The Brooklyn Chess Club

Sep 2, 2009, 8:13 PM |

I was trying to find out about Daniel S. Roberts who was considered one of the strongest players in America around Paul Morphy's time, but who never occasioned to play the American Champion.  There's really nothing odd about the fact they never played since Roberts lived in San Francisco.

Oddly, David Lawson in his biography of Morphy gave this drawing with the title,
                                         Morphy's American Opponents

     Standing: Daniel S. Roberts, Charles H. Stanley, James Thompson
     Sitting: George Hammond, Thomas Loyd, Colonel Charles Dillingham Mead, 
                  Hardman Philips Montgomery, Frederick Perrin, Napoleon Marache.
                  (William James Appleton Fuller is cut off on the right).

At the time of this 1856 drawing D. S. Roberts lived in Brooklyn and was president of the Brooklyn Chess Club.  That was also the year he moved to San Francisco, Otherwise he may have played in the 1857 Chess Congress won by Morphy.

 The only references I could find on and "D. S. Roberts" in Brooklyn prior to 1856 were in some ads in the 1850 Brooklyn Eagle:
                                   [Alex.] Campbell & [D.S.] Roberts
                                           Attornies and Couselors
                                                  San Francisco
                                          apply to J. L. Campbell
                                           307 Fulton St. Brooklyn

The May 31, 1853  edition of the Brooklyn Eagle tell us that Roberts was not yet President of the club at that early date:
   The Brooklyn Chess Club - The second annual reunion of this flourishinb society took place last Thursday evening when the following officers were chosen for the ensuing year: -- Walter K. Paye, President : Robert M. Jenkins, Secretary.  The President, in the course of a few remarks, alluded to the attention, bestowed upon chess within a few years  past throughout Europe.  He commented upon the advantages conferred upon members in the cultivation of a taste for this refined recreation l in view of which he was exceedingly happy to refer to the prosperous condition of the club ; and if the past was a guarantee for the future, he felt assured that the society would son take its place as one of the institutions of our city. A committee was appointed to select a suitable room for the accomodation of the club, which will be furnished in the neatest manner and provided with the proper requisites.  We understand that it is their intention to have it open to members upon one evening in every week, for contests.

     But in the  March 11, 1859 issue, a brief history of the Brooklyn chess club (presumably written by Thomas Frere)names Roberts as the President until 1856:
    Chess in Brooklyn  -  A fitting opportunity presents itelf, on the commencement of our chess column, to give a short sketch of the
introduction and increase of public chess playing in our city.  On the 8d of October, 1855, through that instumentality of the writer a meeting was of chess amateurs was held at Matnque Hall for the purpose of establishing a Ches Club.  The result of that meeting was the organization of the Brooklyn Chess Club which has continued in successful operation until the present and is now, without any exception, the largest Chess Club in the United  States.  We had the honor to be elected the first President but declined the office, prefering that of Secretary, which position we held uninteruptedly to the present time.  Thomas Nichols, Esq., of Brown Brothers & Co., was elected President,  Thomas Hamilton, Esq., now of St. Louis, was chosen Vice President, in which offices these gentlemen served through the first year.  The meetings of the Club were held at Montague Hall.  The principle players were, besides the officers, Messrs, Samuel Stewart, Jas. Eschweye, J.M. Burnett, James Kirkpatrick, and Charles W. Schuffuer.  On the 1st of September, 1856, the place of meeting of the Club was changed to the house of the Secretary, No. 61 Joralemon street, where the club continued to meet until the following Fall.
     Daniel S.Roberts, Esq., one of the finest chess players in the country, now in San Francisco, was proclaimed President by
unanimous accord, and held such position until his departure for the Pacific.  Among the acquisitions of members of the Club during the season were Messrs. Henry R. Worthington, Wm. Kind, Hubert Knott, Wm. Horner, Frederick Scmidt, Jacob Philip, D.S. Hines, and some others.  In the fall of 1857, the place of meeting of the Club was again changed to the rooms of Mr. Grautegela [sp.?], No. 130 Atlantic street.  During this season, quite a number of names was added to the list of members -- among others, Messrs. Hicks, Greau, Rerault, Paine, Talk, Wilhelm McArthur, Hinde, Cowing, Hull, Gillet, Richardson, and
   On the 16th of October, 1858, the Club removed to its present place of meeting, on the corner of Court and Remsen streets,
where it has simple accomodations, and now numbers . Frederick Perrin, Esq., was unanimously elected President ; Thos. Frere, Secretary, and Charles W. Schuffuer, Treasurer.  On the present list of members are the names of many players of the first class, among whom are Mssrs. Perrin, Marache, Horner, Weekes, Seebach, Loyd, Philip, Galop, Kind, Thompson, Teton, Hinde, Rice, Dr. Arming, Speigle, Dr. Hawes, Bally, Gardner, Richardson, Clark, Chadwick,
Myers and others too numerous to mention.  Thus has Chess Playing increased in Brooklyn.
   The annual dues to the Brooklyn Chess Club as now organized are but $2.  All interested in the game are invited to enroll their
names as members.

The wonderful chess historian, John S. Hilbert, wrote a couple pertinent pieces published in Mechanics' Institute Chess Room Newsletter (#134 and #135).  In the articles he mentions a tournament held in San Francisco between the German Chess Club of San Francisco, and the Pioneer Chess Club and the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club. D. S. Roberts was not only on the management board, but also supplied some scores to Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. This California Chess Congress, as it was referred to, took place in March, 1858 - just shortly aften the completion of the American Chess Congress. Of the eight players in the "First Class" section, Selim Franklin, Charles Sutro, ,Edward Jones, E. Justh, Daniel S. Roberts, Wilhelm Schleiden, John Shaw and Philip Kalkman.
     Concerning D. S. Roberts, Mr. Hilbert wrote: "Daniel S. Roberts, who prior to moving to California had been elected President of the Brooklyn Chess Club, in 1856, was
considered another of the favorites in the event. He had been required to move to California just before play began at New York 1857, and his presence on the West coast and his chess connections back east were largely responsible for coverage of the California Chess Congress making its way to The Chess Monthly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Indeed, as reported, Roberts was at the time of the California Congress still president of the Brooklyn organization."

  In the final round of the First Class tournament, Roberts was beaten out in a closely contended match with the other favorites, Selim Franklin who was also President of the Congress. Oddly, though, the only surviving games between the two are wins by Roberts:

Mr. Hilbert gave a series of non-tournament game scores played between Roberts and Franklin, as well as a note from a Chess Monthly  correspondent in 1861 saying, " 'A few months since, Mr. Salem [sic] Franklin, the winner of the first prize in the Tournament of 1858, and who is now residing in Victoria, V.I., paid us a visit. During his stay here he was daily at the Chess Room, and contested a number of games with our strongest players, the result giving him a slight advantage over all excepting Mr. Roberts, with whom the score was about even. Mr. Franklin's style is cautious and defensive. His motto seems to be 'slow and sure.'  Indeed, his somewhat excessive slowness at times, furnishes his vanquished antagonists with an excuse, which certain great match-players have not hesitated to make use of when smarting under defeat."

. . . attesting to Daniel Robert's skill.

Meanwhile, back in Brooklyn-

Brooklyn Eagle, June 17, 1859
Morphy in Brooklyn-
Paul Morphy visited Brooklyn yesterday afternoon at the invitation of the Broklyn Chess Club; dined with the Club at the house of Mr. T. Frear [sic], and in the evening went to theClub-room, corner of Court and Remsen streets, where he played two games with Mr. H. H. Knott, the best player in Brooklyn, gave him the odds of a "Queen's Knight" and beat him easily ; did the same thing by Mr. N. Marasche [sic], another crack player ; gratified the curiosity of a number of people who crowded the Club-room to see the lion, and then retired.

Brooklyn Eagle, Oct 30 1860
Great Chess Match Between Brooklyn and New York.
A Chess Match has been arranged between five players of the Brooklyn Chess Club and five of the New York Club. They are to be paired off, each pair to play three games exclusive of draws, the club winning the greatest number of games to be declared the victors. The match is to be played partly in New York and partly in Brooklyn.  The gentlemen selected to represent the Brooklynites are: Messrs F. Perrin, N. Marache, Horner, B. Rice, and Endall.  The New York club, we understand, have chosen Messrs. Lichtenhein, Thompson, Loyd, Michaelis and Barnett, to be their champions.

Brooklyn Eagle, Oct. 5, 1861
The Brooklyn Chess Club - At a recent meeting of the Brooklyn Chess Club, the following gentlemen were elected officers for the ensuing year:
- Mr. Frederick Perrin, President ; Mr. Bernard, Vice-President ; Mr. Alfred Thompson, Treasurer, and Mr. William Horner, Scretary. The Club has removed to its new quarters, No. 14 Court St., room No. 27.  The room wil be opened on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday evenings of each week.

Brooklyn Eagle, Sept. 30, 1862
The Brooklyn Chess Club will hold their first meeting at the Roanoke Hotel, No. 160 Montague street, on Wednesday next, Oct. 1st,  at 8 P.M.  Memebers and gentelmen desirous of joining the club are respectfully requested to be present.         (signed) Frederick Perrin, President.

Brooklyn Eagle, July 15, 1870
A chess match has been arranged between the Cafe International and the Brooklyn Chess Club, to commence in a few days.  Captain Mackenzie, Dr. Barnett, Mr. E. Delmar, and two or three more will do battle for the Cafe International, and Brooklyn will be represented by Messrs. F.E. Brenzinger, C.C. Gilberg, M. Munoz, A.J. DeCon and Fr. Perrin.

Brooklyn Eagle, Aug. 11, 1870
The Chess contest between the champions of the Cafe International and the members of the Brooklyn Chess Club, terminated yesterday in favor of the New York players.  The conditins of the match were that thirty-six games should be played, and that either party winning, nineteen should be the victors.  After five evenings' play, New York succeeded in scoring twenty-one games angainst eight won by Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Eagle, Jan. 6, 1872
The following is a directory of Chess resorts of this city (Brooklyn) and New York :
   Brooklyn Chess Club - No. 179 Myrtle Avenue.
   Williamsburg Chess Club - No. 43 Meserole street.
   The New York Chess Club meets daily at the Society Library, University place.
   Chess Up-Town - Knickerbocker Cottage, 456 Sixth avenue ; Yound Men's Reading Association of the Nineteenth Ward, Terrace Garden.
   Down-Town Chess Rooms - Cafe International, 192 Chatham square, near Bowery.
   Down-Town Chess Club - Cafe Europa, 12 and 14 Division street.
   Turner Hall Chess Club - Nos. 52 and 54 Orchard street.

Brooklyn Eagle, Feb 11, 1872
 ...Until such [new accomodations] are found and a suficient amout be raised by subscription to warrant the club in making the change, and taking into consideration the injury to the  interests of Chess in Brooklyn, which would be caused by protracted interruption to the club meetings, the desire was expressed that the members of the Brooklyn Chess Club would continue to meet at 280 Fulton street on Wednesday and Saturdays as heretofore.


Brooklyn Eagle, May 31, 1872
     The Brooklyn Chess Club Reorganized. - The adjourned meeting of chess players of this city was held in the Directors' Room of 
the Mercantile Library, on Saturday night, and after a lengthy discussion of the subjects brought up before the meeting, a regular organization of the new Brooklyn Chess Club was effected, and the new club propose to play their inaugural games in their Chess Rooms, in the Library building, on Saturday night next.  The report of the Committee on Conference was receive and acted upon, and also that of  the Committee on Constitution and By-Laws, the latter of which was taken by sections, and adopted as amended.
 The nominatioons for officers made by the committee were unanimously endorsed, and the elction resulted as follows:  President, J. Spencer ; Vice-President, Paul worth ; Secretary, Manuel Munoz ; Treasurer, S. B. Noyes ; Exectutive Committee, Messrs. H. Chadwick, C. A. Gilberg, and B.B. Chittenden, Jr.  This committee will have charge of the arrangement of all the club tournament
and matches, decide all disputed points on match games, and supervise the club contests generally.
    The four officers of the club constitute the Board of Management of the club and they will have general control of the affairs of
the club.  The annual dues of the club have been fixed at ten dollars a year, which admits to the privilege of the library, reading room and chess club.  Yearly subscribers of the library are eligible to membership of the chess club and can become members on the payment of five dollars and on signing the constitution and by-laws of the club. The club room will be accessible to members from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, Sundays excepted, and members engaged in games will be allowed to occupy the rooms until 11 p.m. Smoking is against the rules of the building, and, of course, is prohibited in the chess rooms during library hours,  vis., from 8 a.m until 10 p.m.  The reading room of the library is shortly to be opened on Sundays, from 1 to 5 p.m. but the chess rooms will always be closed on the Sabbath.  The club is fortunate in securing the co-operation of the genltemen composing the board of management.  Mr. Turner is determined to see the club firmly established on the footing which will give it precedence over every other organization of the kind in the country, and he is not a man to hesitate in making any pecuniary sacrifices to secure the success of anything he undertakes, his liberality in these matters being well known. The club will also have Mr. Munoz a valuable worker as secretary, while their executive committee possesses Mr. Gilberry [sic], one of the  ablest chess writers and analysts in the country.  The annual dues of the club are now payable, and the funds can be handed in to the Secretary at the next meeting, or to the Treasurer, Mr. Noyes, the Librarian of the Mercantile Library.  The club propose to have an opening chess reception of members on Saturday, May 25.  The next regular meeting of the club will take place on thesecond Saturday of June.