The Chess Variant Pages

Tony Miles: It's Only Me - England's First Chess Grandmaster (Book review)

Tony Miles was one of the most well known British chess players. Born in 1955, he died in 2001 at the age of only 46 from a heart failure related to diabetes. In the book Tony Miles: It's Only Me, subtitled England's First Chess Grandmaster we find a compilation with much information on this remarkable chess player.

The book, compiled by Geoff Lawton, contains 18 chapters with various contents. Some of the chapters give information on the life, chess career, and personality of Miles, sometimes by personal memories. The other chapters display Tony Miles's chess. Many of these contain texts written by Miles himself: either texts written for newspapers, annoted games from tournaments, puzzles with solutions from a newspaper, etc.

Overall, the largest part of the book consists of chess games played by Miles, which were annotated, mostly by himself. The style in which Miles wrote the annotations make these pleasant to read, and an average chess player can follow most of what is happening, learning something about chess in the meantime. The books gives us an interesting insight in the life of a top chess player. Overall, this is an enjoyable chess book giving both interesting information on chess itself as on the history of chess and the life and chess games of a remarkable grandmaster.


It's Only Me is an anagram of Tony Miles and was the name with which Miles played often on the Internet.

One of the texts in the book reveales that Tony Miles also sometimes played chess variants, although not much information on that is given. I'll quote the short fragment from a chapter by Mike Fox:

Most regular were the meals at our local Chinese, with IM Geoff Lawton. The conversation was frequently in the stratosphere: two titled players talking recondite points of opening strategy, while I sat there nodding, pretending to understand. When this got too much, I would pull out the aforesaid pocket set and challenge the great man to a game of some obscure chess variant (three check chess, two king chess) that I'd been practising all week, in preparation. Infuriatingly, Tony (and often Geoff) would suss out the correct strategy within a couple of games, and I was back to being the patzer again.

The information, sent to me by the publisher (together with the free sample copy of the book :-) ) contained the following text:

From the archives of Britain's first grandmaster comes a fascinating and entertaining collection of games, articles, annotations, and reviews. This is the book Tony Miles would have written had he not died so prematurely in 2001, compiled by three of his close friends, and it contains all his most famous wins, some of his losses, and some hithereto unpublished games from his earlier years. Among the gems that will intrigue chess lovers: a full run-through of the famous match against Karpov with the St. George's opening 1 e4 a6, as well as a much less well-known victory over the then-world champion from a television tournament. Almost all of the games have commentary by Tony, in his own inimitable style. As well as being a great player, Tony Miles's notes prove that he was one of the funniest writers of the game.

A very interesting game that is given with Miles's annotations is his famous win against world champion Karpov. In this game he playes the rather infamous opening that is known as the St George's defence. Karpov has white, Miles has black, and the opening starts with 1. e4, a6 2. d4 b5.

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Tony Miles: 'It's Only Me'
England's First Chess Grandmaster
Compiled by Geoff Lawton; parts written by Mike Fox, Malcolm Hunt, Tony Miles, and others
Publisher: B.T. Batsford Ltd, Londen; Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York
256 pages; 150 b/w illus., including 7 photo's
ISBN: 0 7134 8809 3

Webpage written and made by Hans Bodlaender.
Webpage created: December 9, 2003.