Archive for February 12th, 2016

Apparently I posted this four years back on this day. Not only can I not remember posting but I also couldn’t work out the solution when I saw it (I must be getting older!).

It’s white to play and win. You can ask for the solution if you can’t do it.


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‘The life which is unexamined is not worth living.’ So Plato insists; and it is arguable that ‘unexamined history’, similarly is not worth doing.

Beverley Southgate – History; What & Why, Ancient and Postmodern Perspectives, pg.1, (Second edition), Routledge 2001


My fellow county players, if you’ve ever read the 1933 text Chess in Bedfordshire, which can be found in Bedford Reference Library as well as here:, you may have found its austere tone and archaic model of history rather enchanting, perhaps passing over each chapter without noticing anything peculiar. If, however, you prefer to read history critically, which is the only way to read and write history thus speaks my former lecturer now Professor Emeritus, Dr. B. Southgate, you may have noticed that as honorable as the intentions of co-authors F. Dickens & G. L. White may have been (White continued Dickens’s work after his sudden death), neither were well-disposed to write a synchronic history of chess in our county (one that places greater emphasis upon the surviving institutions of the day) given that their work is littered with inaccuracies. Moreover, I will argue that Dickens’s motivation for writing as stated in the Foreword; that being, ‘…to produce a work which might serve to foster the pursuit of the royal game throughout the county’ is, to some degree, at variance with the ‘idealized history’ he had in mind where ‘undue flattery of any particular club or individual played no part’, the extent to which G. L. White improved the publication by going against some of his co-author’s wishes will be discussed later.


Some referencing wouldn’t have gone amiss here, also the publication should begin with a Preface and not a Foreword, since G. L. White is a co-author.

Crucially, the main purpose of this post is to expand further upon the ‘Bedford – Luton’ match played on ‘Nov 7th 1896’ (pg. 42), and subsequently the overlooked unacknowledged careers of H. Duhan playing for Bedford and W. Ward playing for Luton in order to show that our clashing duo were the first from Bedfordshire to gain international recognition for their ability over the board. Please note that all future unreferenced quotations are from the Foreword.

It is sometimes said that the aim of the historian is to explain the past by its ‘findings’, ‘identifying’, or ‘uncovering’ the ‘stories’ that lie buried in the chronicles; and that the difference between ‘history’ and ‘fiction’ resides in the fact that the historian ‘finds’ his stories, whereas the fiction writer ‘invents’ his. This conception of the historian’s task, however, obscures the extent to which ‘invention’ also plays a part in the historian’s operations. The same event can serve as a different kind of element of many different historical stories, depending on the role it is assigned in a specific motific characterization of the set to which it belongs.

Hayden White, Metahistory pg. 6, John Hopkins University Press 2014 Ed.


An inauspicious citation & a minor correction

Take a book, the poorest one written, but read it with the passion that it is the only book you will read – ultimately you will read everything out of it, that is, as much as there was in yourself, and you could never get more out of reading, even if you read the best of books.

Kierkegaard, Stages on Life’s Way, 1845 p. 363-364

Is the account of (the) Bedford chess club (s) offered below convincing?


Chess in Bedfordshire pg. 41. ‘Owing to a lack of reliable information‘ -not that old chestnut! What they really meant was ‘Owing to a lack of interest on our part we couldn’t be bothered to… .

It is claimed that Blackburne’s second visit to Bedford has not been preserved:


Page 42

This is not correct as a few details have survived.



Part 2

Our clash of future champions -Duhan, the Bedford Major

…the conscious need of the strong poet [defined broadly as the creator of new metaphors]…to come to terms with the blind impress which chance has given him, to make a self for himself by redescribing that impress in terms which are, if only marginally, his own.

Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony, Solidarity

Page 42 reads as follows:



Major Harold Taylor Duhan

The claim that Harry Duhan became a future champion of South Africa is corroborated here:


A History of Chess in South Africa pg.69, Leonard Reistein (2003)

And here:

Here also in the following games:

Meihuizen, Henk

Duhan, (Major) Harry Taylor

Cape Town 1910


South African Championship

1.e4 d6 2. d4 Nf6 3. Bd3 e5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Ne2 Bg4 6. Be3 Be7 7. Nd2 O-O 8. f3 Bd7 9. O-O Re8 10. Ng3 Bf8 11. h3 g6 12. f4 Bg7 13. Nf3 Qe7 14. Qd2 b6 15. Rae1 a5 16. f5 gf5 17. Nf5 Bf5 18. ef5 e4 19. Bg5 d5 20. Bb5 Qd6 21. Bf4 Qd7 22. Ne5 Re5 23. de5 Ne8 24. f6 Bf8 25. Bh6 Qe6 26. Qg5 Kh8 27. Bf8 Ne5 28. Be8 Ng6 29. Bg7 Kg8 30. Bh8 Qe8 31. Qh6 Qf8 32. Bg7 Qd6 33. Rf5 Qg3 34. Rh5 Qe1 35. Kh2 Nf8 36. Bf8 Evening Star, Otago, New Zealand 18 February 1911, Page 9


Duhan, (Major) Harry Taylor

Siegheim, Bruno Edgar

Cape Town 1910


South African Championship

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 e6 3. g3 c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Be7 6. Be3 Qb6 7. Qc2 Bd7 8. O-O Rc8 9. Qd2 Nf6 10. Ne1 c4 11. f3 Na5 12. Bf2 Qa6 13. Na3 Ba3 14. ba3 Qd6 15. Nc2 Bc6 16. Rfe1 O-O 17. e4 de4 18. fe4 Ng4 19. Qf4 Qf4 20. gf4 Nf2 21. Kf2 f5 22. e5 Bg2 23. Kg2 Nc6 24. Rab1 Rc7 25. Ne3 Ne7 26. Rb4 Rfc8 27. Reb1 b6 28. Kf3 Kf7 29. Rb5 Ke8 30. Rg1 Kf7 31. a4 Rc6 32. Rg2 g6 33. Rgb2 R8c7 34. a5 ba5 35. Ra5 Rd7 36. Rbb5 Rdc7 37. Rb4 Nc8 38. a4 Nb6 39. Rab5 Nc8 40. a5 a6 41. Rb7 Ke8 42. Rc7 Rc7 43. h4 Kd7 44. Ke2 Ne7 45. Nc4 Nd5 46. Nb6 Nb6 47. ab6 Rb7 48. c4 Kc6 49. c5 Rd7 50. Kd3 Kb7 51. Kc4 Rd8 52. Ra4 Rd7 53. Ra3 Rd8 54. Rg3 Kc6 55. h5 Rg8 56. hg6 hg6 57. Rh3 Rg7 58. Rh6 Kb7 59. d5 ed5 60. Kd5 Rd7 61. Ke6 Kc6 62. Rg6 Rd4 63. Kf5 Kc5 64. b7 Rb4 65. Ra6 Rb7 66. Rd6 Rb4 67. Rd1 Kc6 68. e6 Rb2 69. Kf6 Rh2 70. f5 Evening Star, Otago, New Zealand 1 April 1911, Page 11


Duhan, (Major) Harry Taylor

Chavkin, Alexander

Cape Town 1910


South African Championship (9)

1.d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 b6 4. e3 Bb7 5. Nc3 e6 6. Be2 Be7 7. O-O O-O 8. b3 d6 9. Bb2 Nbd7 10. Ng5 Qe8 11. Ne6 Qg6 12. Bf3 Bf3 13. Qf3 Rfc8 14. Nc7 Rab8 15. N3d5 Nd5 16. Nd5 Bf6 17. Ba3 Bd8 18. Nf4 Qf7 19. Bd6 Bc7 20. Bc7 Rc7 21. Nd5 Rcc8 22. Qf5 Falkirk Herald – Wednesday 04 December 1912


Though little is known about Harry’s life before he became a Major in the Boer War, he is found playing for Bedford in the reportage below (note that he was knocked out in the first round). duhan1 duhan2

After WW1 Harry can be found playing for Bedfordshire in our inaugural match in the S.C.C.U. For the purposes of the next section, take note of who plays board 1 for Middlesex.


The authors can be found on boards 3 & 13 respectively. Note that Duhan’s opponent, R.C Griffith was the British champion of 1912 and main author of Modern Chess Openings. Author Richard James informs me that Board 3 for Middlesex is likely to be Canadian Champion Maurice Fox who is noted for beating both Capablanca and Fischer in simuls (both games can be found on line).

Harry was located in Bedford for at least some of his adult life, that is clear, though the details are rather sketchy. Reistien’s belief that he was born in Bedford cannot be verified at present, though I will update this page as further evidence arrives.

Lastly, and aside somewhat, a brief account of the English chess migration during the Boer War and the impact it had upon the South African chess scene can be found below in the June edition of the 1908 British Chess Magazine.



Part 3

Our clash of future champions -William Ward, the dazzling amateur


William has his back to the camera, his opponent is nemesis and former British champion H. E. Atkins.

He is always referred to as William Ward of London, since that is where he established himself over the board. In his book ‘A Century of British Chess’  P. W. Sargeant offers a description of William with the following few words:



It’s not apparent here but Sargeant, like so many others of his day, believed the epistemological value of his writing could be determined by its moral tone, hence the higher the tone, the more correct he was.

Sticking to ‘the facts’, further details from Sargeant can be found here:


William Ward also became champion of West London Chess Club, one of the stronger London clubs but certainly not the strongest.



Courtesy of his activities in London, William also became champion of his adopted county Middlesex in 1908, who were the strongest county in England at the time.


William is, perhaps, best known for his attempts to become British Champion in 1905 and 1908, during which he came second to H. E. Atkins on both occasions, then 3rd in 1909. See for an account of the 1908 British Championship and here also




William was also a regular in the Anglo-American cable matches,, during which he beat, amongst others, Marshall in 1901 One of his annotated games can be found here

Lastly, William was also the author of the much maligned ‘Laws of Chess’ booklet of 1912, Note that the description of how to move the knight is rather confusing.

William Ward the Londoner Lutonian

Historical accounts purport to be verbal models, or icons, of specific segments of the historical process. But such models are needed because the documentary record does not figure forth an unambiguous image of the structure of events attested in them. In order to figure out ‘what really happened’ in the past, therefore, the historian must first prefigure as a possible object of knowledge the whole set of events reported in the documents. This prefigurative act is poetic insomuch as it is precognitive and precritical in the economy of the historian’s own consciousness. It is also poetic insofar as it is constitutive of the structure what will subsequently be imaged in the verbal model offered by the historian as a representation or explanation of ‘what really happened’ in the past. But it is constitutive of the concepts he will use to identify the objects that inhabit that domain and to characterize the kind of relationships they can sustain with one another. In the poetic act which precedes the formal analysis of the field, the historian both creates his object of analysis and predetermines the modality of the conceptual strategies he will use to explain it.

Hayden White, Metahistory pg. 30, John Hopkins University Press 2014 Ed

William Ward was not a Londoner he was a Lutonian; not that he was born in Luton but St. Albans -well most probably. His birth date is typically given as March 3rd 1867, which means that he would be 4 years old if found on the 1871 census. Here is a William James (I’m assuming that’s James and not Jas) Ward aged 4 in the census for Luton.

1871 Census

A W. Ward can be found at the very bottom of the page. Is he our man? Note point four in the final column!


The entrance to Chapel St. Where William lived as a child before moving to London.

The Griffin about 1900 immediately right of the si

William would have lived about 300 meters up on the left.

In the census above his father is stated as G. WardIs this the same G. Ward in the following excerpt?



If so, was William taught to play chess by his father? To have beaten F. Dickens (co-author of Chess in Bedfordshire) twice he must have been strong himself, this would partially explain William’s strength if his father had taught him. As mentioned previously, at some point in his life William Ward left Luton and became William Ward of London: further evidence of this can be seen in the connection he retained with his home town, which on occasion was reported locally.


ward 2

This excerpt tells us that F. Dickens certainly knew W .Ward. It is highly likely, then, that G. L. White did too.


cable match1

‘The Bury’ is what the present suburb of Bury Park, Luton was formally known as.


son of1

Lewsey is a suburb of Luton

plays mortimer21

plays mortimer1

That’s February 11th 1897 in case its not clear.



Given that William’s connection to Luton was reported a number of times, that he appears in Chess in Bedfordshire, and that his name can be correlated with his stated year of birth on the census above; the evidence that he grew up in Luton is convincing if not compelling, but whether his father was G. Ward or W. Ward remains unresolved for now. Since it was reported several times over that William’s father was W. Ward, you would expect a correction to have been made at some point, is it possible that the census contains a clerical error? It is also unclear why no mention of a middle name exists anywhere, perhaps William never gave it to the few who wrote about him? Should anyone like to add input here, they are welcome.

William Ward is documented playing once only for his childhood home. In what capacity did he play, as a ‘hired gun’ to shoot down our professional soldier from Bedford or as a last minute addition after an unannounced visit? We don’t know. It is lamentable that our partners in crime co-authors Dickens & White wrote nothing about him.

A third case arises! A mysterious cameo by a Leighton Buzzard transgressor!

W. B. Dixon of Leighton Buzzard was one of the strongest Bedfordshire players of his day, and with the exception of the following appearance, also receives no mention whatsoever in Chess in Bedfordshire.


His exploits in the London league and Kent’s more prestigious matches fell beyond the parameters of the book, his strength as a player undocumented in the games section where more loyal Bedfordshire players such as Anderssen, Kieseritsky, Alekhine, Samisch, Blackburne and Bogoljubow can be found! His reasons for playing Chess -not- in Bedfordshire unwritten.



Note that Dixon plays for Kent on board 6 of a very strong team. Given the match was played in 1907, it is a unified Ireland that plays Kent.

Creighton 1860

Creighton 1860

Part 4

The dimly lit view of our past

Perhaps we are now at a postmodern moment where we can forget history completely.

Keith Jenkins, ‘ “After” History’, Rethinking History 3, 1999, pg. 7

The type of history Kensworth schoolmaster F. Dickens had in mind was ubiquitous in the chess literature of his day, which the Preface Foreword tells us he did read, and harks back to a model of history that emerged from antiquity with countless imitators since:

fearless, incorruptible, free, a friend of free expression and the truth, intent, as the comic poet says, on calling a fig a fig and a trough a trough, giving nothing to hatred or to friendship, sparring no one, showing neither pity nor shame nor obsequiousness, an impartial judge, well disposed to all men up to the point of not giving one side more than its due, in his books a stranger a man without a country, independent, subject to no sovereign, not reckoning what this or that man will think, but stating the facts’

Lucian of Samosata (c. AD 125-200), quoted by D. R. Kelley (ed.), Versions of History, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1991, p. 66.

Such ‘idealized history’ which aims towards objectivity and absolute impartiality, notions long since vigorously rejected in our postmodern world, actually put Dickens in a position of pre-critical constraint where elements of the past, such as the successes of Bedfordshire’s strongest players were unusable, narrowing his historical consciousness, and so too that of his readership.

Conversely, in rural areas where no noted players existed in clubs too small to challenge those more established, again nothing was written about them. The Foreword tells us that Dickens wanted to ‘produce a work which might serve to foster the pursuit of the royal game throughout the county’ yet the impression the text gives us is that chess was not played beyond Luton, Dunstable and Bedford when in fact chess in Bedfordshire was more widespread then than it is today. And with Bedfordshire being such a small county, it is quite unlikely that he knew nothing of its less established clubs.











Part 5

The lost endgame

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas: i.e the class which is the material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.

Marx and Engels, The German Ideology, quoted by A. Giddins, The Class Structure of the Advanced Societies, London, Hutchinson, 1981 p.29

The completion of Chess in Bedfordshire was requested by the eminent members of the Luton & Dunstable chess scene in the interwar years, who wanted to read a history of their club (s) and to a lesser degree the rest of the county. It were they and their preceding generation who put Luton firmly on the map in the southern counties, whereafter successive world champions visited our proud county to perform simuls as well as a number of high profile players, a trend which the likes of Sweby and Cox continued after WW2. The ingratiating G. L. White gave his limited audience what they wanted and left us with an account of chess in Bedfordshire which could have been broader and better had he abandoned F. Dickens’s instructions. The critical mistake G. L. White made, which suggests he was not well-suited to the task at hand, was that he failed to see Chess in Bedfordshire as his own, that he was free to write as he wished and begin anew if he felt it necessary.

Is unexamined history worth doing as Professor Southgate asks? I don’t know. Is a dimly lit view of our past better than one dark and undocumented? Those bright stars who left our county and went on to become champions of our great capital and of a vast commonwealth nation could have inspired our fellow county players no end with their various accolades for their Chess -not- in Bedfordshire. Even when our clash of future champions occurred in Bedford, only a few lines were given before the result was recorded alongside so many others of much less significance. Will we ever find their games and learn what they thought of one another? I think not. Although G. L. White offered morsels of ‘Credit where it was due’, he could have and should have done much more as the finishing author. A great opportunity has been lost.

History should include the lives of great men and women, and the lessons to be learnt therefrom.

National Curriculum 1922, Board of Education, Statutory Rules and Orders 1922, No. 1433 (HMSO, 1923)

I am grateful to Gerard Killoran (for the games), Desmond Rooplal and Keith Rust for their assistance concerning Major Duhan’s time in South Africa.

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