(1866 - 1936)

photo about 1910

Reginald Borders was born in the Kensington district of London in December 1866, the oldest son of William Borders, who was a cigar and tobacco merchant. His father had business interests in South Africa and in Mozambique, so Reginald was "shipped off" to South Africa as a young man, and his younger brother Frederick later joined him. Borders arrived in Durban aboard the steamship "Dunbar Castle" in the middle of 1890. The steamships carried mail and passengers on a regular basis from Southampton to Cape Town, along the coast to Durban, and then back again. Borders died in Pietermaritzburg on 5th March 1936.

Borders' entry in "Who's Who in Natal" says that he lived in Overport and was a partner in Wm.Savory & Co., who were clearing, forwarding and shipping agents. His recreations were listed as music, chess and bowls.

Borders paid no serious attention to chess until 1893, when he became a founder member of the Durban Chess Club. Newspaper reports show that in 1899 he was Secretary of the club, with Harry Escombe (who died that year) the President. Borders was a strong player, although Len Reitstein remarked that "he was better with his pen than the pieces".

Borders was good enough to be invited to play in the 3rd South African championships, held in Durban in 1899. Unfortunately he had to withdraw from the event, and only made his debut in the 4th SA championships held in Johannesburg in 1903. He also competed in the 6th SA championships held in Cape Town in 1910 and 7th in Johannesburg in 1912 (see game below).

The early years of the Durban championships were dominated by Lucas Bull, another Londoner, and Borders was not able to win the event until 1909. He won his second title in 1912 (ahead of Dr Mc Cord and Mr Marriott who tied for 2nd place) and his third title in 1913.

Borders was well known throughout the world for his chess column in the "Natal Mercury", published between 1903 and 1930. He was also a notable problem composer, and organised several problem competitions via his newspaper column. Len Reitstein's book "A History of Chess in Southern Africa" speaks highly of his writing, and Borders' column was regularly cited by him as source material for his book. Here is an example of one of his problems, thought to have been composed around 1920:

White to play and win

Once you see the idea, it is all forced and quite amusing. Here is the solution.


I found the first game in an Australian newspaper! It was played in Johannesburg in 1912, where Borders scored 4½ from 9 games, his best result in an SA championships. Borders was dead lost after his blunder on move 15, but Siegheim let him off the hook in a fascinating ending of R+N+3P vs R+4P. The second is a casual game from the pages of the "Natal Mercury" in 1916:

[Event "RSA-ch07"] [Site "Johannesburg"] [Date "1912.10.07"] [Round "9"] [White "Siegheim, Bruno E"] [Black "Borders, Reginald W"] [Annotator "Borders"] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] {Source: The Queenslander, Brisbane, 28 Apr 1917. "Played in the last South African championship tourney".} 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 Be7 6. Nf3 0-0 7. cxd5 exd5 8. Bd3 c5 (8... c6 {/\ ...Re8, Nf8 was safer} ) 9. dxc5 Nxc5 10. Rc1 Nxd3+ 11. Qxd3 Be6 12. 0-0 Rc8 (12... a6 $1 {/\ ...Qd7, Rfd8} )13. Rc2 Qd7 {threat ...Bf5} 14. Nd4 Rfd8 15. Rfc1 Ne8 $4 {losing material} (15... a6 )16. Bxe7 Qxe7 17. Nxd5 Bxd5 18. Rxc8 Qg5 19. Qf1 $2 (19. e4 $18 )Nd6 20. R8c5 (20. Rxd8+ $1 Qxd8 21. Qd3 $18 )Ne4 21. f4 Qg4 22. Rxd5 $2 {seems to win a piece} (22. h3 $18 )Rxd5 23. Qf3 f5 $1 {overlooked by Siegheim} 24. Rc8+ Kf7 25. Qxg4 fxg4 26. Rc7+ Kf6 27. Kf1 Nd6 28. Ke2 Rh5 29. Kd3 Rxh2 30. e4 Nxe4 $1 {undoubtedly best, because Black secures at least a draw (Borders)} 31. Kxe4 Rxg2 32. Rxb7 h5 {Diagram [#]} 33. Nf5 {(White can improve here - Rust)} (33. Rxa7 $142 $1 Rxb2 34. Ra6+ Kf7 35. Kf5 {and bK is in trouble (Rust) eg.} g3 36. Ra7+ Kg8 37. Ne6 $1 (37. Kg6 Rb6+ 38. Kxh5 g2 39. Nf3 Rb1 40. Kg6 g1=Q+ 41. Nxg1 Rxg1+ 42. Kf5 $16 )g2 38. Rxg7+ Kh8 39. Kf6 $5 {setting up a mating net} ({simpler is} 39. Rg6 Rxa2 40. Ng5 $1 h4 41. Nh3 Ra3 42. Ng1 Ra2 43. Rh6+ $18 )h4 40. Nd8 $1 Rb6+ 41. Kf7 h3 (41... Rd6 42. Rg8+ Kh7 43. Rxg2 Rxd8 44. Rh2 Rd7+ 45. Ke6 Rd4 46. Rxh4+ $18 )42. Rg3 $1 Rh6 43. Kf8 $1 $18 {forces mate (Hiarcs)} )g6 34. Ne3 Rf2 (34... Re2 35. Kd3 Rf2 {was probably better} )35. Rb3 {the position was getting very ticklish, and this avoids a loss (Borders)} (35. Nd5+ $142 Ke6 36. Re7+ Kd6 37. Rg7 $18 {Hiarcs} ) Ke6 (35... g3 $4 36. Nd5+ $18 )36. Nd1 Rd2 37. Rd3 Rxd3 38. Kxd3 Kf5 39. Ke3 h4 40. b4 h3 $1 (40... g5 41. fxg5 Kxg5 $13 {Siegheim} )41. Nf2 $1 g5 42. fxg5 Kxg5 43. Nh1 $1 Kf5 44. Ng3+ Ke5 45. Nf1 Kd5 46. Kd3 {must keep opposition} Ke5 47. Ke3 Kd5 48. a4 Kc4 {Footnote: Siegheim beat Blieden in round 6 to take the lead, but this draw left them tied on 7/9 at the end. Apparently this game was played in the last round (Rust).} (48... Kc4 49. b5 Kb4 50. Kd4 Kxa4 51. Kc4 $11 )1/2-1/2 [Event "Casual game"] [Site "Durban"] [Date "1916.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Borders, Reginald W"] [Black "The Count"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] {source: Natal Mercury, 21 Oct 1916} 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 h6 4.Nc3 Bc5 5.Nd5 Nf6 6.d4 Nxd4 7.Nxe5 Nxe4 8.Qh5 Nd6 9.h4 {Offering a Rook to his greedy opponent, who should have tried 9...c6 making an escape square for his Queen} 9...Nxc2+ 10.Kd1 Nxa1 11.Bg5 g6 12.Nxg6 fxg6 13.Qxg6+ Nf7 14.Nxc7+ (14.Nxc7+ Qxc7 15.Qxf7#) 1-0

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