Sarah's Chess Journal

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         The History and The Culture of Chess

W.  J.  A.  Fuller
September  2005

U. S. Chess Masters, 1856

from left to right:

D.S. Roberts; C.H. Stanley; James Thompson; G. Hammond; T. Loyd; C.D. Mead; H.P. Montgomery; F. Perrin; N. Marache; and W.J.A. Fuller.

- D. S. Roberts is Daniel S. Roberts of the Mechanic's Institute Chess club in San Francisco. In 1856, he was president of the Brooklyn Chess Club but moved to California just prior to the 1857 Congress.
- T. Loyd is Thomas Loyd, brother of Sam and Issac Loyd, all chess problemists.


William James Appleton Fuller was born at Boston, April 8th, 1822.
After spending some time at Harvard College, he paid a brief visit to Europe. He commenced playing chess at sixteen; and enjoyed the instruction of Mr. Hammond, who, with Dr. Oliver, used to play with him at odds. A checkered life gave him but few opportunities to cultivate the game. Among his numerous adventures, we are told that "he has hunted whales in the Polar seas - swam for a wager, and most unexpectedly for life, at Niagara Falls and among the amphibious Fayaways of the tropics - taught school and edited newspapers in the Far West - lost his way and everything else but his life, in crossing the wilderness on his route to California - doubled every cape and horn on the globe - and last, not least, drunk champagne with M. Godard while high up in a balloon." Although he taught chess while on a whaling voyage to the officers of the ship, and encountered in Cuba the magnates of the ever-loyal isle, he did not resume regular practice of the game until he settled in New York in 1854. Then he entered the Club, and in the following year took charge of a Chess department in Frank Leslies Illustrated Newspaper, where he displayed high literary as well as powerful Chess abilities. He was chiefly instrumental in giving accelerated impulse to the outward march of the game, and his brilliant, humorous, and instructive column aroused an enthusiasm for our sport, which had never before been experienced by the public of this country. Mr. Fuller is now (1859) engaged in the successful practice of the law, in New York, and is an Honorary Member of the New York Club.

-Prof. George Allen, 1859

A similar biography, written by Max Lange, can be read here.

Fuller was a law partner with Leon Abbett and had offices located at 229 Broadway, New York and at 250 Washington Street & 16 Sussex Place, Jersey City.

 Fuller's wife was 5 years younger than he. I don't know her name. They had 3 daughters: Kate, born in 1851; Josie, born in 1853; and Daisy, born in 1855.

The only games of W. J. A. Fuller readily available are those he played against Meek which were listed in the Book of the 1st American Chess Congress.
Play through them below or download the pgn here.


When Morphy was writing his chess column for the New York Ledger, he refused to answer any correspondence associated with that journalistic endeavor. Bonner hired Fuller to answer Morphy's mail, consulting with Morphy only when dealing with important issues.

In 1886 Thomas Frére asked Fuller to contribute to the programme of the Steinitz-Zukertort match to which Fuller wrote his Chess Reminiscences of Morphy. The following is the encapsulation presented by Sergeant in Morphy Gleanings :

Morphy was then [in 1857] 21 years of age [actually he wasn't but 20]. His personal appearance did not indicate genius. He was small of stature, of light build, with a dark, black eye, pleasing manner, great urbanity and a perfect Frenchman in politeness. He was well educated, having graduated from college and the study of law, but his intellect was not of a very high order. Poeta nascitur, non fit. So it was with Morphy. He was a born chess-player. He was not made one by study and practice. Deschapelles was the only chess-player in history who was like Morphy in this respect.... Both he and Morphy played by intuition - rather than by analysis. Chess, like every other science, is progressive. Had either of these players crossed lances with Zukertort or Steinitz, the world would doubtless have seen better chess play than has been recorded.... Steinitz confirmed me in my opinion that Morphy played some of his best moves by intuition, as it was impossible that human brain could have thoroughly analyzed the result.

(Fuller takes, by way of illustration, the 30th move in Morphy's fourth game of the Harrwitz match "where the simple advance of a Pawn was followed up with such ingenuity and accuracy," and the Queen sacrifice in his famous game against Paulsen. ...) - Sergeant

Morphy flashed upon the chess worked like a meteor, and disappeared almost as suddenly as he came. His sad fate and untimely end were due to other causes than chess, as all his friends know. After his return from Europe, he was the lion of the day, and people vied with each other to do him honour, and to get him to play at fashionable parties. I played more games with his than any other man. The reason why he preferred to play with me at these parties was because I knew I should be beaten as a matter of course, and I was not afraid to play an open game, so that he might exhibit his great brilliancy.....

(Fuller then gives some account of Morphy's connection with the New York Ledger. Robert Bonner, he says, was then in the first flush of success with his paper, and paid the highest prices for the best work. He thought he saw as advantage, at least in the was of advertising, in having a chess column for the Ledger, edited by Morphy.) - Sergeant

Accordingly he engaged Morphy to edit his chess column for a year. The negotiation was made through me. Mr. Bonner paid him in advance, with his usual unparalleled liberality, and for one year the Ledger had a chess column. Morphy was incorrigibly lazy and Mr. Bonner would not continue his services at any price for another year. Moreover, his readers were not particularly interested in chess. ....There were some things connected with this chess column that were curious, and would greatly interest chess-players, but it would be contrary to the lex plumae to reveal them without Mr. Bonner's consent.