Dave Rumens

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Andrew Martin
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Andrew Martin » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:20 pm

The story about the moped brought back memories of a car trip from London to Glasgow for yet another weekend event. Rumens assured me he was happy to share the driving and that he had driven the ' length and breadth ' of Mexico ( where he lived for a while) . I asked him to show me his driving license , but he did not have it with him. It was an ' International Driving License ' apparently, valid in the UK.

I was young and naive. I believed him.

We made the first swap at Newport Pagnell service station and Rumens agreed to drive to Birmingham.

The departure made me uneasy ,as we crept out on to the M1 at about 5mph , nearly taking out a hitchhiker and the car ( my beloved Ford Escort) suddenly started veering towards the hard shoulder. I asked Dave to brake, but he didn't know where the brake was!

The car juddered to a halt about 50 yards from the service station and an embarrassed Rumens surrendered the keys ,along with a few well-chosen expletives.

We can definitely say that his chess was better than his driving.

Gordon Cadden
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Gordon Cadden » Thu Jul 13, 2017 7:46 pm

Good detective work by Christopher Kreuzer. It is "Double Exposure", which I read over 20 years ago. Carol does not mention Dave in the Poem, but I had not realized that she dedicated that poem to her husband.
As I recall, it focused on Dave's addiction to the "One Armed Bandits" in Camden Town. We do not know how that addiction damaged his marriage.
Carol also wrote a poem on another well known Hampstead player, who became a Middlesex Champion, and Hampstead Club Champion. That was Martin Blaine.

David Robertson
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by David Robertson » Thu Jul 13, 2017 9:14 pm

I have some doubt about how good she is as a poet, but no doubt at all that Carol Rumens has a fine eye and ear for a good poem

Roger Lancaster
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Roger Lancaster » Fri Jul 14, 2017 12:49 pm

Gordon Cadden wrote:Believe that Dave Rumens was involved in a major incident regarding the Rules of Play. Dave had checkmated his opponent, but his flag fell, as he gave the coup de grace. His opponent claimed a win on time. F.I.D.E. had to be consulted.
I think you'll find the game in question, which was indeed between Rumens and Mabbs, took place at the London Boys (predecessor of the London Junior) championships 1956. It ultimately settled the question of whether a move delivering checkmate was complete in itself without the need to stop the clock.

Correction: 1958 not 1956 (see DM post below)
Last edited by Roger Lancaster on Sun Jul 16, 2017 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.

David Mabbs
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by David Mabbs » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:05 pm

Several contributors have made the connection - … “major incident” … “Dave Rumens” … “FIDE had to be consulted” … “opponent was one David Mabbs, no less”. Courtesy demands that I give some kind of response.

For 59 years the full story has never been told. It is one of high drama, verging on melodrama. If ever I were to break my silence, then this thread is the time and place. And – I have to admit - the story sits superbly among all our tributes to Dave Rumens and among all our memories of his life and times. So, here goes.

The game was played in the London Boys' Under-18 Championship in January 1958. Dave went into the tournament as favourite, having won the British Boys' Under-18 Championship in August 1957. I was also in the reckoning, having taken the London Boys' Under-16 title that same year. In junior chess circles Dave and I were both well-known, not least through our association with the flamboyant Cedars Chess Club. Dave had defied convention – can you believe this of him ?? - by putting “Cedars Chess Club” on the British Boys' Trophy instead of the name of his school - and I did the same thing the following year.

We knew the London Boys' tournament controller well, Bert Hopkins. We were regular visitors to his North Harrow home, which boasted a phenomenal collection of chess books and memorabilia, and he would tell us first-hand anecdotes about famous players.

The clash between Rumens and Mabbs was eagerly anticipated – there were always fireworks when we met. Somehow we didn't meet until the final round, when we were the board one pairing. One by one the other games finished, and all attention focussed on our game. We were still in the early middle-game and already heading into deep time trouble. We both believed that attack was the best form of defence, and this was what we were doing. Attack was followed by counter-attack followed by counter-counter-attack.

We had both castled king-side. The f-file was open, and six major pieces were battling for control. Dave had a bishop bearing down on g8, and I had a bishop aimed at g1. We each had active knights. It was gripping stuff as we thumped down our moves, and for a while it was totally unclear who stood better. Then I began to realize that my own attacks were ineffective, whereas Dave's threats were becoming increasingly dangerous. I was forced into defence, and my prospects were grim.

The game went on, the clock kept getting bashed. The spectators were not just massed around the board, they were also above it, because we were playing next to a stairwell, and the crowd was lining the stairs and the landing. People were torn between watching the moves and watching the clock. And then Dave Rumens shouted excitedly “mate in two !”. All eyes went to the board. I made my reply on auto-pilot, and then – my only hope – I turned to the clock. It was my turn to shout: “you've lost on time !”

In all honesty I never knew, in fact nobody knew, what had happened first, delivery of mate or loss on time. Chances are, that it was near simultaneous. Pandemonium broke out, and then a stunned silence. The controller, Bert Hopkins, exclaimed wryly “I might have known something like this would happen with you two !” The controllers were unable to say who had won; the name of the champion was uncertain; and the prizes could not be awarded. Bert Hopkins passed the matter upstairs by way of case stated. The BCF passed it to the FIDE meeting in Moscow that May/June. FIDE ruled that mate ends the game – no need to stop the clock – and Dave Rumens was declared the winner.

Unfortunately, somewhere between London and Moscow the real issue in Rumens-Mabbs had been lost sight of. This was, of course, 'who is the winner, if nobody knows which came first, a loss on time, or the mating move ? ' So far as I know, this question remains unresolved to this day.

But please don't restart the debate - the game is history, let sleeping dogs lie ! I have always unreservedly accepted the official verdict. If in doubt, the game's the thing, and mate is what's important. Dave Rumens outplayed me. He fully deserved his win.

So, what did Dave and I make of it all ? We found it all rather exhilarating. It appealed to our sense of the absurd. In a word, we thought that the whole situation was hilarious. We never got fazed about it. We were highly amused at the debate that was sparked, and for a while we were household names. From day one, we just put our heads down and got on with chess as normal.

Nick Ivell
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Nick Ivell » Fri Jul 14, 2017 6:45 pm

What a joy this thread has been, albeit in a sad context. These threads should be the most important on the Forum, but all too often they fade after a few posts, with proper tributes not being paid.

Viktor Korchnoi? A couple of pages, and gone, unless my memory deceives me. That was all we felt he was worth.

Back to Rumens. I did not know him well. I got to play him once, in the early years of the the Blackpool congress. It must have been 1976 or 1977. It was the final round, on an embarrassingly low board. I remember David asking me, in that very direct way of his: 'Why haven't you got any points then?' The answer was that I had faced Michael Franklin and John Littlewood in the first couple of rounds. Rumens played his trademark 2. f4 Sicilian and offered an early draw, which I gratefully accepted. I think he wanted to cut his losses and run. Blackpool. Miserable March weather and a long journey home for the southerners. A couple of bad games and no prizes to be had. It gave me an insight into what life must have been like as a chess professional, as I assume David was at that time.

A question for those who knew Rumens well. What was he up to in the 1960s? I've hardly seen any of his games from that decade. From my perspective as a junior in the 1970s he seemed to emerge out of nowhere.

A final reminiscence. I think it was also at Blackpool that I overheard a classic comment from the late Tony Miles, on seeing the grade of his next opponent. 'Under 200 - don't have to think'. At his best David would have been justified in taking the same attitude, but he would not have had the arrogance to say so. I certainly think of him as a very effective crusher of weaker players.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Stewart Reuben » Fri Jul 14, 2017 10:44 pm

David Mabbs didn't get things quite correct in his description of his game with Dave Rumens.
Bert Hopkins was the organiser of the London Boys. I was chatting to him in his office when the Chief Arbiter, Mike Sinclair, burst in with the news. Read about it in my obituary of Dave that will appear on the ECF website next week. But I have been under the impression, since 1958, that Dave R delivered mate, but failed to press his clock in time. I hadn't realised there was some controversy over whether the mate was delivered first, or the clock fell. What matters according to the current Laws id what Mike Cinclair saw, or failing that, what David M announced.
Have no doubt. If the mate is delivered before the flag fall is seen by the arbiter, the mate, or stalemate, or other drawing possibilities, take precedence.

David R lived and worked in Mexico for a time in the 1960s. When he returned to England, he played in the Portsmouth weekend tournament. He played against Malcolm Lightfoot (?) quite a strong 170s player and crushed him. I then told Malcolm that this ungraded players had come runner-up in the World Junior.
He and I played in Portsmouth. There was the possibility for a hari-kiri variaton where we would both promote to a second queen. 'He won't play that'. It would mean losing rook for knight'. But he did. Of course, it is now obvious to me, in such positions, having the only knight on the board is very valuable. As usual I got the better position. As usual he got into time trouble. As usual, he swindled me in this situation.

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John Clarke
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by John Clarke » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:14 am

David Mabbs wrote:We were still in the early middle-game and already heading into deep time trouble. We both believed that attack was the best form of defence, and this was what we were doing. Attack was followed by counter-attack followed by counter-counter-attack.

We had both castled king-side. The f-file was open, and six major pieces were battling for control. Dave had a bishop bearing down on g8, and I had a bishop aimed at g1. We each had active knights. It was gripping stuff as we thumped down our moves, and for a while it was totally unclear who stood better. Then I began to realize that my own attacks were ineffective, whereas Dave's threats were becoming increasingly dangerous. I was forced into defence, and my prospects were grim.
Sounds like quite a game, even without the sensational climax! Do you still have the score? Be great to see it, but it doesn't seem to be around anywhere on-line
"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.)

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Roger de Coverly » Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:23 am

Nick Ivell wrote:From my perspective as a junior in the 1970s he seemed to emerge out of nowhere.
Stewart Reuben suggests that he had been abroad in Mexico. There were a number of players who "returned" post Fischer and once the Grand Prix circuit of weekend tournaments had become established.

John Collins
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by John Collins » Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:07 am

Dave did indeed live and work in Mexico in the 1960's - for the office supplies company Kalamazoo, I believe. Apropos his driving skills, he told me that he wrote off a car there, turning it completely over, but this didn't seem to faze him.

David Mabbs
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by David Mabbs » Sat Jul 15, 2017 10:31 am

In answer to John Clarke, I don't have the score of the London Boys' game. In 1964 I gave up chess "for ever", and in typically stupid and over-the-top manner, I acted as if I was giving up an addiction that I risked again succumbing to. So I got B H Wood to come to my home and take away everything (sets, clocks, books, game scores ... all bar a tiny handful of photographs and mementoes). When circumstances had changed, by 1971, I came back to the game for three years. Bill Hartston came across me and quipped " you must have read somewhere that chess players reach their peak in their mid-30s, and you didn't bother with the years between".

I kept in contact with Dave Rumens periodically throughout his life. We were seldom disciplined enough to analyse positions systematically, both labelling ourselves as "intuitive" players - and our analyses would quickly degenerate into ridiculous mini-contests before we eventually realized that we had strayed a million miles from the original position, and had proved nothing !

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Michael Farthing
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Michael Farthing » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:26 am

David Mabbs wrote: I kept in contact with Dave Rumens periodically throughout his life. We were seldom disciplined enough to analyse positions systematically, both labelling ourselves as "intuitive" players - and our analyses would quickly degenerate into ridiculous mini-contests before we eventually realized that we had strayed a million miles from the original position, and had proved nothing !
Goodness me! I'd never do that. :)

David Mabbs
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by David Mabbs » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:33 am

Dave Rumens' travel misfortunes seem to be a recurring theme. I can add another example.

In 1958, Dave landed a dream job, working for British Rail at Kings Cross. Railways were his passion from childhood, and he would now enjoy free rail travel. That same year, at the age of 18, he qualified for the British Championship finals in Leamington Spa. Dave decided that – rather than stay in Leamington Spa - this would be a wonderful opportunity to use his rail pass, despite the complicated journeys to and from Harrow Weald, which would take upwards of four hours a day.

He arrived fresh for Round One, in which Dave (the reigning British Boys Under-18 Champion) was paired against Dr S Fazekas (the reigning British Champion). Dave caused a sensation as he completely overwhelmed the doctor. But of course, the more the tournament wore on, the more exhausted Dave became, and inevitably he didn't perform to his full potential. A shame.

Cedars Chess Club, though, took advantage of Dave's job to support another of our frequent outrageous claims. In early 1959 we boasted that our membership included four current British Champions .. British Universities, British Under-15, British Under-18 and British Rail.

Paul Habershon
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Paul Habershon » Sat Jul 15, 2017 3:55 pm

Nothing to equal the superb reminiscences recounted so far, but a tale told to me by Jim Plaskett when he and Dave Rumens were participants in the same British Championship. They must have been discussing general strategy for White - 'Up the middle and turn right'. This apparently led to hand signals being made at the board during play - typical of Dave's irreverent sense of humour and an apt counterpoint to his dubious driving skills.

Gordon Cadden
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Re: Dave Rumens

Post by Gordon Cadden » Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:20 pm

My knowledge of the Cedars Club and Dave Rumens, during the early years, came from DJ Mabbs. He was the man of letters, making many contributions to the CHESS magazine. Very sad that having gained two IM Norms, the third Norm was a bridge to far. Believe that his progress in the 1970's, faltered when the next generation of players reached GM standard. They knew the theoretical lines of play, and had no fear of Rumens aggressive style over the board.
DR lived in Mexico for much of the 1960's, but I have noticed that he played in several Chess Festivals at Eastbourne during this period, so he must have returned to England at some stage.
Very pleased that DR took up coaching in the 1990's. He was very good with the parents, and often travelled to tournaments, to support his pupils, and help them analyze their games.

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