Lowest Graded British Champion

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Gavin Strachan
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Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Gavin Strachan » Fri Jun 19, 2009 11:58 am

Here's a thought, wonder if anyone knows the answer.
Who was the lowest graded player to win the British Championship?

I know this is technically difficult to answer before the time of grading.

John Upham
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by John Upham » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:12 pm

Carl,

Can you move this thread into the Chess History section please?
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Leonard Barden
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Leonard Barden » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:28 pm

If you substitute 'weakest' for the impossible to answer 'lowest graded' I suspect John Saunders might have something to say.....

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Jon Mahony
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Jon Mahony » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:23 pm

Well there’s been one since 1904, so I presume we’ll have to take it from the relatively modern day. I had an idea it was Keene myself – great talker who somehow ended up the face of British Chess in the 80’s and 90’s but the weakest British GM of his generation in my opinion.

Possibly Jonathan Mestel is another candidate as well, though I love some of his games, great sacrificial player.
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Gavin Strachan
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Gavin Strachan » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:16 pm

Had to search around for a response having found the question moved. Not that I am fussed where it is just curious on the stats front. Weakest I thought maybe the most appropriate definition to cater for the times when grades weren't used.

Ian Thompson
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Ian Thompson » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:56 pm

Jon Mahony wrote:Well there’s been one since 1904, so I presume we’ll have to take it from the relatively modern day. I had an idea it was Keene myself – great talker who somehow ended up the face of British Chess in the 80’s and 90’s but the weakest British GM of his generation in my opinion.

Possibly Jonathan Mestel is another candidate as well, though I love some of his games, great sacrificial player.
I'm surprised you think either of these players are weaker than any of the IMs who won the British Championship in the 1970s and 80s. If you look at the champions over the last 50 years, I'd go for Brian Eley as the weakest of them.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:24 am

I would say Eley had the edge over Haygarth - maybe the most "out of the blue" winner ever??
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Leonard Barden
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Leonard Barden » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:24 am

Taking the entire period from 1904 , the two weakest were probably RC Griffith and RHV Scott, both moderate amateurs for whom the British was a once-in-a lifetime result. True, Griffith was the co-founder of Modern Chess Openings, for long considered the 'chessplayer's bible', but his playing career was mediocre.

Taking it from the first post-war championship, I think the leading contenders were RF Combe in 1946 and Stefan Fazekas in 1957, both again scoring far above their general performance. Having played all three, I consider Fazekas was weaker than Eley or Haygarth. The two 1954 co-winners wouldn't be far off the cellar.

In the most recent period from c1975 onwards, there are again several players for whom a solitary British championship victory stood out from their overall record. I don't know enough about each of them to make an informed choice. But certainly not Keene, who was a solid internationally performing GM in his peak years, nor the very talented Mestel, who before he gave preference to his academic career was the equal of his contemporary Jonathan Speelman.
Last edited by Leonard Barden on Sat Jun 20, 2009 4:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Simon Spivack
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Simon Spivack » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:45 am

Leonard has the advantage of a complete list of champions. Others, before opting for "pick 'n' mix", may find it useful to learn of all the sweets on offer.

Ignoring dates and the number of times won, the list of champions is as follows:

Napier, Atkins, Griffith, Scott, Yates, Thomas, Sultan Khan, Winter, Fairhurst, Alexander, Combe, Golombek, Broadbent, Klein, Wade, Janowsky, Barden, Phillips, Fazekas, Penrose, Haygarth, Lee, Keene, Eley, Hartston, Botterill, Mestel, Bellin, Nunn, Littlewood, Miles, Short, Speelman, Adams, Plaskett, Hodgson, Hennigan, Watson, Sadler, Ward, Gallagher, Ramesh, Kunte, Rowson, Aagard, Conquest.

I hope that is everyone. As I recall there was quite a stink about board order for the England team when Dr Fazekas won.

One mischievous suggestion is to nominate all our living champions, to provoke them into posting here. :idea:
Last edited by Simon Spivack on Sat Jun 20, 2009 9:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

Neill Cooper
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Neill Cooper » Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:48 am

Jon Mahony wrote:Possibly Jonathan Mestel is another candidate as well, though I love some of his games, great sacrificial player.
His 9 consecutive wins at Portsmouth was an amazing, and record breaking, performance.

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Gavin Strachan
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Gavin Strachan » Sat Jun 20, 2009 10:26 am

Thanks for the responses. A difficult task as especially for the early champs a definitive result as to the weakest can potentially only be answered by knowledge of their results against their contemporaries.

A fantastic achievement to all the above. Fazakis I think won the Essex championship the most times around the fifties with more than five titles to his credit. I can't give a precise answer but know it is on the Essex website (I am writing this from my mobile ~ sad!)

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Gavin Strachan
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Gavin Strachan » Sat Jun 20, 2009 11:48 am

Just a quick addition now I have the material. Fazekas won the Essex Championships a record 11 times and is credited as being the oldest winner of the British championships.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:02 pm

Interesting to hear Leonard's views on this, as ever.

Re R F Combe - I do think he deserves to be remembered for a *bit* more than that four move loss at the 1933 Olympiad. Looking at accounts of the time, it is noticeable how rarely he actually played in strong events - he withdrew from a few tournaments shortly before their start citing "ill health"; and he did indeed die young. But maybe it was nerves as well?

I see Klein is listed - he may not have been quite as weak as some others, but from the contemporary sources I have seen he may well have been the most obnoxious :twisted:

To turn the question round - who are the best players never to win the British? In modern times Chandler obviously stands out, but it is IMO less well known Stean never quite managed it either (maybe if he had played a bit longer.......)

In the pre-GM era, there is the other Thomas (Andrew, not George) and the Woods (Barry of course, but also Gabriel - widely forgotten now but one of the strongest British players immediately post WW2) Maybe Abrahams too - though he was probably never as good a player as he was a writer :)

Any others, people?
Last edited by Matt Mackenzie on Fri Oct 16, 2009 12:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Leonard Barden
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:14 pm

Gordon Crown, who would have been 80 yesterday and would have been stronger than Penrose if he had survived beyond his teens.....

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Lowest Graded British Champion

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Sun Jun 21, 2009 9:55 pm

Yes, of course :)

Imagine both him and Klaus Junge fulfilling their potential, eh?

We might not have had to wait for Fischer to challenge USSR hegemony :D
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