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🏆 1st American Chess Congress (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 (1857)

New York, NY USA; 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 (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 CongressC33 King's Gambit Accepted
2. T Lichtenhein vs B Raphael 1-02518571st American Chess CongressA43 Old Benoni
3. T Lichtenhein vs B Raphael  1-02918571st American Chess CongressC48 Four Knights
4. T Lichtenhein vs F Perrin 1-03018571st American Chess CongressB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
5. D W Fiske vs N Marache 0-13518571st American Chess CongressA84 Dutch
6. F Perrin vs T Lichtenhein  0-12918571st American Chess CongressB44 Sicilian
7. S Calthrop vs Paulsen 0-13018571st American Chess CongressB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
8. N Marache vs D W Fiske 0-14818571st American Chess CongressB44 Sicilian
9. W S Allison vs H P Montgomery 0-12018571st American Chess CongressC53 Giuoco Piano
10. A Meek vs W Fuller 1-02618571st American Chess CongressC20 King's Pawn Game
11. H P Montgomery vs W S Allison 0-15218571st American Chess CongressC44 King's Pawn Game
12. Morphy vs J Thompson 1-04818571st American Chess CongressB44 Sicilian
13. F Perrin vs H Knott 0-13918571st American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
14. B Raphael vs H Kennicott 0-13618571st American Chess CongressC45 Scotch Game
15. J Thompson vs Morphy 0-12118571st American Chess CongressC50 Giuoco Piano
16. H Knott vs F Perrin 0-13918571st American Chess CongressD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
17. W S Allison vs H P Montgomery 0-12318571st American Chess CongressC50 Giuoco Piano
18. H P Montgomery vs W S Allison 1-03018571st American Chess CongressC51 Evans Gambit
19. H Kennicott vs B Raphael 0-13418571st American Chess CongressC42 Petrov Defense
20. S Calthrop vs Paulsen 0-12218571st American Chess CongressC40 King's Knight Opening
21. Paulsen vs S Calthrop 1-04218571st American Chess CongressC54 Giuoco Piano
22. B Raphael vs H Kennicott ½-½6118571st American Chess CongressD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. J Thompson vs Morphy 0-14618571st American Chess CongressC53 Giuoco Piano
24. F Perrin vs H Knott ½-½3218571st American Chess CongressC01 French, Exchange
25. D W Fiske vs N Marache 1-04218571st American Chess CongressD32 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 1 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-16-12  brankat: A collection of great historical value!
Nov-16-12  Troller: I see Morphy lost a game against Paulsen. What a patzer he was, that Morphy.
Nov-16-12  brankat: <Troller> You got that right. It is about time that people see the light. And not only in regards to P.Morphy.

There has been an endless procession of patzers, who, for some unfathomable reason, had been praised as true masters of the game.

Steinitz the Conceited, Lasker of the Coffee-house, Nimzowitch the Weirdo, Euwe the Weakling, talentless Botvinnik, lucky Tal, cowardly Petrosian, Karpov the Pinko etc.

Only BOBBY shines like the Sun!

Nov-19-12  Tigranny: <brankat> I wouldn't call Karpov a pinko...
Jul-09-15  zanzibar: Some comments about <London (1851)> from this tournament's tournament book:

London (1851) (kibitz #15)

Jul-09-15  zanzibar: The link given without comment in the intro is to a picture of the participants:

Are they explicitly identified anywhere?

Jul-09-15  zanzibar: The tournament book can be found online (with various download options) both on google books and also here: (google)


The Book of the First American Chess Congress:

Containing the Proceedings of that Celebrated Assemblage Held in New York in the Year 1857 Together with Sketches of the History of Chess in the Old and New Worlds

Willard Fiske

Rudd & Carleton, 1859 - American Chess Congress - 563 pages


Jul-09-15  zanzibar: Sorry to complain, but I don't like the intro's description of the tournament format:

<designed with similarities to the London (1851) format, with the provision that draws did not count and had to be replayed.>

Yes, both tournaments had a KO structure where draws didn't count. But the <London (1851)> tournament was originally designed to have 32-players, not 16. And the first round at London was a best-of-3 match, not a best-of-5.

And the final match between Morphy and Paulsen needs some explanation. The tournament book specifies this match is determined by the first to win five games.

(Thus, Morphy's 6/8 scoring is also misleading - after all, draws don't count)

Jul-09-15  zanzibar: Another difference from London, was an attempt to compensate for early eliminations due to first round pairings.

Since the pairings were done by lot, two top contenders might face each other. In London, the loser was completely disqualified from prizes, whereas the American Congress divided the players into two pools after the first round. The A-section would compete for 1st and 2nd prize, the B-section for 3rd and 4th prize.

Thus, a first round loser could continue on for subsequent prizes.

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: I'd like to know how the dates were determined for the games which have specific dates.

Most likely from the tournament book, but perhaps there were supplementary sources.

Here's a list of games lacking dates:


1336437 1857.10.?? A84 35 (R1.4) 0-1 Fiske -- Marache

1336459 1857.10.?? B44 29 (R2.2) 0-1 Perrin -- Lichtenhein

1336443 1857.10.?? B00 30 (R2.3) 1-0 Lichtenhein -- Perrin

1295515 1857.10.?? B40 25 (R3.1) 0-1 Raphael -- Paulsen

1295516 1857.10.?? C47 47 (R3.2) = Paulsen -- Raphael

1336467 1857.??.?? C48 29 (R4.1) 1-0 Lichtenhein -- Raphael

1075580 1857.??.?? C33 32 (R4.2) 0-1 Raphael -- Lichtenhein

1321933 1857.??.?? A43 25 (R4.3) 1-0 Lichtenhein -- Raphael


Jul-10-15  zanzibar: I found this contemporaneous piece from the <Sacramento Daily Union> 1857-12-23 p4

It's interesting in that it includes a <Paulsen--Raphael> game which it claims was a blindfold game.

It also lists Morphy as an editor to the tournament book, in addition to Friske!

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: Some popular side-events at the Congress including various blindfold sessions.

The first mentioned in the tournament book took place on the afternoon of Sat, Oct 10th, and the main feature was that of Paulsen playing Morphy, who accepted the challenge only on the condition that he play blindfolded as well.

From p78 of the tournament book:

<Mr. Paulsen and Mr. Morphy sat back to back on the platform at the end of the hall. The four boards were arranged across the room, and besides Mr. Morphy the opponents of Mr. Paulsen were Mr. W.J.A Fuller, Mr. Denis Julien, and Mr. C.H. Schultz. The contests began at half-past four, and Mr. Paulsen's accuracy astonished the numerous lookers-on. His vast powers of memory seemed never to fail him, and he retained throughout an unerring knowledge of the positions of the pawns and pieces on each board. At twelve o'clock Mr. Morphy had won his game, having announced, at the twenty-eight move, checkmate in five moves; Mr. Schultz had resigned, and the remaining two games were adjourned, on account of the lateness of the hour, until Monday the twelfth, Mr. Paulsen calling off the positions of the men on each board in succession with almost incredible rapidity and precision.>

Of note to the dating of the games is this...

<No progress was made in the Tournament to-day, the games being suspended a little after midday to make room for the necessary arrangements in connexion with the blindfold play>

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: <p79 Oct 12>

<Playing was immediately commenced, but was partially suspended during the evening, to witness the conclusion of Mr. Paulsen's blindfold match, which terminated in his drawing the game with Mr. Julien and winning the one against Mr. Fuller>

* * * * *

<p86 Oct 21>

<In the afternoon of this day Mr. Paulsen commenced the unparalled feat of playing five games at once without seeing any of the boards. His opponets were Mr. Thomas Frere, Mr. Robert J. Dodge, and Mr. S. Heilbuth of New York, Dr. A.C. Hawes of Providence, and Mr. C Oscanyan from Constantinople. [...] The arrangements in connexion with this affair, were the same as on the occasion when Mr. Paulsen played four games. At a late hour, the games not having been finished, it was decided to complete them the next evening. [...]>

<p87 Oct 22>

<In the evening Mr. Paulsen finished his admirable exhibition of blindfold play by winning of Mr. Frere, Mr. Heilbuth, Dr. Hawes, and Mr. Oscanyan, and by drawing the game with Mr. Dodge. This was the first authenticated instance in the hisotry of chess, of so large a number of games being simultaneously played by one man without sight of the boards.>

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: The Sacramento Daily Union game has this interesting position after Black's 16th move:

Pre-moves: 15.Rf1-e1 Qe4-g6

click for larger view

Paulsen played the reasonable looking rook lift, 16.Re3, but the engine claims there's a different move which wins. A nice lesson.

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: Here's the published game. I couldn't match it up with any of the blindfold scores in the tournament book (though not even all the games from the simul-blindfolds were published).

But I would like to suggest the possibility that this is the missing <Paulsen--Raphael> game.


[Event "?"]
[Site "New York USA"]
[Date "1857.10.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Paulsen, Louis"]
[Black "Raphael, Benjamin"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "B44g"]
[EventDate "1857.10.06"]
[Source "Sacramento Daily Union 1857-12-23 p4"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Be3 Nge7 6.Bd3 d5 7.Nc3 Nxd4 8.Bxd4 Nc6 9.Bb5 a6 10.exd5 axb5 11.dxc6 bxc6 12.O-O Bd6 13.Ne4 Bxh2+ 14.Kxh2 Qh4+ 15.Kg1 Qxe4 16.Re1 Qg6 17.Re3 f6 18.Rg3 Qf7 19.Bc5 e5 20.Qd6 Qd7 21.Qxd7+ Bxd7 22.Rxg7 Rb8 23.a4 bxa4 24.Rxa4 Bf5 25.Raa7 1-0


Remember, you heard it here first!

Jul-10-15  Calli: >But I would like to suggest the possibility that this is the missing <Paulsen--Raphael> game.>

In what sense missing? Don't we have all 3 match games?

Jul-10-15  zanzibar: Yes <Calli>, as <crawfb5> pointed out, Raphael resigned the match, so there isn't a third win by <Paulsen>.

Actually, I'm taking his word for it, I missed the ref in the tournament book.

This should be explicitly mentioned in the intro, with the ref, to help people like me not to get confused.

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.

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