Yorkshire Chess History



John E Povey











Made in Yorkshire



Sheffield Sub-Site



1912, Kensington ?




Non-Chess Life


For a long time J E Povey was a strong Leeds-based chess-player, but his origins aren't clear.  There was a J E Povey who played in a minor section of a London League New Year Congress of 1936.  There was a J E Povey playing for Leeds on 20/11/1937, seemingly his first such appearance.  There were other people called J E Povey in the London area, so these chess-playing J E Poveys could be distinct, but if we assume (without proof) that they are one and the same, then it would seem out man started his chess career in the London area, then in 1936 or 1937 moved to Leeds.


The birth registration which is most likely to represent such a person is that of John E Povey who was born in 1912 in the Kensington district of London.  The absence of either an easily identifiable death registration or an entry in the 1939 Register, either of which would give a date of birth, means the 1912 Kensington birth isn’t definite.


J E Povey, presumably having just arrived from London, started to appear as a Leeds-based player around 1937.


J E Povey seems not to appear in the 1939 Register.


In 1941, “John E Povey” married Margaret Florence Robertson in Leeds.  This gives us his first name.  The bride was possibly the Margaret Florence Robertson born 1903 in Bramley, at the edge of Leeds, but there are other possibilities.  The couple appear to have had at least two children:


Margaret Sheila Povey

born 1942, Leeds

John P Povey

born 1943, Leeds


Margaret Florence Povey died in the Wharfedale registration district in 1978, suggesting J E Povey had not left the Leeds area before 1978 (so probably ruling out John Eric Povey, born 24/09/1906, who died in 1977 in or around Southend-on-Sea as the Leeds chess-player).




In the Minor Section of the London Chess League 1936 New Year Congress, first place was shared between N A Perkins and J E Povey on 7 points out of 9.


An early record of J E Povey playing chess in Yorkshire was of him playing at board 9 for Leeds against Bradford in the Woodhouse Cup on 20/11/1937, when he beat J C Burrow.


Thereafter he popped up regularly playing for Leeds and Yorkshire.


In 1937-38 he played for Yorkshire against Cheshire, and Lancashire.


In 1938, he drew with Alekhine when the latter gave a simultaneous display in Leeds.


In 1938-39 he played for Yorkshire against Lancashire.


He shared the 1938-39 Yorkshire Championship with G Barron of Hull, as it wasn’t possible to play the final.


In 1945/46 he played for Yorkshire against Co. Durham and Lancashire.


In 1946-47 he played for Yorkshire against Northumberland, then Cheshire, and then Lancashire.


In 1950/51 he won the Yorkshire championship.


Present scope of this site precludes further example apart from in 1953-54, when he played against the combined Cumberland & Westmorland team, and in 1954-55 when he played against Middlesex in the English Counties’ final.


He came third equal in the Major Open of the British Championships of 1960.


The BCF Year Book of Chess for 1970-71 shows him playing for Yorkshire in September 1970.


Books and Magazines he Owned


A chess-player living in Scotland, Jim Anderson, purchased a collection of old chess books and magazines on eBay.  Some of the books had inside the front cover the signature “John E. Povey”.



The items included the following.


Chess Sutton Coldfield Magazine - loose issues from November 1935 until July 1936.


British Chess Magazine “Bound” volumes from 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, and 1943. These are all self-bound in that John would appear to have bound them with needle and thread and added brown paper covers to the each volume.


Loose BCM magazines from 1944, 1948, 1963, 1964,


Charousek’s Games of Chess published 1919 - John’s signature in the frontisleaf.


A copy of Walker’s Chess Studies, with inside it the inscription “Bought for 3/6d via M J Haygarth 27.11.1954 J. E. Povey”.


A copy of Fine’s Basic Chess Endings, inside the front leaf is John’s signature and the address again given as 17 West End lane Horsforth. There is an additional line in brackets which looks like Bicester and the year 1960. The edition is dated 1958, so I assume he bought it in 1960.


A programme from the BCF Annual Congress of August 1967, in Oxford, with a handwritten address for John of 17 West End Lane, Horsforth, Leeds.  I presume he attended the Congress but although all the cross tables of the various tournaments are filled in in biro, his name does not appear in any as a competitor.


Six copies of the Year Book of Chess ending in the 1970-71 issue. His name appears playing for Yorkshire in September 1970.


In one of the books there was a score sheet of a game (no date) versus R. Blades seemingly played at the Airedale Chess Club, pictured below.

(Click here to play through the game on screen.)




J E Povey was not in the Yorkshire grading list of 1989, rather implying he must have died at some time from 1978 to 1989.  A death registration for J E Povey is difficult to identify.  The one most likely to be the right one is that for a John Edwin Povey who died in 1989 in Buckinghamshire, but that's no more than a guess.






Copyright © 2018 Stephen John Mann

Census information is copyright of The National Archive, see UK Census Information

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