Archive for December, 2015


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Here’s another carefully selected example from Dr. Nunn that shows how difficult King and Pawn endgames are. Take the following position for example, I doubt whether a strong GM could find the solution in blitz.


It’s white to play and win. Take your time and make an effort to discard the more obvious moves. Carefully scroll down if you need the answer.


Understanding Chess Endgames, pg.15. 



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At approximately 5.49 am this morning, I sat by the window on the bus to work as it drove across the desert in the gloom and had an epiphany. Not yet awake, I was staring at the following position on my smart phone.


I am white and it is from a correspondence game which I started last week. I love the grand prix attack and spent a quiet few mins deliberating over whether to kick the knight with e5 or play the more standard f5. But instead of being able to perform basic calculations I was struck by the beauty of the position and how imbalanced it is.

Just thought I’d share that.

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In case you missed it, here’s some quality journalism from the BBC. It discusses the chess phenomenon in Armenia and asks why such a small nation is so successful. Is Armenia the cleverest nation on earth? I don’t know but they are certainly the smartest in the Caucasus.

Here’s the link:

You may need to be in the UK to listen, in which case the BBC iPlayer Proxy in you are a google chrome user. You can find it from the google chrome store.

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I grow warm, I begin to feel happy. There is nothing extraordinary in this, it is a small happiness of Nausea: it spreads at the bottom of the viscous puddle, at the bottom of out time – the time of purple suspenders, and broken chair seats; it is made of white, soft instants, spreading at the edge, like an oil stain. No sooner than born, it is already old, it seems as though I have known it for twenty years.

Jean Paul Satre, Nausea

Kents Athletic Club, Luton’s sole surviving chess hub is to close after nearly 40 years. It’s a typical story in modern day England; with a back drop of cultural decline, rising costs and dwindling numbers make the venue no longer financially viable. It is to be bulldozed, then someone will plonk a block of apartments on it most probably. This means that Luton, a town of over 200,000, will no longer have a chess club when the new year begins. Thankfully yours truly, though thousands of miles away, is not going to allow that.

The critical state of the chess club itself -almost bankrupt and without enough members to make ONE team, if you can believe that – has meant that the club and its demoralized members are struggling to find a new venue. Chess teaches us that risks should always be taken from a position of strength and not weakness, and so uprooting in such a desperate position could spell the end. But there are times when it is necessary to act quickly and confidently; it took me just three hours to find a solution and a new home for the club, much to the delight of the club secretary. The second phase is to readvertise and start promoting chess locally to attract members lost due to the poor playing conditions of recent years -that’s the easy part. We once had access to the ballroom at Kents, then we were pushed into the lounge, then into a tiny room at the back of an extension, much to the disgust of every visiting team. It is they more than anyone who will welcome the change of venue.

I might even fly in for the handover as the logistics of moving to a new venue are frightfully complicated, as the predicted conversation below suggests.

J =John (former friend)

M = Me

M ‘Easy geezer.’

J ‘Alright Mark, you alright?’

M ‘Yeah, alright mate yeah…er ya got those keys for that room then?’

J ‘Nah, never lock it mate, just go in yeah.’

M ‘Ah cheers.’

J ‘No worries mate…oh, er what dya’ wannit for again?’

M ‘Just some chess innit, we won’t wreck the joint, don’t worry.’

J ‘Ya better not, just off for a quick slash yeah, let us know if ya need anyfink.’

M ‘Yeah cheers.’

Let us hope that the new year brings revival for Luton Chess Club, it certainly needs it.

Where shall I keep mine? You don’t put your past in your pocket; you have to have a house. I have only my body: a man entirely alone, with his lonely body, cannot indulge in memories; they pass through him. I shouldn’t complain: all I wanted was to be free.

Jean Paul Satre, Nausea



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From page 57 of Hendricks Move First, Think Later, Chapter 6 Pattern-like Knowledge. The following position is a good example of how we look for patterns in chess and fail to see solutions that do not fit into those. See if you can find the draw for white here, I know I certainly couldn’t. It’s white to play and save the game.


Hopefully you’ve made a genuine attempt to find the draw but here’s the solution anyway.


I think what’s tricky about that is that it looks like checkmate is in the air prima facie rather than stalemate.

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With an absolute stack of books and magazines on order from yesteryear, I thought I might share where I get them from. If you’re interested in antique, rare or out of print books as well as much chess paraphernalia that is quite ungoogleable, you could do a lot worse than click on the links below. Each bookstore I have used many times and can verify their professionalism and trustworthiness -just don’t go buying up all the best offers now!

Norwich’s own Glynn’s Bookstore allegedly visited by Alan Partridge in search of Golding’s Lord of the Flies whilst researching the ‘numero one’ of radio debates in 1990’s England: that being, who was the best lord – Lord of The Rings, Lord of the Dance or Lord of the Flies. Click below for the answer.

Tony’s Bookstore or They deliver worldwide, including Kazakhstan. Here Borat talks about the inherently ambiguous term the Soviet School of Chess…or does he?

Lastly, Dale Brandreth’s site or They will sell books to anyone, even author and former Monopoly champ Giles Brandreth, whose career took a nose-dive into politics when he became a member of Parliament. Here is the verbose champ below, showing us all why Britain has fallen into decline. Monopoly fans take note that Brandreth’s book on Monopoly has never been bettered…admittedly, the clip below is intriguing. Brandreth claims that chess is English in origin…or does he?

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Courtesy of MemoryChess

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As you would expect, The Telegraph has presented us with a well-written article on gender difference -or lack thereof- in chess.

Even though more women are taking up our beautiful game than ever before, they still face chauvinism from some of its more old-fashioned practitioners. Journalist Rachel Halliwell makes two noted members of that club appear quite foolish in her article, and equally as effortlessly, dispels a number of gender based myths that pervade chess. An incisive riposte -journalism at its finest.

For a philosophical take on the same topic, you could also try reading McCready’s own post here:

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