Wednesday 1 December 2010

Women's World Chess Championship, Aralik (TUR), 2-25 December

Women's World Chess Championship, Aralik (TUR), 2-25 December
The Women's World Championship is being held in Aralik, Turkey, from 2-25 December 2010. It is a 64-player knock-out competition, with mini-matches of two longplay games and rapidplay/blitz tie-breaks as necessary. Alexandra Kosteniuk (RUS) is the title holder and nominally top seed (though she is 12th on rating). The favourites are probably Humpy Koneru (IND), Hou Yifan (CHN) and Tatiana Kosintseva (RUS), though the reigning champion punches above her rating in such events and must have a reasonable chance of retaining her title. England's Jovanka Houska (2421) is seeded 34th and in the first round meets Iweta Rajlich (POL, 2446, 31st seed). Official website:

Monday 29 November 2010

Wikileaks: Nothing About Chess

I visited Wikileaks to see if there was anything about chess, for example all those conspiracy theories that Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov came out with - for example, did Karpov and Kasparov really make up all those world championship games, did IBM get Karpov to make some moves on behalf of Deep Blue when it beat Garry, did Kirsan liaise with the little green men, etc, etc?

What a disappointment. I'm none the wiser. Nothing about chess at all, just some stuff about a war in the Middle East which I have no interest in (I've been editing chess magazines for the last decade, for heaven's sake). They might at least have told us whether Osama Bin Laden plays the Queen's Gambit but no... nothing... zilch... zippo.

Well, at least they haven't found out that all us chessplayers are Communists and are engaged in a worldwide struggle to checkmate capitalism, so our big secret's safe at least. Er... wait a minute, did I write that down instead of just think it? Whoops... and is that the doorbell? Just a sec... oh dear... these large gentlemen in sharp suits say I have to put my coat on and go with them to answer a few questions. I could be a while. See you soon, everyone... hopefully...

Saturday 20 November 2010

Chess is a Crime II: Justin Bieber Arrested for Looking Like Magnus Carlsen

Following the story about the NYPD arresting and charging seven men for playing chess in a restricted area comes this sensational story from LA...

Justin Bieber: Arrested for looking like a chessplayer

The photo shows teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber being arrested in LA yesterday. But it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. An embarrassed LAPD spokesman later explained: "You see, he looked just a tiny bit like notorious pawn-pusher Magnus Carlsen. We are cracking down on chess in the USA and the police have orders to take immediate action if they spot one of these so-called 'grandmasters' on the street. We can't apologise more for suspecting Justin might be a chessplayer."

P.S. Actually Justin is a chessplayer - see this story.

Friday 19 November 2010

Drop That Bishop and Come Out With Your Hands Up!

Most of us have reluctantly accepted that chess is not part of the culture in either the UK or the USA, but since when did it become a crime? Here's a weird example of the NYPD showing zero tolerance towards the playing of chess (which Ukrainian GM Mikhail Golubev spotted in the New York Post):

A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the "crime" of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids -- even though no youngsters were there.
Amazingly, charges were not dropped after the police discovered what the men were doing and they still have to face criminal charges in the Manhattan Criminal Court in December.

This reminded me of an incident from my youth when, with two other youngsters, I happened to be emerging from a building in an ill-lit backstreet of High Wycombe one night. A police car suddenly hove into view and stopped rather abruptly alongside us. An officer wound down the window and barked out a question: "where did you three spring from?" Acting as spokesperson for my "gang", I replied "the chess club". He responded with a somewhat disappointed "oh!" and was gone as suddenly as he arrived. Any young offenders or other ne'er-do-wells reading this might like to consider the "chess club" line as a useful cover story for their nefarious doings though I must reiterate that, in this instance, it was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Back to the story: an NYPD spokesman later tried to justify the heavy-handed treatment of the 'Chessplaying Seven' on the grounds that one of them had 'a bit of previous' (as they say on cop shows): "One of [the] men had priors for reckless endangerment, grand larceny, drug possession, and criminal mischief." Reckless endangerment? Well, we're all guilty of that, aren't we? You should see the way I play the Ponziani.

Wednesday 17 November 2010

The Fourth Polgar Sister?

Is BBC news presenter Kirsty Wark the secret fourth Polgar sister?

Left: Judit Polgar...........Right: Kirsty Wark

I think we should be told.

Saturday 13 November 2010

Any Dancing Partners for Magnus?

GM Simen Agdestein on Norwegian TV's 'Dancing with the Stars' - but could his protégé Magnus Carlsen demonstrate similar fancy footwork were he to attempt a breakaway world chess championship?

Leonard Barden's Guardian column of 13 November 2010 is on Magnus Carlsen's withdrawal from the World Chess Championship Candidates' competition. In the column, Leonard makes this point:
"... the bold move could be for London, as in 1993, to go for a high profile breakaway series in 2011 which would still allow the winner to play the official match a year later."
I noticed that Leonard wrote "series" and not "match" and that was probably for a good reason. One difference between Magnus's vision for the championship and the 1993 breakaway match between Kasparov and Short (or Fischer's attempt to play Karpov in 1975 without FIDE's blessing) is that Magnus doesn't seem to be talking about matchplay as a championship system. In the past it has taken 'two to tango' to set up a breakaway match - and that has proved quite hard enough - but Magnus would need a whole dancing troupe were he to attempt a breakaway to suit his aspirations. Perhaps Magnus should seek advice from his former mentor, pro-footballer-cum-GM Simen Agdestein who starred in Norwegian TV's equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing.

Friday 5 November 2010

Carlsen Puts Himself En Prise

The big news of the day... Magnus Carlsen has withdrawn from the World Championship cycle.

Carlsen at the 2009 London Chess Classic - he plays again in 2010

Here is the content of his letter to FIDE:

Letter to FIDE
To: FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov & FIDE World Championship Committee.
Reference is made to the ongoing World Championship cycle.
The purpose of this letter is to inform you of my decision not to take part in the planned Candidate Matches between March and May 2011.
After careful consideration I’ve reached the conclusion that the ongoing 2008–2012 cycle does not represent a system, sufficiently modern and fair, to provide the motivation I need to go through a lengthy process of preparations and matches and to perform at my best.
Reigning champion privileges, the long (five year) span of the cycle, changes made during the cycle resulting in a new format (Candidates) that no World Champion has had to go through since Kasparov, puzzling ranking criteria as well as the shallow ceaseless match-after-match concept are all less than satisfactory in my opinion.
By providing you with four months notice before the earliest start of the Candidates as well as in time before you have presented player contracts or detailed regulations, I rest assured that you will be able to find an appropriate replacement.
Although the purpose of this letter is not to influence you to make further changes to the ongoing cycle, I would like to take the opportunity to present a few ideas about future cycles in line with our input to FIDE during the December 27th 2008 phone-conference between FIDE leaders and a group of top-level players.
In my opinion privileges should in general be abolished and a future World Championship model should be based on a fair fight between the best players in the World, on equal terms. This should apply also to the winner of the previous World Championship, and especially so when there are several players at approximately the same level in the world elite. (Why should one player have one out of two tickets to the final to the detriment of all remaining players in the world? Imagine that the winner of the 2010 Football World Cup would be directly qualified to the 2014 World Cup final while all the rest of the teams would have to fight for the other spot.)
One possibility for future cycles would be to stage an 8-10 player World Championship tournament similar to the 2005 and 2007 events.
The proposal to abolish the privileges of the World Champion in the future is not in any way meant as criticism of, or an attack on, the reigning World Champion Viswanathan Anand, who is a worthy World Champion, a role model chess colleague and a highly esteemed opponent.
Rest assured that I am still motivated to play competitive chess. My current plan is to continue to participate in well-organised top-level tournaments and to try to maintain the no 1 spot on the rating list that I have successfully defended for most of 2010.
Best regards,
IGM Magnus Carlsen

This sensational move is a very big deal for the world of chess. Magnus Carlsen is the biggest thing to happen to chess in the western hemisphere since Bobby Fischer in the 1960s and represents a major chance to see the game back in the limelight. For most of 2010 Carlsen has been ranked world number one player, aged only 19. He is likely to regain that position very soon and in time could go on to establish the sort of dominance enjoyed by the young Garry Kasparov. This decision means that he now cannot become official world champion for another four or five years.

From the point of view of the world chess championship itself: although it will undoubtedly proceed without him and produce a challenger to Vishy Anand, much of its credibility as a competition will have gone, as well as its saleability to prospective hosts and sponsors, particularly in Western Europe. The Candidates' competition is due to be played in Russia and most of the competitors are from Eastern Europe. They, and the World Chess Federation, may feel that Carlsen's withdrawal doesn't really affect them and is just a problem for those people in the western hemisphere who are trying to boost the popularity of chess in that part of the world. However, this is very short-sighted thinking: a high-profile championship challenger from the west would lead to a major boost for chess worldwide, thus enhancing all professional chessplayers' incomes and status.

It is hard not to make comparisons with Bobby Fischer, who several times withdrew from world chess championship qualifying cycles following disputes with organisers and officials. But how far does this comparison stand up? By the time he came to challenge for the world title, Fischer was very much a man alone, listening to advice from few and not always following it when it was given. Carlsen, one suspects, is very different: managed by his father, recently coached by Garry Kasparov, sponsored by Arctic Securities, he cuts a more worldly and well-rounded figure, and it has to be imagined that some, if not all, of the aforementioned agencies would have played a significant advisory role in the decision-making process.

But, in another sense, perhaps Fischer and Carlsen are more alike. After winning the championship in 1972, Fischer had promised he would play more but he actually failed to play at all (save a rematch with his rival-cum-buddy Spassky in 1992). Though unquestionably obsessed with chess (he still analysed and studied the game after he had stopped playing), Fischer may simply not have enjoyed taking part in competitions. This is not uncommon at all levels of the game: plenty of people have an interest in the game, and can be remarkably strong players, despite a distaste for entering chess competitions, for all manner of reasons. As for Carlsen, although he has amply recovered from his recent slump in form, his body language at the board is not always that of someone who enjoys the grind of elite-level chess. He sometimes looks bored or fed up whilst in play. His choice of unorthodox openings in some recent games is another symptom of possible ennui. It appears as if he is trying to rekindle his passion for the game by putting aside the same old openings for something a bit livelier. 

Perhaps Carlsen’s second career, as a model for G-RAW clothes, has given him the taste for the high life, and making big money with far less exertion than spending all day slaving over a hot chessboard. All speculation, of course, but perhaps there is something in it. His sporting analogy was to football, but tennis may be more to the point - an attritional game like chess, where prodigies often burn out at a young age or move into lucrative fringe activities. There must now be a slight worry that, after a few more tournament victories but with no new worlds to conquer, Carlsen may simply walk away from chess. Let's hope not.

Carlsen drops a fairly large hint in his press release that he would prefer a tournament-based championship system to matchplay. As mentioned above, his analogy is to football, where all teams start championships on the same footing, but others would analogise with boxing, where challengers have to win through a number of challenges for a chance to take on the champion. The latter format is closer to the long chess tradition, still favoured by Kasparov, Karpov and Kramnik, though it is possible Anand and Topalov might side with Carlsen. One is forced to agree with Carlsen that the particular arrangements envisaged for the 2011 Candidates’ competition, with four-game deciders building up to a six-game Candidates’ final, seem totally inadequate, and he is surely right about the World Chess Federation’s general mismanagement of the cycle to date. However, this particular part of the press release arguably weakens his overall argument. A lot of rank and file chess fans won't like it. The matchplay format for the world championship still enjoys a good degree of popularity in the chess world at large. As well as antagonising traditionalists, Carlsen's revelation of his own preferred format signals a possible ulterior motive to his withdrawal. It starts to look like a unilateral bid to change the championship system to one of his liking - all too reminiscent of some of his great (but none too democratically-minded) predecessors’ attempts to adjust the championship format in their own favour.

The timing of the press release is interesting, coming a month or so after Anatoly Karpov’s defeat in the FIDE Presidential election. Would Carlsen have stayed in the competition had Karpov been FIDE President? Very possibly, but we cannot be sure. Even had Karpov been elected, it may have been too late for him to change the 2011 Candidates’ competition arrangements.

It is hard to judge the likely effect on professional chess of Carlsen’s withdrawal. Some will argue that it will do damage - they will say that the reconstituted world championship cycle, though still far from ideal, was in the process of being repaired after the major schism of 1993 and that this will set back progress.

The likely counter argument of the Carlsen camp is that another four years of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov at the helm, with his long history of arbitrary, ill-judged decisions and long-delayed, underfunded competitions, will soon lead to more trouble anyway. Their thinking is that the fight to reform professional chess is inevitable and may as well start right now. Carlsen has already proved he is a great chessplayer but this is his first major move on the chess politics board, against the so far unbeaten ‘world chess politics champion’, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Carlsen has placed himself, the strongest piece on the board, en prise. Will his risky gambit pay off? Your move, Kirsan...

Wednesday 3 November 2010

ECF Chief Exec Joins The Blogosphere

Two welcome pieces of English chess news...

The new Chief Executive of the English Chess Federation (ECF), Andrew Farthing, has joined the blogosphere. He is a thoughtful and articulate writer and his blogs are well worth reading.

Also, the ECF has reinstated a link to the English Chess Forum - - which hosts lively discussions on everything to do with English (and indeed British and World) chess. The forum remains independent of the federation as before but it has been good to see more and more ECF directors and officials responding to members' questions and comments there.

Both initiatives indicate a welcome improvement in communications policy by the federation, following the lead set by Stewart Reuben, CJ de Mooi and others.

Friday 29 October 2010

Wednesday 29 September 2010

K > K+K

Only in chess... K > K+K...

Difficult to know what to say about an organisation which is so out of touch with its constituents. At least, the more significant of its constituents. So, best to say nothing for the time being.

Khanky-Panky in Khanty-Manty?

I'm just blogging this because I wanted to be the first to use that headline. Anyone else using it now has to pay me a £10 royalty per use.

But I bet there is plenty of hanky-panky in Khanty today - the day of the vote to decide whether we want four more years of ET's best friend or four years of something slightly more grounded on planet earth. I confess I am not optimistic.

"Can You Hear Me, Maggie Carlsen?"

I've just stumbled upon the blog of top Norwegian GM Jon-Ludvig Hammer...
... and found it to be excellent. Of course, when I say "top Norwegian GM", I haven't forgotten the other young guy from that part of the world who sits atop the world rating list. Jon-Ludvig has some photos of a relaxed Magnus Carlsen wandering around Khanty-Mansiysk, playing cards with his team mates, etc.
Jon-Ludvig Hammer gives great blog.

I couldn't help but laugh when I saw Magnus's nickname amongst his Norwegian teammates. It's 'Maggie'. The rest of us chess writers have been busily 'bigging' him up, calling him 'Magnificent Magnus' and comparing his name to Charlemagne, etc, but to his Norwegian mates he's just plain 'Maggie'*. That is rather endearing.

These days, for British people and perhaps for others round the world, the name 'Maggie' instantly brings to mind our former prime minister. This in its turn triggered the thought of Mrs T's name being taken in vain in the context of a famous football match between Norway and England in 1981 when the Norwegian commentator ecstatically reeled off the names of famous English people (including Nelson, Churchill and Princess Diana) as he gloried in the Norwegian victory. The final salvo of Bjørge Lillelien's immortal taunt was "Maggie Thatcher, can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher - your boys took a hell of a beating! Your boys took a hell of a beating!" Now the boot is on the other foot: it is Norway that has the famous 'Maggie' and, only this week, their "boys" (including 'Maggie') took a "hell of a beating" from the English chess team. Has Mickey Adams finally laid the ghost of 1981? Can you hear me, Maggie Carlsen?

* Postscript: Before anyone gets too hung up on Magnus Carlsen's nickname being 'Maggie', Jon-Ludvig has just told me this is his own private name for Magnus! "I just like calling him that," says GM Hammer.

Friday 10 September 2010

Bent Larsen (1935-2010)

Some very sad news: the great Danish player Bent Larsen (4 iii 1935 - 9 ix 2010) is no more. In the second half of the 1960s his light shone as bright as Bobby Fischer, brighter at times, as these two vied to be considered the leading western challenger to the Soviet stranglehold on the world title. 

Larsen won no fewer than three interzonals, in 1964 (Amsterdam - where the photo was taken), 1967 (Sousse) and 1976 (Biel), and played on top board ahead of Fischer for the Rest of the World in the so-called 'Match of the Century' against the Soviet Union in 1970. 

He was also Fischer's rival as a chess writer, bringing out his hugely influential English language edition of 50 Selected Games around the time Fischer's legendary My Sixty Memorable Games was published. Larsen's aspirations to the world title were cut short when he suffered a calamitous 0-6 defeat to Fischer in the Candidates' semi-final in 1971, and with the subsequent rise of Anatoly Karpov, but he remained a top-flight grandmaster for many years and one whose fighting attitude to the game and opening ideas remain influential to this day. 

I remembered ordering his Larsen's 50 Selected Games of Chess 1948-69 and Fischer's Sixty Memorable Games at the same time and having them arrive in the same package. I can even tell you the day they arrived because I wrote it on the inside cover - 14 September 1970, forty years ago less four days. The simultaneous arrival of Fischer and Larsen on my doormat created a problem - which to read first? A real dilemma which I only half-solved by dipping into one and then sampling the other for an hour or two. As dilemmas go, it was a very happy one, of course. They remain two of my three favourite chess books of all time (the third being Donner's The King). Tonight I shall sit down in my favourite chair, with the well-loved, red dust-jacketed volume and fondly remind myself of the great man via his own words and moves. R.I.P.

Thursday 9 September 2010

When Garry Met Carol...

Carol: "Come on, Garry, you remember me, surely?" 
Garry: "No clues! I'm thinking... consonant, vowel, consonant, consonant, vowel... "

Carol Vorderman and Garry Kasparov at last night's chess shindig at Simpsons to support Anatoly Karpov's campaign to become FIDE (World Chess Federation) president. Carol was presenter of Channel Four's 1993 World Chess Championship TV coverage, when Kasparov met Short at the Savoy Hotel.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Book Review: 'Sixty Years in the Same Room'

'Sixty Years in the Same Room' by Robert H Jones (Keverel Chess Books, 2010)

The sub-title of this book perhaps gives a better clue to its contents: "a history of the Paignton Chess Congress". The title refers to the fact that this much-loved congress has been played annually since 1951 in the very same room of the prestigious Oldway Mansion in Paignton. It started life in 1951 as a celebration of the Devon County Chess Association's 50th year of existence and it is now coming up to its own 60th instalment in the same room of the same building (of course), running from Saturday 5th to Saturday 11th September 2010.

Chess in the West Country is very lucky to have its own dedicated historian, Bob Jones, who for many years has lovingly memorialised the game in this part of England in newspaper articles, books and on the web (e.g. here and here). In this book he has collated the history of the congress from coverage given in CHESS, BCM and other sources, with photos of some of the contestants, summaries of each year's tournaments, pen pictures of eminent players and sixty memorable games (where have I heard that phrase before?! No, Bobby Fischer didn't play there but one famous world champion did come to Paignton and suffered defeat in the very first round ever played in the congress. The book tells all). There is even a section on the history of the Oldway Mansion, which started life as the home of the celebrated US plutocrat Isaac Singer, and the author even touches on this remarkable gentleman's decidedly colourful love-life (in the best possible taste, of course).

The book is effectively a nostalgic look-back at British chess throughout the past sixty years, since nearly everyone who is anyone in the British chess world has put in an appearance there at some point in their career. The Paignton Congress is a fixed point in the much-changing universe of British chess, perhaps even more so than the more venerable Hastings Congress (with its changed formats and venues). It is quaint but delightfully so and its supporters come back year after year, and decade after decade. Not just amateurs, either - Keith Arkell is its most loyal supporter amongst the chess elite, also local boy made Australian(!) Gary Lane, and there are plenty of other titled players who have played there. It is cunningly held just after the school term begins in September but that did not stop a very young Mickey Adams putting in a crafty appearance or two when he was 'nobbut a lad' (skiving off school to play chess? You could already tell he was going to be a top-class player). And Mickey is there again in 2010, giving a simul on 7 September 2010, according to the entry form. Mickey is of course a born and bred West Country man and it is a matter of enormous and well-deserved pride in those parts to have produced arguably the finest chessplayer ever to have come from these islands.

This is clearly a well-researched labour of love by Bob Jones and it will be a delightful read for those who have ever played at Paignton, or are well-stricken in years and enjoy a good helping of chess nostalgia. One very nice touch was his dedication: "to chess widows everywhere and my wife Jennifer, in particular". I showed this to my own "chess widow" and reminded her that, 15 years ago, she had declared the Paignton Congress to be the best one she had ever been to. She still stands by this verdict, on the grounds that it allowed us to do some tourism in the morning, in a particularly lovely part of Devon, then she could take a time-out in the afternoon while I played my chess and finally we could rendezvous in the evening for dinner. I have to say that Elaine's criticism of certain other congresses (which better remain nameless) has been withering in the extreme - so, for her to utter words of approbation about Paignton should be taken as the very highest recommendation possible.

I'm guessing that this book will be available from The Chess Shop in Baker Street any day now (my review copy was hot off the press) or from Bob himself. 157 pages softback, plenty of photos, £15.99.

Saturday 7 August 2010

Mickey Adams wins at a Canter(bury)

This is the final moment of Mickey Adams' victorious progress at the 2010 British Championship in Canterbury on 6 August. He led from the off and never looked in any real difficulty. Peter Wells (left of picture above) came closest to defeating him in the last round but Mickey had already wrapped up the title with a round to spare so it would have made no difference.

I enjoyed my trip to Canterbury yesterday. Perhaps the most significant moment was immediately before play when the president of the English Chess Federation, CJ de Mooi, took the microphone to make an announcement about next year's British Championship in Sheffield. He told us that the first prize was to be upped from £5,000 to £10,000 (as it had been under Smith & Williamson's former sponsorship) and that he obtained a commitment from Britain's four leading players - Mickey Adams, Nigel Short, Luke McShane and David Howell - that they would take part. Also, he said that another ten British GMs would play. This is a welcome shot in the arm for the game in Britain and also an indicator of the dynamism and panache that CJ de Mooi has brought to chess administration in these islands. Well done to him.

I picked a really good day to watch play. As well as the top board game, which was fiercely contested, there was plenty of competitive chess on most of the other leading boards, and in the other sections. Personally I enjoy watching chess more or less whatever the level of play, so long as the game is evenly matched and keenly contested. I also particularly enjoy watching an endgame battle and there were quite a few of these in evidence. One significant one was on the top board of the British Senior (aged 60+) Championship, where Paul Habershon was trying to convert an extra pawn against tournament leader Paul Byway in order to share the title with him and Ken Norman. Paul Byway just needed the draw to take the title on his own.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Irina Krush Rap

Well, I must admit it's not the sort of thing that Mrs ex-BCM Editor and I like to listen to of an evening (we prefer to play some nice Mantovani or perhaps get out one of our Winifred Attwell records as we sip our Wincarnis), but young people seem to like it...

Wednesday 23 June 2010

Goodbye to all that BCM... and hello to my new blog!

If you pop over to the BCM website, you will learn that I am coming to the end of my 11 years as BCM editor on 31 July 2010. I shall be sorry to go but the time had come and I'm eager to move on to new things. 

However, as one door closes, another opens. I shall be carrying on working in the chess world, and I've now moved my old BCMChess blog to this new address where I will once again be commenting on chess events.

I shall be also be looking after the BCM website pro tem, and also my own BritBase website, which I shall be maintaining as before.

Friday 23 April 2010

Paradise Regained

BCM's editor is back in Blighty. The journey took 47 hours, from 4am on Tuesday in Gib, to 3am on Thursday in Kingston-upon-Thames. I won't bore you with too many details but the Spanish travel arrangements went like clockwork while the French ones went wrong from the moment we crossed the border. So it's 'Viva España' when it comes to the much underestimated but highly efficient RENFE railway system but 'zut alors' to France's overrated, incompetent/dishonest SNCF (who took bookings on the Sunday for a Tuesday train that had already been cancelled as the result of strike action). That's no criticism of individual French people who showed us kindness and generosity at various points of the journey. But French officialdom has a lot to answer for. The next time someone makes a joke about 'mañana' to me, I shall suggest they really mean 'demain'.

Saturday 17 April 2010

Coming Soon: The Gibraltar Chess Magazine

An announcement: from 1 May 2010, the British Chess Magazine will be known as the Gibraltar Chess Magazine. This is because the editor, John Saunders, has relocated to the large rock of that name for the indefinite future.

Well, not really. But the last bit is true. I'm in Gibraltar at the moment and I could be here for a while, thanks to a geological malfunction in the land of Bobby Fischer's last resting place. Don't worry, BCM subscribers, I can still do my day job whilst holed up here... very comfortably, I should add, at the Caleta Hotel, venue of the Gibtelecom Chess Festival. I came here a couple of days ago to plan the tournament's metamorphosis into the 2011 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival (which will be bigger and better than ever) but it seems my stay might be longer than I had intended.

P.S. If anyone knows of a boat passing by Gibraltar, do you think you could ask the captain to drop by and give me a lift home? In return I am willing to give chess lessons and pass on hundreds of exclusive, scurrilous stories about chess players.

Monday 18 January 2010

Probably the Best Chessplayer in the World

This month's issue of British Chess Magazine is now out, a little (well, OK, a lot) later than usual. We were keen to include a full report of the London Chess Classic as it was the best thing to happen to British chess for a long time.

For the cover we couldn't resist designing a graphic along the lines of a certain brand of beer of a similar name to the world chess number one. It's not quite the same design (nor the same font) so hopefully those jolly nice chaps who brew the excellent beer will not be minded to sue.

We have no fewer than 40 pages of games and photos on this fantastic tournament in the January BCM, amounting to a souvenir issue. I do urge you all to buy a copy - only £4.05 from a website near you.