Cecil Purdy

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Cecil Purdy
Full nameCecil John Seddon Purdy
Born(1906-03-27)27 March 1906
Port Said, Egypt
Died6 November 1979(1979-11-06) (aged 73)
Sydney, Australia
TitleInternational Master (1951)
ICCF Grandmaster (1953)
ICCF World Champion1950–53

Cecil John Seddon Purdy (27 March 1906,[1] Port Said, Egypt – 6 November 1979, Sydney, Australia) was an Australian chess International Master (IM), writer, and inaugural World Correspondence Chess champion. Purdy earned the Grandmaster of Correspondence Chess title in 1953. He was also an influential chess magazine writer, editor, and publisher.


When he was a child, Purdy moved with his family from Egypt to New Zealand, and then to Tasmania, Australia, before they settled in Sydney when he was 12, where he was educated at Cranbrook School. While in Tasmania, one of his classmates was future film star Errol Flynn.

He began his chess career at the age of 16, and he soon decided to become a full-time chess writer and player. Initially an over-the-board (OTB) player, he soon began to mix OTB play with correspondence play. He was a four-time winner of the Australian Chess Championship, in 1935, 1937, 1949, and 1951. He won the first two Australian Correspondence Chess Championships, in 1938 and 1945. He also won the New Zealand Chess Championship in 1924/25. In Auckland of 1952, Purdy drew a hard-fought match with Ortvin Sarapu, at the time by far the best player in New Zealand. They were thus declared Australasian co-champions.

He was married in 1934 to Anne Crakanthorp (1915–2013), the daughter of two-time Australian Chess Champion Spencer Crakanthorp. The marriage produced two children, John (1935–2011) and Diana. John Purdy followed in his father's (and grandfather's) footsteps in winning the Australian Chess Championship in 1955 and 1963. Diana was also a keen chess player, and she married leading New Zealand player Frank Hutchings in 1960.

Purdy founded and edited the magazine Australasian Chess Review (1929–1944); this became Check (1944–45), and finally Chessworld (1946–1967). He was described by Bobby Fischer as being a great chess instructor. Some of his writings are still in print. He is famous for having said "Pawn endings are to chess as putting is to golf."

In 1976 he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to chess.


Purdy died from an aneurysm while playing chess over the board; his final words were allegedly "I have a win, but it will take some time" (Dunne 1991:119). However, Australian grandmaster Ian Rogers reports that Purdy's last words were "I have to seal a move", and that Purdy "wasn't even winning in the final position — Cecil wouldn't have mistaken a drawn position for a winning position."[2]


  • Purdy, C.J.S. (2003), C.J.S. Purdy on the Endgame, Thinker's Press, ISBN 1-888710-03-9
  • Purdy, C.J.S. (1972), How Fischer Won: World Chess championship, 1972, E. J. Dwyer, ISBN 978-0855742089
  • Purdy, C.J.S. (1950), Guide To Good Chess, Horwitz


  1. ^ The Times, May 26, 1906, p.1 - His year of birth is incorrectly given as 1907 in several publications, including Chessworld (1960), The Encyclopedia Of Chess (Sunnucks, 1976), and The Encyclopedia Of Chess (Golombek, 1977). The (London) Times (Births announcements) of May 26, 1906, p.1 reports—"PURDY - On the 27th March, 1906, at Port Said, to Emily and J.S. Purdy M.D., F.R.G.S., Surg.-Capt. New Zealand Militia, a son (Cecil John Seddon)"
  2. ^ Meeting of the Ken Whyld Association (an international guild of chess historians and collectors), 10 October 2009
  • Dunne, Alex (1991), The Complete Guide to Correspondence Chess, Thinker's Press, ISBN 0-938650-52-1

Further reading[edit]

  • J. Hammond and R Jamieson, C.J.S. Purdy: His Life, His Games and His Writings, Belmont Printing Co. Melbourne 1982
  • C.J.S.Purdy, Frank Hutchings and Kevin Harrison, How Purdy Won: The Correspondence Chess Career of a World Champion, Castle Books 1983, ISBN 0-7255-1439-6

External links[edit]

Preceded by
World Correspondence Chess Champion
Succeeded by
Viacheslav Ragozin