Friday 28 April 2017

Brixton Byways 2½ : Peyers You Went

This impromptu post registers an echo in the outer reaches of the ever-expanding universe of chess-historical trivia (where the lost outnumber the winning?).

Start, please, by casting your mind back to a post three years ago concerning the embryonic origins, in the early 1870s, of Streatham and Brixton Chess Club or, as it then was, the Endeavour Chess Club of North Brixton. We told the relevant part of the story in Brixton Byways 2: Peyers As You Go, which related the tale of the unfortunate de Peyer brothers, who put their considerable energies into the nascent club. Today's post notes a recent reverberation in the de Peyer sector and recalls a close encounter some twenty years ago.

Friday 21 April 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 7. Congress Man Replayed

This is a little intermezzo in the Jacobs saga.  

Back to Jacobs in Malvern 1921 

Episode 4 of this series on Herbert Jacobs covered his participation in several tournaments for the British Chess Championship, including the one at Malvern in 1921, when he finished 9th. Since publication of that episode I have stumbled on a photo-feature on the tournament in British Newspaper Archive. It must have already appeared elsewhere in the regular chess sources and history websites (though I've not found it), in which case credit to them where it is due.  

In the picture Jacobs has just played 1. e3 against Thomas. 

The Sphere August 20 1921

False news! In the game the first move was 1. e4. And Jacobs had the black pieces. The full game score is given below. It is typical Jacobs: habitual opening, fighting tenaciously every inch of the way, resourcefulness, spurning a draw by repetition, losing.

The photo-caption above refers to Jacobs' response "to the welcome offered by the local authorities on the opening of the congress". This is not the first time we have found him on such occasions in the role of spokesperson for the BCF: more on this in the last section of the post.

Sunday 16 April 2017

Something is in danger, but it isn't chess as such

If Ray's around, it's normally somebody else's wallet. Or somebody else's copyright.

Now I confess I don't read the British Chess Magazine. If they sent it to me post free it still wouldn't be worth the postage. At least that's the impression I got the last few times I saw it, one of which, a few years ago now, was a seventeen-page interview with this month's cover model, carried out by professional arse-kisser Steve Giddins. [CORRECTION: not so, says Steve in comments.]

I've not really had the stomach for it since, which is a shame in several ways.(I'd have liked to see March's Time To Grow Up Guys! by Mike Basman, just for the sheer effrontery.)

So for all I know, April's Ray Keene interview is in reality a searching examination of its subject, in the finest traditions of the journalistic art, and includes questions like the following:

  • When are you going to pay back the money you defrauded from members of the British Chess Federation?

  • Who is the bigger charlatan, you or your friend Tony Buzan?

  • Did Viktor Korchnoi ever recover from you cheating him in 1978?

  • How did you get away with the BrainGames scam?

  • Do you actually write any of your own columns, or does Byron do them for you?

  • Who at the Times protected you from being sacked for rampant plagiarism?

I could go on. I mean Ray has. For about forty years too long, protected by his friends, who couldn't give a stuff what he does as long as it's not their pockets that get picked.

Monday 10 April 2017

À la recherche d'un jeu perdu

Akobian-Caruana, US Championship round nine, 7 April 2017, position after 44. Nc3-e2

Ah yes, I remember it well. Or I do now I'm reminded.

I didn't have my Proust moment then and there. In fact, what I was doing right that moment was ceasing active mental operations and going to bed: So had beaten Xiong, Nakamura looked like he might scrape a draw out of Onischuk and Akobian was presumably going to resign in the next couple of moves.

So when I woke up to this

I was so shocked that I had to check that it had really happened and that the wrong result hadn't been recorded by mistake. A world-class player couldn't possibly have lost a simple symmetrical position with two connected passed pawns to the good.

But I could.

Toll-Horton, Witney v Cowley, 23 November 1992, position after 37...Ra1xa2.

Friday 7 April 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 6. Engaging Agnes

After a lot of his chess in this series (beginning here) about Herbert Levi Jacobs (1863 - 1950) we now go off-piste and look at the other aspects of his absorbing life, beginning with the lead up to his marriage. There should be room for more chess-oriented episodes up ahead.

As we reported in episode 2, Herbert passed into the blessèd state of Benedict on 14th April 1888 in the Registry Office at Paddington. Now 25, he married Charlotte Agnes Larkcom, about whom, and their puzzling relationship, there is much to be said. Agnes was already in the public eye in 1877 some years before their marriage - and so you can get a good look at who we are talking about, here is the "pretty" Miss Larkhom (as the press - chess and otherwise - was wont to describe her).

Miss Agnes Larkom. 
The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News Saturday February 7, 1877.  

She was on the front page. To find out why, read on.