Category Archives: History

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.

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

Wikipedia

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 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

 

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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.

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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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.

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Minor Pieces 35: William Ward Part 2

Last time we left William Ward at the time of the 1901 census, where he was staying overnight with one Isidore Wiener.

As we know he played for Richmond at the end of 1902, was he living in our part of London at that time?

But before that, in April 1902 William Ward played a match against rising American star Frank Marshall, who was visiting London at the time. The two players had met the previous year in the Anglo-American Cable Match, where Ward was successful. In this match, however, Marshall won four games to Ward’s two. The American was noted for his attacking skills but in this game he had no answer to his opponent’s kingside attack. (As usual, you can click on any move and a pop-up window will appear, enabling you to play through the game.)

This season also witnessed William Ward’s first success in the City of London Chess Club Championship. It appears that he and Thomas Francis Lawrence shared first place, but that Ward won the play-off.

In  the summer of 1904 Ward played a match in London against George Edward Wainwright, winning by a score of 5½-3½.

In this game Wainwright had the better of the opening, but, playing too fast, perhaps, miscalculated on moves 30 and 31, giving Ward the chance of a crisp finish.

The inaugural British Chess Championships took place in Hastings in 1904, giving masters an amateurs alike the chance for a two week summer chess holiday. William Ward didn’t play that year, but was selected for the Championship in Southport the following year.

Ward started slowly, losing his first three games, followed by a draw with Blackburne, before winning six in a row, finishing with a draw against Atkins, who ran out the clear winner on 8½/11. Ward’s score of 7 points was enough for a share of second place with another forgotten player, Charles Hugh Sherrard.

In this game he again demonstrates his affinity with the Queen’s Gambit.

The 1905-6 edition of the City of London Chess Club Championship was another big success for William Ward, his score of 10½/13 putting him two points clear of the field.

By now he had developed notable skill in building up a slow attack from a closed position. He missed the chance of a brilliancy in this game, but his opponent gave him another, simpler, opportunity a few moves later.

At some point round about 1905 Ward seems to have moved to North London, joining the Hampstead Chess Club, for whom he played successfully in the London League in the 1905-6 season. You can see him here, second from the right in the row of gentlemen seated on chairs.

British Chess Magazine May 1906

The summer of 1906 was quiet: perhaps he was too busy with his legal work to take part in the British Championships in Shrewsbury. In the 1906-7 City of London Championship he failed to repeat the previous year’s success, sharing 3rd place behind the runaway winner George Edward Wainwright, with Hector William Shoosmith in second place.

William Ward didn’t have far to travel for the 1907 British Championships, which took place in Crystal Palace, but he failed to repeat his success of two years previously: this time he only managed 3½/11, sharing the tournament basement.

The 1907-8 championship of the City of London club provided a hat trick for players associated with Richmond Chess Club. Thomas Francis Lawrence won, with Ward and Wainwright taking the places.

In this game Ward experimented with what would much later become known as the Taimanov Variation of the Sicilian Defence, winning when his opponent failed to refute his unsound combination.

The 1908 British Championship took place in Tunbridge Wells, and, despite his result the previous year, he was again selected for the championship itself.

In the first two rounds Ward scored 2/2 with the Sicilian Dragon. It’s clear from this, admittedly not entirely accurate, game that he was well aware of the latent power of the fianchettoed bishop.

British Championship, Tunbridge Wells, round 7, 17 August 1908: from left to right Isidor Gunsberg, vs Francis Lee (W), William Ward (W) vs Henry Atkins, and Joseph Blackburne vs Reginald Michell (W). Photo from BCM, Sept 1908, p372

This was the game which, in some ways, defined William Ward’s life. He exceeded the time limit on move 19 (the first time control was, strange as it might seem by today’s standards, on move 20) in a clearly better position. Atkins eventually won the title, finishing on 8/11, with Ward in second place on 6½/11. If he’d won the game, the title would have been his. Unlucky: perhaps he was distracted by the photographer!

The 1908-9 City of London Championship gave Ward his third title with an impressive score of 15/17 (no draws!), including wins over his nearest rivals, Blake, Wainwright and Edward Guthlac Sergeant, all players connected at some time in their lives with the Kingston area.

The 1909 British Championships took place in Scarborough: Atkins and Blake shared first place on 8½/11, with the Leicester born schoolmaster Atkins winning the tie-break. William Ward took third place a point behind, again, losing a game on time on move 19, this time against Blake. Admittedly on this occasion he stood rather worse. One wonders what was the reason for his problems with clock handling in these games.

Here’s a long and exciting game against the young Fred Yates, in which he opened 1. e4 with White and met 1. e4 with e5 rather than the Sicilian.

As we move towards 1910 we can summarise William Ward’s chess career up to this point.

Now 42 years old, he was generally recognised as one of the strongest players in the country, having represented his country in five Anglo-American cable matches, having played four times in the British Championship, finishing in second place twice and in third place once, and having won the prestigious City of London Chess Club Championship on four occasions.

He played regularly for Middlesex, and occasionally for other counties, his home county of Hertfordshire, and also appearing on occasion for Kent and Sussex. As well as playing regularly for City of London he represented a number of other clubs: Richmond, Hampstead and West London, for example, as well as the National Liberal Club: was that an indication of his political views, I wonder?

He was increasingly being called upon to give talks and simultaneous displays, so seems to have been a well respected member of the chess community as well as a formidable player.

Rod Edwards’ retrospective 1909 rating list makes interesting reading: the leading English players, according to his calculations (and excluding the English-born Horatio Caro, who played most of his chess in Germany) were:

21. Atkins 2508
28. Burn 2485
56. Ward 2428
66. Richmond 2411
69. Blackburne 2405
79. Yates 2392
88. Blake 2384
92. Thomas 2379
101. Lawrence 2375
102 Gunsberg 2374
104 Shoosmith 2371
108 Wainwright 2362
120 Griffith 2354
123 Wahltuch 2353
131 Michell 2350

The veterans Burn, Blackburne and Gunsberg had been world class players in their day, but their peak had been back in the 1880s. Yates and Thomas, on the other hand, would only reach their peak in the 1920s.

The unfamiliar name here might be George William Richmond, at this point about to move to Scotland, who was strong but played in very few competitions.

Join me next time to find out what happened next to William Ward in the last of this series of articles.

Acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

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.

Graham Stuart for information on Ward’s games against Hampshire.

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Minor Pieces 34: William Ward Part 1

Here’s some hot news from Redhill Chess Club, just 120 years ago.

Surrey Mirror 16 December 1902

There are a few interesting things to note here. At this time, Surrey League matches, just like the London League today, took place at central London venues, rather than on a home and away basis.

You’ll also spot that, as so often in their matches at this time, Richmond failed to field a full team. They frequently either had a couple of absentees at the bottom or a couple of nominated players who failed to turn up.

The impression I get is that the club was very ambitious, choosing to play in the Surrey Trophy against stronger opposition rather than the calmer waters of the Beaumont Cup. Their administrative skills, though, didn’t seem to match their ambitions. Chess clubs (and, no doubt most other clubs as well) are as good as their organisers, not as good as their players.

Regular readers will already have met Thomas Etheridge Harper and Charles Redway, and heard a brief mention of club founder Horace Lyddon Pring, but there are other members of this team who are of interest.

In particular, there’s a new name playing on top board, although he was probably losing his game against Leonard Percy Rees, one of the most important figures in early 20th century English chess and one well worth a future Minor Piece.

In the first decade of the 20th century there were a lot of strong British amateurs with retrospective ratings round about 2300-2400, so, by today’s standards, FM to IM strength. They rarely if ever played in major international tournaments so, except for those of us who spend much of our time in the dusty recesses of old books and magazines, or perhaps visiting BritBase, their names are largely forgotten today.

As it happens, many of these players had links with our area, West and South West London. You’ve already met George Edward Wainwright here, here, here and here.  Now I must introduce you to William Ward.

Researching him isn’t so easy. Cursed with one of the most popular male first names of his day, no middle names and a very common surname, any search for W Ward will turn up much of no relevance. In addition he came from a small family which has been little researched by genealogists: the few online trees I’ve been able to find don’t mention any chess connection and, if they give it at all, get his mother’s maiden name wrong.

Our William, 35 years old at the time of the above match, was born on 3 March 1867 in Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, just north of Watford and now a large commuter village, and baptised there on 18 April the same year.

The 1871 census finds the Ward family there. William Ward senior is aged 27, a farmer of 184 acres employing 4 men and a boy, Ann (née Barford) is aged 26 and their two sons are William (4) and Mark (1). The family also have two servants. The parents were both born in Hatfield (the enumerator incorrectly recorded their sons as having been born there as well) and must have moved to Abbots Langley after their marriage. A third son, George Langton Ward, would be born early the following year. The family would later move to the Luton area, first to the small village of King’s Walden, and then to Lewsey, now a Luton suburb alongside the M1.

By 1881 young William is at boarding school in London: he’s recorded at 7 Highgate Road Kentish Town along with a Schoolmaster and a lot of other boys, including, exotically, three brothers from Quito (none of them, sadly, named Amos).

While his brothers followed in their father’s footsteps, pursuing a career in farming, William took a different route.  The 1891 census finds him, now aged 24, living in a boarding house at 50 Finsbury Park Road in North London, not all that far from Kentish Town, and working as a solicitor.

At some point in the mid 1880s, then, he must have studied Law, and perhaps, at the same time, taken up the game of chess. We first find him in 1890 playing in the 3rd class in a handicap tournament at Simpson’s Divan, which tells us he wasn’t a strong player. No child prodigy, then, but a young man who was attracted to the game, and, over the next few years, would discover a real talent.

Ward made rapid strides during the 1890s, soon playing matches for the famous City of London club (in their 1894-5 championship he reached the final stages) and taking part in representative matches for the South of England against the North.

His first external tournament was the Southern Counties Chess Union (SCCU) Championship in Southampton in 1897. Henry Ernest Atkins was a convincing winner on 8½/10, while William’s score of 4/10 was relatively modest, but no disgrace for a newcomer to chess at this level.

In the 1897-8 edition of the City of London Championship Ward finished in third place behind Thomas Francis Lawrence and Lucien Serraillier: by now he was clearly one of the capital’s strongest players.

In this game he demonstrates excellent opening knowledge, capping a fine performance with some sparkling tactics to force through a passed pawn. (If you click on any move in any game in this article a pop-up board will magically appear, enabling you to play through the game.)

The following year, the SCCU Championship in Salisbury was a very different story from the previous year. William shared 1st place with Joseph Henry Blake on 7½/10, with strong players such as Gunston, Bellingham, Loman and Sherrard trailing in their wake.

In this exciting drawn game, against the Dutch organist Rudolf Loman, both players displayed extensive awareness of contemporary theory in the very sharp Max Lange Attack. Ward had the better of the early exchanges but, in a very complex middlegame failed to make the most of his chances. The knight ending was still difficult for both players, and here Loman missed an opportunity.

The 1898-9 City of London Championship proved a slight disappointment when he narrowly failed to make the final pool, but the 1899-1900 edition, held again as an all-play-all, was a different story. Lawrence was the winner on 14½/17, with Ward just half a point behind and the rest nowhere.

In 1900 William made his international debut, being selected to play in the 5th Anglo-American Cable Match, where he drew his game against Charles John Newman.

Rod Edwards’ retrospective ratings for 1900 put him on 2397, ranked 74th in the world.

A few days later he took part in an invitation tournament run by the City of London club, in which their members took on a bunch of international players based in London at the time. As you’ll see here, he scored an outstanding 8½/12, just behind Teichmann (9½), Mason and Gunsberg (9). While the winner hadn’t yet reached his peak and the runners-up were past their best, they were all genuine grandmasterly players. He was particularly devastating against the weaker competitors.

By now he was using the increasingly popular Queen’s Gambit with the white pieces, an opening which suited his style of controlled aggression perfectly.

Here he found himself with an IQP position out of the opening: understanding this pawn formation is still of vital importance to all serious competitive players today.

Against the artist and pianist Thomas Physick (from a family of sculptors) he chose a delayed exchange variation: another pawn formation which still plays a critical role in 21st century chess.

William Ward was again amongst the medals in the 1900-01 City of London Championship. Lawrence won again, with Herbert Levi Jacobs taking the silver and Ward the bronze. Edward Bagehot Schwann, coming to the end of his short life, was among the also-rans.

By now it was time for the census enumerator to call again. What we find is rather intriguing. William was in Kenley, Surrey, east of Coulsdon and south of Purley, visiting Isidore Wiener, a 41-year-old unmarried Hide Merchant’s Factor born in Holland but a British Subject. Also in the household were a housekeeper and a servant.

I’ve recently become interested in the significance of the word ‘visitor’ in census returns. Your census address is where you’re staying overnight. If you’re being paid to be there you’ll be described as a ‘servant’ or something similar. If you’re paying to be there you’ll be a ‘boarder’ or a ‘lodger’. A ‘visitor’ will often be a family member, but there might be other reasons. I can find no evidence that Isidore was a chess player, so perhaps he had some complicated legal business which required his solicitor to stay overnight. Perhaps they were just good friends. Who knows?

Anyway, in 1906 Isidore married 40-year-old Annie Sonnex (interesting surname) from Lancashire, continuing to live, now with his wife, in Kenley. A very late first marriage for both partners. They had their only child, a daughter named Albertine, a year later. In 1918, like many families with Germanic surnames at the time, they changed their name from Wiener to Winner. Albertine became a Winner in more ways than one, as you’ll see here.

And then we reach 1902, when we find William playing for Richmond Chess Club against Redhill. Had he moved to the Richmond area? Or did he have friends in the club who invited him to join and play in matches in central London? At present I don’t know.

It looks like he never owned his own property, living in lodgings and moving round various parts of London. I can find no further reference to Ward in association with Richmond Chess Club, but it’s quite possible that there may be more information online once the Richmond & Twickenham Times is digitised.

You’ll find out what happened to William Ward after 1902 in my next Minor Piece.

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

MegaBase 2022 (analysis by Stockfish 15)

Britbase

EdoChess (William Ward’s page here.)

The City of London Chess Club Championship (Roger Leslie Paige 2005)

Other websites referenced in the text.

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Minor Pieces 33: Charles Redway

If you’re travelling by train to visit the Chess Palace you’ll alight at Whitton station and turn left from where it’s a fine and fancy 20 minute walk – or you can take the crosstown bus if it’s raining or it’s cold.

If you turn right instead you’ll find yourself in Whitton High Street, with a turning into Bridge Way (named after the railway bridge, not the card game) on your right. If you walk along Bridge Way you’ll find two turnings on your left, Cypress Avenue and Short Way (not named after Nigel, but because it’s a short way), which leads into Redway Drive. Not many of its residents will be aware that it’s named after a chess player.

Much of what is now Whitton was built up in the interwar years on land which had previously been farms and market gardens. Twickenham’s international rugby stadium was known informally as Billy Williams’ Cabbage Patch because a man of that name had grown vegetables there. This explains the name of the Cabbage Patch pub opposite Twickenham Station, well known both as a rugby pub and a music venue.

The exception was the land adjacent to the Hounslow Gunpowder Mills, which is where you’ll find the Chess Palace, but that’s another story.

In this aerial photograph from 1931 you can see the railway line, the newly opened Whitton Station, the first shops in the High Street and, in the centre, Short Way, leading to Redway Drive, with trees behind it. It meets Nelson Road on the left and, at the junction with Short Way, curves to the right where it would, by 1933, meet the A316 Great Chertsey Road. The rugby ground can be seen in the distance.

Mr Redway gave his name not just to the road but to the whole estate, as you can see from this photograph from a few years later.

Here’s the road itself: typical 1930s suburban architecture, newly planted trees and a notable shortage of cars.

Here’s a cutting from, I guess, the mid 1930s: found on Facebook without attribution but probably from the Richmond & Twickenham Times. Typically, the local press got Mr Redway’s middle initial wrong: he was Charles Percy Redway (1885-1953).

Redway was a stockbroker by profession who had presumably bought up the land speculatively and sold it for housing. Perhaps the proceeds had enabled him and his family to move from St Margaret’s Road Twickenham to Grove House, Hampton in 1927. Very nice too. Lucky chap!

Back in his teens, Charles Percy was a chess player, but as with many young players, life got in the way. In 1904 he was a member of Richmond Chess Club, taking part in matches between the residents of East Sheen and the rest. Here’s an example in which he was successful.

Surrey Comet 05 March 1904

These, I’d imagine, were more social events than serious matches: the players on the higher boards were also seen in competitive matches against other clubs, but the lower boards, such as young Charles Percy Redway, gained experience from events such as this. His opponent here may have been Herbert Ereault, a bank clerk from Jersey, only three years his senior.

But Charles Percy Redway isn’t the real subject of this article: his father, plain Charles Redway, was a much stronger player, from a family involved in various chess related activities.

Charles Redway senior had been born in Paddington in the fourth quarter of 1861. His father, another Charles, had been born in Teignmouth, Devon and his mother, Mary Ann Richardson, near Corby in Northamptonshire. It looks like they had met while working in service in London. We can pick up our protagonist in the 1871 census: the family are living in Chelsea where his father is working as a butler. He is the second of five children at home: a sixth child would arrive later. By 1881 the oldest Charles is buttling for Scottish poet, biographer and translator Sir Theodore Martin in Onslow Square, Kensington, while Mary Ann is in the family home in Bywater Street, a 15 minute walk away, along with her father and six children: George, the eldest is a Publisher’s Assistant while Charles is a clerk and the only daughter, Mary Jane, a dressmaker.

The Redway family was clearly bookish as well as chess playing. Did this come from within the family or was their love of books inspired by Sir Theo? Where did the family’s love of chess come from?

Charles married Emily Jones in 1884 and by 1891 they were living in Elm Road, Mortlake, just round the corner from where you’ll now find the East Sheen branch of Waitrose, along with their four young sons (Charles Percy was the oldest), a 14-year-old domestic servant and Emily’s younger sister Ida. Charles’s occupation is given as an Assurance Clerk: he was employed by the Prudential Assurance Company.

At some point in this decade he joined the young and ambitious Richmond Chess Club. His first sighting in the chess world seems to be in an 1896 match over 100 boards between teams representing the North and South of the Thames. Charles was on board 38, winning his game against a reserve, T A Bedford.

Norwood News 07 May 1898

Here he is playing board 2 behind Thomas Etheridge Harper in a Surrey Trophy match against Battersea in 1898. Richmond were well beaten, not helped by a default, something that was only too common in their matches at this time. Their ambition in taking on top clubs like Battersea in the Surrey Trophy, when they could have opted for less demanding opposition in the Beaumont Cup, seems not to have been matched by their competence in making sure all their players turned up.

You’ll find an excellent article about the Battersea board 3 William Philip Plummer here on their club website, and more about their club history here.

The 1901 census is interesting. Charles is still in the same job, living with his wife, six sons and a daughter, along with a domestic servant. Charles Percy is working as a Jewellery Merchant’s Clerk. They’ve moved along the road towards Richmond, though: their address is given as 134 Sheen Road (here on Google Maps, assuming the house numbers haven’t changed).

There, at the top of the same page, are Philip and Harriet Harper, and the previous page reveals that they’re the children of Thomas Etheridge Harper, who was living just round the corner from Charles Redway.

Perhaps it was Thomas who introduced Charles to Richmond Chess Club. You’d imagine they’d have got together to play chess on a regular basis, maybe, as was the habit in those days, over a glass of brandy and a fine cigar.

Over the next few years, he continued to play for Richmond on a high board, sometimes even on board 1, as well as being recorded turning up to club AGMs.

Here’s a game from the 1903 Surrey County Challenge Cup (presumably the county individual championship) against the artist Sir Wyke Bayliss. The opening was interesting: a Fried Liver Attack with an extra move for White. Black was able to play an immediate c6 so it’s not entirely clear whether or not White benefitted from the extra tempo. Anyway, Redway misplayed the attack and lost fairly quickly. (If you click on any move, a pop-up window will appear enabling you to play through the game.)

The British Championships took place for the first time in 1904, giving many amateurs the opportunity for a two week chess playing summer holiday. Charles took part in the First Class B tournament in Southport in 1905, scoring 4½/11, a pretty respectable result. He tried again at Tunbridge Wells in 1908, but his result in the First Class A tournament was a disappointing 2½/11. (Note that the A and B tournaments were parallel and of the same strength.) To be fair, this was a pretty strong tournament: the winner was Georg Schories, a German master resident in England who wasn’t eligible for the championship, and the young Fred Dewhirst Yates shared 4th place.

Earlier in 1908, Charles had taken part in a simultaneous display at Surbiton Chess Club against World Champion Emanuel Lasker, emerging with a highly creditable draw.

EdoChess estimates his rating as round about 2000: a strong club player but not of master standard.

One of their sons, Montague, had died in his teens in 1906, and, the following year, the family moved to Dryburgh Road, Putney, very close to Marc Bolan’s Rock Shrine.  They’d remain for the rest of their lives. He continued to play up to the mid 1920s, for Ibis Chess Club in London, and in county matches for Surrey. The Ibis Chess Club was part of the Ibis Sports Club, for employees of the Prudential Assurance Company and particularly noted for its rowing. There are very few records concerning Richmond Chess Club available for this period (we should find out more once the Richmond & Twickenham Times is digitised), but perhaps he continued playing for Richmond as well.

He didn’t play in the 1912 British Championships in Richmond,  but he did take part in a simul against visiting American champion Frank Marshall, winning his game.

Very little competitive chess took place during the First World War, but he returned to the board in 1919, playing in a 40-board simul against Capablanca in Thornton Heath. His club affiliation was given as Richmond rather than Putney, confirming that, in spite of moving out of the immediate area, he was still a member of Richmond Chess Club.

In 1934, with their family name now famous in Whitton, Charles and Emily celebrated their Golden Wedding. The report in the local press provides some interesting detail about Charles’s wide range of interests.

South Western Star 02 March 1934

It’s sad that Charles was unable to take part in the festivities. He died just over a year later, on 7 March 1935. Emily survived another 21 years, into her 90s, outliving four of her sons and remaining at home until the end.

Charles wasn’t the only one of his siblings interested in chess, although he appears to have been the only active player.

Readers of a certain age may recall a London chess book shop called Frank Hollings. One of Charles’s brothers, William Edward Redway (1865-1946), ran the business for about 40 years until his death, selling and occasionally publishing chess books. Edward Winter provides some information in this fascinating article.

Another brother, George William Redway (1859-1934), was also a bookseller and publisher, specialising in books on the occult. An announcement was made in 1895 that he was going to publish Lasker’s book Common Sense in Chess, but the arrangement, if indeed there was one, seems to have fallen through. The American edition was published by the New Amsterdam Book Company in 1895 and the European edition jointly by Bellairs & Co London, Mayer & Müller Berlin and the British Chess Company the following year.

You might wonder whether any current residents of Redway Drive are aware of the Redway family and their chess connections. Perhaps two of them are: when visiting the Chess Palace a few years ago, noted chess historian Jimmy Adams told me that his sister and her husband lived in Redway Drive (her husband is a rugby fan and wanted to be near Twickenham Stadium).

Here’s what the road looks like in 2022.

Photograph: Richard James

It’s a bit different, 90 years on from the photograph at the beginning of this article.

Photograph: Richard James

Here you have it – the road, and estate, named after Charles Percy Redway, whose father was one of our great predecessors in the early years of Richmond Chess Club. Join me again soon for some more Richmond Chess Club members from the first decade of the last century.

Acknowledgements and sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

‘Whitton Memories’ Facebook group

Wikipedia

Twickenham Museum website

britainfromabove.org.uk

chessgames.com

BritBase

EdoChess

Chess Notes (Edward Winter)

Lyrics from At the Zoo (Paul Simon)

 

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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

 

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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.

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#

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