Tag Archives: People

Death Anniversary of Marmaduke Wyvill (22-xii-1815 25-vi-1896)

Remembering Marmaduke Wyvill (22-xii-1815 25-vi-1896)

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Here is an excellent article from the Yorkshire Chess History web site.

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

He was winner of second prize in the first international tournament, London 1851. He developed his chess skill in the 1840s, meeting Dubois in Rome, Kieseritzky in Paris, and many players, including Buckle, in London, His style was that of the English school, and he understood well the positional ideas of the English opening and the Sicilian Defence. In 1847 he was elected Member of Parliament for Richmond, Yorkshire, a seat he held until 1868 except for a break of two years. The London 1851 tournament consisted of a series of knock-out matches. After defeating Williams (+4-3) in the third round and losing to Anderssen ( + 2=1-4) in
the fourth and final round, Wyvill was placed second. His score against Anderssen was better than that made by other players (Kieseritzky
“1—2, Szen +2—4, Staunton +1—4), Wyvill had
proved himself one of the leading players of his time. Although he played in no more tournaments he retained an interest in the game throughout his
life.

Here is an example of the Wyvill pawn formation :

The Wyvill formation is a name given by Tarrasch to a pawn formation with doubled pawns as shown above. This formation was not unfamiliar to Wyvill but could with more justification have
been named after Winawer who so frequently doubled his opponent’s c-pawns that this and similar formations became known as his trademark. The technique for attacking the Wyvill formation was also understood by Neumann and before him by Carl Hamppe (1814-76), the leading
Viennese player of the 1850s.

Marmaduke Wyvill at Leamington Spa, seated third from left.
Marmaduke Wyvill at Leamington Spa, seated third from left.

Death Anniversary of Howard Staunton (??-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)

Here is his Wikipedia entry

BCN remembers Howard Staunton (??-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)

A curious article about Staunton

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper and Whyld :

The world’s leading player in the 1840s, founder of a school of chess, promoter of the world’s first international chess tournament, chess columnist and author, Shakespearian scholar. Nothing is known for certain about Staunton’s life before 1836, when his name appears as a subscriber to Greenwood Walkers Selection of Games at Chess , actually played in London, by the late Alexander McDonnell Esq. He states that he was born in Westmorland in the spring of 1810, that his father’s name was William, that he acted with Edmund Kean, taking the part of Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice, that he spent some time at Oxford (but not at the university) and came to London around 1836. Other sources suggest that as a young man he inherited a small legacy, married, and soon spent the money.

Edmund Kean (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833)
Edmund Kean (4 November 1787 – 15 May 1833)

He is supposed to have been brought up by his mother, his father having left home or died. He never contradicted the suggestion that he was the natural son of the fifth Earl of Carlisle, a relationship that might account for his forename, for the Earl’s family name was Howard: but the story is almost certainly untrue, not least because in all probability Howard Staunton was not his real name. A contemporary, Charles Tomlinson (18O8- 97), writes: ‘Rumour . . . assigned a different name to our hero [Staunton] when he first appeared as an actor and next as a chess amateur.

A stamp printed in Guinea-Bissau shows Howard Staunton, Chess players serie, circa 1988
A stamp printed in Guinea-Bissau shows Howard Staunton, Chess players serie, circa 1988

At the unusually late age of 26 Staunton became ambitious to succeed at chess; a keen patriot, his motivation may in part have sprung from a desire to avenge McDonnell’s defeat at the hands of a Frenchman. A rook player in 1836 (his own assessment), Staunton rose to the top in a mere seven years. In 1838 he played a long series of games with W. D. Evans and a match of 21 games with Alexandre in which he suffered ‘mortifying defeat’ during the early sittings; but he continued to study and to practise with great determination.

In 1840 he was strong enough to defeat H. W. Popert, a leading German player then resident in London. In the same year he began writing about the game. A short-lived column in the New Court Gazette began in May and ended in Dec. because, says G. Walker, there were ‘complaints of an overdose’. More successful was his work for the British Miscellany which in 1841 became the Chess Player’s Chronicle, England’s first successful chess magazine, edited by Staunton until 1854, Throughout 1842 Staunton played several hundred games with John Cochrane, then on leave from India, a
valuable experience for them both.

John Cochrane
John Cochrane

In 1843 the leading French player Saint-Amant visited London and defeated Staunton in a short contest -(+3 = 1—2), an event that attracted little attention; but later that year these two masters met in a historic encounter lasting from 14 Nov. to 20 Dec. This took place before large audiences in the famous Café de la Régence. Staunton’s decisive victory ( + 11 = 4—6) marked the end of French chess supremacy, an end that was sudden, complete, and long-lasting. From then until the 1870s London became the world’s chess centre. In Oct. 1844 Staunton travelled to Paris for a return match, but before play could begin he became seriously ill with pneumonia and the match was cancelled. Unwell for some months afterwards, he never fully
recovered: his heart was permanently weakened. In Feb. 1845 he began the most important of his journalistic tasks, one that he continued until his death: in the Illustrated London News he conducted the world’s most influential chess column. Each week he dealt with a hundred or more letters; each week he published one or more problems, the best of the time. In 1845 he conceded odds of pawn and two moves and defeated several of his countrymen and in 1846 he won two matches playing level: Horwitz (+14=3 — 7) and Harrwitz (+ 7). In 1847 Staunton published his most famous chess book, the Chess Player’s Handbook, from which many generations of English-speaking players learned the rudiments of the game: the last of 21 editions was published in 1939. He published the Chess Players Companion in 1849.

In 1851 Staunton organized the world’s first international tournament, held in London. He also played in it, an unwise decision for one burdened with the chore of organization at the same time. After defeating Horwitz (+4=1—2) in the second round he lost to Anderssen, the eventual winner. Moreover he was defeated by Williams, his erstwhile disciple, in the play-off for places. Later that year Staunton defeated Jaenlsch ( + 7=1 — 2) and scored +6 = 1—4 against Williams, but lost this match because he had conceded his opponent three
games’ start. In 1852 Staunton published The Chess Tournament, an excellent account of this first international gathering. Subsequently he unsuccessfully attempted to arrange a match with Anderssen, but for all practical purposes he retired from the game at this time.

The Chess Tournament London 1851
The Chess Tournament London 1851

Among his many chess activities Staunton had long sought standardization of the laws of chess and, as England’s representative, he crossed to Brussels in 1853 to discuss the laws with Lasa, Germany’s leading chess authority. Little progress was made at this time, but the laws adopted by FIDE in 1929 are substantially in accordance with Staunton’s views. This trip was also the occasion of an informal match, broken off when the score stood +5=3-4 in Lasa’s favour. Staunton took the match seriously, successfully requesting his English friends to send him their latest analyses of the opening.

Original Staunton chess pieces, left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king. Photo used by permission of Frank A. Camaratta, Jr.; The House of Staunton, Inc.; houseofstaunton.com
Original Staunton chess pieces, left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, and king. Photo used by permission of Frank A. Camaratta, Jr.; The House of Staunton, Inc.; houseofstaunton.com

Staunton had married in 1849 and, recognizing his new responsibilities, he now sought an occupation less hazardous than that of a chess-player. In 1856. putting to use his knowledge of Elizabethan and Shakespearian drama, he obtained a contract to prepare an annotated edition of Shakespeare’s plays. This was published in monthly instalments from Nov. 1857 to May 1860, a work that ‘combined commonsense with exhaustive research’. (In 1860 the monthly parts ready for binding in three volumes were reissued, in 1864 a four-volume reprint without illustrations was printed, and in 1978 the original version was published in one volume.) Staunton, who performed this task in a remarkably short period, was unable to accept a challenge from Morphy in 1858: his publishers would not release him from his contract. After the proposal for a match was abandoned Frederick Milnes Edge (c. 1830-82), a journalist seeking copy, stirred up a quarrel casting Staunton as the villain. Morphy unwisely signed some letters drafted by Edge, while Staunton, continuously importuned by Edge, was once driven to make a true but impolitely worded comment about Morphy. Generally however these two great masters behaved honourably, each holding the other in high regard; but Edge’s insinuations unfairly blackened Staunton’s reputation.

Subsequently Staunton wrote several books, among them Chess Praxis (I860) and the Great Schools of England (1865), revised with many additions in 1869. At the end of his life he was working on another chess book when, seized by a heart attack, he died in his library chair.

Staunton was no one’s pupil: what he learned about chess he learned by himself. For the most part he played the usual openings of his time but he introduced several positional concepts. Some of these had been touched upon by Philidqr, others were his own: the use of the ranch mo for strategic ends, the development of flank openings specially suited to pawn play. He may be regarded as the precursor of the hypermodern movement, the Staunton system the precursor of the Reti opening. In his Chess Players Companion Staunton remarks that after 1 e4 e5 Black’s game is embarrassed from the start, a remark anticipating Breyer’s ideas about the opening by more than half a century, Fischer wrote in 1964: “Staunton was the most profound opening analyst of all time. He was more theorist than player but none the less he was the strongest player of his day. Playing over his games I discover that they are completely modern.
Where Morphy and Steinitz rejected the fianchetto. Staunton embraced it. In addition he understood all the positional concepts which
modern players hold so dear, and thus with Steinitz must be considered the first modern player.

Tall, erect, broad-shouldered, with a leonine head, Staunton stood out among his fellows, walking like a king’. He dressed elegantly, even ostentatiously, a taste derived perhaps from his
background as an actor. G. A. Macdonnell describes him: “… wearing a lavender zephyr outside his frock coat. His appearance was slightly gaudy, his vest being an embroidered satin, and his scarf gold-sprigged with a double pin thrust in, the heads of which were connected by a glittering chain . . .’ A great raconteur, an excellent mimic who could entertain by his portrayals of Edmund Kean, Thackeray, and other celebrities he had met, he liked to hold the stage, ‘caring for no man’s anecdote but his own’. He could neither understand nor tolerate the acceptance of mediocrity, the failure of others to give of their best.

Howard Staunton (01-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)
Howard Staunton (01-iv-1810 22-vi-1874)

A man of determined opinions, he expressed them pontifically, brooking little opposition. Always outspoken, he often behaved, writes Potter, ‘with gross unfairness towards those whom he disliked, or from whom he suffered defeat, or whom he imagined to stand between himself and the sun’; ‘nevertheless’, he continues, ‘there was nothing
weak about him and he had a backbone that was never curved with fear of anyone.’ Widely disliked, Staunton was widely admired, a choice that would have been his preference. Reminiscing in 1897, Charles Edward Ranken (1828-1905) wrote: “With great defects he had great virtues; there was nothing mean, cringing, or small in his nature, and, taking all in all, England never had a more worthy
chess representative than Howard Staunton.

R. D. Keene and R. N. Coles Howard Staunton the English World Chess Champion (1975) contains biography, 78 games, and 20 parts of games.

Howard Staunton, The English World Chess Champion
Howard Staunton, The English World Chess Champion

The Staunton Defence has remained a completely playable gambit versus the Dutch Defence :

Blue Plaque for Howard Staunton
Blue Plaque for Howard Staunton
Howard Staunton's tombstone
Howard Staunton’s tombstone

Death Anniversary of Sir Richard Clarke KCB CB OBE (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975)

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.”

One of those sons is Charles Rodway Clarke along with his brothers Mark G and Timothy Rodway.

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.

Richard was educated at Christ’s Hospital, London followed by Clare College, Cambridge. At University he studied mathematics specialising in statistics. He was ranked at the sixth “wrangler“. Subsequently he was awarded the Frances Wood Prize by the Royal Statistical Society.

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.”

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld :

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 :

British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 49
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 49
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 50
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 50
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 51
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 51
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 52
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 52
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 53
British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXXIII, Number 2, February, 1963, page 53

The June 1975 issue of British Chess Magazine announces his passing and promises that a tribute would follow : it never did.

Sir Richard William Barnes Clarke (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975), National Portrait Gallery, Rex Coleman
Sir Richard Clarke (13-viii-1910 21-vi-1975), National Portrait Gallery, Rex Coleman

Here is his Wikipedia entry

Here is a small article from chess-poster.com

Here is detail about the Clarke Grading System

and more about chess ratings systems in general

The Economic Effort of War
The Economic Effort of War

Death Anniversary of Robin Matthews (16-vi-1927 19-vi-1983)

BCN remembers Robin Matthews CBE, FBA who died in Cambridge aged 83 on June 19th 2010. Probate (3367272) was granted in Ipswich, Suffolk on September 6th, 2010.

Robert (Robin) Charles Oliver Matthews was born in Edinburgh on Thursday, June 16th 1927. Born on the same day was England cricketer, Tom Graveney.

His English father, Oliver Harwood Matthews became an Edinburgh solicitor and his mother was Ida Matthews (née) Finlay.  Robin had a daughter Alison.

Academia

He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and then Corpus Christi College, Oxford becoming a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He went on to become a highly successful economist authoring at least twelve publications on the subject.

According to Wikipedia “He was the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford from 1965 to 1975 and the Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge from 1980 to 1991. He was also the Master of Clare College, Cambridge from 1975 to 1993.”

For a detailed description of this part of his life there is an excellent obituary / biography from the Australian economist, Geoffrey Harcourt.

Problem Composer

Brian Stephenson (BCPS) writes : “Probably the UK’s greatest composer of ‘mate in 3’ #ChessProblems . His chapters in the book you note were what got me hooked on chess composition. Nearly all of his output can be viewed at The Meson Database

Black Correction: Quaternary Play

First Prize, The Observer, 1964

Mate in three

According to David McKittrick in The Independent:

“Outside academia, Matthews was keen on chess, in particular setting problems and publishing two books on what are known as three-mover directmates, in which white is to move and checkmate black in no more than three moves against any defence.

Although this might be thought a particularly narrow point of interest, one enthusiast said of him that his writings “demonstrated a deep knowledge along with the feeling of wonder and curiosity about the subject”.

RCO Matthews
RCO Matthews

From The Oxford Companion to Chess by Hooper & Whyld:

“British Composer, International Judge of Chess Compositions (1957), International Master for Chess Compositions (1965), economist, appointed Master of Clare College, Cambridge in 1975. He has specialised in orthodox three movers and is among the world’s leaders in this field.”

Here is an obituary from The Daily Telegraph

and an obituary from The Independent

Chess Problems : Introduction to an Art
Chess Problems : Introduction to an Art

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

International Master of the F.I.D.E. for chess compositions (1965) and International Judge of the F.I.D.E. for Chess Compositions (1957). President of the British Chess Problem Society for 1971 and 1972. Professor of Economics at Oxford University.

Cyclic Overload Doubled

First Prize, British Chess Magazine, 1968

Mate in three

Born on 16th June 1927. Professor Matthews has composed about 200 problems, about 40 of them 1st prize winners, mainly strategic three-movers, He is one of the world’s best three move composers.

Nowotnys

British Chess Magazine, 1967

His best problems give clear-cut expression of complex themes, with proper attention given to key-move and by-play in the best English tradition.

Chess Problems : Introduction to an Art
Chess Problems : Introduction to an Art

The results are massive rather than elegant, but carefully constructed. Themes he has specialised in include overload White self-weakening and reciprocal change.”

R.C.O. Matthews
British Chess Magazine
1956

White to play and mate in three moves

From Wikipedia :

“Robert (Robin) Charles Oliver Matthews (16 June 1927 – 19 June 2010) was an economist and chess problemist.

Matthews was born in Edinburgh. He was educated at Edinburgh Academy and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and was a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. He was the Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford from 1965 to 1975 and the Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge from 1980 to 1991. He was also the Master of Clare College, Cambridge from 1975 to 1993.”

Birthday of GM Nigel Short (01-vi-1965)

BCN wishes Nigel Short a happy birthday on this day (June 1st) in 1965.

In the 1999 Queen’s Birthday Honours List Nigel was awarded the MBE. The citation read simply : “For services to Chess”.

Here is his extensive Wikipedia entry.

For the 1979 Spassky vs the BCF Junior Squad simultaneous display this was written : “Rating 213. World No.1, 13 year old. First Evening Standard under-10s, 1975. First under-14s, 1976. First under-21s, 1978.

British Men’s Lightning (10 seconds per move) champion 1978 – the youngest National Men’s Champion in chess history. Bronze medallist world under-17 championship 1979.

In simuls Nigel has beaten Korchnoi and Petrosian. World Nos. 2 and 4. Now he plays Spassky, World No.3.”

Nigel Short plays Joel Benjamin at Lloyd's Bank, 1976. 1-0, Maroczy Bind
Nigel Short plays Joel Benjamin at Lloyd’s Bank, 1976. 1-0, Maroczy Bind
Anatoly Karpov plays Nigel Short, London, Philips & Drew, French Winawer, 1/2-1/2, Stewart Reuben looking on
Anatoly Karpov plays Nigel Short, London, Philips & Drew, French Winawer, 1/2-1/2, Stewart Reuben looking on

Nigel Short
Nigel Short
Nigel analyses with Viktor Korchnoi, unknown date and venue
Nigel analyses with Viktor Korchnoi, unknown date and venue

Nigel Short
Nigel Short

Nigel Short Simultaneous display at the 2012 London Chess Classic, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Nigel Short Simultaneous display at the 2012 London Chess Classic, courtesy of John Upham Photography
Nigel Short : Chess Prodigy (1981)
Nigel Short : Chess Prodigy (1981)
Nigel Short's Chess Skills (1989)
Nigel Short’s Chess Skills (1989)
New Ideas in the French Defence (1991)
New Ideas in the French Defence (1991)
Nigel Short
Nigel Short

Death Anniversary of Henry Buckle (24-xi-1821 29-v-1862)

Death Anniversary of Henry Thomas Buckle (24-xi-1821 29-v-1862)

His Wikipedia article is here

An interesting article by Ray Keene

“One of the leading British players of his day and an eminent historian. Buckle was born in Lee, Kent on 11th November 1821., the son of a shipowner. From birth he was extremely delicate and his health prevented him from having a normal education. He was taken away from school at the age of 14 and three years later went into his father’s business. His father’s death in 1840 made Buckle independent and he gave up his business career and visited the continent for about a year, playing chess in Paris and Berlin. Going abroad again in 1843, Buckle spent most of his time studying languages and within seven years had learned to speak seven languages and to read 12 others.
Buckle rarely played chess matches, because of the intense dislike of the slow rate at which they were played in those days. However, he played a match against Kieseritzky in 1848, which he won+4 -3 =1/ After this victory, he realised that his health would not stand up to serious play and he never again attempted it. In 1851, he played a number of games with Anderssen, who considered that he was one of the strongest players he had ever met. Buckle was a regular visitor to “The Divan”, where he delighted in his favourite form of the game, giving heavy odds.
After his match with Lowenthal, Buckle turned his attention to his History of Civilisation. The first section of this work started to appear in 1857 but the major portion was published posthumously.
Buckle died of typhoid fever in Damascus on 29th May 1862.”

History of civilization in England
History of civilization in England

Death Anniversary of Guy Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

Death Anniversary of Guy Wills Chandler (21-viii-1889 25-v-1980)

From The Encyclopedia of Chess by Anne Sunnucks :

“International Judge of FIDE for Chess Compositions, Chandler, who was born on 21st August 1889, has composed about 125 two and three-move problems, all in traditional style. Some 30 have gained tourney honours. He was the chess editor of the Hampshire Telegraph and Post from 1911-1921 and he was a founder member of the British Chess Problem Society, Its Hon. Secretary from 1919 – 1925 and Hon. Secretary and Treasurer since 1951.

G.W.Chandler
Commended “The Problemist” 1960

White to play and mate in two moves

Death Anniversary of Brian Harley (27-x-1883 18-v-1955)

Brian Harley (27-10-1883 18-v-1955), from chesscomposers.com and Chess Notes
Brian Harley (27-10-1883 18-v-1955), from chesscomposers.com and Chess Notes

Death Anniversary of Brian Harley (27-x-1883 18-v-1955)

From chesscomposers.com :

“Brian Harley composed mostly two- or threemovers and wrote many books to make chess problems more popular: for instance his “Mate in Two Moves” inspired Geoff Foster’s first steps into problemdom.
Harley’s “The Modern Two-move Chess Problem” written in collaboration with Comins Mansfield is probably the best known of his efforts.

Brian Harley was the inventor of the term “mutate” for the block problems with changed mates. He was the president of the British Chess Problem Society from 1947 until 1949. In his honour, each year the British magazine “The Problemist” awards the best twomover problem with the “Brian Harley” award.”

and Edward Winter writes about Brian Harley (scroll down a little).

Here is BHs obituary from British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV, Number 9, pages 284 – 287 written by S. Sedgwick :

“With the death of Brian Harley on May 18th,1955, the chess problem is the poorer by an authoritative exponent, and a writer of unusual clarity and popular appeal. His sudden passing at his home at Bognor Regis will be mourned. by a very wide circle of friends; to his wife and son, with whom he enjoyed an enduring happiness, we extend our deep-felt sympathy.

Born at Saffron-Walden, Essex, on October 27th,1883, Harley was educated at Wellingborough and Haileybury. Qualifying as an actuary he entered the National Provident Institution, in whose employment, apart from War Service, he passed his professional life, until his retirement in 1947.

As a player he had initially a considerable reputation, above that enjoyed as a problemist. Two books, Chess and its Stars and Chess for the Fun of it, reflect this aspect of his chess work. When playing was eventually renounced for problems he still retained his love of annotation, bringing to this a wide knowledge, larded by the apt witticism and an approach that was neither superficial yet avoided the pitfalls of pedantry.

Chess and its Stars
Chess and its Stars

His first problem appeared at the age of fifteen, in 1898. Whilst Harley’s early period has some noteworthy items, it lacks the verve and distinction of his later output, following his awakening of interest in the mutate in 1916_and the fertile years following his appointment as Chess Editor of The Observer, London, in 1919. In England under the lead o[ Phillip Williams in the Chess Amateur, the mutate had sprung into,popularity during and after the Great War, with Harley among its ardent exponents. He continued the cult in his Observer column, where he did much to popularize it. It is possibly symbolic that when Williams died in 1922 his travelling board and men should pass to Harley; it would be difficult to find a comparable instrument that has witnessed the genesis of so much concentrated chess devilry, implicit in all mutates, as this board used first by Williams and then by Harley.

In July, 1919, Harley published his system in the Good Companion folder. This paper, the outcome of much thought, attempted to evaluate the constituent parts of a chess problem on a semi-mathematical basis. Point values were set down for the elements in White keys, Black defences thereto, and the resultant White mates, the summation giving values for comparison with other works similarly treated. In an accompanying paper on the block-change it was here that Harley introduced the term “mutate,” the word passing, without cavil, into the current idiom. Under the evocative power of Harley’s work and pen his Observer feature from 1919 onwards has come to rank with the great columns of the past. No composer of substance was absent from its pages and the result is a collection of works and descriptive criticism that has enriched the chess literature of the world. Early on, Harley came to know the late Godfrey Heathcote, and the welcome presence of the great composers name in the column gave it a sublimity possessed by no other comparable English journal. Harley’s comments on his contributors work was one of the many attractive features of his column. He kept the popular approach very much in mind without unduly over-weighting it; this, blended with a brand of humour all his own (often literary in character), and a grasp of essentials drove home the salient points of a problem to the uninitiated solver with a peculiar vividness. He could ‘be incisive when wanted, technical when he pleased, his gentle rebuke for the inferior production or undetected flaw could not be other than well taken, authoritative without ostentation, his succinct criticisms are now legendary to be treasured and repeated when the occasion demands. An incorrigible faddist in his regard for the short threat in the three-mover, Harley seldom admitted this type to his pages, pleading aversion by solvers. He conducted over one hundred solving contests during his column’s life; these weekly battles of wits affording enormous pleasure to all concerned.

Chess for the Fun of It
Chess for the Fun of It

To his column came the established composer and the hesitant, possibly young, beginner. To this last group Harley gave every encouragement and unreservedly of his advice and help. There must be few British composers who have not felt his benefit directly, through the medium of his wonderful letters, lit all the way through by the warm glow of an endearing personality.

Harley’s constructive powers brought him to the front rank of the world’s composers. His output of 450 includes long range work in four and five moves and in later years, sui-mates. In the chess-men he found a pliable medium for the realization of an unusual vision and creative gift. In the two-mover he gave to the mutate much substantial and classic work. He appears to have given to this type more specialized attention than any other in the two-move field. Elsewhere in this length his work covers a wide variety of themes with a strong liking for task renderings. A composer with few serious constructive foibles, his mode of expression, in consequence suffered little. His was not the temperament to linger with one theme and squeeze it dry. One or two renderings of the theme on hand and he would pass to the next. Hence the diversity of his work which imbues it with especial charm. To underline this point one could indicate, almost at random, Harley’s entries in the multimate tourney of the Cleveland Chess Bulletin. Certainty the theme had few attractions for him but his entries showed how superbly such problem ideas could be clothed.

In the three-mover Harley has graced both sides of the aesthetic fence, and that with distinction, giving equally to the strategic and model-mate.genre. His friendship with Heathcote however influenced him considerably here and one is inclined to the view, that in this length, Harley held firmly to the eternal values in chess art. In both types Harley attained especially in task renderings, rare heights of complexity and construction. His lighter mood showed to the full-to the incipient solver much of the low cunning of which the three-mover is capable.

He came to the sui in the late forties. When Heathcote was convalescing in London, following an operation, Harley took some specimens with him when he visited his friend The ensuing discussion stimulated Harley to further experiments and the authentic touch of the great master of technique is evident in his work here also. Harley gave many of his works to his own “Observer” column but did not neglect the other sources of publication. To quote his own words his ideal problem was “a mixture of art, science, humour, and puzzlement.” His best work shows brilliantly his love for the integration of the beautiful and the true inner essence and spirit of chess.

His contribution to the literary and technical side of chess problems outside his journalistic work is seen in his two books Mate in Two (1931) and Mate in Three (1943).
Mate in Two is stamped with all Harley’s inimitable style and remains a mine of information for all levels. Standing, as it does, mid-way between the old and the new, the book, apart from an absorbing chapter on changed play, reflects and even labours under the influence of the “Good Companion” period. Harley in later editions to a certain extent remedied this deficiency and the book, now long out of print, lies on our shelf, its fundamentals unimpaired, as one of the classic expositions in the art. Mate in Three, written from a’ narrower viewpoint, proved another successful publication. Here Harley entered more controversial ground, crossing swords. with hitherto established theory. The book, although not evoking absolute technical authority, gives a broad and eloquent outline, written from the artistic standpoint, of three-move work fundamentally, with few significant omissions. Made memorable by the inclusion of many works both by Harley and Heathcote, the book is that of a true artist, and is of great importance theoretically as the one modern work devoted to this length by an English author.

A further important contribution to chess problem theory was his thesis on “Black Correction” read before the British Chess Problem Society on November 29th, 1935. In the mid thirties, this thesis, more than anything else, was instrumental in precipitating a flood of work on correction and associated ideas. Readers of this magazine will recall this period, and I trust that this short recapitulation will still the tiresome arguments regarding the choice between “correction” and “continued defences.” Harley’s choice is at once apt and descriptive and it should not be forgotten that here, he touched upon White Correction, an esoteric aristocrat, greeted by ten years or so of utter silence before systematic investigation by the moderns.

Elected President of the British Chess Problem Society in 1947-1949 it so happened that I was its Secretary at the time. We exchanged hundreds of letters on problematic subjects, the scope of his knowledge always affording surprise. The Society benefited enormously from his advice and counsel, and during the somewhat delicate situation arising from the arbitration in the two-move section of the 1948 Olympic Tourney it was with alacrity that one turned to a mind of the calibre of Harley. Coming to the man he was widely read, a Latin scholar, and his knowledge of Dickens was above average; a keen bridge player, an instrumentalist (piano), all the varied facets of his character would come out at some time in his chess writings. His physical presence at any gathering gave it stature. Of medium height, lovable, somewhat dapper, the shrewd contemplative face of this chess Barrie with its ever present cigarette holder and fund of anecdote has enriched and enlivened many a dull Committee Meeting.

Mate in Two Moves
Mate in Two Moves

On the death of Anthony Guest in 1925, Harley succeeded as Problem Editor of the Morning Post until 1932. In addition he was Problem Editor of Empire Review, 1923-1926, and Time and Tide, from 1951 until his death. Lesser appointments included several technical journals where he acted under pseudonyms. Amusing were the anagrammatical pseudonyms used occasionally for composing in Hilary Bream and Harry Blaine.

Brian’s integrity and character endeared him to innumerable correspondents and solvers. Most of us nourish a characteristic Brian Harley story; one must suffice here. It concerns the time when Brian was introduced to the late Sir John Simon who made the delightful response “l need no introduction for I meet him every Sunday and for years hive wrestled with his problems, eventually solving them in the House of Commons.” For this weekly enrichment of our lives we have much to thank him for.

In middle life Brian married Ella Margaret Beddall; there is one son, Nigel. With his wife, Brian shared many problematic triumphs and it was to her that his various
books were dedicated.

Mate in Three Moves
Mate in Three Moves

Before closing this brief review of Brian’s achievements a word should be said regarding the summary end of his work in the Observer and a tribute paid by one of his many solvers in this column. On the former it will be regarded with universal regret by all problemists that no arrangements have been made to continue Brian’s incomparable’work in the journal he served with such distinction. Regarding the latter am very grateful to Halford W. L. Reddish, Esq., for an appreciation that admirably epitomizes the feelings of us all on this melancholy occasion.

Mr. Halford Reddish writes-

“l am one of thousands of solvers, from the expert to the merest tyro, who will miss our weekly battle with Brian Harley in the Observer. In the world of chess and chess problems his name and fame are secure. His characteristically titled Chess for the Fun of It is a delightful exposition of the game: his Mate in Two Moves and Mate in Three Moves are classics in their particular field.

To those of us who knew Brian personally his passing leaves an unfillable gap. I had known him and admired him and loved his witty, cheery, kindly personality for many years. He was one of those rare beings who became a close friend even before our first meeting-for we had corresponded for a long time before we first came face to face. And although chess and chess problems were our primary link he had many other interests which kept him young and keen in mind after his retirement from business and which enlarged and enriched his correspondence. It is typical of him that no letter came from him without some mention of his dear wife, who shared to the full his varied interests. To her and to his only son to the deep sympathy of his many friends.”

Death Anniversary of Harold Murray (24-vi-1868 16-v-1955)

BCN remembers Harold Murray who passed away on Monday, May 16th, 1955.

Harold James Ruthven Murray was born on Wednesday, 24th June 1868 in Camberwell, London. He was the eldest son of Sir James Augustus Henry Murray 1837–1915 and  Ada Agnes Ruthven 1845–1936. Sir James was famously the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

From British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV (125, 1955), Number 8 (August), pp. 233-4 we have this obituary from DJ Morgan:

“The great historian of chess died in May last, at the age of eighty-six. Some of the early results of his researches into the origins of the game were published in this magazine, and a reference to the “B.C.M.” volumes for the first fifteen years of this century will reveal a wealth of articles of permanent value. A tribute to our late and
distinguished contributor has been unavoidably delayed.

Murray was the eldest son of Sir James A. H. Murray, the pioneering editor of the great Oxford English Dictionary, and was born in Camberwell on June 24th, 1868. He went to Mill Hill School, took an Open Mathematical Exhibition to Balliol College, Oxford, and left the University, in 1890, with a First Class in the Final Mathematical School. Subsequently, teaching engagements took him to Taunton, Carlisle, and Ormskirk. From 1891 to 1900 he was Headmaster of Ormskirk Grammar School, which he left to become a Board of Education Inspector of Schools.

Taunton gave him an enthusiasm for chess. At Ormskirk he helped to found a club, which he captained from 1896 to 1900. His interest in the history of the game had been aroused in 1893, and when, in 1897, he received encouragement from such a notable authority as Baron von der Lasa, historical research became his ruling passion. In his own words his aim was to trace the development of the modern European game from the first appearance of its ancestor, the Indian chaturanga, in the beginning of the seventh century of our era.

Many books had been written on the history of chess, but none had covered exactly the whole story as he envisaged it. Hyde, in 1694, and another Englishman, Forbes, in 1860, had in the main confined their attention to Oriental chess. Other investigators, such as Sir William Jones on Indian chess (1790), Cox on Burma chess (1803 and 1807), and Bland on Persian chess (1852), had published their conclusions in journals of Asiatic studies. The great German writer, von der Lasa, in 1897, treated almost exclusively of the European game. Van der Linde alone had dealt with both Oriental and European chess, but it was in three distinct works (1874-81).

Van der Linde was able to incorporate the results of Weber’s examination of the early references to chess in Sanskrit literature, and to show that Forbes’s History was both inaccurate and misleading.

Since the publication of Linde’s Geschichte there had been many additions to our knowledge of various aspects of chess history, mostly scattered in isolated papers. So, continues Murray, he set about collecting and collating all available material and making it easily accessible to English readers.

Murray was able to call on the help of acknowledged scholars in the many languages, obsolete and obsolescent, into which his researches led him. Above all, his work was largely based upon his own studies of original materials. The manuscripts and rare books in the unrivalled collections of J. G. White, of Cleveland, Ohio, and of J. W. Rimington Wilson in this country, were placed unreservedly at his disposal, as were the resources of other collectors and libraries.

As an example of his devotion to his work, he made a thorough study of Arabic, and it was his knowledge of this language which enabled him to make his remarkable discovery of the chess-work of Allajlaj, a Mohammedan chess master of the tenth century. The fascinating story of the recovery of these oldest recorded games is told in the “British Chess Magazine” of November, 1903.

Murray thus brought a fine scholarship to his immense task. He had, in addition, the true historian’s gifts of meticulous research, of grasp of detail, of the critical sifting of evidence; to this scientific technique was added the art of lucid exposition.
In his hands, it can be said, the chess-player’s elements of time, space, and material were used to range through most of the centuries of the Christian era.

A History of Chess
A History of Chess

The History appeared in 1913, from the same University Press, he was proud to think which, more than 200 years before, had published Thomas Hyde’s Mondragorios seu Historia Shohiludii. The huge volume of 900 pages, lavishly illustrated and with scores of chess diagrams, was received with world-wide acclamation. From ancient “Indian Board-games” to “Steinitz and his School,” the vast field had been covered with great authority. The book is in two parts, “Chess in Asia” and “Chess in Europe,” but through it all runs the absorbing story of how the game, in play and in problem, in its practice and in its laws, has developed and spread. From India to Persia, to Islam as a result of the Mohammedan conquest of Persia, from Islam to Spain, and thence to Christian Europe, chess has followed the great political and religious movements. It is very improbable that chess was played in England before the Norman Conquest. That it was familiar to the Norman Kings in the eleventh century is certain from the evidence of the word exchequer, which was applied to the table “upon which the accounts were worked out by means of a cloth divided into strips about a footwide, on which counters, representing the moneys, were placed and moved.”

This must suffice. The work is one to browse in and to dip into through the years. Murray has left an enduring monument, the greatest book ever written on the game. We can but touch briefly on other aspects of his varied and active life. Following his retirement from the Board of Education, in 1928, he took an active interest in Local Government work. He became Chairman of the Fernhurst Parish Council, and was a member of the Midhurst R.D.C., 1931-55, being Chairmain of its Housing
Committee from 1938 to 1948.

In 1952 he published A History of Board Gomes Other Than Chess.

A History of Board Games other than Chess
A History of Board Games other than Chess

He also wrote a Shorter History of Chess and a History of Draughts (both unpublished), and spent much time working on mathematical problems connected with Knights’ Tours and Magic Tours. His work on these investigations is also unpublished, but a good deal remains in typescript in fairly complete form.

Apart from his interest in board games and mathematics, he was interested in genealogy, and did research on his own and his wife’s families. Up to his death he was working on local history and was writing a history of Heyshott, the village to which he retired. Walking, in his younger days, and bird-watching in his middle years, were amongst his otter recreations.

A game of chess he. always enjoyed, but not under the rigorous conditions of matches and tournaments.

His son, Major D. M. J. Murray, Royal Engineers, was killed in Hong Kong in 1941. The chess world’s sympathy with his second son Mr. K.C. Murray of the Antiquities Service, Nigeria, and with his daughter, Miss K. M. E. Murray, M.A., Principal of the Bishop
Otter College, Chichester, is but a small expression of its sense of indebtedness to their distinguished father.-D. J. M.”

Following this obituary a letter from Alex Hammond appeared in British Chess Magazine, Volume LXXV (125, 1955), Number 9 (September), page 270 as follows:

“Dear Mr. Reilly,
Murray was, indeed a very great man, though a few of us were privileged to know him intimately, as his nature was shy and retiring.

For myself, I shall always treasure his memory, as when I wrote my The Book of Chessmen he gave me freely of his knowledge, and saved me from many errors.

Any person who attempts to write on chess history will always find real difficulty in discovering anything of interest which does not appear in his monumental “History.”

Probably his like will not be seen again, as such patient industry, deep knowledge, and tremendous perseverance are unlikely to be combined in a single personage again.

Yours sincerely,
Alex Hammond
16 Burlington Arcade, London, W1

The Book of Chessmen, Alexander Hammond, Arthur Barker Ltd., London, 1950
The Book of Chessmen, Alexander Hammond, Arthur Barker Ltd., London, 1950

From The Oxford Companion to Chess (Oxford University Press, 1984 & 1996) by Hooper & Whyld:

“Foremost chess historian, school inspector. His A History of Chess (1913), perhaps the most important chess book in English, was the result of about 14 years of research inspired by Lasa, and grounded on van der Linde’s work. During that period Murray contributed 35 articles to the British Chess Magazine , some of which outlined his discoveries. Most of the 900-page History is concerned with the evolution of modern chess from its oriental precursor up to the 17th century. He learned Arabic so that he could read important manuscripts, and in addition to his own circle he was able to solicit help from colleagues of his father Sir James A. H. Murray, editor-in-chief of the Oxford English Dictionary; who was also aided by J. G. White, with both advice and the loan of rare books from the Cleveland collection, and by many others. His book includes an authoritative account of both Mansubat and medieval problems. (See also history of chess.) In 1952 he published a companion volume, A History of Board Games other than Chess.

While the scholarship of his chess book has never been questioned it is too detailed for the average chess-player. Aware of this problem, Murray wrote a briefer work approaching the topic in a more popular way. The manuscript, unfinished at his death, was completed and published in 1963 as A Short History of Chess. (See Civis Bononiae.)

A Short History of Chess
A Short History of Chess

From The Encyclopaedia of Chess (Batsford, 1977), Harry Golombek OBE :

“Chess historian and a Board of Education Inspector of Schools. Appropriately enough, a son of the pioneering editor of the great Oxford English Dictionary, he became interested in the history of chess in the early 1890s. Up to this time the historical writings on chess in English had been unhistorical. In order to fit himself for the task Murray learned several languages including Arabic and he also studied the true historians of chess, the German writers, Van der Linde and Von der Lassa.

In his own words his aim was to trace the development of the modern European game from the first appearance of its ancestor, the Indian chaturanga, in the beginning of the seventh century of our era. This he did in a vast work of some 900 pages published in Oxford in 1913. An immense amount of painstaking research had gone into the work and only a man of Murray’s great learning could have attempted it.

It at once became the standard book on the subject and has remained so ever since. Murray left behind among his papers an unfinished work A Short History of Chess which took the history of the game up to 1866 which gave a clearer and more readable account of the history of the game than his main work. This was brought up to date by Goulding-Brown and Golombek and published in Oxford in 1963.”

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

“The chess historian who wrote the History of Chess, published by Oxford University Press in 1913. Murray was born in Camberwell on 24th June, 1868, the eldest son of Sir James Murray, the first editor of the Oxford English Dictionary. After graduating from Balliol College, Oxford, with a First Class in the Final Mathematical School, in 1890 Murray became a master at Queen’s College, Taunton, where he learned to play chess. He later taught at Carlisle Grammar School and in 1896 became the headmaster of Ormskirk Grammar School. About 1893 his interest in the history of the game was aroused, and four years later, encouraged by the great German writer and authority on the game, Baron Von der Lasa, his historical researches began.
From 1901-1928 he was a Board of Education Inspector of Schools, an appointment which made it difficult for him to play much chess. He began to turn his attention more and more to the history of the game, contributing articles to The British Chess Magazine and Deutsches Wochenschach. He made the acquaintance of J. J. White of Cleveland, Ohio, owner of the largest chess library in the world, and was given access to this collection, as well as one owned by J. W. Rimington Wilson in England. White’s library contained a number of Arabic manuscripts, and, in order to be able to study them, Murray learned Arabic. The History of Chess took him 13 years to complete.

On his retirement from the Board of Education, Murray served as Chairman of Fernhurst Parish Council and was a member of Midhurst R.D.C. from 1931-1955 and was Chairman of its Housing Committee from 1938-1948. His other interests, apart from chess, were genealogy, local history, walking and bird watching. In 1952 he published A History of Board Games Other than Chess.

After his death A Short History of Chess was found uncompleted among his papers. Additional chapters were added by B. Goulding Brown and H. Golombek, and it was published in 1963.”

(Bertram Goulding Brown was a tournament chess player and a contributor to British Chess Magazine. He was born 5 July 1881 and died 22 August 1965 in the United Kingdom.)

You may read the entire book here

From Amazon :

“Harold James Ruthven Murray was born on 24 June 1868. His first book A History of Chess was published by Oxford University Press in 1913. Murray covered the first 1,400 years of the game’s history in definitive detail. He died on 16 May 1955. He left several more manuscripts which are being held by Oxford University.”

According to Edward Winter in Chess Notes HJRM lived 53 Hagley Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England (Ranneforths Schach-Kalender, 1915, page 71).

Here is his Wikipedia entry

and here is an excellent article from Edward Winter.

Birthday of Mark Crowther (16-v-1966)

Birthday of TWIC founder, Mark Crowther (16-v-1966)

From Wikipedia :

The Week in Chess (TWIC) is one of the first, if not the first, Internet-based chess news services. It is based in the United Kingdom.

TWIC has been edited by Mark Crowther since its inception in 1994.[1] It began as a weekly Usenet posting, with “TWIC 1” being posted to Usenet group rec.games.chess on 17 September 1994.[2] Later it moved to Crowther’s personal web site, then to chesscenter.com in 1997,[3] and in 2012 it moved to theweekinchess.com.[4]

It contains both chess news, and all the game scores from major events.

TWIC quickly became popular with professional chess players, because it allowed them to quickly get results and game scores, where previously they had relied on print publications.[5]

TWIC still exists as a weekly newsletter, although for important events the TWIC website is updated daily. It remains a popular site for up-to-date chess news.[6]