Syd Kalinsky

The club’s President and long-time stalwart, Syd Kalinsky, has died at the age of 89. This is a great loss to the club and to the wider chess community.

Syd was born in Hackney into a poor family. At the start of the Second World War he was evacuated to Wales but hated being away and returned to London after a short period. He left school at the age of 14 and was initially sent to work in a sweatshop; this was an activity for which he was totally unsuited as he did not have good co-ordination! He looked around for something else to do and trained as an accountant. He was successfully treated for TB under the new NHS and he went to work for the accountant Syd King before buying him out and building the King & King accountancy business with people of all faiths: Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian.

Syd was a very good chess player, and he was very happy to employ good standard chess players in his business and field strong teams in the London Commercial League and other Cup competitions. In fact, such was the success of King and King that they were even dubbed ‘a team of chess players whose hobby is accountancy’! King & King won the Commercial league several times.

Syd was at times eccentric but he was also very generous and charitable. He took to running way before lots of other people did. He started jogging on the spot, gravitated to around the house before going out onto the streets dressed in fluorescent green shorts blue leggings and a top. He ran in the London Marathon for the charities The Brain Trust for children and Dreams Come True. He once fell over in a pothole in Pudding Lane and broke a shoulder.

Syd played a great deal of chess and was fond of aggressive gambits like the Budapest and Latvian and finding tactical shots but he also knew his theory really well and was a tough opponent. He played for the Ilford and Cavendish clubs for many years, becoming President of both, and was also a regular in the Essex county teams. He sponsored the long-running Essex Team Blitz and Lightning tournament and provided funds for other chess activities and to support promising juniors. Generous financial aid supported Dana Hawrami in attending the World under 12 championships.

I, and others from Essex chess, have good memories of chats to Syd in the car on the way to and from matches. He was very outspoken, willing to discuss anything and coming up with occasional reminiscences which included an account of watching the Battle of Cable Street 1936 with his father. After a chess match, he would usually be quiet if he’d lost, but if he’d won, he was very ebullient and talkative, recounting the moves and potential variations at breakneck speed.

Syd’s at times haphazard physical co-ordination showed up across the chessboard in his latter years when a few Essex players came a cropper against the Kalinsky Gambit involving a hot beverage and chess pieces flying. During the Essex Knock-Out Semi-final 2007 Syd was winning a rook and pawn endgame against Jeff Goldberg; as the game entered a jittery blitz finish the pieces began to fly around and Syd sideswiped his teacup which took off and landed somewhere around the f4 square, drenching the board, table and Jeff with steaming liquid. Ilford Captain on the day, Jef Page, said ‘The Rules of Chess are silent on the Kalinsky Tea Gambit: Jeff complained that Syd (1) had unfairly distracted him (2) had by brilliant sleight of hand made two consecutive moves (not proven), and (3) should have cleared the mess up and reset the clocks. The game was reset and concluded with a round 1 win for Syd.”

Joking aside, Syd was a strong club player and I give below two of his games. His love of chess and life is sorely missed.

Syd is survived by his wife Sheila and children Mitzi, Wendy, Andrew and Philip.

Tom Barton, Ilford Chess Club.

Essex Team Blitz 2004 – Syd was part of the winning Cavendish team

Kalinsky v Rowan

Kalinsky,Syd 157
Rowan,Andrew 152
Essex D1 — Upminster 1 – Ilford 1 — 2005


From a quiet system Syd whips up venomous attack. 1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nc6
3.Nf3 g6 4.d4 cxd4 5.cxd4 d5 6.exd5
databases show white has won
86% of games in this opening so a good choice of line by Syd. 6…Qxd5
7.Nc3 Qa5 8.d5 Nb4
chasing the black queen and knight gives Syd extra
time to develop his pieces and displace the king. 9.Bb5+

Bd7 10.Bxd7+ Kxd7 11.Ne5+ Ke8 12.0-0 Rd8 13.Qb3 Nf6

14.Nc4 black resigns as the knight is lost for no compensation. [ 14.Nc4 Qc5 15.Be3 ] 1 – 0

Kalinsky v I.B.N. Smith

Ivor Smith has run the Essex Team Blitz tournament that Syd sponsored. Here the two faced each other in an Essex league match.

Kalinsky,Syd
Smith,I.B.N.
Essex D1 — Writtle – Ilford 1 — 02.04.2008
1.e4 c5 2.c3 Nf6 3.e5 Nd5 4.d4 cxd4 5.Nf3 e6 6.cxd4 d6 7.Nc3
dxe5 8.Nxe5 Nc6
[ 8…Bb4 9.Bd2 0-0=] 9.Bb5 Nxc3 10.Qf3 Qc7 11.bxc3 a6
12.Bxc6+ bxc6

13.Nxf7! Rg8 14.0-0 Bb7 15.Ng5 Qd7 16.Bf4 0-0-0 17.Qe4 Bd6 18.Bxd6 Qxd6 19.Qxe6+ Qxe6 20.Nxe6 Rd6 21.Nc5 Kc7 22.Rfe1 Bc8 and two pawns up Syd went on to win on move 29. 1 – 0

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