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Peter Norman (1923 – 2012)

Peter Norman

Peter Norman, who died earlier this year, was a member of the Club for several seasons in the mid-1990s, after his retirement and subsequent move to Budleigh Salterton.

Chess was one of his many interests, one that he shared with his younger son, Robert.

He stopped coming in 1996 after his neighbour, Peter Carter, with whom he came to the club, moved away.

Peter Norman was born in Wellingborough, Northants, and graduated from Birmingham University in 1948. While there he had contracted polio which necessitated a break from his studies and left him with a limp.  He then joined Standard Telephones & Cables and stayed with them for the whole of his 37 year career. In 1961 his design for transistor blocking oscillators was patented. In 1969 he came up with a design for a much improved transistorised  repeater which enabled 2,700 telephone conversations simultaneously on existing co-axial cable links. For this, STC won the Queen’s Award to Industry.

That Autumn he found even wider fame as the family appeared on the television quiz show “Ask The Family”, winning the whole series after a series of knockout programmes.

l-r: Peter, Robert (14), Margaret (13) & Pearl Norman.


After retirement, he moved to Budleigh Salterton in 1989-90, where he was able to indulge his many interests, including radio, astronomy, computers, chess and gardening.

In 1996 tragedy struck when his son, now Dr. Robert, died aged 40. The stress seems to have set off on a downward path Peter’s polio, which had been relatively stable for over 40 years, and he became immobile without the mobility scooter he nicknamed “Bruno”.

Robert had been captain of his school chess team, but his bequest to the chess world is this strange problem, published in Chess in 1988,  which seems to defy the Laws of Chess.

White to play and win.


At the time this was composed, Article 9.1 of the Laws of Chess stated that “the king is in check if it is attacked by one or two of the opponent’s pieces”. Article 9.2 states that “the check must be parried by the move immediately following”.

On this basis, the solution is 1.g6 Nd7+ forking king & rook. 2.Kf7+ NxQ+  3. g7+  The point of this is that the White king is now attacked by three pieces and so is not in check as defined by the Laws as they then stood, which can only be 1 or 2 pieces. There now follows 3…Kh7 4. g8=Q Kh6 5.Qg7 mate 

As a result of this problem, in 1992 FIDE amended the Laws to “…one or more pieces” to cover all eventualities.

It is also interesting in that it involves just one of each kind of piece, Kings excepted. A remarkable novelty.

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