Category Archives: 4NCL

Happy Birthday GM Daniel Fernandez (05-iii-1995)

IM Daniel Fernandez at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
IM Daniel Fernandez at the 2014 British Championships in Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to GM Daniel Fernandez who at 26 is currently England’s youngest Grandmaster. The previous GM title holder was Jonathan Hawkins in 2014 making two in seven years.

Daniel Howard Fernandez was born in Stockport, Manchester on Sunday, March 5th 1995.  “Think Twice” by Celine Dion was top of the UK hit parade.

Daniel started playing chess at the age of seven (after his father taught him the rules) and at this time attended King’s School, Harpenden.  His first chess club was Little Heath which became the ECF Small Club of the Year in 2015. They play in the Potter’s Bar area and include IM John Pigott in their membership.

At Little Heath Chess Club Daniel was coached by Mark Uniacke (who worked extensively on the early chess engine HIARCS).

Daniel went up to Queen’s College, Cambridge to read mathematics and left to become a Data Analyst at Mu Sigma Inc. He can speak several languages (including Serbian!) and works as a translator when opportunities arise.

He currently lives in Australia offering coaching and writing chess books (for Thinkers Publishing) and columns for Chessbase. In his spare time (!) Daniel is studying for The Master of Complex Systems degree at The University of Sydney.

Daniel’s first ECF graded game was rapidplay on July 5th 2003 in the SCCU Junior Under-14 Final.

His first standard play game was in August 2003 at the Edinburgh based British Under-8 Championship.

Daniel Fernandez
Daniel Fernandez

Daniels ECF grading profile demonstrated rapid improvement :

ECF grading profile for Daniel Fernandez
ECF grading profile for Daniel Fernandez

On August 13th 2004 in Scarborough Daniel became British Under-9 Champion sharing the title with Daniel Hunt & Saravanan Sathyanandha.

The Fernandez family relocated to Singapore in August, Daniel attending the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore. He was swiftly recruited into the Singapore Chess Federation’s (SCF) National Junior Squad. Also in that squad were Danielle Ho and Howard Chiu (remember this for later!).

Barely three weeks after his Scarborough triumph on September 4th 2004 Daniel played his first FIDE rated game in the 5th Asian Under-10 Championship organised by the ASEAN Chess Confederation. His performance in this event was rewarded with a FIDE Master title in 2005. Because he was no longer active in English events the ECF had the unusual scenario of having a ten year old FIDE Master with a published grade of ~120!

In typically modest fashion Daniel confesses  that he did not “deserve” the FM title at this time and that it was the consequence of the strong position of the ASEAN and SCF organisations  within world chess. At the same event Wesley So gained his FM title in the Under-12 section.

FM Daniel Fernandez
FM Daniel Fernandez

Another interesting consequence of the relocation was that when Daniel returned to England in 2012 his last published grading went from ~ 120 to ~230!

One of the motivations of  returning to England was to obtain the necessary entrance requirement to study mathematics at Cambridge. This he did by studying for A-levels at Manchester Grammar School.

Daniel with IM Jovan Petronic during the 2010 world juniors in Chotowa, Poland | Photo: Diana Mihajlova
Daniel with IM Jovan Petronic during the 2010 world juniors in Chotowa, Poland | Photo: Diana Mihajlova

Consequently Daniel’s FIDE rating profile also showed a fast pace of development:

FIDE rating profile for Daniel Fernandez
FIDE rating profile for Daniel Fernandez

Sydney 2009 and Sydney 2010 both provided IM norms with the third one coming from Kuala Lumpar 2010 and with these Daniel became an International Master in 2010 the title being confirmed at the 3rd quarter Presidential Board Meeting 2010, 24-25 July 2010, Tromso in Norway.

IM Daniel Fernandez, 100th British Championships, Round 5, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Daniel Fernandez, 100th British Championships, Round 5, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

He won the Budapest Sarkany Tournament in 2014 as follows:

Full Crosstable from Budapest Sarkany Tournament, 2014.
Full Crosstable from Budapest Sarkany Tournament, 2014.

earning his first GM norm in the process.

IM Daniel Fernandez, 101st British Championships, Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Daniel Fernandez, 101st British Championships, Aberystwyth. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

BCN asked Daniel for three of his favourite games. The first one is this Polish Defence game from 2015 played at the Visma Arena in Vaxjo, Sweden. First we have the crosstable showing that Daniel earnt his second GM norm from this event.

Full Crosstable for Vaxjo, Visma tournament in Sweden, 2015.
Full Crosstable for Vaxjo, Visma tournament in Sweden, 2015.

and here is the game:

and during the 2015/15 4NCL season Daniel obtained his final GM norm playing for Wood Green.

In March 2015 he made his first of three Varsity match appearences for Cambridge re-uniting with Danielle Ho and Howard Chiu (remember those names from earlier?).

Daniel won the 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial in 2017:

Full Crosstable from the 2017 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial
Full Crosstable from the 2017 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial

and also in 2017 Daniel was awarded the Grandmaster title at the 88th FIDE Congress 2017, 7-15 October, Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey.

On March 11th Daniel represented Cambridge in the 135th Varsity Match at the RAC Club in Pall Mall.  According to chess24.com ‘IM Daniel Fernandez, playing board 2 for Cambridge, was awarded the Brilliancy Prize by GM Ray Keene in consultation with McShane and Speelman, for his “high-class swindle” after recovering from a bad blunder.’ See here for details.

GM Daniel Fernandez, 2019 British Championships, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Daniel Fernandez, 2019 British Championships, Torquay. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

In 2018 Daniel ventured into the world of book writing when Thinker’s Publishing released The Modernized Caro-Kann on September 8th 2018.  This was a repertoire book for Black based around the Smyslov Variation :

and was reviewed in this place favourably and quickly established Daniel as a significant author.

The Modernized Caro-Kann, Daniel Fernandez, Thinkers Publishing, 2018
The Modernized Caro-Kann, Daniel Fernandez, Thinkers Publishing, 2018

From the rear cover we have:

“GM Daniel Fernandez (born 1995) has been an active and accomplished player for several years. He represented his native Singapore twice at Olympiads (2010 and 2012) before transferring to the English chess federation. There, he won the national classical titles at U-18 and U-21 levels and worked to become a Grandmaster while simultaneously studying at Cambridge. The Caro-Kann was instrumental in his quest for that title. Currently, Daniel is known in the chess scene not only as a solid player, but also as a mentor figure to younger English players, as a producer of well-received commentary and analysis, and as a multilingual chess coach. This is his first book.”

From January 2019 we have this interesting encounter between Gawain Jones and Daniel from the annual 4NCL meeting of Guildford and Wood Green:

With the White pieces Daniel has played  a wide range of first moves but the majority move by far is 1.e4. His choice versus the Najdorf is some eclectic : sometime ago 6. Rg1 was the favourite and now 6.a4 is preferred.

Against 1…e5 Daniel offers a main line Ruy Lopez.

What does a Caro-Kann expert play against the Caro-Kann? Nowadays the Two Knights Variation is employed!

As the second player he plays the Sicilian Najdorf as well as the Caro-Kann plus an equal mixture of the Grünfeld and King’s Indian Defences.

In 2019 Daniel was interviewed by Edwin Lam on behalf of ChessBase : fascinating reading!

In the same year Daniel joined IM Adam Taylor’s venture Making Grandmasters.

Our final games is from July 2019 :

Daniel’s most recent publication is The Modernized Modern Defence from Thinker’s Publishing:

The Modernized Modern Defence, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker's Publishing, 2021
The Modernized Modern Defence, Daniel Fernandez, Thinker’s Publishing, 2021

and BCN has been told that Daniel has a book in the pipeline about the Tata Steel 2021 tournament at Wijk aan Zee.

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

IM Ravi Haria, 2019 British Championships, Torquay
IM Ravi Haria, 2019 British Championships, Torquay

BCN sends birthday wishes to IM 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 Lonsdale 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.

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

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 we hope will be followed by at least Volume 2! A review will appear in this place in due course.

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 take up 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 this  brevity :

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

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Best Wishes IM Richard Bates (27-i-1979)

IM Richard Bates
IM Richard Bates

Best Birthday wishes to IM Richard Adam Bates born on this day (January 27th) in 1979.

Richard has won the Southern Counties (SCCU) championship in the 2015-16, 2016-17 (with Nick Pert) and 2017-18 seasons.

IM Richard Adam Bates
IM Richard Adam Bates

Richard Bates
Richard Bates
IM Richard Bates
IM Richard Bates
Sheen Mount Under Eleven Chess Champion Richard Bates and Robin Laisby enjoying a game during time out from the Teachers Assurance National Primary Schools Chess Championships. Malaysian Elephant Leyang Leyang and her keeper Duncan McGinnie help them not to forget their chess moves.
Sheen Mount Under Eleven Chess Champion Richard Bates and Robin Laisby enjoying a game during time out from the Teachers Assurance National Primary Schools Chess Championships. Malaysian Elephant Leyang Leyang and her keeper Duncan McGinnie help them not to forget their chess moves.
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Best Wishes IM Adam C Taylor (23-i-1998)

IM Adam C Taylor at the 2019 Keith Richardson Memorial. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.
IM Adam C Taylor at the 2019 Keith Richardson Memorial. Courtesy of John Upham Photography.

We send best wishes to IM Adam C Taylor on his birthday.

Adam Christopher Taylor was born on Friday, January 23rd, 1998 in Colchester, Essex. Adam has a sister, Nathalie Leanne Taylor who also plays and studied History & Economics at The University of York. His mother Deborah was always supportive during his chess career.

He attended The Gilberd School, Colchester until 2014 and then Colchester Sixth Form College and currently resides in Colchester.

ECF grading profile for IM Adam C Taylor
ECF grading profile for IM Adam C Taylor

Adam’s first recorded rapidplay event was the Basildon Junior Congress resulting in a published grade of 34D and his first graded standard play event was the 2009 London Junior Under-12 Championships and his first published standard-play grading was 73E.

In that same year at Torquay Adam won the British Under-12 title sharing with Radha Jain.

Adam C Taylor at the 2013 UK Chess Challenge Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Adam C Taylor at the 2013 UK Chess Challenge Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Adam made his first 4NCL appearance in May 2012 for SC Stars followed by Anglian Avengers. In 2018 the lure of the big lights of Division One beckoned and Wood Green became Adam’s team now playing for Wood Green Monarchs in the Online 4NCL championship.

In 2017 Adam scored an impressive 6/9 (and =2nd) when he travelled to Greece to play in the Heraklion 1st Capablanca Memorial.

The Hastings Open in 2018 saw an excellent =7th with 6.5/10.

Adam’s IM title was ratified in June of 2019 in Baku and currently (January 2021) holds a FIDE standard play rating of 2347 and an ECF standard play rating of 2260A. His highest ECF standard play grading was 230A in July 2019. We expect this to be exceeded once OTB play resumes.

Battersea Chess Club celebrated Adams’s title in style with this article written by Leon Watson

FIDE rating profile for IM Adam C Taylor from MegaBase 2020.
FIDE rating profile for IM Adam C Taylor from MegaBase 2020.

Adam has played for Bury St. Edmunds and Manningtree and now Battersea in the London League and Wood Green in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) and has made many appearances in the UKCC Terafinal.

Adam is known as Tayip99 on chess.com and as AdamTaylor2301 on LiChess.com and regularly streams on Twitch and other platforms.

Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

On the 13th of September 2019 Adam became the sole director of MakingGrandmasters Limited which lists on its web site a number of leading young English players engaging in coaching such as Matthew Wadsworth, Ravi Haria and Daniel Fernandez to name but a few.

One of Adam’s more notable students is Guildford Chess Club member Jessica Mellor who, in 2018, won Gold in the Under-11 category of the European Schools Championship.

With the white pieces Adam favours a Reti/English set-up where c4 quickly follows a king side fianchetto. Here is a typical game of Adam’s with the white against a strong opponent :

With the black pieces Adam essays the Berlin Defence and the Sicilian Najdorf as well as the Benko Gambit and Nimzo-Indian Defence.

IM Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
IM Adam C Taylor, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
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Happy Birthday IM Paul Littlewood (18-i-1956)

IM Paul Littlewood. Source : British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983.
IM Paul Littlewood. Source : British Chess, Pergamon Press, 1983.

BCN wishes Happy Birthday to Paul Littlewood

Paul Edwin Littlewood was born on Wednesday, January 18th, 1956 in Skegness, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire. His parents were John and Jean Littlewood (née) Hadwick. Paul’s chess playing uncle was Norman Littlewood.

John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John and Paul on Skegness beach circa 1958. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood. George and Ringo are out of shot !
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.
John, Jenny and Paul Littlewood, circa 1962. Kindly supplied by Paul Littlewood.

Paul attended Glenburn Comprehensive School in Skelmersdale from 1967 and then read Natural Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1974.

Paul played badminton for Lancashire and Cambridge and, in 1971, won the English Schools Mixed Championship when he was 15 years old.

Paul and family receive a chess lesson from John following John's win in the 1972 Southport Open
Paul and family receive a chess lesson from John following John’s win in the 1972 Southport Open

On leaving University Paul taught science at Southbrook Comprehensive, Daventry. Four years later Paul became a dealer at Phillips & Drew and followed this as an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs. Stays at Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan were followed by a change of direction and since then Paul has been director of various food supply companies retiring in 2014.

Paul is married (3rd November 2006) to (his second wife) Fiona and lives in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

PEL won the ECF President’s Award in 2007 and from the 2008 ECF Yearbook we have the following citation :

“International Master and accomplished bridge player. From British Chess champion (1981) Paul has presided over the 4NCL as chairman during its most successful period. When he became chairman over ten years ago the league consisted of two divisions and 32 teams. The league has now expanded to four divisions and a total of 72 teams. Most of England’s juniors play 4NCL. During this time 4NCL became one of the strongest leagues in Europe, at one time boasting a Division 1 rivalling the Bundesliga in strength in the top matches.

Paul has demonstrated the sound judgement of Solomon when dealing with league disputes and has drawn on his business acumen, honed during a successful career in the City with Goldman Sachs to make 4NCL the financially stable and expanding league it is today.”

Roll of Honour

  • British U18 Champion 1972
  • British U21 Champion 1975
  • British Champion 1981
  • As a junior represented England in Glorney Cup
  • International Master 1980

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy. Rice and Richardson we have this article from Richard W. O’Brien :

“Paul Littlewood was destined to become a strong player from birth. His father John was for some time one of the strongest players in the country and represented England on many occasions. His uncle Norman was for a few years not far behind. Paul, however, has surpassed them both and has become the first in the family to reach IM status. (Ed: JEL was very much worthy of the IM title but insufficient events of the right type held him back).

A. Howard Williams, Martyn J. Corden, Paul E. Littlewood and A. Jonathan Mestel
A. Howard Williams, Martyn J. Corden, Paul E. Littlewood and A. Jonathan Mestel

All three are essentially attacking players. There have been times in recent years when play at the Hastings Premier has become dull. However, Paul one of the English representatives at the last three tournaments, was certainly not to blame. (His game against Brito of Brazil which follows is a striking example of this).”

Coached by his father, Paul became British U18 champion in 1972 and three years later became British U21 champion.

Clearly more interested in an academic career he went up to Cambridge and then followed his father into the teaching profession. Opportunities to play in strong tournaments were thus very limited. These opportunities, however, were grasped in both hands. Three times in thirteen months between August 1978 and August 1979 he obtained an IM norm and thus the title.

Partial crosstable for the Lloyds Bank Open, 1978
Partial crosstable for the Lloyds Bank Open, 1978

The first caused a sensation as it was totally unexpected. He shared first place at Lloyds Bank ahead of several grandmasters including Shamkovich, who was the first grandmaster he ever defeated.

Leonid Shamkovich plays Paul Littlewood during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters. Paul won the game.
Leonid Shamkovich plays Paul Littlewood during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters. Paul won the game.

Eight months later Aaronson Masters was won and then came the final norm, also at Lloyds Bank.

Tournaments abroad were limited although he represented England students. He did play at Kringsja (2nd equal) in 1978 and Borovo where he scored 6.5.13 finishing ahead of 3 GMs.

In 1981 came his finest achievement – winning the British Championship with a massive 9/11.

Partial crosstable from the 1981 British Championship in Morecambe
Partial crosstable from the 1981 British Championship in Morecambe

His father who was also competing in the championship was as proud as could be and deservedly so (he also coached Sheila Jackson who retained her British Ladies Championship that year). His excellent all round play took him to the title and only once during the tournament did he stand worse. His endgame play was so good that CHESS even published an article solely on these endings.

Paul Littlewood and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters
Paul Littlewood and friends during the 1978 Lloyds Bank Masters

Duties at school in Daventry meant he was, in February 1982, unable to take part in the zonal at Marbella. This followed an excellent Hastings when as British Champion he made a plus score – a rare event indeed.

IM Paul Littlewood during filming for the "Trick of the Mind" series from Derren Brown
IM Paul Littlewood during filming for the “Trick of the Mind” series from Derren Brown

In the summer he gave up teaching and joined Phillips & Drew (stockbrokers). He now (ed : this was in 1983) lives with his (first) wife Sue and family in the wilds of Essex (Billericay).

IM Paul Littlewood, event and photographer unknown
IM Paul Littlewood, event and photographer unknown

Paul gives a simultaneous display in Letchworth.

Chess Tactics, Paul Littlewood, Crowood Chess Library, 1991
Chess Tactics, Paul Littlewood, Crowood Chess Library, 1991

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Happy Birthday FM Jonah Willow (30-xii-2002)

FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Happy Birthday FM Jonah Willow

Jonah B Willow was born in Nottingham on Monday, December 30th 2002. Jacob was the most popular boy’s name in 2002. “Lose Yourself” by Eminem was number one.

Jonah has a chess playing sister, Hambel, who plays for Newcastle-under-Lyme, West Nottingham, Staffordshire CA and Nottinghamshire CA.

Jonah’s first recorded graded standard play tournament was the 2010 Delancey UK Chess Challenge Terafinal and his first recorded rapidplay event was the Nottingham Rapidplay in 2011.

Jonah Willow at the 2012 UKK Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Jonah Willow at the 2012 UKK Terafinal. Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Jonah’s first published standard play grade was 96D in January of 2012 :

Jonah's ECF grading progress
Jonah’s ECF grading progress

Jonah has represented West Nottingham, 4NCL Wood Green, Nottinghamshire CA and Syston (Leicester).

FIDE rating profile for FM Jonah B Willow from Megabase 2020
FIDE rating profile for FM Jonah B Willow from Megabase 2020

It is a little curious as to the reason for the rating profile to halt at the end of 2018 since Jonah has played plenty of FIDE rated games since. Compare the above with :

FIDE rating for FM Jonah Willow from fide.com
FIDE rating for FM Jonah Willow from fide.com

Jonah has plus scores against : Mike Surtees, Peter Svidler (!), Richard Pert, Peter Shaw, Ranesh Ratnesan, Shreyas Royal, Keith Arkell and Ameet Ghasi to name but a few.

With the white pieces Jonah is a committed 1.e4 player but he has scored 83% with 1.Nc3!

Jonah plays the unusual Chekhover Variation (4.Qxd4) in the 2…d6 Sicilian : this is an interesting alternative and is discussed by GM Ben Finegold :

and

GM Varuzhan Akobian :

Jonah plays the Four Knights game with white.

As the second player he plays the Accelerated Dragon and the Modern Benoni.

He has his own Twitch TV channel.

On chess.com he is JonahWillow and his highest chess.com rating has been 2863 on April 5th 2020.

FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
FM Jonah Willow, UKCC Terafinal 2018, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
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Best Wishes IM David Eggleston (22-xii-1987)

IM David Eggleston
IM David Eggleston

Best Wishes to IM David Eggleston on his birthday.

David James Eggleston was born on Tuesday, December 22nd 1987 in Sunderland, County Durham to Ian and Janet Eggleston (née Robson). David has a brother, Thomas A, also born in 1987 who plays chess to a high standard (2178 in 2020). Thomas also plays for Durham City and for 4NCL North East England.

There is one game in Megabase between the brothers from round 5 of the Durham Open in 2003 which resulted in a 13 move draw. They shared the 1st prize with 4/5.

David currently resides in Durham and plays for Durham City in the North East League and for Cheddleton in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).

David became a FIDE Master in 2007 and an International Master in 2013.

According to ChessBase David’s peak FIDE rating was 2434 aged 26 in December 2013. However, this could easily be surpassed.

He has a plus score against Keith Arkell, James Jackson, Peter Sowray and Chris Ward to name but a few.

IM David James Eggleston
IM David James Eggleston

With the white pieces David is a staunch e4 player playing open Sicilians, the Italian Game and 3.Nc3 versus the French and the Caro-Kann.

As the second player David plays the Najdorf and the Nimzo-Indian Defence.

David has one book, published in July 2014 : Hacking up the King published by Mongoose Press :

Hacking Up The King
Hacking Up The King
IM David James Eggleston
IM David James Eggleston
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Best Wishes GM Dr. Jonathan Mestel (13-iii-1957)

GM Jonathan Mestel at a Winton Capital BCPS event at Eton College, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Jonathan Mestel at a Winton Capital BCPS event at Eton College, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Best wishes to GM Dr. Jonathan Mestel on his birthday

Early Years

A(ndrew) Jonathan Mestel was born in Cambridge on Wednesday, March 13th 1957. On this day the Presidential Palace in Havana was attacked with the object of killing Fulgencio Batista, the incumbent President.

Jonathan’s parents were Leon and Sylvia Louise Mestel (née Cole) who were married in 1951. Leon was a world-class astronomer and astrophysicist whose PhD supervisor was Fred Hoyle. Jonathan has a brother Ben and sisters Rosie and Leo.

Growing Up

Living in Cambridge he attended Newnham Croft Primary School and at the age six was taught chess by his father Leon. By the age of seven Jonathan was matching his father and not long afterwards he was beating him consistently. East Cheshire Chess Club was his first club and therefore the opportunity to play adults other than his father.

MGS and Beards

The Mestel family moved to Manchester in around 1967 and Jonathan attended Manchester Grammar School along with chess players Emmanuel Rayner and Ian Watson. Famously he grew a substantial beard and moustache and apparently “they (MGS) disapproved of it” resulting in a ban until the beard was removed. Jonathan duly obliged and returned to school but was sent home once more since he had retained the moustache: “They did not mention the moustache!” we are told. A further ban was resolved when the offending item was also removed.

Mathematics

Jonathan obtained a PhD in mathematics from Trinity College, Cambridge and the associated thesis was entitled “Magnetic Levitation of Liquid Metals”.

Jonathan is Professor of Applied Mathematics at Imperial College London. As well as teaching, his research interests include magnetohydrodynamics and biological fluid dynamics.

Marriage

In the third quarter of 1982 Jonathan married Anna O’Donovan in Cambridge and they soon settled in the central Cambridge area where they remain to this day. They have a son, David.

Bridge

Jonathan has represented England at bridge joining a group of English players such as Peter Lee and John Cox who also represented their country at bridge. Paul Littlewood, Paul Lamford and Natasha Regan are amongst many others who have combined bridge and chess to a high level . Here is Jonathan’s English Bridge Union page. He remains highly ranked in the bridge world to this day.

Jonathan noted:

I should mention that all my hair fell out for no obvious nor serious reason – neither my bidding nor partner’s dummies are responsible. Few would argue with that last statement.

Serious Chess & Prize Money

His earliest recorded appearance in chess databases is from the Rhyl based British Under-14 championship in 1969 where he beat DA Winter. The eventual winner of that event was  Jonathan Speelman. Jonathan M. recounts that he shared 3rd place with two others and that the prize allotted to the three of them was a whopping £2 10s to be divided equally. This amounted to 16s 8p each. Since the entry fee was 15s it meant he had cleared a notable profit of 1s and 8 pence!

The following year all British Championships competitors were sent to Coventry and Jonathan and Jonathan shared the Under-16 title whilst Bob Wade won the main event with 8/11.

1971 was no less successful and Jonathan travelled to the location of England’s Eiffel Tower (Blackpool) returning home with the British Under-18 title. Jonathan mentioned that he should have entered the Under-21 event instead.

Jonathan Mestel during the 1972-73 Hastings Premier. Source : BCM, page 56.
Jonathan Mestel during the 1972-73 Hastings Premier. Source : BCM, 1973, page 56.

First British Championship

Brighton 1972 was Jonathan’s first appearance in the “main event” having  broken the record for the youngest qualifier. This record was later broken by Richard Webb and then by Nigel Short. His final score was a creditable 6.5/11 giving him =5th overall aged 15 years and seven months. In 1972 this was an incredible achievement. Regrettably, these days achievements such as this appear to pass unreported.

At Eastbourne 1973 he was =7th with possibly the best hair cut of anyone:

English chess player and mathematician Jonathan Mestel during the British Chess Championships at Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK, 14th August 1973. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
English chess player and mathematician Jonathan Mestel during the British Chess Championships at Eastbourne, East Sussex, UK, 14th August 1973. (Photo by Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

International Events

1974 was a breakthrough year internationally as Jonathan won the (unofficial) World Cadet Championship in Pont Sainte Maxence in southern France. The following year IM David Goodman followed up by winning the same title.

Partial Crosstable for the 1974 (unofficial) World Cadet Championship.
Partial Crosstable for the 1974 (unofficial) World Cadet Championship.

Interestingly travel arrangements for the above event were not so smooth as was the crossing of the English Channel. The hovercraft broke down; Jonathan arrived much later than anticipated and unable to find civilised accommodation leading to an Orwellian style “Down and Out in Paris” sleeping arrangement in a Paris gutter.

At Clacton 1974 Jonathan was one of seven who finished on 7/11, the title going to George Botterill after an all-play-all play-off in Wales.

1975 started well with a bronze medal in Tjentiste (former Yugoslavia now Bosnia Herzegovina) for the World Junior Championship (happening at the same as the British in Morecambe preventing a 1975 British Championship appearance).

Partial Crosstable for the 1975 World Junior Championship in Tjentiste
Partial Crosstable for the 1975 World Junior Championship in Tjentiste

First IM Norm

1976 brought further success at Portland School, Edgbaston with a first place scoring 8/10 and an IM norm in the Birmingham International tournament:

Full Crosstable for the 1976 Birmingham International
Full Crosstable for the 1976 Birmingham International

and here is a sparkling game from the 1976 Robert Silk Fellowship Tournament:

British Champion

Jonathan followed this at the Portsmouth 1976 British Championships with a splendid outright first place with 9.5/11 , the highest score since Malik Mir Sultan Khan in 1933. Also, nine consecutive wins from the starting gun  was most definitely a record!

British chess player and mathematician Jonathan Mestel, August 1976. (Photo by Fresco/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
British chess player and mathematician Jonathan Mestel, August 1976. (Photo by Fresco/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Leonard Barden assessed Mestel’s performance this in the Guardian:

“Jonathan Mestel’s reaction at Portsmouth to become British Champion at age 19, the youngest ever, and with a record series of nine wins, was characteristically low-key. He declined an interview with BBC’s World at One in favour of a continued sojourn on the beach, declined an invitation to the Chorley Congress (where the inducements for him to play were rumoured to include a chauffeured Rolls-Royce from station to town hall, and where the points might well have enabled him to overhaul the leader in the £1,000 Cutty Sark Grand Prix) in favour of a holiday in France, and even ‘declined’ the chance of a record total in the final round when he gifted a pawn in the opening to Whiteley in simple fashion”

Barden went on to praise Mestel as, along with Miles, one of the two young players ‘with genuine promise of ultimately reaching the world super-class.’

1977 led to the International Master title and in 1982 the Grandmaster title. In reality, the GM title should  have been awarded two years earlier from Esberg 1979 but more on this FIDE blunder later.

In the 1979 Dataday Chess Diary Harry Golombek OBE wrote this:

“I wrote in last years diary that I doubted whether Jonathan would ever change his variability, adding ‘Probably there will always recur this rise to the heights and fall to lower levels.’

To some extent this is still true. But his play in 1977 and 1978 has shown a greater firmness of purpose and revealed more powers of endurance and stamina than I had realised he possessed earlier on. Thus, for instance, in the last round of the European Team Championship finals at Moscow in 1977, playing the black pieces against the West German master Kestler, he was the last to finish and he defeated his opponent after nearly 12 hours play and some 105 moves.

At the Praxis British Zonal in February 1987 here at the roman baths. Murray Chandler, Jonathan Speelman, and Jonathan Mestel
At the Praxis British Zonal in February 1987 here at the roman baths. Murray Chandler, Jonathan Speelman, and Jonathan Mestel

He is one of our players who is nearing the grandmaster title, both in play and, as it were, in figures. At the Lord John Cup Tournament in London, September 1977, he obtained the g.m. norm by coming equal 2nd with Quinteros and Stean below Hort. He did this with a score of 6 when 5.5 would have been sufficient for the norm.

Full crosstable from the Lord John Cup 1977
Full crosstable from the Lord John Cup 1977

To my mind he is the ideal tournament competitor since he can always be relied upon to delight the onlooker with some fresh and original piece of chess. It is this talent which makes me think there is practically no limit to the heights he may attain as a player.

England plays Italy at Haifa 1976. Miles played Tatai, Keene played Toth, Hartston played Grinza and Mestel played Micheli
England plays Italy at Haifa 1976. Miles played Tatai, Keene played Toth, Hartston played Grinza and Mestel played Micheli

In the following game, played at the European Team Championships at Moscow 1977, Mestel gives signs of a new and mature sureness of purpose, whilst retaining all his incisive and ambitious qualities.

Beating the Russians

In 1978 Jonathan was part of the English team of Mestel, Speelman Taulbut, Goodman and Jonathan Kinlay that travelled to Mexico and won  the World Under-26 Student Team Championships. This was a huge achievement as beating the USSR in a chess team event simply did not happen. It is not clear even that the Russian team were all bona fide students: some looking decidedly unstudent like!

(from l-r) Jonathan Kinlay, Shaun Taulbut, Jonathan Speelman, David Goodman and Jonathan Mestel accepting 1st prize at the 1978 World U26 Student Olympiad in Mexico City
(from l-r) Jonathan Kinlay, Shaun Taulbut, Jonathan Speelman, David Goodman and Jonathan Mestel accepting 1st prize at the 1978 World U26 Student Olympiad in Mexico City

The splendid Aztec calendar trophy you can see Jonathan clutching above was taken back to England and generously donated to Bob Wade who, in turn, wrote in his will that it should be returned to Jonathan. To this day this wonderful trophy proudly lives with Jonathan and Anna in their house in Cambridge.

When is a Norm not a Norm?

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983), Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson we have this appreciation by George Botterill:

“The tournament at Esbjerg in 1979 was a bitter-sweet experience for Mestel. He won many fine games on the way to sharing first place with the hefty score of 9.5 out of 13.

Full Crosstable for 4th (1979) Esbjerg North Sea Cup
Full Crosstable for 4th (1979) Esbjerg North Sea Cup

But the real prize for which he was competing was the final norm that would have completed his qualification for the title of grandmaster. In the last round a draw would have been sufficient, but it was not day for peaceful negotiation since his adversary was also his nearest rival, Vadasz, who needed to win in order to tie for first place.

The nervous strain of having two aims in sight, first place and the coveted norm, told on Mestel who played rather beneath himself to lose. It was some consolation that the following victory over Finland’s leading player was hailed as the best game of the tournament.”

If the previous game gives you the idea that Mestel is especially skilled in the handling of an attacking phalanx of pawns, just take a look at this contribution to England’s bronze-medal result in the 1980 European Team Championship.

It is nice to be able to conclude that since the above was written Mestel’s chess status has changed and the story of his near miss at Esbjerg in 1979 turns out to have a happy ending. His GM title was ratified by the FIDE Congress at Lucerne 1982*.”

*It transpired that the initial norm calculation in 1979 was incorrect and it should have been awarded after all. Better late than never!

Quite a good day!

Jonathan recounts that on St. George’s Day (April 23rd) 1982 he had an important interview in the morning in Cambridge which went very well followed by round eight of the Phillips and Drew Masters at the GLC in London against Lajos Portisch. Here is that game:

So quite a good day all in all!

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP,  second edition, 1996) by Hooper & Whyld:

“English player, British Champion 1976, 1983 and 1988, World Under-18 Champion 1974, International] Grandmaster (1982). In the 1976 British Championship he made a record by winning 9 successive games. Mestel’s opportunities for master play are infrequent – he is a lecturer at a University; he scored perhaps his best at London 1977 when he was second ( +4=4—1) equal with Quinteros and Stean after Hort, and he has played several times in the English Olympiad team since 1976. Mestel also an outstanding solver of chess problems, has represented his country in world team solving championships, and was awarded the title of International Solving Master in 1986”

Jonathan Mestel flanked by John Nunn and Ray Keene
Jonathan Mestel flanked by John Nunn and Ray Keene

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

“British Master and British Champion 1976, who was born in Cambridge and packed into the three years 1974-6, in the period of time when he grew from seventeen to nineteen, more chess and more success than most people achieve in a long lifetime.

He first made his presence felt in the international field when he won the cadet championship at Pont Sainte–Maxene in France in 1974. This was an unofficial world under-18 championship and he confirmed this good impression by very nearly winning the British Championship in Clacton in the same year. He figured in a seven-way tie for first place but failed to win the play-off for the title.

Jonathan Mestel
Jonathan Mestel

The next he gained his first international master norm at the Birmingham international tournament where he finished equal second with Matera (USA) and Miles (England), a point below Matulovic of Yugoslavia whom he beat in their individual game.

He was little disappointing in the World Junior Championship at Tjentiste in Yugoslavia in 1975 in which he came third below the Russian Chekov and the US player Larry Christiansen. It was thought that, talented though he was, Mestel lacked stability and was too variable in his form to achieve the highest honours.

But the next year, 1976, was to show that was quite a false appreciation of his talents and character. First in April he won and international tournament which, if not as strong a the previous Birmingham, was still touch event to win ahead of the Yugoslav Grandmaster Damjanovic.

Jonathan Mestel
Jonathan Mestel

Then came a most remarkable achievement in the British Championship at Portsmouth where he won his first nine games in succession thereby winning the title and establishing a record for the British Championship with his run of victories.”

A. Howard Williams, Martyn J. Corden, Paul E. Littlewood and A. Jonathan Mestel
A. Howard Williams, Martyn J. Corden, Paul E. Littlewood and A. Jonathan Mestel

Mestel has his own named variation in the Giuoco Piano first played in Mestel-Doyle, Dublin 1975:

Olympiads and Team Events

According to Wikipedia : “Between 1976 and 1988, he was a frequent member of the English Chess Olympiad squad, winning three team medals (two silver and one bronze). In 1984, he earned an individual gold medal for an outstanding (7/9, 78%) performance on his board. Other notable results for English teams occurred in 1978 at the World Student Olympiad in Mexico and at the 1983 European Team Chess Championship in Plovdiv. Both of these events yielded gold-medal winning performances, the latter being exceptional for the highest percentage score (6/7, 85%) on any board. As a player of league chess, he has been a patron of the 4NCL since its earliest days and represented The Gambit ADs in the 2008/9 season.” Jonathan revealed that his most pleasing OTB performance ever was that of Plovdiv.

Solving and Composition

Jonathan has maintained a long time interest in problems and studies, both solving them and composing them.  In 1986 he was awarded the International Master title for solving and in 1997 the International Grandmaster title for solving and in the same year he won the World Chess Solving Championship.

Jonathan Mestel at the 2014 Winton Capital British Solving Championships at Eton College, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
Jonathan Mestel at the 2014 Winton Capital British Solving Championships at Eton College, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

He has represented England in the World Team Solving Championships on many occasions winning in 1986, 1990 (shared with USSR), and then a run of 2005, 2006 and 2007.

The successful 2010 England team in the World Solving Championships of David Friedgood, John Nunn, Jonathan Mestel and Colin McNab
The successful 2010 England team in the World Solving Championships of David Friedgood, John Nunn, Jonathan Mestel and Colin McNab

He has played many times in the Lloyds Bank and (now) Winton Capital sponsored British Solving Championships (quite often located at Eton College, Berkshire). He has won the individual title firstly in 1982-83 and then a further 17 times not to mention many times as runner-up.

Winners of the Lloyds Bank 1987-8 British Solving Championships: (l-r) David Friedgood (runner-up), Sir Jeremy Morse, Jonathan Mestel (winner) and Jonathan Lennox (third-place)
Winners of the Lloyds Bank 1987-8 British Solving Championships: (l-r) David Friedgood (runner-up), Sir Jeremy Morse, Jonathan Mestel (winner) and Jonathan Lennox (third-place)

Here are a few examples:

Firstly a prize winning study…

J. Mestel
1.p Niekarker Kruujebitter Ty (tt), 2006

[FEN “8/4pP1k/5q1p/4p3/ppQpP3/3K1pp1/2P5/6R1 w – – 0 1”]

White to Play
and Draw

SOLUTION

1.Qe6! [1.Qc8? Qxf7] 1…Qxe6 2.f8Q [2.f8N+? Kh8! (2…Kg8? 3.Nxe6 g2 4.Nxd4 exd4 5.Kxd4) 3.Nxe6 g2] 2…f2 [2…Qa6+ 3.Kd2 Qe2+ 4.Kc1 Qe3+ 5.Kb2] 3.Rxg3 f1Q+ [3…Qa6+ 4.Kd2 f1N+ 5.Kc1 Nxg3 6.Qf7+] 4.Qxf1 Qa6+ 5.c4! bxc3+ [5…dxc3+ 6.Ke3! (6.Kc2? b3+!) 6…Qxf1 7.Rg7+ Kh8 8.Rg8+ Kh7 9.Rg7+ Kxg7] 6.Kc2 Qxf1 7.Rg7+ Kh8 8.Rg8+ Kh7 9.Rg7+ Kxg7 ½-½

and another study:

and another:

and

and

and now a problem:

Jonathan Mestel
British Chess Magazine, 2007

#3, 7+6

GM Jonathan Mestel at the 2016 Winton Capital British Solving Championships at Eton College, Courtesy of John Upham Photography
GM Jonathan Mestel at the 2016 Winton Capital British Solving Championships at Eton College, Courtesy of John Upham Photography

Here is his staff page from Imperial College, London

and his personal page may be found here

A.J.Mestel. Not Your Ordinary Grandmaster. by Neil Blackburn (aka Simaginfan).

Here is his Wikipedia entry

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Happy Birthday IM Richard Pert (22-i-1981)

IM Richard Pert
IM Richard Pert

Happy Birthday IM Richard Pert (22-i-1981)

IM Richard Pert
IM Richard Pert

Nick and Richard Pert
Nick and Richard Pert
Nick and Richard Pert
Nick and Richard Pert
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