John Purdy (chess player)

John Purdy (25 September 1935 – 27 August 2011) was an Australian chess player and Family Court judge.

John Purdy
TitleAustralian Master[1]
FIDE rating2143
John Purdy
Judge, Family Court of Australia
In office
1984 – 25 September 2005
Personal details
John Spencer Purdy

(1935-09-25)25 September 1935
Sydney, Australia
Died27 August 2011(2011-08-27) (aged 75)
Taree, Australia
Resting placeNorth Ryde
RelationsC J S Purdy (father), Spencer Crakanthorp (maternal grandfather)
Alma materNorth Sydney Boys High, The University of Sydney Law Extension Committee
Professionaccountant, barrister, administrator, judge

Early life and educationEdit

John Spencer Purdy was born on 25 September 1935 in Sydney, New South Wales. His father was C J S Purdy, an Australian chess International Master, inaugural World Correspondence Chess champion, and "one of the world's greatest English-language chess writers and teachers".[2] His mother was Anne (née Crakanthorp, 1915–2013)and held the lease of Greenwich Baths on Sydney Harbour. His maternal grandfather, Spencer Crakanthorp, was twice Australian chess champion and Spencer's father, Lawrence, had been a leading Australian player.[2]

1951 Australian Junior Chess Champion John Purdy (left) and his rival, John Bailey

John attended North Sydney Boys High where his friends encourage him to take up chess at age 13.[2] Less than two years later, in 1951, he was the Australian Junior Chess Champion.[3] Purdy won the title in the last round with 9½ points when John Bailey, the NSW Junior Champion could only manage a draw to finish on 9 points.[4]

Chess masterEdit

In 1955 he became the youngest person to win the Australian Chess Championship.[5][6] However, that year he failed to qualify for the junior world chess championship finals in Antwerp[7] (the title was won by Boris Spassky).[2] He represented Australia in the British championship in 1955.[8]

He won the Australian title for a second time in 1963.[2][8] That year, he represented Australia in the Asian Zonal championship in Jakarta (won by Bela Berger).[8] Also in 1963, he won the first Doeberl Cup in Canberra.[8][9]

Purdy served as president, Australian Chess Federation in 1971–72.[1]

In 2003, Purdy suffered an aortic dissection in Lismore and spent weeks at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney. Although rehabilitation allowed him to return to his professional life, he was unable to continue playing chess. His latterday interests became golf, swimming, reading and bridge.[2]

Accountant then barristerEdit

Purdy qualified as an accountant and then worked for the Printing and Allied Trades Employers' Association from 1956 to 1973.[2]

He qualified through the Barristers' Admission Board for the New South Wales Bar where he practised for five years before leaving to work for the Law Society of New South Wales in 1978.[2] He became chief executive officer in 1980.[10]

Judge, Family Court of AustraliaEdit

In 1984, Purdy was appointment to the Family Court of Australia. Headquartered at Parramatta, he also travelled on circuit throughout Australia.[2][10] He retired in 2005 on reaching statutory retirement age.[2]

Family lifeEdit

Purdy married Felicity Stapleton on 6 December 1958.[1][2]

Purdy died at Taree whilst travelling to attend a funeral at Kempsey.[8] His funeral was held on 9 September 2011 at the Camellia Chapel, Macquarie Park Cemetery and Crematorium, corner of Delhi and Plassey Roads North Ryde.[11] He was survived by his wife, Felicity, and their sons Colin and Michael and families.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Who's Who Live (Australia)". Crown Content ABN 37 096 393 636. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Lloyd Waddy and Frank Hutchings, "Chess champion served Family Court" (Obituary, John Purdy 1935–2011), The Sydney Morning Herald, 19 October 2011, p 20 via accessed 29 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Young Boys Play Chess". The Sunday Herald. Sydney. 11 February 1951. p. 1 Supplement: Playtime. Retrieved 29 November 2011 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Purdy Wins Junior Chess". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 January 1951. p. 12. Retrieved 29 November 2011 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Get fit to win chess". The Argus. Melbourne. 8 January 1955. p. 3. Retrieved 29 November 2011 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ "Chess Champion". Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954). Perth. 9 January 1955. p. 4. Retrieved 29 November 2011 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "Why our chess star failed". The Argus. Melbourne. 30 July 1955. p. 5. Retrieved 29 November 2011 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ a b c d e Phil Viner, "Chess", The Australian, 3 September 2011, p 11 via accessed 29 November 2011.
  9. ^ "Previous winners". Doeberl Cup. Retrieved 29 November 2011.
  10. ^ a b The Law Society of New South Wales, "The Honourable John Spencer Purdy 1935 – 2011", Monday Briefs, Issue 345 (12 September 2011) Archived 27 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine, p 2 accessed 29 November 2011.
  11. ^ "Funeral arrangements for John Spencer Purdy". In Brief. New South Wales Bar Association. 7 September 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2011.

External linksEdit