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Tony Miles
TonyMiles.jpg
Full name Anthony John Miles
Country  England
Born 23 April 1955(1955-04-23)
Birmingham, England
Died 12 November 2001 (aged 46)
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2635 (01.01.1996)

Anthony John Miles (23 April 1955 in Edgbaston, Birmingham – 12 November 2001 in Harborne, Birmingham) was an English chess Grandmaster.

Contents

Biography

Early start in chess

Miles was born in Edgbaston in Birmingham, and he learned the game of chess at an early age. In 1968 he won the British under-14 championship, and in 1973 won the silver medal at the World Junior Chess Championship at Teesside, his first important event against international competition. He won the title the following year in Manila.

Miles entered the University of Sheffield to study mathematics, but dropped out to concentrate on chess.

Career highlights

In 1976, Miles became the first ever Grandmaster born in the United Kingdom, narrowly beating Raymond Keene to the accolade. (William Hartston came close to beating them both to it in the early 1970s, and naturalised German-born Jacques Mieses was awarded the GM title in 1950; Keith Richardson was awarded the GM title for correspondence chess earlier in the 1970s.) For this achievement, Miles won a £5,000 prize.

Miles had a string of good results in the late 1970s and 1980s, and his success is considered to be one of the most important factors in the explosion in the number of strong British players around that time—shortly after Miles became a GM, Keene, John Nunn, Jon Speelman and a number of others followed him. Miles won games against a number of former World Chess Champions, including Vassily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, and Boris Spassky.

Most famously, in 1980 at the European Team Championship in Skara, he beat reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov with black using the extremely unorthodox opening 1. e4 a6!?, the St. George Defence. (It is often said that Miles learnt this line from weird-openings enthusiast Michael Basman, though in his book Play the St. George, Basman asserts there is no truth to this). Miles beat Karpov again three years later in Bath in a game that was part of the BBC's Mastergame series, but it was never shown on television due to a technicians' strike.

Miles won the British Championship just once, in 1982 when the event was held in Torquay. His prime time as a chess player was in the middle of the eighties. In the January 1984 Elo rating list, he ranked #18 in the world with a rating of 2599. One of his best (and most controversial) results was his win at the Tilburg tournament in 1984. The following year, he tied for first there with Robert Hübner and Viktor Korchnoi, playing several of his games while lying face-down on a table, having injured his back.

Playing on top board for England, Miles helped his team to an all-time best silver medal at the 1986 Chess Olympiad in Dubai. But he was never able to qualify out of the Interzonal stages into the Candidates' series, and was eventually surpassed by fellow Englishman Nigel Short, the first British Candidate in 1985.

Against Garry Kasparov, on the other hand, Miles had little success, not winning a game against him, and losing a 1986 match in Basel against him by the overwhelming score of 5.5–0.5. Following this encounter, Miles described Kasparov as a "monster with a thousand eyes who sees all" (some sources alternatively quote Miles as having the opinion that Kasparov had 22 or 27 eyes).

After he was hospitalized because of a mental breakdown in late 1987, Miles moved to the United States. He finished last in the 1988 US Championship, but continued to play there and had some good results. In 1991, he played in the Championship of Australia, but he eventually moved back to England, and began to represent his home country again. He was equal first at the very strong Cappelle-la-Grande open in 1994, 1995 and 1997.

Miles tied for first in the 1999 Continental Open in Los Angeles with Alexander Beliavsky, Lubomir Ftacnik, and Suat Atalik. Another good result later in his career was at the knock-out PCA Intel Rapid Chess Grand Prix in London in 1995, where he knocked out Vladimir Kramnik in the first round and Loek van Wely in the second. (He was eventually knocked out in the semi-final by another English player, Michael Adams.) He also won the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba three times (1995, 1996, and 1999). His last tournament victory was the 2001 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Miles played in the 2001 British Championship, but withdrew before the final round, apparently because of ill-health. His final two games before his death were short draws in the Four Nations Chess League. Miles played in an extraordinary number of chess events during his career, including many arduous weekend tournaments.

The Miles Variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Bf4) in the Queen's Indian Defence is named after him.

Death

Miles suffered from diabetes and a post mortem found that this contributed to his death by heart failure in 2001. His body was found at his home in Harborne, Birmingham, after a friend called on him to take him to a bridge club. He was cremated at Lodge Hill Crematorium in Selly Oak on 23 November. There was a moment of silence before the seventh round of the European Team Championships in León in Spain in his memory.

Personality

Miles was in many ways a controversial figure. Once, in the last round of a tournament (Luton, UK, 1975), with Miles needing a draw for first place, and his opponent, Stewart Reuben wanting a draw for a high placing, he agreed a draw without playing any moves. The arbiter decided to give both players no points for this non-game; the players claimed this "game" had been played often, when players pre-arranged a draw - this was the only time it had been scored correctly, rather than playing out some anodyne non-moves. This sparked a hefty amount of correspondence in British chess journals.

Miles also had his disagreements with chess authorities and with his fellow English players, particularly Keene and Short. Miles made accusations regarding payments that Keene had received from the British Chess Federation for acting as his second (assistant) in the 1985 Interzonal tournament in Tunis. Miles became rather obsessed with the affair, eventually suffering a mental breakdown over it. He was arrested in September 1987 in Downing Street, apparently under the belief that he had to speak to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher about the matter. He was subsequently hospitalised for two months. Writing in the Daily Telegraph in November 2003, Nigel Short claimed that "Tony was insanely jealous of my success, and his inability to accept that he was no longer Britain’s number one was an indication of, if not a trigger for, his descent into madness."[1]

Miles was also noted for his acerbic wit. He often attacked chess personalities in published articles. He attacked former World Champion Anatoly Karpov in an article entitled "Has Karpov Lost his Marbles?". Other victims of his published attacks were Woman Grandmaster Martha Fierro and Indian Chess Organizer Umar Koya. His review of Eric Schiller's book Unorthodox Chess Openings (Cardoza Publishing, 1998) which appeared in Kingpin consisted of just two words: "Utter crap".

Notable game

References

  1. ^ The Sunday chess column, 30 November 2003

Further reading

  • Geoff Lawton (compiler), Tony Miles: "It's Only Me" (an anagram of Miles' name) (Batsford, 2003) - mainly articles by Miles and games annotated by him, with a small number of tributes from other writers

External links


Simple English

Tony Miles
Full name Anthony John Miles
Country
Born
23 April 1955(1955-04-23)
Birmingham, England
Died
November 12, 2001 (aged 46)
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2635 (01.01.1996)

Tony Miles (Anthony John Miles, Birmingham, 23 April 1955 – Birmingham, 12 November 2001) was an English chess Grandmaster.

File:England 1986
The England team at the Dubai Chess Olympiad, 1986. From the front: Speelman, Short, Nunn and Miles.

Contents

Biography

World Junior Champion

In 1973 Miles won the silver medal at the World Junior Chess Championship at Teesside, his first important event against international competition. He won the title next year in Manila.

Miles entered the University of Sheffield to study mathematics, but dropped out to concentrate on chess.

Career highlights

In 1976, Miles became the first ever FIDE Grandmaster born in the United Kingdom, narrowly beating Raymond Keene to the title. Other English players had been acknowledged as true Grandmasters in the past. Howard Staunton, the 19th century World Champion, was obviously a grandmaster. Joseph Blackburne was also regularly described as a grandmaster. Naturalised German-born Jacques Mieses was awarded the GM title in 1950; and Jonathan Penrose was awarded the title retrospectively. For his achievement, Miles won a £5,000 prize.

Miles had a string of good results in the late 1970s and 1980s, and his success was a factor in the growth of strong British players around that time—shortly after Miles became a GM. Miles won games against a number of former World Chess Champions, including Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, and Boris Spassky. In 1980 at the European Team Championship in Skara, he beat reigning world champion Anatoly Karpov with black using the extremely unorthodox opening 1. e4 a6!?, the so-called English Defence. Miles beat Karpov again three years later in Bath in a game that was part of the BBC's Mastergame series, but it was never shown on television due to a technicians' strike. However, over their careers, Karpov won most of the other encounters.

Miles won the British Chess Championship only once, in 1982. His prime time as a chess player was in the middle of the eighties. In the January 1984 FIDE rating system, he ranked #18 in the world with a rating of 2599. One of his best (and most controversial) results was his win at the Tilburg tournament in 1984. The following year, he tied for first there with Robert Hübner and Viktor Korchnoi, playing several of his games while lying face-down on a table, having injured his back.

Playing on top board for England, Miles helped his team to an all-time best silver medal at the 1986 Chess Olympiad in Dubai. But he was never able to qualify for the Candidates' series for the world title, and was overtaken by fellow Englishman Nigel Short in 1985.

Against Garry Kasparov Miles had little success, not winning a game against him, and losing a 1986 match in Basel against him by the overwhelming score of 5.5–0.5. Following this encounter, Miles described Kasparov as a "monster with a thousand eyes who sees all".

After he was hospitalized because of a mental breakdown in late 1987, Miles moved to the United States. He finished last in the 1988 US Championship, but continued to play there and had some good results. In 1991, he played in the Championship of Australia, but he eventually moved back to England, and began to represent his home country again. He was equal first at the very strong Cappelle-la-Grande Open in 1994, 1995 and 1997. He also won the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba three times (1995, 1996, and 1999). His last tournament victory was the 2001 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Sackville, New Brunswick.

Miles played in the 2001 British Championship, but withdrew before the final round, apparently because of ill-health.

The Miles Variation (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.Bf4) in the Queen's Indian Defence is named after him.

Death

In his later years, Miles became grossly overweight, and suffered from diabetes. A post mortem found that this contributed to his death by heart failure.

Personality

Miles was in many ways a controversial figure. Miles had his disagreements with chess authorities and with his fellow English players, particularly Keene and Short. Miles made accusations regarding payments that Keene had received from the British Chess Federation for acting as his second (assistant) in the 1985 Interzonal tournament in Tunis. Miles became rather obsessed with the affair, eventually suffering a mental breakdown over it. He was arrested in September 1987 in Downing Street, apparently under the belief that he had to speak to then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher about the matter. He was subsequently hospitalised for two months. Writing in the Daily Telegraph in November 2003, Nigel Short claimed that "Tony was insanely jealous of my success, and his inability to accept that he was no longer Britain's number one was an indication of, if not a trigger for, his descent into madness".[1]

Miles was also noted for his acerbic wit. He often attacked chess personalities in published articles. He attacked former World Champion Anatoly Karpov in an article entitled "Has Karpov Lost his Marbles?".

Notable game

References

  1. The Sunday chess column, 30 November 2003

Further reading

  • Geoff Lawton (compiler) 2003. Tony Miles: It's only me (an anagram of Miles' name) Batsford, London. Mainly articles by Miles and games annotated by him, with a few tributes from other writers

Other websites








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