British Grandmasters

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Richard James
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Richard James » Sat Jan 24, 2009 10:35 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:At the time in question (late 1970s) Keene believed that Penrose had been insufficiently active in international chess during his period at the top. Keene also had a plus in their personal games and had been present at Bath 1973 and Nice 1974 when Penrose was in decline, so this probably also coloured his view. In one of his own early books, I think on becoming a grandmaster, Keene had a section or chapter attacking Penrose which was toned down by the publisher or editor.
Yes, it was in Becoming a Grandmaster.

" me it seems that Penrose's very domination of British chess, and his failure to move beyond it into the international sphere, where his talents surely placed him, exerted a detrimental effect on our collective national development."

And again...

"...Penrose's attitude towards international competition, combined with his overwhelming position within our national structure proved a gigantic stumbling block for the development of other players."

And much else in the same chapter.

(Source: Keene: R, Becoming a Grandmaster pp62-66 (Batsford 1977))

I thought at the time, and still think, that this was rather unfair towards Penrose. Penrose was committed to his profession and probably temperamentally unsuited to the life of a professional chess player. Today, we could, I suppose, make similar comments about the likes of Sadler and McShane, but I really don't think it's appropriate for the chess community, or individual members of that community to comment critically about whether a particular individual should or should not be playing chess professionally. We all have different priorities in our lives, and the life of a professional chess player is not for everyone. It's a pity, yes, but life goes on, and it's futile to speculate on what might have happened had different decisions been made.

I would second Paul's proposal that Leonard should write his autobiography.

Paul McKeown
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Paul McKeown » Sun Jan 25, 2009 2:25 am


Just a couple of annotations to your list of IM's (which ought to be taken up when we construct a list of British IM's):
a) Kottnauer was awarded the IM title in 1950 as a member of the Czechoslavak federation according to Wade's report in BCM ; he moved soon afterward to England
b) Koenig moved later to USA.

Probably we should try to tighten up and give dates to these changes of nationality or registration. More challenging, though.

Last edited by Paul McKeown on Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

Leonard Barden
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Leonard Barden » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:48 am

Cenek Kottnauer defected from Czechoslovakia during the Lucerne New Year tournament of 1952-3 (I am precise on this because I was present). His wife Danielle joined him there, having been smuggled from Prague in the boot of a diplomat's car. Kottnauer had been a water polo player of international standard before 1939 so came into serious chess only his mid-30s. He made his name with his good showing in the Prague v Moscow match of 1946 and his Bxh7+ win then against Kotov. He competed in great tournaments like Groningen 1946 and Moscow 1947; his first visit to England was in 1947 when the Czech team came here.
In the 1940s he had a job in the Czech sports ministry but got implicated in the purges following the Slansky trial. He also believed that Pachman and Opocensky were involved in the campaign against him.
He only settled in England in the mid-1950s and, with an executive job for Fortes the restaurant chain had limited time for chess. After he retired he did chess coaching and, although never named in the BCF's list of coaches, was the most successful of all in terms of achievements by those he taught. He normally did weekly sessions of a couple of hours and got results through his challenging and sceptical approach to ideas from his pupils.
Kottnauer pupils included Hodgson, Watson, and Kumaran, who all became grandmasters. When he came to our junior invitation tournaments in the mid-seventies I used to give a prize of a game and session with him to exceptional talents. So he played Nigel Short in spring 1975 (probably Short's first one-to-one with an IM) and was enthusiastic about his promise. In 1981 when Stuart Conquest was going to the the world U16 championship in Argentina Cenek coached him for several months beforehand and went with him to the event. No news reports were available during the tournament so the first I knew was when Cenek phoned me on his return to London and complained that he was tired having to carry this enormous trophy home (Stuart had broken his arm before the event and played in a sling) and how the food had been terrible but that Eliskases, who was involved in the organisation, had sworn him to secrecy.
I used to visit him a couple of times a month for talk and blitz sessions and have warm memories. A great guy,and a significant figure in the long departed English chess boom.
Last edited by Leonard Barden on Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sun Jan 25, 2009 10:49 am

RDK launched perhaps his longest attack on Penrose in two pages of prose in Kasparov's "Revolution in the Seventies". In the final chapter, Kasparov invited 28 top players who were active in the 1970s to give their views of how longstanding the opening developments in that period had proven to be. Asking Keene to contribute might have made sense if, for example, he had written about the Modern, or indeed his preparations with Korchnoi. But RDK wrote virtually nothing about chess at all and took this opportunity to explain to the world how Penrose had held back a talented generation of English players, a situation which he himself was thankfully able to resolve singlehandedly.

Even by RDK standards this seemed astonishing as it was appalling, but now I wonder whether he was just lifting material from the earlier chapter which he had not been allowed to publish. He clearly does not like anything to go to waste.

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Sun Jan 25, 2009 12:57 pm


On your list of GMs, I think you should double check when Nick Pert became a GM. 2001 seems many years too early to me.

Paul McKeown
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Paul McKeown » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:10 pm

Jonathan Rogers wrote:On your list of GMs, I think you should double check when Nick Pert became a GM. 2001 seems many years too early to me.

Thanks for the info. I'm sure you're right. As I said, "Still not sure that the list is complete or entirely accurate." The Nick Pert date came from the FGB 1924 - 2002, Willy Iclicki, FIDE 2002, which, as I also indicated, (for various reasons - including its rather poor production vales - yes it sometimes is right to judge a book by its cover!) I don't regard as entirely reliable.

I shall plough through the volumes of BCM, Chess and the BCF Year Books that I have (or have borrowed!) for corroboration and indicate the "facts" that are trustworthy and those that I feel are not. It would be nice if others would pitch in too...


James Coleman
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by James Coleman » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:29 pm

Danny Gormally was definitely 2005.

Nick Pert's own website says 2003 not 2001.

Mick Norris
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Mick Norris » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:35 pm

Doesn't this mean that Nick Pert couldn't become a GM until his rating reached 2500 in 2004, or am I missing something?

His website says "During this time I achieved my Grandmaster title with a 2670 performace in Hoogeveen, Holland in 2003", but that doesn't mean he actually got the title then, does it?
Any postings on here represent my personal views and should not be taken as representative of the Manchester Chess Federation

James Coleman
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by James Coleman » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:40 pm

Quite possibly, the point was that as Jonathan Rogers quite correctly pointed out, it had to be a fair bit later than 2001 !

James Coleman
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by James Coleman » Sun Jan 25, 2009 9:49 pm

I also can't see Jonathan Rowson on that list anywhere !?!

Paul McKeown
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:35 am

An updated list.

a) Livre d'Or de la Fédération Internationale d'Echecs, FIDE, 1976
b) FIDE Golden Book 1924 - 2002, Wlly Iclicki, FIDE 2002
[Note:- perhaps not 100% reliable]
c) Chess A Biobibliography, Jeremy Gaige, McFarland & Co., 1987
d) ICCF website
[Note:- for correspondence GM titles up to 2006]
e) PCCC website
[Note:- for composition and solving titles]
f) FIDE website
[Note:- doesn't give info about inactive players]
g) English Chess Federation THE OFFICIAL CHESS YEARBOOK 2006
h) BCM 1999, 2000, 2002, BCM 2003
i) Chessbase website, article titled David Howell becomes a grandmaster at 16,, viewed 23 Jan. 2009
j) Nick Pert's website,, viewed 26 Jan. 2009
k) two postings to this thread by Jack Rudd
l) posting to this thread by Leonard Barden
m) communciation from Andrew Burnett
n) post to this thread by James Coleman
o) post to this thread by Mick Norris

1950 Mieses, Jacques *27.2.1865 Leipzig +23.2.1954 London
1972 Mansfield, Comins (GBR) (PCCC composition) *14.6.1896 Witheridge +28.03.1984 Paignton
1972 Bonham, Reginald Walter (Corr. for Blind) *31-01-1906 +16-03-1984
1975 Richardson, Keith Bevan (ICCF)
1976 Miles, Anthony John *23.04.1955 Edgbaston +12.11.2001; then later, Keene, Raymond D
1976 Hollis, Adrian Swayne (ICCF)
1977 Stean, Michael F
1978 Nunn, John DM
1980 Speelman, Jonathan S
1980 Clarke, Peter Hugh (ICCF)
1982 Mestel, A Jonathan
1982 Miles, Dr. Jana (IWGM) (née Malypetrova, then Hartston, later Miles, now Bellin) (given as CSR by FGB 1924-2002, when did she change nationality?)
1983 Chandler, Murray G (given as NZD, when did he change nationality?)
1983 Penrose, Jonathan (ICCF); Webb, Simon (ICCF) *10.06.1949 London +14.3.2005
1984 Short, Nigel D
1984 Markland, Peter Richard (ICCF)
1985 Plaskett, H James
1985 Golombek Harry (HGM) *01.03.1911 London +1995
1986 Bryson, Douglas Marshall (ICCF)
1987 Flear, Glenn C
1987 Arakhamia, Ketevan (WIGM) (then USSR, later Georgia, now Scotland, as Arakhamia-Grant)
1988 Hodgson, Julian
1988 Lalic, Bogdan (then Yugoslavia, later England, now Croatia)
1988 Arkell, Susan K (née Walker, now Lalic)
1989 King, Daniel J; Adams, Michael; Norwood, David
1989 Povah, Nigel Edward
1990 Gallagher, Joseph (then England, now Switzerland, I think); Watson, William N; Levitt, Jonathan
1991 Conquest, Stuart
1992 Hebden, Mark; McNab, Colin A (Scotland); Motwani , Paul (Scotland)
1993 Davies, Nigel D; Sadler, Matthew; Penrose, Jonathan
1993 MacLeod, Norman Alisdair (GBR) (PCCC composition) *06.12.1927 Glasgow +?
1994 Wells, Peter K
1995 Arkell, Keith; Emms, John; Howell, James;
1995 Muir, Andrew J (Scotland) (ICCF)
1996 McDonald, Neil; Ward, Christopher G; Baburin, Alexander (Ireland)
1996 Prizant, Michael (ICCF); Johnson, Maurice W (ICCF); Kilgour, David A (ICCF) (Scotland)
1997 Kumaran, Dharshan; Summerscale, Aaron P
1997 Hunt, Harriet V (IWGM); Ciuksyte, Dagne (then Lithuania, now England)
1997 Millican, Peter JR (ICCF)
1997 Mestel, A Jonathan (PCCC solving)
1999 Rowson, Jonathan (Scotland) (first appears as GM on IRL for Jan 2000, but earned GM norm by winning Scot. Ch. Jul. 1999)
2000 McShane, Luke; Parker, Jonathan
2000 Houska, Jovanka (WIGM)
2001 Brookes, John G (ICCF)
2002 Hall, Richard VM (ICCF); Brooks, Dr Ian S (ICCF)
2002 Lee, Graham (PCCC solving)
2003 Turner, Matthew J (seems to have snuck in as IGM on the Jan 2003 IRL without fanfare);
Pert, Nicholas (possibly 2004)
2004 Coleman, Peter (ICCF)
2004 Jones, Mary E (ICCF LGM)
2004 Nunn, John DM (PCCC solving)
2005 Gormally, Daniel W
2005 Barber, Jill (ICCF LGM)
2006 Shaw, John (Scotland)
2006 Pugh, John (ICCF)
2007 Howell, David WL; Jones, Gawain CB; Haslinger, Stewart; Aagard, Jacob (Scotland)
2008 Williams, Simon K

Need to find dates for the following (according to FIDE website):
ENG WGM: Jackson, Sheila
ENG: Kosten, Anthony - registered as France, when did he receive his IGM title and was he registered as English at the time?

Still not sure that the list is complete or entirely accurate. Know that some more of the players given have passed away; will supply biographical data later.

Would be nice to give biographies of these players, particularly of those no longer with us.

Paul McKeown
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:47 am


That Rowson was omitted convinces me further that the Iclicki book is unreliable, he also got Nick Pert's GM title wrong, as we have already seen. So this list needs some rigorous fact checking.

Btw. which person have I loaned The Seven Deadly Sins to? Will I ever have it back? I wanted to check the blurb for the year when Rowson was awarded the GM title, but I don't have it any more. I have the vague memory of someone asking me about it and then, on hearing that it was interesting, they borrowed it. Only I can't remember for certain who. I have my suspicions, but ... !


You bring up a very important point. When is the GM title official? When the norms have been earned (assuming it is by this route), when the rating requirement is satisfied, when the Qualifications Commission says yeah, when the name is read out at the General Assembly or when the certificate is printed and posted? I've never really thought about it, not generally being regarded as a likely candidate ( :wink: !), so I'm not sure.

Does anyone have some ideas?

Paul McKeown.
Last edited by Paul McKeown on Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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IM Jack Rudd
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by IM Jack Rudd » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:49 am

Thanks to everyone for their help compiling this list. It's much appreciated.

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Andy Burnett
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Andy Burnett » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:51 pm

The blurb on the back of 'Seven Deadly Chess Sins' reads, 'Jonathan Rowson became Scotland's third grandmaster in late 1999, within months of graduating from Oxford University.'

The title definitely doesn't kick in when the certificate is printed and posted, as John Shaw was presented with his at November's Glasgow Congress, some two-and-a-half years after gaining his title. (Unless the postal service was REALLY slow!)

My best guess is that the title offically kicks-in when the names are read out at the FIDE General Assembly!? All I have really found at the FIDE website is this:-
5.3b All title applications together with full details must be posted on the FIDE website for a minimum of 60 days prior to finalisation. This is in order for any objections to be lodged.

Peter Turner
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Re: British Grandmasters

Post by Peter Turner » Mon Jan 26, 2009 1:36 pm

I'd like to add another possibility to the 'title official when' debate. I believe it also depends on when/if the candidate or their federation pays the title fee to FIDE but I could be wrong!!

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