BCN Remembers Captain William Davies Evans (27-i-1790 03-viii-1872)
From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper & Whyld :
“Inventor of the Evans gambit, for about half a century one of the most popular attacking weapons. He was born in (Musland Farm in the parish of Saint Dogwells,) Pembroke, Wales, went to sea at the age of 14, was employed by the Postal Department from about 1815, and rose to the rank of captain four years later. In 1824, soon after taking command of the first Royal Mail steam packet to sail from Milford Haven to Waterford, and while aboard, he invented his gambit. Evans was a keen player. He gathered a small chess circle in Waterford, and when on leave in England played chess in London, notably in 1826 when he showed his gambit to Lewis and McDonnell, and in 1838 when he played a long series of games with Staunton at the Westminster Chess Club. In Jan. 1840 he was pensioned off on account of ill-health. He went to Greece, became captain of a steamer that sailed the Mediterranean, and returned to London at the end of 1842. During the next 13 years there are several accounts of his presence in London, and then he settled abroad. He died and was buried in Ostend,
Evans claimed to have solved the three pawns problem (See below) , which, however, had already been solved by others. His claim to the invention of tri-coloured lighting for ships has not been verified independently, although he is known to have investigated the subject. For this invention he states that the Tsar of Russia gave him a gold chronometer, and that he also received money. For a more detailed life of Captain Evans see British Chess Magazine, 1928, pp, 6-18.”
The Evans Gambit is a variation of the Giuoco Piano or Italian Game :
When Evans originally devised his gambit the move order was slightly different :
in which White sacrifices the b-pawn for increased central control and development viz :
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“Inventor of the Evans Gambit, an opening described by a player in the last century as ‘A yellow fever attack : if you live through the initial stages and avoid any carelessness that may bring on a relapse, you will come out alright’.
Captain Evans discovered the gambit in about 1824. It was a favourite opening during the last century and was adopted by a number of leading players including La Bourdonnais and Morphy.
For some years Commander in H.M. Royal Mail Packet Service on the Milford and Waterford station, Captain Evans later became Commander in the P.& O. Company’s service and agent for the Royal Mail Steampacket Company, Port Grande. On retirement he lives for many years in Holland and Belgium.
The story is told of how, in 1870, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, brother of the Tsar, was visiting Bruges when he heard that the inventor of the Evans Gambit was living in Ostend. Being a keen chess player he invited Evans to play a game. When Evans had won, the Grand Duke turned to his adversary and said : ‘I believe you invented the Evans Gambit ?’, ‘Yes’ replied Evans ‘and it’s not the only thing I’ve invented for which you have not paid me.’ ‘What’s the other?’ asked the Grand Duke.
Evans then explained that he was the inventor of the ship’s lights which were being used by the Russian Navy, in which the Grand Duke held the rank of Admiral. Several months later Evans was invited to the Russian Consulate in Ostend, where he was handed a letter from the Grand Duke, a gold chronometer, a gold chain and a draft of money, ostensibly in payment for the Russia’s rights to use the captain’s invention in her ships. ”
Evans analyzed the “Little Game of Chess” (an endgame composition involving only two kings with three pawns each)
to independently discover that it actually won for the player who moves first, not drawn as had been believed for over a hundred years.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek we have :
“After his retirement Evans went to live abroad and eventually found a haven is Ostend and there, ill, and almost blind and in very straightened circumstances, he dictated a letter on 22 March 1871, which was published in the Gentlemen’s Journal supplement for June 1872, along with an appeal for him organised by George Walker. The letter gives the authentic facts of his life and is worth quoting in full, if only to refute various unfounded reports about a meeting with the Tsar’s brother, or according to that rich source of misinformation, the Rev GA MacDonnell, that the Evans Gambit was discovered off the coast of Africa by a middle-aged lieutenant in the Royal Navy -perhaps the reverend gentleman was confusing Waterford with the Canary Islands.
The letter runs :
Williams Davies Evans is a native of Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and was born on 27 January 1790. He commenced a naval career at the age of fourteen. He was about twenty-eight years of age when he first learnt the moves of the game of Chess. Having the advantage of frequent practise with Lieut H. Wilson, R.N., who was a player of some reputation in his time, beside corresponding on the subject of the game with the late Mr. W. Lewis, and also with George Walker, the able Chess Editor of Bell’s Life , he made a rapid progress in the game. Captain Evans received at first the odds of a Rook from Lieut. Wilson. After a continuance of play for some years, the odds were greatly reduced, until ultimately Captain Evans succeeded in defeating his formidable antagonist playing even.
About the year 1824, being then in command of a Government Mail Steamer, the passages between Milford Haven and Waterford were favourable to the study of the game of Chess and at this time he invented the Gambit, which bears his name. The idea occurred to him while studying a narration of Giuoco Piano in Sarratts’s Treatise on Chess.
Captain Evans was the first who gave to the world a true solution of that very difficult end game, the King and three Pawns unmoved against King and three Pawns also unmoved. This position was handed down to us through a period of some centuries as a drawn game, but Captain Evans proved that the first player can always win.
Captain Evans acquired some celebrity as “Inventor of the System of Tri-Coloured Lights for Ships to Prevent Collisions at Night”, which has been adopted by all nations possessing a marine. For this invention the English Government awarded him the sum of £1,500 , and the Czar of Russia a gold pocket chronometer, value £160, together with a donation of £200.
The subscription that amounted to over £200 was too late. He died in 1872 and was buried in Ostend where his grave bears the inscription :
To the sacred memory of William Davies Evans, formerly Commander in the Post Office and Peninsular and Oriental Steam Services, Superintendent In the Royal Mail Shipping Company, and inventor of the system of tri-coloured light for shipping. Also well known in the Chess World as the author of the Evans Gambit
BCN sends Best Wishes to CM David Anderton OBE on his birthday (02-viii-1941)
David William Anderton was born in the district of Walsall, West Midlands. His mother’s maiden name was Coltart and David continues to reside in Walsall.
David is married to Margaret.
David is an Honorary Life Vice-President of the English (formerly British) Chess Federation.
“David won the ECF President’s Award in 2009 following his stepping down as ECF legal expert. This is the citation from the 2010 ECF Yearbook : As this is Gerry Walsh’s last year as President it was considered appropriate that he be allowed to choose someone receive the award. Gerry has worked with David for all his time with BCF and ECF and has selected him due to his tireless and selfless devotion to both the BCF and ECF over many years.
Most of you will know David and will agree that this is a well deserved award. It is fair to state that David’s assistance over the years has been invaluable and that without it many areas of the Federation would have found it difficult, if not impossible to operate.
Since my election David has been a constant friend and confidante. He has invariable given sound advice throughout my term of office. It was John Wickham who rang me and suggested that due to my length of tenure, a special award might be in order.
After years of selfless and generous devotion serving as ECF President, International Director, Captain of the England Team and legal adviser, this seems to be a fitting tribute.
David’s advice both legal and general, has been invaluable in such matters as the John Robinson legacy and the change of name from BCF to ECF Limited, and I certainly hope that this advice will continue.
David is a FIDE Candidate Master.
With the White pieces David exclusively plays 1.d4 aiming for a Queen’s Gambit and main lines.
With Black David plays the Winawer and the Classical French plus the Lenningrad Dutch.
From https://achievement.org/achiever/demis-hassabis-ph-d/ :
Demis Hassabis, the eldest of three, was born in London on July 27, 1976, to a Greek Cypriot father and a Chinese Singaporean mother.
(Originally his surname was spelt Hassapis)
“Demis Hassabis was born in London, England. He is of both Greek and Chinese ancestry; his father came from Cyprus, his mother from Singapore. Demis and his family moved frequently as his father pursued a variety of business and creative ventures.
Demis was four years old when he saw his father and an uncle playing chess and asked them to teach him the game. He took to it quickly and was soon beating both of them. He showed a precocious aptitude for all games employing logic and strategy. ”
Demis was SCCU Under-18 champion in 1989 and was presented with the “old Trophy” according to the SCCU report.
Demis was a Candidate Master and brother of George Hassapis.
Demis started off with Hampstead Junior Chess Club.
He then played for Barnet Knights, Queens College College Union and Finchley chess clubs
According to Tryfon Gavriel :
Demis wrote a hit computer game called “The theme park”, that was at the top of the charts for six months and sold than more 3.5 million copies. He also did quite well in the 1997 Mind Sports Olympiad.
Danny Gormally wrote (in March 2014) this :
“Demis Hassapis is a former chess prodigy who recently sold his company to Google for £400 million. Demonstrating that if you have the brainpower to be good at chess, you are far better off putting that intelligence to use in some other activity where you might actually get rewarded. Then in fairness, even most strong chess players aren’t as bright as Demis.”
We remember Sir George Alan Thomas who died on July 23rd, 1972
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (BT Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :
“British international master, born in Constantinople (previously Byzantium and currently Istanbul : Ed.) His mother (Lady Edith Margaret Thomas : Ed) was one of the strongest English women players, winner of the first Ladies tournament at Hastings 1895.
(Ed : his father was Sir George Sydney Meade Thomas)
Thomas was an all-round athlete who excelled at tennis, hockey and badminton as well as chess. He captained the English badminton team and was All England Badminton Singles champion from 1920 to 1923.”
Here is an excellent article (albeit stating GT was a Grandmaster and was president of the British Chest Federation!) from the National Badminton Museum.
“Thomas won the British chess championship twice, in 1923 and 1934 and represented England in the Olympiads of 1927 where he tied with Norman Hansen for the best score – 80% on board 3, 1930, 1931, 1935, 1937 and 1939.
In international tournaments his greatest successes were 1st at Spa (ahead of Tartakower) and =1st at Hastings 1934/5 (tied with Euwe and Flohr, ahead of Capablanca and Botvinnik).
He was known for his keen sense of sportsmanship and for his ability to encourage and inspire younger players. He served for many years on the BCF Junior selection committee and was for a time Games Editor of the British Chess Magazine. FIDE awarded him the titles of international master (1950) and International Judge (1952). (article by Ray Keene)”
Thomas with the White pieces was predominantly a Ruy Lopez devotee.
With the Black pieces against 1.e4 he defended the Lopez and the Queen’s Gambit Declined was his favourite versus 1.d4
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale 1972 and 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master (1950), International Judge (1952) and British Champion in 1923 and 1934. All England Badminton Singles Champion, All England Badminton Doubles Champion, Wimbledon tennis player and county hockey player.
Sir George Thomas was born in Constantinople on 14th June 1881. His mother, Lady Thomas, won the first ever ladies’ tournament, which was held in conjunction with the Hastings International Chess Tournament of 1895.
He learned the moves at the age of 4, and as a boy met many of the world’s leading players, including Steinitz, Lasker, Tchigorin and Pillsbury, in his mother’s drawing-room.
Apart from serving as a subaltern in the Army during the 1914-1918 war, Sir George has devoted his life to sport. He played tennis at Wimbledon, played hockey for Hampshire, captained the English Badminton team and was All England Badminton Singles Champion from 1920-1923 and doubles champion nine times.
Sir George played chess for England regularly from 1910 to 1939. He played for the British Chess Federation in the Chess Olympiads of 1927,1930, 1931, 1933, 1935, 1937 and 1939, and captained the team which withdrew from the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1939 on the out-break of war.
His first appearance in the British Championship was in he came 2nd. He also came 2nd in 192l and in 1923 won the first time, thus becoming British Chess Champion and
Badminton Champion in the same year. Sir George’s best performance was at Hastings 1934-1935, when he came =1st. In the last round he needed only a draw against R. P. Michell to come lst, ahead of Euwe, Capablanca, Flohr and Lilienthal, but he lost and had to be content with sharing lst prize with Euwe and Flohr.
During his career he has beaten Botvinnik, Flohr and and drawn with Nimzowitsch, Rubinstein and Capablanca. He been noted for his sportsmanship and for his interest in and encouragement of young players.
Since his retirement until the last few years, Sir George continued to attend tournaments as a spectator.
He is the author of The Art of Badminton, published in 1923.
He died on 23rd July 1972 in a London nursing home.”
From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper & Whyld :
“English player. International Master (1950), International Arbiter (1952), British champion 1923 and 1934. His mother, who taught him chess, was winner of one of the first women’s tournaments, Hastings 1895, He played in more than 80 tournaments and achieved his best result at Hastings 1934-5 (about category 9), when he scored +6-1—2 to share first prize with Euwe and Flohr ahead of Botvinnik and Capablanca. Thomas played in seven Olympiads from 1927 to 1939, and in the first the highest percentage score was made by him ( + 9=6) and the Dane Holgar Norman-Hansen (1899- ) (+11=2—2). A leading English player for more than 25 years, Thomas fought many battles at the famous City of London club, winning 16 of the annual championships from 1913-14 to 1938-9. In his sixty-ninth year he gave up competitive chess when, after a hard game, ‘the board and men began to swim before my eyes,’ He continued his active interest in junior events and his visits, now as a spectator, to chess events.
A man of few words, imperturbable, of fine manners. Sir George Thomas was respected throughout the chess world for his sportsmanship and impartiality, and his opinion was often sought when disputes arose between players. The inheritor of both a baronetcy and private means, he
devoted his life to games and sports. Besides his chess he was a keen hockey player, a competitor in international lawn tennis (reaching the last eight at Wimbledon on one occasion), and winner of about 90 badminton titles, notably the All-England men’s singles championship which he won four times, from 1920 to 1923.”
BCN mourns the passing of Dr. Julian Farrand (13-viii-1935 17-vii-2020). He was 84 years of age.
Julian Thomas Farrand was born August 13th, 1935 in Doncaster in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Dr. Farrand QC(Hon), formerly the Insurance Ombudsman, became the Pensions Ombudsman, and he had been a Law Commissioner and a University Professor of Law at the University of Manchester where he was Dean of the faculty.
Most recently he lived in Morpeth, London, SW1.
His first recorded game in Megabase 2020 was white at the 1968 British Championships in Bristol against life-long friend CGM Keith Bevan Richardson. Together with Raymond Brunton Edwards, Julian and Keith were long-time trustees of the BCFs Permanent Invested Fund (PIF).
Julian played for Pimlico, Cavendish and Insurance in the London League and he maintained a standard play grading of 172A in 2020 as well as a FIDE rating of 1943 for standard play. He also played in the London Public Services League, the Central London League and the City Chess Association League. He made regular appearances in the Bronowski Trophy competition and the World Senior’s Team Tournament.
His (according to Megabase 2020) peak Elo rating was 2238 in April, 2004 aged 69. It is likely to have been higher than that if it was measured.
Julian joined Barbican following its merger with Perception Youth to become Barbican Youth in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).
His favourite openings with white were : The Richter-Veresov Opening in later years and the English/Barcza Opening in earlier times.
With Black he enjoyed the Czech System and the Lenningrad Dutch.
His son, Tom, is a strong player and a successful barrister with expertise in Intellectual Property Rights, Trademarks and Copyright law.
His wife (married in 1992), Baroness Hale of Richmond, served as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom from 2017 to 2020, and serves as a member of the House of Lords as a Lord Temporal.
Memorial messages have been posted on the English Chess Forum and many will, no doubt, follow. Included are older games from John Saunders not found in the online databases.
In 2015 Julian (together with fellow trustees Keith Richardson and Ray Edwards) received the ECF President’s Award for services to the Permanent Invested Fund.
Here is the citation from the 2015 award :
“Julian is best known as the first-ever English ombudsman (in insurance). He is the husband of law lord Baroness Hale. I (SR) first met him at about the age of 12 year old when playing for my school. He is about four years older. Both Ray and Julian are members of the Book of the Year Committee and have been reviewing books for this purpose for many years. Both are quite strong chess players, indeed playing for England in the same team in the European 60+ Team Championship in Vienna 11-20 July 2015. Keith was to have been a member of the same team, but his wife’s ill-health forced him to withdraw.”
BCN wishes IM Nigel Edward Povah all the best on his birthday, July 17th in 1952.
Nigel was born in Wandsworth, London.
He became a FIDE Master in 1980, an International Master in 1983 and an International Correspondence Master in 1983. He became England’s 7th ICCF GM in 1989. His predecessors were :
210048 Markland, Peter Richard ENG GM 1984
210060 Penrose, Dr. Jonathan ENG GM 1983
210178 Webb, Simon ENG GM 1983
210011 Clarke, Peter Hugh ENG GM 1980
210029 Hollis, Adrian Swayne ENG GM 1976
210062 Richardson, Keith Bevin ENG GM 1975
Nigel has been Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.
Nigel has played for Streatham & Brixton Club (see the Andrew Martin video below) and was part of this very strong London club which developed many original opening ideas.
Nigel was a strong opening theoretician and developed ideas in the Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan, Sveshnikov and English Openings amongst others.
Knightmare magazines are a valuable source of information about the club and it’s members.
Below we have the game Berg-Povah, Wijk aan Zee, 1979 annotated by Streatham & Brixton team mate, IM Andrew Martin :
Nigel continues to play for Guildford in the Surrey League and in the Surrey Border League as well as Guildford in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).
Nigel started the highly successful 4NCL teams sponsored by his company Guildford A&DC (Assessment & Development Consultants) and the 4NCL team(s) are now run by Roger Emerson and Julien Shepley having taken a back seat since June 2017.
His peak rating was 2385 in January 1980 aged 28.
Nigel is married to Gill and has a daughter Lucy and a son, Jonathan.
In recent times Nigel has been playing more nationally and internationally and and has become a specialist in the Accelerated London System (with 2.Lf4) and is a regular on the International veterans circuit.
Here is an article written by Richard W. O’Brien from British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983 :
“Nigel Povah was for the majority of the seventies a chess professional. He mixed playing with teaching in various schools and also coached individuals. He is a BCF qualified coach. Danny King (our second youngest international master) and the late Ian Wells were two who clearly benefited from his teachings.
On the playing front he won numerous congresses including Hammersmith 1970, Paignton 1974, LARA 1974, Evening Standard 1974, LARA(again) 1978 and Charlton 1979. In 1975 he won the SCCU Championship and again in 1976. He first played in international tournaments in 1973 when as one of the weaker players in the tournament he produced excellent annotations for the bulletin, even for the games he lost. These were the first signs of becoming a chess writer. To date he has shared first place in four international tournaments Robert Silk 1976, Malta 1976, Malta(again) 1979 and Wijk aan Zee Master Reserves 1979. It can be seen that 1979 was a good year. He also shared 4th place in the British Championship and represented
England at senior level against Denmark in the same year.
His road to the lM title has been long and hard. On several occasions he got close to the norm requirement just to fail. At Lloyds Bank in 1978 and 1980 and Lewisham 1981 he got the necessary three norms. Had he then ceased playing (with an Elo of 23751 he would automatically have had the lM title confirmed at Lucerne in 1982. He however continued playing and became the victim of some complicated and, with respect, unfair FIDE regulations, and his title was delayed until 1983. Clearly had the General Assembly met between January 1982 and June 1982 he would have been awarded the title at least a year earlier!
He has written several books-Chess Training published by Faber, English:Four Knights Batsford, How to Play the English Batsford and was co-author of Sicilian: Lasker-Pelikan Batsford. These last three Batsford publications indicate his interest in current theory. Two of the games which follow- v Berg (see 16…Rb8) and v Speelman (see 12 NgS)certainly confirm this. The Streatham and Brixton club owe much to Nigel Povah in becoming one of the strongest clubs in the country. At one time an average second division side (London league) they have since won the league and been in contention more than once. For several years he was one of the main three organisers at the club and even today still continues to play for them and is currently their National Club match-captain although he now lives some twenty miles away in Guildford.
In 1979 he organised the First Regency International at Ramsgate. In conjunction with Ian Josephs (sponsor) and Bob Wade (controller) this has become a highly successful annual event.
Now married, his wife Gill presented him with a daughter Lucy shortly after the completion of the Regency International in 1982.
He now works for ICL as training consultant and limits his over the board chess to club chess for Streatham.
He has recently taken up postal chess and in 1983 after competing in the BPCF Jubilee he became a correspondence International Master.
He has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Occupational Psychology.”
According to Chess Training : “Two of his pupils were members of England’s victorious 4-man team in the World Under-16 team event.”
He plays for Cavendish, Hendon and 4NCL MK Phoenix.
He gained his FM title in 1982.
His peak rating of 2335 was achieved in January, 1980.
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