Happy Birthday IM Chris Baker (29-v-1958)

IM Christopher Wallace Baker
IM Christopher Wallace Baker

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Christopher Wallace Baker (29-v-1958)

Chris was born in Coventry, West Midlands and played in the Staffordshire Open in 1975 (the earliest games held in MegaBase 2020).

Chris has played for Guildford in Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

Currently Chris plays for 4NCL The ADs, Coventry Chess Academy and Battersea Chess Club.

He has been the trainer of the Welsh junior team and is a fully-qualified arbiter.

He has taught chess in many schools in the Farnham area of Surrey.

IM Chris Baker
IM Chris Baker

He has authored and co-authored a number of books including the following :

A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire
A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire
Simple Winning Chess
Simple Winning Chess
Learn From Your Chess Mistakes
Learn From Your Chess Mistakes
Dynamic Black Opening Repertoire
Dynamic Black Opening Repertoire
A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire
A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire

Remembering Henry Thomas Buckle (24-xi-1821 29-v-1862)

Henry Thomas Buckle
Henry Thomas Buckle

We remember Henry Thomas Buckle (24-xi-1821 29-v-1862)

His Wikipedia article is here

An interesting article by Ray Keene

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“One of the leading British players of his day and an eminent historian. Buckle was born in Lee, Kent on 11th November 1821., the son of a shipowner. From birth he was extremely delicate and his health prevented him from having a normal education. He was taken away from school at the age of 14 and three years later went into his father’s business. His father’s death in 1840 made Buckle independent and he gave up his business career and visited the continent for about a year, playing chess in Paris and Berlin. Going abroad again in 1843, Buckle spent most of his time studying languages and within seven years had learned to speak seven languages and to read 12 others.
Buckle rarely played chess matches, because of the intense dislike of the slow rate at which they were played in those days. However, he played a match against Kieseritzky in 1848, which he won+4 -3 =1/ After this victory, he realised that his health would not stand up to serious play and he never again attempted it. In 1851, he played a number of games with Anderssen, who considered that he was one of the strongest players he had ever met. Buckle was a regular visitor to “The Divan”, where he delighted in his favourite form of the game, giving heavy odds.
After his match with Lowenthal, Buckle turned his attention to his History of Civilisation. The first section of this work started to appear in 1857 but the major portion was published posthumously.
Buckle died of typhoid fever in Damascus on 29th May 1862.”

Henry Thomas Buckle
Henry Thomas Buckle

and from The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“English player, historian. He is usually regarded as second among English players only to Staunton during the 1840s; Steinitz , however, regarded Buckle as the better player. In 1843 Buckle won a match against Staunton, who conceded pawn and move ( + 6=1), and in 1848 he defeated Kieserltzky ( + 3=3—2). He won a knock-out tournament in London 1849, defeating Williams (+2) in the second round. In 1851 Buckle defeated Lowenthal (+4=3 — 1) and held his own in a series of friendly games against Anderssen who declared him to be the strongest player he had ever met.

Henry Thomas Buckle
Henry Thomas Buckle

In his youth Buckle suffered ill-health which interfered with his schooling, and on account of which he was often sent abroad to fairer climates. Nevertheless he read widely, successfully educating himself and learning to speak seven languages. His father, a merchant, died in 1840 leaving him an ample fortune. In the 1850s Buckle largely gave up serious chess in favour of literary pursuits and began his great work, for which he is still remembered, A History of Civilization in England, the first two volumes of which were published in 1857 and 1861. At Damascus, on one of his many trips abroad, he contracted a fatal illness, allegedly crying as he died “My book! I haven’t finished my
book.”

History of civilization in England
History of civilization in England

Thinker’s Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther : First Steps in Tactics

Thinkers' Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther - Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics
Thinkers’ Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther – Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics

Grandmaster Thomas Luther, born in 1969, is the first player with a disability to have entered the FIDE Top 100 rating list. In 2001 he was ranked 80th in the world. He has won the German Championship three times and is well known as an experienced and successful coach. In 2014 his achievements were recognised by being granted the title of FIDE Senior Trainer. In his career to-date he has published several books and DVDs. This is his second book for Thinkers’ Publishing, after a co-production with Jugend Schach Verlag entitled “Chess Coaching for Kids – the U10 Project.”

GM Thomas Luther
GM Thomas Luther

As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. In fact, for this particular title we have been treated with pleasing glossy paper that gives the book a higher quality feel than usual.

The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.

There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography. However, for a tactics books these items are less crucial, of course. A biography or autobiography would miss these things.

The main content is divided into sixteen chapters :

  1. Notation
  2. Exercises & Mazes
  3. Little Games
  4. Checkmate & Advantage
  5. The Winning Move!
  6. Rules & Behaviour
  7. Find Checkmate in Two Moves!
  8. Tactical Motifs
  9. Double Attack / Fork
  10. The Knight and his Forks
  11. The Skewer
  12. The Pin
  13. How to Handle a Pin
  14. The Overload Motif
  15. Discovered Attack
  16. History of Chess & Checkmate

We have reviewed several tactics books in the last few months and this one from Thomas Luther is really rather interesting. It would appear to have at least two clear target audiences : improving and ambitious juniors and also club players perhaps less than 1900 Elo.

The chapters on Exercises and Mazes and Little Games appeal to myself as a chess teacher and coach since these ideas are rarely presented by GMs. For example :

The rook has to give check to the black King.

He cannot move to a square where he be captured.

He cannot capture pawns, even if they are unprotected.

Make a guess how many moves are needed?

The “Little” Games (most western coaches would refer to these as “Mini” Games) is refreshing and entertaining :

In this position the pawns can overwhelm the bishop!

Following these interesting chapters we move on to more conventional themed tactics problems designed to build-up patterns that are recognizable. Each position has solution text that is aimed at junior and improving players reinforcing what (hopefully) has been learnt.

Chapter 6 (Rules & Behaviour) is somewhat unusual. Etiquette and basic playing advice is rarely discussed but again the focus is improving players. This sort of advice is regularly handed out by teachers and coaches but rarely found in print.

One of the more innovative features of the book are positions in which there is a win depending on who it is to move. Chapter 7 (Find Checkmate in Two Moves!) kicks off this notion and here is an example (there should be both a White and Black to move indicator) :

Before you ask, yes, most of these positions are concocted but that is irrelevant to the teaching aims of the examples.

One pleasing aspect of the bulk of the “normal” tactics chapters is that diagrams are large enough not to need a board and that, as a consequence, one can get a rhythm going almost akin to a “Puzzle Rush” ! Using a stopwatch also is not so silly.

Chapter 16 (History of Chess & Checkmate) will be of interest to perhaps more mature players and takes positions and puts them into a real life context about players current and past.

Not all books that are reviewed are going to be read cover to cover, but we did enjoy working through the examples. We’d say that an improving junior maybe 10+ in years will take to this book and get a lot from it. We are pleased that this book is free of silly cartoons which tend to put off serious juniors. When will publishers realise that cartoons do not enhance a chess book? The presentation is excellent and the material is fun to work on ! Highly recommended : chess parents take note.

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, 28th May, 2020

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 325 pages
  • Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 May 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510723
  • ISBN-13: 978-9492510723
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.5 x 23.1 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Thinkers' Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther - Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics
Thinkers’ Chess Academy with Grandmaster Thomas Luther – Volume 1 First Steps in Tactics

Remembering FM Neil Carr (10-iii-1968 25-v-2015)

FM Neil Carr, British Championships 2013, Torquay, courtesu pf John Upham Photography
FM Neil Carr, British Championships 2013, Torquay, courtesu pf John Upham Photography

BCN remembers FM Neil Leslie Carr (10-iii-1968 25-v-2015)

Here is his obituary from Stewart Reuben

Here is an article from Kingpin Magazine by Jon Manley

Here is an article from EssexChess

The Neil Carr Scholarship Prize

Here is a game courtesy of Kingpin & the Ilford Recorder

Neil Carr (far right) at Paul Buswell's house
Neil Carr (far right) at Paul Buswell’s house

Here is a tribute from long time friend and London Central YMCA fellow club member, IM Andrew Martin :

Neil Carr (front right)
Neil Carr (front right)
Neil Carr (right) with Neil Fox, Stuart Conquest, Paul Buswell and ?
Neil Carr (right) with Neil Fox, Stuart Conquest, Paul Buswell and ?
Neil Carr (rear right) at a BCF National Club Final (1992)
Neil Carr (rear right) at a BCF National Club Final (1992)
Neil Carr, (foreground, right)  at London's South Bank, Peter Sowray in the background.. Photo by Clive Field, London Chess Association
Neil Carr, (foreground, right) at London’s South Bank, Peter Sowray in the background.. Photo by Clive Field, London Chess Association
FM Neil Carr, London Chess Classic 2013, courtesy pf John Upham Photography
FM Neil Carr, London Chess Classic 2013, courtesy pf John Upham Photography

Remembering Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980), scanned from Chess Pie 1922 by Michael McDowell
Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980), scanned from Chess Pie 1922 by Michael McDowell

Remembering Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions, Chandler, who was born on 21st August 1889, has composed about 125 two and three-move problems, all in traditional style. Some 30 have gained tourney honours. He was the chess editor of the Hampshire Telegraph and Post from 1911-1921 and he was a founder member of the British Chess Problem Society, Its Hon. Secretary from 1919 – 1925 and Hon. Secretary and Treasurer since 1951.

G.W.Chandler
Commended “The Problemist” 1960

White to play and mate in two moves

Happy Birthday IM Andrew Ledger (23-v-1969)

IM Andrew Ledger, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Andrew Ledger, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Andrew J Ledger (23-v-1969)

Andrew plays for Blackthorne Russia in Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) plus Woodseats, Sheffield and Yorkshire CA in other leagues and the English Counties Championship.

Andrew has two chess playing brothers, FM David Ledger and Stephen Ledger.

Sultan Khan : The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire

Sultan Khan: The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire
Sultan Khan: The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire

Sultan Khan : The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire : Daniel King

GM Daniel King
GM Daniel King

“Daniel King (1963) is an English grandmaster, coach, journalist and broadcaster. He has written 16 chess books on topics ranging from opening preparation to the self-tutoring How Good is your Chess? and Test Your Chess.”

From the rear cover :

“Sultan Khan arrived in London in 1929. A humble servant from a village in the Punjab, he created a sensation by becoming the British Empire champion. Sultan Khan competed in Europe with the leading chess players of the era. His unorthodox style often stunned his opponents, as Daniel King explains in his examination of the key tournaments in Khan’s career. King has uncovered a wealth of new facts about Khan, as well as dozens of previously unknown games. Now for the first time the full story can be told of how Khan was received in Europe, of his successes in the chess world and his return to obscurity after his departure for India in 1933.”

Daniel King, well known as a writer and broadcaster, here turns his hand to chess history, and one of the most fascinating stories our game has produced.

It would be remiss of me not to mention at the start that Sultan Khan’s family, whom the author chose not to consult,  are very unhappy about the book. You can read a review by Dr Atiyab Sultan, Sultan Khan’s granddaughter, here.

Dr Sultan and her father also write about Sultan Khan here.

I’ll leave that with you: you can decide for yourself whether or not it will deter you from buying the book. I have my views but prefer to concentrate on the chess.

Malik Mir Sultan Khan
Malik Mir Sultan Khan

What we have is a collection of Sultan Khan’s most interesting games (in some cases only the opening or conclusion) with excellent annotations. It’s not a ‘Best Games’ collection: there are plenty of draws and losses. As you would expect from such an experienced commentator, King knows exactly what, and how much, to tell you. You’ll get clear and concise verbal explanations, with variations only when necessary: an approach entirely suited to Khan’s style of play.

Sultan Khan’s openings were sometimes very poor, even by the standards of the day, on occasion running into trouble by neglecting the essentials of development and king safety, and not always learning from his mistakes. You won’t find a lot of brilliant tactics and sacrifices in his games, either. But he excelled at manoeuvring, and was an outstanding endgame player, winning many points through sheer determination. It was these skills that enabled him to beat Capablanca, draw with Alekhine, and reach, according to Jeff Sonas, the world’s top ten.

Here’s his most famous game, which is treated to six pages of annotations in the book.

King offers a lot more than just the games, though. The descriptions of the events in which Sultan Khan participated are enlivened by contemporary reports from newspapers and magazines which portray a vivid picture of the chess world 90 years ago, and of how Khan was perceived within the chess community. Then as now, newspapers would sometimes send non-playing journalists to write a ‘let’s laugh at the weird chess players’ article. Here, for example, is a Daily Herald reporter visiting Hastings for the 1930-31 congress. “DRAWING THE LONG BROW AT HASTINGS”, chortled the headline. “Moving (sometimes) scenes at chess congress.” Yes, very droll.

Although Sultan Khan was a very popular member of the British chess community, much respected for his quiet and modest demeanour, remarks which would today be considered racist sometimes appeared in the press. The London Evening News on Hastings 1932-33: “Sultan Khan, the British Champion, of course, did well; but he is not English by birth, which makes a difference.”

Malik Mir Sultan Khan (right)
Malik Mir Sultan Khan (right)

King also sketches in the political background behind Sultan Khan’s time in England: the discussions concerning the future of the Indian subcontinent which would eventually lead to independence and the partition in 1947. Writing as someone with embarrassingly little knowledge of the subject, I thought these sections of the book were written with sensitivity and impartiality, but, as the partition is still highly emotive today, I quite understand why others might take a different view.

My main problem with the book is the lack of indexing. There’s an index of names, but I’d also expect indexes of games and openings: something I’d consider essential for a book of this nature. While it was interesting to read something of the history of Western chess in India, a section on John Cochrane would have been useful. I noticed a couple of errors in tournament crosstables (pp 22 and 309), and on p322, EM Jackson mysteriously becomes EM Mackenzie (his middle name).

What you don’t get is a definitive and complete biography and games collection such as McFarland might publish, but Daniel King knows his audience well, and, from the chess perspective, does a thoroughly professional job. If you don’t feel strongly about Sultan Khan’s family’s criticisms, then this book is highly recommended, telling a story full of chess, human and historical interest.

You can see some sample pages on the publisher’s website.

Some more links for anyone interested in finding out more about Sultan Khan:

An article by chess.com blogger simaginfan (Neil Blackburn)

Edward Winter’s feature article about Sultan Khan

A short documentary from 1990 about Sultan Khan and Miss Fatima

Richard James, Twickenham 22nd May 2020

Richard James
. Richard James

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 372 pages
  • Publisher: New In chess (1 Mar. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9056918745
  • ISBN-13: 978-9056918743
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 23.1 cm

Official web site of New in Chess

Sultan Khan: The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire
Sultan Khan: The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire

Happy Birthday IM John Cox (22-v-1962)

IM John Cox, courtesy John Upham Photography
IM John Cox, courtesy John Upham Photography

BCN sends best wishes to IM John James Cox on his birthday, this day, in 1962.

John was born in Altrincham, Trafford, Greater Manchester and moved to Shropshire at the age of three.

John attended Eton College playing top board in the Sunday Times National Schools Competition during the 1977 – 1979 period.

John read classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and played in the 1982, 1983 and 1984 varsity matches for Oxford versus Cambridge.

He became a FIDE Master in 1982, an International Master in 2002 and obtained a peak rating of 2423 in January of 2006.

John is a solicitor, owning his own practice of 30 years.

He is an expert bridge player and an amateur rock climber / mountaineer.

John plays for Cavendish in the London League, Hackney in other leagues and Barbican in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

From the excellent Shropshire Chess web site we have :

John Cox, aged 17, photographer unknown
John Cox, aged 17, photographer unknown

“Probably the best home reared player to come out of the county, John Cox started to play at age 6 with his father Jeff (see above) joining Shrewsbury Chess Club at age 7. At age10 he became joint Shropshire lightning champion. He was 16 when he won the 1979 county championship though much of his early success was outside the county. He gained his first FM norm at the 1980 Lloyds Bank Masters where he became the first Shropshire player to beat a GM (see below), also drawing with IM’s Ligterink and Pytel. In 1981 he gained his third norm and the FM title at Ramsgate together with his first IM norm. Though now based in London, he is still a regular visitor to the local Wrekin Congress.”

Here is his Wikipedia entry

John Cox  (first from left) at a Lloyds Bank event.
John Cox (first from left) at a Lloyds Bank event.
John Cox (left, rear)
John Cox (left, rear)
John Cox (left, rear) at a Lloyds Bank Varsity match
John Cox (left, rear) at a Lloyds Bank Varsity match
IM John Cox, courtesy John Upham Photography
IM John Cox, courtesy John Upham Photography
Starting out  1.d4 ! by John Cox
Starting out 1.d4 ! by John Cox
Dangerous Weapons : The Ruy Lopez
Dangerous Weapons : The Ruy Lopez
Starting Out : Alekhine's Defence
Starting Out : Alekhine’s Defence
Dealing with d4 Deviations
Dealing with d4 Deviations
Starting Out : Sicilian Sveshnikov
Starting Out : Sicilian Sveshnikov
The Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall

Many Happy Returns : GM Jonathan Parker (19-v-1976)

GM Jonathan Francis Parker, courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Jonathan Francis Parker, courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN sends best wishes to GM Jonathan Francis Parker on his birthday, this day, in 1976.

Jonathan became a FIDE Master in 1991, and International Master in 1993 and a Grandmaster in 2001. His peak rating was 2570 in July 2002.

Jonathan plays for Cavendish in the London League and Barbican in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

According to chessgames.com : “Grandmaster from England. Parker won the Berlin Summer Open in August 1998.”

Jonathan Parker
Jonathan Parker

Many Happy Returns IM Andrew Martin (18-v-1957)

IM Andrew Martin
IM Andrew Martin

BCN wishes IM Andrew Martin many happy returns on his birthday (18-v-1957)

From ChessBase :

Andrew David Martin (born 18th May 1957 in West Ham, London) is an English chess player with the title of international master. Martin has won various national and international tournaments. He has been playing for years in the Four Nations Chess League, at present (July 2009) for Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher, previously for the Camberley Chess Club. Martin received his title as international master in 1984. He earned his first grandmaster norm in the British Championship of 1997 in Brighton. Martin was a commentator on the chess world championship between Kasparov and Kramnik in 2000.
On the 21st February 2004 Martin set a new world record for simultaneous chess.

He faced 321 chess players at the same time. His result was: 294 wins, 26 draws and only one loss. Martin is known as a professional chess teacher and head trainer of the English youth team. He trains eight schools (Yateley Manor, Aldro, Millfield, Sunningdale, Waverley School, St Michael’s Sandhurst, Wellington College, Salesian College). Martin is a chess columnist, an author of chess books and the author of various instructional videos. He was the publisher of the series Trends Publications. Martin lives in Sandhurst, England, is married and the father of two daughters and two sons. His present Elo rating is 2423 (as of July 2009).

Andrew coaching students
Andrew coaching students

The above is somewhat inaccurate and out of date. Andrew came from East Ham rather than West Ham. He was the editor rather than the publisher of Trends Publications and he lives in Bramley, Surrey with his partner Naomi.

On July 23rd 1981 a world record attempt of continuous blitz games was undertaken at the National Film Theatre in London with much support of the membership of London Central YMCA.

Yours Truly (John Upham) plays Andrew Martin at the NFT
Yours Truly (John Upham) plays Andrew Martin at the NFT

Andrew now plays for Camberley and Guildford clubs in the Berkshire and Surrey Border Leagues and is former member of London Central YMCA (CentYMCA), Wood Green and Barbican clubs.

Andrew plays JJ Ady whilst Simon LeBlanq observes at the London Central YMCA
Andrew plays JJ Ady whilst Simon LeBlanq observes at the London Central YMCA

Andrew has written many books starting as Editor of the “Trends Series” for Tournament Chess owned by Richard O’Brien (Not of The Crystal Maze). He has authored numerous DVDs for Foxy Videos and ChessBase and has a YouTube Channel focused on young and improving players called “Andrew Martin – Chess Explorations“.

Andrew’s first book as author was this one :

Winning With the King's Indian, Caissa Publishing, Andrew Martin, 1989
Winning With the King’s Indian, Caissa Publishing, Andrew Martin, 1989

Here is one his favourite games :

Trends in the Slav Defence, Tournament Chess, Andrew Martin, 1990
Trends in the Slav Defence, Tournament Chess, Andrew Martin, 1990
The Contemporary Anti-Dutch, 1990
The Contemporary Anti-Dutch, 1990

Here is a second memorable game :

Secret Weapons, Tournament Chess, 1991
Secret Weapons, Tournament Chess, 1991
Short, Tournament Chess, 1993
Short, Tournament Chess, 1993
Alekhine's Defence, 2001
Alekhine’s Defence, 2001
The Essential Center-Counter, 2004
The Essential Center-Counter, 2004
King's Indian Battle Plans, 2004
King’s Indian Battle Plans, 2004
The Hippopotamus Rises, 2005
The Hippopotamus Rises, 2005
Play the Benko Gambit, 2007
Play the Benko Gambit, 2007
First Steps : Queen's Gambit, 2016
First Steps : Queen’s Gambit, 2016
First Steps : Caro-Kann Defence, 2018
First Steps : Caro-Kann Defence, 2018
First Steps : King's Indian Defence, 2019
First Steps : King’s Indian Defence, 2019

and finally this game was very pleasing :

Chess Hacker, Andrew Martin, Thinkers Press, 2019
Chess Hacker, Andrew Martin, Thinkers Press, 2019

We focus on the British Chess Scene Past & Present !