Category Archives: 2023

Minor Pieces 52: Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk

Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk was perhaps Richmond Chess Club’s strongest player between 1925 and 1937, as well as playing an important administrative role in the club.

Wilfred was born in Culmstock, Devon on 18 May 1877, where Teddington novelist, market gardener and chess player RD Blackmore also lived for a time. His family were originally from London,  but his father was working in Devon as a Schools Inspector at the time of his birth. The family later returned to London, where young Wilfred joined the Civil Service on leaving school. He would remain there for his entire working life.

In 1899 he married 20 year old Mabel Ellen Gannaway. Wilfred and Mabel had four children, Talbot (1902), Beatrice (1903), Evelyn (1907) and Ruby (1908).

We hear of him as a chess player for the first time only in 1904, at the age of 27, when he took part in the Second Class B section of the inaugural British Championships at Hastings. He did pretty well for a newcomer to competitive chess, finishing in third place, just half a point behind the joint winners.

The following year he took part in the Kent Open Amateur 2nd Class A tournament, held that year at Crystal Palace, where he shared first place with his old rival WT Dickinson.

Shortly afterwards, leaving his wife and two young children at home, he crossed the channel to Ostend, where a mammoth tournament was taking place. The master event had no less than 36 entrants, with a complex group structure, and, below that, there were two amateur sections which attracted a number of British participants. Wilfred played in the Amateur B section, scoring a very respectable 11/17.

He didn’t take part in another tournament until 1908, when he again played in the Kent congress, that year held in Sevenoaks. This time Wilfred was promoted to the 1st Class Open Section 2. He found 1st class competition a lot tougher than the 2nd class, scoring only 1½/6, The leading scores in this section were Harold Godfrey Cole (5), Kate Belinda Finn and Percy Rawle Gibbs (4½). Miss Finn wasn’t the only (fishy) lady in the section: Mrs Frances Dunn Herring brought up the rear on 1/6.

Although he wasn’t very active in tournament play at the time, he was very much involved in Civil Service chess. He may well have been playing for the Local Government Board before his first tournament, and, when the Civil Service Chess League was founded in 1904 he was appointed to the post of Secretary.

When the British Championships were held in Richmond in 1912 he returned to the fray. This time he was in the 1st Class Amateurs B section, and, from the result, it was clear that he was a lot stronger now than a few years earlier.

The British Chess Magazine (October 1912) remarked that Mr. W. H. M. Kirk (Putney) is a well-known fine player in the Civil Service League, but does not play much otherwise. With work and family commitments, it was understandable that he wouldn’t have had much time for tournament play.

Unfortunately the only game of his from this event that appears to be extant was his only defeat. For all games in this article, click on any move for a pop-up window.

Kirk took part in the Surrey Championship that year, where he finished in first place with a score of 4½/5. This time we do have one of his wins, which his opponent, a dentist usually known as Frank St J Steadman, generously submitted to the British Chess Magazine. It was published in their December 1912 issue.

Wilfred entered the 1st Class Open in the 1913 Kent & Sussex Congress but had to withdraw before the start of the tournament. However, he did play in the Major Open section of the 1913 British Championship, making a respectable showing in a strong tournament.

Here’s a loss against the German born but English resident Georg Schories, a regular Major Open competitor whose nationality precluded his participation in the championship.

In this photograph of the competitors in this section, Kirk is the good looking youngish man (he was now 35) standing second on the left. He doesn’t look very happy, does he? But then they rarely did in those days.

And then World War 1 intervened. The Civil Service Chess League continued in 1915, but then stopped for the duration, only resuming in 1919.

The British Championships were also suspended, again resuming with a Victory Congress at Hastings in August that year. The British title itself wasn’t awarded, the top section being a semi-international event with visiting stars Capablanca and Kostic taking the first two places, well ahead of Sir George Thomas and Yates. The Major Open went to Edward Guthlac Sergeant, and, below that were three parallel First Class sections. Kirk was in the C section, finishing in first place, beating, amongst others, future World Champion Max Euwe. The enforced break had done nothing to dull his chess strength.

Again, his only loss, against Irish champion John James O’Hanlon, is the only one of his games from this event I’ve been able to locate.

In 1919 he also entered the City of London Chess Club Championship: the only time he took part in this prestigious event. He finished in 6th place with 6/11 behind Sir George Thomas, a clear winner on 9½, Michell, Walker, EG Sergeant and Blake, whom he beat in this game: a notable scalp.

Throughout much of his life, Wilfred Kirk seemed to move house every two or three years. He had previously lived in Putney and Wimbledon, but by this time had moved to North London, playing for Hampstead Chess Club and winning the Middlesex Championship in 1920. He had also moved departments in the Civil Service, from the Local Government Board to the Ministry of Health.

Then, in Autumn 1925, he moved to Richmond, living in several addresses in Richmond and Twickenham in the following 12 years or so. He wasted no time in joining Richmond Chess Club, but, in his first match, was only playing on Board 3.

Richmond Herald 28 November 1925

He also entered the Surrey Championship, in 1926 regaining the title he had previously won 14 years earlier.

As an able administrator he was soon appointed secretary of his new club, as reported here, where, on top board, he was successful against our old friend George Archer Hooke.

Richmond Herald 20 November 1926

His addresses at this point included 17 The Barons, St Margarets in 1927 and 27 Richmond Hill in 1928.

In the 1928-29 season Kirk swept the board, winning not just the club championship (you’ll see PGL Fothergill in 3rd place: he only seemed to play in internal competitions rather than club matches), but the handicap tournament (one wonders how the scores were calculated) and the prize for the best percentage score in matches.

Richmond Herald 30 March 1929

That summer he took part in a Living Chess game against Reginald Pryce Michell at Asgill House in Richmond to raise money for the local hospital.

Richmond Herald 22 June 1929

Wilfred was very much involved in charitable endeavours of all sorts, promoting chess at the Star and Garter Home for disabled ex-Servicemen, donating money to a fund for distressed miners, and, later in life. helping at a local home for the blind.

That summer, by then in his 50s,  he unexpectedly received an invitation to take part in the British Championship, held that year in Ramsgate.

Wilfred was a very effective player top level club opposition, but here, against mostly master standard opponents, he was rather out of his depth.

He lost in 19 moves to Gerald Abrahams: a game which attracted some attention at the time. Abrahams, rather typically, played a speculative sacrifice which Kirk should have accepted, but instead declined it and resigned the next move.

Here’s his draw against future Scottish champion and bridge designer William Albert Fairhurst.

In this group photograph, Kirk is standing on the left next to the permanently disheveled William Winter.

That year there was a merger between Richmond and Kew chess clubs, who, however, continued to meet at both venues on different days of the week. Kirk now had a serious rival in Kew star Ronald George Armstrong, about whom more in a future Minor Piece.

Meanwhile, in 1933, Kirk’s service to chess in the Civil Service was marked by a presentation.

A History of Chess in the English Civil Service (Kevin Thurlow)

This 1934 match must have been a surprise result.

Richmond Herald 21 April 1934

Richmond & Kew were a second division team, playing in the Beaumont Cup, while Kingston, who had won the Surrey Trophy two years earlier, were a genuine first division team. Unfortunately, they lost to Battersea in the final of the Alexander Cup.

Armstrong must have been very pleased with his draw against Michell, while Kirk also shared the point with (Richard) Nevil Coles, who later became a celebrated chess author and who beat me in a Richmond v Guildford Surrey Trophy match in 1972.

Richmond Herald 06 April 1935

In the 1934-35 season Kirk won the club championship while Armstrong took the handicap shield: they gave a tandem simul at the end of season prizegiving.

Richmond Herald 10 April 1937

It was the same story in 1937, with Kirk taking the club  championship for the sixth time with a 100% score, and Armstrong again preferring the handicap shield. Wilfred was now entitled to hold the cup in perpetuity, but generously returned it for future years. I wonder what happened to it.

At this point, though, Wilfred Kirk retired from the Civil Service, spending some time travelling round Europe playing chess before moving, like many retired chess players of the time, to Hastings.

However, he competed in the 1938 British Championships in Brighton, now down in the First Class B section, where he shared first place on 7/11, winning this miniature.

He was soon involved in administration again, both at Hastings Chess Club, and with their annual tournament. He also found time to compete in the 1938-39 event, sharing second place in the Premier Reserves C section.

He also threw himself into county chess, here losing to another former Civil Service player Bernard Henry Newman Stronach.

Hastings and St Leonards Observer 15 April 1939

By now the world was at war again, but Hastings managed to arrange their annual tournament that winter, with Kirk taking part in the Premier.

In this game he held the tournament winner Frank Parr to a draw, sacrificing a knight for a perpetual check.

Although it was no longer possible to run formal competitions, Hastings Chess Club remained active during the war, with friendly matches against local rivals Eastbourne and Bexhill.

His opponent in this game, George Edward Anslow, a Gas Company clerk, was a member of both Eastbourne and Hastings Chess Clubs for many years. He beat me in a 1974 friendly match between Hastings and Richmond & Twickenham Chess Clubs.

Frederick William (Fred) Boff, whom he defeated in this game, seems to have been an interesting character both on and off the chessboard.

He was still very active locally as the war finally came to an end, and was involved in the administration of the 1945-46 Hastings Congress as Treasurer and Assistant Secretary. In June that year, still playing regularly in club events, he was taken ill with appendicitis. The operation, sadly, proved unsuccessful.

Hastings and St Leonards Observer 22 June 1946

There’s more information in this pen picture from Kevin Thurlow’s book on chess in the English Civil Service.

A History of Chess in the English Civil Service (Kevin Thurlow)

Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk, then, was a strong player (2261 at his peak according to EdoChess) and a highly efficient administrator. He seems to have  been well respected at work and was also devoted to various charitable causes.

His family life, though, wasn’t happy.

In the 1901 census we see Wilfred and Mabel, only recently married, and living in Pimlico.

They soon moved south of the river, the births of their first three children being registered in Wandsworth, and the youngest in Balham.

By 1911 the family had split up. Wilfred was living on his own in Streatham, a Second Division Clerk in the Civil Service. Mabel didn’t appear to be around. Talbot, Beatrice and Evelyn (aged 9, 7 and only 4) were boarding at a school in Wimbledon, while 2-year-old Ruby was living with Wilfred’s mother in Battersea.

Then, in 1914, Mabel filed a petition for judicial separation. She was represented by her solicitor, PR Gibbs, who, I’d imagine, was the same Percy Rawle Gibbs who had played Wilfred at Sevenoaks in 1908.

Mabel’s petition, citing eight addresses, mostly in the Wandsworth area, at which they lived during their marriage, listed dates and places, from 1906 onwards, when and where Wilfred had assaulted her, and treated her with coldness and neglect. He had punched her on her body and head, thrown her against the furniture and onto the floor, grabbed her by the collar and dragged her upstairs. Wilfred denied the charges of cruelty, claiming that Mabel had become mentally deranged and assaulted him violently, and he was only acting in self-defence. On other occasions she had become hysterical and behaved in an ill tempered and unreasonable manner, causing him to lose his temper.

It was also revealed that, from late 1910, she had been a patient at St Luke’s Hospital: she was probably still there at the time of the 1911 census.

The separation was granted, with Mabel having custody of the two older children and Wilfred the two younger children. Would a man who had assaulted his wife, even with provocation, be given custody of two young girls today?

Was he a violent and abusive wife beater whose behaviour had driven his wife to the lunatic asylum, or a good man who found it difficult to cope with his wife’s mental health problems? I don’t know: I wasn’t there and it’s far from me to pass judgement.

The ramifications continued for a decade (the papers are available online at ancestry.co.uk).

The 1921 census found Wilfred now living in Islington with Evelyn and Ruby, who were both at school. Mabel and Beatrice, now an art student, were the other side of London, in South Norwood. Meanwhile, Talbot had emigrated to the USA, where he married in 1927 and had two sons, Fred (1928-76) and Jack (1929-67).

His marriage didn’t last and he returned to England. The 1933 Electoral Roll shows Mabel, Talbot and Beatrice sharing a house right by Hampstead Heath.

Then, in 1934, Wilfred sued Mabel for divorce on the grounds of adultery.

Richmond Herald 03 February 1934

Well, I don’t know. In September that year he married Olive Emily Holmes. Was he committing adultery as well? Again, I wasn’t there.

What happened to the rest of his family? Talbot remarried in 1941 in Brentford, at some point moving to Yorkshire, where he died in 2006 at the extraordinary age of 104.

Beatrice never married: by 1939 she was working as a typist in the Ministry of Food, and died in Hastings at the age of 78.

Evelyn married young, in 1926, to a man almost twice her age, George Arthur Tomlinson, who seems to have been a mechanical engineer working at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington. They lived with Wilfred for a time after the marriage before moving to North London where two sons, Brian (1928) and Robin (1930) were born. George died in 1944, but Evelyn, like her brother, lived a long life, dying in Bath at the age of 96.

Ruby married in 1939, like Evelyn to a much older man: a divorcee with the impressive name Bernard de Lerisson Cazenove. She had no children and, again like Evelyn, lived into her 90s: she was 91 when she died in Warwickshire.

The report of Wilfred’s cremation leaves some questions unanswered. You might have wondered why the local paper mentioned that he left a son, but failed to note his daughters.

Hastings and St Leonards Observer 22 June 1946

At the cremation, Talbot, Evelyn and Ruby were there, but there was no mention of Beatrice as a chief mourner. Did the paper forget her? Or had they become estranged?

Talbot, Dolly and Sylvia sent flowers, but who were Dolly and Sylvia? There were also flowers from Eric, Brian and Robin. Brian and Robin were his grandsons, but who was Eric? And why wasn’t Evelyn included? Her second marriage, in 1948, would be to Ernest (Vokes), not to Eric. Or was ‘Eric’ a misreading of ‘Evelyn’?

There’s one further family tragedy to report.

Worthing Gazette 26 April 1950

This is Wilfred and Mabel’s grandson Robin taking his own life in 1950, at the age of 19.

Had he inherited mental health problems from his mother? Impossible to tell, of course.

Although Wilfred Hugh Miller Kirk was a formidable club player and respected administrator, it seems that his family life was unsettled (moving house every couple of years) and unhappy. I can only hope that the game of chess brought him some comfort.

 

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

British Newspaper Library

Wikipedia

BritBase (John Saunders)

EdoChess (Kirk’s page here)

chessgames.com (Kirk’s page here)

British Chess Magazine 1912

A History of Chess in the English Civil Service (Kevin Thurlow: Conrad Press)

The City of London Chess Club Championship (Roger Leslie Paige: Publish & be Damned)

Hastings & St Leonards Chess Club website (Brian Denman article here)

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Happy Birthday IM Andrew Horton (15-i-1998)

Andrew Horton at the 2014 Team Chess Challenge at Imperial College. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Andrew Horton at the 2014 Team Chess Challenge at Imperial College. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Andrew P Horton (15-i-1998)

Andrew became a FIDE Master in 2015 and an International Master in 2018 following the 89th FIDE Congress 2018, 26 Sep – 6 Oct, Batumi, Georgia.

Andrew represents the 3Cs club in the Manchester League and in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) (as well as Wood Green) and, in addition, Wotton Hall, Durham City (during his University years) and Northumberland CA for county matches.

Andrew made regular appearences at the Delancey UK Chess Challenge and was placed 1st in the 2014 Terafinal, Challengers section.

Andrew Horton, Challengers C, 1st, 2014, UKCC Terafinal
Andrew Horton, Challengers C, 1st, 2014, UKCC Terafinal

In 2021 Andrew was invited and played in the London Chess Classic at the Cavendish Conference Centre.

IM Andrew Horton at the London Chess Classic, 2021
IM Andrew Horton at the London Chess Classic, 2021

Andrew’s ECF standard play rating at January 2023 is 2452K.

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Minor Pieces 51: Enid Mary Lanspeary

Richmond Herald 23 December 1950

You might remember this from the last Minor Piece.

“In the first team this season E. Fairbrother (team captain), Miss Lanspeary, B. Bodycoat and P. Ahearne are unbeaten.”

It’s good to see a lady playing for Richmond’s first team, and unbeaten as well. She must have been a pretty good player. But who was this Miss Lanspeary with her unusual and unfamiliar surname? I wanted to find out.

Searching electoral rolls quickly identified our heroine as Enid Mary Lanspeary, so I looked at online family trees to find out more. She was indeed on a few trees – and I was amazed to discover that one of them was mine! I also discovered, by searching newspaper archives, that there were Lanspearys playing chess all over the country.

Something genealogists like to do is the One-Name Study, which involves finding out everything about everyone bearing a particular unusual surname. We’ll do that now with Lanspeary.

Most British surnames date back to the early middle ages, but Lanspeary has a much more recent origin. To be precise, 21 June 1779.

The family name was originally Lansbury, although some members used other versions as well, but this, the marriage between Thomas Lanspeary and Elizabeth Chambers in the Northamptonshire village of Great Doddington, is the first sighting of Lanspeary. I guess, from the original name, that the stress should be on the first syllable. History doesn’t record why Thomas chose that particular spelling.

You’ll find Great Doddington just south of the town of Wellingborough, famous, like many other Northamptonshire towns, for its place in the boot and shoe industry. According to this website, among those who have come to the county for shoes are HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Darth Vader, Sid Vicious, Jumbo the elephant, Sir Ernest Shackleton and James Bond. It was in the boot and shoe industry that the Lanspeary family originally found their employment.

To continue our one-name study we need to follow the paternal line. Thomas and Elizabeth had two sons, John and Thomas. John, it seems, only had one child, a daughter. Thomas, however, had three sons, William, another Thomas, and David.

In general terms, William was the most interesting. He found a job on the railways, which took him to Carlisle, married in Gretna Green and emigrated to Windsor, Ontario. Windsor is just the other side of the river from Detroit. Motortown, known to music fans as Motown. Due to a geographic anomaly, at this point Canada is south of the river and the USA north of the river. He had three sons, George, David and William, and the family were big in local government. If you visit Windsor now you’ll find Lanspeary Park there. If, in 1910, they had waved across the river, they might have attracted the attention of Alfred Padbury, from Warwick, who was, briefly, involved in manufacturing automobiles there. Alfred was his parents’ only son, but had nine sisters, some of whom you’ll meet later on in this article.

William’s youngest brother, David, moved to Sheffield, where he worked at various times as a warehouseman and dealer, but it’s the middle brother, the third Thomas, who interests us.

Thomas lived all his long life in Great Doddington, working as a shoemaker, and dying at the great age of 96. He had two sons, the younger of whom died in infancy, but it’s his older son, another David Lanspeary, who interests us.

He was also a shoemaker, but went into business, founding a very successful shoemaking company. He must also have been a chess player, as two of his sons played competitive chess to a reasonable level. He also, like his father, lived to be 96.

David and his first wife had one son, Wilfrid Arthur, and three daughters, one of whom died in infancy. After she died he remarried, and had two more sons, Lewis and Reginald.

Wilfrid, born in 1885, worked as a wood machinist, but was also a chess player.

We first pick him up in 1921, in his mid 30s, playing on top board for the Red Triangle (YMCA) team and winning his game against Wellingborough Town chess club. It looks like he was, up to that point, a social player, and, given the chance to try his hand against club standard opposition, discovered he was quite good. He soon joined Wellingborough club, seeing action against their local rivals from Northampton and Peterborough.

He was even good enough to be selected for his county side. Here he is, in 1924, in a match against Leicestershire, several of whose players I hope to feature in future Minor Pieces.

Birmingham Daily Post 25 November 1924

He seems to have played less often after 1925, but there are occasional mentions up to 1948.

In this 1939 match, two members of the famous Beach family were on the other side of the board. TJ (not JT, but he was known by his middle name, John) would much later write two excellent beginners’ books with CHO’D Alexander.

Northamptonshire Evening Telegraph 29 March 1939

 

Wilfrid’s youngest half-brother, Reginald, concentrated on helping his father run the family firm, but Lewis, born in 1894, was also a competitive player.

On leaving school, Lewis took a job with Boot’s the Chemists, rising to branch manager. In 1927 we find him in Essex, playing in the minor section of the county championship. He had been living in Luton with his wife and young daughter Enid (yes, that’s her) in the 1921 census but by 1926 he was living in Great Warley, Essex, just outside the M25. Enid had been joined by a brother, Philip John Lanspeary, in 1922. A few years later the family moved to nearby Brentwood, where Lewis joined the chess club.

In 1930 he was on Board 2 against Chelmsford, losing to a particularly interesting opponent, Tolstoy’s biographer Aylmer Maude.

Chelmsford Chronicle 19 December 1930

Aylmer wasn’t the only Maude playing chess for Brentwood. Here, in 1935, his son Lionel scored a draw against Lewis Lanspeary.

Chelmsford Chronicle 22 March 1935

Unlike his father and grandfather, Lewis didn’t enjoy a long life, dying young in 1941.

By 1946 Lewis’s widow Mary, along with Enid and Philip, had moved to London, to Kenilworth Court in Putney, eight blocks of Edwardian mansion flats right by Putney Bridge.

And, look! There on the electoral roll, just two doors away, was someone very famous in his day (but with his name misspelt here): Edgar Lustgarten.

Philip didn’t stay there long: in January 1947 he married Gwynneth Evelyn Reeder and moved to Long Eaton in Derbyshire, close to the point where that county meets Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire.

And then, like his father and uncle, he took up competitive chess. He joined his local club and was soon recruited for the county team, playing, like Uncle Wilfrid, against Leicestershire.

Leicester Evening Mail 22 March 1948

In 1950 he played a postal game which was featured in a sports shop window. You’ll see he adopted the ‘English start’ – presumably the English Opening was intended.

Grantham Journal 17 March 1950

Philip continued playing club and county chess in Long Eaton until 1955, when he, his wife and their young children Susan, born in 1952 and baby David (there are a lot of Davids in this family) moved to the Reading area. A third child, Hazel, was born there in 1957.

We have a much later address for him in the small Hampshire town of Tadley, 6 miles north of Basingstoke and 10 miles south west of Reading, so he might have been living at that point as well. Tadley is near Aldermaston, the home of the Atomic Weapons (Research) Establishment, which, at the time, was the area’s largest employer: perhaps he was working there. If you know, do get in touch.

I don’t have any further records of Philip playing chess after 1955. Perhaps he was still playing, but the local papers have yet to be digitised.

Perhaps, on the other hand, he decided to give up chess to allow himself more time for his other hobby: philately.

Phil was a philatelist, and like many philatelists he specialised in stamps with a particular theme: in his case stamps depicting birds. He even wrote a book on the subject, which you can buy here.

There’s a Bird Stamp Society which was founded in 1986, and Phil wrote an article on the bird stamps of Indonesia which was published in the September 1998 issue of their magazine, Flight. You can read it here: I note that their chairman, appropriately enough, was Robin Martin! Another win for nominative determinism!

Here’s another coincidence: this issue published a list of new members:

Look at the first name and address. If you’ve ever visited the Chess Palace you’ll spot that Mr M Warden was living at the end of my road. I didn’t know him, but, if I remember correctly, my opponent in my first competitive game of chess, in a match between two Richmond teams, was also M Warden. As far as I know, they weren’t the same person, but there’s another Richmond Chess connection with that surname, which you may discover in a future Minor Piece.

Philip, like his grandfather and great grandfather, lived to be 96. His wife Gwynneth did almost as well, reaching the age of 95.

We really need to return to Enid, who, as I told you at the start, was already on my family tree. The connection is through Gwynneth. She was the illegitimate daughter of Ida Rose Reeder, originally from Norfolk. Ida’s first cousin, John Palmer, moved to London and had a son, Percy John Palmer, who, after the death of his first wife, married Maud Kathleen Padbury. Maud was the youngest sister of Alfred, whom you met building cars in Detroit in 1910, and also the sister of my maternal grandmother Florence Padbury.

So this makes Enid, a member of Richmond Chess Club in 1950, the sister-in-law of  the 1st cousin 1x removed of the husband of my Great Aunt Maud. Confused? You will be!

Finally, then, we pick up Enid’s story again. This 1950 report is the only direct mention I have of her playing chess. It’s quite possible she remained a member of Richmond Chess Club for a few more years. If and when later years of the Richmond Herald appear online I’ll perhaps be able to find out.

However, there is this, which is of some interest for several reasons.

Richmond Herald 14 January 1950

“Three trophies have either been given or promised by members…”. Was one of those given or promised by Mr Bodycoat, whose trophy would later be used for the second division of the club championship, was his trophy donated in his memory after his untimely death the following year, or did he leave a legacy to the club?

There’s a reference to Walter Veitch, and also to ‘another member, Mr. A. J. Roycroft’, who won a best game prize. Coincidentally or not, Walter and John were (and John still is, at the age of 93) two of the country’s leading experts on endgame studies.

Here’s the prize winning game. Stockfish isn’t impressed, but judge for yourself. As always, click on any move for a pop-up window.

You’ll also note that the club had five junior members, and had doubled their number of lady members. Was Enid the first, or the second? If the second, who was the first?

Enid and her mother remained in Kenilworth Court until at least 1965 (London electoral registers are currently only available online up to that date) and probably until 1971, when her mother died.

It seems she had rather a lot in common with Beatrix Hooke, living in a mansion flat, concentrating on her job rather than romantic relationships, and also playing chess.

Like Beatrix, she married late in life, seemingly for companionship. While Beatrix married a widowed chess playing doctor, Enid married the twice divorced Charles John Lawrence Bonington, (see also this book)  whose background was in the armed forces, in Worthing in 1980. The son of his first marriage was none other than the mountaineer and chess enthusiast Chris Bonington, (see also his website here) whose name was shamefully misspelt in The (Even More) Complete Chess Addict. He played chess and listened to Bach on his expeditions.

Did Charles and Enid meet through a shared passion for chess, I wonder?

Charles died two years later, also in Worthing, while Enid lived on until 1999, where her death was recorded in Basingstoke. It seems likely she’d moved there after her husband’s death to be near her brother and his family.

So there you have the story of the chessing Lanspeary family. Two generations, two pairs of siblings, who played chess in four counties over four decades.  None of them were anywhere near master standard, but they were all good players of club/country strength. Players like them were, and still are, the backbone of chess. Wilfrid and Lewis, Enid and Philip, I salute you all.

Before I go, something I forgot last time. You might remember that Mr Bodycoat’s family came from villages close to my father’s family. He may also be the 3rd great-grandnephew of the wife of my 5th great-granduncle. We go back to one John Andrews Buzzard, born in West Langton, Leicestershire in 1697, who may have been my 6th great grandfather. (I have a DNA link with a member of another branch of his family, which suggests that this is at least possible.) One of his sons, William, married Elizabeth Gibbins, whose brother Thomas was the 3rd great grandfather of Walter/Boyder Bodycoat.

So there you have it: a newspaper article from the year I was born mentions two members of the chess club I would later join, one of whom was connected to my mother and the other connected to my father. Another golden thread that links us all together.

Join me again soon for another Minor Piece.

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Richmond Junior Chess Club 1975-2006: Part 3

By 1986 I’d developed some strong views about education and how they related to chess.

Something else happened as well. I was sitting in my London office one Feburary day wondering how I was ever going to be able to leave a job with no prospects of promotion or doing anything else when the phone rang.

It was my old friend Mike Fox, calling from Birmingham. “This phone call will change your life”, he said. And it did.

He’d been commissioned by Faber & Faber to write a book about chess trivia and invited me to join him as co-author. This would become The Complete Chess Addict (1987) and later The Even More Complete Chess Addict (1993), as well as the Addicts’ Corner column in CHESS which ran for 14 years. I decided that I could make as much money in less time by working freelance, while having time to help Mike with researching and writing the book and having more time to develop RJCC.

In order to improve Richmond Junior Club the first thing I wanted was to be able to find out everything I could about how every member of the club played chess, so that I could provide individual advice to all children and parents.

My view also was that, when teaching younger children and, more generally, less experienced players, everything we did had to happen for a very specific reason. I didn’t want to provide random lessons demonstrating random brilliant games to a random collection of children. Nor did I want to push children into doing too much too soon: using clocks and scoresheets and taking part in external tournaments before they were ready.

What I did (some of this was explained last time) was this:

  • I split the club into two sections: a morning group lasting two hours for primary school children, and an afternoon group lasting three hours for secondary school children, to which stronger primary school players would also be invited.
  • I introduced an internal grading system which was revised every few weeks, including all internal games (excluding blitz) so that I could select teams objectively in order of strength and identify when morning group players were ready to move up to the afternoon group. This included a very crude but reasonably effective measure to avoid grading deflation, based on the principle that, at any point, our members will either be improving or stationary.
  • Although I’d been collecting scoresheets of games played in our tournaments and training days for almost a decade, I now collected all afternoon group games (excluding blitz again) and played through them myself at home. There was no need to collect games played in the morning group as they were played at a lower level and usually decided by the number of pieces left en prise.

Beyond that, I wanted to ensure that our members would be able to try out a wide range of different openings, play games at different time controls, and play different opponents every week.

The primary school age children in our morning group were divided into divisions according to their internal grade. When new members joined we’d do a quick assessment. If they were obviously beginners they’d start in the lowest division. If we already knew about them because they’d played in one of our tournaments we’d already have given them a grade so would be able to put them in the correct division. Otherwise, we’d give them a quick friendly game against a player in a middle division and see how they got on.

I also used the same divisional system in schools for many years to ensure that children played different opponents of a similar strength to themselves every week (until the divisions were changed). This system also catered for the fact that some children played fast and would get through several games in one session while others played slowly and would only play one game. I found this worked much better than a Swiss tournament where everyone played one game a week and children who had finished their games would sometimes interfere with the games still in progress.

Every few weeks, by which time some of the faster and more regular attenders would have played most of the other players in their division, we ran the results through the grading program and restarted the divisions, with the most successful players gaining promotion.

We knew that if we taught children opening principles and then left them to their own devices many games would start with boring Giuoco Pianissimos or Spanish Four Knights, which, because they led to closed positions with few opportunities for pawn breaks, were only superficially good for less experienced players.

So we developed a system which would enable children in this group to experience a range of different openings and position types. Our first rule was that all games in the morning group would start with the moves 1. e4 e5. Over the course of the year (September to July) we’d  work through the major open games, starting with simple Four Knights type positions and gradually moving through to the King’s Gambit and (the favourite of many of our members) the Danish Gambit. We’d give a short introductory talk before the games started and expect players to start the game with the moves displayed on the demonstration board.

Ray Keene’s column in the Times always provided a simple tactical puzzle on Saturdays to encourage readers to compete for a prize, and we’d display this on the demo board so that children could attempt to solve it as they arrived. We’d go through the solution in front of the whole class before introducing them to the opening of the week.

We also wanted to ensure that children were introduced to clocks and scoresheets at the appropriate time in their chess development to prepare them for promotion to the afternoon group. As each of these adds a level of complexity to an already difficult game we wanted to do them one at a time, so players in the second division were asked to play their games on clocks (30 minutes per player per game) and, when they reached the top division they were required to notate their games (down to the last five minutes) as well.

For some of our members, the Morning Group was all they wanted and they’d drop out after a year or two. But others would be ambitious to play competitively and move up to the Afternoon Group, which was designed, in the first instance, for players of round about 1000 to 1500 strength. We assumed that, at that point, they’d move on to bigger and better things, but, as our system developed, we were attracting players up to getting on for 2000 strength.

In order to give our Afternoon Group members the chance to try out a wide range of different openings we developed a system involving games using set openings.

It took a few years for this to be fully implemented, but what we did was to divide all the major openings into ten groups, featuring one group every half term. We built a three-year cycle, with some groups happening every year, some twice in three years and some once in three years.

We also wanted to provide a range of different time limits. For younger players up to about 1500 who tend to play fast there’s no real need for slower games, while we also decided that anything less than 10 minutes per player would lead to too many blunders. So our main termly structure eventually looked like this:

  1. Freestyle 30 minute games (3 games in the 3 hour session)
  2. Coach and play – introductory lesson on the openings to be played over the next few weeks followed by two 45 minute games, consulting the opening books
  3. 10 minute blitz tournament (in groups with promotion/relegation) with opening variation picked out of the ‘hat’)
  4. 30 minute games (3 games in the 3 hour session) using the set openings
  5. Freestyle 10 minute blitz tournament (in groups with promotion/relegation)

Over the year we’d run 12 sessions with 3 30-minute games (at first in groups of 4 (quad tournaments) or 6 (Scheveningen system tournaments) – six freestyle and 6 with set openings. All games would be recorded down to the last five minutes and all scoresheets would be handed it. We used duplicate scoresheets for this purpose so that they all had a copy of their games to take home. I’d then play through all the games again at home, and, once ChessBase became available I’d enter them all into a database.

We’d also run 11 sessions with 10-minute games (as many as they could play in the time available), five freestyle and six with set openings.

We’d run 6 Coach and Play sessions to introduce the openings to be played in the next rapid and blitz sessions.

We also ran one simultaneous display a term. Sometimes we’d use visiting masters, sometimes our own coaches, members of our parent chess club or former RJCC members. We considered these a vital part of our programme for several reasons:

  • They promoted chess as an adult game, not just a game for young children
  • They gave our members the chance to meet and play against titled players
  • They forced our members to slow down and think while the simul giver was going round the room moving on the other boards

Other weeks were filled up with activities such as training games at slower time limits, endgame practice and puzzle solving, while the last week of each term gave our members the chance to enjoy chess variants such as Exchange (Bughouse) and Kriegspiel.

The idea was that each week would have one activity, which would vary from week to week. Very different from the way most junior clubs run, with two activities (lesson and game) a week and the same structure most weeks.

If you want to use our methods, our stationery (now rebranded as Chess Heroes rather than RJCC) is available to download here and here while our opening books (recently updated slightly to include the currently popular London System) can be downloaded here.

Coincidentally, several other important things happened at about this time.

A local primary school, Sheen Mount, appointed a new Headteacher, Jane Lawrence, who was passionate about introducing all her pupils to chess, teaching them the moves and giving them the chance to play competitively at school every day. Many of her pupils joined Richmond Junior Club, and, as you’ll see, two of them, Richard Bates and Tom Hinks-Edwards, went on to become International Masters.

Ray Cannon, whom I vaguely knew from the London chess circuit, brought his young son Richard along to the club. Ray was (and still is) an excellent chess coach and his views on chess teaching were (and still are) very similar to mine, and he soon started to play a vital role in the club, helping with the Afternoon Group as well as spending his Sundays visiting tournaments and passing on the results of our members so that I could incorporate them in our internal grading list.

The other player who played an invaluable part in our successes for many years was Gavin Wall, later an IM, one of our early members who, on returning from University joined our coaching team, working mostly in the Morning Group. Gavin and Ray were both integral to the club for many years: I can’t thank them enough.

Over the next few years we again became very strong, and the system we used in the Afternoon Group undoubtedly played its part.

As it happened, the summer of 1986 witnessed our first ever British Champion when Irfan Nathoo took the national Under 9 title.

Richmond Informer 14 August 1986

Here’s a game from later in the year. To play through this or any other game in this article click on any move and a pop-up window will appear.

With our new system in place we were able to promote the club in the local press, announcing an exciting season ahead.

Middlesex Chronicle 04 September 1986

We were actively looking for sponsorship at this point. We received donations from two local charities at various times, and here we found sponsorship from the Richmond branch of Midland Bank.

Richmond Informer 04 June 1987

We were also competing successfully in team competitions against other London junior clubs. Barnet Knights, of course, are still going strong today.

 

Richmond Informer 13 August 1987

One of our new members was a talented Scottish junior, Jonathan Rowson, who had moved from Aberdeen into the same road as me. He used to come round to my house for a game after school, but sadly for us he didn’t stay in the area very long.

In this game from one of our monthly quad tournaments, he demonstrated his class by outplaying Richard Bates in a pawn ending.

During this period I was doing a lot of private tuition. Jonathan was by no means the only one of our members who would visit my house for lessons, either on a regular or an occasional basis. Judging from both individual and team results it must have had some effect on them.

By 1989 Sheen Mount players were making names for themselves on the national stage. Here are future IM Richard Bates and Tom Davey playing for England’s Primary Schools team in a match against Scotland.

Richmond Informer 16 June 1989

 

Also in June 1989 we were invited to play a match against a visiting team from Arizona. As we had so many strong players by now we split our players into three teams and played a four-way match.

Here’s Richard Cannon’s game against the American board 1.

By the summer of 1989 it was time to move. The church in central Richmond where we met was being redeveloped so we had to find new premises. Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club moved to London Welsh Rugby Club, while Richmond Junior Club found a new home in a large Victorian house in East Twickenham, where we’d meet for more than 15 years.

Richmond Informer 29 September 1989

We also set up a separate group for older children enabling us to enter teams in the Thames Valley League. We played our home matches in Friday evening sessions and scheduled our away matches, as far as possible, during the school holidays.

Jane Lawrence was now running Richmond teams in the English Primary Schools Chess Association inter-area competitions, with players from schools around the Borough taking part. Andrew Bamford, like many of the players in these teams, was a member of Richmond Junior Club.

Richmond Informer 20 April 1990

In this game from our 1990 Under 11 Championship a speculative sacrifice proved successful.

Wanting to provide top level coaching for our strongest players, we appointed GM Daniel King as our club professional in 1990. We were also able to enter a third team in the Thames Valley League.

Richmond Informer 14 September 1990

 

In just a few years since 1986 the club had made tremendous progress, and we were able to bill ourselves, without fear of contradiction, as ‘England’s leading club for young players’. This is Chris A Baker, who hasn’t played competitively for a long time, not to be confused with long-standing Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club member Chris B Baker, who was also a pupil at Hampton School, or indeed IM Chris W Baker.

Middlesex Chronicle 20 June 1991

In this game Tom had the chance to play a Greek Gift sacrifice against an opponent with insufficient experience of the French Defence.

And here’s Chris Baker, beating one of his regular rivals in a club game.

Every summer during this period the parents of our stronger players got together to book accommodation for the British Championships. From 1991 onwards we were rewarded with successes like these:

1991 Richard Bates U14 shared, Luke McShane U9

1992 James Clifford/Luke McShane U14 Andrew Bamford U11

1993 Tom Hinks-Edwards U16 shared

One of our favourite simul givers at the time was Ukrainian IM Petr Marusenko, a regular visit to Hastings (he’s there again this year) who would drop in to visit us after the congress.

In this game James Clifford outplayed him in the ending.

Richard Bates, now at Tiffin School, continued to be successful in 1992, and was rated one of the world’s top players of his age.

Kingston Informer 31 January 1992

 

But by that time we had a new member whose feats would outshine even Richard’s. This was Luke McShane, who, at the age of only 8, took the World Under 10 Championship in 1992.

Newcastle Journal 14 July 1992

Luke scored victories against future stars such as Bacrot, Aronian and Grischuk in this event. He was perhaps fortunate to escape from lost positions in the first two of these games, but here’s his win against the Russian representative.

In January 1993 we were privileged to host a junior team from Kiev (now Kiiv), whose top players were, as you might imagine, very strong. We arranged four events: a simul given by Daniel King, a match against a team from Richmond & Twickenham Chess Club, a match against a Richmond Junior Club team and a match against a junior team representing the Southern Counties Chess Union, which included three RJCC players.

Another of our very strong players, Aleksandar Trifunovic, great nephew of Grandmaster Petar Trifunovic, scored an exciting win on board three of the RJCC v Kiev match. His opponent here is now an American IM.

Richard Bates scored a win and a draw against the top two Kiev players. He drew with Spartak Vysochin, now a grandmaster, in the RJCC match and won this game from the SCCU Juniors match.

As a result of his performance in the World Junior Championship, Luke was given the opportunity to play a game against Garry Kasparov, in London to discuss the arrangements for his forthcoming World Championship match against Nigel Short.

Richmond Informer 05 March 1993

Here’s the game.

In May 1993, buoyed by these successes, we were asked to be involved in the Richmond Chess Initiative, which, in essence, did very much what Chess in Schools & Communities is doing now, but on a local rather than national level.

Richmond Informer 14 May 1993

Children would learn all the right moves, but would they play them in the right order? You’ll find out in the next part of the history of Richmond Junior Chess Club.

 

 

 

 

 

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Birthday Greetings IM Shreyas Royal (09-i-2009)

FM Shreyas Royal at the London Chess Classic, 2021 courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Shreyas Royal at the London Chess Classic, 2021 courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN sends birthday wishes to IM Shreyas (known as “Shrey” by his friends) Royal born on Friday, January 9th, 2009. “Hallelujah” by Alexandra Burke was number one in the UK hit parade.

Shreyas attended The Pointer School in Blackheath, London, SE3 whose motto is “The Lord is my Shepherd”. Currently Shreyas is home schooled.

In October 2021 BCN secured an interview with Shreyas via his father Jitendra and below is mostly from that interview:

BCN: What caused his initial interest in chess and at what age?

His initial interest in chess was capturing or as he used to call it ‘eating’ pieces but as he grew more mature, he loved that there were so many possibilities in chess, so much still left to explore! At the Age of 6 he learnt and got an interest in chess.

BCN: Has Shreyas had any chess teachers or coaches?

  1. Jyothi Lal N. with a peak of 2250 FIDE but is very knowledgeable and helped from just above beginner to 1800. He was Shreyas’s first coach.
  2. Meszaros Gyula (Julian) who was an IM with a peak of 2465 FIDE and was an endgame master which helped him from 1800-2100.
  3. His Current Coach is GM John Emms with a peak of around 2600 FIDE, he is an expert in many fields such as Positional Play, Openings, Strategic chess etc and has also made a big impact on how to prepare against opponents. He had helped him from 2100-2300 so far in just under a year!

BCN: Which chess clubs and/ or Teams does Shreyas represent?

He represents SV Erkenschwick from Germany and Wasa SK from Sweden for online events as he has joined them during the pandemic. He started his 4NCL career with KJCA Kings in January 2019 but now mainly represents Wood Green which he has played for in online events in and will also represent them in the upcoming 4NCL weekends.

His first appearance in Megabase 2022 comes from the 2015 British Under-8 Championship in Coventry, the eventual winner being Dhruv Radhakrishnan.

Progress from those early days has only been interrupted by school examination breaks and the Covid pandemic:

FIDE Rating progress chart for FM Shreyas Royal
FIDE Rating progress chart for FM Shreyas Royal

In August 2016 in Bournemouth Shreyas scored an impressive 6/6 to win the British Under-8 Championship.

Shreyas Royal at the 2016 UKCC Delancey Terafinal in Loughborough courtesy of John Upham Photography
Shreyas Royal at the 2016 UKCC Delancey Terafinal in Loughborough courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN: What was his first memorable tournament success?

This was the 2016 European Schools Under-7 championship where he was runner-up without any preparation or work on chess!

Shreyas Royal at the 2016 UKCC Delancey Southern Gigafinal in Reading courtesy of John Upham Photography
Shreyas Royal at the 2016 UKCC Delancey Southern Gigafinal in Reading courtesy of John Upham Photography

In September 2017 Shreyas travelled to Mamaia in Romania and after nine hard fought rounds tied for first place with 8/9 in the European Youth Chess Championship, Under-8 with Giang Tran Nam (HUN, 1561).

In 2021 Shreyas was awarded the FM title by FIDE:

FIDE FM Certificate for Shreyas Royal
FIDE FM Certificate for Shreyas Royal

BCN: Which chess players past & present are inspirational for him?

  1. Magnus Carlsen, world champion and broke many FIDE records also is an inspiration for most of this generation. He likes his slow grinding and almost winning from any opening or ending. This is his favourite player of all time.
  2. Garry Kasparov played brilliant attacking chess and calculated like a machine.
  3. Bobby Fischer played a similar style to Kasparov but was more talented than both Magnus and Kasparov in his opinion as he worked all by himself at a time in the USA when chess was not so popular while for the Russians, they had brilliant coaches and had one good player after the other. He rates him a bit lower because Fischer quit competitive chess a bit too early and could not reach the heights he was worthy of.
  4. Alireza Firouzja
  5. Fabiano Caruana

BCN: What are his favourite openings with the White pieces?

He plays 1.d4 pretty much all the time.

MegaBase 2020 has 294 games with 1.d4 and one solitary 1.g3 from March 2021. The 1.d4 games feature main line Queen’s Gambit / Catalan type positions championing 5.Nge2 against the King’s Indian Defence and the exchange variation against the Grunfeld.

BCN: and what are his preferred defences as the second player?

Really depends on what they play, against every opening he has got one or two lines which he enjoys equally.

Megabase 2022 informs us that Shreyas defends the main line Closed Variation of the Ruy Lopez and main line Giuoco Piano. Previously he essayed the Sicilian Najdorf.

BCN: Does he have any favourite chess books?

Not really as he is not such a big fan of chess books, but he likes My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer. Fundamental Chess Endings and Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations.

BCN: Which tournaments are planned for 2022?

We have pencilled in a couple of norm and Open (France, Spain, Germany etc.) tournaments in European countries.

BCN: What are his favourite subjects outside of chess?

His favourite subjects outside chess are Science, History, Maths with Science as his favourite, History as his second favourite and Maths as his third favourite.

BCN: Does Shreyas play any physical sports?

He does Football, Cricket and a bit of Lawn Tennis.

BCN: What are his plans and aspirations for the future?

To become a world chess champion one day, but it’s very expensive to even get to the level of IM! Currently we are looking for sponsors who can help support Shreyas to get there.

Here is his personal website.

In late December 2021 Camberley Chess Club had Shreyas as their weekly Zoom meeting guest speaker.

and finally three of SRs favourite games:

and from more recent times:

and finally:

FM Shreyas Royal at the London Chess Classic, 2021 courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Shreyas Royal at the London Chess Classic, 2021 courtesy of John Upham Photography

From September 9-14, 2022, Shreyas achieved his first IM norm at the Mindsports GM Tournament in London and earned his second norm, along with a joint 3rd, at the Hit-A-Open Tournament in Slovenia between September 16-22, 2022

At the 4th FIDE Congress of 2022 Shreyas was awarded the IM title and his FIDE standard play rating stands at 2456.

Most recently he has achieved his first GM norm.

Further background here from Leonard Barden.

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Happy Birthday GM Ravi Haria (07-ii-1999)

BCN sends birthday wishes to GM Ravi Haria.

Ravi Haria was born Sunday, February 7th, 1999  in Elstree, Hertfordshire. “Maria” by Blondie was top of the hit parade. Ravi currently resides in London.

Ravi attended Lyonsdown School in Barnet and then The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and now reads History at University College, London.

ECF grading profiles for Ravi Haria
ECF grading profiles for Ravi Haria

Ravi learnt at the age of 6 and joined Barnet Knights Chess Club in 2005.   His first chess teacher was Angela Eyton who taught him the moves and Angela was followed by Tony Niccoli and then Julian Meszoras on his ascent of the chess ladder.

Ravi’s first recorded tournament was the 35th Barnet Knights Under-8  rapidplay on September 25th 2005. Also playing of note were Jonathan Pein and Isaac Sanders.

His first recorded standard play game  was in the London Junior Under-10 Championships on December 9th 2006.

By the time he was eight he had attracted the attention of the England selectors and played in the 2008 Commonwealth Championships in New Delhi coming home with a bronze medal.

Ravi aged 8 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in January 2008
Ravi aged 8 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in January 2008
Ravi aged 9 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in August 2008
Ravi aged 9 photographed by The Borehamwood and Elstree Times in August 2008

In 2008 Ravi won the British Under-9 title in Liverpool. He said afterwards:

It was quite nice to be leading everyone and I felt proud of myself. I’m not sure how I control my nerves but it feels really good to win.

His mother Sona said:

It’s a bit overwhelming but we just support him. It means you have to give up a lot of time for him but it’s really nice to see that he’s getting somewhere.

This was followed in 2014 by winning the British Under-18 championship in Aberystwyth aged 15 and then the same title in 2017 in Llandudno.

Ravi Haria, UKCC Southern Gigafinal, 2013
Ravi Haria, UKCC Southern Gigafinal, 2013

In 2016 Ravi was equal 2nd to Deep Sengupta at the Hastings Masters Open with an impressive 6/9 and a TPR of 2563.  This performance secured his second IM norm.

The IM title was conferred at the 88th FIDE Congress 2017, 7-15 October, Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey.

He scored six points after 11 rounds at the 2017 World Junior championship in Italy and 5.5 points at the 2017 WYCC U-18 group in Uruguay.

Ravi completed his British junior titles run by becoming the current (no OTB event in 2020) British Under-21 champion in 2019 in Torquay scoring an emphatic 6.5/9 securing a share of third place.

Partial crosstable for the 2019 British Championships in Torquay
Partial crosstable for the 2019 British Championships in Torquay

Ravi became a FIDE Master in 2015 at the age of 16 and and International Master two years later making him England’s second youngest IM after Matthew Wadsworth.

OTB Elo rating profile for IM Ravi Haria according to MegaBase 2020
OTB Elo rating profile for IM Ravi Haria according to MegaBase 2020

His peak FIDE rating was 2497 in October 2021 and currently (February  2022) is 2490.

In 2019 Ravi teamed up with IM Adam C. Taylor to join Adam’s Making Grandmasters training venture.

FM Ravi Haria, ECF Secondary Schools Rapidplay, 2016
FM Ravi Haria, ECF Secondary Schools Rapidplay, 2016

On January 28th 2021 Thinker’s Publishing released The Modernised Anti-Sicilians, Volume 1, Rossolimo Variation which is a massive 520 page tome on the following position :

which was reviewed by FM Richard Webb.

which we hope will be followed by at least Volume 2!

The Modernized Anti-Sicilians - Volume 1: Rossolimo Variation, Ravi Haria, Thinker's Publishing, 2021
The Modernized Anti-Sicilians – Volume 1: Rossolimo Variation, Ravi Haria, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021

Ravi has plus scores against : Matthew Turner, Simon Williams, William Claridge Hansen, Bob Eames, David Eggleston and Arul Gupta to name but a few.

GM John Emms plays IM Ravi Haria in the final round of the 2019 British Championships in Torquay
GM John Emms plays IM Ravi Haria in the final round of the 2019 British Championships in Torquay

With the white pieces Ravi unsurprisingly plays the Moscow and Rossolimo variations against the Sicilian,  the Ruy Lopez and, in recent years, he has adopted the Reti/English complex.

As the second player he plays the French Winawer and (refreshingly) the Abrahams-Noteboom Variation of the Semi-Slav.

For your entertainment we have these two  brevities :

and

Ravi has played for University College London. Hendon and Cavendish in the London and other leagues and in 4NCL he started with Kings Head, transferring to Cambridge in 2014 and finally moving in 2016 to Wood Green.

In this game Ravi punishes IM Malcolm Pein who has a bad day at the office :

Ravi Haria, British Championships, 2014, Aberystwyth
Ravi Haria, British Championships, 2014, Aberystwyth

Ravi is Mesutgm on chess.com and lichess

Over the 19th – 23rd August  2021 Ravi played in the Wood Green Invitational round-robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford.

Ravi scored 7.5/10 and secured his second Grandmaster Norm and  a TPR of 2680.

Wood Green Invitational Round-Robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford. August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2021
Wood Green Invitational Round-Robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford. August Bank Holiday Weekend, 2021

Over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2021 Ravi played in the Northumbrian Masters  GM Tournament at the splendid Marriott MetroCentre, Gateshead winning jointly with Conor Murphy scoring 6.5/9 with a TPR of 2600. This gave Ravi his third and final GM norm.

The norm was ratified at a recent FIDE Congress. As of February 2022 Ravi stood at 2490 for standard-play.

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Happy Birthday FM Jimmy Adams (07-ii-1947)

BCN sends Birthday wishes to FM Jimmy Adams

James Bernard Adams was born on Friday, February 7th, 1947 to James Adams and Ivy F Soule in Islington, London. He attended Highbury County Grammar School for Boys.

Jimmy was married to Sharon and they have a daughter, Charlotte.

In 1958 Jimmy at the age of 11 joined his local Islington Chess Club (at the time Islington & North London Chess Club) and soon afterwards became a London Junior Champion. Following this Jimmy played little chess and was working for John Lewis (echoes of CHO’D Alexander and Leonard Barden). Following John Lewis Jimmy worked as a Health and Safety Officer for Islington Council.

At this time Islington Chess Club was one of the strongest in England and included such members as Kenny Harman, Ron Harman, Danny Wright, Stewart Reuben and others. Its most famous member was probably IM Simon Webb

The Spassky-Fischer match of 1972 re-kindled his lapsed interest and he won with a 100% score the London Amateur Championship.

He joined and was a staunch member of London Central YMCA (CENTYMCA) chess club and he wrote a privately published history of the club entitled The CENTYMCA Story. This is now a much sought after publication. His membership continued during the 1970s until around 1979.

The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976
The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976
The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976
The CentYMCA Story by Jimmy Adams, 1976

During this period Jimmy was extremely active at the Endell Street premises.

Here is Jimmy playing Viktor Korchnoi at Endell Street (in the Phase Two classrooms) :

Jimmy plays Viktor Korchnoi at the Endell Street premises of London Central YMCA on January 18th, 1976. Photographer potentially John Yeo
Jimmy plays Viktor Korchnoi at the Endell Street premises of London Central YMCA on January 18th, 1976. Photographer potentially John Yeo

In 1974 Jimmy embarked on a highly successful career as a writer and journalist. He contributed articles to both CHESS and the British Chess Magazine and authored a number of acclaimed books for BatsfordThe Chess PlayerCaissa Books and latterly, New in Chess. He also self-published the first book on Bobby Fischer’s successor entitled K is for Karpov! His books on Chigorin, Zukertort and Breyer are universally regarded  as some of the finest chess biographies published.

In 1979 Jimmy joined Metropolitan Chess Club to play in the London League A Division. He played top board and scored very highly with many significant scalps.

Jimmy gained his FM title in 2014 (at the age of 67!). 67 must be one of the most advanced ages to acquire an FM title. According to Felice his peak rating was 2300 in January 1981 aged 34.

Jimmy giving a simultaneous display
Jimmy giving a simultaneous display

He joined Metropolitan  Chess Club. He joined Barbican, as did many other CENTYMCA players, following the hiatus over their Tottenham Court Road venue loss.

Jimmy records a game between David Howell and Andrew Whiteley in 2000.
Jimmy records a game between David Howell and Andrew Whiteley in 2000.

In December 2009 Jimmy visited the London Chess Classic and was photographed with VIP guest Viktor Korchnoi :

Viktor Korchnoi in conversation with Jimmy Adams at the 2009 London Chess Classic. Photograph by Mark Huba
Viktor Korchnoi in conversation with Jimmy Adams at the 2009 London Chess Classic. Photograph by Mark Huba

Jimmy was Editor of Middlesex Chessletter and Bayswater Chess in the early 1970s and produced major bulletins on the hugely successful Islington Congresses of the same period. He then worked for Pergamon Chess Books which led to his editorship of CHESS / CHESS Monthly magazine from until 2010 although his name remained on the masthead until February 2012.

In 2012 Jimmy and Ray Cannon attended a meeting of the Ken Whyld Association in Norwich :

Jimmy Adams and Michael Negele at the 2012 meeting of the Ken Whyld Association
Jimmy Adams and Michael Negele at the 2012 meeting of the Ken Whyld Association
Jimmy and Ray Cannon at a 2012 meeting in Norwich of the Ken Whyld Association
Jimmy and Ray Cannon at a 2012 meeting in Norwich of the Ken Whyld Association

In January 2016 Jimmy (together with Josip Asik) became co-editors of British Chess Magazine taking over from James Pratt and John Upham.
Jimmy also jointly edited Chess Informants 109-132 up to 2017 before taking on the role of Deputy Editor of the newly created American Chess Magazine whilst continuing to work as editor for Batsford Chess which had changed ownership over the years and had now been taken under the umbrella of Pavillion Books.

In 2014 Jimmy and Ray attended an event organised by the father of Emma Bentley

Jimmy Adams and Ray Cannon at an event organised by Emma Bentley's father.
Jimmy Adams and Ray Cannon at an event organised by Emma Bentley’s father.

Here is an interview with Sarah Hurst from Kingpin Magazine

The Games of Anatoly Karpov, Batsford, Jimmy Adams, 1974
The Games of Anatoly Karpov, Batsford, Jimmy Adams, 1974
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
The Complete Games of World Champion Anatoly Karpov, Jimmy Adams, 1976
Sicilian Defence Najdorf Poisoned Pawn, Jimmy Adams, The Chess Player, 1977
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Happy 92nd FM Michael Franklin (02-ii-1931)

We send best wishes to Michael Franklin on his 92nd birthday.

Growing Up

Michael John Franklin was born on Monday, February 2nd, 1931 in Battersea, London to Albert George (27 ix 1906, Dover – ? iii 1983, Wandsworth) and Helen Ann Franklin (née Colson, 1908-2003) who married in the third quarter of 1928 in Wandsworth.  Albert was a clerk as was his father.

At the commencement of the Second World War, when eight years old, Michael was evacuated to Frome in Somerset. As a consequence Michael would delight in playing in the Frome Congress whenever possible. He played in the first event in 1990 organised by Leon York  (whose name is the memorial trophy for the Major section).  The story of Michael’s return to Frome made its’ way in to the local newspaper and was reported by Gary Lane as follows :

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CX (110, 1990), Number 7 (July), page 296 :

“A special presentation by the sponsor, Mrs. Jean Mackereth, Managing Director of Keyford Frames, was made to Londoner Michael Franklin, who was returning for the first time in 51 years to the town to which he was evacuated during the war. His final appearance at Frome was in the 2010 event.

The Early Years

Michaels interest in chess started in 1944 aged 13 when he witnessed games being played on Clapham Common. He was fascinated by the pieces and taught himself to play, never receiving  any formal coaching. He joined the Clapham Common Chess Club in 1944. (CCCC became incorporated into Battersea Chess Club some time later).

CHECK MATES: Elderly members of the Clapham Common Open Air Chess and Draughts Club, circa 1920. The club met regularly during the afternoons to play on Clapham Common in south London. Copyright : Keystone
CHECK MATES: Elderly members of the Clapham Common Open Air Chess and Draughts Club, circa 1920. The club met regularly during the afternoons to play on Clapham Common in south London. Copyright : Keystone

Apart from summer events such as the above the club had a Winter Section that played matches in the London League. The club won the first division (now known as the Brian Smith Trophy) of the London League in the 1946-47 and 1947-48 seasons. Michael played his final game in the London Chess League for Richmond & Twickenham on April 14th 2010 drawing with John Hodgson,  giving a sixty year span.

In his formative years he played at the Gambit Chess Café, Budge Row,  Cannon Street, London, EC4N. Many strong players regularly visited the Gambit to play skittles, blitz and the frequently held lightning tournaments hosted by the proprietor Mr GH White.

Events such as these enabled Michael to develop his quick sight of the board and his flair for tactical play.

Leonard Barden added :

“Michael made his name as a young player first by his successes in the Saturday evening Gambit Guinea speed events at the Gambit Chess Café in Cannon Street which he often won ahead of master level rivals. He remained a strong speed player all his life.”

In the early 1950s Michael was persuaded by his friends Aird Thomson (who was Scottish Boys’ Champion in 1932, and 1933 ( equal-first). In 1951 he was Scottish Champion. In 1954 he moved to London. He married Susan Mary Hamilton in 1961 who went on to become Scottish Ladies’ Champion in 1965.) and oriental carpet expert Robert Pinner to join the Richmond and Twickenham Chess Club  playing for the club in the London League, Surrey Trophy  and National Club Championship until he retired from competitive play 2010.

Making Progress

Michael’s first appearance in British Chess Magazine was in Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February). Page 52 contained this report of the 1945 London Boy’s Championship in which Michael reached the final A section :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February), page 52
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February), page 52

Michael’s club (for this event) is recorded as Hammersmith Arts and Crafts School.

On leaving school  Michael joined a firm of Patent Agents remaining in their employ in the accounts department for around forty years before retiring in the late 1980s. His retirement was prompted by the firm’s adoption of electronic computers. When he retired he was Chief Cashier.

On June 18th 1960 Michael’s happiest day was when he married Jean Fey. They celebrated  their diamond anniversary in 2020.

To the present day Michael has maintained an aversion toward modern technology. He did, however, concede to the ownership of a mobile telephone. This was for the specific purpose of updating Jean on his days progress in any chess tournaments where he was away from home.

In 1946 (aged 15) Michael won the Felce Cup awarded by the Surrey County Chess Association. A result indicating rapid improvement since Michael had only started playing competitively in 1944.

The Felce Cup held by the hands of Stephen Moss in 2014
The Felce Cup held by the hands of Stephen Moss in 2014

In 1951 Michael finished third in the Surrey Championships behind the winner Frank Parr and runner-up David Hooper. In 1961, 1966, 1968, 1969 and 1970 Michael won the Surrey Championship outright and made many appearences in county matches for Surrey from 1950 onwards until 2010.

Unfortunately Michael’s rapid progress was threatened by two bouts of ill health. In 1948 aged 17 Michael was diagnosed with Tuberculosis which lasted for eighteen months including a twelve month stay in the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Aged twenty the TB returned leading to yet another twelve months illness.

Michael has suffered from ill health all of his life interrupting his chess career at various times. Fortunately the TB has not returned.

Michael won the National Chess Centre Championship in 1953 and 1955 being runner-up in 1954. The venue was Hill’s Restaurant, 158 Bishopsgate, London, EC2 opposite Liverpool Street Station since the original John Lewis department store venue was bombed in 1940.

Results from the 1955 event:

1-2 Franklin, Fazekas 3.5/5
3 Fuller 3/5
4 Barden 2.5/5
5 Parr 1/5
6 Green 0.5/5

Michael won the play-off 2-0.

The British Chess Federation first published a National Grading list in 1953 (using the Richard Clarke system). In the 1954 list MF appeared with a grade of 2A (225-232) and from then on with a grade of either 2A or 2B. In 1964 a numeric system had him at 225 ranking Michael 4th in England behind Penrose 244, Kottnauer 238 and Clarke 231.

Michael played many times in the annual Battle of Britain Tournament organised by Squadron Leader David Pritchard and his committee. He won it four times : 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962.

The Ilford Whitsun Congress

The Ilford Whitsun Congress was a regular part of Michael’s season throughout the sixties. He won the Premier Reserves in 1961 ahead of Hilton, Hindle, Howson, Sales and Blaine and was runner-up to Kottnauer in 1962.  In 1963 he went one step better by winning the Premier :

A report of Mike Franklin's success at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress by Peter Clarke. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 193
A report of Mike Franklin’s success at the 1963 Ilford Whitsun Congress by Peter Clarke. Source : British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 7 (July), page 193

and here is the fifth round game :

In his tournament report PH Clarke wrote :

This buoyant, optimistic attitude of his is a great strength and always makes him a dangerous opponent.

Away from Home : International Progress

1964 saw selection by the BCF to play in the Tel Aviv Olympiad :

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

and scored a creditable 4/6.  This was followed in 1965 with 3/5 in Clare Benedict tournament held in Berlin.

He played in the annual Anglo-Dutch match on no less than six occasions in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and finally in 1969. His aggregate score was an impressive 8/12.

Hugh Alexander, Čeněk Kottnauer, Michael Franklin and Owen Hindle
Hugh Alexander, Čeněk Kottnauer, Michael Franklin and Owen Hindle

On the national scene Michael repeated his 1963 victory at the 1969 Ilford Premier with a clear first place : Franklin 4; RG Wade and D Wright 3; JB Howson 2.5; BH Wood 2; PH Clarke 0.5.

In 1970 Michael won the London Championship which was also known as the Budget Cup which had last been held in 1956 .  He followed this in 1972 by rightly earning the (now defunct) title of British Master.

Michael’s final appearance for England was in 1971 in the Cheltenham based Anglo-German match with a somewhat disappointing 0.5/2 against Juergen Dueball.

Owen Hindle, Michael Franklin, Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth
Owen Hindle, Michael Franklin, Harry Golombek and Michael Haygarth

Michael played board two for London in a Telex match versus Belgrade playing Marjanovic.  The game was drawn.

Michael Franklin playing board two in the London - Belgrade Telex Match on April 3rd, 1976 from the St. James Hotel, Buckingham Gate. Sourced from BCM, Volume XCVI (96), Number 5, page 192. Photographer probably Freddy Reilly.
Michael Franklin playing board two in the London – Belgrade Telex Match on April 3rd, 1976 from the St. James Hotel, Buckingham Gate. Sourced from BCM, Volume XCVI (96), Number 5, page 192. Photographer probably Freddy Reilly.

The Ultimate Prize : The Aaronson Masters

The Aaronson Masters at  *Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, 1978 brought his best individual success at the age of 47, sharing first place with IM Aldo Haik of France and to boot, earning  an IM norm.

(*Venue location thanks to Ken Norman)

Joint winners of the 1978 Aaronson Masters : Michael Franklin and IM Aldo Haik
Joint winners of the 1978 Aaronson Masters : Michael Franklin and IM Aldo Haik

Michael scored an undefeated 7.5/10 and finished ahead of Short, Speelman, Nunn, Hartston, Mestel, Webb, Basman, Botterill and numerous other illustrious players.  Michael remarked of his lifetime best result that it was

just one of those occasions when everything went right!

But he scored 3.5/5 against the IMs, was alert to every opportunity, and the games show he owed little to luck.

Leonard Barden, Stewart Reuben and Michael Franklin at the 1978 Aaronson Masters
Leonard Barden, Stewart Reuben and Michael Franklin at the 1978 Aaronson Masters

Like many others Michael made appearences in Lloyds Bank events of 1977, 1978, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1994.

Michael Franklin (left) at the Lloyds Bank Masters playing IGM Leonid Shamkovich
Michael Franklin (left) at the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters playing IGM Leonid Shamkovich
Michael and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters
Michael and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters

The Hastings Years

Michael first played at Hastings in 1964 when he was invited to play in the Premier Tournament. The tournament was won by Mikhail Tal and Michael finished in last place.

Undaunted he returned to Hastings in 1968 to play in the Challengers tournament. One of the attractions of playing in the Challengers was that the winner received a place the following years Premier. Frustratingly Michael finished second three years in a row! In 1968 the Challengers was won by Danny Wright, in 1969 by Martyn Corden and in 1970 by Peter Markland. Finally, in 1971 his patience was rewarded and he won the Challengers and qualified to the following years Premier.

The 47th Hastings Premier of 1971-72 had been changed from the traditional 10 player all-play-all to a 16 player tournament. Also, having obtained sponsorship from various organisations the committee were able to invite some of the top names of the day. The sponsors were:

  • Jim Slater
  • The Friends of Chess
  • The British Chess Federation
  • Bovis Holdings Ltd
  • Hastings County Borough Council

So, the entry included Karpov, Korchnoi, Andersson, Najdorf, Mecking, Gligoric, Unzicker and Robert Byrne to name but a few. This was undoubtedly the strongest Hastings Premier since World War Two and possibly the strongest Hastings Tournament since 1895.

Michael started well with a draw against the Rumanian GM Ciocaltea followed by a draw in with the Brazilian prodigy Mecking. In round three he surprised everyone by beating Ray Keene. With 2/3 things were looking promising. However, after this bright start Michael only managed a draw against Unzicker and a draw with Hartston finishing in a disappointing last place with a score of 3/15.

In the tournament report Peter Clarke opined

Franklin suffered the usual fate of the gifted amateur in a professional field of simply not being accustomed to this kind of chess.

Despite this Michael continued to play in the Hastings Challengers. He played in nineteen out of the next twenty-five years! He came close to winning the tournament in 1982: he was leading the tournament with a score of 7/8 when he was informed that Jean’s Father had passed away. Having drawn his ninth round game and needing only a draw in the last round to ensure at least a tie for first place he withdrew from the tournament and immediately left for home.

The Weekend Scene

Like all players with a full time job Michael had to play most of his chess at the weekend so the explosion of weekends tournaments in the early 1970’s gave him ample opportunities. His habit of playing quickly was ideally suited to the fast time limits of the weekend tournament. During the 1970 and 1980’s he was very successful. He won numerous events and was more often than not in the prize list.

FM Michael Franklin, Photo by Cathy Rogers
FM Michael Franklin, Photo by Cathy Rogers

In later years he restricted himself to London based tournaments and those in the West Country. His regular tournaments being Exeter, Torquay and old favourite, Frome. Michael at the age of 78 shared first place at Frome 2009. Frome 2010 was his farewell appearance.

FM Michael Franklin
FM Michael Franklin

Michael played for a number of clubs viz : Richmond & Twickenham, Coulsdon CF, Surrey CCA, 4NCL Richmond, 4NCL Bristol and Richards Butler to name but a few.

Finally, in 1980,  Michael was awarded the FIDE Master title and achieved his highest rating (in the Elo era) of 2345 in January 1979. It is most likely that his highest ever rating would have been more like 2450.

FM Michael Franklin vs Paul Helbig
FM Michael Franklin vs Paul Helbig

Appropriately enough Michael was the inaugural winner of the BCF/ECF Senior Prix in 2000 and won it again in 2002 and 2003. The event last ran in 2006.

When Surrey won the counties championship a few years back the team took the trophy around to Michael’s home in Norbury, such was their regard for his contributions.

The London System

Any currently active club player cannot have missed the explosive rise to prominence of the system for White he developed :

The London System and Accelerated London System has acquired a huge cohort of followers in recent times probably not realising the debt they (and many authors, book and DVD publishers!) owe to Michael. If only he could have earnt a royalty every time it was played!

Also Michael had notable success as Black with the O’Kelly Sicilian 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6.

Life Outside of Chess

Michael had many interests apart from Chess. He was for many years a member of the Surrey County Cricket Club. After he retired he would arrange to meet fellow Surrey Member Frank Parr at the Oval and after lunch in the Pavilion they would spend the day enjoying the Cricket. Tennis was another sport that Michael followed. Michael was also interested in horseracing. Several players were surprised when visiting one of the racetracks around London to find Michael also attending the race meeting.

Michael was the typical “natural” player. He never studied the game and his only sources of opening information were the British Chess Magazine and the chess columns in The Times and the Guardian. He never kept the scores of his games. Once the game was finished it was time to move on. One of Michael’s greatest strengths was his optimistic attitude at the chessboard. No matter how bad the position he was confident of ultimate success.

Michael Franklin receives £220 from Councillor Robert Dickson at the 1980 Nottinghamshire Congress
Michael Franklin receives £220 from Councillor Robert Dickson at the 1980 Nottinghamshire Congress
Caption for above photograph
Caption for above photograph
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