The Chess Tournament: A Collection of Games Played at the Celebrated Assemblage. Illustrated by copious Diagrams and notes Critical and explanatory
The Chess Tournament: A Collection of Games Played at the Celebrated Assemblage. Illustrated by copious Diagrams and notes Critical and explanatory
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The Chess Tournament: A Collection of Games Played at the Celebrated Assemblage. Illustrated by copious Diagrams and notes Critical and explanatory

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Author: Staunton, Howard (1810-1874)

Year: 1852

Publisher: Henry G Bohn

Place: London

Description:

xci+377 pages with diagrams. Small octavo (7" x 4 1/2") rebound with label to spine. (Bohns scientific Library) (Betts: 25-1) First edition.

In May 1851, London staged the Great Exhibition to showcase British industry and technology, and London's thriving chess community felt obliged to do something similar for chess. Howard Staunton proposed and then took the lead in organizing the first ever international tournament, to be held at the same time. Staunton and his colleagues had ambitious objectives for this tournament, including convening a "Chess Parliament" to: complete the standardization of the moves and other rules, as there were still very small national differences and a few self-contradictions; to standardize chess notation; to agree time limits, as many players were notorious for simply "out-sitting" opponents. Staunton also proposed the production of a compendium showing what was known about chess openings, preferably as a table. Since he thought there would not be time for a single "Chess Parliament" session to handle this as well, he suggested further congresses, some perhaps including knowledgeable enthusiasts of below top-class playing strength, and a review process for dealing with contentious issues and possible mistakes in earlier decisions. The tournament was planned as knock-out contest involving sixteen of Europe's best players. Invitations had been extended to foreign masters Vincent Grimm, József Szén, and Johann Löwenthal from Hungary; Adolf Anderssen, Bernhard Horwitz, Carl Mayet, and von der Lasa from Germany; Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant and Lionel Kieseritzky from France, and Carl Jaenisch, Alexander Petrov and Ilya Shumov from Russia. The British players were to be Howard Staunton, Henry Thomas Buckle, Marmaduke Wyvill, Elijah Williams, Captain Hugh Alexander Kennedy, Samuel Newham, and Henry Bird.Unfortunately many of the invitees were unable to play. Grimm was unable to attend as he was exiled in Aleppo after his participation in the Hungarian Revolution of 1848. Löwenthal had also participated in the failed revolt but fled to America, where he established himself in business. Löwenthal left his affairs behind to travel to London to play. Saint-Amant was unavailable as he had been sent by the French government to California as a diplomat following its independence from Mexico during the California Gold Rush. Von der Lasa and Petrov were also unable to attend. Jaenisch and Shumov could not arrive in time to play. Jaenisch arrived in London late, and played a post-tournament match with Staunton that Staunton won +7−2=1. Buckle also did not make the tournament, and as he was generally considered second only to Staunton among British players, he was the strongest British player missing. The dispute with the London Chess Club prevented Daniel Harrwitz from playing, and also weakened the pool of substitutes available, as George Walker, George Perigal, and George Webb Medley could have made for a stronger field if not for the boycott. Anderssen was reluctant to accept his invitation, as he was deterred by the travel costs. However Staunton offered to pay Anderssen's travel expenses out of his own pocket if necessary, should Anderssen fail to win a tournament prize; Anderssen accepted this generous offer. As part of the project the London International Tournament's committee also organized a "London Provincial Tournament" for British players who were not strong enough to be invited to play in the International Tournament. The committee "promoted" E.S. Kennedy, Edward Löwe, James R. Mucklow, and Alfred Brodie to play in the International Tournament rather than the Provincial Tournament, in order to obtain the number of players required for a knock-out tournament. The tournament was organized as single elimination matches, with the eight losers in the first round being dropped from the tournament. Each first-round match was a best-of-three games, draws not counting. Subsequent rounds were best-of-seven, and losers played consolation matches. The pairings were made by chance, i.e. there was no seeding system of the type commonly used in tennis tournaments. Kieseritsky, Bird, and Löwenthal all lost in the first round. Anderssen beat Staunton soundly, 4–1 in the third-round semi-final. In the fourth-round final Anderssen beat Wyvill to take first place. Wyvill had had a relatively easy draw in the tournament to finish second. Staunton suffered a bitter defeat to Williams in the last round consolation match to finish a disappointing fourth. Despite the obvious flaws in the knockout format of the tournament, the outcome was just, as Anderssen was the best player. As provided by the rules of the tournament, Staunton immediately challenged Anderssen to a twenty-one-game match for a £100 stake. Anderssen agreed to the match, but could not play right away as he had been away from Germany and his job as a school teacher for over two months. In addition Staunton was physically unfit for an immediate contest. The proposed match was never played.

Condition:

Former copy of the Brooklyn Public Library with their perforated stamp to title, title page repaired else a good copy.