Edinburgh vs. London, the first CC match!

Edinburgh vs. London, the first CC match!

JG27Pyth
Mar 22, 2009, 12:00 AM |
2 | Amazing Games

I recently stumbled across Jan Van Reek's chess site, which includes a History of Correspondence Chess page and some annotated databases. One finds there a PGN collection of great historical CC games -- including the game given below, which is the decisive game in the first ever CC match between two chess clubs -- Edinburgh vs. London 1824. All the games are highly interesting IMO, but this final game, with its hair-raising reversal/escape by the White King: It's a gem. The excellent and generous annotations are by Jan Van Reek and one of the English players, William Lewis. If you don't check the variations in the move list you'll be missing a good bit.

Oh, and for those of you who complain about slow play here on chess.com -- The 5 games of the Edinburgh vs. London match took 4 years to complete!

The chess set pictured at the right is based on pieces from an ancient set discovered on the Isle of Lewis off the West coast of Scotland.

Here is Mr. Van Reek's Introduction to Edinburgh vs. Scotland (this is cut n' pasted from his annotations to the first game of the match).

  • When chess was a royal game, it was played by crowned heads for leisure. No moves were recorded. Later it was played by the bourgeoisie in coffeehouses. The notation of over-the-board games began in the second half of the eighteenth century. An early good quality game was Count Bruehl - Philidor, London 1783. Competitive chess moved from coffeehouses to exclusive clubs. The Edinburgh Chess Club was founded in 1822. They gathered in the impressive North British Hotel. An ambitious initiative was taken in 1824. The young club challenged the eminent London Chess Club for a correspondence match. This club was founded by Londoners from 'the City' in 1810. Fifteen men formed a committee in Edinburgh. James Donaldson was their star. London's council consisted of twelve men. Their heros were William Lewis and John Cochrane. The Londoners might have met in Tom's Coffee House or the Subscription Rooms of Lewis in St. Martin's Lane. Much controversy developed during the match among the stars on the London side. Edinburgh sent the first move on 23 April 1824. London mailed the move for Black and opened a second game five days later. A historic incident occurred when London wanted to withdraw one of two mailed moves in game two. Edinburgh refused. In my analyses, I show that both moves draw and a third move is needed for the win. Other contemporary authors copy the original views. Jan van Reek. Letters were carried by horse-drawn stage-coaches. A smooth transport was possible because the Roman roads had been flattened. The high mailing costs were paid by the receiver. The match was decided by the best of three games. Draws had to be replayed. Edinburgh won with 2-1. London had to present a silver cup worth 25 guineas. The 'Scots Gambit Cup' still exists. Lewis published five annotated games in a booklet. Some later matches have been selected for this review, but the level of the first one remained unsurpassed in the nineteenth century.

Enjoy.  Bravo, Scotland!

 

 

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