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🏆 Staunton - Morphy Match (1858)

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Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: This should be a real nailbiter.
Any news from the Lasker-Rubinstein match?
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  keypusher: No need to lend support to someone so adept at supporting herself, but the reason that this non-match deserves a page and Lasker-Rubinstein and Alekhine-Botvinnik don't is that the reasons the latter two matches didn't take place are so clear and simple -- Russian imperial aggression in the one case, and Soviet secret police in the other.

I suppose the non-occurrence of this match is not such a mystery either, and yet this page gives scope for the superciliousness, bad-faith argument, and high-grade trolling for which Howard Staunton is so famous. All that's missing are <some devilish bad games>.

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  perfidious: Lasker-Rubinstein now scheduled for February 1915, with all games to be played in St Petersburg.
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  MissScarlett: I'm particularly looking forward to further contributions by User: Pawn and Two.
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  Sally Simpson: ***

I agree with asiduodiego that this page is pointless.

Unlike Fischer- Karpov 1974 there is no dispute about the outcome. Surely everyone will agree to a Morphy win -v- a well past his prime Staunton. So that leaves the only reason for this threads existence is why did the match not take place.

A brief intro as to what (I assume) this page is about would not go amiss adding links, like those that appear in latter comments, to the Edward Winter pages where we see all the possible reasons why the match never took place researched and discussed in great depth and detail.

It appears 'Check It Out' has also noted this need for clarification by linking to chessbase and wiki adding 'Some general background.'

But the ill informed, the lazy and the malcontents will not bother reading the links so you will no doubt end up with post after post declaring Staunton, as they do Fischer, a coward, except in this case you will find very few, if any, defenders of Staunton.

So here we have a thread with no games, no explanation as to it's being covering a point that no one will debate. Pointless!


Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: What's the matter? Someone has kindly provided a page to discuss the missed opportunity for a match between Morphy and Staunton. Fine. Someone has decided whimsically to give it the current title - great, and makes me smile a lot more than the many non-puns offered on the Game of the Day recurring feature.

So some people might want special pages for other issues along the same lines? Well, why not?

Stop behaving like old (wo)men.

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  Messiah: Hmm, a page where I did not comment yet.
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  Diademas: For once your catchphrase would be appropriate;
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  Williebob: Let this page be a stern lesson for other pages, so that they may behave themselves.
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  Dionysius1: Lots of dental treatment recently. Feel like coming across as an Old Testament priest for a while. Life is tough. Do right. Behave.
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  MissScarlett: I compiled a biographical profile of <Frederick Edge> (mainly from and this seems as good a place as anywhere to put it:

<Frederick Milnes Edge

Born - 29th May 1830 (baptised, 19th July 1830, St Martin in Fields, London)

Parents - Thomas (b.1792/93) & Eleanor (nee Milnes); married 1829

Siblings - Thomas Jnr. (b.1818); Mary Ann (b.1823/24); Emily (b.1831/32); Alfred (b.1832/33); Elizabeth (b.1835/36)

Family home - 39 Vincent Sq, London from <1851 - >1861

Other personal addresses: 49 Hanover St, London (1865)

Lodger at Sussex Hotel, Bouverie St, London (1881 census)

14 Hanway St. (1882)

Family company address - 59 Great Peter St, London; 1826 onwards


Sion House Academy (boarding school), Jersey (1841 census)

King's College London, from Oct 1850, lasted only a year

Significant chronological events:

Nov 1855 - Acts in one-off amateur performance of Hamlet, New York

Apr 1856 - Living with French modiste, New York

Mar 1857 - Working for NY Herald, now married to above.

Oct 1857 - Works at American Chess Congress, New York

Mar(?) 1858 - Return to London

~Jul 1858 - Jan 1859 - Morphy's secretary (London/Paris)

1861 - Return to America ~ Jun 1861

Mar 1862 - Working for London 'Morning Star' in New York

May 1865 - ~Mar 1866 - Debtor's prison in London

1866 - Jan 1867 - Agent of Reform League in Manchester

Bibliography -

1859 - Exploits and Triumphs of Paul Morphy (NY & London ed)

1860 - Slavery Doomed

1864 - England’s Danger and Her Safety; President Lincoln's Successor

1865 - Major-General McClellan and the Campaign on the Yorktown Peninsula

1868 - The Alabama and the Kearsarge

Death - 28/05/1882; Kings' College Hospital, London>

Comments, additions, corrections are solicited.

Aug-19-21  Z truth 000000001: Yeah, put his Death before the Bibliography.

And move all this florid horrid over to Morphy's biography.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Apr 1856 - Living with French modiste, New York> Morphy in drag, no doubt.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Family home - 39 Vincent Sq, London from <1851 - >1861

Other personal addresses: 49 Hanover St, London (1865)


May 1865 - ~Mar 1866 - Debtor's prison in London>

Staunton - Morphy Match (1858) (kibitz #29)

Seems that Thomas Edge went bankrupt in 1864/65 (not for the first time) and had to vacate the family home. The <Morning Advertiser> of January 31st 1865, p.8. has a notice announcing the sale by auction the next day of the household furniture and effects of 39 Vincent Square, as <instructed by the Assignees of Thomas Edge.> Highlights of the lots include 450 volumes of books, Arabian bedsteads and an ormolu gaselier.

Premium Chessgames Member
  scutigera: It is disheartening to see a page whose discussion doesn't match its topic, but given what's happened to the pages of actual chessplayers like Ken Rogoff and Wesley So, to say nothing of I Hatem and all players whose names sound like a risqué word or phrase in English, I would say we're well down the slippery slope already, well-muddied and gathering speed. We might as well have more of them: the more non-chess-minded kibitzers they attract, the greater the chance that some future So or Rogoff TN, blunder, or unexpected win/loss will receive comment and discussion that isn't immediately diluted to death by irrelevantalia.
Dec-20-21  Cibator: I'd still like to know why that piker Deschapelles hasn't had more of a ticking-off for having steered clear of LaBourdonnais.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The <Standard> of January 27th, 1865, p.4, has a notice calling forth the creditors of the estate of Thomas Edge, Jnr (Fred's older brother), who died on December 14th 1864. Thomas is described as a gas engineer of< 39, Vincent-square in the city of Westerham [sic]>. That casts a somewhat different shade on events.
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  MissScarlett: From Lawson's <Paul Morphy: The Pride and Sorrow of Chess (2010, Kindle 2e)>:

<<Extracts of two letters of a London publisher, Charles N. Skeet, probably to Fiske, are also of interest:

July 6, 1858, London

Dear Sir...

Your American Chess Champion Mr. Morphy called upon me last week and we conversed on the subject of his contemplated match with Mr. Staunton. I find that funds to any amount will be supplied to back him and therefore the thousand pounds which was mentioned by Mr. Staunton as his mark will be no obstacle to the match. Morphy is a wonder for his age but the old fox will be too much for him.

Truly yours

Chas. N. Skeet>

The intent of Morphy's visit and Skeet's remark that "I find that funds to any amount will be supplied" are unknown. It should also be noted that Skeet must have confused the £1,000 offer of Staunton's with the New Orleans Chess Club's offer of that amount to Staunton.

After witnessing Staunton's ultimate treatment of Morphy four months later, Skeet had this to say:

November 9, 1858, London

Dear Sir...

Mr. Morphy has won golden opinions here for his chivalrous conduct and Mr. Staunton has terribly sank in our estimation for the manner he has adopted. When Mr. Morphy first landed he must have been off his play to some extent which must account for the opinion I passed on him in relation to Staunton. Now it is considered that nobody can approach him in excellence.

Truly yours

Chas. N Skeet>

This <Charles N Skeet> must, in fact, surely be the <Charles J Skeet> whose publishing office was located at <10 King William St., Charing Cross>, which is off the Strand.

The only chess connection I can find is that he published Harrwitz's <British Chess Review> during its short life in 1853-1854. See:

Around this period, it appears Harrwitz was based at the hotel owned by Edward Lowe in Surrey St. More than once in the <Review> he gives his address as 14 Surrey St.

If anyone has access to Lawson's first edition, or even the second edition in paperback, could they check that <Charles N. Skeet> is indeed given. It could possibly be a transcription error in the Kindle version.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: "Chas. N. Skeet" on pages 122 and 123 of my 1976 hard cover edition.
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  MissScarlett: Perhaps it's as simple as a squiggly signature. The lack of information Lawson gives about the letters - well, his sources, in general - is frustrating. It's hard to believe that the full text of the letters wouldn't provide greater context as to the reason for Morphy's visit, or why Skeet would be writing to Fiske (assuming Lawson is correct). Could the rest of the text have been illegible?

Morphy stayed at Lowe's hotel after his arrival in London, so it's possible that Lowe guided him in Skeet's direction. Perhaps Fiske/Morphy were interested in a potential English publisher/distributor for <The Chess Monthly> or Morphy might have already wanted to contact Harrwitz in Paris, whose address Skeet could have known.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <The only chess connection I can find is that he published Harrwitz's <British Chess Review> during its short life in 1853-1854.>

Two others - in 1850, he was the publisher of George Walker's <Chess & Chess-Players> (his address was then #27, not 10), and in 1859, Boden, in the <Field> recommended him as a seller of chess books. This raises the possibility that Fiske and Skeet were already known to one another.

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  MissScarlett: <7545. The Edge libel case (C.N. 7483)

From John Townsend (Wokingham, England):

‘Further to my short account of the libel case which F.M. Edge brought against Clayton in 1867 (see Notes on the life of Howard Staunton, pages 119-120), I have learned a little of the background to the case. Although Edge had been released from the debtors’ prison about March 1866 (see C.N. 7483), his financial position continued to cast dark shadows over his life and was the cause of his departure from his job at the Reform League, which involved collecting money and retaining a percentage for himself, and the consequent libel action.

A fairly detailed account of the case appeared in the Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser of 7 August 1867, page 4. [...]>

An excerpt from the <Courier>:

<Mr James said the plaintiff was a gentleman who had for some years been engaged in literary pursuits, having written a variety of essays and contributed considerably to the periodical and journalistic literature of the country. He had been several years in the United States, and during the unfortunate troubles in America, he ably discharged the duties of correspondent from the camp of the Northern army to the <Morning Star>. He returned to England in 1865, and, conjunction with Mr. Beales, took an active part in embodying the Reform League in London. He believed it was owing to his efforts that that body was established. He was a friend and intimate acquaintance of the late Mr. Cobden, and it was through the interposition or recommendation of Mr. Cobden that he was appointed secretary to the National Reform League. The plaintiff did not feel it in accordance with his views to accept that situation. It seemed to him and others that a branch of that League should be formed in Manchester, and in July, 1866, he came to Manchester for that purpose, and succeeded, in October last, in forming a branch of the league in this city. Up to that time the plaintiff had resided in London, and was in receipt of about £300 for his literary labours. He was promised that if he would leave London and come to Manchester, he would be able to establish himself in an equally satisfactory position, and that he should be appointed secretary to the branch League in this city. This induced him to come to Manchester, and early in December he was appointed secretary to the League in this city.>

Understandably, in a case revolving on Edge's reputation for trustworthiness, his counsel failed to mention his time in a debtors' prison, but how plausible is the proferred timeline:

(Early) 1865: Edge returns to England, having been in America since mid-1861;

April 2 1865: Death of his friend Richard Cobden:

May 1865 - ~Mar 1866: Debtors' prison in London;

July 1866: Moves to Manchester;

October 1866: Forms Manchester branch of League;

December 1866- Apppointed secretary of same;

January 1867 - Resigns as secretary.

Two questions present themselves:

i) When did Edge have time to take an <active part in embodying the Reform League in London>? Before May 1865 or during April - June 1866?

ii) Did Edge have time to incur a sufficient debt and be jailed for it between returning early 1865 and May 1865? If not, when did he return to England, or had the debt been incurred before his visiting America in 1861?

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  MissScarlett: <Name: Edge Frederick Milnes

Date of Imprisonment: 23 May 1865

Creditor: George Best, Rochester Terrace, Westminster

Nature and Amount of Debt: Ca Sa. £30 6s.


The creditor, George Best, of 5 Rochester Terrace, Westminster, was listed as an auctioneer and upholsterer in the Post Office London Directory for 1865 (page 852). It is not known how Edge came to owe him money.>

Rochester Terrace was in close proximity to the Edge home in Vincent Square, and it seems that Best was neither a patient man nor one to be trifled with.

A report in the <Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette> of December 13th 1860 states Best was one of two men charged with riot, after they arrived mob-handed <with 7 seedy looking bombailiffs> and tried to forcibly effect entry to the Rectory in North Wraxall, a village in Wiltshire. Best is described as a <London money lender (to whom the Rector had given a bill of sale upon his furniture)>. It's not clear if Best was interested in getting his money back (a figure of £700 is mentioned) or the furniture.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: (Glasgow) Morning Journal, January 4th 1865, p.3:

<A Mr Frederick Milnes Edge has written to the <Daily News> to suggest that the L. 17,000 realised by the Liverpool bazaar should be confided for distribution to the United States Sanitary Commission. He puts in his claim on the ground that by so doing the intentions of the donors of the money, which are asserted to be in no sense political, will be equally well carried out, and Northern and Southern prisoners alike relieved.>

I had trouble finding it, because the poor print quality eluded the search engine, but Edge's letter appears on page 3 the January 2nd edition. The <Daily News> was a liberal paper and overtly pro-Union. More on the <Liverpool bazaar>:

But for our purpose, the letter places Edge to <London, Dec. 31.> How long had he been home?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <scutigera: It is disheartening to see a page whose discussion doesn't match its topic..>

What you want to discuss? The

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