BCN sends best wishes to John Michael Rice on his birthday, July 19th in 1937.
John was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, North Riding, his mother’s maiden name was Blake. John lives in Surbiton, Surrey and teaches Modern Languages at Tiffin School, Kingston-Upon-Thames.
From An ABC of Chess Problems :
“The author is one of the country’s most prolific foremost composers and problem critics. He has gained mainly tourney honours, both at home and abroad, and since 1961 has been editor of a flourishing problem section in the British Chess Magazine, the country’s leading chess periodical. He lives in London and teaches Modern Languages at Tiffin School, Kingston-Upon-Thames.”
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).
Translated from https://peoplepill.com/people/john-michael-rice/ :
“Since the mid-fifties he has composed problems of all kinds, but above all in two moves. In the 1960s he was editor of the problems section of the British Chess Magazine. Since 1999 he has been editor of The Problemist magazine.
International Master of Composition since 1969 and International Judge for Composition since 1972.
President of the PCCC (Permanent Commission for Chess Composition) from 2002 to 2006.
He worked as a teacher of modern languages in a school in Kingston-upon-Thames.
Together with Barry Barnes and Michael Lipton he wrote the book Chess Problems: Introduction to an Art (Faber & Faber, London 1963).
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.
“I was taught the moves of chess in 1947 at the age of ten and quickly realised that I liked the game no more than Ludo or Snakes and Ladders where the chances of losing seemed to me unfairly high. But the chess pieces and their moves fascinated me, so it is hardly surprising that before long I had turned to problems and become an ardent fan of Brian Harley in his Observer column, especially as I had come across and paid two shillings (!) for his Mate in Two Moves in a second-hand bookshop in Reigate. Harley, together with T. R. Dawson in the British Chess Magazine and C. S. Kipping in CHESS, provided the sources of my first solving pleasure and the inspiration for my first efforts at composition. Among my early successes was problem l, heavily constructed but strategically rich, a first prizewinner in a tournament for composers under 21, one of a series organised by the British Chess Problem Society.
I had grown up in Scarborough (Yorkshire), out of contact with other problem enthusiasts, and a chance meeting in December, 1954 with Michael Lipton in Cambridge, where we were both taking Scholarship examinations, brought the realisation that there was far more to the two-move chess problem than the solidly entrenched traditionalism espoused in those days by the columns of The Problemist and CHESS. Very soon the bulk of my output was in the modern style (with set and try-play) and published abroad, notably in Die Schwalbe, whose two-move editor, Hermann Albrecht, did much to stimulate my interest. Problem 2 gained a coveted prize in an extremely strong formal tournament judged by Michael
Lipton, following an article of his on the potentialities of the half-battery theme (illustrated here by the arrangement on the c-file).
5th prize, 133rd Theme Tournament, Die Schwalbe, 1961.
The half-battery is only one of several themes which have commanded my attention over the past 20 years, others being white self-pin in try and key (illustrated by problem 3), Grimshaw and Nowotny (problem 4), reciprocal and cyclic play (problem V, the first published example of cyclic mates in three phases), pawn-promotion effects, and tasks of various types, especially open gates. My total problem output numbers about 600.
The Tablet, Commended, BCPS Ring Tournament 1958; Brian Harley Award
In 1961 I took over from S. Sedgwick the editorship of the problem section of the British Chess Magazine, which post I held until December, 1974. It was a source of pride to me that I was now doing the job once done by the great T. R Dawson, though I knew that I could never bring to it the same tireless energy and all-round expertise which he had displayed so impressively. At about the same time I embarked with Michael Lipton and Robin Matthews on a venture which was to have repercussions throughout the entire problem world,
namely a series of books on problems published by Faber and Faber. The first, Chess Problems: Introduction to an Art (Lipton, Matthews and Rice), appeared in 1963, and was followed three years later by The Two-move Chess Problem: Tradition and Development, also with Michael Lipton, but this time the third collaborator was Barry Barnes, who has long been a close friend and influence. The third book in the series, An ABC of Chess Problems (1970), was a solo effort.
My interest in Fairy Chess dates from a meeting in the mid-1960s with the late John Driver, whose enthusiasm for the pleasures to be derived from non-orthodox forms I found highly infectious. Fairy problems soon began to appear in the BCM column and were favourably received. The serieshelpmate, where White remains stationary while Black plays a sequence of moves to reach a position where White can mate in one, has perhaps interested me more than any other non-orthodox form (see problem Vl), and in 1971 I collaborated with Anthony Dickins to produce a book on the subject, The Serieshelpmate (published by the Q Press, first edition 1971, second edition 1978).
1st Prize, Problem 37th Theme Tournament, 1961-62
White mates in 2
Set: 1…Kc6; 2. Qe8 (A)
1…Ke6; 2. Qc8 (B)
Try: 1.Nb6+?, Kc6;2.Qc8 (B)
Key : 1.Nf6+! Kc6;2.Qd6 (C)
Since 1974 my problem activities have necessarily been restricted by the demands of family life (wife and two sons, none of them much interested in chess) and my career (schoolmaster, formerly Head of Modern Languages Department and now Director of Studies at Tiffin School, Kingston Upon Thames. Other leisure-time interests (not that there is much leisure time) include cricket and classical music.”
BCN wishes IM Nigel Edward Povah all the best on his birthday, July 17th in 1952.
Nigel was born in Wandsworth, London.
He became a FIDE Master in 1980, an International Master in 1983 and an International Correspondence Master in 1983. He became England’s 7th ICCF GM in 1989. His predecessors were :
210048 Markland, Peter Richard ENG GM 1984
210060 Penrose, Dr. Jonathan ENG GM 1983
210178 Webb, Simon ENG GM 1983
210011 Clarke, Peter Hugh ENG GM 1980
210029 Hollis, Adrian Swayne ENG GM 1976
210062 Richardson, Keith Bevin ENG GM 1975
Nigel has been Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons.
Nigel has played for Streatham & Brixton Club (see the Andrew Martin video below) and was part of this very strong London club which developed many original opening ideas.
Nigel was a strong opening theoretician and developed ideas in the Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan, Sveshnikov and English Openings amongst others.
Knightmare magazines are a valuable source of information about the club and it’s members.
Below we have the game Berg-Povah, Wijk aan Zee, 1979 annotated by Streatham & Brixton team mate, IM Andrew Martin :
Nigel continues to play for Guildford in the Surrey League and in the Surrey Border League as well as Guildford in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).
Nigel started the highly successful 4NCL teams sponsored by his company Guildford A&DC (Assessment & Development Consultants) and the 4NCL team(s) are now run by Roger Emerson and Julien Shepley having taken a back seat since June 2017.
His peak rating was 2385 in January 1980 aged 28.
Nigel is married to Gill and has a daughter Lucy and a son, Jonathan.
In recent times Nigel has been playing more nationally and internationally and and has become a specialist in the Accelerated London System (with 2.Lf4) and is a regular on the International veterans circuit.
Here is an article written by Richard W. O’Brien from British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983 :
“Nigel Povah was for the majority of the seventies a chess professional. He mixed playing with teaching in various schools and also coached individuals. He is a BCF qualified coach. Danny King (our second youngest international master) and the late Ian Wells were two who clearly benefited from his teachings.
On the playing front he won numerous congresses including Hammersmith 1970, Paignton 1974, LARA 1974, Evening Standard 1974, LARA(again) 1978 and Charlton 1979. In 1975 he won the SCCU Championship and again in 1976. He first played in international tournaments in 1973 when as one of the weaker players in the tournament he produced excellent annotations for the bulletin, even for the games he lost. These were the first signs of becoming a chess writer. To date he has shared first place in four international tournaments Robert Silk 1976, Malta 1976, Malta(again) 1979 and Wijk aan Zee Master Reserves 1979. It can be seen that 1979 was a good year. He also shared 4th place in the British Championship and represented
England at senior level against Denmark in the same year.
His road to the lM title has been long and hard. On several occasions he got close to the norm requirement just to fail. At Lloyds Bank in 1978 and 1980 and Lewisham 1981 he got the necessary three norms. Had he then ceased playing (with an Elo of 23751 he would automatically have had the lM title confirmed at Lucerne in 1982. He however continued playing and became the victim of some complicated and, with respect, unfair FIDE regulations, and his title was delayed until 1983. Clearly had the General Assembly met between January 1982 and June 1982 he would have been awarded the title at least a year earlier!
He has written several books-Chess Training published by Faber, English:Four Knights Batsford, How to Play the English Batsford and was co-author of Sicilian: Lasker-Pelikan Batsford. These last three Batsford publications indicate his interest in current theory. Two of the games which follow- v Berg (see 16…Rb8) and v Speelman (see 12 NgS)certainly confirm this. The Streatham and Brixton club owe much to Nigel Povah in becoming one of the strongest clubs in the country. At one time an average second division side (London league) they have since won the league and been in contention more than once. For several years he was one of the main three organisers at the club and even today still continues to play for them and is currently their National Club match-captain although he now lives some twenty miles away in Guildford.
In 1979 he organised the First Regency International at Ramsgate. In conjunction with Ian Josephs (sponsor) and Bob Wade (controller) this has become a highly successful annual event.
Now married, his wife Gill presented him with a daughter Lucy shortly after the completion of the Regency International in 1982.
He now works for ICL as training consultant and limits his over the board chess to club chess for Streatham.
He has recently taken up postal chess and in 1983 after competing in the BPCF Jubilee he became a correspondence International Master.
He has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Occupational Psychology.”
According to Chess Training : “Two of his pupils were members of England’s victorious 4-man team in the World Under-16 team event.”
BCN remembers FM David Edward Rumens who passed away on July 8th, 2017
David was born in Hendon, London (his mother’s maiden name was Little). (According to electoral registers) in his latter years he lived in Olney and then Wavendon both in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire but this is yet to be confirmed. A David Edward Rumens with the same year of birth lived at these addresses.
He became a FIDE Master in 1980 at the age of 41.
According to chessgames.com : “FIDE Master David Edward Rumens was UK Grand Prix Champion in 1976 and 1978.”
His highest Elo rating was 2355 in July 1981 at the age of 42.
His first game in Megabase 2020 is a win with Black against Dr. Fazekas in the 1958 British Championships in Leamington Spa. His most recent database game was a win with White over Jessie Gilbert at the 2003 British Championships in Edinburgh with 159 games recorded in total. Between 1982 and 2001 no games are recorded.
From Round Two of the above event we have David’s exciting win over his main Grand Prix rival, Andrew Whiteley. This game was provided by Freddy Reilly in BCM, Volume XCVIII (98), Number 6 (June), page 255 and is BCM game number 18688 :
BCN wishes IM Matthew Wadsworth Happy Birthday this day (June 27th) in 2020.
Previously we reported :
FM Matthew Wadsworth, one of England’s most promising young players, has earned his first Grandmaster norm from his excellent performance in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew, who is twenty, has a current FIDE standard play rating of 2413 and is ranked 34th amongst the active players in England (by FIDE rating) earning his FM title in 2016. Matthew has IMs norm under his belt but could leapfrog to Grandmaster status with further norms and by increasing his live rating to 2500. Most likely, however, is that the IM title will be ratified at the next FIDE Congress now that his live rating has topped 2400.
Matthew’s first ECF grade was 66A in 2007 (aged 7) and he played for Maidenhead in local leagues, St. Pirans’s School and then Reading School.
Matthew is reading Economics at Queen’s College, Cambridge and rows for the college team.
Matthew joined 4NCL at an early age and played for AMCA (Andrew Martin Chess Academy) soon rising the ranks to the AMCA first team and he currently represents the Guildford 2 team in Division One of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew’s 4NCL results for the 2018-19 season were :
1. Fodor, Tamas Jr, draw
2. Ashton, Adam G, win
3. Gonda, Laszlo, draw
4. Kulon, Klaudia, win
5. Holland, James P, win
6. Stewart, Ashley, win
7. Ledger, Andrew J, win
8. Plat, Vojtech, loss
9. no game
10. Jackson, James P, win
11. no game
giving a performance of 7/9
One of the undoubted highlights of Matthews chess year was has draw with Oxford domiciled GM Hou Yifan, three times Women’s World Champion from China during the annual Varsity match, Matthew representing Cambridge.
BCN remembers that in the early morning of Tuesday, June 27th, 1944 (i.e. 76 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.
All three were cremated at the Streatham Park Crematorium on 4 July 1944. Vera was 38 years old.
The August 1944 British Chess Magazine (Volume LXIV, Number 8, page 173 onwards) contained this editorial from Julius du Mont :
“British Chess has suffered a grievous and irreparable loss in the death by enemy action of Mrs. R.H.S. Stevenson known through all the world where chess is played as Vera Menchik.
We give elsewhere (below : Ed.) an appreciation of this remarkable woman. Quite apart from her unique gifts as a chess-player-the world may never see her equal again among women players-she had many qualities which endeared her to all who knew her, the greatest among them being here great-hearted generosity.
We sympathise with our contemporary “CHESS” : Vera Menchik was for some years their games editor. Few columns have been conducted with equal skill and efficiency and none, we feel sure, with a greater sense of responsibility.
The news of this remarkable tragedy will be received by the chess world with sorrow and with abhorrence of the wanton and useless robot methods of a robot people.
One shudders at the heritage of hatred which will be theirs, but their greatest punishment will come with their own enlightenment.”
From page 178 of the same issue we have an obituary written by EGR Cordingley :
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“Woman World Champion from 1927 to 1944. Vera Menchik was born in Moscow on 16th February 1906 of an English mother and a Czech father. Her father taught her to play chess when she was 9.
In 192l her family came to England and settled in Hastings (at 13, St. John’s Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP) :
Two years later, when she was 17, Vera joined Hastings Chess Club,
where she became a pupil of Geza Maroczy. The first Women’s World Championship was held in 1927. Vera Menchik won with a score of 10.5 out of 11. She defended her title successfully in Hamburg in 1930, in Prague in 1931, in Folkestone in 1933, in Warsaw in 1935, in Stockholm in 1937 and in Buenos Aires in 1939. She played 2 matches against Sonja Graf, her nearest rival, in 1934 when she won +3 -1 and in 1937, in a match for her title when she won +9 -1 =5.
The first woman ever to play in the British Championship and the first to play in a master tournament, Vera Menchik made her debut in master chess at Scarborough 1928 when she scored 50 per cent. The following year she played in Paris and Carlsbad, and it was at Carlsbad that the famous Menchik Club was formed. The invitation to Vera Menchik to compete among such players as Capablanca, Euwe, Tartakower and Nimzowitch was received with amusement by many of the masters. The Viennese master, Becker was particularly scornful, and in the presence of a number of the competitors he suggested that anyone who lost to Vera Menchik should be granted membership of the Menchik Club. He himself became the first member. Other famous players who later joined the club were Euwe, Reshevsky, Sultan Khan, Sir George Thomas, C. H. O’D. Alexander, Colle and Yates.
Her greatest success in international tournaments was at Ramsgate in 1929, when she was =2nd with Rubinstein, half a point behind Capablanca and ahead of Maroczy. In 1934 she was 3rd at Maribor, ahead of Spielmann and Vidmar. In 1942 she won a match against Mieses +4 -l -5. In 1937 Vera Menchik married R. H. Stevenson, who later became Hon. Secretary of the British Chess Federation. He died in 1943. She continued to use her maiden name when playing chess. On her marriage she became a British subject.
From 1941 until her death she was Games Editor of CHESS. She also gave chess lessons and managed the National Chess Centre, which opened in 1939 at John Lewis’s in Oxford Street, London and was destroyed by a bomb in 1940.
In 1944 Vera Menchik was a solid positional player, who avoided complications and aimed at achieving a favourable endgame. Her placid temperament was ideal for tournament play. Her main weakness was possibly lack of imagination. Her results have made her the most successful woman player ever.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess, (BT Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :
Probably the strongest woman player in the history of the game, Vera Menchik was born in Moscow and, though her father was a Czechoslovak and her mother English, she played for most of her
life under English colours.
In l92l her family came to Hastings in England and there Vera became a pupil of the great Hungarian master, Geza Maroczy. This was to have a dominating influence on her style of play which was solidly classical, logical and technically most well equipped. Such a style enabled her to deal severely not only with her fellow women players but also with contemporary masters and budding masters. Vera did extremely well, for example, against C. H. O’D. Alexander
and P. S. Milner-Barry, but lost repeatedly to H. Golombek who was able to take advantage of her lack of imagination by the use of more modern methods.
Vera was soon predominent in women’s chess. In the first Women’s World Championship tournament, at London in 1927, she won the title with a score of 10.5 out of 11 and retained the championship with great ease at all the subsequent Olympiads (or International Team tournaments as they were then known more correctly) at Hamburg 1930, Prague 1931, Folkestone 1933, Warsaw 1935, Stockholm 1937 and Buenos Aires 1939.
With Sonja Graf, the player who came nearest to her in strength among her female contemporaries, she played two matches and demonstrated her undoubted superiority by beating her in 1934 (+3-l) and again in a match for the title in l937 (+9-l=5).
In 1937 Vera officially became a British citizen by marrying the then Kent and later B.C.F. Secretary, R. H. S. Stevenson (Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson: ed).
(Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson was home news editor of the British Chess Magazine, secretary of the Southern Counties Chess Union and match captain of the Kent County Chess Association).
Oddly enough, Sonja Graf, many years later, also became a Mrs Stevenson by marrying an American of that name some years after the Second World War.
Vera Menchik also played and held her own in men’s tournaments. She did well in the British championship and her best performance in international chess was =2nd with Rubinstein in the Ramsgate Team Practice tournament ahead of her old teacher, Maroczy. She also had an excellent result at Maribor in 1934 where she came 3rd, ahead of Spielmann and Vidmar.
Her husband died in 1943 and Vera herself, together with her younger sister Olga and her mother, was killed by a V1 bomb that descended on the Stevenson home in London in 1944.
This was a sad and premature loss, not only for British but for world chess, since there is no doubt she would have continued to dominate the female scene for many years.
As a person Vera was a delightful companion, jolly and full of fun and understanding. As a player she was not only strong but also absolutely correct and without any prima donna behaviour. Generous in defeat and modest in victory, she set a great example to all her contemporaries.
An example of Vera’s attacking play at its best against her nearest rival, Sonja Graf, is shown by the following game which was played in her 1937 match at Semmering in Austria :
From The Oxford Companion to Chess, (Oxford University Press, 1984) by Hooper and Whyld :
“Woman World Champion from 1927 until her death. Daughter of a Czech father and an English mother, Menchik was born in Moscow, learned chess when she was nine, settled in England around
1921, and took lessons from Maroczy a year or so later. In 1927 FIDE organized both the first Olympiad and the first world championship tournament for women. These events were run concurrently, except in 1928, until the Second World War began, and Menchik won the women’s tournament every time; London 1927 (+10=1); Hamburg 1930 (+6=1 — 1); Prague 1931 (+8);
Folkestone 1933 ( + 14); Warsaw 1935 (+9); Stockholm 1937 (+14); and Buenos Aires 1939 ( + 17=2). She played in her first championship tournament as a Russian, the next five as a Czech,
and the last as a Briton. She also won on two matches against her chief rival, the German-born Sonja Graf (c. 1912-65): Rotterdam, 1934 (+3-1), and Semmering, 1937 (+9=5—2),
In international tournaments which did not exclude men Menchik made little impression; one of her best results was at Maribor 1934 (about category 4) when she took third place alter Pirc and L. Steiner ahead of Spielmann. In 1937 she married the English chess organizer Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson (1878-1943), A chess professional, she gave lessons, lectures, and displays, and was appointed manager of the short-lived National Chess Centre in 1939. In 1942 she defeated Mieses in match play (+4=5-1), She, her younger sister Olga (also a player), and their mother were killed in a bombing raid.
Her style was positional and she had a sound understanding of the endgame. On occasion she defeated in tournament play some of the greatest masters, notably Euwe, Reshevsky, and Sultan Khan. Men she defeated were said to belong to the
Menchik club. When world team championships for women (women’s chess Olympiads) were commenced in 1957 the trophy for the winning team was called the Vera Menchik Cup.”
She was inducted to the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2011.
He was winner of second prize in the first international tournament, London 1851. He developed his chess skill in the 1840s, meeting Dubois in Rome, Kieseritzky in Paris, and many players, including Buckle, in London, His style was that of the English school, and he understood well the positional ideas of the English opening and the Sicilian Defence. In 1847 he was elected Member of Parliament for Richmond, Yorkshire, a seat he held until 1868 except for a break of two years. The London 1851 tournament consisted of a series of knock-out matches. After defeating Williams (+4-3) in the third round and losing to Anderssen ( + 2=1-4) in
the fourth and final round, Wyvill was placed second. His score against Anderssen was better than that made by other players (Kieseritzky
“1—2, Szen +2—4, Staunton +1—4), Wyvill had
proved himself one of the leading players of his time. Although he played in no more tournaments he retained an interest in the game throughout his
Regarded by Staunton as “one of the finest players in England”. Wyvill was primarily an enthusiastic amateur of chess, yet in his sole tournament appearance at London 1851 he took second prize behind Anderssen, but ahead of Williams, Staunton, Horwitz, Szen, etc.
In the course of this event Wyvill defeated Lowe by +2-0, Kennedy by +4-3=1 and Williams by +4-3. In the final he succumbed to Anderssen by the honourable score of +2-4=1. At the time of the tournament Wyvill was Member of Parliament for Richmond, Yorkshire.
An adherent of the same playing style as Staunton and Williams, Wyvill possessed a fine appreciation of the English Opening and the Sicilian Defence, both of which he employed to deadly effect in the London tournament.
Long after he had retired from competitive play he retained a great interest in the game and his name appears as one of the members of the General Committee in the book of the London 1883 tournament, together with his contribution to the tournament funds of the sum of £100. £100 in 1883 would be worth £2,500 today.
Here is an example of the Wyvill pawn formation :
The Wyvill formation is a name given by Tarrasch to a pawn formation with doubled pawns as shown above. This formation was not unfamiliar to Wyvill but could with more justification have
been named after Winawer who so frequently doubled his opponent’s c-pawns that this and similar formations became known as his trademark. The technique for attacking the Wyvill formation was also understood by Neumann and before him by Carl Hamppe (1814-76), the leading
Viennese player of the 1850s.
“Alan Phillips, joint British Champion in 1954, was born in England in 1923. He was the author of Chess: 60 Years on with Caissa and Friends (Caissa Editions, 2003) and The Chess Teacher (Cadogan, 1995).”
Here is an item from the Shropshire Chess web site
Here is Alan Phillips autobiography from his own book, Chess: Sixty years on with Caissa & Friends
“Born in Stockport in 1923,I was playing pontoon in an air-raid shelter in the autumn of 1940 with a friend from our school, Stockport Grammar, when he suddenly announced that he knew a better game, being the school chess champion. Ostensibly studying for a Cambridge Scholarship with a view to reading Classics, I played about 200 games with Norman Stephens, emerging the victor perhaps because I studied Alekhine’s and Euwe’s games, obtained from the Public Library, whence I had been borrowing difficult piano works for the previous two years. When I got up to Magdalene in 1941, I found standing next to me in the University Chess Club Wykehamist James Lighthill, destined to become, arguably, our greatest applied mathematician of the second half of the last century; I played chess with him one evening a week and piano duets another, and as Match Captain and Hon.Sec. in my second year – shared top board, while now supposedly reading Italian, as a War Office scheme, and French, languages I unfortunately then considered beneath contempt, compared with the glory that was Greek.
Enrolled but not commissioned – the War Office having ratted on its promise to a large bunch of first-class linguists – in the Army Intelligence Corps from August 1943 to October 1946,I spent nearly three years abroad in Sicily and Palestine, riding a motor-bike – our American equivalents in the CIC were mostly majors or colonels and rode in Cadillacs – and playing, when stationary, much music with singers and violinists, especially in Palestine, and chess with the Captain of the Harbour in Sicily, a charming moustached Neapolitan who got about three draws in 300 games, and then in Haifa, Hadera and Jerusalem chess clubs, beating the youth champion of Palestine and Aloni when he played simultaneously, but losing to Porath, and enjoying ‘skittles’ in cafes with many other players of near-master rank. Demobilised and put, like the Goons, on the Z-reserve in autumn 1946, I went back to Cambridge to read Classics Pt II and found Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, as far as I know our best number theorist of the past fifty years, waiting for me – we tied for the University Championship having begun a series of trips to Hastings with Alan Truscott, and later continued to Birmingham for the Midland Championship, which I won in 1951.
I usually won prizes in increasingly strong sections at Hastings except in two Premiers, 1950-1 and 1954-5, when my emotions were otherwise engaged, as happened in the British Championship in 1952, when, after I had beaten all the best players and scored 7/8 with three rounds to go, a girl-friend turned up and I lost my last three games, refusing a draw in round nine in a not superior position, not out of arrogance, but in order to clinch the title.
Otherwise, with one or two exceptions, I only lost to the strongest players in the British Championships I played in, i.e. 1949-55 and 1961, tying for first place at Nottingham 1954 and coming third equal in a very strong Championship at Aberystwyth 1955, which earned me a place as Board 6 on the English team at the Moscow Olympiad in 1956, where I only drew against Luxembourg, and lost to Geller, but drew in two cases from bad positions with Johner, Sanguinetti and Ghitescu.
In l96l I moved up to Derbyshire, where – though playing top board for Manchester as well as the county – having switched to Maths teaching after several years part-time study at Birkbeck and acquired offspring as well as promotion, I also started annual visits to Dartington Summer School of Music, now totalling 38 out of a possible 40, all of which made it virtually impossible for me to play in tournaments, apart from the odd visit to Hastings or fairly strong week-end tournaments, e.g. Ilford, which I won for the second time in 1973, beating Basman. My responsibilities on my return to London as Head of Charlton School in 1967, where I got Bob Wade to teach chess as part of mathematics in the Lower School, and then of Forest Hill School, where we organised many tournaments, although I played generally as top board for Kent, whom I led twice to victory in the County Championship in 1975 and 1976, meant that I had even less time for tournament chess, except at Islington and in the Challengers, so that my real heyday ended there, with a final move to a ‘quiet’ county, Shropshire – as far as chess was concerned – as Adviser for Secondary Education and Area Adviser, 1976-82, in which capacity I avoided as much paper-work as I could and taught chess in the lunch-hour to all the primary and handicapped pupils I visited. I should say most of my successes at chess have been at County Level, where I played top board for Cambridgeshire and London University, as well as the counties mentioned, and in the very strong London League, as far as I can estimate I had a success rate of some 70% in those contests. In general the games in this book, with one or two exceptions for historical or anecdotal reasons, were played at high levels, and won by the right player, not suddenly lost by a blunder, like some games published nowadays because the blunder is perpetrated by a famous player.
With regard to the general assessment of players and tournaments, I have only one comment “Look at the games!” When even, or especially, David Bronstein wails “They give me a number”, I think it time to end a spuriously precise system and revert to the earlier English practice or the traditional Soviet one of putting players in classes, preferably according to a sufficiently large number of results in tournaments or strong club or county matches. And when players are inhibited, when the match is won, from offering an opponent, who has played well, a draw, that is a diminution of sportsmanship, so a draw, even with Kasparov, should not count in grading. Finally the use of seconds or computers once a game is started should be
regarded as totally unsporting, and players should be put on their honour, as bridge-players are in matters of cheating, not to use them.
I should like to dedicate this book to the memory of my good friends, David Hooper, Stuart Milner-Barry, and A.R.B.Thomas, men of integrity, humour, and many other talents, who brought to their chess the same qualities of courage and sportsmanship they showed in the rest of their lives.
British Master, Joint British Champion 1954
Thorn Cottage, Appleton Thorn, Warrington, Cheshire
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