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John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:23 pm
by Alan McGowan
An updated biography of Mr Chambers, who had connections to chess in Scotland, Cheshire and Wales, has been posted at https://www.chessscotland.com/documents ... ers_jd.htm

There had previously been some difficulties in tracking his origins, so the bio includes his place of birth, details of his family and a corrected middle name.

Alan McGowan
Historian, Chess Scotland

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 10:13 am
by Kevin Thurlow
That's interesting. I liked the idea that he randomly turned up with someone from Ballarat looking for gold mines, or perhaps he was very organized.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 04, 2018 12:00 pm
by Gerard Killoran
I don't think this adds more to what you have, but here it is anyway...

Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette - Saturday 05 April 1884.jpg
Paisley & Renfrewshire Gazette - Saturday 05 April 1884.jpg (72.82 KiB) Viewed 1897 times

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 11:48 am
by Gordon Cadden
One of the great characters of British Chess, playing in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. The Chess Directory for 1890, list many clubs in Scotland, for which he was made President. I hold a copy of His Death Certificate. Died in Cardiff on 15 June, 1930, aged 87 years. His last address is given as 23 Grosvenor Street. Cause of death: Bronchitis. His occupation is described as Commercial Traveller, dealing in Wines and Spirits.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:04 pm
by Michael Farthing
Can anyone explain what the Gazetten notice means?

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 12:17 pm
by Roger Lancaster
It's a quibble but, if he was born 1845 and died 1930, he cannot have been 87 when he died.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 2:43 pm
by John Townsend
Age given at death is commonly unreliable. Sometimes those supplying the information simply didn't know the deceased's age to within a few years.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 4:42 pm
by Gordon Cadden
He can certainly claim a few chess records. The Rowland Chess Directory for 1890, lists him as the President of 9 chess clubs scattered around Scotland.
He won the South Wales Championship in 1927, and would have been in his eighties.
He played Paul Morphy in Birmingham, 1858
He was a Founder Member of the Scottish Chess Association.
In 1924, he made a radio broadcast at the Castle Arcade, Cardiff, on the game of chess.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 7:50 pm
by Alan McGowan
Re the Gazette piece: it appears that his mother died without leaving a Will. The bond of caution is an insurance against someone applying for confirmation when they are not entitled to do so and against an executor failing to distribute the estate according to law.

Thanks to all contributors.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:02 pm
by Craig Pritchett
interesting character and some excellent research but is there really any hard evidence that a teenaged Chambers, ether born c. 1845 or c.1842, actually played Morphy at Birmingham 1858? No game or mention of his name, eg in the Loewenthal book on Morphy.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 6:34 pm
by John Townsend
Did Chambers play against Morphy? Of course, Morphy didn't play in the Birmingham 1858 tournament, as he wished to avoid an encounter with Staunton. He did take on eight amateurs blindfold there, but their names are all accounted for. As regards Birmingham, that only seems to leave the possibility of informal games. In any case, it is hard to imagine the circumstances in which Morphy might have played against someone so young, unless it were some kind of family or social occasion.

Incidentally, Alan's quotation from the British Chess Magazine made no mention of Birmingham, which was introduced to the thread by Gordon, so, if Gordon knows of evidence for Birmingham, perhaps he will share it with us. Otherwise, the venue, potentially, could have been London, Paris, or even elsewhere. The same difficulty of Chambers' youth still applies, together with possible geographical problems.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Thu Apr 12, 2018 8:13 pm
by Alan McGowan
Mr Chambers experienced financial difficulties after the failure of a bank. The BCM 1926, p. 319 reported that a testimonial was being arranged for him.

Perhaps ongoing financial problems prompted him to offer the set for sale. From the British Chess Magazine 1927, p 498:

'Mr J.D. Chambers has decided to sell the chessboard and men which were used in his game with Paul Morphy in 1858. Will any player who would like to acquire this unique set write direct to Mr Chambers at 16 Beda Road, Cardiff.'

I have never been able to find proof of him playing Morphy. And after ascertaining that his date of birth was ca. 1845 rather than 1842, this seems even less likely.

Re: John D. Chambers ca. 1845-1930

Posted: Fri Apr 13, 2018 10:57 pm
by Alan McGowan
Further comments re Chambers and Morphy: In view of the fact that a user has been posting newspaper extracts in the Chessgames.com pages for Chambers at http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=112922, I thought it appropriate to add some information.

The Falkirk Herald of 11 July 1928, page 14, quotes extracts of an interview with Chambers in the Evening Express, Cardiff, which includes the following:

'He also has some pictures of the great Paul Morphy, taken in his schooldays about 1850. These were presented to Mr Chambers when, quite a lad in 1858, he played with the celebrated master.'

No mention of the chess set, unless he had managed to sell it, and no mention (as usual) as to where the meeting with Morphy took place.

The interview also referred to relatives of Chambers who fought and died at Waterloo. I also followed that line of inquiry and although I did not see The Times of 22 June 1815 - mentioned by Chambers - I did read 'The Waterloo Roll Call' at https://archive.org/stream/waterlooroll ... h/Chambers
The book mentions several 'Chambers', but not the names mentioned in the interview.