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Dundee Congress Tournament

Gustav Neumann7.5/9(+7 -1 =1)[games]
Wilhelm Steinitz7/9(+7 -2 =0)[games]
George MacDonnell6.5/9(+6 -2 =1)[games]
Cecil De Vere6.5/9(+6 -2 =1)[games]
Joseph Henry Blackburne6/9(+6 -3 =0)[games]
James Cunningham Fraser3.5/9(+3 -5 =1)[games]
James Alexander Robertson3/9(+3 -6 =0)[games]
George Brunton Fraser2.5/9(+2 -6 =1)[games]
Sigismund Hamel2/9(+2 -7 =0)[games]
Walter Cook Spens0.5/9(+0 -8 =1)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Dundee Congress (1867)

Dundee, Scotland; 4 September 1867—13 September 1867

1 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Score Place/Prizes ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————— 1 Neumann • 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 7½ 1st £40 2 Steinitz 1 • 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 7 2nd £20 3 MacDonnell ½ 0 • 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 6½ 3rd-4th £5 4 De Vere 0 1 1 • 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 6½ 3rd-4th £5 5 Blackburne 0 1 0 1 • 0 1 + 1 1 6 6 J.C. Fraser 0 0 0 0 1 • 0 + 1 ½ 3½ 7 Robertson 0 0 0 0 0 1 • 1 0 1 3 8 G.B. Fraser 0 0 0 ½ - - 0 • 1 1 2½ 9 Hamel 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 • 1 2 10 Spens 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 • ½ ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————— Format: Draws were counted and scored as a half-game to each player. Note: + denotes a forfeit win and - denotes a forfeit loss.

The Dundee tournament is reckoned as the fourth ever international tournament of modern times. The first of modern chess is perhaps Madrid 1575, under the patronage of Phillip II, won by Leonardo ahead of Ruy Lopez. There is a match tournament at Paris in 1821 between Deschappelles, Labourdonais and Cochrane not usually listed - Labourdonnais won 13-1. London (1851) was a knock-out tournament won by Anderssen. London (1862) was an all-play-all tournament again won by Anderssen 12-1. But in 1862 a draw had to be replayed until a positive result was obtained. At Dundee in 1867 this carry-over from knock-out events was abandoned and "it was decided that a draw should be reckoned as half a game to each player engaged in it".

The Congress of the British Chess Association (President: Lord Lyttleton) was held at Dundee with the preliminary meeting being in the boardroom of the Caledonian Railway Company on Tuesday, September 3rd. The Congress consisted of three events: (1) The Grand Tourney of Blackburne, De Vere, G. B. Fraser, Hamel, Dr. J. Fraser, Rev. MacDonnell, Neumann, Col. Robertson, Spens and Steinitz. (2) The Handicap Tournament consisting of all the Grand Tournament players except for Hamel, plus seven extra players contested on a knock-out system and won jointly by Steinitz and Dr. J. Fraser "by mutual agreement" after they in the final, "owing to an alleged excess of the time limit by the latter (Fraser), consented to reckon their game as annulled. "This is the result of no rule or procedure being laid down for deciding the penalty for overstepping the time limit. No replay of the final game was possible "as Steinitz had to leave per steamer in the afternoon". (3) The Scottish Championship of eight players, all-play-all, won by Dr. J. Fraser 6-1. A contemporary newspaper report said about this event "after a very tedious contest".

The time limit observed throughout the event was an average of four minutes per move - probably 15 moves per hour. Prizes: 1st £40; 2nd £20; 3rd £10.

First round began 4th September at 11 am and the last round was played on September 13th. Newspapers mentioned the arrival of pickpockets in Dundee on the same day as the opening meeting.

Missing Information
Eleven games are missing. For several of the missing games, it is not known who had which color. It is possible that the players tossed for color at the start of each game. It is known that the last four games to be finished were: Blackburne - Fraser; Dr. Fraser - G. B. Fraser; de Vere - Spens; Neumann - G. B. Fraser. The first two of these were not played presumably because the other two games decided the prize-winners. - Robert Wade in Centenary Tournament Dundee 1967.

Based on an original collection by User: TheFocus.
User: Tabanus provided pairings and dates from Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser.

 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Blackburne vs J C Fraser 0-1851867Dundee CongressC30 King's Gambit Declined
2. De Vere vs G Neumann 0-1481867Dundee CongressA85 Dutch, with c4 & Nc3
3. G MacDonnell vs G B Fraser  1-0211867Dundee CongressC50 Giuoco Piano
4. J Robertson vs G Neumann 0-1261867Dundee CongressC50 Giuoco Piano
5. Blackburne vs G MacDonnell 0-1311867Dundee CongressE00 Queen's Pawn Game
6. J Robertson vs G MacDonnell 0-1581867Dundee CongressC20 King's Pawn Game
7. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0271867Dundee CongressC67 Ruy Lopez
8. S Hamel vs G B Fraser  0-1571867Dundee CongressC39 King's Gambit Accepted
9. De Vere vs G B Fraser ½-½441867Dundee CongressC80 Ruy Lopez, Open
10. G Neumann vs G MacDonnell ½-½611867Dundee CongressB25 Sicilian, Closed
11. Steinitz vs G MacDonnell 1-0301867Dundee CongressB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
12. J Robertson vs G B Fraser  1-0321867Dundee CongressC20 King's Pawn Game
13. G Neumann vs Blackburne 1-0621867Dundee CongressC41 Philidor Defense
14. De Vere vs J C Fraser  1-0261867Dundee CongressC25 Vienna
15. G MacDonnell vs De Vere 0-1421867Dundee CongressC50 Giuoco Piano
16. Blackburne vs S Hamel 1-0271867Dundee CongressB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
17. Steinitz vs G Neumann 1-0341867Dundee CongressC25 Vienna
18. J C Fraser vs G Neumann 0-1431867Dundee CongressC52 Evans Gambit
19. S Hamel vs De Vere 0-1331867Dundee CongressB20 Sicilian
20. G B Fraser vs Steinitz 0-1251867Dundee CongressC60 Ruy Lopez
21. G MacDonnell vs J C Fraser 1-0351867Dundee CongressC41 Philidor Defense
22. J Robertson vs Blackburne 0-1291867Dundee CongressC27 Vienna Game
23. J C Fraser vs J Robertson 0-1311867Dundee CongressB40 Sicilian
24. Blackburne vs De Vere 1-0281867Dundee CongressB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
25. Steinitz vs S Hamel 1-0301867Dundee CongressB01 Scandinavian
 page 1 of 2; games 1-25 of 32  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Some notes about the games:

1) These are the twelve games missing from the tournament itself, in addition to the two forfeits by G. Fraser:

1 Neumann 1/2 MacDonnell
2 Steinitz 0 Blackburne
3 Steinitz 1 Robertson
4 Steinitz 1 Spens
5 MacDonnell 1 Spens
6 Blackburne 1 Spens
7 Robertson 0 Hamel
8 Robertson 1 Spens
9 J Fraser 1 Hamel
10 J Fraser 1/2 Spens
11 G Fraser 1 Spens
12 Hamel 1 Spens

(The higher-finishing player's name is given first; colors are uncertain.)

2) It appears that the play-off game(s) between DeVere and MacDonnell are missing. There is only one game between them listed, and it is presented as having been played in "Round 5" (Sepember 9th). Di Felice gives the result of the match as a tie, one win to each player.

3) MacDonnelll has two games in round 1(Robertson and G Fraser), and J. Fraser two games in round 6 (Neumann and MacDonnell). Was this a case of the games being played on the same day out of round sequence?

Nov-15-13  thomastonk: <Phony Benoni: 1 Neumann 1/2 MacDonnell> What about this one: G Neumann vs G MacDonnell, 1867?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Neumann and MacDonnell played a draw in round 3 after 9 hours of play (Dundee Courier 7 Sept.). Is that the game? I don't have the energy to delve into this once more.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: That would appear to be the game from the Grand Tournament. <The Chess World> 1867-68, p.296, mentioned as a source for the game, states on p.294 that the game was played at the Dundee Congress. The two players did not meet in the Handicap Tournament.
Nov-18-13  TheFocus: I feel that it should be added to the tournament. If we are in agreement, I will add it.
Jul-13-15  zanzibar: <The Handicap Tournament consisted of sixteen players classed as follows

Class I. Messrs. Blackburne, De Vere, G. B. Fraser, MacDonnell, Neumann, and Steinitz to give Pawn and move to Class II.; Pawn and two moves to Class III.; and Knight to Class IV.

Class II. Dr. Fraser to give Pawn and move to Class III., and Pawn and two moves to Class IV.

Class III. Messrs. C. M. Baxter, C. R. Baxter, Colonel Robertson, and W. C. Spens to give Pawn and move to Class IV.

Class IV. Messrs. L. Dumon, W. Keating, P. Scott, David Sime, and T. W. Thorns.> (p8/18)

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: This is widely acknowledged as the first international tournament to implement draws as 1/2 points.

The question is, was there any widely known national or club tournament that preceded it and therefore has precedence?

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: <The time limit observed throughout the event was an average of four minutes per move - probably 15 moves per hour. Dr. Fraser over-stepped the time-limit on move 21 against Steinitz in much the superior position.>

Of course, reading this I was a little confused. What was the penalty for doing so?

Doing a little research on the net I see I wasn't the only one:

<Dr Fraser v Steinitz and Neumann v Scott (Dundee Chess Club). Neumann defeated Scott to take third prize but the other game proved controversial. Steinitz claimed a win, in a hopeless position, on the grounds that Dr Fraser had over-stepped the time allowance - two hours for thirty moves. Fraser had made only twenty seven moves when his one hour sand-glass ran out for the second time. Fraser wished the game to be annulled, which it duly was, as no rule or procedure had been laid down for deciding the penalty for over-stepping the time limit. No replay was possible for Steinitz "had to leave per steamer in the afternoon". They mutually agreed to share the first and seond prizes.>

It's always good to work out the penalties for breaking a rule if the rules are to be followed.

* * * * *

But there is another question raised. Which game (or games) was the time limit exceeded?

The above quote suggests it wasn't a game in the Grand Tournament, but rather the Handicap Tournament. And it wasn't move 21 but move 27.

Of course, maybe the comment does refer to the Grand Tournament game; here is the position after Black's 20th move:

Pre-moves: 19...Bd4+ 20.Kh1 Bxc3

click for larger view

If White plays 21.Qxc3 Stockfish gives an eval of +1.28/23, superior, but not quite "in much the superior position", in my book.

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: Hey, I found the heretofore missing <Neumann--MacDonnel (R3) 1/2-1/2> game:

That means all of Neumann's games from the tournament are known.

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: A draw that counts - what a concept!
Jul-13-15  zanzibar: In this source:

it is mentioned that Steinitz lost his game against Blackburne on time!

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: The (in)famous game where Dr. J. Fraser overstepped the clock (sands):

A 27-move Advance French.

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: As always, EDOchess is an excellent source, complete with refs:

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: <The tournament was held in the Board Room of the Caledonian Railway Company under the auspices of the then British Chess Association. For the first time "to obviate the difficulty experienced in the recent Grand Tourney at Paris, it was proposed that each draw should be reckoned at half a game". [This was the first international tournament to have drawn games score a ½ point to each player.] An oddity of this tournament was that the players tossed for colour at the start of each game.>

Location, and color pairing by chance for each game.

(Of course, it would be nice to confirm via Transactions)

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: I'm guessing that this is one of the more likely images of where the tournament took place, inside this building.

If there's a better suggestion....

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: Times change:
Jul-14-15  zanzibar: (Pre-moves 15...h6 16.g4 Rf6)

click for larger view

White to move, <Neuman--MacDonnell (R3)>

Neumann played 17.Nge4. But there is a stronger move.

Jul-14-15  zanzibar: And the entire game (hopefully correct, proofing invited):


[Event "Dundee Congress"]
[Site "Dundee SCO"]
[Date "1867.09.06"]
[Round "3"]
[White "Neumann, Gustav Richard"]
[Black "MacDonnell, George Alcock"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "B23k"]
[EventDate "1867.09.04"]
[Source "New York Albion 1867-10-12 / O'Keefe Timeline"]

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.Bc4 e6 4.d3 Bd6 5.f4 Bb8 6.Be3 d6 7.Nh3 Nge7 8. Bb3 O-O 9.O-O Na5 10.Qh5 Nxb3 11.axb3 f5 12.Rae1 b6 13.Bd2 a6 14.exf5 Rxf5 15.Ng5 h6 16.g4 Rf6 17.Nge4 Rf7 18.g5 d5 19.gxh6 g6 20.h7+ Kg7 21.h8=Q+ Qxh8 22.Qxh8+ Kxh8 23.Ng5 Rf6 24.Ne2 Nf5 25.Ng3 Bd6 26.Bc3 d4 27.Bd2 Nxg3 28.hxg3 Bf8 29.Rf2 Bd7 30.g4 Re8 31.Nf3 Bd6 32.Ng5 Bf8 33.b4 cxb4 34.Nf3 Rc8 35.g5 Rf7 36.Nxd4 Bc5 37.Be3 Bc6 38.Rh2+ Rh7 39.Rxh7+ Kxh7 40.Nxe6 Bxe3+ 41.Rxe3 Ba4 42.b3 Rxc2 43.bxa4 b3 44.d4 b2 45.Rb3 Rc1+ 46.Kf2 b1=Q 47.Rxb1 Rxb1 48.Kf3 Kg8 49.Ke4 Kf7 50.Nc7 b5 51.axb5 axb5 52.f5 Re1+ 53.Kd3 gxf5 54.Nxb5 Kg6 55.d5 Kxg5 56.Nd4 Re8 57.d6 Kf6 58.Kc4 f4 59.Kd5 Rd8 60.Ke4 Rxd6 61.Nf3 1/2-1/2


Not the cleanest of games, especially in the endgame.

Jul-14-15  zanzibar: What's with the xtab?

Hamel didn't have any draws, and should only have 2 points.

Also, a Forfeit's as good as a win, and the leaderboard should reflect that fact.

Jul-15-15  zanzibar: At Dundee (1867) <Steinitz electrified the Chess world by revealing his hazardous Gambit, 1 P-K4, P-K4, 2 Kt-QB3, Kt-QB3, 3 P-B4, Px P, 4 P.Q4>

From Cook's 1907 <Chess Players' Compendium>:



The Queen's Knight's Opening, in which the first player brings out his Q-Kt, Q-B3, after each has moved 1 P-K4, P-K4, is essentially the most important novelty in the openings introduced into practice during the nineteenth century. As early as 1842, Jaenisch called attention to its danger in his “Anaylse Nouvelle,” but he held an idea that the first player relinquished the temporary attack, “preferring to wait for any faults his adversary may commit.” But the Opening was not destined to survive merely as "a waiting game,” for its elaborator, Herr Hampe, of Vienna, transformed it into a menacing attack by the introduction of the vigorous Gambit continuation 3 P-KB4. His invention was ably worked out by Langein“ Kritic der Eröffnungen," 1855, and Falkbeer's later contribution of a series of searching articles, which appeared in the “Berlin Schachzeitung,” 1857, led to the recognition of this important debút amongst the category of legitimate openings.

During the last forty years of its history there have been several off-shoots from the parent stem of the so-called “Hampe's Opening.” At the Dundee Congress, 1867, Steinitz electrified the Chess world by revealing his hazardous Gambit, 1 P-K4, P-K4, 2 Kt-QB3, Kt-QB3, 3 P-B4, Px P, 4 P.Q4, which we have first noticed in Chap. I. A few years later some of our leading English players grafted on to the continuation 1 P-K4, P-K4, 2 Kt-QB3, Kt-QB3, 3 P-B4, Px P, 4 Kt-KB3, P-KKt4, the formidable Allgaier variation 5 P-KR4, since known as the Hampe-Allgaier, to which we have devoted Chapter II. Then Timbrell Pierce, in the “British Chess Magazine,” 1889, called attention to his ingenious discovery that as an alternative to the HampeAllgaier, White could play 5 P-Q4, a variation little known or practised, which has been styled “the Pierce Gambit.”


Jul-15-15  zanzibar: Apparently the problems I've been having searching for valid games and information for this tournament was noted in a review of the British Chess Associations published transactions, from:

<The Chess World (1868) p386>


The Chess Player's Magazine, which, notwithstanding the influential support of the Association's patronage, died of inanition some twelve months ago. Those who were induced to take in the Magazine for the sake of the Games have little fresh matter to look for here; even the notes annexed to the Games, and criticisms on the Problems, are reprinted.

An apology was made some months ago for the non-appearance of the book, to the effect that “as the scale on which it was originally planned would involve an expense beyond the means of the Committee, it has been necessary to curtail the report.” This may account for our having now a selection only of the Games and Problems. On what principle the elimination has been made, we are not informed; but it would be desirable to know now and then the reason of certain omissions. Sometimes a kindness may be done in witholding a game from publication for the sake of the reputation of a player. Whatever the reasons, and subscribers to the Association have a right to know them, Games played by notables are here suppressed, to make room for the second-rate parties of inferior players. If the compilers of the book were pressed for space, why, it may besides be asked, have they published, as part of their proceedings, Games with which they had nothing to do? The Games in the match between Anderssen and Steinitz are not claimed by the Committee of the Association as their property. It was not played under their management, and members of the Association were admitted to witness it “through courtesy" only. Yet here are the Games appropriated without comment or apology, and printed as part of the Transactions of the Association.


Jul-15-15  zanzibar: Just to emphasis,

<Sometimes a kindness may be done in witholding a game from publication for the sake of the reputation of a player. Whatever the reasons, and subscribers to the Association have a right to know them, Games played by notables are here suppressed, to make room for the second-rate parties of inferior players.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Dundee Advertiser, Saturday 14 Sept 1867:

<The Chess Congress. The game between Messrs Neumann and Fraser, to which we yesterday referred, was decided - after some hard and careful fighting - in favour of Herr Neumann, who thus becomes entitled to the chief prize in the Grand Tourney; while Steinitz carries off the second, and De Vere the third prize. We append the final score: -

Neumann 7 1 1
Steinitz 7 2 0
*De Vere 6 2 1
*Macdonnell 6 2 1
S. Hamel 2 7 0
Colonel Robertson 3 6 0
Dr Fraser # 3 5 1
G. B. Fraser 2 6 1
W. C. Spens 0 8 1
J. H. Blackburne # 6 3 0

* These competitors having to leave town for a day or two, agreed to share the third prize, rather than play the tie.

# Inclusive of one game resigned by Mr Fraser without playing.>

Glasgow Evening Post, 14 Sept 1867:

<The Grand Tourney was brought to a termination yesterday, when two games were played - one being won by Herr Neumann from Mr G. B. Fraser, and the other was won by Mr De Vere from Mr W. C. Spens. To complete the tournament, two other games should have been played by Mr G. B. Fraser - one against Mr Blackburne, and the other against Dr Fraser; but after finishing his game yesterday with Herr Neumann, Mr Fraser resigned the other two games, as they would in now way affect the order or destination of the prizes - the winners of which are -

1. L40. - Herr Neumann, Berlin, 7,5. 2. L20 - Herr Steinitz, London, 7. 3. L10. Rev. G. A. M*Donnell, and Mr Cecil De Vere, London, ties 6,5. Drawn games are counted halves.>

So no playoff game (!?), and the two newspapers disagree on which Fraser did not play Blackburne.

Sep-14-17  ughaibu: A tournament in which only 6.7% of the games were drawn, no replays. Is that the record?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <the two newspapers disagree on which Fraser did not play Blackburne.>

How so? I think you're labouring under a misapprehension.

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