Category Archives: Biographies

Remembering Julius du Mont (15-xii-1881 07-iv-1956)

Gordon Thomas Crown with Julius Du Mont observing
Gordon Thomas Crown with Julius Du Mont observing

BCN Remembers Julius du Mont (15-xii-1881 07-iv-1956)

Here is his Wikipedia entry

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXVI, Number 5, 1956 we have this obituary written by DJ Morgan :

In our February issue we wrote an appreciation of one of the distinguished past editors of this magazine, R. C. Griffith. He had been followed in the chair in 1938 by our present Games’ Editor, and when he, in turn, was called in 1940 to sterner duties, he was succeeded by Julius du Mont. During the war years, and through the difficult post-war period, till 1949, he held the reins. As we wrote on another occasion, “His had been difficult years: the “B.C.M.” had survived when so much else had succumbed during the stress and strain of total war.” lt is with regret that we now record his death on April 7th, in a Hastings nursing home, at the age of seventy-four, after a protracted illness.

du Mont was born in Paris-a little-known fact which he himself once disclosed to us-on December 15th, 1881. lt was there also that he received his education. His early bent and ambitions were musical. The tradition that chess and music have a close relationship may be traced as far back, at least, as Philidor’s great eminence in both. du Mont was truly in the line of such dual personalities. He pursued his musical studies at the Frankfort-on-Main Conservatoire and at Heidelberg, and soon became established as a concert pianist.’ Later he achieved great success as a music teacher, and among his pupils was the well-known concert pianist, Edna lles. The French and German background also explains his facility as a linguist.

He came to England as a young man and brought with him a considerable talent for chess. Settling in London, he rapidly improved as a player, and successes followed. At the Kentish Congress, Tunbridge Wells, 1912, he came equal second and third. He was Champion of the strong Hampstead Club for two years, and Middlesex Champion in 1913 and 1915. He quickly mastered our language and showed this during the First World War by writing a manual on the Lewis gun. After the war, music kept its place in his life, but more and more chess became his main activity. He forsook playing and turned to journalism and authorship, and his output of books is evidence of his gifts and industry. Titles come readily to mind: Chess Openings lllustrated, Centre Counter Defence (1919) and Centre and Danish Gambit (1920); The Elements of Chess (1925) ; Ihe Basis of Combination in Chess (1938) ; 200 Miniature Games (1941); More Miniature Games (1953); (with Dr. Tartakower) 500 Master aomes of Chess, two volumes (1952), to which was added a third volume in 1954, 100 Master Games of Chess. He also translated Edward Lasker’s Chess Strategy, and Alekhine’s two volumes of My Best Games of Chess (the first with M. E.Goldstein).

The wealth of material ready to hand combined with a foreigner’s gift of lucid expression in “the other tongue” made his books very popular. To the great value and importance of these books, a whole generation of chess-players will readily testify.

For some years, du Mont was chess editor of The Field and of The Manchester Guardian. During the last war he organized chess championships for the Armed Services. We pay tribute to his services to the game, to his many kindnesses and friendships to its players, and, in particular, to his devotion to this magazine.-D. J. M.

D. C., who enjoyed a long friendship with our late Editor, writes to us as follows-

By the death of J. du Mont, the chess world has lost an eminent and popular personality. That this popularity was well deserved will be apparent even to those
who knew him only slightly.

Essentially kind, he performed many generous acts, and having, by his own efforts, become the best-known British writer on chess, he not only filled this position with modesty and dignity, but was liberal in the help he gave to those starting on the road he had so successfully followed.

In the tournament room-where his presence was always welcome-he was invariably quiet and courteous, and although gifted with a fine wit, he never used it
unkindly. He *as an excellent companion, and players at many congresses will recall the happy times they spent in their visits to him at all hours of the evening. lt is sad tothink that these gatherings have now irrevocably reached their end: to quote A. E. Housman’s beautiful lines-

They come and were and ore not
And come no more anew.

But as long as a literature of chess remains, the name of Julius du Mont will not be forgotten. His many friends, however, have no need of his writings in order to keep alive their memory of him.

Happy Birthday GM Murray Graham Chandler MNZM (04-iv-1960)

GM Murray Chandler
GM Murray Chandler

Happy Birthday GM Murray Graham Chandler MNZM (04-iv-1960)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“International Grandmaster (1983), a New Zealander who settled in England at the age of 15. subsequently playing for his adopted country in the Lucerne Olympiad, 1982. He scored +4=6 to share first prize at New York 1980, came second (+5=5 — 1) equal with Hort at Dortmund 1983, and scored +5 = 6 (a GM norm) to share first prize at Amsterdam 1983, a Swiss systemtournament. Chandler has edited the magazine Tournament Chess since its inception in 1982.”

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Murray Chandler, Ray Keene and Miguel Najdorf
Murray Chandler, Ray Keene and Miguel Najdorf

From Chessgames.com :

“Murray Graham Chandler was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He was awarded the IM title in 1977 and the GM title in 1982. He was joint New Zealand Champion in 1975-76 (shared with Lev Isaakovich Aptekar and Ortvin Sarapu) and joint Commonwealth Champion in 1984. His best tournament results were 2nds at London 1984, London 1986 and Amsterdam 1987 and he has played both for New Zealand (1976-1980) and England (1982-86) in the Olympiads. He edited Tournament Chess for a time from 1981 onwards and as well as writing he became the managing director of Gambit Publications.

He was the organizer and winner of a large tournament, the Queenstown Classic in New Zealand in January 2006 and this tournament also incorporated the 113th New Zealand Championship making Chandler the New Zealand Champion for the second time. He won his third New Zealand title at the 115th New Zealand Championship (2008) which was held in Auckland where he currently resides.”

Murray Graham Chanler
Murray Graham Chandler

Murray Graham Chandler
Murray Graham Chandler

Murray Graham Chandler
Murray Graham Chandler
The English Chess Explosion
The English Chess Explosion
Sicilian 2.c3
Sicilian 2.c3
The Complete c3 Sicilian
The Complete c3 Sicilian
Tournament Chess
Tournament Chess
How to Beat Your Dad at Chess
How to Beat Your Dad at Chess
Chess Tactics for Kids
Chess Tactics for Kids
Chess for Children
Chess for Children
Chess Puzzles for Kids
Chess Puzzles for Kids

Remembering Baruch Harold Wood MSc OBE (13-vii-1909 – 4-iv-1989)

Baruch Harold Wood
Baruch Harold Wood

We remember Baruch Harold Wood MSc OBE (13-vii-1909 – 4-iv-1989)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

“A well known British player, editor of Chess (starting 1935) and chess correspondent of The Daily Telegraph and Illustrated London News. A FIDE judge, he has founded and conducted 21 annual chess festivals, notably at Whitby, Eastbourne and Southport.

Winner of a number of small and semi-international tournaments : Baarn 1947, Paignton 1954, Whitby 1963, Thorshavn 1967, and Jersey 1975.

Played for the BCF in the International Team Tournament at Buenos Aires 1939. His best tournament result was probably his equal second in the British Championship at London 1948.

Among his books are : Easy Guide to Chess, Sutton Coldfield 1942 et seq; World Championship Candidates Tournament 1953, Sutton Coldfield 1954. ”

World Championship Candidates Tournament 1953
World Championship Candidates Tournament 1953

From Wikipedia :

Baruch Harold Wood MSc OBE (13 July 1909 – 4 April 1989), generally known as B. H. Wood, was an English chess player, editor and author. He was born in Sheffield, England.

Easy Guide to Chess
Easy Guide to Chess

From Wikipedia :

Between 1938 and 1957, Wood won the championship of Warwickshire eight times. In 1939 he represented England at the Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires.[1][2] He won the tournaments at Baarn (1947), Paignton (1954), Whitby (1963), Tórshavn (1967) and Jersey (1975).[3] He tied for 4th–6th, scoring 5 points out of 9 games, at the 1948–49 Hastings Christmas Chess Congress, 1.5 points behind winner Nicolas Rossolimo.[4] In 1948, he tied for second place at the British Chess Championship held in London.[3] He won the British correspondence chess championship in 1944–45.[5]

Everybody Loves Wood
Everybody Loves Wood

From Wikipedia :

In 1935, Wood founded the magazine CHESS, which became one of the two leading chess magazines in Great Britain.[6] He edited it until 1988, when it was taken over by Pergamon Press. Wood was the chess correspondent for the Daily Telegraph and The Illustrated London News.[3] From 1948 to February 1967, he was responsible for the chess column of the Birmingham Daily Post. He also wrote a popular and often reprinted book Easy Guide to Chess (Sutton Coldfield 1942),[3] described by Grandmaster Nigel Davies as “one of the best beginners books on the market”.[7] His other books include World Championship Candidates Tournament 1953 (Sutton Coldfield 1954)[3] and 100 Victorian Chess Problems (1972).

BH Wood
BH Wood

From Wikipedia :

From 1946 to 1951 he was a president of the ICCA, a forerunner organization of the International Correspondence Chess Federation. Wood was a FIDE Judge,[3] an international chess arbiter, and the joint founder of the Sutton Coldfield Chess Club. Wood represented England when it joined FIDE, the world chess federation. He was longtime President of the British Schools Chess Association and also of the British Universities Chess Association.

Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women's world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden
Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women’s world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden

From Wikipedia :

Wood’s daughter Margaret (Peggy) Clarke won the British Girls’ Championship in 1952, 1955, and 1956, and was the joint British Ladies’ Champion in 1966.[8] Her husband Peter Clarke was a full-time chess player and writer, who finished second in the British Chess Championship five times, represented England in the Chess Olympiads seven times, wrote five chess books, and was the Games Editor of the British Chess Magazine.[9] Wood’s sons Christopher, Frank and Philip are also strong chess players.

BH Wood & Peggy Clarke
BH Wood & Peggy Clarke

He won the BCF President’s Award in 1983.

One Hundred Victorian Chess Problems
One Hundred Victorian Chess Problems
Easy Guide to Chess
Easy Guide to Chess
History of Chess
History of Chess
Popular Card Games : How to Play and WIn
Popular Card Games : How to Play and WIn

Happy Birthday IM Geoffrey W Lawton (04-iv-1960)

IM Geoffrey W Lawton, at 4NCL, photograph by John Saunders
IM Geoffrey W Lawton, at 4NCL, photograph by John Saunders

Happy Birthday IM Geoffrey W Lawton (04-iv-1960)

Geoff became an International Master in 1984. His peak rating according to Felice was 2407 in July 2003 at the age of 43.

He won the Maidenhead Open in 1995 with 5/5 and TPR of 2685.

Here are his games from chessgames.com

He has plus scores with the following notable players : Stuart Conquest, Mark Condie, John Nicholson, Jon Cox, Colin McNab, Julian Hodgon, Paul Littlewood, David Cummins and Vaidyanathan Ravikumar amongst others.

It's Only Me, edited by Geoff Lawton
It’s Only Me, edited by Geoff Lawton

Happy Birthday IM Miroslav Houska (02-iv-1978)

Miroslav Houska
Miroslav Houska

Happy Birthday IM Miroslav Houska (02-iv-1978)

Miroslav Houska
Miroslav Houska

Miroslav gained his International Master title in 1998 and his peak rating according to Felice was 2385 in January of 1998, aged 20.

Here are his games on chessgames.com

IM Miroslav Houska, photograph by Jovan Petronic
IM Miroslav Houska, photograph by Jovan Petronic
IM Miroslav Houska, photograph by Cathy Rogers
IM Miroslav Houska, photograph by Cathy Rogers

Remembering Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander (13-XI-1879, 01-IV-1965)

Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander, photograph located by Richard James from Ancestry.co.uk
Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander, photograph located by Richard James from Ancestry.co.uk

Remembering Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander (13-XI-1879, 01-IV-1965)

Interesting article from Woodseats Library

Here is an article from the Chess Composers Blog

He was seven times champion of Battersea Chess Club

The Surrey County Chess Association has The Alexander Trophy as one of its main awards : is it awarded for the top knockout competition.

Here is some history of the trophy from Surbiton Chess Club

Here are a handful of his games from chessgames.com and here is what chessgames.com has to say about FFLA :

“Frederick Forrest Lawrie Alexander played in the 1932 British Championship, but with little success. At age 70, playing at the 1950 Southsea tournament, he shocked the pundits by defeating Efim Bogoljubov and Harry Golombek.”

Here is more detail and photographs of the Alexander Cup from Britbase / John Saunders

Remembering Comins Mansfield MBE (14-vi-1896 28-iii-1984)

Comins Mansfield MBE
Comins Mansfield MBE

Remembering Comins Mansfield MBE (14-vi-1896 28-iii-1984)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Grandmaster of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (1972), International Master of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (1959), International Judge of the FIDE for Chess Compositions (1957). President of the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions from 1963 to 1971. President of the British Chess Problem Society from 1949 to 1951.

Born at Witheridge in North Devon on 14th June 1896. He has composed about 1,000 problems, nearly all of them two-movers, since 1911. He is regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time. His oustanding ability was recognised early when A Genius of the Two-Mover in the A.C. White Christmas series of books was published in 1936. He is the author of Adventures in Composition (1944) and co-author with the late Brian Harley of The Modern Two-Move Problem. From 1926-1932 he was Problem Editor of The Bristol Times and Mirror, and he is at present Problem Editor of The Sunday Telegraph His feature “Selected with Comments” has been a permanent feature of The Problemist. A strong player, Mansfield won the Gloucestershire Championship from 1927 to 1934. He has a recorded win over Sir George Thomas, a late British Champion and International Master.

Mansfield made a life-times career with the tobacco firm of W.D. & H.O. Wills. He is a dedicated family man with three children.

C. Mansfield, 1st Prize, Hampshire Post, 1919

White to play and mate in two moves (Solution at the foot of this article)

Comins Mansfield MBE
Comins Mansfield MBE

Here is an excellent biography from Chess Devon

Comins Mansfield MBE
Comins Mansfield MBE

Here is his Wikipedia entry

101 Chess Puzzles
101 Chess Puzzles

Here is a biography fro Keverel Chess

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“English two-mover composer widely regarded in his time as the greatest in this field. During the life of the GOOD COMPANION CHESS PROBLEM CLUB (1913—24) he was one of the pioneers who gave new life to the two-mover. The ideas then introduced have since become traditional, and Mansfield has adhered to them, continuing to gain successes although not always following the latest trend. In 1942 he wrote Adventures in Composition, an excellent guide to the art of composing. In 1957 he was awarded the title of International Judge of Chess Compositions; in 1963 he accepted and held for eight years the presidency of the FIDE Commission for Chess Compositions; in 1972 he was one of the first four to he awarded the title of InternationalGrandmaster for Chess Compositions. (See java theme; PIN-MATE,)

A. C. White, A Genius of the Two-mover (1936) contains 113 problems by Mansfield; B. P. Barnes, Comins Mansfield MBE: Chess Problems of a Grandmaster (1976) contains 200 problems. ”

Chessboard Delights
Chessboard Delights

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

“”

i.e. no entry ! HGs encyclopedia contains zero mentions of Comins Mansfield whatsoever and this is interpreted as a snub with the reason being unknown.

A Genius of the Two Mover
A Genius of the Two Mover

Here is the entry for CM from the BCPS web site

Adventures in Composition
Adventures in Composition

Here are his games from chessgames.com

America Salutes Comins Manfield MBE
America Salutes Comins Manfield MBE

Solution to Two-Mover above : 1. Qf5 !

Happy Birthday GM Christopher Geoffrey Ward (26-iii-1968)

GM Chris Ward
GM Chris Ward

Happy Birthday GM Christopher Geoffrey Ward (26-iii-1968)

Here is his Wikipedia entry

GM Chris Ward
GM Chris Ward

From Chessgames.com :

“Grandmaster and British Chess Champion in 1996. He is the author of several chess books, among them Winning With the Sicilian Dragon 2 (2001), Winning with the Dragon (2003) and The Controversial Samisch King’s Indian (2004).”

Chris plays Jiang Chuan Ye at the 1997 England - China match
Chris plays Jiang Chuan Ye at the 1997 England – China match

Here are his games

Chris Ward commentating during the Hastings Congress
Chris Ward commentating during the Hastings Congress

Chris earned his IM title in 1990 and his GM title in 1996. According to Chessbase and Felice his peak rating was 2531 in July 2003 when he was 35.

Chris is President of the English Primary Schools Chess Association (EPSCA), Chris is the Chief Coach of the Kent Junior Chess Association (KJCA). Chris plays for KJCA Kings in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

Chris with the British Championship Trophy from 1996 (Nottingham)
Chris with the British Championship Trophy from 1996 (Nottingham)

“Not sure about best, but 18.Qxf8+ against Summerscale en route to winning the 1996 British Championship will be forever ingrained in my mind. Sorry, Aaron!”
– GM Chris Ward (when asked for his best move)

Source: Chess Monthly 2017 December

GM Chris Ward
GM Chris Ward
Endgame Play
Endgame Play
 The Queen's Gambit Accepted
The Queen’s Gambit Accepted
The Genius of Paul Morphy
The Genius of Paul Morphy
Improve your Opening Play
Improve your Opening Play
Winning With the Sicilian Dragon 2
Winning With the Sicilian Dragon 2
Starting Out: The Nimzo-Indian
Starting Out: The Nimzo-Indian
It's Your Move: Improvers
It’s Your Move: Improvers
Unusual Queen's Gambit Declined
Unusual Queen’s Gambit Declined
Winning with the Dragon
Winning with the Dragon
It's Your Move: Tough Puzzles
It’s Your Move: Tough Puzzles
Starting Out: Rook Endgames
Starting Out: Rook Endgames
The Controversial Samisch King's Indian
The Controversial Samisch King’s Indian
Play the Queen's Gambit
Play the Queen’s Gambit
Starting Out: Chess Tactics and Checkmates
Starting Out: Chess Tactics and Checkmates

Remembering Percy Francis Blake (6-xii-1873 26-iii-1936)

Percy Francis Blake
Percy Francis Blake

Remembering Percy Francis Blake (6-xii-1873 26-iii-1936)

From his Italian Wikipedia entry :

“Percy Francis Blake ( Manchester , December 6, 1873 – Grappenhall , March 20, 1936 ) was a British chess player and chess composer , among the best English problem players of the period 1900 – 1936 .

He composed over 500 problems, most in two and three moves, of which around 160 were awarded (45 first prizes and 40 second prizes). [1]

He was famous for “quiet” keys and continuations, which made his problems very difficult to solve.

He was also a good player and table. In 1890 he won the Manchester club championship and later several local tournaments. In 1894 he won a beauty prize offered by the Manchester Weekly Times . From 1898 to 1912 he was part of the Lancashire team in many team matches between that county and Yorkshire . In 1911 he won the Lancashire championship. [2]”

and from the rather excellent Yorkshire Chess History we have

The following photograph was kindly supplied by Michael McDowell of the British Chess Problem Society :

Percy Francis Blake
Percy Francis Blake
Percy Francis Blake drawn  by Orrett from Manchester Central Library. Known as an example of a "Bristol Board". Supplied by Michael McDowell
Percy Francis Blake drawn by Orrett from Manchester Central Library. Known as an example of a “Bristol Board”. Supplied by Michael McDowell

James Mason in America : The Early Chess Career, 1867-1878

James Mason in America
James Mason in America

James Mason in America : The Early Chess Career, 1867-1878 : Joost van Winsen

Joost van Winsen
Joost van Winsen

Journalist Joost van Winsen lives in the Netherlands. He has previously written about American chess history of the Nineteenth century, and has contributed articles to ChessCafe.com and ChessArcheology.com.

James Mason was one of the mystery men of chess. We don’t even know for certain what his real name was. We know he was born in Kilkenny, Ireland in 1849, his family emigrated to the United States in 1861, and, somewhere round about the end of 1867, he turned up playing chess in New York.

Over the next decade he established himself as one of the strongest players in his adopted country before moving to England, where he died in 1905. His best result was at Vienna 1882, where he finished 3rd behind Steinitz and Zukertort in a field including most of the world’s strongest players, but, at least in part because of a fondness for drink, he never quite fulfilled his promise. In the 1890s he wrote several books, notably The Principles of Chess and The Art of Chess.

This book, a paperback reprint of a 2011 hardback, covers Mason’s early career.

The first four chapters provide a chronological account of Mason’s life in chess, enhanced with contemporary pen and ink drawings of many of his opponents and acquaintances.  We then have a chapter about his writings and another about his style of play.

The second part of the book gives details of his match and tournament results, and, by the third part, we reach his games, about 200 of them (some sort of game numbering system would have been helpful). While Mason’s later style could sometimes be turgid, in his American years he favoured gambit play with the white pieces. Although the standard of play was, by today’s standards, not very high, there’s still plenty of entertainment value. His regular opponents included the British master Henry Bird, who was living in the United States at the time, along with many of the leading New York players of that era.

Van Winsen took the, perhaps controversial, decision only to use contemporary annotations rather than incorporate modern computer analysis. As he explained, “The author preferred the antique human judgment to the modern ‘truth’ of computer software.” The opening assessments make amusing reading. In 1873, for example, Orestes P Brownson considered 3. Nc3 in the French Defence a mistake, recommending 3. exd5 instead. In 1876, Zukertort, quoting Max Lange, criticized the Winawer variation of the French, preferring 3… Nf3 (sic: a rare notation error) because White is better after 3… Bb4 4. exd5.

How strong was Mason at this time? Jeff Sonas and Rod Edwards disagree by about 200 points: Sonas has him at 2700 strength and one of the best in the world, while Edwards has him some way down the list at 2500 strength. My money’s on Edwards, who includes casual as well as formal games in his calculations. Buy the book, play through the games yourself and see what you think.

The book then concludes with some appendices covering a variety of topics, a list of sources and six indexes.

As is to be expected with books from this publisher, James Mason in America is well researched, well written, well illustrated and well produced. I might have preferred it if the games and tournament results were included in the narrative rather than in separate chapters, but you may well disagree.

This book probably won’t improve your rating, but if you’re at all interested in 19th century American chess history, and, like me, you missed the original hardback edition, you’ll want to add this to your collection.

I’d certainly be interested in a book covering the rest of Mason’s life and career: James Mason in England?

Here’s a game to whet your appetite.

James Mason – Frederick Perrin New York (casual game) June 1873

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. d4 d5 6. Bb3 Bg4 7. dxe5 Be6 8. Qe2 Bc5 9. c4 Nd4 10. Nxd4 Bxd4 11. Qd3 c5 12. cxd5 Bxd5 13. Ba4+ Ke7 14. Nc3 Nxc3 15. bxc3 Bxe5 16. Qe3 Kd6 17. Rd1 Qh4 18. f4 Bf6 19. Rb1 Qg4

20. Qxc5+ Kxc5 21. Ba3+ Kc4 22. Bb5+ Kxc3 23. Rbc1#

Richard James, Twickenham 27 March 2020

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 384 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 October 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476679436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476679433
  • Product Dimensions: 17.3 x 2.3 x 24.4 cm

Official web site of McFarland

The cover of the eariler (2010) hardback edition is below :

James Mason in America
James Mason in America