On the “glorious twelfth” of August we celebrate the birthday of one of England’s most popular chess players and writers, IM Bill Hartston.
William Roland Hartston was born in Willesden, Middlesex on Tuesday, August 12th, 1947. His father was William Hartston, a significant member of the Royal College of Physicians who was married to Mary Rowland. Bill had a sister.
He studied at the City of London School and then studied mathematics at Jesus College, Cambridge and graduated with a BA in 1968 and an MA in 1972, but did not complete his PhD on number theory.
Bill married Dr. Jana Malypetrova in January, 1970 in Cambridge. In 1978 Bill married Elizabeth Bannerman, also in Cambridge and from that marriage he had two sons, James and Nicholas.
Bill became an International Master in 1972 and his highest FIDE rating was 2485 in January 1979.
Bill is a self-proclaimed follower of Prof. AJ Ayer (See the Acknowledgements in “Soft Pawn”) Clint Eastwood and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Bill was the chess correspondent of The Independent and The Mail on Sunday. He was also a regular presenter and commentator for television. He worked with Jeremy James on the BBC’s Master Game.
Bill is an industrial psychologist.
Harry Golombek wrote the following in a 1980 Dataday chess diary :
“Hartston played hardly at all during the period from my last entry of him in the 1977 diary and that little, though respectable, was hardly the performance of an active master. His equal 3rd to 5th at the big Aaronson’s Masters Tournament (a swiss system event with 72 players) did not really affect his rating and indeed he finished up without changing his Elo rating at all.
Nevertheless, this glimpse of his true powers was impressive as can be seen in the following game which was played in the 6th round of the Aaronson tournament.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess(Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master (1972) and British Champion (1973) William Hartston was born in London on the 12th August 1947. He was taught to play chess by his father when he was seven and five years later joined Enfield Chess Club. His results in junior events included 1st in the London Boys’ Under 16 Championship and 2nd in the British Boys’ Under 15 Championship in 1962 and =2nd in the British Boys Under 18 Championship in 1963.
In 1965, Hartston made his first appearance in the British Championship and came =5th. In the same year he won the Ilford and Paignton Premier tournaments. Playing on board 3 for England in the 1966 Olympiad. Hartston scored the best result of any British player, 66.7%. In the Olympiad of 1970, he had the best overall score on board 3, 12.5 out of 16 and in the Olympiad of 1972 he won the prize for the 3rd best score on board 2, 12.5 out of 18. In 1972 he narrowly failed to qualify for the Interzonal tournament, when he came 3rd in the Zonal tournament at Vranjacka Banja.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :
“British International Master and twice British Champion. Hartston was born in London and his early chess was played there., where he became London Boy (Under-16 Champion in 1962.
He was educated at the City of London School and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in mathematics.
It soon became clear that he was one of the leading young players in England and a rivalry developed between him and Raymond Keene in which first one and then the other obtained the upper hand.
After a number of near misses he won the British Championship at Eastbourne in 1973 and again at Morecambe in 1975.
Internationally he has already had a distinguished career and has been especially good and consistent in his representation of England at the Olympiads. At Havana in 1966 he scored 66.7% on board 3 but did not play at Lugano in 1968. Again on board 3 at Siegen in 1970 he obtained the best score on board 3 with 78.1%. At Skopje 1972 he fulfilled the second norm of the international master title with 12.5 points out of 18 on second board. Playing on first board at Nice 1974 he attained 52.7% and had a most meritorious and well fought draw with the World Champion, Karpov.
He achieved a breakthrough in the field of international tournament chess when he came third in a strong Premier tournament at Hastings 1972/3 and in 1973 he scored a first at Alicante. His best tournament result came three years later when he won 1st prize at Sarajevo 1976.
His style of play is sound and competent in all the spheres of the game. That he can be brilliant when necessary he demonstrated his beautiful brilliancy game against the Finnish grandmaster Westerinen at Allicante in 1973. He has a fine, broad knowledge of the openings and has written a number of articles and books on that theme.
A lucid and entertaining writer, he has also appeared with success in BBC Television chess programmes. Among his chief works are :
The Benoni, London, 1969
The Grunfeld Defence, London, 1971
The Best Games of CHO’D Alexander (with H. Golombek), Oxford, 1976.”
Here is his Wikipedia article