Remembering Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry OBE (20-ix-1906 25-iii-1995)
Somewhat surprisingly there is no entry in either Hooper & Whyld or Sunnucks but (as you might expect) Harry Golombek OBE does not let us down :
“British master whose chess career was limited by his amateur status but whose abilities as a player and original theorist rendered him worthy of the title of international master.
Born at Mill Hill in London, he showed early promise and in 1923 won the British Boys Championship, then held at Hastings. He studied classics at Cambridge and developed into the strongest player there. At the university he was to meet C. H. O’D. Alexander with whom he played much chess.”
“Though nearly three years younger, Alexander exerted a strong influence over him and both players cherished and revelled in the brilliance of play in open positions.
On leaving the university went to work in the London Stock Exchange (LSE), but his heart was not in the work and he became chess correspondent of The Times in 1938.
By then along with Alexander and Golombek, he had become recognized as one of the three strongest young players in the country. Whilst not as successful as they were in tournaments as the British championship in which stamina was essential, he was a most formidable club and team match player, as he had already shown in 1933 hen he won the championship of the City of London Club ahead of R. P. Mitchell and Sir George Thomas.
He played in his first International Team tournament at Stockholm 1937 and was to play in three more such events : in 1939 at Buenos Aires where, on third board, he made the fine score of 4/5 ; in Helsinki 1952; and in Moscow 1956 where, again on third board, he was largely responsible for the team’s fine showing.
In 1940 he shared first prize with Dr. List in the strong tournament of semi-international character in London and then, like Alexander and (later) Golombek, helped in the Foreign Office code-breaking activities at Bletchley Park fr the duration of the Second World War. Staying in the Civil Service afterwards, he rose to the rank of Under-Secretary in the Treasury and was knighted for his services in 1975.
After the war, too, he had some fine results in the British championship, his best being second place at Hastings in 1953.
Though never at home in close positions, he was an outstanding strategist in the open game and it is significant that his most important contribution to opening theory was the Milner-Barry variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence which is essentially as attempt to convert a close position into an open one (1.P-Q4, N-KB3; 2.P-QB4, P-K3; 3. N-QB3, B-N5; 4.Q-B2, N-B3).
An excellent though infrequent writer on the game, he wrote a fine memoir of C.H.O’D. Alexander in Golombeks and Hartston’s The Best Games of C.H.O’D. Alexander, Oxford, 1976.
Here is his Wikipedia entry
An obituary from The Independent
An article from Spartacus Educational
Here are his games
More on his time at Bletchley Park
Milner-Barry was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1960-61 season.
From ChessGames.com :
“Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry was born in 1906. A true amateur, he worked in the British Civil Service and was never able to devote all his time to chess. He was part of the team that worked at Bletchley Park, alongside famed cryptanalyst and mathematician Alan Turing and British chess stalwarts Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek, cracking the German Enigma codes. He worked for the Treasury after the War and in 1954 he was promoted to Assistant Secretary, and then to an under-secretary position.
He placed 2nd at Hastings 1953, played on four English Olympic squads from 1937 to 1956, and was chess correspondent for The Times. His name is also associated with a variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence (1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 e6 3.♘c3 ♗b4 4.♕c2 ♘c6), the Milner-Barry Gambit in the Advance French (1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4.c3 ♘c6 5. ♘f3 ♕b6 6.♗d3 cxd4 7.cxd4 ♗d7 8.0-0 ♘xd4 9.♘xd4 ♕xd4 10.♘c3) and the Milner-Barry variation in the Petroff Defence (1.e4 e5 2.♘f3 ♘f6 3.♘xe5 d6 4.♘f3 ♘xe4 5.♕e2 ♕e7 6.d3 ♘f6 7. ♗g5 ♘bd7).
Wikipedia article: Stuart Milner-Barry”
According to Edward Winter in Chess Notes PSMB lived at these addresses :
- 11 Park Terrace, Cambridge, England (Ranneforths Schachkalender, 1938, page 78).
- 43 Blackheath Park, Blackheath, London SE3 9RW, England (letter reproduced in C.N. 3809).