There must be some gene in the Devonian make-up that compels them to go to the other side of the world on crackpot missions looking for vast quantities of gold. This was first displayed by Sir Walter Raleigh, late of East Budleigh, who in 1617 led a second expedition up the Orinoco in search of the fabled city of El Dorado. It was a doomed venture and many of his men, including his only son, Watt, died in the attempt. Raleigh reported back to King James I, who had him executed for his failure.
300 years later gold fever broke out again when Col. Percy Fawcett, born in Torquay and brought up in Teignmouth, led several expeditions into the Brazilian interior on the same mission. The very name El Dorado was, by this time, tainted, so Fawcett called it the Lost City of Z. Out this week is a major film of the story. Like Raleigh, Fawcett took his son on his final expedition, which simply vanished without trace. Several expeditions were subsequently sent to look for the expedition that was looking for gold, but no trace of Fawcett or cities of gold has ever been found.
Meanwhile, Percy’s older brother, Douglas was living a life every bit as exotic as his sibling. He was a pioneering science fiction writer well ahead of H. G. Wells, philosopher, mountaineer, photographer, racing motor cyclist and motorist. For many more details on his life visit keverelchess/biographies/edouglas fawcett.
He was also a keen chess player all his long life, last playing at Paignton in 1959.
In 1904 he took part in a special Rice Gambit tournament, financed by the US millionaire, Isaac Rice, who had devised a gambit in a line of the King’s Gambit and wished to test it out with top players.
White: D. Fawcett. White: James Mortimer
Kings Gambit – Rice Gambit [C39]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 g5 4.h4 g4 5.Ne5 Nf6 6.Bc4 d5 7.exd5 Bd6 8.0–0 White is gambitting not just a pawn but his central knight. 8…Bxe5 All games in this tournament had to start from this position. 9.Re1 Qe7 This was the defence most favoured by Black in the tournament, and was Prof. Rice’s own choice. 10.c3 and this was White’s preferred response. 10…g3 11.d4 Ng4 12.Bxf4 Bxf4 Less favoured by computer analysis is 12…Qxh4 13.Qf3 Qh2+ 14.Kf1 f6 15.dxe5 fxe5 16.Bxe5 Qh1+ 17.Ke2 Nxe5 18.Qf6 leaving Black’s Queen, rook & knight all attacked. 13.Rxe7+ Kxe7 14.Qf3 Be3+ 15.Kh1 f5 16.d6+ cxd6 17.Qd5 Rf8 18.Na3 Nf6 19.Qf3 f4 20.Re1 Nc6 21.Qxf4 Ng4 22.Rxe3+ Nce5 23.Qg5+ Ke8 24.dxe5 d5 25.Bb5+ Bd7 26.Bxd7+ Kxd7 27.Qxg4+ 1–0 The check is vital, giving White time to cover Black’s threatened back rank mate.
In last week’s position (above) it’s Black’s knight that is trying to hold everything together, but unsuccessfully as White won easily after 1.RexB and if 1…NxR 2.Rb7+ forcing 2…RxR 3.PxR and the pawn cannot be stopped from queening.
In this position White is facing a strong attack. How should he proceed?