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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Anglo-American Cable Matches

     The Anglo-American cable chess matches were a series of yearly matches between teams from the United States and Great Britain conducted over transatlantic cable from 1896 to 1911, except for the three-year gap of 1904 to 1906 when no matches were held. The series was closely contested, with each team winning six matches and one match being drawn. The individual game total over the series was also even (+39 −39 =50). 
     The series ended when Great Britain won their third consecutive match, thereby earning permanent custody of the silver cup provided by Sir George Newnes. Prominent players from both countries competed: Joseph Blackburne, Amos Burn, Henry Bird, Henry Atkins, Horatio Caro, James Mason, Frederick Yates, Sir George Thomas, and Thomas Lawrence for Great Britain and Harry Pillsbury, Jackson Showalter, Frank Marshall, Albert Hodges, Eugene Delmar, and John Barry for the United States. 
     With travel difficult and expensive, chess clubs began to play games by mai well known examples being between Edinburgh and London from 1824–1828 and between Paris and various other cities in the 1830s and 1840s. Individual correspondence chess did not become popular until postage rates declined to more affordable levels. 
     Development of the telegraph made a new technology available and the first known match by telegraph was between Washington and Baltimore in 1844. Other early matches were Liverpool versus Dublin in 1861, Liverpool versus Calcutta in 1880–1881, London versus Petersburg in 1886–1887, Petersburg versus Paris in 1894–1895, and Petersburg versus Vienna in 1898–1899. These matches were not played in one session, but were conducted over a longer time period as in chess played via mail. 
     The first attempt at a single session cable match and the direct predecessor of the Anglo-American series was a match between the British Chess Club and the Manhattan Chess Club on March 9, 1895. Only one of the ten games concluded by the time the London hall was required to close, a draw being agreed. Emanuel Lasker, charged with adjudicating unfinished games, suggested draws on the nine remaining boards and this was acceptable to both clubs. 

Anglo-American results:
1896  - US 
1897  - Great Britain 
1898 - Great Britain 
1899  - US 
1900 - US 
1901 - tie 
1902 - US 
1903 - US 
1904-1906 - no matches due to other demands for cable traffic and technical difficulties
1907 - Great Britain 
1908 - US 
1909 - Great Britain 
1910 - Great Britain 
1911 - Great Britain 

     Today's game is from the third (1898) match. The US teams played in the assembly room of the Academy of Music in Brooklyn and the British players were in the Gran Hall of the Hotel Cecil in London. Baron Albert de Rothschild of Vienna was the referee for the third time. Leopold Hoffer, of London, was the umpire for the American team at the Cecil Hotel and Professor Issac Rice was the umpire for the Americans at the Academy of Music in Brooklyn. Emanual Lasker served as adjudicator. 
     The match began at 9:30 am US time on March 18th and continued until 6:30 pm on March 19th. Moves were transmitted by the Commercial Cable Company. In many cases moves and messages were sent within a few seconds and there were not delays. After the mandatory friendly greetings the lineup was cabled as follows. US team listed first; white in bold. 

1-Pillsbury vs. Blackburne. A QGD where Blackburne played the opening very carefully but Pillsbury, with a slight advantage, could not find a way to make use of it. Draw. 
2-Showalter vs. Burn. A QGD where Showalter played a gem of a game. A neat 11-move tactical sequence resulted in Showalter gaining several Ps. Showalter won. 
3-Barry vs. Caro. A QP Opening which despite Caro's stubborn resistance Barry won. 4-Hymes vs. Atkins. A lawyer, Edward Haymes played infrequently and with remarkable skill managed to hold Atkins to a draw. 
5-Hodges vs. Bellingham. This game was a long one, 85 moves, with Bellingham fighting to draw in a complicated struggle, but Hodges finally manged to win. 
6-Delmar vs. Mills. Delmar, playing the French Defense as black, was badly outclassed after his novelty of 3...Ne7 backfired. Mills won. 
7-Baird vs. Locock. Baird had lost to the same opponent in the first match in a way that hurt his prestige, but in this game, slow and stubbornly fought, he managed to draw. 
8-Young vs. Jackson. This was an Irregular Defense in which Young fianchettoed his c8B, avoiding 2...d5 transposing into a proper French Defense, because he believed it lead to a loss by black! The result was Young was badly outclassed by the British amateur who scored a crushing defeat. Young claimed the fast time limit (20 moves per hour) hurt his play. This game is given below. The opening was not bad though. The opening moves were played in a recent Caruana - Nakamura game. 
9-Robinson vs. Jacobs. The opening seemed to leave Robinson befuddled, but the game was fairly well played with Jacobs finally scoring the win. 
10-Galbreath vs. Trenchard. Another hard fought game. Galbreath gave Trenchard his chance in the early middlegame and it was all over. Trenchard won. 
Final Score: US 4.5, Great Britain 5.5 

     For those that are interested, the Public Television's The American Experience has a good history of the laying of the Transatlantic Cable HERE. Edward Winter's site has some fascinating information on Franklin K. Young HERE. I was unable to locate any information on Edward M. Jackson.

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