Grandmaster Repertoire 1.e4 vs Minor Defences

Grandmaster Repertoire : 1.e4 vs Minor Defences, Parimarjan Negi, Quality Chess, 2020
Grandmaster Repertoire : 1.e4 vs Minor Defences, Parimarjan Negi, Quality Chess, 2020

From the Publisher :

“The fifth volume of the Grandmaster Repertoire – 1.e4 series provides a top-class repertoire against the Alekhine, Scandinavian, Pirc and Modern Defenses, plus various offbeat alternatives Black may try. Negi’s latest work continues the winning formula of his previous books: the 1.e4 repertoire is founded on established main lines and turbo-charged with the innovative ideas of a world-class theoretician, making this an essential addition to the library of every ambitious chess player.”

GM Parimarjan Negi
GM Parimarjan Negi

I suspect that some of the keen proponents of these openings would strongly disagree that their pet opening is a minor defence to e4. Indeed, the popularity of some of these defences, in particular, the Scandinavian, would suggest that these openings are not easy for white  to meet and the first player has to work hard to gain an advantage out of the opening. The sheer size of this volume shows that these so called lesser defences are pretty resilient.

This is where this book comes in, the quality of the analysis is impressive and there are plenty of original suggestions backed up by concrete lines and analysis which will arm the white player with much material.  There is plenty of explanatory text that elucidates the main positional ideas in each chapter. The author pays particular attention to move order considerations which are particularly pertinent in the Pirc/Modern complex of openings.

As the title suggests, this is a book written from a 1.e4 white player’s point of view but there are many instances where Negi gives alternative variations for the first player to try. The suggested repertoire is generally dynamic and attacking but there are plenty of lines where white nurses a space advantage and positional pressure.

The book is divided into four sections:

  1. Alekhine
  2. Scandinavian
  3. Pirc/Modern
  4. Miscellaneous

Each section in then partitioned into logical chapters covering the major variations. The author skillfully manages transpositions with good cross references.

The first section on the Alekhine recommends the solid, Modern Variation with 4.Nf3 which is usually played at GM level. One particular line that has fascinated me for years is the variation 1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4.Nf3 dxe5 5.Nf3 Nd7 where black goads white into the tempting 6.Nf7. Bent Larsen tried this against Bobby Fischer in a blitz game  in 1966 and was duly crushed. This line has been in the repertoire of some decent players and white, even when handled by an IM, has gone wrong and not pressed home the attack. The following game demonstrates this, but in the notes gives the refutation to this provocative fifth move. The author acknowledges that some of the analysis is taken from a book by John Shaw.

Eric Prie – Igor Alexandre Nataf Andorra op 15th 1997

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. Nf3 dxe5 5. Nxe5 Nd7? A provocative move, Bent Larsen famously played this in a blitz game v Bobby Fischer in 1966 and was crushed. 6. Nxf7

Prie-Nataf(Move 6)
Prie-Nataf(Move 6)

Kxf7 7. Qh5+ Ke6 8. c4 N5f6 9. d5+ Kd6 10. Qf7!

Prie-Nataf(Move 10)
Prie-Nataf(Move 10)

10…Ne5 11. Bf4 c5 12. Nc3 a6 13. b4!

Prie-Nataf(Move 13)
Prie-Nataf(Move 13)

Qb6 (13… b6 Black’s best try 14. Bd3! g6 15. bxc5+ bxc5 16. Rb1!!

Prie-Nataf(Variation Move 16)
Prie-Nataf(Variation Move 16)

An engine discovery, winning stylishly 16… Bh6 17. Rb7! Bd7 (17… Bxf4 18. Qxf6+ exf6 19. Ne4# Is the pretty point!

Prie-Nataf(Variation Move 19)
Prie-Nataf(Variation Move 19)

or17… Bxb7 18. Qe6+ Kc7 19. Bxe5+ Wins trivially) 18. Bg3 Rb8 19. Rxb8 Qxb8 20. O-O Qf8 21. Re1 Nfg4 22. Qf3!! Qxf3 23. gxf3 Rf8 24. Ne4+ Kc7 25. fxg4 Bf4 26. Be2 White has a winning endgame but some technique is still required to convert the extra pawn.)

Prie-Nataf(Variation Move 26)
Prie-Nataf(Variation Move 26)

14. Rc1 g6 15. Be2 Qc7

Prie-Nataf(Move 15)
Prie-Nataf(Move 15)

16. Na4? This is poor (16. bxc5+! Winning but care is still required. Qxc5 17. Bxe5+! Kxe5 18. O-O White a winning attack: Intending a combination of Rfe1, Na4, Bf3 and c4-c5, an example variation is given: Bh6 19. Na4 Qa3 20. Rc3 Qxa4 21. Qxe7+ Kd4 22. Rd3+ wins) 16… Bh6 ! 17. bxc5+?  The final mistake (17. Bxe5+ Kxe5 18. f4+ Bxf4 19. Rd1 Bf5 20. g3 Raf8 21. gxf4+ Kd6 22. Qg7 b6 Black is probably better, but white can still fight) 17… Kd7

Prie-Nataf(Move 15)
Prie-Nataf(Move 15)

Now white is dead, the queens’s come off and he is left a piece down.} 18. Qe6+ Ke8 19. Qxe5 Bxf4 20. Qxc7 Bxc7 21. Nb6 Rb8 22. Bf3 Nd7 23. Nxd7 Ba5+ 24. Ke2 Bxd7 25. Kd3 Bb4 26. c6 bxc6 27. dxc6 Bf5+ 28. Ke2 Bc5 0-1

The second section deals with the Scandinavian. The Pytel variation 3…Qd6 is very trendy and this is one of the first chapters that I turned to. Here is an entertaining win by white in the 5…Bg4 line.

R. Horvath – P. Fauland 2018

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd6 4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 Bg4 6. h3 Bxf3 (6…Bh5 7.g4 Bg7 8.Ne5 Nbd7 9. Qe2! is a good pawn sac) 7. Qxf3

Horvath-Fauland(Move 7)
Horvath-Fauland(Move 7)

c6 ( 7… Nc6 8. Bf4 is good for white) 8. Bf4 Qd8 (8… Qxd4 9. Nb5! Is more or less winning)


9. d5! A crushing blow opening up the position for the better developed side

Horvath-Fauland(Move 9)
Horvath-Fauland(Move 9)

Nxd5 (9… cxd5 10. Bxb8 Followed by Bb5+
leads to major problems for black) 10. O-O-O e6 11. Nxd5 cxd5 (11… exd5 12.Qg3! Black finds it impossible to develop)


12. Bxb8 Qxb8 13. Bb5+ Ke7 14. Rhe1

Horvath-Fauland(Move 14)
Horvath-Fauland(Move 14)

a6 (14… g6 Is too slow 15. Rxd5 Bh6+ 16. Kb1 Rd8 17. Rxd8 Qxd8 18. Rd1 winning) 15. Qxd5! The play is now totally forcing. White has a forced mate or win of queen. axb5 16. Qg5+ Ke8 17. Qxb5+ Ke7 18. Qg5+ Ke8 19. Qb5+ Ke7 20. Rd7+ Kf6 21. Rxf7+!

Horvath-Fauland(Move 21)
Horvath-Fauland(Move 21)

Kxf7 22. Qd7+ Be7 23. Qxe6+ Kf8 24. Qxe7+ Kg8 25. Qe6+ Kf8 26. Qf5+ Kg8 27. Qd5+ Kf8 28. Qf5+ Kg8 29. Re7 Qe8 30. Qd5+ Kf8 31. Rxe8+ Rxe8 32. Qxb7 Black should have resigned here

Horvath-Fauland(Move 32)
Horvath-Fauland(Move 32)

g6 33. a4 Re7 34. Qc8+ Kg7 35. Qc3+ Kg8 36. a5 h6 37. a6
Kh7 38. b4 Rf8 39. Qc5 Ref7 40. b5 Rf5 41. Qc7+ R8f7 42. Qb8 1-0

The third sections deals with the Pirc/Modern complex. The repertoire suggested is the 150 Attack but is far more subtle than that, as white varies his setup according to the myriad black setups available. Below, is an instructive, thematic win by the editor, Andrew Greet.

Greet – Volovoj Correspondence 2019

1. e4 g6 2. d4 Bg7 3. Nc3 d6 4. Be3 a6 5. Nf3 Nd7!? 6. Bd3 e6 A bit

Greet-Valovoj(Move 6)
Greet-Valovoj(Move 6)

7. Qd2 h6 8. O-O-O Ne7 9. e5 d5 10. h4! b6? 11. h5! g5 12. Nxg5! Crying out to be played and good, essentially winning

Greet-Valovoj(Move 6)
Greet-Valovoj(Move 6)

12…c5 (12… hxg5 13. Bxg5 Bb7 14. Ne2 c5 15. h6 Bf8 16. c3 Black is
defenceless on the kingside

Greet-Valovoj(Move 6)
Greet-Valovoj(Move 6)

13. Nxf7! Kxf7 14. f4 Black is a piece
for two pawns up, but he is poorly coordinated and cannot stop the advance of the pawns.


Kg8 15. g4 cxd4 16. Bxd4 Nc6 17. Bf2 Nc5 18. Bg6 Bb7 19. Rhe1 Qe7 20. Nxd5 A stylish finish


exd5 21. Bh4  Qd7 22. Bf5 Qc7 23. Qxd5+ Kf8 24. Qc4 a5 25. e6 1-0

The final section is on miscellaneous opening such as Owen’s Defence and the Nimzowitsch Defence.

I give an example of an offbeat line that is outrageous but not easy to refute, particularly in a blitz game. In this game, a 2400 player shows how to crush it.

Santo Roman – Palleja Toulouse 2000

1. e4 Nc6 2. Nf3 f5? 3. exf5 d5 4. d4 Bxf5 5. Bb5 e6 6. Ne5 Nge7 7. Nc3!

Santo Roman-Palleja(Move 7)
Santo Roman-Palleja(Move 7)

7…a6 (7… Qd6 8. Bf4 Is horrid for black) 8. Ba4 b5? (8…
Rb8 9. Bg5!Qd6 10. f4! b5 11. Bb3 Nc8?! (11… h6 Black can stay
in the game albeit with a lousy position) 12. Bxe7 Nxe7 13. O-O
Simple development leaves white with a big plus, or 13.g4) 9. Nxb5 axb5 10. Bxb5 Qd6 11. c3 Ra6 12. Bf4! Rb6 13. Qa4

Santo Roman-Palleja(Move 13)
Santo Roman-Palleja(Move 13)

13…Bc2 14. b3 g5 15. Bxg5 Rg8 16. Bxe7 Bxe7 17. Bxc6+ Kf8 18. O-O  Black struggled on until move 37 but could have resigned here

Santo Roman-Palleja(Move 18)
Santo Roman-Palleja(Move 18)

Kg7 19. f4 Bf6 20. Bb5 Rgb8 21. Be2 Rd8 22. Rac1 Be4 23. b4 Qe7 24. Qd1 Kh8 25. a4 Bxe5 26. fxe5 Rbb8 27. Bd3 Qh4 28. Bxe4 dxe4 29. Qd2 Rf8 30. Qe3 Qg4 31. a5 Rg8 32. Rc2 Rbf8 33. Rxf8 Rxf8 34. Re2 Qf5 35. Rf2 Qh5 36. Rxf8+ Kg7 37. Rf1 1-0

My conclusion is that this is an excellent repertoire book for white, packed full of top quality analysis and much original analysis.

FM Richard Webb, Chineham, Hampshire, 19th December 2020

FM Richard Webb
FM Richard Webb
  • Paperback : 432 pages
  • Publisher:Quality Chess UK LLP (30 Sept. 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1784830771
  • ISBN-13: 978-1784830779
  • Product Dimensions: 17.42 x 1.96 x 24.16 cm

Official web site of Quality Chess

Grandmaster Repertoire : 1.e4 vs Minor Defences, Parimarjan Negi, Quality Chess, 2020
Grandmaster Repertoire : 1.e4 vs Minor Defences, Parimarjan Negi, Quality Chess, 2020

Remembering IM William Winter (11-ix-1897 18-xii-1955)

William Winter, British Open Chess Champion, 1934. The verso frontispiece of Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936
William Winter, British Open Chess Champion, 1934. The verso frontispiece of Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936
Author's inscription from Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936
Author’s inscription from Chess for Match Players, William Winter, London, Lawrence & Wishart, 1st edition. 1936

We remember William (Willy) Winter who passed away on Sunday, December 18th, 1955.This is some variation from sources who quote his Date of Birth. All have 11th of September but vary by the year giving either 1898 or 1899. However careful research by John Townsend (Wokingham) gives 1897 and this work is cited by Edward Winter.

His father was William Henderson Winter and his mother Margaret Winter. He was born in Medstead, Hampshire. In the 1911 census their address was recorded as “The Boynes”,  Four Marks, Alton, Hampshire and the family had two servants : a cook and a housemaid. In 1936 Winter lived at The Old Cottage, North Road, Three Bridges, Sussex.

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

“International Master, chess. professional and British Champion in 1935 and 1936, William Winter is one of the most colourful  figures that British chess has produced. A born bohemian, Winter could on many occasions have been mistaken for a tramp, yet he was equally capable of turning up at a dinner or some other official occasion, well-groomed and looking the split image of his famous uncle, Sir James Barrie, and making a speech of such wit and culture that every other speech would seem flat.

Born in Medstead in Hampshire on 11th September 1898, of Scottish parentage. Winter’s mother was the youngest sister of Sir James Barrie, and his father a brilliant scholar who had entered St. Andrew’s University at the age of 16, taken honours in classics and then won a scholarship to Cambridge to read mathematics.

Winter was taught to play.chess by his father, who was a strong player, when he was 12. From the time he was introduced to the game his main aim in life was to become a first-class player, and his previous interest, cricket, had to take a back seat.

When he was 15, he joined the city of London Chess club, one of the leading clubs in the country, and his game-rapidly improved. He went up to Cambridge to read law for a year during-the l9l4-l9l8 war, before he became of age for military service and joined the Honourable Artillery Company. While he was stationed at Leeds he learned that the British champion, F. D. Yates, and the Mexican master, A. G. Conde, were in the habit of playing chess on a Saturday afternoon in a café in Bradford.

Winter started going to this café and made the acquaintance of the two masters, who would occasionally give him a game.

On returning to Cambridge when the war was over, Winter became President of the University Chess Club and also started to take an active interest in politics. He joined the University Socialist Society and the local branch of the Independent Labour Party, and when the Communist Party was formed he became a Communist.

In 1919 Winter became Cambridge University Champion and won a match against R. H. V. Scott, a leading British player, by a score of 4-2, thereby securing for himself an invitation to play in the Victory Congress at Hastings. His lack of experience of master play proved too great a handicap, and he came 11th out of 12.

Edo rating profile for William Winter from
Edo rating profile for William Winter from

On leaving Cambridge after taking his degree in 1919, Winter persuaded his parents to allow him a year in which to play chess before settling down to a career. He hoped that during that year he might be able to prove that he had sufficient talent to become a professional player. This did not prove the case, and Winter had to resign himself to becoming a solicitor.

In 1921 he became articled to a London firm, but after a dispute with his father, which resulted in his allowance being stopped, Winter had to give up his articles and decided to concentrate his energies on politics. He went to live in Bristol and addressed open-air meetings all over the city on behalf of the Communist party, until he was arrested for sedition and sentenced to six months imprisonment. After his release Winter continued his political activities until he was forced to abandon them on medical advice.

Having given up politics, Winter decided to try his luck as a chess professional. This proved to be a success, and within two years he was making a reasonable living teaching the game, playing games for fees at St. George’s Cafe in St. Martin’s Lane in London and writing for The Manchester Guardian and The Daily Worker.

Winter remained a chess professional for the rest of his life, apart from the war years. He wrote two chess best sellers: Chess for Match Players, published in 1936

Chess for Match Players, William Winter, Carroll & Nicholson, 1936
Chess for Match Players, William Winter, Carroll & Nicholson, 1936

and reprinted in 1951, and Kings of Chess;

Kings of Chess, William Winter, Carroll and Nicholson Ltd, 1954
Kings of Chess, William Winter, Carroll and Nicholson Ltd, 1954

and was coauthor with F. D. Yates of Modern Master Play,

Modern Master Play, FD Yates and W. Winter, 1930
Modern Master Play, FD Yates and W. Winter, 1930

and with FD Yates of World Championship Candidates Tournament, 1953.

Winter never reached the very highest ranks as a player, although he won the British Championship twice and represented his country in four Chess Olympiads: Hamburg in 1930, Prague in 1931, Folkestone in 1933 and Warsaw in 1935. In the Great Britain v. U.S.S.R. radio match in 1946 he defeated Bronstein in the first round and then characteristically went out and celebrated his victory in such a way that his defeat in the return round was inevitable.

William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)

Although he achieved no great successes in international tournaments, in individual games he beat many of the world’s leading players, including Nimzowitsch and Vidmar, and had draws against Capablanca and Botvinnik among others.

William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)

He died of tuberculosis in London in December 1955, after refusing to go into a sanatorium.”

In Kings, Commoners and Knaves, (Russell Enterprises, 1999), page 393 Winter quotes Winter (!) from Chess Masterpieces (Marshall) as follows :

I consider [Winter v Vidmar, London, 1927] to be my best game partly on account of the eminence of my opponent and partly because of the importance of the occasion on which it was played, and also because on three occasions in which the situation was extremely complicated. I was fortunate enough to discover the only continuation which not only was necessary to secure victory, but to actually save the game

Here is that game :

From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :

The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match, E. Klein and W. Winter (1947, Pitman)
The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match, E. Klein and W. Winter (1947, Pitman)

“W. Winter was born in 1899 in Hampshire. A Cambridge graduate in Law, he devoted himself eventually entirely to chess and is the only Englishman who, despite all vicissitudes, has faithfully remained a professional. After winning the Cambridge University Championship in 1921 he competed in a number of international tournaments. His outstanding performance was in the tournament in Scarborough 1928, which he won. He won the British Championship in 1935 and 1936, and has represented his country on four occasions in international team tournaments. In Hamburg, 1930, he was undefeated.

Scene at London. From left to right - Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas
Scene at London. From left to right – Seated : Fairhurst, List and Winter in play. Standing König and Sir George Thomas

His literary activities include Chess for Match Players and The Alekhine-Capablanca World Title Match, 1927. He edits the chess column in the Soviet Weekly.

Games Played In the World's Championship Match between Jose Paul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, FD Yates and W, Winter, 1928, Printing Craft Limited
Games Played In the World’s Championship Match between Jose Paul Capablanca and Alexander Alekhine, FD Yates and W, Winter, 1928, Printing Craft Limited

His chess record is erratic and does not reflect his true ability. He is capable of some of the finest chess, but often plays too impulsively. His greatest strength lies in King’s side attacks. which he handles with skill and accomplishment.”

William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)
William Winter (11-IX-1898, 18-XII-1955)

From the Preface of The World Chess Championship : 1951 by Lionel Sharples Penrose we have :

“Mr. Winter’s chess career has been a long one and he occupies an extremely high position among British players. He has been British Champion twice, in 1935 and 1936. Among other notable successes was his first place in the Scarborough International Tournament in 1928. He defeated Nimzovich in the London Tournament in 1927. Against the present world championship contenders he has a very fine score, a draw against Botvinnik at Nottingham in 1936 and a win and a loss against Bronstein in the Radio Match, Great Britain v U.S.S.R. in 1946. Mr. Winter is a specialist in writing about the art of chess, and players throughout the country owe a great deal to his deep and logical expositions.”

Games Played in the World's Championship Match between Alexander Alekhin (Holder of the Title) and E D Bogoljubow (Challenger), Printing Craft Limited, 1930, FD Yates and W. Winter
Games Played in the World’s Championship Match between Alexander Alekhin (Holder of the Title) and E D Bogoljubow (Challenger), Printing Craft Limited, 1930, FD Yates and W. Winter

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

International Master and twice British Champion (1935 and 1936), Winter was an excellent illustration of Réti’s thesis that players tend to be opposite over the board to their character in real life. Over the board he was classical, scientific and sober; away from the board he was revolutionary, moved by his emotions (he contrived to be both a fervent Communist and a staunch patriot), and more often than not, drunk.

His university career, where he read law, coincided with the First World War and, after a brief interruption for military service he returned to Cambridge where in 1919 he became university champion and defeated R. H. V. Scott (a strong player who won the British Championship in 1920) in a match by 4-2. On the strength of this he was invited to play in the Hastings Victory tournament of 1919 where, however, he did badly, coming 11th out of 12.

William Winter (11-ix-1897, 18-xii-1955)
William Winter (11-ix-1897, 18-xii-1955)

After an interval during which he fervently pursued a political career to such an extent as to incur a six-months prison sentence for sedition (Winter always denied the sedition and said that the charge was trumped-up one), he took up the career of chess professional. The life suited him since it enabled him to lead the kind of Bohemian existence that pleased his artistic temperament. It should be mentioned that he was a nephew of Sir James Barrie and would have fitted in well on one of his uncle’s plays.

As a player he was eminently sound and, being an apostle of Tarrasch, a fine clear strategist. But he was lacking in tactical ability and his poor health and his way of life interfered with his consistency and impaired his stamina. But he had a number of fine victories over great players (Bronstein, Nimzowitsch and Vidmar for example).

IM William Winter (11-ix-1898, 18-xii-1955)
IM William Winter (11-ix-1897, 18-xii-1955)

He played in four Olympiads: Hamburg 1930 (scoring 76.7% on 4th board), Prague 1931 (58.8% on 4th board), Folkestone 1933 (59.1% on 3rd board) and Warsaw 1935 (41.7% on 1st board). He was selected to play at Stockholm in 1937 but, having “lost” his passport three times. he was refused a fresh one by the authorities.

His best international individual results were =6th at London 1927, and =5th at Lodz 1935.

His career as a chess journalist (he wrote for the Manchester Guardian following FD Yates and the Daily Worker) was somewhat impeded and spoilt by his Bohemian ways, be he wrote some excellent works on chess : Chess for Match Players, London, 1936″

Winter was a popular subject for his Swiss namesake, Edward Winter and there are several mentions in his excellent books.

In Chess Facts and Fables (McFarland, 2006) we have Chess Note 2819, page 71 which shows a photograph (from CHESS, November 1935) taken in Poland of Winter and Max Krauser, Heavyweight wrestling Champion of Europe. Quite what the occasion we are not told.

Here is an excellent article (as you’d expect) from Edward Winter

Apart from all of the contributions above possibly the most comprehensive comes from FM Steve Giddins writing in three parts in British Chess Magazine, during 2006 and 2007 :

Since our article was published we were contacted by Steve Giddins who informed us that he owned the copyright to the articles rather than BCM and that he did not wish us to make them available via this article.

In the “Mid-October” issue of CHESS for 1962, (Volume 27, Number 418)  we had the following announcement:


Edited by David Hooper, will be serialised in CHESS commencing with our next number. Nephew of Sir James Barrie, twice British Chess Champion, a lifelong Communist and freethinker, imprisoned for his political views, “Willie Winter”, with his Bohemian way of life, was undoubtedly the most colourful figure in British Chess for many decades irrespective of whether you agree with his views (most readers may not!), you will find him a delightful writer whose gifted pen draws you engrossed from page to Page.

In the November issue of CHESS for 1962, (Volume 28, Number 419, pp.1-2)  we had Part I:

A first Instalment

Most people when I tell them that I am a Professional chess player look on me as if I were some kind of fabulous monster. I don’t know why this should be so. Golf professionals, billiards professionals, and lawn tennis professionals are taken for granted, and surely chess players have far more need of professional assistance than the devotees of any of these pursuits. The work of the professional at every form of game or sport largely consists of teaching, and the complexities of chess are such that no player can hope to achieve even a modicum of success without the skilled guidance which only a. professional can give. I am glad to see that this is becoming widely recognised and far more aspirants are availing themselves of the services of the ‘pro’ than was the case when I first took on the job. There is of course much more to our work than teaching. I shall have plenty to say about the varied scope of our activities later on. Now I want to tell something about myself.

A Hampshire-reared Scot

I was born at the back-end of last century at Medstead, a small village in the heart of Hampshire. Both my parents were Scots, my father being quite a distinguished scholar. Entering the University of St. Andrews at the early age of 16 he took honours in classics, and then finding himself rather at a loose end he took to the study of mathematics, won a scholarship to Clare College Cambridge and became a Wrangler. Probably he could have gained a Fellowship, but he had a passion for country life and took advantage of a small legacy to buy the house at Medstead and eke out his income by taking private pupils. I may say that he made a great success of this. He was a superb teacher, especially of rather backward boys, and was responsible for squeezing more moronic creatures past the entrance exams at both Oxford and Cambridge than one could have believed possible.

I must also mention that he was a very good amateur chess player. At one time he took lessons from the English professional master H. E. Bird, and possessed a number of his books. However, when he settled at Medstead lack of opponents compelled him to give up the practice of the game.

Sir James Barrie

My mother also had claims to distinction, though perhaps rather vicariously. She was the youngest and the favourite sister of the great J. M. Barrie who seemed to tower over my boyhood like some colossal ogre. A benevolent ogre it is true, who produced handsome presents and provided the wherewithal for holidays which would otherwise have been quite beyond our reach, but I never felt quite sure when he might not start: “fee, fi, fo, fum!” My mother’s desperate anxiety to please him in every thing was responsible for this attitude of mind: “What will Jamie think? What will Jamie say?” Actually he was quite harmless and, I imagine, did not think very much about us. We were far removed from the aristocratic circle which was already taking him to its bosom in Town.

Gifted parents

My mother was by no means without talents of her own. ‘She was a pianist of considerable skill and had a singing voice of such quality that my uncle toyed with the idea of having her trained for the concert stage. Her poor health (she was always
delicate) held up the idea and it was finally abandoned on her marriage and retirement into the country. She had her baby grand piano and practised Scottish folk songs in the drawing room, but Medstead was not I fear, capable of providing an appreciative audience. Unfortunately she was the complete opposite of my father in that she took not the slightest interest in the country avocations which were his joy.

Our fowls he regarded as nasty creatures who scratched up her flower beds, and an encounter with a gobbling turkeycock was sufficient to send her into hysterics. Looking back, I think she was happy enough when I was young and she could give her time to looking after me. When I became older and no longer had need of her care then she became unutterably bored and frustrated, and at odds with life in general. Unfortunately she took refuge in a sort of religious mysticism which undoubtedly affected her otherwise excellent brain.

There were four persons in her Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, and God Sir James Barrie – who often became so inextricably mixed that it was difficult to know of which she was speaking. All this was of course a great grief to my father who was a Christian in the sense that it never occurred to him to be anything else but thought that religion was a thing to be trotted out only on Sundays.

He was however always kind, and it was only at the end of his life that he told me how much he had to put up with. A little I saw for myself, and at times it made me vaguely unhappy, but I soon forgot it in the abundant pleasures that were mine. “The Boynes,” as our house was called. was an ideal place in which to bring up a boy. It was a low white stone building standing in its own grounds and surrounded by a red brick wall.

The garden, apart from a drive to the front door and a croquet lawn had been allowed to run wild and it was ideal for such sports as Indians and Cowboys, Bushrangers or hide-and-seek. It possessed a marvellous collection of beeches, both the ordinary green and the cooper varieties, and in the spring and late autumn it was a sight to be hold. There was also a kitchen garden where we grew all our own vegetables but this was tucked discreetly away at the back of the house.

Inebriate family ghost

The house was all on the one floor, the only stairs being those leading to the cellar. It was built round a long passage lit in the day-time by a skylight, with three rooms opening off each side. This passage ran from the entrance hall to the door opening on the servants quarters, the aforesaid cellar, and some store rooms.

Around this rather curious architecture there hung a tale. The house was built in the Regency days by a gentleman by the
name of Ivy, who after his evenings- potations was quite incapable of negotiating any stair. He lived alone apart from a man servant who, not unnaturally soon began to find existence somewhat wearisome.

Accordingly he developed the habit of slipping out to the village inn after he had ensconced his master with his nightly quota of bottles. Unfortunately one night Mr. Ivy felt more thirsty even than usual, and after finishing his last bottle rang for the servant to bring more. Receiving no reply to repeated jangling’s he decided to deal with the matter personally but he had overestimated his capacity, and when the butler returned he found his master dead with a broken neck at the foot of the cellar stairs. Filled with he hanged himself on a large hook in the back passage, and his ghost is still supposed to haunt the house.

The haunting takes the form of a butler carrying e tray, who at ten o’clock in the evening emerges from the service door, walks halfway down the main passage and then vanishes. I never saw this apparition myself, not to my knowledge did my parents, but the older. villagers always made an excuse to leave the house before the fateful hour of l0 p.m, and one housemaid gave notice because. she said ‘Something frit her’. She could not, or would not, be more explicit.

In the December issue of CHESS for 1962, (Volume 28, Number 420-1, pp.28-33)  we had Part II:

On the whole I had a very happy boyhood. Lessons I found fairly easy and I was able to pass such exams as were necessary without undue swotting. I did not share my father’s aptitude for mathematics and won little or no distinction in this field, but in my favourite subjects, history and classics, I was, I believe I can say without boasting, pretty good.

Chess and Mathematics

By the way it is a great mistake to assume that chess and mathematics have anything in common. Intuition and imagination are the qualities that mark the great chess player, and the fact that Capablanca and some other leading masters were also good mathematicians is purely coincidental. Alekhine was a complete dud at the science.

Like all small boys I think I was a bit of a horror, and I can remember being guilty of one or two unpleasant pranks. One of these, to my subsequent regret was played on my father. I have mentioned that he was a Sunday Christian and this was sufficient to give him the post of Vicar’s Warden, probably because he was the only man in the village capable of reading the lessons without mispronouncing the names of the Hebrew Kings and Prophets. After he had finished a lesson it was his custom to mark carefully the place in the big Bible at which to start on the following Sunday. Noticing this, I and another boy went into the church when all was quiet and altered the position of the marker, so that, instead of the description of the Mosaic law set for the day, my father found himself reading the sprightly adventures of Lot and his daughters. It was well for me that he never discovered the culprit.

Loved cricket

Up to my introduction to chess my principal interest in life was cricket, my enthusiasm for which was fully shared by my father. He taught me the rudiments of batsmanship and bowled to me on the lawn, to the annoyance of my mother who objected to the green being cut up. Unfortunately I never made much of a show as a batsman, though later in life I developed quite a useful leg-break. Once or twice a year he took me to see the County team play at Portsmouth or Southampton. There were giants-in the Hampshire side in those days: C. B. Fry, Philip Mead the prettiest of all left-handed batsmen – but oh! so slow, those great-hearted bowlers Newman and Kennedy, and the gigantic Brown, the most versatile of all-rounders.

Occasionally too I was taken to London, either to Lords or the Oval, if there was a specially attractive match at either place. Those-were of course red letter days in my life, though two of them, I remember, ended disappointingly. An attempt to see M. A. Noble’s all conquering Australian team play the M.C.C. failed because our arrival at Lords coincided with that of a thunderstorm, and the only sight we had of an Australian was Warwick Armstrong smoking his pipe on the visitor’s balcony.

This was my first visit to Lords, and I gazed with awe at the sacred turf, waterlogged though it was, of which I had read so much. On another occasion we went to the Oval to see the famous hitter G. L. Jessop, who was playing for Gloucestershire against Surrey. This time the weather was kindly but my hero was not, for he was caught at silly mid-on off the second ball he received. By way of consolation I remember we watched a century by Dipper, an admirable batsman, but, alas! no Jessop.

The love of cricket’ was shared by my famous uncle and indeed, in my adolescent days, it was the only subject on which I could talk to him. At one time he ran his own team, the ‘Allahakbarries‘, and wrote many amusing accounts of their performances, mostly, I fear, apocryphal. I once played for one of his teams and, though I failed with the bat, I redeemed my character by two tumbling catches at short leg, one of which sent back a Cambridge Blue.

E. V. Lucas

Another cricket enthusiast whom I met when on a visit to my uncle was E. V. Lucas, for whose ethereal style of writing I had developed a boyhood passion. I was all agog to meet him, and great was my disappointment when, instead of the Shelley-like figure I had expected, there appeared a large fat man whose only subject of conversation appeared to be the dinners he had recently eaten. Then somebody mentioned cricket, and the whole atmosphere changed. Lucas became absolutely lyrical in his account of a Woolley innings he had just seen, and he and I were soon in deep discussion on the relative merits of the batsmen Jack Hobbs and
Victor Trumper. and similar fascinating themes.

Besides cricket my principal hobby was exploring the countryside on foot or on my bicycle. Hampshire was a beautiful county in those days, quite unspoilt, and containing varied and attractive scenery. The trees of Selborne Hangar have to be seen to be believed and, in its own placid way the valley of the Itchen just outside Winchester is one of the loveliest things in England. There were few parts of the county within a radius of twenty miles or so that remained unexplored by me.

Introduction into chess

All these delights, however, had to take a back seat, after my first introduction to chess. This occurred when I was twelve years old, and its manner was curious. I have mentioned that my father was quite a considerable player in his younger days, but had to give up the game when he came to Medstead because of lack of opposition. It so happened that we acquired a new clergyman who challenged my father to a game of chess, and to his surprise and disgust beat him with, I remember, a variation of the Allgaier gambit.

This was just not good enough. My father had played at Simpson’s with some of the best in the land and considered himself in a far different class from any country parson! So out came the dusty board and men, down came the long disused books, and a turning point in my life had arrived. For about an hour I watched him, fascinated, then tentatively asked “What is that?” it’s chess” he replied. “Will you teach me?” At first he was reluctant as he thought I was too young, but I was so persistent that at last he agreed to show me the moves. The whole idea of the game fascinated me and from that moment I was determined that, whatever else I did, I would become a first class chess player.

My father at first restricted my lessons to an hour a day, after supper. But we had an intelligent housemaid whom I taught to play, and of course I browsed in his books when he was not using them. Most of them were the work of his old chess tutor H. E. Bird, whose influence, especially in the Sicilian Defence, can still be detected in my play.

When I was able to face my father over the board in an actual game he at first gave me the odds of the queen, but this badge of inferiority was soon reduced to rook, then to knight, until finally we played level. He disapproved of the odds of pawn and move, and pawn and two, on the grounds that they made regular openings impossible, an opinion which I heartily endorse. It was a great day for me when I first beat him on level terms, and a still greater when the parson, invited to ‘The Boynes’ for tea, not only succumbed to my father – that had now become quite a regular occurrence- but also fell an easy victim to my carefully prepared Sicilian Defence.

Ethics of postal chess

Once my father had come back to chess his enthusiasm never waned. He played until the day of his death, and the chessboard was on the table by his bedside when I saw him for the last time. As soon as he found he was really recovering his zest for the game he started to play by correspondence,
and l, of course, helped him in his analysis. I could never quite understand my father’s attitude to these games. In my early days such assistance as I could give was of negligible value, but he continued to analyse with me when I was an acknowledged master, and on one occasion got Salo Flohr, accepted
challenger for the world championship, to work out a winning combination for him. He had no hesitation in showing or even publishing games won with such assistance as his own. Yet in all other respects he was the most rigorously conscientious man I have met.

Cosmopolitan Chess

At fourteen I was taken several times to the Vienna Café in New Oxford Street, the most cosmopolitan chess resort I have ever seen. Representatives of every nation congregated there, and one could hear the word ‘check’ in a dozen different languages.

Vienna Café, 24–28 Oxford Street, London, Adolphe Augustus Boucher (1868–1937), Bedford Lemere and Company -, Created: 29 April 1897
Vienna Café, 24–28 Oxford Street, London, Adolphe Augustus Boucher (1868–1937), Bedford Lemere and Company –, Created: 29 April 1897

Germans and Austrians predominated as was only natural since, at the time of which I am speaking, these were the leading chess-playing countries of the world. Everyone was most kind to me, which may have been the reason why, later on, I was quite unable to accept the view that all the inhabitants of Germany and Austria ate babies for breakfast.

My real chess career began when I joined the City of London Chess Club at the age of fifteen. This was, and had been for many years, the leading club in the country, and everybody who had any kind of chess aspiration was a member. The club met in Grocers Hall Court, off Poultry, and was ruled with a rod of iron by its secretary J. Walter Russell. He was a real despot who would brook no kind of opposition, but there is no doubt that he did a tremendous amount of good work for the club. Later on his jingoistic attitude made him my bitter enemy, but in those early days he did everything to encourage me, and presented me with the bound volumes of the rare City of London Chess Magazine autographed by him-self.

The City of London Chess Magazine
The City of London Chess Magazine

The players at the City were rigorously divided into five classes, each holding its own winter tournament. The winner of this, and the winner only, passed into the class above. After a test game against G. Wilkes, a strong class II player with whom I just managed to draw, I was placed in class III, Russell rightly thinking it would be discouraging for me to meet too strong opponents at my first attempt. I won every, game in this class in
my first year, but failed in the second class or Mocatta Cup as it was called.

I enjoyed these trips to London. I stayed with my uncle but saw little of him as I was out in the morning before he was up and was usually in bed before he came in at night. He lived in Adelphi Terrace, in an enormous top floor flat supposed, and I believe rightly, to possess the best view in London. Certainly on a clear day it was possible to look right over the built-up area of South London to the Surrey Hills in the distance. I loved to sit, at my bedroom window and gaze out-over the Thames and the multitudinous lights beyond it, wondering what was to become my destiny when I too became a Londoner, as I had every intention of doing. One or two of my dreams, such as that I would become British Champion, materialised, but on the whole they bore little relation to the reality in store.

First class status attained

At the second attempt I won the Mocatta Cup quite easily, and became an acknowledged first class player, for the City of London set the standard for the rest of England. Then the war came, and with its advent I will close the last really happy chapter of this book.

To say that the war knocked the bottom of my life would of course be true, but that was an experience that I shared with the bulk of my fellow countrymen. I don’t suppose there was anyone in Great Britain whose life not changed by the war. In a few cases for the better – if one considers getting rich quick out of war profits a change for the better – but in the majority for the worse.

Where I differed from my associates was that I could not understand what was going on around me, Most of them took it in their stride, “It was a nuisance, but those damned Germans wanted taking down a peg or two, and it was up to us to do it. Anyway it wouldn’t last six months and then we would get back to normal. I just could not feel like that. It was not that I did not know what the war was about – on the contrary I felt that I knew it all too well’ I had studied history and elementary economic geography and knew that the mineral wealth of Alsace-Lorraine, filched from France in the Franco-Prussian war had made Germany the greatest industrial power in Europe. I also knew that the best markets were in the hands of others, principally of England and that German opportunities for capital expansion were thus circumscribed I knew that British industrialists were naturally anxious to keep these advantages in their own possession, and that their French colleagues were equally anxious to recover their lost provinces without which France was condemned to the status of a second-rate power. I knew, too, Russia’s craving for an outlet to the sea via the Dardanelles, now
under the of Germany’s close friend Turkey. Here then was a situation in which big business in all the major European countries might hope to benefit from victory in a war but what possible concern could it be of ordinary folk like me and my father or those who worked in field, mine or factory?

War madness

I was soon to know. Foreign Minister Grey announced that England was entering the war to protect the neutrality of poor little Belgium, which the wicked Germans had violated. This struck me as absolute poppycock, unworthy of credence by a child of ten, but England lapped it up with a fervour that nothing short of madness. Young men left their peaceful country avocations to rush into Khaki to have a go at these Germans before they caved in.

Even my kind gentle father, who could not bear to kill a mouse, suddenly became imbued with a lust for slaughter of people he had never seen, and who could not possibly have done him any harm. As for me I was prepared to think as badly as they liked of the German Kaiser and his entourage, but I
could not regard our own hypocritical rulers in much better light. Still less could I be of England’s association with that barbarous tyrant, the Czar of all the Russias, whose brutalities had been the subject of much comment in the English press until he became our noble ally. As for the Germans themselves, the ordinary people I mean, I could not think they differed in any marked degree from the French, the Russians, or ourselves. I completely discounted the tales of atrocities, with which my father used to regale us at breakfast, out of the columns of the Daily Mail.

To Cambridge

As may be imagined my life at ‘The Boynes’ it that time was by no means a happy one. If I gave the slightest expression to my views everyone obviously thought that I was mad, and indeed there were times when I came to doubt my own sanity. I felt nothing but relief therefore when the time came for me to take up residence at Clare College, Cambridge, whence my father had graduated some twenty years before. Cambridge was a strange place in those war years.
The bulk of the undergraduates were already in the forces, but there was still a number in uniform training for commissions in the O.T.C. Pressure was put upon me to join these, but I firmly refused. For the most part they looked nasty pieces of work. There was of course the usual sprinkling of Indians and other Orientals, with some of whom I became very friendly. Today I can remember only two: an Egyptian named Talaat, an extreme nationalist who told me that I was the only Englishman in Cambridge whose throat he did not want to cut; and a charming Burmese, whose only fault was that his name was Moo Kow, which caused me some embarrassment when I had to introduce him in company.

Besides the budding officers and the Orientals there was another small group, serious-looking young men who included in their number most of the best scholars of the university. These were the anti-militarists, the ‘conchies’ waiting for the time when they would be dragged before a tribunal of local
tradesmen who could grant them total exemption (very rare), offer them non-combatant service, or reject the appeal absolutely, which meant in effect, “Join the Army or go to gaol.” Many who were given the choice of non-combatant service – preferred this last alternative. Towards -this group I naturally gravitated, and had the satisfaction of discovering that if I were mad, some very clever people including several Dons were mad also.

Another thing I found was that nearly all those anti-militarists were also Socialists, so I too became a Socialist. I am afraid that in those days I had a very hazy idea of what the term implied, but I knew that it stood for the workers and, surely, if anyone could stop this senseless slaughter it was the working classes. They, at any rate, had everything to lose and nothing to gain from continued bloodshed. I knew that the International Conference of World Socialist Parties, meeting shortly before the outbreak of war had pledged themselves solemnly, that in the event of hostilities breaking out they would proclaim a general strike in all belligerent countries.

Faith declining

When the event actually happened, however, the party leaders, with a few exceptions, forgot all about the strike and scurried to join their national governments, where they denounced the enemy just as vociferously as their Conservative colleagues. In spite of this I still pinned my faith to the Socialist movement. Even in those days I realised that Socialism is greater than its leaders. Although on the whole I got on well with my new friends I soon found there was a number of differences between us. Most of them were absolute pacifists, that is to say they objected to violence or killing in any circumstance whatever, whereas my point of view was that I wanted to choose whom I would kill, and understand why I was to do it. Nor could I claim any religious objections to war.

Since August l9l4 my faith, such as it was, had been steadily declining, and Cambridge had finally destroyed it. We were compelled to go to chapel
twice a week, as well as once on Sunday, and the continual prayers for victory for the British Army, which could only mean mass slaughter of Germans, struck me as disgusting hypocrisy in those who professed to follow the Prince of Peace, especially as their colleagues across the sea were imploring just the same thing – with colours reversed as it were. I had little use for a god who allowed himself to be harnessed like a mule to the national cannon.

No desire to be killed

I had a year of Cambridge before I became of military age, and during that time I had to face up to the first real dilemma of my life. Should I register myself as a conscientious objector on purely political grounds, or should I allow myself to be conscripted into the military machine as, of course, was the wish of my parents? At the time it was a terrible choice. All my own instincts were in favour of the first course, even though it might mean remaining in gaol as long as the war lasted. When I tentatively broached the subject to my mother it was received with a storm of emotion which quite broke my resolution. With tears streaming down her face she clasped my knees and- swore that she would rather see me dead than branded as a coward, and I really believed she would, too. I hastily told her that if she felt so strongly I would give in to her wishes, and all was peace again.

At the same time I made a private resolution that once I got into the Army I would apply every ounce-of ability I possessed, use every feint or subterfuge however unscrupulous, to avoid being put in a position where I had to kill or be killed. I had the strongest objection to taking the life of any potential Lasker or Tarrasch, and an equally strong one to their taking mine.

My friends at Cambridge for the most part considered my attitude to be a betrayal of principle, and so perhaps it was, but I had always dearly loved my parents, and I found the alternative course required more strength of character, or callousness, than I possessed. Once I had made up my mind things were not so bad. Cambridge, even in wartime, was a delightful place and I forgot most of my troubles in that best of anodynes, Chess.

The University club had naturally sunk to very small numbers, but those that-were left were very strong. We managed to organise a championship, which I won by half a point from J. Birnberg, a player who made quite a name for himself in London chess circles after the war. I also played in the championship of the town club, and defeated W. H. Gunston, a Don of St. John’s who was reckoned as one of the best players in England. He was much the strongest player I had yet met on even terms, and I was naturally very cock-a-hoop with myself, especially when I heard that he had not lost a game in the town championship for over twenty yeans. I could only tie for the title however, as I made draws with two of the lesser lights whilst Gunston won all his other games. Before the tie could be played off my time of liberty came to an end.

Army life

I am not going to say much about my army life. It was just plain Hell. My regiment was the Honourable Artillery Company, which I joined partly because its headquarters were in London and I hoped to be able to do at any rate some of my training there and partly because my people considered that my fellow soldiers would be of a rather superior type to those I was likely to meet in an ordinary infantry regiment’ I do not know
whether this last supposition was true. The
onlv man whose name I can remember was
J”‘u””qr””aiy tti”a for murder, but on the-
tuttoiu’they were a decent enough lot of
i;ii;;t. l’ cannot’ say the slTe of the
“?nl”.luni ttl.c.ot. cbarse and brutal’ they
;;;;;; t;take a sadistic {gliglt in making
ii”‘iif” * tiserable as possible’ I hated,them
*i.f,'”- il”i.J,nt’ti”h I iould.not possibly feel
iit unv German, and in all my .experience
*itn {ne H.A.c. I encountered only two
;L;;il;t r-*”ula not have been delighted
l”–“tt”.t”. lt is possible that the views I
t’rllJ maae me a difficult soldier’ also t’hat my
liii.l’tli-lii” tty have rendered me unduly
ilili”” – vulgir abuse, but looking back’
;;’i-;;;p;ring”t’hese brutes with the very
i,ril*-“.”itPe’s I served under in World
W;; ii;l il[n”t feel that mv original iudg-
:nr*t I?:..:’l*’;” d E i i^ff.l’ d”le ;l iil;
fi;;;;;;;ttogettrer if it were not that thev
;i;iiJ; cutt”i-n Part in my development as
a chess Player.
– l.-T{aa’nopea I did the first.part of my-
“”ii.liJln ‘iSnJon and, since l. lived. out of
i…iJr.i: “i’ trt” H. t pden Res idential .C I u b’
i-n “t “Uf” to get a good d.eal of chess in the
;;;1;;;-and- on -saturdaY afternoons’ I
Fitit’J F:*,”1″‘J.”‘i T:’ 1 “:l ?” “H,1;
Miss E. Price.
Personaltities of the l9l0’s
Here I had a numbelo{ Fllnes on a Pro-
ressilnit’ut it ,nittl o’ C’ M-utler’ one of the
ffi;’-t’utfi;tt “i the old Simpson’s- Pro’s’
‘fi”‘lrJi’rv* ” a”tightt’t chap with a fund of
li”iittlit about ihess players and others’
ili-ii-n’Jtim to h””” bedn drue’ even if they
wer;’iii.’- tt” could keep an audience
J,i.’rt-t”r’l”J’ with these talei’ wh.ictr. were
;#iftt *”il-r’oui malice’ ln addition he
;;;iitJt rate chess t’eacher’.and I learnt a
gl”, il n;i’::lL tx, T’.’3il: n;fi :i j;’*:
iii’i”.5.i.i-i.i establishing such a basis be-
i”i””-“itlrnirting any tactical adventures’
‘ii*.”.iv -i” is’anothe r name. for th is’
l;?’i;’it tt* tatt’mart of every first class
;i;;;.’it *u Mutler who mv first
illi-i”tietilnto ttre complexities of the
li:s”‘.l” I ;i;; had the oPPortunity.oi
[i’il;i. “!sr T:’ “#’i,’: ffi I .*T T'”J i:
ilii”e’i.”dtn “t”teutt’ scott was prob’

Remembering Harold Lommer (18-xi-1904 17-xii-1980)

Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)
Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)

We remember Harold Lommer who passed away on December 17th, 1980.

Harold Maurice Lommer was born on Friday, November 18th 1904 in Islington, London to German parents. Curiously his birth entry was missing from the original record and has been inserted manually as an after-thought. Anyone know the reason for this?

He left England aged 4 in 1908 to live in Switzerland and returned to England in 1926.

In the 1939 Census Harold was a resident at 16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London.

16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London
16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London

According to the census record HML was living in a household of three persons and his occupation was that of Foreign Correspondent.

In 1949 Harold married Valija S Linkuns in Fulham.

He died in Valencia, Provincia de València, Valenciana, Spain.

Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)
Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“International Judge of Chess Compositions (1958), International Arbiter (1962), International Master for Chess Compositions (1974), the greatest British study composer. Born in Islington of German parentage, he moved to Switzerland when he was four and returned to England 18 years later.

Inspired in his youth by the Saavedra study, he became the leading specialist on promotion tasks, and in 1933 was the first to show allumwandlung in a study, which Rinck had declared was impossible. Lommer also showed in studies six consecutive promotions to rooks (1935) and a minimal with concurrent promotions to queen, bishop, and knight.

After the Second World War he became proprietor of a Soho club, where players and composers often met; in 1949 the club organized a small international tournament, won by Bernstein, Lommer retired in 1961 and went to live in Valencia, where he died.

In 1939 Lommer and the English player Maurice A. Sutherland (d.1954), who backed the project, published 1,234 Modern End-game Studies. In 1975 Lommer compiled a sequel, 1,357 End-game Studies. These two collections, catholic in taste, made by a composer who was above all an artist, have become standard works. Besides his studies, the best of which are in these books, he composed fairy problems.”

1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)
1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)
1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)
1234 Modern End-Game Studies, Lommer & Sutherland. Dover, 1938 (originally, this one 1967)

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

“FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies since 1958. Born on 18th November 1904 in London, Harold Lommer’s parents were German and he was educated mainly in Switzerland. Since the late 1950s he has lived in Spain. He has composed about 1000 endgame studies and is joint author with MA Sutherland, of the anthology 1234 Modern End-Game Studies, published in 1938. He is particularly well-known for his under-promotion tasks, but would prefer to be known for his other work as well.

For some 10 years up to 1957, he was joint owner and manager of the Mandrake Club in Soho, London, used by many well-known chess players, journalists and theatre personalities.”

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88 we have this obituary from CM Bent :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88
British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88

1357 End-Game Studies
1357 End-Game Studies

Harold Maurice Lommer (18-XI-1904, 17-XII-1980)

Playing the Grünfeld : A Combative Repertoire

Playing the Grünfeld: A Combative Repertoire Book by Alexey Kovalchuk, Quality Chess, 2020
Playing the Grünfeld: A Combative Repertoire Book by Alexey Kovalchuk, Quality Chess, 2020

From the rear cover :

“Alexey Kovalchuk is a Russian player whose rating reached 2445 in recent years. In additional to winning the Rostov Championship and numerous other tournaments, he is a theoretician who works as a second for strong chess grandmasters.”

Also from the rear cover

“The Grünfeld Defence is well known to be one of Black’s best and most challenging responses to 1.d4, and has long been a favorite choice of elite players including Kasparov, Svidler, Caruana, Vachier-Lagrave and many more. As with many chess openings, however, it can be difficult to navigate the ever-expanding jungle of games and theory. Playing the Grünfeld offers an ideal solution for practical chess players. Alexey Kovalchuk is a young Russian talent with expert knowledge of the Grünfeld, and in this book he shares his best ideas to form a complete, coherent and combative repertoire for Black. In addition to theoretical soundness, efforts have been made to avoid variations leading to early forced draws, as well as those in which Black allows his king to be attacked at an early stage.”

This book, published by Quality Chess, is a substantive addition to the literature covering the Grünfeld Defence. I write “substantive” partly to refer to its 500 pages, which is rather a lot for a repertoire book. Of course, a major opening like the Grünfeld  deserves a large number of pages.

The book is nicely presented and has high production values. For example, each of the 16 chapters of opening content has its own mini Index of Variations, and there is a detailed Index of Variations at the end of the book. The subject matter is up to date, with many references to games played up to 2019.

Content of the Book

The Grünfeld is covered in some detail, both in the breadth and depth of variations. As mentioned above, game references are up to date, and the author supplements known theory with his own suggestions and analysis. (For example, he mentions a very intriguing piece sac in a side-line of the Fianchetto Variation – sorry, no spoilers here!) The author’s “scientific approach to chess” and the fact that he is a “diligent worker” (both quotes from GM Petrov’s foreword) do come across in this work.

One nice feature is that for the major variations the author gives a paragraph or two about the background of the move. For example he says who played it first, which books recommend it, which top GMs currently include it in their repertoire and so on. I think this is a nice touch which adds interest to the opening.

The he goes into detail, covering the lines he recommends with a good mixture of variations and wordy (but not over verbose) explanations. This obviously constitutes the bulk of the book, and I give an example of his style below.

Also, each chapter is given a Conclusion, usually half a page or so, in which Kovalchuk gives a broad brush reminder of the material covered, and puts the lines into perspective (eg pointing out the dangerous lines, the common lines, or the positional lines). Another nice touch which I believe helps the reader to make sense of the material, which can be difficult after playing through a number of variations.

Example Content

The following excerpt shows the author’s attention to detail, and his willingness to share his own analysis. It is taken from the chapter on the 3 f3 variation:

11 …Ne8!?
With the typical Benoni plan of …Nc7, …Rb8 and …b5.
The reader may be wondering why we don’t play 11 …h5 here. The trick is revealed, showing why White waited so long to to develop his dark-squared bishop: 12 Bg5! Qe8 13 Qd2 Nh7 14 Bh6 Rb8 15 Bxg7 Kxg7 16 Nf1 Qe7 17 Ne3 +=  The royal knight is perfectly employed.

12 0-0
12 Be3 Rb8 leaves White nothing better than 13 0-0 transposing.
12 Bf4!? deserves further attention; I only found one game with this move, Boehme – Bochev, email 2014. I recommend 12 …Bd4!?N with the possible continuation: 13 Qd2 f5 14 exf5 (14 h4 fxe4 15 Ngxe4 Ndf6 16 Bg5 Qa5∞) 14 …gxf5 15 Bc4 Ne5∞ There arises a complex position with mutual chances.

(The book actually uses figurines.)

Comparison with The Modernized Grunfeld Defense

Having reviewed Yaroslav Zherebukh’s The Modernized Grunfeld Defense recently, and both books published in 2020, it is hard not to compare the two books.

First, let me say that I think that these are both very good books which will serve Grünfeld players well, whether they are new to the defence or more experienced.

For brevity, I will refer to the books as PtG and TMG.

PtG at 500 pages is somewhat larger than TMG‘s 300 pages and so we can expect the former to cover more lines. (Zherebukh’s style is more terse and to-the-point, but that doesn’t account for 200 pages.)

Both books go into some depth, but PtG goes into more detail with the side-lines. For example, there is little on an early Qa4+ in TMG whereas Kovalchuk gives this idea a chapter in PtG.  It is true that TMG does have advice on how to play anti-Grünfeld’s which is not covered by PtG, but generally Kovalchuk’s book does have broader coverage.

As mentioned above, this book (PtG) does have production values and features which make it more accessible, which is not to say that TMG is bad in this regard.

Which one would I recommend? As above, I am sure that all Grünfeld players would benefit from either book, but it is possible that PtG‘s presentation and coverage of side-lines would make it more attractive to players starting with this opening. TMG, however, does have some good advice on how to learn an opening, which is a nice feature of that book.

It is interesting that the repertoires recommended by the two books are substantially different, and it could be that which book is “better” could just mean which book recommends lines that suit particular players.


Playing the Grünfeld is an excellent book, which I can recommend to any player of this opening.

Colin Purdon, December 15th 2020

Colin Purdon
Colin Purdon

Book Details :

  • Flexicover : 504 pages
  • Publisher: Quality Chess UK LLP (15 July 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 178483095X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1784830953
  • Product Dimensions: 17.09 x 2.24 x 24.16 cm

Official web site of Quality Chess

Playing the Grünfeld: A Combative Repertoire Book by Alexey Kovalchuk, Quality Chess, 2020
Playing the Grünfeld: A Combative Repertoire Book by Alexey Kovalchuk, Quality Chess, 2020

Remembering Horatio Caro (05-vii-1862 15-xii-1920)

Horatio Caro
Horatio Caro

We remember Horatio Caro who passed away on Wednesday, December 15th, 1920.

Horatio Caro was born on Saturday, July 5th 1862. On the same day Heinrich Georg Bronn, German geologist and paleontologist passed away.

His parents were (in the 1861 census) Jacob and Mathilda Caro (née Lüpschütz, possibly Lipschütz) living at 4, Warwick Place, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Horatio’s birth was recorded at Lombard Street, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Jacob and Horatio moved to Berlin to live at 2, Winterfeld Strasse. They both had joint German/British citizenship.

In 1896 Jacob passed away and his affairs were handled by family solicitors, Daggett and Grey of 3 Dean Street, Newcastle-upon-Tyne :

The London Gazette, 1896
The London Gazette, 1896

On December 15th 1920 JHD Reid, Master of the Institution of South Grove (a workhouse) recorded the discharge of Horatio. The reason stated was “dead”.

His death was registered in Mile End Old Town and he is buried in the East Ham Jewish cemetery, London Borough of Newham, Greater London located at Section E Row 18 Plot 14.

Grave marker for Horatio Caro. Photograph from Gordon Cadden to Ken Whyld Assocation
Grave marker for Horatio Caro. Photograph from Gordon Cadden to Ken Whyld Assocation

According to Wolfgang Heidenfeld in The Encyclopedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE :

“A minor English master who spent most of his chess life in Berlin. Though he had indifferent tournament not much better match results (he lost to Mieses, and Winawer, drew twice with Von Bardeleben and beat Lewitt), his name has become immortal through the Caro-Kann Defence, which he expounded in his own journal, Brüderschaft, in 1886.”

The Caro-Kann Defence is characterised by

(as an alternative to the French Defence) in which the c8 bishop may be active from an early stage.

Caro famously was able to overcome Emanuel Lasker in just 14 moves in 1890 :

There is also the Caro Variation of the Ponziani Defence which was known since the 1850s and recommended by Caro in Deutsches Wochenschach, 1893:

From Chess, Facts and Fables (McFarland and Company, Inc., 2006), page 12, Chess Note 3096, Edward Winter :

“We can now add a tenth specimen to the collection (of ‘Rare queen sacrifices’), having noted the following position on page 81 of Brüderschaft, 10 March 1888 :

The magazine (see also page 155 of the 12 May 1888 issue) stated that in this game, played in February 1888 (in Berlin?), Horatio Caro mated his unidentified opponent in five moves as above.”

In another place we are grateful to Brian Denman who mentioned that  Caro made an  appearance for the Great Britain team in the 1898 cable match against America. He lost on board 3 against John Barry.

Richard James replied : “He also represented Berlin in a cable match against New York in 1905. EdoChess has his highest rating as 2545 (11th in the world) in 1892.”

In a Comment to this post Tim Harding asks : “Caro was one of the British invitees to the London 1899 international but he withdrew before the start because of illness. Does anyone know what was wrong with him?”

Also, according to Richard James :

“He spent most of his life in Germany. Page 353 of the Jubiläums-Ausgabe (1926) of Kagans Neueste Schachnachrichten (yes, I also read Edward Winter’s Chess Notes) claims that he lived in Frankfurt up to his 22nd year and in Berlin from 1882 onwards (arithmetic fail). Some sources claim, incorrectly, that he died in Berlin.

His death was registered in Mile End Old Town. In the 1911 census there are a lot of Caros in St George in the East, just the other side of the Commercial Road from Mile End Old Town, from their first names clearly Jewish. There’s also Blanche Caro, a 65-year-old Polish born widow, described as a furrier, in hospital in Mile End Old Town.”

There is extensive discussion from the same above source.

From Wikipedia :

“Horatio Caro (5 July 1862 – 15 December 1920) was an English chess master.

Caro was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England,[1] but spent most of his chess career in Berlin, Germany. He played several matches. In 1892, he drew with Curt von Bardeleben (+2 –2 =2), lost to Szymon Winawer (+2 –3 =1). In 1897, he lost to Jacques Mieses (+3 –4 =3). In 1903, he drew with Bardeleben (+4 –4 =0). In 1905, he won against Moritz Lewitt (+4 –3 =5).

In tournaments, he won in Berlin (1888, 1891, 1894, 1898 (jointly), and 1903). He also took 10th at Berlin 1883, took 4th at Berlin 1887, tied for 2nd-3rd at Nuremberg 1888, took 3rd at Berlin 1889, took 2nd at Berlin 1890.

He took 3rd at Berlin 1894, took 9th at Berlin 1897, took 17th at Vienna 1898, took 4th at Berlin 1899, tied for 6-7th at Berlin 1902, tied for 11-12th at Coburg 1904, tied for 7-8th at Barmen 1905, took 9th at Berlin 1907, tied for 3-5th at Berlin 1908, and took 4th at Berlin 1911.

Caro died in London at age 58.

His claim to fame is linked to the opening Caro-Kann Defence (B12), which he analysed along with Marcus Kann and jointly published about on the German journal Bruederschaft in 1886.”

Happy Birthday IM Brandon Clarke (14-xii-1995)

IM Brandon GI Clarke
IM Brandon Clarke, British Championships (Major Open), Torquay 2019, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Happy Birthday Wishes to IM Brandon Clarke born on this day (December 14th), 1995. “Earth Song” by Michael Jackson was the UK Number One single.

Brandon George I Clarke was born in Leicester and now resides in Woodstock, Oxfordshire. He was a chess scholar at Wellington College, Berkshire and studied accounting at BPP. Upon leaving Wellington he relocated to California and became a chess coach in Orange County. A further relocation to Sydney, Australia allowed Brandon to become a coach at the Sydney Academy of Chess.

His personal web site is

His chess career started modestly but progress rapidly accelerated.

In the 2003 London Junior Championships he was =13 with 4/7

In July 2004 he secured his first published standard play grading of 84D and 62D for rapid play.  His first recorded rapid  play tournament was on the 4th of October 2003 being the Mini Squad Under 8s. In this event he beat a certain Jamie Horton who had a grading of 45D at the time.

In 2006 Brandon won outright the London Under 12 title with 7.5/9. Marcus Harvey was a runner-up. This situation was repeated one year later.

In 2009 Brandon won the LJCC Under-16 title this time with Akash Jain as runner-up. His TPR for a score of 5/6 was 199.

2010 saw the sharing of the British Under-15 Championship with Gordon Scott in Canterbury.

Brandon was a chess scholar at Wellington College, Berkshire and was part of the strongest school / college team to play in the National Schools competition for many years that included James Holland, Felix Jose Ynojosa-Aponte, Alexander Galliano, Latefah Meesam-Sparkes, Akash Jain, Adrian Archer-Lock and latterly William Foo and Richard Zhu. Despite being easily the strongest team they were denied the title by the antiquated age handicapping rules.

In 2016 Brandon became a FIDE Master.

FIDE rating profile for Brandon Clarke according to MegaBase 2020
FIDE rating profile for Brandon Clarke according to MegaBase 2020

He became an International Master in early 2019 and plays much chess in Australia, New Zealand and England having lived in the USA for some time after leaving Wellington College.

Aged 24 Brandon has achieved his highest FIDE rating of 2445 and it shows every sign of increasing.

IM Brandon Clarke, British Championships (Major Open), Torquay 2019, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Brandon Clarke, British Championships (Major Open), Torquay 2019, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

With the White pieces Brandon is almost exclusively an e4 player with occasional forays with the Queen’s pawn. Against the Najdorf he prefers 6.Bg5 and allows the Marshall against the Ruy Lopez.

As the second player he plays the Najdorf and the King’s Indian Defence most of the time.

Brandon has his own YouTube Channel.

On he plays under the handle of Biranidun with a blitz rating of 2847.

In January 2019 Brandon scored a very impressive victory in the 126th (!) New Zealand Open. “The 2019 126th New Zealand Open is part of the 126th New Zealand Congress and is a 9-round Swiss event being held at the Waipuna Conference Centre in Auckland from 14-22 January 2019.”

Cross table from the 126h New Zealand Open
Cross table from the 126h New Zealand Open

Brandon made a welcome return to the UK and comfortably won the 2019 Major Open in Torquay with 8.5/9 as an IM.

Brandon plays for Australia Kangaroos in the Pro Chess League.

The ECF grading web site shows his only club to be Littlethorpe (in Leicestershire) although Brandon played for Warwickshire Select in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

IM Brandon GI Clarke
IM Brandon Clarke, British Championships (Major Open), Torquay 2019, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Happy Birthday IM Karl Mah (14-XII-1980)

Karl CC Mah
Karl CC Mah

Best wishes to IM Karl Mah born on this day (December 14th) 1980

From Wikipedia :

Karl CC Mah (born 14 December 1980) is an English chess player who holds the title of FIDE International Master (IM) (1999).

IM Karl CC Mah
IM Karl CC Mah

Karl Mah is two-times winner the British Youth Chess Championship: in 1990 in U09 age group, and in 1991 in U10 age group.[1] In 1993 and 1994 he was an Essex County Youth Chess Champion in the U18 age group.[2] He played for England in European Youth Chess Championships and World Youth Chess Championships in the different age groups. Best result – in 1994, in Băile Herculane Karl Mah won European Youth Chess Championship in the U14 age group. In 1999, he awarded the FIDE International Master (IM) title.

Now Karl Mah is a partner in the London office of Latham & Watkins and is the Chair of the London Tax Department.[3]

According to MegaBase 2020 Karl reached his peak FIDE rating of 2428 in July 2010 aged 30.

Karl plays for Cambridge in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) and has played for Drunken Knights in the London Chess League.

IM Karl CC Mah
IM Karl CC Mah

Remembering David Pritchard (19-x-1919 12-xii-2005)

David Parlett (lhs) & David Brine Pritchard (rhs) in 2005. Editors of Games & Puzzles magazine
David Parlett (lhs) & David Pritchard (rhs) in 2005. Editors of Games & Puzzles magazine

We remember David Pritchard who passed away on Monday, December 12th, 2005.

David Brine Pritchard was born on Sunday, October 19th, 1919. On this day the first US Distinguished Service Medal was awarded to a living female recipient, Anna Howard Shaw.

He was born in Wandsworth taking his mothers’  Winifred maiden name of Brine (as was customary in those days). His father was Arthur Pritchard (DoB : 4th January 1890) and he was the managing director of an Engineering Company. Arthur and Winifred married in Maidenhead, Berkshire in 1917.

At the time of the 1939 census David was a chiropodist and recorded as single and living in Munee Cottage, Main Street, Bedford. Main Street appears to have been renamed to Main Road which is in Biddenham. It is likely DBPs cottage was something like :

48 and 50 Main Road Biddenham, Bedford, Hertfordshire
48 and 50 Main Road Biddenham, Bedford, Hertfordshire

During the second world War David joined the Royal Air Force and was stationed in the Far East and following the war, he switched to intelligence work also for the RAF. He attained the rank of Squadron Leader and played much chess during this period of his life.

In 1950 David completed his first book : The Right Way to Play Chess, Elliot Right Way Books, 1950, ISBN 1-58574-046-2

The Right Way to Play Chess, Elliot Right Way Books, DB Pritchard, 1950.
The Right Way to Play Chess, Elliot Right Way Books, DB Pritchard, 1950.

(Ed : This was the first chess book of this article’s author and was thoroughly consumed!)

On page 224 of said book David wrote :

Chessplayers – and this must be whispered – are generally an egotistical, ill-mannered crowd. If they conformed to common rules of decorum these words would not have to be written

followed by

I once carried out a private survey at a well-known chess restaurant where a large number of ‘friendly’ games are always in progress. In less than 30 per cent of those observed was resignation made with a good grace. In two-thirds of the games the loser either knocked his king over, abruptly pushed the pieces into the centre of the board, started to set up the men for a fresh game, or got up and walked away without saying a word to his opponent.

He married Elaine Saunders in between January and March of 1952 in the Cheslsea Registry Office.

Elliot Right Way Books was an excellent choice of publisher for David and only 36 minutes by car from his new home in Godalming.

He won the Singapore Championship in 1954 and the Malaysian Championship in 1955.

Visiting you will find two images of David and Elaine playing chess in Singapore.

David and Elaine had a daughter, Wanda on March 21st 1958. She became Wanda Dakin who was also a chess player. Wanda attended Guildford High School for Girls and then Royal Holloway College, Egham.

David was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1958-59 and 1965-66 seasons.

From the British Championships, 1959 in York we have this sparkling game with Frank Parr :

By now David had developed an  interest in chess variants and board games in general.

David was the  Chairman of the organising committee for the Battle of Britain Chess Tournament : he was runner-up in the first year to RF Boxall.

In 1970 he brought out his third book :  Begin Chess, David Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1952

Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970
Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970
Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970
Begin Chess by David Brine Pritchard, Elliot Right Way Books, 1970

David became President of British Chess Variants Society and wrote many books on variants and indoor games.

Here is an interview compiled by Hans Bodlaender about David’s Encyclopedia of Chess Variants :

Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, GAMES & PUZZLES PUBLICATIONS, 1994
Encyclopedia of Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, GAMES & PUZZLES PUBLICATIONS, 1994

Particularly interesting was this Q&A :

Do you think computers and the Internet will have effect on chess and on chess variants? If so, in what way?

I think that the Internet will inevitably introduce chess to more players but I forsee chess variants, because of their novelty, benefitting in particular from publicity on the net. I expect variants to gain more and more adherents in the future.

David was preparing a second edition before he passed away. This was completed and made available on-line by John Beasley.

The Pritchard family lived at Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA in an idyllic location :

Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA
Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA

and here is the exceptional interior with games room :


Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA
Badgers Wood, Hascombe Road, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 4AA

At the time of his passing he had five grand children.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXVI (126, 2006), Number 2 (February), page 76 :

“David Brine Pritchard (19 x 1919 Streatham, London – 12 xiii 2005, London) has died following a fall . He was a strong amateur player and a successful author of books on chess and other games.

David Pritchard was a Squadron Leader in the RAF during the war and later rejoined it to work in intelligence. Whilst serving with the RAF he won the Malayan Chess Championships in 195, and he was also instrumental in the running the UK event known as Battle of Britain Tournament which attracted a strong field in its heyday and generated revenue for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

He was a dangerous. attacking played who scored a number of notable scalps in the British Championship including Penrose and Miles, without ever achieving the consistency required to challenge for the leading positions.  He won the Southern Counties championships in 1959 and 1966.

As an author, Pritchard’s most successful book was The Right Way to Play Chess (Elliott, 1950, with numerous reprints). which is still to be found for sale in many British bookshops.

He will also be remembered as a leading authority on chess variants : he was reported to be in the process of preparing a second edition of The Encyclopedia of Chess Variants (1994) at the time of his death. He was also a very good correspondence player, an inventor composer of chess puzzles of all sorts (some of which appeared in BCM) and his interest in Fairy chess dated back to the 1940s.

His wife Elaine Pritchard, the leading woman player of the 1950s and 1960s, and their daughter Wanda (who also played competitive chess) survive him. We send them our condolences on behalf of BCM and its readers.”

David Pritchard (19-x-1919 12-xii-2005), Passport photograph
David Pritchard (19-x-1919 12-xii-2005), Passport photograph

He was a leading member of Godalming Chess Club and played in the Surrey Border League.

The David Pritchard Shield from the Surrey Border League
The David Pritchard Shield from the Surrey Border League

Here is David’s Wikipedia entry

The Family Book of Games, DB Prichard, Brockhampton Press, 1994
The Family Book of Games, DB Prichard, Brockhampton Press, 1994
Popular Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, Batsford, 2000, ISBN 0713485787
Popular Chess Variants, DB Pritchard, Batsford, 2000, ISBN 0713485787

Remembering FM Peter Clarke (18-iii-1933 11-xii-2014)

Peter Clarke at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 194
Peter Clarke at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 194
PH Clarke
PH Clarke

We remember FM Peter Clarke who passed away on Thursday, December 11th, 2014 whilst living at Chapel House, Bude, Cornwall, EX23 9SQ

Peter Hugh Clarke was born on Saturday, March 18th 1933 in West Ham, London. Peter was born to Hugh Clarke (21st April 1905, West Ham – April 1961)and Gertrude Olive (née Ekblom) (7th May 1909, Bournemouth – October 2005, Stratton, Cornwall).  Hugh and Gertrude married on June 4th 1932 in Forest Gate in Essex.

In July 1962 Peter married Margaret Eileen Elizabeth (Peggy) Wood, the daughter of BH Wood. Margaret passed away in 2018 in Bude, Cornwall.

From The Modest Master of Morwenstow by James Pratt (sadly, as yet, unpublished) :

“Peter Hugh Clarke was born in London on 18th March, 1933. At the age of eight or nine he taught himself the game from ‘The Book of Knowledge’ and played friendly games with his cousin, who was about a year older. Peter’s father supported his game for many years. PHC was a student at St. Bonaventures School and London University. World War II, and its even longer aftermath, robbed him of a number of playing opportunities. It is surprising that he had no childhood heroes, although later the play of Botvinnik, Keres and Smyslov impressed him.”

Peter Clarke with father, Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Peter Clarke with father, Hugh Clarke, Courtesy of Keverel Chess

From British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) written by George Botterill :

Chess correspondent of The Sunday Times, Clarke played for England in the Olympiads of 1954, 56, 58, 60, 62, 66 and 68. He has never won the British Championship but has come 2nd on 5 occasions.

A fine writer. His best books are Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess

Mikhail Tal's Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke, Bell, 1961
Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke, Bell, 1961

and Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963 both published by Bell.

Petrosian's Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, George Bell & Sons Ltd, 1964
Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, George Bell & Sons Ltd, 1964

The most remarkable thing about Clarke’s chess career was they way in which he became transformed, in about 1968-9, into the most drawish of players. In British tournaments he has become notorious for correct but dull solidity.”

Peter was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion for the 1954-55 season.

Peter was England’s third Correspondence Grandmaster (CGM) in 1980 after Keith Richardson and Adrian Hollis.

Peter at the dinner table
Peter at the dinner table

From BCM / ECF :

“FIDE and British Master P.H. Clarke will be best remembered as biographer to Tal and to Petrosyan, but he was so much more. The young Clarke played for Ilford CC in the London League and for Essex at county level. Doing national service he was to learn the Russian that was to so shape his writings.

The 1964 England Olympiad (Tel Aviv) Team : Owen Hindle, Čeněk Kottnauer, Peter Clarke, Michael Franklin, Norman Littlewood & Michael Haygarth
The 1964 England Olympiad (Tel Aviv) Team : Owen Hindle, Čeněk Kottnauer, Peter Clarke, Michael Franklin, Norman Littlewood & Michael Haygarth

For a brief period in the late 1950s, and early sixties, he was the number two player in England, ahead of the vastly more experienced Alexander and Golombek. He played, of course, below Jonathan Penrose, a partnership that bore fruit when preparing openings; latterly they both became Correspondence Grandmasters.”

FM Peter Hugh Clarke
FM Peter Hugh Clarke

FM Peter Hugh Clarke (18-iii-1933, 11-xii-2014)
FM Peter Clarke

“At the British Championships itself he finished second on his first appearance; he was to tie for silver medal on no less than five occasions, appearing, almost without a break for thirty years, a run that ended in 1982. He represented the BCF – as it then was – in eight Olympiads, playing on top board in 1966.

Borislav Ivkov playing Peter Clarke at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad. The game was a QGA which was drawn
Borislav Ivkov playing Peter Clarke at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad. The game was a QGA which was drawn

The Clarke family moved to the West of England in the late Sixties. PHC played in thirteen WECU Championships, and lost only twice. As a player he could be cautious, agreeing too readily to draws. Accuracy and respect meant more to him than ambition. The biographer became a journalist as illness cut short his playing career. In his time he beat Larsen, Penrose and Szabo.

Kick Langeweg plays Hugh Alexander in the Anglo-Dutch Match of October 7th , 1961. Peter Clarke (right) is playing Johan Teunis Barendregt and Harry Golombek observes

In 1962 he married BH Wood’s daughter, Peggy. They had three daughters. In 1975 my mother happened across Peter and Peggy on Morecambe prom. ‘Never’ she was later to tell me, ‘have I seen a couple more in love.'”

Peter Clarke & Peggy Wood in 1962, Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Peter Clarke & Peggy Wood in 1962, Courtesy of Keverel Chess

We are grateful to James Pratt to allow us to quote from the the sadly unpublished “Modest Master from Morwenstow” as follows :

PHC by John Littlewood :

“Peter had a relatively short career at the top and it is interesting to comment on his style. In essence, his great strength lay in positional understanding which backed-up his defensive skills rather than helped his ability to create wins; in other words, he won games in which his opponents over-pressed or opted for dubious positional moves.

Peter Hugh Clarke (left) and Donner (right) Date: November 26, 1957 at the Wageningen Zonal, The Netherlands. Courtesy of Alamy
Peter Hugh Clarke (left) and Donner (right) Date: November 26, 1957 at the Wageningen Zonal, The Netherlands. Courtesy of Alamy

After doing well in English chess, he was perhaps pushed into international chess too early for him to develop his own personal creative style. Playing for England and meeting strong players, he tended towards a rather negative approach that may have been necessary for the team but was not good for his own personal progress, as shown when he later met English opponents who outstripped him in their positive will-to-win. His friendship with Penrose (a far stronger player) led to far too many draws which did neither of them any good.

Mikhail Tal's Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke. Bell, 1961
Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess, PH Clarke. Bell, 1961

To be fair, Peter was not an easy player to beat but, on the other hand, he was not too hard to draw against if you felt so inclined. His forte lay in his knowledge of the game and his excellent writing skills, where he was at his happiest; there is hardly a book of his that I haven’t enjoyed.”

Petrosian's Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, Bell, 1971
Petrosian’s Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, PH Clarke, Bell, 1971

Writing in BCM 04/64, John Littlewood called PHC a self-style non-tactician and disagreed with Clarke’s belief in the inner logic (‘I have made no mistakes and therefore my position is OK.’) of positions where tactics are to the fore.

FM Peter Hugh Clarke
FM Peter Clarke

PHC by Leonard Barden :

“Peter’s contribution to British Chess was important as a player and even more so as a writer. His best period was 1956-61. He, Penrose and myself used to stay in the same hotel during the British Championships and prepare and analyse together, although we played hard when actually paired. Peter was the solid man in the English team, gradually taking over the role of Golombek. It was important that we did reasonably well in this period which provided a bridge between the Alexander/Golombek era and the rise of Keene/Hartston.

Meliton Borja of the Philippines v. Peter Clarke from the 1958 Munich Olympiad played on October 9th 1958. The game was drawn in 49 moves. From the collection of David Jarrett with many thanks.
Meliton Borja of the Philippines v. Peter Clarke from the 1958 Munich Olympiad played on October 9th 1958. The game was drawn in 49 moves. From the collection of David Jarrett with many thanks.

Peter was always a good friend to me and his family gave me hospitality each year during the Ilford Congress. Peter’s books, especially the one about Tal, were real works of scholarship in an era where there were no computers to facilitate the job. He could have achieved more as a player if he had been able to concentrate fully on that, but the economic climate then was poor for professionals.”

Peter and life long friend, Jonathan Penrose, Courtesy of Keverel Chess
Peter and life long friend, Jonathan Penrose, Courtesy of Keverel Chess

PHC by Bernard Cafferty :

“Right up to that point of his illness in the 1980’s he had worthily defended the reputation of the older generation in the British Championship, as the last survivor, still active at that level, from the Penrose era. I first saw Peter at the 1951 British Championship at Chester and first played him at the 1952 Bristol Universities individual contest.

24th USSR Chess Championships, PH Clarke, British Chess Magazine, 1959
24th USSR Chess Championships, PH Clarke, British Chess Magazine, 1959

He left the University of London before taking his degree (study of chess rather taking over his life), but then had the good fortune to go on to study Russian while doing his National Service, around 1954-55. Or was he still in the Army when the Moscow 1956 Olympiad took place? He certainly did well there, perhaps less affected than other Westerners by the strangeness of the place that was just recovering slightly from the depths of Stalin’s baleful influence.


VV Smyslov - My Best Games of Chess, edited and translated by PH Clarke, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958
VV Smyslov – My Best Games of Chess, edited and translated by PH Clarke, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1958

I do recall that for a couple of years Peter changed his cautious style. This was around 1957-58 when he scored one of his two wins against Penrose. Was it at Ilford?* I remember that the game appeared with notes by B.H. Wood in ‘The Illustrated London News’ column.

(*Subsequent to this article being posted LWB was kind enough to clear up BCs above query :

Southend 1958.  Clarke beat Penrose, Penrose beat Barden, Barden beat Clarke.  Clarke/Barden 4/5, Penrose 3.5/5.)


Cien Miniaturas Rusas
Cien Miniaturas Rusas


I used to see Peter regularly at the Paignton and Hastings Congresses in the 1990’s but not in the last couple of years. His health seems restored.”

Peter with Brian Reilly observing playing ? with ? in the background.
Peter with Brian Reilly observing playing ? with ? in the background.

PHC by Ken Harman :

“I am very pleased to hear about your book about Peter Clarke; not sure I can contribute much as I wasn’t a friend of his so only knew him through seeing him and Margaret at chess tournaments. He was a quiet spoken gentleman who played such quiet positional chess that I would call it ‘monastic chess’. I think Clarke thought chess a search for spiritual truth, only to be found in the cloisters of spiritual truth, only to be found in the cloisters of contemplative life – ‘The Thomas Merton of Chess’, if you like. Of course, I have no idea if he was a spiritual man in real life but his chess always struck me as if he was reaching for heaven and found hell in a doubled pawn. He seemed like a nice man and I suspect his wife Margaret was the dominant one. I have his book on Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess (Bell 1961) which is signed by him and may well have been his copy, because as you open the book – there is a small newspaper clipping and a photo of Clarke sellotaped which is rather unusual being that the book is about Tal, and not him. ”

Peter plays Erich Gottlieb Eliskases at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad
Peter plays Erich Gottlieb Eliskases at the 1960 Leipzig Olympiad

PHC by Alan P. Borwell (ICCF Honorary President) :

“I first met Peter at the 1959 BCF Congress in York when I was a member of local organising committee and then at Paignton and when York played & won the National Club Championship in 1964/5.

In 1966 I played Peter in the British Chess Championship in last round in Sunderland.”

Peter analyses "al fresco" at Tel Aviv 1958 with Owen Hindle and (back to camera) Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth : thanks Leonard Barden.
Peter analyses “al fresco” at Tel Aviv 1958 with Owen Hindle and (back to camera) Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth : thanks Leonard Barden.

and from Wikipedia :

Peter Hugh Clarke (18 March 1933 – 11 December 2014) was an English chess player, who hold titles FIDE master (FM) and International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (1980), FIDE International arbiter (1976), Chess Olympiad individual silver medal winner (1956).

Peter Clarke started playing chess at the age of six. He twice won the London Boys’ Chess Championship (1950, 1951). He was British Chess Championship multiplier participant where five times won silver medal.

Since 1959, Peter Hugh Clarke has been working as a chess journalist in the newspaper Sunday Times and magazine British Chess Magazine. He known as the biographical book’s author of Mikhail Tal (1961) and Tigran Petrosian (1964). Thanks to his good knowledge of Russian language, he translated the book about Vasily Smyslov in 1958. In 1963 he wrote a book 100 Soviet Chess Miniatures.

Peter Clarke played for England in the Chess Olympiads :

In 1954, at second reserve board in the 11th Chess Olympiad in Amsterdam (+2, =2, -3),
In 1956, at reserve board in the 12th Chess Olympiad in Moscow (+7, =5, -0) and won individual silver medal,
In 1958, at fourth board in the 13th Chess Olympiad in Munich (+2, =10, -3),
In 1960, at third board in the 14th Chess Olympiad in Leipzig (+4, =7, -3),
In 1962, at second board in the 15th Chess Olympiad in Varna (+3, =10, -2),
In 1964, at second board in the 16th Chess Olympiad in Tel Aviv (+2, =8, -2),
In 1966, at first board in the 17th Chess Olympiad in Havana (+2, =10, -1),
In 1968, at third board in the 18th Chess Olympiad in Lugano (+0, =7, -1).
Also he played for England in the World Student Team Chess Championship (1954, 1959)and in the Clare Benedict Chess Cup (1960-1961, 1963, 1965, 1967-1968) where won team silver medal (1960) and 4 bronze medals (1961, 1963, 1967, 1968).

In later years, Peter Clarke active participated in correspondence chess tournaments. In 1977, he won British Correspondence Chess Championship. In 1976, Peter Clarke was awarded the International Correspondence Chess Master (IMC) title and received the International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (GMC) title four years later.