THE LIFE AND CHESS OF PAUL MORPHY                                                                                                                        Letter from the New Orleans Chess Club to Howard Staunton


The New Orleans Chess Club's original challenge to Howard Staunton


NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 4, 1858.


— On behalf of the New Orleans Chess Club, and in compliance with the instructions of that body, we, the undersigned committee, have the honour to invite you to visit our city, and there meet Mr. Paul Morphy in a Chess match.
   In transmitting this invitation, permit us to observe that we are prompted no less by the desire to become personally acquainted with one whom we have so long admired, than by the very natural anxiety to ascertain the strength of our American players by the decisive criterion of actual conflict over the board.
   We can see no valid reason why an exercise so intellectual and ennobling as Chess should be excluded from the generous rivalry which exists between the Old and the New World in all branches of human knowledge and industry.
   That the spirit of emulation from which this rivalry arises has not hitherto been made to embrace our chivalrous game may be mainly ascribed to the fact that, although the general attention paid to Chess in the United States during the last fifteen years has produced a number of fine players, yet their relative force remained undetermined, and none could assert an indisputable right to pre-eminence.
   The late Chess Congress has, however, removed this obstacle, by finally settling the claims of the several aspirants to the championship; and it must now be a matter of general de .ire to fix, by actual contest with the best European amateurs, the rank which American players shall hold in the hierarchy of Chess.
   For this purpose it was suggested that Mr. Morphy, the winner at the late Congress and the present American champion, should cross the ocean and boldly encounter the distinguished magnates of the Transatlantic Chess circles; but it unfortunately happens that serious family reasons forbid Mr. Morphy, for the present, to entertain the thought of visiting Europe.
   It therefore becomes necessary to arrange, if possible, a meeting between the latter and the acknowledged European champion, in regard to whom there can be no scope for choice or hesitation—the common voice of the Chess world pronounces your name; and to us it is a subject of congratulation that the sceptre of Transatlantic Chess is wielded by one who, with respect, to regularity of communication between the two countries, and for other reasons, enjoys facilities for accepting our invitation possessed by no other European player.
  We take the liberty herewith to enclose a series of proposed ' terms of the match,' which have been drawn up, not for the purpose of imposing conditions, but with a view to obviate the necessity of repeated correspondence. We have been studious to make these terms as equitable as possible, and to include all matters upon which contestation was likely to arise.
   You are respectfully invited to suggest any alterations which you may deem advisable not only in the minor points embraced, but also as to the amount of the stakes, the time fixed for the commencement of the match, &c. &c.
   Fully subscribing to the wisdom of the proposal made by you in the introduction to the Book of the Tournament, we beg leave to express our entire willingness to insert a clause providing that ' one-half at least' (or even all) ' of the games shall be open ones.'
   In conclusion, Sir, receive the assurance that it will afford us extreme pleasure to welcome among us a gentleman who is as greatly admired for his prowess in play as he is esteemed for his many and valuable contributions to the literature of Chess.

Hoping soon to receive a favourable answer, we remain, with distinguished regard, your obedient servants,                       



To this was annexed a list of propositions containing the conditions of the match, as below:—

1. The amount of the stakes, on each side, to be five thousand dollars, and the winner of the first eleven games to be declared the victor, and entitled to the stakes.
2. The match to be played in the city of New Orleans.
3. Should the English player lose the match, the sum of one thousand dollars (£200) to be paid to him out of the stakes, in reimbursement of the expenses incurred by him in accepting this challenge.
4. The games to be conducted in accordance with the rules laid down in Mr. Staunton's Chess Flayer's Handbook.
5. The parties to play with Staunton chessmen of the usual club-size, and on a board of corresponding dimensions.
6. The match to be commenced on or about the 1st of May, 1858, (or on any other day during the present year most agreeable to Mr. Staunton), and to be continued at not less than four sittings each week.
7. In order that the stay of the English player in New Orleans be not unnecessarily prolonged, he shall have the right to fix the hours of play at from ten o'clock A.M., to two P.M., and from six to ten o'clock P.M.
8. The time occupied in deliberating on any move shall not exceed thirty minutes.
9. The right to publish the games is reserved exclusively to the contestants, subject only to such private arrangements as they may agree upon.
10. The stakes on the part of Mr. Staunton, to be deposited prior to the commencement of the match in the hands of ---------; and those on the part of Mr. Morphy, in the hands of Eugene Rousseau, Esq., cashier of the Citizens' Bank of Louisiana.