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My life in chess: talk at Ladybarn Primary School

November 8, 2013

I never work on the 8th November. No tax, no clients, no Deloitte. Of course, that is not entirely true- I act for two national retailers whose shops are on every high street; and I listen to the business news, so can’t help think of tax…but 8th November was the day my mother died, now eleven years ago, and I swore to myself I would never work on that day, day, and just do nice things. There are 364 other days in the year.

Today has started really well. Some weeks ago I was asked by one of the teachers at my children’s former primary schools if I would come to speak to their assembly, as one of their series of outside ‘inspirational’ speakers, and I was glad to accept: if a bit frightened of speaking in front of c 300 children, never having done so before. But it went really well, and I feel exhilarated having done it.

At the end, there were plenty of questions, all very good, all from different angles. One question threw me: what was your shortest game of chess? I answered it in a different way, telling them what my longest game was (my victory on 9th December 2010 against Viktor Korchnoi, three years ago, which lasted seven hours). So, when I got home, I fired up Chessbase, and found my shortest victories.

My shortest victory



I don’t remember this game, which was played just after I graduated from university. Oddly, why did white resign? I was unsure of the accuracy of my Chessbase file, so checked my original scoresheet book, and it does appear white resigned here. Most odd, because in fact white is better in the final position.

Another short game

A far ‘better’ game. I recall I played 1…a6 on occasion, inspired of course by Tony Miles’ victory over Anatoly Karpov with it in 1980 [one of Tony’s only two victories, both as black, vs Anatoly: Anatoly beat Tony thirteen times, all as white].

This game was played in my third (and therefore final) Cambridge University championship…the one I failed to win, having won the title in my first two years.


Most memorable short game


I clearly remember this game; I played Nigel on other occasions, and we had proper length fights. Here, Houdini tells me I played two only moves in Bf5! and Bc2!: but both are quite natural moves. For a whole, I liked the opening I played in this game, the Von Hening-Schara variation of the Tarrasch defence: partly inspired because one of my fellow Bolton School players liked it: I had studied the main lines of this variation quite thoroughly, but never got the chance to play them: and here, white played weakly.





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