P takes P        B to B5
2 Kt to KB3       QKt to B3      26 B to K2          B takes B
3 B to Kt5        Kt to Q5       27 R takes B        P to Q4
4 Kt takes Kt     P takes Kt     28 P takes P        R takes R
5 P to Q3         P to KR4       29 Kt takes R       P takes P
6 P to QB3        B to B4        30 Kt to Q4         R to K square
7 Castles         P to QB3       31 P to B5          R to K5
8 B to R4         P to Q3        32 Kt to K6 ch      K to Q3
9 Q to K square   Q to B3        33 Kt to Kt7        R takes P
10 K to R square  Kt to R3       34 P to B6          Kt to B2
11 P to KB3       P to R5        35 Kt to B5 ch      K to K4
12 B to B2        B to Q2        36 Kt takes P       P to Q5
13 P takes P      B takes P      37 Kt to Kt6 ch     K to K5
14 Kt to B3       Castles QR     38 K to Kt square   R to Kt7
15 B to K3        QR to K square 39 P to KR4         P takes P en pas
16 B takes B      Q takes B      40 P takes P        P to Q6
17 Q to B2        Q takes Q      41 R to K square ch K to B4
18 R takes Q      P to KKt4      42 Kt to K7 ch      K takes P
19 P to QKt4      P to KB4       43 Kt to Q5 ch      K to B4
20 R to K2        P to Kt5       44 Kt to K3 ch      K to Kt3
21 P to KB4       KR to B square 45 Kt to B4         R takes P
22 R to KB square K to B2        46 R to Q square    P to Kt4
23 B to Q square  B to K3        47 Kt to Q2         Kt to Kt4
24 R to QB2       P takes P      48 K to B square    Kt takes P

Mr. Blackburne might as the annotators observe well have
resigned here, he did so on the 73rd move.

This was also a game of great interest which Black should have
been contented to draw after his ill-judged and fanciful 29th move
had destroyed his chance of winning.

  White            Black         White              Black
  MASON            BIRD          MASON              BIRD
1 P to K4        P to Q4       16 B takes Kt      Q takes B
2 P takes P      Q takes P     17 P to QKt4       P to QR4
3 Kt to QB3      Q to Q square 18 Kt to B2        P takes P
4 P to Q4        P to KKt3     19 Kt takes P      Q to Q3
5 B to KB4       B to Kt2      20 Q to K2         P to QB4
6 Kt to Kt5      Kt to QR3     21 P takes P       Q takes P
7 P to QB3       P to QB3      22 QR to QB square QR to Q square
8 Kt to R3       Kt to B2      23 KR to Q square  Q to R4
9 Kt to B3       Kt to B3      24 B to K3         R takes R ch
10 P to KR3      KKt to Q4     25 Q takes R       R to Q square
11 B to Q2       Castles       26 Kt to Q4        Q to K4
12 B to Q3       R to K square 27 Q to K square   Kt takes Kt
13 Castles       Kt to K3      28 P takes Kt      Q to K5
14 R to K square P to QKt4     29 P to KB3        Q takes B ch
15 B to K4       B to QKt2     30 Q takes Q       B takes P

Mason played the opening of this the following game with spirit
and originality, but missed advantageous opportunities at moves
14 and 18, and Blackburne remaining with a superior position
and Pawn more won easily in the end game.

   White       Black         White        Black
1 P to K4     P to K4     11 QKt to B4  B to R3 ch
2 Kt to QB3   Kt to KB3   12 P to Q3    QR to K square
3 P to B4     P to Q4     13 P to KKt3  Q to Kt5
4 BP takes P  Kt takes P  14 K to Kt2   R takes P
5 Q to B3     P to KB4    15 P takes Kt Q takes Q ch
6 Kt to R3    Kt to QB3   16 K takes Q  P takes P ch
7 B to Kt5    Q to R5 ch  17 K to Kt2   P to Kt4
8 K to B      B to B4     18 Kt takes P R takes Kt
9 Kt takes P  Castles     19 Kt to R3   R to Kt3
10 B takes Kt P takes B   20 B to B4    B to K7

  White           Black         White        Black
  BIRD             LEE          BIRD          LEE
1 P to K3        P to K4     31 P to R3     R to KB2
2 P to QKt3      P to Q4     32 K to R2     Q to Q
3 B to Kt2       B to Q3     33 R to QB     P to QR4
4 Kt to KB3      Q to K2     34 R to KKt    P takes P
5 P to B4        P to QB3    35 P takes P   Q to K2
6 P takes P      P takes P   36 B to B5     Q to Q
7 Kt to B3       Kt to KB3   37 B to Q4     Q to K2
8 Kt to Kt5      Kt to B3    38 B to B3     B to R3
9 Kt takes B ch  Q takes Kt  39 Q to R3     B to K7
10 B to Kt5      P to K5     40 P to KKt5   BP takes P
11 Kt to K5      Castles     41 P takes P   P to Q5
12 B takes Kt    P takes B   42 B takes P   R takes B
13 R to QB       B to Kt2    43 P takes R   P takes P
14 Castles       Kt to Q2    44 R to B2     P to Kt5
15 P to B4       Kt takes Kt 45 Q to Kt3    B to B6
16 B takes Kt    Q to K2     46 R to QR     R takes P
17 B to Q4       KR to K     47 R to R8 ch  K to R2
18 Q to Kt4      P to B3     48 K to Kt     Q takes P
19 R to B5       P to QR3    49 Q to R4 ch  K to Kt3
20 KR to QB      QR to B     50 R to KR8    P to Kt6
21 P to B5       K to R      51 Q to R7 ch  K to B3
22 R to KB       R to B2     52 Q to R4 ch  K to Kt3
23 R to KB4      Q to B2     53 Q to R7 ch  K to B3
24 Q to R3       R to KB     54 Q to R4 ch  K to Kt3
25 P to KKt4     K to Kt     55 Q to R7 ch  K to B3
26 Q to Kt3      P to R3     56 Q to R4 ch  R to Kt4
27 P to Kt4      R to Q2     57 Q to B4 ch  K to Kt3
28 R to QB       R to QR     58 R takes B   P takes R
29 P to KR4      Q to K2     59 Q to K4 ch  R to B4
30 R to B5       R to KB     60 Q to K6 ch  R to B3

Lee for once in this Tournament worked his very hardest and
his 41st move was of the highest order. Bird's attack seemed

And the game was drawn after 73 moves.

The games in the amateur competitions for spirit and liveliness
contrasted in many instances with some in the Masters'
Tournament, and we would gladly have given a larger selection of
them had they reached us a little earlier.

The proceedings of the North of Ireland Congress and its play
were worthy of a special work.

  White           Black        White           Black
R. S. GAMBLE     R. BOYD    R. S. GAMBLE      R. BOYD
1 P to K4        P to K4    19 P to Q5        P to QB4
2 Kt to KB3      Kt to QB3  20 R to K4        P to B3
3 B to QKt5      B to B4    21 B to B4        QR to K square
4 P to QB3       Kt to KB3  22 QR to K square P to KKt4
5 P to Q4        P takes P  23 B to R2        K to R square
6 P to K5        Kt to KKt5 24 P to KKt4      Kt to R5
7 P takes P      B to QKt3  25 Kt takes Kt    P takes Kt
8 Castles        Castles    26 Q to R6        B to Q square
9 P to KR3       Kt to KR3  27 R to K6        B to Kt2
10 B to K3       Kt to KB4  28 Q to R5        B to K2
11 Q to Q3       P to Q3    29 Q to KB5       B to Q square
12 B takes Kt    P takes B  30 B takes P      R to KKt square
13 B to Kt5      Q to Q2    31 Kt to K4       B to B square
14 P takes P     P takes P  32 Kt takes P     R takes R
15 Kt to QB3     P to QR4   33 R takes R      Q to KB2
16 R to K square B to QKt2  34 B to K5        B to B2
17 P to Kt3      B to R3    35 Kt takes R ch  B takes B
18 Q to Q2       B to B2
                        and wins.

  White            Black
1 P to K4         P to Q4
2 P takes P       Q takes P
3 Kt to QB3       Q to Q square
4 P to Q4         Kt to KB3
5 B to K2         B to B4
6 B to K3         P to K3
7 P to QR3        B to K2
8 Kt to KB3       Castles
9 Kt to K5        Kt to K5
10 B to B3        Kt takes Kt
11 P takes Kt     P to QB3
12 P to KKt4      B to Kt3
13 Q to Q2        Q to B2
14 P to KR4       P to KR3
15 P to R5        B to R2
16 P to Kt5       P takes P
17 KR to Kt       B to Q3
18 Kt to Q3       P to B3
19 K to K2        Kt to Q2
20 R to Kt2       QR to K1
21 P to R6        P take P
22 QR to R square K to Kt2
23 R takes P      K takes R
24 B take P ch
   and mates in three moves.

Game played in the Championship Tournament (Tie) between
Messrs. E. A. Robinson and W. L. Harvey, September 27th, 1892:

  White                  Black
W. L. HARVEY            E. A. ROBINSON
1 P to K4               P to K4
2 Kt to KB3             Kt to QB3
3 B to Kt5              Kt to KB3
4 P to Q3               P to Q3
5 P to B3               P to QR3
6 B to R4               B to Q2
7 Kt to Q2              P to KKt3
8 Kt to B square

Steinitz favours this continuation, which however is considered
to lose time for White's attack.

8                       B to Kt2
9 B to B2               Kt to K2
10 B to K3

10 B to KKt5 at once seems to be much better.

10                      Kt to Kt5
11 B to KKt5            P to KB3
12 B to R4              B to K3
13 P to KR3             Kt to R3
14 Q to Q2              Kt to B2
15 Kt to K3             Q to Q2
16 P to Q4              P to B3
17 P to Q5

17 P to QB4 is preferable at this point.

17                      P takes P
18 P takes P            B to B4
19 B takes B

Turning the chances in favour of Black. If 19 Kt takes B,
leaving Bishops of different colours, there is all appearance of a

19                      Kt takes B
20 P to KKt4            Kt takes B
21 Kt takes Kt          Kt to Kt4
22 Q to K2              Castles KR
(one hour)
23 Castles QR           P to QKt4
24 Kt (on R4) to Kt2    Q to QB2
25 P to KR4             Kt to B2
26 P to R5              P to Kt4
27 Kt to B5

Threatening trouble by P to R6, followed by Kt to Kt7, &c.

27                      P to R3
28 Q to K4 (!)          Kt to Q square
29 Kt (on Kt2) to K3    Kt to Kt2
30 Kt takes B           Q takes Kt
31 Q to Kt6

The position here bristles with interest. Examination will
show that Black is in more serious danger than lies on the surface.

31                      P to KB4
32 Kt takes P           R takes Kt

Judiciously giving up the exchange and Pawn to escape the
fatal attack threatened on Rook's file.

33 P takes R            R to B square
34 R to R2              R to B3
35 Q to K8 ch           K to R2
36 P to KB4             Kts P takes P
37 R (on R2!) to R square

The other R to R square, doubling, seems much stronger. If
then R x P, 38 Q to Kt6 ch! From this point White plays a
weak game.

37                      R takes P
38 Q to Kt6 ch          Q takes Q
39 P takes Q ch         K takes P
40 P to QKt4            P to K5
41 R (Q sq) to Kt sq ch R interposes
42 K to Q2              Kt to Q square
43 R takes R ch         P takes R
44 R to R8

After this it is only a matter of time. The Pawns cannot be

44                      Kt to B2
45 R to Kt8 ch          K to R2
46 R to K8              P to K6 ch
47 K to K2              K to Kt3
48 R to K6 ch           K to B4
49 R to K7              Kt to K4
50 R to K8              P to Kt5
51 R to B8 ch

Driving him where he wants to go!

51                      K to K5
52 R to B6              P to B6 ch
53 K to Q sq            P to Kt6
54 R to B8              P to Kt7
55 R to Kt8             P to B7



The Arabs are the first we read of among the people of the
East who excelled in playing chess without seeing the board. The
introduction to one of Dr. Lee's manuscripts in his Oriental
collection, relates examples of the early Mohammedan doctors,
and even of companions and followers of the Prophet, who either
themselves played chess or were spectators of the game. Some of
them also are said to have played behind their back, i.e. without
looking at the board, and it may not be generally known that the
manuscript in the British Museum 16,856 copied in 1612, which
is a translation and abridgment of an older work in Arabic,
contains a full chapter with a lengthy description, combined with
maxims and advice for playing chess without seeing the board.
Al Suli, who died A.D. 946, and Ali Shatranji, at Timur's Court,
1377 A.D. (the chess giants of their respective ages), were each
highly proficient in Blindfold Chess. A man named Buzecca, in
1266, on the invitation of Guido du Novelli, the friend and
munificent patron of Dante, and who was Master of Ravenna, gave
an exhibition of his powers at Florence, which occasioned much
surprise and admiration.

The unknown author of the famous and unique manuscript,
bequeathed by Major Price, the eminent Orientalist, to the Asiatic
Society, which has formed the subject of so much discussion among
the learned, parades his own chess prowess, in a manner not
unworthy of some great chess exponents of the present age. "And
many a one," he says in his preface, "has experienced a relief
from sorrow and affliction in consequence of this magic recreation";
and this same fact has been asserted by the celebrated physician
Muhammad Zakaria Razi, in his book entitled: "The Essence of
Things": "And such is likewise the opinion of the physician Ali
Bin Firdaus, as I shall notice more fully towards the end of the
present works, for the composing of which I am in the hope of
receiving my reward from God, who is Most High and Most

The philosopher continues: "I have passed my life since the
age of fifteen years among all the masters of chess living in my
time, and since that period till now, when I have arrived at middle
age, I have travelled through Irak Arab, and Irak Ajam, and
Khurasan, and the regions of Mawara al Nahr (Transoxania), and
I have there met with many a master in this art, and I have played
with all of them, and through the favour of Him who is Adorable
and Most High I come off victorious."

"Likewise in playing without seeing the board I have overcome
most opponents, nor had they the power to cope with me. I the
humble sinner now addressing you, have frequently played with
one opponent over the board and at the same time I have carried
on four different games, with as many adversaries, without seeing
the board, whilst I conversed freely with my friends all along,
and through the Divine favour I conquered them all. Also in the
great chess, I have invented sundry positions as well as several
openings, which no one else ever imagined or contrived."

Notwithstanding the accounts and allusions to Blindfold Chess
here referred to, it would seem to have been generally unknown
to us at the time when Philidor performed his intellectual feat of
playing two games blindfold, and one over the board, on several
occasions at the St. James Street Chess Club, about a century ago.
The club which was held at Parsloes Hotel, was formed in 1770,
and its members comprised many prominent, celebrated, and
distinguished men: Pitt, Earl of Chatham, C. J. Fox, Rockingham,
St. John, Mansfield, Wedderburn, Sir G. Elliott, and other
well-known names are recorded among the visitors and spectators there.
Whilst the players who contended against Philidor at the slightest
shade of odds included Sir Abraham Janssens, the Hon. Henry
Conway, Count Bruhl, Mr. George Atwood (mathematician and
one of Pitt's financial secretaries), Dr. Black, the Rev. Mr.
Boudler, and Mr. Cotter. Stamma, of Aleppo, engaged in London
on works of translation, and who was one of the best chess players,
was matched against Philidor, but won only one out of eight games.
These contests took place at Slaughter's Coffee House, in St.
Martin's Lane, long a principal meeting place for leading chess
players. Philidor does not seem to have tried more than two
games blindfold, but such was the astonishment they caused at the
time, that doubts were expressed whether such an intellectual feat
would ever be repeated; and certainly from the tenor of press
notices of the event, and Philidor's own memoranda, it seems that
it could not have been contemplated or conceived that
performances on the scale we have witnessed in our days by Louis
Paulsen, 1; Paul Morphy, 2; J. H. Blackburne, 3; and Dr. J. H.
Zukertort, 4, would become, comparatively speaking, so common
in a future generation. The following article, from a newspaper
of the period, was thought to reflect with tolerable accuracy the
general impression prevailing at the time in regard to these

The World, a London newspaper in its issue of the 28th May,
1783, makes the following remarks upon Philidor's performance
of playing two games simultaneously without sight of the board.
It scarcely, however, comes up to our American cousin's views of
Morphy in 1858, just three-quarters of a century later. It says:
"This brief article is the record of more than sport and fashion,
it is a phenomenon in the history of man and so should be hoarded
among the best samples of human memory, till memory shall be
no more. The ability of fixing on the mind the entire plan of two
chess tables without seeing either, with the multiplied vicissitudes
of two and thirty pieces in possible employment on each table, is a
wonder of such magnitude as could not be credible without
repeated experience of the fact."

Philidor himself notes also, being of opinion that an entire
collection of the games he has played without looking over the chess
board would not be of any service to amateurs, he will only publish
a few parties which he has played against three players at once,
subjoining the names of his respectable adversaries in order to
prove and transmit to posterity a fact of which future ages might
otherwise entertain some doubt.

During the years 1855-6 and 7, Louis Paulsen at Chicago, and
other cities in the west of America, first accomplished the feat of
playing ten games at chess simultaneously, without seeing the board
or pieces, now familiarly called Blindfold Chess; and at Bristol, in
1861, and at Simpson's Divan, London, in the same year, he repeated
the performance, on the last occasion meeting twelve very
powerful opponents.

The phenomenon Paul Morphy, from New Orleans, when twenty
years of age only, conducted eight games blindfold at Birmingham,
in August, 1858, losing one to Dr. Salmon of Dublin, drawing
with Mr. Alderman Thomas Avery, and winning the remaining
six. Morphy at Paris, in March, 1859, repeated the performance,
and won all eight games; his play was superb, and all agree has
never been surpassed, if equalled, and drew forth press notice
even more gushing than that bestowed upon his predecessor

J. H. Blackburne appeared in 1862, and with Louis Paulsen,
the pioneer of the art upon the extended scale, was engaged by
the British Chess Association at their International Gathering, in
1862, to give blindfold exhibitions; each played ten games with
great success, amid much appreciation. Mr. Blackburne's
subsequent thirty years blindfold chess is too well known to require
comment, he is admitted to be second to none in the exposition of
the art, some even claim superiority for him over all others.

Dr. Zukertort, on the 21st December, 1876, at the St. George's
Chess Club, contended blindfold with sixteen competitors,
comprising the best players that could be found to oppose him. From
a physiological point of view Zukertort's powers appear the most
extraordinary, because his abstraction for chess was far less
pronounced, and his mind seemed to be of a more varied and even
discursive kind. It would scarcely have been less surprising to
have seen players like Staunton, Buckle, or Der Lasa performing
blindfold chess.

The number of players of all grades of chess force who now
can play without seeing the board is amazing; a tournament for
blindfold play only could well be held. The faculty of playing
chess blindfold is thought to apply mostly to those who have
extraordinary retentive memories of a peculiar kind, and great
powers of abstraction very slightly brought into action or diverted
by other pursuits. This seems to be confirmed in considering the
great chess exponents who have played blindfold, and those who
have not, a comparison has been adduced but which might seem
invidious to expatiate on.

NOTE. Sachieri, a Jesuit of Turin, who lived in the 17th century,
had a most surprising memory. He could play at chess with three
different persons without seeing one of the three boards, his
representative only telling him every move of the adversary.
Sachieri would direct him what man to play, and converse with
company all the time. If there happened a dispute about the
place of a man, he could repeat every move made by both parties
from the beginning of the game, in order to ascertain where the
man ought to stand. He could deliver a sermon an hour long in the
same words and order in which he heard it. This is very remarkable,
as the Italian sermons are unmethodical and unconnected, and full
of sentences and maxims.

Blackburne does the same. At one of the few blindfold performances
I have witnessed by him, viz., at Montreal, in 1889, during our
adjournment to dinner the positions had become disarranged, but
Blackburne on resumption called over all the eight games, with
great facility, and perfect accuracy, the resumption being delayed
not more than five minutes.

The Razi referred to above (called by our medieval writers Rhasis)
was a celebrated physician of Bagdad, where he died about A.D. 922.

The Author of the British Museum M.S. says:

"Some men from long practice, have arrived at such a degree of
perfection in this art, as to have played blindfold at four or
five boards at one and the same time, and never to have committed
a mistake in any of the games." He further tells us that--"some
have been known to have recited poetry, or told amusing stories,
or conversed with the company present, during the progress of the
contest." In another sentence he says--"I have seen it written in
a book, that one man played blindfold at ten boards simultaneously,
and gained all the games; he even corrected many errors committed
by his opponents and friends, in describing the moves.

It was a saying in the East, "He plays at chess like Al Suli."
So that many believed him to be the inventor of this game, but

The Arabians say that a certain great man showed one of his
friends his garden, full of fine flowers, and said to him,
"Did you ever see a finer sight than this? Yes," he replied,
"Al Suli's game at chess is more beautiful than this garden
and everything that is in it."

Al Suli died A. D. 946.


The writer is not enamoured of blindfold play, preferring not
to attempt to do that without his eyes, which he can do better
with. "Blindfold Play" the term used nowadays, or "playing
behind your back," as one of the old Arabian manuscripts has it,
seems not the most happy expression for the art, playing "Sans
Voir" or without sight of chess board or pieces clearly expresses
it. Good players, actually blind, may be mentioned, the writer
has played with such, in a simultaneous exhibition of chess play
at Sheffield, a game against two blind boys from the Asylum,
proved one of the best contested and most interesting in the series,
and these bright but afflicted lads evidently, with their kind
attendant, derived the greatest pleasure from the meeting.



Elaborate and learned works have appeared treating on the
supposed origin of chess. Oriental manuscripts, Eastern fables,
and the early poets have been quoted to prove its antiquity, and
it would not be easy to name any subject upon which so much
valuable labour and antiquarian research has been bestowed, with
so little harmonious or agreed result as to opinions concerning
the first source of this wonderful game.

That chess reached Persia from India in the first half of the
Sixth century, during the reign of Chosroes, is well attested, and
concurred in by all historians from the Arabian and Persian
writers, the beautiful and accomplished Greek Princess Anna
Comnena, and the Asiatic Society's famous manuscript to Dr. Hyde
and Sir William Jones, and Sir Frederick Madden and Professor
Duncan Forbes, China, also, admits the receipt of chess from
India in the year 537, and got it about the same time as Persia.

Whatever difference of opinion may exist as to the exact spot
from whence chess first sprung, its Asiatic origin is undoubted.
The elephant, ship, or boat in the game was illustrative of its
mode of warfare. The identity of the pieces in the ancient game
with ours of the present day affords striking confirmation of it,
whilst the most competent and esteemed authorities who have
devoted the greatest attention and research to the subject deem
the evidence of language conclusive proof that the Persian
Chatrang, which we first hear of under date of about 540 A.D.,
was derived from the ancient Hindu Chaturanga, found described
in original Sanskrit records.

It is generally assumed on very fair inferences that the
Arabians were expert chess players, and also excelled in
blindfold play. The game was known among them in the days of the
prophet, 590 to 632, who finding some engaged at chess asked
them, "What images are these which you are so intent upon?"
For they seemed to have been new to him, the game having been
very lately introduced into Arabia from Persia. Nice gradations
of skill were observed among them, and thirteen degrees of odds
are enumerated among them down to the rook. To give any odds
beyond the rook, says one of the manuscripts, can apply only to
women, children, and tyros. For instance, a man to whom even
a first-class player can afford to give the odds of a rook and a
knight has no claim to be ranked among chess players. In fact
the two rooks in chess are like the two hands in the human body,
and the two knights are, as it were, the feet. Now that man has
very little to boast of on the score of manhood and valour who
tells you that he has given a sound thrashing to another man who
had only one hand and one foot. It may be observed, however,
that proportionately to the value of all the pieces in the old game,
as compared with the present, the rook and knight would be
equivalent to queen and rook with us.

The earliest Greek reference brought to notice is in a laconic
correspondence between the Emperor Nicephorus of Constantinople,
successor to the Princess Irene, and the famous Harun Ar
Rashid of Bagdad, the fifth of the Abbasside dynasty, in 802, which
mentions Pawn and Rook, implying that his predecessor in
paying tribute resembled rather the former for weakness than the
latter for strength; but it had probably been known among the
Greeks before the death of Justinian, in 565, as he was
contemporary with Chosroes, and these rulers were at peace and in
friendly terms of communication, allowing interpretations of their
respective records, which seem to have been of mutual interest.

All the writers who assert that the ancient Greeks and Romans
were unacquainted with chess have overlooked the Roman edict
of 115 B.C., in which both chess and Draughts were specially
exempted from prohibition.

Such consideration as can be found devoted to the game or
games of the Egyptians mainly relates to hypothesis and conjectures
in regard to the inscriptions recorded to have been discovered on
tombs and the temples generally, and especially on the wall of
the great palace of Medinet Abu at Egyptian Thebes, which,
according to the most approved authorities, derived from the
scrolls, relates to the time of Ramesses Meiammun the 16th, out
of the 17 monarchs of the 18th dynasty, who as is supposed,
reigned from 1559 to 1493 B.C., and constructed Medinet Abu,
and is pronounced most likely to be the monarch represented on
its walls. His title is Ramses, and he is considered to have been
the grandfather of Sesostris 1st of the 19th dynasty, whose reign is
stated as from 1473 to 1418 B.C.

Some discussion arose in chess circles in 1872 in reference to
Mr. Disraeli's mention of chess in one of his books. Chapter 16 of
"Alroy" begins--"Two stout soldiers were playing chess in a
coffee-house," and Mr. Disraeli inserts on this the following note
(80). On the walls of the palace of Amenoph II, called Medinet
Abuh, at Egyptian Thebes, the King is represented playing chess
with the Queen. This monarch reigned long before the Trojan

A writer, who styled himself the author of Fossil Chess, in
criticising the above, refers to Sir Gardiner Wilkinson's work,
"A popular account of the ancient Egyptians, which declares the
game to resemble draughts, the pieces being uniform in pattern."
The same critic further remarks, "In the same work may be
found some account of the paintings in the tomb of Beni Hassan,
presumably the oldest in Egypt, dating back from the time of
Osirtasen I, twenty centuries before the Christian era, and eight
hundred years anterior to the reign of Rameses III, by whom the
temple of Medinet Abuh was commenced, and who is the Rameses
portrayed on its walls. An unaccountable error on Mr. Disraeli's
part in the same note assigns its erection to Amenoph II, who
lived 1414 B.C.

The eminent and revered writer and statesman may not have
selected the supposed best authorities for his dates, but the
sapient critic indulges in a strange admixture of misconception.
However, Egyptian chronology is not fully agreed upon, even
Manetho and Herodotus differ some 120 years as to the time of
Sesostris, and Bishop Warburton, we read, was highly indignant
with a scholar, one Nicholas Man, who argued for the identity of
Osiris and Sesostris after he (the bishop) had said they were to be
distinguished. Respecting English origin, all authorities down to
the end of the Eighteenth century agreed in ascribing the first
knowledge of chess to the time of William the Conqueror, or to
that of the return of the first Crusaders.

Perhaps, however, it reached us in the days of Charlemagne,
and may well have done so through Alcuin of York, his friend
and tutor in the reigns of Offa and of Egbert.

Al Walid, 705-715; Harun, 786-809; the great Al Mamun,
813 to 833; and Tamerlane, 1375 to 1400, are monarchs who
honoured their chess opponents when beaten. Charlemagne,
768-814, seems also to have taken defeat good-humouredly, and
Queen Elizabeth, who liked chess, philosophised upon it. Canute,
William the Conqueror, and Henry the Eighth, like the famous
Ras, of Abyssinia, whom Salt and Buckle inform us of, preferred
to win.

Chess, as it is now played, came down to us from the Fifteenth
century, when the queen of present powers was introduced, and
the extensions and improvements in the moves of the bishops and
the pawns and in castling effected, and which made the game
exactly what it now is. It has been so practised for four hundred
years without the slightest deviation or alteration, and with so
much continued satisfaction and advanced appreciation that any
change or modification suggested, however trifling, has been at
once discouraged and rejected, and additions proposed in the 17th
century (Carrera), 18th (Duke of Rutland), and 19th (Bird) were
regarded with no favour, and the objection that the game was
difficult enough already.

During the present century (especially in the second half) chess
has become vastly popular. The game is innocent and intellectual,
and affords the utmost scope for art and strategy, and for its
practice we have about five hundred clubs and institutions,
compared with the one club in St. James' Street, and Slaughter's,
in St. Martin's Lane, which existed in the last century, during the
height of Philidor's career, and two of the first half dozen. Chess
clubs started found rest on Irish soil, the first so early as the
year 1819.




Philidor's ascendancy and popularity in the last century, owing
to his remarkable and perhaps unprecedented supremacy combined
with the liberality of his treatment and the chivalry and
enthusiasm of his opponents, tended to create an entirely new era in
chess and its support. An interest became aroused of a most
important character, unknown in any previous age in England,
and which, though not fully maintained after his death, and least
of all among the higher classes who ranked so largely among his
patrons, was yet destined to have a marked and lasting influence
on the future development and progress of the game, most apparent
at first in England, but later nearly equally manifested in Germany,
since in America and other countries, and not exclusively
confined to any country, class, or creed.

Several auspicious circumstances had greatly contributed to aid
Philidor in his London career. Prominent among which were his
introduction to Lord Sandwich at the Hague. His patronage
through the same source by the Duke of Cumberland and the
never ceasing liberality of General Conway, the inestimable Count
Bruhl, the Dowager Lady Holland, and the gallant Sir Gilbert
Elliot of Gibraltar fame.

Of the players who encountered Philidor, Sir Abraham Janssens,
who died in 1775, seems to have been the best, Mr. George Atwood,
a mathematician, one of Pitt's secretaries came next, he was of a
class which we should call third or two grades of odds below
Philidor, a high standard of excellence to which but few amateurs

Some indication of the varied and important character of
Philidor's patronage is afforded by the names on the cover of his
edition of 1777, dedicated to the Duke of Cumberland.

Twenty-six ladies of title grace the list, including the historic
chess names of Devonshire, Northumberland, Bedford, Marlborough,
Rutland, with upwards of 300 male names comprising heads of
the Church, men illustrious at the bar and on the bench, statesmen,
politicians, cabinet ministers, and many most distinguished in
science, both in England and in France, with a long list of our
nobility. Devonshire is the earliest name mentioned in old
Chronicles connected with English chess, Olgar or Orgar, Earl of
Devonshire is recorded to have been playing chess with his
daughter Elstreth or Elpida when King Edgar's messenger
Athelwold arrived to ascertain the truth of the reports of her
extraordinary beauty. Northumberland is mentioned two
centuries later as a house in which chess was played. Caxton's
"Booke of Chesse," Bruges 1474, said by some to be the first book
printed in London, was dedicated to the Duke of Clarence,
Rowbotham's, 1561, to the Earl of Leicester, Lucy, Countess of
Bedford accepted dedication of A. Saul's quaint work, 1597 and
and Barbiere's edition of the same, 1640. The early love poem
of Lydgate, emblematical of chess was dedicated to the admirers
of the game, and the Duke of Rutland in the last century took
sufficient interest in it to devise an extension of chess.

NOTE. The names of the subscribers on Philidor's Analysis of
Chess, 1777, include Lord Sandwich and the Duke of Cumberland
for 10 and 50 copies respectively.

The Duchess of Argyle, the Duchess of Bedford, the Duchess of
Buccleuch, R. H. Lady de Beauclerk, Viscountess Beauchamp,
Miss Sophia Bristow, Marchioness of Carmarthen, Marchioness of
Lothian, Duchess of Montrose, Duchess of Devonshire, Countess of
Derby, Lady Derby, Madame Dillon, La Countesse de Forbach,
Dowager Lady Hunt, Dowager Lady Holland, La Countesse de Hurst,
Miss Jennings, the Duchess of Manchester, the Countess of Ossery,
the Countess of Powis, Lady Payne, the Marchioness of Rockingham,
the Right Hon. Lady Cecil Rice, the Countess Spencer, Lady
Frances Scott, Miss Mary Sankey, Miss West, and the Countess
of Pembroke.

Notwithstanding the enormous advance in chess, appreciation and
practice generally, we have never since been able to boast of a
list at all of this kind. There are Dukes Argyle, Athol, Ancaster,
Bedford, Bolton, Buccleuch, Cumberland, Devonshire, Leeds,
Manchester, Marlborough, Montague, Northumberland, Richmond,
Roxburgh; Marquis Carmarthen, Rockingham; Earl Ashburnham,
Besborough, Dartmouth, Egremont, Gower, Holderness, Northington,
Ossory, Powis, Spencer, Shelburne, Waldegrave; Lords, E. Bentinck,
Bateman, Barrington, Beauchamp, Breadalbane, G. Cavendish, John
Cavendish, Clifford, Denbigh, Fitzmaurice, Fitzwilliam, Falmouth,
Harrowby, Hillsborough, Irwine, Kerry, Kinnaird, March,
Mountstenart, North, Oxford, Palmerston, Polnarth, Robert Spencer,
Temple, Tyrunnell, Warwick, Willoughby de Broke, Amherst, Petre.

Among statesmen and politicians we find such names as the Earl
of Chatham, Pitt, C. J. Fox, Lord Godolphin, Lord Sunderland,
St. John and Wedderburn.

Prominent as players as well as supporters were General Conway,
Count Bruhl, the French Ambassador, Duke de Mirepois, the
Turkish Ambassador, Dr. Black, Sir Abram Janssens, G. Atwood,
(one of Pitts' secretaries), Mr. Jennings, Mr. Cotter, and the
Rev. Mr. Bouldeer.

Voltaire and Roussca were friends of Philidor, so also was
David Garrick the actor; supporters in the musical world were
numerous. A combination of high appreciation for chess and
music combined is often found.

Philidor died in 1795. Sir Abram Janssens had already departed
in 1775, as the recognized best player and one of the greatest
enthusiasts, his loss left a great void in chess, Scandigh,
Benedict, Prout and Asfra are musicians with whom we have
ourselves played chess.


                    THE CARLOVINGIAN DYNASTY

In A.D. 757 Constantine Capronymus, Emperor of the East sent to
King Pepin as a rare present the first organ ever seen in France.

                       CHARLEMAGNE'S WAGER

The romance of Guerin de Montglave turns wholly upon a game of
chess at which Charlemagne had lost his Kingdom to Guerin.

The short dialogue which preceded this game on which so great a
stake depended, as narrated by the hero of the story to his sons
is characteristic, and has thus been modernized by the Compte de
Tressan, "I bet," said the Emperor to me "that you would not play
your expectation against me on this chess board, unless I were to
propose some very high stake." "Done, replied I, I will play then,
provided only you bet against me your Kingdom of France." "Very good,
let us see," cried Charlemagne, who fancied himself to be strong
at chess. We play forthwith, I win his Kingdom, he falls a laughing
at it, but I swear by St. Martin and all the Saints of Aquitain, that
he must needs pay me by some sort of compensation or other. The
Emperor therefore by way of equivalent surrenders to Guerin, all
right to the City of Montglave, (Lyons), then in the hands of
Saracens which is forthwith conquered by the hero, who afterwards
names Mabolette the Soldan's daughter.

The earliest chess anecdote in France is given by Augustus,
Duke of Luneburg in his great work on chess. It is extracted
from an old Bavarian Chronicle, then in Library of Marcus Welsor,
and states that Okarius, Okar or Otkar, Prince of Bavaria had a
son of great promise, residing at the Court of King Pepin. One
day Pepin's son when playing at chess with the young Prince of
Bavaria, became so enraged at the latter for having repeatedly
beaten him that he hit him on the temple with one of his rooks so
as to kill him on the spot. This anecdote is confirmed in another
Bavarian Chronicle, and in the Guirinalia 1060. The acts of Saint
Guirin by Metellus of Tegernsee. The murder of Okar happened
during the reign of Pepin 752 to 768.

In another romance containing the history of Les Quatre Fils Aymsn,
we read that Duke Richard of Normandy was playing at chess with
Ivonnet, son of Regnant, (Rinalde) when he was arrested by the
officers of Regnant, who said to him, "Aryse up Duke Rycharde,
for in despite of Charlemagne who loveth you so much, ye shall
be hanged now. When Duke Rycharde saw that these sergeantes had
him thus by the arms and held in his hande a lively (dame) of
ivory where at he wolde have given a mate to Yennet he withdrew
his arme and gave to one of the sergeantes such a strike with it
into the forehead that he made him tumble over and over at his
feete, and then he tooke rocke and smote another at all opon his
head that he all loost it to the brayne.


NOTE. Speaking as a chess player, Bird is used, for matters
common or general, the editorial us or we is adopted, but
when expressing my own individual knowledge or opinion only,
I is preferred.


The temperaments of chess players vary, some get easily
disconcerted, disturbed and even distracted; others seem little
affected by passing events, a few, apparently not at all: some
even like a gallery and don't object to reasonable conversation;
by conversations or little interruptions which would pass unheeded
by a McDonnell or a Bird, or perhaps a Zukertortian would sadly
disconcert a Buckle or a Morphy, make Staunton angry, and drive
a Gossip to despair.

The attitude as well as the deportment and demeanour of chess
players at the board shows many varieties: Anderssen and Captain
Mackenzie were statuesque; Staunton, not quite so tall as the
Rev. J. Owen, seeming to be soaring up aloft. Harrwitz not quite
so small as Gunsberg, seemed sinking to the ground, but the story
that he once disappeared overawed by Staunton's style and manner
of moving, and was, after a search, found under the table, is a
mere canard of Staunton's which need not be too confidently
accepted. Harrwitz disliked being called a small German by
Staunton because it savoured too strongly of the sausage element,
saying if he makes sausage meat of me I will make mincemeat
of him.

Staunton pretended sometimes not to see Harrwitz, and would
look round the room and even under the chairs for him when he
was sitting at his elbow, which greatly annoyed Harrwitz, who,
however, sometimes got a turn, and was not slow to retaliate. In
a game one day, Staunton materially damaged his own prospects
by playing very tamely and feebly, and testily complained--"I
have lost a move." Harrwitz told the waiter to stop his work,
and search the room until he had found Staunton's lost move, and
his manner of saying it caused a degree of merriment by no
means pleasing to the English Champion.

Staunton was considered full-blooded, and his amiable French
opponent, who used to play for 5 pounds a game no doubt thought he
expressed himself favorably and forcibly when he said he is
one very nice, charmant man, but he is a "---- fool."

Staunton's celebrated stories about Lowenthal and Williams,
though very amusing to chess ears, I omit for obvious reasons,
though extremely funny as Staunton originally told them, and
as MacDonnell repeats them, they are probably not strictly founded
on fact, and are lacking of the respect to which the memories of
two such amiable and chivalrous chess players as Williams and
Lowenthal are entitled.



The question of stakes or money terms upon which chess is
played is a question of the first importance in the interests of
chess, and a few notes of my experience upon the subject may
not be inappropriate. After about three months looking on
at chess play in 1844, at Raymond's Coffee House near the
City Road Gate, where Dr. Michaelson of the Morning Post,
and Mr. Finley, a farrier, were the respective giants, and a
cup of coffee the usual stake, I learned the moves at chess, and
receiving the odds of a Queen for a few games, I happened
one day to hear with astonishment that the gentleman
conceding me the odds was not as I supposed, the champion of the
world, but that better players could be found at Goodes, Ludgate
Hill, and Simpson's in the Strand. To the former I soon resorted
and found Kling, Kuiper and Muckle, the principal professionals
there; a nominal fee of sixpence being the charge per game,
and Staunton, the champion had played many games at that rate.
It was some weeks before I mustered resolution to visit Simpson's
spacious and handsome hall, but, once arrived there, I made
myself at home. Lowe, Williams and Finch were the attendant
players there, and extensively they were supported. From each
received the Queen soon improving to the odds of the Knight, and
then playing even with them. Buckle alone, who did not mind
hard work, essayed to give me Pawn and move, but for a short
time only. One shilling a game has always been the recognized
stake at Simpson's, and also at St. Georges the principal London
Chess Club, but there have been exceptions, John Cochrane and
Bird, the Rev. G. A. MacDonnell and Bird, and S. Boden and Bird
never played for anything, and these ranked among the most
popular of games, and the players were favourite opponents. In
1873, Wisker was holder of the British Chess Association
Challenge Cup, but had never seen or played with Bird, who had
been for six years out of chess. An accidental meeting by them,
and the presence and intervention of Lowenthal and Boden, led
to the Wisker and Bird four matches, the first for 5 pounds, and the
other for credit of victory only. Anderssen and Bird always
played 5/- a game, Zukertort and Bird 2/6, Steinitz and Bird's first
sixteen games were without stakes, their match of 1866-7 for 25
pounds only. Before the year 1866, 10 pounds or 20 pounds a side
was a convenient and common stake for a match. Staunton and
Harrwitz, Staunton and Horwitz, Morphy and Anderssen, Steinitz
and Blackburne, Steinitz and Zukertort, and Falkbeer and Bird were
all within these figures. The Championship match in 1843, England and
France, between Staunton and St. Amant was for 100 pounds a side, but
the English player had to go to Paris, and the match was a long
one, and it was hoped even at that time that future matches would
be mainly for the honour of victory, and that the entire money
in the case would be a reasonable sum to liberally cover the
players' time and expenses. Morphy reluctantly played for 100 pounds
a side in 1858, but his matches with Anderssen, Harrwitz and
others were for merely nominal stakes. In 1866 a bad example
was set in the case of Steinitz and Anderssen, when 100 pounds a side
was played for, and although Steinitz and Blackburne, and
Zukertort and Blackburne were matches for 60 pounds a side the stakes
were only thus limited to the amount which could be conveniently
obtained from backers at the time. So stakes progressed until
Steinitz and Zukertort actually played for 400 pounds a side, a sum
neither party could afford to lose, even though they could tax their
chess supporters for it. Any chance of a return match which
Zukertort so much desired, became impossible, hence the
extraordinary depression of the great chess victor in two of the most
important Internationals ever held, viz., Paris in 1878, and
Criterion, London, 1883.

There is too much reason to fear that the result of this match,
and Zukertort's sensitiveness to supposed coolness towards him
afterwards mainly contributed to cause his premature break up
and untimely end. I always advised him before the match, in
justice to himself, to stipulate for a time limit of 20 or 25 moves
an hour, and not to play for more than 100 pounds a side, the
previous extreme maximum for the greatest matches, happy for him
if he had observed this rule; as he himself admitted. Zukertort
lived in the Walworth Road just past my single eleven years lodging
--5 Heygate Street; and he voluntarily confided many matters to
me during the last twelve months of his life, which was for certain
reasons fortunate. His two beautiful daughters, the sole care of
his life, are now provided for, one nine years of age, and the other
thirteen years of age, are being educated at or near Berlin by
Zukertort's mother and his married sister.

Returning to stakes, I have met here and there with an amateur
who has had scruples and preferred not even playing for the

Buckle, Lord Lyttleton, and many eminent in chess, were
strongly in favour of the customary small stake, and I have seen
dignitaries of the Church, and spotless amateurs, pocket their
shillings with as much gusto as the poor and much abused
professional. It is a kind of voucher to mark the score.

Professor Ruskin and others who have referred to this question,
saw no objection to the time-honoured stake, and it has been the
rule at the greatest clubs, for, by fixing a custom, it was hoped
to keep the stakes within prescribed limit. It must be admitted
that the difference between one shilling and 25 pounds, 50 pounds
or 100 pounds on a game is far too large.

Since the growth of the foreign demands for stakes, not thought
of in the days of Philidor, La Bourdonnais, McDonnell, Staunton
and Morphy, squaring between players, has been asserted, viz.--
in 1878, 1885, and 1887, besides which it has always seemed to
me that as the stakes go up the play goes down, and it certainly
would be difficult to name a match in which so few interesting
games took place as that between Steinitz and Zukertort for 400
pounds a side, played in the United States at New York, St. Louis
and New Orleans in 1886.

A sedate and rather severe looking stranger challenged Bird to
a game of chess once, just when Bird had finished a long sitting
with a strong player, and was in rather a lively mood. "A stake,
I suppose," said Bird. "No, I don't like stakes," said the stranger.
"Then suppose we say a chop, or even a basin of soup, fried sole,
or box of cigars." The stranger looked awful for a moment but
dismayed by the good temper of his vis a vis, suddenly relaxed
and conformed to the usual rule, and as the love tales conclude
was happy ever afterwards.

It is best to understand that the stake on each game is a
shilling, not to say simply we play for a shilling. Once, after an
eight hours sitting, a countryman after losing twenty games
blandly handed Mr. F. one shilling for the sitting, and could not
be induced to part with more.

Stakes at chess must not be confounded with the favourite
"Comestible." Missing Word calls it by that name. Meat is
sometimes pronounced by some we know almost like mate. An
Irishman addressing the cook instead of the mate once on board
of a vessel, said, " Are you the mate?" and was met with the
reply, "No, I am the man what cooks the mate." It was
remarked after a game that many checks were given without any
mate being obtained.

Another says, "The Queen in chess does all the work, yet the
King gets all the checks."

Mr. C. B., the well-known enthusiast, but not always successful
chess player dining with a friend at Simpson's one day, the latter
recurred to the changes which had taken place there and
expressed regret that the Grand chess Divan had been
transformed into a dining room. "Faix," said Mr. C. B. as he took
up a toothpick," It's the first time in my life that I ever felt
disposed to say grace after mate in this room."



Some players are very slow, hence one was called the
"Telegraph" and others by appropriate names of which I
recollect best "West Australian" and the "Flying Dutchman."
About forty years ago there were eight young and rising players
nearly approaching first class, they were S. S. Boden, the Rev.
W. Audrey, Captain Cunningham, G. W. Medley, J. Medley,
C. T. Smith, A. Simons and H. E. Bird. Three of these,
remarkable for ingenuity and sudden surprises had familiar
appellations. One was termed "The Snake," another that
"Old Serpent," I was "The enemy of the human race." A well known
looker on who used to lean over the board and talk a great deal
was called "The Coroner" because it was said he not only held
an inquest on the board, but also sat upon the body.

One wrote--
          "I saw them sitting at a board
             Like statues at a show,
           And I myself was also bored
             To find them move too slow."

Paulsen once after an hour's reflection moved his King one
square only, a lady observed "that it seemed a great time for
such a little move."

Three consultation games were played at one of the County
meetings which lasted together 48 hours, two were drawn and one

Some games in matches between Staunton and Williams, and
Paulsen and Kolisch about forty years ago were unduly protracted.
Against Medley the last named (Kolisch) took two hours for three
moves and this had much to do with the initiation of the time limit
with the encumbrances of sand glasses and clocks which the
majority of players still approve of.



At Purssell's, people used to eat chops, smoke cigars or pipes,
play chess, and talk cricket all at the same time, which seems to
contradict the assumption that it is impossible to do two things at
once. Some say they cannot play chess before dinner, others
not after dinner. Too much dinner is considered a fair excuse
for losing at chess, but no dinner at all is not a valid plea.

According to the Rev. A. B. Skipworth, who should be an
authority on the subject, professional chess players are not
supposed to dine at all, but our great friend, the genial Mars,
dissents from this view. Staunton, Boden, Steinitz, Mars and
Skipworth himself are essentially diners, and Bird has been
accused of a tendency that way.

The professionals so called are very few, compared with former
years, yet they find the beef for many a Chess Editor, who barely
supplies the salt.

It is not a desirable thing in England like it was in India,
Arabia and Sweden to have the reputation of being great in
chess, nor is it supposed now, as it was in the Arabian manuscript,
the Treasure of the Sciences, and Olaus Magnus' work to imply
any particular proof of wisdom and discretion or evidence of fitness
for other things and one is not likely to secure a patron, or a
post, much less a wife by it. An example of how professional chess
players are regarded and can be treated now-a-days is afforded
by the gradual extinction of the class, and absence of the only
two young masters from their native country. The British
Chess Magazine managers are not ignorant of the significance of
the course which they have and are still taking against chess
masters. The Rev. W. Wayte and the Rev. J. Owen, both of whom
have known for forty years, were captains of the respective
teams in a proposed monster match North v. South which took place
at the Great Western Hotel, Birmingham, on the 28th of January
last, the inception of which shows how enthusiasm and ability
can be treated by those who assume the management and control
of these contests. At the very outset before any disposition or
inclination of any kind in the matter was evinced by the masters
the self-appointed inceptors took upon themselves the very
superfluous and invidious task of barring all professionals, and the
Chairman who seems to have joined it recently, is the same
chess patron who would not support my proposal for the Jubilee
Tournament of 1887 (successfully carried out with the aid of the
Times) on the ground "that it was not within the province of
any player, however eminent and enthusiastic to usurp the
functions of the executive appointed for the purpose (whether
paid executive chose to take action or not). May we ask are the
parties who agitated this monster tournament, those who were
specially appointed for any such purpose. Who first thought of
the happy idea of covering amateurs' expenses, and of excluding
just those players likely to furnish the best and most instructive
and amusing games, such in fact as the public most like to see.

Does this abundance of contests answer one good end, does it
even divert attention from the fact that it is absorbing the funds,
if not strictly taking the place of the 1892 International Chess
Tournament which we are under engagement to our own public
and still more to foreign chess players to provide in return for
Breslau, Amsterdam and Dresden hospitality and meetings.

To return to dinners, next to them, headaches, stomach aches,
and indigestion often explain the loss of a game, whilst an acute
attack of gout is considered rather advantageous than otherwise.



I know players who have looked on at chess for years that
have never been seen to engage in a game. Occasionally the
occupiers of the earliest seats carry cigar cases, but more
frequently they do not. Some talk over the game obtrusively
which is not always convenient.

Such a one noticing that no money ever passed when Boden
and Bird played, patronizingly said to the former, "Mr. Boden, I
am so glad to find you do not care for 'filthy lucre.'" B. replied,
"It is not to the `filthy lucre' I object, but to the `filthy
looker on.'"

It is bad form for spectators to remove the pieces from the
board without the consent of the players, even if it be done for
the purpose of demonstrating more forcibly what move should be

One who never remained a spectator more than five minutes,
observed, all he desired was to get a birds-eye view of Bird's



Boden and Bird were favourite opponents for 25 years and
though very opposite in styles were, in the long run, singularly
even in their series. It was the practice of both to resign
at the proper moment. Bird, once it was thought, gave up too
early. "Oh, it is hopeless," said he. "I have my misgivings,
I cannot contend against such forebodings, one Boden is too much,
for me."

One player, who rarely scored a game, was likened to a very
great musical composer--"Beethoven"--(Beat often)!!

The excuse made for our old friend L., the hatter, that he was
not playing in his best tile hardly applied. Buckle, with his
proverbially `bad hat', usually under the table, yet invariably
played superbly.

A man of leather found his efforts to excel, bootless. The
retired fishmonger Umpleby played but a (f) visionary game.
The tailor complained that he played more like a goose than a



Jokes have been sometimes made about the pieces used in
chess. Even the calm and serene Mr. Lambe could not refrain
from being facetious in reference to the conversion of a Pawn or
private soldier into a Queen. Another remarked that the Queen
works very hard for a lazy King who alone gets all the checks.
Umpleby, the retired fishmonger in the chess story declared that
he would have been the best player in the world, but for the
Knights at chess which jumped about in the most unreasonable
and absurd manner without rhyme or reason, here there and
everywhere, and the lady who it was said was found engaged and
playing with thirty-two men remained single ever afterwards.
A rather boasting player once said, "I must win, I have a piece
--a (of) head." One answered, "You would be more likely to
win, if instead of a piece of a head, you had a whole head."

The Rooks occupy the corner squares, and may be played along
either of the files of squares they command.

Mr. Serjeant Drytong whose legal acumen was acknowledged
by all parties, was also distinguished for a pretty wit and great
skill in our Royal Game.

On one occasion he appeared for the Defendant in an action
brought by four persons to recover a sum of money lost by his
client in a betting transaction. In the course of his speech the
judge (C. J. Wontone) interrupting him asked, Do I understand
you to say that the Plaintiffs were standing two and two at each
end of the street in order to intercept the Defendant when he
came out. Not exactly two and two, my lord, said the counsel,
but as on a chess board. There was a Rook at every corner, only
these, as I shall show, did not act upon the square.

Miss Rooster, on one occasion when her dearest friend, Miss
Pullet called, was found so absorbed in studying a problem by
the great Schwerlagerbier, that her visitor could not obtain even
a sign of recognition. After various unsuccessful efforts to
attract the attention of the fair enthusiast, Miss Pullet departed,
and meeting an acquaintance immediately afterwards jocosely
remarked that she had left Miss Rooster engaged with thirty-two
men, whereby she acquired the reputation of being a dangerous
coquette. To this thoughtless jest Miss Rooster ascribed the
circumstance, that during the remainder of her life she walked
in meditation fancy free.



We have already seen that the Chess Masters whom the
Fortnightly Review have in a sense made immortal are
Lowenthal, Rosenthal, Horwitz, Zukertort, Winawer and Hoffer, the
writers seem to have forgotten his Lordship and Purssell's great
philosopher who have furnished more fun than all the above put
together, and where is the typical "P.F.G." (pale faced German),
"California" and the "fidgetty W." and Hoffer's "Estimate of
the value of English Players" (1887). Surely half the wit of
these Fortnightly Review contributors could have made an article
of these alone without the addition of more serious persons such
as Steinitz, Blackburne and Bird.

"A foreign estimate of the value of English Chess Players from
Covent Garden" was the title of a little skit which caused some
amusement five or six years ago. It commenced with Blackburne
5 pounds for a blindfold performance, Gunsberg 2
pounds: 2 : 0 : 0 for a simultaneous performance, and ranges
downwards till it comes to two pence for the price of Pollock's
proverbial pint of porter. Bird could always be bought for a
glass of whiskey hot and a pleasing nod, and Mason could be got
rid of on an emergency for half-a-crown. Even poor Zukertort at
the B. C. towards the last stood very low. One evening, after
the ordinary dinner at this famous chess club, the whole of the
Amateur Company, with no exception, adjourned to cards and
billiards, Zukertort, Blackburne, Gunsberg and Bird remained alone
in the chess room, the last named proposed a match between
themselves, the others less enthusiastic did not fall in and
after a desultory conversation of half-an-hour or so the little
band dispersed.

The article about "Fleas and Nits" which well nigh led to the
extinction of the Chess Monthly emanated from Covent Garden
and was aimed at Mr. Steinitz.

Steinitz has perhaps been the subject of more jokes than any
other chess player. From the day when he first assumed the
responsibilities of chess editorship, and as some are wont to say
"kept watch over The Field Office lest it should disappear before
the morning," to the time when he unfortunately left us for
America he was nearly always a fertile theme of amusement with
the joke-loving members of the chess fraternity. We fancy we
see him now with pen behind the ear pacing up and down the
Divan rooms with horried start and whisper dread, saying, "O
have you seen my article! How many K's in occur? and is there
more than one H in editor?" He has improved since then and is
a match for Hoffer. The clocks (implements of torture I call
them) used for regulating the time consumed in chess matches
have led to several facetious stories at Steinitz's expense, some,
however, not too good natured. Still it was curious to see his
gymnastics, mental and physical, between observance of the chess
board and the time pieces on occasions when time run short and
indeed sometimes when it did not.

A game between Steinitz and Rosenthal in the London Criterion
Tournament of 1883 furnished an example which will doubtless
be familiarly remembered by those present. With eight moves to
make in about as many minutes in his excitement he had apparently
unwillingly climbed the back of a chair and not till he had
completed the requisite number within the hour and began to breathe
freely did he seem conscious of where he was. Though anxious
for a moment or so he succeeded in getting down very cleverly
without mishap, not however escaping some signs of trepidation.

A St. Louis writer in 1886, after one of his games with Zukertort,
described in true American fashion Steinitz's tall chair and short
legs and his frantic efforts to regain terra firma, as the writer
described it, to reach the American hemisphere. Steinitz's high
appreciation of proficiency in the game and what is due to one
who attains it was once illustrated before a great man at Vienna,
who rebuked him for humming whilst playing at chess, saying,
"Don't you know that I am the great Banker?" The reply was
characteristic of Steinitz. "And don't you know that I am the
Rothschild of chess?"

A beautiful chess position with Steinitz beats any work of art
as Al Solis chess, in the opinion of the Caliph, one thousand years
ago far excelled the flowers in his most beautiful garden and
everything that was in it. More than this, Prime Ministers and
Lord Chancellors, Liberal and Conservative, come and go but
there is but one first Lord in chess, says Steinitz.

Steinitz was so much gratified with the reminder of mine at
Simpson's, that three of the greatest minds ever known have had
the same initials that he will pardon the little addition joke from
Paternoster Row. The three mighty W.S.'s are Wilhelm Steinitz,
William Shakespeare and Walter Scott. He was not so well
pleased with the addition of the unnecessary missing words
William Sykes.

Steinitz was introduced at a club once as the Champion. "Of
what?" was the reply.

Steinitz has been known to grieve much when he has lost
at chess; at Dundee, for example, in 1866 after his defeat by
De Vere his friends became alarmed at his woe and disappearance.
Again, after his fall to Rosenthal in a game he should have won
at the Criterion in 1883, news were brought that he was on a seat
in St. James' Park quite uncontrollable.

Steinitz is liberally disposed to others in mind and purse. The
following brevities on chess are known to have been much admired
by him, I therefore append them for his artistic eye.

So old and enthusiastic a chess player as Bird, and one who
has travelled about so much professionally, and on chess, has
naturally been the object of many pleasantries, and bon mots,
although he escaped the Fortnightly Review writers, being
regarded, at least by one of them as a very serious person,
L'Anglais comme il faut of the Vienna Neue Frie Presse. The
despised Britisher of custom house officers (who always chalk
him away, hardly deigning to examine his luggage even). He
has figured as the sea captain of the New York Sun, the farmer
of the Rochester Press, the ladies chess professor of the Albany
Argus, and the veteran of the Montreal Press, his vicissitudes
have led him into strange places, among others to a wigwam of the
Indians at Sarnia in 1860, and a representation of one in the
Vienna Exhibition of 1873, when much to the amusement of
Professor Anderssen and Baron Kolisch he received such a cordial
reception from a lady who recognized him as an old friend and
customer at Niagara falls, the lady in question being commonly
termed a squaw (not a disrespectful word for a lady it is hoped).
Bird has been in the Nest at Amsterdam, in the Bowery at New
York, and in the accident ward at Vienna, and has witnessed
many strange things and distressing circumstances, and has
endured interviewers and Irish Home Rulers in America without
a shudder, and has perhaps been asked more questions about
chess than any man living, because he good naturedly always
answers them, and has furnished matter enough in ten minutes
for a two-column article. He has been accused of a partiality for
whisky hot, especially when served by female hands, of ordering
soles by special train at Nuremberg, though he only disposed or
them at breakfast not knowing their price or from whence they
came. Blackburne and Hoffer are responsible for the statement
that he sat up through the night at Vienna preparing statistics,
with nothing but his hat on. The allegation in the Field and
elsewhere that he instructed the French President to fetch a cab
for him on a busy fete day at the Champs de Elysees, in 1878, is
not just, that genial and courteous gentleman having volunteered
to do so under exceptional circumstances, and as all act of
sympathy, and perhaps on account of Bird's play, who though
suffering acutely from gout on that particular day won one of his
two best games of Anderssen. If Bird had a carriage and pair to
the barbers to get a shave (quite recently asserted) it was because
he could not find a conveyance with one horse in time to reach
his destination. When he made a late dinner solely off Pate
de Foie Grass at the Marquis d'Andigny's banquet at St. Germains,
Paris, in 1878, when there were any number of courses, he did so
because be liked the flavour (certainly did not find it savourless)
not comprehending the waiter's surprise or aware of its bilious
tendency till afterwards. Even a king once dined off goose livers
or something of the sort, and we have heard somewhere of a
"feast of snails."

Even assuming glasses of Lager, 20 Schnaps, and 30 plates
of bread and cheese were consumed at the village with the
unpronounceable name 70 miles this side of Nuremberg, one intensely
hot afternoon in July, 1883, on the eve of the International
Tournament in that city when the train unpolitely went on, leaving
him behind, Bird was not the only consumer nor responsible for
the food famine, which the Field and the Illustrated Sporting
and Dramatic say prevailed afterwards for the whole of the
inhabitants of the place (fifty souls) including the old lady ill in
bed, and her attendant who deserted her for the afternoon partook

Neither Steinitz nor Bird are funny men; the latter most
reserved among his superiors, yet looks good humored. At the
Anglo-American Hotel, Hamilton, in 1860, he was honored by a
recognition each morning for a week from the Prince of Wales.
At the second Universities chess match, Perrott's, Milk Street,
1874, a young gentleman introduced himself to Bird, and a
pleasant chat was commenced, interrupted only by unreasonable
intrusion. This gentleman to Bird's surprise who thus honoured
him by interest in chess was H.R.H. Prince Leopold.

Professor Ruskin, Lord Randolph Churchill and many eminent
men have supported Bird's chess efforts with much approval; in
the far past J. P. Benjamin Esq., Q.C., and Sir Charles Russell
enjoyed an occasional game. Chief Justice Cockburn, and Sir
George Jessel seem to have liked chess. The list of highly
distinguished men reported to admire the game is varied and

Many working men have sought wrinkles from Bird; the late
Mr. Bradlaugh at intervals extending over thirty years has
ardently played occasionally chess or draught skirmishes with
much zest. He was singularly agreeable and good tempered and
a moderate player at both. Bird knew much of Ireland and the
people twenty to thirty years ago. Isaac Butt was fond of chess
but played it but indifferently. Chief Baron Pigott who also
knew it presided in the long trial Bartlett v. Lewis, Overend,
Gurney, etc., and seemed much surprised at a chess allusion. Said
Butt to me, "Come, you are not playing chess with me."
Whiteside and Sullivan two of the six Counsel on the other side,
almost simultaneously replied, "A good thing for you brother Butt, for
you would surely soon be checkmated."

The master hand who sketched Mason for the Fortnightly
Review scarcely did full justice to his vocal ability, dancing
proclivities and Christian friends, and Blackburne's marvellous
oracles and dictums pass unnoticed. Tinsley Lee, Van Vliet,
Muller and Jasnagrodzky all have their peculiarities which shall
remain untouched, for they are young and sensitive, whilst the
most amusing since the loss of Purssell's Lordship (next to the
Philosopher who happily very much survives) is the extremely
popular Monsieur.



There have in recent years been annually about eight or ten
chess patrons who have contributed more to promote high class
chess than all the rest of her Majesty's subjects, and remarkable
as it may appear, with one exception there is not one titled, or
what would be deemed very distinguished name among them.

250 pounds to 300 pounds a year is an ample sum for necessary first
class chess competitions, but nothing like that has been raised
under present auspices in this great Metropolis since 1883, or on
the average for many years. There are some who will buy chess
books who would not care to play at least in a public room on any
conditions; there are, on the other hand, some who drop their
shillings freely at chess without the slightest instruction or
improvement who would scorn to buy a chess book. Even "California"
who greatly desired to improve and apparently cared little about
expense, and with his double or quits propensity in play would not
deign to notice a chess book. One said that this amateur possessed
all the requisites of a loser playing very fastly, very badly and
risking very rashly. One morning about twelve before chess hours
at the Cafe International, New York, whilst writing I was accosted
by a tall and fashionable looking American whom I had seen once
or twice before playing with Mackenzie or Mason, but had never
spoken to. "I see you are busy," said he. "It is not particularly
pressing for the moment," said I, placing my work aside. He
then commenced to interview me concerning Morphy, asking my
opinion and description of him in every conceivable manner;
Staunton, Buckle, Anderssen, Steinitz and Blackburne followed
in rapid succession. All things temporal have an end and a
welcome pause came in this case. Taking up a chess book lying
by my side which happened to be a gilt copy of Chess Masterpieces,
just out, he said, "How much might that book be?" "Oh! about
a dollar," said I. He replied, "I guess that's a pretty tall book,
but times are bad and I guess I cannot invest a dollar on that ere
book." I found he was one of the non-purchasing class but had
the gambling element. "I will play you a game for a dollar if
you will give me the odds of a Rook." "I cannot give it you,"
said I, "but will try the Knight for the usual quarter." He
would take nothing less than a Rook and for half-a-dollar, so I
made the attempt and he seem'd to play far too well for the odds,
kept his advantage for a time well and my prospects or the
prospects of my half-dollar were not encouraging, the game
toughened, however, and I got a passed Pawn. It was as Monsieur
would say "nothing," but it seem'd to bother him immensely. He
brought four pieces to stop that poor little Pawn when one would
have done, utterly ignoring the policy of economy of force, his
game consequently got disarranged and he lost, after about an
hour's fighting, No. 1. He proposed another, played wretchedly,
and lost No. 2; worse and worse he played always wanting to
increase his stake, but I remained true to the classics and would
not deviate from the time-honoured stake. As it was I had to draw
seven dollars which my opponent parted with most pleasantly,
asked me to have a cigar and a nerver, and said I was a wonderful
player. He felt that he had a fair look in. Had he bought the
book the bare possibility of an injudicious purchase might have
preyed upon his mind; the book however was fairly priced. In
New York the ten dollar game arose in this way, receiving Rook,
Pawn and three moves, I lost on balance ten games, 5 dollars, and
demanded double or quits which I was forced to comply with.
Passed pawns bothered him also. I was New York Sun Chess
Editor and not a chess book investor.

Some have been known to accumulate chess libraries which
frequently get dispersed, a copy of Lolli sold for 5 pounds,
another equally good for 2/6. The difference between two-pence and
170 pounds for Caxton represents the largest profit yet recorded
on a chess book. A copy of Mr. Christie's little work on the Greek
and Roman Theory (1799) should be valuable.



Some chess players make more lively games than others, and
more interesting to watch, and it is curious what different styles
can be discerned in the play of the greatest masters of assumed
equal ability, a proof of the great versatility of the game;
Anderssen was remarkable for ingenuity and invention, Morphy for
intuitive genius and grace, Zukertort for scientific development
and Staunton, Buckle, Steinitz and Mason for patience, care and
power of utilizing to the utmost the smallest advantages winning
by hairs breadth merely. The above represent distinctive schools
at chess. Blackburne's play shews little resemblance to that of
Bird, Tarrasch and Tchigorin are quite different in style, the
former most learned and profound the latter most enterprising.

Lasker's play partakes somewhat of the characteristics of both,
Burn and Gunsberg have each a style of their own, and Mackenzie
was particularly grand and irresistible in his attacks, Bird is
sometimes called the best player of bad games and he often makes a
capital middle and splendid end game from an unscientific and
erratic beginning. One enthusiast observed that there were only
three parts of the game he could not play, viz., the beginning, the
middle and the end.

The following is an illustration of four styles of play; the reader
can supply real names to satisfy his own taste and imagination.



After a slumber of four years Bangs the fresh, the growing, the
vigorous, has risen from his lair, and shaking the dew from his
mane, has given utterance to a roar that no champion of chess can
hear without a shudder. There is no doubt that he has gained
at least a pawn in strength since 1868. Dr. Hooker too, the
lightning player, now gives where he once received a Castle.
Beach has returned to his native heath rich with the experience
of Morphy's old haunt the Cafe de la Regence. Hall has
toughened his sinews by many a desperate tug with the paladins
of New York. Mackenzie himself has felt the force of his genius
and gazed on his moves with astonishment. Between the styles of
these four great players there is a notable difference. Bangs,
like the lion, tears everything absolutely to fragments that comes
within the reach of his claws. Hooker, like the eagle, soars
screaming aloft sometimes to such a height that he loses himself
but only to return with a desperate sense which Bangs himself
can hardly withstand. Beach, more like the slow worm, insinuates
gradually into the bowels of the enemy making his presence only
felt by the effect, while Hall, on the contrary, rushes right
onward like the locomotive scattering obstacles to right and left,
and treating his antagonist with no more ceremony than if he were
a cow strayed accidentally upon the track.



Buckle's Chess References, which are not so full as we could
wish contain the names of Gerbert (Pope Sylvester, 2) (992, 1003),
Cranmer, Wolsey, Pitt and Wilberforce, as chess players, but do
not refer in any way to Beckett, Luther, or Voltaire, names
mentioned in Linde, neither think of Alcuin, or consider the
chess probabilities of the contemporary reigns of Offer, Egbert,
Charlemagne, Harun, and Irene.

Van der Linde assigns the 13th Century for first knowledge of
chess in England, and places it under the head of Kriegspiel,
but on what grounds, or what he conceives this Kriegspiel to be,
or how it differs from chess does not clearly appear in his book,
his space being rather devoted to sneers or dissent from the
statements and conclusions of previous writers, than at advancing
any distinct theory of his own.

He labours much to cast doubts on Charlemagne's knowledge of
chess, and to infer that the chess men preserved and considered
to have belonged to him, reported upon by Dr. Hyde, F. Douce,
and Sir F. Madden, are of comparatively recent date.

Einhard, the historian of Charlemagne, he says does not mention
chess, Cranmer, Wolsey, Pope, Pitt, Chatham, Fox,
Wilberforce, and other well accredited names which interest us are
absent from his list, which is surprising, considering his mass of
petty detail.

More than two-thirds of these volumes are devoted to descriptive
catalogues of books and magazines from Jacobus de Cessolus, the
first European work devoted to chess in the 13th century, down
to the various editions of Philidor, Sarratt, Allgaier, W. Lewis,
G. Walker, the German handbooks, and Staunton's popular works.



Al Hakem Biamri Llah, or Abu Ali Mansur, sixth Khalif of
the dynasty of the Fatimites or Obeydites of Egypt, 996-1021,
according to some authorities interdicted chess. Mr. Harkness
in Notes to Living Chess implies that he had some put to death
for playing it. Sprenger, Gayangoz, and Forbes do not mention
or confirm this, besides, though this Khalif did not much regard
the Koran, kept dancing-women and singers, indulged in all sorts
of frivolous pastimes, and was very much addicted to drinking,
as well as cruelty and tyranny, he was not a bigot. The more
famous Al Mansur (962-1002), the celebrated General and Minister
of Hisham II, tenth Sultan of Cordova, of the dynasty of Ummeyah,
was more likely to have issued such a mandate, for we read "in
order to gain popularity with the ignorant multitude, and to court
the favour of the ulemas of Cordova, and other strict men, who
were averse to the cultivation of philosophical sciences, Al
Mansur commanded a search to be made in Al Hakem's library, when
all works treating on ethics, dialectics, metaphysics, and
astronomy, were either burnt in the squares of the city, or
thrown into the wells and cisterns of the palace. The only books
suffered to remain in the splendid library, founded by Al Hakem,
II (fourth of Cordova, 822-852, the enlightened humane and just
Rahman, II) were those on rhetoric, grammar, history, medicine,
arithmetic, and other sciences, considered lawful."

Any scholar found indulging in any of the prescribed studies,
was immediately arraigned before a Court composed of kadhis
and ulemas, and, if convicted, his books were burnt, and himself
sent to prison.

I can find no other notice of a ruler or Khalif likely to have
forbidden chess, but in 1254 Lewis, IX, in France, is recorded to
have interdicted the game.



The word, chess, whatever it may have signified, was
common in Ireland long before it is ever found in English
annals. The quotation from the Saxon Chronicle, of the Earl of
Devonshire and his daughter playing chess together, refers to
the reign of Edgar, about half a century before Canute played
chess; but in Ireland the numerous references and legacies of
chess-boards are of eight hundred years' earlier date.

Several scholars in Ireland have discussed the question of
probable early knowledge of chess there.

Fitchell, a very ancient game in that country, was uniformly
translated, chess.

O'Flanagan, Professor of the Irish language in the University of
Dublin, writing to Twiss about the end of last century in
Reference to Dr. Hyde's quotations, thought Fitchell meant chess.

J. C. Walker wrote:--"Chess is not now (1790) a common
game in Ireland; it is played at and understood by very few;
yet it was a favourite game among the early Irish, and the
amusement of the chiefs in their camps.

"It is called Fill, and sometimes Fitchell, to distinguish it
from Fall, another game on the Tables, which are called
Taibhle Fill.

"The origin of Fill in Ireland eludes the grasp of history."

The Chess King preserved by Dr. Petrie, L.L.D., bears no small
resemblance to those found in the Isle of Lewis, now in the
British Museum, and which have been graphically reported upon
by Sir F. Madden.

John O'Donovan, Esq., author of our best Irish Grammar, in
"Leabhar na'q Ceart, or the Book of Rights," 1847, from MS.
of 1390 to 1418, frequently refers to the game, and the
legacies of Cathaeir Mor, who reigned 118 to 148, contain,
among other remarkable bequests, thirteen of chess-boards.
Once a set of chess-men is specified--and, again, a chess-board
and white chess-men. The bequests of the said Cathaeir Mor are
also cited by O'Flaherty, who mentions to have seen the
testament in writing, and in Patrick O'Kelly's work, Dublin,
1844, "The History of Ireland, Ancient and Modern," taken from
the most authentic records, and dedicated to the Irish Brigade,
translated from the French of Abbe McGeoghegan (a work of
rather more than a century ago).

Col. Vallancey, in his "Collectanea de Reb. Hib.," seems to
insinuate that the Irish derived it with other arts from the
East. "Phil," says he, "is the Arabic name of chess, from Phil,
the Elephant, one of the principle figures on the table."

In the old Breton Laws we find that one tax levied by the
Monarch of Ireland in every province was to be paid in
chess-boards and complete sets of men, and that every Burgh (or
Inn-holder of the States) was obliged to furnish travellers with
salt provisions, lodging, and a chess-board, gratis. (NOTE. That
must have been very long ago.) In a description of Tamar or Tara
Hall, formerly the residence of the Monarch of Ireland--it stood
on a beautiful hill in the county of Meath during the Pagan
ages--lately discovered in the Seabright Collection,
Fidche-allaigh, or chess-players, appear amongst the officers
of the household.

"Langst ver der Erfindung," says Linde; and again, "Wenn die
ganze geschicte von Irland ein solches Lug-gund Truggewebe
ist, wie das Fidcill Gefasel ist sie wirklich Keltisch."



Dr. A. Van der Linde's great work (Berlin, 1874), following
Weber, Berlin, 1872, Der Lasa and others, containing 1,118
pages, 540 diagrams, 4,098 names, and 2,500 catalogue items.

In Linde's book, no less than 500 of the 540 diagrams are on the
eight times eight square board, with the 32 pieces used in Modern
Chess (i.e., examples of the game with positions or problems
thereat as we understand it).

It is also curious as affecting Linde's consistency, that Al
Suli and Adali, whose problems he gives at chess as we now play
it, were dead before the time he assigns for the first knowledge
of the same. His own pet authority, Masudi, 890-959, gives the
story of Al Suli's chess, to which nothing could be compared
without declaring it to be any other game (pages 58 and 59).



Opposite Italienisch Linde has 1,348 to 1,358, but the story of
the rebuke of the Bishop of Florence by Cardinal Damianus, for
playing chess in a tavern when he should have been at prayers,
given by Forbes and repeated by Linde, is of earlier date
(1061), Buzecca's blindfold play at chess on the invitation of
Dante's patron, the Master of Ravenna, before a distinguished
company, is attributed to the year 1266.



To Sanskrit Tschaturanza (column 1) under the head of
"Kriegsspiel," A.D. 954, is affixed to Arabisch (column 10),
the same year 954 appears. (NOTE. To this date of 954 I cannot
help adding for once a query mark like those in which Linde's
book abounds (!!).

To Persich (column 7) 1000 (!) Fransofitch 12 Jht, English 13
Jht, Spanisch 1283, Italien 1348-1358.

To Tschinesich, Japanisch, Siamesich, Birmesich, and Tibetisch,
under Aeltestes Datum Columns, 2 to 6 Unbekannt appears as
well as to Tschaturanga column 1, notwithstanding the date of
954 in another place. An the above are under the one head of



Under this head Italienisch is 1512, Latienisch 1525,
Franzofitch 1560, Englisch 1562, Deutsch 1606, Danisch
1752-1757, Schwedisch 1784, Ungarish 1861.

Dr. Van der Linde has nothing about the Roman edict of 115
B.C., or the other three points, which first caused our desire
to invite a little more attention to the subject of the probable
origin of chess, viz.: (1) Alcuin and Egbert's contemporary
records, with Pepin, Charlemagne, Harun, the Princess Irene, and
Emperor Nicephorus, the humane enlightened and glorious Al Mamum,
with his treasures of learning, Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit
translations (2 & 3). Fortunately for the encyclopaedia writer
of 1727, and the poet Pope, their articles have escaped his
notice. We naturally try to discover what Bretspiel and
Nerdspiel was, according to Linde's own notions, and when they
ceased and chess began, both chess and Nerdspiel had been heard
of and were terms used before Al Masudi and Ibn Khallekun wrote.
Why does not Linde attempt to explain why Harun, Walid, Razi,
Al Suli, the Khalifs, and others up to the Shahnama poem,
Anna Comnena and Aben Ezra call it chess, and nothing else,
and again we ask how can he reconcile his own author,
Masudi's statement that Al Suli's chess was declared more
beautiful than all in the Caliph's garden (he died in 946), with
his own statement that chess was first known in Arabia, in 954.



The whole tenor of such reasoning as can be found in Linde's
stupendous work, seems to rest on subtle distinctions as to the
precise accuracy of the word chess, rather than to valid
argument to the effect that no game resembling it ever existed
before the time he fixes, yet his diagrams of the Tschaturanga
which comes Vol. 1 following page 423, is exactly in accordance
with the game as explained to us by Sir William Jones and
Professor Duncan Forbes, though Linde seems to call it by the
name of Indischer Wurfelvierschach or Indische Kriegsspiel, and
there is not a single diagram of what the German writer
conceives it to be other than the real Tschaturanga (Chaturanga).

NOTE. From such an assumptive writer, one would like to ask
whether he had looked through the pages of Livy Polybius and
Tacitus, or explored the treasures in the Fihrist, or the
Eastern Works referred to by Lambe, Bland, and Forbes, as well
as Dr. Hyde and Sir William Jones.

Forbes in the body of his work roughly estimates the Chaturanga
at 3000 B.C., but at page xiii of appendix, he says: "The first
period (of chess) is altogether of fabulous antiquity, that is,
of three to five thousand years old," in fact, he seems to have
been rather loose in his estimation, and not to have
sufficiently distinguished between the supposed antiquity of the
four sacred Vedas, the Epic poems, the Ramayana and the
Mahabarata, and the Puranas. Professor Weber and Dr. Van der
Linde assume a much more recent date for the Bhavishya Purana,
from which the account of the Chaturanga is mainly taken, than
that assigned to it by Sir William Jones and Professor Duncan


The 4,098 name index already referred to includes Adam ten
times and even Jesus three times, used, as it appears to me,
rather for the purpose of irony, rather than valid or useful

When Forbes gives the earliest chess position, known from
British Museum M.S.S. Linde says Adam was the first chess
player (??) to Sir F. Madden about 1,150, for the time when
Gaimur wrote quoting the incident of the Earl of Devonshire and
his daughter being found playing chess together, (Edgar's reign
958 to 975). Linde says Madden about it "Keinen Pfifferling
werth." In another place he says, "Forbes natte der Freicheut,"
"Insolence, Impudence, Audaciousness, Boldness."

It is not pleasing to English ears to be told that George Walker
is a humbug and a snob. Professor Duncan Forbes the same, and
William Lewis something worse, and to find notes of exclamation
and of queries (! !! ?), instead of argument opposed to the
statements of such writers as Dr. Hyde, Sir William Jones, the
Rev. R. Lambe, Sir Frederic Madden, and Mr. Bland.

Linde's dealing with Forbes' statement concerning his
examination of the copies of the Shahnama in the British
Museum, puts a crowning touch on his arbitrary and insulting
style and furnishes an example of his notions of courtesy and

Forbes in a reply to Alpha having pledged his truth and
honour that the account of the moves and pieces in the copies of
the Shahnama were precisely as he had given them, Linde after
honour has (!!)

Forbes' statement runs as follows:

9th November, 1855, (1860, p. 56,) Zu Antworten. "My
answer to Alpha is that the M.S.S. from which I made (not
derived) my translations describing the moves of the pieces are
precisely those I mentioned, viz., No. 18188 and No. 7724
preserved in the British Museum. At the same time I briefly
consulted some nine or ten other M.S.S. of the Shahnama in the
British Museum as well as Macan's printed edition, yea more, I
consulted the so called copy of great antiquity alluded to by
Alpha before it came to the Museum. Well, in all of these, with,
I believe, only one exception, the account of the moves does
occur exactly (!) as I have given them, always excepting or
rather excluding a couplet about two camels (die namliche nicht
in die Bude des Tachenspielers passten es weiter unten) Und nun
geht es echt fesuitisch weiter, Alpha denies the existence (!)
(A hat in Gegentheil Hyde I, p. 63 Citirt) of the account of
the moves in every copy of the Shahnama. I, on the other hand
pledge my truth and honour (!!) Linde), that the account of the
moves does occur in every one of the manuscripts as well as in
Macan's printed edition (Vgl. App. p. x. lin. 6 unt.). The
misconception on the part of Alpha arose from a very simple (:)
circumstance. In Firdausi's account of the game the story
happens to be interrupted (:) in the middle of the insertion of
two other long stories, as we often see in the Arabian nights.

"In matters of this sort it is only the truth that offends.

"(Man vergleiche hierzu noch seine Schnapserklurung der
Weisheit des Buzurdschmir, p. 54.)"

Forbes also adds p. 56. And I am quite ready to point out the
passage in all of them to any gentleman and scholar who may have
the least doubt on the matter.

Historians of the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries who lived before
Masudi, deemed the game worthy of notice and recommendation,
Razi and Firdausi thought so too, and Hippocrates and Galen
before them refer very favourably to its advantages, describing
it as beneficial in many ailments, and we may reasonably assume
that they at least, as well as the poets and philosophers before
them, back to the fifth century B.C. deemed the game passing in
their minds, and the invention of which they were wont to
speculate on, as one of some interest, beauty and significance
and worthy of appreciation then as it has been in succeeding

Once more, no example is given of his Kriegsspiel, Nerdspiel,
Wulfervierschach, Trictrac, or any Spiel or game implied under
the word Bretspiel, the last named being moreover a general
term for games played on a chess board, rather than a
distinctive appellation for a particular species of game or
indication of the pieces or value of forces employed in it.



Masudi, born at Bagdad 870, died at Cairo in 959, is Linde's
great authority. Linde quotes or deduces from him the

"Die alten Hindus wohlten einen Konig uber sich Burahman
Dieser regierte, bis er starb, 366 (sic) Jahre, Seine Nackkommen,
heisen Brahminen Sein Sohn et Bahbud unter dessen Regierung
das Nerdspiel (Gildermeister ubersetzt duodecim scriptorum ludus)
ein bloss auf Zufall und nicht auf Scharfsinn beruhendes
Gluckspiel erfinden wurde regierte loo Jahre, Andere sagen, dass
Azdeshir ibn Balek das Nerdspiel erfund."

Again "Ardashirer Ibn Balek, der Stammvater der letzten
persischen Dynastie, erfund das Nerdspiel, das daher nerdashir,
(also nerd Ardashirer) genanut wurde."

The copious Index of Linde's work of 4,098 items, also refers
Nerdspiel to page 6, but the word does not appear there and the
above is all he tells us about his Nerdspiel.

Among the 540 diagrams contained in his work of 1,118 pages,
as already observed, there is no representation of Nerdspiel.

The writer hopes to submit an analysis of these diagrams, and
of the contents and conclusions of Linde's work in a supplemental
pamphlet of 64 pages, price one shilling, in order to notice the
manifold inconsistencies contained in it, as well as the wholesale
aspersions upon the English historians.

Linde's Book. It includes notice of Hoyle's games, Complete
Gamesters, Magazines and trifling publications, down to A.B.C.
for a Lady and whatever we may think of the connexion of events
and lucidity of his arguments, it may be pronounced an
extraordinary monument and memorial of industry.



Forbes thinks it probable that chess was known in Italy before
or during the ninth century, and suggests that it was probably
received there from the Saracens rather than the Greeks. The
story of Peter Damianus the Cardinal, (Ravenna) who lived 1007
to 1072, and his reproof of the Bishop for playing chess, is
given by both of the writers, Forbes and Linde.

NOTE. Swiss in vol. 11, page 77, on the authority of Verci, says
that the following adventure happened to a Bishop of Florence,
who, according to Ughelli (Ital Sac tem 3), was Gerard, who died
in 1061. It is told by Damianus, Bishop of Ostia and Cardinal in
his epistles, and is confirmed by Baronius and Lohner. These two
prelates were travelling together, and on a certain evening
when they arrived at their resting-place, Damianus withdrew to
the cell of a neighbouring priest, in order to spend the time in
a pious manner, but the Florentine played at chess all night
among seculars or laymen, in a large house of entertainment.
When in the morning the Cardinal was made acquainted with this,
he sharply reproved the prelate, who endeavoured to excuse
himself by saying that chess was not prohibited, like dice.
Dice, said he, are prohibited by the canon laws; chess is
tacitly permitted. To which the zealous Cardinal replied the
canons do not speak of chess, but both kinds of games are
expressed under the comprehensive name of Alea. Therefore, when
the canon prohibits the Alea, and does not expressly mention
chess, it is undoubtedly evident that both kinds of games,
expressed in one word and sentence, are thereby equally

The Bishop who was very good-natured stood corrected, and
submitted cheerfully to the penance imposed on him by the
Cardinal, which was: that he should thrice repeat the psalter of
David, and wash the feet of twelve poor men, likewise bestowing
certain alms on them, and treating them to a good dinner, in
order that he might thus, for the glory of God and the benefit
of the poor, employ those hands which he had made use of in
playing the game.

It must have taken some considerable time before the game
became so common as to be played at houses of entertainment by
seculars or laymen.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Chess History and Reminiscences" ***

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