The tiger is slain – Simon Webb, 1949–2005

by ChessBase
3/22/2005 – International Master Simon Webb, successful junior and correspondence player, was killed by his son in his Stockholm apartment last week. The tragedy occurred when Webb returned from a tournament late at night. After the attack the son tried to commit suicide. Simon Webb is best known for his book Chess for Tigers.

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Simon Webb was born in 1949 in London. He learned chess at the age of seven, and became a strong over-the-board player, winning the British Under-18 championship in 1966, and coming fourth in the European Junior Championship. In 1981 he took up correspondence chess, where he had his greatest successes. He achieved IM and GM titles in the BPCF Jubilee Tournament in 1983, his first international correspondence event. Simon has also represented England at bridge, partnering his younger brother. He moved to and worked in Sweden as a quality manager.

Last week, at the age of 55, Simon Webb was attacked by his 25-year-old son, in his fifth floor apartment in the Stockholm suburb of Kallhaell, after returning by train from Malmö late at night from a tournament. Mr Webb’s wife, the mother of the assailant, walked in on the pair to see her husband lying on the floor. He had been stabbed at least 20 times. The son took the couple’s car and drove it at high speed into a bus shelter in what police believe was an attempted suicide.

Inspector Hans Strindlund of the Stockholm Police said: “Something happened because his wife heard screaming and came down and found Mr Webb had been stabbed and she immediately realised it was the son who did it. There was very much hate in the way he behaved.” The son, a convicted drug dealer, first pushed his father then reached for a kitchen knife and dug it into Mr Webb’s stomach. He then drove off and ploughed into a bus stop by a wall and emergency services spent hours extracting him from the wreck. But he suffered only a broken nose and was well enough within a few days to appear in court. He has been charged with his father’s murder. Mr Strindlund said the motive for the killing was unclear.

“We were playing together in the finals of the Swedish Chess League in Malmö,” Per Soederberg, a leading Swedish player, said. “Simon said goodbye and travelled by train to Stockholm. He must have arrived home at about 1am, and then had an argument with his son.”

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Chess for Tigers

Most chess players know Simon Webb for his book "Chess for Tigers". Written 27 years ago it became the definitive tournament player's bible. In recent months Webb had been negotiating with publishers to bring out a new edition of his book.

Chess For Tigers

By Simon Webb

Oxford University Press
Oxford, 1978

Illustrations by Edward McLachlan, 99 pages soft cover

Here are some opinions on this book:

  • "Next time you need to beat a player, to get more rating points, think of yourself as a predator, looking for lunch, and see what ideas come to you. That's what Simon Webb did in his excellent book "Chess for Tigers." Predators, which I personally enjoyed learning about, include the Jellyfish and the Crocodile, their methods can also be applied to chess. – Mark Bowen, Kingston, Jamaica in The Chess Drum.

  • If you haven't read it, may I suggest you head for the nearest bookshop and get Chess for Tigers, the greatest chess book for club players ever written. And if you ever see Simon Webb - he's the one with the stripey tail and ferocious grin with legions of small tigers worshipping at his paws - buy him a pint for me. – Alex Bourke, Kings Head

  • "Written for the average player, Chess for Tigers is a real 'love it or hate it' book. Most players love it. 98% of the material is absolutely crucial for weekend tournament players, but the other 2% is why some players hate the book: Webb provides some cheap tricks to help you win games and at least one of them is completely illegal according to tournament rules. – Steve Lopez, ChessBase Workshop.

Some impressions from the book:

Control of the clock is one of the most important and most neglected aspects of practical play. Hundreds of volumes have been written on openings, and yet hardly anything on how to handle the clock correctly; so I will try to redress the balance to some small extent in this chapter. Even if you play most of your chess without clocks, you are bound sooner or later to play in a club match or local tournament where clocks are used, and then you will need to make the most of the time available if you are to do yourself justice.

Ideally you should apportion your time so that the length of time you think over each move is related to the difficulty of the move, and so that you use all the time available without having to rush at the end. This is easier said than done, and many experienced players, including some grandmasters, seem unable to avoid getting into time-trouble game after game. As a result they regularly throw away good positions, and fail to achieve the results of which they are capable. If this sound like you, then you have an easy way of improving your results. Stop getting into time-trouble! Forget about openings, tactics, strategy, and all the rest of your game. First concentrate on this one aspect of chess, and when you have conquered it your results will improve automatically. Only then should you return to improving the rest of your play.

The rest is just technique.' How many times have you heard this cliché? What does it mean? What sort of technique is involved?

We all fail to win 'won' positions much more often than we should. In fact if we were fully equipped with the sort of technique the annotators seem to take for granted, our opponents could resign much earlier than they do in real life. But even strong grandmasters let clearly winning positions slip from their grasp from time to time, so clearly the technique involved is far from easy to apply in practice.

"It may be that stronger players actually consider more 'stupid' moves than weaker ones
- dismissing most of them, but not ruling them out without a glance! It may be that this is
the only possible explanation for, say, some of Tal's moves." – Simon Webb

"A game of chess is never drawn until it's drawn. All too frequently players agree draws in level positions, without realising that there are ways of winning these positions against a careless opponent." – Simon Webb

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