- Tony Miles
Infobox chess player
playername = Tony Miles
birthname = Anthony John Miles
country = GBR
datebirth =birth date|1955|4|23|df=y
datedeath = death date and age|2001|11|12|1955|4|23|df=y
title = Grandmaster
peakrating =2635 (01.01.1996)
Anthony John Miles (
23 April 1955in Edgbaston, Birmingham– 12 November 2001in Harborne, Birmingham) was an English chessGrandmaster.
Early start in chess
Miles was born in
Edgbastonin 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 Championshipat Teesside, his first important event against international competition. He won the title the following year in Manila.
Miles entered the
University of Sheffieldto study mathematics, but dropped out to concentrate on chess.
In 1976, Miles became the first ever Grandmaster born in the
United Kingdom, narrowly beating Raymond Keeneto the accolade. ( William Hartstoncame close to beating them both to it in the early 1970s, and naturalised German-born Jacques Mieseswas 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 Speelmanand 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 Karpovwith 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 Tilburgtournament in 1984. The following year, he tied for first there with Robert Hübnerand 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 Olympiadin 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.
Garry Kasparov, on the other hand, Miles had little success, not winning a game against him, and losing a 1986 match in Baselagainst 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.
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 Londonin 1995, where he knocked out Vladimir Kramnikin the first round and Loek van Welyin the second. (He was eventually knocked out in the semi-final by another English player, Michael Adams.) He also won the Capablanca Memorial in Cubathree times (1995, 1996, and 1999). His last tournament victory was the 2001 Canadian Open Chess Championshipin 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 Defenceis named after him.
Miles suffered from
diabetesand 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 Oakon 23 November. There was a moment of silence before the seventh round of the European Team Championships in León in Spain in his memory.
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 anodynenon-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 Federationfor acting as his second (assistant) in the 1985 Interzonaltournament in Tunis. Miles became rather obsessed with the affair, eventually suffering a mental breakdownover it. He was arrestedin September 1987 in Downing Street, apparently under the belief that he had to speak to then- Prime Minister Margaret Thatcherabout the matter. He was subsequently hospitalised for two months.
Miles was also noted for his acerbic wit. He often attacked chess personalities in published articles. He attacked former World Champion
Anatoly Karpovin an article entitled [http://www.chesscenter.com/kingpin/Kingpin/milesfeature.htm "Has Karpov Lost his Marbles?"] . Other victims of his published attacks were Woman Grandmaster Martha Fierroand 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".
Threefold repetition#Incorrect claimsa game between Miles and Karpov
*Geoff Lawton (compiler), "Tony Miles: "It's Only Me" (an
anagramof Miles' name) (Batsford, 2003) - mainly articles by Miles and games annotated by him, with a small number of tributes from other writers
* [http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/milesmc.html Obituary from The Week in Chess]
* [http://www.chesscenter.com/twic/milesmp.html Article from The Week in Chess]
* [http://www.bcf.org.uk/national/2002/obit-miles.htm Obituary at the British Chess Federation site]
* [http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4298492-103684,00.html Obituary in the "Guardian"]
* [http://www.chessedinburgh.co.uk/chandlerarticle.php?ChandID=15 Personal reminiscenses from Geoff Chandler]
* [http://www.chesscenter.com/kingpin/Kingpin/milesfeature.htm "Has Karpov Lost his Marbles?"] - a short article by Miles
* [http://www.chesscenter.com/kingpin/Kingpin/book_reviews.htm Two of Miles' book reviews]
* [http://www.chessclub.com/finger/TonyM Miles' finger-notes at the Internet Chess Club, where he often played]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kCW0TXH6e0g Karpov vs Miles Multimedia annotated game]
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