Category Archives: Biographies

Many Happy Returns Ketevan!

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant
GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant

BCN wishes GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant best wishes on her birthday, July 19th 1968

From Wikipedia :

In 1985, when she won the World Junior Chess Championship for Girls, held in Dobrna (and taking silver in Adelaide three years later). Very soon thereafter, she fulfilled the criteria for the Woman International Master title and this was awarded in 1986. Encouraged by these early successes, she quickly developed aspirations[citation needed] to become a Women’s World Championship contender and in the course of the qualification cycles of the late eighties and early nineties, proved that she had the ability to compete at the top level. Second place behind Nana Ioseliani in her first Interzonal at Tuzla 1987 was an inspirational start, but she won the 1993 event in Jakarta and the 1995 event in Kishinev. Her performances in the respective Candidates Tournaments ruled out an opportunity to play for the world title.

She won the Women’s Soviet Chess Championship in 1990.

Aside from world championship competitions, in 1990 she took first place at both the Biel Women’s Open and Geneva (IM), then followed up by winning the Doeberl Cup in Canberra, Australia in 1991; the first woman to do so. Her participation at the Hastings Premier in 1993/94, where she finished ahead of six male grandmasters and defeated three of them on her way to a share of third place. In respect of women competitors at Hastings, the result was second only to that of Judit Polgár.

In the nineties she participated in the Veterans vs Ladies dance-themed tournaments where she defeated Borislav Ivkov, Vlastimil Hort, Vasily Smyslov and Mark Taimanov.

In 1996, she married Jonathan Grant, also a chess player, and they settled in Edinburgh, later giving birth to daughter Elena.

In team chess, Arakhamia debuted at Chess Olympiad at Novi Sad in 1990, representing the USSR Ladies team as first reserve and registering a perfect 12/12 score. With the Soviet and then Georgian Ladies Teams, she has won nine Olympiad medals, and including two team and three individual gold medals. She has won medals at the European Team Chess Championships; a team gold at Pula in 1997 and team silver medals in 1992 and 2005.

Despite moving to the UK, Arakhamia continued to represent Georgia for many years, through membership of its national chess federation. She was the Georgian Ladies Champion in 1983, 1984 and 1990. In January 2008 however, she switched her registration to her adopted country.

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant
GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant

Post-millennium, she has won a bronze medal at the Women’s European Individual Championship at Warsaw in 2001. She was Scottish champion jointly with Paul Motwani in 2003 (the first ever woman to achieve the honour) and has participated at the British Championship, taking the Ladies’ Champion titles of 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2007. In 2006, she finished just a half point behind overall Championship winner Jonathan Rowson. She concluded with a 4½/5 finish, including a win against Nick Pert in the last round. 2006 was also the year that her husband took first place in the Scottish Championship, making them the first ever husband–wife pair to win a full national championship. Also in 2006, at Batumi Georgia, she assisted the Australian squad by coaching their Under-10 Girls at the World Youth Chess Championship.

In 2007, she beat former U.S. Champion Hikaru Nakamura at Gibraltar Masters, in a 100-move first round encounter. Journalist John Saunders describes Arakhamia-Grant as the ideal role model: “her charming and dignified manner belies a tough, determined fighter at the board.”[citation needed] At Philadelphia, while visiting her sister, she played the World Open and finished top woman. As the tournament was a qualifier for the MonRoi Women’s Grand Prix, she earned a place in the Montreal finale, held just a few weeks later. There, she shared the lead after five rounds and finished in joint fourth place (Pia Cramling won). As part of the Liverpool European Capital of Culture festivities, she played in the United Kingdom vs China match and was top scorer for the UK with 4/6, although China won the match.

Arakhamia-Grant at the 2008 EU Championship
At the 2008 EU Individual Open Chess Championship in Liverpool, she shared the highest scoring woman prize with Jovanka Houska and Yelena Dembo. At the Olympiad in Dresden, she played for Scotland in the main event and completed her final grandmaster norm with victory in the final round. Having additionally met the 2500 Elo rating requirement in the January 2009 FIDE list, she was awarded the title in March 2009, making her Scotland’s sixth grandmaster. In August 2009 Arakhamia-Grant won the Baltic Queen round-robin tournament in Saint Petersburg.[1]

In July 2011 she won the Scottish Championship outright, finishing with the score of 7/9.

In league chess, Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant has played for OSC Baden-Baden in the Women’s Bundesliga and for Georgian team Interplast Tbilisi in the European Club Cup. For the 2008/9 season, she represents Wood Green Hilsmark Kingfisher 1 in the British 4NCL.

GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant
GM Ketevan Arakhamia-Grant

Happy Birthday John Rice !

John Michael Rice
John Michael Rice

BCN sends best wishes to John Michael Rice on his birthday, July 19th in 1937.

An ABC of Chess Problems
An ABC of Chess Problems

From chesscomposers.blogspot.com :

John Rice was the chief editor of the problems section of the “British Chess Magazine” from 1961 until 1974 and is a faithful collaborator of “The Problemist”. He has written “Chess Problem: Introduction to an Art” (1963) together with Robin Matthews and Michael Lipton and “The Two-Move Chess Problem” (1966), “Serieshelpmates” (1978) with Anthony Dickins or “Chess Wizardry: The New ABC of Chess Problems” (1996).

He composes mostly direct mates, but can composes as well in other genres, including fairies. He is an International Judge for twomovers, helpmates and fairy problems and the former President of the PCCC from 2004 until 2006.

John was awarded the title of “International Grandmaster for chess compositions” in 2015.

John Michael Rice
John Michael Rice

Many Happy Returns Nigel !

IM Nigel Povah
IM Nigel Povah

BCN wishes IM Nigel Edward Povah all the best on his birthday, July 17th in 1952.

Chess Training : Nigel Povah
Chess Training : Nigel Povah

From Wikipedia :

Nigel Edward Povah (born 17 July 1952 in Wandsworth, London) is a British chess player. He is an International Master at over-the-board chess and a grandmaster at correspondence chess. Povah is the author of Chess Training. He is reckoned to be the UK’s strongest correspondence chess player since Jonathan Penrose. Povah has one son, Jonathan Povah.

Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan
Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games
Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games : Alex Dunne

FM Alex Dunne

FM Alex Dunne
FM Alex Dunne

How we all laughed, back in the day. How we all laughed whenever Fred Reinfeld’s name was mentioned. All those books written for patzers. How to Win When You’re Ahead. How to Win When You’re Behind. How to Win When You’re Equal. How to Win With the White Pieces. How to Win With the Black Pieces. How to Win with the Blue Pieces. How to Win with the Yellow Pieces. Well, perhaps we made up some of those titles, but you know what I mean. Endless books of basic, over-simplified instruction, not for the likes of us.

But now, half a century or so on, I’d say that Fred is one of my heroes. A man who brought a lot of pleasure to a lot of people, teaching them the basics so that they could move onto higher level instruction later on if they chose to do so. If they didn’t, no matter: they were still enjoying chess. And he wrote some excellent higher level books as well. A particular favourite of mine was his collection of Tarrasch’s best games: I guess Tarrasch’s logical style suited Reinfeld’s style of annotations.

There was much more to him than chess books, though. In the 1930s, when he was in his 20s, he was one of the strongest players in the USA, numbering Reshevsky (twice), Fine and Marshall among his victims.  At the start of 1942 he decided to give up competitive chess and concentrate on writing. It wasn’t just chess books that he wrote, either. His bibliography includes books on checkers, coin and stamp collecting, science, maths and history. He died relatively young, in 1964, at the age of 54. Granted another 20 or 30 years, who knows how many books he would have written.

It’s easy to mock, isn’t it? We can all name authors who decided it would be more lucrative to write bad books quickly than to write good books slowly. but Reinfeld’s books, although for the most part not written for stronger players, were by no means bad. He was an excellent writer and pioneering teacher who developed the ‘solitaire chess’ method of asking questions on a game and awarding points for good answers. It’s hard to disagree that he was one of the most influential figures in mid-20th century chess, and a biobibliography was long overdue.

Fred Reinfeld
Fred Reinfeld

Sadly, this volume doesn’t really do Reinfeld full justice. The author, Alex Dunne, is an enthusiast rather than an academic historian. It includes 282 games (actually 281, as one game appears with two sets of annotations), mostly played by him, some with notes, either by Reinfeld or by Dunne. You might possibly want more annotations, or you might think that, as Reinfeld was best known as a writer, this doesn’t matter too much.

Dunne also provides, as you might expect, details of Reinfeld’s books, although it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s a discussion about whether or not Reinfeld ghostwrote Reshevsky on Chess and Marshall’s My Fifty Years of Chess, but Dunne adds nothing further to what is readily available online and leaves readers to draw their own conclusions. There’s also nothing about Edward Young, generally assumed to be a pen-name of Reinfeld, although the books published under this name are included in the bibliography. (Wikipedia and other online sources claim that Reinfeld also used the pseudonym Robert V Masters, but Dunne tells us, without providing sources, that Masters was actually Sterling Publishing Company President David Boehm.)

Reinfeld produced American editions of various British chess books. I’d have welcomed more information about what, if any, changes were made. To take just one example, he mentions Epic Battles of the Chessboard by ‘Richard Cole’. He might have mentioned that the original title was Battles Royal of the Chessboard,  and should certainly have given the author, Richard Nevil Coles, who, for some reason, was usually known by his middle name rather than his excellent first name, his correct surname. ‘R Nevil Coles’ would have been much better. Again, Morphy’s Games of Chess is incorrectly attributed to E Sergeant in the text, but the bibliography correctly identifies the author as Philip Sergeant.

Reverting to the games, some of Reinfeld’s opponents are identified by their first name and surname, others only by their initial and surname. I thought I knew that W Goldwater, for example, was Walter, and it took all of 5 seconds for Mr Google to confirm this.

All in all, then, something of a missed opportunity. A worthy book and a worthy subject, but lacking the rigorous historical research and accuracy we expect from this publisher. I’d like to suggest a group biography of Reinfeld and his occasional co-authors Chernev and Horowitz as a possible project for a US chess historian. Nevertheless, in the absence of anything else, if you’re interested in chess history of this period, chess literature or chess teaching you’ll still want to buy this book.

Here’s one of Reinfeld’s favourite games:

 

 

Richard James, Twickenham July 15th 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 194 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 October 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476676542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476676548
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 1.3 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of McFarland Books

Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games
Fred Reinfeld : The Man Who Taught America Chess, with 282 Games

Remembering Henry Bird

Henry Edward Bird
Henry Edward Bird

BCN remembers Henry Edward Bird who was born this day (July 14th) in 1830.

From Wikipedia :

Henry Edward Bird (Portsea in Hampshire, 14 July 1830 – 11 April 1908) was an English chess player, and also an author and accountant. He wrote a book titled Chess History and Reminiscences, and another titled An Analysis of Railways in the United Kingdom.

Although Bird was a practicing accountant, not a professional chess player, it has been said that he “lived for chess, and would play anybody anywhere, any time, under any conditions.”

At age 21, Bird was invited to the first international tournament, London 1851. He also participated in tournaments held in Vienna and New York City. In 1858 he lost a match to Paul Morphy at the age of 28, yet he played high-level chess for another 50 years. In the New York tournament of 1876, Bird received the first brilliancy prize ever awarded, for his game against James Mason.

In 1874 Bird proposed a new chess variant, which played on an 8×10 board and contained two new pieces: guard (combining the moves of the rook and knight) and equerry (combining the bishop and knight). Bird’s chess inspired José Raúl Capablanca to create another chess variant, Capablanca Chess, which differs from Bird’s chess only by the starting position.

It was Bird who popularized the chess opening now called Bird’s Opening (1.f4), as well as Bird’s Defense to the Ruy Lopez (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 Nd4). Bird’s Opening is considered sound, though not the best try for an opening advantage. Bird’s Defense is regarded as slightly inferior, but “trappy”.

Chess Novelties
Chess Novelties

Remembering BH Wood

Baruch Harold Wood
Baruch Harold Wood

BCN notes that 110 years ago today was born Baruch Harold Wood.

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.

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

Happy Birthday Robert !

IM Robert Cecil Bellin
IM Robert Cecil Bellin

BCN sends IM Robert Bellin best wishes on his birthday, this day (the 30th of June) in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

Robert was awarded the IM title in 1977. He was outright British Champion in 1979 in Chester having tied first equal (with six others) in 1974 in Clacton. The play-off was won by George Botterill.

His best international success was in 1981 in Shanghai coming clear first overall.

Robert is married to WGM Dr. Jana Bellin and they have two sons.

The Classical Dutch by IM Robert Bellin
The Classical Dutch by IM Robert Bellin

Vera Menchik : A 75 Year Anniversary

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

BCN notes that on June 27th, 1944 (i.e. 75 years ago) Vera Menchik, “her sister Olga, and their mother were killed in a V-1 flying bomb attack which destroyed their home at 47 Gauden Road in the Clapham area of South London.[23] All three were cremated at the Streatham Park Crematorium on 4 July 1944.”

More from Wikipedia :

Vera Frantsevna Menchik (Russian: Вера Францевна Менчик; Czech: Věra Menčíková; 16 February 1906 – 27 June 1944) was a British-Czechoslovak-Russian chess player who became the world’s first women’s chess champion. She also competed in chess tournaments with some of the world’s leading male chess masters, with occasional successes including two wins over future world champion Max Euwe.

Her father, František Menčík, was born in Bystra nad Jizerou, Bohemia, while her mother, Olga Illingworth (c. 1885–1944[1]), was English. He was the manager of several estates owned by the nobility in Russia, and his wife was a governess of the children of the estate owner.

Vera Menchik was born in Moscow in 1906. Her sister Olga Menchik was born in 1907.

When she was nine years old her father gave her a chess set and taught her how to play. When she was 15 her school club organised a chess tournament and she came second.

After the Revolution her father lost a mill he owned and eventually also the big house where the family lived. The marriage broke down; her father returned to Bohemia, and in the autumn of 1921 Olga and her daughters went to Hastings, England, to live with Olga’s mother.

As Vera spoke only Russian she hesitated to go to the local chess club, but at last on 18 March 1923 she joined the Hastings Chess Club and began to take lessons from John Drewitt. Then she became a pupil of the grandmaster Géza Maróczy. During 1923 she played in several team matches.

In December 1923 she played in her first Hastings Congress and got a draw against Edith Price, the then British ladies’ champion.

In the next Hastings Christmas Chess Congress 1924/25 she played again in Group A, first class, and finished second with five points out of seven. She met Miss Price in the last round of the Group of the Winners and again drew.

In 1925 she contested two matches against Edith Price, winning both of them, and she was considered the strongest lady player in the country; as she was not British she could not enter the national competition.

In January 1926 she won the first Girls’ Open Championship at the Imperial Club in London with her sister Olga coming third. In 1927 she retained this title and Olga came second. Next year Vera was too old to play, and Olga again came second.

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games
Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games : Hans Renette & Fabrizio Zavatarelli

Hans Renette

Hans Renette
Hans Renette

Neumann, Hirschfeld & Suhle. Sounds like a Berlin law firm, doesn’t it? In fact they were 19th century Prussian born chess players with Berlin connections, all active in the 1860s. You tell me you’ve never heard of them? One of them may well be the strongest (for his time) player you’ve never heard of.

Let me take you back to the year 1860. Morphy’s short career in competitive chess had already come to an end, and Steinitz (strange to think he was a year older than Morphy) was just a fairly promising youngster. Anderssen was still active, along with younger players such as Kolisch and Paulsen, but, if you remove Morphy from the equation, there was no clear number one player.

Among those just below the top was (Carl Friedrich) Berthold Suhle (1837-1904), the first of this book’s joint protagonists. Suhle had a very brief chess career spanning the late 1850s up to 1865, when he returned home from Berlin, choosing to focus instead on family life and his career as an academic specialising in Ancient Greek.

Enter Philipp Martin Hirschfeld (1840-96), who, when he arrived in Berlin in 1859, already had a reputation as a theoretician. He was as yet no match for Suhle, though: in a nine game match in 1860 he could only muster two draws. (Note that Jeff Sonas, on his Chessmetrics site, mistakenly dates this match to 1865, causing him to overstate both Hirschfeld’s rating in the early 1860s and Suhle’s rating in the late 1860s.) Like Suhle, Hirschfeld decided to concentrate on his career rather than become a chess professional. Joining his father’s business, he set up a tea company, travelled widely and lived in London through much of the 1870s and 80s. He maintained his interest in chess for the rest of his life but never took part in international tournaments.

The main part of the book is devoted to Gustav Richard Ludwig Neumann (1838-81), who, for a few years round about 1870 was one of the best three or four players in the world. Neumann was a real chess addict who decided to make a living through his favourite game. His first international tournament was Paris 1867, where he finished 4th behind Kolisch, Winawer and Steinitz. Later the same year he won a small but strong tournament in Dundee, this time ahead of Steinitz. It seemed like a new star had arrived, but at the end of 1869 he suffered a mental breakdown and was taken to an asylum. He recovered well enough to be released the following April and that summer resumed his tournament career at Baden-Baden, where he finished 3rd behind Anderssen and Steinitz, and level with Blackburne. Sadly, his mental illness returned at the end of 1872, putting an end to his chess career. Neumann was one of the great might-have-beens of chess, but you’ve probably never heard of him.

The two authors of this volume are both respected chess historians who have written other biographies for McFarland. Hans Renette has penned excellent books on Henry Bird and Louis Paulsen, while Fabrizio Zavatarelli has published a book on Ignaz Kolisch. In 2015 they discovered that Hans was researching Neumann while Fabrizio was studying Suhle and Hirschfeld. Given the overlap in time and place they decided it would make sense to pool their resources.

If you’re familiar with McFarland biographies you’ll know what to expect and won’t be disappointed. A sturdy, large format hardback which will sit impressively on your bookshelf, 711 games with annotations taken from contemporary sources and computer-aided updates from the authors, many atmospheric photographs and outstanding historical research, The English is not always entirely idiomatic, but no matter.

Although the book probably won’t do much to improve your rating, lovers of attacking chess will be delighted to see a lot of Evans Gambit and King’s Gambit games, with the Ruy Lopez in third place.  By today’s standards these players were not so strong, but all of us, from Magnus Carlsen down to the humblest patzer, are standing on the shoulders of giants. If you value the history and heritage of our wonderful game you’ll want to find out more about Suhle, Hirschfeld and Neumann, all of whom part of what makes us what we are.

Here’s a crazily complicated game from the book. You’ll have hours of fun spotting the missed opportunities for both players.

 

Richard James, Twickenham June 7 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Hardcover : 384 pages
  • Publisher: McFarland (30 July 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1476673799
  • ISBN-13: 978-1476673790
  • Product Dimensions: 22.2 x 3.2 x 27.9 cm/li>

Official web site of McFarland Books

Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games
Neumann, Hirschfeld and Suhle : 19th Century Berlin Chess Biographies with 711 Games