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- Chess History and Reminiscences - 3/38 -
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.
H.R.H. PRINCE LEOPOLD, EARL DARTREY, SIR C. RUSSELL, LORD 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.
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