Province Archives

April 7, 2006

Fr. Fernando Saavedra CP

Filed under: Finding the Answers — archivesoz @ 2:14 am

Inheriting an Archives is sometimes complicated by incomplete and interesting information handed down, yet the full story is not told and questions remain to be asked.

Often times it is a photograph, or a cutting of paper which details a religious who has won an award, but there are no details to what it was, or which paper printed it, or even an indication of the date it was published.

One such letter from Queensland refers to Fr. Fernando as having entered the Chess history books by inventing a "half move"

Just who was Fr, Fernando Saavedra CP?

Fr. Fernando was born in Spain 10/10/1847, and was a Spaniard through and through. His parents moved to England while he was still a young man and in 1866 he joined the Passionists in England. He was Ordained on the 30/11/1871.

On the 6th of January 1900 he arrived in Australia with Fr. Gregory Callaghan to work in the newly found province. While he was renown as a "Fiery Spaniard" it was also noted in our chronicles that despite his fierce appearance and manner "he was quite gentle and understanding in the confessional"

Sickness drove him back to Spain in 1911 and despite his hopes he never returned. He died in Dublin in 1922, and is buried there.

It was during his stay in our Province that he invented a new and winning move in Chess

Research among secondhand bookshops looking for any information relating to Chess unearthed an "Encyclopaedia of Chess" written by Anne Sunnucks (first published in 1970) with two pages of this book being dedicated to our fellow Passionist and his famous move.

The internet provides much additional information on him and even a controvesy as to whether the move was really his, or had he seen it elsewhere.

One thing we do know is that his interest in chess has made his name recordable, and our Archives has discovered just a little bit more about another of our early Passionists.

"His claim to fame must be unique, for it rests with the discovery of a single move. The problem had earlier been presented as a drawn game with a white pawn promoting to a Queen, but in a flash of insight Fr. Saavedra saw that under-promotion secured a win."

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1 Comment »

  1. Fernando Saavedra Caro is my grand-uncle. It isn’t true his parents moved to England. He moved alone to England when he was nine years old with a dictionary spanish-english. My grand-father and his sister, a nun of the Sant Angel (french Community) born in Seville -Spain- too.
    Francisca Saavedra

    Comment by Paquita Saavedra Barnusell — January 20, 2013 @ 3:29 pm


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