Albéric O'Kelly de Galway

Albéric Joseph Rodolphe Marie Robert Ghislain O'Kelly de Galway (17 May 1911, in Anderlecht – 3 October 1980, in Brussels) was a Belgian chess Grandmaster (1956), an International Correspondence Chess Grandmaster (1962), and the third ICCF World Champion in correspondence chess (1959–1962). He was also a chess writer.

Albéric O'Kelly de Galway
Albéric O'Kelly de Galway 1961b.jpg
O'Kelly in 1961
Full nameAlbéric Joseph Rodolphe Marie Robert Ghislain O'Kelly de Galway
Born(1911-05-17)17 May 1911
Anderlecht, Belgium
Died3 October 1980(1980-10-03) (aged 69)
Brussels, Belgium
ICCF World Champion1959–62
FIDE rating2460 (January 1977)
ICCF rating2529 (July 1992)

Chess careerEdit

O'Kelly won the Belgian championships thirteen times between 1937 and 1959. He placed first at Beverwijk 1946. In 1947, he became one of Europe's leading players, having finished first at the 1947 European Zonal tournament at Hilversum, tied for first place with Pirc at Teplice Sanov, and tied for second at Venice. The next year, O'Kelly finished first at São Paulo ahead of Eliskases and Rossetto. He earned the title International Master (IM) in 1950, the first year the title was awarded. He placed first at Dortmund 1951. O'Kelly finished first at the round-robin Utrecht 1961 with 6½/9, followed by Karl Robatsch second with 6 points and Arthur Bisguier and Aleksandar Matanović tied for third and fourth with 5½.[1] He took part in The Gijón International Chess Tournaments (1949 and 1956), achieving respectively 2nd and 4th places.[2]

In 1958, he was awarded the Belgian decoration of the Golden Palm of the Order of the Crown, for his chess successes and the distinction he had brought to the nation.[3]

O'Kelly was made an International Arbiter in 1962 and was the chief arbiter of the world championship matches between Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky in 1966 and 1969. In 1974, he was the arbiter for the Moscow KarpovKorchnoi match.

He spoke French, Dutch, German, English, Spanish, and Russian fluently, and also some Italian. He published many books and articles, often in languages other than French. As a youth, he took lessons from the legendary Akiba Rubinstein.


O'Kelly was descended from John O'Kelly, an Irish-born British army officer who was granted a nobility title in 1720 in what was then the Austrian Low Countries.[4] Consequently, he was often styled as 'Count O'Kelly de Galway', for example on the front cover of his 1965 book about Petrosian.


The O'Kelly Variation in the Sicilian Defence: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6[5] is named after him.


  • O'Kelly de Galway, Albéric; Littlewood, John (1965), Tigran Petrosian: World Champion, Elsevier, ISBN 978-0-0801-1012-7
  • O'Kelly de Galway, Albéric (1969), The Sicilian Flank Game (Najdorf Variation), Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-0351-0
  • O'Kelly de Galway, Albéric (1976), Assess Your Chess Fast: From Expert to Master, Batsford, ISBN 978-0-7134-1055-6
  • O'Kelly de Galway, Albéric (1978), Improve Your Chess Fast, Batsford, ISBN 0-7134-1053-1

Notable gamesEdit



  1. ^ Horowitz, I. A. (February 1962), "The World of Chess: Another for O'Kelly", Chess Review, vol. 30, no. 2, p. 35
  2. ^ Mendez Pedro & Mendez Luis (2019). The Gijón International Chess Tournaments. McFarland. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-4766-7659-3.
  3. ^ Sunnucks, Anne (1976). The Encyclopaedia of Chess (2nd Ed.). Hale. p. 336. ISBN 0709146973.
  4. ^ Axel Klein (2014). O'Kelly: An Irish Musical Family in Nineteenth-Century France. BoD – Books on Demand. p. 3. ISBN 978-3-7357-2310-9.
  5. ^ Wall, Bill. "Opening Names". Bill Wall's Chess Page. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 30 June 2009.


External linksEdit

Preceded by World Correspondence Chess Champion
Succeeded by