The Order of the Mandarins of the Yellow Button


The Order of the Mandarins of the Yellow Button


In the second half of the 19th century, a group of chess players in the Boston area formed a somewhat informal, yet exclusive coterie called the Order of the Mandarins of the Yellow Button. What made this group exclusive was that in order to join, a prospective member must be an amateur chess player and must have beaten a recognized master, i.e. a professional international champion, in an even game of chess.  Indeed, it wasn't an easy group to join. 

It was their custom to meet every Saturday afternoon for chess and spend Saturday evenings dining together, discussng chess.

Supposedly, Mandarin points toward China where the Yellow Button was an insignia denoting rank in the Chinese civil service.

The core members of this group included: Franklin Knowles Young, Constant Ferdinand Burille, F. H. Harlow, Dr. E.M. Harris, C. F. Howard, Major Otho.E. Michaelis, Gen. W. C. Paine, Dr. Horace Richardson, Charles B. Snow, Henry Nathan Stone, G.Preston Ware, jr.


Here is a game played at the Royal Pagoda Ostuk Tserte, in the fifth moon of the first cycle of the reign of Awer, Senior Mandarin of the Order of the Yellow Button.


Mandarin Nswo is C. B. Snow;  Mandarin Otnug is F. K. Young"





A few more games played by memebers of this group:









  • 9 years ago


    Thanks, batgirl, you're a mine of information as always! Smile
  • 9 years ago


    The game Burille vs. Chigorin was played in the 6th American Chess Congress.


    The 6th Congress, considered America's first international tournament, was held in New York from March 15 to May 17, 1889 and included 20 players:  Miksa (Max) Weiss, Mikhail Tchigorin, Isidor Gunsberg, Joseph Henry Blackburne, Amos Burn, Samuel (Soloman?) Lipschuetz,  James Mason, Mx Judd, Eugene Delmar, Jackson Whipps Showalter, William Henry Kraus Pollock, Henry Edward Bird, Jean Taubenhaus,  David Graham Baird, Constant Ferdinand Burille, Major James Moore Hanham, George Hatfield Gossip, Dion M. Martinez , John Washington Baird and Nicholas MacLeod.


    Each contestant played two games, 38 total, (19 as white and 19 as black) against the others (except, while in the first half, draws counted for .5 pts,  in the second half draws were replayed, increasing exponentially the numeber of games played and making this tournament of of the longest in history).


    Tchigorin and Weiss shared first prize. Lipschutz, the highest scoring American was named US Champion, which in turn was highly disputed.


    Burille +12=6-20, finishing 15 out of 20, won games from Tchigorin, Gunsberg,  Gossip, Pollock, Delmar, Taubenhaus (both games), Hanham, D. Baird,  J. Baird and MacLeod (both games) and drew against Mason, Judd, Bird, Hanhan, Gossip, and J. Baird.



  • 9 years ago


    Loved the Young vs Richardson game.
  • 9 years ago


    Wow! those games were extremely wild and filled with crazy tactics.
  • 9 years ago


    Was the game against Chigorin from a simultaneous exhibition?
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