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Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander
C H Alexander 

Number of games in database: 411
Years covered: 1928 to 1973
Overall record: +147 -110 =154 (54.5%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (57) 
    B32 B40 B88 B67 B74
 French Defense (34) 
    C02 C11 C13 C18 C12
 Ruy Lopez (33) 
    C77 C71 C79 C90 C67
 Caro-Kann (16) 
    B10 B12 B16 B15 B13
 French (14) 
    C11 C13 C12 C10 C00
 Four Knights (11) 
    C47 C49
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (24) 
    C64 C63 C78 C65 C86
 King's Indian (17) 
    E80 E60 E94 E75 E69
 Petrov (17) 
    C42 C43
 Nimzo Indian (16) 
    E33 E22 E43 E27 E56
 Dutch Defense (14) 
    A81 A89 A99 A85 A91
 Queen's Pawn Game (14) 
    D02 A46 D00 A41 D04
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   C H Alexander vs Pachman, 1947 1-0
   C H Alexander vs Szabo, 1947 1-0
   C H Alexander vs Z Milev, 1954 1-0
   C H Alexander vs Botvinnik, 1946 1-0
   Bronstein vs C H Alexander, 1954 0-1
   Milner-Barry vs C H Alexander, 1932 0-1
   V Mikenas vs C H Alexander, 1938 0-1
   T H Tylor vs C H Alexander, 1938 0-1
   C H Alexander vs R B Edwards, 1959 1-0
   E Lundin vs C H Alexander, 1937 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   British Championship (1938)
   Hastings 1946/47 (1946)
   British Championship (1956)
   Hastings 1953/54 (1953)
   Hastings 1937/38 (1937)
   British Championship (1933)
   British Championship (1932)
   Maastricht (1946)
   Hilversum Zonal (1947)
   British Championship (1953)
   Dublin Zonal (1957)
   British Championship (1946)
   Staunton Memorial (1951)
   Belgrade (1952)
   Folkestone Olympiad (1933)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 21 by 0ZeR0
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 21 by ScribeTide99
   Hastings 1946/47 by Phony Benoni
   Hastings 1937/38 by sneaky pete
   Hastings 1953/54 by suenteus po 147
   Hastings 1933/34 by Phony Benoni
   Maastricht 1946 by sneaky pete
   Hastings 1954/55 by suenteus po 147

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(born Apr-19-1909, died Feb-15-1974, 64 years old) Ireland (federation/nationality United Kingdom)

[what is this?]

Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander was born in Cork, Ireland. Awarded the IM title in 1950 at its inception and the IMC title in 1970, he was British Champion in 1938 and 1956. During the Second World War, he worked at Bletchley Park with Alan Turing, Harry Golombek and Sir Philip Stuart Milner-Barry, deciphering German Enigma codes and later for the Foreign Office. Alexander finished 2nd= at Hastings (1937/38) tied with Paul Keres after Samuel Reshevsky and ahead of Salomon Flohr and Reuben Fine. He held Mikhail Botvinnik to an equal score (+1, -1) in the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match, and won Hastings (1946/47) while finishing equal first at Hastings (1953/54). He represented England on six Olympiad teams. Alexander was also an author of note. He passed away in Cheltenham in 1974.

Wikipedia article: Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander

Last updated: 2021-05-28 03:23:57

 page 1 of 17; games 1-25 of 411  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. W Fairhurst vs C H Alexander 0-1281928corrA40 Queen's Pawn Game
2. C H Alexander vs R H Newman  1-041192953rd Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC11 French
3. C H Alexander vs S Adler  0-137193054th Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC11 French
4. C H Alexander vs Sultan Khan  0-1421930Cambridge Univ - Imperial CC mB32 Sicilian
5. C H Alexander vs H T Reeve  1-041193155th Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mC11 French
6. Sultan Khan vs C H Alexander 1-0241931British ChampionshipD04 Queen's Pawn Game
7. C H Alexander vs E Spencer  ½-½421931British ChampionshipC52 Evans Gambit
8. R P Michell vs C H Alexander  1-0371931British ChampionshipE22 Nimzo-Indian, Spielmann Variation
9. C H Alexander vs W Gibson  0-1171931British ChampionshipC52 Evans Gambit
10. Milner-Barry vs C H Alexander  ½-½391931British ChampionshipC29 Vienna Gambit
11. Milner-Barry vs C H Alexander 0-1261932CambridgeC28 Vienna Game
12. C H Alexander vs Sultan Khan  1-0321932Cambridge University - Imperial CC mD00 Queen's Pawn Game
13. R Cross vs C H Alexander  0-138193256th Oxford - Cambridge Varsity mA15 English
14. C H Alexander vs Menchik  ½-½181932CambridgeC13 French
15. C H Alexander vs Sultan Khan  0-1421932Cambridge PremierB15 Caro-Kann
16. Sultan Khan vs C H Alexander 1-0391932British ChampionshipD02 Queen's Pawn Game
17. C H Alexander vs F Alexander  1-0351932British ChampionshipC52 Evans Gambit
18. H Hunnam vs C H Alexander  0-1631932British ChampionshipC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
19. C H Alexander vs W Fairhurst 1-0211932British ChampionshipC29 Vienna Gambit
20. E M Jackson vs C H Alexander  0-1301932British ChampionshipC47 Four Knights
21. C H Alexander vs Golombek  ½-½301932British ChampionshipB12 Caro-Kann Defense
22. H Saunders vs C H Alexander  0-1341932British ChampionshipD00 Queen's Pawn Game
23. E M Jackson vs C H Alexander  0-1361932Hastings 1932/33C82 Ruy Lopez, Open
24. C H Alexander vs Menchik  0-1591932Hastings 1932/33C00 French Defense
25. L Steiner vs C H Alexander  1-0521932Hastings 1932/33C42 Petrov Defense
 page 1 of 17; games 1-25 of 411  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Alexander wins | Alexander loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-03-17  Granny O Doul: And a cannibalistic humanoid overground dweller.
Feb-03-17  Dionysius1: <offramp> and <Granny O Doul>. If you have any criticisms of him that you think would stand up against his record, on the board or off, let's hear them. Otherwise show more respect.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Another strong player who passed on, aged sixty-four.
Feb-03-17  ughaibu: <Quote of the Day <"Slightly shortsighted, [Botvinnik] stoops over his score sheet and devotes his entire attention to recording the move in the most beautifully clear script; one feels that an explosion would not distract him and that examined through a microscope not an irregularity would appear. When he wrote down 1...c2-c4 against me, I felt like resigning."> --- C.H.O'D. Alexander>

As black can't play 1...c2-c4 and Botvinnik never opened, against Alexander, with 1.c2-c4 as white, the above quote of the day appears to be another descriptive to algebraic transcription error.


Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It's pretty funny that Alexander was unable to encrypt 1...P-QB4 into algebraic.
Mar-03-17  zanzibar: From the NSA doc by Milner-Barry...

The man:

<There was never any sense of strain because you always knew where you stood with him. He viewed himself with the same dispassion as he did others. and was his own sternest critic. If anything went wrong in his life, or if he made an error of judgment, he was always ready to admit-not always rightly-that he was to blame. He was never sorry for himself. even when he was ill. nor did he expect others to be sorry for him; neither did he encourage others to be sorry for themselves.

Hugh himself used to say that he did not particularly care for people, did not particularly mind when they were not there. and could get on perfectly well without them. The first statement was manifestly untrue, but it may well be that he was more interested in ideas than in people; and he was certainly far from being a sentimentalist. There was plenty of Irish toughness about him, and his realistic attitud e to life sometimes bordered on ruthlessness. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, he was a true and staunch friend in good times and in bad. He had a particular gift for putting himself on terms with the young. with whom he talked as though they were his contempories. To my son, when he was at school at Cheltenham, he showed particular kindness, but to aU of the children he was always ready with practical help and encouragement. There are not many of one's friends, however fond of them one may be, of whom it can be said that one is invariably glad to see them arrive, sorry to see them go, and looks forward eagerly to seeing again. I am sure all Hugh's friends felt the same about him.>


Mar-03-17  zanzibar: The player:

< I would guess that he was more uneven in his play than either Atkins or Penrose. but more dangerous than either of them to the very best players. His victories against Euwe, Botwinnik, Bronstein, Pachman, Gligoric and others are evidence of this. When one remembers that he combined chess with a career of outstanding distinction in the professional field, and that he always put his profession first, it is astonishing that he should have been able to maintain himself as England's leading player over a period of some 25 years.

While in his youth his reputation was that of a dangerous and dashing combinative player, his style matured as he grew older and he became much more of a strategist. Although he had a wide and pretty complete range of opening knowledge, and kept himself up to date with developments, he was not himself much of an innovator. He liked to rely on well-tried openings like the Ruy Lopez, which he would cheerfully playas Black or White. But Golombek and Hartston are much better qualified than I am to analyse his style. The remarks that I venture below are based only upon the personal experience of scores of serious games played over the years.

Hugh liked to be attacked. He preferred an active defence, and he was a most dangerous counter-puncher when in difficulties. He had excellent judgment of the kind of positions that could be defended, and he defended them with great resource. Thus, like Muhammad Ali, he appeared to leave himself wide open and to invite me to attack him. His instincts were to accept any gambit that was offered to him, and his instincts were usually right. That no doubt was one reason why he won the large majority of games that we played. Another was that he was a much more complete player.>


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: I recall much of the portion excerpted by <zed> from Golombek's biography on Alexander, published shortly after the latter's death.
Apr-03-17  bengalcat47: There is an out-of-print book featuring Alexander's best games. Off hand I can't recall the title or the author of this book, so if anyone can share that information that would be most helpful. I'd like to look up this book on Amazon.
Apr-03-17  Retireborn: Golombek and Hartston, The Best Games of CH O'D Alexander (1976), contains 70 annotated games and the Milner-Barry memoir quoted by <zanzi>
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: A fine book, and one I may pick up someday.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: I picked up a copy, along with a few other treasures, a few years ago when my local library had a sale of old books.

It's in the landscape shape rather than the more common portrait and the pages are a light green. (Descriptive.)

Just noticed they have a discrepancy in one of my stock 'demo-board' games. B H Wood vs C H Alexander, 1946 I'll go there after this to see if I can get it sorted.

HeMateMe mentions "The Imitation Game".

Alexander is introduced to Turing as a winner of the British Chess Championship.

Alexander then smugly adds: "Twice!"

The second was not until 1956 11 years after the WWII ended. Appears they did a quick Google search and saw:

"... In chess, he was twice British chess champion." and ran with that.

(He was British Boys Champion in 1926.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: He died at 64, like Fischer, Steinitz, Staunton, Planinc, Mednis, Maximilian Ujtelky, Octavio Troianescu, and Claude Bloodgood.
Jan-07-18  john barleycorn:

was not written for them.

Apr-19-19  diagonal: Alexander won twice at Hastings Congress and did well at the world elite Staunton Centenary Tournament in 1951 in Cheltenham-Leamington Spa-Birmingham where Gligoric won, ahead of 2.-4. Trifunovic, Stahlberg, Pirc, Alexander shared fifth place with Matanovic, Rossolimo, and Unzicker (apart from Alexander, all of them got a GM title between 1950 and 1955), surpassing as well Bogoljubov, Tartakower, or Donner (16 players).

Winning Hastings in 1953-54, unbeaten first on tie-break, alongside with Bronstein, defeating both Soviet players, GM Bronstein and GM Tolush, may be his most prominent result, equivalent of a grandmaster title. For this tournament win, IM Hugh Alexander could / should have been awarded the GM title!

Hastings was both in status and strength a major international contest, the edition of 1953-54 had three GMs, several IMs / national champions and was much stronger than some of the previous post-war year editions. It was Alexander’s second win at Hastings after 1946-47 ahead of Tartakower, and already in Hastings 1937-38, Alexander tied with Keres for second place behind Reshevsky but ahead of Fine and Flohr (always ten players, top players mixed with some less stronger ones from the hosting nations).

Winning a strong tournament (including an individual gold medal at board one at the Chess Olympiad), was then the main criteria to be awarded a GM title by FIDE, there was no universal rating / ranking.

To compare with following Non-GM winners at Hastings, when IM Viktor Korchnoi and Fridrik Olafsson triumphed two years later at Hastings in 1955-56, ahead of GM Ivkov, followed by GM Taimanov, then Darga, etc. (ten players again), the winners both got an upgrading, Korchnoi became Grandmaster (one of three in the year 1956, the others were O'Kelly for Ostende international invitation tournament that year, and Larsen, at the Chess Olympiad), Olafsson became International Master (he got the GM automatically soon afterwards in 1958 when qualifying as a Candidate).

The next Non-GM winner at Hastings was Wolfgang Uhlmann at the Christmas Congress 1958-59, he also got the GM title for this achievement. All Hastings winner during the 1960s already were grandmasters. Only since officially introducing the Elo rating / ranking by FIDE in 1971, the GM title depends on defined norms (perfomance in an event), and a minimal rating (the definition of these requirements changed several times).

However, Alexander (retroactively with a Peak World Rank #24 according to Chessmetrics) did not got it from the FIDE, and died just three years before FIDE started to award Honorary Grandmaster titles for a few selected strong players (in total, there had been around 30 distinguished players to be given the GM Hon. title in the years between 1977 and 2003 based on previous results, mostly made during the 1950s and 1960s).

<Chessgames> features all games: Hastings (1953/54)

Apr-19-19  Scuvy: I received a copy of the book on Alexander by Harry Golombek and William Hartston as a gift more than 30 years ago. My sibling found it in a used bookstore; recently, a British web bookseller rated it as "scarce".
Jun-01-19  WilhelmThe2nd: In the first group photo including Alekhine here (ChessNote #11339): the man standing in the center appears to be C.H.O'D. Alexander. You can compare him with the photo of Alexander at Nottingham 1936:
Sep-07-19  Caissanist: The link given by <LuftforLife> is dead, but the same document can be found here: .
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <cassianist> Thank you!
Oct-27-19  thegoodanarchist: Quite obviously this bio needs revision.

< He held Mikhail Botvinnik (+1, -1) in the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match, and won Hastings (1946/47) while finishing equal first at Hastings (1953/54).>

The first part needs context! It says:

< He held Mikhail Botvinnik (+1, -1) in the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match,...>

Really?!?!?!?! He held Botvinnik why? To prevent him from crossing the street against the traffic light?

Were they gay lovers?

Did he hold Botvinnik for immigration purposes?

Or was it a mere draw?

Or did he lift MB off of the floor and hold him overhead in a feat of strength?

Yes, this is terribly vague...

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < thegoodanarchist: Quite obviously this bio needs revision. < He held Mikhail Botvinnik (+1, -1) in the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match, and won Hastings (1946/47) while finishing equal first at Hastings (1953/54).>

The first part needs context! It says:

< He held Mikhail Botvinnik (+1, -1) in the 1946 Anglo-Soviet Radio Match,...>

Really?!?!?!?! He held Botvinnik why>

I made a minor edit, let's see if it sticks. I wanted to add <attacked Turing's computer with an axe, see "The Imitation Game"> but I refrained.

Oct-29-19  thegoodanarchist: TYVM, <keypusher>
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Dion....Hugh Denham who wrote the In Memoriam....>

Denham succeeded Alexander as head of 'section H' (cryptanalysis) in GCHQ in 1971.

Peter Wright wrote in glowing terms of Alexander's professionalism and his willingness to give assistance to MI5 in the postwar epoch.

Mar-08-22  Dionysius1: Thanks <perfidious>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Greg49: I admire his game against Bronstein. It was such a glorious achievement.
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