Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
John Upham
Posts: 5155
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by John Upham » Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:35 am

Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

For many years he was the strongest British player.

He worked alongside other notable chess players and Alan Turing at Bletchley Park during the second world war and continued his work with a senior role at GCHQ in Cheltenham for a long time after (preventing him from travelling outside of Churchill's Iron Curtain) until his death.


3f30d23d8f.jpg
IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)
3f30d23d8f.jpg (33.67 KiB) Viewed 1143 times
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

John Upham
Posts: 5155
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by John Upham » Mon Feb 15, 2021 12:55 pm

Thanks to Jon D'Souza-Eva I have updated the article with details of Hugh's Son Michael, his wife

and Hugh's Grandson, Conel. :D
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

Tim Harding
Posts: 2001
Joined: Sat Oct 23, 2010 8:46 pm
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Tim Harding » Mon Feb 15, 2021 5:39 pm

Correspondence chess is only mentioned briefly in the article. CHO'D took up international postal chess in 1963 playing board 3 for the BCCA "Socrates" team in the Eberhardt Wilhelm Cup, a European team event. He annotated his first two games to finish in the November 1964 issue of the BCCA Magazine, Correspondence Chess, one of which is in my history of British CC.
He had in fact taken board 2 for GB against the USA in the 1,000 board match which began in 1935 but was never completed. Alexander's opponent was Fred Reinfeld (according to Chess Magazine) but I have never seen a result and don't know if they actually played many moves.
Starting in 1964 Alexander played in a GB-USSR postal match, with a draw and a loss against Yudovich.

In 1965 he started CC Olympiad 6 preliminaries on board 3 in section 1 for GB and scored 3 wins and 5 draws; he was the only player not to lose to M. Ali Farboud of Iran, the country which won the group. (Farboud played on the Iranian team in the 1962 and 1964 FIDE olympiads.) I have only found two of Alexander's games from this tournament.

Next GB played in the preliminaries (section 3) of the 7th correspondence olympiad (starting 1968) with a much stronger team which won its group. Alexander played board 2 below Adrian Hollis.
His score of 6 wins and one draw earned him the ICCF international master title. I have only found three of his games from this event.

In 1972 Alexander started, again on board 2, in the olympiad final but had only completed one or two of his games when he died, and the unfinished games were taken over by Ken Messere who found it hard (since he was given no notes) to work out what Hugh had planned in various complicated middle game positions.

Alexander also played most years for Gloucestershire in the Counties and District correspondence tournament run (then) by the BCF and my book also includes a win against Peter Clarke from that event.
It is a pity that more of Alexander's CC games are not known. I have only 17 plus a few that Messere completed.
Tim Harding
Historian and FIDE Arbiter

Author of 'Steinitz in London,' British Chess Literature to 1914', 'Joseph Henry Blackburne: A Chess Biography', and 'Eminent Victorian Chess Players'
http://www.chessmail.com

Kevin Thurlow
Posts: 4308
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 12:28 pm

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Mon Feb 15, 2021 5:51 pm

"Correspondence chess is only mentioned briefly in the article."

He was a bit of a late convert, saying in 1947 that he didn't like it. Happily, he changed his mind later.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 8412
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:04 pm

Tim Harding wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 5:39 pm
In 1965 he started CC Olympiad 6 preliminaries on board 3 in section 1 for GB and scored 3 wins and 5 draws; he was the only player not to lose to M. Ali Farboud of Iran, the country which won the group. (Farboud played on the Iranian team in the 1962 and 1964 FIDE olympiads.)
Oh that's interesting, I'd like to know more about that. (Incidentally I can find an M Ali Farboud listed here, though the purpose and status of the list are obscure to me.)
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Ian Thompson
Posts: 2719
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2008 4:31 pm
Location: Awbridge, Hampshire

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Ian Thompson » Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:37 pm

JustinHorton wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 6:04 pm
(Incidentally I can find an M Ali Farboud listed here, though the purpose and status of the list are obscure to me.)
It's the player database that goes with https://database.chessbase.com/. It's at least as recent as including Wijk aan Zee results.

User avatar
JustinHorton
Posts: 8412
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2008 10:06 am
Location: Somewhere you're not

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by JustinHorton » Mon Feb 15, 2021 7:20 pm

I don't want to overuse a thread about Hugh Alexander for a different player, but I am really intrigued to learn of an Iranian correspondence player from the Sixties who seems to have been pretty good and who may still be with us.
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

lostontime.blogspot.com

Nick Grey
Posts: 1760
Joined: Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:16 am

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Nick Grey » Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:09 pm

I suspect that Iranian correspondence player is no longer with us. Hugh passed away 47 years ago. FIDE olympiads were almost 60 years ago.

User avatar
Matt Mackenzie
Posts: 3650
Joined: Tue Mar 31, 2009 11:51 pm
Location: Millom, Cumbria

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Mon Feb 15, 2021 10:10 pm

Its easy to "suspect", but the previous poster was asking if there was any actual information. Not unreasonably IMO.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

John Upham
Posts: 5155
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2007 10:29 am
Location: Cove, Hampshire, England.
Contact:

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by John Upham » Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:12 am

Hugh's grandson Conel contacted me yesterday and kindly provided detailed insights into his grandfather.

The article has been revised with the following:

I have incorporated the text mentioned above plus an anonymous tribute from GCHQ plus Tim's correspondence chess details.

I have included a correspondence game between Hugh and Peter Clarke that Tim references in his post.

See

https://britishchessnews.com/2020/02/15 ... 5-ii-1974/ :D
British Chess News : britishchessnews.com
Twitter: @BritishChess
Facebook: facebook.com/groups/britishchess :D

User avatar
Gerard Killoran
Posts: 570
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:51 am
Contact:

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Gerard Killoran » Tue Feb 16, 2021 5:00 pm

John Upham wrote:
Tue Feb 16, 2021 11:12 am
Hugh's grandson Conel contacted me yesterday and kindly provided detailed insights into his grandfather.

The article has been revised with the following:

I have incorporated the text mentioned above plus an anonymous tribute from GCHQ plus Tim's correspondence chess details.

I have included a correspondence game between Hugh and Peter Clarke that Tim references in his post.

See

https://britishchessnews.com/2020/02/15 ... 5-ii-1974/ :D
There are two further reminiscences by Milner-Barry of Alexander online. One recently declassified.

https://cryptocellar.org/Alexander/mbarry1.pdf

https://www.nsa.gov/Portals/70/document ... o_hugh.pdf

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7627
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Feb 17, 2021 10:56 pm

Thanks for those Gerard.

From the first one (previously published), there is this in relation to his awards in the honours system (OBE, CBE, CMG):
If it had been possible within the conventions I believe he would have received still higher recognition.
Does anyone know what conventions are being referred to here?

Really nice closing paragraph about his and his friends' attitude towards his death.

User avatar
Christopher Kreuzer
Posts: 7627
Joined: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:34 am
Location: London

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Feb 17, 2021 11:39 pm

From the second one, does anyone know who the "S. Adler" is who defeated Alexander in the 1930 Varsity match?

A nice mention of several mathematicians:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edensor_Littlewood
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Welchman

Lovely description of the chess players travelling to Buenos Aires:
Stuart Milner-Barry wrote:This was, as may be imagined, a remarkable menagerie of chess players, who in those days (long before the improvement in the status of chess as a profession) were much more Bohemian and less respectably bourgeois than they have since become. Hugh got a great deal of amusement out of witnessing my reaction to this motley gathering...
And this about wartime Bletchley code-breaking:
Stuart Milner-Barry wrote: Both for Hugh and myself it was rather like playing a tournament game (sometimes several games) every day for 5-1/2 years.
Same reference as before to some reason for not being proposed for a Knighthood:
Stuart Milner-Barry wrote:if the Foreign and Commonwealth Office could have recommended him for Knighthood they would, I believe, have been happy to do it.
(Remember that Milner-Barry himself was knighted in 1975.)

One other thing I am unsure about is the reference to a "bachelor existence" for Alexander though the Wikipedia article refers to his marriage in 1934 and two children.

Ah, found the answer here (Dictionary of Irish Biography):

https://dib.cambridge.org/viewReadPage. ... leId=a0094
After the war they separated, Enid returning to Australia with their younger son, Patrick.
The biographical dictionaries cover the older son (Michael) who became a diplomat. The younger son became a poet. Both have Wikipedia articles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_A ... (diplomat)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patrick_Alexander_(poet)

I wonder how much contact Alexander had with the younger son - the older son would have been about 12 at the time of the separation and was raised in Ireland and the UK at what I think were boarding schools. Of course, Milner-Barry stayed silent on this matter, apart from mention of grandchildren ("he was attached to his family and took a lively interest in his grandchildren") and maybe that is best.

Has more been published anywhere about the European Team Tournament at Bath in 1973? Nice mentions of David Anderton there.

Roger de Coverly
Posts: 19349
Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 2:51 pm

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by Roger de Coverly » Thu Feb 18, 2021 12:05 am

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 11:39 pm

Has more been published anywhere about the European Team Tournament at Bath in 1973? Nice mentions of David Anderton there.
There was a Batsford book on the event.

Many older members of the forum were probably there as spectators and the sell out nature of the spectator interest was mentioned. One personal memory apart from the crowds was walking through the streets of Bath and passing someone who looked vaguely like Petrosian or another Soviet GM only realise that it was they when seeing them at the venue.

The BCF managed to clash the Euro Tournament with the Counties Championship final. Many of what would have been the Cambridge team were either stewards in Bath or playing in the England team. As a consequence the final was conceded when neither the opposing team (Essex) nor the BCF would agree to a rearranged date.

User avatar
John Clarke
Posts: 517
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2011 1:07 pm

Re: Remembering IM Hugh Alexander CMG CBE (19-iv-1909 15-ii-1974)

Post by John Clarke » Thu Feb 18, 2021 4:01 am

Regarding Alexander's non-knighthood, I suspect this was to do with the Civil Service grades of the time.

For Permanent Secretaries (the very top grade, like the fictional Sir Humphrey Appleby), the title came with the job. Next level down there were Deputy Secretaries. Some of them might be knighted at or shortly before retirement, but certainly not all, and never while they had more than a few weeks still to serve.

Below them again came Under-Secretaries, which was the grade Milner-Barry reached. His case however was unusual. After formally retiring at that level he was kept on in the service to administer the honours system. I believe it was his work in that role that scored him the "K". And he wasn't made an ordinary old knight bachelor like most of them. He became a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (KCVO), a fairly uncommon distinction, awarded for personal service in some capacity to the sovereign.

I don't know what grade or level Alexander got to, but I doubt if it was any higher than the equivalent of Under-Secretary, which, as suggested above, does not as a rule bring one into automatic consideration for a knighthood.

The Civil Service as a whole was in those days very status-conscious, with rigid rules about what size office you were entitled to at each level, whether it was carpeted, what sort of furniture, even the pictures on the walls. They'd have been even more picky about what honours were appropriate, for fear of "setting a bad precedent".
"The chess-board is the world ..... the player on the other side is hidden from us ..... he never overlooks a mistake, or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance."
(He doesn't let you resign and start again, either.)

Post Reply