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Friday, December 26, 2014

Peter H. Clarke

    It was with sadness that a couple of days ago I learned of the death of British FM Peter H. Clarke (18 Mar 1933 – 11 Dec 2014). Back in the 1960's chess books were hard to come by and I bought a lot of them from England and also subscribed to the British Chess Magazine and so a lot of British players, Clarke included, were well-known to me. Best remembered as biographer to Tahl and to Petrosian, in the late 1950s and early sixties he was the number two player in England behind Jonathan Penrose and ahead of CHO'D Alexander and Harry Golombek. Clarke was also a correspondence Grandmaster before engines ruined the title.
     At the British Championships he finished second on his first appearance and tied for second on five occasions, appearing, almost without a break for thirty years in a run that ended in 1982. He represented England in eight Olympiads, playing on top board in 1966. Clarke was the author of numerous chess books and he also translated many books into English. His Mikhail Tal’s Best Games of Chess, 1951 – 1960 was one of my early favorites. For his obituary in the British Chess Magazine see HERE
     His opponent in this game was Bernardo Wexler (April 1, 1925 – 1992), an Argentine master. Wexler was born to Jewish parents in Bucharest, Romania and they emigrated to Argentina when he was seven years old. His long and successful South American chess career began after World War II and he was awarded the IM title in 1959. The game ends in a flurry of errors on both sides, but that in no way detracts from Clarke's fine attack initiated at move 21. It's games like this that are typical of those played by your average master and not those near perfect ones you usually see in print.

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