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H. V. Trevenen – the Forgotten Champion (23.07.2011.)

Back in March I referred to the lack of available information on the first West of England Champion in 1946, H. V. Trevenen, who was little more than a name in the record books. Since then I have unearthed a few more facts about him.

He was born Henry Vickers White Trevenen in May 1921, the son of Joseph, a stonemason, and Honor (nèe White) and lived in the family home of 17, Holly Terrace, Heamoor, near Penzance.

At the end of WWII, he turned up in Bristol, where, without any known previous track record, he won the Championship of the strong Bristol & Clifton Club in their first post-war season. On the strength of this he was invited to join three “old guard” players to play in the first West of England Championship. If his win was unexpected, the same could not be said of his victories in ‘48 & ’49, when the entry was extended to 8 invited players.

From 1950–‘68, he was an occasional participant in the WECU Championship and played for Cornwall on top board. He won the Cornish Championship in 1948, ’49, ‘56 and ‘68.  However, as the years went by, his form fluctuated greatly as he struggled with mental illness. He was committed to the Cornwall Mental Asylum in Bodmin, the old St. Lawrence’s Hospital. In fact, a chess club was listed at St. Lawrence’s as early as 1950, participating in Cornish league matches, and this may be an indication that Trevenen was a patient at that early stage, and help to explain his irregular appearances and apparent under-performance after 1950. The exact nature of his illness is not clear, but when the problemist David Howard, tracked him down and visited him there in the late 1970s, he seemed pleasant enough and they chatted amiably for an hour on chess matters. He remained in Bodmin until the autumn of 1982 when he developed intestinal problems and was transferred to Treliske Hospital, Truro, for exploratory tests. Within a few days he had contracted pneumonia and died there on 10th November aged 61.

Trevenen’s chess career was tragically cut short at both ends; the war prevented most competition in his formative years and ill-health had taken over by 1950. The result is that he is a largely forgotten man in spite of his considerable achievements

Due to a mix-up, the diagram given on 18th June was incorrect and did not match the solution given the following week – apologies for that. The solution to last week’s problem was 1.Bd5+ Pxd5 (forced) 2.Qf5 mate.

Here is another original 2-mover, just sent in by David Howard of East Harptree, who says it’s not too difficult.

White to mate in 2