We remember Cecil Valentine De Vere (14-ii-1846 09-ii-1875)
From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII (83, 1963), Number 5 (May), page 156:
In Quote and Query #1241 DJ Morgan wrote:
“Cecil de Vere, whose game was given by colleague Mr. Coles on p.83 of the March issue was one of the tragic figures of British Chess. Details of his short life are found in various writings of the Rev. G. A. MacDonnell and in the pages of The City of London Chess Magazine. We quote from P.W. Sergeant. He was born on February 14th, 1845, and his early natural ability for chess was developed by Francis Burden. In 1860 he began to visit the Divan on Saturday afternoons. By 1862 he was too strong for Anderssen at the odds of knight. In January, 1865, The Chess Player’s Magazine reports his having recently won the majority of a series of games with MacDonnell on level terms. Soon after, receiving pawn and move he defeated Steinitz by 7-3, with either 3 or 4 draws. He was indeed, the brightest prospect in British chess. But tragedy set in. By the Dundee Congress of 1867 he was in the grip of consumption. On top of this he came into a legacy, gave up a post he had with Lloyd’s, and set out on a life of dissipation. In 1872 he took over the chess editorship of The Field from Boden, and held it for tow years. But his constitution was undermined. A kindly amateur named J. Clark headed a subscription to send him to Torquay, It was too late. He died on February 9th, 1875, five days short of his thirtieth birthday.”
From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld:
Cecil Valentine De Vere, pseudonym of Valentine Brown, winner of the first official British Championship tournament organized by the British Chess Association in 1866. He learned the game in London before 1858 and practised with Boden and the Irish player Francis Burden (1830-82). De Vere played with unusual ease and rapidity, never bothering to study the books. His features were handsome (an Adonis says MacDonnell), his manner pleasant, his conduct polite. He “handled the pieces gracefully, never “hovered” over them, nor fiercely stamped them down upon the board … nor exulted when he gained a victory…in short, he was a highly chivalrous player.’ So wrote Steinitz who conceded odds in a match against De Vere and was soundly beaten, (See pawn and move.) De Vere’s charm brought him many friends.
At about the time that he won the national championship his mother died, a loss he felt deeply, “The only person who ever cared for me”.
Receiving a small legacy he gave up his job. which Burden had obtained for him at Lloyds the underwriters, and never took another. He entered some strong tournaments but always trailed just behind the greatest half-dozen players of his time. His exceptional talent was accompanied by idleness and lack of enthusiasm for a hard task. On the occasion of the Dundee tournament of 1867 he took long walks in the Scottish countryside with G. A. MacDonnell, who writes that a ‘black cloud’ descended on De Vere. It may have been the discovery that he had tuberculosis; more probably he revealed to the older man a deep-rooted despair, the cause perhaps of his later addiction to alcohol.
In 1872 Boden handed over the chess column of The Field to provide him with a small income; but in 1873 the column was given to Steinitz on account of De Vere’s indolence and drunkenness. At the end of Nov, 1874 his illness took a turn for the worse, he could hardly walk and ate little. His friends paid to send him to Torquay for the sea air, and there he died ten weeks later. He had failed to nourish a natural genius in respect of which, according to Steinitz, De Vere was “second to no man, living or dead*.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :
First official British Chess Champion, Cecil de Vere was born on 14th February 1845 (in Montrose, Angus, Scotland : Ed.) and was taught to play chess when he was 12 by a strong London player, Francis Burden. By the time he was 15, he was a regular visitor to “The Divan” on a Saturday afternoon.
At the age of 19 De Vere played a number of games against MacDonnell winning the majority of them. So great was his promise that the City of London Chess Club raised a purse for a match between him an Steinitz, Steinitz giving the odds of a Pawn and a move. De Vere won.
In 1866 the first British Championship, organised by the British Chess Association was held. De Vere won, ahead of MacDonnell and Bird, and so became the first British Champion at the age of 21.
The following year in the Paris 1867 tournament, he was 5th out of a field of 13, and he tied for 3rd prize in the Dundee Congress, ahead of Blackburne, having beaten Steinitz in their individual game.
While he was in Dundee, De Vere learned that he was suffering from Tuberculosis. The news changed his whole life. Having recently inherited a few hundred pounds, he gave up his job at Lloyd’s and started living on his capital, determined to enjoy the few years he had left. He continued to play chess, but his performances were marred by his newly acquired addiction to the bottle.
De Vere was once described as “A Morphy without book knowledge”. His talent was great enough for him to be able to take on the leading masters of the day without any study or preparation, but more than that is needed to reach the top. De Vere lacked the strength of character and health to fulfil his early promise. He died a few days before his thirtieth birthday.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :
The first official British Champion and a player of great promise who might well have attained world fame had he not be carried off by that nineteenth-century British scourge, tuberculosis, before he attained the age of thirty.
Most of the details of his life are to be found in the writings of G.A. MacDonnell, who met him when De Vere was fourteen and was so struck by his good looks as to refer to him as “Adonis”.
His first tournament success came in 1866 at the London Congress organised at the St. George’s Club in the first few days and then in other venues by the British Chess Association. De Vere played in two events, a Handicap tournament and a Challenge Cup event which was in fact the first British Championship tournament.
The Handicap tournament was run on the same lines as London 1851, i.e. it was a knock-out event with matches of three games, draws not counting. De Vere met Steinitz in round 1 and lost by 2-1.
The first British championship tournament was an all-play-all event in which the ties were decided by the first player to win three games and in which the championship went to the winner of the biggest number of games. De Vere was an easy winner with 12 wins, followed by MacDonnell and J.I. Minchin 6, H.E Bird 3 and Sir John Trelawney 0.
Thus De Vere was the first British Champion and at that age of twenty-one. A photograph of him about this time shows that he bore a remarkable likeness to the international master John Nunn, who won the European Junior championship a hundred years after De Vere’s death.
De Vere confirmed his position as a leading British player by coming first in another tournament in 1866 at Redcar in North Yorkshire. This was an event open to all British amateurs and among his opponents were Owen, Thorold and Wisker.
It was in the following year that he commenced his career in international chess. In the important double-round tournament at Paris he occupied an honourable fifth place out of 13 players. At Dundee (the third congress of the British Chess Association) he finished equal 3rd with MacDonnell, below Steinitz but beating him in their individual game and coming ahead of Blackburne.
It was during his visit to Scotland (he went to stay with relatives after the tournament) that he learnt he was afflicted with consumption. This knowledge, together with the death of his mother, drove him to drink which was to accelerate his end.
inheriting a few hundred pounds, presumably from his mother, he gave up his post at Lloyd’s and decided to live on his capital together with such additional sums as he could earn from chess.
In this respect his addiction to drink proved a handicap. For example, he held the post of chess editor of The Field in 1872 but lost it after some eighteen months through inattention to work.
Meanwhile he continued to show his great talent for the game. Defending the title of British Champion in a very strong field at the next British Chess Association congress (1868/9) he cam equal first with Blackburne but lost the play-off at the London Club in March 1869.
In 1870 at the very strong Baden-Baden double-round tournament, he came equal sixth with Winawer but was much outdistanced by Blackburne who came third with 3.5 more points than De Vere. But already his illness was taking a strong hold on him. At his next and last appearance in a tournament of note. London 1872, he tied with Zukertort and MacDonnell =3rd out of 8 players. In the play-off for third and fourth prizes he lost to MacDonnell and scratched to Zukertort, Later in the year he did tie for first place with Wisker in a weaker British championship tournament and, with De Vere now clearly ill, Wisker had an easy victory in the play-off.
At his last appearance at a chess event, a match at the City of London Club between that Club and Bermondsey, he looked a dying man. A subscription was made to send him to Torquay but it was too late and he died within five days of his thirtieth birthday.
Here are some of his games at chessgames.com
The English Chess Forum contains a brief discussion initiated by John Townsend (Wokingham) of manuscripts attributed to CdV.
We remember Sir Jeremy Morse who passed away this day, February 4th, 2016.
Christopher Jeremy Morse was born on Monday, December 10th, 1928 to Francis John (1897 – 1971), who was a brewery director and Kinbarra Morse (née Armfield-Marrow, 1908 – 1980). Jeremy had a sister, Kinbarra Joanna Morse (1931-1960).
Jeremy married Belinda Marianne Mills on September 10th 1955
and they had five children, Clarissa Jane, Richard South, Andrew William, Samuel John and Isobel Esther Joanna the first being born in 1956 and the last in 1967.
From the rear cover of Chess Problems : Tasks and Records (1995) :
Jeremy Morse caught the “puzzle bug” when his parents introduced him to The Times crossword at the age of six. Over the subsequent sixty years he has solved and set crosswords, other word puzzles, mathematical puzzles, bridge problems and chess problems.
In his spare time he pursued a career in banking, which included the chairmanship of Lloyds Bank from 1977 to 1993. Currently he holds a number business directorships, and is also Warden of Winchester College and Chancellor of Bristol University.
He was knighted in 1975.
From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :
British problem composer. Born on 10th December 1928. Executive Director of the Bank of England. Since 1953 he has composed about 250 problems almost all two-movers. He has specialised in task two-movers, on which he has contributed articles to The Problemist and Problem.
From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:
“British problemist, output consists of two-movers, helpmates and serieshelpmates. Enthusiastic investigator into task problems in all these spheres. International Judge (1975).”
Here is his obituary from The University of Bristol
John Wisker (30 May 1846 in Kingston upon Hull, England – 18 January 1884 in Richmond, Victoria) was an English chess player and journalist. By 1870, he was one of the world’s ten best chess players, and the second-best English-born player, behind only Joseph Henry Blackburne.
Wisker moved to London in 1866 to become a reporter for the City Press and befriended Howard Staunton. His proficiency at chess improved rapidly, and he won the 1870 British Chess Championship after a play-off against Amos Burn, ahead of Blackburne, the defending champion. He won again in 1872 after a play-off against the first British champion, Cecil Valentine De Vere. After this second victory, the British championship was not resumed until 1904. Wisker edited chess columns for The Sporting Times and Land and Water. From 1872 to 1876, Wisker was Secretary of the British Chess Association and co-editor of The Chess Player’s Chronicle. After learning that he had contracted tuberculosis, Wisker emigrated to Australia in the autumn of 1876 to try to regain his health. In Australia, he wrote a chess column for the Australasian. In 1884, Wisker died from bronchitis and tuberculosis.
Here is a short item from the Ken Whyld Association web site :
and here is a more detailed article from chess.com
From The Oxford Companion to Chess by David Hooper & Ken Whyld :
John Wisker was an English player and journalist. After moving from Yorkshire to London in 1866 Wisker improved rapidly, so that in the early 1870s he could be ranked among the world’s best ten and second only to Blackburne among English-born players. In 1870 Wisker won the British Championship ahead of Blackburne (the holder) after a play-oil against Burn, and in 1872 he again won the title after a play-off against De Vere. (winner of the first British Championship). By winning twice in succession Wisker retained the trophy and the contests ceased until 1904 (when
Napier won). Against two of his contemporaries Wisker played six matches: Bird in 1873 (+6 =1 -6 and +4 =3 -7) and again in 1874 (+10 =3 -8 and +3 =1 -5); and MacDonnell in 1873 ( = 1 -3) and 1875 ( + 7 =4 -4), Discovering that he had tuberculosis, Wisker emigrated to Australia in the autumn of 1876, hoping to improve his health. In England he edited excellent chess columns in The Sporting Times and Land and Water, and was co-editor of the Chess Player’s Chronicle from 1872 to 1876; in
Australia he edited a chess column in the Australasian.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :
British Champion in 1879 and 1872 and Hon. Secretary of the British Chess Association from 1872 – 1877. Wisker was born in Hull. His parents were poor and, he received little schooling, but by his own efforts educated himself and by the time he was 19 was contributing articles to the Fortnightly Review. In 1866 he came to London to report for the City Press and was introduced to London chess circles by Howard Staunton. His play rapidly improved, and his victory in the British Championship in 1870 was achieved after a ply-off against Burn, ahead of Blackburne. In 1872, by successfully defending his title, he won the BCA Challenge Cup outright. On this occasion he won a play-off against De Vere. In 1872 Wisker became co-editor with Skipworth of the Chess Player’s Chronicle.
in 1875, Wisker was found to have consumption, and two years later. on medical advice, he emigrated to Australia. He became chess editor of The Australian, an appointment which he held at the time of his death. He died on 18th January 1884 from bronchitis on top of consumption.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :
A prominent British player and chess administrator. Wisker won the BCA Challenge Cup in 1870 after a play-off with Burn. In 1871 he narrowly lost (+2 -3 =4)a match to the French master Rosenthal, who had fled to London to avoid the rigours of war. Wisker retained the Challenge Cup in 1872, this time after a play-off with De Vere. In the following year Wisker played a series of matches against Bird, drawing the first (+6 -6 =1) losing the second (+4 -6 =2) and winning the third (+10 -8 = 3).
From 1872 to 1877 Wisker was secretary of the BCA and jointly edited the Chess Player’s Chronicle. wisker suffered from consumption and in 1877 under doctor’s orders emigrated to Australia where he died (H.G.)
From The Oxford Companion to Chess by David Hooper & Ken Whyld :
One of the world’s best half-dozen players in the early 1880s, journalist. He was born in Kilkenny, Ireland, and adopted the name James Mason (his real name is not known) when he and his family emigrated to the USA in 1861. He became a boot-black in New York, frequenting a Hungarian cafe where he learned chess. Coming to the notice of J. G. Bennett of the New York Herald he was given a job in the newspaper’s offices, a start in life that both suited his literary aspirations and gave him the chance to study the game; and in 1876 he made his mark, winning first prizes at the fourth American Chess Congress, Philadelphia, and in the New York Clipper tournament, and defeating the visiting master Bird in match play (411=4-4), Settling in England In 1878 he drew a match with Potter (+5=11— 5) in 1879, and at Vienna 1882, the strongest tournament held up to that time, he took third prize (+17=12-5) after the joint winners Steinitz and Winawer.
This was his finest achievement, but he had some other good tournament results; London 1883 (won by Zukertort), equal fifth; Nuremberg 1883, third after Winawer and Blackburne; Hamburg 1885, second equal with Blackburne, Englisch, Tarrasch, and Weiss after Gunsberg; Manchester 1890 (won by Tarrasch), equal fifth; and Belfast 1892, first equal with Blackburne. Fond of drink, Mason is alleged to have lost many games when in a ‘hilarious condition’. ‘A jolly good fellow first and a chess-player afterwards’ he never fulfilled the promise of his first years in England, Instead he wrote books on the game, in excellent style, notably two popular textbooks. The Principles of Chess in Theory and Practice (1894) and The Art of Chess (1895): both ran to several editions. Another of his books. Social Chess (1900), contains many short and brilliant games.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :
A British master of Irish birth, Mason emigrated in early youth to the USA before settling in England in 1878. In America he won matches against Delmar, Martinez, Bird etc, ; In England he beat Mackenzie and drew with Potter, remaining unbeaten in match-play. He played in most of the important tournaments of the eighties and nineties, but the first prize he won on his début at the Philadelphia congress 1876 remained his only victory.
His best results were the third prizes at Vienna 1882 (behind Steinitz and Winawer), Nuremberg 1883 and Amsterdam 1889; =2nd at Hamburg 1885 and =3rd at Bradford 1888; also his 7th place in the great New York 1889 tournament. He wrote The Principles of Chess, London 1894, The Art of Chess, London 1895, compiled a collection of brilliancies in a series Social Chess, London 1900, and was co-author with Pollock of the 1895/6 tournament book. (Article by William Hartston).
We reviewed the most recent book about James Mason here
31 Clyde Road, Croydon, England (Fairy Chess Review, issues from 1946 to 1949*).
From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984 & 1996)by Hooper & Ken Whyld :
“English composer, pioneer of both fairy problems and retrograde analysis. His problems in these fields form the greater part of his output (about 6,500 compositions) and are better remembered than his studies and orthodox problems. For fairy problems he invented new pieces: grasshopper (1912) LEO (1912), NEUTRAL MAN (1912) NIGHT RIDER (1925), and VAO (1912); he codified new rules such as the maximummer (1913) and various kinds of series-mover; and he used unorthodox boards.
In 1915 he wrote Retrograde Analysis, the first book on the subject, completing the project begun several years earlier by the German composer Wolfgang Hundsdorfer (1879-1951).
From 1919 to 1930 Dawson conducted a column devoted to fairy problems in the Chess Amateur, In 1926 he was a co-founder of The Problemist , which he edited for its first six years and he founded and edited The Problemist Fairy Supplement (1931-6) continued as The Fairy Chess Review (1936-51).
Besides conducting columns in several newspapers and periodicals, one of them daily and one in the Braille Chess Magazine, Dawson edited the problem section of the British Chess Magazine from 1931 to 1951; he devised and published in its pages (1947-50) a systematic terminology for problem themes in the hope that it would supplant the extensive jargon then and now in use, Dawson wrote five hooks on fairy problems: Caissa’s Wild Roses (1935); C. M. Fox, His Problems (1936); Caissa’s Wild Roses in Clusters (1937); Ultimate Themes (1938); and Caissa’s Fairy Tales (1947).
Charles Masson Fox (1866-1935) was a patron whose generosity made possible the publication of four of these books and the two fairy problem magazines founded by Dawson. Ultimate Themes deals with tasks, another of Dawson’s favourite subjects. In 1973 all five books were republished in one volume. Five Classics of Fairy Chess.
Dawson found it difficult to understand the problemist’s idea of beauty because it is not susceptible to precise definition. The artist talks of “quiet” moves, oblivious that they are White’s most pulverizing attacks! This aesthetic folly, reverence, response thrill to vain-glorious bombast runs throughout chess.(See Bohemian for a problem showing 16 model mates, a task Dawson claimed as a record but a setting Bohemian composers would reject.) His genius did not set him apart from his fellows; he could find time for casual visitors and would explain his ideas to a tyro with patience, modesty, and kindness. Although he won many tourney prizes much of his work was designed to encourage others, to enlarge the small band of fairy problem devotees, He composed less for fame than to amuse himself, confessing to another composer ‘We do these things for ourselves alone.’
A chemistry graduate, Dawson took a post in the rubber industry in 1922 and rose to be head of the Intelligence Division of the British Rubber Manufacturer for which he founded, catalogued, and maintained a technical library. Unwell for the last year of his life, he died from a stroke. K. Fabel and C. E. Kemp, Schach ohne Grenzen or Chess unlimited (1969) is a survey, written in German and English, of Dawson’s contribution to the art of fairy problems.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale 1970 & 1976), Anne Sunnucks :
“British problemist. Born on 28th November 1889. Died on 16th December 1951. Universally known as TRD., the great master of Fairy problems. His wealth of invention held the chess world enthralled. His output comprised about 6,400 problems and 150 studies.
Dawson was a nephew of the late James Rayner, himself a noted chess problemist . From as early as about 1910, TRD had conducted the ‘Chess Endings‘ section in the Chess Amateur, and its Fairy section from 1919. He worked with BG Laws from Mark 1930 conducting the problem pages of the British Chess Magazine, and following Laws’ death he assumed complete charge of the section from October 1931 to February 1951 when ill health forced him to relinquish the work.
The Problemist Fairy Chess Supplement subsequently renamed The Fairy Chess Review was started by TRD in August 1930. TRD was concerned in a number of other chess publications ; chess for the Blind, several books of the AC White Christmas series, BCPS Honours 1926-29, and the CM Fox series.
He was largely instrumental in the publication of the first issue of The Problemist on 1st January 1926, and was editor until May 1931. He was President of The British Chess Problem Society from September 1931 to 1943.
Apart from chess, Thomas Dawson, MSc, FRIC, FIRI was an international authority on rubber, and was responsible for the creation of the world-famous rubber library at Croydon, as well as its ‘Dawson’ system of rubber literature documentation. A Guide to Fairy Chess and The Problemist March 1952 detail the remarkable life-time accomplishments of TRD.”
From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:
“British problemist, output over 6,000, 5,000+ being fairies . Dawson is remembered especially for his enormous contribution to fairy chess, of which he was the world’s leading exponent. Not only did he invent new pieces (e.g. Grasshopper, Nightrider) and new forms (e.g. Serieshelpmate), he also popularised fairy ideas with unparalleled enthusiasm through his writing and editing.
Books include Caissa’s Wild Roses (1935), Caissa’s Wild Roses in Clusters (1937), Ultimate Themes (1938), and Caissa’s Fairy Tales (1947); and in collaboration Retrograde Analysis (1915) and Asymmetry (1928).
Editor of The Problemist (1922-31), fairy secretary of Chess Amateur (1919-30, Fairy Chess Review (previously Problemist Fairy Supplement) (1930-51) and problem pages of the British Chess Magazine (1931-51). Of these, the Fairy Chess Review was probably his greatest achievement.
President of British Chess Problem Society 1931-43.”
When TRD stepped down as Endings editor of British Chess Magazine in December 1947 he wrote this:
“With this page I reluctantly terminate on health grounds some forty years of work in the Endings field, and my contributions to this corner of the “British Chess Magazine”. To the many readers of these pages, a Merry Christmas and steadily improving years.”
From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXI (71, 1951), Number 3 (March) pp. 78-80 we have notice of the retirement of TRD written by Brian Reilly:
WITH the retirement of Mr. T. R. Dawson a wonderful chapter in the history of the “B.C.M.” is brought to a close. It is a profound truism that in England the Chess Problem has never possessed such an assiduous and devoted servant and although Mr. Dawson had already attained greatness when he joined us, the story of the Past twenty years is one of unparalleled intensive activity in which the ontological essays on “Systematic Terminology” may be considered the crowning
achievement of a unique career.
His immense influence in the realm of Fairy Chess is well known; indeed, when the next instalment in the history
of the subject comes to be written it will be mainly that of our own Colossus with his countless converts finding, not dishonourable graves, but new and entrancing visions of beautiful things made possible through him. The onus probandi of his contribution to the orthodox problem, as treated in the “‘B.C.M.,” lies with posterity and in the minds of men unencumbered by prejudice and receptive to new and startling ideas.
In this Editorial we can only say, on behalf of our many readers,
“Thank you, T. R. D., for everything that you have done: for your devotion to your cause and your inspiration to your fellows. It has been a privilege to be associated with you and in the well-deserved years of retirement may your days and those of your loved ones, be long, fruitful, and full of the greatest happiness.”
In the nature of things we must go on and in bidding. a reluctant farewell to the magic name of T. R. D. we welcome to Problem World the young and and enthusiastic Mr. S. Sedgwick. His first article, dealing with the work of T. R. D., appears overleaf, and we commend it to all our readers.
Here is that editorial as it originally appeared:
Following that we have this appreciation from the incoming Problem Editor, Stanley Sedgwick of 337 Strone Road, Manor Park, London E12:
RETIREMENT OF MR. T. R. DAWSON
The news that Mr. Dawson, through reasons of health, has to relinquish these pages will be received with a deep and universal regret.
In the T. R. D. Diamond Jubilee booklet, 1949, the Editor was constrained to remark that so far as Fairy Chess Review was concerned there were no signs of Mr. Dawson retiring to that otium cum dignitate which was unquestionably his due; for the “B.C.M.” that prophecy is now unfortunately fulfilled. I might well have called this article “Twenty Glorious Years,” for in that time he has poured forth from these pages, in a never ending stream, the
treasures of a unique creative mind that makes the lot of any successor in unenviable one. As befits the occasion this issue is devoted to T. R. D. and I have to thank the many kind friends who at short notice have joined me in this tribute.
Thomas Rayner Dawson, M.Sc., F.I.C., F.I.R.I.. was born on November 29th, 1889, in Leeds, Yorkshire. He was a nephew of the late James Rayner, who edited these pages from 1889 until his death in 1898. A study of the “B.C.M.” for those years reveals a man whose love for the bizarre and unorthodox far outstrips any regard for the conventional. Bearing in mind Mr. Dawson’s subsequent pre-eminence in Fairy Chess it can be truly said that he was nurtured in the correct Puck-like atmosphere and to use his own words: “l cut my teeth on some of his old round-headed pawns!”
By the year 1900 he had already assimilated the rules of the game from a book of boy’s pastimes and evidenced an interest, in local newspaper columns, The Leeds Mercury Supplement and Yorkshire Weekly Post. His first problem – a direct mate in two – fell under the solvers’ scrutiny in 1907 and within a short period, which saw further orthodox work, he had soon acquired technique and absorbed current tenets, jargon, dogma, and dicta. – His attraction for the unorthodox was fostered primarily by his relationship to James Rayner, by the Christmas issues of the Leeds Mercury Supplement, and three works Tolosa y Carreras’ Traite Analytique, Alexandre’s Beautes, and Samuel Loyd in American Chess Nuts.
Through these agencies developed a love of Fairy Chess which was later to be the single and enduring passion of his life.
The year 1909 saw him in charge of the Endings Section of the Chess Amateur and later in the same magazine the famous Fairy Corner. In l915 at the invitation of Mr. Alain White he joined with W. Hundsdorfer in an epoch making pioneer work Retrograde Analysis, a strange and beautiful field in which he had proved himself peculiarly facile. In 1922 he founded and edited with conspicuous success The Problemist, the bi-monthly journal of the British Chess Problem Society.
This important work continued until 1931 when he relinquished the Editorship to Mr. C. S. Kipping and commenced the editing of an unknown and delicate newcomer, The Problemist Fairy Supplement. Although the Fairies had been claiming his attention more and more, Mr. Dawson discharged his position as the Society’s Editor with characteristic thoroughness, ever ready to support its tourneys with his own work and the pages of its journal with theoretical articles, demonstrating that his true passion had in no way impaired a marked ability for orthodox technique.
Nineteen-thirty-one, which saw the first small beginnings of The Problemist Fairy Supplement (later to be known as Fairy Chess Review), was to prove a milestone in the history of Fairy Chess. From its pages Fairy Chess as preached by T. R. D. went out to all lands, Penetrating every barrier, enrolling new adherents, and carried onwards and
upwards by the magnificent enthusiasm of his greatest disciple and guiding star.
His unique ability to interpret the infinite new forms of Fairy Chess, which a fertile imagination made readily available, had already gained renown and by this time his pre-eminence was firmly established, founded on problems and articles scattered in countless magazines and journals throughout the world. The message of his work and personality was, for many serious minds, too strong to be resisted, and in his devotion to Fairy Chess Mr. Dawson stands as the architect who laid the foundations for all the undreamt glories and beauties that are to come.
He joined the “8.C.M.” in 1930 and became the Problem Editor in 1931, upon the death of B. G. Laws; he was later made responsible for the well-known Endings feature. To these pages Mr. Dawson brought a rare literary ability and a scientific single-mindedness of purpose that for many years has made him unique in chess journalism.
In 1933, with an article on pawn switch modes, he lit a tiny flame that burned and has gone on burning, illuminating one of the most complete investigations into any problem theme. In this article, small but very significant in itself, is mirrored Mr. Dawson’s insistence upon the scientific and methodical approach to all problem work.
The same sincere belief that order and method are indispensable to any progress in the chess problem resulted fifteen years later in the historical essays on Systematic Terminology – one of the most remarkable contributions to pure thought on the problem domain yet conceived. The desire to bring order out of chaos has led him over the period of years to collect 100,000 Fairy Chess problems in a classified. system, a unique compilation with each individual member precisely assigned its place in the chess cosmos. His philosophy is, perhaps, best exemplified by his closing remarks to the Systematic Terminology essays, in which he states that with the assistance of orderly terminology “chess problem study is lifted far out of the morass of confusion of inspiration, into the freedom and dignity of an exact geometrical science.” It will not
have escaped attention that despite this uncompromising rejection of the artistic nature of the chess problem, Mr. Dawson’s best work, both orthodox and fairy, is the very embodiment of everything that good work should be. Pointed like an arrow,
complete and final as to the idea depicted, great regard paid to economy, the best attributes are ever present and there are many students of themes who have had occasion to profit from the clarity of his constructive powers.
The 1930’s saw great activity in the publication of the important Fairy Chess books, Caissa’s Wild Roses (1935), Caissa’s Wild Roses in Clusters (1937), and Ultimate Themes (1938). In each one a complex subject was treated in a thoroughly scientific manner. Broadly speaking these three works summarized Fairy Chess to date, demonstrating
its great achievements with crystal clarity. A close study of these books reveals the whole magnificent sweep of a unique intellect, at the same time showing how many of these achievements were really due to him. ln 1936 he gave to Fairy Chess lovers C. M. Fox, His Problems, a tribute to his great friend. His other literary works include the truly delightful Caissa’s Fairy Tales, which, with Sam Loyd and his Chess Problems shares the honour of being the only two problem books to be translated from the English language. Fata Morgana (1922), in conjunction with Dr. Birgfeld, W. Nanz,W. Massmann and W. Pauly, dealt with over 800 self mates and here Mr. Dawson’s Symbolic Notation was the binding thread in a masterly book. Asymmetry, with W. Pauly was published in 1928 and remains the classic exposition of afield to which he has devoted considerable attention.
In addition to his work for the “B.C.M.,” Mr. Dawson has at various times been responsible for the Problem Department of Eco degli Scacchi, The Half Hour, L’Alfiere di Re, the London Evening Standard, and the Braille Chess Magazine, the last named an unremitting labour of love that continued for thirteen years. He also assisted in the inauguration of the annual British Chess Federation Award Pamphlets and edited them for three years. As a mark of great respect for his work he was elected President of the British Chess Problem Society in 1931 and remained constantly in that office until 1943.
A study of Mr. Dawson’s output is truly impressive and includes, inter alia, 5302 Fairies, 885 direct mates, 97 self mates and 138 endings, of which 110 Fairies have gained prizes with 89 Hon. Mentions and 75 commendations; in the other group 10 have been awarded prizes, with 47 Hon. Mentions and commendations. A composer’s contribution to any particular domain cannot and must not be judged by reference to tourney results alone, but in these achievements the First Prize Essay, L’Echiquier, 1928, and the treatise on Pawn Promotions, British Chess Federation, 1936, highlight a brilliant career.
Mr. Dawson has thus run the entire gamut and experience of composition ever revealing himself both in his work and writings as a seeker of essential truths and beauties, endowed with the ability to pass his discoveries on to others so that their wonders may be shared, enjoyed, and carried forward. He was kind enough to make a personal selection from his problems to round off this article and from these I have chosen six.
Many composers have expressed a desire to be associated with this small, but quite inadequate, tribute to his genius and many problems have been contributed for this purpose, some of which appear in this issue and others will follow. With each
and every one has come a warm personal message of esteem for our retiring Editor, coupled with the sincere hope that time and rest will repair the harm left by the past years of unremitting labour. That this event is not too long delayed is the fervent wish of us all.
Six of Mr. Dawson’s problems follow –
No. 1 British Chess Magazine, January, 1951
White mates in 2
Good Companion Chess Problem Club, March, 1922
White mates in 3
British Chess Magazine, September, 1937
White mates in 3
Bolton Football Field, March 9th, 1913
White mates in 3
The Field, September 14th, 1946
White mates in 4
British Chess Federation Awards, 1943
White mates in 7
and here follows the original article:
Unfortunately TRD was to pass away not much more than a year after the retirement notice and in British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 4 (April) pp. 107 – 108 we have this obituary also from Stanley Sedgwick :
According to Edward Winter in Chess Explorations (Cadogan Chess, 1996) page 106, Chess Note 457, :
“George Jellis suspects that a chess man has been named after a street:
Just south of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London is a private gated road called Nightrider Street which, I believe belongs to the Post Office and presumably derives its name from the night mail coaches of earlier days. It is only a short walk from the St. Bride’s Institute, where the British Chess Problem Society has held its meetings since its foundation in 1918. Among the founder members was TR Dawson, who published his first Nightrider problem in 1925.
“Thomas Rayner Dawson (28 November 1889 – 16 December 1951) was an English chess problemist and is acknowledged as “the father of Fairy Chess”. He invented many fairy pieces and new conditions. He introduced the popular fairy pieces grasshopper, nightrider, and many other fairy chess ideas.
Dawson published his first problem, a two-mover, in 1907. His chess problem compositions include 5,320 fairies, 885 directmates, 97 selfmates, and 138 endings. 120 of his problems have been awarded prizes and 211 honourably mentioned or otherwise commended. He cooperated in chess composition with Charles Masson Fox.
Dawson was founder-editor (1922–1931) of The Problemist, the journal of the British Chess Problem Society. He subsequently produced The Fairy Chess Review (1930–1951), which began as The Problemist Fairy Chess Supplement. At the same time he edited the problem pages of The British Chess Magazine (1931–1951).
Caissa’s Playthings a series of articles in Cheltenham Examiner (1913) Retrograde Analysis, with Wolfgang Hundsdorfer (1915) Fata Morgana, with Birgfeld, Nanz, Massmann, Pauly (1922) Asymmetry, with W. Pauly (1928) Seventy Five Retros (1928) Caissa’s Wild Roses (1935) C. M. Fox, His Problems (1936) Caissa’s Wild Roses in Clusters (1937) Ultimate Themes (1938) Caissa’s Fairy Tales (1947)
The last five titles were collected as Five Classics of Fairy Chess, Dover Publications (1973), ISBN 978-0-486-22910-2.”
We have learnt the sad news that popular longtime Arbiter and Organizer David Welch has passed away at the age of 74 after a long illness : he was being cared for in The Royal Liverpool Hospital.
David was born on Tuesday, October 30th 1945 in Brampton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire and he played for Wallasey Chess Club for many years having initially been a member of Liverpool Chess Club.
He attended Queens’ College, Cambridge reading Natural Sciences (Chemistry) and (according to John Swain) David served Cambridge University Chess Club as Junior Treasurer, Librarian and Bulletin Editor.
In 1968 David and Peter Purland started teaching at the same Liverpool school on the same day and continued their friendship from there.
David became a BCF arbiter in the early 1970s eventually becoming the BCFs Chief Arbiter and then the ECFs Chief Arbiter and was heavily involved in many British Championships around the country.
David was curator of ECF equipment for some time and personally funded much of the BCFs and ECFs early equipment stock.
He became a FIDE International Arbiter as early as 1977 and was awarded the FIDE International Organizer title in 2010.
David shared the exact same date of birth as long time friend and fellow arbiter, Peter Purland.
in 2016 David received recognition from FIDE for his long service as an International Arbiter. David was the third English arbiter to receive the honour, following Stewart Reuben and Gerry Walsh in 2014.
We send our condolences to all of his many family and friends.
We remember Charles Edward Kemp who passed away, this day, November 9th, 1986
From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:
“British problemist, specialist in fairy problems. Editor with D. Nixon of Fairy Chess Review, 1952-8. Co-author, with K. Fabel of Schach ohne Grenzen (Chess Unlimited) (1969), an anthology of T.R.Dawson’s work. International Judge (1964). ”
Using a Google translation from the Italian(!) wikipedia article we have
“Charles Edward Kemp ( Manchester , November 18, 1901 – Manchester , November 9, 1986 ) was a British chess composer .
He composed over 600 problems , many of which were of help and Fairy (with heterodox pieces ). He often collaborated with Thomas Rayner Dawson in editing the Fairy Chess Review , founded by the latter ..
Together with Karl Fabel he wrote the book Schach ohne Grenzen (“Chess Without Borders”), Walter Rau Verlag, Düsseldorf, 1969.
In the second problem reported below, the heterodox piece called Grillo (” Grasshopper ” in English, represented by an inverted Woman ) appears . Remember that this piece moves along the columns or diagonals, but only by skipping a piece (of both colors) and completing the move in the next house; if an opposing piece is found, it will be captured. In any case, even without moving, he acts on this house. The black cricket in c4, for example, can make only five moves: c4-c2, c4xe4, c4-c7, c4-f7 and c4-f1; in all the houses of arrival it does not check the white king.”
Charles Masson Fox was born on Friday, November 9th 1866 in Falmouth, Cornwall. his father, Howard, was 29 and his mother, Olivia Blanche Orme, was 22. He had one brother and two sisters.
His sister Olivia Lloyd was born on 5 February 1868 in Falmouth, Cornwall, when Charles Masson was 1 year old. His sister Stella was born on 11 December 1876 in Falmouth, Cornwall, when Charles Masson was 10 years old. In 1881 he was living in Sherborne, Dorset. In 1901 he was once more living in Falmouth and his profession was that of a timber merchant. His brother Howard Orme died on 7 June 1921 in Falmouth, Cornwall. His father Howard passed away on 15 November 1922 in Cornwall. His mother Olivia Blanche passed away on 12 March 1930 in Falmouth, Cornwall, at the age of 85.
Sadly, neither Hooper & Whyld, Sunnucks or Golombek mention Fox in their works.
“Charles Masson Fox (9 November 1866 – 11 October 1935) was a Cornish businessman who achieved international prominence in the world of chess problems and a place in the gay history of Edwardian England.
Masson Fox was born into a Quaker family (although he was not related to the Quakers’ founder George Fox) and was a cousin of the fraudulent sinologist Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet. Living throughout his life in the Cornish seaside town of Falmouth, Fox in the early decades of his life was a senior partner of his family’s timber firm, Fox Stanton & Company, and was also on the Board of Messrs G C Fox & Company, a long-established firm of shipping agents.
C.M.Fox’s gravestone at Budock Quaker Burial Ground
Fox is described by chess historian Thomas Rayner Dawson (1889–1951) as “a friendly man, kind, mellow, lovable, bringing peace and comfort and serene joy with him”. He was also a discreet but active homosexual. In 1909 he visited Venice with his friend James Cockerton, meeting the writer Frederick Rolfe and becoming the reluctant recipient of Rolfe’s famous Venice Letters, in which the gay subculture of Venice is vividly described.
In 1912–13 Fox was blackmailed by a woman who accused him of seducing her 16-year-old son. Eventually Fox reported the matter to the police and the woman was sent to prison for five years and her son for one year, with hard labour. However, Fox was profoundly affected by the publicity surrounding the case, which was reported in detail in the local press. The predictable result of his courageous action was the destruction of his reputation, and the compromise of his business and social life in Falmouth.
Although he continued to live in Cornwall, the focus of his social life shifted to London, and in the last two decades of his life, Fox became prominent in the world of chess. He was elected President of the Cornwall Chess Association, played a prominent part in the development of the British Chess Problem Society, and is still renowned as one of the greatest ever exponents of fairy chess (chess problems with variations in the rules).”
From The Problemist Fairy Chess Supplement, 1933 :
What is the shortest game
ending in this position?
BCN remembers Robin Matthews CBE, FBA who died in Cambridge aged 83 on June 19th 2010. Probate (3367272) was granted in Ipswich, Suffolk on September 6th, 2010.
Robert (Robin) Charles Oliver Matthews was born in Edinburgh on Thursday, June 16th 1927. Born on the same day was England cricketer, Tom Graveney.
His English father, Oliver Harwood Matthews became an Edinburgh solicitor and his mother was Ida Matthews (née) Finlay. Robin had a daughter Alison.
He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and then Corpus Christi College, Oxford becoming a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He went on to become a highly successful economist authoring at least twelve publications on the subject.
According to Wikipedia “He was the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford from 1965 to 1975 and the Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge from 1980 to 1991. He was also the Master of Clare College, Cambridge from 1975 to 1993.”
Brian Stephenson (BCPS) writes : “Probably the UK’s greatest composer of ‘mate in 3’ #ChessProblems . His chapters in the book you note were what got me hooked on chess composition. Nearly all of his output can be viewed at The Meson Database”
Black Correction: Quaternary Play
First Prize, The Observer, 1964
Mate in three
According to David McKittrick in The Independent:
“Outside academia, Matthews was keen on chess, in particular setting problems and publishing two books on what are known as three-mover directmates, in which white is to move and checkmate black in no more than three moves against any defence.
Although this might be thought a particularly narrow point of interest, one enthusiast said of him that his writings “demonstrated a deep knowledge along with the feeling of wonder and curiosity about the subject”.
“British Composer, International Judge of Chess Compositions (1957), International Master for Chess Compositions (1965), economist, appointed Master of Clare College, Cambridge in 1975. He has specialised in orthodox three movers and is among the world’s leaders in this field.”
International Master of the F.I.D.E. for chess compositions (1965) and International Judge of the F.I.D.E. for Chess Compositions (1957). President of the British Chess Problem Society for 1971 and 1972. Professor of Economics at Oxford University.
Cyclic Overload Doubled
First Prize, British Chess Magazine, 1968
Mate in three
Born on 16th June 1927. Professor Matthews has composed about 200 problems, about 40 of them 1st prize winners, mainly strategic three-movers, He is one of the world’s best three move composers.
British Chess Magazine, 1967
His best problems give clear-cut expression of complex themes, with proper attention given to key-move and by-play in the best English tradition.
The results are massive rather than elegant, but carefully constructed. Themes he has specialised in include overload White self-weakening and reciprocal change.”
British Chess Magazine
White to play and mate in three moves
From Wikipedia :
“Robert (Robin) Charles Oliver Matthews (16 June 1927 – 19 June 2010) was an economist and chess problemist.
Matthews was born in Edinburgh. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford from 1965 to 1975 and the Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge from 1980 to 1991. He was also the Master of Clare College, Cambridge from 1975 to 1993.”
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