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Friday, March 6, 2015

John L. McCutcheon

    Everybody has heard of the McCutcheon Variation of the French Defense, but how many know anything of the man behind the variation? I discovered a really good 6-part online bio of McCutcheon by James O'Fee which is listed at the bottom.
     A few minutes after midnight on July 16, 1905, at his residence on Homewood Avenue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania attorney John Lindsay McCutcheon passed away. McCutcheon was born in Allegheny, PA on May 28, 1857 and was the oldest son of James McCutcheon of the firm Lindsay and McCutcheon, iron and steel manufacturers. His mother, Rebecca Lindsey McCutcheon died in 1898.
     His early education was received from tutors and at Newell's Institute in Pittsburgh. In 1875 McCutcheon went to Germany where he entered the University of Bonn for two years. On his return to the US he attended Harvard and Columbia law schools, graduating from the latter in 1881 and he was admitted to the bar on November 15, 1881. On November 16, 1882 he married Miss Louise Taylor of New York and they had three children, James, Elsie and Louise.
     From the date of his admission to the bar until his father's death in 1895 McCutcheon was an active and successful lawyer and won respect from his peers. After his father's death he turned himself almost entirely to the management of his father's estate where he acquired talent in business and finance and greatly increased his father's business.
     He was recognize by his associates as honest but at times exhibiting certain peculiarities of manner which caused adverse criticism from those who did not know him well. He possessed remarkably sound judgment and keen insight, qualities that contributed to his success as both an attorney and a businessman. As an attorney his aim was always justice and he was upset when he felt the courts failed to produce it.
     McCutcheon was an a strong chessplayer and the McCutcheon Variation of the French Defense was named for him. He was also a great lover of art and music and his art gallery had paintings by many famous artists. In music he was the author of compositions which were deemed as quite good. He was most admired by those who knew him as a friend, being described as a "prince of entertainers" and "one of the most hospitable men who ever lived." Genial, warmhearted, charitable, clever, companionable, loving and lovable were the words used to describe him. It was said he had a certain innocence about him that was not contaminated by the world and his temperament was described as "sweet and gracious." In a resolution upon his death that's how his peers of the Philadelphia Bar described him.

O'Fee's Biography of McCutcheon:  Part 1  Part 2   Part 3   Part 4   Part 5   Part 6

His win over Steinitz in a simul using his McCutcheon Variation can be played over HERE.

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