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William Lewis
W Lewis 
Number of games in database: 27
Years covered: 1813 to 1840
Overall record: +18 -2 =7 (79.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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000 Chess variants (12 games)
C37 King's Gambit Accepted (6 games)
C38 King's Gambit Accepted (4 games)
B21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4 (2 games)

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(born Oct-09-1787, died Aug-22-1870, 82 years old) United Kingdom

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William Lewis was a leading chess teacher. His most famous pupil was Alexander McDonnell. He operated The Turk (Automaton) when it was exhibited in London and was an author who also translated works by Gioachino Greco and Philip Stamma. His "Chessboard Companion" was published in 1838, and ran through 9 editions. In 1821 he won a match in Paris, France against Alexandre Louis Honore Lebreton Deschapelles (who gave him odds of pawn and move) with +1 -0 =2 and in 1838, the weekly magazine Bell's Life called him a Grand Master of chess, the first time the term was known to have been applied to a chess player.

He's also remembered for the counter-gambit 1.e4 e5 2.♗c4 ♗c5 3.c3 d5.

Wikipedia article: William Lewis (chess player)

Last updated: 2017-10-09 04:03:43

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 27  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. W Lewis vs J T Parkinson 1-0481813UnknownC38 King's Gambit Accepted
2. W Lewis vs J T Parkinson 1-0251813BFX unknownC38 King's Gambit Accepted
3. J Wood vs W Lewis ½-½441815Casual gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
4. W Lewis vs J T Parkinson ½-½431816Casual gameC37 King's Gambit Accepted
5. J Sarratt vs W Lewis ½-½411816UnknownC37 King's Gambit Accepted
6. J Sarratt vs W Lewis ½-½341816UnknownC37 King's Gambit Accepted
7. W Lewis vs J Wilson 1-0411819Lewis vs. WilsonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
8. W Lewis vs J Wilson 1-0421819Lewis vs. WilsonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
9. W Lewis vs P Williams 1-0651819London m/1C38 King's Gambit Accepted
10. W Lewis vs NN 1-0211820CasualC38 King's Gambit Accepted
11. W Lewis vs NN 1-0121820CasualC39 King's Gambit Accepted
12. W Lewis vs NN 1-0201820LondonC37 King's Gambit Accepted
13. W Lewis vs A Deschapelles 1-0271821Odds game000 Chess variants
14. W Lewis vs A Deschapelles ½-½351821Odds game000 Chess variants
15. W Lewis vs A Deschapelles  ½-½441821Odds game000 Chess variants
16. NN vs W Lewis 0-1271825UnknownC37 King's Gambit Accepted
17. McDonnell vs W Lewis  0-1421829Odds game000 Chess variants
18. McDonnell vs W Lewis  0-1491829Odds game000 Chess variants
19. McDonnell vs W Lewis  ½-½531829Odds game000 Chess variants
20. McDonnell vs W Lewis  0-1591829Odds game000 Chess variants
21. McDonnell vs W Lewis  1-0361829Odds game000 Chess variants
22. McDonnell vs W Lewis  0-1331829Odds game000 Chess variants
23. W Lewis vs NN 1-0451829CasualC53 Giuoco Piano
24. W Lewis vs NN  1-0231830Odds game000 Chess variants
25. Cochrane vs W Lewis  1-0351840Odds game000 Chess variants
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 27  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Lewis wins | Lewis loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-26-05  Knight13: In 1825 Alexander MacDonnell became a pupil of William Lewis. But soon McDonnell had become so good that Lewis, fearing for his reputation, simply refused to play him anymore.
Nov-28-06  Gioachino Greco: Lewis has as good a claim as Deschapelles to the unofficial "world championship". He was the best player in England from Sarratt's death to MacDonnell's prime, and beat Deschapelles (+1 =2) in a short match when he and Cochrane went to France to try their abilities against the two best French players.

Since Deschapelles peformed better at odds than he did even (witness the match with Cochrane), Lewis may well have been the stronger player.

Dec-22-06  Rubenus: 12 of the 16 games are King's Gambit Accepted! That was the good, old time...
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: As well as the counter-gambit, Lewis also created the following gambit for White in the Bishop's Opening as well:

1. e4 e5 2. ♗c4 ♗c5 3. d4

Source: "Unorthodox Openings", Eric Schiller and Joel Benjamin, Batsford, 1987

Oct-09-08  brankat: Mr.Lewis, in some aspects, was way ahead of his time. R.I.P. Master Lewis.
Jun-28-09  Karpova: From George Walker's ‘Deschapelles, the Chess-King’ (pp.51-53 of "Chess and Chess Players," 1850):

<In the year 1821, Mr. Lewis the writer on chess, went over to Paris, for the purpose of playing a match at Frascati’s with Deschapelles. The necessary arrangements were made by M. la Bourdonnais, as umpire; and the odds of the pawn and move were unwillingly agreed to be yielded by the Frenchman, he wishing to give instead, pawn and two, and to play for a larger sum than his adversary chose to consent to. Of the three games constituting this match, two were drawn, and one was gained by our countrymen [sic]. It is certain that M. Deschapelles was not in play on this occasion; for we find him over-looking winning moves, and in other respects wanting in his usual fertility of resource. He was taken unawares by an opening of the game he had never previously encountered; and, from the fine attack Mr. Lewis invariably acquired thereby, the wonder is that the latter did not gain a more honourable triumph. M. Deschapelles felt his real superiority; and, on the match being over, challenged his opponent to a renewal of hostilities; offering publicly to give him the pawn and two moves in a match of twenty-one games, and play for any sum of money which might be required. Mr. Lewis declined playing a second match, whether at the odds of pawn and move, or pawn and two moves; and was, doubtless, justified in following out the adage of “let well alone.”>

Actually, Lewis answered in the very first issue of "Chess Player’s Chronicle" that if they had ever met again they would've played again on even terms.

Source: Rod Edwars' "Le temps des combats de géants"

Jul-04-09  biglo: <"The question has frequently been asked, whether and how Mr. Lewis played Labourdonnais? They played together on three different occasions, in all seven games, of which Labourdonnais won five and lost two. The first time they met was at the house of Mr. Domitt. Hon. Sec. of the London Club, and two Allgaier Gambits were played, each winning one. As they had just done their duty to a very good dinner, and society was then divided into two, three, and four bottle men, Labourdonnais remarked, ''The victory is not likely to be gained by the better player, but by him who carries his wine best." This reminds me of a ban mot of Mr. Boden. Somebody remarked in his presence that two amateurs (whose names it is unnecessary to mention) were both drunk, though engaged in a match game: he replied—" Then the best player will win." After the conclusion of the two games, Messrs. Mercier,Bonfil and Domitt,particular friends of the English player, challenged Labourdonnais to play Mr. Lewis a match of twenty-five games at £5 a game. This was rather too bad, considering that Labourdonnais, to use his own words, was ' without a friend or a shilling in a foreign country ;" but he laughed the challenge away as a joke in his own witty manner, by saying that "in such case he must be the best player who could offer to play for the highest stake," a reply which so pleased a gentleman present. Mr. Brand, that he cried out. “Labourdonnais shall play Lewis a match of 25 games at £10 a game, and I will find his stakes." It is stated that Mr. Brand evinced considerable ill-feeling towards Mr. Lewis, at the time, in consequence of the latter's preferring a move recommended by Mr. Mercier in the match then pending between the London and Edinburgh Clubs, to one proposed by himself, and perhaps this was the reason for his offering to back the Frenchman against his own countryman. But Mr. Lewis's friends did not accept the challenge, and the two champions confined their contest to five off-hand games, which were played at the residences of Messrs. Bonfil and Mercier. Lewis winning one and Labourdonnais four, so that the final result was:— Labourdonnais, 5—Lewis, 2—Drawn, 0.

The above occurrences took place on the occasion of Labourdonnais's first visit to London, many years before his famous encounters with McDonnell.">

From "Paul Morphy the chess champion" by Frederick Milnes Edge (1859) pp.34-35

Aug-08-09  morphy58: Hi ! everybody.

My post is about a position in Lasker's Manual of Chess :

(Dover blue book, 1960, page 174)
(Russell Enterprises, Inc, 2008, page 145).

I wonder if someone could provide a link for the game.

I did not find the game on and neither on chesslab:

I would like to know where and when the game was played.

Thank you very much.

morphy58 (Montréal, Canada)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: This is the position to which <morphy58> referred:

click for larger view

The game is given as <MacDonnell - Lewis> with White to play, and proceeded:

<1.c4 c6 2.g4? d5? 3. 3.c5 b6 4.b4 d4 5.Re5 bxc5 6.bxc5 h6 7.Kf2 Re7 8.Ke2>, winning the d-pawn and the game easily. Lasker prefers 2.b4 to maintain White's grip, and 2...a5 to eventually break it (2...a5 3.a3 a4).

Oct-09-09  WhiteRook48: how does that break the grip on the rooks?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Black must break the pin, else White will make a passed pawn on the kingside, advance it, and promote after trading everything on e6. The only way to break the pin is by playing ...d5 and ...Kd6.

So White starts <1.c4>. Black can't play 1...d5 2.cxd5 immediately, so must prepare with with <1...c6>.

Now, according to Lasker, White should play 2.b4, eventually reaching a position resembling the game. Once the c-pawn gets to c5 it is supported by the pawn on b4, which can be in turn supported by moving the a-pawn to a3.

After the inaccurate <2.g4?>, Black can stall White's queenside support with 2...a5!, immediately stopping 3.b4. If White tries to support the advance with 3.a3, then 3...a4! gives Black the chance to take en passant.

By the time White could support the b-pawn, Black would have time for ...d5 and ...b6, undermining the c-pawn and enabling him to play ...Kd6.

Oct-09-12  LoveThatJoker: Chess Master Lewis, today you are remembered!


Oct-09-12  ketchuplover: Your chessmen salute thee.
Oct-09-12  jancotianno: He must be the only person i've looked up that has no losses on
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < jancotianno: He must be the only person i've looked up that has no losses on>

Here's another: Gioachino Greco.

Oct-09-12  Oliveira: Only Greco's games on the database are likely to be compositions.
Premium Chessgames Member
  juan31: chess is an art, if there is still doubt about it, the fieldwork Chess of Master William Lewis is an example, his work breaks the barriers of time and in 2012 even admire and discuss their games.
Oct-09-12  TheTamale: Just call today's Player of the Day "The Man Who Never Lost."
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <"The question has frequently been asked, whether and how Mr. Lewis played Labourdonnais? They played together on three different occasions, in all seven games, of which Labourdonnais won five and lost two>

Lewis told von der Lasa that they played more than 70 games. The score is unknown. See Murray's article at <SBC>'s amazing site.

Oct-12-13  thomastonk: On Lewis vs Louis Charles Mahe De La Bourdonnais one can read Lewis' own words in a letter published in the very first volume of the "Chess Player's Chronicle", 1841, p 9 (where he also reports on his games with Alexandre Louis Honore Lebreton Deschapelles and Alexander McDonnell).

I hope the following link works for everyone:

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <thomastonk> Do you know the identity of the "designing person" with bad English and worse taste that Staunton writes about in the succeeding paragraph?
Oct-12-13  thomastonk: <keypusher> No, I don't. The "Sporting Newspaper of Sunday last", to which Lewis refers, is probably "Bell's life", and if so, the replies to the inquiries are due to George Walker. Lewis and Walker were long-term enemies (based on mutual price reduction for every new chess book, if I recall this correctly; some years later the conflict escalated even more). But if Lewis is right, then already the inquiries are faked. I will try to get the relevant issues of "Bell's Life", but this may take a while.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: Gentleman's Magazine for 1855, page 442, 1st column, states that a William Lewis, age 66, died at New Cross. The Dictionary of National Biography for 1893, p. 199, says William Lewis the chess player died at New Cross on Feb 8, 1855. Perhaps another case of a premature obituary.
Oct-03-16  Sally Simpson: Re: Lewis v George Walker and the rift thomastonk: mentions above.

There was some rivalry between Lewis and Walker as to how cheaply a chess book could be produced:-

Lewis brought out ‘Chess for Beginners’ at 5/-,

Walker followed with ‘Chess Made Easy’ in 1837 for 3/6

and Lewis came back with ‘Chess Board Companion’ at 2/6.

Walker gave in at this point, for, “it was clear”,he said, “that if I carried on the war with ‘Chess for the Masses’, at a single shilling, my competitor would rejoin with ‘Chess for the Millions at sixpence”.

Jun-16-20  Sally Simpson: B.C.M. November 1986 in an interview with Gedeon Barcza the chess playing machine by Farkas Kempelen is mentioned.

Barcza thinks it may have been operated by Lewis because Lewis was known to be 'small and hunch-backed. '

More on chess machines here.

The Turk vs A Zerega, 1845 (kibitz #1)

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