SHEFFIELD Chess History



Victor Brentnall Rush

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22/08/1874, Braintree, Essex




15/02/1951, Hastings


21/02/1951, Charing, Kent


A photograph of him in China in 1937 may be found at


Non-Chess Life


Victor Brentnall Rush was born in Braintree, Essex, on 22/08/1874 to master draper Arthur Rush (b. 1843, South Lopham, Norfolk) and Susanna Atkinson Rush (née, Spensley, 1852, Middlesbrough) who had married in 1873 at Middleborough, and went on to have at least the following children.


Victor Brentnall Rush

born 22/08/1874, Braintree, Essex

Percy Elliott Rush

birth reg. Q3 1875, Barnstaple, Devon

Calvert Spensley Rush

birth reg. Q1 1878, Barnstaple, Devon

Maude Marian Rush

birth reg. Q3 1881, Barnstaple,Devon

Cecil Arthur Rush

birth reg. Q1 1887, Westbury‑on‑Trym, Gloucs.

Susanna Marion Rush

birth reg. Q2 1889, Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucs.

Gladys Stanley Rush

birth reg. Q2 1890, Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucs.


Where Victor’s middle name Brentnall came from is unclear, and why Gladys was saddled with Stanley as a middle name is unclear.


While Victor was still very young his family moved to Barnstaple, Devon, where his father traded as Arthur Rush & Co., milliners, tailors, & linen & woollen drapers, at 9-10 Joy Street, Barnstaple – as recorded in White’s Devon directory of 1878-79.  The 1881 census found the family living at this address, and recorded father Arthur as employing 14 workers.


At some time from 1881 to 1887 the family moved to Westbury-on-Trym, to the north-east of Bristol into which it is now incorporated.  There appears to have been another Rush family in the same registration district (Barton Regis) reproducing children at the same time as this one, suggesting father Arthur had a brother living in the same area.  The 1891 census found the parents and all the above 7 children apart from Victor, along with 2 servants, living in White Ladies Road, Westbury on Trym, Gloucestershire.  Father Arthur was still a draper.


Young Victor had followed his father into the drapery trade, though seemingly not working for his father, as the 1891 census found 16-year-old Victor to be a draper’s assistant lodging in St Helen’s Street, Derby.


Chess records show that later in the 1890s Victor moved to Sheffield, in his mother’s native county of Yorkshire.  Writing in 1935, Yorkshire Telegraph & Star chess columnist William Batley referred to Victor Rush having long ago lived in Sheffield.  Chess records place him in Sheffield as early as March 1896, and a report published on 05/01/1898, of tournament results, records Victor Rush as hailing from Sheffield.  While in Sheffield he used his middle initial “B”, but thereafter he seemingly stopped using it.


Victor’s parents had evidently by this time moved to Mile End, London, and it has here that father Arthur Rush died in 1898.  It is likely to have been around this time, possibly to be near his mother after his father’s death, that Victor moved from Sheffield to London.


The 1901 census found widowed mother Susanna living with unmarried sister Mary Ann Spensley (born 1847, Middlesbrough), and Calvert and Maude, along with two servants, in Mile End Old Town, London.  Meanwhile, Victor was found to be a draper’s assistant living in lodgings in Kensington Town, London.


Later in 1901, Victor moved to Hastings, joining the chess club there in therein 1901, but this initial residence there (he was to return) was brief, as he was by January 1903, if not before, resident in Derby.


He stayed in Derby long enough to get significantly embroiled in the local chess scene, but around April 1905 he moved once again, this time back to the London area.  He was perhaps returning to live with his mother, as the 1911 census found him living with his mother (a widow with private means), his mother’s unmarried sister Mary Ann Spensley, and siblings Maud, Cecil, Susanna and Gladys, in Forest Gate, West Ham, Essex.  Victor was, as ever, a draper’s assistant.


Victor might well have gone on to work in the drapery business until his retirement, but for the intervention of world war, when he joined the Royal Army Service Corps.  In fact all four sons joined up.


Victor Rush of the Rifle Brigade was very badly wounded at St Jean, during the Second Battle of Ypres (22 April to 25 May 1915).  In time, he got transferred back to England and was admitted to East Ham Cottage Hospital, which was conveniently near his home.  A description of his injuries appeared in the British Chess Magazine, along with a photograph taken outside the hospital, showing him sitting before a chess board.


In due course the chess press published content of a letter written by Victor from the hospital, quoting him as saying he had had

“a very close call - nearly mate!”


“but the greatest kindness, skill, and care, and a good constitution have pulled me through.  I was three days unconscious, and had oxygen pumped into me, and my right lung will be partially closed for some time.  My right shoulder was ripped up, and my back down to my left thigh raked with shrapnel, but these wounds are doing grandly!  Very shortly I shall be an out-patient (I'm close to my home), and shall come along every day to be dressed!”


Having eventually recovered, he was transferred in 1919 to the Corps of Military Accountants, and when in 1925 this was disbanded, he was transferred to the Royal Army Pay Corps.  With the army he travelled to all five continents.  While in combative service he had been a rifleman.  Thereafter he was recorded, inter alia, as a Lance-Corporal (1916), Sergeant (1921 through to 1941).


He appears to have remained in London up to 1922, when there is an enigmatic reference in the Western Daily Press to “Victor Rush (Pembroke Dock)” playing in a chess event, so perhaps he was for a brief period posted to south-west Wales.


In August 1923 he was reported as hailing from Hereford, suggesting another army posting.


On 26/01/1929, the Illustrated London News answered a correspondent “Victor Rush (York)” with the words, “Unfortunately, your letter did not come to hand till you had left London.”  This suggests a posting to York.


In 1935 he was in Hong Kong.


In 1937 he was apparently in China.


The Hastings and St Leonards Observer, on 17/03/1945, reported, “Victor Rush hopes to settle in Hastings in about two months’ time.”  That seems not to have come to pass.


He retired from the army in 1946, with the rank of Staff Sergeant.  He settled in Hastings in June 1946, according to the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 17/02/1951, and resided thereafter at Glenroyde Hotel, Wellington Square, Hastings.


He was reported as experiencing ill-health in early 1948, and at some stage was admitted to a nursing home.




Victor Brentnall Rush died at Hastings on 15/02/1951, and was cremated on 21/02/1951, at Charing, Kent.  (Hastings crematorium did not open until 1956).


The following is from the crematorium’s on-line book of remembrance.





The first time Victor Rush joined a chess club may have been in Sheffield.  He played for the Sheffield & DCA team when it played against the Sheffield Athenaeum Chess Club in 1896.


He reportedly joined Hastings Chess Club in 1901, and is recorded playing in matches for that club, besides apparently winning the club’s Section A competition in 1902.


On 10/01/1903 he played for Derbyshire against Leicestershire.  Later in January 1903 he became secretary of Derby Mechanics Institute Chess Club, and in 1904 was recorded as supporting the idea of a chess league in Derby.  Round about October 1904, he took over the chess column in the Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal., though he gave it up after the end of the 1904-05 season, as he was leaving Derby.  In 1905 he won outright a set of carved ivory chess men by winning a club tournament for the third time.  He reportedly won the Derbyshire Championship, though records of tat event are not easy to find.  After leaving Derby for London in 1905, he continued serving as an adjudicator in Derby.


On Wednesday 29/04/1908 he played against Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous display given by the latter at the City of London Chess Club.  Lasker won 9 games, drew 10 and lost to Victor Rush as follows:  (Click here to play through the game on screen.)

1. e4 e5 2. f4 Bc5 3. Nf3 d6 4. Nc3 Nc6 5. Bb5 Bg4 6. d3 a6 7. Bxc6+ bxc6 8. h3 Bc8 9. Qe2 Qe7 10. Be3 Bxe3 11. Qxe3 exf4 12. Qxf4 Nf6 13. O-O O-O 14. d4 Nh5 15. Qd2 Bd716.Rae1 Rfe8 17. Rf2 f6 18. Kh2 g5 19. e5 g4 20. Qh6 (an embarrassing oversight) g3+ 21. Kg1 gxf2+ 22. Kxf2 Qf7 23. Ne4 Re6 24. exf6 Rae8 25. Nfg5 Rxe4 26. Nxf7 Rf4+ 27. Kg1 Rxe1+ 28. Kh2 Rxf6 29. Qg5+ Rg6 30. Qxh5 Kxf7 31. Qxh7+ Rg7 32. Qh4 Re6 33. Qd8 Re7 34. Qa8 Re2 0-1


He played in the Sussex Congress of June 1909, drawing with C. H. Macpherson (Tunbridge Wells) for first place in Section A.  He was later in tournament play in August 1909.


While in London he played for Metropolitan, Layton (of which he was treasurer), and Toynbee CC (of which he was vice-president).  During this period he was one of a group who liked to play Kriegspiel (in which you are not told your opponent’s moves!) with the likes of J. F Allcock, E. W. Osler and H. J. S. Stevenson.  Some of his subsequent letters from the front apparently mentioned Kriegspiel with the result that the censor obliterated the word lest it reveal something which should be kept secret!


Victor had a pocket chess set with him in the trenches.


After the war, while living in London, he continued to play in individual competitions.


While he was in Hong Kong, he entered the 1935 Hong Kong Championship, coming second.  The finish to one of his games in this competition was published in the chess press back home, for instance in the Yorkshire Telegraph & Star of 07/12/1935, in which the chess columnist, William Batley of Sheffield recalled the fact that Victor Rush had long ago lved and played chess in Sheffield.  The game in question ended in a mate in 7 moves from the following position:


White to move and mate in 7.

Click on the key to reveal the answer.


The obituary in the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 17/02/1951 included the following, which describes his involvement with Hastings Chess Club, and the Hastings congress:


He first joined the club in 1901, re-joining in 1946.  He was Hon. Assistant Secretary up to the time of his death.  He rendered a great service to the Christmas International Congress, and was always ready to welcome visitors to the club and to play against beginners as well as the advanced players.


Since coming to Hastings Mr Rush has been in almost daily attendance at the club and his cheery words of welcome will be much missed.


Apart from being a first-class player he was a problemist of international repute, both as composer and solver, and many of his original problems have been published in the ‘Observer'.  He possessed a very keen sight of the board.  He was also a first-class bridge player.


Mr Rush's Army career of 32 years took him to many parts of the world, including Malaya, Japan, the United States, South America and Jamaica, and it was his boast that he had played on the five Continents and, amongst other capitals in Moscow, Constantinople, Vienna, Berlin and Paris.  He had played against many of the leading players of the world.  Although he was never a tournament player, he was always keen on arranging tournaments and played for the club in friendly matches and, as a younger man, for Essex.






Copyright © 2020 Stephen John Mann

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