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Dr. Robert Dunstan – Cornishman (21.06.2014)

At the weekend I received a request for information about a Dr. R. Dunstan who was an active player in Devon for 25 year after 1904. It was a name I’d seen many times in the records but about whom I knew nothing, so I was prompted to do some research. It turned out he was one of the best Cornish players Cornwall never had.

He was the 8th of 9 children born to Robert, a Surveyor of Mines, and Anne, living at 68, Trevecca Cottages, Liskeard. He trained as a doctor at Guy’s Hospital, married Emily from Launceston soon after qualifying and had 4 children under the age of 6. He practiced in London until 1904 when he moved to Paignton. He flitted from club to club, playing for Torquay, Plymouth, Paignton, and Exeter at one time or another, and played for Devon, usually on top board. During WWI he was medical officer of troops in Paignton, probably at Oldway Mansion when it became a hospital for officers. In 1951 this became the home of the Paignton Chess Congress.

His two sons qualified as doctors and played chess, Walter becoming a member of the Teignmouth club and John getting 2 games published in the British Chess Magazine.

Here is one of the 10 games Robert had published in the BCM, this one from 1914 with notes by the then British Champion, F. D. Yates.

White: C. E. T. Jenkinson (Cornwall). Black: Dr. R. Dunstan (Devon).

Queen’s Gambit – Cambridge Springs Var. Orthodox Defence [D53].

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.e3 Ne4 6.Bxe7 Qxe7 7.Nxe4 This is not good positional judgement. The Black pawn on e4 is a useful wedge, delaying White’s development. In giving up command of the centre, White hands the initiative to Black. 7…dxe4 8.a3 0–0 9.Ne2 f5 10.Nc3 Nd7 11.Rc1 Here 11.Qc2 to be followed by 0–0–0 and f3 would have been better. The queenside counter-attack is too slow to be effective. 11…Nf6 12.Be2 Bd7 13.c5 Giving up command of d5. This comes in useful for Black later. Preferable was 0–0 followed by f3. 13…c6 14.0–0 Nd5 15.Bc4 Rf6 16.Nxd5 exd5 17.Ba2 f4 18.exf4 Rxf4 19.Qd2 Raf8 20.Rc3 Qf6 21.Rg3 h5 Now that Black’s heavy pieces are effectively placed, it only requires the advance if this pawn to complete an attack consistently carried through. 22.b4 h4 23.Rc3 Qg6 24.b5 Bg4 25.Bb1 Bf3 26.g3 Qg4 27.b6 Qh3 28.Rxf3 exf3 0–1

Last week’s elementary 2-mover by Mrs. Baird was solved by 1.Kf6! and depending where the Black king moves the rook will mate on either h3 or d8.

The English Chess Federation’s 2014 Yearbook contains an article on new problems first published last year and this one, by Barry Barnes, is one of the 2-movers.

White to play and mate in 2

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