Andrew Joseph Muir
b. 17.10.1958, Glasgow
Andrew Muir provided the following extremely detailed biography.
Andrew taught himself chess at the age of 9 by reading the rules from a family copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He did not own a set at the time so used two packs of playing cards to create one – putting the cards face down created the 64 squares, the kings and queens represented themselves and other cards were chosen for the different chess pieces. Later, when he obtained a set, he played regularly at home with his father William and younger brother Stephen.
He attended John Ogilvie Hall; a preparatory primary school for St. Aloysius College, between 1966 to 1970 which held a school championship in which all boys in Primary 6 and 7 were expected to enter. Whilst still at this school, he played for the senior St. Aloysius team.
He attended St Aloysius College from 1970 to 1975 which entered teams in the Senior (all players), Intermediate (S4 and below) and Junior (S2 and below) sections of the Glasgow Schools’ League each year. A teacher would accompany pupils to away matches in the evenings and the club met every Friday after school.
In 1969 the family moved house to Park Road, Giffnock, less than 10 minutes walk from the thriving Giffnock & Clarkston Chess Club run by the enthusiastic Walter Munn. Andrew, his father and brother all joined. With membership growing to nearly 100, the A team led by students Michael Rosenberg (who later played for USA at bridge finishing runner-up in the Bermuda Bowl) and Ian Meiklejohn, were soon promoted to the first Division of the Glasgow Chess League.
In the early 1970’s John Glendinning organised several junior training tournaments and Andrew also sent some of his games to be analysed by Scottish champion Peter Jamieson.
Winner of John Ogilvie Hall championship 1969, 1970 ( in 1970 he beat his brother in the final).
He played in several Junior tournaments held at Langside Halls, Glasgow organised each September by Walter Munn and others. In the under-12 section (unofficial Scottish championships for children who had not reached their 13th birthday) he was 1st in 1969 (10.5/12) when the prizes were presented by television news presenter Mary Marquis MBE, 3rd = with 8.5/12 in 1970 when Douglas McGregor from Paisley Academy scored 12/12, and 1st again in 1971 with 11/12. After finishing behind Tim Upton in the under-13 section in 1972 and being unsuccessful in the under-17 section in 1973 he played in the invitational Junior International section in the next few years. Players were generally invited from Western Europe and had strong participation from English players. He scored in these as follows: 1974 (3/5), 1975 (3/5), 1976 (2.5/5), 1977 (2/5).
Mary Marquis presents his prize at Langside Halls, 1969
Winner of St Aloysius individual junior school championship (S3 and below) in 1972, 1973.
Member of Scotland Glorney Cup teams 1973-1977. He was top scorer with 3.5/5 in 1973 but struggled on top board with 1/5 in 1975. The team was very unlucky not to win the tournament in 1977 as they had a very experienced team (Graham Morrison, Tim Upton, Alan Norris, Andrew Muir, Colin McNab, Chris Morrison, and Paddy McGhee) with Andrew playing as low as board 4. All the players stayed in a large dormitory in an Irish monastery where Andrew got very little sleep due to French partying into the night. In the match against France he missed the win of a piece at move 12, lost the game, and was dropped for the final match versus Holland which Scotland, needing 4.5 points to win the trophy, only won 3.5-2.5.
Glasgow Schools League, St Aloysius College, 1st in Intermediate section 1973 and 1st = in Senior section 1974.
Glasgow Boys’ Champion 1974. He was banned from playing in the 1975 tournament due to an incident in the match between Glasgow schools and Edinburgh schools where the top ten boards were agreed quickly drawn so the players could go and watch the rugby international match held at Murrayfield the same day (in the end they only watched the match on tv).
Scotsman Scottish Schools Championship winners, board 1, St Aloysius College, 1975 (beating Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen 3-1 in the final and Marr College, St Andrews 2.5-1.5 in the semi-final). The winning team was Andrew Muir, Paul Maiolani, Bernard Dunn and Edward Morgan.
The school entered the Sunday Times British Schools Chess Championship but in a telephone match against Robert Gordon’s College, after about 3 hours play only 20-25 moves had been played on each board with some games still in the opening stage. All six games were adjudicated draws and Robert Gordon’s went through to the next round being the younger team.
After poor performances in 1973 & 1974 he became Scottish Boys’ champion, Aberdeen, 1975 with a score of 6/7.
In the 1974-75 season, at the same time as studying for six Higher examinations, he played about 150 competitive games.
Glasgow Herald under 19 champion 1975, 1978. In 1977, after a poor start of 0.5/4 he withdrew and was originally banned from the 1978 tournament but this was later rescinded.
Represented Scotland in World Junior in Yugoslavia in 1975 (21st=).
Represented Scotland in European Junior in Holland in 1975 (19th) and in 1978 (10th).
Joint British under- 21 champion, Ayr, 1978 beating Julian Hodgson.
Andrew played in several other Junior International tournaments with little success: Halle, Germany 1975 (1/7), Denmark 1976 (1/9), Sweden 1977 (5/9). Conditions in some of these tournaments could be basic – in Halle he shared a double bed with a young Eric Lobron and in Denmark the tournament was held in a school.
Student and under-26 events
British University champions – Glasgow University 1976
Scottish University champions – Glasgow University 1977
World Students’ Olympiad Scottish team, Mexico City 1977. Andrew was fortunate that travel costs for his participation in this was paid by Glasgow University. On arrival, the team was originally allocated dormitory accommodation in bunk beds but after a revolt by the captains the teams were placed in one of the most opulent hotels in the city overlooking the park. As players entered the lobby adorned with frescos, Iain Sinclair said “welcome to paradise” and the players later spent about £50 on an expensive meal including a flaming crepe suzette. After a few days the team was later moved to a less expensive hotel.
World U-26 Olympiad – member of successful Scottish teams. In Mexico City 1980 the team finished 6th=, ahead of USA and China, and in Chicago, USA, 1983, the team, amongst the top five for a while after a narrow 2.5-1.5 loss to USSR, eventually finished 10th.
Selected individual tournament results
- Giffnock club champion 8 times - 1976, 1977, 1979, 1983 - 1987
- Scottish Open 1st 1977
- Manchester Open 1st 1979
- Glasgow Open 1st 1982, 1984 (also individual champion in 1991, 1995), 2008
- Scottish Allegro 1st, 1983, 1997
- West of Scotland Champion 1985, 1995
- Scottish Lightning Champion 1985
- Civil Service Open 1st , 1987
- Arc Young Masters 2nd =, 1988 (After ruining several won positions against titled players in the preceding decade he finally achieved his first ever wins over an IM (at his 50th attempt!) and a GM (at his 12th attempt) in the same day of this weekend Swiss.)
- Lloyds Bank Masters 7/10, 7th = , 1988 (only a point behind winners after a last round win against GM Mihai Suba, ranked 78th in the world who defected to the West during the tournament.)
- North London Open 1st, 1988 (ahead of Michael Adams, Matthew Sadler and several other strong English players)
- Arhus Festival 10 players all-play-all, 1st , 7/9, 1990
- In 2007, after receiving inspiration at the set of Gregory’s Girl he finally became Scottish Champion in Cumbernauld at his 18th attempt (he was also 2nd in 2005, 2006 and 2008) with an unbeaten score of 8/9. At the age of 48 years and 9 months he was the oldest first-time winner since Sheriff Walter Spens who won at the age of 52 years and 1 month in 1894.
- Glasgow Allegro 1st =, 2008
Selected team tournament wins
Andrew liked to be in a winning team and switched clubs to Shettleston in 1983 and Hamilton in 2003 to further his ambitions. Hamilton, whose premises at that time were at the local football club, had a large group of junior players including several internationalists under the supervision of Michael Hanley and in their peak season of 2004-05 won thirteen tournaments: all four divisions of the Glasgow League, both divisions of the Lanarkshire League, the Scottish National League, both sections of the Scottish Team Lightning, the AK Miller Glasgow League Handicap, the Glasgow League Junior and Rapidplay and the Richardson Cup. He was also behind the concentration of several strong West of Scotland players at Paisley YMCA in the 1990s with the intention of winning the British National championship. Bobby Mitchell, a lawyer, was unhappy that these players took all the glory and did not participate in events on club nights and in 1995 he forced these players out of the club. However this was very detrimental to the club and in 2001 after several demotions they were playing in Division 4 of the Glasgow League. Several of the Paisley players joined Crowwood where, under the organisation of John Henderson they were successful for a short while till the team split up. In all he achieved over 100 team titles.
- County Championship - Renfrewshire 1973
- Glasgow League 11 times - 1974 (Giffnock), 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001, 2004 (Shettleston), 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2016 (Hamilton)
- Richardson Cup 10 times - 1975 (Giffnock), 1984 (Shettleston), 1992 -1994 (Paisley), 1997, 1998 (Crowwood), 2005, 2007, 2010 (Hamilton). Andrew was involved in a couple of controversial incidents. In 1978, playing for a strong Glasgow University team containing several former junior internationalists, they could not decide their board order so played in a random order using dice. Their match against Ayr finished 4-4 but they were disqualified from the tournament. In 1983 he played his first ever match for Shettleston when he lost against Alan Shaw of Cathcart. He was deemed not bona fide and one point was removed from the Shettleston score and added to Cathcart. After losing this game, he was unbeaten in this tournament till 2005. He was the controller of this tournament from 2009-2015.
- Spens Cup 3 times – 1977 (Glasgow University) , 1986 (Giffnock), 2002 (Shettleston)
- London League winners - 1982 (Streatham)
- Scottish Team Lightning 26 times – 1983,1985,1986,1988-1990, 1992, 1993, 1995-2002 (Shettleston 16 times), 2004, 2006-2009, 2011-2015 (Hamilton 10 times). Regular team members for Shettleston were Douglas Bryson & Jimmy Doyle and for Hamilton Joe Redpath, Steven Tweedie & Pat Coffey. The best individual team score was in 1987 when Shettleston were 4th but beat a Dundee team of Paul Motwani, Colin McNab, David Findlay & Nicol Bathie 4-0
- A K Miller Glasgow League handicap 13 times – 1987, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1997-2000, 2003 (Shettleston), 2006-2008 (Hamilton). This tournament was not held after 2008 due to lack of entries.
- British National Club plate winners 1989 (Streatham)
- National League 11 times – 1991 (Paisley), 1996-1999 (Crowwood),
- 2008-2012, 2014 (Hamilton)
- British National Club champions 1994 – captain and board 1 when Paisley YMCA beat Guildford 4-2 in the final.
International master title
This was achieved in three successive tournaments between August and
- British Championships, 8th =, 7/11 (Andrew’s coach was IM Andrew Martin at the time, who arranged for him to share an apartment with himself
and Colin McNab during the tournament. Coincidentally Andrew played
these two players in the last two rounds scoring 1.5/2!)
- Arhus Festival, 1st , 7/9
- Ostend Open, 6/9
As a result of this, Andrew’s rating of 2425 in the January 1991 Elo rating list (his highest ever) was sufficient to complete the title requirements.
Andrew was the highest rated active Scottish player on this list and in
1991 he was the first ever winner of the Scottish Player of the Year award.
- Has represented Scotland 134 times (second only to Colin McNab)
- Played in the Clare Benedict team tournament in 1979
- Played in the Olympiad teams in 1984, 1990, 1992, 1996 and 1998. In 1984 Andrew was selected when Mark Condie withdrew only days before the event. His boss at Reed Stenhouse originally said that he would not be able to take time off work but, on seeing that Andrew was on the point of resigning, relented. Andrew feels he should have played in many more Olympiads. In 1992 the team was put up in 5-star hotels with swimming pools in Manila, the Philippines. The conditions were a balmy 90 degrees Fahrenheit each day. Team captain Chris Morrison, a far-east lawyer, ensured that the team was given a tour of the nightlife in the evenings. He was selected in 1994 but again his boss at Britannia Life refused him leave and this time, having just returned to actuarial work after a five-year break, Andrew thought it too risky to resign. Andrew thought he should have been selected in each of 2002, 2004 and 2006 but was overlooked.
- Awarded four Olympiad medals. In 1984 (seeded 39th, position 24th) and in 1990 (seeded 42nd, position 23rd) the team won medals for finishing the highest in the 3rd group, significantly above their seedings. In 1998 he was awarded the gold medal for the highest percentage score as 1st Reserve and a silver medal for the 2nd best percentage score in the whole Olympiad (6/7). This was especially fulfilling as the closing ceremony was held in Lenin Square, Kalmykia in front of a crowd of thousands of people who applauded the prizewinners enthusiastically.
- Played for a Great Britain team in the EEC Tournament in Italy, 1987
- Played in the European Team Championship in 1989, 1992, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. As players generally paid most of their own expenses for this, it was easier for Andrew to be selected for this tournament than the Olympiad.
Victories over World Championship runners up
- Beat Nigel Short in the Lloyds Bank Masters in 1978 (Short lost to Garry Kasparov 13.5-6.5 in the 1993 World Championship match).
- Beat Gata Kamsky in the 1990 Berne Open (Kamsky lost 10.5-7.5 to Anatoly Karpov in the 1996 final of the FIDE World Championship).
- Beat David Bronstein in the 1991 British Rapid Chess Championships (30 mins per game). (Bronstein drew with Mikhail Botvinnik 12-12 in the 1951 World Championship match).
Correspondence Chess (1982-1995
He was introduced to this by Nigel Povah of Streatham and encouraged by Douglas Bryson of Shettleston. At this time, all games were played by postcard and Andrew used Chess Informant for opening ideas and reams of A4 paper to write down his analysis.
- He played 64 games played in total (43 wins, 20 draws, and only 1 loss)
- British Postal county champions, Surrey, 1982
- British Postal team champions, Streatham, 1983
- Played Board 3 for winning Glasgow team in Tournament of Merited Teams, scoring 7.5/10, 1986-1990
- Played Board 1 for Scotland in 4th European Preliminaries, scoring 7/8, (team came 6th), 1988-1991
- Played Board 1 for Scotland in 3rd North Atlantic Team Tournament, scoring 8/10, (team came 5th), 1990-1993
- Played Board 2 for Scotland in 11th World Olympiad Final, scoring 9/12 (team came 3rd= attaining the bronze medal), 1992-1995
- Awarded Grandmaster title, 1995
- Ranked 22nd in the world in the August 1996 ICCF rating list
- Retired in 1995 due to return to actuarial work and rise in strength of computers
- He had winning position against World Champion Anatoly Karpov in simultaneous exhibition but lost, Glasgow, 1984
- He discussed the forthcoming British Championships on TV, Dundee, 1993
- He was selected as one of the thirteen Scottish Masters who each annotated five games in the 2008 book “Rampant Chess” by Geoff Chandler and Keith Ruxton
- International Director and Chairman of Selectors from 2009-2015
- The highest rated player he beat was Bassem Amin (2631) when in February 2013 at Reykjavik he beat two GMs on the same day.
Andrew studied at Glasgow University from 1975-79 (B Sc Hons Statistics II (1))
and in 1988 qualified as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. Having completed his professional qualifications he then took two years off work between 1989 and 1991 to attain the International Master title.
In 1991 he found it difficult to return to the actuarial profession and he trained to be a mathematics teacher at St. Andrew’s College, Bearsden. After a couple of years of supply teaching in secondary schools in Glasgow, he returned to actuarial work in 1994.
In 1999 he married Claire Constable in Chelmsford and their daughter Katherine was born in 2003.
He stood as an independent candidate in the 2016 Holyrood election.
He has lived in Dumbarton since 1982.
(Details correct as at May 2016).
Historian, Chess Scotland