Wednesday, 3 April 2019

About Schmidt

Over the last few days, I've found quite a lot of adverts popping up for this book on my smartphone.

Matter of fact, it popped up three times during the course of one single article.

Naturally I was curious to look up the book, since £6.99 is pretty cheap for a chess book these days. Or any day in the last, what, couple of decades? (By contrast, this one, due out later this year, will set you back £19.99, and that's not bad at all by today's prices.)

So what are we getting for our money?

You may well ask, since the blurb is unsure even what opening we are discussing

which may undermine our confidence that the games have been "carefully selected".

Friday, 29 March 2019


It was my wife's birthday on Sunday, and as we were due to be working in Madrid in the coming week, we went up a day early, had lunch in a couple of bars near the Rastro and then had a walk round the Manzanares, beginning at the abandoned Vicente Calderón

dead football stadium

and spotting, to our surprise, some turtles on the way.

live turtles

As we were going to the pictures in the evening, we left the riverbank to go over up the hill that takes you to the area, just off the Plaza de España, where there are several cinemas, and just before we reached the railway bridge

we had a second surprise. By the side of the road, a small group of people had set up a homemade chessboard, with a set of plastic pieces.

So I did what you would have done, which was to wander up to the players in the hope - rewarded, as it happens - of being invited to play a game.

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Is this really a good way to promote women's chess? II

Well said.

It would be good to see less of this kind of tat in the future.

And, for that matter, this.

Monday, 18 March 2019


There's a Twitter account I follow and a Tweet last week happened to catch my eye.

If you have the sound on you might have recognised Baba O'Riley and you might even recognise the meme, though I confess I find this example a particuarly obscure rendering. But never mind that -

- what's this?

It's this.

I've never come across that cover before.

I've never come across the position before either, though I've been close once or twice.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Three out of four

I logged on relatively early on Thursday for the last round of the World Team Championship, I guess an hour or so in, which is relatively early when it's kicked off at seven in the morning, Anyway I checked Chessbomb for early results and I could see that there were three of them, all in the Azerbaijan v Egypt match.

Naiditsch-Amin on board one had already finished early in a popular repetition

as indeed had Adly-Mamedov on board two, in another popular repetition

one so popular, in fact, that you could also see it on board four, in Hesham-Safarli.

Guseinov and Fawzy still seemed to be playing on board three, so I took a look, expecting to see another draw unfold before my very eyes.

Not a bit of it.

In fact I'm not totally sure whether it was before or after Black's twelfth when I looked in, but it's not of any importance, since the game was pretty much up already

and had been for a couple of moves.

So what's going on there then?

Friday, 15 March 2019

Chess in Art Revisits 3. Dorothea Tanning

This Revisit is to Tate Modern for the splendid retrospective of Dorothea Tanning (1910 - 2012) who passed away just a few years ago, but not before we had the chance - back in 2010 - to wish her 'Happy Birthday' on the occasion of her 100th. The exhibition runs until June 9th, so plenty of time to catch it. She has been insufficiently appreciated, perhaps, on this side of the pond, yet offers many treats - if you like her sort of thing.

Wednesday, 13 March 2019


Oh really?

One wonders which instances of players "sometimes" yelling Zugzwang Robert Macfarlane has in mind.

[Vaguely relevant]

Friday, 8 March 2019

Chess in Art Revisits 2. Tom Hackney

For the second of these Chess in Art Revisits, we catch up with Tom Hackney, about whom we have blogged frequently during his Chess in Art career (since 2012 in fact; see full list appended below). Back in January Tom was exhibiting at the London Art Fair, where we had a chance for a chat.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Follow by

I was saying just yesterday that carelessness is a Ray characteristic. There's a million examples to choose from, but here's a nice one from his Spectator column from the last issue but one, in which Ray annotates the game Artemiev v Nakamura from Gibraltar.

Better put, in which the game Artemiev v Nakamura from Gibraltar is annotated.

Not that Ray is pretending it's all his own work.

Based on? They surely are.

Gibraltar bulletin

After a couple of early notes of Ray's own making, most of what follows from move 21 onwards is straightforward copying out.

Ray in the Spectator

Well, that's what Ray does, it's what he's been doing for forty years. I particularly like this example, though, because, the Gibraltar bulletin being prepared for publication quite quickly, it contains, understandably enough, a couple of obvious errors. (Happens here all the time.)

But - and I do love this - although Ray is happy to change a word here and there just to make it look like he's doing some original work, he's left the errors entirely intact.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Examining the examiner

Coming back to Ray's fake charity, the Brain Trust, and its accounts, I mentioned before that up to year ending 31 March 2016 the accounts were examined by the accountancy firm Blick Rothenburg, but not subsequently.

This might help explain a couple of things, one of which1 might be the deterioration in quality of the 2017 accounts in particular, perhaps best illustrated by the fantastic upside-down, back-to-front page that appears there, giving the impression that whoever submitted them didn't really know what they were doing.

Other examples, of various kinds, include the section numbers skipping from 14 to 16, missing out 15

the retention of an x where there ought to be a specific figure

and a failure of arithmetic (it's £90,333).

Or from the latest accounts, year ending 31 March 2018, there's an inability to get the name right of one of the grant-receiving entities

and getting the wrong date for Eric Schiller's death (it was 3 November). Really you'd think they'd get that right.

But this kind of carelessness is of course a Ray characteristic. It might also be the sort of thing a professional would put right before approving and submitting the accounts. So why deprive yourself of their useful services? One possible reason might be the difference in remuneration due to the Independent Examiner, which hopped up to four grand in Blick Rothenburg's last year

and then hopped down.

Another possible reason might be that the new Independent Examiner, David Massey, doesn't just come cheap, but doesn't appear either to be independent, or to do any examination. Why would you care that all the major grants go to Ray's old friends and business partners, when you're one of them?

Friday, 1 March 2019

Chess in Art Revisits 1. John Ruskin

Chess in Art has been a bit thin on the ground recently. However, a few things of interest have popped up that encourage several visits to our back-catalogue (here and here) - which we'll do over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Brain Drain

Now here's a thing - the latest accounts for the Brain Trust, Ray Keene's fake charity, are out. They're late, but they're out.

What do they tell us? Not much we didn't know already, so if you were expecting all the large donations to have gone to Ray, Tony Buzan and their mates, there is nothing here to disappoint you.

If you look at the notes carefully, you'll be doing more than anybody was when they wrote them, or for that matter when they signed them off, since UK Schools Memory Initiative seems to have become UK Memory Sports Council between the list of grants and the notes to that list. Nevertheless, they were "approved by the Board of Trustees on 20 December 2018" and signed off by Ray, as well as the charity's Independent Examiner, Ray's old business partner David Massey.

I'm not actually sure that anything called the UK Schools Memory Initiative exists at all but no matter, the accounts themselves cite Ray and Tony as having an involvement in these two entities, organisations, bank accounts, whatever they may actually be. They don't suggest the same for the Chinese Memory Championship, perhaps surprisingly as the World Memory Statistics webpage, not updated for a while, trumpets the then-upcoming World Memory Championships, to be held in China, in December 2017

where they duly took place, with Ray and Tony visible in many of the photos.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Missing millions

Good spot Rog.

The Chessbase article on the FIDE campaign to be accepted as a sport at the 2024 Olympics is, as it says, a translation of a piece, in German, by Conrad Schormann, on the blog Perlen Vom Bodensee. It has appended to it, though, the text of a FIDE press release

whch as Roger observed, makes our favourite claim, and does so in two places.

We'll just note in passing the date on that press release (12 February, the day before the Chessbase piece) and the fact that it invites us to contact a Véronique Revoy who among other things is General Secretary of the French Chess Federation.

I took up that invitation and last Friday I swapped a few emails with Mme Revoy.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Cut Short

Funny thing is I was just wondering whether to renew my subscription.

I've not seen the first issue of 2019 yet - well, I've seen the front cover

but the rest of it, the last one that I've currently paid for, is late. And if it and when it does turn up, there's not going to be any Nigel Short in it.

This is a good thing.

I'd stopped reading his column some issues back anyway, partly because it really wasn't very well written (too much convoluted phrasing in preference to plain English) but partly because after a few years the combination of ego, obnoxiousness and permanent points-scoring just isn't that compelling any more.

I mean yes, if what you're looking for is controversy

then it's a good thing to have a motormouth on the scene.

But what if you're looking for is for women to be treated with respect? Is that important at all, Leon, or is the controversy the thing?

What if you would like other nationalities to be treated with respect too? What if you find his propensity to bullying and feuding distasteful?

It's not an optional extra, it's the whole man, the whole style. The "controversy" he produces is misogyny, prejudice and bullying. And I think we ought to be able to do better than that.

I'd like that to be the reason he's gone. Of course it isn't, whatever this may actually mean -

but it's the reason why, if and when my copy does turn up, I'll be renewing my subscription.