Monday 14 May 2018

The strongest player you've never heard of

While doing some research on the 1876 Steinitz - Blackburne Match, I came across mention of a player I'm not sure I've ever really been aware of, John Wisker. According to the Chessmetrics website, he was the 4th ranked player in the world at that time, with an historical rating of 2623.  This high ranking was probably based on his two victories in the British Championship, in 1870 and 1872 (the last Championship until 1904 btw). However his career was cut short in 1876 when he contracted tuberculosis, which resulted in a move to Australia (and possibly making him Australia's highest ranked OTB player ever!). I'm not sure if he played any chess while living here (I cannot find any games), but he wrote a chess column for the Australasian, before passing away in 1884 in Melbourne.

Wisker,John - Zukertort,Johannes Hermann [C80]
Zukertort 1st game in ENGWestminsterCC London, 22.06.1872


pwa said...

He played in the Intercolonial for Victoria vs NSW in 1880 and 1883 but I haven’t looked for his games. In Queensland, soon after he arrived he played some blindfold simuls.

Shaun Press said...

I plan to ask ACF Archivist Paul Dunn if he anything available.

pwa said...

Wisker vs Russell is annotated by Wisker in the Australasian 12/6/1880

James said...

Here are a couple of links with some info. He played and lost a match against Fred Esling, 1885 Australian Champion, although there seem to be only partial game scores: Alas not even this score is accurate as Graham Clayton said the match was abandoned with Wisker leading. Some of Clayton's comments are here: