Once again, we thank Stephen Wright for the bulk of this content – most recently included in BCCF Bulletin # 396 and from http://www.bcchesshistory.com/canchsearly.html. To subscribe to the British Columbia Chess Federation Bulletin , send an e-mail to (swright2@telus.net)

CHARLES BLAKE (12 June 1880 – 18 May 1961)

Historically the British Columbia chess scene, like the province itself, has been built and enriched
by the arrival of immigrants, whether from overseas or from other parts of Canada. A number of Winnipeg players moved to the West Coast, including Dave Creemer, Abe Helman, Nathan Divinsky, Peter Biyiasas, and more recently Jack Yoos. One of Canada’s most important early twentieth-century players eventually moved to BC, admittedly long after his best playing days were over: Charles Blake, whose birth was one hundred and forty years ago this June.

Born in London, England in 1880, Blake moved to Winnipeg in 1903. He read law before being called to the Manitoba Bar in 1909; two years later Blake moved to Brandon and set up his own practice. He served in France during the First World War, rising to the rank of major by its end. Blake returned to Brandon
after the war but left the province for Ontario in 1925; he was subsequently called to the Ontario Bar in 1929 and the British Columbia Bar in 1949. He was still active as a lawyer when he passed away in White Rock, BC at the age of eighty.

Blake learnt chess in 1897 and was already a strong player when he arrived in Winnipeg. He was the only local player who could compete with fellow Winnipegger and Canadian champion Magnus Smith on something resembling even terms, although Smith generally finished ahead of Blake in competitions. After Smith moved to New York in 1907 Blake stepped into his shoes as the premier player in the area; apart from winning the Northwest championship (open to Canadians residing west of Port Arthur/Thunder Bay) four times in succession, Blake was twice runner-up in the Canadian championship (1909 and 1913) and in 1911 won the Western Chess Association championship (the precursor to the US Open). Moving to Brandon curtailed Blake’s chess activities as did the Great War, although he provided a brilliancy prize for the 1918 Northwest tournament whilst on leave. He did make the journey from Brandon to Winnipeg to play in the Northwest competitions 1923-25 and won two of those championships before moving to Ontario.

Pittsburgh Gazette – September 17, 1911

Blake played in several more Canadian championships in the 1920s, generally finishing in the middle of the field. His last such event was in Hamilton in 1931, when he was apparently living in Windsor. After
moving to this province he played in the BC – WA matches of 1949, 1950, and 1951, despite being around seventy years old at the time. His obituary in the White Rock Sun makes no mention of his military career or chess accomplishments. There are certainly soldiers who would prefer to forget their wartime service, but more likely by the time of Blake’s passing there was no one left in the area who knew his early background: his wife had predeceased him by several years, and they left no offspring.

Elliott and Blake in the 1911 WCA

Blake, Charles – Elliott, Edward P. [C61] Western Chess Association 6th Excelsior, 08.1905

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4 4.Bc4 Nxf3+ 5.Qxf3 Nf6 6.Qb3 Qe7 7.Nc3 b6 8.Nb5 Kd8 9.d3 Ng4
10.Be3 Nxe3 11.fxe3 Qg5 12.0-0-0 Qxe3+ 13.Kb1 f6 14.Rhe1 Qf2 15.d4 a6 16.Re2 Qh4 17.g3
Qh5 18.Nc3 Bd6 19.dxe5 Bxe5 20.Bf7 Qf3 21.Red2 Bxc3 22.bxc3 Ra7 23.Bd5 d6 24.e5 Qe3
25.exd6 Qc5 26.dxc7+ Kxc7 27.Bc4 Bg4 28.Be2 Bxe2 29.Qf7+ Kc6 30.Qxa7 Qb5+ 31.Kc1 Qg5
32.Qd7+ 1-0

Blake, Charles – Smith, Magnus Magnusson [C30] Match Winnipeg (7), 04.12.1905

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 d6 5.f4 Nc6 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nd4 9.Qg3 Qe7 10.Bb3
exf4 11.Bxf4 Nh5 12.Qg4 Nxf4 13.Qxf4 Bb4 14.0-0 Bxc3 15.Qxf7+ Qxf7 16.Bxf7+ Ke7 17.bxc3
Ne2+ 18.Kh2 Nxc3 19.Bd5 Nxd5 20.exd5 Rhf8 21.Rae1+ Kd7 22.Kg3 b5 23.Rb1 a6 24.Rxf8 Rxf8
25.c4 Rb8 26.cxb5 Rxb5 27.Rxb5 axb5 28.Kf4 c6 29.dxc6+ Kxc6 30.Ke4 d5+ 31.Ke5 Kc5 32.a3 g5
33.g4 h6 34.Ke6 Kd4 35.Kd6 Kxd3 36.Kxd5 Kc3 37.Kc5 Kb3 38.Kxb5 Kxa3 39.Kc4 Kb2 40.Kd3
Kc1 41.Ke4 Kd2 42.Kf5 Ke3 43.Kg6 Kf4 44.Kxh6 Kg3 45.Kxg5 Kxh3 46.Kh5 1-0

Spencer, Robert John – Blake, Charles [C31] Northwest ch playoff Winnipeg (3), 07.03.1907

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.Nf3 dxe4 4.Nxe5 Bc5 5.Qh5 Be6 6.Nxf7 Bxf7 7.Qxc5 Ne7 8.d3 Nd7 9.Qd4 exd3
10.Bxd3 0-0 11.0-0 Nc6 12.Qc3 Nf6 13.b3 Nd5 14.Qb2 Ndb4 15.Be4 Qd4+ 16.Qxd4 Nxd4 17.Na3
Ne2+ 18.Kh1 Nxc1 19.Rfxc1 Bd5 20.c3 Bxe4 21.cxb4 Rxf4 22.Rc4 Raf8 23.Kg1 Rg4 24.g3 h5
25.Re1 Bf3 26.Rxg4 Bxg4 27.Nb5 Rd8 28.Nxc7 Rd2 29.Ra1 Bf3 30.Re1 Rxa2 31.Ne6 Rg2+
32.Kf1 Rxh2 33.Ng5 Rh1+ 34.Kf2 Rxe1 35.Kxe1 Bd5 36.Nh3 Bxb3 37.Nf4 Bf7 38.Kf2 b6 39.Ke3
a5 40.bxa5 bxa5 41.Nd3 a4 42.Kf4 a3 43.Nb4 a2 44.Nxa2 Bxa2 0-1

Blake, Charles – Lasker, Emanuel [C79] Simul Winnipeg, 06.1907

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 d6 6.Nc3 b5 7.Bb3 Bg4 8.d3 Nd4 9.Be3 Nxf3+
10.gxf3 Bh5 11.Kh1 Qd7 12.Rg1 c6 13.Rg3 h6 14.Ne2 g5 15.a4 Qb7 16.d4 Nd7 17.Rh3 Nf6
18.Ng3 Bg6 19.Bxg5 hxg5 20.Rxh8 0-0-0 21.axb5 axb5 22.Nf5 d5 23.Rxf8 Bxf5 24.Rxd8+ Kxd8
25.dxe5 Qc7 26.Ra8+ Kd7 27.exf6 1-0

Spencer and Blake at a get-together honouring Blake’s return to Winnipeg in December 1925; viewing the game is Prof. (Rev.) James F. Cross

Morrison, John Stuart – Blake, Charles [D05] CAN ch playoff Winnipeg, 1913

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.e3 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Bd3 Bg4 6.Nbd2 e5 7.dxe5 Nxe5 8.Bc2 Bd6 9.0-0 0-0
10.Re1 Re8 11.h3 Bh5 12.Nf1 Nxf3+ 13.gxf3 Ne4 14.Ng3 Qg5 15.Bxe4 Bxg3 16.Qxd5 Re5 17.Qc4
Bh4+ 18.Kf1 Rae8 19.Bxb7 Qf6 20.f4 Qf5 21.Kg1 R5e6 22.Qf1 Rg6+ 23.Kh2 Qc2 24.f5 Rg5 25.e4
Bg3+ 0-1

Schain, G – Blake, Charles [A28] BC – WA m Seattle, 03.07.1949

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.e3 Be7 5.Be2 d6 6.0-0 Bg4 7.h3 Bh5 8.b3 Bg6 9.Bb2 Qd7 10.d4 e4
11.Nd2 0-0 12.Qb1 Rfe8 13.Ncxe4 Nxe4 14.Nxe4 Bd8 15.Bd3 Nb4 16.f3 Nxd3 17.Qxd3 Qe7 10
18.Rae1 Bxe4 19.fxe4 Qxe4 20.Qxe4 Rxe4 21.Rf3 Bf6 22.Rf4 Rae8 23.Rxe4 Rxe4 24.g3 c5
25.Kf2 Kf8 26.Kf3 Re8 27.Re2 Ke7 28.d5 Bxb2 29.Rxb2 Kd7 30.a3 a5 31.b4 axb4 32.axb4 cxb4
33.Rxb4 Kc7 34.e4 Re5 35.g4 g5 36.Rb5 b6 37.Rb3 Kb7 38.Ra3 Re8 39.Ke3 f6 40.Kd4 Rg8
41.Kc3 Ra8 42.Rxa8 Kxa8 43.Kb4 1/2-1/2

Winnipeg, 21 April 1906. From left to right: Magnus Smith, Géza Maróczy, Charles Blake, John E. Wildman, H.H. Currie, R.J. Spencer.
Holy Trinity Church is in the background. Mr. Blake was the secretary of the “Mother Club” and a student at law. Mr Wildman was the manager of the Sheet Metal Products, Ltd. Mr Spencer is a grain man. (Winnipeg Tribune, March 25, 1925)

Some results from http://edochess.ca/players/p4388.html


Match data  (f=formal; c=casual; s=soft)

Smith, M.M. – Blake, C.W. 1905         (f)     6.5   –   3.5  

Tournament data

Winnipeg 1904     25th Canadian Championship     6  /  11        
Excelsior 1905     6th Western Chess Association Tournament (6th USA Open)     13  /  17        
Chicago 1906 (2)     7th Western Chess Association Tournament – Section 2     5  /  8        
Chicago 1906 (3)     7th Western Chess Association Tournament – Final     4  /  7        
Excelsior 1907     8th Western Chess Association Tournament (8th USA Open)     9.5  /  16        
Toronto 1909     27th Canadian Championship     9  /  12        
Excelsior 1909     10th Western Chess Association Tournament     9.5  /  15        
Montreal 1910     28th Canadian Championship     5.5  /  9        
Excelsior 1911     12th Western Chess Association Tournament     12  /  13        
Excelsior 1912     13th Western Chess Association Tournament     7  /  11        
Winnipeg 1913     29th Canadian Championship     6  /  7        
    Blake, C.W. – Morrison, J.S.     1 – 3            

Canadian Closed results – compiled at http://www.bcchesshistory.com/canchsearly.html