The big switchover – and switch off!

As presaged in my post two days ago, I have decided to switch this blog to a Blogger platform, in order to incorporate on-screen game replays. You can find the new blog here. The present blog will remain, but will not be updated from now on. Please update your bookmarks accordingly.

Hell hath no fury

Today is the day of the annual Varsity match, held at the RAC Club, in London’s Pall Mall. It is a fine, immensely traditional, occasion. Alas, although a graduate of Oxford, I never played in it. The closest I got was my freshman year, when I was top board for the second team – a bit like getting a vote of thanks from the Chairman. And, lest any of the termitic persuasion suspect otherwise, I have never even attended one -no, I don’t get an automatic invitation from The Times’ chess correspondent, nor do I expect one.

But I don’t resent it at all. On the contrary, I am delighted that, in a world of crumbling values, where “tradition” has become a term of abuse, some things still endure, and are still respected by the people who actually matter in the chess world. The fixture is not as strong as in the days when virtually the entire England team, plus reserves, were playing, but it remains an excellent event. I hope all present have a fine day, with some exciting chess, and afterwards a fine dinner, win or lose.

Sadly, some take their failure to make the team rather more bitterly.  

“I could have been a contender!”

Blog development

I have spent the afternoon exploring various options, regarding development of this blog. I would like to incorporate on-screen replay of games and positions, but this is not technically possible within the hosted WordPress environment (neither FTP nor embedding of Javascript are allowed). Thanks to a tip from John Saunders, I have discovered that Blogger is less restrictive, and so I have been looking into the possibilities there. If I can find a satisfactory way of providing on-screen replay facilities there, then I may move to a Blogger platform. So far, I have identified two utilities that allow it to be done (Chessbase 11 and pgn4web), but I am not 100% satisfied with either, so I am not yet prepared to make the switch.

The other option would be a self-hosted blog, but that involves more hassle and is something I would prefer to avoid. So, for the time being, we will have to manage without on-screen replays, but research continues. I am consulting my IT adviser:

“Termites at 356, mark 4, Captain! Photon torpedoes locked on and ready to fire.” (photo:

Moves we would all like to play (17)

From the latest issue of the Russian journal 64 comes a remarkable study by top Russian composer, Oleg Pervakov. It took first prize in last year’s study composing competition, held to mark the 50th birthday of the Dutch study guru, Harold van der Heijden. In 64, Pervakov explains at length the genesis of this study; here, we will just admire the wonderful finished product.

O Pervakov, 1st Pr, Harold van der Heijden 50


White has two extra pieces, but the black a-pawn is about to queen and White also has a rook hanging.
1. Rd4+!!

The other sacrifice 1. Re5+ Kxe5 2. Bxh6 fails to the spectacular 2…a1=Q 3. Bg7+ Ke4 4. Bxa1 Rc1 5. Rf4+ Ke3

and although he has two extra pieces, all of White’s units are attacked, and he cannot avoid a drawn ending with R+minor piece v rook. Note that 6. Bd4+ Kxf4 7. Ne2+ fails to 7…Ke4! This is a harbinger of what is to come; meanwhile, back at move one…

1… Kxd4 2. Bb2+ Ke3

2… Kd5 3. Rf5+ wins easily.

3. Rf3+!!

Again, the only check. The alternative 3. Re2+? fails after 3…Kd3! 4. Kxc5 Rh5+! 5. Kb4 a1=Q! 6. Bxa1 Rb5+! 7. Kxb5 stalemate!

A nice mid-board stalemate. Once again, make a note of this position – something similar recurs soon.

3… Ke4! 4. Kxc5 a1=Q! 5. Bxa1 Rc6+!

Now after 6.Kxc6, we would have an echo of the previous stalemate – the only difference is that the two kings and the white rook have each moved one square to the “north-east” – instead of being on the f1-a6 diagonal, they are on the h1-a8 diagonal.

6. Kb5! Rc1

Chasing the king by 6… Rc5+ 7. Kb6 Rc6+ 8. Kb7 comes to nothing, since now the BK has access to d5, so a further rook check on c7 or b6 could just be captured. Black would therefore have to play 8…Rc1, which comes to the same thing as the game.

7. Rf4+! Ke3

Compare this diagram with that in the note to 1.Re5+?. The only difference is that the white king is now on b5, instead of b4. But that makes all the difference!

8. Ra4!

And this is why – with the WK on b4, this is impossible, of course.

8…Rxg1 9. Bd4+ 1-0

A magnificent tour de force by Pervakov, and a pretty nice birthday present to receive, don’t you think?

Oscars night triumph

“Of course, you realise that I was the original model for the Oscars statuette?”

Termitewatch (14)

Is Carl “Old Mother” Hibbard, the Censor in Chief of the Egregious Chess Forum, running out of patience with his termitic brethren? Not content with handing out individual bans like confetti, to anyone who questions his unlimited authority, he has now posted a note under the Rules and Registration thread, headed “Account Deletion”, which states:

I reserve the right to delete any members (sic) account, without giving any reason as to why (sic)

This Kafka-esque pronouncement is not accompanied by any attempt at justifying such peremptory action. Still more amusingly, despite Old Mother’s frequent fulminations at the author of this blog, for refusing to allow comments,  the thread in question has been locked, thus preventing other termites from commenting!

Could it be that Old Mother is reaching his wits’ end (admittedly, not a lengthy journey in his case) with his brethren?  Perhaps he needs some assistants, to enforce his divine will?

“Exterminate! Exterminate!”  (photo:

Adolf’s artistry – the solution

I left you with this problem by the great Adolf Anderssen:

Adolf Anderssen 1842

White to play and mate in four.

It solves neatly by 1.Bh5 Kxh5 2.Kg7 h6 3.Kf6 Kh4 4.Kg6 mate.



I have just come across a hilarious interview with the chess world’s favourite space traveller, Kirsan Nikolaevich Illyumzhinov. The interview, translated into English, can be found on the Chessbase site, here.

Ill-Lunatic is trumpeting the new agreement with Agon, under which the latter will run the next two world championship cycles, including the alleged London Candidates, later this year. The Spaceman declares that  “For the coming cycles, FIDE should receive around ten to twelve million Euros”, and this is in addition to its customary 20% cut of the prize funds! Riches beyond the dreams of avarice! Sadly, he does not explain exactly where Agon is going to get all this money. If past practice in the chess world is anything to go by, the players in the world championship cycle will all be required to stay in an “official” hotel, at a “special”  rate of $20,000 per night.

Thus far is funny enough, but I burst out laughing at the next bit. Agon are going to raise chess to new levels, by bringing it to prestigious Western European cities. According to Ill-Lunatic, ” This year it will start in Chelyabinsk and Tashkent, and in the next year Agon is planning to hold these prestigious events in major world capitals: Paris, Madrid, Vienna and Lisbon.” I think that’s what they call “jam tomorrow” – spend a few more weeks of your life in some run-down, ex-Soviet toilet this year, and you’ll get to see Madrid and Paris next year. The trouble is, we have heard all of this before. The last FIDE Grand Prix (once referred to in an initial Press Release as the “Big Helmet” events, thanks to an unfortunate translation mix-up!) were due to be held in such places as Montreux, Doha and Karlovy Vary; they ended up being switched to Nalchik, Elista and Astrakhan respectively.  It is the same old story – you announce events in nice, civilised Western locations, wait until everyone has bought their Apex tickets, and then, at the last moment, you switch it to Shit-holegrad, somewhere in Siberia.

“Once upon a time, many, many years ago, there was a very wise man from Kalmykia. But it wasn’t me”.

We would all love to believe that it will really happen, just as Ill-Lunatic says. But he has said these things even more times than he has sold the rights for the world championship. And the latter have been sold more times than London Bridge, as Malcolm Pein pointed out on Twitter recently.

I have a small piece of advice for our space-travelling President: next time you make such an announcement, preface it with the following words:

“Are you sitting comfortably, children? Then I’ll begin…”

Adolf’s artistry

From the latest issue of the Russian magazine 64 comes a reminder that Adolf Anderssen, of Immortal and Evergreen fame, was also a fairly prolific composer of chess problems. This is one published exactly 140 years ago, which was also reputed to be Wilhelm Steinitz’s favourite chess problem. By modern standards, it is neat, but nothing fantastic. However, I suspect it is the sort of problem that should appeal to OTB players. Have a go at solving it yourself. Solution tomorrow.

White to play and mate in four.

Greek bail-out confirmed

“Of course, if I had been consulted earlier, the Greek bail-out could have been three times as large”.