Monday 25 September 2017

V šachu

Last month when I was playing chess in Prague I had a short draw on the final day, and hoped to do pretty much a full day's sightseeing. Alas, it started ratting down like nobody's business and after lunch I had no option but to retreat to my hotel room, where I nodded off while waiting for the rain to stop. When I woke up, out of habit I picked up the remote control and...

...Good God, is that chess on the telly?

It surely was.

I was so impressed I took a load of really poor-quality photographs.

Friday 22 September 2017

Les Chesseurs Britanniques de Paris: Part 7 Addendum bis

In a series beginning here we followed the fortunes of the short-lived British Chess Club of Paris. It has some surprises yet, and this episode provides an update.

The club sprang into life in 1926, meeting in café venues, more or less regularly, until the final pawn was pushed in 1939 on the eve of World War 2. Its membership fluctuated from an initial 15 or so, down to a low point when just a handful of dedicated souls kept the flame alive, and back up to around 30 towards the end. The club's most high-profile appearance was in 1931 in a cable match against the Manhattan Chess Club - alas they lost. In its glory days the club fielded teams in the Paris league, competing for the Coupe de Paris (of which more below). The BCCP was represented on the organising committee of the competition, as well as on the French National Chess Federation.

The BCCP's membership was a mélange of businessmen and diplomats posted in Paris, and resident Anglo-Francs. Les anglais visiting Paris for un bon moment were welcome. Some members can be spotted on the chess scene back in Blighty before or after the years of the BCCP, but others seem to be undocumented in all the usual places. In the previous series we compiled a partial list of members, sourced from occasional reports of the club's activities (see the Appendix below); and now, thanks to further research by Dominique Thimongier of Héritage des Echecs Français - to whom we once again express our gratitude - we can add more names, the first of which turned up in the French sporting daily L'Auto. 
Accessible via Gallica@BNF

As we go along we can also tap into some of the chess incident at the Coupe, on and off the board.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

So what?

I'll be rooting for Ding today. Partly because I like to support the underdog, but partly because this gets on my nerves.

Normally it's in rather bad taste to publicly criticise a sporting competitor's religious views, since they're not intrusive and they're not our business, but if a player's going to make a public claim that they won because God helped them win - so what made Fedoseev less worthy, are you a better person than he is? - that's the kind of circumstance that alters cases. Different things get up different noses, but this is the kind of thing that gets up mine.

As it happens, Wesley discussed this very question in a recent article for Christianity Today. What Wesley said is this:

which is all well and good but it doesn't go on to ask the obvious question as to whether, if God helps Wesley win chess games, that means it's God who makes other people have cancer, say, or die in car crashes. Think it through, man. Think about what it would mean if we applied it to the lives of other people. Is that like Daddy too? Is that like being punished by Daddy, because they've been bad?

Monday 18 September 2017

Now you don't

As it's the rest day, let's scroll back to Thursday for a moment, since something odd seems to have happened towards the end of the first Fedoseev-Rodshtein game - but nearly everybody seems to have missed it. It's something to do with this, though this doesn't tell you what it is., too, give us the facts, but not, in this particular instance, the story.

So what is the story?

Let Matt Fletcher tell us.

Hang on, what was that again? Black tried to reply to Rf8+ with ...Kg8?

How very odd. They're adjoining squares.

Let's look at the position. White checked on f8...

....and Black somehow moved his king like so...

under the impression that it was a legal square?

I think we'd better look at some footage.

Thursday 14 September 2017

Slurs and shorts

Anyway, Azmai.

I'm sure people have read everything there is to be read about this already (not that that selection of links is exhaustive) and anybody who wants to sign the petition against Azmai has probably already done so. My name's there, as it happens.

Still, I'm as sure as you are that no harm will come to Azmai as a result of his conduct in Tbilisi. I'm also sure that what ought to happen is that he ought to lose his official posts, and that one of the reasons why he should do so is that any official who engages in ethnic slurs should lose their post.

Regarding which, some observations.

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Broadcast news

Let's put back any thoughts on Azmai for another day or two (he'll wait - he's a patient man) since the venue for the Candidates Tournament was announced yesterday, fitting in nicely with the FIDE World Cup that's in progress at the moment. Still no news on where the World Championship will be, mind, but at least we do know that Magnus Carlsen's challenger will be decided in March next year, and in Berlin. Which is nice.

Less nice, when you scroll down through the waffle in the press release, is this short paragraph.

First thing is, that's broadcast not broadcasted. Second thing is - what does this actually mean?

Monday 11 September 2017

Unattractive approach

We'll get on to shorts, racial slurs and all the rest in a short while (hopefully tomorrow) but in the meantime, I wouldn't want us to entirely overlook this less-than-meritorious moment in Peter Doggers' round report for Saturday.

Should it really be necessary to point out that two of the world's leading grandmasters might like to discuss the world's leading woman player without reference to what they think of her appearance? Or that if they don't, it isn't really "witty"?

[Also see]

Friday 8 September 2017

Hackney Hits A Hundred

It's been some time since we caught up with Tom Hackney - who has a very particular take on chess in art. We have discussed his work several times over the years (see full set of links at the end), and so it's a pleasure to pre-view his new exhibition, opening today at 57W57 Arts in New York, and re-view one that has recently closed in London (blast, I missed it).

Tom paints the games of Marcel Duchamp, who as you know was a pretty decent chess player between the wars, and was of course the artist responsible for the urinal. Duchamp could be said to have invented "conceptual art", though his preferred term was "non retinal". Chess appeared in his art, as you might expect; until, as he claimed later, he gave up art for chess. Many learned treatises have been written about Marcel, and some of them deal at length with his chess/art/life mix. You can get a flavour of it from our earlier blogs herehere, and here.

Back in 2009 Tom started out on a long and demanding journey: to reproduce all of Duchamp's chess games as works of art, and he did so nailing his own "conceptual art" colours to the mast - although for all that, his work has a compelling "retinal" impact. Beyond that their hidden depth - the "conceptual" aspect of his art - resides in the chess-thought that underpins the moves and their implied geometry, the symbolic notation of the game, and the unseen procedure that transforms all that into an artwork.

If you are lucky enough to understand chess, then you might read off something of the game from what you see. If you are not, then it's the thought that counts: ultimately, you don't need to play chess to get it. Here is an early effort of Tom's, one that we have seen before.

Chess Painting No. 2
(Duchamp vs. Crépeaux, Nice, 1925)

You can see what Tom has done: the tracks of the moves are painted across an 8x8 grid in black (and opaque) or white (and translucent), one on top of another in the sequence of game, abruptly or gradually obscuring the traces of earlier manoeuvres. If no move crosses a square (as here at h2, h3 and h4), then it remains as raw, unpainted, canvas.

Notice that Tom's rendering of the Duchamp v Crépeaux game was "Number 2" in his output. So where has he got to now, so many years later?

Thursday 7 September 2017

The Duel

So I was saying yesterday about how I was playing through an online game on a giant chess set in a campsite near Rouen.

Anyway, after the game ended abruptly and I was looking to kill a little more time, I started flicking through the contents of a bookcase and much to my surprise, I came across this.

Funny, it looks like they're using the same set as the people in the B&O Play photograph.

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Travel sets

We're back!

Couple of days later than I'd planned, to be honest, but it was a particularly knackering journey back home on Saturday, including several hours at Stansted Airport, perhaps my least favourite place on Earth - though while running the gauntlet of the duty free shops, which go on for about the length of the Streatham High Road, I did spot this advert.

So who are B&O Play and what do they want from us? They're Bang & Olufsen of Leeds and as far as I can see they want us to play chess while listening to one of their devices, thereby no doubt ruining both experiences.

I've got a chess set like that though, which I bought at the end of Charles Bridge in Prague, albeit not this year but 1997. Leaving Prague after playing chess this year, I passed this set at the airport

tantalisingly out of reach, downstairs from Departures where I was headed. So where is it, Arrivals? Is there somewhere for your guests to wait when their plane's arrived and you need to finish your game?