Against a backdrop of Soviet dominance, the British chess scene in the 1960s was in the doldrums.
Many sound and robust players fell out of the top ranks of international chess and interest in the royal game began to wane.
An important day in British Sporting History!On the morning of 30 July 1966, 21 year old ‘jack of all trades’ Ian Bright was 30 minutes into his game with French champion Michel Le Tumelin when upon seeing the strangely dressed Brit pick up his advanced knight and moving it hastily and excitedly onto f2 in exchange for a mere pawn, the Gaulle quickly lost composure and the game.
This single move won the European chess championship and made sure this day would be remembered in British history for ever.
A very interesting backgroundIan Bright was a real extrovert. His mother was a weaver (and responsible for many of his infamous jumpers) and his father was a cobbler.
With little money but many skills, the labourers’ son developed a living around dentistry (practiced sober and inebriated), pottery and weaponry – the Bright shield is well known as a great defensive and attacking resource in many re-enactment communities – originals sell for upwards of £3,000 at auction.
The game in London against Le Tumelin was really the start of his chequered chess career. Before then, he was simply a casual player who played the odd county game.
His chess life mirrored his private life. A passionate and direct man, he did nothing by halves. His apathy for trivial matters like his health or the safety of others was matched on the board by “his blatant disregard for pieces which bordered on the idiotic! ” 2
A black and white careerHe made it into the UK team aged 24 and was selected to play in the European Chess Championships in Cardiff in the winter of 1969.
Sadly, this first tournament was not a success. Many of the other nations had trained their stars to play solidly and with a positional focus, to frustrate young Mr Bright.
Nowhere else was this plan brought to fruition than in round five against the Polish player Boniek.
He was a monster in open positions, finding tricks and traps out of thin air.
He was also prone to mischief off the board and caused controversy when he turned up to Eoin McGoyle’s fancy dress party as Jan Berwijk, the boring old Dutch player who accused Bright in De Telegraaf of “gross indecency and poor manners. ”
The episode was resolved peacefully when only three days later, he removed a troubled tooth from the irritable Dutchman whilst under sedation .
SuccessesBright’s greatest glory came in 1972 at the UK (Fizz Wiz) Tournament. Bright won the open section with a score of 9/10, only forfeiting a point in round three for turning up late to the venue after a heavy night.
The jewel in the crown was the fabulous destruction of Grahame MacCall of Edinburgh in round 2. A solid player, MacCall simply doesn’t anticipate the danger about to unfold.
- In the tournament programme, the following short comments were given – “16. Kxf2 Ng4+ and white can choose how to lose the game between the game line of 17 Kg1 Qh4 18. Nf4 (nothing else is any better) 18…Bxf4 when white must surrender endless material to keep the wolf from the door or 17. Kf1 Qh4 18. Ng3 leading to a lovely finish: 18…Bxg2+! 19. Kxg2 Qxh2+ 20. Kf3 Qxg3+ 21. Ke2 Qg2+ 22. Kd3 Ne5#” (translated from “Bericht des 1966 London Schachturnier” – Helmut Haller)
- Teammate Steven Wood, Dundee Chess Press 1969