From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) by Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson : (article by George Botterill)
“Penrose is one of the outstanding figures of British chess. Yet many who meet him may not realize this just because he is one of the quietest and most modest of men. Throughout the late 1950s and the whole of the 1960s he stood head and shoulders above any of his contemporaries.
His extraordinary dominance is revealed by the fact that he won the British championship no less than ten times (1958-63 and 1966-69, inclusive), a record that nobody is likely to equal in the future.
At his best his play was lucid, positionally correct, energetic and tactically acute. None the less, there is a ‘Penrose problem’: was he a ‘Good Thing’ for British chess? The trouble was that whilst this highly talented player effectively crushed any opposition at home, he showed little initiative in flying the flag abroad. There is a wide-spread and justifiable conviction that only lack of ambition in the sphere of international chess can explain why he did not secure the GM title during his active over-the-board playing career.
It would be unjust, however, to blame Penrose for any of this. The truth is simply that he was not a professional chessplayer, and indeed he flourished in
a period in which chess playing was not a viable profession in Britain. But even if the material awards available had been greater Penrose would almost certainly have chosen to remain an amateur. For he was cast in that special intellectual and ethical tradition of great British amateurs like H. E. Atkins, Sir George Thomas and Hugh Alexander before him.
His family background indicates early academic inclinations in a cultural atmosphere in which chess was merely a game something at which one excelled through sheer ability, but not to be ranked alongside truly serious work. It is noteworthy that Penrose, unique in this respect amongst British chess masters, has never written at any length about the game. He has had other matters to concentrate on when away from the board, being a lecturer in psychology. (His father, Professor L. S. Penrose, was a distinguished geneticist.)
Being of slight physique and the mildest and most amiable of characters, it is probably also true that Penrose lacked the toughness and ‘killer instinct’ required to reach the very top. Nervous tension finally struck him down in a dramatic way when he collapsed during play in the Siegen Olympiad of 1970. We can take that date as the end of the Penrose era.
Since, then though he has not by any means entirely given up, his involvement in the nerve-wracking competitions of over-the-board play has been greatly reduced. instead he has turned to correspondence chess, which is perhaps the ideal medium for his clear strategy and deep and subtle analysis. So Penrose’s career it not over. He has moved to another, less stressful province of the kingdom of chess.
For the first game, however, we shall turn the clock right back to 1950 and the see the Penrose in the role of youthful giant killer.
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (BT Batsford, 1977) by Harry Golombek :
“British international master and ten times British Champion, Penrose was born in Colchester and came from a chess-playing family.
His father and mother (Margaret) both played chess and his father, Professor Lionel Sharples Penrose, in addition to being a geneticist of world-wide fame, was a strong chess-player and a good endgame composer. Jonathan’s older brother Oliver, was also a fine player.
Roger Penrose won the Nobel prize for physics in 2020.
Shirley Hodgson (née Penrose) is a high flying geneticist.
Jonathan learnt chess at the age of four, won the British Boys championship at thirteen and by the time he was fifteen was playing in the British Championship in Felixstowe in 1949.
A little reluctant to participate in international tournaments abroad, he did best in the British Championship which he won a record number of times, once more than HE Atkins. He won the title consecutively from 1958 to 1963 and again from 1966 to 1969.
He also played with great effect in nine Olympiads. Playing on a high board for practically all the time, he showed himself the equal of the best grandmasters and indeed, at the Leipzig Olympiad he distinguished himself by beating Mikhail Tal, thereby becoming the first British player to defeat a reigning World Champion since Blackburne beat Lasker in 1899.
A deep strategist who could also hold his own tactically, he suffered from the defect of insufficient physical stamina and it was this that was to bring about a decline in his play and in his results. He collapsed during a game at the Ilford Chess Congress, and a year later, at the Siegen Olympiad of 1970, he had a more serious collapse that necessitated his withdrawal from the event after the preliminary groups had been played. The doctors found nothing vitally wrong with him that his physique could not sustain.
He continued to play but his results suffered from a lack of self-confidence and at the Nice Olympiad of 1974 he had a wretched result on board 3, winning only 1 game and losing 6 out of 15.
Possibly too his profession (a lecturer in psychology) was also absorbing him more and more and too part less and less in international and national chess.
Yet, he had already done enough to show that he was the equal of the greatest British players in his command and understanding of the game and he ranks alongside Staunton, Blackburne, Atkins and CHO’D Alexander as a chess figure of world class.”
“The leading English player during the 1960s, International Master (1961), International Correspondence Chess Master (1980), lecturer in psychology. Early in his chess career Penrose decided to remain an amateur and as a consequence played in few international tournaments. He won the British Championship from 1958 to 1963 and from 1966 to 1969, ten times in all (a record); and he played in nine Olympiads from 1952 to 1974, notably scoring + 10=5 on first board at Lugano 1968, a result bettered only by the world champion Petrosyan.
In the early 1970s Penrose further restricted his chess because the stress of competitive play adversely affected his health.”
The second edition (1996) adds this :
“He turned to correspondence play, was the highest rated postal player in the world 1987-9, and led the British team to victory in the 9th Correspondence Olympiad.”
From The Encyclopedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) by Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master (1961) and British Champion in 1958 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Jonathan Penrose was born in Colchester on 7th October 1933, the son of Professor LS Penrose, the well-known geneticist, who was also a strong player and composer of endgame studies.
The whole Penrose family plays chess and Jonathan learned the game when he was 4. At the age of 12 he joined Hampstead Chess Club and the following year played for Essex for the first time, won his first big tournament, the British Boys’ Championship, and represented England against Ireland in a boy’s match, which was the forerunner of the Glorney Cup competition, which came into being the following year.
By the time he was 17 Penrose was recognised as one of the big hopes of British Chess. Playing in the Hastings Premier Tournament for the first time in `1950 – 1951, he beat the French Champion Nicholas Rossolimo and at Southsea in 1950 he beat two International Grandmasters, Effim Bogoljubov and Savielly Tartakower.
Penrose played for the British Chess Federation in a number of Chess Olympiads since 1952. In 1960, at Leipzig, came one of the best performances of his career, when he beat the reigning World Champion, Mikhail Tal. He became the first British player to beat a reigning World Champion since JH Blackburne beat Emmanuel Lasker in 1899, and the first player to defeat Tal since he won the World Championship earlier that year. Penrose’s score in this Olympiad was only half-a-point short of the score required to qualify for the International Grandmaster title.
His ninth victory in the British Championships in 1968 equalled the record held by HE Atkins, who has held the title more times than any other player.
Penrose is a lecturer in psychology at Enfield College of Technology and has never been in a position to devote a great deal of time to the game. He is married to a former contender in the British Girls Championship and British Ladies’s Championship, Margaret Wood, daughter of Frank Wood, Hon. Secretary of the Oxfordshire Chess Association.
Again from British Chess : “In updating this report we find striking evidence of Penrose’s prowess as a correspondence player. Playing on board 4 for Britain in the 8th Correspondence Chess Olympiad he was astonishingly severe on the opposition, letting slip just one draw in twelve games! Here is one of the eleven wins that must change the assessment of a sharp Sicilian Variation.”
Penrose was awarded the O.B.E. for his services to chess in 1971.”
BCN remembers Nancy Elder MBE who passed away on Wednesday, March 4th 1981, i.e. forty years ago in Perth, Western Australia.
Nancy Conchar Gordon was born on Tuesday, May 25th 1915. On the same date was born Robin Day in High Wycombe who went on to design the polypropylene stacking chair.
Nancy was born in Kirmabreck, Kirkcudbrightshire in the Dumfries and Galloway council area of Scotland.
In the 1939 register Nancy was living at 18 Thornton Avenue, Urmston, Manchester, M41 5DJ with a married couple, William Furnish (a railway time keeper) and Gertrude Furnish who performed unpaid domestic duties. Presumably Nancy was their lodger.
Her occupation was given as a teacher of music and physical training. At this time she was single at the age of twenty-four.
In the mid-1940s Nancy relocated from Manchester to Dundee where she continued her teaching career at Dundee High School. During that time she encouraged and coached a number of players some of whom represented Scotland.
In 1950 in Tealing, Angus, Scotland Nancy married David Livie Elder. They had a daughter Christine who played chess as a junior. Tealing has a strong connection with the Elder family.
According to Alan McGowan (Chess Scotland): “She was the main instigator in forming both the Schools’ and Primary League in Dundee, and she assisted in the organisation of the Dundee 1967 International Centenary Tournament.”
When she passed away Nancy was living at 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, DD2 1RJ :
Her passing was reported in the Dundee Courier and Advertiser on March 6th 1981 as follows :
Nancy Elder dies after heart attack on flight
Mrs Nancy Elder 39 Whitefauld Road, Dundee, a former music teacher at Dundee High School and one of Scotland’s best known chess players, has died after taking ill on a flight to Australia.
She was off for a long holiday which she planned to spend with relatives and friends from the world of international chess, but, after suffering a heart attack on a plane from Singapore, had been in intensive care in Perth, Western Australia.
Her daughter Christine, a primary school teacher in Tighnabruaich, received daily telephone reports on her mother’s condition from a cousin and, at the weekend, heard that she was improving gradually.
The shock news of her mother’s death came late on Wednesday night.
Mrs. Elder, who went into semi-retirement recently, has been to the fore in chess for about 35 years at local, national and international levels.
She has represented her country five times, having taken part in the chess Olympiad in Yugoslavia in 1963 and 1973, in Israel in 1976, in Buenos Aires in 1978 and in Malta last year.
She turned down the chance to take part on three other occasions.
She was awarded the MBE for her services to chess in 1974.
She was President of Dundee Chess Club, chairman of the congress committee of the Scottish Chess Association and on the council of the Scottish Junior Chess Association.
She started playing chess during her school days with her brother and the two of them were more-or-less self taught.
It wasn’t until after the Second World War that she received any sort of coaching, by which time she had established her own style.
She retired on April 14th last year after 24 years in the music department of Dundee High School, where she specialised in teaching the oboe.
She continued to teach privately.
From British Chess Magazine, Volume CI (101, 1981), Number 6 (June), pp. 219-220 we have this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :
“Nancy C. Elder, MBE, died in Perth, Western Australia on March 4th 1981. Mrs. Elder had recently retired after a lifetime of teaching, her last post being in Dundee. I well remember her account of teaching under difficult conditions in World War 2 in Manchester. 15 Scottish Women’s Champion (the record for the event which she set-up at Troon in 1980).
Mrs Elder was a regular competitor in the British Women’s Championship (sometimes in rivalry with her daughter Christine) and showed her playing strength with a score of 5.5/12 on board two for Scotland at the Women’s Chess Olympiad, Malta, 1980.
I am sure she will be best remembered though for her decades of effort in the organising of chess in Scotland, particularly for juniors and in schools, in recognition of which she was awarded the MBE, the only such honour ever given for services to chess ‘north of the border’ as Alan Borwell puts it in his Newsflash obituary.”
Chess Scotland award the Nancy Elder Cup annually for an individual competition for “club level” players.
We are grateful to Helen Milligan who told BCN :
My most memorable incident was when I refused to play in the Scottish Ladies at the annual Congress, preferring to try to improve my chess by playing in the Open section (really the B-Grade, below the Championship proper). I got given a piece of Nancy’s mind for that – she did not approve!
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 Harry Golombek OBE who passed away on Saturday, January 7th, 1995.
The Amersham Advertiser of Wednesday, 18th January 1995, on page 6, reported, “His funeral was due to be held as 12.30pm (today), at Chilterns Crematorium, Whielden Lane, Amersham.” (Thanks Steve Mann!).
Harry Golombek was born on Wednesday, March 1st, 1911 in Lambeth, London and his parents were Barnet (Berl) Golombek (Golabek) (1878-1943) and Emma Golombek (née Sendak) (1883-1967).
The Polish word Golabek translates to “small dove” in English.
Barnet was a “Dealer of gas fittings” and was 33 when Harry was born and Emma was 26. Both of his parents were born in Zambov which is in the Lomza Gubernia region of the Kingdom of Poland which existed from 1867 – 1917. Their nationalities are both recorded as Russian in the 1911 UK census. we don’t know (as yet) when Barnet and Emma settled in the UK.
Harry had a brother Abraham (born in 1906) and a sister Rosy born in 1908. The family lived in 200b, Railton Road, Herne Hill. Lambeth.
He is a recorded with a service number of 992915 as being a member of The Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1939 and was discharged as having reached the age limit in 1956 aged 45 and one day.
Harry married his long time nurse, Noel Frances Judkins (1941 – 2011) in January 1988 and they had (born in 1992) one son : Oliver Golombek-Judkins BVSc MRCVS who is a successful Somerset based veterinary surgeon. The marriage was recorded in the district of Kensington & Chelsea.
The date of probate was 22 Mar 1995 and the executor of HGs will was David Anderton OBE.
In 1966 Harry became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), Civil division awarded in the 1966 Queen’s Birthday (rather than New Years) Honours list.
The citation read simply :
Harry Golombek. For services to Chess : He was the first UK person to be so honoured.
In 1985 Harry was awarded the long overdue (but Honorary) title of Grandmaster by FIDE.
Harry was in 1974-82 a FIDE Zonal President and from 1978-96 he was the FIDE Permanent Fund Administrator.
Sadly, he never received the Presidents Award for Services to Chess from either the BCF or ECF : maybe a posthumous award is long overdue?
Harry Golombek RIP by Bernard Cafferty
Here (from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXV (115), 1995, Number 2 (February), pp.83-85 is this obituary from Bernard Cafferty :
Harry Golombek OBE (1 iii 1911-7 i 1995), British Champion in 1947, 1949 and 1955, was a grandmaster amongst journalists and book writers, and “Mr Chess” for many of the British public in the decades after the war when his Times column was the main source of up-to-date information on the doings of Botvinnik, Bronstein, Smyslov, Keres, Tal and the other top players.
Harry ran a weekly Saturday column along with daily reports during World Championships, British Championships, Hastings, Paignton …when only The Guardian provided a similar service to the chess community up to 1972. I often recall him grumbling at editorial incisions of his column, which, even so, was more extensive and ‘heavy’ than anything we enjoy now. He loved references to music, the theatre and the arts as a parallel to chess. In fact, he was columnist and correspondent with the paper from 1945 till 1985, and columnist of the Observer 1955-1979. His work at The Times came to an end after he suffered a mild stroke, though he struggled on for a time when, in pre-Wapping days, his work was handicapped by ever earlier deadlines.
Harry was the BCF delegate to FIDE for decades after 1948 and played a part in framing the rules. His view was that the Soviet Union, which he visited as arbiter for Botvinnik’s matches in the 1950s and 1960s as well as for the second part of the 1948 World Championship Match-Tournament, did not throw its weight about so much until after 1970 when a sort of cultural offensive in FIDE and elsewhere was undertaken.
Harry played for England at three Olympiads before the war and six after. Educated at a London grammar school, he was the son of immigrant Polish parents who had been repressed by the last Tsar, to whom his father once sent a message of defiance from the safety of England. A favourite reference of his was the London Boys’ Championship of the late 1920s where he first came to prominence.
His first experience of chess journalism came in the period 1938-40 when he was editor of BCM, till being called to army service. Harry worked in the code-breaking department at Bletchley Park during the war; the Official Secrets Act prohibited him from revealing much of what he knew of this fantastic scientific operation where he was associated with such famous names as Alan Turing, Jack Good, Hugh Alexander and Stuart Milner-Barry. A graduate of London University in Modern Languages, Harry had been called up into the Royal Artillery, but his knowledge of languages, particularly German, meant that he was soon transferred to the Intelligence Corps.
Harry was a life-long supporter of Surrey Cricket Club. His family ran a grocery shop near Kennington Oval which he sold after 1945 when he made the decision to become a chess professional’ He was reputed to have one of the finest chess libraries in Britain, which he has left to the BCF to form the nucleus of a national chess library with bequests from Sir Richard Clarke, RJ Broadbent and GH Diggle.
Amongst the many books he wrote, pride of place must be taken by his work on Capablanca’s best games and the one on the 1948 Match-Tournament at the Hague and Moscow as well as a later book on Reti. Who can forget his account of the delay at the Polish border for the train which was taking players and journalists to Moscow from the Hague in 1948? A Polish general, forgetful of recent history, declared that the train could riot proceed since no-one crossed the Polish frontier without the appropriate documentation and security checks (Euwe’s extensive analytical notebooks in Dutch were the stumbling block). It only needed Botvinnik to hear this for him to phone up Moscow and have the Polish authorities overruled by those who enjoyed real power in the post-war world.
Another famous article which comes to mind is Harry’s long account of the 1967 Sousse Interzonal, complete with the J’adoubovich incident, Fischer’s fickleness, and the camel on the beach. This appeared in the BCM, of course, where H. G. was the editor for Overseas News and the Games Department from the late 1940’s until the late ‘sixties. His work here was a cut above most contemporary chess journalism’ since he was so often on the spot at top events and he had access to all of the world’s chess press. As a consequence, he was often the contact man for arranging participation of the world’s leading players at Hastings. From this flowed his work for The Friends of Chess, the body that raised funds and helped gain invitations to foreign events for our up and comings. It was in 1966 that he gained the OBE for services to chess.
Harry had a dry acerbic wit and a fund of stories that made him a welcome after-dinner speaker and lecturer. He seemed to be a life long bachelor, but he married late in life (this corrects an error in the Times obituary of 9 January. In his declining years he spent his last days in a rest home for the elderly in Gerrards Cross where his main contact with the outside world was Gerry Walsh who had often driven him to and from the Hastings Congress in the last couple of decades of his life.
A Grandmaster Amongst Journalists
Harry Golombek, was, without a doubt, one of the finest chess writers ever, and his lengthy stint as Overseas News editor of the BCM results in some classic reports.
As a tribute to Harry’s work we (BCM) have decided to reprint word for word, his extraordinary account of the 1967 Sousse Interzonal. The article that follows is an exact reproduction of his eyewitness report, as it appears in the 1968 BCM Bound Volume, January magazine. This was the tournament that had everything: Bolbochan vanishing, Fischer withdrawing, Larsen winning, and much more.
We are sure that our current readers, young and old, will be as enchanted with the tale as BCM readers were nearly three decades ago.
Further Recollection from Bernard Cafferty
Here (from British Chess Magazine, Volume CXXXII (132), 2011, Number 3 (March), pp.150-154 is an affectionate collection of memories from Bernard Cafferty :
“In recalling four decades of knowing the GOM of 20th century English chess, one has to stress the ‘English’ aspect. The ‘Harry’ part of his name was much more significant than the Polish surname, and, though he was the most cosmopolitan of men, who fitted into any milieu, my abiding memory of him always throws up the quirks that are the sign of an Englishman. I wonder how many of my readers recall the classic English actors Naunton Wayne and Basil Radford, whose main preoccupation in their films was…. getting to know the latest cricket score from Lords or The Oval.
Indeed, Harry was a long-time member of Surrey Cricket Club, and once, when he came back from being an arbiter at an international tournament in Tenerife, his main comment to me was not about the event or the players, but rather that the volcanic rock of the Atlantic island made for brackish water, so that one could not get…. a decent cup of tea!
I first met Harry in the early 1950s when I was a teenage student keen on chess and accordingly spent my meagre pocket money on a day out in Manchester to watch the Counties Final match between Lancashire and the all-conquering Middlesex side of those years. Harry and I were about the only spectators. He was there reporting for The Times. I recall that the top board game was between the veterans William Winter and WA Fairhurst. The game duly appeared in the BCM with Harry’s notes, for he was the long-serving Games Editor of that august publication.
Perhaps I may enter a belated correction to “Who’s Who” here. Some editions stated that he was editor of BCM after the Second World War. Not so. His stint in the editorial chair was 1938-40, after which he was called up, initially being assigned to the Royal Artillery. Perhaps that is a sign of the speciality of the Services – fitting a square peg in a round hole – but he was swiftly transferred to the Intelligence Corps, perhaps at the behest of Hugh Alexander who knew that Harry had studied German at his London grammar school in Camberwell and then at London University.
Clearly, under the conditions of 1940, a linguist was just what was needed to make up the team of mathematicians, cryptographers and such like who were tasked with breaking the secrecy of German coded messages.
I once mentioned the misunderstanding over the “Who’s Who” entry to Brian Reilly. He laughed it off, saying that it was almost certainly the abiding fault of HG – not taking Brian’s repeated advice to fit a new typewriter ribbon!
I could relate to that since Harry’s handwritten game scores, written in pencil and descriptive notation, were very hard to decipher, a real scribble that only the man himself could make sense of. When I asked him why he did not use algebraic notation, he commented that he wrote for so many English-language outlets: The Times, The Times Weekend Supplement, Observer and chess book publishers like Bells and Penguin who knew their audiences of those years were supporters of the Pawn to King’s Knight Three school. In fact, Harry commented, he had made more money out of his Penguin book The Game of Chess than from all his other extensive book authorship and journalism.
and the paperback version :
Moreover, it took him about three whole days to assemble the documents and papers to enable him to fill in his income tax form.
That reminds me that, when he was in his final years, and in an old person’s rest home, he arranged for his extensive library to be transferred in many large tea chests from his house in Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, to the St Leonards address where I had worked for the BCM for the last 12 years and which had recently been vacated as a result of Murray Chandler deciding to transfer BCM operations to London. I had the task, arranged with The Friends of Chess and the BCF, to do a sort-out and preliminary catalogue of his books and magazines which Harry was bequeathing to the BCF to form the nucleus of a National Chess Library. That would be a pleasant enough task, but it was prolonged into many weeks by having to decant the valuable chess material from the tea chests, much of it covered in dust and even spiders’ webs, from the many financial and other papers to do with his financial affairs. It was then that I first learned what a ‘tip sheet’ was, and it was not until stockbroker David Jarrett, BCF Hon Treasurer, came down for a visit that the dross amongst the many papers was separated from the gold and passed to Harry’s executor David Anderton.
Reverting to the cup of tea story, the first time I got to know Harry well was at the British Championship at Leicester in 1960. Many of the participants were lodged in University accommodation near the venue. Every evening, after play had finished, a number of us got together for a chat over a cup of tea in the accommodation unit’s kitchen. There Harry would regale us with stories from his many visits abroad, particularly to Moscow for the world title matches involving Botvinnik. Harry had formed many interesting views on Soviet society. Amongst the stories he told was of the all-pervasive dead hand of the bureaucracy. He was used to filing his reports on the match in English at the Central Post Office. One day, a clerk behind the grille, told him he could not accept it, since the regulations stated that all outgoing material had to be in Russian.
With his logical mind, and not appreciating the discipline and associated bureaucracy which the rulers tried to impose on Soviet society, Harry commented that “Yesterday, I submitted in English and it was accepted”, at which the clerk drew herself up to her full height and stated firmly: “Yesterday was yesterday, today is today”. Harry’s considered views included these: Communism would never be made to work properly in Russia, since the Russians lack the requisite discipline. “They should have tried it on the Germans. They might have made it work”. He once commented that when he went to Germany in the decade or so after the war, he was aware that some of those whom he met had been strong supporters of Nazism: “If they had had their way, they would have turned me into a bar of soap!”. I got a benefit from Harry being in Moscow. I wanted to get a copy of Chigorin’s collected games by Grekov, a very rare item. Harry duly promised to seek one out on his next visit to Moscow and a second-hand copy of this fine book came to me through the post some weeks later. No charge to me, of course.
Harry played a big role in drawing up the Rules of Chess as they applied to post-1945 competitive play. He served on the appropriate FIDE commission for decades and always argued that too precise a codification limited the discretion of the arbiter to apply a common sense solution to a concrete set of circumstances. Alas, that sensible approach has been moved away from in recent times, especially with the introduction of quick-play finishes and associated fine points about time limits.
A final shrewd comment from Harry, based on his Moscow experience: “In 1917, the new Bolshevik regime claimed that they were abolishing all titles, privilege and so on. The result? Forty years later they have the most class-conscious society I have encountered.” One proof of this might be given – the Soviet internal passport system, one point of which required the holder (and for a long time no peasant was allowed such an identity document – who, then, could claim that the Tsar had abolished serfdom in the middle of the 19th century?) to state his/her ethnic origin: Russian, Ukrainian, Kalmyk, Armenian, Jew and so on. The Western mind boggles… ”
We leave the final word in reminiscences of Golombek to his near-neighbour in Chalfont St Giles, Barry Sandercock :
” Harry was a very interesting man to talk to and liked to talk about the early days when he played against some of the great players. He was also very knowledgeable on many subjects, the arts, music etc. I played him when he gave a simul at Gerrards Cross in 1955 (Jan.21st} and managed a draw after 3 hours play. I remember, the local paper once wrote an article about him, calling him an ex-world champion. I got a letter published where I pointed out that he was an ex-British Champion not ex-world champion. I hope he didn’t see that!”
“To finish, a characteristic Golombek game, with his own notes. I (Ed) have selected one of the games from his victorious British Championship playoff match against Broadbent in 1947. It is characteristic of him in many ways. The game features a typically smooth positional build-up, from his beloved English Opening, played with the Nh3 development plan, which was a particular favourite of his. The notes are also very typically Golombek – concentrating in the main on verbal explanations, with relatively few variations, but also characterised by occasionally extreme dogmatism in his assessments, such as the notes to moves 1, 2 and 6, for example. The game and notes were published in the December 1947 issue of The British Chess Magazine.”
From The Anglo-Soviet Radio Chess Match by Klein and Winter :
“Harry Golombek is a Londoner, He was born in 1911, and learned chess when twelve years of age. He is another of those who went through the mill of the British Boys’ Championship, winning it in 1926. He has played in most English international tournaments, and has represented Great Britain in team tournaments. In the London International Tournament, 1946, he came fifth.
A graduate of London University, he served in the Foreign Office during the war, but has since retired to the country (Chalfont St. Giles). His literary activities include 50 Great Games of Modern Chess
Legend, according to James Pratt, has it that HG wrote the book without the aid of a chess set!
and Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games.
He reports chess tournaments for The Times, and edits The Times Weekly chess column.
His chess is perhaps not inspired and lacks the spark of enterprise, but he is a solid player on the whole and is apt to hold the best to a draw.”
Here is HGs entry from Hooper & Whyld (The Oxford Companion to CHESS) :
“English player and author. International Master (1950), International Arbiter (1954), honorary Grandmaster (1985). In 1945 Golombek became chess correspondent of The Times, a position he held until 1989. Also in 1945 he decided to become a professional chess-player.
He won the British Championship three times (1947, 1949, 1955) and was equal first in 1959 but lost the play-off (to Jonathan Penrose) and played in nine Olympiads from 1935 to 1962. An experienced arbiter and a good linguist, supervisor of many important tournaments and matches, he served for 30 years on the FIDE Commission that makes, amends, and arbitrates upon The laws and rules of chess.
His many books include Capablanca’s Hundred Best Games (1947),
The World Chess Championship 1948 (1949),
Réti’s Best Games of Chess (1954),
and A History of Chess (1976).”
Golombek accurate but unforceful
H. Golombek, the Present Chess Correspondent of The Times is in every way a contrast to Alexander. His forte is accurate positional play which brings him many good victories against the ordinary rank and file but rarely yields better than a draw against the very best. The grand master needs more than accuracy to shake his equanimity.
Golombek has a wide theoretical knowledge and seems equally at home in every type of opening, though his preference is for the close variety. He is a fine analyst and has
written a number of very interesting books of which I must make special mention of The World Chess Championship 1948. During a sojourn in hospital I worked my hardest to flnd flaws in the annotations to this work, but quite without success.
He is Games Editor of the British Chess Magazine and has considerably enhanced the reputation of that journal. Very popular abroad, he was asked to officiate as judge at the world championship match in Moscow between Botvinnik and Smyslov. Although as far as settling disputes is concerned the job was, I understand, a sinecure, the appointment was a high honour both to Golombek himself and to the country he represents.
From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Robert Hale 1970 & 1976), Anne Sunnucks :
“International Master and International Chess Judge. British Champion in 1947, 1949 and 1955. Captained the British Chess Federation team for many years in Chess Olympiads. In the 1972 Olympiad, captained the BCF women’s team. Chess author and chess correspondent of The Times since 1945 and the Observer since 1955. British Chess Federation to FIDE.
Born in London on 1st March 1911, Golombek learned to play chess at the age of 12 and in 1929 won the London Boy’s Championship. Two years later he became the youngest player to win the Surrey Championships. After graduating in languages at London University, Golombek devoted his full time to chess, apart from the way years, when served in the army and at the Foreign Office, and was awarded the OBE for his services to the game in 1966. He was the editor of the British Chess Magazine from 1938 to 1939 and for many years served as its games editor. He is now its overseas news editor. In his capacity as International Chess Judge, he has acted as judge in World Championship matches since 1954.
He has competed in a number of international tournaments, his best results being 1st at Antwerp 1938, 1st at Leeuwarden 1947, 1st at Baarn 1948 and -4th with Barcza, Foltys and Gliogoric at Venice 1949. in 1951, he represented the British Chess Federation in the Zonal tournament at Bad Pyrmont and came 5th, qualifying for the Interzonal. ”
His publications include : Capablanca’s 100 Best Games of Chess (1947); World Chess Championship 1948 (1949); Pocket Guide to the Chess Openings (1949);
50 Great Games of Modern Chess (1952); Reti’s Best Games of Chess (1954); 22nd USSR Championship (1956);
World Chess Championship 1957 (1957); Modern Opening Chess Strategy (1959);
and a translation of The Art of the Middle Game by P. Keres and A. Kotov.
He enjoys classical music and has been known to be successful on the Stock Exchange.”
A reasonable enquiry might be : “What did Harry write about himself?” Well, according to
The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977)
we have :
“British international master, three times British champion and the first person to figure in that country’s Honours List on account of his services to chess. Golombek was born in London and lived there till the Second World War. Educated as Wilson’s Grammar School and the University of London, he became London Boy Champion in 1929 and London University Champion 1930-3. By this time he was part of a trio of the leading players in England, the other two being Alexander and Milner-Barry. (Ed : It is curious that HG does not mention William Winter : maybe they were not like minded souls?)
His best result in the British championship before the Second World War was -2nd with EG Sergeant, 1/2 a point below Alexander at Brighton 1938. In that year he won first prize in a small international tournament at Antwerp ahead of Koltanowski. In 1938 too he became editor of the British Chess Magazine and occupied this post till he entered the army in 1940.
Before the war he had already played in three International Team Tournaments (or Olympiads as they subsequently became called) at Warsaw 1935, Stockholm 1937 and Buenos Aires 1939.
After the Buenos Aires event he went onto play in an international tournament at Montevideo where he came second to the World Champion, Alexander Alekhine.
In the war he served first in the Royal Artillery, from 1940-1 and then, for the rest of the war, in the Foreign Office at Bletchley Park, employed (like Alexander, Milner-Barry and quite a number of other chess-players) in code breaking.
After the war he made chess and writing about the game his livelihood, becoming Times Chess Correspondent in 1945 and Observer Chess Correspondent in 1955. As a player he had a consistently good record in the British Championship, coming in the prize list on fourteen out of eighteen occasions he competed in the event. He was British Champion at Harrogate 1947, Felixstowe 1949 and Aberystwyth 1955.
Here is HGs win against his old friend PS Milner-Barry from Aberystwyth 1955 :
He represented England in six more Olympiads, Helsinki 1952, Amsterdam 1954, Moscow 1956, Munich 1958, Leipzig 1960 and Varna 1962.
His best individual international results were first prizes at small tournaments in Leeuwarden 1947, Baarn 1948 and Paignton 1950 (above Euwe and Donner); =4th with O’Kelly at Beverwijk 1949, =4th with Barcza, Foltys and Gligoric at Venice 1949, and 5th at the European Zonal tournament at Bad Pyrmont 1951, thereby becoming the first British player to have qualified for the Interzonal. He was awarded the OBE in the Queen’s Birthday List in 1966.
A founding member of the FIDE Commission for the Rules of Chess, he became a FIDE International Judge and as such officiated at six World Championship matches. He was also chief arbiter at a FIDE Candidates tournament, at an Interzonal and two European Team Championship finals, etc. When the FIDE President, Dr Euwe, had to return home from Reykjavik before the 1972 Spassky-Fischer match got started. Golombek represented FIDE in Iceland and did much to ensure that the match took place and that it continued to be played.
Harry gave more than the average number of simultaneous displays in this career. For the photograph below Leonard Barden provided the following caption :
“Harry was invited because it was the 50th anniversary of his victory in the London Boys 1929 a success which he often referred to in his Times column. There were seven 30-board simuls that day, the top three being England Juniors v USSR (Spassky, Vasyukov, Kochiev) where Spassky had the worst simultaneous result of his career. No 4 was by Murray Chandler, Harry was No5 and the others by Whiteley and Rumens. The juniors who played the Russians were personally invited.”
A prolific writer and translator of books on the game, he has had some thirty-five books published on various aspects of chess. Among them are : Capablanca’s Best Games of Chess, London, New York 1947; Reti’s Best Games of Chess, London 1954; New York 1975; The Game of Chess, London 1954; Modern Opening Chess Strategy, London 1959; A History of Chess, London, New York 1976.“
From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983), Botterill, Levy, Rice and Richardson, we have this rather brief biography :
“Thee times British Champion (Harrogate 1947, Felixstowe 1949, Aberystwyth 1955) and the first person to figure on the Honours List for services to Chess. He has represented England in 9 Olympiads. A FIDE International Judge and Arbiter has has officiated at 6 World Championship matches. He is chess correspondent of The Times and a prolific writer and translator”
We remember IM Bob Wade OBE who was born 100 years ago today on Sunday, April 10th 1921
In 1979 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, Civil Division Bob Wade was awarded the OBE. The citation read simply : “For services to Chess”
He won the BCF Presidents’ Award in 1986.
In the Foreword to the 2009 ECF Yearbook, President Gerry Walsh wrote :
“As I started this report I had just heard the sad news that IM Bob Wade had died aged 87. I first met Bob at one of the Whitby Congresses and in 1972 he played in the Teeside GM Tournament where I recall he beat the three Hungarian players Portisch, Bilek and Sax (ed : aged 51).”
“I received the sad news that Bob Wade passed away at the age of eighty seven. He played his last tournament in London in August. When I was young I read about his exploits as a chess player, and he was the arbiter in many important chess events. I met him in 1993 when I was the organizer of the first part of the match Karpov – Timman, played in The Netherlands in three different cities: Zwolle, Arnhem, and Amsterdam. He was the only member of the Appeals Committee and Bob was always present watching the games in the playing hall. He gave me invaluable advice about all elements of the match venues. It was very clear that he was an experienced chess player and arbiter, and I learned many things from him. May he rest in peace.”
Wade was Southern Counties (SCCU) champion for the 1956-57, 1957-58 and 1964-65 seasons.
From the Preface of The World Chess Championship : 1951 by Lionel Sharples Penrose we have :
“Mr. Wade is also passionately devoted to the game. Before coming to Europe, he was three times champion of New Zealand. He had played in tournaments in England but his chief successes have been on the Continent. At Venice in 1950, he obtained a high place in a very severe contest in which some of the strongest Russia, Czech, Dutch, French, Italian, North and South American players took part. Much of his time is occupied in chess organising and teaching. He is an acting vice-president of the F.I.D.É and in this official capacity he attended the match in Moscow, which is the subject of this book.”
“On May 20th, 1919, Thomas Graham Wade, aged 27, Sergeant in the NZ Expeditionary Force, repatriated with honour from war-time service in Egypt, Gallipoli and France, married Amy Lilian Neave, aged 21, in South Dunedin. A New Zealander of Scots and English descent, his family was Graham from Montrose. The family name, Wade, came from Marshall George Wade, the soldier and engineer who led the Hanoverian forces against the Scots at the time of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion and was immortalised in the original third verse of the British national anthem:
Lord, grant that Marshal Wade, May by thy mighty aid, Victory bring.
May he sedition hush and like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush, God save the King.
Robert Graham Wade, known in the Scots manner to his family as Robin, and later to his many friends as Bob, was their first child, born April 10th, 1921, at Dunedin. Over the next few years he was joined by sisters, Lilian, Agnes, Betty, June, his brother Ted and finally by his youngest sister Amy. The family lived for a number of years at Portobello.
At that time, Portobello was a scattered community of about 150 people with three shops and a pub on the Otago Peninsula. Bob attended Portobello Primary School, a small country school, finished “dux” or top of class, and then attended the King Edward Technical High School at Stuart Street in Dunedin.”
In The Oxford Companion to Chess (OUP, 1984 & 1996), Hooper & Whyld:
“Wade Variation, 147, also known as the Modern Variation, in the Queen’s Gambit Declined, Meran Variation, from Bogoljubow-Wade, Oldenburg, 1949;
1239 in the French Defence, introduced by Wade in a match against Schmid in 1950.
Hooper & Whyld go on to write :
“New Zealand-born Robert Graham Wade (1921- ) won the championship of his homeland three times before moving to England as a young man, He won the British Championship twice and trained many English players.”
Aside from the two variations mentioned by Hooper & Whyld there are other Wade Variations :
which is the Pytel-Wade Variation of the Scandinavian Defence.
Anne Sunnucks wrote in The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Robert Hale, 1970 & 1976) :
“International Master (1950 Ed: actually 1954), International Judge (1958), New Zealand Champion three times and British Champion in 1952 and 1970.
Bob Wade was born in New Zealand on 10th April 1921 and is a professional chess player. He has lived in England for many years and has played regularly for the British Chess Federation team in Chess Olympiads. He has played a prominent part in coaching schemes for juniors and is largely responsible for recent successes of English juniors in international events.
He is chess correspondent of Associated Newspapers and Independent Television News and editor of a series of books on Contemporary Chess Openings published by Batsford.
Author of a number of books on the game, his publications include books on the World Championship of 1951, 1957 (ed : this book was, in fact, by Golombek) and 1963, the first in collaboration with W. Winter; The Closed Ruy Lopez (Batsford, 1970) in collaboration with LS Blackstock and PJ Booth: World Chess Championship (Batsford, 1972) in collaboration with Svetozar Gligoric; Games of RJ Fischer (Batsford, 1972) in collaboration with KJ O’Connell and Soviet Chess (Neville Spearman, 1968).
Wade was a member of the FIDE Laws Commission from 1950 to 1952.”
“International Master who was born at Dunedin, New Zealand, but came to live In England in 1946 and has represented both countries on different occasions. He has nearly always done well in British Championships and won the title in Chester in 1952 and again at Coventry in 1970. He had played for the British Chess Federation at the Olympiads of 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960 and 1962, winning the shortest game of the Varna Olympiad in that year in nine moves against Anton Kinzel of Austria
He played for the New Zealand team at the 1970 Olympiad at Siegen but returned to the BCF team at Skopje in 1972.
His best individual international results were a fifth place at Venice 1950 and again fifth at the Masters section of the Capablanca Memorial at Cienfuegos in Cuba in 1975. Possessor of a sharp clear-cut style of play, he once drew a match with the West German grandmaster Lothar Schmid with neither side drawing a game, though this was before Schmid received the grandmaster title.
He has done much valuable work in England teaching the young, and was responsible for the text of a highly successful television series in 1975.
His main books are : Soviet Chess, London, 1967; Botvinnik-Bronstein Match 1951 (in co-operation with W. Winter), London, Toronto 1951; Match Petrosian-Botvinnik, London, 1963; Sousse 1967, The Chess Player, Nottingham, 1968.”
From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) we have this article from George Botterill :
“In the Birthday Honours list of 1979 Bob Wade was awarded the OBE for his services to chess. Few rewards can have been more thoroughly earned. For some reason, Bob has always been held in greater esteem abroad than in the country for which he has done so much. But the many players who have turned to him for advice or who have simply enjoyed his hospitality, which is always ungrudgingly available to fellow chess players, know the measure of his dedication to the game.
Wade was born in Dunedin, a third generation New Zealander of Scots and English ancestry. He started a a career as a civil servant in the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Having won the New Zealand Championship in 1944 and 1945 he was sent over to participate in the British Championship of 1946. The result was not exactly a success – a mere 3.5 points out of 11. But Bob was not to be disheartened so easily. Feeling he was capable of better things, he took leave of absence in 1947 and did the circuit, such as it then was, of chess tournament in Europe and North America.
When he returned to New Zealand he found that he had been transferred to another department in a civil service reorganisation. The new job was not so congenial. He stuck it out for 6 months – during which time he won the New Zealand Championship for a third time – and then handed in his resignation to take up the precarious life of a chess professional.
Settling in Britain he soon gained the IM title (ed : 1954). But even in those days when still a young man Wade did not concentrate exclusively on his own playing career. In 1949 he went to the FIDE congress and was one of the five people – the others were BH Wood, Ragozin, Zubarev and Rogarde – who collaborated on the writing of the official rules for the game.
He also served as a member of the commission that determined who the original holders of international titles would be. When you consider that Wade was also on the 1950 commission that decided the composition of the World Championship Interzonals, it becomes apparent that this man played a significant part in the shaping the structure of modern international chess.
Although rarely at the top in international tournaments, Wade was always a very dangerous player, capable on his day of beating anybody in the world. He won the British Championship twice at Chester in 1952 and at Coventry in 1970.
In recent years Wade has put his main energies into junior training and organisation and also into his work as the editor of Batsford’s highly productive and extremely successful series of chess books.
It is hard to say in what department one should place Wade’s greatest contributions to British Chess. Living through what is retrospect look to have been the Dark Ages of British chess – the 1950s and 1960s – he has demonstrated that even in a social and cultural environment that made playing chess economically ‘impossible’ profession to follow it was still possible to dedicate a life to chess, if one had the determination.
During those years he was really the only British Player who regularly active in international tournaments. Since then he has been constantly active as an author, editor and adviser, always working to transform Britain into a country more congenial to good chess.
But we suspect that he might regard this role as trainer and coach as the most important thing of all. He is, quite appropriately the British Chess Federation’s Chief National Coach.
If one had to choose a single best game from Wade’s whole tournament career, it would probably be this one.
In the January 2009 issue of British Chess MagazineJohn Saunders wrote a ten page obituary as follows :
John Saunders interviewed Bob at his Blackheath home and wrote this extensive article for the 1999 British Chess Magazine.
His detailed results in Olympiads, from olimpbase.org, follow.
Amsterdam 1954, England board 4, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Moscow 1956, England board 3, 6½/14 (+2−3=9);
Munich 1958, England 1st reserve, 7/14 (+5−5=4);
Leipzig 1960, England 2nd reserve, 6/11 (+4−3=4);
Varna 1962, England 2nd reserve, 6/12 (+4−4=4);
Siegen 1970, New Zealand board 2, 9/15 (+7−4=4);
Skopje 1972, England board 3, 7½/14 (+4−3=7).
Wade won several middle-strength Master events in the British Isles: Ilford 1957 and 1968, Paignton 1959, Dublin 1962, and Southend-on-Sea 1965.
Wade was generally no more than a middle-ranking player in strong international tournaments. His other highlights against high-standard international-level competition include:
tied 4–5th at Haifa/Tel Aviv 1958 on 7½/13 (winner Samuel Reshevsky);
3rd at Bognor Regis 1959 on 7/10 (winner Erno Gereben);
5th at Reykjavík 1964 on 7½/13 (winner Mikhail Tal);
tied 4–5th at Málaga 1966 on 7/11; (winners Alberic O’Kelly de Galway and Eleazar Jiménez);
6th at Briseck 1971 on 7/13 (winner Gideon Barcza);
5th at Cienfuegos ‘B’ 1975 on 10/17; (winners Julio Boudy and Amador Rodriguez);
tied 7–12th in the World Senior Championship, Bad Woerishofen 1992, on 7½/11 (winner Efim Geller).
Wade was the only British player to have faced Bobby Fischer in tournament play (outside of Olympiads). They met three times, with Wade drawing one game and losing the other two.
Towards the end of his life Bob lived at 3, Hardy Road, Greenwich, London, SE3 7NS
We remember Edward Sergeant OBE (3-xii-1881 16-xi-1961)
Edward Guthlac Sergeant was born on Saturday, December 3rd 1881 : in the same year British Chess Magazine was founded by John Watkinson.
He was born in Crowland, South Holland, Lincolnshire. The registration district was Peterborough and the inferred county was Northamptonshire. His father was William R Sergeant (aged 27) and his mother was Frances E Sergeant (aged 25). He had a sister, Hilda who was one year older. William was a registered general medical practitioner.
He was named Guthlac after a monk who “came to what was then an island in the Fens to live the life of a hermit.”
According to the 1891 census EGS was aged 9 and living with his father, mother, sister and their domestic servant Margaret A George who was their general domestic servant who hailed from Scotland. They lived at 2, Gladstone Terrace, Gateshead, NE8 4DY. This was in the Ecclesiastical parish of Christchurch.
In the 1911 census aged 29 as nephew to the head of the household (5 St Peters Terrace, Cambridge) EGS is listed as a solicitor who is single. The size of the household in 1911 was relatively modest at 12. He was living with George Edward Wherry (59, surgeon university professor) and his wife Albinia Lucy Wherry (53). Albinia Lucy Wherry was a nurse and also writer. During WWI she was stationed in Paris at the Gare du Nord where she supported British forces from 1915-18. the sub-registration district was St Andrew the Great.
According to Edward Winter in Where did they live? in April 1916 EGS was living at 39 Chichele Road, Cricklewood, London NW2 3AN, England. EGWs source for this is : Chess Amateur, April 1916, page 202.
1918 was an important year for Edward when he married Dorothy Frances Carter (born 1887) in Gravesend. In the same year Dorothy and Edward had a son Richard who passed away in 2014
Two years later Dorothy and Edward had a son Lewis Carter Sergeant born on January 30th 1920. The birth was registered in Paddington. Lewis lived at 3 Woodhill Court, 175 Woodhill, London, SE18 5HSL and passed away in 2004 the death being registered in Greenwich.
On the 1920 Electoral Roll, EGS was now living with Dorothy Frances Sergeant at St. Stephen’s Mansions, 5, Monmouth Road, Edmonton.
In 1923 they upped sticks and moved to 27. King Edward’s Grove, Teddington.
Sadly Dorothy passed away in 1926 at the modest age of 39.
According to the 1939 census EGS was listed as a widowed, civil servant living at 24, Gloucester Road, Kingston Upon Thames, KT2 7DX. This would be the address that Edward saw out the rest of his life.
He shared this address with Edith Carter (born 4th May 1878) who is described as being of “Private Means” and Ada M Wenman (6th August 1881) who is described as being a “domestic”.
In 1949 he was awarded the OBE in the Birthday Honours in recognition of his 39 years’ service in the office of the Solicitor to the Board of Inland Revenue.
According to John Saunders : EGS died in the New Victoria Hospital, New Malden, Surrey, on 16 November 1961. His residence at death had been 24 Gloucester Road, Kingston Hill. Probate (26 Jan 1962) granted to Lewis Carter Sergeant, a Lieutenant-Colonel in HM Army. Effects £6,586.
A British master who had a long and solidly distinguished career in British chess but never quite succeeded in breaking through the barrier to international success. A civil servant by profession, he was awarded the OBE for his services in the Inland Revenue and Sergeant on Stamp Duties was regarded as an authoritative work.
Sergeant’s earliest performance in the British Championship, at the Crystal Palace in London 1907, was one of his best. He came =2nd with JH Blackburne. RP Michell and GE Wainwright with 6.5 points, a point below the winner of the title, HE Atkins.
He was 3rd at Edinburgh in 1920 and his best result in the competition came in Brighton 1938, where he came equal second with H. Golombek, a 1/2 point below the winner, CHO’D Alexander.
A stalwart supporter of the City of London Chess Club, he won its championship in two successive years, 1916 and 1917. He played for Britain against the USA in the 1908 and 1909 cable matches and also played on a high board for London against various American cities in the Insull Trophy matches in the years 1926-31.
As a player he was strongly influenced by the scientific principles of Siegbert Tarrasch and did well during the period when the Tarrasch school enjoyed its heyday. But he was at a loss when confronted with more modern methods.”
Both Sunnucks and Hooper & Whyld are silent on EGS : surprising!
We asked Leonard Barden of his memories of EGS and he was kind enough to reply :
“People have different ways of expressing satisfaction with their position. Botvinnik adjusted his tie, Kasparov put his watch back on, Sergeant rubbed his hands together….He liked to counter the Queen’s Gambit Declined in the classical way with a kind of Lasker Defence.”
From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXII, March, 1962, Number 3, pages 76 -80 we reproduce an obituary from Bruce Hayden entitled “E.G. Sergeant – An Appreciation” as follows :
(note the incorrect birth location presumably based on the 1891 census information)
Leonard Barden has asked us to point out :
“The 1948 game against Wallis was not in the British championship but in the Premier, a one-off 12-player selected group used to address the problem of too many good players for an all-play-all championship. In 1949 the two all-play-alls were replaced by a 32-player Swiss.
BCN remembers CM David Anderton OBE who passed away on Friday, April 1st 2022.
In the 1977 New Years Honours List, Civil Division, David was awarded the OBE. The citation read simply : “For services to Chess”
David William Anderton was born in the district of Walsall, Staffordshire, West Midlands. His mother’s maiden name was Coltart and David resided in Walsall.
David was married to Doreen in 2005.
David was an Honorary Life Vice-President of the English (formerly British) Chess Federation.
“David won the ECF President’s Award in 2009 following his stepping down as ECF legal expert. This is the citation from the 2010 ECF Yearbook :
“As this is Gerry Walsh’s last year as President it was considered appropriate that he be allowed to choose someone receive the award. Gerry has worked with David for all his time with BCF and ECF and has selected him due to his tireless and selfless devotion to both the BCF and ECF over many years.
Most of you will know David and will agree that this is a well deserved award. It is fair to state that David’s assistance over the years has been invaluable and that without it many areas of the Federation would have found it difficult, if not impossible to operate.
Since my election David has been a constant friend and confidante. He has invariable given sound advice throughout my term of office. It was John Wickham who rang me and suggested that due to my length of tenure, a special award might be in order.
After years of selfless and generous devotion serving as ECF President, International Director, Captain of the England Team and legal adviser, this seems to be a fitting tribute.
David’s advice both legal and general, has been invaluable in such matters as the John Robinson legacy and the change of name from BCF to ECF Limited, and I certainly hope that this advice will continue.
David is a FIDE Candidate Master.
With the White pieces David exclusively plays 1.d4 aiming for a Queen’s Gambit and main lines.
With Black David plays the Winawer and the Classical French plus the Lenningrad Dutch.
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 this spelling.)
“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.
BCN Remembers Sir Richard Clarke KCB OBE who passed away on June 21st 1975.
According to chess-poster.com : “Clarke died in the University College Hospital, in London, on 21 June 1975 and was cremated at Golders Green three days later. He was survived by his wife Brenda Pile (married in 1950, née Skinner) and their three sons.”
Richard William Barnes Clarke was born on August 13th, 1910 in Basford, Derbyshire. The birth was registered in Ilkeston in the district of Erewash. His parents were a secondary and technical school schoolmaster of science, William Thomas Clarke and Helen Rodway Clarke (née Barnes). Richard was baptised on October 1st 1910 in St. Lawrence (Anglican) Church in Heanor, Derbyshire.
The 1911 census records the family living at “Iona” which was a modest property in Fletcher Street in Heanor which had six rooms. Richard was seven months old and he had a three year old sister, Stella Helen Clarke. The family retained a nineteen year old domestic servant, Ada Mary Brown who has been born in Codnor, Derbyshire.
In 1944 Richard was awarded the OBE for his work as Planning Officer for the Ministry of Production followed by Companion of the Bath in 1951 for his work as Under Secretary at HM Treasury and in 1964 he was made Knight Commander of the Bath for his work as Second Secretary at HM Treasury.
According to chess-poster.com : “He was commonly known as Otto Clarke” and according to his son Mark the nickname “Otto” was possibly because of Clarke’s “forceful” personality was considered Germanic. According to Sir Sam Brittan, “it was because his round glasses and the bridge over the nose looked like OTTO.”
Creator of the British system of grading. He gave up active chess after leaving Cambridge University where he played second board between C.H.O’D. Alexander and Jacob Bronowski.
At first a financial journalist (one of the two who created the Financial Times Index), he became, at the outbreak of the Second World War, a temporary civil servant, remaining to become one of the most distinguished of them, and to receive a knighthood.
According to Arpad E. Elo in “Ratings of Chessplayers Past and Present” : “In the chess world, rating systems have been used with varying degrees of success for over twenty-five years. Those which have survived a share a common principle in that they combine the percentage score achieved by a player with the rating of his competition. They use similar formulae for the evaluation of performance and differ mainly in the elaboration of the scales. The most notable are the Ingo (Hoesskinger 1948), the Harkness (Harkness 1956), and the British Chess Federation (Clarke 1957) systems. These received acceptance because they produced ranking lists which generally agreed with the personal estimates made by knowledgeable chessplayers.”
Here is an article in full reproduced from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, pages 49 -53 :
The June 1975 issue of British Chess Magazine announces his passing and promises that a tribute would follow : it never did.
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