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Judge David knows all the legal moves

He began playing chess at just five years old, and 62 years later, David Anderton is showing no signs of giving up.


The 67-year-old former England team captain is still pitting his wits against players around the world.

He juggles his responsibilities as a district judge at courts around the West Midlands and legal adviser with playing more than 50 competitive games of chess a year in the UK and abroad.

Under his guidance, the England team won three silver and two bronze medals at the Olympiad, and he was awarded an OBE for his services to chess in 1976.

But despite all his decorations, he is still a keen student of the game and loves nothing better than honing his skills every Thursday night at Pleck Working Men's Club with the Walsall Kipping club, along with his school teacher wife Doreen, aged 53, who is also a chess fanatic.

The two met at the club over a game of chess and are both heading to Austria in April for a senior team championship.

Mr Anderton, who is also honorary legal adviser to the English Chess Federation, said: "When you become interested in something like chess it fascinates you forever and you are always learning new things.

"I met my wife over a game of chess and it is something which has always been a part of my life and always will be."

Mr Anderton said he remembered the day his father first got out the black and white checked board when he was just five.

Quickly picking it up, he went on to become schools champion at Tettenhall College, and then began to play for Wolverhampton Kipping club before graduating to national level.

One of Mr Anderton's earliest memories was back in 1959 when he came up against leading Endgland player Peter Clarke in which he managed to hold him to a draw.

In 1972, he was appointed non-playing England team captain, a role he had for 20 years, leading the nation's best players against the likes of top Russian players including Gary Kasparov, who became the youngest world chess champion in 1985, aged 22. Mr Anderton was also president of the British Chess Federation from 1972 to 1982, and international director from 1982 to 1990. In his playing career he was Midlands Champion in 1979 and was three times British Senior Champion in 2003, 2005 and 2007. He has travelled as far afield as Argentina, Moscow, Israel and Dubai to compete.

The experienced master of the game said he cherishes his memories. "I have met some great people from the world of chess including Gary Kasparov," he said. "I served on the experts commission for the World Chess Federation in the 1990s and was chairing a meeting and the first item was apologies. Mr Kasparov saw this and banged on the table saying he had nothing to apologise for.

"When we were playing the former USSR it was during the Cold War years and there were a lot of big minders around."

Mr Anderton also recalls the Phillips and Drew tournament in 1980 and meeting the late Tony Banks who was sports minister. As well as being a respected figure in the world of chess, Mr Anderton is also a well- known character in the legal world. This week he celebrates 50 years of service with Midland law firm Ansons LLP, which was formed after a de-merger of Haden & Stretton. Although retired as a senior partner, he still acts as a consultant to Ansons.

Since 1977, Mr Anderton has also served as a Deputy District Judge, which makes him one of the longest serving on the circuit.

And he draws parallels between the two: "I think chess does allow you to look at things logically which is obviously useful in legal work. "It is just a great game which is always changing and fascinating."

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