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Boston Chess Club
June 2005

This might be entitled: The 3313 % Solution

One third of our triumvirate (ckr) sent to one third of our triumvirate (me) the following information about the Boston Chess Club from Daniel Willard Fiske's Book of the 1st American Chess Congress.

In October of that year [1845], several gentleman interested in chess, to bring the amateurs of the city together. Having obtained about 20 names a preliminary meeting was held Monday October 27 at the United States Hotel.  Much interest was manifested in the project and Dr. Le Baron Russell 1., Max Isnard and George Hammond were appointed a committee to draft a Constitution for the Club.

They "rented and furnished a room"  for the club at 1 Montgomery Place (now Bosworth Street), a short, 1 block street in south side Boston, east of the Burial Grounds above the Boston Commons that ran from Tremont St. to Province St., sandwiched between and  parallel to School St. and Bromfield St.
Most of the structures there were private residences and boarding houses.

The new club proved fairly popular and in a short time reached forty members, notably:

Messrs. Adams, Isnard, Hammond, Bullard, Russell, J. W. Clark, George P. Hayward,
B Austin, S. Willard, C. Stodder, I. J. Austin, Dr. B. D. Greene, A.D. Parker, A. W. Fuller,
J. Schouler, S. Wells, E. Tyler, P. P. F. Degrand, B. Rolker, C. L. Bartlett, C. Thatcher,
Dr. H. Richardson 2, C. G. Kendall, Mr. Dexter, Dr. J. W. Stone, E. J. Weller and B. A. Smith

However, after it's initial popularity, it stagnated and the membership started to dwindle until in 1848, the club was disbanded. Some of the most active members continued to meet and play on a less official basis at the United States Hotel 3 until the advent of the 1st Chess Congress and the arrival of Paul Morphy on the American chess scene rekindled the interest in chess.

 A few of the members of the old club were in the habit of playing together at the United States Hotel, and the other amateurs of the game would sometimes be fortunate enough to meet a rival in private circles. There was not any effort made, however, to bring the Chess-players together again although the true chess spirit still lived, and new men were entering the arena.

With the opening of the year 1857, the first number of the Chess Monthly was issued. The publication of this serial brought about results more marvelous than those produced by the Whistle Shrill of Roderick Dhu. Amateurs of chess started up on all sides and pressed forward to enter the ranks of the Caïssa army. Early in the year the National Chess Congress was projected. The announcement of this meeting of the leading players to contend for the championship, was the bugle call that aroused the knights of Caïssa and bade them arm for the contest. Then came the bustle of preparation. There was a brushing up of openings and endings, an overhauling of the standard chess works and much practicing at divers positions. Boston was not idle, and some half dozen of her players were present at the congress, where the performances of Messrs. Hammond and Richardson, the latter fresh from contests with Harrwitz at the Café de la Régence, won for them a deservedly high position amongst the foremost players of the country, and established a reputation for Bostonian Chess.

Meanwhile lovers of Chess wondered why there were not any regular meetings for the practice of the game, and appeals to the players urging them to unite and organize a club, were made through the columns of the Evening Transcript in connection with notices of the new magazine and items of chess news. In September, by invitation of Mr. E. J. Weller, several gentlemen assembled for play at No. 8 Hayward place. These meetings continued through October, and on return of Messers. Hammond, Richardson and others from the Congress in New York, the circle was enlarged and in November numbered 12. The gentlemen who then met were Messrs. Hammond, Richardson, Rabuske 4, Broughton, S. Willard, Smalley, Chapman , Weller, Everett, Keyes and G. H. and C. P. Howard. *

* Of the above named gentleman Messrs. Everett, Rabuske, Weller and the two Howards, had been in the habit of playing together and with other amateurs, during the early part of the year, at the United States Hotel.

Horace Richardson proposed the meetings should be made public. A notice was published in the daily newspapers and on December 11, 1857 about 30 gentlemen were present.

Many members from the 1846 club came forward again and joined and the Boston Chess Club was once again an entity.

In 1858 the club roster was:

President:  Dr. Horace Richardson
Secretary: George W. Smalley
Treasurer: Edwin J. Weller
Executive Committee members:
                 George Hammond
                 William R Boughton
                 Dr. James W. Stone
                 Theodore Rabuske

The Boston Chess Club seemed to prosper and upon Morphy's triumphant return from Europe, the members  feted him at the Revere House Hotel . Among the 140 invited guests were: Dr. Horace Richardson (president of the Boston Chess club), Jared Sparks, President Walker of Harvard College, Prof. Pierce of Harvard, Speaker of the House Charles Hale, Rev. Dr. Huntington, Prof. Lowell, Chief Justice Shaw, Joel Parker, Prof. Agassiz, Prof. Longfellow, Rev. T. Starr King, Henry Wilson, Mayor Lincoln, Joshua Quincey, Jr., Edwin P. Wipple, James Fields, and B. F. Thomas. 18 speeches were given and James Russell Lowell wrote and delivered a 100 line poem for the occasion.
Oliver Wendell Holmes opened the ceremonies introducing Paul Morphy with:

"I propose the health of Paul Morphy, the world's Chess Champion"

After Morphy retired from chess and the Civil War dampened the American spirit, the Boston Chess Club seemed to have languished but still remained somewhat intact.

A December, 2002 article by Paul Hoffman for Harvard Magazine states that:

The Harvard Chess Club, founded in 1874, is one of the oldest chess clubs in the country. It was started by the generation of undergraduates inspired by the New Orleans prodigy Paul Morphy, the nation's first great player...[here was inserted some misinformation about Morphy]...
Harvard played its first correspondence game in February 1879, against the Boston Chess Club. The surviving score sheet is incomplete, so that it is not clear who won. Nine months later, Harvard played a second postal game, against a Mr. Everett of the Exeter Chess Club. The game lasted only 10 moves because "Mr. Everett here resigned on account of the death of his sister." Both games were notable because they featured a sequence of opening moves, called the King's Gambit, that is rarely played today except by a few romantics. The King's Gambit is a swashbuckling opening, favored by Paul Morphy, in which White tries to checkmate Black early in the game, without first sheltering his own king.

So in 1879 the Boston Chess Club still existed. Whether Mr. Everett of the Exeter Club is the same Mr. Everett from the Boston Chess Club (and who played in the consultation game against Morphy) is unclear.


1. LeBaron Russell, M.D. (1814–1889), nephew of the Apothecary General, received his medical degree from Harvard in 1842.  A passionate abolitionist and philanthropist, Russell supported the New England Emigrant Aid Company which helped to ensure that Kansas became a free state (in 1861).  During the Civil War, Russell served as Special Commissioner for the War Department, examining the living conditions of African American refugees at Fortress Monroe in Virginia.

2. A Horace Richardson graduated from Harvard Medical school in 1852


4.   A Theodore Rabuske illustrated the book, Utah and the Mormons: The History, Government, Doctrines, Customs, and Prospects of the Latter-Day Saints by Benjamin G. Ferris (Harper, New York) in 1854. He was listed as an artist at 96 Washington Street, Boston, Mass. 1858-1860. In the 1855 Schodack, NY census, a Theodore Rabuske was listed as a 40 year old, married, German born engineer. In the Archival Collections at the Missouri Historical Society, among the papers of John H. Droste, were "two notebooks containing German script (poetry) of Theodore Rabuske ( -1897), an artist who moved to St. Louis in 1867."


Hon. James Buchanan, democratic candidate for the presidency, 1856 /
lith. & pub. by Theodore Rabuske



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