At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Brian Denman
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Brian Denman » Sun Aug 30, 2015 10:12 am

Yes, he is the same player. As far as I know, he is still alive and living in Brighton, though he gave up competitive chess years ago.

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John Clarke
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by John Clarke » Tue Sep 01, 2015 10:31 pm

Yes, fascinating reading, especially for those whose memories go back that far.

For me, it's like a snapshot of the chess scene on the eve of the English Chess Explosion. Of the famous Harrachov quartet (who beat the Russians 3-1 in the 1967 Student Team Championships), only Whiteley is in there, at 5a. (At just 14 years old, he'd placed =2-5 in the 1961 British under-18. The title-winner that year, R A Beach, is in 5b and hasn't improved much in the past year. Yet he beat J E Scholes - rated a whole grade higher - in a finely-played last-round game, and pipped both him and Whitley for first place. Shows how little ratings can mean sometimes.)

The North-East is severely under-represented; only about half a dozen in the whole list. I don't know about adult players, but prominent juniors of the time from that area included B Kooiman and K P Neat, neither of whom is listed.

As for my own locality, one or two names are missing whom I'd have thought would have been active and rated highly enough to be included. J S Capes and H M Lawrence, both Enfield regulars, also G J Martin, one-time British Championship contender. Maybe the North Circular and Barnet Leagues just didn't bother with gradings in those days.

Typo on p14: the sub-heading "M.C.C.U." should read "N.C.C.U.".
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

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John Saunders
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by John Saunders » Wed Sep 02, 2015 12:31 am

I'm glad people are enjoying the trip down Grading Memory Lane. Thanks for the various corrections - I've now applied amendments.
John Clarke wrote:The North-East is severely under-represented; only about half a dozen in the whole list. I don't know about adult players, but prominent juniors of the time from that area included B Kooiman and K P Neat, neither of whom is listed.
Bernie Kooiman was my Mitcham CC colleague for about 20 years. I looked him up on the current grading list a few days ago and found that he's still active, with a very decent grade, playing for Herne Bay in Kent.

Coincidentally, there is some historical material about Scottish grading for 1962 at the Chess Scotland site...

http://www.chessscotland.com/grading/grdhist.htm

I'm not entirely sure I understand the then Scottish system but I don't think it was an Elo System as it is now, more something modelled on the BCF system with a zero added to the end of the BCF grade number to create a four-figure one. Or was the underlying BCF grade (which wasn't published in that era) envisaged as having four digits? To be honest, I haven't a clue but someone might be able to make sense of it.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Sep 02, 2015 1:06 am

John Saunders wrote:Or was the underlying BCF grade (which wasn't published in that era) envisaged as having four digits? To be honest, I haven't a clue but someone might be able to make sense of it.
The Scottish report is very confident about the "secret" BCF numbers being four digit. It's known that Clarke and Elo corresponded with one another, so it's plausible that both saw their systems as four digit ones. It is entirely possible that when the BCF decided to publish numbers, that they reduced them to three digits to avoid confusion or comparison with the 4 digit Elo numbers.

The Scottish Chess Association did eventually switch to an Elo based method and four digit numbers. Late seventies or early eighties perhaps?

Brian Towers
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Brian Towers » Wed Sep 02, 2015 9:51 am

John Clarke wrote:The North-East is severely under-represented; only about half a dozen in the whole list. I don't know about adult players, but prominent juniors of the time from that area included B Kooiman and K P Neat, neither of whom is listed.
The Middlesbrough player Tom Wise is another obvious omission. His son, David still plays, I believe, but was only about 4 or 5 at the time the list came out.

Out of curiosity how strong was the 16 year old Ken Neat at the time? He was in the 190's when I knew him about 12 years later but he'd spent a year or two in Russia studying Russian in the interim which might have given him a significant boost.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

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John Saunders
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by John Saunders » Wed Sep 02, 2015 10:57 am

The likeliest reason for few names appearing in a given part of the country is that few events were graded there. As Roger wrote upthread, it was significantly harder to qualify for the published list 45-55 years ago as local/minor/junior events mostly didn't get graded. As a new/young player it could take quite some time to see your name published - from my own experience, around two years after playing a considerable amount of competition chess. The same thing happened again when I returned from living abroad in the late 1970s.
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Wed Sep 02, 2015 6:31 pm

I thought nearly all club players were getting graded by the late 70s?
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John Clarke
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by John Clarke » Wed Sep 02, 2015 11:10 pm

Brian Towers wrote:Out of curiosity how strong was the 16 year old Ken Neat at the time? He was in the 190's when I knew him about 12 years later but he'd spent a year or two in Russia studying Russian in the interim which might have given him a significant boost.
Seeing he was one of that quartet tying for 2nd-5th in the 1961 U-18 (the fourth was M A Stevenson), I'd put him at 5b.
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

raycollett
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by raycollett » Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:40 am

John Saunders
I'm not entirely sure I understand the then Scottish system but I don't think it was an Elo System as it is now, more something modelled on the BCF system with a zero added to the end of the BCF grade number to create a four-figure one. Or was the underlying BCF grade (which wasn't published in that era) envisaged as having four digits?
Coming from my era I was interested and I dug out copies of old lists I still have. The 1975 Scots list has an article by AJ Lait, chief grader, which describes their system. It looks similar to ECF and includes a table giving the probabilities of a higher graded win when players with different grades meet: 0 p=0.5; 10 p=0.61; 20 p=0.71; 30 p=0.80; 40 p=0.87 and 50 p=0.92.

I will be sending a scan of this list to John.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Michael Farthing » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:17 am

I'm pretty sure the underlying grades were three digits. The earliest example I can find of numeric grades is the list for 1966 (Chess vol 31 p385 22.8.66). This list was still using the 1a 1b 2a.. system but has three figure grades attached (so 1b, for example is 241-248). It seems unlikely that earlier systems would have used 4 figures and then moved to three.
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Mike Gunn
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Mike Gunn » Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:04 pm

Clarke and/or Elo recognised in their publications that there is no justification for a 4th digit (because the amount of data collected doesn't justify it). Using the theory in Elo's book you can say that if a player plays 36 games in a year and has a grade of 244 there is a 50% probablity that the true strength lies in the range 240-248 (and corresponding 25% probabilities that it is either lower than 240 or higher than 248). Grading theory says grades are rather less accurate than many players suppose!

The above, of course is the reason Clarke used the 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b system in his early reporting of the strength of English players.

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John Saunders
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by John Saunders » Mon Apr 18, 2016 1:44 pm

raycollett wrote:Coming from my era I was interested and I dug out copies of old lists I still have. The 1975 Scots list has an article by AJ Lait, chief grader, which describes their system. It looks similar to ECF and includes a table giving the probabilities of a higher graded win when players with different grades meet: 0 p=0.5; 10 p=0.61; 20 p=0.71; 30 p=0.80; 40 p=0.87 and 50 p=0.92.

I will be sending a scan of this list to John.
Many thanks for sending me the 1975 Scottish grading list, Ray. As you can see, I have now uploaded it to BritBase for all to read.
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David Pardoe
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by David Pardoe » Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:54 am

I too found this quite interesting, and remember/have played some of the players...but I didn't really get started until the late sixties.
I note too the lack of North East players.. A Dr Batchelor, and Lance Oliver were both good Durham/South Shields players, and I think the latter was graded around the 200 mark in the late sixties. He was Durhams board 1 for some time, I believe.
I presume that the lists started to fill out around early 1970s, when the British chess scene started to boom..
The first major event I attended (as a spectator), was probably the British Champs (in Sunderland) around the mid sixties...
Don't know if there are any results tables from that period..
I remember seeing P.H Clarke there, having previously played him in a `Simultaineous` that he give in South Shields..
I think he played at Newcastle and Sunderland that week too... a very good player and his books were top draw... and still provide good reading material, I`d say..
In those days, these guys were quite able to take on a field of 30 - 40 opponents, and it made for a great nights chessing, for those involved.
BRING BACK THE BCF

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Michael Farthing
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by Michael Farthing » Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:18 am

David Pardoe wrote:
The first major event I attended (as a spectator), was probably the British Champs (in Sunderland) around the mid sixties...
Don't know if there are any results tables from that period..
Yes, there was a bulletin with all Championship games and tables of final results for all sections. I have a copy. PH Clarke came 2= with Norman Littlewood. Penrose was first.
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David Pardoe
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Re: At Last! The 1961 Grading List...

Post by David Pardoe » Tue Apr 19, 2016 12:06 pm

Thanks Michael...
I`ve `googled` the history and its quite interesting to note the players around that period and up to around 1975..
In the junior sections some notable rising stars were starting to show.. The era of BIll Hartston, Tony Miles, and many others on the British scene..
BRING BACK THE BCF

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