John Wisker. A player that time forgot.

John Wisker. A player that time forgot.

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Further to a conversation on my 'Gastineau Party' posting, I have time to do a quick and very basic look at another sadly forgotten figure from the mid Victorian era - John Wisker. I may redo it properly at some point.

A quick wikipedia cut and paste on the basics.

John Wisker (30 May 1846 in Kingston upon Hull, England18 January 1884 in Richmond, Victoria) was an English chess player and journalist. By 1870, he was one of the world's ten best chess players, and the second-best English-born player, behind only Joseph Henry Blackburne.

Wisker moved to London in 1866 to become a reporter for the City Press and befriended Howard Staunton. His proficiency at chess improved rapidly, and he won the 1870 British Chess Championship after a play-off against Amos Burn, ahead of Blackburne, the defending champion. He won again in 1872 after a play-off against the first British champion, Cecil Valentine De Vere. After this second victory, the British championship was not resumed until 1904. Wisker edited chess columns for The Sporting Times and Land and Water. From 1872 to 1876, Wisker was Secretary of the British Chess Association and co-editor of The Chess Player's Chronicle. After learning that he had contracted tuberculosis, Wisker emigrated to Australia in the autumn of 1876 to try to regain his health. In Australia, he wrote a chess column for the Australasian. In 1884, Wisker died from bronchitis and tuberculosis.

The above is the only image of him that I have ever seen, so if anyone knows of another, please post it! With thanks. There are two versions of this, facing opposite ways!!

The tables of his matches with Bird,taken from H.E.Bird. A Chess Biography. By Hans Renette. Go buy it!!


Some results tables - sources quoted, with thanks.


Source Amos Burn. A Chess Biography. Richard Forster. The following is from Hindle's' 'The English Morphy'?'


Update on that picture given above.! like-a-hurricane has kindly pointed me in the direction of a second image which can be found here complete with an excellent larger version. I knew of the picture, having noted it in De Vere researches, but had not realised that the figure front left of picture is Wisker. Gratitude to like-a-hurricane and the chesshistory website. 


As mentioned elsewhere, Wisker effectively ended the top class career of the ailing Cecil De Vere by beating him twice during the 4th B.C.A challenge Cup Tourney of 1872, including the play - off game mentioned. I Quote from Owen Hindle's excellent book 'The English Morphy'?.

'They made a contrasting pair. Wisker, at 25 just a year younger than his adversary, was from a poor family in Hull, largely unschooled, though later, through a great determination to succeed in life, taught himself to read and write and had moved to London to work as a reporter for the City Press. De Vere, with his aristocratic mien, totally lacked Wisker's  gritty northcountry ambition. Different thought they may have been in nature, in one deadly respect they were the same. Within 2 years of this match, Wisker, too, was found to have TB, though whereas De Vere's attempt at a recovery was a short vicious winter in Torquay,  Wisker sensibly emigrated to Australia, where the warm, dry air helped him live for another nine years. He settled in Melbourne, where he continued his journalism and became chess editor of the Australasian up to the time of his death on January 18th 1884.

  I have selected the following game, that, as you will see, I found in The Westminster Papers, to add for two reasons. Firstly, the historical value noted in that magazine. Secondly, it is not, to my knowledge, to be found in the usual online sources.