Monday, September 01, 2014

Ray Could Play XII: Olympic ISEs

Black to play
Cardoso - Keene, Nice Olympiad 1974

Tromso may be over - The Best of Times; The Worst of Times - but that doesn’t mean we have to stop thinking about Olympiads.

Times have changed. Incredible to think that forty years ago we - England - didn’t have any Grandmasters. We didn’t even have any Grandmaster norms until You Know Who notched one at Nice.

Today’s ISE helped RDK on his way. White has just played 16 Bc5 attacking the rook but Ray cares not a jot. It took White a couple of moves, but eventually he bit.

Keene didn’t go on to win this game, but eventually he got his norm and pretty soon afterwards, without dying, he was in the Daily Express (Chessman Raymond Plays for Cheque). Now that is what I call worthy of note.

Like I say, times have changed.

2014 ISE Count: 53
TISE Index

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chess Art en Guerre 2

POWs play chess: that's the thematic connection between this post and the recent series on chess in World War 1 here, here, and here. They played with improvised chess sets fashioned from whatever was to hand: which also makes this post a sequel to one from last summer, Chess Art en Guerrefeaturing a chess set, made from scavenged bone, crafted in an internment camp in the aftermath of another war: the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

This and all chess set pictures below
reproduced with kind permission of Fonds Stroppolo
The set was made by Giordano Giovanni Stroppolo (1906-1958) in the camp (variously called an "internment camp" and a "concentration camp") at Gurs in south west France. Since Chess Art en Guerre was published new information has come to light about the set.

Friday, August 29, 2014

2014/15: A Year on the Circuit

1: The Golders Green Open, August 2014

Black to play
JMGB v Alan Merry, Golders Green Open (1) August 2014

I played Alan Merry in the first round at Golders Green last week. I say "played". "Sat at the same board as for a couple of hours" would be more accurate, if I’m honest.

That I troubled neither him nor the scorers would have come as a surprise to few of those present, I’m sure. Still, if our game is unlikely to warrant an extended in examination in the 'From Amateur to GM' book that young master Merry may well be in a position to write one day, it did at least have a pretty finish.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sixty Memorable Annotations

#28: Polugayevsky-Portisch, Petropolis Interzonal 1973
And so I awoke with a thirst for battle, but not a reckless battle, but one prepared beforehand, like a decisive encounter in a war. Hence the stages in my opening preparation, carried out on the morning of the game.

First I had to decide the question: should I play what I normally play, or should I try to surprise my opponent with my choice of opening? My second made his recommendations to me on both possibilities, and we began considering opening with the king's pawn. In its favour, apart from its surprise value, was the fact that afer 1. e4 Portisch feels much less confident...

"But if it should be a Lopez, what then?" I asked dubiously.

"Play the Italian Game!"

"But I never played it even as a child!"

"So much the better! Portisch plays only the variation with ...Bc5."

And I was shown a multitude of variations of primordial antiquity, which had been worked out taking Portisch’s games into account...

I hesitated, and was all ready to agree, when I suddenly sensed: this is no way to play! This is not the way to plan a decisive battle. After all, if I were to fail to gain an advantage from the opening, I would not forgive myself for having betrayed "my sort" of chess.
Lev Polugayevsky, Grandmaster Preparation (Pergamon, 1981).

Horton-Kalaiyalahan, British Championship (Aberystwyth) 2014, round 11. Position after 13. e3-e4.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Worst of Times

White to play
Matt Fletcher v JMGB, #chess180 Challenge

Has there been a disturbance in The Force and nobody’s telling me? Journalism, the English Chess Federation, the #chess180 Challenge: wherever you look, for the last 10 days or so it’s all going a bit Pete Tong.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Matisse Plays Chess

Though not, as far as we can see, with this lady...

Odalisque With a Turkish Chair (1928)
Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

(From here)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Short run

Reading Jonathan Rogers' analysis of England's Olympiad performance and the lessons to be learned from it - and the discussion that followed - it seemed to me that there was one obvious question that nobody was asking, even though it sat up and begged to be asked. Should Nigel Short have been selected?

Naturally the question is only being asked in retrospect, since I didn't ask it before the Olympiad and to my knowledge nobody else did either. But Nigel's performance - 1.5 out of 5 - was so glaringly poor that the wisdom of having selected him must surely be in question.