Friday 30 November 2018

Les Chesseurs Britanniques de Paris: Part 9 Initial Confusion Resolved

One year on since the last episode, this is a belated addition to the sequence of posts recovering the forgotten story of the British Chess Club of Paris. The Club flourished in the City of Light from 1926 up to the War of 1939-45 providing chessic divertissements for ex-pat and visiting British players. It joined the local leagues, took part in Parisian/French chess administration, and ran its own internal tournaments. Through lean years and years of plenty, the BCCP kept the flag flying for les jouers d'√©checs britanniques - although chess wasn't their only amusement: they enjoyed a bon repas as well...  


The Club's most high profile event was a team consultation game-by-cable against the Manhattan Chess Club in 1931 (the BCCP lost). There was a fulsome account of the event in the British Chess Magazine, probably submitted by the Club's enthusiastic publicity manager George Langelaan (the originator of the spoof coat-of-arms above). Post-war he became a sci-fi author best known for The Fly; he also wrote (in French) a chess-themed robo-shocker. Among other members of the Club there were - for greater or lesser periods of time - one-time Scottish Champion H.K. Handasyde, then domiciled in Paris; Laurent Henry Mortimore who went on to serve with distinction in the war (to be decorated by both the British and the French, as was Langelaan also); and briefly - before he was expelled from France as a spy - the notorious and self-promoting occultist Alesteir Crowley. He was a decent player, as he was the first to admit; though it is doubtful that he was good enough to beat Tartakover in a Paris league match as he claimed - even with the spirited assistance of "the Baron" (who Crowley consulted in the gents).

We also came across a Mr Wechsler, who briefly played for the BCCP in 1929. Notwithstanding the generous help of Dominique Thimongier of the authoratitive Heritage des Echecs Francais, we couldn't quite pin down his actual name among the chess-playing Wechsler family, three of whom were active on the British chess scene in the 1920s and 1930s. They played with various and confusing initials, sometimes in the same events.

So which of them was it who séjourned in Paris? And why? Now the truth about the Wechsler of the BCCP can be told.

Wednesday 28 November 2018

Lucky Thirteen

I think on reflection I agree with myself.

On principle I'm not against tie-breaks, as a system it seems - in and of itself - better than the alternatives, but as with penalty kicks in football, the problem arises when the tie-break system begins to affect the match itself, to such an extent that the match almost becomes subordinate to the tie-breaker.

Whether we've reached that point or not is a matter of debate. For all I know the next match is going to finish 5-3 with four draws and we'll wonder what all the fuss was about. What isn't a matter of debate, I don't think is that if there wasn't a tie-break coming up, this

doesn't happen.

It's the moment we've all been waiting for - the last game, the match level, one player pressing, one player fighting for his life, and really there shouldn't be anywhere to go from here but play.

So maybe there shouldn't be anywhere to go from here, no escape route, no play-offs.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

A billion reasons never to believe what Ilya Merenzon says

Anybody remember when, in 2015, Kirsan wanted there to be a billion chess players within "five or six years"?

We made it! In only half the time! Well, that's our "audience", anyway.

But why only one? Why not two? Seven? A hundred billion billion chess fans on all the planets of the Milky Way?

Monday 26 November 2018

Forty Years On

Hey, when I posted yesterday I assumed Ray's new book was going to be some kind of Hardinge Simpole nonsense.

But no! It turns out that he's writing for an almost reputable publisher.

When I say "almost reputable", I mean "disreputable" of course, which is to say that since most of Ray's prodigious thieving has taken place from Everyman authors, it's pretty tawdry of them to publish the thief in question, not that we would expect any better.

I see from the cover that Byron's on board, presumably to do any actual writing that's required, not that that's likely to be very much. I think we all assume this is going to be a cut-and-paste job, with "History of the World Chess Championship" looking like the giveaway here.

Anyway, one wonders what this is about - presumably, on one level at least, it's an attempt to relive his controversial glories from forty years ago

when his instant book set him on a path of writing tat that has kept him going, between schemes and scams, ever since.

But I guess behind that, there's some desire to become respectable again, to be somebody who doesn't have to rely on the company of his dubious friends to assure him that he's not an embarrassment. And maybe we have to watch out for that, because if you ask me, there's plenty of people in English chess who would welcome him back tomorrow, on the grounds that it doesn't matter who he's stolen from, as long as he hasn't stolen from them.

But what Everyman's excuse is, God only knows.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Thursday 22 November 2018

Three of a kind

Good to see the sort of people Nigel's hanging about with now he's a man of influence.

Monday 19 November 2018

600 million reasons Professor Tyler Cowen should know better

Oh God, not again.

Who is it this time?

It's Tyler Cowen, who is an actual professor of economics and an actual chess player

and should therefore know better. But he doesn't.

No, he hasn't made the claim himself: but he's reported it, uncritically, without so much as a link to support it and without so much as a word to cast doubt on it.

Which is something, I reckon, he shouldn't do, either as a chess player or a professor of economics.

So why did he?

Let's ask him.

Friday 16 November 2018

The Other Chess Action

While Magnus and Fabiano were squaring up for Game 2 last Saturday, there was some other chess action not a mile away - at the Wallace Collection, where Rupert Dickens took us on a masterly tour de force of Chess in Art: not an easy thing to pitch to an audience of art lovers (with, perhaps, no particular skill in the game) and chess players (with, perhaps, only a sketchy appreciation of the genre). However, our guide excelled in both departments and never looked like falling off the tight rope, though we were all relieved at the early reassurance that it was not to be a seven-hour torture.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

"Some blonde"

Right, but was anybody actually surprised that Rex Sinquefield should speak boorishly about women?

He's a sinister political figure and if you wanted to know what he thinks about women, you could do worse than check out how he responded to Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remarks:

He doesn't get much scrutiny, for reasons we all understand. But when we don't talk about the people who give us money, because they give us money, what does that make us?

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Pop go the weasels

Whose crony is who?

Since reform of FIDE is underway, I wonder if the old slogan, gens una sumus, could be replaced with....well I'm afraid my Latin (O-Level, Grade B, 1981) isn't what it once was, so how do you translate it doesn't matter if you're a thief as long as you steal from someone else?

Monday 12 November 2018

Thirty-Minute Theatre

This is quite an eye-opener.

This is pretty special too.

I'd be surprised if this was entirely within the law, although I don't suppose we'll ever find out - even if anybody were to try their luck in court I don't suppose there'll be much trace of AGON as a functioning organisation once this match is over.

I was going to say something like "and that was always the plan", but I don't imagine there's ever been a "plan", as such, just a way of doing things, and this is it.

This is, obviously, right:

It's not incompetence because it's not an accident. And the disinterest in paying spectators has always been an overt feature of the business model, ever since AGON first emerged at Simpson's, six years ago - at an event closed to the public.

Maybe it'd have been better if they did it that way, than charge seventy nicker for half an hour of chess. Either way is a monumental screw you to the chessplaying public. Go on, get these people hence.

Sunday 11 November 2018

Comprehensible commentary

I am asked:

Where might it be found?

Saturday 10 November 2018

Leko of the past

According to Bryan Arnem Graham in the Guardian


Only if you forget about Peter Leko.

- - - - -

Mind you, memories do fail us sometimes...

Friday 9 November 2018

Pre match interview

From Ray's Twitter:

Pre match indeed:

Monday 5 November 2018

600 million and one reasons not to read Brin-Jonathan Butler

Some clown called Brin-Jonathan Butler has written a book about the last world championship match. Can I be bothered even to give you the title or put an image up?

I cannot.

Why not?

Because the author is interviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books, and here's a passage from the interview.

Yes, indeed.
the world’s 600 million active chess players.
That's as far as I felt I needed to read: if you don't know any better than that, you don't know enough to be worth reading. Simple as that.

The name rang a bell though. Where had I seen that name before?

Ah yes. "It's really good."

It really isn't.

EDIT: There's more.

Friday 2 November 2018

Or not

The new CHESS is out

and there's eleven pages available for anyone to read, including Malcolm's editorial (of which more, possibly, at a later date) and a bunch of book reviews, among which can be found a short review of yet another book by Cyrus Lakdawala, the worst chess writer publishing in English. A very short review.

Still, it probably took longer to write than the book did.

Anyway, for some reason an Amazon ad for the book turned up on my screen earlier so I took a little glance via the Look Inside function and -

- Good Lord, he's quoting Shakespeare again.

Or to get it right (as Lakdawala does not) he's misquoting Shakespeare again.