Leonard Pierce is buried at the Stellawood cemetery in Durban, his gravestone
quite clearly shows his date of birth as 1889 and death as 1969. However, so
far I have been unable to determine his place of birth. I believe he was born
in South Africa, mainly because there is no record of him in the indexed English
birth records and no matching records in the passenger lists between England
and South Africa. The 1897 Natal Almanac, which is available online, lists three
Pierce's in the Nottingham area, two were farmers and the other a road overseer.
There were also two Pierce's in the Matikulu area. So there is strong evidence
that the Pierce surname was established in Natal at the time of his birth.
Pierce was one of Natal's leading players of the 1920's, winning the Durban championship in 1919, 1921, 1923, 1925 and 1929. On the last occasion he tied for 1st place with the youthful Jack Archer, already a two-times winner of the event, and then went on to defeat Archer 2-0 in a playoff match! It is a great pity that the 1929 event was his last serious tournament.
Leonard Pierce took part in the South African championships on only one occasion, when he finished 5th in Cape Town in 1920. Possibly discouraged by his poor result, he did not play in the next (1924) event held in Durban.
An article in the 1953 SA Chessplayer shows that he still enjoyed chess in the 1950's, telling the story of his chess holiday in Portuguese East Africa (now Mozambique) and his successes in Lourenco Marques and Beira against the top Portuguese players.
The following game from the 1929 play-off match
(source: SA Chessplayer, May 1954) shows great positional skill;
it is a lesson in how to use the Bishop-pair and your pawns to hem in
a pair of Knights: