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Cecil De Vere
De Vere 
Number of games in database: 109
Years covered: 1861 to 1874

Overall record: +48 -35 =9 (57.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 17 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (21) 
    C67 C80 C77 C62 C60
 Evans Gambit (4) 
    C51 C52
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (10) 
    C01 C15 C00
 Sicilian (6) 
    B46 B20 B44 B43 B21
 Giuoco Piano (5) 
    C50 C53
 Ruy Lopez (5) 
    C60 C61 C65 C84
 Uncommon Opening (5) 
    B00 A00
 Evans Gambit (4) 
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   De Vere vs J Minchin, 1871 1-0
   De Vere vs Paulsen, 1870 1-0
   Winawer vs De Vere, 1870 0-1
   De Vere vs Steinitz, 1867 1-0
   Burn vs De Vere, 1870 0-1
   E D'Andre vs De Vere, 1867 0-1
   W C Spens vs De Vere, 1867 0-1
   S Rosenthal vs De Vere, 1867 0-1
   S Hamel vs De Vere, 1867 0-1
   De Vere vs J Minchin, 1866 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Dundee Congress (1867)
   Paris (1867)
   Baden-Baden (1870)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Paris 1867 by suenteus po 147
   Odds games by WhiteRook48
   De Vere - Steinitz (1865-66) by MissScarlett
   Dundee Congress 1867 by Calli

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Cecil De Vere
Search Google for Cecil De Vere

(born Feb-14-1846, died Feb-09-1875, 28 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]

Valentine John Cecil De Vere Mathews, later known as Cecil de Vere, was born February 14 (Valentine’s Day), 1846. In 1857, at the age of 11, he was taught how to play chess by a strong London player, Francis Burden (1830-1882). In 1859, he joined the City of London Chess Club. In 1860, at the age of 14, he was a regular at Simpson’s Divan. In 1864, he played a number of games against George Alcock MacDonnell, winning the majority of them. In 1865-66, he won a match against Wilhelm Steinitz (+7 -3 =2), with Steinitz giving odds of pawn and move. In November, 1866, at the age of 20, he won the 1st British Chess Association Challenge Cup, held in London, becoming the first official British Chess Champion. He remained the youngest titleholder for over a century (until Nigel Short). In June 1867, he took 5th at Paris, won by Ignatz von Kolisch. In September 1867, he took 3rd-4th at the 3rd Congress of the British Chess Association at Dundee, Scotland, won by Gustav Richard Neumann. He worked at Lloyd's of London, but gave it up when he discovered he had tuberculosis. In 1868-69, he tied for 1st place at the 2nd British Chess Association Challenge Cup, held in London. He lost the playoff to Joseph Henry Blackburne. He took 6th-7th place at Baden-Baden (1870). In 1872, he took 3rd-5th at the 2nd British Chess Federation Congress in London. In 1872, he was the chess editor of The Field (newspaper), but lost it after 18 months through inattention to work (he had become an alcoholic). In 1874, he lost a match against Johannes Zukertort in London. He died of tuberculosis, a penniless alcoholic, at the age of 28 in Torquay.

1) His full name and birth certificate were finally discovered by Owen Hindle and published in British Chess Magazine's Notes & Queries column. See issues Dec. 2003, Feb. 2004, and Nov. 2005.

Note: Cecil de Vere played on the team of Blackburne / Steinitz / De Vere.

Wikipedia article: Cecil Valentine De Vere

Last updated: 2020-11-05 14:49:44

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 109  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Paulsen vs De Vere 1-0321861Blindfold simul, 10bC01 French, Exchange
2. De Vere vs Steinitz 0-1261864Casual gameC53 Giuoco Piano
3. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0391865odds match000 Chess variants
4. De Vere vs Steinitz 0-1341865odds match000 Chess variants
5. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0511865odds match000 Chess variants
6. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0681865odds match000 Chess variants
7. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0431865odds match000 Chess variants
8. De Vere vs Steinitz 0-1371865odds match000 Chess variants
9. G MacDonnell vs De Vere 0-1191866BCA-01.Challenge CupC53 Giuoco Piano
10. De Vere vs Bird 1-0431866LondonC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
11. J Minchin vs De Vere  0-15918661st BCA Challenge Cup C51 Evans Gambit
12. J Minchin vs De Vere 0-12118661st BCA Challenge Cup C30 King's Gambit Declined
13. De Vere vs Steinitz  ½-½501866B.C.A. Handicap tC65 Ruy Lopez, Berlin Defense
14. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0281866odds match000 Chess variants
15. De Vere vs Steinitz ½-½561866odds match000 Chess variants
16. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0231866odds match000 Chess variants
17. De Vere vs Steinitz 1-0261866odds match000 Chess variants
18. De Vere vs Steinitz 0-1341866odds match000 Chess variants
19. De Vere vs Steinitz ½-½241866odds match000 Chess variants
20. Steinitz vs De Vere 1-0241866B.C.A. Handicap tC01 French, Exchange
21. G MacDonnell vs De Vere  0-1311866BCA-01.Challenge CupC01 French, Exchange
22. De Vere vs G MacDonnell  1-0341866BCA-01.Challenge CupC41 Philidor Defense
23. De Vere vs J Minchin 1-03018661st BCA Challenge Cup C53 Giuoco Piano
24. De Vere vs Steinitz  ½-½501866B.C.A. Handicap tC67 Ruy Lopez
25. Steinitz vs De Vere 1-0391866B.C.A. Handicap tA00 Uncommon Opening
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 109  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | De Vere wins | De Vere loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-14-17  Nosnibor: In the introduction it states that De Vere lost a match to Zukertort in 1874 and two games are given both being wins by the latter. This was not a match but an Handicap tournament and De Vere lost by 2-1. The game not in the db was a brilliant win by De Vere.
Feb-14-17  Sularus: so dapper. RIP
Feb-14-17  Sularus: quite a scalp collection
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Anyone have access to the Hindle/Jones book, <The English Morphy?: The Life and Games of Cecil De Vere, First British Chess Champion>?

I'm interested in how strong the evidence is for the claim that, per Wikipedia, Cecil was likely <the illegitimate son of William Cecil De Vere, a naval officer and son of the second Baronet of Curragh>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Freeman's Journal, July 15th 1852, p.4:

<July 8, at Burnham, William Cecil de Vere, Esq. of the Royal Navy, fourth son of the late Sir Aubrey de Vere. Bart., of Curragh Chase, county Limerick, to Sophia, youngest daughter of J. Allen, Esq, of Burnham.>

Dublin Evening Mail, February 16th 1869, p.3:

<Captain William Cecil de Vere, R N, died at the Pleasaunce, Torquay, on Feb 2, aged 45.>

This would mean William was born c.1823, making him 22-23 when Cecil was born, and Cecil almost 23 when William died. And both passed away in Torquay.

Jan-18-18  john barleycorn: <MissScarlett: Freeman's Journal, ...>

Any relation to the Freeman here?

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: William Cecil De Vere:

1843 - Promoted to Mate (rank later equivalent to Sub-Lieutenant) on board HMS Stromboli:

1846 - Promoted from Mate to Lieutenant on board HMS Collingwood:

1849 - Appointed as Lieutenant on HMS Racer:

For our purposes, of interest is that in the spring of 1845 when he allegedly sired Cecil, he was apparently stationed with the Stromboli in/off Ireland, though he may still have had access to the British mainland. His tour with the Racer apparently ended in March 1852, so it can be no coincidence that he married Sophia in July 1852. Haven't yet found what he did then.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: < In 1865, he won a match against Wilhelm Steinitz (+7 -3 =2), with Steinitz giving odds of pawn and move.>

Newspaper reports indicate this match extended into 1866, but they're not sufficiently clear to tell which games should be redated.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Discovery of the birth certificate revealed not only his actual name and year of birth (1846, not 1845), but also that he was English, not Scottish. But where did the notion that he was born in Montrose originate? Was this another deliberate false trail?
Aug-25-18  zanzibar: And where did the name Brown come from?


Aug-25-18  zanzibar: Oh, and why couldn't Hindle find the birth certificate *before* he published his book on the man?


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <And where did the name Brown come from?>

See the section <Terminal Illness>:

Or if you're asking why he chose Brown, maybe it was simply a nod to Valentine Green.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The only connection between De Vere and Montrose I could find is a reminiscence by George Alcock MacDonnell in the <ISDN> of November 19th 1881, p.227:

<In 1867 we both visited Dundee, where we were most hospitably entertained by his Scotch relatives, and afterwards we spent a most delightful time at Montrose, and the burn which, fourteen miles northward, glides at the foot of one of the Grampian Hills.>

Montrose is some 25 miles north of Dundee. Perhaps it's where De Vere's mother came from, and so became associated with his birthplace.

The John Henderson piece from <TWIC> in 2001, linked to above has <some references to his birthplace being Melrose>. Melrose is about 80 miles to south of Montrose.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: David Hooper and myself searched the archives at New Register House in Edinburgh for three days looking for De Vere's D.O.B. David was searching the surname name of Brown possibly born on the 14th of Feb.

No success (obviously)

(Montrose/Melrose may have been a typo/auto-correct by John or the TWIC crew. The Grampian Hills mentioned are in the north of Scotland.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Montrose is some 25 miles north of Dundee. Perhaps it's where De Vere's mother came from, and so became associated with his birthplace.>

Well, I'm reminded that De Vere's mother apparently came from Wales:

The <Chess Players' Chronicle> obituary cited therein doesn't touch on his birthplace:

Aug-26-18  zanzibar: I have some issues with Hindle's claim. Not even Yorkshire applies the info with conviction:

<Cecil Valentine De Vere appears <possibly> to have been the illegitimate son of a Welsh-born servant girl called Catherine (or Katherine) Mathews. <Purely circumstantial evidence> suggests his father may have been William Cecil De Vere, a Royal Naval officer who was a son of the 2nd Baronet of Curragh, or else another member of the same family.

The birth of “Valentine John Cecil De Vere Mathews” was registered at St. James, Westminster, in the first quarter of 1846. The name contains all the elements of that of Cecil Valentine De Vere, but <jumbled up a bit, and with extra bits added in>. ...

Such quarterly returns, whilst freely accessible on line, <fail to give details such as exact date of birth and parents’ names>. For those recourse is needed to a birth certificate or baptismal record. It is to Owen Hindle that we owe thanks for digging out the underlying birth certificate and publicising its content in the British Chess Magazine’s Quotes & Queries section. A subsequent book, “The English Morphy” (unseen), by Owen Hindle & Bob Jones, <presumably covers> all that follows here. ...>

Look at all the waffling...

<possibly>, <purely circumstantial evidence>, <jumbled up a bit, and with extra bits added in>, <fail to give details such as exact date of birth and parents’ names>, <presumably>

I'm underwhelmed, plus I can't see the original scans directly, if at all.

That I think is the obligation of Hindle when making his claims. Did he reproduce the scans in the BCM articles? (I doubt it).

I like the Zanchess approach - just show it.


Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <In the first recorded mention of De Vere, The Era, 20 Dec. 1861, a report of a simultaneous display by Paulsen on 16 December, Lowenthal was impressed by the precocious skill of the '13-year-old' De Vere, implying that he was born in 1848.>

Cecil Valentine De Vere (kibitz #17)

A minor correction: <The Era> in question was dated December 22nd (p.4), not the 20th.

The list of Paulsen's opponents has: <V. de Vere, Esq., No. 5;>, suggesting he was still known as <Valentine>.

<We should not omit to mention that Mr de Vere who contended against Mr Paulsen on Board No. 5 is a youth of thirteen years of age. The young gentleman, though he lost the game, played remarkably well, and gave indications of promise for the future.>

Dec-01-19  spingo: De Vere was a Londoner, but he may have had connections to De Vere House in Lavenham in Suffolk.

That house was used as Harry’s house in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Fans of Harry Potter can buy the house for about £1,000,000. It is on the market now. It is Grade I listed and attracts hordes of non-paying tourists.

Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: <De Vere was a Londoner, but he may have had connections to De Vere House in Lavenham in Suffolk.>

Thought it was in "Wall de Morts" warehouse !?

Oct-30-21  Nosnibor: The following game is unusual inasmuch De Vere offered a draw in a won position although his allie Down pointed out that the game could be won after 33.Rb6 Rc1, 34.Rg1 etc. White: C. De Vere & H.F. Down Black: J .Lord & J.J. Watts Ruy Lopez 1.e4 e5,2.Nf3 Nc6,3.Bb5 f6, 4.0-0 Nge7, 5.d4 exd4, 6.Nxd4 a6, 7.Ba4 b5,8.Bb3 Na5,9.Nc3 g6,10.Nd5 Nec6, 11.f4 Bc5,12.c3 Nxb3,13.axb3 0-0,14.Kh1 Ne7,15.Nxb5 c6,16.b4 Bxb4, 17.Nxb4 cxb5, 18.Be3 d6,19.Qd4 Bb7,20.Rad1 Rc8,21.Qxd6 Qxd6,22.Rxd6 Bxe4, 23.Re6 a5, 24.Rxe4 axb4, 25.Rxe7 bxc3, 26.bxc3 Rxc3, 27.h3 b4,28.Rd1 Rf7,29.Re6 b3,30.Bd4 Rc4, 31.Bxf6 Rxf6,32.Rxf6 b2. Drawn.
Oct-30-21  Nosnibor: The De Vere & Down v. Lord & Watts game was played at the City of London Chess Club, September 1873.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Can’t do anything without a source. And why cannot you submit this yourself?
Oct-31-21  Nosnibor: The source of the game was "The Field". I have tried to submit without success.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: The traditional player of the day.
Feb-15-22  offramp: There's a race on today, 15th February 2022.

16:08 @ Newcastle MISSCARLETT 13/2.

Definitely has chances.

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