Johannes Hermann Zukertort
* 7 September 1842 Lublin † 20 June 1888 London
Buried in the Brompton Cemetery of London.
The grave had considerably sunk into the ground and was overgrown with grass, this year it was digged up by the English GM Stuart Conquest. Currently there is a project running with the Polish Heritage Society to restore the grave completely, and it will be re-dedicated next year (2012). Stuart Conquest has published an article on Zukertort (and Vincent van Gogh) in CHESS, October 2011 (p30-32): Starry, Starry Knights also gives the history of his efforts concerning Zukertort's grave.
All contributions to support the a.m. project are most welcome, please contact Stuart Conquest (firstname.lastname@example.org) or the Polish Heritage Society via their website www.polishheritage.co.uk if you would like to make a donation. Presumably the Ken Whyld Association will support this project as well.
PS (22/10/2011): Tomasz Lissowski informed us that the Polish Chess Federation as well collects money for the restoration of the grave. The appeal was signed by the Historical Comitee of the Federation which is headed by Tomasz. Moreover it should be mentioned that the Polish Heritage in the UK has called Zukertort "the best Polish sportsman of the XIX century".
PPS (26/10/2011): Stuart Conquest still informed us about a detail not included in his a.m. article: «... according to the cemetery supervisor, the Zukertort plot contains two earlier burials, which, however, have nothing to do with him. In other words, there would have been two "deeper" coffins beneath his. It appears this was not unusual at that period, at least at Brompton. Presumably this was a "cheaper" funeral option. The legal rights to a stone or slab always belonged to the last (most recent) burial, in this case Zukertort.»
Photographs by Stuart Conquest:
Again Stuart Conquest has informed us about the current developments concerning the JHZ project at Brompton:
The official permission has now been granted by the Royal Parks Commission for the proposed work to go ahead. So things will now be moving much faster.
The project is two-fold: the restoration of the existing ledger (raising, supporting, cleaning, re-lettering), but also the placing of a new headstone alongside, with a suitable inscription in both English and Polish.
Below the proposed design of the new stone as submitted to the stonemasons:
The work may be completed as soon as July. There will definitely be a ceremony organised at that time (when the work is finished) to re-dedicate the grave.
If people wish to donate, now is the time to do so!
Stuart Conquest is accepting private donations at his personal bank account: S CONQUEST, IBAN GB77 BARC 2013 3440 2808 52. All contributions, however small, are most welcome. Many thanks.
It is also possible to make a donation via the Polish Heritage Society. Whichever way, he would ask people to please contact him privately and let him know if they have made a donation. His email is email@example.com.
This month, in London, Stuart Conquest will be meeting with members of the Polish Heritage Society. They are all agreed on carrying out this project to the highest possible standards.
There is also a project to affix a memorial plaque at Simpson's-in-the-Strand - this is definitely going ahead too. As we all know, it was here that Zukertort played his last game.
Below a recent photo of the grave, from Stuart Conquest's last visit to London:
PS (29/04/2012): Stuart Conquest just informed us about a new project, namely to make a short documentary film on Zukertort's life.
The memorial plaque at Simpson's-in-the-Strand is to be unveiled at a reception in late August.
PPS (08/06/2012): Good news about Zukertort's grave - here the wording of Stuart Conquest's yesterday's e-mail:
"It gives me great pleasure to confirm that the newly restored grave of Johannes Zukertort is now complete! I flew in from Spain to be present, and to meet the people who worked on this exciting project. I can confirm that they were thoroughly professional, and paid utmost attention to detail. I attach a selection of photos, below. You will from these have an idea of the work that was undertaken. There will be a service to re-dedicate the grave on Tuesday, June 26th, at 13:00 (Brompton Cemetery, London), to which all are welcome. A Polish bishop has agreed to officiate. I hope a lot of chess fans will be able to attend! I hope you all agree that the new grave is worthy of such an important figure in chess history."
You will find his selection of 16 photos in this picture gallery.
On this occasion it should be mentioned that the restoration was also supported by donations made by the Ken Whyld Association and by Michale Negele.
Rededication of Zukertort's grave on 26 June 2012
The previous day Steve Giddins had already announced this event in his blog (A great gesture), and Tony Gillam sent us a short summary afterwards - here the excerpt from Tony's mail dated 27/06/2012:
"I was in London yesterday at the Zukertort grave rededication. It was a pleasant ceremony with about 6 or 8 chess players and over 20 people from the Polish Heritage Society - 31 people in total. The new gravestone looks very good, half in English and half in Polish on the front, and some chess pieces on the back! The original horizontal stone has been cleaned up and it all looks very good. Jimmy Adams, Gordon Cadden, Ray Cannon and myself were there to represent the KWA. Jimmy and Gordon were talking about trying to do something for Philidor."
John Saunders in his Chess Blog as well as Peter Doggers on chessvibes.com gave more detailed reports with photos and a video recording of Stuart Conquest's speech.