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Milner-Barry and his Attack

PeterDoggers
| 0 | Chess Event Coverage


Today it's hundred years ago that Philip Stuart Milner-Barry was born. His name seems to have been attached to the line 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Qc2 Nc6, but obviously he's still known because of the Milner-Barry Attack, a way to play against the Indian Defences: 1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bf4 Bg7 5.e3 O-O 6.Be2.

Milner-Barry AttackThis variation has become popular thanks to British grandmasters Mark Hebden and Aaron Summerscale, who both play it as White. The latter also treated it thoroughly in his book A Killer Chess Opening Repertoire (Everyman, 1998).

The theoretical recommendation is 6...c5. However, Dr. John Nunn, who quite knows what to do in the opening,?Ǭ†lost twice with this move against Mark Hebden, so perhaps a wiser idea consists in the move that was played by Kasparov when he met the Milner-Barry Attack on the board:?Ǭ†6...Bg4. Against Hort, in 1988 in Cologne, play continued with 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 c6 after which Black started preparing ...e7-e5. Looks quite solid.?Ǭ†Ye Jiangchuan also believes in 6...Bg4; he used it succesfully against Ian Rogers at the Calvia Olympiad in 2004.

Milner-Barry died on March 25, 1995. At Chessgames.com?Ǭ†we can read about him: "A true amateur he worked in the British Civil Service and was never able to devote all his time to chess. He was part of the team that worked at Bletchley Park cracking the German Enigma codes and later was the Under-Secretary of the Treasury. He did, however, come 2nd at Hastings 1953, play on four English Olympic squads from 1937 to 1956 and was chess correspondent for The Times."

Well, that British gentleman now seems a lot more interesting! Googling a bit further brings us at the Churchill Archives Centre: "He was one of the senior code-breakers at Bletchley Park, 1940-45. He was Gordon Welchman's deputy at Bletchley Park and was primarily responsible for the vital "cribs" of Hut 6 and in 1943 he took over responsibility for Hut 6. On 21st October 1941, Milner-Barry along with Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander wrote directly to Churchill to seek more staff for Bletchley Park. Milner-Barry delivered the letter personally to 10 Downing Street and Churchill gave them his support.

Milner-Barry had a lifelong interest and talent in chess - he was British Boy Champion, 1923 and also a member of the British International teams, 1937-61. He was playing chess for Britain in Argentina when war broke out, and worked as Chess Correspondent for The Times newspaper 1938-45. After the war he was Principal, HM Treasury, 1945, and became Assistant Secretary in 1947. He was Director of Organisation and Methods, Treasury, 1954-58, Director of Establishments and Organisation, Ministry of Health, 1958-60, and Under-Secretary, Treasury, 1954-66."

>> replay games by strong players who met the Milner-Barry Attack

>> a literature list about the Milner-Barry Attack can be found here

>> the Chess Publishing forum about Milner-Barry

>> replay games by Milner-Barry himself
PeterDoggers
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

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