We remember Harold Lommer who passed away on December 17th, 1980.
Harold Maurice Lommer was born on Friday, November 18th 1904 in Islington, London to German parents. Curiously his birth entry was missing from the original record and has been inserted manually as an after-thought. Anyone know the reason for this?
He left England aged 4 in 1908 to live in Switzerland and returned to England in 1926.
In the 1939 Census Harold was a resident at 16a Gwendwr Road, Barons Court, Hammersmith, London.
According to the census record HML was living in a household of three persons and his occupation was that of Foreign Correspondent.
In 1949 Harold married Valija S Linkuns in Fulham.
He died in Valencia, Provincia de València, Valenciana, Spain.
“International Judge of Chess Compositions (1958), International Arbiter (1962), International Master for Chess Compositions (1974), the greatest British study composer. Born in Islington of German parentage, he moved to Switzerland when he was four and returned to England 18 years later.
Inspired in his youth by the Saavedra study, he became the leading specialist on promotion tasks, and in 1933 was the first to show allumwandlung in a study, which Rinck had declared was impossible. Lommer also showed in studies six consecutive promotions to rooks (1935) and a minimal with concurrent promotions to queen, bishop, and knight.
After the Second World War he became proprietor of a Soho club, where players and composers often met; in 1949 the club organized a small international tournament, won by Bernstein, Lommer retired in 1961 and went to live in Valencia, where he died.
In 1939 Lommer and the English player Maurice A. Sutherland (d.1954), who backed the project, published 1,234 Modern End-game Studies. In 1975 Lommer compiled a sequel, 1,357 End-game Studies. These two collections, catholic in taste, made by a composer who was above all an artist, have become standard works. Besides his studies, the best of which are in these books, he composed fairy problems.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale 1970&1976), Anne Sunnucks :
“FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies since 1958. Born on 18th November 1904 in London, Harold Lommer’s parents were German and he was educated mainly in Switzerland. Since the late 1950s he has lived in Spain. He has composed about 1000 endgame studies and is joint author with MA Sutherland, of the anthology 1234 Modern End-Game Studies, published in 1938. He is particularly well-known for his under-promotion tasks, but would prefer to be known for his other work as well.
For some 10 years up to 1957, he was joint owner and manager of the Mandrake Club in Soho, London, used by many well-known chess players, journalists and theatre personalities.”
From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 3 (March), pp. 86-88 we have this obituary from CM Bent :
We remember Anthony Dickins who passed away this day (Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987.
Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins was born at 1 Rivers Street, Bath, Somerset on Sunday, November 1st, 1914. On this day was the Battle of Coronel — The Royal Navy suffered its first defeat of World War I, after a British squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock met and was defeated by superior German forces led by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee in the eastern Pacific.
Anthony’s parents were Frederick and Florence Dickins (née Mackay) Frederick was a Captain in the Royal Artillery and was born on 25th November 1879, commissioned on May 26th 1900. He became a Colonel on 26th May 1930 and retired November 25th 1936. He was alive in 1972 (aged 92) and living in Bexhill passing away aged 101/102. He was awarded the CIE which is “Companion, Order of the Indian Empire in 1914”.
Anthony was baptised on December 29th in Seend, Wiltshire. Anthony had a brother Frederick James Douglas born in 1907 who married Nellie or Peggie Moist (records are unclear).
It would appear that Florence and Anthony (aged 5) travelled to Bombay from Plymouth on board the SS City of York (Ellerman Lines) departing December 26th, 1919 presumably to visit his father in India. The ships master was J. McKellan.
At the time of the 1939 Census Anthony was residing in the Tavistock Hotel in Tavistock Square. His occupation was given as journalist and editor and described as single.
From the Hull Daily Mail (extant and renamed Hull Live) of March 4th, 1939 we have this part review of a magazine called The Joys of Poetry. Anthony was the editor :
He died in Lambeth Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987. We have yet to determine where he was buried or cremated.
“Anthony Dickins wrote A Guide to Fairy Chess (1967) and other books about fairy chess. He edited the column of non-original fairy problems for “The Problemist”. He was specialized in constructional problems and was also an International Judge.”
From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1984), Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson :
“Chess first entered my life seriously about 1950 at the well-known Mandrake Social and Chess Club in Meard Street, Soho, run by Harold Lommer and Boris Watson. Purely literary connections took me there in the first place, as it was a rendezvous for the literary fraternity, such as Dylan Thomas, David Gascoyne and others.
After the war Harold converted a small wine-vault into a tiny cramped chess-room, with some dozen tables and boards. Many well-known
personalities in the world of Chess were occasional visitors, such as Grandmasters Ossip Bernstein, Paul Keres, Jacques Mieses and Friedrich Sämisch; British Champions Willy Winter, Bob Wade and Dr. Fazekas; M. J. Franklin, now a British Master, and the Problemists, Dr. E. T. O. Slater and B. J. da C. Andrade. Mieses was then in his late eighties and charged a fee of half-a-crown (12.5 pence) for a game. When his name was mispronounced ‘Mister My-ziz’ he would say ‘I am Meister Mieses, not Mister My-ziz’.
Sämisch once played fourteen of us blindfold, defeating all except one, a very strong Indian player, Atta, who obtained a draw. My regular ‘partners’ were Vicki Weiss, the famous cartoonist, his brother Oscar, Richard Crewdson, Mr Keller (a professional who played sharply for a shifty shilling), Brian Mason, Colin ‘Puffer’ Evans, (whose strategy was to puff cigarette ash and smoke all over the board to bemuse the opponent) and Bob Troy (who always fell fast asleep immediately after making each move and had to be wakened on his next turn to play). There was a juke-box in the next room constantly blaring forth pop and bop. Most of all I played with Alex Distler, and with him always’variants of the game’ like Cylindrical Chess, Rifle Chess, Progressive Chess, or the Losing Game.
In this colourful and inspiring, if rather smoky and noisy, atmosphere I composed my first six chess problems, helpmates and cylindricals, though I did not then know of the existence of Problem books or magazines, nor had I heard of Sam Loyd, Max Lange, or T. R. Dawson when the Mandrake closed in the late fifties and Harold Lommer retired to Spain to write his two monumental works on Endgame Studies.
For the next 10 years or so I played at the West London and Athenaeum Chess Clubs, for Middlesex County and at Hastings congresses, meanwhile regularly solving the problems in the two evening newspapers for practice.
In 1965, in my 51st year, I discovered chess-problem magazines and the British Chess Problem Society, and was soon asked by John Rice to join the Fairy
Chess Correspondence Circle, whose director, W. Cross, perhaps the greatest solver of all time, guided my early footsteps in fairyland. At this point I compiled for my own use a summary of all the usual rules and conventions in Fairy Chess, as these were numerous and complicated. It occurred to me that a few other people might also welcome such a summary, so I put it into book form as A Guide to Fairy Chess, which I published by myself in 1967 under the imprint ‘The O Press’, a pun on the name ‘Kew’ where I was then living.
To my amazement it had rave reviews (‘the comprehensive work, so long awaited’, ‘more like an encyclopaedia’, ‘the bible of Fairy Chess’) and sold like hot cakes, going into three editions, each one enlarged and revised, the third produced by Dover Publications, New York, in 1971. Two years later I edited Dover’s publication of T. R. Dawson’s Five Classics of Fairy Chess.
In 1970 I flew to the States to spend a few days in the J. G. White collection in Cleveland, Ohio, researching historical material on Fairy Chess. This Ohio collection has the largest chess library in the world, and to my surprise I found that it contains also ‘every book or article ever written on or about ‘Omar Khayyam and Alice in Wonderland . To find oneself suddenly and unexpectedly transported, as if by magic carpet, into a superbly organised library with the most complete collections in the world of the three subjects that happen to be one’s own three principal literary interests is an experience that must approach closely to entering Nirvana, and I am happy to have had it. This visit enabled me to write A Short History of Fairy Chess (1975) and to give the lecture Alice in Fairyland to the Lewis Carroll Society in London, published in their journal Jabberwocky and reprinted by myself in 1976 (2nd edn 1978) .
In 1972 I decided to present my (by then) extensive collection of Fairy Chess books and magazines to my old university library at Cambridge to prevent the possible break-up of the collection as a single unit, and to ensure that at least one fairly complete Fairy Chess collection was retained in Britain.
In 1968 I was invited to open a Fairy Chess section in The Problemist, organ of the BCPS, which I handed over to Dr. C. C. L. Sells in 1970, and from 1974 to 1981 I ran another column in that magazine called ‘Other Types’. This chess journalism has brought me into touch with many problemists, and made many friends for me, in foreign countries.
In 1967, on a visit to Mannheim for the Schwalbe annual meeting, I met Wilhelm Karsch, then editor of Feenschach, and in 1968 in Munich I again met Dr. Karl Fabel, whom I first came to know in London in 1967, and also Peter Kniest, one of the two present editors of Feenschach. In 1969, on a visit to Paris, a meeting was arranged for me at the late Jean Oudot’s flat, with Pierre Monr6al, J. P. Boyer, F. de Lionnais (author of the Dictionnaire des Echecs) and other French problemists, and altogether I have attended twenty three major problemist meetings in various countries, including FIDE meetings in The Hague, Wiesbaden, Canterbury and Helsinki. It has been my constant aim to try to encourage and cultivate the practice and study of Fairy Chess and to keep alive the great legacy that T.R. Dawson left to the world when he died in 1951.
In recent years I have developed close relations with the younger generation of West German problemists, who are very active in Fairy Chess, centred round 29-year-old Bernd Ellinghoven, who helps Peter Kniest to edit Feenschach and who printed my last booklet, Fairy Chess Problems (1979), containing
poems as well as problems, combined in a new kind of fairy technique, for I believe that Fairy Chess represents in many ways the ‘poetry’ of Chess.
the 50th birthday of T. R. Dawson on the 28th November 1939 a certain Dr Lazarus of Budapest wrote in Fairy Chess Review: ‘T. R. D. these three
letters represent a conception in the Poetry of Chess which is amongst the most ingenious of all its turns, one of its most strange and interesting phases… Without T.R.D. human culture would lack a factor in its development’. Those people (and there are some) who would banish Fairy Chess altogether from Caissa’s realm resemble the iron-hearted Mr. Gradgrinds who would abolish romance, mystery, poetry, invention, discovery and imagination from human life.
Elsewhere I have written: ‘The Game for Murderers, The Problem for Philosophers, Fairy Chess for Sufis’, because the aim of the game-player is to ‘mate’ (kill) the opponent (from Arabic, mat _ dead), while the problemist has no personal opponent to kill, but merely a philosophical problem to resolve. In Fairy Chess, however, the adept is transported to another plane of existence, to an ‘undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns’,to new’dimensions’ of thought (as in 3- and 4-dimensional problems) – in short, to Fairyland, to Nirvana.
The three problems represent my early, middle and later compositions. The helpmate in three moves (Black plays first in a helpmate) is a miniature culminating in an ideal Mate. C. H. O’D. Alexander was much tickled by what he called ‘the deceptive pawn’ on a2, which unexpectedly does not promote.
The Construction Task with 113 White moves, all ‘maintaining’ the legal stalemate position in which Black finds himself, is a standing record that defeated the previous record of 112 such moves obtained independently by six problemists in six countries, one of them an lnternational Master of FIDE.
The Knight’s Tour is one of the oldest genres of Fairy Chess, dating from the earliest days of chess, and in TR Dawson’s Fairy Chess Review he published many of them., including some that showed the ‘square numbers’ (1,4,9,16,25,36,49,64) all on one rank – in the present example I have added the extra strict condition that as many as possible of the numbers 1 to 16 must be in the SW corner and as many as possible of the numbers 1 to 32 must be in the W half of the board.
For two reasons the perfect ideal in this task cannot be attained, firstly because of the given position of the number 25, and secondly because it is not possible to make a Knight’s tour on a 4 x 4 board in the SW corner.
1. Helpmate, Evening News, 20th February 1957 dedicated to Harold Lommer
Helpmate in 3 moves
1. Kd5 Nb1
2. Kc4 e8=Q
3. Kb3 Qb5 mate
2. Construction Task Record, Feenschach 9341 Sep/Oct 1969 dedicated to Karl Fabel
113 unforced stalemate maintenances with Promotion in Play (Pawn promotions count as 4 moves) unforced as W has some moves that do not maintain stalemate, so he is not ‘forced’ to maintain it.
3. Knight’s Tour Chessics 5(180) July, 1978 dedicated to D. Nixon.
Knights tour with
a) All square number on 4th rank
b) maximum of 1-16 in SW quad
c) maximum of 1-32 in W half
We remember Mary Rudge who passed away one hundred and one years this day on Saturday, 22-xi-1919.
She was born in Leominster, Herefordshire on February 6th, 1842. Her father was Henry Rudge (born 1794 in Gloucestershire) who was a surgeon and General Practitioner. Her mother was Eliza Rudge (née Barrett) who was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire in 1802.
Mary was part of a typically large household and according to the 1851 census she had sisters Sarah (23), Caroline (18), Emily H (12), brothers Henry (14) and Alfred (10). Assisting Henry with medical matters was William S Boyce and acting as a “General Servant” was Thomas Rotheroe (18). Their address is given as “21, Middle Marsh, Leominster, Herefordshire, England” (HR6 8UP). According to HM Land Registry : “Middlemarsh is in the Leominster North & Rural ward of Herefordshire, County of, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.”
By 1861 the household had relocated to 62, Broad Street, Leominster and the servants were James Price (18) whose occupation is given as a Groom and Sarah Gardener (21) who was the House Servant.
Mary moved, “helpless from rheumatism”, at some point, to Truro and then to the British Home for Incurables, Streatham. She died in Guys Hospital, London, on 22 November 1919.
Editor of British Chess Magazine at the time of her obituary was Isaac McIntyre Brown who afforded Mary a pathetic three lines.
“As we go to press we learn with great sorrow of the death, at Streatham last month, of Miss Mary Rudge, winner of the International Ladies’ tournament in 1897.”
Golombek, Hooper&Whyld and Sunnucks are all silent on Rudge.
From Wikipedia :
“Mary Rudge (6 February 1842 in Leominster – 22 November 1919 in London) was an English chess master.
Rudge was born in Leominster, a small town in Herefordshire, England. She began playing chess in a correspondence tournament in 1872. The first mention of over the board competition is in August 1874 when she played in the second class at the Meeting of the Counties’ Chess Association at Birmingham. After the death of her father, Henry Rudge, she moved to Bristol where she started playing chess seriously.
Rudge was the first woman member of the Bristol Chess Club, which did not allow women to be members of the club until she joined in 1872. She played against Joseph Henry Blackburne, who gave a blindfold simultaneous display against ten opponents. The following year she played in another blindfold simultaneous display given by Johannes Hermann Zukertort. In March 1887 she played and drew on board six for Bristol against Bath at the Imperial Hotel in Bristol. At the beginning of 1888, Rudge played and won on board six for Bristol & Clifton against City Chess & Draughts Club. The following year, she won the Challenge Cup of Bristol & Clifton Chess Club. In 1889, she became the first woman in the world to give simultaneous chess exhibitions. She won the Ladies’ Challenge Cup at Cambridge 1890, and won the second class at the Southern Counties’ tournament at Clifton 1896.”
“First Women’s International Chess Congress
She was a winner of the first Women’s International Chess Congress under the management of the Ladies’ Chess Club of London in conjunction with the Women’s Chess Club of New York. Lady Newnes was president of the Tournament Committee, and Sir George Newnes, Baron Albert Salomon von Rothschild, Mr. Harry Nelson Pillsbury and some others offered prizes. The tournament was played at the Hotel Cecil in the Masonic Hall for six days, but the final rounds were decided at the Ideal Café, the headquarters of the Ladies’ Chess Club, from 22 June to 3 July 1897. Miss Rudge was 55 years old and the oldest of the 20 players, and had substantial experience playing chess at the time. She was a well-known English player, ranking in chess strength with the first class of the leading men’s clubs. She won the event with 18 wins and 1 draw, followed by Signorina Louisa Matilda Fagan (Italy), Miss Eliza Mary Thorold (England), Mrs. Harriet Worrall (USA), Madame Marie Bonnefin (Belgium), Mrs. F.S. Barry (Ireland), Lady Edith Margaret Thomas (England), among others.”
“Over the next years, she took part in various competitions, playing in Bristol and Dublin. In 1898, she played against world champion Emanuel Lasker in a simultaneous display at the Imperial Hotel. Lasker was unable to finish all the games in the time available, and Rudge’s was one of those unfinished. He conceded defeat because he would be lost with best play.”
BCN remembers Hugh Blandford who was a British composer.
Hugh Francis Blandford was born on Wednesday, January 24th in 1917 in South Stoneham, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
On this day Ernest Borgnine was born and an earthquake measuring 6.3 in magnitude struck Anhui Province, China, causing 101 deaths.
Hugh’s father was the Rev Albert Francis Blandford and his mother was Alice Rhoda Crumpton Evans. Hugh had two younger brothers, Philip Thomas. and Evan Arthur.
The family moved to Jamaica and he spent his early childhood there until he was nine years old when they sailed from Kingston, Jamaica with his family to Bristol on board the SS Carare (Elders & Fyffes Line) :
His mother Alice Rhoda Crumpton passed away on 19 July 1964 in Minehead, Somerset, at the age of 79.
His father Rev Albert Francis passed away in December 1967 in Somerset at the age of 79.
He had three children during his marriage to Marjorie Cox.
In 1961 he was awarded the title of “International Judge of the FIDE for Chess Composition”
CM Bent wrote the following obituary in the British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 12 (December), page 532 :
“The modest and self-effacing composer who formerly conducted our Studies column from 1951-1972 died in September. His work as a metallurgist and his family responsibilities allowed him to make periodical contributions over a long span and to offer us many of his own original compositions.
His style, as with his manner, was essentially quiet and it was a rarity for him to compose anything other than wins.
His last voluntary labour was to compile an index for E.G. of all studies published there to date. His loss to the world of of studies will be greatly felt.
The first prize winner below is a classic of exquisite refinement and matches the immaculate handwriting which was always such an elegant feature of his work”
“British study composer and FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies. Born on 24th January 1917. Since July 1951, Hugh Blandford has conducted the Endings Section of the British Chess Magazine. By profession a metallurgist, he was married and had two children. Of his 60 or more studies he was best known for the excelsior theme.”
From Wikipedia :
“Hugh Francis Blandford (24 January 1917 – 20 September 1981) was a chess endgame composer born in Southampton, England.
He spent several years of his childhood in Jamaica with his father, the Reverend Albert Francis (Frank) Blandford, a Minister in the Congregational church, his mother and two younger brothers, Evan Arthur and Philip Thomas Blandford. All three brothers then returned to England and attended Eltham College (the School for the Sons of Missionaries) in South-east London, while their parents remained in Jamaica. He married Marjorie Cox, whom he had worked with during the Second World War.
He played chess from his schooldays and as well as playing, also started to compose original chess endings. He became known in the field of chess endgame studies for a small but elegant body of compositions, expertly edited and published after Hugh’s death by his long-standing chess endings colleague, John Roycroft.
Hugh Blandford was co-inventor with Richard Guy – and, later, with John Roycroft – of the Guy–Blandford–Roycroft code for classifying studies. In July 1951 he began as the endgame study editor for the British Chess Magazine. He was made an International Judge for Chess Composition in 1961.
A metallurgist, he continued to compose chess endgame studies until the end of his life, dying of a heart attack in early retirement in Hatfield, England, on 20 September 1981.”
Remembering Gerald Frank Anderson MBE, DFC (24-ii-1898 23-viii-1984)
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 and 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Judge of FIDE for Compositions (1960). Born on 23rd February 1898. Won the DFC in 1914-18 war. Foreign Office (Retd.) First problem published in 1912, since when he has composed nearly 500 problems, mostly 3 and 4 movers. but has latterly switched to Fairy chess problems. He is one of the the great reflex and self-mate composers. Edited a section Chess Amateur 1921, Nottinghamshire Weekly Guardian 1937-1938, Anglo-Portuguese News 1945-1946, and Self-Mate Section of The Problemist 1964-1966. Author of Are There Any? a book about Kriegspiel problems and A Memorial Volume of Chess Problems of VL Eaton.”
His MBE was awarded in the 1959 New Year Honours list. The citation reads : “Gerald Frank Anderson, DFC, Second Secretary, Her Majesty’s Embassy, Washington.”
From chessgames.com :
“G. F. Anderson, in 1946, was working in the British Embassy in Lisbon, and, as a highly skilled chess player (he was also known for composing chess problems as early as 1919), was nominated to deliver the challenge from Botvinnik to Alekhine. He played a game with the World Champion in the Embassy and it became the last recorded game by Alekhine.”
From British Chess (Pergamon, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson we have an article written by John Rice :
BCN wishes happy birthday to Barry Barnes (01-viii-1937)
Barry Peter Barnes was born in Brighton and his mother’s maiden name was Simpole. (Barry is a cousin of Julian Ivan Peter Simpole, who was a Brighton school teacher and who taught Edward Gerard Winter to play chess).
Barry now lives in Halling, Rochester, Kent with his wife Jean.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master of FIDE for Chess Compositions (1967) and International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions (1967).
Born on 1st August 1937, Barnes works in transport advertising. He has composed about 250 two-move problems. With Lipton and Rice, he has contributed to the advance of the modern two-mover. Problem Editor of Two-Move and Twin sections of The Problemist. Co-author with M.Lipton and JM Rice of The Two-Move Chess Problem : Tradition and Development (Faber and Faber 1966).
“A promising career as a county chess player came to an end when I was given Brian Harley’s classic book Mate in Two Moves in the belief that it would help my chess, but it had quite the opposite effect. My interest in competitive chess waned, and I was on the road to an an International Master title for problems!
Early influences in my problem career were the weekly chess problem solving competition in The Observer (my first problem published there was in 1955), a teenage friendship with J. M. Rice and M. Lipton (both now lnternational Masters), Herbert Grasemann’s book Problem Schach / with its near revolutionary post-war German problem ideas, and the expert British problemist, A. R. Gooderson who had I but known it only a few years earlier was the officiating master when my Hove Grammar School played Steyning Grammar at chess.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the genuinely original problems I was making in cooperation and in competition with Rice and Lipton were being published mostly abroad in such specialist problem magazines as Die Schwatbe (with its inspired two-move editor, Hermann Albrecht) where I gained the epithet,the English prize-snatcher’! It was also written that the work of the avant_garde composers, Rice, Lipton and Barnes, was like a fresh two-move wind blowing from our island. It was sad but true at that time that the specialist magazine of the British Chess problem Society (founded 1918), The problemist, was unreceptive to change and our often bizarre ideas.
A milestone of sorts was reached when I won lst prize for problem I in 1958, a prize for the best new problem by a member of the British Commonwealth aged under 21. In 1966, I was invited by problemist Grandmaster Comins Mansfield, who was President of the FIDE Problem Commission, to act as Secretary at the Barcelona meeting. With Mr. Mansfield’s retirement, I became the British Member to the Commission, and at the Wiesbaden meeting, 1974, I was elected 2nd Vice-President. (1st Vice-President from 1982)
The FIDE Problem Commission meets annually to discuss matters relating to all branches of problem chess, to organize the World Chess Composing Tournament (WCCT), the World Chess Solving Competition (WCSC), and to publish FIDE Album anthologies of the best problems. It was on the strength of my success in these FIDE Albums that the Commission granted me the titles in 1967 of ‘lnternational Master of the FIDE for Chess Composition’ and ‘lnternational Judge of the FIDE for Chess Composition’. Since 1974, I have been Chairman of the Titles Sub-Committee of the Commission.
Since 1965, I have been the two-move editor of The Problemist and have served almost without break on the BCPS Committee. I have contributed to The Encyclopaedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks (Robert Hale, 1970), I am co-author, with J. M. Rice and M. Lipton, of The Two-Move Chess Problem: Tradition & Development‘ (Faber A Faber, 1966), and I am the sole author of Comins Mansfield MBE: Chess Problems of a Grandmaster: (British Chess Problem Society, 1976) and Pick of the Best Chess Problems (Elliot Right Way Books, 1976)
To date I have made just over 300 two-movers and some helpmates.”
English study composer and author, International Judge of Chess Compositions (1959), Computer systems analyst.
In 1965 he founded EG, quarterly publication which became the world’s first and only long-running magazine devoted wholly to studies.
His Test Tube Chess (1972), the best English language guide to the art of studies., was revised and republished as The Chess Endgame Study (1981).
Studies are commonly classified by means of the GBR code of which he was co-inventor.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“FIDE Judge of Endgame Studies. Born on 25th July 1929. Founder of the Chess Endgame Study Circle in London in March 1965.and its quarterly magazine EG, the first and only publication exclusively devoted to the composed chess ending. Roycroft who is a computer systems analyst and lives in London, has composed about 20 endgame studies.”
BCN sends best wishes to John Michael Rice on his birthday, July 19th in 1937.
John was born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, North Riding, his mother’s maiden name was Blake. John lives in Surbiton, Surrey and teaches Modern Languages at Tiffin School, Kingston-Upon-Thames.
From An ABC of Chess Problems :
“The author is one of the country’s most prolific foremost composers and problem critics. He has gained mainly tourney honours, both at home and abroad, and since 1961 has been editor of a flourishing problem section in the British Chess Magazine, the country’s leading chess periodical. He lives in London and teaches Modern Languages at Tiffin School, Kingston-Upon-Thames.”
From chesscomposers.blogspot.com :
John Rice was the chief editor of the problems section of the “British Chess Magazine” from 1961 until 1974 and is a faithful collaborator of “The Problemist“. He has written “Chess Problem: Introduction to an Art” (1963) together with Robin Matthews and Michael Lipton and “The Two-Move Chess Problem” (1966), “Serieshelpmates” (1978) with Anthony Dickins or “Chess Wizardry: The New ABC of Chess Problems” (1996).
Translated from https://peoplepill.com/people/john-michael-rice/ :
“Since the mid-fifties he has composed problems of all kinds, but above all in two moves. In the 1960s he was editor of the problems section of the British Chess Magazine. Since 1999 he has been editor of The Problemist magazine.
International Master of Composition since 1969 and International Judge for Composition since 1972.
President of the PCCC (Permanent Commission for Chess Composition) from 2002 to 2006.
He worked as a teacher of modern languages in a school in Kingston-upon-Thames.
Together with Barry Barnes and Michael Lipton he wrote the book Chess Problems: Introduction to an Art (Faber & Faber, London 1963).
He composes mostly direct mates, but can composes as well in other genres, including fairies. He is an International Judge for twomovers, helpmates and fairy problems and the former President of the PCCC from 2004 until 2006.
John was awarded the title of “International Grandmaster for chess compositions” in 2015.
“I was taught the moves of chess in 1947 at the age of ten and quickly realised that I liked the game no more than Ludo or Snakes and Ladders where the chances of losing seemed to me unfairly high. But the chess pieces and their moves fascinated me, so it is hardly surprising that before long I had turned to problems and become an ardent fan of Brian Harley in his Observer column, especially as I had come across and paid two shillings (!) for his Mate in Two Moves in a second-hand bookshop in Reigate. Harley, together with T. R. Dawson in the British Chess Magazine and C. S. Kipping in CHESS, provided the sources of my first solving pleasure and the inspiration for my first efforts at composition. Among my early successes was problem l, heavily constructed but strategically rich, a first prizewinner in a tournament for composers under 21, one of a series organised by the British Chess Problem Society.
I had grown up in Scarborough (Yorkshire), out of contact with other problem enthusiasts, and a chance meeting in December, 1954 with Michael Lipton in Cambridge, where we were both taking Scholarship examinations, brought the realisation that there was far more to the two-move chess problem than the solidly entrenched traditionalism espoused in those days by the columns of The Problemist and CHESS. Very soon the bulk of my output was in the modern style (with set and try-play) and published abroad, notably in Die Schwalbe, whose two-move editor, Hermann Albrecht, did much to stimulate my interest. Problem 2 gained a coveted prize in an extremely strong formal tournament judged by Michael
Lipton, following an article of his on the potentialities of the half-battery theme (illustrated here by the arrangement on the c-file).
5th prize, 133rd Theme Tournament, Die Schwalbe, 1961.
The half-battery is only one of several themes which have commanded my attention over the past 20 years, others being white self-pin in try and key (illustrated by problem 3), Grimshaw and Nowotny (problem 4), reciprocal and cyclic play (problem V, the first published example of cyclic mates in three phases), pawn-promotion effects, and tasks of various types, especially open gates. My total problem output numbers about 600.
The Tablet, Commended, BCPS Ring Tournament 1958; Brian Harley Award
In 1961 I took over from S. Sedgwick the editorship of the problem section of the British Chess Magazine, which post I held until December, 1974. It was a source of pride to me that I was now doing the job once done by the great T. R Dawson, though I knew that I could never bring to it the same tireless energy and all-round expertise which he had displayed so impressively. At about the same time I embarked with Michael Lipton and Robin Matthews on a venture which was to have repercussions throughout the entire problem world,
namely a series of books on problems published by Faber and Faber. The first, Chess Problems: Introduction to an Art (Lipton, Matthews and Rice), appeared in 1963, and was followed three years later by The Two-move Chess Problem: Tradition and Development, also with Michael Lipton, but this time the third collaborator was Barry Barnes, who has long been a close friend and influence. The third book in the series, An ABC of Chess Problems (1970), was a solo effort.
My interest in Fairy Chess dates from a meeting in the mid-1960s with the late John Driver, whose enthusiasm for the pleasures to be derived from non-orthodox forms I found highly infectious. Fairy problems soon began to appear in the BCM column and were favourably received. The serieshelpmate, where White remains stationary while Black plays a sequence of moves to reach a position where White can mate in one, has perhaps interested me more than any other non-orthodox form (see problem Vl), and in 1971 I collaborated with Anthony Dickins to produce a book on the subject, The Serieshelpmate (published by the Q Press, first edition 1971, second edition 1978).
1st Prize, Problem 37th Theme Tournament, 1961-62
White mates in 2
Set: 1…Kc6; 2. Qe8 (A)
1…Ke6; 2. Qc8 (B)
Try: 1.Nb6+?, Kc6;2.Qc8 (B)
Key : 1.Nf6+! Kc6;2.Qd6 (C)
Since 1974 my problem activities have necessarily been restricted by the demands of family life (wife and two sons, none of them much interested in chess) and my career (schoolmaster, formerly Head of Modern Languages Department and now Director of Studies at Tiffin School, Kingston Upon Thames. Other leisure-time interests (not that there is much leisure time) include cricket and classical music.”
“International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions, Chandler, who was born on 21st August 1889, has composed about 125 two and three-move problems, all in traditional style. Some 30 have gained tourney honours. He was the chess editor of the Hampshire Telegraph and Post from 1911-1921 and he was a founder member of the British Chess Problem Society, Its Hon. Secretary from 1919 – 1925 and Hon. Secretary and Treasurer since 1951.
“Brian Harley composed mostly two- or threemovers and wrote many books to make chess problems more popular: for instance his “Mate in Two Moves” inspired Geoff Foster’s first steps into problemdom.
Harley’s “The Modern Two-move Chess Problem” written in collaboration with Comins Mansfield is probably the best known of his efforts.
Brian Harley was the inventor of the term “mutate” for the block problems with changed mates. He was the president of the British Chess Problem Society from 1947 until 1949. In his honour, each year the British magazine “The Problemist” awards the best twomover problem with the “Brian Harley” award.”
Here is BHs obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV, Number 9, pages 284 – 287 written by S. Sedgwick :
“With the death of Brian Harley on May 18th,1955, the chess problem is the poorer by an authoritative exponent, and a writer of unusual clarity and popular appeal. His sudden passing at his home at Bognor Regis will be mourned. by a very wide circle of friends; to his wife and son, with whom he enjoyed an enduring happiness, we extend our deep-felt sympathy.
Born at Saffron-Walden, Essex, on October 27th,1883, Harley was educated at Wellingborough and Haileybury. Qualifying as an actuary he entered the National Provident Institution, in whose employment, apart from War Service, he passed his professional life, until his retirement in 1947.
As a player he had initially a considerable reputation, above that enjoyed as a problemist. Two books, Chess and its Stars and Chess for the Fun of it, reflect this aspect of his chess work. When playing was eventually renounced for problems he still retained his love of annotation, bringing to this a wide knowledge, larded by the apt witticism and an approach that was neither superficial yet avoided the pitfalls of pedantry.
His first problem appeared at the age of fifteen, in 1898. Whilst Harley’s early period has some noteworthy items, it lacks the verve and distinction of his later output, following his awakening of interest in the mutate in 1916_and the fertile years following his appointment as Chess Editor of The Observer, London, in 1919. In England under the lead o[ Phillip Williams in the Chess Amateur, the mutate had sprung into,popularity during and after the Great War, with Harley among its ardent exponents. He continued the cult in his Observer column, where he did much to popularize it. It is possibly symbolic that when Williams died in 1922 his travelling board and men should pass to Harley; it would be difficult to find a comparable instrument that has witnessed the genesis of so much concentrated chess devilry, implicit in all mutates, as this board used first by Williams and then by Harley.
In July, 1919, Harley published his system in the Good Companion folder. This paper, the outcome of much thought, attempted to evaluate the constituent parts of a chess problem on a semi-mathematical basis. Point values were set down for the elements in White keys, Black defences thereto, and the resultant White mates, the summation giving values for comparison with other works similarly treated. In an accompanying paper on the block-change it was here that Harley introduced the term “mutate,” the word passing, without cavil, into the current idiom. Under the evocative power of Harley’s work and pen his Observer feature from 1919 onwards has come to rank with the great columns of the past. No composer of substance was absent from its pages and the result is a collection of works and descriptive criticism that has enriched the chess literature of the world. Early on, Harley came to know the late Godfrey Heathcote, and the welcome presence of the great composers name in the column gave it a sublimity possessed by no other comparable English journal. Harley’s comments on his contributors work was one of the many attractive features of his column. He kept the popular approach very much in mind without unduly over-weighting it; this, blended with a brand of humour all his own (often literary in character), and a grasp of essentials drove home the salient points of a problem to the uninitiated solver with a peculiar vividness. He could ‘be incisive when wanted, technical when he pleased, his gentle rebuke for the inferior production or undetected flaw could not be other than well taken, authoritative without ostentation, his succinct criticisms are now legendary to be treasured and repeated when the occasion demands. An incorrigible faddist in his regard for the short threat in the three-mover, Harley seldom admitted this type to his pages, pleading aversion by solvers. He conducted over one hundred solving contests during his column’s life; these weekly battles of wits affording enormous pleasure to all concerned.
To his column came the established composer and the hesitant, possibly young, beginner. To this last group Harley gave every encouragement and unreservedly of his advice and help. There must be few British composers who have not felt his benefit directly, through the medium of his wonderful letters, lit all the way through by the warm glow of an endearing personality.
Harley’s constructive powers brought him to the front rank of the world’s composers. His output of 450 includes long range work in four and five moves and in later years, sui-mates. In the chess-men he found a pliable medium for the realization of an unusual vision and creative gift. In the two-mover he gave to the mutate much substantial and classic work. He appears to have given to this type more specialized attention than any other in the two-move field. Elsewhere in this length his work covers a wide variety of themes with a strong liking for task renderings. A composer with few serious constructive foibles, his mode of expression, in consequence suffered little. His was not the temperament to linger with one theme and squeeze it dry. One or two renderings of the theme on hand and he would pass to the next. Hence the diversity of his work which imbues it with especial charm. To underline this point one could indicate, almost at random, Harley’s entries in the multimate tourney of the Cleveland Chess Bulletin. Certainty the theme had few attractions for him but his entries showed how superbly such problem ideas could be clothed.
In the three-mover Harley has graced both sides of the aesthetic fence, and that with distinction, giving equally to the strategic and model-mate.genre. His friendship with Heathcote however influenced him considerably here and one is inclined to the view, that in this length, Harley held firmly to the eternal values in chess art. In both types Harley attained especially in task renderings, rare heights of complexity and construction. His lighter mood showed to the full-to the incipient solver much of the low cunning of which the three-mover is capable.
He came to the sui in the late forties. When Heathcote was convalescing in London, following an operation, Harley took some specimens with him when he visited his friend The ensuing discussion stimulated Harley to further experiments and the authentic touch of the great master of technique is evident in his work here also. Harley gave many of his works to his own “Observer” column but did not neglect the other sources of publication. To quote his own words his ideal problem was “a mixture of art, science, humour, and puzzlement.” His best work shows brilliantly his love for the integration of the beautiful and the true inner essence and spirit of chess.
His contribution to the literary and technical side of chess problems outside his journalistic work is seen in his two books Mate in Two (1931) and Mate in Three (1943). Mate in Two is stamped with all Harley’s inimitable style and remains a mine of information for all levels. Standing, as it does, mid-way between the old and the new, the book, apart from an absorbing chapter on changed play, reflects and even labours under the influence of the “Good Companion” period. Harley in later editions to a certain extent remedied this deficiency and the book, now long out of print, lies on our shelf, its fundamentals unimpaired, as one of the classic expositions in the art. Mate in Three, written from a’ narrower viewpoint, proved another successful publication. Here Harley entered more controversial ground, crossing swords. with hitherto established theory. The book, although not evoking absolute technical authority, gives a broad and eloquent outline, written from the artistic standpoint, of three-move work fundamentally, with few significant omissions. Made memorable by the inclusion of many works both by Harley and Heathcote, the book is that of a true artist, and is of great importance theoretically as the one modern work devoted to this length by an English author.
A further important contribution to chess problem theory was his thesis on “Black Correction” read before the British Chess Problem Society on November 29th, 1935. In the mid thirties, this thesis, more than anything else, was instrumental in precipitating a flood of work on correction and associated ideas. Readers of this magazine will recall this period, and I trust that this short recapitulation will still the tiresome arguments regarding the choice between “correction” and “continued defences.” Harley’s choice is at once apt and descriptive and it should not be forgotten that here, he touched upon White Correction, an esoteric aristocrat, greeted by ten years or so of utter silence before systematic investigation by the moderns.
Elected President of the British Chess Problem Society in 1947-1949 it so happened that I was its Secretary at the time. We exchanged hundreds of letters on problematic subjects, the scope of his knowledge always affording surprise. The Society benefited enormously from his advice and counsel, and during the somewhat delicate situation arising from the arbitration in the two-move section of the 1948 Olympic Tourney it was with alacrity that one turned to a mind of the calibre of Harley. Coming to the man he was widely read, a Latin scholar, and his knowledge of Dickens was above average; a keen bridge player, an instrumentalist (piano), all the varied facets of his character would come out at some time in his chess writings. His physical presence at any gathering gave it stature. Of medium height, lovable, somewhat dapper, the shrewd contemplative face of this chess Barrie with its ever present cigarette holder and fund of anecdote has enriched and enlivened many a dull Committee Meeting.
On the death of Anthony Guest in 1925, Harley succeeded as Problem Editor of the Morning Post until 1932. In addition he was Problem Editor of Empire Review, 1923-1926, and Time and Tide, from 1951 until his death. Lesser appointments included several technical journals where he acted under pseudonyms. Amusing were the anagrammatical pseudonyms used occasionally for composing in Hilary Bream and Harry Blaine.
Brian’s integrity and character endeared him to innumerable correspondents and solvers. Most of us nourish a characteristic Brian Harley story; one must suffice here. It concerns the time when Brian was introduced to the late Sir John Simon who made the delightful response “l need no introduction for I meet him every Sunday and for years hive wrestled with his problems, eventually solving them in the House of Commons.” For this weekly enrichment of our lives we have much to thank him for.
In middle life Brian married Ella Margaret Beddall; there is one son, Nigel. With his wife, Brian shared many problematic triumphs and it was to her that his various
books were dedicated.
Before closing this brief review of Brian’s achievements a word should be said regarding the summary end of his work in the Observer and a tribute paid by one of his many solvers in this column. On the former it will be regarded with universal regret by all problemists that no arrangements have been made to continue Brian’s incomparable’work in the journal he served with such distinction. Regarding the latter am very grateful to Halford W. L. Reddish, Esq., for an appreciation that admirably epitomizes the feelings of us all on this melancholy occasion.
Mr. Halford Reddish writes-
“l am one of thousands of solvers, from the expert to the merest tyro, who will miss our weekly battle with Brian Harley in the Observer. In the world of chess and chess problems his name and fame are secure. His characteristically titled Chess for the Fun of It is a delightful exposition of the game: his Mate in Two Moves and Mate in Three Moves are classics in their particular field.
To those of us who knew Brian personally his passing leaves an unfillable gap. I had known him and admired him and loved his witty, cheery, kindly personality for many years. He was one of those rare beings who became a close friend even before our first meeting-for we had corresponded for a long time before we first came face to face. And although chess and chess problems were our primary link he had many other interests which kept him young and keen in mind after his retirement from business and which enlarged and enriched his correspondence. It is typical of him that no letter came from him without some mention of his dear wife, who shared to the full his varied interests. To her and to his only son to the deep sympathy of his many friends.”
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