Category Archives: Deaths

Remembering Anthony John Miles (23-IV-1955, 12-XI-2001)

GM Anthony John Miles
GM Anthony John Miles

We remember one of the most innovative and best loved English players of all time, Anthony John Miles.

(Text) from Wikipedia :

Personal life

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles was an only child, born 23 April 1955 in Edgbaston, a suburb of Birmingham, and attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham.[1][2] He was married and divorced twice, and had no children.[1] Miles’ first wife was Jana Hartston, who had previously been married to William Hartston.[2]

Early achievements in chess
He learned the game of chess early in life and made good progress nationally, taking the titles of British under-14 Champion and under-21 Champion in 1968[1] and 1971,[3][4] respectively.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

In 1973, Miles won the silver medal at the World Junior Chess Championship at Teesside, his first important event against international competition. Both he and compatriot Michael Stean defeated the tournament winner Alexander Beliavsky, but were unable to match the Soviet player’s ruthlessness in dispatching lesser opponents. Miles went on to win this prestigious title the following year in Manila, while a mathematics undergraduate of the University of Sheffield.[1][2]

Taking the decision to pursue the game professionally, Miles did not complete his studies, but, in 1975, was awarded an MA by the University in respect of his chess achievements.[2]

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Further career highlights
In 1976, Miles became the first UK-born, over-the-board chess grandmaster, narrowly beating Raymond Keene to the accolade.[2] The naturalised, German-born Jacques Mieses was awarded the GM title in 1950, while Keith Bevan Richardson had been awarded the GM title for correspondence chess earlier in 1975. For his achievement, Miles won a £5,000 prize, put up by wealthy businessman and chess backer Jim Slater.[1][2]

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles had a string of good results in the late 1970s and 1980s. He matured into a world class player and won games against high calibre opponents, such as former World Chess Champions Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal and Boris Spassky.

In 1980 at the European Team Championship in Skara, he beat reigning World Champion Anatoly Karpov with Black, using the extremely unorthodox opening 1. e4 a6!?, the St. George Defence. It is often said that Miles learned the line from offbeat openings enthusiast Michael Basman, but in his book Play the St. George, Basman asserts there is no truth to this. Miles beat Karpov again three years later in Bath in a game that was part of the BBC’s Master Game series, but it was shown only by the (co-producing) German television network, due to a BBC technicians’ strike at the time of broadcast.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles won the British Championship just once, in 1982 when the event was held in Torquay. His prime time as a chess player was the mid-1980s. On 20 May 1984 in Roetgen (Germany), Miles set a European record in blind simultaneous chess with 22 games (+10−2=10);[5] this record was not broken until 2009. On the January 1984 Elo rating list, he ranked No. 18 in the world with a rating of 2599. One of his best results occurred at the Tilburg tournament in 1984, where, from a strong field, he emerged sole winner by a clear margin of one and one-half points. The following year, he tied for first at the same event with Robert Hübner and Viktor Korchnoi, playing several of his games while lying face down on a table, having injured his back.[6]

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

The result was controversial, as many of Miles’ opponents felt they were distracted by the unusual circumstances. A string of good performances culminated in a good showing on the January 1986 Elo rating list, where he climbed to a best-ever position of World No. 9 with a rating of 2610. During this period, there was considerable rivalry with Nunn over who was the United Kingdom’s best player, the two protagonists regularly leapfrogging each other in the world rankings. Nigel Short and Speelman soon added to the competition, as the English national squad entered its strongest period.

Anthony John Miles & friends
Anthony John Miles & friends

Never able to qualify out of the Interzonal stages into the Candidates’ series, Miles eventually lost the race to become the first British Candidate when Short did so in 1985. However, he retained top board for England at the Thessaloniki and Dubai Olympiads of 1984 and 1986, helping the team to silver medals at each.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Against Garry Kasparov, Miles had little success, not winning a game against him, and losing a 1986 match in Basel by the score of 5½–½. Following this encounter, Miles commented “I thought I was playing the world champion, not a monster with a thousand eyes who sees everything” (some sources alternatively quote Miles as having the opinion that Kasparov had 22 or 27 eyes).

Kasparov & Miles
Kasparov & Miles

Miles on a stretcher with back pain, playing in Tilburg (1985)
After he was hospitalised because of a mental breakdown in late 1987, Miles moved to the United States. He finished last in the 1988 U.S. Championship, but continued to play there and had some good results. In 1991, he played in the Championship of Australia, but eventually moved back to England and began to represent his native country again. He was equal first at the very strong Cappelle-la-Grande Open in 1994, 1995, and 1997, and caused a shock at the PCA Intel Rapid Chess Grand Prix in London in 1995, when he knocked out Vladimir Kramnik in the first round and Loek van Wely in the second. His bid to win the event was finally halted in the semifinal by English teammate Michael Adams.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

There were four notable victories at the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba (1994, 1995, 1996, and 1999). Miles also tied for first in the 1999 Continental Open in Los Angeles with Alexander Beliavsky, Ľubomír Ftáčnik and Suat Atalık. His last tournament victory was the 2001 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles entered and played at the 2001 British Championship in Scarborough, but withdrew before the final round, apparently because of ill health. His final two games before his death were short draws in the Four Nations Chess League. Miles played in an extraordinary number of chess events during his career, including many arduous weekend tournaments.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

The Miles Variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Bf4) in the Queen’s Indian Defence is named after him.

Remembering Fred Dewhirst Yates (16-I-1884, 11-XI-1932)

Fred Dewhirst Yates
Fred Dewhirst Yates

We remember Fred (not Frederick) Dewhirst (not Dewhurst) Yates who passed, this day (November 11th) in 1932.

From Wikipedia : (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Yates_(chess_player))

Yates almost won the British Championship in 1911, when he tied for first place with Henry Atkins, but lost the play-off. He went on to secure the title in 1913, 1914, 1921, 1926, 1928 and 1931.[2]

Despite considerable domestic success, his record in international tournaments did not do him justice. Often the winner against his strongest opponents, he would then lose to those at the bottom of the table. This was particularly apparent at the Budapest tourney of 1926.

His lack of consistency was attributed to poor health and loss of stamina. A constant hacking cough went unchecked, as his funds did not stretch to a holiday in warmer climes; the advice given by his doctor. He was also subjected to journalistic pressures, frequently reporting on the tournaments in which he was playing. Yet, dedicating himself to the playing side of chess would have earned him insufficient sums to make a living. A number of his contemporaries believed that his talent could have placed him among the world championship contenders, had his circumstances been different. Nevertheless, in his time, he defeated most of his illustrious adversaries, the most notable exceptions being Emanuel Lasker and José Raúl Capablanca. His victory against Alexander Alekhine at Karlsbad in 1923 won the brilliancy prize, while his win against Milan Vidmar at San Remo in 1930 was described by Alekhine as the finest game played since the war.[3]

Fred Dewhirst Yates, Jacoby Archive
Fred Dewhirst Yates, Jacoby Archive

As a journalist he was the chess columnist of the Manchester Guardian and with William Winter, the co-author of Modern Master Play (1929). He wrote accounts of two world championship encounters; those between Alekhine and Capablanca, and Alekhine and Bogoljubow.[4]

In team competition, he played at the first, third and fourth Olympiads, representing the ‘British Empire’ team. On each occasion, he made a plus score and at London 1927, earned a team bronze medal.[5]

His life ended prematurely, when a leaking gas pipe caused him to asphyxiate during his sleep.[6]

According to the inscription on Yates’ gravestone,[7] his birth name was actually Fred Dewhirst Yates. However, throughout his chess career he was known by the name at the head of this article or simply as F.D. Yates, both of which featured in his posthumously published, part-biographical, ‘My Best Games’ Collection.[8]

Fred Dewhirst Yates
Fred Dewhirst Yates

David Welch RIP (30-X-1945, 09-XI-2019)

David Welch, photograph by John Upham
David Welch, photograph by John Upham

We have learnt the sad news that popular longtime Arbiter and Organizer David Welch has passed away at the age of 74 after a long illness : he was being cared for in The Royal Liverpool Hospital.

David was born on Tuesday, October 30th 1945 in Brampton, Chesterfield, Derbyshire and he played for Wallasey Chess Club for many years having initially been a member of Liverpool Chess Club.

He attended Queen’s College, Cambridge reading Natural Sciences (Chemistry) and (according to John Swain) David served Cambridge University Chess Club as Junior Treasurer, Librarian and Bulletin Editor.

In 1968 David and Peter Purland started teaching at the same Liverpool school on the same day and continued their friendship from there.

David became a BCF arbiter in the early 1970s eventually becoming the BCFs Chief Arbiter and then the ECFs Chief Arbiter and was heavily involved in many British Championships around the country.

David was curator of ECF equipment for some time and personally funded much of the BCFs and ECFs early equipment stock.

He became a FIDE International Arbiter as early as 1977 and was awarded the FIDE International Organizer title in 2010.

David shared the exact same date of birth as long time friend and fellow arbiter, Peter Purland.

Here is an excellent tribute from John Saunders

in 2016 David received recognition from FIDE for his long service as an International Arbiter. David was the third English arbiter to receive the honour, following Stewart Reuben and Gerry Walsh in 2014.

David Welch receives FIDE Arbiter Award
David Welch receives FIDE Arbiter Award

We send our condolences to all of his many family and friends.

David Welch, photograph by John Upham
David Welch, photograph by John Upham

Remembering Charles Edward Kemp (18-XI-1901, 09-XI-1986)

We remember Charles Edward Kemp who passed away, this day, November 9th, 1986

Using a Google translation from the Italian(!) wikipedia article we have

Charles Edward Kemp ( Manchester , November 18, 1901 – Manchester , November 9, 1986 ) was a British chess composer .

He composed over 600 problems , many of which were of help and Fairy (with heterodox pieces ). He often collaborated with Thomas Rayner Dawson in editing the Fairy Chess Review , founded by the latter ..

Together with Karl Fabel he wrote the book Schach ohne Grenzen (“Chess Without Borders”), Walter Rau Verlag, Düsseldorf, 1969.

In the second problem reported below, the heterodox piece called Grillo (” Grasshopper ” in English, represented by an inverted Woman ) appears . Remember that this piece moves along the columns or diagonals, but only by skipping a piece (of both colors) and completing the move in the next house; if an opposing piece is found, it will be captured. In any case, even without moving, he acts on this house. The black cricket in c4, for example, can make only five moves: c4-c2, c4xe4, c4-c7, c4-f7 and c4-f1; in all the houses of arrival it does not check the white king.

(From https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Edward_Kemp)

Remembering Jacob Henry Sarratt (?-?-1772, 06-XI-1819)

Jacob Henry Sarratt
Jacob Henry Sarratt

We remember Jacob Henry Sarratt who died 200 years ago today (November 6th) in 1819.

Chess historians will, of course, be familiar with JHS but the name is (probably) not well known outside these exalted circles.

Possibly his most obvious contribution to chess in England was in 1807 when he influenced the result of games that ended in stalemate. You may not know that in England prior to 1807 a game that ended in stalemate was recorded as a win for the party who was stalemated. JHS was able to influence various major chess clubs so that the result be recorded as a draw. Much endgame theory would be different if it wasn’t for JHS !

Outside of chess, JHS was an interesting chap :

The content below has been copied (and we have corrected a few typos along the way) from http://www.edochess.ca/batgirl/Sarratt.html

Also, http://billwall.phpwebhosting.com/articles/Sarratt.htm is worthy of consultation.

Jacob Henry Sarratt, born in 1772, worked primarily as schoolmaster but was much better known for his advocations which, of course, included chess.

After Philidor’s death, Verdoni (along with Leger, Carlier and Bernard – all four who co-authored Traité Théorique et Pratique du jeu des Echecs par une Societé d’ Amateurs) was considered one of the strongest players in the world, especially in England. Verdoni had taken Philidor’s place as house professional at Parsloe’s. He mentored Jacob Sarratt until he died in 1804. That year Sarratt became the house professional at the Salopian at Charing Cross in London and most of his contemporaries considered him London’s strongest player.

There he claimed the title of Professor of Chess while teaching chess at the price of a guinea per game.

By any measure Surratt was not a particularly strong player, but he was able to maintain the illusion that he was by avoiding the stronger players as he lorded over his students who didn’t know better.

Sarratt’s most important contributiion to chess was that he mentored William Lewis who in turn mentored Alexander McDonnell.

Surratt had a strange notion that chess culminated in the 16th century and that everything since then had been a step backwards. This odd notion had a positive side. Philidor was the darling of the English chess scene. Almost all books at that time were versions of, or at least based on, Philidor’s book. Surratt at least kept open the possiblitly that there were ideas beyond those of Philidor.

In 1808, true to his role as a teacher, Surratt published his Treatise on the Game of Chess, a book that mainly concentrated on direct attacks on the king which he lifted from the Modense writers.

He translated several older writers whom he admired (though his translations are not considered particularly good):
The Works of Damiano, Ruy Lopez and Salvio in 1813.
The Works of Gianutio and Gustavus Selenus in 1817.

In 1921 a posthumous edition of his Treatise, A New Treatise on the Game of Chess, was published. This copy covered the game of chess as a whole and was designed for the novice player. It also contained a 98 page analysis of the Muzio Gambit

In addition to his chess books, Surratt also published
[i]History of Man in 1802,
A New Picture of London[/i] in 1803
He translated Three Monks!!! from French in 1803 and Koenigsmark the Robber from German in 1803.

His second wife, Elizabeth Camillia Dufour, was also a writer. In 1803 (before they were married, which was 1804), she published a novel called Aurora or the Mysterious Beauty.

They were married the following year. His first wife had died in 1802 at the age of 18. Both his wives were from Jersey.

Contrary to what one might expect, Sarratt has been described tall, lean and muscular and had even been a prize-fighter at one point. He had also bred dogs for fighting. He was regarded as a very affable fellow and very well-read but with limited taste (Ed : surely this applies to everyone ?)

William Hazlitt, in his essay On Coffee-House Politicians wrote:

[Dr. Whittle] was once sitting where Sarratt was playing a game at chess without seeing the board… Sarratt, who was a man of various accomplishments, afterwards bared his arm to convince us of his muscular strength…
Sarratt, the chess-player, was an extraordinary man. He had the same tenacious, epileptic faculty in other things that he had at chess, and could no more get any other ideas out of his mind than he could those of the figures on the board. He was a great reader, but had not the least taste. Indeed the violence of his memory tyrannised over and destroyed all power of selection. He could repeat [all] Ossian by heart, without knowing the best passage from the worst; and did not perceive he was tiring you to death by giving an account of the breed, education, and manners of fighting-dogs for hours together. The sense of reality quite superseded the distinction between the pleasurable and the painful. He was altogether a mechanical philosopher.”

Somewhere along the way there must have come about a complete reversal of his fortunes because Surratt died impoverished in 1819, leaving his wife destitute. But the resiliant Elizabeth Sarratt was able to support herself by giving chess lessons to the aristocracy of Paris.

She must have been very well liked. In 1843 when she herself became old and unable to provide for herself, players from both England and France took up a fund to help her out. She lived until 1846.

Some games by Jacob Henry Sarratt:

Remembering Reginald Joseph Broadbent (03-VIII-1906, 29-X-1988)

In simultaneous play at the central cafe, Mr. RJ Broadbent pauses at the board of Mr. J. Nowell
In simultaneous play at the central cafe, Mr. RJ Broadbent pauses at the board of Mr. J. Nowell

We remember Reginald Joseph Broadbent who passed away on October 29th 1988

A detailed biography may be found here

Remembering Sir Theodore Henry Tylor (13-V-1900, 23-X-1968)

Sir Theodore Henry Tylor
Sir Theodore Henry Tylor

We remember Sir Theodore Henry Tylor who passed away on October 23rd 1968.

From Wikipedia :

Sir Theodore Henry Tylor (13 May 1900 – 23 October 1968)[1] was a lawyer and international level chess player, despite being nearly blind. In 1965, he was knighted for his service to organisations for the blind. He was Fellow and Tutor in Jurisprudence at Balliol College, Oxford for almost forty years.[2]

Born in Bournville,[1] Tylor learned to play chess at age seven. His chess skill increased while he attended Worcester College for the Blind from 1909 to 1918. He studied at Oxford University beginning in 1918, and captained the Oxford University Chess Club. Tylor received First-class Honours in Jurisprudence in 1922 and was made an honorary scholar of Balliol College. The next year, he became a Bachelor of Civil Law and a lecturer at Balliol College. Called to the Bar by the Inner Temple with a certificate of honour, he was made a Fellow at Balliol College in 1928.[3]

Theodore Henry Tylor, Courtesy of John Saunders and Britbase
Theodore Henry Tylor, Courtesy of John Saunders and Britbase

Tylor competed in twelve British Championships, finishing fourth in his first appearance in 1925. His best result was in 1933, finishing second to Mir Sultan Khan.[2][3] He tied for first at the 1929/30 Hastings Premier Reserves alongside George Koltanowski ahead of Salo Flohr, Josef Rejfiř, Ludwig Rellstab, C.H.O’D. Alexander, Daniël Noteboom, and Milan Vidmar.[2] Tylor played in the top section, the Hastings Premier, nine times beginning in 1930/1. His best finish was 6th= in 1936/7.[3] He was first reserve for the English team at the Hamburg 1930 Chess Olympiad.[3][4]

Tylor won the British Correspondence Chess Championship in 1932, 1933, and 1934.[1][2] He shared 5–6th at Margate 1936 with P. S. Milner-Barry, but he won their individual game and drew with 2nd- to 4th-place finishers José Raúl Capablanca, Gideon Ståhlberg, and Erik Lundin (Salo Flohr won). Although he finished 12th at Nottingham 1936, he had the best score of the British participants, ahead of C. H. O’D. Alexander, G. A. Thomas, and William Winter.[5] Mikhail Botvinnik noted that Tylor was using a tactile chess board that he incessantly fingered, as well as a device for counting the number of moves made.[6]

Tylor was President of the Midland Counties’ Chess Union from 1947 to 1950, but his work for the university and for the welfare of the blind limited the time he had to devote to chess. Tylor also enjoyed bridge.[3] He died in Oxford on 23 October 1968.[1]

Sir Theodore Henry Tylor
Sir Theodore Henry Tylor
Worcester, circa 1931: Mir Sultan Khan (left) plays Theodore Tylor, while Sir George Thomas (far left) and Arthur Mackenzie (far right) spectate. Photo courtesy of Britbase.
Worcester, circa 1931: Mir Sultan Khan (left) plays
Theodore Tylor, while Sir George Thomas (far left) and
Arthur Mackenzie (far right) spectate.
Photo courtesy of Britbase.

Remembering Philip Walsingham Sergeant (27-I-1872, 20-X-1952)

Philip Walsingham Sergeant
Philip Walsingham Sergeant

From Wikipedia :

Philip Walsingham Sergeant (27 January 1872, Notting Hill, London[1] – 20 October 1952)[2] was a British professional writer on chess and popular historical subjects.[3][4] He collaborated on the fifth (1933), sixth (1939), and seventh (1946) editions of Modern Chess Openings, an important reference work on the chess openings. He also wrote biographical game collections of Paul Morphy (Morphy’s Games of Chess (1916) and Morphy Gleanings), Rudolf Charousek (Charousek’s Games of Chess (1919)), and Harry Nelson Pillsbury (Pillsbury’s Chess Career, with W. H. Watts, 1922), and other important books such as A Century of British Chess (1934) and Championship Chess (1938).[3][4]

Harry Golombek writes that, “Without any pretensions to mastership, he represented Oxford University in the years 1892-5”.[3] Golombek considers A Century of British Chess probably Sergeant’s best chess book, but opines that although Sergeant’s chess books are lucidly written, they suffer from the defect that, as a non-master, he was not competent to deal with the annotational aspect of his work.[3]

He was a second cousin of Edward Guthlac Sergeant.[1]

Philip Walsingham Sergeant
Philip Walsingham Sergeant

Remembering Charles Masson Fox (09-XI-1866, 11-X-1935)

Charles Masson Fox
Charles Masson Fox

From Wikipedia :

Charles Masson Fox (9 November 1866 – 11 October 1935) was a Cornish businessman who achieved international prominence in the world of chess problems and a place in the gay history of Edwardian England.

Masson Fox was born into a Quaker family (although he was not related to the Quakers’ founder George Fox) and was a cousin of the fraudulent sinologist Sir Edmund Backhouse, 2nd Baronet. Living throughout his life in the Cornish seaside town of Falmouth, Fox in the early decades of his life was a senior partner of his family’s timber firm, Fox Stanton & Company, and was also on the Board of Messrs G C Fox & Company, a long-established firm of shipping agents.

C.M.Fox’s gravestone at Budock Quaker Burial Ground
Fox is described by chess historian Thomas Rayner Dawson (1889–1951) as “a friendly man, kind, mellow, lovable, bringing peace and comfort and serene joy with him”. He was also a discreet but active homosexual. In 1909 he visited Venice with his friend James Cockerton, meeting the writer Frederick Rolfe and becoming the reluctant recipient of Rolfe’s famous Venice Letters, in which the gay subculture of Venice is vividly described.

In 1912–13 Fox was blackmailed by a woman who accused him of seducing her 16-year-old son. Eventually Fox reported the matter to the police and the woman was sent to prison for five years and her son for one year, with hard labour.[1] However, Fox was profoundly affected by the publicity surrounding the case, which was reported in detail in the local press. The predictable result of his courageous action was the destruction of his reputation, and the compromise of his business and social life in Falmouth.

Although he continued to live in Cornwall, the focus of his social life shifted to London, and in the last two decades of his life, Fox became prominent in the world of chess. He was elected President of the Cornwall Chess Association, played a prominent part in the development of the British Chess Problem Society, and is still renowned as one of the greatest ever exponents of fairy chess (chess problems with variations in the rules).

Charles Masson Fox
Charles Masson Fox

Remembering Eileen Betsy Tranmer (05-V-1910, 26-IX-1983)

WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer
WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer

We remember WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer who passed away on September 26th, 1983.

From Wikipedia :

Eileen Betsy Tranmer (5 May 1910 – 26 September 1983) was an English musician and chess player who held the title of Woman International Master (WIM, 1950). She was a four-time winner of the British Women’s Chess Championship (1947, 1949, 1953, 1961).

From the end of the 1940s to the start of the 1960s, she was one of England’s leading women chess players. Eileen Betsy Tranmer four times won the British Women’s Chess Championships: 1947, 1949, 1953 and 1961[1]. In 1950, Eileen Betsy Tranmer participated at Women’s World Chess Championship in Moscow where shared 5th-7th place[2]. In 1952, she participated at Women’s World Chess Championship Candidates Tournament in Moscow and ranked 7th place[3]. In 1950, she was awarded the FIDE International Women Master (WIM) title.

On 20 June 1946 Tranmer played (and lost) a “radio chess” match against the Russian woman chess player Valentina Byelova. Tranmer was one of two women who were part of a twelve-member British team who played in a four-day radio chess tournament. The British team played their moves in London while the Soviet team played their moves in Moscow.[4][5]

Eileen Betsy Tranmer played for England in the Women’s Chess Olympiad:[6]

In 1957, at second board in the 1st Chess Olympiad (women) in Emmen (+3, =8, -3).
In addition to participating in chess tournaments, Eileen Betsy Tranmer also was prominent clarinettist. In March 1940, she gave concerts with Scottish Orchestra. From 1950 she working with Sadler’s Wells Orchestra along with another British clarinetist, Thea King[7].

WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce
WIM Eileen Betsy Tranmer & WIM Rowena Mary Bruce