Canada's Nineteenth Century Chess Visitors I: Bird and Mackenzie

By Stephen Wright

(All the games in this article are available in a PGN file.)

Canada is a relatively young nation: unsurprisingly, organized chess in this country is also a comparatively recent development. The first meeting of the Canadian Chess Association took place in 1872, and the first Canadian champion was crowned in 1873. Chess clubs had existed before confederation; for our purposes the most significant was the Montreal Chess Club, founded in 1844, although there is evidence to suggest a forerunner in the city some ten years before that date. Then as now (with a few notable exceptions), it was the largest urban centres which tended to attract the strongest and greatest numbers of chess players. In the nineteenth century, indeed until the early 1970s, the largest city in Canada was Montreal; thus, the Montreal Chess Club was a destination for the chess masters who visited Canada in the last quarter of the century. Given the club's importance, we should meet some of its leading members:

Thomas Workman (1813–1889), a founding member of the Montreal Chess Club, businessman, MP, president of Molson's Bank and Sun Mutual Life Insurance;

Henry Aspinwall Howe (1815–1900), LLD, Canadian champion in 1877 and 1883, principal of the McGill High School;

William Henry Hicks (1816–1899), Canadian champion in 1874, principal of the McGill Normal School (now part of the Faculty of Education, McGill University);

Joseph William Shaw (1834–1897), Canadian champion in 1881, organizer of the first round-robin correspondence tournament in North America;

John Henderson (1836–1896), placed second in the Canadian championships of 1881-1882 and 1884, winner of Shaw's correspondence tournament and a subsequent event run by Dr. Isaac Ryall of the Hamilton Chess Club, prize-winning problem composer, mayor of St. Liboire for eight years;

Jacob Gottschalk Ascher (1841–1912), Canadian champion in 1878, tied for first in 1883, businessman.

McCord Museum photographs of Workman and a group shot of the Canadian Chess Association in 1889 which includes all the others mentioned above.

As can be seen, competitive chess in those years was largely the domain of those belonging to the upper echelons of society. It says much for the erudition of these gentlemen that four of them wrote chess columns at one time or another: Hicks (Canadian Illustrated News), Shaw (Canadian Spectator), Henderson (Canadian Spectator, [Montreal] Gazette), and Ascher ([Montreal] Daily Witness, New Dominion Monthly, Sport).

Henry Edward Bird (1830-1908)

Canada's first chess visitor of note was the English master Henry Bird. Bird was a railway accountant by profession, and as a junior partner in the firm of Coleman, Turquand, Youngs & Co. (a distant predecessor to the present-day Ernest and Young) he travelled to Canada in 1860 to work on the books of the Great Western Railway, whose main corridor of operation was Windsor to Niagara Falls. Bird's professional duties took him to North America several more times in the 1860s; in 1866 he was forced to cut short a match in London with Steinitz, trailing by the score of 7-5 with 5 draws, to attend to business matters on this continent. Presumably Bird would not have missed an opportunity to play some chess on these trips, but no record of his chess activities in Canada during this time has come down to us.

By the mid-1870s Bird was living in New York, having largely retired to indulge in his favourite pastime. In 1876 he participated in the 4th American Congress (Philadelphia), and the Cafe International and Clipper tournaments (both in New York). Taking advantage of the master's relative proximity, Thomas Workman invited Bird to visit Montreal, and he duly arrived in January, 1877. Bird sojourned in the area for over three weeks, mainly in Montreal but also including several days in Sherbrooke. No indication of the cost involved is given, but writing fifteen years later John Henderson noted of Bird's visit that "then, as now, we had several liberal patrons of the game who vied with each other in making the period of his stay both profitable and agreeable." [Gazette, 19 November 1892]

"The chess players of Montreal show a great inclination to make the most of the visit of Mr. Bird to Montreal, and he is just as willing to make any arrangements which his friendly opponents may suggest before he leaves the city." [Canadian Illustrated News, 10 February 1877] The 'arrangements' consisted of simultaneous displays, consultation games, and handicapped and offhand games. The various media reports occasionally differ on the numbers involved, or who won from the master on a given day, but Bird gave three simultaneous displays in Montreal, as follows:

On 23 January Bird contested four games simultaneously against two or three opponents consulting on each board: The games were finished on 27 January with Bird scoring +2 (C and D) =1 (A) -1 (B). It should be noted the practice of adjourning a display for a dinner break or if the evening was going too late was not unusual, and presumably reflected the prevalent attitude toward adjournments - receiving analytical assistance was considered unethical, and in some events players were banned from studying adjourned positions.

Presumably the master also played many offhand games during his stay, but these are generally not mentioned in the newspaper reports of the time. We do know of at least two games at knight odds that were published - see below. Detailed accounts of Bird's time in Sherbrooke are not contained in any of the newpapers I have access to, but two figures are given - a total of fifty games played with only one loss during the visit, including a seventeen-board simultaneous in which Bird won every game. One incident from the display was described in the July 1877 New Dominion Monthly:

According to newspaper reports the Montreal players who won from Mr. Bird were Ascher, Atkinson, Barry, Henderson, Hicks, Howe, Saunders, and Workman, while Barry, Hall, Hicks, Henderson, Shaw, and Workman achieved draws. Results in simultaneous displays might not seem too important to us now, but at the time the percentage achieved by different clubs against the same visiting master was a way of comparing relative strengths and gaining bragging rights. The Montrealers were pleased to learn that in a recent twenty-board display New Yorkers were only able to take one game from Bird: "We have good reason for saying that in the opinion of Mr. Bird the play on the part of the Montreal Club may compare favourably with that of any other body of players with whom he has contested during his visit to this continent." [Canadian Illustrated News, 3 February 1877]

And what of the games? According to the contemporary Dictionary of National Biography, Bird was "well known for his rapidity (R. J. Buckley says he once played three games in ten minutes at Simpson's, scoring one and a half), dash, and eccentric openings....Unfortunately his patience and judgment were very inferior to his power of combination." From this description one would expect some sparkling combinations, with the occasional 'accident' caused by rushed or superficial thinking. It is dangerous to project a generalized comment such as this onto a master's play, but some of the games exhibit the mentioned traits:

[Event "Game - QN odds"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Bird, Henry E"] [Black "Shaw, Joseph W"] [Result "1-0"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/R1BQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] [PlyCount "31"] [EventDate "1877.01.29"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.21"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe5 Bd6 5. d4 exd3 6. Bxd3 Bxe5 7. fxe5 Ne7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bg5 Qd4+ 10. Kh1 Qxe5 11. Bxh7+ Kxh7 12. Qh5+ Kg8 13. Rae1 Qc5 14. Rxe7 f6 15. Rxg7+ Kxg7 16. Bh6+ {[L'Opinion Publique, 15 February 1877]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.01.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Atkinson, William"] [Black "Bird, Henry E"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D00"] [Annotator "Rev. C.E. Ranken"] [PlyCount "33"] [EventDate "1877.01.??"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.24"] 1. d4 d5 2. Nc3 g6 3. Bf4 Bg7 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e3 {White could now win a pawn by Nb5, and at the next move also, which both players seem to have overlooked.} Nf6 6. Be2 O-O 7. O-O Nh5 8. Bg3 Nxg3 9. fxg3 Kh8 10. h3 f5 11. Kh2 e5 12. Nxe5 Nxe5 13. dxe5 Bxe5 14. Nxd5 Bxb2 {Weak; he should have played Be6 or Qd6. Mr. Bird's next move simply throws away the game, which is, on his part, far beneath his usual force.} 15. Bc4 Bxa1 16. Qxa1+ Kg8 ({This was, of course, played without reflection, but anything else would have met with the same result; for, if} 16... Rf6 17. Nxf6 Kg7 18. Ng4+ Kf8 19. Qh8+ Ke7 20. Qf6+ { and mates next move.}) 17. Ne7# {[Chess Player's Chronicle, 1 May 1877]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.01.22"] [Round "?"] [White "Bird, Henry E"] [Black "Barry, John"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C52"] [Annotator "William H. Hicks"] [PlyCount "88"] [EventDate "1877.01.??"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.21"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. Qb3 Qe7 7. O-O h6 8. Ba3 d6 9. d4 Bb6 10. dxe5 Nxe5 11. Nxe5 Qxe5 12. Bxf7+ {This is an embarassing move for Black.} Kf8 13. Bxg8 Rxg8 14. Nd2 Qe6 15. c4 Kf7 16. Kh1 Rf8 17. f4 Kg8 18. f5 Qf7 {Much care is required on both sides at this point.} 19. Rf3 { 19.Bb2 seems to be White's proper move here.} Bd4 20. Raf1 c5 21. Rh3 b6 22. Bb2 Bf6 23. Rg3 Kh7 24. Bxf6 Qxf6 25. Rg6 Qe7 26. Qg3 Rf6 27. Rf4 Bd7 28. h4 Rg8 29. Rfg4 Be8 {Black's game is more hopeful than it was a few moves ago.} 30. Rxf6 Qxf6 31. Nf3 Bf7 32. Ng5+ Kh8 {If Black had attempted to win the White knight he would have speedily lost the game.} 33. Nxf7+ Qxf7 34. Qxd6 Qxc4 35. f6 {A bad move of which Black takes immediate advantage.} Qf1+ 36. Kh2 Qxf6 37. Qc7 Qe6 38. Kg3 Qxa2 39. e5 Qb3+ 40. Kh2 Qe6 41. Rg3 Qf5 42. Qe7 Qf4 43. Kh3 a5 44. Rg4 Qf8 {The latter part of the game is carefully played by Black. [Canadian Illustrated News, 19 May 1877.]} 0-1 [Event "Consultation game"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.01.23"] [Round "?"] [White "Henderson/Watkins/Hicks"] [Black "Bird, Henry E"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B44"] [Annotator "William H. Hicks"] [PlyCount "93"] [EventDate "1877.01.23"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.21"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Bd3 Nc6 6. Be3 d5 7. Nxc6 bxc6 8. e5 Nd7 9. f4 Nc5 10. O-O Nxd3 11. cxd3 a5 12. d4 Rb8 13. Qc2 Qb6 14. b3 Ba6 15. Rf3 g6 16. Nc3 Be7 17. Rc1 Bb7 18. Na4 Qa7 19. Nc5 Bxc5 20. Qxc5 Qxc5 21. Rxc5 Ra8 22. Bd2 a4 23. b4 Kd7 24. Rfc3 Rhc8 25. g4 Ba6 26. Kg2 a3 {The younger player will perceive the effect of taking this pawn with rook. The advance of this pawn was a bad move for Black.} 27. Ra5 Bc4 28. Rcxa3 Rxa5 29. Rxa5 Rc7 30. a4 h6 31. Ra8 Rc8 32. Rxc8 Kxc8 33. Kg3 Kd7 34. f5 h5 35. fxg6 fxg6 36. gxh5 gxh5 37. Kf4 Be2 38. Kg5 Bg4 39. a5 Kc7 40. Kf6 Bf5 41. Ke7 h4 42. a6 Kb6 43. Kd6 Kxa6 44. Kxc6 Bd3 45. b5+ {The object of this move is very evident.} Bxb5+ 46. Kd6 Kb7 47. Kxe6 {"and ultimately White wins." [Canadian Illustrated News, 31 March 1877]} 1-0 [Event "Game - KN odds"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.01.29"] [Round "?"] [White "Bird, Henry E"] [Black "Shaw, Joseph W"] [Result "1-0"] [Annotator "William H. Hicks"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/RNBQKB1R w KQkq - 0 1"] [PlyCount "99"] [EventDate "1877.01.29"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.21"] 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Bc5 3. b4 Bb6 4. a4 a5 5. Ra3 Nf6 6. Rg3 Bxf2+ {A bold move in a contest with a player of Mr. Bird's strength.} 7. Kxf2 Nxe4+ 8. Kg1 Nxg3 9. hxg3 d5 10. Bd3 e4 11. Be2 axb4 12. Bb2 O-O 13. d3 Bf5 14. Nd2 c6 15. dxe4 Bxe4 16. Rh4 {A good move.} Qb6+ {Driving the White king into safe quarters.} 17. Kh2 f5 18. Ba1 Rxa4 19. c4 Ra5 20. Nxe4 fxe4 21. Bd4 c5 22. Be5 d4 23. Rxe4 { The last three or four moves of White are excellently played.} Qh6+ 24. Rh4 Qe3 25. Bd3 h6 26. Bf4 Qf2 27. Qh5 Ra1 {The game is very interesting at this point. } 28. Qd5+ Kh8 29. Rxh6+ {A move that exposes the Black king to a ruinous attack.} gxh6 30. Qe5+ Kg8 31. Qe6+ Rf7 32. Bh7+ Kh8 {The best defensive move.} 33. Qe8+ Kg7 34. Qg8+ Kf6 35. Qg6+ Ke7 36. Qd6+ Ke8 37. Qxb8+ Ke7 38. Qd6+ Ke8 39. Qe6+ Kd8 {Again the best defence.} 40. Qxf7 Qg1+ 41. Kh3 Qh1+ 42. Kg4 Qd1+ 43. Kf5 Qc2+ 44. Kf6 Ra6+ 45. Kg7 Qe2 46. Bc7+ Kc8 47. Bf5+ Re6 48. Bd6 Kd8 49. Qc7+ Ke8 50. Qc8# {[Canadian Ilustrated News, 17 March 1877]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.02.10"] [Round "?"] [White "Ascher, Jacob G"] [Black "Bird, Henry E"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C21"] [Annotator "William H. Hicks"] [PlyCount "49"] [EventDate "1877.01.??"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.21"] 1. e4 e5 2. d4 exd4 3. Nf3 Bb4+ 4. c3 dxc3 5. bxc3 Bc5 6. Bc4 Qe7 7. O-O Nc6 { 7...h6 seems a necessary move here.} 8. e5 b6 9. Bg5 Qf8 {He has no other move, and his game is very much cramped already.} 10. Re1 h6 11. Bh4 g5 12. Bg3 Nge7 13. Nbd2 Nf5 14. Ne4 {Looks promising.} Be7 15. Nd6+ {Better than checking at f6.} cxd6 16. exd6 Nxg3 17. hxg3 Kd8 18. dxe7+ Nxe7 19. Ne5 Rh7 20. Qd3 f5 21. Rad1 Ng8 {The only move.} 22. Qd5 {Winning a piece.} Kc7 23. Qxa8 Re7 24. Qxa7+ Bb7 25. Ba6 {[Canadian Illustrated News, 2 June 1877]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1877.02.10"] [Round "?"] [White "Hicks, William H"] [Black "Bird, Henry E"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "D00"] [Annotator "A.P.Barnes"] [PlyCount "97"] [EventDate "1877.01.??"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.20"] 1. d4 d5 2. f4 {If White had commenced the game with 1.f4 and his opponent replied 1...d5, would White have thought of answering with 2.d4? Yet that position is produced by this move, which we regard with great disfavour. It weakens the e-pawn terribly.} Nf6 3. e3 Bf5 {Nor do we like any better this manner of bringing out the queen's bishop, which is more likely to render effective service on its own side of the board.} 4. Nf3 h6 {This appears an unnecessary precaution.} 5. Bd3 Bg4 6. O-O e6 7. c3 Bxf3 8. Qxf3 {8.gxf3 appears rather hazardous: but, considering the very backward state of Black's game, it looks well worth attention. It certainly appears likely to give White a most formidable centre of pawns, and Black's opportunities for attack are not great. In any case, we think capturing with the rook would have been better than doing so with the queen.} c5 9. Bc2 {Was there any occasion for this retreat? Both players appear to lose time on one or two moves in the opening.} Qb6 10. b3 Nbd7 11. f5 {A premature advance, which it appears should have cost him the game.} e5 12. dxc5 Bxc5 13. b4 Bd6 14. Nd2 e4 {Black now gains some advantage, and with ordinary care ought to win.} 15. Qe2 Qc7 16. h3 Qxc3 17. Nb3 Be5 {If, instead of this useless move, Black had played 17...Qe5, White's reply is 18.g4 when Black can exchange queens, win another pawn safely, and have a winning position - White's e-pawn being very weak.} 18. Rb1 Rc8 19. Nc5 Nxc5 {Black, apparently, has delayed castling, fearing an attack on the kingside: but at this point it appears to be imperative that he should wait no longer, and, indeed, it also appears safe enough. The course he chooses soon leads to disaster.} 20. bxc5 Qxc5 21. Ba4+ Ke7 {21...Kd8 is but little better.} 22. Rxb7+ Rc7 23. Rb5 Qc4 24. Ba3+ Bd6 25. Bxd6+ Kxd6 26. Qd1 Rhc8 27. Rb3 Qxf1+ {An ingenious attempt to retrieve the game, which is, however, foiled by the correctness of White's play.} 28. Qxf1 {If 28.Kxf1 Black would probably win. Mr. Hicks retains his queen very cleverly.} Rc1 29. Rb6+ axb6 30. Bd1 R8c2 31. Kh2 Rd2 32. Qf4+ Kc6 33. Ba4+ b5 34. Bb3 Rb2 {34...Rb1 appears to offer more chances.} 35. Qb8 Rbb1 36. Qa8+ Kc5 37. Qf8+ Kb6 38. Qxf7 Rh1+ 39. Kg3 Rbe1 40. Kf4 Rhf1+ 41. Ke5 Rxe3 42. Qxg7 {Black might now have abandoned the game.} Rxb3 43. Qxf6+ Ka5 44. axb3 e3 45. Qxh6 Re1 46. Kxd5 Rd1+ 47. Kc5 Rc1+ 48. Kd4 Re1 49. Qxe3 {[Canadian Illustrated News, 30 June 1877]} 1-0

Contrary to modern practice, it is apparent that Bird and other masters of this era were willing to play black as well as white in simultaneous games.

Before he left Montreal Bird was fêted at a banquet held in his honour (see below for details of a similar dinner held for Mackenzie). For the occasion the club's poet laureate, John Henderson, wrote the text for a song which he performed at the gathering. His original had specific references to Bird, but it was the later generic version (i.e., with the references removed) that became famous and was published as far afield as Australia and England. The tune was written by Allan Masterton to accompany Willie brew'd a peck o' maut by Robert Burns.

Overall, the term most frequently applied to Bird by the Montreal press was 'genial.' He was not a full-time professional player but a highly-skilled amateur enjoying his favourite indulgence: "In chivalry and enthusiasm for chess as a pastime, in pluck, and in readiness to play at a moment's notice for stakes or no stakes, Bird had no equal." [Dictionary of National Biography] Bird's enthusiasm and enjoyment were contagious, and led to a shared genuine warmth and admiration between himself and the Montreal club members. To quote H.G. Wells out of context (his essay is actually strongly anti-chess), "Compulsory quick moving is the thing for gaiety, and that is why, though we revere Steinitz and Lasker, it is Bird we love." [Certain Personal Matters] These feelings are evident in two letters of thanks, published shortly after Bird's departure from Montreal [Canadian Illustrated News, 10 March 1877]:

Postscript: Bird visited Montreal again in late May and June 1889, but this second visit received far less newspaper coverage. Attention instead was concentrated on Joseph Blackburne, who was in the city at the same time giving simultaneous and blindfold displays, as we will see in the second article in this series.

George Henry Mackenzie (1837-1891)

Almost exactly two years after Henry Bird's sojourn, Montreal received its second prominent chess visitor in the person of Captain George Mackenzie. He is largely forgotten today (unlike Bird, he does not have an opening named after him), but in his day Mackenzie was regarded as U.S. champion for almost two decades and at his peak was one of the top five players in the world. Scottish by birth, Mackenzie served in the British army in Ireland and India. After resigning his commission he studied chess before coming to America in 1863 and joining the Union Army in the Civil War. Mackenzie was captain of a Black infantry regiment; his adventures and misadventures as a soldier are quoted in this article by John Hilbert. After the war Mackenzie settled in New York and supported himself through chess. Between 1865 and 1880, with the exception of one drawn match, he won every American event he entered; by winning the 2nd American Congress in 1871 he became U.S. champion (the retired Morphy had won the 1st Congress in 1857).

In the 1880s Mackenzie played frequently in Europe, integrating the recent positional innovations into his previous attacking style. According to Steinitz, "new ideas made no impression on him until he had competed several times in European tournaments." He placed well at Vienna 1882, London 1883, and Hamburg 1885, culminating with a first prize at Frankfurt am Main in 1887, ahead of Blackburne, Weiss, Tarrasch, Burn, and Zukertort. Mackenzie won the Scottish championship in 1888 and tied for third with Bird behind Tarrasch and Blackburne at Manchester 1890, but by this point he was suffering from the tuberculosis which resulted in his death the following year.

Captain Mackenzie arrived in Montreal on the morning of Friday, 3 January 1879, and departed just under two weeks later on 16 January. His stay was organized by Joseph W. Shaw - "we must not forget to speak of the excellent arrangements of Mr. J.W. Shaw, upon whom devolved the consideration of all matters relating to club preparation for the different contests and the general management of affairs during the Captain's visit." [Canadian Illustrated News, 25 January 1879] All the public games were played in the room of the Montreal Chess Club, at the Gymnasium, corner of Mansfield and Burnside Streets. Mackenzie gave five simultaneous exhibitions during his stay, as follows:

In the latter two displays, some participants played more than one game. Mackenzie contested individual games with members of the club on January 4, 9, 11 and 12, losing only two games in all. At least one of the published games involved the giving of material odds (see below), but the press reports give no indication how many such games were played. Shaw was fastidious in keeping track of the results: at the end of the two weeks Mackenzie had played a total of ninety-five public games, scoring +78 =7 -10. Those who won against the Captain were Von Bokum (2), J.G. Ascher (2), Prof. Hicks, J.W. Shaw, A. Skaife, Dr. H.A. Howe, John Barry, and C.S. Baker. The players who drew were T. Workman (3), A. Saunders (2), John Barry, and Prof. Hicks. The merchant Hermann Von Bokum won his first two games against Mackenzie and there were plans to arrange a match between them, but Von Bokum's business concerns didn't allow the necessary time. Mackenzie evened the score in his next two simul games with Von Bokum. The player with the best score against the Captain was Thomas Workman, who in addition to the three drawn games played a private match against Mackenzie and took three points from nine games, but given that Workman was hosting Mackenzie during his stay perhaps the latter was generous.

The local experts felt that Mackenzie was a stronger player than Bird: "As compared with the play of Mr. Bird the impression among our chess players is that Captain Mackenzie's play is steadier and shows more depth. It is marked by brilliancy and originality, although he does not move as quickly as Mr. Bird. He gets beyond our powers entirely; they felt that it would require a contest between him and such a player as Winawer or Blackburne or Zukertort to make them fully realize his skill at the game." [Montreal Daily Witness, 4 January 1879] Of the games Mackenzie lost there were no crass blunders, the Montreal players had to work hard for their victories:

[Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Mackenzie, George H"] [Black "Ascher, Jacob G"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "C30"] [Annotator "W.N. Potter"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "1879.01.07"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.23"] 1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. c3 ({I prefer} 4. Bc4) 4... Bg4 5. Be2 Nc6 6. b4 Bxf3 7. Bxf3 exf4 {In an after conversation between the two players a friendly dispute as to the merits of this continuation arose, Captain Mackenzie contending that the sacrifice was unsound, and Mr. Ascher arguing the other way. I cannot but take the Captain's view, while keeping my mind open for the reception of a contrary belief if an analysis promised by Mr. Ascher should establish his case. The aspect of the board is however sufficient to show me that Black can obtain an attack, which, if not sound, will be at any rate embarassing, especially to a player who has thirteen other games to attend to.} 8. bxc5 Qh4+ 9. Kf1 O-O-O 10. Qe1 (10. cxd6 {followed by d4 must be stronger.}) 10... Qf6 11. a4 dxc5 {Black has now a better position than he is entitled to.} 12. a5 g5 13. a6 b6 14. h4 Rd3 15. Qe2 ({Not played with the Captain's usual insight.} 15. hxg5 {followed, if} Qxg5 {by} 16. Qh4 { , is undoubtedly the correct course here.}) 15... Ne5 16. hxg5 Qd6 {Black is now firmly established, both for defensive and offensive purposes, while his opponent is reduced to the role of a mere looker on.} 17. Na3 c6 18. Rb1 f6 { A skillful display of carefulness founded on boldness. He is quite right not to develop hastily his King's side pieces.} 19. g6 h6 20. Bg4+ Kc7 21. Bf5 Ne7 {All this is well timed.} 22. g7 Rg8 23. Rxh6 Rxg7 24. Rh8 f3 {Artistic, and decisive of the issue for it forces the opponent to give up his queen.} 25. gxf3 Rxf3+ 26. Qxf3 Nxf3 27. d4 cxd4 28. Ra8 Rg1+ 29. Ke2 Qh2+ 30. Kd3 {Mate in two would follow the capture of the knight.} Ne5+ 31. Kxd4 c5+ 32. Ke3 Re1# {[Westminster Papers, 1 March 1879]} 0-1 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.01.03"] [Round "?"] [White "Mackenzie, George H"] [Black "Loverin, Nelson"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C29"] [Annotator "Globe"] [PlyCount "31"] [EventDate "1879.01.07"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.20"] {"We give one of the games, to show the masterly manner in which the redoubtable Captain winds up a comparatively weak opponent." [Globe]} 1. e4 e5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. f4 exf4 4. e5 Qe7 5. Qe2 Ng8 6. Nf3 d6 7. Nd5 Qd8 8. exd6+ Be6 9. Nxc7+ Kd7 10. Ne5+ Kc8 11. Nxe6 Qh4+ 12. Kd1 Bxd6 13. Qc4+ Nc6 14. Qxc6+ bxc6 15. Ba6+ Kb8 16. Nxc6# {[Globe, 11 January 1879]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.01.03"] [Round "?"] [White "Mackenzie, George Henry"] [Black "Shaw, Joseph W"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C52"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "1879.01.07"] [EventCountry "CAN"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Ba5 6. d4 exd4 7. O-O dxc3 8. Qb3 Qf6 9. e5 Qg6 10. Nxc3 Bxc3 11. Qxc3 Nge7 12. Re1 O-O 13. Bd3 f5 14. Bb2 Kh8 15. Nh4 Qh6 16. g3 f4 17. Re4 fxg3 18. hxg3 d6 19. e6 Ne5 20. Rxe5 dxe5 21. Qxe5 Ng6 22. Nxg6+ hxg6 23. Kg2 b6 24. Rh1 Bb7+ 25. Be4 Bxe4+ 26. Qxe4 { [L'Opinion Publique, 30 January 1879.]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.01.07"] [Round "?"] [White "Shaw, Joseph W"] [Black "Mackenzie, George H"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C67"] [Annotator "Globe"] [PlyCount "53"] [EventDate "1879.01.07"] [EventCountry "CAN"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Bxc6 dxc6 7. Nxe5 Be7 8. d3 {The first seven moves are according to book, but d4 is given for White's 8th when the position is dismissed as being about equal.} O-O 9. h3 f5 10. f4 c5 {We think Black lost time by the move, and he might have got out one of his pieces instead; the White N is awkwardly posted for Black, and 10...Bf6 seems better at this stage.} 11. b3 Nf7 12. Bb2 Bf6 13. Nd2 b5 14. Qf3 Bxe5 15. Bxe5 Rb8 16. Bb2 {Very wisely played, preserving a strong position.} Rb6 17. Qf2 Rg6 18. Re3 Bb7 19. Nf3 Nh6 20. Rae1 Kh8 {As White's next move completely nullifies the attack of B and R, we should be inclined to capture the N.} 21. Nh4 Ra6 22. Qg3 Raf6 23. Re7 {The proper move; White well maintains his advantage.} Rg8 24. Qg5 Qd6 25. Bxf6 {It seems to us that White might have forced mate by 25.Rxg7, etc.} Qxf6 26. Qxf6 gxf6 27. Rxc7 {[Globe, 18 January 1879; L'Opinion Publique, 30 January 1879]} 1-0 [Event "Simul"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.01.09"] [Round "?"] [White "Mackenzie, George H"] [Black "Hicks, William H"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C15"] [Annotator "Globe (G)/W.N. Potter (P)"] [PlyCount "27"] [EventDate "1879.01.07"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.22"] 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4 {(P) An inferior, and what is worse, a very unsuccessful continuation. I do not wonder at 3...Nf6 being eyed askance since the Paris Tourney. My own belief is that 3...Be7 is safest, though there are objections to that, also arising from the facility it affords for the adverse king knight to lodge on e5.} 4. Bd3 ({(P)} 4. exd5 {is now preferre d, and rightly so. If the text move were White's best, I would support 3... Bb4.}) 4... Ne7 {(G) 4...c5 leads to a better and freer game.} ({(P) Altogether opposed to the principles of the French Defence.} 4... c5 {is the correct continuation. The variation then goes on with} 5. exd5 Qxd5 6. Bb5+ Bd7 7. Bxd7+ Nxd7 8. Nf3 cxd4 9. Qxd4 Qxd4 10. Nxd4 Bxc3+ {and Black has the advantage.}) 5. Nf3 O-O 6. e5 Ng6 {(G) 6...f5 might be safely adventured.} 7. O-O Bxc3 8. bxc3 b6 {(P) All this is very peculiar, to say the least of it. If the learned professor wants to be beaten as quickly as possible, he gives the right way to work in that behalf, most decidedly.} 9. Bg5 Qe8 10. h4 Nh8 {(G) Black's position is very much cramped. 10...Nd7 looks as good a move for any.} 11. Bf6 g6 ({(G) Black's best play is to take the bishop, when White can recover his piece as follows:} 11... gxf6 12. Qd2 Ng6 13. Qh6 Nd7 14. h5 {and White must win the knight but at the expense of a pawn.}) 12. Ng5 Nd7 13. Qh5 { (G) Every chess player must admire this masterly move. (P) A very pretty wind-up, certainly, but this sherbet is too syrupy for my taste.} Nxf6 14. exf6 {[Globe, 2 February 1879; Westminster Papers, 1 March 1879]} 1-0 [Event "Game"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.01.11"] [Round "?"] [White "Mackenzie, George H"] [Black "Shaw, Joseph W"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C42"] [Annotator "Globe"] [PlyCount "72"] [EventDate "1879.01.15"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.22"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nxf7 {The invention of Mr. Cochrane, but pronounced theoretically unsound by Wormold and others.} Kxf7 5. Bc4+ Be6 {5... d5 is considered rather better.} 6. Bxe6+ Kxe6 7. d4 Kd7 {7...Kf7 is the correct move here.} 8. Nc3 Qe7 9. O-O Nc6 {He would be safer to play 9...Kc8.} 10. e5 Ne8 11. Qg4+ {Profiting at once by his opponent's ninth move.} Qe6 12. Qxe6+ Kxe6 13. d5+ Kxe5 14. dxc6 bxc6 15. Re1+ Kf6 16. Ne4+ Kg6 17. f4 h6 18. g4 d5 19. Ng3 Bd6 20. Re6+ Kh7 {20...Kf7 seems better, and if 21.f5 then 21... Bxg3, etc.} 21. Bd2 Nf6 22. g5 hxg5 23. fxg5 Ng4 24. g6+ Kg8 25. Rae1 Bc5+ 26. Kf1 Rf8+ 27. Ke2 Rf2+ {Suppose 27...Rxh2+ followed by Bf2, he gains a piece or the exchange.} 28. Kd1 Rhxh2 29. Re8+ Bf8 30. Bg5 Rxc2 31. Nf5 Rcf2 32. Ne7+ Kh8 33. Nxc6 Rhg2 34. Nd8 Nh2 35. Nf7+ Kg8 36. Be3 Rxb2 {Black's best move seems to be Rc2. White announced mate in three moves. [Globe, 22 February 1879] } 1-0 [Event "Game - QN odds"] [Site "Montreal"] [Date "1879.01.15"] [Round "?"] [White "Mackenzie, George H"] [Black "Barry, John"] [Result "1-0"] [Annotator "Globe"] [SetUp "1"] [FEN "rnbqkbnr/pppppppp/8/8/8/8/PPPPPPPP/R1BQKBNR w KQkq - 0 1"] [PlyCount "71"] [EventDate "1879.01.15"] [EventCountry "CAN"] [SourceDate "2009.02.22"] 1. e4 e6 2. f4 d5 3. e5 {This move (though condemned when following 2.d4) is given as the best after 2.f4. And probably in the game at present odds this variation by its blocking effect is good for the first player, as it tends to defer exchanges till the game is better developed.} c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. c3 Qb6 { A good post of vantage, and likely to prove troublesome to the adversary.} 6. Bd3 Nh6 7. Bc2 Be7 8. O-O O-O 9. Kh1 f6 10. d4 cxd4 11. Qd3 g6 12. Bd2 fxe5 13. Nxe5 {If 13.fxe5, Black replies 13...Nf5 at once.} Nxe5 14. fxe5 Rxf1+ 15. Rxf1 Nf5 16. cxd4 Qa6 {Altogether a lost move; he should get out his bishop and other rook.} 17. Qf3 h5 {Well and wisely played.} 18. Bd3 Qc6 19. g4 hxg4 20. Qxg4 Kf7 {20...Kg7 would defend the pawn - the text move loses it.} 21. Rg1 Ke8 22. Qxg6+ Kd7 23. Rc1 Qb6 24. Qf7 a5 {A step too far.} 25. a4 Nxd4 26. Be3 Qxb2 27. Bg6 Nc6 28. Qe8+ Kc7 29. Qxe7+ Bd7 30. Qd6+ Kc8 31. Rf1 {Very finely played.} Nd8 {Black seems to have no move of merit left: 31...Nd8 seems as good as any. The Captain remarked on this stage of the game that if Black had played 31...Qe2 (a natural looking move) Whte would have had a very pretty mate in four.} 32. Bb6 Qc3 33. Be8 Qc6 34. Bxd7+ Qxd7 35. Rc1+ Nc6 36. Qf8+ { [Globe, 8 March 1879]} 1-0

As with Bird, the Montreal players held a banquet to celebrate the Captain's visit:

John Henderson wrote and performed another song, this time in honour of his fellow Scot (to the tune "Canadians be Steady"):

In addition, Henderson composed and dedicated a chess problem to Mackenzie. Problem composition was much more prevalent in the nineteenth century than it is now, and there were frequent competitions with respectable prizes. The practice fell into disuse fairly quickly, but all the early Canadian championships had adjunct problem-composing competitions associated with them.

John Henderson, 1879

Mate in three - key move

Postscript: in January 1880 Mackenzie tied for first in the 5th American Congress with one James Glover Grundy (he won the playoff 2-0). Soon after, Grundy was invited to and visited the Toronto Chess Club, where he gave a simultaneous display and played several individual games; he did the same in Hamilton immediately thereafter. However, charges of bribery involving Grundy emerged from the Congress, and he was subsequently banned from playing in American events (see Jeremy Spinrad's two-part investigation at the ChessCafe website: part 1, part 2). The Toronto club was criticized for inviting a disgraced player; in response the club cited timing in its defence, noting that the invitation was issued following the opinion of an initial tribunal which had exonerated Grundy. The debate over the scandal was pursued in the press for several months, with the Globe backing away from the disreputable visitor. The chess column had promised to publish a number of Mr. Grundy's Toronto games to demonstrate his strength, but amid the controversy they never made it into print. The 1880 American Congress is the only significant event we have a record of Grundy playing in, and he tied for first. After the scandal broke he disappeared from the chess scene, although there are reports he played elsewhere under an assumed name.