Jonathan Penrose – World Champion Beating Amateur

Jonathan Penrose

Penrose playing Euwe in 1960.  Photo by Dguendel (wikimedia). CC BY 3.0

Jonathan Penrose passed away last month aged 88.  Despite being an amateur he was by some margin the strongest British player of his generation.  Some of his achievements…

  • he won the British Championship a record 10 times
  • he was the first British player for 61 years to defeat a reigning world champion when he downed Tal in 1960
  • he twice gained the silver medal on board 1 at Olympiads
  • later he played correspondence chess, leading Great Britain to win the 9th Correspondence Olympiad played between 1982 and 1987.

There is a really excellent obituary for him in the Guardian, written by Leonard Barden who was one of his contemporaries.

Below are a couple of his games, including that win against Tal.

Penrose’s most famous game, but a joy to play through even if you have seen it before.

This is one of those games that makes chess look very simple. Penrose gained a positional advantage and his opponent went after a pawn to get some compensation. Just when it might have become messy, Penrose played precisely and killed the game with a tidy sac and mating attack.

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