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Tony Miles

The very sad news of the death of Tony Miles was announced yesterday.

Tony Miles
Photo - John Henderson

Tony was Britain's first grandmaster and one of the world's top players for many years. He also was a great supporter of the 4NCL and was the mainstay of the successful Slough team that won the title three times.

Message from the Miles family

Tony's family - particularly his Aunt Dev and cousin Pam - would like to thank all chess enthusiasts who either attended the funeral or sent messages of condolence since his tragic death. They are delighted that he made so many good friends all over the world.

Saturday 24th November 2001
Moat House Grand, Birmingham - 2 p.m.

Since our September weekend we have lost two of our colleagues.

Robin Pearce was, for a number of years, captain of Kings Head. A captain's lot, especially in a major league such as the 4NCL, is never easy. Yet during the years I have been connected with the League, I cannot recall Kings Head defaulting even a single board. All captains present in the room will know that was a fine achievement for any captain.

This is the first major chess event in England since the death of Tony Miles. We have two members of Tony’s family with us this afternoon. The 4NCL is an event in which Tony was a major player and captain of three-times champions Slough. We are in Tony's home city of Birmingham. All these factors combine to make this the fitting occasion for our tribute.

Tony Miles tribute
Photo - John Henderson

Mount Everest has been climbed by many many people, but it is the names of Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa Tensing which are remembered, because they were the first. So with Tony. He was the first British Grandmaster, and that is how I believe the chess community will remember him. Tony showed what was possible. Others followed.

Richard Furness
Photo - John Henderson

Please join me as we observe a minute's silence in memory of both Robin and Tony.

Richard Furness (4NCL Chief Arbiter)

Funeral arrangements

From Malcolm Hunt

Tony Miles's body will be cremated at Lodge Hill Crematorium, Selly Oak, Birmingham (4/5 miles west of city centre - allow 20/30 minutes by cab from New St Station) at 10.30a.m. on Friday 23rd November 2001.

It was the only time available on the Friday and apologies for the early hour but this was felt to be the best day for those attending 4NCL.

All friends of Tony are invited to attend the service which will be followed by a buffet at Harborne Golf Club, Tennal Road, Harborne, Birmingham (2 miles from the Crematorium). For catering purposes will those intending to come let me know at MalcolmAHunt@aol.com.

I am also looking for pallbearers on the day and volunteers are invited to contact me.

Whilst flowers are welcome on Friday, any donations are to be to either The Heart Foundation or The Alzheimers Society via:

W H Scott & Son
141 Barnes Hill

Directions - A38 out of Birmingham (Bristol Road) towards Selly Oak. At Selly Oak there are a double set of traffic lights, continue on and take the second road on your right (Weoley Park Road). The crematorium is at the end of this road.

There is a "Tribute and Memories" page at the Midlands Chess web site.

Message from Paul Littlewood

Dear All,

I was shocked to hear of the death of Tony Miles yesterday and just wanted to draw your attention to it in case you had not heard.

I have many happy memories of Tony partly because he has the rare distinction of losing two of the most beautiful games I have been involved with; one to my father and one to me.

Needless to say he has gained his revenge many times over, as he was ruthless in refuting the Littlewoods' risky style of play.

I first came across him playing as a spotty teenager in a Warwicks vs. Lancashire county match when he was beaten by Mike Price.

However he improved rapidly and I will never forget that he was the first British Grandmaster. This set the standard for the many who followed and so we all owe him a great deal.

For your further information I have received the following from Malcolm Hunt who was a personal friend:

"Briefly, I had a beer (or several!) with him on Saturday night and returned him home in good spirits. I went to pick him up last night to go to a local bridge club but his house was locked up and his car outside. Cutting a long story short neighbours and I contacted the police who broke in and found him collapsed in his bedroom.

Whilst there will be a post mortem I have little doubt that the cause will be attributed to the diabetes diagnosed some 2/3 years ago.

Others are much better qualified than me to describe his contribution to British chess but, having been at school with him, he has simply been one of my best and most loyal friends for many years. What is probably not so well known is the enormous assistance he has given to hundreds of young players via the Checkmate Club run by Mike Fox. Recent proteges include Ameet Ghasi, Sabrina Chevannes and Li Wu. Indeed the Slough 4NCL team is increasingly composed of the best young juniors whom he wanted to help develop.

I am currently helping the family with arrangements and we are seeking his accountant and solicitor - any clues would be gratefully received.


Malcolm Hunt"

He will be sorely missed!

Paul Littlewood (4NCL Chairman)

The following game from the Slough vs. Wood Green match won the 4NCL "Game of the Year" prize for the 2000/01 season. The notes are based on Tony's comments in Informator 79.

White: Alexander Baburin
Black: Tony Miles

1. d4 e6 2. c4 b6

The English Defence, so-called because a number of leading English players revitalised it in the mid 1970s. Tony was its most loyal advocate and continued to play it throughout his career.

3. a3?!

Tony rather provocatively gave this move a dubious mark on the grounds that it weakens the b3 square. We'll see the relevance of this later in the game.

3... g6

Baburin vs. Miles

Tony's speciality - a flexible move that prepares the bishop fianchetto and the possibility of dismantling a big White pawn centre with the pawn break ...f5.

4. Nc3 Bg7 5. e4 Ne7 6. Nf3

Tony's defensive system with 3... g6 was adopted by others, for example the game Piket-Short, Batumi 1999, saw the more aggressive 6. f4 here.

6... Bb7 7. Bd3 d6

A new move, setting up a Hippopotamus formation. 7... d5 or 7... O-O had been seen before.

8. O-O Nd7 9. Re1

9. Be3 h6 10. d5!? was an alternative.

9... h6!? 10. h3 a6 11. Be3 g5 12. Rc1

If 12. d5 then 12... Ng6 and Black's control of e5 gives counterplay. White could have considered further expansion with 12. b4!?

12... c5

Striking at the dark squares. If 12... O-O then 13. b4 might follow, but 12... Ng6!? was again a possibility.

13. d5

Now if 13. b4 Black could play either 13... O-O or 13... cxd4!?

13... Ng6

Black's play against the dark squares, particularly e5 and f4, begins to take shape.

14. Bc2 Qe7 15. Qd2 O-O 16. Rcd1

White could have made a direct attempt to win the d6 pawn with 16. dxe6 fxe6 17. Red1. Tony would then have had the choice between 17... Nde5 18. Qxd6 Qxd6 19. Rxd6 Nxc4 or the more entertaining 17... Rxf3!? with ... Nh4, ... Nde5 and an attack to follow.

16... Nde5 17. Nxe5 Bxe5 18. Bd3

White decides to reroute the bishop to f1 to bolster his kingside and keep an eye on a possible ... b5 break. There is no easy way to keep Black out of the f4 square as 18. g3 Qf6 prepares a possible ... Nf4.

18... Qf6!?

Baburin vs. Miles

Black's attack is brewing nicely, even though he is about to lose a pawn on the queen's wing.

19. Na4 Rab8 20. Nxb6 Bc8

Another way was 20... Bc6!? 21. dxc6 Rxb6 with an unclear position.

21. Na4

Whatever White does, Black will get good play for his pawn. For example, 21. Nxc8 Rxb2 22. Qa5 Rxc8 23. Qxa6 Rcb8 with ... Bd4 and ... Nf4 as follow ups.

21... Bd7 22. Nc3 Rb3!

Tony exploits White's mistake on move 3 and takes advantage of the weak b3 square! The rook's influence is not just confined to the queenside.

23. Rb1 Rfb8 24. Nd1

If 24. dxe6 then 24... Bxe6.

24... exd5 25. cxd5

25. exd5? loses at once to 25... Rxd3! 26. Qxd3 Bf5 picking up the rook on b1.

25... Nf4

The final attack starts.

26. Bxf4

White really doesn't want to give up this bishop, but his choice is limited. If 26. Bc2 Nxg2! 27.Kxg2 Bxh3+ follows when 28. Kxh3 Qf3 is mate or 28. Kg1 Qf3 wins. And if instead 26. Bf1 then 26... Rxa3 wins the pawn back maintaining the advantage.

26... gxf4

This capture opens the g-file towards White's king. Black is clearly on top now.

27. Bc2

If 27. Bf1 then 27... Rxa3 again. But now comes a spectacular blow!

Baburin vs. Miles

27... Rxh3!

The rook sac wins by force.

28. gxh3 Kh8

Another way is 28... f3 29. Kh1 Qh4 30. Rg1+ Kh8 31. Rg3 Bxh3 and wins.

29. f3

The alternative 29. Kf1 requires an accurate response. Both 29... Bxh3+ 30. Ke2 f3+ 31. Kd3 Bd7 32. Kc4! and 29... f3 30. Re3 may allow White out. The correct reply is 29... Qh4! when 30. Ne3 (30. Ke2 f3+ mates) 30... Bb5+ 31. Bd3 Qxh3+ 32. Ke2 Qh5+ 33. f3 fxe3 wins.

29... Rg8+ 30. Kh1

After 30. Kf1, Tony gave 30... Bxh3+ 31. Ke2 Rg2+ 32. Nf2 Bd4 33. Rf1 Qh4.

30... Qh4

White resigns

Tony Miles bust
Photo - John Henderson

Division 1

Pride and Prejudice
Barbican 4NCL 1
White Rose 1
Guildford-A&DC 1
Cambridge Univ. 1
The ADs
Barbican 4NCL 2
Oxford 1
Pandora's Box Grantham
S. Wales Dragons
Guildford-A&DC 2
Poisoned Pawns 1
Jutes of Kent

Division 2

Sambuca Sharks
Warwickshire Select 1
e2e4.org.uk 1
Barbican 4NCL Youth
AMCA Dragons
Kings Head
Poisoned Pawns 2
Anglian Avengers
Wessex 1
Celtic Tigers 1
Bristol 1
White Rose 2
Brown Jack
Guildford-A&DC 3
FCA Solutions 1

Division 3

Rhyfelwyr Essyllwg
Sambuca Black Sheep
Cambridge Univ. 2
Wessex 2
Warwickshire Select 2
KJCA Kings
FCA Solutions 2
The Full Ponty
Sussex Smart Ctls.
e2e4.org.uk 2
Nottinghamshire 1
Nottinghamshire 2
Oxford 2
AMCA Rhinos
Braille Chess Assoc.
AMCA Hippos
Glos. Gambits
Bristol 2
KJCA Knights
Guernsey Mates
Bristol 3
e2e4.org.uk 3
Beauty and the Beasts
Celtic Tigers 2
Oxford 3
Guildford-A&DC 4
AMCA Cheetahs