PfeilJohn S. Hilbert
 

James A. Leonard 1841 - 1862

The Tragic Life and Short Chess Career of...


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Born in 1841, in New York, killed in the Civil War, James A. Leonard was the son of a poor Irish immigrant - but even a poor child could play the game of kings. Leonard grew up in a time when interest in chess was experiencing a revival, and Paul Morphy had captured nation's interest. Leonard defeated a number of the country's notable chess players and was widely viewed as the "New Morphy." Game scores and diagrams from 96 of Leonard's games are included.

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The Civil War affected the entire American landscape in ways not always given their due consideration. Not only did it determine the political future of a nation, it influenced the scientific and cultural development of the country as well. The war cost America many of its best and brightest in every venue. James A. Leonard was one such loss: a brilliant up-and-coming chess player in 1861-62 before he made the decision to serve his country during wartime.

Born November 6, 1841, James A. Leonard was the son of a poor Irish immigrant-but even a poor child could play the game of kings. Leonard grew up in a time when interest in chess was experiencing a revival, and contemporaries such as Paul Morphy, Eugene Delmar and Leonard’s mentor Philip Richardson captured the interest of a country. Leonard defeated a number of the country’s notable chess players and was widely viewed as the “New Morphy.&rdquo

This biography discusses what little is known of Leonard’s life and death but concentrates primarily on Leonard’s ability and his sadly shortened career. Game scores and diagrams from 96 of Leonard’s games are included, with detailed descriptions regarding place, date and opponents.

Foreword:

The chess historian is a free agent who may go wherever he pleases, constrained only by the wish, and need, to present something fresh. If his specialty is biography, for instance, he may choose to focus on a well-known master, but will then delve deeply, going far beyond the well-trodden path. Alternatively, and sometimes even more satisfyingly, he may select a figure never previously accorded full-scale biographical treatment.

Until recently, the name of James Leonard was unfamiliar to most chess enthusiasts. There were occasional references in passing to a brilliant young blindfold expert viewed as a possible successor to Paul Morphy, but scant particulars were readily available about him. His name did not appear in chess encyclopedias, and his games were absent from books and databases.

In the late 1990s, Leonard began to receive recognition, although it could hardly have been imagined or hoped that, within just a few years, he would become the subject of a comprehensive monograph. That such a book has now come about is, of itself, testimony to the skill and drive of Dr. Hilbert, who has investigated Leonard with his usual thoroughness, reliability and even-handedness. In so doing he has unearthed a remarkable amount of Information and many fine forgotten games.

There emerges a portrait of an engaging, talented chess lover who could indeed legitimately aspire to fill the gap left by Morphy's withdrawal, at least in his homeland and possibly beyond. Yet while Leonard remains the focus of attention in these pages, the broader tableau of U.S. chess in the early 1860s is also ably presented. So too is the agony of the Civil War, which cost Leonard his life.

It is curious to reflect that, in other circumstances, James Leonard might still have been in active play during the First World War. After all, J.H. Blackburne, another blindfold specialist, was born the same year as Leonard and participated in the St. Petersburg tournament of 1914. But Leonard, fêted in his teens, was dead at twenty. Almost a century and a half later, Dr. Hilbert has paid him a magnificent tribute.

Edward Winter, Geneva, fall 2005

vii Foreword (Edward Winter)

001 Preface

003 Chapter One

030 Chapter Two

076 Chapter Three

136 Chapter Four

180 Chapter Five

207 Selected Bibliography

209 Player Index

211 General Index

The chess historian John S.Hilbert, author of Walter Penn Shilpley: Philadelphia’s friend of chess describes in this latest McFarland work the tragic life from the forgotten chess genius James A Leonard. James was the son of poor Irish immigrant but gifted with a great chess talent as these 96 unknown Leonard’s games show us. For example Leonard out played the great Sam Loyd in no time: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.Qe2 Bc5 6.Bxc6 dxc6 7.Nxe5 Qd4 8.Nd3 Bb6 9.e5 Nd5 10.c3 Qh4 11.Qf3 0-0 12.0-0 Bg4 13.Qe4 Rae8 14.h3 f5 15.Qc4 Kh8 16.hxg4 fxg4 17.Qe4 Rf6 18.g3 Qxg3+ 19.Qg2 Qxd3 1-0,Sam Loyd - Leonard, Morphy Chess Rooms Match Game, December 1860. James was widely viewed as the new Morphy but who made no penny at all with chess so was that the reason he signed for the of $50? As a man to go for the civil war where he would not from return? Leonard’s metamorphosis into a fighting member of the Irish Brigade went nearly so fast as his death which is detailed described by John S Hilbert in chapter 5 and twenty seven pages of this lovely printed book. This biography from John S.Hilbert concentrates mainly on his sadly career seen there is so little known about his personal life. Sam Loyd lived forty-nine years longer and Delmar forty seven years longer than Leonard so it is clear that James would certainly have increased his strength if had the chance to live a little longer or was he considering a career as a soldier? But what else would have been available for a poor Irish young man without any education? There is a one page foreword from Edward Winter,but it was this great chess historian who inspired John S Hilbert so much with his seven page article on Leonard in his fascinating read Kings,Commoners and Knaves ,Russell Enterprises,1999. Included in this work is a player index,a general index,bibliography but unfortunately no openings index of Leonards games. Conclusion: A magnificent written tribute on James A.Leonard! {In hardcover}

With kind permission of the author John Elburg (www.chessbooks.nl )




Price: 
 
Article number:
LXHILJALK
 
Category:
Pfeilgame collections
  Pfeilbiographies
 
Language:
English
 
Publisher:
PfeilMcFarland
 
ISBN-13:
978-0786495535
 
width: 
18.4 cm
 
height: 
26.0 cm
 
weight: 
0.415 kg
 
John S. Hilbert: James A. Leonard 1841 - 1862
213 pages, 118 diagrams, 17 photos, paperback, 1st edition 2014, First edition 2006.
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