Amos Burn (1848-1925)

head and shoulders of man with chess set in foreground

The Invincible English Bulldog

Amos Burn was one of the strongest chess players of his time. He was also an eminent journalist, editing chess columns in the Liverpool newspapers 'Albion' and 'Courier' and national magazines. He was a member of the Liverpool Chess Club from 1867 until his death, serving as its president for many years.

Amos Burn was born in Hull in 1848. In 1862 he was apprenticed to a firm of Liverpool cotton brokers. He joined the Liverpool Chess Club in 1867 and quickly improved his play with practice against experts such as John Owen. In 1870 Burn entered the National Championship and tied for first place ahead of Owen. In the years 1873, 1874 and 1876 he won the Champion Cup, a tournament for leading provincial players. In 1886 he entered a tournament of leading British and European masters. To everyone's surprise Burn shared first place. Further success followed that year and the next. Suddenly Amos Burn had emerged as an international master!

Over the next twenty years, despite prolonged absences because of his work, Burn proved himself one of the strongest chess players in the world. In 1898 he achieved his greatest success at Cologne, finishing ahead of a world-class entry. In 1906 he played in a huge tournament at Ostend. Of this tournament, Gunsberg wrote:

"Burn was the wonder and admiration of all his fellow competitors. He did great credit to English chess and was generally known as the Invincible English Bulldog."

He competed in international tournaments until 1912. In 1913 he took over a prestigious chess column in 'The Field'. He was analysing a game for 'The Field' when he died from a stroke on 25th November 1925.

Amos Burn's obituary in 'The Field' described him as "of an exceedingly modest and retiring disposition" but added:

"those that were privileged to know him intimately found him a most delightful companion, quietly humorous and possessed of a rich fund of kindness and affection."

Find out more about chess in the North West today at the Merseyside Chess Association.

Two men playing chess at a small round table in a garden. Each has a small dog sitting by their feet.

Burn playing John Owen