Joseph Strachstein - later Joseph Stone

16 March 1906, London - 1972, London

Associated with the Bohemian CC (Glasgow).

Reports of his chess activities show his name as Strachstein, though when his birth was registered in the second quarter (June) of 1906 it was recorded as Stracstein.

 

He appears on a low board for Middlesex County in 1926, and continued to play for them in later years, rising to one of the top boards.

In 1933 he took 1st place in the London Congress Major tournament with 9/11, ahead of Harold Brown and W.H. Watts, both with 8.

Strachstein was accepted as a member ofthe Bohemian CC in Glasgow at their 26 May 1937 meeting, as shown in the club Minute Book. He played for the club on several occasions over the next few years, including in Richardson Cup matches in Scotland's premier team competition. (It is possible that Strachstein had family connections in Glasgow; the name appears in Scotland's national records.)

Here is his win against Dr J.M. Aitken on first board of a Richardson Cup second round match.

Dr J.M. Aitken (Edinburgh CC) - J. Strachstein (Bohemian CC)
Richardson Cup (R2), 07. January 1939
[B38]
Notes by Dr Aitken

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.f3 g6 6.c4 Bg7 7.Nc3 00 8.Be3 Nc6 9.Qd2 Nxd4 10.Bxd4 Be6 11.Be2 Qa5 12.00 Nd7 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.b3 Rac8 15.Rac1 f6 16.Kh1 Ne5 17.f4 Nc6 18.g4 Bf7 19.h4 h6 20.Rcd1 g5 [An enterprising move, but the subsequent play shows it is hardly sound.]

21.fxg5 fxg5 22.Rf5 Ne5 23.hxg5 Bg6 24.gxh6+ Kh7 25.Rdf1 [I elected here to give up the exchange and rely on the dynamic force of the K-side pawns rather than play the simpler 25.Rxf8 Rxf8 26.Qe3 Qb6 In that event Black would probably soon regain one of his pawns and would have very good drawing chances owing to his excellent piece formation.]

25...Bxf5 26.exf5 Nxg4 [Black rightly resorts to heroic measures to spoil White's plan and obtain counterplay. My position was extremely difficult despite my material advantage; however, I
should still have won.]

27.Bxg4 Rf6 28.Rf2 Rg8 [Not 28...Rxh6+ 29.Rh2 Rxh2+ 30.Qxh2+ Kg8 31.f6 and wins.]

29.Bf3 Aitken provided detailed notes here and for the later part of the game in the Glasgow Herald chess column of 20 January 1939, p4, but most of them could not be deciphered.

[The crisis of the game. The winning move was 29.Bh5! with the threat of Bg6+. The following are the variations:-

A) 29...Rxf5 30.Qd3 e6 31.Bf7 and wins.]

B) 29...Rxh6 30.Rh2 Qxf5 (30...Rh8 31.Qg5 with a winning attack.) 31.Qxh6+ Kxh6 32.Bg4+ and wins. Other notes and variations were unreadable.

29...Qe5 30.Rh2? Qxf5 31.Qc2 Qxc2 32.Rxc2 Rxf3 33.Nd5 Rf1+ 34.Kh2 Rf5 35.Rg2 Rxg2+ 36.Kxg2 Rxd5 37.cxd5 Kxh6 38.Kf3 Kg5 39.Ke4 Kg4 40.a4 Kg5 41.b4 Kg4 42.a5 b5 43.axb6 axb6 44.Kd4 b5 01

During the 1939-45 war Strachstein served as a driver with the Royal Engineers.

In 1944 he officlally changed his name:

 

The London Gazette, 21 July 1944 (p. 3428).

In 1946, as Stone, he played in the London International Tournament sponsored by The Sunday Chronicle. He finished last but one in his 12-player section with 2/11, but this in cluded a defeat of Tartakower. The March 1946 British Chess Magazine (p. 71) commented:

A word must be said about Stone, a newcomer to events of this class. His final score was not high but he beat Tartakower, an achievement of which any master may be proud, and all his games were hard fought. With a little more experience he should prove a dangerous opponent for the best.

J. Stone - S. Tartakower
London 1946, Section 'A' (10)
[A47]

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. d4 b6 3. g3 Bb7 4. Bg2 c5 5. O-O cxd4 6. Nxd4 Bxg2 7. Kxg2 Qc8 8. Qd3 g6 9. Qf3 Nc6 10. Nxc6 dxc6 11. Bd2 Bg7 12. Bc3 O-O 13. Nd2 Qe6 14. Nb3 c5 15. Rad1 Rad8 16. Nc1 Nd5 17. Bxg7 Kxg7 18. c4 Nf6 19. b3 Qe4 20. Rd3 Rxd3 21. Nxd3 Rd8 22. Qxe4 Nxe4 23. Rc1 Ng5 24. Rd1 Kf6 25. f3 Ne6 26. e3 Rd6 27. Nb2 Nd8 28. Rxd6+ exd6 29. f4 Ke6 30. e4 Nc6 31. Nd1 f5 32. exf5+ Kxf5 33. Nc3 Nd4 34. Kf2 a6 35. h3 h5 36. Ke3 b5 37. Ne4 Ke6 38. g4 hxg4 39. hxg4 b4 40. Ng5+ Ke7 41. Nf3 Nc6 42. Ke4 Kd7 43. Nh4 Ne7 44. f5 gxf5+ 45. gxf5 Ng8 46. Kf4 a5 47. Ng2 Ne7 48. Ne3 Nc6 49. Kg5 Ke7 50. Kg6 Ne5+ 51. Kg7 Kd7 52. Nd5 a4 53. Nb6+ Kc6 54. Nxa4 d5 55. cxd5+ Kxd5 56. f6 Kd4 57. Nb6 Kc3 58. f7 Nxf7 59. Kxf7 Kb2 60. Na4+ Kxa2 61. Nxc5 Kb2 62. Ke6 1-0

In 1947 a team of Czechoslovakian players visited Britain and played a series of matches. One of these encounters was over four boards against Middlesex, played on 12 June. Stone played on top board but lost against Dr Florian.

In 1949 Stone played for the London League in a radio match against Sydney, Australia, winning his game against S. Kruger.

Over 50 years as a leading amateur, Strachstein-Stone was associated with several London clubs. In his earlier years he was with the North London CC. Later, according to the July 1972 BCM, he played for Hampstead in the London League and Finchley CC in other competitions.

Stone died in 1972; his death registration indicated his date of birth as 16 March 1906.

Alan McGowan
Historian, Chess Scotland

updated 22/6/2022