Archive for the ‘Personal Interest & Experience’ Category

You may have noticed that I am, on the whole, disdainful of chess literature. In case you ever wondered why, these comments (under the username olcmarcus) pretty much sum up my position on the matter.

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CHESS, May 1952, Vol.17 no.200, p154

In 1951, it was decided to run an International Union of Students’ Chess Tournament in conjunction with the National Union of Students’ Arts Festival at Liverpool this Easter. The British Universities’ Chess Association co-operated, and some eight teams with three players in each were expected to meet from April 4th to April 10th, but by the opening date only one Belgian, one Dane and one Indian were at Liverpool to meet the British and Finnish teams. It was known that players were to come from the Soviet Union, and their non-appearance brought many enquiries from reporters. There was no “mystery” about the matter; the late choice of players had meant late applications for visas. In fact, only four days was required for the issue of these once Bronstein and Taimanov were known to be waiting in Prague.

The three individual players were grouped into an “International” team, and while awaiting the arrival of the Russians a short Tourney was held in which Finland beat Britain by 2-1, and the International team by the same margin, while the British trio beat the latter by 3-0.

The Soviet Grandmaster and Master arrived at 6 a. m. on April 10th, and a tournament was hastily arranged with the fast time limit of 40 moves in two hours. This was unfortunately necessary, as two games a day had to be played on two of the five days available. The other competitors were the Finnish master Pastuhoff and his fellow-countrymen Nyren and Rutanen with the Danish player Dinsen and the Indian Katragadda.

As was to be expected, the Russians won all their games against the other players, though they met stiff opposition. Nyren had a drawn position against Bronstein after 40 moves but was outplayed in the ending. The draw between the Russian players was a bitterly contested struggle. Taimanov, a concert pianist by profession, gave short recitals to the other competitors, and Bronstein’s work at the British section of the Institute of Languages in Moscow was of great service, even if he appeared to speak our language rather more quickly than most British people!

Unfortunately the impossibility of issuing advance publicity meant that few spectators witnessed the rare spectacle of two Soviet masters playing in a tourney in Britain.

In their individual game Bronstein avoided a draw by repetition on the fifteenth move, and after intense study of the transition to the middle game obtained a superior position, but as the time limit approached he had to make twelve moves in three minutes. At this point Taimanov sacrificed a piece for an attack which gained him a draw by perpetual check, Bronstein having missed a winning line.

The text above has been lifted from the following site:

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Welcome back to my blog after a hiatus of nearly a month. Once more I sit with the lights off and air con on, only this time there is a carefully placed humidifier below it for I have upped ship and sailed off to the desert. Although locations do, some things never change. Again I sit naked in front of my computer in the dark, yes it’s the middle of the night. There is a can of diet Pepsi to my side, which I have only just started. It is 12.41 am exactly, and having slept already, I am all yours. A fortnight ago I fell into the habit of going to bed at 6 pm and waking up in the middle of the night, this is no exception… .

Since the Olympiad, I have put chess to one side and just got on with my life. No games played on line. No on line events followed either. No chess at all for a month or so, whilst my glorious summer holiday ended and a working life resumed. I don’t know what constitutes downtime for I don’t know how much time must elapse, but we could say we are in one…well I just stopped thinking about chess per se. In terms of motivating myself to get back into our beautiful game, you could say ‘the chips are down’ with no allusions to jiggery-pokery in play, only the use of metaphor.

Today, a major event in the chess calendar begins:

All eyes will be on the world champion and the gathering of elite players he is pitted against. I won’t be following it for it starts past my bed time. But I do recommend you take a peek.

I will sign off now. I am in a land that fielded a team at the Olympiad which I could beat quite easily if I wanted to. Does this alter my interest in chess itself, I mean to be in a non-chess playing nation of sorts? Well it does but oh-so slightly. More importantly, life moves on and whether we like it or not we must readjust to changing circumstances and what they ask, or demand, of us. I am no longer on holiday and cannot watch chess tournaments unfolding at my leisure, as much as I may like to.

I will touch base again once I have thought of something else to say.

Mark. J. McCready 12.53 am, September 2nd 2022

Room 306, Helwa Apartments

Sakaka, Saudi Arabia

That’s me to your right,. Taken four years ago. Shot style: headbanging mode methinks.

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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 in a hut further up the hill. There the morning after, I still remember a toddler chase after some weird looking fruit rolling down the hill (which eventually ran out of speed in a puddle, which all excited, he then coveted with a big surreptitious smile) and that further up the hill was a different tribe with their own language as you would expect. Being a tourist, all the 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.

The reason I stopped off in Pak Beng was because I took the boat to Luang Prabang. So highly recommended by all. 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. ‘Where’ve you been? They asked with some exasperation since 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 60 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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I so nearly forgot that tragedy lurks round every corner and can’t be avoided indefinitely. Regarding the lottery, in the mid 90s there was a very tragic case where a young man killed himself because of the lottery. He spent time wondering whether to spend one pound on a valentine’s card for his girlfriend or putting it on the lottery. He chose not to play the lottery that week but his numbers came in and he would have won. But he spent that money on a card and got so angry with himself, he killed himself. A real tragedy I heard over the radio. Sympathies for his family… .

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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 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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As we know, competitive chess involves travel. From the images below can you guess which publication has been plundered?

Not know the answer then scroll down.

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In reality -not cyberspace- me thinketh not!

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For the first time last night I represented England. A match against Finland was held. Of the 81 participants, around 30 were titled, of course there were Grandmasters playing. The time frame was 1h 20m, games were set at 3m, 2s increment. I won almost every game I played, held firm in joint 11th for the most part then slipped up in my final game to someone rated 2227. I finished 16th out of 81 even though those finishing both above and below me were on average 300-500 points above me. I punched well above my weight and feel proud of myself for stepping up to the mark against very strong opposition. England gave Finland a sound beating and I did my country proud by sticking in earbuds and bopping away with my favourite 80’s band (A Flock of Seagulls) as I blitzed my way up the leaderboard. All music video images in the screenshots below are of A Flock of Seagulls, the first one being from the song ‘The More you Live The More you Love’. I don’t know about you but the more I live the more I love playing chess.

The match was commentated upon. Rather amusingly it begins with comments of mine where I boast about drinking beer when I studied The Philosophy of Science in Finland as an undergrad back in Autumn 96; when I once beat a Finnish FM with 1.f4 down the pub named The Three Beers in Turun Yliopisto.

Meretricious and mangled.
Super-silly stuff.

There’s two videos from me and now two videos I will bop away to quite happily if given the chance.

Got to Number 8 in the US charts.
I cannot stop myself from singing this every time I hear it, and it’s been like that most of the year.


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

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