Category Archives: 2019

Happy Birthday IM Brandon Clarke (14-XII-1995)

IM Brandon GI Clarke
IM Brandon GI Clarke

Happy Birthday Wishes to IM Brandon GI Clarke born on this day (December 14th), 1995.

Brandon was a chess scholar at Wellington College, Berkshire and was part of the strongest school / college team to play in the National Schools competition for many years that included James Holland, Felix Jose Ynojosa-Aponte, Alexander Galliano, Latefah Meesam-Sparkes, Akash Jain, Adrian Archer-Lock and latterly William Foo and Richard Zhu. Despite being easily the strongest team they were denied the title by the age handicaping rules.

He became an International Master in early 2019 and plays much chess in Australia, New Zealand and England having lived in the USA for some time after leaving Wellington College.

Aged 24 Brandon has achieved his highest FIDE rating of 2445 and it shows every sign of increasing.

Brandon won the 2019 Major Open in Torquay with 8.5/9 as an IM, plays for Australia Kangaroos in the Pro Chess League.

IM Brandon GI Clarke
IM Brandon GI Clarke

A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire (New Edition)

A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire : Chris Baker and Graham Burgess

A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire (New Edition)
A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire (New Edition)

FIDE Master Graham Burgess needs no introduction to readers of English language chess books ! Minnesota, USA based, Graham has authored more than twenty five books and edited at least 250 and is editorial director of Gambit Publications Ltd. In 1994 Graham set a world record for marathon blitz playing and has been champion of the Danish region of Funen !
We previously reviewed Chess Opening Traps for Kids also by Graham Burgess.

FM Graham Burgess
FM Graham Burgess

This new book is an extensive rewrite and update of the original (1998) edition by IM Chris Baker.

IM Chris Baker
IM Chris Baker

Baker and Burgess have provided a complete repertoire for the White player based around 1.e4 and the Max Lange Attack with suggested lines for White against each and every reasonable reply from Black. Logically, the content is organised based on the popularity of Black’s first move and therefore the order is

  1. 1…e5 2.Nf3
    • 2…Nc6
    • 2…Nf6
    • 2…d6 (and Modern Philidor)
    • 2…f5
  2. 1…c5
  3. 1…e6
  4. 1…c6
  5. 1…d6 & g6
  6. 1…Nf6
  7. 1…d5 (we might have put the Scandinavian higher up the pecking order but that is a matter of opinion)
  8. 1…Nc6
  9. Odds & Ends
    • Elephant Gambit
    • St. George
    • Owen’s Defence

and for each Black defence the authors have selected sharp and challenging lines for White that will definitely give Black something to think about. We have sampled some of these lines and confirm that they are variations that Black needs to tread very carefully in to stay on the board. They are all sound and not based on “coffee house gambits” or cheap traps.

Who is the intended audience of this book ? Well, clearly anyone who currently plays 1.e4 or is contemplating adding 1. e4 to their repertoire. Also, anyone who faces 1.e4 (and that is everyone who plays chess!) should be aware of of what might land on their board when they are least expecting it. As Robert Baden Powell would advise : “Be prepared !”

Keep Calm and Be Prepared
Keep Calm and Be Prepared

Unfortunately, We do not possess a copy of the original 1998 edition and we were curious as to the extent of the changes. The Introduction states :

“For this new edition, I have sought to retain the spirit and aims of the original book, while bringing the content fully up-to-date, making a repertoire that will work well in 2019 and for years to come.

In a sense it is basically a new book: wherever anything needed correcting, updating, replacing or adding, I have done so. Where material is unaltered, this is because it passed verification and nothing needed to be added. … the overall recommendations were not changed unless this was necessary. Some lines covered in this book basically didn’t exist in 1998, so I needed to decide what line against them was most in keeping with the rest of the repertoire.”

We followed up on the above and contacted the author (GB) receiving a very helpful reply as follows :

Something like 70% of the content is either new or modified so much as to be basically new. Examples of lines that essentially didn’t exist in 1998 include “Tiger’s Modern” and the 3…Qd6 Scandinavian. Lines where the old recommendation has been replaced (since it was fundamentally flawed in some way) include the Modern Philidor and the Two Knights French with 3…d4 (I briefly explain the switch from 5 c3 to 5 b4).

The whole Three Knights/Four Knights section in Chapter 10 is new, both to fill the repertoire hole and to provide an alternative vs the Petroff to those who don’t like the Cochrane.

But, almost every part of the book features fundamental changes. Little remains of the original Part 3 of the Sicilian chapter (other than the basic theme of a fianchetto set-up), for instance.

My aim was to be faithful to the aims of the original book, but only to the specifics where they still work, or where there isn’t a new possibility that fits better with the repertoire.

and furthermore :

I have attached a graph showing the years the game references come from. The number for each year shows the cumulative total up to that year. Though this doesn’t really tell the full story, as I cited game references in a very sparing way, only using them when there seemed a real purpose in doing so.

and here is that graphic (courtesy of Graham) :

A graph showing the years the game references come from. The number for each year shows the cumulative total up to that year.
A graph showing the years the game references come from. The number for each year shows the cumulative total up to that year.

Clearly we are not going to reveal all of the suggestions here as that really would be a spoiler. Suffice to say that players of the Black lines would be wise to be aware of B&Bs suggestions ! We would recommend that any of the lines are tried out in off-hand games and on-line before important games and some of the more critical ones will need a degree of memorization to a fair few moves deep.

In the BCN office we have a Caro-Kann expert who confirmed that B&Bs suggestions for White are most definitely on the cutting edge and were checked with Stockfish 10. Indeed a team mate tried the suggestion for White in a league match and the opponent (a Caro-Kann player of more than forty years) had a catastrophic loss on his hands in short order.

As a taster here is a suggested line from the book that is full of pitfalls for Black :

We consulted an experienced (and successful) player of the Elephant Gambit* and was told that he had never faced White’s fifth move suggestion in more than twenty years and that it was an excellent suggestion worthy of respect. *Some might know this as the Queen’s Pawn Counter Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5!?)

In summary, this second edition is a substantial update and improvement of a first edition well received and we recommend it heartily to anyone who wants to sharpen and refresh their 1.e4 repertoire and anyone who faces 1.e4. You will not be disappointed and you might be ready for someone’s preparation and shock tactics !

John Upham, Cove, Hampshire, December 13th 2019

John Upham
John Upham

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 192 pages
  • Publisher: Gambit Publications Ltd; 2nd New edition edition (22 Sept. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1911465325
  • ISBN-13: 978-1911465324
  • Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 1.5 x 24.8 cm

Official web site of Gambit Publications Ltd.

A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire (New Edition)
A Startling Chess Opening Repertoire (New Edition)

Remembering FM Peter Hugh Clarke (18-iii-1933 11-xii-2014)

FM Peter Hugh Clarke
FM Peter Hugh Clarke

We remember FM Peter Hugh Clarke who passed away on Thursday, December 11th, 2014.

From BCM / ECF :

FIDE and British Master P.H. Clarke will be best remembered as biographer to Tal and to Petrosyan, but he was so much more. The young Clarke played for Ilford CC in the London League and for Essex at county level. Doing national service he was to learn the Russian that was to so shape his writings. For a brief period in the late 1950s, and early sixties, he was the number two player in England, ahead of the vastly more experienced Alexander and Golombek. He played, of course, below Jonathan Penrose, a partnership that bore fruit when preparing openings; latterly they both became Correspondence Grandmasters.

FM Peter Hugh Clarke (18-iii-1933, 11-xii-2014)
FM Peter Hugh Clarke (18-iii-1933, 11-xii-2014)

At the British Championships itself he finished second on his first appearance; he was to tie for silver medal on no less than five occasions, appearing, almost without a break for thirty years, a run that ended in 1982. He represented the BCF – as it then was – in eight Olympiads, playing on top board in 1966.

The Clarke family moved to the West of England in the late Sixties. PHC played in thirteen WECU Championships, and lost only twice. As a player he could be cautious, agreeing too readily to draws. Accuracy and respect meant more to him than ambition. The biographer became a journalist as illness cut short his playing career. In his time he beat Larsen, Penrose and Szabo.

Kick Langeweg plays Hugh Alexander in the Anglo-Dutch Match of October 7th , 1961. Peter Clarke (right) is playing Johan Teunis Barendregt and Harry Golombek observes

In 1962 he married BH Wood’s daughter, Peggy. They had three daughters. In 1975 my mother happened across Peter and Peggy on Morecambe prom. “Never” she was later to tell me, “have I seen a couple more in love.”

Peter Clarke & Peggy Wood in 1962
Peter Clarke & Peggy Wood in 1962

and from Wikipedia :

A Young PHC & Father
A Young PHC & Father

Peter Hugh Clarke (18 March 1933 – 11 December 2014) was an English chess player, who hold titles FIDE master (FM) and International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (1980), FIDE International arbiter (1976), Chess Olympiad individual silver medal winner (1956).

Peter Hugh Clarke started playing chess at the age of six. He twice won the London Boys’ Chess Championship (1950, 1951). He was British Chess Championship multiplier participant where five times won silver medal.[1][2]

Since 1959, Peter Hugh Clarke has been working as a chess journalist in the newspaper Sunday Times and magazine British Chess Magazine. He known as the biographical book’s author of Mikhail Tal (1961) and Tigran Petrosian (1964). Thanks to his good knowledge of Russian language, he translated the book about Vasily Smyslov in 1958. In 1963 he wrote a book 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures.[3]

Cien Miniaturas Rusas
Cien Miniaturas Rusas

Peter Hugh Clarke played for England in the Chess Olympiads:[4]

In 1954, at second reserve board in the 11th Chess Olympiad in Amsterdam (+2, =2, -3),
In 1956, at reserve board in the 12th Chess Olympiad in Moscow (+7, =5, -0) and won individual silver medal,
In 1958, at fourth board in the 13th Chess Olympiad in Munich (+2, =10, -3),
In 1960, at third board in the 14th Chess Olympiad in Leipzig (+4, =7, -3),
In 1962, at second board in the 15th Chess Olympiad in Varna (+3, =10, -2),
In 1964, at second board in the 16th Chess Olympiad in Tel Aviv (+2, =8, -2),
In 1966, at first board in the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana (+2, =10, -1),
In 1968, at third board in the 18th Chess Olympiad in Lugano (+0, =7, -1).
Also he played for England in the World Student Team Chess Championship (1954, 1959)[5] and in the Clare Benedict Chess Cup (1960-1961, 1963, 1965, 1967-1968) where won team silver medal (1960) and 4 bronze medals (1961, 1963, 1967, 1968).[6]

In later years, Peter Hugh Clarke active participated in correspondence chess tournaments. In 1977, he won British Correspondence Chess Championship. In 1976, Peter Hugh Clarke was awarded the International Correspondence Chess Master (IMC) title and received the International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (GMC) title four years later.

Peter was England’s third Correspondence Grandmaster (CGM) in 1980 after Keith Richardson and Adrian Hollis.

Peter was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion for the 1945-55 season.

FM Peter Hugh Clarke
FM Peter Hugh Clarke

Peter Hugh Clarke “Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess”, Bell, 1961, ISBN 9780713502046

Mikhail Tal's Best Games of Chess
Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess

Peter Hugh Clarke “Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963”, G. Bell & Sons, 1971, ISBN 9780713502060

Petrosian's Best Games of Chess
Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess

Happy Birthday GM Matthew Turner (11-XII-1975)

GM Matthew James Turner
GM Matthew James Turner

We wish Happy Birthday to GM Matthew Turner born this day (December 11th) in 1975 in Lincolnshire.

His peak rating according to ChessBase was 2545 in October 2017 but he may well eclipse that being an active GM.

In 2011 Matthew changed his FIDE Federation to Scotland (from England) and is current (2019) Scottish Champion winning with 7/9

Matthew James Turner
Matthew James Turner

Matthew is chess tutor at Millfield School and has appeared with success on Countdown.

Matthew Turner
Matthew Turner

Matthew plays for Barbican in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL)

GM Matthew Turner, British Blitz Qualifier, 2019, Bristol
GM Matthew Turner, British Blitz Qualifier, 2019, Bristol

Remembering Joseph Henry Blake (03-ii-1859 11-xii-1951)

Joseph Henry Blake
Joseph Henry Blake

We remember English player Joseph Henry Blake who passed away on Tuesday, December 11th, 1951.

From Wikipedia :

Joseph Henry Blake (3 February 1859, Farnborough, Hampshire – 11 December 1951, Kingston-upon-Thames)[1] was an English chess master.

Blake won many tournaments played in England toward the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. He won at Stamford 1887, Oxford 1891 (joint), Brighton 1892, Cambridge 1893, and Salisbury 1898 (joint). He also took 5th at Manchester 1882, tied for 3-4th at Birmingham 1883 (Section B), took 4th at Bath 1884, tied for 6-8th at London 1889 (Henry Bird won), took 2nd at Cambridge 1890, tied for 3rd-4th at Woodhall Spa 1893, shared 2nd at Craigside 1895, took 3rd at Hastings (Amateur) 1895, took 2nd, behind Henry Ernest Atkins, at Bristol 1896, and won at Folkestone 1901.[2]

He took 2nd in an international correspondence tournament organised by Le Monde Illustré in 1895, shared 1st in the 1909 British Championship in Scarborough but lost to Atkins the play-off, and shared 1st at London 1911. He was British correspondence champion in 1922.[3]

Blake represented England in cable matches against the United States in 1902, 1909 and 1910.[4]

His best achievement was victory, ahead of Géza Maróczy, George Alan Thomas, Fred Yates and Boris Kostić, at Weston-super-Mare 1922.[5] He shared 2nd at London 1922 (Major Open), tied for 7-8th at Hastings International Chess Congress 1922/23 (Akiba Rubinstein won), took 2nd, behind Thomas, at London 1923, took 5th at Liverpool 1923 (Jacques Mieses won),[6] tied for 7-8th at Hastings 1923/24 (Max Euwe won), tied for 6-7th at Weston-super-Mare 1924 (Euwe won),[7] took 2nd, behind R.P. Michell, at London 1925, took 4th at London 1926 (Victor Buerger won), and tied for 7-9th at Weston-super-Mare 1926 (Euwe won).[8]

He is an author of Chess ending for beginners (London 1900).[9]

and according to Tim Harding in the excellent Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland, 1824-1987 :

Railway clerk Joseph Henry Blake, the leading English correspondence player of the 1890s; also a strong OTB amateur player. He was a regular contributor to British Chess Magazine from the 1880s to the late 1930s.

And according to Golombek in The Encyclopedia of Chess :

A leading British player in the 1890s and for many years editor of the Games Section of the British Chess Magazine between the two world wars. Blake’s best tournament performance came at the age sixty-three when, at Weston-super-Mare in 1922, he came 1st ahead of Maróczy, Kostić, Sir George Thomas and Yates.

The remarkable feature about Blake’s chess career is that he retained his skill and his comprehension of the game for a much longer period that most chess players. This extended from 1887 when he was st at the Counties Chess Association tournament at Stamford ahead of Bird and Pollock, a performance he was to repeat in 1891 at Oxford, to 1909 when he tied with H. E. Atkins for first place in the British Championship, to 1923 whe he won the Weston-super-Mare tournament, right into the 1930s when he was principal annotator for the British Chess Magazine.

Joseph Henry Blake
Joseph Henry Blake

Happy Birthday WGM Dr. Jana Bellin (09-XII-1947)

WGM Dr. Jana Bellin
WGM Dr. Jana Bellin

Happy birthday WGM Dr. Jana Bellin on this day (December 9th) in 1947.

From Wikipedia :

Jana Bellin (née Malypetrová; born 9 December 1947) is a British, formerly Czechoslovak chess player. She was awarded the Woman International Master chess title in 1969 and the Woman Grandmaster title in 1982.[1]

Jana with Sheila Jackson to her left
Jana with Sheila Jackson to her left

Bellin was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. She was the Czech Women’s Champion in 1965 and 1967 under her maiden name of Malypetrová.[2] After her marriage to William Hartston she moved to England in 1970[2] and won the British Women’s Championship in 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977 (after a play-off), and 1979.[3] She has fifteen appearances in the Women’s Chess Olympiads, representing Czechoslovakia in 1966 and 1969 and England thirteen times from 1972 through 2006, seven times on first board.[4] At the Olympiad she earned individual silver medals in 1966 and 1976, a team bronze medal in 1968 with the Czechoslovakian team, and a team silver in 1976 with England.[4]

Jana the simul giver
Jana the simul giver

Bellin is a medical doctor specialising in anaesthetics, and works in intensive care at Sandwell General Hospital, West Bromwich, England.[5]

She is also Chairman of the FIDE Medical Commission,[6] which supervises drug testing of chess players.[7]

Bellin was married first to International Master William Hartston, then to Grandmaster Tony Miles,[1][3] and after that to International Master Robert Bellin. She and Bellin have two sons: Robert (born 1988) and Christopher (born 1991).[citation needed]

Dr. Jana Bellin
Dr. Jana Bellin

She is the granddaughter of thrice Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia, Jan Malypetr.[citation needed] and cousin of author and human rights campaigner Jiří Stránský.

WGM Dr. Jana Bellin
WGM Dr. Jana Bellin

Happy Birthday IM John Hawksworth (06-XII-1963)

IM John Crofton Hawksworth
IM John Crofton Hawksworth

We wish happy birthday to IM John Hawksworth born on Friday, December 6th, 1963.

John Crofton Hawksworth was “born in Brighton, England, in December 1963 to Robert Marshall Hawksworth and Norah Connor Hawksworth née Crofton. He was baptised at St Saviour’s Church of England church in Pimlico, London, in 1964.[1]”

This was written about John who was 15 just prior to the Spassky vs the BCF Junior Squad simultaneous display in 1979 :

“Bradford Grammar and Bradford. Rating 194. Yorkshire under-18 champion.”

He was awarded the IM title in 1986.

According to ChessBase his highest FIDE rating was 2370 in January, 1990 aged 27 which was the last year of serious competition at the 77th British Championships in Eastbourne.

He then pursued a highly successful career in the financial sector and is currently the Chief Economist for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

IM John Crofton Hawksworth (standing,far left)
IM John Crofton Hawksworth (standing,far left)

IM John Crofton Hawksworth (standing, second from right)
IM John Crofton Hawksworth (standing, second from right)
At the Lloyds Bank Masters : Front (l-r) : Joel Benjamin, Ian Wells, Rear : Peter Morrish, Stewart Reuben, Richard Beville, Gary Senior, Richard Webb, John Hawksworth, Andrew King, Nigel Short, Mark Ginsburg, Daniel King, David Cummings, Erik Teichmann, John Brandford and Micheal Pagden
At the Lloyds Bank Masters : Front (l-r) : Joel Benjamin, Ian Wells, Rear : Peter Morrish, Stewart Reuben, Richard Beville, Gary Senior, Richard Webb, John Hawksworth, Andrew King, Nigel Short, Mark Ginsburg, Daniel King, David Cummings, Erik Teichmann, John Brandford and Micheal Pagden

Happy Birthday IM Gavin Wall (05-XII-1968)

IM Gavin Wall
IM Gavin Wall

Best Wishes to IM Gavin Wall on this birthday, this day (December 5th) in 1968. Gavin is an Irish International Master whose peak rating (according to Chessbase) was 2413 at the age of 35.

IM Gavin Wall
IM Gavin Wall

IM Gavin Wall
IM Gavin Wall

Remembering James Macrae Aitken (27-x-1908 03-xii-1983)

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken
Signature of JM Aitken from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Hastings Christmas Congress, 1945-1946
Signature of JM Aitken from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Hastings Christmas Congress, 1945-1946

We remember James Macrae Aitken who passed away on Saturday, December 3rd, 1983

From Wikipedia :

James Macrae Aitken (27 October 1908 – 3 December 1983) was a Scottish chess player.[1][2] Aitken was born in Calderbank, Lanarkshire, Scotland. In 1938 he received a PhD from Edinburgh University on the topic of ‘The Trial of George Buchanan Before the Lisbon Inquisition’.[3]

Aitken learned chess from his father at age 10.[4] He was Scottish champion in 1935, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1965, the latter jointly with PM Jamieson.[1] He was also London Champion in 1950.[1] In 1959 he had his best result in the British Championship, finishing tied for seventh place.[4] Aitken represented Scotland in four Chess Olympiads. He played top board at Stockholm 1937, scoring only 32.4% but he did defeat Swedish GM Gideon Ståhlberg[4][5] and draw with American GM Samuel Reshevsky.[4] He played second board at Munich 1958 and Tel Aviv 1964, scoring 67.6% and 28.1% respectively. Aitken played sixth board at Skopje 1972, scoring 38.9%.[5]

Aitken was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion for the 1948-49 season

Aitken represented Great Britain in matches against the USSR and Yugoslavia.[4] In the 1946 radio match between the United Kingdom and the USSR he lost his match with Igor Bondarevsky on board 8.[6] Aitken defeated GM Savielly Tartakower at Southsea 1949[4][7] and GM Efim Bogoljubow at Bad Pyrmont 1951.[4][8]

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken

During World War II, Aitken worked in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park on solving German Enigma machines.[9] On 2 December 1944 Bletchley Park played a 12-board team match against the Oxford University Chess Club. Bletchley Park won the match 8–4 with C.H.O’D. Alexander, Harry Golombek, and Aitken on the top three boards.[10] Aitken wrote many book reviews for the British Chess Magazine.[11] Aside from chess his hobbies included golf, philately, bridge, and watching cricket.[4] He died in Cheltenham in 1983, aged 75.[2]

James Macrae Aitken in 1965 by "Mac"
James Macrae Aitken in 1965 by “Mac”

Another biography may be found here at the wonderful Chess Scotland

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken