Here is the second in our Captain’s Corner series. This time featuring Peter Lee of The Athenaeum:
“Tell us a little about your Club”
The Athenaeum, on the corner of Pall Mall and Waterloo Place, was founded in 1824. The building was designed by Decimus Burton, who was only 24 when given the commission. The Club was founded as a meeting place for men who enjoy the life of the mind. Over the years the membership criteria have been widened and now extend to persons of attainment or promise in any field of an intellectual or artistic nature and of substantial value to the community. Today many Members are professionals concerned with science, engineering or medicine, and the clergy, lawyers, writers, artists, civil servants are heavily represented, with some from business or politics. Over 50 Members have won a Nobel Prize.
“About your Chess Circle”
Although some games are played between Club Members, this is not organized on any regular basis. The main function of the Chess Circle is to play in the Hamilton-Russell Cup matches and in the associated friendly matches and speed chess tournament.
“What about your own involvement with chess”
I was a very serious player up to about age 30, during which time I won the British Championship in 1965, aged 21, and played regularly in the British team, playing in the 1966, 1968 and 1970 Olympiads. The strongest players I played (lost to) were Boris Spassky, Viktor Korchnoi and Paul Keres. I gave up for 15 or more years, and then started playing again (though not on a serious basis) when I joined the Athenaeum somewhat over 20 years ago. I play no other chess, though I follow games in top tournaments.
“Who is your favourite chess player?”
Bobby Fischer, followed by Gary Kasparov, both of whom I met.
“Favourite chess book/DVD or video?”
My System by Aron Nimzowitsch made a big impression when I was a teenager.
“Anything to add? Perhaps some trivia about yourself”
Bridge is my serious hobby, which I have played for over 50 years. I have won a number of national tournaments, including the Gold Cup twice, aged 60 and 68. I am still working, aged 69, as a director of a statistical consultancy. I have published over 200 papers in journals, mainly on tobacco and health.