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de Vere, Cecil

Cecil Valentine Brown, later known as Cecil de Vere, was born in February 14 (Valentine’s Day), 1845.  In 1857, at the age of 12, he was taught who to play chess by a strong London player, Francis Burden (1830-1882).  In 1859, he joined the City of London Chess Club.  In 1860, at the age of 15, he was a regular at Simpson’s Divan.  In 1864, he played a number of games against Reverend George A. MacDonnell, winning the majority of them.  In 1865, he won a match against Steinitz (+7-3=2), with Steinitz playing odds of a pawn and a move.   In November, 1866, at the age of 21, he won the 1st British Chess Association Challenge Cup, held in London, becoming the first official British Chess Champion.  He remained the youngest titleholder for over a century (until Nigel Short).  In June 1867, he took 5th at Paris France, won by Kolisch.  In September 1867, he took 3rd-4th at the 3rd Congress of the British Chess Association at Dundee, Scotland, won by Gustav Neumann.  While he was in Dundee, he learned that he had tuberculosis (consumption).  He worked at Lloyds Bank, but gave up his employment when he discovered he had tuberculosis.   In 1868-69, he tied for 1st place at the 2nd British Chess Association Challenge Cup, held in London.  He lost the play-off to Joseph Blackburne.  In 1870, he took 6th-7th at Baden-Baden, Germany.  In 1872, he took 3rd-5th at the 2nd British Chess Federation Congress in London.  In 1872, he was the chess editor of the Field, but lost it after 18 months through inattention to work (he had become an alcoholic).  In 1874, he lost a match against Zukertort in London.   He died of tuberculosis and a penniless alcoholic at the age of 29 on February 9, 1875 at Torquay.

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