|4th American Chess Congress (1876)|
At the occasion of the World's Fair held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the United States of America, a number of exhibitions and events were organized to take place during the fair in order to attract foreign interests and representatives to American soil. In addition to many wondrous inventions debuted at the fair, including such curiosities as the telegraph, the telephone, and the typewriter, the 4th American Chess Congress was held. It was the perfect opportunity, not only to attract foreign chess masters but also to celebrate the US centennial. |
Nine American chess players, some of whom had only taken up residence in the United States only recently, participated in the tournament through registering the $20 entrance fee. The complete list of participants included Lorenzo Barbour, Henry Edward Bird (originally from England), Harry Davidson, Jacob Elson, Max Judd, Dion Martinez (originally from Cuba), James Mason (originally from Ireland), Albert Roberts, and Preston Ware. Martinez played Davidson and Mason (in two double rounds), but went back to Cuba when an illness in his family became known to him. His four games were expunged from the final standings, but are included here for completeness.
The organization of games and format for timing and pairing were still unstandardized at this time, so players often ended up completing and playing additional games in their pairings on the same day. While the format below does not follow any clear separation of rounds, the dates for each game's completion is discriminating. Play had been scheduled to begin on August 15th, but was delayed to August 16th. All games were played through to August 31st, 1876, with Sundays reserved as rest days.
James Mason won the $300 grand prize, as well as the Governor Garland Silver Cup for placing first with ten points out of thirteen. The other prizes went to Judd, who received $200 for second place, Bird, who received $150 for third place, Elson, who received $100 for fourth place, Davidson, who received $50 for fifth place, and Roberts, who received $8 for sixth place. Each place to receive money aside from also a gold medal to commemorate their participation.
Philadelphia, 16-31 August 1876
Mason - Judd was left unplayed due to Judd's illness.
1st Mason 10.0/13 xx 1- 1˝ ˝1 10 1˝ 11 ˝1
2nd Judd 9.0/13 0- xx 10 1˝ 0˝ 11 11 11
3rd Bird 8.5/14 0˝ 01 xx 0˝ ˝1 11 ˝1 ˝1
4th Elson 8.0/14 ˝0 0˝ 1˝ xx 1˝ ˝˝ 10 11
5th Davidson 8.0/14 01 1˝ ˝0 0˝ xx ˝1 01 11
6th Roberts 5.5/14 0˝ 00 00 ˝˝ ˝0 xx 1˝ 11
7th Ware 4.0/14 00 00 ˝0 01 10 0˝ xx ˝˝
8th Barbour 2.0/14 ˝0 00 ˝0 00 00 00 ˝˝ xx
Martinez 1.0/ 4 00 -- -- -- ˝˝ -- -- -- (withdrawn)
The 3rd American Chess Congress (1874) and 5th American Chess Congress (1880) were the previous and next in the series. M Martinez & allies vs Mackenzie / Ware / Bird, 1876 was also played at this event.
Original collection: Game Collection: Philadelphia 1876, by User: suenteus po 147.
| page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 59
| page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 59
|Mar-18-13|| ||Tabanus: From "The Brooklyn Daily Eagle", September 7, 1876:
<The Philadelphia tournament has ended in favor of the American
chess champion, Mr. Mason, of New York, who won the first prize, a silver goblet and $300; Max Judd, the Swedish player of St. Louis, being second, and Mr. Bird of London, third on the list. The former winning a gold medal and $200, and the latter a gold medal and $150. The fourth prize has yet to be awarded, as Messrs. Elson and Davidson tied on the record. Mr. Martinez, the Spaniard, retired. Mr. Barbour was barbarously whipped, as the appended score shows:>
<The tourney, like the stingy old lady's coffee, was wery
good, what there was of it, but it was not a "grand international
tourney," or a meeting worthy the occasion.>
|Mar-18-13|| ||Tabanus: From St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Sept. 10, 1876:
<Mr. Mason's final score in Philadelphia was 10 won, 3 loss. Mr. Judd's was nine won, four lost. The last game between these gentlemen was left unplayed, owing to Mr. Judd's illness. Had it been played and won by Mr. Mason, Mr. Judd still took the second prize, while if won by the latter, the result would have been a tie. Mr. Bird (third) won eight and one-half, lost five and one-half.>
|Mar-18-13|| ||Tabanus: From The American Chess Journal vol. X no. 3, September 1876, p. 69:|
<Philadelphia, Sept. 2, '76.
The veteran Jacob Elson and young Harry Davidson, tied for the 4th and fifth prizes, $150 and two gold medals, which they divided and will hereafter play for position.>
<Max Judd, of St. Louis, though not in good form, being ill the greater portion of the time, sustained his reputation ...>
|Dec-07-13|| ||Phony Benoni: <"Nine American chess players, some of whom had only taken up residence in the United States only recently, participated in the tournament ... The complete list of participants included ... Henry Edward Bird (originally from England)...">|
Interesting. Did Bird have to be considered an American resident to be included in the tournament?
|Mar-08-16|| ||zanzibar: <Phony> No, the Americans actually tied to solicit participation by more foreigners by sending general invitations to various European periodicals.|
I doubt they send info to Russia, but certainly to England, both to the <Chess Player's Chronicle> and to the <Westminster Papers>.
I believe Mackenzie was explicitly asked to forward the invitation to the WCCP.
Bird was viewed as representing England, and was the only foreign player to enter the tournament. The lack of participation is certainly mostly due to the low purse offered.
Even the American paricipation was thinner than expected.
(Was Martinez viewed as Cuban? I think maybe - but I have to read more)
|Mar-09-16|| ||zanzibar: 365chess.com has a two game playoff between Davidson and Elson:|
Which looks to be still a tie, one game a piece.
Does anybody know any more about this?
(I imagine they pooled 4th+5th and split it equally)
|Mar-10-16|| ||zanzibar: As I said, the organizers tried, but failed, to turn this into a true International Tournament:|
<We have more than once directed attention to the difficulties attending the task of raising a sum of money that would induce the best European players to cross the Atlantic. To the majority of them Chess is meat and drink sometimes in the Lydian sense, and the notion of anything but big purses luring them on such a journey never entered our mind. The qualified support accorded to the Committee may in a great measure be ascribed to the stagnation of commerce which has affected all classes of the community, and particularly in the great cities from whence the largest sums were expected to be received, but as the Hartford Times remarks, if every person interested in the success of the Congress had contributed one dollar, the amount first anticipated might have been readily secured. As it is, there is a sufficient sum of money to ensure the success of a national tourney, in the progress and result of which European amateurs will feel little less interested than in that one of wider scope originally contemplated.
p70 (1st Aug 1876) Westminster Papers v9 (1877)
And a later issue of the same journal had this to say about the one European who did manage to attend (i.e. Bird):
We regret to observe that Mr. Bird’s visit to America, instead of drawing closer the bonds which should unite the Chess-players of the two nations, as might have been expected, has had, on the contrary, the effect of provoking something like controversy. Our American cousins began by describing Mr. Bird as “the man who has held his own against the greatest players,” which is limited praise, as we construe it, and have ended by transforming him into a champion merely qualified by an “ex.” The feat of enlarging an English amateur into a giant, for the sole purpose of slaying him in that capacity, is altogether unworthy of any one that claims to represent American Chess-players in the press. No one in this country grudges our American cousins any gratification the defeat of Mr. Bird can afford them; but with all respect for Mr. Bird's abilities, no English Chess-player is disposed to acquiesce in the representative character assigned to that gentleman's play by the Cites: Record of Philadelphia. Before leaving this subject, let us inform the gentleman who: penned a reply to Scotland, addressed to England, that neither Blackbume, Steinitz, nor Zukertort needed any public assistance to enable them to go to Philadelphia. They were prepared to go, and did not do so only because the amount of the prizes was insufficient to cover the expenses of the journey.
p102/127 (2nd Oct 1876) Westminster Papers v10 (1878)
|Mar-17-16|| ||zanzibar: Having examined the tournament book, I think it erroneous to report Elson as scoring above Davidson.|
If we do, then I really would like to see a more definitive ref than the tournament book... which reports:
<GAME No. 60.
This game was the first of two games played to decide
the tie between these players. Each won one, and the
second was not handed in, in time, by Mr. Elson, for
The tournament book is responsible for some of the confusion:
<Fourth Prize, Mr. Jacob Elson,* consisting of $100
and a handsome gold medal, appropriately inscribed.
Fifth Prize, Mr. H. Davidson,* consisting of $50 and
a handsome gold medal, appropriately inscribed. (p xii)>
But note the asterisk, oh so important in these early tournament books:
<* Mr. Elson and Davidson were tied for fourth and fifth prizes.
They played off, each winning one, and the book went to press
before it was decided.>
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