Chess and Draughts

Scottish Connections


James Ferrie 4 December 1857, Greenock - 14 December 1929, Glasgow

Ferrie became the Draughts (or checkers) World Champion in 1894 by defeating James Wyllie (the 'Herd Laddie') in a match which commenced April 17 at the Ramshorn Hall, Ingram Street, Glasgow. Ninety-four games were planned, but not all were played; the match ended after 88 games with Ferrie having won 13 games, lost 6 and 69 games drawn.

Ferrie lost the title two years later to the Edinburgh player, Richard Jordan.

From The Chess Amateur of October 1908, p2:

'The well-known champion draughts player, James Ferrie, has joined the Glasgow Chess Club.'

Ferrie played for Glasgow CC in several matches in the inaugural season of the Glasgow Chess League, 1908-09.

Ferrie died on Saturday, 14 December, 1929 at his home at 203 Onslow Drive, Dennistoun, Glasgow.

Further information about James Ferrie's draughts play can be found here.

James Ferrie, age 60, in the nursery gardens at Alexandra Park, Glasgow, Scotland, 1917.
Source: The Online Museum of Checkers History


Richard Jordan 4 November 1872, Edinburgh - 8 October 1911, Edinburgh

Jordan captured the World Draughts Championship from James Ferrie in 1896, scoring 4 wins, 3 losses with 33 games drawn.

Richard Jordan (left) and James Ferrie, during their 1896 World Championship match.

Jordan successfully defended his title against Robert Stewart, Charles Barker (USA) and Harry Freedman before retiring from match play in 1903. However, Jordan continued to play competitively and, along with James Ferrie and Robert Stewart, was included in the British team that defeated the USA in 1905.

Richard Jordan (left) defending his title against Charles Barker of the USA in a match played at Boston, Massachusetts in 1900. Jordan retained his title with 2 wins, 2 losses and 36 draws.
Source: The Online Museum of Checkers History

Jordan was active in Edinburgh chess circles, playing for the Edinburgh Chess Club and the Edinburgh Working Men's Club.

The Edinburgh Working Men's Club and Institute 1905. Club members are shown with the Spens Cup (upper) and Knight Cup (lower).

Standing, from the left: R.H. Smith, F. Cruickshank, A.D. Marshall, E.E. Parker.
Sitting, from the left: R. Jordan, H.H. Waight, W. Cruickshank, R. Boyd.

NOTE: This photo was made into a postcard, which was given to or delivered - there is no stamp - by H.W. (likely H.H. Waight in the photo) to 'Maggie', dated 30.6.05. The full details of the addressee on the card are: Miss M. Cockburn, 105 Giles Rd, Edinburgh. 
The club had a successful 1904-05 season, winning the first division of the Edinburgh League - the Knight Cup - and the Spens Cup. This, the original Spens Cup, was 'lost' during WW2.

For more information about Richard Jordan see the brief biography here, which includes a link to Geoff Chandler's more detailed article.

Further information about Jordan's Draughts career can be found here.

Robert Stewart 31 August 1873, Kelty, Fife - 11 August 1941, Blairadam (by Kelty), Fife

Robert Stewart - portrait from the tournament book of the Stewart v Banks match.

Robert Stewart, a miner like many other Draughts players in Scotland, becomes the first undisputed World Champion since Richard Jordan retired from match play. He defeated the American Newell W. Banks of Detroit, Michigan, in a match which commenced on January 28, 1922 in Glasgow, at the Lesser City Hall. The result was a narrow victory to Stewart by 2 wins, 1 loss and and 37 draws.

Newell W. Banks 10 October 1887, Detroit, MI, USA - 17 February 1977, Detroit, MI, USA

Newell William Banks is one of the few masters who were recognised as equally competent at both Chess and Draughts, the most well known such player probably being another American, Harry Nelson Pillsbury.

In the case of Banks, he was acknowledged as a child prodigy at Draughts, and although he continued to participate in Chess events, as well as somtimes playing both games in simultaneous displays, it was his prowess at draughts that dominated.

Some examples of Banks's results in chess tournaments:

In the 1916 Rice Memorial Tournament in New York, he finished in last place in the 14-player event, scoring only four draws, albeit one was against Janowski.

In 1924 Banks took part in the Western Chess Association tournament at Detroit, his home city. The event was won by Carlos Torre with 14/16, followed by Faktor, Hahlbohm and Whitaker 11½, Reshevsky 11 with Banks scoring 10½.

In 1926 he again played in the Western Chess Association tournament in Chicago, scoring 4½/12, including wins against Frank Marshall (1st), and the up-and-coming Isaac Kashdan.

Another Visit to Scotland - 1939
Newell Banks returned to Scotland in 1939, visiting the Scottish Draughts Championship which were being held in the YMCA rooms at Eglinton Toll, Glasgow. At the formal opening of the championship on January 2, Banks was introduced as a distinguished visitor who was hoping to arrange an international match between Britain and the United States for 1940 [there had been earlier matches in 1905 and 1927-AMcG]. In the interval between sessions, Banks played 10 opponents simultaneously, winning 7 and drawing 3. (Glasgow Herald, January 3, 1929, p. 14.)

The Glasgow Herald chess column of January 6, 1939 (p. 19) commented:-

"...tomorrow [he] gives a chess and draughts display against all-comers in the room at Eglinton Toll. He is open for chess engagements also, simultaneous (ordinary or blindfold) displays, and so on. In this respect he is unfortunate in following so quickly on the visits of Koltanowski, Alekhine and Miss Menchik, and engagements already made for a visit very soon of Znosko-Borovsky."

However, Banks did receive a few more engagements. On Thursday, January 26, he played against a number of opponents at Dundee Chess Club.

Source: The Evening Telegraph, Friday, January 27, 1939, p. 8.

On Tuesday, February 7, at the Glasgow Jewish Institute on South Portland Street, he gave simultaneous displays at both chess and draughts. The display lasted 4½ hours, with the following results: Chess 8 wins, 7 draws; Draughts 10 wins and 8 draws. (Glasgow Herald chess column, February 10, 1939, p. 6.)


Alan McGowan

Updated - 04/04/2019