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Saturday, January 1, 2011

Who was Charles Stanley?

     Charles Henry Stanley (Born September 1819, Brighton, England – Died 1901, USA) emigrated from London to New York in 1843 and worked in the British Consulate and was the first US Champion which he won in the first U.S. championship match in 1845 when he defeated Eugene Rousseau of New Orleans. Though this match was considered unofficial, it was no secret it was to determine the best player in America. Rousseau was a French player living in New Orleans. After he beat John Schulten in two matches (1841 and 1843) Stanley was considered to be America's strongest player. The stakes for the Rousseau-Stanley match was $1000. Rousseau's second was Ernest Morphy, Paul Morphy's uncle. Six year old Paul was present at the match also. Stanley won the match easily and decisively with a +15-8 score.

He had considerable influence on US chess by starting a chess column in the newspaper The Spirit of the Times. He also started the short lived American Chess Magazine in 1846 but it soon folded. In 1846 he published the first US book on a chess match, 31 Games of Chess and in 1855 he organized the first World Problem Tournament. He was secretary of the New York Chess Club.
     Stanley was able to hold his own against Staunton at "pawn and 2" odds, beating him in such a match in +3=3-1 in 1841. In 1850 Stanley drew a match with Löwenthal (+3 -3) and in 1852 he drew a match with Saint-Amant (+4 -4). Stanley might have fared much better but for one problem: he was an alcoholic.
     Through this chess column, Stanley met a penniless Hungarian refugee named J. J. Lowenthal, known to be a strong European player, who was a political refugee from Hungary. Lowenthal came to America hoping to become a western pioneer, but the elegantly, cultured Löwenthal was hardly the pioneer type. Stanley and others set him up as chess professional in a cigar divan in Cincinnati, Ohio. Later Löwenthal moved to England and became a Bristish citizen. Before he left, he also managed to lose to 12 year old Morphy in New Orleans.
     By 1857, the year of the First American Chess Congress, Stanley was considered the U. S. Champion but he was also quite destitute as a result of his drinking problem. Paul Morphy won the tournament and after the tournament beat Stanley +4-1 in a casual match while giving Stanley the odds of "pawn and the move." There was no doubt that Morphy was the new U. S. Champion. Morphy, knowing the Stanley family's dire straits, gave his winnings to Mrs. Stanley, claiming he couldn't give it to Charles because "he would have drunk it all up."
     Mrs. Stanley named her next child Pauline after Paul Morphy and Charles Stanley was so impressed that he wrote and published "Morphy's Match Games" in 1859. In 1859, he also wrote, "The Chess Player's Instructor" which was popular enough to go into a second printing the very same year. Then, it was published again in 1880 but under a different title, "De Witt's American Chess Manual."
     In 1860 Stanley returned to England where he edited a chess column in the Manchester Weekly Express and Guardian for two years. He tried to establish a reputation as a player in England but failed to make any impression in either match or tournament play.
     He returned to America in 1862 and after losing a match to George Mackenzie (+1-2), he retired from chess. From 1880 until he died in 1901, Stanley lived in institutions in the Bronx and on Ward's Island State Emigrant Refuge and Hospital.
     Wards Island is located in the East River in New York City. The island is home to several public facilities, including Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center[2] (which serves the criminally insane), and a New York City Department of Environmental Protection wastewater treatment plant. It is also home to Wards Island Park, which offers stunning views, athletic fields, and picnic grounds. During the Revolutionary War the island served as a military post for the British military. In the 1840’s the island had turned into a dumping ground for everything unwanted in New York City. Between 1840 and 1930 the island was used for:
     Burial of hundreds of thousands of bodies relocated from a couple of large city graveyards.The State Emigrant Refuge, a hospital for sick and destitute immigrants. The New York City Asylum for the Insane, opened around 1863. The Manhattan State Hospital in 1899 had 4,400 patients and was the largest psychiatric institution in the world.
     In the following game you can see the style of the day in Stanley’s play…attack. You can also see how poor defensive play was in those days as Schulten missed the best defensive moves on several occasions.

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