Saturday, 17 November 2007

Dogs and Cats Playing Chess

First things first... apologies to anyone who has been trying to access the BCM website which has been down all day (Saturday 17 November). Seems to be the fault of the web hosts - nothing we can do about it.

I have just enjoyed reading an amusing story on the Streatham and Brixton blog - click here - featuring the hapless fictional English GM Geoff Scorebook (a sort of chessplaying Mr Pooter) and the day he was forced to play chess against a dog.

Those Streatham guys give great blog and I exhort you to read their stuff. If you read to the end of the comments on this story you will find that I feebly try to top EJH's story with a tale about a cat that played chess (or at least one move of a game of chess). Only my story happens to be absolutely true. I thought you might like to see a picture of Scamp, the remarkable animal that once played 1 Rh1-g1, having a kip on his favourite chess set. Notice how he wraps his paw protectively round the king. He definitely knows something, that cat.


  1. What a splendid puss.

    I think all tournaments should have an official cat, to patrol the playing area and occasionally remind the players that what they are doing is not actually important.

  2. An excellent idea. Cats have that ability, don't they? Very often, as I am typing away at my computer, there will suddenly be a feline presence interposed between my face and the screen, looking imploringly into my eyes and suggesting that it is a meal-time. Cats, of course, prefer about 10-12 meals a day in contrast to our meagre three. However, it is often a useful reminder to me that I too need to eat.

    The Monarch Assurance tournament has an official dog mascot ( Coincidentally also called Scamp. He is tournament director Jean-Pierre Depin's little pooch and he quite often scampers around the tournament hall. But he never barks in there, whereas he does in the adjoining bar and reception areas. There is also a stray Manx (i.e. tailless) cat which occasionally wanders around the Ocean Castle Hotel ( If I remember rightly, back in 2004 the cat made itself slightly unpopular by biting the chief arbiter, Dave Welch but it seemed to take to the late John Robinson and submitted to having its tummy tickled.

  3. I seem to remember discussing said cat, in its presence, with yourself...

  4. Great story and picture. I used to have a cat that seemed to really enjoy castling.

    I had a position setup on my board from a correspondence game. My cat would routinely castle long in the game. He started suggesting the move even before it was legal (still had another piece on the back rank).

    Eventually, the position evolved to where castling long was both legal and a good move. I made the move and won the game. It was my first ever correspondence game. Does that count as outside assistance?

    (True story but I can't really expect to be believed).