Although published ten years ago and is actually about squash, this article reveals many of the qualities required to succeed in any field.
In the mid-Sixties, in a sport where his peers could be both cavalier and rotund yet still successful, his attitude caused its own revolution. ‘I won through fitness rather than through talent,’ he says, and this stemmed from an unprecedented training schedule and his infallible application to the cause. In 1966, after winning his first British Open championship, he did some press- ups and then, as the champagne was passed round, discussed his plans for Christmas training runs along his home cliffs of Morwenstow in Cornwall.
Such dedication fired an unquenchable desire to win. Michael Corby, for many years No 2 to him in Britain, remembers how Barrington cried after defeat in the quarter-finals of the world championship in Australia in 1967. ‘He cried because he cared so much,’ Corby said. ‘I used to say to him that of life’s many facets, he only had one and he should lighten up. But who is to say that I was right?’
Squash players seem to be exceptional role models in this regard, getting to know Victor Niederhoffer was helpful in learning that my own single mindedness and determination could actually be perceived as qualities. All too often you meet the attitude that it’s better to ‘have fun’ with an activity or be ‘well balanced’, which subtly implies that the pursuit of mastery of a field shows you are in some way defective!
My take on this is that normally people lack the motivation to do what it takes to succeed whilst at the same time wanting to be really good at something. Unfortunately the two don’t go together.
My twelve year old son, who knows this endgame, found this video on Youtube. I have to admit that I might also have had trouble before practising this endgame with him and the excellent book, Pandolfini’s Endgame Course, as a reference.
Of course knowing such things is just a small part of being a good player. But it can be very embarrassing when you fail to win this endgame.
Until recently the idea of having people prepare for their openings was alien to amateurs. But this is about to change.
The web site Chess DB has games by players right down to the lowest levels of competitive chess, and with the site accessible on a mobile phone everyone can now worry about having their opponents prepare for them.
Picking out a player at random I found that an 8 year old Austrian kid called Manuel Rigler, with a provisional Elo of 800, had seven games in the database. With White in one game he played for scholar’s mate (at least he did so in 2013) but great disappointment followed his opponent spotting it with 3…Nf6. He ended up retreating his queen with 4.Qd1, which might have been because of now remembering his coach’s advice not to bring the queen out too early. The later implosion with 27.b5 and 28.c4 was unfortunate, I guess he panicked a bit when he saw those rooks staring at him. Instead he had a strong move with 27.f4.
Manuel of course will likely be in shock to discover that his games are now public knowledge, not least because opponents can be primed for his scholar’s mate in advance. So aren’t databases going a little bit too far?
Of course here at the Davies household we’re celebrating the discovery of this site as my son Sam can now make more use of his personal GM father before a game. His opponents, of course, may find this more than a little disconcerting…
Here’s another entertaining Bobby Fischer documentary interspersed with annoying adverts:
An often overlooked aspect of getting better chess results is to have a thorough understanding of how the clock operates and time limit, not to mention keeping your score sheet up to date. I’ve lost a game because I thought the clock was about to add me some time on when it didn’t! And I lost another one when I accidentally missed out a line on my score sheet at the bottom of the first column.
In the following encounter the clock goes wrong, but the players show their class in quickly noticing it!
Here’s an interesting interview with Magnus Carlsen which offers many interesting insights into computers and Carlsen’s rivalry with Vishwanathan Anand. I think their coming match will be much closer than the last one, not least because Anand has been freed of the shackles of being the Champion:
Last Saturday I played a couple of blindfold games at the Bradford Chess Festival. This isn’t as hard as it sounds for experienced and strong players, most players over 2200 should manage at least one. But is it good or bad for your chess?
Opinion is divided. In the former Soviet Union blindfold exhibitions were banned due to health concerns, other players swear by it as an improvement method. Those who have watched Knights of the South Bronx may recall that Mr. Mason insisted that all training was done blindfold when his team qualified for the nationals.
I tend to side with Mr. Mason’s view and used to use blindfold training exercises extensively as a teenager. But I’m not sure that it’s such a great idea to play lots of boards at the same time, this seems like showing off more than anything. So for this reason the Bradford organisers kindly let me off with just one game at a time, and it didn’t go too badly.
Here’s the second game in which I played an ‘Allies’ team of a couple of local players:
My thanks to Michel Miro for sending me links to his Youtube chess videos. Nice work:
Tribute to chess through painting
Male and female World Champions (Rocky)
Alexandra Kosteniuk (Pretty Woman)
Here’s an unmissable documentary from 1986 that I found on Youtube:
Following up my post last Tuesday I thought I’d investigate whether the growing craze of chessboxing is healthy. Well probably it’s OK to look at but I wouldn’t recommend participating. Here’s a match as an example:
There’s clearly some good cardiovascular exercise involved but hitting each other in the head lots of times seems like a clear downside from a health perspective. Now I know they were using head guards but research has shown that this actually INCREASES the likelihood of concussion. There’s an article about this here.
Overall I’m astonished that chessboxing has been greeted with such enthusiasm whilst chess itself has question marks over its health aspects. Yet as boxing has been shown to cause brain damage (especially with head guards) shouldn’t chess plus a good brisk walk a day be rather better?
The answer seems clear, at least to me.