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Cecil Valentine De Vere

De Vere c.1865
Full name Cecil Valentine De Vere
Born 14 February 1846

Cecil Valentine De Vere (14 February 1846, London - 9 February 1875, Torquay) was the winner of the first official British Chess Championship, in 1866.

He was born Valentine John Cecil De Vere Mathews in 1846; it is likely that he was the illegitimate son of William Cecil De Vere, a naval officer and son of the second Baronet of Curragh. His mother was Katherine Mathews, a Welsh-born household servant.He played chess effortlessly and elegantly without recourse to chess study or theory; in this respect he was not unlike José Raúl Capablanca. His meteoric rise to fame and equally dramatic decline has been compared to Paul Morphy and he is often cited as 'The English Morphy'. His great natural talent for the game was attended by an equal indolence for work. Cecil De Vere contracted tuberculosis around 1867 and later became dependent on alcohol. He lived in London for most of his life but was sent to Torquay by his chess friends in 1874 in the vain hope of recuperation. He died in Torquay, UK, aged 29, and is buried there.