Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

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John Saunders
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Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by John Saunders » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:14 pm

Whilst updating the HE Atkins file on BritBase, I came across a name that was unfamiliar to me - Bertie E Cohen. Brian Denman sent me the score of the game Cohen drew with Atkins in January 1926 in a Lancashire vs Yorkshire match. This was referred to in the Guardian as follows:
Manchester Guardian, 18 January 1926 wrote:Great interest was taken in the meeting of B. E. Cohen, the young Lancashire champion, and H. E. Atkins, the British champion.
This, incidentally, is the only occasion when I've found Cohen's name given with the middle initial "E". In newspaper match reports he is invariably "B. Cohen". An exception was in BCM when they reported the news of his county individual success:
BCM, September 1925, p377 wrote:The championship of Lancashire has been won by R. Cohen, a young member of Manchester Chess Club, who has rapidly come to the front. He defeated C. Y. C. Dawbarn in the semi-final and Dr. Edge in the final.
I am wondering whether the initial "R" there was simply a typo.

I found the forename "Bertie" in a spreadsheet at the Manchester Chess Federation site, listing officials of the MCF back to the year dot. It has "Bertie Cohen" as its 1928/29 president and that is surely our man.

Mike Conroy's A History of Lancashire Chess (2009) has some words about Cohen's 1925 county championship success:
A History of Lancashire Chess, p61 wrote:The county individual championship produced a surprise winner. B.Cohen, a member of Manchester Chess Club, who had only been on board 23 in the Yorkshire match, defeated Dawbarn in the semi-final and Dr.Edge in the final. He was a young player who achieved success very quickly but then retired from the game. Here are three of his wins from the event:-




I found one further game by Cohen - a loss to Alekhine in a simul in 1934...



We have to consider whether "Bertie" was his formal birth name. We know from other examples (e.g. Fred Yates) that an apparently informal forename can appear on the birth register, particularly in the north of England. (I have a formally-registered "Bertie" in my own family tree.) Another possibility is "Bertram" but I'm wondering whether we can rule out "Albert" and "Herbert" on the grounds that his initial is always given as "B" (except that one time in BCM when he was "R"). Age-wise I guess we may be looking for someone born a few years either side of 1900, given the references to him being young in 1925.

Anyway, I will be interested to see what forum members can add to what I've unearthed for Bertie Cohen so far.
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Mick Norris
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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:26 pm

Thanks John, that's prompted me to look at the spreadsheet and correct an error; if you do find any errors please let me know

Alan Burke prepared the original spreadsheets, he's very thorough; I'd imagine the info has come from research previously done by Alan Smith and/or Eric Nowell

The Manchester Presidents in the 20s were:

1919-20 William D. Bailey
1920-21 Arthur Eva
1921-22 Arthur Eva
1922-23 Herbert Learey
1923-24 Harold Hartley
1924-25 Lilian Letitia Barber
1925-26 William Henry Carruthers
1926-27 Hyman Lob
1927-28 Hugh Robert Cromarty
1928-29 Bertie Cohen
1929-30 Herbert Turner

He was succeeded by a Herbert as you can see, so that does suggest Bertie was the formal name

Normally when you see B.Cohen & R.Cohen it is mixing Robert and Bob I guess, may just be wrong here
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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by Richard James » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:38 pm

There's a Bertram Cohen (1904-1970) from Manchester - also known as Morris Bertram according to his probate record. In 1939 he was a Synagogue Secretary, living - appropriately if this was your man, in Penrose Street, with his parents, Joseph, a Cap Fitter (whatever that may entail) and Leah.

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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by John Saunders » Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:50 pm

Mick Norris wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:26 pm
The Manchester Presidents in the 20s were:

...
1924-25 Lilian Letitia Barber
Having raised the topic of Bertie Cohen, I'm now going to break the forum record for going off-topic as I was struck to see a female name amongst the MCF presidents in the 1920s! That must have been quite unusual for the time. I've just found her obit in BCM...
BCM, March 1944, p58 wrote:The death has been announced of Mrs. Barber, of Altrincham, who did a great deal during the past twenty years to keep Chess alive in the Altrincham district of Cheshire, and also assisted the Manchester Chess League.
Lilian Letitia Barber is clearly also due a slice of chess immortality. Born in Altrincham in 1872, maiden name Kalthoeber. The BCM obituary hints at her being a benefactor.

That's all I have. Back to the subject of Bertie... thanks, Mick.

Richard looks to have found our man.
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Alex McFarlane
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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by Alex McFarlane » Wed Mar 03, 2021 7:20 pm

I've known one or two Roberts who were called Bert. Certainly, when Bert was used it was very informal and Bob was the most common alternative to their names.
If that was the case here it could explain the R and B Cohen. (I accept this is unlikely.)

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by Gerard Killoran » Wed Mar 03, 2021 8:35 pm

Richard James wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:38 pm
There's a Bertram Cohen (1904-1970) from Manchester - also known as Morris Bertram according to his probate record. In 1939 he was a Synagogue Secretary, living - appropriately if this was your man, in Penrose Street, with his parents, Joseph, a Cap Fitter (whatever that may entail) and Leah.
If the cap fits...

Mick Norris
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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:04 pm

Richard James wrote:
Wed Mar 03, 2021 6:38 pm
There's a Bertram Cohen (1904-1970) from Manchester - also known as Morris Bertram according to his probate record. In 1939 he was a Synagogue Secretary, living - appropriately if this was your man, in Penrose Street, with his parents, Joseph, a Cap Fitter (whatever that may entail) and Leah.
There's a Penrose street not far from where I used to live here in Bolton; are we likely to be in postcode BL2, or are we talking about a street in Manchester that's no longer there?
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Mick Norris
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Re: Bertie Cohen - 1925 Lancashire Champion

Post by Mick Norris » Thu Mar 04, 2021 4:16 pm

Are we sure that Bertie is the same person as B.E. Cohen?

Alan Burke tells me that Bertie was on Council in 1926/27, before becoming Manchester President in 1928-29, which isn't impossible, but does seem unlikely for someone so young if we are talking about a birthdate of 1904 (obviously, the fact that we haven't had a lady President for almost 100 years does suggest that Manchester chess might have been ahead of its time in the 1920s)

He was President in 1928-29 and then continued as one of the Vice-Presidents until 1936. However, all the information Alan has only ever refers to him as just B. Cohen
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation www.manchesterchess.co.uk

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