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Thursday, February 27, 2014

The first Ladies' International Chess Congress

Glamorous ladies of the congress
     …was played under the management of the Ladies' Chess Club, of London, was finished July 3, 1897.  The schedule was two rounds with one evening being devoted to the adjourned games.
     It was one of the most successful tournaments in the history of the game, no friction occurred, everything went on with the regularity of machinery and the Congress was a credit to the executive ability of the able match captain of the club, Mrs. Rhoda Bowles.
     Games were commenced at the Hotel Cecil, in the Masonic Hall, on June 23, hours of play being from 1 to 5 and 7 to 11 P. M. The hall had only been engaged for six days and the concluding rounds were played at the home of the club in the Ideal Cafe, Tottenham Court Road.
     During the tournament it was announced that M. Eschwege, father of one of the contestants, had offered four gold medals as consolation prizes for those below the money prize winners. The full scores and distribution of prizes were as follows :
1)   Miss Rudge, London ($300)
2) Signorina Fagan, Italy ($250)
3) Miss Thorold, London ($20o)
4) Mrs. Harriet Worrall, Brooklyn, NY, USA ($150)
5) Madame Marie Bonnefin, Belgium ($100)
6-7) Mrs. Barry, Ireland and Lady Thomas, London (divided $75)
8-9) Miss Watson and Miss Gooding
10-11) Mrs. Sidney and Miss Hooke
12) Miss Fox
13) Frau Hertzsch
14) Miss Eschwege
15) Frau Muller- Hartung
16) Madame De la Vigne
17) Miss Forbes-Sharp
18) Mrs. Stevenson
     The longest game of the tournament was 90 moves, and the shortest ended in a mate in 9 moves.
     The American Chess Magazine commented, “It is really the entry of women into chess club life. It is reasonable to expect that women will work reforms in chess clubs that they have in all other lines where they have gained the right to equal competition.”
     “Miss Mary Rudge, winner of the first prize, is a well-known London player, ranking in chess strength with the first class of the leading men's clubs. She is past middle age and has had a large experience in chess. Her record is very fine and stamps her as a steady player. She won first prize in a minor tournament at Clifton last year, and while considered one of the best players in this Congress she was not expected to make such a fine score.”
     “Mrs. Fagan, the Italian representative, winner of the second prize, is a sister of the well-known English amateur, Dr. Ballard. Miss Thorold is also of a chess family, her brother being the originator of the Thorold-Allgaier variations of the King's Gambit.  Mrs. Worrall is well known to American players and her victory will be a gratification to her friends. Lady Thomas is a middle-aged lady of matronly appearance; she won first prize in the ladies' section of the Hastings tournament in 1895. Miss Field is one of the younger players of the Congress, steady and with good judgment.”


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