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Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:23 am
by Simon Rogers
Hi all.
I've just been through my chess book collection and I don't seem to have any books about or by Jonathan Penrose.
Did he write any Chess Books?
Are there any books of his games?
Anything about his history?
Has anyone got any interesting information or anecdotes about Jonathan Penrose?
It will be very much appreciated.
Many thanks, Simon.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:47 am
by Roger de Coverly
The wiki page gives some background.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Penrose

I'm not aware that he wrote any books or even had a book written about him.

There were some articles a few years back in Chess magazine where he gave some details on his chess career and memorable games. These included the 1960 Olympiad where not only did he beat Tal, but also drew with Fischer in a game where Fischer had to save it.

Penrose games often with annotations are plentiful in the magazines of the 1960s. and early 1970s. Presumably the 1950s as well.

There's this game from 1950 which is a warning to watch for hacks against f2 even in supposedly sleepy openings such as the Catalan.


Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:33 pm
by Tim Harding
Simon Rogers wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:23 am
Hi all.
I've just been through my chess book collection and I don't seem to have any books about or by Jonathan Penrose.
Did he write any Chess Books?
Are there any books of his games?
Anything about his history?
Has anyone got any interesting information or anecdotes about Jonathan Penrose?
It will be very much appreciated.
Many thanks, Simon.
That wiki page seems fairly accurate to me.

Jonathan Penrose wrote no chess books and so far as I know none has been written about him.

Concerning his wife. it should be added that there were two Margaret Woods who were contemporaries and both played chess.
B.H.'s daughter was known as Peggy; she married Peter Clarke and died last year.
Jonathan Penrose married the daughter of Frank Wood who was junior organiser for Oxfordshire chess in the 1960s.

I met Jonathan Penrose many times, from my teen years up to the time I interviewed him for Chess Mail magazine about his correspondence chess career. I have attached a PDF of that article.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:03 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
Tim Harding wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:33 pm
Jonathan Penrose wrote no chess books and so far as I know none has been written about him.
A fairly obvious gap there for chess historians?

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 1:27 pm
by Kevin Thurlow
Thanks to Tim for that really interesting article. And Matt is right...

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:52 pm
by Paul Habershon
One of my chess highlights was playing Jonathan Penrose at his Hertford house in the days when British Championship qualifying was by way of County and Zonal stages. It seems extraordinary that the multiple British Champion was required to qualify in 1979 but that's the way it was - no privileged exemption. Resident in a distinctly minor county, Bedfordshire, I occasionally progressed to the Zonal Stage which for me then extended to London. Games were individually arranged and nearly always played in private houses, usually at weekends. It was exciting and sometimes faintly embarrassing for me to entertain well known players who had to travel to Bedford. That year I also had to play Graham Lee, Peter Large and David Brine Pritchard. Other years included Frank Parr, Michael Basman, Colin Crouch and a schoolboy called Glenn Flear.

It may be an apocryphal story, but I heard that G.H. (Gerald) Bennett arrived to play Penrose at his house and the great man could not find his chess set, I assume temporarily. Anyway, he was ready and equipped against me, so here is the master in complete control against the club player.


Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Thu Jun 25, 2020 8:03 pm
by Nick Ivell
Everyone talks about the Tal game so I'm grateful to Roger for mention of the Fischer game, almost never seen in the anthologies.

Penrose was a pawn up against the great man, with good winning chances.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:31 pm
by MJMcCready
Paul Habershon wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:52 pm
One of my chess highlights was playing Jonathan Penrose at his Hertford house in the days when British Championship qualifying was by way of County and Zonal stages. It seems extraordinary that the multiple British Champion was required to qualify in 1979 but that's the way it was - no privileged exemption. Resident in a distinctly minor county, Bedfordshire, I occasionally progressed to the Zonal Stage which for me then extended to London. Games were individually arranged and nearly always played in private houses, usually at weekends. It was exciting and sometimes faintly embarrassing for me to entertain well known players who had to travel to Bedford. That year I also had to play Graham Lee, Peter Large and David Brine Pritchard. Other years included Frank Parr, Michael Basman, David Rumens, Colin Crouch and a schoolboy called Glenn Flear.

It may be an apocryphal story, but I heard that G.H. (Gerald) Bennett arrived to play Penrose at his house and the great man could not find his chess set, I assume temporarily. Anyway, he was ready and equipped against me, so here is the master in complete control against the club player.

Great game Paul. Always able to challenge your opponent no matter how strong they were.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:32 pm
by Colin Patterson
Over the years I did manage to locate a couple of articles about Penrose:

One is in the archives of spraggettonchess.com. I guess this link should work - http://www.spraggettonchess.com/saturda ... -puzzle-3/

but if not, I used the archive box, right hand side of the homepage, where I selected May 2011, then clicked on 'Saturday Chess Puzzle'. There you will find a puzzle by Lionel Penrose, a brief discussion of Jonathan's career and a round-up of the brilliant Penrose family, incl. photos, passages from wikipedia etc.

The other article was a 'portrait' by Andrew Farthing in Chess Moves magazine, I think around July 2013, if that can still be accessed somewhere.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:24 pm
by Jonathan Bryant
Paul Habershon wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 4:52 pm
... Resident in a distinctly minor county, Bedfordshire, I occasionally progressed to the Zonal Stage which for me then extended to London. Games were individually arranged and nearly always played in private houses, usually at weekends. It was exciting and sometimes faintly embarrassing for me to entertain well known players who had to travel to Bedford. That year I also had to play Graham Lee, Peter Large and David Brine Pritchard. Other years included Frank Parr, Michael Basman, David Rumens, Colin Crouch and a schoolboy called Glenn Flear ....
Fascinating. I never knew this (a good decade before my chess time).

How did the zonal work? All play all sections? Knock out? Some kind of swiss?

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:39 pm
by Jonathan Bryant
Colin Patterson wrote:
Sun Jun 28, 2020 11:32 pm
Over the years I did manage to locate a couple of articles about Penrose:
It’s not about Penrose exactly but there’s a chapter in Keene’s Becoming a Grandmaster - "What Went Wrong in the 1960s" - that mentions him a lot. Not particularly favourably. E.g.
"Penrose’s attitude towards international competition, combined with his overwhelming position within our national structure proved a gigantic stumbling block for the development of other players."
He touches on the same theme in his contribution to Kasparov’s Revolution in the 70s.

It’s been a while since I read either, but I got the impression that Ray didn’t particularly rate Penrose which is an interesting take. To be fair RDK did have a big plus score against him (something like 4-0 iirc).

Becoming a Grandmaster is an interesting read anyway and I imagine you can pick up it relatively easily and cheapily online, so it’s worth considering if you want to explore the Penrose story a bit more.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:19 pm
by Roger de Coverly
Jonathan Bryant wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:24 pm
How did the zonal work? All play all sections? Knock out? Some kind of swiss?
Never a Swiss. Locally, you played a six player all play all. If those produced too many winners for the places available, there would be further sections. All play alls were preferred unless it was two players competing for one place. "Locally" is a relative term. In more rural areas, the entries may have been spread over several counties.

The British Championship was restricted to just 32 players or thereabouts. Once those size restrictions were removed in the early 1980s, it became possible to give exemptions from qualification and to offer qualification places to weekend tournaments. By the end of the decade, it had been abolished.

In its time, it offered a slower rate of play without an early adjudication as well as the chance for aspiring county players to play some of the national elite.

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:03 pm
by Ian Thompson
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:19 pm
Locally, you played a six player all play all. If those produced too many winners for the places available, there would be further sections. All play alls were preferred unless it was two players competing for one place.
That depended on entries. The county stages I played in were:
  • 6 player, single round
  • 3 player, double round
  • 4 player, single round
  • 3 player, double round
The zonal stages I played in were:
  • 3 player, double round
  • 5 player, single round
  • 3 player, double round
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:19 pm
"Locally" is a relative term. In more rural areas, the entries may have been spread over several counties.
In those I played in, they covered at least:
  • Wiltshire, Devon, Avon, Cornwall (which probably means there weren't any entrants from Somerset)
  • Somerset, Devon, Cornwall
  • Devon, Cornwall, Dorset (which probably means there weren't any entrants from Somerset, or none made it to the zonal stage)

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:05 pm
by Kevin Thurlow
"Locally, you played a six player all play all. If those produced too many winners for the places available, there would be further sections. All play alls were preferred unless it was two players competing for one place. "Locally" is a relative term. In more rural areas, the entries may have been spread over several counties."

Roger got in first. And now Ian as well.

I seem to recall Brian Valentine hosting a game at Redhill CC against someone from Streatham(?) I think in the Surrey area, group winners almost certainly went on to a second stage, because so many people wanted to play. The second stage would have been a bit more local than Ian's scenario!

Re: Jonathan Penrose

Posted: Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:08 pm
by Matt Mackenzie
Roger de Coverly wrote:
Mon Jun 29, 2020 2:19 pm
Once those size restrictions were removed in the early 1980s, it became possible to give exemptions from qualification and to offer qualification places to weekend tournaments. By the end of the decade, it had been abolished.

In its time, it offered a slower rate of play without an early adjudication as well as the chance for aspiring county players to play some of the national elite.
Quite a bit earlier than that I think - maybe 1983 or thereabouts?