George Henry Mackenzie


U.S. Chess

Hall of Fame

Inducted 1992







Scottish-born Captain George Mackenzie came to the U.S. in 1863 to serve in the Union Army during the Civil War. Much of Mackenzie’s early life was occupied not by chess but by his commission in the British Army, which took him to Africa and India during the 1850s. He won a handicap tournament against Adolf Anderssen in London in 1862, but it was not until after the Civil War that he truly rose to prominence in the chess world.

After settling in New York, he was the chess writer for Turf, Field, and Farm, and won the New York Chess Club’s annual prize four years in a row, from 1865 to 1868. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, he dominated national competitions, winning the second, third, and fifth American Chess Congresses to become the third acknowledged U.S. Chess Champion in 1871. He would hold the title until 1889.  However, Mackenzie’s success was not limited to national play; between 1865 and 1880, he played in 13 tournaments and seven matches, winning all of them with exception of one drawn match. Modern analysis ranks Mackenzie as one of the top three players in the world at his peak in the early 1880s, with an Elo rating of over 2700.

Notable Games

After a photo by Richardson brothers
Captain Mackenzie
Collection of the World Chess Hall of Fame
Photographer unknown
George Henry Mackenzie
Date unknown
Collection of the John G. White Chess Collection at the Cleveland Public Library