British Championship Chester 1914

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Aug 17, 2015 10:11 pm

Gordon Cadden wrote:Frederick Dewhurst according to Jeremy Gaige. Yates was destitute at the time of his death, owing his Landlady £51 2s. 0d. A considerable sum of money in 1932. Suicide was the most likely cause of his death, but this was never proven.
I thought the suicide thesis had been fairly discredited tbh?

People who met him just before his passing said he was in seemingly good spirits and actually had plans for the future to get out of debt.
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John Townsend
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by John Townsend » Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:37 am

Gordon Cadden wrote:
Frederick Dewhurst according to Jeremy Gaige. Yates was destitute at the time of his death, owing his Landlady £51 2s. 0d. A considerable sum of money in 1932. Suicide was the most likely cause of his death, but this was never proven.
What evidence is there for suicide? It was established at the coroner's inquest that there had been a leak from a faulty gas fitting, and the verdict was accidental death.

What evidence is there that he owed his landlady £51 2s. 0d? (After his death, the chess community contributed a sum to help out, but didn't that include the funeral expenses?)

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John Clarke
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by John Clarke » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:17 am

Gordon Cadden wrote:Frederick Dewhurst according to Jeremy Gaige. Yates was destitute at the time of his death, owing his Landlady £51 2s. 0d. A considerable sum of money in 1932. Suicide was the most likely cause of his death, but this was never proven.
If Yates' mother spelt her last name with an "i" then I think that has to be the accepted spelling, whatever other sources might have to say.

As for his forename, I understand that Fred is regarded in some parts of Yorkshire as a full name in its own right, not just a diminutive of Frederick or Alfred. The eminent astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle was one example, and Yates may well have been another.

The question of his death was conclusively settled at the time. It was not a suicide, but a tragic accident caused by a faulty gas fitting. The gas meter and pipe connections were exhibited at the inquest.
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Aug 19, 2015 12:25 am

John Clarke wrote: The question of his death was conclusively settled at the time. It was not a suicide, but a tragic accident caused by a faulty gas fitting. The gas meter and pipe connections were exhibited at the inquest.
It shows how times have changed. A claim by a landlady for outstanding rent would likely to be met by a counter claim under Health and Safety for a faulty gas appliance.

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:33 am

Gerard Killoran wrote:It's also nice to learn that R. E . Lean was Richard Edward Lean.

S. W. Billings who played at Richmond 1912 and Chester 1914 was tragically killed in WW1 and his full name was Samuel Walter Billings.

From the 'Record of service of solicitors and articled clerks with His Majesty's forces, 1914-1919 by Solicitors' War Memorial Fund'

https://archive.org/details/recordofserviceo00soli

SAMUEL WALTER BILLINGS.

Admitted April 1902. Practised at Cheltenham. Served as a Private in Universities and Public Schools Batt. Royal Fusiliers. Died Jan. 3, 1916, of wounds received in action the previous day.
He was 36. Buried in Bethune Town Cemetery, if anyone is ever passing that way:

http://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casua ... L%20WALTER

"Son of Samuel Bruce Billings and Frances A. Billings, of "Wansbeck," Blackmore Rd., Malvern."

I think the War Graves Photographic Project have a photo of his headstone here:

http://www.twgpp.org/information.php?id=3066663

But payment is needed to get a higher-resolution copy.

Can't find any record of him on a local war memorial, but that might exist as well.

The CWGC records now include (this appears to be fairly recent) details of what was inscribed on the headstones in the war cemeteries. In the case of Billings, the headstone is number 1492 and the inscription requested to be inscribed was the relatively brief "WITH CHRIST". The names given in brackets on the CWGC documents appear to be the name of the person requesting the inscription, in this case a "Mrs E. Jones, "Morrone", Old Bath Road, Cheltenham".

It feels wrong to be intruding on private grief, even if from nearly a century ago, but that name and address hint at a backstory. Was it where he was living in Cheltenham? Maybe census records might say more?

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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Richard James » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:10 am

I would guess that Mrs E Jones was Evelyn Billings, a sister of Samuel Walter Billings, who had married a Francis A Jones in Q2 1916.

Coincidentally (or maybe not) their mother's maiden name was Frances A Jones.

As far as I can ascertain, Samuel Walter Billings never married.

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John Saunders
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by John Saunders » Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:35 am

As I create tournament entries on Britbase, I usually try to establish players' full forenames, as I did with Billings - I looked up his name in various places and, in passing, found the various WW1 and BMD references listed above and the war grave entries gave me his full name. There is also an obit for him in BCM, incidentally, if someone can look it up. I also saw a number of references to him in the British Newspaper archive, particularly the newspaper local to him, the Cheltenham Chronicle. Anyone wishing to follow these up can find these with a search of that title prior to WW1 using the search parameters "Billings chess".
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Gordon Cadden
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Gordon Cadden » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:17 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:
John Clarke wrote: The question of his death was conclusively settled at the time. It was not a suicide, but a tragic accident caused by a faulty gas fitting. The gas meter and pipe connections were exhibited at the inquest.
It shows how times have changed. A claim by a landlady for outstanding rent would likely to be met by a counter claim under Health and Safety for a faulty gas appliance.
Not a faulty gas appliance, but a dislodged pipe leading to the gas appliance. F.D. Yates died in bed, so how did the pipe become dislodged ?
As a six times British Chess Champion, it would be fair to say that he was an intelligent man. If he had left a window slightly ajar, he would not have died. Death by suicide is quite normal today. One has only to contact Dignitas.

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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Richard James » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:20 am

Found on a family tree on ancesty.co.uk along with a family photograph of Billings, his parents and sisters.

Presumably from a local paper.

FROM: Walter Joseph Edward Bavis
Miscellaneous -- Account of the death of my cousin S. Walter Billings(only son of Uncle Bruce and Aunt Francis -- Agnes Bavis)



CHELTENHAM SOLICITOR KILLED

Mr. S. Walter Billings dies a Hero's death in France.


With deep regret, which will be shared by all who knew him, it is our painful duty to announce the death, as the result of wounds received in France of Mr. Samuel Walter Billings, an honored member of the Cheltenham legal fraternity, who joined the University and Public School Batt. within a few weeks of the outbreak of the war. He was wounded on January 2, and taken to the casualty clearing station. An operation was found necessary, and this was performed successfully, but his injury was such that even his splendid physique could not rally from the shock, and he passed away at 7:30 on the morning of January 3, 1916.

The only son of the late Mr. Samuel Bruce Billings, a well known solicitor of Cheltenham, and of Mrs. Bruce Billings, of Pen Rhys, Battledown, where he resided, the deceased was a grandson of Mr. Thomas Billings (P-6-15), also a solicitor, whom the older generation of Cheltonians will remember as practicing in Regent Street, and as largely concerned in the laying out of the Fullwood Park district and the charging of ground rents thereon. Born 36 years ago, he was educated privately by Mr. W. Ward Whittard B.A., of Cheltenham, and following his father and grandfather into the legal profession he was enrolled in April, 1902, and has since practiced as a conveyancer at Bank-Chambers, North Street. A young man of very high principles, he was held in great esteem in the profession and having excellent ability, he might well have attained a distinguished position ... But with a chivalrous sense of duty which before the high call of the present war might have been deemed almost quixotic, he was among the earliest to realize the country's needs in the great struggle sprung upon the Empire, and within six weeks of the outbreak of the war he had settled his business affairs and offered his service to the nation. He was accepted, for the University and Public School Batt. and we understand that he was offered a commission. His one ambition, however, was to do something for his King and Country, and with this was not mixed the slightest element of self-aggrandizement. Thus even against the advice of his friends he continued in the ranks. In his case the decision, although it was entirely in keeping with a disposition singularly lovable and free from assertiveness was somewhat to be regretted for physically and intellectually he had the qualifications which would have made a fine officer he being a young man of unusual capacity, notable also for his handsome features, and stature and lithe carriage. As a pedestrian he probably had no equal in town. He rejoiced in big rambles over our own country-side and with kindred spirits on occasions enjoyed long tramps on the Yorkshire moors, sleeping 'a' la belle e' toile. We remember it being humorously remarked when he enlisted that if the Germans were to be beaten by marching S.W. Billings would march the whole of Hundom off its legs; and we have been told that in his battalion composed as it was of public school men, amongst whom were a great number of well-known athletes, there was not a man who could stand a day's march like him.

Of all the various activities of his active disposition he will be most widely remembered s a chess player, for he achieved more than local fame in the game. Mr. Billings was widely known by name, and personally to most of the good players in the county. He joined the Cheltenham Chess Club as a lad, about twenty years ago, and soon got into the first class. A few years later he won the local championship, repeated this success at intervals, being generally second when not first in the "Cheltenham Cup" Tournament. He held the cup five times, and during these years led the clubs match team in contests with Bristol, Birmingham, Oxford University, etc., and he also became known in county and in national chess. At the congress at Glasgow, about five years ago, he won first prize in the 1st Class Amateur Tourney. As a sporting venture on the strength of his success he tried his luck in the British Open Championship at Richmond-on-Thames, three years ago, but with such men as Blackburne and others playing, the young amateur was rather outclassed. He took part in the Cheltenham Congress, in 1913, with a good score, but did not quite reach the prize list. Mr. Billings was the secretary of the local Chess Club for six years, retiring from this position about six years ago, and has been a vice-president since. He visited the club twice during the past year, and remained a member. The knowledge, difficult at first to realize, that never again will he be seen in the club-room, is a severe blow to the club and more especially the elder members who had known him from boyhood.

Another of the late Mr. Billings' intellectual hobbies was astronomy, in the pursuit of which, we believe, he was associated with Mr. Steavenson, the young Cheltenham Collegian, who was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society for his first observation in this country of a famous comet four or five years ago. A fine celestial telescope, presented him by his friends, was one of his cherished possessions. The trend of his mind was, however, by no means confined to physical and intellectual pursuits. With a disposition the geniality of which won for him the friendship and admiration of all with whom he came into contact, it was not surprising to find coupled strong humanitarian feelings. He associated himself warmly with the work of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was largely responsible for the presentation to Corporation of an influentially signed petition in favor of humane methods in local slaughter-houses. Mr. S. Bruce Billings, father of the subject of this notice, was member of the Plymouth Brethren, and his son was brought up in the tenets of that denomination. For some years past, however, he attended Christ Church, but of such a man it might be said that to whatever church he belonged he would do it honor, and whatever principles he professed would command respectful hearing from such an advocate. Politically he was a Unionist, but he could not be described as a "party man" in the strict sense of the term, for with strongly held opinions he coupled much of the spirit of the eclectic. Mr. Billings, who is survived by his mother and three sisters, was not married. When he enlisted he arranged with a brother practitioner in the town for the oversight of his professional affairs and this arrangement will, we understand, hold good for the present.

A sad fact in connection with the news of the fine young soldier's death is that with the news, which was sent by a nursing sister, was sent a letter written by him before going into action on the day he received his fatal wound. Some days ago his relations, with whom the utmost sympathy will be felt, received a letter from him describing his Christmas at the front, and stating that he and his comrades managed to sit down to a good Christmas dinner at a cottage.

Amongst professional positions held by Mr. Billings was that of solicitor to the Imperial Lodge of Oddfellows, a position held by his father before him, both being members of the Order.

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:41 pm

I see that Britbase has identified H. B. Uber as Henry Bernard Uber. In a weird parallel to the Beamish brothers, Henry had a brother by the name of Herbert Septimus Uber whose wife was Betty Uber. Betty not only played tennis at Wimbledon on several occasions but was such a force in badminton that international women's teams play for the Uber Cup, just as the men compete for the Thomas Cup.

Betty and Herbert won the All England mixed double titles in 1930, 1931 and 1932. Herbert also won the men's doubles in 1923, 1925, 1926 and 1927 with none other than Sir George Alan Thomas.

So Sir George played tennis with A. E. Beamish and chess with E. A. Beamish; then played badminton with H. S. Uber and chess with H. B. Uber.

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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Richard James » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:49 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:I see that Britbase has identified H. B. Uber as Henry Bernard Uber. In a weird parallel to the Beamish brothers, Henry had a brother by the name of Herbert Septimus Uber whose wife was Betty Uber. Betty not only played tennis at Wimbledon on several occasions but was such a force in badminton that international women's teams play for the Uber Cup, just as the men compete for the Thomas Cup.

Betty and Herbert won the All England mixed double titles in 1930, 1931 and 1932. Herbert also won the men's doubles in 1923, 1925, 1926 and 1927 with none other than Sir George Alan Thomas.

So Sir George played tennis with A. E. Beamish and chess with E. A. Beamish; then played badminton with H. S. Uber and chess with H. B. Uber.
Thank you so much for that! I'd been wondering for years, as one does, whether or not there was any connection between HB Uber and the Uber Cup.

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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Brian Denman » Wed Aug 19, 2015 11:23 pm

I noticed that there were games in the 1914 BCF yearbook, which John had not included in BritBase. I am not sure whether that was because John did not consider the standard high enough. Anyway I have keyboarded those extra games. Unfortunately I do not know in what rounds they were played and the date. In the past I might have been able to find this information in The Field, but since the closure of the Colindale Library I have carried out little research. The source for all the games is the same (1914 BCF yearbook), though I know that the Barron v Schories game also appeared in the Borough of West Ham, East Ham and Stratford Express of 19.9.1914. According to the BCF yearbook the Broadbent v Hingley game was taken from The Standard.









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John Saunders
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by John Saunders » Thu Aug 20, 2015 1:55 am

Brian, I am more than happy to include games from subsidiary tournaments at BCF Congresses where they come to light and I will include these in due course. Many thanks for making them available.

Incidentally, on the subject of names: trying to establish players' names and dates is a Sisyphean task and one which I wouldn't claim to have helped much with my Britbase project (I've still not managed to standardise the names on the website). Only today I noticed that I had used the names 'West, Arthur' and 'West, Arthur G' in two different files which I have uploaded recently. In checking this out and attempting to correct it, I discovered that the player in question should be 'West, Arthur George' but that BCM had misreported his date of birth which should have been 13 December 1871. This is quite clear from BMD records. I think the error might stem from whoever reported his death to the Times in 1935, giving the wrong age of 66. I'm guessing that WH Watts, his BCM obituarist, then picked this up, worked back to his year of birth and came up with an incorrect date of birth as 13 Dec 1869. And unfortunately this wrong date finds its way into Gaige, although nobody seems to have known West's middle name George - I'm certain as I can be that I have this right as I found a probate record for 1935 in which WH (William Henry) Watts was granted probate for 'West, Arthur George, otherwise Arthur'.

Ironically, on the occasions in the past when BCM has recorded full names, they've been known to get it wrong. For example, the Oct 1953 BCM, p270, gives Victor Lionel Wahltuch in an obituary written by someone with the initials D.C. (who he?). In fact, it seems quite clear from BMD records that said gentleman was Victor Leonard Wahltuch. This resulted in Gaige and subsequent publications having the name wrong. Having said which, I suppose it is possible that the latter gentleman decided he didn't like the name Leonard and changed it to Lionel unilaterally, since anyone can call themselves anything they like.

Anyway, these snippets may be of interest to others researching British chess players so I pass them on without further comment.

One name which continues to elude me is A Louis, who played in the 1914 British Championship. Gaige doesn't have dates for him, suggesting that he was active between 1920 and 1940. I know he was a member of Metropolitan CC. But I've no idea of his forename. Edochess.ca has 'André' but I'm not convinced of their evidence. Anyone know?
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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by John Townsend » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:34 am

Edward Winter has a fine feature article on The Death of F.D. Yates:

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/yates.html

It includes pieces from the Manchester Guardian. The issue of 16 November 1932 (page 11) reported on the evidence of a gas man, including this:
He pointed out that there was an escape of gas from one of the "unions" in the pipe which was in contact with the leg of a table. Such contact would tend to loosen the "union".
Presumably, gas could have been escaping already before he got into bed, but in such small amounts that he failed to notice it.

I have had no answer to my earlier question to Gordon Cadden:
What evidence is there that he owed his landlady £51 2s. 0d? (After his death, the chess community contributed a sum to help out, but didn't that include the funeral expenses?)
Is he now in a position to answer this, or, alternatively, acknowledge that what he said was incorrect?

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Re: British Championship Chester 1914

Post by Tim Harding » Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:57 am

Roger de Coverly wrote:How good do we think these people were?)
It would be wrong to judge the strength of British Chess from the 1914 Championship which was played after the outbreak of war. The BCF decided to go ahead with the Congress, one likely reason being that some people (notably the Australian champion, Viner) had travelled a long way to participate (The Field and Yorkshire Weekly Post, both 15 August 1914). Nevertheless there were several withdrawals from the originally stated fields (listed in The Field, 25 July).

Some players (including Schumer and Wilkes) were promoted to the Championship from the Major Open. Sparkes was not even listed originally for the Major Open. The default arose because Carrick Wardhaugh of Glasgow (originally listed for the M.O., then promoted) did not go to Chester. So there were only 11 competitors instead of 12. The eventual Major Open winner Shories could not be promoted to the Major Open because he was not a British citizen.

Unfortunately the games published in the various sources that did give a selection nearly all gave the same games. The five Blackburne games in the Britbase file all turned up in various places but I could not find the other five for my forthcoming Blackburne book, which is currently being printed by McFarland. I am told copies will probably reach Europe in October.

The issue of why Blackburne and Yates did not play off for the title is discussed in my book.
Am I right in thinking that last year's unbroken tie was the first time no playoff was held and the title shared?

En passant, I only got home late yesterday from the ICCF Congress in Cardiff (still ongoing) so am only reading the most recent postings on these early British Championships today. I will probably post in the other threads later on while listening to Test Match Special after reading the various comments and seeing what games have been posted.

Thanks for the full name of Lean which I did not have previously.

I think we should accept John Mann's excellent research about Yates which has in my view conclusively established that his forenames were FRED DEWHIRST.
Tim Harding
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