Blue Lick

Jul 26, 2009, 12:06 PM |

Charles Henry Stanley was the first acknowledged U.S. men's chess champion. He also edited the first chess column in the U.S. (in the New York Spirit of the Times in 1845, and one of the first chess magazine in America, the short-lived American Chess Magazine (actually,  both the Chess Palladium and Mathematical Sphinx, a rival magazine edited by Napoleon Marache, and the American Chess Magazine were started in October 1846, the former lasting 3 issues; the latter lasted 8).

Spirit of the Times
June 12, 1847
Chess Player's Chronicle
by C. H. Stanley

We are happy to be informed that a grand muster of the Amateurs of the Western States is appointed to take place at a delightful spot in Kentucky, called "Blue Lick." near Maysville, on the road to Lexington. We sincerely hope that on this occasion, in compliance with an invitation which we are authorized to extend, the Chess players from many of our principal cities in the East and South will be duly represented.  For our own part, although it is highly possible that either engagements may interfere to prevent our bodily presense, we shall at least be with them in the spirit.


In the American Chess Magazine, Stanley covered the chess tournament at Blue Lick, Kentucky, which lasted from Aug. 6-14, 1847.

(Extract from a letter lately received by the Editor, from a prominent member of the Lexington Chess Club.)

"messrs. R., B., T., Judge T., H., myself, and other Kentucky players have appointed our next rally or 'tournament,' to be held at ' Blue Lick,' (near Maysville, on the road to Lexington,) and to commence on Friday, August 6th. We wish the ' fraternity' generally to consider themselves invited to come, and join in the sports. We would be much gratified to have some of the eastern players with us. Can you not join us, with some others of your friends ' A trip to Kentucky at that season, I am sure, would prove interesting, apart from any special matter of interest. Should players from other states honor us with their presence, we will endeavor to afford them some agreeable entertainment; and we will ' do battle' with a hearty good will, for the name and credit of our state, let them whip us as they may.

"The lamented Col. McKee, who fell at the head of his regiment, while leading his men to the 'charge' at Buena Vista, was a member of our club—one of its original founders. He was one of 'nature's noblemen'—no alloy in the metal he was made of. We desire to pay a small tribute of our love and respect, by way of memento; and we think the 'Magazine' the most appropriate medium for its presentation to the public. We hope it may not be incompatible with your views to admit it. Surely, every generous, noble-hearted chess-player will peruse it with a glow of enthusiastic pride, and will commune with us in our sorrow for the loss of so noble a brother."
                                   Very respectfully your friend,
                                                  " E. A. D."



The Lexington Chess Club, desiring to express their respect for their brother member William R. McKEE, Colonel of the 3d Regiment of Kentucky Volunteers, and to pay a just though slight tribute to his memory, request that the following obituary notice may be recorded in the Chess Players' Magazine.
The country at large knows that Colonel McKEE fell at Buena Vista, on the very eve of victory, at the head of his regiment, in the performance of his duty, manifesting all the courage and gallantry becoming a soldier in battle; and while applauding his conduct, they doubtless regret his loss,—but it is reserved for his friends, who knew his worth, to feel the void caused by his death. To ripe scientific attainments and sound judgment, he joined a noble and generous heart, with sociable, courteous, and dignified manners. By a residence of many years in Lexington, he had won the love and gained the confidence of all with whom he associated—and the people of Kentucky sent him to Mexico with the knowledge that he would sustain their character for chivalric daring. Their faith in the man has been justified by tire event. But although he has in the bloody baptism of death confirmed to his native stale, a name which will last while her people seek glory in war, this reflection fails to reconcile his friends to his loss. They mourn the fellow-citizen whose usefulness and enterprise had already done much, and promised to do still more for Kentucky. Cut off in the maturity of his life, they mourn the gentleman with all those qualities of head and heart,—so rarely met with in the same individual—which had knit him and them together in bonds of affectionate union. They mourn the husband, father, son, whose death has robbed the wife of her cherished companion, infant children of their fond parent, and an aged mother of her first-born offspring.
                      J. J. HUNTER, Hon. Sec. Lexington Chess Club.


We have the pleasure of acknowledging the receipt of various communications in relation to the great Chess Meeting at Blue Lick, in Kentucky ; among others, is the following from our old correspondent and friend, Dr. B. I. Raphael:
                                                             Louisville, Aug. 25, 1847. 
                                                             C. H. Stanley, Esq.,

     Dear Sir:—Our 'Tournament,' at Blue Lick, terminated on Saturday, the 14th instant, and was really a glorious affair. Very many players, from different parts of the western country, were present, and all seemed deeply interested in the good cause. You were repeatedly mentioned ; and having had some reason to expect you, we were very much disappointed in not giving you the welcome which we intended.
     We intend, each successive summer, to have a similar meeting, and hope you may find it convenient to meet us next time.
     I herewith enclose some games, occurring on the occasion above alluded to ; as also a short statement, showing the results of various contests among several of our principal western amateurs.
                                      Yours, truly,
                                    B. I. RAPHAEL.

From the statement alluded to as accompanying the above letter, and also from accounts received from Mr. E. A. Dudley, of the Lexington Club, and other valued correspondents, we are enabled to give the following score, exhibiting the various successes achieved, and reverses encountered by several of the most doughty among the western champions, on the checkered field at Blue Lick.

Between twenty and thirty games were played between these gentlemen, who are generally allowed to be the two crack players of the western states; Mr. Dudley having, perhaps, slightly the call. On the present occasion, however, the fortune of war was adverse to her former favorite, and the Doctor "led" his antagonist some five games.

The two principal amateurs of the St. Louis (Missouri) Chess Club, are Messrs. R. Beattie and J. Shaw ; both of whom were handled somewhat roughly by Mr. Dudley. The latter gentleman, indeed, seems to have revenged himself to the full, on "all comers," for the unaccustomed indignity of defeat, put upon him by his friend, Dr. Raphael. lu a match of twelve games with Mr. Beattie, Mr. D. won eleven, and Mr. B. but one ; a further game also played, terminated in a draw. Of twenty-six games played with Mr. Shaw, Mr. Dudley won eighteen, and Mr. Shaw six.

Mr. Beattie succeeded in winning a majority of five games over Mr. Turner, and came out even with Dr. Raphael.
                                                                            Notes to Game


9. Castles, (a)
11. K. Kt. to Kt. fifth. (b)
14. Kt. to K. second. (c)
20. K. P. one. (d)
21. Q. R. to Q. seventh. (e)
(a) Having, certainly, by far the better game.
(b) Should Dr. R. take P. with Kt., Mr. D. would win a Piece, by playing Q. to K. second; as, if Dr. R. should then take B., Mr. D. takes Kt. with Q., checking both K. and B.
(c) We should prefer playing Q. to K. second: in a case of emergency, Q. Kt. could then be moved to Queen's square.
(d) Well played: this Pawn is destined to win the game.
(e) The game might be won more readily, by taking P. with P., checking; and afterwards playing R. to K. sixth..


8. Kt. to R. fourth. (a)
9. Q. to Q. fourth. (b)
15. B. takes R. (check) (c)
16. Kt. takes Q. B. P. (d)
20. Q. P. checks, (e)
22. P. to B. sixth (f)
25. Q. takes R. (g)
(a) Mr. S. has a cramped position, at best; we think, however, that his game would be improved by playing this Piece to Queen's square.
(b) He might also move K. B. to K. second, to great advantage, threatening to unmask a severe attack on adverse Queen, and also to win Knight by the advance of Q. Kt. P.
(c) The attack has been well arranged from the outset, and has been also quietly and steadily proceeded with throughout. Mr. D. has now, obviously, a won game.

(d) K. P. one would be, to say the least, as effective as this play.
(e) Well played, as it most effectually prevents the future egress of adversary's Queen's Bishop.
(f) With the idea of getting up a counter attack; a project which might be successful against a less wary antagonist.
(g) Mr. D. has made all safe at home, and can now with propriety once more resume the offensive. The perpetual check which now follows, will last but for a short time (!)


The first annual state tournament of Kentucky had been held  in Drennon Springs in August of 1846.

Not everyone was impressed with the play at Blue Lick. The American Chess Magazine published this:
For the amusement of our readers generally, and for the benefit of our friends in Kentucky the more particularly, we are induced to transfer the following paragraph, with the game appended, into our pages, from the columns of an Alabama newspaper, entitled "The Talapoosa Gazette."
" Chess.—The amateurs of this fascinating game have recently held a tournament' at the Blue Lick Springs, in Kentucky ; and the papers have presented some specimens of their performance, which, however, do not evince much skill or prowess. We have players in Alabama who would not hesitate to try the best of them a tilt, with one Knight against their two; and had they been present at the "lists" aforesaid, we should have been disappointed (that's all) if that chess-board had not come south of the Tennessee. To the 'dubious,' we commend an examination of the following off-hand game, recently played in this city. The manner in which the second player sets up and conducts a counterattack to the King's Gambit, is as novel as it is strong. The Checkmate given is one of the most curious and beautiful that ever occurred in actual play. Beat it who can ! The performance of the gentleman who managed the Red men, it must be admitted, however, is not up to his ordinary skill."