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William Cheever Wilson
Number of games in database: 1
Years covered: 1891

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(born Sep-11-1842, died Aug-16-1897, 54 years old) United States of America

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William Cheever Wilson was born in Rutland, Massachusetts. He graduated with honours from the Spencer High School. He learned the rules of chess afterwards, while clerking at a book store in Worcester, Massachusetts. He managed to beat the champions of the two colleges. In addition, he played blindfolded.(1) While Wilson was preparing for college, the Civil War broke out. He joined the 104th New York infantry as first lieutenant. At Gettysburg, he became a prisoner of war of the Confederates and, refusing to be paroled, was incarcerated in Libby Prison and later in Charlotte, North Carolina.(2) One day, he managed to escape and walked for 300 miles on foot, before reaching the Northern lines. During the war, he rose to the rank of Major. In 1875, Wilson moved to Philadelphia and opened one of the country's largest circulating libraries.(1) He was murdered in his library. Robbery is supposed to have been the motif for the crime, since money and Wilson's watch were stolen. John Tittemary, calling himself "William Harris" confessed to the murder, but it turned out to be a fake confession. Later, William "Big Bill" Mason became a suspect, but nothing else could be found out so far. The murder case doesn't seem to have been solved yet.(3)

Wilson excelled at calculating. He was considered to be a very strong player, but never played match games. In serious games, he proved to be a strong opponent for players like Wilhelm Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Karl August Walbrodt and others.(1)

Wilson was important for Philadelphia 's 1886 match victory over New York. He also participated in matches of the Franklin Chess Club, whose Vice-President he was for several years.(1) He scored 4.5/7 at the Philadelphia Chess Club Tournament (1884).(4) He drew Isidor Gunsberg in a casual 2-games match in Philadelphia (1889).(5) In individiual games, he drew William Henry Krause Pollock in Philadelphia (1889),(6) and Walbrodt in Phildelphia (1893).(7)


(1) Gustavus Charles Reichhelm and Walter Penn Shipley, Chess in Philadelphia, 1898, pp. 29-30

(2) The text actually says "Charlottesville, N. C.", but Charlottesville is in Virginia, Charlotte in North Carolina.

(3) John Hilbert (Amherst, New York, USA) in C.N. 3891. Reproduced in Edward Winter, Chess and Murder,

(4) Rod Edwards,

(5) Rod Edwards,

(6) Rod Edwards,

(7) Rod Edwards,

 page 1 of 1; one game  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Gunsberg vs W C Wilson 0-1421891Simul, 15bC51 Evans Gambit

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