Happy Birthday IM Richard Pert (22-i-1981)
We send birthday wishes to GM Neil McDonald born on this day (January 21st) in 1967.
From Wikipedia :
Neil McDonald (born 21 January 1967) is an English chess grandmaster and a player on the international chess circuit. He is an English Chess Federation coach, who has trained many of the country’s strongest junior players. McDonald is a regular coach of the English junior team and was Head Coach of the English Chess Federation team at the Greece World Schools Championship in 2013. He regularly escorts blind and partially sighted chess players to international World Championship events and is also a chess writer.
McDonald authored the French Defence monthly updates on chesspublishing.com from October 1999 until March 2009, 1 e4 … updates from November 2009 until January 2010, 1 e4 … from June 2014 until February 2015 and returned to 1 e4 … in March 2017 until January 2018.
Neil shared first place in the 1986 GLC Masters with Jonathan Levitt, was outright first at the Elekes Memorial, 1995, first at The Leinster IM Tournament in Dublin, 1997, and other tournaments since. Neil plays for Wood Green in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL).
He became an International Master in 1986 and was awarded the Grandmaster title in 1996.
McDonald obtained his FIDE Trainer qualification in 2016.
Neil is a prolific and successful author, most recently with “Coach Yourself”
but also thirty eight titles for Chess Press, BT Batsford Ltd. and Everyman Chess Books.
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to Paul Littlewood
Paul Edwin Littlewood was born on Wednesday, January 18th, 1956 in Skegness, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire. His parents were John and Jean Littlewood (née) Hadwick. Paul’s chess playing uncle was Norman Littlewood.
Paul attended Glenburn Comprehensive School in Skelmersdale from 1967 and then read Natural Sciences at Christ’s College, Cambridge from 1974.
Paul played badminton for Lancashire and Cambridge and, in 1971, won the English Schools Mixed Championship when he was 15 years old.
On leaving University Paul taught science at Southbrook Comprehensive, Daventry. Four years later Paul became a dealer at Phillips & Drew and followed this as an Executive Director at Goldman Sachs. Stays at Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan were followed by a change of direction and since then Paul has been director of various food supply companies retiring in 2014.
Paul is married (3rd November 2006) to (his second wife) Fiona and lives in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.
PEL won the ECF President’s Award in 2007 and from the 2008 ECF Yearbook we have the following citation :
“International Master and accomplished bridge player. From British Chess champion (1981) Paul has presided over the 4NCL as chairman during its most successful period. When he became chairman over ten years ago the league consisted of two divisions and 32 teams. The league has now expanded to four divisions and a total of 72 teams. Most of England’s juniors play 4NCL. During this time 4NCL became one of the strongest leagues in Europe, at one time boasting a Division 1 rivalling the Bundesliga in strength in the top matches.
Paul has demonstrated the sound judgement of Solomon when dealing with league disputes and has drawn on his business acumen, honed during a successful career in the City with Goldman Sachs to make 4NCL the financially stable and expanding league it is today.”
Roll of Honour
- British U18 Champion 1972
- British U21 Champion 1975
- British Champion 1981
- As a junior represented England in Glorney Cup
- International Master 1980
“Paul Littlewood was destined to become a strong player from birth. His father John was for some time one of the strongest players in the country and represented England on many occasions. His uncle Norman was for a few years not far behind. Paul, however, has surpassed them both and has become the first in the family to reach IM status. (Ed: JEL was very much worthy of the IM title but insufficient events of the right type held him back).
All three are essentially attacking players. There have been times in recent years when play at the Hastings Premier has become dull. However, Paul one of the English representatives at the last three tournaments, was certainly not to blame. (His game against Brito of Brazil which follows is a striking example of this).”
Coached by his father, Paul became British U18 champion in 1972 and three years later became British U21 champion.
Clearly more interested in an academic career he went up to Cambridge and then followed his father into the teaching profession. Opportunities to play in strong tournaments were thus very limited. These opportunities, however, were grasped in both hands. Three times in thirteen months between August 1978 and August 1979 he obtained an IM norm and thus the title.
The first caused a sensation as it was totally unexpected. He shared first place at Lloyds Bank ahead of several grandmasters including Shamkovich, who was the first grandmaster he ever defeated.
Eight months later Aaronson Masters was won and then came the final norm, also at Lloyds Bank.
Tournaments abroad were limited although he represented England students. He did play at Kringsja (2nd equal) in 1978 and Borovo where he scored 6.5.13 finishing ahead of 3 GMs.
In 1981 came his finest achievement – winning the British Championship with a massive 9/11.
His father who was also competing in the championship was as proud as could be and deservedly so (he also coached Sheila Jackson who retained her British Ladies Championship that year). His excellent all round play took him to the title and only once during the tournament did he stand worse. His endgame play was so good that CHESS even published an article solely on these endings.
Duties at school in Daventry meant he was, in February 1982, unable to take part in the zonal at Marbella. This followed an excellent Hastings when as British Champion he made a plus score – a rare event indeed.
In the summer he gave up teaching and joined Phillips & Drew (stockbrokers). He now (ed : this was in 1983) lives with his (first) wife Sue and family in the wilds of Essex (Billericay).
Paul gives a simultaneous display in Letchworth.
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Andrew P Horton (15-i-1998)
Andrew became a FIDE Master in 2015 and an International Master in 2018 following the 89th FIDE Congress 2018, 26 Sep – 6 Oct, Batumi, Georgia.
Andrew represents the 3Cs club in the Manchester League and in the Four Nations Chess League (4NCL) (as well as Wood Green) and, in addition, Wotton Hall, Durham City (during his University years) and Northumberland CA for county matches.
Andrew made regular appearences at the Delancey UK Chess Challenge and was placed 1st in the 2014 Terafinal, Challengers section.
In 2021 Andrew was invited and played in the London Chess Classic at the Cavendish Conference Centre.
Andrew’s ECF standard play rating at January 2023 is 2452K.
We send birthday wishes to GM Keith Arkell, born this day (January 8th) in 1961.
Here is Keith’s Wikipedia entry
This was written about Keith aged 18 prior to the 1979 Spassky vs the BCF Junior Squad simultaneous display :
“Rednal, Birmingham. Rating 188. 2nd Lloyds Bank junior international, 1979.”
Here is an interview with ChessBase from 2016.
BCN has reviewed Arkell’s Endings in depth
BCN wishes Happy Birthday to IM Byron Anthony Jacobs (25-vi-1963)
Byron originates from Sir John Betjeman’s favourite town (Slough) and attended Slough Grammar and then The University of Sussex (Falmer).
He was Standard London under-16 champion in 1979. He was 3rd= in the 1982 Danish U-18 International. He was 3rd= in the 1988 Guernsey Open. His last recorded event in Megabase 2020 was in 1998.
Byron became a FIDE Master in 1983 and an International Master and in 1988 achieved a peak rating of 2390 in July 1987 at the age of 24.
Having given up competitive chess Byron became a successful poker player and commentator and has written on the subject.
Byron is a director of Brighton based First Rank Publishing and is specialist chess typesetter and Chief Advisor for Everyman Publishing and others and was pivotal in Brighton based, Chess Press.
Byron was the typesetter for British Chess Magazine from 2011 – 2012.
Byron is an accomplished chess author with many titles to his name :
BCN sends birthday wishes to IM Shreyas (known as “Shrey” by his friends) Royal born on Friday, January 9th, 2009. “Hallelujah” by Alexandra Burke was number one in the UK hit parade.
Shreyas attended The Pointer School in Blackheath, London, SE3 whose motto is “The Lord is my Shepherd”. Currently Shreyas is home schooled.
In October 2021 BCN secured an interview with Shreyas via his father Jitendra and below is mostly from that interview:
BCN: What caused his initial interest in chess and at what age?
His initial interest in chess was capturing or as he used to call it ‘eating’ pieces but as he grew more mature, he loved that there were so many possibilities in chess, so much still left to explore! At the Age of 6 he learnt and got an interest in chess.
BCN: Has Shreyas had any chess teachers or coaches?
- Jyothi Lal N. with a peak of 2250 FIDE but is very knowledgeable and helped from just above beginner to 1800. He was Shreyas’s first coach.
- Meszaros Gyula (Julian) who was an IM with a peak of 2465 FIDE and was an endgame master which helped him from 1800-2100.
- His Current Coach is GM John Emms with a peak of around 2600 FIDE, he is an expert in many fields such as Positional Play, Openings, Strategic chess etc and has also made a big impact on how to prepare against opponents. He had helped him from 2100-2300 so far in just under a year!
BCN: Which chess clubs and/ or Teams does Shreyas represent?
He represents SV Erkenschwick from Germany and Wasa SK from Sweden for online events as he has joined them during the pandemic. He started his 4NCL career with KJCA Kings in January 2019 but now mainly represents Wood Green which he has played for in online events in and will also represent them in the upcoming 4NCL weekends.
His first appearance in Megabase 2022 comes from the 2015 British Under-8 Championship in Coventry, the eventual winner being Dhruv Radhakrishnan.
Progress from those early days has only been interrupted by school examination breaks and the Covid pandemic:
In August 2016 in Bournemouth Shreyas scored an impressive 6/6 to win the British Under-8 Championship.
BCN: What was his first memorable tournament success?
This was the 2016 European Schools Under-7 championship where he was runner-up without any preparation or work on chess!
In September 2017 Shreyas travelled to Mamaia in Romania and after nine hard fought rounds tied for first place with 8/9 in the European Youth Chess Championship, Under-8 with Giang Tran Nam (HUN, 1561).
In 2021 Shreyas was awarded the FM title by FIDE:
BCN: Which chess players past & present are inspirational for him?
- Magnus Carlsen, world champion and broke many FIDE records also is an inspiration for most of this generation. He likes his slow grinding and almost winning from any opening or ending. This is his favourite player of all time.
- Garry Kasparov played brilliant attacking chess and calculated like a machine.
- Bobby Fischer played a similar style to Kasparov but was more talented than both Magnus and Kasparov in his opinion as he worked all by himself at a time in the USA when chess was not so popular while for the Russians, they had brilliant coaches and had one good player after the other. He rates him a bit lower because Fischer quit competitive chess a bit too early and could not reach the heights he was worthy of.
- Alireza Firouzja
- Fabiano Caruana
BCN: What are his favourite openings with the White pieces?
He plays 1.d4 pretty much all the time.
MegaBase 2020 has 294 games with 1.d4 and one solitary 1.g3 from March 2021. The 1.d4 games feature main line Queen’s Gambit / Catalan type positions championing 5.Nge2 against the King’s Indian Defence and the exchange variation against the Grunfeld.
BCN: and what are his preferred defences as the second player?
Really depends on what they play, against every opening he has got one or two lines which he enjoys equally.
Megabase 2022 informs us that Shreyas defends the main line Closed Variation of the Ruy Lopez and main line Giuoco Piano. Previously he essayed the Sicilian Najdorf.
BCN: Does he have any favourite chess books?
Not really as he is not such a big fan of chess books, but he likes My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer. Fundamental Chess Endings and Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations.
BCN: Which tournaments are planned for 2022?
We have pencilled in a couple of norm and Open (France, Spain, Germany etc.) tournaments in European countries.
BCN: What are his favourite subjects outside of chess?
His favourite subjects outside chess are Science, History, Maths with Science as his favourite, History as his second favourite and Maths as his third favourite.
BCN: Does Shreyas play any physical sports?
He does Football, Cricket and a bit of Lawn Tennis.
BCN: What are his plans and aspirations for the future?
To become a world chess champion one day, but it’s very expensive to even get to the level of IM! Currently we are looking for sponsors who can help support Shreyas to get there.
Here is his personal website.
In late December 2021 Camberley Chess Club had Shreyas as their weekly Zoom meeting guest speaker.
and finally three of SRs favourite games:
and from more recent times:
From September 9-14, 2022, Shreyas achieved his first IM norm at the Mindsports GM Tournament in London and earned his second norm, along with a joint 3rd, at the Hit-A-Open Tournament in Slovenia between September 16-22, 2022
At the 4th FIDE Congress of 2022 Shreyas was awarded the IM title and his FIDE standard play rating stands at 2456.
Most recently he has achieved his first GM norm.
Further background here from Leonard Barden.
BCN remembers GM Dr. Jonathan Penrose OBE who passed away on Tuesday, November 30th, 2021.
In the 1971 New Years Honours List Jonathan was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) The citation read “For services to Chess.”
In 1993 following representations by Bob Wade and Leonard Barden FIDE granted the title of Grandmaster to Jonathan. Here is a detailed discussion of that process. Note that this was not an Honorary title (as received by Jacques Mieses and Harry Golombek).
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.”
Here is his Wikipedia entry
“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.”
Here is a discussion about Jonathan on the English Chess Forum
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.”
Penrose was Southern Counties Champion for 1949-50.
Sadly, there is no existent book on the life and games of Jonathan Penrose : a serious omission in chess literature.