Closed and open top tournament series in Great Britain


Gibraltar, Tradewise Festival, Open

Hastings Chess Congress, played as an Open today Special feature

Isle of Man, Open Full history

London Chess Classic

Worth of mention:

Bunratty Chess Congress, Ireland since 1994: Bunratty Chess Festival is run in different sections, from Grandmasters in the Masters sections to Challenger, Major, and beginners in the Minor, so (yes, Wesley won the main Open in 2015) there is a welcome to players of all abilities & ambitions

Guernsey Open, since 1975: Guernsey is situated in the English channel off the coast of Normandy. Alongisde the main open tournament, a holiday open tournament for amateur players is held, too
(click History / Statistics button for an overall survey)


London, Lloyds Bank, Open

London, Phillips & Drew Kings, then GLC Chess Challenge

London, Staunton Memorial Extras

London, Watson, Farley, Williams Tournament

London, world-class officials and singulars

Margate Chess Congress All important information at a glance

Teesside, diverse tournaments in a row

Worth of mention:

Bognor Regis et al., Agnes Stevenson Memorial, Open, annually played in the 1950s and 1960s, the winners include amongst others Rossolimo (winner of the inaugural edition in 1949 played in Southsea), Tartakower, Bisguier, Gligoric, Ivkov, Karaklajic, Gereben, Darga, Yanofsky, Golombek, Barden, and of course, O'Kelly de Galway.

Belgian globetrotter O’Kelly de Galway is the record winner at the Open Festival of Bognor Regis, in West Sussex on the south coast of England: he triumphed in 1954 together with Barden, 1956, 1960 together with Darga, 1961 and 1965.

Modern Technology: Typewriting instead of Handwriting. The tournament table from the Agnes Stevenson Memorial, Open, in 1950, the year FIDE first awarded GM and IM titles (copy from Lund Chess Academy)

Gibraltar is proud to have issued stamps during the five different reigns since Queen Victoria 1886-1901 celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. These are King Edward VII 1901-1910; King George V 1910-1936; King George VI 1936-1952 and of course Queen Elizabeth II 1953-present

Today Gibraltar continues to adopt a conservative stamp issuing policy thus maintaining its high reputation amongst the philatelic fraternity. Gibraltar stamps are highly collected worldwide

Gibraltar Masters

Hikaru Nakamura, the record four-time winner of Gibraltar Festival, smiling with Tradewise Chairman James Humphreys. Photo: Official Website 2015

First winners in 2003: Vasilios Kotronias, from Greece, then playing for Cyprus (first on tie-break), and Nigel Short who also won in 2004 and 2012 (plus finishing shared first in 2013, but unsuccessful in the play-offs).

Record and recent winner is Hikaru Nakamura, winning in 2008 and then three straight Gibraltar titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017. 

Further winners are Kiril Georgiev (twice), Alexei Shirov, Peter Svidler, Nikita Vitiugov, Vassily Ivanchuk, Zahar Efimenko, Emil Sutovsky, Vladimir AkopianLevon Aronian, Ivan Cheparinov, and Michael Adams.

Since the edition in 2008, tie-breaks in speed chess are played to determine the eventual winner (the drawing of lots has been used to decide a single semi-final in 2014).

In 2017, the 15th Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival announced one of the strongest Open ever held: Fabiano Caruana (current Elo no. 2 of the world), Maxime Vachier-Lagrave (no. 5), Hikaru Nakamura (no. 7), Vassily Ivanchuk, Veselin Topalov, Peter Svidler, Boris Gelfand, Michael Adams, Nigel Short and Hou Yifan are playing in the Masters section. A fantastic line-up!

The festival maintains its familiar format, with five main events, as well as a variety of evening activities. Players of all standards and from an estimated 50+ countries competing for a total prize fund of £190,000. 


You can follow the tournament live on

Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival in 2017 (Monday 23 January - Thursday, 2 February) marked the 15th anniversary.

Chessdiagonals congratulates: Happy birthday and many more to come! Lächeln

Top Junior of the World vs. Top Senior of the World in Gibraltar 2011: Age difference between Korchnoi (80) and Caruana (18) is sixty-one and a half years, the same delta as it would be between Max Schmeling and Mike Tyson. Photo: Gibraltar Website 2011

Hastings International Chess Congress (HICC)

Olafsson and Korchnoi. Illustrated London News, 14 January 1956, page 63. Chess Notes by Edward Winter (CN 9020), submitted by Olimpiu G. Urcan. Also reprinted on

<Hastings 1955/56> was won by Korchnoi (best tie-break) and Olafsson, both on 7/2 undefeated as joint winners, ahead of third Ivkov, fourth Taimanov, and Darga on fifth place.

The 31st Hastings Christmas Chess Congress was held at the end of the year 1955 and beginning of the year 1956. Ten grandmasters and masters were invited to participant in a round robin format of the premier event (in the Heydays of Hastings always a closed invitation tournament), including Viktor Korchnoi and Mark Taimanov from the Soviet Union, West German champion Klaus Darga, Spanish champion Jesus Diez del Corral, Yugoslavian / Serbian Borislav Ivkov, the first ever World Junior Chess Champion, Icelandic master Fridrik Olafsson, English-Israeli-Swiss master Raphael (Raaphi) Persitz, British correspondence champion John Fuller, and previous Hastings winners Harry Golombek and Jonathan Penrose. Twenty-one years young Olafsson gained international recognition by tying Korchnoi for first place in the Hastings Premier (sources: Chessgames and Wikipedia).

For that tournament win, IM Korchnoi was awarded the GM title, Olafsson got the IM title, and his GM title automatically after the Interzonal in Portorož 1958, being qualified as a Candidate.

Borislav Ivkov and Mark Taimanov have already been Grandmasters. Klaus Darga got the GM title later in 1964.

Jonathan Penrose who won the British Chess Championship ten times between 1958 and 1969 is an English chess grandmaster (Honorary) and International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster.

Viktor Korchnoi was the 50th player (and the 17th from the Soviet Union) to be inducted as a Grandmaster by FIDE (at its inauguration in 1950, there were 27 Grandmasters installed, among them also some older inactive players based on previous successes).

There were no ELO metrics / norms in the 1950s and 1960s, the title was primarily granted on winning an international tournament of major importance or the qualification as a Candidate or other outstanding achievements such as an individual Gold medal at the Team Chess Olympiads.

In the year <1956>, three players (all International Master, a requirement) got the FIDE GM title, in chronological order:

<Viktor Korchnoi> from the Soviet Union, for winning the traditional Hastings Winter Congress 1955/56, with crosstable (plus further notable tournament wins and annotated games of Fridrik Olafsson),

<Albéric O'Kelly de Galway> from Belgium after winning the (6th) Ostend in June 1956,, maybe also in recognition of earlier international tournament results, and great

<Bent Larsen> from Denmark after the Chess Olympiad in Moscow in August / September 1956, - Larsen won the individual Gold medal on board one, ahead of then reigning World Champion Botwinnik; Denmark finished 10th in the Finals, the USSR naturally won team Gold. 

Special feature of Hastings Chess Congresses: Hastings *1920/21 - 

Isle of Man (IoM) Open is back on the international chess map! Top tens Fab, Naka & So playing 2016

Port Erin (first 16 editions), Douglas (today)

Isle of Man Open has been played under three different labels:

Monarch Assurance IoM in Port Erin (1993 - 2007)
PokerStars IoM in Douglas (2014 - 2015) IoM in Douglas (since 2016)

London Chess Classic (LCC)

Korchnoi commentating London Chess Classic in December 2011 (Photo: Website Organiser)

Invitation Supertournament:
London Chess Classic (1st 2009, 9th 2017) (Website London) (Website Grand Chess Tour)
London Chess Classic (Wikipedia)

The London Chess Classic (LCC) is a festival held at the Olympia Exhibition CentreWest Kensington, London, England. The flagship is a strong invitational tournament between the world's top grandmasters. Current World Champion Magnus Carlsen from Norway won a record four times! Subsidiary events  cover a wide range of chess activities, including also junior, and amateur competitions, various simultaneous exhibitions, coaching, and lectures. Guest of honour include Garry Kasparov, Viktor Korchnoi, Jon Speelman and John Nunn. The LCC tournament is also part of the Grand Chess Tour, launched in 2015.

Viktor and Petra Korchnoi were guest of honour at the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd edition of the London Chess Classic. GM Korchnoi always also acting as a simul giver and splendid commentator.

Viktor Korchnoi during his book signing with Malcolm Pein, Director of the London Chess Classic tournament at LCC 2009 (Photo: Website Organiser)

Magnus Carlsen, record winner at the London Chess Classic, is congratulated by Garry Kasparov here in 2010 (Photo: Website Organiser, Ray Morris-Hill)

London, Lloyds Bank (LB), Open

The Lloyds Bank Masters was a strong Open (swiss system) tournament series sponsored by Lloyds Bank, United Kingdom, organised during each summer in London from 1977 to 1994.

The winners: 1977 (inaugural edition) Miguel Quinteros, 1978 John Peters, 1979 Murray Chandler, 1980 Florin Gheorghiu, 1981 Raymond Keene, 1982 Anthony Miles, 1983 Yuri Razuvaev, 1984 John Nunn, 1985 Alexander Beliavsky, 1986 Simen Agdestein, 1987 Michael Wilder, 1988, Garry Lane, 1989 Zurab Azmaiparashvili, 1990 Zurab Sturua, 1991 Alexey Shirov, 1992 Jonathan Speelman (first on tie-break above GM Timoshchenko), 1993 Jonathan Speelman (clear first ahead of 2./3. Miles, Nunn), 1994 (last edition) young Alexander Morozevich (clear first at amazing 9.5/10!).

Note: Sometimes shared winners! This list always and only indicates the first on tie-break rule.

London, Phillips & Drew Kings, then GLC

Glenn Flear in recent years (Photo: Club d'échecs d'Avinkha à Vaulx-en-Velin)

Phillips & Drew Kings (Wikipedia), biannually played in 1980, 1982, 1984, and 1986.

A series of chess tournaments, sonsored by the stockbroker firm Phillips & Drew and the Greater London Council. These were among the strongest chess tournaments ever played in London, United Kingdom.

They were 14-player all-play-all tournaments over 13 rounds. The venue of the three Phillips & Drew Kings tournaments in 1980, 1982, and 1984 was County Hall, the meeting place of the GLC. The last tournament of the series was held at a different venue with changes in sponsorship, but still with the same format.

This fourth tournament in 1986, not involving Phillips and Drew, was called the GLC Chess Challenge, played now in the Great Eastern Hotel. It was the final event in the series, as the GLC itself had been abolished that same year.

Viktor Korchnoi won the inaugural tournament in 1980, together with Tony Miles, and Ulf Andersson. The second and third edition were captured by Anatoly Karpov, together with Ulf Andersson in 1982, and outright in 1984.

The final event in the series in 1986 caused one of the biggest upsets in the history of chess:

Glenn Flear, an International Master from Leicester, won as clear first in a field including former World Champion Boris Spassky, Lajos Portisch, Rafael Vaganian, John Nunn and Nigel Short.

Flear was a last-minute replacement for Karpov and was not expected to score well in such a high class field (Flear and Dlugy were the only IMs in attendance).

The participants (in rating order): Rafael Vaganian, Lajos Portisch, Boris Spassky, Nigel Short, Zoltán Ribli, John NunnLev Polugaevsky, Bent Larsen, Jon Speelman, Maxim Dlugy, Murray Chandler, Jonathan Mestel, Glenn Flear, and James Plaskett (Kasparov, Karpov, Korchnoi, Timman, Hübner, Miles, Seirawan, Ljubojevic, Beliavsky, Tal, Yusupov, and A. Sokolov, then all ranked in the Elo Top-15 (1986/I) of the world, were absent).

Final standings: Flear 8.5/13, Chandler, Short 8, Nunn, Ribli 7.5, Polugaevsky, Portisch, Spassky 7, Vaganian, Speelman 6, Larsen 5.5, Plaskett 5, Mestel, Dlugy 4 (14 players).

Unaware he would be competing, Glenn Flear was due to get married on the day of the ninth round. The organisers arranged for his game to start early. Seems like yesterday Lächeln.

Married to the multiple French Women’s Champion, Christine Leroy (now Flear), he decided to move to Montpellier in France.

London, Staunton Memorial

Record thrice (co-)winner Jon Speelman who has a highly original chess style; and he likes puzzles, especially cryptic crosswords and killer sudokus (Photo: ChessBase)

Howard Staunton Memorial Tournament (Wikipedia), an invitational tournament played from 2003 to 2009.

The first three editions of the Staunton Memorial series had been played as a double round-robin of four, then six players in the third event. The fourth to sixth edition saw an expansion to twelve participants, contesting a single round robin.

The 2008 Staunton Memorial (Michael Adams won) was the strongest invitation tournament to be held in London since 1986!

In 2009, the event went bigger and was split into two main attractions:

> a double round "Scheveningen" format team match England versus The Netherlands (England won 26.5 - 23.5, with Nigel Short as individual best), and

> a single round "all-play-all" (ten players) won outright by Jan Timman, veteran Viktor Korchnoi who beat Timman in their game, finished as clear third.

Viktor Korchnoi's last closed international tournament in classical chess

Korchnoi (78) versus Timman (58) in round 7 at the 7th Howard Staunton Memorial in London 2009 (Photo: Website Organiser)

This final Staunton Memorial in London 2009, also turned out to be the last international invitation tournament in classical chess of GM Viktor Korchnoi, then reigning Swiss Champion (national), and two years later in 2011 once again Champion of Switzerland at age of eighty years now, taking the Botvinnik Memorial (rapid) in Suzdal 2011 unbeaten, playing courageously at the strong Gibraltar Master (open), winning further individual and team events (matches), but sadly, there was no invitation for Viktor Lvovich in an international closed classical chess tournament. 

In another truly fitting moment, the last game to finish in the entire event, involved, who else but Viktor Korchnoi. Mighty Vic ground out a long endgame win with black against Peter Wells, to complete a 3/3 finish and secure sole third prize at the Staunton Memorial in 2009. 

Viktor played a total of 549 moves in his nine games, for an average of 61 per game!
(Reported by Steve Giddins)

Howard Staunton Memorial 2009

(Howard Staunton Memorial 2009 sponsored by Jan Mol and Terry Chapman, and organised by Raymond Keene OBE, Eric Schiller, Barry Martin and Clive and Sue Davey of the Staunton society) (Website) (Website) (Chessgames) (Korchnoi vs. Williams 1-0) (Timman vs. Korchnoi 0-1) (TWIC)
(all from ChessBase, 2009)

Previous stand-alone Staunton Memorial and Congress

Plus famous stand-alone Staunton Memorial tournaments: Groningen 1946 (Mikhail Botvinnik won half a point ahead of Euwe, followed by Smyslov), and the Staunton Centenary Chess Congress, held in Cheltenham - Leamington Spa - Birmingham 1951 (Svetozar Gligorić won).

The tournament in 1951 (Cheltenham - Leamington Spa – Birmingham), labelled as Howard Staunton Centenary Chess Congress, commemorated the one hundred years that had passed since the first international chess tournament, played in a knock-out format at London (1851), a landmark in Staunton's life (he was the architect and principal organizer of the event which made England the leading chess centre and caused its winner Adolf Anderssen to be recognised as the world's strongest player, Staunton lost to him in the semi-finals).

Svetozar Gligoric won in 1951 ahead of joint Petar Trifunovic, Gideon Stahlberg, and Vasja Pirc, followed by joint 5.-8. Conel Hugh Alexander, Aleksandar Matanovic, Nicolas Rossolimo, and Wolfgang Unzicker, 9.-10. Jan Hein Donner, and Ernst Ludwig Klein, the British champion of 1951, 11. Efim Bogoljubow, 12. Harry Golombek, =13th Savielly Tartakower, 16 players.

In the year 1996, there was a Mini Staunton Memorial event, in Groningen again, but consisting of only three rounds with the veteran players who already played in 1946, still alive fifty years later (Vasily Smyslov) won.

Howard Staunton

Staunton. Image Courtesy of the John G. White Chess Collection at the Cleveland Public Library

STAUNTON SOCIETY - formed in 1993, the society, secretary is Barry Martin, exists to promote awareness of Howard Staunton and to argue the case that he should be recognized as a full world champion. In Staunton’s day the title was not officially recognised, but Staunton had established himself as the strongest player of his day during the 1840s.

Staunton was a towering figure, a polymath who edited an entire edition of Shakespeare’s plays, commenced a history of the public school system in Britain, wrote numerous books on chess, organised the first international chess tournament played at London in 1851.

He lent his name to the Staunton patent pieces which are now the standard in international play. 

Howard Staunton was an archetypal symbol of the heights of Victorian imperial grandeur and optimism.

Howard Staunton: (Biography by Bill Wall) (Biography by Batgirl /Edochess) (Chessgames) (Wikipedia) 

Howard Staunton Memorial Tournament (Wikipedia) 

London 1851 chess tournament (Wikipedia)

London, Watson, Farley & Williams (WFW)

WFW 1989 – 1991 (with two editions in 1990)

A bunch of Brits and Americans plus some overseas guests.

Bent Larsen won three of the five invitation tournaments, one at New York in 1990 as a side event of the Kasparov - Karpov WCC match.

London, world-class officials and singulars (selection)

England's metropolis has had a vigorous chess life for some 200 years, but being a desert for international chess events from 1950s to the mid-1970s.

The royal game was popularly played in coffee houses, for example the match between François-André Danican Philidor, a French composer and chess player and Philipp Stamma, a native of Aleppo, Ottoman Syria, later resident of England and France, took place in 1747 at Slaughter's coffee house in St. Martin's Lane. There was also Purssell's in Cornhill, Salopian's in Charing Cross, Parsloe's (from 1774) in St. James's and from 1828, the famous Simpson's in the Strand (it was first called Ries').

The very first chess tournament at London was held in 1849 at Ries' Divan (or Simpson's), often called the 'The Divan Tournament'. It was played in a knock-out format, English historian and strong amateur player Henry Buckle won.

> London hosted the first international chess tournament, with 16 players, on a knock-out basis:

London 1851, organised by Howard Staunton, who also participated in the event, is considered to be the first <international> tournament of modern chess history. 

Played as a series of knockout matches, the first player to win two games in the first round or four games in each later round being declared the winner. Adolf Anderssen of Germany won the final.

Therefore the tournament was organised as single elimination matches, with the eight losers in the first round being dropped from the tournament. Each first-round match was a best-of-three games, draws not counting. Subsequent rounds were best-of-seven, and losers played consolation matches.

The pairings were made by chance, i.e. there was no seeding system of the type commonly used in tennis tournaments. Three of the stronger players, Kieseritsky, Bird, and Löwenthal all lost in the first round. On the other hand, two of the replacement players, J. R. Mucklow and E. S. Kennedy, were drawn against each other; hence the winner (Mucklow) gained a share of the prize money.

Anderssen beat Staunton soundly, 4 to 1, in the third-round semi-final. In the fourth-round final Anderssen beat Wyvill to take first place. Wyvill had had a relatively easy draw in the tournament to finish second. Staunton suffered a bitter defeat to Williams in the last round consolation match to finish a disappointing fourth.

Background: In May 1851, London staged the Great Exhibition to showcase British industry and technology, and London's thriving chess community felt obliged to do something similar for chess.

Howard Staunton proposed and then took the lead in organizing the first ever international tournament, to be held at the same time. He thought the Great Exhibition presented a unique opportunity because the difficulties that obstructed international participation would be greatly reduced, for example it would be easier for contestants to obtain passports and leave from work.

Debriefing: The lack of time limits on play was criticised. After some experimentation, time controls would become standard in all serious tournaments some years later. The knockout format was seen as a kind of hybrid between match and tournament play, and eliminated by adopting the round-robin format beginning with the London 1862 tournament

> During the second British world exhibition (Great London Exposition) in 1862, London hosted the first international round robin, all-play-all tournament. It was also the first to have a time limit – 20 moves in 2 hours. Draws did not count and drawn games were replayed until a definitive result was arrived. Adolf Anderssen of Germany won again, as pointed out, all-play-all and time controls were novelties for a big chess tournament. Btw.: This was the first international tournament organized by the British Chess Association (BCF Congress).

> Wilhelm Steinitz won at London the British Chess Association Grand Tourney in 1872, the second British Chess Federation international chess tournament, held in a eight player, single-round robin (all-play-all), with draws not counting and replayed!

> The great London tournament in 1883 lasted two months, 256 games were played; draws had to be repeated up to a third draw was finally accepted. The event was played in a double round-robin.

It is also notable for the first use of the double-sided chess clock, designed by Thomas Wilson, Manchester. Time limit was now 15 moves per hour.

The tournament was won convincingly by Johannes Zuckertort (22 points out of 26) ahead of Wilhelm Steinitz  (with 19 points). Remarkably, Zukertort was already assured of victory with three rounds to go, having scored an astonishing 22/23. He then lost his last three games against relatively weak players, probably due to exhaustion.

The tournament established Johannes Zukertort as rivalling Wilhelm Steinitz to claim to be the best chess player in the world, and led to the World Chess Championship 1886 match between the two = the first official World Chess Championship.

In 1884, a new Congress series was launched by the British Chess Association (BCA), later British Chess Federation (BCF), today English Chess Federation (ECF):

> 1885 London (1st Congress): Gunsberg

> 1886 London (2nd Congress): Blackburne and Burn
A play-off (!) was organised, and won by Blackburne

> 1887 London (3rd Congress): Burn and Gunsberg
Note: The 4th Congress has been played at Bradford in 1888 (Gunsberg won)

> 1889 London (5th Congress): Bird
Note:  The 6th Congress has been played at Manchester in 1890 (Tarrasch won)

> 1892 London (7th Congress): Lasker
Note: The famous 8th Congress has been played then at Hastings in 1895 (Pillsbury won)

Harry Pillsbury, a young American player unknown in Europe, was the surprise winner with 16½ out of 21 points – ahead of Mikhail Chigorin (16) and reigning World Champion Emanuel Lasker (15½). Following the success of the event, the Hastings chess tournament would become later an annual feature, and is still ongoing:

Hastings *1920/21 -

> The London 1899 tournament (9th Congress) was without a doubt one of the very strongest tournaments ever held on British soil. Almost every great master of the day was present including the past and reigning world champions. It proved to be the swan song of the old champion Wilhelm Steinitz but for Emanuel Lasker it was a glittering success which propelled him way beyond the other grandmasters of the time.

Of the eighteen invited, all top players of the age, with many being the champion of their country, Tarrasch declined his invitation, citing his medical practice as the higher priority. Charousek wished to attend but an illness at the time (which later proved fatal) prevented him. Amos Burn, who had agreed to come, left the first day when called away on business. The players gathered in St. Stephen's Hall, found near the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Aquarium, where their play was dwarfed each day by the towering statues of historic statesmen. A time limit of fifteen moves in one hour was in effect.

The fifteen participants played double rounds, except for Richard Teichmann who unfortunately had to withdraw after round four due to an eye infection,  His residual games in the first cycle were declared as lost. He returned to play and won soon afterwards the City of London tournament in 1900.Throughout his chess career, Teichmann was handicapped by chronic eye trouble.

Emanuel Lasker finished unbelievable 4.5 points ahead of the group that finished tied for second (Janowski, Maroczy, Pillsbury), and this remains one of the most dominant performances ever in a chess tournament! London 1899 turned out to be an unfortunate landmark for Wilhelm Steinitz, who finished a tournament for the first time in his life without a prize (normally for the first five players). It was also to be his last for he died in poverty a year later.

There was a second section in that tournament (later often called "B-group"), which was won by Frank Marshall with 8.5 out of 11.

> London (15th BCF Congress) 1922: José Raúl Capablanca
The Cuban prodigy was the superstar of chess in 1922 and London was his first serious chess in the 15 months since he had won the championship title from Emanuel Lasker. Capablanca was the chessplayer whom even non-players could identify. But the tournament signified not only Capa's return to the game, it was also something of a revival of international chess after four years of war and four more of recovery. The new world champion would ease into first place undefeated ahead of future challenger Alexander Alekhine. The young Dutchman Max Euwe was honing his skills that would eventually take him to the top of the chess world. And Richard Réti was about to unveil his Opening of the Future 1.Nf3!

London 1922 is important for all these reasons, but it also served as the setting for the creation of the famous << London Rules >> which would govern the way in which prospective challengers to the title would have the right to play the champion.

Photographs of the participants of the London international Chess Congress:

> London (British Chess Empire Club Masters) 1927: Aaron Nimzowitsch and Savielly Tartakower

> In 1932, the London Sunday Referee  tournament was held. It was won by Alexander Alekhine, scoring 9 out of 11 (+7=4), followed by Flohr with 8, then Kashdan and Sultan Khan with 7.5.

The Sunday Referee  was a Sunday newspaper in the United Kingdom until it merged with the Sunday Chronicle. In the 1930s, considerable money was invested in an attempt to compete with the leading Sunday newspapers, and circulation reached 400,000, but in 1939 it was merged with the Sunday Chronicle.

> In 1946, the London Sunday Chronicle  tournament was held (also called Victory tournament). Very unusual: The players were divided into two supposedly equally strong groups!! Section I (A) was won by Herman Steiner, ahead of Bernstein, followed by Tartakower; Section II (B) by Max Euwe, ahead of Christoffel, followed by Denker.

The participation of 14-year-young Arturo Pomar (born in 1931, died in 2016) attracted public attention, especially when he was pitted against older players. Pomar scored 5.5/11 in his section, and he beat Jacques Mieses (born in 1865, died in 1954) in a subsidiary Mini-Match, also held at London, with 1½–½. The following picture, which is from London 1946  but not this tournament, shows him playing against Ossip Bernstein (born in 1882, died in 1962):

After the famous Sunday Chronicle Victory Tournament in 1946, London was mostly a desert for international chess tournaments up to the mid-1970s!

> London 1973: Jan Timman (ten players, incl. Reshevsky, Hecht, O'Kelly as well as the British youngsters Keene, Stean, Webb). 36 years later, Jan Timman won again a round robin tournament (Staunton Memorial) at London. 

> Lord John Cup in London 1977: Vlastimil Hort (ten players, incl. Kotov, Torre, Quinteros)


> London, Lloyds Bank, Open 1977-1994

> London, Phillips & Drew Kings, then GLC Chess Challenge 1980-1986 biannually played

> London, Staunton Memorial 2003-2009

> London Chess Classic, since 2009

Nomenklatura: The English Chess Federation (ECF) is the governing chess organisation in England and is affiliated to FIDE. The ECF was formed in 2004 and was effectively a re-constitution of the extant governing body, the British Chess Federation (BCF), an organisation founded in 1904. The BCF had been set up to replace the non-functioning British Chess Association (BCA) and initially, not only governed chess in England, but also included Wales and Northern Ireland in its region of activities.

Nowadays however, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Channel Islands are all governed by their own chess federations and English chess administrators agreed in 2004 that it would be appropriate to replace the BCF with the ECF, the change to be effective from the start of the 2005/06 season. (Source: Wikipedia)

Record British (English) National Champion: Jonathan Penrose (10x), above Henry Atkins (9x)

Team events:

> First official Chess Olympiad in London 1927

> Second Match “USSR vs. Rest of the World” in London 1984

> Friendly match (amongst others):
1976, 24th of January, in London (rapid): Young England vs. Soviet Union 5½-12½

(Stean, Goodman, Mestel — Korchnoi, Taimanov, Bronstein)

Inofficial World Chess title matches:

> McDonnell vs. La Bourdonnais in 1834
Between June and October 1834, Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais, an aristocrat of France and Alexander McDonnell of Ireland played a series of six matches, a total of eighty-five games, at the Westminster Chess Club in London.
McDonnell won the second match, while La Bourdonnais won first, third, fourth and fifth. The sixth match was unfinished.

The games were recorded for posterity by the club's elderly founder William Greenwood Walker, who remained by McDonnell's side for almost the entire duration of the match. Play generally began around noon, some of the games taking more than seven hours to complete. McDonnell knew no French, and La Bourdonnais knew no English. It is said that the only word they exchanged during their historic encounter was "check!”

La Bourdonnais was considered to be the unofficial World Chess Champion (there was no official title at the time) from 1821 — when he became able to beat his teacher Alexandre Deschapelles — until his death in 1840. The most famous match series, indeed considered as the World Chess Championship, was the series against Alexander Donnell in 1834.

McDonnell was suffering from Bright's disease, a historical classification of nephritis, which affects the kidneys. In the summer of 1835 his condition worsened and he died in London on 15 September 1835 before his match with La Bourdonnais could be resumed.

Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais died penniless in London in 1840, having been forced to sell all of his possessions, including his clothes, to satisfy his creditors. George Walker arranged to have him buried just a stone's throw away from his old rival Alexander McDonnell in London's Kensal Green Cemetery.

Harry Golombek evaluated the games and found them to generally be of low quality. There were some instances of brilliance, but the level of technique, especially in the endgame was low. In one game McDonnell had an endgame with a rook and two pawns versus a rook and did not know how to win. He lost his rook due to a blunder and lost the game. La Bourdonnais was not as bad as McDonnell in the endgame but he was weak in the opening. The games lacked any cohesive strategy. There were relatively few draws, but this was partly due to McDonnell's inaccurate defense, which caused him to lose games instead of draw them. (Source: Wikipedia)

> Steinitz vs. Andersson in 1866
Traditionally this match marked the beginning of Steinitz' reign as World Chess Champion, an idea not generally accepted today.

World Chess Championship campaigning:

> Candidates semifinal matches 1983: Kasparov vs. Korchnoi, Smyslov vs. Ribli

> Candidates reserve triangular 1985: Speelman, Gavrikov, Van der Wiel

> Candidates quarterfinal match 1988: Speelman vs. Short

> Candidates semifinal match 1989: Timman vs. Speelman

> Candidates semifinal match 1989: Karpov vs. Jussupow

> Candidates eighthfinal match (in fact, 7th-final, Karpov got a bye) 1991: Short vs. Speelman

> Candidates tournament 2013 (Carlsen above Kramnik on tie-break)

World Chess Championship matches:

> FIDE Chess Championship, Rematch 1986 (the second half was played in Leningrad)

> PCA (Times) Championship 1993 (Kasparov and Short splitting from FIDE and GMA)

> Brain Games World Chess Championship 2000 (Kramnik dethroning Kasparov), later embedded in the "Classical Champions"

For a good overall survey of London chess tournaments, see in French Wikipedia:

Margate Chess Congress

MARGATE 1923, 1935 – 1939

The chess club at Margate held five consecutive invitation tournaments from spring 1935 to spring 1939, plus a Prequel in 1923.

Capablanca took part three times at Margate, but could never win!

Teesside, diverse tournaments

The initial GM tournament of 1972 was followed up with the World Junior Chess Championship (1973), the World Student Team Championship (1974), and finally in 1975 with another GM tournament, dedicated to C.H.O'D Alexander who had passed away in 1974, this event is also known as the Alexander Memorial.

England's Alexander Memorial, the Tesside tournament in 1975 is the strongest in the UK for decades! (1972) (1975)

Cleveland Chess Association (CCA): 

25+ British Chess Legends from different generations beaten by Viktor Korchnoi in classical games

Legendary Golombek, Penrose, Barden (in 1960, all three were beaten within one year)

IM Botterill, IM near GM Hartston,

Keene & Stean (later working as his seconds, Stean a longtime friend of Korchnoi),

Miles (who ultimately took the accolade to become the country's first (british born) grandmaster), beaten by Korchnoi many times and overwhelmingly,

Nunn, genius, mathematician and chess composer,

Short, with lots of encounters on top level between Korchnoi and Miles, Nunn, and Short (this threesome specification follows a strict alphabetical order, dear Nigel)

Speelman, a maverick on chessboard

and Mestel, Flear, Hodgson, etc.,

then the (Daniel) King of all today-presenters,

Gallagher (becoming later a swiss teammate),

many other grandmasters from Watson to Wells and more, Sadler, Kosten & Co(nquest),

Adams, after all, and winning when Mickey was already an Elo top ten player, 

Williams, Viktor taking his revenge above Simon in England for a prior loss in Switzerland
(both games in 2009 were full of fighting chess spirit, btw.: they met already at Isle of Man),

Rowson, the strongest Scottish Chess Grandmaster should not be forgotten, as well as Chandler, or Wade who could beat Korchnoi at Buenos Aires in 1960, Korchnoi eventually winning that world elite tournament (150 Anniv of May Revolution) together with Reshevsky

plus further strong UK players, from Peter Hugh Clarke to Lawrence Trent, to name two more

Between Viktor Korchnoi’s first win over a British chess player in an official event, it was against Peter Hugh Clarke at the first World Student Team Chess Championship in Oslo 1954, followed by conquering both, Golombek and Penrose, at Hastings Premier in 1955/1956, and his last win against a British born player in a classical game (beating Joe Gallagher in the Championship of Switzerland in 2012, Korchnoi playing in a wheelchair), lies far more than half of a century!!

Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander and young Viktor Korchnoi just “missed” each other at Hastings Congresses in the 1950s. Earlier British master players in the 20th century (Yates, who died too soon or eg. Atkins, Milner-Barry, Thomas) did not face Korchnoi otb.

This list does not claim to be totally complete, and there are a few more English grandmasters, Viktor Korchnoi apparently never played, eg. Gormally, or only rarely played, eg. Davies (drawing him at the last Staunton Memorial), Jones or young McShane. Sometimes the data is not fully cleared (Open tournaments), eg. concerning Plaskett and Pein.

Those were the days

Switzerland beating England at the ETCC in Novi Sad 2009 (Switzerland with VK, Pelletier, Jenni, hidden, and IM Ekström, the match winner on board four). Top board: Korchnoi facing Admas last time (draw). Source: ChessBase

1st World Team Chess Championship: Lucerne 1985

Switzerland vs. England 4-2
(yes, they played on six boards!)

Board 1: Nunn vs. Korchnoi 0-1
Board 2: IM Hug vs. Speelman 1/2-1/2
Board 3: Short vs. IM Wirthensohn 1-0
Board 4: IM Keller vs. Chandler 1/2-1/2
Reserve 1: IM Plaskett vs. IM Trepp 0-1
Reserve 2: IM Franzoni vs. IM Flear 1-0

Miles (board 1) and Mestel (board 5)
paused for England in that round

(no title specification means GM)

Barden vs. Korchnoi in 1960 at the Chess Olympiad in Leipzig, picture taken during the game after (21.Bg1). Quelle: Dr. Hans-Georg Kleinhenz,


If a pdf will be updated, then it changes its URL, that's why these tournament series above should be better linked under the general address (Great Britain series) or directly downloaded as pdf.

Free to copy. Please cite the source © Chessdiagonals, Switzerland

For more:

BRITBASE - The national archive of British chess, compiled by John Saunders, chess player, historian, writer and editor of note. Saunders also authored instructive guides on chess covering a broad range of expertise:,

see also: by Alan McGowan who curates this immaculate page about Scottish history within the Chess Scotland website.4

see also: IRISHBASE - The Irish Chess Union has a downloadable collection of games from Irish players since the early 19th century to the present; and IRISHBASE - Irish history, with a player dictionary from Ireland


Further links: sources and readings -