All posts by John Upham

John Upham is the founder of British Chess News, staff photographer and the IT Manager. John performed similar roles for British Chess Magazine from 2011 until 2015. John is an English Chess Federation accredited coach and has taught in schools and privately since 2009. John started chess relatively late(!) at the age of twelve following the huge interest in the Spassky-Fischer World Championship match in 1972. John is Membership Secretary of Camberley Chess Club and an ordinary member of Crowthorne and Guildford Chess Clubs. John plays for Hampshire and for 4NCL Crowthorne. John is Secretary of the Hampshire Junior Chess Association and the Berkshire Chess Association and manages the Chess for Schools partnership.

Remembering IM Bob Wade OBE (10-iv-1921 29-xi-2008)

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

We remember IM Robert Graham Wade OBE who passed away on November 29th, 2008.

In 1979 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Civil Division Bob Wade was awarded the OBE. The citation read simply : “For services to Chess”

He won the BCF Presidents’s Award in 1986.

In the Foreword to the 2009 ECF Yearbook, President Gerry Walsh wrote :

“As I started this report I had just heard the sad news that IM Bob Wade had died aged 87. I first met Bob at one of the Whitby Congresses and in 1972 he played in the Teeside GM Tournament where I recall he beat the three Hungarian players Portisch, Bilek and Sax (ed : aged 51).”

Geurt Gijssen wrote in Chesscafe.com :

“I received the sad news that Bob Wade passed away at the age of eighty seven. He played his last tournament in London in August. When I was young I read about his exploits as a chess player, and he was the arbiter in many important chess events. I met him in 1993 when I was the organizer of the first part of the match Karpov – Timman, played in The Netherlands in three different cities: Zwolle, Arnhem, and Amsterdam. He was the only member of the Appeals Committee and Bob was always present watching the games in the playing hall. He gave me invaluable advice about all elements of the match venues. It was very clear that he was an experienced chess player and arbiter, and I learned many things from him. May he rest in peace.”

From the 1952 Ilford Congress (30 May - 2 June) and originally published in BCM, July 1952, page 187. (l-r) : Harold Israel, Alan Phillips, Bob Wade, Otto Friedman, Abe Yanofsky, Alfred William Bowen and Harold Meek. Thanks to John Saunders and Leonard Barden
From the 1952 Ilford Congress (30 May – 2 June) and originally published in BCM, July 1952, page 187. (l-r) : Harold Israel, Alan Phillips, Bob Wade, Otto Friedman, Abe Yanofsky, Alfred William Bowen and Harold Meek. Thanks to John Saunders and Leonard Barden

Wade was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1956-57, 1957-58 and 1964-65 seasons.

From the Preface of The World Chess Championship : 1951 by Lionel Sharples Penrose we have :

“Mr. Wade is also passionately devoted to the game. Before coming to Europe, he was three times champion of New Zealand. He had played in tournaments in England but his chief successes have been on the Continent. At Venice in 1950, he obtained a high place in a very severe contest in which some of the strongest Russia, Czech, Dutch, French, Italian, North and South American players took part. Much of his time is occupied in chess organising and teaching. He is an acting vice-president of the F.I.D.É and in this official capacity he attended the match in Moscow, which is the subject of this book.”

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

Simon Spivack & Paul McKeown have researched the earliest part of Bob’s life as follows:

“On May 20th, 1919, Thomas Graham Wade, aged 27, Sergeant in the NZ Expeditionary Force, repatriated with honour from war-time service in Egypt, Gallipoli and France, married Amy Lilian Neave, aged 21, in South Dunedin. A New Zealander of Scots and English descent, his family was Graham from Montrose. The family name, Wade, came from Marshall George Wade, the soldier and engineer who led the Hanoverian forces against the Scots at the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and was immortalised in the original third verse of the British national anthem:

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.

May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

Robert Graham Wade, known in the Scots manner to his family as Robin, and later to his many friends as Bob, was their first child, born April 10th, 1921, at Dunedin. Over the next few years he was joined by sisters, Lilian, Agnes, Betty, June, his brother Ted and finally by his youngest sister Amy. The family lived for a number of years at Portobello.

At that time, Portobello was a scattered community of about 150 people with three shops and a pub on the Otago Peninsula. Bob attended Portobello Primary School, a small country school, finished “dux” or top of class, and then attended the King Edward Technical High School at Stuart Street in Dunedin.”

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

In The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984 & 1996), Hooper & Whyld:

“Wade Variation, 147, also known as the Modern Variation, in the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Meran Variation, from Bogoljubow-Wade, Oldenburg, 1949;

1239 in the French Defence, introduced by Wade in a match against Schmid in 1950.

Hooper & Whyld go on to write :

“New Zealand-born Robert Graham Wade (1921- ) won the championship of his homeland three times before moving to England as a young man, He won the British Championship twice and trained many English players.”

Aside from the two variations mentioned by Hooper & Whyld there are other Wade Variations :

which Jim Plaskett dubbed the “Sidestep Variation”

and

which is the Pytel-Wade Variation of the Scandinavian Defence.

Anne Sunnucks wrote in The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) :

“International Master (1950 Ed: actually 1954), International Judge (1958), New Zealand Champion three times and British Champion in 1952 and 1970.

Bob Wade was born in New Zealand on 10th April 1921 and is a professional chess player. He has lived in England for many years and has played regularly for the British Chess Federation team in Chess Olympiads. He has played a prominent part in coaching schemes for juniors and is largely responsible fpr recent successes of English juniors in international events.

He is chess correspondent of Associated Newspapers and Independent Television News and editor of a series of books on Contemporary Chess Openings published by Batsford.

Author of a number of books on the game, his publications include books on the World Championship of 1951, 1957 (ed : this book was, in fact, by Golombek) and 1963, the first in collaboration with W. Winter; The Closed Ruy Lopez (Batsford, 1970) in collaboration with LS Blackstock and PJ Booth: World Chess Championship (Batsford, 1972) in collaboration with S.Gligoric; Games of RJ Fischer (Batsford, 1972) in collaboration with KJ O’Connell and Soviet Chess (Neville Spearman, 1968).

Wade was a member of the FIDE Laws Commission from 1950 to 1952.”

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

“International Master who was born at Dunedin, New Zealand, but came to live In England in 1946 and has represented both countries on different occasions. He has nearly always done well in British Championships and won the title in Chester in 1952 and again at Coventry in 1970. He had played for the British Chess Federation at the Olympiads of 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1962, winning the shortest game of the Varna Olympiad in that year in nine moves against Anton Kinzel of Austria

He played for the New Zealand team at the 1970 Olympiad at Siegen but returned to the BCF team at Skopje in 1972.

His best individual international results were a fifth place at Venice 1950 and again fifth at the Masters section of the Capablanca Memorial at Cienfuegos in Cuba in 1975. Possessor of a sharp clear-cut style of play, he once drew a match with the West German grandmaster Lothar Schmid with neither side drawing a game, though this was before Schmid received the grandmaster title.

He has done much valuable work in England teaching the young, and was responsible for the text of a highly successful television series in 1975.

His main books are : Soviet Chess, London, 1967; Botvinnik-Bronstein Match 1951 (in co-operation with W. Winter), London, Toronto 1951; Match Petrosian-Botvinnik, London, 1963; Sousse 1967, The Chess Player, Nottingham, 1968.”

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) we have this article from George Botterill :

“In the Birthday Honours list of 1979 Bob Wade was awarded the OBE for his services to chess. Few rewards can have been more thoroughly earned. For some reason, Bob has always been held in greater esteem abroad than in the country for which he has done so much. But they many players who have turned to him fro advice or who have simply enjoyed his hospitality, which is always ungrudgingly available to fellow chess players, know the measure of his dedication to the game.

Theodore Tylor vs Bob Wade at Paignton 1953. Bob held TT to a draw to secure first place.
Theodore Tylor vs Bob Wade at Paignton 1953. Bob held TT to a draw to secure first place

Wade was born in Dunedin, a third generation New Zealander of Scots and English ancestry. He started a a career as a civil servant in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Having won the New Zealand Championship in 1944 and 1945 he was sent over to participate in the British Championship of 1946. The result was not exactly a success – a mere 3.5 points out of 11. But Bob was not to be disheartened so easily. Feeling he was capable of better things, he took leave of absence in 1947 and did the circuit, such as it then was, of chess tournament in Europe and North America.

Bob giving a simul in Leeds in the 1950s
Bob giving a simul in Leeds in the 1950s

When he returned to New Zealand he found that he had been transferred to another department in a civil service reorganisation. The new job was not so congenial. He stuck it out for 6 months – during which time he won the New Zealand Championship for a third time – and then handed in his resignation to take up the precarious life of a chess professional.

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

Settling in Britain he soon gained the IM title (ed : 1954). But even in those days when still a young man Wade did not concentrate exclusively on his own playing career. In 1949 he went to the FIDE congress and was one of the five people – the others were BH Wood, Ragozin, Zubarev and Rogarde – who collaborated on the writing of the official rules for the game.

Bob Wade OBE, Murray Chandler MNZM and David Anderton OBE at the 1986 Dubai Olympiad. Photograph by Frits Agterdenbos
Bob Wade OBE, Murray Chandler MNZM and David Anderton OBE at the 1986 Dubai Olympiad. Photograph by Frits Agterdenbos

He also served as a member of the commission that determined who the original holders of international titles would be. When you consider that Wade was also on the 1950 commission that decided the composition of the World Championship Interzonals, it becomes apparent that this man played a significant part in the shaping the structure of modern international chess.

Bob at a CentYMCA event with Neil Carr, Mike Wills, Aaron Rose and Jon Ady
Bob at a CentYMCA event with Neil Carr, Mike Wills, Aaron Rose and Jon Ady

Although rarely at the top in international tournaments, Wade was always a very dangerous player, capable on his day of beating anybody in the world. He won the British Championship twice at Chester in 1952 and at Coventry in 1970.

Bob playing Kick Langeweg at IBM 1961.
Bob playing Kick Langeweg at IBM 1961.

In recent years Wade has put his main energies into junior training and organisation and also into his work as the editor of Batsford’s highly productive and extremely successful series of chess books.

Bob with John Nunn and Boris Spassky at the GLC Masters
Bob with John Nunn and Boris Spassky at the GLC Masters

It is hard to say in what department one should place Wade’s greatest contributions to British Chess. Living through what is retrospect look to have been the Dark Ages of British chess – the 1950s and 1960s – he has demonstrated that even in a social and cultural environment that made playing chess economically ‘impossible’ profession to follow it was still possible to dedicate a life to chess, if one had the determination.

Leonard Barden, Henry Mutkin, Adrian Hollis and Bob Wade observe Nick Ivell vs Ken Regan at the 1983 Varsity match
Leonard Barden, Henry Mutkin, Adrian Hollis and Bob Wade observe Nick Ivell vs Ken Regan at the 1983 Varsity match

During those years he was really the only British Player who regularly active in international tournaments. Since then he has been constantly active as an author, editor and adviser, always working to transform Britain into a country more congenial to good chess.

Bob at the demo board at London Central YMCA chess club.
Bob at the demo board at London Central YMCA chess club.

But we suspect that he might regard this role as trainer and coach as the most important thing of all. He is, quite appropriately the British Chess Federation’s Chief National Coach.

Bob doing one of the things he loved best : teaching. He was discussing  a position  at Havana 1965. Dr JR Capablanca, son of the former world champion, on the right, interpreted.
Bob doing one of the things he loved best : teaching. He was discussing a position at Havana 1965. Dr JR Capablanca, son of the former world champion, on the right, interpreted.

If one had to choose a single best game from Wade’s whole tournament career, it would probably be this one.

George Botterill

Dr. Fazekas (left) playing Bob Wade at an Ilford Congress, photographer unknown
Dr. Fazekas (left) playing Bob Wade at an Ilford Congress, photographer unknown

In the January 2009 issue of British Chess Magazine John Saunders wrote a ten page obituary as follows :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43

Leonard Barden wrote this obituary

Here is Bob’s Telegraph obituary.

John Saunders interviewed Bob at his Blackheath home and wrote this extensive article for the 1999 British Chess Magazine.

His detailed results in Olympiads, from olimpbase.org, follow.

Amsterdam 1954, England board 4, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Moscow 1956, England board 3, 6½/14 (+2−3=9);
Munich 1958, England 1st reserve, 7/14 (+5−5=4);
Leipzig 1960, England 2nd reserve, 6/11 (+4−3=4);
Varna 1962, England 2nd reserve, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Siegen 1970, New Zealand board 2, 9/15 (+7−4=4);
Skopje 1972, England board 3, 7½/14 (+4−3=7).
Wade won several middle-strength Master events in the British Isles: Ilford 1957 and 1968, Paignton 1959, Dublin 1962, and Southend-on-Sea 1965.

Wade was generally no more than a middle-ranking player in strong international tournaments. His other highlights against high-standard international-level competition include:

tied 4–5th at Haifa/Tel Aviv 1958 on 7½/13 (winner Samuel Reshevsky);
3rd at Bognor Regis 1959 on 7/10 (winner Erno Gereben);
5th at Reykjavík 1964 on 7½/13 (winner Mikhail Tal);
tied 4–5th at Málaga 1966 on 7/11; (winners Alberic O’Kelly de Galway and Eleazar Jiménez);
6th at Briseck 1971 on 7/13 (winner Gideon Barcza);
5th at Cienfuegos ‘B’ 1975 on 10/17; (winners Julio Boudy and Amador Rodriguez);
tied 7–12th in the World Senior Championship, Bad Woerishofen 1992, on 7½/11 (winner Efim Geller).
Wade was the only British player to have faced Bobby Fischer in tournament play (outside of Olympiads). They met three times, with Wade drawing one game and losing the other two.

His detailed wikipedia entry may be found here

Bob was an active and wrote (or co-wrote) around 16 books as follows :

The World Chess Championship, W.Winter & RG Wade, Turnstille Press, 1951
The World Chess Championship, W.Winter & RG Wade, Turnstille Press, 1951
Chess Tactics for Beginners, RG Wade, Bott and Morrison, 1960
Chess Tactics for Beginners, RG Wade, Bott and Morrison, 1960
The World Chess Championship: 1963 Botvinnik vs Petrosian, Wade
The World Chess Championship: 1963 Botvinnik vs Petrosian, Wade
Soviet Chess, RG Wade, Neville Spearman (UK), David McKay Company, Inc, New York, 1968
Soviet Chess, RG Wade, Neville Spearman (UK) & David McKay Company, Inc, New York, 1968
Sousse 1967 : International Chess Tournament, RG Wade, The Chess Player, 1968
Sousse 1967 : International Chess Tournament, RG Wade, The Chess Player, 1968
The Closed Ruy Lopez, Wade, Blackstock and Booth, Batsford, 1970
The Closed Ruy Lopez, Wade, Blackstock and Booth, Batsford, 1970
Palma 1970 : Interzonal Chess Tournament, RG Wade and LS Blackstock, The Chess Player, 1970
Palma 1970 : Interzonal Chess Tournament, RG Wade and LS Blackstock, The Chess Player, 1970
The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Robert Wade and O'Connell, Batsford 1972, 2nd ed. 1972, reprinted 1973, First limp edition 1981, Reprinted 1985, 1981, 1989, Second edition (The Complete Games of Bobby Fischer) 1992
The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Robert Wade and O’Connell, Batsford 1972, 2nd ed. 1972, reprinted 1973, First limp edition 1981, Reprinted 1985, 1981, 1989, Second edition (The Complete Games of Bobby Fischer) 1992
World Championship Interzonals, Wade, Blackstock and Kotov, Batsford, 1974
World Championship Interzonals, Wade, Blackstock and Kotov, Batsford, 1974
The World Chess Championship, Gligoric and Wade, Batsford, 1974
The World Chess Championship, Gligoric and Wade, Batsford, 1974
The Marshall Attack, Wade & Harding, Batsford, 1974
The Marshall Attack, Wade & Harding, Batsford, 1974
Playing Chess, RG Wade, Batsford/TVTimes, 1974
Playing Chess, RG Wade, Batsford/TVTimes, 1974
Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan, 1978, Batsford, Wade, Speelman, Povah and Blackstock
Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan, 1978, Batsford, Wade, Speelman, Povah and Blackstock
Fighting Chess, Kasparov and Wade, Harper Collins, 1983
Fighting Chess, Kasparov and Wade, Harper Collins, 1983
Trends in the Reti, Volume 1, RG Wade, 1992
Trends in the Reti, Volume 1, RG Wade, 1992
Batsford Chess Endings, Speelman, Tisdall and Wade, 1993
Batsford Chess Endings, Speelman, Tisdall and Wade, 1993
Chess for Children, Ted Nottingham and Bob Wade, Sterling Juvenile, 1996
Chess for Children, Ted Nottingham and Bob Wade, Sterling Juvenile, 1996
Trends in the Reti, Volume 2, RG Wade, 1996
Trends in the Reti, Volume 2, RG Wade, 1996
Winning Chess : Tactics and Strategies, Sterling Juvenile, 2001
Winning Chess : Tactics and Strategies, Sterling Juvenile, 2001

In 2007 Ray Cannon published the following tribute :

Bob Wade : Tribute to a Chess Master, Ray Cannon & Ray Keene, Impala, 2007
Bob Wade : Tribute to a Chess Master, Ray Cannon & Ray Keene, Impala, 2007

However, Paul McKeown remains Bob’s official biographer.

IM Robert Wade OBE
IM Robert Wade OBE

Remembering Anthony Dickins (01-xi-1914 25-xi-1987)

Anthony Dickins (01-xi-1914 25-xi-1987)
Anthony Dickins (01-xi-1914 25-xi-1987)

We remember Anthony Dickins who passed away this day (Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987.

Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins was born at 1 Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset on Sunday, November 1st, 1914. On this day was the Battle of Coronel — The Royal Navy suffered its first defeat of World War I, after a British squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock met and was defeated by superior German forces led by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee in the eastern Pacific.

1, Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset, BA1 2QA
1, Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset, BA1 2QA

Anthony’s parents were Frederick and Florence Dickins (née Mackay) Frederick was a Captain in the Royal Artillery and was born on 25th November 1879, commissioned on May 26th 1900. He became a Colonel on 26th May 1930 and retired November 25th 1936. He was alive in 1972 (aged 92) and living in Bexhill passing away aged 101/102. He was awarded the CIE which is “Companion, Order of the Indian Empire in 1914”.

Anthony was baptised on December 29th in Seend, Wiltshire. Anthony had a brother Frederick James Douglas born in 1907 who married Nellie or Peggie Moist (records are unclear).

It would appear that Florence and Anthony (aged 5) travelled to Bombay from Plymouth on board the SS City of York (Ellerman Lines) departing December 26th, 1919 presumably to visit his father in India. The ships master was J. McKellan.

At the time of the 1939 Census Anthony was residing in the Tavistock Hotel in Tavistock Square. His occupation was given as journalist and editor and described as single.

From the Hull Daily Mail (extant and renamed Hull Live) of March 4th, 1939 we have this part review of a magazine called The Joys of Poetry. Anthony was the editor :

Hull Daily Mail, 4th March 1939
Hull Daily Mail, 4th March 1939

He died in Lambeth Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987. We have yet to determine where he was buried or cremated.

From http://chesscomposers.blogspot.com/2012/10/november-1st.html :

“Anthony Dickins wrote A Guide to Fairy Chess (1967) and other books about fairy chess. He edited the column of non-original fairy problems for “The Problemist”. He was specialized in constructional problems and was also an International Judge.”

Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins
Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1984), Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

(article by ASMD and edited by JM Rice)

“Chess first entered my life seriously about 1950 at the well-known Mandrake Social and Chess Club in Meard Street, Soho, run by Harold Lommer and Boris Watson. Purely literary connections took me there in the first place, as it was a rendezvous for the literary fraternity, such as Dylan Thomas, David Gascoyne and others.

After the war Harold converted a small wine-vault into a tiny cramped chess-room, with some dozen tables and boards. Many well-known
personalities in the world of Chess were occasional visitors, such as Grandmasters Ossip Bernstein, Paul Keres, Jacques Mieses and Friedrich Sämisch; British Champions Willy Winter, Bob Wade and Dr. Fazekas; M. J. Franklin, now a British Master, and the Problemists, Dr. E. T. O. Slater and B. J. da C. Andrade. Mieses was then in his late eighties and charged a fee of half-a-crown (12.5 pence) for a game. When his name was mispronounced ‘Mister My-ziz’ he would say ‘I am Meister Mieses, not Mister My-ziz’.

Sämisch once played fourteen of us blindfold, defeating all except one, a very strong Indian player, Atta, who obtained a draw. My regular ‘partners’ were Vicki Weiss, the famous cartoonist, his brother Oscar, Richard Crewdson, Mr Keller (a professional who played sharply for a shifty shilling), Brian Mason, Colin ‘Puffer’ Evans, (whose strategy was to puff cigarette ash and smoke all over the board to bemuse the opponent) and Bob Troy (who always fell fast asleep immediately after making each move and had to be wakened on his next turn to play). There was a juke-box in the next room constantly blaring forth pop and bop. Most of all I played with Alex Distler, and with him always’variants of the game’ like Cylindrical Chess, Rifle Chess, Progressive Chess, or the Losing Game.

In this colourful and inspiring, if rather smoky and noisy, atmosphere I composed my first six chess problems, helpmates and cylindricals, though I did not then know of the existence of Problem books or magazines, nor had I heard of Sam Loyd, Max Lange, or T. R. Dawson when the Mandrake closed in the late fifties and Harold Lommer retired to Spain to write his two monumental works on Endgame Studies.

For the next 10 years or so I played at the West London and Athenaeum Chess Clubs, for Middlesex County and at Hastings congresses, meanwhile regularly solving the problems in the two evening newspapers for practice.

In 1965, in my 51st year, I discovered chess-problem magazines and the British Chess Problem Society, and was soon asked by John Rice to join the Fairy
Chess Correspondence Circle, whose director, W. Cross, perhaps the greatest solver of all time, guided my early footsteps in fairyland. At this point I compiled for my own use a summary of all the usual rules and conventions in Fairy Chess, as these were numerous and complicated. It occurred to me that a few other people might also welcome such a summary, so I put it into book form as A Guide to Fairy Chess, which I published by myself in 1967 under the imprint ‘The O Press’, a pun on the name ‘Kew’ where I was then living.

A Guide to Fairy Chess
A Guide to Fairy Chess

To my amazement it had rave reviews (‘the comprehensive work, so long awaited’, ‘more like an encyclopaedia’, ‘the bible of Fairy Chess’) and sold like hot cakes, going into three editions, each one enlarged and revised, the third produced by Dover Publications, New York, in 1971. Two years later I edited Dover’s publication of T. R. Dawson’s Five Classics of Fairy Chess.

Five Classics of Fairy Chess, TR Dawson
Five Classics of Fairy Chess, TR Dawson

In 1970 I flew to the States to spend a few days in the J. G. White collection in Cleveland, Ohio, researching historical material on Fairy Chess. This Ohio collection has the largest chess library in the world, and to my surprise I found that it contains also ‘every book or article ever written on or about ‘Omar Khayyam and Alice in Wonderland . To find oneself suddenly and unexpectedly transported, as if by magic carpet, into a superbly organised library with the most complete collections in the world of the three subjects that happen to be one’s own three principal literary interests is an experience that must approach closely to entering Nirvana, and I am happy to have had it. This visit enabled me to write A Short History of Fairy Chess (1975) and to give the lecture Alice in Fairyland to the Lewis Carroll Society in London, published in their journal Jabberwocky and reprinted by myself in 1976 (2nd edn 1978) .

A Short History of Fairy Chess, ASM Dickins
A Short History of Fairy Chess, ASM Dickins

In 1972 I decided to present my (by then) extensive collection of Fairy Chess books and magazines to my old university library at Cambridge to prevent the possible break-up of the collection as a single unit, and to ensure that at least one fairly complete Fairy Chess collection was retained in Britain.

In 1968 I was invited to open a Fairy Chess section in The Problemist, organ of the BCPS, which I handed over to Dr. C. C. L. Sells in 1970, and from 1974 to 1981 I ran another column in that magazine called ‘Other Types’. This chess journalism has brought me into touch with many problemists, and made many friends for me, in foreign countries.

In 1967, on a visit to Mannheim for the Schwalbe annual meeting, I met Wilhelm Karsch, then editor of Feenschach, and in 1968 in Munich I again met Dr. Karl Fabel, whom I first came to know in London in 1967, and also Peter Kniest, one of the two present editors of Feenschach. In 1969, on a visit to Paris, a meeting was arranged for me at the late Jean Oudot’s flat, with Pierre Monr6al, J. P. Boyer, F. de Lionnais (author of the Dictionnaire des Echecs) and other French problemists, and altogether I have attended twenty three major problemist meetings in various countries, including FIDE meetings in The Hague, Wiesbaden, Canterbury and Helsinki. It has been my constant aim to try to encourage and cultivate the practice and study of Fairy Chess and to keep alive the great legacy that T.R. Dawson left to the world when he died in 1951.

In recent years I have developed close relations with the younger generation of West German problemists, who are very active in Fairy Chess, centred round 29-year-old Bernd Ellinghoven, who helps Peter Kniest to edit Feenschach and who printed my last booklet, Fairy Chess Problems (1979), containing
poems as well as problems, combined in a new kind of fairy technique, for I believe that Fairy Chess represents in many ways the ‘poetry’ of Chess.

FAIRY CHESS PrOblems (1979)
FAIRY CHESS PrOblems (1979)

For
the 50th birthday of T. R. Dawson on the 28th November 1939 a certain Dr Lazarus of Budapest wrote in Fairy Chess Review: ‘T. R. D. these three
letters represent a conception in the Poetry of Chess which is amongst the most ingenious of all its turns, one of its most strange and interesting phases… Without T.R.D. human culture would lack a factor in its development’. Those people (and there are some) who would banish Fairy Chess altogether from Caissa’s realm resemble the iron-hearted Mr. Gradgrinds who would abolish romance, mystery, poetry, invention, discovery and imagination from human life.

Fairy Chess Review
Fairy Chess Review

Elsewhere I have written: ‘The Game for Murderers, The Problem for Philosophers, Fairy Chess for Sufis’, because the aim of the game-player is to ‘mate’ (kill) the opponent (from Arabic, mat _ dead), while the problemist has no personal opponent to kill, but merely a philosophical problem to resolve. In Fairy Chess, however, the adept is transported to another plane of existence, to an ‘undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns’,to new’dimensions’ of thought (as in 3- and 4-dimensional problems) – in short, to Fairyland, to Nirvana.

The three problems represent my early, middle and later compositions. The helpmate in three moves (Black plays first in a helpmate) is a miniature culminating in an ideal Mate. C. H. O’D. Alexander was much tickled by what he called ‘the deceptive pawn’ on a2, which unexpectedly does not promote.

The Construction Task with 113 White moves, all ‘maintaining’ the legal stalemate position in which Black finds himself, is a standing record that defeated the previous record of 112 such moves obtained independently by six problemists in six countries, one of them an lnternational Master of FIDE.

The Knight’s Tour is one of the oldest genres of Fairy Chess, dating from the earliest days of chess, and in TR Dawson’s Fairy Chess Review he published many of them., including some that showed the ‘square numbers’ (1,4,9,16,25,36,49,64) all on one rank – in the present example I have added the extra strict condition that as many as possible of the numbers 1 to 16 must be in the SW corner and as many as possible of the numbers 1 to 32 must be in the W half of the board.

For two reasons the perfect ideal in this task cannot be attained, firstly because of the given position of the number 25, and secondly because it is not possible to make a Knight’s tour on a 4 x 4 board in the SW corner.

Solutions :

1. Helpmate, Evening News, 20th February 1957 dedicated to Harold Lommer

Helpmate in 3 moves

1. Kd5 Nb1
2. Kc4 e8=Q
3. Kb3 Qb5 mate

2. Construction Task Record, Feenschach 9341 Sep/Oct 1969 dedicated to Karl Fabel

113 unforced stalemate maintenances with Promotion in Play (Pawn promotions count as 4 moves) unforced as W has some moves that do not maintain stalemate, so he is not ‘forced’ to maintain it.

3. Knight’s Tour Chessics 5(180) July, 1978 dedicated to D. Nixon.

Knights tour with
a) All square number on 4th rank
b) maximum of 1-16 in SW quad
c) maximum of 1-32 in W half

Knight's tour solution from ASM Dickins
Knight’s tour solution from ASM Dickins
100 Classics of the Chessboard
100 Classics of the Chessboard

Remembering Amos Burn (31-xii-1848 25-xi-1925)

Amos Burn (31-XII-1848, 25-XII-1925)
Amos Burn (31-XII-1848, 25-XII-1925)

We remember Amos Burn who passed away on November 25th, 1925.

Amos Burn was born in Kingston-upon-Hull on Sunday, December 31st 1848 to Amos and Mary Burn (née Webster). His father is recorded as a merchant. Amos and Mary were residents of Bourne Street at the time of the birth.

On February 15th 1849 Amos was baptized in All Saints Anglican Church, Sculcoates, Kingston-Upon-Hull

Amos married Martha Ann Jäger in Birkenhead on Dec 27th 1879. They had two daughters Elsie Martha, born 24th Oct 1880 and Hilda Marian, born 26th Oct 1881.

For further detail of ABs family please consult the excellent Amos Burn : A Chess Biography by Richard Forster

In 2006 an article by WD Rubinstein was published in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984), Hooper & Whyld :

“One of the world’s top ten players at the end of the 19th century. Born in Hull : he learned chess when 16, came to London at the age of 21, and rapidly established himself as a leading English player, A pupil of Steinitz, he developed a similar style; both he and his master were among the world’s best six defensive players, according to Nimzowitsch. Not wishing to become yet another impecunious professional. Burn decided to put his work (first a cotton broker then a sugar broker) before his chess, and he remained an amateur. He made several long visits to America, and was often out of practice when he played serious chess.

Until his thirty-eighth year he played infrequently and only in national events, always taking first or second prize. From 1886 to 1889 he played more often. In 1886 he drew matches with Bird (+9-9) and Mackenzie (+4=2-4); at London 1887 he achieved his best tournament result up to this time, first prize (+8—1) equal with Gunsberg (a play-off was drawn +1=3—1); and at Breslau 1889 he took second place after Tarrasch ahead of Gunsberg, After an isolated appearance at Hastings 1895 he entered another spell of chess activity, 1897-1901, The best achievement of his career was at Cologne 1898, first prize ( + 9=5-1) ahead of Charousek, Chigorin, Steinitz, Schlechter, and Janowski. At Munich 1900 he came fourth (+9=3—3). His Last seven international tournaments began with Ostend 1905 and ended with Breslau 1912. A comparative success, in view of his age. was his fourth prize shared with Bernstein and Teichmann after Schlechter, Maroczy, and Rubinstein at Ostend 1906; 36 players competed in this five-stage event, 30 games in all for those who completed the course.

Retired from both business and play he made his home in London and edited the chess column of The Field from 1913 until his death. A shy and retiring man, a loyal companion to those who came to know him, he freely gave advice to young and aspiring players.”

The front cover of the November 1975 issue of the British Chess Magazine featured Amos Burn :

Amos Burn - See W.H.Cozen's 'Half a Century Back'...from the front cover of the November 1975 issue of British Chess Magazine
Amos Burn – See W.H.Cozen’s ‘Half a Century Back’…from the front cover of the November 1975 issue of British Chess Magazine

From British Chess Magazine, 1975, November, pp. 481-483 :

Half a Century Back
Chess in 1925

by W.H. Cozens

 

Amos Burn was a very different figure and his career is poorly documented. He is overdue, not for a reappraisal but simply an appraisal, He was born (in Hull) in 1848 – an incredible 127 years ago. All the years that could have been his prime as a chessplayer he devoted to business. (Marine insurance was his speciality.) He was based in Liverpool but travelled considerably, including several crossings of the Atlantic – quite an undertaking in those days. He played some casual chess, soon overshadowing the Rev. John Owen to become Liverpool’s answer to Manchester’s Blackburne. He also played for the City of London Chess Club; but it was not until he was nearly 40, presumably with his financial position secured, that he entered the international chess arena. Between the ages of 38 and 64 he played in 22 international tournaments. At Breslau (1889) he was second to Tarrasch, above Louis Paulsen, Blackburne, Schallop … In Amsterdam the same year he was first, ahead of Emanuel Lasker. His finest achievement was first place at Cologne 1898, in front of Charousek, Chigorin, Steinitz, Schlechter et al., (16 in all) with a win against Steinitz. The lack of a book on Cologne 1898 is – since the publication of Mannheim 1914′: the biggest gap in tournament literature.

At Karlsbad 1911 he defeated not only the winner, as mentioned above, but also Alekhine, whom he steered into a knight versus bad bishop ending. His style was unashamedly modelled on that of Steinitz, and marked by extreme tenacity. To him is attributed the epigram ‘He who combinates is lost’. He could play a combination when in the mood but he much preferred to let the opponent break his own back by attacking too impetuously. Nimzowitsch wrote: ‘The number of really great defensive players is very small’, adding that he knew of only six: Steinitz, Emanuel Lasker, Burn, Bernstein, Duras and Louis Paulsen.

In the 1911 Cable Match between G.B. and the U.S.A. Marshall came from San Sebastian straight to London and asked permission for his top board game to be played over the board. When he found that his opponent was to be the 64-year-old Amos Burn he must have smiled, for he had twice defeated him resoundingly – at Paris 1900 (also having some fun at Burn’s expense in his annotations to the game) and again at Ostend 1905. This time he was in for a shock. Within twenty moves the old man had won his queen for two pieces. Marshall played on, probably with a red face, until move 37, rather than have his loss cabled home too early. Against Burn he might have spared himself the trouble.

Burn was a superb annotator. His work, notably in ‘The Field‘ from 1913 on, sets a standard to which one looks back nostalgically in these days of hieroglyphics. The day before he died, at the age of 77,he had been at work on analysis and annotation. Tournaments were now plentiful enough for it to be possible to pick out the band of regular professionals, and to assess their prowess. Tartakower was placed 2, 5, l, 5; Reti 5, 5’ 5,-11; Grunfeld 4,8,8,9; Nimzowitsch was erratic with 1,2,9; so was Rubinstein with 1, 2, 3, 12. Marshall was consistent with 3, 4, 5. Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine appeared once each – with distinction, of course.”

The Burn Variation is a line in the french defence dating from the 1870s, played regularly by Burn at the tournaments of Hastings
1895, Cologne 1898, and Vienna 1898. More recently it has been favoured by Petrosyan.

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

“A leading British player of his day, Amos Burn was born in Hull on 31st December 1848. He learned the game when he was 16 and an apprentice with a firm of Liverpool cotton-brokers, but it was not until 1886 that he achieved his first major tournament success by coming 2nd in the London tournament and 1st at Nottingham. These results gained him an invitation to Frankfurt 1887, which marked the beginning of his career as an international player.

Burn’s greatest successes were 1st at Amsterdam 1889, ahead of Lasker, 2nd at Breslau 1889, behind Tarrasch but ahead of Mieses, Von Bardeleben, Bauer, Gunsberg and Paulsen; and 1st at Cologne 1898, ahead of Charousek, Steiniitz, Tchigorin and Schlecter.

After the St. Petersburg 1909 tournament, Burn’s results began to deteriorate and he finally retired from tournament chess after the Breslau 1912 tournament.

From 1913 until his death, Burn was chess editor of The Field. He died on 25th November 1925.”

Amos Burn (31-xii-1848, 25-xii-1925) circa 1920
Amos Burn (31-xii-1848, 25-xii-1925) circa 1920

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

“British Grandmaster and second only to Blackburne in late nineteenth-century British chess. He was born in Hull and learned to play chess at sixteen, but devoted little time to the game at first, preferring to establish himself in a commercial career.

He returned to chess in his middle thirties, his first major national success being first prize at Nottingham 1886 and second prize at London 1886. Within three years he had gained an international reputation by winning at Amsterdam 1889, ahead of Lasker, and finishing 2nd to Tarrasch at Breslau 1889. Burn continued to appear in international tournaments until the age of sixty-four, his most notable triumph being first prize at Cologne 1898 in front of Charousek, Steinitz, Chigorin and Schlechter. He was chess editor of The Field from 1913 until his death in 1925.”

Edward Winter wrote a feature article on the game McDonald-Burn, Liverpool, 1910

and from that game we have the move that made that game memorable :

Black to move : did you find it? (if not see the foot of this article)

His Wikipedia article is here

According to Edward Winter in Chess Notes Burn lived at 19 Luxemburg Gardens, London W6, England (Amos Burn, The Quiet Chessmaster by R.N. Coles, page 7).

Amos Burn (31-xii-1848, 25-xii-1925)
Amos Burn (31-xii-1848, 25-xii-1925)

and an excellent article from the Liverpool Museum is here

Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.
Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.
Amos Burn, the quiet chessmaster, RN Coles
Amos Burn, the quiet chessmaster, RN Coles
Amos Burn : A Chess Biography by Richard Forster
Amos Burn : A Chess Biography by Richard Forster

and in case you did not spot the move : Burn played 33…Qg4!!

Remembering Reverend John Owen (08-iv-1827 24-xi-1901)

Reverend John Owen
Reverend John Owen

We remember Reverend John Owen who passed away on the 24th November 1901)

John Owen was born on April 8th, 1827 to John and Sarah Owen in Marchington, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

He was baptised at Marchington, St. Peter on April 9th, 1827 by H. Bennett and their residence was recorded as “Brook House”. His father is recorded as being a gentleman.

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper & Whyld :

“English player, vicar of Hooton, Cheshire, from 1862 to 1900. In 1858, playing under the pseudonym ‘Alter’, he lost (=2-5) a match against Morphy, who conceded pawn and a move. (Hoffer attributed this poor result to Owen’s just being married.) Subsequently Owen played better. He drew a match with Kolisch in 1860 (+4-4) and at the London tournament of 1862 took third prize after Andersen (whom he defeated) and L. Paulsen ahead of Dubois, GA MacDonnell, Steinitz and Blackburne.

From 1857 to 1898 Owen played in more than a dozen tournaments, all of them in Great Britain.

He liked close openings and often played the Queen’s Fianchetto Defence, sometimes named after him, and the Larsen Opening.”

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

Probably, the strongest of all the chess-playing reverends of the nineteenth century. Owen came 3rd at Birmingham 1858, below Löwenthal and Falkbeer, but ahead of Saint-Amant, Staunton and Bird; but is should be pointed out that the method of play was still by the old knock-out system.

He was also =3rd with MacDonnell in the first congress of the British Chess Association at London in 1862.

He also had the distinction of losing matches to Morphy, Zukertort and Burn, though he beat Burn in a later match. He drew a match with Kolisch in 1860.

Sunnucks is silent on Owen.

According to The Complete Chess Addict (Faber&Faber, 1987), Mike Fox & Richard James :

“For the record (and because it’s so impressive) here is the most devout team of all time, If there is anything in the efficacy of prayer they’d be tough to stop :

  1. Fr Ruy Ruy López (de Segura)
  2. Fr William Lombardy
  3. Revd GA MacDonnell
  4. Revd J Owen
  5. His Holiness Pope Leo XIII
  6. His Holiness Pope Innoncent III
  7. St Teresa of Ávila (capt.)
  8. Thomas à Becket”

A much fuller biography may be found at the excellent Yorkshire Chess History web site

An interesting article from Neil Blackburn may be found here.

From Wikipedia :

“John Owen (8 April 1827 – 24 November 1901) was an English vicar and strong amateur chess master. He ranked among the world’s top ten chess players for certain periods of the 1860s. He was a major figure in English chess from the mid 1850s to the 1890s.

Owen was born in Marchington, and obtained his early schooling at Repton School, Derbyshire. In 1850 he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, and received his M.A. from Cambridge three years later. He was ordained by the Church of England in 1851, and served as Vicar of Hooton, Cheshire from 1862 to his retirement in 1900.

In 1858 he won a chess game against the young American master Paul Morphy, the world’s best player, who was then touring Europe. ”

This led to a match between the two. Despite being given odds of pawn and the move (meaning he started the game with an extra pawn and always moved first), Owen lost the match 6–1, never winning a game.

His performance in the very strong 1862 London tournament, the first international round-robin event (in which each participant plays every other) was more impressive. He finished third, ahead of future world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, and was the only player to win against the eventual tournament winner, Adolf Anderssen. Louis Paulsen placed second. This result was arguably Owen’s top lifetime chess achievement.

Owen continued to play frequently and often successfully in British tournaments into the 1890s, and performed strongly in several matches against top British players, who were essentially chess professionals. He never competed outside the British Isles. He died in Twickenham.

Owen is the eponym of Owen’s Defence, a chess opening characterised by the moves 1.e4 b6. Owen was the first strong player to play this frequently, including in his victory over Morphy.”

Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.
Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.

Remembering Mary Rudge (06-ii-1842 22-xi-1919)

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

We remember Mary Rudge who passed away one hundred and one years this day on Saturday, 22-xi-1919.

She was born in Leominster, Herefordshire on February 6th, 1842. Her father was Henry Rudge (born 1794 in Gloucestershire) who was a surgeon and General Practitioner. Her mother was Eliza Rudge (née Barrett) who was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire in 1802.

Mary was part of a typically large household and according to the 1851 census she had sisters Sarah (23), Caroline (18), Emily H (12), brothers Henry (14) and Alfred (10). Assisting Henry with medical matters was William S Boyce and acting as a “General Servant” was Thomas Rotheroe (18). Their address is given as “21, Middle Marsh, Leominster, Herefordshire, England” (HR6 8UP). According to HM Land Registry : “Middlemarsh is in the Leominster North & Rural ward of Herefordshire, County of, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.”

By 1861 the household had relocated to 62, Broad Street, Leominster and the servants were James Price (18) whose occupation is given as a Groom and Sarah Gardener (21) who was the House Servant.

Mary moved, “helpless from rheumatism”, at some point, to Truro and then to the British Home for Incurables, Streatham. She died in Guys Hospital, London, on 22 November 1919.

Editor of British Chess Magazine at the time of her obituary was Isaac McIntyre Brown who afforded Mary a pathetic three lines.

“As we go to press we learn with great sorrow of the death, at Streatham last month, of Miss Mary Rudge, winner of the International Ladies’ tournament in 1897.”

Golombek, Hooper&Whyld and Sunnucks are all silent on Rudge.

From Wikipedia :

“Mary Rudge (6 February 1842 in Leominster – 22 November 1919 in London) was an English chess master.

Rudge was born in Leominster, a small town in Herefordshire, England. She began playing chess in a correspondence tournament in 1872. The first mention of over the board competition is in August 1874 when she played in the second class at the Meeting of the Counties’ Chess Association at Birmingham. After the death of her father, Henry Rudge, she moved to Bristol where she started playing chess seriously.

Rudge was the first woman member of the Bristol Chess Club, which did not allow women to be members of the club until she joined in 1872. She played against Joseph Henry Blackburne, who gave a blindfold simultaneous display against ten opponents. The following year she played in another blindfold simultaneous display given by Johannes Hermann Zukertort. In March 1887 she played and drew on board six for Bristol against Bath at the Imperial Hotel in Bristol. At the beginning of 1888, Rudge played and won on board six for Bristol & Clifton against City Chess & Draughts Club. The following year, she won the Challenge Cup of Bristol & Clifton Chess Club. In 1889, she became the first woman in the world to give simultaneous chess exhibitions. She won the Ladies’ Challenge Cup at Cambridge 1890, and won the second class at the Southern Counties’ tournament at Clifton 1896.[1]”

Miss Stevenson & Mary Rudge
Miss Stevenson & Mary Rudge

“First Women’s International Chess Congress
She was a winner of the first Women’s International Chess Congress under the management of the Ladies’ Chess Club of London in conjunction with the Women’s Chess Club of New York. Lady Newnes was president of the Tournament Committee, and Sir George Newnes, Baron Albert Salomon von Rothschild, Mr. Harry Nelson Pillsbury and some others offered prizes. The tournament was played at the Hotel Cecil in the Masonic Hall for six days, but the final rounds were decided at the Ideal Café, the headquarters of the Ladies’ Chess Club, from 22 June to 3 July 1897.[2] Miss Rudge was 55 years old and the oldest of the 20 players,[3] and had substantial experience playing chess at the time. She was a well-known English player, ranking in chess strength with the first class of the leading men’s clubs. She won the event with 18 wins and 1 draw, followed by Signorina Louisa Matilda Fagan (Italy), Miss Eliza Mary Thorold (England), Mrs. Harriet Worrall (USA), Madame Marie Bonnefin (Belgium), Mrs. F.S. Barry (Ireland), Lady Edith Margaret Thomas (England), among others.”

Here is an in-depth article about this event from Chesscafe.com

Mrs. Bowles (Hon. Sec.); Miss Rudge; and Mrs. Fagan from chesscafe.com
Mrs. Bowles (Hon. Sec.); Miss Rudge; and Mrs. Fagan from chesscafe.com

“Over the next years, she took part in various competitions, playing in Bristol and Dublin. In 1898, she played against world champion Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous display at the Imperial Hotel. Lasker was unable to finish all the games in the time available, and Rudge’s was one of those unfinished. He conceded defeat because he would be lost with best play.”

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

Here is an article from the Bristol Chess Times

and another from the same source.

The International Ladies Congress
The International Ladies Congress

Remembering WIM (Patricia) Anne Sunnucks (21-ii-1927 22-xi-2014)

WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks at the Lloyds Bank Masters
WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks at the Lloyds Bank Masters

We remember WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks who passed away this day, November 22nd, 2014, aged 87 years.

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1983), Harry Golombek OBE :

“International Woman master and British Women’s Champion 1957, 1958 and 1964. Her best international result was a 2nd in the 1954 Western European Zonal. This qualified her for the 1955 Women’s Candidates tournament, but as this held in the USSR and she was at the time serving as a Major in the British Army, the authorities would not give her leave to participate.

Miss Sunnucks has represented England a number of times in Olympiads and team matches. She has compiled The Encyclopedia of Chess, London, 1970.”

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

“International Woman Master (1954) and winner of the British Ladies’ Championship in 1957, 1958 and 1964.

Born on 21st February 1927 Anne learned the moves at the age of 8 but did not take up chess seriously until she was 21, when she joined the same club as International Master, Imre König” whose pupil she became.

Danlon ladies chess tournament, left Anne Sunnucks , right Katarina Blagojević-Jovanovic Date: October 23, 1962
Danlon ladies chess tournament, left Anne Sunnucks , right Katarina Blagojević-Jovanovic Date: October 23, 1962

In the 1954 Western European Zonal tournament, she came 2nd and qualified for the 1955 Women’s Candidates tournament but was unable to compete.

She played for Great Britain v. the USSR in 1954 and for the British Chess Federation team in the Women’s Chess Olympiads of 1966 and 1972. She also represented the BCF in the Western European Zonal tournaments of 1963 and 1966.”

Anne Sunnucks vs Chaudé de Silans (Amsterdam, 1962)
Anne Sunnucks vs Chaudé de Silans (Amsterdam, 1962)
The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks
The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks

Anne created Camberley Chess Club in 1972. She offered to open her spacious home at 28, Brackendale Close, Camberley for weekly club nights and matches.

Anne Sunnucks (third from left) playing in the 1971 British Ladies Championship in Palatine School, Blackpool. Courtesy of Lancashire Evening Post.
Anne Sunnucks (third from left) playing in the 1971 British Ladies Championship in Palatine School, Blackpool. Courtesy of Lancashire Evening Post.

Anne was a director of BMS (?, Mothersill, Sunnucks) Chess Supplies Ltd. which retailed chess books and equipment which the grateful membership purchased!

In September 1984 in Bracknell, Berkshire Anne married Richard C Mothersill.

Anne passed away on November 22nd, 2014 at a retirement village in Meadow Park, Braintree, Essex.

From Brian Towers : It is also worth noting that she was an occasional contributor to the weekly chess ‘Magazine’ programme which was broadcast on the Third Network (the precursor to Radio 3) between Autumn 1958 and Summer 1964.

According to Megabase2020, her highest Elo rating was 2045 but we suspect it was in reality, quite a bit higher.

In 1972 Anne was awarded with a FIDE Medal of Merit. Anne was made an Honorary Life Member of the BCF and then ECF.

WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks
WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks

For much of her early chess life Anne was coached by IM Imre (Mirko) König.

WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks
WIM Patricia Anne Sunnucks
Full Caption
Full Caption

From Wikipedia :
Patricia Anne Sunnucks (21 February 1927 – 22 November 2014[1]) was an author and three-times British Women’s Chess Champion (1957, 1958, 1964). During her chess career she was always known as Anne Sunnucks.

She was educated at Wycombe Abbey School[2], Buckinghamshire. Although she learned how to play chess at the age of 8, she did not play seriously until the age of 21, when she joined the same chess club as Imre König, who became her tutor. By finishing tied for second place in the 1953 British Women’s Championship she became one of three British representatives in the 1954 Western European Zonal.

Sunnucks earned the Woman International Master title by placing second in the 1954 Western European Zonal. Although this result qualified her to play in the next event in the Women’s World Championship sequence, she was a major in the Women’s Royal Army Corps and the authorities would not allow her to travel to the USSR where the 1955 Women’s Candidates tournament was being held. Sunnucks represented England several times in Olympiads and team matches, including Great Britain vs. USSR 1954, the Anglo-Dutch match in 1965, and top board for the British Chess Federation (BCF) team at the 1966 Women’s Chess Olympiad at Oberhausen. She participated in the Women’s World Championship cycle two more times, representing the BCF in the Western European Zonal tournaments of 1963 and 1966. Sunnucks won both the Army and the Combined Services Championships in 1968, and was the only woman to compete in either. Sunnucks compiled The Encyclopaedia of Chess (1970, second edition: 1976).

Her married name was Anne Mothersill.”

Birthday Wishes Peter Lee (21-xi-1943)

PN Lee playing JH Donner in the 1966 Zonal at The Hague. Peter just played 7.h4
PN Lee playing JH Donner in the 1966 Zonal at The Hague. Peter just played 7.h4

We wish Peter Lee all the best on his birthday.

Peter N Lee
Peter N Lee

Peter Nicholas Charles Lee was born on Sunday, November 21st in 1943 in Lambeth, London. His mother’s maiden name was Paganucci.

Peter attended Exeter College, Oxford from 1962-1966 to read mathematics followed by postgraduate statistics gaining an MA in 1969.

Some of the participants in the Paul Keres display on November 25th, 1962, at St Pancras Town Hall, London WC1. Back row : AJ. Whiteley, D, Floyer, PJ Collins, PJ Adams, RC Vaughan, KB Harman, D. Parr, DNL Levy, Front row : MV Lambshire, AE Hopkins (selector) Paul Keres, Miss D. Dobson, RE Hartley, BC Gillman, WR Hartston and PN Lee. Photograph by AM Reilly. Source : BCM, 1963, page 13
Some of the participants in the Paul Keres display on November 25th, 1962, at St Pancras Town Hall, London WC1. Back row : AJ. Whiteley, D, Floyer, PJ Collins, PJ Adams, RC Vaughan, KB Harman, D. Parr, DNL Levy, Front row : MV Lambshire, AE Hopkins (selector) Paul Keres, Miss D. Dobson, RE Hartley, BC Gillman, WR Hartston and PN Lee. Photograph by AM Reilly. Source : BCM, 1963, page 13

In 1963 Peter represented Oxford in the 81st Varsity Match played at the University of London Union in Malet Street on Korchnoi’s birthday (March 23rd). Peter had black on board 5 and drew with Frederick Michael Akeroyd in a King’s Gambit Declined.

Here is the winning Oxford (4-3) Team :

The winning 1963 Oxford Varsity match team : From left to right (standing): PN Lee, JWF May, GC Taylor, AIN Brodie, PD Yerbury; (sitting) JK Footner, RW Morgan. Thanks : John Saunders in Britbase.
The winning 1963 Oxford Varsity match team : From left to right (standing): PN Lee, JWF May, GC Taylor, AIN Brodie, PD Yerbury; (sitting) JK Footner, RW Morgan. Thanks : John Saunders in Britbase.

Peter moved to top board in 1964 and had white against the son of BH Wood, FM Christopher Baruch Wood and won. The match was drawn.

1965 saw a 5.5 – 1.5 Oxford victory with Peter beating Graham Arthur Winbow.

During this period Peter found time to win the British Championship at Hastings in 1965. Peter Clarke reported in the October 1965 British Chess Magazine:

“Seventy years on from the great international tournament of 1895, which sowed the seeds of the Christmas congresses. the fifty-second in the British Chess Federation’s annual series-and this too began at Hastings, 1904 – saw victory and the national title go to the youngest player ever. Peter N. Lee, of London, a twenty-one-year-old Oxford University graduate in mathematics, made light of playing in the Championship for the first time and led from start to finish. Jonathan Penrose and Norman Littlewood vied with him all the way but in the last round had to be content with draws sharing second place 1/2 point behind with 8. ”

Peter Lee
Peter Lee

Peter played at Hastings in 1965 and we can see him here in this silent movie at 1’40” in :

Peter’s final Varsity appearance as British Champion in 1966 saw another drawn match but Peter’s best Varsity result when he beat Bill Hartston with the white pieces in a King’s Indian Attack.

In world cup year Peter was selected by the BCF to represent England at the Havana Olympiad on board two below Peter Clarke in Group 4 and then Final B scoring a creditable +4=7-1.

Lugano 1968 saw Peter playing as first reserve and scoring an excellent +7=4-2 (Penrose on top board scored a wonderful 83.3% for the silver medal.

In another world cup year (1970) in his final Olympiad appearance Peter played on board four and recorded +4=9-2

Peter Nicholas Lee (to the left of RD Keene)
Peter Nicholas Lee (to the left of RD Keene)

Peter played in the British Championships again in 1967, 1968, 1971 and finally in 1972 withdrawing after five rounds following a loss to David Pritchard. This is Peter’s last game recorded in Megabase2020.

With the white pieces Peter was a committed 1.e4 fan playing 8.c3 in the Lopez and open sicilians.

As the second player he played the Sicilian Najdorf and the Dragon along with the King’s Indian.

According to Wikipedia : “Later, he turned to contract bridge, at which he has also been highly successful. He has won the English Bridge Union’s National Pairs title four times, the first time in 2003, and has also been a member of the team that won the Gold Cup, the premier teams event in Britain, in 2003 and 2011. This makes him the only person who has won British championships in both chess and bridge.”

Until 1979 he worked as a statistician to the Tobacco Research Council, in Harrogate and then in London. From 1979 to 1984 he was an independent consultant in statistics and advisor in epidemiology and toxicology to a number of tobacco, pharmaceutical and chemical companies.

He formed P N Lee Statistics and Computing Ltdin 1984 to widen these activities. Peter is a Chartered Statistician who has published over 200 papers, letters and articles, and several books.
Peter is currently a director of PNLSC based in Palmers Green, London, N13.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee

As a consultant in medical statistics and epidemiology, he has also published over 200 papers, many on the effects of tobacco on health.[2]

Peter reached a peak Elo rating of 2390 aged 47 in July 1990 according to MegaBase 2020. However, his peak playing strength was probably in or around 1971.

Peter has returned to playing for the Athenaeum in the Hamilton-Russell Cup. For those not aware : “The Hamilton-­Russell Chess Tournament is a chess competition competed in by social, political, military and sports Clubs in Great Britain.”

According to Paul Littlewood currently Peter “plays Bridge for Surrey and chess for the Athenaeum in London”.

Birthday Greetings IM Andrew Kinsman (20-xi-1964)

IM Andrew Kinsman
IM Andrew Kinsman

Best wishes to IM Andrew Kinsman born on this day Friday November 20, 1964 to Kenneth H and Yvonne (née Greening) Kinsman. Andrew has sisters Cassandra Suzie and Joanna Marie and a brother Graham John. His father played for Wimbledon and then retired to Kettering (thanks Richard James).

Andrew Peter Harry Kinsman was born in North East Surrey and grew up in Kingston-Upon-Thames near Kingston Hospital (thanks Richard James!). He was a member of Richmond Junior Chess Club.

IM Andrew Kinsman
IM Andrew Kinsman

Andrew was a member of the University of Sussex chess team in 1983 along with IM Byron Jacobs. Andrew became an editor of chess publisher BT Batsford Ltd. following in the footsteps of Bob Wade, Paul Lamford and others.

Andrew was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1986-87 and 1991-92 seasons.

He made his first Grandmaster norm with his victory in the 1997 Owens Corning International in Wrexham.

Crosstable from Owen Corning 1997, Wrexham
Crosstable from Owen Corning 1997, Wrexham

Andrew’s peak rating was 2430 in January 1998. He played for Guildford in the Four Nations Chess League and for Wimbledon in other leagues. His last ECF grading was 222D in July 2002 and highest may have been 230B in July 2000.

He left chess and turned to poker becoming a successful player and author and was married to Pauline. They lived in Ditchling Rise in Brighton.

He joined Byron Jacobs to form Chess Press which eventually morphed into First Rank Publishing.

IM Andrew Kinsman
IM Andrew Kinsman

With the white pieces Andrew was consistently a d4 player with the occasional Nf3 thrown in. He played a “slow” Queen’s Gambit (Nf3 inserted before c4) and the Trompowski Attack for variety.

As the second player Andrew played the French Winawer and the Benko Gambit.

Andrew is registered for both Wimbledon and Guildford and represented Wuppertal in the Bundesliga. Andrew’s most recent appearance in 4NCL was the final weekend of the 2001/2 season beating JA Toothill.

He has written several books on chess (and poker) as follows :

French Winawer by Andrew Kinsman
French Winawer by Andrew Kinsman
The Benko Gambit by Andrew Kinsman & Byron Jacobs
The Benko Gambit by Andrew Kinsman & Byron Jacobs
Spanish Exchange by Andrew Kinsman
Spanish Exchange by Andrew Kinsman
Modern Benoni by Andrew Kinsman
Modern Benoni by Andrew Kinsman
Improve Your Middlegame Play by Andrew Kinsman
Improve Your Middlegame Play by Andrew Kinsman
IM Andrew Kinsman
IM Andrew Kinsman

Remembering Jim Slater (13-iii-1929 18-xi-2015)

James Derrick Slater (13-iii-1929, 18-xi-2015)
James Derrick Slater (13-iii-1929, 18-xi-2015)

BCN remembers Jim Slater (13-iii-1929 18-xi-2015)

James Derrick Slater was born on Wednesday, March 13th, 1929. On the same day “Leon Trotsky gave his first interview to the foreign press in his apartment in Turkey, saying he was writing a book tracing the history of his opposition to Joseph Stalin and expressing a desire to go to Germany because he preferred the care of German physicians.”

He was born in Heswall, Cheshire (Wirral, Merseyside was the registration district) to Hubert Slater and Jessica Alexandra Barton.

He arrived (aged 31) in Southampton on board the Pretoria Castle as a first class passenger whilst resident in 16, Stafford Terrace, Kensington and his occupation was given as Company Director.

He died on 18th November 2015 in Cranleigh, Surrey aged 86. He had four children one of which is Mark Slater.

James Slater, Chairman Slater Walker Securities plcDirector, British Leyland. (Photo by Photoshot/Getty Images)
James Slater, Chairman Slater Walker Securities plcDirector, British Leyland. (Photo by Photoshot/Getty Images)

Jim wrote his chess autobiography as follows :

(This text was retrieved using the Wayback machine via https://web.archive.org/web/20110909053137/http://www.jimslater.org.uk/views/chess/)

“As a boy Jim Slater enjoyed playing Monopoly and draughts but his main indoor hobby was chess. He stopped playing chess after leaving school as he found it took too much time and concentration while studying for accountancy.

It was not until a colleague asked Jim to teach him to improve his game in the late 1960s that his interest in chess was rekindled. For a short while Jim joined a London chess club (Richard James reveals that this is West London Chess Club as mentioned in their internal magazine) but found he preferred correspondence chess which he could play much more conveniently when he returned home in the evening. Jim did quite well in his correspondence club, going up a few grades, until he reached a level at which it became hard work.

Jim had maintained a link with Leonard Barden, who was a British Champion and a chess correspondent. With his help Jim began subsidising the annual Hastings Tournament with a view to expanding it so that leading players would have a chance to qualify as international masters. Other countries would not invite British players to play in their tournaments until they became international masters so they were in an impossible situation. The small amount of help Jim was able to give to Hastings was arranged in a very low-key way and attracted very little publicity. The World Chess Championship would prove to be a very different proposition.

British accountant, investor and business writer Jim Slater (1929 - 2015) signing documents at a desk, UK, 11th May 1965. (Photo by Reg Burkett/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
British accountant, investor and business writer Jim Slater (1929 – 2015) signing documents at a desk, UK, 11th May 1965. (Photo by Reg Burkett/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

For the previous two decades the Russians had dominated world chess and then the West produced two exceptional players – Bobby Fischer of the USA and Bent Larsen of Denmark. In particular, Fischer had fantastic potential but he was handicapped by being extremely temperamental.

In the final rounds of the World Chess Championship the players were playing the best of ten games. In the quarter finals Fischer won six games to nil. In the semi-final Fischer was paired with Larsen and also beat him six games to nil. This had never happened before in world chess, and for the first time it looked as if the Russians were going to get a run for their money.

Personalities, Crime, pic: 3rd December 1976, Financier Jim Slater arriving at London's Mansion House Police Court to face fraud charges involving more than 4,000,000 (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)
Personalities, Crime, pic: 3rd December 1976, Financier Jim Slater arriving at London’s Mansion House Police Court to face fraud charges involving more than 4,000,000 (Photo by Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images)

In the last qualifier Fischer came up against Petrosian, a brilliant defensive player. Fischer won the first game but lost the second. The next three games were drawn. It was said by some that Fischer had a bad cold and everyone wondered if he could regain his earlier momentum. After this relapse he won the next four games. This made Fischer challenger to Spassky. Spassky too was a brilliant attacking player and had been a chess genius since early childhood, so it promised to be an exceptional match.

While preparations were being made for the World Championship in Iceland, Fischer started to complain about the prize money which he thought should be doubled.
‘I was driving into London early one Monday morning in mid-July feeling disappointed that after all this build-up Fischer might not be taking on Spassky, when it suddenly occurred to me that I could easily afford the extra prize money personally. As well as providing me with a fascinating spectacle for the next few weeks it would give chess players throughout the world enormous pleasure for the match to proceed.’

Jim Slater

From The Complete Chess Addict (Faber&Faber, 1987) , Mike Fox & Richard James:

“Jim Slater, the financier and children’s author, was a strong schoolboy player. He gave up chess for finance. This turned out a very good thing for chess, since he was able to tempt Bobby Fischer (with a £50,000 increase in stake-money) into playing Boris Spassky for the world title in 1972. Here’s what the young Slater was capable of:”

Bobby Fischer Goes to War, Faber&Faber, 2004
Bobby Fischer Goes to War, Faber&Faber, 2004

From Bobby Fischer Goes to War , David Edmonds and John Eidinow, Faber & Faber,  2004 we have a fuller account as follows :

“Driving to work in London early on Monday morning, 3 July, Jim Slater was upset by a radio report on the challenger’s non-appearance in Reykjavik. Slater was a businessman who had set up his own company, Slater Walker Securities, in 1964, when he was in his mid-thirties. His partner, Peter Walker, had left the business to become a Conservative member of parliament and a government minister under Edward Heath and,later, Margaret Thatcher. At the time of the Fischer-Spassky match, the company reportedly had a controlling interest in 250 companies around the world. Supremely confident, decisive, ruthless in business, Slater had by then amassed a fortune of, in his own words,’£6 million and rising’. A gambler by nature, the one big luxury he allowed himself was to play bridge for thousands of pounds with stronger opponents.

He was also a chess fan and supporter of the game, subsidizing the annual Hastings tournament. In the years following Fischer-Spassky, he would, alongside the former British champion and journalist Leonard Barden (who provided the vision and organization), transform the state of British chess by channelling funds into junior competition. Now he decided that he could easily afford the money to send Fischer to Reykjavik – or expose the American as a coward. He would double the prize, putting an additional £50,000 ($125,000) into the pot. Arriving at his office that Monday morning, he passed on his offer through Barden, who then spoke to Marshall, giving the US attorney some background details about this championship angel. Marshall then talked to Fischer. Slater says he also telephoned his friend David Frost, who in turn rang his friend Henry Kissinger’ Kissinger then contacted Fischer. What motivated Slater?’As well as providing me with a fascinating spectacle for the next few weeks, I could give chess players throughout the world enormous pleasure’

Slater’s offer made headlines in London’s Evening Standard and his house was soon swarming with reporters. When he returned from work, he told his astonished wife,’I had a good idea on the way to the office.’The good idea was couched in challenging terms: ‘If he isn’t afraid of Spassky, then I have removed the element of money’

Here is the famous headline from the July 3rd, 1972, London edition of the Evening Standard retrieved from Edward  Wintershttps://chesshistory.com/winter/extra/spasskyfischer.html

London Edition of the Evening Standard, July 3rd, 1972. Retrieved from https://chesshistory.com/winter/extra/spasskyfischer.html
London Edition of the Evening Standard, July 3rd, 1972. Retrieved from https://chesshistory.com/winter/extra/spasskyfischer.html

It is not altogether clear how the British offer finally persuaded Fischer. Paul Marshall certainly had a hand, initially pushing it as the answer to all Fischer’s financial demands.’But he wouldn’t accept it; he says.’His experiences with people promising things had taught him not to believe them, particularly with money. And he wanted proof. And he said no.’Marshall tried to change his mind. Phoning Barden, the attorney took his place in the gallery of callers that saved the match.’I said if I were them I would rephrase the offer. Slater should say he didn’t think his money was at risk, because Fischer was just making excuses. He should say that deep down Fischer was frightened. I said Bobby might be piqued by that challenge – and he was. I knew Bobby was very very competitive and combative and would not like to be thought of as a chicken.’ Slater denies this version of events. He maintains it was always his idea to express his offer as a taunt. He never spoke to Fischer and never received a word of gratitude from him.’Fischer is known to be rude, graceless, possibly insane,’he says.’I didn’t do it to be thanked. I did it because it would be good for chess.'”

The match between Fischer and Spassky was a most exciting one and fully up to everyone’s expectations. Fischer won the match.

A few months later, in an endeavour to help our young players, Jim Slater offered on behalf of The Slater Foundation to give a prize of £5,000 (about £75,000 in today’s money) to the first British grand master and £2,500 to the next four. Over the next few years Great Britain went from having no grand masters to twenty and became one of the strongest teams of young chess players in the world.”

Here is an obituary written by Stewart Reuben

and here is an obituary from Liberal England

Here is an item from the Slater Foundation

and here is his entry from chessgames.com which lists one game from 1947 : “James Derrick Slater, better known as Jim Slater, was an English accountant, investor and business writer. Slater became a well-known chess patron in the 1970s, when he stepped in to double the prize fund of the Fischer-Spassky world championship match at a time when Fischer was threatening not to play, thereby enabling the match to go forward. Afterwards he provided significant financial backing for the development of young British players, many of whom later contributed to Britain becoming one of the world’s strongest chess countries in the 1980s.”

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

“British chess patron, financier, children’s author, Slater achieved wide fame in the chess world on the occasion of the Spassky-Fischer world championship match of 1972. Fischer showed reluctance to play and apparently decided to do so when Slater added £50,000 to the prize fund. Slater has also made contributions to many other chess causes and in 1973 set-up the Slater Foundation, a charitable trust which, among other activities, pays for the coaching of young players and provides help for their families if needed. Leonard Barden advises the trust on chess matters. In the 1970s, partly owing to this patronage, junior players in Britain became as strong as those in any other country.”

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

“An English financier, a great patron and benefactor of chess, both on a national and world level. Passionately devoted to chess from schooldays. He said that on leaving school he hesitated between the alternatives of become a chess master and of going into business, opting for the latter on the grounds that he was not sure of his chess-playing prowess.

It is perhaps a fortunate thing for chess that he did not become a chess-master, since he offer of a £50,000 increase to the stake at the match at Reykjavik in Iceland in 1972 may well have swayed Fischer into consenting to play. He established a Slater Foundation Fund which helps young English players to go and play abroad.”

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Here is a small item from Dennis Monokroussos

The Zulu Principle, Jim Slater
The Zulu Principle, Jim Slater
Investment Made Easy, Jim Slater
Investment Made Easy, Jim Slater
Return to Go, Jim Slater
Return to Go, Jim Slater
The Tricky Troggle, James and Christopher Slater
The Tricky Troggle, James and Christopher Slater
The Great Gulper, James and Christopher Slater
The Great Gulper, James and Christopher Slater

The School Seedbed of Britain’s Chess Success

The following article was originally published on November 7th 1980 in Education magazine. The author was George Low. George may be found on LinkedIn. Education magazine was a weekly publication that started in 1903 and in 1997 was absorbed into Education Journal.

The article was reproduced in 1981 in The English Chess Explosion by Murray Chandler and Ray Keene :

Education, 7th November 1980

The school seedbed of Britain’s chess success

George Low explains why our youngsters are doing so well

“Britain’s international chess team, with an average age of under 30, is now the most formidable and talented in the world. At this month’s tournament in Malta they will be breathing down the necks of the Russians for the championship and have a high chance of coming away with a medal.

Behind the national team there is an even more promising junior squad, who have won the European championships two years’ running. Among the up and coming youngsters who are beginning to give the Russians cause for anxiety are two potential world champions – Tony Miles, now a Grandmaster and serious contender for the world championship, and Nigel Short, who at 15 is already the youngest international master ever.

The remarkable upsurge of standards and interest is a phenomenon of some educational significance. The schools have been the seedbed. The nurturing of young talent (often from the age of six or even younger) has been a tangible proof of the dedication of teachers to supervision and support outside school
hours, and there are few extra-curricular activities more time-consuming than chess.

A class of girls listens to their teacher Lucy Anness give a lesson on the game of chess at a school in Bromley, Kent, England, in 1948. Miss Anness, head of the school, believes this is the only girls' school in Britain at this time that teaches chess as part of the curriculum. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)
A class of girls listens to their teacher Lucy Anness give a lesson on the game of chess at a school in Bromley, Kent, England, in 1948. Miss Anness, head of the school, believes this is the only girls’ school in Britain at this time that teaches chess as part of the curriculum. (Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

But alongside the school clubs a network of small informal clubs have sprung up and a series of tournaments for all ages and groups. City financier Jim Slater and Lloyds Bank can take the main credit for financial sponsorship of the junior squad, and newspapers like The Sunday Times and The Evening Standard have stimulated a great deal of competitive zeal through their school and individual tournaments.

Like many educational developments in this country, the chess phenomenon has completely by-passed the Department of Education and Science, who have turned down all approaches for financial and even moral support. Officials are wont to plead that there is no mention of chess in the 1944 Education Act or its successors, This is, of course, true, but the Department, nevertheless, manages to make all sorts of direct and indirect contributions to musical and sporting activities. When set beside the intense involvement of many other nations in the development of chess the official attitude appears all the more
uninspiring.

How then has Britain managed to bound up the international league table from no. 26 to among the top three nations of the world? Mr. Leonard Barden, manager of the junior squad, traces the resurgence of interest to media coverage of the Spassky-Fischer duel eight years ago and its sequel between Korchnoi and Karpov five years later.

In about 1972-3, he recalls, the selectors started casting their nets much wider than the Home Counties grammar schools where the recruiting ground had
traditionally been. He and his colleagues looked through the results of a lot more tournaments all over the country. Those who had real talent were encouraged to go in for the National Junior Squad championships and to enter adult tournaments. They were also given the opportunity to play against Grandmaster in ‘simuls’ (simultaneous games involving 20 or 30 boards). Mr. Barden now has 500 young players on his books in whom he takes an active interest, following their tournament games and writing to suggest alternative strategies in their games. Beneath these there is a pool of 2000 to 3000 children who play in tournaments and are graded players whom the selectors have their eye on.

Julian and Nigel Short play Korchnoi in a simul. Leonard Barden observes.
Julian and Nigel Short play Korchnoi in a simul. Leonard Barden observes.

Nigel Short was an early find when he won the Merseyside championship under nines. By the age of 9.5 he was developing very rapidly under special tuition and was entering simuls with Grandmasters. He was one of the children who Leonard Barden put into his training schedule and persuaded him to aim for the highest league. ‘Between the ages of nine and fourteen they can develop very rapidly and are ready to play with adults. After that they fall foul of the English exam system and that slows them down having to memorise all that largely irrelevant mass of information,’Mr. Barden says.

There is no risk of force-feeding the children in his squad, he says, they are all naturally bright and do not suffer from the competition within their age group. They are as group a perfectly normal lot. He believes that besides the technical help promising youngsters can be given such as being introduced to chess magazines, motivation is all-important. The Department of Education should do more to foster chess, he thinks, achievement in chess and success in academic subjects.

Mr. Michael Sinclair, who runs the chess club at Hampton School and organises many school tournaments, see numerous educational and personal benefits from children playing chess in schools. The older boys (Ed: this was 1980!) can help the younger ones to develop their game and they in turn learn a lot from competing with adults in congresses.

The game teaches children to concentrate for long periods of time, to observe correct etiquette and to accept adjudication decisions (Ed: I suspect this means arbiting decisions!). It also gives them an understanding of a symbolic language that can be a useful grounding in such subjects as algebra or even computer programming. in later studies. Given its undoubted educational contribution, it is surprising that few books have been written on teaching chess in schools.”

The English Chess Explosion
The English Chess Explosion