Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Leonard Barden
Posts: 1500
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Leonard Barden » Sat Jan 19, 2019 12:35 pm

https://www.chess.com/blog/ddtru/gordon ... -die-young

The author of the above excellent and deeply researched chess.com article is a Russian historian whose main work is a forthcoming biography of Vasily Smyslov. I knew Gordon Crown well, but much of the content here is new to me.

Mick Norris
Posts: 7612
Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 10:12 am
Location: Bolton, Greater Manchester
Contact:

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Mick Norris » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:29 pm

Thanks Leonard, that's really interesting

Not trying to take the story away from its subject, but I was struck by this quote
Soviet journal "Shakhmaty v SSSR" (#11/1947), which wrote in the article about this match:

There is no true mass chess movement in England; the efforts on attracting schoolchildren and youth in general to chess are very weak. The overwhelming majority of chess amateurs are of middle or advanced age.
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18209
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:36 pm

Mick Norris wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:29 pm
There is no true mass chess movement in England; the efforts on attracting schoolchildren and youth in general to chess are very weak. The overwhelming majority of chess amateurs are of middle or advanced age.

That may well have been correct in 1947 and for that matter 2017. I don't think it could have been said of 1967 and 1977. Indeed one of the things the British chess establishment and BCF did in the 1950s (it would seem) was to get Chess established as an inter school sport or competition for those schools that had an ethos of competing against their peers. That also knocked on to university chess.

Leonard Barden
Posts: 1500
Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2008 11:21 am

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Leonard Barden » Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:53 pm

It's actually a strange quote also in the context of the occasion, since immediately after the match there were 20-board simuls against juniors by Bondarevsky and Tolush, arranged at very short notice, which were easily fully booked. Because Bondarevsky played on a higher board, most of the best players chose to meet him and he had quite a tough time conceding around three draws and three losses. Oliver Penrose and Michael Franklin were among those who scored. Chess was already popular in schools in the mid-1940s and stronger teenagers readily joined adult clubs which had larger memberships than now.

User avatar
John Saunders
Posts: 1229
Joined: Thu Apr 19, 2007 3:10 pm
Location: Kingston-upon-Thames
Contact:

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by John Saunders » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:11 pm

Yes, on the matter of schools chess, I suspect that the establishment of chess as an organised activity at grammar schools goes back much earlier than we tend to think. I looked into chess at own old school (High Wycombe Royal Grammar School) and discovered there was a chess club there as early as 1913 and quite possibly before that. Chess was one of very few school activities listed in the school's published list of masters, pupils and societies for that year. There was organised sport, plus OTC (Officer Training Corps) and musical activities, but the only other school clubs listed were a debating society, a meteorological society and a chess club. I suppose chess had the advantages of being easy to organise and cheap to fund. It didn't suffer from the multiplicity of rival activities that are available today and kept boys quiet during the lunch break. I think much of the credit for the work done to encourage chess was down to teachers in charge of chess at school rather than outside organisers, and they probably did their own thing for the most part, with some help from senior pupils. That was certainly my experience of chess at school. I joined the school chess club in 1967 at the same time as a new teacher arrived who immediately took over as master in charge of chess from that date. He carried on in the same role into the 21st century up to his retirement and I'm glad to say is still alive today. (Incidentally, if anyone from the ECF happens to be reading this and thinks the aforementioned gentleman deserves some kind of chess award, I'd be happy to provide further details and support the submission.)
Personal Twitter @johnchess / Personal Website http://www.saund.co.uk / Britbase http://www.britbase.co.uk

User avatar
Matt Mackenzie
Posts: 2904
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:51 pm
Location: Millom, Cumbria

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:34 pm

I don't think that J Penrose had a "short" chess career either, even if you only count his OTB play.

Nice article, though.

You do wonder if the post-war Soviet dominance of chess might have been challenged a bit more if Crown and Junge had lived.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

David Sedgwick
Posts: 3529
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: Croydon

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:45 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:34 pm
You do wonder if the post-war Soviet dominance of chess might have been challenged a bit more if Crown and Junge had lived.
England also lost A R Duff, of course.

David Sedgwick
Posts: 3529
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:56 pm
Location: Croydon

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by David Sedgwick » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:53 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:36 pm
That may well have been correct in 1947 and for that matter 2017. I don't think it could have been said of 1967 and 1977.
I remember that one year - early 1980s, I suspect - that it was pointed out in the report of the British Championship in CHESS that only three of the players were over 30.

The author - sorry I can't remember who it was - presciently forecast that that would not be true 10 years later, as much the same players would be competing.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 18209
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jan 19, 2019 7:45 pm

John Saunders wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:11 pm
I looked into chess at own old school (High Wycombe Royal Grammar School) and discovered there was a chess club there as early as 1913 and quite possibly before that
That pre-dates the establishment of the local county chess association by fifteen years or so.

User avatar
John Clarke
Posts: 353
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:07 pm

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by John Clarke » Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:14 pm

John Saunders wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:11 pm
I think much of the credit for the work done to encourage chess was down to teachers in charge of chess at school
That very much agrees with my own experience and observation. Our grammar school club in the early 60s had an excellent master in charge who built for the future as well as managing the present. When he left, the club floundered for a year or two before becoming properly organised again. Our main rivals underwent a similar experience at around the same time, I was to find some years later, when their former captain complained at having had to manage the school chess club with virtually no help from the staff.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

John Foley
Posts: 293
Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:58 am
Location: Kingston-upon-Thames
Contact:

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by John Foley » Wed Jan 23, 2019 1:05 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:34 pm
You do wonder if the post-war Soviet dominance of chess might have been challenged a bit more if Crown and Junge had lived.
Junge died for the Nazi cause.
So Post-War Soviet dominance of chess might have been challenged if Germany had won WW2?
This is an unworthy consideration. Gulp!

User avatar
Matt Mackenzie
Posts: 2904
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:51 pm
Location: Millom, Cumbria

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:04 pm

He died in the closing days of the war, when just about any able-bodied German had been enlisted in Nazism's futile last stand.

Had he lived his affiliations would surely have been brushed over as with most "ordinary" Germans who had supported Hitler.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

NickFaulks
Posts: 5189
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 1:28 pm

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by NickFaulks » Thu Jan 24, 2019 10:43 am

Matt Mackenzie wrote:
Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:04 pm
He died in the closing days of the war
Thanks, Matt. I'm glad that I am not the only one here to have found John Foley's perspective on the death of a 21 year old soldier rather disturbing. We obviously have differing views on what Remembrance Day is about.

Alan McGowan
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:44 pm

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Alan McGowan » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:06 pm

A letter from a young G.T. Crown (he was not quite 14) appeared in the March 1943 British Chess Magazine (p.56). Dated February 6th, it included the following observation:
'Might I suggest that while people in other spheres of life are planning for after this war, chess players should also be considering another Victory Congress, with the strongest players of the Allies, and, I hope, players like Eliskases, Richter and Szabo and Alekhine, who will, I trust still be held high in esteem in the chess world. Of course Keres should be added to the latter list.'

User avatar
Matt Mackenzie
Posts: 2904
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:51 pm
Location: Millom, Cumbria

Re: Gordon Crown, England's lost talent, remembered

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Fri Feb 01, 2019 10:26 pm

I assume he wrote that unaware that Eliskases was an enthusiastic Nazi (even compared to the somewhat more ambiguous Alekhine)
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

Post Reply