THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                                                                                                                         WILLIAM LEWIS


William Lewis was never one of Morphy's opponents, but he befriended Edge and was the stakes-holder during the Morphy-Lowenthal match.

William Lewis was born in Birmingham, England in 1787. He first learn to play chess at Tom's Coffee House where the London Chess Club met and at the Salopian Coffee House where Jacob Surratt, the house professional, instructed him in the finer points.[/color]

Thomas Twining, whose Twinning Tea Company is still around, bought the conveniently named Tom's Coffee House, located in Devereux Court just off the Strand in the parish of St Clement Danes, in 1706 when he was 31. It had been in established about 50 years prior to his purchase.
According to the Twinning Co, history, "Men – but never women – of all classes would gather there to drink, to gossip, and to do business. Coffee shops gathered a loyal clientele by specializing in particular products or by encouraging customers with common interests. Poets, for instance, would go to one establishment; army officers, to another.
The coffee house is where tipping began. Customers who wanted to be sure of speedy service would drop a small gratuity into a wall-mounted box inscribed with the letters ‘TIP’ (‘to insure promptness’).

To quote Dicken's again:

"Upon the death of Philidor, the Chess Clubs at the West-end seem to have declined; and in 1807, the stronghold and rallying point for the lovers of the game was the [b]London Chess Club[/b], which was established in the City, and for many years held its meetings at Tom's Coffee-house, in Cornhill. To this Club we are indebted for many of the finest chess-players of the age; and after the lapse of nearly a century, the Club still flourished, and numbered among its members some of the leading proficients."


In 1819 (the year Sarratt died) Lewis took a job as the operator of the Turk, the chess automaton, during it's English tour. He was supplanted by Peter Williams (not Elijah Williams, as so often seen).  In 1821 Lewis and John Cochrane met with Deschapelles in their triangular match. Lewis, receiving odds of Pawn and the move, beat Deschapelles +1 =2.
They met again in 1823. Some places indicate there were two matches, one ending +1 -1 and the other +1 -4 in Bourdonnais' favor. Others seem to think it was a single match with Bourdonnais winning +5-2. Either way, Lewis was definitely weaker than Bourdonnais. Hooper and Whyld claim it was in 1825, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
In 1825, however, Lewis open a subscription chess room at St. Martin's Lane and took on Alexander McDonnell, an Irish player, as a pupil.
Lewis headed the London Chess Club team in their correspondence match with the Edinburgh Chess Club - a match that lasted from 1824 to 1828. The London Club was favored to win by a large margin. However, Edinburgh, headed by a relatively unknown named James Donaldson won by a score of +2 -1 =2.
In 1827, Lewis' chess room folded when he went bankrupt through an ill-advised investment in the piano business. Then, after the embarrassing loss to Edinburgh in the most publicized match to date, he gradually withdrew from chess competition.

Following the tradition of his mentor, Sarratt, William Lewis, who took on the less pretentious title Teacher of Chess (Sarratt had the self-appointed sobriquet, the Professor of Chess), translated some earlier works such a Greco in 1819 and Carrera in 1822. He also wrote several books:

His first was Oriental Chess (in two volumes) in 1817 and then a revised edition of Sarratt's Treatise on Chess in 1822. (Mrs. Sarratt, impoverished by her husband's sickness and death, had published her own supposedly superior revision. Lewis's book directly competed for sales. It's also worth noting that when a fund was being establish on her behalf in 1843, Lewis' name wasn't on the list of subscribers.)

In 1831, he published Series of Progressive Lessons followed by its sequel, Second Series of Progressive Lessons the following year. These books offered something about openings and a bit of analysis as well as a study of the Lewis counter-gambit. In 1838 he published The Chessboard Companion and in 1844, his Treatise on the Game of Chess.

here's a sample from Treatise on the Game of Chess:

"The King's Gambit is perhaps the most instructive, as it is certainly the most entertaining, of all the Openings. It abounds in difficult and interesting positions, and has more variety than any other method of beginning the game. Nearly all the best writers on the game of Chess agree that the King's Gambit is a hazardous game for the first player, because he sacrifices a pawn without gaining a corresponding advantage of position; this is true, but it must not be forgotten that the second player has one of his pawns doubled and that a pawn move, so circumstanced, does not necessarily win the game."

William Lewis stayed active to some degree in chess throughout his life. This is evident since in 1858, he was the stakes-holder in the Morphy-Lowenthal match. He lived until 1870.

Some games by William Lewis