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Horæ Divanianæ.

A selection of one hundred and fifty original games at chess by leading masters, principally played at the Grand Divan; accompanied by copious, critical, and explanatory notes, whereby the volume is adapted to the use of players of every degree of skill.

London: By the author, 1852 Stock Code: 139856
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A compilation of chess games by one of the most esteemed and highest-ranked chess players of the 19th century

First edition of this compilation of chess games played at the Divan in the late 1840s and 50s. It is an uncommon edition both commercially and institutionally: Library Hub locates twelve copies in institutions worldwide, almost entirely in the US, with only the British Library copy in the UK; WorldCat adds another copy at the Bodleian.

Elijah Williams (1809-1854) was one of the most esteemed and highest-ranked chess players of the 19th century. Whilst a surgeon in Bristol he founded the Bristol Chess Club when he was 20 years old, and by 1850 was the chief contributor to the chess articles in the Historic Times, The Field, and editor of the chess column in the Illustrated London Magazine. Williams's most significant victory was when he defeated the British chess master Howard Staunton, the "unofficial chess champion of the world" (ODNB) at the 1851 London Tournament, cementing Williams's position as one of the great chess players of his time.

Williams published two books, the first being Souvenir of the Bristol Chess Club (1845), which contains a collection of 100 notable games played by members of the club. This is his second work, and comprises a compilation of 150 chess games played within the Divan at Simpson's-in-the-Strand, and includes early games by Henry Bird, Henry Thomas Buckle, and by Williams himself. The list of subscribers includes the chess master Lionel Kieseritzky, who famously lost the "Immortal Game"; William Lewis, the first to be described as a grandmaster; and Captain Evans, the inventor of the "Evans' Gambit".

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Octavo. Original brown cloth, titles to cover in gilt, foliate border in blind to covers, central motif of knight in gilt to front cover, yellow endpapers.


Contemporary ownership initials to title page with pencil marginalia to text and rear pastedown. Spine rolled and slightly faded, ends rubbed, a little wear to corners, lightly toned at edges, internally clean with just a few spots and very light creases; a very good copy.


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