Monday, May 17, 2010

Cecil Purdy

Cecil Purdy (born 27 March 1906; died 6 November 1979) was the first World Correspondence Chess champion.

He began his chess rather late at the age of 16. He was the eldest of 3 children and his education was at Cranbrook school and the University of Sydney (BA). He played in several OTB tournaments in Australia and won the Australian Chess Championship in 1935.
He went on to win this championship 3 more times and also won the Australian Correspondence Chess championships twice (in 1938 and 1945). He gained the IM title in 1951 and the title of Grandmaster of Correspondence Chess in 1953. In 1976, he was awarded the 'Order of Australia' for his excellent services to Australian Chess.

He married Anne Crakanthorp in 1934 and had 2 children, Diana and John, both who became good chess players. Slender and of middle height, Purdy possessed energy and determination that was remarkable. This reflected not only in his competitive chess play but also in his work for the advancement of chess.

Purdy was also a noted chess magazine writer, editor and publisher. He founded the 'Australasian chess review' which later became 'Check' and finally 'Chessworld'. His game-analysis was considered by top players as highly instructive. His greatest skills in chess was in his fantastic grasp of the strategic principles of the game. Especially in Correspondence, he was invincible having lost only very few games in his career.

Financially he struggled almost all his life. The magazine he founded did not generate any great revenue. His writings in newspaper columns, book royalties and prize-money were a good source of his income. He also did some chess coaching.

He died of a heart attack while playing OTB chess. It is said his last words were "I have a win, but it will take some time".

Below i give one of his games from the 1st World Correspondence Chess Championship Preliminary Tournament, 1947.
White: Nielsen
Black: Purdy
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 O-O 5.e3 b6 6.Bd3 c5 7.Nge2 cxd4 8.exd4 d5 9.O-O dxc4 10.Bxh7+ Nxh7 11.Qe4 Qd7 0-1

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