London (1872) – a first look

The following is a very brief introduction, the main purpose is to publicize the xtabs…

The BCA held an international tournament in London during the summer of 1872, from June 21th to August 7th. The first game began on June 24th. The scheduling was informal, and the play was held in three clubs in the city – St. George’s, Westminster, and London City Chess Club. Harding also mentions the Divan as a possible site.

This was the last major successful tournament for the association on this scale, according to Harding. It was also the formal introduction of Zukertort to British tournament chess after his arrival in London. He was to play many games with Steinitz that summer, but for this particular tournament there was very little drama. Despite the presence of other top-rank contestants, like Blackburne and De Vere, this tournament belonged to Steinitz, who went undefeated, scoring wins against every other contestant.

The format of the tournament was a RR-1w, which means a round robin where each pairing was played without counting draws, i.e. scoring was only based on a decisive win required of each pairing. Few draws occurred, only Zukertort–Steinitz, De Vere–Zukertort, MacDonnell–Blackburne and Blackburn // Martin.

The draw with Zukertort was the only blemish on a clean sweep for Steinitz. In fact, Steinitz’s domination robbed the tournament of much of its drama, and as MacDonnell dragged out some of his pairings into August, the press lost interest in the contest. Blackburne’s victory over MacDonnell (aka “Hiber”) in August gave him a clear 2nd place, with a three-way tie for 3-5. As the Westminster Chess Club Papers wrote, the tiebreak was subject to arbitrament – which was made simpler when De Vere resigned from consideration. Thus, Zukertort was 3rd, MacDonnell 4th, and De Vere 5th.

Due to this complicated tiebreak, neither SCID nor CB can reproduce a fully accurate xtab. I will display a text version of SCID’s table, which allowed for swapping rows and columns  with an editor. It is, afaik, completely accurate –

3rd BCA Congress - London (1872)
London, 1872.06 - 1872.08.10
                                Age Nat    Score     St Bl Zu Ma De Wi Go Ma
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 1: Steinitz, William            36 AUT   7.0 /  8   XX 1. *1 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.  (+7 -0 =1)
 2: Blackburne, Joseph Henry     30 ENG   5.0 /  9   0. XX 1. *1 0. 1. 1. *1  (+5 -2 =2)
 3: Zukertort, Johannes Hermann  29 GER   4.0 /  9   *0 0. XX 0. *1 1. 1. 1.  (+4 -3 =2)
 4: MacDonnell, George Alcock    41 ENG   4.0 /  8   0. *0 1. XX 0. 1. 1. 1.  (+4 -3 =1)
 5: De Vere, Cecil Valentine     26 ENG   4.0 /  8   0. 1. *0 1. XX 0. 1. 1.  (+4 -3 =1)
 6: Wisker, John                 26 AUS   3.0 /  7   0. 0. 0. 0. 1. XX 1. 1.  (+3 -4 =0)
 7: Gossip, George Hatfeild      30 ENG   1.0 /  7   0. 0. 0. 0. 0. 0. XX 1.  (+1 -6 =0)
 8: Martin, William                       0.0 /  8   0. *0 0. 0. 0. 0. 0. XX  (+0 -7 =1)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
32 games: +18 =0 -10 *4

It should be mentioned that no tournament book was ever published, and that the British coverage of the actual games was “thin”. I found the best source for the actual games was DSZ, i.e. the German chess periodical. But its coverage was selective. The Westminster Chess Club Papers contained some of the best overall description of the proceedings – but it had only a handful of games, about a third of DSZ’s coverage.

Most of the games I used came from 365chess, and were, when possible, checked for colors/results/move length against DSZ. I also used one game from Hardings’ Blackburne book (which in turn used a game from a Field column). There was also a De Vere–Zukertort draw from DSZ, and a Zukertort–Steinitz draw from CG. The latter may actually have been from the Handicap Tourney, and needs verification. A total of 15 actual games were found.

Despite this effort, 17 games are known missing – and unlikely to be found. To get the xtab above, and those that follow, I used stubs. It should be mentioned that not all the missing games may have been played. Harding mentions that Gossip dropped out of the tournament – but none of the contemporaneous reporting I examined mentioned this (I didn’t have access to any Field reporting directly).

I haven’t mentioned any of the BCA activity outside the Grand Tourney so far. Perhaps later I’ll add more about the three days the BCA rented out the newly reconstructed Crystal Palace (the site of the famous 1851 International Tournament) for various public exhibitions (e.g. a Blackburne blindfold simul, a Lowenthal simul, and a Telegraph match).

Here then, are the standard xtabs from CB and SCID:

CB - London (1872) xtab (Click to enlarge)

SCID - London (1872) xtab

Here is a list of actual games (i.e. non-stubs):

 1872.06.24   C59  30     (R?)  1-0   Zukertort -- Gossip
 1872.06.26   C39  40     (R?)  1-0   Blackburne -- Zukertort
 1872.06.27   C80  37     (R?)   *    De Vere -- Zukertort
 1872.06.28   C01  35     (R?)  1-0   De Vere -- Blackburne
 1872.06.??   B21  38     (R?)  1-0   De Vere -- MacDonnell
 1872.06.??   C30  18     (R?)  1-0   Steinitz -- De Vere
 1872.06.??   C67  23     (R?)   *    Zukertort -- Steinitz
 1872.06.??   C25  51     (R?)  1-0   Steinitz -- Zukertort
 1872.06.??   C30  47     (R?)  0-1   Zukertort -- MacDonnell
 1872.06.??   C77  70     (R?)  1-0   Zukertort -- Wisker
 1872.07.02   A13  47     (R?)  0-1   Wisker -- Steinitz
 1872.07.03   B47  17     (R?)  1-0   Zukertort -- De Vere
 1872.07.11   C32  33     (R?)  1-0   Steinitz -- MacDonnell
 1872.07.13   C52  55     (R?)  0-1   Blackburne -- Steinitz
 1872.08.10   A00  41     (R?)  1-0   Blackburne -- MacDonnell

And breaking them down to those with sources:

 1872.06.24   C59  30     (R?)  1-0   Zukertort -- Gossip       DSZ v27 N8 Aug 1872 p217 G-3343
 1872.06.26   C39  40     (R?)  1-0   Blackburne -- Zukertort   DSZ v27 N8 Aug 1872 p215 G-3341
 1872.06.27   C80  37     (R?)   *    De Vere -- Zukertort      DSZ v27 N9 Sep 1872 p249 G-3258
 1872.06.28   C01  35     (R?)  1-0   De Vere -- Blackburne     DSZ v27 N9 Sep 1872 p216 G-3342
 1872.06.??   C30  18     (R?)  1-0   Steinitz -- De Vere       DSZ v27 N12 Dec 1872 G-3304
 1872.06.??   C67  23     (R?)   *    Zukertort -- Steinitz     CG-1718606
 1872.06.??   C77  70     (R?)  1-0   Zukertort -- Wisker       DSZ v27 N8 Aug 1872 p217 G-3344
 1872.07.11   C32  33     (R?)  1-0   Steinitz -- MacDonnell    DSZ v27 N9 Sep 1872 p253 G-3261
 1872.07.13   C52  55     (R?)  0-1   Blackburne -- Steinitz    DSZ v27 N9 Sep 1872 p252 G-3260
 1872.08.10   A00  41     (R?)  1-0   Blackburne -- MacDonnell  Harding - Blackburne / The Field 10 Aug 1872

And those without:

 1872.06.??   B21  38     (R?)  1-0   De Vere -- MacDonnell
 1872.06.??   C25  51     (R?)  1-0   Steinitz -- Zukertort
 1872.06.??   C30  47     (R?)  0-1   Zukertort -- MacDonnell
 1872.07.02   A13  47     (R?)  0-1   Wisker -- Steinitz
 1872.07.03   B47  17     (R?)  1-0   Zukertort -- De Vere

Finally, a list of the stubs:

 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Martin -- Zukertort
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Martin -- Steinitz
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Gossip -- Steinitz
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Wisker -- Blackburne
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   Blackburne -- Gossip
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)   *    Blackburne -- Martin
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Martin -- Blackburne
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   MacDonnell -- Wisker
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   MacDonnell -- Gossip
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Martin -- MacDonnell
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   Wisker -- De Vere
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   De Vere -- Gossip
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   De Vere -- Martin
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  0-1   Gossip -- Wisker
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   Wisker -- Martin
 1872.06.??   A00   0     (R?)  1-0   Gossip -- Martin
 1872.07.30   A00   0     (R?)   *    MacDonnell -- Blackburne

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

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