Famous Players

The following people once played for West London. In approximate order of appearance:

  • Philip Walsingham Sergeant won the club championship in 1898, 1899 and 1937 [2]. He was considered a chess expert of his time and an author of many chess books including "Morphy's Games of Chess" (a significant re-work of the Löwenthal classic), which was first published in 1957 and is still on sale today.
  • British Amateur Champion of 1902; Reginald Pryce Michell was a prominent member of the club, winning the club championship a phenomenal 14 times between 1900 and 1923 [2]. The club competition was not held between 1914-1921 probably due to the Great War (World War I). He played top board for the club for about 25 years and was also the club's President upward of 20 years [37]. He later won the City of London club championship 1925-1926.
  • William Ward was the only one to break R.P. Michell's winning streak, becoming club champion in the season of 1906-07. He was considered to be a player of international strength [37] and also held the City of London club championship one season. He defeated Frank Marshall in the England vs USA cable match in 1901.
  • Ralph Eastman was a member of the club [37]. As well as being a strong player, he was described as a match captain "par excellence" and it was largely due to his indefatigable efforts during his long term in office, that the club became one of the strongest of the division A clubs. He was also the club's President for a number of years. The club has a trophy named after him, as does the London League.
  • Probably the most famous honourary member was Jose Raul Capablanca, though he was never asked to play in league matches as it was felt that "he would have to be our whole team" [37].
  • Frederick Jackson Camm, not to be confused with Frederick James Camm (a popular technical author and magazine editor of the same period), won the club championship five times, four of them consecutively between 1933 and 1936 [2]. He was a barrister and was awarded the Military Cross (with bar) for his service during World War I. A member of the club for nearly 60 years, he was also an officer for many of them, holding various positions including President from 1956 until 1959 [1]. He passed away early July 1966, you can read his obituary [9]. He was a financial benefactor and the club championship trophy (named after him) was created in his honour.
  • Two time British correspondence champion J.A. Fuller played for the club [18]. He won it two years consecutively between 1953-55 (before Hollis) and also played for the English national team [19]. J.A. Fuller started off early, winning the boys' U18 British championship in 1946. He won the club Junior Championship in 1945-46 [44] and won the club (senior) championship twice in 1950-51 and 1953-54 [1].
  • Grandmaster Jacques Mieses (photos) won the club's Ralph Eastman cup in 1941 [2]. Like other GMs, he wrote numerous articles for the BCM [33][34][35][36] and 'Chess' magazine [32].
  • International Master and two time British Champion Sir George Alan Thomas (pictures) joined the club late 1941 [52] and won the club championship in 1944 [3]. He won the British championship in 1923 and 1934, and represented England in 7 chess olympiads from 1927 to 1939. By 1939 he had won the City of London Club's championship for the 16th time [21] and in 1946 he continued by winning a very strong London Championship tournament [74]. He also wrote numerous articles for the BCM and 'Chess' Magazine. Sir George Thomas was a Baronet and 7-time British badminton champion, representing England 29 times from 1902 to 1929. In 1939 he donated a cup for international badminton, to be competed for on the same lines as the Davis Cup in tennis [21].
  • The first Women's World Champion Vera Menchik played for the club [3]. The Menchik family moved to England in 1921, when Vera was 15 and in that year she won the British girls' championship. Geza Maroczy started coaching her in 1922 (Maroczy also coached another world champion, Max Euwe). In January 1926 Vera won the First British Girls' Open Championship and in January 1927 she won the London ladies championship with a pefect 5-0 score (her sister Olga took 2nd place). FIDE established the 1st world championship for women in July 1927, which Vera won at the age of 21 in London (with 10 wins and 1 draw in the last round). In 1937 she married Rufus Henry Streatfeild Stevenson (1878-1943), the secretary of the British Chess Federation. In September 1939, at the beginning of World War II, Vera Menchik became the manager of the new British National Chess Centre in the Cavendish Square building of John Lewis, Oxford Street until it was destroyed by fire (caused by a German bomb) on the 23rd September 1940 [53]. In June 1941 she took over the Games department of Chess magazine [51] and joined the club later that year as an honourary member [38]. Sadly, in the BCM (1944), Vera is listed in the obituaries, which was extracted from the West London Chess Club Gazette. She lived in Gauden Road Clapham SW4, which was bombed in one of the the first V1 missile attacks on 26th June 1944, during the war. The "buzz bomb" hit her home, her mother and sister Olga were killed as well. Ironically, the nearby bomb shelter was untouched. A student of hers (M.H. Brown) reminisces about her in the August 1944 edition of the Gazette. Vera earlier that year donated a trophy for annual competition [42]. She is the longest reigning Women's World Chess Champion (17 years) and there was no Women's World Champion from 1944 until 1950 when Ludmilla Rudenko of the Soviet Union won the championship in Moscow.
  • British Ladies' Champion Miss Elaine Saunders (later Mrs. Pritchard) joined the club in February 1944 [45]. She was three times the Girls' U18 Champion (1936-1938) and won the Ladies' British Championship four times (1939, 1946, 1956 and 1965). She also won the Nottinghamshire county championship in 1946 [49]. Elaine was born in 1926, which means she must have won her first Ladies' title when she was only 13 years of age! Surprisingly little information is published about her.
  • Philip Stuart Milner-Barry (O.B.E.) played for the club in the London league [41]. His name is associated with a variation of the Nimzo-Indian Defence, but he is (now) more popularly known for being part of the team that worked at Bletchley Park cracking the German Enigma codes during World War II. He was the first British Boys' Champion (U18) in 1923. He was one of the directors of the BCM between 1941-1950 (maybe longer) and was chess correspondent for 'The Times' newspaper.
  • International Master Sawielly Grigoriewitsch Tartakower was, if only briefly, a member of the club [41], though we do not know the extent of his involvement in club activities. Considered to be one of the founders of the
    Hypermodern School of Chess, he pioneered many new opening lines and some variations are named after him.
  • Baruch Harold Wood (MSc,O.B.E.) joined the club in August 1945. He founded the chess magazine CHESS and edited it until 1988, when it was taken over by Pergamon Press. He also wrote chess columns for the Daily Telegraph and The Illustrated London News.
  • Paul M List played for the club [46]. Considered to be a player of international strength, his chess playing ability can be compared to that of P.S. Milner-Barry and Harry Golombeck.
  • Jugoslav Master Imre König joined the club in January 1946 [40] and played in league matches. He is considered to be of IM strength and is sometimes referred to as I. Koenig. His analytical study of openings contributed to British chess literature and he wrote the book "Chess from Morphy to Botwinnik", which is still on sale today. He did arduous work for Britain all through World War II and finished 2nd in the Hastings tournament of 1948-49. Prioir to joining the club, he lived in Nottingham and wrote articles in the BCM (Jan/Feb/Mar1941 Q's Indian and May 1948). A book titled "IMRE KONIG" has been written by US IM John Donaldson.
  • Frank Parr joined the club in April 1946 [43]. He is a well-known and popular English chess player, and one-time Hastings Premier winner noted for his win against G. Wheatcroft in the City of London Club Championship of 1938. He was a rifleman in the 2nd L.I.R. ; E.G.R. during World War 2 [50].
  • London Champion of 1951 Edward Guthlac Sergeant played for the club [18]. He was a strong player who managed to beat the likes of Mieses, Menchik and draw against players like Thomas, Euwe and Capablanca. He also played for the Middlesex county team, helping them win the English County Championsip -the Löwenthal cup in 1925. P.W. Sergeant was his cousin.
  • International Master Cenek Kottnauer won the club's Sir George Thomas Cup for best performance in the London Leage [2]. A honourary member of the club, he won it three times between 1954-1958, just after he emigrated to England. There is an excellent article about him on ChessCafe.com
  • Adrian Swayne Hollis won the club championship 4 years consecutively between 1957-61 (he was joint 1st in 57) [1]. He was born on 2nd August 1940 in Bristol, which means he was only 17 years of age when he won the club championship! He later became the British correspondence champion for the years 1965-66 [9], 1966-67 and 1970-71 (joint 1st in 65-66 though). He won his IMC title in 1970 (FIDE IM of Composing) and won his GMC title in 1976 (GM of Composing). A.S. Hollis also wrote some book reviews published in the British Chess Magazine [13][14][15].
  • British champion of 1965 Peter N. Lee, won the Sir George Thomas cup for the best performance in the London League during the 1961-62 season. He was a honourary member of the club and like many players in his class, he too wrote articles for the BCM [47].
  • George Marshall Norman was a strong player and a Hastings stalwart, able to draw against the likes of Euwe, Lilienthal, Menchik and Botvinnik. He played for Hastings Chess Club and was their match captain for a number of years until mid-1950, when he moved to live with his son in Sutton, Surrey [73]. He was also a Sussex player from 1903 until 1966, when he retired and moved to London. He then started playing for West London Chess Club and won the Sir George Thomas cup for the best performance in the London League during the 1965-66 season [11]. His obituary (1966) mentions a tribute published in the BCM [17].
  • International master and British champion of 1957 Dr. Stefan Fazekas was an honourary member of the club. He won both IM and IMC titles and died on May 3rd 1967. A tribute re-printed from the Times is published in the gazette.
  • Grandmaster Alexander Cherniaev is a honourary member and has played for the club in league matches on a number occasions between 2003 and 2007.