Chess in 1866

by Bill Wall


In 1866, George Mackenzie defeated Gustavus Charles Reichhelm (1839-1905), the champion of Philadelphia, for the US chess championship title (5 wins, 1 draw).


In 1866, W.R. Henry died.  This was the pseudonym of William Henry Russ (born in 1833), an American archivist.  He was the first person to collect all chess problems published in America and compiled a manuscript collection.  He adopted an 11-year old girl and proposed to her in Brooklyn when she turned 21.  When he rejected him, he shot her four times in the head.  He left her for dead (she survived), then tried to commit suicide by jumping into the river to drown himself.  Unfortunately, the tide was out   and not deep enough.  He climbed out of the river and shot himself twice in the head.  He died 10 days later in a hospital, lacking the will to win.  His chess book, published posthumously, was entitled American Chess Nuts, published in 1868.


In 1866, Alderman Job Nightingale Derbyshire was born.  He was a chess patron.


In 1866, a chess club was formed at Yale College called the Morphy Chess Club.  Its president was George D. Ballantine.  (source: The Progressive-Index, Feb 19, 1866)


In 1866, Yale defeated Harvard in a chess match.


In 1866, a jet (lignite) chessman (bishop) was found at Thelton, Norfolk.  It came from the Saxon period and may be of Norse manufacture.  It is engraved with lines and circles and is shaped like a small flat bottle.


In 1866, the Newburgh Chess Club was formed in New York.


In 1866, H.G. Hollingworth published an article on Chinese chess for the Royal Asiatic Society in Shanghai.


In 1866, Johannes Zukertort graduated after a full course in medicine from the University of Breslau.


On January 17, 1866, Karel Traxler was born in Czechoslovakia.  He introduced the Traxler variation (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 Bc5) in 1890.


On February 21, 1866, George Dickson Hutton was born in Cranshaws, England.  He introduced the ‘Hutton Pairing’ or ‘Cross-Pairing’ system for chess.


On March 14, 1866  Alexei Troitzky was born in St. Petersburg.  He is considered to have been one of the greatest chess composers of all time.


On March 18, 1866, Albert Heyde was born in Braunschweig, Germany.  He was a chess editor.


On June 20, 1866, the first British Championship was held in London and won by Cecil de Vere.  He won 28 guineas.  It was sponsored by the British Chess Association.


On June 20, 1866, Wilhelm Steinitz won the London knockout Handicap tournament


In July 1866, the first match with mechanical clocks, Anderssen-Steinitz, was played.


On August 10, 1866, Wilhelm Steinitz defeated Adolf Anderssen, 8-6 (8 wins, 6 losses, no draws). Steinitz later claimed that this was the beginning of his world championship reign, even though there was no suggestion of any title at stake.  Steinitz's prize money for this match was 100 pounds sterling (over $9,000 in today’s currency). Anderssen received 20 pounds sterling.


On August 11, 1866, the 2nd Counties Chess Association was held at Redcar.  It was won by Cecil De Vere.


On August 30, 1866,  Constant Ferdinand Burille was born in Boston.  He operated Ajeeb in the United States.


On September 1, 1866, Steinitz defeated Bird with 7 wins, 5 draws, 5 losses.


In November 1866, a chess club was formed in Washington, DC called the National Chess Club.  Its first president was J. M. Myers, who worked at the Treasury Department.  (source: National Republican, Nov 6, 1866)