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🏆 1st American Chess Congress, New York (1857)

  PARTICIPANTS (sorted by highest achieved rating; click on name to see player's games)
Louis Paulsen, Paul Morphy, Alexander Beaufort Meek, Theodore Lichtenhein, Charles Henry Stanley, William James Appleton Fuller, Benjamin Raphael, Hiram Kennicott, William S Allison, Hardman Montgomery, Samuel Robert Calthrop, Frederick Perrin, Daniel Willard Fiske, Napoleon Marache, Hubert Knott, James Thompson Chess Event Description
1st American Chess Congress, New York (1857)

New York, NY, United States (6 October 1857—10 November 1857)

———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Round 1 ————————————┐ Morphy │ +3=0-0 ├——┐ Round 2 Thompson │ │ ————————————┐ ————————————┘ │ Morphy │ ├── +3=0-0 ├──┐ ————————————┐ │ Meek │ │ Meek │ │ ————————————┘ │ +3=0-2 ├——┘ │ Round 3 Fuller │ │ ————————————┐ ————————————┘ │ Morphy │ ├── +3=1-0 ├──┐ ————————————┐ │ Lichtenhein │ │ Lichtenhein │ │ ————————————┘ │ +3=0-2 ├——┐ │ │ Stanley │ │ ————————————┐ │ │ ————————————┘ │ Lichtenhein │ │ │ ├── +3=0-0 ├──┘ │ ————————————┐ │ Perrin │ │ Perrin │ │ ————————————┘ │ +3=2-2 ├——┘ │ Round 4 Place/Prizes Knott │ │ ——————————————————————————————————————— ————————————┘ │ Morphy 1st Silver service set* ├── +5=2-1 ————————————┐ │ Paulsen 2nd $100.00 Paulsen │ │ ——————————————————————————————————————— +3=0-0 ├——┐ │ Lichtenhein 3rd $66.67 Calthrop │ │ ————————————┐ │ +3=0-0 ————————————┘ │ Paulsen │ │ Raphael 4th $33.33 ├── +2=0-0 ├──┐ │ ——————————————————————————————————————— ————————————┐ │ Montgomery │ │ │ Montgomery │ │ ————————————┘ │ │ +3=0-1 ├——┘ │ │ Allison │ │ ————————————┐ │ ————————————┘ │ Paulsen │ │ ├── +2=1-0 ├——┘ ————————————┐ │ Raphael │ Raphael │ │ ————————————┘ +3=1-2 ├——┐ │ Kennicott │ │ ————————————┐ │ ————————————┘ │ Raphael │ │ ├── +3=1-2 ├──┘ ————————————┐ │ Marache │ Marache │ │ ————————————┘ +3=0-2 ├——┘ Fiske │ ————————————┘ ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Format: First to three wins, draws not counting, is the winner of each match. The championship match was for the first to five wins, draws not counting. * The $300 first prize was used to purchase a silver pitcher, four goblets, and a salver.

The first American Chess Congress (1) was held in New York City from October 6th to November 10th, 1857. Daniel Willard Fiske and Thomas Frere were the organizers, and the tournament was designed with similarities to the London (1851) format, with the provision that draws did not count and had to be replayed. The first prize was $300. The 16 best American masters were invited to participate in the event, including Paul Morphy and Louis Paulsen. Morphy dominated the event, sweeping each of his opponents until Paulsen in the final. Dropping one game in the final match, Morphy finished the tournament with an astounding 14 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss. Morphy's victory cemented him as one of the best players in the world (if not the best), and prompted his tour across the Atlantic where he faced the best Europe had to offer in a series of matches, winning each and every one of them. Not long after his return to America, Morphy would retire from chess.

Individual Matches

Round 1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wins ————————————————————————————————— Morphy 1 1 1 3 Thompson 0 0 0 0 Meek 1 1 0 0 1 3 Fuller 0 0 1 1 0 2 Lichtenhein 1 0 0 1 1 3 Stanley 0 1 1 0 0 2 Perrin 0 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 3 Knott 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 2 Paulsen 1 1 1 3 Calthrop 0 0 0 0 Montgomery 1 0 1 1 3 Allison 0 1 0 0 1 Raphael 0 1 ½ 0 1 1 3 Kennicott 1 0 ½ 1 0 0 2 Marache 0 0 1 1 1 3 Fiske 1 1 0 0 0 2 —————————————————————————————————

Round 2 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wins ————————————————————————————————— Morphy 1 1 1 3 Meek 0 0 0 0 Lichtenhein 1 1 1 3 Perrin 0 0 0 0 Raphael 1 ½ 1 0 0 1 3 Marache 0 ½ 0 1 1 0 2 Paulsen 1 1 2 Montgomery 0 0 0* ————————————————————————————————— * Montgomery was unexpectedly called home and resigned the match.(2)

Round 3 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Wins ————————————————————————————————— Morphy 1 1 ½ 1 3 Lichtenhein 0 0 ½ 0 0 Paulsen 1 ½ 1 2 Raphael 0 ½ 0 0* ————————————————————————————————— * Raphael resigned the match.(3)

Round 4 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Wins ——————————————————————————————————— Morphy 1 ½ 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 5 Paulsen 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 Lichtenhein 1 1 1 3 Raphael 0 0 0 0 ———————————————————————————————————

Missing Information
First eight games in list do not have full dates.

Fourteen years later, the 2nd American Chess Congress, Cleveland (1871) was held.

(1) Wikipedia article: American Chess Congress
(2) The Book of the First American Chess Congress, Fiske, New York 1857, p82
(3) The Book of the First American Chess Congress, Fiske, New York 1857, p235

Original collection: Game Collection: New York 1857, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 68  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. B Raphael vs T Lichtenhein 0-13218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC33 King's Gambit Accepted
2. T Lichtenhein vs B Raphael 1-02518571st American Chess Congress, New YorkA43 Old Benoni
3. T Lichtenhein vs B Raphael 1-02918571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
4. T Lichtenhein vs F Perrin 1-03018571st American Chess Congress, New YorkB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
5. D W Fiske vs N Marache 0-13518571st American Chess Congress, New YorkA84 Dutch
6. F Perrin vs T Lichtenhein  0-12918571st American Chess Congress, New YorkB44 Sicilian
7. S Calthrop vs Paulsen 0-13018571st American Chess Congress, New YorkB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
8. N Marache vs D W Fiske 0-14818571st American Chess Congress, New YorkB44 Sicilian
9. W S Allison vs H P Montgomery 0-12018571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC53 Giuoco Piano
10. A Meek vs W Fuller 1-02618571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC20 King's Pawn Game
11. H P Montgomery vs W S Allison 0-15218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC44 King's Pawn Game
12. Morphy vs J Thompson 1-04818571st American Chess Congress, New YorkB44 Sicilian
13. F Perrin vs H Knott 0-13918571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC01 French, Exchange
14. B Raphael vs H Kennicott 0-13618571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC45 Scotch Game
15. J Thompson vs Morphy 0-12118571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC50 Giuoco Piano
16. H Knott vs F Perrin 0-13918571st American Chess Congress, New YorkD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
17. W S Allison vs H P Montgomery 0-12318571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC50 Giuoco Piano
18. H P Montgomery vs W S Allison 1-03018571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC51 Evans Gambit
19. H Kennicott vs B Raphael 0-13418571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC42 Petrov Defense
20. S Calthrop vs Paulsen 0-12218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC40 King's Knight Opening
21. Paulsen vs S Calthrop 1-04218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC54 Giuoco Piano
22. B Raphael vs H Kennicott ½-½6118571st American Chess Congress, New YorkD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. J Thompson vs Morphy 0-14618571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC53 Giuoco Piano
24. F Perrin vs H Knott ½-½3218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkC01 French, Exchange
25. D W Fiske vs N Marache 1-04218571st American Chess Congress, New YorkD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
 page 1 of 3; games 1-25 of 68  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-10-15  zanzibar: On, the other hand see this:

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #11914)

So, in the sense that there were four games in the match (3 wins by Paulsen + 1 draw), and <CG> only has three (2 wins + draw).

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: Also, exploring further I found another valuable source outlining the New York Tribune sources:

<Oct 29, 1857 pg 5: Paulsen wins hard game vs Raphael who resigned 3d game of his section, will start playing Lichtenhein for 3d/4th.>

Remember, this could be the 4th game, as draws didn't count.

There's also this:

<Nov 9, 1857 pg 3: Publish 2 games, 1 by hot blood of Southern sky, other by phlegmatic Teuton blind vs Raphael. Paulsen sure could play 8 would not be surprised if someone plays 20. Many feel Paulsen better blind than OTB, he feels so himself and is curious for Morphy's opinion; self-taught. Morphy native genius plus study; horrible wit of supporter called him "nascitur non fit, w heaps of the fit piled on the nascitur. Tnmt book to be ed well-known Scandinavian scholar and ed Chess Monthly Fiske and Morphy; has photo Morphy playing Paulsen Morphy combines brilliance McDonnell, soundness Philidor. Game Paulsen-Morphy 4N B28 2:55. 1 of 3 blind Game Paulsen-Dr BI Raphael Scotch W25 3:30; Raphael had to leave Paulsen willing to cont, Perrin came forward but decided clear win for Paulsen did not cont>

which mentions a <Paulsen--Raphael> blindfold game.

I never said this is an easy business...

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: But this post by me,

1st American Chess Congress (1857) (kibitz #9)

is just plain wrong, and should be discarded.

I'll make an excuse about being confused reading some of the debate mentioned here:

<According to the Prospectus, the contestants were to meet Monday, October 5, at 3:00 p.m. where they would be paired of by lot. The eight players who won three out of five games would proceed to the next phase, the losers would drop out. The eight winners would be paired off, then the four winners. The two who won the final phase would play a match to determine first and second place, while the two who lost would play a match to determine third and fourth place. However, at the meeting on Monday, there was some debate about whether this was a desirable format. It was finally agreed to let the stated format stand and the lottery would take place on Tuesday, October 6.>

But really, I should have double-checked before posting. Here, is a very good intro to the tournament:

Edochess chess being one of the best sites when it comes to accuracy and proper referencing. Period.

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: (Even if the actual page I just gave was written by batgirl and not Rod Edwards)
Jul-10-15  Calli: The blindfold game was one of three given ib the NY Trib on Nov 9

I don't know the date of the simul though.

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: Right. I covered the earlier simul/blindfolds starting with this post:

1st American Chess Congress (1857) (kibitz #12)

Paulsen gave a 4-board blindfold on Oct 10 (one against Morphy, himself blindfolded). Then a record-breaking 5-board blindfold simul on Oct 21).

1st American Chess Congress (1857) (kibitz #13)

Both of these two sessions featured adjournments, when Paulsen was reported to accurately record the positions of all the pieces on each board at the adjournment.

* * * * *

But are we agreed that there is a missing game from the third section match between Paulsen--Raphael?

I have to check back in with <crawfb5> over on the Bistro to make sure I didn't miss a mention later in the tournament book.

Jul-10-15  Calli: I think there is no missing game. They played three and Raphael resigned the match being down 2-0-1.
Jul-10-15  zanzibar: Yes, but I'm looking for an explicit ref... which I found as I wrote on the Bistro:

<OK, I found the ref and notice in a footnote at the bottom of page 235 of the tournament book at the end of the third game which came at the end of the Third Section(*)

<(*) Time, seven hours and a half. The second player, although his opponent had only scored two games, resigned the match at this stage.>>

This kind of info explicitly belongs in the intro, imo.

Sep-10-15  The Kings Domain: One of the most notable and memorable tournaments.
Jan-13-16  zanzibar: Batgirl's write-up on the various players:

(The link on the wiki page is stale)

Jan-23-16  zanzibar: RE: <Color trivia>

The lots were drawn with this:

<The Lottery - Eight white and eight yellow stubs were numbered 1 through 8 and placed in a box. The white ticket had "Choice of Chessmen and first move" written on it. Whoever chose #1 white would play whoever chose #1 yellow. Whoever picked a white stub had the choice of color and the first move.>

Since the winners of the lottery were published (p74/tb), and we have R1.1 from <CG> we can determine which players choose Black(*) to start their first round matches:

Kennicott, Hiram
Fiske, Daniel

(*) Two notes:

(a) Black has contemporary meaning, i.e. gave the move to their opponent. The actual color of the pieces chosen is never recorded afaik.

(b) Julien was originally paired against Paulsen, as recorded in tb. Calthrop substituted for him.

Jan-23-16  zanzibar: Actually, Calthrop was a late arrival on the first day. Julien apparently was the substitute, he withdrew from play when Calthrop arrived (p74/tb).
Jan-25-16  zanzibar: Louisville KY Evening Bulletin 1857-10-09 p2(?)

<[From the New York Express (1857-10-04)]

NATIONAL CHESS CONGRESS — <Extraordinary Chess Playing> — The New York Chess Club hold regular tri-weekly gatherings at the house of E. Perrin, its Secretary. On Saturday evening a sociable party, composed of distinguished chess players from all parts of the Union, was present, the occasion being a remarkable match to be played between a German and three of the best players in these parts. Mr. Louis Paulsen, a German, living at Dubuque, Iowa, who comes as a contestant in the great Chess Congress, which commences its session to-morrow, at Descombe's rooms, No. 765 Broadway, performed the wonderful feat of playing, while blindfolded, three games at once, without having any board before him, or seeing the boards of his three opponents or keeping any memorandum except in his mind. His opponents were W. J. A. Fuller, of this city, an honorary member of the N. Y. Chess Club; T. Frere, secretary of the Brooklyn Chess Club, and Dr. Raphael, who obtained a national celebrity as a chess player in Kentucky.>

At least one of the games (<Paulsen--Ralphael>) is known to exist.

Jan-27-16  zanzibar: <
So the year 1857 found us. It was some relief,
looking at tbe daily papers, to tarn from the
failure of A, B, k Co., for $150,000, and from
the suspension of specie payments by the banks,
except the glorious old Chemical, to the unruffled
proceedings of the first American Chess
Congress, then in session, admission for the
week, to lookers-on, one dollar. But that dollar?
Was it prudent, with bank account at low water,
and slim prospect of a flow, and on the edge of
a long winter, with others dependent, was it
prudent so to bestow—to throw away—a dollar?
After hearing counsel before ourself three
whole days, we held a family council with "die
frau" who at once decided that we mast go.
And "went" we did. And the officers of the
Chess Congress, with nobler instincts of gentlemen
than the New York Academy of Medicine[ff unreadable]
did not hesitate or refuse to admit a
negro, even with the high-bloods from the South
in their midst, and the danger of the dissolution
of tbe Union before their eyes.

Having seen their portraits in Frank Leslie,
we instantly singled out Paulsen and his great
antagonist, and a little skillful elbowing found
us seated beside their board. There was Louis
Paulsen, with his vast head, sanguine temperament,
but coarse fibre, indicating his rough,
almost pure-Bersekir blood; and as we gazed
at Morphy, with his fine, open countenance,
brunette hue, marvellous delicacy of fibre,
bright, clear eyes, and elongated submaxillary
bone, a keen suspicion entered our ethnological
department that we were not the only Cartha-
ginian in the room. It might only be one drop,
perhaps two—God only knows how they got
there—but surely, beside the Tria--mulattin who
at present writes, there was also a Hekata-mu-
lattin in that room!
-- Jame M'Cune (?) Smith

Washington DC National Era Sept 29, 1959 p1, quoting from the "Anglo-African Magazine for September".

Unbelievable that wiki has no page for this publication.

Jan-27-16  zanzibar: <HARD ON THE EDITOR,—Herr Lowenthal in answering a correspondent, has dictated the following very pithy and very suggestive paragraph:—"It was, no doubt, a source of great regret to many American amateurs that the article on the 'Pawn and move opening,' contributed by Herr L. to the American Chess Congress should have been published in foreign notation. It was, certainly, strange that the Editor of the book of the American Congress should have taken so much trouble in translating it from the English. To Herr L, <this was a great disappointment>, he having bestowed much time in its preparation. <"The article, in its present form, is utterly useless to American Chess Amateurs."> The italicising is our own. Many reminiscences of that singular discussion over the "German Notation" in this country are awakened, and comments suggested by the above.<<>>>

NY Clipper, Sat. May 30, 1863

Probably the most worthless section of Fiske's tournament book was the section on new notation. The actual games were given in the then traditional Descriptive notation.

NY Clipper May 30, 1863 p2(?)

May-02-16  Chesstorian72: <zanzibar> Kill yourself
May-02-16  zanzibar: <chesstorian72> what's that supposed to mean?
May-29-16  Adriano Saldanha: I was intrigued for a long time why it was considered a "best of 7 games" the Morphy Paulsen final, in which there were actually 8 games.

As a result of a quick ressearch in the internet, i found an excellent book on the tournament which explains the rules. The winner of the intermediary rounds is determined by the "3 wins" rule, not by the "best of 3" rule. In the same way, in the final round the winner is determined by the "5 wins" rule, not by the "best of 7". Here is the source:
"The contestants shall
meet on Monday, the fifth of October, at three p.m. Should the number of entrances amount to any even and easily divisible number, say thirty-two, they shall then be paired off by lot, and commence their games simultaneously. The sixteen players winning three out of five games, are to be declared victors in this first section of the Tournament, and the sixteen losers excluded from all further share in the contest. The sixteen winners are then to be paired ofi* by lot as before, the eight couple beginning their matches simultaneously. The eight winners of the first three games are to be declared victors in this second section of the Tournament, and the eight losers excluded from all further share in the contest. The eight winners are then to be paired off by lot as before, the four couple beginning their matches simultaneously. The four winners of the first three games are to be declared victors in this third section of the Tournament, and entitled to the four prizes. To determine the order in which the prizes shall be distributed, the four prize-bearers will then be paired off against each other as before, each couple to play the best of five games. The two winners in this fourth section of the Tournament shall then play a match for the two highest prizes, and the player winning the first five games shall be entitled to the fiy^st prize—the second prize going to the loser." (in "The Book of the American Chess Congress", New York, Rudd & Carleton (Ed), 1859, p60)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The tournament schedule above lists 70 games of which 68 are in this collection. Missing are Game 2 of the Meek-Fuller match, and Game 5 of Perrin-Knott (which is accounted for in the tournament book, p.197, with "The fifth game between these players was recorded in such a way as to be wholly unintelligible. It was drawn.").

But two other games are apparently missing, meaning that 72 games were played in total. The Raphael-Marache match was of 7 games, not the 6 given in the games' section. It was won +3 -2 =2 by Raphael, as confirmed by both the tournament account on p.87, and the results' table on p.259. So far, I haven't been able to determine where in the schedule the extra draw occurred, so the current numbering of games is in doubt.

The second omission is a fourth game in the semi-final match, Paulsen-Raphael. The results' table gives the victory +2 =1 to Paulsen, and the games' section lists only three games, but that's flatly contradicted by the account on p.88, and there's no evident reason why the first-to-three rule wouldn't have applied. Again, there's an issue in determining the correct sequence of games.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Better than ever
Several years ago, an Australian researcher, Robert W. Howard, studied how the chess ratings of top players escalated over decades — and he concluded that the entire world is just getting smarter. Ratings growth is preliminary evidence that “average human intelligence really is rising,” he wrote.

Ken Regan, an international master and associate professor of computer science at the University of Buffalo, has a more modest goal. He devised a new metric, Intrinsic Performance Rating (IPR), to measure the move quality of great players of the past using the Rybka program.

And, yes, we are getting better at this game. <He found, for example, that one of Paul Morphy’s opponents in the first American championship played at a pitiful 1194 level — that is well below today’s average tournament player.>

Other findings: When Howard Staunton won the 1843 match that made him unofficial world champion, he played at an 1899 level.>

Right. Who was the 1194 player? 1st American Chess Congress (1857)/James Thompson ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <offramp> Thompson was a decent player -- not his fault he got Morphy in the first round. Morphy's weakest opponent in the tournament was surely Meek, but he doesn't look like an 1194 to me. WS Allison was pretty bad -- see for yourself. I know he didn't play Morphy, but maybe Soltis got sloppy. Does anyone have a link to Regan's study?
Feb-16-18  zanzibar: A <first-look look>™:

Feb-17-18  Dionysius1: There's something weird about the biography when it says: "Despite dropping one game in the final match, Morphy finished the tournament with an astounding 14 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss."

How can "Despite dropping one game...Morphy finished...with one loss" make sense?

I think the "Despite" is just a rhetorical flourish which unwittingly makes nonsense of the sentence.

If the author is concerned about it he/she might just drop "Despite" to give the sentence back its sense. I know this is all volunteer work...

Dec-26-19  HarryP: A good chess trivia question would be "Who finished third in the 1st American Chess Congress?"
Dec-27-19  spingo: <HarryP: A good chess trivia question would be "Who finished third in the 1st American Chess Congress?">

Perhaps one day on <Jeopardy> we'll hear this:

ALEX TREBECK: "Russian chess-player Theodore Lichtenhein."

CONTESTANT: "Who finished third in the 1st American Chess Congress (1857)?"

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