Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

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Brian Towers
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Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Brian Towers » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:55 am

Browsing the FIDE ratings download xml file I came across one and only one FIDE titled "Woman Honorary Grand Master". That was the Dutch woman, Corry Vreeken, FIDE ID: 1001710.

Has anybody previously come across the FIDE Title: "Woman Honorary Grand Master" and its abbreviation "WH"?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:59 am

Brian Towers wrote:Has anybody previously come across the FIDE Title: "Woman Honorary Grand Master" and its abbreviation "WH"?
The author(s) of the Dutch wiki entry presumably.

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corry_Vreeken

NickFaulks
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by NickFaulks » Mon Feb 08, 2016 7:51 am

This is just the female equivalent of Honorary Grand Master, of whom there have been many. However, I am puzzled that Jonathan Penrose, whom I believe to be the only survivor from the male group, is listed simply as "GM".

Roger de Coverly
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Roger de Coverly » Mon Feb 08, 2016 8:56 am

NickFaulks wrote: However, I am puzzled that Jonathan Penrose, whom I believe to be the only survivor from the male group, is listed simply as "GM".
The BCF were able to argue that he should be awarded the genuine title for various performances in the 1960s.

NickFaulks
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by NickFaulks » Mon Feb 08, 2016 10:35 am

Roger de Coverly wrote: The BCF were able to argue that he should be awarded the genuine title for various performances in the 1960s.
Thanks, I didn't know that. It looks like an honorary title, and that's what Wikipedia thinks it was, but strange things happened twenty years ago.

Brian Towers
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Brian Towers » Mon Feb 08, 2016 11:11 am

Wikipedia isn't always reliable. Rudolph Teschner's entry has him being awarded "the complimentary Grandmaster title in 1992, the first in history" while the "honorary grandmasters" page has awards going back to 1977.

Looking through older FIDE ratings download files it would appear that the abbreviation in these files for "honourary grandmaster" is "h" (Rudolph Teschner in the 2010 file even though Wikipedia has him passing away in 2006). There are no living honourary grandmasters and there has only ever been one woman honourary grandmaster it would seem. Surely Vera Menchik and perhaps Sonja Graf would have merited the title? Or did they die too long ago for consideration?

Going back to Corry Vreeken, what made her so much more worthy of elevation?
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Leonard Barden
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Leonard Barden » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:01 pm

NickFaulks wrote: It looks like an honorary title, and that's what Wikipedia thinks it was, but strange things happened twenty years ago.
Penrose became a GM and not the inferior honorary version. How it happened is through another of Bob Wade's services to English chess.

In the late 1970s when Jonathan had virtually finished his over the board career I thought my friend and contemporary was worthy of the GM title. This was round about the time when, for a year or two, I was BCF international grader, so i had some status in putting his name forward. I thought that Penrose's performances in the 1961 Enschede zonal and in the 1968 Lugano Olympiad were of norm level and would satisfy the then regulations. Harry Golombek was FIDE delegate, so I put the matter to him. At that time Fide were going back and awarding some titles based on events from 10-25 years previously.

Thinking that Jonathan's case was slightly marginal, I thought it would improve his chances if a second English player was put up for the title. My crafty plan was to appeal to HG's ego by suggesting that he also put up himself on the basis of his result at Venice 1950 (probably close to a GM norm, and Prins who was half a point in front of HG in Venice did get the title using that as one of his norms), the 1951 Bad Pyrmont zonal, and one or two other events which I now forget.

Alas, the members of the qualification committee were in a mean title-giving mood at that time, were offended by England's presumptuous act of putting up two candidates, and turned both applications down, adding cynically that Penrose (by then in his mid-forties and with the fainting episode at Siegen 1970 and his poor result at Nice 1974 in his history) should try to earn it by future achievements.

There the matter rested for some 15 years. For part of that time Ray Keene was Fide delegate and, knowing he didn't rate Jonathan highly, I felt it was pointless to put his name forward again.

In 1992 or 1993 I visited Bob on another matter and found out in the course of conversation that he was then on the Fide qualifications committee. I suggested he put forward Penrose again. Bob agreed at once, and was emphatic that he would only go for the proper title and not for the HGM version which he regarded as inferior and not for players of true GM strength.

I mentioned Enschede and Lugano and Bob immediately went to his tournament collection and picked out the tournament bulletins for both events. We made out the application between us there and then, and Bob took it to the next qualifications committee meeting.

As he told me later, almost all of these eminent people, chosen presumably for their supposed expertise, hadn't heard of Penrose, knew little or nothing of his achievements, or were unsure whether Enschede and Lugano were sufficient. So they turned to Lothar Schmid, who was present and who they regarded as a fount of knowledge and asked "Lothar, what's your opinion?" As a direct contemporary who knew of Jonathan's achievements, a friend of English chess and of Bob, Lothar gave the application lavish praise and it was granted......

I see that Wikipedia and other sources call Penrose HGM or GM emeritus, but they are wrong.

The above is taken from a 2009 Forum thread http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... ster#p7796

NickFaulks
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by NickFaulks » Mon Feb 08, 2016 12:21 pm

Brian Towers wrote: Going back to Corry Vreeken, what made her so much more worthy of elevation?
Probably the Dutch have a story similar to Leonard's above.

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Feb 08, 2016 1:04 pm

Menchik died in WW2, before *any* formal FIDE titles existed. The WGM title was only inaugurated in 1977, Graf passed away in the 60s.

As was mentioned here recently, it is a surprise Sultan Khan was never given a "retrospective" GM title before his death in 1966.
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John Clarke
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by John Clarke » Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:11 pm

Leonard Barden wrote:My crafty plan was to appeal to HG's ego by suggesting that he also put up himself on the basis of his result at Venice 1950 (probably close to a GM norm, and Prins who was half a point in front of HG in Venice did get the title using that as one of his norms), the 1951 Bad Pyrmont zonal, and one or two other events which I now forget.
I think that should be Venice 1949, where HG did indeed have an excellent result (4th= with 9.5/15, level with Gligoric and Barcza). Alas he did far worse the following year, finishing 11th with 6/15.
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Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:49 am

As so often, Leonard provides the answer! How about an "Ask Leonard" forum - we would all learn an enormous amount!!

OK, I am sure he's too busy.

Hans Renette
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Hans Renette » Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:32 pm

I found a short biography here: http://www.stichtingcorryvreeken.nl/biografie.
It says that she is the only one carrying the Honorary Woman Grandmaster title. I translated a few sentences (roughly) that tell us a bit more about her relevance for chess:

"She is justly a phenomenon in the international chess world. During the time of the iron curtain she broke through all boundaries and entertained precious contacts with her Eastern-European friends in all openness. We are talking about such celebrities as Korchnoi, Lilienthal, Spassky, etc. They all experienced a warm welcome at her home. She travelled regularly to Moscow and smuggled in her suitcases books for dissident Russians, who were very pleased with them. She entertained contacts with the whole national and international chess world."

I searched for "Honorary Woman Grandmaster" in the Delpher database (Dutch newspaper articles), but found nothing at all.

Hans

Brian Towers
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Brian Towers » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:13 pm

Thank you, Hans. It sounds like a fascinating story worthy of much greater publicity than it has received. Particularly sad that she has received so little recognition in her own country which is normally well up the rankings in being chess crazy.
Ah, but I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now.

Mick Alderson
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Mick Alderson » Sat Feb 13, 2016 11:14 pm

Corry was an ICC regular for years, but she doesn't seem to have logged in since September 2013. She was delightful to chat to. I hope she's still around.

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Who was / is WH Corry Vreeken?

Post by Stewart Reuben » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:37 am

The 1985 British Championships in Edinburgh had the Open British Women's Chess Championship. It was one of my efforts to revive a flagging event. It meant that it was possible to get a woman's title norm in the 11 round event.
Corrie Vreeken played.

Until relatively recently, titles were awarded on a who you knew basis rather than an absolute system. Leonard's explanation of Jonathan's GM title is a perfectly example. Here is another.
Pravin Thipsay IND had two GM norms. The numberrequired was three. I proposed him for the GM title. The chairman of the QC came and asked me why. I said, 'It would be good for Asian chess'. At that time, it was very difficult to arrange a norm tournament in Asia, due to the lack of title-holders. The chairman said, 'Oh, now I understand.' Pravin got the title (don't know whether he ever knew my part in that). He was awarded free travel on Indian Railways for the rest of his life.

One reason for the Honorary titles was that players in the USSR had few opportunities to travel and gained title norms. There existed a quite large pool of untitled players who had been strong enough.

Indian chess administration was nowhere in the 1960s. Presumably nobody thought of giving Sultan Kan the title.

The first titles were awarded by FIDE in 1950. It was a committee process then. Norms had not been invented. Barry Wood told me he was at first meeting when IM titles were dished out. The Spanish delegate said, 'Our good friend BH Wood should be awarded the IM title'. Barry intevened and said, I'm not good enough'. Had he not done so, it is vey likely he would have been awarded the title.

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