Mental Floss

That Time Some Mental Patients Beat Cambridge’s Chess Team

Matt Soniak /

From December 1883 to March 1884, the Cambridge University chess team engaged in what might have been the strangest game of their history. Their opponents were a group of patients at London’s Bethlehem Royal Hospital, the famed hospital for the mentally ill better known as “Bedlam.” Because the team of patients—to this day, the full roster is unknown, and most of the players are known only by nicknames like “Beta” and “Mr. C”—couldn’t leave the hospital, the game had to be played by correspondence and each team sent their moves to the other through the post.

Bedlam won in 25 moves. You can see the moves of the game here.