(1889 - 1969)

no photo available

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:

[Event "Championship play-off"] [Site "Durban"] [Date "1929.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Pierce, Leonard"] [Black "Archer, Jack C jnr"] [Result "1-0"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] 1.Nf3 Nf6 2.d4 e6 3.c4 b6 4.g3 Bb7 5.Bg2 Be7 6.0-0 0-0 7.Nc3 d6 $6 {Black must play 7...Ne4 or 7...d5 to control the centre; the plan of ...e5 chosen by Archer leads to a cramped game for Black} 8.Re1 Nbd7 9.e4 e5 10.b3 Ne8 11.Bb2 Bf6 12.Nd5 Bxd5 13.exd5 exd4 14.Nxd4 {Threatening 15.Nc6 Qc8 16.Bxf6 and 17.Ne7+} 14...Bxd4 15.Qxd4 {White now uses his Bishop pair to control the board, and his pawns to take away safe squares from the Knights} 15...Nef6 16.Be4 Re8 17.Bc2 Ne5 18.Kg2 Qd7 19.f4 Ng6 20.h3 Rxe1 21.Rxe1 Re8 22.Rxe8+ Qxe8 23.Kf2 Qe7 24.Bf5 Ne8 25.Bc3 a5 26.h4 Nf8 27.Kf3 Nd7 28.g4 Nf8 29.Qf2 Ng6 30.g5 Nf8 31.h5 f6 32.g6 h6 33.Qe3 {The finishing touch to a model positional game} 33...Qxe3+ 34.Kxe3 c5 35.dxc6 Nc7 36.Bd4 1-0

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