1893 Columbian Chess Congress (the tournament that never was!)

I’ve become interested in the 1893 New York Impromptu International Chess Tournament.

To understand that tournament, one must understand a failed tournament – the proposed 7th American Chess Congress that was to be held in New York City in 1893. Since it was to coincide with the famous Columbian Exposition of 1893, a world’s fair held in Chicago, the tournament became widely known as the Columbian Chess Congress (CCC). The first American Chess Congress famously began in 1857 with Morphy’s triumph in New York and although the Columbian Chess Congress never took place, eventually a 7th Congress tournament did take place, in 1904 in St. Louis, which was won by Frank Marshall.

The actual failure of the 1893 CCC tournament was directly responsible for the formation and success of the 1893 Impromptu tournament, which was held in New York City during September-October 1893 (mostly in October).

To explore why the Columbian Chess Congress (CCC) tournament was proposed, one might find it worthwhile to explore such historical themes as the Gilded Age, American Exceptionalism, the rebirth of the city of Chicago (after the devastating fire of 1871) and the like. To understand the failure of the CCC, one might study topics like the 1893 economic panic, the failure of Argentinian and American banking, the over-expansion and collapse of certain American Railroads, and the many bank runs due to the collapse of gold supplies.  All interesting topics, in and of themselves.

At some point I may present a short writeup on the failed Columbian Chess Congress – which will rely on the following notes:

BCM v13 1893 (p310)


   The following circular has been issued by the committee of the
Columbian Chess Congress:--
                                               New York, May 20, 1893.
       At a metting of representative members of the Manhatten Chess
Club, the Brooklyn Chess Club, The City Chess Club of New York, and
the Staten Island Chess Club, held in the City Febuary 11th, 1893, the
preliminary steps were taken to hold a Chess Congress in this city in
connection with the Columbian Festivities.

       Grover Cleveland, President of the United States, has
constented to become a patron of the Congress and to present to the
winner of the tournament a GOLD MEDAL.

       Roswell P. Flower, Governor of the State of New York, and
Thos. F. Gilroy, Mayor of the City of New York have also become
patrons and have made liberal subscriptions.

       Nearly one half of the necessary fund of $5,000 has been
subscribed, but it is very desirable that the balance be promptly
secured in order that foreign contestants may be assured of the
success of the tournament and make their arrangements accordingly.

       Any subscriber of $100 or over will become a member of the
Board of Patrons and will receive an engrossed Testimonial which will
give the names of all such patrons.

       Any subscriber of $10 or over will receive a non-transferable
Season Ticket, which will be a souvenir of the Columbian Chess Congress.

       Any subscriber of $4 or over will be entitled to free admission
to the tournament.

       Any subscriber of $2 or over will be entitled to have one copy
of the Daily Bulletin mailed to him daily.

       This Bulletin will contain, complete, all the games played
during the tournament, the pairing for the next day, and such other
matter as may be of interest to chess players. It will be printed on
good paper, in such manner that at the conclusion of the tournament
it may be bound as a book of the Congress.

       Hoping that you will aid this undertaking, interesting whether
viewed from a chess player's standpoint or as a national patriotic
affair, I enclose two subscription blanks. Soliciting correspondance,
I remain,

                                  Yours very respectfully,
                                             FREDERICK G. JANUSCH
                                  Hon. Sec., 215, East 44th Street, N.Y.C.

   The exact date of the opening of the Congress will be announced by
the Committee as soon as they have obtained a suitable hall. About
$4,000 will be given in prizes, besides the Cleveland gold medal, and
several special prizes. The Committee has also decided to submit to
the competitors the rules governing the play, especially the rule
relating to draw games, for their approval or modification.


Schottländer in America
May – August 1893
Olimpiu G. Urcan

http://www.chesscafe.com/text/urcan04.pdf (stale, try here instead)
According to the Newark Daily Advertiser of September 1, 1893,
Schottländer sent an official entry for the Columbian tournament, also
being billed at the time as being the Seventh American Chess
Congress. On August 31, 1893, when it was clear the tournament would
not take place, Schottländer returned to Europe. It is unclear if the
injury he suffered at Niagara Falls, the wound that still troubled him
a few weeks later, prompted an earlier leave for home than initially
planned. It may very well be that even a relatively minor injury would
have been quite problematic for a man with Schottländer’s physical


The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954)
Wednesday 12 July 1893

The Columbian Chess Congress -

Governor Roswell P. Flower has sent a cheque of 100 dollars as a
special second prize for the forthcoming Columbian International Chess
Congress, the gold medal given by Governor Cleveland to be the first
special prize, and Baron Heydebrandt v d. Lasa-has given 50 dollars to
the subscription fund. - Chess Monthly.


New York Sun

1893.08.18 (Fri)

Columbian Chess Congress

The International Tournament Indefinitely Postponed

The committee of the Columbian Chess Congress met at the Manhattan
Chess Club yesterday evening in order to make final arrangements
for the international tournament to be played in this city next month.
The Treasurer reported that he had $2,800 in good subscriptions in hand,
and that an additional sum of at least $700 would be required to carry
out the programme. After a lengthly discussion the following resolution
was adopted:

   The committee of the Columbian chess congress, after mature
   consideration of the very threatening financial aspect of the
   country and the prospect of so much distress and want arising, has
   determined to indefinitely postpone the date of holding the
   proposed congress in hope of a brighter state of affairs in the
   near future.

After passing the resolution the committee adjourned sine die [ed-
without day, i.e. with no future meeting date set].

Brooklyn Daily Standard Union
1893.08.19 (Sat)


The receipts during the past few weeks have been so small that the
committee considered the possibility of raising the necessary amount
before the date set for the commencement of the congress not to be
depended on; the present condition of financial affairs in this
country render it unlikely that subscriptions would flow in rapidly
between now and Oct. 21. In justice to the experts who expect to come
to America to take part in the congress, the sooner the committee
stated its intentions and prospects the better.

Treasurer Rose stated that the actual subscriptions now on the list
amounted to $2,850. Three hundred dollars was promised from sources
that were considered good, and enough of the original subscribers had
promised to double their subscriptions if necessary to make the amount
on the bet that might in good times be depended on, close to
$3,500. It was not probable that these possibilities could be now
counted upon, and the chances were that some on the list who had not
paid would have trouble in making good their promises, so the
committee decided to postpone the date of the opening of the congress

The postponement is a great disappointment to the committee, and will
be a disappointment to chess players everywhere. The support that has
come from sections outside of New York and Brooklyn is very small;
with exception of J. A. Babson's subscription from Montreal, $10 from
New Orleans, and several small amounts from Philadelphia, the money
nearly all been subscribed by chess players and their friends in New
York and Brooklyn. No doubt this has been due to lack of active work
in the chess centres, and much might have been obtained before the
financial depression if some active man in each place had interested

It must not be thought that the postponement is the end of the
congress. The committee will work actively, and we are likely to hear
it shortly. It was expected that sufficient retrenchment would be made
to reduce the expenses of the congress to about $3,500, but this was
contingent upone matters that were not certainties. There was no
intention of reducing the amount of the prizes.


Lafayette Advertiser
26 August 1893  (p2)

The committee of the Columbian chess congress, after mature
consideration of the very threatening financial aspect, has determined
to indefinitely postpone the date of holding the proposed congress.


Brooklyn Daily Standard Union
1893.08.26 (Sat)


There is nothing new in the Chess Congress matter; the committee has
not held a meeting since the postponement decision was arrived
at. Many rumors are afloat regarding possible schemes for raising the
money, and hopes are still entertained by sanguine enthusiasts that
something will turn up shortly.

Charleston Sunday News



Herr Alpin is making himself felt in New York Chess. He has beaten
Mr. Delmar heavily, and in the match, five games up, with Champion
Hodges. Herr A. has scored the first game.

Herren Lasker and Schottlaender are both back in New York, and the
latter, if his health permits, will enter the C. C. C. [Columbian
Chess Congress -ed].

We see in the latest forecasts of proabalbe entries that Herr
Tschigorin's name is omitted. It is announced, probably with
authority, that Herr Alpin will not enter. Dr. Tarrasch has positively
announced his intention of coming -- if certain "ifs" he mentions can
be settled satisfactorily.

New York Recorder:
1893.09.09 (Sat)


Le roi est more, vive le roi!  The Columbian C.C. fell through; long
live the match between the grand old man and the grand yougn man.
The young man sent a formal challenge [...]


The Tribune Almanac and Political Register (p178)


                         WORLD'S FAIR DATES

   The World's Columbian Exposition was created by act of Congress,
April 25, 1890. President Harrison, on Dec. 24. 1890, proclaimed the
Exposltlon to the world, and invited foreign nations to
participate. On October 21, 1892, the Exposition grounds and buildings
at Chicago were formally presented by President Hlginbotham, of the
World's Columbian Exposition, to President Palmer, of the World's
Columbian Commission, and were dedicated, with appropriate ceremonies,
by Levi P. Morton. Vice-President of the United States, on behalf of
President Harrison. The Exposition will open to the public on May 1,
1893, and close on Oct. 30, 1898. The programme ceremonies will bn
prepared early in 1893. The Exposition act provides for a naval review
New-York harbor in April, 1893, in which foreign navies are invited to


North Otago Times -- 31 August 1893   CHESS ITEMS

North Otago Times, Volume XXXVII, Issue 7757, 31 August 1893, Page 1


The proposal (says the Times' Weekly Edition) of the Columbia Chess
Congress to award the title of "champion of the world" to the winner
of their tournament has given much offense to Mr. Steinitz, who has
help that honor for 27 years, and has fought for it repeatedly. Mr.
Steinitz holds that the title can only be won and held by successful
match play, man against man. He has refused to play in the Columbia
Chess Congress on the ground that if he did so he would be giving his
sanction to a method of settling the championship which has never yet
been in vogue. Anerssen won the international tournament in London in
1851, and Staunton, the then acknowledged champion of Europe, come out
fourth, but that did not invalidate the Englishman's title to the
championship. Mr. Steinitz therefore contends that should the Columbia
Chess Congress create the winner of the tournament champion of the
world the act cannot be acknowledged in the chess world.


Otago Witness , Issue 2076, 7 December 1893, Page 38


   The committee of the Columbian Chess Congress has decided to
postpone indefinitely the date of the holding the congress. The Times
Democrat says: "The project is not abandonned, but only postponed."
and does not doubt that it will be no very distant date be brought
into and carried through a successful and gratifying existence.

Wikipedia "World's Columbian Exposition"


The World's Columbian Exposition (the official shortened name for the
World's Fair: Columbian Exposition,[1] also known as The Chicago
World's Fair) was a World's Fair held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate
the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' arrival in the New
World in 1492.[2] The iconic centerpiece of the Fair, the large water
pool, represented the long voyage Columbus took to the New
World. Chicago bested New York City; Washington, D.C.; and St. Louis
for the honor of hosting the fair. The fair was an influential social
and cultural event. The fair had a profound effect on architecture,
sanitation, the arts, Chicago's self-image, and American industrial
optimism. The Chicago Columbian Exposition was, in large part,
designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It was the
prototype of what Burnham and his colleagues thought a city should
be. It was designed to follow Beaux Arts principles of design, namely
French neoclassical architecture principles based on symmetry,
balance, and splendor.

The exposition covered more than 600 acres (2.4 km2), featuring nearly
200 new (but purposely temporary) buildings of predominantly
neoclassical architecture, canals and lagoons, and people and cultures
from 46 countries.[2] More than 27 million people attended the
exposition during its six-month run. Its scale and grandeur far
exceeded the other world fairs, and it became a symbol of the emerging
American Exceptionalism, much in the same way that the Great
Exhibition became a symbol of the Victorian era United Kingdom.

Dedication ceremonies for the fair were held on October 21, 1892, but
the fairgrounds were not actually opened to the public until May 1,
1893. The fair continued until October 30, 1893. In addition to
recognizing the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World by
Europeans, the fair also served to show the world that Chicago had
risen from the ashes of the Great Chicago Fire, which had destroyed
much of the city in 1871.[2] On October 9, 1893, the day designated as
Chicago Day, the fair set a world record for outdoor event attendance,
drawing 716,881 people to the fair. Chicago has commemorated the fair
with one of the stars on its municipal flag.[3]


"The World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 / 
   a full description of the buildings and exhibits in all departments : 
   and a short account of previous expositions with an introduction / 
   by Col. George R. Davis ; 
   and an introduction to the Woman's Department by Mrs. Potter Palmer ; 
   with special chapters by Hon. Thomas B. Bryan, ... [et al.]"

p43-48 (?)


Every one knows the result. Chicago's arguments were powerful, and
she was successful. The friendship of the country was with her, except
in the case of the parts directly depending on the competing cities,
and her superiority in many respects as a place for holding the
Exposition was generally admitted. On the first ballot taken by
Congress for location, Chicago led New York by more than 40 votes. On
the eighth ballot the votes for Chicago were 157, for New York 107,
for St. Louis 25, and for Washington 18.

Senator Daniel, of Virginia, introduced in the Senate, in March, 1890,
a bill to provide for the holding of the Exposition at Chicago.  A
special committee of the two houses reported a bill that passed, and
the signature of President Harrison was attached to it, so that it
became a law, on the twenty-fifth of April, the same year. The act was
entitled: "An act to provide for celebrating the 400th anniversary of
the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, by holding an
International Exhibition of arts, industries, manu- factures and the
products of the soil, mine and sea, in the City of Chicago, in the
State of Illinois." This act provided for the appoint- ment of a
national commission, to be designated as the World's Columbian
Commission, to be composed of two commissioners from each State and
each Territory, and from the District of Columbia, and eight
commissioners-at-large. Those from the States and Territories were to
be appointed by the governors, and the others by the President. Their
compensation was to be but $6 per day, and actual travelling
expenses. After all were appointed, they were to meet in Chicago, and
organize for business. At this time they were to accept such site and
plans as were submitted to them by the local corporation, provided
that corporation give evidence of the possession of a bona fide
subscribed capital stock of $5,000,000, and that it can secure the
same amount additional.  This commission was directed to determine the
plan and scope of the Exposition, allot space for exhibitors, prepare
a classification of exhibits, appoint judges and examiners, and
generally have charge of all intercourse with the exhibitors and the
representatives of foreign nations. It was also required to appoint a
board of lady managers. The act directed that the buildings should be
dedicated with proper ceremonies October 12, 1892, and that the
Exposition should open the first of May, 1893, and continue for the
term of six months. When the President should be notified by the com-
mission that the preliminary arrangements were complete, he should
invite the nations of the world to join in the Exposition. The act
also provided that there should be a naval review in New York harbor
in April, 1893, to which ships from all the navies of the world should
be invited. This outlines to a certain extent the scheme for
government of the Fair, the more complete description of which is
found in the later chapter on Administration.

The act of Congress was fulfilled in every particular. 

The calendar of the Fair thus resolves itself into three notable,
epoch-marking dates, or periods. The first was the time of dedication,
the ceremonies on this occasion continuing during three days,
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the 20th, 21st and 2 2d of October,
1892. The second was the great naval review held at New York, through
several days in the latter part of April, 1893. This was provided for
in the act of Congress creating the Exposition, and so belongs to the
history of the great enterprise as part of the prelim- inary
celebration. The third and most important of all the dates in the
calendar of the Fair is May 1, 1893, on which day the gates were at
last thrown open to the public, and the great exhibition presented to

The week of dedication was an eventful one in Chicago. For a long time
before the city had been decking herself in gala attire, and when the
morning of October 20th dawned on the giant city of the west
everything was in readiness. All over the city a wilderness of flags
waved in the wind, and banners and streamers made the streets gay with
color. Chicago had adopted for a municipal flag a graceful design of
terra cotta and white, and num- bers of these were interspersed with
flags of all the nations of the globe. On that day all traffic was
forbidden in the streets of the business centre of the city, so far as
it required teams and wagons, and so. the stillness was something
remarkable-^-as observed by one who had been accustomed to the roar
and bustle of the great city. Throngs of gayly dressed people crowded
the streets, from curb to curb, and seized on every point of vantage
whence they might best see the glories of the parade. Hundreds of
thousands of persons, from within and without the city, cheered and
gloried when the magnificent procession at last began to pass. The
line of march was many miles long, and for hours the societies forming
it passed the reviewing stands. Never since the day of the Chicago
fire, when every one was in terror and hastening to save life and
property, had the business of the city been so absolutely suspended.
Once it was for stern danger and necessity. Now it was to rejoice over
the progress of the world, shared in so full a degree by that
once-stricken city.

This one was the civic parade through the business portion of
Chicago. The governors of the States and Territories, with their
staffs, rode at the head of the procession in the order in which the
States were admitted into the Union. There were symbolical floats
without number, and everything else that could give interest to such a

The next day was the day of importance at the Fair, as Thursday had
been in the heart of the city. It was dedication day, the anni-
versary of the landing of Columbus. A military parade composed of the
officials and guests taking part in the ceremonies, escorted by
cavalry and artillery, marched to the grounds and entered the great
building of Manufactures and Liberal Arts, where the exer- cises were
to be held. The actual ceremonies began at 1 : 30 o'clock in this
building. The programme was arranged as follows :

1. "Columbus March," composed by Professor John K. Paine, of

2. Prayer by Bishop Charles H. Fowler, D. D., LL. D., of California.

3. Introductory address by Director-General Davis. 

4. Address of welcome and tender of the freedom of the city of
Chicago, by the Hon. Hempstead Washburne, Mayor.

5. Selected recitation from the dedicatory ode, written by Miss
Harriet Monroe, of Chicago ; music by Mr. G. W. Chadwick, of Boston;
reading by Mrs. Sarah C. LeMoyne.

6. Presentation by the Director of Works of the Master Artists of the
Exposition, and award to them of special commemorative medals. Music:
"To the Sons of Art".

7. Address, "Work of the Board of Lady Managers," Mrs. Potter Palmer,

8. Tender of the buildings, on behalf of the World's Columbian
Exposition, by the president thereof, to the President of the World's
Columbian Commission.

9. Presentation of the buildings by the President of the World's
Columbian Commission to the Vice-President of the United States for

10. Dedication of the buildings by the Vice-President of the United

11. "Hallelujah Chorus" from the "Messiah". Handel. 

12. Dedicatory oration, the Hon. Henry Watterson, of Kentucky.

13. "Star Spangled Banner" and "Hail Columbia," with full chorus and
orchestral accompaniment.

14. Columbian oration, the Hon. Chauncey M. Depew, of New York.

15. Prayer by His Eminence, Cardinal James Gibbons, of Baltimore. 

16. Chorus, "In Praise of God." Beethoven. 

17. Benediction by the Rev. H. C. McCook, of Philadelphia. 

18. National salute. 

The arrangements of the great building were such that more than
100,000 persons were seated during the exercises, and as many more
found ample standing room within the walls of the ponderous
structure. Everything passed off in entire perfection.


Wikipedia: Panic of 1893


The Panic of 1893 was a serious economic depression in the United
States that began in 1893.[1] Similar to the Panic of 1873, it was
marked by the overbuilding and shaky financing of railroads, resulting
in a series of bank failures. Compounding market overbuilding and the
railroad bubble was a run on the gold supply. The Panic of '93 was the
worst economic depression the United States had ever experienced at
the time.


One of the causes for the Panic of 1893 can be traced back to
Argentina. Investment was encouraged by the Argentinean agent bank,
Baring Brothers. However, a failure in the wheat crop and a coup in
Buenos Aires ended further investments. This shock started a run on
gold in the U.S. Treasury, as investors were cashing in their
investments. This occurred during "The Gilded Age," when the United
States was experiencing economic growth and expansion.[2] This
expansion eventually became driven by railroad speculation. Railroads
were over-built, incurring expenses that outstripped revenues. Also,
new mines flooded the market with silver, causing its price to
fall. In addition, farmers--particularly in wheat and cotton
regions--struggled under a decline in prices for agricultural

One of the first clear signs of trouble came on February 23, 1893,
with the bankruptcy of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, which
had greatly overextended itself [3] ten days before Grover Cleveland's
second inauguration.[4] Upon becoming President, Cleveland dealt
directly with the Treasury crisis,[5] and successfully convinced
Congress to repeal the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which he felt was
mainly responsible for the economic crisis.[6]

As concern for the state of the economy worsened, people rushed to
withdraw their money from banks, and caused bank runs. The credit
crunch rippled through the economy. A financial panic in the United
Kingdom and a drop in trade in Europe caused foreign investors to sell
American stocks to obtain American funds backed by gold.[7]



As a result of the Panic, stock prices declined. 500 banks were
closed, 15000 businesses failed, and numerous farms ceased
operation. The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania hit 25%, in New York
35%, and in Michigan 43%. Soup kitchens were opened to help feed the
destitute. Facing starvation, people chopped wood, broke rocks, and
sewed in exchange for food. In some cases, women resorted to
prostitution to feed their families. To help the people of Detroit,
Mayor Hazen Pingree started "Pingree's Potato Patch" which were
community gardens for farming.[9]

The severity was great in all industrial cities and mill towns. Farm
distress was great because of the falling prices for export crops such
as wheat and cotton. "Coxey's Army", the first populist "march on
Washington", was a highly publicized march of unemployed laborers from
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and several Western states to demand relief in the
form of a jobs program. A severe wave of strikes took place in 1894,
most notably the bituminous coal miners' strike of the spring, which
led to violence in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Illinois. More serious was
the Pullman Strike which shut down much of the nation's transportation
system in July 1894.


The US economy began to recover in 1897. After the election of
Republican McKinley, confidence was restored with the Klondike Gold
Rush and the economy began 10 years of rapid growth, until the Panic
of 1907.


I’ve included the raw notes here, both to keep me from losing them, and to demonstrate what goes into historical research.

There are actually a couple of notes that can be made about the notes themselves, and I hope to return to this topic.



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