Category Archives: History

Minor Pieces 59: Eric Harold Patrick (1)

For a few years in the mid 1930s a remarkable story was playing out in Leicestershire chess. The boys from Desford Approved School, who had been sent there from all over the country having fallen foul of the law, were taking part in the Under 16 section of the county chess championship, dominating the event, winning game after game against their law-abiding contemporaries, and even beating adult teams in the county league.

I wanted to find out more about the lives of some of the Desford boys (the titular Eric was their star player), and about the men who chose to promote chess as an activity for these boys from troubled backgrounds. This article looks mainly at the latter: a future article will consider the former.

First, a bit of history. The Leicester Industrial School for Boys, Desford opened in January 1881. Boys were sent there for all sorts of reasons: some had been in trouble, some were destitute and wandering the streets, some were living in brothels, some were sent there by their parents because they were out of control at home. While there they would be subject to strict discipline as well as learning a trade to help them find employment on their release.

One such boy, beyond his father’s control, was Tom Harry James, who was there from January 1904, when he was 12 years old, until October 1907. His father was expected to pay his expenses, but seemed reluctant to do so.

Leicester Chronicle 22 October 1904

The young miscreant would live a long and colourful life, dying in Yakima, Washington in 1980, but that’s a story for another time and place. How do I know this? Tom Harry James was one of my father’s half brothers. Tom Harry senior and his first wife had twelve children, and after she died he remarried, producing another six children. My father, Howard James, the youngest of them, was born in 1919.

It was now January 1917, and time for a new chairman to be appointed to Desford Industrial School. The man elected was Sydney Ansell Gimson (it’s pronounced Jimson), a local councillor representing the Liberal Party and a member of a prominent Leicester family.

In 1842, Josiah Gimson and his brother Benjamin started an engineering firm in Leicester. Josiah was a man of progressive views: a supporter of Robert Owen‘s socialist ideas and a secularist, founding the Leicester Secular Society, which is still active today. Sydney, born in 1860, was the oldest son of Josiah’s second marriage, and, although he was also sympathetic towards his mother’s unitarian views, played an important role in the Secular Society. At first, he was anti-union, however, being more interested in the concept of the individual, but seems to have changed his opinion later in life. He worked for some time in the family business,  but, not needing the money, retired early in order to devote the remainder of his life to public service.

Here’s Sydney, photographed in 1904.

From The Who’s Who of Radical Leicester (Ned Newitt)

You can read more about both Josiah and Sydney in Ned Newitt’s Who’s Who of Radical Leicester here, and about the family business here (Wiki) and here (Story of Leicester).

Some of his brothers were also of interest. His older half-brother, Josiah Mentor Gimson, also worked for his father. One of JM Gimson’s sons, Christopher, played first class cricket for Cambridge University in 1908, and again for Leicestershire in 1921 when on extended leave from the Indian Civil Service. His 1975 obituary in Wisden described him as ‘an attacking batsman and a fine outfield’. Another of his sons, David, was the first chairman of the Leicestershire Contract Bridge Association on its formation in 1946. A competition for a trophy bearing his name was competed for at least up to 2019.

The most important member of the family, though, was Sydney’s younger brother Ernest William Gimson. Ernest met William Morris at the Secular Society, and soon joined forces with him, working as a furniture designer and architect, being very much involved in the Arts and Crafts movement. If you’re interested in this sort of thing, you’ll find a lot more of interest via your favourite search engine. If you’ve got £50 to spare you could also buy this book.

The Leicester Secular Society has a feature on the Gimson family here. You might want to follow some of their other links and look around other pages of their website.

Meanwhile, back at Desford Industrial School it was now 1921. There was a vacancy for a new Superintendent. Sydney wanted someone who shared his progressive views on education: the right man for the job was 31 year old Cecil John Wagstaff Lane, the son of a farmer and innkeeper from Melton Mowbray, who was already working there as the Chief Assistant. The 1921 census found him settled in with his wife Dora and daughter Joan, along with other staff members and more than 200 boys from all over the country. As well as boys from Leicester, many of them were from other parts of the Midlands, London and Yorkshire, especially Hull. By now they would have been sent there by magistrates who would decide to which institution the young offenders up before them should be sent.

Sydney was very much in the ‘nurture’ camp, believing that most of the young offenders were victims of family circumstances, and, if they were treated well, would grow up to lead useful lives and become law-abiding members of society. He found an ally in Cecil Lane, and, despite the 30 year gap in their ages, the two men became firm friends. Cecil introduced a less punitive regime, running Desford along the lines of an English Public School. There were four houses: Red, White, Blue and Green, each with a house master who acted as a surrogate father to the boys. Much emphasis was placed on sport, with regular visits from top class players and competitions against other schools in the area. The most popular sport there was boxing: the school’s annual boxing competition, held over the New Year period, became a big local event, attended enthusiastically by the great and good of Leicester society.

Looking at the newspaper sports columns in the inter-war years it’s notable how popular boxing was, and also how often the professionals fought.

If boxing was the Desford boys’ favourite sport, the other sport which played a very big part in their lives was, perhaps unexpectedly, chess. Cecil Lane and Sydney Gimson don’t appear to have been competitive players themselves, but it’s clear they both enjoyed the game and had the foresight to realise how much it could benefit the boys in their care.

You might think they missed a trick by failing to invent chessboxing, but that’s something we’ll leave aside for now.

By 1925 word was going round that chess was becoming popular within the school.

Leicester Daily Mercury 16 December 1925
Leicester Daily Mercury 18 December 1925

Gimson and Lane might not have been club players (and here’s Sydney losing to one of his pupils), but they knew someone who was. Councillor Frederick Chappin, a member of the Conservative Party, was a political opponent of Sydney Gimson, but a friend who not only shared his interest but had been a competitive player in the county league going right back to the 1880s, on at least one occasion playing on board 2 behind none other than the great Henry Ernest Atkins.

By 1927 the boys needed more demanding opposition and county champion Victor Hextall Lovell, Leicester’s strongest player at the time (you’ll meet him in a future Minor Piece) was invited to give a simultaneous display. Lovell’s father was a former Mayor of Leicester and, like Frederick Chappin, a Conservative Councillor.

Leicester Daily Mercury 10 February 1927

Lovell returned during the 1929-30 Christmas holidays, and was emphatic that the standard of play had improved since his previous visit.

Desford School celebrated its jubilee in 1931, and this article outlines some of the changes Lane had made since his appointment as Superintendent.

Leicester Evening Mail 24 February 1931

The 1933 Children and Young Persons Act renamed Industrial Schools as Approved Schools, so Desford was now Desford Approved School. However, the school always preferred to be referred to locally simply as Desford School or Desford Boys’ School to avoid stigmatising the pupils. At this point children could remain there until the age of 16.

As you saw last time, Leicester was a pioneer in junior chess, amongst many other things. In January the first county boys’ championship took place in two sections, which appeared to be Under 18 and Under 16. The Desford boys were keen to take part, six entering in the senior and six in the junior section. Other schools represented were Wyggeston, for many years Leicester’s leading academic secondary school, Alderman Newton, also classified as a ‘Public School’ at the time, City Boys and Moat Road.

Unfortunately it’s not possible to identify all the Desford chess players as only initials and surname were given in the local press. In some cases the boys also took part in the annual boxing tournament, where the press gave their full names. Although the Leicestershire Records Office holds admission records, they are not able to release them due to data protection legislation, and, as we’ve seen, the boys might have come from anywhere in the country. Having an unusual surname was of course helpful.

As you’ll see, the Desford boys were pretty successful in their first competitive outing.

Leicester Daily Mercury 08 January 1934

On a sad note, the winner of the senior section, Keith Dear, died four years later at the age of just 20.

There, winning the junior section and representing Desford (Approved) School, was Eric Harold Patrick, whose life we can reconstruct, although we don’t know why he was there.

He had been born on 23 August 1921 in Cannock, Staffordshire, the oldest of five children of Harold and Lily Patrick, who had married that January when they were both only 19. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Leicester, Lily’s home town. At the time of his success, then, he was only 12 years old, competing against boys who were a year or two older than him, and attending the city’s most prestigious secondary schools.

When Sydney Gimson came to present his annual report to the education committee a few months later, young Eric’s chess success was the item which elicited the most interest.

Leicester Evening Mail 24 April 1934

Gimson also revealed that he had played two games against Eric, both players winning one game.

There was another administrative change. From now on, boys had to leave Desford at 15 rather than 16. Sydney wasn’t impressed, as he told the school prizegiving. For some reason this was reported in the Women’s column of the local paper.

Leicester Evening Mail 03 July 1934

You’ll see that the school only awarded four prizes – and the fewer prizes you award, the more they’ll be valued. The most public spirited boy, the boy who was best at sports, the captain of the winning house – and the best chess player. A demonstration, I think, of the respect in which chess was held at Desford at the time.

By the end of the year it was time for the 1935 edition of the county junior championship. As boys now left Desford at 15 they were only represented in the junior section.

The local newspapers’ sports correspondents were invited along to have a look.

Leicester Daily Mercury 01 January 1935
Leicester Daily Mercury 02 January 1935
Leicester Chronicle 05 January 1935

There was also a photographer present.

Leicester Daily Mercury 01 January 1935

One paper even sent along their cartoonist: Eric Patrick was one of his subjects.

Leicester Daily Mercury 02 January 1935

The results of the junior section were remarkable. All five of the preliminary sections were won by Desford boys, Eric Patrick retaining his title with a 100% score. Don’t forget that these were young offenders from difficult family backgrounds winning game after game against boys from top academic schools.

Needless to say, Eric again won the school chess prize as well. At the prizegiving, Cecil Lane blamed poor housing and large families on the boys’ problems.

Leicester Daily Mercury 02 July 1935

Later that year, the school entered a team into the third division of the Leicestershire Chess League, where they were playing against adult club teams as well as other school teams.

By December they were in second place, having won two and drawn one of their first three matches.

Leicester Daily Mercury 05 December 1935

As the New Year approached, the county boys’ championships came round again. As in the previous year, seven Desford boys took part in the junior section, with Eric Patrick aiming for his third successive title. This time they didn’t have it all their own way, with only two of their players, including Eric, making the final four. He even lost a game in the final pool before regaining the Silver Rook.

Again, we have a photograph.

Leicester Daily Mercury 31 December 1935

Leicester Daily Mercury 22 April 1936

The school team continued to do well in the league. In these two matches they beat the early league leaders (Alfred Urban Busby was a more than useful player, beating Alekhine in a 1936 simul and, in 1989, a year before his death, losing a postal game to Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club’s Michael Franklin), with the aid of two defaults, but lost to the second team from the Cripples Guild.

Here are the final league tables, with King Richard’s Road defaulting two matches. If their two opponents were awarded 6-0 victories, that would leave Desford Boys sharing second place.

Leicester Evening Mail 20 May 1936

Eric Patrick was now 15, and would have left Desford School that summer to make his way in the world. He continued playing chess, now representing YMCA in the league, and taking part in the senior section of the junior championships at the end of the year.

There was also a change in the Leicestershire League: they decided to run a separate schools division rather than allowing them to play against the adult clubs. For whatever reason, I don’t know, and, again for whatever reason, Desford didn’t enter the league for the 1936-37 season.

In the 1936-37 boys’ championships, Eric Patrick reached the final pool of the senior section but didn’t quite manage to win the title. The best Desford player in the junior section was Richard Kelsey, who finished in second place.

But the school would soon be hit by tragedy.

Cecil Lane’s wife Dora had died in April 1936. He needed some domestic help and his friend Sydney knew just the right person. Sydney had two sons, Basil and Humphrey. Basil was married to Alice Muriel Goodman: whose relation Nora would be ideal for the job.

Nora soon became rather more than a housekeeper, and, in September 1937, she and Cecil became man and wife.

Leicester Daily Mercury 09 September 1937

As Mr RT Goodman had died more than a year before Nora was born, I suspect that the older lady in the photograph may have been her grandmother, not her mother, and that Nora was actually the illegitimate daughter of Alice’s sister Winifred. Was she aware?

And was Cecil aware that his brother Roderick died in hospital on the same day?

Anyway, the newly wed couple headed off to Scotland for their honeymoon. While there, Cecil was taken ill At first he seemed to be recovering, but then he took a turn for the worse, and, only 11 days after their marriage, Nora was left a widow.

Leicester Daily Mercury 21 September 1937

Desford were still well represented in the younger section of the 1937-38 edition of the county junior championship (now no longer ‘Boys’ following the entry of Betty and Joan Ferrar, whom you met last time), with Hubert Cookland reaching the final pool and Norman Bass just missing out after a play-off.

There was more sad news on 4 November 1938, with the death of Sydney Ansell Gimson at the age of 78. The Leicester Mercury described him as a ‘Noted Leicester Rationalist and Public Man’.

Leicester Daily Mercury 05 November 1938

You can also read an online biography here.

That, sadly, seems to have been the end of competitive chess at Desford Approved School. They appear not to have been represented in the 1938-39 county junior championships. Cecil and Sydney’s successors, I presume, didn’t share their interest in chess. Then, of course, war intervened. Some of the boys and young men who had been engaged in friendly combat over the chessboard, or, at least in the case of the Desford pupils, in the boxing ring, would soon be drawn into a very different fight: the fight against Fascism.

Join me again soon to find out what happened to Eric Harold Patrick and his chess playing friends after they left Desford.

But first, perhaps you’ll join me in drinking a toast to Cecil John Wagstaff Lane and Sydney Ansell Gimson, two men who, for their time, or even for our time, held enlightened and progressive views on education, and believed, as I do, that chess can have enormous social benefits for children of secondary school age.

I’d like to end on a personal note. Of all the people I’ve written about in these Minor Pieces, I think Sydney is the one I’d most like to have met. He seems to have been a man who shared my own opinions, interests and values in almost every respect. My political and religious views are, considering the 90 year gap in our ages, very similar to his. I also share his interests in the environment and in education, particularly in how schools should go about helping disadvantaged children, and in how chess can be used for that purpose. Sydney Ansell Gimson, you are one of my heroes.

 

Sources and Acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk
findmypast.co.uk/British Newspaper Library
Wikipedia
Who’s Who of Radical Leicester (Ned Newitt)
William Morris Society website
Leicester Secular Society website
Story of Leicester website
University of Leicester website

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Minor Pieces 58: Leonard Inskip and Michael Stanley Woodward Ferrar

Last time I looked at the popularity of chess amongst the residents of the Star and Garter Home for Disabled Ex-Servicemen in Richmond in the 1930s.

Richmond wasn’t the only place in which those with physical handicaps were encouraged to play chess. It’s time to return to the city of Leicester, which, you may recall, was my father’s home city, and also where I studied between 1968 and 1972. In fact my parents’ families were both from the Midlands, crisscrossing the counties of Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, and occasionally bumping into each other in places like Coventry and Leicester.

The Leicester Guild of Cripples was founded in 1898, providing services for the physically handicapped of the city. Between 1925 and 1991 they ran a holiday home in the nearby village of Cropston. Of course, along with other terms for disabilities which became playground insults, we can no longer use the word ‘cripple’ in that context today. They later became the Leicester Guild of the Physically Handicapped and in 2000 changed their name to MOSAIC 1898 where they now cater for those with a wider range of disabilities.

You can visit their website here and watch a 1934 home movie about the Guild here.

We’ll now turn the clock back to 1930 and meet a remarkable man named Leonard Inskip. Leonard, born in 1885 was one of a large family. His father, William John Inskip, was an influential trade unionist working, like very many in Leicester, in the bootmaking trade. He became a local councillor, alderman and magistrate, but was also antisemitic, campaigning against Jewish shoemakers. He merits a Wikipedia page here, and you can also read about him on Ned Newitt’s essential The Who’s Who of Radical Leicester website here.

Leonard, despite his physical handicap, was an enterprising chap. In 1930 he founded a magazine called The Cripples’ Journal, and sent copies of the first issue to newspapers up and down the country.

Leicester Daily Mercury 23 June 1930

Biddulph Street, to the east of the city centre, has been split into four sections with different names so it’s not possible to identify the exact house where Leonard lived, but it would probably have been somewhere around here. A completely different world from the suburban mansions where you’d find the civil servants, bankers and insurance executives who played chess in leafy Richmond and Twickenham.

Leonard had a particular interest in sports, and just like the residents of the Star and Garter, believed that those who weren’t able to access physical sports should be encouraged to take part in mental sports.

He therefore wrote to the local paper suggesting a social club where he and his fellow guild members could play friendly games of draughts, chess and billiards against members of other social clubs in the city.

Leicester Daily Mercury 18 July 1930

The authorities, as you see, weren’t sympathetic. Most of the cripples were women and children and the men, if they wanted, could go and join another club. However, Leonard received letters of support, and it wasn’t long before the Cripples Guild played their first chess match.

Leicester Evening Mail 27 November 1930

I haven’t been able to identify F Weston: there were quite a few gentlemen named Frank Weston or Frederick Weston living in Leicester at the time, none of whom had an obvious physical handicap. He had previously played for the Victoria Road club and was a fairly strong club and county player. It could be that he came along to help and support them, and perhaps provide some instruction.

His opponent here, Arthur Clement Bannister (1891-1982) was, in 1921, an engineer. His father James, who had been born in Earl Shilton, was the manager of a hosiery company. His sister Laura would later marry High Court Judge Sir Donald Hurst. James’s father and grandfather were both named Stephen. His grandfather was apparently born in Earl Shilton in about 1788 but I haven’t been able to find a parish baptism record. However, I know a lot about other Earl Shilton Bannisters, notably my great grandmother (mother’s mother’s mother) Louisa Bannister, who was born there in 1854. I can (speculatively) trace Louisa back to John Bannister, the son of David, born in Earl Shilton in 1714, which, if we’re both correct, makes me the 7th cousin of antique chess set dealer Luke Honey. It’s also a reasonable guess that Arthur Clement came from the same family, so we may share a common ancestor somewhere along the line.

I haven’t been able to find a record of another match until two years later.

Leicester Evening Mail 09 November 1932

Some of the surnames there will be familiar to anyone researching Leicester genealogy. Names like Freestone, Gilbert, Pratt and Dakin come up over and over again.

Here we have a team of seven players scoring a convincing victory over British United, manufactures of shoe machinery and for many years one of Leicester’s biggest employers.

On board six was the Secretary of the Cripples Guild, Michael Stanley Woodward Ferrar, usually known  simply as Stanley Ferrar.

Stanley was born in 1905 in Stamford, Lincolnshire, the youngest of three sons of Walter Ferrar and Annie Woodward. He also had a half-brother, Annie’s son George William Todd Woodward, who would change his surname to Ferrar.

At some point in the 1910s the family moved to Leicester, where Walter died in 1919. The 1921 census finds Annie and her three younger sons at 65 Beaumont Road Leicester. Reginald Walter is a motor driver and John Basil a baker, while Stanley, because of his disability, isn’t at school and has no occupation. George William (using his second name) is back in Lincolnshire, living in his brother-in-law’s pub, along with his wife Maud and their infant son, another Reginald. Like John Basil he’s employed as a baker.

In the autumn of 1933 they played several more friendly matches, and in 1934 applied to join the Leicestershire League, entering a team in the third (lowest) division.

They were pretty successful as well, as you’ll see from the final tables.

Leicester Evening Mail 10 April 1935

The following season saw them promoted to Division 2, while, with so much demand for places in competitive matches, they entered a second team in Division 3. Both teams performed respectably, as you’ll see from the final (there were a few unplayed matches) tables.

Leicester Evening Mail 20 May 1936

On 5 September Stanley Ferrar was selected as one of 40 players to take on the great Alexander Alekhine in a simultaneous display.

Leicester Evening Mail 07 September 1936

You’ll see that he drew his game, and, according to this report, was close to winning.

Leicester Daily Mercury 07 September 1936

(There was some confusion about whether Mr Passant was the fairly well-known AE Passant or his lesser known brother NE Passant, who really should have switched the order of his first names.)

You’ll meet a few of Alekhine’s other opponents in later Minor Pieces.

The next season, though, they were struggling to raise full teams, so they needed some more manpower. Or rather girl power.

Leicester Daily Mercury 24 March 1937

You’ll see that two Misses Ferrar have been recruited to their second team in Division 3.

These are Stanley’s nieces, Norma and Betty, who may well have been the second and third females to take part in the Leicestershire Chess League. You’ll meet their predecessor in a future Minor Piece.

Now there’s some confusion here as he had two nieces named Betty, both living in Leicester.  His half-brother, George William’s children were, apart from Reginald whom you met in 1921, Norma (1922), Joan (1924), Betty (1926) and Monica (1928). His brother Reginald Walter’s children were Betty (1924), Neville (1926), Brian (1928), Rita (1931) and Brenda (1933). John Basil had no less than 11 children, but none of them fit it. (Leonard Inskip, married to the delightfully named Alice Lovely, also had a daughter called Betty who would later obtain a BA in Geography at Liverpool University. My mother would have told you how popular the name was in the 1920s.)

So Miss N Ferrar must have been Norma, and I suspect Miss B Ferrar was Reginald Walter’s daughter born in 1924 rather than Norma’s sister born in 1926. Both girls, then, would have been in their teens at the time of these matches. To the best of my knowledge, unlike Uncle Stanley, they were not themselves physically handicapped.

Norma didn’t play very long, but her sister Joan replaced her in the team.

Leicester Daily Mercury 27 October 1937

Leicestershire, a pioneering county in so many ways, had been running a boys’ championship for several years. In January 1938 Betty and Joan applied to take part in the Junior (U16 or thereabouts) section. Their entries were accepted, forcing the organisers to rename their competition as Juniors rather than Boys.

This report suggests that the event was rather chaotic and the standard of play not very high.

Leicester Daily Mercury 05 January 1938

Betty not only won her section, but shared first place in the competition.

Leicester Evening Mail 12 January 1938

Here she is with her co-winner and the trophy.

Leicester Daily Mercury 12 January 1938

The Cripples Guild continued playing in the county league into the 1938-39 season, with Betty and Joan now in the first team, but then war put an end to their chess adventure. A wartime league was established,  but they didn’t take part. That, then, is the end of the story. Stanley Ferrar married in 1945, had two children, Graham and Sheila, but died in 1951.  Leonard Inskip died in 1955.

Leonard’s name lived on for many years in the Inskip League of Friendship for the Disabled: there were several branches of this charity, mostly, it seems, in Lancashire, some of which survived into the 21st century.

Leonard Inskip and Stanley Ferrar may not have been the world’s greatest players, but they represent to me what chess clubs are really about, providing friendship and community, especially for those who are, in one way or another, handicapped or disadvantaged. I’m sure their friends in the Cripples Guild gained a lot from their league matches and appreciated their efforts. Leonard was clearly a remarkable man, while Stanley, the stronger player of the two, by teaching and encouraging his nieces, became a pioneer and supporter of chess for girls.

Again, we see chess being used to provide competition for those who, through physical handicap or incapacitation, were unable to access physical sport. This wasn’t the only example of chess being used for social purposes. in the inter-war period. I recently came across a photograph of boys from a school for the deaf and dumb in Derby being taught chess. Most remarkable of all was the story of chess at Worcester College for the Blind, which I’ll perhaps explore some other time.

But, still in Leicester in the 1930s, there was another story being played out, promoting competitive chess for another disadvantaged sector of society. You’ll find out more in the next Minor Piece. Don’t miss it.

 

Sources and Acknowledgements:

ancestry.com
findmypast.com/British Newspaper Archives
Wikipedia
Google Maps
The Who’s Who of Radical Leicester (Ned Newitt)
Inskip One-Name Study
Mosaic 1898 website
Media Archive for Central England (MACE)

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The Ink War: Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess

From the publisher:

“The rivalry between William Steinitz and Johannes Zukertort, the world’s strongest chess players in the late nineteenth century, became so fierce that it was eventually named The Ink War. They fought their battle on the chessboard and in various chess magazines and columns. It was not only about who was the strongest player but also about who had the best ideas on how to play the game. In 1872, Johannes Zukertort moved from Berlin to London to continue his chess career.

Ten years earlier, William Steinitz had moved from Vienna to London for the same purpose; meanwhile, he had become the uncrowned champion of the chess world. Their verbal war culminated in the first match for the World Championship in 1886. Zukertort is certainly the tragic protagonist of this book, but is he also a romantic hero? He has often been depicted as a representative of romantic chess, solely focusing on attacking the king. Steinitz is said to have put an end to this lopsided chess style with his modern scientific school. This compelling story shakes up the traditional version of chess history and answers the question which of them can claim to be the captain of the modern school. With his first book, Move First, Think Later, International Master Willy Hendriks caused a minor revolution in the general view on chess improvement.

His second book, On the Origin of Good Moves, presented a refreshing new outlook on chess history. In The Ink War, Hendriks once again offers his unique perspective in a well-researched story that continues to captivate until the tragic outcome. It gives a wonderful impression of the 19th-century chess world and the birth of modern chess. Hendriks invites the reader to actively think along with the beautiful, instructive and entertaining chess fragments with many chess exercises.”

“Willy Hendriks (1966) is an International Master who has been working as a chess trainer for over thirty years. His bestseller Move First, Think Later won the English Chess Federation Book of the Year Award in 2012. In his much-acclaimed second book, On the Origin of Good Moves, he presented a provocative new view on chess history.”

 

There are always dichotomies, aren’t there? You only have to look at any news website or paper to see them playing out before your eyes. Passionate people on either side of an argument taking extreme views and unwilling to listen to the other side.

In the world of education, for example, there’s the dichotomy between ‘trad’ and ‘prog’, traditional or progressive values, which has been going on, in one form or another, since the days of Rousseau. (Sensible teachers, of course, know that you need some of both.) The same terms are also used in music: perhaps you’re a fan of prog rock, or a devotee of trad jazz.

Let me take you back now to the musical world of the 1850s and 1860s, specifically to central Europe and, in particular, Germany. There were two groups of composers in opposition in what would later become known as the War of the Romantics. Both groups, in very different ways, saw themselves as heirs to Beethoven. The conservative, traditionalist camp was led by the likes of Brahms and Clara Schumann, while, in the opposite corner, were the progressive modernists such as Wagner and Liszt. Nowadays we have no problems listening to the music of both groups with equal pleasure.

Moving forward a couple of decades we come to a very similar war, which, although the camps were led by Central Europeans, took place mostly in London. The Ink War: Romanticism and Modernity in Chess, the subject of Dutch IM Willy Hendriks’ latest book, features Johannes Zukertort flying the romantic flag while William Steinitz sports the colours of Modernity. Two men with, at least if you believe their writings, very different views about how chess should best be played.

This is a successor to the author’s previous book which I reviewed enthusiastically here. Whereas the previous book took a wide-ranging view of 19th century chess history, here we look in more detail at a period of fourteen years: between Zukertort’s arrival in London in 1872 and the first official world championship match, between Steinitz and Zukertort, in 1886.

In the course of 468 pages we meet not just our two protagonists, but a whole host of colourful characters who enlivened the 19th century London chess scene. While we’re given an in depth look at the games of Steinitz and Zukertort, there are many other games included to put their moves in context. A lot of fascinating history, and also a lot of fascinating chess.

At the time there were very few players making a living out of chess, and, if you wanted to be a professional player, the place to go was London. Steinitz had moved there in 1862, and, not the most likeable of men, soon made enemies. The British Chess Association wanted to put him in his place, and, invited Zukertort, who had just won a match against Anderssen, to London.

As Hendriks relates in his prologue:

This book tells the story of this struggle, which was fought on the chessboard, but also, to a significant extent, in chess magazines and in columns in newspapers. First and foremost, this battle was about who was the strongest, and who could eventually call himself the first World Champion. But there was more at stake. Chess and chess theory were in full development and the ideas about how the game should be played were quite divergent. Steinitz had a very outspoken position and saw himself as the foreman of a scientific modern school. For our story it would be nice if Zukertort represented the other pole, the romantic attacking school, but things are not that simple. The larger public, however, understood the rivalry between the two for the greater part along these lines. Thus, the struggle on and around the chessboard was closely linked to the societal developments of the time, such as the rise of science and technology and the romantic resistance to them.

After introductions to Steinitz and Zukertort, in Chapter 3 Hendriks tackles the question of chess style. This ‘primitive dichotomy’, between tactics and strategy, ‘plays a major role in (traditional) chess history writing.’  ‘The danger of this is that it can easily lead to caricatures’.

Of course these caricatures can be seen in later rivalries as well: Alekhine v Capablanca, Tal v Petrosian, Kasparov v Karpov. The tactician against the strategist.

But, in reality, we’re all just trying to find the best moves.

As you’ll know if you’ve read his previous book, Hendriks takes a different approach, looking at ‘the quantitative changes that led to an increase in chess knowledge and to a higher level of skill’. He’s contextualising the games he demonstrates by looking at what the players would have known from previous experience about the positions on the board.

Here, for example, is Zukertort, just having arrived in London in 1872, playing White against the archetypal tragic/romantic hero Cecil de Vere.

You’ll recognise this as a Sicilian Taimanov, which, almost a century later, would become very popular, but this would have been virgin territory to both players. It’s quite understandable, given what he would have known at the time, that de Vere now blundered with 7… Nge7? (you can play this in similar positions but not here), and likewise impressive that Zukertort found the refutation, Ndb5!, over the board.

In the same event Steinitz and Zukertort met for the first time. Steinitz, playing White, essayed his favourite gambit, based on his  belief that the king was a strong piece which could take care of itself.

Here’s the game. Click on any move for a pop-up window.

A strong defensive performance by Steinitz, according to Hendriks, who, understandably, only gives us the first 24 moves. A triumph for materialism over romanticism, you might think. Or equally that Zukertort’s second piece sacrifice on move 12 was tempting but unsound.

Hendriks is at his best discussing the development of both positional and tactical ideas. His contextualisation is both informative and instructive.

In those days the French Defence was considered a dull and even cowardly opening, an opinion which continued well into the 20th century. The justification at the time was that the lines where White plays e5 were considered favourable for Black, so the first player usually chose the Exchange Variation.

In 1875 Zukertort played a match against (the very interesting) William Norwood Potter. In the 10th game they reached this position.

A stark contrast to the Steinitz game above. Zukertort, playing White, saw nothing wrong with winning a pawn: 9. Bxf6 Qxf6 10. Nxd5, but after 10… Qh6 11. h3? Nxd4! he was losing material. The Nxd4 idea is very familiar to most club players today, but back in 1875 it would have been unknown: they would have had to discover it for themselves.

Another idea in this sort of position  was for one player to swing the queen’s knight over to the kingside, allowing doubled pawns after a trade on f6. In exchange you get the two bishops and a possible attack down the g-file.

It didn’t work in this game from Paris 1878.

You’ll observe that by no means all the games in this book feature Steinitz or Zukertort.

Chapter 11 is intriguingly titled The discovery of the queenside. In his 1880 match against Samuel Rosenthal, Zukertort switched from his usual Ruy Lopez to the Queen’s Gambit. This was by no means a new opening: it dates back to Greco and de Labourdonnais played it on many occasions against McDonnell. In those days the Queen’s Gambit, like the King’s Gambit was usually accepted: after all accepting gambits was the chivalrous thing to do. Rosenthal preferred to decline Zukertort’s gambit, and, in the 9th match game White was able to carry out his favourite plan of a queenside pawn roller, playing an early c5 followed by advancing his a- and b-pawns.

In the 9th game of the match he reached this position, with White to play.

Any strong player will start by considering Rb6, having seen the idea many times before in games played by the likes of Botvinnik and Petrosian. Stockfish agrees that it’s the best move here. Zukertort saw it but, not having had the advantages we have, mistakenly rejected it, eventually drawing a favourable ending. As Hendriks demonstrates, 12 years later, in a very similar position against Chigorin, Steinitz, who had learnt from this example, did indeed play Rb6 with success.

Again and again, throughout the book, we see examples of ideas which are familiar to us now, but would have been new at the time.

By 1881, as Hendriks relates, Steinitz and Zukertort were engaged in a war of words over the analysis of recent chess games: the Ink War. The war was not just about the rights and wrongs of particular moves, but about how games should be annotated: a debate which is still continuing today.  Zukertort tended to publish long variations while Steinitz took a more scientific approach.

It was generally understood that Steinitz was, following Morphy’s retirement, the strongest player in the world (EdoChess ranks him top from 1868 onwards) but he hadn’t been active since his 1876 match against Blackburne, and his last tournament had been Vienna 1873. Questions were now being asked as to whether Zukertort was now stronger, so Steinitz decided to return to the fray in 1882, again in Vienna.

This was the strongest tournament yet held, and resulted in a very exciting finish. Steinitz and Winawer shared first place, a point ahead of Mason, with Zukertort and Mackenzie another half point behind, but Zukertort scored 1½/2 against his arch rival.

Another strong tournament took place in London in 1883, and again Steinitz and Zukertort took part.

Here’s Zukertort’s exciting Round 3 encounter with Mason.

White had the draw in hand before blundering on move 57. Curiously, Mason lost the return encounter with Zukertort through a very similar oversight.

Hendriks comments: Such small tactics were often missed in those days, as back then the possibilities for training your tactics were minimal. Today’s diligent student solves more tactical puzzles in a day than the old masters did in their entire lives.

This is one of the themes of both this and his previous book. We might assume that the 19th century greats didn’t have today’s opening knowledge but were equally good at tactics. Hendriks’ view, reinforced by many examples here, is that they weren’t – and unsurprisingly so, as they didn’t have the opportunities for practice and training. Zukertort himself was particularly prone to blunders which would have shamed your club’s third team players.

It was in Round 6 of this game when Zukertort played his Most Famous Game, to which Hendriks develops a whole chapter.

With three rounds to go, Zukertort had reached the extraordinary score of 22/23, losing only to Steinitz in the first cycle, but he then lost his last three games, two of them to the tournament tail-enders. Was this due to problems with his health, or with the medication he was using to treat his health problems, or just a random occurrence? Hendriks considers the evidence here.

Finally, we move onto the 1886 World Championship match. By that point Steinitz had moved to America, and Zukertort was also spending time there, so the contest took place in New York, St Louis and New Orleans. Most of the twenty games are full of interest, and Hendriks contextualises and analyses them in depth.

Ironically, the ‘modernist’ Steinitz opened with the king’s pawn in all his white games, while the ‘tactical’ Zukertort, in all but one of his white games, chose the supposedly more modern and positional Queen’s Gambit. This demonstrates, I suppose, that the dichotomy between them was more about a personality clash than anything else, although, by this point, the two men seemed to have been on tolerably friendly terms.

Several of Zukertort’s white games reached IQP positions, which were, at the time, very little understood, so are of some historical interest.

Here’s the 9th game.

Hendriks has some interesting things to say about the hanging pawns position after Black’s 22nd move, which will give you some idea of his annotation style.

The exchange of pieces in the past few moves did not help White, but Zukertort apparently had a lot of confidence in his attacking chances in this position. However the beautiful knight on e5 can be chased away, and White does not have that many pieces to strengthen his attack either, so he no longer has the better chances. Therefore, this was a good moment for the quiet move 23. h3. Many contemporary players would play this way, but in those days such a prophylactic move was not a matter of course. The idea of prophylaxis would only be introduced a quarter of a century later by Aron Nimzowitsch. This strategy consists of improving one’s position and protected potential weaknesses even before they are threatened.

Steinitz won the first game in brilliant style, but Zukertort then won four in a row. After that, with Zukertort’s health problems worsening, it was mostly one-way traffic, with Steinitz emerging a convincing winner by 12½ to 7½, becoming the first official world champion.

The end of the story is rather sad: Zukertort’s standard of play and health both declined rapidly, and he died in London two years later.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, just as I did its predecessor. Willy Hendriks is a born storyteller: the book is grippingly written. You’ll always want to turn over the page to see what happens next. If you thought chess history was boring this book may persuade you to think again. It’s beautifully produced and copiously illustrated. I suppose more serious chess historians than me might regret that it’s not as fully referenced as you’d expect from an academic history book, but it’s quite understandable that the author and publisher would take the approach they chose. The English is fluent and highly readable, if not always totally idiomatic. I found one or two minor mistakes, but they didn’t interfere with my enjoyment. If you’re interested in improving your rating, the book is there to help you as well. As with many books from this publisher, most chapters are preceded by puzzles based on games discussed within: if you feel inclined you can attempt to solve them before reading on. If you love, as I do, 19th century chess history, you won’t want to miss this book. You don’t just get the games: there’s a lot of engrossing information about the leading personalities of the day and the way top level chess was organised as well.

You might want to start, if you haven’t read it already, with On the Origin of Good Moves, which is more general and wide-ranging, before continuing with this book. You may not agree with all the author’s opinions and conclusions, but you’ll find something thought-provoking on every page. This is the ideal chess book for me and goes straight into my list of all-time favourites. I can’t wait to see what Willy Hendriks writes about next.

Richard James, Twickenham 5th June 2023

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details:

  • Softcover: 468 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess (30 Nov. 2022)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:9493257649
  • ISBN-13: 978-9493257641
  • Product Dimensions: ‎17.22 x 1.52 x 23.65 cm

Official web site of New in Chess.

You can read some sample pages here.

The Ink War: Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess, Willy Hendriks, New in Chess (30 Nov 2022), ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9493257649
The Ink War: Romanticism versus Modernity in Chess, Willy Hendriks, New in Chess (30 Nov 2022), ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 9493257649
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Richmond Junior Chess Club 1975-2006: Part 4

In Part 3 of the history of Richmond Junior Chess Club I left you with this news from May 1993.

Richmond Informer 14 May 1993

This was the start of the Richmond Chess Initiative, which was doing very much the same thing that Chess in Schools & Communities now does, but on a local level, within the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Local businessman Stanley Grundy had met Anne Summers, then the Mayor of Richmond upon Thames, at a concert. He had recently come across this paper claiming that chess improves children’s academic performance, and, for this reason, wanted to put money into schools in the borough.

There were all sorts of questions here about the validity of the paper’s methods and conclusions, and, given that Richmond schools, as you might expect from the nature of the demographics of the Borough, topped the national league tables every year anyway, how much scope there was for improving the results even more. But, nevertheless, Stanley wanted to donate some money, which was good news for us at Richmond Junior Chess Club.

A steering committee was formed, including representatives from local schools, notably Jane Lawrence, Headteacher of Sheen Mount, the local council and local businesses, local Grandmaster Daniel King was also invited to join and I was paid to manage the chess programme.  There was no interest in putting chess on the curriculum, but a number of (mostly primary) schools were interested in starting after-school clubs. So part of my job was helping schools with these clubs, and, as more schools became interested, other chess tutors were also recruited.

All sorts of other things happened. Every year national inter-area competitions take place, run by the English Primary Schools Chess Association, at Under 9, Under 11 and Girls Under 11 levels. RJCC were now, through our committee of parents, running these teams. We were able to combine our own strong players with those from schools in the Borough, many of whom we also recruited to join us, to create formidably strong Under 9 and Under 11 teams. Although we were, in effect, competing as a club against mostly county teams we always finished near the top, winning national titles on several occasions.

Our tournaments were now billed as the Richmond Chess Initiative Championships, thanks to Stanley Grundy’s sponsorship. Here’s a game from our 1994 championship between two of our strongest young players. To play through any game in this article, click on any move for a pop-up window.

Later in 1994 Daniel King organised our first international tournament, which took place (mostly) at the Royal Star and Garter Home for Disabled Ex-Servicemen in Richmond (you can read more about chess there in this Minor Piece). The tournament – remarkably – featured seven current or former members of RJCC, along with Danish IM Klaus Berg and two of Daniel’s Bundesliga teammates.

Luke McShane, only 10 years old, struggled in most of his games, but hit the national headlines when he beat Berg, who went on to share first place with former RJCC star (as he then was) Demetrios Agnos.

Richmond Informer 02 December 1994

The tournament was remarkable for its fighting spirit and exciting, if not always perfectly accurate games. Here’s the crosstable.

Here’s a short selection of games played by some of the RJCC representatives in this event.

 

At the same time we welcomed a team from Szombathely in Hungary, who played matches against a combined RJCC/Southern Counties team. Here’s a Richmond win against a future Grandmaster.

We were very big on the idea of giving our players the chance to compete against adult opposition when they were ready to do so. We ran teams in the Thames Valley League for this reason, on one occasion finishing second ahead of the Richmond & Twickenham A team.

In 1995 we were able to start a series of Richmond Rapidplays, which usually took place at the White House Community Association in Hampton. We ran six tournaments a year, with four sections, usually attracting about 100 participants, roughly equally split between juniors and adults.  The top section always included IMs and sometimes also GMs, so our members had the chance to watch top players in action.

The point of what we were doing was to give our afternoon group members (1000+ rating or age 11+) the chance to play as many different opponents (of different ages) as possible, as well as to experience different openings and different time controls. Our results, and, particularly our strength in depth were testimony to the success of our approach, focusing on purposeful playing rather than teaching.

We ran our second international tournament that autumn. This time we had five past or present RJCC members, while our good friend Simon Williams completed the home contingent. Klaus Berg returned, along with popular Dutch IM Gerard Welling. The other competitors were London-based Nigerian Chiedu Maduekwe and Serbian Jovica Radovanovic. Here’s the crosstable.

Again, a short selection of games.

Here’s our sponsor Stanley Grundy writing to the local press in February 1996, with ambitions to exend the scheme both nationally and internationallly.

Richmond Informer 02 February 1996

For various reasons this didn’t happen in quite that way, but the national initiative is still successful today.

One day Stanley summoned me to his office and told me he was going to make me rich. However, he then spoke to Mike Basman, who was running Surrey junior chess under the Wey Valley banner and decided Mike was the better person to put his ideas into practice.

This was the start of what would soon become the UK Chess Challenge, which was originally sponsored by Stanley through one of his companies. It’s still running very successfully today, but, far from making Mike Basman rich it had the opposite effect.

Our big annual event during this period was the RCI Schools Chess Tournament, designed as a fun event encouraging mass participation, with clocks only used on the higher boards. Here’s a report on the 1996 event.

Richmond Informer 16 February 1996

In 1996 the club received recognition from what was then the British Chess Federation when I received a President’s Award for services to chess, which I saw as an award for the club as a whole rather than for me personally.

But we were not the only successful junior club around. My friend Mike Fox was now running his own club, Checkmate!, in Birmingham, and when they visited us in 1996 scored an impressive victory. In this drawn game our Midlands opponents were represented by a future star.

We also ran two big individual tournaments every year: our annual championships in the summer term, and an open event in the autumn term including qualifiers for the London Junior Championship as well as a section for older players. Here’s a game from the 1996 renewal.

A few years earlier, as you read last time, Luke McShane was breaking a lot of international age records, but now we had in Murugan Thiruchelvam a player who was beating even Luke’s records. He impressed with his ability to play simple positions well: something I’ve always considered the mark of a promising player. In this game he outplayed his opponent in the ending even though he was the exchange down.

Although he was only 8 years old, Murugan played top board for our Under 12 team in a year in which we became national champions (against county teams) at U18, U14, U12 and U11 levels.

Richmond Informer 03 October 1997

That autumn Garry Kasparov was in town, playing a simul against 25 teams. We were honoured to be invited to send a team of four players to take part in this event. We played under the name ‘Deep Yellow’, a play on Deep Blue referring to the colour of the shirts our teams wore at the time.

Richmond Informer 14 November 1997

Here’s the game: a Kasparov victory that may not have been published before. You’ll see that we missed a few drawing chances.

This article, as well as advertising Murugan’s success against adult opponents (the Major section was the second one down in the Richmond Rapidplays), announced a workshop for young players over the Christmas holidays.

Richmond Informer 19 December 1997

By now Luke was writing regular chess columns, here taking the opportunity to plug both Murugan and RJCC.

Irish Independent 04 April 1998

But, while the club was extraordinarily successful, I was starting to have doubts about what was happening in primary school chess clubs. For the most part the standard of play was so low that it was hard to imagine it was helping the children improve their academic performance. There was also very little interest in chess in secondary schools, so they were not continuing playing after the age of 11, seeing it as a primary school game.

The children certainly enjoyed the clubs, and we were able to encourage the stronger primary school players to join RJCC on Saturday mornings, but I struggled to see a longer term purpose.

Growing increasingly frustrated, I wrote an article expressing my views at the time, which you can read here.

Things were very different at RJCC at this point when almost every Saturday saw a new, extremely talented 7 year old turn up who had learnt from playing chess with his family at home.

One of the most notable of this generation was Robert Heaton, who, in this game, had the nerve to play the Dutch Defence against one of our favourite simul givers, Simon Williams.

At about this time the parents on the club committee decided that I should be paid for running the club. My feelings were mixed. Of course money is always useful, but I’d always seen it as a hobby which I did because it gave me a lot of personal satisfaction. They explained to me that they wanted to ensure the future of the club in case something happened to me, so I felt I had to accept.

As the millennium reached its final year Murugan made the papers again, qualifying for the British Chess Championship.

Birmingham Mail 12 January 1999

During the RCI years we were still producing national junior titles as well:

1994: Ruth Bates U14G (shared)
1995: Ruth Bates U16G and U15G (shared), Leila Nathoo U9G (shared)
1996: Ross Rattray U13, Ruth Bates U18G (shared)
1997: David Bates U15 (shared). Jonathan Zoubaida U9, Murugan Thiruchelvam U8, Ruth Bates U18G (shared)
1998: David Edwards U16 and U15, Thomas Nixon U12 (shared), Chetan Deva (U11)
1999: Shanker Menon U18 (shared)

We had had a remarkable run of success for almost a quarter of a century, but just as the calendar was changing from 1999 to 2000, junior chess was changing as well.

You’ll find out more in the final article of this series.

 

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Minor Pieces 57: Reginald Aubrey Tarrant and Clifford William Hill

If you walk up to the top of Richmond Hill, past one of the most famous views in the country, you’ll see an imposing edifice opposite the gate into Richmond Park.

You’ll also see it across Petersham Meadows if you walk along the Thames Path towards Ham, Teddington and Kingston.

Author’s photograph

This was, until a few years ago, the Royal Star and Garter Home for disabled former service personnel.

There was originally a hotel on the site, which closed down in 1906, and, for several years, plans for redevelopment came to nothing. The current building was constructed between 1921 and 1924 to a design by Sir Edwin Cooper based on a 1915 plan by the great and wonderful Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, providing accommodation and nursing facilities for 180 serious injured servicemen.

Most (but not all, as we’ll see) of the residents were wheelchair users as a result of injuries suffered in the First World War. In the days before parasports they were unable to access physical recreations so chess was a popular activity there. It wasn’t long before the members of Richmond Chess Club, just downhill, paid them a visit.

Their first match seems to have been in Spring 1926, and they returned in the Autumn.

Richmond Herald 27 November 1926

It’s good to see both sides fielding a lady player: I presume Sister Allsopp was a chess playing member of the nursing staff.

This was, in effect, the club second team, but the following month their star player Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk, visited to give a simultaneous display.

The results of their Spring 1927 match were published.

Richmond Herald 19 February 1927

It was unfortunate (but typical for the time) that two of the Richmond visitors failed to put in an appearance. The Star and Garter top board, Clifford William Hill, did well to draw his game.

Other local chess clubs, such as the Old Richmondians, visited them for matches as well.

When the newly formed Barnes Village Chess Club paid their first visit they were understandably apprehensive: “Thoughts of the game took second place to thoughts of the war and its effects”. But when they got there they discovered that “as they faced the foe most bravely, so now they take their present handicap most cheerfully”.

Richmond Herald 15 October 1927

Clifford Hill seems to have been a pretty strong player who rarely lost in these matches.

In 1931 he even secured a draw against the more than useful Barnes Village top board George Archer Hooke.

Richmond Herald 21 November 1931

Perhaps we should find out more about him.

Clifford William Hill, known to his friends as Tony, was born (as William Clifford Hill) on  27 October 1898 in Brierley Hill, Staffordshire, an industrial town in the Black Country best known for its glass and steel works. His father, Horace Emmanuel Holloway Hill, was employed by one of the local ironworks before becoming a railway platelayer and then a gas fitter. A very different background, to be sure, from the middle class gentlemen he would have encountered in his matches against Richmond and Barnes Village chess clubs.

I can’t find any very obvious WW1 service records for him, nor can I locate him in the 1921 census. Secondary sources claim he signed up at the age of 17, was severely wounded at the Battle of the Somme, and spent time in a number of hospitals.

It turns out he was a rather remarkable man. Not only a more than competent chess player, but the editor of the Star and Garter Magazine and a multi-talented musician as well: singer (both alto and tenor), violinist and conductor.

Here he is, arranging, conducting and performing at a concert party.

Richmond Herald 22 October 1927

One of the many organisations providing entertainment to the residents was a Post Office group called the Camel Corps. One of their members, Helen Isabel Frances (Nell) Pollard, was smitten, and in 1932 they tied the knot in nearby Petersham.

Nell’s father’s middle name suggests a family interest in music, doesn’t it?

Weekly Dispatch (London) 01 May 1932

According to this article, they were moving to Sandgate, near Folkestone, where the Star and Garter had a seaside branch. It also appeared to mark the end of his chess career: his last mention seems to be earlier that year.

In 1934 Clifford (or should we call him Tony) and his friends achieved national prominence when they appeared on the wireless.

The People 11 November 1934

Tony, the man with the smile. How wonderful!

The 1939 Register found Tony and Nell in Brierley Hill with his parents, but by the time of the 1945 Electoral Roll they’d moved to Sir Oswald Stoll Mansions in Fulham a block of mansion flats right next to Chelsea FC providing supported living for disabled former service personnel.

Clifford William Hill died back at the Star and Garter on 13 March 1952, at the age of 53. A remarkable man from a very modest background who, despite being confined to a wheelchair, achieved much in his life. He would have been a popular and important figure in the Star and Garter, and deserves to be remembered today, not only as the man with the smile. I’m sure chess, along with music, and, of course, Nell, brought him much satisfaction.

By the time he’d moved on, another highly competent chess player had moved in. You can see him back in that 1931 team list. Step forward Reginald Aubrey Tarrant.

Reginald was very different. Unlike most of the residents, he had been too young to serve in the war, and he was in the Star and Garter through illness rather than injury.

He was born on 12 May 1909 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, the second son of Francis Llewellyn Tarrant and Ethel Agnes Best, but by 1911 the family had moved to Acton where his father was working as an oil merchant. This was a family which would have both problems and tragedies to contend with.

In 1912 their third son, Francis Llewellyn junior was born, but only survived a few months. The following year, their oldest son, Hugh Gordon Tarrant, aged 6, was knocked down and killed by a car. Reggie and Gordon were sitting on stones marking the boundary between Ealing, Acton and Brentford. A car travelling at an excessive speed swerved to avoid a horse and cart, and hit the two boys, killing Gordon and seriously injuring Reggie. The coroner’s court recorded a verdict of manslaughter and the driver was sent for trial at the Old Bailey, but at this subsequent trial he was cleared of all charges, one would imagine much to the parents’ distress.

Having lost two sons, one to a tragic accident which left their third son seriously injured, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Francis and Ethel’s marriage hit problems. By 1916 Francis had moved to Southsea, where he ran a business as a motor engineer and driving instructor, which, he claimed, exempted him from military service. Ethel was back in Ealing claiming maintenance arrears. Perhaps they got back together as a daughter, Dorothy May, was born in 1918 (or perhaps he wasn’t her father). But in 1921 Ethel was again claiming maintenance, while Francis made a counter claim on the grounds of her alleged adultery.

Middlesex County Times 16 March 1921

And just look who else was up before the magistrates at the same time. None other than Ealing Chess Club Treasurer Sydney Meymott, fined for not having his dog muzzled.

Meanwhile the 1921 census found Francis still in Southsea, apparently married to Florence May Tarrant (he’d later be ‘married’ to Harriet Grace Tarrant). Dorothy, although not yet three years old, seemed to be boarding at St Ethelburga’s convent school/orphanage in Walmer, Kent (the other pupils were aged between 5 and 19), with the census record claiming, incorrectly, that her father was dead. I haven’t been able to find a record for Ethel.

Reggie was a boarder at the Rosemary Home in Herne Bay, Kent. This was an outdoor convalescent home for boys, which suggests to me that he might possibly have had tuberculosis.

Herne Bay Press 23 July 1921

He made a good recovery, and in 1924, at the age of 15, joined the Royal Navy as an Arethusa Boy, where he trained as a telegraphist. He might well be one of the cadets in this film.

In 1928 he suffered a serious illness (heat stroke) and on 18 June 1930 he was invalided out due to organic heart disease. This must have been so severe that he was unable to live independently. It was at this point, or shortly afterwards, that he moved into the Star and Garter, where he rapidly became one of their strongest chess players. Did he learn chess there, or did he already know how to play?

By 1931, as we’ve seen, he was playing in the Star and Garter chess team, and he was soon invited to join Richmond Chess Club. It would be interesting to know how he travelled there. He was a decade or more younger than most of the other residents, and, also unlike them, probably not a wheelchair user. Walking downhill into the town centre might not have been a problem, but walking back up to the top of Richmond Hill might not be a good idea if you’re suffering from organic heart disease. Perhaps someone gave him a lift.

Here he is, in 1933, playing on bottom board against the NPL.

Richmond Herald 25 February 1933

He was now making rapid progress. In the 1933-34 club championship he shared first place in his section with Wilfred Kirk, only losing the tie-break game, and also finished 3rd in the handicap tournament.

Tarrant continued to advance in the ranks, and by 1936 he was regularly playing on third board behind Wilfred Kirk and Ronald George Armstrong: I’d guess he was by now about 2000 strength: a strong club player.

In this Beaumont Cup (then as now, the Surrey Second Division) match Armstrong presumably failed to turn up, while Kirk faced an interesting young oponent on top board.

Richmond Herald 29 February 1936

David Hooper later became a distinguished writer and historian of the game, best known for co-authoring The Oxford Companion to Chess with Ken Whyld.

A couple of weeks later Richmond did well to win a friendly match against a strong Kingston team headed by Mr & Mrs Michell.

Richmond Herald 14 March 1936

James Mcewen Ellam (1882-1965) would, a decade or so later, be one of the leading lights responsible for founding the Thames Valley Chess League. For many years a competition was held at the start of every season for a trophy named in his honour.

That season Reginald Tarrant (was he still known as Reggie, I wonder?) won both the handicap tournament and match prize (presumably for the best results in club matches: this was a pocket chessboard presented by the Surrey County Chess Association) as well as finishing half a point behind Kirk and Guy Fothergill in the club championship. He was also elected onto the committee at the 1936 AGM. When Kirk moved away in 1937, Tarrant now found himself on board 2 in club matches.

However, he wasn’t among the opposition when Sir George Thomas visited the Star and Garter to give a simul.

Richmond Herald 21 November 1936

(Sir George George Thomas? So good they named him twice?)

But when war broke out again, Richmond Chess Club, with an ageing membership, decided to close its doors for the duration. The 1939 Register recorded Tarrant in the Star and Garter, a Patient and Incapacitated: a decade or more younger than most of the other residents. He was still playing chess there. Here he is, in 1941, drawing with a famous visitor.

Richmond Herald 08 February 1941

Mrs Dudley Short was herself a keen player: on the same page it was announced that the Richmond branch of the NCW (National Council of Women?) ran a fortnightly chess club: you could phone her if you wanted to join.

When the Second World War came to an end, a new chess club, the Georgian Chess Club, opened in Richmond. Reginald was one of its first members.

Richmond Herald 08 December 1945

This would later become Richmond Chess Club, taking over the mantle of the ‘Old Richmond and Kew Club’, but that’s a story for another time. Reginald’s appearance here was his first, but perhaps also his last. A few months earlier he had married Peggy Dora Roberts. She’d been recorded as a Children’s Nurse in 1939 so it was quite possible that she was one of the Star and Garter nurses. I suspect that the happy couple moved in with his mother, who was living close to Kew Gardens.

Reginald and Peggy went on to have three daughters. There are birth records for Carol (1948) and Alison (1953), but, according to an old post by Carol on Genes Reunited there was another girl, Valerie. But shortly after Alison’s birth, on 4 September 1953, Reginald Aubrey Tarrant died at the age of 44.

Back at the Star and Garter, there seemed to be less interest in chess, with most local clubs closing during the war. I have a recollection of some contacts and perhaps friendly matches during the late 1960s, but chess was changing, and perhaps the Star and Garter was as well.

But in 1994 chess at the Star and Garter was back in the news when it hosted an international tournament as part of the Richmond Chess Initiative.

Richmond Informer 02 December 1994

But that’s another story, which will be told in Part 4 of the history of Richmond Junior Chess Club, coming, with any luck, fairly soon.

Although they were no longer playing regularly against outside clubs, chess remained popular with Star and Garter residents such as Charles Grove.

Richmond Informer 24 January 1997

The Star and Garter home in Richmond closed several years ago and, sadly but inevitably, was converted into luxury flats. While the building had been designed specifically for wheelchair users, most of the residents were, by that time, elderly former service personnel with dementia, and the building was no longer fit for purpose. They decided their best option was to sell off the property and construct a new purpose-built home in Surbiton. You can find out more about their history here.

I’m sure both Clifford and Reginald gained much enjoyment from playing chess at the Star and Garter, and, in the latter’s case, also at Richmond Chess Club. They both had difficult lives: one, from a working class family, who was severely injured in the war, the other, from a more middle class but dysfunctional family, who was incapacitated by health problems. Chess is just as much for their likes as it is for prodigies, grandmasters and champions.

I’ve always been unhappy about the reasons given for promoting chess, on local, national and international levels. For me, we should be talking, no, shouting about the way chess can provide competition and friendship for those who are unable or unwilling to access physical sports. Richmond wasn’t the only place where, in the inter-war years, those with physical handicaps were encouraged to play chess. You’ll find out more in the next Minor Piece, which will take us to another part of the country.

 

Sources and Acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk
findmypast.co.uk/British Newspaper Archive
Wikipedia
childrenshomes.org.uk
YouTube
Star and Garter website

 

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Minor Pieces 56: Ferdinand Uniacke and Edmund Arthur Beamish

I’ve just returned (on the eve of publication of this article) from a concert in which the distinguished baritone Roderick Williams performed a song composed by Sally Beamish. A few weeks ago I was at a gig where one of the musicians talked about drinking Beamish at the Cork Jazz Festival.

If you’re in Dublin you drink Guinness: if you’re in Cork you drink Beamish. Whether Sally drinks Beamish I don’t know, but she comes from the same family.

William Beamish and William Crawford founded the Cork Porter Brewery in 1791, beginning brewing the following year. William Beamish came from a distinguished family of English settlers.

Several of their family were competitive chess players in the first half of the last century. The unfortunately initialled FU Beamish was active in the Bristol area in the years leading up to the First World War, and A (or sometimes AE) Beamish was playing in London at the same time. Then there was Captain EA Beamish, who was a tournament regular for a decade or so either side of 1940.

There is some confusion about AB/AEB and EAB which I hope this article will resolve.

One of William’s many children was a son named Charles, born in 1801 (Sally is descended from his brother Richard): it’s his branch of the family who were chess players. Charles and his first wife, Louisa Howard, had four children: Ferdinand, Albert, Victoria and Alfred. He had another four children by his second wife, but, apart from noting that one of his daughters was named, with a distinct lack of political correctness, Darkey Delacour Beamish, they needn’t concern us.

Ferdinand was born in France in 1838, married Frances Anne Strickland at St John the Evangelist, Ladbroke Grove, London in 1876, then moved back to Cork where their children were born: Ferdinand Uniacke (1877), Walter Strickland, Francis Bernard, Gerald Cholmley and finally their only daughter, Agnes Olive.

It was Ferdinand Uniacke Beamish, unfortunately initialled, yes, but also splendidly named, who was our first chess playing Beamish. But it’s also worth looking at his sister, usually known as Olive, suffragette, communist and Cambridge graduate; and not the only unexpectedly radical woman you’ll meet in this article.

By 1901 the family had moved to Westbury on Trym, near Bristol, at which point FUB was working as a mechanical engineer, although the family would later run a farm.

Our first sighting of him at a chessboard is in November 1901, losing his game on a low board in a match in which Bristol and Clifton fielded a ‘very weak team’.

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette 21 November 1901

At the age of 24, then, he was very much a novice, taking his first steps in the world of competitive chess. He was soon elected club secretary, and won a game in a simul against Francis Lee. In October 1902 he was one of a group of organisers instrumental in founding a Bristol Chess League. Here was an ambitious young man, very active as both a player and an organiser.

He was improving fast as well, and by 1903 was playing on board 5 for his county team, drawing his game in a match against Surrey.

There seems to have been some internal politics going on at the time: it was reported that FUB had resigned from Bristol and Clifton, because he had left the area, but, as well as continuing to play in county matches he was playing for Bristol Chess Club: I don’t know exactly what the relationship was between the two clubs, or indeed between the Bristol Chess League and the Gloucestershire and Bath Chess League, in which this 1906 match took place.

Cheltenham Examiner 21 March 1906

The short game published below was this one, against Bath veteran Alfred Rumboll. Black’s opening repertoire seems to have been sadly deficient. FUB preferred 6. d4 to the Fried Liver Attack, and won quickly against his opponent’s poor defence. Click on any move in any game in this article for a pop-up window.

In 1906 he decided to take part in the 3rd British Chess Championships, which took place that year in Shrewsbury. He was placed in Section A of the Second Class Section, scoring a highly respectable 6 points from 10 games.

Confusingly,  FUB was also playing for Clifton Chess Club, winning their club championship, and was also taking a high board for his county in correspondence matches, such as this one against Norfolk, where he defended the Evans Gambit against a Norfolk clergyman.

By this time, he was also playing a lot of correspondence chess, not only for Gloucestershire, but also for Ireland and in their national correspondence championship. In this game from a county match Ferdinand gains control of the centre against his opponent’s rather feeble opening and launches a rapid kingside attack.

In 1911 he reached the finals of the county championship, losing the play-off against the ill-fated Samuel Walter Billings.

The 1913 British Championships took place in nearby Cheltenham, and FUB returned to the fray, again taking part in the 2nd Class A section, finishing 3rd with 6½/10.

The Cork Weekly News published several of his games: perhaps he submitted them himself so that his friends and relations in his family’s home city would see them.

In this game he quickly gained an advantage against his opponent’s unimpressive opening play.

Superior opening play in this game again gave him the opportunity to demonstrate his attacking skills.

His opponent in this game was,  amongst other things, one of the founders of the Gloster Aircraft Company. There’s more about the family firm here.

The dangerous Albin Counter-Gambit was just becoming popular at this time, but Ferdinand knew how to deal with it.

From these games you get the impression of a player much better than his second class status would suggest, with a good knowledge of the latest theory along with a fluent attacking style and tactical ability.  But quite often things went wrong, and when they went wrong they went very wrong.

He was on the wrong end of a Best Game Prize winner here against a Danish opponent. As soon as he ran out of theory he blundered into a stock checkmating tactic.

The 1914 British Championships took place in Chester, and this time Ferdinand Uniacke Beamish was promoted to the 1st Class section, but with the UK having declared war against Germany a few days earlier, the players’ minds would have been on other battlefields.

Three games are available: losses to Moses and Stevenson, and this perhaps rather lucky win against George Marshall Norman, who had an impressively long and successful chess career.

He continued playing for Bristol, now with George Tregaskis as a teammate, through 1915, and the last record we have of him is a correspondence game from 1917.

It seems like he gave up chess at this point to concentrate on running the family farm. The 1921 Census found him, living with his elderly mother and a servant, at Dennisworth Farm, Pucklechurch, a village to the east of Bristol. He married in 1924, but it ended in divorce a few years later. In the 1939 Register he was still there, giving his occupation as Dairy Farmer.  In 1941 he emigrated to New Zealand, where, according to the 1949 Electoral Roll, he was again working as a Dairy Farmer. He died there in 1957, four decades after his last competitive game of chess.

To resolve the question over the identity of Ferdinand’s London contemporary A/AE Beamish, we need to consider Charles’s youngest son, Alfred, who was born in Cork in 1845 or thereabouts.

We first pick him up in England in 1878, where he marries Selina Taylor Prichard in Hastings. Selina had previously been married to the much older Surgeon General William White, who had left her with a daughter named Jessie Mabel.

Mabel (she preferred to use her middle name) is worth a detour. Despite her military background she was a committed pacifist. Her husband’s name was very familiar to me, given my background in Anglican church music, but may not be to you. Percy Dearmer was a socialist priest best remembered, at least by me, for editing The English Hymnal along with one of my musical heroes, Ralph Vaughan Williams. Their elder son, Geoffrey, was a poet who lived to the age of 103.

Alfred was a barrister and solicitor, and after his marriage he and Selina settled in Richmond, where their two sons, Alfred Ernest (1879) and Edmund Arthur (1880) were born. We can pick them up in the 1881 census at 13 Spring Terrace, Marsh Gate Road, Richmond. Spring Terrace, now in Paradise Road, is an impressive row of Georgian houses. The family were clearly very well off, employing four servants,  a housemaid, a nurse, an under nurse and a cook.

By 1891 they’d moved to 115 Church Road, a large house near the top of Richmond Hill, just as you approach St Matthias Church. Alfred senior, Selina, Mabel and their older son were there. It’s not clear where the younger boy was: perhaps away at school.

Alfred and Selina had decided that their sons should be educated at Harrow as day boys, and so, a few years later, they moved up to North West London, although it would seem that they also retained possession of their Richmond house. Alfred senior died in Harrow in 1898, and the 1901 census found Selina and her sons there, along with two servants. Neither of their sons had a job: the family was so well off that they had no need of paid employment.

We first spot A Beamish as a Harrow chess player in 1903.

Harrow Gazette 05 December 1903

Much more recently, Victoria Hall, in the town centre and very close to where they were living, was, for many years, the home of the current Harrow Chess Club. I played several Thames Valley League games there myself.

At this point we need to look at the controversy concerning the identity of this A (or sometimes AE) Beamish. It seems, on the surface, not unreasonable to assume this was Alfred Ernest, but there were other pointers suggesting it was really Edmund Arthur. There has also been a suggestion that it might have been an Arthur Edmund Beamish, perhaps a distant cousin, who was living in Islington at the time. Given that our brothers were round the corner from this sighting, though, this seems unlikely.

The older brother, Alfred Ernest Beamish, took up the game of tennis, later becoming one of the leading English players of his day, an opponent and occasional doubles partner of none other than Sir George Thomas, an author and administrator. His career was interrupted by the First World War, in which he served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Army Service Corps, so he would have been involved in administrative work. Some secondary sources refer to him as a Captain. Here, you can see his wife offering some tennis tips.

The younger brother, Edmund Arthur Beamish, by contrast, was a soldier. Although he was without employment in 1901, he had previously signed up to fight in the Second Boer War, serving as a Lieutenant in the 28th Battalion Imperial Yeomanry, and would rejoin, also serving, like his brother, in the First World War, where he reached the rank of Captain in the 1/18th Battalion  London Regiment.

To identify the chess player for certain, we need to spin forward to the year 1912. AEB took part in the Australasian Open Tennis Championship in December that year, reaching the finals of both the singles and doubles, leaving London on the Themistocles on 12 September, and arriving back home on board the Omrah on 14 March 1913.

Meanwhile, the chess playing AB was competing in the City of London Chess Championship at the same time, which tells us that the tennis player couldn’t possibly have been the chess player.

There’s corroborative evidence as well: both brothers, like their half-sister, preferred to use their middle names. When EAB joined the army in 1899 he gave his name as plain Arthur, and when AEB returned from his tennis tournament, his name on the register of passengers was A Ernest Beamish.

So we’ll assume from now on that EAB (not AEB) was the 1903-1914 chess player referred to in the press as A Beamish or AE Beamish.

Returning to 1904, in February that year Emanuel Lasker gave a simultaneous display against members of the Metropolitan Chess Club at the Criterion Restaurant in London, allowing consultation. He won 19 games and drew 1, playing black against Messrs Beamish and Lowenthal in consultation. This must have been our Mr Beamish: his consultation partner was probably Frederick Kimberley Loewenthal.

It seems Lasker missed a few chances for an advantage here. As always, click on any move for a pop-up window.

In 1905 he took part in the Second Class Open section of the Kent County Chess Association tournament at Crystal Palace, scoring 5 points for a share of 4th place. Our friend Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk tied for first place.

British Chess Magazine May 1906

Here is is, third from the right in the top row, playing for Hampstead in 1905-06.

In 1906 he competed, along with his cousin Ferdinand, in the British Chess Championships in Shrewsbury. He was unable to stay for the full fortnight, so was placed in the One-Week First Class section.

A pretty good performance: drawing with the very strong Herbert Levi Jacobs was no mean feat.

This ‘short and sweet’ game, against an opponent who understandably preferred to remain anonymous, was published later the same year. At this time he seemed closely involved with four chess clubs: Harrow, Hampstead, Metropolitan and City of London.

Edmund Arthur Beamish took part in the prestigious City of London Club Championship on four occasions, but without conspicuous success. In 1907-08, 1909-10 and 1910-11 he finished down the field, but with occasional good results against master opponents. In the 1912-13 Diamond Jubilee Tournament, which had four preliminary sections, he again struggled.

In this game from the 1910-11 event he scored a notable scalp, although it must  be said that Wainwright was playing well below his usual strength in the tournament.

In this game from the same event Beamish had rather the worse of the opening, but managed to turn the tables and, although he missed a neat mate in 3, brought home the full point.

His opponent in this quick win finished in last place.

In early 1911 he married Edith Ada Jenner, and, by the time of the census they had set up home at 10 Fairholme Road, West Kensington. He described himself in the census is ‘late Lieutenant Imperial Yeomanry’. They would go on to have two children, Desmond (1915) and Selina (1918), both born in Hastings.

In 1912 the British Championships took place in his home town of Richmond, and he entered the First Class A section.

A pretty good result, even though his loss against Arthur Compton Ellis was awarded a Best Game Priz.

By now he’d transferred his allegiance from Harrow and Hampstead to his local club, West London.

But soon war intervened, and, now with two young children to support, he didn’t return to the chessboard.

By the time of the 1921 census he was visiting his elderly mother, who was living in the family home back in Richmond. He now had a job, working as an accounts clerk for R Seymour Corporate Accountant. There were three servants in residence, a nurse, a cook and a parlourmaid. His wife and children, meanwhile, had moved in with her elderly parents in Hastings. Had their marriage broken up, I wonder.

And then, in 1935, he made an unexpected comeback. Over the next few years he played regularly for Middlesex in county matches, and in congresses in Hastings, London and Margate, often with some success. It seems that a twenty year break and advancing years didn’t affect his chess strength.

I’ve only managed to locate one game from these years, a loss against the Dutch Ladies’ Champion Fenny Heemskerk.

Here’s the crosstable from that event.

The 1939 Register found EAB, his wife and daughter living together in the old family home, 115 Church Road, Richmond. He was described as a retired army captain. They had no domestic staff and some of the rooms had been let out to others, so perhaps they weren’t as well off as they had been.

Although he was living in Richmond and very active again in both county and tournament chess, he doesn’t seem to have joined any of the clubs in our Borough. He did, however, make a guest appearance at Barnes Police Station in 1941, playing in a simul against his brother’s old tennis chum Sir George Thomas (they had played out a draw in the City of London Club Championship 30 years earlier).

Richmond Herald 08 November 1941

In the same year he joined West London Chess Club, which, while most clubs had closed, was flourishing with an impressive range of members and activities. EAB played regularly in matches against a variety of opponents as well as competing in their regular lightning tournaments and other internal competitions.

Here’s a club photograph from 1943. Beamish is second from the right in the front row.

West London Chess Club Gazette October 1943

In this game he played on Board 1 against Upminster: his opponent was an undertaker by profession. The West London Chess Club Gazette describes it as ‘an example of the fatal consequences of a premature attack’, but Stockfish points out that White missed a win on move 11.

He returned to tournament play after the war, taking part in the Major A section at Hastings in 1945-46. With the London League returning to action, he played 12 games for West London, scoring 6 wins, 4 draws and only 2 losses.

Shortly afterwards he was taken seriously ill, and died on 13 October 1946, at the age of 66. His club published a fine tribute to one of their strongest and most respected members.

I wonder what happened to his extensive Chess Library. Does anyone at West London Chess Club know?

EdoChess gives his rating before WW1 as just below 2100, which seems reasonable: a strong club player who could score the occasional result against master standard opposition. His cousin Ferdinand was perhaps slightly weaker, although he played some highly entertaining chess.

There’s one more mystery, there was an A Beamish playing for Devon in the years leading up to World War 1, mostly by correspondence but occasionally over the board. I can’t find any Devon connection for him, but his Uncle Albert, about whom very little seems to be known died in Devon in 1920. Was it him? Who knows?

And who knows where my next Minor Piece will take you?

Sources and Acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk
findmypast.co.uk
Wikipedia
English Chess Forum (contributions from Gerard Killoran and others)
West London Chess Club Gazette
BritBase (John Saunders)
EdoChess (Rod Edwards)
YouTube

 

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Minor Pieces 55: George Tregaskis

Last time I looked at the short but eventful life of Arthur Compton Ellis. He seemed to have a very good chess playing friend in George Tregaskis.

It’s time to find out more. Let’s start with this charming photograph, which, for rather obscure reasons, ended up in a museum collection in British Columbia.

As you might have guessed, the name Tregaskis is of Cornish origin, but George, the young man in this photograph, moved to London, finding work as a Fire Insurance Clerk. He married Annie Isabella Balfour in 1883, fathering four children, our George (born 18 February 1884), Oswald, Annie and, very much later, Frances.

We can pick him up in the 1901 census: the family is living at 36 Alderbrook Road, just south of Clapham Common, and George Junior, aged 17, has the same occupation as his father. Although George Senior doesn’t seem to have been a competitive chess player himself, he must have taught his children to play.

George Junior’s job would probably have involved gaining experience in different insurance offices in different parts of the country. We have a one-off mention of G Tregaskis playing for West Bridgford (Nottingham) in an away match against the Belgrave club of Leicester, where he won both his games on Board 4. This is quite likely to be our man, but we can’t be certain.

By 1911 he’d moved to Stoke on Trent, where the census found him living as a lodger with a widow, Lois Toft, and her 24 year old daughter Evangeline Maud. Everyone should have a daughter named Evangeline Maud. He joined the nearby Hanley Chess Club and, by October 1912, was chairing the county AGM. The 1912 edition of Kelly’s Directory tells us he was the District Superintendent, working for the Sun Insurance Office, 10 Pall Mall.

As you’ll have seen last time, his friend Arthur Compton Ellis (you’ll find three games played between them if you follow the above link) suddenly appeared in Stoke in early 1913. George and Arthur both played in a congress in Hastings, where George, in his first tournament, performed outstandingly well. Would this be the start of a glittering chess career?

You then saw that, in July 1913, the two friends suddenly left town: Arthur moved back to London, and then, tragically, to Oundle, while George’s work took him to Bristol.

He did, however, return to Stoke later in the year, when he tied the knot with his landlady’s daughter, Evangeline. It seems that his new mother-in-law joined him in Bristol, where the three of them set up house together.

He didn’t waste much time joining the local chess club.

Falkirk Herald 03 December 1913

Observant readers will notice that the unfortunately initialled FU Beamish shared a surname with one of Arthur Compton Ellis’s opponents. You’ll find out more very soon.

The winner of this event was Scottish born Master Baker Henry Pinkerton, with George Tregaskis finishing in second place.

For a while chess in Bristol continued during the First World War, but there’s little mention of activity between 1915 and 1920.

In December 1920 Bristol & Clifton played their first match against Swindon in a decade.

Western Daily Press 20 December 1920

George had some interesting teammates. Comins Mansfield, on top board, was one of the leading chess problemists of the last century, and also a strong over-the-board player.

Agnes Augusta Talboys, down on board 14, was an artist whose paintings often involved her two passions, chess and cats. With any luck, she’ll be the subject of a future Minor Piece.

The 1921 census recorded George, Evangeline and Lois, along with a young general domestic servant, living at 21 Clyde Road, Bristol. George was working at the Sun Insurance Office as an Insurance Clerk, Evangeline was performing Home Duties, while Lois had no occupation. There would be no children of the marriage.

The following year, George Tregaskis, nine years after his tournament debut, finally had another opportunity to take part in a major event. As the champion of the West of England, he was invited to take part in the top section what would be the first of three biennial tournaments in the Somerset resort of Weston super Mare. International stars Geza Maroczy and Boris Kostic took on some of England’s leading players, headed by Sir George Thomas and Fred Yates.

The very unexpected winner, at the age of 63, was Joseph Henry Blake, as you’ll see below.

(Apologies to Fred Dewhirst Yates: ChessBase, annoyingly, still haven’t got his name right. It also cut off the last letter of Mr Louis’ third forename while seemingly being ignorant of our hero’s full name.)

You’ll also see that it didn’t go well for Tregaskis. In the very first round he provided the talented but erratic Hubert Price with his only win. In Round 2 he opened his account with a draw against Mackenzie, in a game which went into a second session.

His third round game was also a long one.

Western Daily Press 18 April 1922

Stockfish doesn’t think Mr Tregaskis ever had the upper hand, but you can judge for yourself. Click on any move for a pop-up window.

In the next round he faced Kostic, starting well enough, but, as so often happens when an amateur plays a master, he lost the thread in the middle game, after which his king fell victim to a snap attack, ending up uncomfortably on h4.

In Round 5 Tregaskis lost to Louis, but in the sixth round he managed to double his score with a draw against Spencer. The press reports suggest that his opponent missed a win.

Round 7 saw a heavy defeat against the eventual tournament winner, who played one of his pet opening variations.

In Round 8 George Tregaskis faced Yates, and managed to take him to a second session before capitulating. In the final round, despite having the white pieces against Maroczy, he lost quickly to a mating attack.

From the evidence of these games, it seems he was rather out of his depth against master standard opponents. Sometimes he went wrong in the opening, and, if he survived that part of the game he defended doggedly, but usually in vain.

Two years later he was back at Weston Super Mare, but this time relegated to the second section, billed as the ‘Minor Open’, where he managed 50% against strong amateur opposition. Max Euwe won the top section ahead of Sir George Thomas.

Later that year he left Bristol, moving to Kent, where he soon joined Bromley and Beckenham Chess Club as well as the Insurance Chess Club, and also represented Kent in county matches.

In this 1925 encounter on Hastings Pier he just missed playing a ‘brilliant young Russian from Hastings’.

Brighton Herald 10 October 1925

Some interesting names on both sides, some of whom you’ll be meeting in future Minor Pieces.By 1928 the family had moved across South London to Sutton, where George, Evangeline and Lois were recorded as living in a house called The Crest in The Downsway, half way between the town centre and Royal Marsden Hospital, a tree-lined road of large detached houses: suburban living at its finest. As a result of this move he changed his county allegiance from Kent to Surrey.

In this match, played at St Bride’s Institute, a venue all London players of my generation will remember well, he helped his new county to an overwhelming victory.

Kent & Sussex Courier 08 March 1929

In this match from 1930, Surrey were defeated by their northern rivals from Lancashire.

Liverpool Daily Post 13 October 1930

You can find out more about the Lanacshire boards 8 and 11 here. You’ll also spot Cecil Frank Cornwall: in those days it was the custom that county champions automatically played on top board.

George Tregaskis was also playing for Battersea at this time, although he lived some way away. Perhaps it was convenient for him to drop in on his way home from work.

Here he is, captaining the Insurance Chess Club in a one-sided match against the War Office.

Falkirk Herald 18 February 1931

George also played for Lud-Eagle in the London League.

Kensington News and West London Times 30 March 1934

I’m guessing Board 13 was Percival Guy Laugharne Fothergill, who, as we’ve seen, appeared to compose as PGLF and play as G Fothergill.

You’ll see that the match was undecided due to that quaint old-fashioned concept of adjudication. Oh, wait a minute…!

He had an interesting opponent in this 1935 county match against Essex.

Eastern Counties’ Times 21 February 1935

(Isaac) Reginald Vesselo would go on to found the Chess Education Society. (He appeared on my Twitter timeline the other day as an attendee at the Ximenes 1000 Crossword Dinner: the 1st prize for that crossword was won by chess sponsor, problemist and banker Sir Jeremy Morse.) The Essex board two, Richard ‘Otto’ Clarke, would go on to devise the BCF Grading System. We’re now getting towards my time: many of my contemporaries would have known and played Frank Parr. I played both Nevil Coles and Jack Redon (whom I knew very well, but that’s another story for another Minor Piece.)

In this 1936 London League match he was up against an even more interesting, and perhaps rather disturbing, opponent.

Kensington News and West London Times 27 March 1936

Yes, this was indeed Aleister Crowley, ‘wickedest man in the world’ and star of The (Even More) Complete Chess Addict. One wonders whether George enjoyed the post mortem.

He continued playing up until the outbreak of World War II, taking 6th place behind Harry Golombek in the 1939 Surrey Championship.

At this point George, his wife and mother-in-law, moved down to Hove. Did his job take them there, or did they consider it prudent, with war imminent, to leave London? In the 1939 Register their address is given as 87 Hove Park Road, and his job is still an Insurance Superintendent. Although there was some chess being played in Sussex during the war, he seems to have decided it was time to hang up his pawns.

Lois Toft died on 6 December 1945, leaving only £141 15s 4d, with probate granted to her daughter. George died on 12 September 1959, leaving £3122 15s 5d. His address was given as 15 The Droveway, Hove, parallel to and immediately north of Hove Park Road. Evangeline moved to Goring-by-Sea, near Worthing, dying four years later, on 18 September 1963, and leaving £11143 14s.

Although he never fulfilled the promise of his first tournament appearance, George Tregaskis was a strong club and county player (EdoChess considers him about 2000 strength) who contributed much to chess, as an administrator as well as over the board, for almost 30 years. He deserves to be remembered.

There’s one nagging question, though. I still wonder about his relationship with Arthur Compton Ellis. Were they any more than just close friends? Was his marriage to Evangeline motivated by friendship rather than passion? Would this explain why his mother-in-law always lived with them? I don’t know: perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but perhaps he was hiding a story very similar to that hidden by his Lud-Eagle teammate Henry Holwell Cole. At some point there may well be more about him in another Minor Piece.

 

Sources and acknowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk
findmypast.co.uk
Google Maps
chessgames.com
English Chess Forum
EdoChess
ChessBase/Stockfish 15.1
Hastings Chess Club website

 

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Remembering GM Daniel (“Abe”) Yanofsky OC QC (25-iii-1925 05-iii-2000)

BCN remembers GM Daniel Yanofsky OC QC (25-iii-1925 05-iii-2000)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976)by Anne Sunnucks:

YANOFSKY, Daniel Abraham (1925- )
International Grandmaster (1964), Canadian Champion in 1941, 1943, 1945, 1947,1953, 1959, 1963 and 1965, British Champion in 1953. Abe Yanofsky, was born in Brody, Poland, on 26th March 1925. His parents were Russian and had left their native country a few months earlier on their way to Canada, to which they were emigrating. They eventually arrived at their destination when Yanofsky was 8 months old.

When he was 8 Yanofsky saw a chess set in a shop window and persuaded his father to teach him the game. He joined Winnipeg Jewish Chess Club and when he was 11 his obvious talent was noticed by Bernard Freedman, Treasurer of the Canadian Chess Federation, who was visiting Winnipeg. Freedman was responsible for Yanofsky playing in his first tournament a few months later in Toronto. Yanofsky arrived in Toronto determined to get as much chess as possible and put his name down for three tournaments: the Junior Boys’ Championship, which was to be played in the morning; the Senior Boys’ Championship, which was to be played in the afternoon; and the Major Championship, which was to be played in the evening. He withdrew from the Junior Boys’ Championship after 1 round at the request of the organisers, who realised that he was far too strong for that event, and went on to win both the other events.

Daniel Yanofsky playing Max Euwe in 1946 at the Staunton Memorial, Groningen
Daniel Yanofsky playing Max Euwe in 1946 at the Staunton Memorial, Groningen

This was the first of a number of successes which to his selection as a member of the Canadian team to play in the Chess Olympiad at Buenos Aires in 1939, where on 2nd board he scored 84.4 per cent and attracted the notice of the World Champion, Alekhine, who spent many hours going over Yanofsky’s games with him.

Daniel Yanofsky, 1946
Daniel Yanofsky, 1946

On his return to Canada Yanofsky had to divide his time between earning a living, completing his education and playing chess. Before joining the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve in 1945, Yanofsky graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Science degree, and, apart from his victories in the Canadian Championship, won lst prize at Ventnor City 1942 and the United States Open Championship the same year.

After his discharge from the Navy Yanofsky played at Groningen 1946 and came 14th out of 20. However his score included a win against Botvinnik and a 50 per cent score against the five top Russian players. After Groningen he ‘played in Switzerland, Spain, England, Denmark and Iceland before returning to Canada. His main successes were 2nd
at Barcelona 1946; lst at Reykjavik 1947 and 2nd at Copenhagen 1947.

Back in Canada, Yanofsky enrolled at Manitoba Law School and played little chess until he had graduated in 1951, having won the University Gold Medal in Law and five scholarships. He decided to do a post-graduate course in Law at Oxford University and left for England later that year. In 1952 he was awarded the Viscount Bennett Scholarship as the most outstanding law student in Canada by the Canadian Bar Association.

From the 1952 Ilford Congress (30 May - 2 June) and originally published in BCM, July 1952, page 187. (l-r) : Harold Israel, Alan Phillips, Bob Wade, Otto Friedman, Abe Yanofsky, Alfred William Bowen and Harold Meek. Thanks to John Saunders and Leonard Barden
From the 1952 Ilford Congress (30 May – 2 June) and originally published in BCM, July 1952, page 187. (l-r) : Harold Israel, Alan Phillips, Bob Wade, Otto Friedman, Abe Yanofsky, Alfred William Bowen and Harold Meek. Thanks to John Saunders and Leonard Barden

While in England Yanofsky added to his chess reputation by winning the British Championship in 1953 and tying for 1st prize at Hastings in the same year.

Yanofsky with Edward Lasker at the 1952/3 Hastings Congress, They are studying a (then) new line of the Marshall Ruy Lopez pioneered by Oxford don Sir Theodore Tylor.
Yanofsky with Edward Lasker at the 1952/3 Hastings Congress, They are studying a (then) new line of the Marshall Ruy Lopez pioneered by Oxford don Sir Theodore Tylor.

Since then he has played regularly for Canada in Chess Olympiads since 1954.

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper and Whyld:

YANOFSKY, DANIEL ABRAHAM (1925- ), Canadian player. International Grandmaster (1964), international Arbiter (1977). He was born in Poland of Russian parents who took him to Canada when he was eight months old; his childhood was spent in Winnipeg where he learned the moves of the game when he was 8 and improved so rapidly that at the age of 14 he was selected to
represent Canada in the Buenos Aires Olympiad 1939; In this event he made the highest percentage score at second board (+12=3 — 1), In 1941 he came equal first with H. Steiner in the US Open Championship, won the title on tie break, and also won the Canadian Championship (for the first of eight times). After the Second World War Yanofsky played in several tournaments including the Saltsjöbaden interzonal 1948, in which he shared eleventh place.

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

He then began law studies, completing them so brilliantly that he was offered five scholarships for postgraduate work. He chose Oxford, While in England he won, with case, the British Championship 1953, Returning to Winnipeg he became a successful lawyer active in civic politics. His chess career took second place although he found time to play in several tournaments and in many Olympiads from 1954. Yanofsky wrote of his early life in Chess the Hard Way! (1953); he excelled in the endgame and there are many examples in this book of his prowess in this phase.

Chess the Hard Way!, Daniel Yanofsky, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1953.
Chess the Hard Way!, Daniel Yanofsky, Sir Isaac Pitman & Sons, 1953.

The second edition (1996) of Hooper & Whyld reduces DAFs entry to a mere five lines!

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek (but written by Nathan Divinski):

A Canadian grandmaster, Yanofsky was born in Poland, came to Canada in 1926 and was raised in Winnipeg. He played 2nd board for Canada in the 1939 Olympiad and won his first (of eight) national titles in 1941, dethroning the eight-time champion Maurice Fox, Yanofsky had wins at Ventnor City 1942, The US Open 1942 and was =1st at Hastings 1953.

Tournament Crosstable for Hastings Christmas Congress, 1952/53 Premier
Tournament Crosstable for Hastings Christmas Congress, 1952/53 Premier

He won the British Championship in 1953, 1.5 points ahead of the field:

Tournament crosstable for British Championship, 1953 at Hastings
Tournament crosstable for British Championship, 1953 at Hastings

Yanofsky tied for 4th in the 1957 Dallas tournament and became a grandmaster in 1964.
At Groningen 1946 Yanofsky beat Botvinnik in their individual game. He has led many of the Canadian Olympiad teams.

Yanofsky is a lawyer with post-graduate studies at Oxford. He edited Canadian Chess Chat for several years and is active in civil politics.

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

He is an expert on the Ruy Lopez and the French Defence, though his strongest point is his endgame play.

From Chess Facts and Fables, Edward Winter, McFarland Publishing, 2006, page 91:

Yanofsky’s Prize

From page 39 of Chess the Hard Way! by D.A.Yanofsky (London, 1953), comes this passage regarding the 1939 Olympiad in Buenos Aires:

“By winning the next two games I scored 9.5 points out of a possible 10 and was awarded a silver cigarette holder inscribed : “Mejor Jugador del Torneo” (best player of the tournament)”

Times have certainly changed, as it is hard to imagine that organisers today would offer a 14-year old boy anything smacking of smoking.  (3003).

 

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (120, 2000), Number 4 (March), pp. 223 (presumably by) John Saunders we have this obituary:

DANIEL ABRAHAM YANOFSKY

Obituary of “Abe” Yanofsky (26 iii 1925 – 5 iii 2000)

ABE YANOFSKY has died in Winnipeg after a long illness. Born in Poland, he emigrated to Canada with his family when eight months old. Learning the moves at eight, Yanofsky lost his first three games to his father but next day scored his first chess victory. He was already an acknowledged chess prodigy at 11, giving simultaneous displays and winning the championship of Manitoba at the age of 12. His big break came at the age of 14 when he was selected to play for Canada at the 1939 Buenos Aires Olympiad, achieving an 85% score, including a famous win over Dulanto which moved world champion Alekhine to watch all his remaining games in the tournament.

In 1941 Yanofsky won the first of eight Canadian Championships.

 

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

After war service in the navy, he played in a number of tournaments in Europe, defeating Botvinnik in a game at Groningen 1946.

Later that year he finished second to Najdorf in Barcelona, and then fourth at Hastings L94617. Other continental tournaments followed, including the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal of 1948. He returned to Canada where he was an outstanding law student, returning to Europe in 1951 to embark on a post-graduate law course at University College, Oxford, the funding being subsequently supplemented by his winning a $1,000 scholarship for being the most outstanding Canadian law student of 1952.

Yanofsky finished second at the I951/2 Hastings Premier, and took part many other UK competitions, crowning his UK-based period by winning the 1953 British Championship at Hastings: he scored a (then) record 9.5/11 despite a first round loss to DM Horne. In 1953 he also published an account of his chess adventures entitled Chess The Hard Way!

He returned to Canada to establish a successful career as a lawyer and politician in Winnipeg, though finding time to play in national championships and 11 Olympiads between 1939 and 1980. He edited Canadian Chess Chat for a number of years.

How to Win End Games, D.A. Yanofsky, Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd., 1957
How to Win End Games, D.A. Yanofsky, Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons Ltd., 1957

He became the British Commonwealth’s first FIDE grandmaster in 1964 (ed: although some might claim that Jacques Mieses was the first)

100 Years of Chess in Canada, D. A. Yanofsky, Chess Federation of Canada, Winnipeg., 1967

 

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

Leonard Barden reveals:

We lived in the same house in Oxford for a year, but never played or analysed together during all that time, as Dan’s focus was entirely on his academic work and his then pregnant wife, Hilda.

On March 26th, 2020 Chessbase published this article by Max Berchtenbreiter

Here is his Wikipedia entry.

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky

Here is a bullet pointed list of achievements compiled by David Cohen

A similar listing to the above from the Chess Federation of Canada web site

DAYs chessgames.com listing

 

Daniel Yanofsky
Daniel Yanofsky
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Minor Pieces 54: Arthur Compton Ellis

Then Ellis comes with rapid transit,
And few there are who can withstand it;
Some day soon he’s bound to land it.

So said the bard of Richmond Chess Club at their 1911 AGM. Arthur Compton Ellis was a man who lived his life, as well as playing his chess, with rapid transit. Although he spent little more than two years in the area, he flashed like a meteor across the Richmond and Kew chess scene.

Let’s find out more.

Our story starts on 20 September 1887, with the marriage between George Frederick Ellis, a surveyor aged 39 and Margaret Fraser, aged 31. Rather late for marriage in those days. Their only child, Arthur Compton Ellis’s birth was registered in the Pancras district of London in the first quarter of 1889.

In the 1891 census the family are living in Kentish Town. George is working as a Surveyor of Roads and Sewers, and they’re doing well enough to employ a servant. By 1901 they’ve moved a mile to the north, close to Parliament Hill Fields: George is now, just like James Richmond Cartledge would be a few years later, a Deputy Borough Engineer and Surveyor. Margaret is, perhaps unexpectedly, working as a Physician and Surgeon, while Arthur is at school. There were no domestic staff at home.

Arthur moved from school to the University of London, where he graduated with a BA in 1909, at the age of only 20. In the same year his father died: the death was registered in Camberwell, South London.

Perhaps he discovered the game of chess at university. He may also have discovered religion. In 1908 he was baptised at St Luke’s Church, Kew, with his address given as 40 West Park Road, right by Kew Gardens Station. At this point the family appeared to have connections, then, with both the Richmond/Kew area and South London.

He first turns up playing for Richmond Chess Club in December 1908, losing his game on bottom board in a London League match against Ibis.  It looks like he joined the club on the completion of his studies. Although he seemed to be struggling in match play at this point, in April 1909 he finished second in a lightning tournament, which, that year, replaced the annual club dinner.

In 1910, now styling himself A Compton Ellis, he was advertising his tuition services in the Daily Telegraph. LCP was a teaching qualification.

Daily Telegraph & Courier (London) 04 March 1910

By Summer 1910 he felt confident enough to take part in a tournament. The British Championships took place that year in Oxford, and Arthur was placed in the 3rd Class C section.With a score of 10½/11, it was clear that he was improving fast, and should have been in at least the 2nd Class division. The prizes were presented by none other than William Archibald Spooner.

A handicap tournament also took place there, in which he won first prize: a model of the earth with a clock inside, enabling him to ascertain the time of day in any part of the world. This prize was donated by its inventor, James Haddon Overton, a schoolmaster from Woodstock.

In September that year, not content with only playing at Richmond, where he had now reached top board in a match against Acton, he was one of the founders of a new club in Kew.

Richmond Herald 29 October 1910

Richmond and Kew weren’t his only clubs, either. He was also a member of South London Chess Club, about which there’s very little information online.

In this London League game he fell victim to a brilliant queen sacrifice. Click on any move in any game in this article for a pop-up window enabling you to play through the game.

Arthur Compton Ellis was infectiously enthusiastic, ambitious and seemed to have contacts with a number of strong amateur players, mostly from the Civil Service, as is demonstrated by this event.




Richmond Herald 04 February 1911

A win against our old friend Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk was also evidence that Arthur was developing into a formidable player.

The 1911 census found Arthur and his mother still living at 40 West Park Road, Kew Gardens. Arthur gave his occupation as ‘Tutor’ while there was no occupation listed for Margaret.

By then it was time for another tournament. The Kent and Sussex Chess Congress, run by the Kent County Chess Association took place over Easter at this time. It’s little written about today, but it attracted some of the country’s top players. The top section in the 1911, for example, played in Tunbridge Wells, was won by Yates ahead of Gunsberg. The organising committee, coincidentally, included the Kent secretary Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson, and the Sussex secretary, Harold John Francis Spink Stephenson. Arthur Compton Ellis took part in the third section down, the Second Class Open, where he was again too good for the opposition, finishing on 8½/10, half a point ahead of Battersea veteran Bernard William Fisher (1836-1914), who had been a master standard player back in the 1880s. Visitors included Frank Marshall, who gave a simul and a talk, and Joseph Blackburne, who gave simuls and played consultation games. Horace Fabian Cheshire gave a talk, with lantern slides, on chess players past and present, and also an exposition of the game of Go. It sounds like a good time was had by all.

Arthur persuaded Frank Marshall to visit Richmond and give a simul against members of local chess clubs, and that was duly arranged.

The AGM in September would report as follows:

Richmond Herald 30 September 1911

Always eager to play in any event, he won the Dalgarno-Robinson chess trophy, competed for by members of local branches of the Association of Young Men’s Clubs, and played on top board when Richmond Chess Club visited Hastings, drawing his game against the aforementioned Mr Stephenson.

He decided to give the 1911 British Championship, held in Glasgow, a miss, though. Perhaps he wasn’t prepared to travel that far.

The Richmond Herald was now carrying less chess news, but we know from a report from the other end of Surrey that Kew Chess Club were becoming even more successful.

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser 04 May 1912

You’ll see that Ellis didn’t stand for re-election as captain. This seems to have been because Arthur and Margaret had moved from Kew to South London.

Over Easter 1912, though, he returned to Tunbridge Wells for the Kent and Sussex Easter Congress, this time promoted to the top (First Class Open) section. Now against stronger opposition, this time he found the going tough, only scoring 2½/8.

The winner was the future Sir George Thomas, who wasted little time of disposing of Ellis, who misplaced his queen’s knight on his 11th move.

However, he did have the satisfaction of defeating Fred Brown, one of two chess playing brothers from Dudley. (He had a brother Frank, who was also a strong player. Understandably, in the days when newspapers only gave players’ initials, they were often confused.) Fred shared second place with future BCM editor Julius du Mont in this tournament.

It seems that he was lucky here: his opponent resigned what may well have been a drawn position as he would have had chances of a perpetual check if he’d continued with 32… Kf7!. What do you think?

At the same event, Arthur and his friend from Kew, Montague White Stephens, played in a consultation simul against Blackburne. They were successful after the great veteran uncharacteristically missed a simple mate in 3 on move 19.

Montague White Stevens (1881-1947) was only a club standard player, but he edited the 1914 Year Book of Chess and produced a revised edition of EA Greig’s Pitfalls on the Chess-Board.

In April 1912 a new Chess Divan opened in the Strand, replacing Simpson’s Chess Divan, which had closed a few years earlier, and Gunsberg was appointed its manager. Arthur, who would go almost anywhere for a game of chess, was soon involved.  With lightning tournaments a regular feature, a devotee of rapid transit chess would be in his element.

In May’s lightning tournament there was a full house, with the participants ‘mostly first-class amateurs’. Arthur shared first place with future British Champion Roland Henry Vaughan Scott and future writer and historian Philip Walsingham Sergeant. Lightning chess was proving increasingly popular, and I would assume this tournament was played using a buzzer. But there was an announcement that the following week there would be a five-minute tournament ‘which affords such amusing play’. If you think five-minute chess is amusing, you should try bullet. Arthur would have loved that.

In June there were only 12 players in the lightning tournament, with Arthur Compton Ellis sharing first place with Harold Godfrey Cole, who had played in the previous year’s Anglo-American cable match and would, a couple of months later, take second place in the British Championship. It’s evident from these results that he was a formidable speed player.

He was, inevitably, involved in administration as well.

Globe 22 June 1912

A strong and interesting line-up, you’ll agree, with players such as former World Championship candidate Isidor Gunsberg and top lady player Louisa Matilda Fagan amongst many well-known participants.

This wasn’t a standard all-play-all tournament: rather you could play as many games as you wanted against as many opponents as you wanted, with the player with the best percentage score of those who played at least 20 games winning. It sounds like you could improve your chances by playing lots of games against weaker players. On 22 June the London Evening Standard reported that Ellis had beaten Mrs Fagan and drawn with Scott.

There was further news in three weeks time, when some players had made a lot of progress with their games.

Globe 06 July 1912

In this game against Scotsman John Macalister, a shorthand writer in the Admirality Court, he was winning but went wrong on move 19 in a complex position, eventually falling victim to a queen sacrifice.

By the end of August, Loman and Scott were both on 13/16, with 18 games now required for your score to count, but after that the trail goes dead. It looks to me like the whole concept was rather too ambitious to succeed.

But meanwhile, the 1912 British Championships had taken place in Richmond, familiar territory for Arthur Compton Ellis.  This time he was placed in the 1st Class Amateurs A section.

He made a strong showing with 7/11, sharing 3rd place behind Surbiton ophthalmic surgeon Thomas Wilfrid Letchworth (Wilfred Kirk won the parallel 1st Class Amateurs B section), but at this point he seemed to be a stronger lightning player.

This game shared the prize for the best game played in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd class sections, judged by Thomas Francis Lawrence. The winning move seems pretty obvious to me, though. There is some doubt as to the exact identity of his opponent: three possibilities were put forward in a recent online debate, and you could perhaps add a fourth. I’ll discuss this further in a future Minor Piece.

He later provided brief annotations for the press, where it appeared immediately above a Very Famous Miniature which had been played a few days earlier. I’m sure you’ll recognise it.

Globe 09 November 1912

This thrilling game against music professor Edward Davidson Palmer (he taught singing), in which Arthur ventured the King’s Gambit, is a good demonstration of his fondness for tactical play. His opening failed to convince and Palmer missed several wins, but he ultimately escaped with the full point.

Over the next few months there’s little news of his chess playing, but then something unexpected happens. He turns up in, of all places, Stoke on Trent, or, to be precise, nearby Hanley.

Staffordshire Sentinel 19 February 1913

Why Stoke on Trent? What was he doing there?

There are two possibilities. On Board 2 for Hanley was schoolmaster Joshua Walter Dixon, whom he had met in Oxford back in 1910: they were in different sections of the main event, but both competed in the handicap tournament. Perhaps he had been in touch to offer him employment there, either in a school or as a private tutor.

But look also at Arthur’s opponent from Mecca: George Tregaskis. It appears that Arthur and George were very close friends. They may well have met earlier: George was originally from South London before moving to Stoke for business reasons, so could well have been a member of the South London Chess Club at the time. He also visited the Divan in 1912 when returning to London to visit his family, so, again, they might have known each other from there. Who knows?

Here they are, in the same team, playing for Hanley in a whitewash over Walsall. Their top board, Joseph William Mellor, was a particularly interesting chap.

Staffordshire Sentinel 05 March 1913

Here’s Arthur’s win. He was in trouble most of the way until his opponent went wrong right at the end.

The Kent and Sussex tournament took  place over Whitsun at Hastings in 1913. Arthur and George travelled down together, and were both placed in the First Class A tournament.

Staffordshire Sentinel 14 May 1913

In his first round game against Inland Revenue man David Miller, Arthur switched from his usual e4 to d4, essaying the Colle-Zukertort Opening. It didn’t go well.

Arthur had beaten George in a club match, and, when they were in the same team, played on a higher board, but here it was Tregaskis who came out on top after his opponent miscalculated a tactical sequence.

Here’s how it ended up.

Staffordshire Sentinel 21 May 1913

Unsurprisingly, the masters, Yates and Thomas, outclassed the opposition, who were mostly, with the exception of Middleton and Sugden, strong club players.

A remarkable performance, though, by George Tregaskis in his first tournament, but perhaps slightly disappointing for Arthur Compton Ellis, whose progress seemed, temporarily, to have slightly stalled. Perhaps he needed, as chess teachers always tell their young pupils, to slow down and control his impulses.

With two young and talented new players in their ranks, the future for Staffordshire chess was looking bright. Hanley, after a lapse of three years, won the North Staffordshire League, ‘due in no small measure to the fact that the usual team was greatly strengthened by the inclusion of Mr. A. Compton Ellis, whose enthusiasm for the royal game is unlimited’, according to the Staffordshire Sentinel (4 June 1913).

But then, on 9 July: ‘Local players will hear with much regret that, owing to professional and business reasons, Messrs. A. Compton Ellis and G. Tregaskis have found it necessary to sever their connection with this district.’

George’s work took him to Bristol, as you’ll find out in a future Minor Piece. Arthur returned home to South London. Had he not wanted to remain in Stoke with his friend? Had his teaching work not gone as he’d hoped? We’ll never know.

The two friends kept in touch, playing two correspondence games, one with each colour, over the summer. Although he’d now left the area, Arthur kept in touch with the local paper, followed their chess columns, and submitted these games for publication.

In his game with White, Arthur experimented on move 6, unwisely following a Blackburne game, and, by the next move had a lost position. George concluded brilliantly.

In the game with colours reversed, Tregaskis improved on an Alapin game from the previous year, but went wrong in the ensuing complications. He then resigned a drawn position, missing the saving clause. Ellis’s opponents seemed to have a habit of resigning level positions!

The 1913 British Championships took place in Cheltenham. Arthur Compton Ellis took part again, playing in the First Class B section, where he scored a half point more than the previous year.

This left him in second place behind his Lancashire contemporary Norman Boles Holmes. George Tregaskis wasn’t playing, but you’ll see his other Hanley friend, Joshua Walter Dixon, there in First Class A. Unfortunately, the BCM failed to publish crosstables of these events.

Both Dixon and Ellis scored other successes there: Joshua won two problem solving competitions, while Arthur, although he only finished 7th in the handicap tournament, won a prize in a Kriegspiel (‘a peculiar, and modern, form of chess, unknown to more than 99 per cent. of chess players’) event.

Returning to London, Arthur Compton Ellis submitted two puzzles based on his games to the Staffordshire Sentinel. (The chess editor preferred to remain anonymous: perhaps it was Joshua Walter Dixon.)

It shouldn’t take you too long to find the mate in 4 here.

Staffordshire Sentinel 03 September 1913

Two weeks later he offered a mate in 3, which has, although he seemed not to notice, two solutions, both involving attractive (but different) queen sacrifices. Can you find them both?

Staffordshire Sentinel 17 September 1913

On 13 September Alekhine, on a brief visit to London, agreed to play a simul at the Divan in the Strand. Arthur, of course, was there.

He lost a pawn and was slowly ground down, but did anyone spot he had a fleeting opportunity for a draw in the pawn ending?

The following Monday he left London. He had a new job as an Assistant Master at Laxton Grammar School, part of the same foundation as Oundle School, but catering for local boys.

He soon encountered problems there, coming into conflict with the Headmaster, Rev Thomas Harry Ross. In November he was asked to hand in his notice.



Northampton Chronicle and Echo 27 November 1913

What a tragic end to a short but eventful life. A life that promised much but ended far too soon. A man of great power and considerable ability. An impulsive young man. I think you can see that in his chess as well: at times brilliant, at times speculative, but almost always entertaining. You can also see how well he was thought of by his chess friends. Great power and considerable ability, yes, and also enthusiasm, energy and charisma. Looking back from a 2020s perspective you can perhaps see elements of ADHD and bipolar disorder, which tends to manifest itself between the ages of 20 and 25. Could Laxton have treated him better? Undoubtedly. You can only hope that, these days, someone like Arthur Compton Ellis would be better understood.

If he and his mother had chosen to remain in Kew, perhaps the history of chess in Richmond would have been very different. Had he devoted the next half century to playing and organising chess, you might have seen him as a British Championship contender, and perhaps an organiser of major chess events in my part of the world. If he’d lived a long life he might even have met me, and perhaps my life would have been different. I’d like to think that, as the founder of Kew Chess Club, which later merged with Richmond, some part of his spirit lives on in today’s Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club. Spare a thought for the short but frenetic life of a true chess addict: Arthur Compton Ellis.

There are a few loose ends to tie up. Arthur’s nemesis, Rev Thomas Harry Ross, in the years between the two World Wars, was Rector of Church Langton with Tur Langton and Thorpe Langton, where he would have ministered to the relations of Walter Charles Bodycoat, and perhaps to my relations as well. I’ll take up the story of Arthur’s friend George Tregaskis in a later article.

There’s one other mystery to look at.

Hertford Mercury and Reformer 06 December 1913

St Albans? There’s nothing online yet about chess in St Albans at that time. He seems to have been in South London with his mother between leaving Stoke and arriving at Oundle. I suppose he might have been there late 1912/early 1913, when there was a gap of a few months in his chronology. We can also go back a few years, to May 1907, when AC Ellis, first from St Albans, then from Swindon, who was solving chess problems in the Bristol Times and Mirror.  Was that our man? Was he, perhaps, in those towns for teaching practice? Who knows?

There’s an implication that the family were having some sort of financial problem. There’s also a slight mystery in that the coroner’s report gives his mother’s address as 12 Kilsworth Road Dulwich, while his probate record (he left £560 17s) gave his address as 12 Pickwick Road Dulwich Village. I can’t locate Kilsworth Road (or anything similar) so it may well be a mistake for Pickwick Road, which could also be considered to be in Herne Hill. By 1921 Margaret had returned to Kew, living on her own at 333 Sandycombe Road, just the other side of the railway from where she’d been living ten years earlier. It’s not at all clear when she died: there’s no death record close to Richmond and the family hasn’t been researched. There’s a possible death record in Islington in 1930: perhaps she’d returned to the area where she spent the first part of her life.

Join me again soon for some more Minor Pieces investigating the lives of some of Arthur Compton Ellis’s chess opponents.

 

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk
findmypast.co.uk/British Newspaper Library
Wikipedia
chessgames.com
BritBase (John Saunders)
Yorkshire Chess History (Steve Mann)
Various other sources quoted and linked to above

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Minor Pieces 53: James Richmond Cartledge

You might think I’m biased, but I’ve long thought that the most important people in any chess club are not the players, but the organisers. The secretary, treasurer and match captains who ensure everything runs smoothly.

All successful chess clubs have at least one: the loyal member who stays with the club for decades, through good times and bad times, while others come and go. Turning up for almost every match. Taking on any job that nobody else wants to do. One of those was the subject of this Minor Piece, James Richmond Cartledge.

The first ‘modern’ Richmond Chess Club (there were earlier organisations using the same name, but they weren’t involved in over the board competitive chess against other clubs) was founded in 1893, continuing until 1940 when, as a result of the Second World War, most clubs shut down for the duration and beyond. For most of that period, for over 40 years, James was a fixture at Richmond Chess Club, so much so that, when looking for a middle name, he chose the name of his chess club.  Through the reports of the club AGMs in the Richmond Herald, now conveniently available online, we can trace his changing role in the club as well as the club’s changing fortunes. We can also listen into their discussions, sometimes on subjects which are still relevant today, a century or so later.

But first, we should meet his father, Josiah Cartledge, who was one of the club’s founder members.

Richmond Herald 17 November 1893

Josiah was born in Camberwell, South London, in 1836, so he was now 57 years old. He married a cousin, Marian Frances Bruin, in 1858. (She doesn’t seem to be immediately related to Josiah’s fellow committee member Frederick Arthur Bruin.) A year later a son, Arthur, was born, but tragically Marian died, probably either in or as a result of childbirth.

It wasn’t until ten years later that Josiah married again. His second wife was Frances Victoria Wastie, and their marriage would be blessed by three children, William (1870), Adeline Frances (1872) and James (1874). Josiah and Frances were both chess enthusiasts, competing to solve the problem in their newspaper of choice, the Morning Post, with young Arthur sometimes joining in.

Josiah was a legal clerk, a highly responsible job, and, round about 1873, he became Clerk of the Richmond Petty Sessions, moving out from South London. The 1881 census found the family at 5 Townshend Villas, Richmond, and they were still there in 1891, when his job had expanded: he was also Clerk to the Lunatic Asylum. William was helping him out, while 17 year old James, choosing a different career path, was an architect’s pupil.

It was no surprise then, that, when Richmond Chess Club started up in Autumn 1893, Josiah was one of the first through the door, and, given his status in society, he was a natural choice for the committee.

And here he is, from an online family tree.

Young James was now taking a serious interest in chess and it wasn’t long before his father brought him along to join in.

Here they are at the Annual Supper in 1896.

Before you ask, the Mr James there was no relation to me: it would be a few more years before I joined.

(Edwin Peed James (1853-1933) was a solicitor who hit financial problems, and, after being declared bankrupt, became a commercial traveller.)

Horace Lyddon Pring (1870-1938), a solicitor’s clerk working in accounts, was a young man with boundless energy and ambition. He was not only the club secretary,  but treasurer and match captain as well. He reported that the club now had 45 members, 11 of whom were new, but they’d also lost a few. “One or two of the younger members had become mated so effectually – (laughter) – that they could not get out.” They had also moved to a new venue, having “started in a baker’s shop, but that got too hot for them. (Laughter).” Mr Pring also had a sense of humour.

From later in the report:

Richmond Herald 09 May 1896

You’ll see that they’d attracted at least one strong player in Thomas Etheridge Harper.

At the end of the supper, toasts were drunk to the accompaniment of music. Songs (the popular music-hall ditties and parlour ballads of the time) were sung and the Kew Glee Singers contributed a selection of glees. Musical entertainments of this nature would continue to be a feature of Richmond Chess Club’s social events for many years to come.

An extract from the 1898 AGM shows the club making progress in several ways.

Richmond Herald 08 October 1898

They had to move venues when their landlord put the fees up: still a familiar story for many chess clubs today. Nevertheless, the club was now attracting strong players such as our old friends Charles Redway and Guy Fothergill, and had arranged a visit from one of London’s leading players, Thomas Francis Lawrence. His annual simuls would become a club tradition lasting many years.

There were some exciting prizes for the lucky – or skillful – winners: dessert knives, a preserve dish and a matchbox.

Josiah was more of a social player, but James had a lot more ambition. By 1900 he was starting to play in competitions such as the Surrey Trophy, albeit on bottom board.

Richmond Herald 24 November 1900

He had also acquired a middle name (he was just James at birth), possibly to avoid confusion with his father. Did he choose Richmond in honour of his home town, or of his chess club?

Here he is, then, winning his game against Thornton Heath. which, as often happened in those days, took place in central London rather than at either club.. Richmond had won the Beaumont Cup in its second season, 1896-97, but by now were trying their hand against the big boys, successfully in this case. The Surrey Trophy and the Beaumont Cup, then, as now, were Divisions 1 and 2 of the Surrey Chess League. Some things never change.

By 1901 Josiah’s job had moved to Mortlake while James had a new job as Assistant Surveyor for the Urban District of Barnes The family had moved to Milton House near Mortlake Station, probably somewhere on Sheen Lane near the junctions with Milton Road and St Leonard’s Road today: a location which would have also been handier if you were in the business of surveying nearby Barnes. Adeline and James were still at home with their parents, along with a cook and a housemaid.

By 1904 the club was in something of a slump, having lost a number of strong players they had withdrawn from the Surrey competitions and were only playing friendly matches along with their internal competitions. Both Josiah and James were very much involved, even though James had married Gertrude Francis (sic: it was her mother’s maiden name) Griffiths at Christ Church East Sheen the previous year. Sadly, it was to be Josiah’s last year.

Richmond Herald 27 August 1904

If you’re interested in the notorious Kate Webster case, as I’m sure you are, Wikipedia deals with it here.

James and Gertrude went on to have three children, Raymond Francis (1905), Hilary Frances (1907) and Kathleen Vivian, known by her middle name (1911), but his new responsibilities as a husband and father didn’t stop his involvement with Richmond Chess Club. Although he had been mated, Gertrude still let him out.

1904 saw some of the club’s stronger players returning, and they were tempted to re-enter the Surrey Trophy.  The following year’s AGM would announce that their membership had increased from 24 to 44 within the space of two years. James Cartledge must have been improving fast, as he was now playing on a much higher board.

Richmond Herald 19 November 1904

Six adjudications in a 12 board match seems a bit unsatisfactory, but this situation would be common for many decades to come. You might consider any competition not decided on the night rather bizarre, but adjudications still happen occasionally in the Surrey League today.

At the 1909 AGM, James Richmond Cartledge was elected to the post of Treasurer, “it being remarked that that gentleman had served the club in the capacity of match captain and secretary”.

By the 1911 census the family were living in 10 Palewell Park, East Sheen, just off the South Circular Road. Baby Vivian had arrived a few days earlier, but had not yet been given a name. It was a crowded house, with James, Gertrude and their three young children, James’s sister Adeline, working as a day governess for another family, Gertrude’s sisters Helena and Annie, along with a monthly nurse to look after the baby and a domestic servant.

After the 1911 Richmond Chess Club AGM, hilarity ensued when, during the toasts, the Hon Secretary read out some verses composed by an anonymous member, describing some of the club’s members.

Richmond Herald 15 April 1911

A few days later, another verse appeared: it’s not clear whether or not this was written by the same poet.

Richmond Herald 15 April 1911
It makes McGonagall sound good, doesn’t it? Who knew that EJ Thribb was active in Richmond in 1911?

For several years the committee had been discussing the idea of inviting the British Chess Federation to hold their annual championships in Richmond, and that duly came to pass in 1912. Although the event was very successful, there were very few club members taking part. I’ll perhaps look more at the tournament in a future series of Minor Pieces.

One of the musical guests at the Annual Dinner in April 1914 was Leslie Sarony, who performed ‘popular songs of the light comedian type’.  Leslie, only 18 at the time, would have a long and successful career as a variety artist, writer and performer of novelty songs, and actor. He continued working into his 80s, with appearances in programmes such as Z-Cars, Crossroads and Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Then, in 1914, war broke out. At their AGM the club decided that it was ‘business as usual’, although they had to appoint a new secretary, and their German member, who was fighting for the enemy, was no longer welcome.

Richmond Herald 03 October 1914

There was less opportunity for competitive chess: the Surrey Trophy and Beaumont Cup ran in 1914-15, only the Surrey Trophy was contested in 1915-16, and then the league went into abeyance until the 1919-20 season. Friendly matches continued, though, as in this match between Richmond and their local rivals, which saw Cartledge facing an interesting opponent in Eric Augustus Coad-Pryor.

Richmond Herald 27 November 1915

Although he was now in his 40s, James Richmond Cartledge was still ready to serve his country, and, with his knowledge of engineering, he signed up as a reservist for the Royal Engineers.

The 1917 AGM reported that he had been called up and was in France in the thick of the fighting.

Here he is, on New Years Eve 1919, applying for his Victory Medal.

Back from the war, James returned to his duties at the club with whom he shared a name, now taking the chair at their AGMs.

The 1921 census found him back at 10 Palewell Park, and again working as an Assistant Surveyor and Civil Engineer in the Local Government Service, employed by the Urban District of Barnes. His wife and children were all at home, and they in turn employed a domestic servant.

The 1921 AGM revealed that new clubs had started at Twickenham, Teddington and Barnes. There was also a discussion about how to attract more lady members: it was agreed to offer them a 5 shilling discount on their membership.

Richmond Herald 01 October 1921

If they’d been looking for a new venue, they could have considered the Red Cow Hotel, Sheen Road, Richmond, which, on the same page, was advertising a Large Club Room for hire. Forty years or so later, their offer would be taken up by what was then the Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club.

The following year, the Hon. Secretary, Captain Wilkinson, reported that ‘the club had two lady members. He lent one of them a book on chess and he had neither seen nor heard of her since. He did think, however that chess was a game that women should take up’.

In 1923 the Club Dinner was revived, not having taken place since 1914. The format was very much the same as before, with speeches, prizegivings and  musical entertainment provided by Miss Edythe Florence (contralto), Miss Florence (pianist), Mr. M. J. O’Brien (tenor) and Mr. Len Williams (humorist).

The club’s fortunes waxed and waned over the years, and by 1926, with seemingly little interest in chess in Richmond, and successful new clubs in Barnes and Twickenham proving more attractive for residents of those boroughs, questions were asked about the future.

In 1926 Captain Wilkinson decided to stand down for a younger man.

Richmond Herald 02 October 1926

That younger and more energetic person turned out to be new member Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk, not exactly a young man himself, but with an outstanding record in chess administration within the Civil Service. By the 1929 AGM, things were looking up. Kirk reported that the club had had their most successful season for several years, winning 12 of their 18 matches. Most importantly, although not mentioned in the newspaper report, a decision had been made to merge with Kew Chess Club. They now became Richmond & Kew Chess Club, acquiring new members, including Ronald George Armstrong, a player of similar strength to Kirk, and a new venue enabling them to resume meeting twice a week: once in Richmond and once in Kew. Having an enthusiastic and efficient club secretary makes a big difference. James Richmond Cartledge would still have been very much involved, his experience invaluable in the decision making process.

(Ronald George Armstrong (1893-1952), the son of a Scottish father and French mother, was, unusually for the time, but like Wilfred Kirk, a divorcee. His job involved selling calculating machines. He was clearly a strong player, but didn’t take part in external tournaments.)

In 1930 there was sad news for James as his wife Gertrude died in hospital at the age of 55, but his bereavement didn’t put an end to his chess activities.

By this time Kirk and Armstrong were disputing the top two boards, with Cartledge on board 3, as in this match against their local rivals.

Richmond Herald 18 January 1930

While the Twickenham team lacked big names, their top boards must have been reasonable players. James Young Bell continued playing well into the 1960s: in 1965,  in his late 80s, he played a board below the young John Nunn in a match between Surrey and Middlesex. At this time he was a next door neighbour of Wallace Britten in Strawberry Hill Road, thus providing a link between the two Twickenham Chess Clubs.

In that season, the newly amalgamated club won the Beaumont Cup for the first time since the 1896-7 season, As Wilfred Kirk explained at the AGM, ‘union is strength’. The following season they finished equal first with Clapham Common, but lost the play-off match.

Although they were successful over the board, membership numbers were still modest. The 1933 AGM reported only 24 members. By now James Richmond Cartledge had risen to the post of President, but asked the club not to nominate him again as he was retiring from business and planning to move away from the area. He was persuaded to agree to remain President until he moved,  but in fact that would be further away than he expected. It appears he moved to Ham on his retirement, close enough to continue his membership.

In 1934 they were able to report that they had won the Beaumont Cup for the third time, but lost to Battersea in the final of the Alexander Cup.

Richmond Herald 19 May 1934

The 1934 AGM brought up the important topic of social chess, the secretary’s report suggesting that the club should offer more time for casual games rather than too many tournament and match games. This discussion is still very relevant in all chess clubs today.

Richmond Herald 06 October 1934

The Hon Secretary at the time was Francis Edward Yewdall (1875-1958), one of the club’s stronger players, who, coincidentally or not, had the same job as Cartledge in the neighbouring borough: he was the Assistant Surveyor for the Borough of Richmond.

The last mention we have for James Richmond Cartledge at Richmond & Kew Chess Club is in October 1938, so presumably it was soon after that date that he moved away.

By the time of the 1939 Register he hadn’t gone far. He was staying in the Mountcoombe Hotel in Surbiton, which, coincidentally, had also been the residence of chess problemist Edith Baird back in 1911. He then moved to the south coast: not, like many chess players, to Hastings, but to Bournemouth, where he died in 1943.

Richmond Herald 13 November 1943

Yes, he rendered a long and useful service to the district, but the obituary failed to mention his long and useful service to Richmond (& Kew) Chess Club over a period of almost 40 years, serving at various times as secretary, treasurer, match captain, chairman and president. Although not of master standard, he was a strong club player (I’d guess about 2100 strength) as well. The likes of him, organisers and loyal club supporters, are just as important to the world of chess as grandmasters and champions. In his day it was the habit to drink toasts at club dinners: join me today in drinking a toast to James Richmond Cartledge.

 

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

Wikipedia

 

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