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 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 (https://www.saund.org.uk/britbase/pgn/190708bcf-viewer.html)

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.

Solutions:

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:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

MESON chess problem database

BritBase

Twickenham Museum

Other online sources quoted within the article

 

Minor Pieces 38: Cecil Frank Cornwall

Surrey Mirror 16 December 1902

You’ve seen this a couple of times before: a 1902 Surrey Trophy match between Richmond and Redhill.

It’s time to meet Richmond’s Board 8: Cecil Frank Cornwall. Cecil had been born in Chorlton, Manchester on 16 November 1883, so he was still in his teens at the time of this match. His father, Frank Edward Cornwall, was a newspaper proprietor who had been born in India. Shortly after his birth the family moved down to Twickenham, where Cecil’s sister Edith Annie was born in 1885. Their address at that point was given as 1 Carnarvon Villas, Strawberry Hill Road, Twickenham, which had been built by Abraham Slade (mentioned here) in 1866.

By the time of the 1901 census they’d moved round the corner to a house called Hainault in Popes Grove. No occupation was given for Cecil, but Edith was still at school.

It would have been around that time, then, that Cecil joined Richmond Chess Club. It was relatively unusual for teenagers to take part in competitive chess in those days, so I’d guess he’d perhaps learnt the game from his father. He’d also played successfully for Richmond against the same opponents the previous season. (The Sussex Agricultural Express really was essential reading for chess fans.)

Sussex Agricultural Express 18 March 1902

Here, then, we have a young player of some promise, already doing well against decent club standard opposition.

By 1903 Cecil was also a member of the famous Metropolitan Chess Club. He spent his life in banking, so it seems quite likely that he was now working in central London.  He was bold enough to submit this game for publication in the London Evening Standard.

London Evening Standard 03 April 1905

Here’s the game for you to play through (click on any move for a pop-up window).

One of the major London chess events at the time was the annual encounter between the City of London and Metropolitan Chess Clubs. In 1905 the City team scored an overwhelming victory, Cornwall drew his game against the American international Clarence Seaman Howell, very easily confused with Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry. Lots of great names on both sides of the board in this match!

Daily News (London) 13 November 1905

 

By 1908 Cecil had joined West London, and here found himself playing against Metropolitan, facing another American, James Mortimer, who, half a century or so earlier, had played friendly games against Paul Morphy.

Both players followed contemporary opening theory until Cornwall went wrong, but Mortimer missed his chance, and sportingly submitted the game for publication.

Westminster Gazette 07 March 1908

There were other things happening in Cecil Cornwall’s life as well as work and chess. On 30 April 1910 the wedding bells were ringing from Holy Trinity Church across Twickenham Green for the marriage of Cecil Frank Cornwall and Violet Mary Jones Price (these two names sometimes hyphenated), the Oxford born daughter of a Welsh commercial traveller. Nine months later, on 27 December, a daughter arrived. Cecil liked his name so much that she was named Cecil Gwendolyn Edith Cornwall.  By the time of her baptism, her third name had been changed from Edith to Clare, and her mother’s middle name was given as Marie rather than Mary.

In 1911 Cecil, Violet and their young daughter were living at 5 Wellesley Terrace, Hampton Road, Twickenham, again very near Twickenham Green, along with Violet’s 18 year old brother Godfrey Horace Reginald Price, a boarder who was, like Cecil, employed as a bank clerk.

One rather puzzling aspect of their 1911 census record is that it was Violet rather than Cecil who completed the form, and that she added quote marks round “Head” and “Wife”. One wonders why.

The family’s happiness was not to last long. In the fourth quarter of 1912 a son, Alan Maxwell Frank Cornwall, was born, and, sadly, his death was registered in the same quarter. Cecil continued to play chess, making occasional appearances in Surrey county matches and individual competitions. But war clouds were gathering over Europe and soon there would be little competitive chess for him.

Determined to serve his country, Cecil Frank Cornwall signed up for a short service commission in the army reserves. Here’s the front page of his attestation, giving his address as 46 King Edward’s Grove, Teddington. We’ll return there later. However, a 1915 electoral roll gives his address as 52 Langham Road, Teddington, not very far away.

In the first quarter of 1918 the birth of a daughter, Dolores, was registered, and again her death was also registered in the same quarter. A tragedy for Cecil and Violet to have lost two children at, or soon after, birth.

After the end of the First World War competitive chess gradually started up again and in 1920 Cecil played for Surrey against Lancashire in the final of the BCF County Championship.

Here’s his game.

By now it was 1921 and time for another census. It’s clear that there was a problem of some sort within the family as Cecil and Violet were living separately. I guess the loss of two children might have put an unbearable strain on their marriage.

Violet was in King Edward’s Grove, not at number 46, but at number 1, where Felicia Crofts was letting apartments. Violet, aged 32, was a lodger, occupation described as ‘supported by husband permanent living’. Also there were  Henry Charles Crozier, a 56 year old insurance clerk, Edmund Joseph Woodland, a 65 year old dealer on the Stock Exchange, and his 61 year old wife Emma Kate.

Cecil was also in a boarding house, at 29 Sheen Road, Richmond, a 37 year old bank clerk working for London, County, Westminster and Parr’s Bank, which would become Westminster Bank in 1923 and is now NatWest.

Although at that point it seems they were still married, and I can’t find any divorce records, in the third quarter of that year Violet married Archibald Gibb (a widower from Portsmouth, born in 1876, who, in 1911, had been living at 31 King Edward’s Grove) in Kingston. But less than a year later, on 29 August 1922, she died of valvular heart disease, at the age of only 32.

The decade from 1912 to 1922 must have been a very difficult time for Cecil Frank Cornwall. Perhaps his love of chess played a part in keeping him going.  Would the rest of his life bring him happiness?

In 1924 Cecil remarried. His second wife, Helen Kennedy, had been born in Cork in 1895. In October 1925 he was still playing county chess for Surrey, but soon afterwards they crossed the Irish Sea to her home town.

In 1926, a son, Julian Cecil K Cornwall, was born in Cork, and a daughter, Adrianne Kathleen Mary, followed in 1928 in Dingle, right over the other side of Ireland. But they didn’t stay there long. Soon after their daughter’s birth they sailed back to England, perhaps at first settling back in the Richmond or Kingston area, as Cecil, wasting no time in resuming his chess career, scored his greatest success, becoming county champion in 1930. The winner the following year would be none other than Harry Golombek.

It was the tradition at the time that the club or county champion had the honour of playing on top board, and so it was that Cornwall encountered William Albert Fairhurst in the final of the BCF County Championship.

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer 13 October 1930

They then decided to move again, settling on the south coast in Hove in 1932, with Cecil continuing his work as a bank clerk, and later becoming a bank manager. He joined the thriving Brighton Chess Club, and, in 1933, won their club championship for the first time. Here’s a fine attacking game, against the 1910 Scottish Champion, published in 1933 but probably played slightly earlier.

This wouldn’t be the only time he won the Brighton Club Championship. Four years later, in 1937, he was again successful, and, after a break during the dark days of World War Two, he won the title five times in succession, from 1944 to 1948. Pretty good going, especially as he was in his mid sixties by the time of his last victory.

The only photograph I’ve been able to find of Cornwall is this, from a local paper in 1950, and reproduced on a couple of online family trees, where he’s playing a simul against some local teenagers.

Had Cecil found happiness with his second family and his new chess life in Brighton? I’m not so sure.

Cecil Frank Cornwall died at the Edenhall Marie Curie Centre, 11 Lyndhurst Gardens, Hampstead (a hospice which had opened the previous year) on 26 September 1955. The death notice in the Daily Telegraph two days later was perfunctory: “dearly loved brother of Edith”. No mention of Helen, Julian or Adrianne, or of his daughter Cecil from his first marriage, all of whom were still alive. You have to wonder why not. Very strange, and rather sad as well. Helen lived on until 1981, when her death was registered in Lewes, Sussex.

There you have it, then. Cecil Frank Cornwall, a member of Richmond Chess Club in the early 1900s, was a strong amateur player, champion of Surrey, and, on seven occasions, of Brighton Chess Club, and for those achievements he deserves to be remembered. His few surviving games show him to have been an aggressive player with a talent for tactics, who could, perhaps, have scaled the heights had he chosen to do so. His life was touched by sadness in several ways, particularly between 1912 and 1922: I hope chess brought him solace as well as friendship, excitement and mental stimulation.

He was one of my predecessors in more ways than one. Let me take you on a walk along King Edward’s Grove, a road in South Teddington running between Kingston Road and Broom Road. It was briefly called Cornelius Road in the 1890s, but when it started to acquire housing in the early 1900s it was renamed in honour of the reigning monarch.

Entering from Kingston Road, Number 1, where Violet Cornwall, as she then was, was lodging in 1921, is the first house on your left. Continuing along the road, and still in 1921, let’s knock on the door of 27 King Edward’s Grove. Whose family lives in a house like this? The answer is none other than Cecil Frank Cornwall’s Metropolitan teammate from 1905, Edward Guthlac Sergeant, who had a long and distinguished chess career which I hope to cover at some future date.  He’d only just moved in at that point, and would only stay there a couple of years. Just two doors further along is number 31, where Violet’s second husband, Archibald Gibb, was living in 1911. It’s now a care home for adults with learning difficulties and autism. On the other side of the road is number 46, where Cecil and Violet were living in 1916. Perhaps Archie across the road took a shine to Vi. Carry on right to the end of the road, to number 73 on the corner of Broom Road, turn the clock forward to 1934, and you’ll find a rather unusual household. The house is owned by the Misses Ada and Louisa Padbury, who until recently had run a ham and beef shop in nearby Bushy Park Road. Two other sisters are there: Ellen, a dressmaker, and the disreputable Florence, in the final stages of TB, along with her illegitimate children Arthur and Betty, who had been brought up by Ada and Louisa. Florence died in 1935, after which, like others in the same road, the property was converted into a boarding house. When Betty married in 1949, she and her husband remained there until they could afford their own place, and it was there that their older son would spend the first two years of his life.

That son was me, and so I followed in the footsteps of Cecil Frank Cornwall by living in King Edward’s Grove (as did Edward Guthlac Sergeant) as well as by being a member of Richmond Chess Club.

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

Wikipedia

Google Maps

Brighton Chess by Brian Denman, self-published in 1994 and highly recommended if you can get hold of a copy.

 

 

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn's Journey, Jonathan Perry, Chess Tales, LLC (17 Oct. 2022), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8986059211
Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, Jonathan Ferry, Chess Tales, LLC (17 Oct. 2022), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8986059211

From the author and illustrator:

In our first book, Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, we imagine what it might feel like to be a pawn in the game of chess. The rules of the game make it possible so that a mere pawn can one day become a queen, the strongest piece on the board. But the barriers to get there must seem overwhelming! Can you identify with a pawn who dreams of becoming a queen? Across the Battlefield aims to inspire children to pursue their goals no matter how impossible they may seem, all while teaching them key strategies to winning in chess and in life.

And:

Chess comes alive like never before as readers experience the game through the eyes of Prunella, a nervous little pawn who believes she must become a queen for her life to matter. Join her journey as she discovers not only strategies and tactics for mastering chess, but also lessons about teamwork and how every piece, including pawns, has value.

About the Author:

Jon first learned to play chess in the 4th grade, and he has carried a passion for the game ever since. Like Prunella, he grew up believing that he had to become someone famous or extraordinary, like the President, for example, to be worthwhile. In some small way, the story of Prunella reflects Jon’s journey to finding happiness and peace within. He is raising three daughters with his wife Ann-Marie. When playing chess with his girls, they love to pretend what the pieces might be thinking and experiencing and he enjoys using those exploratory imaginings to teach lessons about life, leadership and becoming a whole person.

Caroline Zina is a children’s book illustrator with an imaginative and whimsical art style. She has illustrated bestsellers such as The Great Unknown Monster and Melody’s Magical Flying Machine. You can view more of her artwork and contact her at CarolineZina.com.

 

The idea of using chess as a morality or an allegory dates back to The Game and Playe of the Chesse, published by William Caxton 450 or so years ago.

A number of authors, including your reviewer, have, over the years, used the concept of a story to introduce chess to children. It’s a very attractive idea as well: most children enjoy stories and the game offers a lot of possibilities for teachers and parents to use chess related stories both to introduce children to chess for the first time and to help children who already play.

Just as in any battle, the participants have to show courage, have to work together as a team, and sometimes have to make sacrifices to help bring their team victory. Stories based on chess can be used to teach children all sorts of positive qualities, and even to improve their mental health. (Indeed, this topic is covered in my forthcoming book Chess for Schools.)

Here, we follow Prunella, the black b-pawn, who is helped by Norry the knight and the rest of her team as she travels across the board.

It’s a lovely story, beautifully written and enchantingly illustrated, that will appeal to many children – especially, but not only, girls – aged from about 6 or 7 upwards. It might spark an interest in chess, or encourage them to play more chess. By talking to their parents and teachers about Prunella and the other characters in the story, children will learn to understand and regulate their emotions, deal with fear and apprehension and help make their dreams come true.

Having said that, I’m not certain the actual chess content is suitable for most young beginners. The view of many chess teachers, including myself, is that most children will gain more long-term benefit from starting by playing simpler games before moving onto ‘big chess’.  Here, we’re thrown straight into a fairly sophisticated Queen’s Gambit, with the story on the left-hand page and some general advice, mostly of a positional nature (which might be unhelpful or confusing to newcomers), on the right-hand page. It’s also not possible to follow through the complete game: we can play through the opening, but then jump quite a few moves ahead to see how the game concludes, without any clues to reconstruct the bit in the middle.

To summarise, then: great story with great illustrations: many children will, understandably, fall in love with the book, and, perhaps, be hooked on chess for life as a result. I’m not convinced about the value of the pedagogic material,  which is, for me, too general and too advanced for the young beginners who would be attracted by the story, but I suppose that’s not really the point. If you’re a chess teacher or parent and you know children who would like this story, especially, perhaps, children who have issues with low self-esteem and anxiety, then don’t hesitate.

 Richard James, Twickenham 18th July 2022

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details:

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0B6DJBTY9
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Chess Tales, LLC (17 Oct. 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 50 pages
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8986059211
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 17.78 x 0.64 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of Chess Tales

Across the Battlefield: A Pawn's Journey, Jonathan Perry, Chess Tales, LLC (17 Oct. 2022), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8986059211
Across the Battlefield: A Pawn’s Journey, Jonathan Perry, Chess Tales, LLC (17 Oct. 2022), ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8986059211

Minor Pieces 37: Richard Exton Gardner

There are those who are of interest because, like William Ward, they’re strong chess players who had distinguished careers. We can follow their results and study their games.

There are others who might have had shorter or less distinguished chess careers but who are of interest because of their lives outside chess, or perhaps because of their families.

Richard Exton Gardner was one of those. You might have seen this 1902 Surrey Trophy match card before. There, on board 7, was RE Gardner, which tells us he was a decent club standard player.

Richmond wasn’t Gardner’s only club. Here he is, in 1900, playing for West London against Athenaeum, who featured William Ward on top board.

West London Observer 14 December 1900

Here he is again, in 1904, playing for West London against an Oxford and Cambridge team. The match below, against City of London, saw both William Ward and George Edward Wainwright in action, with Harold Francis Davidson, later the Rector of Stiffkey (who was eaten by a lion) and star of The (Even More) Chess Addict among the opposition.

Field 26 March 1904

But who was Richard Exton Gardner?

If you’ve ever used Yardley soaps or perfumes you might be interested to find out.

The company we now know as Yardley was founded in London by William Cleaver in 1770. His son married a Yardley, and, for obscure financial reasons, the firm acquired the name it still uses today. At some point, probably round about the late 1860s, an ironmonger’s son from Bristol, Thomas Exton Gardner, found employment there, and, clearly ambitious and talented, found himself at the top of the tree.

After moving round various addresses first in Central, then in West London, the family settled at 2 Branstone Road, Kew (almost opposite the Lion Gate entrance to Kew Gardens). The 1881 census found Thomas and his wife Elizabeth at home, along with their four young children, Ida May, Thornton Ernest, Dora Annie and Richard Exton. They were wealthy enough to employ a domestic servant and a nursemaid.

Thomas died in 1890 at the age of only 51, after which Yardley fell into decline, but the family were still involved and young Thornton and Richard joined the management team: in 1900 Thornton was Managing Director and Richard, only 21 at the time, Company Secretary.

The 1901 census found Elizabeth and her four children still at the same address, along with their 20 year old cousin Dora Fordham, a housemaid and a cook, both teenage girls. Thornton was described as the manager of a soap factory and Richard a clerk.

So here we young man whose hobby was chess and was already playing for his two local clubs: Richmond and West London. In an age where children rarely played chess, he would have been considered a player of some potential.

It seems, though, that his chess career was short: understandably he decided to put his business interests first: under Thornton and Richard’s stewardship Yardley grew and thrived, and still does so today. If you use their soaps or scents you have them to thank.

Let’s continue Richard’s story, as there’s still much of peripheral interest to relate. In 1905 Yardley opened a new factory in Carpenters Road, Stratford, which runs through what is now the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

In 1908 he married (Gertrude) Vere Uffindell, the daughter of a naval engineer. They both gave their address as 66 Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill, so the family had moved away from Kew. By 1911 Richard and Vere, now expecting their first child, were living on the premises in Carpenters Road along with a servant. A son, Charles Exton Gardner, was born later that year, and another son, named Richard Exton Gardner after his father but known to family and friends as Jimmy, would follow in 1914.

Did Charles and Jimmy follow their father’s interest in chess? Not to any great extent, it seems: they took up a different hobby, aviation, which would play an important part in both their lives.

In 1936 Charles won the King’s Cup flying a Percival Vega Gull owned by his younger brother, and the following year he repeated his success, this time in a Percival Mew Gull.

In the summer of 1938 the two brothers made the headlines across the country when Jimmy’s plane was stolen. Teenagers involved in a foolish and dangerous prank involving an aeroplane? Who’d have thought it? This report is from the Bucks Herald (12 August 1938).

So they were let off because they were nice middle-class boys?

You might want to consider the name of the prosecuting counsel. Vernon Gattie, or Vernon Rodney Montague Gattie QC CBE, as he later became, was the son of Walter Montague Gattie, one of the strongest English chess players of the 1880s, who played for Oxford in five varsity matches. It’s unlikely that Walter knew Richard senior, but they would probably have had some shared acquaintances. The acting chairman, Archibald William Cockburn KC, seems to have been a very distant cousin of Alexander Cockburn, the author of Idle Passion : Chess and the Dance of Death

I expect you want to know what happened next to the miscreants, don’t you?

Gerald, as far as I can tell, worked as an aircraft fitter, never married, and died at the age of 64. Peter, who may have been the instigator of the escapade, and spent a month in hospital recovering from injuries sustained in the crash, was up before the bench again the following year, charged with separate offences of stealing a camera and a raincoat.

He then joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve, rose to the rank of Sergeant in 602 Squadron, and lost his life on 11 December 1942. The 602 Squadron, which flew Spitfires, was based in Scotland but also took part in the Battle of Britain in 1940. Did Peter fly a Spitfire in the Battle of Britain? Seemingly not, as he’s not on any online list of pilots. What were the circumstances of his death? “Details not known” according to the website of the 602 Squadron Museum.

You’ll also want to know what happened to Charles and Jimmy Gardner.

By 1939 Charles was an operational officer in the Air Ministry and presumably served in that post during the Second World War.

Richard Exton Gardner junior (Jimmy) joined the Fleet Air Arm and became a fighter pilot under Douglas Bader, flying Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain. Unlike many of his brave colleagues he survived the war: you can read all about him here.

After the war, both brothers rejoined their family firm, where they remained until retirement.

Not very much chess in this article, I’m afraid, but still an interesting story. Join me again soon for some more Richmond Chess Club members from the 1900s.

Acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

EdoChess

Wikipedia

Other websites linked in the article

 

 

 

 

Minor Pieces 36: William Ward Part 3

Last time we left William Ward in 1909, when he had just competed in his fourth British Championship. As it happens, it would be his last appearance (perhaps his legal work was more pressing) but he continued playing in the City of London Championship, as well as in county matches.

Here, as you can see, he was again successful in the 1909-10 competition, where the same three players filled the first three places as in the previous year.

In March 1910 he was selected to take part in a match between the City of London club and a visiting team representing the Dutch Chess Federation. The administration of this event, seemed, from the report below, to have been somewhat chaotic.

You might notice a familiar surname appearing twice in the Sutch team. Arnold van Foreest (his name spelt incorrectly above) is the great great grandfather of Jorden (winner of the 2021 Tata Steel Masters), Lucas and Machteld van Foreest. Dirk was his brother, and had a remarkably long chess career, stretching from the 1884 Dutch Championship to a match against fellow octogenarian Jacques Mieses in 1949.

William Ward took the City of London title for the sixth time in 1910-11. This time he finished ahead of Reginald Pryce Michell, a strong player with Kingston connections, and the young George Alan Thomas, yet to inherit his baronetcy. (I’m not certain about the accuracy of this table. I have a game in which Ward allegedly beat A Stephens, but here, the result is given as a loss for him.)

In this game against the veteran James Mortimer, who had played Morphy many decades earlier, he clamped down on his opponent’s backward e-pawn with logical and determined play before striking tactically.

By now it was 2 April 1911, time for the census enumerator to call again. He found William living on his own in a single room in 3 Raymond Buildings, Gray’s Inn: he had a bachelor pad within his legal chambers. (As it happens, this is somewhere I used to know very well back in the 1970s: I’d pass it regularly when walking from my office to Foyle’s to browse the latest chess books.)

This snippet from Cycling (26 April 1911) reveals another side of William Ward. The North Road Cycling Club, founded in 1885 and today based in Hertford, claims to be one of the oldest in the country.

Entirely coincidentally, a photograph on the same page pictures a group of cyclists welcoming the winner of the Banks, Insurance and Stock Exchange Walk, JH van Meurs, who, when he wasn’t walking and dealing in grain, played an important part in both London and national chess administration over many decades. Two prominent figures in the chess world on the same page of a cycling magazine!

In  1911 the British Chess Federation decided they needed someone to rewrite the Laws of Chess. Given his legal background, could there have been anyone better that William Ward for the job?

Well, quite possibly. It didn’t go well. The Rev E E Cunnington, who had written the previous version, and was perhaps feeling aggrieved about the rewrite anyway, made his views very clear in The Chess Amateur.

Mr. W. Ward has been guilty of two offences: discreditable conduct in taking without leave or acknowledgement the work of other men; defacing their work by his clumsy, muddling, alterations.

The proper title of Mr. Ward’s work is “The British Chess Code mutilated and marred by W. Ward”.

It sounds like the clergyman was accusing the lawyer of plagiarism. Could you imagine any other leading chess player taking without leave or acknowledgement the work of other men? Well, perhaps you could!

The whole affair, including a copy of the offending Laws, is documented by Edward Winter here. It seems to me that the BCF would have been better appointing someone who could write plain English rather than writing in legalese!

Ward didn’t take part in the 1911-12 City of London Club Championship, but returned for their Diamond Jubilee Championship the following season.

There was a large entry, split into three groups, with the top three in each group qualifying for the final pool.

Ward finished in third place, behind George Alan Thomas and Harold Godfrey Cole, winning £10 for his pains, along with a brilliancy prize of five guineas for the game below. The fourth placed player was Edward, who was living in London at the time, not his distant cousin Emanuel.

In this game, facing what was at the time his favourite opening, Ward displayed positional acumen in playing against his opponent’s isolated d-pawn, and then tactical skill in switching to a kingside attack.

This was to be William Ward’s last appearance in the City of London Championship, although the event continued through the First World War. Perhaps his legal business left him little time for chess on weekday evenings. He did continue to play in county matches, however, which also continued in spite of the hostilities.

This game comes from a county match from 1919. Ward was awarded the full point by the adjudicator.

As it turned out, this was to be one of William Ward’s last games. A few months later he was struck down by illness – which sadly turned out to be a brain tumour. He died in hospital on 16 October 1920 at the age of 53. Here’s his obituary from the British Chess Magazine.

We didn’t get very much more the following month: just the Davidson game given above.

Here’s his probate record.

16 King Street would also have been a work address, about 25 minutes walk away from Raymond Buildings along Holborn, passing the Old Bailey and St Paul’s Cathedral on the way. His effects would be worth about £130,000 now. Probate was granted to his two brothers.

Tragically, William’s father would have to bury two of his sons. Mark died in February 1922, leaving a wife and four children, the oldest of whom also died just a few hours later. William senior lived on until 1926, while his youngest son George, who married and had one son, died in Harpenden in 1945. In the same town, at about the same time, Howard James, from Leicester, serving in the Royal Artillery, was introduced to Betty Smith, whose family had advised her to move from Teddington to avoid the bombs, by a mutual friend. But that’s another story.

And that concludes my investigation into the life of William Ward, unjustly forgotten today. His best games are, I think pretty impressive for their time, and, had he started earlier and chosen the life of a professional chess player, he had the natural ability to scale the heights.

Next time I play chess at Richmond Chess Club, I’ll think of William and hope his talent will inspire my play.

Join me again soon to meet some more Richmond Chess Club members from the first years of the 20th century.

Acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

Wikipedia

BritBase

EdoChess (Ward’s page here)

British Chess Magazine

The City of London Chess Club Championship (Roger Leslie Paige): thanks to Paul McKeown for the book.