Category Archives: 2021

Remembering Johannes Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)

Johannes Hermann Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)
Johannes Hermann Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)

BCN Remembers Johannes Hermann Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)

From the July 2012 editorial in British Chess Magazine we had this report :

“Johann Hermann Zukertort’s (1842-1888) grave was rededicated last month in London’s crowded Brompton Cemetery, largely thanks to an initiative led by Stuart Conquest. The resting place of one of the leading players of the nineteenth century was recorded but the grave had fallen into terrible disrepair. See BCM 1888, pp.307-8 and p.338-340 for the obituary of the great man. We read that his death ‘was terribly sudden’, that he was buried on 26th June, 1888 and that ‘several pretty wreaths were laid on the coffin …’”

GM Stuart Conquest at the re-dedication of Zukertort's grave at Brompton Cemetery in June 2012, photograph by Ray Morris-Hill
GM Stuart Conquest at the re-dedication of Zukertort’s grave at Brompton Cemetery in June 2012, photograph by Ray Morris-Hill

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

Polish-born Jew, from about 1871 to 1886 second player in the world after Steinitz. From about 1862 to 1866 Zukertort, then living in Breslau, played many friendly games with Anderssen, at first receiving odds of a knight but soon meeting on even terms. They played two matches in Berlin, Zukertort losing the first in 1868 (+3 = 1—8) and winning the second in 1871 (+5 — 2).

In 1872 a group of London players, anxious to find someone who could defeat Steinitz, paid Zukertort 20 guineas to come to England. He came, he stayed, but he failed to beat Steinitz.

Johannes Hermann Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)
Johannes Hermann Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)

Zukertort took third place after Steinitz and Blackburne at London 1872, the strongest tournament in which He had yet played, and later in the year was decisively beaten by Steinitz in match play ( + 1=4—7). Zukertort settled in London as a professional player.

He won matches against Potter in 1872 ( + 4=8—2), Rosentalis in 1880 ( + 7=11-1), and Blackburne in 1881 ( + 7=5-2), He also had a fair record in tournament play: Leipzig 1877, second equal with Anderssen after L. Paulsen ahead of Winawer:-* Paris 1878, first ( + 14=5—3) equal with Winawer ahead of Blackburne (Zukertort won the play-off, +2=2); Berlin 1881, second alter Blackburne ahead of Winawer; and Vienna 1882, fourth equal with Mackenzie after Steinitz, Winawer, and Mason.

Johannes Herman Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)
Johannes Herman Zukertort (07-ix-1842 20-vi-1888)

The world’s nine best players were among the competitors in the double-round London tournament of 1883 when Zukertort achieved his greatest victory: first prize (+22—4) three points ahead of Steinitz, the second prize winner, in seven weeks and a day he played 33 games (seven draws were replayed) and towards the end he relieved the strain by taking opiates, the cause of his losing his last three games. This victory led to the first match for the world championship, a struggle between him and Steinitz, USA, 1886. After nearly ten weeks of relentless pressure by his opponent Zukertort lost (- 1 – 5=5 —10) i winning only one of the last 15 games. His spirit crushed, his health failing, he was advised to give up competitive chess, but there was nothing else he could do. I am prepared, he said, l to be taken away at any moment.’ Seized by a stroke while playing at London’s famous coffee-house, Simpson’s Divan, he died the next day.

Johannes Zukertort playing Wilhelm Steinitz
Johannes Zukertort playing Wilhelm Steinitz

Like Anderssen, his teacher, Zukertort had a direct and straightforward style, and in combinative situations he could calculate far ahead. Having a prodigious memory he could recollect at will countless games and opening variations, a talent which may have limited his vision. (For his match with Steinitz in 1872 his extensive opening preparations brought him only one win. Steinitz was the better player in unfamiliar situations.) As an annotator and analyst Zukertort was outstanding in his time, and much of his work in these fields appeared in the Chess Monthly which he and Hoffer edited from 1879 to 1888.

Zukertort read widely and what he read became, as he said ‘iron-printed in my head’. Hoffer recalls Zukertort holding a visitor from India spellbound with a convincing and detailed account of a tiger-hunt, although it must have been outside his experience. Zukertort’s own account of his early life was reported in the Norfolk News, 16 Nov. 1872, He claimed aristocratic (Prussian and Polish) descent, and fluency in nine languages. “He learnt one language to read Dante, another to read Cervantes, and a third, Sanskrit, to trace the origin of chess,’ Besides the study of theology, philology, and social science he is also an original thinker on some of the problems that perplex humanity , ” He is ‘an accomplished swordsman, the best domino player in Berlin, one of the best whist players living, and so good a pistol shot that at fifteen paces he is morally certain to hit the ace of hearts . , , has found time to play 6,000 games of chess with Anderssen alone … a pupil of Moscheles, and in 1862-6 musical critic of the first journal in Silesia … is also a military veteran … he served in the Danish, in the Austrian, and in the French campaign , , , he was present at the following engagements, viz, in Denmark, Missunde, Duppcl, and Alsen; in Austria, Trauienau, Koniginhof, Kdniggratz (Sadowa), and Blumcnau; in France, Spicheeren, Pange (Vionville), Gravelotte, Noisevillc, and all other affairs before Metz, Twice dangerously wounded, and once left for dead upon the field, he is entitled to wear seven medals besides the orders of the Red Eagle and the Iron Cross, . . . He obtained the degree of M.D. at Breslau in 1865, having chiefly devoted his attention to chemistry under Professor Bunsen at Heidelberg, and to physiology at Berlin under Professor Virchow … is now on the staff of Prince Bismarck’s private organ, the Allgemeine Zetiling, and is chief editor of a political journal which receives “officios’” from the Government at Berlin. He is . . . the author of the Grosses Schach Handbuck and a Leitfaden , and , . . was for several years editor of the Neue Berliner Schachzeitung. ’ There is some truth in the last sentence: he was co-author of the books, co-editor of the chess magazine.

A. Olson, J. H. Zukertort (1912) is a collection of 201 games with Swedish text.

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks

“One of the leading players of the last century, Zukertort was born in Riga on 7th September 1842. His father was a Prussian and his mother a Pole. When he was 13, his family moved to Breslau. After studying chemistry at Heidelberg and physiology at Berlin, he obtained his doctorate of medicine at Breslau University in 1865. He served as a doctor with the Prussian Army during his country’s wars against Denmark, Austria and France and was decorated for gallantry.

Zukertort was a man of many talents. He had a prodigious memory, and it was said that he never forgot a game he had played. He spoke 11 languages, and he was an excellent pistol shot and fencer but it was journalism and chess that he chose for a career.

Zukertort learned to play chess when he was 18, and two years later he met Anderssen and became his pupil. Within three years he had become one of the strongest players in North Germany. He first drew attention to himself as a blindfold simultaneous player. In 1868, he gave a simultaneous blindfold display against seven players in Berlin. This was his first blindfold performan@, and it was so successful that he gave several further performances, almost immediately increasing the number of his opponents to 12.

Between 1867 and 1871, he was joint editor with Anderssen of the Neue Berliner Schachzeityng. In 1871 he played a match against Anderssen, probably the second strongest player in the world at that time, and beat_him by 5-2. Following this victory, he was invited to take part in the 1872 London Tournament. He came 3rd and, probably because he was disappointed at his result, immediately challenged – the winner, Steinitz, to a match for the title of World Champion. Steinitz had claimed this title after his victory over Anderssen in 1866. Zukertort lost the match by + 1 -7 :4.

A Zukertort Postage Stamp from Guinea
A Zukertort Postage Stamp from Guinea

Meanwhile, Zukertort had decided to make England his permanent home and became a naturalised Englishman in l878.

Zukertort tied with Anderssen for 2nd prize in a master tournament in Leipzig in 1877, but his first major international event was Paris 1878, when he tied for lst place with Winawer and won the play-oft. In 1880 he beat the French champion, Rosenthal, in a match 7-1, and the following year he beat Blackburne +7 -2 – 5. The greatest performance of his career came in 1883, when in the London Tournament he won lst prize, three points ahead of Steinitz, who came 2nd. His victory was certain two weeks before the end of the tournament when he had a score of  22 out of 23. With victory secure, he went on to lose his last three games, the strain having proved too much.

Zukertort was advised by his doctor to give up serious chess but he refused and within a short time left England for a chess tour of the United States, Canada and Europe. On his return from this tour, he left almost immediately to play a second match for the world title against Steinitz. This took place in 1886. Zukertort was in no fit state of health
for such a match, and it proved too much for him. He lost by +5 -10 =5 and returned to England a physical and nervous wreck.

Zukertort never fully recovered. He continued to play chess, but with little success. He died at Charing Cross Hospital on 20th June 1888 of cerebral haemorrhage, following a game at Simpson’s ‘Divan’.”

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

“One of the most talented players of all time and possibly an English Prussian Polish Jewish grandmaster, the antecedents and early career of Zukertort are shrouded in mystery, a mystery that was the more complete in that the only account of these comes from Zukertort with a lack of corroboration so great that perhaps he really was telling the truth. Whatever the truth may be it is certain that he was a great chess player, one of those who carry with them the aura of certain genius. According to Zukertort, then, he was born in Lublin of mixed Prussian and Polish descent and his mother was the Baroness Krzyzanovska. The name of his mother sounds incredibly like an invention of W. C. Fields and it is difficult to believe that his father’s name, Zukertort, was not Jewish.

Again according to Zukertort he studied chemistry at Heidelberg and physiology at Berlin, claiming to have obtained his doctorate of medicine at Breslau University. His versatility was astonishing. He spoke nine languages including Hebrew and was acquainted with several more. He had been a soldier, having fought in several campaigns for Prussia against Austria, Denmark and France; and once had been left for dead on the battlefield.

A music critic, editor of a political paper, on the staff of Bismarck’s newspaper, the Allgemeine Zeitung; gifted with a memory so colossal that he never forgot a game he played; a consummate fencer, a blindfold simultaneous player of undoubted repute (he had played as many as fifteen simultaneously blindfold) and a grandmaster with justified pretensions towards the world title: most of these attributes we have to take on Zukertort’s word. But there is enough left that is substantiated to show his great importance in the history of chess.

His early chess career had much to do with Anderssen whom he beat in a match, when Anderssen had grown old, in 1871 in Germany by +5-2, having lost a previous match to him in Berlin in 1868 by +3 -8 =1. On the strength of his win over Anderssen in the second match he was invited to play in a small but strong tournament in London in 1872 where he came 3rd below Steinitz and Blackburne. Immediately afterwards he played a match with Steinitz in which he was overwhelmingly defeated by +1-7 =4.It is unlikely that this was for the World Championship since no mention was made of the title at the time and the stakes were small, £2O for the winner and £l0 for the loser.

Despite this disastrous loss, which contained the seeds of further disasters, Zukertort felt that London was his true home and decided to stay in England, becoming a naturalized citizen in 1878. His results in tournament and match play from then on showed a steep upward curve. He was 2nd in London 1876, lst in a small tournament in Cologne 1877 and :2nd at Leipzig that year. He came lst in a big tournament at Paris 1878 where he tied with Winawer and won the play-off.

In 1880 he won a match in London against Rosenthal by +7 -l =11 and in the following year he was 2nd to Blackburne in Berlin. He was no less than 3 points behind Blackburne but he avenged this by beating him in a match in London the same year by +7 -2 =5.

A comparative setback came in a great tournament at Vienna in 1882 when he tied for fourth place with Mackenzie, below Steinitz, Winawer and Mason but in 1883 came the peak of his career when
he won lst prize in the great London tournament, 3 points ahead of Steinitz and 5.5 points ahead of Blackburne who came 3rd.

The remarkable nature of his victory is to be seen from the fact that he was sure of first prize with some two weeks still to go when he had a score of 22/23. But, ominously, his health was giving way and he had been sustaining himself by the use of drugs. He lost his last three games. It is very probable that this high point in his career was also the time when his health began to deteriorate under the excessive nervous strains by his conscious efforts to out rival Steinitz.

Thus, though he had been warned by his doctor he refused to abandon serious play and in 1886 he played his match for the World Championship against Steinitz in the USA, losing by +S -10 =5. The strain was this time too great an and he returned to England with his health completely shattered.

This was reflected in his subsequent results. =7th in London 1886 and =3rd in a smaller tournament at Nottingham that year, he had disastrous results throughout 1887: =l5th at Frankfurt-am-Main, 4th in a small tournament in London and a match loss there to Blackburne by +1-5:8.

In the last year of his life he was =7th in London in 1888 playing to the last possible moment, he died from a cerebral haemorrhage after a game at Simpson’s Divan.

Despite a career that stopped as if it were halfway, Zukertort is clearly one of the chess immortals and there is about his best game a sort of resilient and shining splendour that no other player possesses.”

Zukertort was buried in the Brompton Cemetery. He are details.

The grave was rededicated in 2012 thanks to the efforts of many chess enthusiasts.

Several opening variations have been named after Zukertort :

The Zukertort Defence in the Vienna Game, a variation advocated by Zukertort from 1871.

After 6 exd5 Bg4T 7 Nf3 Black castles, sacrificing a piece for counterattack :

The Zukertort Opening, 1.Nf3 abhorred by Ruy Lopez, used by Zukertort always as a preliminary
to 2.d4, now the fourth most popular opening move, after 1.e4, 1.d4, and 1 c4.

The Zukertort variation, in the Spanish opening, favoured by Zukertort in the 1880s :

but laid to rest soon after.

The Zukertort Variation in the Philidor Defence :

Possibly the Colle-Zukertort Opening is the most well-known

and still continues to be written about to this day.

He was inducted into the World Chess Hall of Fame in 2016.

Here is an interesting article from the ruchess web site.

Dominic Lawson wrote this article in 2014.

An interesting article from chess.com

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Johannes Zukertort: Artist of the Chessboard
Johannes Zukertort: Artist of the Chessboard
Eminent Victorian Chess Players
Eminent Victorian Chess Players
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Happy Birthday GM Jonathan Levitt (03-vi-1963)

GM Jonathan Levitt
GM Jonathan Levitt

BCN wishes happy birthday to GM Jonathan Paul Levitt (03-vi-1963)

From Wikipedia (Dutch version) :

Jonathan Levitt , Jon, (born in 1963) is a British chess player . In 1984 he became a FIDE International Master and in 1994 a FIDE Grand Master.

GM Jonathan Levitt, photograph by Cathy Rogers
GM Jonathan Levitt, photograph by Cathy Rogers

Levitt wrote chess anecdotes on the (no longer existing) chess portal kasparovchess.com . He also has a chess column in “Oxford Today”. Levitt is also known for his talent tests and he is also a chess teacher. Moreover, he is a master in endgame studies. He takes chess photos, some of which can be seen in Wikipedia.

Jonathan Levitt in play with Michael Adams, Lloyds Bank, 1990, Philidor, 1/2-1/2
Jonathan Levitt in play with Michael Adams, Lloyds Bank, 1990, Philidor, 1/2-1/2

Levitt is also the author of several chess books: “Secrets of Spectacular Chess”, “Genius in Chess”, “Advice on Improving Your Game”. He also makes chess videos for the internet.

From chessgames.com :

“Jonathan Paul Levitt was born in Southwark (London), England. Awarded the IM title in 1984, he is now a GM (1991) and a composer of problems. Winner of the Staunton Memorial in 2005. His notable works as an author include “Secrets of Spectacular Chess” and “Genius in Chess”.”

Jonathan achieved a peak rating of 2495 in January 1989 at the age of 26 and lives in Ipswich.

He shared 1st place the GLC Masters in 1986 with 10.5/15 with Neil McDonald :

Jonathan Levitt, ? and Neil McDonald at the 1986 GLC Masters
Jonathan Levitt, ? and Neil McDonald at the 1986 GLC Masters

GLC Masters crosstable, 1986
GLC Masters crosstable, 1986

and was first equal with Jonathan Speelman in the Third Staunton Memorial in 2005 :

Third Staunton Memorial, 2005
Third Staunton Memorial, 2005
GM Jonathan Levitt, photographer unknown
GM Jonathan Levitt, photographer unknown

Here is his personal web site

Genius in Chess
Genius in Chess
Secrets of Spectacular Chess
Secrets of Spectacular Chess
Contemplating Comedy, Jon Levitt, The Conrad Press (20 Nov. 2020), ISBN-13 : 978-1913567408
Contemplating Comedy, Jon Levitt, The Conrad Press (20 Nov. 2020), ISBN-13 : 978-1913567408
GM Jonathan Levitt
GM Jonathan Levitt
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Happy Birthday GM Tamas Fodor Jr. (02-vi-1991)

GM Tamas Fodor
GM Tamas Fodor

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to GM Tamas Fodor Jr. (02-vi-1991)

Tamas was born in Kalocsa, in Bács-Kiskun county, Hungary.

He became a FIDE Master in 2003 and a GM in 2013.

He reached a peak rating of 2533 in June 2019 at the age of 28. In the FIDE rating list we have also Tamas Fodor and Tamas Fodor Sr.

According to Chessgsames.com :

“Grandmaster (2012). Won a double GM norm during the 13th European Individual Championship (2012) where he scored 6/11 and followed with another norm at the Caissa GM event in September 2012, gaining his GM title on 23 September 2012 at the age of 21 years 3 months and 21 days. (1)

Won the 3rd 4NCL Congress in July 2015. (2)

Son of Tamas Fodor Sr.”

Tamas plays for 4NCL Cheddleton, Wood Green (in the London League) and Hendon.

GM Tamas Fodor
GM Tamas Fodor
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Remembering Guy Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980), scanned from Chess Pie 1922 by Michael McDowell
Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980), scanned from Chess Pie 1922 by Michael McDowell

Remembering Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions, Chandler, who was born on 21st August 1889, has composed about 125 two and three-move problems, all in traditional style. Some 30 have gained tourney honours. He was the chess editor of the Hampshire Telegraph and Post from 1911-1921 and he was a founder member of the British Chess Problem Society, Its Hon. Secretary from 1919 – 1925 and Hon. Secretary and Treasurer since 1951.

G.W.Chandler
Commended “The Problemist” 1960

White to play and mate in two moves

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

“British problemist, active as a composer mainly during the 1920 and 1930s, specialising in model-mate three-movers. Best known for his work as Secretary of the British Chess Problem Society 1919-25 and as Secretary and Treasurer from 1952. International Judge (1957). “

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A History of Chess
A History of Chess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Short History of Chess
A Short History of Chess

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You may read the entire book here

From Amazon :

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

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

Here is his Wikipedia entry

and here is an excellent article from Edward Winter.

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Remembering Dr. IM Stefan (István) Fazekas (23-iii-1898 03-v-1967)

Dr. Fazekas (left) playing Bob Wade at an Ilford Congress, photographer unknown
Dr. Fazekas (left) playing Bob Wade at an Ilford Congress, photographer unknown
Signature of S Fazekas from a Brian Reilly "after dinner" postcard from Southsea 1951.
Signature of S Fazekas from a Brian Reilly “after dinner” postcard from Southsea 1951.

BCN remembers Dr. IM István (Stefan) Fazekas who passed away in Buckhurst Hill, Essex on Wednesday, May 3rd, 1967 and the death was recorded in the district of Redbridge.

The probate record of June 7th, 1967 is thus:

June 7th 1967 probate record for Dr. Stefan Fazekas
June 7th 1967 probate record for Dr. Stefan Fazekas

István Fazekas was born in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary on Wednesday, March 23rd 1898. He adopted the name Stefan subsequently. Satoraljaujhely is very much on the Hungary – Czechoslovakian border and records for Fazekas variously show both countries as his country of birth.

The September 1939 register records Stephen Fazekas as being married, a refugee, and a general practitioner living with his wife Helen (born 17th July 1900)  at 21, Old Gloucester Street, Bloomsbury, Camden, London WC1. The “household” had a total of fourteen residents and this building in 2021 appears to be part of the Mary Ward Centre and presumably was providing temporary accommodation.

The 1948 London Gazette records that on June 16th he lived at 281 Buckhurst Way, Buckhurst Hill, Essex and that he and Helen had a son, George. On this day Stefan was granted UK naturalisation following the swearing of an oath of allegiance:

The London Gazette, 1948
The London Gazette, 1948

The above notice is further validated by the official record stored at The National Archive, Kew, reference HO 334/234/4061.

281, Buckhurst Way, Buckhurst Hill, Redbridge, Essex, IG9 6JB
281, Buckhurst Way, Buckhurst Hill, Redbridge, Essex, IG9 6JB

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXVII, Number 7 (July), pages 195-6 we have an obituary written by Peter Clarke :

The death of Dr. Fazekas on May 3rd has deprived British chess of one of its leading and most colourful figures. Ever since he came to this country nearly thirty years ago he took an active part, in the game at all levels, from club to international, rarely missing the chance – even when not in the best of health- to test his strength in competition and express his ideas afresh.

Stefan Fazekas was born on March 23rd, 1898, at Sitoraljaujhely on the Hungarian-Czechoslovak border, but it was not until a few years after the Great War, in which he served and was wounded, that he got the opportunity to play serious tournament chess. By present-day standards, however, events were few and far between, and the game always had to take second place to his medical work.

The Doctor’s best international performances, for which he was later awarded the master title by F.I.D.E., came in the ‘thirties. In 1931, for instance, he was 2nd at Kosice, 3rd at Brno and 3rd at Prague. As it remained throughout his career, his play was excessively variable: fine conceptions were always liable to be ruined by blunders or impetuosity. The following game, played at Munchentratz in 1933, shows all going well; it earned inclusion in Le Lionnais’ anthology Les Prix de beauté aux échecs.

In 1939 Dr. Fazekas brought his family to England and established himself as a successful and much loved G.P. at Buckhurst Hill, Essex. He soon took a dominating part in county chess and went on to win the championship eleven times. In national events his inconsistency seemed too great a handicap, but at Plymouth in 1957, after so many tries, he astounded everyone by winning the British Championship in front of, among others, Alexander and Penrose.

(Ed. He was the oldest person to win the British Championship at 59 years of age.)

The next year fate struck him a cruel blow when he was left out of the B.C.F. team for the Munich Olympiad. Yet after returning the trophy in protest he overcame his bitterness and took his place once more in the championship tournament-he could not resist the thrill of the struggle.

(Ed. The Selection Committee was: RJ Broadbent (Chairman), CHO’D Alexander, RWB Clarke, WA Fairhurst, Dr. S. Fazekas, H. Golombek, JH van Meurs, and AF Stammwitz (Secretary).)

Knowing that his best over-the-board days were behind him, the Doctor decided to go in for correspondence chess in 1959, and he at once found himself surprisingly at home in it. Here his old weaknesses could be set aside and his vast experience put to good use. Moreover, his great love for chess enabled him to devote hours of work to the analysis of a single move if necessary.

His rapid successes in this field won him a place in the Semi-Finals of the 5th World Correspondence Championship (where he finished 4th out of 14) and led to his being chosen as Board 1 for the British team in the 5th Olympiad. On the results of these events he was awarded the title of international C.C. master. That he deserved it may be judged from this fine strategic win against a grandmaster (C.C.) opponent in the individual tournament.

At the time of his death Dr. Fazekas had made a score of 5 out of 7 in the Olympiad Final and was still engaged with Zagorovsky of the U.S.S.R., a performance which showed his correspondence play to be close to grandmaster standard. And to end one’s days actually playing a World Champion is a distinction which I am sure would have appealed to this Doctor’s rich sense of humour.

While Dr. Fazekas’ social work as a humanist was for the peace of the world, in chess he was noted as a great fighter, in some ways reminiscent of Lasker. There was no retirement for him.

At Ilford in 1965 and 1966 he eagerly took on and held his own with a generation fifty years his junior, and this year he had once again qualified to play in the British Championship. The tournament at Oxford will not seem quite the same without him. I and his many friends will miss his wit and ebullience, his generosity, his love of life and chess.-P. H. C.

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

“International Master and British Champion 1957. A dangerous attacking player but weak in positional play. Fazekas was born at Satoraljaujhely on the Hungarian-Czechoslovakian border. In the earlier part of his career he was Czechoslovak. This period comprised his international career and he was awarded the title of international master many years later after he had emigrated to England in 1939.

It was his results in 1931 that gained him the title: 2nd at Kosice, 3rd at Prague and 3rd at Brno ahead of Honlinger, Mikenas, Noteboom and Rellstab.

In England he became much-respected general medical practitioner, and was therefore really an amateur at chess since he devoted himself to his profession. But he played much club and county chess and was eleven times champion of his county, Essex.

In 1957, almost out of the blue, he won the British Championship in a strong year that included Penrose and Alexander.

He played a number of times in the championship after that, but never looked like gaining the title since increasing years took their toll. He was in fact the oldest player ever to have won the British Championship.

In 1959 he took up correspondence chess and became an international correspondence chess master.”

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

“International Master (1953), International Correspondence Chess Master and British Chess Champion in 1957.

Fazekas was born in Satoraljaujhely on the Hungarian-Czechoslovakian border, on 23rd March 1898. He was awarded the title of International Master for his performances in the 1930s, which included 2nd at Kosice 1931; 3rd at Brno 1931 and 3rd at Prague 1931.

In 1939 he emigrated to England, where he practised as a general medical practitioner at Buckhurst Hill in Essex. Chess always took second place to his profession, and his tournament appearences were limited. He played regularly in county and club events and was 11 times champion of Essex.

In 1957, to everyone’s surprise, he won the British Championship, ahead of such players as Penrose, Alexander, Clarke, Wade and Milner-Barry. Shortly after this victory came a bitter blow to Fazekas when he was not selected as a member of the British Chess Federation team for the 1958 chess Olympiad at Munich.

Fazekas returned the championship trophy in protest at his exclusion and the controversy over whether he should or should not have been selected raged for many months.

Dr. Fazekas’s love of chess eventually overcame his resentment and he continued to appear regularly in the British Championship, but never again repeated his success.

In 1959, he took up correspondence chess and reached the semi-finals of the fifth World Correspondence Chess Championship and was selected to play on top board for the British team in the Fifth Correspondence Chess Olympiad. This event was still in progress at the time of this death. He died on 3rd May 1967, at his home in Buckhurst Hill.”

Dr. Fazekas was Southern Counties (SCCU) Champion twice in 1951-2 and 1952-53.

In his early days he was a successful composer of problems:

Fazekas, Istvan Magyar Sakkvilag, 191, Meson database PID: 191037
Fazekas, Istvan Magyar Sakkvilag, 191, Meson database PID: 191037
Fazekas, Istvan Pesti Naplo, 1913, Meson database PID: 190116
Fazekas, Istvan Pesti Naplo, 1913, Meson database PID: 190116

From Chessgames.com :

“Dr Stefan (ne Istvan) Fazekas was born in Satoraljaujhely, Hungary. Awarded the IM title in 1953 and the IMC title in 1964, he was British Champion in 1957 and is the oldest player ever to have won the title. He passed away in 1967 in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, England.”

In Edward Winter’s Chess Notes there is a note from Leonard Barden concerning SFs spoken English (under Chess Note #10361)

Here is his brief Wikipedia entry

István (Stefan) Fazekas
István (Stefan) Fazekas
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Remembering David Hooper (31-viii-1915 03-v-1998)

David Hooper, from The Encyclopaedia of Chess, Harry Golombek, Batsford, 1977. The tie is an Old  Whitgiftians
David Hooper, from The Encyclopaedia of Chess, Harry Golombek, Batsford, 1977. The tie is an Old Whitgiftians.

BCN remembers David Hooper who passed away in a Taunton (Somerset) nursing home on Sunday, May 3rd 1998. Probate (#9851310520) was granted in Brighton on June 24th 1998.

Prior to the nursing home David had been living at 33, Mansfield Road, Taunton, TA1 3NJ and before that at 5, Haimes Lane, Shaftesbury, Dorset, SP7 8AJ.

For most of the time between Reigate and Shaftesbury David lived in Whitchurch, Hampshire.

David Vincent Hooper was born on Tuesday, August 31st 1915 in Reigate, Surrey to Vincent Hooper and Edith Marjorie Winter who married in Reigate, Surrey in 1909. On this day the first French ace, Adolphe Pégoud, was killed in combat. He had scored six victories.

David was one of six children: Roger Garth (1910-?), Edwin Morris (1911-1942), Isobel Mary (12/01/1917-2009), Helene Edith (1916-1982) and Elizabeth Anne Oliver (1923-2000) were his siblings.

David attended Whitgift School, Croydon, and (thanks to Leonard Barden) we know that “although there was no chess played there in his time he was proud of later accomplishments and often wore an Old Whitgiftians tie, especially for posed photos including this article’s title image and the one in the Chess Notes article by Edward Winter (see the foot of this article).

Recorded in the September 1939 register David was aged 24 and living at 94, High Street, Reigate, Surrey:

Historical Map showing 94, High Street, Reigate, Surrey
Historical Map showing 94, High Street, Reigate, Surrey

In 2021 this property appears to be a flat (rather than bridge) over the River Kwai Restaurant:

94, High Street, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9AP
94, High Street, Reigate, Surrey, RH2 9AP

Living with David was his sister Isobel who was listed a “potential nurse”. David’s occupation at this time was listed as Architectural Assistant and he was single. We think that three others lived at this address at the time but they are not listed under the “100 year rule”. We know that David was also a surveyor and went on to attain professional membership of the Royal Institution of British Architects (RIBA).

In the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette May 27th 1944 there appeared this report of a simultaneous display on Empire Day (May 24th) at Dr. Marsh’s house:

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, May 27th 1944
Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, May 27th 1944

and from The Western Morning News, 9th April 1947 we have:

Western Morning News, 9th April 1947
Western Morning News, 9th April 1947

and then from The Nottingham Evening Post, 16th August 1949 we have:

Nottingham Evening Post, 16th August 1949
Nottingham Evening Post, 16th August 1949

In 1950 aged 35 David married Joan M Higley (or Rose!) in the district of South Eastern Surrey.

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

Leonard Barden kindly provided us with these memories of David:

“He liked to drive very fast while keeping up a stream of talk with his passenger. I recall his transporting me to the 1950 British Championship in Buxton and feeling in a state of low-key terror the whole journey. When we reached a sign Buxton 30 I felt a great sense of relief that the ordeal was nearly over. Returning two weeks later, some miles down the road we passed Milner-Barry and Alexander in a small car, slowly and carefully driven by M-B whose head nearly reached the roof. As we swept by David gave a celebratory hoot.

I thought this was just me being unduly nervous, but years later Ken Whyld told me he felt the same as a Hooper passenger and that so did most others. David was actually very safe and I don’t think he ever had an accident.

David worked in Middle East for some years and was the chief architect for the construction of a new airport at Aden.

A Guide to Chess Endings was 90% written by David, with chapters then looked over by Euwe and his chess secretary Carel van den Berg. All David’s endgame books are lucidly written and it is a pity where they are not available in algebraic.

When The Unknown Capablanca was published I asked for and received from David an inscribed copy for Nigel Short‘s ninth birthday., which I presented to him personally at an EPSCA team event. Curious to know how it was received, I phoned Nigel’s father (David) a couple of days later and was informed “He’s already on to Capa’s European Tour” (which is I think about 100 pages into the book).” – Thanks Leonard!

Ken Whyld wrote an obituary which appeared in British Chess Magazine, Volume 118 (1998), Number 6, page 326 as follows :

DAVID VINCENT HOOPER died on 3rd May this year in a nursing home in Taunton. He had been in declining health for some months. Born in Reigate, 31st August 1915, his early chess years were with the Battersea CC and Surrey.

David Hooper (left) in conversation with Alan Phillips. Location and photographer unknown.
David Hooper (left) in conversation with Alan Phillips. Location and photographer unknown.

He won the (ed. Somerset) County Championship three times, and the London Championship in 1948. His generation was at its chess peak in the years when war curtailed opportunities, but he won the British Correspondence Championship in 1944.

His games from that event are to be found in Chess for Rank and File by Roche and Battersby.

Chess for the Rank and File
Chess for the Rank and File

Also at that time, he won the 1944 tournament at Blackpool, defeating veteran Grandmaster Jacques Mieses.

David was most active in the decade that followed, playing five times in the British Championship.

His highest place there was at Nottingham 1954, when, after leading in the early stages, he finished half a point behind the joint champions, Leonard Barden and Alan Phillips.

David was in the British Olympic team at Helsinki 1952, and in the same year accidentally played top board for England in one of the then traditional weekend matches against the Netherlands. British Champion Klein took offence at a Sunday Times report of his draw with former World Champion Dr. Euwe on the Saturday and refused to play on Sunday. Thus David was drafted in to meet Euwe, and acquitted himself admirably. Even though he lost, the game took pride of place in that month’s
BCM.

Alan Phillips plays David Hooper on August 20th 1954 in round five of the British Championships in Nottingham, photographer unknown
Alan Phillips plays David Hooper on August 20th 1954 in round five of the British Championships in Nottingham, photographer unknown

In the following game, played in the Hastings Premier l95l-2, he found an improvement on Botvinnik’s play against Bronstein in game 17 of their 1951 match, when 7.Ng3 was played because it was thought that after 7.Nf4 d5 it was necessary to play 8 Qb3.

In his profession as architect David worked in the Middle East for some years from the mid-1950s, and when he returned to England he made his mark as a writer. His Practical Chess Endgames

Practical Chess Endgames (Chess Handbooks), David Hooper, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1968, ISBN 0 7100 5226 X
Practical Chess Endgames (Chess Handbooks), David Hooper, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1968, ISBN 0 7100 5226 X

has an enduring appeal. Two of his books appeared in the Wildhagen biographical games series on Steinitz, and Capablanca. The last was written jointly with Gilchrist.

William Steinitz : Selected Chess Games, David Hooper
William Steinitz : Selected Chess Games, David Hooper

With Euwe he wrote A Guide to Chess Endings;

A Guide to Chess Endings, Dover (1976 reprint), ISBN 0-486-23332-4
A Guide to Chess Endings, Dover (1976 reprint), ISBN 0-486-23332-4

with Cafferty, A Complete Defence to 1.e4;

A Complete Defence to 1.P-K4 A Study of Petroff's Defence, Bernard Cafferty & David Hooper, Pergamon Press, 1967, ISBN 0 08 024089 5
A Complete Defence to 1.P-K4 A Study of Petroff’s Defence, Bernard Cafferty & David Hooper, Pergamon Press, 1967, ISBN 0 08 024089 5

A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames;

A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, David Hooper, Bell & Hyman Limited, London, 1970, ISBN 0 7135 1761 1
A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, David Hooper, Bell & Hyman Limited, London, 1970, ISBN 0 7135 1761 1

A Complete Defence to 1.d4;

A Complete Defence to 1d4: A Study of the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Bernard Cafferty & David Hooper, Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024102-6
A Complete Defence to 1d4: A Study of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Bernard Cafferty & David Hooper, Pergamon Press, ISBN 0-08-024102-6

and Play for Mate;

Play for Mate (1990), DV Hooper and Bernard Cafferty, ISBN-13: 978-0713464740
Play for Mate (1990), DV Hooper and Bernard Cafferty, ISBN-13: 978-0713464740

with Brandreth The Unknown Capablanca,

The Unknown Capablanca, David Hooper & Dale Brandreth, Batsford, London, 1975, ISBN, 0 7134 2964
The Unknown Capablanca, David Hooper & Dale Brandreth, Batsford, London, 1975, ISBN, 0 7134 2964

and with Ken Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess.

The Oxford Companion to Chess, 1st Edition, David Hooper & Ken Whyld, Oxford University Press, 1984, ISBN 0 19 217540 8
The Oxford Companion to Chess, 1st Edition, David Hooper & Ken Whyld, Oxford University Press, 1984, ISBN 0 19 217540 8

Ken Whyld

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

British amateur (an architect by profession) whose best result was =5 in the British Championship at Felixstowe 1949 along with, amongst others, Broadbent and Fairhurst.

Hooper abandoned playing for writing about chess and has become a specialist in two distinct areas. He is an expert on the endings and has a close knowledge of the history of chess in the nineteenth century.

His principal works : Steinitz (in German), Hamburg, 1968; A Pocket Guide to Chess Endgames, London 1970.

Here is an interesting article from Edward Winter

Here is his brief Wikipedia entry.

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Happy Birthday GM John Nunn (25-iv-1955)

"John DM Nunn Britain' Number 2 chess grandmaster and winner of the Benedictine International Chess Championship Tournament in Manchester pictured during the Benedictine Tournament. September 15th , 1980. Photograph by John C Madden"
“John DM Nunn Britain’ Number 2 chess grandmaster and winner of the Benedictine International Chess Championship Tournament in Manchester pictured during the Benedictine Tournament. September 15th , 1980. Photograph by John C Madden”

BCN wishes GM John Nunn Happy Birthday (25-iv-1955). John resides in Bude, Cornwall with his wife Petra (née Fink) having previously resided in Chobham, Surrey.  John became a director of Gambit Publications Ltd. on January 30th, 1997 along with  Murray Chandler and Graham Burgess. WFM Petra Nunn is the German editor.

Harry Golombek OBE wrote the following (presumably in 1978) in the 1979 Dataday chess diary:

“Fortunate is the country which has a number six player as good and as effective as John Nunn. As I wrote last time, ‘The former European Junior champion is such a fine player and pursues the game with such energy when he does play that one is apt to forget he is an amateur with only a limited amount of time to spare for study of the game.’

He like Mestel, obtained a grandmaster norm at the Lord John tournament where he score 5.5 points coming just below Mestel but beating both Quinteros and Torre in the process.

At the Moscow Team tournament, already mentioned, he had a magnificent result scoring 3.5 out of 7 on board 4. Perhaps it was this performance that increased his Elo rating by 30 points and when I say board 4 it should be realised that opposition consisted of such players as the former world champion Tal and many other genuine grandmasters. I give the entertaining and fighting draw he had with Tal as Moscow.”

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983), pp.201- 210:

“It is a difficult task to pick out three games from many hundreds played over the years. What criteria should be used in the selection? Brilliance, strength of opponent, importance of result – all these are reasons for a game to stand out in one’s memory. As this selection is autobiographical I have given prominence to the last criterion and so I will give one game from each of the tournaments in which I gained an International title, and one game from a team tournament.

The first of these tournaments was the European Junior Championships held over the new year 1974-5 in the Dutch town of Groningen. It was only by chance that I played in this event at all. Originally Jonathan Mestel was the English representative, but he was invited to play in concurrent Hastings Premier and so I travelled to Groningen instead.

The organisation of the Championship has changed over the years, but at that time a seven-round Swiss formed a preliminary event, with the top ten of the twenty-eight participants going on to an all-play-all final section. The score thought to be sufficient for qualification was 4.5/7 and the accepted method of reaching this target was to win one’s first two games and then draw all the others., facilitated by the fact that one’s opponents would also require draws to reach the magic figure 4.5. However tie-breaking in the final was decided  firstly by the score in the preliminaries and secondly by the result of the individual game in the final, so it was clearly an advantage to outstrip one’s rivals in the Swiss. I started with the requisite two wins and then drew my next three games, but in round six with the white pieces I decided to play for the win against Manny Rayner of Wales. I felt slightly self-conscious playing amidst a row of boards on which peace has been concluded at an early stage, but I did gain the full point. The game stirred up a certain amount of comment and I even heard one player’s second declare

You can’t trust Nunn!

In such a short race there will inevitably be upsets and the unlucky man on this occasion was Alexander Ivanov, the Russian representative.

The final round started less smoothly for me and after five rounds the leading scores were Borokowski 4, Szekely 3.5 and van der Sterren and myself on 3. I had already beaten van der Sterren, who had tied with me in the preliminaries, so in view of the tie-break rules, I had effectively half-a-point advantage over the rest of the field. In round six I played Borkowski and a win for would leave the tournament wide open.

I scored well in the three rounds after this game and appeared to have a good chance of winning. However in the penultimate round I lost to Lars-Ake Schneider in only 18 moves so as the last round started the leading scores were Szekely 5.5 out of 8 with Schneider, Borkowski and myself on 5. Skekely was White against Borkowski while I had White against the Israeli Grunfeld. Schneider blundered quickly and lost, while to my surprise Skekely drew in only 14 moves. The way was now open to the title if only I could defeat my opponent. However after 4.5 hours play I had only a slight advantage. But then a curious thing happened. I made my 40th move with a minute or two left on my clock and Grunfeld, who had half an hour left, replied almost immediately. The game was played to a finish without adjournment and now, with an hour on my clock, I was able to see that his 40th move was a mistake allowing a decisive combination. This small event decided the result of the tournament and so I became European Junior Champion and an International Master.

The second game was played in the Finals of the European Team Championship held at Moscow 1977. This event which takes place every three years, is second in importance only to the biennial Olympiads. The twenty teams entering were divided into five preliminary groups to produce seven qualifiers for the final. The USSR, as previous winners, were admitted directly to the final to make up the total of eight countries represented at Moscow. England qualified ahead of Holland, the other teams in this preliminary group being Wales and France. Since the matches in the final take place over eight boards this event is much more test of strength in the depth than the four board Olympiads and so England was not expected to do well, especially in view of the absence of Tony Miles. Nevertheless the final result of bottom place was a disappointment. My individual performance of 50% against strong opposition was quite satisfactory, but it was the following game which made the tournament particularly enjoyable for me.

We now move ahead to the summer of 1978. At this time I had a 9-game grandmaster norm from the Lord John Cup held in London during September 1977 and so I needed a 15-game norm to actually gain the title. In July I played in an event at Lublin in Poland at which, however, there was no GM norm. My play showed evidence of lack of practice and my final position was rather low.

Then I went on to the annual Tungsram tournament held in Budapest during August. This was a much stronger event (category 10) and the GM norm was a formidable 10 out of 15. However my play was much better than in Poland and, after a first round loss, I began to score well. After 12 rounds the leading scores were Kuzmin 8, Nunn 7.5 and Csom, Jansa, Adorjan and Mednis 7. I could have had half a point more if I had not overlooked a combination two (!) moves deep winning Kuzmin’s queen, but, apart from this incident Kuzmin had played very well and seemed to be heading for first prize.

My sights were firmly set on scoring 2.5 from the last three games to reach the GM norm and my interest in winning the tournament was secondary. However, Kuzmin was destined to lose his next two games and so these two objectives became one and the same.

In these final games I was to be White against F. Portisch (Lajos’ brother), Black against GM Jansa and in the last round White against Hardicsay, the weakest player in the tournament. The plan was clear – I had to win both games with White and hold Jansa to a draw with the Black pieces. The execution, however, was more difficult.

While preparing for F. Portisch I noticed that he played either the French or the Sicilian Pelikan. Since I was playing only for the win I naturally hoped he would opt for the complications of the Pelikan. Two days before this game I had been given a copy of the latest issue of the Hungarian chess magazine, Magyar Sakkelet, containing a game Honfi – Piasetki in which Honfi had played 11.Bxb5!? and won with the aid of a novelty. This piece sacrifice seemed to be ideal for stirring up as much trouble as possible and so I decided to try it in the game, at the same time hoping that F. Portsich had not read his magazine!

The first obstacle had been surmounted, but two more remained. The opening went badly against Jansa, but I managed to restrict myself to a small disadvantage in the early middle game. To my good fortune the Czech Grandmaster was going through a bad patch, having started with 7/10 anf then scored only half a point from his next three games. With only two rounds to go his interest in the tournament had dissipated and rather try to exploit his edge he offered a draw. Of course I was only too pleased to accept.

Before the last round I was extremely nervous but bolstered my confidence with that thought that Hardicsay had only managed to score 3.5/14 , and indeed had accumulated only half a point from his last six games. In most cases this was due to his chronic addiction to time trouble. At first things went well. I accepted a pawn sacrifice and gradually seemed to be repelling my opponent’s threats. But at a crucial moment I chose a faulty bishop move and suddenly my difficulties were growing from move to move. Before long I was pawn down with an inferior position. My only hope lay in the fact that Hardicsay had only seconds to make the last eight moves of the time control. Exploiting this, I regained the pawn and even adjourned with a slight plus.

After a one hour break play was resumed and once again Hardicsay played well, almost completely neutralizing my advantage. I cunningly made some pass moves with my King until he was once again in time trouble and then tried my last winning attempt!

In the event my opponent made a mistake and a further session was not necessary. The two spectators who had stuck it out to the end dashed up to congratulate me and Hardicsay gave me a distinctly sour look (justifiably!)- I had become a Grandmaster!

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

British International master and European Junior Champion, 1975. Born in London, Nunn learned chess at the age of four and soon revealed a great aptitude for the game.

 

Graham Ladds and John Nunn. See full caption below.
Graham Ladds and John Nunn. See full caption below.
Supplied caption for above picture.
Supplied caption for above picture.

He came 6th in the Norwich Junior international tournament in 1970 and went up to Oxford University to take a mathematics degree at a very early age. He played on top board for the University from 1972-6 and is now preparing for a doctorate there.

John DM Nunn
John DM Nunn

He won the European Junior Championship and with it the international master title in Groningen in 1975. In that year too he was equal first in the IBM Master tournament, and at London in 1975 he reached an international master norm coming 5th in the international tournament there. He played on bottom board at the Haifa Olympiad 1976 and scored 64.2%

GM John Nunn
GM John Nunn

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

English player. International Grandmaster (1978), British champion 1980. He went to Oxford at the unusually young age of 15, graduated in 1973. Gained his B.Sc. the following year and his
doctorate in 1978.

GM John Nunn
GM John Nunn

 

A Junior Research Fellow, he lectured in mathematics until 1981 when he became a professional player. By then he had already achieved several good results in international tournaments: Budapest 1978, first; Hastings 1979-80, first (4-5 = 10) equal with Andersson; Baden-bei-Wien 1980, category 12, third (+5=10) after Spassky and Belyavsky: Helsinki 1981, first (+5 = 6) equal with Matulovich; and Wiesbaden 1981, first (+6=3). In the category 12 Wijk aan Zee tournament 1982, Nunn came first ( + 5=7 — 1) equal with Balashov ahead of Tal, Hubner, and Timman and at Helsinki 1983 he came second (+5 = 6) after Karlsson.

Maia Chiburdanidze and John Nunn from Lloyds Bank, 1985
Maia Chiburdanidze and John Nunn from Lloyds Bank, 1985

Possessing a remarkably quick sight of the board, Nunn is an expert solver: he made the second highest individual score in the world team solving championship, 1978, and won the solving championship of Great Britain in 1981.

Lubomir Kavalek and John Nunn
Lubomir Kavalek and John Nunn

Here is an excellent article from ChessBase

Polugayevsky-Nunn European team championship :

GM John Nunn
GM John Nunn

Here is his Wikipedia entry

46th USSR Chess Championships 1978, RD Keene, JDM Nunn, RG Wade, Master Chess Publications, 1978, ISBN 0 906634 00 8
46th USSR Chess Championships 1978, RD Keene, JDM Nunn, RG Wade, Master Chess Publications, 1978, ISBN 0 906634 00 8

 

The Benoni for the Tournament Player
The Benoni for the Tournament Player
Solving in Style
Solving in Style
The Complete Pirc
The Complete Pirc
Secrets of Rook Endings
Secrets of Rook Endings
Secrets of Pawnless Endings
Secrets of Pawnless Endings
New Ideas in the Pirc Defence
New Ideas in the Pirc Defence
Beating the Sicilian 3
Beating the Sicilian 3
The King Hunt
The King Hunt
Secrets of Grandmaster Chess
Secrets of Grandmaster Chess
Secrets of Practical Chess
Secrets of Practical Chess
Nunn's Chess Openings
Nunn’s Chess Openings
John Nunn's Chess Puzzle Book
John Nunn’s Chess Puzzle Book
101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures
101 Brilliant Chess Miniatures
Learn Chess
Learn Chess
Secrets of Minor-Piece Endings
Secrets of Minor-Piece Endings
Understanding Chess Move by Move
Understanding Chess Move by Move
John Nunn's Best Games
John Nunn’s Best Games
Endgame Challenge
Endgame Challenge
Tactical Chess Endings
Tactical Chess Endings
Learn Chess Tactics
Learn Chess Tactics
Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games
Mammoth Book of the World’s Greatest Chess Games
Grandmaster Chess Move by Move
Grandmaster Chess Move by Move
Understanding Chess Endgames
Understanding Chess Endgames
Nunn's Chess Endings
Nunn’s Chess Endings
Understanding Chess Middlegames
Understanding Chess Middlegames
Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids
Chess Tactics Workbook for Kids

Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids
Chess Endgame Workbook for Kids
The Chess Endgame Exercise Book Paperback, JDM Nunn, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2020
The Chess Endgame Exercise Book Paperback, JDM Nunn, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2020
Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus, Adams, Nunn, Burgess, So, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1911465652
Desert Island Chess Puzzle Omnibus, Adams, Nunn, Burgess, So, Gambit Publications Ltd., 2021, ISBN-13 : 978-1911465652
GM John Nunn
GM John Nunn
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Remembering Godfrey Heathcote (20-vii-1870 24-iv-1952)

Godfrey Heathcote (20-vii-1870 24-iv-1952) [Source: Chess Pie, 1922; scanned by M.McDowell]
Godfrey Heathcote (20-vii-1870 24-iv-1952) [Source: Chess Pie, 1922; scanned by M.McDowell]
BCN remembers Godfrey Heathcote (20-vii-1870 24-iv-1952)

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

“Problem composer, and deemed to be on of the great masters of the art. Heathcote was born on 20th July 1870 in Manchester, and died on 24th April 1952. whilst in office as the President of the British Chess Problem Society. An advocate of the model mate, Heathcote was one of few composers with the power to combine model mates with strategy. In 1918 a collection of his problems appeared in the A. C. White Christmas series under the title Chess Idylls

Here is an appreciation from chesscomposers.blogspot.com

Chess Idylls (1918)
Chess Idylls (1918)

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

“British problemist, generally regarded as the outstanding English composer of model-mate problems. President of British Chess Problem Society 1951-2.”

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