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James Alexander Robertson
Number of games in database: 11
Years covered: 1841 to 1867
Overall record: +3 -8 =0 (27.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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B40 Sicilian (2 games)
C20 King's Pawn Game (2 games)
C50 Giuoco Piano (2 games)

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(born May-28-1803, died Sep-01-1874, 71 years old) United Kingdom

[what is this?]

James Robertson was born in Blair Atholl, Perthshire, Scotland, as the 1st son of General William Robertson of Lude* (1760-1820) and Margaret Haldane (1785-1805). After his father’s death he sold the Lude estate (1821) and entered the British Army 82nd Regiment (1823), where he was Lieutenant (1825), Captain (1832), Major (1848), Lieutenant-Colonel (1854) and Brevet-Colonel (1857). He commanded the 82nd Regiment at Sebastopol (1855-1856), for which he received the Crimea Medal. During the Indian Rebellion# of 1857, an incident happened: he was “ordered to take ground to his right and maintain the position, but after marching to the spot indicated, the Lieut.-Colonel took upon himself to entrust this duty to his Adjutant, Gore Browne, who held the ground all day.” After this he lost the command of the regiment. He “retired by sale” in 1858.

James was never married, and had no children. After retirement he went back to Scotland, where he authored the books Comitatus de Atholia (the Earldom of Atholl, 1860), Concise Historical Proofs respecting the Gael of Alban (1865) and The Gaelic Topography of Scotland (1869).

His chess is favorably mentioned already in the Le Palamède (1842), and around 1850 he was President of the Ryde Chess Club in Isle of Wight. He played in the Provincial Tournament section of London (1851), and else in various places depending on where his regiment was located. His style of play was "essentially hard, and therefore not easily defeated. He is more defensive than attacking; but, when he attacks, generally maintains his assault in a very vigorous and pains-taking manner". Since 1860 he lived near to and frequented the Edinburgh Chess Club. Several games from there have been preserved. He played in all three sections of the Dundee Congress (1867). He left behind “diaries tightly written in a very small hand, very difficult to read and which over his final days lodging at 118 Princes Street in Edinburgh suggest a rather sad end”.

Main sources:, The Chess Tournament - London 1851 by Howard Staunton, The Chess Player's Chronicle, Hart’s Annual Army List for 1858, Historical Record of the 82nd Regiment, online newspapers.

*Wikipedia article: William Robertson of Lude #Wikipedia article: Indian Rebellion of 1857

 page 1 of 1; 11 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. J Robertson vs E Williams 0-1251841corr Portsmouth-BristolC21 Center Game
2. E Williams vs J Robertson  1-0281841corr Portsmouth-BristolC53 Giuoco Piano
3. J Robertson vs C E Ranken  0-1351851Provincial tC50 Giuoco Piano
4. C E Ranken vs J Robertson  1-0361851Provincial tC01 French, Exchange
5. J C Fraser vs J Robertson 0-1351863Edinburgh Chess ClubC23 Bishop's Opening
6. J Robertson vs G MacDonnell 0-1581867Dundee CongressC20 King's Pawn Game
7. J Robertson vs G Neumann 0-1261867Dundee CongressC50 Giuoco Piano
8. J Robertson vs G B Fraser  1-0321867Dundee CongressC20 King's Pawn Game
9. J Robertson vs Blackburne 0-1291867Dundee CongressC27 Vienna Game
10. J C Fraser vs J Robertson 0-1311867Dundee CongressB40 Sicilian
11. De Vere vs J Robertson  1-0321867Dundee CongressB40 Sicilian
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Robertson wins | Robertson loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: From

"Lastly, the papers belonging to Colonel James Alexander Robertson which were among the records of the Edinburgh solicitors, Skene, Edwards and Garson, WS. which were deposited at the National Archives of Scotland have only recently been catalogued. They include a list of the Lude Charters and Writs compiled by James Robertson, probably as part of the work for his publication Comitatus de Atholia: the earldom of Atholl, (1860). The list was brought right up to date with his various military ranks until he left the army in 1857. It would seem that at the time of his father, General Robertson's death, James was at school in England where his father had been the area military commander. Shortly afterwards he commenced his own military career with a posting to Australia. Most of these records though relate to James Robertson's personal military career and subsequent retirement when he was at the time commanding a regiment in India. They include his diaries tightly written in a very small hand, very difficult to read and which over his final days lodging at 118 Princes Street in Edinburgh suggest <a rather sad end with his main entertainment participating in a chess club.>"


"Colonel James Alexander Robertson, <sometime of the 82nd Regiment>, died in 1874. He was a son of General William Robertson of Lude, and was the last representative of that ancient family. He was the author of Comitatus de Atholia, the Earldom of Atholl (privately printed, 1860); Concise Historical Proofs respecting the Gael of Alban (1865), and The Gaelic Topography of Scotland (1869)."

From Staunton 1852, "The Chess Tournament":

"Robertson, Major, <82nd Regiment>" (in subsription list) and

"In the mean time, the provincial matches had also been decided. The second of June was the day appointed for the gathering of tbe combatants in these contests, but [---] of amateurs had entered their names and paid their subscriptions, very few appeared in the list on the day of meeting. The paucity of their number is chiefly owing to the idea which seemed to possess every one, that a whole legion of competitors would be arrayed for these combats. Dreading the delay which they apprehended would be the consequence of such a host of players entering, most of the provincial amateurs who had enrolled themselves, were absent at the appointed meeting; ten only made their appearance in due time. An eleventh arrived from Devonshire the next day, but all the matches were then made up. The ten in question, were

<Major Robertson, of the 82nd Reg. from Carmarthen>, Mr. Trelawny, M.P., of Cornwall. Messrs. Ranken and Brian, of Oxford University" [and 8 more].

82nd regiment, see

In The New Army List for 1841 by H. G. Hart we find, under 82nd regiment:

"Jas. Alex. Robertson, Ensign. 6 Mar. 23, Lieut. 17 Sept. 25, Captain 8 June 32"

Player in BCF Congress at Dundee, Scotland 1867 (several sources): <Colonel Robertson, Edinburgh>.

He is not in this list:

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Scotland Census 1861 (bad transcripts):

James A Robertson Age: 56
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1805
Relationship: Lodger
Where born: Ludy Plair Uthst, Perthshire
Registration District: St Andrew
Civil Parish: Edinburgh St George
Address: 117 Princes St
Occupation: Retired Full Colored Army

Household Members:
Ann Fraser 45
Martha Fraser 57
James A Robertson 56
Jemima Allen 55

Scotland Census 1871:

James A Robertson Age: 66
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1805
Relationship: Lodger
Where born: Blair Atholl, Perthshire
Registration District: St Andrew
Civil Parish: Edinburgh St George
Address: 118 Princes St
Occupation: Coland Army, Retired

Household Members:
Isabell Watson 71
Jane Watson 23
James A Robertson 66
William M C Paterson 38

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: "Leeds Intelligencer" 23 Oct. 1852: At the Anniv. of the Yorkshire Chess Association in Hull, Oct. 20, were among the present (incl. Löwenthal, Staunton, Horwitz and many others), <Major J. A. Robertson, 82nd Regiment, Manchester>
Jul-06-17  zanzibar: "... retired by sale ..." is obscure, it needs explanation or, better yet, rephrasing (as in plainspeak).
Jul-06-17  zanzibar: <He left behind “diaries tightly written in a very small hand, very difficult to read and which over his final days lodging at 118 Princes Street in Edinburgh suggest a rather sad end”.>

needs a footnote or mention of source.

Jul-06-17  zanzibar: Maybe this note for "retire by sale":

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