Arthur Hall

Post by Brian J Denman on Aug 21, 2015 at 5:06pm
About two years ago I wrote a series of articles about Hastings players, who had become county champion, but had not won the club championship. At that time I had wanted to include Arthur Hall Arthur Hall in the series, but unfortunately I did not know if he was still alive. It is only fairly recently that I learnt of his death in 2012 and I then decided to write an obituary in the Sussex chess magazine. Enclosed here is a virtual copy of that article, though I have added more of his games.

Obituary for Arthur Hall 10.3.1935 to 24.8.2012

Although it is about three years since Arthur Hall died, news of his passing only recently reached local chess players. He was born at Northolt, Middlesex, and became a promising young player at Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Hampstead. In 1953 he competed in the British Boys’ Championship at Hastings and scored six points out of nine.

After this it is likely that he did National Service before entering Queen’s College, Oxford, as a maths student in 1956. It would seem that he now led a very active chess life and played in four Oxford v Cambridge university matches between 1957 and 1960. In 1957 he became British Universities’ champion and was first equal in this competition in 1960. He also went on a tour to Yugoslavia in 1957 when representing a combined Oxford and Cambridge universities side. Another success of his while at university was in winning the City of Oxford Championship. In this period he played for Oxfordshire against Sussex on more than one occasion and for at least part of the time was a member of the Harrow and Cedars chess clubs. The latter club, which was formed by David Mabbs and David Rumens, was also located in the Harrow area and for a time was very successful.

After Arthur obtained his degree in 1959, he probably spent a year in post-graduate teachers’ training. When he played in the 1960 Oxford v Cambridge university match, he was still listed as being at Queen’s College. However, early in 1960 he started playing for Hastings CC and he may have been in the town on teaching practice. Later that year he became resident therein and took up a post at Hurst Court Preparatory School.

In a period from the late 1950s to the late 1960s Arthur took part in several congresses and these included the Chess Ltd tournament at Eastbourne, the Bognor Stevenson Memorial Tournament (later called the Churchill Memorial Tournament), British Chess Federation Major Open events and the Northern Open at Whitby. He usually performed creditably in these competitions and in 1961 he earned the right to play in the British Championship at Leicester. Facing strong opposition in this event, he scored four points out of eleven.

Arthur taught in Hastings until 1967 and in his first full season in Sussex he won the county championship defeating C Kendal of Bognor in the final. In an earlier round he had won against Arthur Winser, the Hastings CC champion, but it was the latter who kept winning the club championship. In fact despite Arthur Hall’s success in becoming county champion in 1961 he never won the Hastings CC Championship. In the 1961-62 season he took on the hard task of playing board one for Sussex and in the last match he held British champion, Jonathan Penrose to a draw enabling the county to win the Amboyna Shield. In this period Arthur also represented East Sussex in the Sexton Cup triangular competition. The other teams in this event were Brighton and West Sussex.

In 1963 Arthur also joined Worthing CC. He would live at Hastings during term time and had the chance to stay at his parents’ house at Goring, Worthing, during the school holidays. For a couple of seasons he represented Worthing in the McArthur Cup. The Worthing Gazette had a chess column written by Leslie Head and in its edition of 25.9.1963 Arthur became number eight in a series of Sussex chess personalities specially featured in the newspaper. In 1964 he played on board nine in a Southern Counties’ team against a Midlands representative side.

In 1967 Arthur left Hastings and his maths teaching took him to Pinner. He continued to lead an active chess life and rejoined Harrow CC (there is also a record of his being a member of Amersham CC in 1970). For several years he continued to represent Sussex in county matches while living in the London area. In 1968 he received the Worthing Gazette’s Norman award (named after former Sussex champion, George Norman,) for his excellent results in county matches during the 1967-68 season.

He returned to Sussex in 1978 and started teaching Scholarship Maths for a few periods each week at Sompting Abbotts Preparatory School. It seems likely that he supplemented his income by giving private tuition. He was probably at the school for several years though unfortunately I do not know the year in which he retired from the post.

Now based regularly in West Sussex, Arthur joined Rustington CC and rejoined Worthing CC. He played for both clubs in the McArthur Cup at different times and won the Worthing CC Championship in 1981. Another success was his winning the West Sussex Queen competition in 1979.

As Arthur grew older, he gradually slipped down the order for the county first team. Sometimes also he played for the second team. In the 1996-97 season the number of first team players in the Southern Counties Open competition was reduced to sixteen, which made it harder to be selected for the side. Arthur’s last county game seems to have been on 25.3.2000 when he drew with Jerry Anstead (Kent) on board seven of an under 175 match.

In the early 1990s Arthur played for at least two seasons for the Gambiteers in the South West Sussex League. Arthur’s love of gambits made him an ideal player for this team. In 1996 he entered the Sussex Veterans’ Championship and also represented Worthing CC in the McArthur Cup final.

It seems that Arthur’s ‘over-the-board’ chess career virtually came to an end in 2000, though he probably played correspondence chess for some time after that. He turned up at Dorothy Stringer School on 13.7.2002 to take part in the Sussex Jamboree, but his opponent failed to make an appearance. An entry on the Bognor and Arun CC website dated 18.6.2006 mentions that Arthur was present at the East Preston Festival when the chess club took on all-comers.

Arthur took part in at least three simultaneous exhibitions given by masters. In 1960 he lost against Svetozar Gligoric when the game formed part of a radio broadcast on BBC’s Network Three. In 1962 he was defeated by Mikhail Botvinnik, but in 1990 he gained a good win against Malcolm Pein at Worthing.

Arthur is known throughout the world for his knowledge of the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. He had become interested in this opening while at university and in 1964 he wrote two articles on the gambit in the magazine called ‘Chess’. His knowledge of the opening was such that he reached the world final stages of at least one international Blackmar-Diemer correspondence tournament. His name was even jointly quoted for one of the variations of the gambit. The opening sequence of 1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3 exf3 5 Nxf3 Bg4 6 h3 Bxf3 7 Qxf3 c6 8 g4 constitutes the Seidel-Hall attack named after Arthur and Norbert Seidel of German nationality.

There has been some uncertainty as to whether Arthur wrote a book on the Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. The Autumn 1980/Winter1981 issue of Sussex Chess News stated that in the late spring of that year Arthur’s book would be published by ‘The Chess Player’ of Nottingham, but Tony Gillam, the publisher, has no recollection of such a book.

Arthur’s correspondence chess was not confined to Blackmar-Diemer competitions. He entered several individual correspondence competitions including the Sussex Correspondence Championship, the British Correspondence Chess Society Championship, the British Correspondence Championship Candidates event, the British Postal Chess Federation Grand Open competition and the Postal Chess Club Premier. He also represented the British Correspondence Chess Society in the British Postal Chess Federation clubs’ competition and played for the British Postal Chess Federation in a match against the USA. Already by the 1960-61 season he was playing for Sussex in the counties’ correspondence competition and he was a regular in the team until the 1996-97 season.

Arthur’s love of gambits resulted in his playing many brilliant games. He had a quiet and modest personality which belied the fact that he could be a fearsome attacking player. The first time that I played him he trotted out the obscure Wilkes-Barre variation of the Two Knights Defence and soon it seemed that pieces were flying at me from different directions. In the Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 21.3.1964 the columnist, Frank Rhoden, quoted what he called a ‘Bellocian ballad’:

“A dreadfall fate those types befalls
Who pinch a pawn of Arthur Hall’s.”

{N.B. the above spelling mistake is probably deliberate!}

I enclose a number of Arthur’s games:

Hall,A – Stern,I [B94]

Played at Zagreb on Oxf/Camb. U. tour Zagreb, 1957

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 e6 8.0–0 b5 9.Bxe6 fxe6 10.Nxe6 Qb6 11.Nd5 Nxd5 12.Qxd5 Ra7 13.Nc7+ Sources: ‘Chess’ of 2.11.1957 and Worthing Gazette of 6.6.1962. 1–0

Hall,A – Winser,WA [B15]

Sussex Championship, 1961

1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 dxe4 4.f3 exf3 5.Nxf3 Bg4 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 Nf6 8.0–0 Nbd7 9.Qe1 Qc7 10.a4 Be7 11.h3 Bh5 12.a5 0–0 13.Ne2 Nd5 14.Bd2 Rae8 15.Bb3 Bd6 16.Qh4 Bg6 17.c4 Be7 18.Qe1 N5f6 19.Nf4 c5 20.Ne5 Bd6 21.Nfxg6 hxg6 22.Ba4 cxd4 23.Nxd7 Nxd7 24.c5 Be7 25.b4 Rd8 26.Bf4 e5 27.Rd1 Bf6 28.Bg3 Nb8 29.h4 a6 30.h5 gxh5 31.Qe4 Qe7 32.Bc2 g6 33.Rd3 Nc6 34.Rdf3 Bg5 35.Rxf7 Be3+ 36.Kh1 Qe6 37.Bb3 Qg4 38.Rxf8+ Kg7 39.Qxg4 hxg4 40.Rxd8 Source: Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 25.2.1961. 1–0

Hindle,OM – Hall,A [C89]

Stevenson Memorial Tournament at Bognor (9), 13.04.1961

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0–0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 0–0 8.c3 d5 9.exd5 e4 10.dxc6 exf3 11.Qxf3 Bg4 12.Qg3 Bd6 13.Qh4 Re8 14.f3 Bf5 15.Rxe8+ Qxe8 16.d4 Qe2 17.Nd2 Bd3 18.g3 Qe1+ 19.Kg2 Re8 Sources: Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 6.5.1961, British Chess Magazine of June 1961 and ‘Chess’ of March 1970. 0–1

Hall,A – Rumens,DE [C44]

Stevenson Memorial Tournament at Bognor (1), 01.04.1964

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 exd4 4.c3 d5 5.exd5 Qxd5 6.cxd4 Bg4 7.Be2 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Qc4 9.Bxc6+ Qxc6 10.0–0 0–0–0 11.Be3 Nf6 12.Nc3 Bb4 13.Qb3 Bxc3 14.bxc3 Rd5 15.Rab1 b6 16.c4 Rh5 17.Bf4 Rh4 18.d5 Qc5 19.g3 Rg4 20.Qa4 Kb7 21.Rb5 Qd4 22.Ra5! b5 23.Rxb5+ Kc8 24.Qa6+ Kd8 25.Bxc7+ Kxc7 26.Rb7+ Sources: Worthing Gazette of 22.4.1964, Hastings and St Leonards Observer of 9.5.1964 and ‘Chess’ of 17.6.1964. 1–0

The following game won the prize given by Bruce Hayden for the best game by a Sussex player in county chess for the season. It has a pretty finish.

Wheeler,GW – Hall,A [E84]

Kent v Sussex in London board 4, 07.11.1964

1.c4 g6 2.Nc3 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.e4 d6 5.f3 Nc6 6.Be3 a6 7.Nge2 0–0 8.Qd2 Rb8 9.g4 b5 10.cxb5 axb5 11.Ng3 b4 12.Nd1 e5 13.d5 Nd4 14.Be2 b3 15.Bxd4 exd4 16.a3 Nd7 17.Nf2 Qh4 18.f4 Nc5 19.0–0–0 Na4 20.Qd3 Rb6 21.Qc4 Ba6 22.Qxa4 Bxe2 23.Nxe2 Qxf2 24.Qc4 Qe3+ 25.Kb1 Qxe4+ 26.Ka1 c5 27.dxc6 Rxc6 28.Qd3 Qg2 29.Nxd4 Ra8 30.Qd2 Rc1+! 31.Qxc1 Rxa3+ 32.Kb1 Ra1+ 33.Kxa1 Qa8+ Sources: Annual report of the Sussex Chess Association and Worthing Gazette of 6.10.1965. 0–1

Hall,A – Abbasi,NM [D00]

BCF Congress at Portsmouth Major Open, 08.1976

1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Qd2 0–0 8.Bd3 Nbd7 9.Qf4 c5 10.Qh4 Re8 11.0–0 h6 12.Ne4 hxg5 13.Nfxg5 c4 14.Nxf7 cxd3 15.Neg5 Kf8 16.Qh8+ Ng8 17.Nh7# Source: ‘Chess’ of September 1976. 1–0

Hall,A – Dingwall,FG [D00]

McArthur. Cup Rustington v Chichester board 1, 06.01.1979

1.d4 Nf6 2.f3 d5 3.e4 dxe4 4.Nc3 exf3 5.Nxf3 e6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Bd3 Nbd7 8.0–0 0–0 9.Qe1 c5 10.Qh4 h6 11.Bxh6 gxh6 12.Qxh6 c4 13.Ng5! cxd3 14.Nce4 dxc2 15.Rxf6 Sources: ‘Sussex Chess News’ (published about June 1979) and ‘Blackmar-Diemer Gambit’ – Gary Lane – Batsford (1995). Played at Chichester. 1–0

Hall,A – Likeman,M [D00]

British Correspondence Chess Society Championship , 1990

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.e4 Nxe4 4.Nxe4 dxe4 5.Bc4 Bf5 6.c3 e6 7.g4 Bg6 8.Ne2 Nd7 9.h4 h6 10.Nf4 Qf6 11.Be3 Bd6 12.Nxg6 Qxg6 13.Be2 0–0–0 14.Qa4 Kb8 15.c4 f5 16.c5 Be7 17.Bb5 Nf6 18.Ba6 c6 19.Bf4+ Ka8 20.Bxb7+ Kxb7 21.Rh3 Bxc5 22.Rc1 Bb4+ 23.Qxb4+ Ka8 24.Qa4 Rc8 25.Ra3 Qf7 26.Rc5 Rhd8 27.Ra5 Rd7 28.Rb3 Qe8 29.Rb6 Nd5 30.Rba6 Qe7 31.Rxc6 Rcd8 32.Rac5 Qe8 33.Qc4 Ne7 34.Rxe6 fxg4 35.Qc2 Source: A Hall. This game won the 1991 Potter best game prize for the BPCF. 1–0

Pein,M – Hall,A [D09]

31 board simul at Worthing, 16.06.1990

1.d4 d5 2.c4 e5 3.dxe5 d4 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.g3 Be6 6.Nbd2 f6 7.Qa4 Qd7 8.exf6 Nxf6 9.Bg2 Be7 10.0–0 0–0 11.a3 Bh3 12.b4 Bxg2 13.Kxg2 d3 14.exd3 Qxd3 15.Qb3 Qf5 16.Bb2 Ne4 17.Nxe4 Qxe4 18.Rae1 Qf5 19.b5 Rad8 20.Re3 Bc5 21.bxc6 Bxe3 22.fxe3 Rd3 23.Qb5 Qe4 24.cxb7 Rd2+ 25.Kh1 Rxf3 Source: ‘Sussex Chess 1990’. Malcolm Pein played 30 humans and one computer. 0-1

Arthur died in Worthing Hospital about three years ago and it is sad that no chess player in Sussex seems to have known about this at the time. There have probably been several cases where a player has given up the game because of old age and then been forgotten about by his fellow club members. If chess is to be considered a social game, we should try to keep in touch with our former members and friends.

Brian Denman 21.8.2015

Est. 1882