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John Owen
Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.  
Number of games in database: 105
Years covered: 1856 to 1899

Overall record: +39 -51 =8 (43.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 7 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Uncommon Opening (10) 
 Queen's Pawn Game (6) 
    D02 A46 D05
 Nimzo-Larsen Attack (5) 
 Ruy Lopez (4) 
    C60 C64 C84 C67
With the Black pieces:
 Uncommon Opening (27) 
    B00 A00
 French Defense (4) 
    C00 C01
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Owen vs Burn, 1887 1-0
   Morphy vs Owen, 1858 0-1
   Burn vs Owen, 1876 0-1
   Owen vs A Boden, 1867 1-0
   Owen vs J Wisker, 1868 1-0
   Owen vs Burn, 1874 1-0
   T Barnes vs Owen, 1862 0-1
   G MacDonnell vs Owen, 1868 0-1
   Burn vs Owen, 1874 0-1
   Owen vs Steinitz, 1862 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   5th BCA Congress, London (1862)
   Manchester (1890)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   London 1862 by sneaky pete
   1862 London by Treev
   Burn - Owen I (1874-75) & II (1876) by MissScarlett

Search Sacrifice Explorer for John Owen
Search Google for John Owen

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

[what is this?]

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 5; games 1-25 of 112  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Owen vs Horwitz 1-0341856LondonC44 King's Pawn Game
2. Owen vs T Barnes 1-0311856LondonC52 Evans Gambit
3. Owen vs S Boden 0-1271856Casual gameC41 Philidor Defense
4. S Boden vs Owen 0-1381856LondonA00 Uncommon Opening
5. Owen vs T Barnes 1-0221857LondonC52 Evans Gambit
6. Owen vs S Boden 0-1411857Casual gameC41 Philidor Defense
7. Owen vs T Barnes 1-0271857Casual gameC27 Vienna Game
8. Owen vs G W Medley 1-0371857Manchester Congress Minor tC41 Philidor Defense
9. Owen vs Francis  1-04218574th Chess Association Minor TournamentC60 Ruy Lopez
10. Owen vs S Boden 0-1351858Casual gameC00 French Defense
11. S Boden vs Owen 1-0391858MatchB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
12. Owen vs S Boden 0-1331858MatchA00 Uncommon Opening
13. S Boden vs Owen  1-0251858Casual gameB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
14. Owen vs T Barnes  1-0311858Casual gameB21 Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4
15. S Boden vs Owen 1-0301858MatchB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
16. S Boden vs Owen 1-0551858MatchA07 King's Indian Attack
17. Owen vs S Boden  0-1451858MatchC64 Ruy Lopez, Classical
18. Morphy vs Owen 1-0351858Casual gameB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
19. Owen vs Morphy 0-1471858Casual gameD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
20. Morphy vs Owen 0-1461858Casual gameB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
21. Owen vs Morphy ½-½301858Pawn and Move Odds match000 Chess variants
22. Owen vs Morphy 0-1371858Pawn and Move Odds match000 Chess variants
23. Owen vs Morphy 0-1471858Pawn and Move Odds match000 Chess variants
24. Owen vs Morphy ½-½451858Pawn and Move Odds match000 Chess variants
25. Owen vs Morphy 0-1211858Pawn and Move Odds match000 Chess variants
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 112  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>
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.


Jan-15-16  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.>

Jan-15-16  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.

Apr-08-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, John Owen.
May-26-16  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?


Jul-26-19  Chesgambit: Morphy vs Owen
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: < 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.>

<<FSR> what's the source for your comments on Owen's behavior towards Morphy?>

They reflect a letter Edge wrote to Fiske in August 1858, as quoted in Lawson's biography.

<This reverend gent ... is more inimical to Morphy than any man in London. God knows how he became Morphy's second; Morphy did not choose him. [...] Morphy has become so disgusted by his ungentlemanly conduct, and thickheaded observations on the games, that he has challenged him to a match, giving him the odds of Pawn & Move...>

The common image of Owen is of an old man with a shock of white hair, but he was only 31 at the time. Who knows, perhaps that Morphy was a Catholic played a role.

Jun-13-20  jith1207: <This led to a match between the two. Despite being given odds of pawn and the move (meaning he started the game with an extra pawn and always moved first), Owen lost the match 6–1, never winning a game>
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