Keith Richardson Obituary

I am grateful to Peter Rust, the MCC’s captain for this tribute to Keith:

Keith Bevan Richardson was born in Nottingham in 1942. Keith excelled in chess from a very young age, winning the Nottingham County championship in 1959 and 1960. He participated in the 1962 British Junior (under 21) Championships where he won the championship. Next, he won the 1963 Durham county championship. He played for England Cricket U-19s whilst at Durham, where he read mathematics, and took part in Chess Olympiads in the 1960s.

The championship title enabled him to represent the country at the European Junior Championships at Gröningen in 1963, where he won a silver medal.
The most successful over-the-board tournament of his career was in 1968 when he came joint 7th in the 55th British Championship Tournament at Bristol, which was won by Jonathan Penrose. After that, he devoted much time to correspondence chess. He finished 3rd= in the World Correspondence Championships of 1975 and 1984. Keith was awarded the International Master Correspondence title in 1968. Before becoming a Grandmaster in 1975, Keith came second in the British Correspondence Chess Championship of 1964-5, and throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and early ‘80s, he was a member of the British teams at the Correspondence Chess Olympiad Finals. Keith was the first British citizen to become a correspondence grandmaster. He retired from international play in 2001.

Keith worked for many years for Barclays Bank and subsequently as a member at Derek Tidy and Partners LLP, until May 2008.

Well into his 70s – and still active in the Surrey Border Chess League – Keith was a life patron of the English Federation for Correspondence Chess. In 2015, he received the English Chess Federation’s President’s Award for services to chess. Apart from being a leading light in the Hamilton-Russell, he played for Surrey, and for Guildford II in the Four Nations chess league. He was still a strong player, representing England several times in Senior international team tournaments. Keith’s ELO rating in September 2016, was 1995 ELO points.

Keith, such a gentleman with his cheerfulness and kindness, made countless friends during his years representing M.C.C. at chess in the Hamilton-Russell Cup competition, some known from his earliest days in chess. Keith was participating in the 31e Festival International des Jeux at Cannes when he suffered a severe stroke, from which he did not recover, despite great support from his two sons, his wife Sandra, the Pasteur hospital in Nice and the Frimley hospital in Surrey.

Apart from those I have received as secretary of MCC Chess Society, many tributes to him are paid on :-

Henry Blank, one of our stalwarts, told me…

“Caroline and I spent a day walking with Keith in Bermuda, when he might otherwise have been on his own, as Sandra could not accompany him on this trip because she could not go 8 days without kidney dialysis. We could not fail to notice what a profoundly decent and modest individual he was. He pooh-poohed my suggestion that he was a dead ringer for Andy Williams and claimed that I was the first to make this comparison. He seemed dismayed when I mentioned that I was aware that he owned a Ferrari. He asked how I had found this out; the answer to that question is of less importance than what his question says of him as an individual.
Wind back a few years before that trip, when Keith made his first appearance at MCC chess club night. Our (then) organiser Michael Clappe asked me to give him a game or two to assess his strength. I lost two games to him but I reckon I was (and am) too poor a player to appreciate how good a player he was. My verdict to Michael was that he should play above Wil Ransome and me in our cup team. His results playing on board 1 or board 2 showed how good he was. He was possibly toying with me to spare my embarrassment.”


Keith Richardson has Passed Away

Keith Richardson passed away on 10 April and the Hamilton Russell website received a message from his son Ian:

Hello all,

You may have heard already that Keith (my dad) passed away on 10th April after suffering a stroke and seizures. His passing was peaceful and pain free.

For anyone who would like to say hello and pay respects the funeral and wake 3pm at Aldershot Crematorium [on 3 May] and then on to Camberley Heath Golf club.

Anyone who might like to contact directly my email is


Ian Richardson

I would like to add some notes about Keith. One of the delights of running the Hamilton Russell Cup is the wonderful people you meet, and I can honestly say that Keith was at the pinnacle of the community.

He was one of our friendliest, most helpful and most sporting, as well as strongest players.

A joy to deal with and a joy to play against – even though I lost all of our encounters!

I was not alone in being beaten by Keith. In the 2014/15 Hamilton Russell season, for example, he scored 7.5/8 on boards 2 and 3 for the MCC.

This Barclays web page has some background on Keith’s achievements, including becoming Britain’s first correspondence chess grandmaster.

To finish up with, here is a link to a beautiful game Keith played against the former British champion Peter Lee in the Knights’ Tour, where the time control was 30 minutes a side.

Danny Rosenbaum

Leonid Finkelstein

Many readers will know that Leonid Finkelstein passed away at the end of last year. Earlier this month Ray Keene published a fitting tribute in The Times, which can be seen in part at the end of this post (click on the image to expand).

Before that, two notes: firstly, you can find Leonid’s player profile on this website; secondly I am indebted to David Taylor of The Athenaeum who has kindly provided this interesting information, “The Hamilton Russell cup teams right up until shortly before Leonid’s death included no fewer than three active nonagenarians, the other two being Ben Hooberman of the Chelsea Arts Club, who coincidentally very recently won his game against the Athenaeum, and David Jones of the Oxford and Cambridge Club, a member of the formidable team that regularly battles it out with the RAC and MCC for the trophy. In recent memory, others who have turned out until close to or beyond their ninetieth birthday have been John Silvant (Hurlingham) and George Arthur (MCC). Indeed, there may be something in the air of Clubland which makes for a combination of longevity and continued chess: even after the loss of Leonid, the Athenaeum has recently fielded teams with players’ average age well into the seventies, and there are some notable achievements: Keith Richardson (MCC)  was one of the joint winners of the ECF President’s Award for Services to Chess 2015 and Roger Emerson (RAC) was a joint winner of the 2015 British Chess Championships Over 65 section.”

Times chess on Leonid

Hamilton-Russell regular Roger Emerson in fighting talk

The RAC’s Roger Emerson was the subject of much of Jon Speelman’s article at the weekend after Guildford’s win in the 4NCL.

According to Speelman’s excellent piece – reproduced below (to enlarge – click on it) – Roger donned a Kimono and brandished a samurai sword that proved instrumental in stirring his side on to victory.

roger emerson with samurai sword article

Players’ Profiles: Number 1 – Leonid Finkelstein

We intend to build up a collection of profiles of Hamilton-Russell players: short pieces that give us a flavour of the person concerned based on a simple questionnaire.

It is fitting that we should start this series with one of our most distinguished players, Leonid Finkelstein:

Tell us About Your Involvement In Chess

I started playing at six but in the 83 years since then, I have made very little progress. Still a club player, far from the strongest in the Athenaeum club chess team.  

Who is Your Favourite Chess Player?

Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov. His clear “transparent” style was unique in the history of chess  – until  the advent of  Magnus Carlsen.  Dr. Max Euwe said once that such moves as Smyslov plays anyone can make – but only Smyslov would win with them.  Is this not true for magic Magnus? 

What is Your Favourite Chess Book?

Life of a Chess Player, by GM Yuri Averbakh. Regrettably, this wonderful book of the oldest living grandmaster (born 1922) has not yet been translated from the Russian original. 

Anything To add?

Out of all the activities in my life (and I stress ALL) , I prefer playing chess.  

George Arthur has passed away

It is with great sadness that we report the loss of Hamilton-Russell regular George Arthur.

Peter Rust, Secretary of the M.C.C. Chess Society, kindly provided the following tribute:

“We are sad to announce the death of George Arthur, a long-standing  member of the Club who was in regular attendance at cricket matches and functions.  George represented the Club with some distinction at Chess where he was a regular team member. In addition, George was an active participant in the Bridge Society.

“A tribute from John Adams (former Club President of Welwyn Garden City Cricket Club) read “The very, very sad news of the death of George Arthur leaves us, I think, with a double loss. We have lost a true and delightful gentleman and we have also lost a link with the past. Everyone will have their favourite reminiscences of George depending perhaps, upon their age. You may recall him as a more than useful player; as a captain, particularly of the 3rd XI which he, in effect, founded; as an able, effective and extremely conscientious administrator both for the Club and for the DPSA; as an umpire; or perhaps just for his enthusiasm and encouragement; for the stories and the famous recitations; or, just for standing at the bar smiling and chatting… and being George. George was one of the first people I met when I joined the Club in 1971 and I remember thinking that here was a very nice man, a decent man… a “proper chap”. In the forty-odd years that have passed I have never had cause to revise that opinion. And I have never met anyone who thought differently. But I think there is something more. George was, of course, a link to the past: the history of the Club (obviously) but also to the way that the game was played in the past. I sensed that George loved cricket not just because it was an exciting test of skill, nor just because of the competitive element (no fading flower, George, he loved a close hard-fought competitive game) but because cricket – the cricket that George played – was a game of values, a game of sportsmanship and decency. Could anyone even imagine George claiming a catch that he didn’t take, or remaining at the crease when he’d snicked it behind? No. Or abusing an opponent or an official? Of course not. Why would anybody want to play sport like that? In losing George the Cricket Club has lost a great character, a great supporter and a great friend. It has also lost someone who exemplified and in a sense personified the spirit of the game.”

“David Longrigg also added a few words at the funeral:- “George was a prominent and long serving member of the MCC Chess Society. He had been a member of the Chess Club since its beginning, fourteen years ago. He was then in the first Chess team – a founder member – and played for the MCC against the other London clubs in the Hamilton-Russell League. He was an adventurous player, took his chess seriously, played with great concentration, and was difficult to beat. During one whole season, in fact, he was undefeated in the League. He always turned up for games when he said that he would, and was always on time, although he had further to travel much further than most other chess players. He played conscientiously and well on whatever board he was asked to play. His five minute chess, too, was very effective despite his advancing years (he was 89 years of age). Above all, he was such excellent company, not too despondent if he didn’t win and not boastful when he did.  We will remember George very fondly and the many enjoyable times we had together.”