Category Archives: Birthday

Happy Birthday IM Paul Littlewood (18-i-1956)

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

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to Paul Littlewood

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roll of Honour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul gives a simultaneous display in Letchworth.

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

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Happy Birthday IM George Botterill (08-I-1949)

IM George Steven Botterill (08-I-1949) by Nigel Eddis
IM George Steven Botterill (08-I-1949) by Nigel Eddis

We send birthday wishes to IM George Steven Botterill born on this day (January 8th) in 1949.

Here is his Wikipedia page

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

and here is his academic page

Capa vs Corzo Rerun ? Nigel Short had 1977 British Champion George Botterill on the ropes at The National Bank of Dubai Open. In the photo Nigel is considering 42 Rh5 The champ just escaped with a draw.
Capa vs Corzo Rerun ? Nigel Short had 1977 British Champion George Botterill on the ropes at The National Bank of Dubai Open. In the photo Nigel is considering 42 Rh5 The champ just escaped with a draw.

IM George Steven Botterill (08-I-1949)
IM George Steven Botterill (08-I-1949)
The Modern Defence, BT Batsford, 1972, GS Botterill and RD Keene
The Modern Defence, BT Batsford, 1972, GS Botterill and RD Keene
The Pirc Defence, BT Batsford, 1973, GS Botterill and RD Keene
The Pirc Defence, BT Batsford, 1973, GS Botterill and RD Keene
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. Editors : GS Botterill, DNL Levy, JM Rice and MJ Richardson
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. Editors : GS Botterill, DNL Levy, JM Rice and MJ Richardson
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Happy Birthday GM Keith Arkell (08-i-1961)

Keith Arkell, London Chess Classic 2021, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Keith Arkell, London Chess Classic 2021, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

We send birthday wishes to GM Keith Arkell, born this day (January 8th) in 1961.

Keith Arkell
Keith Arkell

Here is Keith’s Wikipedia entry

GM Keith Arkell (ENG)
GM Keith Arkell (ENG)

This was written about Keith aged 18 prior to the 1979 Spassky vs the BCF Junior Squad simultaneous display :

“Rednal, Birmingham. Rating 188. 2nd Lloyds Bank junior international, 1979.”

GM Keith Arkell
GM Keith Arkell

Keith was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 2014-15 season sharing with Jonathan Hawkins

Keith finally secured the Grandmaster title in 1995 as a result of the final leg of the French League Championship. Keith gained the IM title in 1985 and then made his three norms at Ostend 1990, Parthenay in France in 1993, and in the French League finishing in March. He became England’s 26th holder of the GM title.
On August 8th 2021 Keith became the 2nd British Online Champion

Here is an interview with ChessBase from 2016.

GM Keith Arkell
GM Keith Arkell

Arkell's Odyssey
Arkell’s Odyssey
Arkell's Endings, Keith Arkell, GingerGM, 2020, ISBN-10 : 1527265595
Arkell’s Endings, Keith Arkell, GingerGM, 2020, ISBN-10 : 1527265595

BCN has reviewed Arkell’s Endings in depth

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Happy Birthday GM Luke McShane (07-I-1984)

GM Luke James McShane
GM Luke James McShane

We send best wishes to GM Luke James McShane on his birthday, this day (January 7th) in 1984.

Here is Luke’s Wikipedia entry

Luke James McShane
Luke James McShane

Luke James McShane
Luke James McShane
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Happy Birthday IM (elect) Jonah Willow (30-xii-2002)

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

Happy Birthday IM (elect) Jonah Willow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jonah’s current (December 2021) FIDE standard play rating is 2381 and Jonah became a FIDE Master in 2018.

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

With the white pieces Jonah is a committed 1.e4 player but he has scored 83% with 1.Nc3! first played by JH Blackburne against Noa in 1883 and named after Timothy A Dunst.

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

and

GM Varuzhan Akobian :

Jonah plays the Four Knights game with white.

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

He has his own Twitch TV channel.

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

Jonah has achieved three IM norms at

1° Grandiscacchi Cattolica International 2022, 1st EJOCA Forest Hall Invitational 2021 and Dublin 2021.

FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
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Happy Birthday IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar (26-xii-1959)

IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar
IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar

Vaidyanathan Ravikumar (“Ravi” to his friends) was born in Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu, India on Saturday, December 26th, 1959. On this day Nelson Rockefeller announced that he would not seek the Republican Party nomination for 1960.

Ravi credits his father N. Vaidyanathan for help with his early chess development.

An early image of Vaidyanathan Ravikumar from page 81 of Ulf Andersson's Decisive Games
An early image of Vaidyanathan Ravikumar from page 81 of Ulf Andersson’s Decisive Games

In 1978 Ravi won the Asian Junior Championships in Tehran and was awarded the International Master title as a consequence. Ravi was India’s second International Master : Manuel Aaron was the first in 1961.

"Ravi" at the 2013 UKCC Terafinal at Loughborough Grammar School, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
“Ravi” at the 2013 UKCC Terafinal at Loughborough Grammar School, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

His earliest recorded game in Megabase 2020 was from the 3rd of September 1978 and was from the World Under-20 Championships in Graz, Austria. The event was won by Sergei Dolamatov and Ravi finished =25th on 6.5/13. The following year (Norway, 1979) Ravi improved to =12th with 7.5/13 and the title was won by Yasser Seirawan. James Plaskett was =3rd.

Ravi at the UKCC Southern Gigafinal 2014 at the Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Ravi at the UKCC Southern Gigafinal 2014 at the Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

By now ( 1979) Ravi had graduated from The University of Madras with a degree in commerce and relocated to England seeking more playing opportunities. He played in his first Lloyd’s Bank Open in 1979.

Ravi and IM Andrew Martin providing the commentary for the 2015 British Championships in Warwick. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Ravi and IM Andrew Martin providing the commentary for the 2015 British Championships in Warwick. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Ravi made his first appearance for India in an Olympiad at Valetta, Malta 1980. In 1981 he was runner-up to Bjarke Sahl in the 6th North Sea Cup followed by a creditable equal 10th in the 68th British Championships at Morecambe won by Paul Littlewood. In round eight he played this attractive game against Daniel King. Notes by PC Griffiths :

IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar v. Vassily Smyslov, Lloyds Bank Open, round 6, 30th August 1981. The game was drawn in 33 moves.
IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar v. Vassily Smyslov, Lloyds Bank Open, round 6, 30th August 1981. The game was drawn in 33 moves.

In 1982 Ravi scored a creditable =3rd at the 1982 British Championships (Mile’s year) in Torquay including wins over Basman, Muir and Plaskett :

Cross table for the 1982 British Championship in Torquay
Cross table for the 1982 British Championship in Torquay

1983 included an excellent win over James Tarjan at the Lloyds Bank Open but Danny King got revenge for his 1981 defeat!

Ravi at the closing ceremony of the 2014 British Championships at Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Ravi at the closing ceremony of the 2014 British Championships at Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Ravi’s second Olympiad appearance for India came at Thessaloniki, Greece in 1984. This year provided Ravi’s highest FIDE rating of 2415 in January.

IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar and friends at the 1990 NatWest Young Masters
IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar and friends at the 1990 NatWest Young Masters

Ravi continued to be active as a player until 2000 when he started a career in coaching. He was the National Coach of the Emirates for eight years and has accompanied the ECF junior chess team to World Youth Chess Championships in 2014, held in Al Ain, UAE.

Ravi at the 2014 British Championships at Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Ravi at the 2014 British Championships at Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

According to Spectrum Chess Calculation : “He is an experienced chess coach and provides chess coaching in 10 schools in Hertfordshire”

His first book was Karpov’s Best Games, Chess Check, 1984.

Following that Ravi wrote a biographical work on Ulf Andersson :

Ulf Andersson's Decisive Games, IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Peja International, 1985.
Ulf Andersson’s Decisive Games, IM Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Peja International, 1985.

and then

Play the Benko Gambit, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Pergamon Press, 1991
Play the Benko Gambit, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Pergamon Press, 1991

followed by

The Closed Sicilian, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Tournament Chess, 1993
The Closed Sicilian, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Tournament Chess, 1993
Chess Tactics Quiz Book, Chess Check, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, 2004
Chess Tactics Quiz Book, Chess Check, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, 2004

and most recently

Spectrum Chess Calculation, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Chess Check, 2011
Spectrum Chess Calculation, Vaidyanathan Ravikumar, Chess Check, 2011

There were also works on Anatoly Karpov and Jan Timman as well as works on the Caro-Kann Defence.

Ravi is also India’s first vegan IM!

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Seasons and Birthday Greetings to WIM Rita Atkins (25-xii-1969)

WIM Rita Atkins, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
WIM Rita Atkins, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes Happy Birthday (and seasonal greetings) to WIM Rita Atkins (25-xii-1969)

Rita Zimmersmann was born on Thursday, December 25th 1969 in Hungary.

She became a Women’s International Master in 1992.

Her peak FIDE rating according to Felice was 2225 in January 1998 aged 29, however according to MegaBase 2020 her peak rating was 2280 in July 1992 aged 23.

Rita has played for the Cambridgeshire CCA and 4NCL Blackthorne Russia.

Rita’s first recorded game in Megabase 2020 was runner-up the 5th Schoeneck Under-18 Girl’s Open with 5.5/7.

In 1990 she was =runner-up with 6/9 in the Aarhus Women’s tournament.

She was =1st in the Budapest Women’s IM tournament securing a norm.

Crosstable for the 1991 Budapest IM Women's tournament
Crosstable for the 1991 Budapest IM Women’s tournament

In 1992 she became Hungarian Women’s champion with 8/11 :

Crosstable for 1992 Hungarian Women's Championship
Crosstable for 1992 Hungarian Women’s Championship

With the white pieces Rita both 1.e4 and 1.d4 playing open Sicilians, the Trompowsky Attack and the Accelerated London System.

As the second player she plays the Sicilian Four Knights, the Modern Benoni and recently, the Czech System.

WIM Rita Atkins, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
WIM Rita Atkins, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

In 1997 Rita relocated to England and played in her first 4NCL weekend for Slough. She married IM Michael Hennigan and settled in London.

By 2014 Rita had transferred to Blackthorne in the Four Nations Chess League and had become Rita Atkins.

In the last few years Rita has become active in the field of chess education and has combined her interests of mathematics and chess especially in the teaching of children. She has presented at various London Chess Conferences and works with John Foley within ChessPlus.

WIM Rita Atkins at the 2016 London Chess Conference  : The Didactics of Chess, Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
WIM Rita Atkins at the 2016 London Chess Conference : The Didactics of Chess, Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
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Happy Birthday IM Graeme Buckley (25-xii-1971)

IM Graeme Buckley, London Chess Classic, 2021, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Graeme Buckley, London Chess Classic, 2021, courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN sends best wishes to Graeme Buckley on his birthday.

Graeme Noel Buckley was born on Saturday, December 25th, 1971 in Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

His first chess club was Bushbury which is also known as Bilston Sports & Social Club Ltd. His father David is the long time club President.

Graeme’s first recorded games in Megabase 2020 were at the 1987 British Championship in Swansea were he scored a modest 4/11.

Graeme married IM Susan Lalic in Sutton, Surrey in 2001 and they reside in Sutton. They have two daughters, Lucy and Emma who attend Nonsuch High School for Girls following in the footsteps of their mother.

Graeme became a FIDE Master in 1994 and an International Master in 1995.

IM Graeme Buckley, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Graeme Buckley, courtesy of John Upham Photography

He has played for Midland Monarchs and Wood Green in 4NCL, Surrey CCA, Wimbledon 4NCL Guildford and Bushbury (in Wolverhampton)

According to ChessBase Graeme reached his highest FIDE rating in July 2003, aged 32 of 2420.

Graeme teaches chess in many Surrey Schools and in conjunction with Susan.

Graeme has been a director of Surrey County Chess Association for four years resigning in 2011.

Graeme was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 2009-10 season

According to Easy Guide to the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Cadogan, 1998 :

“Graeme Buckley caused a stir in his first year as a professional player securing his International Master title in a matter of months, quickly followed by his first grandmaster norm. More recently he has been involved in some major coaching projects. In 1996 he was manager of the English youth team, who achieved the impressive double of winning both the Glorney and Faber Cups.”

With the white pieces Graeme playa the Queen’s Gambit nowadays with Nf3 appearing before c4 having flirted with the Trompowski in the early days.

As the second player he plays the Sicilian Scheveningen, the King’s Indian and not the Queen’s Gambit Accepted despite authoring a book about it!

Following this article a comment was made by a BCN reader as follows:

Mr Buckley taught me chess as a child. If there is any way he might see this post, I want to thank him for instilling a love of the game that has lasted to this day. A fine player and a great man. Thank you IM Buckley from the bottom of my heart.

Multiple Choice by Graeme Buckley
Multiple Choice by Graeme Buckley
Easy Guide to the Queen's Gambit Accepted by Graeme Buckley
Easy Guide to the Queen’s Gambit Accepted by Graeme Buckley
Trends in the Trompovsky, Vol. 4
Trends in the Trompovsky, Vol. 4
IM Graeme Buckley, Surrey Open 2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Graeme Buckley, Surrey Open, 2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography
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