Friday, August 27, 2010

Chess and other things....

When I was young, in between dreaming of playing for Liverpool FC (or more reasonably elevating myself to first sub for the school football team), becoming a Rock-star,  or simply drooling over the girls in the upper sixth, life seemed to be so simple. I had been interested in chess for a few years and when a certain Mr. R Fischer started his fun and games at Reykjavic, that was it I was hooked.

At the time I remember one of the big questions posed to me - Is Chess an art or a Science or both?  Even then armed only with the arrogance of youth and an ill fitting uniform I thought this was absurd, surely it is about logic? - You may have an infinite amount of moves, but because all white or black responses are not reasonable then it is infinity minus a few. Of course that leads to more confusion and I confess here and now that I do not understand infinity, and certainly cannot comprehend any old monkey writing the complete works of Shakespeare. In my mind he always gets the very last letter wrong, and on the next attempt the second to last is incorrect, ad nauseam, until he starts all over again and simply never finishes it. If he does complete it does that not mean it is the end of the definition of infinity making it finite? A true paradox indeed.

Okay aplologies to all supporters of Morphy, Alekhine, Tal, Capablanca and many other notable chess characters who without doubt were artists in their own way and provided great entertainment, (I wonder if they ever drooled over the upper sixth girls?) but come on guys is it not pure logic?  Below I think is what a Super Computer will say in 2019 after we have moved away from Silicon and start to harness atomic power. This unit has 1,000 gig of RAM with 50.000 gig hard-drive in a mini pc the size of an ipod.

                                    White to Move, unavoidable mate in 57 moves

This always reminds me of another amusing quote -

If God was playing God at chess, white would probably win.

You guessed it I am rambling now, but let's go back to 1972 game one Spassky v Fischer and witness one of the classic 'miscalculations'  of all time from the man himself, Mr Fischer. Was it a blunder or just pure shock tactics, - or both? The only person who can answer that is now dead, but interestingly even now (prior to atomic computers), the same black move is made by Fritz and Rybka at deep levels Bxh2? Fischer hated draws and would rather lose? The ''artistic' temperament of the chess genius.

Why not even try it on your computer? - There are definitely drawing chances!

                                     Science or Art, who really cares?... just enjoy.

Okay that's all for now,  take care and see you soon.

en prise

Let me first point out that this is a purely personal rant and does not necessarily express the views/opinions of Trowbridge Chess Club (or its other members).

For those unaware, the phrase en prise is used by chess players to describe an unprotected piece (or pawn). It derives from the French verb prendre (to take) and can be translated as 'within grasp' or 'able to be taken'. Now those of you with a passing knowledge of French will recognise prise as having a feminine form. This is because it agrees with the generic word for a piece (une pièce in French), which is feminine.

The excellent Edward Winter in his Chess Notes (#4463 and also updated here) observes that en prise is often incorrectly pronounced "on pree", particularly in the United States. I am not especially surprised or alarmed by this. American language does tend to diverge from the original source and from International standards. One might even say it is à la mode.

What does bother me is (British) English speakers who not only fail to pronounce the s in en prise but also have the temerity to castigate others (who aren't so ill-educated) for their perceived inadequacy. Witness one well-known British player advising a fluent French speaker to "learn sone (sic) French pronounciation (sic)". When I politely enquired about his usage I received the following response from another user: "it's french. You don't pronounce the 's'."

In spoken language one might be excused as mistaking the phrase to be en pris or en prix. But when the words are correctly spelled this behaviour simply cannot be condoned. Perhaps (some) people are dimly aware of the rule that (in French) s as a final consonant is usually silent. However, to extend this rule to the ise suffix is a monstrous hypercorrection.

Is it really that troublesome to consult a dictionary? (Or dictionaries, if you prefer.) I'm tempted to offer a bottle of Moët et Chandon (it's not Mo-ay) if you find a genuine dictionary supporting the pree variant. Not that this would prove anything in particular.

Au Revoir!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Warminster Chess Club

Several intrepid chaps are looking to start a new chess club at the Bell and Crown pub in Warminster. The intention is that the club will initially meet on a casual basis each Monday from 7:30 pm.

Depending upon numbers and level of interest the club may seek to enter teams into the local Wiltshire and Somerset Leagues, though this is unlikely to happen until the 2011/12 season.

Contact details will be provided as soon as I have them

For directions to the Bell and Crown please follow this link

Friday, August 6, 2010

Trowbridge Squad 2010-11

Player ECF (latest) 2009 ECF League Results (2009-10)
Girdlestone, Paul 204 194 +2 =0 -1
Cooper, Andrew 174 172 +1 =2 -0
Rothwell, Derek 154 161 +2 =1 -5
Leonard, Mark 152 145 +7 =4 -3
Weston, David 150 142 +5 =0 -1
Woodward, Tim 148 140 +3 =2 -0
Hatvany, Paul 144 150 +0 =4 -2
Cooper, Thomas 144 +0 =0 -0
Williams, R Gareth 134 138 +4 =3 -1
Marshall, Dave 131 138 +2 =2 -0
Ludlow, Roy 126 124 +9 =3 -3
Davis, Adrian 116 114 +2 =1 -0
Crucefix, Nigel 84 85 +0 =4 -6
Ransom, Tony 79 80 +3 =1 -4
Burton, Louis 70 +0 =0 -4

Marshall Attacks - Season Preview 2010-2011

A new chess season dawns and once again Trowbridge will be striving for victory against the finest that Somerset and Wiltshire can muster. Club Captain Tony Ransom can call upon a squad mostly unchanged since last season. Roy Ludlow (player-manager and chief scout for the minor league team) will be looking to repeat last year’s success and unearth another promising new target to rival Louis Burton.

One noticeable absence will be Paul Hatvany who has completed his high profile switch to bridge. Also unavailable for most of last season and unlikely to return are Andy Cooper and Paul Girdlestone. Paul’s loss will be felt all the more with his grade soaring back above 200. All of which will leave Trowbridge looking somewhat light on the upper boards. The ever reliable Derek Rothwell will once again be called upon to lead the line alongside Mark Leonard who comes fresh from a strong 2009/10 season that has raised his grade above 150.

If this year is to be a success then Trowbridge will probably be heavily reliant upon the middle boards, fortunately Tim Woodward is preparing to join Roy and Tony on the professional circuit. The mercurial talents of Dave Weston (chess maverick!) will no doubt come in useful and keep the fans entertained. With Gareth Williams providing witty banter and psychoanalysis in equal measure the spine of the team looks strong.

Whilst Tony Ransom may have only limited choice with his selection Roy Ludlow can continue to call upon an all star line up across the lower boards and minor leagues. Nigel Crucifix was solid throughout last season and Louis Burton is many pundits tip for the player to watch this year. With super-sub Adrian Davies lurking in the wings with his menagerie of animal based openings it is no surprise to find that Trowbridge are the bookies early favourites in both minor divisions. After a transitional season under the new grades Tony will surely be targeting league glory and an extended cup run to keep the fans happy.

Trowbridge’s pre-season warm up was badly affected with high profile tours to Russia and China both falling victim to the Icelandic volcano. A series of friendlies against the combined forces of Westinghouse and Swindon were scheduled instead. The first found a confident Trowbridge on inspired form sweeping all before them with a show of aggressive free flowing play. Was this the first fruit from Paul Girdlestone’s new Dutch football inspired ‘Total-Chess’ coaching system? We may never know.

One thing the fans will enjoy this year is the introduction of electronic clocks on multiple boards in Trowbridge home matches. After several contentious clock based results during the last few seasons, this technological step forward should help silence some of the critics. Reports of slo-mo video replays being made available to the match referee are as yet unconfirmed.

So once again there is plenty to look forward to as we enter the 2010/11 season. Your faithful reporter will endeavour rather more than he managed last season. Best of luck to all our competitors.
Come on the Bridge!!


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