SAMUEL COURTNEY CHARD
(1862 - 1937)


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Samuel Chard was born in London in the middle of 1862. He emigrated to Durban in 1885, where he joined the Berea Chess Club and won some tournaments there. Some years later, Chard was present at the meeting held on 18th August 1893 in the "Barrow Green Cafe" in West Street, where it was decided to form the Durban Chess Club. The Berea Chess Club then presented all their equipment to the newly formed club.

The first tournament attracted 47 entries, including Chard, who was knocked out by Harry Escombe QC, the eventual winner. By 1895 the Durban Chess Club had nearly 100 members, and Chard has the honour of being the first club champion.

The 1881 census shows that his widowed mother was the Lady Principal of a college in the Hammersmith district, and one of his sisters was a teacher, so it is perhaps not surprising that Chard became involved in education. He was a master at the Berea Academy, before moving to the Musgrave School. Then in 1910 he became the owner and Headmaster of the Hill Crest School (in what is now the town of Hillcrest) which employed several full-time teachers. However, the school closed when Chard retired in 1922.

There is quite an amusing anecdote about Chard in the book "Sonatas In Chess" by Donald McIntyre. Problem 114, composed by Lucas Bull in August 1925, was set for the delectation of his friend Chard, who "liked problems full of timber". McIntyre went on to say that Chard was once described as Natal's slowest player, to his great indignation!

From my research analogue chess clocks were not introduced until 1883. Before that they used hour glasses, which were stopped by turning them on their side. Flags to indicate a loss on time were only invented in 1899. The Durban Chess Club's first chess clocks arrived from England in March 1899, just in time for the 1899 South African championships, which were held in Durban. They were a great novelty at the time!

It seems that Chard was largely inactive over the board, preferring to play chess by correspondence, although he did play in the South African championships on 3 occasions, namely Durban 1899 (12th), Johannesburg 1903 (7th) and Durban 1924 (8th).

Games

Chard vs Moxham & Murray, circa 1919, to be added later. From Len Reitstein's book "A History of Chess in South Africa".


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