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First Café Europa Tournament 1868-1869
by Joost van Winsen

   The New York Café Europa became a chess resort during the summer of 1868. On which day the establishment at 12 and 14 Division street, near Bowery, began welcoming the chess public is unknown, but George H. Mackenzie, chess editor of Turf, Field and Farm, first mentions the café in his column of September 4, 1868.(1)

WE are glad in the interest of chess players, to chronicle the establishment down town of rooms devoted solely to chess. Mr. Lieders, the proprietor of the "Café Europa" in Division street, has filled up a large room with the necessary boards, men, &c., and, judging from the popularity which it already enjoys among chess players, the "Café Europa" bids fair before long to become the headquarters of metropolitan chess.

   Amateurs were allowed to play chess in the café for a small daily payment. Frederick Perrin wrote in his chess column in The Spirit of the Times that in the café a game of chess was enlivened by a good cup of coffee and a cigar (September 26, 1868). It took a while before the café claimed the position that Mackenzie had reserved for the chess rooms. Café Europa arranged a handicap tournament near the end of 1868 that did justice to the title of headquarters of metropolitan chess. The handicap tournament drew an abundance of players: 48 contestants entered the fray. Known participants were James P. Barnett, Eugene Delmar, Gerbel, Lissner, George H. Mackenzie, James Mason, and Major H. Wernich. The entrance fee was $1.(2) There were prizes for first, second and third places. The amounts are unknown. Participants played against each other twice, draws did not count.(3)

   The reputation in New York was of a mammoth or monster tournament.(4) Charles H. Stanley, in The Round Table, figured out that 2,256 games had to be played. He wrote in the same report that an average of 75 to 80 games were contested each day.(5) The tournament started on December 10, 1868(6) and terminated on January 9, 1869. Many games were not played. The Round Table (January 9, 1869):

The proceedings of this gigantic tourney having commenced only on the 9th ultimo [sic], and notwithstanding the immense amount of play which they involve, are already approaching a determination. At the time we write upward of 960 games have been played, and although that number is considerably less than one half of what is requisite to fulfill the conditions of the tournament, yet, in order to surmount the ill effects consequent upon the dilatoriness of players, whereby the proceedings of similar organizations have been prolonged indefinitely, or extended to periods long after all interest in them has ceased, the committee has determined that the play shall close on Saturday evening, the 9th inst. (this day), and that the three prizes contended for shall be awarded to the respective winners of the greatest number of games up to that date.

   Perrin stated in The Spirit of Times of January 9, 1869, that only five to six contestants stood any change of carrying off the three prizes; "and once that fact determined, all interest in the matter ceases." Members of the managing committee were J. Leon, Mackenzie and Stanley. There were no general odds stipulated at the start of the contest; Stanley and J. Leon determined the odds for each pairing.(7) The prize winners, and their final scores, were:(8)

1  Mackenzie828
2  Delmar6913
3  Mason6917

   Not much is known of the early progress of the tournament as no scores were published during the first two weeks of play. It seems that Mackenzie quickly took the lead and never slowed down. A score published in Turf, Field and Farm of December 25, 1868, showed him far ahead of the field. Mackenzie had won 62 games and lost six by that date, Mason with 55 wins and 15 losses following behind.

   With less than a week to go, Mason stood second (65 wins, 17 losses), Barnett third (44 wins, 11 losses), Delmar fourth (59 wins, 13 losses), Lissner fifth (40 wins, 12 losses) and Wernich sixth (47 wins, 19 losses).(9) The division of second and third prizes was decided in favor of Delmar in the final days of the contest, during which he played about ten games. No final score of the tournament was published, only the results of the three prize winners.

   Only six games of this mammoth tournament have been found, although nearly a thousand were contested. Café Europa arranged four more tournaments between 1869 and 1870.

Mackenzie,GH — Gerbel
Odds of queen's rook
1868.12USA New York (Café Europa)
Annotations by George H. Mackenzie (Turf, Field and Farm)
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Nf3 Bb4 6.0-0 Bxc3 7.bxc3 d5
He ought to have castled at once; the move made enables White to plant his bishop at a3.
8.exd5 cxd5 9.Re1+ Be6 10.Bb5+ Nc6 11.Ba3 a6 12.Bxc6+ bxc6 13.d4 h6 14.Ne5 Rc8 15.Qd3 Nd7 16.Ng6 Rg8 17.Ne7 Rh8 18.Rxe6 Qb6
If 18...fxe6, White mates in five moves.
19.Nxd5+ fxe6 20.Qg6+ Kd8 21.Be7# 1-0
Turf, Field and Farm, 1868.12.13
Mason,J — Mackenzie,GH
Spanish: Closed (Center Attack)
1868.12USA New York (Café Europa)
Annotations by George H. Mackenzie (Turf, Field and Farm)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.e5 Ne4 7.0-0 Be7 8.Bxc6 dxc6 9.Qxd4 Bf5 10.Qc4 Qd5 11.Qe2 Rd8 12.Bf4 0-0 13.Nc3
This entails upon White the disadvantage of a doubled pawn, but it is difficult to say what better move he has at this juncture.
13...Nxc3 14.bxc3 Qe4 15.Qxe4 Bxe4 16 Rac1 Ba3 17 Rb1 b5 18 Rb3 Bc5 19 Rb2 Rde8
The other rook here looks both a more natural and a better move.
20.Nd4 Bb6 21.h3 Bd5 22.Re1 c5 23.Nb3 f6 24.Be3
We should have preferred playing 24.Rbb1.
24...Rxe5 25.Rbb1 Rfe8 26.Red1 Be4 27.Rd2 c4 28.Bxb6
This move was not sufficiently considered, and gives Black the best of the game.
28...cxb3 29.Bxc7 bxc2 30.Rc1 R5e7 31.Ba5 Bg6 32.Rcxc2
White is now compelled to give up a rook for bishop and pawn, leaving Black with an easy endgame to win.
32...Bxc2 33.Rxc2 Re2 34.Rxe2 Rxe2 35.a3 Kf7 36.g3 Ke6 37.Kg2 Kd5 38.Kf3 Ra2 39.Bb4 Kc4 0-1
Turf, Field and Farm, 1868.12.25
Mackenzie,GH — Barnett,JP
Evans Gambit: Morphy
1869.01?USA New York (Café Europa)
Annotations by Charles H. Stanley (The Round Table)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Bc5 6.d4 exd4 7.0-0 d6 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 Na5 10.Bd3 Ne7 11.d5 0-0 12.Bb2 f6 13.Ne2 Ng6 14.Qd2 Bd7 15.Ng3 c5 16.Rac1 Bc7
We believe that 16...a6 is generally preferred in this move; but we do not consider that any defense yet discovered is quite satisfactory against this attack.
17.Nf5 b5
We should, in preference, have taken knight with bishop.
18.g4 c4 19.Bb1 Nb7 20.Kh1 Ba5 21.Bc3 Bxf5 22.exf5 Ne5
It strikes us that this move has been too long delayed, as it is not now compulsory on White's part to make the preferred exchange.
23.Nd4 Bxc3 24.Rxc3 Qd7 25.Ne6 Rfe8 26.Rg3 Nc5
Apparently his best move; but valid defense against the concentration of forces bearing upon the position of Black's king is now obviously impossible.
27.g5 Nxe6 28.fxe6
It strikes us that 28.gxf6, prior to this capture, would have been a far more executive move.
28...Qe7 29.f4 Ng6 30.f5 Ne5 31.Rfg1 g6 32.gxf6 Qxf6 33.fxg6
Had he played 33...h5, White would have continued 34.Qh6, also forcing checkmate in a very few moves.
34.g7+ Kg8 35.Bxh7+ Kxh7 36.Rh3+ 1-0
The gamescore from Turf, Field and Farm continued 36.g8Q+ Rxg8 37.Rh3+ and mates next move.
Turf, Field and Farm, 1869.01.08
The Round Table, 1869.01.09
Barnett,JP — Mackenzie,GH
1869.01?USA New York (Café Europa)
Annotations by Charles H. Stanley (The Round Table)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 d6 5.h3 Nf6 6.Be3 Bb6 7.0-0 Be6 8.Bb3 Qd7 9.Qd2 h6 10.Nc3 g5
A daring innovation on the routine of this staid but sterling opening. We are not prepared to pronounce the attack thus commenced by second player as premature, as the risks involved are to so great an extent mutual.
11.Nh2 Nh5 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.Bxd5
Our impulse would have led us to the capture with pawn in place of bishop, thus appearing to gain a time upon adversary, as he must then move queen's knight, which we should follow up by the advance of queen's pawn, and use other active measures for breaking up Black's centre.
13...Nf4 14.Ng4 Qe7 15.Bxb6 axb6 16.Ne3 h5 17.a3
White here loses time which he can ill afford. 17.Nf5 would have been surely a far better move than this.
17...Nd4 18.c3 Nc6
A judicious retreat. 18...Nxh3+, although inviting in appearance, would be disastrous in effect; as White would not, of course, take knight this move, but, moving his king, would win the piece at leisure.
A continuance of the nice judgment evinced by his last move would have gone far to win White's game, but his play hereabouts gives evidence of demoralization.
19...Qf6 20.Nd5 Nxd5 21.Bxd5 Ne7 22.Bxb7 Rb8 23.Bd5 c6 24.Ba2 Ng6 25.Qe3 Nf4 26.Rad1 g4 27.h4
An ill-considered move, founded on the idea of "forking" queen and knight with pawn.
27...Qxh4 28.g3 Nh3+ (...), 0-1
The Round Table, 1869.01.09
Delmar,E — Lissner
Odds of queen's knight
1869.01?USA New York (Café Europa)
Annotations by George H. Mackenzie (Turf, Field and Farm)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 d6 4.d4 h6 5.d5 Na5 6.Bd3 b6 7.b4 Nb7 8.0-0 Nf6 9.Bb2 Bg4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Qxf3 Be7 12.Bb5+ Nd7
12...Kf8 would have been less disastrous.
13.Bc6 Rb8 14.Qg4 Bg5 15.f4 Bxf4 16.Qxg7 Rf8 17.Rxf4
An excellent move; Mr. Delmar's eminently attacking style of play is well exemplified in this little game.
17...exf4 18.Bf6 Qc8
We have seldom seen a more deplorable position than poor Black's at the present moment; though a rook ahead he has not a piece that can be moved to any advantage.
19.Re1 Nd8 20.e5 Nxc6 21.exd6+ Nce5 22.Bxe5 Nxe5 23.Qxe5+ Kd7 24.Qe7# 1-0
Turf, Field and Farm, 1869.01.15
Mackenzie,GH — Delmar,E
Evans Gambit
1869.01USA New York (Café Europa)
Annotations by Charles H. Stanley (The Round Table)
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.b4 Bxb4 5.c3 Bc5 6.0-0 d6 7.d4 exd4 8.cxd4 Bb6 9.Nc3 Na5 10.Bd3 Ne7 11.d5 0-0 12.Bb2 f6 13.Qd2 Ng6 14.Ne2 c5 15.Rac1
15.Kh1 is the orthodox move here.
15...Ne5 16.Nxe5 fxe5 17.Ng3 Bd7 18.Kh1
We are inclined to think that White would have done better in playing his knight to f5.
18...c4 19.Bb1
Taking the pawn would cost him the "exchange."
19...Rf4 20.Bc3 Bc7 21.Ne2 Rh4 22.f4 b5 23.fxe5 dxe5 24.d6
This move was not sufficiently considered, and ought to have lost White the game.
Correctly played; this portion of the game is very well managed by Mr. Delmar.
25.Kxh2 Qh4+ 26.Kg1 Bb6+ 27.Nd4 b4 28.Qe1 Qh6 29.Qf2 Be6 30.Bd2 Bxd4 31.Bxh6 gxh6 32.Rcd1 Bxf2+ 33.Rxf2 Kg7 34.d7 Nb7 35.Bc2 Rd8 36.Kf1 a5 37.Ke1 b3 38.axb3 cxb3 39.Bd3 Rxd7
Black loses time by the capture of this pawn. Had he simply advanced his queen's rook's pawn, he must have won in a few moves, we believe.
40.Bb5 Rxd1+ 41.Kxd1 Nc5 42.Kc1 Bd7 43.Bc4 Kg6 44.Kb2 Be6 45.Bb5 a4 46.Rd2 Bg4 47.Rd5 Nxe4 48.Rxe5 Nd2 49.Ka3 Bd7 50.Bd3+ Kf6 51.Re2 (...), 0-1
The Round Table, 1869.01.23

(1) Mackenzie's first report on Café Europa in his column in The Albion was published in the issue of September 5, 1868. The Spirit of the Times mentioned the café for the first time on September 26, 1868.
(2) The Spirit of the Times, November 28, 1868.
(3) Turf, Field and Farm, November 27, 1868.
(4) The Round Table, January 2, 1869; The Spirit of the Times, January 2 and 9, 1869.
(5) The Round Table, January 2, 1869. The British journal The Chess Player's Quarterly Chronicle (April 1869, page 188) also mentioned the number of 2,256. Perrin explained in a communication with J. Archer of Boston how the total was calculated (The Spirit of the Times, January 23, 1869): "To ascertain the number of games necessary to be played in a tournament of two games each, exclusive of draws, multiply the number of players by the same number less one. For example, say that the recent grand tourney at the Cafe Europa consisted of 48 players; multiply that number by 47, which gives the result of 2,256 games played in all."
(6) Turf, Field and Farm, November 27, 1868; The Albion, November 28, 1868; The Spirit of the Times, December 12, 1868; New York Tribune, December 2, 1868. Turf, Field and Farm of December 18, 1868, wrote that the tournament started on November 10, 1868, but this is very unlikely. The same paper announced the tournament in its issue of November 27, 1868, telling that it would probably start on December 10, 1868.
(7) The Spirit of the Times, December 5, 1868.
(8) Turf, Field and Farm, January 15, 1869; The Round Table, January 23, 1869.
(9) The Round Table, January 9, 1869. The Albion offered the following figures on January 9, 1869: Mackenzie +78 -8, Mason +65 -17, Barnett +39 -10, Delmar +54 -12, Lissner +40 -12, and Wernich +47 -17. Turf, Field and Farm of January 8, 1869: Barnett +44 -11; Delmar +59 -18; Mackenzie +80 -8; Mason +69 -17. Delmar's score in Turf, Field and Farm is unlikely reviewing the final score.
© 2011 Joost van Winsen.  All rights Reserved.

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