Raymond Keene

Adrian Hollis

Adrian, who died earlier this year, was both an Oxford classicist from Keble College and a Correspondence Chess Grandmaster. One of the outstanding personalities of British chess, he won the UK Correspondence Chess Championship three times, either outright or shared. But his superlative achievement was to win a world title. From 1982 to 1987 he represented Great Britain in the 9th Correspondence Olympiad, winning the World Championship ahead of the USSR, Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia.
Chess is usually played over the board, whereas correspondence players deliberate at leisure over their moves, then transmit them by post to the opponent. Such slow-motion games can last years or more, and in some cases chess by mail has resulted in spectacular misunderstandings. On one occasion, during a period of heightened global tension, a correspondence player in Germany posed the question to his opposite number: ‘Wieviele Züge?’ which in the chess context translates as ‘How many moves?’ However, Züge also means ‘trains’. The result was an unwelcome visit to the correspondence player from the German security forces.
In spite of his prowess at postal chess, Hollis was also a demon tactician when it came to regular tournament chess.
Hartston-Hollis: Paignton 1966; Reti Opening
1 g3 Nf6 2 Bg2 d5 3 Nf3 g6 4 b4 This set-up, a form of the Reti, has been championed by, amongst others, Vassily Smyslov. 4 … Bg7 5 Bb2 0-0 6 0-0 a5 7 b5 c5 8 d3 b6 9 c4 e6 Black decides to create a pawn centre without worrying if the pawns will end up hanging. 10 Qc2 Bb7 11 Nbd2 Nbd7 (see diagram 1) 12 e3 White has to prevent … d4 and … e5. 12 … Qc7 13 Rad1 Hartston later preferred 13 Rac1. 13 … Rad8 14 Qb1 e5 Somewhat risky, but the only way to make progress.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in