Blake learnt chess in 1897 and was already a strong player when he arrived in Winnipeg. He was the only local player who could compete with fellow Winnipegger and Canadian champion Magnus Smith on something resembling even terms, although Smith generally finished ahead of Blake in competitions. After Smith moved to New York in 1907 Blake stepped into his shoes as the premier player in the area; apart from winning the Northwest championship five times in succession, Blake was twice runner-up in the Canadian championship (1909 and 1913) and in 1911 won the Western Chess Association championship (the precursor to the U.S. Open). Moving to Brandon curtailed Blake’s chess activities as did the Great War, although he provided a brilliancy prize for the 1918 Northwest tournament whilst on leave. He did make the journey from Brandon to Winnipeg to play in the Northwest competitions 1923-25 and won two of those championships before moving to Ontario.
Blake played in several more Canadian championships in the 1920s, generally finishing in the middle of the field. His last such event was in Hamilton in 1931, when he was apparently living in Windsor. After moving to this province he played in the BC - WA matches of 1949, 1950, and 1951, despite being around seventy years old at the time. His obituary in the White Rock Sun makes no mention of his military career or chess accomplishments. There are certainly soldiers who would prefer to forget their wartime service, but more likely by the time of Blake's passing there was no one left in the area who knew his early background: his wife had predeceased him by several years, and they left no offspring.
[Sources: Death registration; attestation papers, LAC; Canadian Chess Chat, November 1953, 23; White Rock Sun, May 25, 1961, front page]
Burrell was taught chess at age eleven by his father. After emmigration he joined the Winnipeg chess club, and seems to have been an active club player for the rest of his life. He came second in the Northwest Championships of 1901 and 1903 but did not win the event until 1916, subsequently repeating as champion in 1927. In later life he said he received his best training from Magnus Smith, a frequent opponent unitl the latter left for New York in 1907. Burrell played Géza Maróczy and Emanuel Lasker when they visited Winnipeg, and while on leave during the war he had the chance to cross swords with Blackburne. Burrell participated in the 1904 Canadian championship in Winnipeg, scoring 5.0/11; his other championship appearance was in 1941, where he finished last - however, it should be remembered that Burrell was seventy-one years old. He was representing B.C. by that time, so must have done well in the B.C. championship for that year, although we have no information about the tournament except the winner (Leo Duval). Burrell was thus the second player from B.C. to take part in the Dominion championship, after John Ewing in 1924.
In the 1940s Burrell was a member and sometime treasurer of the Vancouver chess club and would walk from his home to the club and back via the Lions Gate bridge, there being no club in North Vancouver at the time. This changed in 1952 with the formation of the North Vancouver chess club, and despite his advanced age Burrell won the club championship in 1952, 1953, and 1955, only relinquishing it temporarily to Byron Arden in 1954. Burrell was also active in the BC - WA matches, and still played as high as board 15 (out of 30) in his last match in 1955. Around this time he said, "I have wasted many hours playing chess. She is a fascinating mistress. Keep her in check!" This may have upset the jealous Caissa, or perhaps it's just the vagaries of history, but for whatever reason we unfortunately have no published wins by Burrell - only losses and two draws.
Given his background and the fact that this Bulletin will appear around Remembrance Day, it should be noted that Burrell's war diaries were donated to the Canadian War Museum and excerpts may be read online. "After the war they say the question will be asked what did you do in the Great War? To us out here the question rather arises what have you done with your LIFE, any moment it may have gone from you."
[Sources: Death registration; attestation papers, LAC; diary excerpts at the Canadian War Museum website; Ellen Mackay; website devoted to the art of Arnold Burrell; Canadian Chess Chat: November 1953, 23; August/September 1955, front cover; March 1956, 17; Manitoba Free Press: March 3, 1906, 10; Vancouver Province: June 20, 1953, 11; June 25, 1955, 43; July 2, 1955, 39; March 26, 1956, 2; March 31, 27]
Creemer learnt to place chess in Russia. While in Toronto he was secretary of the Judean Chess Club, and played against Emanuel Lasker in an exhibition in 1926. In 1930 he defeated Sir George Thomas in Winnipeg, also during a simultaneous. He won the Manitoba championship in 1934, the Winnipeg title in 1937, and was one of Abe Yanofsky's first coaches. After moving to Vancouver, Creemer won the Vancouver Chess Club championship in 1942 and was instrumental in the founding of the Vancouver Jewish Chess Club in 1945. He was Vancouver champion 1946-48, but his greatest achievement as a player was winning the Open tournament held to celebrate the Vancouver Diamond Jubilee in July 1946.
Although Creemer was a strong player, his lasting legacy lies in the realm of chess organization and promotion. He held various positions on the BCCF Executive, including president, secretary, and publicity manager, and was chairman of the organizing committee which brought the Canadian Championship to the West Coast for the first time in 1951. John G. Prentice paid tribute to Creemer for his "tremendous amount of extra work, corresponding with leading players, making arrangements for visits from master players and staging tournaments and exhibitions." From the summer of 1947 until his death Dave Creemer wrote a weekly chess column in the Vancouver Province newspaper: each Saturday the column included a chess problem ladder, news from local, Canadian, and international events, and usually several games. This did much to publicize the BCCF and chess in general throughout the province.
The current trophy for the B.C. Junior Championship is the Dave Creemer Trophy. After his death a Dave Creemer Memorial Fund was established "for the purpose of introducing and encouraging chess in the schools of Vancouver and throughout B.C., also in high schools and among other youth groups or organizations" (BCCF Special Meeting, 13 January 1954). Monies from the fund were used to supply chess sets to schools and trophies for school competitions; in 1967 a BCCF motion was passed which stated "that the Trustees of the Dave Creemer Fund be instructed to wind up the Fund and to make the money left in the fund available to the Junior Chess Co-ordinator, and that the Junior Chess Co-ordinator ensure that the name of Dave Creemer is suitably perpetuated in the field of Junior Chess." This was done by holding the 2003 Junior Championship and naming the current trophy in his memory, on the fiftieth anniversary of his passing.
[Sources: Death registration; Al Creemer; Jewish Historical Society; Jewish Western Bulletin: July 19, 1946, 1; January 8, 1954, 2; Leonoff, Cyril E. Pioneers, Pedlars, and Prayer Shawls. Victoria: Sono Nis Press, 1978; Vancouver Province: September 24, 1949, 8; December 24, 1953, 11]
This literary bent was also evident in Davie's chess activities: he wrote a chess column in the Victoria Daily Colonist from 1916 until his political career forced him to hand over the reins to Thomas Piper, and was also a contributor to the British Chess Magazine. It is not known when he learnt to play chess, but in 1914 Davie took a course of instruction from Thomas Piper. It appears he was a good student, for two years later he won the inaugural Victoria City Championship by beating William J. Barker in a match (apparently this also marked the first time chess clocks were used for a match in Victoria).
However, it was in the field of correspondence chess that Davie made his most important contributions. In April 1916 he formed the Canadian Branch of the Chess Amateur Correspondence League, which ran various tournaments for both American and Canadian players. Davie's connection with the league did not last long: he allowed the CACL (Canadian Branch) to be part of the merger which led to the formation of the Correspondence Chess League of America in 1917. He withdrew from any role in the new organization, on the grounds that since there were so few players in Western Canada, control would be better exercised from further east. Despite this short tenure, he inaugurated the first Canadian correspondence championship (won by R.W. Worsley of Yorkton, Saskatchewan), as recognized and continued now by the Canadian Correspondence Chess Association.
[Sources: Death registration; British Chess Magazine, August 1915, 280; Avery, Bryce D. Correspondence Chess In America. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2000; Vancouver Province, February 20, 1950; Vancouver Sun, February 20, 1950; Victoria Daily Colonist: March 12, 1916, 14; March 26, 1916, 24; April 2, 1916, 9]
De Havilland married Lilian Ruse in 1914 and the couple settled in Tokyo; they had two daughters, Olivia (b. July 1, 1916) and Joan (b. October 22, 1917). The marriage failed: Lilian discovered that her husband was having an affair with the household maid, Yoki. She and her two daughters left de Havilland for California in 1919, but the couple was not officially divorced until 1925; de Havilland subsequently married Yoki in 1927. Olivia and Joan did not even see their father again until 1933; at that point it was decided that Joan should finish her schooling in Japan, but she left in 1934 after her father behaved improperly towards her. The sisters remained estranged from their father from then on; after they became famous film stars de Havilland tried to contact them (seeking unneccessary support), but they always refused to see him.
De Havilland and Yoki fled Japan just before World War 2 and went to the U.S.; since Yoki was Japanese she had to be interned during the war, but de Havilland arranged accommodations for them at the Broadmoor resort in Colorado Springs. Following the end of the conflict the couple moved to Victoria, where Yoki died in 1958. In 1960 de Havilland married for the third time, to Rosemary (Mary) Beaton of Victoria; eight years later the couple was residing in North Vancouver when de Havilland passed away at the age of ninety-five.
It is not know when de Havilland learned to play chess, but considering the limited number of opportunities to play in Japan, it seems likely that he was familiar with the game at least as early as his studies at Cambridge. Apart from learning oriental languages de Havilland also adopted some asian pastimes, including go: Joan Fontaine reported that when she was living with her father in Tokyo, he spent much of his time at his chess and go clubs. He was proficient enough to author The ABC of Go, published in 1910. It is not known whether he learned Japanese chess or shogi, although he certainly knew some shogi players (see below).
The first specific references to de Havilland and chess come from 1933. In January World Champion Alexander Alekhine visited Tokyo and gave a 14-board blindfold simultaneous at the Imperial Hotel, which was where de Havilland happened to be living. One of Alekhine's opponents was the shogi champion Yoshio Kimura; Alekhine thought highly enough of their game to later include it in one of his volumes of best games. However, this was not their only meeting; a few days before the simultaneous the same opponents played an offhand game, which Alekhine apparently won with ease (Kimura knew the moves of occidental chess, but had had hardly any practice). The umpire on this occasion was listed as being "assisted by Mr. de Havilland, the well-known British resident of Tokyo." [Japan Times & Mail, January 20, 1933, pp. 1-2] The newspaper noted there were two umpires for the simultaneous proper, "one a foreigner and one Japanese," but did not name them: perhaps the foreigner was de Havilland. There are two photographs of the event in the Japan Times of January 22, 1933; one of them shows the umpires(?) standing next to a seated Alekhine, but the microfilmed images are not clear enough to attempt positive identifications.
After moving to Victoria chess seems to have become one of de Havilland's major pastimes, as go was during his years in Japan. He played on board 17 (out of 49) in the 1948 B.C. - Washington international team match, and was a participant in the 1950 B.C. Championship in Victoria, scoring a respectable 3/7 - this at the age of seventy-seven! During the 1950s he regularly took part in the Victoria and District Championship, generally finishing around the 50% mark, and in 1957 he sponsored a Swiss event at the Victoria chess club.
Postcript: despite having to watch her father play go and chess, it is not known whether Joan Fontaine ever took an interest in either game. However, Olivia de Havilland was a chess player, although it seems highly unlikely she learnt the game from her father (she was largely estranged from him from the age of two onwards). A photograph in Edward Winter's Kings, Commoners and Knaves shows her contesting a game with Errol Flynn. There is also a memorable scene in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) in which Olivia (as Lady Penelope Gray) plays a game with Queen Elizabeth (Bette Davies); Penelope manages to capture the Queen's knight (symbolic of Essex/Errol Flynn), but this action is met by Elizabeth imperiously sweeping the pieces off the board.
In the words of his daughter, Ruth: "Max was very large, over six feet, 270 lbs when first interned but lost 70 lbs in the first two months. He was also very deaf, very bald, had a beautiful brain, very interested in chess, mathematics and scientific matters. He was never bored as he could always amuse himself working out maths or chess problems. He emigrated to Canada in 1907, bought a farm on Galiano Island and eventually gave a tract of land to the people of the island to be held in trust and perpetuity as a park . . . He was an eccentric but true, honest and utterly dependable." [N.T.P. Murphy, In Search of Blandings (London: Seck and Warburg, 1986): 120.]
As previously mentioned, we have an unusually fine perspective on Enke's activities as a chess player through the large number of game scores he donated to the BC Archives. The earliest date from various Victoria chess club events in 1923. In early 1925 we find a series of games played at queen-knight odds, the giver being Thomas Piper. This seems to have been Piper's preferred method of instruction(?), since there are also reports of him playing games at rook odds with Victoria city champion Partington. In any case, the games seem to have had their desired effect, because at Easter of 1925 Enke won the BC championship; he subsequently repeated the feat in 1927, when the "championship" was a match with frequent title-holder William Barker.
Enke was active as a club player in Belgium in the 1930s, and had simul wins against Grob and Soultanbeieff to his credit. He played many games during his internment and was the Tost chess champion (it is unclear whether he ever played Wodehouse, it appears the latter did not play). In retirement he played well enough to score 9.5/16 in the 1952-53 Victoria city championship, this when almost seventy; other participants that year included Olavi Sarakannas (the winner), Lionel Basanta (grandfather of Gary), and Walter de Havilland.
Ewing was taught chess at an early age, and "was the youngest entrant in the Richardson cup competition playing for Edinburgh. Played in the Edinburgh team for three years without losing a game." He won the B.C. Championship in 1916 and 1919-1923; on entering the 1923 competition Ewing made an announcement "that he would do so for the last time, desiring to make his chess activities for the future a source of real pleasurable pastime rather than a serious and arduous task." In recognition of his sequence of wins the B.C. Championship trophy, the Bowser Shield, was given to Ewing permanently; he responded by donating a new trophy, the Ewing Cup, for the competition. During this time Ewing was also active in team events, playing for North Vancouver, and also played first board for Vancouver in the Vancouver - Winnipeg telegraph match of 1924. In August 1924 Ewing was a participant in the Dominion (Canadian) championship in Hamilton, ON, where he finished with a respectable 8/15. He seems to have retired from competitive play thereafter, but reappeared in the mid-1930s, winning the B.C. championship for a record seventh time in 1936. Ewing also produced and edited a chess magazine (the British Columbia Chess Magazine, subsequently the Canadian Chess Magazine) during the years 1918-1920, but like so many early magazines there simply was not a large enough subscription base for it to survive.
[Sources: Death registration; Canadian Who's Who, 1948; British Chess Magazine: 1916, 277; 1925, 354; Toronto Evening Telegram, August 30, 1924, 23; Vancouver Sun, April 16, 1916, 6; Victoria Daily Colonist: April 4, 1923, 10; April 22, 1924, 10; February 29, 1952, 1]
Gonnason was a competent club player, but was more important as a benefactor: he donated two trophies that bore his name. The first, given in 1921, was a cup for the Victoria city championship, a trophy which Gonnason himself won in 1922 with a score of 8/10. The second Gonnason Cup was donated for a provincial intercity team championship; beginning in the early 1920's, the trophy was awarded to the winners of a team match between two cities and was retained for one year, at which point another city could challenge the trophy holders to a match. The last recorded such instance was in May 1962, when the Vancouver City C.C. retained the Gonnason Cup by defeating both the Vancouver Continental C.C. and the Prince George C.C. in match play.
Does any reader know the current whereabouts of the Gonnason Cup(s)??
[Sources: Death registration; Victoria Daily Colonist: February 6, 1924, 10; December 28, 1938, 6; Victoria Times-Colonist, January 24, 1993, M3; B.C.C.F. minutes, February 5, 1960]
It is not known when Helman learnt to play chess, but he became involved in the local chess scene soon after emigrating to Winnipeg. He was a member of the Winnipeg Jewish Chess Club, at that time the strongest club in Western Canada, and played in the Winnipeg team championships for the club. Helman won the Manitoba championship in 1933 and 1944; he participated in three Canadian championships (1931, 1933, and 1945), his best result being clear second place in 1933, just a half-point behind winner Robert Martin. In 1939 Helman was a member of the Canadian team at the Buenos Aires chess olympiad.
After moving to Vancouver in 1945 Helman was quick to join with former Winnipegers Dave Creemer and Frank Atnikov in founding the Vancouver Jewish Chess Club. Helman was the first president, played board one for the club in the interclub league, and won the club championship in three consecutive years, thus becoming the permanent holder of the Rothstein trophy. He was B.C. champion in 1947 and 1948, and was also B.C. speed chess champion in the latter year.
Helman appears to have been less active chess wise in the last few years of his life. Perhaps the arrival of Miervaldis Jursevskis in 1949 discouraged competition to some degree, or business concerns became too pressing; it is know that Helman did not play in the 1951 Canadian championship in Vancouver because of illness. Apart from his winning of the speed title in 1948 there is no particular mention of Helman's prowess at speed chess, but judging by the form of two memorials one assumes this must have been the case. After his untimely death in 1952 the Vancouver Jewish CC held a Helman Memorial Speed Tournament (won by Jack Taylor and Charlie Millar), and his friends back in Winnipeg donated the Abe Helman Memorial Trophy, to be held by the winner of the Canadian speed chess championship. This competition was first held during the 1953 Canadian championship in Winnipeg, and was fittingly won by another Abe from Winnipeg - Abe Yanofsky.
Jursesvkis learnt chess from his father at age six or seven, and achieved success in a number of events, including winning the Riga Jurmala championship on one occasion. [Incidentally Riga Jurmala also includes the resort of Kemeri, which hosted several large international tournaments in the late 1930s.] As a displaced person after WW2 he played in a number of small international events, including Blomberg and Lübeck (both 1945), Meerbeck (1946), and Hanau (1947). In these events Jursevskis crossed swords with strong players from the Baltic countries who were also in D.P. camps, along with German and Austrian masters, including Bogoljubow, Sämisch, Rellstab, Zemgalis, Endzelins, and Arlauskas (the latter two emigrated to Australia and became correspondence GMs).
After moving to B.C. Jursevskis largely outclassed the local opposition, a situation which continued until the arrival of Elod Macskasy in 1957. Indicative of this is a match Jursevskis contested with Leo Duval soon after coming to Vancouver; Duval was a four-time B.C. Champion, had finished fifth in the 1945 Canadian Championship and was known as a tough opponent, yet Jursevskis easily won the match with a 6-2 score. Jursevskis entered the 1949 B.C. Championship and won it with a perfect score, repeating the same feat the following year. He went on to win the championship a further four years in succession, 1954-1957; in recognition of his achievements, Jursevskis was given the championship trophy, the Chris Spencer Cup, in perpetuity. He played in three Canadian Championships, his best result occurring in 1957 when he tied for third behind Vaitonis and Fuster. Jursevskis was a very good blitz player; the D.P. tournaments that he participated in often had adjunct speed events alongside them; Walter invariably did better against the same opposition in the speed tournaments rather than the regular events. He even penned a 14-page booklet in Latvian on the subject (Technique and Tactics of Five Minute Chess, Memmingen 1946). As a professional artist he contributed drawings to a number of chess magazines and also illustrated several chess books: one particular series consisted of chess terms/concepts interpreted via cartoons. His two favourite openings are the Ruy Lopez and the Cambridge Springs defence.
"Jack M. Taylor, who has annotated and contributed the splendid game which follows, offers this tribute to the late Charles F. Millar: 'The player of Black in the following game was well acquainted with the late C.F. Millar, and counted him a very good friend. For twenty-five years we had met in keen but friendly chess rivalry in tournament and match play. Mr. Millar was a man of strong convictions and opinions. This was clearly demonstarted in his chess play, where the plan of his game was always optimistically conceived, and boldly and vigorously executed on the chessboard. Another outstanding characteristic of his play was his amazing immediate evaluation of a position, and his lightning moves. For thirty years, Charles Millar was a tower of strength in B.C. chess, which has indeed suffered a deep and grievous loss. Finally, Mr. Millar's essential integrity always made him play to win. He loved chess and gave of his best!'" [Vancouver Province, 6 November 1954]
Piper developed into a strong amateur player in his native London. He beat the English champion Joseph Blackburne on at least one occasion, and is said to have made a special study of the French Defence. In the Vizayanagaram tournament of 1883 (the 'minor' event held in conjunction with the 1883 London International) Piper placed 8th in a field of 26 which included von Bardeleben, Gunsberg and MacDonnell. After emigrating to North America Piper held his own against all opposition, and was arguably the strongest player on the Pacific coast for twenty-five years. In 1895 Piper led Victoria in a drawn telegraph match with San Francisco, his expertise in the French Defence coming to the fore on board 1. Just before this match Piper had won a handicap tournament at the Victoria Chess Club (a round robin, those in higher classes giving odds to the players in lower classes) with a score of 35-1(!). In 1896 Piper played a match with the former president of the Montréal Chess Club Joseph Babson, beating him by the score of 7-2. In 1899 Magnus Smith won the Canadian championship for the first time; shortly thereafter Piper challenged him to a match for the title, with a purse of $1,000. This was roundly denounced as turning chess into a professional game, and the challenge was not accepted.
After this Piper seems to have largely withdrawn from competitive play, although he continued to be active in many other areas of the game. He remained a strong opponent in offhand games through the first decades of the twentieth century; reports indicate he scored well against all opposition in San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle, as well as Victoria. He acted as referee on several occasions, the most famous being the 1926 simultaneous exhibition by Emanuel Lasker in Seattle. Piper was responsible for coaching a number of Victoria players. His preferred method seems to have been the playing of games at odds: there are reports of games with Partington (many time Victoria city champion) at rook odds, and in 1925 he played a series of games at queen knight odds with Max Enke (subsequent two-time B.C. champion). Around the same time Piper took over authorship of the chess column in the Victoria Daily Colonist from C.F. Davie, and continued producing a more-or-less weekly column until the summer of 1931. At the time of his death Piper was honorary president of both the Victoria and Seattle Chess Clubs.
[Sources: Death registration; Yanofsky, 100 Years of Chess in Canada; Seattle Daily Times, February 19, 1898, 13; Victoria Daily Colonist: October 21, 1923, 36; March 28, 1926, 28; November 27, 1938, 2; November 30, 1938, 5]
In 1956 I organized a Chess Club in Nanaimo of which I was president for four years and now am Tournament Director. I am also Tournament Director for the Vancouver Island Chess League and 2nd Vice-President of B.C. Chess Federation. I was a member of the Canadian Team in the 4th World Team Championship (Postal). My correspondence chess record is 112 wins, 2 draws and 6 losses. I am a machinist, 29 years old and married to an Irish Colleen. We have 3 little boys aged 7, 5 ? and 5 months old." [CCCA Bulletin #288, May 1961, p. 4]
Fred remained on the CCCA executive for ten years; he donated the Schulz Trophy, initially for just the BCCCC, later for the entire CCCA, for the best-played game each year. During the same time he also served on the BCCF executive in various capacities, including President for 1963-65. A tireless organizer and promoter of the game, Fred's best individual result was probably the 1969 BC Closed (i.e., not Championship), where he finished second to Peter Biyiasas but ahead of Bob Zuk, Jonathan Berry, Russ Vogler, Dave Shapero, and Alan Ludgate, among others. A machinist by trade, Fred was also a would-be farmer, and is reported to have analyzed many of his correspondence moves whilst milking a cow.
In the 1970s Fred's interest in chess waned in favour of square-dance calling, which he threw himself into with the same passion as he had for chess. He called at all the BC Provincial Festivals and at several National Conventions; Fred felt that chess actually helped his square dance calling, with its memorization of dance steps and patterns. He was also a stalwart member of the Rotary Club.
Jack Taylor did not learn to play chess until he came to Vancouver, but progressed so rapidly that only five years later, in 1929, he won the B.C. Championship:
"The victory of Mr. J.M. Taylor by 5-0 proclaims the appearance of a new star in the British Columbia chess firmament. The new champion is a British Columbia University man, twenty-one years of age, and is evidently modest and unassuming, for he asks for explanatory notes to the game and helpful information. His opening is scholarly with considerable combinative power in the middle game, is our verdict." [Thomas Piper, Daily Colonist, 14 April 1929]
"Mr. J.M. Taylor gave us the pleasure of his company for a few days. The new champion is well versed in the learning of chess, plays over the classical examples from memory, and has a sound position judgment with combinative powers of a high order. He is a most pleasant opponent, courteous and unassuming in manner, and is a valuable acquisition to British Columbia in general and Vancouver in particular." [Thomas Piper, Daily Colonist, 4 August 1929]
Taylor repeated as B.C. Champion in 1930, 1938, and 1945, and tied for first in 1953; he was also Vancouver Champion on numerous occasions. Jack never made much of a mark nationally, always finishing in the lower half of the Canadian Championships he played in (Saskatoon 1945, Vancouver 1951, Winnipeg 1953, Vancouver 1957). However, he did win a number of miniatures in these competitions due to his sharp eye for tactics; he won games in 12 and 10 moves respectively in the 1945 and 1953 competitions. Jack was a very popular player, and was instrumental in the development of the City Chess Club when it was formed as an offshoot of the Vancouver Chess Club in 1948.
"We note with regret the passing of Jack Taylor. Jack loved chess and played a very good game. In 1929, Jack won the B.C. Championship. In his last tournament, Jack came second in the 'A' Section of the B.C. Class Championships in April. However Jack will be remembered most for his candour and cheerfulness; whenever you wanted to see somebody enjoying himself, all you had to do was go and watch Jack Taylor, the man with the smile." [CFC Bulletin, January/February 1975]
[Sources: Death registration; Lyle McClelland (Focus on Chess); Daily Colonist: 14 April 1929, 10; 4 August 1929, 16]
When about eighteen he gave up chess and devoted his spare time to billiards, where he scored several successes, and to other games of a more exciting nature. After twelve years or so he was tempted to play a young man who was freely issuing a challenge to all comers in a hotel where he chanced to be staying. The challenge was accepted upon the sound principle that strong players seldom advertise themselves, and the result of the game was as such things should be.
The St. George's Club then called upon Mr. Yates, and his chess emerged from its chrysalis to prove the strength of its wings. He played second board for the Westminster C.C. in the second division of the Birmingham Chess League without losing a game, and greatly assisted his team to gain the championship. He also won the brilliancy prize for the best game played in the league during the season.
He now joined the Birmingham C.C. and was selected to play for the County of Warwickshire, later playing three years for the combined Counties of Warwickshire and Staffordshire. During the seven years of his county chess his worst score was a draw - surely a wonderful record. At this time he also played one season for the Sparkhill Club in the Birmingham first division, and won all his games.
The fitting climax of his English career came when he was invited to play for the Individual Championship of the Midlands in 1910, the tournament being limited to twelve players. Unfortunately he was unable to accept this flattering invitation, as he was bound for B.C.
Mr. Yates' British Columbian career would occupy more space if given in detail than this entire issue could afford, so we shall give the main events only. In 1913-14 he was second to Stark in the Vancouver C.C. Championship. In 1914-15 he was third, equal with Ewing in the same event, ranking below Dr. Smith, former City of London Champion, and Stark. In 1915-16 he won the Vancouver C.C. Championship, and was third in the Provincial Tournament, below Ewing and Stark. In 1916-17 he won the Provincial Championship but lost that of the Vancouver C.C. to Butler; in 1917-18 he retained the former title, regained the latter, and also won the Individual Championship of the new Greater vancouver League - a truly splendid performance.
No article upon Mr. Yates as a chess player would be complete without some comments upon his personality and style of play. As an opponent his courtesy is complete, and his attitude in all the vicissitudes of the game is one upon which young players might well model themselves. He is a man of quiet, yet strong personality, depending vastly more on the solid argument of play than on the insecure support of verbal theory. His nerves are of that highly efficient variety known as the nonexistent, which condition is a splendid basis for match play.
Concerning his style, his own appended games will afford the safest clue. He himself is afraid that as he grows older his caution becomes too greatly developed, but a few games with him will quickly dispel any such notion from the over-confiding chess player. In a word, Mr. Yates is a fitting champion both in himself and in his skill over the board." [John Ewing(?), B.C. Chess Magazine, December 1918]