Ninety-two today is Leonard William Barden, born Tuesday, August 20th, 1929.
His mother’s maiden was Bartholomew and she became Elise EM Barden when she married Leonard’s father who was William C Barden (a dustman) and in 1939 they lived at 89, Tennison Road, Croydon.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek OBE:
“British Master and joint British Champion 1954. Barden was born in Croydon and learned to play at his school, Whitgift, which became a frequent producer of fine players.
In 1946 he tied for first place in the London Boys Championship and in the following year he tied with Jonathan Penrose for first place in the British Boys Championship, but lost the play-off.
In 1952 he came first at Paignton ahead of the Canadian Grandmaster Yanofsky and he reached his peak in 1954 when , after tieing for first place with the Belgian Grandmaster O’Kelly de Galway at Bognor, he tied for for first place in the British Championship at Nottingham with A. Phillips. The play-off was drawn and so the players became joint champions.
He played for the BCF in four Olympiads from 1952 to 1962 and then abandoned competitive chess, applying all his energies to writing (he is chess correspondent of the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Evening Standard and the Field, and has written many books on the game.
He has also developed two special interests, in junior chess and in grading, working with utmost persistence and energy in both of these fields.
Amongst his best works are : a A Guide to Chess Openings, London, 1957; The Ruy Lopez, Oxford, 1963; The King’s Indian Defence, London, 1968.”
Disappointingly Sunnucks Encyclopedia does not mention Barden at all and and surprisingly Hooper and Whyld’s usually excellent Oxford Companion only from a connection with Jim Slater.
Leonard Bardens’ Evening Standard column ends after 63 Years
Here is an in-depth article from Edward Winter
Leonard Barden’s Blunder Theory from Kingpin Magazine
54-Year-Old Chess Record established in 2009
From Wikipedia :
“Leonard William Barden (born 20 August 1929, in Croydon, London) is an English chess master, writer, broadcaster, organizer and promoter. The son of a dustman, he was educated at Whitgift School, South Croydon, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Modern History.
He learned to play chess at age 13 while in a school shelter during a World War II German air raid. Within a few years he became one of the country’s leading juniors. He represented England in four Chess Olympiads. Barden played a major role in the rise of English chess from the 1970s. As a chess columnist for various newspapers, his column in London’s Evening Standard is the world’s longest-standing chess column.
In 1946, Barden won the British Junior Correspondence Chess Championship, and tied for first place in the London Boys’ Championship. The following year he tied for first with Jonathan Penrose in the British Boys’ Championship, but lost the playoff.
Barden finished fourth at Hastings in 1951–52. In 1952, he won the Paignton tournament ahead of the Canadian future grandmaster Daniel Yanofsky. He captained the Oxfordshire team which won the English Counties championship in 1951 and 1952.
In the latter year he captained the University of Oxford team which won the National Club Championship, and he represented the university in the annual team match against the University of Cambridge during his years there. In 1953, he won the individual British Lightning Championship (ten seconds a move).
(ed: the above event was “won” by Dr. PM List with 15.5/18 but he was not allowed the title. Leonard together with AY Green and KR Smith scored 13/18 and won the play-off).
The following year, he tied for first with the Belgian grandmaster Albéric O’Kelly de Galway at Bognor Regis, was joint British champion, with Alan Phillips, and won the Southern Counties Championship.
He finished fourth at Hastings 1957–58, ranked by chessmetrics as his best statistical performance. In the 1958 British Chess Championship, Barden again tied for first, but lost the playoff match to Penrose 1½–3½.
He represented England in the Chess Olympiads at Helsinki 1952 (playing fourth board, scoring 2 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses), Amsterdam 1954 (playing first reserve, scoring 1 win, 2 draws, and 4 losses), Leipzig 1960 (first reserve; 4 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses) and Varna 1962 (first reserve; 7 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses). The latter was his best performance by far.
Barden has a Morphy number of 3, having drawn with Jacques Mieses in the Premier Reserves at Hastings 1948–49. Mieses drew with Henry Bird in the last round of Hastings 1895, and Bird played a number of games with Paul Morphy in 1858 and 1859.
In 1964, Barden gave up most competitive chess to devote his time to chess organisation, broadcasting, and writing about the game. He has made invaluable contributions to English chess as a populariser, writer, organiser, fundraiser, and broadcaster.
He was controller of the British Chess Federation Grand Prix for many years, having found its first sponsor, Cutty Sark. He was a regular contributor to the BBC’s Network Three weekly radio chess programme from 1958 to 1963. His best-known contribution was a consultation game, recorded in 1960 and broadcast in 1961, where he partnered Bobby Fischer against the English masters Jonathan Penrose and Peter Clarke. This was the only recorded consultation game of Fischer’s career. The game, unfinished after eight hours of play, was adjudicated a draw by former world champion Max Euwe. Barden gave BBC television commentaries on all the games in the 1972 world championship. From 1973 to 1978 he was co-presenter of BBC2’s annual Master Game televised programme.
As of 2021, his weekly columns have been published in The Guardian for 65 years and in The Financial Times for 46 years. A typical Barden column not only contains a readable tournament report, but is geared toward promoting the game. His London Evening Standard column, begun in summer 1956, is now the world’s longest running daily chess column by the same author, breaking the previous record set by George Koltanowski in the San Francisco Chronicle. Koltanowski’s column ran for 51 years, 9 months, and 18 days, including posthumous articles.”
Leonard wrote this on the English Chess Forum in 2021 :
“I retired after Ilford 1964 when I finished a poor last in the England Olympiad team qualifier, returned at Hammersmith 1969 (equal 2nd behind Keene) and then played around 6-8 weekenders a year until 1972. My overall performance level between early 60s and early 70s dropped from around 225 to 215 BCF, so I wasn’t encouraged to pursue the comeback further.”
Leonard was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion in the 1953-54 season.
Leonard reveals this as his best game :
Leonard has authored or co-authored a number of highly regarded books, most of which are highly instructional to this day:
A Guide to Chess Openings (1957),
How Good Is Your Chess? (1957),
Introduction to Chess Moves and Tactics Simply Explained (1959),
Modern Chess Miniatures (with Wolfgang Heidenfeld, 1960),
Erevan 1962 (1963),
The Ruy Lopez (1963),
The Guardian Chess Book (1967),
An Introduction to Chess (1967),
The King’s Indian Defence (1969),
Chess: Master the Moves (1977),
Guide to the Chess Openings (with Tim Harding, 1977),
Leonard Barden’s Chess Puzzle Book (1977) (a collection of his Evening Standard columns),
The Master Game (with Jeremy James, 1979),
How to Play the Endgame in Chess (1979),
Play Better Chess (1980),
Batsford Chess Puzzles (2002),
One Move and You’re Dead (with Erwin Brecher, 2007) : Can you supply an image?
16 thoughts on “Happy 92nd Birthday Leonard Barden (20-viii-1929)”
I hope Mr Barden isn’t too distressed at what seems to have happened to his childhood home. What a desertscape of cars and concrete. Back in the 30s and 40s there’d have been proper gardens in front of those houses, with gates.