Jonathan Penrose (born 1933) won the British Chess Championship a record 10 times between 1958 and 1969 - in 1960 Penrose even defeated Mikhail Tal, the reigning World Championship in the Chess Olympiad at Leipzig. But by 1972 the decade of Penrose's dominance had ended and a new generation of English chess talent was thrusting itself to the fore, a generation including Raymond Keene, Bill Hartston, Brian Eley, George Botterill and Robert Bellin.
Of these perhaps the brightest star was Ray Keene (born 1948). Keene won the Hastings Challengers tournament in 1965-66 with the right to compete the next year in the Hastings Premier. At the Premier in 1966-67 he achieved the notable feat of defeating the recent World Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik. Keene had his first book on chess (Flank Openings, 1967) published while he was still at university. He won the British Championship in 1971 and so was the reigning British Champion during the Teesside Granmaster Tournament of 1972.
Spassky v Fischer 1972
In 1971 the Bobby Fischer phenomenon had given chess publicity like never before. Chess clubs were bulging at the seams with new members. In qualifying matches for the world championship, Fischer had defeated two leading Grandmasters, Taimanov and Larsen, by the unheard-of margin of 6-0, to set up a match for the World Championship with the reigning champion, Boris Spassky.
The Teeside Grandmaster tournament came about through a suggestion of Yugoslav grandmaster, Svetozar Gligoric, at a simultaneous display in 1970 (see the website of the Cleveland Chess Association). Hard work by organiser Gerry Walsh, with the assistance of arbiter and author Harry Golembek, bore fruit in 1972 in what was the strongest tournament seen in England for many years.
The start of the tournament was supposed to coincide with the start of the Spassky-Fischer match. The latter was hit by Fischer-inspired delays so that the tournament ran from April 17th to May 5th, 1972, before the World Championship match. Furthermore, the Russian Chess Federation informed the organisers at the last minute that the two Soviet stars promised, Tal and Vasyukov, would not be coming (I guess that the Russians decided that their services might be required to help Spassky). Fortunately, the organisers were able to obtain adequate replacements at very short notice. The players comprised -.
Bent Larsen. Denmark. Born 4.31935. GM title 1956
Ljubomir Ljubojevic. Yugoslavia. Born 2.11.1950. GM title 1971
Lajos Portisch. Hungary. Born 4.4.1937. GM title 1961
Svetozar Gligoric. Yugoslavia. Born 2.2.1923. GM Title 1951
Georgi Tringov. Bulgaria. Born 7.3.1937 Died 2.7.2000. GM title 1963
Istvan Bilek. Hungary. Born 11.8.1932. GM title 1962
Florin Gheorghiu. Romania. Born 6.4.1944. GM title 1965
Bruno Parma. Yugoslavia. Born 30.121941. GM title 1963
Gyula Sax. Hungary. Born 18.6.1951. IM 1972 (GM 1974)
Hans Ree. Holland. Born 15.11.1944. IM 1968 (GM1980)
Ulf Anderson. Sweden. Born 26.6.1951. (GM late 1972)
Hans-Joachim Hecht. Germany. Born 29.1.1939. IM 1969 (GM 1973)
Robert Wade. England. Born 10.4.1921 Died 29.11.2008. IM 1950
Robert Bellin. England Born 30.6.1952. (IM 1977)
Raymond Keene. England. Born 29.1.1948. IM 1972 (GM1976)
Bernard Cafferty. England. Born 27.1934