My Chess World

My Chess World
My Chess World

“Nine-time Czech champion David Navara, 35, became a grandmaster in 2002 at the age of sixteen. Amongst his many achievements are: 1st at the Ordix Open rapid tournament in Mainz, Germany, in 2007. World Cup quarterfinalist in 2011. Gold medal winner on 2nd board at the 2012 Chess Olympiad in Istanbul. Gold medallist with the Nový Bor team at the 2013 European Club Cup in Rhodes, Greece. Winner of the European Blitz Championship in Wrocław, Poland, in 2014. Silver medallist in the European Individual Championship in Jerusalem in 2015.”

GM David Navara
GM David Navara

From the rear cover :

“This book is not a pure (auto)biography, rather a games collection. It consists mainly of interesting high-class games played by me, including many losses. Most of the games are preceded by accompanying texts, which vary from essays to tournament reports. The title of the book might seem presumptuous, but I wanted to show how I see or experience the competitions without denying the chess worlds of others. While the texts are mostly light and subjective, at the same time I tried hard to stick to the facts and provide some food for thought. GM David Navara May 2020.”

David Navara is one of the most distinctive and popular personalities on the contemporary chess scene, renowned for his uncompromising play, for his politeness and friendliness, and, most of all, for his eccentricities. He’s been just below the world elite for the past 15 years or so, usually rated between 2700 and 2750.

In this chunky 600+ page book he offers us a collection of 64 (for Navara it could be no other number) games, chosen for their interest rather than the result, so you’ll find draws and losses as well as wins here. His opponents include many of today’s top grandmasters and a wide range of openings is represented.

Authors have a difficult decision to make about how detailed their analysis should be. Navara explains the dilemma nicely in what he calls the Navara Antinomy:

  1. Substantial games are interesting.
  2. Substantial games require extensive annotations.
  3. Extensive annotations are boring.

Yes, the annotations are pretty extensive, but the games are interesting enough to merit this. There are plenty of variations and sub-variations which, if you’re playing through the games, might be confusing unless you’re making use of a second board. You’ll discover a host of exciting middle games and, in particular, some fascinating endings.

One game that particularly drew my attention was his game with White against Radoslaw Wojtaszek from Biel 2015.

Not all games with early queen exchanges are dull. The moves up to 25. Kf6 were pre-game preparation, and by move 30 the white monarch reaches h8, which must be some sort of record for a top level game.

If you want to find out what was really happening in this game you’ll need to buy the book.

Navara likes to categorise chess games as either porridge (good for you but boring) or ice cream (tasty but not so healthy) and tells us both types are featured in the book. I think he’s, very typically, being too modest. Most of the games, like the one above, seem to me to be both tasty and good for you. A delicious main course of salmon, perhaps (Navara likes fish, especially Stockfish), or a refreshing fruit salad.

There’s no better way to end a meal than with a light sorbet. Here’s the conclusion of the last game of the book, against Vojtech Zwardon (Ostrava 2019).

How would you continue with White?

Full credit for 1. Qxg7+  Kxg7 2. Bf6+ and 3. Rh8#, but Navara preferred the cuter 1. Qh8+ Bxh8 2. Rxh8+ Kg7 3. Bf6#.

If you’re looking for a collection of top level games with excellent annotations, you won’t be disappointed with this book.

You get a lot more for your money, though. Most games are preceded by essays originally published on Navara’s chess blog (‘a blog past its sell-by date’) covering a wide variety of subjects: part travelogue, part tournament report, part meditation on chess and life.

You’ll find out a lot about the life of a chess player travelling round Europe, and occasionally further afield (Cuba, China) taking part in national and international team competitions as well as individual matches and tournaments.

There’s much more besides. As well as ‘Porridge and ice cream in Barcelona’ you’ll encounter ‘Sea hedgehogs’, ‘Swans on the top floor’ and ‘On Karl Marx and locking a bishop’.

The book is also full of humour, particularly verbal humour, which the translator has done well to render into English successfully. Humour is something very personal, and, I guess, you might find this aspect of the book either endearing or annoying. As for me, I love it. It’s great to meet someone who uses exactly the same jokes as I do.

Beyond the moves, then, this is, in many ways, a very personal book. The first few pages offer some biographical background. ‘I have no recollection of it, but according to reliable sources, I was born on 27 March 1985.’

He concludes this section: ‘I can’t drive or dance, and my knowledge of films and TV series is minimal.’ (Me too, David.) … ‘Chess is my choice. It has given me a lot: fun, success, friends, self-realisation, money, popularity, the chance to travel.’

At the end of the book he returns to the same theme, offering us a chess poem:

‘But still I remain like a child, who finds the outside world so wild. I still so much like to play chess, that it looks like both curse and bless.’

He concludes:

‘Chess has given me a lot. It can unite people of various nations, different ages, gender, political views, social and economic background or health conditions. It contains elements of art and some chess games are real masterpieces. (Of course they are rare, as masterpieces tend to be.) Chess might relieve the worries of everyday life, bring one good friends and uplift one’s spirit.

‘What more can you expect from a board game with seemingly simple rules?’

I think we can all, whatever our rating, agree with David Navara’s sentiments.

The book is well produced and enhanced with photographs of our hero. My one complaint, as so often, is the lack of an index. Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but if I’m reading a games collection I’d like to be able to look up the games where Navara played Carlsen, or where he was on the black side of a Sicilian Defence.

What you do get is an excellently annotated games collection as well as an insight into the life and mind of a charming and unusual personality, who perceives the world with a mixture of child-like wonder and self-deprecating amusement. For me, it also provides the opportunity to meet someone who seems, in some respects, a kindred spirit.

I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out more about David Navara, both as a chess player and as a person. Very highly recommended.

 

Richard James, Twickenham, 13th July 2020

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 616 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (28 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510804
  • ISBN-13:  978-9492510808
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

My Chess World
My Chess World

Opening Repertoire : The Modern Benoni

Opening Repertoire : The Modern Benoni
Opening Repertoire : The Modern Benoni

John Doknjas is a FIDE Master from Canada who has enjoyed success competing internationally. He has won seven national titles for his age and tied for 1st in the 2019 U18 North American Youth Chess Championship. This is his third book for Everyman Chess.

From the book’s rear cover we have :

“The Modern Benoni is just about the most aggressive method that Black can choose to counter White’s 1 d4. In the main line variations Black allows White to have a preponderance of central pawns which, traditionally, grants the first player the advantage. However, in return, Black gains the opportunity for tremendously dynamic counterplay. This places White and under immediate pressure as any inaccurate moves can prove to be disastrous.

In this book, FIDE Master John Doknjas examines all aspects of this highly complex opening and provides the reader with well-researched, fresh, and innovative analysis. Each annotated game has valuable lessons on how to play the opening and contains instructive commentary on typical middlegame plans. With thorough variations and explanations on pawn structures and piece placement, this book provides insight for both strong masters and less experienced players alike. The format is ideal for the chessplayer keen to improve their game. While reading you are continually challenged to answer probing questions – a method that greatly encourages the learning and practising of vital skills just as much as the traditional assimilation of chess knowledge.”

The Modern Benoni, by John Doknjas, is another book in Everyman’s “Opening Repertoire” series. As that implies, the book aims to provide Black with a repertoire against all lines that White can employ against the Modern Benoni, rather than an exhaustive analysis of all lines by both sides.

The Benoni has long been a choice of aggressive players who are willing to take a bit of a risk as Black in order to get a complex fight against White’s 1 d4 (and 2 c4). The resulting middlegame positions are usually double-edged and can be complex both positionally and tactically.

The theory is contained in 31 complete games broken down into nine chapters for the major systems, such as the Flick-Knife attack (aka the Taimanov variation), The Fianchetto Variation, the Knight’s Tour and so on. Major variations within each system are given new games, and (usually) minor variations within those are handled within the notes. Occasionally there are a lot of variations in the notes and this can make it a bit awkward to follow where you are in the main game, but this is probably an unavoidable feature of the complete game approach and I do not mention this as a criticism of the author or the book. Indeed, the book mitigates greatly against this by providing an excellent Index of Variations which tells you if a variation is covered in a main game, or within the notes to one, which makes future reference to a line much easier. The advantages of the complete game approach are that the annotations tell the reader the middlegame plans, and the reader gets to see how masters play out the positions.

The book also contains a nice introductory chapter in which Doknjas provides an excellent overview of plans and piece placement ideas from the perspective of both White and Black. Each chapter also includes a short introductory section, and a summary section, in which the differences between the systems covered by the various games in the chapter are explained.

The repertoire in the book steers Black to positions which appear theoretically sound, and provide Black at least a position with balanced counterplay. There aren’t many lines which offer safe equality, but this of course is the nature of the opening and is to be expected.

I have to say that I regard this as an excellent opening book.
Doknjas provides excellent explanations, both wordy and in concrete lines, and his Q&A and Exercises are always relevant to the material. When he feels appropriate, he is not afraid to recommend lesser-played lines and he backs up his choices with solid analysis and reasoning. His recommendations appear sound and those lines I have tested with an engine do not fall foul of computer analysis.

As an example of his style, here is an excerpt from the game in which he recommends 12 …Rd8 in the Mikenas Attack:

Question: What are some of this moves pluses?

Answer: 12 …Rd8 has only been chosen around 4% of the time OTB, but I really like it for a few reasons:
1. Black threatens to round up the d5-pawn with …Nb6. This doesn’t give White time to attack effectively with f4-f5.
2. The rook could prove very useful on d6, where it will control the f6-square. If black plays …f6 then the pawn will enjoy support, and in some lines Black could even use the rook for direct defence with with …Rf6. Another purpose for the rook being on d6 is to blockade the d5-pawn, which could be important if White’s light-squared bishop comes to c4.
3. The move has a fair amount of surprise value and its subtleties aren’t immediately obvious.
12 …Re8 is the main move but 13 f5! may give White strong play along the f-file (Ng5, Bc4, Qf3, 0-0 etc). The game remain objectively equal but it seems like Black is the one who has to be more careful. Se Feller-C Marzolo continued 13 …Kf8 14 Ng5 e4 15 fxg6 hxg6 16 Be2 Bd4 17 Rf1 with a messy position.
13  fxe5
Others:
a) Be2?! Nb6 14 fxe5 Rxd5 15 Qb3 Kf8 16 Be3 Kg8 gives Black an advantage.
b) …etc
(The book actually uses figurine pieces rather than letters.)

I recommend this book to anyone who is already playing the Modern Benoni or who is looking to take it up. Even players who face the Benoni from the White side will get benefit from this book, at least an idea of the current state of theory of this opening, but obviously bear in mind that it is a repertoire book from Black’s viewpoint.

John Doknjas was not known to me before reading this book, I look forward to future books by him.

Colin Purdon, Crowthorne, Berkshire, 13th July, 2020

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 450 pages
  • Publisher:Everyman Chess (1 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1781945268
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781945261
  • Product Dimensions: 17.2 x 2.5 x 24.2 cm

Official web site of Everyman Chess

Opening Repertoire : Modern Benoni
Opening Repertoire : Modern Benoni

Ken Whyld Remembered (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)

Ken Whyld (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)
Ken Whyld (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)

BCN remembers much loved Ken Whyld who passed away on July 11th 2003 in Lincolnshire.

Ken Whyld from CHESS magazine, January 1950. courtesy of the Ken Whyld Association
Ken Whyld from CHESS magazine, January 1950. courtesy of the Ken Whyld Association

From Chess : The Records :

“Ken Whyld was the editor of Chess Students Quarterly in the early 1950s and from 1955-63, Chess Reader, in which he reviewed more than 500 chess books. He has written seven tournament books and one match book.

Ken Whyld (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)
Ken Whyld (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)

With J. Gilchrist he wrote a three-volume anthology of Lasker’s games, and with David Hooper, The Oxford Companion to Chess.

Ken at the gravestone of "William" Steinitz
Ken at the gravestone of “William” Steinitz

For the book World Chess Champions he wrote the chapters on Lasker and Smyslov. In his playing days he was champion of his county (Nottinghamshire) many times and played in the British Championship as well as international tournaments.”

Ken Whyld  (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)
Ken Whyld (06-iii-1926 11-vii-2003)

Possibly the best tribute to Ken was written by John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty in the August 2003 issue of British Chess Magazine, pages 398 – 402.

Editorial from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 395 by Editor, John Saunders
Editorial from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 395 by Editor, John Saunders
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 398 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 398 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 399 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 399 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 400 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 400 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 401 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 401 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 402 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld Remembered from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIII (123), Number 8 (August), page 402 by Editor, John Saunders and Bernard Cafferty
Ken Whyld
Ken Whyld

Here is his Wikipedia entry

See more details from the Ken Whyld Association

The Collected Games of Emmanuel Lasker
The Collected Games of Emmanuel Lasker
The Oxford Companion to Chess
The Oxford Companion to Chess
Chess : The Records, Guinness, 1986, SBN 10: 0851124550ISBN 13: 9780851124551
Chess : The Records, Guinness, 1986, SBN 10: 0851124550ISBN 13: 9780851124551
Learn Chess in a Weekend
Learn Chess in a Weekend
Chess Columns : A List
Chess Columns : A List
Chess Reader
Chess Reader
Chess Stalker Quarterly
Chess Stalker Quarterly
The Oxford Companion to Chess, 1st Edition
The Oxford Companion to Chess, 1st Edition
Curse of Kirsan by Sarah Hurst, Ken wrote the Foreword.
Curse of Kirsan by Sarah Hurst, Ken wrote the Foreword.

Happy Birthday FM David Friedgood (11-vii-1946)

FM David Friedgood at the 2019 British Championships in Torquay, courtesy of John Upham Photography.
FM David Friedgood at the 2019 British Championships in Torquay, courtesy of John Upham Photography.

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to FM David Friedgood (11-vii-1946)

David was born in Cape Town, Republic of South Africa and now resides in England.

He first won the South Africa Championship in 1967 in Johannesburg, again in 1971, and in 1973 in Cape Town when his main rivals were Piet Kroon and Charles de Villiers.

He plays for Cavendish, Hendon and 4NCL MK Phoenix.

He gained his FM title in 1982.

His peak rating of 2335 was achieved in January, 1980.

David Friedgood (far right) and a victorious Wood Green team. Trophy presented by Magnus Magnusson
David Friedgood (far right) and a victorious Wood Green team. Trophy presented by Magnus Magnusson

David Friedgood at a Lloyds Bank problem solving event with Sir Jeremy Morse, Jonathan Mestel and ?
David Friedgood at a Lloyds Bank problem solving event with Sir Jeremy Morse, Jonathan Mestel and ?
FM David Friedgood at the 2014 Winton Capital Problem Solving Championship at Eton College, courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM David Friedgood at the 2014 Winton Capital Problem Solving Championship at Eton College, courtesy of John Upham Photography
David was part of the successful 2010 England team in the World Solving Championships along with John Nunn, Jonathan Mestel and Colin McNab
David was part of the successful 2010 England team in the World Solving Championships along with John Nunn, Jonathan Mestel and Colin McNab
Secrets of Spectacular Chess
Secrets of Spectacular Chess

Mental Toughness in Chess : Practical Tips to Strengthen Your Mindset at the Board

Mental Toughness in Chess
Mental Toughness in Chess

Mental Toughness in Chess : Practical Tips to Strengthen Your Mindset at the Board : Werner Schweitzer

“Werner Schweitzer graduated as a mental coach at the University of Salzburg, Austria. He knows from experience which mental factors have impact on a chess players performance. Schweitzer has been coaching players and teams for many years.”

From the rear cover :

“Your performance at the board does not only depend on your pure chess skills. Being a winner also requires a mindset that is able to cope with lots of stress and setbacks during hours of uninterrupted concentration. Just like technical chess skills, mental toughness can be trained. There are simple steps you can take that will help you to better realize your potential. Professional mental coach and chess player Werner Schweitzer has been working with chess teams and individual players for many years.

In this book Schweitzer presents practical tips and tools that will help you to improve your mental power during a game. You will learn how to: increase your concentration and stamina; recognize your own strengths and weaknesses; cope with losses as well as victories; increase your self-discipline when studying; handle disturbing thoughts and feelings during a game; boost your self-confidence; avoid underestimating (and overestimating!) your opponent; make better decisions while under pressure and other mental skills. These lessons and simple mental workouts will help players of all levels to unlock the full power of their brain and win more games.”

I enjoyed this book, but to be honest, it looks and reads like something you would pick up in a station or airport, when you have nothing to read on the journey.

There is a lot of white paper, only 144 pages , which could have been condensed to 120 or so with a more economical use of space and thus at £17.99 it is overpriced.

The book reads as though it has been hastily adapted to chess. The book could easily be rebranded as “Mental Toughness and the art of Man Management” or “Mental Toughness in the Boardroom” ; you get the idea.

This is a self-help manual , which assists you to get your brain and character into better order. The author admits in the very first chapter , that as his rating is just short of 2100, mental toughness is but only one of the factors that make a good chess player. His tips can only take you so far. With this admission, the limitations of the book are shown.

As stated , I got something out of the book and you will too. You will learn how to become a more disciplined thinker. If that’s what you feel you need, then this could be a good buy.

IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 8th July 2020

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 144 pages
  • Publisher: New in Chess (1 January 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918583
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918583
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 0.9 x 22.2 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Mental Toughness in Chess
Mental Toughness in Chess

Remembering FM David Edward Rumens (23-ix-1939 08-vii-2017)

FM Dave Rumens enjoys being introduced as "The late Dave Rumens" at the 2013 Terafinal by Mike Basman, Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Dave Rumens enjoys being introduced as “The late Dave Rumens” at the 2013 Terafinal by Mike Basman, Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN remembers FM David Edward Rumens who passed away on July 8th, 2017

David was born in Hendon, London (his mother’s maiden name was Little). (According to electoral registers) in his latter years he lived in Olney and then Wavendon both in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire but this is yet to be confirmed. A David Edward Rumens with the same year of birth lived at these addresses.

He became a FIDE Master in 1980 at the age of 41.

According to chessgames.com : “FIDE Master David Edward Rumens was UK Grand Prix Champion in 1976 and 1978.”

His highest Elo rating was 2355 in July 1981 at the age of 42.

His first game in Megabase 2020 is a win with Black against Dr. Fazekas in the 1958 British Championships in Leamington Spa. His most recent database game was a win with White over Jessie Gilbert at the 2003 British Championships in Edinburgh with 159 games recorded in total. Between 1982 and 2001 no games are recorded.

He played for Hampstead Chess Club.

David Edward Rumens at the 1959 Youth World Chess Championships in Munchenstein.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
David Edward Rumens at the 1959 Youth World Chess Championships in Munchenstein. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Championship in Munchenstein. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Carlos Bielicki of Argentina (left) beats David Edward Rumens of England in the final game of the 1959 Youth World Chess Championships in Munchenstein. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Carlos Bielicki of Argentina (left) beats David Edward Rumens of England in the final game of the 1959 Youth World Chess Championships in Munchenstein. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Here is an obituary written by Stewart Reuben from the ECF web site

The Cedars Chess Club May 1962 - David is seated, second left. Photograph sourced from ECF obituary.
The Cedars Chess Club May 1962 – David is seated, second left. Photograph sourced from ECF obituary.

Here is a discussion of David on the English Chess Forum

David at Stewart Reuben's 21st, on Stewart's right (Stewart has the jug) - March 1960. Photograph sourced from ECF Obituary
David at Stewart Reuben’s 21st, on Stewart’s right (Stewart has the jug) – March 1960. Photograph sourced from ECF Obituary
Dave Rumens is pleased to accept a cheque for £200 from Lady Thelma Milner-Barry for winning the 1978 Nottingham Congress with 5.5/6. Photo provided by Nottinghamshire County Council.
Dave Rumens is pleased to accept a cheque for £200 from Lady Thelma Milner-Barry for winning the 1978 Nottingham Congress with 5.5/6. Photo provided by Nottinghamshire County Council.

From Round Two of the above event we have David’s exciting win over his main Grand Prix rival, Andrew Whiteley. This game was provided by Freddy Reilly in BCM, Volume XCVIII (98), Number 6 (June), page 255 and is BCM game number 18688 :

A view of the display boards with David Rumens commentating from the 1976 Lloyds Bank Match by Telex, London - New York. From BCM, volume XCVI (96) Number 11 (August), Page 494. The venue was the Bloomsbury Hotel, London. Photo courtesy of Lloyds Bank.
A view of the display boards with David Rumens commentating from the 1976 Lloyds Bank Match by Telex, London – New York. From BCM, volume XCVI (96) Number 11 (August), Page 494. The venue was the Bloomsbury Hotel, London. Photo courtesy of Lloyds Bank.
LWB observes analysis between David Rumens and Murray Chandler from Brighton 1980. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
LWB observes analysis between David Rumens and Murray Chandler from Brighton 1980. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

FM Dave Rumens, unknown event and photographer
FM Dave Rumens, unknown event and photographer
FM Dave Rumens, unknown event and photographer
FM Dave Rumens, unknown event and photographer
FM Dave Rumens enjoys being introduced as "The late Dave Rumens" at the 2013 Terafinal by Mike Basman, Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Dave Rumens enjoys being introduced as “The late Dave Rumens” at the 2013 Terafinal by Mike Basman, Loughborough Grammar School. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Remembering IM Andrew Whiteley (09-vi-1947 07-vii-2014)

Hans Ree (left) and Andrew Whiteley (right) examine the European Junior Trophy for 1965/6 in which they tied for first.
Hans Ree (left) and Andrew Whiteley (right) examine the European Junior Trophy for 1965/6 in which they tied for first.

BCN remembers IM Andrew John Whiteley (09-vi-1947 07-vii-2014)

Andrew was born on Monday, June 9th, 1947 in Birmingham, West Midlands to Dennis Edward Hugh Whiteley (1914 – 1987) and Muriel Sutton (1919 – 1967). Andrew had two siblings.

Dennis Edward Hugh Whiteley (1914 - 1987, from Ancestry.co.uk
Dennis Edward Hugh Whiteley (1914 – 1987, from Ancestry.co.uk

Andrew completed his education at Magdalen College School, Oxford and then in law at Pembroke College, Oxford.

“Whiteley’s school chess record is an outstanding 63/65: Andrew Whiteley is captain and top board of a very strong U18 team of: A Whiteley, H Morphy, MN Crombie, MM Daube, A Hawkins and AH Smith.”

Andrew was joint (with WR Hartston) Southern Counties (SCCU) champion in the 1967-68 season.

His highest Elo rating was 2395 in January 1977 at the age of 29 and played for King’s Head in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

Andrew was former President of the Middlesex County Chess Association (1985-87) and Deputy (1984-85 & 1987-88).

Andrew Whiteley playing board two in the London - Belgrade Telex Match on April 3rd, 1976 from the St. James Hotel, Buckingham Gate. Sourced from BCM, Volume XCVI (96), Number 5, page 192. Photographer probably Freddy Reilly.
Andrew Whiteley playing board two in the London – Belgrade Telex Match on April 3rd, 1976 from the St. James Hotel, Buckingham Gate. Sourced from BCM, Volume XCVI (96), Number 5, page 192. Photographer probably Freddy Reilly.

He became a FIDE Master in 1980 at the age of 33. His last major tournament was Cappelle Le Grand in 1988 (see photograph below).

Magnus Magnusson presents Andrew Whiteley (right) with the BCF County Championship trophy as Captain of the Middlesex team in 1986.
Magnus Magnusson presents Andrew Whiteley (right) with the BCF County Championship trophy as Captain of the Middlesex team in 1986.

Below was written by BCM editor James Pratt in Volume CXXXIV (134), Number 8 (August) page 417-8 :

“Unfailingly courteous, formally dressed, retired London solicitor, British Master, Andrew Jonathan Whiteley (9 vi 1946 Birmingham – 8 vii 2014) has died. The son of an Oxford professor, AJW was British U21 Champion of 1965. He tied, with Hans Ree, for first in the European Junior in 1965/6.

The following game first appeared in the Games Department column of Harry Golombek in British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXVI (1966), Number 3 (March), page 148. It was game #14,118.

He scooped the Silver medal at the British in 1971 and in 1976. Andrew often worked selflessly at his office in the mornings, commuting to key games after lunch. He rose to be No. 3 or 4 in England and, always a loyal team man, shone in Olympiads. Belatedly, having turned his back on the law, in 1988, he became an IM. He was also a BCF Arbiter and Middlesex County organiser. In 2008, he won the English Senior Championships aged 61.

His was a classical chess style. RIP.”

Andrew Whiteley at the Nice Olympiad of 1974.
Andrew Whiteley at the Nice Olympiad of 1974.

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Andrew Whiteley commentating on Kasparov vs Karpov
Andrew Whiteley commentating on Kasparov vs Karpov

Here is a excellent obituary from his old school, Magdalen College.

FM Andrew Whiteley, IM Julian Hodgson and FM Byron Jacobs at Cappelle Le Grand, 1988. Photograph by Caroline Winkler
FM Andrew Whiteley, IM Julian Hodgson and FM Byron Jacobs at Cappelle Le Grand, 1988. Photograph by Caroline Winkler

Here is an obituary from Stewart Reuben on behalf of the English Chess Federation

Andrew Whiteley receives the Rosebowl trophy from John Poole
Andrew Whiteley receives the Rosebowl trophy from John Poole

Since 2014 King’s Head Chess Club has held an annual blitz tournament in memory of Andrew featuring many of England’s top players.

Andrew Whiteley faces David Howell whilst Jimmy Adams records the moves
Andrew Whiteley faces David Howell whilst Jimmy Adams records the moves

Here is a discussion of Andrew on the English Chess Forum

IM Andrew Whiteley at the first 4NCL weekend of 2012 in November.
IM Andrew Whiteley at the first 4NCL weekend of 2012 in November.

Happy Birthday IM Robert Bellin (30-vi-1952)

IM Robert Bellin, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Robert Bellin, courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN sends IM Robert Bellin best wishes on his birthday, this day (the 30th of June) in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

His first tournament that appears in MegaBase 2020 was the British Under-14 championship.

He was 1st= in the Islington U18 tournament in 1970 with Sergio Mariotti ahead of Michael Stean, John Nunn and a very young Tony Miles

Robert Bellin (middle row, second from left))
Robert Bellin (middle row, second from left))

Robert was awarded the IM title in 1977. He was outright British Champion in 1979 in Chester having tied first equal (with six others) in 1974 in Clacton. The play-off was won by George Botterill.

His best international success was in 1981 in Shanghai coming clear first overall.

His highest Elo rating of 2440 was achieved in 1980 at the age of 28.

Robert Bellin with Leonard Barden and Stewart Reuben at the 1978 Aaronson Masters in London
Robert Bellin with Leonard Barden and Stewart Reuben at the 1978 Aaronson Masters in London

Robert plays for 4NCL Cheddleton.

He was a member of the Under-65 seniors world championship winning team in 2019.

Robert is married to WGM Dr. Jana Bellin and they have two sons.

IM Robert Bellin
IM Robert Bellin

The Classical Dutch
The Classical Dutch
Winning with the Dutch
Winning with the Dutch
Test Your Positional Play
Test Your Positional Play
Queen's Pawn : Veresov System
Queen’s Pawn : Veresov System
Mastering the King's Indian Defence
Mastering the King’s Indian Defence
London System Repertoire
London System Repertoire
Trompowski Opening and Torre Attack
Trompowski Opening and Torre Attack

Happy Birthday IM Matthew Wadsworth (27-vi-2000)

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

BCN wishes IM Matthew Wadsworth Happy Birthday this day (June 27th) in 2020.

Previously we reported :

FM Matthew Wadsworth, one of England’s most promising young players, has earned his first Grandmaster norm from his excellent performance in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew, who is twenty, has a current FIDE standard play rating of 2413 and is ranked 34th amongst the active players in England (by FIDE rating) earning his FM title in 2016. Matthew has IMs norm under his belt but could leapfrog to Grandmaster status with further norms and by increasing his live rating to 2500. Most likely, however, is that the IM title will be ratified at the next FIDE Congress now that his live rating has topped 2400.

Matthew with father Jim at the 2012 Surrey Congress
Matthew with father Jim at the 2012 Surrey Congress

Matthew’s first ECF grade was 66A in 2007 (aged 7) and he played for Maidenhead in local leagues, St. Pirans’s School and then Reading School.

Matthew at the 2013 British Championships in Torquay
Matthew at the 2013 British Championships in Torquay

Matthew is reading Economics at Queen’s College, Cambridge and rows for the college team.

Matthew joined 4NCL at an early age and played for AMCA (Andrew Martin Chess Academy) soon rising the ranks to the AMCA first team and he currently represents the Guildford 2 team in Division One of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew’s 4NCL results for the 2018-19 season were :

1. Fodor, Tamas Jr, draw
2. Ashton, Adam G, win
3. Gonda, Laszlo, draw
4. Kulon, Klaudia, win
5. Holland, James P, win
6. Stewart, Ashley, win
7. Ledger, Andrew J, win
8. Plat, Vojtech, loss
9. no game
10. Jackson, James P, win
11. no game

giving a performance of 7/9

Matthew at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth
Matthew at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth

One of the undoubted highlights of Matthews chess year was has draw with Oxford domiciled GM Hou Yifan, three times Women’s World Champion from China during the annual Varsity match, Matthew representing Cambridge.

Recently Matthew has joined forces with IM Adam C Taylor, IM Ravi Haria and others to form makinggrandmasters.com

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

Remembering Vera Menchik (16-ii-1906 27-vi-1944)

Miss Vera Menchik
Miss Vera Menchik

BCN remembers that in the early morning of Tuesday, June 27th, 1944 (i.e. 76 years ago) Vera Menchik, her sister Olga, and their mother were killed in a V-1 flying bomb attack which destroyed their home at 47 Gauden Road in the Clapham area of South London.

47, Gauden Road, Clapham, SW4 6LW in more modern times.
47, Gauden Road, Clapham, SW4 6LW in more modern times.

All three were cremated at the Streatham Park Crematorium on 4 July 1944. Vera was 38 years old.

Signature of Vera Menchik from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Margate 1936.
Signature of Vera Menchik from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Margate 1936.

The August 1944 British Chess Magazine (Volume LXIV, Number 8, page 173 onwards) contained this editorial  from Julius du Mont  :

Julius du Mont, Editor of British Chess Magazine from 1940 to 1949
Julius du Mont, Editor of British Chess Magazine from 1940 to 1949

“British Chess has suffered a grievous and irreparable loss in the death by enemy action of Mrs. R.H.S. Stevenson known through all the world where chess is played as Vera Menchik.

We give elsewhere (below : Ed.) an appreciation of this remarkable woman. Quite apart from her unique gifts as a chess-player-the world may never see her equal again among women players-she had many qualities which endeared her to all who knew her, the greatest among them being here great-hearted generosity.

We sympathise with our contemporary “CHESS” : Vera Menchik was for some years their games editor. Few columns have been conducted with equal skill and efficiency and none, we feel sure, with a greater sense of responsibility.

The news of this remarkable tragedy will be received by the chess world with sorrow and with abhorrence of the wanton and useless robot methods of a robot people.

One shudders at the heritage of hatred which will be theirs, but their greatest punishment will come with their own enlightenment.”

From page 178 of the same issue we have an obituary written by EGR Cordingley :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXIV (1944), Number 8, August, Page 178
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXIV (1944), Number 8, August, Page 178

Here is an excellent article from the Hastings and St. Leonard’s Club written by Brian Denman.

Here is en excellent article from Neil Blackburn (aka SimaginFan) on chess.com

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :

“Woman World Champion from 1927 to 1944. Vera Menchik was born in Moscow on 16th February 1906 of an English mother and a Czech father. Her father taught her to play chess when she was 9.

Vera Menchik 1906-1944 chess playerin, CZ / GB portrait with chess board late twenties (Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Vera Menchik 1906-1944 chess playerin, CZ / GB portrait with chess board late twenties (Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images)

In 192l her family came to England and settled in Hastings (at 13, St. John’s Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP) :

13, St. John's Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP
13, St. John’s Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP

Two years later, when she was 17, Vera joined Hastings Chess Club,

Hastings Chess Club : 2 Cornwallis Terrace, Hastings TN34 1EB
Hastings Chess Club : 2 Cornwallis Terrace, Hastings TN34 1EB

where she became a pupil of Geza Maroczy. The first Women’s World Championship was held in 1927. Vera Menchik won with a score of 10.5 out of 11. She defended her title successfully in Hamburg in 1930, in Prague in 1931, in Folkestone in 1933, in Warsaw in 1935, in Stockholm in 1937 and in Buenos Aires in 1939. She played 2 matches against Sonja Graf, her nearest rival, in 1934 when she won +3 -1 and in 1937, in a match for her title when she won +9 -1 =5.

Isaac Kashdan plays Vera Menchik during the Hastings Congress on December 28th, 1931. Kashdan won in 45 moves in a classical French.
Isaac Kashdan plays Vera Menchik during the Hastings Congress on December 28th, 1931. Kashdan won in 45 moves in a classical French.

The first woman ever to play in the British Championship and the first to play in a master tournament, Vera Menchik made her debut in master chess at Scarborough 1928 when she scored 50 per cent. The following year she played in Paris and Carlsbad, and it was at Carlsbad that the famous Menchik Club was formed. The invitation to Vera Menchik to compete among such players as Capablanca, Euwe, Tartakower and Nimzowitch was received with amusement by many of the masters. The Viennese master, Becker was particularly scornful, and in the presence of a number of the competitors he suggested that anyone who lost to Vera Menchik should be granted membership of the Menchik Club. He himself became the first member. Other famous players who later joined the club were Euwe, Reshevsky, Sultan Khan, Sir George Thomas, C. H. O’D. Alexander, Colle and Yates.

Her greatest success in international tournaments was at Ramsgate in 1929, when she was =2nd with Rubinstein, half a point behind Capablanca and ahead of Maroczy. In 1934 she was 3rd at Maribor, ahead of Spielmann and Vidmar. In 1942 she won a match against Mieses +4 -l -5. In 1937 Vera Menchik married R. H. Stevenson, who later became Hon. Secretary of the British Chess Federation. He died in 1943. She continued to use her maiden name when playing chess. On her marriage she became a British subject.

Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women's world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden
Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women’s world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden

From 1941 until her death she was Games Editor of CHESS. She also gave chess lessons and managed the National Chess Centre, which opened in 1939 at John Lewis’s in Oxford Street, London and was destroyed by a bomb in 1940.

In 1944 Vera Menchik was a solid positional player, who avoided complications and aimed at achieving a favourable endgame. Her placid temperament was ideal for tournament play. Her main weakness was possibly lack of imagination. Her results have made her the most successful woman player ever.”

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

From The Encyclopedia of Chess, (BT Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :

Probably the strongest woman player in the history of the game, Vera Menchik was born in Moscow and, though her father was a Czechoslovak and her mother English, she played for most of her
life under English colours.

In l92l her family came to Hastings in England and there Vera became a pupil of the great Hungarian master, Geza Maroczy. This was to have a dominating influence on her style of play which was solidly classical, logical and technically most well equipped. Such a style enabled her to deal severely not only with her fellow women players but also with contemporary masters and budding masters. Vera did extremely well, for example, against C. H. O’D. Alexander
and P. S. Milner-Barry, but lost repeatedly to H. Golombek who was able to take advantage of her lack of imagination by the use of more modern methods.

Vera was soon predominent in women’s chess. In the first Women’s World Championship tournament, at London in 1927, she won the title with a score of 10.5 out of 11 and retained the championship with great ease at all the subsequent Olympiads (or International Team tournaments as they were then known more correctly) at Hamburg 1930, Prague 1931, Folkestone 1933, Warsaw 1935, Stockholm 1937 and Buenos Aires 1939.

Vera Menchik at Margate 1935, photographer unknown
Vera Menchik at Margate 1935, photographer unknown

With Sonja Graf, the player who came nearest to her in strength among her female contemporaries, she played two matches and demonstrated her undoubted superiority by beating her in 1934 (+3-l) and again in a match for the title in l937 (+9-l=5).

In 1937 Vera officially became a British citizen by marrying the then Kent and later B.C.F. Secretary, R. H. S. Stevenson (Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson: ed).
(Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson was home news editor of the British Chess Magazine, secretary of the Southern Counties Chess Union and match captain of the Kent County Chess Association).

Oddly enough, Sonja Graf, many years later, also became a Mrs Stevenson by marrying an American of that name some years after the Second World War.

Vera Menchik also played and held her own in men’s tournaments. She did well in the British championship and her best performance in international chess was =2nd with Rubinstein in the Ramsgate Team Practice tournament ahead of her old teacher, Maroczy. She also had an excellent result at Maribor in 1934 where she came 3rd, ahead of Spielmann and Vidmar.

Her husband died in 1943 and Vera herself, together with her younger sister Olga and her mother, was killed by a V1 bomb that descended on the Stevenson home in London in 1944.

Vera Menchik, circa 1935, Historic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Vera Menchik, circa 1935, Historic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

This was a sad and premature loss, not only for British but for world chess, since there is no doubt she would have continued to dominate the female scene for many years.

As a person Vera was a delightful companion, jolly and full of fun and understanding. As a player she was not only strong but also absolutely correct and without any prima donna behaviour. Generous in defeat and modest in victory, she set a great example to all her contemporaries.

An example of Vera’s attacking play at its best against her nearest rival, Sonja Graf, is shown by the following game which was played in her 1937 match at Semmering in Austria :

27th November 1936: Britain's world chess champion Vera Menchik (right) and challenger Sonja Graf after signing a contract at the Bloomsbury Hotel, London, to play for the championship of the world over 16 games. (Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
27th November 1936: Britain’s world chess champion Vera Menchik (right) and challenger Sonja Graf after signing a contract at the Bloomsbury Hotel, London, to play for the championship of the world over 16 games. (Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess, (Oxford University Press, 1984) by Hooper and Whyld :

“Woman World Champion from 1927 until her death. Daughter of a Czech father and an English mother, Menchik was born in Moscow, learned chess when she was nine, settled in England around
1921, and took lessons from Maroczy a year or so later. In 1927 FIDE organized both the first Olympiad and the first world championship tournament for women. These events were run concurrently, except in 1928, until the Second World War began, and Menchik won the women’s tournament every time; London 1927 (+10=1); Hamburg 1930 (+6=1 — 1); Prague 1931 (+8);
Folkestone 1933 ( + 14); Warsaw 1935 (+9); Stockholm 1937 (+14); and Buenos Aires 1939 ( + 17=2). She played in her first championship tournament as a Russian, the next five as a Czech,
and the last as a Briton. She also won on two matches against her chief rival, the German-born Sonja Graf (c. 1912-65): Rotterdam, 1934 (+3-1), and Semmering, 1937 (+9=5—2),

Vera Menchik in a pre-event posed picture in which she faces unstoppable checkmate in one from Hastings 193? She was about to play Sir GA Thomas.
Vera Menchik in a pre-event posed picture in which she faces unstoppable checkmate in one from Hastings 193? She was about to play Sir GA Thomas.

In international tournaments which did not exclude men Menchik made little impression; one of her best results was at Maribor 1934 (about category 4) when she took third place alter Pirc and L. Steiner ahead of Spielmann. In 1937 she married the English chess organizer Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson (1878-1943), A chess professional, she gave lessons, lectures, and displays, and was appointed manager of the short-lived National Chess Centre in 1939. In 1942 she defeated Mieses in match play (+4=5-1), She, her younger sister Olga (also a player), and their mother were killed in a bombing raid.

From left to right: Vera Menchik, Alexander Alekhine, Géza Maróczy and Sultan Khan. From London International Masters, 1st February, 1932, French Defence, drawn in 32 moves.
From left to right: Vera Menchik, Alexander Alekhine, Géza Maróczy and Sultan Khan. From London International Masters, 1st February, 1932, French Defence, drawn in 32 moves.

Her style was positional and she had a sound understanding of the endgame. On occasion she defeated in tournament play some of the greatest masters, notably Euwe, Reshevsky, and Sultan Khan. Men she defeated were said to belong to the
Menchik club. When world team championships for women (women’s chess Olympiads) were commenced in 1957 the trophy for the winning team was called the Vera Menchik Cup.”

Vera Menchik commemorated on a postage stamp from the Czech Republic
Vera Menchik commemorated on a postage stamp from the Czech Republic

She was inducted to the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2011.

Here is her Wikipedia  entry.

Vera Menchik: A Biography of the First Women's World Chess Champion, with 350 Complete Games
Vera Menchik: A Biography of the First Women’s World Chess Champion, with 350 Complete Games

Edward Winter was less than impressed with the above book.

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

We focus on the British Chess Scene Past & Present !