Category Archives: Composition

Remembering Edith Baird (née Winter-Wood) (??-??-1859 01-ii-1924)

Edith Elina Helen Baird
Edith Elina Helen Baird

We remember Edith Baird (née Winter-Wood)

Edith Elina Helen Winter-Wood was born, probably in 1859*, to Thomas Winter-Wood, a writer and poet, and Eliza Ann (née Sole) Winter-Wood in Boulogne, France.

(*Despite 22nd February 1859 appearing in Wikipedia we are unable to locate a primary source for this date. Contemporary secondary sources always just gave 1859 as her year of birth. Census records imply that she was born between April 1859 and March 1860. Her marriage record from 1st December 1880 describes her as being ‘of full age’: at least 21 years old, so born before December 1859. However, her death record from 1st February 1924 gives her age as 63, implying that she was born between February 1860 and January 1861. Either her death record is incorrect or she added a couple of months to her age when she married. )

Many secondary and tertiary sources incorrectly give the Winter-Wood family home of Hareston Manor (now a venue for weddings) near Brixton, Plymouth, Devon as her birthplace.

Hareston Manor near Plymouth
Hareston Manor near Plymouth

The family was resident in Boulogne in at least 1858 (as discussed below) and a UK birth certificate for Edith does not appear to exist. Having said that, a French birth certificate has yet to be located. Both Brian Denman and Chris Ravilious are satisfied that Edith was born in Boulogne and various census records attest to this. Ed: both Richard James and myself (JEU) have examined the evidence carefully and Boulogne would appear to be correct.

Thomas Winter-Wood was born in Har(e)ston, Devon in 1819 and was himself a strong player having been educated at Plympton Grammar School (now known as Hele’s School). Thomas was the son of John Wood-Winter who, in 1824, reversed the order of the family surname. Thomas sold the family estate leaving the Winter-Woods with substantial means, with each family member able to pursue their leisure interests whilst retaining a number of domestic staff.

Thomas Winter-Wood (1819-1905) in 1903.
Thomas Winter-Wood (1819-1905) in 1903.

Thomas taught all of his family to play chess and Edith learnt at an early age. Both Edward J and Carslake W also learnt early on, Edward (aged 11 in 1858) played members of Boulogne Chess Club giving them rook odds and ten years later Edward joined London Chess Club.

According to Tartajubow :

“(Edward) played in several tournaments and in blindfold simuls he drew two games against Lowenthal and one against Blackburne. In 1878 he joined the Croydon Chess Club and once in one of their tournaments scored 23-7. He also enjoyed success in many other club tournaments, correspondence chess and problem solving tournaments. Many of his problems appeared in leading publications of the day.”

and, also according to Tartajubow :

“Her other brother, Carslake W. Wood (1849 – 1924), lived with his mother’s brother, Major Sole of the 5th Militia of West York, in Torquay. While travelling Europe with the Soles, he also developed a taste for painting and on many occasions donated his paintings as prizes in chess tournaments.”

The Doge’s Palace, Venice 1880s by Carslake W Winter-Wood
The Doge’s Palace, Venice 1880s by Carslake W Winter-Wood

According to F. R. Gittins (in The Chess Bouquet 1897):

“The moves came to her, as she says, by a kind of instinct before she was out of her first decade. She did not, however, commence composing problems until some years after her marriage, which took place in 1880, to Deputy Inspector-General W. J. Baird, M.D., R.N., whose distinguished services have been mentioned in despatches and rewarded with four medals and two clasps. Eight years later she composed her first problem, and commenced a wonderful series of successes, having gained eleven first, nine second, and six third prizes, and been honourably mentioned nine times.”

Edith Baird (née Winter-Wood)
Edith Baird (née Winter-Wood)

According to the old ChessDevon web site (sadly only available via the WayBack Machine)

“In 1893, for instance, she entered The Hackney Mercury 3-mover tournament, with a limit of 6 pieces. Most of the great composers of the time had entered, – B. G. Laws, P. H. Williams and James Raynor among them, but she won 1st prize. As one American critic observed, ‘The fact that the tourney assumed an almost international character rendered the triumph of the distinguished lady victor as noteworthy as it was creditable’.”

Here is this first prize (1):

Baird, Edith Elina Helen
Hackney Mercury, 1893
1st Prize

The problem solutions may be found at the foot of this article.

She very quickly progressed and was soon producing problems that were described as being “exceedingly pretty” and which ‘displayed unmistakable aptitude for the intricacies of chess.’ Her work 700 Chess Problems was published by Henry Sotheran Ltd in 1902 and took her 14 years to complete.”

Seven Hundred Chess Problems. Selected from the compositions of Mrs. W. J. Baird, WJ Baird, 1902
Seven Hundred Chess Problems. Selected from the compositions of Mrs. W. J. Baird, WJ Baird, 1902
Seven Hundred Chess Problems
Seven Hundred Chess Problems

700 Chess Problems may be downloaded from here.

Edith also had a brief career in chess competitions in the 1890s, winning the 1897 Sussex Ladies Championship without losing a game.

Few samples of her play survive, but they show her to be a proficient player with, as you might expect from a problemist, a keen tactical eye. In this game she finishes neatly with a queen sacrifice.

In this game, from a blindfold simul against the London-based Dutch organist and chess master Rudolf Loman (1861-1932), she uses a tactic to reach an equal ending.

According to the 1871 census the Winter-Wood household lived at “Hareston”, Tavistock Road, Croydon, Surrey and consisted of Thomas (52 and Landowner), Eliza (44) plus Edith’s brothers Edward J (23 and Banker) and Carslake W (22 and retired banker), Marie A (17), Edith (11) plus three (!) domestic servants.

In 1880 (‘of full age’) Edith married the Deputy Inspector-General of Fleets and Hospitals, William James Baird, MD, of the Royal Navy, in the parish church of St George Hanover Square.  (You’ll see that she married under the surname Wood rather than Winter-Wood.) William was almost thirty years her senior, having been born in Londonderry in 1831. The 1881 census found them in lodgings in Durham House, Hotspur Street, Tynemouth, North Tyneside: presumably William was there in connection with his work.  Later the same year, their only child, Lilian Edith Baird, was born in the same place.

William and Edith’s marriage recorded in the Parish Register of St George Hanover Square
William Baird and Edith (Winter-)Wood’s marriage bonds

Lilian would become a child prodigy whose first problem was published before she was 10 years old. She was also an accomplished poet and painter like her mother. Although she had over 70 problems published by the age of thirteen, Lilian gave up chess composing while still in her teens.

Lilian Edith Strong (née Baird)
Lilian Edith Strong (née Baird)

(Lilian merits a full article in this place in her own right : added to ToDo list!)

By 1891 William had retired and the family had settled in Brighton living at 14 College Terrace, where they employed a servant, Louisa Howard (23). In 1901 the census enumerator found them at the same address, their servant now being Lilian Millard (25).

14 College Terrace, Brighton, East Sussex. BN2 0EE
14 College Terrace, Brighton, East Sussex. BN2 0EE

William died in 1907, and Lilian had married in 1910: the 1911 census found Edith living in a boarding house named Mountcoombe in Surbiton. The house no longer exists, but its name, minus a letter, survives in Mountcombe Close, now a location for residential flats. Shortly afterwards, she joined her brothers in Paignton, Devon, close to her family’s ancestral roots.

Returning to Edith’s family, by the time of the 1881 census the Winter-Wood household (bar Edith) had relocated to “Mariestead”, Netley Abbey, Southampton and had shrunk to Thomas, Eliza and a mere two servants. Edith gave this address when she married William Baird.

Edith Baird (née Winter-Wood)
Edith Baird (née Winter-Wood)

In the 1891 census the Winter-Wood household consisted of Thomas (72), Eliza (64) plus Edith’s brothers Edward (43) and Carslake (42) all of whom were described as “living on means”. They had returned to three domestic servants : Mary Scoble (65), Carrie Stephens (22) and Kate Truman (just 12). They lived at 14, The Crescent, Plymouth, PL8 2AP. Nothing remains of this property, it would appear. By 1901, the family had moved again, to “Kenwick”, Paignton, Devon. They were back down to two servants: Florence Gagg (18) was the housemaid and Sarah Chambers (59) the cook. Thomas died in 1905, and the 1911 census gives their address as “Hareston”, Totnes Road, Paignton. Eliza, Edward and Carslake’s servants were now Laura Ellen Gagg (25 – presumably related to Florence) and Sarah Tulley.

In an interview with the Westminster Gazette (1st September 1894) Edith was asked why chess has always been a man’s game.

“Frivolous and fashionable women would begrudge the time and thought it requires; busy mothers of families could not, of course, spare time for it, and the great majority of unmarried girls have not, I’m afraid, the necessary patience. Then, too, it is, I must confess, an unsociable game. It is most suitable for quiet and reflective people, and for invalids. It seems always to have attracted clever strategists like military and naval commanders, and also great politicians. I wish girls would take to it more, because it is such excellent mental discipline, and brings out one’s patience. It would also be a useful corrective to the tendency to jump at conclusions which many women have. The great charm is that it is a home accomplishment. A woman is not expected to leave her fireside for the sake of chess. It is a stable kind of amusement for which she never need sully her womanliness or her good reputation. Many of the outdoor sports, innocent and healthy enough, lead to a great deal of flirtation and general frivolity.”

F.R. Gittins (op. cit.) described her as follows:

“Mrs. Baird, however, is something more even than the Queen of Chess-problem composers. She is, for example, an enthusiastic and skilful archer, and, living as she does in Brighton, has for some time been a prominent member of the Furze Hill Archery Club, of which she is a member of the committee, and in which, she has, for two years in succession, taken the medal for the highest aggregate score of the season. She also paints and illuminates charmingly, and has a pretty inherited talent for writing verse. Her book of illuminations, in fact, is described as “so chaste and delicate in design as to recall the ancient illuminated books which are treasured in museums and art galleries.” In politics she is a staunch Liberal, while the modern movement against all cruelty to animals – whether inflicted under the name of sport or in the interests of science – finds in her one of its most ardent champions.  Besides the déclassement derived from chess, she is also a great believer in girls making themselves independent of marriage, from a monetary point of view, by having a definite occupation. When it is added that she never allows chess, painting, or any other favourite pursuit to occupy her time until all the domestic matters of home have been seen to, we have said sufficient to show how finely-rounded and complete a life this brilliantly clever woman leads. It is only left to add that her manner is kind and  charming, and that she is thoughtfulness and considerateness itself to all her friends. She is, moreover, the most loving of mothers, and has been heard to declare that if anything were to happen to “Lily”, she would never compose another chess problem.”

Edith was also an avid bicyclist who was known to have ridden 25 miles (on one of those old style bicycles) to discuss an adjourned chess game.

Edith Elina Helen Baird
Edith Elina Helen Baird

On Friday, February 1st, 1924 Edith passed away. The probate record is dated April 29th and was granted to Herbert Percy Strong, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Indian Army, who was Lilian’s husband. The initial value of the effects was £18110 5s 7d which was subsequently resworn to £16627 13s 11d.

Probate record for Edith Baird (1924)
Probate record for Edith Baird (1924)

Both Sunnucks and Golombek are silent on Edith. This is somewhat surprising since Anne liked to mention female players and problemists.

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

EDITH ELINA HELEN (née Winter Wood) (1859-1924), British problem composer. Her parents, two brothers, and daughter were all good players or clever problemists.

She composed over 2,000 problems which were not profound but were noted for their soundness; only a dozen or so were faulted. Her Seven Hundred Chess Problems was published in 1902. She became deeply absorbed in retractors, and her other book The Twentieth Century Retractor appeared in 1907. They are two of the most beautiful chess books ever to appear, printed and bound by the King’s printer Henry Sotheran, and sold at less than cost.

The Twentieth Century Retractor
The Twentieth Century Retractor
The Twentieth Century Retractor, Chess Fantasies, and Letter Problems: Being a Selection of Three Hundred Problems, Mrs WJ Baird, London: Henry Sotheran and Co. 1902.
The Twentieth Century Retractor, Chess Fantasies, and Letter Problems: Being a Selection of Three Hundred Problems, Mrs WJ Baird, London: Henry Sotheran and Co. 1902.

The Twentieth Century Retractor may be read online here.

The dedication for The Twentieth Century Retractor was somewhat unusual :

“Dedicated to
The Sun
The Glorious Orb which
Animates and Beautifies
The Earth
By Giving It
Warmth, Light and Life”

and Edward Winter discusses the beauty of the book in Chess Note 3164.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume XLIV, (44, 1924) we have this obituary written by RC Griffth :

“A deep shadow has been cast over the chess world by the death of Mrs. W.J. Baird, which occurred on 1st February last at Paignton. The end was most unexpected, but it is a comfort to her relatives that the passing away was peaceful. She was the daughter of Mr. T. Winter-Wood, who and whose family have been identified with chess for generations. She was born in 1859 and composed her first problem in 1888, and it was not long after this date that she was given the title of the “Queen of Chess,” since not only did she distinguish herself in a happy way as a prolific composer, but proved a valiant opponent over the board, testified by her securing the ladies’ championship of Sussex in 1897.

Mate in Two (2)

Among her other accomplishments were painting, particularly illuminating, poetry (which may have been inherited from her gifted father) and archery, in which sport she was skilful. Her chess problems were generally of the light texture order never profound, but always pleasing to the ordinary solver. She must have composed over 2,000 problems of one sort or another, and this large output in about thirty-five years could not be conducive to highest results. Her problem tourney honours were numerous, though she did not as a rule see these, generally entering her problems to oblige admiring conductors of competitions.

Mate in Two (3)

In 1902 she published Seven Hundred Chess Problems and in 1907 The Twentieth Century Retractor, Chess Fantasies and Letter Problems, 320 illustrations (Sotheran & Co.). Both were editions de luxe. Mrs. Baird was credited with the being the originator of the complicated retractor of which she was a proficient exponent, but since she ceased composing these fancies, interest in them has waned.

Mate in Three (4)

During the last few years her activity, after a period of quiescence has been marked, her attention being directed principally to ‘Mutates’ and Picture or Letter Problems. In addition to the enthusiasm which, shown by her actual work, she has generously promoted several competitions, one still current in the Morning Post, particulars of which we announced last month. A remarkable feature of the deceased’s problems was their soundness less than one per cent. being cooked after leaving her hands, evidence of painstaking application!

Mate in Three (5)

There is now, since the decease of Mrs. Baird’s father, Mr. T. Winter-Wood and her brother, Mr. E.J. Winter-Wood, only Mr. Carslake Winter-Wood left to represent the family in the chess circle, Mrs. Strong, her daughter, who at one time promised to emulate her mother, having apparently abandoned the game and its problems. There can be no question that Mrs. Baird stood in front of all lady composers, her nearest rival probably being the late Mrs. T. B. Rowland, and indeed a number of her compositions rank high in the world’s collection. We have not space this month to quote specimens, but hope to do so next issue.

Mate in Three (6)

Since the above was in type we have been informed of the sudden death of Mr. Carslake Winter-Wood on the 24th February.”

The Late Mrs. W. J. Baird,

The Masters said:-

“Lay by the board, the problem is not sound;
There’s none can solve unless a Morphy’s found.”
* * *
A knight I saw, his royal head bowed;
Methought a bishop moved and prayed aloud.
The Queen, alas, and their attendants gone,
Only did the Kings linger sadly on.
And roaming far afield a Rook forlorn,
And here and there a long-forgotten pawn.
“Oh! is there none who can this problem solve?”
“Seek her round who our highest hopes revolve”
And so we brought it to our ‘Problem Queen’
Who faced the field with heart and eye serene.
* * *
“Go leave me now and I will rest awhile,”
Then hand outstretched and swift triumphant smile :
“The Bishops move! with him the key,” she cried –
“Life’s problem solved at last! I’m satisfied.”

M.S.M.

White retracts his last move; then plays. Black moves so that White can mate at once. (7)

(Please note that there are factual errors in most of the sources quoted below.)

Here is her Wikipedia entry

Here is more from chessproblem.net

Article from Tartajubow (but the author mistakenly conflates Edith and Lilian) on Edith Baird and other Bairds

Queens of Problem Chess by Satanick Mukhuty from chessbase.com

More from Sarah Beth Durst (aka BatGirl), quoting from Gittins.

Via the Wayback Machine Chess Devon have this excellent article

British Chess News would like to thank Brian Denman for providing a file of Edith Baird’s games, and Tim Harding, for sending us the pdf of The Chess Bouquet.

Solution to problems:

(1)

1.Qg7! (2.Qc7#)
1…Kc6 2.c5 Kxc5 3.Qc7#
1…Kxc4 2.Qd4+ Kb3 3.Qb4#
1…Kb6 2.Sb5 Ka6/Ka5, Kc6/Kc5 3.Qa7, Qc7#
1…Kd6 2.Sb5+ Ke6, Kc7/Kc5 3.Sd4, Qc7#

(2) 1.Bg2

(3) 1.Qb2

(4) 1.Qh8

(5) 1.Nc1

(6) 1.Rd8

(7) White retracts Nd5xRb6, then 1. Nd6 Rc6 2. Nb7#

 

 

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Remembering Harold Lommer (18-xi-1904 17-xii-1980)

Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)
Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)

We remember Harold Lommer who passed away on December 17th, 1980.

Harold Maurice Lommer was born on Friday, November 18th 1904 in Islington, London to German parents. Curiously his birth entry was missing from the original record and has been inserted manually as an after-thought. Anyone know the reason for this?

He left England aged 4 in 1908 to live in Switzerland and returned to England in 1926.

In the 1939 Census Harold was a resident at 16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London.

16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London
16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London

According to the census record HML was living in a household of three persons and his occupation was that of Foreign Correspondent.

In 1949 Harold married Valija S Linkuns in Fulham.

He died in Valencia, Provincia de València, Valenciana, Spain.

Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)
Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“International Judge of Chess Compositions (1958), International Arbiter (1962), International Master for Chess Compositions (1974), the greatest British study composer. Born in Islington of German parentage, he moved to Switzerland when he was four and returned to England 18 years later.

Inspired in his youth by the Saavedra study, he became the leading specialist on promotion tasks, and in 1933 was the first to show allumwandlung in a study, which Rinck had declared was impossible. Lommer also showed in studies six consecutive promotions to rooks (1935) and a minimal with concurrent promotions to queen, bishop, and knight.

After the Second World War he became proprietor of a Soho club, where players and composers often met; in 1949 the club organized a small international tournament, won by Bernstein, Lommer retired in 1961 and went to live in Valencia, where he died.

In 1939 Lommer and the English player Maurice A. Sutherland (d.1954), who backed the project, published 1,234 Modern End-game Studies. In 1975 Lommer compiled a sequel, 1,357 End-game Studies. These two collections, catholic in taste, made by a composer who was above all an artist, have become standard works. Besides his studies, the best of which are in these books, he composed fairy problems.”

1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)
1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)
1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)
1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale 1970&1976), Anne Sunnucks :

“FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies since 1958. Born on 18th November 1904 in London, Harold Lommer’s parents were German and he was educated mainly in Switzerland. Since the late 1950s he has lived in Spain. He has composed about 1000 endgame studies and is joint author with MA Sutherland, of the anthology 1234 Modern End-Game Studies, published in 1938. He is particularly well-known for his under-promotion tasks, but would prefer to be known for his other work as well.

For some 10 years up to 1957, he was joint owner and manager of the Mandrake Club in Soho, London, used by many well-known chess players, journalists and theatre personalities.”

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88 we have this obituary from CM Bent :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88

1357 End-Game Studies
1357 End-Game Studies

Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)

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Remembering Anthony Dickins (01-xi-1914 25-xi-1987)

Anthony Dickins (01-xi-1914 25-xi-1987)
Anthony Dickins (01-xi-1914 25-xi-1987)

We remember Anthony Dickins who passed away this day (Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987.

Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins was born at 1 Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset on Sunday, November 1st, 1914. On this day was the Battle of Coronel — The Royal Navy suffered its first defeat of World War I, after a British squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock met and was defeated by superior German forces led by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee in the eastern Pacific.

1, Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset, BA1 2QA
1, Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset, BA1 2QA

Anthony’s parents were Frederick and Florence Dickins (née Mackay) Frederick was a Captain in the Royal Artillery and was born on 25th November 1879, commissioned on May 26th 1900. He became a Colonel on 26th May 1930 and retired November 25th 1936. He was alive in 1972 (aged 92) and living in Bexhill passing away aged 101/102. He was awarded the CIE which is “Companion, Order of the Indian Empire in 1914”.

Anthony was baptised on December 29th in Seend, Wiltshire. Anthony had a brother Frederick James Douglas born in 1907 who married Nellie or Peggie Moist (records are unclear).

It would appear that Florence and Anthony (aged 5) travelled to Bombay from Plymouth on board the SS City of York (Ellerman Lines) departing December 26th, 1919 presumably to visit his father in India. The ships master was J. McKellan.

At the time of the 1939 Census Anthony was residing in the Tavistock Hotel in Tavistock Square. His occupation was given as journalist and editor and described as single.

From the Hull Daily Mail (extant and renamed Hull Live) of March 4th, 1939 we have this part review of a magazine called The Joys of Poetry. Anthony was the editor :

Hull Daily Mail, 4th March 1939
Hull Daily Mail, 4th March 1939

He died in Lambeth Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987. We have yet to determine where he was buried or cremated.

From http://chesscomposers.blogspot.com/2012/10/november-1st.html :

“Anthony Dickins wrote A Guide to Fairy Chess (1967) and other books about fairy chess. He edited the column of non-original fairy problems for “The Problemist”. He was specialized in constructional problems and was also an International Judge.”

Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins
Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1984), Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

(article by ASMD and edited by JM Rice)

“Chess first entered my life seriously about 1950 at the well-known Mandrake Social and Chess Club in Meard Street, Soho, run by Harold Lommer and Boris Watson. Purely literary connections took me there in the first place, as it was a rendezvous for the literary fraternity, such as Dylan Thomas, David Gascoyne and others.

After the war Harold converted a small wine-vault into a tiny cramped chess-room, with some dozen tables and boards. Many well-known
personalities in the world of Chess were occasional visitors, such as Grandmasters Ossip Bernstein, Paul Keres, Jacques Mieses and Friedrich Sämisch; British Champions Willy Winter, Bob Wade and Dr. Fazekas; M. J. Franklin, now a British Master, and the Problemists, Dr. E. T. O. Slater and B. J. da C. Andrade. Mieses was then in his late eighties and charged a fee of half-a-crown (12.5 pence) for a game. When his name was mispronounced ‘Mister My-ziz’ he would say ‘I am Meister Mieses, not Mister My-ziz’.

Sämisch once played fourteen of us blindfold, defeating all except one, a very strong Indian player, Atta, who obtained a draw. My regular ‘partners’ were Vicki Weiss, the famous cartoonist, his brother Oscar, Richard Crewdson, Mr Keller (a professional who played sharply for a shifty shilling), Brian Mason, Colin ‘Puffer’ Evans, (whose strategy was to puff cigarette ash and smoke all over the board to bemuse the opponent) and Bob Troy (who always fell fast asleep immediately after making each move and had to be wakened on his next turn to play). There was a juke-box in the next room constantly blaring forth pop and bop. Most of all I played with Alex Distler, and with him always’variants of the game’ like Cylindrical Chess, Rifle Chess, Progressive Chess, or the Losing Game.

In this colourful and inspiring, if rather smoky and noisy, atmosphere I composed my first six chess problems, helpmates and cylindricals, though I did not then know of the existence of Problem books or magazines, nor had I heard of Sam Loyd, Max Lange, or T. R. Dawson when the Mandrake closed in the late fifties and Harold Lommer retired to Spain to write his two monumental works on Endgame Studies.

For the next 10 years or so I played at the West London and Athenaeum Chess Clubs, for Middlesex County and at Hastings congresses, meanwhile regularly solving the problems in the two evening newspapers for practice.

In 1965, in my 51st year, I discovered chess-problem magazines and the British Chess Problem Society, and was soon asked by John Rice to join the Fairy
Chess Correspondence Circle, whose director, W. Cross, perhaps the greatest solver of all time, guided my early footsteps in fairyland. At this point I compiled for my own use a summary of all the usual rules and conventions in Fairy Chess, as these were numerous and complicated. It occurred to me that a few other people might also welcome such a summary, so I put it into book form as A Guide to Fairy Chess, which I published by myself in 1967 under the imprint ‘The O Press’, a pun on the name ‘Kew’ where I was then living.

A Guide to Fairy Chess
A Guide to Fairy Chess

To my amazement it had rave reviews (‘the comprehensive work, so long awaited’, ‘more like an encyclopaedia’, ‘the bible of Fairy Chess’) and sold like hot cakes, going into three editions, each one enlarged and revised, the third produced by Dover Publications, New York, in 1971. Two years later I edited Dover’s publication of T. R. Dawson’s Five Classics of Fairy Chess.

Five Classics of Fairy Chess, TR Dawson
Five Classics of Fairy Chess, TR Dawson

In 1970 I flew to the States to spend a few days in the J. G. White collection in Cleveland, Ohio, researching historical material on Fairy Chess. This Ohio collection has the largest chess library in the world, and to my surprise I found that it contains also ‘every book or article ever written on or about ‘Omar Khayyam and Alice in Wonderland . To find oneself suddenly and unexpectedly transported, as if by magic carpet, into a superbly organised library with the most complete collections in the world of the three subjects that happen to be one’s own three principal literary interests is an experience that must approach closely to entering Nirvana, and I am happy to have had it. This visit enabled me to write A Short History of Fairy Chess (1975) and to give the lecture Alice in Fairyland to the Lewis Carroll Society in London, published in their journal Jabberwocky and reprinted by myself in 1976 (2nd edn 1978) .

A Short History of Fairy Chess, ASM Dickins
A Short History of Fairy Chess, ASM Dickins

In 1972 I decided to present my (by then) extensive collection of Fairy Chess books and magazines to my old university library at Cambridge to prevent the possible break-up of the collection as a single unit, and to ensure that at least one fairly complete Fairy Chess collection was retained in Britain.

In 1968 I was invited to open a Fairy Chess section in The Problemist, organ of the BCPS, which I handed over to Dr. C. C. L. Sells in 1970, and from 1974 to 1981 I ran another column in that magazine called ‘Other Types’. This chess journalism has brought me into touch with many problemists, and made many friends for me, in foreign countries.

In 1967, on a visit to Mannheim for the Schwalbe annual meeting, I met Wilhelm Karsch, then editor of Feenschach, and in 1968 in Munich I again met Dr. Karl Fabel, whom I first came to know in London in 1967, and also Peter Kniest, one of the two present editors of Feenschach. In 1969, on a visit to Paris, a meeting was arranged for me at the late Jean Oudot’s flat, with Pierre Monr6al, J. P. Boyer, F. de Lionnais (author of the Dictionnaire des Echecs) and other French problemists, and altogether I have attended twenty three major problemist meetings in various countries, including FIDE meetings in The Hague, Wiesbaden, Canterbury and Helsinki. It has been my constant aim to try to encourage and cultivate the practice and study of Fairy Chess and to keep alive the great legacy that T.R. Dawson left to the world when he died in 1951.

In recent years I have developed close relations with the younger generation of West German problemists, who are very active in Fairy Chess, centred round 29-year-old Bernd Ellinghoven, who helps Peter Kniest to edit Feenschach and who printed my last booklet, Fairy Chess Problems (1979), containing poems as well as problems, combined in a new kind of fairy technique, for I believe that Fairy Chess represents in many ways the ‘poetry’ of Chess.

FAIRY CHESS PrOblems (1979)
FAIRY CHESS PrOblems (1979)

For the 50th birthday of T. R. Dawson on the 28th November 1939 a certain Dr Lazarus of Budapest wrote in Fairy Chess Review: ‘T. R. D. these three letters represent a conception in the Poetry of Chess which is amongst the most ingenious of all its turns, one of its most strange and interesting phases… Without T.R.D. human culture would lack a factor in its development’. Those people (and there are some) who would banish Fairy Chess altogether from Caissa’s realm resemble the iron-hearted Mr. Gradgrinds who would abolish romance, mystery, poetry, invention, discovery and imagination from human life.

Fairy Chess Review
Fairy Chess Review

Elsewhere I have written: ‘The Game for Murderers, The Problem for Philosophers, Fairy Chess for Sufis’, because the aim of the game-player is to ‘mate’ (kill) the opponent (from Arabic, mat _ dead), while the problemist has no personal opponent to kill, but merely a philosophical problem to resolve. In Fairy Chess, however, the adept is transported to another plane of existence, to an ‘undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns’,to new’dimensions’ of thought (as in 3- and 4-dimensional problems) – in short, to Fairyland, to Nirvana.

The three problems represent my early, middle and later compositions. The helpmate in three moves (Black plays first in a helpmate) is a miniature culminating in an ideal Mate. C. H. O’D. Alexander was much tickled by what he called ‘the deceptive pawn’ on a2, which unexpectedly does not promote.

The Construction Task with 113 White moves, all ‘maintaining’ the legal stalemate position in which Black finds himself, is a standing record that defeated the previous record of 112 such moves obtained independently by six problemists in six countries, one of them an lnternational Master of FIDE.

The Knight’s Tour is one of the oldest genres of Fairy Chess, dating from the earliest days of chess, and in TR Dawson’s Fairy Chess Review he published many of them., including some that showed the ‘square numbers’ (1,4,9,16,25,36,49,64) all on one rank – in the present example I have added the extra strict condition that as many as possible of the numbers 1 to 16 must be in the SW corner and as many as possible of the numbers 1 to 32 must be in the W half of the board.

For two reasons the perfect ideal in this task cannot be attained, firstly because of the given position of the number 25, and secondly because it is not possible to make a Knight’s tour on a 4 x 4 board in the SW corner.

Solutions :

1. Helpmate, Evening News, 20th February 1957 dedicated to Harold Lommer

Helpmate in 3 moves

1. Kd5 Nb1
2. Kc4 e8=Q
3. Kb3 Qb5 mate

2. Construction Task Record, Feenschach 9341 Sep/Oct 1969 dedicated to Karl Fabel

113 unforced stalemate maintenances with Promotion in Play (Pawn promotions count as 4 moves) unforced as W has some moves that do not maintain stalemate, so he is not ‘forced’ to maintain it.

3. Knight’s Tour Chessics 5(180) July, 1978 dedicated to D. Nixon.

Knights tour with
a) All square number on 4th rank
b) maximum of 1-16 in SW quad
c) maximum of 1-32 in W half

Knight's tour solution from ASM Dickins
Knight’s tour solution from ASM Dickins

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:

“British problemist, Founder of Q Press (1967) to publish books on fairy problems: A Guide to Fairy Chess (1967); An Album of Fairy Chess (1970); The Serieshelpmate (co-author, 1971). Has presented a large collection of problem books to Cambridge University Library. International Judge (1975).”

100 Classics of the Chessboard
100 Classics of the Chessboard
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Remembering Mary Rudge (06-ii-1842 22-xi-1919)

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

We remember Mary Rudge who passed away one hundred and one years this day on Saturday, 22-xi-1919.

She was born in Leominster, Herefordshire on February 6th, 1842. Her father was Henry Rudge (born 1794 in Gloucestershire) who was a surgeon and General Practitioner. Her mother was Eliza Rudge (née Barrett) who was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire in 1802.

Mary was part of a typically large household and according to the 1851 census she had sisters Sarah (23), Caroline (18), Emily H (12), brothers Henry (14) and Alfred (10). Assisting Henry with medical matters was William S Boyce and acting as a “General Servant” was Thomas Rotheroe (18). Their address is given as “21, Middle Marsh, Leominster, Herefordshire, England” (HR6 8UP). According to HM Land Registry : “Middlemarsh is in the Leominster North & Rural ward of Herefordshire, County of, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.”

By 1861 the household had relocated to 62, Broad Street, Leominster and the servants were James Price (18) whose occupation is given as a Groom and Sarah Gardener (21) who was the House Servant.

Mary moved, “helpless from rheumatism”, at some point, to Truro and then to the British Home for Incurables, Streatham. She died in Guys Hospital, London, on 22 November 1919.

Editor of British Chess Magazine at the time of her obituary was Isaac McIntyre Brown who afforded Mary a pathetic three lines.

“As we go to press we learn with great sorrow of the death, at Streatham last month, of Miss Mary Rudge, winner of the International Ladies’ tournament in 1897.”

Golombek, Hooper&Whyld and Sunnucks are all silent on Rudge.

From Wikipedia :

“Mary Rudge (6 February 1842 in Leominster – 22 November 1919 in London) was an English chess master.

Rudge was born in Leominster, a small town in Herefordshire, England. She began playing chess in a correspondence tournament in 1872. The first mention of over the board competition is in August 1874 when she played in the second class at the Meeting of the Counties’ Chess Association at Birmingham. After the death of her father, Henry Rudge, she moved to Bristol where she started playing chess seriously.

Rudge was the first woman member of the Bristol Chess Club, which did not allow women to be members of the club until she joined in 1872. She played against Joseph Henry Blackburne, who gave a blindfold simultaneous display against ten opponents. The following year she played in another blindfold simultaneous display given by Johannes Hermann Zukertort. In March 1887 she played and drew on board six for Bristol against Bath at the Imperial Hotel in Bristol. At the beginning of 1888, Rudge played and won on board six for Bristol & Clifton against City Chess & Draughts Club. The following year, she won the Challenge Cup of Bristol & Clifton Chess Club. In 1889, she became the first woman in the world to give simultaneous chess exhibitions. She won the Ladies’ Challenge Cup at Cambridge 1890, and won the second class at the Southern Counties’ tournament at Clifton 1896.[1]”

Miss Stevenson & Mary Rudge
Miss Stevenson & Mary Rudge

“First Women’s International Chess Congress
She was a winner of the first Women’s International Chess Congress under the management of the Ladies’ Chess Club of London in conjunction with the Women’s Chess Club of New York. Lady Newnes was president of the Tournament Committee, and Sir George Newnes, Baron Albert Salomon von Rothschild, Mr. Harry Nelson Pillsbury and some others offered prizes. The tournament was played at the Hotel Cecil in the Masonic Hall for six days, but the final rounds were decided at the Ideal Café, the headquarters of the Ladies’ Chess Club, from 22 June to 3 July 1897.[2] Miss Rudge was 55 years old and the oldest of the 20 players,[3] and had substantial experience playing chess at the time. She was a well-known English player, ranking in chess strength with the first class of the leading men’s clubs. She won the event with 18 wins and 1 draw, followed by Signorina Louisa Matilda Fagan (Italy), Miss Eliza Mary Thorold (England), Mrs. Harriet Worrall (USA), Madame Marie Bonnefin (Belgium), Mrs. F.S. Barry (Ireland), Lady Edith Margaret Thomas (England), among others.”

Here is an in-depth article about this event from Chesscafe.com

Mrs. Bowles (Hon. Sec.); Miss Rudge; and Mrs. Fagan from chesscafe.com
Mrs. Bowles (Hon. Sec.); Miss Rudge; and Mrs. Fagan from chesscafe.com

“Over the next years, she took part in various competitions, playing in Bristol and Dublin. In 1898, she played against world champion Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous display at the Imperial Hotel. Lasker was unable to finish all the games in the time available, and Rudge’s was one of those unfinished. He conceded defeat because he would be lost with best play.”

Mary Rudge
Mary Rudge

Here is an article from the Bristol Chess Times

and another from the same source.

The International Ladies Congress
The International Ladies Congress
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Remembering Hugh Blandford (24-i-1917 20-ix-1981)

Hugh Francis Blandford
Hugh Blandford

BCN remembers Hugh Blandford who was a British composer.

Hugh Francis Blandford was born on Wednesday, January 24th in 1917 in South Stoneham, Southampton, Hampshire, England.

On this day Ernest Borgnine was born and an earthquake measuring 6.3 in magnitude struck Anhui Province, China, causing 101 deaths.

Hugh’s father was the Rev Albert Francis Blandford and his mother was Alice Rhoda Crumpton Evans. Hugh had two younger brothers, Philip Thomas. and Evan Arthur.

The family moved to Jamaica and he spent his early childhood there until he was nine years old when they sailed from Kingston, Jamaica with his family to Bristol on board the SS Carare (Elders & Fyffes Line) :

Passenger Manifest (part) for SS Carare , 30th May 1926.
Passenger Manifest (part) for SS Carare , 30th May 1926.

His mother Alice Rhoda Crumpton passed away on 19 July 1964 in Minehead, Somerset, at the age of 79.

His father Rev Albert Francis passed away in December 1967 in Somerset at the age of 79.

He had three children during his marriage to Marjorie Cox.

Thanks to GM Nigel Davies we know that towards the end of his life his lived in Southport, Merseyside. He attended Southport Chess Club. See http://www.arves.org/arves/images/PDF/EG_PDF/eg2.pdf

His postal address was : 12 Clovelly Drive, Hillside, Southport, Lancashire. PR8 3AJ.

HFB's home when living in Southport
HFB’s home when living in Southport

He died in Hatfield, Hertfordshire on Sunday, September 20th, 1981.

Blandford is also known for participating (with Richard Guy and John Roycroft) in defining the GBR (Guy, Blandford Roycroft) code.

In 1961 he was awarded the title of “International Judge of the FIDE for Chess Composition”

CM Bent wrote the following obituary in the British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 12 (December), page 532 :

“The modest and self-effacing composer who formerly conducted our Studies column from 1951-1972 died in September. His work as a metallurgist and his family responsibilities allowed him to make periodical contributions over a long span and to offer us many of his own original compositions.

His style, as with his manner, was essentially quiet and it was a rarity for him to compose anything other than wins.

His last voluntary labour was to compile an index for E.G. of all studies published there to date. His loss to the world of of studies will be greatly felt.

The first prize winner below is a classic of exquisite refinement and matches the immaculate handwriting which was always such an elegant feature of his work”

Studies by Hugh Francis Blandford
Studies by Hugh Francis Blandford
Solutions to studies by Hugh Francis Blandford
Solutions to studies by Hugh Francis Blandford

See more of his compositions here from the arves.org database.

Here is a deleted item from Russell Enterprises

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“British study composer and FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies. Born on 24th January 1917. Since July 1951, Hugh Blandford has conducted the Endings Section of the British Chess Magazine. By profession a metallurgist, he was married and had two children. Of his 60 or more studies he was best known for the excelsior theme.”

From Wikipedia :

“Hugh Francis Blandford (24 January 1917 – 20 September 1981) was a chess endgame composer born in Southampton, England.[1]
He spent several years of his childhood in Jamaica with his father, the Reverend Albert Francis (Frank) Blandford, a Minister in the Congregational church, his mother and two younger brothers, Evan Arthur and Philip Thomas Blandford. All three brothers then returned to England and attended Eltham College (the School for the Sons of Missionaries) in South-east London, while their parents remained in Jamaica. He married Marjorie Cox, whom he had worked with during the Second World War.

He played chess from his schooldays and as well as playing, also started to compose original chess endings. He became known in the field of chess endgame studies for a small but elegant body of compositions, expertly edited and published after Hugh’s death by his long-standing chess endings colleague, John Roycroft.[2]

1st Prize, Springaren 1949, White to move and win
1st Prize, Springaren 1949, White to move and win

Hugh Blandford was co-inventor with Richard Guy – and, later, with John Roycroft – of the Guy–Blandford–Roycroft code for classifying studies.[3] In July 1951 he began as the endgame study editor for the British Chess Magazine.[4][5] He was made an International Judge for Chess Composition[4] in 1961.[6]

A metallurgist, he continued to compose chess endgame studies until the end of his life, dying of a heart attack in early retirement in Hatfield, England, on 20 September 1981.”

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Remembering Gerald Anderson MBE DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)

Gerald Frank Anderson MBE DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)
Gerald Frank Anderson MBE DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)

BCN remembers Gerald Frank Anderson MBE, DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)

From British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson we have an article written by John Rice :

“Gerald Frank Anderson was born in South Africa on 23 February 1898, and has published nearly 500 problems of many different types. From the start he was a versatile composer, and Weenink’s The Chess Problem (see introduction) contains two three-movers of his illustrating anticipatory half-pin (see Diagram I) a reflex-mate in two dating from 1920 and a selfmate in four from 5 years earlier, when the composer was only seventeen.

Diagram I

1st prize , Hampshire Telegraph & Post, 1920

White mates in 3

(All Solutions contained in scan at foot of article.)

It must have been exciting for a budding problemist to grow up in the period between 1913 and 1924 when the Good Companion Chess Problem Club of Philadelphia was publishing its Folders of original work containing outstanding examples of complex strategy such as half-pins and cross-checks. Diagram II, with its intricate battery play, won first prize for Anderson in the Folder of October 1917.

Diagram II
1st prize, Good Companions, October 1917

Diagram III is a justly famous two-mover, with a perfect key and beautiful line-play:

IL Secolo, 1919

White mates in 2

Between 1953 and 1961 Anderson was with the British Embassy in Washington and a close friendship developed with the American composer Vincent Eaton.

In the introduction to his published collection of Eaton’s best problems (Memorial to V. L. Eaton, 1971) Anderson describes his visits to Eaton’s house where they would work for hours on joint compositions (nine of them altogether, eight prize winners)- ‘blockbusters’, as they themselves termed them. Diagram IV is one of these, a highly complex check-prevention scheme.

Diagram IV

1st prize, British Chess Magazine, 1953

(with V.L. Eaton)

White mates in 3

A glance through the anthologies shows how successful Anderson has always been with orthodox forms, perhaps especially with three- and four- movers and with selfmates. Diagram V is a characteristic selfmate in two, with a good deal more strategy than many composers achieve in selfmate form:

Diagram V

2nd prize, British Chess Federation Tournament, 1947

Selfmate in 2

Since his retirement Anderson has lived for much of the time in Italy, where the air seems to be conducive to the composition of reflex-mates, for that is the genre with which he has principally been occupied in recent years. Diagram VI is a good illustration of his style; a couple of changed continuations, and subtle play centered on the two diagonals b5-f1 and c6-h1. (A reflex-mate is a selfmate in which both sides are under an obligation to mate on the move if possible). In this problem White has to keep his active line-pieces (Q and B) well out of the way of the potential mating diagonal.

Diagram VI

1st prize, The Problemist, 1975

Reflex-mate in 2

In addition to the Eaton anthology mentioned above, Anderson has published Adventures of my Chessmen

Adventures of my Chessmen 1914 - 1923 , GF Anderson, Chess Amateur, Stroud, 1924
Adventures of my Chessmen 1914 – 1923 , GF Anderson, Chess Amateur, Stroud, 1924

and Are There Any?, the latter being a fascinating collection of Kriegspiel problems. He was President of the British Chess Problem Society from 1962 to 1964, and became a FIDE International Judge in 1960 and an International Master in 1975.”

Gerald Frank Anderson MBE DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)
Gerald Frank Anderson MBE DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 and 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Judge of FIDE for Compositions (1960). Born on 23rd February 1898. Won the DFC in 1914-18 war. Foreign Office (Retd.) First problem published in 1912, since when he has composed nearly 500 problems, mostly 3 and 4 movers. but has latterly switched to Fairy chess problems. He is one of the the great reflex and self-mate composers. Edited a section Chess Amateur 1921, Nottinghamshire Weekly Guardian 1937-1938, Anglo-Portuguese News 1945-1946, and Self-Mate Section of The Problemist 1964-1966. Author of Are There Any? a book about Kriegspiel problems and A Memorial Volume of Chess Problems of VL Eaton.”

His MBE was awarded in the 1959 New Year Honours list. The citation reads : “Gerald Frank Anderson, DFC, Second Secretary, Her Majesty’s Embassy, Washington.”

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE we have this by John Rice:

“British problem composer, output about 550 problems., orthodox and fairy. Books : Adventures of My Chessmen; and Are there Any? (1959 – a fascinating collection of Kriegspiel problems); Vincent Eaton Memorial (1971 – an annotated anthology of Eaton’s work). President of British Chess Problem Society, 1962-4. International Judge (1960), international master (1975).”

From chessgames.com :

“G. F. Anderson, in 1946, was working in the British Embassy in Lisbon, and, as a highly skilled chess player (he was also known for composing chess problems as early as 1919), was nominated to deliver the challenge from Botvinnik to Alekhine. He played a game with the World Champion in the Embassy and it became the last recorded game by Alekhine.”

Here is the original article from British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson by John Rice :

British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. page 16
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. page 16
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. page 17
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. page 17
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. page 18
British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983. page 18

Here is his Wikipedia entry

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Happy Birthday Barry Barnes (01-viii-1937)

Barry Barnes by Jean Barnes
Barry Barnes by Jean Barnes

BCN wishes happy birthday to Barry Barnes (01-viii-1937)

Barry Peter Barnes was born in Brighton and his mother’s maiden name was Simpole. (Barry is a cousin of Julian Ivan Peter Simpole, who was a Brighton school teacher and who taught Edward Gerard Winter to play chess).

Barry now lives in Halling, Rochester, Kent with his wife Jean.

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Master of FIDE for Chess Compositions (1967) and International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions (1967).

Born on 1st August 1937, Barnes works in transport advertising. He has composed about 250 two-move problems. With Lipton and Rice, he has contributed to the advance of the modern two-mover. Problem Editor of Two-Move and Twin sections of The Problemist. Co-author with M.Lipton and JM Rice of The Two-Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development (Faber and Faber 1966).

Barry Peter Barnes
Barry Peter Barnes

 

BP Barnes
2nd Prize Problem T.T. 1964

White to play and mate in two moves

(a) Diagram
(b) With black pawn at KN2 (g7)

(a) Solution
1. B-R3!

(b) Solution 1. K-K2!

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by GS Botterill, DNL Levy, JM Rice and MJ Richardson :

Barry wrote about himself as follows :

“A promising career as a county chess player came to an end when I was given Brian Harley’s classic book Mate in Two Moves in the belief that it would help my chess, but it had quite the opposite effect. My interest in competitive chess waned, and I was on the road to an an International Master title for problems!

Early influences in my problem career were the weekly chess problem solving competition in The Observer (my first problem published there was in 1955), a teenage friendship with J. M. Rice and M. Lipton (both now lnternational Masters), Herbert Grasemann’s book Problem Schach / with its near revolutionary post-war German problem ideas, and the expert British problemist, A. R. Gooderson who had I but known it only a few years earlier was the officiating master when my Hove Grammar School played Steyning Grammar at chess.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the genuinely original problems I was making in cooperation and in competition with Rice and Lipton were being published mostly abroad in such specialist problem magazines as Die Schwatbe (with its inspired two-move editor, Hermann Albrecht) where I gained the epithet the English prize-snatcher’! It was also written that the work of the avant-garde composers, Rice, Lipton and Barnes, was like a fresh two-move wind blowing from our island. It was sad but true at that time that the specialist magazine of the British Chess problem Society (founded 1918), The problemist, was unreceptive to change and our often bizarre ideas.

A milestone of sorts was reached when I won lst prize for problem I in 1958, a prize for the best new problem by a member of the British Commonwealth aged under 21. In 1966, I was invited by problemist Grandmaster Comins Mansfield, who was President of the FIDE Problem Commission, to act as Secretary at the Barcelona meeting. With Mr. Mansfield’s retirement, I became the British Member to the Commission, and at the Wiesbaden meeting, 1974, I was elected 2nd Vice-President. (1st Vice-President from 1982)

The FIDE Problem Commission meets annually to discuss matters relating to all branches of problem chess, to organize the World Chess Composing Tournament (WCCT), the World Chess Solving Competition (WCSC), and to publish FIDE Album anthologies of the best problems. It was on the strength of my success in these FIDE Albums that the Commission granted me the titles in 1967 of ‘lnternational Master of the FIDE for Chess Composition’ and ‘lnternational Judge of the FIDE for Chess Composition’. Since 1974, I have been Chairman of the Titles Sub-Committee of the Commission.

Since 1965, I have been the two-move editor of The Problemist and have served almost without break on the BCPS Committee. I have contributed to The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks (Robert Hale, 1970), I am co-author, with J. M. Rice and M. Lipton, of The Two-Move Chess Problem: Tradition & Development‘ (Faber A Faber, 1966), and I am the sole author of Comins Mansfield MBE: Chess Problems of a Grandmaster: (British Chess Problem Society, 1976) and Pick of the Best Chess Problems (Elliot Right Way Books, 1976)

To date I have made just over 300 two-movers and some helpmates.”

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:

“British problem composer, output about 400, nearly all modern style two-movers. Two-move sub-editor of The Problemist. Secretary of the FIDE Problem Commission during C. Mansfield’s Presidency. Co-author of The Two-Move Chess Problem: Tradition and Development (1966).”

The Two Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development
The Two Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development

Author of Pick of the Best Chess Problems (1976)

Pick of the best Chess Problems
Pick of the best Chess Problems

Comins Mansfield MBE : Chess Problems of a Grandmaster (1976).

Comins Mansfield MBE: Chess Problems of a Grandmaster, BP Barnes, 1976
Comins Mansfield MBE: Chess Problems of a Grandmaster, BP Barnes, 1976

International Judge (1967); international master (1967).

Source: The Problemist, May 1996. Photo taken March 1996 at the Mansfield Centenary Meeting at Paisley, when Barry Barnes delivered a lecture on Comins Mansfield. Left to right: Geoffrey Mansfield (son of Comins), Robert Gray and Barry Barnes, International Master of Chess Composition.
Source: The Problemist, May 1996. Photo taken March 1996 at the Mansfield Centenary Meeting at Paisley, when Barry Barnes delivered a lecture on Comins Mansfield. Left to right: Geoffrey Mansfield (son of Comins), Robert Gray and Barry Barnes, International Master of Chess Composition.
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Happy Birthday (Arthur) John Roycroft (25-vii-1929)

(Arthur) John Roycroft
(Arthur) John Roycroft

We are delighted to offer (Arthur) John Roycroft best wishes on his birthday, this day (July 25th) in 1929.

John was born in Hendon, London and his mother’s maiden name was Banks.

AJR aged 9, courtesy of the BCPS web site.
AJR aged 9, courtesy of the BCPS web site.

John moved to Brighton and then evacuated to Calcot, North Wales and returned to Brighton when the threat of war had subsided.

He married Betty in 1961 and they had a son and a daughter and now have several grand children.

He claimed that he had never suffered a common cold.

John is Platinum Life Member of the English Chess Federation and an “ECF Supporter”.

The Chess Endgame Study
The Chess Endgame Study

“From The Oxford Companion to Chess (Oxford University Press, 1984) by David Hooper and Ken Whyld :

English study composer and author, International Judge of Chess Compositions (1959), Computer systems analyst.

In 1965 he founded EG, a quarterly publication which became the world’s first and only long-running magazine devoted wholly to studies.

His Test Tube Chess (1972), the best English language guide to the art of studies., was revised and republished as The Chess Endgame Study (1981).

Test Tube Chess, AJ Roycroft, Faber and Faber Limited, 1972, ISBN 0 571 09573 9
Test Tube Chess, AJ Roycroft, Faber and Faber Limited, 1972, ISBN 0 571 09573 9

Studies are commonly classified by means of the GBR code of which he was co-inventor.”

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :

“FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies. Born on 25th July 1929. Founder of the Chess Endgame Study Circle in London in March 1965.and its quarterly magazine EG, the first and only publication exclusively devoted to the composed chess ending. Roycroft who is a computer systems analyst and lives in London, has composed about 20 endgame studies.”

AJ Roycroft

“EG” July 1965

Solution :
1.Bg7 Kb1; 2.Nf6 b4; 3.Kxb4 Kb2 4.Bh8 Nc2+; 5.Ka4 Kxc3 6.Ne4++

Video Chess Event (See caption below)
Video Chess Event (See caption below)
Video Chess Caption
Video Chess Caption

AJR won the BCF President’s Award in 1995.

Here is AJRs Wikipedia entry

Here is AJR talking about himself on the BPCS web site

Here is his entry from the Chess Programming Wiki

Test Tube Chess
Test Tube Chess
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Happy Birthday John Rice (19-vii-1937)

John Michael Rice
John Rice

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

John Michael Rice 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.

An ABC of Chess Problems
An ABC of Chess Problems

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.

John Rice at a Winton Capital BCPS Problem Solving event at Eton College, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Winton Capital British Chess Problem Solving Championships 2016

Together with Barry Barnes and Michael Lipton he wrote the book Chess Problems: Introduction to an Art (Faber & Faber, London 1963).

Chess Problems : Introduction to an Art
Chess Problems : Introduction to an Art

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.

From British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983 by GS Botterill, DNL Levy, JM Rice and MJ Richardson :

“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 prize winner in a tournament for composers under 21, one of a series organised by the British Chess Problem Society.

1

1st Prize, BCPS Under-21 Tournament, 1955

White mates in 2.

1 Bd6 (threat Qg4)
1…Nxd6+;2.Qf3
1…Nh6+;2.Qf3
1…Nxh4+;2.Nf4
1…g4;2.Rh6
1…gxh4;2.Qxh4

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).

2

5th prize, 133rd Theme Tournament, Die Schwalbe, 1961.

White mates in 2

1.N2~? Bg7+!
1.Nd4!? e2!
1.N3~? Bxc5!
1.Ne2! d~!
1.Ne4!!

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.

3

The Tablet, Commended, BCPS Ring Tournament 1958; Brian Harley Award

White mates in 2

1.Rxf4? (threat 2.Rhxf3)
Ne5; 2.Re4
Ng3; 2.Rfxf3
1.Nxf4! (threat 2.Rxf3)
Ne5;2.Ng2
Ng3;2.Nd5

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.

4

4th prize, BCF Tournament 123, 1970

White mates in 2

1.N5b6?, Rxb6/Bxb6/Qd3/Qd6;
2.Qc5/Ne5/Nc5/Qd1 … Qg5!

1…Qg5!

1.N7b6!, Rxb6/Bxb6/Qd3/Qd6/Qxc7;
2.Bc5/Nf4/Nc3/Bc3/Nxc7

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).

5

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)
Ke6;2.Qd6 (C)
Ke7!

Key : 1.Nf6+! Kc6;2.Qd6 (C)
Ke6;2.Qe8 (A)

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.”

6

2nd Prize, BCF Tournament  127, 1971

Serieshelpmate in 13

1.Bd8;2.Kc7;3.Kc6;4.Rf7;5.Rf3;6.Rc2;7.g2;8.Rf7;9.Rb7;10.Kc7;11.Kb8;12.Rc8;13Bc7, Nd7 mate.

John Michael Rice
John Rice

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice write about himself:

“British problem composer, output about 500, mainly modern-style two-movers but also several helpmates, serieshelpmates and fairy problems. Editing: problem section of British Chess Magazine (1961-1974). Author of An ABC of Chess Problems(1970), and co-author of Chess Problems: Introduction to an Art (1963), The Two-move Chess Problem: Tradition and Development (1966) and The Serieshelpmate (1971). International master (1969): International Judge (1972).”

The Two Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development
The Two Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development
John Rice at a Winton Capital BCPS Problem Solving event at Eton College
John Rice at a Winton Capital BCPS Problem Solving event at Eton College
Chess Problems for Solving
Chess Problems for Solving
The Serieshelpmate
The Serieshelpmate
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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Remembering Guy Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980), scanned from Chess Pie 1922 by Michael McDowell
Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980), scanned from Chess Pie 1922 by Michael McDowell

Remembering Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions, Chandler, who was born on 21st August 1889, has composed about 125 two and three-move problems, all in traditional style. Some 30 have gained tourney honours. He was the chess editor of the Hampshire Telegraph and Post from 1911-1921 and he was a founder member of the British Chess Problem Society, Its Hon. Secretary from 1919 – 1925 and Hon. Secretary and Treasurer since 1951.

G.W.Chandler
Commended “The Problemist” 1960

White to play and mate in two moves

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:

“British problemist, active as a composer mainly during the 1920 and 1930s, specialising in model-mate three-movers. Best known for his work as Secretary of the British Chess Problem Society 1919-25 and as Secretary and Treasurer from 1952. International Judge (1957). “

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