Minor Pieces 32: James D’Arcy

It’s time to continue the story of Richmond Chess Club through the 1890s.

The club, as we’ve seen, was young and ambitious, and decided to enter the Beaumont Cup, run by the Surrey County Chess Association.

The Surrey League (except that it never seems to be called that) started in the 1883-84 season. It seems like only a few matches were played, probably on a knock-out basis, and taking place at central London venues rather than club venues.

By the 1895-96 season there was a demand for a second competition for less strong clubs, and a trophy named the Beaumont Cup was presented by the county President, Captain Alex Beaumont. The second division of the Surrey League is still, a century and a quarter later, the Beaumont Cup.

Some more information:

Beaumont, Alexander ‘Alex’ Spink 1843-4 Sep 1913 England, Manchester Deansgate – Kent, Beckenham amateur musician, 1872 captain of the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, 21 Feb 1874 in Pembroke he was tried and acquitted for attempt to commit sodomy, 20 Sep 1910 made Freeman of the City of London in the presence of musicians, at time of death residing at Crossland, 28 Southend Road in Beckenham; son of Colonel Richard Henry John Beaumont; 24 Jan 1872 at Christ Church in London Paddington he married the widow Caroline Savage (Marlborough 1826-13 Apr 1907 Croydon), daughter of baronet Sir Erasmus Griffies-Williams. (Source: http://composers-classical-music.com/b/BeaumontAlexanderSpink.htm)

Here’s what happened in the second year of the Beaumont Cup’s existence.

London Evening Standard 07 June 1897

Well played, Richmond! Sadly I don’t at present have a record of the names of the players in this historic match.

The club also continued to play friendly matches. As we’ve already seen, they played regular home and away matches against Windsor and, in this period, narrow defeats against both Thames Valley (formerly Twickenham) and West London were recorded.

And then, in April 1900, Richmond Chess Club hit the headlines across the country for a tragic reason. Here are a couple of examples.

Globe 09 April 1900
Morning Post 09 April 1900

Who was the unfortunate (or perhaps fortunate to have died suddenly and painlessly doing something he enjoyed) James D’Arcy? It appears he was just a social player as I haven’t yet been able to find any information about him competing in matches or solving problems. Sub-postmaster sounds like a relatively humble occupation (unlike, for instance, club president George Oliver Richards, who was a dentist), but can we discover more about him?

His name is variously spelt D’Arcy, Darcy and Darcey in records, and most of the family trees he’s on give incorrect parentage, all copied from each other.

James’s birth was registered in the first quarter of 1840 in Boston, Lincolnshire: his parents, it seems, were John Darcey a farmer from the village of Wigtoft, between Boston and Spalding, and Elizabeth Brackenbury, although the 1841 census gives her name as Jane.

Sadly James senior died in 1847 and Elizabeth married Thomas Millhouse, a cottager (no, not THAT sort of cottager: just someone who owned a cottage and a small amount of land). By 1851 Thomas and Elizabeth had started their own family as well as bringing up James’s three younger siblings, while James himself was living in the nearby village of Swineshead with his grandparents James, an innkeeper, and Eleanor Brackenbury.

I haven’t yet been able to find him in the 1861 census but at some point he moved to London where, in 1866, he married Jemima Bond in Greenwich. The 1871 census located them in Hackney with their first child, a son named Robert. James had found employment as a solicitor’s clerk. He must have been doing pretty well for himself as the family residence was a fairly large 4 storey house. They were able to afford a servant, although having three boarders (all young men with clerical jobs) would have helped financially.

By 1881 they’d moved down the road to Islington, now with four children (Robert had been joined by Annie, Kate and Arthur), a servant, and a visitor, perhaps boarding there, David Reid, who was an East India Merchant born in New Brunswick. James’s job was now a Law Stationer.

Ten years on, and they’d moved to a different address in North London, not all that far from Hampstead Heath, and young Alfred had joined the family. James was still a Law Stationer, David Reid was still boarding there, and they still employed a servant. He might have come from a fairly modest family background in a small Lincolnshire village, but he’d prospered in London: something quite typical for the times, I think.

At some point in the 1890s, then, James and his family moved to 9 Mortlake Road, Kew and changed his job to that of a sub-postmaster. 9 Mortlake Road was, and still is, a large and impressive house near Kew Green: being a sub-postmaster must have paid well. The 1901 census records Jemima and all 5 of her surviving children (they had lost three children in infancy), along with Kate’s husband Maurice White and a servant. Maurice had been at Harrow with Winston Churchill, became a journalist and publisher, and later a picture dealer, being declared bankrupt on at least two occasions.

By 1911 Jemima had moved round the corner to Ennerdale Road, very convenient for Kew Gardens. The only one of her children at home was Annie, whose husband, Aubrey O’Brien was on leave from his job: he was a Major in the Indian Army in civil employ in the Punjab Commission as Deputy Commissioner. Their two young sons, Turlough and Edward, were there, along with three servants. Jemima died in Kew three years later, in 1914. All three sons became bank clerks or cashiers, but Alfred joined the Canadian Army, fought in World War 1, dying in hospital in Boulogne of wounds sustained in battle in 1916.

So our social player, then, was, like most of the other players we’ve met at Twickenham and Richmond Chess Clubs in the 1880s and 1890s, a fairly prosperous chap. Perhaps he wasn’t a strong player, but he must have enjoyed his chess and, as a result, died happy. I guess that’s the most important thing.

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

Other online sources referenced above

 

110 Instructive Chess Annotations

From the back cover:

Senior International Master Mike Read competed 115 times for the England and Great Britain teams at correspondence chess, including playing on board one for England in the 13th Olympiad.

In this, his fourth book, he aims to instruct his readers by dissecting 110 games played by local players at all levels of chess. In doing so, he isolates typical mistakes and explains the methods of taking advantage of them.

Philidor wrote that pawns are the soul of chess. In one sense, yes, but in another sense  the soul of chess is the mass of club and tournament players, without whom the chess world wouldn’t function.  Yes, it might be inspirational to look at games played by top grandmasters, but it’s always been my view that club standard players will learn more from games played at their level than from GM games.

Mike Read shares my opinion. Here’s how he starts his introduction.

One of the surest ways for a club player to improve his playing ability is to study annotated games featuring players of similar strength to themselves. The mistakes, and the instructive methods of taking advantage of them, will be familiar to them from similar happenings in their own games. Meanwhile the notes to such moves will educate the aspiring player in both how to avoid typical errors, and also how to take advantage of them when it is his opponent who is unfortunate enough to err.

Mike was a strong junior in the 1970s who graduated to correspondence chess which he played with great success up to the year 2000, playing on top board for England and obtaining the title of Senior International Master. You don’t get to that level without being an excellent analyst.

He continues:

It is reasonable for the reader to enquire as to why my correspondence chess career ended at a time when I was still being reasonably successful. The truth is that, during the 1990s, I suffered three nervous breakdowns. I managed to continue to keep on competing during the first two of these and, in fact, had my most successful chess years during the second of them, even though I was barely capable of coping with even the simplest aspects of day to day life. However my third breakdown, which occurred in the period 1999 to 2000 was too much for me to deal with and I was forced to abruptly retire from the game that I love at the beginning of the new millennium.

I was in an absolutely desperate situation at this time, but chess was to prove to be a major factor in my eventual recovery. A number of local players, recognising the severity of the predicament that I was in, made a great effort to assist me and get me out of the house where I had been languishing alone for several months. I do not feel I would ever have recovered, had it not been for the support of the Norfolk chess community.

And again:

Contained within these pages are 110 games, played by Norfolk players of all strengths from superstars of local chess such as John Emms, Owen Hindle and Robert Bellin down to some of the county’s lower graded (but still very talented as you will see!) enthusiasts. All of the games I have included feature top quality opportunities for the aspiring player to learn a lot, and all also feature some very fine chess!

The book is published through Amazon: Mike Read is selling it as cost price as he has no interest in collecting royalties from its sales.

The games are presented, unusually, in ECO code order, so you get all the Sicilian Defence games, for example, together. The annotations, which were produced without computer assistance, are excellent, scoring highly for both clarity and accuracy as well as instructive value. Many readers will, like me, appreciate the human touch. If you look at the sample pages on Amazon you’ll get some idea of their flavour.

Most of them are tactical, often involving spectacular sacrifices, which will delight anyone (and that probably means all of us) who enjoys combinative play.

This was the first game Mike analysed. He witnessed it taking place and decided to annotate it to thank his friend Grant Turner, who had helped and supported him during his breakdown. (If you click on any move you’ll be able to play through the games in this review on a pop-up board.)

Another of Mike’s friends, Brian Cunningham, was responsible for the production of this book. In this game he demonstrates that the Stonewall Attack can be a potent weapon at lower club level.

At the other end of the spectrum, here’s a game played by Norfolk born GM John Emms.

I know many readers enjoy collections of games played at amateur level, finding them both more entertaining and more instructive than higher level encounters. If you’re one of these you’ll be entranced by this book.

There are also many readers who like to support authors who prefer to self-publish their books. An admirable sentiment, I think, and if you fall into this category, again you certainly won’t be disappointed.

The word that first comes to my mind when considering this book is ‘generous’. Mike Read generously offers this book at cost price. The size is generous, his tributes to his friends who saved his life after his third breakdown, scattered within the introductions to these games, are also generous. The annotations are also generous in every respect. Mike is generous in his comments about the winners’ play, and also, very often, about the losers’ play as well. You might think that a more critical approach might have made the annotations even more instructive, but this would have been out of place given that they were originally written for a local chess magazine.

Anyone rated between, say, 1000 and 2000 will certainly learn a lot from this book, but stronger players will also benefit. And anyone who just enjoys playing through entertaining games will, like me, fall in love with this book. Don’t be put off by the title, which makes it sound rather dull and didactic (didactic, perhaps, but certainly never dull), or the lack of an illustration on the front cover. It’s what’s inside the book that really matters.

At another level, the book is also a wonderful tribute to all Mike Read’s friends within the Norfolk chess community (a few of whom, sadly, are no longer with us), who helped him when he was going through a very difficult time. Many will find Mike’s story inspirational, and that, again, is a powerful reason why you should buy this book.

It’s my view, and I’m sure Mike, even though he was a chess champion himself, would agree, that, ultimately, chess is less about prodigies, champions and grandmasters, but about forging friendships and building communities of like-minded people who enjoy the excitement, beauty and cerebral challenge of chess.

I’d urge all readers of this review to do themselves a favour, and do Mike a favour as well, by buying a copy.  I really enjoyed this book, and I’m sure you will too. The Amazon link is here.

From https://mikereadsim.weebly.com/photos.html

 

 Richard James, Twickenham 11th May 2022

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details:

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09M791556
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Independently published (25 Nov. 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 551 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8466415964
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 12.85 x 3.18 x 19.84 cm

Official web site of Amazon Publishing

110 Instructive Chess Annotations, SIM Mike Read, Independently published (25 Jan. 2020), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1708364748
110 Instructive Chess Annotations, SIM Mike Read, Independently published (25 Jan. 2020), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1708364748

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.

Source: https://www.schachbund.de/news/genug-des-stumpfsinns-remis-richard-der-fuenfte-kam-aus-altenburg.html

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:

ancestry.co.uk
findmypast.co.uk
edochess.ca
chessgames.com
chess.com
BritBase
Yet Another Chess Problem Database
Wikipedia
The Chess  Bouquet (thanks to Tim Harding)
Various other online resources linked in the text

Solutions:

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#