Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:14 am

I think ending this discussion would be the 'classy' thing to do.

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by O.G. Urcan » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:04 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:54 pm
Mick Norris wrote:
Sun Oct 18, 2020 6:35 pm
Mark's an Information Scientist, and has been doing sterling work for nearly 30 years now reporting chess via TWIC
After TWIC had been running for a while and when Winter had eventually discovered the Internet, he wrote a piece referring sarcastically to "the weak at chess".
Roger de Coverly states that Edward Winter's term "the weak in [not at] chess" was written "when Winter had eventually discovered the Internet." He omits to mention that the article in question appeared online, at the Chess Café, over 23 (!) years ago. Nor does he give readers of this Forum any context. Edward Winter was criticizing, with a wealth of examples, a notably poor article by Mark Crowther about Alekhine.

- O.G. Urcan

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:21 pm

O.G. Urcan wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:04 pm
Roger de Coverly states that Edward Winter's term "the weak in [not at] chess" was written "when Winter had eventually discovered the Internet." He omits to mention that the article in question appeared online, at the Chess Café, over 23 (!) years ago.
TWIC started up in 1994, 23 years ago was 1997 by which time TWIC was well established and Winter was out of order with his insult.

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by John Upham » Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:57 pm

O.G. Urcan wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:04 pm
Roger de Coverly states that Edward Winter's term "the weak in [not at] chess" was written "when Winter had eventually discovered the Internet." He omits to mention that the article in question appeared online, at the Chess Café, over 23 (!) years ago. Nor does he give readers of this Forum any context. Edward Winter was criticizing, with a wealth of examples, a notably poor article by Mark Crowther about Alekhine.

- O.G. Urcan

https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/ext ... ility.html would appear to be relevant.
a page on Alekhine by Mark Crowther, whose expertise and eloquence shine through in the following excerpt:
and
The weak in chess are seldom shy about meting out opinions, despite their ignorance of even straightforward matters. (Nothing criticized in the present article would have been at all difficult to get right.) Mr Crowther avers, for instance, that in the last 18 months of his life (i.e. 1944-46) Alekhine ‘was probably not even in the top 50 in the World on the strength of a couple of matches he played against weak Portuguese opponents’.
amongst other barbed comments. Obviously the Brighton educated recluse is head and shoulders above most.
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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by O.G. Urcan » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:16 pm

Purely for the record, I add that Mark Crowther's unfortunate article on Alekhine, written in 1996, is still online uncorrected.

It was Gerard Killoran who introduced the name of Mark Crowther to this thread yesterday afternoon. This morning I signaled my willingness to
answer his points head-on, but just a few hours later he abruptly wrote,"I think ending this discussion would be the 'classy' thing to do."

Others may think that the "classy" thing would be for Tim Harding to make a belated reappearance here to retract the untrue words which started the lengthy controversy on this thread: his attack on Edward Winter (September 15) which not a single contributor to the Forum has been able to substantiate.

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:26 pm

Maybe that just shows that, whatever his other undoubted virtues, Crowther isn't a chess historian and would be better off sticking to current news - something where he does by general consent do a good job?
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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by John Townsend » Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:52 pm

I have a question on a slightly different matter - nothing too controversial, I hope. The title of this thread suggests that Alexander McDonnell was born on 22 April 1798. What is the source for that information, please?

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by John Upham » Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:49 pm

John Townsend wrote:
Mon Oct 19, 2020 4:52 pm
I have a question on a slightly different matter - nothing too controversial, I hope. The title of this thread suggests that Alexander McDonnell was born on 22 April 1798. What is the source for that information, please?
An interesting question and thanks for asking!

In the article (https://britishchessnews.com/2020/09/14 ... 5-ix-1835/) we wrote

"Please note : We have referenced a number of secondary and tertiary sources on AM and they agree on heritage. However, following painstaking research of primary sources by James O’Fee and Tim Harding it has been demonstrated that the father of AM was not Dr. Alexander McDonnell but, in fact, Thomas McDonnell, a merchant.

Also, we do not have a primary source confirming the date of birth. 22-iv-1798 which was obtained from the family tree of a distant relative."

I will pm you the details of this family tree and the distant relative when I re-discover them.

Visiting the locations of primary sources is a little tricky right now and therefore this date is a "best guess". If you have a more reliable date then we would be pleased to hear of it.

Hope that helps.
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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by John Townsend » Mon Oct 19, 2020 7:47 pm

Thanks for the reply, John. I don't have a date of birth, only an approximation. I would be interested to see the family tree.

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Gerard Killoran » Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:43 pm

I have found his will on Ancestry - the top of the first page shows that his brother was a barrister called Thomas MacDonnell.

MacDonnell Will.png
MacDonnell Will.png (623.24 KiB) Viewed 368 times
I think this is his brother - from The Annual Register 1878


Thomas MacDonnell.png
Thomas MacDonnell.png (130.11 KiB) Viewed 368 times

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Oct 20, 2020 12:14 pm

The information on this website would be useful in establishing a date of birth:

http://www.turtlebunbury.com/history/hi ... nnell.html

The confusion as to the identity of McDonnell's father can be traced back to William Walker's game collection, published the year after McDonnell's death.

Walker.png
Walker.png (91.51 KiB) Viewed 320 times

The UCL database confirms McDonnell as a slave-owner as well as being an apologist for slavery. His will also mentions his estates in the West Indies.

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/person/view/2146630299

A final oddity. His address on the will is given as Tavistock House. It was later a residence of Charles Dickens

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tavistock_House

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Geoff Chandler » Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:54 am

Hi Matt,

"Maybe that just shows that, whatever his other undoubted virtues, Crowther isn't a chess historian...."

There is no such official title as 'Chess Historian.' there is no University course in Chess History, you do not
sit an exam, there is no postgraduate degree, FIDE does not award you the title of 'Chess Historian.'

Wiki has a list of Chess Historians, if you read the profiles some do not even mention chess.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_chess_historians

William Jones makes it onto this hollowed page because he once wrote a poem about chess.

Hiram Cox is a 'Chess Historian' because of this one mention:
He is most noted for his long-debunked theory of the origin of chess as a four-player game, known as the Cox-Forbes theory.

What we have is a bunch of people swanning about declaring themselves Chess Historians.
Except of course Tim Harding who is not on the Wiki page of Chess Historians.
I have decided I'm one. And why not. I once wrote about a game played in 1858.
I am stating here chess stemmed from Ludo and when the muse strikes I'll do you a chess poem.

Mark 'apparently' wrote: (I've not checked it, so what, I'm a lazy Chess Historian.)

"Alekhine ‘was probably not even in the top 50 in the World on the
strength of a couple of matches he played against weak Portuguese opponents’.

'probably'

Mark was expressing an opinion 23 years ago, I do not quite agree with his opinion but it was his opinion. Fair enough.

He might after 23 years have changed his opinion but I and I hope my fellow Chess Historians agree that we should not insist he does so.

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by John Upham » Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:48 am

Geoff Chandler wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 2:54 am
What we have is a bunch of people swanning about declaring themselves Chess Historians.
What we have is a bunch of Wikipedia entries declaring these people to be chess historians.

Many of them were deceased before Wikipedia was launched on January 15th, 2001 by Jimmy Wales.
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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:51 am

"There is no such official title as 'Chess Historian.' there is no University course in Chess History, you do not
sit an exam, there is no postgraduate degree, FIDE does not award you the title of 'Chess Historian.'"

Not for the first time, Geoff hits the nail on the head.

Wikipedia is of course a good place to start but a bad place to finish. That link doesn't mention David Hooper, for example. It does mention Garry Kasparov, presumably on the basis that he has written about former players. So anyone who annotates a game is a chess historian?

Anyway, I did find https://www.openstudycollege.com/courses/chess-2 but it does actually state it's not a proper course. It seems potentially good value at about 6 Euros an hour. That covers chess history in the first module.

There are so many weird courses at universities these days, that someone will surely start one on chess history. A friend of mine went to Bath University and has always been scathing about Bath Spa University ("You get a Diploma for walking through the door."), but then I found https://www.bathspa.ac.uk/courses/fd-co ... l-theatre/

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Re: Remembering Alexander McDonnell (22-iv-1798 14-ix-1835)

Post by John Upham » Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:53 am

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Thu Oct 22, 2020 9:51 am
That link doesn't mention David Hooper
I shall be correcting that omission.

Removing entries is more tricky and can incur the wrath of moderators. However, increasingly they seem to believe me for some reason.
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