Martin Blaine

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Paul McKeown
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Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:13 pm

Some time ago, I received the following email:
Email from Simon Spivack, To: Anthony Fulton, Cc: Paul McKeown, Zoe Ryle, 16 Oct 2007 wrote:Dear Tony,

I am copying this to Zoe and Paul as they may have more details.

Martin Blaine was a former captain of the Middlesex Open team in the early 1970s. When he resigned he instituted the Martin Blaine Award. I may have the name slightly wrong, but essentially this was awarded to the best performer in the Middlesex Open team. I can't recall the formula for determining the winner, but essentially it was geared towards the number of appearances. The sum itself was not large, £10 or £20, again I can't really remember.

You may want to consider reviving this. It is not the consideration itself that is significant, but it will provide a topic of conversation in your emails and, who knows, may encourage a competitive spirit in the team.

As I recall this award was to apply in perpetuity, so I'm not sure there is even a requirement for the committee or AGM to formally reinstitute it, although it probably would be an idea to discuss this with others.

Regards,

Simon.
At the time, I didn't do anything about, as I had loads of other stuff to do.
However, whilst ferreting around in the Middlesex match records I came across the following regarding the Martin Blaine Trophy:

1978 - won by John M Quinn
1979 - 1. DP Lynch 42½ points; 2. JM Quinn 38½; 3. GD Lee 38. Prize to Dave Lynch - the trophy and
£20. He was the only player to play in all matches that season.

The Middlesex match records include the following text at this point:
Middlesex Match Records, Vol. 3 1969-89, 1979 wrote:NEW POINTS SYSTEM FOR 1979-80

While on the coach to the Counties Final, a questionnaire was completed concerning the possibility of a change in the system as there has been some criticism in the past. After analysing the results on a majority basis, I now give below the new method of scoring points which comes into effect next Season. A Player will receive:

Code: Select all

3 Points for an Away   WIN     (2 under the old system)
2    "     "    Away   DRAW    (1  "      "       "   )
1    "      "   Home   WIN     (1  "      "       "   )
1    "      "   Home   DRAW    (½  "      "       "   )
PLUS
2 points for Appearances at HOME
5 points for Appearances AWAY
(Named Reserves also receive these points for appearances)
1980 - 1. W. Watson 73 points; 2. S. Quigley 72 points; 3. R Holmes 67 points
then there is gap in the records
1988 - 1. S Spivack 37 points; 2. R. McMichael 35 points; 3. SH Berry 32 points
1989 - 1. KR Barnes 40 points, 7 games; 2= RJ McMichael, D Kumaran, A Alabi 33 points, 6 games (Alabi 7 games). The prize was awarded that year for play in the Regional stages only.
then the records fail, but I happen to know:
2000 - 1. JAB Stevenson (no trophy - it's whereabouts were unknown, but prize was a signed book by Colin Crouch)

Martin Blaine was Middlesex match captain from 1970-71 to 1973-74.

I happen to know that Martin Blaine was Middlesex champion 4 times in a row in the late 1940's or early 1950's, I'll try to dig that up for Simon. There was also an article about him in the BCF some time, which I will also try to dig out.

Can anyone help Simon with information about Martin Blaine and the Martin Blaine Trophy in particular?

Paul McKeown
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:49 pm

A short obituary notice is given of Martin Blaine in BCM:
BCM Vol. 115 No. 8 Aug. 1995, p. 386 wrote:Obituary - Recent deaths include those of Hampstead / Middlesex stalwart Martin Blaine, of Hungarian origin

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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:05 pm

Which reminds me of reading somewhere about Martin Blaine having animated and happy conversations in Hungarian with an old friend of his who was playing in tournament for Hungary. Might have been Szabo, can't be sure. Can anyone else remember what it is that I'm not? Where did I read this? Who was Blaine speaking with?

Paul McKeown
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Thu Jan 08, 2009 10:43 pm

I see that MB was Middlesex President for 1974-75. This from the BCF YB, which is the only one I have for the 1970's, no doubt others can help Simon here.

Simon Brown
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Simon Brown » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:10 am

Martin was captain of Hampstead when I started playing for them, in about 1984, and would often rustle up a pretty decent team, with Speelman and even Penrose, unless my memory is playing tricks. He was a charming man, still a good player and always willing to step in to avoid defaults - I think I may have succeeded him as captain. I've been out of chess for about 12 years now and didn't know he had died. I have nothing but good memories of him.

Can't help on the Hungarian connections, I'm afraid.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Fri Jan 09, 2009 10:47 am

Ah yes, the legendary Hampstead Chess Club. Like so many other well known London clubs which seem to have folded in the last 20 years... very sad.

Leonard Barden
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Jan 11, 2009 11:58 am

Martin's original name was Blum and he emigrated here from Hungary probably in the late 1930s. The first tournament mention I recall of him was the RAF championship of 1944 or 1945, to whicn patriotic du Mont gave extensive treatment in the BCM although the tournament wasn't so strong. Martin was around 2300 strength at his best, an excellent tactician though he sometimes mishandled his clock time. As other posters here have stated, he was a most charming and delightful man who helped many in a personal way. I recall I casually mentioned an interest in the Hungarian chess magazine and Martin's response was for some years thereafter to send me each month his copy of Magyar Sakkelet after he had read it.

His Hungarian connection also proved a valuable one for English chess. In the 1950s and 1960s the prize money at Hastings was low, and the GMs naturally wanted to stay for some days afterwards and give simuls, particularly in London. The Hungarians, notably Szabo and Portisch, stayed with Martin and his wife in Hampstead and became his good friends. This made Hastings an attractive financial event for them which explains why Szabo and Portisch were frequent visitors.

In 1974 the Evening Standard had just started to sponsor the London junior championships in addition to backing the Islington weekend congress. We wanted to make a focal point for the juniors so Szabo, staying with Martin, was invited to give a simul against a selected ''Young London'" team of around 30 players. The event was an eye-opener for me in more than one respect. In the London U10 championship, which we had just launched, a 5-year-old named Stephen Chittenden (who later became a BBC reporter) did well and we were excited about his prospects. When I told Szabo this at the prizegiving he pulled a photo of a 4-year-old girl from his wallet and said "This is my pupil, and she's terrific". It was Susan Polgar.

I expected our juniors to be crushed in the simul, but it was Szabo who got into trouble and at one stage looked struggling for a plus score. He got out of jail by the tactic of offering a number of draws to the upper boards and then scoring against the reduced numbers. Even so, I think he scored only two or three on about the top dozen boards and one of those was against Julian Hodgson, then aged 10, who had a winning advantage, blew it, and burst into tears.

The favourable outcome and the enthusiasm of the players convinced me we should make GM simuls an important part of our programme, though I had already been sold on the idea by David Hooper, whose Unknown Capablanca book gave details of how Soviet juniors got impressive results against Capa and Flohr at Moscow 1935. As a result of publicity for Portisch's Hastings successes, the Prestige Hotels chain arranged a nationwide simul tour for him in early 1975, and at one of these events in Chester Nigel Short, then 9, scored his first draw with a GM.

So Martin Blaine's 'Hungarian connection' really helped.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:22 pm

I came across a review in the BCF Year Book of Chess 1990-91 of a book co-written by Martin Blaine, in which he was invited to write about the origins of the book. For anyone interested in Martin Blaine, it might make interesting reading:
Year Book of Chess 1990-91, BCF, pp. 14-15 wrote:BOOK REVIEW
The Logical Approach to Chess
M. Euwe, M. Blaine and J. F. S. Rumble
I have often received the suggestion that the Year Book contain book reviews. The question is, which book, how many titles, and who to do the review?
The book I have chosen is not new, but a very instructive volume which in simple terms is far more than a chess primer. It is in fact a step by step approach to building up a logical plan and method for playing chess. The sound basis is built throughtout five chapters:
– The Centre and its implications (field of battle, control of centre, etc.)
– Opening Theory (fundamentals without memorizing)
– The Middle-Game (pawns, knight-outpost, pinning, exchanging, higher strategy and tactics, etc.)
– The End-Game (passed pawn, king endings, rook, queen, etc.)
– The Theory in Action (attacks, counter-attacks, center and wing strategy, etc.)
The book is an aid for chess players to use, to clarify their vision of the game, to use as a brush-up on their tactics and strategy.
The book title contains the words “Logical Approach” – I not only found this to be true, I also found it a very readable volume – not something you can say about all chess books!
In fact I enjoyed the book so much, I invited one of the co-authors, Martin Blaine to recall for the Year Book, his thoughts as to how and why the book was written.

BIRTH OF A BOOK
It cannot often happen that an author is asked to write a review of a book he first published 10 years ago. Yet this is precisely what your Editor, Mr Brian Concannon has asked me to do for The Logical Approach of Chess, which was written in co-operation with my friend John Rumble, who sadly died many years ago.
In 1944, when we were both in the R.A.F. and stationed in Ceylon, we were invited by a Tea-planter to visit his home. Our host, Mr Ryan, expressed regret at the difficulty he found in improving his game of Chess while living so far up-county, and I recall some of his comments; “It is impossible to improve my understanding of the game with the information available. I can buy books on elementary chess which teaches only things I already know; or I can use those which deal with Openings and so on, which only confuse me, and don’t help me to understand how they complement each other. Of, if I buy something like Best Games of Chess by Alekhin, it is too advanced for me, and I cannot relate to his ideas.”
After some months of thought, John and I came to the conclusion that the Chess-playing public was ready for a book in which the reader is taken step by step from the opening, through the middle game, and into the end-game, with a natural progression from one stage to the next, without being confused with too many technical terms. We felt that some less experienced players may come to a point in their game when, having completed what they regard as a successful opening phase, they are then unable to develop it further, so leaving them sitting back and wondering what to do.
In returning to England we continued our Chess association and began writing the book that we thought would help the player to overcome this impasse. We devised a way of using military analogies in the game, and added to the interest by using only actual amateur games; we also composed all the accompanying diagrams. A year later the book was completed.
Then, of course, the publishing! – but as our names were comparatively unknown, the first publishers we approached showed no interest at all. So we hit on the idea of contacting Dr. Euwe, a man who needs no introduction to chess enthusiasts. He replied immediately, suggesting a meeting at the Yelton Hotel in Hastings; as I recall, this must have been in 1947 or 1948. We were apprehensive at meeting, the ‘great man’, but he immediately put us at our ease. It took him about an hour to read the manuscript, and then he said “Gentlemen, this is an excellent book; may I take it back to Holland and publish it?” To give the reason for his subsequent association with us, I now quote from his introduction to the book.
‘I felt scruples because my share of the labour would not be in proportion to that of the other authors. Eventually, however, the scales were turned by my realization that I should be able to subscribe to every word of the text in its final form. I therefore fell in with the wishes of those who are now my fellow authors, in order that I might express in a practical manner my admiration for their achievement.’
As Dr Euwe generously put it, he “did not cross a ‘t’ or dot an ‘i’.” We were of course, very grateful to him, but it was nevertheless galling to read the Publisher’s reviewer referring to Dr Euwe’s “clear and cool logic”!
The book was first published in Holland in 1951, then in England in 1958, and latterly by the Dover Press in New York in 1982. This latest edition was unfortunately published without my knowledge or permission, so that now I have retired, I feel that I must pursue the matter.
My good friend and associate John Rumble was a dentist, and a much respected member of both Sevenoaks and Eastbourne Chess Circles, who also successfully represented Sussex County, before his early death at 52. The name of Dr Euwe, as I said earlier, needs no introduction to the Chess fraternity. As for myself, I have been a very active Middlesex player, as both First Team player and Captain, as Club Champion five times, and as President. In retirement, I now teach Chess in two local schools, and also have a number of private pupils in the 9–12 age group, with whom I am pleased that our method is most successful.
Martin Blaine
June 1990

James Pratt
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by James Pratt » Mon Jan 12, 2009 6:53 pm

Martin Blaine was a merchant, he sold cloth. He was great friends with Professor DB Scott, sadly the two gents passed away about the same time. he spoke with pride of his compatriots, Breyer and Reti. His book, an attempt to see chess through military eyes - written with JFS Rumble - mentioned above - was perhaps too dogmatic for English tastes. Euwe took it and published it, first in Dutch, adding his name in the interests of sales. Finally it appeared as a Dover in the 1980s.

MB enjoyed playing his radio far into the night and would describe crispy bacon as 'destroyed'.

James Pratt (Basingstoke!)

Simon Spivack
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Simon Spivack » Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:31 pm

My email was carelessly written.

I have located the miscreant who had the trophy in his possession, I shall deal with him personally. He was good enough to hand it over to Middlesex Open Team captain Tony Fulton on Saturday, unfortunately, very few names have been engraved. I can recall winning it at least twice. Does anyone recall whether it has a base? currently there isn't one.

The genesis of the award was that Martin felt he was not getting enough support when he captained the first team. After he resigned he sent a strongly worded letter to everyone in his team. At the time I thought it was too indiscriminate; an opinion I held for several years, as I had turned out every time I had been asked. Much later I realised that this was a fair reproach. I once had to make somewhere between two hundred and two hundred and fifty phone calls for a twenty board match. The individual who infuriated me most was a club secretary who did not deign to return even one of my thirty odd calls; ordinarily I'd have abandoned that attempt earlier, however, there were other members of his club who were interested in playing: it would be an understatement to say he was uncooperative. At the time I checked to see whether the animus was personal, although I hardly knew him, but was assured that he treated others likewise. Happily his club replaced him with a more effective individual for the following season.

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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:34 am

Here, I found it eventually, the quote from László Szabó. It is from his book, My Best Games of Chess, which I have always liked for its openness (given that the writer lived behind the Iron Curtain) and its engaging tone:
My Best Games of Chess, Szabo, Pergamon 1986, p. 46 wrote:I received good news towards the end of this eventful year, which stirred up old memories and helped me climb out of a trough: I was again invited to Hastings, the scene of my first international victory (if I do not count Tatatóváros). I met again with the engaging Sir George Thomas, Harry Golombek and others of my earlier Hastings opponents. But my joy was even greater when I met Martin Blaine, with whom I often played chess at the Café Szeiffert in Budapest before the war. He left Hungary, threatened by fascism in 1937, and served in the British Army during the war in the Far East.
The Hastings tournament in question was 1947-48, which Szabó won with 7½ from 9.

Paul McKeown
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Paul McKeown » Wed Jan 14, 2009 12:50 am

I have been able to add another name to the list of winners of the Martin Blaine Trophy

1977: K Weinhold
1978: JM Quinn
1979: DP Lynch
1980: WN Watson
1988: SSY Spivack
1989: KR Barnes
2000: JAB Stevenson

Can anyone else fill in the gaps?

Simon Spivack
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Simon Spivack » Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:09 pm

Paul McKeown wrote:I have been able to add another name to the list of winners of the Martin Blaine Trophy

1977: K Weinhold
1978: JM Quinn
1979: DP Lynch
1980: WN Watson
1988: SSY Spivack
1989: KR Barnes
2000: JAB Stevenson

Can anyone else fill in the gaps?
Not quite a new name, but the above can be padded out with:

1975: K Weinhold
1976: K Weinhold
1977: K Weinhold
1978: JM Quinn
1979: DP Lynch
1980: WN Watson
1988: SSY Spivack
1989: KR Barnes
2000: JAB Stevenson.

I can remember John Quinn, Dave Lynch, Willy Watson, Jim Stevenson and, vaguely, Keith Barnes. However, I can't dredge up from my memory anything about K Weinhold.

Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Jan 15, 2009 1:08 pm

"However, I can't dredge up from my memory anything about K Weinhold."

He played on high boards for Post Office, probably graded about 190, in Civil Service league up until early 80s (ish.) They were a leading team in those days. He did like the odd quick draw, but was obviously useful!
"Kevin was the arbiter and was very patient. " Nick Grey

Simon Spivack
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Re: Martin Blaine

Post by Simon Spivack » Thu Jan 15, 2009 7:16 pm

Kevin Thurlow wrote:"However, I can't dredge up from my memory anything about K Weinhold."

He played on high boards for Post Office, probably graded about 190, in Civil Service league up until early 80s (ish.) They were a leading team in those days. He did like the odd quick draw, but was obviously useful!
Thanks.

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