Jean Defuse: ...
Olimpiu G. Urcan & John S. Hilbert - W.H.K. Pollock, p. 97:
John Lindsay McCutcheon was born on May 28, 1857, the son of Scottish immigrants who settled in the Pittsburgh area and early became deeply involved with the processing of iron. As an adolescent McCutcheon studied law at Columbia University, graduating in 1881. He passed his examinations in June that year and was admitted to the bar in Allegheny City, near Pittsburgh. He practiced in his father's firm.
McCutcheon's first chess exploits (among them a victory over J. Zukertort in an 1884 simultaneous exhibition) brought him for a time to the Brooklyn Chess Club.While it remains unclear the exact date of his invention
in the French Defense, it is known that the first extant game dates from a simultaneous exhibition game won by McCutcheon against Steinitz in November 1885.
McCutcheon's job in the Smoky City prevented him from extensive travels for chess and also kept him away from the main centers of activity such as New York and Philadelphia. Thus he found in correspondence chess an ideal
substitute for over-the-board play.
In 1894 he entered the Continental Correspondence Chess Association Tournament, run by Walter Penn Shipley and others out of Philadelphia, and also contested postal (and often thematic) matches with several strong American players. In an effort to promote his variation, McCutcheon sponsored money prizes for the best games played with this particular line in the French at the Monte Carlo international tournaments in 1902 and 1903.
In this sense, he might be considered a minor version of Isaac Rice, who extensively proselytized for the gambit that bears his name. The main difference, of course, is that the McCutcheon variation, unlike the Rice Gambit, is sound. McCutcheon persisted in his habit of motivating leading masters to test his variation.
Harry N. Pillsbury played a two-game match (by correspondence) against
McCutcheon on the Black side of the opening, winning 1 1/2-1/2. So did Emanuel Lasker in 1904. Lasker scored only 1-1, losing a McCutcheon variation game with Black against its inventor and winning the other against it with White.
According to an obituary in the New York Times of July 17, 1905, McCutcheon, who had been ill for some time, died on July 16, 1905 (Gaige gives July 17, 1905, in his Chess Personalia, which may be based on other, possibly more reliable sources, such as the National Cyclopaedia of American Biography). "Mr. McCutcheon was one of the best known chess players of America; the obituary said, "and had a world-wide
reputation both as a player and patron of the game."
A little known fact is that, one of McCutcheon's sisters was the third wife of Thomas De Witt Talmage (1832-1905), at the time one of the most pre-eminent religious figures of nineteenth century America.
<An excellent article on McCutcheon was published by Neil Brennen in The Pennswoodpusher, May 2006:>
The sharp McCutcheon Variation in the French Defense remains even today a popular variation.
John Lindsay McCutcheon and his variation by James O'Fee:
http://www.impalapublications.com/b... (Part 1-6)
& more: http://www.impalapublications.com/b...