We all know that Thomas Wilson Barnes' main claim to chess fame was that he had the best score against Morphy than any of his contemporaries in England [+7-19]. But this claim loses some of its steam with the realization that Morphy himself considered his strongest opponent to have been Samuel Standidge Boden. (P.W.Sergeant wrote, "[Boden], considered by Morphy the strongest of his English opponents and by Steinitz probably the strongest player Morphy met outside his matches").
Ironically, Boden, along with Barnes, Löwenthal, Bird and de Rivière played against Morphy in his only regular (non-blindfold) simul (April 26, 1859) in which Morphy won 2, drew 2 and lost only 1. Boden, who played against the Scotch Gambit, drew his game, but Barnes, who played the Boden-Kieseritsky Gambit in the Petroff's Defense, dealt Morphy his sole loss.
Boden, who was born in 1826 and was 32 years old when he played Morphy, only scored one win against the trans-Atlantic master (along with 4 draws and 6 losses) but apparently Morphy felt that Boden saw more deeply into the game than his other opponents.
Boden has a short but commendable record:
~London Provincial Tournament, 1851 1st place
~Manchester, 1857 4th place (ranking: Adolf Anderssen, Edward Pindar, Johann Löwenthal, Samuel Boden, Daniel Harrwitz, John Soul, Bernhard Horwitz, Robert Brien)
~S. S. Boden vs. John Owen, Match played in London 1858 Boden won [8/11]
~Bristol, 1861 2nd place (ranking: Louis Paulsen, Samuel Boden, William John Wilson, William Wayte, Charles Stanley, Ignatz Kolisch, Bernhard Horwitz,Thomas Inglis Hampton)
Boden was also the chess editor of the Field from 1858 until 1873 when Cecil de Vere took over.
He has had a couple opening variations named for him:
the Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nxe4 4.Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 f6
the Boden Variation in the Ruy Lopez: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5
and, of course, Boden's Mate, named for the mating pattern evident in Boden's 1853 win against R. Schulder:
The rest of this article is totally excerpted various pages of The Chess Players Chronicle, Vol VI, 1882. The wonderful sketch of Boden appeared first in the Westminster Papers, then in this issue of The Chess Players Chronicle.
WITH deep regret — which we feel sure will be shared by every English Chessplayer — we have to announce the death of Mr Samuel Standidge Boden, which took place at his residence — after a short illness of fourteen days, at the comparatively early age of 55 — on the 13th inst. The deceased, besides being one of our strongest English players (second to none), was also gifted with many sterling sociable qualities. He was kind, considerate, and affable to every one, and those who had not the privilege of valuing him as a friend, respected him as a gentleman.
Mr Boden started life as a railway clerk, but he was gifted by nature with a love and talent for art. He practised this outside his ordinary avocation as much as his time would allow. On coming into some property, through the death of a relative, he entirely devoted himself to art. This necessarily left him but little time for Chess and its practice. But in the opinion of connoisseurs Mr Boden in himself combined the highest qualities of a strong player, and we may even go so far as to assert that of all English players he would have stood the best chance of success against Mr Steinitz, on account of his sound and brilliant style, if he had had more practice, and devoted more attention to Chess. This fact shows that exclusive devotion is necessary to the highest excellence in the practice of the game. Mr Boden carried off the principal provincial prize in the tournament of 1851, in which year he published " A Popular introduction to the Study and Practice of Chess." In 1853 and 54 he was a zealous contributor to the "British Chess Review." He conducted the Chess column of the Field for eleven years, from 1858 till 1869. In play he encountered nearly all the players of his time, including Paul Morphy. He also participated in various minor tonrneys, and was one of the most esteemed members of the City of London Chess Clnb. We append one of the games he played with Paul Morphy :
REMARKS. — Having never played this over before, we experienced a feeling of intense pleasure, as we found the game a a very fine and interesting struggle between these masters. What particularly surprised us was the fact that the play presents grand and elaborate struggles for position, to an extent we have hardly over seen equalled, even in modern match play ; at the same time it must be remembered this was but an off-hand game and despite the fact that our modern masters claim to be originators of this style of play. We think all judges will agree that in profoundness the lamented deceased master proved himself in this game the better man. Morphy, however, surpassed his opponent in keenness of attack, as shown in the opening, and on his 24th and 36th move; also in the treatment of an open game. The masterly defence quite justified the high reputation S S Boden, during his lifetime, enjoyed as one of the foremost English Chess players.
THE LATE MR BODEN.
THE following extract from a letter, written in 1847, by a member of the Hull Chess Club, and for sight of which we are indebted to one of our subscribers, will doubtless prove of interest to the many friends and acquaintance of the late Mr S. S. Boden, besides being, in our opinion, a memento worthy of a place in Chess history.
4th November 1847.
"I think I did not name one brilliant player we have here, a member of our club — he is quite young, about 20 — Mr S. Boden, whose name so frequently appears in the Chess Player's Chronicle and Illustrated News, to problems of really first rate genius and excellence, not only in my estimation, but also in that of Staunton, Horwitz, Harrwitz, &c., &c. I have a game with him occasionally, receiving the odds of a Knight ; and, taking 50 as the number we have played at that odds, I believe we are nearly even. Besides his brilliance, he has much depth and originality.
There is this to be said, that for these few years past he has had nothing to do, and that Chess has been his ruling passion night and day almost all the time — indeed, for upwards of a year he has never been well in consequence, and therefore plays but seldom. It is with him that members occasionlly play over openings and variations. The other day, speaking of Chess, he thought the intense delight he formerly took in it had greatly subsided, but that, in his opinion, only improved his style of play, inasmuch as he was the less liable to be carried away with rash and unsound moves, however tempting they might appear."
FROM REMINISCENCES OF THE LATE MR S. S. BODEN.
BY G. A. MACDONNELL, IN W R BLAND'S "CLUB DIRECTORY."
LAST summer, during my absence from London, some foolish jokers propagated a report that I had been suddenly Elijuh-ed to a higher region, no more to revisit mortal scenes. Upon returning to town I heard of this report, and at once sought out Boden, to acquaint him with its falsity. I found him at a restaurant which ho occasionally visited, and, need I say, received from him a most hearty reception. Presently, our mutual friend Mr George Walton made his appearance, and gazed at me with mingled joy and astonishment. "
I knew MacDonnell was not dead," said Boden ; "he'll never die as long as I am alive."
"Why ? " asked G. W.
"Because he knows I am bound to write his obituary ?"
"But," interposed W., " what matter ? Surely you'll do him justice ? "
"Certainly," said B., "and that's what makes him dread it so much."
Here Boden plays the Black side against A. Anderssen in a wild King's Gambit