Category Archives: 4NCL

Happy Birthday GM Daniel Fernandez (05-iii-1995)

IM Daniel Fernandez at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
IM Daniel Fernandez at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to GM Daniel Fernandez who at 26 is currently England’s youngest Grandmaster. The previous GM title holder was Jonathan Hawkins in 2014 making two in seven years.

Daniel Howard Fernandez was born in Stockport, Manchester on Sunday, March 5th 1995.  “Think Twice” by Celine Dion was top of the UK hit parade.

Daniel started playing chess at the age of seven (after his father taught him the rules) and at this time attended King’s School, Harpenden.  His first chess club was Little Heath which became the ECF Small Club of the Year in 2015. They play in the Potter’s Bar area and include IM John Pigott in their membership.

At Little Heath Chess Club Daniel was coached by Mark Uniacke (who worked extensively on the early chess engine HIARCS).

Daniel went up to Queen’s College, Cambridge to read mathematics and left to become a Data Analyst at Mu Sigma Inc. He can speak several languages (including Serbian!) and works as a translator when opportunities arise.

He currently lives in Australia offering coaching and writing chess books (for Thinkers Publishing) and columns for Chessbase. In his spare time (!) Daniel is studying for The Master of Complex Systems degree at The University of Sydney.

Daniel’s first ECF graded game was rapidplay on July 5th 2003 in the SCCU Junior Under-14 Final.

His first standard play game was in August 2003 at the Edinburgh based British Under-8 Championship.

Daniel Fernandez
Daniel Fernandez

Daniels ECF grading profile demonstrated rapid improvement :

ECF grading profile for Daniel Fernandez
ECF grading profile for Daniel Fernandez

On August 13th 2004 in Scarborough Daniel became British Under-9 Champion sharing the title with Daniel Hunt & Saravanan Sathyanandha.

The Fernandez family relocated to Singapore in August, Daniel attending the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore. He was swiftly recruited into the Singapore Chess Federation’s (SCF) National Junior Squad. Also in that squad were Danielle Ho and Howard Chiu (remember this for later!).

Barely three weeks after his Scarborough triumph on September 4th 2004 Daniel played his first FIDE rated game in the 5th Asian Under-10 Championship organised by the ASEAN Chess Confederation. His performance in this event was rewarded with a FIDE Master title in 2005. Because he was no longer active in English events the ECF had the unusual scenario of having a ten year old FIDE Master with a published grade of ~120!

In typically modest fashion Daniel confesses  that he did not “deserve” the FM title at this time and that it was the consequence of the strong position of the ASEAN and SCF organisations  within world chess. At the same event Wesley So gained his FM title in the Under-12 section.

FM Daniel Fernandez
FM Daniel Fernandez

Another interesting consequence of the relocation was that when Daniel returned to England in 2012 his last published grading went from ~ 120 to ~230!

One of the motivations of  returning to England was to obtain the necessary entrance requirement to study mathematics at Cambridge. This he did by studying for A-levels at Manchester Grammar School.

Daniel with IM Jovan Petronic during the 2010 world juniors in Chotowa, Poland | Photo: Diana Mihajlova
Daniel with IM Jovan Petronic during the 2010 world juniors in Chotowa, Poland | Photo: Diana Mihajlova

Consequently Daniel’s FIDE rating profile also showed a fast pace of development:

FIDE rating profile for Daniel Fernandez
FIDE rating profile for Daniel Fernandez

Sydney 2009 and Sydney 2010 both provided IM norms with the third one coming from Kuala Lumpar 2010 and with these Daniel became an International Master in 2010 the title being confirmed at the 3rd quarter Presidential Board Meeting 2010, 24-25 July 2010, Tromso in Norway.

IM Daniel Fernandez, 100th British Championships, Round 5, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Daniel Fernandez, 100th British Championships, Round 5, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

He won the Budapest Sarkany Tournament in 2014 as follows:

Full Crosstable from Budapest Sarkany Tournament, 2014.
Full Crosstable from Budapest Sarkany Tournament, 2014.

earning his first GM norm in the process.

IM Daniel Fernandez, 101st British Championships, Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Daniel Fernandez, 101st British Championships, Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN asked Daniel for three of his favourite games. The first one is this Polish Defence game from 2015 played at the Visma Arena in Vaxjo, Sweden. First we have the crosstable showing that Daniel earnt his second GM norm from this event.

Full Crosstable for Vaxjo, Visma tournament in Sweden, 2015.
Full Crosstable for Vaxjo, Visma tournament in Sweden, 2015.

and here is the game:

and during the 2015/15 4NCL season Daniel obtained his final GM norm playing for Wood Green.

In March 2015 he made his first of three Varsity match appearences for Cambridge re-uniting with Danielle Ho and Howard Chiu (remember those names from earlier?).

Daniel won the 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial in 2017:

Full Crosstable from the 2017 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial
Full Crosstable from the 2017 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial

and also in 2017 Daniel was awarded the Grandmaster title at the 88th FIDE Congress 2017, 7-15 October, Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey.

On March 11th Daniel represented Cambridge in the 135th Varsity Match at the RAC Club in Pall Mall.  According to chess24.com ‘IM Daniel Fernandez, playing board 2 for Cambridge, was awarded the Brilliancy Prize by GM Ray Keene in consultation with McShane and Speelman, for his “high-class swindle” after recovering from a bad blunder.’ See here for details.

GM Daniel Fernandez, 2019 British Championships, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Daniel Fernandez, 2019 British Championships, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

In 2018 Daniel ventured into the world of book writing when Thinker’s Publishing released The Modernized Caro-Kann on September 8th 2018.  This was a repertoire book for Black based around the Smyslov Variation :

and was reviewed in this place favourably and quickly established Daniel as a significant author.

The Modernized Caro-Kann, Daniel Fernandez, Thinkers Publishing, 2018
The Modernized Caro-Kann, Daniel Fernandez, Thinkers Publishing, 2018

From the rear cover we have:

“GM Daniel Fernandez (born 1995) has been an active and accomplished player for several years. He represented his native Singapore twice at Olympiads (2010 and 2012) before transferring to the English chess federation. There, he won the national classical titles at U-18 and U-21 levels and worked to become a Grandmaster while simultaneously studying at Cambridge. The Caro-Kann was instrumental in his quest for that title. Currently, Daniel is known in the chess scene not only as a solid player, but also as a mentor figure to younger English players, as a producer of well-received commentary and analysis, and as a multilingual chess coach. This is his first book.”

From January 2019 we have this interesting encounter between Gawain Jones and Daniel from the annual 4NCL meeting of Guildford and Wood Green:

With the White pieces Daniel has played  a wide range of first moves but the majority move by far is 1.e4. His choice versus the Najdorf is some eclectic : sometime ago 6. Rg1 was the favourite and now 6.a4 is preferred.

Against 1…e5 Daniel offers a main line Ruy Lopez.

What does a Caro-Kann expert play against the Caro-Kann? Nowadays the Two Knights Variation is employed!

As the second player he plays the Sicilian Najdorf as well as the Caro-Kann plus an equal mixture of the Grünfeld and King’s Indian Defences.

In 2019 Daniel was interviewed by Edwin Lam on behalf of ChessBase : fascinating reading!

In the same year Daniel joined IM Adam Taylor’s venture Making Grandmasters.

Our final games is from July 2019 :

Daniel’s most recent publication is The Modernized Modern Defence from Thinker’s Publishing:

The Modernized Modern Defence, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker's Publishing, 2021
The Modernized Modern Defence, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021

and BCN has been told that Daniel has a book in the pipeline about the Tata Steel 2021 tournament at Wijk aan Zee.

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Happy Birthday GM (Elect) Ravi Haria (07-ii-1999)

IM Ravi Haria, 2019 British Championships, Torquay
IM Ravi Haria, 2019 British Championships, Torquay

BCN sends birthday wishes to IM (and soon to be GM) Ravi Haria.

Ravi Haria was born Sunday, February 7th, 1999  in Elstree, Hertfordshire. “Maria” by Blondie was top of the hit parade. Ravi currently resides in London.

Ravi attended Lonsdale School in Barnet and then The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and now reads History at University College, London.

ECF grading profiles for Ravi Haria
ECF grading profiles for Ravi Haria

Ravi learnt at the age of 6 and joined Barnet Knights Chess Club in 2005.

Ravi’s first recorded tournament was the 35th Barnet Knights Under-8  rapidplay on September 25th 2005. Also playing of note were Jonathan Pein and Isaac Sanders.

His first recorded standard play game  was in the London Junior Under-10 Championships on December 9th 2006.

By the time he was eight he had attracted the attention of the England selectors and played in the 2008 Commonwealth Championships in New Delhi coming home with a bronze medal.

Ravi aged 8 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in January 2008
Ravi aged 8 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in January 2008
Ravi aged 9 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in August 2008
Ravi aged 9 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in August 2008

In 2008 Ravi won the British Under-9 title in Liverpool. He said afterwards:

It was quite nice to be leading everyone and I felt proud of myself. I’m not sure how I control my nerves but it feels really good to win.

His mother Sona said:

It’s a bit overwhelming but we just support him. It means you have to give up a lot of time for him but it’s really nice to see that he’s getting somewhere.

This was followed in 2014 by winning the British Under-18 championship in Aberystwyth aged 15 and then the same title in 2017 in Llandudno.

Ravi Haria, UKCC Southern Gigafinal, 2013
Ravi Haria, UKCC Southern Gigafinal, 2013

In 2016 Ravi was equal 2nd to Deep Sengupta at the Hastings Masters Open with an impressive 6/9 and a TPR of 2563.  This performance secured his second IM norm.

The IM title was conferred at the 88th FIDE Congress 2017, 7-15 October, Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey.

He scored six points after 11 rounds at the 2017 World Junior championship in Italy and 5.5 points at the 2017 WYCC U-18 group in Uruguay.

Ravi completed his British junior titles run by becoming the current (no OTB event in 2020) British Under-21 champion in 2019 in Torquay scoring an emphatic 6.5/9 securing a share of third place.

Partial crosstable for the 2019 British Championships in Torquay
Partial crosstable for the 2019 British Championships in Torquay

Ravi became a FIDE Master in 2015 at the age of 16 and and International Master two years later making him England’s second youngest IM after Matthew Wadsworth.

OTB Elo rating profile for IM Ravi Haria according to MegaBase 2020
OTB Elo rating profile for IM Ravi Haria according to MegaBase 2020

In 2019 Ravi teamed up with IM Adam C. Taylor to join Adam’s Making Grandmasters training venture.

FM Ravi Haria, ECF Secondary Schools Rapidplay, 2016
FM Ravi Haria, ECF Secondary Schools Rapidplay, 2016

On January 28th 2021 Thinker’s Publishing released The Modernised Anti-Sicilians, Volume 1, Rossolimo Variation which is a massive 520 page tome on the following position :

which was reviewed by FM Richard Webb.

which we hope will be followed by at least Volume 2!

The Modernized Anti-Sicilians - Volume 1: Rossolimo Variation, Ravi Haria, Thinker's Publishing, 2021
The Modernized Anti-Sicilians – Volume 1: Rossolimo Variation, Ravi Haria, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021

Ravi has plus scores against : Matthew Turner, Simon Williams, William Claridge Hansen, Bob Eames, David Eggleston and Arul Gupta to name but a few.

GM John Emms plays IM Ravi Haria in the final round of the 2019 British Championships in Torquay
GM John Emms plays IM Ravi Haria in the final round of the 2019 British Championships in Torquay

With the white pieces Ravi unsurprisingly plays the Moscow and Rossolimo variations against the Sicilian,  the Ruy Lopez and, in recent years, he has take up the Reti/English complex.

As the second player he plays the French Winawer and (refreshingly) the Abrahams-Noteboom Variation of the Semi-Slav.

For your entertainment we have these two  brevities :

and

Ravi has played for University College London. Hendon and Cavendish in the London and other leagues and in 4NCL he started with Kings Head, transferring to Cambridge in 2014 and finally moving in 2016 to Wood Green.

In this game Ravi punishes IM Malcolm Pein who has a bad day at the office :

Ravi Haria, British Championships, 2014, Aberystwyth
Ravi Haria, British Championships, 2014, Aberystwyth

Ravi is Mesutgm on chess.com and lichess

Over the 19th – 23rd August  2021 Ravi played in the Wood Green Invitational round-robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford.

Ravi scored 7.5/10 and secured his second Grandmaster Norm and  a TPR of 2680.

Wood Green Invitational Round-Robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford. August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2021
Wood Green Invitational Round-Robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford. August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2021

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2021 Ravi played in the Northumbrian Masters  GM Tournament at the splendid Marriott MetroCentre, Gateshead winning jointly with Conor Murphy scoring 6.5/9 with a TPR of 2600. This gave Ravi his third and final GM norm.  For the norm to be ratified at the next FIDE Congress Ravi will need to increase his rating to 2500 or beyond.  As of September 2021 Ravi stood at 2465 for standard-play.

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Best Wishes IM Richard Bates (27-i-1979)

IM Richard Bates
IM Richard Bates

Best Birthday wishes to IM Richard Adam Bates born on this day (January 27th) in 1979.

Richard has won the Southern Counties (SCCU) championship in the 2015-16, 2016-17 (with Nick Pert) and 2017-18 seasons.

IM Richard Adam Bates
IM Richard Adam Bates

Richard Bates
Richard Bates
IM Richard Bates
IM Richard Bates
Sheen Mount Under Eleven Chess Champion Richard Bates and Robin Laisby enjoying a game during time out from the Teachers Assurance National Primary Schools Chess Championships. Malaysian Elephant Leyang Leyang and her keeper Duncan McGinnie help them not to forget their chess moves.
Sheen Mount Under Eleven Chess Champion Richard Bates and Robin Laisby enjoying a game during time out from the Teachers Assurance National Primary Schools Chess Championships. Malaysian Elephant Leyang Leyang and her keeper Duncan McGinnie help them not to forget their chess moves.
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Best Wishes IM Adam C Taylor (23-i-1998)

IM Adam C Taylor at the 2019 Keith Richardson Memorial. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
IM Adam C Taylor at the 2019 Keith Richardson Memorial. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.

We send best wishes to IM Adam C Taylor on his birthday.

Adam Christopher Taylor was born on Friday, January 23rd, 1998 in Colchester, Essex. Adam has a sister, Nathalie Leanne Taylor who also plays and studied History & Economics at The University of York. His mother Deborah was always supportive during his chess career.

He attended The Gilberd School, Colchester until 2014 and then Colchester Sixth Form College and currently resides in Colchester.

ECF grading profile for IM Adam C Taylor
ECF grading profile for IM Adam C Taylor

Adam’s first recorded rapidplay event was the Basildon Junior Congress resulting in a published grade of 34D and his first graded standard play event was the 2009 London Junior Under-12 Championships and his first published standard-play grading was 73E.

In that same year at Torquay Adam won the British Under-12 title sharing with Radha Jain.

Adam C Taylor at the 2013 UK Chess Challenge Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Adam C Taylor at the 2013 UK Chess Challenge Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Adam made his first 4NCL appearance in May 2012 for SC Stars followed by Anglian Avengers. In 2018 the lure of the big lights of Division One beckoned and Wood Green became Adam’s team now playing for Wood Green Monarchs in the Online 4NCL championship.

In 2017 Adam scored an impressive 6/9 (and =2nd) when he travelled to Greece to play in the Heraklion 1st Capablanca Memorial.

The Hastings Open in 2018 saw an excellent =7th with 6.5/10.

Adam’s IM title was ratified in June of 2019 in Baku and currently (January 2021) holds a FIDE standard play rating of 2347 and an ECF standard play rating of 2260A. His highest ECF standard play grading was 230A in July 2019. We expect this to be exceeded once OTB play resumes.

Battersea Chess Club celebrated Adams’s title in style with this article written by Leon Watson

FIDE rating profile for IM Adam C Taylor from MegaBase 2020.
FIDE rating profile for IM Adam C Taylor from MegaBase 2020.

Adam has played for Bury St. Edmunds and Manningtree and now Battersea in the London League and Wood Green in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) and has made many appearances in the UKCC Terafinal.

Adam is known as Tayip99 on chess.com and as AdamTaylor2301 on LiChess.com and regularly streams on Twitch and other platforms.

Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

On the 13th of September 2019 Adam became the sole director of MakingGrandmasters Limited which lists on its web site a number of leading young English players engaging in coaching such as Matthew Wadsworth, Ravi Haria and Daniel Fernandez to name but a few.

One of Adam’s more notable students is Guildford Chess Club member Jessica Mellor who, in 2018, won Gold in the Under-11 category of the European Schools Championship.

With the white pieces Adam favours a Reti/English set-up where c4 quickly follows a king side fianchetto. Here is a typical game of Adam’s with the white against a strong opponent :

With the black pieces Adam essays the Berlin Defence and the Sicilian Najdorf as well as the Benko Gambit and Nimzo-Indian Defence.

IM Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
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Happy Birthday IM Paul Littlewood (18-i-1956)

IM Paul Littlewood. Source : British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983.
IM Paul Littlewood. Source : British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983.

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to Paul Littlewood

Paul Edwin Littlewood was born on Wednesday, January 18th, 1956 in Skegness, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire. His parents were John and Jean Littlewood (née) Hadwick. Paul’s chess playing uncle was Norman Littlewood.

John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.

Paul attended Glenburn Comprehensive School in Skelmersdale from 1967 and then read Natural Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1974.

Paul played badminton for Lancashire and Cambridge and, in 1971, won the English Schools Mixed Championship when he was 15 years old.

Paul and family receive a chess lesson from John following John's win in the 1972 Southport Open
Paul and family receive a chess lesson from John following John’s win in the 1972 Southport Open

On leaving University Paul taught science at Southbrook Comprehensive, Daventry. Four years later Paul became a dealer at Phillips & Drew and followed this as an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs. Stays at Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan were followed by a change of direction and since then Paul has been director of various food supply companies retiring in 2014.

Paul is married (3rd November 2006) to (his second wife) Fiona and lives in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

PEL won the ECF President’s Award in 2007 and from the 2008 ECF Yearbook we have the following citation :

“International Master and accomplished bridge player. From British Chess champion (1981) Paul has presided over the 4NCL as chairman during its most successful period. When he became chairman over ten years ago the league consisted of two divisions and 32 teams. The league has now expanded to four divisions and a total of 72 teams. Most of England’s juniors play 4NCL. During this time 4NCL became one of the strongest leagues in Europe, at one time boasting a Division 1 rivalling the Bundesliga in strength in the top matches.

Paul has demonstrated the sound judgement of Solomon when dealing with league disputes and has drawn on his business acumen, honed during a successful career in the City with Goldman Sachs to make 4NCL the financially stable and expanding league it is today.”

Roll of Honour

  • British U18 Champion 1972
  • British U21 Champion 1975
  • British Champion 1981
  • As a junior represented England in Glorney Cup
  • International Master 1980

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy. Rice and Richardson we have this article from Richard W. O’Brien :

“Paul Littlewood was destined to become a strong player from birth. His father John was for some time one of the strongest players in the country and represented England on many occasions. His uncle Norman was for a few years not far behind. Paul, however, has surpassed them both and has become the first in the family to reach IM status. (Ed: JEL was very much worthy of the IM title but insufficient events of the right type held him back).

A. Howard Williams, Martyn J. Corden, Paul E. Littlewood and A. Jonathan Mestel
A. Howard Williams, Martyn J. Corden, Paul E. Littlewood and A. Jonathan Mestel

All three are essentially attacking players. There have been times in recent years when play at the Hastings Premier has become dull. However, Paul one of the English representatives at the last three tournaments, was certainly not to blame. (His game against Brito of Brazil which follows is a striking example of this).”

Coached by his father, Paul became British U18 champion in 1972 and three years later became British U21 champion.

Clearly more interested in an academic career he went up to Cambridge and then followed his father into the teaching profession. Opportunities to play in strong tournaments were thus very limited. These opportunities, however, were grasped in both hands. Three times in thirteen months between August 1978 and August 1979 he obtained an IM norm and thus the title.

Partial crosstable for the Lloyds Bank Open, 1978
Partial crosstable for the Lloyds Bank Open, 1978

The first caused a sensation as it was totally unexpected. He shared first place at Lloyds Bank ahead of several grandmasters including Shamkovich, who was the first grandmaster he ever defeated.

Leonid Shamkovich plays Paul Littlewood during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters. Paul won the game.
Leonid Shamkovich plays Paul Littlewood during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters. Paul won the game.

Eight months later Aaronson Masters was won and then came the final norm, also at Lloyds Bank.

Tournaments abroad were limited although he represented England students. He did play at Kringsja (2nd equal) in 1978 and Borovo where he scored 6.5.13 finishing ahead of 3 GMs.

In 1981 came his finest achievement – winning the British Championship with a massive 9/11.

Partial crosstable from the 1981 British Championship in Morecambe
Partial crosstable from the 1981 British Championship in Morecambe

His father who was also competing in the championship was as proud as could be and deservedly so (he also coached Sheila Jackson who retained her British Ladies Championship that year). His excellent all round play took him to the title and only once during the tournament did he stand worse. His endgame play was so good that CHESS even published an article solely on these endings.

Paul Littlewood and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters
Paul Littlewood and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters

Duties at school in Daventry meant he was, in February 1982, unable to take part in the zonal at Marbella. This followed an excellent Hastings when as British Champion he made a plus score – a rare event indeed.

IM Paul Littlewood during filming for the "Trick of the Mind" series from Derren Brown
IM Paul Littlewood during filming for the “Trick of the Mind” series from Derren Brown

In the summer he gave up teaching and joined Phillips & Drew (stockbrokers). He now (ed : this was in 1983) lives with his (first) wife Sue and family in the wilds of Essex (Billericay).

IM Paul Littlewood, event and photographer unknown
IM Paul Littlewood, event and photographer unknown

Paul gives a simultaneous display in Letchworth.

Chess Tactics, Paul Littlewood, Crowood Chess Library, 1991
Chess Tactics, Paul Littlewood, Crowood Chess Library, 1991

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Happy Birthday FM Jonah Willow (30-xii-2002)

FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Happy Birthday FM Jonah Willow

Jonah B Willow was born in Nottingham on Monday, December 30th 2002. Jacob was the most popular boy’s name in 2002. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem was number one.

Jonah has a chess playing sister, Hambel, who plays for Newcastle-under-Lyme, West Nottingham, Staffordshire CA and Nottinghamshire CA.

Jonah’s first recorded graded standard play tournament was the 2010 Delancey UK Chess Challenge Terafinal and his first recorded rapidplay event was the Nottingham Rapidplay in 2011.

Jonah Willow at the 2012 UKK Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Jonah Willow at the 2012 UKK Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Jonah’s first published standard play grade was 96D in January of 2012 :

Jonah's ECF grading progress
Jonah’s ECF grading progress

Jonah has represented West Nottingham, 4NCL Wood Green, Nottinghamshire CA and Syston (Leicester).

FIDE rating profile for FM Jonah B Willow from Megabase 2020
FIDE rating profile for FM Jonah B Willow from Megabase 2020

It is a little curious as to the reason for the rating profile to halt at the end of 2018 since Jonah has played plenty of FIDE rated games since. Compare the above with :

FIDE rating for FM Jonah Willow from fide.com
FIDE rating for FM Jonah Willow from fide.com

Jonah has plus scores against : Mike Surtees, Peter Svidler (!), Richard Pert, Peter Shaw, Ranesh Ratnesan, Shreyas Royal, Keith Arkell and Ameet Ghasi to name but a few.

With the white pieces Jonah is a committed 1.e4 player but he has scored 83% with 1.Nc3!

Jonah plays the unusual Chekhover Variation (4.Qxd4) in the 2…d6 Sicilian : this is an interesting alternative and is discussed by GM Ben Finegold :

and

GM Varuzhan Akobian :

Jonah plays the Four Knights game with white.

As the second player he plays the Accelerated Dragon and the Modern Benoni.

He has his own Twitch TV channel.

On chess.com he is JonahWillow and his highest chess.com rating has been 2863 on April 5th 2020.

FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
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Best Wishes IM David Eggleston (22-xii-1987)

IM David Eggleston
IM David Eggleston

Best Wishes to IM David Eggleston on his birthday.

David James Eggleston was born on Tuesday, December 22nd 1987 in Sunderland, County Durham to Ian and Janet Eggleston (née Robson). David has a brother, Thomas A, also born in 1987 who plays chess to a high standard (2178 in 2020). Thomas also plays for Durham City and for 4NCL North East England.

There is one game in Megabase between the brothers from round 5 of the Durham Open in 2003 which resulted in a 13 move draw. They shared the 1st prize with 4/5.

David currently resides in Durham and plays for Durham City in the North East League and for Cheddleton in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

David became a FIDE Master in 2007 and an International Master in 2013.

According to ChessBase David’s peak FIDE rating was 2434 aged 26 in December 2013. However, this could easily be surpassed.

He has a plus score against Keith Arkell, James Jackson, Peter Sowray and Chris Ward to name but a few.

IM David James Eggleston
IM David James Eggleston

With the white pieces David is a staunch e4 player playing open Sicilians, the Italian Game and 3.Nc3 versus the French and the Caro-Kann.

As the second player David plays the Najdorf and the Nimzo-Indian Defence.

David has one book, published in July 2014 : Hacking up the King published by Mongoose Press :

Hacking Up The King
Hacking Up The King
IM David James Eggleston
IM David James Eggleston
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Birthday Greetings GM Jonathan Speelman (02-x-1956)

GM Jonathan Speelman at 4NCL in 2014, courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Jonathan Speelman at 4NCL in 2014, courtesy of John Upham Photography

We wish GM Jonathan Speelman all the best on his birthday.

Jonathan Simon Speelman was born on Tuesday, October 2nd, 1956 in Marylebone, London. His mother’s maiden name was Freeman. In March 2002 Jon and Lindsey Thomas were married in Camden, Greater London. They have a non-chess playing son, Lawrence who studied Ancient Languages at The University of Chicago.

Jonathan attended St. Paul’s School, London and then Worcester College, Oxford and read mathematics.

He became an International Master in 1978 (England’s tenth) and a Grandmaster in 1980 (England’s fifth) and achieved a peak FIDE rating of 2645 at the age of 32 in July 1988.

Jon is a Life Member of King’s Head Chess Club and has helped them organise a number of tournaments including the NatWest Young Masters where he has adjudicated the winner of the Best Game Prize.

Currently, Jon plays for Wood Green in Four Nations Chess League and in the London League and maintains an ECF grade of 245.

With the white pieces Jon prefers 1.Nf3 and against 1…Nf6 to follow with c4 and d4. Interestingly, if black plays 1…d5 then Jon plays an early king-side fianchetto.

As the second player Jon prefers the Smyslov Caro-Kann, the Nimzo-Indian and Queen’s Indian defences.

His record against contemporary players is impressive :

Nigel Short : +5
Murray Chandler : +4
Jonathan Mestel : +4
John Nunn : +3
James Plaskett : +4
Mark Hebden : +7
Tony Miles : +1
Tony Kosten : +3
Daniel King : +2

Jon Speelman and Nigel Short at the start of their 1989 Candidates match. Jon won 3.5 - 1.5
Jon Speelman and Nigel Short at the start of their 1989 Candidates match. Jon won 3.5 – 1.5

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

“Having been asked to contribute an article on myself to this book I have decided to concentrate almost exclusively on my ‘relationship with chess’, but first quickly summarize my life.

JS
JS

Born on 2nd October 1956 I went to a ‘Nursery School’ whose name I forget. Then to Arnold House School followed by St. Paul’s School. I had a ‘Year off’ from January to October, 1976, when I went up to Worcester College, Oxford, where I studied mathematics. In 1977 I left Oxford with a 2nd degree. Since then I have been a professional chess player.

I was taught chess at the age of 6 by my cousin on Boxing Day, 1962. Then as now, I was an inquisitive person and the idea of a ‘complicated and difficult game’ interested me. Sadly my first game of chess ended in checkmate in four moves; but I persevered and soon became more competent.

JS at the London based Philips & Drew Kings tournament
JS at the London based Philips & Drew Kings tournament

I have always seen life to some in terms of barriers. There are things which one can do easily and which one finds difficult or almost impossible. For any given task the transition from one state to the other is not as smooth. One builds up energy and finally is able to succeed for the first time. After that the task becomes successively easier: Partly because one is aware that one can succeed.

Jonathan Speelman without glasses
Jonathan Speelman without glasses

ln order to illustrate my chess career to date, I shall therefore pick out examples of barriers which I managed to break through.

Jonathan was an early follower of fashion
Jonathan was an early follower of fashion

Until a few Years ago there were few titled players in Great Britain. But recently, thanks largely to a change of emphasis in organisation, several players have broken through to obtain international titles. This is not only because British players have become stronger – which they undoubtedly have – but also because they have received opportunities which were previously denied them.

JS at the London Robert Silk Fellowship invitational tournament
JS at the London Robert Silk Fellowship invitational tournament

I first started seriously to contemplate becoming an international master in 1977. Previously, I had of course aspired to this but without really investigating the mechanics of obtaining norms. In August, 1977 England sent a team to the World Student Team Championships in Mexico City. We came third: a year later we were to win the event (though on that occasion it was a World Under 26 Team Championship). On our return there was an invitation tournament in London: the ‘Lloyds Bank Silver Jubilee’. Although I was rather tired after Mexico I decided to play and to my surprise, I obtained an IM norm with a round to spare. It all seemed rather easy. I drew with six strong players including GM Torre and four IM’s and beat three weaker ones.

Grandmaster Uses PressTel Chessbox to Play Long Distance Chess. Jonathan Speelman the UK Grandmaster is pictured here deciding his next move in a computer chess game against five simultaneous opponents. Players exchanged moves online via the ChessBox club on PressTel, BTs videotex service.
Grandmaster Uses PressTel Chessbox to Play Long Distance Chess. Jonathan Speelman the UK Grandmaster is pictured here deciding his next move in a computer chess game against five simultaneous opponents. Players exchanged moves online via the ChessBox club on PressTel, BTs videotex service.

In December, 1977 I played for the first time in the Annual Grandmaster Tournament at Hastings. I was very pleased to ‘shut up shop’, abandoning any pretensions to an exciting style to score one win, one loss and – wait for it – twelve draws; but 7/14 was sufficient for another international master norm.

These two events left me with twenty three games of norm, one less than the required minimum. Early in 1978 I played in a tournament in London but failed to get my final leg. It was in April that year that I had my next chance at the famous Lone Pine Tournament in California. I have already stressed the importance of barriers. It was in round one of the Lone Pine tournament that I broke through another important one – that of beating a grandmaster.

JS was a frequent giver of simultaneous displays
JS was a frequent giver of simultaneous displays

Nowadays (and here I hear myself sounding like an old man!) the strongest young players (under twenty-six) beat international masters quite regularly and indeed grandmasters from time to time. ‘In my day’ this was not so much the case. Titled foreign players could still come over to pillage weekend tournaments; and succeed much of the time! When one of them lost to homegrown talent it was news.

IM Jonathan Speelman vs IM Simon Webb at the 1978 British Championships in Ayr, Courtesy of John Upham
IM Jonathan Speelman vs IM Simon Webb at the 1978 British Championships in Ayr, Courtesy of John Upham

I first started to play regularly against grandmasters in my first Hastings tournament, which I mentioned previously. Of course, I had played grandmasters before, but at Hastings seven of the fourteen games were against them. I scored there six draws and a loss to the tournament winner, Dzindzihashvili.

Julian Hodgson and Jonathan Speelman prepare to play each other at their own home via CEEEFAX. This was organised by Peter Andrews of BBC Chess Club and was the first match of its kind.
Julian Hodgson and Jonathan Speelman prepare to play each other at their own home via CEEEFAX. This was organised by Peter Andrews of BBC Chess Club and was the first match of its kind.

In round one of Lone pine I was White against Bent Larsen of Denmark. Given that one is going to beat a strong grandmaster (l hadn’t even beaten a weak one) then White against Larsen is quite a good chance. Although he is an extremely strong player, Larsen loses quite a lot of games to much weaker opponents and wins an enormous number against them as well, with not many draws. I was fortunate in obtaining a nice position from the opening and won a good game. That is one of the games I have chosen.

JS receives one of many awards
JS receives one of many awards

After beating Larsen the rest of the tournament was rather an anti-climax for me. I drew some games, then lost in successive rounds to Browne and Biyiasas. Needing a win to reach fifty per cent the chance of my final norm, I clawed my way to victory in a dreadful game against a young American P. Whitehead. Two short draws in the final two rounds brought me the title.

At the Praxis British Zonal in February 1987 here at the roman baths. Murray Chandler, Jonathan Speelman, and Jonathan Mestel
At the Praxis British Zonal in February 1987 here at the roman baths. Murray Chandler, Jonathan Speelman, and Jonathan Mestel

Some years ago the British Championship really was the Championship of Britain. But in the early seventies there was a decline as several of the strongest players did not enter. In the last two years the decline has been halted and then reversed by the sponsorship of stockbrokers Grievson Grant. In 1979 two of our four Grandmasters, Miles and Nunn, competed in the British Championship at Chester and there were no fewer than six International Masters; indeed Nigel Short succeeded in obtaining his first IM norm there.

JS plays Alexander Khalifman during the SWIFT World Cup in Reykjavik, 1991. The game was drawn
JS plays Alexander Khalifman during the SWIFT World Cup in Reykjavik, 1991. The game was drawn

I first competed in the British Championship at Brighton in 1972. After a good start, beating Michael Basman in the first round and drawing with Craig Pritchett in the second, I lost to Haygarth in round three. Thereafter, I found it incredibly difficult to win games. My old British Chess Magazine reminds me that I succeeded in winning in round nine, but that was the only one after round one. I finished with 4.5/11.

JS, Jana Bellin and Nigel Short in a publicity shoot outside Simpsons in the Strand
JS, Jana Bellin and Nigel Short in a publicity shoot outside Simpsons in the Strand

A year later at Eastbourne I was still finding it hard to win games. Again I finished with 4.5/11. By Clacton, 1974 I had improved. A loss in the last round to the eventual winner Botterill left me a point behind the seven (!) who had to play off for the title.

I competed at Morecambe, 1975 and Portsmouth, 1976, missing only Brighton, 1977 when the students team was in Mexico. By Ayr, 1978 I was probably one of the favourites along with Jonathan Mestel, who ran away with the tournament in Portsmouth,
1976, George Botterill, the defending champion, and some others.

Jonathan shows off his all seeing four eyes
Jonathan shows off his all seeing four eyes

In fact I won at Ayr. I played quite well throughout. ln the last round half a point ahead of Mestel I played a quick draw with Webb but was lucky when Mestel could only draw with Clarke. Of course winning the British was a big breakthrough for me. But I feel that the most important psychological change came in 1974 when I started to discover that it is possible to win games in the British Championship.

Jonathan Simon Speelman (02-x-1956) as imagined by Roger Morgan, 1982
Jonathan Simon Speelman (02-x-1956) as imagined by Roger Morgan, 1982

Since late 1978 I have made no dramatic breakthrough but have, I believe, almost imperceptibly made the change from a ‘medium’ to a ‘strong’ international master.

Jonathan Speelman telephones good news
Jonathan Speelman telephones good news

I’ve selected three games to go with this article. The one with Larsen I’ve already mentioned. Mihaljcisin-Speelman I like as a game in which I played very actively as Black.

The game against Biyiasis is a good ‘rough and tumble’ not free from errors of course – but wouldn’t that be boring?

To find out more about JSs chess career we suggest you read his autobiography :

Speelman, Jon (1997). Jon Speelman's Best Games. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-6477-1.
Speelman, Jon (1997). Jon Speelman’s Best Games. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-6477-1.

which contains many heavily annotated games.

 

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

“British Champion in 1978, Speelman played at Mexico City later that year in the English team that won (ahead of the USSR) the world’s first youth teams (under-26) championship.

(from l-r) Jonathan Kinlay, Shaun Taulbut, Jonathan Speelman, David Goodman and Jonathan Mestel accepting 1st prize at the 1978 World U26 Student Olympiad in Mexico City
(from l-r) Jonathan Kinlay, Shaun Taulbut, Jonathan Speelman, David Goodman and Jonathan Mestel accepting 1st prize at the 1978 World U26 Student Olympiad in Mexico City

Two good performances in 1980, as score of +5=5-3 to share fourth place in the category 13 London tournament and a second place (+6=7) at Maribor, brought him the title of International Grandmaster (1980). His subsequent achievements include : Dortmund 1981, first (+5=6) equal with Ftacnik and Kuzmin; Hastings 1981-2, second equal with Smyslov after Kupreichik; and London 1982, category 14, +2=10-1 to share fourth place. An excellent analyst, Speelman has written several books, among them Best Chess Games 1970-1980 (1982).”

GM Jonathan Speelman
GM Jonathan Speelman

From Wikipedia :
A winner of the British Chess Championship in 1978, 1985 and 1986, Speelman has been a regular member of the English team for the Chess Olympiad, an international biennial chess tournament organised by FIDE, the World Chess Federation.

In 1989, he beat Kasparov in a televised speed tournament, and then went on to win the event.

In the April 2007 FIDE list, Speelman had an Elo rating of 2518, making him England’s twelfth-highest-rated active player.

He qualified for two Candidates Tournaments:

In the 1989–1990 cycle, Speelman qualified by placing third in the 1987 interzonal tournament held in Subotica, Yugoslavia. After beating Yasser Seirawan in his first round 4–1, and Nigel Short in the second round 3½–1½, he lost to Jan Timman at the semi-final stage 4½–3½.
In the following 1990–93 championship cycle, he lost 5½–4½ in the first round to Short, the eventual challenger for Garry Kasparov’s crown.
Speelman’s highest ranking in the FIDE Elo rating list was fourth in the world, in January 1989.

Jonathan Speelman in happy mood
Jonathan Speelman in happy mood

Writing
He has written a number of books on chess, including several on the endgame, among them Analysing the Endgame (1981), Endgame Preparation (1981) and Batsford Chess Endings (co-author, 1993).

Among his other books are Best Games 1970–1980 (1982), an analysis of nearly fifty of the best games by top players from that decade, and Jon Speelman’s Best Games (1997). Today he is primarily a chess journalist and commentator, being the chess correspondent for The Observer and The Independent and sometimes providing commentary for games on the Internet Chess Club.

Jonathan Speelman and Daniel King share headphones at the 2013 FIDE Candidates event in London
Jonathan Speelman and Daniel King share headphones at the 2013 FIDE Candidates event in London
Tilburg 1978, Tony Miles & Jonathan Speelman, Master Chess Publications, 1978
Tilburg 1978, Tony Miles & Jonathan Speelman, Master Chess Publications, 1978
Riga Interzonal 1979, AJ Miles & J Speelman, Batsford, 1979, ISBN 0 7134 3429 5
Riga Interzonal 1979, AJ Miles & J Speelman, Batsford, 1979, ISBN 0 7134 3429 5

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Analysing the Endgame. Batsford (London, England). 142 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-1909-2.

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Analysing the Endgame. Batsford (London, England). 142 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-1909-2.
Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Analysing the Endgame. Batsford (London, England). 142 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-1909-2.

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Endgame Preparation. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 177 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4000-3.

Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Endgame Preparation. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 177 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4000-3.
Speelman, Jonathan (1981). Endgame Preparation. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 177 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4000-3.

Speelman, Jon (1982). Best Chess Games, 1970-80. Allen & Unwin (London, England; Boston, Massachusetts). 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-04-794015-6.

Speelman, Jon (1982). Best Chess Games, 1970-80. Allen & Unwin (London, England; Boston, Massachusetts). 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-04-794015-6.
Speelman, Jon (1982). Best Chess Games, 1970-80. Allen & Unwin (London, England; Boston, Massachusetts). 328 pages. ISBN 978-0-04-794015-6.

Speelman, Jon; Livshits, August (1988). Test Your Endgame Ability. BT Batsford (London, England). 201 pages. ISBN 0-7134-5567-5

Speelman, Jon; Livshits, August (1988). Test Your Endgame Ability. BT Batsford (London, England). 201 pages. ISBN 0-7134-5567-5
Speelman, Jon; Livshits, August (1988). Test Your Endgame Ability. BT Batsford (London, England). 201 pages. ISBN 0-7134-5567-5

Speelman, Jon (1992). New Ideas in the Caro-Kann Defence. BT Batsford (London, England). 155 pages. ISBN 0-7134-6915-3.

Speelman, Jon (1992). New Ideas in the Caro-Kann Defence. BT Batsford (London, England). 155 pages. ISBN 0-7134-6915-3.
Speelman, Jon (1992). New Ideas in the Caro-Kann Defence. BT Batsford (London, England). 155 pages. ISBN 0-7134-6915-3.

Speelman, Jonathan; Tisdall, Jon; Wade, Bob. (1993). Batsford Chess Endings. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 448 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4420-9.

Speelman, Jonathan; Tisdall, Jon; Wade, Bob. (1993). Batsford Chess Endings. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 448 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4420-9.
Speelman, Jonathan; Tisdall, Jon; Wade, Bob. (1993). Batsford Chess Endings. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 448 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-4420-9.

Speelman, Jon (1997). Jon Speelman’s Best Games. B.T. Batsford (London, England). 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-7134-6477-1.

Modern Defence. Everyman, 2000
Modern Defence. Everyman, 2000

Speelman, Jon (2008). Jon Speelman’s Chess Puzzle Book. Gambit Publications Ltd. 143 pages. ISBN 978-1-904600-96-1.

Speelman, Jon (2008). Jon Speelman's Chess Puzzle Book. Gambit Publications Ltd. 143 pages. ISBN 978-1-904600-96-1.
Speelman, Jon (2008). Jon Speelman’s Chess Puzzle Book. Gambit Publications Ltd. 143 pages. ISBN 978-1-904600-96-1.
Jonathan Speelman
Jonathan Speelman
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