Independent Game
Independent Game
By:, Categories: Words & Images, 1 comment



Living as long as I have now in the United States, I’ve come to expect the 4th of July holiday weekend to be usually full of nationalist fervour that involves lots of fireworks and flag waving with the Independence Day celebrations. But as I wrote in the introduction to my article on the US Championship in the July issue of CHESS Magazine, did you know that a chess game played a decisive role in America winning the Revolutionary War?


On Christmas night 1776, George Washington – with American forces facing defeat – gambled everything on a risky crossing of the Delaware River at Trenton, New Jersey, and captured 1,500 German mercenaries under the command of Colonel Rahl. A British loyalist near Washington’s camp had advance warning of the surprise attack, so he hurriedly dispatched his son off on his fastest steed with a note to alert Rahl that very morning. But Rahl – as so often happens in chess – was so engrossed in a game of chess against a fellow officer, he inadvertently put the note into his pocket unread. After the battle, the note was discovered, still unread, in the mortally wounded colonel’s pocket. 


Had they been ready, Rahl’s army far outnumbered that of the Americans, and it is likely he would have won the battle and killed in the process early influential leaders, such as Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, John Marshall, and Alexander Hamilton – all signatories to the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  So there you go – but for an innocent game of chess, 4th of July could well have been just a normal day for Americans still ruled by Britain.


Nikkormat EL & Nikkor-SC Auto 50mm 1.4
B+W ND Filter
Ilford FP4+ (@125)
Perceptol (Stock – 13min)
Plustek 7600i & Vuescan



1 Comment

  • Well john that was an interesting story I just didn't know, hope your still well.
    I'm enjoying your blogs keep them coming
    Mary xxx