Alexandre, A. – Staunton, H. 1838

Name   Edo    Dev.   Score  /  Games 
Alexandre, Aaron    2388 (111) 2/3 
Staunton, Howard    2499 (89) 1/3 
Status: soft result (plausible score)

Event table notes

Event data
Place: London
Start date: 1838
End date: 1838
This soft result is speculative. It comes from a letter by Charles Tomlinson, dated 14 Jan. 1856, printed in the Illustrated London News of 19 Jan. 1856 (p.75). He writes to correct what he wrote about Staunton's match with Alexandre in the Chess-players' Annual, which (it is suggested) was based on a faulty recollection of a conversation with Staunton. He had thought Staunton claimed to have won every game of the match, but goes on to explain that Staunton has given him a corrected account of the match. 'It consisted of twenty-one games; but these were so far from being uniformly won by Mr. Staunton, that he confesses to a distinct remembrance of the mortifying defeat he experienced during all the earlier sittings of the match.' Harding deduces that Staunton won the match. John Townsend argues that it is likely that Staunton lost the match, though he points out that there is really too little information to go on here. However, I think this would be consistent with Staunton's tendency not to want to admit his losses and bend the truth to his advantage. If he lost all the early games, and won just a few of the later games, he'd have lost the match, but his own phrasing stops short of admitting this. Though it is only speculation, one can imagine Staunton's conversation with Tomlinson, stating that he won all the last so-many games, and Tomlinson misinterpreting it to mean all the games of the match. The fact that Staunton had difficulty with Alexandre in 1838 is important for rating these players, so, despite the uncertainty, I prefer to use a soft result here. We can guess, based on the assumptions that Alexandre won the match but that Staunton won at least a few games, that Alexandre scored more than 10.5/21 and less than, say, 17.5/21, so about 14 plus or minus 3 out of 21. We can represent this estimate by using +2-1 for Alexandre, rather than +14-7, which would give the same percentage score but would exaggerate the precision with which we know the score. Assuming a score of 2/3 asserts that it was more than 1.5/3 (like 10.5/21) and less than 2.5/3 (like 17.5/21). Townsend speculates that the match could have been played at the very end of 1837, but it also seems possible that it could have been played in 1838 (Staunton said 'about the year 1838').
   Harding, Eminent Victorian Chess Players, page 38
   Tomlinson, Chess Player's Annual 1856, page 155
   Townsend, Historical Notes on Players, page 110, 112
   [ILN], vol. 22, 14 May 1853, page 363
   [ILN], vol. 28, 19 Jan. 1856, page 75

Match information updated: 24 May 2014