Over the past two weeks I’ve considered the view that the whole structure of English chess is really not suitable for the 21st century.

Over the past decade or so various groups of modernisers have attempted to get their candidates elected to positions on the English Chess Federation board, but, while some of them have been successful it has always ended in tears.

It’s been clear for a couple of years now that another group, based loosely around the organisers of the highly success London Chess Classic and Chess in Schools and Communities, has been trying to get its nominees into positions of influence on the board. Their representatives are opposing the current holders of the positions of Directors of Home and International Chess in the forthcoming elections next month.

In principle I’m in favour of much of their agenda (and should add that some of them have been good friends of mine for many years), but the way they have gone about things has made them a lot of enemies, and it seems to me extremely unlikely that their candidates will be elected. Two of their number, already on the board, are standing unopposed, although I understand that unsuccessful attempts have been made to find candidates to oppose them. They may possibly be in danger of defeat, though, from None of the Above, such is their unpopularity in some quarters.

Take, for example, the English Chess Federation forum. The English Chess Forum has existed for some time now. Like all forums it attracts a number of eccentrics, illiterates, obsessives and single issue fanatics, but it also hosts a lively debate about many aspects of English chess. Of course, sometimes posters (and whole threads) are critical of the English Chess Federation, and so some of those on the ECF board, seeing this criticism as something that might deter, or might in the past have deterred, potential sponsors, advised their board members not to post there and instead set up their own lookalike English Chess Federation Forum. On one recent occasion it was alleged that the English Chess Forum was described as ‘toxic’.

But their own forum has not proved very popular with posters, most of whom have preferred to continue using the original. Moderators have sometimes been slow to remove pseudonymous posters (both forums understandably operate a ‘real names only’ policy). And recent discussions concerning disputes among members of the ECF board have been potentially more damaging and ‘toxic’ than anything on the English Chess Forum. The whole episode has made the ECF, in the eyes of many, look rather foolish. In my opinion it would have been much better to set up a blog to enable board members to communicate with the chess playing public while working closely with the original forum to encourage positive debate on a wider range of issues.

It also appears that those who are seen to stand in the way of ‘progress’ are destabilised. The excellent Lawrence Cooper left the post of International Director a couple of years ago, having, as far as I understand it, had enough of the constant arguments. Alex Holowczak, the young, energetic and hard working Director of Home Chess, has recently been targeted. Lawrence and Alex are two of the most popular people in English chess and, I would have thought, people you really want to keep on your side.

I guess it’s, in some ways, the same problem as we have with FIDE, and perhaps a similar problem to the one that would face Jeremy Corbyn in the unlikely event that he should become Prime Minister. If you don’t like the system do you try to tweak it from within or overthrow it? In attempting to overthrow the system they’ve alienated the very people whose support they need, and who would, in many cases, be generally in favour of modernisation.

There are two fundamental problems, it seems to me, with regard to modernising the ECF. Chess players in this country tend to be very conservative (with a small c), very resistant to change and reluctant to provide financial support for their national federation, whether through Game Fee or through membership, which might, for example, go towards supporting our national teams at all levels (open, women, seniors, juniors etc). They’re not going to vote for modernisation any more than turkeys are going to vote for Christmas.

The ECF is essentially an amateur organisation, and, as in any amateur organisation, you’ll have a mixture of excellent people who work hard for the love of the game and those who like attending boring meetings, hearing the sound of their own voice and generally feeling important. Most of the current ECF people come in the former category, but this hasn’t always been the case in the past. What you can’t do without upsetting a lot of people is impose professional standards on an amateur organisation.

Although I have a lot of sympathy with their agenda, the modernisers have succeeded in alienating many of the most popular and influential people in English chess over the past couple of years. But without a radical overhaul I fear for the future of chess in this country. A recent poster on my Facebook wall suggested that chess has no future either as a professional game or as a recreational hobby, but only as a learning tool for young children. I hope he’s wrong but this is the way things seem to be going. I guess, though, that the current set-up will last another 15-20 years and see me out.

Richard James


Another Chess Boom?

With the release of Pawn Sacrifice, the movie about Bobby Fischer and his journey to the 1972 World Championship match against Boris Spassky, people have asked me if the film will reignite the general public’s interest in chess. It’s the same question many people asked when Searching for Bobby Fischer was released decades ago. While Searching for Bobby Fischer, the story of Josh Waitzkin, did do some good sparking a general interest in chess, we’ll never capture the interest in chess that Fischer brought about in 1972. At the time, I was living in New York and as a twelve year old, saw the impact he had on the United States.

At that time, Americans had an unhealthy interest in the cold war. I say unhealthy because it was a war fought using print and television as its primary weapons and most people became obsessed with those “Communist Russians.” Obsession can be very unhealthy, especially when it’s driven by fear and fear was the watch word of the day. It was us against the Russians and the idea that a single man would go up against the Soviet chess machine proved irresistible to Americans. Who doesn’t like a fight in which the underdog wins?

As the match between Fischer and Spassky drew near, the nightly news reported on Fischer’s demands and speculated as to whether he’d even show up to play Spassky. Chess equipment sales went up overnight. Everyone, especially in New York, seemed to be discovering chess. When Fischer touched down in Iceland and the match began, bars who normally had sports showing on their television sets instead had the match on. Fischermania was sweeping the country. A chess boom was born. Chess clubs sprung up around the country and the future of chess burned like a bright star. However, with boom comes bust and the brightest stars burn out quickly. After Fischer won the championship in 1972, the boom started to fade away. Fischer disappeared into the realm of madness and chess paid the price.

Searching for Bobby Fischer, the story of a young chess prodigy, brought chess back into the limelight and got people interested in the game again. Parents, saw chess as a good thing for their children. However, it didn’t have anywhere near the impact Fischer’s 1972 battle with Spassky had. Rather than a boom there was a quiet pop! Which brings me to the potential impact of Pawn Sacrifice on chess.

The movie doesn’t paint a rosy picture of Bobby Fischer and nor should it. Sadly, he had serious mental health problems that people either didn’t recognize or swept under the rug because, after all, he was a ”chess genius.” When one is titled a genius they’re allowed to be eccentric because, after all, they’re genius! Fischer was an extremely complex individual, one who the mental health community could have a field day with. Back then, mental health was still in the dark ages from a clinical viewpoint. Case in point, Fischer complained during the early stages of the 1972 match that he could hear the motion picture cameras used to cover the event and this was disturbing him. Another outlandish demand by the boy genius? No, actually it’s a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia. Imagine playing for the world championship and have your mind start to fall apart?

Pawn Sacrifice will garner some interest in chess but with script lines comparing chess to falling down a rabbit hole (“this game, it’s a rabbit hole”), we may find a few people fleeing from the game. Let me be clear, chess does not cause mental illness but obsession can and it’s easy for an obsessive personality to fall victim to the obsessiveness that chess can sometimes demand. If you want to truly master something you have to put an abnormal amount of time into your studies.

So what would it take to create another chess boom like we saw in 1972? A set of circumstances whose odds wouldn’t be worth the bet! Now, I’ve gotten more emails than usual about chess lessons over the last week but that still doesn’t amount to a chess boom or even a chess bang. The tragic thing about the Fischer boom and its impact on chess is that those great gains in interest have been lost simply by the passing of time. There was no great follow up moment to sustain the momentum. Yet the idea of another chess boom looms in the minds of many players.

As a chess instructor, I spend time on forums chatting with other instructors in search of effective teaching ideas. I often see postings regarding the lack of or waning interest in chess. These posters will talk about an upcoming championship match and whether or not it will help spread the game. A percentage of those posing comments about increasing the interest in chess are involved in the game professionally, be they players who live off of tournament winnings, tournament organizers, chess clubs/federations and instructors. I understand their thinking. I earn my living teaching chess. While I earn a semi-comfortable living, I worry about the future of chess because if chess was suddenly taken out of the schools here I’d have to find another career (playing guitar in a punk rock band doesn’t pay the bills).

Since the idea of another major chess boom seems highly unlikely, chess professionals should try to raise interest in the game by literally taking it to the people rather than waiting for the people to discover it on their own. The world of chess could take a few lessons from the world of music.

Let’s say you start a really great band. No one is going to appreciate how good you are unless you get out in the world and play. So, you get your band booked at a club for your first show. You use social media to advertise that show. Your band plays the show to one hundred people. They love you and tell their friends. You book another show, advertise on social media sites and three hundred people show up to your next gig. This happens because the original one hundred people that saw your first show tell their friends, spreading the word. You keep doing it and hopefully get more and more people with each show. You sell your band to one person at a time!

When I say we need to bring chess to the people, I mean exactly that. I now do chess clinics and demonstrations at non chess events that range from punk rock clubs to library events. While the majority of the people I engage don’t go on to play chess regularly, a small percentage do and small percentages, when added together, create bigger numbers (of people interested in chess). I do many of these events free of charge, investing my time in hopes of helping the game’s future. The only thing I ask of the people I encounter is that they pass what they learn along to their friends. It’s the system bands use for building a fan base.

It’s slow and steady but it’s progress in the right direction, forward. It’s not sitting around waiting for a miracle. I could concentrate on garnering more paying students but I’d rather help build a future for the game that has given me so much. What’s the point in having a career in chess if its days are numbered? Like a garden, you first have to plant seeds if you eventually wish to smell the flowers!

Chess can be a tough way to make a living. It’s just like music and being in a band, you have to take the slow and steady course, nurturing your future . If you want to see a bright future for the game you love, plant the seeds, tend to them and you’ll have something to harvest later on. Bring the game to the people rather than waiting for a set of circumstances that probably won’t happen. I sometimes take my guitar and go busking, not for money but for my love of playing. Go take a chess set to a coffee place, set it up and ask if anyone wants to learn the game. You might make a few new friends and keep our beloved game going well into the future. Get out there and do something. Here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson


A Half-Warmed Fish

I have a half-warmed fish in my breast …
– Dean William Archibald Spooner

A concept half-formed, perhaps now fully formed, emerges in my Chess:

The 20th century view of White initiative turns out to be a subtle form of lunging.

Last night in the fifth round of a tournament which saw me gain 82 rating points, I lost the White side of a Leningrad Dutch, putting me out of equal first to fourth place. I won’t trouble you with the game score, in which unlovable position I managed brilliantly to maintain drawing chances until very late in the time scramble, leaving many moves unrecorded.

The game arose from 1. g3 f5 2. d4.

In the midgame, I reached a mainline position where the only way forward was to push on the Black queen knight with d4-d5. I looked “down the well” and realized with a certain clarity that this led to a position where Black got his anticipated counterplay. I rebelled at the concept, and achieved an utterly passive position by playing instead b2-b3.

Of course, ’twere better to bite bullet and go into the prescribed complications. Having faced this conundrum before, I was aware of the alternative handling from which I had veered on my second move.  feeling compelled one last time to follow down the classical d4 path.

I was wrong to do so.

The elegant and 21st-century way to handle such positions is not attempting to block the center with 2. d4 and give meaning to Black’s thrusts, but to pursue the middle way with 2. Bg2 anticipating Black e7-e5 and planning d3 with a likely formation of c4/Nc3/e3/Nge2, among other possible okay-Black-you-commit-first formations.

The pursuit of 20th-century-style White initiative in the opening and early midgame assures that with proper play, Black emerges from the midgame with a slight initiative.

It is said that Spooner not only mixed up words but entire concepts on occasion … According to sources, Spooner once remarked of a widow that “her husband was eaten by missionaries”. – Wikipedia

Jacques Delaguerre


Recognising the Patterns : Challenge # 8

Today’s Challenge: Find the typical pattern and react accordingly. It’s White to move

Joel Benjamin against H. Carter 1982

Q: Can you see a win for White based on one of the classical method of checkmating?

Hint: You need to open up the h-file and a2-g8 diagonal in order to finish.


In the game White played as follows:

11. Nxd5

Opening up the a2-g8 diagonal.


11…Bb4+ can be met by 12. Nxb4+ or 12. Kf1, but not c3 (work out on your own why c3 is not possible).
11…Qa5+ can be met by 12. Nc3+ followed by a sac on g6 and mate in a few moves.

12. Bxd5+ Kh8

12…Rf7 can be met by 13.Bxf7+ Kf8 14. Qxh7, which is just winning. Now comes another sac to open up h file.

13. Ng6+ hxg6
14. h5

This opens the h-file by force.

15. c3 Qxd5
16. hxg6+ Kg8

Here comes the typical manoeuvre which leads to Damiano’s Mate.

17. Rh8+ Kxh8
18. Qh3+ Kg8
19. Qh7#

This method of checkmating is called Damiano’s mate.

Abram Y Model against Grigory Abramovich Goldberg in 1932

Q: Is it wise to capture on g4?
A: It is better to play 19. Rfe1 though black is still having initiative but far from winning. But in the game white took on g4 and game ended quickly.

19. hxg4 Qe3+!
20. Rf2

This seems to be the only move.


Not only opening up the h-file but also threatening g4-g3, which can’t be met.

21. Qa5 Rc8

22. Bxb7 g3

Threatening mate on the next move. If 22. g3 then 22…Qxe4 is winning.

23. Raf1

Now we see the typical manoeuvre in order to access h file with Queen.

24. Kxh1 Qh6+
25. Kg1 Qh2#

Ashvin Chauhan


Does Red Bull Help Your Chess?

The news that Red Bull is sponsoring Hikaru Nakamura might get people wondering if this drink might be good for your chess. Here he is with a can of the stuff by his side:

So is it true, can Red Bull help? Well be warned first of all, caffeine can get you banned by FIDE if there’s 12 micrograms per millilitre in your bloodstream. Plus the fact that it might not help, personally I’ve found beverages with caffeine in just make me nervous during games.

Of course it’s as well to test this for yourself, plus other approaches like staying well hydrated. But stay within the legal limit if you’re likely to be dope tested.

Nigel Davies


Queening A Pawn

The solution to last Monday’s problem is that White wins easily with almost any move. 1. Kc5 wins easily, for example.

But White played the tempting 1. Ka5 Kxh5 2. Kxa6 Kg4 3. b4 h5 and the win is now not clear.

In chess, you must concentrate to the end.

In this week’s problem, White is faced with the task of trying to queen a pawn.

How does White to play win?

Steven Carr


A 21st Century Chess Club

Last week I considered the development of chess clubs and chess administration here in England since the 19th century and explained how little has changed over the best part of 200 years.

Chess became very popular among children of secondary school age (11 to 18) after the Second World War, and, for 35 years or so, the average age of entry into competitive chess gradually declined. For the past 35 years the main focus of junior chess has been in primary schools, with the game gradually becoming less popular among secondary school children. This is one reason why, as Garry Kasparov recently pointed out, we currently have no IMs under the age of 18.

The typical chess club outside Central London meets once a week from about 7:30 to 11:00, usually in a church hall or the function room of a pub. A larger club such as Richmond will have about 40 members. Many clubs are much smaller and have perhaps 10 or 20 members. The times and, sometimes, the venues make them unsuitable for younger children. They’re also difficult for older children, who are under a lot of academic pressure with homework in the evenings. Half a century ago, when I was a teenager, you’d give up chess for a week or two while you were doing your last minute revision, but for most of the year you’d have time to play chess in the evenings. These days, with children having several hours homework a night, this is no longer possible for most of them. Those few teenagers who are still playing in evening leagues will tell you in the September before their public examinations that they won’t be able to play all year.

So chess is now played in ghettos. Young children play at school. Older children tend not to play at all. And adults, mostly middle aged or above, play in the evenings at times not suited to children. If you want to get children and adults playing together you need chess at weekends. As it happens, there’s quite a lot of chess played at weekends, but not all of it is suitable.

One of the good things about chess in this country is that there’s a thriving weekend tournament circuit including both slowplay tournaments over two days, perhaps with a Friday evening round, and rapidplay tournaments over one day.

There are also regular county matches, ranging from open events down to events for players graded under 100, whose teams tend to be selected from players in local leagues so don’t attract many children. County chess is still successful in the South East of England where there are several counties who can field teams of similar strength, but is struggling in less heavily populated parts of the country.

Finally, there’s the 4NCL (and also the Junior 4NCL) which takes place at hotels on the outskirts of nondescript Midlands towns. This season the lower southern divisions of the 4NCL take place in Telford, in the West Midlands, about 150 miles from London. If you enjoy the social side of things it’s fine, and the league seems (I’ve never played in it) to be very well organised, but it’s a very long way to travel for a couple of games of chess. Even county matches often involve time-consuming journeys across London.

So let’s invent a different sort of chess club, which will be attractive to adults, to children and to families. Let’s also invent a totally different chess structure for this country.

Our new ideal chess club will meet at weekends Saturday or Sunday afternoons, as well as in the evenings. It will run structured chess courses for children (which may also take place in early evening slots) using a proper chess course such as the Steps Method. The lower levels would not require professional teachers but might be run by parents or adult members of the chess club. The club may also run tuition for adults. Just as in, for example, cricket clubs, there will be a 1st team, a 2nd team, perhaps a 3rd team, as well as junior teams at various age groups. Stronger juniors would, of course, be able to play for the senior teams if they were good enough. There would be inter-club matches in local leagues on weekend afternoons with 4 hour sessions. Evening leagues currently only have time for a 3 hour, or sometimes even a 2½ hour session. If you play to a finish in one session the games will often degenerate into a time scramble (or two time scrambles if you’re playing n moves in n minutes followed by a quickplay finish) with a random result. In my local league slowplay, with a choice of adjournment or adjudication for unfinished games is still the default option. There are many who believe that adjournments and adjudications have no place in 21st century chess, but those who make the decisions in the Thames Valley League don’t agree with this. The games might run from 2:00 to 6:00 or from 3:00 to 7:00, giving children plenty of time to get home to bed while adults will, if they choose, be able to spend the rest of the evening with their friends in their favourite hostelry or curry house. Local leagues of this nature could be used as feeders to the 4NCL, using a pyramid structure like that used in, for example, football in this country.

Evenings could be used for rapidplay leagues, with double round matches. The time limit would be 30 minutes per player per game, or an equivalent time control using increments. Children playing in these matches would get home earlier than they would from a 3 hour session, while adults will have more time to enjoy a few pints in the pub afterwards. It would also be possible, for example, for a junior to play in the first match, to be replaced by an adult arriving late from work for the second match.

To implement this you’d need major changes to the whole structure of chess. You’d need to phase out evening chess leagues and county matches, and, while you’re at it, abolish the National Club Championship, which should have been put out of its misery years ago. You’ll also need to persuade chess players that they’ll need to pay a lot more if they want a club that’s open longer hours. Parents, at least in more affluent areas, will be very willing to pay membership fees if they think their children will benefit.

Sadly, I really don’t see anything like this happening in my lifetime, though. It reminds me of the tourist who was lost in Ireland. He asked a local in the nearest pub how to get to Dublin. “If I were you, sir”, came the reply, “I wouldn’t start from here”.

Richard James


Some Words of Advice

When you teach and coach chess long enough, you’ll know what works and what doesn’t. I keep a journal regarding teaching methods that work and those that don’t. I recently had the opportunity to start teaching chess to a group of older students who are all intellectually gifted but had played little if any chess. I decided that our first class would start with some words of advice regarding their study of the game, based on what I’ve learned as a teacher. I gave my pep talk to this group of students because they’re used to learning things quickly and easily. Learning to play good chess is a slow process that can be difficult at times no matter how smart you are. Here’s what I said:

I wish you all slow and steady progress. While we live in a world that measures success in terms of how quickly you achieve your goals, success in chess requires a commitment of time and patience. Chess is a game that rewards those who exercise patience and punishes those who don’t. Chess is a game built upon a foundation and how solid that foundation is depends solely on you, the builder of that foundation. If you build your foundation poorly, your game will collapse like a house of cards. Build it on the bedrock of hard work and careful study and it will weather the worst of positional storms. In short, you have to carefully grasp each game principle completely. This is the slow and steady process, taking one principle, dissecting it until you know it’s true meaning and only then moving on to the next principle. Mastering any skill takes a huge commitment of time. Those of you who play a musical instrument know that you don’t simply pick it up and suddenly create beautiful music. You have to practice.

Some people learn faster than others. However, this doesn’t mean that those who learn faster are necessarily better or smarter. We all learn at different speeds and frankly, those who have to work a little harder than others to learn something have a better grasp of the subject matter when all is said and done. Slow and steady wins the race! Don’t worry if everyone else seems to understand a game principle and you still feel a bit lost. At least eighty percent of those people claiming to “completely understand” that elusive game principle probably don’t understand it as much as they think they do. Embrace struggling with learning because you have to put in more effort which will help solidify your grasp on the subject matter. From today on, you’re going to stop worrying about how quickly your classmates are learning and put that energy into your own efforts on the chessboard. Use your intellectual energy wisely!

Ask questions. I am suspect of any student that sits in my class and doesn’t ask a question. Either they’re secretly a Grandmaster or they’re not paying attention. People who don’t ask questions in life suffer the fate of fools. I implore you to question everything! If I present a concept and my explanation doesn’t make sense to you, ask me to explain it again. The only stupid question is the one not asked. Otherwise, all questions are good. If you don’t ask questions in my class, I’ll question you about your grasp of the concepts I present. If everyone else seems to understand a concept and you don’t, ask for another explanation. Trust me, I’m going to be more impressed with you, the person asking for a different explanation, than I am with everyone else nodding their heads as if they know the idea presented inside and out. Heading nodding will get you nowhere. Actually, it will probably inspire me to ask you to explain to the class, the idea you’re nodding your head about.

Don’t short cut your studies. I will ask you to play through an opening and a number of its variations as homework. Some of you will play through every single move three times while others will speed through the assignment. Again, slow and steady wins the race. If you’re the person slowly playing through the opening and its variations three time and you face off against one of those speedy learners, my money’s on you to win the game. Like music and martial arts, two things I’m very much into, chess requires study and practice. Some of you know I’m a musician. Some of you have seen me play and at least one of you said “you make it look easy.” When you see me play guitar, you’re seeing the end result, the result of decades of work. By playing for so long, my fingers have been trained to know where to go when I play (most of the time). Just because something looks easy doesn’t mean it is. It only looks easy because the person doing whatever it is has spent a good part of their lifetime studying and practicing. Chess is the same way. When you play an opponent who seems to do amazing things on the board, they didn’t wake up one morning being able to play great chess. They put a lot of time into developing their chess skills.

You can think of learning chess as starting a garden. You start with a patch of bare earth. You work the soil, plant the seeds, water the seedlings and eventually you have wonderful flowers, etc growing. When planting a garden, the end result takes time. You can plant seeds and expect them to fully mature into blooming flowers overnight. It takes time and so does learning chess. There are no short cuts. If you see an advertisement for a book that guarantees instant results, run in the opposite direction.

If you tend to be impatient, let learning chess be a way to nurture and improve your patience. Embrace the idea of learning something slowly. Rather than becoming impatient because your not playing like Magnus Carlsen after two weeks, treat each principle you learn as an achievement in itself. Set your immediate goal as mastering one principle at a time rather than the entire game. Did you know that having patience will add years to your life. When your impatient, you become upset or stressed. Stress is a killer. Be smart and live to one hundred by developing patience through chess.

Learn to love losing! I know society places little stock in losses but you’ll learn more from losing a game of chess than winning a game. This is the only class you’ll take that makes losing a cause for celebration. I wish you many losses because from those losses you’ll learn to be a better chess player. Loose a soccer game and you might get booted from the team. Loose a chess game and you’ll improve. How, you ask? A good chess player will play through that lost game, figure out where they went wrong, correct the problem and learn something in the process. You learn from your losses!

So throw out your brainy notions of rapid learning and instant success. Slow down and embrace the idea of taking on one concept or principle at a time. Take the Zen approach not the winner gets all Western approach to life. Feel free to make mistakes, to stumble and fall. It’s all alright because we’re going to take a different road on the journey of life. We’re going to take the slow road to chess enlightenment! With that said, here’s a game to enjoy until next week!

Hugh Patterson


Chess Set Designs

People sometimes wonder what sort of chess set they should get. My take is that nothing beats a wooden Staunton set for clarity, elegance and feel. And using one of them gets you used to the sets used in tournaments.

Of course not everyone agrees and there have been some ‘different’ designs over the years. Like this horrible thing:

Nigel Davies


Look b4 You Leap

As I have pointed out before, the manner in which most opening study takes place is bizarre. The focus on move order helps teach the beginner to avoid known traps, but keeps the student focused on the map rather than the terrain, on rote memorization rather than on cognitive development. Move-orderism waves aside the existential truth that the combinatorial complexity of Chess renders memorization a hopeless chore and sets the student the task of enumerating the nine billion names of the Almighty, as it were.

There are players, both now and in the past (Weaver W. Adams comes to mind) who achieve some success in Chess without ever growing beyond the front-to-back move-order mindset. They are not great artists, but they are often competent technicians and produce interesting games, especially in correspondence where they can consult the libraries the maintenance of which is their primary contribution to our game.

In the category of library maintenance, a supremely entertaining website is Marek’s 1.b4 Encyclopedia. Marek Trokenheim offers those who contribute funds to his labor of love a collection of over 200,000 annotated (apparently leaning heavily upon the silicon deity) games in 1. b4, the Orangutan Opening which Savielly Tartakower claimed to have been advised to play by an orangutan named Suzie at the Bronx Zoo. The opening sometimes bears the humorless-but-no-more-edifying Soviet name the Sokolsky Opening, or colloquially the Polish Opening.

Marek is troubled by his recent discovery that 2409 games of the collection are altered or composed games that never took place as described.  But more games are on the way: he also organizes ongoing theme tournaments in the various lines of the Orangutan, which he has heavily indexed and categorized, a monumental and inspiring edifice of move-orderism.

The most famous early game in 1. b4 was Tartakower – Maroczy, New York 1924 which Tartakower missed winning by an endgame slip on move 47.

Jacques Delaguerre