Minnie Musgrave

Hi All
I was sorting through my late great aunts possessions that i posses which includes a 1935 womens uk chess champions medal to said aunt and a letter from chess magazine asking for photo of said aunt also will in which she left £50 to hastings Chess Club when she died in 1968, i wonder if there is any record of my aunt at the club or any info in any magazines that are easily unavailable.

John Musgrave

Post by gpj on Apr 29, 2013 at 11:44pm
In 2007 John Musgrave wrote to the club regarding a relative of his Minnie Musgrave. Paul Buswell contacted me about her life and I sent him an email. I presume that Paul sent the information to John, but this information never appeared on the website. Although she was not a club champion or president, she distinguished herself by winning the British Ladies Championship. Here is the relevant part of my email to Paul:

“Minnie Musgrave had a successful chess career for over 30 years, though chess records tell us little about her personal life. The first reference that I have found to her playing chess at Hastings occurs in January 1919, when she was one of 21 players to take on the star veteran J H Blackburne, who was giving a simultaneous in the town. She lost her game on that occasion. Her first county appearance seems to have taken place in September 1924 when she played on board 47 for Sussex against Kent. From 1924 to 1927 she played somewhere between boards 30 and 50 for the county team, but in 1928 she started to play between boards 20 and 30. When she first started playing for the Hastings Chess Club, it was usually on a low board, though by the end of the 1920s, she had climbed to about board 10.

In 1925 she played a match against one of the strongest British lady players, losing 3.5 to 1.5 against Mrs A Stevenson. The 1920s also saw Miss Musgrave playing for Hastings in the McArthur Cup. At the time Hastings and Brighton were not allowed to field their top players and she regularly played on a high board for the Hastings club in the competition. The McArthur Cup shield used to list all the players of the winning team and Miss Musgrave’s name appears in 1927 and 1928, when Hastings won the trophy.

The most successful period in Miss Musgrave’s chess career came in the late 1930s. In 1938 she won the British Ladies’ Championship at Brighton, though it has to be said that the strongest lady player in the World, Vera Menchik/Stevenson had entered the men’s event. Miss Musgrave’s success led to her being made an Hon. Vice-President of the club. She had been on the club committee from about 1932 and probably represented the interest of the ladies in the club. Previously Vera Menchik had been the first lady to hold a place on the club committee. Miss Musgrave also seems to have played on her highest board for Hastings and Sussex in the late 1930s. I have a record of her playing on board 18 for Sussex v Essex in 1937 and representing the Hastings club on board 5 in 1938.

At the start of World War II Miss Musgrave continued to be an active member of the Hastings Chess Club and she was probably on the committee until at least the 1942 to 43 season. A game that she played against C Lewis in October 1941 in a match between Hastings and Ore Place found its way into the American Chess Bulletin.

It appears that somewhere in the later years of the war she moved away from Hastings. The Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 19.10.1946 reported that she had been detained in Wales by work commitments, but was anxious to return to Hastings. She was considering joining the Pontypridd Chess Club. From 1947, however, she was back playing for Sussex and Hastings. She was the strongest lady player in Hastings in this period as reflected by her success in the Hastings CC Ladies’ Championship. She also enjoyed success in the Sussex Ladies’ Championship. Unfortunately the trophy no longer exists (the last winner was recorded in 1965), but the names of the winners were written down. This list indicates that Miss Musgrave won the event in 1951 and 1952, while in 1953 she shared the title with Miss J P Renwick of Shoreham. However, there is some doubt about the accuracy of the listing of the names, as both Hastings and Brighton newspapers indicate that Miss Musgrave and Miss Renwick shared the title in 1954. One might have expected that Miss Musgrave would have won the competition often in the 1920s and 1930s, but she may not have entered the event very often. One year that she did compete was in 1939, when the winner was Arthur Winser’s wife. My last reference to Miss Musgrave playing chess in the county occurs in 1956. She died towards the end of 1968 at the age 88 and registration records suggest that this was in the Hailsham registration area. She must therefore have been approaching 40, when she first joined the Hastings CC and it is unfortunate that I have not found any information about her earlier life. As part of her will she gave £50 to the Hastings Chess Club. Photographs of her appear in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 31.12.1938 (available at the Hastings Library) and the magazine called ‘Chess’ of November 1938 (available at the University College Library, Hastings and probably the Hastings Chess Club). There are probably other photographs of her in chess literature.

It is interesting that a Victor Musgrave participated in the 1972 to 1973 Hastings Congress. He was a film maker, poet and author, who was caricatured by ‘Mac’ in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer. The same newspaper of 9.2.1974 mentions that he nearly provided Tangier with its first champion from the Hastings CC. I do not know if he was a relative of Minnie Musgrave. Perhaps Bill Penfold will remember him.”

I also enclose a couple of her games:

Lewis,C – Musgrave, Miss M [E91]
Ore Place v Hastings CC board 1, 04.10.1941

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 0-0 6.Be2 Nbd7 7.0-0 c5 8.d5 Nb6 9.Bf4 Nh5 10.Qd2 Nxf4 11.Qxf4 a6 12.Rac1 e6 13.Qe3 f5 14.b3 f4 15.Qd2 e5 16.a3 Nd7 17.Qc2 h5 18.Rfe1 g5 19.Nd2 g4 20.g3 f3 21.Bd3 h4 22.Nf1 hxg3 23.Nxg3 Bh6 24.Rb1 Bf4 25.Nd1 Qh4 26.Bf1 Rf7 Sources: Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 11.10.1941 and the American Chess Bulletin of December 1941. Played at the Hastings CC. 0-1

Musgrave, Miss M – Bickerstaff, Rev JA [D61]
Sexton Cup E. Sussex v W. Sussex , 21.06.1952

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Nbd7 5.e3 Be7 6.Nf3 0-0 7.Qc2 h6 8.Bh4 c5 9.Bd3 b6 10.0-0 Bb7 11.cxd5 exd5 12.Rac1 Ne4 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.Bxe4 dxe4 15.Nd2 Ba6 16.Rfe1 Bd3 17.Qb3 Rac8 18.Nd5 Qd6 19.Nf4 cxd4 20.Nxd3 dxe3 21.Nxe4 exf2+ 22.Ndxf2 Source: Rev J A Bickerstaff. Played on board 8 in the match at Brighton. 1-0

Est. 1882