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Dr Tim Harding  
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  Tim's correspondence chess history

Early inter-club correspondence matches: new discoveries

Since the publication of Tim Harding's book on the history of correspondence chess, the British Library have digitised a new and much larger selection of old newspapers, enabling further long-lost games to be found.

Tim wishes to acknowledge the assistance of Spanish chess historian Carlos Martín Sánchez who helped him find many of the following games. At present this page only has two of the recently discovered games and the rest will be added soon.

Preston – Birmingham & Edgbaston

Scotch Gambit (C44)

Correspondence match (game 1), 1853-54

The Chess Player’s Chronicle, NS iii (1855), p. 37, said: 'The Match by Correspondence, between the clubs of Birmingham & Edgbaston and the Preston Institution, has ended in favour of Preston, that club winning one game and drawing another.' This game was published in the Preston Chronicle, 28 January 1854, and the drawn game months later. The January 1854 report shows that this club at the Preston Institution, Avenham, was recently formed so the earlier club in Preston had either dissolved or remained separate.

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 exd4 4 Bc4 Bb4+ 5 c3 dxc3 6 0–0 c2 7 Qxc2 d6 8 a3 Bc5 9 b4 Bb6 10 Bb2 Nf6 11 Qb3 0–0 12 e5 dxe5 13 Nxe5 Nxe5 14 Bxe5 Ne4 15 Qf3?

After this weak move, Birmingham gets a powerful attack.

15...Qh4 16 Bd5 Ng5 17 Qb3 c6 18 Bc4 Ne4 19 Ra2 Kh8 20 Re2 Be6 21 Bxe6 fxe6 22 Qc2 Ng5 23 Nc3 Rad8 24 Na4 Bd4 25 Rfe1 Bxe5 26 Rxe5 Rf3 27 Nc5 Rdf8?

This loses the game, though it requires Preston's utmost efforts to win.

28 Rxg5 Qxg5 29 Nxe6 Qf5 30 Qxf5 R3xf5 31 Nxf8 Rxf8 32 Re7 Rb8 33 f4 Kg8 34 Kf2 Rf8 35 Ke3 Rf7 36 Re8+ Rf8 37 Rxf8+ Kxf8 38 Ke4 Ke7 39 Ke5 b6 40 a4 h5 41 g3 Kd7 42 h3 Ke7 43 g4 hxg4 44 hxg4 Kd7 45 g5

Well played; the fount of the game. Could scarcely be improved.

45...a5 46 bxa5 bxa5 47 Kd4 Kd6 48 g6 And Black resigned. 1–0


Birmingham & Edgbaston – Preston

Ruy Lopez (C66)

Correspondence match (game 2), 1853-54

This game was published in the Preston Chronicle, 19 August 1854.

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 Nf6 4 0–0 Be7 5 Re1 d6 6 d4 exd4 7 Nxd4 Bd7 8 Nxc6 Bxc6 9 Bd3 0–0 10 Nc3 Qd7 11 a3 a5 12 b3 Ng4 13 Bb2 Bf6 14 h3 Ne5 15 f4 Nxd3 16 Qxd3 Rae8 17 e5 Bh4 18 Re3 Re6 19 Rd1 Rd8 20 g3 Be7 21 Nd5 dxe5 22 Nxe7+ Rxe7 23 Rxe5 Qxd3 24 Rxd3 Rxe5 25 Bxe5 Rxd3 26 cxd3 a4 27 bxa4 Bxa4 28 Bxc7 f5 29 Kf2 Kf7 30 Ke3 h5 31 Kd4 Ke6 32 Kc5 g6 33 h4 Bc6 34 d4 Bd5 35 a4 Be4 36 a5 ½–½.

At a later date this year, it may be possible to release an annotated database of correspondence games played in the UK from the earliest times until 1914. This will be made available free of charge to purchasers of Tim's book. At present the database, first created during Tim's doctoral researches, is still being checked and supplemented. Tim's Ultracorr databases included all the games from the period he had collected at the time, but without the notes.