Saturday 24 December 2016

Bored by the Xmas movies?

Why not watch a bunch of foreign-language chess films instead?

There's a chess bookshop, La Casa Del Ajedrez, in Madrid, I've never been there myself, but they send me emails, which is how I know that, as part of their twentieth anniversary celebrations, they're showing a series of chess films over Xmas.

On first looking at the list of films I thought I hadn't heard of any of them - which, given that most chess-related films are terrible, might not be to my disadvantage. In truth, having scratched my head a little harder, I can maybe vaguely remember one or two of them, though that would be "remember" as in having heard of them, not as in going so far as to watch them. But if and when you're bored by the Xmas movies, then most of them are embedded in this blog post. So you don't have to go all the way to Madrid 28004 to see them.

(Before I start, I haven't got, and haven't seen, Bob Basalla's Chess In The Movies, currently eight hundred nicker on Amazon, so if anybody's got it, or got eight hundred quid they want to give away, I'd be keen to hear what it says about any of these films.)

Their first movie in the series is Schachnovelle, from the novel by Stefan Zweig, which in the UK was released as Brainwashed.

Amusingly the poster for the UK release makes no apparent reference to chess, except for the phrase MASTER MINDS OF BRAIN WARFARE! which sounds like the sort of thing Ray would say. Mind you, he was still at school at the time - becoming fluent in German, as I recall, which would make it easier to follow the film, which is on YouTube only in the original.

However, you can have a four-minute taster with English subtitles, in which Alan Gifford, despite claiming to be a chessplayer, struggles to identify a name he is given as that of the world chess champion.

Claire Bloom is in it, though not, as far as I could see, in the clip and so is Curd (Curt) J├╝rgens.

Friday 23 December 2016

Chess in Art: Tickling the Ivories

Seasonal Greetings, and a question: have you seen this before?

Mirror Case with a Couple Playing Chess, 1325-1350.
France, Paris, C14th. Ivory 10.20cm diam.
The Cleveland Museum of Art 

If you think you have, think again...

Monday 12 December 2016


Steven Shapin in the London Review of Books (paywall) 1 December 2016

Friday 9 December 2016

A clever response

As we've seen this week, Ray plagiarised all his Times columns from Monday 24 October to Friday 28 October from the first volume of My Great Predecessors (Garry Kasparov, Everyman 2003). So if you assumed he did the same on Saturday 29 October, you assume correctly, though it's not as thoroughgoing a robbery as the others. Here's how he introduced it.

However in this instance the annotations in My Great Predecessors don't actually kick off until just before Black's thirty-fourth move, so we'll join him there. (Whether the annotations prior to that are original - who knows.)

Here's how that appears on page 223 of My Great Predecessors.

Anticipated is the word.

Thursday 8 December 2016


After plagiarising his Times columns for Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 October, Ray, who is nothing else if not a creature of habit, was never likely to change course in midweek.

Here's how his column began for Wednesday 26:

And here's how it continues:

And here's how that move was annotated on page 28 of the first volume of My Great Predecessors (Garry Kasparov, Everyman 2003):

The Evergreen Game, as I'm sure you knew.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

As today's game amply demonstrates

I trust you enjoyed Ray's plagiarised Times column from Monday October 24, featured on this blog yesterday. Here's the start of the column he produced for Tuesday October 25.

Here's how it goes on.

And here's White's ninth move annotated on page 18 of the first volume of My Great Predecessors (Garry Kasparov, Everyman 2003).

What a shameless old plagiarist the man is.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Guardian of supreme excellence in the game

I've not really had my eye on Ray for a while, for one reason or another, so it was only just yesterday morning that I came across his Times column for October 24. Here's how it starts.

 Here's how it goes on.

And here's the same move annotated on page 15 of the first volume of My Great Predecessors (Garry Kasparov, Everyman, 2003).

Ray's at it again.

Monday 5 December 2016

Sunday 4 December 2016

Why Britain Won't Have Its Own World Champion

Because Mike Basman has to pay his taxes!

Ha ha no really...

More from Mike here ...