Claremont Fan Court School

Former staff, 1983 - 2022

Michael Basman

Siblings Arjan (Esher, Class of 2024) and Diya (Esher, Class of 2022) share their favourite memories of learning how to play chess with International Master, the late Michael Basman:

We were fortunate to have Michael Basman run inspirational chess clubs at Claremont Fan Court School for over thirty years. His efforts encouraged countless young players to enjoy the wonderful benefits of chess.

“The energy, originality and joy that Mike brought to all his endeavours is a source of great inspiration. He believed that young minds should be encouraged to be rational, compassionate and creative and that through chess and the UK Chess Challenge he could help develop these traits in the next generation. Mike was a fighter at the board and away from it – not afraid to stand up for his beliefs.  Mike leaves behind an incredible chess legacy.” (Delancy UK Schools’ Chess Challenge)

Michael was a renowned English chess player, author and organiser who was awarded the title of International Master in 1980.  He founded and organised the UK Chess Challenge from 1996 and was a central figure in bringing chess to several generations of junior players.

Michael competed at the highest levels of English chess over many years and  defeated several Grand Masters in competitions. His achievements include popularising the Grob and invention of the Basman Attack and St George’s Defence openings. The St George Defence was used by Grand Master Tony Miles to defeat Grand Master Anatoly Karpov 1980. In 2020 he was one of ten chess seniors who were the subject of a tribute by International Chess Federation (FIDE) for their contributions to the game.

Michael could often be found teaching chess in the library at Claremont Fan Court School and his legacy is keenly felt by the chess community.

A word from Arjan on Mike awarding Diya the Stenning Cup:

“The Stenning Cup is an annual award presented to a pupil in the Prep School who shows ability in chess. During Diya’s time at the Prep School, she had won the award and was the reigning champion. When Diya moved to the Senior School, she still continued to go to Mike’s class for the last half hour of the lesson. Arjan then became the number one player in the prep school and was the logical winner of the cup. However, Mike wanted to give it to Diya, as she was unofficially the number one player. Mike was going to award the cup to Diya again, but was not allowed to by staff as she was ineligible. Mike insisted that it was Diya or no-one, and by not budging Mike, the maverick got his way. Hence, that year, no one won the award, and there is a missing year on the cup. The following year, Arjan won the award.”