Archive for September 15th, 2022

Off the cuff wins

Just look at that. Here I am writing about taking a break from chess across the board and then as soon as I finish a post, I decide on the spur of the moment to play a game or two on-line. And what happened? I only went and won both of them.

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Is your bum okay?

I’m assuming that you, too, use anal beads when you are playing chess, and perhaps, when you are not playing chess sometimes. I don’t. I don’t cheat. I don’t really do anything eyebrow raising -I think they call that getting old. Admittedly I wear glasses rather than rely on my eyesight but that’s hardly cheating. If, whilst reading the previous sentence you didn’t say to yourself ‘I love anal beads’ then read on please. Thankfully the ridiculousness of the latest allegations render it impossible for Niemann to be scarred by them. What a bummer if he was! And we shudder to think what the next allegations are going to be based on…bloody aliens coaching players or something asinine. And to conclude all I can say to you is get help if you can’t leave them anal beads alone. Try The Samaritans or something. The last thing we want is FIDE employing bottom inspectors from now on to cope with the emerging trend. My bum is okay. But yours, well you know better than I.

Just look at this creature of the night. What can we establish? He likes the dark. He likes being by himself. He likes posting on his blog when he doesn’t have anything to say, and he likes to think he is funny sometimes. I’m only half-naked as I type. The weekend is here but there isn’t much to do really, so there’s nothing noteworthy going down. I guess you could say I am the sum total of my parts and am very me. The life I lead has a certain distinctiveness about it and a rather resistant character about it. I could say this only applies to the weekend but it doesn’t. It’s bigger than that but for as long as I remain on top of things and am moving forwards, it’s okay. I never consciously chose to live my life like this but this is how its gone. Perhaps the faults outweigh the merits of the situation. Hard to be sure really. If you ask any loving father does he prefer to be apart from his family unit, he will most likely say no unless he has to. Well, I am an economic migrant and am staying one for some time to come. It’s not ideal but the deal I have is just about the best I can get. So for the foreseeable I am going to move between two separate countries. One is for work and the other family. There’s not really much I can do about it except remain grateful that things are moving forwards. Life is not perfect but then it never was. The rough with the smooth must be taken sometimes. The position I am in ticks a number of lager boxes, so it’s okay. Not perfect but okay.

So I am going to have to sign off here as I don’t really have anything to say. Calm and collected Mark says ‘until next time’ by which time I will still be off chess like I am now. In joyful isolation, I am signing off here.

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As mentioned in the previous post, a short essay on the benefits of chess proved to be an insightful addition to the lesson I taught today, which was ‘How to write an essay’ It was a case of mission accomplished with the work handed in of better quality than I was expecting. Now just in case you don’t believe me for whatever reason, I have attached some photos from today’s class. You can see me in action.

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In about two hours I have to go into work and teach the basics of how to write an essay. The focus is on structure and how to use topic sentences and supporting sentences in paragraphs. Last year I wrote a short essay on chess to illustrate what my students should be doing, roughly speaking. I’m going to use that same essay in today’s class and have posted it below.

Is chess a good game to play?

Every day there are millions of people playing chess. Some of them go to clubs to play and some of them like to play on line. Some people stay at home and play with their family. No matter what they do, there are people across the world playing chess all the time.

People like to play chess because there are many benefits to it. It can help you to think clearly and improve your concentrations levels. This is of great benefit to children because it can help them in school and think more easily about their studies. It can also help adults in their work because they can concentrate for longer periods more easily as well as when they travel to and from work. Another thing chess gives you is the skill to think ahead. In chess you have to think ahead so that you can make the right moves. In life skill can be used also and chess players are often good at thinking ahead more than people who don’t play chess. It can help them learn how to make decisions quickly and become more considerate over what they do in their life.

To conclude, there are many benefits from chess, which is why people around the world like to play it. Because of this, I think that chess is a good game to play and can be enjoyed by everyone.


That aside it’s almost 6 am.

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My daughter before she goes to school

Irrespective of how good you are at chess, you won’t transfer the skills you picked up and play them out in life itself, will you? Or will you? Perhaps more transferable are qualities such as improved concentration levels and overall ability to calculate more? And above all else success over the board pales in comparison to success in life…well these are the things I tell myself so that I don’t feel down over being something of an underachiever at the chessboard…it never really mattered anyway -yes that’s the spirit!

Having both a BA and an MA in Philosophy behind me, I suppose I ought to enquire into why things pan out how they do. I am compelled to question you could say and with regards to chess: my daughter was born out of my love of chess, and that is me done! Purpose in life is parental by nature, chess is nothing more than a hobby. I don’t know how varied chess-related goals are in life. Most players just want to improve their rating and get it as high as they can. I father a child whose very existence has come about because I met her mother at an international tournament. There’s nothing left for me to do: I am happy with my lot.

As we grow older, do we need to find reasons why we bother with things? Chess brought me a child, that’s enough for me, why others play on I don’t know. Presumably they just like it.

This evening I left my room unexpectedly. Dressed in casual clothes I walked to the nearest supermarket and bought some washing powder. When I returned I washed one and only one item of clothing -I wear it now. I wear it in the middle of the night, amidst solitude. But solitude is okay if you like your own company, and on the whole, I am pretty good at entertaining myself. It doesn’t matter what hour it is, all that matters is I am on line.

Above all else, the burning question is what did we get from chess? I have a child, and I reckon that can’t be beaten. Titles and rating points pale into insignificance over what I have. Not boastful just contented.

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Should you be enthusiastic enough about the modern game to follow the main events, you may well know that another is right around the corner. Another Champions Chess tour will commence soon with many of the usual suspects in play. We do have the current world champion participating as well as the name on everyone’s lips GM Hans Niemann. No doubt a great very many will tune in for that clash for reasons well publicized this month.

Let us hope that the world champion clears up some points regarding his departure from the Sinquefield, and let us hope he remains human and dispels some of the gossip flying around. Cheating is extremely rare in OTB chess but the fear and paranoia generated from accusations levied is disproportionate to the impact on a tournament. Surely it is time to move on before it becomes an embarrassment, and an even bigger source of amusement to the non-chess playing world than what it already is.

What needs to be addressed is why the world champion is refusing to explain why he withdrew. He must surely know that GM Niemann has been harmed by the accusations made, and so with maturity it really ought to be time to set the record straight and move on -well let’s hope so.

As it stands I am taking a break from chess and so won’t be following the event. I go to bed very early these days, thus making the coverage past my bedtime, and not something I can stay up for. How beneficial taking a break is I don’t know. It matters not as there is nothing happening OTB, and since when was on line chess ever worth taking so seriously, especially with regards to blitz. The closest I come to thinking about chess deeply is when I teach essay writing, as I use an example of the benefits of chess to illustrate how essays should be structured to my students. It’s an essay I wrote last year and the only real focal point of chess in my life. If events were shown earlier in the day, perhaps that would change matters, then perhaps not.

Should you wish to follow the event live, may I suggest you follow the commentary team headed by GM David Howell. He’s very good but more to the point his team bring home the point that following the modern game is a full time job. Yes, it’s an all or nothing approach I am afraid as opening theory is so deep now, you need to be fully on board or if not then blown away by the complexity of the modern game.

So I’m afraid I won’t be giving running reports of what’s coming up, like was the case with the Olympiad, which in itself was fantastic. Let us hope that this time the world champion doesn’t disappear without explanation and some great chess in played. Don’t ask me what we would do without youtube, just don’t go there.

Here, I sit in a dark room alone. The country I am fielded a team at the Olympiad so weak that I could beat the entire team if I wanted to. I sit listening to Dutch trance, content with my own company and happy to write as always. Everything is stable and secure, and I am content with myself. Chess is, after all, only a hobby. Sometimes work takes centre stage, as indeed it should. So sitting alone late at night in the dark is fine. Ultimately, my goal in life is to be a good father, and so all that dovetails around that takes priority over a hobby. It’s all good despite the fact I have little to say…just thought I would touch base.

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