Archive for the ‘Life beyond the chess board’ Category

I can’t say I ever was an admirer of Steiniz tbh. In fact with Morphy no longer on the scene, it wasn’t until Alekhine imperially rose to the throne, that chess became worth looking at in close detail.

I always thought his wandering king was just dubious conceptually, and likely to be his downfall eventually. So what am I doing playing the opening theory in fashion during his reign, and drawing inspiration from his antics? Having fun, that’s what, as the video shows. An amusing victory both antiquated in its approach but highly effective nonetheless.


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A swindle
A fluke

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I think I can hold it for the simple reason I can generate counter play.

If I stick the king on d6, I can push the e-pawn when the time is right. Whether I am right or not, I shall find out in due course. I also have the option of pushing the f-pawn to slow my opponent up.

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The British have a long history of empire expansion across the globe, transforming primitive lands into nations with majestic urban design regaling colonial architecture where institutes of higher learning learning were built along avenues with parks and leisure facilities aplenty. British India was, for the longest time, considered the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The Raj was where Queen Victoria was described as ‘The Empress of India’ -isn’t that quaint? Well if not, it’s what the text books taught us at school.

But being the postmodern historian I am it goes without saying that I have to draw attention to the point that ‘history’ and ‘the past’ are categorically distinct, and usually miles apart. If I were salaried by the Oxbridge network and fearful of losing my post as lecturer, I’d also conveniently consign the fact that queen Victoria never went there once, that the locals were treated like slaves if not worse, and that over five million of them died of cholera whilst trying to build pavilions for English cricketers, and clubhouses for polo players. Such points I would consign to trivialities glossed over nicely enough: emphasizing how we British educated and civilized a land of savages and cannibals, something we should be proud of. Adding how we gave them our language, our pastimes, untold riches, our cultural inheritance too, for this is what British people want to hear thus less likely to result in my dismissal. We have a reputation to uphold and don’t need to be shown how we treated them like shit, stole everything they had and destroyed the lives of thousands. Proof of how the aristocracy flourished in The Raj can be found in the following game below. I have here two outstanding gentleman, both of impeccable manners and highly skilled at chess. Recordings of their conversation during play has been found, and so I have found one of their recorded games and added their commentary on top. Although I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, this took some doing and is exquisite. Converted to christianity, well-established in the textile industry, these two gents went on to become Viceroys of their respective states, they exude class and exemplify post-game analysis at its finest. If there’s something the British should be proud of, exemplifying how an intellectual pursuit is rendered discursive by those born into a region without industrialization is it. The video below is from a game played in the late 1850’s, the gentlemen conduct themselves accordingly, even though when a blunder is referred to, it is done in a gentlemanly manner.

Well worth a listen even if I do say so myself. Britishness abroad, exemplifying the finery of intellectual pursuit amongst the aristocracy of The Raj. I should add some audio -given it’s age- is missing, and some moves are missing also but the game, played in Calcutta, has been preserved. Being a postmodern historian, I like to do history, please watch the video below, it exemplifies the continental importation of Victorian England wonderfully. The language expressed is everything you’d expect from courteous post-game analysis on a veranda where only the gentry lazed in late afternoon sun -see! Even we postmodernists can be captivated by the quaintness of the past!

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Should we both warp and strictly adhere to Collingwood’s concept of what history is, we could argue that Bedfordshire was the stopover point of a Grandmaster smuggling ring during the cold war. With strict adherence to Collingwood, the claim is unchallengeable and irrefutable if and only if intentionality lies at the very heart of discourse thus of history too.

Ok so I have no evidence of the above claim concerning a smuggling ring in operation and neither has anyone else but that’s not the point. It’s unfactual but history, for Collingwood, is about establishing why people wanted the things they did, in particular what they had in mind. Since the governments played with their cards close to their chests always to resort to ‘the facts’ as Ranke would is rather pointless as you can never unearth them all anyway. A pertinent point is if we warp into the equation a dose of drunken deductive reasoning we could argue pre-conceived notions of my country’s strength in yesteryear doubled up as pretext for positional play left without discourse until now. Again its factuality or lack thereof remains inconsequential but also partially explaining why no Soviet or American Grandmaster showed their face in the Bedfordshire league despite its ‘locality’. Whether what found counts as identity-conferring is, perhaps, rather fanciful if not overtly playful academia. (Note to self@ Mark, if you recall you wrote an essay about Collingwood’s devotee Dray during your MA, and there was nothing fanciful or playful about that if you remember those long April days.)

Is it 2.30am already? Hmmm, abandon academic musing and conjecture for a game of blitz on-line then bed methinks… .

R.G.Collingwood. An academic whose works you really do need to read in order to understand him.


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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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To me: my sincere apologies for allowing windows platforms to proclaim uninspiring updates and persuade me to click on them.

My own update is of a similar nature: I am reading hard and writing hard, uncoupled from seeing things in stages, as was alluded to in the video posted about a month ago. I love the post I am writing so much, it’s with me all the time and its reached the point where I can sublimate complex philosophical issues into the narrative using the vernacular and also pull the narrative sideways with more formal language, giving it a well-rounded feel, showing signs of just how much effort has gone into it. It has reached the stage where I can safely say I can have it published for the writing is strong, much more above anything you find on this site. You shan’t find it on this site but I shall insert excerpts, tasters if you like.

Once again, as is stated in the video, its not done for profit. I never care if I am read. I won’t intend on making money from a publication because that is demeaning to me. But for those who like to read, it will have plenty of content for something with a tight narrative based upon a topic of little inspiration to most and no inspiration to better chess players than I for they see things only in terms of knowledge and ability and shy away from the art of communication -unlike myself.

What an update this is. Okay a lockdown question: when’s it going to be published then Mark? Answer will be in a certain teenspeak (as the text proves, I am still the street-kid I grew up as on a rough council road) ‘ao, Im supposed ta know I ain’t doin it, ere let’s ave a knock about init’


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If it were the case that the world’s superpowers are using the media to blow out of proportion the latest pandemic and in doing so are metaphorically speaking, playing a game of chess whilst using the general public as mere pawns, which pawn would you be?

More seriously is this really one big game going to fizzle out into a draw, whilst pawns are left unmoved? What pawn are you? I choose the f-pawn for myself for there is an f-word that I say a lot more whilst under curfew.

When-o-when will everything return to normal? If a game is being played it will cause many in the west to question the life they lead and how ensnared they are. Anyone going to castle long and leave the west because of it I wonder?

We may end up with a larger online community of chess players if anything else. A small consolation I know…

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