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Purdy, Cecil

  • Last updated on 12/28/12, 10:25 PM.

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Cecil Purdy (1906-1979) was a Grandmaster of Correspondence Chess (1953) and winner of the first world correspondence chess championship (1950-1953). In 1923, at the age of 17, he won the New Zealand Championship.  In 1929 he founded the Australasian Chess Review (later named Check!, then Chess World).  He was the editor for nearly 40 years.  He won the Australian Correspondence Championship in 1937 and 1945.  He was the champion of Australia in 1935, 1937, 1949, and 1951.   He earned the International Master title in 1951.  His son was the junior champion of Australia.  He won the Australian championship four times and held the Australian Correspondence Championship for 16 years in a row.  Both Purdy's father-in-law Spencer Crakenthorp (champion from 1926 to 1929), and his son John (champion in 1962) have been champions of Australia.  He died of a heart attack while playing a game of chess during the Sydney Championships.  His last words were, "I have a win, but it will take some time."  His opponent was Ian Parsonage.   Purdy was born in Egypt.  He learned to play chess from an encyclopedia at age 15.  He played only 46 correspondence games in his entire life (won 34, drew 10, lost 2). 

 

Bobby Fischer was once asked how to go about setting up a great chess library.  He started his reply by saying, “Firstly I would get my hands on everything written by Cecil Purdy."  Purdy's teaching style was clear and incisive and was sprinkled with easy-to-remember observations, such as "Pawn endings are to chess what putting is to golf" and "If there is one, and only one, open file then, like it or not, that is where the game will be won".  He always claimed that the best improvement technique was to play through well-annotated master games, covering up the winning player's moves and trying to work out the moves. He recommended for this purpose the 33 games in Irving Chernev's Logical Chess, move by move in which every move is annotated in every game.

The reason Purdy, despite his success he had at this form, played only 46 correspondence games is he said it was too demanding and took over his entire life during the world championship.

GM Ian Rogers debates Purdy's last words as reported above, claiming Purdy actually said "I have to seal my move."

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