London (1851) – London Chess Club Tournament – a first look

London Chess Club Tournament (1851) – The Cup Tourney


PGN download:


This tournament was a 9-player single-win Round Robin tournament sponsored by the London Chess Club for foreign players who remained in London after the completion of the more famous Staunton International Tournament held at St. Georges Chess Club. This was the first major tournament utilizing that format, predating the <London (1862)> tournament.

It was held from Monday July 28, 1851 until Saturday August 16, 1851 (the exact ending date is somewhere between the 9th and 16th). The tournament offered a single prize, a gold cup worth 100£ (actually 100 guineas), which was won by Anderssen. Mayerhofer is reported to have taken 2nd place.

Early in the contest it became clear that Anderssen would emerge the winner, and several players are known to have dropped out without completing play. In fact, only 14 games are known to exist (of which 13 are available here, 11 from primary sources). Additionally, due to the friction between the two London clubs, the press coverage was limited – with little mention in any of Staunton’s reporting.

Thus, the best coverage was in Horwitz and Kling’s The Chess Player, despite them often including scores without explicitly mentioning the source of the game. Luckily, Anderssen included all of his games in the Schachzeitung der Berliner, allowing additional confidence in Horwitz and Kling’s reporting.

Additional reporting is given in Bell’s Life articles of the time, to which I don’t have access:

CB - London Chess Club Tournament (1851)


SCID - xtab

Itt’s easier to hand edit some of the updates in for the player bios to get this:

London Chess Club Tournament
London ENG, 1851.07.28-08.16

                        Age Nat    Score     An Ma Ho De Ha Ki Eh Sz Lo
 1: Anderssen, Adolf     33 GER   7.5 /  8   XX 1. =1 1. .. 1. 1. 1. 1.  (+7 -0 =1)
 2: Mayerhofer, Carl     23 AUT   2.0 /  3   0. XX .. .. 1. 1. .. .. ..  (+2 -1 =0)
 3: Horwitz, Bernhard    44 GER   1.5 /  3   =0 .. XX .. .. .. .. .. 1.  (+1 -1 =1)
 4: Deacon, Frederic     21 BEL   1.0 /  2   0. .. .. XX .. .. .. .. 1.  (+1 -1 =0)
 5: Harrwitz, Daniel     30 GER   1.0 /  2   .. 0. .. .. XX .. 1. .. ..  (+1 -1 =0)
 6: Kieseritsky, Lionel  45 RUS   1.0 /  3   0. 0. .. .. .. XX .. 1. ..  (+1 -2 =0)
 7: Ehrmann, August      65 GER   0.0 /  2   0. .. .. .. 0. .. XX .. ..  (+0 -2 =0)
 8: Szabo, (Colonel)     25 HUN   0.0 /  2   0. .. .. .. .. 0. .. XX ..  (+0 -2 =0)
 9: Lowe, Edward         56 CZE   0.0 /  3   0. .. 0. 0. .. .. .. .. XX  (+0 -3 =0)
14 games: +8 =1 -5

(End date is from Chess Player report publication date)

I used <CG> for several of the dob’s, including Mayerhofer and Ehrmann. For Szabo, I used this site:

Often, chess sites will give this player as Szabo, Djuro, but using Gaige, he would be too young for this tournament. Edwards uses Szabo, Emeric, based on an obit from the 1865 Liverpool Mercury which I don’t have access to. In keeping with the contemporaneous reporting, I will use Szabo, (Colonel). This player certainly did become a member of the Liverpool Chess Club in 1859, and is reported as playing for Liverpool in 1856:

      July 1851
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
       1  2  3  4  5
 6  7  8  9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31          <-- July 28th, tournament start

     August 1851
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
                1  2
 3  4  5  6  7  8  9    <-- Anderssen finishes on 8th.    
10 11 12 13 14 15 16    <-- End date not exact, probably on or before the 9th.
17 18 19 20 21 22 23        
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31                      Underline = Chess Player issue (see below)

Here are the brief mentions of the tournament from various issues of Horwitz and Kling’s <The Chess Player>:

CP - v1 N3 p19 (Aug 2, 1851) -- RR notice 100 Guinea prize

   CP – v1 N3 p19 (Aug 2, 1851)

It must be noted that <The Chess Player> was a weekly, and this appeared in an issue already at the end of the first week of play. This indicates a delay of over one week, between the writing of copy and its printing and distribution. The initial roster of players was to be:

Anderssen, Loewenthal, Harrwitz, Horwitz, Szabo, Kling, Deacon, Meyerhoffer, Loewe and several others.

It can be seen that the definition of “foreign” was somewhat broad, as Horwitz and Kling, were well entrenched in London by that time.  Loewenthal was yet to become the mainstream fixture of London chess that he was destined to becom, having come to London for Staunton’s tournament, and staying on in a position at St. George’s. Despite this reportage, neither Loewenthal nor Kling participated in the tournament, instead Ehrmann and Kieseritsky joined. Kieseritsky had actually returned to Paris after Staunton’s tournament, and agreed to return to London after being enjoined by Mr.  Mongredien, president of the London CC.

CP - v1 N4 p30 (Aug 9, 1851) -- Anderssen in lead

   CP – v1 N4 p30 (Aug 9, 1851)

The tournament was fairly fast-paced by design. Many of the vistors to the City were due to depart soon after the main tournament. The members of the London Chess Club wanted to share in the opportunity presented by the visitation of so many chess experts from foreign lands and so designed the tournament to be a RR-1w partly out of necessity. As it was, Anderssen returned to the continent before the formal end of the tournament (though he was known to be the winner far ahead of the close of ceremonies). His victory Cup had to be mailed to him in Breslau!

It’s also an unfortunate corollary of Anderssen’s fast-paced victory, and the offer of but one grand prize, that several other players withdrew from the tournament before finishing their schedule. Kieseritsky himself reported in his <La Régence> that he only played three games, a win over Szabo, an expected loss to Anderssen, and an unexpected lost to Mayerhofer. Mayerhofer was a Viennese player, much beloved in his home city (both for his chess skills, and for his operatic talent as singer). His second place finish was likely the high point of his chess career, even if the tournament itself was somewhat blemished by dropouts.

Another player who exited early from the tournament was Harrwitz.  His win over Ehrmann is given in <The Chess Player>, but he supposedly withdrew after losing a game to Mayerhofer. I suspect he dropped out before even facing Anderssen, since the latter reported all his other games in his magazine. The Mayerhofer–Harrwitz game is on <CG>, but I have yet to discover its provenance. Staunton later wrote scoffingly of  Harrwitz’s withdrawal from this tournament, calling Harrwitz a “retreating general” and a “Runaway Apprentice” in <Chess Player’s Chronicle v15 (1854)>.

In the end, this tournament can only be partially reconstructed. We know for certain that Anderssen won:

CP - v1 N5 p40 (Aug 16, 1851) -- Anderssen winning both departs home

   CP – v1 N5 p40 (Aug 16, 1851)

CP - v1 N7 p54 (Aug 30, 1851) -- Cup is in the mail, Harrwitz returns

   CP – v1 N7 p54 (Aug 30, 1851)

The collection of tournament games is complete insofar as Anderssen is concerned. All his games were published on both sides of the Channel (the only pairing missing is Harrwitz, who I believe forfeited). The fact that Mayerhofer, the second place finisher who happened to be in London studying singing, is 2nd in collection of present-day preserved games is a happy accident – we don’t know his actual score. Nor those of all the other players.

In the end the tournament  must be viewed as a failure in consequence. It was at the time. Partly this was a result of the failure in planning (it was hastily arranged), in the offering of but one prize, and of scheduling (many players were likely exhausted by the many tournament and match games played). Staunton’s lack of press coverage also contributes to the failure, certainly from our perspective of  preserving the record.

Staunton probably had cause for some measure of hard feelings due to the schism between the clubs, but he certainly wasn’t above adding fuel to the fire:

It is the praise which the author of the pamphlet in question bestows on that shrivelled and exanimate body, whilom the London Chess Club, but now hardly a club at all in numbers, and perhaps rather more a card-playing, than a chess-playing meeting, if the truth were told.

We had almost forgotten another encomium bestowed by the pamphleteer on this society, that of having saved the immortal name of British hospitality, by giving cigars and potables to Herr Anderseen and his companions. Well, be it so. The credit of the cigars is entirely due to the London Chess Club: that of the tournament to the St. George’s.


<The Chess Player’s Chronicle v8 p191/208 (1852)>

This isn’t penned by Staunton, but was published by him. The “credit of the cigars” phrase is entertaining with a little context. One of the incentives offered the players in the London CC tournament, besides the gold Cup, was their offer to supply food, drink, and cigars, at no cost, to the players during play (as mentioned at the end of this SZB notice).

DSZ p277

   SZB p277 (1851)

The foreign players were really caught in the middle between the two clubs, not wanting to alienate either. Another curious result of this was that, while Staunton’s <London (1851)> tournament book had virtually no coverage of the London CC tournament, the German translation of his book had a supplemental chapter at the very end covering this secondary tournament. Here is a google translation of it:

Das Schach Turnier zu London im jahre 1851.pdf (last chapter)

We have mentioned in the text  that the provincial tournament had done
neither  of  events yet  to  play  some reports  s  worth  it. Can  we
therefore  the communication  of  the latter  relieved  keep what  the
English Rapporteur not  free standing, so we believe  the Partieen not
to  perform, after  the tournament,  as it  seems, as  an advocacy  of
worthiness for Men Staunton, Lowenthal, Horwitz and Lowe were arranged
by the  senior committee.  Only through  this arrangement,  however, a
Beischmack  carries from  that the  Committee of  Georg Clubs  alleged
"exclusiveness"  or not  control  profiled  arbitrariness, this  after
matche have a connection with  the tournament. Equal another series of
interesting,  also  played  outside the  tournament  Partieen  between
Anderssen,  Mayet, Perigal,  Mongredien,  Buckle, Horwitz,  Lowenthal,
Scen  & c.,  Find subsequently  held  sweepstakes their  place in  the
Berliner Zeitung chess.

By contrast, some news about the London German readers are - organized
club sweepstakes hopefully not be unwelcome.

The arranged by  London club tournament began July 28.  The winner was
to receive a large silver cup, worth 100 guineas. The fighters were:

Anderssen,      Löwenthal, 
Deacon,         Lowe, 
Harrwitz,       Meierhofer, 
Horwitz,        Szabo, 

Of these 9 combatants everyone should  play with each a game, who last
won  the most  Partieen, received  the award.  It should  therefore be
played the whole 36 Partieen, so this competition, because every day 8
players could  be active at  the same time,  required a period  of two

The fight took  place in London club. This time,  the players obtained
each Comfort  and all meals  and drinks, cigars etc  were administered
free of charge.

Before the  start of the  real struggle, however, were  withdrawn from
the said  competitors Kling  and Lowenthal;  by contrast,  Ehrmann had
joined from Strasbourg and Kieseritzky.  Anderssen won after a quick 8
August ended struggle against  Kieseritzky, Horwitz, Lowe, Meyerhofer,
Szabo, Deacon and Ehrmann honorary  cup. Harrwitz wanted after he lost
a game against Meyerhofer not mitkämpfen on.

Over the further course of the reported "Régence":

"A second  tournament took  place in  London, in  the rooms  of London
clubs. In the most honorable intentions, the members of this club have
not wished  that there should  glad that they  had kept away  from all
participation in the tournament of the St. Georg club from selfishness
or  greed. On  the contrary,  they lay  in the  righteous feelings  of
national self-love much because the  foreign chess players left London
with the  most perfect conviction to  be recorded in England  warm and
with distinction.  For this reason,  they have the  strangers showered
with  compliments and  therefore  devised a  second tournament,  whose
prize  was  a  very  valuable  silver cup.  Ten  foreign  players,  Mr
Anderssen,  Deacon,  Ehrmann,  Harr   joke,  Kling,  Lowe,  Lowenthal,
Meyerhofer  and Szabo  were  invited  to take  part  in this  struggle
Theil. Mr.  Kieseritzky, which was  then in Paris, received  this from
the honorable president  of the company, a postal and  drafted in such
flattering  terms  invitation that  there  could  be  no talk  of  the
Decline.  Following the  measures taken  by the  Commission means  the
price should be accorded to that  would win most Partieen, namely make
each player  a game with each  of the remainder of  participants. This
device was  defective, because the  majority of players  withdrew when
they  realized to  have  no chance  of winning.  Thus  the purpose  of
obtaining a rich  collection well played Partieen, missed  by only got
about 20  games of very questionable  value. Also it was  not cheap to
stay a single price. Much better it  would have been, the number of of
each participator with  each other to gambling Partieen  fixed at two,
to be quite  fair and then to  divide the price in the  ratio of games
won and indecisive,  two parts in any profits, a  part would have been
expected zn on each depot. In this mode, each would have stayed to the
end. Mr. Kieseritzky arrived only at  the points in time when half the
players  had   already  retired;   he  found  only   opportunity  with
Mr. Anderssen and Mayerhofer two games  that he lost, and he gained to
play against Mr. Szabo."

In  the  end it  is  stated  after  adjusting  for a  given  erroneous
respected in the Berliner Zeitung chess communication of:

"We need  not add that the  result has rule considering  the excellent
Anderssen game, we leave full justice, not surprised us."

On August 9 Anderssen left the scene  of his victory after he had been
answered  at the  moment of  departure Staunton's  lenge, as  reported

On 13  he met, greeted  warmly, in Berlin.  Near and far  had followed
with growing interest him so  soon after another ascended honor stages
also outside  the chess world was  expected of the first  successes of
the highest  voltage and  heard with  proudest satisfaction  after the
last  that the  German master  ascended the  imperial throne  of chess
would have. Before  Allen the Berlin and Potsdam friends  could it not
fail to receive now their  victorious representatives with Triumph and
Herzlickkeit. Had Germany, however, can  contend with the proud Albion
at the  price of  talent, yet  it is the  rich Albion  in the  glow of
festivities to vie unable. Indisputably  there is therefore gelagen at
the  ceremony, which  were  organized to  Staunton's consolation,  his
hergegangen brilliant than in the modest purpose food that gege in the
flower garden  to Berlin Anderssen  honor Ben  was. We ask  here about
comparing the Berliner Zeitung Chess (1851 S.308).



One thought on “London (1851) – London Chess Club Tournament – a first look

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

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