Archive for the ‘My own endeavours’ Category

Hot off their stunning opening victory today, Laos face the mighty Mauritius tomorrow. Eventually the result of the match will fade away until its forgotten. Not very soon and not soon either but one day it will, and then it will be gone…are you gone?

‘Oh that English fellow on the bike’, he’s gone’

‘Gone? What really? That was quick’ he replied more surprised than interested less concerned than curious.

He, in this instance is myself and the dialogue above refers to the time in Laos I put my bike on a bus and went to Ngam Ngum, only to turn around minutes later and cycle back to Vientianne post haste -not tomfoolery at its very worst just abject mindlessness when things were far from okay on all levels psychologically and physically.

In case you don’t know, what happens in life is you remain alive until the day you die but that day can come sooner than expected if you want it to or you push yourself too hard. And it does for a great many all too often. When I decided to cycle back to Vientiane, I was not right mentally and a long way off from being that. and so made a snap decision I gave no thought to. I just went for it and did not look back. I was escaping myself ensnared you could say. Believe me, that 90-100k really took it out of me but that wasn’t the point. The point was there was no real why. No why I could legitimise. Yes it’s true I have bucket loads of stamina but that doesn’t mean you can behave so impulsively and put yourself under such immense strain, especially once it got dark, and dark it was.

Eventually it reached the point where I had absolutely no idea of where I was and how far from the capital I was. The lighting on my bike was really poor and there was no street lighting either. I couldn’t get off the road I was on but wanted to rest up somewhere. It was only when I got much closer to the capital that I found a room but in truth I had no idea of where I was. Someone found it funny that I asked where I could buy chocolate, being stranded so in the countryside -I was shattered I needed energy fast. I started the journey off paranoid, weakened and impulsive, ruining the whole experience of spending a relaxing time by the lake.

When I went to sleep I did not move once in the night and woke in the same position. That feeling of getting up cannot ever be forgotten. To say the body creeked when it stirred is quite an under-statement. Is it okay to make yourself ill? I used to do it all the time because I have always had a certain indestructibility about me, and so much stamina it never can seem to run out. People hurt themselves because they do not love themselves. Before my child was born I had forgotten what love was and years passed by where I was estranged from it. It’s not like that now and in telling you all this I want to reiterate that in life we have to know what we are getting ourselves into if you want to come out of it in one piece. When you enter into the third world, you don’t go hitting 90-100kms on your bike late in the day, you just don’t do it because the level of risk is far too high, and the problems encountered are so difficult to solve. There is no need to push yourself to the limit, which I did more or less. So do be more circumspect than I was that time and bear in mind you are only human, and born to make mistakes.

Laos has some painful memories because before becoming a father I didn’t care about anything. Still to this day I think I can go anywhere on my bike but with age I know I have to make that untrue. Laos is a third world country, your options are limited by the empty space that is everywhere, and do you know what happens to those who can’t help themselves? They are left to their own devices. Just don’t be like me and make yourself learn things the hard way. The third world requires much more preparation than the first world, and should you go to Laos to marvel at all it is -be more prepared and less impulsive than usual.

You might believe me, or might not when I tell you I have made so many mistakes in my life and done so many stupid things that they can’t be counted, furthermore, under no circumstances whatsoever should I still be alive. Regarding the cycling accidents of 2016 & 2017, if we add broken bones to fractures, to parts of bone missing, to areas of damage to the nervous system, to blood clots, to collapsed veins, to stitches to external injuries, to seizures, we get a mere 286! That is the undeniable truth of the matter and although my own actions are not an anathema to me, upon reflection I am very disappointed with myself over far too much. Did you know that in chess if you can’t learn from your own mistakes, its unlikely that you will ever improve much. Life is like that too. Pattern recognition is essential because being who you are can become a full time job if you’re not careful -and I should know. So managing patterns in your own behaviour helps always.

Do take care of yourself if you do go to Laos. Just say to yourself ‘Now we don’t really want do anything rash or extreme like that Mark’. Also think ‘Having a bicycle does give you greater freedom but even freedom has its limits’, and lastly think, ‘Some people have a talent for survival almost unsurpassable but not everyone does, and you don’t want to find out if you do or do not the hard way do you?’ Just be sensible and don’t be silly like me, yes I have a really do have a talent for survival, as so many frequently remind me but so what, everything dies eventually.

Finally, if you go to Laos -play it smart, meet many locals, and enjoy the finer points of travel. Travel can be a great thing if you want it to be, steer well clear of being reckless and you should be quite fine. The moral of the story is: if you go to Laos, avoid shit creek. And now I am rambling… .

Let us return to the hope that hangs above the gloom that Laos will do well in their next match.

Mark. J. McCready

02.57am, 4th of August

a saddened room with an air of being let down somewhat, alongside the A/C

in Laksi, BKK, Thailand

Indo-China Region

Asia

*Editors note. Something is wrong with this, who am I actually talking to? Potential future tourists of Laos? Ye is not amused.

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Upon reflection, if I visited a site such as this, I would want to get to know more about the author in some shape or form. Well I do try but I don’t really make that possible because of the lay out style I have chosen (although the side bars are clearly there to offset that). I haven’t made a name for myself in chess so slotting me into the overall scheme of things mean I come out as just another chess enthusiast/addict with a blog all his own. But that simply won’t do as so many are in the same boat, thousands in fact. So I shall break rank and enable you to put a face to the posts, so you can see who is writing (this rubbish) this humorous if often inward looking content. This is an attempt at personification of the site, and you could argue that all sites should show similar intentions now and again. A chess player I may be, and the subject of the site is chess but it is called McCreadyandChess, so pics of my life beyond the board are not beyond the parameters of what it was designed for.

I’ll add some photos from facebook, taken over the years but you should know I used to be a photographer and so some pics reflect the creativity I was once noted for, but only a few. The rest depict the colourful life I have ended up with to some degree but they barely scratch the surface tbh and there’s nothing I can do about that. I put the pics in gallery form, so you can just click on them and scroll along. Maybe they give a clearer sense of who is writing or something. The title of the site does the job here I think.

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Laos managed to draw their match against the British Virgin Islands yesterday rather than lose 4-0. They have a point in the table now. Let us hope they pick up another or even a victory but most importantly at all, let us remember the character of the Laotians and hope/assume that no matter what the results are, they are enjoying themselves -highly probable. And so even though they face tougher opponents today, let’s hope their national character wins through and it’s fun all round!

Pak Beng, deep into the Laotian countryside and only accessible by the river Mekong at the time. Do you know I once spent an evening there some 22 years ago in early Feb. There was only one hill, only some of it had electricity, most restaurants used candles when serving evening meals. I slept on wooden boards on a hut further up the hill. I still remember a toddler chase after some weird looking big apple type thing rolling down the hill (which eventually ran out of speed in a puddle, which all excited, he then coveted with a big but guarded smile) and that further up the hill was a different tribe with their own language as you would expect. Being a tourist, all locals wanted to sell you was food, pens or drugs -and being me I went and got high whilst there in one of the restaurants and yes I still remember standing on the banks of the river looking at the stars, pointing them out until I got rounded up by a taken aback policeman and sent off to my wooden hut -ah those were the days!
T’was about there where I stood below a glassy evening sky, pointing out the stars, he he…come to think of that wasn’t the only time naughty me bought off naughty salesmen that trip! Oh…bloody druggie!

The reason I stopped off in Pak Beng was because I took the boat to Luang Prabang. So highly recommended by all, and speaking from personal experience I remember wandering around streets not knowing where I was going (because I couldn’t think straight and didn’t know if I had already walked down that street already), then running into the couple I started chatting to at the restaurant when I bumped into them by chance. They asked ‘Where’ve you been? With some exasperation as we got on so well in the restaurant in Pak Beng until, well until, well until it was, erm, well…the conversation became a bit intense and started to wander at the same time also…well anyway so I put on an act and said I wasn’t well and rubbed my forehead to back it up with a slight swoon…in retrospect that was better than saying I got out of it on that shit! But the thing is, for that little tourist loop, it was quite the norm amongst backpackers back then -so I was fitting in really!

Anyway, I am not suggesting you should visit Laos and go and get high, but from personal experience, I am not sure what else you could do. I most certainly don’t recommend getting high then putting about 90 kms on your bike across the countryside in the dark -that you should not do believe me. Ah maybe drink beer and look for someone to play chess on the street? They have their own version of chess there, so be ready, it’s much more popular and you can get a game on the street anywhere, so yes, now thinking about it, do that (but not whilst high). Beer + local variants of chess, and a few photographs…phew I finally worked out how to spend time in Laos more productively!

They might be up for a game or two but which version of chess will they play.

Mark. J. McCready 11.15am August 3rd

Laksi Bangkok

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The draft save is Feb 12th 2021 and this is about as far as I got. What it doesn’t say in the don’ts’s is don’t play it against people who are much better than you! I say this because you concede a lot of space, and if that’s used well you are in a difficult situation to put it mildly. Since this draft save I have adopted the Sicilian with 2. …e6 as it is more solid and gives you more chances. I really ought to point out here that I did play the St. George’s solidly for at least 6 months at a very busy time (300-500 games) but I am by no means a professional player. The book written by Basman I found to be rather poor but he did seem to know that if the centre is closed, you have to play on the flanks or you will get squashed basically. It’s a fun/novelty opening that can really throw your opponent but I certainly wouldn’t try to build a repertoire around it as its only a matter of time before you’ll be shot down in flames. What is written below is entirely from my own experience, and it became very rare that I was troubled in the opening.

The Do’s which provide playable middlegames.

-understand you are conceding the centre therefore you must play on the flanks.

-understand you gain space on the queenside and so that is where you should play. Attacks on the kingside come later, once your opponent is stretched somewhat or at least attending to your play on the queenside.

-minor piece development order is usually queen’s bishop, king’s knight, king’s bishop, and lastly, queen’s knight.

-you have less space than white and so one or two minor pieces should be exchanged so that you have more room for manoeuvre. White will find it easy to attack if this does not happen.

-because you will develop the queen onto a dark square -most likely b6- you should wait for your opponent to commit his light-squared bishop first unless it can be challenged immediately.

-do try to exchange the c-pawn whenever the opportunity arises because it makes it easier to use the b-file, and if the position stays closed you can’t generate counter play.

-given that it is unorthodox either your opponent won’t set his pieces up correctly, will sit and do nothing or will over-extend, if your play is harmonious he will find it hard.

-try to prevent the queen from gaining access to the kingside if possible. It’s the only option has but it can be deadly. In general you are too committed to the queenside to cope with sacrifices or exchanges which open lines.

-do try to understand its an unconventional opening rarely played, which means your opponent probably won’t know what to do and will go for a passive set up.

-if an early a4 is played, push on with b4. It is played to try and gain the c4 square, which you should not allow for that is a concession which will prevent you from opening the game up.

The Don’ts’ which get you out of the opening with a playable position

-don’t think in terms of transposition to The French or The Sicilian back are not quite possible and likely to weaken your position quite a bit.

-don’t allow your opponent to gain a three pawn central majority because you won’t be able to undermine it.

‘the king’s knight shouldn’t stay pinned. h6 seems to work well, Be7 is less risky than Qb6, in general the queen isn’t needed on the queenside until mid to late middlegame. Remember, if the centre closes, the King can stay there.

-don’t come out of the opening with no minor pieces exchanged. Aim for two if possible as your position is rather cramped. Almost certainly the king’s bishop and quite often the queens knight.

…push the b-pawn early as its often a useful moves that alters the set up of the white queenside…

…it could be argued that because The St.Georges Defence is passive there is a greater necessy for black to free himself up and for the opening and early middle game that involves generating counter-play on the queeside and utilizing that, often to attack the white centre.

The black queen is a piece that has to be deployed carefully, sometimes it is best to wait because it may not be needed on the queenside, and is often targetted when placed there. It’s best square is seeingly b6, transfering pressure from e4 to d4 but care must be taken so that a bishop doesn’t come to b3 and a knight doesn’t hop into d5 or c4. Queen placement is probably the move which requires the most care.

…if white play is typically playing standard developing moves its because he doesn’t know what to do.

…* the e4 square is what white can win easily with. If the knight on f6 is removed, and you haven’t castled, then wait because the bishop and queen battery on the c1-h6 diagonal is hard to meet.

…when an early c4 comes, re-route the knight to b6 after the exchange on c4. Don’t allow white to capture the knight and double the d-pawns because they are too difficult to defend and your light squared bishop becomes hemmed in.

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Recently I chatted on line to a Swedish friend and former playing partner. He asked me ‘Do you play much?’. In truth I didn’t know how to answer that question as it’s not as straightforward as it seems. I told him I play a lot on line and left it at that. But as we know, there is a lack of seriousness with online play, and some would say it doesn’t really count. I think it can. Last year, and the year before I played over 1000 games on line each year, and at times I was in very good form, winning many tournaments and taking a strong GM into the endgame. That counts for something even though the games were all blitz but that aside, yes its true I haven’t played one game of OTB chess in 6 years now, and the club nearest I never go to because they meet up on Fridays, the day I usually leave the city. I neither play friendlies in the park nor try my luck with hustlers either (not that I know where any are). So I suppose I should have said ‘I only play on-line now’…it’s about all I have at my disposal. What would you say if someone asked you do you play much chess? Irrespective of your answer, you might want to point out that the question is grammatically incorrect because the modal verb ‘much’ should be used in negative sentences. He should have said ‘Do you play a lot of chess’, or ‘Do you play often?’ that’s better.

To end, I do miss OTB chess very much. I would rather my chess was more prominent in the off line world rather than the on line world. In our off line world events are characterized by the sense of the occasion. You don’t get that online, you don’t get anything.

Mark. J. McCready

01.53 am 12th of June

Tung Song Hong, Laksi, Bangkok

Thailand

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I lie here in the dark. I played chess at 2am and won. I am detached from everything around me. I didn’t go to bed last night. I didn’t eat yesterday, I just lie here looking to connect somehow. I’ll admit loneliness has haunted me my whole life but this is just something else. I am in our hotel by the seaside. In the next bed my daughter sleeps with her mum, and there’s me, winning at 2am in this dark, quiet, well air-conditioned room with no one to talk to, and no energy to do anything else. I’m in my 50s now…why is everything in life too easy. I love myself. I love chess. Darkness engulfs, I should try to sleep. I have medication for that. Let’s see if I can swallow my alprazolam then sleep some….what else is there to do?

As you can see, I came under sustained attack. (Click below)

https://lichess.org/f5mso9tAKBlx

Mark. J. McCready

Room 7096, Intown Holiday Hotel

PattayaSaisong 11

Pattaya

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This is how you play chess. Just simple small moves that get smaller and smaller….drought makes the workers dream…

https://lichess.org/PZLHpE6oeXko

Mark. J. McCready

Tung Song Hong, Laksi, Bangkok

1.50pm June 8th.

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Greetings online junkies.

I post because I can. I do because I want. I want to put my Masters Degree to good use here and reflect upon the world championship match ahead, now that the candidates tournament is over and the winner declared.

Here we go with the MA in full swing -ready? Now I think the next match will be decisive and the winner will be either Magnus or Nepo. And not anyone else. And most likely it will be Magnus as the last match was won convincingly.

There you have it -an educated chess player hard at work. In being that I stand out somewhat, and uncomfortably so as academics aside societal norms usually swerve away from formal education and chess players aren’t so different. Although if you went on any chess forum, you wouldn’t just wonder about the levels of brain power in play but more likely be less than impressed at the overall IQ level and knowledgeability, as you scroll on through with one eyebrow raised.

More seriously, does Nepo have a score to settle and/or a point to prove? Perhaps yes but the question of why he altered his style for the last world championship match remains unanswered. It may have been the sense of occasion was overwhelming and knocked him off centre, as well as the commiseration that outplaying Magnus in a match can only be done if Magnus somehow goes wrong himself and implodes otherwise, it just isn’t going to happen…but whether it was the sense of occasion or not, the importance of style, the integrity it brings, the identity-conferring moments it chains together, little was said why Nepo went from a renowned attacking player to something akin to a rabbit caught in the headlights. And what was he hoping to achieve with all those Petrovs when he was already behind in the match? Even Magnus showed surprise, and plenty of it.

And so I fear I may begin to ramble. To conclude the modern game is rich and enchanting, and the coverage chess receives now is more extensive and professional, so all in all, we have much to look forwards to…c’mon Magnus (not that he needs my encouragement).

So there we are goodbye. I just wanted to wheel out the old MA and fire up the engines for a few moments where words are typed off the top of my head. It’s made me look clever once more, perhaps even distinguished: that belief that either Magnus or Nepo will win the match. Hats off to the MA for a finishing touch of class (and before you ask, no I am NOT drunk, and I haven’t been smoking anything (heavily asthmatic so can’t), and no I am NOT on something either…well actually I AM on medication but that’s NOT really the same thing, since that’s just to stop me slipping back towards schizophrenia, which tends to happen if I come off it, however, since I am advised to remain on Amisulpride for life, the sch word is very manageable, remaining something I am healthily mindful of, anyway, now I am rambling…like you wanted to know about schizophrenia, especially when I don’t even have it…it’s just that I have a physiological condition which has symptoms that overlap with those of schizophrenia, so they give me the medication for it to help with the situation…and the moral of the story is, don’t try and put 20kms on your bicycle in the dark when pissed up and tranqued up and intent on going like the clappers)

You’ve probably had enough of me here, so goodbye.

So there you are. It was goodbye from him, and me too (and me) and goodbye to playing around with anachronistic, silly, stereo-typical perceptions of what schizophrenia is. There is only one me, and it’s goodbye. Farewell and don’t you dare ask me if I was bored when I wrote this because I would have to lie, and the lie would take many hours to formulate…well probably.

And in the next post I shall veer towards another condition I do not have.

Yikes, I know these well!

Mark. J. McCready

Tung Song Hong, Laksi, Bangkok

0748am June 8th (8 hours before we take a trip to the seaside once again)

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Firstly, I’d ask not to do that with me as getting myself murdered is actually one of my pet hates! But do have a go at the quiz I have linked (note: non-English chess people may find it hard) Time expiration is only a month. There are twenty questions.

Mark J. McCready

Room 7096, Intown Holiday Hotel

PattayaSaisong Soi 11

Pattaya

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‘The moon is red and bleeding, the sun is burned and black.’

I can’t begin to tell you how colourful and oftentimes chaotic my life has become, having been abroad for 22 years now, and visited some 36 countries along the way (many of which I worked in more than once). But the day when it is time to head home will one day come.

‘Time it waits for no man my future it is revealed. Time it waits for no man my fate is sealed.’

When that does happen, when I am a retiree of sorts, I will reach my rightful place. It’s only a matter of time before I become the Secretary of Luton Chess Club and also President of the Bedfordshire Chess Association.

If I cancel tomorrow the undead will thank me today.’

Administrative roles and obligations have been in place for the online versions of our club for some time now, the history of our country has been in my hands alone for many years, moreover in a bid to revive the club, much advertising will take place here. Moves are being played.

‘The demon in your mind will rape you in your bed at night.’

Lyrical encores aside, I am unflustered by what lies ahead and do not lie awake at night, erm…well singing Iron Maiden songs. The diagnosis is, I will live forever and am not ‘too evil’ to be the club secretary (when that day comes). More honest chaps might ask, since I won’t die young, can’t I run the thing from abroad…and perhaps I can.

Evil updates soon to follow…oh and lastly, do enjoy the song below (it has a chess reference).

Mark. J. McCready

11.15am, June 30th.

Room 7113, Intown Holiday Hotel,

Pattaya Saisong Soi 11

Pattaya

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