James Sinclair
by Chris Reekie and Norrie Reid

James Sinclair was the first Scot to write a book on draughts as a scientific game, ahead of the major contributors to draughts literture, John Drummond and Andrew Anderson. His work The Game of Draughts was published in his native Glasgow in 1832 and gave examples of the many games he had played with experts in the city over several years. Sinclair was himself an excellent player and was held in high regard. He kept a tavern at 43 Trongate, Glasgow. The Glasgow opening, formed by 11-15, 23-19, 8-11, 22-17, 11-16, has been so named since Sinclair played it against Anderson in their match at Hamilton in 1828.

A grim little tale attaches itself to Sinclair's book. Sinclair had had the help of a fellow Glaswegian, a Mr Blair, who, on discovering that his name did not appear in the book, took himself to the nearest canal (probably the Monklands) and there committed suicide. This incident was later used against Sinclair one day by John Borland: the two of them being fond of a little good-humoured chaff, Borland remarked to Sinclair:
"I have written your epitaph:
Here lies James Sinclear, of draughts-board fame, there never was a better;
He beat all the players that e'er he played - and made one take the water."