Category Archives: Writers

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.

The Amersham Advertiser of Wednesday, 18th January 1995, on page 6, reported, “His funeral was due to be held as 12.30pm (today), at Chilterns Crematorium, Whielden Lane, Amersham.” (Thanks Steve Mann!).

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.
Harry Golombek RIP by Bernard Cafferty

Here (from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXV (115), 1995, Number 2 (February), pp.83-85 is this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :

Harry Golombek OBE (1 iii 1911-7 i 1995), British Champion in 1947, 1949 and 1955, was a grandmaster amongst journalists and book writers, and “Mr Chess” for many of the British public in the decades after the war when his Times column was the main source of up-to-date information on the doings of Botvinnik, Bronstein, Smyslov, Keres, Tal and the other top players.

Harry ran a weekly Saturday column along with daily reports during World Championships, British Championships, Hastings, Paignton …when only The Guardian provided a similar service to the chess community up to 1972. I often recall him grumbling at editorial incisions of his column, which, even so, was more extensive and ‘heavy’ than anything we enjoy now. He loved references to music, the theatre and the arts as a parallel to chess. In fact, he was columnist and correspondent with the paper from 1945 till 1985, and columnist of the Observer 1955-1979. His work at The Times came to an end after he suffered a mild stroke, though he struggled on for a time when, in pre-Wapping days, his work was handicapped by ever earlier deadlines.

Harry was the BCF delegate to FIDE for decades after 1948 and played a part in framing the rules. His view was that the Soviet Union, which he visited as arbiter for Botvinnik’s matches in the 1950s and 1960s as well as for the second part of the 1948 World Championship Match-Tournament, did not throw its weight about so much until after 1970 when a sort of cultural offensive in FIDE and elsewhere was undertaken.

Harry played for England at three Olympiads before the war and six after. Educated at a London grammar school, he was the son of immigrant Polish parents who had been repressed by the last Tsar, to whom his father once sent a message of defiance from the safety of England. A favourite reference of his was the London Boys’ Championship of the late 1920s where he first came to prominence.

His first experience of chess journalism came in the period 1938-40 when he was editor of BCM, till being called to army service. Harry worked in the code-breaking department at Bletchley Park during the war; the Official Secrets Act prohibited him from revealing much of what he knew of this fantastic scientific operation where he was associated with such famous names as Alan Turing, Jack Good, Hugh Alexander and Stuart Milner-Barry. A graduate of London University in Modern Languages, Harry had been called up into the Royal Artillery, but his knowledge of languages, particularly German, meant that he was soon transferred to the Intelligence Corps.

Harry was a life-long supporter of Surrey Cricket Club. His family ran a grocery shop near Kennington Oval which he sold after 1945 when he made the decision to become a chess professional’ He was reputed to have one of the finest chess libraries in Britain, which he has left to the BCF to form the nucleus of a national chess library with bequests from Sir Richard Clarke, RJ Broadbent and GH Diggle.

Amongst the many books he wrote, pride of place must be taken by his work on Capablanca’s best games and the one on the 1948 Match-Tournament at the Hague and Moscow as well as a later book on Reti. Who can forget his account of the delay at the Polish border for the train which was taking players and journalists to Moscow from the Hague in 1948? A Polish general, forgetful of recent history, declared that the train could riot proceed since no-one crossed the Polish frontier without the appropriate documentation and security checks (Euwe’s extensive analytical notebooks in Dutch were the stumbling block). It only needed Botvinnik to hear this for him to phone up Moscow and have the Polish authorities overruled by those who enjoyed real power in the post-war world.

Another famous article which comes to mind is Harry’s long account of the 1967 Sousse Interzonal, complete with the J’adoubovich incident, Fischer’s fickleness, and the camel on the beach. This appeared in the BCM, of course, where H. G. was the editor for Overseas News and the Games Department from the late 1940’s until the late ‘sixties. His work here was a cut above most contemporary chess journalism’ since he was so often on the spot at top events and he had access to all of the world’s chess press. As a consequence, he was often the contact man for arranging participation of the world’s leading players at Hastings. From this flowed his work for The Friends of Chess, the body that raised funds and helped gain invitations to foreign events for our up and comings. It was in 1966 that he gained the OBE for services to chess.

Harry had a dry acerbic wit and a fund of stories that made him a welcome after-dinner speaker and lecturer. He seemed to be a life long bachelor, but he married late in life (this corrects an error in the Times obituary of 9 January. In his declining years he spent his last days in a rest home for the elderly in Gerrards Cross where his main contact with the outside world was Gerry Walsh who had often driven him to and from the Hastings Congress in the last couple of decades of his life.

A Grandmaster Amongst Journalists

Harry Golombek, was, without a doubt, one of the finest chess writers ever, and his lengthy stint as Overseas News editor of the BCM results in some classic reports.

As a tribute to Harry’s work we (BCM) have decided to reprint word for word, his extraordinary account of the 1967 Sousse Interzonal. The article that follows is an exact reproduction of his eyewitness report, as it appears in the 1968 BCM Bound Volume, January magazine. This was the tournament that had everything: Bolbochan vanishing, Fischer withdrawing, Larsen winning, and much more.

We are sure that our current readers, young and old, will be as enchanted with the tale as BCM readers were nearly three decades ago.

Further Recollection from Bernard Cafferty

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.
 Save as PDF

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.

 Save as PDF

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
 Save as PDF

Remembering (Charles) Mike Bent (27-xi-1919 28-xii-2004)

(Charles) Mike Bent (27-xi-1919 28-xii-2004)
(Charles) Mike Bent (27-xi-1919 28-xii-2004)

BCN remembers Mike Bent who passed away on Tuesday, December 28th 2004.

Charles Michael Bent was born on Thursday, 27th of November 1919 and in that year Charles was the fifth most popular boy’s name.

He was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

In 1939 he was living at 5, Ashburton Road, Gosport with his mother Eileen B. Bent (née Hill) and was a Sub Lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

He wrote “Best of Bent: Composer’s Choice of His Chess Endgame Studies, 1950-93” This was edited by TG Whitworth.

The Best of Bent, CM Bent, edited TG Whitworth, July 1993
The Best of Bent, CM Bent, edited TG Whitworth, July 1993

He died in Swindon on the 28th of December, 2004 having last resided in Hungerford, RG17. Whilst writing the Studies column for British Chess Magazine he resided at “Black Latches”, Inkpen, Newbury, Berkshire.

"Black Latches", Inkpen, Newbury, Berkshire
“Black Latches”, Inkpen, Newbury, Berkshire

The C. M. Bent Memorial Composing Tourney was held in 2006-07.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume XCV (95, 1975), Number 1 (January), page 22 we have a charming introduction to CMB from the retiring editor of the Studies column, AJ Roycroft :

“A studies article without a diagram? Yes, and without an apology either. Instead this introduced my successor, Charles Michael Bent, who is as remarkable without the chessboard as he is with it. Now since, as at May 1974, he has composed the total, rarely exceeded by anyone, of 670 studies (of which only 375 have been published), and about 600 problems (one tenth published), his other achievements and activities, insofar as he can be persuaded to talk about them, are worth recounting.

Michael Bent has a passion for all-the-year-round tennis, and loves the country life. Walking and climbing, all-forms of do-it-yourself, word-play nabla/del, puzzles, conjuring and listening to music make the mixture extraordinarily rich. Yet if there was a single word to characterise him it would be simplicity (his choice), with (my addition) a strong and individual sense of humour.

Physically he is a lean, balding 54-year-old as fit as most men half his age. He played at Junior Wimbledon before the War and only three of four years back won the singles tennis championship of his half of Berkshire. He is a modest and delightful companion, and to visit him and his wife Viola, to whom he credits responsibility for the serenity of his condition and surroundings, is a relaxing pleasure I always look forward to in my own hustled and tense London-centered existence.

In his own words he was never really a player of chess at all, but first sight of problems (during the war) and endings (just after it) acted like fireworks on a dark night and lit an imagination which still lacks basic technical knowledge. So, artistic rather than ‘scientific’, have never knowingly composed a didactic study. Am told my ‘style’ is easily recognised. Am aware, but perfectly content, that I compose much that the expert will easily solve, in the hope that the less initiated may be entertained and as attracted as I was in the beginning.

There is a feast, including many surprises, in store for you and me, at the hands of your new chess-chef, ‘CMB of the BCM’.”

From British Chess Magazine, Volume 125 (2005), Number 2 (February), page 98 we have a brief obituary from John Beasley :

“Charles Michael Bent died just over a month after his 85th birthday. Mike Bent had long been Britain’s leading composer of endgame studies, he was a witty and entertaining writer on the subject (and on many others), and the pleasure he gave was rightly acknowledged by the granting in 2001 of one of the BCF President’s Awards for services to chess.

BCM published his first study in 1950 and one of his last 50 years later, and he was our endgame study columnist from January 1975 to March 1985. There will be a steady flow of quotations in Endgame Studies during the coming months. John Beasley

The Studies column was taken over in April 1985 by Paul Lamford.

Here is his Wikipedia entry (complete with errors).

CMB won the BCF President’s Award in 2001.

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

“Born on the 27th November 1919, Michael Bent has only one possible challenger, Harold Lommer, as the finest composer of endgame studies England has ever produced. Although up to October 1967, he had composed 546 problems and 320 studies, he now concentrates almost exclusively on studies. His 17 honoured studies include three 1st prizes. His partiality towards Knights is shown in the typical study selected here.

Michael Bent was educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, but had to leave the Navy because of chronic sea-sickness. He served in the Rifle Brigade in the Second World War and afterwards became a rubber plant in Johore, where he survived several terrorist attacks. How now lives with his wife in a Berkshire Village.

Apart from Chess, Michael Bent has other recreations, including wood carving, stamp collecting, composing crossword puzzles and butterfly collecting. His butterfly collection included 500 Malayan specimens. He is also a strong tennis player. Thirty-one years after playing at Wimbledon as a junior, he won the Newbury and District singles title in 1967.”

CM Bent
2nd Honorable Mention
New Statesmen 1964 Tourney Award,
5th March 1965

 

 Save as PDF

Happy Birthday IM Graeme Buckley (25-xii-1971)

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

BCN sends best wishes to Graeme Buckley on his birthday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Remembering IM William Winter (11-ix-1897 18-xii-1955)

William Winter, British Open Chess Champion, 1934. The verso frontispiece of Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936
William Winter, British Open Chess Champion, 1934. The verso frontispiece of Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936
Author's inscription from Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936
Author’s inscription from Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936

We remember William (Willy) Winter who passed away on Sunday, December 18th, 1955.This is some variation from sources who quote his Date of Birth. All have 11th of September but vary by the year giving either 1898 or 1899. However careful research by John Townsend (Wokingham) gives 1897 and this work is cited by Edward Winter.

His father was William Henderson Winter and his mother Margaret Winter. He was born in Medstead, Hampshire. In the 1911 census their address was recorded as “The Boynes”,  Four Marks, Alton, Hampshire and the family had two servants : a cook and a housemaid. In 1936 Winter lived at The Old Cottage, North Road, Three Bridges, Sussex.

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

“International Master, chess. professional and British Champion in 1935 and 1936, William Winter is one of the most colourful  figures that British chess has produced. A born bohemian, Winter could on many occasions have been mistaken for a tramp, yet he was equally capable of turning up at a dinner or some other official occasion, well-groomed and looking the split image of his famous uncle, Sir James Barrie, and making a speech of such wit and culture that every other speech would seem flat.

Born in Medstead in Hampshire on 11th September 1898, of Scottish parentage. Winter’s mother was the youngest sister of Sir James Barrie, and his father a brilliant scholar who had entered St. Andrew’s University at the age of 16, taken honours in classics and then won a scholarship to Cambridge to read mathematics.

Winter was taught to play.chess by his father, who was a strong player, when he was 12. From the time he was introduced to the game his main aim in life was to become a first-class player, and his previous interest, cricket, had to take a back seat.

When he was 15, he joined the city of London Chess club, one of the leading clubs in the country, and his game-rapidly improved. He went up to Cambridge to read law for a year during-the l9l4-l9l8 war, before he became of age for military service and joined the Honourable Artillery Company. While he was stationed at Leeds he learned that the British champion, F. D. Yates, and the Mexican master, A. G. Conde, were in the habit of playing chess on a Saturday afternoon in a café in Bradford.

Winter started going to this café and made the acquaintance of the two masters, who would occasionally give him a game.

On returning to Cambridge when the war was over, Winter became President of the University Chess Club and also started to take an active interest in politics. He joined the University Socialist Society and the local branch of the Independent Labour Party, and when the Communist Party was formed he became a Communist.

In 1919 Winter became Cambridge University Champion and won a match against R. H. V. Scott, a leading British player, by a score of 4-2, thereby securing for himself an invitation to play in the Victory Congress at Hastings. His lack of experience of master play proved too great a handicap, and he came 11th out of 12.

Edo rating profile for William Winter from http://www.edochess.ca/players/p7187.html
Edo rating profile for William Winter from http://www.edochess.ca/players/p7187.html

On leaving Cambridge after taking his degree in 1919, Winter persuaded his parents to allow him a year in which to play chess before settling down to a career. He hoped that during that year he might be able to prove that he had sufficient talent to become a professional player. This did not prove the case, and Winter had to resign himself to becoming a solicitor.

In 1921 he became articled to a London firm, but after a dispute with his father, which resulted in his allowance being stopped, Winter had to give up his articles and decided to concentrate his energies on politics. He went to live in Bristol and addressed open-air meetings all over the city on behalf of the Communist party, until he was arrested for sedition and sentenced to six months imprisonment. After his release Winter continued his political activities until he was forced to abandon them on medical advice.

Having given up politics, Winter decided to try his luck as a chess professional. This proved to be a success, and within two years he was making a reasonable living teaching the game, playing games for fees at St. George’s Cafe in St. Martin’s Lane in London and writing for The Manchester Guardian and The Daily Worker.

Winter remained a chess professional for the rest of his life, apart from the war years. He wrote two chess best sellers: Chess for Match Players, published in 1936

Chess for Match Players, William Winter, Carroll & Nicholson, 1936
Chess for Match Players, William Winter, Carroll & Nicholson, 1936

and reprinted in 1951, and Kings of Chess;

Kings of Chess, William Winter, Carroll and Nicholson Ltd, 1954
Kings of Chess, William Winter, Carroll and Nicholson Ltd, 1954

and was coauthor with F. D. Yates of Modern Master Play,

Modern Master Play, FD Yates and W. Winter, 1930
Modern Master Play, FD Yates and W. Winter, 1930

and with FD Yates of World Championship Candidates Tournament, 1953.

Winter never reached the very highest ranks as a player, although he won the British Championship twice and represented his country in four Chess Olympiads: Hamburg in 1930, Prague in 1931, Folkestone in 1933 and Warsaw in 1935. In the Great Britain v. U.S.S.R. radio match in 1946 he defeated Bronstein in the first round and then characteristically went out and celebrated his victory in such a way that his defeat in the return round was inevitable.

William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)

Although he achieved no great successes in international tournaments, in individual games he beat many of the world’s leading players, including Nimzowitsch and Vidmar, and had draws against Capablanca and Botvinnik among others.

William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)

He died of tuberculosis in London in December 1955, after refusing to go into a sanatorium.”

In Kings, Commoners and Knaves, (Russell Enterprises, 1999), page 393 Winter quotes Winter (!) from Chess Masterpieces (Marshall) as follows :

I consider [Winter v Vidmar, London, 1927] to be my best game partly on account of the eminence of my opponent and partly because of the importance of the occasion on which it was played, and also because on three occasions in which the situation was extremely complicated. I was fortunate enough to discover the only continuation which not only was necessary to secure victory, but to actually save the game

Here is that game :

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

The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match, E. Klein and W. Winter (1947, Pitman)
The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match, E. Klein and W. Winter (1947, Pitman)

“W. Winter was born in 1899 in Hampshire. A Cambridge graduate in Law, he devoted himself eventually entirely to chess and is the only Englishman who, despite all vicissitudes, has faithfully remained a professional. After winning the Cambridge University Championship in 1921 he competed in a number of international tournaments. His outstanding performance was in the tournament in Scarborough 1928, which he won. He won the British Championship in 1935 and 1936, and has represented his country on four occasions in international team tournaments. In Hamburg, 1930, he was undefeated.

Scene at London. From left to right - Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas
Scene at London. From left to right – Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas

His literary activities include Chess for Match Players and The Alekhine-Capablanca World Title Match, 1927. He edits the chess column in the Soviet Weekly.

Games Played In the World's Championship Match between Jose Paul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, FD Yates and W, Winter, 1928, Printing Craft Limited
Games Played In the World’s Championship Match between Jose Paul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, FD Yates and W, Winter, 1928, Printing Craft Limited

His chess record is erratic and does not reflect his true ability. He is capable of some of the finest chess, but often plays too impulsively. His greatest strength lies in King’s side attacks. which he handles with skill and accomplishment.”

William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)

From the Preface of The World Chess Championship : 1951 by Lionel Sharples Penrose we have :

“Mr. Winter’s chess career has been a long one and he occupies an extremely high position among British players. He has been British Champion twice, in 1935 and 1936. Among other notable successes was his first place in the Scarborough International Tournament in 1928. He defeated Nimzovich in the London Tournament in 1927. Against the present world championship contenders he has a very fine score, a draw against Botvinnik at Nottingham in 1936 and a win and a loss against Bronstein in the Radio Match, Great Britain v U.S.S.R. in 1946. Mr. Winter is a specialist in writing about the art of chess, and players throughout the country owe a great deal to his deep and logical expositions.”

Games Played in the World's Championship Match between Alexander Alekhin (Holder of the Title) and E D Bogoljubow (Challenger), Printing Craft Limited, 1930, FD Yates and W. Winter
Games Played in the World’s Championship Match between Alexander Alekhin (Holder of the Title) and E D Bogoljubow (Challenger), Printing Craft Limited, 1930, FD Yates and W. Winter

From The Encyclopedia of Chess (BT Batsford, 1977) Edited by Harry Golombek :

International Master and twice British Champion (1935 and 1936), Winter was an excellent illustration of Réti’s thesis that players tend to be opposite over the board to their character in real life. Over the board he was classical, scientific and sober; away from the board he was revolutionary, moved by his emotions (he contrived to be both a fervent Communist and a staunch patriot), and more often than not, drunk.

His university career, where he read law, coincided with the First World War and, after a brief interruption for military service he returned to Cambridge where in 1919 he became university champion and defeated R. H. V. Scott (a strong player who won the British Championship in 1920) in a match by 4-2. On the strength of this he was invited to play in the Hastings Victory tournament of 1919 where, however, he did badly, coming 11th out of 12.

William Winter (11-ix-1897, 18-xii-1955)
William Winter (11-ix-1897, 18-xii-1955)

After an interval during which he fervently pursued a political career to such an extent as to incur a six-months prison sentence for sedition (Winter always denied the sedition and said that the charge was trumped-up one), he took up the career of chess professional. The life suited him since it enabled him to lead the kind of Bohemian existence that pleased his artistic temperament. It should be mentioned that he was a nephew of Sir James Barrie and would have fitted in well on one of his uncle’s plays.

As a player he was eminently sound and, being an apostle of Tarrasch, a fine clear strategist. But he was lacking in tactical ability and his poor health and his way of life interfered with his consistency and impaired his stamina. But he had a number of fine victories over great players (Bronstein, Nimzowitsch and Vidmar for example).

IM William Winter (11-ix-1898, 18-xii-1955)
IM William Winter (11-ix-1897, 18-xii-1955)

He played in four Olympiads: Hamburg 1930 (scoring 76.7% on 4th board), Prague 1931 (58.8% on 4th board), Folkestone 1933 (59.1% on 3rd board) and Warsaw 1935 (41.7% on 1st board). He was selected to play at Stockholm in 1937 but, having “lost” his passport three times. he was refused a fresh one by the authorities.

His best international individual results were =6th at London 1927, and =5th at Lodz 1935.

His career as a chess journalist (he wrote for the Manchester Guardian following FD Yates and the Daily Worker) was somewhat impeded and spoilt by his Bohemian ways, be he wrote some excellent works on chess : Chess for Match Players, London, 1936″

Winter was a popular subject for his Swiss namesake, Edward Winter and there are several mentions in his excellent books.

In Chess Facts and Fables (McFarland, 2006) we have Chess Note 2819, page 71 which shows a photograph (from CHESS, November 1935) taken in Poland of Winter and Max Krauser, Heavyweight wrestling Champion of Europe. Quite what the occasion we are not told.

Here is an excellent article (as you’d expect) from Edward Winter

Apart from all of the contributions above possibly the most comprehensive comes from FM Steve Giddins writing in three parts in British Chess Magazine, during 2006 and 2007 :

Since our article was published we were contacted by Steve Giddins who informed us that he owned the copyright to the articles rather than BCM and that he did not wish us to make them available via this article.

In the “Mid-October” issue of CHESS for 1962, (Volume 27, Number 418)  we had the following announcement:

WILLIAM WINTER’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY

Edited by David Hooper, will be serialised in CHESS commencing with our next number. Nephew of Sir James Barrie, twice British Chess Champion, a lifelong Communist and freethinker, imprisoned for his political views, “Willie Winter”, with his Bohemian way of life, was undoubtedly the most colourful figure in British Chess for many decades irrespective of whether you agree with his views (most readers may not!), you will find him a delightful writer whose gifted pen draws you engrossed from page to Page.

In the November issue of CHESS for 1962, (Volume 28, Number 419, pp.1-2)  we had Part I:

A first Instalment

Most people when I tell them that I am a Professional chess player look on me as if I were some kind of fabulous monster. I don’t know why this should be so. Golf professionals, billiards professionals, and lawn tennis professionals are taken for granted, and surely chess players have far more need of professional assistance than the devotees of any of these pursuits. The work of the professional at every form of game or sport largely consists of teaching, and the complexities of chess are such that no player can hope to achieve even a modicum of success without the skilled guidance which only a. professional can give. I am glad to see that this is becoming widely recognised and far more aspirants are availing themselves of the services of the ‘pro’ than was the case when I first took on the job. There is of course much more to our work than teaching. I shall have plenty to say about the varied scope of our activities later on. Now I want to tell something about myself.

A Hampshire-reared Scot

I was born at the back-end of last century at Medstead, a small village in the heart of Hampshire. Both my parents were Scots, my father being quite a distinguished scholar. Entering the University of St. Andrews at the early age of 16 he took honours in classics, and then finding himself rather at a loose end he took to the study of mathematics, won a scholarship to Clare College Cambridge and became a Wrangler. Probably he could have gained a Fellowship, but he had a passion for country life and took advantage of a small legacy to buy the house at Medstead and eke out his income by taking private pupils. I may say that he made a great success of this. He was a superb teacher, especially of rather backward boys, and was responsible for squeezing more moronic creatures past the entrance exams at both Oxford and Cambridge than one could have believed possible.

I must also mention that he was a very good amateur chess player. At one time he took lessons from the English professional master H. E. Bird, and possessed a number of his books. However, when he settled at Medstead lack of opponents compelled him to give up the practice of the game.

Sir James Barrie

My mother also had claims to distinction, though perhaps rather vicariously. She was the youngest and the favourite sister of the great J. M. Barrie who seemed to tower over my boyhood like some colossal ogre. A benevolent ogre it is true, who produced handsome presents and provided the wherewithal for holidays which would otherwise have been quite beyond our reach, but I never felt quite sure when he might not start: “fee, fi, fo, fum!” My mother’s desperate anxiety to please him in every thing was responsible for this attitude of mind: “What will Jamie think? What will Jamie say?” Actually he was quite harmless and, I imagine, did not think very much about us. We were far removed from the aristocratic circle which was already taking him to its bosom in Town.

Gifted parents

My mother was by no means without talents of her own. ‘She was a pianist of considerable skill and had a singing voice of such quality that my uncle toyed with the idea of having her trained for the concert stage. Her poor health (she was always
delicate) held up the idea and it was finally abandoned on her marriage and retirement into the country. She had her baby grand piano and practised Scottish folk songs in the drawing room, but Medstead was not I fear, capable of providing an appreciative audience. Unfortunately she was the complete opposite of my father in that she took not the slightest interest in the country avocations which were his joy.

Our fowls he regarded as nasty creatures who scratched up her flower beds, and an encounter with a gobbling turkeycock was sufficient to send her into hysterics. Looking back, I think she was happy enough when I was young and she could give her time to looking after me. When I became older and no longer had need of her care then she became unutterably bored and frustrated, and at odds with life in general. Unfortunately she took refuge in a sort of religious mysticism which undoubtedly affected her otherwise excellent brain.

There were four persons in her Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, and God Sir James Barrie – who often became so inextricably mixed that it was difficult to know of which she was speaking. All this was of course a great grief to my father who was a Christian in the sense that it never occurred to him to be anything else but thought that religion was a thing to be trotted out only on Sundays.

He was however always kind, and it was only at the end of his life that he told me how much he had to put up with. A little I saw for myself, and at times it made me vaguely unhappy, but I soon forgot it in the abundant pleasures that were mine. “The Boynes,” as our house was called. was an ideal place in which to bring up a boy. It was a low white stone building standing in its own grounds and surrounded by a red brick wall.

The garden, apart from a drive to the front door and a croquet lawn had been allowed to run wild and it was ideal for such sports as Indians and Cowboys, Bushrangers or hide-and-seek. It possessed a marvellous collection of beeches, both the ordinary green and the cooper varieties, and in the spring and late autumn it was a sight to be hold. There was also a kitchen garden where we grew all our own vegetables but this was tucked discreetly away at the back of the house.

Inebriate family ghost

The house was all on the one floor, the only stairs being those leading to the cellar. It was built round a long passage lit in the day-time by a skylight, with three rooms opening off each side. This passage ran from the entrance hall to the door opening on the servants quarters, the aforesaid cellar, and some store rooms.

Around this rather curious architecture there hung a tale. The house was built in the Regency days by a gentleman by the
name of Ivy, who after his evenings- potations was quite incapable of negotiating any stair. He lived alone apart from a man servant who, not unnaturally soon began to find existence somewhat wearisome.

Accordingly he developed the habit of slipping out to the village inn after he had ensconced his master with his nightly quota of bottles. Unfortunately one night Mr. Ivy felt more thirsty even than usual, and after finishing his last bottle rang for the servant to bring more. Receiving no reply to repeated jangling’s he decided to deal with the matter personally but he had overestimated his capacity, and when the butler returned he found his master dead with a broken neck at the foot of the cellar stairs. Filled with he hanged himself on a large hook in the back passage, and his ghost is still supposed to haunt the house.

The haunting takes the form of a butler carrying e tray, who at ten o’clock in the evening emerges from the service door, walks halfway down the main passage and then vanishes. I never saw this apparition myself, not to my knowledge did my parents, but the older. villagers always made an excuse to leave the house before the fateful hour of l0 p.m, and one housemaid gave notice because. she said ‘Something frit her’. She could not, or would not, be more explicit.

In the December issue of CHESS for 1962, (Volume 28, Number 420-1, pp.28-33)  we had Part II:

On the whole I had a very happy boyhood. Lessons I found fairly easy and I was able to pass such exams as were necessary without undue swotting. I did not share my father’s aptitude for mathematics and won little or no distinction in this field, but in my favourite subjects, history and classics, I was, I believe I can say without boasting, pretty good.

Chess and Mathematics

By the way it is a great mistake to assume that chess and mathematics have anything in common. Intuition and imagination are the qualities that mark the great chess player, and the fact that Capablanca and some other leading masters were also good mathematicians is purely coincidental. Alekhine was a complete dud at the science.

Like all small boys I think I was a bit of a horror, and I can remember being guilty of one or two unpleasant pranks. One of these, to my subsequent regret was played on my father. I have mentioned that he was a Sunday Christian and this was sufficient to give him the post of Vicar’s Warden, probably because he was the only man in the village capable of reading the lessons without mispronouncing the names of the Hebrew Kings and Prophets. After he had finished a lesson it was his custom to mark carefully the place in the big Bible at which to start on the following Sunday. Noticing this, I and another boy went into the church when all was quiet and altered the position of the marker, so that, instead of the description of the Mosaic law set for the day, my father found himself reading the sprightly adventures of Lot and his daughters. It was well for me that he never discovered the culprit.

Loved cricket

Up to my introduction to chess my principal interest in life was cricket, my enthusiasm for which was fully shared by my father. He taught me the rudiments of batsmanship and bowled to me on the lawn, to the annoyance of my mother who objected to the green being cut up. Unfortunately I never made much of a show as a batsman, though later in life I developed quite a useful leg-break. Once or twice a year he took me to see the County team play at Portsmouth or Southampton. There were giants-in the Hampshire side in those days: C. B. Fry, Philip Mead the prettiest of all left-handed batsmen – but oh! so slow, those great-hearted bowlers Newman and Kennedy, and the gigantic Brown, the most versatile of all-rounders.

Occasionally too I was taken to London, either to Lords or the Oval, if there was a specially attractive match at either place. Those-were of course red letter days in my life, though two of them, I remember, ended disappointingly. An attempt to see M. A. Noble’s all conquering Australian team play the M.C.C. failed because our arrival at Lords coincided with that of a thunderstorm, and the only sight we had of an Australian was Warwick Armstrong smoking his pipe on the visitor’s balcony.

This was my first visit to Lords, and I gazed with awe at the sacred turf, waterlogged though it was, of which I had read so much. On another occasion we went to the Oval to see the famous hitter G. L. Jessop, who was playing for Gloucestershire against Surrey. This time the weather was kindly but my hero was not, for he was caught at silly mid-on off the second ball he received. By way of consolation I remember we watched a century by Dipper, an admirable batsman, but, alas! no Jessop.

The love of cricket’ was shared by my famous uncle and indeed, in my adolescent days, it was the only subject on which I could talk to him. At one time he ran his own team, the ‘Allahakbarries‘, and wrote many amusing accounts of their performances, mostly, I fear, apocryphal. I once played for one of his teams and, though I failed with the bat, I redeemed my character by two tumbling catches at short leg, one of which sent back a Cambridge Blue.

E. V. Lucas

Another cricket enthusiast whom I met when on a visit to my uncle was E. V. Lucas, for whose ethereal style of writing I had developed a boyhood passion. I was all agog to meet him, and great was my disappointment when, instead of the Shelley-like figure I had expected, there appeared a large fat man whose only subject of conversation appeared to be the dinners he had recently eaten. Then somebody mentioned cricket, and the whole atmosphere changed. Lucas became absolutely lyrical in his account of a Woolley innings he had just seen, and he and I were soon in deep discussion on the relative merits of the batsmen Jack Hobbs and
Victor Trumper. and similar fascinating themes.

Besides cricket my principal hobby was exploring the countryside on foot or on my bicycle. Hampshire was a beautiful county in those days, quite unspoilt, and containing varied and attractive scenery. The trees of Selborne Hangar have to be seen to be believed and, in its own placid way the valley of the Itchen just outside Winchester is one of the loveliest things in England. There were few parts of the county within a radius of twenty miles or so that remained unexplored by me.

Introduction into chess

All these delights, however, had to take a back seat, after my first introduction to chess. This occurred when I was twelve years old, and its manner was curious. I have mentioned that my father was quite a considerable player in his younger days, but had to give up the game when he came to Medstead because of lack of opposition. It so happened that we acquired a new clergyman who challenged my father to a game of chess, and to his surprise and disgust beat him with, I remember, a variation of the Allgaier gambit.

This was just not good enough. My father had played at Simpson’s with some of the best in the land and considered himself in a far different class from any country parson! So out came the dusty board and men, down came the long disused books, and a turning point in my life had arrived. For about an hour I watched him, fascinated, then tentatively asked “What is that?” it’s chess” he replied. “Will you teach me?” At first he was reluctant as he thought I was too young, but I was so persistent that at last he agreed to show me the moves. The whole idea of the game fascinated me and from that moment I was determined that, whatever else I did, I would become a first class chess player.

My father at first restricted my lessons to an hour a day, after supper. But we had an intelligent housemaid whom I taught to play, and of course I browsed in his books when he was not using them. Most of them were the work of his old chess tutor H. E. Bird, whose influence, especially in the Sicilian Defence, can still be detected in my play.

When I was able to face my father over the board in an actual game he at first gave me the odds of the queen, but this badge of inferiority was soon reduced to rook, then to knight, until finally we played level. He disapproved of the odds of pawn and move, and pawn and two, on the grounds that they made regular openings impossible, an opinion which I heartily endorse. It was a great day for me when I first beat him on level terms, and a still greater when the parson, invited to ‘The Boynes’ for tea, not only succumbed to my father – that had now become quite a regular occurrence- but also fell an easy victim to my carefully prepared Sicilian Defence.

Ethics of postal chess

Once my father had come back to chess his enthusiasm never waned. He played until the day of his death, and the chessboard was on the table by his bedside when I saw him for the last time. As soon as he found he was really recovering his zest for the game he started to play by correspondence,
and l, of course, helped him in his analysis. I could never quite understand my father’s attitude to these games. In my early days such assistance as I could give was of negligible value, but he continued to analyse with me when I was an acknowledged master, and on one occasion got Salo Flohr, accepted
challenger for the world championship, to work out a winning combination for him. He had no hesitation in showing or even publishing games won with such assistance as his own. Yet in all other respects he was the most rigorously conscientious man I have met.

Cosmopolitan Chess

At fourteen I was taken several times to the Vienna Café in New Oxford Street, the most cosmopolitan chess resort I have ever seen. Representatives of every nation congregated there, and one could hear the word ‘check’ in a dozen different languages.

Vienna Café, 24–28 Oxford Street, London, Adolphe Augustus Boucher (1868–1937), Bedford Lemere and Company - https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/photos/item/BL14069/003, Created: 29 April 1897
Vienna Café, 24–28 Oxford Street, London, Adolphe Augustus Boucher (1868–1937), Bedford Lemere and Company – https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/photos/item/BL14069/003, Created: 29 April 1897

Germans and Austrians predominated as was only natural since, at the time of which I am speaking, these were the leading chess-playing countries of the world. Everyone was most kind to me, which may have been the reason why, later on, I was quite unable to accept the view that all the inhabitants of Germany and Austria ate babies for breakfast.

My real chess career began when I joined the City of London Chess Club at the age of fifteen. This was, and had been for many years, the leading club in the country, and everybody who had any kind of chess aspiration was a member. The club met in Grocers Hall Court, off Poultry, and was ruled with a rod of iron by its secretary J. Walter Russell. He was a real despot who would brook no kind of opposition, but there is no doubt that he did a tremendous amount of good work for the club. Later on his jingoistic attitude made him my bitter enemy, but in those early days he did everything to encourage me, and presented me with the bound volumes of the rare City of London Chess Magazine autographed by him-self.

The City of London Chess Magazine
The City of London Chess Magazine

The players at the City were rigorously divided into five classes, each holding its own winter tournament. The winner of this, and the winner only, passed into the class above. After a test game against G. Wilkes, a strong class II player with whom I just managed to draw, I was placed in class III, Russell rightly thinking it would be discouraging for me to meet too strong opponents at my first attempt. I won every, game in this class in
my first year, but failed in the second class or Mocatta Cup as it was called.

I enjoyed these trips to London. I stayed with my uncle but saw little of him as I was out in the morning before he was up and was usually in bed before he came in at night. He lived in Adelphi Terrace, in an enormous top floor flat supposed, and I believe rightly, to possess the best view in London. Certainly on a clear day it was possible to look right over the built-up area of South London to the Surrey Hills in the distance. I loved to sit, at my bedroom window and gaze out-over the Thames and the multitudinous lights beyond it, wondering what was to become my destiny when I too became a Londoner, as I had every intention of doing. One or two of my dreams, such as that I would become British Champion, materialised, but on the whole they bore little relation to the reality in store.

First class status attained

At the second attempt I won the Mocatta Cup quite easily, and became an acknowledged first class player, for the City of London set the standard for the rest of England. Then the war came, and with its advent I will close the last really happy chapter of this book.

To say that the war knocked the bottom of my life would of course be true, but that was an experience that I shared with the bulk of my fellow countrymen. I don’t suppose there was anyone in Great Britain whose life not changed by the war. In a few cases for the better – if one considers getting rich quick out of war profits a change for the better – but in the majority for the worse.

Where I differed from my associates was that I could not understand what was going on around me, Most of them took it in their stride, “It was a nuisance, but those damned Germans wanted taking down a peg or two, and it was up to us to do it. Anyway it wouldn’t last six months and then we would get back to normal. I just could not feel like that. It was not that I did not know what the war was about – on the contrary I felt that I knew it all too well’ I had studied history and elementary economic geography and knew that the mineral wealth of Alsace-Lorraine, filched from France in the Franco-Prussian war had made Germany the greatest industrial power in Europe. I also knew that the best markets were in the hands of others, principally of England and that German opportunities for capital expansion were thus circumscribed I knew that British industrialists were naturally anxious to keep these advantages in their own possession, and that their French colleagues were equally anxious to recover their lost provinces without which France was condemned to the status of a second-rate power. I knew, too, Russia’s craving for an outlet to the sea via the Dardanelles, now
under the of Germany’s close friend Turkey. Here then was a situation in which big business in all the major European countries might hope to benefit from victory in a war but what possible concern could it be of ordinary folk like me and my father or those who worked in field, mine or factory?

War madness

I was soon to know. Foreign Minister Grey announced that England was entering the war to protect the neutrality of poor little Belgium, which the wicked Germans had violated. This struck me as absolute poppycock, unworthy of credence by a child of ten, but England lapped it up with a fervour that nothing short of madness. Young men left their peaceful country avocations to rush into Khaki to have a go at these Germans before they caved in.

Even my kind gentle father, who could not bear to kill a mouse, suddenly became imbued with a lust for slaughter of people he had never seen, and who could not possibly have done him any harm. As for me I was prepared to think as badly as they liked of the German Kaiser and his entourage, but I
could not regard our own hypocritical rulers in much better light. Still less could I be of England’s association with that barbarous tyrant, the Czar of all the Russias, whose brutalities had been the subject of much comment in the English press until he became our noble ally. As for the Germans themselves, the ordinary people I mean, I could not think they differed in any marked degree from the French, the Russians, or ourselves. I completely discounted the tales of atrocities, with which my father used to regale us at breakfast, out of the columns of the Daily Mail.

To Cambridge

As may be imagined my life at ‘The Boynes’ it that time was by no means a happy one. If I gave the slightest expression to my views everyone obviously thought that I was mad, and indeed there were times when I came to doubt my own sanity. I felt nothing but relief therefore when the time came for me to take up residence at Clare College, Cambridge, whence my father had graduated some twenty years before. Cambridge was a strange place in those war years.
The bulk of the undergraduates were already in the forces, but there was still a number in uniform training for commissions in the O.T.C. Pressure was put upon me to join these, but I firmly refused. For the most part they looked nasty pieces of work. There was of course the usual sprinkling of Indians and other Orientals, with some of whom I became very friendly. Today I can remember only two: an Egyptian named Talaat, an extreme nationalist who told me that I was the only Englishman in Cambridge whose throat he did not want to cut; and a charming Burmese, whose only fault was that his name was Moo Kow, which caused me some embarrassment when I had to introduce him in company.

Besides the budding officers and the Orientals there was another small group, serious-looking young men who included in their number most of the best scholars of the university. These were the anti-militarists, the ‘conchies’ waiting for the time when they would be dragged before a tribunal of local
tradesmen who could grant them total exemption (very rare), offer them non-combatant service, or reject the appeal absolutely, which meant in effect, “Join the Army or go to gaol.” Many who were given the choice of non-combatant service – preferred this last alternative. Towards -this group I naturally gravitated, and had the satisfaction of discovering that if I were mad, some very clever people including several Dons were mad also.

Another thing I found was that nearly all those anti-militarists were also Socialists, so I too became a Socialist. I am afraid that in those days I had a very hazy idea of what the term implied, but I knew that it stood for the workers and, surely, if anyone could stop this senseless slaughter it was the working classes. They, at any rate, had everything to lose and nothing to gain from continued bloodshed. I knew that the International Conference of World Socialist Parties, meeting shortly before the outbreak of war had pledged themselves solemnly, that in the event of hostilities breaking out they would proclaim a general strike in all belligerent countries.

Faith declining

When the event actually happened, however, the party leaders, with a few exceptions, forgot all about the strike and scurried to join their national governments, where they denounced the enemy just as vociferously as their Conservative colleagues. In spite of this I still pinned my faith to the Socialist movement. Even in those days I realised that Socialism is greater than its leaders. Although on the whole I got on well with my new friends I soon found there was a number of differences between us. Most of them were absolute pacifists, that is to say they objected to violence or killing in any circumstance whatever, whereas my point of view was that I wanted to choose whom I would kill, and understand why I was to do it. Nor could I claim any religious objections to war.

Since August l9l4 my faith, such as it was, had been steadily declining, and Cambridge had finally destroyed it. We were compelled to go to chapel
twice a week, as well as once on Sunday, and the continual prayers for victory for the British Army, which could only mean mass slaughter of Germans, struck me as disgusting hypocrisy in those who professed to follow the Prince of Peace, especially as their colleagues across the sea were imploring just the same thing – with colours reversed as it were. I had little use for a god who allowed himself to be harnessed like a mule to the national cannon.

No desire to be killed

I had a year of Cambridge before I became of military age, and during that time I had to face up to the first real dilemma of my life. Should I register myself as a conscientious objector on purely political grounds, or should I allow myself to be conscripted into the military machine as, of course, was the wish of my parents? At the time it was a terrible choice. All my own instincts were in favour of the first course, even though it might mean remaining in gaol as long as the war lasted. When I tentatively broached the subject to my mother it was received with a storm of emotion which quite broke my resolution. With tears streaming down her face she clasped my knees and- swore that she would rather see me dead than branded as a coward, and I really believed she would, too. I hastily told her that if she felt so strongly I would give in to her wishes, and all was peace again.

At the same time I made a private resolution that once I got into the Army I would apply every ounce-of ability I possessed, use every feint or subterfuge however unscrupulous, to avoid being put in a position where I had to kill or be killed. I had the strongest objection to taking the life of any potential Lasker or Tarrasch, and an equally strong one to their taking mine.

My friends at Cambridge for the most part considered my attitude to be a betrayal of principle, and so perhaps it was, but I had always dearly loved my parents, and I found the alternative course required more strength of character, or callousness, than I possessed. Once I had made up my mind things were not so bad. Cambridge, even in wartime, was a delightful place and I forgot most of my troubles in that best of anodynes, Chess.

The University club had naturally sunk to very small numbers, but those that-were left were very strong. We managed to organise a championship, which I won by half a point from J. Birnberg, a player who made quite a name for himself in London chess circles after the war. I also played in the championship of the town club, and defeated W. H. Gunston, a Don of St. John’s who was reckoned as one of the best players in England. He was much the strongest player I had yet met on even terms, and I was naturally very cock-a-hoop with myself, especially when I heard that he had not lost a game in the town championship for over twenty yeans. I could only tie for the title however, as I made draws with two of the lesser lights whilst Gunston won all his other games. Before the tie could be played off my time of liberty came to an end.

Army life

I am not going to say much about my army life. It was just plain Hell. My regiment was the Honourable Artillery Company, which I joined partly because its headquarters were in London and I hoped to be able to do at any rate some of my training there and partly because my people considered that my fellow soldiers would be of a rather superior type to those I was likely to meet in an ordinary infantry regiment’ I do not know
whether this last supposition was true. The
onlv man whose name I can remember was
J”‘u””qr””aiy tti”a for murder, but on the-
tuttoiu’they were a decent enough lot of
i;ii;;t. l’ cannot’ say the slTe of the
“?nl”.luni ttl.c.ot. cbarse and brutal’ they
;;;;;; t;take a sadistic {gliglt in making
ii”‘iif” * tiserable as possible’ I hated,them
*i.f,'”- il”i.J,nt’ti”h I iould.not possibly feel
iit unv German, and in all my .experience
*itn {ne H.A.c. I encountered only two
;L;;il;t r-*”ula not have been delighted
l”–“tt”.t”. lt is possible that the views I
t’rllJ maae me a difficult soldier’ also t’hat my
liii.l’tli-lii” tty have rendered me unduly
ilili”” – vulgir abuse, but looking back’
;;’i-;;;p;ring”t’hese brutes with the very
i,ril*-“.”itPe’s I served under in World
W;; ii;l il[n”t feel that mv original iudg-
:nr*t I?:..:’l*’;” d E i i^ff.l’ d”le ;l iil;
fi;;;;;;;ttogettrer if it were not that thev
;i;iiJ; cutt”i-n Part in my development as
a chess Player.
– l.-T{aa’nopea I did the first.part of my-
“”ii.liJln ‘iSnJon and, since l. lived. out of
i…iJr.i: “i’ trt” H. t pden Res idential .C I u b’
i-n “t “Uf” to get a good d.eal of chess in the
;;;1;;;-and- on -saturdaY afternoons’ I
Fitit’J F:*,”1″‘J.”‘i T:’ 1 “:l ?” “H,1;
Miss E. Price.
Personaltities of the l9l0’s
Here I had a numbelo{ Fllnes on a Pro-
ressilnit’ut it ,nittl o’ C’ M-utler’ one of the
ffi;’-t’utfi;tt “i the old Simpson’s- Pro’s’
‘fi”‘lrJi’rv* ” a”tightt’t chap with a fund of
li”iittlit about ihess players and others’
ili-ii-n’Jtim to h””” bedn drue’ even if they
wer;’iii.’- tt” could keep an audience
J,i.’rt-t”r’l”J’ with these talei’ wh.ictr. were
;#iftt *”il-r’oui malice’ ln addition he
;;;iitJt rate chess t’eacher’.and I learnt a
gl”, il n;i’::lL tx, T’.’3il: n;fi :i j;’*:
iii’i”.5.i.i-i.i establishing such a basis be-
i”i””-“itlrnirting any tactical adventures’
‘ii*.”.iv -i”ltt.int is’anothe r name. for th is’
l;?’i;’it tt* tatt’mart of every first class
;i;;;.’it *u Mutler who save.me mv first
illi-i”tietilnto ttre complexities of the
li:s”‘.l” I ;i;; had the oPPortunity.oi
[i’il;i. “!sr T:’ “#’i,’: ffi I .*T T'”J i:
ilii”e’i.”dtn “t”teutt’ scott was prob’

 Save as PDF

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
 Save as PDF

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. Peter was born to Hugh Clarke (21st April 1905, West Ham – April 1961)and Gertrude Olive (née Ekblom) (7th May 1909, Bournemouth – October 2005, Stratton, Cornwall).  Hugh and Gertrude married on June 4th 1932 in Forest Gate in Essex.

In July 1962 Peter married Margaret Eileen Elizabeth (Peggy) Wood, the daughter of BH Wood. Margaret passed away in 2018 in Bude, Cornwall.

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, Hugh Clarke, 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.

 Save as PDF

Remembering IM Bob Wade OBE (10-iv-1921 29-xi-2008)

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

We remember IM Bob Wade OBE who was born 100 years ago today on Sunday, April 10th 1921

In 1979 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Civil Division Bob Wade was awarded the OBE. The citation read simply : “For services to Chess”

He won the BCF Presidents’ Award in 1986.

In the Foreword to the 2009 ECF Yearbook, President Gerry Walsh wrote :

“As I started this report I had just heard the sad news that IM Bob Wade had died aged 87. I first met Bob at one of the Whitby Congresses and in 1972 he played in the Teeside GM Tournament where I recall he beat the three Hungarian players Portisch, Bilek and Sax (ed : aged 51).”

Geurt Gijssen wrote in Chesscafe.com :

“I received the sad news that Bob Wade passed away at the age of eighty seven. He played his last tournament in London in August. When I was young I read about his exploits as a chess player, and he was the arbiter in many important chess events. I met him in 1993 when I was the organizer of the first part of the match Karpov – Timman, played in The Netherlands in three different cities: Zwolle, Arnhem, and Amsterdam. He was the only member of the Appeals Committee and Bob was always present watching the games in the playing hall. He gave me invaluable advice about all elements of the match venues. It was very clear that he was an experienced chess player and arbiter, and I learned many things from him. May he rest in peace.”

From the 1952 Ilford Congress (30 May - 2 June) and originally published in BCM, July 1952, page 187. (l-r) : Harold Israel, Alan Phillips, Bob Wade, Otto Friedman, Abe Yanofsky, Alfred William Bowen and Harold Meek. Thanks to John Saunders and Leonard Barden
From the 1952 Ilford Congress (30 May – 2 June) and originally published in BCM, July 1952, page 187. (l-r) : Harold Israel, Alan Phillips, Bob Wade, Otto Friedman, Abe Yanofsky, Alfred William Bowen and Harold Meek. Thanks to John Saunders and Leonard Barden

Wade was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1956-57, 1957-58 and 1964-65 seasons.

From the Preface of The World Chess Championship : 1951 by Lionel Sharples Penrose we have :

“Mr. Wade is also passionately devoted to the game. Before coming to Europe, he was three times champion of New Zealand. He had played in tournaments in England but his chief successes have been on the Continent. At Venice in 1950, he obtained a high place in a very severe contest in which some of the strongest Russia, Czech, Dutch, French, Italian, North and South American players took part. Much of his time is occupied in chess organising and teaching. He is an acting vice-president of the F.I.D.É and in this official capacity he attended the match in Moscow, which is the subject of this book.”

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

Paul McKeown researched (and Simon Spivack asked permission to reproduce his words) the earliest part of Bob’s life as follows:

“On May 20th, 1919, Thomas Graham Wade, aged 27, Sergeant in the NZ Expeditionary Force, repatriated with honour from war-time service in Egypt, Gallipoli and France, married Amy Lilian Neave, aged 21, in South Dunedin. A New Zealander of Scots and English descent, his family was Graham from Montrose. The family name, Wade, came from Marshall George Wade, the soldier and engineer who led the Hanoverian forces against the Scots at the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and was immortalised in the original third verse of the British national anthem:

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.

May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

Robert Graham Wade, known in the Scots manner to his family as Robin, and later to his many friends as Bob, was their first child, born April 10th, 1921, at Dunedin. Over the next few years he was joined by sisters, Lilian, Agnes, Betty, June, his brother Ted and finally by his youngest sister Amy. The family lived for a number of years at Portobello.

At that time, Portobello was a scattered community of about 150 people with three shops and a pub on the Otago Peninsula. Bob attended Portobello Primary School, a small country school, finished “dux” or top of class, and then attended the King Edward Technical High School at Stuart Street in Dunedin.”

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

In The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984 & 1996), Hooper & Whyld:

“Wade Variation, 147, also known as the Modern Variation, in the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Meran Variation, from Bogoljubow-Wade, Oldenburg, 1949;

1239 in the French Defence, introduced by Wade in a match against Schmid in 1950.

Hooper & Whyld go on to write :

“New Zealand-born Robert Graham Wade (1921- ) won the championship of his homeland three times before moving to England as a young man, He won the British Championship twice and trained many English players.”

Aside from the two variations mentioned by Hooper & Whyld there are other Wade Variations :

which Jim Plaskett dubbed the “Sidestep Variation”

and

which is the Pytel-Wade Variation of the Scandinavian Defence.

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

“International Master (1950 Ed: actually 1954), International Judge (1958), New Zealand Champion three times and British Champion in 1952 and 1970.

Bob Wade was born in New Zealand on 10th April 1921 and is a professional chess player. He has lived in England for many years and has played regularly for the British Chess Federation team in Chess Olympiads. He has played a prominent part in coaching schemes for juniors and is largely responsible for recent successes of English juniors in international events.

Bob Wade v. Aldecoa of the Philippines from the 1958 Munich Olympiad played on October 9th 1958. The game was won by Bob in 60 moves. From the collection of David Jarrett with many thanks.
Bob Wade v. Aldecoa of the Philippines from the 1958 Munich Olympiad played on October 9th 1958. The game was won by Bob in 60 moves. From the collection of David Jarrett with many thanks.

He is chess correspondent of Associated Newspapers and Independent Television News and editor of a series of books on Contemporary Chess Openings published by Batsford.

Author of a number of books on the game, his publications include books on the World Championship of 1951, 1957 (ed : this book was, in fact, by Golombek) and 1963, the first in collaboration with W. Winter; The Closed Ruy Lopez (Batsford, 1970) in collaboration with LS Blackstock and PJ Booth: World Chess Championship (Batsford, 1972) in collaboration with Svetozar Gligoric; Games of RJ Fischer (Batsford, 1972) in collaboration with KJ O’Connell and Soviet Chess (Neville Spearman, 1968).

Wade was a member of the FIDE Laws Commission from 1950 to 1952.”

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

“International Master who was born at Dunedin, New Zealand, but came to live In England in 1946 and has represented both countries on different occasions. He has nearly always done well in British Championships and won the title in Chester in 1952 and again at Coventry in 1970. He had played for the British Chess Federation at the Olympiads of 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1962, winning the shortest game of the Varna Olympiad in that year in nine moves against Anton Kinzel of Austria

He played for the New Zealand team at the 1970 Olympiad at Siegen but returned to the BCF team at Skopje in 1972.

His best individual international results were a fifth place at Venice 1950 and again fifth at the Masters section of the Capablanca Memorial at Cienfuegos in Cuba in 1975. Possessor of a sharp clear-cut style of play, he once drew a match with the West German grandmaster Lothar Schmid with neither side drawing a game, though this was before Schmid received the grandmaster title.

He has done much valuable work in England teaching the young, and was responsible for the text of a highly successful television series in 1975.

His main books are : Soviet Chess, London, 1967; Botvinnik-Bronstein Match 1951 (in co-operation with W. Winter), London, Toronto 1951; Match Petrosian-Botvinnik, London, 1963; Sousse 1967, The Chess Player, Nottingham, 1968.”

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) we have this article from George Botterill :

“In the Birthday Honours list of 1979 Bob Wade was awarded the OBE for his services to chess. Few rewards can have been more thoroughly earned. For some reason, Bob has always been held in greater esteem abroad than in the country for which he has done so much. But the many players who have turned to him for advice or who have simply enjoyed his hospitality, which is always ungrudgingly available to fellow chess players, know the measure of his dedication to the game.

Theodore Tylor vs Bob Wade at Paignton 1953. Bob held TT to a draw to secure first place.
Theodore Tylor vs Bob Wade at Paignton 1953. Bob held TT to a draw to secure first place

Wade was born in Dunedin, a third generation New Zealander of Scots and English ancestry. He started a a career as a civil servant in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Having won the New Zealand Championship in 1944 and 1945 he was sent over to participate in the British Championship of 1946. The result was not exactly a success – a mere 3.5 points out of 11. But Bob was not to be disheartened so easily. Feeling he was capable of better things, he took leave of absence in 1947 and did the circuit, such as it then was, of chess tournament in Europe and North America.

Bob giving a simul in Leeds in the 1950s
Bob giving a simul in Leeds in the 1950s

When he returned to New Zealand he found that he had been transferred to another department in a civil service reorganisation. The new job was not so congenial. He stuck it out for 6 months – during which time he won the New Zealand Championship for a third time – and then handed in his resignation to take up the precarious life of a chess professional.

IM Bob Wade
IM Bob Wade

Settling in Britain he soon gained the IM title (ed : 1954). But even in those days when still a young man Wade did not concentrate exclusively on his own playing career. In 1949 he went to the FIDE congress and was one of the five people – the others were BH Wood, Ragozin, Zubarev and Rogarde – who collaborated on the writing of the official rules for the game.

Bob Wade OBE, Murray Chandler MNZM and David Anderton OBE at the 1986 Dubai Olympiad. Photograph by Frits Agterdenbos
Bob Wade OBE, Murray Chandler MNZM and David Anderton OBE at the 1986 Dubai Olympiad. Photograph by Frits Agterdenbos

He also served as a member of the commission that determined who the original holders of international titles would be. When you consider that Wade was also on the 1950 commission that decided the composition of the World Championship Interzonals, it becomes apparent that this man played a significant part in the shaping the structure of modern international chess.

Bob at a CentYMCA event with Neil Carr, Mike Wills, Aaron Rose and Jon Ady
Bob at a CentYMCA event with Neil Carr, Mike Wills, Aaron Rose and Jon Ady

Although rarely at the top in international tournaments, Wade was always a very dangerous player, capable on his day of beating anybody in the world. He won the British Championship twice at Chester in 1952 and at Coventry in 1970.

Bob playing Kick Langeweg at IBM 1961.
Bob playing Kick Langeweg at IBM 1961.

In recent years Wade has put his main energies into junior training and organisation and also into his work as the editor of Batsford’s highly productive and extremely successful series of chess books.

Bob with John Nunn and Boris Spassky at the GLC Masters
Bob with John Nunn and Boris Spassky at the GLC Masters

It is hard to say in what department one should place Wade’s greatest contributions to British Chess. Living through what is retrospect look to have been the Dark Ages of British chess – the 1950s and 1960s – he has demonstrated that even in a social and cultural environment that made playing chess economically ‘impossible’ profession to follow it was still possible to dedicate a life to chess, if one had the determination.

Leonard Barden, Henry Mutkin, Adrian Hollis and Bob Wade observe Nick Ivell vs Ken Regan at the 1983 Varsity match
Leonard Barden, Henry Mutkin, Adrian Hollis and Bob Wade observe Nick Ivell vs Ken Regan at the 1983 Varsity match

During those years he was really the only British Player who regularly active in international tournaments. Since then he has been constantly active as an author, editor and adviser, always working to transform Britain into a country more congenial to good chess.

Bob at the demo board at London Central YMCA chess club.
Bob at the demo board at London Central YMCA chess club.

But we suspect that he might regard this role as trainer and coach as the most important thing of all. He is, quite appropriately the British Chess Federation’s Chief National Coach.

Bob doing one of the things he loved best : teaching. He was discussing a position at Havana 1965. Dr JR Capablanca, son of the former world champion, on the right, interpreted.
Bob doing one of the things he loved best : teaching. He was discussing a position at Havana 1965. Dr JR Capablanca, son of the former world champion, on the right, interpreted.

If one had to choose a single best game from Wade’s whole tournament career, it would probably be this one.

George Botterill

Dr. Fazekas (left) playing Bob Wade at an Ilford Congress, photographer unknown
Dr. Fazekas (left) playing Bob Wade at an Ilford Congress, photographer unknown

In the January 2009 issue of British Chess Magazine John Saunders wrote a ten page obituary as follows :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXIX (129, 2009), #1 (January), pp. 34-43

Leonard Barden wrote this obituary

Here is Bob’s Telegraph obituary.

John Saunders interviewed Bob at his Blackheath home and wrote this extensive article for the 1999 British Chess Magazine.

His detailed results in Olympiads, from olimpbase.org, follow.

Amsterdam 1954, England board 4, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Moscow 1956, England board 3, 6½/14 (+2−3=9);
Munich 1958, England 1st reserve, 7/14 (+5−5=4);
Leipzig 1960, England 2nd reserve, 6/11 (+4−3=4);
Varna 1962, England 2nd reserve, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Siegen 1970, New Zealand board 2, 9/15 (+7−4=4);
Skopje 1972, England board 3, 7½/14 (+4−3=7).
Wade won several middle-strength Master events in the British Isles: Ilford 1957 and 1968, Paignton 1959, Dublin 1962, and Southend-on-Sea 1965.

Wade was generally no more than a middle-ranking player in strong international tournaments. His other highlights against high-standard international-level competition include:

tied 4–5th at Haifa/Tel Aviv 1958 on 7½/13 (winner Samuel Reshevsky);
3rd at Bognor Regis 1959 on 7/10 (winner Erno Gereben);
5th at Reykjavík 1964 on 7½/13 (winner Mikhail Tal);
tied 4–5th at Málaga 1966 on 7/11; (winners Alberic O’Kelly de Galway and Eleazar Jiménez);
6th at Briseck 1971 on 7/13 (winner Gideon Barcza);
5th at Cienfuegos ‘B’ 1975 on 10/17; (winners Julio Boudy and Amador Rodriguez);
tied 7–12th in the World Senior Championship, Bad Woerishofen 1992, on 7½/11 (winner Efim Geller).
Wade was the only British player to have faced Bobby Fischer in tournament play (outside of Olympiads). They met three times, with Wade drawing one game and losing the other two.

Towards the end of his life Bob lived at 3, Hardy Road, Greenwich, London, SE3 7NS

His detailed Wikipedia entry may be found here

Bob was an active author and wrote (or co-wrote) around 22 books as follows :

The World Chess Championship, W.Winter & RG Wade, Turnstille Press, 1951
The World Chess Championship, W.Winter & RG Wade, Turnstille Press, 1951
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
Chess Tactics for Beginners, RG Wade, Bott and Morrison, 1960
Chess Tactics for Beginners, RG Wade, Bott and Morrison, 1960
The World Chess Championship: 1963 Botvinnik vs Petrosian, Wade
The World Chess Championship: 1963 Botvinnik vs Petrosian, Wade
Soviet Chess, RG Wade, Neville Spearman (UK), David McKay Company, Inc, New York, 1968
Soviet Chess, RG Wade, Neville Spearman (UK) & David McKay Company, Inc, New York, 1968
Sousse 1967 : International Chess Tournament, RG Wade, The Chess Player, 1968
Sousse 1967 : International Chess Tournament, RG Wade, The Chess Player, 1968
The Velimirovic Attack, Sozin Sicilian, TD Harding and RG Wade, Chessman Publications Ltd., 1969.
The Velimirovic Attack, Sozin Sicilian, TD Harding and RG Wade, Chessman Publications Ltd., 1969.
The Closed Ruy Lopez, Wade, Blackstock and Booth, Batsford, 1970
The Closed Ruy Lopez, Wade, Blackstock and Booth, Batsford, 1970
Palma 1970 : Interzonal Chess Tournament, RG Wade and LS Blackstock, The Chess Player, 1970
Palma 1970 : Interzonal Chess Tournament, RG Wade and LS Blackstock, The Chess Player, 1970
The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Robert Wade and O'Connell, Batsford 1972, 2nd ed. 1972, reprinted 1973, First limp edition 1981, Reprinted 1985, 1981, 1989, Second edition (The Complete Games of Bobby Fischer) 1992
The Games of Robert J. Fischer, Robert Wade and O’Connell, Batsford 1972, 2nd ed. 1972, reprinted 1973, First limp edition 1981, Reprinted 1985, 1981, 1989, Second edition (The Complete Games of Bobby Fischer) 1992
World Championship Interzonals, Wade, Blackstock and Kotov, Batsford, 1974
World Championship Interzonals, Wade, Blackstock and Kotov, Batsford, 1974
The World Chess Championship, Gligoric and Wade, Batsford, 1974
The World Chess Championship, Gligoric and Wade, Batsford, 1974
The Marshall Attack, Wade & Harding, Batsford, 1974
The Marshall Attack, Wade & Harding, Batsford, 1974
Playing Chess, RG Wade, Batsford/TVTimes, 1974
Playing Chess, RG Wade, Batsford/TVTimes, 1974
Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan, 1978, Batsford, Wade, Speelman, Povah and Blackstock
Sicilian Lasker-Pelikan, 1978, Batsford, Wade, Speelman, Povah and Blackstock
44th USSR Championship Final Moscow 1977, RG Wade, LS Blackstock and HC Thomas, Master Chess Publications, 1977
44th USSR Championship Final Moscow 1977, RG Wade, LS Blackstock and HC Thomas, Master Chess Publications, 1977
45th USSR Championship Final Leningrad 1977, RG Wade, LS Blackstock and HC Thomas, Master Chess Publications, 1977
45th USSR Championship Final Leningrad 1977, RG Wade, LS Blackstock and HC Thomas, Master Chess Publications, 1977
Bugojno, 1978, RG Wade, LS Blackstock and HC Thomas, Master Chess Publications, 1978
Bugojno, 1978, RG Wade, LS Blackstock and HC Thomas, Master Chess Publications, 1978
46th USSR Chess Championships 1978, RD Keene, JDM Nunn, RG Wade, Master Chess Publications, 1978, ISBN 0 906634 00 8
46th USSR Chess Championships 1978, RD Keene, JDM Nunn, RG Wade, Master Chess Publications, 1978, ISBN 0 906634 00 8
Tournament of the Stars:~ Montreal 1979, RG Wade, LS Blackstock, AL Hosking, Master Chess Publications, 1979
Tournament of the Stars:~ Montreal 1979, RG Wade, LS Blackstock, AL Hosking, Master Chess Publications, 1979
Interpolis Supertournament:~ Tilburg 1979, LS Blackstock & RG Wade, Master Chess Publications, Chess, Sutton Coldfield, 1979
Interpolis Supertournament:~ Tilburg 1979, LS Blackstock & RG Wade, Master Chess Publications, Chess, Sutton Coldfield, 1979
Fighting Chess, Kasparov and Wade, Harper Collins, 1983
Fighting Chess, Kasparov and Wade, Harper Collins, 1983
Trends in the Reti, Volume 1, RG Wade, 1992
Trends in the Reti, Volume 1, RG Wade, 1992
Batsford Chess Endings, Speelman, Tisdall and Wade, 1993
Batsford Chess Endings, Speelman, Tisdall and Wade, 1993
Chess for Children, Ted Nottingham and Bob Wade, Sterling Juvenile, 1996
Chess for Children, Ted Nottingham and Bob Wade, Sterling Juvenile, 1996
Trends in the Reti, Volume 2, RG Wade, 1996
Trends in the Reti, Volume 2, RG Wade, 1996
Winning Chess : Tactics and Strategies, Sterling Juvenile, 2001
Winning Chess : Tactics and Strategies, Sterling Juvenile, 2001

In 2007 Ray Cannon published the following tribute :

Bob Wade : Tribute to a Chess Master, Ray Cannon & Ray Keene, Impala, 2007
Bob Wade : Tribute to a Chess Master, Ray Cannon, Impala, 2007

However, Paul McKeown remains Bob’s official biographer.

IM Robert Wade OBE
IM Robert Wade OBE
 Save as PDF