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         The History and The Culture of Chess

The Codification of Chess - from The Chess Congress of 1862 by János Jakab Löwenthal
March 2008


[p. xix]
The first meeting of the new Society was held at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, on Friday, 6th May, 1853. Mr. C. A. Duval, President of the Manchester Club, was elected President of the Association for the year. The extension of the sphere of operations was marked by the accession of many new members. The Manchester players, of course, mustered in great force. Among the most notable in addition to the President were Messrs. Kipping, Hasche, Kyllman, Unili, and Cohen. The visitors were also very numerous, including Messrs. Williams,
Löwenthal, Staunton, Harrwitz, Horwitz, Sir John Blunden, Bart., of Kilkenny, Sir G. Stephen, Newham, Cronhelm, and others. Play commenced at 11 o'clock. The games contested during the two days of the meeting comprised—two which Herr Löwenthal played simultaneously against Sir John Blunden and Mr. E. Cronhelm, both of which he won:—five between Messrs. Williams and Kipping, the former winning three to two:—one game in which Mr. Staunton gave the Pawn and two moves to Sir John Blunden, the Eev. S. Burnell, and Messrs. Gregg and King, in consultation, which was won by the allies :—one game between Mr. Staunton against Messrs. Duval and Kipping, in consultation, won by Mr. Staunton:—several between Messrs. Harrwitz and Allen, at the odds of the Rook :—a blindfold game played by Herr Harrwitz against Messrs. Hirst and Ralli, which was won by Herr Harrwitz:—a game played by Herr Horwitz against Sir John Blunden and the Rev. S. Burnell, lost by the allies :—several simultaneous games contested by Herr Löwenthal against various amateurs
at various odds, the majority of which he won:—and two simultaneous consultation games, played by Messrs. Löwenthal and Horwitz, against Messrs. Williams and Harrwitz. This last encounter excited considerable interest, the games being keenly contested ; they were discontinued at 9 p.m. on Friday, and were never resumed. A portion of Saturday was devoted to consideration of the propriety of remodelling the laws of the game. At the meeting called for the purpose, Mr. Staunton gave expression to the long cherished wish for a new and comprehensive code, and descanted at length on the anomalies of the existing rules. After a desultory conversation on various points connected with the subject, the following resolution was unanimously adopted. "That Mr. Staunton be requested to put himself in communication with Major Jaenisch, of Russia, and Mr. Heydebrand, of Germany, the most distinguished Chess authors of the Continent, to induce them to co-operate with him in drawing up a code of Chess laws for general adoption, to be reported on at the next meeting of the

At six o'clock the members adjourned to the Queen's Hotel for dinner, Mr. Duval occupying the chair, and Mr. Cronhelm the vice-chair. The after-dinner proceedings were of great length, much of the time being taken up by a general and somewhat acrimonious discussion respecting the famous challenges, and counter challenges, which were passing at the time between Messrs. Harrwitz and Staunton. The most interesting speech was one quite independent of this exciting topic, and was delivered by the vice-chairman in reply to the toast of "Success to the Association," coupled with his name. It was an address in which that gentleman, in his own peculiar and imaginative vein, entertained his audience by drawing a number of close and humorous parallels between the game of Chess and the conduct of political and military affairs, illustrated by events adduced from ancient and modern history. After some conversation as to the place of the next year's meeting, the choice fell upon Liverpool, Mr. Morton Sparke being appointed to act as Honorary Secretary.

[p. lxvii]
On Thursday, July 17th, the Association met in full Congress to receive the following Report of the Sub-committee appointed to consider Mr. Staunton's propositions for a new Code of Laws ; and for the transaction of other business.

IN compliance with the instructions of the Managing Committee, the Committee on the Laws werе taken into their consideration the propositions of Mr. Stauuton for a complete Code, as set forth by that gentleman in his late publication—the "Chess Praxis." It will be within the memory of the Members of the Association, that the agitation for a revised Code began аs far back as the meeting at Manchester in 1853, at which Mr. Staunton discussed at length the anomalies of the existing Laws. The object held in view at that time was the formation of an universal Code, and to that end, Mr. Staunton was desired to put himself in communication with Major Jaenisch and with Mr. Heydebrand. Since that time nine years have elapsed, and the idea then entertained of obtaining an universal Code, has, from the almost insuperable difficulties attending the task, given way to the more practicable one of framing a comprehensive Code of Laws for British Players. Mr. Staunton's propositions were published in 1860, and it now remains for the Association in Congress assembled, formally to adopt them, or such a modification of them as may seem desirable. In making use of them in framing the following Rules, the Committee could not but admire the great care and research bestowed on the subject by Messrs. Staunton and his co-labourers ; and in the notes and observations intended to elucidate the various questions, the Committee have found a mass of very curious and interesting information, which has been of great assistance to them, and for which the Chess world owe a debt of gratitude. From these notes, the Committee have availed themselves of several suggestions which appear to them to tend towards the theoretical perfection of the game ; but as regards
the arrangement of the Bules under the various headings, they have adopted a simpler form than that used in the propositions, while in one or two points they differ from the author of the "Praxis," namely, on those of  "Penalties" and " Castling." They think it unnecessary to enter into definitions of  "The Board,"  "The Men,"  "The Moves," &c., as these may fairly be presumed to be known to the Members, and  may be learned from any elementary treatise. It now only remains for them to propose that the following Rules and Regulations shall for
the future govern all play at the Meetings of the British Chess Association.

                                                                   GEO. W. MEDLEY, Hon. Sec
30th June, 1862.

To this was appended the proposed new Code,

   According to previous advertisement, Lord Lyttelton took the chair at 8 p.m. Among the members present were Messrs. Mongredien, T. I. Hampton, "W. Hampton, Fonblanque, Pearson, Deacon, Eev. G. McDonnell, Rev. John Owen, F. H. Lewis, F. Thompson, J. Duncan, M.A., Staunton, Medley, Greenaway, Wormald, Worrell, Rev. J. Donaldson, Löwenthal, Anderssen, Steinitz, and Dufresne.
   THE PRESIDENT, in opening the proceedings, drew attention to the object for which principally the meeting had been called ; namely, to pass an authoritative Code of Laws. Doubtless every one present had read the report of the Committee, and the alterations which they proposed. His lordship then rapidly passed in review the efforts which had been made from time to time towards the formation of a revised Code, and which are familiar to the Chess world: and trusted that the result of their deliberations that evening would accomplish the desired
   Mr. MONGREDIEN moved that the rules and regulations proposed by the Committee should in future govern all play at the meetings of the British Chess Association.
   Mr. DEACON seconded the motion.
   Mr. STAUNTON objected to the adoption of the Code proposed by the Committee, and proceeded to state the grounds on which he did so.
   Some conversation then arose as to the manner in which the discussion should be taken, it being ultimately agreed that the proposed Code should be considered clause by clause. The Rules were then taken in numerical order, each sentence being subjected to strict scrutiny. The following Laws were the result of the deliberations.

                                               I.—THE CHESS BOARD.
The board must be so placed during play that each combatant has a white square in his right hand corner. If, during the progress of a game, either player discovers that the board has been improperly placed, he may insist on its being adjusted.
                                                II.—THE CHESSMEN.
If, at any time in the course of a game, it is found that the men were not properly placed, or that one or more of them were omitted at the beginning, the game in question must be annulled. If, at any time it is discovered that a man has been dropped off the board, and moves have been made during its absence, such moves shall be retracted, and the man restored. If the players cannot agree as to the square on which it should he replaced, the game must be annulled.
                                                 Ш.—RIGHT OF MOVE AND CHOICE OP COLOUR.
The right of making the first move, and (if either player require it) of choosing the colour, which shall be retained throughout the sitting, must be decided by lot. In any series of games between the same players at one sitting, each shall have the first move alternately in all the games, whether won or drawn. In an annulled game, the player who had the first move in that game shall move first in the next.
                                                 IV.—COMMENCING OUT OF TURN.
If a player malte the first move in a game when it is not his turn to do sо, the game must be annulled if the error has been noticed before both players have completed the fourth move. After four moves on each side have been made, the game must be played out as it stands.
                                                  V.—PLAYING TWO MOTES IN SUCCESSION.
If, in the course of a game, a player move a man when it is not his turn to play, he must retract the said move; and after his adversary has moved, must play the man wrongly moved, if it can be played legally.
                                                  VI.—TOUCH AND MOTE.
A player must never touch any of the men except when it is his turn to play, or except when he touches a man for the purpose of adjusting it; in which latter case he must, before touching it, say, " I adjust," or words to that effect. A player who touches with his hand (except accidentally) one of his own men when it is his turn to play, must move it, if it can be legally moved, unless, before touching it, he say, "I adjust," as above ; and a player who touches one of his adversary's men, under the same conditions, must take it, if he can legally do so.
   If, in either case, the move cannot be legally made, the offender must move his King ; but in the event of the King having no legal move, there shall be no penalty. If a player hold a man in his hand, undecided on which square to play it, his adversary may require him to replace it until he has decided on its destination ; that man, however, must be moved. If a player, when it is his turn to play, touch with his hand (except accidentally or in castling) more than one of his own men, he must play any one of them legally moveable that his opponent selects. If under the same circumstances, he touch two or more of the adversary's men, he must capture whichever of them his antagonist chooses, provided it can be legally taken. If it happen that none of the men so touched can be moved or captured, the offender must move his King ; but if the King cannot be legally moved, there shall be no penalty.
                                                       VII.— FALSE MOVES AND ILLEGAL MOTES.
If a player make a false move — that is, either by playing a man of his own to a square to which it cannot be legally moved, or by capturing an adverse man by a move which cannot be legally made — he must, at the choice of his opponent, and according to the case, either move his own man legally, capture the man legally, or move any other man legally moveable. If, in the course of a game, an illegality be discovered (not involving a King being in check), and the move on which it was committed hag been replied to, and not more than four moves on each
side have been made subsequently, all these latter moves, including that on which the illegality was committed, must be retracted. If more than four moves on each side have been made, the game must be played out as it stands.
                                                          VIII.— CHECK.
A player must audibly say "Check !" when he makes a move which puts the hostile King in check. The mere announcement of check shall have no signification if check be not actually given. If check be given but not announced, and the adversary makes a move which obviates the check the move must stand. If check be given and announced, and the adversary neglects to obviate it, he shall not have the option of capturing the checking piece, or of covering, but must " move his King" out of check ; but if the King have no legal move there shall be no penalty. If in the course of a game it be discovered that a King has been left in check for one or more moves on either side, all the moves, subsequent to that on which the check was given, must be retracted. Should these not be remembered the game must be annulled.
                                                           IX. — ENFORCING PENALTIES.
A player is not bound to enforce a penalty. A penalty can only be enforced by a player before he has touched a man in reply. Should he touch a man in reply in consequence of a false or illegal move of his opponent, or a false cry of check, he shall not be compelled to move that man, and his right to enforce a penalty shall remain. When the King is moved as a penalty, it cannot castle on that move.
                                                            X — CASTLING.
In castling, the player shall move King and Book simultaneously, or shall touch the King first. If he touch the Book first, he must not quit it before having touched the King ; or his opponent may claim the move of the Book аз a complete move. When the odds of either Rook or both Rooks are given, the player giving the odds shall be allowed to move his King as in castling, and as though the Rooks were on the
                                                             XI.—СOUNTING FIFTY MOTES.
A player may call upon his opponent to draw the game, or to mate him within fifty moves on each side, whenever his opponent persists in repeating a particular check, or series of checks, or the some line of play, or whenever he has a King alone on the board, or
          King and Queen,
          King and Rook
          King and Bishop                     against an equal or superior force.
          King and Knight

          King and Two Bishops,
          King and Two Knights,           against King and Queen.
          King, Bishop and Knight,
                                              and in all analogous cases ;
and whenever one player considers that his opponent can force the game, or that neither side can win it, he has the right of submitting the case to the umpire or bystanders, who shall decide whether it is one for the fifty move counting ; should he not be mated within the fifty mores, he may claim that the game shall proceed.
                                                             XII.—PAWN TAKING IN PASSING.
Should a player be left with no other move than to take a Pawn in, passing, ho shall be bound to play that move.
                                                             XIII.—QUEENING A PAWN.
When a pawn has reached the eighth square, the player has the option of selecting a piece, whether such piece has been previously lost or
not, whose name and powers it shall then assume, or of deciding that it shall remain a Pawn.
                                                             XIV.—ABANDONING THE GAME.
If a player abandon the game, discontinue his moves, voluntarily resign, wilfully upset the board, or refuse to abide by these laws, or to submit to the decision of the umpire, he must be considered to have lost the game.
                                                             XV.—THE UMPIRE оr BYSTANDERS.
The umpire shall have authority to decide any question whatever that may arise in the course of a game, but must never interfere except when appealed to. He must always apply the laws as herein expressed, and neither assume the power of modifying them, nor of deviating from them in particular cases, according to his own judgment. When a question is submitted to the umpire, or to bystanders, by both players, their decision shall be final and binding upon both players. The term bystander shall comprise any impartial player of eminence who can be
appealed to, absent or present.* *
                                      See notes on the New Laws, p. lxxxvii.

The only point of importance on which any difference of opinion arose, was during the discussion on Law 13, "Queening a Pawn." Mr. Staunton maintained, that to allow a pawn at its eighth square to remain a pawn was a serious innovation, a gross absurdity, and a violation of the fundamental laws of the game. In reply, it was pointed out that a pawn remaining a pawn at its eighth was no novelty, Mr. Staunton himself giving in the " Praxis" a game from Ponziani, in which an example occurs ; that the law relative to the point had been altered several times ; that as to the reproach of innovation, the game itself was nothing but the result of a series of innovations on its original form ; and that Mr. Staunton had admitted in the " Praxis" that the tendency of modern legislation was to consider the queening a pawn as the highest feat which a player can accomplish, and to reward it with the greatest possible advantage. It was urged that to compel a player to choose a superior piece without the option of refusing promotion, would not in all cases confer the greatest possible advantage, there being positions in which a player compelled to take a superior piece would be subjected to a fatal penalty, the following being an instance adduced by Mr. Kling.

In this position, if White take Book with Pawn, and claim any superior piece, Black will take Bishop with Pawn and mate next move. If, however, he refuse promotion, as allowed by the new law, Black cannot do more than draw the game. On taking the votes, a large majority decided on raising the new privilege.*
The discussion on the various points did not terminate until a late hour; the remaining business was therefore hastily dispatched. THE REV. G. A. McDONNELL, in the absence of the Rev. John Owen, to whom the resolution had been entrusted, and who had been obliged to leave — moved that the Managing Committee continue their labours until the next General Meeting, he paid a tribute to the exertions of that body, and thanked the members for the efficient way in which the arrangements had been carried out.
   Mr. DEACON seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously.
   THE PRESIDENT then briefly alluded to one of the tasks before the Committee, that of taking steps towards the reorganization of the Association ; and then stated, that the public business of the Congress being then finally closed, nothing remained but for him to dissolve the meeting. A vote of thanks to his lordship was then proposed by Mr. Hampton, and carried by acclamation ; whereupon the meeting separated.

 [p. lxxxvii]

                                          NOTES ON THE NEW CODE OF LAWS.
In framing its new laws, the Association has taken as a basis the propositions of Mr. Staunton, as published in the "Praxis," I860, which contains three chapters on the subject. Chapter I. contains what are termed " Fundamental Laws and Legal Definitions ; Chapter II. contains " Regulations for Playing ;" and Chapter III. gives Rules for playing the game at odds, by correspondence, and by consultation. For the present, the Association has confined itself to Regulations for playing the ordinary game. An examination of these will show that the incompleteness which has been the characteristic of former codes no longer exists, while the anomalies which rendered them absurd have been abolished ; the result being a set of Rules in harmony with the spirit of the game.*
   Rule 1. "The Chess Board," agrees substantially with that on the same subject in the " Praxis." In order to see what has been done, we will take the new Laws seriatim, and compare them with the propositions.
   Rule 2. "The Chessmen," agrees with that of the "Praxis," bnt includes under this head its 18th Regulation, "Dropped Man."
   Rule 3. "Eight of Move and Choice of Colour," is substantially the same as in the "Praxis," except that the penalty of "forfeiting a move," which it allows, is not permitted by the New Code, as being in itself an infringement of the law of alternate moves.
   Rule 4. "Commencing out of Turn," and Rule б, "Playing Two Moves in Succession," are substantially the same as in the " Praxis."
   Rule 6. "Touch and Move." This rule includes the subjects treated in the "Praxis," under the heads of "Touch and Move," "Touching a Square with a Man," " Touching more than One Man," and "J'adoube." The "Praxis" lays it down that "a player who touches with his own hand one of his own men . . .must move it . . . unless . . . he say j'adoube," &c., no provision is made for accidental touching; the omission, however, is repaired in the new law. It also sets down the penalty for an infraction of this rule as, that the King shall be moved; and in the event of its having no legal move, that the offender shall move any man legally moveable the adversary chooses. The new Code rejects the latter portion of the penalty as being far too severe. The last clause of, "Touch and Move," in the "Praxis" is treated under 9 in the New Code. The rule 7 in "Praxis" on "Touching a square with a Man," commences with a partial definition of what constitutes " a move," (which should have appeared in Chapter I., devoted to what are termed" legal definitions,") wherein it is stated, that a man may be played to any
square it commands, which the player has not touched with it during his deliberation on the move, and then somewhat unnecessarily adds, "But it must always be played to a different square from that it occupied previously to the move." The New Code simply enacts that "If a player hold a man in his hand, undecided on which square to play it, his adversary may require him to replace it," which seems sufficient, but
if any more particular regulation on this point were necessary, it would appear more consistent with the spirit of chess law to compel a man to be played to a square which it has touched, instead of to one which it has not touched.
   Rule 7. "False Moves and Illegal Moves." The "Praxis" under its 8th rule, " False Moves," subjects the offender to a forfeiture of his move. This penalty, as before stated, is rejected by the New Code. The other penalties proposed are retained; one of them being that, in certain cases, "a player shall move any other man, legally moveable, his opponent may select." This is certainly very severe ; but then the offence at which it is aimed is, in chess, a most heinous one. As regards illegalities not involving a King being in check, the New Code enacts,
that in the event of any remaining undiscovered after four moves on each side have been made, the game shall be played out as it stands ; the "Praxis," however, proposed that " if an illegality be discovered at any later period [than immediately afterwards] the move on which it was committed . . . must be retracted, and the error corrected at the offending party's own option," the reason for which it is hard to understand. In enacting that after four moves have been made the game shall be played out as it stands, the New Code proceeds on the principle, that an illegality, unnoticed for that time, removes the game from the operation of chess law, and places it in the domain of equity ; whatever the combatants may be engaged in, it is no longer Chess. Rule 8. "Check" comprises what is treated of in the "Praxis," under 11, " Check," and 12, "A King remaining in check."
   Rule 9. " Enforcing Penalties." In the New Code care is taken to state that the enforcement of penalties is permissive, not obligatory ; an important point not mentioned in the "Praxis."
   Rule 10. " Castling." The " Praxis" contains no regulation on this point, although the subject is discussed in notes appended to the propositions. The object of this rule is to leave no doubt as to what is the intention of the player. In stating that when the odds of a Rook are given, the giver of the odds may move his King as though the Rook were on the board, the New Code only confirms what has been the practice of the chess world as far back as our records extend. A practice founded on the fact that notwithstanding the introduction of the modern system of "Castling," which was at first performed in two distinct moves, and then allowed, for convenience, to be completed in one—the King's ancient leap has never been formally abolished. The reader may consult with advantage "Praxis," p. 47, and for authorities in practice may turn to "Traite des Amateurs," Paris, 1775 ; Walker's " One Thousand Game*," p. 51, " Philidor and Atwood ;" p. 21, " Labourdonnais, and Rev. C. D Arblay ; p. 40, " M'Donnell."
   Rule 11. "Counting Fifty Moves," ie substantially the same as in the "Praxis," with the addition in the last clause of a regulation on a point which has long agitated the chess world. By enacting that if the player be not mated within the fifty moves, he may claim that the game shall proceed, the New Code provides for such cases as the following :—
A is left with King and Queen against B, who has King and Eook. В proposes to draw the game, which of course A refuses to do ; whereon В says, " then mate me in fifty moves." The game goes on until, say the forty-ninth move, when A by a blunder loses his Queen. Under the old law, whatever might be the position of the pieces at this conjuncture, the game must be drawn. A most absurd conclusion ! Why should a player (especially the one with the stronger force) be placed by a regulation in such a position that he cannot lose the game ? There was no compact between A and В ; in fact, the offer which В made was rejected ; and it was a monstrous thing to allow A, after losing his Queen to say, " I now accept your offer." In future, В will be able to reply, "No ; the game must proceed ;" and it will be competent for A, in his turn, to claim the operation of the fifty move counting. The "Praxis," though discussing this question ш its notes, offers no practical regulation.
   Rule 12. "Pawn taking in Passing," is merely an authoritative statement on a question which was raised some years ago, and which it was desirable to set at rest. It corresponds with " The Move and Forced Move of the "Praxis," Chapter I.
   Rule 13. "Queening a Pawn." This regulation, by which a player will in future be allowed to refuse promotion for a Pawn arrived at the eighth square, is framed in accordance with that principle of the modern game which, regarding the Queening a Pawn as the highest feat a player can accomplish, would reward it with the greatest possible advantage. The law on this point has undergone many changes. At first, the Queening of a Pawn was attended with little if any advantage to the player ; but as time rolled on, and the powers of the various pieces became subject to successive modifications, it was found expedient to grant ever increasing privileges on the achievement. From being made to lie dormant at the eighth square until a piece was taken which should then supply its place ; from being restricted to changing into a piece on whose square it finally arrived, or into a Knight or a Queen only ; from being compelled to make certain additional moves before becoming entitled to enjoy its new rank ; it had at length attained the utmost freedom of choice, except in one most important particular. It might become a Queen, a Rook, a Bishop, or a Knight, but could not refuse promotion ; and this defect the new law supplies. It may be useful to state that at the present time, the Italians, who do not admit what is termed " plurality of pieces," that is, more than one Queen, two Knights, «fee., on the board at one time, retain the Pawn at the eighth as a Pawn, until some piece is captured, for which it may be exchanged. Mr. Staunton, however, appears to be unaware of this law, as may be seen by turning to p. 41 of the "Praxis," where he speaks of it as a proposition merely. The object of the new rule is simply to give the utmost latitude of choice ; and it is still a question whether, instead of allowing the Pawn to remain at the eighth, it should not, on its arrival there, be removed from the board, and the player be permitted to refuse the substitution of any piece. The "Praxis" in its notes, gives a position by M. Petroff, who submits the point as a question for the Chess world. See p. 45. See also p. lxxii, of this volume.
   Rule 14. "Abandoning the Game," includes 16, " Upsetting the Board," and 18, "Abandoning the Game," in the "Praxis," and agrees with them.
   Rule 15. "The Umpire, or Bystanders," is substantially the same as 19 of the "Praxis." Under" 15, Duration,"the "Praxis" contains some remarks on the expediency of limiting the time taken over moves in matches of importance ; this and similar points, however, are matters for private agreement, and cannot form subjects for legislation.

* The New Code has been adopted by the following Clubs :—The London, St. George's, St. James's, Dublin, Dublin Athenœum, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Bath, Coventry, Abingdon, Worcester, Ipiwich, and Penzance.




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