Archive for December, 2019

Proffered advice…

How can an academic not condemn chess literature as being nothing more than decadent and overrun by charlatans? How can an academic not become giddy with excitement when they purchase a publication written by a Grandmaster who is an effective writer and well-educated too? Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking ‘Mark/Marcus, it’s not yet April 1st, please drop the silly jokes.’ However, some Grandmasters are well-educated and aren’t the archetypal one-trick pony which almost all GMs are. Some possess knowledge about the world beyond the chess board, and far more importantly, the means to communicate it too. They are few and far between but they do exist, I assure you….yes I know you think I am joking but I am not, please read on.

Enter the Scotsman with letters both before his name and after, Mr. Jonathan Rowson. An ex-British champion who is smart enough to learn there is much more to life than some old board game. If you are a typical chess player, your reaction will be to home in on his rating and remain incapable of thinking about anything else until you have worked it out, at which point you will think something along the lines of him being just another sub 2700 player or something like that.

Some Grandmasters are actually well-educated and can write well despite having never broken into the Super GM substrata. Should you be interested in what a well-educated GM has to say about life and chess, than Mr.Rowson is your man. You might want to ask whether myself being a Philosopher too induces a bias I cannot overcome? No it doesn’t for I am a part-time practising philosopher only, it’s only post-modern history that I preach and not philosophy…definitely not philosophy.

You may have encountered Rowson before you may not. You may want to follow suit and purchase what you see below you may not.


As a genre, chess literature is something we must remain suspicious of at all times, and so when we find something both highly educational and well worth reading, its worth sharing…

Enjoy. Won’t cost you much. He’s very smart. A very effective writer. He has a lot to say. He loves to write…what have you got to lose?

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Cajoled when rusty, I sheepishly agreed to play the first competitive chess in three years and did surprisingly well with three wins from four games. In the first, my opponent resigned with a shake of my hand and sincere smile, stating the manner in which he lost involved the most clever trap he’s ever seen. There’s no doubting I finished the game in quick fashion but there was no trap involved and I told him so. I always play intuitively and believe firmly that evaluation triumphs over calculation, and herein lies a proof.

Firstly I confused him with a set up I played in the early 90s and recently rediscovered, courtesy of the following link.

I reached the following position and was quite comfortable. My opponent admitted he didn’t know what to do -his piece placement appears to back that up. I have the black pieces and was expecting Bb7, Qc7, and 0-0-0, just like Petrosian used to play.


I gained control of the centre easily enough then reached the following position. It’s not won yet but I did notice if he repositions his knight he will lose immediately, and that’s why I moved my king next.


I played 25…Kd6 inducing 26. Ne4. This he played so I returned my king to e7, expecting him to misplace his knight, which he then did. He played Nc5, cutting off the rooks and attacking an undefended bishop. It looks pretty but it’s not. I can drop the exchange and get it back straight away with a strong positional edge anytime I like. And I didn’t see one false move from him will cost him the game immediately -and that’s exactly what happened. So it went 26. Ne4+ Ke7 27. Nc5 ?! Rc2xc5 28 dxc5 Rd8+. I calculated Kc1 only, thinking I would regain the exchange with a better rook and a dominant position. I didn’t see Kc2 and was fortunate enough to find it was ‘one false move’. and only that 29 Kc2 ?? Bd3+ 30. Kb3 Bxb1 31. Rxb1 Rd3+ 32. resigns… .


The final position.

Had I seen all that, indeed a nasty trap was set and sprung. But I didn’t see it all, I just focused on piece improvement and utilized that only. Nonetheless, my Austrian opponent remained exceedingly respectful. He was complimentary but unjustifiably so I think.

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Courtesy of a source who shall remain anonymous, I have a portrait of William Ward. Local readers may well have learnt from perusing this site he was born in St. Albans in 1867 but lived in Luton for almost all of the first three decades of his life. He went on to champion the Atheneum club in London and the City of London club itself. He finished joint 2nd in the British Championships twice, and represented Great Britain in the Anglo-American cable matches long before we all had a plethora of expensive electronic devices at our disposal. Should you wish to know more about him, then by all means find the Bedfordshire Chess and Chess History categories, which is where he hangs out or alternatively click here.


Mr. William Ward


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Here’s two videos from her first tournament. I will be playing with her in the next one. Below both, a picture of I watching on appears.


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If six hour sessions most nights constitutes being heavily caught up in a writing project, then I am. And focusing on it so intensely it is having a profound impact on my life. The post itself details in great length what I did and didn’t gain from chess in my youth. In writing it I became fully aware of the fact that chess had a far larger impact on who I was than anything else in my youth, and forever thereafter for that matter. It is clear what my goal in life now is, and that is to inspire my daughter to become a stronger player than I was…and so the preparation begins. She goes to a chess school, here is an excerpt from her first lesson. It’s in Thai but you can follow the action easily enough. The amusing irony here is that Grace opens with the move I played most of my life.

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