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Elijah Williams

Number of games in database: 146
Years covered: 1840 to 1854
Overall record: +57 -51 =26 (52.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 12 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Bird's Opening (11) 
    A03 A02
 Sicilian (10) 
    B21 B44 B30
 Philidor's Defense (8) 
 Giuoco Piano (7) 
    C50 C53
 Ruy Lopez (5) 
    C64 C62 C65
 Uncommon Opening (5) 
    B00 A00
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (19) 
    C00 C01 C02
 King's Gambit Declined (8) 
    C30 C31
 French (8) 
 English (6) 
 King's Gambit Accepted (6) 
    C33 C36 C38 C39
 Bird's Opening (5) 
    A02 A03
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   W Wayte vs E Williams, 1851 0-1
   E Williams vs Harrwitz, 1846 1/2-1/2
   E Williams vs W Henderson, 1845 1-0
   E Williams vs Staunton, 1851 1-0
   J Withers vs E Williams, 1845 0-1
   E Williams vs Staunton, 1851 1-0
   J S Mucklow vs E Williams, 1851 0-1
   Staunton vs E Williams, 1851 0-1
   Loewenthal vs E Williams, 1851 0-1
   E Williams vs M Wyvill, 1851 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   London (1851)
   Staunton - Williams (1851)
   Harrwitz - Williams 1852/53 (1852)
   Loewenthal - Williams (1851)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Horwitz - Williams (1852) by MissScarlett
   London 1851 by MissScarlett

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Elijah Williams
Search Google for Elijah Williams

(born Nov-07-1809, died Sep-08-1854, 44 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]

Elijah Williams born in Bristol on November 7th 1809. A surgeon by profession, chess became his main interest. By the mid-1830s, he was Bristol's leading player. He moved to London around 1846, apparently to make his living from chess. He competed in the London (1851) tournament. He defeated both Johann Jacob Loewenthal (+2, =0, -1) and Howard Staunton (+4, =1, -3) and lost to Marmaduke Wyvill (+3, =0, -4) to gain 3rd prize overall. He died of cholera at Charing Cross Hospital, London in 1854.

Williams was the author of two chess books, both compilations of annotated games. The first one is Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club, London 1845, containing 100 games from that society. The second one is Horae Divanianae, London 1852, a selection of 150 games mostly played at the Grand Divan. He conducted various chess columns, the most notable being that in the Field in 1853-54.

Wikipedia article: Elijah Williams (chess player)

Last updated: 2023-05-04 15:49:19

Try our new games table.

 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 146  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. E Williams vs NN  1-0421840Odds game000 Chess variants
2. E Williams vs NN  1-0181840Odds game000 Chess variants
3. E Williams vs NN  1-0211840Odds game000 Chess variants
4. E Williams vs J Robertson  1-0281841corr Portsmouth-BristolC53 Giuoco Piano
5. J Robertson vs E Williams 0-1251841corr Portsmouth-BristolC21 Center Game
6. E Williams vs NN  1-0261841Blindfold odds game000 Chess variants
7. G Spreckley vs E Williams  0-1321842Casual gameA02 Bird's Opening
8. J Withers vs E Williams  ½-½411842Casual gameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
9. E Williams vs J H Sweet  1-0491842Blindfold gameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
10. E Williams vs G Spreckley  0-1231842Casual gameC50 Giuoco Piano
11. E Williams vs J Withers  1-0211842Casual gameC41 Philidor Defense
12. G Spreckley vs E Williams  0-1321842Casual gameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
13. E Williams vs J Withers  ½-½291843Casual gameA80 Dutch
14. A Mongredien vs E Williams 1-0251844LondonD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
15. E Williams vs A Mongredien  0-1261844The Bristol Chess Club, Book IC20 King's Pawn Game
16. E Williams vs NN  1-0251844Casual gameD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
17. Zytogorski vs E Williams 0-1311844Casual gameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
18. E Williams vs NN  1-0201844Casual gameD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
19. E Williams vs W Henderson 1-0151845BristolA02 Bird's Opening
20. J Withers vs E Williams 0-1331845BristolB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
21. G Spreckley vs E Williams  1-0351846Casual gameD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
22. E Williams vs H Kennedy 0-1311846London mD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
23. E Williams vs G Spreckley  1-0211846Casual gameD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. E Williams vs Harrwitz 0-1471846Harrwitz - WilliamsC50 Giuoco Piano
25. E Williams vs Harrwitz 0-1301846Harrwitz - WilliamsD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 146  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Williams wins | Williams loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Calli: Players in those days often used the Black pieces set up as white (the black Q on d1). Some books recorded this and others ignored it as really doesn't matter.>

Looking in Staunton's tournament book, the diagrams for games in which Black moved first are still done "normally," that is, the black Q started on d8. Not sure if that was just the way the publisher set up the diagrams or really the way they did it.

Oct-11-13  thomastonk: I've added a paragraph on the two chess book's Williams authored to his biography. The second book indicates his close relation to the Divan.

About the location of some clubs.
From Hugh Alexander Kennedy 's "Waifs and Strays": the London Chess Club resided somewhere in Cornhill, the St.George's Chess Club in St.James' Street.

From "Schachzeitung" 1854, p 255: the St.George's Club moved in the middle of 1854 to 53 St.James' Street; before - here the text is not so precise - the club seemingly resided at a polytechnical institut, where also the tournament 1851 was played.

Nov-07-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Elijah Williams!!

Mr. Hypermodern OG himself!

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Illustrated London News, September 30th 1854, p.299:

<The late Mr. Elijah Williams, the celebrated Chessplayer.— (From a Correspondent.) — This lamented gentleman was professionally a surgeon, but for many years had discontinued practice. When the cholera, to which he fell a victim, broke out, he benevolently posted a notice on the door of his house, inviting the poor to apply to him for preventive medicines, if attacked by premonitory symptoms, offering it to them gratuitously. On leaving his home for the last time, he asked his wife to give him some of the medicine, as he felt unwell. Unfortunately, the last bottle was exhausted. He walked to town, and was seized with violent pains near Northumberland House, in the Strand, and on the advice of a friend, went to the Charing-cross Hospital for relief. This occurred on the 6th of this month; on the 8th he expired in that establishment. Some of the medical men hoped that the crisis had passed; but Mr. Williams pointed to the blue marks on his nails. He was convinced, from this discoloration, that he would not survive. He has left a widow and four young children, utterly unprovided for; but his friends are raising a subscription for her support. It is hoped that this melancholy case, really worthy of Christian charity, will excite the sympathy of chess-players in particular. We urge the claims of the widow, the more earnestly, because we are personally acquainted with her truly deplorable position. Her youngest child is only eight months old. She is an amiable lady, deserving of aid in her sad bereavement.>

This correspondent, presumably Staunton, is evidently the source for Hooper & Whyld.

George Walker in <Bell's Life>, and Lowenthal in the <Era>, hold to the alternative scenario - that Williams was taken ill whilst playing in the Divan, and died the same evening.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: From October 1853 (I think) to his end, Williams contributed a chess column to the monthly <Illustrated London Magazine>. Publicity material described him as <the great Chess Player>.
Mar-03-18  zanzibar: <<Ms> From October 1853 (I think) to his end, Williams contributed a chess column to the monthly <Illustrated London Magazine>.>

What's your source for this?

In my columnist notes I have Staunton doing ILN from 1844-1874 as given in a footnote by Sergaent (see 3rd link on blog page under ILN).

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The <ILN> was a weekly; the <ILM>, a monthly, as stated. Two separate publications. The <ILM> only began in 1853; it changed its name some time in 1855.

Here's one of its volumes (post-Williams):

Mar-03-18  zanzibar: Ah, thanks, my mistake then.

I'll add Williams to my list - but I think I still need a ref for the editorship mentioned don't I?

Mar-03-18  zanzibar: RE: <Editorship of ILM>

Winter has this:

<An author and dramatist, Knowles edited the Illustrated London Magazine from 1853 to 1855. For a short time, Elijah Williams edited a chess column for the magazine, and on page 141 of volume one (1853) ...>

C.N. 9099

So Knowles apparently replaced Williams before the latter died.

Mar-03-18  zanzibar: Or maybe not, this can be a somewhat confusing business.

In 1853 Williams was certainly involved, at the start of the column at the very least:

(Cf. the bottom right corner text)

Not sure what primary ref supports the Knowles assertion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <C.N. 9099>

Or even C.N. 9909

Knowles was the general magazine editor. It's not clear who he got to replace Williams, but I doubt he did it himself.

This should make things a lot clearer:

I was mistaken about Williams beginning his column as late as the October 1853 edition.

Mar-04-18  zanzibar: <<Ms>... From October 1853 (I think) ...>

OK, we now know Aug 1853.

<to his end,>

Pretty sure this is also wrong. Likely he only did 3 columns, as documented in the issue.

< Williams contributed a chess column to the monthly <Illustrated London Magazine>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Four columns. The reason for thinking Williams remained as resident columnist until his demise is that his name continued to appear in publicity material for the magazine.
Mar-04-18  zanzibar: < Four columns.> Source please.
Mar-04-18  zanzibar: The reason for not thinking Williams continued as resident columnist: (only 3 entries)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Can't access that on the device I'm currently using. I refer to a fourth column, in March 1854, as mentioned by Clapham.
Mar-04-18  zanzibar: <Clapham>? What dat? (Not common enough to come readily to mind.)

The link I gave is the index of ILM, explicitly mentioning "Elijah Williams" only for three (and only three) Chess entries.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Michael Clapham>, of chessbookchats, linked to above. The index you mention is presumably for volume 1; March 1854 being in volume 2, I suppose.
Mar-05-18  zanzibar: <Ms> I only count 3 confirmed articles.

The rest is hearsay from "uncalibrated" sources.

Let me know when you can access the original, definitive, source.

Mar-07-18  zanzibar: An in-depth look at Williams' tenure at ILM (Illstrated London Magazine):

The complete history of the chess column is outlined.


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: John Townsend has lots of family background on <The Sloth>: C.N. 11424
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <When cholera broke out in London, he posted a notice on his door offering preventive medicine free. Supplies had run out, when feeling unwell, he left home for the last time, seized with violent pain in the Strand, he entered Charing Cross Hospital where he died of the disease two days later, leaving his wife and children destitute.>

This is when chess was for men not wimps.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Bell's Life in London, December 7th 1851, p.5:


MR EDITOR : At the conclusion of the last game in the recent match between Mr Staunton and myself, that gentleman led me to infer that he should mention in the <Illustrated London News> that the loss of the match was in a great measure to be ascribed to the wearisomeness induced by the long time occupied in deliberating over some of my moves. At the time I did not think it worth my while to take any notice of this threat, as it was quite apparent to me that Mr Staunton was somewhat irritated by his defeat. I do not deny the fact that I did take a considerable time over some of my moves. I was quite aware that I had a Staunton to contend against. It was, however, with considerable pain (chiefly on Mr Staunton's account) that I read the statement put forth in the next week's impression of the <Illustrated London News>, reiterating the complaint. Had the matter ended there I should have passed it over in silence, remembering that those who win can afford to laugh. But when I find the same excuse for Mr Staunton's defeat alleged week after week, I fear my further forbearance may be viewed in the light of a total acquiesence in all that Mr S. has urged upon the subject. Now, sir, I beg to assure you that I took no more time over my moves than did Mr Staunton. During the course of our match I can with truth assert that Mr S. several times took upwards of an hour in the consideration of a single move. Upon the occasion of the second day's play of the final game, and that, too, when there were very few pieces on the board, Mr Staunton actually deliberated one hour and three-quarters over a move. Now, sir, it is well known in Chess circles that Mr Staunton, more especially in match games, is one of the slowest of players, and I can refer to many respectable and high authorities for the truth of this statement, particularly with reference to our late Tournament match, properly so called. I will merely add, that it is principally to Mr Staunton that the introduction of this systematic practice of slow play (of which he so inconsistently but justly complains) is attributed in the London Chess circles. - Yours, &c, ELIJAH E.(?) WILLIAMS.

[We purposely give the above without comment. - CHESS ED. <Bell>.]>

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <ELIJAH E.(?) WILLIAMS>

I'm not certain of the middle initial, as the print is slightly blurred. I checked the usual suspects but nobody seems to have a middle name or initial for him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Based on Townsend (, Williams's known London addresses are:

i) November 1850 - 56 Walnuttree Walk, at the time of his marriage to Mary Hodson (his second wife);

ii) March 1851 - the census finds him at the Hodson family home at 32 Dodington Grove;

iii) July 1852 - Surrey Place, according to daughter's baptismal record;

After his death in September 1854, another daughter was baptised in October and his son in November, the two addresses - South Street and Hope Terrace, South Street, respectively - surely refer to the same property.

But was this Williams's address when he died? Townsend apparently missed his burial record at St. Mark's, Kennington (the same parish as where the children were baptised) which states he was buried on September 12th, and gives the final abode as Outwell Terrace, Paradise Row, Stockwell. The only blemish is his age is given as 43, not 44.

An online map for 1860 already calls it <Paradise Road> (Outwell Terrace is there), but that's the earliest I could find, so it's unclear if <Row> is a transcription mistake. The road still exists, in part, at least, but it's all council blocks now. I think this area was bombed during the war.

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