“One of the leading British players of his day and an eminent historian. Buckle was born in Lee, Kent on 11th November 1821., the son of a shipowner. From birth he was extremely delicate and his health prevented him from having a normal education. He was taken away from school at the age of 14 and three years later went into his father’s business. His father’s death in 1840 made Buckle independent and he gave up his business career and visited the continent for about a year, playing chess in Paris and Berlin. Going abroad again in 1843, Buckle spent most of his time studying languages and within seven years had learned to speak seven languages and to read 12 others.
Buckle rarely played chess matches, because of the intense dislike of the slow rate at which they were played in those days. However, he played a match against Kieseritzky in 1848, which he won+4 -3 =1/ After this victory, he realised that his health would not stand up to serious play and he never again attempted it. In 1851, he played a number of games with Anderssen, who considered that he was one of the strongest players he had ever met. Buckle was a regular visitor to “The Divan”, where he delighted in his favourite form of the game, giving heavy odds.
After his match with Lowenthal, Buckle turned his attention to his History of Civilisation. The first section of this work started to appear in 1857 but the major portion was published posthumously.
Buckle died of typhoid fever in Damascus on 29th May 1862.”
and from The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :
“English player, historian. He is usually regarded as second among English players only to Staunton during the 1840s; Steinitz , however, regarded Buckle as the better player. In 1843 Buckle won a match against Staunton, who conceded pawn and move ( + 6=1), and in 1848 he defeated Kieserltzky ( + 3=3—2). He won a knock-out tournament in London 1849, defeating Williams (+2) in the second round. In 1851 Buckle defeated Lowenthal (+4=3 — 1) and held his own in a series of friendly games against Anderssen who declared him to be the strongest player he had ever met.
In his youth Buckle suffered ill-health which interfered with his schooling, and on account of which he was often sent abroad to fairer climates. Nevertheless he read widely, successfully educating himself and learning to speak seven languages. His father, a merchant, died in 1840 leaving him an ample fortune. In the 1850s Buckle largely gave up serious chess in favour of literary pursuits and began his great work, for which he is still remembered, A History of Civilization in England, the first two volumes of which were published in 1857 and 1861. At Damascus, on one of his many trips abroad, he contracted a fatal illness, allegedly crying as he died “My book! I haven’t finished my
“International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions, Chandler, who was born on 21st August 1889, has composed about 125 two and three-move problems, all in traditional style. Some 30 have gained tourney honours. He was the chess editor of the Hampshire Telegraph and Post from 1911-1921 and he was a founder member of the British Chess Problem Society, Its Hon. Secretary from 1919 – 1925 and Hon. Secretary and Treasurer since 1951.
Sultan Khan : The Indian Servant Who Became Chess Champion of the British Empire : Daniel King
“Daniel King (1963) is an English grandmaster, coach, journalist and broadcaster. He has written 16 chess books on topics ranging from opening preparation to the self-tutoring How Good is your Chess? and Test Your Chess.”
From the rear cover :
“Sultan Khan arrived in London in 1929. A humble servant from a village in the Punjab, he created a sensation by becoming the British Empire champion. Sultan Khan competed in Europe with the leading chess players of the era. His unorthodox style often stunned his opponents, as Daniel King explains in his examination of the key tournaments in Khan’s career. King has uncovered a wealth of new facts about Khan, as well as dozens of previously unknown games. Now for the first time the full story can be told of how Khan was received in Europe, of his successes in the chess world and his return to obscurity after his departure for India in 1933.”
Daniel King, well known as a writer and broadcaster, here turns his hand to chess history, and one of the most fascinating stories our game has produced.
It would be remiss of me not to mention at the start that Sultan Khan’s family, whom the author chose not to consult, are very unhappy about the book. You can read a review by Dr Atiyab Sultan, Sultan Khan’s granddaughter, here.
Dr Sultan and her father also write about Sultan Khan here.
I’ll leave that with you: you can decide for yourself whether or not it will deter you from buying the book. I have my views but prefer to concentrate on the chess.
What we have is a collection of Sultan Khan’s most interesting games (in some cases only the opening or conclusion) with excellent annotations. It’s not a ‘Best Games’ collection: there are plenty of draws and losses. As you would expect from such an experienced commentator, King knows exactly what, and how much, to tell you. You’ll get clear and concise verbal explanations, with variations only when necessary: an approach entirely suited to Khan’s style of play.
Sultan Khan’s openings were sometimes very poor, even by the standards of the day, on occasion running into trouble by neglecting the essentials of development and king safety, and not always learning from his mistakes. You won’t find a lot of brilliant tactics and sacrifices in his games, either. But he excelled at manoeuvring, and was an outstanding endgame player, winning many points through sheer determination. It was these skills that enabled him to beat Capablanca, draw with Alekhine, and reach, according to Jeff Sonas, the world’s top ten.
Here’s his most famous game, which is treated to six pages of annotations in the book.
King offers a lot more than just the games, though. The descriptions of the events in which Sultan Khan participated are enlivened by contemporary reports from newspapers and magazines which portray a vivid picture of the chess world 90 years ago, and of how Khan was perceived within the chess community. Then as now, newspapers would sometimes send non-playing journalists to write a ‘let’s laugh at the weird chess players’ article. Here, for example, is a Daily Herald reporter visiting Hastings for the 1930-31 congress. “DRAWING THE LONG BROW AT HASTINGS”, chortled the headline. “Moving (sometimes) scenes at chess congress.” Yes, very droll.
Although Sultan Khan was a very popular member of the British chess community, much respected for his quiet and modest demeanour, remarks which would today be considered racist sometimes appeared in the press. The London Evening News on Hastings 1932-33: “Sultan Khan, the British Champion, of course, did well; but he is not English by birth, which makes a difference.”
King also sketches in the political background behind Sultan Khan’s time in England: the discussions concerning the future of the Indian subcontinent which would eventually lead to independence and the partition in 1947. Writing as someone with embarrassingly little knowledge of the subject, I thought these sections of the book were written with sensitivity and impartiality, but, as the partition is still highly emotive today, I quite understand why others might take a different view.
My main problem with the book is the lack of indexing. There’s an index of names, but I’d also expect indexes of games and openings: something I’d consider essential for a book of this nature. While it was interesting to read something of the history of Western chess in India, a section on John Cochrane would have been useful. I noticed a couple of errors in tournament crosstables (pp 22 and 309), and on p322, EM Jackson mysteriously becomes EM Mackenzie (his middle name).
What you don’t get is a definitive and complete biography and games collection such as McFarland might publish, but Daniel King knows his audience well, and, from the chess perspective, does a thoroughly professional job. If you don’t feel strongly about Sultan Khan’s family’s criticisms, then this book is highly recommended, telling a story full of chess, human and historical interest.
“Probably the best home reared player to come out of the county, John Cox started to play at age 6 with his father Jeff (see above) joining Shrewsbury Chess Club at age 7. At age10 he became joint Shropshire lightning champion. He was 16 when he won the 1979 county championship though much of his early success was outside the county. He gained his first FM norm at the 1980 Lloyds Bank Masters where he became the first Shropshire player to beat a GM (see below), also drawing with IM’s Ligterink and Pytel. In 1981 he gained his third norm and the FM title at Ramsgate together with his first IM norm. Though now based in London, he is still a regular visitor to the local Wrekin Congress.”
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM John Grantley Cooper (14-v-1954)
From chessgames.com :
“John Grantley Cooper was born in Cardiff, Wales. Awarded the IM title in 1984, he was Welsh champion in 1976 (jointly), 1978 (jointly), 1984, 1985, 1992 (jointly), 1993 (jointly), 1994, 1995 and 1996. He also played for Wales in ten Olympiads, from 1974 to 1992.”
His peak rating was 2395 in January 1985 at the age of 31.
From The Chess Bouquet, (1897), page 212 : (taken from chessgames.com)
“Perhaps many players who are inclined to pooh, pooh the efficacy of problem training will be surprised to find that such an expert player, as Mr. Locock has proved himself to be, is equally at home in the sister art. Yet such is the case, and although his fame rests chiefly upon his many brilliant victories in cross-board encounters, the strategetic qualities of his compositions, and the ease and facility with which he penetrates the inmost recesses of problem, have secured him place in the foremost ranks of British problemists. Born in 1862, and educated at Winchester College and University College, Oxford, Mr. Locock early displayed fondness for chess, and for five years he played for Oxford v. Cambridge.
In 1887 he won the amateur championship tournament of the British Chess Association without losing game. In the Masters’ International Tournament, held at Bradford in 1888, he scored seven antl half games against very powerful array of talent. The Masters’ International Tournament, held at Manchester, in 1890, found him somewhat below par, but in 1801 he won the British Chess Club Handicap without losing game. In 1892 he tied with Bird for fourth prize in the National Masters’ Tournament. Emanuel Lasker (then rapidly forcing his way to the throne, so long and honourably held by Wilhelm Steinitz) won the first prize, with score of nine James Mason second, seven and half; Rudolph Loman third, seven and Messrs. Bird and Locock six and half each. Seven others competing.
During the past four years Mr. Locock has played some twenty-six match games without losing one. In team matches he has only lost one since 1886. These include the two telephone matches, British Chess Club v. Liverpool and also the cable match, British Chess Club v. Manhattan Club, 1895, when Mr. Locock, at board three, drew with Mr. A. B. Hodges; and the cable match, British Isles v. United States, March, 1896, when Mr. Locock again drew his game with Mr. E. mes on board five.
Partially owing to want of practice, Mr. Locock is gradually retiring from serious chess, although we trust many years will elapse ere he finally says good-bye to the scene of his triumphs. Life is generali) voted too short for chess, yet, in addition to the sterling work already alluded to, Mr. Locock has found time to edit the well-known excellent chess column in Knowledge, and enrich the already huge store ot problems with many stategetical positions. His “Miraculous Adjudicator” and Three Pawns ending, published in the B.C.M., having been greatly admired by connoisseurs.
Mr. Locock has favoured us with few humorous remarks on what he terms the vice of problemmaking,” and with these we conclude our sketch of perhaps the strongest living amateur player-problemist ”
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Neil H Bradbury (09-v-1964)
Neil became an International Master in 1988 ans achieved a peak rating at the age of 20 of 2395 in January of 1984.
Neil stopped playing in 1998 but in 2018 restarted with appearances in Gibraltar, The London Chess Classic and the British Championships in Hull and Torquay.
Neil has played in 4NCL for The ADs
Here is a recent game of Neil’s :
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