Excerpt from Chapter 14 of Amos Burn – A Chess Biography by Richard Forster:

At the Liverpool Club (1897)

Burn began the year 1897 in Llandudno (Wales), where he participated in a local chess congress (see Chapter 15). Shortly afterwards the Liverpool Club was able to announce a simultaneous exhibition by the master – only the third such occasion on record. On 16 January Burn played with alternating colours against 19 fairly strong opponents, scoring 14 wins, one draw and four losses. [1]

A new form of tournament was enjoying increasing popularity among the club members: so-called "handicap skittles," i.e. knock-out events with a time-limit of 15 moves per quarter of an hour. One of four such tournaments took place on 6 February. Of the 16 participants Burn emerged victorious after beating J. Milton (knight class) in the final. At about the same time one of the club's two Vice-Presidents, Climenson Yelverton Charles Dawbarn (1859–c1943) introduced a technical novelty in the form of a simple chess clock which measured the time difference between the two players rather than total consumption.[2] A player would now lose the game if he fell too far behind on the clock – five, ten or 15 minutes, as agreed beforehand. On Thursday, 11 February, Dawbarn engaged Burn for a

most satisfactory trial of his idea, though with disastrous effects to himself. Mr. Burn soon demonstrated that instantaneous play was exactly his form, and in 82 minutes won 12 games of 14 [Liverpool Weekly Mercury, 13 February 1897].

During March and April the sixth "championship table tournament" was held, for the first time with Burn's participation. With ten straight wins, the last of which was against his old opponent Owen, Burn easily succeeded in securing first prize and having his name engraved on the table.

Liverpool 1896-97: 6th Championship Tournament

Date March–April 1897.
Site City Hall, Eberle Street, Liverpool.
Time-limit 20 moves per hour.
Entrance fee 2s. 6d.
Prize £2 (plus holder of the Championship Table).
Pairings Single round.

1 Burn 10/10

Eleven participants, reduced to ten after W.W. Rutherford's early withdrawal; including Owen, Gardner and Powell.
Source Liverpool Chess Club. Annual Report and Balance Sheet for the Year Ending September 30th, 1897, p. 3.

Following the conclusion of the club championship, nine players from the Glasgow Chess Club were received for the fifth match between the two clubs. It ended in another decisive defeat for the Scottish team.

Liverpool C.C. - Glasgow C.C. 7½-1½
Burn A. - Finlayson J.M. 1-0
Cairns J. - Lea J.P. 1-0
Dod A. - Russell J. 1-0
Wellington S. - Law A.B. 1-0
Rutherford W.W. - Chambers J.D. 1-0
Rutherford A. - Paton M. 1-0
Dawbarn C.Y.C. - Neilson A.J. ½-½
Shaw J.H. - Borthwick J. 0-1
Kendall R.R. - Muirhead J. 1-0
Liverpool, 1 May 1897 

After Burn had forfeited his place at Nuremberg 1896, he was determined not to miss the next international opportunity, offered at Berlin in autumn 1897 (see Chapter 16). In Liverpool it was hoped that Burn would do well, and "those who see him sitting in his favourite seat at the Liverpool Club day by day, playing all-comers at all sorts of odds, have no doubt of this."[3] After the Berlin tournament another unsubstantiated match rumour circulated in the chess press; this time Charousek was to be Burn's opponent.

Liverpool had suffered badly in its recent matches with Manchester, but in November 1897 the balance was finally redressed in a tough fight without a single draw. Another "skittle handicap" tournament three weeks later ended in victory for Burn again.

Liverpool C.C. - Manchester C.C. 6-4
Burn A. - Jones H. 1-0
Owen J. - Wahltuch V.L. 1-0
Cairns J. - Palmer W.C. 1-0
Dod A. - Kenrick J.P. 0-1
Rutherford A. - Marriott R. 0-1
Wellington S. - Wright G.W. 1-0
Rutherford W.W. - Hodgson J. 1-0
Ferguson G. - Wilson T.B. 0-1
Powell D. - Wallwork C.H. 0-1
Gardner H.E. - Wahltuch J. 1-0
Liverpool, 27 November 1897 

(486) Finlayson – Burn 0:1
Liverpool C.C. v. Glasgow C.C.
Liverpool 1 May 1897
Ruy López (Anderssen Variation) [C77]

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 a6 4 Ba4 Nf6 5 d3 d6 6 h3?!

A harmless move. Stronger is 6 c3, as played by Burn himself on several occasions.

6 ... g6 7 Bxc6+

With this exchange White needlessly fortifies the opponent's centre. His best move is perhaps 7 c4 at once.

7 ... bxc6 8 c4!?

Anticipating an idea of Duras' by several years. In a number of Anderssen games the move 8 Nc3 was tested, but invariably with good results for Black.

8 ... Bg7 9 Nc3 0-0 10 Bg5 h6 11 Be3 c5 12 Qd2 Kh7 13 0-0 c6

His central block of pawns gives Black a very good game. Perhaps White should now try to create some counter-play with 14 Nh2, followed by the advance of the f-pawn, for after the game continuation he is soon restricted to passive waiting tactics.

Position after move 22 14 Rad1?! Ne8! 15 b3 f5 16 exf5 gxf5 17 Qc2 Nc7 18 Bc1 Ne6 19 Rfe1 Ra7! 20 Ne2 Bd7 21 Ng3 Be8 22 Bb2 Bg6!

(see diagram)

Burn handles the position with excellent judgement. Step by step he brings his pieces into position for the decisive breakthrough.

23 Qd2 h5 24 Bc1 h4 25 Nf1 Bh5 26 N1h2 Rg8 27 Kh1 Bf8 28 Nxe5?

Desperation. White no longer wants to sit and wait for his opponent's final attack, but the piece sacrifice is altogether hopeless.

28 ... dxe5 29 Rxe5 Nd4 30 Rde1 Qf6 31 Rg1 Qxe5 White resigned.

[Liverpool Weekly Mercury, 8 May 1897]


From Amos Burn: A Chess Biography © 2004 Richard Forster by permission of McFarland, Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640, USA, www.mcfarlandpub.com


[1] The winners in Burn’s simultaneous exhibition on 16 January 1897 were A.W. Morrice, J.R. Seanor, J. Kenrick, H.S. Jackson. A draw was achieved by W.E. Withers.
[2] According to D. Hooper, K. Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess, s.v. “Timing of moves,” in 1900 a Liverpool watchmaker, Samuel Walker, took out a patent for this idea.
[3] Liverpool Weekly Mercury, 28 August 1897.