Friday, August 17, 2007

Final Staunton Memorial Photographs from Simpson's

You've seen photographs of the chess players, you've seen the venue. Except... not quite. There were certain things I missed out. So yesterday I returned to the tournament to get some final photographs. And I ended up snapping more than I bargained for - including the only World Champion to visit the event, what's tucked away in Simpson's toilet, and Streatham and Brixton Chess Club's All Star Beer Grandmasters in action.


firstly, two of the Grandmaster faces that I missed out entirely in my first report, because they were so late to the venue that flash photography was no longer allowed. This time, Gawain Jones (right) was only five minutes late, and he only had to wait a further three for Ivan Sokolov to show up. Maybe Sokolov missed the time lost toward the end of the game, where he could not convert his extra pawn in a long, closed endgame. Well before that, the rest of the players were in Simpson's charming Knight's Bar, analyzing away in its comfortable chairs after their games. Left to right, here's Grandmasters Adams, McNab, Rowson paying a visit fresh from the British Championship, Adams and Speelman.

Below, John Emms chats to Eric Schiller whilst a seated Ray Keene takes a breather from it all to inspect his fingers (left), and Smeets and l'Ami relax after their games (right.)

Masters here, Masters there, Masters everywhere. But only one World Champion:

Winner of the Under 11 World Championship in Las Vegas, Emma Bentley, giving Ray Keene something to think about. Maybe in a decade, she'll be playing in the tournament room itself. Who knows?

And here's something completely different. It's another antique chess board, played on by the greats as the sign says, and perhaps one or two not so greats. This one hangs on the wall of the entrance of Simpson's, but what are the row of holes the arrow points to for? They look like they could each fit a matchstick. There was another one along the left hand side at the top, too - one for each opponent in other words. Do click to enlarge the image to take a look, and help resolve the mystery if you can.

Sometimes it seems like chess here, chess there, chess everywhere in Simpson's. Even the toilets in feature chess. Not wires in the ceiling of course; this old sign hangs in the upstairs gents:

Have prices gone up since then? Well, admission is currently free to watch the chess. But I suspect a cigar or coffee might set you back a bit more.

The Drinking Grandmasters from Streatham and Brixton Chess Club went to the pub up the road afterwards instead - your photographer being the one wearing the pink tie. I bumped into Jan Timman there to my surprise, stood at the bar on his own. Our conversation went like this:

Chivers: So! Is this where you come to get away from chess players?
Timman: Yes.

And on that note, it's probably time just to remind you that you can find out results and games on the official website here. The tournament finishes tomorrow, when the round starts at 12 noon.


Anonymous said...

That chess board with the holes in:-

no idea what they're for I'm afraid.

I'm more interested in the "played upon by the following champions" list


all very well...

but Tinsley (who's he?)

and Keene?

some mistake surely?

Anonymous said...

Probably Marion Tinsley, the draughts player.

Anonymous said...

Except now that I actually look at the picture, it seems to be S. Tinsley.

Ah well. Dunno, then.

ejh said...

Is it not the same plaque featured in a photo earlier this week in which the name of Keene did not appear?

Perhaps it is a temporary and recent addition made by some kind of ironist?

ejh said...

Tinsley (and also)

Anonymous said...

The explanation for the rows of holes on the board? It's obvious really. Check out the website of the venue and you will see it described as having: "uncompromising dedication to the best of British fare, which includes exceptional meats served tableside". The holes are toothpick holders.


Anonymous said...

Oh boy! The moves of the tenth round games are just up and it looks like Gawain Jones has given Van Wely a severe spanking.


ejh said...

I wonder if the holes in the board were to keep track of how many moves had been played? You'd think they wouldn't need to because in any serious game the score would be taken, but maybe not.

Anonymous said...

So Tinsley fits in with the rest ... but RDK - what an arrogant wanker.

thanks for the link. Speedy Malc is still a day behind in The Telegraph.

Anonymous said...

RE: Jones v van Wely...

bit of a hack reminiscent of a 19th century game at Simpsons perhaps.

But why 10. ... Ra7?

looks a bit of a strange move to me.

ejh said...


I suspect he was not the individual responsible.

Tom Chivers said...

The board in this photograph is a *different* board to the one in the previous post. The one in the previous post is kept downstairs at Simpson's; this one is in the lobby immediately on the left as you enter the building. So the name has not been recently added as a joke or whatnot...

Ray Keene's name is certainly out of place; however, he was a Champion (British Champion) wasn't he? And he was actually a really amazing player. Playing over some of his best games is just a delight.

My hunch on the holes is that they are actually for matchsticks, which can be used for two purposes. 1, keeping track of how many games each side has won; 2, lighting cigars! Robin, I think it was Robin, thought betting might be involved. Ie you keep track of winnings using them and then divvy up later.

Fantastic day yesterday for Gawain Jones!

Anonymous said...

RDK ...

maybe, maybe not. I far from convinced the plan to have his named added to the board was hatched without his knowledge.

ejh said...

What shirt is Emma Bentley wearing?

Tom Chivers said...

One lion on the shirt? an England shirt maybe?

ejh said...

I dunno. I thought it might be Millwall but it doesn't seem to match (the Harry Cripps photo is my favourite). Any more ideas?

I trust that's not her bottle of Newcastle Brown.

Tom Chivers said...

Not Millwall I assume - she's from the north...

ejh said...

Consultation suggests that it may be a cheap non-official England shirt, which would explain why the lion badge is rather different.

Ted Teodoro said...

Those holes may not be for toothpicks. I counted twelve holes and presumably another twelve are on the other side of the board for the opponent. How many spare toothpicks did one carry in a day, and why set them up at your chessboard when they can very well remain in the pocket. They might be counters for every game won so no one can deny. You'd stick a peg in it for every game won so even kibitzers would know what the score is... my 2 cents.

Tom Chivers said...

I suspect Angus may have been joking about the toothpick holders! I think you're probably right chessbuff, although I wonder about matches too.

ejh said...

We need to know, really, don't we?

Tom Chivers said...

It was of particular interest to a very friendly & helpful member of Simpson's staff who in fact pointed it out to us and then asked us. He also had asked Ray Keene who also hadn't known, the fellow told us.

Maybe he'll have found out by next year?