From https://achievement.org/achiever/demis-hassabis-ph-d/ :
Demis Hassabis, the eldest of three, was born in London on July 27, 1976, to a Greek Cypriot father and a Chinese Singaporean mother.
(Originally his surname was spelt Hassapis and his brother George retained his.)
“Demis Hassabis was born in London, England. He is of both Greek and Chinese ancestry; his father came from Cyprus, his mother from Singapore. Demis and his family moved frequently as his father pursued a variety of business and creative ventures.
Demis was four years old when he saw his father and an uncle playing chess and asked them to teach him the game. He took to it quickly and was soon beating both of them. He showed a precocious aptitude for all games employing logic and strategy. ”
When 13 (in 1989) Demis achieved a FIDE rating of 2300 which, at the time, was the second highest rating for his age. First highest was Judit Polgar.
Demis was SCCU Under-18 champion in 1989 and was presented with the “old Trophy” according to the SCCU report.
Demis was a Candidate Master and brother of George Hassapis.
Demis started off with Hampstead Junior Chess Club.
He then played for Barnet Knights, Queens College College Union and Finchley chess clubs.
According to Tryfon Gavriel :
Demis wrote a hit computer game called “The theme park”, that was at the top of the charts for six months and sold than more 3.5 million copies. He also did quite well in the 1997 Mind Sports Olympiad.
Hassabis returned to academia to obtain his PhD in cognitive neuroscience from University College London (UCL) in 2009 supervised by Eleanor Maguire. He sought to find inspiration in the human brain for new AI algorithms.
Danny Gormally wrote (in March 2014) this :
“Demis Hassapis is a former chess prodigy who recently sold his company to Google for £400 million. Demonstrating that if you have the brainpower to be good at chess, you are far better off putting that intelligence to use in some other activity where you might actually get rewarded. Then in fairness, even most strong chess players aren’t as bright as Demis.”
In May 2021 Demis was cited by Dominic Cummings in his evidence to the Commons Heath, and Science and Technology committees as having played an important contribution to managing and understanding the PHE and NHS data during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.
(Curiously both Felice and Gaige state Julian was born in Saint Asaph in Wales.)
Harry Golombek wrote this about Julian in a 1980 Dataday chess diary :
“I think that the first time I saw Julian Hodgson in play was some four years ago in a London tournament. Upon my arrival Leonard Barden told him that he must now be careful how he played as Golombek was watching.
“Who”, enquired the twelve-year old Julian, “is Golombek?”
I felt grateful at the time that he did not say who or what is Golombek but I tell this story chiefly to show the cheerful insouciance with which Master Hodgson treated all comers whether chess masters or chess rabbits.
Julian astonishing maturity as a player has been impressive ever since at the age of ten, he won the Southern Counties Under 14 Championships in 1973. Since then he has acquired a host of such championships culminating in the British Under-21 Championship in 1977.
Perhaps his most remarkable performance so far has been his equal 3rd in a strong challengers section at Hastings where he scored 7.5 out of 10. 1977 was a good year for him and here, from the Lloyds Bank Silver Jubilee Tournament of that year is his fine win over a strong opponent :
Here is his entry (written by Richard W O’Brien) in British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983, Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson) :
“Following a series of excellent results Julian, at the tender age of 11, became the second youngest ever to play in an international tournament when he took part in the London Chess Club International Invitation tournament in September 1974. Only Reshevsky had been younger. Julian’s first opponent was Michael Woodhams, an Australian international who had just scored 15.5/18 in the recent Olympiad (Nice)
The following year he became the youngest player ever to win the London Amateur Championship. A year later he reached a grading of 200 (BCF), only Reshevsky, Pomar, Karpov and Kasparov had done so at an earlier age.
By now he was at St. Paul’s School, which was in the process of becoming one of the strongest chess playing schools in the country. In 1977 he shared first place with WN Watson (also St. Paul’s) in the British U21 Championship. Progress was however not as fast as had at one time been anticipated
It was at Ramsgate, late in 1980 before his first IM norm. A month later he finished second in the Hastings Challenger. Other good results followed in 1981. First he was selected for the Glorney Cup and shortly afterwards did well to come fourteenth in the British Championship (Morecambe). He represented England in the World Youth Team championships scoring 4/6. His second IM norm followed when he shared fifth place at Manchester in the same year. Good results in weekend congresses meant that he finished fourth in the Leigh Grand Prix. The year had finished with Julian needing a draw in the last round at Ramsgate to get his title. He lost and was to wait another 12 months to achieve his final norm.
When the final norm came it arrived out of the blue. With a score of 2.5/5 at Lewisham in November 1982 the chances seemed remote, 3.5/4 was required against a strong field and it even seemed doubtful whether he could actually play those he needed to play. He scored 2.5/3 and now had to play Jon Tisdall, who still had a chance of winning the tournament.
Julian finished second equal in the tournament behind Jim Plaskett who had beaten him earlier.
The next six weeks saw Julian come equal first in the Pergamon sponsored British Lightning championship, a highly creditable sixth in the Nightflight International at Brighton (equivalent to an IM rating) and second place yet again in the Hastings Challengers.
Earlier in 1983 he scored 6.5/9 at Lugano, probably Europe’s strongest ever Swiss (Swiss !) tournament, losing narrowly to Jan Timman.
He left Leicester University after just one year preferring to concentrate on chess.
He plays fairly regularly for Streatham & Brixton Chess Club which encouraged juniors for several years. Daniel King is another junior who also played frequently for Streatham. ”
This is what was written about Julian prior to the 1979 Spassky vs the BCF Junior Squad simultaneous display : “St Paul’s and Shepherds Bush. Rating 210. Standard London Amateur Champion at age 12, 1975.
Standard London under-18 champion, 1976. British under-21 co-champion, 1977. Youngest ever to beat two grandmasters in successive games, 1978.”
Aside from more formal achievements, he developed a sharp, relentless, attacking style of play and against lesser opponents this frequently resulted in devastating quick wins, earning him the epithet “Grandmaster of Disaster”.
Hodgson’s greatest legacy as a chess player may however lie in his resurrection of an almost forgotten opening system. The Trompowsky Attack (1.d4 Nf6 2.Bg5) had floundered in the doldrums for many years, prior to his adoption and development of the opening. In interviews, he reveals that this was born out of laziness and a reluctance to learn established chess opening theory. It soon became his weapon of choice with the white pieces, leading to a surprising popularisation of the system, the spawning of a whole generation of devotees and ironically, a number of theoretical guides, containing a high quota of Hodgson’s own games and analysis. Indeed, his expert treatment of the system once prompted fellow grandmaster Joe Gallagher to write that it should be renamed the Hodgson–Trompowsky Attack, a view shared by many other masters. A chess journalist once wrote that Hodgson put the ‘romp’ into Trompowsky.
A related, but more obscure version of the system (1.d4 d5 2.Bg5), has been dubbed by some the Hodgson Attack and by others the Pseudo-Trompowsky or Queen’s Bishop Attack.
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.”
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