Chess in 1751
by Bill Wall, 2021

Books by Bill Wall
In early 1751, Francois-Andre Danican Philidor (1726-1795) was at Windsor with Prince William Augustus (1721-1765), the Duke of Cumberland. Philidor was introduced to Dr. Black, a clergyman and a first-rate chess player.

In 1751 Philidor left England for Potsdam, Prussia, by invitation from Frederick the Great (1712-1786), who took great interest in Philidor. At Potsdam, Frederick met Philidor, but never played chess with Philidor himself. Frederick did play chess with other notables, such as the Marquis de Varennes, whom Philidor could beat at knight odds. Philidor was staying at Potsdam with a mistress. While at Potsdam, Philidor took a mistress. [source: Hooper & Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess, 1984, p. 251]

In 1751, Philidor visited Berlin where he played 3 blindfold games simultaneously for the first time, winning them all. According to some sources, he repeated the feat of playing 3 blindfold games simultaneously several times while in Berlin. These were the first-known three-game simultaneous blindfold exhibition that ever took place.

In 1751, while in Berlin, Philidor met Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), the German Classical period musician and composer. He was the son of Johann Sebastion Bach. Carl Bach was a member of the royal orchestra under Frederick the Great, and Philidor studied music with Bach while they were together.

In July 1751, the mathematician Leonard Euler (1707-1783), a chess player, may have met Philidor during his visit to Berlin, but may have not had an opportunity to play chess with Philidor. Euler did mention Philidor in a June 22, 1751 letter and called him a great player. Euler went on to make the first serious mathematical analysis of the Knight's Tour on a chessboard in 1758. Philidor failed to master the Knight's Tour during his lifetime. Euler mentioned that he owned Philidor's chess book "which certainly contains very beautiful games." [source: "Leonhard Euler: mathematician and chess friend," ChessBase News, Nov 6, 2020]

In 1751, the Danish antiquary, Olaus Worm, referenced Icelandic chessmen in his correspondence. [source: Murray, The History of Chess, 1913, p. 856]

In September 1751, Benjamin Franklin of Philadelphia wrote to William Straham (1715-1785), a printer in London, requesting a copy of the The Noble Game of Chess, by Philip Stamma. [source: "From Benjamin Franklin to William Straham, 22 September 1751,"]

In late 1751, David Martin (1696-1751), Benjamin Franklin's main chess opponent, died.

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