Friday, February 28, 2014

Elo DWP?

I played at Hampstead a couple of weeks ago. Although my score of +2 =0 -2 might not sound that bad, in truth I played extremely badly and quite deservedly failed to match better outcomes I’d achieved at similar events in January, November and October. Frankly, it was not a successful weekend for me at all.

It wasn’t as bad as FIDE would have you believe, mind.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The mysterious case of the missing CAS case

There's a passage in Homage To Catalonia where Orwell is about to discuss party politics on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and he advises his readers that if they aren't interested, "please skip". This goes for today's column too. It's about the CAS case and the ECF. If you're not interested, that's cool - see you again on Friday.

If you're still here, I was reluctant to write about this again. Water under the bridge, reopening old wounds etc. But as the question came up, and as the role of international chess politics, Nigel Short and ECF palace intrigues continues to be controversial, it does, unfortunately, seem pertinent to establish what exactly did happen in 2011, and whether information was kept secret from ECF members as to what was being carried out in their name.

To recap. The CAS case was a legal case, financed by Garry Kasparov but nominally launched by the English and Georgian Chess Federations, in 2011, against FIDE's unconstitutional appointment of extra vice-presidents. ("Tshirt gate" refers to a variety of scandals arising from the conduct of the then ECF President, CJ de Mooi, at the British chess championships in Sheffield in July and August 2011, which continued to occupy the minds and time of ECF officials in subsequent months.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Standard ISEs

White to play
MacReamoinn - JMGB
Hampstead (5), Hampstead u2200, February 2014

One of those little twists of fate that chess frequently throws our way.  Just as I had at Golders Green a month before I found myself facing Brian MacReamoinn in the last round.

Not too difficult to guess what’s coming. Not too easy to see any way for White to continue the attack other than to play Rxh5. A standard idea after all - we saw one in Jack’s Sacs last week - and, as it turned out, plenty good enough to see me off.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A question for Silvio Danailov

From Andrew Paulson's bizarre albeit entertaining screed:

This is quite serious stuff, isn't it? If it's true, than Danailov has a lot of explaining to do. If it isn't, Paulson does. Right?

So let's ask the Danailov campaign.

Email, Saturday 22 February, 11.01 am:

Dear Mr Hristov

Sorry to bother you.

I write about chess and I have a question for Mr Danailov.

Andrew Paulson alleges that Mr Danailov:

spent six months in jail for arms dealing (materiel stolen from the Bulgarian army)

Can you confirm that Mr Paulson's allegation is false? Will Mr Danailov issue a statement confirming that it is false?


Justin Horton

Huesca province, Spain

If a reply arrives, we'll be sure to let you know. If it doesn't, we're sure we can rely on the curiosity of the chess press to follow this matter up.

[Screed via Chessvibes]
[Andrew Paulson index]

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Just Barely Got Something to do with chess IX

James Wood: On Not Going Home
London Review of Books vol 36 #4

Or Suppose I am looking down our Boston street, in dead summer. I see a familiar life: the clapboard houses, the porches, the heat-mirage hanging over the patched road (snakes of asphalt like black chewing gum), the grey cement sidewalks (signed in one place, when the cement was new, by three young siblings), the heavy maple trees, the unkempt willow down at the end, an old white Cadillac with the bumper sticker ‘Ted Kennedy has killed more people than my gun,’ and I feel ... nothing: some recognition, but no comprehension, no real connection, no past despite all the years I have lived there - just a tugging distance from it all. A panic suddenly overtakes me, and I wonder: how did I get here? And then the moment passes, and ordinary life closes itself around what had seemed, for a moment, a desperate lack. 

Edward Said says that it is no surprise that exiles are often novelists, chess players, intellectuals. ‘The exile’s new world, logically enough, is unnatural, and its unreality resembles fiction.’ He reminds us that George Lukacs considered the novel the great form of what Luckacs called ‘transcendental homelessness’. I am not an exile, but it is sometimes hard to shake the ‘unreality’ Said speaks of. I watch my children grow up as Americans in the same way that I might read about, or create, fictional characters. They are not fictional, of course, but their Americanism can sometimes seem unreal to me. ‘I have an American seventh-grader,’ I say to myself with amazement, as I watch my 12-year-old daughter perform at one of those dastardly school events always held in gymnasiums. Doubtless amazement attends all the stages of a child’s growth - all is unexpected. But there is also that strange distance, the light veil of alienation thrown over everything.

... to do with chess Index

Friday, February 21, 2014

BORP? XXVII: Doesn’t work properly

Now I’m sure Mr Elo was a very nice man, but me and he are going to fall out. Well, not so much me and him as me and the rating system he left behind. More accurately still, me and how that system is working. Because it ain’t.

At all.

Not where I play.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nothing to see here

What, you may not have been wondering, does Ray do with his Spectator columns at the moment?

Since he seems to have been ordered to pack in both the plagiarism and the recycling, where does that leave a columnist whose whole career has depended on those two staples?

It leaves him with George Osborne.

There's always been a third pillar to Ray's career, which you can call networking, if you prefer it, as a term, to brown-nosing. I suppose they're not actually the same thing, though both are all about connections: the connections Ray has, and the connections he would like to have.

His Spectator column now appears to be devoted to both.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

According to Malcolm

Daily Telegraph Monday 17 February


(Starter for ten: if it's a big deal that Azmai once took a move back, does the same apply to Kasparov?)

[Thanks to Mr Bryant Sr and another reader]
[Andrew Paulson index]

Monday, February 17, 2014

Jack’s Sacs (mostly Black attacks)

Rudd out for blood. Three ISEs in three weeks for our occasional blogger.

How would you do?

Black to play

Black to play

White to play

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Daggers drawn

It's all gone horribly wrong at the English Chess Federation. Again.

Just four months ago we were stepping on the fast train to the future with the election as President of Andrew Paulson, a train nuclear-powered by the energy that shone, apparently, out of Mr Paulson's entrepreneurial arse.

Now that very same arse is being kicked out of office - not by the electorate who put him there but by a small group of conspirators among the ECF Board.

Not that you would have known this in the five days since Saturday 8, when the attempted coup occurred, since none of the parties involved saw fit to inform ECF members about their action. Neither the reasons behind them nor even the fact of the actions having taken place was made public.

Indeed it wasn't until Professor David Robertson took the trouble to post about it, on the English Chess Forum, several days later, that rumours that had circulated about the coup were confirmed, on Thursday, by ECF Chief Executive Phil Ehr.

I mean at least in a real coup you get military music on the radio.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Just Barely Got Something to do with chess VIII

By the time I turn eighteen, I've been expelled from five schools for practicing the art of the pickpocket on my teachers and the art of card manipulation under my desk. I refuse to take the basic exam to prove I can read, write, and count, and thereby jeopardise my chances of landing a job picking up garbage or operating a cash register. Instead, I leave home and become a wandering troubadour, a street-juggler without a permit who is arrested constantly ... all over the world. 
No one wishes to hire me, practitioner of an absurd arrogance; for a while I make sure it stays that way. It becomes essential to write, play chess, learn Russian and bullfighting, discover architecture and engineering invent hiding places, erect tree houses, train at lock-picking - to indulge my gourmandise for knowledge while honing my perfectionism.

... to do with chess Index 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Another lot of Dirty Little Secrets

The note above appeared on Keenipedia - your one-stop-shop for all things relating to the Penguin - not long after the latest Private Eye piece on the Times Little Book.

So perhaps Harper Collins' apparently ongoing investigation might like to ask what happened to that warning, taking heed of which might have saved the company a deal of embarrassment.

While they're at it, they might like to look at another disreputable aspect of the Little Book, which is the prodigious quantity of material inside which has previously appeared in print, a fact of which neither potential customers nor (one assumes) the publishers appear to have been informed.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


[JMGB Note: Correspondence received from AP 13/2/2014]

The Draft Minutes of last Saturday's Emergency Board Meeting of the English Chess Federation are now available online:

The Agenda for some confused pedantic reason chose to call a vote of Confidence rather than to call for a vote of No Confidence against me. The Minutes of the meeting reveal that in fact it was a vote of Whinging (Brit. variant of to bitch, whine, complain): (a) he was doing too much, too fast, (b) he wanted to stand for the Board of the European Chess Union and we weren't sure, (c) he had a strong personality, and (d) two years ago he did something that appeared inappropriate, though in fact it wasn't. 
The ECF Chief Executive, one of the ECF Non-Executive Directors and a former Chief Executive (now Chairman of the Governance Committee) of the ECF all supported me; the ECF Membership Director abstained admitting that he had no grounds for complaint. The remaining Board members all had close connections with either Malcolm Pein or Nigel Short (thence to Garry Kasparov) and I have demonstrated that their complaints are spurious (see Minutes). 
Members of the Board attempted a coup d'état last Saturday, but failed. The Board has not (could not have) removed me. Several may try to call an Emergency Council Meeting to remove me, but the grounds laid out in the Minutes will provoke ridicule of them rather than outrage at me. In an attempt to solve this impasse, I will propose a new harmonious Board (replacing several of its current members) to Council at its regularly scheduled meeting in April, as the current one has been rendered dysfunctional. This will allow us to proceed constructively in the renewal of the ECF and its communications and marketing development that we promised at our election. 
But, what actually happened and how did we arrive at this point in less than four months? It's election time in FIDE! Kasparov needed to distract attention from his agreement to pay $1.5m from his charity in the U.S. to a private company in Singapore, 100% owned by Ignatius Leong. Bad enough to have Leong on his ticket, people were saying, but to have bought him away from Ilyumzhinov at such a high cost to deliver a mere 11 (of 158) votes . . . And, Kasparov was unhappy that my presence lent credibility to Zurab Azmaiparashvili's ECU ticket and, supposedly, by association to Ilyumzhinov (even though I have openly declared that I do not support Ilyumzhinov and am considering standing for FIDE President myself). 
Once again (let me count the times) Nigel Short has acted in his own best interest and not in the best interest of English chess ... or any chess, for that matter: if Ignatius Leong is getting $1.5m to deliver S.E. Asia, one might ask how much Nigel is getting for the U.K. to topple me. He has teamed up with the otherwise splendid and admirable Malcolm Pein whose shop, charity and tournament benefit from association with Kasparov. Kasparov put direct and relentless pressure on both of them as his agents in the UK to get rid of me. They in turn browbeat their pocket members on the Board (several of whom are employees of Malcolm Pein) to lead this failed coup d'état. 
Andrew Paulson
ECF President

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

This is our story

A little after ten past eight on Monday morning this blog had its millionth page view since we started in November 2006. Well according to Blogger it did, anyway.

Totally absurd.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sixty Memorable Annotations

#26: Feller - Williams, Novi Sad 2009

22 Rxb1 !?

(!!) At many levels, this is undoubtedly a great sacrifice.  However, a more human line would be 22 Qe1 Bc2, 23 Bxc6 Qxc6, 24 Qxe5 [White is clearly better]

Viktor Moskaleno, The Diamond Dutch (New in Chess, 2014)

An innocent enough comment. Until, that is, you see that the guy playing White was Sebastien Feller and remember that he was one of the Frenchies who was up to no good three years ago.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

In which he played a murderous chess master

Maximilian Schell died last Saturday. Not having seen Judgment at Nuremburg, at least not all the way through, I suppose I knew him best for Cross of Iron. And until I read his obituary in the Guardian, I had never heard of
the bizarre Return from the which he played a murderous chess master.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Dirty Little Secrets in Private Eye - again

Guess what, Ray's in Private Eye again.

Eye 1359, page 13

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Fair and square

Chess Note 8519, last weekend:
Jason Childress (Belmont, CA, USA) asks whether a name exists for the box-like configuration (pawns on b7, c7, b6 and c6) which Nakamura had in his game against Anand in Zurich on 31 January 2014. No established term is known to us.
We know one, established or otherwise. Right back in 2007 this blog suggested the term "testudo", for that very pattern. Latin for tortoise, it refers to the shield formation sometimes employed by advancing Roman troops.

Naturally we expected it to be instantly adopted as standard usage in the chess world. Turns out that seven years later, nobody's heard of it. Tsk. Still, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Dirty Little Secrets III

Ray doesn't plagiarise everything from the same source. Not everything is Kasparov: not everything is My Great Predecessors. And not everything in The Times Little Book Of Chess Plagiarism (Harper Collins, 2013) is, either.

Take for instance the third position in the book. It's from the second game of the 1908 world championship match.

The notes weren't written by Kasparov. Nor, for that matter, were they written by the alleged author, Ray Keene.

They were written by Viktor Korchnoi, in Learn from The Grandmasters (Batsford, 1975) from which source Ray has plagiarised them.

Monday, February 03, 2014

A Theoretical ISE

Black to play
Emms - Williams, 4NCL 1999

How good are your exchange sacrifices?  A chance to find out today.

… Rxf3 is a standard sacrifice, yes, but here it's more than that. Not just a thematic sacrifice, but a theoretical one. Not just the sort of thing that you do in this kind of position, but exactly the recommended move in this precise position. Recommended by the GingerGM in The Killer French, that is.

Anyhoo, the point is Black's going to sacrifice the exchange. What I tried to do was take a look at the starting position as if I had reached it in the game. I set up a board and analysed without moving the pieces. I knew that taking on f3 was the theoretical move, but could I convince myself to do it?

Feel free to give it a go and compare your thoughts to mine.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Let's All Move To ...

English chess has been in residence on SNAFU Boulevard long enough, wouldn't you say?

With thanks to Antony Hall