Category Archives: Birthday

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 IM 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 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 we hope will be followed by at least Volume 2! A review will appear in this place in due course.

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 this  brevity :

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

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Happy Birthday FM Jimmy Adams (07-ii-1947)

Jimmy Adams and Stewart Reuben
Jimmy Adams and Stewart Reuben

BCN sends Birthday wishes to FM Jimmy Adams

James Bernard Adams was born on Friday, February 7th, 1947 to James Adams and Ivy F Soule in Islington, London. He attended Highbury County Grammar School for Boys.

Jimmy was married to Sharon and they have a daughter, Charlotte.

In 1958 Jimmy at the age of 11 joined his local Islington Chess Club (at the time Islington & North London Chess Club) and soon afterwards became a London Junior Champion. Following this Jimmy played little chess and was working for John Lewis (echos of CHO’D Alexander!). Following John Lewis Jimmy worked as a Health and Safety Officer for Islington Council.

At this time Islington Chess Club was one of the strongest in England and included such members as Kenny Harman, Ron Harman, Danny Wright, Stewart Reuben and others. Its most famous member was probably IM Simon Webb

The Spasski-Fischer match of 1972 re-kindled his lapsed interest and he won with a 100% score the London Amateur Championship.

He joined and was a staunch member of London Central YMCA (CentYMCA) chess club and he wrote a privately published history of the club entitled The CentYMCA Story. This is now a much sought after publication. His membership continued during the 1970s until around 1979.

The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976
The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976
The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976
The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976

During this period Jimmy was extremely active at the Endell Street premises.

Here is Jimmy playing Viktor Korchnoi at Endell Street (in the Phase Two classrooms) :

Jimmy plays Viktor Korchnoi at the Endell Street premises of London Central YMCA on January 18th, 1976. Photographer potentially John Yeo
Jimmy plays Viktor Korchnoi at the Endell Street premises of London Central YMCA on January 18th, 1976. Photographer potentially John Yeo

In 1974 Jimmy embarked on a highly successful career as a writer and journalist. He authored a number of acclaimed books for BatsfordsThe Chess PlayerCaissa Books and latterly, New in Chess. His books on Chigorin, Zukertort and Breyer are universally regarded  some of the finest chess biographies published.

In 1979 Jimmy joined Metropolitan Chess Club to play in the London League. He played top board and scored very highly with many significant scalps.

Jimmy gained his FM title in 2014 (at the age of 67!). 67 must be one of the most advanced ages to acquire an FM title. According to Felice his peak rating was 2300 in January 1981 aged 34.

Jimmy giving a simultaneous display
Jimmy giving a simultaneous display

He was registered with Metropolitan and Barbican Chess Clubs. He joined Barbican, as did many CentYMCA players, following the hiatus over their Tottenham Court Road venue loss.

Jimmy records a game between David Howell and Andrew Whiteley in 2000.
Jimmy records a game between David Howell and Andrew Whiteley in 2000.

In December 2009 Jimmy visited the London Chess Classic and was photographed with VIP guess Viktor Korchnoi :

Viktor Korchnoi in conversation with Jimmy Adams at the 2009 London Chess Classic. Photograph by Mark Huba
Viktor Korchnoi in conversation with Jimmy Adams at the 2009 London Chess Classic. Photograph by Mark Huba

Jimmy was Editor of CHESS / CHESS Monthly magazine from 1981 until 2010 although his name remained on the masthead until February 2012.

In 2012 Jimmy and Ray Cannon attended a meeting of the Ken Whyld Association in Norwich :

Jimmy Adams and Michael Negele at the 2012 meeting of the Ken Whyld Association
Jimmy Adams and Michael Negele at the 2012 meeting of the Ken Whyld Association
Jimmy and Ray Cannon at a 2012 meeting in Norwich of the Ken Whyld Association
Jimmy and Ray Cannon at a 2012 meeting in Norwich of the Ken Whyld Association

In January 2016 Jimmy (together with Josip Asik) became co-editors of British Chess Magazine taking over from James Pratt and John Upham. Jimmy then took on a role at the newly created American Chess Magazine and then worked for Pavillion Books on their newly acquired Batsford Book imprint.

In 2014 Jimmy and Ray attended an event organised by the father of Emma Bentley

Jimmy Adams and Ray Cannon at an event organised by Emma Bentley's father.
Jimmy Adams and Ray Cannon at an event organised by Emma Bentley’s father.

Here is an interview with Sarah Hurst from Kingpin Magazine

The Games of Anatoly Karpov, Batsford, Jimmy Adams, 1974
The Games of Anatoly Karpov, Batsford, Jimmy Adams, 1974
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
Sicilian Defence Najdorf Poisoned Pawn, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1977
Sicilian Defence Najdorf Poisoned Pawn, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1977
Sicilian Defence 10 : Main Line Najdorf, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1977
Sicilian Defence 10 : Main Line Najdorf, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1977
Sicilian Najdorf Polugaevsky Variation, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1978
Sicilian Najdorf Polugaevsky Variation, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1978
The Richter Veresov System, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1978
The Richter Veresov System, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1978
Trompovsky Attack, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1979
Trompovsky Attack, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1979
Schliemann/Jaenisch Gambit, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1982
Schliemann/Jaenisch Gambit, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1982
Paris 1900, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1986
Paris 1900, The Chess Player, Jimmy Adams, 1986
ISAAC BOLESLAVSKY Selected Games, Caissa Books, Jimmy Adams, 1988
ISAAC BOLESLAVSKY Selected Games, Caissa Books, Jimmy Adams, 1988
Johannes Zukertort: Artist of the Chessboard, New in Chess, Jimmy Adams, 2014
Johannes Zukertort: Artist of the Chessboard, New in Chess, Jimmy Adams, 2014
Mikhail Chigorin, the Creative Genius: New in Chess, Jimmy Adams, 2016
Mikhail Chigorin, the Creative Genius: New in Chess, Jimmy Adams, 2016
Gyula Breyer : The Chess Revolutionary, Jimmy Adams, New in Chess, 2017
Gyula Breyer : The Chess Revolutionary, Jimmy Adams, New in Chess, 2017
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Happy 90th FM Michael Franklin (02-ii-1931) !

FM Michael Franklin, Photo by Cathy Rogers
FM Michael Franklin, Photo by Cathy Rogers

We send best wishes to Michael Franklin on his 90th birthday.

Growing Up

Michael John Franklin was born on Monday, February 2nd, 1931 in Battersea, London to Albert George (27 ix 1906, Dover – ? iii 1983, Wandsworth) and Helen Ann Franklin (née Colson, 1908-2003) who married in the third quarter of 1928 in Wandsworth.  Albert was a clerk as was his father.

At the commencement of the Second World War, when eight years old, Michael was evacuated to Frome in Somerset. As a consequence Michael would delight in playing in the Frome Congress whenever possible. He played in the first event in 1990 organised by Leon York  (whose name is the memorial trophy for the Major section).  The story of Michael’s return to Frome made its’ way in to the local newspaper and was reported by Gary Lane as follows :

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CX (110, 1990), Number 7 (July), page 296 :

“A special presentation by the sponsor, Mrs. Jean Mackereth, Managing Director of Keyford Frames, was made to Londoner Michael Franklin, who was returning for the first time in 51 years to the town to which he was evacuated during the war. His final appearance at Frome was in the 2010 event.

The Early Years

Michaels interest in chess started in 1944 aged 13 when he witnessed games being played on Clapham Common. He was fascinated by the pieces and taught himself to play, never receiving  any formal coaching. He joined the Clapham Common Chess Club in 1944. (CCCC became incorporated into Battersea Chess Club some time later).

CHECK MATES: Elderly members of the Clapham Common Open Air Chess and Draughts Club, circa 1920. The club met regularly during the afternoons to play on Clapham Common in south London. Copyright : Keystone
CHECK MATES: Elderly members of the Clapham Common Open Air Chess and Draughts Club, circa 1920. The club met regularly during the afternoons to play on Clapham Common in south London. Copyright : Keystone

Apart from summer events such as the above the club had a Winter Section that played matches in the London League. The club won the first division (now known as the Brian Smith Trophy) of the London League in the 1946-47 and 1947-48 seasons. Michael played his final game in the London Chess League for Richmond & Twickenham on April 14th 2010 drawing with John Hodgson,  giving a sixty year span.

In his formative years he played at the Gambit Chess Café, Budge Row,  Cannon Street, London, EC4N. Many strong players regularly visited the Gambit to play skittles, blitz and the frequently held lightning tournaments hosted by the proprietor Mr GH White.

Events such as these enabled Michael to develop his quick sight of the board and his flair for tactical play.

Leonard Barden added :

“Michael made his name as a young player first by his successes in the Saturday evening Gambit Guinea speed events at the Gambit Chess Café in Cannon Street which he often won ahead of master level rivals. He remained a strong speed player all his life.”

In the early 1950s Michael was persuaded by his friends Aird Thomson (who was Scottish Boys’ Champion in 1932, and 1933 ( equal-first). In 1951 he was Scottish Champion. In 1954 he moved to London. He married Susan Mary Hamilton in 1961 who went on to become Scottish Ladies’ Champion in 1965.) and oriental carpet expert Robert Pinner to join the Richmond and Twickenham Chess Club  playing for the club in the London League, Surrey Trophy  and National Club Championship until he retired from competitive play 2010.

Making Progress

Michael’s first appearance in British Chess Magazine was in Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February). Page 52 contained this report of the 1945 London Boy’s Championship in which Michael reached the final A section :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February), page 52
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February), page 52

Michael’s club (for this event) is recorded as Hammersmith Arts and Crafts School.

On leaving school  Michael joined a firm of Patent Agents remaining in their employ in the accounts department for around forty years before retiring in the late 1980s. His retirement was prompted by the firm’s adoption of electronic computers. When he retired he was Chief Cashier.

On June 18th 1960 Michael’s happiest day was when he married Jean Fey. They celebrated  their diamond anniversary in 2020.

To the present day Michael has maintained an aversion toward modern technology. He did, however, concede to the ownership of a mobile telephone. This was for the specific purpose of updating Jean on his days progress in any chess tournaments where he was away from home.

In 1946 (aged 15) Michael won the Felce Cup awarded by the Surrey County Chess Association. A result indicating rapid improvement since Michael had only started playing competitively in 1944.

The Felce Cup held by the hands of Stephen Moss in 2014
The Felce Cup held by the hands of Stephen Moss in 2014

In 1951 Michael finished third in the Surrey Championships behind the winner Frank Parr and runner-up David Hooper. In 1961, 1966, 1968, 1969 and 1970 Michael won the Surrey Championship outright and made many appearences in county matches for Surrey from 1950 onwards until 2010.

Unfortunately Michael’s rapid progress was threatened by two bouts of ill health. In 1948 aged 17 Michael was diagnosed with Tuberculosis which lasted for eighteen months including a twelve month stay in the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Aged twenty the TB returned leading to yet another twelve months illness.

Michael has suffered from ill health all of his life interrupting his chess career at various times. Fortunately the TB has not returned.

Michael won the National Chess Centre Championship in 1953 and 1955 being runner-up in 1954. The venue was Hill’s Restaurant, 158 Bishopsgate, London, EC2 opposite Liverpool Street Station since the original John Lewis department store venue was bombed in 1940.

Results from the 1955 event:

1-2 Franklin, Fazekas 3.5/5
3 Fuller 3/5
4 Barden 2.5/5
5 Parr 1/5
6 Green 0.5/5

Michael won the play-off 2-0.

The British Chess Federation first published a National Grading list in 1953 (using the Richard Clarke system). In the 1954 list MF appeared with a grade of 2A (225-232) and from then on with a grade of either 2A or 2B. In 1964 a numeric system had him at 225 ranking Michael 4th in England behind Penrose 244, Kottnauer 238 and Clarke 231.

Michael played many times in the annual Battle of Britain Tournament organised by Squadron Leader David Pritchard and his committee. He won it four times : 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962.

The Ilford Whitsun Congress

The Ilford Whitsun Congress was a regular part of Michael’s season throughout the sixties. He won the Premier Reserves in 1961 ahead of Hilton, Hindle, Howson, Sales and Blaine and was runner-up to Kottnauer in 1962.  In 1963 he went one step better by winning the Premier :

A report of Mike Franklin's success at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress by Peter Clarke. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 193
A report of Mike Franklin’s success at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress by Peter Clarke. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 193

and here is the fifth round game :

In his tournament report PH Clarke wrote :

This buoyant, optimistic attitude of his is a great strength and always makes him a dangerous opponent.

Away from Home : International Progress

1964 saw selection by the BCF to play in the Tel Aviv Olympiad :

The 1964 England Olympiad (Tel Aviv) Team : Owen Hindle, Čeněk Kottnauer, Peter Clarke, Michael Franklin, Norman Littlewood & Michael Haygarth
The 1964 England Olympiad (Tel Aviv) Team : Owen Hindle, Čeněk Kottnauer, Peter Clarke, Michael Franklin, Norman Littlewood & Michael Haygarth

and scored a creditable 4/6.  This was followed in 1965 with 3/5 in Clare Benedict tournament held in Berlin.

He played in the annual Anglo-Dutch match on no less than six occasions in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and finally in 1969. His aggregate score was an impressive 8/12.

Hugh Alexander, Čeněk Kottnauer, Michael Franklin and Owen Hindle
Hugh Alexander, Čeněk Kottnauer, Michael Franklin and Owen Hindle

On the national scene Michael repeated his 1963 victory at the 1969 Ilford Premier with a clear first place : Franklin 4; RG Wade and D Wright 3; JB Howson 2.5; BH Wood 2; PH Clarke 0.5.

In 1970 Michael won the London Championship which was also known as the Budget Cup which had last been held in 1956 .  He followed this in 1972 by rightly earning the (now defunct) title of British Master.

Michael’s final appearance for England was in 1971 in the Cheltenham based Anglo-German match with a somewhat disappointing 0.5/2 against Juergen Dueball.

Owen Hindle, Michael Franklin, Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth
Owen Hindle, Michael Franklin, Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth

Michael played board two for London in a Telex match versus Belgrade playing Marjanovic.  The game was drawn.

Michael Franklin playing board two in the London - Belgrade Telex Match on April 3rd, 1976 from the St. James Hotel, Buckingham Gate. Sourced from BCM, Volume XCVI (96), Number 5, page 192. Photographer probably Freddy Reilly.
Michael Franklin playing board two in the London – Belgrade Telex Match on April 3rd, 1976 from the St. James Hotel, Buckingham Gate. Sourced from BCM, Volume XCVI (96), Number 5, page 192. Photographer probably Freddy Reilly.

The Ultimate Prize : The Aaronson Masters

The Aaronson Masters at Harrow 1978 brought his best individual success at the age of 47, sharing first place with IM Aldo Haik of France and to boot, earning  an IM norm.

Joint winners of the 1978 Aaronson Masters : Michael Franklin and IM Aldo Haik
Joint winners of the 1978 Aaronson Masters : Michael Franklin and IM Aldo Haik

Michael scored an undefeated 7.5/10 and finished ahead of Short, Speelman, Nunn, Hartston, Mestel, Webb, Basman, Botterill and numerous other illustrious players.  Michael remarked of his lifetime best result that it was

just one of those occasions when everything went right!

But he scored 3.5/5 against the IMs, was alert to every opportunity, and the games show he owed little to luck.

Leonard Barden, Stewart Reuben and Michael Franklin at the 1978 Aaronson Masters
Leonard Barden, Stewart Reuben and Michael Franklin at the 1978 Aaronson Masters

Like many others Michael made appearences in Lloyds Bank events of 1977, 1978, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1994.

Michael Franklin (left) at the Lloyds Bank Masters playing IGM Leonid Shamkovich
Michael Franklin (left) at the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters playing IGM Leonid Shamkovich
Michael and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters
Michael and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters

The Hastings Years

Michael first played at Hastings in 1964 when he was invited to play in the Premier Tournament. The tournament was won by Mikhail Tal and Michael finished in last place.

Undaunted he returned to Hastings in 1968 to play in the Challengers tournament. One of the attractions of playing in the Challengers was that the winner received a place the following years Premier. Frustratingly Michael finished second three years in a row! In 1968 the Challengers was won by Danny Wright, in 1969 by Martyn Corden and in 1970 by Peter Markland. Finally, in 1971 his patience was rewarded and he won the Challengers and qualified to the following years Premier.

The 47th Hastings Premier of 1971-72 had been changed from the traditional 10 player all-play-all to a 16 player tournament. Also, having obtained sponsorship from various organisations the committee were able to invite some of the top names of the day. The sponsors were:

  • Jim Slater
  • The Friends of Chess
  • The British Chess Federation
  • Bovis Holdings Ltd
  • Hastings County Borough Council

So, the entry included Karpov, Korchnoi, Andersson, Najdorf, Mecking, Gligoric, Unzicker and Robert Byrne to name but a few. This was undoubtedly the strongest Hastings Premier since World War Two and possibly the strongest Hastings Tournament since 1895.

Michael started well with a draw against the Rumanian GM Ciocaltea followed by a draw in with the Brazilian prodigy Mecking. In round three he surprised everyone by beating Ray Keene. With 2/3 things were looking promising. However, after this bright start Michael only managed a draw against Unzicker and a draw with Hartston finishing in a disappointing last place with a score of 3/15.

In the tournament report Peter Clarke opined

Franklin suffered the usual fate of the gifted amateur in a professional field of simply not being accustomed to this kind of chess.

Despite this Michael continued to play in the Hastings Challengers. He played in nineteen out of the next twenty-five years! He came close to winning the tournament in 1982: he was leading the tournament with a score of 7/8 when he was informed that Jean’s Father had passed away. Having drawn his ninth round game and needing only a draw in the last round to ensure at least a tie for first place he withdrew from the tournament and immediately left for home.

The Weekend Scene

Like all players with a full time job Michael had to play most of his chess at the weekend so the explosion of weekends tournaments in the early 1970’s gave him ample opportunities. His habit of playing quickly was ideally suited to the fast time limits of the weekend tournament. During the 1970 and 1980’s he was very successful. He won numerous events and was more often than not in the prize list.

FM Michael Franklin, Photo by Cathy Rogers
FM Michael Franklin, Photo by Cathy Rogers

In later years he restricted himself to London based tournaments and those in the West Country. His regular tournaments being Exeter, Torquay and old favourite, Frome. Michael at the age of 78 shared first place at Frome 2009. Frome 2010 was his farewell appearance.

FM Michael Franklin
FM Michael Franklin

Michael played for a number of clubs viz : Richmond & Twickenham, Coulsdon CF, Surrey CCA, 4NCL Richmond, 4NCL Bristol and Richards Butler to name but a few.

Finally, in 1980,  Michael was awarded the FIDE Master title and achieved his highest rating (in the Elo era) of 2345 in January 1979. It is most likely that his highest ever rating would have been more like 2450.

FM Michael Franklin vs Paul Helbig
FM Michael Franklin vs Paul Helbig

Appropriately enough Michael was the inaugural winner of the BCF/ECF Senior Prix in 2000 and won it again in 2002 and 2003. The event last ran in 2006.

When Surrey won the counties championship a few years back the team took the trophy around to Michael’s home in Norbury, such was their regard for his contributions.

The London System

Any currently active club player cannot have missed the explosive rise to prominence of the system for White he developed :

The London System and Accelerated London System has acquired a huge cohort of followers in recent times probably not realising the debt they (and many authors, book and DVD publishers!) owe to Michael. If only he could have earnt a royalty every time it was played!

Also Michael had notable success as Black with the O’Kelly Sicilian 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6.

Life Outside of Chess

Michael had many interests apart from Chess. He was for many years a member of the Surrey County Cricket Club. After he retired he would arrange to meet fellow Surrey Member Frank Parr at the Oval and after lunch in the Pavilion they would spend the day enjoying the Cricket. Tennis was another sport that Michael followed. Michael was also interested in horseracing. Several players were surprised when visiting one of the racetracks around London to find Michael also attending the race meeting.

Michael was the typical “natural” player. He never studied the game and his only sources of opening information were the British Chess Magazine and the chess columns in The Times and the Guardian. He never kept the scores of his games. Once the game was finished it was time to move on. One of Michael’s greatest strengths was his optimistic attitude at the chessboard. No matter how bad the position he was confident of ultimate success.

Michael Franklin receives £220 from Councillor Robert Dickson at the 1980 Nottinghamshire Congress
Michael Franklin receives £220 from Councillor Robert Dickson at the 1980 Nottinghamshire Congress
Caption for above photograph
Caption for above photograph
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Happy Birthday GM Raymond Keene OBE (29-i-1948)

Raymond Keene, World Junior Championship, Tel-Aviv, 1967
Raymond Keene, World Junior Championship, Tel-Aviv, 1967

We send birthday wishes to GM Raymond Keene OBE.

Raymond Dennis Keene was born on Thursday, January 29th 1948 in Wandsworth, London to Dennis Arthur and Doris Anita Keene (née Leat). Dennis and Doris were married in 1943 in Camberwell. Doris was born on May 27th, 1921 in Lambeth and was a shorthand and invoice typist.

Dennis and Doris also had a daughter Jackie Keene who later married chess historian, RG Eales. Jackie is Emeritus Professor at The University of Kent in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Jackie played in the Glorney Cup.

Raymond Keene
Raymond Keene

Ray was educated at Dulwich College between 1959 and 1966 thereby becoming an Old Alleynian. In 1967 Ray went up to Trinity College, Cambridge to study Modern Languages specialising in German and graduating with an MA. Amongst their Alumni are five spies including Blunt, Burgess and Philby. During the gap between Dulwich College and Cambridge Ray (aged 18) wrote his first (and one of his best) book : Flank Openings :

Flank Openings, Raymond Keene, British Chess Magazine, 1967.
Flank Openings, Raymond Keene, British Chess Magazine, 1967.

Being published at the age of 19 this must be close to the earliest age an English player has had a chess book published that was not ghost written. (Leave a comment if you know differently!)

Following this legendary tome Ray collaborated with Leonard Barden and Bill Hartston on The King’s Indian Defence from BT Batsford Ltd:

The King's Indian Defence, Barden, Keene and Hartston, BT Batsford, 1969.
The King’s Indian Defence, Barden, Keene and Hartston, BT Batsford, 1969.

and in 1972 we have

The Modern Defence, BT Batsford, 1972, GS Botterill and RD Keene
The Modern Defence, BT Batsford, 1972, GS Botterill and RD Keene

followed in 1973 by

The Pirc Defence, BT Batsford, 1973, GS Botterill and RD Keene
The Pirc Defence, BT Batsford, 1973, GS Botterill and RD Keene

All of which were favourably received helping Batsford to establish a strong reputation.

In July 1974 Ray married ex-ballerina (and now Dance Teacher) Annette Sara Goodman in Brighton, East Sussex. Annette became a director of World Memory Championships International Limited on January 17th 2008 and resigned on April 9th 2008. They have one son, Alexander Phillip Simon Keene, born in 1991. Godfather to Alexander is Scottish International, IM David Levy.

Annette is the sister of IM David Simon Charles Goodman who now resides in New York.

Also in 1974 George Bell & Sons published Ray’s most acclaimed work (and arguably his best) : Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal

Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal, RD Keene, George Bell & Sons, 1974
Aron Nimzowitsch: A Reappraisal, RD Keene, George Bell & Sons, 1974

Alexander is currently the Company Secretary of the aforementioned company, Julian (a retired teacher from Brighton) is another active director.

In 1985 Ray became the sixth British chess player to be awarded the OBE when it was awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. The citation read “For Services to Chess”.

According to Companies House Ray has held a total of 30 directorships in various companies such as :

  • Brain Plan 2020
  • World Mind Mapping Championships
  • World Speed Reading Championships
  • Buzan International Technology
  • Buzan World
  • The World is My Oyster
  • World Memory Championships
  • Intelligent Resources and Services
  • Outside in Pathways
  • UK Primary Schools Memory Championships
  • UK Schools Memory Championships
  • The School Memory Championships
  • The Schools Memory Championship
  • Mental Literacy for All
  • Festival of the Mind
  • Festival of the Mind International
  • The Brain Trust
  • Impala (London)
  • Tony Buzan International
  • World Memory Championships International
  • World Peace and Prosperity Foundation
  • Zeticula
  • Mind Masters Management
  • Intellectual Leisure
  • Brain Sports Olympiad
  • Mind Sports Promotions

(Our particular favourite has to be the unpretentiously entitled “World Peace and Prosperity Foundation” although “The World is My Oyster” runs it a close second.)

Ray, Annette and Julian Simpole currently live in Clapham Common North Side, London, England.

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by David Hooper and Ken Whyld :

Ray Keene
Ray Keene

English player and author, British champion 1971, From 1966 he played in several Olympiads and his performance in two of them, Nice 1974 ( + 7=6-2) and Haifa 1976 (+4=6), gained him the title of International Grandmaster (1976). His best tournament win was at Dortmund 1980 (category 8), He studied the games and teaching of Staunton and Nimzowitsch and revealed with unusual insight the strategy of the former and the stratagems of the latter in two books: Staunton : the English World Champion (1975) and Nimzowitsch: a Reappraisal (1974). He also wrote Flank Openings (3rd edn, 1979); these openings are the ones which he prefers to play, which he knows best, and which suit his solid positional style.

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

International Master (1972), British Champion in 1971 and a regular member of the British team since 1966 playing on top board on a number of occasions.

Ray Keene
Ray Keene

Raymond Keene was born on 29th January 1948 in London and learned to play chess at the age of six. He began to play seriously when he was thirteen. While at Dulwich College from 1959 -1966 he played top bard for the school team which won the Sunday Times National Schools’ Chess Tournament in 1965 and 1966.

English chess player Raymond Keene, winner of the 1971 British Chess Championship, posed in London on 6th June 1972. Raymond Keene has been awarded the chess title International Master. (Photo by Harry Dempster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
English chess player Raymond Keene, winner of the 1971 British Chess Championship, posed in London on 6th June 1972. Raymond Keene has been awarded the chess title International Master. (Photo by Harry Dempster/Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1964, he won the London and British Boys’ Under 18 Championship (ed : In fact, the title was shared with Brian Denman) and the following year, at the age of seventeen, he became the youngest player to win the Surrey Championship. While at Cambridge he graduated in German Literature (B.A. Honours), he played top board for the university.

Brian Reilly, Ray Keene, George Botterill, Anatoly Karpov, Harry Golombek and Viktor Korchnoi
Brian Reilly, Ray Keene, George Botterill, Anatoly Karpov, Harry Golombek and Viktor Korchnoi

During his chess career, he has beaten both Botvinnik and Gligoric, In 1967, he came 2nd in the World Junior Championship and in 1968 he won the prize for the best score on board 4 in the Lugano Olympiad.

Raymond Denis Keene
Raymond Keene

A difficult player to beat, Keene played in four British Championships without losing a game and also went through the Lugano and Siegen Olympiads unbeaten in 33 games.

At Oxford in 1973, Keene set up what he believes is an English speed record for simultaneous chess, scoring 100 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss in 4.5 hours.

Raymond Denis Keene
Raymond Keene

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

“British Grandmaster, British Champion 1971, Keene was born in London and was both London Boy Champion and British Junior Champion in 1964 (ed : In fact, the title was shared with Brian Denman).

Educated at Dulwich College and Trinity College, Cambridge, he soon became recognised, along with Hartston, as one of the two leading younger players in England. His style of play was different from that of his rival, being more complicated and less direct; but, like Hartston, he became a most formidable opening theorist with a vast knowledge of opening theory.

His first Olympiad was at Havana 1966 where he was the youngest member of the side and scored 65% on board six. In 1968 at Lugano he obtained 76.5% on board four and in 1970 at Siegen, playing on board two in the preliminaries and board one in the finals he score 68.8%.

Raymond Denis Keene
Raymond Keene

The year 1971 saw a double achievement, for in that year he won the British Championship at Blackpool and also secured the title of International Master.

Playing on top board in the 1972 Olympiad at Skopje, he scored 11.5 out of 20.

Ray & friend
Ray & friend

In 1974 he came 6th in a very strong Hastings tournament and then won first prize in the Capablanca Memorial Masters in Cuba. At the Nice Olympiad he scored 66.66% on 2nd board, attaining the first leg of the grandmaster norm. At Mannheim 1975 he was 3rd in the German Open championship and in that year he also came 2nd at Alicante. In 1976 he was 2nd at the Aarhus tournament in Denmark. He finished a most successful year in international chess by fulfilling the second grandmaster norm on 2nd board in the Haifa Olympiad, thereby becoming England’s second international grandmaster (after Tony Miles). (Harry Golombek)”

Ray was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1966-67 season.

Here is his extensive Wikipedia article

Noted historian Olimpu G Urcan writes on Alekhine versus Keene

and Edward Winter writes extensively about Ray’s journalistic activities

and finally, Keenipedia. A web site created by his many admirers…

Murray Chandler, Ray Keene and Miguel Najdorf
Murray Chandler, Ray Keene and Miguel Najdorf
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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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Happy Birthday FM David Cummings (24-i-1961)

IM David H Cummings
IM David H Cummings

Birthday of FM David H Cummings (24-i-1961)

David Cummings (front, second from right) at a Lloyds Bank event
David Cummings (front, second from right) at a Lloyds Bank event

This was written about David who was 18 just prior to the 1979 Spassky vs the BCF Junior squad simultaneous display :

“Varndean and Brighton. Rating 207. British men’s championship finalist, 1977. First Danish junior international championship, 1978.”

At the Lloyds Bank Masters : Front (l-r) : Joel Benjamin, Ian Wells, Rear : Peter Morrish, Stewart Reuben, Richard Beville, Gary Senior, Richard Webb, John Hawksworth, Andrew King, Nigel Short, Mark Ginsburg, Daniel King, David Cummings, Erik Teichmann, John Brandford and Micheal Pagden
At the Lloyds Bank Masters : Front (l-r) : Joel Benjamin, Ian Wells, Rear : Peter Morrish, Stewart Reuben, Richard Beville, Gary Senior, Richard Webb, John Hawksworth, Andrew King, Nigel Short, Mark Ginsburg, Daniel King, David Cummings, Erik Teichmann, John Brandford and Micheal Pagden

David was joint (with PG Large) Southern Counties (SCCU) champion in the 1979-80 season.

IM David H Cummings
IM David H Cummings
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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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