Tag Archives: Deaths

Death Anniversary of Philip Walsingham Sergeant (27-i-1872 20-x-1952)

BCN remembers Philip Walsingham Sergeant who passed away on Monday, October 20th 1952.

PWS was born in Kensington on Saturday, January 27th, 1872 to Lewis Sergeant and Emma Louisa Sergeant (née Robertson) and was baptised at All Saints Church, Notting Hill. According to PWS’s baptism record Lewis was an author.

According to PWS in A Century of British Chess :

“When I was seven years of age – about the period, by the way, in which my father began to teach me Greek – he began also to initiate me into chess. Not that he designed it  as a consolatory set-off to my application to Greek; for he loved the Classics well, though, going up to Cambridge with  small classical exhibition, he had turned to Mathematics, and therein took his degree. ”

According to the 1881 census PWS (aged 9) lived with his parents and numerous siblings : Dorothy (aged 7), Winifred (6), Hilda (5), Bernard (2), John (his grandfather aged 76) and Mary (his grandmother aged 75). They had staff, Elizabeth Fraser and Sarah Martin. They lived at 10, Addison Road, North, Kensington.

According to “Joseph Foster. Oxford Men and Their Colleges, 1880-1892. 2 vols. Oxford, England: James Parker and Co, 1893″ :

PWS attended St. Paul’s School and then Trinity College, Oxford to read Classics where he attained Honour Moderations.

and here is the record from the above publication :

Entry for Philip Walsingham Sergeant in Joseph Foster. <em>Oxford Men and Their Colleges</em>, 1880-1892. 2 vols. Oxford, England: James Parker and Co, 1893
Entry for Philip Walsingham Sergeant in Joseph Foster. Oxford Men and Their Colleges, 1880-1892. 2 vols. Oxford, England: James Parker and Co, 1893

We do not know if PWS played in the Varsity matches of 1892 – 1895 : Britbase does not (yet) include player details for these matches.

PWS married Minnie Boundford (born 27th February 1889) in 1909 in Hampstead and they lived at 5, Dukes Avenue, Chiswick where PWS was listed as an author and Minnie as someone who carried out “unpaid domestic duties”. Minnie was 17 years younger than PWS. Minnie’s father was a joiner and a carpenter.

They had two daughters Margaret (born 1910) and Kathleen (born 1911).

In October 1946 Minnie and PWS remarried. Presumably this was rather unusual in that day and age.

According to The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 2nd edition, 1996) by Hooper and Whyld :

PWS was an English author of biographical games collections for Charousek, Morphy and Pillsbury as well as other works of importance such as A Century of British Chess (1943) and Championship Chess (1938).

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (BT Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :

“A professional writer on chess and popular historical subjects. Without any pretentions to mastership, he represented Oxford University in the years 1892 – 5 and assisted RC Griffith in preparing three editions of Modern Chess Openings.

In chess he dealt with a number of important subjects : Morphy’s Games of Chess, London, 1916; Charousek’s Games of Chess, London, 1919; Pillsbury’s Chess Career (in collaboration with WH Watts), London, 1923; Championship Chess, London, 1938.

All these are lucidly and carefully written but suffer from the defect that, being neither a master player nor a professional annotator, he was not competent to deal with the annotational part of the work. Probably his best book on chess was A Century of British Chess, London, 1934.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXX11 (72), Number 11 (November), page 324 we have this rather brief obituary (presumably written by Brian Reilly):

“We regret to have to report the death, at the age of eighty-one of Philip W. Sergeant, the author of A Century of British Chess, which we imagine is in most chess libraries. He was the author of several well-known historical books – but we are only concerned here with his chess activities, which included representing Oxford University 1892-5; helping RC Griffith with two editions of Modern Chess Openings; playing for Middlesex, winning the chess championship of the authors’ club for several year, and latterly as an honoured member; and occasionally obtaining the championship of the Guildford Chess Club. Our sympathy with his widow and two daughters is sincere.”

He was a cousin of EG Sergeant.

From Wikipedia :

“Philip Walsingham Sergeant (27 January 1872, Notting Hill, London[1] – 20 October 1952)[2] was a British professional writer on chess and popular historical subjects.[3][4] He collaborated on the fifth (1933), sixth (1939), and seventh (1946) editions of Modern Chess Openings, an important reference work on the chess openings. He also wrote biographical game collections of Paul Morphy (Morphy’s Games of Chess (1916) and Morphy Gleanings), Rudolf Charousek (Charousek’s Games of Chess (1919)), and Harry Nelson Pillsbury (Pillsbury’s Chess Career, with W. H. Watts, 1922), and other important books such as A Century of British Chess (1934) and Championship Chess (1938).”

Harry Golombek writes that, “Without any pretensions to mastership, he represented Oxford University in the years 1892-5”.[3] Golombek considers A Century of British Chess probably Sergeant’s best chess book, but opines that although Sergeant’s chess books are lucidly written, they suffer from the defect that, as a non-master, he was not competent to deal with the annotational aspect of his work.

He was a second cousin of Edward Guthlac Sergeant.

Philip Walsingham Sergeant
Philip Walsingham Sergeant
Charousek's Games of Chess
Charousek’s Games of Chess
The Rice Memorial Chess Tournament, 1916
The Rice Memorial Chess Tournament, 1916
Pillsbury's Chess Career, London, 1923
Pillsbury’s Chess Career, London, 1923
A Century of British Chess, London, 1934
A Century of British Chess, London, 1934
An Introduction to the Endgame at Chess
An Introduction to the Endgame at Chess

Death Anniversary of Charles Fox (09-xi-1866 11-x-1935)

BCN remembers Charles Fox (09-xi-1866 11-x-1935)

Charles Masson Fox was born on Friday, November 9th 1866 in Falmouth, Cornwall. his father, Howard, was 29 and his mother, Olivia Blanche Orme, was 22. He had one brother and two sisters.

His sister Olivia Lloyd was born on 5 February 1868 in Falmouth, Cornwall, when Charles Masson was 1 year old. His sister Stella was born on 11 December 1876 in Falmouth, Cornwall, when Charles Masson was 10 years old. In 1881 he was living in Sherborne, Dorset. In 1901 he was once more living in Falmouth and his profession was that of a timber merchant. His brother Howard Orme died on 7 June 1921 in Falmouth, Cornwall. His father Howard passed away on 15 November 1922 in Cornwall. His mother Olivia Blanche passed away on 12 March 1930 in Falmouth, Cornwall, at the age of 85.

Sadly, neither Hooper & Whyld, Sunnucks or Golombek mention Fox in their works.

Here is an extensive article from the British Chess Problem Society (BCPS) written by CJ Feather

From Wikipedia :

“Charles Masson Fox (9 November 1866 – 11 October 1935) was a Cornish businessman who achieved international prominence in the world of chess problems and a place in the gay history of Edwardian England.

Masson Fox was born into a Quaker family (although he was not related to the Quakers’ founder George Fox) and was a cousin of the fraudulent sinologist Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet. Living throughout his life in the Cornish seaside town of Falmouth, Fox in the early decades of his life was a senior partner of his family’s timber firm, Fox Stanton & Company, and was also on the Board of Messrs G C Fox & Company, a long-established firm of shipping agents.

C.M.Fox’s gravestone at Budock Quaker Burial Ground
Fox is described by chess historian Thomas Rayner Dawson (1889–1951) as “a friendly man, kind, mellow, lovable, bringing peace and comfort and serene joy with him”. He was also a discreet but active homosexual. In 1909 he visited Venice with his friend James Cockerton, meeting the writer Frederick Rolfe and becoming the reluctant recipient of Rolfe’s famous Venice Letters, in which the gay subculture of Venice is vividly described.

In 1912–13 Fox was blackmailed by a woman who accused him of seducing her 16-year-old son. Eventually Fox reported the matter to the police and the woman was sent to prison for five years and her son for one year, with hard labour.[1] However, Fox was profoundly affected by the publicity surrounding the case, which was reported in detail in the local press. The predictable result of his courageous action was the destruction of his reputation, and the compromise of his business and social life in Falmouth.

Although he continued to live in Cornwall, the focus of his social life shifted to London, and in the last two decades of his life, Fox became prominent in the world of chess. He was elected President of the Cornwall Chess Association, played a prominent part in the development of the British Chess Problem Society, and is still renowned as one of the greatest ever exponents of fairy chess (chess problems with variations in the rules).”

From The Problemist Fairy Chess Supplement, 1933 :

What is the shortest game
ending in this position?

Charles Masson Fox
Charles Masson Fox

Death Anniversary of WIM Eileen Tranmer (05-v-1910 26-ix-1983)

We remember WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer who passed away on September 26th, 1983.

Eileen Tranmer
Eileen Tranmer

She was the first English woman to be awarded by FIDE the Woman’s International Master title in 1950.

“From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

Miss E. Tranmer was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire in 1910, and learned chess at the age of six. She did not take it up seriously, however, until 1936. Under the tuition of W. Winter she has made notable progress, and her performances include a second prize in the British Correspondence Championship 1944, as well as first prize in one of the subsidiary tournaments at Hastings, 1945.

By profession Miss Tranmer is a musician and has played principal clarinet in the Scottish and Sadler’s Wells Orchestras.”

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CIII (103, 1983), Number 11 (November), page 482-83 (presumably written by Bernard Cafferty) :

“Eileen Tranmer died in hospital at Ticehurst on September 26th after a long illness. Born in Scarborough, May 5th 1910, she was a professional clarinet player and played in a number of prominent British orchestras till forced to retire by deafness.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880870a) Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women's Chess Champion Pictured Here Playing A Clarinet In The Orchestra While Appearing At The Theatre Royal Glasgow.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880870a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Chess Champion Pictured Here Playing A Clarinet In The Orchestra While Appearing At The Theatre Royal Glasgow.

One of the leading British players in the two decades after the war, Eileen won the British Ladies Championship in 1947, 1949 (with a 100% score), 1953 and 1961, and played in the British Championship at Buxton, 1950. Her international record was sparse, as was the case with nearly all English players of that period. Nevertheless, she made her mark in the 1949-50 first post-war Women’s World Championship where she finished 5-7th in a field of 16, beating Bykova, again, and finished 7th in the field of 16.

37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. USA Ladies champion Lisa Lane (L) playing against British Champion Eileen Tranmer
37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. USA Ladies champion Lisa Lane (L) playing against British Champion Eileen Tranmer

We are grateful to WCM Dinah Norman for sending us these memories :

“Eileen Tranmer was one of the best English chess lady players of her generation.

I only played her once at Oxford in an International Ladies Tournament held between 24 July and 1 August 1971. Eileen totally outplayed me and I lost the game.

Eileen was a member of Acton Chess Club where there were three active lady players at that time. They were Jean Rogers, Olive Chataway and Eileen. Eileen lived in Acton then.

Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women's Chess Champion.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880957a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Chess Champion.
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Chess Champion.

Eileen was a professional musician and had to stop playing when she became deaf which was dreadful for her.

In 1969 Eileen, Rowena Bruce and I were selected to play in the Ladies Chess Olympiad Team in Lublin, Poland. Sadly Eileen was taken ill just before the event so Rowena and I had to play all 13 rounds without a break. I was on Board 1 and at the end Rowena and I were exhausted and I had to withdraw from a tournament in the Czech Republic without playing a game. The food in Poland was awful so we said never again!

 

Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women's Champion Chess Player Pictured Playing Some Of The Glasgow Ladies Chess Club At The Green's Playhouse Cafe Glasgow.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (3880958a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Champion Chess Player Pictured Playing Some Of The Glasgow Ladies Chess Club At The Green’s Playhouse Cafe Glasgow.
Miss Eileen Tranmer The British Women’s Champion Chess Player Pictured Playing Some Of The Glasgow Ladies Chess Club At The Green’s Playhouse Cafe Glasgow.

Eileen was very friendly with Harry Golombek. The expectation among the lady chess players was that they would get married but she never did. Harry did not drive and Eileen was very kind driving Harry and his elderly mother around.

Very sadly Eileen’s brother was killed in a car crash and after that Eileen suffered mental problems. Eileen lived near John and Jean Rogers and John said Eileen would turn up at their home in the middle of the night wanting to play chess.

At Hastings 1959-1960 : Yugoslavia's red-haired Milanka Lazarevic and Britain's Eileen Tranmer ran away with the Premier Reserves (afternoon event).
At Hastings 1959-1960 : Yugoslavia’s red-haired Milanka Lazarevic and Britain’s Eileen Tranmer ran away with the Premier Reserves (afternoon event).

The last time I saw Eileen was at Paignton. Her friend Olive Chataway brought her to Paignton and Eileen played in the bottom tournament and did badly. Eileen did not recognise myself or Rowena which was very sad.

 

Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (4745287a) Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women's Chess Champion. Box 556. Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women's Chess Champion. Box 556.
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (4745287a)
Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women’s Chess Champion. Box 556.
Miss Eileen Tranmer 43-year-old British Women’s Chess Champion. Box 556.

Eileen later left Acton and moved to Tring. Eileen was a pleasant and modest person and was well liked. She had a good sense of humour.”

From the obituary in The Times of London we learn that her last few years were over-shadowed by an illness that preyed on her mind.

We take the following game from the August 1944 issue of BCM. The game was played in the BCCA Championship, and curiously enough there was an enquiry about that event to the BCF only a short while ago – a Georgian journalist wishes to quote that wartime performance as an early example of success by a woman in male chess company! ”

Gerald Abrahams in Not only Chess, wrote about Eileen (Chapter 18 : What Achilles Saw Among Women) as follows :

“To revert to the British Ladies, they were joined in the late 1930s by a very able pupil of Miss Menchik, the Yorkshire Clarinettist Eileen Tranmer; a woman whose chess I have seen to express some admirable qualities of mind and character. I had the privilege of watching her is Moscow in 1949-50, when, handicapped by influenza of a particularly virulent kind – what the Russians call “grippe” – she won some five or six consecutive games, to finish in the prize list of the new official Women’s World Championship. There had been two championships before, which Vera has won easily. Since Vera had unhappily perished in the Blitz, they looked at Moscow for her successor.”

Here is her Wikipedia entry

WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce at the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match
WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce at the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match

Death Anniversary of WIM Rowena Bruce (15-v-1919 24-ix-1999)

We remember WIM Rowena Bruce who died this day (September 24th) in 1999.

Rowena Mary Dew was born on Thursday, May 15th, 1919 in Plymouth, Devon. Her father was Clement Warner Harvey Dew and her mother was Mary Jane Rowe.

The Bruce and Dew families circa 1923. Rowena is at the front and on the right aged around four years. Source : ancestry.co.uk
The Bruce and Dew families circa 1923. Rowena is at the front and on the right aged around four years. Source : ancestry.co.uk

She married Ronald Mackay Bruce in July 1940 when she was 21 years old.

Her father Clement Warner Harvey passed away on 7 October 1957 in Plymouth, Devon, at the age of 79. Her mother Mary Jane passed away on 3 August 1958 in Cornwall at the age of 73. Her husband Ronald Mackay passed away in April 1991 in Plymouth, Devon, at the age of 87. They had been married 50 years.

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

“Mrs RM Bruce was born in Plymouth in 1919, and learned chess at the age of twelve. She won the Girls’s World Championship in 1935 and the British Ladies Championship in 1937. During the war she served with the WVS in Plymouth. Apart from chess, she is interested in music and plays the cello.

Rowena practising the cello. Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Rowena practising the cello. Courtesy of Keverel Chess

She is married to RM Bruce, who is a well-known Plymouth player.”

In 1984 both Rowena and Ron received the BCF President’s Award for Services to Chess.

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

“I was taught by my Mother Mrs. May Dew, when recovering from a mastoid operation in 1930, and I joined Plymouth Chess Club on 5th November 1931, aged 12.5.

I started receiving chess tuition from the Plymouth Match Captain, Ronald Bruce in 1934. (Married him in 1940!).

I won the Girls’ World Championship in 1935. I won the British Ladies’ Championship for the first time in 1937, and again in 1950, 1951, 1954, 1959, 1960, 1962 and 1963. I tied for first place in 1955, 1967 and 1969.

I represented Great Britain in the West European Zonal tournament held in Venice 1951, where I finished 2nd. This qualified me to represent Great Britain in the Candidates tournament held in Moscow in 1952. I finished 12th out of 16.

World Chess Championship (Women) 1952 Candidates Tournament
World Chess Championship (Women)
1952 Candidates Tournament

In 1952 we adopted a little girl – Rona Mary.

Other tournaments abroad included zonals in Italy, Yugoslavia and Germany, and Olympiads in Germany, Poland and Bulgaria.

This last-named ended in disaster because I collapsed with a stroke during my second game. Obviously my chess playing was affected, but I was indeed fortunate to make a fairly good recovery.

WIM Rowena Mary Bruce at the 1952 Moscow Candidates tournament
WIM Rowena Mary Bruce at the 1952 Moscow Candidates tournament

I returned to competitive chess playing a year later but, in the meantime, several young players have surged forwards, and that British Ladies’ Championship seems to have become much more difficult to win !

But I now have three grandchildren!

BCN is grateful to WCM Dinah Norman for sending us these memories :

“Rowena Mary Bruce (need Dew) was born on 15 May 1919 and died in Plymouth in 1999. Rowena was the youngest of 3 children born to Harvey and Mary Dew. Mary Dew was a member of the Plymouth Chess Club and tried unsuccessfully to get her 2 sons interested in the game but Rowena was the only child who was interested.

When Rowena was 10 her mother organised private lessons for her with the Plymouth Champion, Ron Bruce. At the age of 21 Rowena married Ron Bruce and it was a very successful and happy marriage. They had an adopted daughter Rona who had no interest in Chess. Rowena had to wait until she was 21 before she could marry Ron. Rowena lived in Plymouth all her life.

Rowena and Ron married in July 1940. Ron and Rowena cemented a formidable playing and organising partnership which benefited chess in Devon for almost half a century.

A stern-looking Rowena offers advice to one of the juniors at the WECU Congress, Easter 1951, in the analysis room at the Penolver Hotel, Newquay. Courtesy of Keverel Chess
A stern-looking Rowena offers advice to one of the juniors at the WECU Congress, Easter 1951, in the analysis room at the Penolver Hotel, Newquay. Courtesy of Keverel Chess

After the War Rowena was one of the leading quartet of British Lady players which included Elaine Pritchard (née Saunders), Anne Sunnucks and Eileen Tranmer. In 1951 Rowena played in the Ladies Zonal in Venice and qualified for the Candidates in Moscow to be played the following year.

AT the age of 53 she qualified for the East European Zonal in Sofia, Bulgaria in 1972. Sadly in Round 2 of that event she collapsed at the board with a major cerebral haemorrhage which left her right side paralysed. By sheer force of will after many months of convalescence she taught herself to speak and walk again. She had to give up playing her cello which was awful for her.

Ladies Chess Tournament Fenny Heemskerk, Rowena Mary Bruce (née Dew), Donner, Architect Date: January 12, 1953 Personal name: Architect, , Bruce, R., Donner, , Heemskerk, Fenny Institution name: Block Chess Tournament - Image ID: 2ARK3JK
Ladies Chess Tournament Fenny Heemskerk, Rowena Mary Bruce (née Dew), Donner, Architect Date: January 12, 1953 Personal name: Architect, , Bruce, R., Donner, , Heemskerk, Fenny Institution name: Block Chess Tournament – Image ID: 2ARK3JK

The steely determination with which she followed her 75 year chess career and her recovery from serious illness belied her gentle nature. She was a modest, kind and gracious person who always thought the best of others.

She won the British Ladies title 11 times.

I shared the title with her in 1967 and 1969 after 2 play offs. She was a very pleasant and sporting opponent.”

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

“International Woman Chess Master and winner of the British Ladies Championship on 10 occasions.

She was taught to pay chess by her mother, who was the Devon Lady Champion, after a mastoid operation when she was 10. In 1931 she joined Plymouth Chess Club, where she met R. M. Bruce, the Devonshire Chess Captain, who coached her and was largely responsible for later success. She married him in 1940.

Opening Ladies Danlon chess tournament in Amsterdam, v.l.n.r. T. Roodzant, F. Heemskerk, I. Larsen, L. Timofeeva, E. Rinder, R. Bruce Date: October 21, 1959 Location: Amsterdam, Noord-Holland Keywords: group portraits, chess Person Name: Bruce, Rowena Mary, Heemskerk, Fenny , Larsen, I., Rinder, Elfriede, Roodzant, Toos, Timofeeva. Lidia - Image ID: 2AW6KHJ
Opening Ladies Danlon chess tournament in Amsterdam, v.l.n.r. T. Roodzant, F. Heemskerk, I. Larsen, L. Timofeeva, E. Rinder, R. Bruce Date: October 21, 1959 Location: Amsterdam, Noord-Holland Keywords: group portraits, chess Person Name: Bruce, Rowena Mary, Heemskerk, Fenny , Larsen, I., Rinder, Elfriede, Roodzant, Toos, Timofeeva. Lidia – Image ID: 2AW6KHJ

In 1935 she won the Girls’ World Championship and two years later the British Ladies’ Championship for the first time. She has won the title outright or been joint holder on 10 occasions in 1937, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963 and 1967.

Mrs Bruce has represented Great Britain in matches against the USSR and the Netherlands and the British Chess Federation in qualifying tournaments for the Women’s World Championship. In Venice in 1951 she came 2nd in the Western European Qualifying Tournament for the Women’s World Championship and thereby qualified for the Candidates tournament in 1952, when she came 12th out of 16.

Rowena at the 1952 Moscow Zonal tournament. Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Rowena at the 1952 Moscow Zonal tournament. Courtesy of Keverel Chess

Apart from chess, her hobbies are music, gardening and bridge.

She is principal ‘cellist in the Plymouth Orchestral Society.”

An obituary (presumably written by John Saunders) appeared in the British Chess Magazine, Volume CXIX (119, 1999), Number 11 (November), page 584 :

“Rowena Bruce died peacefully at home on 23 September following a long illness. Rowena Mary Dew was born in Plymouth on 15 May 1919, and she was taught the game at the age of 10, while she was convalescing from surgery, by here mother Mary Dew, herself a very able player who had been Devon Ladies’ Champion.

Rowena joined the Plymouth Chess Club, where she met her future husband, Ron Bruce, himself a strong player. She won the World Girls’ Championship in 1935 and the British Women’s title two years later. Rowena married Ron in 1940 and won the British title under her married name ten more times (seven outright and three jointly) between 1950 and 1969.

She represented Great Britain in matches against the USSR and the Netherlands. She qualified for the Women’s World Championship by coming 2nd in the Western European Zonal in Venice, and in the subsequent Candidates tournament in Moscow in 1952 she came 12th out of 16. She was awarded the women’s international master title in 1951.

Rowena locking horns with her friend Fenny Heemskerk, who finished in a magnificent 2nd place. Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Rowena locking horns with her friend Fenny Heemskerk, who finished in a magnificent 2nd place. Courtesy of Keverel Chess

The contribution to chess that Rowena and Ron Bruce made to national, west country and Devon chess was well recognised at the highest level, and when the British Chess Federation instituted a new award in 1983, the President’s Award for Services to Chess, they won it jointly in only its second year. Ron died in 1991.

Rowena was a past president of the Devon County Chess Association and the West of England Chess Union and continued playing for Devon until about four years ago when her increasing frailty made it impossible for her to travel to away matches.

Her other accomplishments included music : she was a principal cellist in the Plymouth Orchestral Society. She also partnered husband Ron in strictly non-competitive bridge for many years. She leaves a daughter Rona and three grand-children.”

WIM Rowena Mary Bruce
WIM Rowena Mary Bruce

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsfords, 1977) by Harry Golombek :

“International Woman master and eleven times British Ladies champion or co-champion.

At the age of fifteen in 1935, Miss Dew won the girls World championship and two years later, still under he maiden name, se won the British Ladies championship at Blackpool. Thereafter she won the championship under her married name in 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 and 1969.

Her best international result was a 2nd in the 1951 Western European Zonal tournament, qualifying for the Women’s Candidates tournament in Moscow 1952, where she came 12th/16. She has represented England in a number of team events, has excellent combinative powers, but lacks steadiness in strategy.”

Rowena (far left) during the 1952 Moscow Candidates tournament. Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Rowena (far left) during the 1952 Moscow Candidates tournament. Courtesy of Keverel Chess

David Hooper (seated right) in play at the West of England Championships in Bristol, Easter, 1947. His opponent , ARB Thomas , was that year's champion. Among the spectators is Mrs. Rowena Bruce, the 1946 British Ladies' Champion. BCM, Volume 118, #6, p.327. The others in the photo are L - R: H. V. Trevenen; H. Wilson-Osborne (WECU President); R. A. (Ron) Slade; Rowena Bruce; Ron Bruce; H. V. (Harry) Mallison; Chris Sullivan; C. Welch (Controller); F. E. A. (Frank) Kitto.
David Hooper (seated right) in play at the West of England Championships in Bristol, Easter, 1947. His opponent , ARB Thomas , was that year’s champion. Among the spectators is Mrs. Rowena Bruce, the 1946 British Ladies’ Champion. BCM, Volume 118, #6, p.327. The others in the photo are L – R: H. V. Trevenen; H. Wilson-Osborne (WECU President); R. A. (Ron) Slade; Rowena Bruce; Ron Bruce; H. V. (Harry) Mallison; Chris Sullivan; C. Welch (Controller); F. E. A. (Frank) Kitto.

Here is an interesting article from Tartajubow on Chess

From Wikipedia :

“Rowena Mary Bruce (15 May 1919 – 24 September 1999), née Dew, was an English chess player who held the title of Woman International Master (WIM, 1951). She was an eleven-time winner of the British Women’s Chess Championship (1937, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 and 1969).

Biography
From the end of the 1930s to the end of the 1960s, she was one of England’s strongest women chess players. In 1935, she won the FIDE World Girls Championship. Rowena Mary Bruce won the British Women’s Chess Championship eleven times: 1937, 1950, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1967 and 1969[1]. In 1952, in Moscow, she participated in the Women’s Candidates Tournament where she took 12th place[2]. In 1951, she was awarded the FIDE Woman International Master (WIM) title.

On 21 June 1946, Bruce played (and lost) a “radio chess” match against Lydmilla Rudenko. Bruce was one of two women who were part of a twelve member British team who played in a four day tournament. The British team played their moves in London while the Russian team played their moves in Moscow.”

Rowena with Spassky and the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman Pascho.
Rowena with Spassky and the Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Alderman Pascho.

“Rowena Mary Bruce played for England in the Women’s Chess Olympiads:

In 1966, at second board in the 3rd Chess Olympiad (women) in Oberhausen (+5, =5, -2) where she won an individual silver medal, and
In 1969, at second board in the 4th Chess Olympiad (women) in Lublin (+5, =3, -6).
From 1940 to 1991 she was married to Ronald Bruce (1903–1991)”

WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce
WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce

Death Anniversary of Hugh Blandford (24-i-1917 20-ix-1981)

BCN remembers Hugh Blandford who was a British composer.

Hugh Francis Blandford was born on Wednesday, January 24th in 1917 in South Stoneham, Hampshire, England.

On this day Ernest Borgnine was born and an earthquake measuring 6.3 in magnitude struck Anhui Province, China, causing 101 deaths.

Hugh’s father was the Rev Albert Francis Blandford and his mother was Alice Rhoda Crumpton Evans. Hugh had two younger brothers, Philip Thomas. and Evan Arthur.

The family moved to Jamaica and he spent his early childhood there until he was nine years old when they sailed from Kingston, Jamaica with his family to Bristol on board the SS Carare (Elders & Fyffes Line) :

Passenger Manifest (part) for SS Carare , 30th May 1926.
Passenger Manifest (part) for SS Carare , 30th May 1926.

His mother Alice Rhoda Crumpton passed away on 19 July 1964 in Minehead, Somerset, at the age of 79.

His father Rev Albert Francis passed away in December 1967 in Somerset at the age of 79.

He had three children during his marriage.

He died in Hatfield, Hertfordshire on Sunday, September 20th, 1981.

Blandford is also known for participating in defining the GBR (Guy, Blandford Roycroft) code.

In 1961 he was awarded the title of “International Judge of the FIDE for Chess Composition”

CM Bent wrote the following obituary in the British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 12 (December), page 532 :

“The modest and self-effacing composer who formerly conducted our Studies column from 1951-1972 died in September. His work as a metallurgist and his family responsibilities allowed him to make periodical contributions over a long span and to offer us many of his own original compositions.

His style, as with his manner, was essentially quiet and it was a rarity for him to compose anything other than wins.

His last voluntary labour was to compile an index for E.G. of all studies published there to date. His loss to the world of of studies will be greatly felt.

The first prize winner below is a classic of exquisite refinement and matches the immaculate handwriting which was always such an elegant feature of his work”

Studies by Hugh Francis Blandford
Studies by Hugh Francis Blandford
Solutions to studies by Hugh Francis Blandford
Solutions to studies by Hugh Francis Blandford

See more of his compositions here from the arves.org database.

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“British study composer and FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies. Born on 24th January 1917. Since July 1951, Hugh Blandford has conducted the Endings Section of the British Chess Magazine. By profession a metallurgist, he was married and had two children. Of his 60 or more studies he was best known for the excelsior theme.”

From Wikipedia :

Hugh Francis Blandford (24 January 1917 – 20 September 1981) was a chess endgame composer born in Southampton, England.[1]
He spent several years of his childhood in Jamaica with his father, the Reverend Albert Francis (Frank) Blandford, a Minister in the Congregational church, his mother and two younger brothers, Evan Arthur and Philip Thomas Blandford. All three brothers then returned to England and attended Eltham College (the School for the Sons of Missionaries) in South-east London, while their parents remained in Jamaica. He married Marjorie Cox, whom he had worked with during the Second World War.

He played chess from his schooldays and as well as playing, also started to compose original chess endings. He became known in the field of chess endgame studies for a small but elegant body of compositions, expertly edited and published after Hugh’s death by his long-standing chess endings colleague, John Roycroft.[2]

1st Prize, Springaren 1949, White to move and win
1st Prize, Springaren 1949, White to move and win

Hugh Blandford was co-inventor with Richard Guy – and, later, with John Roycroft – of the Guy–Blandford–Roycroft code for classifying studies.[3] In July 1951 he began as the endgame study editor for the British Chess Magazine.[4][5] He was made an International Judge for Chess Composition[4] in 1961.[6]

A metallurgist, he continued to compose chess endgame studies until the end of his life, dying of a heart attack in early retirement in Hatfield, England, on 20 September 1981.

Death Anniversary of FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

John Eric Littlewood was born in Sheffield on Wednesday, September 16th 1931. His mother’s maiden name was Wheeldon. He last resided in the WN8 postal area of Skelmersdale, Lancashire.

He became a FIDE Master in 1989 at the age of 58. According to Felice his peak FIDE rating was 2395 in January 1980. However, it is almost certain that it would have been higher than that, in the 1960s and 1970s.

John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.

He coached his son Paul who became British Champion in 1981. His brother Norman was also a very strong player.

John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !

From “Chess Coaching” :

John Littlewood is a National Coach and the Director of Junior Chess to the British Chess Federation. He is a FIDE Master with national and international playing experience, and is an established chess write, translator and journalist.

03-01-1962 37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik (R) playing against John Littlewood of England
03-01-1962 37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik (R) playing against John Littlewood of England

From “Learn Chess 2

“A British Master, formerly Northern Counties Champion and currently (1984) a National Coach for the British Chess Federation. John Littlewood has played for England in several international tournaments, including two Olympiads”

John Littlewood giving a simultaneous display
John Littlewood giving a simultaneous display

John Was Northern Counties Chess Union (NCCU) Champion in 1971, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981 : a record seven times !

John with chess friends
John with chess friends

John won the Appleby-Frodingham Chess Club tournament in 1962 with 3.5/5 :

Appleby-Frodingham Tournament of 1962 crosstable
Appleby-Frodingham Tournament of 1962 crosstable

and then, in the same year came 3= in the British Championships with 7.5/11 :

Truncated crosstable from the 1962 British Championship in Whitby
Truncated crosstable from the 1962 British Championship in Whitby

and in 1969 in Rhyl John was unfortunate not to share the title with Dr. Jonathan Penrose after losing to Frank Parr in the final round :

Truncated crosstable of the British Championships of Rhyl 1969
Truncated crosstable of the British Championships of Rhyl 1969
John Littlewood at Hastings 1963-4. Still taken from Pathe news reel footage
John Littlewood at Hastings 1963-4. Still taken from Pathe news reel footage
John Littlewood playing Wolfgang Unzicker in round one of the 1969-70 Hastings International Congress
John Littlewood playing Wolfgang Unzicker in round one of the 1969-70 Hastings International Congress

John won the Southport Open in 1972 and the picture below was taken shortly afterwards :

John and family following winning the 1972 Southport Open. See the BCM article below for a full caption
John and family following winning the 1972 Southport Open. See the BCM article below for a full caption

John won the Chorley tournament of 1977 with 7/9

Chorley 1977 tournament crosstable
Chorley 1977 tournament crosstable

JEL won the British Chess Federation’s President’s Award in 2000.

FM John Littlewood at 4NCL courtesy of Helen Milligan
FM John Littlewood at 4NCL courtesy of Helen Milligan

In 2006 John won the BCF Veterans / Seniors title for the first time repeating the feat in 2008 sharing with George Dickson.

With the White pieces John almost exclusively played 1.e4 favouring the Wormald Attack, Open Sicilians and the Rossolimo variation.

As the second player John played the Closed Ruy Lopez, the Sicilian Dragon and the Grünfeld defence.

In the following video IM Andrew Martin discusses the game Bisguier – Littlewood, 1962.

Rather than reinventing an already round wheel we reproduce the following ten page tribute in the October 2009 issue of British Chess Magazine. The tribute is by John Saunders :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 536
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 536
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 537
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 537
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 538
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 538
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 539
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 539
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 540
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 540
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 541
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 541
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 542
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 542
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 543
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 543
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 544
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 544
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 545
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 545

A rather detailed article from Tartajubow on Chess II

Here is how news of his passing was received on the English Chess Forum

Here is an obituary from Leonard Barden in The Guardian

Here is an obituary published in The Times of London

Farewell to John Littlewood : The Lincolnshire Poacher

and, finally a history of JEL from the Yorkshire Chess Archives

FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

Here is John’s Wikipedia entry

How to Play the Middle Game in Chess by John Littlewood, Collins, 1974
How to Play the Middle Game in Chess by John Littlewood, Collins, 1974
Chess Coaching by John Littlewood, The Crowood Press, 1991
Chess Coaching by John Littlewood, The Crowood Press, 1991
Learn Chess by Edward Penn and John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess by Edward Penn and John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess : Teacher's Book,  by Edward Penn & John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess : Teacher’s Book, by Edward Penn & John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess 2 by John Littlewood, Adam & Charles Black, 1984
Learn Chess 2 by John Littlewood, Adam & Charles Black, 1984
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

Death Anniversary of Dr. Paul List (1887 09-ix-1954)

Remembering Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954)

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

“PM List was born in Memel, Lithuania in 1887. After living in Berlin for many years, where he was manager of the bridge and chess rooms in a well-known
café-restaurant, he came to this country in 1936. He has competed in many tournaments, local and international. He, too, failed to get into the prize list in the recent London International Tournament, but he is a resourceful player, particularly in defensive positions. His best performance was Berlin, 1925 where he came first, ahead of Richter. Since he came to this country he has become an art dealer, but chess is still one of his foremost activities.”

Scene at London. From left to right - Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas
Scene at London. From left to right – Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas
Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match.
Dr. Paul List (09-ix-1887 09-ix-1954). Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match.

Here is his (surprisingly brief) obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (1954), Number 10 (October), page 324 :

“Dr. Paul List, the British Lightning Championship winner a year ago (though he could not hold the title because he was not a naturalised Briton), died in London at the age of 66. A player of master strength, Dr. List left his native Russia for Germany in the 1920’s, and began on his second exile in 1938 when sought refuge in this country from Germany.”

Item from Kington Times - Saturday 02 June 1951 regarding the visit of Dr. List
Item from Kington Times – Saturday 02 June 1951 regarding the visit of Dr. List

From The Illustrated London News in 1953 (by BH Wood) :

“Sixty-five-year-old Dr. (not of medicine) Paul List, the oldest competitor, who settled in Britain about 1937 and has been thinking of becoming naturalised ever since, finished with a marvellous fifteen-and-a-half points out of a possible eighteen”

Dr. Paul M. List. Source : https://www.kingpinchess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/They-provided-their-own-heat1.jpg
Dr. Paul M. List. Source : https://www.kingpinchess.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/They-provided-their-own-heat1.jpg

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Death Anniversary for IM Imre König (09-ii-1901 09-ix-1992)

Death Anniversary for IM Imre König (09-ii-1901 09-ix-1992)

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by E.Klein and W.Winter :

“Born in 1901 in Hungary when it still belonged to the old pre-World War I Austria, spent most of his life in Vienna, where he became a promising player at an early age. After World War I and the various geographical adjustments in the map of Europe, he became Yugoslav by nationality and represented that country three times in international team tournaments.

He has competed in a great number of international tournaments, some of them in this country, where he has lived since 1938. He won the Premier Reserves at Hastings, 1938, in a strong international field, finished fourth and fifth with the late Landau at Bournemouth, 1939, and shared first and second prizes with Milner-Barry in the National Chess Centre tournament, 1939. His last performance was in the London International Tournament, 1946, where he shared fourth, fifth and sixth places with Sir George Thomas and Gerald Abrahams. He is now a professional player.

König’s special strength lies in the openings, of which he has a deep knowledge.”

Imre König
Imre König

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

“International Master (1951). Born in Kula, Hungary (now Serbia). König became a Yugoslav citizen when the territory in which he lived was ceded to Yugoslavia after the First World War. In 1938 he emigrated to England and became a naturalised British subject in 1949. He found that the English climate affected his health and in 1953 went to live in the USA.

König learnt to play chess when he was 10. In 1920, while studying at Vienna University, he met Spielmann, Tartakover and Réti, and became became interested in the hypermodern school of chess, which they represented.

He played for Yugoslavia in the chess Olympiads of 1931 and 1935 and came 2nd in the Yugoslav national tournament of 1922. His results in international tournaments include =4th at Bournemouth 1939; =4th at London 1946 and 2nd at Hastings 1948-49. These results do not do justice to his strength as a player. He was handicapped by a poor temperament for tournament chess, which prevented him from achieving greater success in the international field.

A chess professional, König was a first-class teacher of the game (Anne was a student of his), as well as being a leading theoretician. He is author of The Queen’s Indian Defence (Pitman, 1947) and Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik (Bell, 1951).”

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :

“An international master since 1951, born at Gyula in Austro-Hungary. After the first world war König became a Yugoslav citizen and represented that country in the Olympiads of 1931 and 1935. He emigrated to England in 1938 and was naturalised in 1949. Since 1953 he has resided in the USA. Tournament results include 2nd prize at Hastings 1948/9. His publications include a monograph on the Queen’s Indian Defence, London 1947, and a longer work, Chess from Morphy to Botvinnik, London, 1951 ”

Hooper & Whyld are silent on König for some strange reason.

From Wikipedia :

“Imre König (Koenig) aka Mirko Kenig (Sept 2, 1901, Gyula, Hungary – 1992, Santa Monica, California) was a Hungarian chess master.

He was born in Gyula, Hungary, and also lived in Austria, England and the USA during the troubled times between the two world wars.

In 1921, he took 2nd in Celje. In 1920s König played in several tournaments in Vienna; he was 3rd in 1921, 14th in 1922 (Akiba Rubinstein won), 3rd-4th in 1925, 4-5th in 1926 (Rudolf Spielmann won), and 3rd-5th in 1926. He took 12th in Rogaška Slatina (Rohitsch-Sauerbrunn) in 1929. The event was won by Rubinstein. In 1929/30, he took 7th in Vienna (Hans Kmoch and Spielmann won). In 1931, he took 4th in Vienna (Albert Becker won). In 1936, he tied for 6-7th in Novi Sad (Vasja Pirc won). In 1937, he tied for 2nd-4th in Belgrade (Vasilije Tomović won).

Mirko Kenig represented Yugoslavia in the 4th Chess Olympiad at Prague 1931 (+5 –1 =2), the 6th Chess Olympiad at Warsaw 1935 (+5 –2 =8),[2] and in 3rd unofficial Chess Olympiad at Munich 1936 (+7 –4 =7).”

“In 1938, Imre König emigrated to England. In 1939, he tied for 4-5th in Bournemouth (Max Euwe won), and shared 1st with Philip Stuart Milner-Barry in Hampstead. In 1946, he took 4th in London. In 1948/49, he took 2nd, behind Nicolas Rossolimo, in the Hastings International Chess Congress.

In 1949, he became a naturalized British citizen. However, in 1953 he moved to the United States.

König was awarded the International Master title in 1951.”

Queen's Indian Defence, König, Pitman, 1947
Queen’s Indian Defence, König, Pitman, 1947
Chess from Morphy to Botwinnik by Imre König
Chess from Morphy to Botwinnik by Imre König
The Right Way to Play Chess
The Right Way to Play Chess
Imre König by John Donaldson
Imre König by John Donaldson

Death Anniversary of Elijah Williams (08-ix-1854)

Death Anniversary of Elijah Williams (08-ix-1854)

We note today (September 8th) in 1854 marks the passing of Elijah Williams.

We are not aware of verified image / likeness of Elijah Williams. Possibly the archives of Bristol based newspapers would help?

Here is an excellent article by Neil Blackburn (aka SimaginFan)

From Wikipedia :

“Elijah Williams (7 October 1809 – 8 September 1854) was an eminent British chess player of the mid-19th century. He was the first president of the Clifton Chess Club, and publisher of a book of games from the Divan Club. His most notable result was at the 1851 London tournament, in which he defeated the celebrated British player Howard Staunton in the play-off for third place.

He was accused by Staunton of taking an average of 2½ hours per move during some matches, a strategy thought to cause opponents to lose their focus on the match. According to Staunton, following a particularly dilatory performance by Williams in the London 1851 tournament, a 20-minute per turn time limit was adopted for standard play the next year. However other sources contradict this viewpoint and indeed it was not uncommon for Staunton to attribute his losses to the intolerable dilatory play of his opponents. Staunton is quoted as remarking while playing against Williams, ‘… Elijah, you’re not just supposed to sit there – you’re supposed to sit there and think!'”

“In The Complete Chess Addict by Mike Fox and Richard James he was dubbed “the Bristol Sloth” due to his alleged extreme slowness. This sobriquet inspired a musical tune “The Bristol Sloth” by guitarist Leo Kottke (who also applied the term ‘sitzkrieg’ in describing Williams’ playing style).

Williams died in London, a victim of the 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak.”