- As many of my club mates know, I'm due to become a father in March, of a boy. Quite often I'm asked, will I teach him chess? I make the joke to all and sundry that I'll teach him to be (a) highly competitive and (b) slightly worse at chess than me. Non-chess players don't tend to get this joke at all, not even drawing the inference that this way I'd always get a good game from a player I can beat - the sad dream of every armchair Grandmaster such as myself.
- Like most expectant parents, I like nothing more than rattling off a long list of boring facts and anecdotes whenever I can about my baby to be. What size the scan says the baby's legs are compared to normal; how he's kicking around inside Sarah like the footballer I never was; when he's due, and so on. Due March 30th? replied club mate and fellow blogger Morgan Daniels. Doesn't that mean he was conceived around the time I slept over . . . on your sofa!? Cheeky, the inference. I see what you're getting at, I replied. But then, at least I'll be able to beat him at chess.
- Names are another one that come up frequently in conversation. There aren't many chess-related names that wouldn't sound demented: Nimzo Chivers, Kalashnikov Chivers, 3000Elo Chivers. But anyway, we're thinking of maybe Peter Franklin Chivers. Of course there are two Peters in the world chess elite, but there's nothing particularly chessy about the name itself. And K, as we all know, is the dominant letter for world class chess players: Karpov, Kramnik, Kasparov. But I don't feel tempted to suggest, say, Kevin instead of Peter. That, after all, would make his initials KFC.
- I'm happy to report that the boy's mother is not at all anti-chess. Indeed, she survived the ordeal of searching the Chessbase website to buy me several chess goodies for my recent birthday. So if the boy wants to learn the game, she'll clearly not try to stop him, despite witnessing what the game has done to me. Still, chess is like food poisoning: to know the full horror of it, you have to have it on the inside.
- And on the subject of horrors lived from the inside, my chess recently reached a new low: agreeing to a draw in a won position. See the diagram.
I played 48...Kc6? and the game ended in a threefold with 49.Na6? Kb5? 50.Nc7+ Kc6? 51.Na6? Kb5? draw. This year so far I'm averaging about four ?s per game, and at least one ?? - an average that would be higher were it not for a short draw last week where nothing happened. And they say your standard only really starts to fall when you become a parent for the first time . . .
- Finally, in the last of these posts I asked for an alternate name to Chiv Chat: I liked the responses I got, but I'm still undecided. Further suggestions welcome. Nice Person Points never run out.
- PS. Would you teach your kids chess - or save them from it - is the subject of a recent post here at The Closet Grandmaster.