Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Life Outside The Diamond

It's come to our attention that the Armenian government have gone big. Not content with their 4th place finish at the European Team Championships in Greece last month and that off the back of winning the Worlds in July, they are trying to set the bar even higher.

Promoting junior chess is a topic close to our hearts here at RTK so we've decided to weigh in with some thought nuggets. Firstly, the successful 'A Copy of the 400th Anniversary King James Bible Complete with Gove Introduction for Schools' movement should provide our framework. By making a case for the impact of chess on the culture of Britain as a “thing of beauty” we can push for it to become policy. I suspect this approach would have aided the rival faction 'Why Not a Copy of On The Origin of Species Instead?' who showed how common sense tactics just don't cut the mustard.

As Mr Cain will attest it's never wise to mow in without a backup plan and projects like Chess In Schools and the Chess Rocks initiative are doing fantastic work. That's not to mention the many heros who give up their time and put in heaps of effort to help run independent junior clubs. Even though money may prove too great an obstacle to set about emulating the Armenians, we hope grass roots chess wont be disappearing any time soon.

Just in case the situation changes, I've taken the liberty of coming up with a few chants for the picket lines:

What do we want?

Chess lessons in schools across the country

When do we want them?

Once all of the necessary paperwork and red tape has been completed to a satisfactory level

Give me a “C”, Give me an “Hess for schools”, What do you get? “A Generation of children better prepared for jobs in the tertiary sector!”

Who's with us?

Tuesday, 22 November 2011


We've been doing some phone hacking of our own recently. And we can exclusively reveal the person who'll be managing the 2012 British Championships.

They're the obvious choice really. LGBT-friendly, well acclimated with arbiting and known to look fabulous in a blue polo shirt. In addition, living in the north-east must be seen as a major advantage.

ECF President CJ de Mooi, thought to be behind the decision, appears to be making amends for August's misunderstanding. About an hour ago, he tweeted "As penance I've just started my 7th hour of exercise for today". Commitment indeed to looking good naked.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Maud Watt Sorts Your Life Out IV

Dearest Maud,

I suffer from what has been diagnosed by my team mates as a chronic case of Armchair Chess Player Syndrome (ACPS). As I'm sure you're well aware it's far more severe than being an armchair fanatic of any other discipline. The football fan simply shouts at the players from the comfort of his living room or indeed the stands of his local ground, if I spot a winning combination whilst watching a game I blurt it out. I simply can't help myself and have even been known to follow it up with a barrage of personal abuse.

This has caused all manner of difficulties during league matches but also in my personal life. I've been confined to a separate room by my club captain during matches and a similar move has been made by my wife. He's issued an ultimatum threatening to ban me from competitive fixtures and she's furious that I gave her a slow hand clap and suggested back rank mate last night. What should I do?


Brian Lunder, Ipswich

Frankly Brian, I'm surprised you're still permitted to roam the streets let alone play competitive chess matches. In order to remedy your condition I suggest watching more games from super GM tournaments. Invest in a package holiday to Wijk aan Zee and sit in the front row during games.

Failure to spot any combinations at all will knock your ego down a rung or two and you'll soon begin to doubt your chess playing ability. This is a very important step on the road to recovery. Only when you're frightened of suggesting moves to the point where you don't want to even look at a chess board ever again let alone analyse a position, will you be free from ACPS.

That'll be 49 euros, cash preferable.

Do you have an urgent chess issue to resolve? Email with 'Maud Watt' in the subject line.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

'Taches for Cashes

You heard us correctly. All three of us are taking part in Movember in order to raise money for men's health charities. In the end, Alex Holowczak and Roger Edwards convinced us that we were missing out on some top lip action. This is our page which we will be updating regularly. Please donate generously.

Our hero

We'll be present at the first 4NCL weekend in Daventry if you'd like to check we're taking it seriously. We'll even let you stroke the fruits of our labours. How's about that then? (RIP Jimmy)

Saturday, 15 October 2011

League Chess Rebourne

After several weeks of hyperbolic prose, you're going to get some red hot chess action in this posting. Aren't you lucky?

No more politics!

You might have to wait a bit, mind.


Last summer at Canterbury, I had a very interesting discussion with Pete Wells about professionalism in league chess. I didn't do a very good job of putting my view across and was rightly bitchslapped across the debate. So, over a year late, here's what I think about evening league sides who pay to bring strong players into their sides. I think these are prerequisites for a successful professional model:

1. That such players integrate into the club ethic and socialise.

2. That such players do not prevent paid up members from playing. In other words, that the clubs enter sufficient teams for everyone to get a go. This may mean that the old 1st team Board 5 finds themselves on Board 2 for the 2nd team in a lower division. It should be their motivation to get that team promoted and thus get better chess on a higher board in the same division as they were in to begin with.

3. That the team captain ensures a contest is possible. There is little point for either set of players in overkill of the likes of this. Though that relies on the opposing captain too.

Wood Green's London League team is a case in point. The last two seasons I've played GM Jon Levitt on Board 9 and IM Richard Pert on Board 6, two of the strongest players I've ever faced in any form of chess. I drew both games. There's obviously pleasure and experience to be derived by playing such top people and analysing with them afterwards, whatever the result.

But yet I'm still very keen on the idea that an amateur club can keep up with the big boys, dragging itself along by a mixture of heightened team spirit and pluck. Drunken Knights nearly managed it last season. Professionals merely put themselves on a lofty pedestal and everyone wants to beat them that little bit more. This is the case in any sport - non-league football clubs like drawing Premiership sides in the FA Cup principally because of the 'what if...' involved. They know their chances of success are minimal but there's no pressure except to give it a damn good go.

And this is a good thing.

So on Wednesday I found myself at Bourne End playing for Sandhurst, one such club who engage the services of titled players dotted around the south of England. And you know what, they fulfil all of my criteria. The match itself was extremely close with only minor nuances separating the players on Boards 2, 4 and 5. Sam Walker in particular, who was my protégé before he became better than me, played extremely well against GingerGM™ before the clock became the decisive factor. 

My game against intellectual suavity personified, Steve James, was not altogether convincing.

Time control reached. The activity of the black king is a potential worry, but for now I have control of the e file and weaknesses on a3 and c5 to exploit. I was reasonably happy with my prospects here.

31. c4 dxc4  32. bxc4 Bd7  33. Nb3 Rb4  34. Bd3 Rb6  35. Nxc5

A free pawn, but it's unclear how significant it's really going to be. But a pawn's a pawn, and the game goes on.

35... Rc6  36. Nxd7 Nxd7  37. Re7?

By all accounts, pretty poor. 37. Re3 must be better, hunting down the a3 pawn like Prince does jockeys.

37... Rd6  38. Be4??

If my previous move was poor, this is an active atrocity. 38... Kf8  39. f6 Nxf6  40. Re5 Rd1+  41. Kh2 Ng4+ picks up the rook.

38... Kf6?

Phew - the rook can now escape via e8. The a pawn decided in the time scramble around move 70. Professional chess is tough.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Say It Loud

This thread and this thread reveal that it isn't so easy being an arbiter these days. 

Just the other week a shellsuited youth misjudged my cardigan and pointy shoes and suggested I was an arbiter. Not that it's anything to be ashamed of - indeed, a lot of my friends are arbiters - but I was shocked at the level of ignorance on display. Arbiters may have their own stereotypical fashions and an exaggerated gait, but they should of course be afforded the same rights as everyone else. The recent developments in arbiter marriage have been very pleasing.

Not an arbiter

Social acceptance has also meant that the arbiter cruising scene has emerged from the muddy moors of Hampstead Heath and Clapham Common to special licensed establishments. It's a pleasure to mix with luminaries like Belinfante, Hewitt and Holowczak in Soho of an evening. The other night, Ja Rule 10.2 played on Old Compton Street and they were loving it.

As we intimated in August, the next Arbiter Pride isn't until next summer, but they still need your support in the meantime. I implore everyone to flood the streets and wave your pairing cards in the air like you just don't care. Otherwise arbiter repression will continue unabated.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Heavy Knights

It's that time of the year again. On Monday, the London League season explodes into life with the first and second strings of Drunken Knights facing off. Last year, the same fixture produced a predictable 10-2 scoreline, which put an end to the Triple Seconds' 33-match unbeaten run.

DK - Not actually mugs

The fixture is due to be much stronger than last year's though. In all, fourteen titled players have been selected. Huge!

Play will start at The Plough at 7pm. All welcome.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A Loud Apology

It's come to our attention that the person responsible for the wonderful logo on the right of your screen hasn't been publicly thanked. His name is Jon Bliss and this is how he rolls.

The power of RTK compels you

We hope you'll agree that some of his creations are magnificent and deserve a wider audience, perhaps in the form of a t-shirt production line. This is our favourite.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Bigmouth Strikes Again

Oh dear. This column's record appears to be stuck. But frankly there's nowhere else to go. Sorry about the radio silence of late - promised articles on Moiseenko-Navara, Dublin and chessboxing have been usurped by life. So here's a quick summary:

Moiseenko is a twinkle. Navara is my hero.
Dublin was enjoyable but I played crap.
Chessboxing could do with more cowbell.

Right. This. Christ. Where do we start? Apart from to wonder whether Stevo is having some kind of Charlie Sheen-esque breakdown. Though if he does his own cooking show any time soon, I'm perfectly happy about it.

It's extremely convenient to be as far removed as possible from the people who you criticise, especially when you don't want to listen to their opinion. So having last week resigned from his Hastings roles, he's well on his way to being an island. Even the breakfast club's opinion of C.J.'s latest announcement differs to that of our gull.

And that's because it's homophobic thundershite.

To call the Gay Times "a pornographic magazine" is to suggest that homosexual culture should be suppressed to the top shelf, well out of everyone's eyeline. To call C.J.'s actions "tawdry is to suggest that helping an HIV charity is shameful. It also suggests that there's something wrong with getting your kit off in the name of fundraising. In the light of the above, to call C.J. a "professional self-publicist" is grossly unfair. 

Stevo won't know how Joan of Arc felt though. He's far too marooned in his own little world.

Friday, 19 August 2011

To Rentokil A Mockingbird

Pest control has, it would seem, returned. Except that, on this occasion, nobody from outside the breakfast club is allowed to pass comment. Which is outrageous. And it's precisely because we've not been initiated that we're outraged. 

Poor old Chris. You'd think that living with Bill Hartston's family for a year must qualify one for the breakfast club, wouldn't you? But no. Chris has now upped sticks in protest and is at such a low ebb that he's living with non-chess players. I share a fridge with three titled players but, again, radio silence has prevailed. Hear that, Steve? A fridge! All the eggs and bacon you want. We might be running low on foie gras though.  

For a man who is only too delighted to disgorge his chess address book in his publications, the lack of even a courtesy phone call from Steve over the past 13 months has been very disappointing. He's obviously losing touch with who the top people really are. And in more than one way too. Even Joey Stewart has a higher ECF grade than Steve and he's dead

Come back to us, Steve! Let us once again tell you how wonderful we think you are. It's only fair.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Introducing 'The Diaper'

Are you sick of the same stale opening motifs? Does the Petroff or the Fort Knox make your blood boil? Want to shit all over your position instead? Try The Diaper! Only strong players and major celebrities play it!

Don't worry about those weak dark squares - we can't use the light squares either!

This is the key starting position of the main line of The Diaper. It is reached by the following moves:

1. e4 e5  2. f3 Nc6  3. h3 Qh4+  4. Ke2 Nd4+  5. Kd3

Black has many options here, all of which are very good. However, I recommend following my advice by wearing a balaclava to each game. You can fool your opponent into thinking you're a terrorist and are likely to abduct their children if they beat you. This approach certainly carries more moral and ethical weight than most. It's particularly subtle during the winter months.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Adams Wins Despite Being Straight

What a furore. It's a wonder this didn't happen last year. 

I'm better than all of you. Get over it.

Perhap Fortescue, on the scene in Sheffield, had this to say:

"The gay rights parade was a joke. Some chess players, most of them not even practising homosexuals, hijacked it. And then two of them - admittedly wearing rather darling suits - set up a position on a board and sat motionless. This aroused considerable excitement amongst the mob and some of them sat nearby and started sketching furiously. The two subjects didn't even play footsie. Disgraceful."

Still-life class in Ponds Forge.

At 12.05pm, one of the men moved and the class was abandoned. The word on the street is that they will reconvene in Whitley Bay in July 2012. Homosexuals beware.

Photos: Stephen Connor

Friday, 27 May 2011

Kazan Blues

So we finally know the identity of Anand’s new challenger. As good as Boris Gelfand is, I think it’s fair to say that Vishy won’t exactly be quaking in his boots. After all, with Mr. Gelfand at #16 in the world rankings, it’s the equivalent of Rafael Nadal facing Richard Gasquet in a Grand Slam Final. And all of this is a shame, because The Blues Brothers is one of my favourite films.

Boris Gelfand, World #16

The manner of  Gelfand’s qualification – and of the competition as a whole – has been the subject of much debate, the short comfortable draws being the main bone of contention. But you won’t find any complaints from this end. I actually find it very pleasing that the world elite have finally made the considered decision to play like Robert Bellin.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Torn Apart by Timmy's Dad

Going into last night's London League match against Streatham, I was on 7½/9 for Drunken Knights this season. Within 90 minutes, that turned into 7½/10 after this spectacular pile of garbage.

I was paired on Board 3 against Middlesex colleague Andrew Stone, who bears a decent resemblance to Timmy's Dad in the cartoon Fairly Odd Parents.

Andrew Stone, pictured last month, upon learning his Rapidplay grade had dropped 12 points

Andrew Stone (199) - (185) Phil Makepeace

White's just played 13. Ng5 after a Fantasy Caro. There's nothing wrong with Bd7, but I saw some fruit and went for it. 

13... Bg4!? 14. Qxg4 Qxe3+ 15. Kb1 Qxd4!? 16. Rhe1+ Kf8 17. c3

17... Qf6

Forced. 17... Qa4 runs into the stunning combination 18. Nxf7 Kxf7 19. Qe6+ Kf8 20. Qd6+ Kg8 21. b3 Qa5 22. Re7 with mate to follow.

18. f5 

18... h6?

Not sure why I didn't take the pawn. It certainly looks like black's hanging on well after 18... gxf5, though white would obviously have excellent compensation for the pawn.

19. Nh7+!


19... Rxh7  20. fxg6 Rh8  21. Qb4+ Kg8  22. gxf7+ Qxf7  23. Rf1 Bf8?

Allowing forced mate.

24. Qg4+


1 - 0

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Reader Letter III

Alright you horrible lot! If a winter break is good enough for European footballers then it's good enough for us. Don't pretend you missed us.

And with our return we bring you another letter we've received from Ms. D Fault of Sevenoaks. 

Dear CJ,

Where on earth have you been? Daphne came round for afternoon tea last Thursday and told us you were in a pantomime, whatever that is. Cyril tells me it involves foolishness and tights, two of our least favourite things. We believe in a good long sock.

We have also heard that you are fraternising with the man that poor old Gerry refers to as 'him'. Please desist.


Deborah Fault
Creative Commons Licence
Release The Kraken by Philip Makepeace and Christopher Russell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.