Charles Henry Stanley vs. Eugene Rousseau Match
December, 1845
New Orleans, LA

                            1                   2                   3
          1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1
Stanley   1 1 1  0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1   1 0 0 1 0  0   1  1 0  1 1 1  15 (w/8 draws)
Rousseau  0 0 0  1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0   0 1 1 0 1  1   0  0 1  0 0 0   8 (w/8 draws)


  • The Stanley-Rousseau Match was the first event held for the general purpose of recognizing the best player in the United States, although the term "US Champion" did not exist at the time. A match for bragging rights between two of the top players in the country, Charles Henry Stanley (1819-1901), secretary of the New York Chess Club, and Eugene Rousseau (1810-1870), doyen of the New Orleans Chess Club (and distant relation of French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau; [you know, that guy who was always confessing?]), attracted a respectable amount of attention, due to the North-South conflict aspect of the contest. In a few years, everyone would get more North-South conflict than they could have wanted.

  • The match was to be won by the first player to win 15 games, draws not counting. Stanley was White in the odd-numbered games. Play was conducted at the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans, at no time limit (time limits being decades away also).

  • The prize fund was $1000, an enormous sum in those days, and was winner-take-all. Divided purses didn't come about until about 40 years later.

  • By the time of the 1st American Chess Congress in 1857, Stanley was a shell of his former self, due to personal demons (as they call it today in the sports world; I trust that everyone knows what it means when they say that an athlete is suffering from "personal demons"). Being knocked out in the first round by Theodor Lichtenheim, Stanley went on to play a match with Morphy, which he lost by a 4- score, despite receiving Pawn and Move odds. Morphy generously sent the $100 stake to Stanley's wife. This may have something to do with Stanley's daughter later being named Pauline. (No, I'm not making this up, check Stanley's entry at wikipedia.org, if you don't believe it).

  • One highlight of this match is the first known occurrence in serious play of what later became known as The Morphy Defense, i.e. 3... a6 in the Ruy Lopez, used by Stanley in Games 6 and 16 of the match. Don't get too excited, and think it should be called The Stanley Defense, though. He may have played it, but he didn't really understand it, using it only to drive away the Bishop with an immediate b5. It was Morphy who understood the value of keeping that move in reserve and so made the defense playable. But since Rousseau's second in this match was none other than... (drumroll!) Ernest Morphy, this could very well be what got 8-year old Paul thinking about the move himself.

  • Career Highlights for Stanley: Defeating Howard Staunton in a Pawn-and-2-Move handicap match. Three match victories (and one loss) to John W. Schulten, match victory against Charles Vezin.

  • Career Highlights for Rousseau: Narrow loss in a 100 game match against Lionel Kieseritsky in 1839, offhand games with Adolph Anderssen, match victories against Benjamin Oliver and John W. Schulten.

  • Two foreign emigres fighting it out for the US Championship. Well, at least one thing about this match is like the modern day!

  • As for the quality of the games... erm... well, let's say that it may be an exciting and encouraging thought for the strong club player of today to consider that if he can ever get his hands on a time machine and go back to 1845 that he'd have an excellent shot at becoming US Champion.

  • Again on the quality of the games, Stanley himself had this to say in his book of the match (which had the distinction of having perhaps the worst title in chess history: Thirty-One Games at Chess, Comprising the Whole Number of Games Played in a Match Between Mr. Eugene Rousseau, of New Orleans, and Mr. C.H. Stanley, Secretary of the New York Chess Club): "It must be remembered... that the thirty-one games now published form the whole number occurring in the late match, and are not, as is usually the case with published games, a mere selection of the finest specimens of play. It must also be borne in mind that chess players, like the rest of mortality, are subject to occasional ailments, both bodily and mental, which, to a certain degree, will deteriorate from their capabilities of intellectual exertion."

  • Who says that excuses are only for losers, huh?

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