George Szaszvari wrote: Dominique Conterno wrote:
Hi George, yes you are right I am still living in the UK. I have had a 10 year break from chess due to work and family commitments, starting at the time of the club move to Barbican, but I have been fairly active both in OTB and correspondence chess for the last ten years. I have had contacts in the last few years with John Upham, Andrew Martin, Daryl Taylor, Paul Georghiou, Cathy Forbes (Warwick), Robert Kane, Mike Wills, Ray Cannon and Nigel Sharp.
The years at CENTYMCA were some of my best chess years. Having not only played in several teams there from 1976 till its closure, but also having captained the London League 2nd Division for several years, the Middlesex League premier division (I think) for a year and also having held the club treasurer position for a year. Needless to say that all of these bring back some very found memories to me. I am saddened that with the passing of time, a few old friends (Pierre, Mike, â€¦) are no more with us, may they rest in peace.
I am now playing for two chess clubs in Northampton and for one of them I am its webmaster (http://www.chessmates.moonfruit.com
). There is also a Facebook group for this club, called â€˜Northampton Chessmates Chess Clubâ€™ and I invite all of my CENTYMCA friends to join it.
Good to hear that you're still involved and keeping well. I recall that you were delving into the works of Young, the
major and minor tactics of chess, and how those researches brought the game alive for you. The one who did the
same thing for me was Emanuel Lasker and his writings, and the one who introduced me to Lasker was David Murphy,
an ex-Cambridge University student. Oddly enough, David Murphy's new neighbor later on, somewhere in suburbia
south of London, was one Vernon Kirby, Fleet Street cartoonist and my ex-Bayswater buddy. They were apparently
in a secondhand bookshop looking at chess books and struck up a conversation. We got together a few times after
that but it wasn't long before David and I were attending Vernon's funeral (lung cancer got him.) Anyway, before that
I had gone to work in West Germany and had asked David to take over corresponding with my Japanese pen pal I had
at the time, the young son of a professor of philosophy at Hiroshima Universtity. David started learning to play Shogi
(Japanese chess) with this pen pal, eventually to become European Shogi Champion and visited Japan at the invitation
of the Japanese federation.
Incidentally, a couple of other people I know have actually gone to live in Japan permanently, one Richard Sams, an
ex-Cambridge history graduate who hung out with the David Curnow and John C. Pigott crowd in the 70s. In later
years I used to visit Richard (that's RJF Sams) at Mount Pleasant where he worked for some time typesetting chess
and other publications for Graham Hillyard (another chess character to recall) and our favorite place to lunch was
that superb fish & chip shop on Theobald's Road ;0) Richard got into buying and selling Japanese prints and within
a couple of years was speaking fluent Japanese and living in Japan. He visited London after a while (this was the 90s)
and I still have the Japanese fan he left with me. An aikido friend of mine, John Nicholls, married a Japanese lady and
moved to Tokyo and I was able to put him in touch with Richard. They are both still in Japan last I heard (annual Xmas
card and occasional emails from John.)
BTW Richard Sams was a tough competitor and great at picking holes in one's chess illusions. For example, by 1971-2
I started playing this variation of the Najdorf Sicilian with black: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5
Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qa5 8.Qd2 e6 9.0-0-0 b5 and now 10.Bb3 is the accepted main continuation, with black playing 10...Bb7,
etc, an obscure line occasionally essayed by Petrosian, Korchnoi and Reshevsky. But a lot of players, apparently
unfamiliar with the details of the line, would jump into the deep end with either 10.Bxe6 (which is insufficient) or more
often 10.Bd5!? when 10...b4! must be played (10...exd5 is not a good idea as Ray Cannon used to like to demonstrate)
and I won a few games with this whole thing typically going 11.Bxa8 bxc3 with an apparently crushing position for black,
white playing Nb3 and black going ...Qa3+ followed by ...Nb6 to a4, or ...Nc5 is possible, while ...Nxe4 is also in the air.
Try putting these positions on today's Fritz and you will find moves for white, as Richard did, much to my consternation,
long before Fritz existed, that keep the game complicated and alive for white! Another club player who successfully used
this line to garner points as black was Mick (surname?) of Streatham & Brixton (Steve White and Nigel Povah know who
I mean.) Mick and I both won on the black side when Nigel invited John Nunn to give a simul at S & B (Nunn did the
10. Bd5 thing against me, but played more solidly against Mick yet got outplayed.) Nunn asked us about the line since
he wasn't familiar with it's details!
Aah yes, a young Paul Georghiu was another YMCA regular in the last years of the club. Sorry to hear that Mike Wills
passed on... the way people were posting here recently, I guess most thought he was still around. RIP. The London
CentYMCA Chess Club could well have been called the Mike Wills Chess Club. One amusing incident I'd just like to relay
there was at the Karpov v YMCA simul in 1972. Karpov was taking the chess world by storm at that time and the number
of strong club players lining up to play him was impressive. Moreover, Karpov was more than willing to answer general
questions posed before the start of the simul, Mike Wills standing out there with Karpov in the middle of the floor
interpreting (Karpov spoke some English but was not yet fluent enough, and Mike's Russian was pretty good). There
were a number of routine questions and answers about chess, etc, before Irwin Lipnowski, a strong player visiting from
Canada, keen to participate in the simul, decided that the proceedings were far too polite and inconsequential, and
quickly rambled out a completely inappropriate and embarrassing question about current Soviet politics and East-West
relations, causing a minor uproar with much giggling and Karpov gesticulating strongly to stop even before Lipnowski
had finished. (Youngsters not familiar with the paranoia of people living in Soviet bloc countries at that time need
to talk to some older souls who can explain it.) The expression of shock and disbelief on Mike Wills' face was such
a picture it has always brought on a smile whenever I'm reminded of that moment. Jimmy Adams at the time said
something about Lipnowski having had a few drinks beforehand... figures. Anyway, things got back on track and the
simul soon got under way, with Lipnowski participating, his Pirc/Modern Defense duly demolished in one of Kaprov's
better games from that event.
Wow, I'd better stop rambling and run a few errands ;0)