He was born into a world that flowed along very differently from our own. Kaluga was his city, but don’t reach for that atlas, just follow the River Oka setting your clock to a time when, as Trotsky was to write, Lenin, despite the efforts of his medics, was a hopelessly sick man. Averbakh bore some little German and Jewish blood, grew to be a tall and scholarly man (headmasterly?) but played chess under the banner of hammer and sickle.
Yury (Yuri) Lvovich Averbakh was born one hundred years ago today and, as such, is the oldest holder of the International Grandmaster title ever, that chess title formalised after World War II. Already – he got the title of national master in 1943 – he was looking at chess not so much as life substitute, as a Tal or Fischer might have done, but more as a career from which possibilities would spring, in the manner (say) of his contemporary, Smyslov. He played in Soviet Championships 1948-70, winning the title in Kiev in 1954 and tying for first place at Leningrad, 1956.
5th= in the 1952 Interzonal and, a year later, just failed to finish on 50% in the celebrated Candidates of ’53. He drew a training match with Botvinnik himself in 1957. International success was obviously his too. Averbakh became known for his endgame books but he wrote on all aspects of the game, maybe twenty books flowing from his pen. Wade called him ‘prodding organiser’ and there is no doubt he touched so many areas of the game, as author, arbiter, diplomat, much in the manner of Euwe.
Though he was largely retired, here is a game to enjoy from his last playing years:
Guildford Chess Club was founded on Friday 10th April 1896 at the Guildford Institute, as the ‘Guildford and Working Men’s Institute (GWMI) Chess Club’. The minutes reported that Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) who lived in Guildford for a period until his death in 1898, occasionally visited the Club.
On 10th April 1899, GWMI amalgamated with the original Guildford Chess Club, which had been in existence since at least 1887 although unfortunately no minutes appear to exist for that Club, so little is known about its background. It was decided to adopt the latter’s name and to make the Guildford Institute its home venue, which it has remained to this day. The minutes note: ‘The object of the Guildford Chess Club is to play, promote and teach the game of Chess’.
Over the years the Club has fulfilled its purpose by not only operating a wide range of teams who participate in the local leagues in Surrey, as well as in national team competitions, but by also actively promoting chess and helping people to develop their ability to play the royal game.
The Club celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1920 with an invitation to the legendary José Raul Capablanca to give a 42-board simultaneous display, which he graciously accepted and unsurprisingly won every game!
The Club also demonstrated its commitment to its original object of promoting and teaching chess by creating a junior section, which saw some very promising young talent coming through from the Royal Grammar School based in Guildford and this strong association between the Club and the School is still evident today. Amongst this talent were two very promising players, B.C. Gould and A.W.J. Down, both of whom went on to win British Boys Championships between 1929 and 1933.
In 1934, in keeping with its mandate, the Club invited Eugene A. Znosko-Borovsky, the noted Russian Chess master to give a lecture on ‘General Principles’.
Guildford’s reputation as a thriving club was further evidenced by an invitation to the reigning British Champion, Sir George Thomas, to give a 25-board Simultaneous display at the Royal Grammar School on 13th December 1935. Sir George met strong resistance, winning 17, drawing 6 and losing 2 – a fine result for Guildford members.
In 1996 Guildford Chess Club celebrated its centenary by organising a series of events, which included a 12-board match against the Surrey Border League, which the Club won 8-4, the restoration of an open-air chess board in the Castle grounds, running a ‘Chess Variants’ tournament at Charterhouse School in Godalming, conducting some local Simultaneous displays and holding a Centenary dinner with IM William Hartston as the keynote speaker.
The Club also invested more effort in the development of its Junior Section by creating a coaching programme which resulted in certificates being awarded to celebrate stages of achievement and the Club has continued to run a thriving Junior section up until the present day.
The last 25 years have been particularly successful for Guildford Chess Club which continues to do well in the local leagues as well as nationally, with its recent domination of the 4NCL for the last eight years. It has been an interesting and exciting 125 years for the Club, which has been based at the same venue for its entire existence and it is fair to say that during this time, thanks to the Club’s various achievements, it has evolved to become one of the most successful chess clubs in the country.
Today – the 125th Anniversary
To celebrate its 125th anniversary the Club is running a special event in Guildford High Street on Saturday 11th September from 10.30 – 16.30.
Chess fans are therefore invited to participate in a 125-Board Simultaneous display given by some of the top Chess players in England!
They include Grandmaster Gawain Jones, former British Champion and current European Online Blitz Champion and Grandmaster Nick Pert, former World Under 18 Champion!
Other Masters giving the Simultaneous include: Matthew Wadsworth, former British U18 and U21 Champion;
Akshaya Kalaiyalahan, former British Women’s Champion;
Andrew Martin, former Guinness World-record holder for playing the most games simultaneously;
Nigel Povah, former British Senior Over 50s Champion;
Harry Grieve, British Rapidplay Online Champion;
Alex Golding, the highest rated 17-year old in England;
Jessica Mellor, former European School Girls Under 11 Champion.
This is your chance to play against some of them for FREE!
How do I enter?
The event comprises of three playing sessions, starting at 10.30, 12.30 and 14.30 and you can book your place for any one, two or all three of these sessions, each of which is anticipated to last up to 1½ hours. Places will be secured on a first-come-first-served basis. It is of course possible that your game finishes quite quickly, in which case you can either depart or choose to play another game in one of the other Simultaneous displays, space permitting.
Participants should note that appropriate arrangements have been made to ensure the event will go ahead, even if we are faced with inclement weather!
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to GM Daniel Fernandez who at 26 is currently England’s youngest Grandmaster. The previous GM title holder was Jonathan Hawkins in 2014 making two in seven years.
Daniel Howard Fernandez was born in Stockport, Manchester on Sunday, March 5th 1995. “Think Twice” by Celine Dion was top of the UK hit parade.
Daniel started playing chess at the age of seven (after his father taught him the rules) and at this time attended King’s School, Harpenden. His first chess club was Little Heath which became the ECF Small Club of the Year in 2015. They play in the Potter’s Bar area and include IM John Pigott in their membership.
At Little Heath Chess Club Daniel was coached by Mark Uniacke (who worked extensively on the early chess engine HIARCS).
Daniel went up to Queen’s College, Cambridge to read mathematics and left to become a Data Analyst at Mu Sigma Inc. He can speak several languages (including Serbian!) and works as a translator when opportunities arise.
He currently lives in Australia offering coaching and writing chess books (for Thinkers Publishing) and columns for Chessbase. In his spare time (!) Daniel is studying for The Master of Complex Systems degree at The University of Sydney.
Daniel’s first ECF graded game was rapidplay on July 5th 2003 in the SCCU Junior Under-14 Final.
His first standard play game was in August 2003 at the Edinburgh based British Under-8 Championship.
On August 13th 2004 in Scarborough Daniel became British Under-9 Champion sharing the title with Daniel Hunt & Saravanan Sathyanandha.
The Fernandez family relocated to Singapore in August, Daniel attending the Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore. He was swiftly recruited into the Singapore Chess Federation’s (SCF) National Junior Squad. Also in that squad were Danielle Ho and Howard Chiu (remember this for later!).
Barely three weeks after his Scarborough triumph on September 4th 2004 Daniel played his first FIDE rated game in the 5th Asian Under-10 Championship organised by the ASEAN Chess Confederation. His performance in this event was rewarded with a FIDE Master title in 2005. Because he was no longer active in English events the ECF had the unusual scenario of having a ten year old FIDE Master with a published grade of ~120!
In typically modest fashion Daniel confesses that he did not “deserve” the FM title at this time and that it was the consequence of the strong position of the ASEAN and SCF organisations within world chess. At the same event Wesley So gained his FM title in the Under-12 section.
Another interesting consequence of the relocation was that when Daniel returned to England in 2012 his last published grading went from ~ 120 to ~230!
One of the motivations of returning to England was to obtain the necessary entrance requirement to study mathematics at Cambridge. This he did by studying for A-levels at Manchester Grammar School.
Consequently Daniel’s FIDE rating profile also showed a fast pace of development:
Sydney 2009 and Sydney 2010 both provided IM norms with the third one coming from Kuala Lumpar 2010 and with these Daniel became an International Master in 2010 the title being confirmed at the 3rd quarter Presidential Board Meeting 2010, 24-25 July 2010, Tromso in Norway.
He won the Budapest Sarkany Tournament in 2014 as follows:
earning his first GM norm in the process.
BCN asked Daniel for three of his favourite games. The first one is this Polish Defence game from 2015 played at the Visma Arena in Vaxjo, Sweden. First we have the crosstable showing that Daniel earnt his second GM norm from this event.
and here is the game:
and during the 2015/15 4NCL season Daniel obtained his final GM norm playing for Wood Green.
In March 2015 he made his first of three Varsity match appearences for Cambridge re-uniting with Danielle Ho and Howard Chiu (remember those names from earlier?).
Daniel won the 10th Jessie Gilbert Memorial in 2017:
and also in 2017 Daniel was awarded the Grandmaster title at the 88th FIDE Congress 2017, 7-15 October, Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey.
On March 11th Daniel represented Cambridge in the 135th Varsity Match at the RAC Club in Pall Mall. According to chess24.com ‘IM Daniel Fernandez, playing board 2 for Cambridge, was awarded the Brilliancy Prize by GM Ray Keene in consultation with McShane and Speelman, for his “high-class swindle” after recovering from a bad blunder.’ See here for details.
In 2018 Daniel ventured into the world of book writing when Thinker’s Publishing released The Modernized Caro-Kann on September 8th 2018. This was a repertoire book for Black based around the Smyslov Variation :
“GM Daniel Fernandez (born 1995) has been an active and accomplished player for several years. He represented his native Singapore twice at Olympiads (2010 and 2012) before transferring to the English chess federation. There, he won the national classical titles at U-18 and U-21 levels and worked to become a Grandmaster while simultaneously studying at Cambridge. The Caro-Kann was instrumental in his quest for that title. Currently, Daniel is known in the chess scene not only as a solid player, but also as a mentor figure to younger English players, as a producer of well-received commentary and analysis, and as a multilingual chess coach. This is his first book.”
From January 2019 we have this interesting encounter between Gawain Jones and Daniel from the annual 4NCL meeting of Guildford and Wood Green:
With the White pieces Daniel has played a wide range of first moves but the majority move by far is 1.e4. His choice versus the Najdorf is some eclectic : sometime ago 6. Rg1 was the favourite and now 6.a4 is preferred.
Against 1…e5 Daniel offers a main line Ruy Lopez.
What does a Caro-Kann expert play against the Caro-Kann? Nowadays the Two Knights Variation is employed!
As the second player he plays the Sicilian Najdorf as well as the Caro-Kann plus an equal mixture of the Grünfeld and King’s Indian Defences.
In 2019 Daniel was interviewed by Edwin Lam on behalf of ChessBase : fascinating reading!
Ravi learnt at the age of 6 and joined Barnet Knights Chess Club in 2005. His first chess teacher was Angela Eyton who taught him the moves and Angela was followed by Tony Niccoli and then Julian Meszoras on his ascent of the chess ladder.
Ravi’s first recorded tournament was the 35th Barnet Knights Under-8 rapidplay on September 25th 2005. Also playing of note were Jonathan Pein and Isaac Sanders.
His first recorded standard play game was in the London Junior Under-10 Championships on December 9th 2006.
By the time he was eight he had attracted the attention of the England selectors and played in the 2008 Commonwealth Championships in New Delhi coming home with a bronze medal.
In 2008 Ravi won the British Under-9 title in Liverpool. He said afterwards:
It was quite nice to be leading everyone and I felt proud of myself. I’m not sure how I control my nerves but it feels really good to win.
His mother Sona said:
It’s a bit overwhelming but we just support him. It means you have to give up a lot of time for him but it’s really nice to see that he’s getting somewhere.
This was followed in 2014 by winning the British Under-18 championship in Aberystwyth aged 15 and then the same title in 2017 in Llandudno.
In 2016 Ravi was equal 2nd to Deep Sengupta at the Hastings Masters Open with an impressive 6/9 and a TPR of 2563. This performance secured his second IM norm.
The IM title was conferred at the 88th FIDE Congress 2017, 7-15 October, Goynuk, Antalya, Turkey.
He scored six points after 11 rounds at the 2017 World Junior championship in Italy and 5.5 points at the 2017 WYCC U-18 group in Uruguay.
Ravi completed his British junior titles run by becoming the current (no OTB event in 2020) British Under-21 champion in 2019 in Torquay scoring an emphatic 6.5/9 securing a share of third place.
Ravi became a FIDE Master in 2015 at the age of 16 and and International Master two years later making him England’s second youngest IM after Matthew Wadsworth.
His peak FIDE rating was 2497 in October 2021 and currently (February 2022) is 2490.
With the white pieces Ravi unsurprisingly plays the Moscow and Rossolimo variations against the Sicilian, the Ruy Lopez and, in recent years, he has adopted the Reti/English complex.
As the second player he plays the French Winawer and (refreshingly) the Abrahams-Noteboom Variation of the Semi-Slav.
For your entertainment we have these two brevities :
Ravi has played for University College London. Hendon and Cavendish in the London and other leagues and in 4NCL he started with Kings Head, transferring to Cambridge in 2014 and finally moving in 2016 to Wood Green.
In this game Ravi punishes IM Malcolm Pein who has a bad day at the office :
Over the 19th – 23rd August 2021 Ravi played in the Wood Green Invitational round-robin event at Oddfellows Hall, Stafford.
Ravi scored 7.5/10 and secured his second Grandmaster Norm and a TPR of 2680.
Over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2021 Ravi played in the Northumbrian Masters GM Tournament at the splendid Marriott MetroCentre, Gateshead winning jointly with Conor Murphy scoring 6.5/9 with a TPR of 2600. This gave Ravi his third and final GM norm.
The norm was ratified at a recent FIDE Congress. As of February 2022 Ravi stood at 2490 for standard-play.
Jimmy was married to Sharon and they have a daughter, Charlotte.
In 1958 Jimmy at the age of 11 joined his local Islington Chess Club (at the time Islington & North London Chess Club) and soon afterwards became a London Junior Champion. Following this Jimmy played little chess and was working for John Lewis (echoes of CHO’D Alexander and Leonard Barden). Following John Lewis Jimmy worked as a Health and Safety Officer for Islington Council.
At this time Islington Chess Club was one of the strongest in England and included such members as Kenny Harman, Ron Harman, Danny Wright, Stewart Reuben and others. Its most famous member was probably IM Simon Webb
The Spassky-Fischer match of 1972 re-kindled his lapsed interest and he won with a 100% score the London Amateur Championship.
He joined and was a staunch member of London Central YMCA (CENTYMCA) chess club and he wrote a privately published history of the club entitled The CENTYMCA Story. This is now a much sought after publication. His membership continued during the 1970s until around 1979.
During this period Jimmy was extremely active at the Endell Street premises.
Here is Jimmy playing Viktor Korchnoi at Endell Street (in the Phase Two classrooms) :
In 1974 Jimmy embarked on a highly successful career as a writer and journalist. He contributed articles to both CHESS and the British Chess Magazine and authored a number of acclaimed books for Batsford, The Chess Player, Caissa Books and latterly, New in Chess. He also self-published the first book on Bobby Fischer’s successor entitled K is for Karpov! His books on Chigorin, Zukertort and Breyer are universally regarded as some of the finest chess biographies published.
In 1979 Jimmy joined Metropolitan Chess Club to play in the London League A Division. He played top board and scored very highly with many significant scalps.
Jimmy gained his FM title in 2014 (at the age of 67!). 67 must be one of the most advanced ages to acquire an FM title. According to Felice his peak rating was 2300 in January 1981 aged 34.
He joined Metropolitan Chess Club. He joined Barbican, as did many other CENTYMCA players, following the hiatus over their Tottenham Court Road venue loss.
In December 2009 Jimmy visited the London Chess Classic and was photographed with VIP guest Viktor Korchnoi :
Jimmy was Editor of Middlesex Chessletter and Bayswater Chess in the early 1970s and produced major bulletins on the hugely successful Islington Congresses of the same period. He then worked for Pergamon Chess Books which led to his editorship of CHESS / CHESS Monthly magazine from until 2010 although his name remained on the masthead until February 2012.
In 2012 Jimmy and Ray Cannon attended a meeting of the Ken Whyld Association in Norwich :
In January 2016 Jimmy (together with Josip Asik) became co-editors of British Chess Magazine taking over from James Pratt and John Upham.
Jimmy also jointly edited Chess Informants 109-132 up to 2017 before taking on the role of Deputy Editor of the newly created American Chess Magazine whilst continuing to work as editor for Batsford Chess which had changed ownership over the years and had now been taken under the umbrella of Pavillion Books.
In 2014 Jimmy and Ray attended an event organised by the father of Emma Bentley
We send best wishes to Michael Franklin on his 91st birthday.
Michael John Franklin was born on Monday, February 2nd, 1931 in Battersea, London to Albert George (27 ix 1906, Dover – ? iii 1983, Wandsworth) and Helen Ann Franklin (née Colson, 1908-2003) who married in the third quarter of 1928 in Wandsworth. Albert was a clerk as was his father.
At the commencement of the Second World War, when eight years old, Michael was evacuated to Frome in Somerset. As a consequence Michael would delight in playing in the Frome Congress whenever possible. He played in the first event in 1990 organised by Leon York (whose name is the memorial trophy for the Major section). The story of Michael’s return to Frome made its’ way in to the local newspaper and was reported by Gary Lane as follows :
From British Chess Magazine, Volume CX (110, 1990), Number 7 (July), page 296 :
“A special presentation by the sponsor, Mrs. Jean Mackereth, Managing Director of Keyford Frames, was made to Londoner Michael Franklin, who was returning for the first time in 51 years to the town to which he was evacuated during the war. His final appearance at Frome was in the 2010 event.
The Early Years
Michaels interest in chess started in 1944 aged 13 when he witnessed games being played on Clapham Common. He was fascinated by the pieces and taught himself to play, never receiving any formal coaching. He joined the Clapham Common Chess Club in 1944. (CCCC became incorporated into Battersea Chess Club some time later).
Apart from summer events such as the above the club had a Winter Section that played matches in the London League. The club won the first division (now known as the Brian Smith Trophy) of the London League in the 1946-47 and 1947-48 seasons. Michael played his final game in the London Chess League for Richmond & Twickenham on April 14th 2010 drawing with John Hodgson, giving a sixty year span.
In his formative years he played at the Gambit Chess Café, Budge Row, Cannon Street, London, EC4N. Many strong players regularly visited the Gambit to play skittles, blitz and the frequently held lightning tournaments hosted by the proprietor Mr GH White.
Events such as these enabled Michael to develop his quick sight of the board and his flair for tactical play.
Leonard Barden added :
“Michael made his name as a young player first by his successes in the Saturday evening Gambit Guinea speed events at the Gambit Chess Café in Cannon Street which he often won ahead of master level rivals. He remained a strong speed player all his life.”
In the early 1950s Michael was persuaded by his friends Aird Thomson (who was Scottish Boys’ Champion in 1932, and 1933 ( equal-first). In 1951 he was Scottish Champion. In 1954 he moved to London. He married Susan Mary Hamilton in 1961 who went on to become Scottish Ladies’ Champion in 1965.) and oriental carpet expert Robert Pinner to join the Richmond and Twickenham Chess Club playing for the club in the London League, Surrey Trophy and National Club Championship until he retired from competitive play 2010.
Michael’s first appearance in British Chess Magazine was in Volume LXVI (66, 1946), Number 2 (February). Page 52 contained this report of the 1945 London Boy’s Championship in which Michael reached the final A section :
On leaving school Michael joined a firm of Patent Agents remaining in their employ in the accounts department for around forty years before retiring in the late 1980s. His retirement was prompted by the firm’s adoption of electronic computers. When he retired he was Chief Cashier.
On June 18th 1960 Michael’s happiest day was when he married Jean Fey. They celebrated their diamond anniversary in 2020.
To the present day Michael has maintained an aversion toward modern technology. He did, however, concede to the ownership of a mobile telephone. This was for the specific purpose of updating Jean on his days progress in any chess tournaments where he was away from home.
In 1946 (aged 15) Michael won the Felce Cup awarded by the Surrey County Chess Association. A result indicating rapid improvement since Michael had only started playing competitively in 1944.
In 1951 Michael finished third in the Surrey Championships behind the winner Frank Parr and runner-up David Hooper. In 1961, 1966, 1968, 1969 and 1970 Michael won the Surrey Championship outright and made many appearences in county matches for Surrey from 1950 onwards until 2010.
Unfortunately Michael’s rapid progress was threatened by two bouts of ill health. In 1948 aged 17 Michael was diagnosed with Tuberculosis which lasted for eighteen months including a twelve month stay in the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Aged twenty the TB returned leading to yet another twelve months illness.
Michael has suffered from ill health all of his life interrupting his chess career at various times. Fortunately the TB has not returned.
Michael won the National Chess Centre Championship in 1953 and 1955 being runner-up in 1954. The venue was Hill’s Restaurant, 158 Bishopsgate, London, EC2 opposite Liverpool Street Station since the original John Lewis department store venue was bombed in 1940.
The British Chess Federation first published a National Grading list in 1953 (using the Richard Clarke system). In the 1954 list MF appeared with a grade of 2A (225-232) and from then on with a grade of either 2A or 2B. In 1964 a numeric system had him at 225 ranking Michael 4th in England behind Penrose 244, Kottnauer 238 and Clarke 231.
Michael played many times in the annual Battle of Britain Tournament organised by Squadron Leader David Pritchard and his committee. He won it four times : 1959, 1960, 1961 and 1962.
The Ilford Whitsun Congress
The Ilford Whitsun Congress was a regular part of Michael’s season throughout the sixties. He won the Premier Reserves in 1961 ahead of Hilton, Hindle, Howson, Sales and Blaine and was runner-up to Kottnauer in 1962. In 1963 he went one step better by winning the Premier :
and here is the fifth round game :
In his tournament report PH Clarke wrote :
This buoyant, optimistic attitude of his is a great strength and always makes him a dangerous opponent.
Away from Home : International Progress
1964 saw selection by the BCF to play in the Tel Aviv Olympiad :
and scored a creditable 4/6. This was followed in 1965 with 3/5 in Clare Benedict tournament held in Berlin.
He played in the annual Anglo-Dutch match on no less than six occasions in 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1968 and finally in 1969. His aggregate score was an impressive 8/12.
On the national scene Michael repeated his 1963 victory at the 1969 Ilford Premier with a clear first place : Franklin 4; RG Wade and D Wright 3; JB Howson 2.5; BH Wood 2; PH Clarke 0.5.
In 1970 Michael won the London Championship which was also known as the Budget Cup which had last been held in 1956 . He followed this in 1972 by rightly earning the (now defunct) title of British Master.
Michael’s final appearance for England was in 1971 in the Cheltenham based Anglo-German match with a somewhat disappointing 0.5/2 against Juergen Dueball.
Michael played board two for London in a Telex match versus Belgrade playing Marjanovic. The game was drawn.
The Ultimate Prize : The Aaronson Masters
The Aaronson Masters at *Imperial Hotel, Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London, 1978 brought his best individual success at the age of 47, sharing first place with IM Aldo Haik of France and to boot, earning an IM norm.
(*Venue location thanks to Ken Norman)
Michael scored an undefeated 7.5/10 and finished ahead of Short, Speelman, Nunn, Hartston, Mestel, Webb, Basman, Botterill and numerous other illustrious players. Michael remarked of his lifetime best result that it was
just one of those occasions when everything went right!
But he scored 3.5/5 against the IMs, was alert to every opportunity, and the games show he owed little to luck.
Like many others Michael made appearences in Lloyds Bank events of 1977, 1978, 1984, 1989, 1991, 1993 and 1994.
The Hastings Years
Michael first played at Hastings in 1964 when he was invited to play in the Premier Tournament. The tournament was won by Mikhail Tal and Michael finished in last place.
Undaunted he returned to Hastings in 1968 to play in the Challengers tournament. One of the attractions of playing in the Challengers was that the winner received a place the following years Premier. Frustratingly Michael finished second three years in a row! In 1968 the Challengers was won by Danny Wright, in 1969 by Martyn Corden and in 1970 by Peter Markland. Finally, in 1971 his patience was rewarded and he won the Challengers and qualified to the following years Premier.
The 47th Hastings Premier of 1971-72 had been changed from the traditional 10 player all-play-all to a 16 player tournament. Also, having obtained sponsorship from various organisations the committee were able to invite some of the top names of the day. The sponsors were:
So, the entry included Karpov, Korchnoi, Andersson, Najdorf, Mecking, Gligoric, Unzicker and Robert Byrne to name but a few. This was undoubtedly the strongest Hastings Premier since World War Two and possibly the strongest Hastings Tournament since 1895.
Michael started well with a draw against the Rumanian GM Ciocaltea followed by a draw in with the Brazilian prodigy Mecking. In round three he surprised everyone by beating Ray Keene. With 2/3 things were looking promising. However, after this bright start Michael only managed a draw against Unzicker and a draw with Hartston finishing in a disappointing last place with a score of 3/15.
In the tournament report Peter Clarke opined
Franklin suffered the usual fate of the gifted amateur in a professional field of simply not being accustomed to this kind of chess.
Despite this Michael continued to play in the Hastings Challengers. He played in nineteen out of the next twenty-five years! He came close to winning the tournament in 1982: he was leading the tournament with a score of 7/8 when he was informed that Jean’s Father had passed away. Having drawn his ninth round game and needing only a draw in the last round to ensure at least a tie for first place he withdrew from the tournament and immediately left for home.
The Weekend Scene
Like all players with a full time job Michael had to play most of his chess at the weekend so the explosion of weekends tournaments in the early 1970’s gave him ample opportunities. His habit of playing quickly was ideally suited to the fast time limits of the weekend tournament. During the 1970 and 1980’s he was very successful. He won numerous events and was more often than not in the prize list.
In later years he restricted himself to London based tournaments and those in the West Country. His regular tournaments being Exeter, Torquay and old favourite, Frome. Michael at the age of 78 shared first place at Frome 2009. Frome 2010 was his farewell appearance.
Michael played for a number of clubs viz : Richmond & Twickenham, Coulsdon CF, Surrey CCA, 4NCL Richmond, 4NCL Bristol and Richards Butler to name but a few.
Finally, in 1980, Michael was awarded the FIDE Master title and achieved his highest rating (in the Elo era) of 2345 in January 1979. It is most likely that his highest ever rating would have been more like 2450.
Appropriately enough Michael was the inaugural winner of the BCF/ECF Senior Prix in 2000 and won it again in 2002 and 2003. The event last ran in 2006.
When Surrey won the counties championship a few years back the team took the trophy around to Michael’s home in Norbury, such was their regard for his contributions.
The London System
Any currently active club player cannot have missed the explosive rise to prominence of the system for White he developed :
The London System and Accelerated London System has acquired a huge cohort of followers in recent times probably not realising the debt they (and many authors, book and DVD publishers!) owe to Michael. If only he could have earnt a royalty every time it was played!
Also Michael had notable success as Black with the O’Kelly Sicilian 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6.
Life Outside of Chess
Michael had many interests apart from Chess. He was for many years a member of the Surrey County Cricket Club. After he retired he would arrange to meet fellow Surrey Member Frank Parr at the Oval and after lunch in the Pavilion they would spend the day enjoying the Cricket. Tennis was another sport that Michael followed. Michael was also interested in horseracing. Several players were surprised when visiting one of the racetracks around London to find Michael also attending the race meeting.
Michael was the typical “natural” player. He never studied the game and his only sources of opening information were the British Chess Magazine and the chess columns in The Times and the Guardian. He never kept the scores of his games. Once the game was finished it was time to move on. One of Michael’s greatest strengths was his optimistic attitude at the chessboard. No matter how bad the position he was confident of ultimate success.
Raymond Dennis Keene was born on Thursday, January 29th 1948 in Wandsworth, London to Dennis Arthur and Doris Anita Keene (née Leat). Dennis and Doris were married in 1943 in Camberwell. Doris was born on May 27th, 1921 in Lambeth and was a shorthand and invoice typist.
Dennis and Doris also had a daughter Jackie Keene who later married chess historian, RG Eales. Jackie is Emeritus Professor at The University of Kent in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities. Jackie played in the Glorney Cup.
Ray was educated at Dulwich College between 1959 and 1966 thereby becoming an Old Alleynian. In 1967 Ray went up to Trinity College, Cambridge to study Modern Languages specialising in German and graduating with an MA. Amongst their Alumni are five spies including Blunt, Burgess and Philby. During the gap between Dulwich College and Cambridge Ray (aged 18) wrote his first (and one of his best) book : Flank Openings :
Being published at the age of 19 this must be close to the earliest age an English player has had a chess book published that was not ghost written. (Leave a comment if you know differently!)
Following this legendary tome Ray collaborated with Leonard Barden and Bill Hartston on The King’s Indian Defence from BT Batsford Ltd:
and in 1972 we have
followed in 1973 by
All of which were favourably received helping Batsford to establish a strong reputation.
In July 1974 Ray married ex-ballerina (and now Dance Teacher) Annette Sara Goodman in Brighton, East Sussex. Annette became a director of World Memory Championships International Limited on January 17th 2008 and resigned on April 9th 2008. They have one son, Alexander Phillip Simon Keene, born in 1991. Godfather to Alexander is Scottish International, IM David Levy.
English player and author, British champion 1971, From 1966 he played in several Olympiads and his performance in two of them, Nice 1974 ( + 7=6-2) and Haifa 1976 (+4=6), gained him the title of International Grandmaster (1976). His best tournament win was at Dortmund 1980 (category 8), He studied the games and teaching of Staunton and Nimzowitsch and revealed with unusual insight the strategy of the former and the stratagems of the latter in two books: Staunton : the English World Champion (1975) and Nimzowitsch: a Reappraisal (1974). He also wrote Flank Openings (3rd edn, 1979); these openings are the ones which he prefers to play, which he knows best, and which suit his solid positional style.
International Master (1972), British Champion in 1971 and a regular member of the British team since 1966 playing on top board on a number of occasions.
Raymond Keene was born on 29th January 1948 in London and learned to play chess at the age of six. He began to play seriously when he was thirteen. While at Dulwich College from 1959 -1966 he played top bard for the school team which won the Sunday Times National Schools’ Chess Tournament in 1965 and 1966.
In 1964, he won the London and British Boys’ Under 18 Championship (ed : In fact, the title was shared with Brian Denman) and the following year, at the age of seventeen, he became the youngest player to win the Surrey Championship. While at Cambridge he graduated in German Literature (B.A. Honours), he played top board for the university.
During his chess career, he has beaten both Botvinnik and Gligoric, In 1967, he came 2nd in the World Junior Championship and in 1968 he won the prize for the best score on board 4 in the Lugano Olympiad.
A difficult player to beat, Keene played in four British Championships without losing a game and also went through the Lugano and Siegen Olympiads unbeaten in 33 games.
At Oxford in 1973, Keene set up what he believes is an English speed record for simultaneous chess, scoring 100 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss in 4.5 hours.
“British Grandmaster, British Champion 1971, Keene was born in London and was both London Boy Champion and British Junior Champion in 1964 (ed : In fact, the title was shared with Brian Denman).
Educated at Dulwich College and Trinity College, Cambridge, he soon became recognised, along with Hartston, as one of the two leading younger players in England. His style of play was different from that of his rival, being more complicated and less direct; but, like Hartston, he became a most formidable opening theorist with a vast knowledge of opening theory.
His first Olympiad was at Havana 1966 where he was the youngest member of the side and scored 65% on board six. In 1968 at Lugano he obtained 76.5% on board four and in 1970 at Siegen, playing on board two in the preliminaries and board one in the finals he score 68.8%.
The year 1971 saw a double achievement, for in that year he won the British Championship at Blackpool and also secured the title of International Master.
Playing on top board in the 1972 Olympiad at Skopje, he scored 11.5 out of 20.
In 1974 he came 6th in a very strong Hastings tournament and then won first prize in the Capablanca Memorial Masters in Cuba. At the Nice Olympiad he scored 66.66% on 2nd board, attaining the first leg of the grandmaster norm. At Mannheim 1975 he was 3rd in the German Open championship and in that year he also came 2nd at Alicante. In 1976 he was 2nd at the Aarhus tournament in Denmark. He finished a most successful year in international chess by fulfilling the second grandmaster norm on 2nd board in the Haifa Olympiad, thereby becoming England’s second international grandmaster (after Tony Miles). (Harry Golombek)”
We remember Ian Duncan Wells who very sadly passed away on this day (January 25th) in 1982 aged seventeen years.
From Chessgames.com :
Ian Duncan Wells was born in Scarborough, England. He was awarded the FM title in 1982. At the Islington Open in December 1981 he finished 1st= with John Nunn and Tony Miles. Following a 5th= placing in the Golden Pawn of Brazil Junior tournament held in Rio de Janeiro he and other players went swimming outside their hotel. He got into difficulties and although he was brought ashore by lifesavers he died after six days in a coma.
Here is an excellent article from chess.com written by Neil Blackburn.
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