Category Archives: Problems

Minor Pieces (77): James Kistruck

Last time I told you about Charles Dealtry Locock’s pioneering work in promoting chess for girls in the 1930s, and, in particular about his private pupil Elaine Saunders, the first genuine girl chess playing prodigy.

She wasn’t the first girl chess prodigy, though. Back in 1891 9-year-old Lilian Baird was making headlines round the world with her skilfully constructed chess problems. You can read about her in this book, and find out more about her chess problemist mother here.

Even in 1891, Lilian wasn’t the only chess kid in town. An even younger composer, seven-year-old James Kistruck from the Essex seaside town of Clacton on Sea, was being celebrated as far away as New Zealand…

The New Zealand Mail 10 April 1891

… and Louisville, Kentucky (although he’d apparently moved from Clacton to London).

The Louisville Courier-Journal 19 July 1891

Here, below, is the first problem: very crude and obvious but just the sort of thing a bright 7-year-old might come up with.

The second problem (the Hackney Mercury for 1891 isn’t available online so I don’t have the exact date) is rather more sophisticated. The key move creates no threat, but prepares three different mates depending on which piece Black moves. I’m sure you can work out the solution for yourself, though.

After the publication of these problems in 1891 nothing more was heard from young master Kistruck. Where did he come from and what happened to him next? I really wanted to find out.

Kistruck (some branches of the family used the variant Kistrick) is a very unusual surname, ideal for a one-name study.

The earliest mention online is of the birth of one Hosea Kistrick in the village of Kirtling, Cambridgeshire (south east of the horse racing town of Newmarket) in 1611. By the late 18th century, and now usually known as Kistruck, they’d migrated east to the villages to the west of Ipswich, Suffolk: Aldham, Elmsett and Offton. Like most of the population outside the big cities at the time, they worked in agriculture. While some of them were humble labourers, one branch had done well for themselves, rising to become farmers. These are the people we need to look at.

Rather confusingly, this family had a lot of sons, all with names beginning with J, and always starting in some order (usually with the father’s name coming first) with James, John and Joseph. The family’s favourite sport was cricket, which must have been confusing for the scorers with so many J Kistrucks in the village team, but some of them also had an interest in chess.

Let me take you back to Thursday 12 February 1862. It was a quiet day at Tollemache Hall, but the peace of the countryside was shattered by the sound of a shotgun and a cry of pain. Farmer Joseph Clarke Kistruck’s gun had accidentally been discharged, shooting him in the thigh. The loss of blood sadly proved fatal.

Essex Standard 27 February 1863

Although the family must have been reasonably well off, it wasn’t going to be easy for his widow Amelia, left with twelve children to look after, and, using the 19th century equivalent of GoFundMe, a fund was launched to help her, soon raising an impressive amount of money.

Suffolk Chronicle 09 May 1863

The twelve children included five sons and seven daughters, and, as this is, in part, a one-name study, we need to consider the boys. There were Joseph Clarke junior (1843), James (1850), John (1851), Jeremiah (1852) and Josiah Ernest (1861).

Jeremiah Kistruck
Jeremiah Kistruck (1852-1938), who spent time in an orphanage after his father’s death, later moving to London.
Susanna Elizabeth Kistruck (1847-1927), who emigrated to Kansas.

It’s the two oldest of the boys, Joseph and James, who, in a small way, made their names in chess.

Joseph Clarke Kistruck junior moved to Ipswich after his father’s death, where he found work as an engine fitter, marrying in 1877 and then moving to Clacton on Sea, where his son, of course also named Joseph Clarke Kistruck, was born in 1883. (I wonder what he would have thought of Clacton’s new MP.) This was, as regular readers will know, during a decade in which many chess clubs started up, and chess was beginning to look like the game we now know.

In January 1889 a new chess opened in Clacton, and Joseph was one of the first members. On Easter Monday they played a match against a team of visitors, whose number included Joseph’s brother James.

East Essex Advertiser and Clacton News 26 April 1889

Joseph also took second place in the inaugural club championship, which concluded the following month.

The last time we hear from him, is in a match against local rivals Colchester in 1890. Perhaps he had to retire from chess for health reasons as he sadly died in September 1892. His son, though, followed in his footsteps, playing in a match for Clacton, again against Colchester, in 1906.

Joseph Clarke Kistruck III (1884-1964) pictured at Pinehurst Barracks, Farnborough in November 1917.

James, meanwhile, had moved to London, working for Jeremiah Rotherham & Co, a large department store on Shoreditch High Street, and, unmarried, living on the premises.

His name started appearing in the press in December 1887 as a regular solver of chess problems. Apart from the friendly match against his brother’s team we have no evidence of him playing club chess.

For several years his name was seen regularly in both local and national papers, which, week after week, would publish lists of those who had submitted correct solutions to their puzzles. He was clearly an accomplished solver.

In 1891 he tried his hand at composition, but the g and h files have been cut off in the online newspaper.

East Anglian Daily Times 25 April 1891

The following week the paper reported that the position, as published, had multiple solutions, and that a black pawn on g7 should be added. The correct solution, if indeed there was one, doesn’t appear to have been published.

If you also add a white pawn on g4 you get a sound, but not at all interesting, mate in 2.

Perhaps any problemists reading this can come up with something better.

By 1893 he was solving far less frequently, and, by the dawn of the 20th century he’d stopped completely, only returning late in life, with mentions in 1928 and 1929, and living on until 1935.

Back in 1909 he unexpectedly married a much younger woman, and their only son, James (of course) Frederick Kistruck, was born the following year. (It looks like they might have had an earlier son with the same name who didn’t survive, and whose birth was registered shortly after his death.) They had now moved out to North London, but he continued working for the same company. Even at the age of 71, in 1921, and by that time living in Wood Green, he was employed as a warehouseman.

There were a couple of other Kistrucks who occasionally solved chess problems. In 1889 there was a J S Kistruck (‘we note the different name’), who might have been a cousin, James Syer Kistruck. In 1893, EE Kistruck from Offton solved a problem in the East Anglian Daily Times. This must have been Joseph and James’s sister Edith Eliza Kistruck (1859-1908): it’s good to know that chess was played by girls as well as boys in the Kistruck family. Edith never married, moving around a lot and spending time with her siblings. In 1885 she gave birth to an illegitimate son, Oliver, in Bethnal Green (near where James was working) who died the following year.

Having looked at the chess careers of the Kistruck family, we need to return to the 7-year-old problemist James Kistruck, living in either London or Clacton, depending on which source you prefer, and having a problem published in Hackney.

James Kistruck was living near Hackney at the time, solving and attempting to compose problems. As of 1891 he had no children. His older brother Joseph was living in Clacton and playing over the board, and had a 7-year-old son, but his name was also Joseph, not James.

It seems to me that this was just a harmless hoax, cashing in on the fame of Lilian Baird to get a couple of problems published. I’d guess James composed them, and used his name, but his nephew’s age and home town to get them published.

If you have any other thoughts, do let me know, and don’t forget to come back soon for another Minor Piece.


Sources & Acknowledgements: Newspaper Library
Yet Another Chess Problem Database (


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Minor Pieces 75: Charles Dealtry Locock (2)

Last time I considered Charles Dealtry Locock’s tournament and match play in the 1880s and 1890s, at which point he gave up competitive chess.

But it was far from the end of his chess career. Alongside his chess playing he had a parallel career as a chess problemist.

In The Chess  Bouquet (1897) he was given the opportunity to say something about how he started to take an interest in the problem art.

Here’s that first problem.

Problem 1 (#3 Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 18-02-1882). The solutions to all problems are at the end of this article.

Here’s another early problem.

Problem 2 (#2 Southern Weekly News 29-12-1883).

But these represented just an early dalliance in the problem world. Concentrating on his studies and over the board play, he took a break from composition, only returning in 1890.

This miniature had probably first been published in Tinsley’s Magazine a few months earlier.

Problem 3. (#2 Morning Post 06-01-1890)

He published a few more problems in 1891, gradually increasing his production over the next few years as he stopped playing tournament chess.

Most of the problems were mates in 2 or 3 moves (quite a few of them, sadly, cooked, which suggests, as does his play, a certain carelessness), but also a few selfmates. By now he had a column in Knowledge, which ran from 1891 to 1904, which provided an outlet for some of his compositions.

While some of them were complex, he also published a lot of simpler problems suitable for casual readers, often employing perennially popular themes such as queen moves to corners, star flights and switchbacks.

Problem 4. (#2 The Field 1891)

In 1892 Locock made a brief excursion into the world of endgame studies, with this early example of Co-ordinate Squares.

You’ll see Locock was living in Kingston at the time, but by the September he’d moved down the road to Putney Heath.

I haven’t been able to find anything further, either in the 1892 or 1893 BCM, perhaps unsurprisingly, since the position is drawn, regardless of whose move it is. If it’s Black’s move, though, the only drawing move is 1… Kg7.

If, however, you start with the white king on a1 instead, then you have an excellent study. It was published with this correction in the Deutsche Schachzeitung in October 1914.

White wants to meet Kf6 with Kd4, and therefore also wants to meet Kg5 with Ke3. There’s only one route to get there.

Study. (W to play and win British Chess Magazine July 1892 (corrected))

In the 1893 Christmas Special issue of the British Chess Magazine, Locock offered a puzzle involving retroanalysis.

Here’s the published solution. I’ll leave to experts in this field to comment.

His problems didn’t win a lot of prizes, but this Mate in 3 from 1896 was a first prize winner.

Problem 5. (#3 Manchester Weekly Times 1896)

In The Chess Bouquet Locock discussed his ‘decidedly heterodox’ views on chess problems.

He concluded like this.

This is one of the problems he composed for The Chess Bouquet.

Problem 6. (#2 The Chess Bouquet 1897)

Although he retired from competitive chess in 1899, Locock certainly didn’t retire from composition, although he was increasingly drawn to 3-movers rather than 2-movers. Some of them are pretty complex, but this one is rather sweet and certainly accessible to the casual solver.

Problem 7. (#3 British Chess Magazine February 1909)

This more complex mate in 3 was a 1st prize winner in 1933.

Problem 8. (#3 1st Prize British Chess Magazine 1933)

Now let me take you back to 1909. On April 1 (note the date), Locock wrote to the editor of the BCM:

A sui-mate is what we’d now call a selfmate. Black compels a reluctant White to deliver checkmate.

For those of you who aren’t bilingual, here’s the game.

Locock would maintain an interest in these tasks, known as Synthetic Games, throughout the rest of his long life. In 1944 he published a whole host of them in the BCM. Note that, unlike in Proof Games, there are often multiple solutions.

You might like to try a couple here.

Synthetic Game 1: White opens 1. Nc3 and delivers a pure mate (there’s only one reason why the king cannot move to any adjacent square) with the queen’s rook on the 5th move. (British Chess Magazine May 1944)

Synthetic Game 2: Black mates on move 5 by promotion to a knight (this is also a pure mate). (Manchester Weekly Times 28 Dec 1912)

If you’re interested in synthetic games you’ll want to read this comprehensive and authoritative paper written by George Jelliss.

There, then, you have the problem career of Charles Dealtry Locock, who, as well as being a very strong player during the 1880s and 1890s, held an important and, you might say, unique place in the chess problem world for more than 60 years. If you’d like to see more of his problems, check out the links to YACPDB and MESON at the foot of this article.

But there was much more to Locock’s chess life than playing and composing, as you’ll find out next time. Be sure not to miss it.


Solutions to Problems and Study (click on any move for a pop-up board).

Problem 1.

Problem 2.

Problem 3.


Problem 5.

Problem 6.

Problem 7.

Problem 8.

Synthetic Game 1.

Synthetic Game 2.


Sources and Acknowledgements Newspaper Library
The Chess Bouquet (FR Gittins: here)
British Chess Magazine (various issues)
Internet Archive (here)
Chess Archaeology (here)
The Problemist
Yet Another Chess Problem Database (here)
MESON Chess Problem Database (here)
Synthetic Games (George Jelliss: here)

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Minor Pieces 76: Charles Dealtry Locock (3)

You’ve already read about Charles Dealtry Locock’s career as a chess player and problemist. In the final part of this trilogy you’ll learn more about his life, and about what might be seen as his most lasting and significant contribution to chess.

You’ll recall that he married his first cousin, Ida Gertrude Locock, and that they had two daughters. Both were named after characters in Wagner operas who met unfortunate ends: was Wagner his favourite composer?

Elsa, born in 1891, received her name from a character in Lohengrin, who, to cut a long story short, died of grief after her brother was turned into a swan. She worked for a time as a shorthand typist, did voluntary social work for the Red Cross during the Second World War, and died unmarried in 1985.

Her sister, born in 1894, was named Brynhild, a version of Brünnhilde from the Ring Cycle, a Valkyrie who, to cut a very long story short, rode her horse into a funeral pyre after the death of her lover Siegfried. (If you’d like to find out more, Anna Russell is considerably shorter and much more amusing than Wagner.) In fact her name was registered twice, the second time as Hilda Vivien, which she seemed to prefer. She worked as a children’s nurse, and died, again unmarried, in 1950.

Although Locock gave up competitive over the board chess in 1899, he played on Board 2 for the South of England in a correspondence match against the North the following year. He was matched against the mathematician George Adolphus Schott, winning a brilliant game. As always, click on any move for a pop-up window.

In the 1901 census the family were living in Camberley, on the Surrey-Hampshire border, along with four servants: governess, parlourmaid, cook and housemaid.

Charles’s occupation was described as ‘living on own means & literature”. His particular literary interests were the poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Swedish poetry and drama. It appears that he was also still writing a regular chess column in the science magazine Knowledge at this point (some of them are available online).

The same year he had his first book published: neither literary nor chess related, but about the game of billiards. Entitled Side and Screw, you can read it here.

Chess and billiards weren’t Locock’s only games. He was also very much involved in the game of croquet, editing the Croquet Association Gazette between 1904 and 1915, and being employed as the Croquet Association handicapper from 1907 to 1929.

More books followed: Modern Croquet Tactics in 1907, Olympian Echoes, a book of poems and essays, in 1908 (here), and, in 1911, an edition of Shelley’s poetry (Volume 2 here).

In October 1910 he made a rare appearance at the chessboard, taking part in one of a series of consultation games between the veterans Blackburne and Gunsberg. His team was unsuccessful, but the game was exciting.

By the 1911 census the family were in the Hertfordshire market town of Berkhamsted, now employing only two servants, a Swiss cook and a parlourmaid. Charles’s occupation was given as Editor and Handicapper.

In 1912 he celebrated his 50th birthday by writing his first chess book, which, unfortunately, doesn’t appear to be available online.

Hampshire Post and Southsea Observer 13 September 1912

By 1915, Charles Dealtry Locock, returned to playing chess, having joined the Imperial Chess Club, here giving a simultaneous display.

West Sussex County Times 01 May 1915

Here’s his loss against solicitor George Bodman, formerly of Bexhill, whom he may well have known from his time in Sussex chess.

It’s possible his marriage had broken up by this time, and he was living in London. Either way, the social atmosphere of the Imperial (about which there’s much to be researched and written) would have been ideal for Locock, who loved chess while not enjoying the pressures of competition.

Linlithgowshire Gazette 16 July 1915

Locock continued at the Imperial for the rest of the decade, and, in 1920, returned to correspondence chess, playing on top board for Kent against an Italian magazine, and scoring the full point when his opponent went wrong in a bishop ending.

In the 1921 census, Charles Dealtry Locock, claiming to be still married, was visiting a widow named Rose Edith Heath in 4 Ferry Road, Barnes. (I got off the bus about 100 metres from there the other day: perhaps I should have walked in the other direction to say hello.) I don’t know whether he was just visiting a friend, or whether there was anything else to their relationship. Ida and Elsa, working for the Red Cross as a shorthand typist, were living in Redcliffe Square, just south of Earl’s Court. Brynhild was in Scarborough, a trained nurse but working as a servant for a young doctor, perhaps helping to care for his infant son. I’d like to think she bought her groceries from Edward Wallis, whose shop was only a short walk away.

By this time, Locock was very much engaged in translating Swedish poetry and plays, particularly those of Strindberg, into English (for which he was awarded a silver medal in 1928), and resigned from his post at the Imperial Chess Club in 1923. He was still actively involved in the world of chess composition, though, publishing another collection of problems and puzzles in 1926.

You might think that, approaching his seventies, it was time to wind down his chess career, but in fact he had a few more moves to make.

In 1930 he published a booklet entitled 100 Chess Maxims (for Beginners and Moderate Players). Perhaps I’ll review this further another time. For the moment I’ll just say that, while it contains much excellent advice, some of the maxims are decidedly odd.

No. 4, for instance (translated into algebraic by Carsten Hansen) advises you not to play your c1-bishop to f4. Devotees of the London System won’t be happy.

Then there’s:

37. The object of the game is to mate, and as quickly as possible. Captures are only made to deprive the king of his defenses.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I always thought the object of the game was to mate as certainly as possible. If you look back to some of his games in the first article of my Locock trilogy, you’ll see some examples of him playing in exactly this way 40 years or so earlier.

This book might, in part, have been occasioned by Locock’s new career – as a chess teacher in schools, specifically girls’ schools, and specifically the Oratory Central Girls School in Chelsea. He even wrote an article about Chess for Girls for the first issue of the Social Chess Quarterly.

Hastings and St Leonards Observer 18 April 1931

This seems to have been a rival tournament to the British Girls Championship, with which Locock was also involved, which had taken place a few months previously, with the same winner. See BritBase (here) for further information on this event.

Here’s Honor having just won the earlier tournament.

The Sphere 10 January 1931

The school prizegiving that year even included a chess play.

Chelsea News and General Advertiser 20 November 1931

By 1935 one of his very young private pupils was doing rather well.

Falkirk Herald 22 May 1935

She was Elaine, not Eileen, and her family were living on the prestigious St Margaret’s Estate, on the borders of Twickenham and Isleworth.

Elaine Zelie Pritchard, née Saunders (07-01-1926, 07-01-2012)

That July she was successful again in a rather unusual event organised by her chess teacher.

Linlithgowshire Gazette 02 August 1935

Almost half a century later, Elaine wrote (British Chess  Pergamon Press 1983):

My father, assisted by a 2d. (= almost 1p) book of rules from Smiths, taught me the moves at somewhere round the age of five. We were rescued by the problemist CD Locock who noticed me playing in a girls’ tournament two years later. It was he who brought me up on a diet of the Scotch, the Evans and any gambit that was going. We analysed them in some depth – for those days – and my severe task-master made me copy out long columns of dubious lines. He also made me his guinea-pig for his Imagination in Chess and it is small wonder that I still find it hard to resist a sacrifice, and much of my undoing comes from premature sorties such as f4 and Qh5.

In retrospect he must have been a brilliant teacher. Starting in 1936 a succession of girls’ titles came my way including the FIDE under-21, and in 1939 the British Ladies at the age of 13. It is hard to assess how strong or weak one was at the time because there has been such a marked improvement in the standard of play among women over recent years. At all events, those pre-war years were happy ones, especially away from chess which took second place to horses and more physical pastimes.

(See here for more on Elaine.)

Yes, we have another book, Imagination in Chess, published in 1937.

From the author’s introduction:

Based on my own chess teaching experience I have partial sympathy with Locock’s views. I noticed at Richmond Junior Club that children learnt the Two Rooks Checkmate early on, and, if they were winning, would head for that mate, spurning quicker mates in the process. On the other hand, most checkmates don’t require sacrifices, apart from a few stock patterns which need to be remembered, just accurate calculation. While we all like to play brilliant combinations, my view is that, at club level, more games are lost by unsound sacrifices than won by sound sacrifices. Over-emphasising sacrifices to young and inexperienced players can be dangerous.

We have 60 positions, in each of which (with one exception) you can play a problem-like sacrifice to force mate. A halfway house, if you will, between problems and game positions.

A couple of examples:

This is a mate in 3: you’ll want to sacrifice your knight, and then your queen.

Here, you have to mate in 4 moves, being careful to play your sacrifices in the right order: knight, then queen, then the other knight.

If you’d like to see more you’ll be delighted to know that this book has very recently been updated, edited and published by Carsten Hansen, with 100 Chess Maxims added as a bonus. You can buy it here.

Locock also played training games with Elaine, one of which survives.

By the time of the 1939 Register, and with war imminent, the Saunders family had taken the precaution of moving out of London, and were staying in the George & Dragon Hotel in Princes Risborough – and Charles Dealtry Locock (Author, retired) was staying with them. It’s not clear how long they stayed there, and whether or not Locock was only visiting.

When he was writing about synthetic games in 1944, one of his correspondents and collaborators was a young RAF pilot named David Brine Pritchard. I’d like to think they met and perhaps played each other, if only because it would give me a Locock number of 2 (I played David, but not Elaine). I’d also like to think he introduced David to Elaine, as they married in 1952. Their daughter, Wanda, was also a strong chess player.

Charles Dealtry Locock died in Putney on 13 May 1946. Here’s his probate record.

I haven’t been able to identify Nina Agnes Wood for certain: the only likely candidate is a journalist named Agnes Nina Wood (1871-1950). I wouldn’t want to speculate.

His wife lived on until the age of 94, dying in 1962 at the same address and leaving £63975 11s: were they reconciled at the end of their lives?

There, in three parts, you have the long and eventful chess career of Charles Dealtry Locock. In the first part we looked at his competitive chess career in the 1880s and 1890s, winning the British Amateur Championship and representing his country. The second part considered his career of more than sixty years as a creative and innovative problemist. But perhaps it’s for his final act, as a pioneer in promoting chess in schools, and, particularly chess for girls, that he should be most remembered. Elaine (Saunders) Pritchard’s memoir confirms that he was a brilliant teacher.  More than that, he also pioneered the idea of solving composed positions to teach creativity and imagination. Many chess teachers today encourage their students to solve studies and problems for this reason, but Locock got there first. He should always be an inspiration to all of us involved in junior chess.

Come back soon for the story of another chess prodigy.

Sources and Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to Carsten Hansen for sending me a copy of his new edition of Locock’s Imagination in Chess + 100 Chess Maxims.

Many thanks also to Brian Denman for sending me his file of Locock’s games.

Other sources: Newspaper Library
Internet Archive
ChessBase 17/Stockfish 16.1





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Minor Pieces 73: Alexander Spink Beaumont

The Surrey County Chess Association runs a bewildering number of competitions of various types, one reason being that they’ve chosen to commemorate some of their long-serving administrators through trophies in their memory.

The main league itself currently has five divisions. The first division is the Surrey Trophy, which dates all the way back to the 1883-84 season, while the second division, the Beaumont Cup, was instigated twelve years later, in the 1895-96 season.

I’m sure you’d like to know, as I did, more about Mr Beaumont. Well, he wasn’t Mr Beaumont at all, but Captain Alexander Spink Beaumont, Alex to his friends. It’s a long story.

He was born in Manchester on 24 June 1843 into a family with military connections. Beaumont was in fact his paternal grandmother’s surname but his father used his mother’s surname.  Spink was the surname of his Aunt Charlotte’s husband.

He served in the 23rd Foot Regiment of the Royal Welch Fusiliers, reaching the rank of Captain in 1871, when the census found him at Fort Hubberstone in Pembrokeshire. Perhaps it was there that he met Caroline Savage (née Griffies-Williams), a widow more than 20 years older than him, who came from a family of wealthy Welsh landowners, one of whose properties was in Tenby, not all that far from Milford Haven. She was born in 1822 but often claimed to be much younger.

The following year Alex and Caroline married in London, both giving an address in Inverness Terrace, north of Hyde Park, which was by now the Beaumont family residence. He then resigned his commission and, round about 1878, they settled at 2 Crescent Road, South Norwood, in South London. This is now Warminster Road, running by the railway line north of Norwood Junction Station. There are a few grand houses at what is now the high numbered end of the road, and I’d guess one of those was their residence.

As a gentleman of independent means, he had plenty of time to pursue his two passions in life: chess and music. He was a composer as well as a player in both fields, but was also a gifted organiser and promoter.  Beaumont wasted little time joining Croydon Chess Club, the first ‘modern’ chess club in Surrey. In 1880 he had a problem published in the local paper. You’ll find the solutions to all the problems at the end of this article.

Problem 1: #3 Croydon Guardian 28 August 1880

The 1881 census found Alex and Caroline living in South Norwood along with his unmarried brother Richard, a Major in the Royal Engineers, four domestic servants, one male and three female, and a nurse.

Later the same year he had some important news.

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette 19 November 1881

Beaumont was nothing if not ambitious for the new club.

Norwood News 17 December 1881

Zukertort and Blackburne were, according to EdoChess, the second and third strongest players in the world behind the inactive Steinitz at the time. Attracting them to visit a new club in a London suburb was quite a coup. Regular simultaneous displays, both blindfold and sighted, by professional players would become a regular feature of the South Norwood Chess Club.

it wasn’t long before Blackburne visited, and Zukertort was there as well, acting as teller.

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette 11 February 1882

You’ll also note the name of Leonard Percy Rees, the most influential English chess organiser of his day, involved with the establishment of everything we now know and love, from the Surrey County Chess Association through to FIDE. I really ought to write about him at some point.

During this period he was very active on the composing front. One of his problems even took first prize in a local competition.

Problem 2: #2 1st Prize Croydon Guardian 1882

He was now being published nationally as well as locally.

Problem 3: #3 The Chess Monthly June 1882

This three-mover shouldn’t be too challenging for you.

Problem 4: #3 The Field 19 August 1882

Meanwhile, South Norwood were playing friendly matches against their local rivals from Croydon. There was also talk of an international tournament in London the following year, and Beaumont was the first to make a financial contribution.

By the autumn of 1883 chess in Surrey was moving rapidly towards the thriving county association we see today, thanks to the likes of Joseph Steele, Leonard Rees and Alexander Beaumont, who was elected a vice-president.

Morning Post 17 September 1883

By now the President of the Surrey County Chess Association, the ‘genial and hospitable’ Captain Beaumont’s chess get-togethers were becoming grander by the year, in 1885 attracting about ‘150 gentlemen’.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 12 December 1885

At the same time, along with involvement in the British Chess Club, he was also organising musical events. Here, his two interests were reported in adjacent articles.

Norwood News 09 October 1886

The name of Walter Willson Cobbett, one of his regular musical collaborators, may not be familiar to you, but it certainly is to me.

Although he was not composing so many problems, he was becoming more involved in composing music, and, from 1890 onwards his compositions were being published by Charles Woolhouse in Regent Street.

The Graphic 22 March 1890

Look who else Woolhouse was publishing: our old friend (and my cousin’s father-in-law) W Noel Johnson, whom you might have met here. One online source suggests that Woolhouse was a pseudonym for Beaumont, but that doesn’t appear to be the case: there really was a music publisher of that name.

Percy Victor Sharman, the dedicatee of this work, was a young violinist living in Norwood.

The family doesn’t appear in the 1891 census: it looks like their side of the road might have been missed by mistake.

That year there was good news for South Norwood when they won the Surrey Trophy for the first time. They would go on to win it again in the following three seasons.

Norwood News 12 December 1891

Some of the guests are notable. Captain Lindesay Beaumont was Alex’s younger brother (his older brother Richard had died in 1884). Rudolf Loman was a Dutch chess master and organist. Edward Markwick was a lawyer whom you’ll meet again later in this article.

In December 1893 Beaumont’s portrait appeared in The Chess Monthly.

In January 1894 (or perhaps late December) South Norwood Chess Club ran another of their popular simuls, this time with Richard Teichmann as the guest. He played 18 games, losing one game and drawing two, one of them against Captain Beaumont. This was described in the local press as “a good example of (Beaumont)’s bold and energetic play. (As always, click on any move for a pop-up window.)

His counter-gambit worked well and he missed a simple opportunity to win a piece in the opening.

In 1895 he presented a trophy – yes, the Beaumont Cup – to be competed for by some of the smaller Surrey clubs further out from Central London. My great predecessors at Richmond won it in its second year. Beaumont’s old club, South Norwood, were among the five clubs taking part in the 2023-24 edition.

Captain and Mrs Beaumont were by no means always at home. They spent a lot of time on the continent, partly for health reasons, partly because they enjoyed travelling and partly because they owned property abroad, including an Italian villa.

At various times they visited, as well as Italy, France, Hungary and perhaps Malta. In 1896 the Captain turned up in Nuremberg to watch the international chess tournament there (his friends Blackburne and Teichmann were taking part, but no match for Lasker), and found himself taking part in a concert.

Westminster Gazette 10 August 1896

Adolph Brodsky was one of the leading violinists of his day, giving the first performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. There’s something about his chess career here, but my article about him is no longer available. I don’t think he’d have consented for any pianist who wasn’t extremely proficient to accompany him.

On 30 October 1897 he was back in Surrey, losing to his old friend Leonard Rees in a match between South Norwood and Redhill.

This time he chose a different variation of the Scandinavian Defence, but without success.

In January 1898 Beaumont was abroad again, this time in Florence. He was proud of the conclusion of this game, where his third move forced mate in 4.

He couldn’t have imagined that, a century and a quarter later, we’d have machines in our pockets telling us immediately that 1. Rf7 would have been mate in 5.

In March 1898 the Streatham News started a chess column, and Captain Beaumont provided the first problem.

Problem 5: #2 Streatham News 26 March 1898

A few weeks later he submitted a problem composed by his late brother Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Henry Beaumont Beaumont (yes, there were two Beaumonts). I haven’t been able to find any other problems composed by Richard, or any more information about his chess career. However, I have managed to find his sword, which was auctioned in 2012, here.

Problem 6: #3 Streatham News 7 May 1898

By that autumn there was talk of running another major international tournament in London the following year. Beaumont, of course, was quickly in with a donation and was appointed to the organising committee led by his friend Sir George Newnes. This was the tournament where Francis Lee might have played on the board later acquired by Leonard Grasty.

On 26 November there was a visit from the Ladies’ Chess Club. The ever genial Captain was on hand to host the event.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 03 December 1898

I’d imaging the top two boards were honorary encounters. Lady Thomas was the mother of Sir George. Prussian born coffee merchant Frank Gustavus Naumann, drawing with his wife in interests of marital harmony, would later become the first President of the British Chess Federation, and later still lose his life on the Lusitania.

Here’s the top board encounter: the protagonists had been friends for many years. Black stood little chance after losing material in the opening.

There was more on the music elsewhere.

Streatham News 03 December 1898

Coincidentally, as I write this I’ve just returned from a piano recital at which the Verdi-Liszt Rigoletto paraphrase was also played.

William Yeates Hurlstone is of considerable interest. A composer of exceptional talent, Beaumont supported him financially after the early death of his father, but he sadly died at the age of only 30. Much of his music has been recorded: there’s a YouTube playlist here.

Violinist William J Read would, in 1912, give the first performance of the violin concerto of another tragically short-lived South London composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.

On 5th January 1901 Captain Beaumont organised an even bigger chess event at Crystal Palace. This merited a major feature in the following month’s British Chess Magazine (online here).

The 1901 census found him at home with his wife and four servants: a valet, a parlourmaid, a cook and a housemaid. But now his health was starting to fail and his wife was approaching her 80s. He was often unable to attend chess events, either because he was unwell or because he was travelling somewhere with a more agreeable climate. This seems, as we also saw with Francis Joseph Lee, to have been standard medical advice in those days.

A couple of years later a clergyman, Albert William Gibbs, who had been born in 1870, gave up his curacy to move in with them as a companion and carer.

Captain Beaumont had one last gift for British Chess. In 1904 the British Chess Federation was formed, with Frank Naumann as the first President and Leonard Rees as the first Secretary. Naumann presented the trophy for the British Championship itself, while Beaumont donated that for the British Ladies Championship. “A very elegant silver rose bowl on Elizabethan scroll-work, enriched with chess emblems”, made by Messrs Fattorini and Sons of Bradford, the first winner was Miss Kate Belinda Finn, with a commanding score of 10½/11.

Caroline Beaumont died in 1907, and in 1908 the Captain was advised by his doctor to move, as the London clay on which his house was built wasn’t good for his health. He soon found a new residence built on gravel three miles to the east, in Beckenham.

This rather splendid photograph shows his chauffeur Walter Goldsack at the steering wheel with Albert Gibbs in the passenger seat. The identity of the other passenger is unknown. It was posted on a family tree by Mark Beaumont, great great grandson of Alexander’s brother Lindesay. I’m advised by Dr Upham, an expert on the subject, that the car is undoubtedly American, so I guess it would have been quite expensive.

In the 1911 census, Alexander and Albert (described as a ‘visitor’) were living there, along with a cook-housekeeper, a parlourmaid and a housemaid. We’re additionally informed that the house had 14 rooms, including the kitchen but excluding the bathroom.

The following winter he travelled south in search of better weather.

Norwood News 02 March 1912

But that was to be his last journey. He died on 4 September 1913, at the age of 70.

The obituaries were effusive.

Beckenham Journal 06 September 1913

“A man of splendid disposition, a generous friend, and a great lover of animals and children.”

Norwood News 06 September 1913

One of the obituaries published this game as a sample of his play, without, unfortunately, giving any indication of when, where or against whom it was played.

Here’s his probate record.

This is round about £8.3 million today. Probate was granted to his nephew (and closest relation), his companion, to whom he bequeathed £400 plus an annuity of the same amount, and his solicitor.

Captain Alexander Spink Beaumont appears to have been, in every respect, an admirable fellow, much loved and respected by everyone who knew him, either through chess or through music.

It seems only right that his name should still be remembered by Surrey chess players today, more than a century after his death.

And yet, there was another side to him as well.

Let me take you back 40 years, to 11 September 1873. Alexander Spink Beaumont, recently retired from the army and recently married, is living in Norton House, one of his wife’s family properties, in the seaside resort of Tenby, Pembrokeshire. He invites a 14 year old local lad named George Lyons, the son of a boatman working in the coastguard service, to his house, and, if you believe George’s account, invites him upstairs. He asks the boy if he can keep a secret, attempts to perform an act so disgusting that it cannot be mentioned in the press, gives him three shillings and sixpence, and then takes him down to the garden. George, quite correctly and courageously, goes home and tells his mother. His parents summon the authorities and, the following evening, his father returns the money to Captain Beaumont in the presence of a witness. On 3 October the allegation goes before the magistrates. Beaumont’s domestic staff are called as witnesses and deny that anything untoward could possibly have happened. Nevertheless, the magistrates decide there is a case to answer (‘making an assault upon George Lyons, with intent to commit an abominable crime’) and send the captain to trial.

The following February Beaumont appeared before the Pembrokeshire Spring Assizes. The judge considered the evidence improbable and contradictory and instructed the jury to dismiss the case, which they duly did.

Well, I wasn’t there so I don’t know for certain, but young George’s account seems fairly convincing to me. I guess the judge felt that a gentleman couldn’t possibly have committed such an act. Then, as now, if you’re rich or famous you can get away with almost anything. Perhaps it served as a warning to him as there’s no evidence that he ever did anything of that nature again.

Let’s now move forward a few years, to 1881, the year in which an ambitious young publisher named George Newnes started a general interest weekly magazine called Tit-Bits. The magazine proved highly successful,  Newnes, a chess enthusiast, made a lot of money and went on to sponsor, amongst much else, the Anglo-American Cable Matches.

A few years later, a young journalist named Alfred Harmsworth submitted some articles to Newnes for publication, soon deciding that he could make more money by starting his own magazine. In 1888 he started a weekly called Answers, providing answers to a wide range of questions submitted by readers or just made up. A friend of his father, Edward Markwick (yes, you’ve met him earlier in this article), joined the venture, and he persuaded his friend – yes, Alexander Spink Beaumont, to provide financial support. Adrian Addison’s gossipy history of the Daily Mail, Mail Men, suggests that some thought Beaumont may have had ‘an unrequited homosexual motive in getting behind the pretty young journalist’.

At first, the Beaumonts and Harmsworth were the best of friends, but in 1891 a bitter argument between them ensued and eventually they sold their shares in his company. There’s much in Reginald Pound’s biography Northcliffe, which can be read online (although the OCR is poor) here. Caroline, who seems to have been the dominant partner, is described as ‘charmingly uncommon’. Meanwhile, in 1896 Alfred Harmsworth and his brother Harold launched the Daily Mail, becoming, as a result, rich and famous.

Years later, in 1905, the year of the establishment of Associated Newspapers, the case flared up again.

Cheltenham Chronicle 14 October 1905

It looks as if the Beaumonts, jealous of the success of the Daily Mail, were trying to get half a million pounds (about 76 million today) back from the shares they sold 14 years earlier. Harmsworth put in a counter suit accusing the papers who published this report of libel, and the whole affair was quietly dropped. Very strange.

What, then, should we make of Captain Alexander Spink Beaumont? it seems to me highly likely that he was gay at a time when same-sex relationships were illegal. Should we feel sorry for him, or, looking at the allegations of George Lyons, revile him? Or perhaps we should just remember his services to the game of chess, as a player and problemist, but most of all as an administrator, promotor and populariser of his – and our – favourite game.

One final thing, there’s a thread on a military badges forum here from a collector who has miniature portrait lockets, acquired separately, of Alexander and his older brother Richard. A rather wonderful thing to have.

He’s not the only Alexander to have given his name to a Surrey chess trophy, but that’s something for another time. I have other stories to tell first. Join me again soon for another Minor Piece.

Sources and Acknowedgements: Newspaper Library
Yet Another Chess Problem Database
MESON problem database (Brian Stephenson)
Internet Archive (
Movers and Takers, and various blog posts by Martin Smith
EdoChess (Rod Edwards)
Surrey County Chess Association website
Other online sources linked to in the text


Problem solutions (click on any move to play them through):

Problem 1:

Problem 2:

Problem 3:

Problem 4:

Problem 5:

Problem 6:

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Minor Pieces 71: Edward Wallis

Last time we visited the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough in the company of Francis Joseph Lee, just a few weeks before his untimely death.

Congresses like the British Championships only take place if there’s someone there to organise them, and, as it happened the prime mover of this one was someone who was mentioned in a different context just a few Minor Pieces ago.

Northern Whig 14 January 1909
The Sheffield Daily Telegraph 08 July 1909
Falkirk Herald 11 August 1909

Lowestoft Journal 04 September 1909

Didn’t Edward Wallis do well? He had a long involvement with the game of chess, and this, along with the publication of his book of miniature problems, was one of his life’s highlights. You might recall that one of George Law Francis Beetholme‘s problems was included therein.

Here he is, pictured in the September 1909 British Chess Magazine.

Edward Wallis had an interesting story to tell, one that involves, as well as chess, chocolate and conscientious objection.

Let’s go back to the middle of the 17th century, when, in the aftermath of the English Civil War, a new religious group founded by George Fox, known as the Society of Friends, or the Quakers, became popular. Jumping forward a century or so, a Quaker named Joseph Fry started a business producing drinking chocolate in Bristol. In 1831 another Quaker, John Cadbury, started producing drinking chocolate in Birmingham. In 1862, Henry Isaac Rowntree, also a member of the Society of Friends, bought out the chocolate making part of the Tuke family’s York business. These three companies, Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree, would become the three major producers of confectionery in Britain through the remainder of the 19th and much of the 20th century.

The Rowntrees had been a prominent Quaker family in Scarborough for a very long time. and, by the early 19th century, John Rowntree was running a grocery business there. His son Joseph moved to York to start a grocers shop in 1822, and it was his son Henry Isaac who started the confectionery business. Joseph’s brother William remained in Scarborough, and it was his grandson, Alderman John Watson Rowntree, who was the chairman of the committee running the 1909 British Championships in his home town.

The Wallis family were also prominent Quakers, from the village of Springfield in Essex, now a suburb of Chelmsford. After his marriage in 1849, Francis Wallis moved from Essex to Scarborough, no doubt in part because of the strong Quaker presence there, setting up as a corn dealer and miller. One of Francis’s daughters,  Priscilla Gray Wallis, married George Rowntree, a brother of the aforementioned John Watson. One of Francis’s sons, born in 1852, was Edward Wallis, author of 777 Chess Miniatures in Three (you can read it online here) and the local organiser of the 1909 British Chess Championships.

In 1877 Edward married Dublin born Annie Johnson in London, returning to Scarborough, and, at some point in the 1880s, moving to a house they named Springfield after his home village. Their children were Eleanor (1878), Edward Arnold (1880), Arthur (1881), Dorothea (1883) and Annie Mabel (1885). He ran a grocery and bakery business there for the rest of his life.

On 24 January 1880 Edward had a chess problem published in the Leeds Mercury Weekly Supplement. At 27 years of age he was a relatively late starter in chess.

Problem 1: Mate in 3: you’ll find the solution at the end of this article.

In the same year he was also seen playing correspondence chess. In this game from a Leeds Mercury tournament he had the better of the opening but rather lost the plot thereafter.


In this game, probably played in the same event, he defeated schoolteacher GW Farrow, born in Scarborough, but by that time living in Hull

In 1881 he entered a correspondence tournament run by the Preston Guardian. This win against GW Farrow was almost certainly (although this isn’t specificed in the source) played in the 1881 edition of the Leeds Mercury competition.

In 1882 he won an exciting, but not entirely sound, game against Scarborough Chess Club secretary and chemist Henry Chapman.

In January 1883 he played on Board 53 in a match between Lancashire and Yorkshire, losing his game against Dr Dean of Burnley. The Manchester Courier (27 January), with an element of hyperbole, claimed that this was “the greatest chess match which has ever taken place in the history of the royal game, which extends over a period of more than 3,000 years”.

Here’s a game he lost in another correspondence tournament run by the Leeds Mercury. After White’s alert response to his erroneous 22nd move he could only choose which bishop to lose. (Click on any move of any game in this article for a pop-up window.)

He also lost this game, played in a correspondence game between two players representing clubs at almost opposite ends of the country, misplaying a tricky ending. It’s not clear whether or not this was a formal match between the two clubs.

In 1891 Scarborough were treated to a visit by our good friend Francis Joseph Lee.

York Herald 17 April 1891

An excellent result for Edward: it would have been good if they’d published the game. Mr F Wallis was probably Edward’s father Francis, but we’ll come to another possibility later.

Later in the same year he was one of the protagonists in a living chess game raising money for a good cause.

Yorkshire Herald 12 December 1891

During this period, Edward Wallis was playing on top board for Scarborough, but, to be honest, there wasn’t that much opposition. Most of the county’s stronger players resided in the larger towns and cities.

In January 1893 he was selected to represent the North of England against the South in a 100 board megamatch in Birmingham, but ended up not in the match itself but on the bottom reserve board where he won his game against Wiltshire’s CJ Woodrow.

In April Scarborough welcomed another professional visitor: Samuel Tinsley. This time Wallis was less successful.

Yorkshire Herald 08 April 1893

“… in a game known as the Queen’s Fianchetto?” I think the journalist was rather confused.

Here’s a report on a 1894 match against Bridlington, the days when matches were interrupted half way through for an excellent tea and appropriate speeches.

Yorkshire Herald 10 March 1894

You’ll see that (presumably) Edward’s father won both his games on bottom board. The Mr Yewdall on Board 7 was the teenage Francis Edward Yewdall, who, almost 40 years later, would become the Secretary of Richmond & Kew Chess Club (where he was the assistant borough surveyor), and therefore, if you want to stretch a point, one of my Great Predecessors. Charles Empson Simpson, on Board 2, was Edward’s next door neighbour. You might notice some name connections: Wallis and Simpson living in adjacent  houses, and Wallis (but not Simpson) living in Springfield. Bridlington, very unusually for the time, fielded a lady on second board: Eliza Mary Thorold, sister of their top board Edmund, who had been for many years one of the country’s top amateurs but was now approaching the end of his career.

Here’s one of the top board games, in which both sides missed chances.

A few weeks later there was another North v South megamatch, over 108 boards. Edward Wallis was on Board 102, losing to Horace Fabian Cheshire, who would soon find fame as the editor of the Hastings 1895 tournament book.

By 1897 he’d ceded top board to Charles Empson Simpson, and in 1899 he played on Board 9 for the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire in a match against the West Riding, losing his game against Isaac McIntyre Brown, the editor of the British Chess Magazine. Simpson lost on fourth board to John Musgrove.

One thing that you may know about the Quakers is that they are noted for their liberal views, many of their members being committed pacifists, and that was certainly true of the extended Rowntree family in Scarborough.

Appalled by the atrocities of the Second Boer War, a South African Conciliation Committee was set up in Scarborough under the presidency of Joshua Rowntree, a cousin of Henry Isaac and a former Liberal MP for the town. In March 1900 a meeting was arranged. One of the speakers was Samuel Cronwright, British born but living in South Africa and married to author and anti-war campaigner Olive Schreiner, still remembered today for her 1883 novel The Story of an African Farm. The other speaker, John A Hobson, was a prominent anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist.

There were some in Scarborough who considered their views heretical and unpatriotic. Word got round about the meeting, and a crowd, brandishing Union Jacks, formed outside, smashing the windows and throwing stones. Not content with that, some of them proceeded to vandalise the shops and houses of other members of the Rowntree family.

Perhaps you were, like me, unaware of this story, which, of course, has many resonances today. If you’d like to read more there’s a paper on the riots here.

If you’re interested in the history of the Rowntree family I’d recommend visiting the Rowntree Society website. This page is a good place to start.

While all this was going on, it appears that Edward Wallis was engaged in a long-range postal game.

Morning Leader 11 February 1902

I’m pretty sure, although it’s not mentioned in the press, that FJ Wallis was Edward’s brother Francis John Wallis, and that he had emigrated to Australia in 1891, becoming prominent in Sydney chess circles. In that case the F Wallis mentioned twice above would definitely be Edward’s father Francis senior.

A few years later, this game was published in the British Chess Magazine with, typically for the time, rather inaccurate annotations by Bellingham. The loser, at lease in my secondary source, is incorrectly identified as AG Wallis.

By now Scarborough Chess Club seems to have become inactive, putting Edward Wallis’s chess career on hold. His name started to reappear towards the end of 1907, when he made two contributions to a testimonial for FR Gittins, the author of The Chess Bouquet, which was being organised by the always witty Philip Hamilton Williams. He also announced that he was collecting miniature (no more than 7 pieces on the board) mates in 3. In 1908 he published a self-mate in 16 based on an earlier problem by Frederick Baird, but it turned out to be unsound as there were quicker solutions.

By October 1908 his book was (self-)published, receiving positive reviews.

Cricket and Football Field 24 October 1908
The Falkirk Herald and Midland Counties Journal 28 October 1908

Then, in 1909, came the second highlight of his life: the British Chess Championships in his home town, which you read about earlier. Although he was referred to as being from Scarborough Chess Club, I haven’t found any other mentions of the club between the late 1890s and the 1920s.

In 1910 he had a problem published in The Chess Amateur. It’s a mate in 3, but not a miniature.

Problem 2: #3 (E Wallis The Chess Amateur 1910)

Now, it seems, having perhaps fulfilled his two ambitions, he cut down his chess activities, confining himself to solving problems in newspaper columns.

When the First World War broke out his family commitment to pacifism was tested again. The older of his sons, Edward Arnold (below), registered as a conscientious objector, serving in the Friends Ambulance Corps between 1915 and 1918.

His younger son, Arthur, on the other hand, joined the RAF in 1918, but as a lecturer rather than in a combat role.

In 1917 George Rowntree and Edward Wallis unexpectedly fell foul of the law for selling semolina above the maximum fixed price.

Hull Daily Mail 01 December 1917

In 1921, the census tells us that Edward was still running the family business at the age of 69, living with his wife and youngest daughter, who was working as a hospital nurse.

He died a year later, this newspaper obituary erroneously adding two years to his age.

Yorkshire Post 27 June 1922

Edward Wallis wasn’t, by the highest standards, a very strong player, nor was he a great problemist. But, as well as taking part in competitions, both over the board and by post, and occasionally composing problems, he was a true chess enthusiast, an author, an organiser and a collector, with one of the finest chess libraries in England (I wonder what happened to it). He was also a man who, along with his extended family and friends, lived his life through the principles expounded by the liberal Quakers: pacifism, integrity and service to the community. A life, I think, that deserves to be remembered, and a story that deserves to be told.

Next time, I’ll continue the story by introducing you to his friend who kindly contributed the Hints to Solvers to his book: Alfred Neave Brayshaw. Be sure not to miss it.


Sources and Acknowledgements Newspaper Library
Digital Chess Problems (Anders Thulin) website (Wallis book here)
MESON Chess Problem Database (Brian Stephenson)
BritBase (John Saunders: thanks for the photo)
Yorkshire Chess History (Steve Mann): Edward Wallis here
Gerard Killoran for the Bays, Farrow and Chapman games.
David McAlister for reconstructing the Bays game (on the English Chess Forum)
Rowntree Society website
Guise Family website (George Rowntree here)
The Men Who Said No (Peace Pledge Union website: Edward Arnold Wallis here)

Solutions to problems:

Problem 1:

1. Qf6! is the key, threatening Nc7+, Qd6+ and Qxd4+. There are short mates in reply to either queen capture. You can see the full solution here.

Problem 2:

1. Qh2! (threat: Qe2#) 1… Kc4 (1… Ke4 2. Qe2+ Kf4 3. Be5#) (1… Bxc3 2. Qe2+ Kxd4 3. Ne6#) 2. Qa2+ Kb5 (2… Nb3 3. Qa6#) (2… Kd3 3. Qe2#) 3. Nc7#


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Minor Pieces 43: Percival Guy Laugharne Fothergill

I received some exciting news last week. The Richmond Herald up to 1950, with extensive local chess coverage, is now available online. This means that I’ll be able to trace the history of chess in Richmond, Barnes, Kew and Sheen up to that date, which is not all that long before I came in.

But first, and with some help from the above source, a man who was strangely coy about his rather splendid full name.

Any chess problem aficionados at any point from the late 1880s to the late 1940s, which, you might think was the golden age of chess problems, would have been familiar with the initials PGLF above compositions, with a location of, perhaps, Twickenham, Staines or Isleworth.

The name G Fothergill was often seen in connection with Richmond Chess Club, and with other clubs in the area. If you’ve been paying attention recently, you might remember him losing in a simul given by TF Lawrence.

Surrey Comet 22 October 1904

In fact he was plain Guy Fothergill on electoral rolls for many years.

A good place to start is with his father, Percival Alfred Fothergill. Percy senior was an interesting and versatile chap. Naval officer, instructor, surveyor, engineer, inventor, astronomer, author, clergyman. You name it, he did it.

Here’s his obituary, from the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society 049:4 (1889).

You might, understandably, be concerned about the self-feathering screw. Don’t worry: it was a propeller for sailing vessels. If you’re really interested in that sort of thing there’s a blog post here.

Percival and his wife Julia’s children, all equally impressively named, were Henryetta Mary Bertha (1865), Ernestine Gertrude Frances (1867), Percival Guy Laugharne (12 July 1868), Cornelia Julia Evelyn (1869), Frederick Henry Gaston (1871) and Arthur Yorke Marsh (1872), who died at the age of only six months. Frederick’s baptism record reorders his names: Gaston Frederick Henry.

The only births which were registered appear to be Henryetta and Frederick: at the time the family were moving round the country a lot and perhaps never got round to it.

At the time of the 1871 census Percival Alfred was the Vicar of Watford, Northamptonshire, north east of Daventry. You’ll know it from the Watford Gap service station on the M1. Their five young children, baby Fred yet to be named, were there along with a nurse and two domestic servants.

Ten years later, and the family seem to have split up. Percival was now the Rector of South Fambridge, Essex, on the River Crouch north of Southend, living in ‘part of the rectory’ along with Henryetta and Percival Junior. Julia and the other three surviving children were 20 miles away in Orsett, near Grays, on the Thames Estuary. One wonders what had happened.

There’s no immediate evidence of any other serious interest in chess in the family, but it was from his father that young Percival (perhaps we should call him by his preferred name, Guy, or by his initials) first discovered the Royal Game. By 1886 the teenage Fothergill was already having his problems published.

Here’s a (rather crude) early example of a mate in 2. You’ll find the solutions to all the problems at the end of the article.

Problem 1

#2 (The Field 11 Sep 1886)

His problems were soon becoming more sophisticated and even winning prizes, like this mate in 3.

Problem 2

#3 (2nd Prize Sheffield Independent 1888)

Problem composing wasn’t the only competition he took part in. Here, he and his brother took part in a bicycle race, with Fred winning a coffee pot for finishing second.

Essex Newsman 08 September 1888

Sadly, his father died the same year in Little Burstead, south of Billaricy, the village where he was born. By the time of the 1891 census he’d left home, was boarding in (not yet Royal) Wootton Bassett and working as a Brewer’s Pupil. Julia had retired to Milford, on the Hampshire coast, where she was living with Henryetta, Cordelia and Gaston, as Frederick now preferred to me known. Ernestine was in Acton, working as a Governess.

PGLF won 1st prize with this 1894 mate in 2.

Problem 3

#2 (1st Prize Hackney Mercury 1894)

Round about 1895 the family moved to St Margarets Road, on the border of Twickenham and Isleworth. I’m not sure exactly where, but the 1901 census implies it was somewhere close to the Ailsa Tavern.

As expected, PGLF featured in FR Gittins’ The Chess Bouquet in 1897.

His list of successes is not large, nor are they phenomenal, but his work has merited and received a fair reward…

We also learn that

MR FOTHERGILL is a great lover of all manly games – cricket, football, lawn tennis, etc., a sound mind in a sound body being one of his favourite maxims.

And here he is, with a splendid moustache to match his splendid name.

It’s at this time that Guy decided to expand his interest in chess, and, while still composing (as PGLF), his name (G Fothergill) started to appear in chess matches.

Here’s a 1899 match between Richmond and Thames Valley, with Mr G Fothergill playing on bottom board for the home team.

It’s clear there’s a problem with this. Fox, Britten, Ryan and Coward must have been on 3-6, not 4-7, with Lanchester and another player on 7 and 8. Regular Minor Piece readers will recognise several old friends in this match, and there are one or two others you’ll meet in later articles.

The 1901 census found Julia, Henryetta, Cordelia and Gaston, who was now known as Henry, in residence in St Margarets, none of them appearing to have jobs. Ernestine, however, was occupied as a Lady’s Companion in Hersham.  I haven’t managed to locate Guy in 1901: perhaps he was abroad on holiday. At any rate, he was still telling everyone he lived in Twickenham.

From the same year, here’s another prize-winning problem.

Problem 4

#2 (3rd Prize Brighton Society 1901)

This miniature 3-mover demonstrates a popular theme. Even if you’ve never solved a mate in 3 before, give it a try!

Problem 5

#3 (Schachminiaturen 1903)

At about this time Guy Fothergill suffered two bereavements: his mother Julia died in 1905, and his sister Cornelia followed her a year later. Probate records tell us they were both living at Shortwood House, Staines: Shortwood Common is right by the Crooked Billet roundabout heading towards Ashford. Julia’s probate was granted to Henryetta and Guy, and Cornelia’s probate just to Guy. Although she was living in Staines, she died at 89 St Margarets Road, Twickenham. The numbering may be different now, and it’s a long road, but 89, currently a private healthcare clinic, is currently just round the corner from Turner’s House and a short walk from the ETNA Community Centre, where Richmond Junior Club met for many years.  So it may well be that the family owned two properties at the time. It’s not at all clear to me at the moment whether or not this is the same address they were at in 1901.

As the Edwardian era wore on, there were subtle changes in the balance of power between the Richmond and Thames Valley Clubs. At the start of the decade Thames Valley had been stronger than their younger neighbours, but a few years later Richmond were displaying more ambition (and, it appears, better organisation than a few years earlier), entering the Early Division of the London League and attracting stronger players. (I presume the Early Division played matches earlier in the evening than, well, perhaps the Late Division?)

Richmond Herald 03 March 1906

You’ll also notice that by now Guy had been promoted from bottom board, and AGM reports for the period show that he was also doing well in internal competitions,

Now approaching his 40th birthday, life for PGLF proceeded uneventfully as he continued to play chess and compose problems.

The 1911 census, though, finds the Fothergill siblings split up, living neither in Staines nor in Twickenham. Guy, ‘of private means’, was boarding at a Temperance Hotel in Maidenhead (what happened to his brewing career, then), while Henryetta and Ernestine were both staying with a restaurant owner in Reading, who may well also have had rooms for boarders. There’s no sign of their younger brother.

By 1914, PGFL’s problems are now being submitted from Staines. Was he living in Shortwood House? Possibly: at present that information isn’t available. He also had the opportunity to join a new chess club.

Middlesex Chronicle 14 February 1914

You’ll notice that there were two ladies in the team facing Kingston: Mrs Cousins and Miss Hume. We’ll return to them in a future Minor Piece.

He maintained his membership of Richmond Chess Club as well, taking part in internal competitions and serving on the committee.

In 1918 PGLF was enrolled as a founding member of the British Chess Problem Society.

The country was now returning to normal after the First World War, and the 1919 electoral roll tells us that Henryetta was still at Shortwood House, London Road, Staines. By 1921 she’d been joined by ‘Fred’ (neither Gaston nor Henry) and Percival (not Guy).

Neither brother was anywhere to be found in the 1921 census (at least I haven’t been able to find them yet). Their two sisters, both still unmarried in their mid 50s, were lodging in Goldhawk Road, Hammersmith, near the junction with King Street – even though the electoral roll had Henryetta in Staines. The census enumerator found the house unoccupied.

A short walk from Goldhawk Road along King Street towards Hammersmith Broadway would have taken them past Latymer Upper School, and then round the corner to what is now the London Mind Sports Centre.

If they’d only stayed in Staines another year or two they could have strolled past the Crooked Billet towards the town centre and dined at 8 London Road, the Warwick Castle, where the Misses Ada and Louisa Padbury were combining running a restaurant with bringing up their irresponsible sister Florence’s illegitimate daughter Betty. But that’s another story for another time, which also involves Edward Guthlac Sergeant and Fothergill’s Richmond teammate Cecil Frank Cornwall.

At some point, perhaps just after, WW1, the Ashford and District Chess Club was founded. Guy, along with Mrs Cousins, joined up, he soon found himself playing successfully on top board against Richmond. It may well have been on his initiative that matches between the two clubs came about. Today there’s a Staines Chess Club, but not an Ashford Chess Club.

Richmond Herald 12 November 1921

In 1922 Henryetta must have sold Shortwood House and brought a property in Isleworth, 43 Thornbury Road.

I’m not sure that the house still exists. 41 is a large corner property, but the adjacent plot seems empty according to Google Maps.

She’s the only occupant on the electoral roll for several years, but by 1929, Guy (not Percival this time) is also there, although Henryetta is declared to be the owner. I presume he’d been living there all along, though, as he was giving Isleworth as his residence when submitting problems for publication.

He still visited his old haunts in Staines, but in 1936 was seriously injured in a cycling accident. Fortunately, he made a full recovery.

The Problemist November 1936

By the late 1930s, if not earlier, he’d found a very local chess club to join, just round the corner from his residence.

Middlesex Chronicle 08 April 1939

He was now in his seventies, but still made a clean sweep of all the trophies. The opposition may not have been the most demanding, but you can do no more than beat what they put in front of you.

Here they all are in the 1939 Register, all living in Thornbury Avenue (perhaps they’d all been there all along), all single, and aged between 65 and 71. Percival is a Brewery Traveller (retired), but I’m not sure he did much Brewery Travelling, while Frederick is an Architect (retired), but again I’m not sure he designed very many buildings. I can’t find any record of him in that sphere.

PGLF was still composing, though not quite as prolifically as before. This 3-mover from the latter part of his career demonstrates the theme of symmetry.

Problem 6

#3 (The Problemist March 1944)

This, then, was a fairly wealthy family, with enough money not to need much in the way of employment, and seemingly with no interest in matrimony. This gave them time to pursue their hobbies, and, in PGLF’s case, that hobby was chess. It’s spookily like James Money Kyrle Lupton‘s family, isn’t it?

Ernestine was the first to go, dying in 1945 and leaving £6711 (round about £200000 to £250000 today), probate being granted to Frederick.

Percival/Guy/PGLF died on 29 June 1948, leaving £4486 10s 4d, again probate being granted to Frederick. He was composing to the end: almost two years after his death, his problems were still being published.

Here’s his obituary from The Problemist, rather belatedly in January 1949. Unfortunately the accompanying photograph didn’t reproduce well.

Unfortunately, also, the recent commendation turned out to be cooked, so I won’t demonstrate it here.

Henryetta, address given as 32 Stamford Brook Road, just round the corner from where she was in 1921, died in 1954, leaving £5528 8s 10d, yet again probate granted to Frederick.

Frederick, or Gaston, or Henry, or whatever, lived on until 31 December 1962, living at 45 Woodlands Grove Isleworth, not far from Thornbury Road, and leaving £15307 17s.

Four of the siblings (not, for some reason, Ernestine) share a gravestone in the family’s home village of Little Burstead, Essex. Percival’s inscription reads:

Also in loving memory of P.G.L. FOTHERGILL [eldest son of the late P.A.F. and J.C.F.], composer of many chess problems who made his last move on June 29 1948 on the eve of his 80th year.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee because he trusted in Thee.” Isaiah XXVI. 3

Yes, indeed, a composer of many chess problems. Mostly direct mates, latterly mostly mates in 3, but with a few selfmates (where White compels an unwilling Black to deliver checkmate). Mostly lightweights rather than heavy award-winners, but none the worse for that. He was, similarly, a good chess player – higher club standard – but not a great one. I have yet to find the scores of any of his games. Percival Guy Laugharne Fothergill was a man who, through his problems, must have brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people. Perhaps you’ll derive some pleasure from attempting to solve the problems in this article. A minor contributor to a minor art form, I suppose, but still a life well lived and well worth remembering.

If you’d like to see more of his (or anyone else’s) problems I recommend:

Acknowledgements and sources:
Google Maps
The Problemist
MESON chess problem database
YACPDB (Yet Another Chess Problem DataBase)
Other sources referenced within the article

Problem solutions.

Problem 1:
1. Qd8! and all four Black moves allow knight mates. There are duals in three of the four variations, which wouldn’t be acceptable today.

Problem 2:
1. Ba3! when the star line is 1… Kxc4 2. Qb5+! Kxb5 3. Nd6#. Also 1… Kxe4 2. Qe2+, 1… Ke6 2. Qb6+, 1… d3 2. Qd5+ and 1… g2 2. Qb5+

Problem 3:
1. Re8! A waiter, very popular at the time. The move creates no threat, but every Black move creates a weakness allowing White to mate next move. You can work them all out for yourself!

Problem 4:
1. Bh2! Another waiter: again there’s no threat but every possible Black reply allows immediate checkmate. There are quite a lot for you to find!

Problem 5:
1. Nc3! Kb4 2. Qc4+!, or 1… Kb6 2. Qe7!, or 1… Kd6 2. Ne4+!, or 1… Kd4 2. Ne4! This demonstrates the Star Flight theme: Black’s four possible king moves, SW, NW, NE and SE, make the shape of a star.

Problem 6:
There’s some set play: if it was Black’s move 1… c2 would be met by 2. Qa5. There are also two tries: 1. Rg7? d5+! and 1. Rc7 f5+!
So the solution is 1. Qe3! when it’s not difficult for you to work out the variations after Black’s four possible replies.

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Minor Pieces 40: Peter Shenele

Back in 1975 I played in a weekend tournament celebrating the centenary of Kingston Chess Club. I’m still in touch with two of my opponents, Kevin Thurlow and Nick Faulks, today. They both post regularly on the English Chess Forum and I also see Nick at Thames Valley League matches between Richmond and Surbiton.

Kingston are in the early stages of preparing celebrations for their 150th anniversary in 2025, and asked me if I’d seen anything confirming 1875 as the year of their club’s foundation.

Well, there are all sorts of questions concerning, amongst other things, continuity, but I’ll leave that for another time. The Surrey Comet and Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette (which carried a lot of chess news) for those years have been digitised, but searching for ‘chess Kingston’ doesn’t come up with anything. There are some earlier matches in which clubs in the area played competitions including chess along with other indoor games, but nothing obvious concerning 1875. Having said that, the OCR search facility is far from 100% accurate, so I’d have to look through all the papers for that year to check I hadn’t missed anything. The nearest I’ve found so far is this, from 1881.

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette 01 October 1881

We have three names here. Most important, for my Kingston friends, is that of Mr J Bartlett, President of Kingston-on-Thames chess club. I consulted the 1881 census which lists a number of J Bartletts in Kingston,  but none of them seem to be obviously presidential material.

I suspect the annotator was FC (not JC) Burroughs: Francis Cooper (Frank) Burroughs (1827-1890) was a Surrey county player, a solicitor by profession. He never married and had no relations with the initials JC.

As Mr Burroughs’ initials appear to be incorrect, it’s entirely possible that Mr Bartlett’s initial was also given incorrectly. I haven’t been able to find any other chess playing Bartletts in the area as yet, but I’ll keep looking.

Here’s the game in full. Click on any move for a pop-up board.

Two weeks later, another game was published, with Bartlett again losing with the white pieces against Shenele.

We’re told that Inspector Shenele was playing by correspondence against Kingston, but there’s no indication of how many Kingston players were involved. He played two games against Barrett, but playing black in both cases. I wonder what the format was. Perhaps he played four games, two with each colour, against each of five opponents. Looking at the games, the Kingston President’s play, especially in the first game, doesn’t make a very good impression, considering he would have had plenty of time for each move.

As he was blessed with a highly unusual surname as well as a title, it wasn’t difficult to find out more about Inspector Shenele. If you’ll bear with me for straying away from Kingston, not to mention Richmond and Twickenham, his is an interesting, although sadly rather short, story.

He was born Peter Shenale on 22 March 1843 in the village of Mary Tavy, near Tavistock in Devon, the youngest child of James Shenale and Tamzin Parsons Pellew. Most of his family spelt their name in this way, but Peter preferred Shenele. He also referred to himself as PS Shenele, although I can find no record of a middle name in any official documents. The surname has its origins in Devon and Cornwall. By the 1851 census the family had moved to Gunnislake, the other side of Tavistock and just over the border in Cornwall, where James was working as a copper miner. His wife and three sons were at home: James junior was also a copper miner, while William and Peter were at school. According to Wikipedia: “The village has a history of mining although this industry is no longer active in the area. During the mining boom in Victorian times more than 7000 people were employed in the mines of the Tamar Valley. During this period Gunnislake was held in equal standing amongst the richest mining areas in Europe.” Tin and copper were the main metals mined there.

In 1861 Peter was still living there with his parents, along with a mysterious 14-year-old granddaughter, and now, like his father, mining copper. In 1867, still in the same job, he married Eliza Ann Kellow in nearby Plymouth.

At that point he (or perhaps Eliza) decided that the life of a miner wasn’t for him. If you’re a copper miner and don’t want to be a miner any more, I guess that makes you a copper, and that’s exactly what Peter did. He moved to London and joined the Metropolitan Police. By 1871 he was living in Knightsbridge with Eliza and their 5-year-old son Henry. Another son, Frederick, had died in infancy. A daughter, Ellen, would be born later that year, followed by Emma, who would also die in infancy, and William, by which time the family had moved to Chelsea.

But where did the chess come in? His background seems very different from most of the chess players we’ve encountered in this series. I’m not sure that chess was especially popular among the Devon and Cornwall mining community, but you never know. Perhaps he became interested after seeing a problem in a newspaper or magazine column.

In 1876 his name suddenly started appearing  (as PS Shenele) in the Illustrated London News as a solver of chess problems.

It wasn’t long before he tried his hand at composing as well. You’ll find the problem solutions at the end of this article.

#2 Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 11 November 1876

But at home all was not well. Peter may have been good at solving both crimes and chess problems, but his marriage had hit a problem with only one solution. On 18 April 1879 he filed for divorce, citing his wife’s adultery with a man named Charles J Reed. Perhaps Eliza had had enough of Peter spending so much time at the chess board and had sought satisfaction elsewhere. The courts found in Peter’s favour (in those days it was always considered the woman’s fault): he was awarded a decree nisi on 20 November 1879 and a final decree, along with custody of Ellen and William, on 1 June 1880.

A son, Charles Frederick Shenale, was born in Plymouth, the town where Eliza and Peter had married, on 20 August 1879 and died the following year at the age of 9 months. His parents were listed as Peter and Annie (as Eliza preferred to be called): might one assume that Charles Reed, whose first name he was given, was actually his father, and that his mother had returned to Devon to give birth?

Here’s another problem Peter composed at about this time.

#2 Preston Guardian 1880

Not content with solving and composing problems, Peter took up correspondence chess as well.

In this postal game against Irish astronomer and philosopher William Henry Stanley Monck, he concluded his attack with an attractive queen sacrifice for a smothered mate. It was published in the Illustrated London News on New Years Day 1881.

He had also taken up another unlikely interest: poetry. Also on New Years Day 1881 he wrote to the Croydon Guardian.

Croydon Guardian and Surrey County Gazette 15 January 1881

He also submitted this poem which, in the fashion of the day, is an acrostic. The first letter of each line spells out a message.

By this time he’d been promoted to the rank of Inspector, and had moved out, as you can see above, to Ilford, where, when the 1881 census enumerator called, he was living with young William. Emma wasn’t at home: she might, I suppose, have been away at school. Henry was living in the Devonshire Club in Piccadilly, working as a page boy.

It was about this time, also that he played the correspondence match against Kingston-on-Thames Chess Club. I’ve yet to discover exactly how this came about: quite possibly via his connection with the Croydon Guardian, the main source for Surrey chess news at the time.

Chess and policing weren’t the only things on Peter’s mind in 1881. On 31 January 1882 he married a local girl, Sarah Jane Seabrook, who, it seems, was pregnant with their daughter Ethel Emily, whose birth was registered in the first quarter of that year. This didn’t stop his chess activities: he entered a correspondence tournament run by the Croydon Guardian.

This correspondence game was played in 1893 against Horace Fabian Cheshire. Both players demonstrated knowledge of contemporary Evans Gambit theory, but our hero went wrong shortly after leaving the book. Thanks to Brian Denman for providing this game, which was published in the Southern Weekly News (8 Sep 1883).

But then, in the same year, tragedy struck. A son, named Albert, was born in September, but died 5 days later: the third child he’d lost in infancy. He then caught a cold, which developed into pleurisy. On 10 November 1883, at the age of only 40, Peter Shenele died after a short illness. A local paper back in Cornwall published this tribute.

You can see some parallels, can’t you, with James Money Kyrle Lupton, from a later generation. Both were problem solvers and composers who liked to see their name in print, and both were also police officers in London. But while James, from a privileged background, only became a constable, Peter, a man of relatively humble origins, became an inspector.

As always, I’m sure you want to know what happened next. Eliza Ann (Annie) remarried in 1893, not to Charles Reed, but to a widower named James Trump (no relation to Donald), a plasterer by trade.  Ellen sadly died in 1894. Sarah Jane moved in with her brother Frederick, like their father a publican, and the family later emigrated to New York. It’s not clear what happened to Ethel. There’s a burial record for Ethel Emily Seabrook in Newham, East London in 1898, which might have been her.

Peter’s younger surviving son, William, joined the Royal Navy, then became a clerical officer in the Civil Service, marrying but not apparently having any children, and living on until 1968.

Peter’s oldest son, Henry, emigrated to Australia in 1885. In 1891 he married Alice Huxley, and, in the same year, a son, George Leslie Shenele, was born. But then things started to go wrong. In 1895 a warrant was issued for his arrest.

He did indeed go to New Zealand, to Masterton, near Wellington, where, in April that year, a month before the above announcement, he was put on trial for rape. What exactly happened between Henry James and Belinda the slavey I don’t know. Offering to tune the family organ indeed!

Observer, Volume XI, Issue 853, 4 May 1895

It was later reported that the Grand Jury threw out the bill. As always in those days (and you might think things haven’t changed much) he got away with it. (Thanks to Gerard Killoran for this information)

After that the trail goes cold. What happened to the police inspector’s son, the seemingly mild-mannered, bespectacled piano tuner? I’d imagine he changed his name, but no one seems to know.

George Leslie settled in Campsie, a suburb of Sydney, married, had two children, Ilma and Cyril, but his wife died young. He worked on the railways, eventually becoming an inspector, the same rank, but not the same profession, as his grandfather. Guess what happened to Cyril. He followed (was he aware?) in his great grandfather’s footsteps, becoming a policeman, rising to the rank of (at least) Detective Sergeant.

And that is the story of Peter Shenele, copper miner, police inspector, chess problem solver, composer and correspondence player, who provided a random distraction from my investigations of chess players of Richmond, Twickenham and surrounding areas. I’ll try to find out more about the early history of chess clubs in Kingston: if I come across anything interesting I’ll let you know.



MESON chess problem database

Brian Denman/Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club website

Gerard Killoran/Papers Past (New Zealand)

Problem 1 solution:

1. Qg1! threatening Nfd4# or Nh4#.  1… Qg3/Qg2/Qxg1 2. Bd7# 1… exf3/e3 2. Bc2#

Problem 2 solution:

1. Qc6! threatening N mates on g6 as well as two queen mates. 1… Rxc6 2. Nf7# 1… Re6 2. Qxe6#

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Minor Pieces 39: James Money Kyrle Lupton

There are many of us who enjoy an intellectual challenge over the breakfast table. These days we might solve a crossword or a sudoku.

In the days before crosswords and long before sudokus, there were those who would solve a chess problem over breakfast. Many daily and weekly publications would carry a regular chess problem, and also provide lists of successful solvers, who were no doubt keen to see their name in print.

A name frequently seen in that context for more than four decades, from the 1890s to the 1930s was that of JMK Lupton (Richmond). Who was he? I was keen to find out, and I’m sure you are too.

He was James Money Kyrle Lupton (middle names sometimes hyphenated), born in Richmond on 11 July 1864 and baptised at St Mary Magdalene’s Church in the town centre on 3 March 1865. He was the oldest of seven children. His father, James Irvine Lupton was a vet and the author of many books on the anatomy of horses. (Check out The Anatomy of the Muscular System of the Horse or Mayhew’s Illustrated Horse Doctor: Being An Account of the Various Diseases Incident to the Equine Race, With the Latest Mode of Treatment and Requisite Prescriptions for example.) His mother, Eliza Cheesman (sadly not Chessman), was the daughter of a vet.

I guess we need to consider his eccentric middle name(s). The Money-Kyrles are minor aristocrats, but I can find no immediate connection with either side of the Lupton family. Perhaps they were friends: who knows?

In 1871 the family, James, Eliza, James junior and four young daughters, are living at 20 Whitchurch Villas, Mount Ararat Road, Richmond, employing a housemaid, a cook and a nurse. Mount Ararat Road is one of the roads leading up from the town centre to St Matthias Church on Richmond Hill.

By 1881 the family have moved to Sheen Park (possibly No.4 but the census record isn’t exactly clear). James, like his now six siblings, is a Scholar, and the household is completed by a governess and three servants.

By this point he has already made his first appearance in a newspaper: the previous December the Surrey Comet reported that his cock had won second prize. Stop sniggering at the back there: it was a poultry show. The following June his rabbit was highly commended in a rabbit show.

It looked like he was going to follow in his father’s footsteps working with animals, but he soon took up another interest instead: athletics. He joined the London Athletic Club (his father was also a member) and for the rest of the decade the papers were full of his results, running distances up to 440 yards (the equivalent of 400 metres in today’s money – or should that be Money-Kyrle?). He also played tennis there, but with less success.

Combining his interest in running with his father’s interest in anatomy, the two of them wrote a book published by WH Allen & Co in 1890.

St James’s Gazette 26 March 1890

If you’re interested you can read it online here.

But at that point he seems to have retired from competitive athletics. What happened? Did he suffer an injury? Or did he just get bored and decide to move onto another interest?

The 1891 census finds the family in 3 Camborne Terrace, right by the river close to Richmond Bridge: a pretty desirable place to live. James Irvine’s veterinary practice and book sales must have provided the family with a more than comfortable income. Six of their seven children are still living at home: the oldest daughter, Maude, is in a boarding house in Littlehampton. James MK, now aged 26, seems, like his sisters, to be living a life of leisure, with no occupation listed. Roger is a clerk, and Horace is still at school. Now the children are almost grown, they only need to employ one domestic servant.

After the publication of his book his name disappears from the newspapers completely until 1893, at which point he’s taken up a new interest: chess problems.

His name starts appearing regularly as a solver in the Illustrated London News and the Morning Post, and it’s not long before he tries his hand at composition.

Problem 1

#2 The Field 28 Oct 1893

He’s also playing correspondence chess, with an extremely unimpressive game published against Hull schoolmaster George Wright Farrow. Click on any move for a pop-up window.

Lupton had a lost position from the opening. If he’d read Chess Openings for Heroes he’d have avoided that variation.

Then Farrow, having been winning all along, first throws away the win on move 40 by choosing a passive rook move, then miscalculates the pawn ending, missing a draw on move 44. If he’d read Chess Endings for Heroes he wouldn’t have made those mistakes.

Lupton is very active, both as a solver and a composer, for several years in the middle of the 1890s. Here’s one from later in the decade.

Problem 2

#2 The Field 19 May 1897

But after that his name appears less often, with only very occasional compositions.

By 1901 it’s time for the census enumerator to call round again. Something unexpected has happened. He’s left home and found a job. Not the job you’d expect, either. He’s a police constable, lodging in Streatham with a working-class couple in their 60s, Henry and Caroline Mynott. I suppose that, whether through choice or necessity, finding employment would give him less time for chess problems. For whatever reason, it must have been quite a change from life with his affluent parents by the river in Richmond.

His father had died the previous year, but Eliza and her other six children, all, like James unmarried, are living in Halford Road, Richmond, near the bus station. None of the four girls have jobs listed, but Roger is a company secretary and Horace an accountant. Also there is Clara Cheesman, a 45-year-old widow, presumably a relative by marriage, although the Cheesman family has so far proved very elusive.

Eliza would die two years later, in 1903, and Horace, sadly, later the same year, aged only 29. By 1905 James was starting to regain an interest in chess. In the same year his spaniel Rose O’Brady  took a second prize at the Kennel Club Dog Show (‘a nice coloured and sound spaniel, but her coat might be better’). By the following year he was both solving regularly and composing again, ambitiously moving up to 4-movers as well as 2- and 3-movers. Perhaps he was no longer a police constable so had more time for chess.

I have yet to see any evidence that he was a member of his local chess club in Richmond at this time, but club reports for this period are thin on the ground. However, in 1907, with the British Championships taking place in London, he decided to try his hand, and was duly entered into the Second Class A section, along with my favourite chess playing clergyman, Rev Evill. (I see Evill drew with Gooding, which must prove something, but I’m not sure what. Perhaps it was the chess equivalent of this cricket match.)

Lupton’s participation didn’t go well, as you’ll see from the cross-table.

Source: BritBase (

It’s not clear, though, whether he actually played all his games or lost some (or perhaps all) by default.

He continued solving and occasionally composing until 1909, after which his name disappeared again.

By 1911 we find him back in Richmond, and in a different job. He’s no longer a police constable but an advertising agent. He’s still boarding, with a milkman and his family, in Eton Street, right in the town centre.

Throughout the 1910s there’s no record of him at all. It’s ten years before we get to meet him again, in the 1921 census.

Now approaching his 57th birthday, he’s lodging at 31 Sheendale Road, Richmond, which runs south off what is now the A316 towards the railway line. His occupation is described as ‘Ex Officer of Police London County Council Constabulary’, his employer as ‘Pelabon Works East Twickenham’ and place of work as ‘shell factory’. Well, it had been some years since he’d been an officer of police, but the Pelabon Works were very interesting.

About 6000 Belgian refugees were living in East Twickenham during the First World War, many of them working at a munitions factory run by a French engineer named Charles Pelabon. Although most of the workers there were Belgian, some English workers were also employed there, and James Money Kyrle Lupton must have been one of them. It’s a fascinating story: you can read more about it here (a paper from the scholarly journal Immigrants & Minorities: Historical Studies in Ethnicity, Migration and Diaspora) and here, amongst other places. The factory was later converted into the world famous Richmond Ice Rink.

If you take the bus to Richmond Bridge and stroll along the river on the Middlesex bank towards the centre of Twickenham (a short walk I can highly recommend) you’ll soon come across a small garden with two information boards, one telling the story of the Belgian refugees, and one the story of the ice rink.

Here’s the Belgian refugee board: you’ll have to visit yourself to read all the text.

Photo: Richard James

And here’s a list of local residents who made financial contributions to support the memorial. You’ll see a very familiar name on the list, although he has now moved out of the area.

Photo: Richard James

At some point he also had a job working for the Parks Department of London County Council, which may have been in the early 1920s, or possibly earlier.

But living on his own, with no employment and nothing better to do with his time, in 1921 he decided to return to chess problems, with his name now regularly appearing in lists of solvers in the Illustrated London News, to whom he also submitted problems for publication.

On 24 September 1927 they were profuse in their gratitude: “You overwhelm us with your kindness. Your problems are quite unique, and they always possess a piquant interest peculiar to themselves.”

He also found a new outlet for his problems in the Catholic weekly The Tablet. While his ILN compositions were often complex waiters, where the key move created no threats but the many possible black replies all allowed different mates, The Tablet, whose readers were less likely to have a specialist knowledge of chess problems, was favoured with simpler problems, often featuring a theme popular at that level.

Here’s an example.

Problem 3

#2 The Tablet 8 Aug 1925

The ILN chess column was discontinued in 1932 (only resuming under BH Wood’s authorship in 1949) and Lupton’s last problem in The Tablet was published in 1933.

James Money Kyrle Lupton had also found a new hobby to while away the time: writing letters to newspapers. Here, in 1924, he exclaims “Let us be Englishmen and debar no foreigners from anything”.

Westminster Gazette 27 May 1924

While he was in favour of foreign musicians such as Richard Strauss playing in England, he was strongly opposed to married women with children working.

There was a local cause célèbre in Twickenham in 1926 when the local Education Board, headed by Twickenham Chess Club President and British Fascist (he joined that year) Dr John Rudd Leeson, sacked the headmistress of Twickenham County School for Girls, Dr Isabel Turnadge, after she married and had a child.

George Bernard Shaw was not slow in voicing his opinion, and nor was Lupton.

West London Observer 03 December 1926

However, the following year he came out in favour of lowering the voting age for women from 30 to 21. “Women are equal to men in a great many callings, and in some far better. The present voting age of 30 for women is an insult to womanhood.” (Westminster Gazette 06 April 1927) Strangely, I haven’t been able to find him on any electoral roll (the only family member I’ve identified there is his brother Roger), possibly in part because he never owned his own property.

By the 1930s he’d become Mr Angry of Richmond. I suspect that today, like many sad and lonely middle-aged men, he’d be a Twitter Troll. He was a passionate supporter of capital punishment, for rapists and paedophiles as well as murderers, and was strongly opposed to releasing prisoners with life sentences after 20 years. He also held strong views about non-pedigree dogs: “Curs and mongrels are valueless, and are the Communists of the dog world, and emissaries of the devil” (West London Observer 10 November 1933). He complained about cars driving too fast in Richmond Park (still a hot topic today), children playing football in Kew Gardens, jaywalking pedestrians (women were the worst), about British Summer Time. There was always something to complain about. But most of all he complained about people talking: in libraries, in cinemas, on trains. In one of his last letters he wrote that brunettes were better than blondes, although I’m not sure how much experience he’d had of either.

He retained his membership of the London Athletic Club, often walking from Richmond to the city and back (24 miles) in a day, and often wrote letters about his favourite sport, as well as about horse riding. He thought women would make excellent jockeys, as indeed they do: witness the likes of Hollie Doyle and Rachael Blackmore.

In 1934 he wrote a letter about his favourite indoor game.

West London Observer 13 April 1934

Looking back at his results in the 1907 British Championships, I’m not sure what that says about James MK Lupton’s brain.

Although his chess composing career seems to have come to an end in 1933, he continued writing letters to newspapers until 1936. While some of his views seem relatively enlightened for the time, many of them were extremely reactionary. He died on 12 April 1937 at the age of 72. His address was given as 34 Halford Road Richmond, where I suspect he was back living with his sisters, but he died at a nearby address, 22 Cardigan Road, a very large house which might, at the time, have been a clinic or care home of some sort. He left £351 15s 7d and probate was granted to his sister Maude.

Reading between the lines, I get the impression that James Money Kyrle Lupton probably didn’t have a very happy life. He came from an affluent background, and had a talent for sports, writing and chess, but never seemed to settle in one job and never owned his own property, spending much of his time living in lodgings. Looking at his letters, he seems to have become rather grumpy and cantankerous in later years. Perhaps he should have joined Richmond Chess Club and made some friends.

Did something go wrong at some point? Who knows? The family hasn’t been well researched and there seemed no online tree available so I created one myself. They all, especially on the Cheesman side, seemed difficult to track down There’s something unusual, but not unique (you’ll meet a similar example in a future Minor Piece), about the Lupton family. All seven of the siblings reached adulthood but none of them married or, as far as I can tell, had children. Three of his sisters lived very long lives, two into their nineties and one to her mid eighties. While James was only too keen to see his name in print, the rest of them seemed a pretty reclusive bunch.

If you want to see more of his problems, you’ll find those from The Field and The Tablet in Brian Stephenson’s MESON chess problem database. I also used one of them as the Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club Puzzle of the Week. If you search online newspaper archives you’ll find quite a few more, from the Illustrated London News and other sources.

That, then, was James Money Kyrle Lupton, athlete and chess problemist. Join me soon for another Minor Piece.


Problem 1:

1. Bc8! (threat 2. d8N#). 1… e4 2. Qd5#, 1… f5 2. Rg6#, 1… Qxc5 2. Nxc5#, 1… Nd8+ 2. cxd8N#, 1… Rxe8 2. dxe8Q/R#, 1… Rxc8 2. dxc8Q/B#

Problem 2:
1. e5! (no threat). 1… f5/f6 2. exf6# 1… Bg7/Bh6 2. Re8# 1… Nb6/Na7 2. Ba3# 2… Nd6 2. exd6#

Problem 3:
1. Nf4! (no threat) 1… Kxf4 2. Qe4# 1… Kxf6 2. Qg7# 1… Kxd6 2. Qe7# 1… Kd4 2. Qd5#

The Star Flight theme. The black king has four diagonal flight squares, each of which is met by a different white mate.

Acknowledgements and sources:

MESON chess problem database


Twickenham Museum

Other online sources quoted within the article


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Minor Pieces 31: Edward Bagehot Schwann

Here’s something you might have seen before: Twickenham Chess Club’s 1896 victory over Metropolitan.

Regular readers will have met several of these players already, but not Twickenham’s Board 6: E B Schwann.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 04 April 1896

Edward Bagehot Schwann was born in Hampstead in 1872, probably towards the end of September. Edward came from a privileged background. His father, Frederick Sigismund Schwann, himself the son of a German born merchant, had been born in Huddersfield, famed in Hampshire for a while before moving to London and working as a Commission Merchant. His mother, Mary Watson Halton Bagehot, was a first cousin of Walter Bagehot, best remembered as the author of The British Constitution.


The 1881 census found Frederick and Mary living in West Heath Lodge, Branch Hall Park, Hampstead, with five children, two cousins, a governess and six servants.

Young Edward was educated at Bromsgrove School where he excelled at cricket. A brother, Henry Sigismund, would go on to represent Oxford University at cricket. An uncle, Charles Ernest Schwann, was a prominent Liberal politician, noted for his radical views, and MP for Manchester North between 1886 and 1918.

Edward must have excelled at chess as well as cricket at school, as he first came to the attention of the chess world in 1886 as a problem solver.  Perhaps solving chess problems was popular with the cool kids back in the day.

It wasn’t long before Edward started composing problems himself: direct mates mostly in 2 or 3 moves. Here’s an early example.

Problem 1 #3 Morning Post 16 September 1889

A typical problem by a novice composer of the day, I’d say, but he would soon add more complexity to his compositions. (You’ll find the solutions to the problems at the end of the article.)

In 1890 Edward completed his education at Bromsgrove School, achieving a Higher Certificate in Latin, Elementary and Additional Mathematics, English and History, and, rather than proceeding to Oxford or Cambridge, returned home to his family in London.

By this point they’d moved from Hampstead to Wimbledon, living in Park House, Inner Park Road. The house itself no longer exists, but it was just off the A219 across the road from Putney Heath. The 1891 census records Frederick and Mary along with six of their children, including Edward, described as a Scholar (perhaps he was at London University) and no less than eight servants. They were clearly living in some style.

By the following year, Edward had joined the City of London Chess Club. The first mention of him I can find is from July 1892, where, described as ‘the rising young problem composer’, he won a game in a simul given by the strong amateur Percy Howell.

In January 1893 he had a game from the City of London Club Championship published in the Morning Post, although it must be admitted that White’s opening play was pretty feeble and that his queen sacrifice, while attractive, was not the only way to win. As a problemist, though, he might have had no choice. (You can click on any move in any game in this article and a pop-up window will appear enabling you to play it through.)

By 1893 he was playing in matches for his club: here he is in a match against Oxford University. (I suspect A F Fox is a typo for A M Fox.)

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 25 February 1893

In October that year Blackburne visited the City of London Club to play an 8-board blindfold simul: the only winner was ‘a rising talented player and problem composer’ – E B Schwann. (One of the three players who drew was recorded as Dr J K Leeson: this may have been a typo for Dr J R Leeson, who will feature in a future Minor Piece.) By now Edward was playing for the Metropolitan club as well as City of London.

In 1894 he represented the winning team, Surrey, in the final of the inter-county championship against Gloucestershire – but his affiliation is given as S.C.A. (Surrey Chess Association), suggesting he wasn’t, at that point, a member of any Surrey club.

In October 1894 a 50 board match took place between the Metropolitan and City of London clubs. Edward played as a reserve for City of London, finding himself faced with W H Gunston, a player of genuine master strength.

The newspaper report rather unhelpfully reported the match in alphabetical order of the Metropolitan players rather than in board order.

London Evening Standard 22 October 1894

Meanwhile Edward’s problem career was continuing to grow: this problem was a first prize winner.

Problem 2 #3 1st Prize Weekblad Voor Nederland, 1895

He seemed to be present in almost every club or county match going, as well as composing prolifically. He was particularly successful over the board in the 1895-6 season: maybe one of his friends, Arthur Makinson Fox, perhaps, suggested that he might be prepared to make the journey from Wimbledon to Twickenham to join the local club, with the result that you saw at the top of this article.

In 1897 Frederick Richard Gittins published his book The Chess Bouquet. Here’s what he had to say about Edward Bagehot Schwann.

His improved form had come to the notice of the selectors and, in a match against Cambridge University, he found himself on board 2, where he lost to a most interesting opponent, E A Crowley.

Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News 27 February 1897

Yes, this was Edward Alexander, better known as Aleister Crowley, star of The (Even More) Complete Chess Addict. You can read more about his chess career here.

Soon after this match, Edward disappeared from the London chess scene, spending a year in Munich learning more about the German School of chess composition from the experts there, and also visiting Prague, where he played this game.

Problem 3 #3 2nd Prize Brighton Society, 1898

Here’s another prizewinning mate in 3. Was it influenced by his time in Germany?

By the time he returned in early 1898 Twickenham Chess Club had transitioned into Thames Valley Chess Club, and, while rejoining his now Teddington based colleagues he also decided to join the new Richmond Chess Club, which was, as we’ll see in future articles, becoming more ambitious.

Windsor and Eton Express 02 December 1899

Here he is, in late 1899, in one of Richmond’s regular matches against Windsor, where he met another famous opponent who could hardly have been further removed from Crowley: Sir Walter Parratt.

In this game from a county match in January 1900, he preferred 9… g6 to the more popular 9… Qd5 in the famous Max Lange Attack. Today’s engines agree with him, preferring Black after this move.

From the same period, here’s a loss against tinned milk pioneer Arthur James Maas from the Surrey Challenge Cup. The game seemed to feature a lot of rather inconsequential manoeuvring typical of those days of limited positional understanding before Black came out on top.

In September 1900 Edward decided the time had come to take part in a tournament against stronger oppostion. He entered the top section of the Southern Counties Chess Union championship in Bath, but found the event tough going, eventually finishing in 12th place on 3½/14. The great Henry Ernest Atkins was the winner on 12½/14, a point ahead of Herbert Levi Jacobs. Although a decent county standard player, he was no match for those of master strength. Undaunted, he entered the City of London Championship, but was again unsuccessful.

The 1901 census recorded Edward as still living with his parents, three sisters and eight servants in Wimbledon, and working as a Publisher’s Clerk. By now he was very much respected not just as a composer of problems, but as a leading authority called upon to act as a judge in composing competitions.

He was also continuing to play in club and county matches: clearly a true chess addict, and, given that he was still in his 20s, there was every chance that he would add to his reputation over the next few decades.

He had also, at round about this time, fallen in love, and would soon announce his engagement to Miss Rita Fox (apparently no relation to A M Fox) of the Ladies’ Chess Club (also here and here) a lady of rather mysterious origins. I hope to write a series of articles about some of the Ladies’ Chess Club members when time permits.

But then, on 7 September 1902, at the age of only 30, his life came to a very premature end when he died suddenly of heart failure.

Western Times 24 September 1902

He had made a will a couple of months earlier so perhaps he knew he was ill. The value of his estate was £20370, about £2.67 million today, and he ensured his fiancée was well provided for. He also left a bequest to the celebrated master Richard Teichmann, who was struggling with both financial and health matters, and was, as a result, able to afford an operation. I haven’t yet been able to identify Russell Scott junior: can anyone help?

Illustrated London News 18 October 1902

There are some more stories to be told. Due to the prevalence of anti-German sentiments during the 1910s, many possessors of German surnames chose to change them. Several members of the Schwann family simply dropped the ‘ch’, becoming Swann. Edward’s brother Ernest, however, preferred to use his mother’s maiden name: Bagehot. Ernest married Ethel Caroline Pollock, whose mother, Amy Menella Dodgson, was a first cousin of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known today as Lewis Carroll. Carroll was himself a keen chess player and used the game in Through the Looking Glass. Ethel’s second cousin once removed, Algernon Pollock Aris, married Janet Alicia Elford, my third cousin once removed (here‘s their oldest son). So, if my tree is correct, Edward Bagehot Schwann, one of the first members of Richmond Chess Club, is the brother-in-law of the 2nd cousin 1x removed of the husband of my 3rd cousin 1x removed!

Another coincidence: some years ago I taught a boy named Adam Swann, whose parents were, and still are, family friends. His 7-year-old son is now an enthusiastic player. His name, of course, is Edward Swann.

Perhaps he’ll follow in the footsteps of his near namesake, a true chess enthusiast who, in his tragically short life, became a pretty useful player, and, more importantly, a leading authority on and composer of chess problems.

Come back soon for more stories of the early members of Richmond Chess Club.

Acknowledgements and sources:
Yet Another Chess Problem Database
The Chess  Bouquet (thanks to Tim Harding)
Various other online resources linked in the text


Problem 1:
1. Qf6! Kd5 2. Nf5! Ke4 (2… e4 3. Ne3#) (2… Kc4 3. Qxf7#) 3. Qc6#

Problem 2:
1. Qb7!
1… Ke5 2. Bf6+ ♔e4 3. Nd2#
1… Kd4 2. Nd2 2… Ke5 3. Bf6# 2… e5 3. Be3# 2… e×d5 3. Qg7# 2… e×f5 3. Bf6#
1… Kf3 2. Ne3+ d5 3. Nd2#
1…e5 2. Nd2+ Kd4 3. Be3#
1… e×d5 2. Nd2+ 2… Kd4 3. Qg7# 2… Ke5 3. Qg7# 1… e×f5 2. Ne3+ 2… Kd4 3. Bf6# 2… Ke5 3. Qd5# 2… d5 3. Q×d5#

Problem 3:

1. Nc3! threat 2. Qd5+ 2… Kf4 3. Bh6# 2… Kf6 3. Ng4# 1… Be4 2. Q×e4+ Kf6 3. Qf5# 3. Qe7# 3. Qf4#
1… Ba2 2. Qe4+  Kf6 3. Qf5#/3. Qe7#/3. Qf4#
1… N×f2 2. Qg7+ Kf4 3. Qg3#
1… Kd4 2. Ne2+ 2… Ke3 3. Bh6# 2… Ke5 3. Ng4# 2… Kc4 3. Qg8#
1… Kf4 2. Ne2+ 2…  Ke3 3. Bh6# 2… Ke5 3. Ng4#

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Minor Pieces 23: Cecil Alfred Lucas Bull Part 2

Last time we left Twickenham’s finest chess problemist, Cecil Alfred Lucas Bull, as he was about to emigrate to Durban in 1892.

Unfortunately, South African online records, both births, marriages and deaths, and newspaper archives, are few and far between, but we are able to provide a fairly comprehensive record of his chess career in the southern hemisphere, both as a player and as a problemist.

This problem, submitted to a London newspaper, dates from soon after his arrival in Durban.

Problem 1. Mate in 3: 1st prize winner Hackney Mercury 1894

And here, continuing where we left off last time, is FR Gittins again.

The Chess Bouquet Frederick Richard Gittins 1897

We know from some useful information on the Durban Chess Club website that he was one of the founders of the club and was Durban champion five times, in 1901, 1903, 1904, 1906 and 1911

Lucas Bull was one of the founders of the Durban Chess Club in 1893 and the first person to win the Durban championship on five occasions, running out the winner in 1901, 1903, 1904, 1906 and 1911. He also participated in the South African championships on three occasions, finishing 9th in 1897, 7th in 1899, and 2nd on his final appearance in 1906.

Lucas Bull was born in Twickenham (part of London) in 1869, and came from a very large family, consisting of five sons (he was the third son) and four daughters. His father, Thomas Bull, was a surveyor and auctioneer, and must have had a profitable business, as the Bull family employed four servants at the time (source: 1881 census).

Bull arrived in Durban in 1892 and apparently chose South Africa, rather than the United States, as they don’t play cricket in the USA! He was already the champion of the Twickenham Chess Club, and was starting to get an international reputation as a problemist. From the date of his arrival, up until the time that he discontinued serious over the board play in 1907, he was almost certainly the strongest player in Natal.

Source: Durban Chess Club website

Further information about his appearances in the South African Championships (1897: Cape Town, 1899 Durban, 1906 Cape Town) can be found on Rod Edwards’ indispensable EdoChess site.

Two games from the 1899 tournament, played in the shadow of the 2nd Boer War, are extant. Click on any move and a pop-up board will magically appear, enabling you to play through the games.


The Bock game. which was awarded a brilliancy prize, was published, for example, in the Newcastle Courant (17 March 1900). The van Breda game comes, via South Africa chess historian Len Reitstein, from the Durban Chess Club website (link above).

His best result was his second place in 1906, giving him an estimated rating of 2130: a strong club player at the time he gave up serious over the board chess (the 1911 Durban championship must have been a very brief comeback). The winner in 1906, Bruno Edgar Siegheim (1875-1952) was born in Germany, played chess in New York (1899-1904), South Africa (1906-1912) and England (1921-1926) before returning to South Africa. His best result was finishing 2nd= with Réti at Hastings in 1923, just half a point behind the great Akiba Rubinstein, which suggests he was IM strength.

We know very little about his life outside chess. It seems like he had enough money not to work and was able to devote his time to his hobbies. I presume he continued to play cricket in Durban, although newspapers from that period aren’t available online. There’s no archival record of Cecil ever having played first-class cricket.

What we do have is a couple of passenger lists.

A 1903 passenger list for a ship sailing from London to Port Natal lists Mr C A Lucas Bull (35), Mrs Bull (32), Miss B Bull (3), Mr C Bull (28). This looks like Cecil and his family visiting England and returning with Clifford, who was going to live with them in Durban. Cecil appears to have a wife and young daughter, but we have no further information about them.

A 1909 passenger list, again from London to Natal, offers Cecil Slade (sic) Lucas Bull, Eunice Chillingworth Lucas Bull and Bessie Lucas Bull. I have no idea where the Slade came from but it looks like he was married to Eunice and Bessie was their daughter.

He was still composing prolifically: here’s one from 1912.

Problem 2. Mate in 3: 1st prize winner Saale-Zeitung 1912

Cecil Alfred Lucas Bull Durban 15 September 1913 Source, Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery

Here’s a photograph of him from 1913.

He continued composing successfully up until 1932, mixing heavyweight prizewinners with more lightweight offerings for the Natal Mercury. He died in Durban on 19 July 1935, at the age of 66.

Problem 3 is another first prizewinning mate in 3 from the latter stages of his career: British Chess Magazine 1931.

In 1960 Cecil’s friend and occasional collaborator Donald Glenoe McIntyre published Sonatas in Chess, a collection of 136 of his best threemovers (South African Chessplayer). This is a rare book and second hand copies go for high prices. I saw a copy for sale back in the 1980s but didn’t buy it – I really should have done.

I occasionally publish his more accessible problems on the Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club website: see here and here.

At present I have no idea about what happened to Eunice and Bessie. I can find no information about anyone with the forenames Eunice Chillingworth, and the 1927 London marriage of Bessie L Bull to Robert Douglas King-Harman isn’t the same person.

There’s a prominent South African businesswoman named Wendy Lucas-Bull, who is married to Clive Lucas-Bull, and whose father-in-law is, or was, Leslie Arthur Lucas-Bull. Any connection? If you have any further information about Eunice, Bessie or any other relation do let me know.

Cecil Alfred Lucas Bull, chess champion of Twickenham and Durban, and multiple prizewinning problemist, this was your life.

Join me again soon for another delve into the Twickenham Chess Club menagerie.

Sources and acknowledgements:

Problems and solutions from Yet Another Chess Problem Database

EdoChess (Rod Edwards)

Cleveland Public Library Digital Gallery

Durban Chess Club website

Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club website

Thanks to Dr Tim Harding for The Chess Bouquet by Frederick Richard Gittins

Problem solutions:


1.♕a1! ~ 2.♕e5+ ♔d3 3.♘e1# 1…♔d5 2.♕×a8+ 2…♔d6 3.♗e7# 2…♔c5 3.♗e7# (Model mate) 1…♔f5 2.♕b1+ ♔g4 3.♕e4# 1…♔d3 2.♕b1+ ♔c3 3.♗d2# (Model mate) 1…♖×g5 2.♕d4+ ♔f5 3.♘h4# (Model mate) 1…♘g4 2.♕d4+ ♔f5 3.♕d3# (Model mate)

Model mates were much valued at the time.

From Wikipedia:

model mate is a type of pure mate checkmating position in chess in which not only is the checkmated king and all vacant squares in its field attacked only once, and squares in the king’s field occupied by friendly units are not also attacked by the mating side (unless such a unit is necessarily pinned to the king), but all units of the mating side (with the possible exception of the king and pawns) participate actively in forming the mating net.


♗c8! ~ 2.♗×d7 ~ 3.♗e6# 1…♗b1 2.♕a1 A ~ 3.♘e7# B 2…d×c6 3.♗e6# 2…♔×c6 3.♗b7# 3.♕a8# 1…♗×b3 2.♘e7+ B 2…♔e5 3.♕a1# A 2…♔d4 3.♕e4# 2…♔c4 3.♕e4# 1…d×c6 2.♕×c6+! 2…♔d4 3.♕e4# 2…♔×c6 3.♗b7# 2…♔e5 3.♕d6# 3.♗c3# 1…♘f7 2.♘×d7 ~ 3.♘×b6# 3.♘f6# 2…♔e6 3.♘d4#

Some more model mates here, as well as sacrifices and corner-to-corner queen moves, something of which Bull was very fond.


1.♕d8! ~ 2.h3+ ♔×h5 3.g4# 1…♖b4 2.♗×g6 ~ 3.h3# 1…♔×h5 2.♗d1+ ♘e2 3.♗×e2# 1…g5 2.♕d7+ 2…♔×h5 3.♕h3# 2…♔h4 3.♕h3# 2.♕c8+ 2…♔×h5 3.♕h3# 2…♔h4 3.♕h3# 1…g×h5 2.♕d4+ ♔g5 3.h4#

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