Cable and telegraph chess

In 1844, the first known chess match played by telegraph was between Washington D.C. and Baltimore. Soon, the telegraph was being used to play long-distance chess. It took over 50 years for a telegraph match to be played between a chess club in the United States against a chess club in Britain.

On August 16, 1858, the first transatlantic telegraph cable was laid across the floor of the Atlantic ocean from western Ireland to eastern Newfoundland (1,600 miles). Messages could now be sent in a matter of minutes instead of 10 days the time it took to deliver a message by ship. The first cable was a telegram from Queen Victoria to President James Buchanan, congratulating him on such a cable. The first cable on worked for three weeks ($100 per message), until someone applied too much voltage to it trying to achieve faster operating.

After the first cable was laid across the Atlantic, Howard Staunton (1810-1874) of London offered to play Paul Morphy (1837-1884) in New York by the new transatlantic cable. The stakes were to be 500 pounds a side. However, the transatlantic cable failed and was not successfully replaced until 1866.

In 1861, the first chess cable match (moves transmitted by telegraph) occurred between Dublin and Liverpool.

In 1865, a second transatlantic cable was successfully laid (an earlier cable snapped) and first became operational on July 28, 1866. By the end of the 19th century, there were about a dozen transatlantic cables between the United States and Europe. Nowadays, all transatlantic cables use fiber optic technology.

On March 9, 1895, the Manhattan Chess Club played the British Chess Club by cable. Only about 22 moves were played in each of the 10 games. One game was agreed drawn. All the other games were adjudicated as drawn by the new world chess champion, Emanuel Lasker (1868-1941).

On March 13, 1896, the first cable chess match between Great Britain and the United States began. It was organized by the Brooklyn Chess Club, and would be the first Anglo-American chess match. The first team match had 8 players per side. Subsequent matches had 10 players per side. Sir George Newnes (1851-1910) was president of the British Chess Club and he provided a silver cup that would go to the winning team. Newnes was an editor and publisher of magazines in Britain. He was the first to publish the Sherlock Holmes mystery series, written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. USA won the first match, 4.5 to 3.5.

 

USA GBR

Pillsbury 0 Blackburne 1

Showalter 1 Burn, Amos 0

Burille 1 Bird, Henry 0

Barry, John 1 Tinsley 0

Hymes, Ed = Locock =

Hodges = Mills =

Delmar = Atkins =

Baird 0 Jackson, E 1

4.5 3.5

The second cable match was played on February 12-13, 1897. There were now 10 players per side. UK won, 5.5 to 4.5. The format from 8 players to 10 players favored the British side, as their 1-point victory was due to the bottom 3 boards winning.

GBR USA

Blackburne = Pillsbury =

Locock 0 Showlater 1

Atkins 1 Burille 0

Lawrence 0 Barry, John 1

Mills, Dan = Hymes, Ed =

Bellingham = Hodges =

Blake 0 Delmar 1

Jackson, Ed 1 Helms 0

Cole, Henry 1 Teed 0

Jacobs 1 McCutcheon 0

5.5 4.5

On May 31st to June 1st, 1897, a cable match was arranged between five members of the U.S. House of Representatives (3 Democrats, 1 Republican, and 1 Populist) in Washington, DC, and five members of the British House of Commons in London. The match lasted seven days and ended in a draw, 2.5 to 2.5. This match was arranged by Richmond Pearson (1852-1923), U.S. Representative of North Carolina and Sir John Heaton (1848-1914), a British Conservative Member of Parliament. In this match, a record of time in cable matches was established. Twenty moves were cabled in 21.5 minutes, one move going to and from Washington in 14 seconds. The signals were carried by the Anglo American Telegraph Company and the Western Union Telegraph Company.

The third Anglo-American cable match began on March 18, 1898 between the British Chess Club and the Brooklyn Chess Club. The signals were carried by the Commercial Cable Company. The British Chess Club won, 5.5 to 4.5.

GBR USA

Blackburne = Pillsbury =

Burn, Amos 0 Showalter 1

Caro 0 Barry, John 1

Atkins = Hymes, Ed =

Bellingham 0 Hodges 1

Mills, Dan 1 Delmar 0

Locock = Baird =

Jackson, Ed 1 Young =

Jacobs 1 Robinson 0

Trenchard 1 Galbreath 0

5.5 4.5

 

The fourth cable match began on March 10, 1899 between the Brooklyn Chess Club and the British Chess Club. USA won 6 to 4.

USA GBR

Pillsbury 0 Blackburne 1

Showalter 1 Atkins 0

Barry, John 1 Lawrence 0

Hodges 1 Jackson, Ed 0

Hymes, Ed = Mills, Dan =

Voight = Jacobs, H. =

Johnston, S = Locock =

Marshall, F = Wainwright =

Newman = Bellingham =

Baird = Trenchard =

6 4

In March, 1899, the British universities of Cambridge and Oxford defeated the American universities (Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton) by one point in a cable match (3.5 to 2.5). The winning team took possession of the Rice Trophy, donated by Isaac Rice of New York.

The fifth cable match was played on March 23-24, 1900. USA won 6 to 4. The USA had had two victories in a row. One more and they would take permanent possession of the Newnes trophy. Pillsbury remained winless in 5 cable games against Blackburne. Showalter had won his first 4 cable matches, but drew his game in the 5th cable match. John Barry was now victorious in 5 cable matches. Ed Hymes drew in all of his 5 matches.

 

USA GBR

Pillsbury = Blackburne =

Showalter = Lee, Francis =

Barry, John 1 Atkins 0

Hodges 1 Bellingham 0

Hymes, Ed = Mills, Dan =

Voight 1 Lawrence 0

Marshall, F 0 Jackson, Ed 1

Bampton 0 Jacobs, H. 1

Newman = Ward, W =

Delmar 1 Trenchard 0

6 4

In April, 1900, a cable match took place between the British universities and the American universities. The British players were Tattersall, Softlaw, and Wiles from Cambridge, and A. George, G. Ellis, and Soddy from Oxford. The American players were C. Rice and F. Hopkins from Harvard; A. Cook and Austell from Yale; Sewall from Columbia; and J. Hunt from Princeton. The British team won 4.5 to 1.5.

The 6th cable match began on April 19, 1901. UK and USA tied 5-5. Pillsbury finally deeated Blackburne on board one. Showalter lost his first cable match game. Barry, who had 5 straight victories, drew his 6th match game. Hymes, after 5 draws, finally won a game.

GBR USA

Blackburne 0 Pillsbury 1

Mason 1 Showalter 0

Lee, F. = Barry, John =

Mills, Dan = Hodges =

Atkins 0 Hymes, Ed 1

Bellingham = Voight =

Ward, W 1 Marshall, F 0

Jackson, Ed = Bampton =

Jacobs, H 0 Newman 1

Michell 1 Howell 0

5 5

 

In February 1902, chess was being played by wireless telegraphy between the Minnetonka liner and the Cunarder Etruria.

On March 15, 1902, USA won the 7th cable match with a 5.5 to 4.5 score. The Americans played at the Brooklyn Chess Club and the English team played at the International Hall, Cafe Monaco in London. The telegraphic communications was provided by the Commercial Cable Company.

1 Pillsbury  Lawrence 
2 Barry  Mason 
3 Marshall 0 Atkins 1
4 Hodges 1 Lee 0
5 Hymes  Mills 
6 Voigt  Bellingham 
7 Delmar 0 Trenchard 1
8 Newman  Blake 
9 Howell 1 Michell 0
10 Helms 1 Girdlestone 0
 5.5 4.5

On March 27-28, 1903, the British universities defeated the American universities in their 5th annual cable match by the score of 3.5 to 2.5.

In April, 1903, USA won the 8th cable match with a 5.5 to 4.5 score. The USA was represented by Pillsbury, Barry, Hodges, Marshall, Hymes, Voigt, Newman, Delmar, Howell, and Hellms. The UK was represented by Lawrence, Blackburne, Mills, Atkins, Bellingham, Trenchard, Michell, Jacobs, Gunston, and Hooke.

 GBR USA 
1 Lawrence  Pillsbury 
2 Blackburne 0 Barry 1
3 Mills  Hodges 
4 Atkins 0 Marshall 1
5 Bellingham 1 Hymes 0
6 Trenchard 0 Voigt 1
7 Michell 1 Newman 0
8 Jacobs  Delmar  
9 Gunston 1 Howell 0
10 Hooke 0 Helms 1
 4.5 5.5

 

 

From 1904 to 1906, cable matches were halted due to the Russo-Japanese war, which made arrangements for the cabling too difficult.

From 1906 to 1910, a series of Anglo-American University matches were held and played by cable.

In 1907, UK won the 9th cable match with a 5.5 to 4.5 score.

 USA GBR 
1 Marshall  Burn 
2 Barry 0 Atkins 1
3 Hodges  Lawrence 
4 Voigt  Blackburne 
5 Morgan 0 Richmond 1
6 Fox  Lee 
7 Bampton 1 Ward 0
8 Wolbrecht  Holmes 
9 Howell 1 Michell 0
10 Robinson 0 Wainwright 1
 4.5 5.5

In 1908, USA won the 10th cable match with a 6.5 to 3.5 score.

 GBR USA 
1 Blackburne  Hodges 
2 Atkins  Voigt  
3 Lawrence  Helms  
4 Richmond  Delmar 
5 Wainwright  Stadelman  
6 Ward  Howell 
7 England 0 Schwietzer 1
8 Michell 0 Wolbrecht 1
9 Palmer 0 Libaire 1
10 Sergeant  Robinson 
 3.5 6.5

In 1909, Great Britain won the 11th cable match with a 6 to 4 score.

 USA GBR 
1 Marshall 1 Blackburne 0 
2 Barry  Lawrence 
3 Hodges 1 Ward 0
4 Voigt 1 Wainwright 0
5 Howell 0 Blake 1
6 Helms 0 Michell 1
7 Schwietzer 0 Wahltuch 1
8 Stadelman  Holmes 
9 Mlotkowski 0 Sergeant 1
10 Ruth 0 Jacobs 1
 4.0 6.0

 

In 1910, Great Britain won the 12th cable match with a 6.5 to 3.5 score.

 USA GBR 
1 Marshall 1 Blackburne 0
2 Barry 0 Atkins 1 
3 Hodges  Lawrence 
4 Voigt 0 Wahltuch 1 
5 Wolbrecht 0 Yates 1
6 Stadelman 0 Wainwright 1
7 Schwietzer  Ward 
8 Black 1 Blake 0
9 Rosenfeld 0 Thomas 1
10 Meyer  Michell 
 3.5 6.5

 

In 1910, the first wireless telegraph match between ocean-going ships was played. Passengers of the King Friedrich August steamer played a match against passengers of the Principessa Mafalda. The game was drawn after 31 moves. The increasing distance between the ships made continuation of the game too difficult.

In 1911, UK won the 13th cable match with a 6 to 4 score. Britain, having won three matches in succession, took permanent possession of the silver Newnes Cup, offered in competition by Sir George Newnes (1851-1910) several years earlier. The cable matches ended after this match.

 GBR 6.0 USA 4.0
1 Burn 1 Marshall 0
2 Atkins  Hodges  
3 Lawrence 0 Fox 1
4 Wahltuch 1 Barry 0 
5 Yates 1 Voigt 0
6 Richmond 0 Black 1
7 Ward 1 Walcott 0
8 Thomas 1 Neill 0
9 Michell  Schwietzer 
10 Cole 0 Meyer 1
 6.0 4.0

 

Of the 13 US-UK cable matches, Blackburne played in 11 matches, winning 2, losing 4, and drawing 5. Pillsbury played in 8 matches, winning 1, losing 2, and drawing 5. Albert Hodges played in all 13 cable matches without losing a game.

In 13 matches, the USA won 6, UK won 6, and one draw. The total points were 64 to 64. Each country won 39 games, lost 39 games, and drew 50 games. UK won the Newnes trophy for winning in 3 times in a row.

From 1899 to 1903, there were Anglo-American University cable matches between Oxford and Cambridge and Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia University. A second series of University matches was held from 1906 to 1910. The last in a series of cable matches between the universities occurred in 1924. In 11 matches, the British universities won 4, the American universities won 4, and they drew 3 times. In 1907, Capablanca played for Columbia University and drew his game on board 1 against H. Rose of Oxford.

In March, 1924, the Western Union Telegraph Company opened the first direct cable between London and Chicago.

On November 6, 1926, a cable chess match between London and Chicago was held.

Between 1926 and 1931, London played 5 cable matches against 4 US cities. This series of cable matches was known as the Insull Trophy series.

In 1926, London beat Chicago by 4-2.

In 1927, London beat New York by 4-2.

In 1928, London was leading Washington, DC by 3-2, but there was a dispute about the bottom board. The matter was referred to FIDE and the match was annulled.

In 1930, London drew with Washington DC in a cable telegraph match, with the score of 3-3.

In 1931, London beat Philadelphia in a cable telegraph match by 3.5 to 2.5.