was the middle of Thomas Winter-Wood's three children, his older brother being
Edward and younger sister Elena, all four being significant Pioneers. The
unusual Christian name was taken from one of his mediaeval ancestors. His family
background is described in his father's portrait, elsewhere on this page.
returning from his family's wanderings on the continent, he spent most of
the1870s in the London area, as did his brother, Edward, and like him, joined
the City of London Chess Club, arguably the greatest collection of top chess
players in one place at that time.
1880 he settled for a time in Torquay, where he took up residence with his
mother's brother, Major Sole of the 5th West York Militia, the son of
Edwin Sole, a Devonport solicitor.
conjunction with the Rev. H. C. Briggs and Morton Sparke he founded the Torquay
Chess Club in about 1880, well before the Plymouth Club (1888) and the Exeter
Club (1895). On 22nd November 1882 he started a successful chess
column in the local paper, the Torquay Directory.
living in Torquay, he was asked by the Rev. George A. MacDonnell in 1885 to
assist in the erection in Torquay cemetery of a memorial to Cecil de Vere, the
first British chess champion, who had died of TB in the town in 1875. The full
story of this is told in the book by Hindle & Jones, "The English
Morphy"? In short, 10 years
after De Vere's death, MacDonnell launched an appeal for money to pay for a suitable
memorial to the pioneer. Carslake was the local contact, and arranged for the
memorial, a stone obelisk of a kind popular at the time, to be made, paid for
was it that the great G. A. MacDonnell should know of Carslake's whereabouts and
presume upon him in this way? In fact, both MacDonnell and De Vere had been
fellow members of the City of London Chess Club for some years and Carslake
would have known both.
this point it is worth considering a photograph taken in the summer of 1873 at a
garden party at the home of the club president, H. F. Gastineau.
has appeared in several chess history books and shows a small selection of the
40 guests. Steinitz (lame) and De Vere (clearly showing the signs of the TB from
which he was to die within months) are seated either side of the host. Standing
at the back are (left - right) unknown (Fred Wilson in his Picture History of
Chess names him as Baron Kolisch, but this is wrong); Bernard Horwitz;
William Norwood Potter; L÷wenthal; unknown (Wilson calls him Bird, but he is
wrong again - Bird was bald at this time); Blackburne and finally someone
referred to as "an unknown amateur".
"unknown amateur" bears more than a passing resemblance to Carslake
Winter-Wood. There is no firm evidence, of course, but what clues are there?
was 24 at this time, and the amateur looks about that age. He was a paid up club
member and fully entitled to be present. Carslake was seriously into
photography, later becoming Treasurer of the Torquay Camera Society. The amateur
is situated at the end of the standing line and his body language (look at the
left arm) suggests that he is somehow concerned with the actual taking of the
picture, and has set up the shot either for someone else to press the shutter
button, or as a time-lapse shot. Not everyone would agree with this
interpretation, of course, but it is worth considering before rejecting. What do
1891 he started the chess column in the Western Morning News, where he wrote
under the nome de plume "Queen's Knight". This increased his
readership from just Torquay to the
whole of Devon and Cornwall. This was followed in 1898 by an Exeter-based column
in the Devon & Exeter Gazette by a secretive "King's Rook".
was always serious as a player, in that he did not play a great many games, but
those that he did he aimed to learn as much as he could from them. He didn't
involve himself in skittles or off-hand games. In the spring of 1896 he played
18 games in the Plymouth Club's Gambit Tournament, and won them all. In 1891, he
played H. E. Bird in a simultaneous match, and drew his game.
1880, he was, like his siblings, attracted to problem composition, getting over
100 two-movers published in the leading chess columns of the time.
a letter of 1897 written to Frederick Gittins, compiler of The Chess Bouquet,
Carslake wrote :- "One thing which strikes me as very unfair to chess is
that, while those who in the merest way distinguish themselves in pastimes where
physical ability is called into play, are interviewed, portrayed, and in other
ways made prominent by the leading periodicals, one finds that those who master
the great mental science of chess are almost entirely ignored by them; strange,
indeed, that a man or woman, who can handle a golf club, a tennis racquet, a
cricket bat or a billiard cue, should be considered more worthy of honour than
he or she who can master the thousands of variations and intricacies of the
science of chess". It could
have been written today.
aged c. 50.
seems to have withdrawn somewhat from chess activity in the last two decades of
his life, possibly giving more of his time to other interests. In 1894 he
retired from office at the Plymouth Club, while his father and brother remained
as Club Presidents for a further 22 years. In 1906 the Western Morning News
chess column stopped for a time, though whether this was his or the Editor's
decision, is not recorded. Up to the time of his death, he continued, along with
21 others, to pay an annual subscription of half a guinea to the D.C.C.A. which
made him a Vice President. Apart from this, there is little evidence of activity
His brother, Edward, on the other hand, was President of the DCCA for 13
years, right up to the time of his death in 1920.
the end of his life, Carslake returned to Paignton and lived with his widowed
sister, Edith (Mrs. W. J. Baird). She died unexpectedly on 1st
February 1924, and he followed just three weeks later, bringing the curtain down
on a Devon chess dynasty that had lasted for the best part of a century.
F. R: The Chess Bouquet Fielden 1897