Marshall–Johnston match (1899/1900) – A first look look

Marshall–Johnston match (1899/1900) 

15 Game Match⁽¹⁾ :    Dec. 21, 1899 – Jan. 21, 1900   at Chess & Checkers Club⁽²⁾,  Chicago IL USA.

Time Control⁽³⁾:    35 moves/2 hours then 18 moves/hour thereafter; sealed envelope adjournment.  

Playing sessions⁽³⁾:   4 games/week,  7pm-12pm, adjournments on 12/25, 1/1, and Wed’s thereafter. 

Prize⁽³⁾:   $150 dollars.

Winner⁽⁴⁾:   Marshall +7, -6, =2

Links:   PGN,  EDO chess,  O’Keefe (Dec 1899 and Jan 1900),  CG  (non-TI entry)

   (1)  First to win seven was to be victor. Each player to have two non-scoring byes. See Chicago Tribune 1899-12-24 p20.
   (2)  151 Fifth Ave. (pre-1911 numbering, now 21 S. Wells St.) – see this link.  Ibid 1 as well.
   (3)  Games stipulated to be free to the press. General Rules follow American Chess code. Referee, Harry F. Lee.  Ibid 1. 
   (4)  Chicago Tribune 1900-01-28 p20,  BDE 1900-01-22 p16  and  BSDU 1900-01-23 p?

Preliminary version

(Add note about how the match came about, and perhaps a word or two about final impression)

Marshall--Johnston match (Chicago 1899-1900)
Chicago C&CC, IL USA, 1899.12.21 - 1900.01.21
                              Score     1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5
 1: Marshall, Frank James    8.0 / 15   1 1 0 = 1 1 0 = 0 1 0 1 0 0 1  (+7 -6 =2)
 2: Johnston, Sidney Paine   7.0 / 15   0 0 1 = 0 0 1 = 1 0 1 0 1 1 0  (+6 -7 =2)
15 games: +9 =2 -4

(CB seems to insist on breaking up the match table into two pieces, one for each year, so I can’t show its version of the xtab – sorry!)

Sydney P. Johnston, Chicago’s candidate for a place on the teams in the cable matches, is probably the strongest native player In Chicago. He Is an original and yet conservative player and bears the brunt of hard battles with equanimity.

F. J. Marshall, champion of the Brooklyn Chess Club, is one of the rising players of the east. His development since he came from Canada, a few years ago, has been steady, and he is now at the head of the Brooklyn Chess Club, with prospects of rising higher. Marshall was born in New York and is a candidate for the cable match team.

                                                                                                            ACM v2 N4 (Oct 1898) p154

The Easterner [Marshall] has much more experience in match play in spite of his youth. He played in the London minor tournament, where, as first prize winner, he made his reputation, and has been in many other tournaments and matches in New York.

Johnston, on the other hand, has never played outside of Chicago, and that play has generally been off-hand encounters and odds in the local club. The scores of the games have appeared in the columns of THE TRIBUNE as fast as they were played.

                                                                                                    Chicago Tribune 1900-01-07 p20

This was an early match for Marshall, who had recently emigrated to New York City from Canada, and had his first major tournament success in late Spring in the minor section of London (1899) international tournament, winning first place. With such success in hand, national interest in testing Marshall’s strength led the Chicago Chess Club to sponsor a match against their best player, Sydney Johnston (Chicago Tribune 1899-10-22 and 1899-11-12), who also agreed to pay all of Marshall’s expenses.

Originally a purse of $100 was offered, but by the time the match began it had risen to $150 (I believe the C&CC put up the purse, but am uncertain – they definitely paid Marshall’s expenses during his stay however). The games were played at night to allow Johnston to work his normal hours at his job. The match was stipulated to have four games per week, but the actual pace was somewhat faster to start off, and slower to finish. Marshall took a week off after the thirteenth game to give exhibition games in Iowa.

Generally, play was on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with the occasional Tuesday or Wednesday thrown in:

Thu  1899.12.21   D00   28     (R1)    0-1    Johnston -- Marshall
Sat  1899.12.23   B01   23     (R2)    1-0    Marshall -- Johnston
Sun  1899.12.24   D30   14     (R3)    1-0    Johnston -- Marshall
Wed  1899.12.27   B01   39     (R4)     =     Marshall -- Johnston
Thu  1899.12.28   D55   32     (R5)    0-1    Johnston -- Marshall
Sat  1899.12.30   B01   50     (R6)    1-0    Marshall -- Johnston
Sun  1899.12.31   D35   40     (R7)    1-0    Johnston -- Marshall
Tue  1900.01.02   A00   53     (R8)     =     Marshall -- Johnston
Sat  1900.01.06   D30   65     (R9)    1-0    Johnston -- Marshall
Sun  1900.01.07   B01   19     (R10)   1-0    Marshall -- Johnston
Tue  1900.01.09   A84   17     (R11)   1-0    Johnston -- Marshall
Sat  1900.01.13   A00   23     (R12)   1-0    Marshall -- Johnston
Sun  1900.01.14   D53   54     (R13)   1-0    Johnston -- Marshall
Sat  1900.01.20   C50   74     (R14)   0-1    Marshall -- Johnston
Sun  1900.01.21   D08   39     (R15)   0-1    Johnston -- Marshall

Marshall started the match fast, taking a commanding lead in the first half of the tournament, but Johnston fought back, taking the match to the very last game, before losing to Marshall. The match generated nice interest in the US press, and was especially well covered by the Chicago Tribune and Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspapers.

As can be seen, White was heavily favored in this match!

Although the match often involved repeated opening play, the games themselves were fairly exciting, and decisive, involving only two draws in the fifteen games. Marshall’s emergence as a strong and talented young player was affirmed. The BDE had this to say about the match:

It was the unanimous opinion that this contest had been one of the most satisfactory ever brought off in this country and that both contestants had throughout shown the true spirit of sportsmanship.
 BDE 1900-01-22 p16


Phardy, the engaging Sunday BDE columnist, had this to say:

Marshall and Johnston have no reason to be ashamed of. As I have before remarked, there was no humbug noticeable in any part of this encounter; nothing but serious business from start to finish. And such a finish, I too. The ordinary players in a match of this kind, fearful lest they might succumb to the nervous strain, invariably provide that, in case of a tie at six games each, an additional series be contested. Not so with these two doughty fighters. They wanted, as it were, a clean cut fight to a finish. They had it with a vengeance, played good chess Into the bargain and both rose simultaneously in the estimation of all American enthusiasts. Marshall secured the verdict by the skin of his teeth, but hardly established a distinct superiority, while Johnston emerged without a particle of disgrace attaching to the defeat. Sundry other masters, experts and amateurs are respectfully requested to take notice and profit by the example of these gladiators who evidently know nought of fear.

                                                                                                                  BDE 1900-02-11 p37 c5

A young Frank Marshall (1904)


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