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Birmingham 1858
Compiled by MissScarlett

This international tournament commenced in Birmingham on the occasion of the British Chess Association's annual congress. Little of the organisational background to this event is known, including the original schedule plans, but with the contest unfinished at the end of the congress, it was agreed to suspend play, and the ongoing semi-finals, with the final to follow, were resumed in London after a week's delay.

The order and dating of the final games present a challenge, but reportedly began on September 13th and ends on September 23rd (Field, 25.09).

See and

Tournament consisted of 43 games (39 played, 4 forfeits). 25 games in collection, 14 games missing (pending verification).

The congress opened on Tuesday, August 24th, and next day's <Birmingham Daily Post>'s report of the opening session stated: <...the president proceeded to call over the names of the players entered to take part in the Grand Tournament, when it was found that only eleven of those entered would be present. Five gentlemen who were present and willing to play were added by the Local Committee to supply the vacancies, and the players were then paired by lot.> (1)

Although the five are not identified, it seems certain they were Beetlestone, Ingleby, Smith, Hughes and Hampton.

That Morphy was included in the field of sixteen, despite his absence, indicates the organisers still maintained faint, if not desperate hope. The Post report later mentions receipt of a telegram, presumably that afternoon, from Morphy, <stating that his engagements precluded his being present at and playing in the tournament, but that he will be present on Thursday, when he will doubtless take part in some supplemental match, and may also probably give an example of his wonderful power of playing blindfold.> (1)

George Walker in <Bell's Life> bemoaned Morphy's absence and the weakened field:

He declined engaging in the Birmingham tourney, considering it infra dig. to jostle in a crowd of players, to some of whom he could give the Knight. (...) The Birmingham Chess Meeting began on Tuesday with a tourney of sixteen players; some of them, perhaps, illustrious in their own circle, but to us wholly unknown. (2)

Morphy's absence was not motivated, however, by the strength of competition. His aim was to commit Staunton to a definite agreement on match terms, to which end he believed playing the tournament might complicate matters. The blindfold display served as a pretext to engage Staunton in person, and a way to recompense to the organisers and public who'd been eagerly awaiting his attendance.

For a summary of the course of the tournament, one need look no further than Lowenthal's account in the <Era> of October 3rd, p.5: <

The <Illustrated London News> of September 4th also carries a helpful report.

A tournament book was intended by Staunton but never appeared so that most of the scores are lost, the only source being the few in his Chess Praxis. Boden explained in his column in the Field that his periodical would refrain from publishing any games as Staunton would later produce them in book form. Neither the Chess Player's Chronicle nor La Regence was being published in 1858. (3)

The <Chronicle> restarted again early in 1859 and published four games, one of which Staunton also gave in his book <Chess Praxis> published at the start of 1860.

Also see:

Bell's Life in London & Sporting Chronicle, December 25th 1859, p.3:

We have received several communications, in which complaints are made that the writers subscribed to the chess meeting at Birmingham, some sixteen months back, on the promise of receiving, directly the meeting was over, copies of the games played and record of all proceedings. They say, with apparent truth, that this report could as well have been furnished them last Christmas, as not. We can only refer such grumblers to the committee of management, and they had better write to the Birmingham Chess Club. We thought this chess gathering had been fixed as a yearly meeting in the north, but since the Birmingham tourney in question it seems to have died out.

Then in March 1865, in the first issue of his new venture, <Chess World>, Staunton published three of the tournament games, although, strangely, not identified as such. This, in turn, seems to have prompted Lowenthal, because several games appeared in the <Era> over the next few months.

(1) Birmingham Daily Post, 1858.08.25, p.2

(2) Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 1858.08.29, p.5

(3) Howard Staunton: The English World Chess Champion, (BCM, St. Leonard's, 1975)

Rnd of 16; 24.08.1858 (The Era, 1865.08.06, p.6)
Beetlestone vs Saint-Amant, 1858 
(C00) French Defense, 41 moves, 0-1

Rnd of 16 (The Era, 1865.07.02, p.7)
G Salmon vs I Szabo, 1858 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 21 moves, 1-0

Rnd 16 (The Era, 1865.04.30, p.6)
I Szabo vs G Salmon, 1858 
(C50) Giuoco Piano, 29 moves, 0-1

Rnd 16 (The Era, 1865.09.24, p.6)
T Hampton vs Owen, 1858 
(B00) Uncommon King's Pawn Opening, 36 moves, 0-1

Rnd of 16, 24.08.1858
Loewenthal vs J Kipping, 1858 
(B00) Uncommon King's Pawn Opening, 26 moves, 1-0

Rnd 16
J Kipping vs Loewenthal, 1858
(C51) Evans Gambit, 42 moves, 0-1

Rnd of 16 (The Era, 1865.08.13, p.14)
Falkbeer vs C Ingleby, 1858 
(C21) Center Game, 38 moves, 1-0

Rnd 16 (Chess Praxis, 1860, p.443)
R Brien vs Bird, 1858 
(A20) English, 42 moves, 1-0

Rnd 16 (Chess Praxis, 1860, p.417; The Era, 1865.05.14, p.14)
Bird vs R Brien, 1858 
(C01) French, Exchange, 40 moves, 1-0

Rnd of 16, ??.08.1858 (Chess World, vol.i n.1 (Mar 1865), p.13)
Hughes vs Staunton, 1858 
(B45) Sicilian, Taimanov, 37 moves, 0-1

Quarter-final (Chess Praxis, 1860, p.418)
Falkbeer vs Saint-Amant, 1858
(C00) French Defense, 45 moves, 1-0

Quarter-final (Chess Praxis, 1860, p.418)
Falkbeer vs Saint-Amant, 1858 
(C01) French, Exchange, 22 moves, 0-1

Quarter-final, 25.08.1859 (CP, 1860, p.444; TE, 1860.04.01)
Staunton vs Loewenthal, 1858 
(A22) English, 65 moves, 0-1

Quarter-final (Chess Praxis, 1860, p.445; The Era, 1860.04.01)
Loewenthal vs Staunton, 1858 
(B01) Scandinavian, 25 moves, 1-0

Semi-final (The Era, 1865.09.10, p.6)
R Brien vs Falkbeer, 1858 
(A85) Dutch, with c4 & Nc3, 25 moves, 1/2-1/2

Quarter-final (Chess World, vol.i n.1 (Mar 1865), p.22)
G Salmon vs Owen, 1858
(B00) Uncommon King's Pawn Opening, 31 moves, 0-1

Semi-final (Chess Praxis, 1860, p.421; The Era, 1865.08.20, p6)
Falkbeer vs R Brien, 1858 
(C00) French Defense, 48 moves, 1-0

Owen vs Loewenthal, 1858
(C21) Center Game, 52 moves, 0-1

Semi-final (Chess World, vol.i n.1 (Mar 1865), p.20)
R Brien vs Falkbeer, 1858
(C42) Petrov Defense, 42 moves, 1-0

Final (C.P.C, 1859, p.17; C.P.M., 1863, p.114)
Falkbeer vs Loewenthal, 1858
(C23) Bishop's Opening, 45 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final (C.P.C, 1859, p.19; C.P.M., 1863, p.117)
Falkbeer vs Loewenthal, 1858 
(C26) Vienna, 39 moves, 1-0

Final (C.P.C, 1859, p.73; C.P.M., 1863, p.116)
Loewenthal vs Falkbeer, 1858 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 26 moves, 1-0

Final (C.P.C, 1859, p.74; Chess Praxis, p.420)
Falkbeer vs Loewenthal, 1858
(C00) French Defense, 51 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final (C.P.M, 1866, p.76)
Loewenthal vs Falkbeer, 1858
(C63) Ruy Lopez, Schliemann Defense, 42 moves, 1/2-1/2

Final (Chess Praxis, p.419, C.P.M. 1866, p.57)
Falkbeer vs Loewenthal, 1858
(C00) French Defense, 46 moves, 1/2-1/2

25 games

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