On the “glorious twelfth” of August we celebrate the birthday of one of England’s most popular chess players and writers, IM Bill Hartston.
William Roland Hartston was born in Willesden, Middlesex on Tuesday, August 12th, 1947. His father was William Hartston, a significant member of the Royal College of Physicians who was married to Mary Rowland. Bill has a sister.
He studied at the City of London School and then studied mathematics at Jesus College, Cambridge and graduated with a BA in 1968 and an MA in 1972, but did not complete his PhD on number theory.
While studying for his PhD at Cambridge, Hartston developed an intricate system for balancing an entire chess set on top of a single rook. Here is an article with an explanation letter from Bill.
Bill married Dr. Jana Malypetrova in January, 1970 in Cambridge. In 1978 Bill married Elizabeth Bannerman, also in Cambridge and from that marriage he had two sons, James and Nicholas.
Bill became an International Master in 1972 and his highest FIDE rating was 2485 in January 1979.
With the white pieces Bill almost exclusively played 1.e4 and the Ruy Lopez.
With the black pieces Bill played the Sicilian Taimanov and the Czech Benoni.
Bill is a self-proclaimed follower of Prof. AJ Ayer (See the Acknowledgements in “Soft Pawn”) Clint Eastwood and Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Bill was the chess correspondent of The Independent and The Mail on Sunday. He was also a regular presenter and commentator for television. He worked with Jeremy James on the BBC’s Master Game.
Bill is an industrial psychologist.
Curiously the 1984 edition of the usually reliable The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper and Whyld does not have an entry for the twice British Champion : was this simply an oversight ? Jana is also not mentioned.
Bill wrote about himself in British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) :
“To summarise more than 20 years of playing competitive chess in a few hundred words is an impossible task. My attitude to the game has changed a great deal, especially in recent times, but I have always enjoyed and felt at home in the tense and lively atmosphere of chess tournaments, whether as a competitor, spectator or journalist.
I consider myself lucky to have been a ‘promising junior’ just at the time when chess was beginning to be taken seriously as a sport in England. The English team consisted mainly of amateurs and there were clear opportunities for anyone willing to work at the game. As a result of the changing attitudes to the game in this country, the development between 1965, when I first played for the national team, and 1975 was far greater than in any other decade. One statistic which I have always found personally amusing is that I progressed from youngest player in 1967 for the Clare Benedict tournament to become the oldest in the 1971 team. From promising junior to veteran in four years = is this a record ?
Since my second British Championship win in 1975, I have been writing more and playing less. I always realised that I was not going to become a sufficiently strong player to be happy just wandering round the tournament circuit, but giving up chess entirely is, of course, unthinkable. I believe now that the time is ripe for chess to be presented to far wider audiences and I like to think that some of what I do will help in that aim. If the Master Game television series and “Soft Pawn” cannot sell chess to the masses then nothing will.”
“Hartston played hardly at all during the period from my last entry of him in the 1977 diary and that little, though respectable, was hardly the performance of an active master. His equal 3rd to 5th at the big Aaronson’s Masters Tournament (a swiss system event with 72 players) did not really affect his rating and indeed he finished up without changing his Elo rating at all.
Nevertheless, this glimpse of his true powers was impressive as can be seen in the following game which was played in the 6th round of the Aaronson tournament.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess(Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master (1972) and British Champion (1973) William Hartston was born in London on the 12th August 1947. He was taught to play chess by his father when he was seven and five years later joined Enfield Chess Club. His results in junior events included 1st in the London Boys’ Under 16 Championship and 2nd in the British Boys’ Under 15 Championship in 1962 and =2nd in the British Boys Under 18 Championship in 1963.
In 1965, Hartston made his first appearance in the British Championship and came =5th. In the same year he won the Ilford and Paignton Premier tournaments. Playing on board 3 for England in the 1966 Olympiad. Hartston scored the best result of any British player, 66.7%. In the Olympiad of 1970, he had the best overall score on board 3, 12.5 out of 16 and in the Olympiad of 1972 he won the prize for the 3rd best score on board 2, 12.5 out of 18. In 1972 he narrowly failed to qualify for the Interzonal tournament, when he came 3rd in the Zonal tournament at Vranjacka Banja.”
“British International Master and twice British Champion. Hartston was born in London and his early chess was played there., where he became London Boy (Under-16 Champion in 1962.
He was educated at the City of London School and Jesus College, Cambridge, where he took a degree in mathematics.
It soon became clear that he was one of the leading young players in England and a rivalry developed between him and Raymond Keene in which first one and then the other obtained the upper hand.
After a number of near misses he won the British Championship at Eastbourne in 1973 and again at Morecambe in 1975.
Internationally he has already had a distinguished career and has been especially good and consistent in his representation of England at the Olympiads. At Havana in 1966 he scored 66.7% on board 3 but did not play at Lugano in 1968. Again on board 3 at Siegen in 1970 he obtained the best score on board 3 with 78.1%. At Skopje 1972 he fulfilled the second norm of the international master title with 12.5 points out of 18 on second board. Playing on first board at Nice 1974 he attained 52.7% and had a most meritorious and well fought draw with the World Champion, Karpov.
He achieved a breakthrough in the field of international tournament chess when he came third in a strong Premier tournament at Hastings 1972/3
and in 1973 he scored a first at Alicante.
His best tournament result came three years later when he won 1st prize at Sarajevo 1976.
His style of play is sound and competent in all the spheres of the game. That he can be brilliant when necessary he demonstrated his beautiful brilliancy game against the Finnish grandmaster Westerinen at Allicante in 1973. He has a fine, broad knowledge of the openings and has written a number of articles and books on that theme.
A lucid and entertaining writer, he has also appeared with success in BBC Television chess programmes.
Among his chief works are :
The Benoni, London, 1969 The Grunfeld Defence, London, 1971 The Best Games of CHO’D Alexander (with H. Golombek), Oxford, 1976.”
In modern times Bill has made regular appearances with World Cluedo champion, Josef Kollar on Channel Four’s Gogglebox with a pair of painted breasts as background.
Hein Donner : The Biography : Alexander Münninghoff
“Alexander Münninghoff is an award-winning author from the Netherlands. He wrote the acclaimed biography of the man that was dethroned by Hein Donner as Dutch champion: former World Chess Champion Max Euwe. His memoir The Son and Heir, which tells the complex story of the Münninghoff family in the 20th century, is an international bestseller.”
From the rear cover :
“Hein Donner (1927-1988) was a Dutch Grandmaster and one the greatest writers on chess of all time. He was born into a prominent Calvinistic family of lawyers in The Hague.
His father, who had been the Minister of Justice and later became President of the Dutch Supreme Court, detected a keen legal talent in his son. But Hein opted for a bohemian lifestyle as a chess professional and journalist. He scored several excellent tournament victories but never quite fulfilled the promise of his chess talent.
Hein Donner developed from a chess player-writer into a writer-chess player. His provocative writings and his colourful persona made him a national celebrity during the roaring sixties. His book ‘The King’, a fascinating and often hilarious anthology spanning 30 years of chess writing, is a world-wide bestseller and features on many people’s list of favourite chess books. The author Harry Mulisch, his best friend, immortalized Hein Donner in his magnum opus The Discovery of Heaven. In 2001 the book was adapted for film, with Stephen Fry playing the part that was based on Donner. Included in Hein Donner is the interview in which Harry Mulisch tells about his friendship with Donner.
After suffering a stroke at the age of 56, Donner lived his final years in a nursing home. He continued writing however, typing with one finger, and won one of the Netherlands’ most prestigious literary awards. Alexander Münninghoff has written a captivating biography of a controversial man and the turbulent time and age he lived in.”
First, a bit of background. This biography was originally published in Dutch in 1994. Only now, a quarter of a century later, has it appeared in an English translation, partly in response to the success of The King, a collection of Donner’s writings.
Sadly, Alexander Münninghoff died at the age of 76 on 28 April this year, just before the publication of this book.
Johannes Hendrikus Donner (Jan Hein to the chess world, Hein to his friends) was one of the most colourful and controversial chess players of his time. His family have been for many years prominent in politics and law: his father was a government minister, his oldest brother was President of the European Court of Justice, and his nephew also a government minister. It was clear from an early age that Jan Hein was different. Troublesome and obnoxious, lazy but gifted. His father had him assessed by a professor of psychology who found him ‘very egocentric and immature/unbalanced’, with ‘a certain angst, with, in contrast, an inclination towards narcissism, and a sense of inferiority, with, in contrast, an inclination to act tough’.
Possibly the ideal combination of attributes for a chess player and journalist.
What should we make of a man who donated his prize from Venice 1968 to the Viet Cong, on the condition that the proceeds were used to buy machine guns rather than medicines? A man who wrote that women were hopeless at chess and would never learn? A man who used his chess columns to insult his fellow Dutch players, most notably a long running feud with his older contemporary Lodewijk Prins?
Someone, I think, who was deliberately provocative, who spoke and acted to gain a response more than anything else.
Like everyone else, I found The King highly entertaining, but my enjoyment was tempered by the feeling that he was someone I wouldn’t have liked had I known him.
Münninghoff, however, knew him and clearly liked him, and, as an outstanding writer and journalist, was the ideal person to tell the story of Donner’s relatively short but eventful life. This is a conventional biography, following his life from birth to death and, as you might expect, is crammed full of entertaining anecdotes. We learn a lot about his often chaotic personal life (he was married three times) as well as his career both as a chess player and a journalist. There’s also a lot of fascinating information about chess in the Netherlands during the post war decades. It’s not an academic biography, though: a rather inadequate index of names, no sources and few footnotes (I’d have welcomed more).
You might have expected a colourful and provocative player to have a similarly colourful and provocative style, but in fact his play was mostly rather dull, with a lot of short draws. His results were wildly erratic: at his best he could win strong grandmaster tournaments, but these triumphs would be interspersed with disasters. He had wins to his credit against most of the top non-Russians, even including Fischer, but an abysmal record against Soviet grandmasters. (Looking at his games in MegaBase it’s also notable how well he scored against English opponents.) He was also famous for losing a remarkable number of miniatures.
Even so, the games selection at the end is slightly disappointing. Games are sometimes discussed in the text but don’t appear in the book. One example is his 1957 win over Troianescu, which he considered one of his best:
On p128 we’re told that his 1961 loss to Korchnoi appears at the back of the book as game 23. No, it doesn’t: the index tells us Viktor is on p259, but neither he nor the game is anywhere to be seen.
I’m always happy to oblige:
What we actually get is a short collection of 18 games with brief annotations: wins, losses and draws, followed by another 16 short defeats, intended as a supplement to Tim Krabbé’s collection which you can find online here.
Donner would have been amused that his biography should contain more embarrassing defeats than brilliant victories. “I love all positions. Give me a difficult positional game, I’ll play it. Give me a bad position, I’ll defend it. Openings, endgames, complicated positions, and dull, drawn positions, I love them all and will give my best efforts. But totally winning positions I cannot stand.”
Anyone who was following international chess between the 1950s and the 1970s will undoubtedly want to read this book. For younger readers it will be ancient history, but still a highly entertaining read.
If you’ve read The King this book will need no recommendation from me, and, likewise, if you’ve read this book you certainly won’t want to miss The King.
A thoroughly enjoyable, if informal, biography of a fascinating and unusual personality which comes highly recommended, but is slightly let down by the rather perfunctory games section.
Cyrus Lakdawala is an IM and former US Open Champion who teaches chess and has written over 25 books on chess openings.
Writing a modern repertoire book on the Sveshnikov and keeping it below 500 pages is an achievement, but Cyrus Lakdawala has managed it.
One of his latest books, Opening Repertoire – the Sveshnikov, is only 320 pages long, retailing at £18.99 in the UK and published by Everyman Chess (2020).
I say one of his latest books, as Cyrus regularly manages to write 3/4 books a year, all of good quality and they come thick and fast off the press. I can honestly say that I don’t know how he does it. His output is staggering and clearly the product of incredible self-discipline. As a fellow author, nowhere near his league, I salute him.
The Sveshnikov is a current Magnus Carlsen favourite and so if the book is any good at all, it should sell well.
One of my first ports of call was to check out what Cyrus recommended against 7 Nd5, which featured in the Carlsen-Caruana World Championship match.
The problem with repertoire books is that they can become outdated very quickly under the gaze of the silicon genius. Having said that, the chapter on
7 Nd5 is very well written ,with a wealth of interesting suggestions.
I guess the biggest challenge that the Sveshnikov presents is the vast amount of theory that has accumulated. You have to know a lot to begin with and work very hard to keep up to date. This is not everyone’s cup of tea. For me, the Sveshnikov is great for strong players, but I am not so sure about club players. Some of the main line positions are very complex and tactical, where Black is relying on accurate move sequences to see him through. Having said that, when you do get this
opening right as Black, I imagine it can be very satisfying.
I enjoyed Lakdawala’s book and I think you will too. You will need time and energy to absorb it properly. There are extra chapters on the Anti-Sveshnikov, 3 Nc3 and an opening line Lakdawala calls ‘ the Mamba’, where Black substitutes 6…Bc5!? for 6 …d6.
Boroljub Zlatanovic was born in Cuprija, Serbia, 05 August 1977 • Meet chess in 4 years old watching father and his brother playing • Entered first club “Radnicki” Cuprija in 7 years • FM since 1994 ( however, it was recognized in 1998) • Serbian youth champion in 1995 • Champion of Belgrade University in 2001 and 2002 • Many times won Serbian team championship (in youth competition also) • IM since 2014 • FT since 2015 • Winner of many open, blitz and rapid and internet events • Professional coach for more than 15 years • Author and contributor in American chess magazine since 2019
From the rear cover :
“This book would bring something new into your chess library. In computer era focus is usually on openings. Watching broadcasts new generations rather choose games with favorite opening played seeking for some interesting idea or even brilliant novelty. I offer and recommend different concept, based on famous Soviet chess school. Focus should be on understanding strategy concepts, principles and inner logic. Fashionable opening lines will be forgotten (or re-evaluated) sooner or later, but understanding cannot be lost and can be only upgraded. It is sad to see some player well equipped with opening lines, unable to realize big positional advantage in deep endgame. So, our advice is to learn about Strategy and Logic. The book is highly recommended for club players, advanced players and masters, although even higher rated players can find a lot of useful things for themselves. There is no doubt lower rated players will learn a lot about thinking process and making decisions, while some logical principles can be good advice for strong players also.”
Another review :
“Zlatanovic uses a light touch of his notes, limiting the complexity of his analysis and working to clearly explain the logic of positional decisions and ideas. Using examples both well-known and less studied, class and club players are taught quite a bit about basic positional play. I certainly leaned a thing of two. Johh Hartmann – Chess Life – April 2020.”
As with every recent Thinkers Publishing publication high quality paper is used and the printing is clear. The book can easily be laid flat next to the board and does not require weights to prevent it from “self-closing” (a particular bugbear of ours !). Each diagram is clear and the instructional text is typeset in two column format, which, we find, enables the reader to maintain their place easily. Figurine algebraic notation is used throughout and the diagrams are placed adjacent to the relevant text and each diagram has a “to move” indicator.
There is no index which, unfortunately, is a standard omission of Thinkers Publishing books. Also missing is a bibliography.
This is a massive book, over 500 pages and is a collection of classic games, with instructive notes. It is more or less designed for the club player. There is a bit of blurb on the back cover stating that the book will be useful to advanced players and masters, but I am not at all sure about that.
I cannot see advanced players buying this book.
Apparently, the book is based on the same principles as the famous Soviet school of chess. Strategy, logic and understanding should take pride of place, even in our computer era. I agree, but I don’t need the Soviet school of chess to tell me that. I can work that out for myself.
The book is beautifully produced and is very easy to read. It retails at a whopping £29.95 in the UK.
As there are so many books of the same type around, what I was looking for was a bit of originality. At the very least , all of the games should have been from the last 20 years, trying to unravel the complexity of the modern game.
What I found were games that I almost all seen before. There are only 15 games in the entire book that come from the period 2000-2020. None from Magnus Carlsen, for instance. This was disappointing.
Players under 1800 will get the most out of this book and trainers will have a ready source of lesson plans, if they are willing to make what is a hefty investment.
I give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
IM Andrew Martin, Bramley, Surrey 4th August 2020
Book Details :
Hardcover : 512 pages
Publisher:Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (19 Mar. 2020)
BCN Remembers Captain William Davies Evans (27-i-1790 03-viii-1872)
From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984) by Hooper & Whyld :
“Inventor of the Evans gambit, for about half a century one of the most popular attacking weapons. He was born in (Musland Farm in the parish of Saint Dogwells,) Pembroke, Wales, went to sea at the age of 14, was employed by the Postal Department from about 1815, and rose to the rank of captain four years later. In 1824, soon after taking command of the first Royal Mail steam packet to sail from Milford Haven to Waterford, and while aboard, he invented his gambit. Evans was a keen player. He gathered a small chess circle in Waterford, and when on leave in England played chess in London, notably in 1826 when he showed his gambit to Lewis and McDonnell, and in 1838 when he played a long series of games with Staunton at the Westminster Chess Club. In Jan. 1840 he was pensioned off on account of ill-health. He went to Greece, became captain of a steamer that sailed the Mediterranean, and returned to London at the end of 1842. During the next 13 years there are several accounts of his presence in London, and then he settled abroad. He died and was buried in Ostend,
Evans claimed to have solved the three pawns problem (See below) , which, however, had already been solved by others. His claim to the invention of tri-coloured lighting for ships has not been verified independently, although he is known to have investigated the subject. For this invention he states that the Tsar of Russia gave him a gold chronometer, and that he also received money. For a more detailed life of Captain Evans see British Chess Magazine, 1928, pp, 6-18.”
The Evans Gambit is a variation of the Giuoco Piano or Italian Game :
When Evans originally devised his gambit the move order was slightly different :
in which White sacrifices the b-pawn for increased central control and development viz :
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“Inventor of the Evans Gambit, an opening described by a player in the last century as ‘A yellow fever attack : if you live through the initial stages and avoid any carelessness that may bring on a relapse, you will come out alright’.
Captain Evans discovered the gambit in about 1824. It was a favourite opening during the last century and was adopted by a number of leading players including La Bourdonnais and Morphy.
For some years Commander in H.M. Royal Mail Packet Service on the Milford and Waterford station, Captain Evans later became Commander in the P.& O. Company’s service and agent for the Royal Mail Steampacket Company, Port Grande. On retirement he lives for many years in Holland and Belgium.
The story is told of how, in 1870, the Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia, brother of the Tsar, was visiting Bruges when he heard that the inventor of the Evans Gambit was living in Ostend. Being a keen chess player he invited Evans to play a game. When Evans had won, the Grand Duke turned to his adversary and said : ‘I believe you invented the Evans Gambit ?’, ‘Yes’ replied Evans ‘and it’s not the only thing I’ve invented for which you have not paid me.’ ‘What’s the other?’ asked the Grand Duke.
Evans then explained that he was the inventor of the ship’s lights which were being used by the Russian Navy, in which the Grand Duke held the rank of Admiral. Several months later Evans was invited to the Russian Consulate in Ostend, where he was handed a letter from the Grand Duke, a gold chronometer, a gold chain and a draft of money, ostensibly in payment for the Russia’s rights to use the captain’s invention in her ships. ”
Evans analyzed the “Little Game of Chess” (an endgame composition involving only two kings with three pawns each)
to independently discover that it actually won for the player who moves first, not drawn as had been believed for over a hundred years.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek we have :
“After his retirement Evans went to live abroad and eventually found a haven is Ostend and there, ill, and almost blind and in very straightened circumstances, he dictated a letter on 22 March 1871, which was published in the Gentlemen’s Journal supplement for June 1872, along with an appeal for him organised by George Walker. The letter gives the authentic facts of his life and is worth quoting in full, if only to refute various unfounded reports about a meeting with the Tsar’s brother, or according to that rich source of misinformation, the Rev GA MacDonnell, that the Evans Gambit was discovered off the coast of Africa by a middle-aged lieutenant in the Royal Navy -perhaps the reverend gentleman was confusing Waterford with the Canary Islands.
The letter runs :
Williams Davies Evans is a native of Pembrokeshire, South Wales, and was born on 27 January 1790. He commenced a naval career at the age of fourteen. He was about twenty-eight years of age when he first learnt the moves of the game of Chess. Having the advantage of frequent practise with Lieut H. Wilson, R.N., who was a player of some reputation in his time, beside corresponding on the subject of the game with the late Mr. W. Lewis, and also with George Walker, the able Chess Editor of Bell’s Life , he made a rapid progress in the game. Captain Evans received at first the odds of a Rook from Lieut. Wilson. After a continuance of play for some years, the odds were greatly reduced, until ultimately Captain Evans succeeded in defeating his formidable antagonist playing even.
About the year 1824, being then in command of a Government Mail Steamer, the passages between Milford Haven and Waterford were favourable to the study of the game of Chess and at this time he invented the Gambit, which bears his name. The idea occurred to him while studying a narration of Giuoco Piano in Sarratts’s Treatise on Chess.
Captain Evans was the first who gave to the world a true solution of that very difficult end game, the King and three Pawns unmoved against King and three Pawns also unmoved. This position was handed down to us through a period of some centuries as a drawn game, but Captain Evans proved that the first player can always win.
Captain Evans acquired some celebrity as “Inventor of the System of Tri-Coloured Lights for Ships to Prevent Collisions at Night”, which has been adopted by all nations possessing a marine. For this invention the English Government awarded him the sum of £1,500 , and the Czar of Russia a gold pocket chronometer, value £160, together with a donation of £200.
The subscription that amounted to over £200 was too late. He died in 1872 and was buried in Ostend where his grave bears the inscription :
To the sacred memory of William Davies Evans, formerly Commander in the Post Office and Peninsular and Oriental Steam Services, Superintendent In the Royal Mail Shipping Company, and inventor of the system of tri-coloured light for shipping. Also well known in the Chess World as the author of the Evans Gambit
BCN sends Best Wishes to CM David Anderton OBE on his birthday (02-viii-1941)
David William Anderton was born in the district of Walsall, West Midlands. His mother’s maiden name was Coltart and David continues to reside in Walsall.
David is married to Margaret.
David is an Honorary Life Vice-President of the English (formerly British) Chess Federation.
“David won the ECF President’s Award in 2009 following his stepping down as ECF legal expert. This is the citation from the 2010 ECF Yearbook : As this is Gerry Walsh’s last year as President it was considered appropriate that he be allowed to choose someone receive the award. Gerry has worked with David for all his time with BCF and ECF and has selected him due to his tireless and selfless devotion to both the BCF and ECF over many years.
Most of you will know David and will agree that this is a well deserved award. It is fair to state that David’s assistance over the years has been invaluable and that without it many areas of the Federation would have found it difficult, if not impossible to operate.
Since my election David has been a constant friend and confidante. He has invariable given sound advice throughout my term of office. It was John Wickham who rang me and suggested that due to my length of tenure, a special award might be in order.
After years of selfless and generous devotion serving as ECF President, International Director, Captain of the England Team and legal adviser, this seems to be a fitting tribute.
David’s advice both legal and general, has been invaluable in such matters as the John Robinson legacy and the change of name from BCF to ECF Limited, and I certainly hope that this advice will continue.
David is a FIDE Candidate Master.
With the White pieces David exclusively plays 1.d4 aiming for a Queen’s Gambit and main lines.
With Black David plays the Winawer and the Classical French plus the Lenningrad Dutch.
BCN wishes happy birthday to Barry Barnes (01-viii-1937)
Barry Peter Barnes was born in Brighton and his mother’s maiden name was Simpole. (Barry is a cousin of Julian Ivan Peter Simpole, who was a Brighton school teacher and who taught Edward Gerard Winter to play chess).
Barry now lives in Halling, Rochester, Kent with his wife Jean.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master of FIDE for Chess Compositions (1967) and International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions (1967).
Born on 1st August 1937, Barnes works in transport advertising. He has composed about 250 two-move problems. With Lipton and Rice, he has contributed to the advance of the modern two-mover. Problem Editor of Two-Move and Twin sections of The Problemist. Co-author with M.Lipton and JM Rice of The Two-Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development (Faber and Faber 1966).
“A promising career as a county chess player came to an end when I was given Brian Harley’s classic book Mate in Two Moves in the belief that it would help my chess, but it had quite the opposite effect. My interest in competitive chess waned, and I was on the road to an an International Master title for problems!
Early influences in my problem career were the weekly chess problem solving competition in The Observer (my first problem published there was in 1955), a teenage friendship with J. M. Rice and M. Lipton (both now lnternational Masters), Herbert Grasemann’s book Problem Schach / with its near revolutionary post-war German problem ideas, and the expert British problemist, A. R. Gooderson who had I but known it only a few years earlier was the officiating master when my Hove Grammar School played Steyning Grammar at chess.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the genuinely original problems I was making in cooperation and in competition with Rice and Lipton were being published mostly abroad in such specialist problem magazines as Die Schwatbe (with its inspired two-move editor, Hermann Albrecht) where I gained the epithet,the English prize-snatcher’! It was also written that the work of the avant_garde composers, Rice, Lipton and Barnes, was like a fresh two-move wind blowing from our island. It was sad but true at that time that the specialist magazine of the British Chess problem Society (founded 1918), The problemist, was unreceptive to change and our often bizarre ideas.
A milestone of sorts was reached when I won lst prize for problem I in 1958, a prize for the best new problem by a member of the British Commonwealth aged under 21. In 1966, I was invited by problemist Grandmaster Comins Mansfield, who was President of the FIDE Problem Commission, to act as Secretary at the Barcelona meeting. With Mr. Mansfield’s retirement, I became the British Member to the Commission, and at the Wiesbaden meeting, 1974, I was elected 2nd Vice-President. (1st Vice-President from 1982)
The FIDE Problem Commission meets annually to discuss matters relating to all branches of problem chess, to organize the World Chess Composing Tournament (WCCT), the World Chess Solving Competition (WCSC), and to publish FIDE Album anthologies of the best problems. It was on the strength of my success in these FIDE Albums that the Commission granted me the titles in 1967 of ‘lnternational Master of the FIDE for Chess Composition’ and ‘lnternational Judge of the FIDE for Chess Composition’. Since 1974, I have been Chairman of the Titles Sub-Committee of the Commission.
Since 1965, I have been the two-move editor of The Problemist and have served almost without break on the BCPS Committee. I have contributed to The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks (Robert Hale, 1970), I am co-author, with J. M. Rice and M. Lipton, of The Two-Move Chess Problem: Tradition & Development‘ (Faber A Faber, 1966), and I am the sole author of Comins Mansfield MBE: Chess Problems of a Grandmaster: (British Chess Problem Society, 1976) and Pick of the Best Chess Problems (Elliot Right Way Books, 1976)
To date I have made just over 300 two-movers and some helpmates.”
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