Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday puzzle

White to play.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bob Wade 1921-2008

News came through earlier today of the death of Bob Wade at the age of 87. Bob was many things to many different people: an International Master, author, coach, Olympiad stalwart, librarian extraordinaire, voluble lefty, Athenaeum regular and Bobby Fischer's chief truffle hound.

(Copyright Bob Miller/Barry Martin)

He was also an arbiter of note and was regularly master of ceremonies at the annual London Metropolitan Congress. My first meeting with Bob came in 2006 at the 16th such event, where I scored a measly 3/5 in the u130 section. Two of my victories came against gentlemen considerably older than myself, a fact which our mischievous arbiter was quick to pick up on. As I handed Bob my final round result (a victory against somebody only slightly older than myself) he looked up with a wry grin.

'Didn't fancy beating up any more pensioners then?'

'What? Oh, er...'

'You didn't want a hat-trick of geriatrics?'

'Erm, yes, I mean, no...'

A witty reply eluded me then, as it still does now. Please use our comments box to recall any similarly sweet, baffling interactions you may have had with the Grand Old Man of British chess. RIP.

The Grass Arena II

"J Healy V T Donohue, London - 1976. The game is hardly out of the opening, but white (to move) already has a promising attack. How did he force a quick and brilliant win?"

Following on from my original post nearly a month ago, today we have another John Healy problem. It's a Leonard Barden chess column, I'm guessing from the Evening Standard, which I found reproduced at

Friday, November 28, 2008

How good is your copying?

Remember How Good Is Your Chess? "Enjoy a fine game and the notes", was the phrase.

So here's a fine game with some interesting notes. There are questions, too - but only at the end of the game. Each set of notes is numbered, to assist you with answering those questions when you get to them.

Rudolf Spielmann - Aron Nimzowitsch, Stockholm 1920

1.e4 Nc6 2.d4 d5
(1.) The pure, Nimzowitschian interpretation of this defence which normally leads to intricate pawn-chain play.
(2.) One might have expected the more fluid 3.Nc3 from Spielmann.
(3.) An even more provocative method of handling this provocative defence is 3...f6.
(4.) Better is 4.Nf3!?. The plan chosen by White diverts too many pieces from the protection of his centre (d4) and could have have boomeranged seriously had Black played correctly on move 7.
4...e6 5.Ng3 Bg6 6.h4 h5 7.Be2 Be7
(5.) Inviting remarkable complications. Instead of this flank defence to White's pressure against his h-pawn it was possible to obtain a fine position by means of a central counter-attack, as suggested later by Nimzowitsch: thus 7...Nb4! 8.Na3 c5 9.c3 Nc6 10.Nxh5 Bxh5 11.Bxh5 cxd4 12.cxd4 Bb4+ 13.Kf1 Bxa3 14.bxa3 g6 15.Be2 Rxh4 16.Rxh4 Qxh4 threatening mate and the d-pawn.
8.Bxh5 Bxh5 9.Nxh5 g6 10.Nf4 Rxh4 11.Rxh4 Bxh4 12.Qd3 Nge7!!
(6.) Surely Black must now lose material?

(7.) 13...Bg5 would lose to the old trap 14.Nxe6, so the text is forced. The remarkable move, then, was Black's 12th which prepared this combination. White could decline Black's 'passive' sacrifice with 14.c3, allowing ...Bg5 at last, but why should he? Is it obvious that Black obtains anything concrete for his sacrificed piece?
14.gxh4 Nfxd4
(8.) The compensation to date amounts to one pawn, but more is to come, since the foundations of White's pawn centre have been destroyed. The threats at the moment (positively crude in comparison with the enchanting variations based on the power of his centralised knight pair which Nimzowitsch soon conjures up) are 15...Nb4 16.Qxd4 Nxc2+ and 15...Nxe5 16.Qxe5 Nf3+.
15.Na3 Qxh4
(9.) Rejecting the possibility of entering an endgame where he would possess three pawns for a piece. This possibility arises after 15...Nxe5 16.Qh3 Ndf3+ 17.Kf1 Qxh4. In this case it would certainly be Black who would be justified in playing for a win. However, Nimzowitsch had observed a variation of shattering beauty.
16.Qh3 Qg5 17.Be3? Qg1+ 18.Qf1
(10.) Or 18.Qd2 Qxa1 19.Qh8+ Kd7 20.Qxa8 Qxb2! winning.
18...Nf3+ 19.Ke2 Nfd4+ 20.Kd2 Ncd4+
(11.) No draw.
(12.) The losing error. It was essential to eliminate one of the knights with the capture 22.Bxd4. Admittedly the continuation 22...Nxd4+ 23.Kd3 Qg5 24.Kxd4 Qxf4+ 25.Kd3 c5 is unpleasant for White, but it was obligatory to continue thus if White wanted to resist.
22...Qg5 23.Qh3 Qxe5 24.Rf1 O-O-O

(13.) Now that Black has completed his development White is helpless. This position should be preserved for the benefit of posterity.
25.b3 b5 26.Nxb5 Qe4+ 27.Kc3 Qxc2+ 28.Kb4 c5+ 0-1

Did you enjoy that? I bet Nimzowitsch did. Now, the questions.

The notes have been numbered (1) to (13). Your task is to identify the origin of each set of notes.

Do they come from:

(a) Aron Nimzowitsch, Master of Planning? (Keene, Batsford, 1991.)

or ;

(b) A Complete Defence for Black? (Keene and Jacobs, Batsford, 1996.)

(Note that the earlier of these books used descriptive notation: it has been translated into algebraic.)

(Ray Keene index)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

When would you resign?

One regular humiliation for amateur chess spectators - or at least, for the one currently writing - is to look at the final position of Master games and think, um, why did he resign? 

And fittingly, both FIDE Masters I've beaten (the only Masters I've beaten) have resigned in positions I wouldn't have resigned in myself. Is this, I wonder, due to their superior understanding and trust in their opponent's technique and accuracy? And thus conversely, is the reason I wouldn't have resigned due to my own lack of insight into when a position is actually clearly lost? Or are there other reasons? I'm not sure. Let's take a look.

The first position is from January from this year, and my opponent with the black pieces resigned here:

Now, it's true I was fairly confident that after 22... Qa3 23. Qxa3 Bxa3 24. Bxb7 Ra7 25. a6 I would be able to play for a win based not so much on the extra pawn, but on the trapped nature of his rook on a7. I was fairly sure that the win was just a case of managing to attack the thing with my dark-squared bishop, in fact. However, when I briefly analyzed it with a computer after, it wasn't so obvious that I could have managed that - and trying to do so might have allowed him to wriggle out by, for instance, trying to exchange his knight for the b7 bishop. But none of that mattered, because my opponent resigned. Should he have played on?

The second position is from my game last night in our London League match against Athenauem. My opponent had the white pieces and resigned here:

The white knight on a5 is attacked and has to move. At first glance it looks as if wherever it goes, then 39...Nc4 just wins the other knight, pinned on e3.

However, this is not the case and as my opponent held out his hand, I was still trying to work out what I'd do after 39.Nb7 Nc4 40.e5+ Kg7 41.Nd6, which saves the piece because the c8 bishop is trapped, one way or another. Now, black should still win this just by gobbling some pawns (the computer tells me) but there are also certain clear ways for black to go wrong; in particular after 41...Bxe3+ 42.Ke2 Nxd6? 43.exd6 a draw suddenly looks like a plausible result due to the opposite coloured bishops. So should he have played on, at least to make sure I avoided this? I would have.

And what about you, dear reader. Would you have resigned both of these positions? Either? Neither?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Board Beside Me

Some several million years ago, when I used to write for When Saturday Comes, there used to be a feature called The Bloke Behind Me. The idea was that when you're at a match, there's always some bloke saying something stupid, clever or amusing in a voice loud enough for everybody to hear: and the bloke is always standing (as we did, then) directly behind you. Every month readers would write in saying what TBBM had just yelled when standing directly behind them.

I'm not sure any of these were so funny that I can remember them at this distance: but you get the idea. Anyway, over time I moved into the mainstream - from football into chess - and now The Bloke Behind Me becomes The Board Beside Me, where something is always happening that is madder than what's been happening on your own.

Had this blog been going before I emigrated, this would probably have been a weekly feature all about Robin Haldane's games for S&B: due to the closeness of our grades we usually played on adjacent boards, Robin normally taking the one directly above my own (if you can be above as well as beside). After about half-an-hour, while I was quite likely still in theory and aiming for a tranquil equality, I would look at Robin's game - and he would have sacrificed two pawns for compensation which amounted to no more than having two pawns fewer than his opponent to worry about. I'd avert my horrified eyes until my game was over - by which time Robin would either have won his game or extricated himself from danger in the Haldane Ending (which is always a draw, despite Robin's opponent being material ahead, having bishop for knight and putting a rook on the seventh rank). The Board Beside Me was always a far stranger place than my own.

It was never, though, quite so strange as it was last Saturday, when I was playing on board two in the championship of Huesca Province, looking at the Black side of a MacCutcheon French in its early stages: immediately to my left, the joint leader, Sergio Alsina, was playing Black against José Luis Pellicer: I noticed that Alsina had played 4...Nd7 in the main line of the Caro-Kann and after that, I turned my attention to my own board. Then I heard laughter - or it might have been a cry of shock, or maybe both - from immediately to my left: on the board I could see a knight on d6, Pellicer having played it there on his sixth move after moving his queen to e2 on his fifth.

Immediately I realised what Alsina had done on his fifth move: I'd seen that trap any number of times before, though always in a book, never actually on a real board in a real game. I started laughing too, as did the loser of the game, as did my opponent, as did everybody else, after coming over to look at what had happened. Mate in six moves: in thirty years of competitive chess I don't think I've seen anything quite like it.

That was the top board. The winner of the game is rated over 2000. The loser is rated over 2100.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I beg your indulgence to brag a little dear readers but a couple of weeks ago I beat a guy who is higher rated than any other chess player I've ever beaten before. 167 ECF was the fellow's grade which, if my calculations are correct, works out to be a little shy of 2100 elo under the new conversion system. That's a good 30+ ECF points or about 160 elo points higher rated than myself at the time the game was played.

I mention this because I was playing Black at the time and just after I notched up this result I read on one of the Red Hot Pawn discussion boards of somebody else who'd also recently scored his best ever win and he also had been Black. I perhaps wouldn't have thought any more about it but yesterday, flicking once again through Jacob Aagaard's Excelling at Chess, I stumbled upon the following passage,

" ... after Karpov had been announced world champion when Fischer decided not to defend the title, Andersson was the first player to beat the new king (and with Black)"

and while n=3 is not much of a data set I began to wonder if a pattern might be emerging.

So now I have a few questions...

1. Why would it be that beating players much higher rated than ourselves happens more often when we have the Black pieces than might be expected?

Could it be that,

we spend more time working on our Black openings than we do our White?
(as suggested by GreenPawn on RHP)

our opponents try harder to beat us when they have White - and thus are more likely to take risks/make mistakes.
(as suggested by me)

some other factor is at work?

a combination of all/some of the above reveals the truth?


2. Am I deluded and the real truth is that these results are simply not representative of most chess players' experience?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Club news!

It's said that human beings can turn almost any pain into a pleasure. And lo, despite the fact I knew I was getting battered -with the computer at one point evaluating my position as 13.74 pawns to the worse- I can now recall my rather lucky draw against Richmond, from November 3rd for our First Team in the London League, with a certain smile. Why? Because it enabled our depleted first team -albeit ably reinforced with third teamers- to win the match by the narrowest of margins: 6½ to 5½.

And on the subject of narrow margins and depleted teams, the two adjourned games from our first team match versus Cavendish Firsts from the 23rd October have both concluded, and we've won that one 6½ to 5½ as well. Those with particularly alert mental calendars may recognize that date as clashing with the European Team Championships - the reason in this case for a far weaker than usual Cavendish team turning out. Still, it's a great result for our first team who now sit a remarkable second in the table.

The news from our second and third teams, in the third and fourth divisions of the London League respectively, is a bit more mixed. Our second team lost to Wimbledon 2 on November 20th by the fairly devastating score of 1½ to 5½ (with three adjourned) and I don't think there's any kind of way to turn that pain into a pleasure. The news from the third team is a bit more promising however. They lead their match from Monday 16th against West London 2 by the score of 4-2, with two games adjourned. And both the adjourned games feature rook endgames which, if the saying is correct, are always drawn - thus a victory looks reasonably likely. Don't forget you can see the league tables here and here.

The news from the Croydon Leagues is also mixed. In Division 2 our second team managed a draw on November 18th versus Coulsdon Seconds, but the First Division match a day later sees us leading 2-1 with one game to be adjudicated - which to my eyes does not look losable. Still, as you may have gathered my eyes aren't always the most accurate witness to events on the chess board, and indeed my game from that evening provides more evidence of that: at one point the computer evaluated my position as 7.80 pawns to the worse, and again I joyfully went on to draw. With this much karma floating around, I guess I'm due more than one totally painful loss!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Man on the Moon

If you were to spend your Sunday perusing our video index you'd find, amongst other things, Madonna's Ray of Light and I Like Trains' Rook House for Bobby.

Today's clip is not so much about the video but the tune itself. Is this REM track the only mainstream example of a song that contains a reference to chess? Of the top of my head I can't think of any others but I'd be delighted if there were more so please feel free to set me straight via the comments box.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What didn't happen next?

It is, deservedly, a not-very-well-known fact that I wrote my Masters thesis on chess. Moving Too Fast? Aspects of information overload and the study of opening theory in chess, submitted at the University of Northumbria in 2001 for an M.A. in Information and Library Management. (I was one percentage point short of a Distinction: something typical about that, I think.)

Anyway, the general thrust of the thesis was that while information technology in chess was great news for the amateur, because it vastly increased our access to information, it was more of a burden than a boon for the professional, because it increased the amount of work they had to do. I was mostly thinking, as the title of the thesis suggests, of the likelihood that increased access to the lastest games merely means that professionals have to work harder to keep up with opening theory. But there are other aspects, too, to illustrate the principle that information technology, rather than saving us work, tends if anything to increase it.

I don't know if this is found at all strange by people much younger than I: and given how many people now work in information technology, the idea that there might be some sort of distinction between the two is probably antiquated in itself. But I remember such terms as "labour-saving devices" and I also remember that, when I was a child, we were invited to expect a future in which the machines, and computers especially, liberated us from much of our more onerous toil and ushered in an era of leisure. Except in the sense that many of us spend hours accessing the internet when we should be working, this didn't really happen. It's far from an original observation, but the major consequence of the computers is that they generate more work: if you sent a letter you could expect to wait two days before having to receive a reply and act on it, whereas if you send an email you get a swift reply and the extra work is on your desk before your cup of tea.

Another reason they generate work - at least as much work as they save - is that in order to know that they work properly, to be able to check their work, you have to know the job yourself. Otherwise they may get it wrong, or they may break down leaving nobody else to the job, or they may conspire together to take over the world and reduce humanity to slavery. A cheerful thought for a Saturday, but then again, when you support Oxford United, that's as cheerful as Saturdays get.

Manouevering, very slowly indeed, back to the subject of chess, our position at the top of the column is from the game Gawain Jones-Rasmussen, England v Denmark, Dresden Olympiad round two: it may well be the final position, though the score of the game argues otherwise. I wouldn't have noticed any possible discrepancy had I not received an email from Angus French, shortly after the game had ended, doubting that the move recorded, 61...Ke5, had actually been played. (Angus was kind enough to assume that I could work out why: I'll pass on his favour to our readers.)

I still don't know, for sure, what the last move of the game actually was. I'm assuming it wasn't 61...Ke5 because as far as I'm aware, nobody's been posting on the Web "OMG Jones agreed a draw in a winning position" or anything to that effect. On the other hand, if the last move was Jones' capture on h4, one wonders why he didn't wait a few seconds just to see if Rasmussen blundered.

Then again, suppose it was 61...Ke6? Posters on the English Chess Forum have suggested that the source of the error(if error it be) is that the players, quite properly, put their kings on centre squares after the game, to demonstrate that the game had been drawn, and that this caused the technology to record the final move as ...Ke5. Maybe, maybe. But if the king went to e6 first, before the draw was agreed, why wasn't that move recorded instead? There must surely have been sufficient time, between the verbal agreement and the arrangement of the kings mutually in the centre, for the technology to record the move? Or did it in fact record the move, but then change its mind, because the next piece movement it detected was of the same piece that had last moved, so that its programming told it that the king had gone to e5 instead?

You don't know - so you have to check. You have to go through the moves anyway, just to see what really happened,. Because if you don't then there may well be lots of errors (and according to Mark Crowther there are many errors) which will plague databases and their users for many years to come. "Labour-saving technology"? Not necessarily. Not as such. Somebody will always have to plough through the scoresheets, just as was always the case, to find out what really happened.

Whether there are a host of inexplicable ...Ke5s coming out of Dresden, I don't know. I do know that a lot of odd moves are being displayed, that moves are displayed and then, as it were, taken back, and that a lot of players are shown as being out of time when they are not: and sometimes it takes forever to tell us the result of the game.

Such was the case with the Korchnoi-Richard Jones game in the tragic Switzerland-Wales match on Thursday, when the Welsh should have beaten a side outgrading them by about three hundred points a board but let it slip right at the end. Korchnoi-Jones was the first game to finish, but the last to have its result recorded: and in the meantime, this viewer was left with the clue from the earlier Jones-Rasmussen game to try and explain why, for more than an hour, the online board recorded a final move of 54.Rc4. even so - what was that all about? It's not quite a centre square, and the rook isn't quite a king!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Not Quite The Worst Move On The Board

Or, 'That's it! I'm quitting chess forever, and this time I mean it!'

'I love all positions. Give me a difficult positional game, I will play it. Give me a bad position, I will defend it. Openings, endgames, complicated positions, dull draws, I love them and I will do my very best. But totally won positions, I cannot stand them.'
- Jan Hein Donner

Playing black in the above position is Sam Osborne, current British u-16s champion. A whole bishop down with just two minutes left on his clock (compared to white's twenty), Osborne managed to win within five moves. Needless to say, his opponent was the present writer.

The occasion was the second round of this year's Galway Chess Congress (a fine event, by the way, held in a seaside hotel and populated by lovely people). My game strategy was the same as it always is against juniors: make as many weird moves as possible as early as possible and hope that I get out of the woods first. This had looked like an eminently sensible plan when Sam thought for some fifteen minutes after my first move, 1.d3 (natch). There followed 1...e5 2.g3 d5 3.Bg2 Nf6 4.c3 Bd6 5.Na3, by which point I was more than half an hour up on the clock, and things had got so bad temporally after 5...c6 6.Nc2 0-0 7.e4 Be6 8.Qe2 Re8 9.Nh3 dxe4 10.dxe4 h6 11.f3 b5 12.Ne3 Qb6 13.Nf2 Nbd7 that Sam offered a draw.

Uncharacterstically, I chose to play on.

14.0-0 Rad8 15.Kh1 a5

My inner menace was in the mood for bluff, so to keep the position as stressful as I could I sacrificed a pawn for absolutely no compensation whatsoever:

16.f4 exf4 17.gxf4 Bxf4 18.Qf3 Bb8 19.Nfg4 Nxg4 20.Nxg4 Ne5 21.Nxe5 Bxe5 22.Qh5 Qc7 23.Rg1 Kh7 24.Bg5 Rd3 25.Bf1 Rd7 26.Be2 Rg8 27.Bg4 Bxg4 28.Rxg4 Qd6 29.Be3 Qd3?? 30.Qxe5 g6 31.Qf4 Rg7 32.Qxh6+ Kg8 33.Rh4 f6

And so we reach the diagram. What followed is, strictly speaking, a long way from being the worst move on the board. I could let myself get mated instantly via 34.Bg1, for example, or drop my queen in all manner of amusing and implausible ways. But the game's actual gaffe, the undramatic 34.Qf4?? belongs on these pages for several reasons. For one thing it is therapeutic for myself to air dirty laundry in public, to stand atop a high rise building and shout 'I'm shit at chess!' However, today's post is more of a warning siren against complacency. 34.Qf4 doesn't lead to mate, nor does it leave a queen en prise, but this somehow makes it worse: it's a nothing move, a move that suggests that simply anything can win in the position when in truth this is hubris of the ghastliest kind. From a nice scalp against a British champion to humiliation and self-loathing in a matter of seconds. And so for those of you who still wish to make something of chess, the moral of the story of this: do always stay until the end credits, won't you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What happened next VI

Yesterday's position is from a game Zhang v Edwards, Oxford University v Witney, February 2005, Oxford and District League Division One.

White won with 10.Nxd6 mate. This, despite the fact that the pawn he was taking on d6 was his own.

The game had begun 1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 g6 4.Bg5 c6 5.e5 Nd5 6.Ne4 Qc7 7.c4 Nb6 8.exd6 Qd8 producing the following position:

Our narration is from issue #29 of Cowley Chess Club's review, The Chequered Board.
Marco [i.e. Zhang, player of the White pieces - ejh] had recently played a quick game where his opponent walked into a smothered mate and so, spotting a similar pattern, he played 9.Qe2! threatening 10.Nf6#. Black defended this with 9...N8d7 [reaching our initial diagram - ejh] but this blocks the flight square on d7 so 10.Nxd6!# - forgetting that, unusually, the pawn on d6 is a white one - a twenty-first century chessboard classic.
The incident was a complete brainstorm: no subterfuge was intended and neither player realised what had happened until later. (White, for his part, thought when playing through the game that he must have missed some moves off his scoresheet before he realised what he'd done.)

The result stood.

The game is reproduced below. Sort of.

(Thanks to Sean Terry and Marco Zhang for their help.)

[What happened next? index]

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What happened next? VI

From an English club game: position after Black's 9...Nb8-d7.

What happened next?

[Previously on What happened next?]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Two Puzzles Today

1. What does the Streatham and Brixton Chess Club blog have in common with: actor Owen Wilson, footballer Luke Chadwick, singer Kim Wilde, feminist Margaret Atwood and cartoon rodent Mickey Mouse?

2. White to play, and win.

As a clue for the first puzzle, you'll note we've set two puzzles - not more, not less. And, we've set them today - not yesterday, not tomorrow, not any other day . . .

Now, surely you don't need a clue for the second puzzle?!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Aagaard Revisited

Have a look at this (you won't need sound).

Amazing don't you think? Did you go back and watch it again just to check?

Sadly, when I first saw the clip it reminded me of a game I played in the London League a month ago today.

After a dozen moves we'd reached this position ...

When I played my knight to d5 I was expecting, and as it turned out I got,

12. ... Nxd4, 13. Bxd4 Nxd5, 14. cxd5 Bxd4, 15. Qxd4

which leaves us here:-

I felt this position should be very comfortable for White. My lead in development means I'll be able to get my rooks to the c-file before the other guy can and while the h1-a8 diagonal is now blocked the d5 pawn seems to cramp Black up quite severely. I expected I'd have to re-route my bishop to the f1-a6 diagonal at some point but in the meantime I've still got a lot of play against his queenside. Everything's happening forward and to the left, an area of the board where I have more space, so, I thought, I must have the advantage.

All well and good, and possibly an accurate assessment, but have a look at what happened ...

Forward and to the left? Well I won in the end but I'd have notched up the point an awful lot quicker if I'd been looking sideways and to the right.

Back in the summer I spent some time looking at Jacob Aaagaard's book Excelling at Chess. I was particularly interested in his idea that if we first know what we should be looking to achieve positionally it is much more likely that we will be able to calculate accurate variations to reach the goal. The corollary however, which I had not thought about before, is that if you're not looking in the right place to start with you may not see the most obvious opportunities available to you.

It's easy to miss something you're not looking for

True that, as they say on The Wire, but still it's hard to believe I didn't see the bishop was en prise. Mind you, I can't believe I didn't see the dancing bear either.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Yesterday the Guardian published a series of still images taken from the opening scenes of porn films.


was one of them. Really.

Readers are invited to contribute samples of dialogue in the comments box. Double entendres optional.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


It's been a couple of months so it's high time we had another post on the world's finest chess opening the French Exchange.

In the comments box to the original post in this series Angus said,

"I take it you'll be showing some interesting lines for Black (and not White)."

and thus far that's pretty much how it's worked out. I always meant to get around to looking at the variation from White's point of view but never quite managed it. It's only been a year after all. Give me a chance!

Yesterday, EJH pointed me in the direction of Nigel Short's game against Anand's second Peter Heine Nielsen from the second round of the Dresden Olympiad. True the game started off as a Petroff but when White eschewed the traditional 5. d4 in favour of nudging the knight back to f6 it transposed to a position often reached after

1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. exd5 exd5, 4. Nf3 Nf6

Aside from getting both sides one move nearer to the time control I believe this move order shuffle must be more in White's interests than Black's. 4. Nf3 seems to be White's most promising move after swapping pawns but I'm not at all sure Black really wants his knight on f6 in response. It must be playable of course but with 5. d3 in the Petroff White, at the very least, avoids several promising alternatives available to Black with the traditional French move order.

What of the game itself? Well Nielsen (Heine Nielsen? I'm never sure how many names count as his surname) blundered at the end of course but his position was very difficult in any event - so says Fritz anyway.

It may not be the most thrilling game of chess ever played but my point is if a 2600+ GM can lose with it does the opening really deserve the drawish reputation it seems to have at club level? I think not.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Next Door to North Devon

Readers of this blog might already well know the name of IM-elect Jack Rudd, who more than once has contributed to our comments.

Well, the good news for readers (and probably bad news for our comments) is that Jack's gone and gotten himself his own and brand spanking new chess blog: the North Devon Chess Blog, "about chess in North Devon, particularly at Barnstaple Chess Club".

But his first posts certainly hold interest for those of us further afield, neighbours only electronically. In particular Jack has started a series called 'Opening Concepts', designed to provide the reader with more than a little understanding. The first installment answers the question of why white plays 3.Bb5 after 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 - that is, plays the Spanish; the second is a closer theoretical look at the dangerous Dragon variation of the Sicilian, never out of fashion with club players.

And there's something else to look forward to in upcoming posts: Jack promises to follow the fate in the current chess Olympiad of the team from . . . . Mauritius. You can find out why here, or access the whole blog here.

PS. We've had nerd points, we've had Nostradmus points, we've had disco points - but  today couch potato points are on offer for anyone who can say why; three in total.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Great Chess Sets For Schools Fiasco

But the others wait in Casablanca...and wait....and wait...and wait.
For those who follow the internal affairs and faction fights of the English Chess Federation - and I am not sure whether there are too many, or too few, that do - the last few months have been dominated by one issue in particular, this being the apparent collapse of the Chess Sets for Schools Project. Which was announced, with, on the face of it, justifiable pride and pleasure, a few months ago, but which currently appears less than likely to happen at all. On the face of it this is a serious embarrassment for the ECF and a setback for the cause of encouraging junior chess.

A great deal has been spoken on the subject, not all of it on the English Chess Forum dedicated to the pursuit of civilised discussion. Since words are presently accumulating rather faster than chess sets I thought I would add some of my own. (As per usual they represent the views of the author and nobody else - especially not the corporate view of the Streatham and Brixton Chess Blog, even if such a thing were to exist, which it does not.)

Roughly, as far as I am aware, the sequence of events has been as follows. (This is of necessity a summary and some details will surely have been omitted. Readers are welcome to mention these in the comments box if they consider them important.)

In December, the ECF, at a meeting at the House of Commons, announced the launch of the Chess Sets for Schools Project. In conjunction with a firm called Holloid Plastics, no less than a quarter of a million chess sets were to be produced and distributed, "completely free of charge", to schools, via ECF members in every county. Every MP in the House would be written to to inform them of the project and to seek their support for chess. The cost of the project was estimated at two million pounds, all of it to be borne by the suppliers and therefore a more than sizeable and more than welcome injection of money into chess.

The ECF announced the project on their website (the original link, produced in February, is no longer available but the announcement, updated in June can still currently be read and the project, at time of writing, still dominates the site's front page under the heading Latest News). It is worth reproducing a few of the statements made in this announcement, which convey how proud the ECF was to have secured such a deal and how significant they considered, quite rightly, it to be. The ECF's Director of Marketing, Peter JB Wilson, said:
Just once in a lifetime, if you are very fortunate, something happens which is bigger than anything you ever imagined. To say that I am delighted to be actively involved with a chess opportunity which has arisen over the past 7 months or so would be an understatement....

....I am still somewhat shell-shocked at the extent of this project - and I thought I had seen everything having played chess from the age of 4. It is the most exciting chess project I have ever had the pleasure of being connected with and potentially could change the face of English chess for ever. It will provide the opportunity for very many tens of thousands more children to take up chess.
An exciting project indeed: my only qualm at the time was whether there would be far more chess sets than schools would be interested in taking up. But we would see.

That was February: obviously it would take time to produce, transport and distribute the sets but a little too much time had passed, and a new school year begun, by September, by which time it started to seem that something had gone wrong. It being a free and generous offer, people had (in the main) been naturally reluctant to enquire too closely as to timetables, for fear of seeming ungrateful. But when questions did begin to be asked, the few answers that came back were unpromising - and in some cases, unconvincing.

The ECF site announced that there had been production problems due to one of the tools used to produce the sets being damaged. Curiously, the Holloid site said nothing. The project wasn't even mentioned. Which would be a little unusual when a company is producing something primarily as a marketing opportunity.

The ECF announcement said a little more, which however served to make the situation less clear:
Holloid are arranging some production slots to make sets of pieces as soon as they can but they have to put the welfare of the company and staff ahead of this project. They have undertaken to do their best to make as many sets as they can in the shortest possible time. This is costing Holloid, and indeed their MD personally, considerable sums of money.

A statement on deliveries will be released when the production situation is clear.
"When the production situation is clear", indeed. What did any of this mean, in practice? When would the chess sets be produced, and how many? Would any be produced at all? Moreover, at roughly the same time, it did become clear that the Sales Director of Holloid Plastics, Fergus Christie, who had essentially originated and driven the project, had left the company.

So, on the face of it, the ECF is in the position of having embarked on, and advertised a project which their own Marketing Director described as "the most exciting chess project I have ever had the pleasure of being connected with" and which has failed entirely to deliver. On current form nobody who has enquired is going to receive a single set. No school that has shown any interest is going to be at all impressed with the ECF and nor are the MPs. Few are likely to show the ECF same level of interest, or trust, again. Nobody wants to be associated with, or to work with, organisations that make promises and fail to deliver on them.

Those are harsh words and it's reasonable to ask - are they fair? Is this actually the ECF's fault? If so, in what way and to what extent? There are three issues I'd like - as briefly as possible - to explore. One is culpability for the failure to deliver the sets. A second is the question of whether the ECF announcements were premature. The third is the ECF response during the apparent collapse of the project. In each area, to what extent are the ECF - or those individuals who held responsibility for the project - to be blamed for this apparent fiasco?

1. Culpability for the failure to deliver.

There is an occasional tendency among some over-aggressive critics of the ECF to come to the conclusion that they wish to rather than a conclusion justified by the evidence: to decide, almost in advance, that the issue must always be one of the ECF's competence (or rather, lack of same) and that other parties' failings can be ignored (or attributed to the ECF). Hence, for instance, the comment on the English Chess Forum from one notorious feud-monger:
Does that make Holloid a bad company? Probably not; it probably intended to do something at one stage. It probably misjudged the competence and capability of ECF - not hard when you think about it.
This seems to me to be nonsense. The responsibility for a failure to supply goods must normally lie with the supplier and this is no exception. I am obliged to work with some highly unreliable suppliers in my day job: when I order items that do not arrive, or arrive damaged, or are not the item I ordered, I tend to think that the fault is probably with the supplier (or with their supplier) rather than with myself. Similarly, if a customer orders something and I fail to supply it on time, I may or may not think it's my fault, but I would be pushing my luck to blame it on the competence of the customer.

In truth there is not the slightest specific reason to think that Holloid's view of "the competence and capability of (the) ECF" in any way impeded the promised production of their chess sets: to claim otherwise is ultimately stupid even on its own terms, because it merely weakens any case that can be made against the ECF. It was Holloid (or Fergus Christie acting on behalf of Holloid) who initiated the project, who made the promises and who were responsible for arranging production. With them must surely lie responsbility for the failure to deliver: and if they do not think so, they must surely say so.

It does not, to this writer, seem apparent that either Holloid Plastics, or Fergus Christie, have been properly candid about the real reasons for the project being delayed - if indeed "delayed" is the right term. Christie has told the English Chess Forum that the firm lost its production, technical and sales directors (he himself being the last of these) in the first week of August - but he didn't actually say this until the first week of November! Even more seriously, he has also claimed that the industry sponsors behind the project
"still want to be associated with the project...though not with Holloid."[my emphasis - ejh]
Now that is a very interesting thing for him to say, because it is not really compatible with the ECF statement from October that I quote above and which presumably comes from information supplied by Holloid.

So what's the truth? Whose project was it, and is it? Fergus Christie's, or Holloid Plastics'? With whom are the "industry sponsors" - assuming they actually exist - actually working? One would really like to know the reasons behind the resignation of those directors - and the state of relations between Holloid and the former Sales Director. Whatever the precise truth, the impression one necessarily has is of promises made by a company that was in no position to make or to fulfill them - and of subsequent rows within that company and a project therefore left in ruins. There are, certainly, competence and capability issues here. It's impossible to know precisely where the responsibility for that ruin lies, not without more infomation as to who said what, when and to whom, and whether they were justified in doing so. In other words, not without knowing what happened at Holloid in August, and before. But it is clear that on our present information, responsibility for the collapse lies with Fergus Christie, or with his former company, or with both.

It is not, I think, a situation over with the ECF can have any control or one that they can be expected to have anticipated. Nor do they have any power to do very much about it. Where the provision of goods is for free, what can one do when those goods are not provided? There may or not be a breach of contract involved (the actual contractual situation between the ECF and Holloid is another item that remains a little opaque) but in truth, where you are not paying for something, your capacity to expedite the process of delivery is somewhat limited. The situation has put the ECF in a position of having to rely, not just for the sets themselves, but for information about progress, on other people. Whether they should have put themselves in such a position is another question. But it was the other people who promised to produce the sets, and when they did not, there were no levers that the ECF could pull to hurry them up. That being so, I cannot find them responsible on that score.

2. Were the ECF announcements premature?

One answer to this is "yes, obviously" - since the ECF now have enough egg on their faces to make a thousand omelettes and, as I have already said, their credibility when it comes to future projects is very much in jeopardy. It is one thing to conclude that it is not their fault that people on whose word they relied turned out not to be reliable. It is perhaps another to accept that they should not at least have had some caution in announcing the project before the sets were actually there to be collected.

Excitement is understandable, sure - but would it not be wiser actually to wait until you saw the sets before offering them? Otherwise you put yourself in the situation of my friend who recently paid €3500 for the hire of an villa in Italy for her wedding reception only to find, on arrival, that it was uninhabitable and works were actually in progress. She'll never get her money back, or her ruined wedding reception. The ECF might not have lost any money, but they've lost their credibility.

As it is, provided those letters "to every Member of Parliament" were ever actually written (and let us hope they were not) then the ECF have allowed themselves to be made fools of. Happens to us all, from time to time - but that is one reason why you need to show some prudence, to try and avoid it happening too often.

This is a powerful case....slightly weakened however, by the dearth of people who were prepared to express any scepticism about the ECF announcement when it was actually made. Anybody who failed to do so then, but does so now, can perhaps fairly be accused of asking the ECF to show a degree of caution that they did not show themselves. Retrospect is a wonderful thing and everybody can be a quarterback on a Monday morning.

It's true to say that there were a small number of sceptics from the start (see for instance here): some of them people with relevant experience who asked questions which have turned out to be very relevant indeed. These people may, I think, be very critical of the ECF for prematurely announcing and celebrating a project which had not been properly thought through. But others said nothing until much later: I, for instance, said nothing then. So I wouldn't be comfortable attacking the ECF for something I didn't find odd at the time they did it - nor am I wholly comfortable with other people doing it. On this item, perhaps, if the ECF may be guilty, then there are nevertheless few who have earned the right to cast the first stone.

3. The ECF response during the apparent collapse of the project.

There has, as I have already said, been an ECF statement on the subject, though one far from fully explanatory and one clearly depending entirely on information from Holloid Plastics, who have not demonstrated that they, or what they say, can be relied upon. But that is it. Other than that, the ECF appear to have frozen, or gone missing. The project still dominates the ECF website, which still invites schools to participate, as if nothing had happened save a short and inadvertent delay. Other than that, nothing.

Nothing has been heard from Peter JB Wilson, the Director of Marketing, whose name is as absent from the October press release as it was present on the initial announcement. The original Project Manager, Charles W Wood, after spending several months enthusiastically promoting his project (and deploring negative commentary) on the English Chess Forum, abruptly ceased to post and - as far as I am aware - abruptly ceased his association with the project. Meanwhile the ECF as a body, who had originally lauched and supported that discussion forum, specifically ceased to support it and disassociated themselves from it (though several officials continue to post there). The overall impression was of individuals unwilling to deal with a crisis, unwilling to answer questions in a crisis and - by and large - unwilling to accept that there was a crisis.

Now it's my view that much talk about "leadership" is cant, put about by people who do not know what it is, who think they are displaying it when they are not, or who mistake it for making bad decisions quickly and then reversing them. I've worked with, and for, too many people like that. Nevertheless, whatever it may or may not mean as a concept - and I am genuinely not expecting the officials of a chess organisation to display the qualities of a Spartacus - there are some things which it does not mean, and these include going missing during times of difficulty. This is a time of difficulty and it seems to me that the ECF (or certain leading officials within it, as I am perhaps using the term "the ECF" too easily, as shorthand, in this piece) have gone missing. That cannot be good enough.

Let us suppose that the ECF do not consider that this is a fiasco - or that if it is, it is not their fault. Let us suppose that they regard many, most of all of the criticisms that are made of them as unfair, ill-informed and even ill-motivated. Good - then let them say so! But being in charge means being where your members can see you when it matters even when it is not your fault. Especially when it is not your fault! It is not good enough to say, as perhaps they may do later, that you were doing your best behind the scenes to put things right. Or at the very least, if you are going to take that route, they need to come out right. If you say nothing, if you go missing and if things do not come out right in the end, then it will not wash to say that it was not your responsbility. Because people will say that you sought to evade your responsibilities. And by and large, they will be right.

Where is Peter JB Wilson? What is he doing and what does he have to say? What is the status of the project and is it Holloid's project or Fergus Christie's? What should schools who are waiting for their sets be told and what should those schools do? I don't know the answer to any of thee questions - do the ECF? Do they know? If they don't, then why is the invitation to schools still on the front page of the ECF site?

There are calls for resignations being made. I am reluctant to join them, for a variety of reasons. These include a conviction that people should not normally resign in the middle of a crisis, an unwillingness to take decisive sides in internal ECF disputes and, I suppose, the possibility that things may yet turn out all right (we do not know for certain that they won't) in which case the egg will be on the faces of the critics. But there is responsibility here and I cannot see that this responsibility is being properly discharged.

Perhaps, too, I am reluctant to call for resignations when it doesn't seem to me - as it does not - that the primary responsibility lies with the ECF or any of its officials. But at the same time, there is perhaps a wider question, which is that there is another consideration involved when consdering whether or not to retain or relinquish one's office. And that is, regardless of the extent of one's culpability for this problem or that - whether or not one retains the confidence of the public. Can all of the officials involved say with confidence that they do?

I have no intention of saying either way. But it does seem to me that a great deal depends on the salvaging of this project and that if it is not salvaged, it will not be wholly adequate to say, even though it is true in part, that it was not their fault.

When the project was announced, the Project Manager wrote:
This has to work, imagine if it didn't.

[Comments are welcomed, but comentors are asked to keep things polite. Anonymous comments will be permitted but will be especially closely moderated.]

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What happened next V

Yesterday's position comes from the game Dahlin-Richardson, Sweden v England, Student Team Olympiad, Krakow, 1964, mentioned in the comments of our previous post about How To Cheat At Chess.

The diagram is the position at adjournment: White, two pawns ahead and winning, sealed 44.Kh4. This, to put it mildly, is not quite the strongest move available - as White shortly realised. But now the move was written, sealed and in the hands of the arbiter - what could he do?

The story is taken up by Andrew Walker:
A bit later, Dahlin sees Keith in the bar:

"Why don't you resign, it's an easy win, look" (plays [the] second best move, and flashes out winning line).

Keith, somewhat naively, and relieved that Dahlin hasn't sealed the best move: "But that doesn't win, it's a book draw!"

Dahlin: "Shucks. But surely
this wins?" (goes back a couple of moves and tries again)

Keith: (more skittles, showing that he can draw).

Finally, the Swedish player gave up in disgust, grumbled how lucky Keith was that he hadn't sealed the best move (which indeed won easily) and offered a draw. Keith accepted, before his opponent could change his mind and find a winning plan. When they went to the arbiter to confirm the result the envelope was unsealed... which point Keith discovered that not the "second best" move, but the blunder mentioned above had actually been sealed. Allowing mate in two with 44...Rh5+ 45.Kg4 f5 mate.

[What happened next? index]

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What happened next? V

From a game played in an international team tournament: position after Black's 43...Kf6-g6.

What happened next?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Club News, Latest!

Ahead of everything, today let's prioritize the good news and the bad news from The Stoneleigh Trophy. Why? Well, the good news is simple: on Tuesday last week we played our first match in this league, winning 6-2 against a new team called Castles. But it's the bad news that I want to highlight in particular. It is that aside from Castles and ourselves, only one other club has entered a team in the Trophy this year. Yes, there's nothing wrong with three teams competing in two home and two away matches each across the season - but this few teams leaves the League itself with a vulnerable future. What if one withdraws?

So why is the Stoneleigh shrinking? Will it shrink further and disappear altogether? Or will other clubs in the Surrey area enter teams next season? I have no idea . . . All suggestions about what might be done to help this League are more than welcome in the comments. Incidentally, a note on the structure of the Stoneleigh. Each Stoneleigh team consists of four players (good for a car-load) and currently grade-limited to a total of 700 grading points (good for evenly matching opponents?) Then at each match itself, each player faces his opponent twice (the time-limit is half-an-hour each) - once with the black pieces, once with the white. To me the format is fair, happily means all games finish on the night itself, and is a lot of fun; plus, there's always the chance for revenge if you suffer a particularly crushing first-game defeat . . . But what do I know?!

Elsewhere it's good and bad news of a more usual sort: wins and losses. In Division 3 of the London League, our second team lost on Friday 7th November at Morley College by 5½ to 2½, with two games adjourned. Still, it's better news from the team's earlier match versus Metropolitan 3: both adjournments have concluded and both went our way, so we won that one 7-3.

(Incidentally, both adjournments were eventful in their own way: one Metropolitan player failed to turn up to his, not only costing himself the game and his team the match, but earning themselves a default point as well. Meanwhile, the envelope Angus had that contained his opponent's move was in danger of not making it to the resumption, after Angus's block of flats was evacuated with the envelope cruelly left inside. Did his opponent have friends in the police force?! No, it was a drugs bust that culminated TV-style in a man jumping out of a window attempting to escape. Most crucially, the envelope was recovered in time for the match . . .)

It's a similar story from the Surrey Trophy - results-wise rather than crime-wise, that is. We were duffed over on October 28th away against a strong Ashtead team 5½ to 2½. Frankly when you have a patzer called Chivers on top board versus and IM graded thirty points higher than he, the match is unlikely to have a good outcome . . . Still, we did much better a few days later against a Kingston side, with said Chivers being bumped down to board three: We won that one 6-1 with one game still adjourned.

And finally, several Streatham & Brixton Chess Club players were in action this weekend in County Matches. Thanks go to Andrew Stone who has sent in his exciting draw with the white pieces from the Middlesex versus Kent match, played against one of the strongest amateur players around, Rawle Allicock. Here it is for your entertainment, and don't be put off by the opening!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Machines that make us look stupid

Most of us don't actually need a machine to look stupid of course. Anybody who had the misfortune to witness my 'play' against Morley College last Friday night will be able to attest to that.

Still, yesterday The Guardian published a series of photographs under this banner. The picture above is their representation of Chinook. At least four of the remaining eleven images have a chess connection. Can you spot them all?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chess in Art resources

At the conclusion of our recent Chess in Art series I promised to provide a list of resources that we used (or simply came across) in the course of research and which we hope may be of use to anyone interested in the area now or in the future.

It follows - after some notes and a brief list of thanks to some people who assisted in the preparation of the series. They include Martin Smith, Richard Tillett, Tom Chivers, Chris Manners, James McDonnell, Professor Neil Taylor, Christine at the National Galleries of Scotland, Tanya Kirk of the Rare Books Reference Service at the British Library, Dr. Wolfgang-Valentin Ikas at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, Fred Lucas, Michael Goeller, The Closet Grandmaster, John Philpott, Alexey Shumay and Kevin Paine. Apologies to anybody who has been omitted: this is an updatable list!

Although the series is not remotely comprehensive and I am very far from being knowledgeable in the field of art, we have tried to be as accurate as possible. Nevertheless we have been unable to provide any dates for the works by Gallegos y Arnosa (I), Oppenheimer (IV), McKee (V) and Boileau (XI), while our dating of the Daumier (XX) is extremely provisional and I have seen a different date for the Bargue (VI) than our 1882. Similarly, we have not been able to give any location, even "private collection", for Foster (VII), Boileau again, one of the works by Klee (XIV) and the Shakespeare/Jonson painting attributed to Van Mander (XVI). Naturally any information or corrections that readers can provide will be very welcome.

We hope we have in some instances slightly improved or clarified the information previously available on the internet, much of which is inadequate and some of which is wrong. We hope we have clarified the dating of the Tenniel (XVIII) and the nature of the Muelich (X) which, it is not normally stated, is the frontispiece to a book. Both the de Tyr (XII) and the Van Mander seem to us best listed as "attributed" and the Delacroix (XV) normally seen on the internet is a truncated version of the actual work. A fuller image (in scope, if not in colour) is here (and immediately below).

In general we have attempted to list the art works under the titles which they would be known in the native language of the artists, though this has not always been possible, for a variety of reasons: partly lack of the relevant linguistic skills, partly because works are not clearly titled (if, indeed, they have any given title).

Exceptions include Bargue, de Man (IX) and van Mander (attr) which, perhaps surprisingly, we haven't yet found in their original languages. The work of the anonymous Iranian artist (VIII) is in French hands and we have therefore given the title in French. Max Ernst (XIII) was German, but we believe the work was originally produced with an English title, so we too have used that language, a principle we have also followed for Lucas (XIX). Shvarts (XVII) comes with varying titles (intriguingly, it's not even clear whether it's singular "Tsar" or plural "Tsars") but we do not know Russian and therefore chose to employ an English title. Finally, the Italian title of the Sorbi (XX) does not translate as The Chess Players, its English title - and as all the works of our final entry shared that title and we didn't want to waste such a splendid picture, we stretched a point.

The Chess in Art Resources Guide

a. Online galleries and catalogues

There are a number of these: please note that like all online resources, they are subject to change in content, title and URL as well as the possibility of deletion.

We have translated some titles into English and left others untranslated.

Brussels Chess Club: Peinture. Gallery. (Best found from home page by clicking on Topics and scrolling to Peinture.)

JM: Art, Voyages, Echécs: Tableaux ayant pour sujet les échecs. Gallery.

Chess Theory: Virtual Art Museum.

Bill Wall: Art and Chess. List of chess artists and artworks. (No images.)

Schachverein Görlitz e. V: Schach in der Kunst.

Scacchi e Collezionismo: Schacchi e Arte. Catalogue and gallery.

Karen Larsdatter, Material Cultures Linkspage for the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Board Games & Gaming Pieces
. Links to information about and images of chess pieces and chess-related artworks from its period.

Società Schacchistica Gallaratese: Chess Arts Summary Table. Gallery and list of artworks, some with links.

New Chessery of Semyon Gubnitskiy - Chess islands - a fellowship of worlds: Chess in the world of painting. Gallery.

Metajedrez: Pintura. Gallery.

La grande storia degli scacchi: Arte figurativa a tema scacchistico. Gallery.

Wikimedia Commons: Chess in Art
. Currently small collection of downloadable images.

I'd also mention a couple of Russian sites which are more selections of paintings than galleries as such, if the distinction makes any sense:

Arin Levindor: Chess and Art 1 and 2. With poetry in Russian.

Orchard Thief: Game of Kings, King of Games.

b. Online essays

These are not all in English and are of varying relevance and length!

Achille della Ragione: Gli scacchi nella pittura dall’antichita ai nostri giorni. Short historical overview in Italian.

Visual Mathematics (Mathematical Institute of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. Roberto Giunti: Analysing Chess - Some deepening on the chaos concept by Klee. Long essay on aspects of Klee and especially his piece Chess (Schachbrett in XIV).

Jeffrey A Netto, PhD. English 101, Writing and the World of Painting: Studies. Iconography and the Game of Chess. Essay by professor of English with an interest in chess iconography.

Edward Winter, Chess Notes: Chess and Shakespeare.
Touches on aspects of the "van Mander" painting.

Chessbase, Kiril Penušliski: The Black and White Board in Art. Short discussion of chess in art as taster for The Contemporary Chess Art of Ilija Penušliski, discussing the chess art of leading Macedonian artist (and family member).

Sarah's Chess Journal: Chess, Romance, Love and Sex. Exploration of these themes in art by Sarah Beth Cohen.

Ilona Fekete, Biedermeier and Post-Impressionist Artists in Vienna: Josef Danhauser's "Game of Chess". Video essay on the work by Danhauser (not one in our series).

c. Newspaper articles

New York Times, October 16, 2005: Blake Eskin, The Plaster-Filled Eggshell Gambit. Discusses Julian Levy's 1944 Imagery of Chess exhibition in New York and the 2005 Art of Chess exhibition at the Luhring Augustine Gallery in Chelsea.

New York Times, 26 December, 2003: Grace Glueck, In The Days When Artists Were Taught How To Draw. Discusses Bargue's manual The Art of Drawing and The Chess Players (which is described as "high kitsch").

Guardian, Arts (no date): Galleries, The Art Of Chess index. Guide to the 2003 exhibition The Art Of Chess at the Gilbert Collection in London.

d. Books and journal articles

Art, Echécs et Mat by Yves Marek. (Imprimerie nationale, Paris, 2008.) New French book exploring various aspects of our theme.

Birth of the Chess Queen, a History by Marilyn Yalom
. (Pandora, London, 2004.) Among many other things, discusses Anguissola's Partita a scacchi (X).

Lewis Carroll: a Biography by Morton N. Cohen.(Macmillan, London, 1995.) Dates precisely the publication of Through The Looking-Glass and hence the Tenniel.

The Imagery of Chess Revisited by Larry List (ed)
. (George Braziller, New York, 2005.) Edited by the curator of the 2005 exhibition of the same name at the Noguchi Museum in New York.

The Russian Experiment in Art 1863-22 by Camilla Gray. (Thames and Hudson, London, 1986.) Discusses Shvarts ("Schwartz") as a painter informed in his work by his status as an historian.

Russian Realist Art: The State and Society by Elizabeth K Vallkenier. (Ardis, Ann Arbor, 1977.) A source for Shvarts, referred to in Gray immediately above.

Chess in Art by Colleen Schafroth. (Harry N. Abrams, New York, 2002.) Historical overview.

Master Pieces, The Architecture of Chess by Gareth Williams. (Apple, London, 2000.) Coffee-table book about the design of chess pieces.

Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 26, No. 4 (Winter, 1991), pp. 267-276: Robert Wilson Torchia, "The Chess Players by Thomas Eakins".

Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 34, No. 4 (Winter, 1983), pp. 440-448: Bryan Loughrey and Neil Taylor, "Jonson and Shakespeare at Chess".

e. Exhibitions and catalogues

Press releases and catalogues from exhibitions.

Charles Bargue: The Art of Drawing. Dahesh Museum of Art, New York, 2003/4.

The Imagery of Chess Revisted
. Complete list of items in the 2005 Noguchi exhibition mentioned in d above (which exhibition recalled the 1994 show mentioned in c).

The Art of Chess. 2003 Gilbert Collection exhibition referred to in c. (Note the sponsor!)

The Art of Chess. 2005 Luhring Augustine exhibition referred to in c. (Same name, same city and many of the same artists as the Gilbert Collection exhibition from two years previously - not sure what the Gilbert thought about this.)

f. Sites of interest

Just a couple from which images were selected for the series (XVIII and XIX).

Lenny’s Alice in Wonderland Site.

Studio Fred Lucas.

g. Online art resources

Sites useful for searching for art images: they are also portals to other art-related links and resources.

The Bridgeman Art Library

Ozario Centaro's Art Images on the Web.

Mark Harden's Artchive.

The World Wide Web Virtual Library: History of Art.

h. Snippets

Some bits and pieces to finish! Obviously we could have provided links to information about all the works and artists, but it would have gone on forever: so these are just a handful that we happened to come across when working on the series.

Christie's: Raffaello Sorbi, "The Chess Players". Some information on the artist and the work.

Peter Nahum at the Leicester Galleries: Joseph Clark, "The Chess Players". Some information on the artist and the work (XX)., Art Encyclopedia: Vyacheslav (Grigor'yevich) Shvarts. Some information on the artist.

Wikipedia: Chess in the arts and literature. Described as a "stub" and currently very much so (although one of its contributors may be the host of the gallery in Art, Voyages, Echécs mentioned in a).

As I've said, this is an updatable resource: corrections and additions are very welcome. I hope it is of interest to the casual browser and of use to the serious student. Enjoy.

[Chess in Art index]
[Chess in Art collected]