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Cecil Purdy

Full name Cecil John Seddon Purdy
Country Australia
Born 27 March 1906
Port Said, Egypt
Title International Master (1951)
ICCF Grandmaster (1953)
ICCF World Champion 1950-53

Cecil John Seddon Purdy (27 March 1906, 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.


As a child he moved with his family from Egypt to New Zealand, 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 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 four times 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 1952, he 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, 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 chessplayer, and 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 somewhat famous for saying "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, with his final words allegedly being "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."