Death Anniversary of FM Stephen H Berry (18-iii-1951)
Obituary from Andrew Stone
Death Anniversary of FM Stephen H Berry (18-iii-1951)
Obituary from Andrew Stone
BCN remembers Roland Scott who passed away in Monte Carlo on Saturday, January 10th, 1953.
Roland Henry Vaughan Scott was born in either Barnes or Holloway depending which Census record is correct. His parents were Walter Frederick Scott, a GP who was born in April 1960 and died in 1891 when Roland was three years of age.
His mother was Lucie Vaughan was born in 1855 and died in October 1933.
Roland had two sisters, Nina Vaughan Scott and Lucie / Lucia Audrey Scott (who died before her first birthday) and a brother Guy Francis D Scott who lived until 1977.
In 1891 Roland lived in Tottenham, in 1901 in Hampstead and in 1911 in St. Pancras where he was listed as a law clerk.
In 1917 The London Gazette lists him as a lieutenant in the Norfolk Regiment.
The 1920 electoral rolls for the Gospel Oak polling district lists Scott as voter #2006 living at 2, Estelle Road, North St. Pancras which is now in Belsize Park, NW3 2JX. At the same address was his sister Lucie and in 1921 they were joined by brother Guy.
In July 1922 in the district of Brighton Roland married Irma Clareboudt. No children from the marriage are recorded.
The 1939 register lists Scott as “War Disabled ? Officer Retired In War 1914” (invalided from army) and Irma as a saleswoman (born 25th July 1895) living at 42, Sherwell Lane, Paignton, Torquay, TQ2 6BD.
The April 1953 British Chess Magazine (Volume LXXIII, Number 4, page 101 onwards) contained this obituary from DJ Morgan:
It is with much regret that we record the death, on January 10th, at Monte Carlo, of R. H. V. Scott. He had long been out of active chess, but older readers will need no reminding of the 1920 British Champion, with his quiet manner but attacking chess; one who was composure itself at the table but aggressiveness personified on the board.
The son of a doctor, Scott was born in 1889. He was nineteen before taking to the game, but a ready aptitude combined with great enthusiasm led to rapid progress. He joined the Hampstead Club in 1908, and in his first tournament, the Third Class, came out first. ln the years that follow he pursued the game with much energy.
At the B.C.F. Congress, Glasgow, l9ll, he won the only section of the First Class. In 1913 and in 1914 he was Hampstead Club Champion. In 1913 he was tenth in the British Championship, at Cheltenham, and equal fifth to sixth at Chester in the following year, defeating Yates and drawing with Blackburne.
In 1915 he came second in the City of London Club Championship, but won that of the Metropolitan Club. During the same year he lost a short match with Sir G. A. Thomas 1-3. The war years, with a commission in the Norfolk Regiment, intervened, but chess filled his available moments.
In 1916 he defeated L. I. Estrin, a young Russian who was Hampstead Champion, 5-2 in a match. ln 1919 he lost a match with Winter at Hastings (2-4), and shared seventh to eighth positions with Dr. Olland (Holland) at the B.C.F. Hastings Victory Congress, with victories over Olland,
R. P. Michell, Marchand, and Conde. Then came the B.C.F. Edinburgh Congress of 1920, Scott became British Champion, losing only
to Sir G. A. Thomas.
In this year he also drew a match, 3-3, with Marchand, of Holland, also at Hastings. There followed three more appearances in the championship, Malvern, 1921 (equal fifth to sixth); Southsea,1923 (equal third to fourth); and Southport, 1924 (fourth). And with this Scott passed out of British chess. Ill health and failing eyesight, direct results of sufferings and injuries endured on active service during the war, began to take their toll. On medical advice he sought a warmer climate, and the Riviera henceforth became his home.
We find him sharing seventh to eighth positions at the Hyères Congress, in 1926, and coming equal fifth to sixth, with B. Reilly (our Editor’s first international tourney we believe), at Hyères, 1927.
The days of active play were over, but his great interest in the game remained. Scott was a natural attacking player, more likely, perhaps, to win the Brilliancy Prize than the First Prize.
We have given the bare outline of a career that was all too short, one cut down, in a sense before reaching full maturity. Contemporary records sometimes expressed the need for more stability in Scott’s chess, but they chronicle games of his that speak forcibly of the imaginative, refreshing, and invigorating qualities of his play. We offer an early game, the Brilliancy Prize winner, City of London C.C. Championship, 1913-14. White’s 20th move sets the game alight.
From British Chess Magazine, Volume XLI (1920), Number 10 (October), page 305 we have the following report of his exploits winning the 1920 British Championship in Edinburgh:
“We are glad to be able to present to our readers a photograph of the new champion, Mr. R.H.V Scott. He informs us that it is his most recent one, taken in 1917 when subaltern in the Norfolk Regiment. He saw service with the latter in France, and, as is probably know to most of our subscribers, was badly gassed, from the effects of which is now happily quite recovered.
His victory in the recent Congress in Edinburgh is welcome from at least two points of view; one, that he is one of our youngest first class players (ed: he was 32 at the time, a veteran by the standards of 2022!), having been born in 1889 (ed: this should have been 1888), and therefore may justifiably be expected to improve still further with experience and some curbing of his impatience in defence; and, two, that he claim to represent the more brilliant school of chess, that of Pillsbury, Marshall, Charousek, and Morphy, rather than the more solid school, of say, Steinitz and Rubinstein, who theory was the pilling up of small advantages.
Scott has an excellent “nose” for attack, and has some exceedingly “chessy” ideas. During the congress he put a much greater restraint on himself than is his wont, and we believe this to be the reason he so improved on his previous records.
He had what might be described as the worst of the draw, since he had Black against Sir George Thomas, EG Sergeant and RP Michell. Some writers have described him as lucky to win, but a study of his games and a comparison with those of others in the tourney go to prove that he played more far-sightedly than any of the others.
We are quite aware that the form of any player is variable, and we have seen Sir George Thomas play much better chess and much less strainedly than he did at Edinburgh. EG Sergeant was generally playing quite at his best, but once or twice his play deteriorated, perhaps as the result of a sleepless night, he then seemed bereft of ideas, and allowed the clock to beat him. This also was the case with Michell, who had many a rush to save his flag falling before the necessary moves were made. Now Scott almost invariably had time to spare.
Perhaps the worst reversal of form was that of JH Blake; but he had been working very hard and late for some time right up to the day the Congress commenced, and was not really in a fit state of health to take part.
He has won several brilliancy prizes in congress and club tourneys, and was the champion of the Hampstead Chess Club (where he may have been said to have learnt the game) in 1913 and 1914. He was first acquainted with the moves in 1908.
He is keen on all sports, and puts his whole energy into each line he may be taking. With yet more self-restraint we think his chess will still further improve, and we venture to prophesy this will not be the last British Chess Championship he will win.”
In his memoirs William Winter wrote this:
“I also had the opportunity of playing a number of semi-serious games with RHV Scott and D. Miller, two of the leading London amateurs. Scott was probably the most brilliant combinative played England has ever seen and had already won almost every honour except the British Championship, which fell to him in 1920.
Since those days I have played over hundreds of games, including the beautiful brilliancies of the modern Russian school, and Scott’s best combinations stand up quite well beside them. There were however weaknesses in his play which I shall discuss later. Miller was just the opposite type, a dour solid player exceptionally hard to beat. He is, I am glad to say, still with us, but Scott died a few years ago – he had been out of chess for a long time.”
“It is entirely legitimate, and can prove very useful until one comes up against an opponent like Capablanca who had no weaknesses of any kind. ln Scott’s case, one of his foibles was an aversion to exchanging queens, and I took full advantage of this in the first two games of the match both of which I won with comparative ease; but Scott was not finished yet.’ In the third game he tied me up in a variation of the Sicilian which I had not previously seen, and in the fourth I made the fatal mistake in going for an early win of material and allowing him a king’s side attack. Things now looked bad for me. I had the black pieces in the fifth game and I dared not play my favourite Sicilian defence because I could not discover a satisfactory answer to his new line.”
Strangely, none of the Encyclopaedia’s by Golombek, Sunnucks or Hooper & Whyld felt that RHVS merited an entry. However Gaige does not forget.
Here is an interesting article from “introuble2” entitled 100 years ago… chess in London during World War I in which Scott is mentioned.
Here is an excellent article from John Saunders
We remember William Ritson Morry who passed away on Saturday, January 8th, 1994.
(A point of detail : It is incorrect, but many do, to write WRM hyphenated. His first name was William, his middle name was Ritson and his surname was Morry. He chose to use his middle name and was known by his friends as Ritson. Maybe this was because he father was also William Morry?)
WRM was born in the Wirral on Monday, September 5th 1910 and his parents were William D Morry (born 16th July 1877). William was a sub-postmaster and seller of fancy goods. His mother was Norah Morry who undertook “unpaid domestic duties”.
In the 1939 register he is recorded as being a solicitor with his own practice and was living at 294 Walmley Road, Royal Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire with his parents : he was 29 years old.
In 1940 WRM married Nellie Cooper in Sutton Coldfield.
In 1943 WRM was mentioned in the London Gazette several times:
It would appear that this was the start of his first bankruptcy proceedings..
WRM was, by now, living at “Lyndon”, Coleshill Road, Sutton Coldfield, Warwickshire :
and in the same year on September 30th he was officially made bankrupt as recorded in the London Gazette, order number 195. This notice was repeated in the Edinburgh Gazette of the same year.
On the 8th of June 1944 he was recorded as being struck-off the list of solicitors under the Solicitors Acts of 1932 to 1941. It was determined that WRM had engaged in “fraudulent conversion of clients money”
For more on this see the excellent Chess in the Courts by Edward Winter.
In 1954 WRM sued BH Wood for libel over a letter BHW sent to Henry Golding of the Monmouthshire County Chess Association warning him of WRMs financial history. Here is a summary of the action :
In 1983 WRM was living at Flat 2, 53, Mayfield Road, Moseley, Birmingham, West Midlands and recorded as a Retired Chess Journalist. Elsewhere he was recorded as a freelance chess and cricket journalist.
and, unfortunately, in this year he made another appearance in the London Gazette (2nd September 1983) having been made bankrupt.
However, despite these unfortunate life events WRMs contribution to chess goes above and beyond them as he won the BCF President’s Award in 1984.
From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXIV (114, 1994), Number 2 (February), pp. 98 – 99 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty:
W Ritson Morry – a Tribute
That great chess character, known to everybody simply as Ritson, has left us in the fullness of years, coincidentally during the first Hastings Congress he missed for decades.
William Ritson Morry (5 ix 1910-8 i 1994) was a player, organiser, writer, arbiter and occasional sponsor of tournaments whose life touched so many aspects of chess that it is hard to know where to begin.
Ritson was educated in North Wales at the same school as BH Wood. Both were at Birmingham University at the same time, after which Ritson trained as a solicitor. As early as 1930 he founded the Birmingham Junior League, and a little later wrote a chess column for a time for a local newspaper, though Ritson is hardly the first person you think of as someone who would hit deadlines consistently. He was equal second in a rather unrepresentative British Championship of 1936 and equal third in 1951. An unfortunate incident in the mid-1940s led to him being struck off, whereupon he became a chess professional, who eked out a precarious living for the last 48 years of his life. Yet, I never heard him complain, for he was able to immerse himself in chess full time, and what could be better than that?
He ran a series of newsletters, which hardly covered their expenses and produced and British Championship and Hastings bulletins for many years. 1951 was a significant year in his life, for he gained the FIDE Arbiter title (he was always an expert on the rules and many of the conventions we all play to were codified by him, or under his guidance). Later on Ritson, a great raconteur, was the life and soul of the show in Hastings which, along with the Warwickshire chess team and Erdington CC, was the great love of his life.
At times he seemed to run Hastings almost single-handed in the Frank Rhoden era. In fact GM Vasyukov went back to Moscow in 1966 and wrote that Ritson Morry was the only controller to be seen in the morning, afternoon and evening sessions of play. I recall that Ritson was amused when I told him of this, but did not demur. To show that there was life in the old dog, he organised a series of Birmingham international tournaments in the 1970s at which Tony Miles got much of his early experience.
One such tournament was financed by him alone, on the basis of the sale of a piece of land in Sutton Coldfield where a change of planning status had led to a windfall profit.
He also saved Hastings in late 1974,by giving a partial guarantee when another sponsor reduced his contribution. A few years later the Inland Revenue made him bankrupt when they could not get their piece of the action out of the deal. Doubtless Ritson thought that the money had gone to a worthier cause. I must not fail to mention his love of gambling or his erudition. Many is the time when you could have an exposition from him of the law of England, the practice of the courts and the police, or the political news of the day.
He was deeply immersed in local Labour Party politics in Birmingham and was a friend of football referee, ‘rainmaker’ Dennis Howell, one-time Minister for Sport. Ritson also played a great deal of postal chess, winning the British title in 1943. His book on the game written in conjunction with a Birmingham schoolmaster Mel Mitchell is a very instructive one, and he also wrote many reports and amusing articles for BCM, particularly one on of the failings of the Elo rating system regulations.
Here is a game Ritson won against the veteran German GM at the London Easter congress of 1940:
Bernard wrote about WRM a year later for the centenary edition of the programme for the Hastings International Congress :
“‘Ritson’ as we all knew him was an institution in British Chess, active as a player, writer, organiser, drafter of rules and well-known for his skill as a raconteur, Educated in North Wales, he spent the rest of his life, from university days onwards, in Birmingham, but the Hastings Congress was very close to his heart. He played in a number of pre-war events, and also a few post-war, but by the time of the Frank Rhoden revival of the mid-1950s he was firmly in the saddle organising the post-Christmas traditional event. In fact I recall how perturbed Frank Rhoden was when the news came that Ritson might emigrate to the West Indies. It was not clear then how he could be replaced, for he supervised the morning, afternoon and evening sessions at the Sun Lounge (his favourite venue) and later at the Falaise Hall when the congress was still of such a size that we could all, including the Premier, be fitted into one room.
Ritson also did game commentaries for some years and produced a bulletin for at least three decades. He was greatly encouraging of younger talent and the objective historian has to recall the indignation he felt when players like Tony Miles and Nigel Short were not happy with the restraints imposed by financial stringency.
In his declining years Ritson was still a regular until his illness of late 1993, and a fixture at the “gate” where the public paid their entrance money at the Cinque Ports Hotel. The choice of word is deliberate as a visit to the dogs and the bookmaker was one of his rare pleasures outside chess. Best of all, however, one recalls him telling his fund of stories and reminisces to anyone who cared to listen. His voice, alas, has been stilled, and we are left to recall his selfless devotion to chess and, in particular, to the Hastings Congress.
Here is an obituary from the Midland Counties Chess Union
Here is a biography from the Midland Counties Chess Union newsletter from 1994.
From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :
Midlands organiser and player who was a chess professional and journalist. As a player his best performances were an =2nd in the British Championship 1936 and an = 3rd in 1951.
In the international field his best results have been an =3rd with List in the Major Open A section of the Nottingham congress of 1936 and =1st with Milner-Barry in the Premier Reserves A at the Hastings congress 1946/7. He has played for England in international matches against the Netherlands (thrice) and against Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.
A keen and accomplished correspondence player, he had the title of British Postal Master on account of his winning the British Correspondence Championship in 1943.
But it is as tournament and congress organiser that he is best known. He founded the Birmingham Junior League in 1930 and has organised thirty-four Birmingham congresses. He conceived the idea of a junior world championship and in 1951 he held the first World Junior Championship tournament at Birmingham (won by Borislav Ivkov). In the same year he was awarded the title of FIDE judge. He has also had much to do with the organisation of the Hastings Christmas chess congresses in the 1970s.
He has written much for British chess magazines and was the co-author along with the late W. R. Mitchell of Tackle Chess, London, 1967.
We remember Harry Golombek OBE who passed away on Saturday, January 7th, 1995.
Harry Golombek was born on Wednesday, March 1st, 1911 in Lambeth, London and his parents were Barnet (Berl) Golombek (Golabek) (1878-1943) and Emma Golombek (née Sendak) (1883-1967).
The Polish word Golabek translates to “small dove” in English.
Barnet was a “Dealer of gas fittings” and was 33 when Harry was born and Emma was 26. Both of his parents were born in Zambov which is in the Lomza Gubernia region of the Kingdom of Poland which existed from 1867 – 1917. Their nationalities are both recorded as Russian in the 1911 UK census. we don’t know (as yet) when Barnet and Emma settled in the UK.
Harry had a brother Abraham (born in 1906) and a sister Rosy born in 1908. The family lived in 200b, Railton Road, Herne Hill. Lambeth.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
and the paperback version :
Moreover, it took him about three whole days to assemble the documents and papers to enable him to fill in his income tax form.
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.
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.
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 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.
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… ”
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!”
“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.”
“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
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.
He reports chess tournaments for The Times, and edits The Times Weekly chess column.
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.”
“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.
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),
Réti’s Best Games of Chess (1954),
and A History of Chess (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.
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.
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. ”
His publications include : Capablanca’s 100 Best Games of Chess (1947); World Chess Championship 1948 (1949); Pocket Guide to the Chess Openings (1949);
Hastings Tournament 1948-1949 (1949);
Southsea Tournament 1949 (1949); Prague 1946 (1950);
Budapest 1952 (1952);
50 Great Games of Modern Chess (1952); Reti’s Best Games of Chess (1954); 22nd USSR Championship (1956);
World Chess Championship 1957 (1957); Modern Opening Chess Strategy (1959);
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)
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?)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is HGs win against his old friend PS Milner-Barry from Aberystwyth 1955 :
He represented England in six more Olympiads, Helsinki 1952, Amsterdam 1954, Moscow 1956, Munich 1958, Leipzig 1960 and Varna 1962.
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.
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.”
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.“
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.
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 :
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.
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.
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 :
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.
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.
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!
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
and The Young Chess Player (Faber) and organisation of girl’s chess, particularly the Faber Cup”
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.
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 finally a discussion of Elaine on the English Chess Forum.
We remember Brian Patrick Reilly who passed away on December 29th, 1991.
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.
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.
Winner of Irish championship in 1959 and 1960. General Editor of British Chess Magazine since 1949.”
His obituary in British Chess Magazine was written by Bernard Cafferty and appeared in Volume CXII (112, 1992), Number 2 (February), page 70:
“With great regret we have to report that Brian Patrick Reilly has, to use the older term, ‘joined the great majority’.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All this while, Brian was playing for Ireland in Olympiads, and attending to FIDE affairs as a FIDE delegate.
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.
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.
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. . .
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.”
From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101), Number 8 (August), pp 352 – 369 a conversation between B.P. Reilly and W.H. Cozens :
Here is his Wikipedia entry
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.
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.
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.”
2nd Honorable Mention
New Statesmen 1964 Tourney Award,
5th March 1965
BCN remembers William (Willy) Winter who passed away on Sunday, December 18th, 1955 from tuberculosis (at the time known as “the white plague”). He refused to enter a sanatorium.
There is some variation from sources who quote his Date of Birth. All have 11th of September as the date 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.
Late in 2021 historian Gerard Killoran (Ilkley) discovered this clipping from the Hampshire Advertiser – Wednesday 22 September 1897 p.2:
which confirms JTs evidence from the 1939 register.
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.
In the second quarter of 1933 William married Amelia Jennett (née Potter) in the district of Pancras. William knew Amelia as Molly and wrote about her extensively in his memoirs. Amelia was married to Dennis Jennett but Dennis had an affair with another woman and a convenient to all parties “arrangement” was entered into. However, Willy’s father was less than impressed.
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.
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
and reprinted in 1951, and Kings of Chess;
and was co-author with F. D. Yates of Modern Master Play,
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.
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.
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:
“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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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).
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 :
Postscript: Since our article was published we were contacted by Steve Giddins who informed us that he owned the copyright to the articles (rather than the publisher 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:
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.
And so, for your delectation, here are William Winter’s Memoirs.