Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Third American Chess Congress (1874), two Chicago Newspapers. (Part One)

Less than three years after the "Great Chicago Fire", which devastated a large part of the city, the Chicago Chess club decided to take  upon itself the task of hosting the Third American Chess Congress. A brief notice in the Chicago Tribune of May 9,noted  that at a meeting the prior evening the club resolved:

"That the Chicago club cordially favors the holding of a Chess Congress in Chicago during the coming summer and pledges a welcome to all visitors who may attend and its best efforts to render the meeting a success."
(Chicago Daily Tribune: 9 May 1874)

It was proposed to hold the Congress during the month of July, beginning the 7th and ending on the 20th or shortly thereafter, it was also hoped for that  a minor tournament and a problem tournament would be held in conjunction with the grand tournament.

The first meeting of the Congress took place on the afternoon of July 6th at 114 East Madison street, the Tribune reporting that day that;  "Nothing serious, however will be done until to-morrow, this afternoon being devoted to appointing committees, choosing partners and making other necessary arrangements."

The eight contestants were:
George Henry Mackenzie
Henry Hosmer 
Max Judd
Frederick Perrin
Frederick Bock
Frederick Elder
James Congdon
Hiram Kennicott

On July 7th, the Tribune continued its coverage, with a brief history of the two previous congresses, a listing of the players, the prizes, and the pairing for the next day, the first day of over the board combat. Mackenzie would face Judd, Hosmer would face Kennicott, it would be Bock against Elder, and Perrin against Congdon. The games would start at 9am and continue til 6pm, with a "suitable" break for dinner.

The Chicago Times began its coverage ,on July 8th, of the  first day of play of the tournament , reporting that:

"The Chicago Chess club, recognizing the pressing want of American chess and fully sensible of the fact that the holding of a great national meeting is the first and chief step to be taken to supply that want, have undertaken the management of a congress, which was successfully inaugurated yesterday evening, at their club rooms.... The number of first class players in attendance is not however, so great as was anticipated. The committee were confident that at least the players enter the list, but there are but eight present. The most prominent absent one is Galbaith[sic] of Mississippi."

"There were eight games indulged in yesterday, two of which are yet pending. Under the rules each player has to play two games with every contestant, consequently there will be in all 56 games before the congress is concluded.The games won yesterday were; Capt. Mackenzie of New York one from Max Judd, St. Louis; Hosmer of Chicago, two from Kennicott, of Dunston; Congdon of Philadelphia, one from Perrin, of New York, and Fred Bock, of Chicago, one from Elder, of Detroit. Capt. Mackenzie and Max Judd played one drawn game, which, but for an unfortunate oversight, would have resulted in favor of the western boy. Messrs. Congdon and Perrin have a game now pending, as have Messrs. Bock and Elder."

Both the Tribune and Times published Mackenzie's win with black over Judd. The Tribune in its coverage adding that;

" The games played thus far throw very little light on the result of the tournament, though it is conceded that Capt. Mackenzie will, doubtless, win the the first prize."
Chicago Daily Tribune; July 8, 1874 p.3

 The second day of play, seem to have drawn a larger crowd of on-lookers, then on the first day, as the Times reported in its July 9th issue, " times considerable excitement prevailed. Among the visitors were many of the better class of citizens, some of whom are chess-players of no mean skill."

As for the games themselves, Capt. Mackenzie won his two games with Kennicott. Bock and Elder resumed their adjourned game from the previous day, which resulted in a draw. Bock then played Congdon in the first game of their match, which also ended in a draw. Meantime Elder and Perrin contested their match each winning a game with the white pieces. Judd with black won his game with Hosmer. As the Times reported:

"This was a hard fought battle, the players being engaged no less than seven and a half hours. It was a stubbornly contested from beginning to end, but with his 57th move, the St. Louis gentleman so placed his pieces that the president of the Chicago club found himself checkmated."
Chicago Times; July 9, 1974 p.5

Despite the report of the Times, the Hosmer - Judd game did not end in a checkmate, but with Hosmer resigning after Judd's 56th move, the tournament book also has the game lasting 9 hours. The Times in its coverage printed the score of the drawn  Bock - Elder game.


The score of the Judd - Hosmer contest follows;

"Yesterday was the third day of the American Chess Congress, and from the heavy showers of the previous night the temperatures was found much pleasanter than on the first days, when the heat was extreme oppressive."
Chicago Daily Tribune; July 10, 1874 p.3 

Though, the third day was troubled by illness and the absence of Kennicott.. Mackenzie won both his games against Perrin. " In both contests the captain made a quick sharp fight, and almost before Mr. Perrin had got well settled in his chair he had lost the game."(a)

Hosmer and Judd played their second game, Hosmer with the black pieces winning. Bock won his game with Congdon in unusual circumstances. Elder who was to face Kennicott, but Kennicott being absent, Edler had to remain idle.

" The absence of Mr. Kennicott, of Dunston was greatly felt, and it is feared sickness kept him from the city. Early in the forenoon Mr. Bock and Gen. Congdon commenced a game; but the sudden sickness of the former necessitated its temporary postponement, after a few opening moves had been made. Later in the day, Mr. Bock felt better and resumed the contest, which he finally won, after a hard fought and skillfully conducted battle. Under the circumstances  [it] was a most creditable victory."
 Chicago Times; July 10, 1874 p.3

Both papers published the score of  the second Perrin - Congdon game.

" Yesterday the fourth day of the third American Chess Congress, and the events which characterized it were most certainly among the most interesting of the meeting thus far. The attendance was very large, and the room, was continually crowded with an eager and excited throng of gentleman, all canvassing the situations of the games, and frequently making far more noise than was at all agreeable to the players"
Chicago Daily Tribune: July 11, 1874 p.5

Though, not everyone in the city  found the ongoing Congress quite so interesting, as a short piece in the same day's Tribune on page six, makes clear.

"The excitement in the city this month is a Chess Congress. The fact is eloquent. It tells more forcibly than words can of the dull devil which has entered into and possessed the world of amusements."

 As for the games, themselves, Kennicott again failed to make an appearance, it was feared, he would withdraw from the congress.The game between, Bock and Judd , after five and a half hours of play, ended in a draw. Edler won the his first game with Gen. Congdon, they then commenced  their second game, which was at the end of the day's play, the result was still pending. Perrin with the nonappearance  of Kennicott had the bye. But, the what proved to be highlight of the day's play, were the two games to be played between Capt. Mackenzie and the "Chicago gentleman", Henry Hosmer.

"Several fine games were played in the tournament, the first one between Capt. Mackenzie of New York, champion of America, and Mr. Hosmer of this city being a most remarkable one. They had a hard fight of it for four hours, and the final result was in favor of the Chicago gentleman. It was by all odds the best game thus far played in the tournament."
Chicago Times; July 11, 1874 p.4 

 The Chicago Times printed the score of this game, the Chicago Tribune printed the score of their second game in which Capt. Mackenzie was the winner.

" The second game between these two gentlemen resulted in favor of the captain. Mr. Hosmer was quite tired out when the contest commenced , and it is no wonder that he made a slip, lost a piece he should of retained, and was finally compelled to resign."

Chicago Times; July 11, 1874 p.4

The Tribune began its report of the fifth day of the congress proceedings, with the news of the official withdrawal of Kennicott from the tournament.

 "Mr. Kennicott came into town and owning to the pressure of other business engagements he announced his withdrawal from the tournament. this action on his part made quite a change in the score, as the games heretofore won of him by Messrs. Mackenzie and Hosmer do not count for them, but are canceled, as Mr. Kennicott is considered out of the best players."
Chicago Daily Tribune: July 12, 1874 p.13 

 The days play began with resumption of Bock - Judd second game. Judd won after an unsound sacrifice by Bock. And then about noon,  Bock faced Perrin, Bock winning both games in short order. Congdon and Judd began the match but at the end of the day's play their first game was left unfinished, to resumed at a later date. Earlier in the day, Congdon and Elder finished their second game, which ended in Elders favor. Elder was then to face Capt. Mackenzie, but then, illness intervened. 

"During the day Mr. Elder of Detroit received news of the sudden illness of his wife. This unfitted him for play, and the game between him and Capt. Mackenzie was postponed till Monday." 
Chicago Times: July 12, 1874 p. 7 

Both newspapers printed Elder's win over Perrin, from the second day of the congress.

With the withdrawal of Kennicott, and the change of scores brought about by his withdrawal,  Frederick Bock found himself on top of leader board, though he had yet to play both Mackenzie and Hosmer.

The twelfth being a Sunday, it was an idle day for the Congress, play would resume early Monday morning.

(a) Chicago Times; July 10, 1874 p.3

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