Friday 24 February 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 3. City Champ

In this third episode of our story of the life and chess of Herbert Levi Jacobs (1863-1950) (episode 1 is here, and episode is 2 here) we will round off the account of his time with the City of London Chess Club up to his signal success in the club championship of 1894.  There are sundry other chess matters along the way, and - for better or for worse - a good number of Herbert's games. There is also a note, at the end, on a some interesting chess history documentation hidden in Hackney.

Thursday 23 February 2017

More than enough compensation

Surprised I hadn't come across this before...

[Thanks to Helen]

Monday 20 February 2017

Will truth out?

Tim Harding asks a good question.

Now it's not as if it's a question that was never asked during Van Oosterom's lifetime, albeit not generally by the people who should have been asking it. And the proper convention is to not make too much fuss about the misdeeds, either alleged or proven, of the dead, so if Peter Doggers' notice said no more than this
many chess experts have suggested that the retired grandmaster Jeroen Piket, who finished his career to start working for Van Oosterom in Monaco, not only helped his boss in the company
I have no particular objection.

Sunday 19 February 2017

Dress Down Ray

Standards are slipping.

OK it was Friday but when a man of Ray's moral standing can't be bothered to dress smartly what hope is left?

I mean - how will the young people know who to copy?

Wednesday 15 February 2017

Did Fred play?

I wouldn't mind seeing this film: I've been interested in its subject most of my life.

We knew Marx played a little (though I wouldn't be sure we can vouch for the veracity of this game) but what about Fred? Marx surely played with Liebknecht, but that's not Wilhelm in the picture - in either meaning of the term picture, since he's not listed in the cast. Our two chessplayers pictured are clearly August Diehl, playing Marx, and Stefan Konarske (below) who's down as playing Engels.

Playing a player?

I've never seen Engels' name linked with chess - there was a chessplaying Engels, but a different one - and it's the sort of thing I'd have expected to notice.

Alas, when trying to connect the two briefly yesterday evening, all I could find was a long article from 1890 in which, discussing the opinions of the largely-forgotten David Urquhart, Engels writes thus:
In order thus to reduce all modern history since the French Revolution to a diplomatic game of chess between Russia and Turkey, with the other European States for Russia’s chessmen, Urquhart had to set himself up as a sort of Eastern prophet who taught, instead of simple historic facts, a secret esoteric doctrine in a mysterious hyper-diplomatic language, full of allusions to facts not generally known, but hardly ever plainly stated.
And here's me thinking that clichéd Russia/chess comparisons dated from the period of the Soviet Union (and ever since). Apparently not.

So assuming that the image above is all it seems, is it a little bit of artistic licence on the part of Raoul Peck? Or did Marx struggle over the chessboard with Engels just as he did with Liebknecht? Did Fred play?

Friday 10 February 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 2. Brixton, Benedict and Bar

This series, in several parts, is following the career - chess and otherwise - of Herbert Levi Jacobs (1863 - 1950), considered by his obituarist in the British Chess Magazine as, in his day, "one of England's strongest players". Incidentally, there was no mention at the time, that I could find, of his passing, in Chess - then, and since, the country's other monthly chess mag.

Part 1 documented the beginnings of his chess career in Croydon and Surrey. We now follow him north, both for his chess, and the first step in his Legal career. However, before we rush headlong towards the City, we need to mark Herbert's involvement in Brixton Chess Club. He is part - if a small one - of the S&BCC story, and thus of some interest hereabouts. However, first we back up a bit, before we plough on into the future.

Wednesday 8 February 2017

Boo Hou

Much anguish and wagging of fingers at Hou Yifan's default-cum resignation in the last round at Gibraltar, and I can't say I'm all that impressed myself, not being hugely fond of players losing in that fashion. If you're going to default as a protest, perhaps it's better to formally default, since playing deliberately badly brings the game into disrepute.

More than that, if you're going to default as a protest, perhaps it's better to put out a formal statement explaining your actions, since it's hard to evaluate a protest when you don't know for sure what it's about.

So should she have done it? Very probably not. Should she have apologised to the organisers and arbiters, as she did to the fan? Very possibly. On the other hand, whataboutery is the spice of internet life, so I was wondering whether there had been any other incidents recently in which leading professionals had found themselves at loggerheads with organisers and arbiters.

Funnily enough this chap was the first who came to mind.

Saturday 4 February 2017

Postcards from Zafra

This is Casa Ruy López in Zafra, where I'm staying (the room above the sign)..

It is not in the same street as this...

...which in turn is not in the same street as this...

which says:
Ruy López de Segura, priest from Zafra, first-ever world chess champion in 1575 and famous writer on that noble game, was born and lived in this house.

[With thanks to Carlos Maza Gómez]

Thursday 2 February 2017