Category Archives: 2021

Happy Birthday IM Robert Bellin (30-vi-1952)

IM Robert Bellin, courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Robert Bellin, courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN sends IM Robert Bellin best wishes on his birthday, this day (the 30th of June) in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

His first tournament that appears in MegaBase 2020 was the British Under-14 championship.

He was 1st= in the Islington U18 tournament in 1970 with Sergio Mariotti ahead of Michael Stean, John Nunn and a very young Tony Miles

Robert Bellin (middle row, second from left))
Robert Bellin (middle row, second from left))

Robert was awarded the IM title in 1977. He was outright British Champion in 1979 in Chester having tied first equal (with six others) in 1974 in Clacton. The play-off was won by George Botterill.

From the BCF 1979-80 Year Book of Chess : Robert Bellin, the new British Champion, explains the secret to the Mayor of Chester (?) and to David Anderton, BCF President
From the BCF 1979-80 Year Book of Chess : Robert Bellin, the new British Champion, explains the secret to the Mayor of Chester (?) and to David Anderton, BCF President

His best international success was in 1981 in Shanghai coming clear first overall.

His highest Elo rating of 2440 was achieved in 1980 at the age of 28.

Robert Bellin with Leonard Barden and Stewart Reuben at the 1978 Aaronson Masters in London
Robert Bellin with Leonard Barden and Stewart Reuben at the 1978 Aaronson Masters in London

Robert plays for 4NCL Cheddleton.

He was a member of the Under-65 seniors world championship winning team in 2019.

Robert is married to WGM Dr. Jana Bellin and they have two sons.

IM Robert Bellin
IM Robert Bellin
Robert Bellin, British Champion, CHESS, Volume 45, Numbers 827-28, page 27.
Robert Bellin, British Champion, CHESS, Volume 45, Numbers 827-28, page 27.

The Classical Dutch
The Classical Dutch
Winning with the Dutch
Winning with the Dutch
Test Your Positional Play
Test Your Positional Play
Queen's Pawn : Veresov System
Queen’s Pawn : Veresov System
Mastering the King's Indian Defence
Mastering the King’s Indian Defence
London System Repertoire
London System Repertoire
Trompowski Opening and Torre Attack
Trompowski Opening and Torre Attack
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Happy Birthday IM Matthew Wadsworth (27-vi-2000)

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

BCN wishes IM Matthew Wadsworth Happy Birthday this day (June 27th) in 2021.

Previously we reported :

IM Matthew Wadsworth, one of England’s most promising young players, has earned his first Grandmaster norm from his excellent performance in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew, who is twenty, has a current FIDE standard play rating of 2413 and is ranked 34th amongst the active players in England (by FIDE rating) earning his FM title in 2016 and IM title in 2019.

Matthew could leapfrog to Grandmaster status with further norms and by increasing his live rating to 2500. The IM title was ratified at the FIDE Congress, 2nd quarter PB 2019, 27-30 June, Baku, Azerbaijan when his live rating had topped 2400.

Matthew with father Jim at the 2012 Surrey Congress
Matthew with father Jim at the 2012 Surrey Congress

Matthew’s first ECF grade was 66A in 2007 (aged 7) and he played for Maidenhead in local leagues, St. Pirans’s School and then Reading School.

Matthew at the 2013 British Championships in Torquay
Matthew at the 2013 British Championships in Torquay

Matthew is reading Economics at Queen’s College, Cambridge and rows for the college team.

Matthew joined 4NCL at an early age and played for AMCA (Andrew Martin Chess Academy) soon rising the ranks to the AMCA first team and he currently represents the Guildford 2 team in Division One of the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL). Matthew’s 4NCL results for the 2018-19 season were :

1. Fodor, Tamas Jr, draw
2. Ashton, Adam G, win
3. Gonda, Laszlo, draw
4. Kulon, Klaudia, win
5. Holland, James P, win
6. Stewart, Ashley, win
7. Ledger, Andrew J, win
8. Plat, Vojtech, loss
9. no game
10. Jackson, James P, win
11. no game

giving a performance of 7/9

Matthew at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth
Matthew at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth

One of the undoubted highlights of Matthews 2018 chess year was his draw with Oxford domiciled GM Hou Yifan, three times Women’s World Champion from China during the annual Varsity match, Matthew representing Cambridge.

Recently Matthew has joined forces with IM Adam C Taylor, IM Ravi Haria and others to form makinggrandmasters.com

FM Matthew J Wadsworth
FM Matthew J Wadsworth

In 2021 Matthew supported Guildford Chess Club in its 125th Anniversary event by being part of the simultaneous display team:

IM Matthew Wadsworth at the Guildford Chess Club 125th Anniversary event on September 11th, 2021. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Matthew Wadsworth at the Guildford Chess Club 125th Anniversary event on September 11th, 2021. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Matthew Wadsworth at the Guildford Chess Club 125th Anniversary event on September 11th, 2021. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Matthew Wadsworth at the Guildford Chess Club 125th Anniversary event on September 11th, 2021. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
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Remembering Vera Menchik (16-ii-1906 27-vi-1944)

Miss Vera Menchik
Miss Vera Menchik
The Bomb Attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her Maternal Roots

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BCM Announcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BCM Contemporary Obituary from EGR Cordingley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and here is the original article as printed:

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

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXVIII (128, 1958), Number 7 (July), page 181 onwards) we have this retrospective from Peter Clarke:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Vera Menchik Club

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women's world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden
Left to right Baruch H Wood, Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, Vera Menchik (playing in the women’s world championship held concurrently with the Olympiad which she won with 17 wins and 2 draws), Sir George Thomas, Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander and Harry Golombek. England withdrew after their preliminary group due to the outbreak of war despite qualifying for the top final. Thanks to Leonard Barden

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

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

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Articles

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

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

Here is an excellent article by Albert Whitwood

Here is her Wikipedia  entry.

Here is an excellent record compiled by Bill Wall.

Biography of Vera Menchik British chess player

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

Edward Winter was less than impressed with the above book.

Vera Menchik
Vera Menchik
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Happy Birthday FM Bernard Cafferty (27-vi-1934)

FM Bernard Cafferty, Hastings Congress 2013-14, courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Bernard Cafferty, Hastings Congress 2013-14, courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes FIDE Master Bernard Cafferty best wishes on his 87th birthday, June 27th in 1934.

Bernard Cafferty, location, date and photographer unknown
Bernard Cafferty, location, date and photographer unknown
 On 14th December, 1968, Bernard gave a simultaneous exhibition held at Anglesey School, Burton. He played 17, won 16 and lost 1 to Trevor Bould who was already Burton Champion, photograph from http://www.derbyshirechess.btck.co.uk/History/Exhibitions, photographer unknown
On 14th December, 1968, Bernard gave a simultaneous exhibition held at Anglesey School, Burton. He played 17, won 16 and lost 1 to Trevor Bould who was already Burton Champion, photograph from http://www.derbyshirechess.btck.co.uk/History/Exhibitions, photographer unknown

Bernard was born in Blackburn, Lancashire (his mother’s maiden name was Croft) migrating to Birmingham and now resides in Hastings, East Sussex and is a member of Hastings & St. Leonards Chess Club.

FM Bernard Cafferty (seated, rhs)
FM Bernard Cafferty (seated, rhs)

Sunnucks notes that he was British Junior Champion in 1952, British Correspondence Champion in 1959 and British Lighting Champion in 1966. He wrote a thesis on Chess in Schools for his University Education Diploma and is now a schoolmaster. His contribution to Anne’s Encyclopedia was on Education and Chess.

He was editor of British Chess Magazine from 1981 to 1991 and continued as Associate Editor until 2011 when FM Steve Giddins took over.

Bernard Cafferty, location, date and photographer unknown
Bernard Cafferty, location, date and photographer unknown

Here is the 1981 announcement (written by Harry Golombek, Chairman of Directors) of his appointment in the British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101), Number 3, March, page 82 :

British Chess Magazine, Volume 101, Number 3, Page 82
British Chess Magazine, Volume 101, Number 3, Page 82

Here is his extensive Wikipedia entry

Bernard won the BCF President’s Award in 1991.

In the December 2010 issue (Volume CXXX (130), Number 12, pages 622 – 625 of British Chess Magazine there was a tribute to Bernard’s 30 years at BCM from editor FM Steve Giddins that was interview based :

British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXX (103), Number 12, December, Page 622
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXX (103), Number 12, December, Page 622
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXX (103), Number 12, December, Page 623
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXX (103), Number 12, December, Page 623
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXX (103), Number 12, December, Page 625
British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXX (103), Number 12, December, Page 625
Associate Editor Bernard Cafferty,at work on the magazine in the BCM office, BCM, Volume 130, Number 8, p. 428
Associate Editor Bernard Cafferty,at work on the magazine in the BCM office, BCM, Volume 130, Number 8, p. 428

Here is discussion of Bernard on the English Chess Forum

Here is the BritBase collection of Bernard’s games

In 2009 Bernard was interviewed by the privately published Chess Parrot whose editor was / is Basingstoke based James Pratt (who became BCMs editor from 2011 – 2015). Here is that previously unseen interview :

The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
The Chess Parrot, XXVI, Winter/Spring 2009, page 26-5
FM Bernard Cafferty at the 2014-15 Hastings Congress, courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Bernard Cafferty at the 2014-15 Hastings Congress, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Video Chess Event (See caption below)
Video Chess Event (See caption below)
Video Chess Caption
Video Chess Caption
A Complete Defence to 1P-K4: A Study of Petroff's Defence (2nd ed.), Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024088-7, 1967
A Complete Defence to 1P-K4: A Study of Petroff’s Defence (2nd ed.), Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024088-7, 1967
Spassky's 100 Best Games, Bernard Cafferty, BT Batsford, 1972, ISBN 0-7134-0362-4.
Spassky’s 100 Best Games, Bernard Cafferty, BT Batsford, 1972, ISBN 0-7134-0362-4.
Tal's 100 Best Games. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-2765-5.
Tal’s 100 Best Games. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-2765-5.
Chess with the Masters. Chess Player. ISBN 0-900928-95-6.
Chess with the Masters. Chess Player. ISBN 0-900928-95-6.
English Opening, The Chess Player, 1977, ISBN 0-900928-92-1
English Opening, The Chess Player, 1977, ISBN 0-900928-92-1
A Complete Defence to 1d4: A Study of the Queen's Gambit Accepted, Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024102-6
A Complete Defence to 1d4: A Study of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted, Pergammon Press, ISBN 0-08-024102-6
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
Play The Evans Gambit (co-author Tim Harding). Cadogan. ISBN 1-85744-119-2.
Play The Evans Gambit (co-author Tim Harding). Cadogan. ISBN 1-85744-119-2.
The Soviet Chess Championships. Batsford. ISBN 1-85744-201-6.
The Soviet Chess Championships. Batsford. ISBN 1-85744-201-6.
B.C.M. Classic Reprints, number 22: 1923 - 1932 An Anthology, Cafferty, Bernard, 1986. ISBN 978-0-900846-45-8.
B.C.M. Classic Reprints, number 22: 1923 – 1932 An Anthology, Cafferty, Bernard, 1986. ISBN 978-0-900846-45-8.
FM Bernard Cafferty (27-vi-1934)
FM Bernard Cafferty (27-vi-1934)
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Remembering Howard Staunton (??-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)

Howard Staunton, engraving by PME Taylor
Howard Staunton, engraving by PME Taylor

BCN remembers Howard Staunton (??-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper and Whyld :

The world’s leading player in the 1840s, founder of a school of chess, promoter of the world’s first international chess tournament, chess columnist and author, Shakespearian scholar. Nothing is known for certain about Staunton’s life before 1836, when his name appears as a subscriber to Greenwood Walkers Selection of Games at Chess , actually played in London, by the late Alexander McDonnell Esq. He states that he was born in Westmorland in the spring of 1810, that his father’s name was William, that he acted with Edmund Kean, taking the part of Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice, that he spent some time at Oxford (but not at the university) and came to London around 1836. Other sources suggest that as a young man he inherited a small legacy, married, and soon spent the money.

Edmund Kean (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833)
Edmund Kean (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833)

He is supposed to have been brought up by his mother, his father having left home or died. He never contradicted the suggestion that he was the natural son of the fifth Earl of Carlisle, a relationship that might account for his forename, for the Earl’s family name was Howard: but the story is almost certainly untrue, not least because in all probability Howard Staunton was not his real name. A contemporary, Charles Tomlinson (18O8- 97), writes: ‘Rumour . . . assigned a different name to our hero [Staunton] when he first appeared as an actor and next as a chess amateur.

A stamp printed in Guinea-Bissau shows Howard Staunton, Chess players serie, circa 1988
A stamp printed in Guinea-Bissau shows Howard Staunton, Chess players serie, circa 1988

At the unusually late age of 26 Staunton became ambitious to succeed at chess; a keen patriot, his motivation may in part have sprung from a desire to avenge McDonnell’s defeat at the hands of a Frenchman. A rook player in 1836 (his own assessment), Staunton rose to the top in a mere seven years. In 1838 he played a long series of games with W. D. Evans and a match of 21 games with Alexandre in which he suffered ‘mortifying defeat’ during the early sittings; but he continued to study and to practise with great determination.

In 1840 he was strong enough to defeat H. W. Popert, a leading German player then resident in London. In the same year he began writing about the game. A short-lived column in the New Court Gazette began in May and ended in Dec. because, says G. Walker, there were ‘complaints of an overdose’. More successful was his work for the British Miscellany which in 1841 became the Chess Player’s Chronicle, England’s first successful chess magazine, edited by Staunton until 1854, Throughout 1842 Staunton played several hundred games with John Cochrane, then on leave from India, a
valuable experience for them both.

John Cochrane
John Cochrane

In 1843 the leading French player Saint-Amant visited London and defeated Staunton in a short contest -(+3 = 1—2), an event that attracted little attention; but later that year these two masters met in a historic encounter lasting from 14 Nov. to 20 Dec. This took place before large audiences in the famous Café de la Régence. Staunton’s decisive victory ( + 11 = 4—6) marked the end of French chess supremacy, an end that was sudden, complete, and long-lasting.

From then until the 1870s London became the world’s chess centre. In Oct. 1844 Staunton travelled to Paris for a return match, but before play could begin he became seriously ill with pneumonia and the match was cancelled.

Unwell for some months afterwards, he never fully recovered: his heart was permanently weakened. In Feb. 1845 he began the most important of his journalistic tasks, one that he continued until his death: in the Illustrated London News he conducted the world’s most influential chess column. Each week he dealt with a hundred or more letters; each week he published one or more problems, the best of the time. In 1845 he conceded odds of pawn and two moves and defeated several of his countrymen and in 1846 he won two matches playing level: Horwitz (+14=3 — 7) and Harrwitz (+ 7). In 1847 Staunton published his most famous chess book, the Chess Player’s Handbook, from which many generations of English-speaking players learned the rudiments of the game: the last of 21 editions was published in 1939. He published the Chess Players Companion in 1849.

In 1851 Staunton organized the world’s first international tournament, held in London. He also played in it, an unwise decision for one burdened with the chore of organization at the same time. After defeating Horwitz (+4=1—2) in the second round he lost to Anderssen, the eventual winner.

Moreover he was defeated by Williams, his erstwhile disciple, in the play-off for places. Later that year Staunton defeated Jaenlsch ( + 7=1 — 2) and scored +6 = 1—4 against Williams, but lost this match because he had conceded his opponent three
games’ start. In 1852 Staunton published The Chess Tournament, an excellent account of this first international gathering. Subsequently he unsuccessfully attempted to arrange a match with Anderssen, but for all practical purposes he retired from the game at this time.

The Chess Tournament London 1851
The Chess Tournament London 1851

Among his many chess activities Staunton had long sought standardization of the laws of chess and, as England’s representative, he crossed to Brussels in 1853 to discuss the laws with Lasa, Germany’s leading chess authority. Little progress was made at this time, but the laws adopted by FIDE in 1929 are substantially in accordance with Staunton’s views. This trip was also the occasion of an informal match, broken off when the score stood +5=3-4 in Lasa’s favour. Staunton took the match seriously, successfully requesting his English friends to send him their latest analyses of the opening.

Original Staunton chess pieces, left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king. Photo used by permission of Frank A. Camaratta, Jr.; The House of Staunton, Inc.; houseofstaunton.com
Original Staunton chess pieces, left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king. Photo used by permission of Frank A. Camaratta, Jr.; The House of Staunton, Inc.; houseofstaunton.com

Staunton had married in 1849 and, recognizing his new responsibilities, he now sought an occupation less hazardous than that of a chess-player. In 1856. putting to use his knowledge of Elizabethan and Shakespearian drama, he obtained a contract to prepare an annotated edition of Shakespeare’s plays. This was published in monthly instalments from Nov. 1857 to May 1860, a work that ‘combined commonsense with exhaustive research’. (In 1860 the monthly parts ready for binding in three volumes were reissued, in 1864 a four-volume reprint without illustrations was printed, and in 1978 the original version was published in one volume.) Staunton, who performed this task in a remarkably short period, was unable to accept a challenge from Morphy in 1858: his publishers would not release him from his contract. After the proposal for a match was abandoned Frederick Milnes Edge (c. 1830-82), a journalist seeking copy, stirred up a quarrel casting Staunton as the villain. Morphy unwisely signed some letters drafted by Edge, while Staunton, continuously importuned by Edge, was once driven to make a true but impolitely worded comment about Morphy. Generally however these two great masters behaved honourably, each holding the other in high regard; but Edge’s insinuations unfairly blackened Staunton’s reputation.

Subsequently Staunton wrote several books, among them Chess Praxis (1860) and the Great Schools of England (1865), revised with many additions in 1869. At the end of his life he was working on another chess book when, seized by a heart attack, he died in his library chair.

Staunton was no one’s pupil: what he learned about chess he learned by himself. For the most part he played the usual openings of his time but he introduced several positional concepts. Some of these had been touched upon by Philidor, others were his own: the use of the ranch mo for strategic ends, the development of flank openings specially suited to pawn play. He may be regarded as the precursor of the hypermodern movement, the Staunton system the precursor of the Reti opening. In his Chess Players Companion Staunton remarks that after 1 e4 e5 Black’s game is embarrassed from the start, a remark anticipating Breyer’s ideas about the opening by more than half a century, Fischer wrote in 1964: “Staunton was the most profound opening analyst of all time. He was more theorist than player but none the less he was the strongest player of his day. Playing over his games I discover that they are completely modern.
Where Morphy and Steinitz rejected the fianchetto. Staunton embraced it. In addition he understood all the positional concepts which
modern players hold so dear, and thus with Steinitz must be considered the first modern player.

Tall, erect, broad-shouldered, with a leonine head, Staunton stood out among his fellows, walking like a king’. He dressed elegantly, even ostentatiously, a taste derived perhaps from his
background as an actor. G. A. Macdonnell describes him: “… wearing a lavender zephyr outside his frock coat. His appearance was slightly gaudy, his vest being an embroidered satin, and his scarf gold-sprigged with a double pin thrust in, the heads of which were connected by a glittering chain . . .’ A great raconteur, an excellent mimic who could entertain by his portrayals of Edmund Kean, Thackeray, and other celebrities he had met, he liked to hold the stage, ‘caring for no man’s anecdote but his own’. He could neither understand nor tolerate the acceptance of mediocrity, the failure of others to give of their best.

Howard Staunton (01-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)
Howard Staunton (01-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)

A man of determined opinions, he expressed them pontifically, brooking little opposition. Always outspoken, he often behaved, writes Potter, ‘with gross unfairness towards those whom he disliked, or from whom he suffered defeat, or whom he imagined to stand between himself and the sun’; ‘nevertheless’, he continues, ‘there was nothing
weak about him and he had a backbone that was never curved with fear of anyone.’ Widely disliked, Staunton was widely admired, a choice that would have been his preference. Reminiscing in 1897, Charles Edward Ranken (1828-1905) wrote: “With great defects he had great virtues; there was nothing mean, cringing, or small in his nature, and, taking all in all, England never had a more worthy
chess representative than Howard Staunton.

R. D. Keene and R. N. Coles Howard Staunton the English World Chess Champion (1975) contains biography, 78 games, and 20 parts of games.

Howard Staunton, The English World Chess Champion
Howard Staunton, The English World Chess Champion

The Staunton Defence has remained a completely playable gambit versus the Dutch Defence :

Here is his Wikipedia entry

A curious article about Staunton

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXIX (119, 1999), Number 11 (November), page 584 :

“English Heritage unveiled a blue plaque to Howard Staunton, arguably Britain’s greatest 19th century chess player, in London on September 28. The unveiling took place at 117 Landsdowne Road, London W11, and was performed by Barry Martin, secretary of the Staunton Society, on behalf of English Heritage. Staunton lived with his wife at 117 Lansdowne Road between 1871 and 1874. He died at 27 Elgin Crescent later that year. The weather was favourable and a good crowd (including several grandmasters) was able to enjoy proceedings. BBC television covered the event for their lunch-time and evening news programme.”

117, Lansdowne Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2LF
117, Lansdowne Road, Notting Hill, London, W11 2LF
27, Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill, London, W11 2JD
27, Elgin Crescent, Notting Hill, London, W11 2JD
Blue Plaque for Howard Staunton
Blue Plaque for Howard Staunton
Howard Staunton's tombstone
Howard Staunton’s tombstone
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Remembering Sir Richard Clarke KCB OBE (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975)

Sir Richard William Barnes Clarke (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975), National Portrait Gallery, Walter Bird
Sir Richard Clarke (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975), National Portrait Gallery, Walter Bird

BCN Remembers Sir Richard Clarke KCB OBE who passed away on June 21st 1975.

According to chess-poster.com : “Clarke died in the University College Hospital, in London, on 21 June 1975 and was cremated at Golders Green three days later. He was survived by his wife Brenda Pile (married in 1950, née Skinner) and their three sons.”

One of those sons is Charles Rodway Clarke along with his brothers Mark G and Timothy Rodway.

Richard William Barnes Clarke was born on August 13th, 1910 in Basford, Derbyshire. The birth was registered in Ilkeston in the district of Erewash. His parents were a secondary and technical school schoolmaster of science, William Thomas Clarke and Helen Rodway Clarke (née Barnes). Richard was baptised on October 1st 1910 in St. Lawrence (Anglican) Church in Heanor, Derbyshire.

The 1911 census records the family living at “Iona” which was a modest property in Fletcher Street in Heanor which had six rooms.  Richard was seven months old and he had a three year old sister, Stella Helen Clarke. The family retained a nineteen year old domestic servant, Ada Mary Brown who has been born in Codnor, Derbyshire.

Richard was educated at Christ’s Hospital, London followed by Clare College, Cambridge. At University he studied mathematics specialising in statistics. He was ranked at the sixth “wrangler“. Subsequently he was awarded the Frances Wood Prize by the Royal Statistical Society.

In 1944 Richard was awarded the OBE for his work as Planning Officer for the Ministry of Production followed by Companion of the Bath in 1951 for his work as Under Secretary at HM Treasury and in 1964 he was made Knight Commander of the Bath for his work as Second Secretary at HM Treasury.

According to chess-poster.com : “He was commonly known as Otto Clarke” and according to his son Mark the nickname “Otto” was possibly because of Clarke’s “forceful” personality was considered Germanic. According to Sir Sam Brittan, “it was because his round glasses and the bridge over the nose looked like OTTO.”

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

Creator of the British system of grading. He gave up active chess after leaving Cambridge University where he played second board between C.H.O’D. Alexander and Jacob Bronowski.

At first a financial journalist (one of the two who created the Financial Times Index), he became, at the outbreak of the Second World War, a temporary civil servant, remaining to become one of the most distinguished of them, and to receive a knighthood.

According to Arpad E. Elo in “Ratings of Chessplayers Past and Present” : “In the chess world, rating systems have been used with varying degrees of success for over twenty-five years. Those which have survived a share a common principle in that they combine the percentage score achieved by a player with the rating of his competition. They use similar formulae for the evaluation of performance and differ mainly in the elaboration of the scales. The most notable are the Ingo (Hoesskinger 1948), the Harkness (Harkness 1956), and the British Chess Federation (Clarke 1957) systems. These received acceptance because they produced ranking lists which generally agreed with the personal estimates made by knowledgeable chessplayers.”

Here is an article in full reproduced from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, pages 49 -53 :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 49
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 49
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 50
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 50
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 51
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 51
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 52
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 52
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 53
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 53

The June 1975 issue of British Chess Magazine announces his passing and promises that a tribute would follow : it never did.

Sir Richard William Barnes Clarke (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975), National Portrait Gallery, Rex Coleman
Sir Richard Clarke (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975), National Portrait Gallery, Rex Coleman

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Here is a small article from chess-poster.com

Here is detail about the Clarke Grading System

and more about chess ratings systems in general

The Economic Effort of War
The Economic Effort of War
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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.

According to BCM, August 1994, page 430 in “News from the British Isles”:

“BCF International Grader, George Smith, informs us that Jonathan Levitt of North London, 2425 on the July 1994 FIDE list, has gained the GM title. This is the result of a second application by the BCF. Jonathan made his final norm in August 1990, and a conditional award was made in November of that year. Tracking back recently, it was proved that his July 1988 rating should have been 2510, taking into account two events which were rated late due to early cut-off dates. FIDE has agreed recent rulings could be applied retrospectively.”

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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