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Posts Tagged ‘California Chess’

California Chess in the 19th Century

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Chess moved west with the earliest wagon trains. Some of the diaries of journeys mention chess play during the long trip. Chess had presumably been introduced in California by the Spanish.

In March 1848, chess sets were advertised for sale in the California Star newspaper.

In March 1849, chess tables were advertised for sale in the Weekly Alta newspaper.

In 1850, a chess room existed at the Stockton Club in Stockton, California.

In 1850, an article appeared in the Sacramento Transcript stating that chess was not a standard for measuring the abilities of your acquaintances, nor a subject for daily toil and nightly meditation. Chess should be simply a recreation.

In 1851, a description of the Sutter Hotel in Sacramento mentioned that the saloon had chess pieces set up on their marble tables.

On July 21, 1851, chess master Pierre Charles Fournier de Saint-Amant (1800-1872) arrived in San Francisco. He was the French consul to California.

In November 1851, the San Francisco Chess Club was formed, meeting in a building at No. 32 Merchant Street. St. Amant gave a chess exhibition there.

In December 1851, the California Institute in San Francisco had a back room with tables for chess players.

In 1852, the Mercantile Library Association was formed. It consisted of a chess room, which was frequented by its members.

The Mechanics’ Institute (on Polk Street) chess club had it first meeting on December 11, 1854. The Institute was incorporated on April 24, 1855.

In 1855, a chess room was established in the Sacramento Club in Sacramento, California.

In 1855, the Pioneer Chess Club was formed in San Francisco. The club met at the Pioneer Association Hall and had about 20 members. The President was Willard B. Farwell. The Vice President was William Rufus Wheaton (1814-1887). Secretary and Treasurer was John H. Gardiner. Other founding members were H. O. Burrows and T. J. Grotjan.

In 1855, the German Chess Club, San Francisco was formed. Its president was Professor William (Wilhelm) Schleiden.

In 1856, The German Chess Club defeated the Pioneer Chess Club in a correspondence match. The German Chess Club won a supper.

In 1856, a chess game between Schleiden and Grotjan was played. It is the earliest recorded game in California.

In December 1856, the Sacramento Chess Club was formed. The officers were Dr. B.B. Brown, President; Joseph Mogridge, Secretary; and Dr. T.B. Baillie, Treasurer.

In December 1856, the San Francisco German Chess Club challenged the San Francisco Pioneer Chess Club in a correspondence match. The moves were published in the local newspapers. The German Chess Club won the game and the match after checkmating in 42 moves.

In March 1857, P. Vertimer was elected President of the Sacramento Chess Club. J. Weston was elected Secretary and Treasurer.

In April 1857, the Sacramento Chess Club (Jackson and T. B. Baillie) challenged the San Francisco Pioneer Club (Shaw and Grotfau). Two correspondence games were played at the same time.

In 1857, Selim Franklin (1814-1884) of San Francisco was on the Planning & Rules Committee for the first American Chess Congress in New York, won by Paul Morphy.

In October 1857, there were four members on the “Committee of Cooperation” of the First American Chess Congress from California. These members were T. B. Baillie, Selim Franklin, T. J. Grotjan, and William R. Wheaton.

In December 1857, a chess tournament was held at the Mercantile Library. Players included R. H. Bacon, Brigham, Castle, Cook, Farley, Goodwin, Hammond, Hunter, Krause, Lapsley, Matthew, Matthews, Miller, Roberts, Seymour, Shaw, Stone, Sullock, Tagliaboe, Wallace, and G. Webb.

In March 1858 there was a California Chess Congress (also called the Pacific Chess Tournament or Grand Chess Tournament). It was the first major chess tournament in California. Three San Francisco chess clubs joined together to host the Congress: the Mechanics’ Institute, the German Chess Club of San Francisco, and the Pioneer Chess Club. The President of the Congress was Selim Franklin. The entrance fee was $5. The spectator fee was $2.50. Ladies accompanied by subscribers were admitted free. On fair days, there were nearly 400 spectators for this tournament.

On March 22, 1858, the California Chess Congress began at the Hall in Hunt’s Building in San Francisco, at the corner of Sacramento and Kearny Streets with 46 players. There were 8 players in the First Class, 26 players in the First Division of the Second Class, and 12 players in the Second Division of the Second Class. Selim Franklin won 1st prize, a gold watch. Edward Jones took 2nd prize, an inlaid rosewood chess table. John S. Ellis won 1st prize in the First Division of the Second Class, a chess set. R. H. Bacon won 2nd prize, a gold specimen watch seal. J.H. Gardiner won 1st prize in the Second Division of the Second Class, a quartz specimen seal. George F. Sharpe won 2nd prize, also a quartz specimen seal. The problem solving tournament was won by William Wheaton, a Staunton chess set.

In October 1858, a chess club was organized in Downieville, California (population 5,000).

In December 1858, the Shasta Chess Club challenged the Yreka Chess Club in a correspondence game. Well Fargo was used to bring the moves each trip.

On January 18, 1859, the Cosmopolitan Chess Club was formed in San Francisco on Montgomery Street. Its President was Daniel S. Roberts. Vice President was William Schleiden. Secretary was Washington Bartlett. Treasurer was Thomas Bull. Directors included John S. Ellis, John Shaw, John H. Gardiner, Herman Siering, and Thomas D. Johns. There were about 150 members and was at one time the largest chess club in the United States.

From May to July 1859, the Cosmopolitan Chess Club had a chess tournament. Tyler won the event.

In 1859, a chess tournament was held during the California State Fair in Sacramento.

In 1860, the Olympic Club opened in San Francisco. It was one of the best gymnastic clubs in the country. It also had a chess room.

In 1861, the Mercantile Library Association had a large and beautiful chess room for the accommodation of its members. It had 16 chess tables with daily and nightly chess players playing chess.

By 1868, the Mercantile Library had 20 chess tables.

In 1869, the San Francisco Mercantile Library advertised that chess, reading and lounging were the correct thing to do at the comfortable rooms of the library during the cold season.

In January 1872, an executive committee was formed at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club. It included J. Browning, A.L. De Laguna, W.J. Stoddart, William Stout, and P. L. Webb.

In May 1872, the Mechanics Institute chess tournament was won by William P. Stout, followed by John Stone and A. Summerfield.

In December 1873, the San Bernardino chess club challenged any chess club in Los Angeles.

On Jan 6, 1874 the annual meeting of the Mechanics’ Chess Club elected its officers. They were: President, W.P. Stout; VP, L. Summerfield; Treasurer, J. Browning; Secretary, W. Freer; Editor, W.W. Smith.

In December 1874, a meeting to form a chess club at the Sacramento Library did not have enough people to justify a chess club.

In 1875, a chess player asked the board of directors of the Los Angeles library whether anything in the bylaws prevented people from playing chess on Sundays.

In the fall of 1879 a chess club was started in Livermore, California.

In 1880, the Los Angeles Athletic Club was founded, 226 South Spring Street. It included a chess room.

In 1881 a Mercantile Library chess team (one of the players was Joseph Redding) played a match against the Mechanics’ Institute chess team.

In 1881, Professor Fritz Peipers (1844-1918), a music teacher, played four boards blindfolded simultaneously in San Francisco. He won all 4 games.

In 1882, chess players in Los Angeles met at Paynes & Stanton’s Photograph Gallery. There was also a chess room apart from the general library at the Los Angeles Public Library.

On January 5, 1884, the Argonaut, a weekly literary magazine published in San Francisco, began a chess column edited by J. Fennimore Welsh. It was the first regular chess column on the Pacific Coast. Mr. Welsh was succeeded by J.E. Tippett, who conducted the chess column, called “The Chess-Player,” from 1884 to March 6,1886. Tippett later moved to Boston. It was later edited by Dr. H. J. Ralston (1906-1993).

In 1884, Johann Zukertort (1842-1888) spent a month in San Francisco, giving some simultaneous chess exhibitions from July 2 to 25. His visit was arranged by Joseph D. Redding (1858-1932) and J. E. Tippett.

On July 3, 1884, Zukertort played 7 games at the Mercantile Library, winning 6 and losing 1. He lost to J. F. Welch.

On July 8, 1884, Zukertort played 12 boards blindfolded at Irving Hall (139 Post Street). He won 9, lost 2, and drew 1. He played against Joseph D. Redding, Herman Heineman, E. Yerworth, Dr. B. Marshall, L. Van Vliet, Selim Franklin, Jules Holstein, Fritz Pipers, F. Waldstein, M. Critcher, R. Oakley and J. F. Welch. He lost to Redding and Welch. He drew his game with Waldstein.

A few days later, Zukertort played 9 players.

On July 21, 1884, Zukertort defeated Selim Franklin in a chess game played at the Chess Room of the Mechanics’ Institute.

Joseph Redding won three games from Zukertort in July 1884 at the Mechanics’ Institute and claimed the California championship in 1884-85. Redding became president of the San Francisco Art Association in 1886.

Zukertort was paid $354.50 for his chess exhibitions fees while in San Francisco.

On April 18, 1885, the Golden Gate Chess Club was formed in San Francisco. Its president was Dr. Benjamin Marshall, a correspondent of the San Francisco Chronicle. Vice President was N. Manson; secretary was Fritz Peipers; treasurer was F. Waldstein. The first Golden Gate Chess Club champion was Waldstein. Other top players were Manson, Peipers, and Seligsohn.

In August 1885, J. Waldstein won a tournament held at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club followed by N.J. Manson, Fritz Peipers, and Seligsohn. First place prize was a $20 chess set.

A second tournament in 1885 was held at the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club and was won by H. I. Heinemann, who won 8 straight games. His prize was an oil painting of Tampa Bay, Florida, valued at $100. The other players in the tournament included Halwegan, Hansom, Lynch, Richard Ott, Peck, Peipers, Redding, Reis, Scott, and Van Vliet. An additional prize of one year’s subscription to the British Chess Magazine was offered by the chess editor of the Argonaut for the most brilliant game of the tournament.

In June-July 1886, a match was played between Van Vliet and Joseph D. Redding. Van Vliet won the match.

In February-March 1887, a match was played between Louis M. Van Vliet and J. H. Jefferson in San Francisco. Van Vliet won the match.

Earlier San Francisco players included Montgomery, Wise, Franklin, J. H. Jefferson, Welsh, Van Vliet, Holstein, Carey and Shipman.

In May 1888, San Francisco was visited by leading British chess player George Hatfeild Dingley Gossip (1841-1907). Gossip played several games with J. Redding.

In October 1888, the Sacramento Chess Club was formed. Officers included Professor J.C. Bainbridge, President; G. W. Railton, Vice-President; Edward D. Tesreau, Secretary-Treasurer; Miss R.R. Patton, Edward R. Marcus, H. O. Gregory, and L. F. Griffin, Trustees. There were over 20 club members.

In 1888, Redding won a San Francisco tournament by beating Dr. B. Marshall and Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove (1869-1956). Redding was called the Pacific Coast chess champion in local papers.

In 1889, Redding won a telegraph match played against the entire Sacramento Chess Club.

In 1889 Dr. Walter Romaine Lovegrove defeated Crichton in a match held in San Francisco.

In September 1890, the automaton Ajeeb was at the Mechanics’ Institute Fair in San Francisco. It took on all comers in chess and checkers. It was also exhibited at the State Fair at Sacramento.

In 1891, the Los Angeles Chess Club moved to the Wilson block in Los Angeles where they had comfortable quarters.

In 1891, Walter R. Lovegrove won the first California chess championship. He won a match from Joseph D. Redding (1858-1932), who claimed the championship of the Pacific Coast. The claim was based in a magazine article by Johann Zukertort that Redding was the best player on the Pacific coast. Lovegrove won by the score of 7-1.

In February 1891, Jackson Whipps Showalter (1860-1935), 5-time U.S. chess champion, visited San Francisco and gave some chess exhibitions at the Mechanics’ Institute. He said that the chess players in San Francisco were stronger than those of Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

In November 1891, the San Francisco Chess and Whist Club was organized. The club officers were: Joseph D. Redding, President; P. J. Tormey and H. J. Summerhayes, Vice-Presidents; M. F. Clafling, Secretary; A. S. Baker, Treasurer; S. A. Foster, G. S. Simons, and R. Kindrick on the Governing Committee. The dues were $1 a month. The club met at the Supreme Court Building at Larkin and McAllister streets.

In March 1892, chess players of the Mechanics’ Institute and the Chess, Checker and Whist Club got together to organize a chess tournament. Dr. Marshall presided.

In December 1892, several living chess games were played during the evenings at the Mechanics’ Institute in association with the World’s International Candle Contest and Baby Show.

In February 1893, there was a resolution to close the chess room in the Oakland library. The chess players were becoming a nuisance. Men came and played chess all day and requested the privileges of smoking in the library while playing chess. The final straw was when a group sat there morning til night and finally asked to be provided with a deck of cards.

In March 1893, a University of California at Berkeley Chess Club was formed. The president of the club was R. H. Parkhurst (died in 1953).

In March 1893, a chess club was organized in Mill Valley, with Mrs. L. E. Bundy chosen as President.

After winning the U.S. championship match against Showalter, Samuel Lipschuetz (1863-1905) gave up his New York printing business and moved to Los Angeles, California in 1893, thinking its climate would be healthier for him. Upon his departure, Showalter re-claimed the vacant title.

In the early 1890s a whist and chess club was formed in Vallejo.

In 1894, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club chess champion was Walter Lovegrove.

In August 1894, Lipschutz gave a 20-board simultaneous exhibition at the Athletic Club in Los Angeles.

In 1894 Lovegrove visited Los Angeles where he met and beat Samuel Lipschutz by the score of 3.5-0.5.

In September 1894, a chess match was held between the Los Angeles Athletic Club (H. Jones-Bateman, W. G. White, C. F. Pierce, C. A. Miller, and H. J. Hastings) and the Los Angeles YMCA and 2nd and Broadway (J. H. Cook, D. F. Sheldon, G. E. Scammon, R. B. Howell, and J. B. Smith). The Athletic Club won the match by the score of 27.5 to 22.5

In December 1894, C. F. Pierce won the chess championship of the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

From February to December 1894, a Southern California chess correspondence tourney was held. C. F. Pierce of Los Angeles took 1st prize. Arthur Johnston of Santa Ana took 2nd prize. C. W. Waterman of Los Angeles took 3rd prize. Other Southern California players included: Bateman, Walter Bennett, Candler, R. L. Cuzner, Johnson, A. Johnston, H. Jones, H. Kerchkovv, C. A. Miller, L. Morris, Peipers, Sheldon.

In 1895, Lipschuetz edited a chess column in the Los Angeles Herald.

In 1895, a chess club was organized in San Diego.

In 1895, a series of games was played for the Los Angeles chess championship between C. F. Pierce and L. S. Candler.

In February 1895, Lipschutz played 15 players simultaneously at the Athletic Club in Los Angeles, winning 14 and losing 1, to A. Johnson.

In May 1895, a cable match was planned between San Francisco and Victoria, Canada, but the cable broke.

In May-June 1895, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club played a cable match against the Victoria Chess Club in British Columbia.

In June 1895, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club played a cable match against the Vancouver, British Columbia Chess Club. The San Francisco team of Kendrick, Redding, and Franklin won.

In June-August 1895, a chess tournament was held at the Mechanics’ Institute. The event was won by George R. Thompson.

In July 1895, a telegraph match was held between the Mechanics’ Institute in San Francisco and Seattle.

On August 3, 1895, San Francisco played Seattle in a telegraph match. San Francisco (Kendrick and Lovegrove) won 2 games and drew a 3rd game (Howe).

In the 1896, the Pickwick Club was formed in Los Angeles which included chess play and chess tournaments.

In 1896, a chess club was formed at Stanford University. Officers included C. Serpas, C. J. Dulley, and B. Block.

In 1896, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club champion was Walter S. Franklin.

In 1896, promoters of chess in the Los Angeles area included Edmonson, Gruendike, Hurdig, Kernaghan, Lockwood, Orban, Stoutenberg, Thomas, and Ward.

In January 1897, a telegraph re-match was played between the Mechanics’ Institute and the Victoria, British Columbia Chess Club. The game was a draw. The Mechanics’ Institute players were Rodney Kendrick, Walter Franklin, Oscar Samuels and Valentine Huber.

In February 1897, the Pasadena Chess Club was organized. Officers were John B. Stoutenburg, president, and Rev. W. H. Ratcliffe, secretary and treasurer.

In March 1897, a chess tournament was held at the Los Angeles YMCA between 12 of the leading players in Los Angeles. Among the leading players were Sibble, Pierce, Chandler, Griffin and Stone.

In April 1897, the first intercollegiate chess match between Stanford and Berkeley was held.

In 1897, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club champion was Oscar Samuels.

In 1897, the Sacramento Chess Club, an annex to the Sacramento Whist Club, was formed and Dr. G. Dixon was its first president. Presley B. Johnson was its secretary.

In 1897, a movement had been started by President De Laguna of the University of California Chess Club to arrange an intercollegiate contest with Stanford.

In March 1897, the University of California at Berkeley Chess Club defeated the Stanford University Chess Club.

In 1897 a telegraph match was being negotiated between the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard. H. W. Lewis, champion of Harvard during 1894 and 1894, had been in San Francisco representing Harvard in making the arrangements. A San Francisco newspaper volunteered to furnish the telegraph for the match. Harvard later declined the challenge.

In 1897 the Berkeley College Chess Club was organized. Its club champion was R. H. S. Parkhurst.

In December 1897, the U.C. Berkeley Chess Club defeated the Episcopalian Chess Club of San Francisco.

In January 1898, the Sacramento Chess and Whist Club completed its first chess tournament. The winner was Colonel R. L. Peeler, followed by A. S. Wallin.

In March 1898, the University of California Chess defeated by the score of 4.5 to 1.5.

In 1898 the Capital City Chess Club, an annex of the Sacramento Whist Club, was formed. Members included William W. Macfarlane, A. S. Wallin, Joseph Bailey, John W. Barrett, Mrs, J. W. Barrett, James Morris, Alvin J. Bruner, Thomas A. Pudan and George A. Bryon.

In November 1898, the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club champion was Walter Lovegrove after a play-off with J. O. Chilton.

In February 1899, the San Francisco Chess and Whist Club defeated the University of California Berkeley Chess Club by the score of 7-3.

On May 30, 1899, a telegraph match was played between the San Francisco Chess and Whist Club and the Seattle Chess Club. It was won by San Francisco. Members of the San Francisco team included Rodney Kendrick, A. J. Kuh, Dr. W. R. Lovegrove, N. J. Manson, J. J. Dolan and Oscar Samuels. Seven games were played. San Francisco won 3, drew 3, and lost 1.

In 1899, J. J. Dolan won the annual handicap chess tournament of the Mechanics’ Institute.

In July 1900, the Los Angeles Chess, Checker and Whist Club, was organized and located at the Pacific Railroad Building, 316 W. Fourth Street in Los Angeles. The strongest player at the time was probably Charles W. Waterman (1846-1915) of Los Angeles. The club had over 40 members.

In October 1900, C. W. Waterman won the championship of the Los Angeles Chess, Checker and Whist Club. 2nd place went to Robert B. Griffith (1876-1937). Griffith was a former University of Pennsylvania Chess Champion.

In November 1900, the annual handicap chess tournament of the Mechanics’ Institute began. Some of the players included Dr. Marshall, Lovegrove, Neville, Lyon, Torres, Jones, Chilton, Huber, Sternberg, Daner, Denton, Palmer, Parker and J. J. Dolan.

– Bill Wall (California resident for 15 years)

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