Friday, 16 November 2018

The Other Chess Action

While Magnus and Fabiano were squaring up for Game 2 last Saturday, there was some other chess action not a mile away - at the Wallace Collection, where Rupert Dickens took us on a masterly tour de force of Chess in Art: not an easy thing to pitch to an audience of art lovers (with, perhaps, no particular skill in the game) and chess players (with, perhaps, only a sketchy appreciation of the genre). However, our guide excelled in both departments and never looked like falling off the tight rope, though we were all relieved at the early reassurance that it was not to be a seven-hour torture.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

"Some blonde"

Right, but was anybody actually surprised that Rex Sinquefield should speak boorishly about women?

He's a sinister political figure and if you wanted to know what he thinks about women, you could do worse than check out how he responded to Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks:

He doesn't get much scrutiny, for reasons we all understand. But when we don't talk about the people who give us money, because they give us money, what does that make us?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Pop go the weasels

Whose crony is who?

Since reform of FIDE is underway, I wonder if the old slogan, gens una sumus, could be replaced with....well I'm afraid my Latin (O-Level, Grade B, 1981) isn't what it once was, so how do you translate it doesn't matter if you're a thief as long as you steal from someone else?

Monday, 12 November 2018

Thirty-Minute Theatre

This is quite an eye-opener.

This is pretty special too.

I'd be surprised if this was entirely within the law, although I don't suppose we'll ever find out - even if anybody were to try their luck in court I don't suppose there'll be much trace of AGON as a functioning organisation once this match is over.

I was going to say something like "and that was always the plan", but I don't imagine there's ever been a "plan", as such, just a way of doing things, and this is it.

This is, obviously, right:

It's not incompetence because it's not an accident. And the disinterest in paying spectators has always been an overt feature of the business model, ever since AGON first emerged at Simpson's, six years ago - at an event closed to the public.

Maybe it'd have been better if they did it that way, than charge seventy nicker for half an hour of chess. Either way is a monumental screw you to the chessplaying public. Go on, get these people hence.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Comprehensible commentary

I am asked:

Where might it be found?

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Leko of the past

According to Bryan Arnem Graham in the Guardian


Only if you forget about Peter Leko.

- - - - -

Mind you, memories do fail us sometimes...

Friday, 9 November 2018

Pre match interview

From Ray's Twitter:

Pre match indeed:

Monday, 5 November 2018

600 million and one reasons not to read Brin-Jonathan Butler

Some clown called Brin-Jonathan Butler has written a book about the last world championship match. Can I be bothered even to give you the title or put an image up?

I cannot.

Why not?

Because the author is interviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and here's a passage from the interview.

Yes, indeed.
the world’s 600 million active chess players.
That's as far as I felt I needed to read: if you don't know any better than that, you don't know enough to be worth reading. Simple as that.

The name rang a bell though. Where had I seen that name before?

Ah yes. "It's really good."

It really isn't.

EDIT: There's more.

Friday, 2 November 2018

Or not

The new CHESS is out

and there's eleven pages available for anyone to read, including Malcolm's editorial (of which more, possibly, at a later date) and a bunch of book reviews, among which can be found a short review of yet another book by Cyrus Lakdawala, the worst chess writer publishing in English. A very short review.

Still, it probably took longer to write than the book did.

Anyway, for some reason an Amazon ad for the book turned up on my screen earlier so I took a little glance via the Look Inside function and -

- Good Lord, he's quoting Shakespeare again.

Or to get it right (as Lakdawala does not) he's misquoting Shakespeare again.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

600 million reasons not to read Dylan Loeb McClain

Anybody remember when Dylan Loeb McClain was a proper journalist?

Well those times ain't no more.

[Thanks to Adam Ponting in comments.]

Friday, 26 October 2018

Monday, 22 October 2018


I've been thinking about this image a bit. It comes from a documentary called The Making Of Them, screened by the BBC in 1994, about young boys at a boarding school.

The documentary itself is relatively gentle with its subject, if we're considering the subject as the school as well as the boys who it films there. (Viewers may not feel the same way.) This is not something that can be said of the book which recommended it, Alex Renton's Stiff Upper Lip, a genuinely angry, excoriating and most of all well-informed attack on the practice, almost unique to Britain, of sending children in large numbers to boarding schools.

Renton's work is a litany of physical, sexual and psychological abuse of boys by other boys, boys by older boys and boys by adults, and if it is uncomfortable reading, that is not a great deal of suffering compared to what it describes. This isn't something you see in The Making of Them and viewers have to locate their own signals to tell them about the happiness, or otherwise, of the stranded boys.

Which leads me on to the image, or rather the sequence, that interested me. It's worth watching the whole documentary, of course, but what caught my eye occurs just after 31 minutes.

Friday, 19 October 2018

Invisible Man

The Isle of Man International is with us again, starting tomorrow, and once again the tournament sponsors include the Scheinberg family

the one-time owners of PokerStars whose founder, Isai Scheinberg, is still, as far as I am aware, on the run from the US authorities on a range of serious financial charges: described in 2016 as
under criminal indictment from the April 15, 2011 Black Friday action by the US Department of Justice.
As the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists wrote last December, the Isle of Man's role as a harbour for offshore funds played a crucial role in Scheinberg's activities prior to the indictment, and it's played a crucial role since in harbouring Mr Scheinberg himself.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

What a piece of work

Well I'm glad to see that New in Chess have got their scanner working again.

Not as glad as I might be, though, since while my latest emailing from that publisher may be free from photocopied sample pages, the nicely-scanned book it advertises is by the worst chess writer currently publishing in English, Cyrus Lakdawala.

The latest intellectual molehill that he's added to his mountain of published works is something called Clinch It, which from a brief glance (though alas, not brief enough) contains the usual mixture of waffle, irrelevance, impenetrable metaphor

What other kind of bullet lodges anywhere? What step has
been skipped when it does? What is he on about?

and pointless quotes.

Did I say "quotes"?

This is not a quote.

This is a quote.

I can see why Cyrus might be attracted to Polonius, given that the latter is a windbag who makes his way through life by repeating platitudes under the impression he's imparting wisdom to the young. But I reckon even Polonius could copy out a quote correctly if he had to, especially if it came from one of the best-known works of one of the greatest writers of the English language that we have.

But Cyrus Lakdawala can't even do that. Because he is one of the worst writers of the English language that we have.

Monday, 15 October 2018

The Short is father

This came up a few days ago and boy, is it a bunch of humbug.

All right, it's Nigel's old man so let's not be as harsh as we might be, but the idea that you would combat corruption in sport by teaming up with the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia is patently absurd - you might as well fight organised crime by linking up with Vito Corleone. It's a nonsense. A convenient nonsense, for all manner of people, but a nonsense nonetheless.

A complete nonsense, given stuff like this.

It's so very typical of Nigel to make a big noise about the Kremlin and the Skripals when it's a matter of somebody else's naked personal ambition. And then to make a big noise about how they're nothing to do with it, when it's a matter of his own.

Monday, 1 October 2018

600 million chessplayers can't be right

We interrupt this series about Ray's iffy figures for some iffy figures from Ray.

Thanks to Olimpiu

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Counsel of despair

I was idling around with the accounts of Ray's Brain Trust "charity" yesterday and I found myself looking at some of the donations that it made in the year to March 2016

and in particular the five grand, plus a grand or so the year before, that the Trustees of the Brain Trust (Tony, Ray's sister, Ray's son, Ray, a couple of Ray's mates)

saw fit to donate to an organisation called World IQ Counsel Ltd.

This is one of the grants mentioned in the section relating to "transactions with related parties" (the one curiously missing from the next year's accounts).

Odd, in an amusing kind of way, that they've forgotten Ray's OBE on the line above, but there's also something odd about the company in the entry we've highlighted. But before we get on to that, who might World IQ Counsel be? Ray, obviously, who else?

Friday, 28 September 2018

Brain you can't Trust

What's this, what's number 15 and why is it missing?

Since we're doing a couple of things on Ray's iffy organisations this week, the above is a little snippet from the latest accounts of the Brain Trust, Ray and Tony's* laughable "charity".

You can find the relevant documents at Companies House, and the accounts from which the above are taken are those for the year ending 31 March 2017. We'll get back to them shortly, but before we do, I'd like you to look at the previous set of accounts, for the year ending 31 March 2016. Have a look around, see if there's any names you recognise, but when you're ready, we'll start with this bit. It lists the various lucky beneficiaries to whom the Brain Trust chose to distribute money that year that it had raised.

You might find some of those names vaguely familiar - Mind Mapping is Tony Buzan of course, and long-memoried readers may remember Vesna Petkovic from here - but unless you're either an accountant or have spoken to one, you might not know what this is about.

Because I'm a good guy, I'll tell you as much as I know.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Guilt by association

Anyway, just in passing we were talking about how Ray had launched his new website, which is the crock you'd expect it to be, with the usual cast of Ray's dubious friends and links to iffy astroturf organisations.

One of these is The Gifted Academy, which has managed to escape my attention up to now. I don't know how active a grift it presently is, but at any rate Ray thinks enough of it to list it on his front page

on his brand new site so it's current as far as he's concerned.

So what's The Gifted Academy? It's a patently fraudulent educational establishment that reckons it offers
a variety of assessments, tests and consultancy in IQ, Personality, ability and cognitive tests; also the revision of educational programs and enrichment programs for Gifted and Talented students and individuals
as well as alleged Educational Consultancy (education? that's a stock photo of lawyers) and other bullshit much of which is the hallmark of Tony Buzan, whose cronies make up the entire personnel of this particular scam.

Including, naturally, your friend and mine.

Ray posing as a Trustee

Monday, 24 September 2018

Tangled web we weave

I'm glad to say that Ray's found time out from launching his new website (packed, as you'd expected, with dubious and fraudulent claims) to weigh in on the matter of the English Chess Federation choosing not to back Nigel Short for FIDE President.

Now it's not like anybody who thinks Ray's opinion matters should have their opinions taken seriously themselves, but having had his own outrage echoed by three or four other goons, Ray feels able to declare:

Hey ho. Ray's not actually a member of the ECF of course, what with the little matter of defrauding us of a few hundred quid back in the day. Possibly he should run another twitter poll about whether he should pay us back that money before he has anything else to say on the subject.

He could also get Nigel Short, one of the two Likes on that tweet, to say whether he thinks cheating chess federations out of the members' money is the sort of conduct he hopes to encourage in FIDE.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Side order

So, on Friday I was wondering why Garry Kasparov was keeping quiet about the Short-Dvorkovich rapprochement, given that Garry's two main proccupations, about which he is usually anything but quiet, are chess, and Russian political influence.

Here's what Malcolm Pein reckons.

Do I believe that? Well it's plausible, kind of, but thing is, does Garry Kasparov strike anybody as the kind of person to stay dumbfounded for very long?

Certainly not the "dumb" part, I'd have said.

Besides, there's also the question of his sidekick, who's not much less voluble than his boss, and generally on the same subjects. But he doesn't seem to have had any more to say on Short-Dvorkovich than Garry. That's odd enough - but this, to my mind, is odder.

I don't even necessarily disagree with all of that - that's not what I find odd about it. It's that if you look at Mig's Twitter account, it is, like Garry's, wall-to-wall Russia-and-Putin.

What's wrong with that? Nothing, except that suddenly, when it comes to FIDE politics, in which the former Deputy Prime Minister of Russia is involved - somebody much closer to Vladimir Putin than Kirsan, somebody previously described as being "in the Kremlin chain of command" - the story is Makro. Makro, and nothing but.

As I said on Friday, I don't want to make large assumptions about what people think based on what they haven't said, but still - assuming Garry and Mig really are "dumbfounded", I wonder if they will rediscover their voices any time soon?