Remembering FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009) Source : BCM, 2009, October
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009). Source : BCM, 2009, October

John Eric Littlewood was born in Sheffield on Wednesday, September 16th 1931. His mother’s maiden name was Wheeldon. He last resided in the WN8 postal area of Skelmersdale, West Lancashire.

He became a FIDE Master in 1989 at the age of 58. According to Felice (and ChessBase) his peak FIDE rating was 2395 in January 1980. However, it is certain that it would have been higher than that, in the 1960s and 1970s : more likely 2450 or possibly higher.

John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.

He coached his son Paul who became British Champion in 1981. His brother Norman was also a very strong player.

John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !

From “Chess Coaching” :

John Littlewood is a National Coach and the Director of Junior Chess to the British Chess Federation. He is a FIDE Master with national and international playing experience, and is an established chess writer, translator and journalist.

03-01-1962 37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik (R) playing against John Littlewood of England
03-01-1962 37th Hastings International Chess Congress, 1962. World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik (R) playing against John Littlewood of England

From “Learn Chess 2

“A British Master, formerly Northern Counties Champion and currently (1984) a National Coach for the British Chess Federation. John Littlewood has played for England in several international tournaments, including two Olympiads”

John Littlewood giving a simultaneous display
John Littlewood giving a simultaneous display

John wrote the “Test Your Chess” column in British Chess Magazine under the editorship of Murray Chandler

John Was Northern Counties Chess Union (NCCU) Champion in 1971, 1972, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981 : a record seven times !

John with chess friends
John with chess friends

John won the Appleby-Frodingham Chess Club tournament in 1962 with 3.5/5 :

Appleby-Frodingham Tournament of 1962 crosstable
Appleby-Frodingham Tournament of 1962 crosstable

and then, in the same year came 3= in the British Championships with 7.5/11 :

Truncated crosstable from the 1962 British Championship in Whitby
Truncated crosstable from the 1962 British Championship in Whitby

and in 1969 in Rhyl John was unfortunate not to share the title with Dr. Jonathan Penrose after losing to Frank Parr in the final round :

Truncated crosstable of the British Championships of Rhyl 1969
Truncated crosstable of the British Championships of Rhyl 1969
John Littlewood at Hastings 1963-4. Still taken from Pathe news reel footage
John Littlewood at Hastings 1963-4. Still taken from Pathe news reel footage
John Littlewood playing Wolfgang Unzicker in round one of the 1969-70 Hastings International Congress
John Littlewood playing Wolfgang Unzicker in round one of the 1969-70 Hastings International Congress

John won the Southport Open in 1972 and the picture below was taken shortly afterwards :

John and family following winning the 1972 Southport Open. See the BCM article below for a full caption
John and family following winning the 1972 Southport Open. See the BCM article below for a full caption

John won the Chorley tournament of 1977 with 7/9

Chorley 1977 tournament crosstable
Chorley 1977 tournament crosstable

JEL won the British Chess Federation’s President’s Award in 2000.

FM John Littlewood at 4NCL courtesy of Helen Milligan
FM John Littlewood at 4NCL courtesy of Helen Milligan

In 2006 John won the BCF Veterans / Seniors title for the first time repeating the feat in 2008 sharing with George Dickson.

With the White pieces John almost exclusively played 1.e4 favouring the Wormald Attack, Open Sicilians and the Rossolimo variation.

As the second player John played the Closed Ruy Lopez, the Sicilian Dragon and the Grünfeld defence.

In the following video IM Andrew Martin discusses the game Bisguier – Littlewood, 1962.

Rather than reinventing an already round wheel we reproduce the following ten page tribute in the October 2009 issue of British Chess Magazine. The tribute is by John Saunders :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 536
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 536
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 537
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 537
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 538
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 538
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 539
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 539
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 540
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 540
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 541
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 541
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 542
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 542
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 543
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 543
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 544
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 544
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 545
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIV (129), 2009, Number 10, October, page 545

A rather detailed article from Tartajubow on Chess II

Here is how news of his passing was received on the English Chess Forum

Here is an obituary from Leonard Barden in The Guardian

Here is an obituary published in The Times of London

Farewell to John Littlewood : The Lincolnshire Poacher

and, finally a history of JEL from the Yorkshire Chess Archives

FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

Here is John’s Wikipedia entry

How to Play the Middle Game in Chess by John Littlewood, Collins, 1974
How to Play the Middle Game in Chess by John Littlewood, Collins, 1974
Chess Coaching by John Littlewood, The Crowood Press, 1991
Chess Coaching by John Littlewood, The Crowood Press, 1991
Learn Chess by Edward Penn and John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess by Edward Penn and John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess : Teacher's Book,  by Edward Penn & John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess : Teacher’s Book, by Edward Penn & John Littlewood, Pitman House, 1980
Learn Chess 2 by John Littlewood, Adam & Charles Black, 1984
Learn Chess 2 by John Littlewood, Adam & Charles Black, 1984
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)
FM John Littlewood (25-v-1931 16-ix-2009)

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