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Staunton - Saint Amant Match

Howard Staunton15.5/27(+13 -9 =5)[view games]
Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint Amant11.5/27(+9 -13 =5)[view games] Chess Event Description
Staunton - Saint Amant (1843)

Saint Amant played two matches against Staunton in 1843. (1) The first, in London, Saint Amant won 3½–2½ (+3 -2 =1), but he lost a return match in Paris just before Christmas 13–8 (+6 -11 =4). This second match is often considered an unofficial world championship which cemented Staunton as the leading player of his era. (2)

London, 28 April - 7 May 1843

1 2 3 4 5 6 Saint Amant 0 = 1 0 1 1 3.5 Staunton 1 = 0 1 0 0 2.5

Saint Amant moved first in the odd-numbered games. Missing information: Game 6 has no date.

Paris, 14 November - 18 December 1843

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 Staunton 1 1 = 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 0 = 1 0 = = 0 0 1 13 Saint Amant 0 0 = 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 = 0 1 = = 1 1 0 8

Saint Amant moved first in the odd-numbered games.

[(1) Wikipedia article: List of chess world championship matches, (2) Wikipedia article: Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant.

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 27  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Saint Amant vs Staunton 0-169 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB20 Sicilian
2. Staunton vs Saint Amant ½-½89 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantC24 Bishop's Opening
3. Saint Amant vs Staunton 1-035 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantC53 Giuoco Piano
4. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-030 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantC53 Giuoco Piano
5. Saint Amant vs Staunton 1-060 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB40 Sicilian
6. Staunton vs Saint Amant 0-158 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA84 Dutch
7. Saint Amant vs Staunton 0-133 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
8. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-032 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA43 Old Benoni
9. Saint Amant vs Staunton ½-½57 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
10. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-033 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA43 Old Benoni
11. Saint Amant vs Staunton 0-139 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
12. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-047 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA34 English, Symmetrical
13. Saint Amant vs Staunton 0-133 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
14. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-052 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB44 Sicilian
15. Saint Amant vs Staunton 1-035 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
16. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-061 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantB44 Sicilian
17. Saint Amant vs Staunton 1-050 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. Staunton vs Saint Amant 1-089 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA34 English, Symmetrical
19. Saint Amant vs Staunton 1-034 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. Staunton vs Saint Amant ½-½62 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA35 English, Symmetrical
21. Saint Amant vs Staunton 0-156 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Staunton vs Saint Amant 0-158 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantA34 English, Symmetrical
23. Saint Amant vs Staunton ½-½54 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. Staunton vs Saint Amant ½-½57 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
25. Saint Amant vs Staunton 1-079 1843 Staunton - Saint AmantD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 27  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: So much for "home field advantage" — Staunton loses to Saint-Amant in London but then convincingly defeats him in France.
Apr-20-13  Conrad93: This was the match that made Staunton an unofficial World Champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  optimal play: <<<The Great Chess Match.—>

We have received during the course of this memorable contest a number of letters demanding information on various points relative to the play. Some of our correspondents have asked most strange questions, and to such we think it unnecessary to reply ; to the rest, who appear to be actuated by more worthy motives than mere curiosity, the following remarks will probably prove sufficient:—

The play did not take place in the Cafe de la Regence, as many suppose, but at the Chess Club, adjoining the Cafe.

The preparations made for the match were simple.

All the chess-tables, which on ordinary occasions line the room, were removed, and a single card table was placed near the large centre window, bearing a board and men, brought by Mr. Staunton from England, and the use of which he had made one of the conditions of the match.

At each side of the players were seats for the seconds, and around were disposed long benches, covered with crimson, for the spectators.

With one or two exceptions, the members of the club were the only persons permitted to attend.

The temperature of the room never rose to an excessive degree, and all the stories that have appeared in the French and English papers relative to persons being taken out fainting, or of gendarmes being placed at the door to prevent a crush, are ridiculous exaggerations.

During the play not a word was spoken above a whisper, and every precaution was taken to prevent the combatants from being disturbed.

The time taken up in deliberating on the moves of a game was in general about the same on both sides — perhaps, of the two, the English player was a shade longer in studying a difficult or critical position.

Both players appeared much worn out at the termination of a lengthened sitting, and the day's rest which was given between the games seemed absolutely requisite to enable them to recruit their strength ; indeed, it may be remarked, that no brain could resist the influence of a series of protracted sittings, if continued for any length of time.

In the late contest, the effect of intense thinking began to show itself in the players after seven or eight hours' play. Their faces became gradually flushed, and marks of general uneasiness were then visible. If the duration of the play could be restricted in future matches to eight hours at furthest, we conceive that it would be an advantage. Some inconveniences would, no doubt, attend such a decision ; but they would be amply compensated for by the probable superiority of the play.

One point in the late match has excited great surprise, and several of the letters before us refer to it. How does it happen, they ask, that M. Saint Amant, who last year was the victor in his match with Mr. Staunton in England, should here allow his antagonist to ride at first over the lists as he pleased, winning seven frames almost without resistance?

How, also, when the English champion seemed to have the match completely to himself, was he all at once so vigorously arrested in mid-career, the French player getting up to six games, and he himself only winning one game in the last six?

Those terms in the play do at the first glance appear extraordinary, and yet they can be easily accounted for.

Mental training is as requisite for any intellectual contest as bodily preparation is for one of mere corporeal strength and activity. M. St. Amant erred in not subjecting himself to severe practice for at least some weeks previously to the match. His play is acknowledged both by himself and the gentlemen who are aware of his powers to be far below its general average. His mind had, in fact, grown rusty, and it was only after a certain quantity of practice that he again arrived at his usual foree of chess combination, and was able to respond to the fine play of his antagonist.

Dearly did he pay for his neglect. Day after day he sat down to be beaten, and the whole world, except himself, looked on the match as already decided, when at last he won a solitary game. From that time forth the aspect of the contest gradually changed, until at last he won his sixth game, "thereby", as he himself emphatically expressed it, 'sauvant l'honneur!'.

Were the contest to commence again at present, there can be no doubt that the scales of combat would be more equally balanced.

— Galignani's Messenger.>

- Inquirer (Perth, WA) issue Wednesday 24 April 1844>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: So this was the debut of the great Staunton pattern chess set.
Jan-21-15  zanzibar: First, is <CG> making a statement that this is the first "unofficial" WCC match?

Wikipedia would tell it this way:

<La Bourdonnais was considered to be the unofficial World Chess Champion (there was no official title at the time) from 1821—when he became able to beat his chess teacher Alexandre Deschapelles—until his death in 1840. The most famous match series, indeed considered as the world championship, was the series against Alexander McDonnell in 1834.>

I think the La Bourdonnais -- McDonnell match should be promoted to tournament level, for historical significance if nothing else.

* * * * *

Next, was the first game of the first match played in London?

Then why does <CG> version give Paris as the site?

Jan-21-15  zanzibar: The first and sixth games of the first match are given as Paris (in PGN).
Jan-25-15  zanzibar: Thanks to <chessical>, we have several contemporaneous reports of the 2nd match:

Biographer Bistro (#9231)

* * * * *

The post by <optimal_play> above makes mention of seats for the seconds:

<At each side of the players were seats for the seconds, and around were disposed long benches, covered with crimson, for the spectators.>

From the Webminster site's page on Staunton comes this information identifying the seconds:

< In 1843 he lost a match to France's leading player, Saint-Amant. Staunton won 2 games, drew one game, and lost 3 games. The match was held in London in April-May. In November, Staunton traveled to Paris and on November 14, 1843 he began another match with Saint-Amant. The match was held at the Cafe de la Regence and lasted until December 20, 1843. Staunton won the match with 11 wins, 4 draws, and 6 losses. Staunton's prize money was 100 pounds. Staunton was successful with the opening 1.c4 against Saint-Amant, and the opening became known as the English opening. <This was also the first match that used seconds. Staunton used Wilson, Evans, and Worrell as his seconds.> >

Now the question becomes, who were Saint Amant's seconds?

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <The seconds and umpires are Messrs Wilson and Worrell, on the part of Mr Staunton; and for the French player, M M Lecrivain and Lasias.>

source: Bell's Life in London, 1843.11.26

<Latterly Mr Staunton had to contend with the great disadvantages arising from a protracted absence in a foreign land, and the being left in Paris without his umpires, Mr Worrell and Mr Harry Wilson, both being compelled to return prematurely to London, by sudden and grave indisposition; and admirably as their places were filled by Mr Bryan and Mr Dizi, their loss as personal friends could not but be sensibly felt.>

Source: Bell's Life in London, 1843.12.24

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: Evans as a second? Looks like that bio posted at the site is by Bill Wall... I'm not sure what sources Wall used but I haven't found any mention of Evans as a second or umpire for Staunton.
Jan-25-15  zanzibar: <jn> Yes, I would think the definitive sources would be from each player's respective journals in the day.

<Chess Player's Chronicle, Vol 5>

I haven't had time to go through it all, but the <George Walker> article on p92 is a must-read.

I'll try to go through the volume more carefully later today. And I should also try to find the <Le Palemède> take on the match as well (luckily, I can read a little French).

I may of overstated the case when I claimed I found the seconds with only the one source - but as I've said, these are working notes, and a little enthusiasm provides the impetus for doing the follow-up research.

Thanks for those refs.

<crawfb5> also found some nice material on the match:

User: crawfb5

It's funny, after reading Walker's letter, that Staunton ended up going to Paris a second time for a rematch (which never occurred due to him catching pneumonia) - after being so vehement about Saint Amant having to come to London as a condition.

Jan-26-15  zanzibar: To continue with the identity of the seconds...

Another non-contemporaneous ref can be found here:

<Staunton also brought with him Worrall, Capt. Evans, and later Harry Wilson, to assist him.>

The text is right next to an illustration of the players from the match (where is the illustration from?).

Batgirl/Sarah gives a link via the "to assist him" to here:

It's in German, and I haven't had the time to follow it up.

Batgirl goes on to say this:

<In short, Saint Amant who was basically a coffeehouse player, was steam-rolled. Staunton took an early 9-2 lead in the match while Saint Amant lost all his confidence and had to be encouraged by his friends to even continue the match. But Saint Amant had finally worked his way through these openings he wasn't prepared for and was making a strong comeback, winning 4 of that final 6 decisive games for a finally tally of +11 -6 =4 in favor of Staunton. Saint Amant wanted a third match, but Staunton, who had developed heart trouble during the match, refused.>

I generally like Sarah's writings, but I do have some criticism of the above.

1) Was Saint Amant truly just a "coffeehouse player"?

(Look at all the trouble Giri got in using this term)

2) I wouldn't use the phrase "steam-rolled" to characterize the entire match. As she notes, Saint Amant did fight back rather well (for a coffeehouse player) during the 2nd half of the match.

3) Staunton is said to have not been able to play a 3rd match due to "heart trouble". My understanding is that it was due to pneumonia. If he developed heart trouble from the pneumonia, this should have been noted.

Still investigating more, of course.

(I did learn the good Capt served as Harrwitz's second in a proposed match vs Staunton:

<British Chess Review, Vol 2. 1854 p85 / Chess Intelligence>

Jan-26-15  zanzibar: PS- A nice summary of the Staunton--Harrwitz dickering can be found here:

<Eminent Victorian Chess Players: Ten Biographies

By Tim Harding (p 60)>

Jan-26-15  zanzibar: <RE: Captain Evans as Staunton's Second>

There is contemporaneous evidence of his potential involvement (or should I more accurately say, evidence of his potential non-involvement?):

<Letter from Staunton to Saint Amand

St. George's Club: Oct 9th, 1843>

Article 7: Captain Evan's absence rendering it impossible for me to ensure his presence at the match, I reserve to myself the privilege of naming my referee when you mention yours.>

<The Chess Player's Chronicle, Vol 6, p148>

So, Staunton at least contemplated using Evan's as his second for the Staunton--Saint Amand match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: From Bell's Life in London for 1842.03.06: <[...] Captain Evans, the "Evans Gambit man," who recently settled himself in Greece as commander of the Iberia steamer, running between Malta and the Isles..>

And from the Bristol Mercury for 1843.12.23:
<The Oriental Company's steam-ship, Iberia, Captain Evans, arrived in the docks this morning, from London, and will take out the Peninsular mails to-morrow [...]>

It would appear that Captain Evans was busy with his "day job" during the match and very unlikely that he could have been involved in the match at any point.

Jan-28-15  zanzibar: Nice bit of digging there.

I've seen <Bell's Life> referenced elsewhere (e.g. an account of Labourdonnais' sad death in London iirc).

Is it available/searchable online somewhere?

* * * *

I think the most definitive statement concerning who actually were seconds at the match some from Le Palamede, an excerpt of which is quoted by Edward Winters (CN #7028):

<7028. John Worrell

Lynne Leonhardt (Claremont, WA, Australia) is seeking information about her great-great-great-grandfather, John Worrell, who was a second to Staunton in the 1843 match against Saint-Amant in Paris.

We have noted fewer particulars in the Chess Player’s Chronicle than in Le Palamède. From page 481 of the 15 November 1843 issue of the latter:>

So, M. Worrell for Staunton, at least till M.H. Wilson became available.

For Saint Amant, it was MM. Sasais and Lecrivain.

Jan-30-15  zanzibar: A famous (as I learned), and fabulous tableau of the match, in color no less, can be seen here:

or even better (higher resolution and apparently public domain) here:

Might I suggest <CG> use it?

Jan-30-15  zanzibar: I assume this is a scene from Paris, but do we know for sure?

The Paris location is widely reported as Café de la Regence, but it was in a private room adjacent to the actual cafe itself, I think.

OK, a little more digging reveals more details than I could have hoped for, as the painting itself was on sale and was promoted:

From Boris Wilnitsky Fine Arts:

< 37025

Jean Henri Marlet "19th game of chess match "Staunton-Saint-Amant (16th December 1843), oil on canvas

15000 EUR
( for EUR price see date rate )
Please note: Shipping and insurance costs are not included in this promotion, ONLY ITEM PRICES! (please note additional 10% tax applies for transactions concluded within the European Union)

As our image nr.14 show, the author of this composition - well-known French artist of the 1st half of the 19th century Jean Henri Marlet - probably replicated it few other times. The variation offered in 2006 at Sotheby's London differs from "ours" by a single detail, namely by the absence of the chandelier hanging from the ceiling. There exists also a lithograph by Alexandre Leemlein (1812-1871; see our images nr.15-16), which at some point provoked a somewhat of a scandal (see below).

In the work presented here, we are witnessing the famous 2nd meeting between two world's best chess players that took place in the same year (1843) shortly after the 1st meeting. First, Englishman Howard Staunton (CLICK HERE) and Frenchman Pierre Charles Fourrier de Saint-Amant (CLICK HERE) played against each other in summer 1843 in London (Saint-Amant was the winner of this match of eight games) and in November-December 1843 in Parisian "Café de la Regence" (Staunton won with the score of 13-8; this 2nd match is sometimes considered to be an unofficial world championship). The depicted here scene represents the 19th game on the 16th of December 1843 (this game was won by Saint-Amant (see our image nr.17), who nevertheless was no longer in the condition to draw near Staunton, who by that time, was leading with the score of 12-6. Saint-Amant managed to win also the next 20th game, yet Staunton did outscored him in the 21st game, thus putting the end to this match) .

Jean Henri Marlet (1771 Autun/Saone-et-Loire - 1847) was a celebrated historical and genre painter, lithographer and engraver of the 1st half of the 19th century. He was the son of sculptor Jerome Marlet (1731-1810) and studied at first at the Ecole d. B.A. of Dijon, then under Baron Regnault in Paris. He exhibited regularly (until 1844) at the Salon de Paris. His paintings are on display in museums of Compiegne and Dijon. Jean Henri Marlet is considered to be one of the best artists of early French lithography.

And now, a few words about the abovementioned scandal that was provoked by publication of Alexandre Laemlein's lithograph (see our image nr.15).

It appears that Saint-Amant bought Marlet's painting (the question, which one of the two - "ours" or Sotheby's variation? - remains open) for 500 francs, and handed it over to the engraver, Laemlein. The latter did not engrave from the original, but in the first instance made a copy of the painting, in which he substituted several well-known characters in the chess world for some of the persons in the original. As a consequence of these alterations, Saint-Amant considered he was dealing with a fresh picture, and on publication he therefore only suffixed the name of the engraver. Thereupon Marlet brought an action against the chess journal Palamède for publishing his picture without his consent, and likewise for damages for the omission of his name. The first part of the action was dismissed, as it was held that the artist, in selling his picture, ceded all his rights to the purchaser. For the omission of his name he was awarded 200 francs damages, and Saint-Amant was ordered to have Marlet's name added to all future impressions of this lithograph.

Provenance: Vienna auction house "Dorotheum", 16th October 2013, Lot 1133 (see our image nr.18)


Condition: good

Creation Year: 1843/45

Measurements: UNFRAMED:71,1x91,4cm/28,0x36,0in FRAMED: 98,5x117,5cm/38,8x46,3in

Object Type: Framed oil painting

Style: 19th century paintings

Technique: oil on canvas


Creator: Jean Henri Marlet>

Apparently Winter's CN #4259 identifies most (all?) of the attendees.

I wonder if that includes the man at the far left, apparently asleep?!

Jan-30-15  zanzibar: Interestingly, they claim the scene is from R19, and give the date as 1843-12-16.

Winter's CN #4259

Show Staunton sitting on the left, playing White (note the captured Black pieces on his immediate right).

<CG> has R19 on the right day, but I believe with colors reversed.

Not sure what to make of that.

Jan-30-15  zanzibar: Oh, goodness gracious, Marlet's painting is on ebay:

I'd suggest going directly to the art dealer's webpage instead, if you're interested. You could save a couple of grand.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <<CG> has R19 on the right day, but I believe with colors reversed.

Not sure what to make of that.>

Game 19 was a Queen's Gambit Accepted of 79 moves and St. Amant had the first move; <CG> has it correct.

According to the 1844 book of the match by Carl Meier, Staunton used the Black pieces throughout the match. So he never played with the White pieces in any of the games of this match.

The painting on eBay seems incorrect showing Staunton using the White pieces; the lithograph shown at shows Staunton with the Black pieces (perhaps St. Amant had the engraver correct the flaw?).

Jan-31-15  zanzibar: <jnpope> Another example of my rushing, even if I did qualify my concern.

Still, I'm glad I did post it, since I would never have known this:

<According to the 1844 book of the match by Carl Meier, Staunton used the Black pieces throughout the match. So he never played with the White pieces in any of the games of this match.>

Do you believe this? I find it utterly fantastic!

Reading the contemporaneous reporting in <La Palamede> and <Chess Player's Chronicle> I do know there is a lot of discussion about Staunton's set being used.

The French maybe claiming this put Saint Amant at a disadvantage, the English pointing out Saint Amant's compliments for the design while in London. Etc.

But I don't remember reading that Staunton always had the Black colors, even if not the move.

Jan-31-15  zanzibar: <jnpope><The painting on eBay seems incorrect showing Staunton using the White pieces; the lithograph shown at shows Staunton with the Black pieces (perhaps St. Amant had the engraver correct the flaw?).>

I differ here, and maybe confirm my original post, which based on the original painting.

The close up of the players at the table show captured Black pieces on Staunton's side of the table, to his immediate right - strongly suggesting he is playing White.

I don't go by the pieces on the board, as they are more difficult to see, and it's clear that we are well into the game.

Here is the link to <CG R19>:

Saint Amant vs Staunton, 1843

which shows Saint Amant is playing White.

Saint Amant vs Staunton, 1843

I see now that the lithograph shows Staunton with Black, as you said. The captured pieces are now White (and maybe are rearranged, some of them being tipped over).

As we've learned the engraver, Laemlein (who actually is actually in the painting (#5 - see Winter)), took liberties to rework the painting when making his engraving. Perhaps he corrected the colors to match the actual game, while at the same time inserting non-attendees?!

Jan-31-15  zanzibar: By the way, unless I've missed something, <CG> makes it difficult to find a particular game (i.e. round) from a match.

For instance, item #19 in the above game list might be assumed to be the game from R19. It's not:

It's even worse, since the round number isn't displayed (let alone promeniently displayed) on the game page:

Saint Amant vs Staunton, 1843

Instead, you have to look at the PGN page:

It's only there that we learn game #19 is actually R13.

I find this simply wrong, as in wrong-footed. <CG> should work to improve this area.

1) Sort match games, and tournament games, by round numbers if available.

Only if the round numbers are missing should the games be sorted by date.

Sorting when neither date nor round number are available should probably be done alphabetically for a tournament, and by cid for a match.

2) When displaying the game, the Event/Site/Date/Round should be prominently displayed.


* * * * *

R19 is easily found in the gamelist above for this one case however, it being the only game with a photographic icon.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: It was common practice for players to keep using the same color pieces at least into the 1850s. I'd have to check to see when "White moves first", and players alternating colors, became standardized.
Jan-31-15  zanzibar: < It was common practice for players to keep using the same color pieces at least into the 1850s.>

Wow, I never heard of this before!

I certainly would have found it very confusing...

(How did they decide who got what color, in addition to who got first move/first game?)

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