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Walter Cook Spens
W C Spens 
Spens, seated left.
Photo from Edinburgh Chess Club.
Number of games in database: 12
Years covered: 1867 to 1899
Overall record: +6 -6 =0 (50.0%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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C31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit (3 games)
C51 Evans Gambit (2 games)

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(born Feb-01-1842, died Jul-13-1900, 58 years old) United Kingdom

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Walter Cook Spens was born in Glasgow, Scotland. He was Scottish Champion in 1894, and passed away in Edinburgh in 1900.

Last updated: 2018-02-01 11:30:30

 page 1 of 1; 12 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. G Neumann vs W C Spens 1-0431867Dundee CongressC53 Giuoco Piano
2. W C Spens vs De Vere 0-1261867Dundee CongressC23 Bishop's Opening
3. Zukertort vs W C Spens  1-0291873SimulC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
4. J C Fraser vs W C Spens  0-1361873Fraser - Spens MatchC01 French, Exchange
5. J C Fraser vs W C Spens  0-1221874Fraser - Spens MatchC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
6. W C Spens vs J C Fraser  0-1571874Fraser - Spens MatchC51 Evans Gambit
7. Blackburne vs W C Spens 1-0261875Blindfold simul, 10bC36 King's Gambit Accepted, Abbazia Defense
8. W C Spens vs C Locock 1-0211887LondonC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
9. W C Spens vs O C Miller  1-0241890LondonC22 Center Game
10. D Forsyth vs W C Spens  0-1261894Scottish Chess ChampionshipB01 Scandinavian
11. W C Spens vs D Mills 0-1291899SCO-chA84 Dutch
12. W C Spens vs Lasker  1-0531899Casual gameC51 Evans Gambit
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Spens wins | Spens loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-20-09  Xeroxx: Walter cooks spinach.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: More biographical information can be found here:

Spens was also a prolific author:

Jul-15-12  Karpova: Sheriff Walter Cook Spens was also the editor of the 'Glasgow Weekly Herald' chess column.

'(Neue) Wiener Schachzeitung', 1900, page 171.

May-15-13  thomastonk: BCM 1899, p 69: "Chess in Scotland. - Mr. Lasker visited Glasgow on the 5th and 6th January, and immediatly after arrival had a single game with Sheriff Spens, which Lasker lost. It was no fluke, and the learned Sheriff played very well indeed."

If someone is interested, I will submit it.

May-15-13  thomastonk: A picture of Spens can be found here
Jun-09-13  Gottschalk: [Event "?"]
[Site "London"]
[Date "1887.??.??"]
[White "Cook,W "]
[Black "Locock,Charles "]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "C31"]
[Round "?"]

1. e4 e5 2. f4 d5 3. Nf3 dxe4 4. Nxe5 Be6 5. d4 Nf6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. Be2 Nd5 8. O-O Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3 10. Be3 Bxa1 11. f5 Bc8 12. Bb5+ c6 13. Nxf7 Kxf7 14. Qh5+ Kf8 15. f6 gxf6 16. Bc4 Qd7 17. Rxf6+ Ke7 18. Rf7+ Kd8 19. Qg5+ Kc7 20. Bf4+ Kb6 21. Qc5+ 1-0

[Event "?"]
[Site "Bristol"]
[Date "1906.??.??"]
[White "Cook "]
[Black "Mueller,A "]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "A03"]
[Round "?"]

1. f4 d5 2. Nf3 c5 3. e3 Nf6 4. b3 e6 5. Bb2 Be7 6. Bd3 O-O 7. Ng5 g6 8. h4 Nh5 9. Qxh5 Bxg5 10. Qxh7+ 1-0

Jun-10-13  thomastonk: <Gottschalk> I think both games were not played by Sherif Spens, as he was called. (Cook is probably the maiden name of his mother.)

The first game is already in this database W Cook vs Locock, 1840, and the second one was played after Spens' death, if the year is correct.

However, the year 1840 is most probably wrong, too, since there has been a William Cook (1850-1917), chess player and chess author, as well as Charles Dealtry Locock (1862-1946).

In any case it is of great help, if you add sources of games and quotes. Thank you.

Jun-16-13  Gottschalk: <thomastonk>
This time I can not agree.
The date that I submitted to Cook x Locock looks more credible and reliable than 1840; By the way, is the date that is in and Moreover, William Cook is an obscure figure, probably false. I firmly believe to be a game between Walter Cook Spens and Charles Dealtry Locock , especially because in 1840 there was no Falkbeer CG.

The second game also seems to be a game of Cook Spens, provided there is no evidence to the contrary. The year of publication should be 1906. I think that if there is not an agreement, the game should be on the basis of Walter Cook Spens, a mere precaution.

Finally, I note that many games are known by their year of publication. I like his speech, clear and polished. I hope our disagreement be friendly and useful for chess.


Jun-17-13  thomastonk: <Gottschalk: I hope our disagreement be friendly and useful for chess.> I am interested in facts, and I am a friendly and peaceful person. Everyone, who is interested in chess history is welcome to me.

Okay, as I wrote, I gave the link to show that the game is already in this database. Moreover, I also wrote that 1840 is probably wrong, and so we agree in this point. But this does not prove that 1887 is correct. Sources like Chesslab and 365chess contain too much mistakes to be reliable. Maybe we differ here, but my experience makes me think so.

<Moreover, William Cook is an obscure figure, probably false.> No, definitely not. He is the author of "Synopsis of the Chess Openings", which had four editions in London 1874, 1876, 1882 and 1888, and appeared with an American supplement also in Cincinatti 1884. This was a very well-known book in his time. Moreover, he wrote "The chess primer" (London 1880), and another successful book called "The chess player's compendium", which had five editions in Bristol and London between 1902 and 1910. His last book, I know, is "The evolution of chess openings" (Bristol 1910).

As a player he was for a long time champion of his area. I give only one quote from the "Birmingham Daily Post" of October 29, 1890: "Mr. William Cook, who for twenty years has by common consent held the position of the champion of the Midlands, and whose book on ''Chess Openings,'' remarkable alike for accuracy, completeness and clearness in exposition, is a classic, succumbed a few days ago to the superior prowess of Mr. H.W.Macaulay, ..."

His obituary can be found in the "British Chess Magazine" 1917, p 317-318. He is mentioned in the "Oxford Companian to Chess" as the author of a line in the Allgaier Gambit, and so on.

Now let me turn to Spens. He is always called Spens, Sherif Spens, W.C.Spens and so on, and never is the Spens missing, because this and only this is his family name. So, if you have a game, where the player is named only "Cook" or "Cook,W", then it is not Spens.

So, the grave point we disagree is the first player. If you would be able to present an original source, where one of the games is connected to Spens, I would be quite surprised. I will try to find sources which connect the games to a "Cook" later this day.

Jun-17-13  thomastonk: <Gottschalk> The Falkbeer Countergambit game is published in George Hatfeild Gossip 's book "Modern Chess Brilliances", London 1892, p 62 with the following comment: "Played at the British Chess Club between Mr. W. Cook, of Birmingham, and Mr. C.D. Locock."

If you are still not convinced and if you think it is possible that Gossip made a mistake, then the following quote from the preface of Gossip's "Theory of the Chess Openings", 2nd edition, London 1891, has to be considered: "I have availed myself of the latest analyses contained in Part I. of Mr Steinitz Modern Chess Instructor, Cook's valuable Synopsis, ...". Furthermore, the title pages of 1884 American and the 1888 English edition of the "Synopsis", and hence the book Gossip is referring to, have: "By William Cook, A Member of the Birmingham Chess Club" and "By William Cook, of the Birmingham Chess Club".

So, the White player is William Cook. The year is still open.

And btw, the Falbeer Countergambit is quite old: Greco vs NN, 1620.

Jun-17-13  thomastonk: <Gottschalk: The second game also seems to be a game of Cook Spens, provided there is no evidence to the contrary.>

The game comes with two hints that can help to identify the White player. The first, a family name "Cook", not quite seldom, and the second, the year 1906. Both do not point to Spens, of course, because his family name is not Cook and he died in 1900. So, there is not the slightest evidence that it could be played by him.

<The year of publication should be 1906.> I would call this an unproven conjecture.

<I think that if there is not an agreement, the game should be on the basis of Walter Cook Spens, a mere precaution.> Here I don't understand what you wrote, sorry. But if you suggest that the game should be assigned to Spens on the basis of your information, I would like to object emphatically.

Please, provide additional information that helps to identify one or both players, or submit it only with "Cook" as White.

Jul-13-15  zanzibar: A little bit more about Spens can be found on a history page at the Edinburgh Chess Club:

<Development of the Club

The 19th and early 20th Century


In the same year of 1865 Edinburgh and Glasgow played a match over 12 boards with 6 players travelling either way - a novel way of solving the problems of home advantage! Edinburgh won the match with a team that included a 23 year old advocate called Walter Spens. He was to be a great proponent of the game and is remembered in the Spens Cup which he donated to Scottish Chess. A year later a similar match was again won by Edinburgh 15-13 but 25 years later the balance had swung rather heavily as Glasgow won a 1891 match by 17-2 .>

Where this other picture of the man can be found:

(Spens is on the left. Who is on the right?)

Jul-13-15  offramp: So he was a Sheriff. The only other chess playing sheriff I can think of is Ljubomir Ljubojevic: Sheriff Ljubo.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: Sheriff El Assiouti
Jan-19-18  offramp: Hey, Walter! I've got some more pens for you to cook.
Feb-01-18  Alan McGowan: Further information about Sheriff Spens can be found in the Chess Scotland History Archive at Historian, Chess Scotland

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