Hippopotamus Opening

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Paul McKeown
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Coaching

Post by Paul McKeown » Fri Dec 19, 2008 5:03 pm

David,
I agree with you about how nice these old fashioned tournament photos are. I have been working for a considerable period with Bob Wade until his recent death on a biography of the man. I have some wonderful tournament photos going all the way back to 1939; its a great pity that modern tournaments seem to dispense with these and other things such as decent bulletins, tournament books, real coverage in local and national press and on radio - the internet is very transactional and one cannot trust that what is available now will be available in 50 years time. It all seems so much less these days - and that probably contributes to the decline in the game's public prestige too.
I also agree with you that another thread for this would be good - a history thread or even better forum would be nice.
Historical - as opposed to hysterical? :wink:
Paul.

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Carl Hibbard
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Re: Coaching

Post by Carl Hibbard » Fri Dec 19, 2008 6:27 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:David,
I agree with you about how nice these old fashioned tournament photos are. I have been working for a considerable period with Bob Wade until his recent death on a biography of the man. I have some wonderful tournament photos going all the way back to 1939; its a great pity that modern tournaments seem to dispense with these and other things such as decent bulletins, tournament books, real coverage in local and national press and on radio - the internet is very transactional and one cannot trust that what is available now will be available in 50 years time. It all seems so much less these days - and that probably contributes to the decline in the game's public prestige too.
I also agree with you that another thread for this would be good - a history thread or even better forum would be nice.
Historical - as opposed to hysterical? :wink:
Paul.
Sort of done but I am out of time for now - will return to complete the switch tomorrow!

Apart from the name of this topic all should be working again...

A suggested description for both the front/home page rather than coming soon and a name for this specific topic is welcomed
Cheers
Carl Hibbard

E Michael White
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by E Michael White » Fri Dec 19, 2008 7:55 pm

J C Thompson was 5b in 1961, a reasonable grade then especially at 72 ish. Stewart Reuben then also shared the 5b slot. Thompson was 6a in 1962, when his Club was shown as Government Chemist, Beckenham and 6b in !963.

I was told once that he was born in India and his family moved to London in the 1890s, this may not be reliable information however.

Louise Sinclair
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by Louise Sinclair » Fri Dec 19, 2008 8:11 pm

I must agree that the men in those days knew how to dress. Styles of hair and clothing did add a dignity lacking often today
Louise
You might very well think that ; I couldn't possibly comment.
' you turn if you want. The lady's not for turning'

E Michael White
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Re: J C Thompson

Post by E Michael White » Wed Jan 21, 2009 3:08 pm

In connection with J C Thompson's birthplace, Paul McKeown wrote:Can anyone shed light on this mystery?
Following Paul Mckeown's and Richards James's bits on the Hippopotamus opening I did some ferreting around and have unearthed a few points which convince at least me that J C Thompson was probably born in India and the Hippopotamus opening probably has its roots in a variant of Indian Chess. There is a less likely possibility that he was born in Wales.

It is believed Thompson was born in 1889. There are two 12 year old J C Thompsons in the 1901 census. One of these is shown as born in Wales; the other India Travanmore, which I suspect is an OCR error for Travancore, and during 1901 lived in London. Several points make India more likely.

Firstly there was a version of Indian Chess popular around the late 19th century in which pawns could only move one square on the first move. Apart from that the game was mostly similar to European Chess but the black king and queen started the game on d8 and e8 respectively.

Secondly the 1904 BCM reviews a book by Lala Raja Babu Sahib about this version of Indian Chess, which describes an opening for black which starts 1.e3 f6 2. d3 e6 3.c3 g6 4.e4 Bg7 5.g3 d6 6. Be3 c6 7.Na3 Ne7 8.Qb3... resulting in this position:-
Ecf.jpg
Ecf.jpg (14.88 KiB) Viewed 3434 times
If that doesnt look like a hippopotamus system then what does? Bearing in mind that black's K-side is really the Q-side its even more like a Hippo. I doesnt take too much of a guess to think that Thompson probably learnt the game as a child in India and used these early influences to develop his own style.

On the other hand it could just all be coincidences - cue for James Plaskett to join this forum.
Last edited by E Michael White on Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:34 pm

Indian connection may be a red herring....

Former Chairman of Government Chemist's Chess Club (and Chairman Of Civil Service Chess Association), Edward Godly, wrote this,

"Your appeal in CHESS of December 2001 for information on the late Mr. J.C. Thompson was recently drawn to my attention. He was for about thirty years in charge of the Calibrations Section of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist (LGC) and the founder in the early 1950s of its Chess Club, playing for us for over twenty – five years until his death without, so far as I can recall, ever missing a match. Before joining LGC he had flown as aircrew in the Royal Flying Corps in World War – I, came down behind enemy lines and had been taken prisoner. He did not so much invent the “Hippopotamus” opening as re – discover it. He was in the habit of spending luncheon – break time examining old books and prints in nearby bookshops, market stalls etc. and it is my understanding that he found a work dating from the era before the Laws of Chess had been changed to permit pawns to advance two squares on their first move. (Naturally, the en passant capture had no meaning at that time.) I cannot remember whether it was “Tommy” who told me this, but I believe that it was common in those days for both players to use the “Hippo” formation.

By the mid-twentieth century Modern Chess Openings had gone through several editions and a good deal of opening theory was needed to equip a regular match – player. JCT rather deplored this and sought to use unusual openings, such as the Bishop’s Opening as White and, as Black, such lines as 1.e4 d5 2.exd5 e6. His adaptation of the “Hippopotamus” to match – play came as a useful system playable against any opening and offering flexibility whilst providing a heavily over – protected centre. Obviously it was passive with the Queen held in reserve on the vacated second rank behind the pawn-screen. He would delay castling until his opponent had committed his attack to one side or the other, avoiding pawn – clearances by pushing past an advanced enemy pawn, where possible rather than exchanging. Not surprisingly, some rather blocked positions tended to result and the usual rate of play (36 moves in 90 minutes) did not often allow him to exploit his end-game strength. Nevertheless, there were games in which the position would erupt into a fierce tactical battle and I once saw him castle to great effect when there were no pawns left on that side of the board. I hope these reminiscences will be of use for you.

Edward W. Godly
5th April 2002 "

By coincidence, I am a former Head of Calibrations Section of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, and I now hold the post that Mr Godly did when he retired.....

Kevin
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

James Plaskett
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by James Plaskett » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:35 am

Having been invoked, I manifest. 8)

Jonathan Bryant
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by Jonathan Bryant » Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:05 pm

James Plaskett wrote:Having been invoked, I manifest. 8)

You've been invoked on chess pub a couple of times of late too

http://www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/Y ... 1234668612


http://www.chesspub.com/cgi-bin/yabb2/Y ... 4668612/15

A manifestation on that thread would be interesting ...

James Plaskett
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by James Plaskett » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:53 pm

No, Jonathan: I was actually told to appear on this thread.
So I did. :wink:

E Michael White
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by E Michael White » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:11 pm

Hello James

Glad to see you have joined this forum. Hope you can share a few chess coincidences with forum members.

As a renowned expert on coincidences whats you verdict on the Thompson - Indian - Hippo connection, is it a coincidence ? You could of course elect under FIDE rule 10.2 for investigation to continue and decide later.

James Plaskett
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Re: Hippopotamus Opening

Post by James Plaskett » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:03 pm

No hippos in India... but wife tells me that they have recently discovered ancient hippo bones in a cave just a few miles from here in Cartagena.
So, maybe..... :shock: :?

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