Sarah's Chess Journal
my journal, blog, web log, blog.....about
The History and The Culture of Chess
Mandarins of the Yellow Buttons
February 24, 2005
In what might have been unintentional imitation of the German Pleiades, in the latter part of the 19th century, a group of Boston chess players and theoreticians formed a loose chess association they called the Mandarins of the Yellow Buttons.
Supposedly, Mandarin points toward China where the Yellow Button was an insignia denoting rank in the Chinese civil service.
Some known members were G. P. Ware, H. N. Stone, F. K. Young, J. F. Barry, C. F.
These men were amateurs who had won their game on even terms against a
professional international champion. The members of this group met on Saturday
afternoons to play and discuss chess after which they would dine together in the
The most well-known is G.
Preston Ware, Jr.
Ware was well know in Morphy's time and, in fact lost 2 games to Morphy in N.Y., 1859. One was at queen's knight odds and the other was a consultation game. Ware became president of the American Chess Foundation and played in the US Championship tournament (the 5th American Chess Congress of 1880).
He was idiosyncric in his approach to chess. According to the tournament book of the 5th American Chess Congress, Ware opened every game, as white, with 1 P-QR4 and "and consistently answered 1 P-K4 with 1 P-QR4." His claim to fame was, indeed, the Ware Gambit: 1.a4 e5 2.a5 d5 3.e3 f5 4.a6
His claim to infamy, however, was also at the 5th American Chess Congress. Ware, by his own admittance, accepted a $20 bribe offered by James Glover Grundy (1855-1919) to draw a game. According to Ware, "As I was walking down the Bowery with Mr. Grundy, on Sunday 25 January, he remarked that he was poor and really needed the second prize." The prize was $1,000. But, much to Ware's shock, Grundy didn't follow the planned scenario and "'Grundy was making desperate efforts to win, and finally did so, perpetrating an infamous fraud on me." Rather than winning second place, as a draw would have accomplished, Grundy was now tied with George Henry Mackenzie for first place when Ware blew the whistle. I've read two opposing accounts on what happened next. One states that the tournament committee was unable to do anything about the allegations of cheating and Grundy played Mackenzie in the required 2 game play-off, losing both games. The other more reliable (and satisfying) account states that the committee decided to award Mackenzie first place but that Mackenzie, a most honorable and courageous man, knowing about the scheme, insisted that the play-off take place and went on to beat Ware decisively.
Ware vs. Grundy
Henry Nathan Stone
Stone was a Harvard graduate and a member of the New England
Labor Reform League.
Young vs. Henry Nathan Stone
Franklin Knowles Young
Franklin Knowles Young, a lawyer, developed a theory dubbed the Synthetic Method of Chess-play which espoused the belief that chess was the exact equivalent of war and developed a detailed and intricate system of adapting the movements of armies to the chess board. Referred to as "His Generalship", Chess Review commented that one would first need a degree from a military school before learning chess.
Young mates Harry Nelson Pillsbury in 16 moves Young beating Zukertort
John Finan Barry
Barry beating Pillsbury
Constant Ferdinand Burille
and Young vs. Ware and Snow
The Mandarins of the Yellow Buttons eventually became the Deschapelles Chess Club of Boston.
The Life and Chess of Paul Morphy
chess - general
chess - history
Mark Week's History on the Web
Chess Journalists of America
Chess History Newsgroup
Chess Tourn. & Match History
Super Tournaments of the Past
La grande storia degli scacchi
Bill Wall's Chess Pages
|[ comments ]|