James Wylie [sic] in literature!

General Discussion about the game of Checkers.

James Wylie [sic] in literature!

Postby Richard Pask on Sun Dec 07, 2014 3:58 am

Reference the fine chess book, Chess Pieces, by Norman Knight.

See entry number 99. There, in the opening to Sir James Matthew Barrie's play, What Every Woman Knows, we read an extended reference to James Wylie and his father engaged in a homely game of draughts!

Although James' father's name is given as Alick (it was Hugh I believe), and James' hair is described as red (incorrect?), the name chosen and the reference to a 'dambrod', surely point to our man.

Yet the author of the compilation, Mr Knight, concludes that the game referred to is actually chess! (He regards a reference to 'touch and move' as being conclusive! In addition, when he saw the play performed in 1908, chess was being played.)

I look forward to responses from the Wylie (Wyllie) experts!

Richard Pask
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Re: James Wylie [sic] in literature!

Postby George Hay on Sun Dec 07, 2014 9:34 am

Richard Pask, I respond as a checkers student, and IMHO, Sir James Mathew Barrie is definitely referring to draughts (checkers),
and not chess. J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, was born in Scotland in 1860. In Barrie's 1908 play What Every Woman Knows, James Wylie and his father play a game on the "dambrod" and are "dambrod players" and the pieces are called "man" and "crown."
They do play with the rule "for if he touches the piece he has to play it." That rule of course is in Andrew Anderson's
The Game Of Draughts Simplified (Glasgow, 1852) page xii. This quote is from Geo. H. Limbrey's The Ancient History Of The Game Of Draughts (London, 1913) page 29:

The Scotch call the board the "drambrod" (ladies board) to this day.

But it is the spirit of the times, the popularity of draughts, aka checkers, in the English Speaking Countries in general,
and Scotland in particular, that lead me to believe that it was Draughts, not Chess, that was being played by the Wylies.
As for chess being played on stage, that was an unfortunate use of props!

The real James Wyllie was born in Scotland in 1818 and died in 1899. He was for many years the Draughts World Champion with many famous matches. He was an innovator and toured the world in draughts exhibitions.

This is a link to the play What Every Woman Knows by J.M. Barrie with word search capability from Google Books:

http://books.google.com/books?id=jkJMAA ... &q&f=false

The only Queen I have found is Mary Queen of Scots. :)

--George Hay
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Re: James Wylie [sic] in literature!

Postby George Hay on Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:36 am

The charming Helen Hayes stars as Maggie Wylie in the 1934 film adaptation of What Every Woman Knows.
The movie gets good reviews, but is not available on DVD. However, I did vote for this movie to be released on DVD.
http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/3196/Wha ... man-Knows/

--George Hay
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