Friday 28 April 2017

Brixton Byways 2½ : Peyers You Went

This impromptu post registers an echo in the outer reaches of the ever-expanding universe of chess-historical trivia (where the lost outnumber the winning?).

Start, please, by casting your mind back to a post three years ago concerning the embryonic origins, in the early 1870s, of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club or, as it then was, the Endeavour Chess Club of North Brixton. We told the relevant part of the story in Brixton Byways 2: Peyers As You Go, which related the tale of the unfortunate de Peyer brothers, who put their considerable energies into the nascent club. Today's post notes a recent reverberation in the de Peyer sector and recalls a close encounter some twenty years ago.

The "unfortunate de Peyer brothers": the youngest and strongest (chess-wise) was Vincent, whose singular contribution to chess history was his spectacular self-destruct against Blackburne in a blindfold simul in 1875. Blackburne announced mate in 4, at move 21 - which is therefore a puzzle for you to solve (or another was featured in Byways 2)

Ernest Edward was the eldest of the three. He was rather more unlucky. Actually, and to put it more sensitively, it was his new wife, Ellen, who was really the unlucky one. She succumbed in child birth when only 18. In view of the tragedy Ernest felt obliged to step down as the Secretary of Endeavour, and we may suppose that it was as a consequence of these miserable circumstances that the club lost heart for a year or two before bouncing back.

For information about the third brother (the lucky one, or perhaps the least unlucky one) - Edward Charles de Peyer - we have to thank to our good friend Richard James who contributed to an exceptionally fruitful comments box way back then in 2014. Richard pointed out that E.C. de Peyer had a son, Esme Vincent (who, it turned out, taught singing and performed at Covent Garden - hmmm, might he have known that "pretty songstress" Agnes Larkcom?).  

Esme Vincent de Peyer fathered three talented offspring: an actress Deirdre, an opera singer Adrian, and Gervase, who was a concert clarinettist of some celebrity. A youthful Gervase (born 11 April 1926) performs here:

Sadly Gervase died on February 4 2017, and it was his obituary in The Guardian of 24 April 2017 that prompted this post. You can access it here, and there are several other appreciative obits on-line.

Gervase's brother Adrian was, in turn, the father of Nick de Peyer who was on the London chess scene some twenty years ago. He is on the ECF grading data base as inactive, last seen playing for King's Head in 1999. As it happens your blogger played Nick all those years ago in a London League match. He won easily. I give the game below for its historical resonance - certainly not for any chess merit on my part (there isn't any, so please read and forget).

I wonder if Nick - last heard of in Dubai - was aware of those worthy chess antecedents up in his family tree.

For further wanderings in the Brixton Byways see here.


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