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

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

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And back with part three.

Most of  the material here consists of contributions sent to me by others.

Rather than try to manipulate things for chronological reasons, I have just 'run with the ball', so to speak, and then allowed Mr Barker to speak for himself. There is some wonderful material here!!

Firstly, last time I forgot to include the contribution of the wonderful @introuble2  - it was supposed to be included with the Barker - Asker game. He sent me Asker's report of the event from  Tidskrift for Schack vol.8. 1951, together with the transcript and a google translation which is usable. thanks my friend!

Back in part one I forgot to include a contribution kindly provided by @ddtru. It should have been included with Barry's ILN article.

Nope, I am not well organised and have a terrible memory!! Not great 'qualities' for doing this kind of stuff. Apologies to both for my carelessness are in order, and gladly made.

May 1950 CHESS.

After the world juniors, Barker played in a couple of events. Firstly the Glorney Cup, in 1951 and 52.

With thanks to the wonderful ChessScotland and Alistair McGowan.


Then there was a team event in Brussels, in 1953

Pictures to follow later.

This is a good time to add in the contribution of the great Leonard Barden, from ecforums. You may have to magnify the page - dots top right of screen-, or do the right click and save stuff. worth the effort.

A pioneer indeed, Mr Barden. Hopefully if any serious efforts to honour his achievements are forthcoming these three article will be of some small assistance. 

A quick look at the relevant volumes of the King Edward's School Chronicle archives from the period see Barker as 'School Captain' in both chess and tennis, which hints to the conflict of interests that he was experiencing at the time. i.e. finding the time for various leisure interests in combination with academic studies.

( Indeed, that was the reason for his not defending his British Boy's title in 1952. @ddtru has kindly sent me the relevant page from Barry Wood's 'Chess'. June 1952.

The KESC material.

KESC Jan 1953.

O.K. I will now hand you over to the man himself - still very much with us - who has kindly gone to a huge amount of time and effort in answering my humble request for help, and has my unwavering gratitude for doing so.

But first!! The other Thank You stuff and personal thoughts.

In the couple of years writing on this site, I had never attempted a project like this one,  where - other than the Gillam book and Fridrik Olafsson's articles - no one had even begun to scratch the surface. 

As an amateur with a job and a life, much has been left unexplored. For example I have not been through the weekly newspaper  chess columns in Birmingham and Staffordshire of the time, or explored foreign language sources. 

I have been amazed, humbled and genuinely gratified, by the huge help that I have received. I can not possibly mention everyone individually, but will make a note of thanks to Richard James - via ecforums - and Mr. Graham Kenyon Barker, without whom I would never have made contact with Malcolm Barker himself, and this 'Part Three' would not exist.

So - with my utmost respect and gratitude - I will hand you over to Malcolm Barker.The respect is 100% genuine. Quite a man! All words from here on are his own.

(Please respect the fact that the images at the end are his personal property, published here with his permission, and not to be used without his expressed consent under any pretence, and in any form, digital or printed. Thank you.)

So. Malcolm Barker in his own words and pictures.

I should mention that I was born in Birmingham - Selly Park to be exact -
on April 21st, 1934. When war broke out we evacuated ourselves to my
maternal grandfather's cottage in Castleton, Derbyshire, where we stayed
until the summer of 1943. I then went to Stanley House School close to the
corner of Bristol Road and Priory Road and then on to KES and finally,
B'ham University.
"I have just found a letter I wrote to my father from Brussels where I was
staying for that student team tournament. Part of it reads as follows:*
"As regards the chess - so far we have drawn with Austria 2-2, beaten
Sweden 3 1/2 - 1/2 and beaten France 3 -1. I have been playing very badly
and only drew my other games . Against Sweden I saw that, although I was a
pawn up in the endgame, I would just about lose so asked my opponent for a
draw, He agreed but it turned out later that he did have a win! Against
France I only drew after struggling all through the game to get my pawn
back that I had sacrificed. I really am extremely rusty - still there's
always hope! So far Barden and McElvie have 2 1/2 points, me 2 points and
Clarke 1 1/2. " *

Oh, I forgot, I did find a photo of Barden, Clarke and myself at the
tournament - I am attaching it. Also attached is a photo I took in
Hastings of the Boys Championship Honours Board some twenty years ago.

Hastings Chess Club Honours Board. Property of Malcom Barker. With consent.



As far as games are concerned, it has always been a great disappointment to me that my records were all thrown away when our house in Moseley was sold whilst I was away on National Service.  So all I have are snippets I have been able to recover on line, plus the book by A J Gillam on the 1951 Junior World Championship.


Qualifying Tournament for World Championship

This was held in Birmingham in March 1951.  There is an article in the Birmingham Post dated April 3rd, 1951 by B H Wood that reads as follows:  "All Midland chess players will be following the progress of M N Barker in the British Boys Championship in Hastings this week with intense attention.  Two brilliant games of his from the junior world championship qualifying tournament he has just won are typical of his progress.  Each shows purposeful mobilisation of his forces, followed by quite ruthless exploitation of an apparent unimportant error by his opponent":


Evans Gambit

Barker           Marshall            Barker                Marshall         

1   P - K4       P - K4              9.    Qkt - Q2         Kt - R4     

  1. Kt - KB3    Kt - QB3         10.   Q - B2            Kt - K2
  2.   B - B4      B - B4              11.   B X P +          K x B 
  3.   P - QKt4  B x KtP            12.   P - K6 +         K x P
  4.   P - B3      B - R4              13.   Kt - Kt 5+       K - B3
  5.   P - Q4      P - Q3             14.   P- K5+           P x P
  6.   Q - Kt3     Q - Q2             15.   QKt - K4+      K - Kt3
  7.   P x P       B - Kt3              16.   Kt - B3          QKt - B3   
  8.   Kt - B5 +       Q - B4
  9. Kt - R4 +        Resigns   


"The game against N Honan shows Barker again in fine fettle:"











1.  P - Q4        

P - K3              

11.  P x P           

P x P                

21. Q - B2         

R - B6        


31.  Q - R3        

P - Kt5


2.  P - QB4      

P - KB4           

12.  Kt - Q3       

B - KB4             

22. P - B5          

R x Kt

32.  Q - R4        

P x B!

3.   P - K Kt3    

Kt - KB3         

13.  Q - K2        

QKt - Q2           

23.  Q - B4 +       2

K - R1        



4.   B - Kt2       

B - K2             

14.  P - QKt3     

Q - Kt3              

24.  P x B          

Q x QP      



5. Kt - QB3    

O - O               

15.  R - K1        

Kt x Kt               

25.   Q - KR4     

R - B4       



6.   Kt - R3       

P - Q3             

16.  B x Kt        

R - B2                

26.   Q - K4      

R(6) - KB6   



7.   O - O          

Q - K1             

17.  QB - Kt2   

QR - KB1            

27.  QR - Q1                                                     

Q- K2



 8.   P - K4        

P x P                

18.  P - QKt4

P - KR4

28.  R - Q3        

R x BP                                                   



9.  Kt - B4       

P - B3               

19.  P - QR3     

  B - Q3


29.   B - Q4       

Kt - B3




10.  QKt x P     

P - K4               

20.  B x B        

R x B


30.  Q - R4        

Kt x Kt





I apologise that all the above is in traditional notation.  I have never mastered the algebraic notation, which makes it very difficult for me to follow chess articles these days.


In this tournament, Peter Harris came second and was given a wild card into the World Championship.  My game with him in the World  Championship was particularly wild and I was lucky to win.


Other Games


I also have a copy of the Midland Chess Bulletin  Vol. 1, No. 11 dated 16th April 1949.  The heading is "High School Boy Shocks the Old Hands" and discusses my beating Ritson Morry and Norman Bouckley in successive rounds in the County Championship.  It  gives my game against Bouckley using Bird's opening.  I could send this game to you if needed and if you are unable to trace the actual bulletin.


Another game I have found, although no doubt only of passing interest, is dated 27/7/51 from the Glorney Cup in Dublin against F Nicholson of Scotland.  I will scan and email this to you.  Likewise I have found a game in the same match against Jones of Wales dated 26th July, 1951.  I will email a scan of this to you as well.  But beware, these were all summer events when my chess was usually pretty poor!


  1. Berriman

Playing in the World Junior Championship, I was very pleased to meet up with Berriman from Australia, who was also a keen and capable tennis player.  We went down to the Priory Tennis Club for a very hard fought tennis match during the chess tournament.


Other Memories

I am afraid with the passage of time these are now very vague and probably distortedI did enjoy playing blindfold chess but only got as far as playing four games simultaneously.  Unlike the blind player, Wormald, I recall - who once played 12 of us without needing a blindfold:)  I was never too attentive at school and remember having  fun playing blindfold chess in class with another addict.  Of course, the teacher had no idea what was going on apart from noting the usual lack of attention from me!


I used to like playing at Hastings because it was enjoyable going on to the pier between sessions and playing on the arcade machines there.  I always felt that being an adult player would not be nearly so much fun:)         


My Father     

I see there has been some conjecture about my father.  He also went to King Edwards and left at the close of the First World War.  He inherited a small brass-founding business in Birmingham founded by his father and which he eventually sold out to Charles Winn.  They, in turn, were bought by Delta Metals.  His firm had some 20 or so employees and concentrated on brass fittings for boats.     


Chess Openings and Training

Much to my shame, thoughout my short chess career I never opened P - Q4!  I preferred the seemingly greater attacking opportunities with kings pawn openings and by the time I should have broadened my horizons, I was too afraid of putting myself at a disadvantage by moving into uncharted waters!    Apart from being taught by my father to play the game, the nearest I got to having lessons was playing with John Alexander at KES.  I can't imagine anyone getting to a high level these days without a lot of study and advice - it must be far more competitive than in my time.                                                                                                                                                              



I mentioned to you that, whilst at KES, I played tennis with our Headmaster, TEB Howarth, for whom I had great respect.  When I was in the lower 6th form he moved to Winchester and the Rev R G Lunt took the position.  I am afraid that our new head took little interest in the school team's great achievements in that area.  This was emphasised when he made no announcement to the school of my British Boys and World Championship achievements in 1951.  Considering there were only some 600 pupils you would have thought he would have known and considered it an honour for the school!

The photo with Walter Marshall was certainly the Glorney Cup match and I do
remember playing him in Birmingham. Also, apart from chaperoning us on a
Glorney Cup match in Dublin, I have never seen Ritson Morry outside
Birmingham, so almost certainly that is where it was taken. The cup on the
right is the British Boys Championship cup - it looks as though I was asked
to bring it along. The cup behind might well be the Glorney Cup but I
can't remember what it looked like. I'm surprised to see Sir George Thomas
there - I always associated him with Hastings, but there is no reason why
he shouldn't be there, given his interest in Junior chess. Yes, I have
just checked - the Glorney Cup was played in Birmingham in 1949, which
looks right for my features at that time.

On a website I have found a photo indicating the "original" Glorney Cup but
it's not familiar to me. However, when that photo was taken it was only
the second time it had been played for - the first in Dublin covering those
two games I sent to you.

This Irish article confirms Marshall playing in the 1949 cup competition:

And this article by Marshall proves the situation and the presence of Sir
George Thomas

This cup is clearly a very old design and there is some indication of such
a cup being around in the early 1900's - I can't believe two years in that
that was what we were playing for - and I would have held it for sure!


> I'm adding these scans to the info I have sent. The one of Leonard
> holding the Brussels trophy with O'Kelly is pretty poor - I'm sorry about
> that.:
> Malcolm

The original Glorney Cup.

(The Marshall game picture, with Ritson and Sir George Thomas. What a wonderful picture - the absolute gem of this whole project. Again, strictly the property of Malcolm Barker, and given here with the consent of the owner - DO NOT reproduce without the owner's consent. Thank you. Simaginfan.) 

Malcolm Barker - Chess and Beyond


My father, who was never a club player, taught me to play chess when I was around four years old, but I first started to play in earnest when I joined the chess club at King Edwards School when I was 11.  The school captain at the time was John Alexander.  I remember playing a number of games with him in my first session;  losing them all but he was seemingly impressed with the way I sought to attack him and very much took me under his wing.  My uncle, Frank Barker, played average chess at the Mutual Chess Club in Digbeth, and took me there to become a member.  I believe the star there at the time was Norman Bouckley.


John Alexander took me down to Hastings when I was 12 to play in the British Boys Championship.  In this I certainly did not excel but I believe it was then that I won a best game prize donated by Sir George Thomas.  The following year I didn't go to Hastings as John forgot to send in the entries, but it was for the next three years, at the age of 14, 15 and 16 that I won the championship.


My father played tennis at the Chantry Tennis Club in Moseley, which I joined when I was ten.  I became a very keen player, captaining the KES team, winning the Warwickshire Junior Doubles Championship, playing at Junior Wimbledon and eventually played County Tennis for Cheshire and Hertfordshire.  TEB Howarth was the headmaster during my time at KES and a keen player.  I remember playing games with him on the one court located at the side of the University hall of residence for girls at the side of our grounds.


The problem with my chess career was always that I preferred tennis.  I would almost never play chess between Easter and the start of the Winter Term - instead playing in junior tennis tournaments whenever I could.  This significant gap clearly left its mark on my abilities.  I remember, probably at the age of 17, captaining in the English boys team in the Glorney Cup in Birmingham in the height of summer.  I remember an onlooker remarking, on watching me play, that "this can't be the British Boys Champion" as I was so poor.  Unfortunately he was quite right - I always took time to get back into the game after my summer lay off and had probably not played for three months.


I believe this event coincided with my playing in the Priory Junior tennis tournament and it was quite coincidental that a report of my progress, or lack of it, in both events was published in the Birmingham Post in separate articles in the same column, as I remember it!


I decided not to defend my Boys Championship when I was 17.  Never being much of a scholar, I felt I had to concentrate on my Higher School Certificate exams.    The result was that I followed in brother Graham's footsteps and went to Birmingham University to read Chemical Engineering;  eventually getting a 2.1 degree.  Talking about being a poor (or lazy) scholar, I should mention that, throughout my time at KES, I was always in the bottom set for math's - despite my chess achievements!  I did take math's for university entrance though, so I must have got my act together just in time:)


My last act as a chess player was in my first term at Birmingham University.  I saw advertised there a student's international tournament being held in Brussels.  My family had contacts there who would accommodate me, so I entered.  On arriving I found that I had not only come a week early but also that it was an international team event and I was the sole Brit there!  Our chess  authorities found out about this and Leonard Barden and Peter Clarke came out to join me to make up a team. I am sure Leonard will remember the event.


That was the last time I played competitive chess.  Around that time, in my first university year, I met my now wife, Rita, who was studying French.  I didn't play any chess at university but I did play for their tennis team in inter-varsity matches.  After getting my degree I spent two years National Service in the Royal Navy/Fleet Air Arm as an air engineer, reaching the lofty rank of Temporary Acting Sub Lieutenant!


Three months after leaving Rita and I got married, which was shortly after I joined my brother in a family-connected firm in the Manchester area.  I left after nearly ten years to join an American management consultancy in London.  I have lived in the South East ever since - in Chorleywood, Chalfont St Giles and now, in the grounds of Cliveden House in Taplow.


I would add that, despite my relative success as a junior, I could never imagine my moving into the adult ranks.  I hated smoking and playing at the Mutual Chess Club or in senior Warwickshire matches, the smoky rooms was always off-putting.  I also enjoyed my social life too much.  At sixteen I  recall being invited to the Senior Hastings event at Christmas but declined, as I didn't want to miss all the partying that went on at that time.


In my forties I turned to playing bridge but only reached a very modest standard - playing for the County just once.   Elbow problems in my mid forties ended my tennis playing career and I then concentrated on golf, which has ever since been a passion.  I have never achieved better than a 7 handicap, so not nearly good enough to play for the county.  However, I did achieve better things in later life, twice winning the World Left Handed Golf Championship in the over 70's category - in Dublin in 2005 and Taiwan in 2006.


My competitive activities are now divided between golf, with some chess and bridge on the internet.  I never mention my previous chess success as I am now, at the age of 85, so poor that no-one would ever believe it!

World Over 70's Left handed golf Champion. 2005. property of Malcolm Barker. with permission.

Two pictures from Brussels 1953.

Barden and O'Kelly. Property of Malcolm Barker. With permission.
Barden, Clarke and Barker in Brussels. Property of Malcolm Barker..
British Boys Champion. Aged 15.Property of Malcolm Barker.
Malcolm Barker Aged 83. Property of Malcolm Barker.
British Boys Champion.Property of Malcolm Barker.
Part One.
Part Two.