Friday 11 August 2017

Herbert Jacobs: 16. Finale

We started this extended investigation of the chess and life of Herbert Levi Jacobs (1863-1950) at the end: with his obituary. In a pleasing symmetry we end it by going back to the beginning, and asking the question: how did he learn the game in the first place.

But, before we finally begin, here is a youthful picture of our subject that we have not used before, from an article in The Chess Monthly February 1895 (when he was 32), occasioned by his winning the City of London CC championship for the first time.

An accompanying biographical note suggests that Jacobs learnt his chess from...  

Friday 4 August 2017

Holidays in the sun

This blog's on holiday!

Martin will be bringing you the final part of his Herbert Jacobs series, but as far as I'm concerned, it's see you later.

It's my one month a year for actually playing a bit of chess rather than writing about it, to the advantage of everybody except myself. So I'll be playing the Prague Summer Open (starts today, as it happens) and there'll be some Bank Holiday chess too. Back, hopefully, in the first week of September.

Thursday 3 August 2017

Not right said Fred

There's a piece on the death of Fred* Yates in the August issue of the British Chess Magazine.


Here's what Olimpiu has to say about it.

Do read the thread.

Here is the piece from Chessbase, which the BCM seem to have started by quoting, and ended by copying out in its entirety.

They interviewed Ray a few months ago. Did he give them any tips?

[* Thanks to Ilkley Chess in comments]

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Past and presents

On Monday we were discussing the thirteenth century role of Serjeant Warden-of-the-Chessmen, by which the Russell family kept their Dorset manor through the grace and favour of King Henry III.

I don't have vast amounts to add to what I wrote then, but after a bit of research (Googling henry iii chess) I did discover some useful information in a piece by Professor Nicholas Vincent published in The Growth Of Royal Government Under Henry III (Crook and Wilkinson, eds, Boydell and Brewer 2015)

entitled An Inventory of Gifts to King Henry III, 1234-5.

It so happens that, Professor Vincent tells us, we have a record of the gifts that were made to the King over a six month period covering both those years, and that this list includes some chess sets. A footnote quotes MAE Green, Lives of the Princesses of England from the Norman Conquest (London 1849-55) which says that the previous Christmas, the Prior of Jerusalem had sent Henry "a chess-table and chess-men, enshrined in a casket of ivory" while the records of which Vincent writes directly included "two gaming sets, with chess and other gaming pieces".

These were courtesy of the Prior of the Hospitallers and the Countess of Ponthieu: but, Vincent continues, "in due course both sets were presented to Isabella", the king's sister, who was married off to the Holy Roman Emperor. One hopes she found a couple of chess sets adequate compensation. Two sets fewer, anyway, for our man Russell to have to worry about.

To be honest, I don't have the information, or the period knowledge, to say or even guess whether Russell's duties were serious ones, a joke at his expense, or a whim dreamed up because no more serious duty to perform could be thought of. I don't know enough. But I was interested in Vincent's footnote which informed me that Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry's grandmother, was properly interested in the game

and doesn't have appeared to have offloaded her present at the first opportunity. Quite right too. And if the chess sets were anything like this one

you'd want someone to look after them properly - and count the pieces too.

Tuesday 1 August 2017

Dom and dumber

Dominic Lawson is at it again.

No sooner have the England women's cricket team had the effrontery to win the World Cup than Dominic Lawson arrives to tell us how rubbish they are, because that's the really most important and appropriate thing to say. You were thinking that this might change the way that women's sport is thought of? The President of the English Chess Federation is here to put you right.

Mail on Sunday

Daily Mail on Monday

Great effort Dom. It even comes with a Nigel Short-style scientific explanation for women being no good at this sort of thing: