British Chess Champions of the past

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Andrew Zigmond
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British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:35 pm

I made the following post on the `When Anteaters Attack` thread in General Chat.
Andrew Zigmond wrote:I think the obvious problem is that there are relatively few veterans one could call upon for a former champions tournament. Most of those still living are either long retired and unlikely to be tempted back into active play or are still strong enough to enter the championship proper. How would you deal with the 2002 and 2003 champions who won when Commonwealth players were still allowed to enter?

One could always invite the 1972 champion if you knew where to find him. It would be his own silly fault if he turned up.

Going off topic but I found myself looking at the list of champions on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Chess_Championship.

Who is the oldest living champion and who is the earliest champion still living? I'm assuming both distinctions belong to Leonard Barden (born 1929, won 1954), however there are a few obscure champions from the 1940s who could conceivably still be alive.

I was also under the impression that England's great `lost` chess talent Gordon Crown had won the title but apparently I was mistaken.
I've now had a chance to see how my question (oldest living winner, earliest champion still living) might apply to the Ladies champions. It would appear to be Anne Summucks although there may be a little known champion from earlier who is still alive. Also Miss Fatima's death date is unknown; I believe after her victory at the age of nineteen she disappeared from view before resurfacing briefly in the nineteen sixties and it is theoretically possible for her to still be alive.

In both lists and particularly the ladies side; for every player enshrined in legend there are some that are completely forgotten. For the 100th championship in Torquay next year perhaps somebody could produce a commemorative book of former champions and tell the stories of those who are less well known.

Another interesting thing about the ladies championship is that Vera Menchik never won it (she won the British girls championship in 1921). Obviously by 1927 she would probably be too strong for it but did she ever compete? I'm guessing that the ladies event was seperate in those days and she entered the main tournament instead but I may be wrong.
Last edited by Andrew Zigmond on Fri Jul 27, 2012 7:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by JustinHorton » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:42 pm

I'd also be interested in finding out if anything is known about Joan Doulton. I caught this but did anything come of it? And are her whereabouts, subsequent to becoming champion, known at all?
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Fri Jul 27, 2012 6:48 pm

Another of the more obscure winners - 1966 co-champ Gillian Moore - is not only still around but has apparently started playing again in her retirement.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by JustinHorton » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:38 am

That's a good spot. How did you know that?
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Leonard Barden » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:18 pm

Paul Georghiou wrote:Joan Doulton was later Joan Hay, author with husband David of several local history books.
Joan worked for the BBC in the 1950s and 1960s, I think as an administrator. She was active in the BBC Chess Club including as Chairman, and played top board for the team when one season it managed to reach the London League first division. The BBC club at this time had a grant from BBC central funds and used part of this to hire me to give individual coaching to members who wanted it. Joan took advantage of this and I seem to remember giving her frequent sessions before a British Ladies play-off match with Rowena Bruce which she lost. David Hay also worked at the BBC, I think he might have been Joan's superior officer. After they married she left the BBC and gradually withdrew from chess. She was a jolly, friendly, intelligent woman and a pleasure to know.

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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by John Upham » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:22 pm

Matt Mackenzie wrote:Another of the more obscure winners - 1966 co-champ Gillian Moore - is not only still around but has apparently started playing again in her retirement.
Gillian is very active in Hampshire Chess circles and frequently plays in the Chiltern League. She plays a part in the organisation of the annual Hampshire Congress amongst other activities.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by John Saunders » Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:44 pm

An ancestry.com search revealed this:

Joan Frances Doulton, born 23 October 1913 (Camberwell, London), married David Hay (1909-89) Sept 1963 (Amersham, Bucks), died June quarter of 1992 (Buckinghamshire), parents Hubert Victor Doulton, Constance Jessie Frances Farre.

Her dates don't appear in Whyld's Guinness Book or Gaige's Biobibliography, nor was her obituary in BCM (not sure about CHESS), so this may be the first time this info has appeared in a chess context.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Jul 28, 2012 6:47 pm

Thank you to everyone who's contributed to this post so far. As I said earlier it would be great of somebody could produce a tribute in time for the 100th championships featuring biographies of both well known and less well known former champions; and the games must be out there too.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Sat Jul 28, 2012 7:02 pm

I was also trying to work out who would be the greatest player never to win the title. Luke McShane is the obvious example but he still has plenty of time to win it; of those who may have missed their moment Murray Chandler and Michael Stean are the only names I can see missing off the list.

Also has anybody else picked up on the fact that if Jovanka Houska wins the ladies title she will do so for a fifth consecutive time, equalling a record set by Jana Bellin?
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:14 am

It appears Gillian Moore is actually playing in the Seniors tournament this year, giving her a British attendance span of at least 46 years - this assumes 1966 was her first appearance which it may not have been. This must be close to a record surely - any advances?
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:17 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:This must be close to a record surely - any advances?
Probably nowhere near. You would have to cross reference the junior events of the fifties and sixties with the present day tournaments.

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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by E Michael White » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:46 am

Andrew Zigmond wrote:It appears Gillian Moore is actually playing in the Seniors tournament this year, giving her a British attendance span of at least 46 years - this assumes 1966 was her first appearance which it may not have been. This must be close to a record surely - any advances?
I am pretty sure the D G Ellison playing in this years senior event played in the 1959 main section of the British Championship and may have played in earlier years too. Also I believe Gillian Moore won the girls U18 in 1962 and may have played earlier years.

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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by John McKenna » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:48 am

Great to see Gillian Moore doing so well. Played her at Southend some years ago. Perhaps it has already been mentioned somewhere on the forum but I'll do so as a reminder -
http://www.hampshirechess.co.uk/History/history.php
has a section about her a little way down the index page.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by Andrew Zigmond » Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:53 am

Well 46 years is an impressive figure - record or no record. Obviously the format of the championship and the various fringe events has changed over the years making it hard to compare like with like but it would be interesting to see who does hold the record.

Gillian Moore was mentioned earlier in this thread as `one of the more obscure champions`. I get the impression she is not well known even to the chess playing public. However she's still quietly playing chess forty six years after her greatest triumph. Maybe one of the journalists on this forum could approach her for an interview - she may have some stories to tell.

PS This crossed with John McKenna's post which I'll read now. Incidentally one of my club colleagues, Margaret Rowley, was once a regular on the congress circuit and played regularly in the British ladies as well as taking future GM James Howell to his first tournaments. I'll be picking her brains next time I see her.
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Re: British Chess Champions of the past

Post by James Pratt » Tue Jul 31, 2012 2:25 am

JR Nicolson played in the 1950s in the BCF Congress, I think he told me ..

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