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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:27 pm 
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I've been looking for more information on this "British Master" title, and found the following thread (from March 2009):

viewtopic.php?f=25&t=1523&start=0

As that thread was mostly about the introduction of a new title, I'm pulling some of the history here, in the hope that more light can be shed on this system, when it started and who held (and still holds) the title.

Paul McKeown:

"British Federations (England, Scotland, Wales) formerly had a process for awarding the British Master title, which was mutually recognised. Titles formerly awarded have not been revoked and there are still a number of living holders of this title. The standard was set at a much higher level than 200 ECF (in fact the FIDE International Master title was viewed as being of similar, perhaps even lower standard than the BM title). This surely was a National Master title, and as such it should be changed only with a great deal of forethought, and with the agreement of the Welsh and the Scots?"

It was disconcerting to read there that there was an "old (British) Candidate Master title". I've heard of the FIDE Candidate Master title, and I'd heard of the Soviet Candidate Master title, so were there really *three* different titles all called "Candidate Master"?

E Michael White:

"If anyone is interested, the British Master title BM was dumbed down in 1972 to be awarded to any British nationals, who were established at over 216 on any one of various criteria. The reason for 216 was that it was mid way between the entry level to FIDE ratings, then 2250 and IM level of 2400. Ian Thompson may be right that it was further dumbed down later to 213.

In 1972 there were 24 BM title holders. Some of these players became BMs as a result of becoming an IM first, which made a BM title an automatic award."

E Michael White:

"In 1972

BMs - Aitken, Barden, Basman, Berger, Botterill, Broadbent, Clarke, Franklin, J Fuller, Hartston, A Hollis, Horne, P Lee, J Littlewood, Milner-Barry, Whiteley.

IMs - who were also awarded the BM title :- Alexander, Fairhurst, Golombek, Keene, Kottnauer, Levi, J Penrose, Wade."

As noted in that thread, Levi should be Levy. But it would be nice to have more details for these 24 BM title holders. I'm going to try that here. I had to look half of them up, but it was a fascinating cross-section of British chess at that time.

William Albert Fairhurst (1903-1982)
Victor Berger (1904-1996)
Reginald Joseph Broadbent (1906-1988)
Philip Stuart Milner-Barry (1906-1995)
James Macrae Aitken (1908-1983)
Conel Hugh O'Donel (Hugh) Alexander (1909-1974)
Cenek Kottnauer (1910-1996)
Harry Golombek (1911-1995)
Dennis Morton Horne (born 1920)
Robert Graham (Bob) Wade (1921-2008)
John A. Fuller (1928-2005)
Leonard William Barden (born 1929)
John Eric Littlewood (1931-2009)
Michael J. Franklin (born 1931)
Peter Hugh Clarke (born 1933)
Jonathan Penrose (born 1933)
Adrian Swayne Hollis (born 1940)
Peter Nicholas Lee (born 1943)
David Neil Lawrence Levy (born 1945)
Michael John Basman (born 1946)
William Roland Hartston (born 1947)
Andrew Jonathan Whiteley (born 1947)
Raymond Dennis Keene (born 1948)
George Stephen Botterill (born 1949)

I couldn't find any details for Dennis Morton Horne apart from his name. Can anyone add details here for Mr Horne?

EDIT: List updated to include Horne.


Last edited by Christopher Kreuzer on Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 5:51 pm 
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Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
I couldn't find any details for Dennis Morton Horne apart from his name. Can anyone add details here for Mr Horne?


New in Chess reckons that he was born in 1920
http://www.newinchess.com/_1953___Horne ... 76529.html

He was board 5 for the Olympiad team of 1952
http://www.olimpbase.org/players/suuso28k.html

Google searches come up with a number of games in the post-war period. So he was an active player after the war and until his mid to late thirties.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=32111


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:22 pm 
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Roger de Coverly wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
I couldn't find any details for Dennis Morton Horne apart from his name. Can anyone add details here for Mr Horne?


New in Chess reckons that he was born in 1920
http://www.newinchess.com/_1953___Horne ... 76529.html

He was board 5 for the Olympiad team of 1952
http://www.olimpbase.org/players/suuso28k.html

Google searches come up with a number of games in the post-war period. So he was an active player after the war and until his mid to late thirties.

http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessplayer?pid=32111


Ah, thanks for that! I can now update the list in the original post and put Horne in the right place in the list. It would be nice to have more recent information about him, though.

He is mentioned in the Wikipedia article on the Morphy number:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphy_number

"As of 2010, Arturo Pomar, Leonard Barden, Peter Swinnerton-Dyer, Dennis Horne, and Melvin Chernev are the only known surviving players with Morphy Number 3."

Sourced to Edward Winter's Chess Notes column and to a 2010 column at Chesscafe.com where Leonard debunks some Morphy number misconceptions (with some fascinating side excursions into British chess history), as well as giving snippets of information about Horne:

http://www.chesscafe.com/Tim/kibb166.htm

"The 1948-9 event with Schenk, Mieses and myself also included Dennis Horne, who defeated Euwe at Plymouth 1948 and tied second in the 1949 British championship. He dropped out of chess in the mid-1950s apart from an unsuccessful comeback in a London weekend open in the late 1970s. The last contact I had with him was about six years, ago, but I assume he is still living."

I wonder which London weekend open that was. Anyway, gratuitous link to a column by Leonard about Mieses and Morphy numbers:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/jun/28/4


Last edited by Christopher Kreuzer on Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:23 pm 
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Denis Horne became a strong player at Oxford immediately after the war in which he served in the army, possibly reaching the rank of captain. His greatest success in an individual game was at Plymouth 1948 where he defeated ex-world champion Max Euwe in fine style. He liked sharp openings, notably the King's Gambit.
He was joint second with Hooper behind Golombek at Felixstowe 1949, the first Swiss system British championship, and did quite well at Hastings 1949-50. He would have been in the top 6-10 in England then. He had a military style moustache, smoked a pipe and enjoyed solving the Times crossword. He continued to perform well in the early 1950s and so was selected for the 1952 Olympiad team.
Horne became a prep school master with less time for chess and a growing involvement with bridge. After a moderate tournament at Hastings 1953-4 (the first visit of the Russians, who sent Bronstein and Tolush) he played little. He made a brief reappearance at one of the very strong Evening Standard/National Bank of Dubai Opens in the late 1970s where following a slow start he was playing around Board 40. This was pointed out to John Nunn and it was suggested that he too would be playing down the boards at Horne's age, which Nunn rejected saying "No, I'll still be on the top boards!".
Horne was still alive about four years ago, retired from teaching and playing bridge with little interest in chess. I assume that still holds, even though he would be 90 this year. At Hastings 1948-9 he played Mieses and so is one of probably five living players with a Morphy 3 (ie Horne played Mieses who played Louis Paulsen who played Morphy)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:40 pm 
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I wrote my last post without knowing about the previous post, so I'll just add why I used 'probably' rather than 'certainly' for the number of Morphy 3 survivors.

It has come to light via a posting in chessgames.com that Tom H George, a multi Essex champion in the 1940s and then for many years chess correspondent of the Ilford Recorder, won a club game in his youth from James Mortimer, who was a friend of Morphy's and played offhand games with him at Paris 1863 (though none have survived).

So Tom George was a Morphy 2.

Tom George died in 1971 aged 85. The Essex CA golden jubilee handbook, issued in the late 1940s and available online though hard to read, has his name on a high board in county matches then.

It is conceivable, though unproven, that George in his old age played with young opponents who might still be alive now and thus would be Morphy 3s. In particular I did wonder about Peter Clarke who would have been a young Ilford member in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Tom George was still an active player.


Last edited by Leonard Barden on Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 6:48 pm 
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Leonard Barden wrote:
Denis Horne became a strong player at Oxford immediately after the war in which he served in the army, possibly reaching the rank of captain.


Talking of the war (and it is great to get these biographical details that give the flavour of the people behind the names), I noticed when looking down that list of BM title holders, sorted by birth year, that there were two noticeable gaps, one between Golombek and Horne (1911 to 1920) and one between Penrose and Hollis (1933 to 1940). I was wondering if that was just chance, whether the number of players here (24) is too small to be statistically significant, or whether it is possible to identify periods of strength or weakness in British chess over that period (those born in the first half of the 20th century)?

What I'm wondering is what effect the two World Wars had on chess demographics (the gap from 1911 to 1920 could well be due to chess players serving in World War II, though the 1933 to 1940 gap is harder to explain). Do you know of any strong chess players that were killed in either of the world wars? Vera Menchik (died 1944 in V1 rocket attack) and Kurt Moll (chess composer) who died in World War I (http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter20.html). I'm sure there was another moderately famous chess player who died in World War I, but I can't remember the name.

Completely random, but while trying to find the name of that German player who died in World War I, these came up:

http://chess.vatnikov.com/book/War_and_Peace.asp?ch1
http://www.chess.com/article/view/world ... -and-chess

Note at the bottom of the latter article the list of chess players killed in World War II. If anyone knows of something similar for World War I, I'd be very interested in that.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:34 pm 
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Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
sorted by birth year, that there were two noticeable gaps, one between Golombek and Horne (1911 to 1920) and one between Penrose and Hollis (1933 to 1940).


In search of inspiration, I looked at the under 18 champions for the gaps in question.

So immediately following Alexander in 1926, we had
1927 Geoffrey H Rowson
1928 Alfred Mortlock
1929 James M Craddock
1930 James M Craddock
1931 James M Craddock
1932 Alfred WJ Down
1933 Alfred WJ Down
1934 David Rabinovich
1935 Frank Parr
1936 Leonard G O'Neill
1937 Alan R Duff
1938 Alan R Duff
1939 Alan R Duff
1940 John E Richardson

With the exception of Frank Parr, who one assumes only narrowly missed the BM title, none of these players became top players in subsequent years.

If we look at the post Penrose list, there are a number of familiar names, however the highest standard they reached was FM.

Malcolm Barker came close to winning the first world junior title and finished ahead of Larsen but then gave up.
http://www.chessscotland.com/history/worldjunior.htm

1947 Jonathan Penrose
1948 Derek G Horseman
1949 Malcolm N Barker
1950 Malcolm N Barker
1951 Malcolm N Barker
1952 Bernard Cafferty, Peter C Gibbs, Peter D Sanderson
1953 Kenneth FH Inwood
1954 Keith D Sales
1955 Cliff G Tayar, David A Tidmarsh
1956 Clive F Girling, Michael MacDonald-Ross
1957 David E Rumens
1958 David J Mabbs
1959 Malcolm Firth

The reasons why so few really strong players emerged was hotly debated in the chess press of the time. Shortage of leisure time was one reason ( just two weeks holiday a year), shortage of competitive and high class events probably another. Playing no more than 30/36 moves in 75/90 minutes in most league chess might also not have helped, but adjudication pre-dated chess clocks.

Demographics (birth rates) come into it as well. These were low during the twenties and thirties and the war years, only accelerating after 1945.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 8:19 pm 
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Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Can anyone add details here for Mr Horne?


I should have mentioned that there is an entry for Horne in Anne Sunnucks 'Encyclopedia of Chess' (1970), page 211.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:04 pm 
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Leonard Barden wrote:
I wrote my last post without knowing about the previous post, so I'll just add why I used 'probably' rather than 'certainly' for the number of Morphy 3 survivors.

It has come to light via a posting in chessgames.com that Tom H George, a multi Essex champion in the 1940s and then for many years chess correspondent of the Ilford Recorder, won a club game in his youth from James Mortimer, who was a friend of Morphy's and played offhand games with him at Paris 1863 (though none have survived).

So Tom George was a Morphy 2.

Tom George died in 1971 aged 85. The Essex CA golden jubilee handbook, issued in the late 1940s and available online though hard to read, has his name on a high board in county matches then.

It is conceivable, though unproven, that George in his old age played with young opponents who might still be alive now and thus would be Morphy 3s. In particular I did wonder about Peter Clarke who would have been a young Ilford member in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Tom George was still an active player.


Slight diversion from the thread, but looking at the wikipedia page on Morphy number they have Ossip Bernstein as a Morphy number 3. However chessgames.com suggests that Ossip Bernstein played James Mortimer (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1590081) which would give him a MN2. Since he was still active on chessgames in 1961, that must open up another potential route to the present day. Since he played Bronstein (MN4 on wikipedia, but now MN3 on this basis) that will no doubt bring many English players at least into the MN4 bracket from his participation in the Hastings Challengers throughout the 90s.

Unless of course chessgames have confused two James Mortimers, which i suppose might be possible considering he seems to have been playing high level competition well into his 70s!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:09 pm 
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Richard Bates wrote:
Leonard Barden wrote:
I wrote my last post without knowing about the previous post, so I'll just add why I used 'probably' rather than 'certainly' for the number of Morphy 3 survivors.

It has come to light via a posting in chessgames.com that Tom H George, a multi Essex champion in the 1940s and then for many years chess correspondent of the Ilford Recorder, won a club game in his youth from James Mortimer, who was a friend of Morphy's and played offhand games with him at Paris 1863 (though none have survived).

So Tom George was a Morphy 2.

Tom George died in 1971 aged 85. The Essex CA golden jubilee handbook, issued in the late 1940s and available online though hard to read, has his name on a high board in county matches then.

It is conceivable, though unproven, that George in his old age played with young opponents who might still be alive now and thus would be Morphy 3s. In particular I did wonder about Peter Clarke who would have been a young Ilford member in the late 1940s and early 1950s when Tom George was still an active player.


Slight diversion from the thread, but looking at the wikipedia page on Morphy number they have Ossip Bernstein as a Morphy number 3. However chessgames.com suggests that Ossip Bernstein played James Mortimer (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1590081) which would give him a MN2. Since he was still active on chessgames in 1961, that must open up another potential route to the present day. Since he played Bronstein (MN4 on wikipedia, but now MN3 on this basis) that will no doubt bring many English players at least into the MN4 bracket from his participation in the Hastings Challengers throughout the 90s.

Unless of course chessgames have confused two James Mortimers, which i suppose might be possible considering he seems to have been playing high level competition well into his 70s!


To bring it back on topic, work out the Morphy Numbers for all the 24 BM title holders, or even the MVN (Morphy Victory Number)! 8)


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:17 pm 
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Mortimer also played Tartakover and Znosko-Borovsky, both of whom I played. Z-B played in the BCF Premier at London 1948 where he also met both Penrose brothers. And of course Jonathan famously defeated Tartakover at Southsea 1950. The can of worms is opened up by counting social games (Morphy v Mortimer) on the same level at tournament games (Morphy v Paulsen).


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:20 pm 
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Leonard Barden wrote:
Mortimer also played Tartakover and Znosko-Borovsky, both of whom I played. Z-B played in the BCF Premier at London 1948 where he also met both Penrose brothers. And of course Jonathan famously defeated Tartakover at Southsea 1950. The can of worms is opened up by counting social games (Morphy v Mortimer) on the same level at tournament games (Morphy v Paulsen).


Well if one is going by the wikipedia definition then such an approach has to be accepted, since the premise of most of the chessplaying population getting a Morphy number of 6 is based on including simultaneous games. I assume the whole wikipedia article has been put together in several bits, which is of course the problem with wikipedia. Mortimer is mentioned as a route to MN2 but the consequences are not picked up.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:04 pm 
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Richard Bates wrote:
......since the premise of most of the chessplaying population getting a Morphy number of 6 is based on including simultaneous games.
Many players will have a Morphy Victory Number of 6 without relying on simultaneous or casual games. I have an MVN of 4 via Aitken, Mieses and Paulsen, all games documented. According to my database I have lost 396 tournament games; all those players will be MVN 5 and that includes Roger de Coverly who according to my database has in turn lost 570 tournament games. Those additional 570 players will all be MVN 6 - oh make that 569 as he lost one back to me !

I think we should do better than the wiki and only count documented serious games.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 19, 2010 10:13 pm 
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E Michael White wrote:
Richard Bates wrote:
......since the premise of most of the chessplaying population getting a Morphy number of 6 is based on including simultaneous games.
Many players will have a Morphy Victory Number of 6 without relying on simultaneous or casual games. I have an MVN of 4 via Aitken, Mieses and Paulsen, all games documented. According to my database I have lost 396 tournament games; all those players will be MVN 5 and that includes Roger de Coverly who according to my database has in turn lost 570 tournament games. Those additional 570 players will all be MVN 6 - oh make that 569 as he lost one back to me !

I think we should do better than the wiki and only count documented serious games.


Well of course anybody whose 'best' MN is based on "documented serious games" is going to advocate a strict interpretation! But since the bloke who invented the concept chose a liberal approach (to improve his own score) I think we'll go with that one ;) And anyway a liberal interpretation is a better one for enterprising research and speculation, so more in the spirit with which it was created.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:00 am 
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Counting Mortimer as M1, the number of traceable living M3s is probably 15-20, principally via Tartakover who met Mortimer at Ostend 1907.


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