Rev Charles Edward Ranken (1828-1905)
A short biography by Raymond A Collett

Worcester City has fielded players of national stature during its long history. One of the earliest English players of national significance was Reverend C E Ranken. He was born in Brislington near Bristol. Although he learned chess when he was a schoolboy, he did not become a strong player until he was at Wadham College, Oxford. After ordination, he was priest at St.John's Richmond, then curate at Sandford-on-Thames near Oxford. He moved to Malvern in 1871 and remained there until his death on 12 April 1905.

His tournament career is summarised below with his best tournament result being first at Malvern in the Counties Chess Association's 1872 Challenge Cup. The Counties Chess Association was organised for amateur players outside London. Ranken and several other clerics (Coker, Owen, Skipworth and Wayte) were frequent competitors.

Placing Tournament Location
Provincial tournament London
Challenge Cup, Yorkshire Chess Association York
Challenge Cup, Counties' Chess Association Malvern
First Class, Counties' Chess Association Birmingham
Challenge Cup, Counties' Chess Association Glasgow
Chief Tournament Grantham
Handicap, Counties' Chess Association Birmingham
First Class, Counties' Chess Association London
Counties' Chess Association Boston
Counties' Chess Association Leamington Spa
Vizayanagaram London
. Hereford



Ranken was a member of the short-lived Hermes Chess Club in Oxford before founding the Oxford University Chess Club. At the inaugural meeting held at his rooms in Wadham College on 23 April 1869, he was elected as its first President. Ranken participated in many correspondence matches and won first prize in the British Chess Association's 1872 competition. Some of his correspondence games were with players in the United States.

In common with other clergy of the period Ranken was a senior member of the professional class of his locality and he was President of the Worcestershire Naturalists Club 1898-1902.

Among British players of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries he was best known as a writer on chess. He was an editor of The Chess Player's Chronicle 1877-1880, and a member of the editorial staff of the British Chess Magazine responsible for the analysis of games. With E Freeborough, he co-authored Chess Openings Ancient and Modern (1889) This work was an evolution of Cook's Synopsis (1882) and a predecesser of Modern Chess Openings.

The principal sources for information in this page were:
  - Hoffer, L (1891). Chess Monthly XII, pages 248, 258, 272-279. (May)
  - Sergeant, PW (1934). A Century of British Chess. London: Hutchinson.
If you have corrections, more information, or further game scores from Rev Ranken's career, please let me know using the feedback form.
Very many thanks - Ray

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Last updated 3 July 2003 by Ray Collett