Category Archives: British Championships

Minor Pieces 29: George Edward Wainwright Part 4

Last time we left George Edward Wainwright at the time of the 1921 census, when, approaching the age of 60, he’d recently retired from his senior post with the now defunct Local Government Board and moved to his wife’s home village of Box, not far from Bath.

Chess in London for him was now over: no more City of London Championships. But, as always, he’d wasted no time in joining his nearest chess club, in the City of Bath.

The first record we have for him there was the previous December where he defeated the celebrated problemist Comins Mansfield on top board in a match against Bristol & Clifton. (Bristol’s Board 10, intriguingly, was  Agnes Augusta Talboys (née Snell), an artist famous for her paintings of Persian cats, sometimes playing chess.)

The 1921 British Championship Congress was held in Malvern, and it was here that George Edward Wainwright scored one of his best results, sharing third place with Reginald Pryce Michell, behind Fred Dewhirst Yates and Sir George Alan Thomas.

Here he is in play against Roland Henry Vaughan Scott.

The Sphere 20 August 1921

Stockfish 14 doesn’t agree that Wainwright should have won this game. Opening up the kingside left his own king the more exposed, and Scott found a rather unusual winning move.

Here’s the game. (Click on any move in any game in this article for a pop-up window.)

He had some luck in a couple of other games. Sir George Thomas, better known as a steady positional player, gave up material but misplayed the attack, erring on move 20.

Michell played a Maroczy Bind against Wainwright’s Sicilian Dragon, gained an overwhelming positional advantage but lost the thread, and, with the draw in hand, allowed transposition into a lost pawn ending.

There was no competition for the British Championship in 1922: the congress itself, in London, featured an international tournament (1st Capablanca, 2nd Alekhine) as its top section. Wainwright didn’t take part but may well have visited as a spectator.

He was back again at Southsea in 1923, where he scored a creditable 6/11 (no draws: remarkably there were only eight drawn games out of 66), finishing in 5th place. Sir George Thomas took the title for the first time, with Yates just behind in second place. Sir George also won the Men’s Singles in the All England Open Badminton Championship in the same year, a feat which will surely never be repeated.

Wainwright was snapped again by The Sphere, this time in a game he won against tournament tail-ender William Gooding. Unfortunately, the moves of this game are unavailable.

The Sphere 25 August 1923

Against the Scottish solicitor William Gibson, he built up a slow kingside attack, concluding with a queen sacrifice.

Wainwright also sacrificed his queen against the Australian Civil Servant Charles Gilbert Steele. (Steele would meet a premature death the following year, falling off a railway station platform in front of an oncoming train.) Despite Stockfish’s double exclamation mark for artistic merit it only turned a winning position (34… Kf8!) into a level position, but he was later able to force resignation by sacrificing one of his rooks.

This time round he beat Roland Scott in a fluctuating game, essaying the English Opening, which was just starting to become popular.

In 1924 a chess festival was held in Weston-Super-Mare, with the participation of future world champion Max Euwe (1st) from the Netherlands, the Paris-based Russian master Eugene Znosko-Borovsky (3rd) and eight English amateurs led by Sir George Thomas (2nd). George Edward Wainwright was invited to take part, but only managed a disappointing 1½/9. He lost his first six games, drawing with Cyril Duffield of Bristol in round 7 and finally managing a win against local player Captain Percivale David Bolland in the final round. (Capt Bolland was a retired and disabled army officer who had served in the Welch Regiment and would later find employment as a Laundry Manager.)

Here’s his final tournament game in which he faced the dashing Max Lange Attack, winning when his opponent blundered on move 34.

Perhaps discouraged by this result, Wainwright decided to retire from tournament chess, although he continued playing club chess until Spring 1926. One of his last games, which I may look at elsewhere, was again against Comins Mansfield, where he lost a winning rook ending two pawns up.

In January 1933 his friend Charles Dealtry Locock (another important but forgotten figure in British chess who deserves a Minor Piece or two) wrote about him in a memoir in the British Chess Magazine.

In 1881 I went to the University College, Oxford, and finding that the hon. secretary of the ‘Varsity Chess Club was at that college I at once left a card on him. A few hours later came a knock on my door, and entered a man, one year my senior, with a round bespectacled face, who announced himself as G. E. Wainwright. We did not guess then what hundreds of games we should play together, nor how often the rosy-fingered Dawn would surprise us still playing. On this occasion we had a trial game and Wainwright defeated me with a King’s Gambit.

George Edward Wainwright died on 31 August that year at the age of 71, his death being registered in Keynsham, near Bristol, a place a whole generation grew up knowing how to spell.

Another friend – and opponent in City of London Championships, Philip Walsingham Sergeant (Edward Guthlac’s second cousin and notable chronicler of British chess) wrote an obituary for the October 1933 issue of British Chess Magazine.

Though he had dropped out of chess for some years – practically since he retired from Government service and went to live at Box, Wiltshire – the death of G. E. Wainwright came as a painful shock to his very numerous friends of the past, to whom his bright and mercurial temperament was still a pleasant memory. His achievements at chess are also still vivid in the mind though not, of all, since many of them go back well into the past.

Born in Yorkshire on November 2, 1861, G. E. Wainwright went up to University College, Oxford, in 1880, and in the Michaelmas Term of the following year he was hon. secretary of the O.U.Ch.C. (see an article by his friend C. D. Locock in our January number of the present year), while in 1882 he became president. He played five times for Oxford, a record which he shared with Locock, W. M. Gattie, the Rev. E. H. Kinder, and R. W. (later Sir Richard) Barnett; for in those days there was no such limitation as there is to-day with regard to playing for one’s University. He was 6th board in 1881 and 2nd board in 1882-5, scoring in all 4 wins, 2 draws, and one loss. After leaving Oxford he quickly made his mark in metropolitan chess, indeed in English chess generally. In 1889 he won the Newnes Challenge Cup, which was equivalent to the Amateur Championship. In later days he competed in the B.C.F. tournaments for the British Championship in 1905 (when he was 6th), 1906 (equal 3rd), 1907 (eq. 2nd), 1909 (eq. 6th), 1910 (eq. 4th), 1920 (8th), 1921 (eq. 3rd), and 1923 (5th).

At the City of London Chess Club he was always to the fore, and won the championship twice, in 1907 and, after a triple tie, in 1918.

He played in the Anglo-American cable matches five times, in 1899, 1907, 1908, 1909, and 1910, his highest board being 4th in 1909.

Wainwright will be vividly remembered by all his opponents of old for his remarkably rapid play. Yet the present writer remembers one occasion on which Wainwright took three-quarters of an hour over a single move against him – duly apologising afterwards, though the position was exceedingly difficult. Three-quarters of an hour over a whole game was more like his usual style! He was a great springer of ‘wild-cats’ on his adversaries; and his attacks, even when unsound, were very difficult to meet, inspired as they were by a strong personality, very rapid sight of the board, and a healthy confidence. In addition, he had studied the game deeply, beginning in his University days, if not sooner.

George Edward Wainwright was an important, but mostly forgotten figure in English chess, of master standard at his best, with a highly attractive style of play. Apart from this obituary, there’s little about what he was like as a person, but his vivacious attacks and speed of play were often mentioned. It’s clear he was a lifelong chess addict, and if Sergeant’s obituary is anything to go by, a splendid chap as well. We can certainly see traits of loyalty – to his career-long job in the Local Government Service, and to his family, from caring for his elderly mother to retiring to his wife’s home village.

It remains to look at what happened to his children.

From a family tree on ancestry.co.uk

George Edward junior was, as we’ve already seen, also a chess player, but at a lower level, and, like his father worked in local government – in Ilkley, where his father grew up.

In 1916 he married Jane Savile, who had previously been married briefly to a Polish waiter, an ‘illegal alien’ who had moved to London and committed various criminal offences. They moved to Liverpool and later, it seems down to Surrey, where he died in 1950.

 

From a family tree on ancestry.co.uk

Philip Francis Wainwright worked in the photography business, but served as a paymaster in the Royal Navy in the First World War. For some reason he changed his surname to Pictor-Wayne – Pictor being his mother’s surname. In the 1920s his business hit financial problems and he was declared bankrupt. He lived in London, married and had a son, but later returned to the Bath area where he died in 1969.

 

 

From a family tree on ancestry.co.uk

Constance Margaret Wainwright married a first cousin, Alan Newman Pictor, and had two daughters, the first born in Surbiton and the second, exotically, in Fiji. They moved to Bath, and, after the death of her husband, she retired to Wimbledon, where she died in 1982.

 

 

From a family tree on ancestry.co.uk

David had an eventful life. He served as an officer in the Royal Navy during World War One. In 1916 it was reported that he had been killed at the Battle of Jutland, but in fact he was a Prisoner of War. He later returned to duty and in 1919 was awarded the Albert Medal for gallantry in saving life at sea. On leaving the Royal Navy he joined the Palestine Police, where he married and had a son. Returning to England he took a job as a salesman, but then, in 1938, became an Observer in Czechoslovakia,  in which role he was commended by Lord Halifax.

In March 1939 he was to meet a sudden and tragic end. Returning to England, in the Naval Reserve and with global conflict again on the horizon, he went on a refresher course at Portland, Dorset, walked out of his hotel, and later his body was found in the sea off Chesil Beach. For further information on David Wainwright see here.

Come back soon for some more Minor Pieces featuring chess players from Twickenham, Richmond and who knows where else.

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

chessgames.com

BritBase

MegaBase 2022

EdoChess

British Chess Magazine 1933

Various other websites linked above.

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Minor Pieces 28: George Edward Wainwright Part 3

This is the third post in my series about George Edward Wainwright, sometime member of Twickenham, Guildford and Surbiton Chess Clubs, and one of the strongest English amateurs of his day.

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

American Chess Magazine 1898: taken from a public member tree on ancestry.co.uk

We left George in Surbiton in 1911, happily married, with four children and an important job in local government.

That summer he travelled abroad to play chess for the first time. He was playing top board for a team of members and friends of Hastings Chess Club who embarked on a tour of France and Switzerland, scoring 4½/5. I guess he was a friend, rather than a member.

Here’s a game from their match against the Union Amicale des Amateurs de la Régence, where he encountered the Russian diplomat Vassily Soldatenkov. (Click on any move of any game in this article and a Magic Pop-up Chessboard should, with any luck, appear.)

At this point he took a break from tournament chess, not playing in either the 1911 British Championship in Glasgow or the 1911-12 City of London Championship.

He wasn’t inactive, though: in November he took part in a simul at the City of London Club against the up and coming young Cuban Capablanca, where he managed to win his game.

In 1912 he didn’t have far to go for the British Championship, which took place just up the road from him in Richmond – the Castle Assembly Rooms to be precise, down by the river and opposite the Town Hall. Again, he didn’t take part, but was there as a visitor. (I’m considering a future series of Minor Pieces about some of the chessers who descended on Richmond that year.)

Wainwright was back in action in the 1912-13 City of London Championship, but without success. A large entry that year required three qualifying sections, with three qualifiers from each section making the final pool. He was well down the field in his section.

Throughout his life he remained loyal to his home county of Yorkshire: in those days there was no problem representing both Surrey and Yorkshire in county matches.

In this game from a Yorkshire – Middlesex match played in Leicester (a neutral venue) he beat one of his regular London opponents and a future Kingston resident.

Just two days  later he took part in another simul against Capablanca, forsaking his usual tactical style and, after his opponent’s ill-advised queen trade, winning in the manner of – Capablanca.

The following year, he did better in the City of London Championship, this time qualifying for the finals by winning this game against a young Dutch master who had crossed the Channel hoping to make money by beating rich Englishmen.

By now it was 1914 and storm clouds were gathering over Europe. The London League kept going for one more season. Wainwright was representing the Lud Eagle club and won this game featuring a rather unusual sacrificial kingside attack in a match against West London. His opponent, William Henry Regan, was a stamp and coin dealer.

The City of London Championship managed to keep going for the duration, albeit with far fewer entries, giving George Edward Wainwright the opportunity to continue playing his favourite game.

He didn’t play in 1914-15 or 1915-16, but returned to the fray in 1916-17. Understandably rusty, he finished in last place behind Edward Guthlac Sergeant. The following year, fulfilling the prophecy from Matthew 20:16 (The last shall be first), later repeated by Bob Dylan (The loser now will be later to win) he shared first place with Philip Walsingham Sergeant (EG’s second cousin) and Edmund MacDonald, winning the play-off and so taking the title for the second time.

He was unsuccessful in defending his title in 1918-19, finishing in midfield behind the Latvian master Theodor Germann as chess started to wake up again following the end of hostilities.

In 1919 the British Chess Federation celebrated with a Victory Tournament in Hastings, where Capablanca won the top section ahead of Kostic. The Ladies’ Championship was included but the title of British Champion itself wasn’t awarded. While in the country, Capa gave a simul at the City of London Club, and, for a third time, lost against Wainwright.

Meanwhile, there were some important changes in Wainwright’s personal life. There was a major reconstruction of local government in 1919: the Local Government Board was abolished, its powers being transferred to the newly created Ministry of Health. It seems likely that at this point Wainwright, a wealthy gentleman whose children had now grown up, decided to retire. At some point in 1920 he and his wife moved to Alice’s home village of Box, Wiltshire. Box is situated in the beautiful Cotswolds, on the A4 between the city of Bath and the market town of Corsham.

The village’s previous claim to chess fame was as the birthplace of Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), who, when he wasn’t expunging Shakespeare’s rude words, was one of the strongest English players of his day.

The Wainwright family settled in a cottage called Netherby, near the centre of the village, now a Grade 2 listed building. Very charming it looks too.

Source: Google Maps

The Reverend Vere Awdry and his family moved into Lorne House (now a Bed & Breakfast establishment), next to the railway station on the road to Corsham, also in 1920. They’d arrived in the village in 1917, and had lived at two previous addresses there. He and his young son Wilbert used to spend hours watching the steam trains pass by. Many years later, Wilbert, now the Reverend W Awdry, would be inspired by this memory to write the Thomas the Tank Engine books, much loved by generations of young children, including me. George and Vere, as prominent members of the village community, would surely have known each other, and George would have known young Wilbert as well.

By 1920 things were back to normal, and George Edward Wainwright, now retired, was one of those selected for the British Championship in Edinburgh: his first appearance for a decade. His address was given as London and Box in different newspapers, which suggests he’d just moved, or was in the process of moving.

Roland Henry Vaughan Scott was the slightly surprising winner, ahead of the hot favourite Sir George Alan Thomas. Wainwright scored a respectable 4½/11, not bad for a player in his late 50s.

In this game he launched a dangerous kingside attack in typical style, and his opponent wasn’t up to the defensive task. Scottish champion Francis Percival (Percy) Wenman, a former petty thief (of chess books) and later plagiarist, will be well worth a future Minor Piece.

It was now 1921 and time for the census enumerator to pay a visit to the Wainwright residence in Box. George and Alice were there, along with a visitor from Bradford, possibly a family friend, and a general servant.

You’ll find out what happened in the latter stages of his life and chess career next time.

Sources:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

Wikipedia

Google Maps

edochess.ca

chessgames.com

Britbase

Thanks to Gerard Killoran for information about Wainwright’s simul games against Capablanca.

 

 

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Minor Pieces 27: George Edward Wainwright Part 2

Apologies for the Minor Pieces delay, but I had a deadline on another project. It’s now time to return to George Edward Wainwright.

American Chess Magazine 1898: taken from a public member tree on ancestry.co.uk

Here he is again. You might recall (it was a long time ago) that, in my previous article, we left him in 1901, an  English international player, previously a member of Twickenham Chess Club, but now living and playing chess in Guildford.

The chess world would change a lot over the next decade, beginning to look a lot more like the world we know today, with a mixture of club and county matches and tournaments. It was, in the spirit of the times, becoming more competitive. George Edward Wainwright was in his element.

At the end of May 1901 he was in Folkestone for the 3rd Kent County Chess Association Tournament, although his result there was rather indifferent. His opponents included Edward Guthlac Sergeant, Joseph Henry Blake and the endgame expert Creassey Edward Cecil Tattersall, the winner of his section. The other section was won by Henry Ernest Atkins, ahead of Lucien Serraillier, father of the novellist Ian Serriallier (The Silver Sword).

His short draw against Tattersall featured an opening that would become the height of fashion a century later. He mishandled it, but on move 15 his opponent missed the win. 119 years later, English IM Jack Rudd reached the same position and made no mistake. (Click on any move in any game in this article and a pop-up window will magically appear.)

In May 1902 Wainwright took part in the 4th Kent tournament, held in Tunbridge Wells: an all-play-all for 10 players won by the Dutch organist Rudolf Loman, ahead of the likes of Reginald Pryce Michell and (later Sir) George Alan Thomas. Perhaps his most interesting opponent here was the mountaineer Edward Douglas Fawcett.

Against Isle of Wight solicitor Francis Joyce he essayed the relatively new and unexplored Albin Counter-Gambit.

His score of 5½/9 gave him a share of 3rd prize, but he was slightly less successful in the Southern Counties Chess Union Tournament in Norwich, where 4½/11 left him well behind Michell, impressive with 10½/11.

We can see the chess administration we know now coming into shape in this period: county organisations affiliated to regional organisations, who were in turn affiliated to the British Chess Federation. It hasn’t changed very much in the last 120 years: some of us have been saying for years that we need a 21st century rather than a 19th century chess administration in this country.

The 1903 SCCU tournament necessitated a trip to Plymouth (the SCCU covered a much wider area than it does today) where he scored a big success. His score of 7/8 gave him first place ahead of George Edward Horton Bellingham, Wilfred Charles Palmer and Michell.

In October 1903 Wainwright resigned his post as President of Guildford Chess Club, as he had left the area. As we’ll see, he moved to Surbiton, just the other side of Kingston from his previous address in Teddington. Perhaps his job had taken him back from Guildford to Kingston, or perhaps he wanted to be nearer London for both work and chess purposes. Surbiton Station, on the main line into Waterloo, provided – and still provides – regular fast services into the capital. It looks very different now than it would have done in Wainwright’s time: the magnificent Art Deco building dates from 1937 and is considered one of the masterpieces of Scottish railway architect James Robb Scott.

He was soon in action against his former club, who were then, and, to the best of my knowledge, are still on friendly terms. Nearly 120 years later, they’re regular opponents in the Surrey Trophy.

West Surrey Times 21 November 1903

Wainwright drew on top board against William Timbrell Pierce, a problemist and endgame study composer who also gives his name to a variation of the Vienna Gambit. Surbiton came out on top, even though retired architect Henry Jones Lanchester failed to turn up. He certainly wouldn’t have been looking after his baby granddaughter Elsa, who would later become a famous film star – and the wife of Charles Laughton: Henry disowned his daughter Edith (Elsa’s mother) and sent her to a lunatic asylum because of her relationship with a working class Irishman named Shamus.

One of the most important events in London chess for many years up to World War 2 was the City of London Championship, which regularly attracted many of the capital’s finest players. Games took place on weekday evenings, so, now living in Surbiton, he’d be able to get home quickly and easily. He took part for the first time in the 1903-04 season, finishing in midfield behind the largely forgotten William Ward, with Michell in second place.

1904 was a momentous year for British Chess: the first British Championship took place. It’s still, to this day, more or less recognisable. The venue chosen was Hastings: perhaps Wainwright was disappointed not to have been one of the 12 players selected for the championship itself, won by the Anglo-American master William Ewart Napier after a play-off with Atkins. There were three equal First Class sections, and he found himself in Section B, where he shared first place with Charles Hugh Sherrard. Other sections included the British Ladies Championship and sections for Second and Third Class players.

At Southport in 1905 he was promoted to the Championship itself where he scored a very respectable 6/11, finishing in 6th place.

Here’s his exciting victory over the tragic and short-lived Hector Shoosmith, the son of a Temperance Lecturer from Brighton.

In 1906 the British Championship took place in Shrewsbury. Atkins and Michell took the first two places, with Wainwright’s 7/11 giving him a share of third place with Francis Lee, Palmer and Shoosmith. The BCM remarked: The play of … Palmer, Shoosmith, and Wainwright has been specially marked by light and shade. Each lost games through blunders and weak moves, but they have all shared in providing some of the brightest and most interesting chess of the tournament. A comment which could, I suppose, sum up Wainwright’s chess career. His oldest son, George Jnr, took part in one of the Third Class sections but without distinction.

His game against the veteran Blackburne, by now a shadow of his former self, was marked by a finish which would have been worthy of his opponent.

As Autumn arrived it was time for the City of London Club Championship, and it was this tournament that provided George Edward Wainwright with perhaps his greatest success. He ran out a clear winner with 14/17, 2½ points ahead of the runner-up, Shoosmith, with many of London’s leading amateurs trailing in his wake. As well as holding the Gastineau Cup for a year, he received the princely sum of £10 and the championship medal.

Weekly Journal (Hartlepool) 05 April 1907

The news even reached the chess players of Hartlepool, who were informed that he holds a very important official position, and that, according to a leading Chess Master, he is a sporting Chess player of the best type.

George Edward Wainwright had now, in his mid forties, reached the climax of his chess career. Rod Edwards, in his 1907 rating list, gives him a rating of 2407, placing him 71st in the world. Although 100 points or more behind Atkins and Burn, he was one of the strongest of a group of talented English amateurs rated between about 2300 and 2400, all of whom are of interest for both their lives and their games.

Wainwright didn’t have far to travel for the 1907 British Championship in London, where his 6½/11 was enough for a tie for second place with Blackburne, Michell and EG Sergeant behind Atkins. Another outstanding result: press reports remarked on his vivacious and enterprising style.

Here’s how he dispatched Blake.

In the 1907-08 City of London Championship he couldn’t quite repeat his success of the previous year, finishing a close third behind Thomas Francis Lawrence (you’ll certainly meet him in a future Minor Piece) and William Ward. He didn’t play in the 1908 British Championship, but continued to compete regularly in club and county matches for both Surrey (qualified by residence) and Yorkshire (qualified by birth). He had also returned to playing in the Anglo-American cable matches.

He didn’t play at the British Championships at Tunbridge Wells in 1908, but he was back again at Scarborough the following year, finishing in midfield

He will be somewhere in this rather splendid group photograph.

In this game he again demonstrated his attacking skills, sacrificing a knight to defeat Liverpool’s Harry Holmes, an aural and ophthalmic surgeon.

He had previously finished 3rd in the 1908-09 City of London Chess Club Championship, and, coincidentally, the 1909-10 event saw the same three players taking the first three places: Ward, Blake and Wainwright.

This game, against the problemist Percy Healey, was described by Frederick Winter Markwick, in the Essex Times, as one of the prettiest games I have had the pleasure of watching.

In March 1910 he represented the City of London Chess Club against a visiting team from the Dutch Chess Federation, drawing his game on board 3 against Abraham Speijer, The Dutch team fielded the brothers Arnold and Dirk van Foreest on boards 1 and 7. Arnold is the great great grandfather of GMs Jorden and Lucas van Foreest and their sister Machteld.

The 1910 British Championships took place in Oxford, where he again performed well, sharing 4th place on 6½/11, and beating both Blackburne and the up and coming Fred Dewhirst Yates, who tied for second place behind Atkins.

Here’s how Wainwright beat his fellow Yorkshireman.  I guess they were half way towards a comedy sketch!

Wainwright wasn’t quite so successful in the 1910-11 edition of the City of London Club Championship, but, now approaching his half century, a slight decline was only to be expected.

Meanwhile, on 2 April 1911 it was time for the census enumerator to call. Let’s see who was at home.

There he was, at 1 St Andrew’s Square, Surbiton, very convenient for the station and trains to London. Very nice it looks, too. George Edward Wainwright and his family seemed to be doing very well for themselves.

Photo: Google Maps

He’s described, rather modestly, as a Principal Clerk working for the Local Government Board. His wife is also at home, as are their two middle children. Philip is a business pupil for a photographic requisites supply company, while Constance has no occupation listed. They also have a visitor, 19-year-old Julie Ross from Glasgow, as well as a cook and a housemaid.

George Jnr was following in his father’s footsteps in more ways than one. He had moved to his father’s home town of Ilkley, where he was also working for the Local Government Board, as a district auditor. 16-year-old David, though, had chosen a different career path: he was a naval cadet undergoing officer training in Dartmouth.

Here, having followed George Edward Wainwright through his forties, the busiest decade of his chess career, is a good place to pause.

Come back soon for the third and final episode of the chess career of the man who, although not a member for long, was by far the strongest player in the first Twickenham Chess Club. Our friends at Surbiton can also claim him as one of their finest players.

 

Ackowledgements:

ancestry.co.uk

findmypast.co.uk

EDOChess – GE Wainwright

Yorkshire Chess History: GE Wainwright

Britbase

Game analysis generated by ChessBase using Stockfish 14.

 

 

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Birthday Greetings FM 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 FM 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
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Remembering GM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE (07-x-1933 30-xi-2021)

IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE in the garden of Brian Reilly
IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE in the garden of Brian Reilly

BCN remembers GM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE who passed away on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021.

In the 1971 New Years Honours List Jonathan was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) The citation read “For services to Chess.”

In 1993 following representations by Bob Wade and Leonard Barden FIDE granted the title of Grandmaster to Jonathan. Here is a detailed discussion of that process. Note that this was not an Honorary title (as received by Jacques Mieses and Harry Golombek).

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson : (article by George Botterill)

“Penrose is one of the outstanding figures of British chess. Yet many who meet him may not realize this just because he is one of the quietest and most modest of men. Throughout the late 1950s and the whole of the 1960s he stood head and shoulders above any of his contemporaries.

See caption below
See caption below
Press agency caption for photograph above
Press agency caption for photograph above

His extraordinary dominance is revealed by the fact that he won the British championship no less than ten times (1958-63 and 1966-69, inclusive), a record that nobody is likely to equal in the future.

At his best his play was lucid, positionally correct, energetic and tactically acute. None the less, there is a ‘Penrose problem’: was he a ‘Good Thing’ for British chess? The trouble was that whilst this highly talented player effectively crushed any opposition at home, he showed little initiative in flying the flag abroad. There is a wide-spread and justifiable conviction that only lack of ambition in the sphere of international chess can explain why he did not secure the GM title during his active over-the-board playing career.

See caption below
See caption below
Press agency caption for above photograph
Press agency caption for above photograph

It would be unjust, however, to blame Penrose for any of this. The truth is simply that he was not a professional chessplayer, and indeed he flourished in
a period in which chess playing was not a viable profession in Britain. But even if the material awards available had been greater Penrose would almost certainly have chosen to remain an amateur. For he was cast in that special intellectual and ethical tradition of great British amateurs like H. E. Atkins, Sir George Thomas and Hugh Alexander before him.

Travel Chess 2nd January 1951: British chess champions Jonathan Penrose and Leonard Barden ponder over a portable travel game in a restaurant. (Photo by Walter Bellamy/Express/Getty Images)
Travel Chess
2nd January 1951: British chess champions Jonathan Penrose and Leonard Barden ponder over a portable travel game in a restaurant. (Photo by Walter Bellamy/Express/Getty Images)

His family background indicates early academic inclinations in a cultural atmosphere in which chess was merely a game something at which one excelled through sheer ability, but not to be ranked alongside truly serious work. It is noteworthy that Penrose, unique in this respect amongst British chess masters, has never written at any length about the game. He has had other matters to concentrate on when away from the board, being a lecturer in psychology. (His father, Professor L. S. Penrose, was a distinguished geneticist.)

IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE
IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE

Being of slight physique and the mildest and most amiable of characters, it is probably also true that Penrose lacked the toughness and ‘killer instinct’ required to reach the very top. Nervous tension finally struck him down in a dramatic way when he collapsed during play in the Siegen Olympiad of 1970. We can take that date as the end of the Penrose era.

Jonathan Penrose Chess Grandmaster Jonathan Penrose pictured during a chess match, circa 1960. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Jonathan Penrose
Chess Grandmaster Jonathan Penrose pictured during a chess match, circa 1960. (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images))

Since, then though he has not by any means entirely given up, his involvement in the nerve-wracking competitions of over-the-board play has been greatly reduced. instead he has turned to correspondence chess, which is perhaps the ideal medium for his clear strategy and deep and subtle analysis. So Penrose’s career it not over. He has moved to another, less stressful province of the kingdom of chess.

IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE
IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE

For the first game, however, we shall turn the clock right back to 1950 and the see the Penrose in the role of youthful giant killer.

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

“British international master and ten times British Champion, Penrose was born in Colchester and came from a chess-playing family.

Lionel Sharples Penrose, FRS (11 June 1898 – 12 May 1972)
Lionel Sharples Penrose, FRS (11 June 1898 – 12 May 1972)

His father and mother (Margaret)  both played chess and his father, Professor Lionel Sharples Penrose, in addition to being a geneticist of world-wide fame, was a strong chess-player and a good endgame composer. Jonathan’s older brother Oliver, was also a fine player.

Oliver Penrose FRS FRSE (born 6 June 1929) is a British theoretical physicist
Oliver Penrose FRS FRSE (born 6 June 1929) is a British theoretical physicist

Roger Penrose won the Nobel prize for physics in 2020.

Roger Penrose. Nobel Laureate
Roger Penrose. Nobel Laureate

Shirley Hodgson (née Penrose) is a high flying geneticist.

Prof. Shirley Hodgson
Prof. Shirley Hodgson

Jonathan learnt chess at the age of four, won the British Boys championship at thirteen and by the time he was fifteen was playing in the British Championship in Felixstowe in 1949.

Press agency caption for photograph above
Press agency caption for photograph above
Press agency caption for photograph above
Press agency caption for photograph above

A little reluctant to participate in international tournaments abroad, he did best in the British Championship which he won a record number of times, once more than HE Atkins. He won the title consecutively from 1958 to 1963 and again from 1966 to 1969.

Boy Chess Champion. New York Times photo shows 14 year old J. Penrose 14 year old by chess champion of Britain, in play at the British Chess Championships at Bishopsgate Institute today. He has had great success in the tournament so far, beating men far above his age and experience. 2nd September 1948. Photograph by Reginald Webster
Boy Chess Champion. New York Times photo shows 14 year old J. Penrose 14 year old by chess champion of Britain, in play at the British Chess Championships at Bishopsgate Institute today. He has had great success in the tournament so far, beating men far above his age and experience. 2nd September 1948. Photograph by Reginald Webster
Press agency caption for photograph above
Press agency caption for photograph above

He also played with great effect in nine Olympiads. Playing on a high board for practically all the time, he showed himself the equal of the best grandmasters and indeed, at the Leipzig Olympiad he distinguished himself by beating Mikhail Tal, thereby becoming the first British player to defeat a reigning World Champion since Blackburne beat Lasker in 1899.

ARB Thomas and Jonathan Penrose at the Hastings Congress of 1950/1951
ARB Thomas and Jonathan Penrose at the Hastings Congress of 1950/1951

Jonathan Penrose vs Mikhail Tal, Leipzig Olympiad, 1960, 1-0, Modern Benoni
Jonathan Penrose vs Mikhail Tal, Leipzig Olympiad, 1960, 1-0, Modern Benoni

A deep strategist who could also hold his own tactically, he suffered from the defect of insufficient physical stamina and it was this that was to bring about a decline in his play and in his results. He collapsed during a game at the Ilford Chess Congress, and a year later, at the Siegen Olympiad of 1970, he had a more serious collapse that necessitated his withdrawal from the event after the preliminary groups had been played. The doctors found nothing vitally wrong with him that his physique could not sustain.

He continued to play but his results suffered from a lack of self-confidence and at the Nice Olympiad of 1974 he had a wretched result on board 3, winning only 1 game and losing 6 out of 15.

Darga V Penrose 29th December 1955: Klaus Darga of Germany in play against Britain's Jonathan Penrose during the International Chess Congress at Hastings. (Photo by Folb/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Darga V Penrose
29th December 1955: Klaus Darga of Germany in play against Britain’s Jonathan Penrose during the International Chess Congress at Hastings. (Photo by Folb/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Possibly too his profession (a lecturer in psychology) was also absorbing him more and more and too part less and less in international and national chess.

Jonathan Penrose
Jonathan Penrose

Yet, he had already done enough to show that he was the equal of the greatest British players in his command and understanding of the game and he ranks alongside Staunton, Blackburne, Atkins and CHO’D Alexander as a chess figure of world class.”

Here is his Wikipedia entry

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“The leading English player during the 1960s, International Master (1961), International Correspondence Chess Master (1980), lecturer in psychology. Early in his chess career Penrose decided to remain an amateur and as a consequence played in few international tournaments. He won the British Championship from 1958 to 1963 and from 1966 to 1969, ten times in all (a record); and he played in nine Olympiads from 1952 to 1974, notably scoring + 10=5 on first board at Lugano 1968, a result bettered only by the world champion Petrosyan.

IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE
IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE

In the early 1970s Penrose further restricted his chess because the stress of competitive play adversely affected his health.”

The second edition (1996) adds this :

“He turned to correspondence play, was the highest rated postal player in the world 1987-9, and led the British team to victory in the 9th Correspondence Olympiad.”

Here is a discussion about Jonathan on the English Chess Forum

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

“International Master (1961) and British Champion in 1958 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.

Jonathan Penrose was born in Colchester on 7th October 1933, the son of Professor LS Penrose, the well-known geneticist, who was also a strong player and composer of endgame studies.

The whole Penrose family plays chess and Jonathan learned the game when he was 4. At the age of 12 he joined Hampstead Chess Club and the following year played for Essex for the first time, won his first big tournament, the British Boys’ Championship, and represented England against Ireland in a boy’s match, which was the forerunner of the Glorney Cup competition, which came into being the following year.

By the time he was 17 Penrose was recognised as one of the big hopes of British Chess. Playing in the Hastings Premier Tournament for the first time in `1950 – 1951, he beat the French Champion Nicholas Rossolimo and at Southsea in 1950 he beat two International Grandmasters, Effim Bogoljubov and Savielly Tartakower.

Penrose played for the British Chess Federation in a number of Chess Olympiads since 1952. In 1960, at Leipzig, came one of the best performances of his career, when he beat the reigning World Champion, Mikhail Tal. He became the first British player to beat a reigning World Champion since JH Blackburne beat Emmanuel Lasker in 1899, and the first player to defeat Tal since he won the World Championship earlier that year. Penrose’s score in this Olympiad was only half-a-point short of the score required to qualify for the International Grandmaster title.

IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE
IM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE

His ninth victory in the British Championships in 1968 equalled the record held by HE Atkins, who has held the title more times than any other player.

Penrose is a lecturer in psychology at Enfield College of Technology and has never been in a position to devote a great deal of time to the game. He is married to a former contender in the British Girls Championship and British Ladies’s Championship, Margaret Wood, daughter of Frank Wood, Hon. Secretary of the Oxfordshire Chess Association.

Again from British Chess : “In updating this report we find striking evidence of Penrose’s prowess as a correspondence player. Playing on board 4 for Britain in the 8th Correspondence Chess Olympiad he was astonishingly severe on the opposition, letting slip just one draw in twelve games! Here is one of the eleven wins that must change the assessment of a sharp Sicilian Variation.”

 

Penrose was awarded the O.B.E. for his services to chess in 1971.”

Penrose was Southern Counties Champion for 1949-50.

In 1983 Jonathan became England’s fifth Correspondence Grandmaster (CGM) following Keith Richardson, Adrian Hollis, Peter Clarke and Simon Webb.

Sadly, there is no existent book on the life and games of Jonathan Penrose : a serious omission in chess literature.

Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE
Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE
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Remembering IM Čeněk Kottnauer (24-ii-1910 14-ii-1996)

IM Čeněk Kottnauer
IM Čeněk Kottnauer

BCN remembers IM Čeněk Kottnauer (24-ii-1910 14-ii-1996)

Čeněk (pronounced CHEnek) Kottnauer was born in Prague on Thursday, February 24th, 1910. Čeněk was employed in the Ministry of Education in Prague.

Whilst playing in the Lucerne International tournament (28-xii-1952 03-i-1953) he sought political asylum :

From the Milwaukee Journal, January 3, 1953 we have

Czech Chess Star Asks for Asylum

Lucerne, Switzerland – Cenek Kottnauer, 42, Czecho-Slovakian chess champion and an employee of the ministry of education in Prague, announced Saturday that he would not return to Czech-Slovakia and would request political asylum in Switzerland. Kottnauer had been participating in a chess tournament.

He said that the political situation in his country had grown “more and more critical” and he wanted “to leave before it is too late”. He said that he had been divorced recently and had no children in Czech-Slovakia”.

In a January 2009 post to the English Chess Forum Leonard Barden wrote :

“Cenek Kottnauer defected from Czechoslovakia during the Lucerne New Year tournament of 1952-3 (I am precise on this because I was present). His wife Daniela joined him there, having been smuggled from Prague in the boot of a diplomat’s car. Kottnauer had been a water polo player of international standard before 1939 so came into serious chess only his mid-30s. He made his name with his good showing in the Prague v Moscow match of 1946 and his Bxh7+ win then against Kotov. He competed in great tournaments like Groningen 1946 and Moscow 1947; his first visit to England was in 1947 when the Czech team came here.

Čeněk Kottnauer plays Friedrich Sämisch during the Duras Memorial in Prague. December 7th 1942, The game was a Slav drawn after 42 moves
Čeněk Kottnauer plays Friedrich Sämisch during the Duras Memorial in Prague. December 7th 1942, The game was a Slav drawn after 42 moves

In the 1940s he had a job in the Czech sports ministry but got implicated in the purges following the Slansky trial. He also believed that Pachman and Opocensky were involved in the campaign against him.”

Čeněk married Daniela (née Horska, also Czech, having met in Austria) and they had a son Daniel VR Kottnauer. Daniela was born in 1934 and was 24 years younger than Čeněk. She died on February 20th 2008 in a hospice in Essen, Germany close to where Daniel currently resides.  Daniel has been a pianist and singer for 30 years, an event manager for 19 years and a coach and VIP limousine driver for 5 years and may be found on LinkedIn.

Daniel Kottnauer
Daniel Kottnauer

We thank Daniel for providing photographs.

Čeněk  became a British citizen on 16th December 1960 when he obtained naturalisation certificate BNA64338.

In 1965 Čeněk and Daniela were living at Flat 2, 7-8 Bathurst Street, London, W2.

7-8, Bathurst Street, London, W2
7-8, Bathurst Street, London, W2

In Kings, Commoners and Knaves (Russell Enterprises, 1999), page 108, Edward Winter wrote :

“The obituaries of Čeněk Kottnauer (1910-1996) have, in common with all of the encyclopaedia entries on him, been strangely wanting in pre-1940s references to his chess career. Czech magazines of the 1930s contain occasional games by ‘Kottnauer’ (no forename or initial given), including the following :

Source : Československý šach, January, 1932, page 9. The score was also given, with notes, by Vera Menchik, on page 153 of the April 1932 issue of The Social Chess Quarterly. ”

From Šachový Týdeník, 25th February, 2010 we learnt that Čeněk was twice Prague lightning champion.

In 1943 Čeněk was a clear first overall with 10.5/13 in the Zlin tournament.

Crosstable for the Zlin (Czechoslovakia) 1943 tournament
Crosstable for the Zlin (Czechoslovakia) 1943 tournament
Čeněk Kottnauer plays Svetozar Gligorić during the Chigorin Memorial, Moscow, November 26th 1947.
Čeněk Kottnauer plays Svetozar Gligorić during the Chigorin Memorial, Moscow, November 26th 1947.

From Bronstein on the King’s Indian,  Everyman Chess, 1999, game 25 we have :

“This game is from our hisotoric match with the Czechoslovak team, which took place half in Prague and half in Moscow.

My opponent, an intelligent, clever, athletic man, also played water polo. Then at some point he travelled to a tournament in England, fell in love with a beautiful Englishwoman, and decided to settle down there.”

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984), David Hooper & Ken Whyld :

International Master (1950), International Arbiter (1951), a Czech player who emigrated to England in 1953 and was naturalised in 1960. He played in Olympiads for Czechoslovakia (1950*, 1952), on the second occasion making the best score (+10=5) on the fourth board, and in two Olympiads for England (1964, 1968). In 1961 he won the Beverwijk Masters tournament (not the concurrent grandmasters event) with a clean score, a fine achievement.

*Ed : In fact, this is not true since Czechoslovakia did not send a team to Dubrovnik 1950.  This was the last year the event was limited to sixteen countries.

Incomplete crosstable for Beverwijk 1961
Incomplete crosstable for Beverwijk 1961

James Pratt, Basingstoke provides the full results from Gino de Felice, Chess Results, 1961 – 1963, Macfarland, 2013 :

Kottnauer 9/9, Wade 5/9, Langeweg 4.5/9, De Rooi 4.5/9, Tan 4.5/9, Kramer 4/9, Bink 3.5/9, Durao 3.5/9, Perez Perez 3.5/9, Bozic 3/9.

Consulting the 2nd edition (1992) of Hooper & Whyld may cause disappointment since there is no entry for CK.

Čeněk Kottnauer from Šachový Týdeník, 25th February, 2010
Čeněk Kottnauer from Šachový Týdeník, 25th February, 2010

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

“International Master (1950) and International Judge (1951).

Born on 24th February 1910. Kottnauer represented Czechoslovakia in the 1952 Olympiad in Helsinki. In the years after the war his successes in international tournaments included 3rd at Beverwijk 1947, =2nd at Vienna 1947, 4th at Bad Gadstein 1948 and 1st at Lucerne 1953.

Crosstable for Lucerne 1952/1953
Crosstable for Lucerne 1952/1953

After the Lucerne tournament he sought political asylum in Switzerland. He later settled in England and became a naturalised British citizen. He played for the British Chess Federation in the Olympiads of 1964 and 1968.

Kottnauer has played in the British Championship twice. In 1961 he came =4th, and in 1962 he came =3rd.”

IM Čeněk Kottnauer
IM Čeněk Kottnauer

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE (entry written by Bill Hartston):

“Born in Czechoslovakia, Kottnauer played for that country in many events including the 1952 Olympiad. He emigrated in 1953 and subsequently took British nationality, representing England in the Olympiads of 1964 and 1968. Awarded FIDE titles of international master in 1950 and International Judge in 1951. Winner of Lucerne 1953 International tournament.

Čeněk Kottnauer plays Frans Kuijpers during the 1964 Anglo-Dutch match at Vlissingen on September 19th
Čeněk Kottnauer plays Frans Kuijpers during the 1964 Anglo-Dutch match at Vlissingen on September 19th

Co-author with TD Harding and GS Botterill of The Sicilian Sozin, Batsford, London, 1974.”

The Sicilian Sozin, TD Harding, GS Botterill, C. Kottnauer, Batsford, 1974
The Sicilian Sozin, TD Harding, GS Botterill, C. Kottnauer, Batsford, 1974

James Pratt, Basingstoke revealed : He would look through opening analysis often  proclaiming: ‘What will the master play now?’

From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) we have this insight from Tim Harding :

“At a time when home-grown International Masters were thin on the ground in Britain (the 1950s and 1960s) this Czech-born IM brought a lot of valuable experience to BCF teams.

Amsterdam 1950, first day; Gideon Stahlberg versus Cenek Kottnauer Date: November 11, 1950
Amsterdam 1950, first day; Gideon Stahlberg versus Cenek Kottnauer Date: November 11, 1950

After emigrating to England in 1953, he became naturalized and subsequently represented the BCF in the Tel Aviv, 1964 and Lugano, 1968, Olympiads. On board one in 1964 he scored +8 =7 -3 (63.9%) on board two below Penrose in 1968 (with some board one games) he scored 41.7: +3 =5 -4.

Čeněk Kottnauer
Čeněk Kottnauer

When FIDE rating lists appeared in the early 1970s, Kottnauer was listed at 2370 but by this time had more or less retired from active play at the top level, although he took (and still takes) a keen interest in coaching promising young players, He was one of the most regular and most valuable coaches at the one-day junior training events organised by the London Chess Association at the Mary Ward Centre in Bloomsbury, London in the mid-1970s.

IM Čeněk Kottnauer, event unknown
IM Čeněk Kottnauer, event unknown

At this time he also wrote many articles for his friend Grandmaster Pachman, who had been freed to live in West Germany where he became editor of Schach-Archiv, and also made a major contribution to the Batsford opening theory work. The Sicilian Sozin, written in collaboration with George Botterill and Tim Harding, and published in 1974.

Lubomir Kavalek & Čeněk Kottnauer from Šachový Týdeník, 25th February, 2010
Lubomir Kavalek & Čeněk Kottnauer from Šachový Týdeník, 25th February, 2010

Kottnauer’s most active years as a player were however 1946-53; in the year that he came to England he took first prize in the Lucerne, 1953 International tournament. Had he been a professional player throughout the the 1950s, there is little doubt that he would have become a grandmaster.

As early as the end of the war, when regular play resumed, he was almost of that strength (as wins against Kotov and Smyslov in the February, 1946 Prague v Moscow match showed) but lacking in experience at the top level, which told against him at Groningen, 1946, when he was placed 13th with 9 points out of a possible 19 in a very strong field.  This was the first great post-war tournament, with nine Master and eleven Grandmasters (including Botvinnik and former world champion Euwe).

Players at the 1946 Groningen Tournament
Players at the 1946 Groningen Tournament

Also in 1946 Kottnauer scored wins against Simagin (in Prague) and Levenfish (in Leningrad) and was clearly one of the up-and-coming stars in a strong Czech team that included Filip and Pachman.  In 1950 he was one of the first players to be awarded the FIDE title of International Master.

The following year he was also made a FIDE International Judge (now known as FIDE Arbiter).

Unfortunately there was no Czech representation at the Dubrovnik, 1950 Olympiad, but in 1952, one of his last appearances for Czechoslovakia, Kottnauer achieved a remarkable record playing board four (below Filip, Pachman and Sajtar) at the Helsinki Olympiad. He went through unbeaten with ten wins and five draws (83.3%) and easily won the board prize.

Kottnauer shortly thereafter came to England where he eventually made a successful career as an executive with Trust House Forte’s hotel group; he has also helped with the BBC overseas service Czech-language broadcasts. He lives in West Central London with his wife and their son.

The following is undoubtedly Kottnauer’s most famous win.

and here we have the same game analysed by Tryfon Gavriel :

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXVI (116, 1996), Number 4 (April), pp 202-203 we have this obituary by Bernard Cafferty :

Čeněk Kottnauer, the Czech/British IM, and the first chess defector died in St. Margaret’s Hospital, London, on 14th February after heart trouble and abdominal cancer.

A giant of a man, a fine athlete and swimmer, he was born on 24th February 1910 and came to prominence in the 1942 tournament in Prague in which Alekhine took part. He extended the great man to 70 moves before resigning. His wins against Kotov and Smyslov in the Moscow-Prague match of 1946 and his 13th place in the great Groningen tournament of the same year confirmed his status, as did his excellent showing for Czechoslovakia in the 1952 Olympiad at Helsinki (+10=5-0 on fourth board). He also took part in the 1947 Chigorin Memorial in Moscow, and won a tournament at Lucerne in early 1953, the same year in which he emigrated to Britain.

Hoogovens, Beverwijk, 1962. In the opening round (played 11th January), Theo van Scheltinga (Netherlands) faces Čeněk Kottnauer (England, formerly ČSSR). (Photo credit: W. van Rossem, ANEFO, via http://gahetna.nl. Courtesy of Douglas Griffin
Hoogovens, Beverwijk, 1962. In the opening round (played 11th January), Theo van Scheltinga (Netherlands) faces Čeněk Kottnauer (England, formerly ČSSR). (Photo credit: W. van Rossem, ANEFO, via http://gahetna.nl. Courtesy of Douglas Griffin

On this form he would have gained the GM title had he continued playing, but he had to take a full-time job (with Trusthouse Forte) to support his family.

Čeněk had met his much younger wife in Austria, though she too was Czech. They had a son. The master’s appearences were therefore limited to London League matches and other sporadic events. That he had lost none of his skill was shown when he played top board for England at the 1964 Tel-Aviv Olympiad (Penrose was not available) and made +8=7-3. His only other big event was the Lugano Olympiad of 1968 when he was on second board and made +3=5-4.

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

Čeněk (pronounced CHEnek) Kottnauer was one of the early professionals in the German Bundesliga; on a visit to his Bayswater flat in 1995 by Murray Chandler and myself, Čeněk told us about the great transport difficulties he had in those days. He mentioned that he had recently had a heart bypass operation and showed us the medication he had to take on a regular basis, opining that after Golombek and Milner-Barry he would be the next to go.

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

Čeněk was involved in junior coaching in London for many years, wrote extensively for the Dutch and German press and in recent years was a regular visitor to the Lloyds Bank Masters to see old friends and acquaintances. Amongst those he coached were Julian Hodgson, William Watson and Dharshan Kumaran, as well as Stuart Conquest.

IM Čeněk Kottnauer in Argentina during the 1984 World Under-16 Championship
IM Čeněk Kottnauer in Argentina during the 1981 World Under-16 Championship

In Stuart’s case he came regularly to Hastings to do the coaching which was financed by the Slater Foundation and by Lloyds Bank.

The fruit of his effort was Stuart’s 1981 World U-16 title in Argentina, where Čeněk’s great physical strength came in handy when the huge trophy had to be carried back to Britain.

IM Čeněk Kottnauer with Stuart Conquest during the World Under-16 Championship in Argentina.
IM Čeněk Kottnauer with Stuart Conquest during the World Under-16 Championship in Argentina.

All his pupils and friends will attest to his wonderful manner. A great personality has left us.”

According to Leonard Barden “Čeněk’s students included Demis Hassabis, then aged six.   He once told me that Dharshan Kumaran, then seven, was the more talented of the pair  but that Demis was also ‘very clever and tricky’ ”

Daniel tells us that Nigel Short visited his family home for coaching and we believe that both Anita and Mira Rakshit were CKs students. Doubtless there were many more…

Leonard added :

“After he retired he did chess coaching and, although never named in the BCF’s list of coaches, was the most successful of all in terms of achievements by those he taught. He normally did weekly sessions of a couple of hours and got results through his challenging and sceptical approach to ideas from his pupils.

Kottnauer pupils included Hodgson, Watson, and Kumaran, who all became grandmasters. When he came to our junior invitation tournaments in the mid-seventies I used to give a prize of a game and session with him to exceptional talents. So he played Nigel Short in spring 1975 (probably Short’s first one-to-one with an IM) and was enthusiastic about his promise.

In 1981 when Stuart Conquest was going to the the world U16 championship in Argentina Cenek coached him for several months beforehand and went with him to the event. No news reports were available during the tournament so the first I knew was when Cenek phoned me on his return to London and complained that he was tired having to carry this enormous trophy home (Stuart had broken his arm before the event and played in a sling) and how the food had been terrible but that Eliskases, who was involved in the organisation, had sworn him to secrecy.

IM Čeněk Kottnauer in Argentina during the 1984 World Under-16 Championship
IM Čeněk Kottnauer in Argentina during the 1981 World Under-16 Championship

I used to visit him a couple of times a month for talk and blitz sessions and have warm memories. A great guy, and a significant figure in the long departed English chess boom.”

Here is an excellent article from Tim Harding originally  on chesscafe.com but now via the Wayback Machine.

Here is an obituary from Bill Hartston

Here is his Wikipedia entry

And finally, according to chessgames.com :

“Cenek Kottnauer was born in Prague. He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and became an International Arbiter in 1951. Kottnauer played the Helsinki Olympiad 1952 on board 4 for Czechoslovakia, scoring +10 =5 -0. In 1953 he won the Lucerne international tournament. That same year, he emigrated to England, and eventually became a naturalized citizen and played for England in the Olympiads of 1964 and 1968. In the 1970s he became one of England’s top coaches of young players.”

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

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

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 91st FM Michael Franklin (02-ii-1931)

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

We send best wishes to Michael Franklin on his 91st 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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Remembering Henry Atkins (20-viii-1872 31-i-1955)

HE Atkins from Westminster Budget (18/09/1896) from the Yorkshire Chess History web site
HE Atkins from Westminster Budget (18/09/1896) from the Yorkshire Chess History web site

We remember Henry Atkins who passed away, Monday, January 31st, 1955.

Henry Ernest Atkins was born in Leicester on Tuesday, August 20th, 1872 to Edward (a schoolteacher) and Jane Atkins (née Threapland).

He was baptised on August 6th, 1872 in the Anglican Cathedral Church of St. Martin, Leicester. At the time of the baptism the Atkins family was living at 57, King Richard’s Road, Leicester. The address in 2021 appears to be occupied by an industrial premise for Sunco Knitwear Specialists. The signatory on the baptism record is that of DJ Vaughan.

Baptismal record for Henry Ernest Atkins
Baptismal record for Henry Ernest Atkins

Henry was admitted to Wyggeston Boys Grammar School, Leicester on March 30th 1880 when eight years old. He was expected to leave at the end of the Winter Term in 1890.

School admission record for Henry Ernest Atkins
School admission record for Henry Ernest Atkins

Curiously his school admission record includes the following addition (although we don’t know exactly when) :

Amendment to school admission record for HEA.
Amendment to school admission record for HEA.

Henry, aged 18, went up to Peterhouse College, Cambridge in 1890 to study mathematics. From his year of entry he was ranked as 9th “Wrangler” studying for the Mathematical Tripos. As part of his Part II examinations he did well enough to be “mentioned” for the Smith’s Prize for examination performance.

Nottingham Evening Post, 3rd June 1895
Nottingham Evening Post, 3rd June 1895

(Here is more on Kummer’s Proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem.)

Following University Henry became a teacher of mathematics at Northampton County Modern School and then returned to Wyggeston Boys Grammar School from 1902 – 1908. He then became the principal of Huddersfield College in 1909 and continued until 1915. Huddersfield College (founded in 1839) was merged with Hillhouse Technical School to form a new boys’ grammar school at a new campus at Salendine Nook with 950 boys.

According to Ranneforths Schach-Kalender (cited by C.N.), 1915, page 55, during the period at Huddersfield College Henry lived firstly at 49 New North Road, Huddersfield, Yorkshire :

49 New North Road, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, HD1 5NR
49 New North Road, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, HD1 5NR

and then

36 Gledholt Road, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, HD1 4HP :

36 Gledholt Road, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, HD1 4HP
36 Gledholt Road, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, HD1 4HP

On June 1st, 1915 (aged 43) Henry was registered as a teacher whilst at Huddersfield College for the fee of one guinea :

Teacher registration form for Henry Ernest Atkins
Teacher registration form for Henry Ernest Atkins

Henry retired from teaching in 1936.

In the 1939 register Henry (now a retired schoolmaster) was recorded as living with his wife, Elspeth Skene Atkins (née Wilson) at 29 East Avenue, Leicester, Leicestershire :

29 East Avenue, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 1TE
29 East Avenue, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE2 1TE

Elspeth was born on August 5th 1880 and was therefore roughly eight years his junior. She carried out “unpaid domestic duties” but as a member of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) she was a surgical dresser. The WVS transformed into the RVS. It would seem that Henry and Elspeth did not have children. She outlived Henry passing away in 1973 in Southampton.

On Monday, January 31st 1955 passed away in The Fielding Johnson Private Hospital :

Probate notice from March 26th 1955
Probate notice from March 26th 1955
The Fielding Johnson Private Hospital
The Fielding Johnson Private Hospital

Henry was buried at Gilroes Cemetery and Crematorium, Groby Road, Leicester, Leicestershire, LE3 9QG.

In the October 1976 issue of Newsflash Badmaster (aka GH Diggle) wrote :

“… we well remember his giving a “simultaneous” at the Lincoln Chess Club in 1924, winning 17 and drawing two. One of his more elderly opponents (a notorious non-resigner) who for 30 moves had been wobbling along with a piece down until “time” had to be called, then proceeded to “demonstrate a draw” by concocting a continuation so optimistic that even clubmates with lifelong experience of his powers stood aghast. Atkins, with his greatcoat on ready to go home, made no attempt to refute this analytical masterpiece but merely remarked with great deference: “I don’t think we can play it quite like that!” and then beat a craven retreat “escorted by Club Officials”

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV (75, 1955), Number 3 (March), pp.102-3 we have this obituary written by RN Coles :

“With the passing, on January 31st, at the age of eighty-two of Henry Ernest Atkins the chess world has lost a recognized international master, and British chess one of its strongest players of all time. Yet Atkins was the despair of chess enthusiasts because he played so little international chess and confined himself largely – and at that intermittently – to local affairs, where the strength of most of his opponents could hardly extend him. One leading player recently regretted that Atkins spent so much time “in the wilds,” but Atkins would have taken an opposite view and have considered that he was “in the wilds” if he had spent more of his time playing chess; teaching was his whole life, and the game of chess he insisted on treating as a game.

Consequently as a chess-player Atkins was almost always out of practice and playing below his true strength, yet in his five international events-Amsterdam, 1899; Hanover, 1902; London, 1922; London Team Tourney, 1927; and Warsaw Team Tourney, 1935-he scored 63.2 per cent, or if Amsterdam which was virtually a Hauptturnier is excluded, 53.5 per cent.

Full crosstable from Amsterdam 1899
Full crosstable from Amsterdam 1899

Sir George Thomas considered that only lack of opportunity prevented him from establishing himself in the world championship class. As it is, he will be remembered chiefly by chess-players as the man who played eleven times in the British Championship and won it nine times, failing only at the first attempt in 1904 after a tie for first place, and at the last in 1937, at the age of sixty-five, when he shared third place, a record which has never been remotely approached by any other player and is not likely to be. Atkins played in a clear-cut strategical style which makes his games ideal studies for the beginner, and he finished them with the elegance to enchant the artist; like the Etudes of Chopin, they provide technical exercises and works of art in one.

But I believe that if Atkins had his wish – and this wish I am sure he will have – he would wish to be remembered by his many pupils, whether they be pupils of the chess master or of the schoolmaster, not for any practical achievements but for being a true guide, philosopher, and friend to all who came under his tutelage.-R. N. C.”

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld

English player, born in Leicester, International Master (1950), schoolmaster. Between 1895 and 1901 he played in seven minor tournaments, winning four, taking second place in three, and losing only three out of 70 games. In one of these events, Amsterdam 1899, he made a clean score against 15 opponents. In his first international tournament, Hanover 1902, he came third (+8=7-2) after Janowski and Pillsbury ahead of Mieses, Chigorin, and Marshall. Emanuel Lasker believed that Atkins would have joined the leading grandmasters had he continued his international career, but Atkins played in only one more big tournament (London 1922). He had a genuine concern for his profession, and preferred not to give more of his life to chess. He played in 12 of the Anglo-American cable matches, won the British Championship nine times (1905-11, 1924, 1925), and represented the British Chess Federation in the Olympiads of 1927 and 1935.

Henry Ernest Atkins
Henry Ernest Atkins

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

International Master (1950) and nine times British Champion. Born in Leicester on 20th August 1872, Atkins learned the game at school in Leicester at the age of 12. When he was 15, he joined Leicester Chess Club and within two years was playing on top board. In 1890 he went up to Peterhouse, Cambridge, and played top board for the University. On leaving Cambridge he became a schoolmaster.

His first appearance in the British Championship was in 1904, when he came 2nd. The following year he won the championship and repeated his success every year up to and including 1911. He did not compete between 1912 and 1923, and on reappearing in the event in 1924, he regained his title and held it the following year. His final appearance in the British Championship was in 1937, when at the age of 65 he came =3rd.
In the five international events in which he played – Amsterdam 1899, Hanover 1902, London 1922 and the Chess Olympiads of 1927 and 1935 – he scored over 60 per cent.

His devotion to teaching and his insistence on treating chess as merely a game was all that prevented him from becoming one of the leading players in the world.

He died on 31st January, 1955.

H. E. Atkins Doyen of British Chess Champions by R. N. Coles
H. E. Atkins Doyen of British Chess Champions by R. N. Coles

In the above book RN Coles points out that Atkins regularly played f4 or …f5 early in the game and claims this was HEAs pet or signature move.

Henry Ernest Atkins
Henry Ernest Atkins

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Harry Golombek :

British international master and regarded by many as Britain’s more talented player in the history of the game. Born in Leicester and never very fond of leaving England. Atkins was a schoolmaster and devoted relatively little time to chess, and yet he became one of the strongest amateurs every known to chess. He was known on the Continent as “the little Steinitz“.

His record in British Championship is unique; out of eleven appearances he won the event nine times : 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1924 and 1925. I t should be added that in 1904 (his first attempt) he finished 1st= and only lost to Napier after a play-off and in 1937 (his last championship) he finished =3rd at the age of 65!

The British Chess Championship Trophy
The British Chess Championship Trophy

His international career comprises only six events. In 1895 Atkins was placed =2nd behind Maróczy in the Hastings Minor Tournament and in 1899 he won the Amsterdam tournament, leading the field by 4 points. At Hanover 1902 he scored his most notable result : 3rd prize behind Janowski and Pillsbury but ahead of Chigorin and Marshall among others. At London 1922 he finished only 10th of 16 but still claimed Rubinstein and Tartakower among his victims. He represented the B.C.F. in the Olympiads of 1927 and 1935.

Atkins was retrospectively awarded the title of international master in 1950 on his pre-war record. (Ray Keene).

According to chessgames.com : “He graduated from Cambridge and taught mathematics at Northampton and Wyggeston. In 1909, he was appointed Principal of Huddersfield College.”

Here is an article from the Yorkshire Chess History site

and here is an obituary from the MCCU site

Here is an excellent article from Neil Blackburn

Here is his Wikipedia article

and here is an excellent article on chess.com

Recently renowned journalist and write John Saunders has turned his attention to HEA.

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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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