We remember English player Joseph Blake who passed away on Tuesday, December 11th, 1951.

Joseph Henry Blake was born on Thursday, February 3rd, 1859 in Farnborough, Hampshire. His parents were Joseph Denner and Eliza Blake (née Early). In 1871 Joseph (aged 12) had a brother Frank (aged 10), sisters Annie (8), Elizabeth S (7), Eliza E (1) and a servant, Kate Longman aged 18. The family lived in Lydia Cottage, Hewitts Road, Millbrook, South Stoneham, Hampshire.

According to the 1861 census Joseph was two years old and living with his parents and Frank in Rotten Row, Yeovil, Somerset.

In 1881 the family has upped sticks again and moved to 2 St. Lawrence Road, Saint Mary, Eastleigh, Hampshire. This address is also given as the South West Telegraph Office. Eliza was now the head of the household and a widower. Apart from Eliza E aged 11 everyone worked for the railway.

In 1891 Joseph had become Head of the Household (aged 32) and they had acquired a servant (Anna M Cornell) and a blacksmith (Francis Cornell) from Braintree in Essex.

In 1900 Joseph married Alice New in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. They lived at 24, Barton Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire. Tragically, Alice passed away in 1903.
The remarkable feature about Blake’s chess career is that he retained his skill and his comprehension of the game for a much longer period that most chess players. This extended from 1887 when he was 1st at the Counties Chess Association tournament at Stamford ahead of Bird and Pollock, a performance he was to repeat in 1891 at Oxford, to 1909 when he tied with H. E. Atkins for first place in the British Championship, to 1923 when he won the Weston-super-Mare tournament, right into the 1930s when he was principal annotator for the British Chess Magazine.”

Blake was President of the Southern Counties Chess Association in 1911 and President of the Hampshire Chess Association from 1910-1912 and from 1927-1929. He was also Hon. Secretary of the City of London Chess Club for some years.”

According to Tim Harding in the excellent Correspondence Chess in Britain and Ireland, 1824-1987 :

Railway clerk Joseph Henry Blake, the leading English correspondence player of the 1890s; also a strong OTB amateur player. He was a regular contributor to British Chess Magazine from the 1880s to the late 1930s.

In British Chess Magazine, Volume XXXIX (39, 1919), Number 3 (March) we have the following from Julius du Mont : “I presume it relates more particularly to chess professionals in this country, at any rate, it does not seem to me that the jews hold rank amongst first-class amateurs in proportion to their numbers.

In London there are very few if any of the class of RC Griffith, GA Thomas, JH Blake, HG Cole, EG Sergeant, and many others to say nothing of the younger recruits , W.Winter and RHV Scott.”

From the 1949 British Chess Magazine (written by RN Coles) we have this :

JH Blake is Ninety

After an absence of ten years I looked in recently on the Kingston and Thames Valley Chess Club. There were many new faces and a number of familiar ones, among the latter one of rosy countenance, trim beard and twinkling eyes, none other than JH Blake, more vigorous than ever and attaining his 90th birthday on the 3rd February.

Twenty years ago in this same club I (RN Coles) was learning the game, now middle age approaches. Blake was an elderly man in those days, who had retired from all competitive play because of the strain it imposed; now, so far from showing the weight of years, he is back in competitive chess again. He won the club championship last year and is in a fair way to repeating his victory this year. Of all the ‘Grand Old Men’ of chess, few have still been champions in their 90th year.

Older readers of the BCM will remember him as their Games Editor for many years, but few memories will cover the whole series of his successes beginning with a 1st at Stamford in 1887. Even 1922 must seem a distant year to the generation of today. That was the year that Maroczy and Kostic were invited to Weston-super-Mare to meet such rising young English masters as FD Yates and Sir George Thomas. And the first prize amongst those talented players was won by JH Blake, who had been born just when Morphy returned to England after his Paris Victory over Anderssen!

read more on britishchessnews.com

Dec 14, 2016

London Chess Classic round 5: Mickey Adams wins

8th London Chess Classic  >>> LIVE coverage

Mickey Adams took full advantage of a Veselin Topalov in full tilt mode to score the only win of Round 5 of the London Chess Classic. That game featured some brilliant attacking chess, but the most memorable encounter of the day was perhaps the 6-hour epic in which Hikaru Nakamura came within a whisker of beating his third former World Champion in a row. Vladimir Kramnik walked a tightrope and found a beautiful stalemate trick to save the day.


Mickey was keeping his feet firmly on the ground: I’m happy I won a game because that wasn’t something I was at all sure about. Plenty of tough games to come!


On Thursday Wesley has Black against Topalov, while Nakamura is Black against Caruana. Adams will also face a true test with Black, against Kramnik. Tune in from 17:00 CET for all the Round 6 action.

8th London Chess Classic LIVE coverage


Mapping your Chess Progress: A Guide to Chess Rising Stars Courses

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How to Use Chess Rising Stars Courses to Improve Your Chess

Our comprehensive chess courses serve as the roadmap to chess mastery. Whether you’re a junior or adult improver, our expert coaches are here to guide you with the knowledge and support you will need.

Juniors – In-person

Chess Rising Stars London Academy is creating the ideal environment to help introduce the game to younger children, the Chelsea Chess Club for 5 to 7 year olds. Your child will discover the joys of learning chess in an interactive and enjoyable setting. We will work together on chess strategy and tactics plus associated skills such as sportsmanship, planning and focus. Moving forward, our main junior chess club, the Chelsea Chess Club is staffed by 4 expert coaches. The Chess Rising Stars team will ensure that children are grouped with those of a similar age and chess level. We also offer support to more experienced children who are intending to compete in chess tournaments and team matches.

WGM Andreea Navrotescu, Guest coach at the Chelsea Chess Club

Juniors – Online

The Wednesday Online Club is perfectly suited as an introduction to small-group chess lessons for less experienced children. We would recommend that children are already familiar with how the pieces move, check and checkmate but no further knowledge is required. The Friday and Sunday Online Clubs offer groups at Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced level. There is a new group exclusively for secondary school chess players aged 11-16 at the Friday Online Club. Chess is gaining popularity in this age range, with students even using it for their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award activity. In our invitational Elite Online Club, we work together on areas of strategy, tactics and mindset to build the confidence and skills necessary to compete beyond Chess Rising Stars. To support this development, there are regular guest coaching appearances from Grandmasters.

Registration is open for the CRS Christmas Online Tournament 2023

Adult Improvers

Our Adult Improvers Online Group Classes would be ideal for adult beginners or parents whose children are learning the game. We will work together on the fundamentals of chess strategy and tactics. You will have the chance to try out what you have learned in our private, friendly tournaments. We offer interactive and engaging private chess lessons online, delivered by our team of experienced coaches. The Chess Rising Stars teachers have been carefully selected and trained by WFM Maria Manelidou and are passionate about sharing their extensive chess knowledge and experience. If you are keen to compete in OTB or online tournaments, our coaches have supported adult students in their local leagues, tournaments and even internationally. We have helped students to exceed their rating goals by following our individual training plans.

What Next?

If you are embarking on a journey to enhance your chess skills, look no further than Chess Rising Stars courses, meticulously designed to cater to players of all ages and levels.
Aug 22, 2016

From this year’s British Championships

Michael Adams has been a member of the world’s elite for twenty odd years. Like Anand, Gelfand, Ivanchuk, and others he is a player who has turned 40 but refuses to go away. These days he often has to face opponents half his age. In the recently concluded British Championship Adams scored a stunning 10.0/11 points to take his fifth title. Manuel Weeks shows us some of the highlights from the event with training questions for you to solve.

After recently having a catch-up brunch with GM Gawain Jones, where he mentioned some of his games played in the recent finished British Championships, I ended playing through various games and finding some striking moments. I thought it might be interesting to share the views of the event from the armchair of a spectator.

How does an online chess spectator feel about watching a live event? Usually he wants to be entertained, see a beautiful sacrificial game, hopefully some games where an opening he himself plays is explained. Others want to see their favourite player win or maybe a breakthrough performance by the next rising star. I watched the recent British Championships with a mixture of emotions mainly guided by personal relationships through the fact that I knew most of the main participants.

The top seed was Michael Adams who has been a member of the world’s elite for 20 odd years now and is now defending what I call the “old guys” corner. The players who have turned 40 but refuse to go away, they still play at the top level and they still want to win. Anand, Gelfand, Ivanchuk and recent new members Kramnik and Svidler plus many others still fight successfully at the top level. To call them “veterans” seems a little unfair, but there are so many superb players at such young ages that a player of forty odd years can easily be double the age of many of his opponents. For myself and many others we grew up with these players, watched them from when they were kids, saw them progress into world class GMs in an era where computers were not yet so strong. In those days they could play a complicated game without some online spectator criticizing their play, “Anand could have won easily with 32.Nxe6!, How did he miss that!” The silicon monsters who never get tired, who never miss a tactic, who can jump from different positions without skipping a heartbeat, are not the most understanding of analysts.

The field still had other strong GMs like David Howell (above) and Gawain Jones (below) who both still dream of achieving permanent 2700 status and are still young enough to believe it can still happen. Behind them were a varied group of experienced GMs who have proved many times that they can be tough opponents for any player. All were hoping to test themselves at the highest level since opportunities to play 2700+ players are still rare for mere mortal grandmasters.

Adams once expressed the view that he didn’t mind the uprising of chess playing programs, since they often pointed out interesting ideas. But databases were allowing weaker players to play the openings virtually perfectly and for someone who is happy to draw with Black to another super GM, to have to change suddenly to try to win is not so easy! To go from round robins to open events means having to adjust your mindset and many strong players have struggled with this. As everyone with an interest in chess in the British Isles will already know, Michael Adams not only won this year’s British Championship with the huge score of 10/11, but even gained 11 valuable ratings points in the bargain to take him to number 23 in the world on the live rating table with a healthy looking 2738. Only two draws, to GMs Peter Wells and David Howell, in eleven rounds – not bad for an “old guy”!

The Bournemouth Pavilion where the competition took place

There were various subplots in the event, but for Australians there was special attention paid to our fellow countryman IM Justin Tan who had come over to the UK for an extended study plus chess playing journey of discovery. What do you do when you live in an extremely isolated country but still wish to become a chess grandmaster? For most it is simply taking the option of as many visits as possible to various strong events and then heading back to Australia. But Justin Tan decided to base himself in Europe, play as many strong events as possible, get as much high level coaching as possible and begin his quest for the coveted GM title. For someone who was not one of the absolute stars of his generation he is now around 2500 and gained his second GM norm in the British title event after various adventures, like needing to win his ninth round, drawing, needing to win his tenth round, then drawing, then needing to win his eleventh round after dropping the first two rounds for a nine game norm. It is this sort of calculations that GM hopefuls have to keep doing and then there is the small matter of actually winning over the board! Justin only had one loss in the event, to the steamroller who was Adams, and was an unbreakable wall against the other British GMs with draws with Howell, Jones, Arkell, Gormally and a good win over the ageless Mark Hebden. A well-deserved second GM norm for Justin Tan who continue to impress in the UK.