Really Strong Beard Game

The memorial plaque for John Venn (1834 – 1923) in Drypool, Hull, England, contains a mysterious phrase:


John Venn is, of course,  a mathematician who proposed Venn diagrams, this bit is easy. But the phrase

Really strong beard game

is more interesting. “Really strong X game” can be found in print media and on the Internet for some other value of X as well. It means that something is impressively done (or, by extension/humor, impressive). Taking into consideration his social class, Englishness, and times of his life, this also suggests connections with cricket — in those days, more fanatical cricket  players frequently exhibited very impressive beards. This my conjecture was immediately confirmed by a brief glance in the Wikipedia. First of all, John Venn’s beard:

John Venn (1834 – 1923)

Secondly, a quote from Wikipedia:

He built rare machines. A certain machine was meant to bowl cricket balls. The machine was so fascinating that when Australian cricketers were visiting Cambridge, the machines were used to entertain their arrival. The bowl cricket ball machine that Venn built actually bowled out the top ranked player of the team four times consecutively.

John Venn’s biography at MacTutor. Another biography.