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!

A still tongue makes a happy life. A still cock makes an unhappy wife. Is it not plain to see: questions are a burden to others, answers a prison for oneself…cult following or no cult following sheepishly, as well as, an intrepid blogger who endured sub-zero temperatures on a photoshoot or no intrepid blogger who endured sub-zero temperatures on a photoshoot once upon a time and whilst holding his camera never asked himself whether he could grate cheese off his scrotum because it was that f**king cold because he believed in the above.

My Elo rating: I’m a number, not a free man…

The above applies, to lifelong fans of The Prisoner to questions posed by yourself to yourself also apply, as I found out today.

Eleven years ago, I posted the following on fb on this day.

Okay ladies and mentalmen, should black play e3 or Qb2 here? Hint, decide what you think white’s primary defensive resource is first.

A still tongue makes a happy life of that there is no doubt. Why imprison myself with answers when I can open up Stockfish and put that bastard-bitch to work instead? All it took was ten seconds or thereabouts: me less than one to be sure Qb2 was the stronger by far. But do you know why I saw the solution much faster than Stockfish? Dare you guess why? It’s because unlike Stockfish or any chess program or platform: I am bone all over. Bone is, of course, stronger than plastic and silicon, much stronger in fact. In being bone all over, I’m just too strong… .

“GIVE IT TO ME AGAIN. GIVE ME THE REST” I hear you echo f**king obscure characters who catch eye, ear, and brain of f**king obscure viewers. Digging deeper, from a perspective with a physiological lean “them bones gotta walk around”, furthermore anthropologically, “and a hipbone, and a thighbone, shinbone, kneebone, backbone, all yours dad” ...and if by now you are thinking ‘what’s all this oscure shit Mark’s coming out with this time? What’s he on now?’ Believe me, it’s all early 90’s identity conferring content…in my youth I even modeled myself on Alexis Kanner’s tv roles, hoping for his panache and suave befuddlement. Let us conclude by remembering what has already been stated.

I sign off proud and unpuzzled. Perhaps it’s clearer, I really do write for myself only.

A still tongue makes a happy life. Offload analysis onto whatever app you’ve lumbered yourself with. No need to open your gob then.

Mark

In the following link, you can find Bedfordshire’s champions since 1980.

http://www.adrianelwin.co.uk/Bedfordshire/Bedfordshire.html

Of all that I played, I’ve beaten 2, drawn with 2 but lost to 3 although one of them conceded I had completely outplayed him, which I did. I don’t recall how I lost the game, it may have been on time. Of the two I beat, one was titled and rated around 217 and the other was over 200 also but only just, 203 I think but may well be wrong there. He played an obscure line against my French defence with an early b3, possibly 2. b3, which as anyone will tell you, doesn’t do very much at all. It was an easy win. I mated him within 30 moves. Perhaps its so had I not given up chess and put a solid 10 year shift in I may have became on me of them but would it be worth it? The moments of love and joy chess brings are ephemeral, is there really a pay off for being a bit better or a lot better for all those minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years invested -I don’t think so.

I’m prepared to admit, in the many qualifying rounds played in a Winter’s eve, I got more than one sound beating from the very strongest in the county, and infrequently, walked away from the board with a hard fought victory and a wry smile on my face.

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.

A busy August

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us even in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavour. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Through submission to and admission of how the entrails of normality have been garroted in the months gone by, owing to a pandemic that Chomsky describes as ‘a colossal market failure’, a slow subterranean maneuver has been made.

I’ve followed suit and forgot about chess over the board because it just isn’t happening. Well it is. I mean should I saunter off to Bangkok Chess Club, I can play in a blitz tournament each Friday evening. But at the end of a working week, a tournament with a time control of 3m 2s, just isn’t worth it. I don’t consider that time control as conducive to ability and love of the game but rather a game of he who moves fastest wins. That’s just silly to me, invariably I lose on time and if I win it is at best a pyrrhic victory…it’s not worth the effort frankly. Blitz, to me, is a rather childish way to play chess, I don’t see what there is to be gained from it…

So I transgressed from OTB to on-line via whichever server is up and running. In having abandoned chess theory altogether and relying solely in what I learn from my own games, I would appear to be on the up. And then all of a sudden I realized I love playing on-line, despite it being a depersonalized alternative to what I am used to. I’ve begun to take it seriously and play some very good chess at times.

I went and joined my home town club, which is now established on-line. I went and played for my county and rejoined The English Chess Federation. They’ve invited me to represent ‘the south’ of England in a match against ‘the north. I admit I played for my town, my county and my region as a promising junior but never the part of the country I am from. That’s a first for sure.

I’m told it’s a resumption of a match that was last played 126 years ago (details to follow). In those days you only played OTB, by cable or by correspondence, an example of the latter can be seen below.

Things have moved on from 1908 but on this sceptred isle an undying love of chess beats with the hearts and minds of men who play on, and on. One of whom is myself. And the consequence of which is? I had better continue getting my act together because pride and honour are at stake. Details of the invite can be found here: https://www.chess.com/news/view/north-v-south-match-5-september-2020

To give a sense of where I am at, here’s two games. I make mistakes in both but are not beaten in either.

A draw by repetition through fear of a back rank weakness in an endgame with a position I thought was unclear.



After being outplayed in the middlegame, shoring up my defences allowed me to exploit my opponent’s uncertainty and win quickly.

Olcmarcus

Just watch.

Olcmarcus

Under starters orders as white it’s 1. e4 hoping for 2. Nc3 and a pawn structure as such:

With black:

Against 1. e4 it’s 1. …a6

Against 1. d4 it’s 1. …b5 (intending to transpose to the above)

Against 1. c4 it’s 1. …e6 (possibly going for a Queen’s gambit declined Tartakower or aiming for a Dutch defence with a similar pawn structure as above.)

It’s more than enough to be getting on with. Theory is of no interest. I learn from myself only.

@a6crush

For a 1. …a6 start, that’s some swift victory.

The St. George’s Defence.

I played this on a speedy skytrain but how fast does it get with The St. George’s Defence? Watch and find out but understand I am not posting out of pride, I am posting out of amusement.

A decent opponent outplayed me and then I blundered but I did not lose for it was I who checkmated him, commentary is provided. I confess I am quite proud of this, especially since I saw his mating threat late on and won the game by averting it.

Olcmarcus