Book Review

posted Apr 22, 2017, 5:27 AM by Phil Morgan

" The Rookie - An odyssey through chess ( and life)"  Stephen Moss. Bloomsbury 2016  £18.99

This book was recently loaned to me. It's the account of a mid -50s returnee to the game of chess. Stephen Moss is a journalist for the Guardian. Along his chess journey, he gains access to and interviews players and others from across the world of chess.
When I started the book, I found some of the writing journalistic and shallow, but as he proceeds in his chess and research journey, his observations become much deeper. It includes discussions about the purpose and point of of the game. He presents the views of lovers and critics of chess.
A core of the book is his account of his games starting in a lower-grade League, moving into week-end tournaments in the U.K.. He then takes flight and travels to Gibraltar, Wijk-aan-See, Moscow, New York, St Louis and Chicago before returning to League and U.K. congress play. Along the way he interviews, among others, Keith Arkell, Stuart Conquest, John Speelman, Gawain Jones, David Howell, Jan Timman, Fred Sinquefield, Maurice Ashley, Andrew Martin, Danny Gormally, Jovanka Houska and Professor Steve Peters, Sports Psychologist. He plays in Gorky Park in Moscow and Washington Square Park in New York. From these extensive interviews he presents very informed comments about the state of chess in the USSR, United States and other countries. He considers the topic of women in chess.

Within his own play, he makes much slower progress than he would have hoped. You sense his frustration at his poor results, and the work it takes to progress from 120 to 140 ECF. He's handicapped by the time he can give to studying chess alongside work, the rest of his life and writing his book. Along the road  however it's clear that he has got the chess bug, and I sense his love for the game despite his serious questioning of its purpose. 

I found the book an impressive piece of research. His interviewees are interesting and in some cases inspiring. He's honest about himself and the shortcomings of his play and presents quite a detailed landscape view of chess today in U.K. and beyond. The book is nearly 400 pages. As yet I haven't played through his 10 key games, but now think I will. They're annotated by his "guru", John Saunders, a much respected chess commentator and writer.  Phil Morgan 

Shock Defeat for Magnus

posted Nov 24, 2016, 4:59 AM by Phil Morgan   [ updated Nov 24, 2016, 3:47 PM ]

Shock defeat for Magnus Carlsen.

Magnus Carlsen lost in Game 8 of his World Championship match to Russian challenger, Sergei Karjakin. The 25 year old Norwegian, who became World Champion in November, 2013, was expected to hold the title for years to come. Now with four games left he is at serious risk of losing his crown. The first seven matches were draws thanks to some outstanding defence by Karjakin. The pressure of the match seems to have got to Magnus in Round 8. He played risky moves culminating in a losing blunder.

The final position of Game 8 makes for a very interesting study position. Karjakin has just played 52  ...a2., the only winning move!
Magnus resigned. If you can work out why he resigned, you have serious chess-playing ability, and we would be very happy for you to join our club!.


The New Season

posted Aug 6, 2016, 6:30 AM by Phil Morgan

The football season starts today, about a month before chess resumes. Each new season brings out new hopes or expectations. In football will this be the year that our club . be it Mansfield, Chesterfield, Derby, Leeds or Tottenham, breaks through?. I've nailed my colours to the mast, and backed Leeds United to be promoted at 11-1.The chances of this occurring depend on our President not discarding his managers like suits. 

Ashfield will be fielding 4 teams in the Notts League. We managed to keep 2 teams up in Division 1 last season, despite 3 of the club's stronger players having very limited playing availability. Any increase in these players' availability will boost our teams' prospects. Ashfield 2  start the season as strong relegation favourite. I'll be very happy to match our tally of 6 points last season.

Ashfield 3 have lost David Woodhouse. We wish him well with his new club, Belper. We are always looking to increase our playing squads. If you're new to the area,  and interested in playing for a club, we'd be pleased to hear from you.

My personal chess hopes rest on Pensioner Power. I've noticed a few players appear to have improved following retirement from work. The down side of this is that I can no longer use Workplace Fatigue or Stress as excuses for poor results .

A rule change has scrapped time controls and it will be fascinating to see the impact of this. Players could in the past  experience 2 separate time scrambles i.e. to reach the time control and to conclude the game. How will the players who get into time difficulties manage this changes? Alan Robinson's games could be very entertaining and nerve-racking.  

There will a club Rapidplay event on Sunday, 18th September. If you are interested in playing in this, please contact the Club Secretary.. 

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