Tag Archives: History

Remembering William Norwood Potter, (27-viii-1840 13-iii-1895)

William Norwood Potter
William Norwood Potter

Death Anniversary of William Norwood Potter, (27-viii-1840 13-iii-1895)

William Norwood Potter
William Norwood Potter

Here is his Wikipedia entry

From The Oxford Encyclopedia of Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

“Leading English player of the 1870s, barristers clerk. He met strong opposition in only one tournament, London 1876, when he took third place after Blackburne and Zukertort. In match
play he lost to Zukertort in 1875 ( + 2=8—4) and drew with Mason in 1879 ( + 5=11—5). Potter was editor of the London Chess Magazine (1874-6)

The London  Chess Magazine
The London Chess Magazine

and wrote for the Westminster Papers and Land and Water, contributing annotations of a high standard to all three journals. He played a part in the development of new ideas attributed to Steinitz, with whom he established a firm friendship and to whom he may have shown the ideas of the English School (see schools of chess), in 1872 the London Chess Club, represented by Blackburne, Horwitz, Lowenthal, Potter, Steinitz, and Wisker, began a correspondence match of two games against a Viennese team led by Kolisch for stakes of £100 a side, (The moves were sent by telegraph and confirmed by letter.) Unable to accept the ideas of Potter and Steinitz, the rest of the London team soon withdrew, leaving these two to play on. They won the match. Subsequently Steinitz declared
that ‘modern chess’ began with these two games.

The City of London Chess Magazine
The City of London Chess Magazine

The Potter Variation in the Scotch is :

n.b. The Potter Memorial correspondence tournament was named after Reginald Potter, a past president of the BPCF.

William Norwood Potter, (27-viii-1840 13-iii-1895) from Howard Staunton, The English World Chess Champion
William Norwood Potter, (27-viii-1840 13-iii-1895) from Howard Staunton, The English World Chess Champion

Remembering IM William Albert Fairhurst CBE (21-viii-1903 13-iii-1982)

IM William Albert Fairhurst CBE
IM William Albert Fairhurst CBE

Remembering IM William Albert Fairhurst CBE (21-viii-1903 13-iii-1982)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“International chess master, British Champion in 1937 and Scottish Champion in 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1962.

Born in Alderney Edge in Cheshire on 21st August 1903, Fairhurst taught himself to play chess from books on the game, when he was 13, when he was 18 he won the Cheshire Championship.

His first major international success was at Scarborough in 1927, where he tied for Yates for 2nd prize, ahead of Bogoljubov, Sir George Thomas, Buerger, among others.

In 1931 he went to live to Scotland, quickly established himself as a leader of Scottish chess and played a major role in agreements between the British Chess Federation and the Scottish Chess Association. In 1932 he gave a blindfold simultaneous display, winning nine games and drawing three, in the Polytechnic Club in Glasgow, and in 1933 he drew match of six games against Eliskases.

Fairhurst has represented Great Britain in matches against Czechoslovakia and the USSR in 1946 and 1947; against the Netherlands in 1937, 1938, 1949 and 1952 and against the USSR in 1954. He also played in the Great Britain v. Australia radio match in 1947. He has represented Scotland in six chess Olympiads, those of 1933, 1956, 1958, 1964, 1966 and 1968.

At Hastings in 1947 he came 5th and went through the tournament without losing a game.

Senior partner of a leading firm of engineers and designer of the new bridge over the River Tay at Dundee (the longest river crossing in Europe), Fairhurst was Chairman of the Scottish Branch of the Institute of Structural Engineers and author of Arch Design Simplified. He was also a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland.”

Arch Design Simplified
Arch Design Simplified

Here are his games

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Remembering John Cochrane, (04-ii-1798 02-iii-1878)

John Cochrane
John Cochrane

Death Anniversary of John Cochrane, (04-ii-1798 02-iii-1878)

Here is his Wikipedia entry

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

Scottish player, barrister, called to the bar in 1822. If the so-called romantic style existed then Cochrane has a claim to be regarded as its founder. A dashing player, he attacked at all costs often sacrificing pieces with abandon, a style that was successful in the England of the 1820s; but when in 1821 he went to Paris, then the world’s chess centre, he was beaten by both Deschapelles and Bourdonnais. Subsequently he studied the game but he did not change his style. In 1822 he published A Treatise on the Game of Chess, a popular book largely based on Traite des Amateurs (see Verdoni) and Lolli but with a few contributions of his own.

Although Cochrane came from an old Scottish family he led the London team in the famous correspondence match against Edinburgh, 1824-8. He persuaded his team to play the Scotch Gambit, but when London had obtained a fine position Cochrane left for India. Although the Londoners, led by Lewis, failed to carry the attack, the Scotch Gambit became fashionable for more than 15 years, and other lively attacking openings were developed.

Cochrane stayed in India until his retirement in 1869 except for one visit to England, 1841-3, when he played hundreds of friendly games against Staunton, who began by winning a large majority, Wilhelm Steinitz knew both contestants and states that their last encounter was a match of 12 games. Staunton conceding pawn and move for the first six- and that Cochrane made an even score when receiving odds but won (-1-3—2— !) when playing on even terms, John Cochrane should not be confused with James Cochrane (c, 1770-1830), co-author of a book on the Muzio gambit.

The Cochrane Gambit is :

and the Cochrane Variation in the King’s Gambit is :

The Sicilian Defence, Staunton-Cochrane Variation is :

and the Scotch Gambit, Cochrane Variation is :

The Cochrane Defence is a drawing method for in the rook, bishop & king vs rook & king ending.

Gata Kamsky – Chess Gamer, Volume 2: Return 2004-2013

Gata Kamsky - Chess Gamer, Volume 2: Return 2004-2013
Gata Kamsky – Chess Gamer, Volume 2: Return 2004-2013
GM Gata Kamsky
GM Gata Kamsky

“Grandmaster Gata Kamsky, five times US champion, has one of the most extraordinary career trajectories of any chess player. In 1989 he arrived in New York, at the age of 15, with his father from his home country Russia. Just two years later he became for the first time US champion. He reached the top 10 at the very young age of 16 and played a World Championship match at the age of 22, losing to the reigning World Champion Anatoli Karpov. He then decided to stop playing chess for 8 years, studying Medicine and Law. In 2004 he reappeared as a full-time player, became again a world-elite player winning many international tournaments and supporting the US team for many successes.”

GM Gata Kamsky
GM Gata Kamsky

What we have here is 22 annotated games (mostly wins, but there are a few draws as well) played by Gata Kamsky between 2004 and 2013, during which period he harboured aspirations towards the world championship.

Kamsky had White in 18 of the 22 games: perhaps it would have been good to learn more about his approach to playing the black pieces. His opponents included the likes of Carlsen, Anand, Aronian, Topalov, Karjakin and Grischuk.

22 games in 450 pages? Yes, that’s an average of about 20 pages per game, often with two or three pages devoted to just one move. There are annotations almost every move: lots of words, and lots of variations as well. Bobby Fischer managed to cram 60 Memorable Games into a lot less space, but then he didn’t have computers to help him.

To give you some idea of what to expect, let’s take a fairly random example: this is Kamsky-Carlsen from the 2007 World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk.

In this position Carlsen played 17… Re6?

Kamsky comments:

“Probably Black’s only big mistake, but one that costs him the game. The rook is not the best blockader, and once I have figured out how to remove it (by re-routing the knight from g3 to h5, it will only help White accelerate his initiative on the kingside.

“17… Qb3! was perhaps the only move to stop White’s ambitious plans. Black gives up his weak d-pawn in order to open up the position for the rest of his pieces, especially the blocked-in f8-bishop, thus making the rest of his pieces much more effective.”

He then goes on to explain that he was planning to meet 17… Qb3! with 18. Qd2! We then have three pages of notes on this position, with one line ending up with White a pawn ahead on move 42 and another where White wins with a queen sacrifice on move 33.

Eventually returning to the game, we reach this position.

Carlsen has just given up the exchange hoping to set up a fortress. Kamsky explains:

“Black is down a whole exchange, but his structure looks very solid, and if he somehow manages to re-route his knight to f5, while building a strong pawn blockade on the queenside, he might stand a chance. However, White is an exchange up, which means he only needs to open one file for his rooks to infiltrate to win the game. And that is something that Black cannot prevent.”

Kamsky eventually managed, with some help from his opponent, to open the h-file for his rooks, winning on move 46.

The verbal explanations of positions and plans are, as you can tell, models of clarity but you might well think there are too many variations. You’re going to need at least two, more likely three chess sets to find your way through some of the thickets.

The games are not all you get for your money, though. Each game is put into context, and, Kamsky warns us in the introduction: “I must also caution that some of the views and comments expressed on subjects other than chess will sometimes be found to be quite controversial and not ‘correct’, in which case I would invite the reader to draw his or her own conclusions.”.

We are, perhaps fortunately, spared Kamsky’s views on Donald Trump and Brexit, but we do get his opinions of his opponents along with some flashbacks to his childhood.

You may well be aware of the reputation of his father, Rustam Kamsky. Gata’s descriptions of their relationship doesn’t make comfortable reading:

“… I had no education and was under the complete domination, in both body and soul, of my father. He literally threatened to kill me many times, including chasing me with a knife on numerous occasions after a terrible tournament…

“When I came home from the one and only occasion I went to the authorities for help, my father burned my hand to the bone and told me that if I told the authorities about him again, he would kill me. Being physically beaten was an everyday occurrence; it was the psychological attack with his words that made me feel very old and not want to live.”

Given this background it’s perhaps understandable that he has a jaundiced view of some of his fellow grandmasters, even including the universally respected Vishy Anand. He has the rather strange habit of referring to some of them, particularly, it seems, those with whom he has come into conflict in the past, as, for example, Mr Topalov.

In some respects, then, this is a very personal book: much more than just a games collection.

Every one of the games is fascinating, the annotations are superb, but you probably need to be round about 2200 strength to gain full benefit from following all the variations. Below that level, you might find yourself shouting “too much information, Mr Kamsky” and perhaps prefer to spend your money on something with more games and fewer variations.

The production standards, as usual from this publisher, are excellent. I noticed very few typos (a redundant check sign and Jeffrey rather than Jeffery Xiong). If you’re looking for a collection of grandmaster games with exceptionally detailed annotations, along with some very personal insights into the world of top level chess, this is the book for you.

 

Richard James, Twickenham, 26th February 2020

Richard James
Richard James

Book Details :

  • Paperback : 454 pages
  • Publisher: Thinkers Publishing; 1 edition (7 Nov. 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9492510588
  • ISBN-13:  978-9492510587
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.9 x 23.5 cm

Official web site of Thinkers Publishing

Gata Kamsky - Chess Gamer, Volume 2: Return 2004-2013
Gata Kamsky – Chess Gamer, Volume 2: Return 2004-2013

Death Anniversary for CGM Adrian Hollis (02-viii-1940 26-ii-2013)

BCN remembers CGM Adrian Hollis who passed away in Wells, Somerset on Tuesday, February 26th 2013  at the age of seventy-two.

Adrian Swayne Hollis was born in Bristol, Avon on Friday, August 2nd 1940. During this critical period the Luftwaffe was wisely extending its Battle of Britain targets to include Britain’s airfields. Furthermore, Bristol was bombed heavily between June 1940 and May 1944. The longest period of regular bombing, known as the ‘Bristol Blitz’ began in autumn 1940 and ended the following spring. The first bombs of the Bristol Blitz fell at around 6 pm on Sunday 24 November 1940.

Adrian was the only child of MI5 director general Roger Henry Hollis KB CBE (later to become Sir Roger Hollis) and Evelyn Esme Hollis (née Swayne) who was Roger’s first wife. Roger was from Wells and Evelyn from Burnham-on-Sea and they were married on July 17th 1937 in Wells Cathedral with Evelyn’s father performing the ceremony.

Adrian won a scholarship in classics to Eton College and then went up to Keble College, Oxford where he took a first in mods and greats. Whilst at Keble Adrian represented Oxford in four varsity matches between 1959 and 1962. Indeed, his support for varsity matches was maintained for many years attending a large number into and beyond the Lloyds Bank era. Stalwart organiser Henry Mutkin would always be sure to extend an invitation.

In 1961 Adrian become the youngest ever West of England Champion at the age of 21.

Adrian met Margaret Mair Cameron Edwards in 1967 at St. Andrew’s University where he taught Classics and she taught German. They married and had two daughters, Jennifer (b. 1974) and Veronica (b. 1977) and a son.

He was the Games Editor for the British Correspondence Chess Association (BCCA) resigning in 1969.

In 1984 Adrian was forced to endure allegations against his father by Chapman Pincher (in CPs book Too Secret too Long) that Sir Roger had been a Soviet spy / mole. These allegations were demonstrated to be false. He may well also have been aware of allegations against his friend and chess mentor Graham Mitchell earlier in 1963. Ironically, it was Adrian’s father who initiated the investigation into Graham. Again, the rumours were shown to be unfounded.

Adrian became a director of the company Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies Limited on the September 1st 1996 and resigned on May 12th 2007. He was also a Vice President of the West of England Chess Union (WECU).

Between 2003 and 2007 (according to the Electoral Roll) Adrian lived at 63, Bainton Road, Oxford, OX2 7AG :

63, Bainton Road, Oxford, OX2 7AG
63, Bainton Road, Oxford, OX2 7AG

and following his retirement (and the time of the 2008 electoral roll) Adrian had moved to Pound House, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH :

Pound House, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH
Pound House, Southover, Wells, BA5 1UH

Adrian has written many learned papers and has had two books published :

Fragments of Roman Poetry C.60 BC-Ad 20, AS Hollis, Oxford University Press, 2007
Fragments of Roman Poetry C.60 BC-Ad 20, AS Hollis, Oxford University Press, 2007

and

Ovid Metamorphoses VIII (Schools Edition): Bk. 8, AS Hollis. Oxford University Press, 2008
Ovid Metamorphoses VIII (Schools Edition): Bk. 8, AS Hollis. Oxford University Press, 2008

During his time at Keble College, Adrian engaged with and mentored many chess players including Jonathan Rowson (1996), David Norwood (1988), Julian Way, David Goodman (1977) and Dharshan Kumaran (1993).

CGM Adrian Hollis
CGM Adrian Hollis

Julian was a personal student of Adrian’s and was kind enough to tell us :

I do remember Adrian well. He could quote Latin verse ad infinitum. He was an expert on Ovid.
In terms of chess he had a huge pile of Informators in his study still in their cardboard packaging. He was very kind to me and insisted I play above him for Keble in the intercollegiate matches.

I gave him a copy of Developments in the Orthodox QGD which I had written in 1987. He was quite taken back when I didn’t want any money for it. He seemed to have quite a lot of respect for me.

I once asked him why he had given me a place at Oxford. He replied that he couldn’t have rejected someone with my passion and enthusiasm.
I kept in touch with Adrian until his passing. He gave me a lovely reference when I resumed my studies in 2007 at Kingston University.
I remember him as a kind and unassuming man. He became a lifelong friend.

CGM Adrian Hollis
CGM Adrian Hollis

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

“I was born on August 2nd, 1940, educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford and now teach Classics at Keble College, Oxford. I learned the moves at the advanced age of thirteen from a cousin who himself could have made a good chess player had he not been seduced by Philosophy and brain-teasers; all that remains in the mind from these encounters is a vision of perpetually losing my rooks to fianchettoed bishops.

Adrian Hollis. Source : The Potter Memorial
Adrian Hollis. Source : The Potter Memorial

My first ever tournament was the London Boys’ Championship 1956-7. In the opening round fate allotted me Black against David Rumens. As it happened, the brochure included a game of his from the previous year in which he had answered 1.d4 with 1…Nc6, quite enough, in my opinion, to condemn his utterly.

(Ed: The above position did not impress Adrian hugely.)

This view seemed confirmed when within twelve moves of an advance French I was two pawns up. Then, however, aided by my over confidence he worked up a fierce attack, and I just escaped with a draw. Nevertheless, I won the tournament; an opponent remarked how quickly I played my moves.

Thereafter the game was never so easy, but I did reasonably, well, winning the championships of the British Universities, West of England and East of Scotland, and playing for England quite regularly during the 1960s (including 7.5/12 in six Anglo-Dutch matches).

Leonard Barden, Henry Mutkin, Adrian Hollis and Bob Wade observe Nick Ivell vs Ken Regan at the 1983 Varsity match
Leonard Barden, Henry Mutkin, Adrian Hollis and Bob Wade observe Nick Ivell vs Ken Regan at the 1983 Varsity match

The high spot of my over-the-board chess was the series of World Student team championships from 1960 to 1964 in glamorous places (Leningrad, Helsinki, Mariánské Lázně, Budva and Cracow); most enjoyable of these being Budva, 1963 where one could bathe every day in the Adriatic and I won the (?) gold medal on Board 1 with 7.5/9., the year after Spassky (this must look good in the records, unless they happen to reveal that for the first time in preliminary and final sections, and that England did not qualify for the top final).

My best chess was probably played at Mariánské Lázně, 1962, where in successive rounds I had favourable draws with Radulov and Hort, coming close to beating the latter. Ironically, I was awarded the British Master title after I had virtually retired from over-the-board chess.

In 1964 I decided that henceforth for me ‘serious’ chess would mean correspondence, while OTB became a pleasant social activity. My introduction to the postal game had been made about 1955 by a colleague of my father’s, International Master Graham Mitchell, to whom I owe an enormous debt for the patience and kindness with which he played a series of games, bearing with me when I lost interest in worsening positions. The switch to postal play was caused by a number of factors, negative and positive : an impending move to Scotland, where there was less OTB chess, frustration at constantly spoiling good positions through mistakes in time pressure – on the other hand a feeling that correspondence chess should suit an academic temperament, and a particularly fascinating game played in 1963-4 with Michael Haygarth (see below) on which I spent so much time and energy that I almost feared it would ruin my post-graduate exams.

In 1964-5 I qualified for the British Championship by winning a candidates’ section with 100%, and then competed three times in the British Championship itself (1965-6, 1966-7, 1970-71), winning on each occasion (the first time jointly with S. Milan) and remaining unbeaten. International play also proved successful, and I soon collected the two norms necessary for the IM title (Ed: awarded in 1970).

Linda Brownson (Newnham & Basildon), left, playing Maria Eagle (Pembroke & Formby) being observed by John Nunn, Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek posing for the obligatory "staring at the board" picture for the 1981 Varsity Match sponsored by Lloyds Bank.
Linda Brownson (Newnham & Basildon), left, playing Maria Eagle (Pembroke & Formby) being observed by John Nunn, Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek posing for the obligatory “staring at the board” picture for the 1981 Varsity Match sponsored by Lloyds Bank.

The first chance for the Grandmaster title came on Board 1 in the Seventh Olympiad final. Despite a rare loss with the White pieces(my only defeat with white for a stretch of 15 years), things went well, including a lucky win against the reigning World Champion, Horst Rittner, and the enticing prospect beckoned if only I could beat the Russian Moiseyev. He held a slight advantage since the opening, but I thought I saw the chance of tempting him to an incorrect sacrifice. Back came his move; he had indeed made the sacrifice and the envelope burnt a hole in my pocket during an important meeting (my mind was elsewhere). After a mere two days’ thought I sent my reply. The post between England and the USSR takes about a month for the return trip. Soon after posting my move, as I was walking from the Ashmolean Museum to Keble, just passing the front gate of St. John’s, the realisation of what I had overlooked hit me, and there followed an inexorable wait for the death blow which I now saw only too clearly.

So no Grandmaster title, but Great Britain still took the bronze medals, and I scored 6/9 (+5=1-2).

Bob Wade, Harry Golombek and Adrian Hollis observe Penny Coxon (Newnam) and Anita Rakshit (St. Hilda's) during the 1983 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank
Bob Wade, Harry Golombek and Adrian Hollis observe Penny Coxon (Newnam) and Anita Rakshit (St. Hilda’s) during the 1983 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank

Another opportunity came when the British Postal Chess Federation organised a tournament (1974-6) in memory of its former secretary RJ Potter.  This started inauspiciously for me with a heavy defeat at the hands of Grandmaster Endzelins of Australia., a country which has so far provided my least favourite opposition (not only is the postage extremely expensive, but my score to date is 0/2).

From The Potter Memorial, Ken Messere, Chess (Sutton Coldfield), 1979 we have this potted biography from Ken Messere :

The Potter Memorial, Ken Messere, Chess (Sutton Coldfield), 1979
The Potter Memorial, Ken Messere, Chess (Sutton Coldfield), 1979

“Adrian Hollis is 36, was educated at Eton and Oxford, has written two books on the poet Ovid and is a Fellow and Tutor in Classics at Keble College, Oxford. He is a British Master at over the board chess and has been Champion of British Universities, West of England and East Scotland.

In 1964, he went to teach at St. Andrews University where his wife, Margaret, taught German. They were married and moved to Keble College in 1967 and now have two daughters. Jennifer is nearly five and Veronica is two.

Adrian began to concentrate on correspondence chess in 1964 and won the British Correspondence Chess Championship jointly in 1966 and outright in 1967 and 1971. He won the I.M. title in 1970 and his fine score of 6/9 on top board for Great Britain in the I.C.C.F. VIIth Correspondence Chess Olympiad Final contributed to the team’s winning the bronze medal in this event.”

and now back to Adrian’s British Chess article…

Thereafter my fortunes improved; one opponent accepted too trustingly some faulty analysis by Szabo in Informator (for a while it seemed that the Hungarian might earn me not one but two points). The East German Dr. Baumbach failed to find an improvement in a line with which I had been successful in the Seventh Olympiad Final.

Also, I had a win with the Black pieces against the Russian Kopylov. The result was a score of 9/12 (+8=2-2), which sufficed for the grandmaster title and first place half a point ahead of the Finn Kauranen.

Since then I have played quite well on second board behind Keith Richardson in the Eighth Olympiad Final (+5=7-0), and very badly indeed (scoring just about 50% in the Heilimo Memorial Tournament organised from Finland (I was much impressed by the strength of the Finnish players, most of whom I had not encountered before). Having twice narrowly failed, I would still like to qualify for the Final of the Individual World Championship. Of course life becomes increasingly busy, but the examples of Hugh Alexander and Graham Mitchell encourage me to believe that one can continue to play well at postal chess longer than over-the-board. So perhaps around the year 2000, when the children are grown up….”

Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek observer Andrew Dyson (Trinity) having played 1.d4 versus IM William Watson (Merton) during the 1984 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank
Adrian Hollis and Harry Golombek observer Andrew Dyson (Trinity) having played 1.d4 versus IM William Watson (Merton) during the 1984 Varsity match sponsored by Lloyds Bank

From British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXXIII (133, 2013), Number 4 (April), pp.194-5 we have this obituary written by James Pratt :

Adrian Swayne Hollis (2 viii 1940 Bristol – 26 ii 2013 Wells), British Master and Correspondence Grandmaster (1976), three times British Correspondence Champion, has died. He played most of his OTB chess as a young man, finishing seventh equal at the British Aberystwyth, 1961, when he beat, amongst others, A.R.B. Thomas and former champion, Alan Phillips. He gave future champion, Jonathan Penrose, a tough fight in the last round before conceding the half-point. He played in the Hastings Premier, 1962/3 and emerged with a plus score in the Anglo-Dutch matches. He was an occasional reviewer for BCM.

It was, of course, in the realm of postal player that he shone most brightly!

In 1966 we see him playing board two for England, below Slade Milan, and, two years later, Adrian scored 9/12 in a World Postal Qualifier, narrowly missing a place in the final. In 1971 he won the British Correspondence Championship, easily outdistancing a tough field. He played top board for England in the 1972-7 Olympiad. In 1974-6 he won the Reg Potter Memorial. In the ninth Olympiad – 1982-5 – Adrian Hollis was undefeated on board two. And England took the Gold Medal!

Obituary from Raymond Keene in The Specatator

Obituary from Kenneth Shelton in The Independent

Obituary from ? in The Times

Obituary from John Rhodes in The Chess Improver

Obituary from Bob Jones of Keverel Chess.

Wikipedia article.

Remembering GM Jacques Mieses (27-ii-1865 23-ii-1954)

Jacques Mieses
Jacques Mieses

BCN remembers GM Jacques Mieses who passed away on February 23rd, 1954 aged 88. He was buried on the 25th of February at the East Ham Jewish Cemetery in Section J, Row 18, Grave 1100. We hope to update his burial record with these details when we are allowed to do so.

Jakob Jacques Mieses was born on Monday, February 27th 1865 in Leipzig in the German state of Saxony. He came to England in 1939 and was recorded in the UK Internees Index for 1939 – 1942 on 25th April 1939 :

Home Office internment record for Jakob Jacques Mieses, 25th April 1939
Home Office internment record for Jakob Jacques Mieses, 25th April 1939
65 Oakleigh (now Oakley) Square, London, NW1
65 Oakleigh (now Oakley) Square, London, NW1

At the time of the 1939 register Mieses was recorded as living at 66, Oakley Square, St. Pancras, Camden, London, NW1 and he is listed as a Professional Chess Player.

By the time of Hastings 1945 (27th December) Jacques had relocated to :

8 Fitzjohns Avenue, London NW3 5NA
8 Fitzjohns Avenue, London NW3 5NA

On June 7th 1947 he was granted Naturalisation Certificate AZ27326.

In 1950 he was one of the twenty-seven first players to be awarded the Grandmaster title by FIDE. He was therefore the first British National to be awarded the Grandmaster title for OTB play. The next (Tony Miles) would be twenty-six years later.

He has The Mieses Opening named after him :

which never really caught on to any significant degree.

In the Scotch Game (a favourite of his with both colours) we have The Mieses Variation :

and in the Vienna Game The Mieses Variation is :

and in the Centre Counter or Scandinavian Defence we have the Mieses Variation:

and finally, also in the Centre Counter or Scandinavian Defence we have the Mieses Gambit:

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

“International Grandmaster. Born in Leipzig on 27th February 1865, Jacques Mieses was educated at Leipzig University and in Berlin. He came to England as a refugee from Nazi Germany shortly before the 1939-1945 war and eventually became a naturalised British citizen.

The early part of his chess career was devoted mainly to the study of chess theory and to chess problems. It was not until he was 23 that his tournament career really started with a tie for 2nd place at Nuremberg 1888, followed by 3rd at Leipzig 1888.

Jacques Mieses. Source : Chess Notes by Edward Winter
Jacques Mieses. Source : Chess Notes by Edward Winter

Over the next 50 years, he played in numerous tournaments with varying degrees of success. His addiction to speculative rather than sound openings and his attempts to combine playing in tournaments with reporting them were possibly responsible for his inconsistent results. Within a few months of one of the greatest performances of his career, when he came lst at Vienna 1907, ahead of Duras, Maróczy, Tartakover, Vidmar, Schlechter and Spielmann,

Full crosstable for Trebitsch Memorial, Vienna 1907
Full crosstable for Trebitsch Memorial, Vienna 1907

he came no higher than =16th at Carlsbad. In 1923 he achieved another great success when he came lst at Liverpool, ahead of Maróczy, Thomas and Yates.

Full crosstable for Northern Counties Congress Premier, Liverpool, 1923
Full crosstable for Northern Counties Congress Premier, Liverpool, 1923

While his style of play prevented him from reaching the greatest heights as a tournament player, it was also responsible for the numerous brilliancy prizes which came his way, one of the last being at the 1945 Hastings Congress, when he was 80.

Among the many books which Mieses wrote were The Chess Pilot,

The Chess Pilot, Jacques Mieses, Williams & Norgate. London. 1947. First Edition
The Chess Pilot, Jacques Mieses, Williams & Norgate. London. 1947. First Edition

Manual of the End Game

Manual of the End Game, Jacques Mieses, G. Bell and Son Ltd., London, 1947
Manual of the End Game, Jacques Mieses, G. Bell and Son Ltd., London, 1947

and Instructive Positions from Master Chess.

Instructive Positions from Master Chess, Jacques Mieses, George Bell and Sons Ltd., London, 1951
Instructive Positions from Master Chess, Jacques Mieses, George Bell and Sons Ltd., London, 1951

A very popular player, Mieses had a ready sense of humour. On one occasion, when he was in New York, he was asked by an American who mispronounced his name “Sind sie Mister Meises?”, ” No sir,” he promptly replied “Ich bin Meister Mieses.” On another occasion, when submitting an article in German to a British magazine, he could not resist asking ” Don’t you think my German is very good for an Englishman?”

On his eightieth birthday, a dinner was held in his honour in London and he was presented with a cheque by his numerous chess friends and admirers. The speech he made on this occasion was later quoted in most of his obituaries:

I have been told that a good many people never reach the biblical span of three score years and 10; and those who do-so some most reliable statistics assure us-are most likely to die between 70 and 80. Hence, I dare say, ladies and gentlemen, that I for one have now passed the danger zone and may well go on living for ever.

He lived for nearly nine more years, taking his daily swim in the Serpentine in Hyde Park or some open-air swimming pool, until only a few days before his death. He died in a London nursing home on 23rd February 1954 and was buried in the East London Jewish Cemetery.”

Jacques Mieses
Jacques Mieses

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977) Harry Golombek OBE we have this from Wolfgang Heidenfeld :

“Grandmaster, theorist, problemist, tournament organiser and chess journalist.

Mieses was a spectacular player who won many brilliancy prizes but suffered as many very short defeats. As a a result the German master achieved only one full success in important international tournaments (Vienna 1907), but occupied good places in such events as Breslau 1889 (3rd), Hanover 1902 (4th), Ostend 1907 (=3rd), as well as some smaller events.

In matches he showed a heavy preponderance of losses against the top-notchers, losing to Lasker, Tarrasch, Rubinstein, Marshall, Teichmann (twice) and Spielmann, but he drew with Walbrodt (1894), Janowski (1895) and Caro (1897) and beat Leonhardt, Taubenhaus, and (at the age of 81) Abrahams.

Here is the first game from October 29th 1945 annotated by Mieses from his match with Gerald Abrahams played in Glossop:

In keeping with his sharp style, Mieses preferred such openings as the Vienna Gambit, the Danish Gambit and the Centre Counter-Gambit. Among his lasting achievements are his brilliancy prize games against Janowksi (Paris 1900),

Reggio (Monte Carlo 1903),

Perlis (Ostend 1907)

and Schlechter (Vienna 1908).

Personally a very witty man (and something of a bon vivant) Mieses did not invest his writing with the same sparkle; both as a journalist and author he was rather dry and sober. He edited the eighth edition of the famous Handbuch, several editions of the ‘little Dufresne’, and published several primers as well as a treatise on blindfold play and an anthology Instructive Positions from Master Chess, London, 1938.

One of Mieses’s most important contributions to chess history was the payment of travelling and living expenses during a tournament, which he insisted on when running the famous tournament at San Sebastian 1911 – it was only thenceforth that this procedure became the norm.”

Jacques Mieses
Jacques Mieses

Here is an obituary written by DJ Morgan from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (74, 1954), Number 4 (April), pp. 107-108 :

Last month we made brief mention of the death, on February 23rd at a London Nursing Home, of the old grandmaster, on the verge of his eighty-ninth birthday. He was the last surviving link with a distant and largely-forgotten era. Mieses entered the international arena in the days of the great Romantics, of Zukertort, Charousek, and Tchigorin. He reached his heyday in the times of Tarrasch, Schlechter, and Maróczy. But he could never assimilate the canons of this Classical School, derived from Steinitz and codified and promulgated by Tarrasch. He preferred the dynamic to the static. He played the Scotch Game in tournaments long after it hat been
discarded by Steinitz and Blackburne; the Danish Gambit and the Vienna became in his hands instruments of great attacking potential. As Black he long favoured the Centre Counter Defence, and with it he brought off a number of thrilling victories in such great tournaments as those of Ostend, 1907, Carlsbad, 1907, Vienna, 1908, and St. Petersburg, 1909.

Nice Masters, 1931. Standing : Daniel Noteboom, Abraham Baratz, George Renaud (Organiser), Telling (Tournament Director), Marcel Duchamp, Brian Reilly (winner), Seated : Eugene Znokso-Borovsky,, Arpad Vajda, Sir George Thomas, Jacques Mieses, Stefano Roselli del Turco, Jacob Adolf Seitz. British Chess Magazine, 1931, page 201
Nice Masters, 1931. Standing : Daniel Noteboom, Abraham Baratz, George Renaud (Organiser), Telling (Tournament Director), Marcel Duchamp, Brian Reilly (winner), Seated : Eugene Znokso-Borovsky,, Arpad Vajda, Sir George Thomas, Jacques Mieses, Stefano Roselli del Turco, Jacob Adolf Seitz. British Chess Magazine, 1931, page 201

Jacques Mieses was born on February 27th, 1865, at Leipsic, and was educated at the university there, and in Berlin. In the capital he joined, at seventeen, one of the city’s chess clubs, and soon won the first prize in its annual tournament. Nevertheless, his earlier days were devoted mainly to the theoretical side of the game and to problems of which he was a good composer and a phenomenal solver. His public career really began with a tie for second place at Nuremberg, 1888, with the third prize at Leipsic in the same year, followed by a third, behind Tarrasch and Burn, at Breslau, 1889. His subsequent achievements span the years and are recorded in the literature of the game. He played at the famous Hastings 1895 (and was its sole survivor); fifty years later he played at a Hastings Christmas Congress. His preference for the speculative and the spectacular to the then ultra-modern-prevented him from winning the major prizes of the games. As we look up the record’s we can readily see how unpredictable his performances were. Thus, in 1907, a first at Vienna early in the year was followed later by an equal sixteenth-eighteenth at Carlsbad. But his Brilliancy Prizes were numerous: such endings as those v. Janowski, Paris, 1900; v. Reggio, Monte Carlo, 1903 (quoted, incidentally, as Diagram 52 in Fine’s The Middle Game in Chess, but without giving its source); v. Znosko-Borovsky, Ostend, 1907; and v. Schlechter, Vienna, 1908, will always be the delight of anthologists.

Jacques Mieses
Jacques Mieses

As well as playing incessantly in match and tournament, Mieses wrote copiously on all aspects of the game, analytically as well as in a literary manner, in books as well as in magazines. Three of his little books, The Chess Pilot, Manual of the End-game, and Instructive Positions from Master Chess, have enjoyed a long and wide popularity in English.

24th April 1935: J Mieses of Germany in play against PS Milner-Barry during the Premier Tournament of the Kent County Chess Association in the Grand Hotel, Margate. (Photo by F. Sayers/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
24th April 1935: J Mieses of Germany in play against PS Milner-Barry during the Premier Tournament of the Kent County Chess Association in the Grand Hotel, Margate. (Photo by F. Sayers/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Two personal memories come to the writer’s mind. We first met him during the Liverpool congress-of 1923 ((1) Mieses, (2) Maróczy). one morning we took a stroll together up Dale Street, a stroll which developed into a tie-hunting expedition, ending up with a fine selection on his part to take back to a Germany emerging from recent disaster. He left the impression of a courteous and cultured man, precise in speech and with something of the military in his bearing. ln 1939, on hearing of his whereabouts, we called at his lodgings in Camden Town one Sunday morning. We were diffidently greeted by a seriously-crippled Mieses, who had recently, under great difficulties, made his exit from a Germany once more faced with disaster.

24th April 1935: J Mieses of Germany in play against PS Milner-Barry during the Premier Tournament of the Kent County Chess Association in the Grand Hotel, Margate. (Photo by F. Sayers/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
24th April 1935: J Mieses of Germany in play against PS Milner-Barry during the Premier Tournament of the Kent County Chess Association in the Grand Hotel, Margate. (Photo by F. Sayers/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

But the prim and chivalrous personality soon exerted itself. His many English friends rallied round him in his exile, all culminating in the great tribute paid to him on his eightieth birthday. Mon March 15th, 1945, at the Lud-Eagle Chess Club, a large number of friends and admirers gathered to pay their respects. A cheque, subscribed to by members of the club, was presented to the veteran master. He had, he said in his acknowledgement, sought asylum in England, and he had been shown great kindness and sympathy. The final gift was a last resting-place in the East London (Ed : we now know this to be East Ham) Jewish Cemetery. – DJM.

Obituary of Jacques Mieses by DJ Morgan. British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (74, 1954), Number 4 (April), pp. 107-108.
Obituary of Jacques Mieses by DJ Morgan. British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (74, 1954), Number 4 (April), pp. 107-108.
Obituary of Jacques Mieses by DJ Morgan. British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (74, 1954), Number 4 (April), pp. 107-108.
Obituary of Jacques Mieses by DJ Morgan. British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXIV (74, 1954), Number 4 (April), pp. 107-108.

Jacques Mieses
Jacques Mieses

From Chessgames.com :

“Jacques Mieses was born in Leipzig. He won the chess championship of Berlin at the age of 17, and in 1888 he placed joint second at Leipzig and third at Nuremberg.

In 1889 he came third at Breslau (1889). He was, however, rather eclipsed by two great emerging talents – Emanuel Lasker and Siegbert Tarrasch. Mieses was crushed by Lasker in a match – Lasker – Mieses (1889/90) in Leipzig (December 1889 to January 1890). He also performed poorly at 8th DSB Kongress (1893) coming only 7th out of 9 against a field which was relatively weak compared to previous DSB congresses.

1894-95 was a busy period for Mieses. He drew a match with Karl August Walbrodt. (+5, =3,-5) in Berlin (May-June 1894). Mieses then played in the extremely strong 9th DSB Kongress, Leipzig (1894) (3rd-14th September, 1894) coming 10th out of 18. He had then toured Russia giving simultaneous displays, before travelling to Paris to play a match with David Janowski (8th January to 4th February 1895).

Vera Menchik plays Jacques Mieses in their match in 1942
Vera Menchik plays Jacques Mieses in their match in 1942

 

Mieses then crossed the English Channel to play a short match against Richard Teichmann in London (16th – 21st February 1895) which he lost by +1 =1 -4. A month later he played this match, Mieses next professional engagement would be (which was his first tournament outside his own country) came at the famous Hastings event of 1895. Although he finished only twentieth (in a field of 22 players), he soon adapted to this level of play and in 1907 he took first prize at the Vienna tournament scoring ten points from thirteen games.

In 1909, Mieses played a short blindfold match with Carl Schlechter, winning it with two wins and one draw. The very next year Schlechter played Emanuel Lasker for the World Championship and drew the match 5-5.

Mieses tried his hand as a tournament organiser in 1911, putting together the San Sebastian event that marked the international debut of future World Champion Jose Raul Capablanca. Mieses was defeated by one of Lasker’s title challengers, Siegbert Tarrasch, in a match in 1916 (+2 -7 =4). In 1938 Mieses resettled in England and took British citizenship. He was awarded the grandmaster title in 1950.”

Jacques Mieses. Jewish chess master from Germany; 1938 Escape from the Naziregime to England. 27.2.1865 Leipzig – 23.2.1954 London. Simultaneous play in the Bar Kochba club against 25 chess players, in the foreground: Mieses (left) against Felix A. Theilhaber. Photo, undated, around 1935 (Abraham Pisarek).
Jacques Mieses.
Jewish chess master from Germany; 1938 Escape from the Naziregime to England.
27.2.1865 Leipzig – 23.2.1954 London.
Simultaneous play in the Bar Kochba club against 25 chess players, in the foreground: Mieses (left) against Felix A. Theilhaber.
Photo, undated, around 1935 (Abraham Pisarek).

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

German-born Jewish player and author from Leipzig, International Grandmaster (1950), International Arbiter
(1951). He never assimilated the positional ideas of Steinitz and Tarrasch; instead he preferred to set up a game with the direct object of attacking the enemy king, a style that brought him many brilliancy prizes but few successes in high-level play. His best result was at Vienna 1907, the first Trebitsch Memorial tournament, when he won first prize ( +9 =2 —2) ahead of Duras, Maróczy and Schlechter. Later in the year he shared third prize with Nimzowitsch after Bernstein and Rubinstein in a 28-round tournament at Ostend. He played 25 matches, mostly short, and won six of them including a defeat of Schlechter in 1909 (+2-1).

Mieses reported chess events, edited chess columns, and wrote several books. In 1921 he published a supplement to the eighth edition of Bilguer’s Handbuch, and he revised several editions of Dufresne’s popular Lehrbuck des Schachspiels, He also organized chess events, including the tournament at San Sebastian in 1911 for which he insisted that competitors were paid for travel and board, a practice that later became normal.

After living in Germany for 73 years he escaped the clutches of the Nazis and sought refuge in England. A prim, courteous, and dignified old gentleman, still upright in bearing, he became widely liked in his adopted country. Asked about his lameness in one leg, caused by a street accident in 1937, he merely answered ‘it was my turn to move,’ Soon after naturalization he became the first British player to be awarded the International Grandmaster title. A generation before him his uncle Samuel Mieses (1841-84) had been a German player of master strength.

In the various publications of Edward Winter there are many and varied references to Mieses. We recommend you consult : Kings, Commoners and Knaves, Chess Facts and Fables and Chess Explorations to read them.

According to Edward Winter in Chess Notes JM lived at the following addresses :

  • Tauchaerstrasse, Leipzig, Germany (Wiener Schachzeitung, July 1904, page 211).
  • Christianstrasse 23, Leipzig, Germany (Düsseldorf, 1908 tournament book, page 176).
  • Wettiner Str. 32, Leipzig, Germany (Ranneforths Schach-Kalender, 1915, page 70).
  • Christianstrasse 19II, Leipzig, Germany (Ranneforths Schachkalender, 1925, page 158).
  • 8 Fitzjohns Avenue, London NW3, England (Hastings and St Leonards Chess Club visitors’ book, 27 December 1945*).

Here is an article by André Schulz of ChessBase

An excellent article from Edward Winter.

Here is his Wikipedia entry.

Remembering John Frederick Keeble (27-viii-1855 19-ii-1939)

John Frederick Keeble
John Frederick Keeble

We remember John Frederick Keeble who passed away on February 19th 1939

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

Problemist and chronicler who lived in Norwich all his life. He edited the chess column of the Norwich Mercury from 1902 lo 1912, contributed many significant articles elsewhere, investigated a number of chess questions, and established the burial place of several great players and arranged the tending of their graves. He lived at only two addresses for 73 years, worked for the railway company for 53 years, and was a member of the Norfolk and Norwich chess dub for 61 consecutive years. Winner of the club championship in 1884, he did not compete again until 1933 and then won it three years in succession.

John Frederick Keeble
John Frederick Keeble

Here is his (italian) Wikipedia entry

John Frederick Keeble
John Frederick Keeble
An English Bohemian
An English Bohemian