Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
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John Saunders
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Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:36 am

I am posting this to draw the forum's attention to a number of recent updates to BritBase:

http://www.saund.co.uk/britbase/whatsnew.html

Amongst the mainly historical items is one from the here and now, namely the 2018 Bolton Easter Congress. My thanks to Ian Lamb for supplying the games.

Otherwise the main additions are mostly from the 1950s, which I have fleshed out with crosstables, full results of all sections, newspaper reports, letters to newspaper editors (featuring controversies concerning the use of the Swiss system, Dr Fazekas being excluded from the 1958 Olympiad team, etc) and a couple of photos. If any members of the forum can source further games from these or other such tournaments, including the subsidiary events, I will be glad to receive them (either by email or posted here).

For those who enjoy a bit of detective work, I would also value help in tracing full names of players who took part in British Championships of that era. For example, in 1958 there was a player called A Samuels. All I know of him was that he played for Bournemouth CC. And FW Viney, who played for the GPO in the Civil Service League and also Finchley CC (Chessgames.com has him down as Francis William Viney which may well be right but I would like corroboration). In the 1957 championship there were JW Naylor and J Jarvis whose forenames I have yet to establish. JW Naylor played again in 1959. NL Freeman was in the field in 1959 - Big/Mega Database rather predictably has him down as Nigel Freeman but the FIDE official of that name would have been five years old at the time.
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Roger de Coverly
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Roger de Coverly » Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:56 am

John Saunders wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 11:36 am
Dr Fazekas being excluded from the 1958 Olympiad team
An interesting snippet from the 1958 report is that the BCF held what was described as a "annual members’ meeting" during the Congress. Whether this was an AGM, A Council meeting (or then equivalent) or something rather less formal wasn't stated.

Given its absence ten or so years later, it must have been dropped. As the Fazekas incident probably showed, it was dangerous to allow an open meeting at which players could shout at the BCF establishment over unpopular decisions.

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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Leonard Barden » Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:56 pm

H Alec Samuels (always known as Alec) was educated at Selhurst Grammar School, Croydon. He was an active player until around 1950 or 1951, maybe played in the 1950 British Universities championship, gave up for a few years, and returned, though not for very long, around 1958. My memory is that he was working then, perhaps as a university academic, in Southampton.

The reference above to Fazekas's exclusion from the Olympiad team still bugs me after 60 years. Faz made a big fuss and very publicly returned his British Championship trophy as a protest, so got all the attention. But shortly after Hastings 1957-58 where I was fourth to the world championship candidates Keres, Gligoric and Filip while Faz was plumb last, BH Wood wrote an editorial in CHESS comparing our overall records and concluded that I should have been on the team.

Alexander, Milner-Barry and Golombek were running the selection and they chose only five players for the 1958 Munich Olympiad, ie no second reserve, ostensibly on cost grounds but also to avoid including me or Faz. They didn't want Faz because they knew he would most probably do badly and was too egocentric to be a good team member, and they didn't want me because they were too influenced by the 1954 Olympiad where I performed poorly. They also didn't want to be seen to be being influenced by BH who all of them disliked.

After the 1958 British championship at Leamington, where I tied first with Penrose ahead of Clarke and Wade (who were on the Olympiad team) with Faz down the field, Penrose, Clarke and Wade sent a letter to the selectors asking that I should be added to the Olympiad team. This was rejected with the comment that they would have accepted it had I been outright champion instead of tied first.

I went to Munich anyway to report for BBC radio and the Guardian, and helped the team with openings preparation and adjournment analysis. The five-man team decision backfired as the players, particularly Alexander, got very tired in the last few rounds (they were near the bottom of the A final so had to meet superior opposition pretty well every match).

The mistake was effectively acknowledged and rectified when I was included in the 1960 Olympiad team, where my 60% was the best percentage of the team and in 1962, where my 67% was second best after Penrose.

So it still bugs me now to see that what really happened in 1958 is written out of chess history in favour of 'Fazekas was excluded'.

Paul Cooksey
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Paul Cooksey » Tue Apr 17, 2018 1:21 pm

Carl - how are you doing with the like button? :-) We need a way to thank Leonard for his posts!

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Gerard Killoran
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:26 pm

There is a famous game between F.W. Viney and H.F. Gook where Viney represented the General Post Office v Customs on 3 December 1926.

The Scottish version of the London Gazette has a Francis William Viney appointed as a Post Office Assistant Clerk on December 10, 1914.

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/Edinburgh/ ... 4/data.pdf

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John Saunders
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:32 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:56 pm
H Alec Samuels (always known as Alec) was educated at Selhurst Grammar School, Croydon. He was an active player until around 1950 or 1951, maybe played in the 1950 British Universities championship, gave up for a few years, and returned, though not for very long, around 1958. My memory is that he was working then, perhaps as a university academic, in Southampton.
Well remembered! Yes, this checks out. Henry Alexander Samuels, born 1930 in Croydon, became a barrister then a law lecturer at Southampton. Also a local politician, rising to become leader of the Southampton council until retiring in 2010 (lots of refs online if anyone wants to follow up). As far as I can see Alec Samuels is still around and playing chess in Hampshire, with an ECF grade up to about a year ago. I had seen reference to a player called H.A. Samuels in earlier newspaper reports but thought they must be different people as 1950s magazine and newspaper editors tended to be punctilious about recording a full set of initials, but it seems he dropped the unwanted 'H' permanently when entering tournaments in the late 1950s.
Leonard Barden wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 12:56 pm
The reference above to Fazekas's exclusion from the Olympiad team still bugs me after 60 years.
Sorry if I touched a nerve there, Leonard! (Might have been better for me to have written 'not included' rather than 'excluded' as they are not quite the same thing.) Your side of the story is, as far as I can discover so far, entirely absent from the online/printed record, though it is certainly possible to read between the lines and see that Dr. Fazekas was making quite a lot of fuss over not very much. (It was interesting to see that Fazekas's unexpected success provoked some opposition to the use of the Swiss system for championships, even after it had been in use for eight years. I was astonished to see that this public discussion about the relative merits of tournament systems was eventually aired in a Times leader - something that would be unimaginable today.)

Though my intention was not to needle you, it is all the more worthwhile that you have given us such a splendid account here and I shall put in a link to this from BritBase. I was curious about your reference to the BH Wood editorial. I've not been able to find it yet as I don't have that particular volume of CHESS magazine to hand. BH seems to have been playing a double game as he was most solicitous and sympathetic to Fazekas in one of his Illustrated London News columns (which I have found and reproduced), although one can't help suspecting that this was just one more convenient way for BH to have a dig at the BCF/London powers-that-be.

Having read a lot of his newspaper oeuvre from the late 1950s, I sense that he (BHW) was in a particularly pugnacious mood at the time. One thing I haven't mentioned yet (as I haven't read enough about it yet and it is not relevant to tournament records) is that his home county, Warwickshire, was in the midst of a row with the BCF, I think about adjudications, and was even threatening to disaffiliate. Perhaps someone else who knows more could enlighten us on that one.
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John Saunders
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:35 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:26 pm
There is a famous game between F.W. Viney and H.F. Gook where Viney represented the General Post Office v Customs on 3 December 1926.

The Scottish version of the London Gazette has a Francis William Viney appointed as a Post Office Assistant Clerk on December 10, 1914.

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/Edinburgh/ ... 4/data.pdf
As ever Gerard is Heineken to my ordinary lager - he reaches the parts of online archives which I fail to reach. Many thanks for this, Gerard.
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Leonard Barden
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Leonard Barden » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:42 pm

Gerard Killoran wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:26 pm
There is a famous game between F.W. Viney and H.F. Gook where Viney represented the General Post Office v Customs on 3 December 1926.

The Scottish version of the London Gazette has a Francis William Viney appointed as a Post Office Assistant Clerk on December 10, 1914.

https://www.thegazette.co.uk/Edinburgh/ ... 4/data.pdf
I played HF Gook in the Croydon Championship of 1945. He was among the top six players of what was a very large club because it was open daily in a department store in Central Croydon. Gook was then probably in his sixties and I guess around 170 strength. I was Black in a Nimzo-Indian and we reached a drawn rook ending after about 60 moves. He wasn't a specially pleasant opponent as he had a chronic nervous cough.

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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Leonard Barden » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:50 pm

John Saunders wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:32 pm
I was curious about your reference to the BH Wood editorial. I've not been able to find it yet as I don't have that particular volume of CHESS magazine to hand.
January, February or possibly March 1958 should find it, probably the first two pages of the magazine.

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Michael Farthing » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:43 pm

Umm I remember Dr Fazekas.
During the 1966 British, players could receive the daily bulletin and at the end of the fortnight also have the final results pages and a (sort of) card front and back cover. They appeared with their collected pages over the fortnight and had them stapled together. Also available for purchase was a ready stapled brand new complete copy in pristine condition.

I had the job of doing the stapling.

Dr Fazekas arrived with his well thumbed and crumpled pages, waved them in my face saying that he was in a great hurry. "No don't staple them - give me one of those ready done copies over there!"

I am pleased to say that my thirteen year old self stood his ground boyfully and refused to be intimidated.

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John Saunders
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:10 pm

Michael Farthing wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:43 pm
Umm I remember Dr Fazekas.
...
I am pleased to say that my thirteen year old self stood his ground boyfully and refused to be intimidated.
Great anecdote, Michael! One for your autobiography - suggested title The Boy Who Fazed Faz.

I've just looked through my Varsity research notes and discovered that Alec Samuels was at Magdalene College, Cambridge, playing in the 1951 and 1952 Varsity matches against Oxford. In 1951 he was the man who rescued a match draw for Cambridge in the final game to finish with the following win against Ninian Marshall...



Whilst perusing the records, I noticed I also had a score of the top board game O.Penrose-Barden, acquired via an email exchange with Oliver Penrose back in 2004. He didn't have the score of the game but attempted to piece it together from memory. It helped that it wasn't very long. Here is the game as remembered by Oliver with his comments interspersed...

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Leonard Barden
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Leonard Barden » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:27 pm

Where does Ninian Marshall come from?
I remember him clearly as Ian, and on team sheets he was I Marshall.
As for the Penrose opening, Bc5 and Nd4 was often played by O'Kelly at that time as a drawing weapon.

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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by John Saunders » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:05 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:27 pm
Where does Ninian Marshall come from?
I remember him clearly as Ian, and on team sheets he was I Marshall.
As for the Penrose opening, Bc5 and Nd4 was often played by O'Kelly at that time as a drawing weapon.
This particular name is something of a conundrum. I got 'Ninian Marshall' from the booklet Oxford-Cambridge Chess Matches (1873-1987) compiled by Jeremy Gaige in 1987. In putting together the scores of matches Gaige delegated the provision of full names to TG Whitworth. I've spent a lot of time poring over this particular booklet and have to say that Whitworth did an excellent job (I imagine he looked people up in the Oxford/Cambridge Registers, which could be found in good reference libraries in those days). However, I did make my own note of the fact that The Times and BCM at the time both gave this player's name as I.Marshall (Merton College).

I just checked statutory records and discovered an Ian Ninian Marshall born 1932, died 2011 (in Witney). The grading list has a player called Ian Marshall, playing for Cowley, up to 2006. And I've just found something on this forum from a few years ago which concluded that this was the same Ian Marshall who played in the 1951 Varsity match. And I've now found this further page which shows that the man was indeed known as Dr Ninian Marshall (his wife's name from the other website appears elsewhere on the same page). Perhaps he used 'Ian' for chess and 'Ninian' for his professional work.

But I shall amend his name in my notes to 'Ian Ninian Marshall'. Many thanks for drawing this to my attention, Leonard.
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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Roger de Coverly » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:13 am

John Saunders wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:32 pm
Fazekas's unexpected success.
I had a look at his games from the British and the following Hastings. His contemporaries thought he lacked opening knowledge although with the benefit of history you can perhaps see that his use of club player favourites worked well against his opponents in the British but less well against Gligorich and Keres at Hastings. Kramnik, Carlsen and others have made his sort of stuff work, possibly only against less than top class opposition. Still he played 1. d4 Nf6 2. e3 with success against BH Wood following it up with the reverse Stonewall plan of f4.

You have to question his endgame understanding though.

This position arose against Leonard Barden with Black to move, who played .. Bd4.



I've never thought these types of positions particularly difficult to defend. You park the King on a decent square and the Bishop as well and then just shuffle. With two pieces potentially able to move, zugswangs are difficult to organise. As Black's winning plan has to be to play f1=Q, the presence of the King on f5 looks optimal. b5 looks a decent square for the Bishop, but you would have to analyse whether a Black King transfer to the Queen side would force the White King to follow and the consequences of freeing the f pawn to advance a bit. Rather than have to decide this with a couple of minutes on the clock, it would have been 16 moves an hour plus periodic adjournments.

In the event the White King made an unforced detour to the queen side whereupon the advance of the f pawn was dangerous and Black won.

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Re: Historical British tournaments: latest BritBase updates

Post by Leonard Barden » Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:46 am

The ending which Roger has posted and analysed is from round six of the British championship at Plymouth 1957. The game was adjourned after 40 moves and five hours with resumption two hours later. In that time I had to write and phone my daily Guardian report and eat, but still managed to analyse the position and decided to continue.

Faz was annoyed that I wouldn't agree a draw so played the adjournment session carelessly and fast until it dawned on him that he had chucked his position away when he slowed down, too late. But Roger is right, the diagrammed position is very drawn.

The result gave me the first week lead with 5/6.On the way back Jonathan Penrose asked me "How does it feel to be leading the British championship?" and I replied "Nervous". Too right.

After various second week adventures I again had a chance to lead at the start of the final round when I adjourned in round ten a pawn up against Penrose, but messed it up and lost.

Faz did have an over-optimistic approach to some endgames, notoriously against William Winter at Buxton 1950, where the position was heading for B and wrong colour RP v K late in the adjournment session when Faz refused a draw. Winter took umbrage and declared loudly "You can keep on trying to win this, Doctor Fazekas, until the cows come home. I'm off to the pub!"

Then he marched out to the pub a few doors away. He had plenty of clock time left, returned 20 minutes later, and banged down his king at h8. Faz still made a move or two, but a crowd gathered round the board, Winter continued to bang down his king, and Faz got the message.

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