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Mackenzie, George Henry

George Henry Mackenzie was born on March 24, 1834 in North Kessock, Scotland.  In 1856, at the age of 19, he purchased a commission in the 60th Rifles (the King’s Royal Rifle Corps).  He served as a Lieutenant in the British army, primarily in Ireland, but went to India in 1857 during the Sepoy Rebellion. He resigned his army commission in 1861 to become a professional chess player.  In 1862, he won a handicap tournament in London, defeating Adolf Anderssen and Frederick Deacon.  In 1862, he defeated Reverend George MacDonnell in a match in Dublin, Ireland (+6-3=1).  In 1863 he emigrated to the United States and enlisted in the Union Army.  After 15 weeks as a private, he earned the rank of Captain in charge of a Black regiment.  Mackenzie later deserted and was discharged from the Union Army.  In 1864 he rejoined the Army and fought with distinction in three battles.  However, he was arrested again on the previous desertion charges and imprisoned.  He was released in May, 1865 where he moved to New York and started playing chess.  In 1866, he won a tournament in New York.  In March 1866, Mackenzie defeated Gustave Reichelm in New York in a match (+5-0=2).  In 1867, Mackenzie defeated Reichhelm in Philadelphia (+7-0=2) for the title of U.S. Chess Champion.  In 1869 at New York he won 82 games and lost 8 in the longest master tournament ever held (48 players and double round robin), winning the event.   In 1871, he won the 2nd American Chess Congress, held in Cleveland, Ohio, scoring 14 points (drawn games, which did not count, were replayed) and earning $100 for 1st prize.  In 1874, he won the 3rd American Chess Congress, held in Chicago (+8-1=1).  In August 1876, he won the Café International Tournament in New York (+23-5=2).  In 1878, he took 4th place at the Paris International Tournament.  In 1880, he took 1st place at the 5th American Chess Congress in New York (+11-2=5).  In 1881, he defeated Max Judd in a match in Saint Louis (+7-5=1).  In 1882, he took 4th-5th at Vienna.  At Vienna, he drew with Steinitz, breaking Steinitz’s 25 game winning streak.  In 1882, he lost a match against James Mason in London (+0-1=2), then won a match against Joseph Blackburne (+2-1=0).  In 1883, he took 3rd in the 5th Manhattan Chess Club Championship, won by Gustave Simonson.  In 1883, he took 5th-7th at London.  In 1883, he lost a match to Steinitz in New York (+1-3=2).  In 1885, he took 4th in the 20th British Counties Chess Association Congress in Hereford, England.  In 1885, he took 7th in the 4th German Chess Federation Championship in Hamburg.  In 1885, he took 4th in the 7th Manhattan Chess Club Championship.  In 1886, he defeated Samuel Lipschuetz in a match in New York (+5-3=5).  In 1886, he tied for 2nd-3rd in the 9th Manhattan Chess Club Championship.  In 1886, he drew a match with Burn (+4-4=2).  In 1887 he won the 5th German Chess Championship in Frankfurt (+13-3=4).  He, thus, became the first American chess player to win an international event.   In 1888 he won the 5th Scottish Chess Championship in Glasgow (+4-0=2).  In 1888, he took 2nd in the 4th British Chess Federation Championship, held in Bradford, England.  The event was won by Isidor Gunsberg.  In 1888, he defeated Celso Golmayo Zupide in a match in Havana.  In 1890, he took 3rd-4th in the 6th British Chess Federation Congress, held in Manchester England.  He died of tuberculosis in a New York hotel on April 14, 1891 at the age of 54.   Steinitz reported that his death was from an intentional overdose of morphine.  This rumor was started by a doctor who refused to sign a certificate for an insurance policy because he had not been paid a fee.  Mackenzie won the 1st place prize of every American tournament he entered (13 tournaments and 7 matches).  He was inducted in the U.S. Hall of Fame in 1992.

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