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- Chess History and Reminiscences - 1/38 -


CHESS HISTORY AND REMINISCENCES

by H. E. Bird

======

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

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CONTENTS

PREFACE PECULIAR AND DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTIC OF CHESS WRITERS, LACK OF CHESS HISTORY

RETROSPECT, AND HABITS, AND IDIOSYNCRACIES OF CHESS PLAYERS: TEMPERAMENT, ATTITUDE AND DEPORTMENT, STYLE, STAKES, LOSING, LOOKERS-ON, ODDITIES, AND PATRONS

CONCERNING THE ORIGIN OF CHESS: PREVAILING MISCONCEPTION ITS EVER GROWING POPULARITY THEORIES AS TO ITS INVENTION TRADITIONS THE THREE INDIAN TRADITIONS EARLY AND MIDDLE AGE CONJECTURES PROGRESS OF CHESS INDIA CHINA EGYPT THE ANCIENT GREEKS AND ROMANS SCANDINAVIA PERSIA

ARABIA, SPAIN, FRANCE: CHOSROES, AL WALID, HARUN, PRINCESS IRENE, CHARLEMAGNE, OFFA, ALCUIN, EGBERT, AL MAMUN

THE ROMAN EDICT OF 115 B.C.: SUPPOSED EUROPEAN FIRST KNOWLEDGE: SCANDINAVIA. ITALY. IRELAND. WALES.

OPINIONS ON CHESS AND ITS ORIGIN: POPE'S LINES THE TRACK OF CHESS (UNIQUE SPECIMEN)--THE INDIAN KING TO SASSA THE KING OF HIND TO CHOSROES THE EARLY EXAMPLES OF PRAISE AND CENSURE THE REMARKABLE ADVANTAGES OF THE ASIATIC SOCIETIES, AND PHYSICANS RECOMMENDATIONS. FOOD FOR THE MIND AS WELL AS FOR THE BODY

MIDDLE AGES AND MODERN: CHAUCER TO LYDGATE CAXTON, ELIZABETH'S REIGN VIDA PRATT SAUL AND BARBIERE SALVIC CARRERA ENCYCLOPAEDIA AN AMERICAN VIEW THE INDIAN PHILOSOPHER SOVEREIGNS COMMEMORATED AS CHESS PLAYERS PHILIDOR'S ASCENDENCY, POPULARITY & PATRONS

THE NINETEENTH CENTURY: SIMPSON'S 1828-1893-CHESS CLUBS CHESS MASTERS OF THE DAY, MAGAZINE NOTIONS, THE FORTNIGHTLY REVIEW, AND REPLY IN AN IMPARTIAL ARTICLE from H. E. BIRD

NATIONAL CHESS OF 1892, THE BELFAST CONGRESS AND NEWCASTLE SUPPORT. SPECIMENS OF PLAY

BLINDFOLD CHESS THE GAME OF CHESS, (SUMMARY OR BIRD'S EYE VIEW) Dedicated to Belfast and Newcastle

FOUR STYLES OF CHESS, "THE LION," "THE EAGLE," "THE SLOW WORM," AND THE LOCOMOTIVE A SKIT

VAN DER LINDE'S CONCLUSIONS CHESS LOSSES SUPPLEMENTAL AND SEPARATE. REVIEW OF 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."

NOTES AND REFERENCES-BECKETT, LUTHER, CRANMER, WOLSEY, &c.

PREFACE

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 year.

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


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