Tag Archives: Deaths

Remembering Colin Russ (19-iii-1930 22-ix-2021)

BCN remembers Colin Russ who passed away on Wednesday, September 22nd 2021.

This news was revealed to the English Chess Forum by David Sedgwick as follows:

I have been notified by the British Chess Problem Society that Colin A H Russ died on Wednesday 22nd September 2021 at the age of 91. He had been in hospital for some weeks, with no hope of recovery.

Colin Albert Henry Russ was born on Wednesday, March 19th, 1930 in Croydon, Surrey. His father was Albert HW Russ (born November 1st, 1898) who was an instructor of woodworking crafts. His mother was Delcie A Russ (née Dye, born November 7th, 1901) who carried out unpaid domestic duties.

According to the 1939 register Colin was listed as a scholar and the family resided at 42, Poplar Road, Sutton, Surrey which is now SM3 9JX.

42, Poplar Road, Sutton, Surrey which is now SM3 9JX
42, Poplar Road, Sutton, Surrey which is now SM3 9JX

In 1972 Colin, aged 42, married Zsuzsanna Kelemen in Sittingbourne, Kent.

We have the following entry for Colin from chesscomposers.blogspot.com:

Colin Russ was a chess expert and edited a chess problem column in the CHESS magazine. He wrote the anthology “Miniature chess problems from Many Lands” in 1981 and it was republished several times, for instance in 1987 under the title “Miniature chess problems from Many Countries”.

Miniature Chess Problems From Many Countries, Colin Russ, A&C Black, London, 1987, ISBN 13: 9780047940248
Miniature Chess Problems From Many Countries, Colin Russ, A&C Black, London, 1987, ISBN 13: 9780047940248

John Ballard wrote the following of this book:

An unusual book in several respects. Firstly the positions are miniatures, that is 7 pieces or less. Secondly the solutions are in algebraic notation for the most part, with the main line being also given in descriptive. Lastly many of the ‘ usual suspects’ in the compostion field are not there, which meant for me learning new names and of course problems.

Familiar names here are Cheron, Dijk, Fleck, Havel, Kipping, Kubbel, Lipton, Loyd, Mansfield, Marble, Skinkman, Speckman, and Wurzburg. So that leaves dozens of composers (including one allegedly by Wojtyla, later to become Pope John Paul II), as a moderate solver I have never come across before, a special delight.

My favourite 3 mover is the one by Sam Loyd that starts with a check, and has a spectacular queen sacrifice. Sam reckoned this was a mere trifle, composed in a ride downtown, but it is a thing of beauty, and I bet many problemists wish they were as quick and adept at composing as The Puzzle King?! There is an interesting introduction to solving, not too heavy, but comprehensive enough. Many of the solutions are given with helpful comments.

The layout of the work is that 3 or 4 problems are given on the left page, and solutions are to be found opposite on the right. If the book is reprinted I would suggest the solutions be removed to an appendix, to remove the temptation for intermittent solvers like myself to take a sneak peak if a problem was proving intractable!

He served the British Chess Problem Society in various roles, as President from 1987 to 1989, Secretary from 1980 to 2001, and delegate to the PCCC from 1987 to 1994. He was also responsible for introducing the late Michael Ormandy to the Society, which led to the establishment of The Problemist Supplement.

The problem below was selected in the FIDE Album 1956-1958:

Die Schwalbe, 1957

7th HM

1.Bd7? (2.Re6-e~#)
1…Sg5[a] 2.Rgf6#[A]
1…Se5[b] 2.Ref6#[B]
but 1…Sd8!
1.f4! ZZ
1…Sg5[a] 2.Rxg5#[F]
1…Se5[b] 2.Rxe5#[G]
1…Be4[c] 2.Ref6#[B]
1…Rg4[d] 2.Rgf6#[A]
1…Rh4~ 2.g4#[D]
1…Sf7~ 2.Rg5#[F]/Re5#[G]
1…Rh3 2.Qxh3#
1…Bc1~ 2.Qxb1#[E]
1…Bc2, Bd3, Ba2 2.Bxc2, Qxd3, Bc2#/Qd3#

Colin was an accomplished over-the-board player and has 117 games recorded in MegaBase 2020 spanning from 1993 to June 2009. Most of these games arise from the Seefeld (Austria) Open and the Jersey Open in St. Helier.

In England Colin represented the Athenaeum club and remained active until 2015.

David Sedgwick went on to write:

Colin, always genial, amusing and engaging, was for decades a pillar of the BCPS and for many years its Secretary. He was a considerable composer of problems and he published a number of books on the subject.

As a player he was of good Club standard, BCF 160 -170 or thereabouts. He remained active until 2015, although his strength dropped off somewhat in the later years.

I got to know him at the Hastings International Chess Congress 1991 – 1992. One of the players in the Hastings Premier that year was the Russian GM Alexei Suetin, who spoke German but not English. I discovered that Colin spoke German well and he proved invaluable as a translator. (I learned only today that by profession he was a university lecturer in German.)

During that Hastings Premier we arranged to have a ceremonial first move made each day by a “name”. Colin was delighted to be chosen for this honour.

(With acknowledgments to Christopher Jones, who succeeded Colin as BCPS Secretary and remains in office.)

Subsequently a brief obituary appeared at https://www.englishchess.org.uk/rip-colin-russ/.

Elsewhere on the BCN Facebook group Henrik Mortensen wrote:

He was a great man. In the tournament in Oostende 1992 he beat me with Black in the first round (19th. September 1992). He was much lower rated than me, so … Later in the tournament my travelmate and I both had problems with our cards and he kindly offered to lend us money. Our problems were solved, but it was very kind of him to offer his help. HVIL I FRED.

His best win is probably this one:

but he will be best remembered for his contribution to the world of problems.

From the super MESON database we have these compositions from Colin

Remembering Dr. Julian Farrand QC (Hon) (13-viii-1935 17-vii-2020)

Prof. Julian Farrand at the King's Place Rapidplay, 2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Prof. Julian Farrand at the King’s Place Rapidplay, 2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN remembers Dr. Julian Farrand who passed on Friday, July 17th, 2020. He was 84 years of age.

Julian Thomas Farrand was born August 13th, 1935 in Doncaster in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Dr. Farrand QC(Hon), formerly the Insurance Ombudsman, became the Pensions Ombudsman, and he had been a Law Commissioner and a University Professor of Law at the University of Manchester where he was Dean of the faculty.

Most recently he lived in Morpeth, London, SW1.

Dr JULIAN FARRAND Pensions Ombudsman COMPULSORY CREDIT: UPPA/Photoshot Photo UKWT 011879/A-32a 31.07.1996
Dr JULIAN FARRAND Pensions Ombudsman COMPULSORY CREDIT: UPPA/Photoshot Photo UKWT 011879/A-32a 31.07.1996

His first recorded game in Megabase 2020 was white at the 1968 British Championships in Bristol against life-long friend CGM Keith Bevan Richardson. Together with Raymond Brunton Edwards, Julian and Keith were long-time trustees of the BCFs Permanent Invested Fund (PIF).

Julian played for Pimlico, Cavendish and Insurance in the London League and he maintained a standard play grading of 172A in 2020 as well as a FIDE rating of 1943 for standard play. He also played in the London Public Services League, the Central London League and the City Chess Association League. He made regular appearances in the Bronowski Trophy competition and the World Senior’s Team Tournament.

His (according to Megabase 2020) peak Elo rating was 2238 in April, 2004 aged 69. It is likely to have been higher than that if it was measured.

Julian joined Barbican following its merger with Perception Youth to become Barbican Youth in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

His favourite openings with white were : The Richter-Veresov Opening in later years and the English/Barcza Opening in earlier times.

With Black he enjoyed the Czech System and the Lenningrad Dutch.

His son, Tom, is a strong player and a successful barrister with expertise in Intellectual Property Rights, Trademarks and Copyright law.

His wife (married in 1992), Baroness Hale of Richmond, served as President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom from 2017 to 2020, and serves as a member of the House of Lords as a Lord Temporal.

Julian Farrand with Lady Hale at a Buckingham Palace reception. Photo : Press Association
Julian Farrand with Lady Hale at a Buckingham Palace reception. Photo : Press Association

Memorial messages have been posted on the English Chess Forum and many will, no doubt, follow. Included are older games from John Saunders not found in the online databases.

In 2015 Julian (together with fellow trustees Keith Richardson and Ray Edwards) received the ECF President’s Award for services to the Permanent Invested Fund.

Here is the citation from the 2015 award :

“Julian is best known as the first*-ever English ombudsman (in insurance). He is the husband of law lord Baroness Hale. I (SR) first met him at about the age of 12 year old when playing for my school. He is about four years older. Both Ray and Julian are members of the Book of the Year Committee and have been reviewing books for this purpose for many years. Both are quite strong chess players, indeed playing for England in the same team in the European 60+ Team Championship in Vienna 11-20 July 2015. Keith was to have been a member of the same team, but his wife’s ill-health forced him to withdraw.”

*On January 15th 2022 we received the following electronic email message from Heather Ridge, a legal assistant as follows:

Dear Sir
Julian Farrand was most certainly NOT the first Insurance Ombudsman. The late James Haswell OBE was appointed the first Insurance Ombudsman in 1981.

I know this as I had the privilege of being his first Senior Legal Assistant. Please correct this immediately.

Kind regards
Heather Ridge

Here is an obituary from The Times of London

Here is an obituary from Stewart Reuben

Prof. Julian T Farrand at the King's Place Rapidplay, 2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Prof. Julian T Farrand at the King’s Place Rapidplay, 2013, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Love All Risks by Julian Farrand
Love All Risks by Julian Farrand

Remembering Vera Menchik (16-ii-1906 27-vi-1944)

Miss Vera Menchik
Miss Vera Menchik
A Great Life with a Tragic Ending

Few people know the story of Vera Menchik yet it deserves to be told. She was the first women’s world chess champion in 1927 and retained the title undefeated until her untimely death at the age of 38 in 1944 during a rocket attack on London.  She is more properly compared with the great male players of her era against whom she scored creditably. The absence of a full biography of Vera in English reflects the peculiar circumstances of her life and death.

Vera was, in modern terminology, a refugee and essentially a stateless person for much of her life. She was born in Moscow in 1906 during the period of the Russian Empire to an expatriate family who was forced to flee when she was 15 following the Russian Revolution having lost their livelihood.  As they passed through Europe, her father and mother split up in his homeland Czechoslovakia which had been created out of the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian empire. She arrived in England and took up residence in the seaside town of Hastings. (The fact that Hastings had hosted the world’s longest series of annual chess tournaments since 1895 was a happy coincidence.) Vera never attained British nationality until near the end of her life even though she had been domiciled in England from 1921. She won the first-ever Women’s World Championships held in London in 1927 under a Russian flag; thereafter she nominally represented Czechoslovakia until finally she represented England in 1939 following her marriage to a senior official within the British Chess Federation.

Vera Menchik from Vera Menchik., EI Bykova, Moscow, 1957, 176 pages, 4s 7d.
Vera Menchik., EI Bykova, Moscow, 1957, 176 pages, 4s 7d.

Vera’s grandfather was Arthur Illingworth, a wealthy trader from Lancashire who had set up business in Moscow where his Anglo-Russian daughter Olga married František Menčik. He was a successful estate manager. Vera learned chess from her father and performed well at school. Her younger sister Olga was also a good chess player and the sisters remained close throughout their lives.

Vera was a woman in a man’s world – she had to struggle harder to achieve the kind of recognition which was accorded to men. She appeared like a comet in the sky and it would be many years until other women were able to reach her level. At her first major international tournament at Karlsbad in 1929, she was the only female participant in a tournament of 22 great players. Even as women’s world champion, some of the male players objected to her participation.  The Viennese master Albert Becker joked that anybody who lost to her should belong to the Vera Menchik Club. By an irony of history, he became its first member losing to her in the third round. She beat many other grandmasters during her career including the Dutchman Max Euwe in 1930 and 1931 (both at Hastings) who was to become world champion in 1935.

Although she is often portrayed as being Russian or Czech or latterly British, she was a true cosmopolitan. She knew that life could be unstable in any country. She had lived through the Russian Revolution; one parent was left behind in Czechoslovakia; she had moved westwards across Europe and embraced different cultures and languages at formative stages of her life. It is no wonder that she learned also to speak Esperanto which was designated to be the world’s lingua franca before English achieved its dominance. As a leading chess player, she travelled back to Moscow and to Czechoslovakia several times as well as to South America for her final match to retain the women’s world champion title in 1939. She needed to be self-sufficient and was obtained roles as the games editor of a chess magazine as well as being appointed the manager of the National Chess Centre in Oxford Street which was destroyed during the Blitz in 1940.

She survived most of the war and now a widow moved in with her mother and sister to a house in south London.  They took the precaution of going down to the cellar during bombing raids. Tragically the house received a direct hit from a flying bomb and the entire family was wiped out. Hardly any of her possessions remained save for one dented trophy. The records at the national chess centre were destroyed as were her personal effects including her chess memorabilia. At least there remains a record of the moves played in her games which serve as testimony to her remarkable career as not only the first women’s world chess champion but also a woman who broke boundaries wherever she went and demonstrated that a woman is capable of standing on her own feet professionally and leading a full and eventful life.

The Bomb Attack

BCN remembers that in the early morning of Tuesday, June 27th, 1944 (i.e. 77 years ago) Vera Menchik, her sister Olga, and their mother were killed in a V-1* flying bomb attack which destroyed their home at 47 Gauden Road in the Clapham area of South London.

We now know that the V1 in question landed at 00:20 hrs on the 27th and led to the death of a total of 11 people including the Menchik household. Here is a summary of recorded V1 and V2 landings in the Clapham, SW4 area.

(*The V-1 was an early cruise missile with a fairly crude guidance system.)

47, Gauden Road, Clapham, SW4 6LW in more modern times.
47, Gauden Road, Clapham, SW4 6LW in more modern times.

All three were cremated at the Streatham Park Crematorium on 4 July 1944. Vera was 38 years old.

Signature of Vera Menchik from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Margate 1936.
Signature of Vera Menchik from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Margate 1936.
Vera’s Parents and Sister

Vera Frantsevna Menchik (or Věra Menčíková) was born in Moscow on Friday, 16th February, 1906. Her father was František Menčik, was born in Bystrá nad JizerouBohemia. František and Olga were married on June  23rd 1905 in Moscow and notice of this marriage appeared in British newspapers on July 22nd 1905.  Vera’s sister was Olga Rubery (née Menchik) and she was born in Moscow in 1908. Olga Menchik married Clifford Glanville Rubery in 1938. Vera married Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson on October 19th 1937.

Her Maternal Roots

Our interest in unearthing her maternal English heritage / roots has led to the following:

Her mother was Olga (née Illingworth (1885 – 27 vi 1944). Olga’s  parents were Arthur Wellington Illingworth and Marie Illingworth (née ?). Arthur was born in October 1852 in the district of Salford, Lancashire, his parents were George Illingworth (1827-1887) and Alice Whewell (1828-1910). 

In the 1861 census Arthur is recorded as being of eight years of age and living in the Illingworth household.

In the 1871 census Arthur is recorded as being of eighteen years of age and living in the Illingworth household of nine persons at 5, Lancaster Road, Pendleton, Lancashire. Arthur’s occupation is listed as being a merchants apprentice. In fact, he was a stock and share broker.

Arthur died in Moscow on February 21st 1898. Probate was recorded in London on July 6th, 1900 as follows:

Illingworth Arthur Wellington of Moscow Russia merchant died 21st February 1898 Probate London 6th July to Walter Illingworth stock and share-broker Effects £4713 7s

£4713 7s in 1898 equates roughly to £626,600.00 in 2020 so it would appear that Arthur was considerably successful and almost certainly left money to Olga Illingworth.

What do we conclude from all of this? Quite simply that Vera’s maternal roots were from Salford in Lancashire.

BCM Announcement

The August 1944 British Chess Magazine (Volume LXIV, Number 8, page 173 onwards) contained this editorial  from Julius du Mont:

Julius du Mont, Editor of British Chess Magazine from 1940 to 1949
Julius du Mont, Editor of British Chess Magazine from 1940 to 1949

“British Chess has suffered a grievous and irreparable loss in the death by enemy action of Mrs. R.H.S. Stevenson known through all the world where chess is played as Vera Menchik.

We give elsewhere (below : Ed.) an appreciation of this remarkable woman. Quite apart from her unique gifts as a chess-player-the world may never see her equal again among women players-she had many qualities which endeared her to all who knew her, the greatest among them being here great-hearted generosity.

We sympathise with our contemporary “CHESS” : Vera Menchik was for some years their games editor. Few columns have been conducted with equal skill and efficiency and none, we feel sure, with a greater sense of responsibility.

The news of this remarkable tragedy will be received by the chess world with sorrow and with abhorrence of the wanton and useless robot methods of a robot people.

One shudders at the heritage of hatred which will be theirs, but their greatest punishment will come with their own enlightenment.”

BCM Contemporary Obituary from EGR Cordingley

From page 178 of the same issue we have an obituary written by EGR Cordingley :

“The death by enemy action of Miss Vera Menchik removes not only the greatest woman chess player of all times but a charming personality.

The world will remember her for her chess prowess, for her exceptional skill as a woman player who had beaten in tournament play such gifted players as Euwe, Sultan Khan, Sir George Thomas, Alexander and Yates. In such company, and she played in several of the Hastings International tournaments and other of similar grade, she usually obtained about 33%, though in the Maribor tournament of 1934 she finished third, behind Pirc and Steiner but ahead of Rejfir, Spielmann, Asztalos and Vidmar.

Her game was characterised by solid position-play, with the definite aim of bringing about a favourable end-game and of avoiding wild complications. The ordinary stratagems of the game, small combinations and the like, were of course part of her equipment, but she lacked that imaginative, inventive spirit without which few become really great players.

In recent times, Reshesvky and Flohr (as a professional with a reputation to maintain and a living to earn) have shown that great success can be achieved by reducing the game to pure positional play, the technique being firstly to build up a position devoid of weaknesses, an ‘I can’t lose position,’ and secondly to create and take advantage of the minutest weaknesses in the opponent’s camp, a major weakness may show that imagination is not quite dead within.

This defect in her play was the inevitable reflection of her character: sound common-sense, conscientious to an unusual degree, and persevering, while she had the combative, tenacious nature so desirable and so often found in good chess players; for chess is battle of wits, the fight is what most of use love in chess. Vera was, seldom assertive, a fault not uncommon in chess players. She sat placidly at the chess board, never causing even mild irritation by any of those nervous mannerisms that may always be seen in any chess room, the peripatetic fever being the most prominent. A slight flush would rise when the position grew difficult, or when she was short of time on her clock – and that was recurrent according to the time-limit.

Away from the chessboard show would readily talk of other subjects, and her great interest was in persons, in their actions and behaviour under the strain and stress of the unruly passions; in the moulding of their lives under the inscrutable dictates of chance; in the twists and turns of a mind warped perhaps by a casual incident long ago. Of course, she was a pagan, a thinking one, who had asked and asked and found only the answer that reasoning gave. She judged kindly and never inflicted upon others her own opinions or beliefs: she asked only that these should be heard as one side of any argument, for she enjoyed a dialectic bout.

A delightful side to her character was her simple sense of humour, and I remember so clearly her pleasure – glee would describe it more eloquently – when I gave her the punctuation necessary to make sense of that ludicrous collection of words, ‘Jones where Brown had had had had had had had had had had had the master’s approval’ Anyone who knew her only at the chessboard would have been astonished at the amount of bubbling merriment she discovered of of life’s events.

I shall remember her more for the woman as I knew her over many cups of coffee spread over many, many weeks – complacent, smiling, and kindly; conscientious, loyal, and sincere; as I understand the word, a Christian who would help any deserving person as best she could. E. G. R. C.

and here is the original article as printed:

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXIV (1944), Number 8, August, Page 178
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXIV (1944), Number 8, August, Page 178
BCM 1958 Appreciation by Peter Clarke

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXVIII (78, 1958), Number 7 (July), page 181 onwards) we have this retrospective from Peter Clarke:

“The night of June 27th,1944, Vera Menchik, World Woman Champion, was killed when an enemy bomb demolished her home in London; with her perished her mother and sister Olga. In these tragic circumstances the chess world lost its greatest woman player, still undefeated and at the height of her powers.

Vera Francevna Menchik was born in Moscow on February 16th, 1906, of an English mother and Czech father. There she spent her childhood, showing a love for literature, music, and, of course, chess, which at the age of nine she was taught by her father. She had a natural bent for the game and when only fourteen shared second and third places a schoolboys (!) tournament. The following year, 1921, the family came to England, where Miss Menchik lived the rest of her life.

As if by some fortunate coincidence, the Menchiks settled in Hastings, though it was not until the spring of 1923 that Vera joined the famous chess club. Her natural shyness and lack of knowledge of English caused this delay. However, they did not handicap her too much
as she herself afterwards wrote: ‘Chess is a quiet game and therefore the best hobby for a person who cannot speak the language.”

She studied the game eagerly, and very soon her talent caught the attention of the Hungarian grandmaster, Géza Maróczy, who was resident at Hastings at that time. Thus there began the most important period in her development as a player; a sound and mature understanding of positional play-and a thorough knowledge of a few special openings and defences: in particular the French Defence. The influence of
the grandmasters ideas was clearly apparent in her style throughout the whole of her career.

Miss Menchik’s rise to fame was meteoric: by 1925 she was undoubtedly the strongest player of her sex in the country, having twice defeated the Champion, E. Price, in short matches; and only two years later she won the first Women’s World Championship in London with the terrific score 10.5-0.5. She was just twenty-one, but already in a different class from any other woman in the world. For seventeen years until her death Vera Menchik reigned supreme in women’s chess, defending her world title successfully no less than seven times (including a match with Sonja Graf at Semmering in 1937, which Miss Menchik won 11.5-4.5. In the seven tournaments for the World Championship she played 83 games; winning 78, drawing 4, and losing 1 only! However, what was more remarkable was that she was accepted into the sphere of men’s chess as a master in her own right, a feat which no woman had done before or has done since. Up to then, women’s chess had been a very poor relation of the masculine game, but here was a woman who was a worthy opponent for the strongest masters.

Flohr wrote of her: ‘Vera Menchik was the first woman in the world who played chess strongly…who played like a man.’ It was as the ambassador extraordinary, so to speak, of the women’s game that Miss Menchik really made her greatest contribution to chess. Wherever she went, at home and abroad, she aroused great interest among her sex; others were eager to follow her, to identify themselves with her. Nowadays women’s chess is well organized, and much of the credit for this must go to Vera Menchik for first bringing it into the light. Among her many personal successes in international tournaments perhaps the greatest was at Ramsgate in 1929: as one of the foreign masters (she was still of Czech nationality) she shared second and third places with Rubinstein, * point behind Capablanca and above, among others, her tutor Maróczy.

Even the greatest masters recognized Miss Menchik’s ability; Alekhine himself, writing on the Carlsbad Tournament of 1929, said: ‘Vera Menchik is without doubt an exceptional phenomenon among women. She possesses great aptitude for the game…The chess
world must help her develop her talent!’

The Vera Menchik Club

An amusing incident occurred at this tournament. There were naturally sceptics among the masters over the lady’s participation. Flohr recalls how one of these, the Viennese master Becker, suggested:

‘Whoever loses to the Woman Champion will be accepted as a member of the Vera Menchik Club which I intend to organize.’

Becker was the first to lose to her, and that evening the masters chided him: “Professor Becker, you did not find it very difficult to join the club. You can be the Chairman.’ And forthwith he was chosen as Chairman for three years. Everyone wished that the new club would soon obtain more members! Indeed, the Vera Menchik Club has many famous names on its lists-Euwe, Reshevsky, Colle, Yates, Sultan Khan, Sir G. A. Thomas, Alexander, to mention a few.

In 1935 Miss Menchik returned to the country of her birth to take part in the great international tournament in Moscow. To be truthful, she had very little success, but she was everywhere treated with respect and sympathy by masters and spectators alike. The Soviet master l. Maiselis, writing in CHESS in 1944.(Shakhmaty za 1944 god), related the following entertaining anecdote from the tournament: One day a group of players and organizers were discussing the chances of Alekhine and Euwe in the forthcoming match. Flohr said: ‘It is quite clear that I will be World Champion.’ We looked at him inquiringly.

‘It’s very simple,” continued Flohr, ‘Euwe wins a match against Alekhine, Vera Menchik beats Euwe (at that time her score against Euwe was +2, =1, -1) and I will somehow beat Miss Menchik.’

We laughed at this good-natured joke, and we laughed all the more the next day when Flohr was unable, despite every effort, to defeat her in a vital game.

ln 1937 Miss Menchik married R. Stevenson, but in chess she continued to use her maiden name, made famous by so many victories. Her husband, a well-known organizer, became, Secretary of the B.C.F: in the following year and remained so until his death in 1943.

Since the days of Vera Menchik women’s chess has taken great strides forward; now there is a special committee of F.I.D.E. to look after its needs.- Only last year the first lnternational Women’s Team Tournament took place ln Emmen, Holland; the new World Champions, the U.S.S.R., became the first holders of the Vera Menchik Cup. So chess goes onwards, but the name of its first Queen will ever be remembered.”

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

“Woman World Champion from 1927 to 1944. Vera Menchik was born in Moscow on 16th February 1906 of an English mother and a Czech father. Her father taught her to play chess when she was 9.

Vera Menchik 1906-1944 chess playerin, CZ / GB portrait with chess board late twenties (Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images)
Vera Menchik 1906-1944 chess playerin, CZ / GB portrait with chess board late twenties (Photo by ullstein bild / ullstein bild via Getty Images)

In 192l her family came to England and settled in Hastings (at 13, St. John’s Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP) :

13, St. John's Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP
13, St. John’s Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea, TN37 6HP

Two years later, when she was 17, Vera joined Hastings Chess Club,

Hastings Chess Club : 2 Cornwallis Terrace, Hastings TN34 1EB
Hastings Chess Club : 2 Cornwallis Terrace, Hastings TN34 1EB

where she became a pupil of Geza Maroczy. The first Women’s World Championship was held in 1927. Vera Menchik won with a score of 10.5 out of 11. She defended her title successfully in Hamburg in 1930, in Prague in 1931, in Folkestone in 1933, in Warsaw in 1935, in Stockholm in 1937 and in Buenos Aires in 1939. She played 2 matches against Sonja Graf, her nearest rival, in 1934 when she won +3 -1 and in 1937, in a match for her title when she won +9 -1 =5.

Isaac Kashdan plays Vera Menchik during the Hastings Congress on December 28th, 1931. Kashdan won in 45 moves in a classical French.
Isaac Kashdan plays Vera Menchik during the Hastings Congress on December 28th, 1931. Kashdan won in 45 moves in a classical French.

The first woman ever to play in the British Championship and the first to play in a master tournament, Vera Menchik made her debut in master chess at Scarborough 1928 when she scored 50 per cent. The following year she played in Paris and Carlsbad, and it was at Carlsbad that the famous Menchik Club was formed. The invitation to Vera Menchik to compete among such players as Capablanca, Euwe, Tartakower and Nimzowitch was received with amusement by many of the masters. The Viennese master, Becker was particularly scornful, and in the presence of a number of the competitors he suggested that anyone who lost to Vera Menchik should be granted membership of the Menchik Club. He himself became the first member. Other famous players who later joined the club were Euwe, Reshevsky, Sultan Khan, Sir George Thomas, C. H. O’D. Alexander, Colle and Yates.

Her greatest success in international tournaments was at Ramsgate in 1929, when she was =2nd with Rubinstein, half a point behind Capablanca and ahead of Maroczy. In 1934 she was 3rd at Maribor, ahead of Spielmann and Vidmar. In 1942 she won a match against Mieses +4 -l -5. In 1937 Vera Menchik married R. H. S. Stevenson, who later became Hon. Secretary of the British Chess Federation. He died in 1943. She continued to use her maiden name when playing chess. On her marriage she became a British subject.

Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women's world championship held concurrently with the 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 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

From 1941 until her death she was Games Editor of CHESS. She also gave chess lessons and managed the National Chess Centre, which opened in 1939 at John Lewis’s in Oxford Street, London and was destroyed by a bomb in 1940.

In 1944 Vera Menchik was a solid positional player, who avoided complications and aimed at achieving a favourable endgame. Her placid temperament was ideal for tournament play. Her main weakness was possibly lack of imagination. Her results have made her the most successful woman player ever.”

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

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

Probably the strongest woman player in the history of the game, Vera Menchik was born in Moscow and, though her father was a Czechoslovak and her mother English, she played for most of her
life under English colours.

In l92l her family came to Hastings in England and there Vera became a pupil of the great Hungarian master, Geza Maroczy. This was to have a dominating influence on her style of play which was solidly classical, logical and technically most well equipped. Such a style enabled her to deal severely not only with her fellow women players but also with contemporary masters and budding masters. Vera did extremely well, for example, against C. H. O’D. Alexander
and P. S. Milner-Barry, but lost repeatedly to H. Golombek who was able to take advantage of her lack of imagination by the use of more modern methods.

Vera was soon predominent in women’s chess. In the first Women’s World Championship tournament, at London in 1927, she won the title with a score of 10.5 out of 11 and retained the championship with great ease at all the subsequent Olympiads (or International Team tournaments as they were then known more correctly) at Hamburg 1930, Prague 1931, Folkestone 1933, Warsaw 1935, Stockholm 1937 and Buenos Aires 1939.

Vera Menchik at Margate 1935, photographer unknown
Vera Menchik at Margate 1935, photographer unknown

With Sonja Graf, the player who came nearest to her in strength among her female contemporaries, she played two matches and demonstrated her undoubted superiority by beating her in 1934 (+3-l) and again in a match for the title in l937 (+9-l=5).

In 1937 Vera officially became a British citizen by marrying the then Kent and later B.C.F. Secretary, R. H. S. Stevenson (Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson: ed).
(Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson was home news editor of the British Chess Magazine, secretary of the Southern Counties Chess Union and match captain of the Kent County Chess Association).

Oddly enough, Sonja Graf, many years later, also became a Mrs Stevenson by marrying an American of that name some years after the Second World War.

Vera Menchik also played and held her own in men’s tournaments. She did well in the British championship and her best performance in international chess was =2nd with Rubinstein in the Ramsgate Team Practice tournament ahead of her old teacher, Maroczy. She also had an excellent result at Maribor in 1934 where she came 3rd, ahead of Spielmann and Vidmar.

Her husband died in 1943 and Vera herself, together with her younger sister Olga and her mother, was killed by a V1 bomb that descended on the Stevenson home in London in 1944.

Vera Menchik, circa 1935, Historic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo
Vera Menchik, circa 1935, Historic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo

This was a sad and premature loss, not only for British but for world chess, since there is no doubt she would have continued to dominate the female scene for many years.

As a person Vera was a delightful companion, jolly and full of fun and understanding. As a player she was not only strong but also absolutely correct and without any prima donna behaviour. Generous in defeat and modest in victory, she set a great example to all her contemporaries.

An example of Vera’s attacking play at its best against her nearest rival, Sonja Graf, is shown by the following game which was played in her 1937 match at Semmering in Austria :

27th November 1936: Britain's world chess champion Vera Menchik (right) and challenger Sonja Graf after signing a contract at the Bloomsbury Hotel, London, to play for the championship of the world over 16 games. (Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
27th November 1936: Britain’s world chess champion Vera Menchik (right) and challenger Sonja Graf after signing a contract at the Bloomsbury Hotel, London, to play for the championship of the world over 16 games. (Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess, (Oxford University Press, 1984) by Hooper and Whyld :

“Woman World Champion from 1927 until her death. Daughter of a Czech father and an English mother, Menchik was born in Moscow, learned chess when she was nine, settled in England around
1921, and took lessons from Maroczy a year or so later. In 1927 FIDE organized both the first Olympiad and the first world championship tournament for women. These events were run concurrently, except in 1928, until the Second World War began, and Menchik won the women’s tournament every time; London 1927 (+10=1); Hamburg 1930 (+6=1 — 1); Prague 1931 (+8);
Folkestone 1933 ( + 14); Warsaw 1935 (+9); Stockholm 1937 (+14); and Buenos Aires 1939 ( + 17=2). She played in her first championship tournament as a Russian, the next five as a Czech,
and the last as a Briton. She also won on two matches against her chief rival, the German-born Sonja Graf (c. 1912-65): Rotterdam, 1934 (+3-1), and Semmering, 1937 (+9=5—2),

Vera Menchik in a pre-event posed picture in which she faces unstoppable checkmate in one from Hastings 193? She was about to play Sir GA Thomas.
Vera Menchik in a pre-event posed picture in which she faces unstoppable checkmate in one from Hastings 193? She was about to play Sir GA Thomas.

In international tournaments which did not exclude men Menchik made little impression; one of her best results was at Maribor 1934 (about category 4) when she took third place alter Pirc and L. Steiner ahead of Spielmann. In 1937 she married the English chess organizer Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson (1878-1943), A chess professional, she gave lessons, lectures, and displays, and was appointed manager of the short-lived National Chess Centre in 1939. In 1942 she defeated Mieses in match play (+4=5-1), She, her younger sister Olga (also a player), and their mother were killed in a bombing raid.

From left to right: Vera Menchik, Alexander Alekhine, Géza Maróczy and Sultan Khan. From London International Masters, 1st February, 1932, French Defence, drawn in 32 moves.
From left to right: Vera Menchik, Alexander Alekhine, Géza Maróczy and Sultan Khan. From London International Masters, 1st February, 1932, French Defence, drawn in 32 moves.

Her style was positional and she had a sound understanding of the endgame. On occasion she defeated in tournament play some of the greatest masters, notably Euwe, Reshevsky, and Sultan Khan. Men she defeated were said to belong to the Menchik club. When world team championships for women (women’s chess Olympiads) were commenced in 1957 the trophy for the winning team was called the Vera Menchik Cup.”

BCM 1994 Appreciation by Bernard Cafferty

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXIV (114, 1994), Number 8 (August), page 424 onwards) we have this retrospective from Bernard Cafferty:

Fifty yezus ago the chess world was tragically robbed of its most talented female representative of the first half of this century. A Vl rocket (ed: The V1 was not a rocket but a flying bomb) fell on a house in Gauden Road, Clapham, London, that was the residence of Russian-born Vera Menchik, her younger sister and their mother. The trio were sheltering in the cellar, as they usually did during the Nazi air raids on London. The house was completely destroyed. The air-raid shelter in the garden was all that was left.

Vera Menchik was born in Moscow on 16 February 1906, and died on 26 June 1944. The date of death is usually given as 27 June, but Ken Whyld has seen the death certificate and tells us the tragedy occurred before midnight, not after.

The young Vera grew up in a cosmopolitan family in Moscow, where her Czech father and English mother lived in a six-room flat, which they had to share, after 1917, with families from ‘the lower depths’ (the name of a famous play by Gorky which could also be translated as ‘on Skid Row’). In autumn 1921 the family left Soviet Russia and came
to England where they lived in Hastings.

Botvinnik recalls that he visited the Menchik household in Hastings in 1935, where he met Vera’s grandmother. Then, in 1936, he visited the other house in London, after the Nottingham 1936 tournament. At that time the Soviet Embassy arranged a reception in an attempt to counter the awful image of a country deep in the throes of the show trials and widespread repression. However, only Botvinnik, Menchik, Capablanca and Lasker turned up.

Vera Menchik was taught the moves of chess by her father, Franz, when she was nine years old. However, she only took the game seriously from the age of 17, when she joined the Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club, which at that time had its famous extensive sea-front premises near the pier.

According to the 1957 book in Russian by Bykova, on which this account is largely based, Vera only knew Russian when she cam to England, and one of the reasons for her to join the chess club was that a fluent knowledge of English was not necessary for her to be able to benefit from such a silent activity as chess.

The young Vera was fortunate in that the Hungarian grandmaster, Géza Maróczy, had a professional engagement with the Hastings club at this time, and the young lady became his most famous pupil. Her sound style with no fear of long endgames was a mirror of her mentor. She was also helped by Professor JAJ Drewitt, another Hastings club member, in the study of openings, particularly the closed openings.

Vera was initially counted as a Russian and did not enter the British Women’s Championship at the traditional August BCF Congress. However, she made her debut in international chess at a lower section of the 1923-24 Hastings Congress. In 1925 she beat the leading English player Edith Price by a score of +5 =2 -3 in two private matches. She duly took part in the Hastings Congresses, year after year. In the 1926-27 event she scored her first big success by sharing first place with the young Milner-Barry on 6.5(9) in the Premier Reserves.

By 1927, VM was ready to enter the first Women’s World Championship, which was played at the 4th FIDE Congress, alongside the Olympiad in London. She conceded only one draw in her eleven games and so took the title which she was to retain with ease from that day, when she was just 21, till her death 17 years later. In her first title attempt, she
was counted as a Russian, but at the next five (at the Hamburg 1930, Prague 1931,
Folkestone 1933, Warsaw 1935 and Stockholm 1937 Olympiads) she played as a representative of Czechoslovakia. It was only after her marriage to the prominent English organiser R. H. S. Stevenson in 1937 that she was counted as British and played under the Union Flag in her last title defence at Buenos Aires 1939.

Her dominance can be gauged from the fact that she won all eight games at Prague, all 14 at Folkestone, all 9 at Warsaw, all 14 at Stockholm and conceded just two draws in 19 games in 1939. The most serious challenge came in a title match at Semmering-Baden with Sonja Graf, then of Germany. Here too it was largely one-sided: +9 =5 -2.

She made her debut against male masters in an international tournament at Scarborough in 1928, finishing equal 7-8 in a field of 10, but in only the following year, at the Kent Easter Congress, she had one of her best results.

It was decided to run a Scheveningen tournament at Ramsgate with seven foreign masters pitted against seven home representatives. As was only to be expected, Capablanca came top of the ‘external examiners’, yet the next placing was a sensation: Capablanca 5.5(7) followed by Miss Menchik and Rubinstein 5, Koltanowski and Maroczy 4.5, Soultanbeieff 4 and Znosko-Borovsky 3. Sir George Thomas, whom Menchik beat, scored 3 to head the English team of Yates, Winter, Michel, Tylor and E. G. Sergeant.

Naturally enough, after this it was inevitable that foreign invitations should follow. Later in 1929 the young ‘Russian’ took part in a Paris tournament and then in the great Carlsbad tournament, the last of a wonderful series. Her presence here created some scepticism, and on the eve of the first round the Austrian theoretician Becker suggested that a Vera Menchik club be formed, membership of which would be granted only to those who lost to the lady. According to Flohr, there was an expectation that it would be a small select club, but Becker was quickly proved wrong for he became its first member in the third round! His only consolation was that the club proved far more extensive and democratic as the years rolled by. In fact the club came to include grandmasters such as Euwe (who earned a two-fold qualification) Sultan Khan and Reshevsky as well as masters such as Saemisch, Colle, Golombek, Sir George Thomas, Alexander…

However, Miss Menchik could not make much of the universally strong opposition and made only three points out of 20, finishing last, three points behind Sir George Thomas. With further experience she was to have more impressive results, such as her 8th place at London 1932, won by Alekhine, where she came ahead of Milner-Barry, Sir George, Burger and Winter.

A high spot of the 1930s for Vera was her participation in the 1935 Moscow tournament, but her return to her native city was so taken up with social engagements that she was unable to give of her best, and she scored only one and a half points from 19 games though she did take a draw off the winner of second prize, Flohr.

Vera had to eke out a living from teaching chess, adjudications and simultaneous exhibitions. After her return from Buenos Aires she lived in London. She was appointed administrator of the new National Chess Centre at John Lewis’s store in Oxford Street, which, alas, was destroyed by enemy action in 1940.

Her last great success was a match with the veteran GM, Jacques Mieses who was a refugee from anti-Semitic German. Played in 1942, the result was +4 =5 -1.

In 1943 Vera’s husband died. In 1944 she was playing in the championship of the West London Club, a strong event which included Sir George Thomas, PM List, EG Sergeant and Mieses amongst the players. Doubtless she was looking forward to the resumption of International chess activity after the war. It was not to be. We live in an age when the achievements of women players such as Gaprindashvili, Chirburdanidze, Xie Jun and the Polgar sisters have built on the pioneer work of Vera Menchik. Yet the path of the pioneer is always the hardest.

Finally, by all accounts of contemporaries, Vera was a cultured and sympathetic person who never gave cause for offence amongst the many players she met. Had she lived, she would have continued to be a jewel in the crown of British chess, which had to drag itself up from the boot straps after the devastation of war. What a tragic loss.

Vera Menchik commemorated on a postage stamp from the Czech Republic
Vera Menchik commemorated on a postage stamp from the Czech Republic

She was inducted to the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2011.

Other Articles

Here is an excellent article from the Hastings and St. Leonard’s Club written by Brian Denman.

Here is an excellent article from Neil Blackburn (aka SimaginFan) on chess.com

Here is an excellent article by Albert Whitwood

Here is her Wikipedia  entry.

Here is an excellent record compiled by Bill Wall.

Biography of Vera Menchik British chess player

Vera Menchik., EI Bykova, Moscow, 1957, 176 pages, 4s 7d.
Vera Menchik., EI Bykova, Moscow, 1957, 176 pages, 4s 7d.
Vera Menchik: A Biography of the First Women's World Chess Champion, with 350 Complete Games
Vera Menchik: A Biography of the First Women’s World Chess Champion, with 350 Complete Games

Edward Winter was less than impressed with the above book.

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

Remembering Nancy Elder MBE (25-v-1915 04-iii-1981)

Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic
Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic

BCN remembers Nancy Elder MBE who passed away on Wednesday, March 4th 1981, i.e. forty years ago in Perth, Western Australia.

Nancy Conchar Gordon was born on Tuesday, May 25th 1915. On the same date was born Robin Day in High Wycombe who went on  to design the polypropylene stacking chair.

Nancy was born in Kirmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland.

In the 1939 register Nancy was living at 18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston, Manchester, M41 5DJ with a married couple, William Furnish (a railway time keeper) and Gertrude Furnish who performed unpaid domestic duties. Presumably Nancy was their lodger.

18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston, Manchester, M41 5DJ
18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston, Manchester, M41 5DJ

Her occupation was given as a teacher of music and physical training. At this time she was single at the age of twenty-four.

In the mid-1940s Nancy relocated from Manchester to Dundee where she continued her teaching career at Dundee High School. During that time she encouraged and coached a number of players some of whom represented Scotland.

In 1950 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland Nancy married David Livie Elder. They had a daughter Christine who played chess as a junior. Tealing has a strong connection with the Elder family.

According to Alan McGowan (Chess Scotland): “She was the main instigator in forming both the Schools’ and Primary League in Dundee, and she assisted in the organisation of the Dundee 1967 International Centenary Tournament.”

When she passed away Nancy was living at 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ :

39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ
39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ

Her passing was reported in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser  on March 6th 1981 as follows :

Nancy Elder dies after heart attack on flight

Mrs Nancy Elder 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, a former music teacher at Dundee High School and one of Scotland’s best known chess players, has died after taking ill on a flight to Australia.

She was off for a long holiday which she planned to spend with relatives and friends from the world of international chess, but, after suffering a heart attack on a plane from Singapore, had been in intensive care in Perth, Western Australia.

Her daughter Christine, a primary school teacher in Tighnabruaich, received daily telephone reports on her mother’s condition from a cousin and, at the weekend, heard that she was improving gradually.

The shock news of her mother’s death came late on Wednesday night.

Mrs. Elder, who went into semi-retirement recently, has been to the fore in chess for about 35 years at local, national and international levels.

Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic
Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic

She has represented her country five times, having taken part in the chess Olympiad in Yugoslavia in 1963 and 1973, in Israel in 1976, in Buenos Aires in 1978 and in Malta last year.

Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She turned down the chance to take part on three other occasions.

Haifa Olympiad 1976 - Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Haifa Olympiad 1976 – Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She was awarded the MBE for her services to chess in 1974.

She was President of Dundee Chess Club, chairman of the congress committee of the Scottish Chess Association and on the council of the Scottish Junior Chess Association.

Self-taught

She started playing chess during her school days with her brother and the two of them were more-or-less self taught.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that she received any sort of coaching, by which time she had established her own style.

She retired on April 14th last year after 24 years in the music department of Dundee High School, where she specialised in teaching the oboe.

She continued to teach privately.

Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 6 (June), pp. 219-220 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :

“Nancy C. Elder, MBE, died in Perth, Western Australia on March 4th 1981. Mrs. Elder had recently retired after a lifetime of teaching, her last post being in Dundee. I well remember her account of teaching under difficult conditions in World War 2 in Manchester. 15 Scottish Women’s Champion (the record for the event which she set-up at Troon in 1980).

Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

Mrs Elder was a regular competitor in the British Women’s Championship (sometimes in rivalry with her daughter Christine) and showed her playing strength with a score of 5.5/12 on board two for Scotland at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, Malta, 1980.

Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

I am sure she will be best remembered though for her decades of effort in the organising of chess in Scotland, particularly for juniors and in schools, in recognition of which she was awarded the MBE, the only such honour ever given for services to chess ‘north of the border’ as Alan Borwell puts it in his Newsflash obituary.”

Chess Scotland award the Nancy Elder Cup annually for an individual competition for “club level” players.

We are grateful to Helen Milligan who told BCN :

My most memorable incident was when I refused to play in the Scottish Ladies at the annual Congress, preferring to try to improve my chess by playing in the Open section (really the B-Grade, below the Championship proper). I got given a piece of Nancy’s mind for that – she did not approve!

Here are her playing records from the Olympiads.

Here is a potted biography from Chess Scotland.

Death Anniversary of Nancy Elder MBE (25-v-1915 04-iii-1981)

BCN remembers Nancy Elder MBE who passed away on Wednesday, March 4th 1981, i.e, forty years ago in Perth, Western Australia.

Nancy Conchar Gordon was born on Tuesday, May 25th 1915. On the same date was born Robin Day in High Wycombe who went on  to design the polypropylene stacking chair.

Nancy was born in Kirmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland.

In the 1939 register Nancy was living at 18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ with a married couple, William Furnish (a railway time keeper) and Gertrude Furnish who performed unpaid domestic duties. Presumably Nancy was a lodger.

18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ
18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ

Her occupation was given as a teacher of music and physical training. At this time she was single at the age of twenty-four.

In the mid-1940s Nancy relocated from Manchester to Dundee where she continued her teaching career at Dundee High School. During that time she encouraged and coached a number of players some of whom represented Scotland.

In 1950 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland Nancy married David Livie Elder. They had a daughter Christine who played chess as a junior. Tealing has a strong connection with the Elder family.

According to Alan McGowan (Chess Scotland): “She was the main instigator in forming both the Schools’ and Primary League in Dundee, and she assisted in the organisation of the Dundee 1967 International Centenary Tournament.”

When she passed away Nancy was living at 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ :

39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ
39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ

Her passing was reported in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser  on March 6th 1981 as follows :

Nancy Elder dies after heart attack on flight

Mrs Nancy Elder 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, a former music teacher at Dundee High School and one of Scotland’s best known chess players, has died after taking ill on a flight to Australia.

She was off for a long holiday which she planned to spend with relatives and friends from the world of international chess, but, after suffering a heart attack on a plane from Singapore, had been in intensive care in Perth, Western Australia.

Her daughter Christine, a primary school teacher in Tighnabruaich, received daily telephone reports on her mother’s condition from a cousin and, at the weekend, heard that she was improving gradually.

The shock news of her mother’s death came late on Wednesday night.

Mrs. Elder, who went into semi-retirement recently, has been to the fore in chess for about 35 years at local, national and international levels.

Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic
Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic

She has represented her country five times, having taken part in the chess Olympiad in Yugoslavia in 1963 and 1973, in Israel in 1976, in Buenos Aires in 1978 and in Malta last year.

Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She turned down the chance to take part on three other occasions.

Haifa Olympiad 1976 - Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Haifa Olympiad 1976 – Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She was awarded the MBE for her services to chess in 1974.

She was President of Dundee Chess Club, chairman of the congress committee of the Scottish Chess Association and on the council of the Scottish Junior Chess Association.

Self-taught

She started playing chess during her school days with her brother and the two of them were more-or-less self taught.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that she received any sort of coaching, by which time she had established her own style.

She retired on April 14th last year after 24 years in the music department of Dundee High School, where she specialised in teaching the oboe.

She continued to teach privately.

Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 6 (June), pp. 219-220 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :

“Nancy C. Elder, MBE, died in Perth, Western Australia on March 4th 1981. Mrs. Elder had recently retired after a lifetime of teaching, her last post being in Dundee. I well remember her account of teaching under difficult conditions in World War 2 in Manchester. 15 Scottish Women’s Champion (the record for the event which she set-up at Troon in 1980).

Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

Mrs Elder was a regular competitor in the British Women’s Championship (sometimes in rivalry with her daughter Christine) and showed her playing strength with a score of 5.5/12 on board two for Scotland at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, Malta, 1980.

Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

I am sure she will be best remembered though for her decades of effort in the organising of chess in Scotland, particularly for juniors and in schools, in recognition of which she was awarded the MBE, the only such honour ever given for services to chess ‘north of the border’ as Alan Borwell puts it in his Newsflash obituary.”

Chess Scotland award the Nancy Elder Cup annually for an individual competition for “club level” players.

We are grateful to Helen Milligan who told BCN :

My most memorable incident was when I refused to play in the Scottish Ladies at the annual Congress, preferring to try to improve my chess by playing in the Open section (really the B-Grade, below the Championship proper). I got given a piece of Nancy’s mind for that – she did not approve!

Here are her playing records from the Olympiads.

Here is a potted biography from Chess Scotland.

Death Anniversary of Nancy Elder MBE (25-v-1915 04-iii-1981)

BCN remembers Nancy Elder MBE who passed away on Wednesday, March 4th 1981, i.e, forty years ago in Perth, Western Australia.

Nancy Conchar Gordon was born on Tuesday, May 25th 1915. On the same date was born Robin Day in High Wycombe who went on  to design the polypropylene stacking chair.

Nancy was born in Kirmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland.

In the 1939 register Nancy was living at 18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ with a married couple, William Furnish (a railway time keeper) and Gertrude Furnish who performed unpaid domestic duties. Presumably Nancy was a lodger.

18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ
18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ

Her occupation was given as a teacher of music and physical training. At this time she was single at the age of twenty-four.

In the mid-1940s Nancy relocated from Manchester to Dundee where she continued her teaching career at Dundee High School. During that time she encouraged and coached a number of players some of whom represented Scotland.

In 1950 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland Nancy married David Livie Elder. They had a daughter Christine who played chess as a junior. Tealing has a strong connection with the Elder family.

According to Alan McGowan (Chess Scotland): “She was the main instigator in forming both the Schools’ and Primary League in Dundee, and she assisted in the organisation of the Dundee 1967 International Centenary Tournament.”

When she passed away Nancy was living at 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ :

39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ
39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ

Her passing was reported in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser  on March 6th 1981 as follows :

Nancy Elder dies after heart attack on flight

Mrs Nancy Elder 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, a former music teacher at Dundee High School and one of Scotland’s best known chess players, has died after taking ill on a flight to Australia.

She was off for a long holiday which she planned to spend with relatives and friends from the world of international chess, but, after suffering a heart attack on a plane from Singapore, had been in intensive care in Perth, Western Australia.

Her daughter Christine, a primary school teacher in Tighnabruaich, received daily telephone reports on her mother’s condition from a cousin and, at the weekend, heard that she was improving gradually.

The shock news of her mother’s death came late on Wednesday night.

Mrs. Elder, who went into semi-retirement recently, has been to the fore in chess for about 35 years at local, national and international levels.

Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic
Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic

She has represented her country five times, having taken part in the chess Olympiad in Yugoslavia in 1963 and 1973, in Israel in 1976, in Buenos Aires in 1978 and in Malta last year.

Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She turned down the chance to take part on three other occasions.

Haifa Olympiad 1976 - Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Haifa Olympiad 1976 – Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She was awarded the MBE for her services to chess in 1974.

She was President of Dundee Chess Club, chairman of the congress committee of the Scottish Chess Association and on the council of the Scottish Junior Chess Association.

Self-taught

She started playing chess during her school days with her brother and the two of them were more-or-less self taught.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that she received any sort of coaching, by which time she had established her own style.

She retired on April 14th last year after 24 years in the music department of Dundee High School, where she specialised in teaching the oboe.

She continued to teach privately.

Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 6 (June), pp. 219-220 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :

“Nancy C. Elder, MBE, died in Perth, Western Australia on March 4th 1981. Mrs. Elder had recently retired after a lifetime of teaching, her last post being in Dundee. I well remember her account of teaching under difficult conditions in World War 2 in Manchester. 15 Scottish Women’s Champion (the record for the event which she set-up at Troon in 1980).

Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

Mrs Elder was a regular competitor in the British Women’s Championship (sometimes in rivalry with her daughter Christine) and showed her playing strength with a score of 5.5/12 on board two for Scotland at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, Malta, 1980.

Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

I am sure she will be best remembered though for her decades of effort in the organising of chess in Scotland, particularly for juniors and in schools, in recognition of which she was awarded the MBE, the only such honour ever given for services to chess ‘north of the border’ as Alan Borwell puts it in his Newsflash obituary.”

Chess Scotland award the Nancy Elder Cup annually for an individual competition for “club level” players.

We are grateful to Helen Milligan who told BCN :

My most memorable incident was when I refused to play in the Scottish Ladies at the annual Congress, preferring to try to improve my chess by playing in the Open section (really the B-Grade, below the Championship proper). I got given a piece of Nancy’s mind for that – she did not approve!

Here are her playing records from the Olympiads.

Here is a potted biography from Chess Scotland.

Death Anniversary of Nancy Elder MBE (25-v-1915 04-iii-1981)

BCN remembers Nancy Elder MBE who passed away on Wednesday, March 4th 1981, i.e, forty years ago in Perth, Western Australia.

Nancy Conchar Gordon was born on Tuesday, May 25th 1915. On the same date was born Robin Day in High Wycombe who went on  to design the polypropylene stacking chair.

Nancy was born in Kirmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland.

In the 1939 register Nancy was living at 18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ with a married couple, William Furnish (a railway time keeper) and Gertrude Furnish who performed unpaid domestic duties. Presumably Nancy was a lodger.

18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ
18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ

Her occupation was given as a teacher of music and physical training. At this time she was single at the age of twenty-four.

In the mid-1940s Nancy relocated from Manchester to Dundee where she continued her teaching career at Dundee High School. During that time she encouraged and coached a number of players some of whom represented Scotland.

In 1950 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland Nancy married David Livie Elder. They had a daughter Christine who played chess as a junior. Tealing has a strong connection with the Elder family.

According to Alan McGowan (Chess Scotland): “She was the main instigator in forming both the Schools’ and Primary League in Dundee, and she assisted in the organisation of the Dundee 1967 International Centenary Tournament.”

When she passed away Nancy was living at 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ :

39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ
39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ

Her passing was reported in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser  on March 6th 1981 as follows :

Nancy Elder dies after heart attack on flight

Mrs Nancy Elder 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, a former music teacher at Dundee High School and one of Scotland’s best known chess players, has died after taking ill on a flight to Australia.

She was off for a long holiday which she planned to spend with relatives and friends from the world of international chess, but, after suffering a heart attack on a plane from Singapore, had been in intensive care in Perth, Western Australia.

Her daughter Christine, a primary school teacher in Tighnabruaich, received daily telephone reports on her mother’s condition from a cousin and, at the weekend, heard that she was improving gradually.

The shock news of her mother’s death came late on Wednesday night.

Mrs. Elder, who went into semi-retirement recently, has been to the fore in chess for about 35 years at local, national and international levels.

Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic
Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic

She has represented her country five times, having taken part in the chess Olympiad in Yugoslavia in 1963 and 1973, in Israel in 1976, in Buenos Aires in 1978 and in Malta last year.

Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She turned down the chance to take part on three other occasions.

Haifa Olympiad 1976 - Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Haifa Olympiad 1976 – Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She was awarded the MBE for her services to chess in 1974.

She was President of Dundee Chess Club, chairman of the congress committee of the Scottish Chess Association and on the council of the Scottish Junior Chess Association.

Self-taught

She started playing chess during her school days with her brother and the two of them were more-or-less self taught.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that she received any sort of coaching, by which time she had established her own style.

She retired on April 14th last year after 24 years in the music department of Dundee High School, where she specialised in teaching the oboe.

She continued to teach privately.

Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 6 (June), pp. 219-220 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :

“Nancy C. Elder, MBE, died in Perth, Western Australia on March 4th 1981. Mrs. Elder had recently retired after a lifetime of teaching, her last post being in Dundee. I well remember her account of teaching under difficult conditions in World War 2 in Manchester. 15 Scottish Women’s Champion (the record for the event which she set-up at Troon in 1980).

Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

Mrs Elder was a regular competitor in the British Women’s Championship (sometimes in rivalry with her daughter Christine) and showed her playing strength with a score of 5.5/12 on board two for Scotland at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, Malta, 1980.

Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

I am sure she will be best remembered though for her decades of effort in the organising of chess in Scotland, particularly for juniors and in schools, in recognition of which she was awarded the MBE, the only such honour ever given for services to chess ‘north of the border’ as Alan Borwell puts it in his Newsflash obituary.”

Chess Scotland award the Nancy Elder Cup annually for an individual competition for “club level” players.

We are grateful to Helen Milligan who told BCN :

My most memorable incident was when I refused to play in the Scottish Ladies at the annual Congress, preferring to try to improve my chess by playing in the Open section (really the B-Grade, below the Championship proper). I got given a piece of Nancy’s mind for that – she did not approve!

Here are her playing records from the Olympiads.

Here is a potted biography from Chess Scotland.

Death Anniversary of Nancy Elder MBE (25-v-1915 04-iii-1981)

BCN remembers Nancy Elder MBE who passed away on Wednesday, March 4th 1981, i.e, forty years ago in Perth, Western Australia.

Nancy Conchar Gordon was born on Tuesday, May 25th 1915. On the same date was born Robin Day in High Wycombe who went on  to design the polypropylene stacking chair.

Nancy was born in Kirmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland.

In the 1939 register Nancy was living at 18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ with a married couple, William Furnish (a railway time keeper) and Gertrude Furnish who performed unpaid domestic duties. Presumably Nancy was a lodger.

18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ
18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston. Manchester, M41 5DJ

Her occupation was given as a teacher of music and physical training. At this time she was single at the age of twenty-four.

In the mid-1940s Nancy relocated from Manchester to Dundee where she continued her teaching career at Dundee High School. During that time she encouraged and coached a number of players some of whom represented Scotland.

In 1950 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland Nancy married David Livie Elder. They had a daughter Christine who played chess as a junior. Tealing has a strong connection with the Elder family.

According to Alan McGowan (Chess Scotland): “She was the main instigator in forming both the Schools’ and Primary League in Dundee, and she assisted in the organisation of the Dundee 1967 International Centenary Tournament.”

When she passed away Nancy was living at 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ :

39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ
39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ

Her passing was reported in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser  on March 6th 1981 as follows :

Nancy Elder dies after heart attack on flight

Mrs Nancy Elder 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, a former music teacher at Dundee High School and one of Scotland’s best known chess players, has died after taking ill on a flight to Australia.

She was off for a long holiday which she planned to spend with relatives and friends from the world of international chess, but, after suffering a heart attack on a plane from Singapore, had been in intensive care in Perth, Western Australia.

Her daughter Christine, a primary school teacher in Tighnabruaich, received daily telephone reports on her mother’s condition from a cousin and, at the weekend, heard that she was improving gradually.

The shock news of her mother’s death came late on Wednesday night.

Mrs. Elder, who went into semi-retirement recently, has been to the fore in chess for about 35 years at local, national and international levels.

Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic
Nancy Elder MBE. Source : Milos Petronic

She has represented her country five times, having taken part in the chess Olympiad in Yugoslavia in 1963 and 1973, in Israel in 1976, in Buenos Aires in 1978 and in Malta last year.

Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978. From left: Morag McGhee, Nancy Elder, Owen Hindle, Kathleen Hindle and Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She turned down the chance to take part on three other occasions.

Haifa Olympiad 1976 - Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Haifa Olympiad 1976 – Scotland v Switzerland. From left: Nancy Elder, Kathleen Hindle, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

She was awarded the MBE for her services to chess in 1974.

She was President of Dundee Chess Club, chairman of the congress committee of the Scottish Chess Association and on the council of the Scottish Junior Chess Association.

Self-taught

She started playing chess during her school days with her brother and the two of them were more-or-less self taught.

It wasn’t until after the Second World War that she received any sort of coaching, by which time she had established her own style.

She retired on April 14th last year after 24 years in the music department of Dundee High School, where she specialised in teaching the oboe.

She continued to teach privately.

Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981
Dundee Courier and Advertiser, March 6th 1981

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 6 (June), pp. 219-220 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :

“Nancy C. Elder, MBE, died in Perth, Western Australia on March 4th 1981. Mrs. Elder had recently retired after a lifetime of teaching, her last post being in Dundee. I well remember her account of teaching under difficult conditions in World War 2 in Manchester. 15 Scottish Women’s Champion (the record for the event which she set-up at Troon in 1980).

Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Prizegiving at the 1966 Scottish Championships. From the left: Michael Fallone, Nancy Elder, W.P. McColl, President of Dundee Chess Club, Kathleen Patterson, Gerald Bonner. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

Mrs Elder was a regular competitor in the British Women’s Championship (sometimes in rivalry with her daughter Christine) and showed her playing strength with a score of 5.5/12 on board two for Scotland at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, Malta, 1980.

Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland
Malta Olympiad 1980 Left-right: Kathleen, Rosie Giulian, Owen Hindle (Team Captain), Nancy Elder, Lynne Houston. Courtesy of Chess Scotland

I am sure she will be best remembered though for her decades of effort in the organising of chess in Scotland, particularly for juniors and in schools, in recognition of which she was awarded the MBE, the only such honour ever given for services to chess ‘north of the border’ as Alan Borwell puts it in his Newsflash obituary.”

Chess Scotland award the Nancy Elder Cup annually for an individual competition for “club level” players.

We are grateful to Helen Milligan who told BCN :

My most memorable incident was when I refused to play in the Scottish Ladies at the annual Congress, preferring to try to improve my chess by playing in the Open section (really the B-Grade, below the Championship proper). I got given a piece of Nancy’s mind for that – she did not approve!

Here are her playing records from the Olympiads.

Here is a potted biography from Chess Scotland.

Remembering CGM Adrian Hollis (02-viii-1940 26-ii-2013)

CGM Adrian Hollis, Source : British Chess
CGM Adrian Hollis, Source : British Chess

BCN remembers CGM Adrian Hollis who passed away in Wells, Somerset on Tuesday, February 26th 2013  at the age of seventy-two.

Adrian Swayne Hollis was born in Bristol, Avon on Friday, August 2nd 1940. During this critical period the Luftwaffe was wisely extending its Battle of Britain targets to include Britain’s airfields. Furthermore, Bristol was bombed heavily between June 1940 and May 1944. The longest period of regular bombing, known as the ‘Bristol Blitz’ began in autumn 1940 and ended the following spring. The first bombs of the Bristol Blitz fell at around 6 pm on Sunday 24 November 1940.

Adrian was the only child of MI5 director general Roger Henry Hollis KB CBE (later to become Sir Roger Hollis) and Evelyn Esme Hollis (née Swayne) who was Roger’s first wife. Roger was from Wells and Evelyn from Burnham-on-Sea and they were married on July 17th 1937 in Wells Cathedral with Evelyn’s father performing the ceremony.

Adrian won a scholarship in classics to Eton College and then went up to Keble College, Oxford where he took a first in mods and greats. Whilst at Keble Adrian represented Oxford in four varsity matches between 1959 and 1962. Indeed, his support for varsity matches was maintained for many years attending a large number into and beyond the Lloyds Bank era. Stalwart organiser Henry Mutkin would always be sure to extend an invitation.

In 1961 Adrian become the youngest ever West of England Champion at the age of 21.

Adrian met Margaret Mair Cameron Edwards in 1967 at St. Andrew’s University where he taught Classics and she taught German. They married in the parish of St. Leonards in St. Andrews and had two daughters, Jennifer Margaret M (b. 1974) and Veronica Swanye (b. 1977) and a son, Michael David C.

He was the Games Editor for the British Correspondence Chess Association (BCCA) resigning in 1969.

In 1984 Adrian was forced to endure allegations against his father by Chapman Pincher (in CPs book Too Secret too Long) that Sir Roger had been a Soviet spy / mole. These allegations were demonstrated to be false. He may well also have been aware of allegations against his friend and chess mentor Graham Mitchell earlier in 1963. Ironically, it was Adrian’s father who initiated the investigation into Graham. Again, the rumours were shown to be unfounded.

Adrian became a director of the company Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Limited on the September 1st 1996 and resigned on May 12th 2007. He was also a Vice President of the West of England Chess Union (WECU).

Between 2003 and 2007 (according to the Electoral Roll) Adrian lived at 63, Bainton Road, Oxford, OX2 7AG :

63, Bainton Road, Oxford, OX2 7AG
63, Bainton Road, Oxford, OX2 7AG

and following his retirement (and the time of the 2008 electoral roll) Adrian had moved to Pound House, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH :

Pound House, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH
Pound House, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH

Adrian has written many learned papers and has had two books published :

Fragments of Roman Poetry C.60 BC-Ad 20, AS Hollis, Oxford University Press, 2007
Fragments of Roman Poetry C.60 BC-Ad 20, AS Hollis, Oxford University Press, 2007

and

Ovid Metamorphoses VIII (Schools Edition): Bk. 8, AS Hollis. Oxford University Press, 2008
Ovid Metamorphoses VIII (Schools Edition): Bk. 8, AS Hollis. Oxford University Press, 2008

During his time at Keble College, Adrian engaged with and mentored many chess players including Jonathan Rowson (1996), David Norwood (1988), Julian Way, David Goodman (1977) and Dharshan Kumaran (1993).

CGM Adrian Hollis
CGM Adrian Hollis

Julian was a personal student of Adrian’s and was kind enough to tell us :

I do remember Adrian well. He could quote Latin verse ad infinitum. He was an expert on Ovid.
In terms of chess he had a huge pile of Informators in his study still in their cardboard packaging. He was very kind to me and insisted I play above him for Keble in the intercollegiate matches.

I gave him a copy of Developments in the Orthodox QGD which I had written in 1987. He was quite taken back when I didn’t want any money for it. He seemed to have quite a lot of respect for me.

I once asked him why he had given me a place at Oxford. He replied that he couldn’t have rejected someone with my passion and enthusiasm.
I kept in touch with Adrian until his passing. He gave me a lovely reference when I resumed my studies in 2007 at Kingston University.
I remember him as a kind and unassuming man. He became a lifelong friend.

CGM Adrian Hollis
CGM Adrian Hollis

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

“I was born on August 2nd, 1940, educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford and now teach Classics at Keble College, Oxford. I learned the moves at the advanced age of thirteen from a cousin* who himself could have made a good chess player had he not been seduced by Philosophy and brain-teasers; all that remains in the mind from these encounters is a vision of perpetually losing my rooks to fianchettoed bishops.

*We are grateful to John Clarke who informed us that

“The cousin would have been Martin Hollis, who contributed the “Tantaliser” column to the New Scientist for many years. I always enjoyed his puzzles, which for me at any rate were at just the right level of difficulty – neither trivial nor totally impossible.”

Adrian Hollis. Source : The Potter Memorial
Adrian Hollis. Source : The Potter Memorial

My first ever tournament was the London Boys’ Championship 1956-7. In the opening round fate allotted me Black against David Rumens. As it happened, the brochure included a game of his from the previous year in which he had answered 1.d4 with 1…Nc6, quite enough, in my opinion, to condemn him utterly.

(Ed: The above position did not impress Adrian hugely.)

This view seemed confirmed when within twelve moves of an advance French I was two pawns up. Then, however, aided by my over confidence he worked up a fierce attack, and I just escaped with a draw. Nevertheless, I won the tournament; an opponent remarked how quickly I played my moves.

Thereafter the game was never so easy, but I did reasonably, well, winning the championships of the British Universities, West of England and East of Scotland, and playing for England quite regularly during the 1960s (including 7.5/12 in six Anglo-Dutch matches).

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

The high spot of my over-the-board chess was the series of World Student team championships from 1960 to 1964 in glamorous places (Leningrad, Helsinki, Mariánské Lázně, Budva and Cracow); most enjoyable of these being Budva, 1963 where one could bathe every day in the Adriatic and I won the (?) gold medal on Board 1 with 7.5/9., the year after Spassky (this must look good in the records, unless they happen to reveal that for the first time in preliminary and final sections, and that England did not qualify for the top final).

My best chess was probably played at Mariánské Lázně, 1962, where in successive rounds I had favourable draws with Radulov and Hort, coming close to beating the latter. Ironically, I was awarded the British Master title after I had virtually retired from over-the-board chess.

In 1964 I decided that henceforth for me ‘serious’ chess would mean correspondence, while OTB became a pleasant social activity. My introduction to the postal game had been made about 1955 by a colleague of my father’s, International Master Graham Mitchell, to whom I owe an enormous debt for the patience and kindness with which he played a series of games, bearing with me when I lost interest in worsening positions. The switch to postal play was caused by a number of factors, negative and positive : an impending move to Scotland, where there was less OTB chess, frustration at constantly spoiling good positions through mistakes in time pressure – on the other hand a feeling that correspondence chess should suit an academic temperament, and a particularly fascinating game played in 1963-4 with Michael Haygarth (see below) on which I spent so much time and energy that I almost feared it would ruin my post-graduate exams.

In 1964-5 I qualified for the British Championship by winning a candidates’ section with 100%, and then competed three times in the British Championship itself (1965-6, 1966-7, 1970-71), winning on each occasion (the first time jointly with S. Milan) and remaining unbeaten. International play also proved successful, and I soon collected the two norms necessary for the IM title (Ed: awarded in 1970).

Linda Brownson (Newnham & Basildon), left, playing Maria Eagle (Pembroke & Formby) being observed by John Nunn, Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek posing for the obligatory "staring at the board" picture for the 1981 Varsity Match sponsored by Lloyds Bank.
Linda Brownson (Newnham & Basildon), left, playing Maria Eagle (Pembroke & Formby) being observed by John Nunn, Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek posing for the obligatory “staring at the board” picture for the 1981 Varsity Match sponsored by Lloyds Bank.

The first chance for the Grandmaster title came on Board 1 in the Seventh Olympiad final. Despite a rare loss with the White pieces(my only defeat with white for a stretch of 15 years), things went well, including a lucky win against the reigning World Champion, Horst Rittner, and the enticing prospect beckoned if only I could beat the Russian Moiseyev. He held a slight advantage since the opening, but I thought I saw the chance of tempting him to an incorrect sacrifice. Back came his move; he had indeed made the sacrifice and the envelope burnt a hole in my pocket during an important meeting (my mind was elsewhere). After a mere two days’ thought I sent my reply. The post between England and the USSR takes about a month for the return trip. Soon after posting my move, as I was walking from the Ashmolean Museum to Keble, just passing the front gate of St. John’s, the realisation of what I had overlooked hit me, and there followed an inexorable wait for the death blow which I now saw only too clearly.

So no Grandmaster title, but Great Britain still took the bronze medals, and I scored 6/9 (+5=1-2).

Bob Wade, Harry Golombek and Adrian Hollis observe Penny Coxon (Newnam) and Anita Rakshit (St. Hilda's) during the 1983 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank
Bob Wade, Harry Golombek and Adrian Hollis observe Penny Coxon (Newnham) and Anita Rakshit (St. Hilda’s) during the 1983 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank

Another opportunity came when the British Postal Chess Federation organised a tournament (1974-6) in memory of its former secretary RJ Potter.  This started inauspiciously for me with a heavy defeat at the hands of Grandmaster Endzelins of Australia., a country which has so far provided my least favourite opposition (not only is the postage extremely expensive, but my score to date is 0/2).

Adrian Hollis (far right) as Club President of the 1985 Oxford team of Peter Wells, Karl Bowden, Anita Rakshit, Kenny Shovel, IM Colin McNab, IM Jon Levitt, FM Neil Dickinson and FM John Hawksworth
Adrian Hollis (far right) as Club President of the 1985 Oxford team of Peter Wells, Karl Bowden, Anita Rakshit, Kenny Shovel, IM Colin McNab, IM Jon Levitt, FM Neil Dickinson and FM John Hawksworth

From The Potter Memorial, Ken Messere, Chess (Sutton Coldfield), 1979 we have this potted biography from Ken Messere :

The Potter Memorial, Ken Messere, Chess (Sutton Coldfield), 1979
The Potter Memorial, Ken Messere, Chess (Sutton Coldfield), 1979

“Adrian Hollis is 36, was educated at Eton and Oxford, has written two books on the poet Ovid and is a Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Keble College, Oxford. He is a British Master at over the board chess and has been Champion of British Universities, West of England and East Scotland.

In 1964, he went to teach at St. Andrews University where his wife, Margaret, taught German. They were married and moved to Keble College in 1967 and now have two daughters. Jennifer is nearly five and Veronica is two.

Adrian began to concentrate on correspondence chess in 1964 and won the British Correspondence Chess Championship jointly in 1966 and outright in 1967 and 1971. He won the I.M. title in 1970 and his fine score of 6/9 on top board for Great Britain in the I.C.C.F. VIIth Correspondence Chess Olympiad Final contributed to the team’s winning the bronze medal in this event.”

and now back to Adrian’s British Chess article…

Thereafter my fortunes improved; one opponent accepted too trustingly some faulty analysis by Szabo in Informator (for a while it seemed that the Hungarian might earn me not one but two points). The East German Dr. Baumbach failed to find an improvement in a line with which I had been successful in the Seventh Olympiad Final.

Also, I had a win with the Black pieces against the Russian Kopylov. The result was a score of 9/12 (+8=2-2), which sufficed for the grandmaster title and first place half a point ahead of the Finn Kauranen.

Since then I have played quite well on second board behind Keith Richardson in the Eighth Olympiad Final (+5=7-0), and very badly indeed (scoring just about 50% in the Heilimo Memorial Tournament organised from Finland (I was much impressed by the strength of the Finnish players, most of whom I had not encountered before). Having twice narrowly failed, I would still like to qualify for the Final of the Individual World Championship. Of course life becomes increasingly busy, but the examples of Hugh Alexander and Graham Mitchell encourage me to believe that one can continue to play well at postal chess longer than over-the-board. So perhaps around the year 2000, when the children are grown up….”

Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek observer Andrew Dyson (Trinity) having played 1.d4 versus IM William Watson (Merton) during the 1984 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank
Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek observer Andrew Dyson (Trinity) having played 1.d4 versus IM William Watson (Merton) during the 1984 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXXIII (133, 2013), Number 4 (April), pp.194-5 we have this obituary written by James Pratt :

Adrian Swayne Hollis (2 viii 1940 Bristol – 26 ii 2013 Wells), British Master and Correspondence Grandmaster (1976), three times British Correspondence Champion, has died. He played most of his OTB chess as a young man, finishing seventh equal at the British Aberystwyth, 1961, when he beat, amongst others, A.R.B. Thomas and former champion, Alan Phillips. He gave future champion, Jonathan Penrose, a tough fight in the last round before conceding the half-point. He played in the Hastings Premier, 1962/3 and emerged with a plus score in the Anglo-Dutch matches. He was an occasional reviewer for BCM.

From the 1985 Varsity Match : Laura Cohen (Newnham), Brian Reilly (BCM), Bill Hartston (Cambridge), Adrian Hollis (Oxford), Anita Rakshit (St. Hilda's), Leonard Barden (The Guardian etc) and Bob Wade (BCF)
From the 1985 Varsity Match : Laura Cohen (Newnham), Brian Reilly (BCM), Bill Hartston (Cambridge), Adrian Hollis (Oxford), Anita Rakshit (St. Hilda’s), Leonard Barden (The Guardian etc) and Bob Wade (BCF)

It was, of course, in the realm of postal player that he shone most brightly!

In 1966 we see him playing board two for England, below Slade Milan, and, two years later, Adrian scored 9/12 in a World Postal Qualifier, narrowly missing a place in the final. In 1971 he won the British Correspondence Championship, easily outdistancing a tough field. He played top board for England in the 1972-7 Olympiad. In 1974-6 he won the Reg Potter Memorial. In the ninth Olympiad – 1982-5 – Adrian Hollis was undefeated on board two. And England took the Gold Medal!

Obituary from Raymond Keene in The Specatator

Obituary from Kenneth Shelton in The Independent

Obituary from ? in The Times

Obituary from John Rhodes in The Chess Improver

Obituary from Bob Jones of Keverel Chess.

Wikipedia article.