Wednesday, July 11, 2007

10. A Match against Meek

Judge Alexander Beaufort Meek (1814-1865) won his first match against W.J.A. Fuller and drew Morphy as his opponent in the second "section" as it is called in the tournament book. That book, however, does not date game scores. Fiske's narrative of the congress contains mostly general information about when the games were played in the second section. The schedule of games was a rather loose structure with the players deciding when to play and whether to play two games in one day. As we saw in TMF 8, Morphy's score did not have a date. He only noted that it was the third game of the match. Fiske, then, likely did not have the exact dates for most games when publishing the tournament book nearly two years later. On page 82, he indicates that Meek won the first round on October 13 or 14th. The traditional dates for Morphy match are October 15, 16 and 17, as given, for instance in the Maroczy, Lange and Sergeant collections. I suspect these dates were extrapolated from the date of Meek's first round victory, normally given as the 14th. However, Lawson, page 61, states:
Upon winning his third game from Fuller on October 14, he immediately began his series of games with Paul, having previously drawn to play him in the event of his (the Judge’s) winning from Fuller.

Morphy won the first game from Meek in less than an hour.

[Lawson gives a newspaper story here which we omit.]

Morphy’s two additional wins over the Judge followed rapidly, and he was declared a victor in the second section.

It looks as if Meek began the Morphy match on the 14th after the concluding Fuller game. The remaining two games, which took less than fours hours total, would likely be played on 15th and the match would indeed be over rapidly. Lawson, though, is unwilling to date the second and third games precisely. Did he had some conflicting information? The New York Times of 14 October reported:

The first Morphy vs Meek game, then, was not played on October 15 as given in the collections. Nor was it played on the 14th as Lawson claimed. Its was actually played on the 13th. Lawson's vagueness, I think, was due to the fact that his starting date was incorrect. He might have had information indicating that the match ended on the 14th, but it would be extremely unlikely that Meek would play Fuller and Morphy four games on the 14th. With the first game on the 13th, however, the match coming to a conclusion the next day is a very high probability. Although we can't achieve 100% certainty in this matter, I believe game one of the match was played on the 13th and the last two games played the next day on the 14th.