Hyacinthe Henri Boncourt

French chess player

Hyacinthe Henri Boncourt (1765? – March 23, 1840) was one of the leading chess players in France in the years between 1820 and 1840.[1]


Not much is known about his life. The date of his birth, 1765, is based on a comment by an English chess player, George Walker, that in 1839 Boncourt was about 70 years old.[2]

Boncourt learned how to play chess from students of the great François-André Danican Philidor, including Carlier, Bernard and Leger who often played at the Café de la Régence.[3] 

He was a civil servant, and chess was mostly a hobby for him. He got his best results after he was 60 years old when after retiring from work, he could spend all his time playing chess.

In 1818, for a brief period, he was one of the players hidden inside the chess machine, the Turk. At one time he was sick, and he did not play very well.[4] While he was hiding inside the Turk, he could not stop coughing and he could be heard by people watching. After this, the owner of the Turk, Mälzel, added some noisy gears. This was simply to cover any noise coming from the person inside.[5]

References and notesEdit

  1. The Philidorian, ed. by G. Walker (1838) page 159.
  2. G. Walker, Chess and chess-players (1859) page 161.
  3. Le Palamède edited by St. Amant, vol. 2 (1837) page 499.
  4. La Régence, ed. by Société d'amateurs, Volume 3 (1851) page 7.
  5. W. Fiske, The book of the first American chess congress (1859) page 442

Other websitesEdit