Archive for the ‘Quaint Chess History’ Category

The ideally lucid, hence ideally normal, man should have no recourse beyond the nothing that is in him.

Emile Cioran

In The Luton News dated:


An account of the Fleming Trophy appears. I am assuming it was written by Sweby rather than Diggle, given that the latter is referred to in the third person. You would assume that Diggle would also refrain from dropping the ‘h’  that his middle name begins with in written English and probably spoken English too for that matter. A strong Bedfordshire team won the day!


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Sweby adds details about Mardle’s award of a C.B.E. Assigning a home to William Ward is dubious. Himself aside, Mardle is the best chess player Luton has ever produced, and professionally, the most accomplished.

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My Bedfordshire playing partners, if you missed out on the months of work that culminated in Our Clash of Future Champions…well there it is again. In it I argued that William Ward (of London) as he was known, grew up in Bedfordshire and retained some connection, however slight, with his home town Luton and its, then, thriving chess scene throughout his career probably being the strongest player to have lived in and played for Luton still to this day.

He is the only player with a Bedfordshire connection that can be found in the EDO historical ratings website. Further details concerning his approximated strength and achievements can be found here:


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According to D. J. Richards in his noted text ‘Soviet Chess’ (1965), whose presented mode of history would not stand up in our post-modern world, there are two things we can jot down regarding Soviet chess history in the early 50s but don’t ask me which is more surprising: more than ‘100,000’ ‘from the countryside’ competing actively or that chess was not part of the national curriculum in schools (up to time of publication of course).


Page 89


page 90


Page 91


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I think we can all agree that at 81 years old Mr. Meises should have been proud of himself over his accomplishment. Note that amongst those who drew was the future Headmaster of Bedford Modern Junior School T. I. (Idris) Hussey.


Jacques Meises

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I could cycle from Bedfordshire top to bottom inside an hour with ease (and that’s with a break in between) before heading into Hertfordshire and beyond at my fittest.

In the forties, after the war there was little chess action until the Bedfordshire League resumed in 1945. Its a bloody good thing that upon its a resumption, the teams in the Beds. league were from Bedfordshire. Bletchley, who in 1975 would become Milton Keynes, were thankfully decades away from thrashing joining us still. I’ve just seen the team they fielded against poor old Oxford University, As you may know during WW2 the codebreakers working for the government were employed there, several being former British champions. The official line was that Britain’s greatest mathematicians were in great need to save our nation against the supposed ‘terrible threat of the nazis’.

Unofficially, the chess playing collective sat around all day playing blitz and smoking cigars, then at the day’s end they would take a quick glance at a few Japanese ciphers before wandering off to the nearest drinking establishment where they would consume too many pints of ale and punch a policeman on their way home, as was customary in those days (and today too come to think of it).

A dumbed-down British attempt to document Bletchley Park came out recently called ‘The Imitation Game’…I couldn’t watch it all so can’t comment but I did notice it exuded a level of flatness and mediocrity that British films typically suffer from, and the exemplification of the code-breaker machines was laughable to say the least.

The Bletchley team on the 2nd of December 1945.

1. C.H.O’D Alexander 2. H. Golombek 3. Dr J.M. Aitken 4. Dr I.J. Good 5. N.A. Perkins 6. Sgt. Jacobs (US Army) 7. Sgt. Gilbert 8. M.A. Chamberlain 9. P.J. Hilton 10. W.R. Cox 11. D. Rees 12. Lt. A. Levinson (US Army)

I suspect it would have reemed whitewashed every Bedfordshire team of its day and kindly asked to find alternative arrangements.

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The American Rex Sinquefield, courtesy of his untold riches, has made St. Louis, Missouri the chess capital of the USA world according to the BBC How long that will last we don’t know (probably not long) nevertheless for the time being he is certainly making things happen.

We all enjoyed the Kasparov Blitz Challenge and whilst on youtube I noticed that a channel dedicated to the efforts of our American friends has appeared with some lovely content. All-round nice guy GM Yasser Seirawan, who as well as being a great player is also a great commentator, lectures for us. His history is solid enough in its employed role and the chess, as you would expect, is there to be enjoyed. I took great pleasure in watching the following, having just read Botvinnik’s ‘Achieving the Aim’. If you want to see how much chess has changed at the very top level since the 50s, this makes for good viewing.

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