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Posts Tagged ‘Reginald Pryce Michell’

Cornish Chess (23.06.2018) 991

The Cornish C.A. Secretary, Ian George, writes to say that on 3rd and 31st July and 28th August (all Tuesdays), there will be a chess gathering in the restaurant of the Plume of Feathers, Fore Street, Pool, Redruth TR15 3PF to which all are welcome. These will be informal gatherings for recreational chess. It’s intended to try some kriegspiel, pairs chess and any other variants of the game that people want to play. Equipment  provided. Ages 12+.

Everyone knows the best chessplayer ever to come out of Cornwall is Michael Adams, but who would be the next best? A leading candidate would be Reginald Pryce Michell (1873-1938). The family came from Camborne where his father, Stephen, was a copper assayer at the Pendandrea mine, the old chimney stack of which still stands guard over the town. It was a vital job as he had to constantly monitor the quality of the ore being mined, which affected the viability of the mine on which the jobs of hundreds of miners depended. When the mining industry collapsed the family moved to Penzance where Stephen’s in-laws ran a millinery business. Father and his 3 sons, Reginald being the youngest, were all keen players and members of the Penzance Club and went through all their games at home. He joined the club aged 15 and was club champion within 2 years. When the millinery business failed, probably a consequence of the mining collapse, Stephen became a landscape artist on the back of the rise of the Newlyn School and English impressionism, but eventually the whole family moved to London.

Reginald became British Amateur Champion in 1902, played in 8 England vs. USA cable matches between 1901 and 1911 and twice represented England in Olympiads, London 1927 and Folkestone 1933 in 1932/3. He finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the British Championship proper, but greater success over the board eluded him as he worked hard at his career, becoming Permanent Secretary in the Admiralty, and chess was just one of several hobbies.

Here is a notable game of his played at Hastings in 1931.

White: R. P. Michell. Black: E. Colle.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 Here is the Nimzowitsch Defence  again, touted as Black’s strongest counter to the Queen’s Pawn. 4.Qb3 This move was popular at the time but is now seen as (a) abandoning e4 to Black’s knight and (b) bringing the queen into play too quickly, making it liable to attack, as in this game, not that this troubled Michell. 4…c5 5.dxc5 Nc6 6.Nf3 Ne4 7.Bd2 Nxc5 8.Qc2 f5 9.g3 0–0 10.Bg2 d5 11.cxd5 exd5 12.a3 d4 13.axb4 Nxb4 14.Qd1 Be6 15.0–0 Bb3 16.Qc1 dxc3 17.Qxc3 attacking both knights. 17…Nc2 18.Qxc5 Nxa1 19.Rxa1 White got both knights for his rook. 19…Qd5 20.Qb4 Qc4 21.Nd4 Rfd8 22.Qxb3 1–0 After 22…Qxb3 23.Nxb3 White would be 2 pieces up.

In last week’s position, White could win material by 1.Qxg6. Black cannot afford to take it because of the sequence 1…Pxg6  2.Nxg6+ Kh7 3.Nxf8+ King moves and 4.NxQ and White would be a rook & 2 pawns up, so play continues otherwise and White has won a significant pawn.

Here is a 2-mover by an adopted Cornishman, Rev. Chris Reeves (1939-2012), who composed the majority of his 80+ problems in his 20s.

White to mate in 2