The Short but Extraordinary Chess Career Of Malcolm Barker. Part One.

The Short but Extraordinary Chess Career Of Malcolm Barker. Part One.

| 44

At the age of 17, Malcolm Barker had been the British 'Boys' - i.e. under 18 - champion, three times running,  and the runner up in what is now recognized as the first World Junior - Under 20 - Championship.

Then, apart from one event a couple of years later, he had given up chess altogether. Quite a story, and a huge loss for chess - not just British chess! 

I understand that he is almost certainly still alive, but despite my best efforts, I have been unable to locate him - his last findable address - in Chalfont St. Giles - a town also known in chess circles as the long time home of 'Harry' Golombek - was sold a few years ago, and I have so far been unable to find another.

Still working on it, and very much a case of 'help wanted'!

Those who have helped - hugely - with these articles are too numerous to list individually, and I just hope that my putting it all together will be thanks enough.

This part is mainly material 'for the record', so to speak - part two should be more 'entertaining'.

So let us begin!!

Born in April 1934 - I can get no more exact than that at the moment, so if anyone can search the ancestry sites, it would be appreciated - Malcolm Neil Barker spent most of his short chess career at a school that I know well, with a chess heritage that includes Hugh Alexander and Tony Miles, amongst a number of fine players. King Edward's. I myself played 2 matches against them, back in the day!

Luckily the school has it's 'Chronicle' from Barker's time there, available on line, and I will quote from it as we go along.

The British Boys Championship traditionally took place at Hastings during the Easter Holidays.

In 1949, Barker went there as a champion in his own right. Warwickshire - which included Birmingham - Junior Champion. Birmingham Daily Gazette - BDG of 18/04/1949.

A couple of days earlier - on the 14th - is the earliest mention of Barker that I have.

The Hastings and St. Leonards Observer - HLO - gives this. 7/04/1949.

The extraordinary chessscotland has the group photo of the event. Reproduced with thanks.

That statement is incorrect! The boy holding the shield is not Malcolm Barker - it is one of the Sussex players.  Barker is the second player to his right ( i.e. left as you view the picture! This is like being a snooker commentator!) with his head down, I think! 

It also has the game between Barker and Jackson - one of the very few Barker games that I have been able to find, plus a nice photo of the young Jackson.

The picture. Jackson on the right - in a kilt - from the 1946 Scottish Boys Championship.

All of which leads us to some other stuff!!

The 'Sports Argus' was a Midlands weekly sports newspaper - printed on pink paper, if I remember rightly! Compulsory reading for the young Simaginfan, All sorts of great stuff in there. After Barker's 1949 win, it had a very short,  but useful, article, 30/04/1949.

So, we have an address to work with, plus the other facts. Nice! 

I know Salisbury Road Moseley well - it is a major road in South Birmingham. The house is around 10 minutes walk from Edgbaston Cricket Ground, and perhaps - these days - a 25 minute drive to King Edward's School. So I went up to find it.

A pretty substantial house - Moseley was quite an affluent area back then. It is large enough that it has since been converted in to 5 flats.

  With that information Richard James was kind enough to find a few details and post them on the english chess forums site.

Barker's success was noted in the King Edward's School Chronicle - KESC - but the chess report is amusing! It almost seems to see his achievement as a footnote!

The June 1949 issue was a little more enthusiastic.

KESC. 06.1949.

The next year - 1950 - he was to play in two events over the Easter period.

Firstly, The Birmingham Easter Congress played host to the first international tournament for 'Boys', i.e. those under the age of twenty. The event was conceived and organised by my old friend 'Ritson' - W. Ritson Morry.

As you will see in part two of this marathon, Barker seems to have treated the event as a warm up for his defencee of the British Boys title.

The indefatigable researcher of chess games A.J. Gillam published a book containing that event, and the 1951 World Junior Championship, from which I take the table.

( Interesting to see - amongst others - the name of an old sparring partner of mine, Theo Grove. )

We have one game of his from the event.

Then it was off to Hastings to defend his title.

The Gloucester Echo - 11.03.1950 was the first to publish something. 

Gloucs.Echo 11,03.50.


The Birmingham Daily Gazette kept it's readers informed, along with a nice photo of K.Lloyd.


In the end, Barker managed to defend his title.

HLO 22/4/1950, has a wonderful report, with 2 photos, buut sadly the copy I have been able to find is a mess. If anyone has a clearer copy, please let me know!

The following week - 29/04/1950 has more - again equally illegible!!

If anyone has the tech skills to clean this stuff up, I would be glad of the help.

 Dundee Courier. 21/04/1950.

O.K..  The next year was to be quite a momentous one for Barker as a  chess player, and I will get there in part two.