We remember Gordon Thomas Crown who died this day (November 17th) in 1947
We have reproduced his obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXVII (1947), Number 12 (December), Page 387-8 and we assume that this was written by the then editor, Julius du Mont :
We are grateful to Leonard Barden on the identity of T.J.B. :
“Thomas John Beach, wartime RAF navigator with Distinguished Flying Cross, leading light of Liverpool chess, regular British championship player for many years, chairman of BCF junior selectors, father of a leading Midlands expert, a good and dedicated man” TJB was the father of Richard Beach who won the British Boys Under 18 title in 1961.
From Wikipedia :
Gordon Thomas Crown (20 June 1929 – 17 November 1947) was a promising British chess player who died of appendicitis at the age of eighteen. He is best known for his win against the Russian Grandmaster Alexander Kotov shortly before his death.
Crown was born in Liverpool in 1929. He finished second in the British under 18 championship in 1946 and improved rapidly, winning the Premier Reserve section of the 1946/7 Hastings International Chess Congress. This led to his being placed on the reserve list for the 1947 British Chess Championship. Following the withdrawal of the defending champion Robert Forbes Combe, he was allowed to play in the championship, where he finished third (Harry Golombek won).
Consequently, he was selected to play for the British team in the 1947 Britain-USSR match, where he caused a sensation by defeating the Soviet Grandmaster Alexander Kotov, though he lost the return game. He also defeated Max Gellis in a Britain-Australia radio match.
On 17 November 1947 he was admitted to hospital, complaining of a stomach upset. Diagnosed too late with appendicitis, complicated by his diabetes, he died in the operating theatre.
His friend (and former British champion) Leonard Barden speculates that had he lived, Crown would have become at least a strong Grandmaster, further noting that he was ” … open, friendly and modest as well as a clear and enthusiastic explainer of his chess ideas; I think he would have been like Keres or Gligoric in their countries, a model for our young players.”
Harry Golombek was similarly impressed with Crown’s play, stating that “In his short life, he had already shown himself to be of master strength and was potentially a very great player.”
We are grateful to be able to use comments from long time friend, Leonard Barden posted under the nom de plume of Roberts Partner on chessgames.com :
“As to the circumstances of Crown’s death. The finger of blame must be pointed at the family doctor for failing to make a timely correct diagnosis. On Sunday 16 November 1947 a chess friend visited the Crown home at Ingledene Road, Liverpool, and found Crown in bed. He explained that his doctor had diagnosed a stomach upset and had recommended rest. The friend and Crown played and analysed together for several hours, and Crown did not appear in any physical discomfort. But that night sfter the friend left his condition deteriorated and he was rushed to hospital where he died in the early morning hours of 17 November. There was also a belief among some Liverpool chess players that the hospital procedures could have been better.”
“On another thread some CG posters expressed surprise at the Ritson Morry v Crown game where Morry fell into a well-known opening trap.
The British championship at Harrogate in August 1947 was played in a spa building where the underfloor heating was still switched on. This coincided with one of the warmest summers on record (it was the year in which Compton and Edrich made their memorable cricket achievements for Middlesex). By the second week of the BCF congress older and overweight players (the latter group including Ritson Morry) were wilting. Ritson also had some long adjourned games, and by the time of his game with Crown in the final round was exhausted. The game finished in 15-20 minutes so by the time other players went to spectate after their opening moves there was just a reset board with no sign of the players and no indication of what had transpired. Other final round results went Crown’s way so that he finished third outright and thus got selected on a high board for the USSR match.”
and here is an article by ddtru (?) in chess.com : full article
We are grateful to renowned chess historian, Taylor Kingston for supplying these scans of an article from Chess Life in 1947 about Gordon Crown written by Reuben Fine :