Archive for April, 2023

Yesterday I had a plan. That plan was to take the skytrain and enter the city. Stop off at my favourite Indian restaurant for a vegetable curry. Get back on the skytrain and go to my hospital for my medication (I have hypermania), then go to the chess club. But that way go it did not. Within minutes of getting on the skytrain I fell critically ill. My whole world collapsed around me because the week before (subject of The visit that never was) I suffered so immensely from my life being threatened that I have been in a state of near collapse ever since. All I could do was hang on for dear life on the skytrain, try my hardest to walk to the hospital, collect my medication, and go back home. It was not very pleasant to arrive at the station I was supposed to get off to go to the chess club and then watch it go by but I had no choice, I was so sick mentally. By the time I got home, it wasn’t even 7pm but I had to fall into bed immediately and lie still all night long. Being the true hypermaniac that I am, of course sleep was not possible, and yes of course it’s not possible tonight also and no it won’t be possible tomorrow night either but these are trivialities. Like I said in the previous post, when your life is close to being taken away from you, you aren’t going to like it and you aren’t going to know what to do. What I didn’t say was it’s not something you can just walk away from and expect to be as right as rain the next day either. And what I couldn’t say was how sure I was of what was happening around me. Was I so startled that I couldn’t see things straight? The answers are coming, the answers are coming, a conclusion will be created… .

Yesterday, I didn’t have the power to play chess. I felt so wounded. I felt confused. I just wanted to go home, close my eyes and make everything go away. I could not speak to anyone, not even my own daughter. All I could do was lie still for many hours, not even hoping that my wounds would heal. I cannot put into words how hurt I have been and if that isn’t bad enough I must wait weeks before I can learn if I have been left with a terminal illness too, one which will eventually destroy my immune system and take my life from me.

Mark. J. McCready, 02.13 am, Sunday April 30th 2023

A quiet and lonely place where I have cried most days this week, Laksi, Bangkok.

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Suppose that you have a job, you have income, and you have time off -like most of us. Suppose that you take holidays and like to factor chess into them. That could mean entering a tournament or maybe just visiting a club to meet locals and survey the scene there -with a few pics for your Instagram account, or Facebook or whatever your preferred social media platform is.

Don’t tell me you don’t use any of them, I know you do!

Does this sound quite normal or quite abnormal? I can assure you, having been posted abroad for almost a quarter of a century now, it’s common to meet chess players who travel abroad to play our beautiful game because the options are boundless all year round. A great many do it, but I apologize, I can’t give you an exact number. Instead, let’s just assume it to be in the tens of thousands of those who have and continue to do so. Professional players, of course, make their living by travelling and playing chess at the same time, some of whom are on record as stating they have done so in over 100 countries. Admittedly, I have only played chess in 6 different countries, posing as the official photographer in only one of them.

We all blunder in chess no matter how good we are. The only difference being the frequency with which it occurs. We blunder away in life too, although this may be less obvious, depending on how well you know yourself, your take on consequentialism, and various other mitigating factors aided and abetted by your own drunkeness, tomfoolery, absentmindedness, dubious driving habits…I could go on.

Don’t do drugs!

Let us suppose you twice intend to visit the very same chess club on your hols, putting in the necessary groundwork in beforehand, establishing where the club is located, when they meet, and so on. But it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen on your first trip. It doesn’t happen on your second trip. Why? How can a scheduled part of your holiday not come into play, and not just once but twice?

In asking such a broad question, invariably a multitude of plausible explanations arise. And not only that, crucial elements can be easily overlooked too. For example, what happens to people when they go on holiday? Do they stay the same or do they go into party mode and just want to have fun? After all, that’s what holidays are supposed to be all about right? Over the years I’ve seen all sorts of things go on including chess players spend thousands travelling half-way round the world to enter a prestigious international tournament and then weren’t even capable of making it out of their hotel let alone make it to the first round, owing to a drink problem so severe they were paralytic before the tournament began, as the tournament started, and then only got worse. I’ve seen GMs fly on in and party so hard they would resurface at each round looking either massively hung over or completely drunk still from the night before, causing them to behave erratically at the board and sometimes just resign on the spot. On one occasion a GM fell so far down the rankings, he was paired against one of my friends, who I have beaten in the past as we were both rated about 1900 then. Even my friend beat him because he was that hung over and didn’t want to play on!

Life doesn’t always go as planned, we all learn that as we mature. On holiday the likelihood increases as we tend to enjoy ourselves too much and this often factors in an excess of things, which aren’t good for us. Things like alcohol and drugs for example. Sometimes things develop which are good for us but derail our plans. You might meet a nice woman you want to spend time with, which might take priority over previously made plans. When you go abroad wanting to have a bit of fun, its hard to know exactly where it will take you, and for that reason what you had planned may not come about. As long as we’ve had some fun and enjoyed ourselves, our plans can be cast aside for another time, can’t they? Isn’t that how it goes?

I recently visited Cambodia, and its capital Phnom Penh. I see it as my second home in Asia because I used to live and work there and know the place pretty well. It’s a place where I can meet former colleagues, close friends, ex-girlfriends and enjoy a thriving ex-pat scene. It’s a city that has shown a greater degree of progress over the last 15 years than any other in south-east Asia and has a lot to offer. Not only that, the Khmer people are sincere, humble and hard-working. They are also very friendly and pretty good at speaking English too. They occupy a city untainted by tourism, and that cannot be said of the bigger cities in the same region. Unlike Bangkok, the closest major city to it, Phnom Penh isn’t a tourist trap full of hustle and bustle all day and all night long. Instead, it offers relaxing walks along the riverside, adorned by royal palaces and feels far more laid back. There are no roads gridlocked by traffic, only streets where anyone will offer their services to you if you need something or cannot find your way around. A stark contrast indeed.

Seen from the riverside Phnom Penh.

But despite my efforts I never did make it to the chess club on both my recent trips and I am too ashamed to say why. Okay, well I was whilst writing the previous sentence but I am not now. On the first occasion my own very bad habits got the better of me and made me so sick I had to spend days in bed recovering, missing the opportunity, and on the second I was accompanied by an ex-girlfriend from back yonder and that…erm, well, dominated proceedings shall we say. Or should we say being a romantic old fool, I didn’t want to leave her side? Unabashed hedonism with no regard to the consequences was what wiped out the chance of any chess and it’s absolutely fine, it really is. On my list of ‘to do’ things it wasn’t very high up. And what is true of my chess is true of my life too. I have made so many blunders throughout my life that they are no longer soul-destroying, having just rendered hours of effort to emerge victorious no longer possible. When I blunder in chess and life, the result is always the same. I feel nothing. Part of me expects it at some point. If I do not blunder yes there is a sense of relief but that is all I am capable of feeling: that and only that. I am not sad that I didn’t visit Phnom Penh Chess Club. Why? Because holidays can and do go badly wrong sometimes. Crime exists everywhere. Only death is real when confronted with your own. And no you won’t like it very much. And no you won’t know what to do. Most certainly it will radically alter the nature of your holiday, and for me, trigger an arresting escalation from being robbed on a deserted street late at night, as happened on the first visit, where all I lost was all my possessions instead of my life. May I offer some advice? As Franklyn D. Roosevelt once said ‘the only thing you have to fear is fear itself’. If danger, or wrongly perceived danger, comes your way, just punch your way out of it. Twice I tried to do that and twice my soon to be opponent backed off super-swiftly. It’s just a shame I couldn’t keep it up. Almost all who threaten only do so to scare you into getting what they want. And they will do so mercilessly because at the bottom of it all lies the undeniable truth that in Asia: life is cheap. Turn the tables on them with real intent and watch what happens -and don’t take too long about it either! Tough when your life is on the line but necessary. It will stop your opponent from thinking about killing you and suddenly start them thinking about how to defend themselves instead. Anger -and yes I do mean of the explosive kind- is your saviour, and your only saviour trust me -just don’t kill anyone!

And on that note I had better leave it there once more proud of myself for employing a Nietzschean technique, which my professor described as ‘pulling the rug from under your feet’.

‘From the military school of life: That which does not kill me only makes me stronger’.

F. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Comment from fan of the site: ‘I see this McCready is at it again, he loves to break the boundaries of chess just because he thinks its too conservative. He loves to trick you into thinking the content is chess-related then pulls you in different directions and inserts content that alters your emotions whilst reading. I take my hat off to him, he’s bloody good at it but I wish I hadn’t read this. Who wants to read about what to do if their life is threatened. He really is a bad sport this McCready fellow.

Comment from critique of the site: ‘I don’t like this post. That bloody McCready has put the fear of god up me! I was going to go to Rio De Janeiro but I think I’ll go to Bognor Regis instead! No I won’t! I’m going nowhere now! I’m staying at home! Bloody terrible post this is! Wish I hadn’t have read it now!’

Mark. J. McCready 6.39pm, Saturday April 29th 2023,

Laksi, Bangkok

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I am very happy to say that I shall be visiting Luton Chess Club this summer. It’s my home club and has members I have been playing competitive chess with wince the 80s. I haven’t yet visited it in its new location, which I am told is impressive indeed. I’m also not sure how many members it has too. What has been gleaned from chat with friends is the club is growing and may well be able to re-enter the league next year. I have been asked to become the club president a few time but had to decline the offer since I am usually abroad, however, inevitably that will happen, its just a question of when.

As you might expect, lots of pics and videos to follow. I’ll try to have some of my games caught on film but only where I play well, so I should only have to film a few thousand of them!

More info to come in due course, most likely a visit to Bedford Chess Club is in order too!

Mark. J. McCready, 22.39 Wednesday April 26th,

Laski, Bangkok

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As you’ve noticed, I do have a sense of humour and like to mess about. As you can see below.

It could all be true right? 🙂

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Perhaps, just perhaps, I am a little too playful at times but I do like to break boundaries… .

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Women, can’t live with them, can’t shoot them.’ Sean Penn, U-Turn

As a creature of habit I put no thought whatsoever into my visit to the chess club tonight. I go every week, so why should I? Why should I? I have a better question, how about you apply to life the things that chess teaches you like learning to think ahead before you make your next move. Then ask yourself ‘What might happen if I play out a trip to the chess club tonight?’

Of all the countries in S. E. Asia, I just so happen to be located in the sleaziest of them all; namely, Thailand. The capital is the main base of many I have around the world -and importantly it’s Thai new year at present. This means hundreds of thousands flock to the city centre to get blind drunk and have one huge water fight. Why did I not question whether it was a good idea to go into the city? I wish I knew. Was it nothing more than a preference to not stay at home all day long and to go out and do something instead? Why didn’t I tell myself that to stay at home is for the best sometimes? I just don’t know. I really don’t.

Hardly anyone showed up at the club but we rolled out a blitz tournament nonetheless. With the time limit at 3m 2s increment I under-performed as usual but that’s fine, I am quite used to it. But I went and let the whole evening be derailed by women, whilst in the chess club. What on earth possessed me to allow that you might wonder!

Firstly, I had some woman from New York state wanting to chat to me on Instagram, secondly I also had a former colleague wanting to hook up and bring two women along, one of which he made very clear was quite drunk, wanted to meet me and spend the night together, thirdly I had an ex-girlfriend sending me messages about how much she loves me whilst she was high on what the Americans call crystal meth.

Why could I not just see the night as a night of chess, ignore everything else, go home and go to bed? I just don’t know. So anyway, I met this fucking woman who wanted to sleep with me whilst I was dealing with my Vietnamese ex-girlfriend. My colleague was very drunk, she was too and so was her friend. Yes she liked me and made it clear we were to spend the night together but before that they wanted to party. It was now 11pm, so I started drinking too, so that we could enjoy the night together but with it being new year I wasn’t sure where to go after the English pub we were in closed. Festivities are supposed to stop at dusk but it never happens. The street I chose to go to was total carnage, the likes of which I have never witnessed. Rammed full of drunken idiots partying on like never before, in the street on the road in all the bars, it was everywhere, there was no escaping it. We were fucked and had to change location. What I thought would be a safer option was no better. The whole city centre was besieged by pissed up revellers, partying all day and all night. Acting like total fucking drunken idiots all the time, not knowing what they are doing or even why they are doing it. We got attacked en route numerous times thus completely drenched in water -and I got very pissed off indeed. Those with me could see I had become super-stressed, so when I said I was going home AND going home alone, there was no argument.

There was no argument but matters complicated further because the carnage was everywhere and I was trapped on the street I was on. Even though I had already said goodbye, I kept bumping into those I had spent the last few hours with -we were all trapped. The route I wanted to take out of the city I couldn’t because there was pure mayhem that way, so that meant a good 5km walk through more carnage to escape the area I was in. Taking a taxi out of the situation was impossible because they prey on tourists heavily downtown, and charge you extortionate fees to go anywhere, so I had to walk for kilometres just to get out of the tourist zone. All I could tell myself was ‘Mark, don’t hit anyone, please don’t hit anyone’ but I knew that was coming, I knew for sure. The second route I wanted out of the city was so blocked I knew it was a bad idea. I had to take a third route which involved skirting the Arab quarters, where thankfully no such partying continued. Yes it was a long walk but it turned out to be a wise decision. I knew all too well that about 3kms from the road I was on there was another major road parallel to it, one which led in the direction I needed to go in. I knew that tourists never go there so picking up a taxi would be easy, which it was. Sit in the air con drenched from head to toe I did, not relieved, not overjoyed, just very pissed off. I chose the wrong evening to socialize and start dating someone -and it came back on me big style.

Men and women are principally different and women are much smarter then men. Want to know why? Women only think with one part of their body; namely, their brain. But men think with two parts of their body. Yes their brain is one of them but also another part much lower down the body is used, and used with great frequency. But I don’t think with that part of my anatomy. I never have and I never will. Yes I love women because I love life per se but that’s as far as it goes. I don’t need to get laid. I did it more than enough times already thank you very much.

And so what should have been a quiet night of chess turned into a total fucking nightmare that I never want to happen in my life again. For the next two days the city is besieged with the same stupid shit. So I am staying at home and going nowhere until it’s returned to normal and everyone has stopped fucking about and acting like complete idiots. At times I fucking hate this place and with good reason. Never again will I go into the city to play chess during new year festivals -never again.

And the moral of the story is: ‘If you allow women to enter your life and have more than one, two or three on the go bear in mind that needs to be managed at all times and do not bow down to their wishes when festivities are at their worst because that is so often a recipe for disaster, as was the case tonight’.

That’s the sort of stupid rubbish I had to put up with tonight.
Yes, you’ve guessed it -more stupid shit.
Even more bollocks.

Mark. J. McCready 02.34, Saturday April 15th

Laksi, Bangkok

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Something worth a watch

As you may, or may not, know. GM Jonathan Rowson is a former British champion, a very well-educated man and a great writer. This is well worth a watch.

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The verve this man had!

Well, people get up to all sorts of things in this world of ours, and I should know -to say I’ve had a colourful life is quite an understatement. Anyway, just have a read of the following. I do sympathise, I must say.

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“One is unable to notice something-because it is always before one’s eyes”

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus

Do you know what or who you are? Do you really?

Next question. Do you see yourself as a creature of habit? If so, can you explain why you play chess and when you choose to? Is it always borne out of desire or, perhaps, lack of a better idea on how to pass the time? Aren’t you able to abstain from bullshitting yourself then bottom out the question instead? Not easy is it? Or is it?

“Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value

Today chess exists in two main forms OTB chess (over the board) and online chess.

Online chess just got itself sacked from my life. I did that two months ago but it snuck back in. This time it’s sacked, sacked, sacked.

OTB chess. I have withdrawn from all tournament play and will only visit the chess club once a week -that is enough for me.

I am a philosopher, academically speaking, so by my very nature I have to question. I have to ask myself what do I want, how much do I want of it and why.

Once a week is quite enough, and that’s it. I focus on contentment and not improvement, that is what is pushing the agenda, and if that’s not enough, then everything must go…

“We are asleep. Our Life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Mark. J. McCready 22.22, Sunday, April 2nd.

Laksi, Bangkok.

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