Owen, John

  • Last updated on 8/9/07, 1:43 PM.

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John Owen was born in Staffordshire on July 1, 1827.  In 1851, he was ordained and became a vicar of Hooten, Chesire from 1862 to 1900.  He was a member of George’s Chess Club and was recognized as one of London’s strongest amateurs.  He played chess and wrote under the pseudonym ‘Alter’.   He popularized the move 1.e4 b6, Owen’s Defense.  In 1857, he won the minor section of the first British Chess Association Congress in Manchester.  The major section was won by Janos Loewenthal.  In 1858, he tied for 3rd-4th in the 2nd British Chess Association Congress in Birmingham.  In 1858, he lost a match to Samuel Boden in London (+2-7=2).  In 1860, he tied a match with Ignatz Kolisch in Manchester (+4-4=0).  In 1862, He took 3rd place in the 1st British Chess Federation Congress in London (the first round-robin event), behind Anderssen and Paulsen.   In 1868-1869, he took 3rd-4th in the 2nd British Chess Association Challenge Cup in London.  In 1870, he took 3rd in the 3rd British Chess Association Congress in London.  In 1874, he tied a match with Amos Burn in Liverpool (+4-4=0).  In 1875, he lost a match with Burn in London (+11-6=3).  In 1876, he tied for 2nd-4th in the 12 British Counties Chess Association Congress in Chelenham.  In 1878, he lost a match with Zukertort (+0-8=3).  In 1881, he took 2nd in the 16th British Counties Chess Association Congress.  In 1888, he defeated Amos Burn in a match in Liverpool (+5-3=0).  In 1890, he tied for 3rd-4th in the 23rd British Counties Chess Association Congress.  In 1894-1895, he took 2nd-3rd in the 3rd Craigside Tournament in Llandudno, England.  He died on November 24, 1901.


  • 9 years ago · Quote · #1


    John Owen played Paul Morphy in a match with Morphy giving odds of Pawn and the move.

    Fred Edge wrote about it in a letter to Willard Fiske:

    "The Rev. John Owen (alias "Alter") consented to play the match at Pawn & Move on Tuesday last; the terms being the winner of the first five games  for a set of ivory Staunton Men. If Owen won, Morphy to play him afterwards even; if the contrary, Morphy to give him Pawn and two. Staunton gives Owen Pawn and one, and loses the majority of games, and the impression at St. George's was that no man living could give him these odds in a match. The first game Morphy won in 18 moves, time 2 1/2 hours, whereof Owen took 2 hours. The second game was drawn, after 6 hours play; the 3rd and 4th were won by Morphy, leaving Owen at Zero. This is considered Morphy's greatest performance since his arrival in Europe, and the folks at the St. George's believe now that Alter will not get a game. The match is resumed tomorrow when it will probably be finished."


    Morphy won the match +5-0=2


    Before the match, Owen had commented, "Were it not for my position [as a religious leader] I would willingly play for £1000."

    Owen even refused to play the promised, second match at Pawn and two.



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