Thursday, 17 December 2015

Thinking Allowed

Enjoyed my chat about chess with Laurie Taylor and Gary Fine on yesterday's (16 December 2015) BBC Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed. Laurie was a very affable and relaxed host, and I enjoyed his company. I also enjoyed meeting Professor Simon Down of Anglia Ruskin University, who was the guest for the first part of the programme.

It looks as if the programme will be available indefinitely online as an MP3 download. So if the above link fails to work after a time, you could try downloading the MP3 version here. The chess content starts around 12 minutes into the show.

I am very grateful to all four UK chess federations (English Chess Federation, Chess Scotland, Welsh Chess Union, Ulster Chess Union) for their prompt and helpful responses to my request for figures of active competitive players in their respective countries. For the record, the figures I quoted on the programme were 20,000 currently active and/or registered competition chess players in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland combined, and 48,200 schoolchildren who competed in the 2015 Delancey UK Schools Chess Challenge (I found the figure here in the 2016 entry form). As I said on the programme, there will be an overlap between the two figures which is not readily quantifiable.

Other links:

Laurie Taylor on Wikipedia

Gary Alan Fine on Wikipedia

Profile of Professor Simon Down

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

London Chess Classic

The last fortnight has been very busy but highly enjoyable, writing reports for the London Chess Classic (go to the linked page and click on 'Reports' in the left-hand menu). On the free day there were more chess responsibilities, writing my monthly column for CHESS Magazine, as well as another historical article on the British Championships of the 1960s.

My chess activity doesn't stop there: on Wednesday 15 December at 4pm I'm appearing on the BBC Radio 4 programme Thinking Allowed to talk about sociological aspects of chess with presenter Laurie Taylor and Gary Alan Fine, Professor of Sociology at Northwestern University, whose recent book Players and Pawns: How Chess Builds Community and Culture forms the basis for the discussion. The programme goes out live so you'll have to tune in to see how the discussion goes.

Incidentally, many of you will be wondering whether Professor Fine is a relative of the legendary Reuben Fine. He isn't, and he doesn't claim to be a strong competition chess player but that's probably a good thing as it gives him a more independent standpoint. I've read the book: he's done some thorough research and written an excellent work which goes to the heart of our game and the culture surrounding it, coming up with a number of intriguing sociological conclusions.

Photo of world champion Magnus Carlsen on stage for the final round of the London Classic