Archive for September, 2020

In having what is known as an OMD (Organic Mental Disorder) which lends itself to a convoluted account of brain damage -I have to take medication. And since the hospital I go to is on the same train line and the chess club, I thought I’d try and kill two birds with one stone. I didn’t quite have the time, and upon arrival at the chess club, it was evident I was simply too tired to play in a blitz tournament, so I went home. Then something telling occured. After two hours had passed with some hard cycling concluding it, you’d think I would be even more tired and ready for bed. Instead I went and played chess on-line. Why would I do that? The answer came quickly. I am a loner. I shy away from the company of others in favour of solitude, for the most part. And so it was, sat down alone after a shower, I was at home and up for it. I could contrate on what I was doing and not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of blitz. Given that chess is a game of concentration, it lends itself more to the peace and quiet of home more so than the workings of a busy Irish bar with some cover band playing songs the original artists didn’t do a very good job of. How anyone can prioritise pop of metal is beyond me…tapped in the head I suppose!

Had me attire on as I headed into the city and still so when a cream-crackered managed to make it home all done in. City life: sometimes you bite off more than you chew, maddening crowds inescapable always…

Commuting a good 26 hours a day on packed skytrains. Medication I am under doctor’s order for. Cream-crackers pumping through the blood. Turning my back on bitz in search of solitude. Gifts for Grace and smiles all round. Peace and quiet lent itself to a game or two. Midnight stuck. Nothing left to say…


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I think I can hold it for the simple reason I can generate counter play.

If I stick the king on d6, I can push the e-pawn when the time is right. Whether I am right or not, I shall find out in due course. I also have the option of pushing the f-pawn to slow my opponent up.

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In three days’ time my child will be eight. Being the eighteenth of September, I had to get some OTB practice at the chess club tonight because so many games have been played on-line. I just had to see where I was against old friends in a familiar setting. So bike it to the skytrain I did, rain or no rain it mattered not. Of late I have shied away from a Friday evening saunter into the city from the simple reason that I dislike blitz, and blitz is all that they play. Three minutes with a two second increment isn’t anywhere near enough for a game of chess to be played. And given that I wasn’t even quick enough for it in my youth, why try my hand some thirty years on? But anyway I felt compelled to go since I’ve clocked up around five hundred games in the last five months, and my results have steadily improved. Before play began I felt content and focused, curious to see how the night would unfold. In my first game I checkmated someone in the opening with the Vienna Gambit and won the following four games with ease, putting me on five out of five. Though a queen up, I lost the sixth game on time, then the bubble burst and fatigue suddenly reared its ugly head. Of the seven participants, four were better than I; two noticeably, two only just yet they concurred I outplayed them all, being a queen up in two games lost whilst failing to finish my opponent off in due time. In two games I ran short on ideas and found the unfamiliarity of uncertainty uncomfortable. I became less clinical and errors crept in. And so I ended up with only six out of twelve.

I was number four and unbothered by the fact I didn’t win outright, sure that what I was told was true: I outplayed everyone and had them all in very serious trouble. What I had hoped for most of all was that I played with the same directness I play on-line against lesser opponents with. And that I did, which in itself constituted proof that a fundamental change in approach is well in progress. Kai -number six on the tournament table- is a well-known tournament organizer, international arbiter and a strong player indeed, having beaten a number of Grandmasters. But to me he symbolizes consequentialism like no one else can. He is the personification of the theory repudiates the positions upheld by the dominant paradigms upholding ethics.

Once upon a time, when both Kai and I arrived early at the chess club the week after the Bangkok Chess Club Open of 2011 had ended, I asked him about a member of staff who helped with the organization. Of course I didn’t know that he employed her, and that she managed his main business at the time. And because she did a good job, he showed me her facebook account. Could I have even guessed the consequences to follow would result in the said employee and I bringing a child into the world the following year having already married? I very much doubt it and rightly so for who would expect such a thing from something oh-so-incidental, something done out of courtesy only. When born we named our daughter Grace (Hitchcockian me points out the name honours Grace Kelly). I insisted she did not have a middle name, meaning that her initials were GM, making her the youngest GM in the world, upon birth and perhaps for a few minutes more also.

You understand consequentialism as being the theory that both stands in opposition to and functions as a valid critique of deontological ethics yes? And indeed you should for it does. I learnt it from Professor Dan. Hutto as an undergrad back in the nineties. The main premise being that we can never judge an act in terms of goodness or moral worth for the consequences of an action are, ‘have like a domino-effect’ Dan said surely. We just don’t know where they will end thus cannot judge them for what may initially be beneficial or advantageous to an individual may have consequences of a far worse nature. Indeed, even modern-day Britain has a helpline for those who win the lottery and become millionaires. Fome some it is the beginning of the end, as the avalanche of difficulties triggered by it are deathly, when those you know only want you for your money and come in for the kill.

Putting Kai to one side, what did I learn from this evening? I learnt that the bottom line remains unchanged. I never was cut out for tournament play and never will be -end of story. Twelve games in the space of two hours was too much for me to bear and my performances tailed off towards the end. The drawn out nature of the birthday party in the floor below, and the love music accompanying it didn’t exactly help -of that everyone became tired. I did learn that my style has changed because my play is indeed more direct than ever. But I also learnt against noticeably stronger opposition, I need more experience to steady the ship more so than I have already done. I reflected upon whether chess really is a game dictated by character, and was reminded that in my youth the only thing I became proud of was not that I improved my skills but that I became solid and hard to beat. Losing carried more weight than winning; grinding out hard fought draws against stronger opponents was something I became good at Decades ago -steely resolve and solidity still both identity-conferring. The more I gravitate towards them, the more wholesome my play will be in time…

It would appear that next Friday there will be an official FIDE rated blitz tournament. Let us hope this evening was a good warm up. And let us hope the late night road home has no rain, much drier roads, no flooding and less construction.

Kai be him opposite camera and opposite opponent wielding a european passport, a can of coke, and forgettable FIDE rating as video starts. I be man hold camera being deafened to deaf by dodgy covers of songs that were never any good, even when played by those who wrote the buggers. If you watched the clip, in all probability your concluding remarks were wtf!


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The answer is less obvious than you think. It’s not necessarily 2 since in binary it would be 10. So what did more practice + a change in approach = ? It equalled this:

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Rust removal no longer required. Directness creates pressure, pressure causes collapse…

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Why you shouldn’t take the gambit pawn.

Something I bought in the mid 80s

I visited Vienna in 97. It is still today one of the most beautiful cities I have been to…

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I’m in a state of sworn silent swinehood, being well and truly disgruntled! Why? Because I am learning the hard way that starting competitive chess at 0030, six hours ahead of your opponent is massively disadvantageous. Maintaining your highest level of concentration at 2-3 am -the wee hours as they are known colloquially -is a very big ask even for those saddle sore with hyper mania. Don’t get me wrong, the normative aspects of daily life are…are fatigue-free but to raise the bar at that time -no way! And for the second time consecutively, I could neither raise my game nor play as directly as I normally do. Common sense dictates to play at your peak, play during the afternoon or early evening. Don’t leave it until past midnight, that’s time for hours of sleep not hours of competitive chess. From last night I learnt that tiredness over-simplifies your decision making process. If your thought process becomes less robust, errors creep in because you become less diligent and aren’t checking as much as you should be. In sum, that’s the principle reason why I lost: whilst sleepy I became sloppy. Ah well, I tried at the end of a long day but it just wasn’t quite enough. At least after I realized I had made a mistake, I went on the front foot. Credit to my opponent for making my kingside attack look rather flimsy. I lost but learnt from it -a pyrrhic victory of sorts you could say… .


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With seven hours to go only, I am quite excited about representing the South of England as we compete against the North of England, a match which last occured 126 years ago. Given the current climate, the match has to be held on-line, and once again I am six hours ahead, meaning I will most likely be playing at gone 3am again.

Details of the match can be found in both below:

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With 107 boards that means 214 English men will compete against each other. The North of England is the slightly stronger team, with an overall average rating of 139, given that the South of England has an overall average rating of 132. There’s a noticeable difference between the two teams on the top ten boards but it evens out the further down you go. My opponent’s rating being exactly the same as mine on board 51. Seven points is not a big difference but perhaps the strength at the top is what will bring home victory for the North of England.

There are four players from Bedfordshire competing, I have the black pieces and am sincerely hoping for 1. e4, in which case my opponent is in for quite a shock! It’s a very passive opening I play but being played by a southern softy it’s not. I know it very well and know what to target, how to transpose and when, if necessary. There is, in fact, very little left to learn regarding that opening, so in all probability I will come out of the opening with a slightly better position or one relatively equal but leading to a type of middlegame I have much more experience with than him.

Whether he remains a happy mathematician should he see this played against him remains to be seen!


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After years without one, I changed tack and put a signature at the end of my posts on the forum I’m always on. I thought it was funny at first but then perhaps a bit silly, so came up with one more to the point, and closer to the mark.




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The British have a long history of empire expansion across the globe, transforming primitive lands into nations with majestic urban design regaling colonial architecture where institutes of higher learning learning were built along avenues with parks and leisure facilities aplenty. British India was, for the longest time, considered the jewel in the crown of the British Empire. The Raj was where Queen Victoria was described as ‘The Empress of India’ -isn’t that quaint? Well if not, it’s what the text books taught us at school.

But being the postmodern historian I am it goes without saying that I have to draw attention to the point that ‘history’ and ‘the past’ are categorically distinct, and usually miles apart. If I were salaried by the Oxbridge network and fearful of losing my post as lecturer, I’d also conveniently consign the fact that queen Victoria never went there once, that the locals were treated like slaves if not worse, and that over five million of them died of cholera whilst trying to build pavilions for English cricketers, and clubhouses for polo players. Such points I would consign to trivialities glossed over nicely enough: emphasizing how we British educated and civilized a land of savages and cannibals, something we should be proud of. Adding how we gave them our language, our pastimes, untold riches, our cultural inheritance too, for this is what British people want to hear thus less likely to result in my dismissal. We have a reputation to uphold and don’t need to be shown how we treated them like shit, stole everything they had and destroyed the lives of thousands. Proof of how the aristocracy flourished in The Raj can be found in the following game below. I have here two outstanding gentleman, both of impeccable manners and highly skilled at chess. Recordings of their conversation during play has been found, and so I have found one of their recorded games and added their commentary on top. Although I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, this took some doing and is exquisite. Converted to christianity, well-established in the textile industry, these two gents went on to become Viceroys of their respective states, they exude class and exemplify post-game analysis at its finest. If there’s something the British should be proud of, exemplifying how an intellectual pursuit is rendered discursive by those born into a region without industrialization is it. The video below is from a game played in the late 1850’s, the gentlemen conduct themselves accordingly, even though when a blunder is referred to, it is done in a gentlemanly manner.

Well worth a listen even if I do say so myself. Britishness abroad, exemplifying the finery of intellectual pursuit amongst the aristocracy of The Raj. I should add some audio -given it’s age- is missing, and some moves are missing also but the game, played in Calcutta, has been preserved. Being a postmodern historian, I like to do history, please watch the video below, it exemplifies the continental importation of Victorian England wonderfully. The language expressed is everything you’d expect from courteous post-game analysis on a veranda where only the gentry lazed in late afternoon sun -see! Even we postmodernists can be captivated by the quaintness of the past!

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