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Henry Vickers White Trevenen (1921 - 1982)

H. V. W. Trevenen from Penzance was Cornwall's leading player in the period following the Second World War. Bob Jones, who writes the weekly chess column in the Western Morning News and maintains the Keverel Chess website on West Country chess, has kindly given permission to reproduce this article from 2011.

Back in March I referred to the lack of available information on the first West of England Champion in 1946, H. V. Trevenen, who was little more than a name in the record books. Since then I have unearthed a few more facts about him.

He was born Henry Vickers White Trevenen in May 1921, the son of Joseph, a stonemason, and Honor (nee White) and lived in the family home of 17, Holly Terrace, Heamoor, near Penzance.

At the end of WWII, he turned up in Bristol, where, without any known previous track record, he won the Championship of the strong Bristol & Clifton Club in their first post-war season. On the strength of this he was invited to join three "old guard" players to play in the first West of England Championship. If his win was unexpected, the same could not be said of his victories in 1948 and 1949, when the entry was extended to 8 invited players.

From 1950 to 1968, he was an occasional participant in the WECU Championship and played for Cornwall on top board. He won the Emigrant Cup in 1948, 1949, 1956 and 1968. However, as the years went by, his form fluctuated greatly as he struggled with mental illness. He was committed to the Cornwall Mental Asylum in Bodmin, the old St. Lawrence's Hospital. In fact, a chess club was listed at St. Lawrence's as early as 1950, participating in Cornish league matches, and this may be an indication that Trevenen was a patient at that early stage, and help to explain his irregular appearances and apparent under-performance after 1950. The exact nature of his illness is not clear, but when the problemist David Howard, tracked him down and visited him there in the late 1970s, he seemed pleasant enough and they chatted amiably for an hour on chess matters. He remained in Bodmin until the autumn of 1982 when he developed intestinal problems and was transferred to Treliske Hospital, Truro, for exploratory tests. Within a few days he had contracted pneumonia and died there on 10th November aged 61.

Trevenen's chess career was tragically cut short at both ends; the war prevented most competition in his formative years and ill-health had taken over by 1950. The result is that he is a largely forgotten man in spite of his considerable achievements.

Bob Jones
Western Morning News (23rd July, 2011)

Bob has also passed on a database containing 19 of H. V. W. Trevenen's games. This can be found here.