Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Following representations made by legal representatives engaged by Mr Raymond Keene OBE, the Streatham and Brixton Chess Blog would like to make the following announcement:

  • We accept that all Mr Keene's business dealings have been entirely proper and above board, especially those relating to the Interzonal at Tunis in 1985, his contract with Mr Viktor Korchnoi in 1978, his activities relating to Brain Games, his hosting of events at the House of Lords and all such similar activities.
  • We accept that Mr Keene is in fact a well-respected figure within the chess world and not at all the "tawdry" or "disreputable" figure that we have occasionally sought to paint him. He does not have a circle of cronies, especially not Mr CJ de Mooi or Mr Steve Giddins and nor does he misuse his chess columns to plug his friends, family and business partners.
  • We accept that Mr Keene has at no point ever engaged in plagiarism and nor would he ever do so. Nor would he recycle old material without informing the reader. Except possibly now and then by accident.

We therefore withdraw all claims and allegations that we have made against him and offer a public apology for traducing his good name. We have in addition made a substantial donation to the Brain Trust.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Good Book That May Well be Useless

49 Black resigns
Shirov - Timman, Wijk aan Zee 1996

If you’ve spent any time with endgame books recently, this position may well be familiar to you. You’ll find it all over the place. Partly because it’s an interesting position, both instructive and deceptive in its apparent simplicity. Mostly because Timman managed to do something even worse than making the worst move on the board. He resigned the game in a position which is not in fact lost.

Benjamin devotes two entire pages to Shirov - Timman. Around three-quarters of that he spends on the position in which the Dutchman threw in the towel, showing what could and should have happened. I don’t really consider myself qualified to pass judgement on the quality and accuracy of his analysis, but when compared with other sources - e.g. Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual or Muller and Lamprecht’s Secrets of Pawn Endings - Benjamin’s coverage can hardly be described as skimpy.

It is a comprehensive and detailed analysis of a position that bamboozled two chessers who were part of the world’s elite at the time the game was played. It is also a very clear example of Liquidation on the Chess Board’s fundamental flaw.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Brixton Byways 10: Howzat

In the last episode we found some helpful corroboration of the likely Year Zero of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club, viz 1871. This was the moment of stellar creation when, out of the void of the Stockwell, Kennington, Camberwell sector of the ever expanding chess universe, there appeared the nebulous form of the Endeavour Club of North Brixton. Over the following decades it tracked ever southward, touching down in the 1920s at the Half Moon Hotel by Brockwell Park, where the outer reaches of the eastern Brixton fade into the lower slopes of Herne Hill, with the upper crust of Dulwich just visible beyond. It had by then condensed into an entity by then referred to as Brixton CC.

As we noted in that episode, the club President, speaking at the 50th anniversary garden party in 1921 (reported in the British Chess Magazine of August in that year), told how Brixton CC had been making its mark on the Surrey chess scene in a way by which it would want to be remembered. For starters, it had won the County Championship several times. And now the club was now about to make its mark on the London scene. But, to add our own comment, in a way that it might have preferred to forget.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

End of the Immortal

Ray's Times column for 28 February, or the opening two paragraphs anyway. The advertising material's a lot of fun but in fact the subject of today's piece is the Immortal Game, rather than the history of dining at Simpsons-in-the-Strand.

Notes are based on. "Based on", you may have guessed, is Ray's new get-round for using other people's notes to write his columns. Instead of just copying out notes from Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series with very slight changes, he just copies out notes from Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series with very slight changes and flicks in "based on". (Or if not from Kasparov then from elsewhere, as often as not something by his lapdog Steve Giddins.) I reckon most other people would be sacked for this, but Ray's not been sacked for a great deal worse.

Anyway, this is how Ray wrapped up his largely copied-out column:

neglecting to mention that his description of White's eighteenth is actually plagiarised from Euwe

rather than, ah, "based on" Kasparov.

But that's not the subject of today's piece either.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

At the chessboard with Lucy Mangan

Guardian last Friday:
Whether you agreed with what was being said or not, there was the odd and welcome sense of being talked to as an adult by an adult – at least until Phillips interviewed Tony Blair, which was, as ever, like being addressed by a calculating machine trying to manoeuvre its way between irritating, human-shaped obstacles so that it can get to the chestful of cash on the other side of today’s chessboard.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Work Avoidance

"Can Black draw with 53 ... Bxf3 54 Kxf3 h2 ?"
Joel Benjamin: Liquidation on the Chessboard

An interesting conversation about chess improvement broke out in the comments to 10 Types of Chesser III last week. I particularly liked the comment from An Ordinary Chess Player which ended with,
I'm pretty sure all the computer stuff is just a trap. I was reading an online review of ChessBase and the blogger was all glowing about how great it was going to be for his game, but a couple of years later his rating was still the same. I think most amateurs use the computer like the television and the smartphone: as a way to avoid work.
and began,
Rolf's basic idea is that you improve by testing yourself.
The conversation between AOC-P and Niall is well worth a read if you haven’t already seen it. "Rolf", by the way, is one Rolf Wetzell who apparently went from 2000 ish USCF to 2200 in his 50s. Impressive stuff.

Anyhoo, back to Benjamin’s book. I have certain reservations about the book - next week I will deal with my principal concern, in the meantime you can find a contribution from Tim Harding on the issue of typos and misprints in the comments to Sixty Memorable Annotations #32 - but one thing I like very much about Liquidation on the Chess Board is that every chapter ends with a series of exercises. The position at the head of today’s blog being one of seventeen puzzles to be found in the chapter on bishop versus knight endings.

I chose this problem partly because it sets us up for next week’s post and partly because it leads to a rather lovely and instructive (to me, at least) pawn endgame. Do spend a moment to think about it if you can. Alternatively, if you fancy a bit of work avoidance - and what is this blog for if not that? - then the solution as given in a video made by one of the players involved can be found below.

King and pawn Index

Sunday, March 22, 2015

...and I am glad

Encountered by chance in a Sheffield remainder warehouse last month...

In vast quantities it has been remaindered
Like a van-load of counterfeit that has been seized
And sits in piles in a police warehouse

Clive James

[Ray Keene plagiarism index]
[Ray Keene index]