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Friday, May 3, 2013

John Littlewood

    Littlewood (25 May 1931 – 16 September 2009) was one of England’s leading players for many years and won the British national senior champion in 2006. He was the best British attacking player of his generation during which time he notched up numerous grandmaster scalps. His 19 British championships spanned 50 years.
      His first big break was when he was invited to the British Chess Championship where he performed well and as a result was invited to participate in the Hastings tournament of 1961/62. It was in this tournament that he played his famous loss to Botvinnik. Littlewood started with a promising attack, but he missed the best continuation which enabled Botvinnik to turn the game around and defeat him. In the same tournament he defeated GM Arthur Bisguier in a vicious attack and after the game Bisguier asked, "What do you feed this guy on? Raw meat?"
      Littlewood was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire in 1931, the fourth of his eleven siblings. He did not start playing chess until he was 13 when he was introduced to the game by a friend. He kept on losing to his friend, so he went into the school library and checked out every single chess book and began studying tactics.
      At 16 he joined the local chess club and as he had not played many different opponents, he was surprised when he found he could beat everyone in the club which whetted his appetite for the game. While at Sheffield University he won three university tournaments and the Sheffield Championship. After graduating he entered the military service where he taught reading and writing. After completion of his service he worked as a French teacher.
      Littlewood played at two chess Olympiads, several Anglo-Dutch matches, and European and World Seniors. He was proud to have defeated the German GM Wolfgang Uhlmann on two occasions. Littlewood also managed the national blind chess team and for a while served as the Director of Junior Chess.
      He was the outright winner of the British Senior Chess Championship in 2006 and at age 77 finished equal first in 2008. Littlewood wrote a column called "Littlewood's Choice" for the English Chess Federation magazine. His brother Norman also played in four Olympiads, and his son Paul, an IM, won the British Championship in 1981.
      In the following game it is interesting to see how Littlewood whipped up an attack against Cafferty’s King with a Q and a R.

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