The Gastineau Garden Party 1873

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My goal is to make chess the most widely played game in this planet. Although this may be overly ambitious, this is the right estimate looking at the amount of effort and dedication put in this website. This blog is just a by-product from the youthful exuberance of a 16 year old. I hope you will support me in this journey which I have undertaken.

May 13, 2020

I strongly believe that to become better at chess and to improve development, style and strategy one has to go through games played in the past. However, that brings the problem of which games to select and through which can the average chess player benefit from.

This specific tournament games I want to show are from 1873. The players have a romantic style and it greatly differs from what we see from modern games. This was just 22 years after the first international chess tournament (London 1851 tournament) was held.

The event was reported on June 21. As Cecil De Vere was responsible for the chess column at that time, it is reasonable to assume that the report was his. The report goes as follows.

“On the 14th inst. a gathering of chess players took place at the residence of Mr. H.F. Gastineau, Albion- Terrace, Peckham, the occasion being one of those pleasant summer reunions which that gentleman delights to bring about, and which, by alluring the habitues of public rooms and clubs from their not very wholesome haunts, affords them a change that they are much in need of. The intention was that the chess play, as likewise the preliminary entertainment, should take place in the open air amongst the flowers; but the weather did not permit this arrangement to be carried out. About five o’clock some forty guests sat down, and amongst the number were Messrs Steinitz, Lowenthal, Horwitz, Blackburne, De Vere, Potter, Coburn, Major Martin, Dr. Ballard, Chappell, Down, Pfahl, and Vyse. After ample justice had been done to the repast, the various gentlemen present were paired off for warfare – some indoors, some in a greenhouse, and others in a summer house in which it is stated that Oliver Goldsmith used to smoke his pipe.

The chief event of the evening was a consultation game, which was played in Mr. Gastineau’s conservatory, the combatants being Messrs Blackburne, De Vere, and Ballard on the one side, against Messrs .Potter, Coburn, and Bussey on the other. The latter won the first move, and they played P-KB4, an opening lately brought into vogue by it’s recurrence in the Bird and Wisker match. The game which followed was a highly interesting one, and was maintained on both sides with the greatest vigour. It’s duration was nine hours, viz., from a quarter past six p.m. until a quarter past three the following morning. the combatants thus began playing ere daylight had departed in the west, and when it appeared again from the east they were still fighting.”

Now that the context is given. Let’s enjoy some old historical photos from the event, shall we!

Good old Horwitz and Potter above

Blooming Johann Löwenthal

A smiling Joseph Blackburne

A stern Wilhelm Steinitz

The gentlemen: Cecil De Vere


Now let’s look at the games of the event, which was very hard to find on the internet. One has to do all the nasty little digging but I got you covered.

In this match, the white team consisted of “W.N.Potter, H.I.Coburn B.F.Bussey” and the black team consisted of “J.H.Blackburne, C.V. De Vere, W.R.Ballard.”. Although white won, I deeply rooted for the black team.

In the next game from the white team we have: “Blackburne, Zuckertort, Gastineau” and from the Black team we have: “Lowenthal, Horwitz, Chappell” . The Blackburne, Zukertort combination is so deadly and I expected White to win the game.

The next game is included to show that the ‘Amateurs‘ involved in these events were not such weak players as one might think.

And a last third game to end this article with. White has Bird and Zukertort, while Black has Potter and Wisker.

The intent of writing this blog article was to relish these small historical tidbits and learn from them in an enjoyable and fun way. I hope that you’ve learned something new about chess and I strongly recommend you to read my romantic chess series if you like the aforementioned games as they both are played in almost the same style.

Happy Learning,
Yash Mehta

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