Category Archives: History

Remembering Samuel Boden (04-v-1826 13-i-1882)

Samuel Standidge Boden
Samuel Standidge Boden

We remember Samuel Boden, who passed away on this day, Friday, January 13th in 1882 at 3 Tavistock Street, Bedford Square, Middlesex.

Death notice for Samuel Standidge Boden from The London Gazette of 21 Apr 1882
Death notice for Samuel Standidge Boden from The London Gazette of 21 Apr 1882

Samuel Standidge Boden was born on Thursday, May 4th, 1826 in East Retford, Nottinghamshire. His parents were James (b. 1795/96) and Mary Frances Boden (b. 1800/01).

(Several secondary and tertiary sources give the birth month as April. It would appear that a transcription error was responsible.)

James was an Independent Congregational Minister who worked in West Retford and was responsible for recording parish birth and baptismal (and probably marriage) records including those of his own children.

Samuel was baptised by his father (for the first time!) on July 27th at Chapel Gate (independent) Church.

Birth and (first) baptismal record of Samuel Standidge Boden recorded by his father.  The record set is "England & Wales Non-Conformist Births And Baptisms"
Birth and (first) baptismal record of Samuel Standidge Boden recorded by his father. The record set is “England & Wales Non-Conformist Births And Baptisms”

Samuel had at least nine siblings and the details of these plus other family members (including multiple baptisms) may be found on Steve Mann’s Yorkshire Chess History.

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

Boden was considered by Paul Morphy to be the strongest player in England in 1858. However, he is generally considered to have ranked below Staunton and to have been either the second of third strongest player, the other player being Buckle.

Born in Hull on 4th April 1826, Boden first came to the notice of British chess players when he won a provincial tournament in 1851. In 1858 he played two matches against John Owen , winning both, the first by +5 -3 =1 and the second by +5 -1. He played in very few major tournaments and his strength ws judged mainly from friendly games and small tournaments. He was the author of A Popular Introduction to Chess and conducted the chess column in The Field for 13 years.

He died of typhoid fever on 13th January 1882 and is buried in Woking, Surrey.

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

English player active in the 1850s. In 1851 he wrote A Popular Introduction to the Study and Practice of Chess, an excellent guide introducing the Boden-Kieseritzky Gambit which at once became popular. In the same year he won the ‘provincial tournament” run concurrently with the London international tournament. At Manchester 1857, a knock-out event, he came second to Lowenthal— he drew one game of the final match and then withdrew. In 1858 Boden defeated Owen in a match ( + 7=2-3) and he played many friendly games with Morphy, who declared him to be the strongest English player; since Staunton and Buckle had retired this judgement was probably right. Also in 1858 he restarted the chess column in The Field , handing over to de Vere in 1872. The column has continued uninterruptedly ever since. Besides chess and his work as a railway company employee Boden found time to become a competent amateur painter and an art critic.

Samuel Standidge Boden
Samuel Standidge Boden

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek OBE :

British master, considered by Morphy to have been the strongest opponent whom he played while in England (Boden’s record against Morphy in casual games was +1-6=4). Tournament results include 2nd Manchester 1857 and 2nd Bristol 1861. Chess editor of The Field 1858-1873. His name is linked with the Boden-Kieseritsky Gambit : 1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.Nf3 Nxe4 4. Nc3 Nxc3 5.dxc3 f6 (article authored by Ray Keene).

Samuel Standidge Boden
Samuel Standidge Boden

Most players will be familiar with matting pattern that is Boden’s Mate using two bishops in a cross pattern.

Here is an example puzzle from 1001 Chess Exercises for Club Players that demonstrates the pattern :

White to play and checkmate.

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Remembering William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)

William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)
William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)

We remember William Ritson Morry who passed away on Saturday, January 8th, 1994.

(A point of detail : It is incorrect, but many do, to write WRM hyphenated. His first name was William, his middle name was Ritson and his surname was Morry. He chose to use his middle name and was known by his friends as Ritson. Maybe this was because he father was also William Morry?)

WRM was born in the Wirral on Monday, September 5th 1910 and his father  was William Doughty Morry (born 16th July 1877). William was a sub-postmaster and seller of fancy goods. His mother was Norah Morry (née Holloway) who undertook “unpaid domestic duties”.

Ritson attended Friars School, Bangor (established in 1557) along with BH Wood. BHW was one year and three months older than WRM so it is entirely possible that they had met.

In the 1939 register he is recorded as being a solicitor with his own practice and was living at 294 Walmley Road, Royal Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire with his parents : he was 29 years old.

294 Walmley Road, Royal Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, B76, 2PL
294 Walmley Road, Royal Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire, B76, 2PL

In 1940 WRM married Nellie Cooper in Sutton Coldfield.

In 1943 WRM was mentioned in the London Gazette several times:

WRM appears in the London Gazette in 1943.
WRM appears in the London Gazette in 1943.

It would appear that this was the start of his first bankruptcy proceedings..

WRM was, by now, living at “Lyndon”, Coleshill Road, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire :

Lyndon, Coleshill Road, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire
Lyndon, Coleshill Road, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire

and in the same year on September 30th he was officially made bankrupt as recorded in the London Gazette, order number 195. This notice was repeated in the Edinburgh Gazette of the same year.

On the 8th of June 1944 he was recorded as being struck-off the list of solicitors under the Solicitors Acts of 1932 to 1941. It was determined that WRM had engaged in “fraudulent conversion of clients money”

Birmingham Daily Post 30 October 1945
Birmingham Daily Post 30 October 1945

For more on this see the excellent Chess in the Courts by Edward Winter.

In 1954 WRM sued BH Wood for libel over a letter BHW sent to Henry Golding of the Monmouthshire County Chess Association warning him of WRMs financial history. Here is a summary of the action :

The Birmingham Post, July 15th, 1954
The Birmingham Post, July 15th, 1954

In 1983 WRM was living at Flat 2, 53, Mayfield Road, Moseley, Birmingham, West Midlands and recorded as a Retired Chess Journalist. Elsewhere he was recorded as a freelance chess and cricket journalist.

57, Mayfield Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9HT
57, Mayfield Road, Moseley, Birmingham, B13 9HT

and, unfortunately, in this year he made another appearance in the London Gazette (2nd September 1983) having been made bankrupt.

London Gazette, 2nd September 1983
London Gazette, 2nd September 1983

However, despite these unfortunate life events WRMs contribution to chess goes above and beyond them as he won the BCF President’s Award in 1984.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXIV (114, 1994), Number 2 (February), pp. 98 – 99 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty:

W Ritson Morry – a Tribute

That great chess character, known to everybody simply as Ritson, has left us in the fullness of years, coincidentally during the first Hastings Congress he missed for decades.

William Ritson Morry (5 ix 1910-8 i 1994) was a player, organiser, writer, arbiter and occasional sponsor of tournaments whose life touched so many aspects of chess that it is hard to know where to begin.

William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)
William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)

Ritson was educated in North Wales at the same school as BH Wood. Both were at Birmingham University at the same time, after which Ritson trained as a solicitor. As early as 1930 he founded the Birmingham Junior League, and a little later wrote a chess column for a time for a local newspaper, though Ritson is hardly the first person you think of as someone who would hit deadlines consistently. He was equal second in a rather unrepresentative British Championship of 1936 and equal third in 1951. An unfortunate incident in the mid-1940s led to him being struck off, whereupon he became a chess professional, who eked out a precarious living for the last 48 years of his life. Yet, I never heard him complain, for he was able to immerse himself in chess full time, and what could be better than that?

William Ritson Morry playing Baruch Harold Wood at the British Championships in Blackpool from 1956
William Ritson Morry playing Baruch Harold Wood at the British Championships in Blackpool from 1956

He ran a series of newsletters, which hardly covered their expenses and produced and British Championship and Hastings bulletins for many years. 1951 was a significant year in his life, for he gained the FIDE Arbiter title (he was always an expert on the rules and many of the conventions we all play to were codified by him, or under his guidance). Later on Ritson, a great raconteur, was the life and soul of the show in Hastings which, along with the Warwickshire chess team and Erdington CC, was the great love of his life.

Aberystwyth Chess Congress 1955, W Ritson Morry and KL Gardiner, En Passant Chess Publications, 1955
Aberystwyth Chess Congress 1955, W Ritson Morry and KL Gardiner, En Passant Chess Publications, 1955

At times he seemed to run Hastings almost single-handed in the Frank Rhoden era. In fact GM Vasyukov went back to Moscow in 1966 and wrote that Ritson Morry was the only controller to be seen in the morning, afternoon and evening sessions of play. I recall that Ritson was amused when I told him of this, but did not demur. To show that there was life in the old dog, he organised a series of Birmingham international tournaments in the 1970s at which Tony Miles got much of his early experience.

Tackle Chess by William Ritson-Morry & W Melville Mitchell
Tackle Chess by William Ritson-Morry & W Melville Mitchell

One such tournament was financed by him alone, on the basis of the sale of a piece of land in Sutton Coldfield where a change of planning status had led to a windfall profit.

 

Hastings Chess Congress 1955-56, RG Wade & W. Ritson Morry, En Passant Chess Publications
Hastings Chess Congress 1955-56, RG Wade & W. Ritson Morry, En Passant Chess Publications

He also saved Hastings in late 1974,by giving a partial guarantee when another sponsor reduced his contribution. A few years later the Inland Revenue made him bankrupt when they could not get their piece of the action out of the deal. Doubtless Ritson thought that the money had gone to a worthier cause. I must not fail to mention his love of gambling or his erudition. Many is the time when you could have an exposition from him of the law of England, the practice of the courts and the police, or the political news of the day.

William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)
William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)

He was deeply immersed in local Labour Party politics in Birmingham and was a friend of football referee, ‘rainmaker’ Dennis Howell, one-time Minister for Sport. Ritson also played a great deal of postal chess, winning the British title in 1943. His book on the game written in conjunction with a Birmingham schoolmaster Mel Mitchell is a very instructive one, and he also wrote many reports and amusing articles for BCM, particularly one on of the failings of the Elo rating system regulations.

Here is a game Ritson won against the veteran German GM at the London Easter congress of 1940:

Bernard wrote about WRM a year later for the centenary edition of the programme for the Hastings International Congress :

“‘Ritson’ as we all knew him was an institution in British Chess, active as a player, writer,  organiser, drafter of rules and well-known for his skill as a raconteur, Educated in North Wales, he spent the rest of his life, from university days onwards, in Birmingham, but the Hastings Congress was very close to his heart.  He played in a number of pre-war events, and also a few post-war, but by the time of the Frank Rhoden revival of the mid-1950s he was firmly in the saddle organising the post-Christmas traditional event. In fact I recall how perturbed Frank Rhoden was when the news came that Ritson might emigrate to the West Indies.  It was not clear then how he could be replaced, for he supervised the morning, afternoon and evening sessions at the Sun Lounge (his favourite venue) and later at the Falaise Hall when the congress was still of such a size that we could all, including the Premier, be fitted into one room.

William Ritson-Morry
William Ritson Morry

Ritson also did game commentaries for some years and produced a bulletin for at least three decades. He was greatly encouraging of younger talent and the objective historian has to recall the indignation he felt when players like Tony Miles and Nigel Short were not happy with the restraints imposed by financial stringency.

Hastings bench memorial bench for William Ritson Morry
Hastings bench memorial bench for William Ritson Morry

In his declining years Ritson was still a regular until his illness of late 1993, and a fixture at the “gate” where the public paid their entrance money at the Cinque Ports Hotel. The choice of word is deliberate as a visit to the dogs and the bookmaker was one of his rare pleasures outside chess.  Best of all, however, one recalls him telling his fund of stories and reminisces to anyone who cared to listen. His voice, alas, has been stilled, and we are left to recall his selfless devotion to chess and, in particular, to the Hastings Congress.

Here is an obituary from the Midland Counties Chess Union

Here is an in-depth article from William Hartston in The Independent

William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)
William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)

Here is a biography from the Midland Counties  Chess Union newsletter from 1994.

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

Midlands organiser and player who was a chess professional and journalist. As a player his best performances were an =2nd in the British Championship 1936 and an = 3rd in 1951.

In the international field his best results have been an =3rd with List in the Major Open A section of the Nottingham congress of 1936 and =1st with Milner-Barry in the Premier Reserves A at the Hastings congress 1946/7. He has played for England in international matches against the Netherlands (thrice) and against Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

William Ritson Morry talking about Malik Mir Sultan Kahn
William Ritson Morry talking about Malik Mir Sultan Kahn

A keen and accomplished correspondence player, he had the title of British Postal Master on account of his winning the British Correspondence Championship in 1943.

But it is as tournament and congress organiser that he is best known. He founded the Birmingham Junior League in 1930 and has organised thirty-four Birmingham congresses. He conceived the idea of a junior world championship and in 1951 he held the first World Junior Championship tournament at Birmingham (won by Borislav Ivkov). In the same year he was awarded the title of FIDE judge. He has also had much to do with the organisation of the Hastings Christmas chess congresses in the 1970s.

William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)
William Ritson Morry (05-ix-1910 08-i-1994)

He has written much for British chess magazines and was the co-author along with the late W. R. Mitchell  of Tackle Chess, London, 1967.

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Remembering GM Harry Golombek OBE (01-iii-1911 07-i-1995)

Harry Golombek, OBE (from the rear cover of A History of Chess)
Harry Golombek, OBE (from the rear cover of A History of Chess)
Signature of H Golombek from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Southsea 1951.
Signature of H Golombek from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Southsea 1951.

We remember Harry Golombek OBE who passed away on Saturday, January 7th, 1995.

Harry Golombek was born on Wednesday, March 1st, 1911 in Lambeth, London and his parents were Barnet (Berl) Golombek (Golabek) (1878-1943) and Emma Golombek (née  Sendak) (1883-1967).

The Polish word Golabek translates to “small dove” in English.

Barnet was a “Dealer of gas fittings” and was 33 when Harry was born and Emma was 26. Both of his parents were born in Zambov which is in the Lomza Gubernia region of the Kingdom of Poland which existed from 1867 – 1917. Their nationalities are both recorded as Russian in the 1911 UK census.  we don’t know (as yet) when Barnet and Emma settled in the UK.

Harry had a brother Abraham (born in 1906) and a sister Rosy born in 1908. The family lived in 200b, Railton Road, Herne Hill. Lambeth.

200b, Railton Road, Herne Hill, Lambeth, SE24 0JT
200b, Railton Road, Herne Hill, Lambeth, SE24 0JT

He is a recorded with a service number of 992915 as being a member of The Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1939 and was discharged as having reached the age limit in 1956 aged 45 and one day.

Harry Golombek's record of discharge in 1956 from the Army.
Harry Golombek’s record of discharge in 1956 from the Army.

Harry married his long time nurse, Noel Frances Judkins (1941 – 2011) in January 1988 and they had (born in 1992) one son : Oliver Golombek-Judkins  BVSc MRCVS who is a successful Somerset based veterinary surgeon. The marriage was recorded in the district of Kensington & Chelsea.

37, Albion Crescent, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, HP8 4ET : the home of Harry Golombek OBE
37, Albion Crescent, Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, HP8 4ET : the home of Harry Golombek OBE

The date of probate was 22 Mar 1995 and the executor of HGs will was David Anderton OBE.

In 1966 Harry became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Civil division awarded in the 1966 Queen’s Birthday (rather than New Years) Honours list.

The citation read simply :

Harry Golombek. For services to Chess : He was the first UK person to be so honoured.

Hastings memorial bench for Harry Golombek OBE
Hastings memorial bench for Harry Golombek OBE, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

The Harry Golombek memorial bench at St Giles Churchyard, Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire. Photogra[h courtesy of Geoff Chandler.
The Harry Golombek memorial bench at St Giles Churchyard, Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire. Photograph courtesy of Geoff Chandler.
The Harry Golombek memorial bench at St Giles Churchyard, Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire. Photogra[h courtesy of Geoff Chandler.
The Harry Golombek memorial bench at St Giles Churchyard, Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire. Photograph courtesy of Geoff Chandler.
In 1985 Harry was awarded the long overdue (but Honorary) title of Grandmaster by FIDE.

Harry was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion in the 1955-56 and 1963-64 seasons.

Harry was in 1974-82 a FIDE Zonal President and from 1978-96 he was the FIDE Permanent Fund Administrator.

Sadly, he never received the Presidents Award for Services to Chess from either the BCF or ECF : maybe a posthumous award is long overdue?

Harry Golombek, aged 20, becomes the youngest winner of the Surrey Challenge Cup in 1931. British Chess Magazine 1931, September, page 419.
Harry Golombek, aged 20, becomes the youngest winner of the Surrey Challenge Cup in 1931. British Chess Magazine 1931, September, page 419.

Here (from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXXII (132), 2011, Number 3 (March), pp.150-154 is an affectionate collection of memories from Bernard Cafferty :

“In recalling four decades of knowing the GOM of 20th century English chess, one has to stress the ‘English’ aspect. The ‘Harry’ part of his name was much more significant than the Polish surname, and, though he was the most cosmopolitan of men, who fitted into any milieu, my abiding memory of him always throws up the quirks that are the sign of an Englishman. I wonder how many of my readers recall the classic English actors Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, whose main preoccupation in their films was…. getting to know the latest cricket score from Lords or The Oval.

Harry Golombek. Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match
Harry Golombek. Source : The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match

Indeed, Harry was a long-time member of Surrey Cricket Club, and once, when he came back from being an arbiter at an international tournament in Tenerife, his main comment to me was not about the event or the players, but rather that the volcanic rock of the Atlantic island made for brackish water, so that one could not get…. a decent cup of tea!

Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women's world championship (held concurrently with the 1939 Buenos Aires Olympiad) which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden
Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women’s world championship (held concurrently with the 1939 Buenos Aires Olympiad) which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden

I first met Harry in the early 1950s when I was a teenage student keen on chess and accordingly spent my meagre pocket money on a day out in Manchester to watch the Counties Final match between Lancashire and the all-conquering Middlesex side of those years. Harry and I were about the only spectators. He was there reporting for The Times. I recall that the top board game was between the veterans William Winter and WA Fairhurst. The game duly appeared in the BCM with Harry’s notes, for he was the long-serving Games Editor of that august publication.

Players at the 1946 British Championships in Nottingham : Back (from left to right): Gabriel Wood, Reginald Broadbent, Philip Milner-Barry, Andrew RB Thomas, Baruch H Wood. Front (from left to right): Bob Wade, Frank Parr, William Winter, Robert Combe, Hugh Alexander, Harry Golombek, Gerald Abrahams.. Photograph : BritBase
Players at the 1946 British Championships in Nottingham : Back (from left to right): Gabriel Wood, Reginald Broadbent, Philip Milner-Barry, Andrew RB Thomas, Baruch H Wood. Front (from left to right): Bob Wade, Frank Parr, William Winter, Robert Combe, Hugh Alexander, Harry Golombek, Gerald Abrahams.. Photograph : BritBase

Perhaps I may enter a belated correction to “Who’s Who” here. Some editions stated that he was editor of BCM after the Second World War. Not so. His stint in the editorial chair was 1938-40, after which he was called up, initially being assigned to the Royal Artillery. Perhaps that is a sign of the speciality of the Services – fitting a square peg in a round hole – but he was swiftly transferred to the Intelligence Corps, perhaps at the behest of Hugh Alexander who knew that Harry had studied German at his London grammar school in Camberwell and then at London University.

The Judges / Arbiters from the 1953 Zurich Candidates tournament : Harry Golombek, Alois Nagler and Alex Crisovan
The Judges / Arbiters from the 1953 Zurich Candidates tournament : Harry Golombek, Alois Nagler and Alex Crisovan

Clearly, under the conditions of 1940, a linguist was just what was needed to make up the team of mathematicians, cryptographers and such like who were tasked with breaking the secrecy of German coded messages.

The BCF Team at the Amsterdam Olympiad 1954. Left to right : Barden, Clarke, Penrose, Wade, Golombek (board three) and Alexander
The BCF Team at the Amsterdam Olympiad 1954. Left to right : Barden, Clarke, Penrose, Wade, Golombek (board three) and Alexander

I once mentioned the misunderstanding over the “Who’s Who” entry to Brian Reilly. He laughed it off, saying that it was almost certainly the abiding fault of HG – not taking Brian’s repeated advice to fit a new typewriter ribbon!

Harry Golombek and Gordon Crown in around 1946-47.
Harry Golombek and Gordon Crown in around 1946-47.

I could relate to that since Harry’s handwritten game scores, written in pencil and descriptive notation, were very hard to decipher, a real scribble that only the man himself could make sense of. When I asked him why he did not use algebraic notation, he commented that he wrote for so many English-language outlets: The Times, The Times Weekend Supplement, Observer and chess book publishers like Bells and Penguin who knew their audiences of those years were supporters of the Pawn to King’s Knight Three school. In fact, Harry commented, he had made more money out of his Penguin book The Game of Chess than from all his other extensive book authorship and journalism.

The Game of Chess, Harry Golombek, 1954, Penguin Books
The Game of Chess, Harry Golombek, 1954, Penguin Books

and the paperback version :

The Game of Chess, Harry Golombek, 1954, Penguin Books
The Game of Chess, Harry Golombek, 1954, Penguin Books

Moreover, it took him about three whole days to assemble the documents and papers to enable him to fill in his income tax form.

Harry Golombek simultaneous display at Hull Chess Club. Year and photographer unknown
Harry Golombek simultaneous display at Hull Chess Club. Year and photographer unknown

That reminds me that, when he was in his final years, and in an old person’s rest home, he arranged for his extensive library to be transferred in many large tea chests from his house in Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, to the St Leonards address where I had worked for the BCM for the last 12 years and which had recently been vacated as a result of Murray Chandler deciding to transfer BCM operations to London. I had the task, arranged with The Friends of Chess and the BCF, to do a sort-out and preliminary catalogue of his books and magazines which Harry was bequeathing to the BCF to form the nucleus of a National Chess Library. That would be a pleasant enough task, but it was prolonged into many weeks by having to decant the valuable chess material from the tea chests, much of it covered in dust and even spiders’ webs, from the many financial and other papers to do with his financial affairs. It was then that I first learned what a ‘tip sheet’ was, and it was not until stockbroker David Jarrett, BCF Hon Treasurer, came down for a visit that the dross amongst the many papers was separated from the gold and passed to Harry’s executor David Anderton.

Harry Golombek contemplates his options after White (JH Donner) played 9.a3 in the 1952 Anglo-Dutch Match. Donner won in 33 moves and the game was BCM #11,074
Harry Golombek contemplates his options after White (JH Donner) played 9.a3 in the 1952 Anglo-Dutch Match. Donner won in 33 moves and the game was BCM #11,074

Reverting to the cup of tea story, the first time I got to know Harry well was at the British Championship at Leicester in 1960. Many of the participants were lodged in University accommodation near the venue. Every evening, after play had finished, a number of us got together for a chat over a cup of tea in the accommodation unit’s kitchen. There Harry would regale us with stories from his many visits abroad, particularly to Moscow for the world title matches involving Botvinnik. Harry had formed many interesting views on Soviet society. Amongst the stories he told was of the all-pervasive dead hand of the bureaucracy. He was used to filing his reports on the match in English at the Central Post Office. One day, a clerk behind the grille, told him he could not accept it, since the regulations stated that all outgoing material had to be in Russian.

Harry Golombek, Stanley Sedgwick, Brian Reilly and DJ Morgan in the garden of Brian Reilly. Photo probably taken by Freddy Reilly.
Harry Golombek, Stanley Sedgwick, Brian Reilly and DJ Morgan in the garden of Brian Reilly. Photo probably taken by Freddy Reilly.

With his logical mind, and not appreciating the discipline and associated bureaucracy which the rulers tried to impose on Soviet society, Harry commented that “Yesterday, I submitted in English and it was accepted”, at which the clerk drew herself up to her full height and stated firmly: “Yesterday was yesterday, today is today”. Harry’s considered views included these: Communism would never be made to work properly in Russia, since the Russians lack the requisite discipline. “They should have tried it on the Germans. They might have made it work”. He once commented that when he went to Germany in the decade or so after the war, he was aware that some of those whom he met had been strong supporters of Nazism: “If they had had their way, they would have turned me into a bar of soap!”. I got a benefit from Harry being in Moscow. I wanted to get a copy of Chigorin’s collected games by Grekov, a very rare item. Harry duly promised to seek one out on his next visit to Moscow and a second-hand copy of this fine book came to me through the post some weeks later. No charge to me, of course.

Harry Golombek in play against Borislav Ivkov, Hastings 1955/6.
Harry Golombek in play against Borislav Ivkov, Hastings 1955/6.

Harry played a big role in drawing up the Rules of Chess as they applied to post-1945 competitive play. He served on the appropriate FIDE commission for decades and always argued that too precise a codification limited the discretion of the arbiter to apply a common sense solution to a concrete set of circumstances. Alas, that sensible approach has been moved away from in recent times, especially with the introduction of quick-play finishes and associated fine points about time limits.

Kick Langeweg plays Hugh Alexander in the Anglo-Dutch Match of October 7th , 1961. Peter Clarke (right) is playing Johan Teunis Barendregt and Harry Golombek observes
Kick Langeweg plays Hugh Alexander in the Anglo-Dutch Match of October 7th , 1961. Peter Clarke (right) is playing Johan Teunis Barendregt and Harry Golombek observes

A final shrewd comment from Harry, based on his Moscow experience: “In 1917, the new Bolshevik regime claimed that they were abolishing all titles, privilege and so on. The result? Forty years later they have the most class-conscious society I have encountered.” One proof of this might be given – the Soviet internal passport system, one point of which required the holder (and for a long time no peasant was allowed such an identity document – who, then, could claim that the Tsar had abolished serfdom in the middle of the 19th century?) to state his/her ethnic origin: Russian, Ukrainian, Kalmyk, Armenian, Jew and so on. The Western mind boggles… ”

Harry Golombek during a team event, Jonathan Penrose on the adjacent board.
Harry Golombek during a team event, Jonathan Penrose on the adjacent board.

We leave the final word in reminiscences of Golombek to his near-neighbour in Chalfont St Giles, Barry Sandercock :

” Harry was a very interesting man to talk to and liked to talk about the early days when he played against some of the great players. He was also very knowledgeable on many subjects, the arts, music etc. I played him when he gave a simul at Gerrards Cross in 1955 (Jan.21st} and managed a draw after 3 hours play. I remember, the local paper once wrote an article about him, calling him an ex-world champion. I got a letter published where I pointed out that he was an ex-British Champion not ex-world champion. I hope he didn’t see that!”

Harry Golombek awaits the start of the game during an Anglo team match.
Harry Golombek awaits the start of the game during an Anglo team match.

“To finish, a characteristic Golombek game, with his own notes. I (Ed) have selected one of the games from his victorious British Championship playoff match against Broadbent in 1947. It is characteristic of him in many ways. The game features a typically smooth positional build-up, from his beloved English Opening, played with the Nh3 development plan, which was a particular favourite of his. The notes are also very typically Golombek – concentrating in the main on verbal explanations, with relatively few variations, but also characterised by occasionally extreme dogmatism in his assessments, such as the notes to moves 1, 2 and 6, for example. The game and notes were published in the December 1947 issue of The British Chess Magazine.”

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

“Harry Golombek is a Londoner, He was born in 1911, and learned chess when twelve years of age. He is another of those who went through the mill of the British Boys’ Championship, winning it in 1926. He has played in most English international tournaments, and has represented Great Britain in team tournaments. In the London International Tournament, 1946, he came fifth.

A graduate of London University, he served in the Foreign Office during the war, but has since retired to the country (Chalfont St. Giles). His literary activities include 50 Great Games of Modern Chess

Fifty Great Games of Modern Chess, Harry Golombek,
Fifty Great Games of Modern Chess, Harry Golombek,

Legend, according to James Pratt, has it that HG wrote the book without the aid of a chess set!

and Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games.

Capablanca's 100 Best Games of Chess, H. Golombek, Bell and Sons, London, 1947
Capablanca’s 100 Best Games of Chess, H. Golombek, Bell and Sons, London, 1947

He reports chess tournaments for The Times, and edits The Times Weekly chess column.

The World Chess Championship 1954
The World Chess Championship 1954

His chess is perhaps not inspired and lacks the spark of enterprise, but he is a solid player on the whole and is apt to hold the best to a draw.”

Here is HGs entry from Hooper & Whyld (The Oxford Companion to CHESS) :

“English player and author. International Master (1950), International Arbiter (1954), honorary Grandmaster (1985). In 1945 Golombek became chess correspondent of The Times, a position he held until 1989. Also in 1945 he decided to become a professional chess-player.

The World Chess Championship 1957, Macgibbon & Kee, H. Golombek
The World Chess Championship 1957, Macgibbon & Kee, H. Golombek

He won the British Championship three times (1947, 1949, 1955) and was equal first in 1959 but lost the play-off (to Jonathan Penrose) and played in nine Olympiads from 1935 to 1962. An experienced arbiter and a good linguist, supervisor of many important tournaments and matches, he served for 30 years on the FIDE Commission that makes, amends, and arbitrates upon The laws and rules of chess.

His many books include Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games (1947),

The World Chess Championship 1948 (1949),

The World Chess Championship by Harry Golombek
The World Chess Championship by Harry Golombek

Réti’s Best Games of Chess (1954),

Réti's Best Games of Chess, Harry Golombek, Bell, 1954
Réti’s Best Games of Chess, Harry Golombek, Bell, 1954

and A History of Chess (1976).”

Chess : A History, H. Golombek, Putnam, London, New York, 1976
Chess : A History, H. Golombek, Putnam, London, New York, 1976

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

“International Master and International Chess Judge. British Champion in 1947, 1949 and 1955. Captained the British Chess Federation team for many years in Chess Olympiads. In the 1972 Olympiad, captained the BCF women’s team. Chess author and chess correspondent of The Times since 1945 and the Observer since 1955. British Chess Federation to FIDE.

Post-banquet photograph - left to right : Harry Golombek, Andras Adorjan, Danny Wright, Brian Eley, Michael Stean, D. Silk, Robert Silk, AK Henderson. The Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament, Canterbury, 1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 5, page 192
Post-banquet photograph – left to right : Harry Golombek, Andras Adorjan, Danny Wright, Brian Eley, Michael Stean, D. Silk, Robert Silk, AK Henderson. The Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament, Canterbury, 1973. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume 93, Number 5, page 192

Born in London on 1st March 1911, Golombek learned to play chess at the age of 12 and in 1929 won the London Boy’s Championship. Two years later he became the youngest player to win the Surrey Championships. After graduating in languages at London University, Golombek devoted his full time to chess, apart from the way years, when served in the army and at the Foreign Office, and was awarded the OBE for his services to the game in 1966. He was the editor of the British Chess Magazine from 1938 to 1939 and for many years served as its games editor. He is now its overseas news editor. In his capacity as International Chess Judge, he has acted as judge in World Championship matches since 1954.

Two thirds of the BCF team for the 1964 Tel Aviv Olympiad. : Owen Hindle, Michael Franklin, Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth
Two thirds of the BCF team for the 1964 Tel Aviv Olympiad. : Owen Hindle, Michael Franklin, Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth

He has competed in a number of international tournaments, his best results being 1st at Antwerp 1938, 1st at Leeuwarden 1947, 1st at Baarn 1948 and -4th with Barcza, Foltys and Gliogoric at Venice 1949. in 1951, he represented the British Chess Federation in the Zonal tournament at Bad Pyrmont and came 5th, qualifying for the Interzonal. ”

Harry Golombek, Peter Wells, Ray Keene, Leonard Barden and henry Mutkin take part in the obligatory "Staring at the board" posed picture during the 1985 Varsity Match
Harry Golombek, Peter Wells, Ray Keene, Leonard Barden and Henry Mutkin take part in the obligatory “Staring at the board” posed picture during the 1985 Varsity Match

His publications include : Capablanca’s 100 Best Games of Chess (1947); World Chess Championship 1948 (1949); Pocket Guide to the Chess Openings (1949);

A Pocket Guide to the Chess Openings, RC Griffith and H Golombek Bell & Sons, 1949
A Pocket Guide to the Chess Openings, RC Griffith and H Golombek Bell & Sons, 1949

Hastings Tournament 1948-1949 (1949);

Hastings Tournament 1948-1949, H Golombek and W Ritson Morry, En Passant, 1949
Hastings Tournament 1948-1949, H Golombek and W Ritson Morry, En Passant, 1949

Southsea Tournament 1949 (1949); Prague 1946 (1950);

Prague 1946, H Golombek, CHESS, Sutton Coldfield, 1950
Prague 1946, H Golombek, CHESS, Sutton Coldfield, 1950
Prague 1946, H Golombek, CHESS, Sutton Coldfield, 1950
Prague 1946, H Golombek, CHESS, Sutton Coldfield, 1950

Budapest 1952 (1952);

Budapest 1952, H. Golombek, British Chess Magazine, 1952
Budapest 1952, H. Golombek, British Chess Magazine, 1952

50 Great Games of Modern Chess (1952); Reti’s Best Games of Chess (1954); 22nd USSR Championship (1956);

22nd USSR Championship, H. Golombek, British Chess Magazine, (1956)
22nd USSR Championship, H. Golombek, British Chess Magazine, (1956)

World Chess Championship 1957 (1957); Modern Opening Chess Strategy (1959);

Modern Opening Chess Strategy, H, Golombek, Macgibbon & Kee, London (1960)
Modern Opening Chess Strategy, H, Golombek, Macgibbon & Kee, London (1960)

and a translation of The Art of the Middle Game by P. Keres and A. Kotov.

He enjoys classical music and has been known to be successful on the Stock Exchange.”

A reasonable enquiry might be : “What did Harry write about himself?” Well, according to

The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977)

The Encyclopaedia of Chess
The Encyclopaedia of Chess

we have :

“British international master, three times British champion and the first person to figure in that country’s Honours List on account of his services to chess. Golombek was born in London and lived there till the Second World War. Educated as Wilson’s Grammar School and the University of London, he became London Boy Champion in 1929 and London University Champion 1930-3. By this time he was part of a trio of the leading players in England, the other two being Alexander and Milner-Barry. (Ed : It is curious that HG does not mention William Winter : maybe they were not like minded souls?)

Harry Golombek OBE
Harry Golombek OBE

His best result in the British championship before the Second World War was -2nd with EG Sergeant, 1/2 a point below Alexander at Brighton 1938. In that year he won first prize in a small international tournament at Antwerp ahead of Koltanowski. In 1938 too he became editor of the British Chess Magazine and occupied this post till he entered the army in 1940.

Harry Golombek OBE
Harry Golombek OBE

Before the war he had already played in three International Team Tournaments (or Olympiads as they subsequently became called) at Warsaw 1935, Stockholm 1937 and Buenos Aires 1939.

Morris (Moses) Sobkowski, Anatoly Karpov and Harry Golombek
Morris (Moses) Sobkowski, Anatoly Karpov and Harry Golombek

After the Buenos Aires event he went onto play in an international tournament at Montevideo where he came second to the World Champion, Alexander Alekhine.

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

In the war he served first in the Royal Artillery, from 1940-1 and then, for the rest of the war, in the Foreign Office at Bletchley Park, employed (like Alexander, Milner-Barry and quite a number of other chess-players) in code breaking.

John Nunn, Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek posing for the obligatory "staring at the board" picture for the 19?? Varsity Match sponsored by Lloyds Bank
John Nunn, Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek posing for the obligatory “staring at the board” picture for the 19?? Varsity Match sponsored by Lloyds Bank

After the war he made chess and writing about the game his livelihood, becoming Times Chess Correspondent in 1945 and Observer Chess Correspondent in 1955. As a player he had a consistently good record in the British Championship, coming in the prize list on fourteen out of eighteen occasions he competed in the event. He was British Champion at Harrogate 1947, Felixstowe 1949 and Aberystwyth 1955.

Harry Golombek OBE
Harry Golombek OBE

Here is HGs win against his old friend PS Milner-Barry from Aberystwyth 1955 :

Harry Golombek OBE plays Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry OBE
Harry Golombek OBE plays Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry OBE

He represented England in six more Olympiads, Helsinki 1952, Amsterdam 1954, Moscow 1956, Munich 1958, Leipzig 1960 and Varna 1962.

Harry Golombek OBE
Harry Golombek OBE

His best individual international results were first prizes at small tournaments in Leeuwarden 1947, Baarn 1948 and Paignton 1950 (above Euwe and Donner); =4th with O’Kelly at Beverwijk 1949, =4th with Barcza, Foltys and Gligoric at Venice 1949, and 5th at the European Zonal tournament at Bad Pyrmont 1951, thereby becoming the first British player to have qualified for the Interzonal. He was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday List in 1966.

Harry Golombek, Norman Fishlock-Lomax and Denis Victor Mardle at the Stevenson Memorial Tournament at Bognor Regis, 1969 (?)
Harry Golombek, J. Norman Fishlock-Lomax and Denis Victor Mardle at the 11th RHS Stevenson Memorial Tournament at Bognor Regis, 1964. Source : BCM, 1964, May, pag2 126.

A founding member of the FIDE Commission for the Rules of Chess, he became a FIDE International Judge and as such officiated at six World Championship matches. He was also chief arbiter at a FIDE Candidates tournament, at an Interzonal and two European Team Championship finals, etc. When the FIDE President, Dr Euwe, had to return home from Reykjavik before the 1972 Spassky-Fischer match got started. Golombek represented FIDE in Iceland and did much to ensure that the match took place and that it continued to be played.

Harry gave more than the average number of simultaneous displays in this career. For the photograph below Leonard Barden provided the following caption :

“Harry was invited because it was the 50th anniversary of his victory in the London Boys 1929 a success which he often referred to in his Times column. There were seven 30-board simuls that day, the top three being England Juniors v USSR (Spassky, Vasyukov, Kochiev) where Spassky had the worst simultaneous result of his career. No 4 was by Murray Chandler, Harry was No5 and the others by Whiteley and Rumens. The juniors who played the Russians were personally invited.”

Harry was invited because it was the 50th anniversary of his victory in the London Boys 1929 a success which he often referred to in his <em>Times</em> column. There were seven 30-board simuls that day, the top three being England Juniors v USSR (Spassky, Vasyukov, Kochiev) where Spassky had the worst simultaneous result of his career. No 4 was by <a href="http://britishchessnews.com/2020/04/04/happy-birthday-gm-murray-graham-chandler-mnzm-04-iv-1960/">Murray Chandler</a>, Harry was No5 and the others by <a href="http://britishchessnews.com/2020/07/07/bcn-remembers-im-andrew-whiteley-09-vi-1947-07-vii-2014/">Whiteley</a> and <a href="http://britishchessnews.com/2020/07/08/remembering-fm-david-edward-rumens-23-ix-1939-08-vii-2017/">Rumens</a>. The juniors who played the Russians were personally invited.
Harry was invited because it was the 50th anniversary of his victory in the London Boys 1929 a success which he often referred to in his Times column. There were seven 30-board simuls that day, the top three being England Juniors v USSR (Spassky, Vasyukov, Kochiev) where Spassky had the worst simultaneous result of his career. No 4 was by Murray Chandler, Harry was No5 and the others by Whiteley and Rumens. The juniors who played the Russians were personally invited.

A prolific writer and translator of books on the game, he has had some thirty-five books published on various aspects of chess. Among them are : Capablanca’s Best Games of Chess, London, New York 1947; Reti’s Best Games of Chess, London 1954; New York 1975;  The Game of Chess, London 1954; Modern Opening Chess Strategy, London 1959; A History of Chess, London, New York 1976.

Harry Golombek OBE
Harry Golombek OBE

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983),  Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson,  we have this rather brief biography :

“Thee times British Champion (Harrogate 1947, Felixstowe 1949, Aberystwyth 1955) and the first person to figure on the Honours List for services to Chess. He has represented England in 9 Olympiads. A FIDE International Judge and Arbiter has has officiated at 6 World Championship matches. He is chess correspondent of The Times and a prolific writer and translator”

Here is his brief Wikipedia entry

and here is a fascinating insight into HGs Bletchley Park days.

Bill Hartston wrote this excellent obituary published in The Independent.

A recent article from Andre Schultz of Chessbase.

Edward Winter has written this interesting article last updated in December 2020 despite announcing self-dormancy in March 2020.

Here we have  a selection of publications not already mentioned above :

Southsea Chess Tournament, Harry Golombek, En Passant, 1949
Southsea Chess Tournament, Harry Golombek, En Passant, 1949
B.C.M. Quarterly, number 3: 4th Candidates Tournament 1959, Golombek, Harold, 19??.
B.C.M. Quarterly, number 3: 4th Candidates Tournament 1959, H. Golombek, 19??.
B.C.M. Quarterly, number 6: 1930 Scarborough International Tournament, Golombek, Harold, 1962.
B.C.M. Quarterly, number 6: 1930 Scarborough International Tournament, H. Golombek,, 1962.
Chess, Harry Golombek and Hubert Phillips, HG & G Witherby, 1959
Chess, Harry Golombek and Hubert Phillips, HG & G Witherby, 1959
Instructions to Young Chess Players, Harry Golombek, The Brompton Library, 1966
Instructions to Young Chess Players, Harry Golombek, The Brompton Library, 1966
Fischer v Spassky, the World Chess Championship, 1972, Harry Golombek, Times Newspapers, 1973
Fischer v Spassky, the World Chess Championship, 1972, Harry Golombek, Times Newspapers, 1973
The Laws of Chess and Their Interpretations, H. Golombek, Pitman Publishing, 1976
The Laws of Chess and Their Interpretations, H. Golombek, Pitman Publishing, 1976
Improve Your Chess, Harry Golombek, Pitman, 1976
Improve Your Chess, Harry Golombek, Pitman, 1976
The Best Games of C.H.O'D. Alexander, 1976
The Best Games of C.H.O’D. Alexander, 1976
A Dataday Chess Diary for 1979 with a foreword from Harry Golombek
A Dataday Chess Diary for 1979 with a foreword from Harry Golombek
B.C.M. Classic Reprints, number 20: World Chess Championship 1948, Golombek, Harold, 01-03-1982 (1949). ISBN 978-0-900846-35-9.
B.C.M. Classic Reprints, number 20: World Chess Championship 1948, Golombek, Harold, 01-03-1982 (1949). ISBN 978-0-900846-35-9.
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Remembering WIM Elaine Pritchard (née Saunders) (07-i-1926 07-i-2012)

Dorée Elaine Zelia Saunders
Dorée Elaine Zelia Saunders
Signature of Elaine Saunders from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Hastings Christmas Congress, 1945-1946
Signature of Elaine Saunders from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Hastings Christmas Congress, 1945-1946

We remember Elaine Pritchard who passed away on Saturday, January 7th, 2012.

Dorée Elaine Zelia Saunders was born on Thursday, January 7th, 1926. Her father was Henry de Beaufort Saunders (b. 7 Aug 1900, Folkestone, Kent d. Between Jul 1989 and Sep 1989) and her mother was Dorée Nellie Irene Dudley (b. 3 May 1900, d. 9 Jun 1970)

In the 1939 register Henry is listed as a Garage proprietor who had “retired through incapacitation”. He is recorded as a Air Raid Precautions Warden who was also a first aider. His wife is listed as undertaking “unpaid domestic duties”. The record for Elaine is blanked out with “This Record Officially Closed” meaning that they believe that she might still be alive. They are listed as residing at The George & Dragon Hotel in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire.

The George and Dragon Hotel, High Street, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire , HP14 3AB
The George and Dragon Hotel, High Street, West Wycombe, Buckinghamshire , HP14 3AB

She was taught chess by her father and then her early trainer was Charles Dealtry Locock who lived with the family in the hotel above.

Elaine aged 10 playing her father Henry de Beaufort Saunders
Elaine aged 10 playing her father Henry de Beaufort Saunders

She married David Pritchard on Friday March 7th 1952 in the Chelsea Registry Office. Elaine was living at Wylderne, Bridge Street, Great Kimble, Aylesbury HP17 9TW. At the time of their marriage David was a Flight Lieutenant.

Elaine and David had a daughter, Wanda H Zelia Pritchard on March 21st 1958. She became Wanda Dakin who was also a chess player. Wanda attended Guildford High School for Girls and then Royal Holloway College, Egham.

In their later years Elaine and David lived at Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA :

Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA
Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983), Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :

“Chesswise I seem already to have lived an alarmingly long time, the era of Capablanca and Alekhine back across the war years was another world. The three games I have chosen belong to three distinctly different periods in these fifty years – the juvenile long-ago, the most elderly present and the middle when I was playing tolerably well and was awarded the WIM title.

My father, assisted by a 2d. (= almost 1p) book of rules from Smiths, taught me the moves at somewhere round the age of five. We were rescued by the problemist CD Locock who noticed me playing in a girls’ tournament two years later. It was he who brought me up on a diet of the Scotch, the Evans and any gambit that was going. We analysed them in some depth – for those days – and my severe task-master made me copy out long columns of dubious lines. He also made me his guinea-pig for his Imagination in Chess and it is small wonder that I still find it hard to resist a sacrifice, and much of my undoing comes from premature sorties such as f4 and Qh5.

Miss Elaine Saunders, the girl chess champion playing in the annual WW White Memorial Tournament in Sevenoaks. on June 25th 1939. Source : https://www.chessmarginalia.com/miss-elaine-saunders/
Miss Elaine Saunders, the girl chess champion playing in the annual WW White Memorial Tournament in Sevenoaks. on June 25th 1939. Source : https://www.chessmarginalia.com/miss-elaine-saunders/

In retrospect he must have been a brilliant teacher. Starting in 1936 a succession of girls’ titles came my way including the FIDE under-21, and in 1939 the British Ladies at the age of 13. It is hard to assess how strong or weak one was at the time because there has been such a marked improvement in the standard of play among women over recent years. At all events, those pre-war years were happy ones, especially away from chess which took second place to horses and more physical pastimes.

Thirteen Years Old Chess Champion Elaine Saunders, of Twickenham has entered for next months British Ladies' Championship. Source : The People, July 23rd, 1939.
Thirteen Years Old Chess Champion Elaine Saunders, of Twickenham has entered for next months British Ladies’ Championship. Source : The People, July 23rd, 1939.

The incident which received the most publicity was the ‘affair Alekhine’. Most of the pre-war giants were kindly if a little condescending towards me but the new World Champion – he had just regained the title from Euwe – showed me no mercy. He took on 30 Kent players at the Charing Cross Hotel and after 5 hours demolished all except myself. The ending was equal. He stood over our board and glowered. ‘Give the child a draw’, said someone in Russian in the audience, which despite them mid-night hour were everywhere on chairs and even under tables. ‘I know what I am doing’ came the reply, and of course he did. I lost.

At 13 the world changed. I almost gave up chess. There were no celebrations after that Ladies Championship. The foreign masters packed their bags for home; we packed them for exile in Buckinghamshire and filling sandbags.

My saddest personal loss of the war was Vera Menchik, perhaps the strongest lady player of all time.

Leaving university with a poor, but lightning degree in French, I was employed by the Foreign Office and spent the next few years in London. While at college I had won the Notts County Championship and like to remember my last game on top board for county against the great HE Atkins, so many times British Champion, making his final appearance for Leicestershire.

I forsook women’s events and achieved probably my best results, finishing equal 3rd in the London Championship final, having beaten David Hooper with an Allgaier Gambit, and qualifying for the British Championship at Buxton in a section which included L. Barden, V. Berger and DB Pritchard.

Marrying David in 1952, we went to the Far East for three years and on our return I made a come-back to women’s chess and won the title at Blackpool in 1956. I was consequently despatched to the Western Zonal in Venice and finished equal 2nd with Lazaravic. This qualified me for the Interzonal, but my daughter Wanda arrived (March 21st 1958) before I could get to the starting post. Meanwhile with Eileen Tranmer we represented the BCF in the first women’s Olympiad in Emmen in 1957 where we finished 7th. The Finals went well for me and included a draw against Rubtsova, the then world champion. The results of the two tournaments were sufficient for me to be awarded the IWM title. My BCF grading at that time was 200 and has gone down ever since!

Friedl Rinder (Germany) plays Elaine Pritchard at the Havering Women's Tournament in Romford on August 25th 1967. Tournament was won by Nona Gaprindashvilli Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (1876414a)
Friedl Rinder (Germany) plays Elaine Pritchard at the Havering Women’s Tournament in Romford on August 25th 1967. Tournament was won by Nona Gaprindashvilli
Mandatory Credit: Photo by ANL/Shutterstock (1876414a)

And so some 20 years on and still a teacher, we reach the final period, that of comparative dotage. Notwithstanding, I have been fortunate enough to have played in the last four Olympiads at Skopje, Medellin, Haifa and Buenos Aires, twice as captain of the team. It was, of course, pleasurable to win a silver medal at Haifa, despite the fact that the East European bloc was missing. The last of the three games comes from Haifa at a crucial stage. Playing for a team has always seemed more fun.

Also in my dotage belong two books, Chess for Pleasure

Chess for Pleasure by Elaine Pritchard
Chess for Pleasure by Elaine Pritchard

and The Young Chess Player (Faber) and organisation of girl’s chess, particularly the Faber Cup”

The Young Chess Player by Elaine Pritchard
The Young Chess Player by Elaine Pritchard

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

“International Woman Master (1957) and British Woman Champion in 1939, 1946, 1956 and 1965.

Rowena Bruce and Elaine Saunders at Nottingham 1946 where they tied for 1st place. Elaine won the play-off with 2.5/3. Courtesy of Keverel Chess.
Rowena Bruce and Elaine Saunders at Nottingham 1946 where they tied for 1st place. Elaine won the play-off with 2.5/3. Courtesy of Keverel Chess.

Elaine Pritchard was, as a child, one of the few girl prodigies in the history of the game. She was taught the moves by her father when she was 5.5 and started to play in tournaments at the age of 7. When she was 10 years old, she won an under-21 girls’ tournament sponsored by FIDE and at the age of 13 won the British Ladies Championship for the first time.

She is married to David Pritchard, ex-Southern Counties Champion and Malayan Champion in 1955, when she was stationed with the RAF in Singapore, who tells of how when he first met her, when she was about 7, she was unable to reach the far side of the board.

Her successes in more recent years include 2nd in the Western European Women’s Zonal Tournament of 1957 and 6th in the same event at Arenys de Mar in 1966; 3rd at Havering 1967 and 3rd at Paignton 1967. She played for the British Chess Federation team in the First Women’s Chess Olympiad at Emmen in 1957.”

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess, Edited by Harry Golombek :

“International Woman master and British Woman champion 1939, 1946, 1956 and 1965, she was a girl prodigy with perhaps the most natural talent for the game of any British-born woman. She was playing competitive chess at the age of seven and was only ten when she won the FIDE Girls Open chess championship (under-21) in London in 1936, winning eleven out of twelve games played.

British Girl Champion (under-18) 1936-8 she won the British Women’s Championship in 1939 at the age of thirteen. Winning the title on three more occasions she hardly ever had a bad result in the event but, by profession a teacher, she did not always have the time to devote to the game.

Her best international results were 2nd in the Western European Zonal Women’s tournament in 1957 (the year she gained the Woman master title), and two 3rd places in Paignton and Havering 1967. She represented the B.C.F. in Women’s Olympiads at Emmen 1957, Skopje 1972, Medellin in 1974 and Haifa 1976. (H.G.)”

Elaine did not merit mention by Hooper & Whyld it would appear.

The following obituary by James Pratt appeared in the February 2012 issue of British Chess Magazine :

“Via Godalming Chess Club we learn of the death of International Woman Master, Elaine Pritchard (née Dorée Elaine Zelia Saunders ) (7 i 1926 Brentford – 7 i 2012 Gloucester). British Lady Champion in 1939, 1946, 1956 and 1965, she became an IWM in 1957. A child prodigy, she won the World Girls Under 21s at the age of ten and first captured the British Ladies title at the outbreak of WWII. Mrs Pritchard wrote two books, Chess for Pleasure and The Young Chess Player. She was an occasional BCM contributor. Her last published grade was in 2003. She was an Honorary Life Member of the ECF.”

and here courtesy of Edward Winter is an excellent article on chess prodigies including many scanned photographs of Elaine.

and here is an obituary for the ECF written by Stewart Reuben

and here is her Wikipedia entry

and some more photographs.

and finally a discussion of Elaine on the English Chess Forum.

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Remembering Brian Reilly (12-xii-1901 29-xii-1991)

Brian Patrick Reilly (12-xii-1901, 29-xii-1991)
Brian Patrick Reilly (12-xii-1901, 29-xii-1991)
Signature of Brian Reilly from an after dinner post card from Hastings 1945-46
Signature of Brian Reilly from an after dinner post card from Hastings 1945-46

We remember Brian Patrick Reilly who passed away on December 29th, 1991.

Brian Reilly probably sometime in the 1920s.
Brian Reilly probably sometime in the 1920s.

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE (written by Wolfgang Heidenfeld) :”Irish master born at Menton, of Irish descent, who has represented Ireland in nine Olympic team tournaments between 1935 and 1968; three times on top board.

Brian observes a game during one of the early 1930s tournaments in Nice
Brian observes a game during one of the early 1930s tournaments in Nice

He was also Irish representative at seven FIDE congresses. Reilly played in a number of small international tournaments, wining first prize at Nice 1931 and sharing fourth prize with Klein and EG Sergeant behind Reshevsky, Capablanca and Sir G. Thomas at Margate 1935.

Brian Reilly playing Dr. Josep Vallve probably at Barcelona Chess Club in June 1935. Brian won in 61 moves.
Brian Reilly playing Dr. Josep Vallve probably at Barcelona Chess Club in June 1935. Brian won in 61 moves.

Winner of Irish championship in 1959 and 1960. General Editor of British Chess Magazine since 1949.”

Brian Reilly and friends
Brian Reilly and friends

His obituary in British Chess Magazine was written by Bernard Cafferty and appeared in Volume CXII (112, 1992), Number 2 (February), page 70:

Brian with journalist colleagues.
Brian with journalist colleagues.

“With great regret we have to report that Brian Patrick Reilly has, to use the older term, ‘joined the great majority’.

Brian analysing with Irish team mate, Wolfgang Heidenfeld
Brian analysing with Irish team mate, Wolfgang Heidenfeld

B. P. Reilly (Menton, 12 xii 1901-Hastings, 29 xii l99l) was born into an expatriate family on the French Riviera, and so was bilingual. He learned his chess in France where he had many friends and acquaintances. He knew Alekhine in the 1920s and 1930s and was a witness at Alekhine’s wedding.

Many years later he was to do extensive research on Alekhine’s life, and was the first to establish (though he did not publish the fact) that the Russian did not complete his doctorate studies at the Sorbonne, so that “Dr” Alekhine must be considered a purely honorary title.

Brian won the Nice tournament of 1931, ahead of Noteboom, Mieses, . . . Sir George Thomas . . . Znosko-Borovsky. . . and played for Ireland at the 1935 Olympiad beating Fine.

Crosstable for Nice 1931 from Megabase 2020
Crosstable for Nice 1931 from Megabase 2020

These results, taken with his fourth place at Margate 1935, behind Reshevsky, Capablanca and Sir George Thomas, made it clear that he was of IM strength.

Nice Masters, 1931. Standing : Daniel Noteboom, Abraham Baratz, George Renaud (Organiser),  Telling (Tournament Director), Marcel Duchamp, Brian Reilly (winner), Seated : Eugene Znokso-Borovsky,, Arpad Vajda, Sir George Thomas, Jacques Mieses, Stefano Roselli del Turco, Jacob Adolf Seitz. British Chess Magazine, 1931, page 201
Nice Masters, 1931. Standing : Daniel Noteboom, Abraham Baratz, George Renaud (Organiser), Telling (Tournament Director), Marcel Duchamp, Brian Reilly (winner), Seated : Eugene Znokso-Borovsky,, Arpad Vajda, Sir George Thomas, Jacques Mieses, Stefano Roselli del Turco, Jacob Adolf Seitz. British Chess Magazine, 1931, page 201

We are grateful to Tony Gillam for providing the following score which has only recently come to light. See Warsaw Olympiad 1935, The Chess Player, Nottingham, 2020.

During the war Brian was interned in France as a British citizen, coming close to starvation for a time. He described all this in the very detailed account of his life in the September 1980 BCM, on which we have drawn, along with the many reminiscences Brian passed on to the present writer.

Brian analysing with the Irish team at an Olympiad
Brian analysing with the Irish team at an Olympiad

After working for the Sutton Coldfield magazine just after the war (he did not get on well with B. H. Wood, thinking him not very business-like – do we put this too diplomatically?) Brian was a freelance translator in the pharmaceutical industry before taking over BCM in 1949. At the time the magazine was technically bankrupt.

Sir George Thomas And Brian Reilly Sir George Thomas (left), leader of the British chess team, playing Irishman Brian Reilly at the Easter Chess Congress, Margate, April 24th 1935. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Sir George Thomas And Brian Reilly
Sir George Thomas (left), leader of the British chess team, playing Irishman Brian Reilly at the Easter Chess Congress, Margate, April 24th 1935. (Photo by Harry Todd/Fox Photos/Getty Images)

In 1964 he moved the office from London to St Leonards, showing his business acumen yet again. He ran the bookstall for many years at the Hastings Congress at the Sun Lounge and the Falaise Hall.

Brian Reilly setting up the BCM bookstall at Hastings

After the union troubles of 1970-71 and the Fischer boom he arranged for the magazine to be typeset by his son Freddy at the family home in West Norwood. This led to an expansion in the pagination after some teething troubles.

Brian Reilly playing Cesar Munoz (Ecuador) in round 8 of the Leipzig Olympiad played on 23rd October 1960. The game was drawn in 48 moves.
Brian Reilly playing Cesar Munoz (Ecuador) in round 8 of the Leipzig Olympiad played on 23rd October 1960. The game was drawn in 48 moves.

All this while, Brian was playing for Ireland in Olympiads, and attending to FIDE affairs as a FIDE delegate.

Brian relaxing during a FIDE Congress dinner.
Brian relaxing during a FIDE Congress dinner

After the death of his son Freddy in 1980, the magazine was sold to the BCF and Brian retired as editor in September 1981, remaining as a consultant for nearly a decade.

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

His last years were spent in Hastings, where it was his wont to carry on with the long sea-front walks that he had practised since a breakdown in health due to overwork. He had strong views on correct diet and exercise which he could expound to anyone willing to listen. The fact that he could walk up to six miles a day in his late eighties and that his faculties, including his memory, only seemed to be weakening in his last two years, is proof enough of the validity of his theories.

Brian Reilly playing Wolfgang Unzicker on board 1 during the preliminaries of the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad.
Brian Reilly playing Wolfgang Unzicker on board 1 during the preliminaries of the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad.

On his 90th birthday he attended the office and drank a glass of champagne to celebrate the occasion. We have the testimony of Mrs Arnold, who worked with him so long, that he was still talking of visiting the Hastings Congress. This was on Boxing Day, the day after he had been admitted to St Helen’s Hospital with a chest infection. He assured her he would be up and about again, but old friends such as Harry Golombek and Ritson Morry waited for him in vain as Hastings got under way. . .

Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)
Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)
Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)
Brian Reilly at a FIDE Congress (possibly Nice 1974?)

BCM readers, too, must be counted amongst his old friends who will miss him. They should be aware that, but for Brian, and his decades of hard work. there would now be no BCM.”

Brian Reilly in the BCM office. Photographed most likely by Freddy Reilly.
Brian Reilly in the BCM office. Photographed most likely by Freddy Reilly.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101), Number 8 (August), pp 352 – 369 a conversation between B.P. Reilly and W.H. Cozens :

Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 1
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 1
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 2
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 2
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 3
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 3
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 4
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 4
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 5
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 5
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 6
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 6
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 7
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 7

He won the BCF President’s Award in 1983 along with BH Wood

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 8
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 8
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 9
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 9
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 10
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 10
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 11
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 11
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 12
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 12
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 13
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 13
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 14
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 14
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 15
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 15
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 16
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 16
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 17
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 16
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 18
Brian Reilly conversation with William Harold Cozens, part 1
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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 Horatio Caro (05-vii-1862 15-xii-1920)

Horatio Caro
Horatio Caro

We remember Horatio Caro who passed away on Wednesday, December 15th, 1920.

Horatio Caro was born on Saturday, July 5th 1862. On the same day Heinrich Georg Bronn, German geologist and paleontologist passed away.

His parents were (in the 1861 census) Jacob and Mathilda Caro (née Lüpschütz, possibly Lipschütz) living at 4, Warwick Place, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Horatio’s birth was recorded at Lombard Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Jacob and Horatio moved to Berlin to live at 2, Winterfeld Strasse. They both had joint German/British citizenship.

In 1896 Jacob passed away and his affairs were handled by family solicitors, Daggett and Grey of 3 Dean Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne :

The London Gazette, 1896
The London Gazette, 1896

On December 15th 1920 JHD Reid, Master of the Institution of South Grove (a workhouse) recorded the discharge of Horatio. The reason stated was “dead”.

His death was registered in Mile End Old Town and he is buried in the East Ham Jewish cemetery, London Borough of Newham, Greater London located at Section E Row 18 Plot 14.

Grave marker for Horatio Caro. Photograph from Gordon Cadden to Ken Whyld Assocation
Grave marker for Horatio Caro. Photograph from Gordon Cadden to Ken Whyld Assocation

According to Wolfgang Heidenfeld in The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE :

“A minor English master who spent most of his chess life in Berlin. Though he had indifferent tournament not much better match results (he lost to Mieses, and Winawer, drew twice with Von Bardeleben and beat Lewitt), his name has become immortal through the Caro-Kann Defence, which he expounded in his own journal, Brüderschaft, in 1886.”

The Caro-Kann Defence is characterised by

(as an alternative to the French Defence) in which the c8 bishop may be active from an early stage.

Caro famously was able to overcome Emanuel Lasker in just 14 moves in 1890 :

There is also the Caro Variation of the Ponziani Defence which was known since the 1850s and recommended by Caro in Deutsches Wochenschach, 1893:

From Chess, Facts and Fables (McFarland and Company, Inc., 2006), page 12, Chess Note 3096, Edward Winter :

“We can now add a tenth specimen to the collection (of ‘Rare queen sacrifices’), having noted the following position on page 81 of Brüderschaft, 10 March 1888 :

The magazine (see also page 155 of the 12 May 1888 issue) stated that in this game, played in February 1888 (in Berlin?), Horatio Caro mated his unidentified opponent in five moves as above.”

In another place we are grateful to Brian Denman who mentioned that  Caro made an  appearance for the Great Britain team in the 1898 cable match against America. He lost on board 3 against John Barry.

Richard James replied : “He also represented Berlin in a cable match against New York in 1905. EdoChess has his highest rating as 2545 (11th in the world) in 1892.”

In a Comment to this post Tim Harding asks : “Caro was one of the British invitees to the London 1899 international but he withdrew before the start because of illness. Does anyone know what was wrong with him?”

Also, according to Richard James :

“He spent most of his life in Germany. Page 353 of the Jubiläums-Ausgabe (1926) of Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten (yes, I also read Edward Winter’s Chess Notes) claims that he lived in Frankfurt up to his 22nd year and in Berlin from 1882 onwards (arithmetic fail). Some sources claim, incorrectly, that he died in Berlin.

His death was registered in Mile End Old Town. In the 1911 census there are a lot of Caros in St George in the East, just the other side of the Commercial Road from Mile End Old Town, from their first names clearly Jewish. There’s also Blanche Caro, a 65-year-old Polish born widow, described as a furrier, in hospital in Mile End Old Town.”

There is extensive discussion from the same above source.

From Wikipedia :

“Horatio Caro (5 July 1862 – 15 December 1920) was an English chess master.

Caro was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England,[1] but spent most of his chess career in Berlin, Germany. He played several matches. In 1892, he drew with Curt von Bardeleben (+2 –2 =2), lost to Szymon Winawer (+2 –3 =1). In 1897, he lost to Jacques Mieses (+3 –4 =3). In 1903, he drew with Bardeleben (+4 –4 =0). In 1905, he won against Moritz Lewitt (+4 –3 =5).

In tournaments, he won in Berlin (1888, 1891, 1894, 1898 (jointly), and 1903). He also took 10th at Berlin 1883, took 4th at Berlin 1887, tied for 2nd-3rd at Nuremberg 1888, took 3rd at Berlin 1889, took 2nd at Berlin 1890.

He took 3rd at Berlin 1894, took 9th at Berlin 1897, took 17th at Vienna 1898, took 4th at Berlin 1899, tied for 6-7th at Berlin 1902, tied for 11-12th at Coburg 1904, tied for 7-8th at Barmen 1905, took 9th at Berlin 1907, tied for 3-5th at Berlin 1908, and took 4th at Berlin 1911.

Caro died in London at age 58.

His claim to fame is linked to the opening Caro-Kann Defence (B12), which he analysed along with Marcus Kann and jointly published about on the German journal Bruederschaft in 1886.”

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Remembering David Pritchard (19-x-1919 12-xii-2005)

David Parlett (lhs) & David Brine Pritchard (rhs) in 2005. Editors of Games & Puzzles magazine
David Parlett (lhs) & David Pritchard (rhs) in 2005. Editors of Games & Puzzles magazine

We remember David Pritchard who passed away on Monday, December 12th, 2005.

David Brine Pritchard was born on Sunday, October 19th, 1919. On this day the first US Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to a living female recipient, Anna Howard Shaw.

He was born in Wandsworth taking his mothers’  Winifred maiden name of Brine (as was customary in those days). His father was Arthur Pritchard (DoB : 4th January 1890) and he was the managing director of an Engineering Company. Arthur and Winifred married in Maidenhead, Berkshire in 1917.

At the time of the 1939 census David was a chiropodist and recorded as single and living in Munee Cottage, Main Street, Bedford. Main Street appears to have been renamed to Main Road which is in Biddenham. It is likely DBPs cottage was something like :

48 and 50 Main Road Biddenham, Bedford, Hertfordshire
48 and 50 Main Road Biddenham, Bedford, Hertfordshire

During the second world War David joined the Royal Air Force and was stationed in the Far East and following the war, he switched to intelligence work also for the RAF. He attained the rank of Squadron Leader and played much chess during this period of his life.

In 1950 David completed his first book : The Right Way to Play Chess, Elliot Right Way Books, 1950, ISBN 1-58574-046-2

The Right Way to Play Chess, Elliot Right Way Books, DB Pritchard, 1950.
The Right Way to Play Chess, Elliot Right Way Books, DB Pritchard, 1950.

(Ed : This was the first chess book of this article’s author and was thoroughly consumed!)

On page 224 of said book David wrote :

Chessplayers – and this must be whispered – are generally an egotistical, ill-mannered crowd. If they conformed to common rules of decorum these words would not have to be written

followed by

I once carried out a private survey at a well-known chess restaurant where a large number of ‘friendly’ games are always in progress. In less than 30 per cent of those observed was resignation made with a good grace. In two-thirds of the games the loser either knocked his king over, abruptly pushed the pieces into the centre of the board, started to set up the men for a fresh game, or got up and walked away without saying a word to his opponent.

He married Elaine Saunders in between January and March of 1952 in the Cheslsea Registry Office.

Elliot Right Way Books was an excellent choice of publisher for David and only 36 minutes by car from his new home in Godalming.

He won the Singapore Championship in 1954 and the Malaysian Championship in 1955.

Visiting https://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter97.html you will find two images of David and Elaine playing chess in Singapore.

David and Elaine had a daughter, Wanda on March 21st 1958. She became Wanda Dakin who was also a chess player. Wanda attended Guildford High School for Girls and then Royal Holloway College, Egham.

David was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1958-59 and 1965-66 seasons.

From the British Championships, 1959 in York we have this sparkling game with Frank Parr :

By now David had developed an  interest in chess variants and board games in general.

David was the  Chairman of the organising committee for the Battle of Britain Chess Tournament : he was runner-up in the first year to RF Boxall.

In 1970 he brought out his third book :  Begin Chess, David Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1952

Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970
Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970
Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970
Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970

David became President of British Chess Variants Society and wrote many books on variants and indoor games.

Here is an interview compiled by Hans Bodlaender about David’s Encyclopedia of Chess Variants :

Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, GAMES & PUZZLES PUBLICATIONS, 1994
Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, GAMES & PUZZLES PUBLICATIONS, 1994

Particularly interesting was this Q&A :

Do you think computers and the Internet will have effect on chess and on chess variants? If so, in what way?

I think that the Internet will inevitably introduce chess to more players but I forsee chess variants, because of their novelty, benefitting in particular from publicity on the net. I expect variants to gain more and more adherents in the future.

David was preparing a second edition before he passed away. This was completed and made available on-line by John Beasley.

The Pritchard family lived at Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA in an idyllic location :

Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA
Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA

and here is the exceptional interior with games room :

 

Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA
Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA

At the time of his passing he had five grand children.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXVI (126, 2006), Number 2 (February), page 76 :

“David Brine Pritchard (19 x 1919 Streatham, London – 12 xiii 2005, London) has died following a fall . He was a strong amateur player and a successful author of books on chess and other games.

David Pritchard was a Squadron Leader in the RAF during the war and later rejoined it to work in intelligence. Whilst serving with the RAF he won the Malayan Chess Championships in 195, and he was also instrumental in the running the UK event known as Battle of Britain Tournament which attracted a strong field in its heyday and generated revenue for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

He was a dangerous. attacking played who scored a number of notable scalps in the British Championship including Penrose and Miles, without ever achieving the consistency required to challenge for the leading positions.  He won the Southern Counties championships in 1959 and 1966.

As an author, Pritchard’s most successful book was The Right Way to Play Chess (Elliott, 1950, with numerous reprints). which is still to be found for sale in many British bookshops.

He will also be remembered as a leading authority on chess variants : he was reported to be in the process of preparing a second edition of The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants (1994) at the time of his death. He was also a very good correspondence player, an inventor composer of chess puzzles of all sorts (some of which appeared in BCM) and his interest in Fairy chess dated back to the 1940s.

His wife Elaine Pritchard, the leading woman player of the 1950s and 1960s, and their daughter Wanda (who also played competitive chess) survive him. We send them our condolences on behalf of BCM and its readers.”

David Pritchard (19-x-1919 12-xii-2005), Passport photograph
David Pritchard (19-x-1919 12-xii-2005), Passport photograph

He was a leading member of Godalming Chess Club and played in the Surrey Border League.

The David Pritchard Shield from the Surrey Border League
The David Pritchard Shield from the Surrey Border League

Here is David’s Wikipedia entry

The Family Book of Games, DB Prichard, Brockhampton Press, 1994
The Family Book of Games, DB Prichard, Brockhampton Press, 1994
Popular Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, Batsford, 2000, ISBN 0713485787
Popular Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, Batsford, 2000, ISBN 0713485787
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Remembering FM Peter Clarke (18-iii-1933 11-xii-2014)

Peter Clarke at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 194
Peter Clarke at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 194
PH Clarke
PH Clarke

We remember FM Peter Clarke who passed away on Thursday, December 11th, 2014 whilst living at Chapel House, Bude, Cornwall, EX23 9SQ

Peter Hugh Clarke was born on Saturday, March 18th 1933 in West Ham, London. His mother’s maiden name was Ekblom.

From The Modest Master of Morwenstow by James Pratt (sadly, as yet, unpublished) :

“Peter Hugh Clarke was born in London on 18th March, 1933. At the age of eight or nine he taught himself the game from ‘The Book of Knowledge’ and played friendly games with his cousin, who was about a year older. Peter’s father supported his game for many years. PHC was a student at St. Bonaventures School and London University. World War II, and its even longer aftermath, robbed him of a number of playing opportunities. It is surprising that he had no childhood heroes, although later the play of Botvinnik, Keres and Smyslov impressed him.”

Peter Clarke with father, Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Peter Clarke with father, Courtesy of Keverel Chess

From British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) written by George Botterill :

Chess correspondent of The Sunday Times, Clarke played for England in the Olympiads of 1954, 56, 58, 60, 62, 66 and 68. He has never won the British Championship but has come 2nd on 5 occasions.

A fine writer. His best books are Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess

Mikhail Tal's Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke, Bell, 1961
Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke, Bell, 1961

and Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963 both published by Bell.

Petrosian's Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, George Bell & Sons Ltd, 1964
Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, George Bell & Sons Ltd, 1964

The most remarkable thing about Clarke’s chess career was they way in which he became transformed, in about 1968-9, into the most drawish of players. In British tournaments he has become notorious for correct but dull solidity.”

Peter was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion for the 1954-55 season.

Peter was England’s third Correspondence Grandmaster (CGM) in 1980 after Keith Richardson and Adrian Hollis.

Peter at the dinner table
Peter at the dinner table

From BCM / ECF :

“FIDE and British Master P.H. Clarke will be best remembered as biographer to Tal and to Petrosyan, but he was so much more. The young Clarke played for Ilford CC in the London League and for Essex at county level. Doing national service he was to learn the Russian that was to so shape his writings.

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

For a brief period in the late 1950s, and early sixties, he was the number two player in England, ahead of the vastly more experienced Alexander and Golombek. He played, of course, below Jonathan Penrose, a partnership that bore fruit when preparing openings; latterly they both became Correspondence Grandmasters.”

FM Peter Hugh Clarke
FM Peter Hugh Clarke

FM Peter Hugh Clarke (18-iii-1933, 11-xii-2014)
FM Peter Clarke

“At the British Championships itself he finished second on his first appearance; he was to tie for silver medal on no less than five occasions, appearing, almost without a break for thirty years, a run that ended in 1982. He represented the BCF – as it then was – in eight Olympiads, playing on top board in 1966.

Borislav Ivkov playing Peter Clarke at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad. The game was a QGA which was drawn
Borislav Ivkov playing Peter Clarke at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad. The game was a QGA which was drawn

The Clarke family moved to the West of England in the late Sixties. PHC played in thirteen WECU Championships, and lost only twice. As a player he could be cautious, agreeing too readily to draws. Accuracy and respect meant more to him than ambition. The biographer became a journalist as illness cut short his playing career. In his time he beat Larsen, Penrose and Szabo.

Kick Langeweg plays Hugh Alexander in the Anglo-Dutch Match of October 7th , 1961. Peter Clarke (right) is playing Johan Teunis Barendregt and Harry Golombek observes

In 1962 he married BH Wood’s daughter, Peggy. They had three daughters. In 1975 my mother happened across Peter and Peggy on Morecambe prom. ‘Never’ she was later to tell me, ‘have I seen a couple more in love.'”

Peter Clarke & Peggy Wood in 1962, Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Peter Clarke & Peggy Wood in 1962, Courtesy of Keverel Chess

We are grateful to James Pratt to allow us to quote from the the sadly unpublished “Modest Master from Morwenstow” as follows :

PHC by John Littlewood :

“Peter had a relatively short career at the top and it is interesting to comment on his style. In essence, his great strength lay in positional understanding which backed-up his defensive skills rather than helped his ability to create wins; in other words, he won games in which his opponents over-pressed or opted for dubious positional moves.

Peter Hugh Clarke (left) and Donner (right) Date: November 26, 1957 at the Wageningen Zonal, The Netherlands. Courtesy of Alamy
Peter Hugh Clarke (left) and Donner (right) Date: November 26, 1957 at the Wageningen Zonal, The Netherlands. Courtesy of Alamy

After doing well in English chess, he was perhaps pushed into international chess too early for him to develop his own personal creative style. Playing for England and meeting strong players, he tended towards a rather negative approach that may have been necessary for the team but was not good for his own personal progress, as shown when he later met English opponents who outstripped him in their positive will-to-win. His friendship with Penrose (a far stronger player) led to far too many draws which did neither of them any good.

Mikhail Tal's Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke. Bell, 1961
Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke. Bell, 1961

To be fair, Peter was not an easy player to beat but, on the other hand, he was not too hard to draw against if you felt so inclined. His forte lay in his knowledge of the game and his excellent writing skills, where he was at his happiest; there is hardly a book of his that I haven’t enjoyed.”

Petrosian's Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, Bell, 1971
Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, Bell, 1971

Writing in BCM 04/64, John Littlewood called PHC a self-style non-tactician and disagreed with Clarke’s belief in the inner logic (‘I have made no mistakes and therefore my position is OK.’) of positions where tactics are to the fore.

FM Peter Hugh Clarke
FM Peter Clarke

PHC by Leonard Barden :

“Peter’s contribution to British Chess was important as a player and even more so as a writer. His best period was 1956-61. He, Penrose and myself used to stay in the same hotel during the British Championships and prepare and analyse together, although we played hard when actually paired. Peter was the solid man in the English team, gradually taking over the role of Golombek. It was important that we did reasonably well in this period which provided a bridge between the Alexander/Golombek era and the rise of Keene/Hartston.

Meliton Borja of the Philippines v. Peter Clarke from the 1958 Munich Olympiad played on October 9th 1958. The game was drawn in 49 moves. From the collection of David Jarrett with many thanks.
Meliton Borja of the Philippines v. Peter Clarke from the 1958 Munich Olympiad played on October 9th 1958. The game was drawn in 49 moves. From the collection of David Jarrett with many thanks.

Peter was always a good friend to me and his family gave me hospitality each year during the Ilford Congress. Peter’s books, especially the one about Tal, were real works of scholarship in an era where there were no computers to facilitate the job. He could have achieved more as a player if he had been able to concentrate fully on that, but the economic climate then was poor for professionals.”

Peter and life long friend, Jonathan Penrose, Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Peter and life long friend, Jonathan Penrose, Courtesy of Keverel Chess

PHC by Bernard Cafferty :

“Right up to that point of his illness in the 1980’s he had worthily defended the reputation of the older generation in the British Championship, as the last survivor, still active at that level, from the Penrose era. I first saw Peter at the 1951 British Championship at Chester and first played him at the 1952 Bristol Universities individual contest.

24th USSR Chess Championships, PH Clarke, British Chess Magazine, 1959
24th USSR Chess Championships, PH Clarke, British Chess Magazine, 1959

He left the University of London before taking his degree (study of chess rather taking over his life), but then had the good fortune to go on to study Russian while doing his National Service, around 1954-55. Or was he still in the Army when the Moscow 1956 Olympiad took place? He certainly did well there, perhaps less affected than other Westerners by the strangeness of the place that was just recovering slightly from the depths of Stalin’s baleful influence.

 

VV Smyslov - My Best Games of Chess, edited and translated by PH Clarke, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958
VV Smyslov – My Best Games of Chess, edited and translated by PH Clarke, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958

I do recall that for a couple of years Peter changed his cautious style. This was around 1957-58 when he scored one of his two wins against Penrose. Was it at Ilford?* I remember that the game appeared with notes by B.H. Wood in ‘The Illustrated London News’ column.

(*Subsequent to this article being posted LWB was kind enough to clear up BCs above query :

Southend 1958.  Clarke beat Penrose, Penrose beat Barden, Barden beat Clarke.  Clarke/Barden 4/5, Penrose 3.5/5.)

 

Cien Miniaturas Rusas
Cien Miniaturas Rusas

 

I used to see Peter regularly at the Paignton and Hastings Congresses in the 1990’s but not in the last couple of years. His health seems restored.”

Peter with Brian Reilly observing playing ? with ? in the background.
Peter with Brian Reilly observing playing ? with ? in the background.

PHC by Ken Harman :

“I am very pleased to hear about your book about Peter Clarke; not sure I can contribute much as I wasn’t a friend of his so only knew him through seeing him and Margaret at chess tournaments. He was a quiet spoken gentleman who played such quiet positional chess that I would call it ‘monastic chess’. I think Clarke thought chess a search for spiritual truth, only to be found in the cloisters of spiritual truth, only to be found in the cloisters of contemplative life – ‘The Thomas Merton of Chess’, if you like. Of course, I have no idea if he was a spiritual man in real life but his chess always struck me as if he was reaching for heaven and found hell in a doubled pawn. He seemed like a nice man and I suspect his wife Margaret was the dominant one. I have his book on Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess (Bell 1961) which is signed by him and may well have been his copy, because as you open the book – there is a small newspaper clipping and a photo of Clarke sellotaped which is rather unusual being that the book is about Tal, and not him. ”

Peter plays Erich Gottlieb Eliskases at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad
Peter plays Erich Gottlieb Eliskases at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad

PHC by Alan P. Borwell (ICCF Honorary President) :

“I first met Peter at the 1959 BCF Congress in York when I was a member of local organising committee and then at Paignton and when York played & won the National Club Championship in 1964/5.

In 1966 I played Peter in the British Chess Championship in last round in Sunderland.”

Peter analyses "al fresco" at Tel Aviv 1958 with Owen Hindle and (back to camera) Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth : thanks Leonard Barden.
Peter analyses “al fresco” at Tel Aviv 1958 with Owen Hindle and (back to camera) Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth : thanks Leonard Barden.

and from Wikipedia :

Peter Hugh Clarke (18 March 1933 – 11 December 2014) was an English chess player, who hold titles FIDE master (FM) and International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (1980), FIDE International arbiter (1976), Chess Olympiad individual silver medal winner (1956).

Peter Clarke started playing chess at the age of six. He twice won the London Boys’ Chess Championship (1950, 1951). He was British Chess Championship multiplier participant where five times won silver medal.

Since 1959, Peter Hugh Clarke has been working as a chess journalist in the newspaper Sunday Times and magazine British Chess Magazine. He known as the biographical book’s author of Mikhail Tal (1961) and Tigran Petrosian (1964). Thanks to his good knowledge of Russian language, he translated the book about Vasily Smyslov in 1958. In 1963 he wrote a book 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures.

Peter Clarke played for England in the Chess Olympiads :

In 1954, at second reserve board in the 11th Chess Olympiad in Amsterdam (+2, =2, -3),
In 1956, at reserve board in the 12th Chess Olympiad in Moscow (+7, =5, -0) and won individual silver medal,
In 1958, at fourth board in the 13th Chess Olympiad in Munich (+2, =10, -3),
In 1960, at third board in the 14th Chess Olympiad in Leipzig (+4, =7, -3),
In 1962, at second board in the 15th Chess Olympiad in Varna (+3, =10, -2),
In 1964, at second board in the 16th Chess Olympiad in Tel Aviv (+2, =8, -2),
In 1966, at first board in the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana (+2, =10, -1),
In 1968, at third board in the 18th Chess Olympiad in Lugano (+0, =7, -1).
Also he played for England in the World Student Team Chess Championship (1954, 1959)and in the Clare Benedict Chess Cup (1960-1961, 1963, 1965, 1967-1968) where won team silver medal (1960) and 4 bronze medals (1961, 1963, 1967, 1968).

In later years, Peter Clarke active participated in correspondence chess tournaments. In 1977, he won British Correspondence Chess Championship. In 1976, Peter Clarke was awarded the International Correspondence Chess Master (IMC) title and received the International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (GMC) title four years later.

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Remembering Joseph Blake (03-ii-1859 11-xii-1951)

Joseph Henry Blake
Joseph Henry Blake

We remember English player Joseph Blake who passed away on Tuesday, December 11th, 1951.

Joseph Henry Blake was born on Thursday, February 3rd, 1859 in Farnborough, Hampshire. His parents were Joseph Denner and Eliza Blake (née Early). In 1871 Joseph (aged 12) had a brother Frank (aged 10), sisters Annie (8), Elizabeth S (7), Eliza E (1) and a servant, Kate Longman aged 18. The family lived in Lydia Cottage, Hewitts Road, Millbrook, South Stoneham, Hampshire.

According to the 1861 census Joseph was two years old and living with his parents and Frank in Rotten Row, Yeovil, Somerset.

In 1881 the family has upped sticks again and moved to 2 St. Lawrence Road, Saint Mary, Eastleigh, Hampshire. This address is also given as the South West Telegraph Office. Eliza was now the head of the household and a widower. Apart from Eliza E aged 11 everyone worked for the railway.

In 1891 Joseph had become Head of the Household (aged 32) and they had acquired a servant (Anna M Cornell) and a blacksmith (Francis Cornell) from Braintree in Essex.

In 1900 Joseph married Alice New in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. They lived at 24, Barton Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire. Tragically, Alice passed away in 1903.

Joseph Henry Blake
Joseph Henry Blake

By 1911 Joseph was 52 and had retained his career as a Railway Clerk. He lived at 33, Broomfield Road, Tolworth, Surrey :

33, Broomfield Road, Tolworth, Surrey
33, Broomfield Road, Tolworth, Surrey

He is recorded as the head of a household of one and a widower.

In 1939 Joseph was living at 10 Springfield Court, Springfield Road, Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey. He was now retired.

No doubt there would have been other addresses not captured by the census records.

According to The Encyclopedia of Chess, (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE :

“A leading British player in the 1890s and for many years editor of the Games Section of the British Chess Magazine between the two world wars. Blake’s best tournament performance came at the age sixty-three when, at Weston-super-Mare in 1922, he came 1st ahead of Maróczy, Kostić, Sir George Thomas and Yates.

The remarkable feature about Blake’s chess career is that he retained his skill and his comprehension of the game for a much longer period that most chess players. This extended from 1887 when he was 1st at the Counties Chess Association tournament at Stamford ahead of Bird and Pollock, a performance he was to repeat in 1891 at Oxford, to 1909 when he tied with H. E. Atkins for first place in the British Championship, to 1923 when he won the Weston-super-Mare tournament, right into the 1930s when he was principal annotator for the British Chess Magazine.”

Chess Endings for Beginners, JH Blake, George Routledge First Edition (1900)
Chess Endings for Beginners, JH Blake, George Routledge First Edition (1900)

and according to The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976), Anne Sunnucks :

“One of the leading British players at the end of the last century and the beginning of the present century. Born on 3rd February 1859. Represented England in the Anglo-American cable matches in 1902 and 1909. His best results were 1st in the Counties’ Chess Association Tournament 1887, ahead of Bird and MacDonnell; =1st with HE Atkins in the 1909 British Championship, but lost the play-off for the title; 1st at Weston-super-Mare 1922 ahead of Maroczy, Kostich, Sir George Thomas and Yates, and winner of the brilliancy prize for his game against Sir George Thomas; 2nd in the international correspondence chess tournament organised by Le Monde Illustre in 1895.

Blake was President of the Southern Counties Chess Association in 1911 and President of the Hampshire Chess Association from 1910-1912 and from 1927-1929. He was also Hon. Secretary of the City of London Chess Club for some years.”

According to Tim Harding in the excellent Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland, 1824-1987 :

Railway clerk Joseph Henry Blake, the leading English correspondence player of the 1890s; also a strong OTB amateur player. He was a regular contributor to British Chess Magazine from the 1880s to the late 1930s.

In British Chess Magazine, Volume XXXIX (39, 1919), Number 3 (March) we have the following from Julius du Mont : “I presume it relates more particularly to chess professionals in this country, at any rate, it does not seem to me that the jews hold rank amongst first-class amateurs in proportion to their numbers.

In London there are very few if any of the class of RC Griffith, GA Thomas, JH Blake, HG Cole, EG Sergeant, and many others to say nothing of the younger recruits , W.Winter and RHV Scott.”

From the 1949 British Chess Magazine (written by RN Coles) we have this :

JH Blake is Ninety

After an absence of ten years I looked in recently on the Kingston and Thames Valley Chess Club. There were many new faces and a number of familiar ones, among the latter one of rosy countenance, trim beard and twinkling eyes, none other than JH Blake, more vigorous than ever and attaining his 90th birthday on the 3rd February.

Twenty years ago in this same club I (RN Coles) was learning the game, now middle age approaches. Blake was an elderly man in those days, who had retired from all competitive play because of the strain it imposed; now, so far from showing the weight of years, he is back in competitive chess again.  He won the club championship last year and is in a fair way to repeating his victory this year. Of all the ‘Grand Old Men’ of chess, few have still been champions in their 90th year.

Older readers of the BCM will remember him as their Games Editor for many years, but few memories will cover the whole series of his successes beginning with a 1st at Stamford in 1887. Even 1922 must seem a distant year to the generation of today. That was the year that Maroczy and Kostic were invited to Weston-super-Mare to meet such rising young English masters as FD Yates and Sir George Thomas. And the first prize amongst those talented players was won by JH Blake, who had been born just when Morphy returned to England after his Paris Victory over Anderssen !

All readers of the BCM and all players everywhere will wish Britain’s oldest master continued health and increasing vigour, and those who knew him today will be surprised if he does not continue his attack for another decade at least.

Besides winning the first prize at Weston Blake also won the brilliancy prize with the following game : (#10,229)

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February), pp.44-46 contained an obituary with articles from MDB* :

*(Careful investigation by Richard James suggest that MDB is Mabel Dorothy Barker, JHB’s niece in 6th Cross Road.)

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 - 46
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 – 46
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 - 46
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 – 46

and EG Sergeant :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 - 46
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 – 46
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 - 46
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXII (72, 1952), Number 2 (February) pp. 44 – 46

For more on this game and its often mis-reported continuation see this article from Edward Winter.

From Wikipedia :

“Joseph Henry Blake (3 February 1859, Farnborough, Hampshire – 11 December 1951, Kingston-upon-Thames) was an English chess master.

Blake won many tournaments played in England toward the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. He won at Stamford 1887, Oxford 1891 (joint), Brighton 1892, Cambridge 1893, and Salisbury 1898 (joint). He also took 5th at Manchester 1882, tied for 3-4th at Birmingham 1883 (Section B), took 4th at Bath 1884, tied for 6-8th at London 1889 (Henry Bird won), took 2nd at Cambridge 1890, tied for 3rd-4th at Woodhall Spa 1893, shared 2nd at Craigside 1895, took 3rd at Hastings (Amateur) 1895, took 2nd, behind Henry Ernest Atkins, at Bristol 1896, and won at Folkestone 1901.

He took 2nd in an international correspondence tournament organised by Le Monde Illustré in 1895, shared 1st in the 1909 British Championship in Scarborough but lost to Atkins the play-off, and shared 1st at London 1911. He was British correspondence champion in 1922.

Blake represented England in cable matches against the United States in 1902, 1909 and 1910.

His best achievement was victory, ahead of Géza Maróczy, George Alan Thomas, Fred Yates and Boris Kostić, at Weston-super-Mare 1922. He shared 2nd at London 1922 (Major Open), tied for 7-8th at Hastings International Chess Congress 1922/23 (Akiba Rubinstein won), took 2nd, behind Thomas, at London 1923, took 5th at Liverpool 1923 (Jacques Mieses won), tied for 7-8th at Hastings 1923/24 (Max Euwe won), tied for 6-7th at Weston-super-Mare 1924 (Euwe won), took 2nd, behind R.P. Michell, at London 1925, took 4th at London 1926 (Victor Buerger won), and tied for 7-9th at Weston-super-Mare 1926 (Euwe won).”

He is the author of Chess endings for beginners (London 1900).

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