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5th American Chess Congress Tournament

George Henry Mackenzie13.5/18(+11 -2 =5)[view games]
James Glover Grundy13.5/18(+11 -2 =5)[view games]
Charles Moehle13/18(+11 -3 =4)[view games]
Alexander G Sellman12.5/18(+10 -3 =5)[view games]
Max Judd11/18(+9 -5 =4)[view games]
Eugene Delmar9.5/18(+8 -7 =3)[view games]
John S Ryan5.5/18(+5 -12 =1)[view games]
Preston Ware5.5/18(+4 -11 =3)[view games]
James Adams Congdon3.5/18(+2 -13 =3)[view games]
Albert Cohnfeld2.5/18(+2 -15 =1)[view games]
* Chess Event Description
5th American Chess Congress (1880)

The 5th American Chess Congress was held at the Manhattan Chess Club in New York City, the United States from January 6th to the 31st, 1880. Ten American chess masters and players participated in the nine double rounds of the main event. The participants included two-time US Chess Congress winner George Henry Mackenzie, 4th American Chess Congress (1876) runner-up Max Judd, the previous Congress participants James Congdon and Preston Ware, as well as Albert Cohnfeld, Eugene Delmar, James Grundy, Charles Moehle, John Ryan and Alexander Sellman. Each of the players gained entrance to the masters tournament via a $20 entry fee. Games began at 1 pm each day with a break for dinner between 5 and 7 pm, whereby the games resumed until 11 pm. Games were adjourned if the players could not reach a conclusion by midnight. The time control for the tournament was 15 moves an hour, with unspent time being carried over to the next time control. Sundays were reserved for rest days.

Manhattan Chess Club, New York, 6-31 January 1880

=1st Mackenzie ** 0 10 1 11 11 11 1 11 13 =1st Grundy 1 ** 10 1 11 1 01 11 11 13 3rd Moehle 01 ** 0 1 10 11 11 11 11 13 4th Sellman 01 1 ** 10 1 11 0 11 11 12 5th Judd 0 0 0 01 ** 1 11 11 01 11 11 6th Delmar 00 00 01 0 0 ** 11 11 1 11 9 =7th Ryan 00 0 00 00 00 00 ** 11 01 11 5 =7th Ware 00 10 00 1 00 00 00 ** 1 1 5 9th Congdon 0 00 00 00 10 0 01 0 ** 00 3 10th Cohnfeld 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 0 11 ** 2

Playoff match:

1st Mackenzie 1 1 2 2nd Grundy 0 0 0

The final of the event saw a tie for first between Mackenzie and Grundy. The rules stipulated in the event of a tie that a playoff match would follow with the grand prize going to the first player to win two games. Mackenzie defeated Grundy handily and claimed the prize of $500 and a gold medal to commemorate his victory. Grundy received $300 for second place, while Moehle received $200 for third, Sellman $100 for fourth, and Judd $50 for fifth. It was Mackenzie's third and final US Congress victory and cemented his legacy as one of the strongest chess players living and playing in the United States in the 19th century.

The reputation of the Congress was shattered by an allegation of cheating. It was alleged that the Grundy and Preston Ware Jr. had fixed their game. Preston provided written testimony to the tournament committee that his final round opponent, Grundy, offered him $20 if he agreed to play for a draw so guaranteeing Grundy the second place prize money. Ware agreed, but complained that Grundy had instead beaten him and so tied for first.(1)

"A meeting of the Chess Association of the United States was held last evening at No. 60 East Fourteenth-street, to receive the report of the committee appointed to investigate charges of collusion against Messrs. Grundy and Ware, two of the contestants in the late chess tournament held in this City...Mr Grundy...denied the allegations made by Ware, and he said there was a conspiracy against him, in which one of the prominent members of the congress committee was implicated. The committee reported believed the charges to be true..." (2)

The account of the Congress by Charles A Gilberg provides many more details. His book was reprinted as The Fifth American Chess Congress New York 1880. Edition Olms, Zurich 1986. 555 pp. ISBN 3-283-00090-5.

(1) and

(2) "New York Times", 8th March 1880, p.3.

Original collection: Game Collection: New York 1880, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 92  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. A Cohnfeld vs Mackenzie 0-129 1880 5th American Chess CongressD00 Queen's Pawn Game
2. P Ware vs J A Congdon ½-½79 1880 5th American Chess CongressA00 Uncommon Opening
3. Sellman vs E Delmar 1-049 1880 5th American Chess CongressC77 Ruy Lopez
4. J Grundy vs M Judd ½-½95 1880 5th American Chess CongressC77 Ruy Lopez
5. C Moehle vs J S Ryan 1-056 1880 5th American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
6. J S Ryan vs C Moehle  0-150 1880 5th American Chess CongressA84 Dutch
7. Mackenzie vs A Cohnfeld  1-045 1880 5th American Chess CongressC41 Philidor Defense
8. M Judd vs J Grundy 0-140 1880 5th American Chess CongressC45 Scotch Game
9. E Delmar vs Sellman  ½-½66 1880 5th American Chess CongressC13 French
10. J A Congdon vs P Ware 0-160 1880 5th American Chess CongressB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
11. P Ware vs M Judd 0-171 1880 5th American Chess CongressA80 Dutch
12. Sellman vs J A Congdon 1-067 1880 5th American Chess CongressB01 Scandinavian
13. J S Ryan vs E Delmar  0-145 1880 5th American Chess CongressC42 Petrov Defense
14. J Grundy vs Mackenzie  1-046 1880 5th American Chess CongressC77 Ruy Lopez
15. C Moehle vs A Cohnfeld  1-052 1880 5th American Chess CongressC29 Vienna Gambit
16. Mackenzie vs J Grundy ½-½37 1880 5th American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
17. M Judd vs P Ware 1-057 1880 5th American Chess CongressB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
18. E Delmar vs J S Ryan  1-053 1880 5th American Chess CongressA02 Bird's Opening
19. J A Congdon vs Sellman  0-125 1880 5th American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
20. A Cohnfeld vs C Moehle  0-163 1880 5th American Chess CongressA80 Dutch
21. Sellman vs C Moehle  1-050 1880 5th American Chess CongressB40 Sicilian
22. Mackenzie vs P Ware  1-058 1880 5th American Chess CongressB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
23. M Judd vs A Cohnfeld  1-055 1880 5th American Chess CongressC44 King's Pawn Game
24. E Delmar vs J Grundy  0-170 1880 5th American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
25. J A Congdon vs J S Ryan  0-139 1880 5th American Chess CongressC77 Ruy Lopez
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 92  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: No mention of the Ware--Grundy controversy?! Hmmm...

Actually, there's not been any commentary whatsoever about this tournament. Let's kick off with this quote from Soltis' <Chess Lists> p61

~<The 5th American Chess, held in NY in 1880, was a weak tournament and produced both a poor tournament book and an atrocious series of games. It is forgotten except for an incident in the final round...>

Soltis, master of understatement.

Actually, this incident is a little infamous, but not isolated. In the interest of fair play, Soltis also comments on Anderssen--Szen from <London (1851)>, a story I was unfamiliar with, plus a few others.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: The Gilberg tb is available online:

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: PS- That link should probably find its way into the intro.
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