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John Owen
Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.  
Number of games in database: 88
Years covered: 1856 to 1898
Overall record: +34 -45 =9 (43.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening (20 games)
A00 Uncommon Opening (13 games)
000 Chess variants (7 games)
C00 French Defense (4 games)
D02 Queen's Pawn Game (4 games)
A07 King's Indian Attack (3 games)
A04 Reti Opening (3 games)
A01 Nimzovich-Larsen Attack (3 games)
C52 Evans Gambit (2 games)
D20 Queen's Gambit Accepted (2 games)

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(born Apr-08-1827, died Nov-24-1901, 74 years old) United Kingdom

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John Owen was born in Marchington, East Staffordshire, England. In 1851, he was ordained and became a vicar (Reverend) of Hooton, Cheshire from 1862 to 1900. He was recognized as one of London’s strongest amateurs. He played chess and wrote under the pseudonym ‘Alter’. He popularized the opening 1.e4 b6, Owen’s Defense. In 1857, he won the minor section of the first British Chess Association Congress in Manchester. The major section was won by Johann Jacob Loewenthal. In 1858, he tied for 3rd-4th in the 2nd British Chess Association Congress in Birmingham. In 1858, he lost a match to Samuel Standidge Boden in London (+2-7=2). In 1860, he tied a match with Ignatz von Kolisch in Manchester (+4-4=0). In 1862, He took 3rd place in the 1st British Chess Federation Congress in London (the first round-robin event), behind Adolf Anderssen and Louis Paulsen. In 1868-1869, he took 3rd-4th in the 2nd British Chess Association Challenge Cup in London. In 1870, he took 3rd in the 3rd British Chess Association Congress in London. In 1874, he tied a match with Amos Burn in Liverpool (+4-4=0). In 1875, he lost a match with Amos Burn in London (+11-6=3). In 1876, he tied for 2nd-4th in the 12 British Counties Chess Association Congress in Cheltenham. In 1878, he lost a match with Johannes Zukertort (+0-8=3). In 1881, he took 2nd in the 16th British Counties Chess Association Congress. In 1888, he defeated Amos Burn in a match in Liverpool (+5-3=0). In 1890, he tied for 3rd-4th in the 23rd British Counties Chess Association Congress. In 1894-1895, he took 2nd-3rd in the 3rd Craigside Tournament in Llandudno, Wales.

notes: John occasionally played consultation chess on the teams of Staunton / Owen, Owen / Barnes, Owen / Lowenthal & Burnell / Owen / Pinda.

Wikipedia article: John Owen (chess player)

Last updated: 2017-05-23 17:05:54

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 88  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Owen vs T W Barnes 1-0311856London (England)C52 Evans Gambit
2. Owen vs Horwitz 1-0341856LondonC44 King's Pawn Game
3. S Boden vs Owen 0-1381856LondonA00 Uncommon Opening
4. Owen vs T W Barnes 1-0221857London (England)C52 Evans Gambit
5. Owen vs T W Barnes 1-0271857LondonC27 Vienna Game
6. S Boden vs Owen  1-0301858London m7B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
7. Owen vs T W Barnes  1-0311858LondonB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
8. S Boden vs Owen 1-0391858London m7B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
9. S Boden vs Owen 1-0551858London m7A07 King's Indian Attack
10. Owen vs S Boden 0-1331858London m7A00 Uncommon Opening
11. Owen vs Morphy 0-1471858Casual GameD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
12. Morphy vs Owen 1-0351858Casual GameB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
13. Morphy vs Owen 0-1461858Casual GameB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
14. Owen vs Morphy 0-1331858Odds match000 Chess variants
15. Owen vs Morphy ½-½301858Odds match000 Chess variants
16. Owen vs Morphy 0-1371858Odds match000 Chess variants
17. Owen vs Morphy 0-1471858Odds match000 Chess variants
18. Owen vs Loewenthal  0-1521858BirminghamC21 Center Game
19. Owen vs Morphy 0-1211858Odds match000 Chess variants
20. Owen vs Morphy ½-½451858Odds match000 Chess variants
21. Owen vs Morphy 0-1181858Odds match000 Chess variants
22. T Hampton vs Owen 0-1361858BirminghamB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
23. Owen vs Steinitz 1-0611862LondonA10 English
24. V Green vs Owen 0-1591862LondonB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
25. Owen vs Anderssen 1-0461862LondonA82 Dutch, Staunton Gambit
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 88  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Owen wins | Owen loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: Nice to see such a detailed Biography of Mr.Owen Much more detailed than those of most of the leading GMs of the 20th century!?
Jul-01-07  alter: Good to see Rev J.Owen being made player of the day. He isn't as well known as he should be - he had wins against Morphy, Anderssen & Steinitz to his credit. Also, Owen's Defence (1.e4 b6) is well worth a try in blitz games, it's much better than it's reputation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  SwitchingQuylthulg: Yes, I think 1...b6! practically refutes 1.e4.
Jul-01-07  Wilson H. L.: Probably the strongest amateur player in London, since he was able to beat some of the strongest player of his time. His win against Anderssen is a good example : Owen vs Anderssen, 1862

Also, the game Owen vs. I R Nelson from 1986 was certainly played by another Owen.

Jul-02-07  alter: The interesting thing about John Owen is that he had a good understanding of ideas that were well ahead of his time, e.g. the importance of centre pawns and the bishop pair. But despite his impressive wins it has to be admitted that some of Owen's games are not very good . All in all he is a bit of a conundrum, the Basman of his day. As a fellow b6 fan I'd hope that SwitchingQuythulg will agree that Christian Bauer's book "Play 1...b6" is one of the best opening books available.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Owen was an a--h---. He was completely obnoxious to Morphy, even when he was supposedly serving as a second to Morphy (not chosen by Morphy, weirdly enough) in Morphy's match against Lowenthal. When Morphy won, he would tell Morphy how lucky he had been, and offer encouragement to Lowenthal.
Jul-01-08  gus inn: <alter> how come you are able to post from the <2nd> of July ??

There are different timezones , but still .. :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  xenophon: <gus inn: <alter> how come you are able to post from the <2nd> of July ?? There are different timezones , but still .. :)> another place another year
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <gus inn> You might also ask how <alter> managed to post from beyond the grave ...

I suppose there are some advantages to being a vicar, but I never imagined that it would include the ability to kibitz from the afterlife.

Jul-01-09  WhiteRook48: Hsppy birthday dude
Aug-02-09  myschkin: . . .

@ <morpstau> Hey SBC how much American dollars is that sum [£1000] equivelent to?


Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Happy Birthday John Owen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kdogphs: Because of this man, I have to tell my students that 1)...b6 is not a good response to 1) e4!!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  SwitchingQuylthulg: <kdogphs: Because of this man, I have to tell my students that 1)...b6 is not a good response to 1) e4!!!>

It is.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <SwitchingQuylthulg: <kdogphs: Because of this man, I have to tell my students that 1)...b6 is not a good response to 1) e4!!!> It is.>

You're making a believer out of me...

Jul-01-11  YoungEd: Owen to his openings, he didn't win as much as he might have.
Jul-01-11  WhiteRook48: He beat Morphy with 1...b6, that's pretty good.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Games 86, 87 and 88 are actually played by Richard Owen, who won the Utah State championship in 1958 at the age of 16. In March 1959 Owen played simultaneous exhibitions on consecutive weekends, finishing with a score of +209, -6, =0.
Premium Chessgames Member
  juan31: Excelente fotografia, del Maestro Jhon Woen.
Oct-14-15  The Kings Domain: Nice photo. The dogs were cute. :-)
Jan-15-16  SimplicityRichard: <FSR: Owen was an a... h....>

<SBC: "Were it not for my position, I would willingly play for £1,000.>

It is indeed surprising that a so called "man of the cloth" can have such an obnoxious attitude, and with such crude words forming at his lips.


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <FSR> what's the source for your comments on Owen's behavior towards Morphy?

<SimplicityRichard> well, chess is rather a competitive game, and has no shortage of examples of overconfidence.

At the time, the practice of laying wages on a match was common, and might just be a measure or yardstick of such confidence.

And don't forget, Owen was one of Morphy's first opponents when he arrived in Europe, right after his match with Barnes. Owen's comment may have been made after seeing Morphy's substandard results against Barnes (supposedly due to the effects of the long ocean voyage and acclimatization).

<When Morphy first arrived [before going to Streatham], he played Barnes a series of 26 games. During the first ten games, they alternated wins. This surprising occurrence led many spectators to believe that Morphy's reputation had been greatly overstated. As the match progressed and as Morphy started to recover from the effects of his trip and from the illness that affected him when he first arrived, the balance shifted dramatically eventually giving Morphy 19 wins to Barnes' 7 wins. Barnes could boast of having the best results against Morphy than any other opponent. While waiting for Staunton's "month of preparation" to pass, Morphy visited all the London chess clubs but tended to gravitate toward Simpson's Grand Divan. Although he made himself constantly available for chess and played casual games against most of London's strongest players (of which he considered Boden the strongest), Staunton always managed to elude him. On July 3, Morphy played a series of three games with Alter - John Owen. Owen won the first and Morphy won the final two. Later they played two more games which Morphy won.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Unfortunately most of the links batgirl refs in the above link are stale. As is <SBC>'s link to batgirl's material.

I'm sure they're out there, somewhere.

I may be a bit biased by his good performance at <London (1862)>, but wondering about his overall contemporaneous reputation given the sullying on this page, I went and found this:

Fabrizio Zavatarelli in his <Ignaz Kolisch: The Life and Chess Career (2015)> p81 writes:

<John Owen (1827–1901) never played abroad, but was nonetheless one of those chess warriors who did his country honor in the nineteenth century. >

And his obituary in BCM Jan 1902 p16 doesn't mention him being an a--h---- a single time, instead closing with this:

< Mr. Owen possessed a tall commanding figure, and was of a very friendly and genial disposition. He was never put out of temper by defeat, and in success made every allowance for the errors of his opponent, so that it was always a pleasure to play with him. He was an inveterate smoker, to which was attributed by some his evenness of temper, but we think it should rather be ascribed to his natural disposition and self-control. He was a true-hearted friend to those who knew him, and we do not think he ever made an enemy. He was certainly firm in his own opinions. but quite open to conviction whenever they were shown to be wrong.

Requiescat in pace,

Resurgat in gloria. C.E.R.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, John Owen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: There's this Yorkshire Chess History article about Rev. John Owen:

<In 1862 the Rev. John Owen became perpetual curate of Hooton, Cheshire, a district three miles NE of Elsmere Port, on the Wirral peninsula. At least four of the children were born here.


The 1881 census found the family back on the Wirral, at Little Sutton, about three miles west of Elsmere Port. John Owen’s 73-year-old mother-in-law was now living with him. Also at Little Hutton were Reginald, Gurth and Mary. Father John was still vicar of Hooton, Reginald was an Oxford undergraduate, Gurth was a commercial clerk, and Mary was a scholar. The household included three servants.


Son Arthur Alan De Ville Owen ... was curate of Hooton, Cheshire, while his father was vicar, from 1892 to 1896;>

So it looks that Owen was vicar from 1862 to 1896, and perhaps more?


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