The Short But Extraordinary Chess Career of Malcolm Barker. Part Two

The Short But Extraordinary Chess Career of Malcolm Barker. Part Two

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Before we begin! I started putting this all together some time ago. Since then I have been lucky enough to make contact with Malcom Barker himself - a wonderful man.

He has been kind enough to go to a great deal of time and trouble to provide me with some priceless material, for which I offer my humble and genuine gratitude. Rather than redo everything to put it all into chronological order, I have decided to finish this part, and then use his material as the basis for a third.

So, part three to follow.

O.K. We left off in 1950.

Before we leave that year I will add in something that - as you will see - is probably more fiting in the  context of 1951. The Staffordshire Advertiser 09/12/1950 has this article, including a game of Barker's.

Note the number of King Edward's School representatives in the match!!

The game in question - a fascinating one  - particularly with Barker playing 1.d4 against an opponent that he must have known well who often played the French Defence ( that will become understood as you go along!!) I have not had time to annotate it. Apologies for that.


So on to 1951.

In March of that year plans were already underway for what is now considered the first World Junior Championship. A qualifying event for British players was held in Birmingham which was won by Barker ahead of Peter Harris. 

At the start of April Barker was back at Hastings for  another defence of his British Boys Title.

HLO. 7/04/1951.

( Again, my apologies for the quality of the downloads - it is what I have. If anyone with the skills - I am a tech dunce - can clean things up legibility wise - they would be doing a great service to British chess historians.)

The next week - 14/4/1951 - the same paper had this.
(As a side issue - I will mention the support and work of A.A. Rider and the inimitable Sir George Thomas, who's names crop up repeatedly through all this stuff. )

One name to note there is that of my old friend the wonderful Peter Gibbs who had made a long trip to take part. He is a part of chess history himself, and was co- champion the following year - a subject I will touch on later. 

On the same day another old friend - the late and wonderful Barry Wood - published an article on Barker in the Illustrated London News. He then used the article in the April issue of 'CHESS' magazine ( my thanks to @ddtru for supplying me with that ) which was the first 'national' notice that I can find of Barker.

The photo from that article. I have not been able to find the original 'Birmingham Post' source.

The ILN article - very 'Barry'.

(You may have to do the 'right click - save - etc. stuff and then magnify to read it properly - worth the 2 minutes of effort!!

Note the tennis reference - it will play a part later.

 So , Ritson's ambitious follow up to the junior event mentioned last time - i.e. what was to become the first 'World Junior Championship' -  was in full swing - including invitations going out to the USSR - who sadly declined to send a representative ( have fun speculating on who it might have been!! There is another potential article in itself!! )

To interrupt the heavy history stuff, I will throw in a little cartoon of Ritson, found via

Rather than confuse myself with the various threads that I am trying to put in some sort of  order - I am not a meticulous or well organizes person -  I will show the games from the article at this point. Neither is 100% convincing - 16 year olds back in those days were not the computer trained tactical 'Grandmaster' monsters that they are today - but they are interesting in themselves, and I have been able to find very few of Barker's games.

Before I go any further, I will include a wonderful photograph  from a different event, that I will come back to in part 3.
Those who know my writings will know how much I love these kinds of pictures - this one instantly moved to the top tier of my personal favourites - it is an absolute gem!!
It is from Malcolm Barker's personal archive, and reproduced only with his consent. So, a serious putting down of the foot. DO NOT reproduce it without Mr. Barker's permission. Action will be taken against anyone who does. ( of course, if anyone knows of another - rights free -  source, let me know and I will modify my stance on the matter!)
Property of malcolm barker. All rights reserved. reproduced here with the consent of the owner.
Some recent investigation into that photograph can be found here -  , with some Glorney Cup results featuring barker also to be found on the site. Many Thanks to the site for letting me know!!

In between times, we have something in the Birmingham Daily Gazette - BDG of note. 9/04/1951.

And so on to June, with Coventry - for the first two rounds - and then Birmingham, playing host to the 'World Junior  ( U-20) Championship. It was run concurrently with the Staunton centenary event, from June 11th to 23rd. I will go through the event purely from Barker's standpoint.

Although only hosting two rounds, the Coventry chess community showed great enthusiasm for the events.

Coventry Evening Telegraph. 9/6/1951
Coventry Evening Telegraph. 17/5/1951.


He started with a complex game against the Swedish representative. According to Gillam, Sven Asker later became a PhD in genetics.

As Gillam points out there is a certain amount of confusion over the exact order that games were played in .

The game which promised to be  - and indeed was - the most important of the event came in round three. The pre-event favourite Bora Ivkov against Barker. The press was there to record the event.

My  huge thanks to my friend @RoaringPawn for not only kicking me into starting this insane project, but also for providing me with the following image from his inexhaustible archives.

The game showed why Ivkov was the favourite and eventual tournament winner.

B.D.G.Tuesday 19/6/1951.

Barker's opponent in the next game also went on to world recognition - a certain Bent Larsen.


The result was a fascinating, complex, battle. Before I started on all this I mentioned elsewhere that I could only recall one game of Barker's, which was this one - a game worthy of the occasion and of two outstanding young talents.

 Time for a picture.

The following is from Norsk Sjakkblad Feb 1952, and has the key to the players pictured. It is from a Nordic Junior Tournament in Trondheim, I will give a better i.e. 'clearer' version later in this article.

O.K. Round five. Barker was up against Bo Nryen of Finland, who sadly passed away late in 2011.

It shows that although primarily a tactician, Barker  was quite capable - as with all exceptional natural talents - of playing the endgame well.

Round six was something of a rest day for Barker, after the exertions of the previous games. A quick draw with Black. His  opponent - Burstein of France - is someone that my friend @introuble2 is taking an interest in. Like me, he is short of information and images. However, there is a nice cartoon of him to be found online. ( My apologies for mislaying the original source - an internet search should quickly turn it up for those interested.)

iin round seven barker met the Australian representative. The two became friends, but the game itself was a war!!

Berriman also represented his country in another event in England - the first 'Commonwealth Championship', from which a photo exists on britbase.

At this point Ivkov was clear in first place., Barker was comfortably second, and consolidated his position with a draw against the eventual third prize winner Raul Cerefino Cruz of Argentina.

Cruz had won the Argentine junior championship the previous year, ahead of future Grandmaster Oscar Panno. There are a couple of nice pictures of him around. I have managed to find tthis one.

Cruz in 1949,

Barker's tournament was nearly derailed in round 9 by local rival Peter Harris, who blundered away a winning position.

The next day he had another escape - against the Swiss player Edwin Bhend. Clearly the strain of successive hard tournaments was beginning to tell.

The final round saw him with Black against the future Grandmaster from Iceland, Fridrik Olafsson.

He has a series of articles that you can find about his early career, including his time in England. One of the contemporary photographs.

A clearer version of one of the above photographs which contains three of the Birmingham competitors.

B.D.G. 23/06/1951.

Our own @batgirl has kindly provided this, from which the header picture is taken.

Chess review. August 1951. page 232.

That seems a sensible place to leave things, and I will be  back with the third and final leg of this marathon journey in due course.