Frank Crowl

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Paul McKeown
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Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2007 3:01 pm
Location: Hayes (Middx)

Frank Crowl

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 26, 2009 2:44 pm

I wonder can anyone help. Anyone know the early history of the Wood Green CC or the history of the great Ludgate Eagles? The reason why, is that I have been in touch with Frank Crowl's son, Mike. I came across his blog: recently and saw that he had published a nice portrait photo of his father.

I had written about Crowl, in chapter 3, Great Auk, of the Bob Wade biography:
Paul McKeown, Bob Wade, yet unpublished, pp. 44–46 wrote:Bob played his favourite Sicilian Dragon variation against Steiner in the tenth round and, according to Purdy, drew with faultless chess, and against Crowl in the eleventh round Purdy reported that Bob played a real brilliancy.

[...annotated game score given of RGW – Frank A Crowl, Australian Ch., Sydney 1945 (11),
Pirc Defence (B09), 1 – 0 (36) ...]

Perusal of his fantastic win in the seventh round of this tournament from Lajos Steiner ought to convince anyone of Frank Crowl’s ability. He was known as the Australian Nimzowitsch for his original positional style. Born in Melbourne, in 1902, he learnt chess at the age of ten, whilst at school in Shanghai. Later as a young man he played top board for Wood Green, then on a high board for Ludgate Eagles, one of London’s strongest clubs at the time. In 1921 he undertook a trip around the world which took him finally in 1927 to Australia, where he settled. Purdy wrote: If you are broke and also a conscientious objector to work, Brisbane would appear the most logical of Australian cities to settle in, for the nights are seldom cold. Frank did settle there.(36) Frequently without work, he found solace not only in his devotion to the Roman Catholic Church, but also in chess. He was to be found without fail at all major chess tournaments throughout Australia, up to his death in 1964. His best results in the Australian championship were second at Sydney 1932–33 and third at Melbourne 1948–49. Crowl was one of the original recipients of the national master title when the Australian Chess Federation introduced it in 1959.
Reference (36) was: Chess World, Mar–April 1965, obit. pp. 34–49.

I emailed the whole chapter to Mike Crowl for review and got this reply this morning:
Email From: Mike Crowl (Dunedin) To:Paul McKeown (London) Date: 26 Jan 2009, Subject: Frank Crowl wrote:Hi, Paul.

Had a quick look at the chapter you sent me and need to make a comment about the following paragraph. It contains two or three inaccuracies. These came about, I suspect, because a certain gent may have been a bit loose with his past history - or because Cecil Purdy picked up on these 'facts' at one time, and didn't check them further. Whatever the explanation, my father was born in London - I met his brother in the sixties in London, and spent a good deal of time with him, and he verified this. Plus it's on my parents' marriage certificate. Somewhere there's a story about Dad being born within the sound of Bow Bells, which made him 'officially' a cockney, but I don't know that that's accurate either.
He was still in London when he was ten, so how he managed to be simultaneously in Shanghai is anyone's guess! LOL. The details about Wood Green and Ludgate Eagles may be accurate; they'd need checking at some point - something I should probably try and do.
Certainly he went to Australia but how he got there and when he left are open to guessing at this point. The anecdotal stuff about Brisbane may also be a bit suspect unfortunately, even though it sounds good. He was in Melbourne from at least as early as 1942, because he married my mother there - and she had come from New Zealand to meet him (at least that was part of her reason for going to Oz). They'd been pen friends for some time before the marriage. So I suspect he was in Melbourne well before 1942. I was the only child - there had been at least two, if not three miscarriages.

My mother at some point took up support of the family, working in the Melbourne Post Office and elsewhere. Eventually her health was suffering and so was mine, and so she came back to her own family in NZ with me. She told me once that she expected Frank to follow, but the likelihood of that seems remote. I never heard about him until I was in my early teens, and never had contact with him directly - although he must have written occasionally to my mother, who unfortunately may have destroyed any correspondence. I have a letter or two somewhere that Frank wrote to his brother; they weren't on the best of terms. His brother was much more traditional in his approach to life: married, lived in the same area of London most of his life, good job that he stuck to - and left quite a substantial legacy when he died.
Whether the 'facts' matter particularly, I'm not sure. Just thought you'd like to know them.

Assuming he was born in or around 1902 and arrived from England in or around 1927, would someone, perhaps with access to volumes of BCM (or Chess Amateur or newspaper clippings) from, say 1919 to 1927, be able to say whether or not Crowl played for Wood Green or Ludgate Eagles, and perhaps shed some more life on Crowl's early life?


Best Regards,
Paul McKeown.

Richard James
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Joined: Tue Apr 17, 2007 7:34 pm
Location: Twickenham

Re: Frank Crowl

Post by Richard James » Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:52 pm


You're welcome to consult my copies of BCM 1921-27 here any time I'm free.


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