A.J.Mestel. Not Your Ordinary Grandmaster.

A.J.Mestel. Not Your Ordinary Grandmaster.

| 25

A few days ago, in a post here I mentioned Jonathan Mestel.

As the name will mean less than nothing to most of you, I have quickly thrown some stuff together for you to enjoy. sadly real life stuff means that a full article is out of the question, but hopefully I can give you a brief glimpse of a wonderful player, and thoroughly remarkable man.

You can get a small insight into the man via wikipedia, for example.

Far too clever to waste his life playing chess, he gave it up to go and do far more important things, but I shall just take a quick look at Mestel the chessplayer. Unusually, you will find aa lot of games where the subject of an article plays Black.

A huge talent, he was the first player to become a Grandmaster in both o.b. chess (the title meant something in those days)  and also problem solving, in which he became World Champion.

He is a player that I grew up in the game studying. My very first non-club tournament was in a junior section of one of his earliest events, way back in 1975. The names of the players in the main event meant very little to me at the time, and I didn't understand the chess!!

By  that time he was already the World Cadet Champion, winning this wonderful game along the way.

From that event back in 1975.

Shortly afterwards he came third in the World Junior Championship - the dragon was put on hold - he had a surprise weapon prepared!

In 1976 he graduated from talented junior to major player in one giant, stunning leap. The 1976 British Championships saw him smash the existing records. The table tells the story.


Nine straight wins before he took his foot off the gas.

The big game came in round 4, against the favorite - the enigma that was the late Tony Miles. I can imagine the big black cloud of Milesian grumpiness that decended over Portsmouth after this one!

A bit of fun, against a major expert in Bird's Opening.

Mestel had a big influence on my own chess - it was his games that inspired me to take up the dragon. This was the Karpov era, where people were playing dull stuff. My contemporaries, brought up on Fischer's 'sac-sac-mate' idea were baffled! A few of games that will show the attraction.

John Nunn - like Mestel a Grandmaster both o.b. and in the problem World, mathematician, and both a nice guy and and incredibly clever one.

The next game was studied by Dragon players everywhere - two experts on the opening fighting it out. Mestel won in the end.

A complex win over  Nigel Short.

To finish. Mestel was a huge factor in the successes of the England team of the time. He played Black most of the time, and won games! In things like the Olympiad, with small teams, wins with Black are gold dust.


Thessalonika 1984 medal winners. Speelman, Nunn, Chandler, Mestel, Watson and Short.

In addition to his various medals, Mestel also bagged an Olympiad Brilliancy Prize. I shall give it without notes, so that hopefully you will spend some time on it for yourselves!

My final offering was in a match that was basically a medal decider. It is a magnificent game, and, despite my love of the Dragon, my favorite Mestel game.