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J Mason 
James Mason
Number of games in database: 490
Years covered: 1870 to 1904
Overall record: +174 -158 =157 (51.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      1 exhibition game, odds game, etc. is excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (38) 
    C77 C78 C67 C65 C62
 Giuoco Piano (36) 
    C50 C53 C54
 Queen's Pawn Game (26) 
    D00 A40 D04 D05 D02
 Sicilian (17) 
    B45 B40 B30 B32 B34
 French Defense (15) 
    C11 C01 C13 C00 C14
 Vienna Opening (15) 
    C25 C29 C28 C27
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (67) 
    C11 C01 C13 C00 C14
 French (45) 
    C11 C13 C00 C12 C10
 Petrov (35) 
    C42 C43
 Ruy Lopez (29) 
    C65 C67 C80 C78 C61
 Four Knights (13) 
    C48 C49 C47
 Vienna Opening (13) 
    C29 C26 C25
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   J Mason vs Winawer, 1882 1-0
   J Mason vs Chigorin, 1889 1-0
   J Mason vs Janowski, 1902 1-0
   J Mason vs NN, 1900 1-0
   Mackenzie vs J Mason, 1882 1/2-1/2
   J Noa vs J Mason, 1883 0-1
   Bird vs J Mason, 1876 0-1
   J Mason vs Bird, 1882 1-0
   Chigorin vs J Mason, 1889 0-1
   J W Baird vs J Mason, 1889 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Philadelphia (1876)
   Amsterdam (1889)
   Nuremberg (1883)
   Vienna (1882)
   London (1900)
   Berlin (1881)
   Hamburg (1885)
   London (1883)
   Breslau (1889)
   London (1899)
   Paris (1878)
   Monte Carlo (1903)
   Paris (1900)
   Hastings (1895)
   Monte Carlo (1902)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   akiba82's favorite games by akiba82
   New York 1889 by suenteus po 147
   London 1883 by suenteus po 147
   Vienna 1882 by suenteus po 147
   Philadelphia 1876 by suenteus po 147
   City Club Invitational (London, 1900) by Phony Benoni
   Amsterdam 1889 by Phony Benoni

   Pillsbury vs Burn, 1895
   Tarrasch vs Mieses, 1895
   Tinsley vs Schlechter, 1895
   Tinsley vs Tarrasch, 1895

Search Sacrifice Explorer for James Mason
Search Google for James Mason

(born Nov-19-1849, died Jan-15-1905, 55 years old) Ireland

[what is this?]
James Mason was born on November 19, 1849 in Kilkenny, Ireland. He was adopted as a child and his name changed; his original name is unknown. He immigrated to the United States in 1861 as a child, and then to England in 1878 as an adult.

While in the United States he won first prizes at the 4th American Chess Congress in Philadelphia (= Philadelphia (1876)) and then at the New York Clipper tournament. He also won a match against visiting English master Henry Edward Bird (+11 =4 -4). He edited a chess column for Wilkes' Spirit of the Times (1).

According to Chessmetrics, he was the strongest player in the world from August 1877 through June 1878 (2). In 1879 he drew a match (+5 =11 -5) with William Norwood Potter. His best result was at the Vienna (1882) tournament (+17 =12 -5) when he finished third behind the joint winners Wilhelm Steinitz and Simon Winawer. He died in Rochford, Essex, England in 1905.

Wikipedia article:
Reference: (1) Buffalo Globe, August 1st, 1876.
Reference: (2)

 page 1 of 20; games 1-25 of 490  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Merian vs J Mason 1-043 1870 Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
2. J Mason vs F E Brenzinger  0-160 1870 Brooklyn Chess Club TournamentC51 Evans Gambit
3. P Richardson vs J Mason  1-020 1873 New York, USAC52 Evans Gambit
4. G Reichhelm vs J Mason 1-057 1874 Philadelphia m1C65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
5. D M Martinez vs J Mason 1-046 1874 Philadelphia m2C84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
6. D M Martinez vs J Mason 1-038 1874 MatchC42 Petrov Defense
7. J Mason vs G Reichhelm ½-½56 1874 Philadelphia m1C42 Petrov Defense
8. J Mason vs D M Martinez 1-025 1874 Philadelphia m2C25 Vienna
9. J Mason vs D M Martinez 0-140 1875 Philadelphia mC48 Four Knights
10. Bird vs J Mason 0-198 1876 PhiladelphiaA02 Bird's Opening
11. J Mason vs D M Martinez 1-027 1876 PhiladelphiaC01 French, Exchange
12. J Mason vs H Davidson 0-142 1876 PhiladelphiaC33 King's Gambit Accepted
13. J Mason vs Bird 0-132 1876 New York mC33 King's Gambit Accepted
14. A Roberts vs J Mason  ½-½21 1876 PhiladelphiaC43 Petrov, Modern Attack
15. Bird vs J Mason 0-141 1876 New York mA02 Bird's Opening
16. D M Martinez vs J Mason 0-142 1876 PhiladelphiaA83 Dutch, Staunton Gambit
17. J Mason vs Bird 1-025 1876 New York mC33 King's Gambit Accepted
18. J Elson vs J Mason  ½-½33 1876 PhiladelphiaC11 French
19. Bird vs J Mason 1-050 1876 New York mC11 French
20. M Judd vs J Mason  0-148 1876 PhiladelphiaC00 French Defense
21. Bird vs J Mason 0-147 1876 New York mC43 Petrov, Modern Attack
22. P Ware vs J Mason 0-133 1876 PhiladelphiaC00 French Defense
23. H Davidson vs J Mason  0-161 1876 PhiladelphiaC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
24. J Mason vs A Roberts 1-028 1876 PhiladelphiaC77 Ruy Lopez
25. Bird vs J Mason 0-122 1876 New YorkA02 Bird's Opening
 page 1 of 20; games 1-25 of 490  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Mason wins | Mason loses  

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Karpova: Olimpiu G. Urcan reviews Joost van Winsen's 'James Mason in America: The Early Chess Career, 1867-1878' (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2010) in his latest Past Pieces called 'An Irishman's Riveting American Story'.

Link: (no pdf-link available yet)

<Van Winsen accompanies Mason's first moments with the game with details of New York's chess life in 1866-67, a low-intensity scene with the New York Chess Club as the city's only chess club and Otis Fields' Rooms as the most active chess resort. When in 1868 the Europa Chess Rooms opened its doors and the Brooklyn Chess Club was resurrected, New York's chess life soared. Mason's earliest chess play was registered in a number of handicap tournaments played at the Europa Chess Rooms between the end of 1868 and early 1870. It was there that he must have understood that once he was allowed to sit at a board across from an accomplished gentleman, he was at least his equal if not more; quite a significant psychological change for an immigrant teenager who used to earn his living by shining such gentlemen's boots or attempted, often quite desperately, to sell them a newspaper. In one of these handicap tournaments, Mason played well enough to come very close to challenging Mackenzie's status, then the nation's leading player. As van Winsen shows, this contest between an accomplished master and a youthful up-and-comer who was able to hold his own without receiving odds excited the chess public, as expressed in contemporary newspapers (pages 16-17). Despite Mason's eventual match loss against Mackenzie in September 1869, the nineteen-year old's newly found fame reached even the shores of England.>

Urcan considers the book to be very good.

Nov-19-11  brankat: Happy Birthday master Mason.
Mar-29-12  AVRO38: It should be pointed out that Mason had the strongest performance (both Neustadtl and Sonneborn-Berger) in the strongest tournament (Vienna 1882) of all time.
Mar-30-12  AVRO38: <Mackenzie did not participate in the 4th American Chess Congress in 1876 (won by James Mason, an Irishman who was not an American citizen)>

Mason moved to the U.S. when he was either 11 or 12 years old and lived there for the next 17 years. I find it hard to believe that he did not become a U.S. citizen in all that time. Ireland was not an independent country until the 20th century after Mason was already dead.

So the question is, was Mason a U.S. or British citizen in 1876 when he won the 4th American Chess Congress? If he was a U.S. citizen, then he should be included on the roster of U.S. Chess Champions.

Jun-11-12  Whitehat1963: Loved him in The Verdict and Lolita.
Nov-19-12  edbermac: <Whitehat1963: Loved him in The Verdict and Lolita.>

He was also in Age Of Consent (1969) as an artist painting a very young and very nekkid Helen Mirren.

Some guys have all the luck.

Nov-19-12  brankat: R.I.P. master Mason.

The Bio says <James Mason> was not his "real" name. Does anyone know what the real name was? Thank You.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Abdel Irada: Interesting. I had no idea that 1. d4, d5; 2. Bf4 was named after Mason.

As a high-schooler in 1982, in fact, I thought I'd invented the opening myself. Not having any opening books at the time, I took to trying to develop a safe way to open the game that was "mathematically correct" and avoided lines that my opponents knew.

My criteria in that process were harmonic development, central control, spatial aggressiveness and solidity. Without any particular, specific ambitions, I sought to get my pieces out fast with the general scheme (d4, Bf4, Nf3, e3, c3, Bd3, o-o) now known as the London System.

Then I *did* study openings, and found 1. e4 more to my liking — now that I knew enough to avoid the traps and tactics for which double king-pawn games are notorious.

But I've always nurtured a sentimental attachment to "my" old opening.

Nov-19-12  The17thPawn: Why is this fellow so often identified as a booze hound? I'm not arguing the point just wondering if there is actually historical record regarding his infermity? Any responses are appreciated.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: ďMy father adopted the name of Mason on landing in New Orleans when I was 11, his object being avoidance of the prejudice which obtained against the Irish. Donít split on me till Iím dead, and even then I would rather you didnít give the name, itís so infernally Milesian, and theyíd say that all the faults of the race went with it, particularly love of drink and laziness. I have them both myself!Ē - James Mason
Nov-19-12  The17thPawn: Thanks <Calli> for the insight.
Premium Chessgames Member
  talisman: happy birthday!
Nov-19-12  brankat: "Mason had the unique quality of competently simmering through six aching hours, and scintillating in the seventh. Others resembled him, but forgot to scintillate."

-- William Napier

"About Mason it has recently been written that in a sober state he doesn't have to lose a game to anyone. This may be true, but as this state is increasingly rare, it must be feared that his result here will be as mediocre as in his previous tournament."

-- Source Unknown (on the eve of the 1895 Hastings tournament)

Nov-24-12  Eric Farley: Mason's book "The Art of Chess" is an excellent book for novices, but it was written in 1895. The opening 1.d4 d5 2.Bf4 is actually called "Sarrat Attack." The book "Winning with the London System" discusses it. A contemporary player that uses the Sarrat Attack (or Mason Opening) is Antoaneta Stefanova.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissanist: <brankat>: no one knows for sure, but the link given by <Graham Clayton> indicates that his givn name was probably Patrick Dwyer.

I say original name because it was extremely common for immigrants to the USA to at least partially change their names, and for all practical purposes his name really was James Mason from the time his family got off the boat.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I'm not at all sure about the Patrick Dwyer conclusion. Such a name in America would not have needed to be changed! I think the jury its still out.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I have contacted the rector of St Peter's Church, Thundersley, Benfleet to see if Mason really is buried there.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The only thing we knew for certain about James Mason was that his name wasn't James Mason. - Bob Dylan
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: In 1888 James Mason was in court charged with breaking windows. His defence counsel said that "Chessplayers were generally men of intellect, but inordinate drink turned them into beasts." Mason was fined five shillings.

Source: BCM November 1993

Mar-13-14  RedShield: <Why is this fellow so often identified as a booze hound? I'm not arguing the point just wondering if there is actually historical record regarding his infermity? Any responses are appreciated.>

According to <The Even More Complete Chess Addict>:

<Mason [...] frequently lost games in a 'hilarious condition'. During a game in the London Tournament, 1899, he was discovered asleep in the fireplace.>

Jun-02-14  ljfyffe: Frank J. Marshall was awarded a copy of Mason's Art of Chess for his inter-club play as a youngster in Montreal.
Jan-13-15  zanzibar: < "Many's the good man before now drank out of the bottle." > - Joyce in <Ivy Day in the Committee Room>

Continuing the riff...

<Zak spent the entire war at the front, and there he joined the Party, which at the time was quite natural. Chess was always the main thing in his life. Before the war he studied with Romanovsky. At the house of the maestro a group of young Leningrad players gathered, including Zak. Under the guidance of Romanovsky they analysed games, developed openings, and played theme tournaments. Often he would talk about the leading players from the past. Zak tried to carry over the aroma of these lessons to the children in the Pioneers' Palace.

'Who, do you think, was the strongest player of all at the end of the last century?' he would ask, copying Romanovsky.

The children had absolutely no idea what to answer, and were totally at a loss : 'Steinitz? Chigorin?'

'That is what we too replied', said Vladimir Grigoryevich.

<After all the conceivable names had been given, Romanovsky, raising his index finger, would say: 'Mason, you should look at Mason's games. Mason played stronger than anyone...'>

Only on becoming more grown up, were the children to learn the conclusion of this sentence, which was not said to them for pedagogical reasons. It was : '... if he was sober, of course, and this did not happen often...'

It is noteworthy that Zak himself did not in fact become a master.>

<Russian Silhouette's> by <Genna Sosokonko> (2009)

As noted by <offramp> earlier.

Jan-13-15  diceman: <brankat:
The Bio says <James Mason> was not his "real" name. Does anyone know what the real name was? Thank You.>


Jan-14-15  zanzibar: Since when does <CG> use tinyurl's for wiki refs?

Also, this is one of the better bios I've found on him:

(Ref'ed by wiki article too)

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: <Zanzibar> I don't think CG did that, one of the editor may have done it, because of the () in the link, which does not translate very well.

Have to use &#forty; and &#forty-one; so the link would work.

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