Cambridge Congress (1860) – a first look…

Chessbase view:

CB - xtab

SCID’s view:SCID - xtab

(Click on either image to enlarge)

Really I’m lying in the title. My first look at a tournament wouldn’t be on this page, even if it existed at the time I needed a first look. My first look, and yours too, should be at Ron Edwards EDOchess site. It’s wonderfully informative, accurate and detailed with all the requisite footnotes, properly done. But best of all, it presents the data in a beautifully done format, where it is very easy to assimilate the information presented. Edward Tufte would be proud!

(Actually, the graph looks a little sparse here. That’s not Ron’s fault, the tournament was a bit sparse itself (see below). And Edwards doesn’t use some of the more informative contemporaneous sources available, so the Notes section could stand some revising. A better example would be to compare his treatment of London (1862).)
OK, then, let’s follow the good work <twinlark> has done recently on <CG> in formulating a tournament template:

Description The 2nd Chess Association Tournament, Cambridge (1860) was half the size originally intended, held at the first Chess Association meeting convened after Birmingham (1858). The Chess Association was originally named Northern and Midland Counties Chess Association, which in turn grew out of the Yorkshire Association. Eventually it would be known, in 1862, as the British Chess Association. The tournament itself was viewed as less than successful.

When  28th August – 1st September, 1860

Where  Red Lion Inn, Cambridge England, and the private home of Mr. Foster, also of Cambridge.

Format  Three round Knockout format (see Scoring).

Time control  Not explicit, but see rule 5 below, part of which reads: “The Committee also reserve to themselves the right of interfering, to prevent any unnecessary delay in the progress of the games.”.

Scoring  Draws didn’t count, only decisive games did. The first two rounds decided by first to win two, the final round decided by first to win three.

Tiebreaks  None, only the two finalists win prize money, which depended on subscriptions only, and was meager.

Prizes  First place won £8, second place £4. (£1 / 1860 ~ £84 2016)

Comments  Orginally intended for 16 participants, attendance was poor and only eight players were found, including draftees from the local committee who didn’t intend on playing otherwise. Zytogorski is said to have resigned his match with Kolisch, but some reports cite him doing so after playing a first game in the round.

Sources There was a tournament book published by the local committee, referencing “The Eight Meeting” of the association, but I have not seen it anywhere. The sources I used were:

  1. <The Chess Congress of 1862 pp xxxii-xxxiii/44-45> edited by J. Löwenthal, published in 1864
  2. <Chess Player’s Chronicle v2 Series 3 (1860-1861) pp 289-292/304-307 and pp 230-232/245-247> edited by H. Staunton

Let’s present some of the contemporaneous reporting on this tournament, the third organized the then-named Chess Association, erroneously referred to by almost everybody else as the British Chess Association (or BCA, a name only formally adopted for the first time during the Bristol Congress (1861)). Please bear in mind that the following is found in the Chess Player’s Chronicle v2 S3 (1860), which was Staunton’s magazine. He was not a neutral reporter as concerns the BCA:

… The Bristol Congress also produced a code of the laws of chess but suffered opposition from Staunton in so doing.

For all the remaining years of his life, Staunton was to prove a bitter opponent of the Association and when he died he was followed in the same role by the Rev. A. B. Skipworth. This quarrelsome reverend supported a rival organization, the Counties Chess Association (formed in 1865) and the two organizations were eventually to kill each other.

I want to alert the reader to the potential that this tension was already present in 1860, if not before, and that it may be an influence on the writing which follows. That the tournament held in Cambridge (1860) was a less than hoped for success is readily apparent. But one must be aware that, when it come to chess in mid-eighteenth century England, Staunton was no neutral observer. Part of the lack of success in this version of this Congress might be due to the poor coverage of the previous Congress in Birmingham 1858. The Association had depended on Staunton to publish the tournament book from that year, an obligation he never met. Staunton’s poor performance (i.e. his two losses to Lowenthal) may have contributed.  Perhaps the role of Morphy, and his appearance at Birmingham, contributed. It is possible that Staunton may have felt some members of the Association sided with Morphy in the controversy over the failed match between the two. There was also tension involved in adopting a universal set of rules of chess that would standardize play both on the Continent, and in England.
This is all speculation on my part of course. That the Cambridge meeting was a failure is undeniable, even the Association agreed, as this assessment, from their 1862 meeting report shows:
The treasurer's account stated the expenditure to  have been  £46 17s. 
6d., and the receipts, £42 9s.

The  meeting had  been  a failure,  and  it was  clear  to all  really
interested in  the Association,  that fresh  life should  be instilled
into its management. It was with this view that Mr. Lowenthal 1 heinp;
on a visit to the Bristol Club shortly after the meeting, suggested to
the  members the  desirability  of holding  a  gathering within  their
city. The proposal was warmly received, and at once acted on.
But the reader should be aware of possible subtexts when reading the blistering reportage below:


                            AT CAMBRIDGE.
If ever a meeting  had a claim to be conspicuous  by its failure, this
one stands in the foremost ranks.  The ominous silence about it of the
many  publications which  devote columns  to Chess,  must have  partly
prepared our readers for a less  favourable report than those given of
the Leamington,  Manchester, and  Birmingham gatherings.   But however
modest one's expectations might have been,  they were yet doomed to be
disappointed. Still  the sad  tale must  be told  — we  owe it  to our
Subscribers; and however deeply we may wound their Chess feelings, we
shall relate the truth — the whole truth — and nothing but the truth.

(The following is verbatim, the letter of our special Correspondent)* 

                                                         August 17th.
"On my arrival in Cambridge, I alighted  at the Red Lion Hotel, in one
of the rooms of which the Meeting was to take place. I inquired of the
waiter if any of the Chess  players had arrived, and was informed that
three gentlemen from London — Messrs. Geake, Kolisch, and Zytogorski —
had just  engaged rooms in  the Hotel, but  that no other  arrival had
taken place on  that day.  Knowing that the  British Chess Association
consists of above  150 members, and that on former  meet- ings between
200  and  300   persons  were  present,  I   prognosticated  a  scanty
attendance. I hoped, however, that some of the followers of Caissa had
established their  temporary abode  at other hotels  of the  town, and
that  a  goodly  number  would   arrive  with  the  first  train  next
morning. After having  vainly expected that evening  other arrivals of
Chess celebrities,  I retired to  the room  assigned to me,  which was
next to  that of Herr  Kolisch, the newly  risen Star on  the European
Chess horizon, and consoled myself on  going to sleep with the hope of
witnessing that  young hero's encounter with  one or the other  of our
celebrated English champions.  I was dreaming that I had won the first
game in a  match with Morphy, and was just  announcing him a checkmate
in seven moves in the second game,  when the waiter, by a knock at the
door, dissipated  my pleasant illusions,  calling out —  Nine o'clock,
Sir.  On  consulting my Bennett, I  found that he was  right, and that
the Cambridge air had the narcotic effect of producing ten hours sleep
in a Chess player. I dispatched my breakfast hastily, in order not to


be too late, and not to miss the discussion of the constitution of the
Association with  a view to  its improvement.* Thereupon, I  wended my
way through the intricacies of the  Court-yard of the Red Lion, to the
staircase  leading to  the  saloon of  the  Meeting; which  staircase,
however, I was only allowed to ascend after having paid five shillings
and received  an entrance  card.  On entering  the spacious  and lofty
saloon,  which was  well filled  with chairs  and tables,  I began  to
scrutinize the company present, and  found, that neither the President
of  the Association,  Lord  Lyttelton, nor  the Vice-presidents,  Lord
Cremorne and Sir John Blunden, nor  any other Member of the Committee,
were present. Nay, not only the  Committee were absent, but not even a
single member of  the Association was there — at  least, none of those
who had  been at former  Meetings. The  only persons present  were six
members of  the Local  Cambridge Committee,  the three  gentlemen from
London, Mr.  STANLEY,  of New York Celebrity,  Mr.RAINGER, of Norwich,
Mr.  FULLER, Mr. HORNE, Mr.  BATEMAN, and Mr. N., a solitary member of
the  St.  George's  Club,  whom  chance had  brought  at  the time  to
Cambridge. Thus the Meeting consisted of fifteen persons including the
Local Committee.   Not only  were the Committee  of the  British Chess
Association absent,  but also the  members.  After an  hour's waiting,
during which time the Local Committee at  one end of the room, and the
visitors at the other end of the room, had a quiet chat, the Secretary
of the Local  Committee, Mr. Walker, proposed to proceed  to play, but
it was found that  only eight players had sent in  their names, and of
these  only  seven  were  present;  the eighth,  Mr.  Barnes,  of  the
St. George's Club, although having sent  in his name, was not present.
Mr.   Horne, of  Cambridge, was  prevailed upon  to replace  him.  The
following gentlemen were then matched, by lots : —

                 Mr. KOLISCH   against    Mr. GEAKE.

                  "  STANLEY      "        "  RAINGER.

                  "  HORNE        "        "  PULLER.

                  "  ZYTOGORSKI   "        "  BATEMAN.

The former gentlemen won the two first games, and remained, therefore,
winners in the first round, which only lasted altogether between three
and four hours.

The second day, the 29th, some visitors came from London, and 

* See the Chess Players Chronicle, August Number, "British
Association," Circular of the Committee.


other places; still the persons present in the room never exceeded the
number of seventeen. The four conquerors were drawn against each other
in  the following  way:—  Mr.  KOLISCH  against  Mr.  ZYTOGORSKI,  Mr.
STANLEY  against  Mr.   HORNE.   The   result  of  this  tourney  was,
Mr. STANLEY won two games against  one of Mr. HORNE'S. Mr.  ZYTOGORSKI
resigned  his  further  claims  without  playing.   Mr.   KOLISCH  and
Mr. STANLEY  were, therefore, the winners  of the two prizes,  such as
they were; it was only to be decided  which of the two had to take the
first prize. In the opinion of  most of those present, Mr. STANLEY had
but  a  poor  chance  against  so  formidable  an  antagonist  as  Mr.
KOLISCH. On  that day  Mr. STAUNTON  had arrived  from London,  in the
afternoon, with Mr. WORRALL, with whom  he played several games at the
odds of a Knight;  Mr. WORRALL had, however, by far  the best in these
encounters. Mr. DEACON  was also present during some time,  as well as
the Rev. Dr.  SALMON, from Dublin. The two  latter gentlemen, however,
did not play at all.

The  third day,  the 30th,  the Match  began between  Mr. KOLISCH  and
Mr. STANLEY of New York, and  this was the only interesting feature in
the whole proceeding. The first  game lasted eight hours. Mr.  Stanley
evidently did his best, and Herr KOLISCH played very carefully; taking
it  altogether it  was  a  very fine  game.   On  that morning  Messrs
STAUNTON, WORRALL,  and DEACON, again  left for London.   The meeting,
however,  was  a   little  enlivened  by  the  arrival   of  the  Rev.
Mr. DONALDSON, the well known Scotch player, who played some skittling
games with Mr. ZYTOGORSKI and others.

Herr KLING,  the well known Chess  writer, who had arrived  during the
day, contributed  to the amusement of  the visitors by his  lecture on
end  games; which  lie selected  with great  skill, and  were instruc-
tive, even for first-rate players.

The fourth  day, the 31st,  the second  game between Mr.   STANLEY and
KOLISCH was played;  it was severer than the first,  and lasted twelve
hours;  but towards  the  end  it was  evident  that  Mr. Stanley  was
exhausted, and,  so to say, morally  beaten. This was the  last day of
the Meeting, according to the circular  of the Local Committee, but as
the winner of the first prize had to score the best out of five games,
the match was not over. A  great difficulty here presented itself; the
Committee had only taken the rooms for four days; where were the Chess
players to meet the next day? In this dilemma, Mr. HENRY C. FOSTER, of
Cambridge, was  the deus ex  machina who,  by kindly inviting  all the
Chess players to his house, solved the difficulty.

In the evening, Herr KLING contributed again to the amusement of those


present by playing on five boards, against fire opponents, at the same
time. He won four games, and lost one.

The  fifth  day,  the  30th  [sic/1st],  the  Meeting  took  place  at
Mr.  FOSTER'S  house,   who  received  his  guests   with  true  Saxon
hospitality — furnished the chief combatants, for the first time, with
a good set of Staunton Chess men  and board; put his house and gardens
at the disposition  of his visitors, who, now only,  since their visit
to Cambridge, felt really at ease.

The game between Mr. STANLEY and  Herr KOLISCH lasted, this time, only
five hours; Mr. STANLEY was evidently worn out by his exertions on the
two  former occasions,  whilst Herr  KOLISCH seemed  only to  get into
play, and  better fitted for  the fight, than  on the first  day. Herr
KOLISCH, by  winning the game, won  the first prize.  During  the day,
Mr. FOSTER played several games  with his guests; with Mr. ZYTOGORSKI,
who  gave  him  the  odds  of  a Knight,  but,  this  time,  not  very
successfully.  With  Mr. GEAKE,  Mr.  FORSTER  made even  games.  This
terminated the Meeting at Cambridge.  The prizes, I have heard stated,
are very paltry; the first is said to be £8., the second £4. All those
who were present at the Meeting  were dissatisfied with it, and accuse
the Local Committee,  as well as the Committee of  the Association, as
the causes of the bad result.  Although, I must say that the Secretary
of the Local Committee, Mr. Walker, upon whom all the work was thrown,
did everything in his power to  make the thing prosper. Still, it must
be remarked,  that there is no  regular Chess Club in  Cambridge. That
the gownsmen and townsmen, as usual,  do not very well agree; that the
players, in their  respective camps, scarcely ever meet;  and that, on
the present occasion, the townsmen had nothing to do with the Meeting,
nor was any of their number in the Local Committee."

[Here the letter of our Correspondent ends.]

According to this  report, it seems that only four  or five members of
the British Chess  Association were present on the  occasion. Now, the
question arises, is the British  Chess Association still in existence,
or is it  only now a matter  of history? If, so, what  are the reasons
which have led to its untimely end? whose is the fault? But, even as a
simple  gathering  of   Chess  players,  this  Meeting   has  been  an
unprecedented  failure.  The  Local  Committee, no  doubt, are  partly
answerable  for it,  but who  besides?  We  should like  to hear  some
explanation about it, from some member  of the Committee, from whom we
also expect an early account of their proceedings.

In conclusion, we must state, that  we have received letters from most
of the players  present at Mr.  Foster's house during  the last day of
the  Cambridge Meeting,  asking us  to  express their  thanks to  this
gentleman, in the Chess Chronicle, for the kind reception he has given

There is also this article from earlier in the issue, a little more straight-laced in its reporting


                      BRITISH CHESS ASSOCIATION.
THE General  Meeting of the Association  will be held at  Cambridge on
the 28th,  29th, 30th, and  31st days of  August.  The Right  Hon. the
Lord LYTTELTON, President;  The Right Hon.  the  Lord CREMORNE and Sir
JOHN BLUNDEN,   Bart.,    Vice   Presidents;    Rev. P. FROST,   M.A.,
Rev. M. M. U. WILKINSON, M.A., G. D. LIVEING, Esq.  M.A., B. W. HORNE,
Esq. M.A.,  Rev. E. W. WILKINSON, M.A., 0. B. CLARKE,  Esq.  M.A., and
W. EVERETT,   Esq.,  Local   Committee;  EDWARD WALKER,   Esq.,  M.A.,
Secretary and Treasurer.

The  proceedings will  commence at  Ten o'clock  A.M. on  the 28th  of
August, with a  Meeting of the Subscribers, when it  is hoped that the
constitution of the Association may be  fully discussed with a view to
its improvement. Immediately on the  termination of this Meeting, will

                        THE GRAND TOURNAMENT,

consisting of a  series of Matches between sixteen  players, and which
will be decided  in the following manner:— the players  will be paired
off by  lot, and  each pair  will play  a rubber  of three  games; the
winners in the first series of rubbers will then be paired off by lot,
and each pair  will play a rubber  of three games; the  winners in the
second series will then be paired off  by lot, and each pair will play
a  rubber of  three games.  The  two winners  in the  third series  of
rubbers  will then  play  a match  of  five games,  and  will each  be
entitled to a prize (the value of which will depend upon the amount of
the  subscriptions), the  winner receiving  two-thirds, and  the loser
one-third of the sum to be divided.


                        MATCHES BETWEEN CLUBS.

The Matches  between Clubs will  be contested  by a limited  number of
players on each side, and will  consist of games played either single-
handed or in  consultation; in the latter case it  is recommended, for
the purpose of saving time, that the allied players on each side shall
not exceed two in number. The  Prizes in these encounters will consist
of  sets   of  "STAUNTON"  CHESS   MEN,  in  ivory;   the  Association
contributing,  in  each  instance,  one-half  of  the  cost,  and  the
contending clubs the other half, in equal proportions. Clubs intending
to take a part in these  Matches are requested to communicate with the
Secretary at an early period.

                          IN THE TOURNAMENT.

1. The Tournament shall be played at the Red Lion Hotel, Cambridge.

2. The names  of the competitors shall be sent  to the Local Committee
on  or before  the 18th  day of  August next;  after which  period the
Committee reserve to themselves the  right of rejecting, if they think
proper, all  applications for admission. Every  competitor on entering
his name shall pay an entrance fee of one guinea, unless he shall have
previously  paid a  subscription  to  that amount,  and  if more  than
sixteen gentlemen enter their names,  the Local Committee shall select
that number out  of the gentlemen so entering their  names to form the
Tournament. Should more than the  required number of names be entered,
it shall be competent to the Local Committee to arrange a Supplemental
Tournament,  with Prizes  dependent in  amount on  the funds  at their

3. The  whole of  the players  shall be  present at  the close  of the
Meeting of Subscribers on the 28th  day of August next, when they will
be paired by lot; and any player  who shall not then be in attend ance
shall be considered to have resigned  his place in the Tournament, and
the Local Committee shall nominate another player in his stead.

4. The playing shall commence on the 28th of August, immediately after
the termination of  the Meeting of Subscribers; and on  the other days
of the Meeting at ten o'clock in the morning, and shall terminate each
day at twelve  o'clock P.M.; and any player who  shall not be prepared
to play within half an hour of the time fixed for the com mencement of
play, shall be considered to have  relinquished the Rubber in which he
is then  engaged, in  favour of  his antagonist,  should he  choose to
enforce the penalty (the latter being at his post within the specified

5. The Local  Committee shall, from time to time,  during the progress
of the  Meeting, fix  the period  for the  commencement of  each fresh
series of rubbers. The Committee  also reserve to themselves the right
of interfering,  to prevent any  unnecessary delay in the  progress of
the games.


                       ENGAGED IN CLCB MATCHES.

1. Each Match shall be conducted under such regulations as the Clubs
engaged shall mutually agree upou.

2. The agreement under which each Match is played shall, previously to
the  commencement  of  the  Match,  be placed  in  the  hands  of  the

                            PROBLEM PR1ZE.

A Prize, consisting  of a set of "STAUNTON" CHESS  MEN, in ivory, will
be  given for  the best  Problem submitted,  subject to  the following
rules, viz.:

1. Each Competitor may submit six Problems.

2. No  Problem shall consist  of less than  three, or more  than five,

3.  Every Problem  submitted  shall  be placed  in  the  hands of  the
Secretary on or before the 21st day of August next.

4. No  Problem shall compete  which has been previously  published, or
which is not the original composition of the Competitor.

5. No  problem shall compete  which has  any other termination  than a
check-mate, or  which is fettered by  any special condition as  to the
mode in which mate is to be effected.

6. The  Local Committee  will publish,  in the  Report of  the Proceed
ings, such  of the Problems  submitted as  they may deem  deserving of
publication; and no competitor shall  publish any Problem, until after
the publication of the Annual Report.

7. The  successful Competitor shall  have the option of  selecting for
his prize, instead of  a set of Chessmen, one or  more works on Chess,
the value of which shall not exceed that of the Chessmen.

                            GENERAL RULES.

It  shall be  the business  of the  Competitors in  each Game,  on its
conclusion, to furnish the Secretary with an exact record, in writing,
of the  whole of  the moves  played; and as  every Subscriber  will be
entitled to a copy of the Report,  it is understood that no Game shall
be  pre  viously  published,  without  the  express  sanction  of  the
Committee.   The  Local Committee  will,  before  the commencement  of
Meeting, appoint an Umpire or Umpires, to whom, or to one of whom, all
disputed  questions shall  be referred,  and whose  decision shall  be
final;  they  also  reserve  to  themselves  the  power  to  make  any
additional regulations either previously  to or during the continuance
of the Meeting.

— From the Circular of the Committee.

One thought on “Cambridge Congress (1860) – a first look…

  1. Pingback: First Look – look here first | Zan Chess

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