Archive for July, 2020

Conventional opinion about chess has it down as an intellectual pursuit where mental faculties are put to the test. And though of course there is some truth in both above, we need to say more, much more. Shortly after my main accident nearly four years ago, my ability went through the roof because willpower made me almost unbeatable within the circle of playing partners I put my wits against. Mood and will are not classified as cognitive features of the brain but they both play essential roles in chess. If you are really up for it and I the right frame of mind, your play increases no end. I think pride will win me my county match tomorrow. I will be fired up and on form for sure. I shall commentate the game periodically and post the vids once it’s all done. As far from home as I am, and at times hopelessly lost because I don’t know which way to turn, the pride and honour of county chess never left me and it never will either. Hoping for a return to the fold to be proud of.

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Take a bow why don’t I for it has always been an honour to represent my county, which I began doing in 1989. But with social distancing reigning supreme and me being thousands of miles away, you would think the chances of me representing my county this weekend would be rather slim. Think again.

Despite the depersonalizing effects that communication on-line has; the two main points being the vast majority of our communication is non-verbal, and you communicate to a server and not the person you aren’t incommunicado with but are unable to communicate directly to, despite all this it pervades all hours we are awake and some where we are half-asleep…and I suppose it’s better than nothing.

Courtesy of chess.com, county matches in East Anglia have been taking place on-line after Covid infected our little universe then strangled governments and politicians the world over, throwing their hands up in the air they were, with fear in their faces and few if any cogs moving between ears, then thy pandemic mangled the public who were left to dangle, or in some countries hung out to dry. But as mentioned already, its better than bugger all else being on the agenda. On a personal level its almost ideal, the only awkward point being me 6 hours ahead, meaning that the match this weekend against Norfolk will kick off at past midnight where I am. I don’t recall playing classical chess at that time before. Such matches usually start about 10 hours before midnight and not thirty minutes after it. Not sure I’ll go the distance, so I’ll have to go and buy some drugs, legal or otherwise, to help keep me awake…legal being the better option there…I mean the cheaper one…anyway… .

So erm moving swiftly on, best memory of playing Norfolk; the time when we used to play in the King Edward hall, that being 92-93. And this open-top bus with DJ and dancing girls had music full blast live on the radio, then took the piss out of us. ‘Ha ha, look there’s some people playing chess there’, and up the volume went. I thought it was funny but I think I was the only one playing who did.

Worst memory: that fucking time I went off to the bakery during the opening phase of the game but seriously misjudged the distance and time it would take. Result: I lost the game on time as by the time I returned I was already in time trouble and we were still in the opening! I thought it was only a few minutes walk when in fact it was more like 30-35, and then it took time to be served. I told my opponent after I lost ‘I knew I shouldn’t have gone to get that pasty’ and I was right of course. I remember how he nodded in agreement as if to tell me I most certainly shouldn’t have.

I do feel honoured to represent my county once more but the honour I feel is tinged with sadness. (note to self: I might have to do drugs to cope with it all as I will be tired and feel sadness) For in spending 19 months to write a piece 38500 words long it became apparent that as I child I learnt more from peer correction than anything else. Now how’s that meant to be achieved on-line? Although technology often represents progress, putting matches on-line isn’t the right way forward. It’s nothing more than the only option left if we want to play chess. So beguile my opponent before play begins I won’t be able to but nod off and not be shaken into…hmmm drugs binge it looks like otherwise how else can I play competitive chess up until 4 am and perhaps beyond (Note to self: Mark steer the writing away from this subject, don’t give the game away, I don’t want anyone finding out that I’m high and playing strange moves because of it. Just tell them any old rubbish). Really excited about playing chess up until 4-5am because I am bound to be at my best. Prediction: I will outplay my opponent but blunder and lose the game as I am out of practice and rubbish also.

Olcmarcus shall be making his debut for the county on-line whilst sat in a hotel room by the seaside, a trip taken on behalf of my undying wish to see my daughter happy and have some fun. He will be listening to all sorts of music as well; metal, rock, 80’s pop, trance, y4k being the main ones. Concentration levels will be low, I will be prone to error yet able to stare out of the window beyond the gloom, into the sea. I will stare down into its deep dark water, procrastinating over the catalogue of errors beyond the board itself, floating freely throughout the past. The multitude of them alone, will cost me the game, probably shortly after I ask myself the question ‘How the fuck did I end up in the position I am in?’ And probably directly after I leave the question alone conceding its insoluble in terms of play on and off the board.

Wish me luck, remind me that it’s not, primarily, the task of a historian to make predictions, tell me that truth is contingent and not easily seen always, convince me my own pride will power me through with ease…

Olcmarcus

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Okay hands up, I admit it.

I’ve only gone and allowed by life on-line to overtake my life off-line haven’t I? Of course it’s all your fault. Nothing to do with me, honest guv.

Not only was there an on-line tournament in my name, I’ve rejoined my old clubs and now look likely to join the county scene once more also. In addition, I am playing 10-20 games on-line a day and making light work of practically everyone, unless of course, I go and make some whopping blunder, which happens much more often than it should.

With white I play 1. f4

With black 1. … a6 if 1. e4 is played

and if 1. d4 then 1. ….b5

All rather obscure but then so am I. It therefore follows that facets of my game replicate the predilections of he who chose them. It’s not that I am unorthodox, if anything my style is quite classical. And although you may frown upon such opening moves, your own experience should tell you if you don’t quite know what to do in the opening, you shouldn’t expect to enter the middle game with a better position.

Moving swiftly on, I thought long and hard whether to publish my most recent writing project. I’ve had published authors confirm the quality is sufficient but I won’t be publishing it anytime soon, if ever. But this leads on to my next point, the next writing project. I have a synopsis of it already and even wrote the opening paragraph. It’s most likely to be between 40-60,000 words and will be published. I’ve hit upon the characterization, plot (pretty much), and content. I won’t start writing until I have everthing firmly in place. I have to factor in I have a style of writing which leans towards gothic, and the plot is complex in the way gothic novels often are/were. I shall provide plenty of updates as I go. All I can say at this moment is the main character is a chess addict but the depiction of the chess world and how chess is played will be far from complimentary if not downright disparaging.

On-line updates. I find the English Chess Forum to be rather predictable and always on the verge of an outbreak of squabbles, so when I post things its either to wind people up or cause members to think about things very differently. Some of my content has been removed, some find it too obscure to respond to, some find it hilarious. Admittedly I am a little too mischievous at times, and here’s two examples of my naughtiness. I usually write in the Chess History section because, at heart, I am an academic. There is a thread called Chess History Trivia, in which various questions about chess are asked. But I’ve turned the tables round and started asking questions about history which encompass chess. What are the chances of me getting an answer to either of the following two -absolutely zero I would say, nonetheless I find it amusing. You may care to try and answer if you so wish:

A playful if transgressional question here. Name a world champion who has had a book written about his past exploits BUT in that historical publication we saw no discourse whatsoever and there were no presuppositionless interpretations of the past – or if you like ‘axiomatic fictions’- as G.Steiner once put it- given that interpretations of the past are constructed in the present, this linked up to a lack of evidence in the writing that the author did not see ‘history’ and ‘the past’ as being categorically distinct, – a travesty of justice yes I know- and what’s worse he embodied the laziness that most titled players -especially GMs- enact effortlessly towards the rigours of research and academia, shying away because it’s too much like good hard slog, and instead confined himself to dogmatic statements which, at times, gave you the impression he was both a gobshite and a right little shithead, unable to grasp Croce’s dictum that ‘all history is contemporary history’, which of course, points towards the ontological paradox of the past tense. Care to answer or is the murky underworld of post-modernism rendering the question it itself rhetorical or too drab to ponder over?

Hint, try finding a world champion that only hardened postmodern historians have ever written about or alternatively just f***ing forget it.

The next as yet unanswered question,

Can you name any chess player who has been written about and bizarrely described by the author as a language animal in which word and world are somehow one and the same, meaning that the language he used not only referred to the world but constructed it also. No effort was made to explain the things he wanted and what needs he had, just the raw data of his results. What the player written about had in mind throughout his career was never touched upon once. The writing itself being a light-hearted romp which exuded incompetance and was not at all antithetical to Collingwood’s account of what history is but instead the typical drivel that very poorly educated titled chess players churn out, always writing away with a face you want to punch not greet, having been duped into the belief that his title actually has some worth outside of the chess world. Because they live with their mum still, whenever they are allowed out, to keep themselves just above the poverty line, they wander off into the countryside, find the nearest farm and shovel s**t all day long.

Hint: err, should be loads init.

As you may have noticed, I am rather proud of my working class background and fully aware that most reading are middle, upper-middle or upper-class. Whether they find me coarse or not is an irrelevancy. As Butler once said, ‘everything is what it is and isn’t anything else’. I am me and happy to explore, research and create whilst remaining myself at all times. As Aristotle once said ‘if you don’t like my style then fuck you’…oh wait a minute that was Ice-T wasn’t it…er, well it was one of the two anyway, hard to tell them apart… .

Lastly, I will begin adding some of my games that I’ve commentated on. I was rather tired in the first so there’s less commentary here than what is most likely to follow. From watching the elite on line so much, air have learnt that sacrificing the exchange is nothing too much to worry about, providing you have some compensation. That I did, and a few small errors aside which led to much deterioration, I checkmated my opponent in swift fashion after he completely cocked it up. In the second I am very much myself. Naturally I make a mess of things but manage to solve everything at the death.

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I am at present giving The Catalan a good look. It’s right for me but perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew there. Nonetheless I read the following:

A good book for club players.

In written chess theory, every once in a while you get that jaw hits floor feeling. Or in my case both eyebrows raised fully, then remained fully raised for some time they did. A sentence began with a phrase that related to a concept rather above and beyond my own head. I have attached the page, see if you can guess what the four word phrase is, shouldn’t be too hard…think it took about an hour for the eyebrows to return to their resting places.

Some concepts just too above my level

Mark

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I feel as though I’ve been drugged and duped. Snatched from the off-line world and dragged into a murky on-line underworld courtesy of a dark descent full of twists and turns, the last of which knocked me unconscious.

Only if you fancy a game drop me a note. I had to join both https://lichess.org/ and https://www.chess.com/ and go under the username Olcmarcus in both…as you may know Olc is Gaelic for evil. But evil at chess I am not, just out of practice and tactically poorer than ever because concentration levels are at an all-time low.

If you want to play, you’ll probably win. I’m brilliant at blundering, I really am. Despite impressions gained by this site I genuinely am only a strong club player at best, and usually your average club player. Yes I’ve beaten an FM, yes I’ve drawn with an IM, yes I put up a solid defence for long enough against a GM rated 2620 once, but that aside -nothing.

Because quite a lot of people seem to like my site, I thought I’d reach out and we’d play. The choice is, of course, yours.

Marcus McCreadus

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If you were to gaze into your run of the mill abyss, you’ll become snagged on it gazing back into you I promise.

Before it became too perplexing, the purpose of your average politician was to improve the quality of life for Joe Public. Now of course they try to preserve it instead, or alternatively, elongate its longevity; both being by far an easier option than enrichment overall: they once protected us against the odd terrorist popping up every once in a while here and there but now its germs they save our souls from…well, personally I prefer to come under fire from terrorists than germs but that’s just me being me!

Germs?
Terrorists?

Although there is little if anything to fear, along comes drastic social remeasurement coinciding with the daylight robbery of numerous civil liberties, all aimed towards the war on softer targets germs; namely, Covid-19 (19, pronounced na-na-na-na-na-na-na nineteen: representing the average age of a US soldier in the Vietnam war). With your freedom and income taken away too, the fabricated, emplotted pandemic enemy looks set for certain defeat not to mention Joe Public of course. The only incoming hammer blow being that you can’t play chess in public anymore, forcing chess players to play on-line more than usual.

To make matters worse, even I got swindled into it all after becoming bored by just having my computer to play against. I wanted different opponents. Then disaster struck. And strike hard and firm it most certainly did. I rejoined my hometown team on-line and played old friends, playing partners from a bygone era over ye olde fibre optics. Then things got messy. Real messy. The ever curious on-line extraordinaire and former Nigel Mansell-esque speedster on county match days H.Mirza only went and crafted an on-line tournament in my name, honouring my undying love of my hometown chess scene.

Named after myself, naturally it had disaster written all over it. The concept was complimentary: myself bashful beyond words. Then there was this time zone thing which came into play, what with me being six hours ahead and cream-crackered at the best of times. On medication that can literally blow your head off, enter I did and play on did I. I daren’t tell you that I have to take Solian for life otherwise you’ll instantly guess what the result of a diagnosis in February was, and how the virtuoso hyper mania had to suddenly take to the back seat, along with everything else bicycle accident related.

Yeah I do drugs, I have to. So what of it?
It ain’t nofin’ like mine init. Mine bigger and busted up by bike bezerkery. It got koshed twice but ain’t got no kibosh coming anytime soon. Just remember you never saw nofin’, you never read nofin’.

Rusty and rightly suspicious of on-line chess assuming it always pales into comparison to the real mccoy, and cream-crackered too, on I did play prone to error and mostly pathetic I was. My play woeful by my own low standards so say I. Too tired to concentrate before it began, buggered I was. Twas midnight which drew oh-so-near when it was all over and sighs of relief bellowed across my empty room. A friend who was only rated 203 when last playing in Bedfordshire -and yes that’s 203 not 103-joined, provoking a mild euphoria underpinned by a more prolonged pride. Just like the old days it simultaneously was and wasn’t. I did win one game, missed wins in another along with countless perpetual checks, then fell to pieces in yet another game whilst floored by fatigue, the ability to calculate intermittent at best.

I felt both honoured and embarrassed but above all else cream-crackered. I slumped into a heavy sleep where a strange dream appeared; in which I spent my entire life studying chess, and then upon realizing it was a waste of a life, I turned towards fruit machines, then blew myself up with dynamite when that failed to assuage guilt and support my pension for if anything it only drained what little life was left in me. A colourless and kaleidoscopic life of chess flitted through my sleeping brain before the bright bang of dynamite which naturally followed my misspent adulthood.

The future?

On I limp, knowing myself to be shit at chess because I was always shit and am destined to remain shit, and there that be thy moral of this fine tale. Only written because I feel lonely and have no one to talk to.

To conclude, I will assume you, unlike I, weren’t blown away by the dynamite gag, but like I, wonder what you are doing reading this rubbish. I end as I begun: ashamed of my low-hung head, bad behaviour on-line and mysterious manoeuvres which transgressed the off-line life I seldom lead auspiciously but always inconspicuously… .

Drat and double drat!

A bored Mark signs off… .

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I’ve agreed to play in my first on-line tournament, now all the rage as pandemic sweeps the globe.

I became an on-line member of my home town chess club and that’s the organizational body.

It’s an unprincipled decision because the digital revolution we are currently undergoing is pernicious. You can’t compare on-line tournaments to those in the real world, to do so is ludicrous and unworthy of consideration.

But with a blind love of chess pushing the agenda, I shall participate, and try to be at my best.

Wish me luck. Being rusty I will most likely need it… .

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I’ve been conned, duped into applying for a position where I write about chess, and in return, receive financial rewards with regularity. I don’t quite know how it’s happened. Could it be from a bump on the head I wonder?

I write because I love to write and not because I want to be read. I fell for it hook, line and sinker before being sold up the river. ‘We want people to read what you write and we’ll pay you money’, they said surreptitiously. I said yes. Now I think of Socrates and the importance of self-knowledge. I will transgress their boundaries and do it deliberately so: that’s me to a tee!

The river they sold me up.

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