Remembering Brian Harley (27-10-1883 18-v-1955)

Brian Harley (27-10-1883 18-v-1955), from chesscomposers.com and Chess Notes
Brian Harley (27-10-1883 18-v-1955), from chesscomposers.com and Chess Notes

Death Anniversary of Brian Harley (27-10-1883 18-v-1955)

From chesscomposers.com :

“Brian Harley composed mostly two- or threemovers and wrote many books to make chess problems more popular: for instance his “Mate in Two Moves” inspired Geoff Foster’s first steps into problem dom.
Harley’s “The Modern Two-move Chess Problem” written in collaboration with Comins Mansfield is probably the best known of his efforts.

Brian Harley was the inventor of the term “mutate” for the block problems with changed mates. He was the president of the British Chess Problem Society from 1947 until 1949. In his honour, each year the British magazine “The Problemist” awards the best twomover problem with the “Brian Harley” award.”

and Edward Winter writes about Brian Harley (scroll down a little).

Here is BHs obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV, Number 9, pages 284 – 287 written by S. Sedgwick :

“With the death of Brian Harley on May 18th,1955, the chess problem is the poorer by an authoritative exponent, and a writer of unusual clarity and popular appeal. His sudden passing at his home at Bognor Regis will be mourned. by a very wide circle of friends; to his wife and son, with whom he enjoyed an enduring happiness, we extend our deep-felt sympathy.

Born at Saffron-Walden, Essex, on October 27th,1883, Harley was educated at Wellingborough and Haileybury. Qualifying as an actuary he entered the National Provident Institution, in whose employment, apart from War Service, he passed his professional life, until his retirement in 1947.

As a player he had initially a considerable reputation, above that enjoyed as a problemist. Two books, Chess and its Stars and Chess for the Fun of it, reflect this aspect of his chess work. When playing was eventually renounced for problems he still retained his love of annotation, bringing to this a wide knowledge, larded by the apt witticism and an approach that was neither superficial yet avoided the pitfalls of pedantry.

Chess and its Stars
Chess and its Stars

His first problem appeared at the age of fifteen, in 1898. Whilst Harley’s early period has some noteworthy items, it lacks the verve and distinction of his later output, following his awakening of interest in the mutate in 1916_and the fertile years following his appointment as Chess Editor of The Observer, London, in 1919. In England under the lead o[ Phillip Williams in the Chess Amateur, the mutate had sprung into popularity during and after the Great War, with Harley among its ardent exponents. He continued the cult in his Observer column, where he did much to popularize it. It is possibly symbolic that when Williams died in 1922 his travelling board and men should pass to Harley; it would be difficult to find a comparable instrument that has witnessed the genesis of so much concentrated chess devilry, implicit in all mutates, as this board used first by Williams and then by Harley.

In July, 1919, Harley published his system in the Good Companion folder. This paper, the outcome of much thought, attempted to evaluate the constituent parts of a chess problem on a semi-mathematical basis. Point values were set down for the elements in White keys, Black defences thereto, and the resultant White mates, the summation giving values for comparison with other works similarly treated. In an accompanying paper on the block-change it was here that Harley introduced the term “mutate,” the word passing, without cavil, into the current idiom. Under the evocative power of Harley’s work and pen his Observer feature from 1919 onwards has come to rank with the great columns of the past. No composer of substance was absent from its pages and the result is a collection of works and descriptive criticism that has enriched the chess literature of the world. Early on, Harley came to know the late Godfrey Heathcote, and the welcome presence of the great composers name in the column gave it a sublimity possessed by no other comparable English journal. Harley’s comments on his contributors work was one of the many attractive features of his column. He kept the popular approach very much in mind without unduly over-weighting it; this, blended with a brand of humour all his own (often literary in character), and a grasp of essentials drove home the salient points of a problem to the uninitiated solver with a peculiar vividness. He could ‘be incisive when wanted, technical when he pleased, his gentle rebuke for the inferior production or undetected flaw could not be other than well taken, authoritative without ostentation, his succinct criticisms are now legendary to be treasured and repeated when the occasion demands. An incorrigible faddist in his regard for the short threat in the three-mover, Harley seldom admitted this type to his pages, pleading aversion by solvers. He conducted over one hundred solving contests during his column’s life; these weekly battles of wits affording enormous pleasure to all concerned.

Chess for the Fun of It
Chess for the Fun of It

To his column came the established composer and the hesitant, possibly young, beginner. To this last group Harley gave every encouragement and unreservedly of his advice and help. There must be few British composers who have not felt his benefit directly, through the medium of his wonderful letters, lit all the way through by the warm glow of an endearing personality.

Harley’s constructive powers brought him to the front rank of the world’s composers. His output of 450 includes long range work in four and five moves and in later years, sui-mates. In the chess-men he found a pliable medium for the realization of an unusual vision and creative gift. In the two-mover he gave to the mutate much substantial and classic work. He appears to have given to this type more specialized attention than any other in the two-move field. Elsewhere in this length his work covers a wide variety of themes with a strong liking for task renderings. A composer with few serious constructive foibles, his mode of expression, in consequence suffered little. His was not the temperament to linger with one theme and squeeze it dry. One or two renderings of the theme on hand and he would pass to the next. Hence the diversity of his work which imbues it with especial charm. To underline this point one could indicate, almost at random, Harley’s entries in the multimate tourney of the Cleveland Chess Bulletin. Certainty the theme had few attractions for him but his entries showed how superbly such problem ideas could be clothed.

In the three-mover Harley has graced both sides of the aesthetic fence, and that with distinction, giving equally to the strategic and model-mate genre. His friendship with Heathcote however influenced him considerably here and one is inclined to the view, that in this length, Harley held firmly to the eternal values in chess art. In both types Harley attained especially in task renderings, rare heights of complexity and construction. His lighter mood showed to the full-to the incipient solver much of the low cunning of which the three-mover is capable.

He came to the sui in the late forties. When Heathcote was convalescing in London, following an operation, Harley took some specimens with him when he visited his friend The ensuing discussion stimulated Harley to further experiments and the authentic touch of the great master of technique is evident in his work here also. Harley gave many of his works to his own “Observer” column but did not neglect the other sources of publication. To quote his own words his ideal problem was “a mixture of art, science, humour, and puzzlement.” His best work shows brilliantly his love for the integration of the beautiful and the true inner essence and spirit of chess.

His contribution to the literary and technical side of chess problems outside his journalistic work is seen in his two books Mate in Two (1931) and Mate in Three (1943).
Mate in Two is stamped with all Harley’s inimitable style and remains a mine of information for all levels. Standing, as it does, mid-way between the old and the new, the book, apart from an absorbing chapter on changed play, reflects and even labours under the influence of the “Good Companion” period. Harley in later editions to a certain extent remedied this deficiency and the book, now long out of print, lies on our shelf, its fundamentals unimpaired, as one of the classic expositions in the art. Mate in Three, written from a’ narrower viewpoint, proved another successful publication. Here Harley entered more controversial ground, crossing swords. with hitherto established theory. The book, although not evoking absolute technical authority, gives a broad and eloquent outline, written from the artistic standpoint, of three-move work fundamentally, with few significant omissions. Made memorable by the inclusion of many works both by Harley and Heathcote, the book is that of a true artist, and is of great importance theoretically as the one modern work devoted to this length by an English author.

101 Chess Puzzles
101 Chess Puzzles

A further important contribution to chess problem theory was his thesis on “Black Correction” read before the British Chess Problem Society on November 29th, 1935. In the mid thirties, this thesis, more than anything else, was instrumental in precipitating a flood of work on correction and associated ideas. Readers of this magazine will recall this period, and I trust that this short recapitulation will still the tiresome arguments regarding the choice between “correction” and “continued defences.” Harley’s choice is at once apt and descriptive and it should not be forgotten that here, he touched upon White Correction, an esoteric aristocrat, greeted by ten years or so of utter silence before systematic investigation by the moderns.

Elected President of the British Chess Problem Society in 1947-1949 it so happened that I was its Secretary at the time. We exchanged hundreds of letters on problematic subjects, the scope of his knowledge always affording surprise. The Society benefited enormously from his advice and counsel, and during the somewhat delicate situation arising from the arbitration in the two-move section of the 1948 Olympic Tourney it was with alacrity that one turned to a mind of the calibre of Harley. Coming to the man he was widely read, a Latin scholar, and his knowledge of Dickens was above average; a keen bridge player, an instrumentalist (piano), all the varied facets of his character would come out at some time in his chess writings. His physical presence at any gathering gave it stature. Of medium height, lovable, somewhat dapper, the shrewd contemplative face of this chess Barrie with its ever present cigarette holder and fund of anecdote has enriched and enlivened many a dull Committee Meeting.

Mate in Two Moves
Mate in Two Moves

On the death of Anthony Guest in 1925, Harley succeeded as Problem Editor of the Morning Post until 1932. In addition he was Problem Editor of Empire Review, 1923-1926, and Time and Tide, from 1951 until his death. Lesser appointments included several technical journals where he acted under pseudonyms. Amusing were the anagrammatical pseudonyms used occasionally for composing in Hilary Bream and Harry Blaine.

Brian’s integrity and character endeared him to innumerable correspondents and solvers. Most of us nourish a characteristic Brian Harley story; one must suffice here. It concerns the time when Brian was introduced to the late Sir John Simon who made the delightful response “l need no introduction for I meet him every Sunday and for years hive wrestled with his problems, eventually solving them in the House of Commons.” For this weekly enrichment of our lives we have much to thank him for.

In middle life Brian married Ella Margaret Beddall; there is one son, Nigel. With his wife, Brian shared many problematic triumphs and it was to her that his various books were dedicated.

Mate in Three Moves
Mate in Three Moves

Before closing this brief review of Brian’s achievements a word should be said regarding the summary end of his work in the Observer and a tribute paid by one of his many solvers in this column. On the former it will be regarded with universal regret by all problemists that no arrangements have been made to continue Brian’s incomparable work in the journal he served with such distinction. Regarding the latter am very grateful to Halford W. L. Reddish, Esq., for an appreciation that admirably epitomizes the feelings of us all on this melancholy occasion.

Mr. Halford Reddish writes-

“l am one of thousands of solvers, from the expert to the merest tyro, who will miss our weekly battle with Brian Harley in the Observer. In the world of chess and chess problems his name and fame are secure. His characteristically titled Chess for the Fun of It is a delightful exposition of the game: his Mate in Two Moves and Mate in Three Moves are classics in their particular field.

To those of us who knew Brian personally his passing leaves an unfillable gap. I had known him and admired him and loved his witty, cheery, kindly personality for many years. He was one of those rare beings who became a close friend even before our first meeting-for we had corresponded for a long time before we first came face to face. And although chess and chess problems were our primary link he had many other interests which kept him young and keen in mind after his retirement from business and which enlarged and enriched his correspondence. It is typical of him that no letter came from him without some mention of his dear wife, who shared to the full his varied interests. To her and to his only son to the deep sympathy of his many friends.”

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE, John Rice writes:

“British problemist, known perhaps less for his problems (mainly two- and three-movers) than for his influential writing and editing. Chess correspondent of the Observer for over twenty years. Books include: Mate in Two Moves (1931), Mate in Three Moves (1943), and published posthumously) The Modern Two-Move Chess Problem, with problems by C. Mansfield (1958), President of the British Chess Problem Society 1947-9″

The Modern Two- Move Chess Problem, Brian Harley and Comins Mansfield, Museum Press, London, 1944 & 1958
The Modern Two- Move Chess Problem, Brian Harley and Comins Mansfield, Museum Press, London, 1944 & 1958

Happy Birthday GM James Howell (17-v-1967)

GM James Clifford Howell
GM James Clifford Howell

BCN wishes GM James Clifford Howell best wishes on his birthday, this day (May 17th) in 1967.

GM James Howell
GM James Howell

From Wikipedia :

James Clifford Howell (born May 17, 1967) is an English chess grandmaster and author. He earned his international master title in 1985 and his grandmaster title ten years later, in 1995. He reached his peak rating in July 1995, at 2525.[1] He became inactive in 1996.

James Howell as Junior British Chess Captain at Goldmark Books Chess Challenge, London England 27 May 1986, Upingham Community College, Kasparov played the BCF Junior Squad.  Photo from Alamy
James Howell as Junior British Chess Captain at Goldmark Books Chess Challenge, London England 27 May 1986, Upingham Community College, Kasparov played the BCF Junior Squad. Photo from Alamy
Oxford's IM James Howell (l) shapes up against Cambridge's FM Graham Burgess on top board in the Lloyds Bank Varsity match which Cambridge won 5.5 - 2.5. The players reeled off 19 moves of Yugoslav King's Indian theory before Howell established a dominant B vs N which won the Lloyds Bank trophy for the best Oxford game. Photograph by Lloyds Bank.
Oxford’s IM James Howell (l) shapes up against Cambridge’s FM Graham Burgess on top board in the Lloyds Bank Varsity match which Cambridge won 5.5 – 2.5. The players reeled off 19 moves of Yugoslav King’s Indian theory before Howell established a dominant B vs N which won the Lloyds Bank trophy for the best Oxford game. Photograph by Lloyds Bank.

Here is a game from the European Junior Championship in 1985. The opponent was Mark R. Burgess :

James Howell (fourth from left) in 1978 Varsity match winning Oxford Team. James was from Jesus College.
James Howell (fourth from left) in 1978 Varsity match winning Oxford Team. James was from Jesus College.
James Clifford Howell (rear, fourth from left)at a Lloyds Bank event
James Clifford Howell (rear, fourth from left)at a Lloyds Bank event
Essential Chess Endings
Essential Chess Endings

Happy Birthday Mark Crowther !

TWIC Founder, Mark Crowther
TWIC Founder, Mark Crowther

BCN wishes TWIC founder, Mark Crowther, all the best on his birthday, this day in 1966.

From Wikipedia :

The Week in Chess (TWIC) is one of the first, if not the first, Internet-based chess news services. It is based in the United Kingdom.

TWIC has been edited by Mark Crowther since its inception in 1994.[1] It began as a weekly Usenet posting, with “TWIC 1” being posted to Usenet group rec.games.chess on 17 September 1994.[2] Later it moved to Crowther’s personal web site, then to chesscenter.com in 1997,[3] and in 2012 it moved to theweekinchess.com.[4]

It contains both chess news, and all the game scores from major events.

TWIC quickly became popular with professional chess players, because it allowed them to quickly get results and game scores, where previously they had relied on print publications.[5]

TWIC still exists as a weekly newsletter, although for important events the TWIC website is updated daily. It remains a popular site for up-to-date chess news.[6]

Remembering Harold Murray (24-vi-1868 16-v-1955)

Harold James Ruthven Murray (24-vi-1868 16-v-1955)
Harold James Ruthven Murray (24-vi-1868 16-v-1955)

BCN remembers Harold Murray who passed away on Monday, May 16th, 1955.

Harold James Ruthven Murray was born on Wednesday, 24th June 1868 in Camberwell, London. He was the eldest son of Sir James Augustus Henry Murray 1837–1915 and  Ada Agnes Ruthven 1845–1936. Sir James was famously the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV (125, 1955), Number 8 (August), pp. 233-4 we have this obituary from DJ Morgan:

“The great historian of chess died in May last, at the age of eighty-six. Some of the early results of his researches into the origins of the game were published in this magazine, and a reference to the “B.C.M.” volumes for the first fifteen years of this century will reveal a wealth of articles of permanent value. A tribute to our late and
distinguished contributor has been unavoidably delayed.

Murray was the eldest son of Sir James A. H. Murray, the pioneering editor of the great Oxford English Dictionary, and was born in Camberwell on June 24th, 1868. He went to Mill Hill School, took an Open Mathematical Exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford, and left the University, in 1890, with a First Class in the Final Mathematical School. Subsequently, teaching engagements took him to Taunton, Carlisle, and Ormskirk. From 1891 to 1900 he was Headmaster of Ormskirk Grammar School, which he left to become a Board of Education Inspector of Schools.

Taunton gave him an enthusiasm for chess. At Ormskirk he helped to found a club, which he captained from 1896 to 1900. His interest in the history of the game had been aroused in 1893, and when, in 1897, he received encouragement from such a notable authority as Baron von der Lasa, historical research became his ruling passion. In his own words his aim was to trace the development of the modern European game from the first appearance of its ancestor, the Indian chaturanga, in the beginning of the seventh century of our era.

Many books had been written on the history of chess, but none had covered exactly the whole story as he envisaged it. Hyde, in 1694, and another Englishman, Forbes, in 1860, had in the main confined their attention to Oriental chess. Other investigators, such as Sir William Jones on Indian chess (1790), Cox on Burma chess (1803 and 1807), and Bland on Persian chess (1852), had published their conclusions in journals of Asiatic studies. The great German writer, von der Lasa, in 1897, treated almost exclusively of the European game. Van der Linde alone had dealt with both Oriental and European chess, but it was in three distinct works (1874-81).

Van der Linde was able to incorporate the results of Weber’s examination of the early references to chess in Sanskrit literature, and to show that Forbes’s History was both inaccurate and misleading.

Since the publication of Linde’s Geschichte there had been many additions to our knowledge of various aspects of chess history, mostly scattered in isolated papers. So, continues Murray, he set about collecting and collating all available material and making it easily accessible to English readers.

Murray was able to call on the help of acknowledged scholars in the many languages, obsolete and obsolescent, into which his researches led him. Above all, his work was largely based upon his own studies of original materials. The manuscripts and rare books in the unrivalled collections of J. G. White, of Cleveland, Ohio, and of J. W. Rimington Wilson in this country, were placed unreservedly at his disposal, as were the resources of other collectors and libraries.

As an example of his devotion to his work, he made a thorough study of Arabic, and it was his knowledge of this language which enabled him to make his remarkable discovery of the chess-work of Allajlaj, a Mohammedan chess master of the tenth century. The fascinating story of the recovery of these oldest recorded games is told in the “British Chess Magazine” of November, 1903.

Murray thus brought a fine scholarship to his immense task. He had, in addition, the true historian’s gifts of meticulous research, of grasp of detail, of the critical sifting of evidence; to this scientific technique was added the art of lucid exposition.
In his hands, it can be said, the chess-player’s elements of time, space, and material were used to range through most of the centuries of the Christian era.

A History of Chess
A History of Chess

The History appeared in 1913, from the same University Press, he was proud to think which, more than 200 years before, had published Thomas Hyde’s Mondragorios seu Historia Shohiludii. The huge volume of 900 pages, lavishly illustrated and with scores of chess diagrams, was received with world-wide acclamation. From ancient “Indian Board-games” to “Steinitz and his School,” the vast field had been covered with great authority. The book is in two parts, “Chess in Asia” and “Chess in Europe,” but through it all runs the absorbing story of how the game, in play and in problem, in its practice and in its laws, has developed and spread. From India to Persia, to Islam as a result of the Mohammedan conquest of Persia, from Islam to Spain, and thence to Christian Europe, chess has followed the great political and religious movements. It is very improbable that chess was played in England before the Norman Conquest. That it was familiar to the Norman Kings in the eleventh century is certain from the evidence of the word exchequer, which was applied to the table “upon which the accounts were worked out by means of a cloth divided into strips about a footwide, on which counters, representing the moneys, were placed and moved.”

This must suffice. The work is one to browse in and to dip into through the years. Murray has left an enduring monument, the greatest book ever written on the game. We can but touch briefly on other aspects of his varied and active life. Following his retirement from the Board of Education, in 1928, he took an active interest in Local Government work. He became Chairman of the Fernhurst Parish Council, and was a member of the Midhurst R.D.C., 1931-55, being Chairmain of its Housing
Committee from 1938 to 1948.

In 1952 he published A History of Board Gomes Other Than Chess.

A History of Board Games other than Chess
A History of Board Games other than Chess

He also wrote a Shorter History of Chess and a History of Draughts (both unpublished), and spent much time working on mathematical problems connected with Knights’ Tours and Magic Tours. His work on these investigations is also unpublished, but a good deal remains in typescript in fairly complete form.

Apart from his interest in board games and mathematics, he was interested in genealogy, and did research on his own and his wife’s families. Up to his death he was working on local history and was writing a history of Heyshott, the village to which he retired. Walking, in his younger days, and bird-watching in his middle years, were amongst his otter recreations.

A game of chess he. always enjoyed, but not under the rigorous conditions of matches and tournaments.

His son, Major D. M. J. Murray, Royal Engineers, was killed in Hong Kong in 1941. The chess world’s sympathy with his second son Mr. K.C. Murray of the Antiquities Service, Nigeria, and with his daughter, Miss K. M. E. Murray, M.A., Principal of the Bishop
Otter College, Chichester, is but a small expression of its sense of indebtedness to their distinguished father.-D. J. M.”

Following this obituary a letter from Alex Hammond appeared in British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV (125, 1955), Number 9 (September), page 270 as follows:

“Dear Mr. Reilly,
Murray was, indeed a very great man, though a few of us were privileged to know him intimately, as his nature was shy and retiring.

For myself, I shall always treasure his memory, as when I wrote my The Book of Chessmen he gave me freely of his knowledge, and saved me from many errors.

Any person who attempts to write on chess history will always find real difficulty in discovering anything of interest which does not appear in his monumental “History.”

Probably his like will not be seen again, as such patient industry, deep knowledge, and tremendous perseverance are unlikely to be combined in a single personage again.

Yours sincerely,
Alex Hammond
16 Burlington Arcade, London, W1

The Book of Chessmen, Alexander Hammond, Arthur Barker Ltd., London, 1950
The Book of Chessmen, Alexander Hammond, Arthur Barker Ltd., London, 1950

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (Oxford University Press, 1984 & 1996) by Hooper & Whyld:

“Foremost chess historian, school inspector. His A History of Chess (1913), perhaps the most important chess book in English, was the result of about 14 years of research inspired by Lasa, and grounded on van der Linde’s work. During that period Murray contributed 35 articles to the British Chess Magazine , some of which outlined his discoveries. Most of the 900-page History is concerned with the evolution of modern chess from its oriental precursor up to the 17th century. He learned Arabic so that he could read important manuscripts, and in addition to his own circle he was able to solicit help from colleagues of his father Sir James A. H. Murray, editor-in-chief of the Oxford English Dictionary; who was also aided by J. G. White, with both advice and the loan of rare books from the Cleveland collection, and by many others. His book includes an authoritative account of both Mansubat and medieval problems. (See also history of chess.) In 1952 he published a companion volume, A History of Board Games other than Chess.

While the scholarship of his chess book has never been questioned it is too detailed for the average chess-player. Aware of this problem, Murray wrote a briefer work approaching the topic in a more popular way. The manuscript, unfinished at his death, was completed and published in 1963 as A Short History of Chess. (See Civis Bononiae.)

A Short History of Chess
A Short History of Chess

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

“Chess historian and a Board of Education Inspector of Schools. Appropriately enough, a son of the pioneering editor of the great Oxford English Dictionary, he became interested in the history of chess in the early 1890s. Up to this time the historical writings on chess in English had been unhistorical. In order to fit himself for the task Murray learned several languages including Arabic and he also studied the true historians of chess, the German writers, Van der Linde and Von der Lassa.

In his own words his aim was to trace the development of the modern European game from the first appearance of its ancestor, the Indian chaturanga, in the beginning of the seventh century of our era. This he did in a vast work of some 900 pages published in Oxford in 1913. An immense amount of painstaking research had gone into the work and only a man of Murray’s great learning could have attempted it.

It at once became the standard book on the subject and has remained so ever since. Murray left behind among his papers an unfinished work A Short History of Chess which took the history of the game up to 1866 which gave a clearer and more readable account of the history of the game than his main work. This was brought up to date by Goulding-Brown and Golombek and published in Oxford in 1963.”

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

“The chess historian who wrote the History of Chess, published by Oxford University Press in 1913. Murray was born in Camberwell on 24th June, 1868, the eldest son of Sir James Murray, the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. After graduating from Balliol College, Oxford, with a First Class in the Final Mathematical School, in 1890 Murray became a master at Queen’s College, Taunton, where he learned to play chess. He later taught at Carlisle Grammar School and in 1896 became the headmaster of Ormskirk Grammar School. About 1893 his interest in the history of the game was aroused, and four years later, encouraged by the great German writer and authority on the game, Baron Von der Lasa, his historical researches began.
From 1901-1928 he was a Board of Education Inspector of Schools, an appointment which made it difficult for him to play much chess. He began to turn his attention more and more to the history of the game, contributing articles to The British Chess Magazine and Deutsches Wochenschach. He made the acquaintance of J. J. White of Cleveland, Ohio, owner of the largest chess library in the world, and was given access to this collection, as well as one owned by J. W. Rimington Wilson in England. White’s library contained a number of Arabic manuscripts, and, in order to be able to study them, Murray learned Arabic. The History of Chess took him 13 years to complete.

On his retirement from the Board of Education, Murray served as Chairman of Fernhurst Parish Council and was a member of Midhurst R.D.C. from 1931-1955 and was Chairman of its Housing Committee from 1938-1948. His other interests, apart from chess, were genealogy, local history, walking and bird watching. In 1952 he published A History of Board Games Other than Chess.

After his death A Short History of Chess was found uncompleted among his papers. Additional chapters were added by B. Goulding Brown and H. Golombek, and it was published in 1963.”

(Bertram Goulding Brown was a tournament chess player and a contributor to British Chess Magazine. He was born 5 July 1881 and died 22 August 1965 in the United Kingdom.)

You may read the entire book here

From Amazon :

“Harold James Ruthven Murray was born on 24 June 1868. His first book A History of Chess was published by Oxford University Press in 1913. Murray covered the first 1,400 years of the game’s history in definitive detail. He died on 16 May 1955. He left several more manuscripts which are being held by Oxford University.”

According to Edward Winter in Chess Notes HJRM lived 53 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England (Ranneforths Schach-Kalender, 1915, page 71).

Here is his Wikipedia entry

and here is an excellent article from Edward Winter.

Remembering Andrew Thomas (11-x-1904 16-v-1985)

ARB Thomas and Jonathan Penrose at the Hastings Congress
ARB Thomas and Jonathan Penrose at the Hastings Congress
Signature of ARB Thomas from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Southsea 1951.
Signature of ARB Thomas from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Southsea 1951.

Here is his Wikipedia entry

ARB Thomas in play with FEA Kitto
ARB Thomas in play with FEA Kitto

BCN remembers Andrew Rowland Benedick Thomas (11-x-1904 16-v-1985)

We cannot improve on this excellent article about ARBT on the Chess Devon web site

David Hooper (seated right) in play at the West of England Championships in Bristol, Easter, 1947. His opponent , ARB Thomas , was that year's champion. Among the spectators is Mrs. Rowena Bruce, the 1946 British Ladies' Champion. BCM, Volume 118, #6, p.327. The others in the photo are L - R: H. V. Trevenen; H. Wilson-Osborne (WECU President); R. A. (Ron) Slade; Rowena Bruce; Ron Bruce; H. V. (Harry) Mallison; Chris Sullivan; C. Welch (Controller); F. E. A. (Frank) Kitto.
David Hooper (seated right) in play at the West of England Championships in Bristol, Easter, 1947. His opponent , ARB Thomas , was that year’s champion. Among the spectators is Mrs. Rowena Bruce, the 1946 British Ladies’ Champion. BCM, Volume 118, #6, p.327. The others in the photo are L – R: H. V. Trevenen; H. Wilson-Osborne (WECU President); R. A. (Ron) Slade; Rowena Bruce; Ron Bruce; H. V. (Harry) Mallison; Chris Sullivan; C. Welch (Controller); F. E. A. (Frank) Kitto.

Evil-Doer : Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi

Evil-Doer : Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi
Evil-Doer : Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi

Evil-Doer : Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi : Genna Sosonko

Gennadi Borisovich Sosonko
Gennadi Borisovich Sosonko

Genna Sosonko emigrated from the USSR to the Netherlands in 1972.  For the past 20 years or so he’s made a career out of writing essays and books about chess in the Soviet Union, and interviewing many of the leading players from that period.

It was Saturday 17 January 1976. The height of the English Chess Explosion.  Richmond Junior Chess Club had opened its doors for the first time just a few months earlier.

As was customary at the time, the visiting Soviet GMs who had been competing at Hastings played simuls against prizewinners from the London Junior Championships, which in those days attracted most of the country’s top young players. And so it was that I was there at a London school to witness two of the all-time greats, Bronstein and Korchnoi, taking on the cream of England’s up and coming chess talents.

The contrast was noticeable.  Bronstein played fast, took some risks and finished quickly (+17 =9 -4). Korchnoi played slowly, taking every game seriously, and using 7 hours to complete his 30 games (+20 =9 -1), losing only to a certain N Short. He said at the time something to the effect that he wanted his young opponents to understand what it was like to play against a strong grandmaster.

This story sums up the difference between two men who had much in common but a very different attitude towards chess.

Bronstein was born in Ukraine, the son of a Jewish family. Korchnoi’s Polish Catholic father and Jewish mother had moved from Ukraine to Leningrad a few years before he was born. Both men were obsessed with chess while neither had great social and communication skills. Both, of course, came within a whisker of becoming world champion.

I’ve recently reviewed Sosonko’s memoirs of Smyslov and Bronstein: the book in front of me now is without doubt the most successful of the trilogy. Korchnoi and Sosonko had been close friends for half a century, although at one point not on speaking terms for some time.

Korchnoi could at times be rude, argumentative and bad-tempered, but that was part of the man, and his friends, such as Sosonko, accepted and perhaps even respected him for it. On reading an article in which Nigel Short, his young conqueror all those years ago in the London Juniors simul, described  him as a ‘cantankerous old git’, he confessed that, although his English was pretty good, he was only familiar with one of the three words. Growing up as he did during the Siege of Leningrad, suffering his parents’ divorce and the death of his father, poverty, hunger and ill-health, you might think, along with Sosonko, that his difficult personality was understandable. You might also ask yourself whether it was, at least in part, something he was born with.

Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi
Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi

“I have problems communicating with other people”, he once said. “Therefore, I do what I like the most. Most of all I like chess, and, to be honest, I don’t know what else I could do.” (No, I don’t know  when or where he said it, but that’s Sosonko for you. No sources, just lots of ‘he saids’, allegations and speculations.)

Korchnoi admitted and accepted his differences, while Bronstein, to use the current vogue word, masked his differences.

Bronstein peaked early, while Korchnoi peaked remarkably late. Bronstein seemed to play for fun, driven by fantasy and imagination, while Korchnoi was a dour and dogged defender who took every game seriously. But it was Bronstein who gradually fell out of love with chess, his obsession turning from the game itself to the perceived injustices he suffered. Korchnoi, in contrast, like Edith Piaf, regretted nothing and remained passionately devoted to chess right to the end of his life.

A long and eventful life it was, too. From wartime hardships to chess stardom, political asylum in the West, world championship matches against Karpov, and his final decades spent quietly (as if Korchnoi could ever be quiet) in Switzerland, it’s all here. Readers of Sosonko’s other books will know what to expect. There’s no chess in it at all, so, unless you’re inspired by Korchnoi’s determination, it won’t do anything to improve your rating. Nor is it an academic history: just memoir and anecdotes. I’m not convinced by the title: ‘evil-doer’ was how he was referred to  by some Soviet players after his defection. It’s a title I might use about Hitler or Stalin, but Korchnoi, whatever his faults, didn’t do evil. But if you want 300+ pages about the man, written by a friend and admirer for half a century, you’ll enjoy reading this book.

Richard James, Twickenham 15th May 2020

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 314 pages
  • Publisher:  Limited Liability Company Elk and Ruby Publishing House (17 May 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 5950043383
  • ISBN-13: 978-5950043383
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm

Official web site of Elk and Ruby

Evil-Doer : Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi
Evil-Doer : Half a Century with Viktor Korchnoi

Happy Birthday GM Matthew Sadler (15-v-1974)

GM Matthew Sadler, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Matthew Sadler, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes GM Matthew Sadler all the best on his birthday, this day, in 1974.

From Wikipedia :

Sadler won the British Championship in 1995 at the age of 21 and again in 1997 (jointly with Michael Adams).[2] He represented England in the 1996 Chess Olympiad, scoring 10½/13 and winning a gold medal for the best score on board four (England finished fourth), and also played in 1998 scoring 7½/12. He made 7/9 on board four for England at the European Team Chess Championship in Pula in 1997.[3] His was the best individual score of the five-man English team and so contributed significantly to England’s first (and to date only) gold medal in a major competition.

Anatoli Vaisser vs Matthew Sadler, Cappelle-la-Grande, 1991
Anatoli Vaisser vs Matthew Sadler, Cappelle-la-Grande, 1991

For several years, he was the book reviewer for New in Chess magazine and also wrote books and articles for other chess magazines. In 2000, his book Queen’s Gambit Declined (published by Everyman) was awarded the British Chess Federation’s book of the year award.[4]

. Queen's Gambit Declined. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857442564.
. Queen’s Gambit Declined. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857442564.

Latterly a resident of Amersfoort, Sadler returned to chess in 2010 to play in a rapidplay tournament held in nearby Wageningen. He won the event with a perfect score of 7/7, finishing ahead of grandmasters Jan Timman, Friso Nijboer and Daniel Fridman. In August 2011, Sadler continued his resurgence by winning the XIII Open Internacional D’Escacs de Sants, scoring 8½/10, ahead of several grandmasters including Jan Smeets. Right thereafter, in October 2011, he went on to compete in the Oslo Chess International; participants included ten other grandmasters, among them Sergei Tiviakov, Jon Ludvig Hammer and Sergey Volkov, all being 2600+ rated. Sadler won convincingly, with 8/9 points and a performance rating of 2849. Going into 2012, the gain in rating points elevated him to fourth rank amongst active English players and also lifted him back into the World Top 100.”

Matthew Sadler plays Anatoly Karpov at the Amber Rapid in 1998. The game was drawn.
Matthew Sadler plays Anatoly Karpov at the Amber Rapid in 1998. The game was drawn.

Matthew was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion in the 1989-90 and 1993-94 seasons.

One of Matthew’s favourite games is this quick win against Ladislav Stratil Jr. from the Oakham Young Masters :

Matthew Sadler
Matthew Sadler

In a January 2012 interview, Sadler stated that chess was now primarily a “hobby” for him.[5] While relishing his return to tournament play, Sadler noted that he was now an amateur, and would not be coming back as a professional. He contrasts his present lighthearted attitude with his demeanor during his time as a professional, when he was “working ten hours a day and incredibly intensively”.

Mark Taimanov and Matthew Sadler
Mark Taimanov and Matthew Sadler

Here is a second favourite game of Matthew’s versus Eran Liss at Budapest, 1993 :

Matthew Sadler
Matthew Sadler

and thirdly this game of Matthew’s vs Jan Smeets is another favourite :

The Slav. Everyman. ISBN 978-1901259001.
The Slav. Everyman. ISBN 978-1901259001.
The Semi-Slav. Everyman. ISBN 978-1901259087.
The Semi-Slav. Everyman. ISBN 978-1901259087.
 Tips For Young Players. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857442311.
Tips For Young Players. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857442311.
. Queen's Gambit Declined. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857442564.
. Queen’s Gambit Declined. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857442564.
 Study Chess With Matthew Sadler. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857449907.
Study Chess With Matthew Sadler. Everyman. ISBN 978-1857449907.
Chess For Life. Gambit. ISBN 978-1910093832.
Chess For Life. Gambit. ISBN 978-1910093832.
 Game Changer. New In Chess. ISBN 978-9056918187.
Game Changer. New In Chess. ISBN 978-9056918187.

Happy Birthday IM John Grantley Cooper (14-v-1954)

IM John Cooper, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM John Cooper, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM John Grantley Cooper (14-v-1954)

From chessgames.com :

“John Grantley Cooper was born in Cardiff, Wales. Awarded the IM title in 1984, he was Welsh champion in 1976 (jointly), 1978 (jointly), 1984, 1985, 1992 (jointly), 1993 (jointly), 1994, 1995 and 1996. He also played for Wales in ten Olympiads, from 1974 to 1992.”

His peak rating was 2395 in January 1985 at the age of 31.

IM John Cooper, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM John Cooper, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography

Happy Birthday IM Jack Rudd (13-v-1979)

IM Jack Rudd, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Jack Rudd, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes a Happy Birthday to IM Jack Rudd (13-v-1979)

Jack Timothy John Rudd was born in Scunthorpe and the family moved to the West Country in 1981/82. Jack became a FIDE Master in 2006 and an International Master in 2008 (confirmed in 2009). He became a FIDE Arbiter (FA) in 2012 and an International Arbiter (2014) in 2014.

Jack achieved his highest Elo rating of 2385 in April 2007 at the age of 28.

Jack plays for “West is Best” in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL), Somerset Chess Association and Barnstaple in local leagues.

Jack has selected two of his favourite games as follows :

IM Jack Rudd, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Jack Rudd, photograph courtesy of John Upham Photography

Remembering Charles Dealtry Locock (27-ix-1872 13-v-1946)

Charles Dealtry Locock (27-ix-1872 13-v-1946)
Charles Dealtry Locock (27-ix-1872 13-v-1946)

BCN Remembers Charles Dealtry Locock (27-ix-1872 13-v-1946)

From chessgames.com :

“Charles Dealtry Locock was born in Brighton, England. He won the British Amateur Championship in 1887 (after a play-off) and passed away in London.”

From Wikipedia :

“Charles Dealtry Locock (1862 – 1946) was a British literary scholar, editor and translator, who wrote on a wide array of subjects, including chess, billiards and croquet.[1]”

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

The Locock Gambit is in the Philidor Defence, named after the English player Charles Dealtry Locock (1862 – 1946). The gambit is probably sound; Black should play 4…Be7 instead of 4…h6

Here are some studies from aarves.org

Imagination in Chess by Charles Dealtry Locock
Imagination in Chess by Charles Dealtry Locock

James Pratt informs BCN that CDL was an early trainer of Elaine Saunders. See here for more.

From The Chess Bouquet, (1897), page 212 : (taken from chessgames.com)

“Perhaps many players who are inclined to pooh, pooh the efficacy of problem training will be surprised to find that such an expert player, as Mr. Locock has proved himself to be, is equally at home in the sister art. Yet such is the case, and although his fame rests chiefly upon his many brilliant victories in cross-board encounters, the strategetic qualities of his compositions, and the ease and facility with which he penetrates the inmost recesses of problem, have secured him place in the foremost ranks of British problemists. Born in 1862, and educated at Winchester College and University College, Oxford, Mr. Locock early displayed fondness for chess, and for five years he played for Oxford v. Cambridge.
In 1887 he won the amateur championship tournament of the British Chess Association without losing game. In the Masters’ International Tournament, held at Bradford in 1888, he scored seven antl half games against very powerful array of talent. The Masters’ International Tournament, held at Manchester, in 1890, found him somewhat below par, but in 1801 he won the British Chess Club Handicap without losing game. In 1892 he tied with Bird for fourth prize in the National Masters’ Tournament. Emanuel Lasker (then rapidly forcing his way to the throne, so long and honourably held by Wilhelm Steinitz) won the first prize, with score of nine James Mason second, seven and half; Rudolph Loman third, seven and Messrs. Bird and Locock six and half each. Seven others competing.

During the past four years Mr. Locock has played some twenty-six match games without losing one. In team matches he has only lost one since 1886. These include the two telephone matches, British Chess Club v. Liverpool and also the cable match, British Chess Club v. Manhattan Club, 1895, when Mr. Locock, at board three, drew with Mr. A. B. Hodges; and the cable match, British Isles v. United States, March, 1896, when Mr. Locock again drew his game with Mr. E. mes on board five.

Partially owing to want of practice, Mr. Locock is gradually retiring from serious chess, although we trust many years will elapse ere he finally says good-bye to the scene of his triumphs. Life is generali) voted too short for chess, yet, in addition to the sterling work already alluded to, Mr. Locock has found time to edit the well-known excellent chess column in Knowledge, and enrich the already huge store ot problems with many stategetical positions. His “Miraculous Adjudicator” and Three Pawns ending, published in the B.C.M., having been greatly admired by connoisseurs.

Mr. Locock has favoured us with few humorous remarks on what he terms the vice of problemmaking,” and with these we conclude our sketch of perhaps the strongest living amateur player-problemist ”