Monday 10 August was not a great day for your correspondent. As regular readers will know, I suffer from a termite allergy, and the wretched creatures always seem to be in particular abundance around this time of the year. Yesterday, however, the usual irritations were compounded by a sudden and quite unexpected attack from a stomach bug (come to think of it, I guess bugs are another form of termite...). Blissfully, the symptoms proved as short-lived as they were virulent, but they prevented me from straying more than a few yards from the bathroom for much of the day.I'm sorry about that. He used to be a good writer not so many years ago, his How To Build Your Chess Opening Repertoire having a good reputation and having been reviewed very favourably in Kingpin by the author of the present piece.
Recently, he seems to have started churning them out a little, though not - yet - at the rate of the Penguin, whose coterie he appears to have joined, providing Staunton Memorial reports, collaboration in instant-book production and perhaps most importantly, toadying services.
STEVE GIDDINS, FIDE MASTER AND WELL KNOWN CHESS AUTHOR HIMSELF FOR GAMBIT PUBLICATIONS AND NEW IN CHESS WRITES;I suppose something of no value can, indeed, only grow in value. My apologies for the barrage of capital letters, which are present in the original and which are, come to think of it, very similar in style, dashes and all, to the postings from "Ray Keene" in the comments* to these two Chessvibes reports. The first of these is actually written by Steve Giddins, in proper English - at least until the end of the report when it suddenly degenerates into the same capitals and dashes, as if not only were Giddins writing for Ray, but Ray was writing through him.
RAY KEENE'S WORLD RECORD 100 CHESS BOOKS-ISSUED FOR THE FIRST TIME TO COINCIDE WITH THE 2008 WORLD CHESS CHAMPIONSHIP - A UNIQUE COLLECTORS ITEM WHICH WILL ONLY GROW IN VALUE
Perhaps that's the explanation: Ray has transmitted himself to Giddins like a virus and the virus has begun to take its subject over. A sad fate for what used to be a healthy creature. Take, for example, his review, in the Winter 2000 issue - number 33 - of Kingpin, of The Brain Games World Chess Championship 2000 by Ray Keene (and Don Morris, one of Ray's sidekicks at MSO and BGN) which ponders the question of
which bits are copied from which previous Ray Keene booksGiddins, by the way, refers to Ray throughout the piece as "Mondo", a term I will speculate he uses rather less in his present employment (though I suppose he may refer to his boss as "Sir Mondo" in conversation). Anyway, the games begin, with their characteristically light annotations:
and comments that
the padding proceeds apace
and observes that
by now the weary reader has stumbled his way through to page 47 out of the total of 128 ....and still has yet to see a pawn move in anger.
Those of you who have great difficulty imagining the man slaving for hours over a hot laptop will not be surprised to learn that concrete variations tend not to feature very prominentlywhich I trust is not something that can be said of the two recent books about world championship matches in which Giddins has shared authorship credits with Keene.
After Giddins makes fun of several more bad Mondo habits including the plugging of longtime crony Tony Buzan and the use of several pages to talk about "BGN's plans for the future" (which presumably did not entail going bust not long afterwards with Ray pursued by angry shareholders) his final paragraph begins:
So, is there anyone to whom this book can be recommended? Well, certainly not to anyone who has access to the Internet (ironically, BGN's great hope for the future) where, free of charge, all the games can be foundwhich made me smile having read in the Staunton first round report the blunt comment that
it would appear that the days of everything on the net being provided for free are numbered, and hallelujah to that.Well, Hallelujah indeed, Steve. Perhaps an appropriate term (if not an appropriate termite) for somebody who has apparently seen the light.
The Kingpin review begins:
It is often said that one only appreciates something once it has gone.So you do, Steve, so you do.
What a difference a decade makes. What a shame.
[* Some of these comments, by the way, relate to this piece by Lars Grahn (seen here achieving the not-difficult feat of being the best-dressed of a group of three chess people) describing the apparently unauthorised use of his photographs during the 1983 Candidates' Matches in London, organised by Ray Keene. I was shocked - shocked - to hear of such a thing.]
[Ray Keene index]