Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Do they mean us?

I'm not sure how chuffed I am at the Institute of Psychiatry associating chess with being "socially aloof", let alone "intelligent", but what I really want to know is...

...what have they done with the White king?

Friday, 16 June 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 11. Votes For Jacobs!

We have come across it several times in this extended exploration of the life and chess of Herbert Jacobs (1863-1950): his propensity to express himself in poetic form. He was at it again in 1910 (now age 47) with a piece presented carte de visite-style (reproduced below). It is in a file of material at the LSE Women's Library from the General Election of that year - the one when Herbert stood on a Women's Suffrage ticket.

With thanks to the LSE Women's Library

It is not clear whether the sentiment of the poem - "To the Old Year and the New" - was occasioned by the turn of 1909 into 1910 (looking forward hopefully), or of 1910 into 1911 (relieved to leave that one behind). Anyway, it's a nice photo of Herbert - which we will see used again in the General Election. As for 1910, was it annus mirabilis or annus horribilis? Find out below.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Share and enjoy

It's my birthday tomorrow, and because I am not just a good guy but generous with it, I am going to give you all a present. Same present for everybody, mind, so you'll have to share, but it's a nice one.

There you go.

It's a large pgn file of the collected games and annotations of Raymond Keene, all in one place for your comfort and convenience. It stretches from 1961, the first annotated game being an Old Indian Defence against John Sugden from that year, to 1988, the last one being from a little earlier, a King's Indian Attack essayed by Zarb.

I can't actually remember how I came across it first. I thought I had discovered it by accident when, in 2013, I was researching Ray's habits of reproducing his own notes, or other people's, on the sly - Googling a phrase must have produced, among the results, our pgn file. Not so, though, since checking my old emails I find I've been aware of it since 2010 having come across it by chance on this site, maintained by Philip Hughes. The site actually promises us a collection of Ray's games

and though I can't locate it now, it must have been there at some point. Whatever - here it is, and what an invaluable resource it is.

Of course you may have come across some of the material before, and more than once.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

He didn't win

A lot of people didn't win on Thursday.

But Mike Basman didn't win more than most.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Becoming clear

I don't think I've  got the answer to yesterday's question - where Ray's notes to Keene-Basman originate - but I do know that the notes from the fifty-year-old game are at least forty years old, since they appear in Ray's Batsford compilation, Becoming a Grandmaster.

Here (with thanks to Jonathan) is the original.

I say "the original", but while that takes us back to 1977 at least. the notes in all likelihood are from before that year, because though Becoming a Grandmaster is a very entertaining read, it's notoriously a read of material that had been previously published elsewhere (this being an example) not that Ray or Batsford bothered to tell that to the paying customer.

So the hunt continues - where did the notes come from? Maybe Ray or could tell us.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

A curious blend

General election day in the UK and Mike Basman has been setting out his views on the NHS: apparently it represents "a culture which pushes drugs relentlessly onto the populace", whatever he may think that means. Don't worry Mike, if the Tories win the NHS will be doing a lot less of that and everything else in the future.

Mike will have gained a boost from being the subject of Ray's widely-read Spectator column for June 3:

Given that Ray's political associates are normally titled members of the barking right, Mike Basman might be an improvement.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

An imperfect match

And after John Naughton reviewing Kasparov in the Observer, here's Chuck Culpepper writing about Wesley So in the Washington Post.

No sign of that note-taking business, either.

Monday, 5 June 2017

More of the same

To go with yesterday's piece, here's something from John Naughton's Guardian/Observer* review of Garry Kasparov's new book.

Donner said of Prins that he "cannot tell a knight from a bishop". I wonder - would a book about tennis be reviewed by somebody who didn't know the difference between a game and a match?

[* Guardian website, but as it appeared on a Sunday I'm assuming it was the Observer in print.]

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The same treatment

How long does it take you to see what's very wrong with this?

The answer, if you're a chess player, is no time at all.

If you're not a chess player (which is a few of our readers, though probably not many) the answer is that Capablanca did not win the world championship "every year from 1921 until 1927", because there was no world championship every year from 1921 until 1927. Between those years no world championship matches took place. It is not and was not an annual event.

This is not an easy thing to get wrong - if you're a chess player, if you know anything about chess. Even if you do not, it is an easy thing to look up.

but it is not an easy thing to get wrong.

I mean it is like saying that Brazil won the World Cup every year between 1970 and 1974. Or that Barack Obama won the Presidency every year between 2008 and 2016. You would never say either of those things, because you would know - if you knew anything - that these were not annual events. And anybody who did say those things could expect to be laughed at.

But not Brin-Jonathan Butler, who gets to write a magazine article about Capablanca, among the most famous of world chess champions, without apparently knowing the most elementary facts about the world chess championship.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 10. Votes For Women!

In 1907 a new organisation joined the campaign for votes for women: the Men's League for Women's Suffrage (MLWS), and its first chairman was the 54 year-old Herbert Jacobs (1863-1950), the subject of this extended series (it started here), which is covering all aspects of his life - chess and otherwise - in some detail. But before we go any further, a reminder: I am not a professional historian who might have made a specialised study of the fight for women's suffrage in the late 19th/early 20th Centuries. Please bear that in mind when reading this and the following episode (indeed, for the series as a whole) which, apart from any other deficiency, barely scratch the surface of suffrage history.    

According to the Men's League's first Annual Report in 1908, it was inaugurated at a meeting on the 2 March 1907 in Jacobs' office at 1, Harcourt Chambers in the Inner Temple. Three years later he was standing for parliament on a women's suffrage platform. This episode will begin to tell the story of Jacobs' political career, and we'll start at the beginning....