March 25, 2010
Deschapelles was called one of the strongest French chess players after Philidor. He was the son of a French marshal. Being the participant of many of Napoleon’s campaigns he was wounded and lost his right hand in the fighting against Prussians. After the battle at Waterloo he retired as a general.
In the period of 1815-21 he was a regular of the Café de la Regence and soon he became the strongest chess player in France, he was called the Philidor’s successor. He gave odds to any rival. He was the most gifted natural player. But he did not pay special attention to openings. Deschapelles boasted that he learnt how to play chess by watching Bernard, the famous French chess player, who was playing chess one evening and, according to Deschapelles’ words, the next day he was a string chess player. In 1821 he lost a match to Lewis with the score 1:2, who came to Paris with Cochrane in order to play with Deschapelles and his pupil La Bourdonnais. Deschapelles defeated Cochrane, but lost all seven games to La Bourdonnais. Cochrane then challenged Deschapelles to a match, where Deschapelles lost.
Realizing that he could not give odds to his pupil anymore, Deschapelles gave up chess and started to compose music and play whist for living. He was quite successful and made about 30.000 and 40.000 francs a year at the game. Card players still refer to Deschapelles coup at whist.
Deschapelles had really bad temper, which was the reason of his frequent duel where he fought with his left hand. He was imprisoned in 1832. Deschapelles was suspected in conspiracy against Bourbons. He was released one month later, after he wrote a letter to the King, saying that he was old, innocent and infrimed.
He spent his last days writing constitutions for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and some South American republics. He died of hydropsy, requesting in his will not to send any letter announcing his death, not to publish about his death in newspapers and asking for pauper’s burial.