Archive for the ‘Chess’ Category

Carlsen plays a number two and wins in the endgame. I have to admit, the losing move is an absolute shocker for someone with such a high rating -even I could see straight away it was wrong, as well as what he should have played. To what extent this victory exemplifies the fear factor in play when endgames arise in his games I don’t know but he clearly was aware that he was much stronger in the endgame than his opponent (and just about everyone else!). Maintaining the distant opposition in king and pawn endgames is a basic principle we all know but it just goes to show we are all fallible when under pressure. In the thumbnail below white has just played Kd3, allowing black to win with Kd6. Kd2 was the move that would have drawn the game.

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Nine years ago today, I posted the image below on my fb account.

‘The magic of Karpov who is white to play against Uhlmann. He plays g4 here, the rationale being to cut of retreat squares for the black bishop, and help give the better ending.’


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I’m in a state of sworn silent swinehood, being well and truly disgruntled! Why? Because I am learning the hard way that starting competitive chess at 0030, six hours ahead of your opponent is massively disadvantageous. Maintaining your highest level of concentration at 2-3 am -the wee hours as they are known colloquially -is a very big ask even for those saddle sore with hyper mania. Don’t get me wrong, the normative aspects of daily life are…are fatigue-free but to raise the bar at that time -no way! And for the second time consecutively, I could neither raise my game nor play as directly as I normally do. Common sense dictates to play at your peak, play during the afternoon or early evening. Don’t leave it until past midnight, that’s time for hours of sleep not hours of competitive chess. From last night I learnt that tiredness over-simplifies your decision making process. If your thought process becomes less robust, errors creep in because you become less diligent and aren’t checking as much as you should be. In sum, that’s the principle reason why I lost: whilst sleepy I became sloppy. Ah well, I tried at the end of a long day but it just wasn’t quite enough. At least after I realized I had made a mistake, I went on the front foot. Credit to my opponent for making my kingside attack look rather flimsy. I lost but learnt from it -a pyrrhic victory of sorts you could say… .


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With seven hours to go only, I am quite excited about representing the South of England as we compete against the North of England, a match which last occured 126 years ago. Given the current climate, the match has to be held on-line, and once again I am six hours ahead, meaning I will most likely be playing at gone 3am again.

Details of the match can be found in both below:

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With 107 boards that means 214 English men will compete against each other. The North of England is the slightly stronger team, with an overall average rating of 139, given that the South of England has an overall average rating of 132. There’s a noticeable difference between the two teams on the top ten boards but it evens out the further down you go. My opponent’s rating being exactly the same as mine on board 51. Seven points is not a big difference but perhaps the strength at the top is what will bring home victory for the North of England.

There are four players from Bedfordshire competing, I have the black pieces and am sincerely hoping for 1. e4, in which case my opponent is in for quite a shock! It’s a very passive opening I play but being played by a southern softy it’s not. I know it very well and know what to target, how to transpose and when, if necessary. There is, in fact, very little left to learn regarding that opening, so in all probability I will come out of the opening with a slightly better position or one relatively equal but leading to a type of middlegame I have much more experience with than him.

Whether he remains a happy mathematician should he see this played against him remains to be seen!


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Wallowing in obscurity…

Like all young players growing up with chess, there were many past masters I liked and played through the games of. At 16, Morphy was most certainly the first, the other two I was an awe of most of all being Capablanca and Fischer. But the first player whose edifice of work I laboured over was Nimzowitsch. In retrospect this has become something I lament because in trying to mimic or copy him, which I did to considerable degree, I found myself embroiled in positions too complex for my level, and often too obscure to benefit from also. I liked the obscurity of some of his moves and often found it mystifyingly enthralling. Sadly I confess, in the following position, Nimzowitsch played precisely the sort of move only he played, which in my youth I found most impressive -the writing was on the wall methinks.

Mannheimer – Nimzowitch, Frakfurt 1930

Here Nimzowitsch plays Qh8!! If you can explain why, I am all ears.

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I did play for my county. It was on-line. As anticipated I was very tired and played poorly. I started with some verve but finally lost on time around 3am, by which time being two pawns down the position was close to lost, if not already lost with correct technique.

There is such a marked difference between playing on-line and playing over the board. Irrespective of whether you are playing for a team in a match or not, play on-line is the play of a lone-gun. It is not the play of a team member. You don’t feel the pecking order in play, the hierarchical nature of conversation, and neither team order nor importance of match result. It’s just you alone in your room and the screen you stare at. I couldn’t really differentiate between a casual game on-line and a formal county match because they are both depersonalized experiences which involve no human interaction.

The human element of chess is missing with play on-line and although it felt like an honour to represent my county once more, that per se was a pyrrhic victory of sorts, my pride somehow unquantifiable.

If on-line chess is a drug, I admit I’m an addict for it never is ‘just one fix’, as that ministerial number goes. But as another, perhaps more pertinent, goes ‘the drugs don’t work, they just make you worse but I know I’ll see your face again’, and so I expect yet more poor on-line adventures or should I say more on-line misadventures from a woeful McCready… .


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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


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The horror of progress

In our modern high-tech society it has become possible to lose games in a manner previously unheard of. It involves a procedure developed technologically, one which is antithetical to the concept of chess itself and the manner in which it is played. If used even a world class player runs the risk of losing to a complete beginner. Are you wondering what on earth I am talking about? I am talking about ‘pre-move’. In bullet chess, the most absurd form of competitive chess ever created, you have the option of ‘pre-move’. In other words, making your next move before your opponent has made his based on what you assume he will do next. But if you get that wrong it can cost you the game instantly, as can be seen in the video below. I always thought that chess was a game where players thought deeply over their opponent’s last move and then via a complex decision making process made a move once a decision of their own making had been reached. More or less that’s how we play. To decide on your next move before you know what your opponent is going to play is not progress. It’s a dumbed-down version of chess that masters from the past would find demeaning and want no part of. GM Danny King calls the video below comedic. I’d call it tragic for this is an example of regression not progression. To call it chess is undignifying. To call it pointless, mindless entertainment for a mass media driven society is more to the point. The competitors will think of the money involved, the public will wonder what is wrong with the modern game and I will stop writing.

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Most likely not, unless of course, the current world champion has had a litre of Vodka for breakfast and our Bedfordshire man is stone cold sober. Okay, so has a man from Bedfordshire ever outplayed our current world champion? The answer to that depends upon how you define what ‘a man from Bedfordshire‘ is. If you mean someone born in Bedfordshire, then no. If you mean someone who grew up in Bedfordshire, then yes. But -and yes it is okay to start a sentence with a conjunction, don’t go buying into Prescriptivism now -was the current world champion entitled so at the time? Sadly not. Was it a blitz game? Yes it was.

I shall now show you six diagrams and add some comments.

The Bedfordshire man plays with the white pieces, here. 3. …h6 has just been played.
Magnus Carlsen, a future world champion in 2006, has just played 10. …Nc6 and seems in sound shape as the middle game begins.
The Bedfordshire man has only just played 18. f3. As you know, every chess player’s favourite move is always moving your f-pawn one square only. Is the position equal, well I’m not an expert but notice that central pawn majority white has?
Ooh la la, sacre bleu, what is going on ‘ere? Zee future world champion has just played 26. ….Qxd6. Did he not see 27. c5 and the double-attack it unleashes?
This man from Bedfordshire is the exchange up and attacks the queen with 33. d6, surely the game is already won?
What trouble the future world champion is in here.? Or is he in any real trouble I should say? What is the result likely to be after black plays 37. … Qg5?

Some of us are proud of our county. I always have been. I am still. I will be always. Who was it that played our current world champion? The answer lies below.

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Is there anything better to do than grabbing journalists and giving them a kick up the backside? Probably not…well probably there is. Seek out Primary Source material perhaps?

According to folklore and legend my hometown had it’s own league in the 70’s. Thankfully, we postmodernists do realize that history is per se discourse thus develops. Okay. Let’s look at things before the…before thee…thee so called Fischer-fiasco as our comrades once put it.

So a wintery 1952 it is. Here’s a snapshot of the Beds league. Even then Luton already has almost an entire league of its own, some 19 years before the famous Fischer – Spassky match and the ensuing ‘chess-explosion’ England underwent thereafter.

As some of you may know Dennis.V. Mardle went on to be given a C.B.E for his work on Polio, from which he suffered. He was an exceptionally strong player and many of his games can be found of this site.

Together the pgns above shows us that chess clubs flourished across Luton not long after the war had ended… .

More on Mardle can be found here:


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