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James Cunningham Fraser
Number of games in database: 22
Years covered: 1863 to 1874
Overall record: +9 -10 =3 (47.7%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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C51 Evans Gambit (3 games)
C01 French, Exchange (3 games)

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(born Apr-24-1825, died Aug-06-1876, 51 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]

James Cunningham Fraser; born 24 April 1825, Edinburgh, SCO—died, 6 August 1876, Edinburgh, SCO.

Dr. Fraser gained his degree in medicine from the University of Edinburgh in 1855.(1) Research indicates that he changed the spelling of his name to "Frazer" between 1865 and 1870 and then reverted back to the "Fraser" spelling prior to 1874.(3)(4)(5)

The obituary given in the 9 September 1876 column of the Glasgow Weekly Herald:

"Dr James C. Frazer.

Such an event to our Scottish world of chess as the death of the late Dr Frazer requires fuller mention than the paragraph which appeared announcing his death after a protracted illness, borne with Christian fortitude and resignation. It is not of the amiable physician, well known and esteemed in his profession; of his gentleness and tenderness to his patients; of the affection of his patients, and what is no slight commendation, of the love more especially entertained for him by the poorest of these, that we have here to speak. We must confine ourselves to his connection with chess. Some twenty years ago he entered the Edinburgh Chess Club. At that time the leading players were Mr Christopher Meikle, manager of the savings' bank; Dr Omond, the well known Edinburgh physician; Mr Fulton, and the lately deceased Col. Roberton. At first we believe he was certainly not more than a rook player, but in little more than a year he was able to contest the game on even terms with the best of them; and either in the second or third year of his membership (at this distance of time we have not beside us the means of verifying) he wrested from Mr Meikle the gold medal, the badge of championship. This medal was thereafter for 13 or 14 years consecutively carried off my him, and its available surface became so filled up with his own name that the club paid him the well-deserved compliment of desiring him to retain it as his own. During all these years he was facile princeps of the Edinburgh Club. In little more than two years the sad illness game upon him which terminated his active connection with the club and the game he loved so well. Not only was Chess his favourite game, but it seemed with him to have become almost a passion. He used to declare that he considered it one of the most intellectual and improving pursuits to which the human mind could devote itself, and all his available leisure time was employed in what he regarded a noble science. Whether or not he devoted time to chess which might have been bestowed on scientific medical study, with the result of arriving at greater eminence in his profession we know not; but at all events he never gave a moment to chess which was required in the active practice of his profession. It may be that this reflection came to him, for in the latter part of his illuess [sic] he conceived for the game a positive aversion.

Dr Frazer's powers as a player were prominently brought into notice at the meeting of the British Chess Association held at Dundee in 1867. He played in the international match where Steinitz, Neumann, Blackburne, and De Vere engaged, and showed himself a stiff opponent even to those world-renowned players. There was also at that meeting a match for the Scottish championship, open only to Scottish players. At this distance of time we are unable to give the names of all the combatants, but among there were Mr G. B. Fraser, of Dundee, Colonel Roberson, and Sheriff Spens. Dr Frazer was the winner of this contest. It is only fair to say that on Mr G. B. Fraser had devolved the whole arrangements for the Chess Congress, and the anxiety and trouble connected therewith unquestionably materially affected his play, for he played very much below his usual form. We have no hesitation in saying that at the time the two strongest players in Scotland were the two Frasers. Since that time there has been no proper opportunity of testing the relative merits of our best Scottish players. Dr Frazer, indeed, had two off-hand matches with Sheriff Spens, the first of which he lost and the second of which he won; but the games were certainly unequal to Dr Frazer's reputation, and it is probably the case that at the date of play the shadow of his coming illness had fallen upon him.

Dr Frazer was, we think, equally good as an attacking and a defensive player. His manner as a player was all it ought to be. He never hovered with his hand on the board, but after deliberating on his move, lifted the piece intended to be moved and placed it firmly and at once on the intended square. He often made brilliant combinations in attack, while his power of keen analysis served him in good stead in defeating the best laid plots of his adversaries. He occasionally made a chess problem, and some of these show that had he made a study of them he might have attained eminence as a problem composer.

His protracted illness had prepared his numerous friends for his removal among them. But long and deeply will his loss be regretted by the little chess world where he was esteemed as a man and honoured as second to no other Scottish player."(2)

(2) Hazeltine Scrapbook of the Glasgow Weekly Herald, v91, pdf, pp159-160
(3) UK Medical Directory 1865
(4) UK Medical Directory 1870
(5) UK Medical Directory 1873

Last updated: 2022-04-15 23:29:56

 page 1 of 1; 20 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. J C Fraser vs J Robertson 0-1351863Edinburgh Chess ClubC23 Bishop's Opening
2. J C Fraser vs John Paterson  1-0501866Edinburgh - Glasgow MatchC01 French, Exchange
3. Blackburne vs J C Fraser 0-1851867Dundee CongressC30 King's Gambit Declined
4. De Vere vs J C Fraser  1-0261867Dundee CongressC25 Vienna
5. J C Fraser vs G Neumann 0-1431867Dundee CongressC52 Evans Gambit
6. G MacDonnell vs J C Fraser 1-0351867Dundee CongressC41 Philidor Defense
7. J C Fraser vs J Robertson 0-1311867Dundee CongressB40 Sicilian
8. J C Fraser vs Steinitz 0-1281867Dundee CongressA84 Dutch
9. J C Fraser vs G B Fraser  ½-½271868Club gameC51 Evans Gambit
10. G B Fraser vs J C Fraser  0-1271868Casual gameC33 King's Gambit Accepted
11. NN vs J C Fraser  0-1371868Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
12. J C Fraser vs NN  1-0411873Edinburgh Chess Club ChampionshipB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
13. J C Fraser vs W C Spens  0-1361873Fraser - Spens MatchC01 French, Exchange
14. J C Fraser vs C Duke  0-1391874Edinburgh Chess Club ChampionshipC78 Ruy Lopez
15. J C Fraser vs W C Spens  0-1221874Fraser - Spens MatchC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
16. W C Spens vs J C Fraser  0-1571874Fraser - Spens MatchC51 Evans Gambit
17. J C Fraser vs C Duke  1-0301874Edinburgh Chess Club ChampionshipC42 Petrov Defense
18. C Duke vs J C Fraser  0-1221874Edinburgh Chess Club ChampionshipC01 French, Exchange
19. G B Fraser vs J C Fraser  0-1261874Casual gameC45 Scotch Game
20. G B Fraser vs J C Fraser  1-0211874Casual gameC28 Vienna Game
 page 1 of 1; 20 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Fraser wins | Fraser loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-19-22  Z free or die: Thanks <jn> for all that research on actual games in the literature.

If I were to include such games in Z-base, which uses Fraser, I would certainly include a <Note> mentioning the form used in the actual source.

FWIW - I am not against using parenthesized format, though I understand the general reluctance. We do already do this (on <CG>) for a couple of female players - but there's one case of a female GM(?) who was married at least three times to various chess players - which would require a rather bulky name.

PS - It's hard to read, but ILN (1872-12-28) p639 has both <Dr. Fraser> and <Dr. Frazer> in the same paragraph describing recent events at the Edinburgh CC.

Apr-19-22  Z free or die: There's really no question, at least in my mind, that his peak presence as a chess player was during <Dundee (1867)>. During this period he certainly was known as <Dr. Fraser>.

Harding uses that form, as does <ChessBase>. (I wonder about Renette - did the good doctor ever play him?)

The bio is a bit confusing, suggesting he changed his name back to Fraser, but then includes an obit with Frazer.

FWIW - his death notice in <The Westminster Chess Club Papers> uses Fraser.

In point of actuality, we're inferring his intention to change his name to Frazer, originally from the name of a medal. We don't really concretely know what his intentions were, short of finding a letter by him, or legal papers effecting the change, or perhaps some second-hand account of his desire (which again, we don't really have).


Apr-19-22  Sally Simpson: I have just submitted a game between Dr Frazer and George Fraser. Here is a how the newspaper reported it. (no year given I've guessed at 1868)

It is from the Glasgow 'Herald' 16/Nov/1872 (details were pencilled in at the side of the game. Other clipping from the book when shown are from the Glasgow Herald ) but as you can see no date for when the game was actually played.

Picture of details I took the date and publication from.

We can now add in to the Frazer claims he submitted problems under Frazer.

That pic is a mate in 4 submitted by our lad named as Dr.Frazer. (no date, not even sure what publication it is) but it has problem No. IV so if I do some back tracking I may find it.

click for larger view

White to play and mate 4

Next clipping is our lad being called Frazer and also Frazer in the notes.

Fraxer v Unknown

No date of game , no opponents name, no publication details and so no date of publication. Not sure if you want it but here it is.

[Event "?"]
[Site "Edinburgh (SCO)"]
[Date "????.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "James Cunningham Frazer"]
[Black "N.N."]
[Result "1-0"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nd4 4. Bc4 Nxf3+ 5. Qxf3 Qf6 6. Qc3 Ne7 7. O-O Nc6 8. d3 g5 9. Be3 d6 10. f4 g4 11. fxe5 Qxe5 12. Bxf7+ Ke7 13. d4 Qg7 14. Bb3 Kd8 15. Nd2 h5 16. Rf7 Qg6 17. Raf1 Bg7 18. e5 dxe5 19. d5 Ne7 20. Bc5 Nf5 21. d6 cxd6 22. Qa5+ b6 23. Bxb6+ axb6 24. Qxb6+ Ke8 25. Qc6+ *

Apr-19-22  Sally Simpson: Hi Z,

<FWIW - his death notice in <The Westminster Chess Club Papers> uses Fraser.>

Whilst going through the scrapbook I took the above items from some chap called E.H. fired into the Westminster Papers on a matter regarding chess.

E.H. referred to them as the 'Wastebasket Papers.'

Apr-19-22  Sally Simpson: ( and I've spelt Frazer 'Fraxer' maybe use that from now one.)
Apr-21-22  Z free or die: <<Sally> E.H. referred to them as the 'Wastebasket Papers.'>

OK, that's good for a rye smile, maybe even a slight chuckle.

Apr-21-22  Z free or die: FWIW - all of the games <CG> has in the db, currently (pre-1868), were published under <Dr. Fraser>.

Did he marry? Did he have descendants?

If he did, what were their surnames, I wonder?


Apr-21-22  Alan McGowan: Fraser did marry, but I have been unable to find any details in the Scottish or English records (still working on it). Fraser (medical Student), wife Emily and son James are in the 1851 Scotland census. Same spelling on 1861 and 1871 census records.

They had two sons: James, born 1850, survived, and Alfred Horace, born 1852, died 1854.

James was the informant for the deaths of both his father and mother (1887). His signature is on both documents as J.C.D. Fraser (James Chalmers Dean). He was a minister at Banchory, Aberdeenshire.

Apr-21-22  Alan McGowan: Correction to type: Alfred Horace Fraser born June 1854, died October 1854
Apr-21-22  Sally Simpson: I see the name has gone back to Fraser. (A search for Frazer still brings up one other Frazer.)

It appears the Frazer - Fraser game I submitted may have got itself lost during the matter with the certificate.

As I said earlier no date is given for the game from the source, GWH 16/Nov/1872. I've gone for 1868 suggesting than an '?' be added.

[Event "Club Game"]
[Site "Edinburgh (SCO)"]
[Date "1868.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "James Cunningham Frazer"]
[Black "George Brunton Fraser"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[Source "Glasgow Weekly Herald, November 16, 1872")

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4 Bxb4 5. c3 Bc5 6. O-O d6 7. d4 exd4 8. cxd4 Bb6 9. Re1 Na5 10. Bxf7+ Kxf7 11. Ng5+ Kf8 12. e5 Nc6 13. Re4 dxe5 14. d5 Nf6 15. Ba3+ Kg8 16. d6 cxd6 17. Bxd6 Bxf2+ 18. Kh1 Qb6 19. Nc3 Nd4 20. Bxe5 Nxe4 21. Ncxe4 Be3 22. Rb1 Bg4 23. Rxb6 Bxd1 24. Rxb7 Bxg5 25. Rxg7+ Kf8 26. Nxg5 Re8 27. Rf7+ 1/2-1/2

Premium Chessgames Member


You wrote: <It appears the Frazer - Fraser game I submitted may have got itself lost during the matter with the certificate.>

I really doubt that is possible eh. I don't think it was the kind of security problem that might cause data loss- more of a forgetting to update a security certificate.


I believe your <Frazer v Fraser> pgn is sitting in the processing lineup under your name on the editor's page. It shows you have submitted a 699b file, but the page will not give me access to the pgn because <MissScarlett> has your name "signed out" at the moment. I doubt this was done on purpose- there is a longstanding and really irritating bug in which the editor page refuses to recognize that an editor has signed out of a submitting member's account.

<MissScarlett> if you remember I posted a "hard refresh" fix a while ago on how to prevent this from happening. It happened again to me recently, a few days ago in fact. Usually it works, for me at least.

1. Sign out of

2. Clear browser cache

3. Reboot computer

4. Go to editor page

5. Sign yourself in manually- your own name will be the default sign in, but sign yourself in manually anyways. I do this by signing myself out, and then signing myself back in- manually.

6. Close the editing page.

7. Open the editing page and repeat step 5 above.

8. Now you should not have any fellow member's account "frozen" because of a bogus "signed out" message.

So if you do these steps I believe <Geoff's> Frazer v Fraser pgn will become visible to all editors again, instead of just you.

Apr-22-22  Sally Simpson: "...because <MissScarlett> has your name signed out" at the moment."


Obviously an attempt to withhold hardcore genuine evidence that Frazer is the name.

The academics have a name for such people who keep things from others because it does not fit in with their own view of the world. Evasive Hiding.

Me (and Dr Frazer) are the victims of evasive hiding. I will let it go this time but next time I'll seek financial compensation and counselling.

No wonder every time I try to post a game I feel like I am facing a Spanish Inquisition. People are signing my name out (what ever that means). I demand to be signed back in!

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Is this what you're looking for?

J C Fraser vs G B Fraser, 1868

Apr-22-22  Sally Simpson: Thank You.

And you too Jessie for rapping the knuckles of Miss Red.

I doubt if I will ever recover from having my name 'signed out' and left shivering and forgotten in the cold like a Dickens orphan.

I was going to raise a correction slip suggesting Dr Fraser be changed to Dr Frazer but having discovered this site is prone to and no doubt rife with elusive hiding (the new buzz word.) I too will play the elusive hiding game and withhold any new information I have on this or any other matter.

Premium Chessgames Member
  jnpope: <Sally Simpson: Thank You.

And you too Jessie for rapping the knuckles of Miss Red.

I doubt if I will ever recover from having my name 'signed out' and left shivering and forgotten in the cold like a Dickens orphan.>

Happens to all of us eventually. Bug in the <CG> editorial system.

<I was going to raise a correction slip suggesting Dr Fraser be changed to Dr Frazer but having discovered this site is prone to and no doubt rife with elusive hiding (the new buzz word.) I too will play the elusive hiding game and withhold any new information I have on this or any other matter.>

Actually, the only way his name will get changed is if you continue to post your research (even if only on redhotpawn; I would point it out to others!).

I think any piece of documentation signed by the man as "Frazer" would be enough hard evidence to show that he had seriously adopted that spelling and I would do everything in my power to promote the Frazer name.

Premium Chessgames Member

<Geoff> I highly doubt <MissScarlett> was trying to "hide your work." Doesn't sound like him to me, and also it would be an ineffective method. Who would he be hiding it from? There might be three admins left who regularly check the pgn submissions. More don't seem to be needed in terms of processing the flow, since <TabaHenge> cleared the backlog.

As mentioned in my post (and many previous posts on the exact same problem), this is an episodic and highly annoying bug that remains unfixed- after well over a year now.

Submitting member accounts become locked, signed out to the last person who looked at their submission.

I got one recently from <Stonehenge>- so I just did the steps listed above in this post: James Cunningham Fraser (kibitz #48)

Apr-22-22  Z free or die: <Alan McGowan> Speaking of telling... your research on the family is appreciated, and revealing.

James Cunningham Fraser (kibitz #45)

Thanks (and please be so kind as to keep us informed of further research!)

Apr-22-22  Sally Simpson: Hi jnpope,

I cannot lean too much on RHP site for letting me post pictures in old blogs but if i find something I'll post it for a few days and let you know. (see below)

Struggling a wee bit with these scrap books. Who ever did it has occasionally mixed up the dates. (if indeed they include a clipping with the date on.)

I sometimes find a date, say March 1898 and a few pages later a header dated April 1898. But all good reading.

The battle of words that took place on the pages of the Herald between the East and West of Scotland over their 1896 match nearly lead to a civil war. The match was later declared drawn (or void).

A smashing read, these Victorians knew how to hurl insults including one Scottish saying I have not heard for years; 'You had better learn how hold your tongue.' Blistering stuff for a chess column.

Eventually it all died down...a few weeks later some bod asks when will there be another East v West match!

I was also reading about Lasker's visit to Edinburgh on the 9th Jan 1899. He faced 27 players (W 24. D2, L1) and spent approx 15 seconds on each a board before moving on. (need to dig out the minutes and find out how much he charged.)

I'm finding more Dr. Frazer games, here I usually get the exact date of the publication but the Herald has no dates of when the games were played or even give the opponents name.

I cannot see that getting passed the site censors and of course every time I find a game named Dr Frazer it's more clout for a name change. (the 'elusive hiding' syndrome will then kick in.)

Alan Mac has found out that the house we know our Dr. Frazer was an occupant in was put up for sale in December 1875. He is listed as Dr. Frazer. (all I need to do now is find the rent book.) (I'll leave that up for a few days then remove it.)

Today following an Alan Mac lead I was at the Royal Edinburgh trying find out where Dr. Frazer was buried. Back in Dr. Frazer's day it was called a lunatic asylum.

Sounds like rather a tragic end hinted at in his bio with: "...for in the latter part of his illness he conceived for the game a positive aversion." (sounds like something that affected Morphy, but that of course is pure speculation.)

They pointed me to the Edinburgh University.
Good. I'll be there next week, dressed up in my yellow corduroy jacket, with leather sleeve patches, carrying my battered brown brief case looking every part a college professor.

I know the department very well, they helped out tremendously when I was researching Richard Jordan the Edinburgh born Draughts Champion of the World. That reminds me, I must get a blue metal plaque made (they only cost about £25) and nail it to the wall where he lived.

That lad lived a full life, he travelled the world, came home, got hit by a tram and was buried 25 feet from where he was born.

Premium Chessgames Member

<Geoff> there are no "site censors" as such. Editors who process pgn submissions still follow the protocol <Daniel> laid down from the beginning.

The year needs to be filled out, but if you don't know the exact year, but have reason for a good guess, that pgn could potentially be published.

The only other fields that absolutely need to be filled out are the player tags.

So- now, as from the beginning under <Daniel>, a pgn requires 3 and only 3 of the fields in order to process/publish:

1. Year

2. Name of white

3. Name of black

If these 3 fields are not filled in, the game will not process- by the code <Daniel> created and which is still used.

If you have information to fill in other fields, that's great EXCEPT for the ECO field. There is a 100,000 year old bug at that sometimes deletes your publication if you filled in the ECO field. As <Daniel> and later <Annie K> stressed, "don't fill in the ECO field- there is an automated program for that."

Apr-22-22  Z free or die: <FSR - <Alan McGowan: Correction to type: Alfred Horace Fraser born June 1854, died October 1854>

Tragic that we lost this prodigy at the age of four months.>

Fred, he's talking about the player's son, who died tragically young.

Apr-23-22  Sally Simpson: Hi Jessie,

I'm just on the wind up. (censors and elusive hiding and alike. ) I know it sometimes takes week before a sub'd game gets processed.

Apr-23-22  Z free or die: <<Sally> I'm just on the wind up. (censors and elusive hiding and alike. ) >

This is at least the second time you've dropped the censor bit - to what, exactly, are you alluding?

Or are you eluding?

Premium Chessgames Member

<z> censor charge.

<Geoff> suspects <Miss Scarlett> deliberately sits on some of his submissions by not signing out from the Sally Simpson account on the editing page, so that nobody else can process his submissions either.

As per my lengthy reply above, I doubt <MissScarlett> is censoring anybody:

James Cunningham Fraser (kibitz #48)

Apr-23-22  Z free or die: Thanks <JFQ>.
May-02-22  Sally Simpson: Frazer update.

Just sent Alan Mac copies of the Edinburgh Club Minutes.

19th April 1873 Minutes advise that Dr Frazer is not well and medal discussed.

Next entry. 9th June 1873 Minutes advise Dr Frazer is happy to attend a meeting to receive the medal.

A few days later 11 June 1873 Dr Frazer accepts medal at special meeting.

He is called Dr. Frazer throughout.

As mention before it is Frazer on the medal and also sent to Alan a picture of a rather ornate label that sat beside the medal stating it is the Frazer Medal.

Could not find any mention mention of the cost in the Treasurers report for 1873. Possibly a private whip round but there are a huge pile of receipts from that era to go through.

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