Canadian GM Duncan Suttles (born 21 December 1945) retired from chess in the mid-1980s because, as he put it, “I had other interests: I became involved in stocks and in computer programming. I quit because I felt I had developed a satisfactory strategic understanding of the game and whatever improvement remained was in technique. This would require a lot of effort for minimal returns.”
Suttles was born in San Francisco but moved to Canada as a child. He learned to play at 15 and participated in his first Canadian championship in 1961. He represented Canada at the chess Olympiads from 1964 through 1984.
His early mentor was mathematician and master Elod Macskasy. In his early days Suttles belonged to a group of a group of strong young British Columbia masters mentored by the Elod Macskasy. Other members of this group from the late 1960s included Peter Biyiasas, Bruce Harper, Jonathan Berry, and Robert Zuk.
Living inVancouver, Suttles' heyday was in the 1960s and '70s. He attended the University of British Columbia and earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics, and began doctoral-level studies, but did not complete his PhD.
Suttles made his first appearance in the Closed Canadian Chess Championship in 1961 at the age of 15, and scored 3/11. In his second Closed at Winnipeg 1963 he scored 8½ out of 15 games then in 1964 he tied for 3rd–5th places in the 1964 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Toronto, and as the top junior, qualified for the 1965 Junior World Chess Championship. At the Junior World Championship, Barcelona 1965, played in a strong preliminary group which included the eventual winner Bojan Kurajica and could only score 1½/4, failing to advance to the finals but he did manage to win the 'B' final, ahead of Raymond Keene.
In the 1965 Canadian Championship, Suttles scored 8/11 and finished second, behind eight-time champion Daniel Yanofsky. As a dual Canadian-American citizen, Suttles was also eligible for the United States Championship, New York 1965–66, in which he finished last with 2½/11. Suttles represented Canada in the Interzonal at Sousse 1967, scoring 9½/21 for 15th place. In 1969 he won the Canadian Championship after a playoff match with Zvonko Vranesic. He also participated in the Interzonal level at Palma de Mallorca 1970, scoring 10/23 for a tied 15–16th place.
Suttles appeared at age 18 on the Canadian Olympiad team for Tel Aviv 1964, for the first of his eight selections, including six in a row, over a period of 20 years scoring a totla 49 wins, 30 losees and 43 draws for 57.8 percent. He also played board one for Canada on its bronze medal winning team at the 1971 Student Olympiad.
He earned the International Master title in 1967 at the Sousse Interzonal and achieved the Grandmaster title at San Antonio in 1972. Suttles tied for first in the U.S. Open Chess Championship at Chicago 1973, scoring 10/12 and defeating GM Walter Browne in the last round. He placed clear second in the 1974 Canadian Open Championship in Montreal with 9½/11, losing only to the winner Ljubomir Ljubojević.
He won the Western Canadian Open, Vancouver 1981, defeating Tony Miles and Yasser Seirawan in the final two rounds. He won his final Canadian event, the 1984 Vancouver Futurity.
While taking a break from OTB play he won a high level correspondence chess tournament, the Heilimo Memorial, played from 1978–1981 and was awarded the Correspondence GM title.
Suttles was influenced by Nimzovich and became well known due to his preference for hypermodern openings and became the world's leading advocate of the Modern Defense in the mid-1960s and demonstrated that it was a playable defense. As White, Suttles favored 1.e4 and the Closed Variation against the Sicilian Defence and the Vienna Game after 1.e4 e5. He occasionally played the English Opening as well. By the early 1970s, he was frequently opening with 1.g3 as White, aiming for a reversed Modern Defense. I remember seeing one of his games in the British Chess Magazine where they had labeled one of his rather bizarre openings as “Suttleana.”
A three volume book, Chess on the Edge, was published in 2008. The book was published by the Chess'n Math Association. FM Bruce Harper, one of Suttles' students, led the effort, with assistance from GM Yasser Seirawan, Dutch IM Gerard Welling, and GMC Jonathan Berry.