Friday 29 March 2019


It was my wife's birthday on Sunday, and as we were due to be working in Madrid in the coming week, we went up a day early, had lunch in a couple of bars near the Rastro and then had a walk round the Manzanares, beginning at the abandoned Vicente Calderón

dead football stadium

and spotting, to our surprise, some turtles on the way.

live turtles

As we were going to the pictures in the evening, we left the riverbank to go over up the hill that takes you to the area, just off the Plaza de España, where there are several cinemas, and just before we reached the railway bridge

we had a second surprise. By the side of the road, a small group of people had set up a homemade chessboard, with a set of plastic pieces.

So I did what you would have done, which was to wander up to the players in the hope - rewarded, as it happens - of being invited to play a game.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Is this really a good way to promote women's chess? II

Well said.

It would be good to see less of this kind of tat in the future.

And, for that matter, this.

Monday 18 March 2019


There's a Twitter account I follow and a Tweet last week happened to catch my eye.

If you have the sound on you might have recognised Baba O'Riley and you might even recognise the meme, though I confess I find this example a particuarly obscure rendering. But never mind that -

- what's this?

It's this.

I've never come across that cover before.

I've never come across the position before either, though I've been close once or twice.

Saturday 16 March 2019

Three out of four

I logged on relatively early on Thursday for the last round of the World Team Championship, I guess an hour or so in, which is relatively early when it's kicked off at seven in the morning, Anyway I checked Chessbomb for early results and I could see that there were three of them, all in the Azerbaijan v Egypt match.

Naiditsch-Amin on board one had already finished early in a popular repetition

as indeed had Adly-Mamedov on board two, in another popular repetition

one so popular, in fact, that you could also see it on board four, in Hesham-Safarli.

Guseinov and Fawzy still seemed to be playing on board three, so I took a look, expecting to see another draw unfold before my very eyes.

Not a bit of it.

In fact I'm not totally sure whether it was before or after Black's twelfth when I looked in, but it's not of any importance, since the game was pretty much up already

and had been for a couple of moves.

So what's going on there then?

Friday 15 March 2019

Chess in Art Revisits 3. Dorothea Tanning

This Revisit is to Tate Modern for the splendid retrospective of Dorothea Tanning (1910 - 2012) who passed away just a few years ago, but not before we had the chance - back in 2010 - to wish her 'Happy Birthday' on the occasion of her 100th. The exhibition runs until June 9th, so plenty of time to catch it. She has been insufficiently appreciated, perhaps, on this side of the pond, yet offers many treats - if you like her sort of thing.

Wednesday 13 March 2019


Oh really?

One wonders which instances of players "sometimes" yelling Zugzwang Robert Macfarlane has in mind.

[Vaguely relevant]

Friday 8 March 2019

Chess in Art Revisits 2. Tom Hackney

For the second of these Chess in Art Revisits, we catch up with Tom Hackney, about whom we have blogged frequently during his Chess in Art career (since 2012 in fact; see full list appended below). Back in January Tom was exhibiting at the London Art Fair, where we had a chance for a chat.

Tuesday 5 March 2019

Follow by

I was saying just yesterday that carelessness is a Ray characteristic. There's a million examples to choose from, but here's a nice one from his Spectator column from the last issue but one, in which Ray annotates the game Artemiev v Nakamura from Gibraltar.

Better put, in which the game Artemiev v Nakamura from Gibraltar is annotated.

Not that Ray is pretending it's all his own work.

Based on? They surely are.

Gibraltar bulletin

After a couple of early notes of Ray's own making, most of what follows from move 21 onwards is straightforward copying out.

Ray in the Spectator

Well, that's what Ray does, it's what he's been doing for forty years. I particularly like this example, though, because, the Gibraltar bulletin being prepared for publication quite quickly, it contains, understandably enough, a couple of obvious errors. (Happens here all the time.)

But - and I do love this - although Ray is happy to change a word here and there just to make it look like he's doing some original work, he's left the errors entirely intact.

Monday 4 March 2019

Examining the examiner

Coming back to Ray's fake charity, the Brain Trust, and its accounts, I mentioned before that up to year ending 31 March 2016 the accounts were examined by the accountancy firm Blick Rothenburg, but not subsequently.

This might help explain a couple of things, one of which1 might be the deterioration in quality of the 2017 accounts in particular, perhaps best illustrated by the fantastic upside-down, back-to-front page that appears there, giving the impression that whoever submitted them didn't really know what they were doing.

Other examples, of various kinds, include the section numbers skipping from 14 to 16, missing out 15

the retention of an x where there ought to be a specific figure

and a failure of arithmetic (it's £90,333).

Or from the latest accounts, year ending 31 March 2018, there's an inability to get the name right of one of the grant-receiving entities

and getting the wrong date for Eric Schiller's death (it was 3 November). Really you'd think they'd get that right.

But this kind of carelessness is of course a Ray characteristic. It might also be the sort of thing a professional would put right before approving and submitting the accounts. So why deprive yourself of their useful services? One possible reason might be the difference in remuneration due to the Independent Examiner, which hopped up to four grand in Blick Rothenburg's last year

and then hopped down.

Another possible reason might be that the new Independent Examiner, David Massey, doesn't just come cheap, but doesn't appear either to be independent, or to do any examination. Why would you care that all the major grants go to Ray's old friends and business partners, when you're one of them?

Friday 1 March 2019

Chess in Art Revisits 1. John Ruskin

Chess in Art has been a bit thin on the ground recently. However, a few things of interest have popped up that encourage several visits to our back-catalogue (here and here) - which we'll do over the next few weeks.