Archive for September 18th, 2020


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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