Monday, January 31, 2011

When we were Kings XVIII

... we kept schtum.

In which, initial appearances to the contrary not withstanding, the author ponders the state of chess journalism.  Reference is made to current intrigues in the French chess world and the conclusion drawn that a similar incident in the 1970s may very well have been ignored by the British chess press. A mysterious feature of the 1978 Olympiad in Buenos Aires is examined (as is the even more curious absence of any mention of it in the British Chess Magazine’s coverage of the tournament) before suggestions are offered as to how the contemporary print media might save itself from an otherwise certain doom.

Karpov-Korchnoi, Game 32 Baguio 1978

... in the main lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Buenos Aires in November 1978 Korchnoi was to accuse me directly of having “sold” 6. … c5 to the Russians

Ray Keene, Massacre in Merano (Batsford, 1981)

It was all kicking-off across La Manche last week. There was naughtiness at the Olympiad in Elista apparently – or, then again, maybe there wasn't. La farce Olympienne Seani (our invisible Blogger) is calling it. For those of you who missed all the va va voom, here’s the story (so far)1:-

21st January: The French Chess Federation release a statement saying that it has begun “disciplinary action” against Sebastien Feller, Arnaud Hauchard and Cyril Marzolo relating to suspicions arising from the Khanty-Mansyik Olympiad last autumn.
24th January: Sebastian Feller denies the accusations and gets himself a lawyer, suggesting en passant that he’s been targeted for being pro-Kirsan.
24th January: The French Federation’s own Brief tells Europe Echecs that the action was “justified” given the evidence available and that Monsieur Feller’s denials were “pathetic”.
27th January: The other four members of the French Olympic team express themselves shocked at the allegations and supportive of the Federations decision to investigate.

Since the opposing camps are wheeling out the legals I think I'll say no more other than to observe that (a) there's obviously a whole lot more of the story still to emerge; and (b) until such time as Feller and the others have formally been found guilty it is only right to presume them to be innocent.

Anybody remember this?

Anyhoo, establishing what did or didn’t happen isn't as interesting to me right now as the fact that all this is being played out in public. Whether or not you consider this to be a 'Good Thing' (for the record, I feel that it is in principle, but I also find the timing/content of the French Federation’s announcements to be a little curious and perhaps even bodged to some extent), what’s undeniable is that this is different to how things used to be.

I wonder if an analogous incident thirty or forty years ago would even have been mentioned in the British chess press.  There was no internet back then, of course, so it's entirely possible that Average Joe Chesser wouldn't have got to hear about it at all. Well, not for a year or two anyway.

If most aspects of the game in the 1970s were pretty fabulous, one exception was that chess journalism was often pretty dreadful. Re-reading the old magazines in the light of what we know now, it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that some 1970s chess journos, the British Chess Magazine folk in particular, would rather have eaten a chessboard than report anything even remotely controversial that had happened on or near one.

The Buenos Aires Olympiad of 1978 makes a good case study of how the BCM went about their business back in the day: there was a faithful reporting of the England team's results, but no mention of a team member publicly falling-out with the World Championship challenger (his very recent employer), no word about a rift that had emerged between him and an England team-mate and only the merest hint that while all this was going on this fellow was massively under-performing at the board.

No, anybody relying on of the BCM's coverage of the 1978 Olympiad alone would never had known about the torrid time that our out-of-form chesser - none other than Raymond Dennis Keene - had in Buenos Aires.  Re-examining the situation in the light of what subsequently became public knowledge, firstly events that preceded the Olympiad and then what happened in Buenos Aires itself, we will see just how far the BCM had to turn their necks to be able to look the other way.

Keene and fellow English Grandmaster Michael Stean had been working as Korchnoi's seconds during the World Championship match against Karpov that took place in The Philippines from July to October 1978.  Stean stayed with Viktor until the re-match in Merano in 1981 but Keene never worked with either of them ever again.  Korchnoi came to see Keene as a "traitor".  Since he had defected from the Soviet Union just a couple of years beforehand, and had plenty of mud thrown at him by his former comrades in consequence, the choice of that particular word is rather significant and makes clear the depths of his antipathy towards his former employee.

The estrangement resulted from Korchnoi's feeling that Keene had been working against his interests in Baguio. Specifically, he believed that Keene had told Karpov's team the opening that he intended to play in the crucial 32nd game at Baguio (played with the score at 5-5 in a match that would be go to the first man to score six wins) and the fact that while supposedly working for Korchnoi, Keene had also been busy writing a book2 despite having signed a contract that specifically prohibited him from engaging in such activity3.

The Baguio dispute didn't just mean the end of two working relationships for Keene, it also meant the end of his personal relationship with Mike Stean.  The two men had known each other since their junior days, had  studied at Cambridge together and had worked as Korchnoi's seconds during the most recent World Championship Candidates'  Championship cycle.  In an interview published - astonishingly - in The Sun Keene had explained that he and Stean always agreed draws when paired together in tournaments because "friendship is too important"4. After Baguio, however, the pair barely exchanged another word for decades5.

"There is no doubt that all the work Ray was doing in the Philippines detracted from his performance as a second. The terrible thing was that Viktor had always been betrayed and let down. That was why he defected. He needed people around him he could trust. I could not forgive what Ray did …."
Michael Stean: quote from Kingpin

Had the Baguio match been limited to traditional 24 games the Olympiad would very possibly have been quite a different experience for Keene and the English team.  With 24 games there'd have been no suspicions around 6 ... c5 and the match would have ended on the 19th of September.  Instead it didn't finish until the 17th of October, barely a week before the Olympiad began.

If the World Championship match had been the traditional length, then, there'd have been a cooling-off period and a chance for the tensions between Korchnoi, Keene and Stean to have eased a little. Instead the three men had to go directly6 from Baguio to Buenos Aires without a break, with none of their differences resolved and with emotions running high.

With the backdrop to the Olympiad established, we can now turn to Buenos Aires and the total (k)nightmare that Keene had there.  He would write later7 that he experienced an eight-month chess depression after it was over, such was the impact that it had on him.  Was it really that bad?  Indeed it was: an awful tournament and the complete opposite of Keene's previously glittering Olympiad career.

Keene made his Olympiad debut at Havana in 1966 when aged just 18, and quickly became a key figure in the England squad.  He played at least ten games at each event prior to 1978 and averaged nearly fifteen.  At Buenos Aires, though, he played just four times.

It wasn't just that Keene was mysteriously absent from the board; when he did play his results were, by any standard, appalling.  No wins, two defeats and two draws was his meagre haul - and that from a man who until that point had a superb record playing for England.  Consider his achievements up to that point:-

  • GM norms at the two previous Olympiads (Nice '74; Haifa '76);
  • an IM norm at Siegen '70;
  • playing through three separate events unbeaten (Lugano '68; Siegen '70; Haifa '76);
  • losing just five games out of 88 played;
  • a 'worst' Olympic score of +5 =13 -2 (registered playing top board at Skopje in 1972).

In football terms - not entirely inappropriate given that the Buenos Aires Olympiad took place just a few short months after the same city hosted football's World Cup Final  - Keene, once a Bobby Charlton, had turned into Emile Heskey; he'd gone from a man who scored at will to one who couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo.

It isn't easy to live up to an illustrious past, but Keene's record at Buenos Aires wasn't just rank compared to his previous Olympiads.  In 1978 he was the worst performing member of the squad and playing badly too.  In his game against Lein in the sixth round, for example, he simply left a rook en prise.  The move Keene found, 32 ... Qg4, is a very good candidate for the worst that he ever played.

32 ... Qg4, the blunder of a lifetime?
Lein - Keene, Buenos Aires Olympiad 1978

So Ray Keene had a shocker at the Buenos Aires Olympiad, but it cannot be said that he was the only one.  In writing the BCM report,  Kevin O'Connell turned in a performance that was equally abysmal.  No doubt  he wasn't acting alone - I'm sure BCM general policy had some influence on what eventually appeared in the magazine - but I tend to favour the view that a man should be held responsible for anything that appears in print under his name and O'Connell was also the BCM's Assistant Editor at the time so can't get away from his part in editorial decision making anyway.  With that caveat in place, then, let us open the February 1979 edition of the BCM (no. 2, vol. 99) and see how the BCM and Kevin O'Connell completely ignored the story at the centre of England's Olympiad fortunes that year.

"Both Stean and Keene were exhausted after the goings on in Baguio but the strain showed more on the latter ...."
BCM: February 1979, p. 55

That's your lot. Those twenty words are all you get from O'Connell on the incredible turn around in Ray Keene's Olympiad fortunes and the only hint that the aftermath of Baguio might have influenced England's result in Baguio.  The "goings on" are never mentioned again, let alone explained.

O'Connell gives the results of Keene's games - defeat against Lein (USA) in round 6; defeat against Kuligowski (Poland) in round 7; draw with Day (Canada) in round 9; draw with Jakobsen (Denmark) in round 11 - but makes no attempt to give his performance any context.  There is neither reference to Keene's previously excellent Olympiad record nor comparison to his team-mates' much better results this time.

O'Connell does not appear to notice that Keene turned up at the Olympiad two rounds after Stean and Korchnoi (or at least does not find it worthy of comment); he does not find it odd that tiredness causes Keene's poor play but does not prevent Stean from scoring +3 =7 -0 (on a higher board); he doesn't ask if a World Championship match would usually be expected to leave a second more worn down than the Challenger himself; does not ponder how Korchnoi managed to win seven games, draw four and lose none on his way to the Gold Medal for best performance on Board 1.

No, the BCM's coverage of the 1978 Olympiad doesn't ask any of these questions.  If curiosity killed the cat, O'Connell was clearly in no bodily danger.  The BCM's man on the spot just remained curled-up by the radiator, rousing himself only for the occasional lap at his saucer of milk.

Am I expecting too much?  Should O'Connell and the BCM have known about the conflict that Keene faced?   If so, should they have reported it?  "Almost certainly" and "most definitely" are my answers to those questions.

For a start, by Keene's own account (see the head of today's blog), Korchnoi publicly accused him of secretly working for Karpov - and did so in the lobby of the hotel that housed the majority of Olympiad's participants.  Did nobody witness this exchange?  Even if they didn't, it seems unlikely that Korchnoi would have kept his gob shut for the entire fortnight, or Stean for that matter.  Again, even if they had, did nobody notice that relations between Keene and Stean were suddenly frosty?  Was there no atmosphere in the English camp?

If anybody who was actually there should ever get to read this, I'd be very interested to hear some eyewitness accounts.  As somebody who wasn't present (I was 10 and sat at home enjoying the first appearances of Grange Hill on my TV screen) it seems to me rather more likely that Buenos Aires was full of talk about what had (supposedly) happened at Baguio than that the representatives of the world's chess-playing nations were walking around blissfully ignorant of such things.

However, let us be generous and assume that it wasn't as I imagine, or if it was that O'Connell wasn't there (i.e. that the Kevin O'Connell who was elected to FIDE's Commission for Publications and Information and the Commission for Assistance to Chess-Developing Countries on 10th November 1978 was either not the K.J. O'Connell who was writing for the BCM or was elected in his absence).  Let us further assume that circumstances conspired against anybody at the BCM from approaching anybody with first-hand knowledge of the Olympiad that they could pass on to their readership.  Even in that case, it seems incredible that neither O'Connell nor anybody else noticed Keene's uncharacteristically poor play.

What seems extremely possible is that O'Connell knew very well what was going on, but either he or the BCM thought it should not be reported.  Did he/they consider it a private matter and not the business of anybody except Keene, Stean and Korchnoi themselves?  An arrogant point of view, if so.

The fortunes of a national team were and are a legitimate interest to that country's chessers.  Anything that affects their performance in a major tournament, therefore, becomes a topic that can and should be covered.

Keene scored poorly and hardly played.  This clearly had an impact on the English team as a whole.  O'Connell, limits himself to merely outlining the 'facts' though: he tells of England scoring four wins, a draw against the Soviet Union, and then of Keene arriving and England immediately losing to the USA.  The next round he describes a "disappointing result", the following one "another disappointing day".  England's challenge falls away, but O'Connell has nothing more to say.  Well, almost nothing.

"The first of the new month brought a change in England's fortunes.  It is unclear whether this first loss should be blamed on the arrival of November or the arrival of Keene!"
K.J. O'Connell, BCM February 1979 p. 55

At this distance it's hard to tell what O'Connell meant by that remark. Just a joke perhaps, or maybe the merest hint that he allowed himself that the England camp was unsettled by what was going on around Keene? Who knows?

What is clear, however you look at this, is that O'Connell and the BCM failed - and failed in much the same way as Andy Coulson did regarding the News of the World's phone-hacking scandal. Either he knew - in which case he had a duty to tell. If he didn't know?  Well, let's just say a competent journalist/editor would have known.

Andy Coulson: didn't do anything wrong which is why he resigned from two jobs

Am I being unfair to O'Connell and the BCM?  I don't think that I am.  This very weekend the Guardian published a column8 - apparently written anonymously by a professional footballer - discussing the disdain that those within the game have for the TV pundits.  Why?  Because their stock-in-trade is "the trivialisation of what [footballers] do"; because their analysis is "lazy" and "takes you, the viewer, for a fool."  The report that O'Connell wrote, and that the BCM published, is no different and the reason why it, and that whole 'style' of 'journalism', should be condemned: it insults the reader.

It's not that I think that they should have convicted Keene (it seems quite plausible that at the time the BCM wouldn't have known for sure that Keene had broken his contract with Korchnoi - that was only established later with Stean's mother's letter to CHESS monthly - and even today I'm not aware of any specific evidence to support Korchnoi's suspcions around the 32nd game).  It's not that I think that they should have concluded that it was absolutely certain that Keene's poor form was the result of his acrimonious conflict with Korchnoi and Stean (association in time is not necessarily proof of a causal relationship, after all).  It's not that I think that they should have placed the entire blame for England's 12th-14th place finish on Keene's shoulders.

It's not that I expect any answers in particular, it's that I want the legitimate and obvious questions to be asked.  I want the whole story, not just the bit of it that some pitiful excuse for a journo thinks I should be given.  Let us not forget that by not asking them, the BCM managed to fail to address the issue of whether the World Championship match was won through subterfuge9 - which is something the average chess fan might just have a faint interest in I would have thought - although it did find room for half-a-page on the difficulties that some participants had in finding themselves a hotel room.

The future of chess journalism?

Contemporary print media publications are currently under huge pressure from the internet and this is true in the chess world just as much as it is everywhere else.  More so maybe. Curiously, as incomprehensible in its incompleteness as it was, the BCM's coverage of the 1978 Olympiad gives us a clue as to how the industry might save itself.

It seems that the BCM was in a bit of a pickle in 1979. Throughout O'Connell's article somebody, presumably the editor, had sprinkled a series of begging messages aimed at the readership:

"BOOK A SUB ... or two!" (p. 58 );
"We're still looking for that ONE elusive reader : each ..." (p. 61).

That takes quite a bit of front, don't you think?  Decide to publish an article that completely fails to tell your readers the full story and then use it as an opportunity to ask them them to pay you more to be able to receive the same privilege again at some point in the future!

As bad as it seems to have been for them back then, can you imagine how it would have been had the internet been around?  The BCM might not have had anything to say about the Keene-Stean-Korchnoi business, but it would have been all over the web - much as the French Olympiad intrigue is today.  It's hard to imagine that any publication would have been able to get away with not covering an incident/issue that was of obvious interest to a large proportion of their customers.  If they tried, at least the modern-day reader would know that the writers and editors were withholding information from them.

Although these are challenging times for some,  readers are fortunate to be living in a time when those who produce paper and ink based magazines have to up their game.  The old BCM way of going about things simply won't do any more.  'Facts' you can get on the internet for free, and much quicker than a printed magazine or newspaper could ever manage.  To survive, magazines will have to provide something that the internet doesn't. Results, the moves of games, even who is suing whom - all of these can be found on chess websites.  What magazines can offer is something often lacking on the internet - interpretation, meaning and, ultimately, explanation.

Quality magazines will survive, but I'm quite sure that whether it turns out that we dig its grave in the short-, medium- or long-term, old-school chess journalism is inevitably doomed.  Good riddance to it, it won't be missed. Chess is a great game.  Those who want to read about it deserve not to be treated as fools.

Many thanks to Seani for his assistance in the preparation of this post.

1. I am grateful to Sean Hewitt and other members of the EC Forum for bringing the details of the case to my attention.
2. Ray Keene, Karpov - Korchnoi 1978: The Inside Story of the Match, Batsford 1978
3. "The second will not write, compile, or help to write or compile any book during the course of the match" - Korchnoi: Chess is My Life, Edition Olms 2005.
4. "Chess Mates Bash Boris" The Sun, 21/12/1977
5. There appears to have been some form of thawing of relations more recently:  I spotted Stean in the audience at the 2009 Staunton Memorial tournament, for example, though whether or not he spoke to Keene while there I have no clue.  Korchnoi himself, of course, was playing in the event.
6. Well, as directly as international travel in the 1970s allowed anyway.  According to the BCM, Stean arrived in Argentina via Hong Kong, America and Guatemala.
7. Chandler & Keene: The English Chess Explosion from Miles to Short, Batsford 1981
8. With thanks to EJH for the tip.
9. About the FIDE Congress, 9th November 1978 sitting, O'Connell wrote, "This day also saw the first discussions on Korchnoi's protest about the World Championship match and the 32nd game in particular.  This question is now sub judice in the Dutch courts where Korchnoi is suing FIDE and Karpov".  That's as close as he got to the subject.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Worst Move On The Board XI

Georgieva-Lada, Gibraltar 2011, round one. Position after 48.Qb8-e5+, kindly forwarded to us by Jack Rudd.

A panic job, this one: if we go back a move, to the position after White's 47th, we can maybe see what went wrong.

Black is obviously not only winning, but close to mating. But she has two causes for concern - the possibility of White's a-pawn promoting, and the potential for White to save the day with a perpetual check. As it happens, there's nothing much to worry about: simply 47...Qe6+ 48.Kg2 Qe2+ followed by ...Ne4 will get White mated before she has any time to do any damage, since if Qe5+ then ...Kh7 and White has no time to get closer to the king.

Unfortunately, Black blundered with 47...Qf3?? which crucially not only loses a tempo (since White can move a piece other than the king) but allows White's queen into e5 before Black is ready to deliver mate. Hence 48.Qe5+ and now it's panic-stations: 49.a7 is coming and Black doesn't even have a perpetual check with the queen (the king can hide on h4).

Best, in fact, is 48...Kh7 after which 49.a7 actually fails to 49..Ne4, but 49.Qe7 appears to secure a draw. But Black didn't find 48....Kh7, and all other moves lose. She chose the worst of them.

[Worst move index]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Literary Reference : Nineteen Eighty-Four

A waiter, again unbidden, brought the chessboard and the current issue of The Times, with the page turned down at the chess problem. Then, seeing that Winston's glass was empty, he brought the gin bottle and filled it. There was no need to give orders. They knew his habits. The chessboard was always waiting for him, his corner table was always reserved; even when the place was full he had it to himself, since nobody cared to be seen sitting too close to him. He never even bothered to count his drinks. At irregular intervals they presented him with a dirty slip of paper which they said was the bill, but he had the impression that they always undercharged him. It would have made no difference if it had been the other way about. He had always plenty of money nowadays. He even had a job, a sinecure, more highly-paid than his old job had been.

The music from the telescreen stopped and a voice took over. Winston raised his head to listen. No bulletins from the front, however. It was merely a brief announcement from the Ministry of Plenty. In the preceding quarter, it appeared, the Tenth Three-Year Plan's quota for bootlaces had been overfulfilled by 98 per cent.

He examined the chess problem and set out the pieces. It was a tricky ending, involving a couple of knights. 'White to play and mate in two moves.' Winston looked up at the portrait of Big Brother. White always mates, he thought with a sort of cloudy mysticism. Always, without exception, it is so arranged. In no chess problem since the beginning of the world has black ever won. Did it not symbolize the eternal, unvarying triumph of Good over Evil? The huge face gazed back at him, full of calm power. White always mates.
George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Penguin, 1983, p.249. (Original date of publication 1949.)

[A Literary Reference index]

Friday, January 28, 2011

Once was enough I : Latvian Gambit 3.Nxe5 Nc6

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 f5 3.Nxe5 Nc6

Mark Twain seems to have been in the news quite a lot lately, which is not bad going for a dead man. With all the controversy over what he said, and what some people think he should have said, I should be careful to note that his commentary on smoking - that it was easy to give up, because he'd done it thousands of times - is, as far as I know, "attributed". It would still do as an epitaph.

It will also do, moreover, as a theme to a series: opening variations that I have given up. But in this instance, not only given up, but given up after playing the line only once. As if we were to give up smoking every time we had a cigarette - then change the brand, and have another one. And then give up again. And so on.

Whether this really is an apt analogy, I don't really know, never having smoked a cigarette in my life (or not a legal one, anyway). But it will do until we find a better one. So it may last rather longer than the openings to which it is being applied.

These openings. These short-lived openings. Why would anybody adopt an opening, read it up, "learn" it, expend time and money and effort in the process, and then abandon it after a single game? One can think of a number of explanations, most of them coalescing around the theme of "stupidity".

Well, obviously. Most of what we do looks stupid when we look back at it. But even stupidity has its reasons. So let us see if we can see how this stupidity became, if only to see how other players can avoid it in the future. Or find, more likely, other stupidities, equally stupid in their particular stupid way.

What actually constitutes a variation we have played only once? In a sense almost any game might qualify, since with the exception of very short and very unusual games, almost every game is unique. Almost every game creates a new variation, in its way.

So I shall mostly select lines which would have been major choices. Which, if I changed my mind, would have had an impact on whichever first or second move I chose (though the variation, itself, might "begin" rather later in the day). Not sidelines, but positions I could have expected to reach on a regular basis. Lines, which, if they were to be abandoned, would involve a large rethinking of my repertoire. Lines of which one should, therefore, be reasonably confident before choosing them. But choose these lines I did. And abandon them I did as well.

Most (if not all) of the variations that we'll see involve my playing the Black pieces, and most (if not all) involve defending against 1.e4, against which I have played many, many different lines, and like Twain, given up almost every one. Many of them, too many, after just the one attempt.

You wouldn't catch me playing this rubbish

There's no end to this process, and no obvious beginning, but much of it took place a period in the mid-Nineties, when I was, mostly, playing a lot of chess and buying a lot of chess books. I had taken a long break from chess after going to college in 1983, and when I resumed, I started by playing the same openings (Benko Gambit, Sicilian Scheveningen and 1.e4 with White) which I had been playing when I left school.

Gradually I became dissatisfied with each, the Benko going first and the e-pawn being replaced with the English late in 1994. I stopped playing the Scheveningen earlier the same year, for reasons which (in so far as I can remember them) we'll talk about at a later date. For a while I'd also been throwing in the occasional Petroff, another favourite from my youth, but (and we may also touch on this in a future post) I'd suffered some disillusionment in this line too, at roughly the same time. So I needed to find something else.

I didn't. Or at least, not for around another ten years. Ten. It took me that long, not so much to find something that answered all the questions I was asking of a Black defence, but to appreciate that I was asking too many. In the meantime, I thrashed about like a spider on the run. For a short period I decided I was happy with the Lopez in one form or another, but then everything fell apart and over the course of 1996-9, looking back at my scorebooks, I find I played:
  • four different kinds of Ruy Lopez
  • three different kinds of Sicilian
  • two different kinds of French Defence
  • two different kinds of Philidor
  • two different kinds of Scandinavian
and a partridge in a pear tree, that partridge being the Latvian Gambit. Not just any Latvian Gambit, but a particularly loony Latvian, this line being the theme of today's post. And like too many partridges, it got run over the first time it tried to cross the road.

WHERE I FOUND IT: In Tony Kosten's The Latvian Gambit (Holt, 1995, the British publisher being Batsford) which I had picked up somewhere or other, and bought on the strength of having liked the same author's book on the Philidor.

WHY I PLAYED IT: At this distance it's hard to be sure of anything. To compound the problem, as this was right in the middle of my thrashing-around period, I was making and unmaking so many choices that in all probability, nothing can have been very clear at the time, let alone much later. However, I think that in my choice, I was influenced by the fear of what the other player may know. The other player may know the weakness in my line. Hence, or so the mental process may have gone, let us find a line that they do not know, one that is perhaps underrated, and play that instead. It's as if our spider on the run had decided to escape by heading down the plughole.

Originally I'd intended to play the "normal" line, with 3. Nxe5 Qf6. I'd played the Latvian twice against strong (190+) players in a tournament early in 1998, both of them responding with 3.d4 instead. I drew one of these game and lost the other, but obviously felt sufficiently vindicated in my choice to try it again against Adam Hunt in the county championship in April.

Not so vindicated, though, that I played it in between: I had Black three times in the intervening period and played one King's Gambit, one Centre Counter and one Wormald Variation of the Lopez. (That's the line with 5.Qe2. Had 5.O-O been played, I might have intended 5...Nxe4. Who knows.)

Possibly I may have been influenced by the possibility that Adam, who'd been present at the tournament, had seen those two games, and would do some work on the Latvian before playing me. And I wasn't really happy with Black's prospects in the main line, which continued 4.d4 d6 5.Nc4 fxe4 6.Nc3 Qg6 7.f3

in which position Black has sacrificed perhaps too many tempi for the privilege of opening up his queen and king.

So, with the logic that was informing my choices at that time, I replaced an intended line that was little-known and a little dubious with one that was even less well-known and even more questionable.

WHY I STOPPED PLAYING IT: The outcome of the game may have had something to do with it, since Black was lost before the move count got into double figures. That said, it might have been a different story if, instead of 7...Qxe5? Black had played 7...O-O-O since after something like 8.Nc3 Qxe5 9.Re1 Bd6 10.g3 Qf6

Black seems to me to be doing perfectly OK.

But White had rather better options on moves 5 and 6. Or, for that matter, on move 4. Round about this time I bought a very good book by John Nunn which, among many other things, took time out to criticise Tony Kosten's book and the gambit it was recommending. This caused a certain among of friction, since Kosten seemed to feel that Nunn had accused him of being less than candid with his readers. (Nunn, for instance, talked of "secret code words", i.e. phrases that admit that a given recommendation is not actually that strong, without openly saying so.)

Be that as it may, Nunn also paid some attention to the 3...Nc6 line, about which he was no more complimentary than he needed to be, and which he claimed, convincingly enough, to have refuted almost without trying. He gave 4.d4 and if 4...Qh4, which was Kosten's suggestion, then 5.Nf3 Qxe4 6.Be2

and Black's position is manifestly rubbish. I don't know precisely when I saw Nunn's book, or whether I had decided to junk the Latvian junk before I'd seen it. I do know that once having seen this variation, I was never going to play that line again.

Not just because of Nunn, though. Because it was rubbish. So I had to find some other rubbish to play again. And, as we will see, I certainly did.

CHANCES OF MY PLAYING IT AGAIN: I'd rather beat myself around the head with a brick.

[Twain photo:]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The thirty-third piece

To add to the list of things I suffer from at the chess board - forgetfulness, a poor opening repertoire, a lack of concentration, tactical oversights, little or no strategic understanding, positional naivety, a pendulum mind that swings from the vanities of optimism to soul-crushing pessimism without pausing for the realism that presumably should lie somewhere in between - I can now newly add: time-trouble. Desperate, clock-banging, move-blitzing, pulse-racing, flag-hanging time-trouble. And sometimes more than once a game.

Where has this come from? Is it definitely a bad thing? What was I doing differently before? Is there any hope? I've spent, as you might guess, an unnecessary amount of time thinking over these questions, and have settled on three possible theories to explain my new difficulty, which you can vote on on the left. But if you need a bit more information to decide, then:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Points of View

Peter Turland of the EC Forum writes:-

... an incredible amount of absolute rubbish is broadcast ...

Indeed so.

... you know gay TV, porn, cheap tacky jewellery auctions, sports like bull riding ...

Umm, run that first one by me again.

... I have nothing against people who prefer sexual acts with people of their own gender ...

Oh good.

... per se ...


... and consider the way Alan Turin [sic] was treated by our judiciary to be a scandal ...

So gay TV notwithstanding, no homosexualist has penetrated your consciousness since 1954? No matter, perhaps we should get to the point.

... I fail to see why gayness is on our national media and chess isn't.

Why oh why oh why oh why?

Alas, the Streatham & Brixton Chess Blog is quite unable to help Mr. Turland with his query, although we suspect it's probably got something to do with political correctness going mad.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chess Pub: A Review (Part I)

15. ... Nb4
Sen - Williams, Uxbridge 2010
(annotated on Chess Pub, December 2010)

Last week [TIFE XIV] I mentioned that I've been taking a peek at Chess Pub of late. Consider that post an overture to the review that now follows: this week I'll give an overview of Tony Kosten's website and next time I'll look at what's on offer in a little more detail.

Chess Pub has been in business for over ten years now so there's a more than reasonable chance that you're already familiar with it. For those that aren't, it's a website dedicated to opening theory. There are twelve sections to the site, each focusing on a different group of openings and all of them updated monthly. Updates typically consist of around eight to ten annotated games and subscribers get access not only to these games - which may be viewed online or downloaded - but also, just as important, they are able to download the existing archive of games for that section.

The Chess Pub world
1. e4 e5 Ruy Lopez and all the non-Spanish systems
Dragons including Accelerated Dragons
Open Sicilians everything else that begins 1. e4, 2. Nf3, 3. d4
Anti-Sicilians 2. c3, 3. Bb5, Closed, GPA, Morra etc
1. e4 other Caro-Kann, Pirc, Alekhine, Scandinavian etc
1. d4 d5 Queen's Gambits (Orthodox, Slav, Semi-Slav) and Catalan
d-pawn specials Trompovsky, Torre, Colle, London etc etc etc
King's Indian
Nimzo and Benoni including Queen's Indian and Bogo-Indian
Daring Defences Grunfeld, Dutch, Benko Gambit, Budapest Gambit  etc
Flank Openings English, Reti etc

£12 will give you access to one of these sections for a year; £24 gets you three; six cost £39 and you can have the whole lot for £59 (prices in euros and American dollars are also listed on the website). The pricing structure means there's a lot of flexibility in how you can use Chess Pub. For example, you can focus on your favourite opening and subscribe just the one area or perhaps, if you respond to 1. e4 with some variation of the Sicilian, you could invest in Open Sicilians and Anti-Sicilians and still have room for your defence to queen's pawn openings. Alternatively, if you play 1. d4 you might want to go for the six-section option and get 1. d4 d5; King's Indian; Daring Defences; Nimzo & Benoni; one section for when you play Black against king's side openings and Flank Openings too, just to round things out.

Although Chess Pub has divided up the material pretty well you can find a few anomalies here and there.  For example, there's no dedicated section for Najdorf fanatics - which seems slightly strange given the popularity of that opening - and if you want to follow developments in the Nimzo-Indian you may also find yourself having/wanting to subscribe to 1. d4 d5 for games that begin 1. d4 Nf6, 2. c4 e6, 3. g3. Mind you, put the Catalan in with the Nimzos and then the Queen's Gambit folk will be the ones looking for a second section for the games that start 1. d4 d5, 2. c4 e6, 3. Nf3 Nf6, 4. g3.  It just goes to show, I suppose, that you can't please all of the people all of the time.

So if, like me, you play The French Defence against 1. e4, or if you answer 1. d4 with the King's Indian, then deciding whether or not to subscribe is probably more straightforward than for those who prefer other openings. I can imagine Caro-Kann or Grunfeld enthusiasts casting envious eyes at us Frenchies and/or KIDers and wondering why we get a section all to ourselves and they don't. That said, I'm not sure whether wanting an Alekhine Defence game and getting one in the Scandinavian is really that much different to seeing games that start 1. e4 e6, 2. d4 d5, 3. Nc3 Nf6 when you want to learn about the Winawer with 3. ... Bb4.

News breaks that Chess Pub has no section dedicated to 1. e4 c6

Whether it's worth paying for any particular section is going to be very much an individual choice, and the answer each of us comes up with will probably depend, to a great extent, on specific openings that most interest us. My decision, for what it's worth, is to subscribe to the French but leave out the coverage of the Dutch in Daring Defences for now.Not that the Chess Pub Dutch coverage is poor by any means.

Last month The Ginger GM Simon Williams took over Daring Defences for one off update devoted entirely to the Classical Dutch. One game that he analysed was Sen-Williams, Uxbridge 2010, the game from which the position at the head of today's blog was taken.

After looking at Shirov-Bareev from the Manila Intezonal of 1990 [The Interesting Sacrificed Exchange], I developed a speed assessment system for the kind of exchange sacrifice that Williams comes up with - there is always compensation if you give up a rook for a fianchettoed bishop (especially so if, as here, you get a nice square for your knight into the bargain).  Fortunately, Williams' analysis of his game with Sen is somewhat more sophisticated.

Aside from that special update, the Chess Pub archives include a fair few interesting and theoretically important games in the opening. Considering only Williams' own games in the Classical Dutch, for example, we can find Gallagher-Williams, 2001; Agrest-Williams, 2004; Ward-Williams, 2004; Markus-Williams, 2005; Bruno-Williams, 2005; Belov-Williams, 2006; Shirov-Williams, 2006; Gormally-Williams, 2006 - to name but eight amongst many others. Thinking of the Leningrad branch of the opening, the coverage includes Nakamura's games against Anand and Kramnik at Wijk last year as you would expect and I'd be very surprised if his draw with Aronian from just a few days ago doesn't appear in the next update.

Chess Pub works very well as a resource to complement Williams' The Killer Dutch DVD or Neil McDonald's Starting Out: The Dutch, then. So why isn't it something I want to invest in? There are essentially three reasons:-

1. If you're overly worried about the theoretical status of the Dutch, particularly the Classical Dutch, you probably shouldn't be playing it in the first place.

2. 1. ... f5 not being the most popular response to 1. d4 at GM the highest levels, It's not likely that a huge number of games wth ECO codes A80 to A99 are going to appear on Chess Pub in the next year - and those that do are most likely to be Leningrads.

3. In any event, my experience is that my opponents are more likely to play 1. d4 2. other or 1. d4, 2. c4 and then not follow-up with g3 and Bg2 than they are to go for the main lines like Sen-Williams. It would not be logical to subscribe to Daring Defences alone, then. If I'm going to do that I should probably also invest in d-pawn Specials too - and on principle I'd really rather not do that.

Talking of those various d-pawn openings, here's one example you can find in the Chess Pub archive: David Moskovic having his arse handed to him by one of the Houskas - Miroslav, I believe - at a tournament back in 1999.

How exactly to describe what happened to Black here?  I think I'd go for 'bitch slapped', although 'utterly spanked' seems just as fitting. I leave the choice to you - and to young Mosko who might well be along shortly to tell us that he was, in fact, a little better until just before the end (and I suppose he'll have a point, seeing as Black must be at least =+ after 3. ... dxe4 and there were so very few moves thereafter).

Anyhoo, let this be a warning to those of us that don't think much of that 1. d4 2. other stuff: they might be iffy from a theoretical perspective, but they can be dangerous in practice.

Ricky Hatton: "slightly better" against Manny Pacquiao

So when considering a subscription to Chess Pub, the first choice you have to make is always going to be  whether the way the site organises the material works for you. Often it will, but for some folk it might not - although even those whose favourite openings share sections with lines that are not of immediate interest might want to consider the question of whether access to the existing archive would of itself be worth the price of admission.  I would say that even if it isn't anything like as substantial as, say, the French section, there are enough Dutch Opening games in the Daring Defences archive to be worth £12 of your money.

Ultimately, then, while it's undeniably true that some folk are more at risk of being disappointed by a subscription to Chess Pub than others, it's definitely a resource that's worth considering if you want to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in your favourite lines.  What's more, depending on your circumstances, my feeling is that it may still be a reasonable purchase even if you feel you might end up seeing some games that don't particularly interest you.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sing a Song of Chess

The Chess Machine

The chess machine's got no feeling,
The chess machine will send you reeling, but
It don't care. It just beats me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bad book covers XVII

Zuke 'Em, The Colle-Zukertort Revolutionized, Rudel, Thinkers' Press, 2009

The Moment Of Zuke, Critical Positions and Pivotal Decisions
for Colle System Players
, Rudel, Thinkers' Press, 2009

Bxh7+, Rudel, Thinkers' Press, 2009

[Bad book covers index]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Remarkably Unremarkable!

Surely the vast majority of chess games are, essentially, decided in ordinary positions: nothing special is going on, but one player blunders, or the other one misses the best plan, or someone takes too long to work out what they should know, and it comes back to haunt them at the time-control. Yet how often do we test ourselves at home in these kinds of positions? See them featured newspaper columns? Find them collected in puzzle books?

Never? Well, I can now name one exception: International Master Colin Crouch's Why we lose at chess, published last year and under review here today.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Interesting French Exchange XIV

Last month, in between doing my Chrimbo shopping and wishing it wasn't quite so cold, I spent a fair bit of time nosing around Chess Pub courtesy of site owner Tony Kosten. Naturally, faced with a database of 16,000+ annotated games that ran across the whole spectrum of chess openings, the first thing I did was bypass the dull stuff - your Dragons, Grunfelds, King's Indians, Marshall Attacks and so on - and dive straight in to that prince of chess openings, the French Exchange.

Tony Kosten:
owns a website dedicated to opening theory and wears a very fine hat

To be honest I didn't expect to find that much as, for some unaccountable reason, most sources tend not to give ECO code C01 their fullest attention.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find more than thirty games in the chess pub collection - and a little more than half of those were fully-fledged TIFEs as opposed to Exchange Winawers (or Winawer Exchanges if you prefer).  Even better, while they had Gurevich-Short, Manila 1990, most of the collection was new to me.  I didn't know, for example, that Kramnik had ever played an IFE, let alone against Polgar.  Apparently he did though - at Novgorod in 1996.

Top marks for quantity, then.  What of the quality of the games?  Suffice to say that the ChessPub TIFEbase contains games from such renowned French Defenders as Bareev, Uhlmann, Shirov, Short, Psakhis and Stefan Kindermann.  There's also a game each from Ian Rogers and Vallejo Pons, both top GMs, but neither of whom, as far as I knew, were famous for playing the French.

One game I particularly enjoyed was Moskovic - Short from the 4NCL some years back.  Adopting the early 4 Bd3 c5 plan that I've been experimenting with since watching Simon Williams' Killer French DVD, Nosh gives a convincing demonstration of how to go about outplaying a much lower-rated opponent.

I also liked seeing no less a figure than Garry Kasparov getting a TIFE spank, even if it was only in a simul.  TIFE addicts will recall that back in the early 90s Gazza even played 3 exd5 in real games.

Nigel Short:
overjoyed to hear of his latest TIFE appearance on the S&BC Blog

I hate it when opening books make one side win all the games - even when we're talking about the French Exchange.  Happily, Black doesn't have things all his own way in Chess Pub's TIFE coverage.

In his notes to Short's game, for example, McDonald mentions how he once played Moskovic in the exact same line, but lost after impatiently throwing his kingside pawns forward in an attempt to obtain winning chances.  I also found Tregubov - Belov (Chigorin Memorial, 2002), a real warning for Black that s/he should not be lulled into the belief that since White has played 3 exd5 he must only be interested in playing quietly for a draw.

The three games cited here, and indeed all the others in the collection, are fully annotated, the vast majority (over 90%) either by Neil McDonald or John Watson.  The latter has recently taken over the running of the Chess Pub French section and since JW also has a strong history as a writer on all things French, I think we can assume the quality of TIFE coverage will not diminish under his watch.

I'm definitely a fan of Chess Pub's coverage of the French Exchange.  If I have any criticism at all it is only that the classics, Gurevich - Short aside, are rather neglected.  Even that is possibly not such a serious drawback: perhaps I flatter myself, but I believe the interested student can find many of the great historical TIFE encounters right here in this very series, e.g.:-

Tal-Korchnoi, 1955 [TIFE III]; Tatai-Korchnoi, 1978 and Kovacs-Korchnoi, 1969 [TIFE IV]; Winter-Alekhine, 1936 and Apsenieks-Alekhine, 1939 [TIFE VI]; Capablanca-Alekhine, 1927 [TIFE XII]; Enoch-Nimzowitsch, 1927 [TIFE II] not to mention games from renowned GM Frenchies such as Uhlmann [TIFE V], Moskalenko [TIFE VIII] and Williams [TIFE X].

This one reservation notwithstanding, ChessPub is without doubt the finest single resource I've yet to find on the French Exchange and I commend it to anybody interested in exploring this most wonderful of chess openings. For those who don't find this reason enough to take out a subscription to Chess Pub, a full review will appear here in the next week or two.

The Interesting French Exchange Index

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Every Picture Tells A Story: And Then There Were Three.

Blog 4 in a series of collaborative posts: this one by Richard Tillett, with comment by Martin Smith.

Patient readers who have persevered this far into our saga will know that Martin and I are in thrall to an obsession. The object of our attentions is an early 19th century picture of the gentlemen of the Hereford Chess Society. We want to find out as much as we can about it, the little-known artist (Thomas Leeming) who painted it, and the people he depicted.

Our previous blogs can be accessed here. In our last one, we explained how we discovered that there are actually two, intriguingly different, versions of this picture. One is in store at the Hereford Art Gallery. The other, formerly owned by Ian Greenlees and subsequently sold at Sotheby’s, stubbornly resists all our attempts to locate its whereabouts. Since that blog appeared we have sourced a high quality image of this version on a German art website, Kunst für Alle, which probably came from Sotheby’s at the time of the 1991 sale. Here it is:

You can buy a reproduction to hang on your wall.
Go on, treat yourself. It’s available here.

Well, we thought there were two versions. Now we know there are three. To explain how we came upon the third, I must first admit to a vice – auction catalogues. I love to browse them online. Call it art porn if you like and yes, I know it’s sad. I also have a taste for attending the viewings that precede the sales (art voyeurism, you might say). Occasionally I even buy stuff, funds permitting.

It’s August and I’m browsing through a Christie’s sale catalogue for an auction to be held at their South Kensington showrooms the following month. I drool over some period chess sets, then scan through the paintings. One of them catches my eye. There are some gents playing chess. Hello, they look familiar. Surely it couldn’t be those gents again. It is.

Version Three. Sold at Christie's 7th September 2010.

I pick myself up off the floor and take a closer look. There are some notable differences. The dog is larger and sleepier than the poodle in the Hereford version, (which you can see here) and it has wandered over to the other side of the picture. Although there is still a pile of clutter in the left foreground this time it includes a book (it turns out to be a chess book) resting on a rather stylish stool. All change with the chairs too – these are fancy, expensive ones upholstered in what looks like leather and in the Empire style. They would have been the height of fashion in 1815 and doubtless would have been much admired in polite Hereford society.

The room setting is different too – the early Georgian fittings and decoration in the other two versions have given way to a later 18th century style, with lighter mouldings around the door, an ornamental lockplate at the extreme right of the picture, and neo-classical plasterwork on the ceiling. There’s also a new position on the board and some different paintings on the walls. However, the figures themselves are much the same, and that looks like Beavan in the left foreground (as in ‘Hereford’) rather than Buckson (as in ‘Greenlees’ at the top of this post).

Martin and I confer. We wonder how many times Leeming turned this out. Perhaps it was his ‘nice little earner’, with different versions coming off the production line for any of the gents who fancied one, customised to include the client’s pooch, some personal possessions, and even interior furnishings.

‘I may have to buy it,’ I declare. But how much should I pay? The estimate is £800-£1200, well below the £7200 the Greenlees version made in 1991. The auctioneers do not know the background to the picture (the catalogue describes it merely as ‘English School, 19th Century, the chess players’), but that alone does not explain the low estimate.

A peep at Christie's. James Gillray (1756-1815).

The reason becomes apparent at the viewing. Parts of the picture are poorly painted. The hand that hovers over the board is a bit iffy, as is some of the perspective. The artist’s attempts to take out the niches on the back wall have not been entirely successful, and the top right hand edge to the fireplace looks wonky. Leeming was a better painter than this – surely it is wholly or partly by another hand.

We discuss the picture with one of Christie’s specialists, the extremely helpful Gus. He takes us into a darkroom where we examine it under ultraviolet light. This shows up areas where the picture has been restored. He tells us that it was sold once before in 1982, also at Christie’s, when it made £750.

The day of the auction comes. Egged on by Martin, I decide to attend in person. There are about 30 bidders and half a dozen or so Christie’s people taking phone and internet bids. Lot 572 comes up and bidding opens at the top of the estimated range (£1200), so there must have been some absentee bids.

Christie‘s Auction Room in London. Thomas Rowlandson and Augustus Pugin for Ackermann's Microcosm of London, 1808-11.

I stick my hand up at £1300. For a moment there are no other bidders but then a competitor enters the fray via the internet. We battle it out to £1700, which is £100 over my limit. Mrs T will surely have something to say if I go any higher. So, despite the auctioneer’s best efforts to tease another bid from me, I decide to let it go. Sold to the internet bidder for £1800, which is £2250 when you add in the buyer’s premium. I tell Martin that I shall grieve, but not for too long.

We will have more to say in a future blog about how we think this version relates to the other two, and who knows, maybe by then a fourth version will have surfaced. In our next instalment (February 5th), Streatham and Brixton Chess Club’s Institute for Thomas Leeming Studies goes on a field trip to Hereford.


Kunst für Alle (Art for all).
Christie's Interior sale catalogue No. 5986, 7 September 2010.
Goldmark Gallery for the Gillray.Wikimedia for the Rowlandson.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Ray Could Play VIII

Sometimes it's the smallest details that most grab your attention. A casual remark, intended almost as an aside but which, with the benefit of hindsight, really stands out.

Yesterday, for example we (re)published Keene's Gambit, the Sunday Times piece on what became known as the 'Keene-Miles Affair' that stirred-up so much poop at the beginning of the 1990s.  Of all the 4,700 words in Nick Pitt's article it was these 24 that I enjoyed the most:-

[Miles] contacted Brian Eley, a discontented former Federation officer, who after a few inquiries made a complaint about how the inter-zonal fund had been spent.

Yes, the initial complaint to the BCF really was made by notorious kiddie-fiddler Brian Eley. The guy apparently felt that a few hundred quid's worth of alleged fraud is really not on, but that doing a runner while the police are investigating you for child abuse is completely fine. Eley had himself quite a moral code, don't you think?

Omar Little:
"A man should have a code"

Anyhoo, what of Keene? It was twenty years ago, so why bring this all up again now? Well, I tend to believe that old stories are interesting precisely because they happened a long time ago (see Times chess man cracks 'missing woman' riddle for another example), but aside from that, it seems to me that the fall out from the Keene-Miles business still has some relevance for chess today.

For a start, the picture that the Sunday Times paints of the (then) British Chess Federation, is not a happy one.

Despite the strength of British chess the Federation is now riven with discontent and faction-fighting. Rumours and allegations of maladministration and financial mismanagement, of which the Miles-Keene affair is merely the most colourful, are prevalent.

If true, might the deterioration of England's chess fortunes to our current position as one of the chess world's also-rans derive, at least in part, to the BCF's inability to handle itself effectively back then? British chess was "booming" when Keene's Gambit was published.  We can hardly say the same now.

Then there's last summer's Staunton Memorial dinner and CJ de Mooi's somewhat muddled insistence that the event had nothing whatsoever to do with the ECF. Why, I wondered at the time, would it be a problem if there was some kind of official connection anyway? Might the events that the Sunday Times described (or claimed, at least) have something to do with it?

Keene, of course, denied Miles' allegations, but even if we imagine for a moment that he had done exactly what he was accused of, after two decades should it be controversial for the ECF and RDK to work together? It might not have been if the issue was satisfactorily resolved at the time.

Keene wrote through his solicitors to the British Chess Federation informing them that he could not attend the inquiry on the appointed date because his wife’s grandmother had died; that he would not agree to attend on any future date; that he would sue anyone who repeated the allegations made by Miles; and that he hereby resigned from the BCF.

I suppose that whenever somebody leaves an organisation under a cloud of allegations not fully investigated, however much water subsequently passes under the bridge, resuming a working relationship will inevitably create an issue or two for those involved - perhaps on both sides. At some point, though, shouldn't we allow people to be rehabilitated?

Happier times
photo from

Aside from Keene, though, aside from CJ and the ECF, aside, even, from Brian 'Evil Uncle Ernie' Eley's bizarre cameo, if there's one reason why you might want to take another look at the Sunday Times' piece it's Tony Miles' story. It's easy to overlook given the article's title, but the sensitive portrayal of Miles's deteriorating mental state, and his subsequent recovery, remains as deserving of attention twenty years on as it was on the day of publication.

For all these reasons, then, I hope that some folk amongst our readership will consider Keene's Gambit to be worth a look. It is there, at least, for those that want to read it. For those who only want to see some chess, here's the first ever R.D. Keene v A.J. Miles encounter. The first of nine, as it turned out, with Raymondo finishing up slightly ahead with +3 =4 -2.

Not the brutal demolition of Keene-Miles, Hastings 75/76, to be sure (see here for the final combination), but still quietly pleasing for those of us who like this sort of thing. Raymondo's notes to this battle, by the way, can be found on

Ray Keene Index