Sarah's Chess Journal

         my journal, blog, web log, blog.....about

         The History and The Culture of Chess


June 11, 2005

From the Book of the First American Chess Congress by Daniel Willard Fiske


To the President of the National Chess Congress

    The Object of the Mechanical Chess Recorder is to enable players to recover or record a game within some short interval of time after it was played, and while the course of the game is still partially retained in the memory.  It consists of the following arrangement.  The men are made hollow, so as to contain a number of small balls of ivory or other material.  These balls are colored and marked, so as to designate the particular piece to which they are appropriated;  but the two sets of pieces have similarly marked balls. Thus there are sixteen sets of balls appropriated to the eight men and eight pawns of each color.  To designate the sets of balls, and show to what Piece each belongs, those of the King, King's Pawn, and the Pieces and Pawns on the King's side, may be of one color, those of the Queen, and the Pieces and Pawns on the Queen's side of another.  The balls appropriated to the Pawn's may be of a different material from those of the Pieces, but all of the same size.  The balls for each particular Piece or Pawn are to be further designated by a particular mark.  Thus the King, King's Pawn, Queen and Queen's Pawn, may have a single dot; the color and material of the ball further designating to which of the four it belongs. The Bishops and their Pawns, two dots, Knights and their Pawns, three dots, Rooks and their pawns four dots.  The simple inspection of the ball will determine the Piece it represents.  The balls are retained in the Pieces by a simple escapement, operated by a spring, by which they may be dropped one at a time, when the pieces are taken up and set down
upon the board in playing.  The board has a perforation in the center of each square, somewhat larger than the balls, and a slight inclined plane below it, upon which when the balls fall, they will run to one side, and be conducted to a properly prepared groove, in which they are dropped.  The method of operation will then be as follows;
-- A Piece when taken up and set down upon a square to which it is moved in the game, will, when pressed down (a small studment) cause a single ball to drop through the perforation in the square, and pass to its place in the groove.  When the Piece is again taken up, a spring attached to the escapement, caused another ball to pass to a position on the lower pallet of the escapement, ready to be dropped when again pressed down upon a square.  The record thus obtained of  the game, by simple inspection of the balls in the groove, will then consist of  a designation of the Pieces, and of the order of which they were played, the alternate ball designating the color of the Pieces.  Thus if white moved first, all the odd numbered balls would designate a white Piece, and the even numbered balls a Black.  This, it is obvious, does not give all that is desirable; but enough, it is presumed, to enable players to recover and record game, some time after it is played.  The simplicity of the plan, and its little liability to get out of order, if anything, must be its recommendation; while all plans for mechanical recording that aim to designate not only the pieces and the order in which played, but also the square to which they are played, must necessarily be so complicated as to render them objectionable, and any application of electricity or magnetism for the purpose, would be too expensive and troublesome to keep order.                           


[Another communication was received from the same author, in which he described a still more ingenious and elaborate invention for the purpose of recording games, and which worked, like the telegraph, by means of electro-magnetism.  For the want of the necessary wood-cuts the letter is here omitted.]


Thanks to ckr, also the compiler of the MyMorphy.pgn, for handing me this.


Sarah's Serendipitous Chess Page
The Life and Chess of Paul Morphy
Sarah's Chess History Forum

Chess - in  general

Chesslinks Worldwide
Rythmomachy Chess Links

Chess History

Mark Week's History on the Web
Chess Journalists of America
Chess History Newsgroup
Hebrew Chess
Chess Tourn. & Match History
Super Tournaments of the Past
La grande storia degli scacchi
Bobby Fischer
Bill Wall's Chess Pages
Edward Winter's Chess Notes
Schaaklinks - biographical links
Cambridge Springs



My Chess Biographies

Carlos Repetto Torre
Gioacchino Greco
Henry Thomas Buckle
La Bourdonnais
Francois Andre Philidor
Philidor's Opponents
Rashid  Nezhmetdinov
Rudolf Charousek
William E. Napier
G. H. Mackenzie
Lisa Lane
Karl Schlechter
Prince André Dadian
Henry Thomas Buckle
Joseph Blackburne
Isodore Gunsberg
James Mason
William Lewis
George Walker
Augustus Mongredien
Adolf Anderssen
Saint Amant
Daniel Harrwitz
Samuel Boden
Johann  Löwenthal
Howard Staunton
The Duke of Brunswick
Charles Henry Stanley
Louis Paulsen
Jacob Henry Sarratt
Alexander McDonnell
Joszef Szen
Vincent Grimm
John Cochrane
George Atwood
del Rio, Lolli, Ponziani
Arpad Elo
Sultan Khan

My Historical Explorations

    Seeds to the Renaissance
    The Catalysts
    Chess Literature
    Chess Players

    Sofonisba Anguissola
    Schaccia, Ludus by Vida
    The Black Death
    Da Vinci
by William Jones
    Aristotle's Children

Chess Automatons
The Origins of Chess
Chess History is a Pain!
Girl Chess I
The Forgotten Philidor



Franklin's Morales of Chess Pandolfini's Comandments
Six Chess Vignettes
Fischer's 10 Greatest
My Life as a Chess Criminal Celebrities Playing Chess
Mis/Dis Information
Morphy's Brilliant Moves
What is Chess
Schachdorf Ströbeck

Take my Survey                                                      [ comments ]