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 Book of the 1st American Chess Congress -PROSPECTUS

January 2006




The circular issued on the seventeenth of last April, by the New York chess Club, for the purpose of ascertaining the feasibility and propriety of a general assemblage of the Chess Players resident in America, met with a hearty and zealous response from the Amateurs and Clubs of the United States. So favorable was the feeling everywhere manifested, that it seemed advisable to proceed with the undertaking, and to complete at once the preliminary arrangements. The size of the Republic, the broad extent of the territory covered by the different Chess Associations, stretching as they do from New England to California, and the business engagements of a large number of prominent friends of Chess, rendered it necessary to reconcile the many conflicting interests in the choice of the locality and season. At length, after considerable correspondence, both with individuals and Clubs, in reference to these points, the Committee of Management have the satisfaction of announcing that the first Chess Congress of America will assemble in the city of New York, on TUESDAY, THE SIXTH OF OCTOBER, 1857, and continue its sessions until the fifteenth of the same month, or until its business is finished. The Committee feel a real pleasure in stating that they not only have assurances of a full attendance from the Atlantic, Southern and Western states, but that several of our Chess brethren from the shores of the Pacific, have signified their intention to be present on the occasion. No efforts will be wanting on the part of the Committee of Management, to make the gathering every way worthy of the game and the country. The Congress will be conducted, as nearly as possible, in accordance with the following




The first feature of the Congress will be one or more




in which the interests of American Chess and the present condition of the Chess Code, will be fully discussed. A National Chess Association, composed of delegates from all the Clubs, and assembling once in two or three years, to watch over and further the development of the game in this country, is very generally thought desirable. All readers of Chess journals are aware, too, that among the matters occupying the attention of the public, in both the New and Old Worlds, none is more important or worthy of notice than a revision of the Chess Laws. Both of these subjects will therefore be taken into consideration by the Congress. In order that unnecessary time may not be consumed in debate, and to enable the members to arrive at a more ready understanding of the questions presented, the Committee have thought proper to appoint the following Special Committees, who will report on the subjects assigned them at an early session:




Professor George Allen, of Philadelphia.

Professor Henry Vethake, of Philadelphia.

Samuel Lewis, M. D., of Philadelphia.

Mr. Paul Morphy, of New Orleans.

Professor H. R. Agnel, of West Point.




Mr. A. R. Gallatin, of New York.

Mr. Henry R. Worthington, of Brooklyn.

Mr. George Hammond, of Boston.

Mr. James Morgan, of Chicago.

Mr. T. J. Grotjan, of San Francisco.


In addition to these reports, any papers on subjects connected with literary, theoretical, or practical Chess, that may be communicated by amateurs, either of this country of Europe, shall receive the utmost attention at the hands of the Committee, and shall be submitted by them to the Congress.





A Grand Tournament, composed of acknowledged, first-class players, receiving no odds from other players, or from each other, is intended to form the second feature. The contest will, it is hoped, secure many valuable additions to the literature of practical chess, and furnish a satisfactory criterion for determining the relative rank and actual strength of our foremost practitioners. The entrance fee to this tournament, which must be deposited with the Treasurer of the Committee on or before the fifth day of October, at 3 P.M.  Should the number of entrances amount to any even and easily divisible number, say thirty-two, they shall be paired off by lot, and commence their games simultaneously. The sixteen players winning three out of five games, are to be declared victors of the first section of the Tournament, and the sixteen losers excluded from all further share in the contest. The sixteen winners are then to be paired off by lot as before, the eight couples beginning their matches simultaneously. The eight winners of the first three games are to be declared victors in this second section of the Tournament, and the eight losers excluded from all further share in the contest. The eight winners are to be paired off by lot as before, the four couples beginning their matched simultaneously. The four winners of the first three games are to be declared victors in this third section of the Tournament, and entitled to the four prizes. To determine the order in which the prizes shall be distributed, the four prize-bearers will then be paired off against each other as before, each couple to play the best of five games. The two winners of this fourth section of the Tournament shall then play a match for the two highest prizes, and the player winning the first five games shall be entitled to the first prize - the second prize going to the loser. The two losers of the fourth section of the Tournament, shall also contend for the thirst and fourth prizes. The winner of the first three games shall receive the third prize - the fourth prize going to the loser.

Upon the assembling of the combatants in this Tournament, should the entrances amount to a number less adapted for ultimate division than thirty-two, the Committee of Management, in conjunction with the players themselves, shall arrange the method of play.




     After deducting from all the moneys received the sum necessary to defray expenses, and to publish the Book of the Congress, as well as the amount of prizes offered in the Minor Tournament, and in the Problem Tournay, the remainder of the fund will be divided into prizes to be given to the victors in the Grand Tournament in the following manner:


The First Prize shall consist of three-fifths of this fund.

The Second Prize shall consist of one-fifths of this fund.

The Third Prize shall consist of two-fifteenths of this fund.

The Fourth Prize shall consist of one-fifteenth of this fund.





In order to satisfy the large class of Chess players scattered throughout the country, who have not yet attained the highest rank, a Minor Tournament has been arranged. This will comprise of such players who may choose to enter the lists, who are in the habit of receiving odds of at least a Pawn and Move from those participating in the Grand Tournament. The entrance fee to this contest, which is to be paid to the Treasurer of the Committee of Management, on or before the fifth of October, will be Five dollars. The method of play will be the same as the Grand Tournament. The Committee offer the following:




The First prize will be Seventy-five dollars.

The Second prize will be Fifty dollars.

The Third prize will be Twenty-five dollars.

The Fourth prize will be an inlaid Chess Board.




Should time and other circumstances permit, the Committee will arrange, after the conclusion of the two Tournaments, a series of Special Matches and Consultation Games, between prominent players. Suitable prizes will be offered for competition in these contests.







So much has the taste for problems increased of late years, and so large has the number of eminent composers now become, the Committee has bee induced to offer prizes for the best specimens of chess strategy. They will five the best set of three problems the sum of Thirty dollars, and five copies of the Book of the Congress; and for the second best similar set the sum of Fifteen dollars, and three copies of the Book of the Congress. None of the problems are to be either suicidal or conditional. The following gentlemen have consented to act as a




Mr. Eugene B. Cook, of Hoboken.

Mr. W. G. Thomas, of Philadelphia.

Mr. W. J. A. Fuller, of New York.

Mr. J. Furguson, of Lockport.

Mr. S. R. Calthrop, of Bridgeport.






     The Committee of Management will publish, under proper editorial supervision, a Book of the Congress, to comprise: - 1. A historical sketch of Chess in America.

2. A complete account of the Congress from its inception to its end.  3. Such reports made, papers read, or addresses delivered at the Congress as may seem of interest.

4. All of the games played, or such a selection from them as may appear desirable, illustrated by full and careful notes.  5. All the problems receiving prizes. 6. A list of subscribers to the General Fund.        







     Every subscriber to the General Fund, to the amount of five dollars and upwards, is entitled to a copy of the Book of the Congress. A project so likely to benefit materially the cause of Chess in America, cannot but commend itself to the sympathies of every amateur. The Committee, therefore, confidently hope that lovers of Chess throughout the United States will be both liberal and prompt in their subscriptions. To carry the undertaking to a successful and satisfactory issue, a large fund will be required, and the Committee wish to ascertain as early as possible the exact amount of money likely to be placed at their disposal. Subscriptions can be remitted direct to James Thompson, Esq, Treasurer of the Committee of Management, 359 Broadway, New York.

     All other communications than those containing remmittances, as to be addressed to Daniel W. Fiske, Secretary of the Committee of Management, Chess Club, 19 East Twelfth Street, New York.

                                                                  Charles D. Mead,

                                                                         President of the Committee.


     Daniel W. Fiske,

         Secretary of the Committee,

New York Chess Club, July 20th, 1857






   1.  The Sessions are to be held, and the Tournament played, at the New York Chess Club.

   2.  No others but subscribers to the General Fund will be admitted into the Rooms, or allowed to participate in the debates or play.

   3.  The names of all competitors in the two Tournaments, must be sent in to the Committee of Management, on or before the first of October.

   4.  The combatants in the Grand Tournament are to meet at the New York Chess Club on Monday, the fifth of October, at three P.M. when they will be paired off by lot, The playing will commence the following day.

   5.  The combatants in the Minor Tournament are to meet at the New York Chess Club on Monday, the twelfth of October, at three P.M. when they will be paired off by lot, The playing will commence the following day.

   6.  The games are to be played in accordance with the Code of Chess Rules, published in Staunton's Chess Player's Hand Book, and all disputed point referred to a Special Committee appointed by the Committee of Management, whose decision must be considered final. Drawn games are not to be counted.

   7.  The hours of play will be from 9 A.M. until 12 P.M.

   8.  Any player failing to attend within a half hour of the time appointed to play, must forfeit three dollars to the Fund, for each and every non-attendance; and after three forfeitures, he will not be permitted to enter the lists again.

   9.  For non-attendance on one occasion only, a medical certificate will be allowed to excuse the absentee from penalty.

 10.  One game at least is to be played at a sitting.  After four hours, however, at the request of either party, a game may be adjourned for one hour. All play will cease at 12 o'clock P.M. or as near that time as both parties in a game shall have played an equal number of moves.

  11.  In cases of unreasonable delay, the Committee of Management reserve to themselves the right to limit the time to be consumed on any move, to thirty minutes.

  12.  As the Committee of Management guarantee to every subscriber of five dollars and upwards, a correct and detailed account of the Congress, all games played, and all the problems competing for prizes, are to be regarded as their property, and no one will be allowed to publish any of such games or problems, without their express sanction.

  13.  Every player entering the lists in the Tournament, must consider himself ipse facto bond by all regulations issued by the Committee of Management.


            Copies of this Prospectus, with the accompanying Rules and Regulations, were sent to the prominent journals of the large cities.  Some of them copied the pamphlet in extenso; still more noticed the undertaking with handsome words of encouragement. The press, generally, throughout the Union, gave all needful publicity to the scheme, and no little degree of interest was manifested in these efforts to extend the practice of our quiet game of calculation even by the non-chess-playing portion of the community. The great commercial panic which commenced its ravages some weeks before the day fixed for the opening of the Congress undoubtedly influenced unfavorably the amount of subscriptions to the general fund.  But still the sum raised was much beyond the anticipations of the Committee.

     About two weeks before the commencement of the congress the Committee issued a final circular, containing a list of such prominent players as had promised to attend and a programme of arrangements. It stated that the Committee were fully convinced of the success of the undertaking, and gave many items of information interesting to members outside of New York City. Its importance, however, was not great enough to warrant us printing it here. It was widely circulated, and doubtless convinced many, who were still incredulous, that the coming festival was likely to be one of the great events in American chess history.





            Charles D. Mead,                        of the New York Chess Club.

Charles H. Stanley,                          "                  "   

Theodore Lichtenhein,                        "                  "   

James Thompson,                              "                  "   

William W. Montgomery,                       "                  "   

Frederic Perrin,                             "                  "   

Daniel W. Fiske,                             "                  "   

Daniel S. Roberts,                     of the Brooklyn Chess Club   

Thomas Frère,                                "                  "      




Samuel Smith,                          of Philadelphia

W. G. Thomas,                             "        "   

H. P. Montgomery,                         "        "   

Samuel Lewis, M. D.,                      "        "    

Professor George Allen,                of Chicago        

A. G. Burley,                            "        "      

J. Spenser Turner,                       "        "      

Hiram Kennicott,                       of New Orleans     

Paul Morphy,                             "    "         "

Charles Maurian,                         "    "         "

Francis Michinard,                       "    "         "

William P. Pratt,                      of Cincinnati      

M. P. McQuillen,                          "        "      

Le Roy Smith,                             "        "      

Selim Franklin,                        of San Francisco    

T. J. Grotjan,                           "    "         "   

William R. Wheaton,                      "    "         "   

J. P. Haskins,                         of Syracuse           

Geo. N. Cheney,                          "        "          

F. Lester,                               "        "           

W. T. Johnson                          of Augusta, Me.        

Edwin J. Weller,                       of Boston, Mass.       

S. R. Cathrop,                         of Bridgeport, Conn.   

Thomas Loyd,                           of Keyport, N. J.      

Ambrose A, White,                      of Baltimore Md.       

Mason Brown,                           of Frankfort, Ky.       

David Parry,                           of Belmont, Buckingham co., Va.

A. B. Meek,                            of Mobile, Ala.        

Tomas Hamilton,                        of St. Louis, Mo.       

Louis Paulsen,                         of Dubuque, Iowa.       

Daniel Rohrer,                         of St. Paul, Min.       

T. B. Baillie                          of Sacramento, Cal.      



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