Monday, October 05, 2015

Apparently Got Something to do with chess XI

You will come across such delights as the artificial duck that ate, drank and quacked; the tax on bachelors; early attempts at ballooning; the clever cat; horse-racing by machinery; leeches; powdering the hair; early steam carriages. And of course the baboon playing chess with an Emperor.

Or so it says here.

In entirely unrelated news, I know one thing each about the chessers who made it to the final of the World Cup.

... to do with chess Index

Sunday, October 04, 2015

"Chess game murder"

A chess game murder, apparently.

Or just a chess murder, on your mobile.

This murder? Apparently there was "a row over a game of chess".

So what happened? The players quarrelled over touch-move? En passant? The castling rules?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Played on Squares 3: Fry, part 2

This series on Bloomsbury and chess (sparked by the BBC docudrama Life in Squares) began with Keynes, and we are now in the middle of an investigation of the most well-documented Bloomsberry chesser: Roger Fry. When we have finished with him we'll look at some others in later posts; some surprises are in store. Chess readers are asked to indulge the series in so far as it has been written with a non-chess audience also in mind.

Roger Fry Self Portrait (1930)
From here
As for Roger Fry, a revered and much loved Bloomsberry, we went to some lengths in the last episode to establish just how much he played, especially from his late forties when we get the first reference in the Bloomsbury literature to his chess. Strictly speaking there is an earlier mention by Virginia Woolf of the game in her tactful biography Roger Fry published in 1940 just a few years after his death in 1934. Writing about his childhood she refers to a chess club in Highgate, and chess books on the shelves of a learned visitor to their house (RF p.18) - but I don't think they prove that he played as a child, let alone reveal any precocious talent for the game.

Concerning his adult life, though, there are accounts, as we saw in the last episode, from Virginia Woolf, Clive Bell and Frances Partridge that add up to a picture of a chess enthusiast ready and willing to spring a game of chess on his hapless friends. But was he able? Just how good at the game was he; and what are we to make of those accounts of him cheating?

That is what this episode will concern itself with; that and the suggestion that he used chess as a vehicle for demonstrating his theories of aesthetics - i.e. what it is in a work of art that we respond to. Given your blogger's particular fascination with chess in art this sounds just too good to be true. Accordingly, we feel obliged to investigate.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Look, no hands

You might recall last Wednesday's posting which asked the question - is there any reason to think that it remains compulsory to shake hands before a game?

As far as I'm concerned the answer is still I'm not sure, but since I can't find anything in the present rules of chess to say that the handshake is compulsory, I'm going to assume, just for the moment, that it is not.

What's this about? You might also recall a posting from last month in which I made plain my annoyance at opponents who turn up late for games and especially those who can't be bothered to apologise for their late arrival.

My own apologies, by the way, for not responding to the interesting comments that followed - by the time they appeared I was in a small Scottish village with no WiFi. Anyway, later on in the holiday I played a weekend tournament in which, on the Sunday morning, my opponent arrived very late for the game. No apology, no nothing. This, once again, annoyed me.

Thinking on this, since then, I wondered if it might provide an opportunity for a little exercise in comparative ethics. Many people think it's unsporting to start a game without a handshake: I'm not so bothered about that as I am about players arriving late for games. For my part, I think it's discourteous to turn up late with no apology to the opponent.

So what I propose is that the next time this occurs - an opponent turns up late, lets say more than ten minutes, and without any apology - I refuse any handshake that they offer. On the grounds that I consider their conduct unsporting and hence see no reason to greet them "in a normal social manner".

How would that be?

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Face Of Evil

Chess, as we well know, is evil. Play chess and you go mad: do evil, and it's probably because of your chessplaying character. Another example this past week, from the Economist.

Yes, that's unfunny comedy-villain, Martin Shkreli, who saw fit to raise the price of a vital drug by around 5500%, and never mind who gets bankrupted or dies.

So how, is he portrayed by the Economist? How do you portray the face of evil?

Obviously, they photograph him behind a chess set.

The FT have done the same and all.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hou what?

An occasionally entertaining feature of Chessdom's World Cup coverage is the three computer programs which sometimes offer quite different assessments.

I particularly liked this moment from the first Mamedyarov-Karjakin game, Komodo and Stockfish both substantially favouring White: it's not just that the evaluations are different, but that they're basically opposite, with Houdini supporting Black by a roughly similar margin. I would love to know why...if I thought there was any chance I'd understand.