Chess Composers A. J. Roycroft Studies


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Written by A. J. Roycroft   


2nd Prize, New Statesman, 1954



My memory tells me little about how this was composed. In the spring of 1954, having taken my degree examination in Dublin in the middle of the previous year, I started my first job in the City of London. From then until 1961 my address was the boarding-house at 12 Lyndhurst Gardens, Belsize Park – a north-west suburb. So either I responded to the announcement of the formal international tourney of the New Statesman & Nation or the study arose is some other way, but it did not have an over-the-board origin. I do remember being pleased with the ‘heraldic’ diagonal setting of all seven men on light squares. This setting was the last of maybe dozens.

Information that I can vouch for – tedious as it is – is that the announcement was in ASSIAC's column 250 dated July 17, 1954, that there were to be four prizes of four, three, two guineas and one guinea (a guinea was 21 shillings), and that the (extended) closing date was November 1st 1954. The provisional award (not identified as such), judged by ASSIAC himself, was published in his column of December 18, 1954. First prize went to Halberstadt, second to Herberg, third to Roycroft. But Herberg's effort proved to have a serious dual allowing my own to move up one place.


2nd Prize, Thèmes 64 TT, 1958


Draw: (b) remove wPh6

My only 'twin' study. Like the next one it was 'hanging around' when I happened to be in Paris and one morning dropped in on the Librarie Guisle (15 rue St Jacques). Sitting at a chessboard was Vitaly Halberstadt. We got talking. When he said there was a current thematic tourney of Thèmes-64 for twins I took him by surprise by instantly showing him this. He appeared delighted.


EG, July 1965



This study was 'sitting around' for a while waiting for a suitable tourney 'target'. Then I thought, 'Why not start EG with an original, even though the magazine's purpose was to gather together awards that have been already published?'

The position before 4.Bh8! is prominent on the cover of my first book, Test Tube Chess (1972). On my only meeting with M. M. Botvinnik, which was in London, I presented him with a copy. He looked at the cover diagram for 30 seconds before indicating that he had seen the move, commenting 'very nice'.


4th Prize, Golden Fleece Tourney (Georgia), 1965



An excellent test of dedication to the endgame is willingness to get to grips with, and to enjoy, practice with the winning pawnless 6-man endgame two bishops and knight against rook (the GBR 'class' 0321.00). That this material has small 'practical' value is, to the likes of us, a matter of indifference.


Chess in Israel, March 1999



The natural position, paucity of captures, every man moving at least once, use of the 8-by-8 board, 'Vorplan' with thematic try, no significant anticipation, and the rarity of a lone wR drawing against the bishop pair supporting a gP, were not enough to impress Noam Manella and Hillel Aloni, judges of the Israel Ring Tourney of 1998-1999.

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 November 2011 15:12
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