Tag Archives: Biographies

Ninety today : Leonard Barden

Leonard Barden (Linda Nylind of the Guardian)
Leonard Barden (Linda Nylind of the Guardian)

Ninety today is Leonard Barden, born August 20th, 1929.

From Wikipedia :

Leonard William Barden (born 20 August 1929, in Croydon, London) is an English chess master, writer, broadcaster, organizer and promoter. The son of a dustman, he was educated at Whitgift School, South Croydon, and Balliol College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. He learned to play chess at age 13 while in a school shelter during a World War II German air raid. Within a few years he became one of the country’s leading juniors.[1] He represented England in four Chess Olympiads. Barden played a major role in the rise of English chess from the 1970s. As a chess columnist for various newspapers, his column in London’s Evening Standard is the world’s longest-standing chess column.

Leonard Barden
Leonard Barden

In 1946, Barden won the British Junior Correspondence Chess Championship, and tied for first place in the London Boys’ Championship.[1] The following year he tied for first with Jonathan Penrose in the British Boys’ Championship, but lost the playoff.[1][2]

Leonard Barden & "Assiac" (Heinrich Fraenkel)
Leonard Barden & “Assiac” (Heinrich Fraenkel)

Barden finished fourth at Hastings in 1951–52.[1] In 1952, he won the Paignton tournament ahead of the Canadian future grandmaster Daniel Yanofsky.[2] He captained the Oxfordshire team which won the English Counties championship in 1951 and 1952. In the latter year he captained the University of Oxford team which won the National Club Championship, and he represented the university in the annual team match against the University of Cambridge during his years there.[1] In 1953, he won the individual British Lightning Championship (ten seconds a move). The following year, he tied for first with the Belgian grandmaster Albéric O’Kelly de Galway at Bognor Regis, was joint British champion, with Alan Phillips, and won the Southern Counties Championship.[1][2]

Leonard Barden vs Victor Korchnoi, Leipzig Olympiad, 1960
Leonard Barden vs Victor Korchnoi, Leipzig Olympiad, 1960

He finished fourth at Hastings 1957–58, ranked by chessmetrics as his best statistical performance.,[1][3] In the 1958 British Chess Championship, Barden again tied for first, but lost the playoff match to Penrose 1½–3½.

Leonard Barden (centre) with Raaphi Persitz, JB Sykes, OI Galvenius and DM Armstrong, Ilford, May, 1953
Leonard Barden (centre) with Raaphi Persitz, JB Sykes, OI Galvenius and DM Armstrong, Ilford, May, 1953

He represented England in the Chess Olympiads at Helsinki 1952 (playing fourth board, scoring 2 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses), Amsterdam 1954 (playing first reserve, scoring 1 win, 2 draws, and 4 losses), Leipzig 1960 (first reserve; 4 wins, 4 draws, 2 losses) and Varna 1962 (first reserve; 7 wins, 2 draws, 3 losses). The latter was his best performance by far.[1][4][5]

Barden has a Morphy number of 3, having drawn with Jacques Mieses in the Premier Reserves at Hastings 1948–49.[6] Mieses drew with Henry Bird in the last round of Hastings 1895,[7][8] and Bird played a number of games with Paul Morphy in 1858 and 1859.[9][10]

Leonard Barden (far right)
Leonard Barden (far right)

In 1964, Barden gave up most competitive chess to devote his time to chess organisation, broadcasting, and writing about the game.[1][2] He has made invaluable contributions to English chess as a populariser, writer, organiser, fundraiser, and broadcaster.[11]

Leonard Barden
Leonard Barden

He was controller of the British Chess Federation Grand Prix for many years, having found its first sponsor, Cutty Sark. He was a regular contributor to the BBC’s Network Three weekly radio chess programme from 1958 to 1963. His best-known contribution was a consultation game, recorded in 1960 and broadcast in 1961, where he partnered Bobby Fischer against the English masters Jonathan Penrose and Peter Clarke. This was the only recorded consultation game of Fischer’s career. The game, unfinished after eight hours of play, was adjudicated a draw by former world champion Max Euwe.[12][13] Barden gave BBC television commentaries on all the games in the 1972 world championship. From 1973 to 1978 he was co-presenter of BBC2’s annual Master Game televised programme.

Leonard Barden (left of Korchnoi)
Leonard Barden (left of Korchnoi)

As of 2010, his weekly columns have been published in The Guardian for 54 years and in The Financial Times for 35 years. A typical Barden column not only contains a readable tournament report, but is geared toward promoting the game.[14] His London Evening Standard column, begun in summer 1956,[15] is now the world’s longest running daily chess column by the same author, breaking the previous record set by George Koltanowski in the San Francisco Chronicle. Koltanowski’s column ran for 51 years, 9 months, and 18 days, including posthumous articles.[16][17]

Leonard Barden
Leonard Barden

Leonard reveals this his best game was

Leonard has authored or co-authored the following books.

A Guide to Chess Openings (1957),

A Guide to Chess Openings
A Guide to Chess Openings

How Good Is Your Chess? (1957),

How Good is Your Chess ?
How Good is Your Chess ?

Chess (1959),
Introduction to Chess Moves and Tactics Simply Explained (1959),

An Introduction to Chess Moves and Tactics Simply Explained
An Introduction to Chess Moves and Tactics Simply Explained

Modern Chess Miniatures (with Wolfgang Heidenfeld, 1960),
Erevan 1962 (1963),
The Ruy Lopez (1963),

The Ruy Lopez
The Ruy Lopez

The Guardian Chess Book (1967),

The Guardian Chess Book
The Guardian Chess Book

An Introduction to Chess (1967),

An Introduction to Chess
An Introduction to Chess

The King’s Indian Defence (1968),

The King's Indian Defence
The King’s Indian Defence

Chess: Master the Moves (1977),
Guide to the Chess Openings (with Tim Harding, 1977),

Guide to the Chess Openings
Guide to the Chess Openings

Leonard Barden’s Chess Puzzle Book (1977) (a collection of his Evening Standard columns),

Leonard Barden's Chess Puzzle Book
Leonard Barden’s Chess Puzzle Book

The Master Game (with Jeremy James, 1979),

The Master Game
The Master Game

How to Play the Endgame in Chess (1979),

How to Play The Endgame in Chess
How to Play The Endgame in Chess

Play Better Chess (1980),

Play Better Chess
Play Better Chess

Batsford Chess Puzzles (2002),

Batsford Chess Puzzles
Batsford Chess Puzzles

One Move and You’re Dead (with Erwin Brecher, 2007).[1][2][18]

Happy Birthday to Peter Charles Griffiths

Peter Charles Griffiths
Peter Charles Griffiths

Happy birthday best wishes to Peter Charles Griffiths on this day, August 15th, in 1946.

Peter was a strong player active from the 1960s until 1989. He played in the British Championships more than once and was a professional coach. He wrote the column “Practical Chess Endings” which appeared in the British Chess Magazine. He wrote Exploring the Endgame

Exploring the Endgame
Exploring the Endgame

and co-authored Secrets of Grandmaster Play with John Nunn.

Secrets of Grandmaster Play
Secrets of Grandmaster Play

and wrote Improving Your Chess

Improving Your Chess
Improving Your Chess

and Better Chess for Club Players

Better Chess for Club Players
Better Chess for Club Players

Happy Birthday Peter !

Peter Griffiths (far left)
Peter Griffiths (far left)

Malcolm : Happy Birthday to You !

IM Malcolm Pein
IM Malcolm Pein

We wish IM Malcolm Pein the very best wishes on his birthday.

From Wikipedia :

Pein earned the title of International Master (IM) in 1986.[1] According to IM Lawrence Trent‘s introduction at the start of the round one commentary at the 2013 Chess Candidates Tournament in London, Pein has not only been an influence in British chess for over thirty years, he has engaged in several chess organizing activities. He is CO of Chess in Schools and Communities which is a UK chess charity focusing on chess for youth, Director of the London Chess Classic tournament, and runs the London Chess Centre. Pein also writes a daily chess column in The Daily Telegraphnewspaper and is the executive editor of CHESS magazine, a monthly publication with an international readership. He is also the representative to FIDE for the English Chess Federation and in October 2015 was elected as ECF’s International Director.[2]

IM Malcolm Pein
IM Malcolm Pein

From Wikipedia :

In addition to his newspaper column and magazine editorial, Pein has written a number of chess books and booklets, including:

Grunfeld Defence (Batsford, 1981) – ISBN 978-0713435948
Blumenfeld Defence [with Jan Przewoznik] (Everyman, 1991) – ISBN 978-0080371337
Daily Telegraph Guide to Chess (Batsford, 1995) – ISBN 978-0713478143
The Exchange Grunfeld [with Adrian Mikhalchishin] (Everyman, 1996) – ISBN 978-1857440560

Guide to Chess
Guide to Chess
Malcolm Pein & Dominic Lawson
Malcolm Pein & Dominic Lawson

Happy Birthday Bill !

IM William Hartston
IM William Hartston

On the “glorious twelfth” of August we celebrate the birthday of IM William Hartston.

From Wikipedia :

William Roland Hartston (born 12 August 1947) is an English journalist who writes the Beachcomber column in the Daily Express and a chess player who played competitively from 1962 to 1987 with a highest Elo rating of 2485.[1] He was awarded the title International Master in 1972, but is now best known as a chess author and presenter of the game on television.

Soft Pawn
Soft Pawn

At the 19th Chess Olympiad, held at Siegen 1970, he won the gold medal for best score on board 3 (78.1%).[2] He won the British Chess Championship in 1973 and 1975. In international competition, he had many fine performances, but failed by the closest possible margin to achieve the results required for the formal award of the title of International Grandmaster. During his time as a PhD student at Cambridge, Hartston became the first person to stack the pieces from an entire chess set on top of a single white rook.[3][4] He studied mathematics at Jesus College, Cambridge but did not complete his PhD on number theory as he spent too much time playing chess.[5]

William Hartston
William Hartston

Since the early 1970s, he has made many TV appearances for the BBC,[6][7] usually in the role of expert commentator and analyst on world title matches, including Fischer-Spassky ’72, Karpov-Korchnoi ’78, Kasparov-Short ’93 and Kasparov-Anand ’95. He twice won the BBC Master Game competition before taking over from Leonard Barden as its resident expert. During the 1980s he presented the BBC series Play Chess. In recent years he has diversified into a number of creative areas, running competitions in creative thinking for The Independent newspaper and the Mind Sports Olympiad. He writes the off-beat Beachcomber column for the Daily Express and has authored books on chess, mathematics, humour and trivia. He has also been a regular guest on the BBC Radio 4 and occasional TV programme, Puzzle Panel and appeared in Series 8 of The Museum of Curiosity also on Radio 4.[citation needed]

Aside from his chess and media-related activities, Hartston is a mathematician and industrial psychologist. He was educated at City of London School and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics. During the 1980s, he was recruited by Meredith Belbin, at the Industrial Training Research Unit in Cambridge, to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team researching the dynamics of team roles. While continuing to write the Beachcomber column and other features for the Daily Express, he has also been behind the launching of the wakkipedia.com Internet site of useless information. His latest publication is Even More Things That Nobody Knows (Atlantic Books), a further discussion of 501 unanswered questions ranging from science to history, including a good supply of typically quirky items.[8]

Hartston was the first of three British chess champions to be married to Woman Grandmaster Dr Jana Bellin (née Malypetrova). With his second wife, Elizabeth, he had two sons, James and Nicholas.

On 2 April 2013 it was reported that Hartston had “perfected” a formula for predicting the winner of the Grand National horse race, in a study commissioned by bookmaker William Hill.[9][10][11] The story of the winning formula has since been widely thought to be an April Fools joke that many have fallen for.[12]

In 2013 Hartston and his friend Josef Kollar became regular ‘viewers’ on the Channel 4 programme Gogglebox.[13]

The King's Indian Defence
The King’s Indian Defence

Remembering Sir George Alan Thomas

Sir George Alan Thomas
Sir George Alan Thomas

We remember Sir George Alan Thomas who died on July 23rd, 1972

From Wikipedia :

Thomas was British Chess Champion in 1923 and 1934. He shared first prize at the 1934/5 Hastings International Chess Congress with the next world chess champion Max Euwe and leading Czechoslovak player Salo Flohr, ahead of past and future world champions José Raúl Capablanca and Mikhail Botvinnik, whom he defeated in their individual games. For Capablanca, this had been the first loss in tournament play for four years, and the first playing the white pieces for more than six years. Also in Hastings, eleven years later, Euwe would become the third world chess champion to be defeated by Thomas in a game.[9]

His ‘lifetime’ scores against the world’s elite were however less flattering: he had minuses against Emanuel Lasker (−1, not counting a win in a Lasker simultaneous exhibition in 1896), Capablanca (+1−5=3), Alekhine (−7=6), Efim Bogoljubov (−5=3), Euwe (+1−9=2), Flohr (+2−9=4) and Savielly Tartakower (+3−9=10). He also fared badly against Edgard Colle (+1−9=8). Thomas made even scores with Botvinnik (+1−1), Richard Réti (+3−3=1) and Siegbert Tarrasch (+1−1=3). Against Géza Maróczy, the balance was in Thomas’ favour (+3−1=5).

Domestically, he held a plus score against his great rival Frederick Yates (+13−11=13), but was less successful against Women’s World Chess Champion Vera Menchik (+7−8=7),

In 1950 he was awarded the International Master title by FIDE and in 1952, became an International Arbiter. He gave up competitive chess at the age of 69.

Sir George Alan Thomas
Sir George Alan Thomas