Madame Ludovici of Wiesbaden

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"Madame Ludovici, the pioneer of ladies' chess, recently died in Wiesbaden. She was one of the first ladies to  attend the annual chess meetings, and won a prize in the Wiesbaden Tournament as early as 1880. She also  attended the Counties Chess Association Meeting in 1885, and most of the subsequent meetings. Her style of  play was very attacking, she being a devotee of the mode now termed "classical chess play." She visited the  International Ladies' Chess Congress in 1897. It was there that I met this charming woman, who was a sister of  Mr. John Rogers, who for many years was a bosom friend of the late Rev. Mr. Rankin, and an excellent chess- player. Madame Ludovici's name will be remembered with gratitude by her many chess-playing sisters for having  first initiated the idea of women playing in public tournaments." - Womanhood (Rhoda Bowles) 1904


 "HABITUES of the old Counties Chess Association meetings will  learn with regret of the death of Madame  Ludovici, on the 27th July, at Wiesbaden. Madame Ludovici was an English lady residing abroad, sister of  Mr. John Rogers, formerly of St. Albans and the St. George's Chess Club. She attended one of the German  Chess Association meetings as long back as 1877, and commenced attending the Counties Chess Association  meetings at Hereford in 1885. At the Brighton and Woodhall Spa meetings, in 1892 and 1893, she carried off  the Ladies' Cup, presented for competition by Mrs. Rogers; the previous holders of the cup having been Miss  Rudge (once) and Miss Thorold (twice). The following sprightly little game, played in a tournament of the  Wiesbaden Club and awarded a special prize, is highly characteristic of the deceased lady's style of play." - BCM 1904



Although the former Miss Rogers of London lived in Germany with her husband, Mrs. Ludovici came back to England almost every year, starting in 1885, to participate in the Counties Chess Association Congress. Women then, what few participated, were automatically assigned to the Class II section.  Generally Mrs. Thorold and Mrs. Ludovici placed 3rd or 4th in that section. In 1887 Mrs. Ludovici and Miss Thorold played a match for the silver "Rogers Cup," with Miss Thorold receiving the trophy, along with a speech from  Rev. A. B. Skipworth at a public luncheon.  But by 1890 there were six ladies participating: Mrs. Ludovici (3½), Mrs. Iles (4) "who represented the ladies of Lincolnshire, played for the first time in a public tournament, and her score, as is usual on first occasions, was a little disappointing," Miss F. Parkinson (4), "who is a member of the ladies' club at Brighton," Miss Cosham (8), Mrs. Rogers (0) who was Mrs. Ludovici's sister and who donated the trophy "played under persuasion, knowing that she could not be a winner," and Miss Rudge (9½), "whose name is known throughout the length and breadth of the land."  Miss Rudge won the Ladies' Cup and  took 3rd place behind two men, Hollins and MacDonald.

In 1892, 10 women participated. The previous year, Mrs. Thorold had won, but Mrs. Ludovici took the trophy from her. Since so many ladies had entered, over their protest, they were all assigned to a Ladies' division.

In 1893 the Ladies were back competing in Class II. Mrs. Rogers' husband (Mrs. Ludovici's brother-in-law) took first prize in that division. Mrs. Ludovici won the Ladies' Cup. She and Mrs. Thorold each won it twice. Miss Rudge won it once.


Miss Eliza Thorold had been around playing chess for a long time. The Chess Player's Chronicle of 1866 (edited by Löwenthal) mentions Miss Thorold presence with her parents at a chess meeting at Redcar where Miss Thorold won in the ladies' class. She was the sister of Edmund Thorold, "originator of the Thorold Allgaier variations of the King's Gambit." (BCM)


Miss Thorold is mentioned frequently playing at the various tourneys, such as in 1882 where she played for the Bath team and scored 1½ against her opponent, Mr. W. Berry's ½ pt., while Miss Rudge who was on the Bristol team lost 2 games to her opponent Mr. Rumboll, the husband of the Mrs. Rumboll who would later help found the Ladies' Chess Club of London.  Then in 1883, Miss Thorold, although she failed to win, would be the only female participant in the Counties' Chess Association Congress. 
In 1888, Blackburne gave an 8 board blindfold exhibition at Hull. He won 4, drew 3 and lost 1. His loss was to Miss Thorold. Curiously enough, Miss Thorold also died in 1904.


Miss Thorold in 1897