|Intro||Canadian International Grandmaster of chess|
|Is||Engineer Chess player|
|From||United States of America Canada|
|Birth||21 December 1945, San Francisco, San Francisco County, California, USA|
Duncan Suttles (born 21 December 1945) is a Grandmaster (chess) of chess who was the strongest Canadian player between the eras of Abe Yanofsky and Kevin Spraggett. He is one of the few over-the-board grandmasters who also holds the title of Grandmaster of International Correspondence Chess. Suttles has been inactive in over-the-board play since the mid-1980s. He currently serves with the software firm Magnetar Games, as President and Chief Technologist.
Suttles was born in San Francisco, California, but moved to Canada at a young age during the American draft. He was of National Master strength by his mid-teens, which was unusual for Canadian chess at that time. His early mentor was mathematician and master Elod Macskasy.
Suttles made his first appearance in the Closed Canadian Chess Championship at Brockville, 1961, at age 15, and scored 3/11. Suttles won the British Columbia Championship in 1963 and 1966. In his second Closed, he scored 8½ from 15 games at Winnipeg 1963, finishing just above the middle of the strongest and youngest field yet seen in a Canadian final. Suttles tied for 3rd–5th places in the 1964 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Toronto, and as the top junior, qualified for the 1965 Junior World Chess Championship. At home in Vancouver for the 1965 Canadian Championship, Suttles scored 8/11 and finished second, behind eight-time champion Daniel Yanofsky. As a dual Canadian-American citizen, Suttles was also eligible for the United States Championship, New York City 1965–66, in which he finished last with 2½/11, an event won by Bobby Fischer.
Suttles attended the University of British Columbia, and represented the school in interuniversity chess competition. He earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics, and began doctoral-level studies, but did not complete his PhD.
Suttles represented Canada at the Junior World Chess Championship, Barcelona 1965, but was drawn into a strong preliminary group which included the eventual winner Bojan Kurajica, and could only score 1½/4, failing to advance to the finals. Suttles did manage to win the 'B' final, ahead of Raymond Keene. Suttles represented Canada in the qualifying Interzonal event for the World Chess Championship at Sousse 1967, scoring 9½/21 for 15th place. Suttles won the Canadian Chess Championship held at Pointe-Claire 1969, after a playoff match with Zvonko Vranesic in Toronto, which Suttles won by 2½–1½. He took another crack at the Interzonal level at Palma de Mallorca 1970, scoring 10/23 for a tied 15–16th place, but did not qualify for the final Candidates' matches that would choose the title challenger.
Suttles appeared at age 18 on the Canadian Olympiad team for Tel Aviv 1964, for the first of his eight selections, including six in a row, over a period of 20 years. He usually played a large number of games in these team events, close to the maximum. Here are his complete results; his totals for Canada in Olympiads are: (+49 −30 =43), for 57.8 percent. He also played board one for Canada on its bronze medal winning team at the 1971 Student Olympiad.
- Tel Aviv 1964: 1st reserve, 5½/10, +4 −2 =3;
- Havana 1966: 4th board, 10/18, +8 −5 =5;
- Lugano 1968: 2nd board, 11½/17, +7 =9 −1;
- Siegen 1970: 2nd board, 8/16, +3 −3 =10;
- Mayagüez Student Olympiad 1971: 1st board, 6½/11, +6 −4 =1, team bronze;
- Skopje 1972: 1st board, 9½/17, +6 −4 =7;
- Nice 1974: 1st board, 10½/19, +8 −6 =5;
- Valletta 1980: 2nd board, 3/8, +2 −4 =2;
- Thessaloniki 1984: 1st board, 5/11, +4 −5 =2.
Suttles became a Canadian citizen in 1966, and married his wife Dobrila in 1968.
Suttles was already of Grandmaster strength by 1968, and in fact qualified for the grandmaster title at the Lugano Olympiad. However, he was denied the title on the basis of a technicality, that he had played (and won) one more than the required number of games in the event. Instead, Suttles settled for the International Master title, earned in 1967 at the Sousse Interzonal. He finally achieved the Grandmaster title at the San Antonio tournament of 1972, gaining the last half-point he needed against Armenian Grandmaster and former world champion Tigran Petrosian.
He won the Canadian Open Chess Championship at Ottawa 1973. He also won the 1973 La Presse Open in Montreal. Suttles tied for first place in the U.S. Open Chess Championship at Chicago 1973, scoring 10/12 and defeating GM Walter Browne in the last round. Suttles placed clear second in the 1974 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Montreal with 9½/11, losing only to the winner Ljubomir Ljubojević.
While taking a break from over-the-board chess, he won a pre-computer era high level correspondence chess tournament, the Heilimo Memorial, played from 1978–1981. He was awarded the title of International Grandmaster of Correspondence Chess in 1982, making him one of the very few players to hold GM titles both for over the board chess and chess by correspondence.
Playing style and legacy
In his youth, Suttles was strongly influenced by Aron Nimzowitsch, and became well known due to his preference for hypermodern openings. He was perhaps the world's leading advocate of the Modern Defence from the mid-1960s, and showed that this line, a universal defence against any White opening move, was fully playable, which had not been the case before his time. The line was nicknamed the 'Rat', for the Black fianchettoed bishop which kept dodging around in its holes! As White, Suttles favoured 1.e4, with a predilection for the Closed Variation against the Sicilian Defence, and the baroque Vienna Game after 1.e4 e5. He occasionally played the English Opening (1.c4) as well. By the early 1970s, he was frequently opening with 1.g3 as White, aiming for a reversed Modern Defence, another new opening idea. His unique skills – such as the avoidance of main opening lines, use of a defensive kingside fianchetto, development of knights to unusual squares, and sudden eruption of tactics – are well illustrated by the selection of games listed below, which are all characteristic of Suttles at his best.
Suttles was the leader in a group of strong young British Columbia masters mentored by the veteran Macskasy. The players competed hard head-to-head, but also worked together, learned from each other, and employed original playing styles to largely dominate Canadian chess for the better part of a decade. Other members of this group from the late 1960s included Peter Biyiasas, Bruce Harper, Jonathan Berry, and Robert Zuk.
A significant project, entitled Chess on the Edge, includes the largest annotated collection of his games, more than 600 in all. Simultaneous publication of the three volumes took place in March, 2008, with the publisher being the Chess'n Math Association. FM Bruce Harper, one of Suttles' students, led the effort, with assistance from GM Yasser Seirawan, Dutch IM Gerard Welling, and GMC Jonathan Berry.
Notable chess games
- Gyozo Forintos vs Duncan Suttles, Tel Aviv Olympiad 1964, Modern Defence / Queen's Pawn Game (A40), 0–1 White responds in quiet and unusual fashion, but the game soon intensifies to Black's advantage.
- Milan Matulovic vs Duncan Suttles, Sousse Interzonal 1967, Modern Defence, Averbakh Variation (A42), 0–1 The strong Yugoslav Grandmaster is seemingly perplexed by Black's unusual strategy.
- Bent Larsen vs Duncan Suttles, Sousse Interzonal 1967, Modern Defence (B06), 0–1 Larsen was the Chess Oscar winner for 1967, so this win was perhaps the biggest so far for the young Canadian.
- Hans-Joachim Hecht vs Duncan Suttles, Belgrade 1969, Modern Defence (B06), 0–1 Another Modern execution of a strong European; the game is finally decided after a very long endgame.
- Duncan Suttles vs Borislav Ivkov, Belgrade 1969, Modern / Hungarian Opening (A00), 1–0 One of the first games for this new variation, and it turns out successfully for White.
- Larry Evans vs Duncan Suttles, San Antonio 1972, Modern Defence (B06), 0–1 The many-time American champion gets schooled in new ways.
- Ken Rogoff vs Duncan Suttles, Canadian Open, Ottawa 1973, Modern Defence (B06), 0–1 Two young stars debate leading edge opening ideas.
- Duncan Suttles vs Kevin Spraggett, Canadian Open, Ottawa 1973, Sicilian Defence, Closed Variation (B26), 1–0 Spraggett was one of the top young Canadians of the next generation at this stage; he would go on to become Canada's strongest-ever player.
- Walter Browne vs Duncan Suttles, U.S. Open, Chicago 1973, Modern Defence (B06), 0–1 The rising star Browne, an eventual six-time American champion, learns painfully about Suttles' exploitation of weak squares.
- Duncan Suttles vs Pal Benko, Hastings 1973–74, Modern / Hungarian Opening (A00), 1–0 It was Benko himself who had first introduced this variation in the early 1960s, but here Suttles shows off a few new twists.
- Karl Robatsch vs Duncan Suttles, Nice Olympiad 1974, Modern Defence (A41), 0–1 Suttles shows he is still among the world's best with the Modern.
- Lubomir Kavalek vs Duncan Suttles, Nice Olympiad 1974, Pirc Defence (B08), 0–1 The top American board has to concede defeat.
- Duncan Suttles vs Bent Larsen, Canadian Open, Montreal 1974, English Opening (A13), 1–0 Suttles takes off the many-time Candidate Larsen again, this time on home soil.
- Duncan Suttles vs Samuel Reshevsky, Lone Pine 1975, English Opening (A26), 1–0 Reshevsky was the epitome of orthodox play in chess, so this game is a fascinating contrast of styles.
- Duncan Suttles vs Tony Miles, Vancouver 1981, Modern / Hungarian Opening (A00), 1–0 Miles, after losing this game, would go on to use this variation himself with success.
- Yasser Seirawan vs Duncan Suttles, Vancouver 1981, English Opening (A21), 0–1 Seirawan was one of the world's top young players, and he would develop a style which resembled that of Suttles.
- Pal Benko vs Duncan Suttles, Boston 1964, Modern Defence, 1–0 Suttles loses this game due to an oversight at the end but it is a wonderful game is full of tactics and plays like one long combination. This game was chosen by Canadian IM Lawrence Day as his favourite game in Learn From The Grandmasters.