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John Saunders


BRITBASE - British Chess Game Archive

Tournament: 5th British Championship (won by HE Atkins) • 1 game from the women's ch & two from 1st Class
Venue: Tunbridge Wells • Dates: 10-22 August 1908 • Download PGN

1908 British Chess Championship

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts
1 Atkins,Henry Ernest
1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 8.0 / 11
2 Ward,William 0
0 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 6.5 / 11
3 Palmer,Wilfred Charles ½ 1
1 1 0 0 ½ 1 0 1 0 6.0 / 11
4 Gunsberg,Isidor ½ 0 0
½ ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 1 6.0 / 11
5 Blackburne,Joseph Henry 0 ½ 0 ½
½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 6.0 / 11
6 Lee,Francis Joseph 0 0 1 ½ ½
0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 6.0 / 11
7 Sergeant,Edward Guthlac ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1
1 0 1 ½ 0 5.5 / 11
8 Michell,Reginald Pryce 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0
1 1 1 0 5.5 / 11
9 Shoosmith,Hector William ½ 1 0 0 ½ 0 1 0
0 1 1 5.0 / 11
10 Mackenzie,Arthur John 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1
½ 1 4.5 / 11
11 Blake,Joseph Henry 1 1 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½
1 4.0 / 11
12 Lean,Richard Edward 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0
3.0 / 11


1908 British Ladies' Chess Championship

    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Pts
1 Curling,Grace Moore
1 1 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 8.5 / 11
2 Anderson,Gertrude Alison 0
1 1 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 8.5 / 11
3 Lawson,Agnes Bradley 0 0
½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 8.5 / 11
4 Herring,Frances Dunn 1 0 ½
0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 8.0 / 11
5 Crum,Agnes Margaret 0 0 0 1
½ 0 1 0 1 1 1 5.5 / 11
6 Roe,Annie Sophia 0 0 0 0 ½
0 1 1 1 1 1 5.5 / 11
7 Sidney,Helen Eliza 0 0 0 0 1 1
1 0 0 1 1 5.0 / 11
8 Watson,G(eorgiana?) 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0
½ 1 1 1 4.5 / 11
9 Houlding,Mary Mills ½ 1 0 0 1 0 1 ½
0 0 0 4.0 / 11
10 Stevens,Emily Margaret 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
0 1 4.0 / 11
11 Cuninghame,Anne Dick Smith 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1
0 2.0 / 11
12 Joughin,Hannah Maria 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
2.0 / 11

1908 British Championship, Tunbridge Wells

1908 British Championship photo

British Championship, Tunbridge Wells, round 7, 17 August 1908: Gerard Killoran has identified the players as follows: from left to right as Isidor Gunsberg, vs Francis Lee (W), William Ward (W) vs Henry Atkins, and Joseph Blackburne vs Reginald Michell (W). Photo from BCM, Sept 1908, p372. Gerard has found another photo from the event and posted it here on his website.

1908 British Ladies' Chess Champion, Grace Curling
Grace Moore Curling (née Ellis) (1875-1958)
(Photo from Chess Pie, Publ.BCF, Ed. WH Watts, 1922)
(Blog post about Grace Moore Curling here)

1900s photo of Edith Michell, Edith Price and Gertrude Anderson
left to right: Edith Michell, Edith Price, Gertrude Anderson, probably in 1921
source: gallica.bnf.fr / Bibliothèque nationale de France

1908 British Championship

British Ladies Championship

1908 British Ladies Championship

British First Class etc

1908 British First-Class Chess

British 2nd Class etc

1908 British 2nd class etc

[From BCM, September 1908, pps 369-378]: The fifth annual Congress of the British Chess Federation took place at Tunbridge Wells from the 10th to the 22nd of August, and added another to the series of brilliant meetings held since the foundation of the National Society in 1904. From the moment that it was decided to hold the Congress in the beautiful Kentish town, there was never the slightest doubt of the success of the gathering, as Tunbridge Wells is an ideal resort for a chess player to spend his holiday. There he can enjoy magnificent views in every direction, with all the advantages of the most delightful watering-place in the South of England, and when to these pleasures was added the attraction of a fortnight's good chess, both from the playing and the spectators' point of view, it was not surprising that the company which assembled comprised nearly all the notables of the English chess fraternity. The Congress was the outcome of an invitation from the Tunbridge Wells Chess Club, whose hon. secretary, Mr. R. H. S. Stevenson, and members received most valuable help from his Worship the Mayor of Tunbridge Wells (Alderman B. M. Woollan, J.P.), who is himself a player and admirer of the game.

The programme included the usual tournaments for first, second, and third class players, in addition to the contests for the British Championship and the British Ladies' Championship, and the full list of competitors will be found in our tabulated records of results.

Play took place in the Pump Room, which was tastefully decorated, and the formal opening ceremony took place at 5-30 p.m. on August 10th. when his Worship the Mayor, speaking on behalf of the citizens, offered the delegates, players, and visitors a very cordial welcome, and said it was an honour for Tunbridge Wells to have the Congress held in the town. He hoped they would all take away a high opinion of its citizens and a high opinion of the scenery of the district. He was sorry that the Federation president, Sir John Thursby, could not be present; but he had wired, “Hearty good wishes for pleasant and successful Congress,” and hoped to be present during the second week. He had also received a telegram: "Best of good wishes. Regret absence.—Bishop of Trinidad.” In respect to the competitors, his Worship said he understood that there were 101 competitors from fifty-three towns, the four countries being well represented; and that, including the delegates and other friends, 300 persons had invaded the district. Amongst the prominent visitors were Mr. L. Hoffer and the veteran Mr. James Mortimer; also Mr. J. H. Blackburne, the old English master. If he might interpolate there, might he say that so long as he had known chess—and that had been a large portion of his career—he had known the name of Blackburne as the representative in many hard fights in all parts of the world of the old British Country. He (the Mayor) hoped that on that occasion Mr. Blackburne was going to prove that he had lost none of his skill, and none of his heart in the great game of chess. In bringing his speech of welcome to a close, his Worship said that whoever the winners of the respective contests might prove to be, he was perfectly certain they would be the best of their class and sex, and that Tunbridge Wells would have a great intellectual treat by the visit of the Congress. The Mayoress and himself hoped on the following Saturday to see them at their own home, when they could in a more sociable manner reiterate their welcome to Tunbridge Wells.

Mr. F. W. Flear thanked the Mayor for his very kind and cordial welcome. They were all delighted to know that his Worship was a chess player, and they could only regret—and he was sure the players regretted it also—that they would not have the opportunity of crossing swords with the Mayor. No doubt the Congress would be a very successful one, and they were assured that the good friends at Tunbridge Wells would do all they could to make them comfortable and happy.

Mr. J. W. Wright endorsed the sentiments and thanks expressed by Mr. Flear, and assured all the visiting chess players that they would find Tunbridge Wells a most delightful place.

During the first week there was quite a round of social events, which were thoroughly enjoyed by the great majority whom the Congress had attracted. On the Thursday afternoon about sixty ladies and gentlemen visited the hop gardens of Mr. E. Albert White, at Beltring, Paddock Wood, and spent a most enjoyable time inspecting his extensive grounds. Mr. White, who is president of the Tunbridge Wells Chess Club, received the party, which included Mr. and Mrs. Blackburne, Rev. W. C. Palmer, Mr. J. H. Blake, Mrs. Herring, and others, and after showing them the engines and machinery, conducted his guests through his orchid-chrysanthemum gardens, and presented each visitor with a "button-hole." An excellent tea was served on the lawn, where the guests were received by Mrs. Harry White. The Paddock Wood Band played selections during the afternoon, and operatic pieces were given on Mr. White’s two gramophones. The arrangements, admirably carried out, were made by Mr. R. H. S. Stevenson.

On the Friday night a special concert, in honour of the visit of the Congress, was given by the Corporation Band, and the visitors were the guests of the Band Committee, special seats being reserved for their use. His Worship the Mayor and several members of the Town Council were present, and the scene was very pretty, scores of lights from electric lamps giving a very pleasing and realistic effect.

The programme, which was interspersed with excellent renderings by a vocal party from Brighton, was highly appreciated.
During the afternoon of next day (Saturday) the Mayor and Mayoress (Mrs. Woollan) gave a Reception in honour of the Congress at their charming residence, Sherwood Park. The company, which included the members of the Town Council, Borough Magistrates, many leading citizens of Tunbridge Wells, and nearly all the players competing in the tournaments, mustered nearly 250 ladies and gentlemen. The guests, who were announced by the Mace-bearer, were received by the Mayor and Mayoress in the morning-room. After the reception, the company wandered through the extensive grounds and beautiful gardens, and the weather being ideal for such a gathering a most enjoyable afternoon was spent by all whose good fortune it was to be present. Musical selections were rendered by an excellent orchestra—Price’s Scarlet Band—and light refreshments were provided in abundance. During the afternoon quite a large group of the players, officials, and visitors was taken by the well-known local photographer, Mr. Lankester, which, with his kind permission, we reproduce as our frontispiece. The individual likeness in each case is excellent—Mr. Blackburne, Mr. Hoffer, Mr. Rees, Mr. Dobell. Mr. Mortimer, Mr. Keeble, Mr. Mackenzie, Mr. Lee, Mr. Blake—indeed, the features of every one portrayed are excellent and easily recognised.

The prizes in the various contests were as follows :—
British Championship.—First, £30 ; second, £20 ; third, £15 ; fourth, £10.
British Ladies’ Championship.—First, £10; second, £7 10s. ; third, £5 ; fourth, £2 10s.
First Class (two sections).—First, £12 ; second, £8 ; third, £4—in each section.
Second Class (two sections).—First, £8 ; second, £4 ; third, £2—in each section.
Third Class (two sections).—First, £4 ; second, £2 ; third, £1—in each section.

A glance at the official scoring tables impresses one with the fact that the greater number of the players are in the habit of attending these meetings year after year. This would certainly give the impression that, having once tasted the delights of a Federation Congress, many people find considerable pleasure in repeating the experience.

In the British Championship Tournament, nine of the entrants competed last year at the Crystal Palace; six of them were at the Shrewsbury meeting, seven at Southport and six at the first tourney at Hastings, in 1904. Of the new-comers this year, Gunsberg is the only one who has not before competed, and his re-entry into the chess arena gave additional interest to the tourney.

In these tournaments the principal speculation of both the players and the British chess world generally is the play of Atkins. Will he again continue his habit of becoming champion, or has the time arrived for his deposition? On this occasion he went off in great style, drawing his first game—which he generally loses —and it was not till the ninth round that he suffered defeat—this at the hands of Blake.

Some of the amateurs when facing the champion are, in truth, a little afraid of him, and, trying to imitate his cool, calculating, relentless methods, sadly fail. Blake, however, with a good opening from his favourite Vienna, made no scruples about attacking, and brought his full force to bear upon the Black King and his defenders. Atkins, sorely beset, relieved the siege by an exchange of Queens and one Rook, but lost two Pawns as a consequence, and resigned.

There has been no really great game played in the tourney, but Atkins' victory over Mackenzie has been justly admired as an example of the gospel according to Lasker, as interpreted by Atkins.

Ward played consistently well throughout; he had a piece of ill-luck in losing to Atkins on the time limit. This was quite an inadvertence. As a rule the man who loses on time is in difficulties, but Ward had, in fact, at the time a trifle the best of the position. But if people—chess players and everybody else—will run their chess moves or their train-catching, or their bargain closing, &c.. to the very last second, they must occasionally find themselves in the position of certain unwise virgins.
Blackburne’s play is watched with the best of wishes by all, and in particular is always followed with kindly interest by gentlemen of about his own age, some of whom, taking a seat at his side, remain in it throughout the sitting, gazing at the board with great interest certainly, but with how much chessic intelligence none can say. Truth must be told—the veteran did little to reward his old-time admirers, giving them as his score six draws and three wins, his chess being altogether of a milder character than in days of yore. Still, his victory over Lean was obtained by strong, trenchant play.

Gunsberg was handicapped by the cares of journalism, in addition to those of chess. His performance throughout must be regarded by himself and his many admirers as disappointing, though his win against Mackenzie was gained by a sort of old-time inspiration, which, though probably unsound, brought at once into the position such complications as Mackenzie, who was suffering from that common malady, time pressure, was quite unable to unravel, and the result was a curious and ingenious mate.

Lee is a player of excellent chess stamina, who, though getting on in years, fairly revels in a hard game, and most of his encounters had to be adjourned to the evening sitting. His win against Blake was, however, a bright example of sharp and well-executed attack.

The most brilliant chess in the tourney has been shewn by the Rev. W. C. Palmer. His victories over Shoosmith and Gunsberg were gained by combinations which delighted the spectators; and his ending against Ward, after giving up two Rooks, looked magnificent, but really was a piece of luck, as he ought to have lost the game. Palmer’s great effort was in the last round, when he defeated Blackburne, after an arduous struggle of over six hours.

Michell has been a prize-winner for the last two years, but now lacked half a point to bring him into the circle. Sergeant, who also scored 5½, has played some good games—notably against Michell and Palmer; while Blake, Mackenzie, and Shoosmith occupy somewhere about the positions which a shrewd student of public form would have assigned to them before the tournament began. Lean, of Brighton, is the last man on the list He is accustomed to play with opponents of inferior skill, and this is his first appearance in a great tournament. There was generally something tempestuous at the board where Lean happened to be playing, for generally he threw caution to the winds, and went for the hostile King, without regard to the cost. He is full of attacking ideas, and his win against Sergeant, after giving up both his Rooks, was very finely conceived.

The triple tie for first place in the Ladies’ Championship Tourney, with the present (or late) holder, Mrs. Herring, only half a point behind, shews the remarkable equality of these ladies' skill. Miss Lawson, who has exhibited greatly improved form, seemed to be a certain winner, but lost in the last two rounds to Mrs. Anderson and Mrs. Curling. She has greatly improved in both strength and style of play since her first appearance as a competitor at Southport, in 1905. Mrs. Curling will probably be better known to some of our readers as Miss Grace Ellis. She did not compete in 1905 and 1907, but took part in the Hastings and Shrewsbury tournaments. Mrs. Anderson has competed in all the five tournaments that have been held, and on each occasion has carried off a prize. At Shrewsbury, in 1905, Mrs. Anderson was second, half a point only behind Mrs. Herring. Mrs. Houlding, who last year tied for first place, was quite out of form. It is understood that the three leaders will meet, probably in December, to decide who shall hold title, medal, and trophy. (Webmaster’s note: The play-off for the 1908 British Ladies' Championship took place in February 1909 in London and the scores were Grace Curling 2½, Agnes Lawson 2, Gertrude Anderson 1½.)

Shories, as usual, won first prize in his section in the first class tourney, but for once he was hard pressed, as Waterman, whom he defeated in the final round, was only half a point behind.

D. Miller, who won Section B with ease, took first prize in the third class in 1904, and first in the second class in 1905. Considering that advancement to a higher class usually checks a player’s career, his continued success is most notable. Heastie and Adcock, who, with Dixon, tied for first place in the second class, Section B, have both taken prizes in this division before, and next year should be invited to step up higher. In Section A of the third class, Mr. W. H. Gundry, of Exeter, who won the first prize with a clear record of wins, is much too strong for this company. He ought certainly to have been competing in the second class.

The Problem Solving tourney took place on Monday, August 17th. There were fourteen competitors, and to these four problems were submitted. Two problems were in two moves, and were composed by P. H. Williams ; and two three movers, by A. W. Daniel and G. Heathcote respectively. J. Keeble, of Norwich, proved the winner, scoring 30 points out of a possible 45. He was closely followed by J. W. Dixon, of Hanley, last year’s winner, with 38 points ; W. Ward, of London, being third, with 28. The judges were, as usual, Mrs. Baird and Mr. F. R. Adcock. The test problems were all good class compositions—Mr. Heathcote’s three-mover in particular evoking the admiration of the competitors.

Among the side shows of the Congress, the Lightning Tourneys are always popular. The first of these attracted fifty-six competitors, and was played in sections. The ultimate winners were :—First, Palmer; second, Shoosmith; third, Lee; fourth, Todd. In the second, with 48 entries, Palmer and Shoosmith were again first and second, with Yates third and Waterman fourth.
The prize-winners in the Continuous Handicap were :—First, E. Shepherd, Class 6; second. E. J. Fairchild, class 6 : third, E. Eccles, Class 5 ; fourth, F. D. Yates, Class 3 ; fifth, A. Louis, Class 3 ; sixth. Mrs. White, Class 7.

Although not recognised officially, the weird Kriegspiel was in evidence daily in the apartment which had been devoted to the use of the Press. Here a party of enthusiasts were at work at all hours, and so early in the morning sitting did they make their appearance that it was surmised that they had skittled their tourney games in order to gratify their cravings for this remarkable pastime.

The closing meeting of the Congress was held on Saturday morning, August 22nd, in the Pump Room, when the prizes were distributed. Sir John Thursby, who reached Tunbridge Wells on the Thursday, presided, and in the course of his speech expressed the thanks of the members of the Federation to the Mayor and Corporation and the Tunbridge Wells Chess Club for all the excellent arrangements they had made. He had no idea that the place had such charming surroundings, and the memories of the visit would be especially interesting. During the year the Federation had been strengthened by an additional unit—the Scottish Chess Association, and next year possibly the Congress would be held in the North. He congratulated Mr. Atkins upon his continued success. With respect to the ladies' contest, he hoped that when the tie is decided the best lady would win. Before presenting the prizes he had the pleasant task of asking Mr. and Mrs. Rees and Mr. R. H. S. Stevenson to accept special gifts “from the grateful competitors in all the tournaments." Mr. Rees, in reply, said that he and his wife had been so well assisted by the competitors that the work had proved a real pleasure, and he hoped to be able to serve the Federation as well in the future as in the past. The proceedings were brought to a close with a vote of thanks to Sir John Thursby, proposed by Mr. Rees, seconded by Mr. James Mortimer, and supported by the Rev. W. C. Palmer.

In our group of some of the competitors at play, for which we are indebted to Mr. Lankester, the gentleman who is seen standing, with the paper book in hand, is the genial and courteous hon. secretary, Mr. Stevenson, who has made quite a host of new friends by the splendid work which he did towards making the gathering the brilliant success it proved—the Rev. W. C. Palmer says of him: “He worked like a trooper throughout, and to him the success of the Congress was largely due.’’
Mr. Stevenson is not new to chess organising work. He was elected hon. secretary of the Tunbridge Wells Club in 1905, and is still in office. Since his election the club has doubled its membership, and is now located in comfortable permanent quarters at the Academy, 50, Dudley Road—a place which he purchased and there furnished a Chess Room. Mr. Stevenson acted as organising secretary for the successful Congresses of the Kent Chess Association at Tunbridge Wells in 1906 and Deal in 1907. He also acted as steward at the Sevenoaks meeting in Easter week of this year, and in order to do all in his power for the success of the present Congress he gave up his holiday to the work, and worked most energetically from start to finish, supported by the following gentlemen, who formed the local committee :—Messrs. K. A. White (chairman), T. S. Connan, G. Read, R L. Nickels, G. Newnham, B. T. Stevenson, H. A. Honey, W. M. Brooke, A. L. Curling, C. J. Glass, and H. Butler, with the co-operation of Mr. Grace, Alderman Barton, Mr. F. W. Elers, and Councillor Hyde.

We have made arrangements to reproduce the whole series of games played in the British Championship contest, and now present the first instalment. With such a large number to print it is obvious that we cannot give many games with notes, but we hope to do better in this direction with the later instalments.

File Updated

Date Notes
8 Feb 2018 Added photos, crosstables and report from 1908 BCM, plus the game Schories-Fawcett (First Class A, Round 7), kindly submitted by Alan Smith. Also supplied round numbers and dates for the games Miller-MacBean (First-Class B) and Houlding-Crum (Women's Championship)
12 May 2020 Added one game from the British Ladies' Championship - G.Watson-A.Crum (Rd 11). My thanks to Brian Denman for contributing this game.