Category Archives: News

Kids and Chess, Part One

A few years ago one of the chess coaches in the Tampa area had an annoying habit of telling his students that I hated little kids. Because I got tired of that, I decided to make a sarcastic reply if I heard him say that again. He did during one of his group lessons, so I replied with, “Actually, they taste quite good with a little peanut oil and basil”! I got a laugh from that. So, now I am including a few quotes by W. C. Fields about kids.

W. C. Fields quotes about kids

I do not actually hate or eat kids, but I may want them to think that I do! Considering that I have been playing rated chess off and on for 41 years, I really do dislike losing to someone who has been alive less than 20 years! In this case, I lost to someone who has been alive about one third as long as I have been playing chess!

My opponent is this Wednesday night tournament round is a thirteen-year-old girl. Her mother was the TD for this event. I lost the previous round to a gentleman that is older than I am. I told both Sara and her mother, Shirley, that I had a lousy tack record in OTB chess against human females regardless of age or rating. That is true, but I need to correct a few things. Prior to this loss, my last loss in an OTB chess game to a human female was to a 17-year-old Dutch girl who later became the under 21 female champion of the Netherlands. She was not exactly a patzer! Sara, my opponent is this loss, is the number five ranked female of any age in the state of Colorado. Again, not exactly a patzer!

The correction is that I beat and drew Sara’s sister, Rebecca, and I beat some female beginners in Tampa prior to moving to Colorado. However, Sara is one of three teenage girls that I have lost to in OTB chess in the past 20 years or so. Prior to getting out of the US Army in 1986, I never lost an OTB chess game to a human female! Now, that record is shattered.

Also, prior to my discharge from the Army, I rarely lost to a kid that was lower rated than I was. Since then, I have had only one loss to a lower rated kid that I can remember. However, that rating difference was over 800 points! I have also barely escaped losses to lower rated kids on at least two occasions in the past five years.

Across the range of ratings that my opponents have had and the time that I have been playing chess, my losses to kids after I graduated from high school have numbered less than the number of wins against them. However, I do not know the exact numbers.

Mike Serovey

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One Good Blunder Deservers Another One

This chess game is from the first round of a chess tournament that is being played on Wednesday nights in Colorado Springs, Colorado. There is one round each Wednesday night and I have completed two rounds so far. I have lost both rounds, and there are only eight players in this section! I should have an easy time with Black in the third round.

This event is being played in a restaurant that is called Smashburger. The food is OK, but the playing conditions are poor. The lighting there is not good and I have to wear a hat to keep the overhead lights out of my eyes. The noise level is too high for me to play good chess. Some of the players are wearing headphones and drowning out the noise with music. However, I have yet to try that. With my hearing problems the music may become just as distracting as the ambient noise there. I doubt that I will play there again after I complete this event.

My opponent in this chess game is older than I am and owns his own computer business that he works with his son. Paul misplayed the opening and I ended up two passed pawns on the queenside. However, I blundered on move number 51 and the game was lost for me after that.

Mike Serovey

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New Correspondence Chess World Champion!

With just five results to come there is a new correspondence chess world champion from the 17 player World Championship 28 Final.  GM Ing. Leonardo Ljubicic (ICCF 2604) from Croatia leads with an unassailable 10 / 17 (4 wins, 12 draws and 0 losses).

The average ICCF rating of the 17 players was 2582. Second and third places are likely to be between GM Horácio Neto (2617) of Portugal, SIM Petr Boukal (2473) of the Czech Republic and Dr Hans-Dieter Wunderlich (2629) of Germany depending on final results.

You can view the finished games at www.iccf.com/event?id=37632 .  He is one of his shorter wins with attacks on opposite wings: –

John Rhodes

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London Chess Classic

I arrived in London yesterday to do some commentary at the London Chess Classic. I don’t usually make predictions but I’m going to stick my neck out for this one. Although Magnus Carlsen hasn’t played well this year I feel sure that he will have noticed and figured out how to do something about it.

Watching top class tournaments is a good way to improve, especially if you try to guess the moves without any technological assistance!

Nigel Davies

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Update on 3rd British Webserver Team Tournament Division One

I was beginning to think that every game was going to be drawn in Division 1 of the 3rd British Webserver Team Tournament. I suppose that, because there can be quite a difference in gradings between the players on each board, E.G. 200 to 300 points or more, then the stronger players play carefully and the weaker players are only too happy to draw against a higher rated player. Fortunately, someone had a win at last, which happened to be me on Board 3 for the ‘Pawn Star’ Team, who had won the 1st Tournament and came runners up in the 2nd! A few others have followed my example and have also won their games, although the percentage of draws is still about 81% as I write which includes 2 games which were lost on time. How can you lose on time in a CC game? Well it does happen.

It is difficult to see the leaders at this stage, even with 75% of the games completed, as some teams have finished more games than others. Probably the best indicator is to quote the percentage scores of each team. Last year’s winners, ‘ICCF Warriors’, have 60%, ‘Pawn Stars’ have 58% and ‘BCCA Kings’ have 53% but there is still a lot to play for. The latest news can be found here www.iccf.com/event?id=53439

Here is my first win, hopefully, not my last: –

John Rhodes

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Just To Be Clear, I Did Not Bleeping ‘Defect’!

I think I’m going to decline all future interviews with national newspapers after this latest piece by Stephen Moss. And that means for ever!

Below is my email to Mr. Moss when he first asked to interview me, mentioning that he was also interested in improving his chess. Although I was reluctant at first, given other newspaper coverage on this matter, I got talked into it thinking that this time would be different. But when the article appeared it said that his (my!) disaffection with the English Chess Federation was so great that he had switched his allegiance to Wales!

Seriously folks, I’ve really tried to separate my move to Wales with subsequent attempts at constructive criticism of English chess, but somehow the people who’ve interviewed me seem to hear something completely different to what I’ve been saying. This does of course give an indication of how little we can trust the media to report things accurately, perhaps even with matters of genuine importance. It also explains why I haven’t watched the news or read a newspaper for around a decade and feel an ease and cheer I’d never want to be without!

Here anyway is the email which shows very different motives to those ‘described’ in the article:

Dear Stephen,

I’m not sure you picked this post up about why I switched to Wales but it makes clear that the issues with English Chess are not directly linked to my switch. This wasn’t really represented well in the articles that have appeared, perhaps largely due to the fact that it wouldn’t make much of a story. BBC Wales have spoken to me more recently but with the focus being firmly on my being the principality’s first GM.

Probably I can help you more with your attempts to get better as my web site, Tiger Chess prevents a very clear methodology. You’ll need to work on it but people who do get better with me.

Best wishes, Nigel

Nigel Davies

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Drawing This Correspondence Chess Game Was No Hassell

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is from England and his last name is Hassell. As some of my readers may have noticed, I like to play with words and the names of my opponents!

Originally, I wanted to trade down into a King and pawn endgame or to use my remaining Bishop to go after my opponent’s pawns that were on dark squares. However, when he offered a draw on move number 27 I accepted the offer because I realized that there just was not enough play left in the position to justify my spending my time and energy on trying to win that rather closed endgame.

This cc game is one of three draws that I have in this section.

Mike Serovey

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An American Defeats Henry the Eighth

My opponent in this correspondence chess game is not really Henry VIII of England. However, his name is Henry and he is from Finland. Also, while playing chess with this Henry I kept thinking of an old song from 1965 by Herman’s Hermits called “I’m Henry Vlll I Am”. You can watch and listen to a YouTube video featuring this song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4OS17lqHiE.

I started this correspondence chess game with the Réti Opening and the game transposed into the English Opening, and then something that resembled the Botvinnik System. This Henry decided to play an unusual line against me. Although he was using a combination of chess engines during this chess game, he went against what the engines recommended and played an unsound sacrifice. That was the main reason that he lost this cc game.

This is my second win in this section. After one win and one draw I moved into fourth place out of thirteen in this section. With two wins, three draws and three losses I am still in fourth place at the time that I am writing this.

Mike Serovey

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New Season for the Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championship

The 2015/16 season for the Counties and District Correspondence Chess Championship (C&DCCC) here in England has recently started with the usual three divisions, namely Ward-Higgs, Sinclair and Butler-Thomas. When I was informed that the Ward-Higgs was about to start I eagerly looked down the game list to see who my opponent would be, but could not find my name! Then it dawned on me that the Hertfordshire Team that I play for had been demoted to the Sinclair the previous season, by finishing second to last. I think we were just unlucky with much tougher opponents than usual, well that is the excuse I prefer to stick with! I am sure that we will do better this season. The full crosstable and games for the new season can be found here: – www.iccf.com/event?id=55936

This year’s winners were Essex in the Ward-Higgs, Essex ‘C’ in the Sinclair and Surrey ‘B’ in the Butler-Thomas. Here is a game which helped Essex to win the Ward-Higgs: –

John Rhodes

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Why I Switched To Wales

A few months ago I changed my international representation to Wales, which you wouldn’t think is a big deal for a chess teacher who is currently on a long break from playing competitive chess. Amazingly this has now hit the media in a big way with articles in the Telegraph (with different pieces appearing online and in the print version), the Times and being on the news on Radio 4 and BBC Wales (2.48 onwards). As this story has been jazzed up quite a bit (not to mention the fact that the Times interviewed me via mobile phone whilst I was in a coffee bar with noisy Italians on the next table), I thought I should give my own version of events in my own words.

Leaving the English Chess Federation (ECF) was a largely personal decision that came from not feeling relevant despite being an International Grandmaster and well regarded coach. In fact I never heard from them except when it was time to pay my subs.

In an interview with Telegraph correspondent Leon Watson, the Publicity Manager of the ECF, Mark Jordan, confirmed this: “Nigel of course isn’t strong enough at the moment to get into the England team, unless it was a very poor England team, but he would be far and away the best Welsh player.”

However some people have pointed out that I might have been valuable in an England attempt to win Gold in the European and World Seniors Championships as for an over 50 I’m probably not too bad. Vis a vis ‘strength’ it would also be interesting to see a match between Mr. Jordan and one of the Welsh girls, for example Immogen Camp. If someone would like to sponsor this event I’d be happy to pitch in and do the commentary for free.

By changing to Wales I can still play in the European and World Individual 50+ events (albeit under the Welsh flag) and have given them their first Grandmaster. Perhaps this in turn will inspire young people to take up the game and progress. This has been confirmed by the Home Director of Welsh Chess, Kevin Staveley:

It was Nigel who approached us and said he’s got so many close ties with Wales can he play under our banner, and we were delighted. Success breeds success and we have now got someone on the top layer. Hopefully there will be others who will come along and be inspired by him. We have a crop of promising youngsters, particularly girls, coming through who we think will go a long way in chess.

A sponsor was willing to pay my transfer fee to FIDE (the International Chess Federation) but I got nothing out of this myself except the hope that it would do some good for the game. Other English GMs have also departed for what may be very similar reasons; Murray Chandler left for New Zealand, Tony Kosten left for France, David Norwood went to Andorra and Matthew Turner to Scotland.

More recently, inspired by comments by Garry Kasparov, I wrote two blog posts on The English Chess Explosion and How To Raise The Finance to offer an analysis, based on my 40+ years in the chess scene, of why England is in decline as a chess playing nation and what might be done about it. I also decided not to renew my ECF subscription, partly because I am only playing training games against my son at home and partly through disappointment at the infighting going on within the ECF. The time line is important; I didn’t storm out of the ECF and have not been involved in the recent very public and unfortunate spats and scandals.

Of course the possibility of linking these events seems to be what made the story so attractive to the media, which seems to be confirmed by the Telegraph’s print edition piece that appeared on October 25th under the heading A Bold Move:

There was a time when the buzz on the chess circuit was whether or not a Soviet player might defect to the West. Nigel Davies, however, has defected from the English Chess Federation to Wales. The veteran Grandmaster grandly announced that he was tired of what he described as a “rag bag of chess amateurs who think they should be important but lack the knowledge and skill.”

Chess has often involved bitter rows fuelled by big personalities. But even as the contestants put each other down, the spectator still wonders at the sheer brainpower on display. It takes ego to get ahead; it takes humility to regonise that some of us are better made for a game of draughts. As Woody Allen once quipped: “I failed to make the chess team because of my height.”

I read this together with my chess playing son during a day out in Liverpool and we found it hilarious, especially the Woody Allen quote! But defected? This seems rather melodramatic to say the least, but I guess they’ve got papers to sell. They also took my ‘rag bag of amateurs’ remark completely out of context, what I actually said was this:

There are other very capable people around too, such as GM David Norwood, IM Nigel Povah and IM Paul Littlewood, all of whom have had heavy involvement in the corporate and financial Worlds besides their long standing and distinguished involvement with competitive chess. It should be obvious that these are the individuals you want running things rather than a rag bag of chess amateurs who think they should be important but lack the knowledge and skill.

So basically it’s just a storm in a tea cup and nothing for anyone to get excited about. To put any further speculation to rest I have no plans to play tournaments right now as I’m too busy with other things, including running my Tiger Chess training site. In any case I’m not qualified to play for the Welsh team as I don’t currently live in Wales, but when my son Sam is a bit older we’ll probably play in tournaments together. I dare say that he’s the one to watch rather than me, at 13 he’s already giving me a hard time of it in our training games!

Nigel Davies

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