Category Archives: History

Remembering James Macrae Aitken (27-X-1908,03-XII-1983)

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken

We remember James Macrae Aitken who passed away on Saturday, December 3rd, 1983

From Wikipedia :

James Macrae Aitken (27 October 1908 – 3 December 1983) was a Scottish chess player.[1][2] Aitken was born in Calderbank, Lanarkshire, Scotland. In 1938 he received a PhD from Edinburgh University on the topic of ‘The Trial of George Buchanan Before the Lisbon Inquisition’.[3]

Aitken learned chess from his father at age 10.[4] He was Scottish champion in 1935, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1965, the latter jointly with PM Jamieson.[1] He was also London Champion in 1950.[1] In 1959 he had his best result in the British Championship, finishing tied for seventh place.[4] Aitken represented Scotland in four Chess Olympiads. He played top board at Stockholm 1937, scoring only 32.4% but he did defeat Swedish GM Gideon Ståhlberg[4][5] and draw with American GM Samuel Reshevsky.[4] He played second board at Munich 1958 and Tel Aviv 1964, scoring 67.6% and 28.1% respectively. Aitken played sixth board at Skopje 1972, scoring 38.9%.[5]

Aitken represented Great Britain in matches against the USSR and Yugoslavia.[4] In the 1946 radio match between the United Kingdom and the USSR he lost his match with Igor Bondarevsky on board 8.[6] Aitken defeated GM Savielly Tartakower at Southsea 1949[4][7] and GM Efim Bogoljubow at Bad Pyrmont 1951.[4][8]

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken

During World War II, Aitken worked in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park on solving German Enigma machines.[9] On 2 December 1944 Bletchley Park played a 12-board team match against the Oxford University Chess Club. Bletchley Park won the match 8–4 with C.H.O’D. Alexander, Harry Golombek, and Aitken on the top three boards.[10] Aitken wrote many book reviews for the British Chess Magazine.[11] Aside from chess his hobbies included golf, philately, bridge, and watching cricket.[4] He died in Cheltenham in 1983, aged 75.[2]

James Macrae Aitken in 1965 by "Mac"
James Macrae Aitken in 1965 by “Mac”

Another biography may be found here at the wonderful Chess Scotland

James Macrae Aitken
James Macrae Aitken

Remembering IM Robert Wade OBE (10-IV-1921, 29-XI-2008)

IM Robert Graham Wade
IM Robert Graham Wade

We remember IM Robert Graham Wade OBE who passed away on November 29th, 2008.

His detailed wikipedia entry may be found here :

Robert Graham Wade[1] OBE (10 April 1921 Dunedin, New Zealand – 29 November 2008, London), was a New Zealand and British chess player, writer, arbiter, coach, and promoter. He was New Zealand champion three times, British champion twice, and played in seven Chess Olympiads and one Interzonal tournament. Wade held the titles of International Master and International Arbiter.

IM Robert Graham Wade OBE
IM Robert Graham Wade OBE

Wade grew up on a farm in Dunedin, New Zealand, far from the world’s chess centres, and lacked strong competition early in his career. He developed his chess skills from materials in his local library, such as the British Chess Magazine and works by Australian champion Cecil Purdy.

IM Robert Graham Wade OBE
IM Robert Graham Wade OBE

After winning the New Zealand Chess Championship in 1944, 1945 and 1948, he travelled to Europe to further his chess career. International chess was starting up again after a six-year hiatus caused by World War II. For most Masters, it was a matter of dusting off their skills, but Wade had little if any high-class experience to draw upon, so he struggled at first with the new standard. Wade was attempting to become the first international-class player from New Zealand. He played in the British Chess Championship at Nottingham 1946, the first post-war championship, placing tied 10–12th with just 3½/11. His first continental European event was Barcelona 1946, won by Miguel Najdorf; Wade was a tailender with just 3/13 for a tied 12–13th place.[2] Wade played in the Australian Chess Championship at Adelaide 1946–47, placing tied 2nd–4th with 10½/15, with Lajos Steiner winning. Wade travelled as far as Canada to compete in the 1947 Canadian Chess Championship at Quebec City, scoring 7/13 to tie 7–8th places, with Daniel Yanofsky winning.[3]

IM Robert Graham Wade OBE
IM Robert Graham Wade OBE

Better things lay ahead on Wade’s next European foray. He scored 5½/9 at Baarn 1948 for a tied 2nd–3rd place, with Harry Golombek winning. Wade made 3½/9 at Hastings 1948–49 for 8th place, with Nicolas Rossolimo winning.[4] He represented New Zealand and Australia at the FIDE Congress at Paris 1949, which marked the 25th anniversary of the founding of FIDE in Paris in 1924.

IM Robert Graham Wade OBE
IM Robert Graham Wade OBE

Wade played many strong events in 1949, raising his standard significantly with competition against top-class Grandmasters. At Beverwijk 1949, he scored 4½/9 for a tied 6–7th place, with Savielly Tartakower winning. Wade placed 2nd at Arbon 1949 with 6/7, trailing only Ludek Pachman. He struggled at Trencianske Teplice 1949, placing last with 4½/19, as Gideon Ståhlberg won. At Heidelberg 1949, Wade scored 4/9 for a tied 6–8th place, as Wolfgang Unzicker won. Then at Oldenburg 1949, Wade made 8½/18 for 10th place, with Efim Bogolyubov and Elmārs Zemgalis on top.[5] At Southsea 1950, Wade scored 6/10 for a shared 7–13th place, as Arthur Bisguier won. The constant practice led to his best result to date, an excellent shared 5–7th place in a powerful field at Venice 1950 with 8½/15, with Alexander Kotov the champion. This earned Wade the International Master title later that year.[6] Wade drew a 1950 match at Bamberg by 5–5 with Lothar Schmid, and settled in England.

IM Robert Graham Wade OBE
IM Robert Graham Wade OBE

Wade was British Champion in 1952 (at Chester, with 8/11), and 1970 (at Coventry, with 8/11).[7] His other high finishes in the British Championship were 3rd at Hastings 1953 on 7½/11 (with Daniel Yanofsky winning), 2nd at Rhyl 1969 on 7½/11 (with Jonathan Penrose winning), and tied 3rd–6th at Blackpool 1971 on 7/11 (with Raymond Keene winning).[8]

Wade qualified for the Saltsjöbaden Interzonal 1952, scored 6/20, and did not advance to the Candidates level. Wade defeated many-time Scottish champion William Fairhurst in a match at Glasgow 1953 by 5½–2½.[9]

Wade went on to represent his adopted country in six Chess Olympiads, and his country of birth on one occasion. In 92 games, his totals at this level are: (+30−26=36), for 52.2 per cent. His detailed results in Olympiads, from olimpbase.org, follow.

Amsterdam 1954, England board 4, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Moscow 1956, England board 3, 6½/14 (+2−3=9);
Munich 1958, England 1st reserve, 7/14 (+5−5=4);
Leipzig 1960, England 2nd reserve, 6/11 (+4−3=4);
Varna 1962, England 2nd reserve, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Siegen 1970, New Zealand board 2, 9/15 (+7−4=4);
Skopje 1972, England board 3, 7½/14 (+4−3=7).
Wade won several middle-strength Master events in the British Isles: Ilford 1957 and 1968, Paignton 1959, Dublin 1962, and Southend-on-Sea 1965.

Wade was generally no more than a middle-ranking player in strong international tournaments. His other highlights against high-standard international-level competition include:

tied 4–5th at Haifa/Tel Aviv 1958 on 7½/13 (winner Samuel Reshevsky);
3rd at Bognor Regis 1959 on 7/10 (winner Erno Gereben);
5th at Reykjavík 1964 on 7½/13 (winner Mikhail Tal);
tied 4–5th at Málaga 1966 on 7/11; (winners Alberic O’Kelly de Galway and Eleazar Jiménez);
6th at Briseck 1971 on 7/13 (winner Gideon Barcza);
5th at Cienfuegos ‘B’ 1975 on 10/17; (winners Julio Boudy and Amador Rodriguez);
tied 7–12th in the World Senior Championship, Bad Woerishofen 1992, on 7½/11 (winner Efim Geller).
Wade was the only British player to have faced Bobby Fischer in tournament play (outside of Olympiads). They met three times, with Wade drawing one game and losing the other two.

IM Robert Graham Wade OBE
IM Robert Graham Wade OBE

Wade earned the title of International Arbiter in 1958, and made much of his living from directing events. He defeated tournament winner Viktor Korchnoi at Buenos Aires 1960 in a tough game that went through a Queen and Rook middle game to a queen endgame to a final king and pawn endgame. In addition to staying active on the international circuit, Wade served as chess editor with the respected Batsford publishers in the 1960s and 1970s. He eventually retired to make way for Raymond Keene. He managed the Batsford Chess Library after this. Well respected as a chess coach and author, Wade helped Bobby Fischer prepare for his 1972 World Championship match with Boris Spassky by collating a special file of Spassky’s games. He was awarded an OBE for services to chess in 1979. He was made an ‘Honorary Member’ of FIDE, the World Chess Federation. He declined to “trade in” his International Master title for that of honorary Grandmaster, considering his title, awarded in the days before title inflation, far more valuable.

Continuing to be an active player into his 80s, Wade was still able to play at a high level. This is shown by his performance at the 2006 Queenstown Chess International, where he scored 6/10 with only one loss, and drew his game against Grandmaster Murray Chandler. Wade played in the European Senior Teams chess championship six times between 2002 and 2006.[10][11] His last major event was the Staunton Memorial in London in July 2008, where he was badly outrated (a single draw would have increased his Elo rating), and he fought gamely but scored 0/11. A few weeks before his death, he played his final serious game, for the Athenaeum Chess Club.

Wade built up an enormous chess library at his house in South London, which included books, magazines and many original bulletins from tournaments: these latter were the primary sources for many types of chess literature. The growth of this library was supported by B.T. Batsford. Eventually the library was given to the nation, though its eventual destination is not certain at present. In the days before computer databases the Wade library was often used by British and foreign players in preparation for matches.[12]

Wade was hospitalized on 26 November 2008, with severe pneumonia and died on 29 November 2008.[13][14]

IM Robert Wade OBE
IM Robert Wade OBE

Remembering Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins (01-XI-1914, 25-XI-1987)

Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins
Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins

We remember Anthony Stewart Mackay Dickins who passed away this day (Wednesday, November 25th) in 1987.

From http://chesscomposers.blogspot.com/2012/10/november-1st.html

we have

Anthony Dickins wrote “A Guide to Fairy Chess” (1967, read it here) 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.

A Guide to Fairy Chess
A Guide to Fairy Chess
100 Classics of the Chessboard
100 Classics of the Chessboard

Remembering Reverend John Owen (08-IV-1827, 24-XI-1901)

Reverend John Owen
Reverend John Owen

We remember Reverend John Owen (08-IV-1827, 24-XI-1901)

From Wikipedia :

John Owen (8 April 1827 – 24 November 1901) was an English vicar and strong amateur chess master. He ranked among the world’s top ten chess players for certain periods of the 1860s.[1]. He was a major figure in English chess from the mid 1850s to the 1890s.

Owen was born in Marchington, and obtained his early schooling at Repton School, Derbyshire. In 1850 he graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge, and received his M.A. from Cambridge three years later.[2] He was ordained by the Church of England in 1851, and served as Vicar of Hooton, Cheshire from 1862 to his retirement in 1900.[3]

In 1858 he won a chess game against the young American master Paul Morphy, the world’s best player, who was then touring Europe.

This led to a match between the two. Despite being given odds of pawn and the move (meaning he started the game with an extra pawn and always moved first), Owen lost the match 6–1, never winning a game.

His performance in the very strong 1862 London tournament, the first international round-robin event (in which each participant plays every other) was more impressive. He finished third, ahead of future world champion Wilhelm Steinitz, and was the only player to win against the eventual tournament winner, Adolf Anderssen. Louis Paulsen placed second. This result was arguably Owen’s top lifetime chess achievement.

Owen continued to play frequently and often successfully in British tournaments into the 1890s, and performed strongly in several matches against top British players, who were essentially chess professionals. He never competed outside the British Isles. He died in Twickenham.

Owen is the eponym of Owen’s Defence, a chess opening characterised by the moves 1.e4 b6. Owen was the first strong player to play this frequently, including in his victory over Morphy.

A much fuller biography may be found at the excellent Yorkshire Chess History web site

Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.
Amos Burn (left) and Rev. John Owen circa 1885.

Birthday Wishes Peter Lee

Peter Nicholas Lee
Peter Nicholas Lee

We wish Peter Nicholas Lee all the best on his birthday, this day (November 21st) in 1943.

From Wikipedia :

Peter Nicholas Lee (born 21 November 1943)[1] is an English chess player who won the British Chess Championship in (Hastings : BCN) 1965 . Born in London and educated at Exeter College, Oxford, he represented Oxford University in the Varsity chess matches of 1963, 1964, 1965, and 1966, and represented England in the Chess Olympiads of 1966, 1968, and 1970.

Peter Nicholas Lee (to the left of RD Keene)
Peter Nicholas Lee (to the left of RD Keene)

Later, he turned to contract bridge, at which he has also been highly successful. He has won the English Bridge Union’s National Pairs title four times, the first time in 2003, and has also been a member of the team that won the Gold Cup, the premier teams event in Britain, in 2003 and 2011. This makes him the only person who has won British championships in both chess and bridge.

As a consultant in medical statistics and epidemiology, he has also published over 200 papers, many on the effects of tobacco on health.[2]

PN Lee playing JH Donner in the 1966 Zonal at The Hague. Peter just played 7.h4
PN Lee playing JH Donner in the 1966 Zonal at The Hague. Peter just played 7.h4

Peter reached a peak Elo rating of 2390 aged 47 in July 1990 according to MegaBase 2020.

According to Paul Littlewood currently Peter “plays Bridge for Surrey and chess for the Athenaeum in London”.

PN Lee (Standing, top left)
PN Lee (Standing, top left)

Emanuel Lasker : A Reader : A Zeal to Understand

Emanuel Lasker: A Reader
Emanuel Lasker: A Reader

Emanuel Lasker: A Reader: A Zeal to Understand : Taylor Kingston

Taylor Kingston

Taylor Kingston has been a chess enthusiast since his teens. He holds a Class A over-the-board USCF rating, and was a correspondence master in the 1980s, but his greatest love is the game’s history. His historical articles have appeared in Chess Life, New In Chess, Inside Chess, Kingpin, and the Chess Café website. He has edited numerous books, including the 21st-century edition of Lasker’s Manual of Chess, and translations from Spanish of The Life and Games of Carlos Torre, Zurich 1953: 15 Contenders for the World Championship, and Najdorf x Najdorf. He considers the Lasker Reader to be the most challenging and interesting project he has undertaken to date.

 

Taylor Kingston
Taylor Kingston

When I’m asked who my favourite chess player is, I always answer ‘Emanuel Lasker’.

Why? Partly because he was a player who didn’t really have a style. Like Magnus Carlsen, with whom he has sometimes been compared, he just played chess. But more because he was such an interesting personality. Unlike most champions (Euwe and Botvinnik were exceptions) he had a life outside chess, on several occasions taking long breaks from the game. And what a life it was: mathematician, philosopher, writer, playwright, bridge player, and, lest we forget, chess player.

Chess historians are finally taking notice of this fascinating man. In 2009 a massive volume about him was published in German, edited by Richard Forster and others. Last year the first of three volumes of a greatly expanded edition of this work appeared in English. If you have any interest at all in chess history you should certainly possess this book, and, like me, you’ll be eagerly looking forward to volumes 2 and 3.

What we have here might best be seen as a companion to this work, and, if you’re a Lasker fan or have any interest in chess history you’ll want this as well.

Taylor Kingston has compiled and edited a collection of Lasker’s own writings, not just on chess but covering every aspect of his multi-faceted personality.

We start with the London Chess Fortnightly, which Lasker published for a year between 1892 and 1893, annotating his own games as he was trying to establish himself as a contender for Steinitz’s world title. Here and throughout the book, the editor adds the occasional contribution from Stockfish 8.

Lasker and Steinitz met in 1894, with our hero becoming the second official world champion as a result of winning the match. Both players annotated some of the games for newspaper columns. In 1906 Lasker published this in his chess magazine, which we’ll come to later, but in this book they appear in the correct chronological place.

The Hastings 1895 tournament book (if you don’t have a copy I’d like to know why) was unusual in that all the games were annotated by one of the other participants. The six games Lasker annotated feature here.

Lasker’s first book, Common Sense in Chess, was published the following year. We have here an extract from Chapter 9, the End Game.

We then jump forward to 1904. The longest and, for chess players, perhaps the most interesting section of the book covers Lasker’s Chess Magazine, which was published in New York between November 1904 and January 1909. The games themselves give the reader an overview of chess during those years, with amateurs as well as masters being represented. Lasker’s annotations and, in some cases, game introductions, were often colourful in nature and tell us a lot about the man himself.

Burn-Forgacs (Ostend 1906), for instance, ‘begins like a summer breeze and ends like a winter’s gale’.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Nf6 4. Bg5 Nbd7 5. e3 c6 6. Nf3 Qa5 7. Nd2 Ne4 8. Ndxe4 dxe4 9. Bh4 e5 10. Be2 f5 11. O-O g6 12. c5

‘Here the red lantern flashes out; queen and bishop prepare to take the diagonal from b3 to e6 and f7, which are woefully weak, and the black king will be in grave peril.’

12… Bg7 13. Qb3 Nf8 14. Bc4 Qc7 15. d5 h6 16. d6 Qd7 17. Be7 Ne6 18. Nb5 cxb5 19. Bxb5 1-0

Another major chapter concerns the 1908 Lasker-Tarrasch world championship match. After some details of the background to the match (there was little love lost between the two players: Edward Lasker quoted Tarrasch as saying ‘the only words I will address to him are check and mate!). Taylor Kingston presents the games with annotations from Lasker’s Chess Magazine, Tarrasch’s book of the match and other contemporary sources, along with the usual computer interjections.

We then have a chapter on Lasker’s unsuccessful 1921 match against Capablanca, and another on his non-appearance at New York 1927. Lasker’s Manual of Chess was first published in German in 1926: here we have an excerpt in which he discusses the theory of Steinitz.

Lasker’s chess writings are completed by an article on Lasker and the Endgame by guest contributor Karsten Müller, and a short section on Lasker’s problems and endgame studies.

The last 75 pages of the book consider other aspects of Lasker’s life: his philsophy, his contributions to mathematics, and Lasca, a board game he invented.

Perhaps the most interesting section offers extracts from The Philosophy of the Unattainable, his most important philosophical work, published in 1919. As far as Taylor Kingston is aware, it has never been published in English.

Lasker’s last work, The Community of the Future, was published in 1940, five months before his death. Here, Lasker considers the problems faced by the world and proposes a ‘non-competitive community’ as his solution, with ‘self-hope co-operatives’ to deal with unemployment. Again, fascinating reading, and, you might think, his utopian ideas are still of some relevance today.

The book is a well-produced paperback. There are a few notation errors caused by translation from descriptive to algebraic, but this shouldn’t cause you too much bother. I hope I’ve convinced you that this book deserves a place on your shelves.

Richard James, Twickenham 20 November 2019

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Softcover : 400 pages
  • Publisher: Russell Enterprises (19 April 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1949859002
  • ISBN-13: 978-1949859003
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.5 x 25.4 cm

Official web site of Russell Enterprises

Emanuel Lasker: A Reader: A Zeal to Understand
Emanuel Lasker: A Reader: A Zeal to Understand

Remembering Gordon Thomas Crown, (20-VI-1929, 17-XI-1947)

Gordon Thomas Crown with Julius Du Mont observing
Gordon Thomas Crown with Julius Du Mont observing

We remember Gordon Thomas Crown who died this day (November 17th) in 1947

We have reproduced his obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXVII (1947), Number 12 (December), Page 387-8 and we assume that this was written by the then editor, Julius du Mont :

Obituary of Gordon Thomas Crown, part one
Obituary of Gordon Thomas Crown, part one

and

Obituary of Gordon Thomas Crown, Part Two
Obituary of Gordon Thomas Crown, Part Two

We are grateful to Leonard Barden on the identity of T.J.B. :

“Thomas John Beach, wartime RAF navigator with Distinguished Flying Cross, leading light of Liverpool chess, regular British championship player for many years, chairman of BCF junior selectors, father of a leading Midlands expert, a good and dedicated man” TJB was the father of Richard Beach who won the British Boys Under 18 title in 1961.

From Wikipedia :

Gordon Thomas Crown (20 June 1929 – 17 November 1947)[1] was a promising British chess player who died of appendicitis at the age of eighteen. He is best known for his win against the Russian Grandmaster Alexander Kotov shortly before his death.

Crown was born in Liverpool in 1929. He finished second in the British under 18 championship in 1946 and improved rapidly, winning the Premier Reserve section of the 1946/7 Hastings International Chess Congress. This led to his being placed on the reserve list for the 1947 British Chess Championship. Following the withdrawal of the defending champion Robert Forbes Combe,[2] he was allowed to play in the championship, where he finished third (Harry Golombek won).

Consequently, he was selected to play for the British team in the 1947 Britain-USSR match, where he caused a sensation by defeating the Soviet Grandmaster Alexander Kotov, though he lost the return game. He also defeated Max Gellis in a Britain-Australia radio match.

Gordon Thomas Crown, from CHESS, 1948, January, page 86
Gordon Thomas Crown, from CHESS, 1948, January, page 86

On 17 November 1947 he was admitted to hospital, complaining of a stomach upset. Diagnosed too late with appendicitis, complicated by his diabetes, he died in the operating theatre.[3][4]

His friend (and former British champion) Leonard Barden speculates that had he lived, Crown would have become at least a strong Grandmaster, further noting that he was ” … open, friendly and modest as well as a clear and enthusiastic explainer of his chess ideas; I think he would have been like Keres or Gligoric in their countries, a model for our young players.”[3]

Harry Golombek was similarly impressed with Crown’s play, stating that “In his short life, he had already shown himself to be of master strength and was potentially a very great player.”[5]

We are grateful to be able to use comments from long time friend, Leonard Barden posted under the nom de plume of Roberts Partner on chessgames.com :

“As to the circumstances of Crown’s death. The finger of blame must be pointed at the family doctor for failing to make a timely correct diagnosis. On Sunday 16 November 1947 a chess friend visited the Crown home at Ingledene Road, Liverpool, and found Crown in bed. He explained that his doctor had diagnosed a stomach upset and had recommended rest. The friend and Crown played and analysed together for several hours, and Crown did not appear in any physical discomfort. But that night sfter the friend left his condition deteriorated and he was rushed to hospital where he died in the early morning hours of 17 November. There was also a belief among some Liverpool chess players that the hospital procedures could have been better.”

and

“On another thread some CG posters expressed surprise at the Ritson Morry v Crown game where Morry fell into a well-known opening trap.

The British championship at Harrogate in August 1947 was played in a spa building where the underfloor heating was still switched on. This coincided with one of the warmest summers on record (it was the year in which Compton and Edrich made their memorable cricket achievements for Middlesex). By the second week of the BCF congress older and overweight players (the latter group including Ritson Morry) were wilting. Ritson also had some long adjourned games, and by the time of his game with Crown in the final round was exhausted. The game finished in 15-20 minutes so by the time other players went to spectate after their opening moves there was just a reset board with no sign of the players and no indication of what had transpired. Other final round results went Crown’s way so that he finished third outright and thus got selected on a high board for the USSR match.”

and here is an article by ddtru (?) in chess.com : full article

We are grateful to renowned chess historian, Taylor Kingston for supplying these scans of an article from Chess Life in 1947 about Gordon Crown written by Reuben Fine :

Chess Life article about Gordon Thomas Crown, Part One
Chess Life article about Gordon Thomas Crown, Part One

and

Chess Life article about Gordon Thomas Crown, Part Two
Chess Life article about Gordon Thomas Crown, Part Two
Gordon Thomas Crown
Gordon Thomas Crown

Remembering Edward Guthlac Sergeant (3-XII-1881, 16-XI-1961)

We remember Edward Guthlac Sergeant (3-XII-1881, 16-XI-1961)

From Wikipedia :

Edward Guthlac Sergeant (3 December 1881, Crowland, Lincolnshire[1] – 16 November 1961, Kingston upon Thames) was an English chess master.

He participated many times in the British Chess Championship, London City championship, and Hastings International Chess Congress. In 1907, he tied for 2nd-5th in London (British-ch, Henry Ernest Atkins won). He won or shared 1st at London 1913, London 1915/16 (won a playoff match against Theodor Germann),[2] London 1916, Hastings 1919 (Minor), Bromley 1920, and Broadstairs 1921.[3] He tied for 2nd-3rd with Harry Golombek at Brighton 1938 (British-ch, Conel Hugh O’Donel Alexander won).

He was a second cousin of Philip Walsingham Sergeant.[4] In 1949 he was awarded the OBE in the Birthday Honours in recognition of his 39 years’ service in the office of the Solicitor to the Board of Inland Revenue. He was the author of a leading work on Stamp Duty.[5]

Sergeant on Stamp Duties
Sergeant on Stamp Duties

and from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXII, March, 1962, Number 3, pages 76 -80 we reproduce an obituary from Bruce Hayden entitled “E.G. Sargeant – An Appreciation” as follows :

Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part one
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part one
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part two
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part two
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part three
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part three
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part four
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part four
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part five
Edward Guthlac Sergeant, part five

Remembering Anthony John Miles (23-IV-1955, 12-XI-2001)

GM Anthony John Miles
GM Anthony John Miles

We remember one of the most innovative and best loved English players of all time, Anthony John Miles.

(Text) from Wikipedia :

Personal life

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles was an only child, born 23 April 1955 in Edgbaston, a suburb of Birmingham, and attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham.[1][2] He was married and divorced twice, and had no children.[1] Miles’ first wife was Jana Hartston, who had previously been married to William Hartston.[2]

Early achievements in chess
He learned the game of chess early in life and made good progress nationally, taking the titles of British under-14 Champion and under-21 Champion in 1968[1] and 1971,[3][4] respectively.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

In 1973, Miles won the silver medal at the World Junior Chess Championship at Teesside, his first important event against international competition. Both he and compatriot Michael Stean defeated the tournament winner Alexander Beliavsky, but were unable to match the Soviet player’s ruthlessness in dispatching lesser opponents. Miles went on to win this prestigious title the following year in Manila, while a mathematics undergraduate of the University of Sheffield.[1][2]

Taking the decision to pursue the game professionally, Miles did not complete his studies, but, in 1975, was awarded an MA by the University in respect of his chess achievements.[2]

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Further career highlights
In 1976, Miles became the first UK-born, over-the-board chess grandmaster, narrowly beating Raymond Keene to the accolade.[2] The naturalised, German-born Jacques Mieses was awarded the GM title in 1950, while Keith Bevan Richardson had been awarded the GM title for correspondence chess earlier in 1975. For his achievement, Miles won a £5,000 prize, put up by wealthy businessman and chess backer Jim Slater.[1][2]

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles had a string of good results in the late 1970s and 1980s. He matured into a world class player and won games against high calibre opponents, such as former World Chess Champions Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal and Boris Spassky.

In 1980 at the European Team Championship in Skara, he beat reigning World Champion Anatoly Karpov with Black, using the extremely unorthodox opening 1. e4 a6!?, the St. George Defence. It is often said that Miles learned the line from offbeat openings enthusiast Michael Basman, but in his book Play the St. George, Basman asserts there is no truth to this. Miles beat Karpov again three years later in Bath in a game that was part of the BBC’s Master Game series, but it was shown only by the (co-producing) German television network, due to a BBC technicians’ strike at the time of broadcast.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles won the British Championship just once, in 1982 when the event was held in Torquay. His prime time as a chess player was the mid-1980s. On 20 May 1984 in Roetgen (Germany), Miles set a European record in blind simultaneous chess with 22 games (+10−2=10);[5] this record was not broken until 2009. On the January 1984 Elo rating list, he ranked No. 18 in the world with a rating of 2599. One of his best results occurred at the Tilburg tournament in 1984, where, from a strong field, he emerged sole winner by a clear margin of one and one-half points. The following year, he tied for first at the same event with Robert Hübner and Viktor Korchnoi, playing several of his games while lying face down on a table, having injured his back.[6]

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

The result was controversial, as many of Miles’ opponents felt they were distracted by the unusual circumstances. A string of good performances culminated in a good showing on the January 1986 Elo rating list, where he climbed to a best-ever position of World No. 9 with a rating of 2610. During this period, there was considerable rivalry with Nunn over who was the United Kingdom’s best player, the two protagonists regularly leapfrogging each other in the world rankings. Nigel Short and Speelman soon added to the competition, as the English national squad entered its strongest period.

Anthony John Miles & friends
Anthony John Miles & friends

Never able to qualify out of the Interzonal stages into the Candidates’ series, Miles eventually lost the race to become the first British Candidate when Short did so in 1985. However, he retained top board for England at the Thessaloniki and Dubai Olympiads of 1984 and 1986, helping the team to silver medals at each.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Against Garry Kasparov, Miles had little success, not winning a game against him, and losing a 1986 match in Basel by the score of 5½–½. Following this encounter, Miles commented “I thought I was playing the world champion, not a monster with a thousand eyes who sees everything” (some sources alternatively quote Miles as having the opinion that Kasparov had 22 or 27 eyes).

Kasparov & Miles
Kasparov & Miles

Miles on a stretcher with back pain, playing in Tilburg (1985)
After he was hospitalised because of a mental breakdown in late 1987, Miles moved to the United States. He finished last in the 1988 U.S. Championship, but continued to play there and had some good results. In 1991, he played in the Championship of Australia, but eventually moved back to England and began to represent his native country again. He was equal first at the very strong Cappelle-la-Grande Open in 1994, 1995, and 1997, and caused a shock at the PCA Intel Rapid Chess Grand Prix in London in 1995, when he knocked out Vladimir Kramnik in the first round and Loek van Wely in the second. His bid to win the event was finally halted in the semifinal by English teammate Michael Adams.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

There were four notable victories at the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba (1994, 1995, 1996, and 1999). Miles also tied for first in the 1999 Continental Open in Los Angeles with Alexander Beliavsky, Ľubomír Ftáčnik and Suat Atalık. His last tournament victory was the 2001 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

Miles entered and played at the 2001 British Championship in Scarborough, but withdrew before the final round, apparently because of ill health. His final two games before his death were short draws in the Four Nations Chess League. Miles played in an extraordinary number of chess events during his career, including many arduous weekend tournaments.

Anthony John Miles
Anthony John Miles

The Miles Variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Bf4) in the Queen’s Indian Defence is named after him.

Remembering Fred Dewhirst Yates (16-I-1884, 11-XI-1932)

Fred Dewhirst Yates
Fred Dewhirst Yates

We remember Fred (not Frederick) Dewhirst (not Dewhurst) Yates who passed, this day (November 11th) in 1932.

From Wikipedia : (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Yates_(chess_player))

Yates almost won the British Championship in 1911, when he tied for first place with Henry Atkins, but lost the play-off. He went on to secure the title in 1913, 1914, 1921, 1926, 1928 and 1931.[2]

Despite considerable domestic success, his record in international tournaments did not do him justice. Often the winner against his strongest opponents, he would then lose to those at the bottom of the table. This was particularly apparent at the Budapest tourney of 1926.

His lack of consistency was attributed to poor health and loss of stamina. A constant hacking cough went unchecked, as his funds did not stretch to a holiday in warmer climes; the advice given by his doctor. He was also subjected to journalistic pressures, frequently reporting on the tournaments in which he was playing. Yet, dedicating himself to the playing side of chess would have earned him insufficient sums to make a living. A number of his contemporaries believed that his talent could have placed him among the world championship contenders, had his circumstances been different. Nevertheless, in his time, he defeated most of his illustrious adversaries, the most notable exceptions being Emanuel Lasker and José Raúl Capablanca. His victory against Alexander Alekhine at Karlsbad in 1923 won the brilliancy prize, while his win against Milan Vidmar at San Remo in 1930 was described by Alekhine as the finest game played since the war.[3]

Fred Dewhirst Yates, Jacoby Archive
Fred Dewhirst Yates, Jacoby Archive

As a journalist he was the chess columnist of the Manchester Guardian and with William Winter, the co-author of Modern Master Play (1929). He wrote accounts of two world championship encounters; those between Alekhine and Capablanca, and Alekhine and Bogoljubow.[4]

In team competition, he played at the first, third and fourth Olympiads, representing the ‘British Empire’ team. On each occasion, he made a plus score and at London 1927, earned a team bronze medal.[5]

His life ended prematurely, when a leaking gas pipe caused him to asphyxiate during his sleep.[6]

According to the inscription on Yates’ gravestone,[7] his birth name was actually Fred Dewhirst Yates. However, throughout his chess career he was known by the name at the head of this article or simply as F.D. Yates, both of which featured in his posthumously published, part-biographical, ‘My Best Games’ Collection.[8]

Fred Dewhirst Yates
Fred Dewhirst Yates