1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

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John Saunders
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1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by John Saunders » Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:03 pm

I've just uploaded to BritBase a file of games, crosstables and reports on the 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings...

https://www.saund.org.uk/britbase/pgn/1 ... iewer.html

Most of the games have been in the public domain for some time but I managed to track down a few that haven't been digitised previously.

It was the first major UK chess event after the First World War and, instead of holding a British Championship, the BCF invited some players from abroad to make up the complement of 12, the most notable being Capablanca. As Atkins was unwell and had to drop out, his only real opposition was the Serbian player Boris Kostich but Capablanca managed to get ahead of him to win comfortably.

In another thread a while back we discussed David Miller: I managed to track down a game he won against the Dutch player Abraham Speijer. Miller blundered horribly early in the game but managed to pull off an outrageous swindle:



One curiosity was an interview with Capablanca, published in The Observer, which was apparently conducted whilst he was still in play in the last round, in the press room. Modern arbiters would probably take a very dim view of players wandering into the press room during play, though in those days it wouldn't have been replete with computer screens showing suggested lines of play.

I was particularly puzzled by this snippet from this interview:
The Observer, 24 August 1919 wrote:Q. "What are your views on the relative merits of the British players?"

But Capablanca refused to be drawn on this point, explaining that his experience of their play was not sufficiently extensive to enable him to decide—or words to that effect.

Q."Are you a Pussyfooter, Señor?"

A. "I am not—nor am I a Mormon."
I'm familiar with the term 'pussyfooter' but not the word 'Mormon' other than in the literal sense of a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Seems like a non sequitur to me. Can anyone construe?
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David Sedgwick
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by David Sedgwick » Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:50 pm

John Saunders wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:03 pm
Modern arbiters would probably take a very dim view of players wandering into the press room during play, though in those days it wouldn't have been replete with computer screens showing suggested lines of play.
During the first Gibtelecom Masters in 2003, a leading player wandered into the Commentary Room during play.

He didn't gain any advantage thereby, nor was he in any way seeking to do so. Nevertheless, I did indeed take a dim view.

John Saunders wrote:
Mon Apr 26, 2021 5:03 pm
I was particularly puzzled by this snippet from this interview:
The Observer, 24 August 1919 wrote:Q. "What are your views on the relative merits of the British players?"

But Capablanca refused to be drawn on this point, explaining that his experience of their play was not sufficiently extensive to enable him to decide—or words to that effect.

Q."Are you a Pussyfooter, Señor?"

A. "I am not—nor am I a Mormon."
I'm familiar with the term 'pussyfooter' but not the word 'Mormon' other than in the literal sense of a member of the Church of Latter Day Saints. Seems like a non sequitur to me. Can anyone construe?
I am reminded of a couple of lines from a Brian Rix farce:

Q. "Are you heamophiliac?"
A. "No, Congregational."

I have no idea whether or not Capablanca spoke English well. If he did, I suspect that his "Mormon comment might have been humour of this kind.

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MJMcCready
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by MJMcCready » Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:02 am

G.H.Diggle has a few interesting things to say about Capablanca, one post was also regarding his comments during play I seem to remember.

Joseph Conlon
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by Joseph Conlon » Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:05 am

I presume that Mormon must relate here to the Mormon restriction on not consuming alcohol of any kind. Possibly there is some intended irony involving the fact that Utah, the 'Mormon' state, had been one of the last to ratify the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) earlier that year in January 1919 - but I agrees it seems hard to tease out the precise meaning.

'Pussyfooter' as one who supports Prohibition was a new word for me.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:59 am

"Utah, the 'Mormon' state, had been one of the last to ratify the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) earlier that year in January 1919"

although they made up for that by continuing to this day to ban alcohol stronger than normal beer.

There are some interesting players in the 1919 event, e.g. "Cecil Perfect Hammond", and our old friend the "Reverend WE Evill", whose parents did him no favours with the choice of forenames.

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John Saunders
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:13 am

Joseph Conlon wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:05 am
I presume that Mormon must relate here to the Mormon restriction on not consuming alcohol of any kind. Possibly there is some intended irony involving the fact that Utah, the 'Mormon' state, had been one of the last to ratify the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) earlier that year in January 1919 - but I agrees it seems hard to tease out the precise meaning.

'Pussyfooter' as one who supports Prohibition was a new word for me.
Thanks, Joe, I think you have nailed it. I felt there must be an in-joke there somewhere and Prohibition is the answer. The necessary legislation to implement it happened in October 1919 so it must have been a major topic of conversation on both sides of the Atlantic at the time of the BCF Congress. Capablanca, as someone known to be a non-drinker*, or at least very abstemious, is being asked whether he is in favour of Prohibition and he replies in the negative and makes a mild joke about another grouping known for their hostility to alcohol. I too failed to understand the then topical meaning of the word 'pussyfooter'.

Re Capablanca's abstemiousness, Edward Winter published a letter from him to his son in 1925 which seems to back this up:
Capablanca, in 1925, wrote:If you can avoid it, never play cards, smoke or drink alcohol of any kind. These are bad habits which greatly shorten life and weaken men physically as well as intellectually and morally.
Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:59 am
...our old friend the "Reverend WE Evill", whose parents did him no favours with the choice of forenames.
:lol: :lol: ... and he did himself no favours by his choice of profession. I always have a chuckle when I see his name. I wonder how many times he had to endure the quip "Deliver us from Evill" from opponents seeking to wind him up before a game. He was born in 1853 and died in 1935. In 1884 he married Edith Eleanor Ram who thus became Mrs E E Evill.

Here's his obituary in BCM, October 1935, p455...
BCM, October 1935,p455 wrote:The Rev. W. E. Evill died at his home at Canterbury on August 25 [1935], at the age of 83. Kent thus loses the Father of the Association, and one who had been a member for over 40 years : a constant and loyal supporter. His health remained good almost to the last, and in 1933 he sent a donation of ten guineas to the Folkestone Congress fund as a thank-offering for this. He was a strong chessplayer, taking a high board in the Kent team while able. For 33 years he was a member of the Canterbury club, serving as president on several occasions. As Vicar of the ancient Church of St. Dunstans, he was proud of the fine building, and worked hard for it. His last appearance in B.C.F. Congresses was at Edinburgh in 1920.
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John Townsend
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by John Townsend » Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:52 am

John, the interview was noted in Edward Winter's book on Capablanca (1989): on page 98, Pussyfooter appears in inverted commas - which I believe is faithful to the text in the Observer. That supports its interpretation as a special piece of terminology, as opposed to the common or garden pussyfooter. The initial capital also supports that interpretation.

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John Saunders
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:05 pm

John Townsend wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 11:52 am
John, the interview was noted in Edward Winter's book on Capablanca (1989): on page 98, Pussyfooter appears in inverted commas - which I believe is faithful to the text in the Observer. That supports its interpretation as a special piece of terminology, as opposed to the common or garden pussyfooter. The initial capital also supports that interpretation.
John, that's a good point, thank you. I have amended the interview on BritBase to show the inverted commas, and also added the fact that the interviewer was Brian Harley. I had the feeling that I had read it somewhere before. I've just hunted high and low on my bookshelves and rediscovered his 1936 book Chess and its Stars in which the interview was reproduced.
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Gerard Killoran
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Apr 27, 2021 1:21 pm

The Observer 24 Aug 1919, Page 9.jpeg
The Observer 24 Aug 1919, Page 9.jpeg (639.66 KiB) Viewed 1201 times

Paul Habershon
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by Paul Habershon » Tue Apr 27, 2021 2:47 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 8:59 am

and our old friend the "Reverend WE Evill", whose parents did him no favours with the choice of forenames.
Come off it, they might have named him plain David.

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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by Geoff Chandler » Tue Apr 27, 2021 3:33 pm

Good find that Gerard and a smashing post/article/record John.

Sunstroke at Hastings!

" In one game in the Third Class, a lady made what she thought was a mating move; her opponent,
however, moved her King, and so she carried on with the game, eventually losing. In going through
the score, it was found she had in reality administered mate, and therefore the game was scored to her."

A bit difficult putting that game into PGN format. And speaking of difficulty:

From The Hastings site.

" The national flags of all countries represented were flown at the front of the drill Hall.
A Cuban flag was not available so one of the Club members made one. "

http://www.hastingschess.com/1919-hasti ... -congress/

The Cuban flag is not too difficult to copy. If Capa had come from Bermuda instead of Cuba then maybe they would have thought again.

Image

Nick Ivell
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by Nick Ivell » Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:30 pm

I think Capablanca's English must have been excellent. Did he not mention somewhere about almost having forgotten his mother tongue?

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John Clarke
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Re: 1919 BCF Victory Congress at Hastings

Post by John Clarke » Wed Apr 28, 2021 1:10 am

Nick Ivell wrote:
Tue Apr 27, 2021 7:30 pm
I think Capablanca's English must have been excellent. Did he not mention somewhere about almost having forgotten his mother tongue?
That was in the "Memoir of Capablanca" by Julius DuMont, which appeared in Golombek's book of Capa's 100 best games. I've wondered now and then what J DuM's source was for that. Calling Mr Winter ...
"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.)

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