Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sitges: the ultimate blunder

Persson-Horton, Sitges 2015 round seven. Position after 58. Rb7-b8.

During the tournament at Sitges I came across, can't remember why, some pages on Google Books from Klaus Trautmann's El Último Error, the Spanish translation of his book Der Lehtze Fehler, The Final Error, originally published in German in 2004. As far as I can see it's never been translated into English, which is probably a shame. Tim Krabbé mentions it here.

The subtitle of the book is 128 irrtümlich aufgegebene Schachpartien, which is more German than I can read unaided, but in Spanish is 128 Partidas Abandonadas Erróneamente, which I can render without difficulty as "128 games wrongly resigned", which makes it both a suitable introduction to this piece and ironic that I was carrying around the excerpt from Google Books during that particular tournament.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

DG XXV: "Verghese, chess, Alzheimer’s"

Clause 1 Accuracy
i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures.

Verghese, chess, Alzheimer’s. Ray Keene - who is currently the subject of a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation relating to comments about chess and dementia that he published back in May - returned to this familiar combination at the weekend.

On Saturday I splurged £1.50 at WH Smiths to get a look at Saturday’s chess column (see left). If Ray’s efforts mean that more people will find "Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia" in the Elderly - the article that Verghese and others published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 - then that’s great news. If they end up actually reading it, so much the better. If nothing else, it will become very obvious very quickly that there is nothing at all in Verghese’s work that justifies that claim that "chess is a valuable way to combat the onset of Alzheimer’s".

To recap, the Verghese’s study:-
(a) doesn’t mention the word "chess" even once (DG III);
(b) doesn’t conclude that playing board games prevents Alzeheimer’s (DG VII).
That chess may be helpful with respect to Alzheimer’s disease is an entirely reasonable conclusion to draw from the Verghese’s work. Especially if we assess the study in the light of more recent research (see DG: The Knowledge Pile). Unfortunately - if not unsurprisingly - entirely reasonable conclusions are going to be in short supply in the Times’ chess column this week.

If you do a search for Verghese, chess, Alzheimer’s over the next few days, please feel free to use the comments box to let me know what you find. In the meantime, it’s back to IPSO we go.

Chess and Dementia Index

Monday, August 24, 2015

History Boy 3

[Pawn endings will be back next week. In the meantime, here’s Martin with something more worthy of your attention - JMGB]

Well done again Paul McKeown for another splendid chess history session at the City Lit., back on 10th August: this time on the great London International Tournament of 1851. It was the second of what we hope (down here in London) will be a regular feature of the annual summer break in local league chess.

Paul didn't disappoint his audience of a dozen or so, comprising a fair cross-section of chess strength and acquaintance with ancient chess history, and including some familiar faces from last year when he talked about the de la Bourdonnais-McDonnell match of 1834. There were some familiar faces in the PowerPoint as well as he lightly reprised a few characters from mid-19th Century chess, before introducing us to some others involved in the first ever London Chess Classic.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

DG: The Knowledge Pile

"The trouble with Social Work", my old professor used to say, "is that it doesn’t so much have a knowledge base as a knowledge pile." With apologies to him - Brian Sheldon - I think I’m about to
reproduce the problem here.

One day this page will have turned in to an orderly list of resources and sources of information about and/or relevant to the theme of chess and dementia. Sorted according to type (journal articles; reports; newspaper /website articles etc) and topic, what I’m aiming for is a webpage that is the place to start for anybody interesting in finding accurate and reliable information from trusted sources. And perhaps a reference or two to the less reliable and less trusted, if only to make sure that we all know what’s out there.

One day.

What it is going to be for a long while - what it certainly is now - is a more or less random list of (a) things I happen to have come across and (b) have had time to record here. No real structure and no explanation of what the different publications are or why somebody might be interested in reading them.

Still, starting small is better than not starting at all. I’ll be adding things as we go along, with an initial focus on material that can be easily found online. If you happen to know of something that’s not already included here, please do get in touch in the comments box and let me know.

Chess and Dementia Index


Akbaraly T N, Portet F, Fustinoni S, Dartigues J-F, Artero S, Rouaud O, Touchon J, Ritchie K, Berr C  (2009)
Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly: Results from the Three-City Study, Neurology vol 73 no 11, 854-861

Abstract; Full text not currently available online

Dartigues J F, Foubert-Samier A, Le Goff M, Viltard M, Amieva H, Orgogozo J M, Barberger-Gateau P, Helmer C (2013)
Playing board games, cognitive decline and dementia: a French population-based cohort study, BMJ Open: 3

Hall C B, Lipton R B, Silwinski M, Katz M J, Derby C A, Verghese J (2009)
Cognitive Activities Delay Onset of memory Decline in Persons Who Develop Dementia, Neurology, vol 73 no 5, 356-361
Abstract; Full text

Hughes T F, Chang C-C H, Vander Bilt J, Ganguly M (2010)
Engagement in Reading and Hobbies and Risk of Incident Dementia: The MoVIES Project, The American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, 25(5) 432-438
Abstract; Full Text

Sorman D E, Sundstrom A, Ronnlund M, Adolfsson R, Nilsson L-G (2013)
Leisure Activity in Old Age and Risk of Dementia: A 15-Year Prospective Study, Journals of Gerontology, Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, vol 69 no 4, 493-501
Abstract; Full Text

Verghese J, Lipton R B,  Katz M J, Hall C B, Derby C A, Kuslansky G, Ambrose A F, Silwinski M, Buschke M (2003)
Leisure Activities and the Risk of Dementia in the Elderly New England Journal of Medicine 348 2508-2516

Wang H-X, Weili X, Jin-Jing P (2012)
Leisure Activities Cognition and Dementia, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, vol 1822 no 3, 482-491
Abstract; Full text


Daviglus ML, Bell CC, Berrettini W, Connolly ES jr, Cox NJ, Dunbar-Jacob JM, Granieri EC, Hunt G, McGarry K, Patel D, Potosky AL, Sanders-Bush E, Silberberg D, Trevisan M (2010)
National Institutes of Health State-of-the-Science Conference statement: preventing alzheimer disease and cognitive decline, Annals of Internal Medicine, vol 153 no. 3, 176-181

Sense About Science: I’ve got nothing to lose by trying it

International Longevity Centre: Preventing Dementia: A Provocation

FIDE: Social Action Chess Commission: "SACC" Report, 85th FIDE Congress

Alzheimer’s Society Factsheets
What is dementia?
What is Alzheimer’s disease?
What is vascular dementia?
Am I at risk of developing dementia?
The progression of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias

Alzheimer’s Society
Alzheimer's Research UK
Ask for Evidence
Bad Science
Sense About Science

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Chess in Art Postscript: Game, Senet and Match

We have been here before.

Back in 2012, in a Postscript sequence that began with Thomas Eakins' well known Chess Players of 1876, we ended up puzzling over Jean-Léon Gérôme's 1859 painting of Arnauts - Albanian mercenaries - playing a board game of some sort. The painting is in London's Wallace Collection.

[Image courtesy of the Wallace Collection]
The Wallace Collection say they are playing draughts. But, as we pointed out all those three years ago, the principal authority on Gérôme, Gerard Ackerman (2000), says they are playing chess. It was all about the shape of the pieces - or, so we thought.  

But now it seems that we have been looking in the wrong place. Three years after the original post, on June 7th 2015 to be exact, a nice surprise popped up in the Comments Box.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sitges: took the hint

Korchnoi-Karpov, world championship match 1978, game 21, position after 60. Kd5-c4.
Schmid was now hovering with a White queen ready for the expected promotion of White's QNP. Korchnoi skittishly requested that he have a rook knight and bishop ready as well in case he decided to underpromote. Karpov took the hint and resigned to the accompaniment of loud cheers and clapping.
You Know Who, Karpov-Korchnoi 1978, The Inside Story of the Match (Batsford, 1978).

I do like that "skittishly". He might have been ripping off his colleague and employer in order to write an instant book

but at least back then he could write a sentence you'd remember.

I remembered it after this otherwise inconsequential game from Sitges.

Horton-Glebova, Sitges 2015, round two, position after 34...Ke7-d8.