Chess in 1893

by Bill Wall


In 1893, Alfred Binet made a study of the connection between mathematics and chess.  After conducting interviews with a large number of leading chess players, he found that over 90% of them were good mental calculators and had good memories. On the other hand, he found that some mathematicians played chess, but few were strong players.  Binet noted that the abilities of human calculators started around age 4, whereas the ability to play strong chess started around age 11.  One of Binet’s conclusions concerning human calculators and chess masters was the importance of training and experience.  Despite his suggestion that an excellent chess player is innate (he wrote that “One becomes a good player but one is born an excellent player”), he observed that training the memory daily encouraged the maintenance and/or the development of recall performance.

In 1893, the first of a series of famous cable matches between the U.S. and England was played.


In 1893, Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) wrote a short story called Moxon’s Master.  It was first published in his 1893 short story collection Can Such Things Be? (and reprinted in 1909).  It appeared in the San Francisco Examiner newspaper on April 16, 1899.  It is one of the first descriptions of a robot in English literature.  The story describes a chess-playing automaton or robot that murders its creator, Mr. Moxon.  The unnamed narrator converses with Moxon at his house, who is playing chess with his robot.  The narrator leaves, but later returns to the house and finds that Moxon wins the chess game with a checkmate and the automaton strangles him in an apparent fit of rage.


In 1893, Hermann Helms began writing a chess column in the Brooklyn Eagle.  It continued until 1955.  It was the longest running uninterrupted chess column under the same authorship.


In Jan 1893, the Dutch Federation monthly magazine SCHAKEND NEDERLAND was founded. 


On Jan 6, 1893, Antal, Aladar was born in Jaszladany, Hungary.  He wrote a book on openings.


In February 1893, there was a resolution to close the chess room in the Oakland library.  The chess players were becoming a nuisance.  Men came and played chess all day and requested the privileges of smoking in the library while playing chess.  The final straw was when a group sat there morning til night and finally asked to be provided with a deck of cards.


On Feb 23, 1893, Gerald Frank Anderson was born in Newcastle, South Africa.  He was a British chess problemist. 


In March 1893, General Hiram Barden died while playing chess at the Metropolitan Club in Washington, DC.  He was the inventor of the Berdan range finder, torpedo, and rifle.  (source: New York Times, April 1, 1893)


On April 13, 1893, Jean Dufresne died.  He was a chess writer.


On April 30, 1893, Gyula Breyer was born in Budapest.  He was Hungarian champion in 1912. 


On Oct 14, 1893, Emanuel Lasker won the New York International, held at the Manhattan Chess Club, with 13 straight wins and no losses and no draws.  He won 4.5 points ahead of 2nd place Albin.  President Grover Cleveland offered a gift of a $500 gold medal as a prize.  (source: The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb 9, 1893)


On Nov 21, 1893, Ernst Gruenfeld was born in Vienna.  He was German champion in 1927. 


In late 1893, Dr. Emanuel Lasker lectured on differential equations at Tulane University in New Orleans.