Where to put the chess?

In which I ponder where to hide my latest, and oldest, obsessive enthusiasm…

I have another of my chess games, played last week, I thought I might post up… but as I was thinking about this, a question arose.

Or rather – two related questions:

First – how many readers of the blog are there are that actually want to see chess games?

[I know of four chess-playing scientists that read the blog, including the two Steves Caplan and Moss. But that’s …four people. I think there are at least three times that many readers in all.]

Second – WHERE should any chess games posted up go?

After all, I am pretty sure non-chess-ical readers would rather not have to wade though acres of my chess games, with only-of-interest-to-proper-obsessives chess analysis, to find the non-chess-ist thoughts in a chess-ist post.

There are a couple of obvious solutions.

[Excluding the most obvious one…]

One solution would be to keep the periodic chess posts here, but badge them with a Stern Health Warning at the top – so that anyone non-chess-fascinated would not be tempted to read them.

Another would be to have a separate page, but still as part of the blog, and post chess posts (or even just the detailed chess analysis)  to THAT page, perhaps linked from the main blog when games appeared and/or when some interesting not-simply-chess question was in play.

[Richard – can we do that? I can do it on my other WordPress blog, where I used to run a separate Diary page].

On the last question there – that is, of chess touching on issues interesting to those who AREN’T chess players – there really are some such that are worth a discussion.  Just off the top of my head, there is the correlation between chess playing and mathematical ability (there are three British chess grandmasters with PhDs in Maths that I know of, and the topic ‘chess-playing mathematicians’ even has its own Wikipedia page). There is, a bit related, the occurrence in chess (along with maths, again, and music) of true child prodigies. And there are some interesting things to say about the ways early computer scientists seized on chess as a model for trying to make a ‘machine that could think’, and how changes in computer hardware have changed the way chess computers actually do what they do – though I think I don’t know enough about computers to do that last one justice.

By the way, if you hunt around, you also find links between, not just maths and chess, but science and chess.

One example. There is a new film out about perhaps the ultimate tragically flawed chess genius, the late American player Bobby Fischer. Fischer’s mother Regina (nee Wender) was a medical student and later a doctor. His long-presumed father Hans-Gerhardt Fischer (the man listed as his father on Bobby’s birth certificate) was a biophysicist, but more recently it has become clear that Bobby Fischer’s biological father was almost certainly Hungarian physicist Paul Nemenyi, one of the many eminent Jewish scientists expelled from Germany in the 1930s by the Nazis. [More on this here, and even more here.]

Another example – probably the most famous scientist who played chess for fun was Albert Einstein, who was a friend of long-time world chess champion Dr Emanuel Lasker. There is even a chess game attributed to Einstein out there on the internet. You can play through it here, though its ‘provenance’, and even the identity of Einstein’s opponent, are a subject of much chessical discussion (see the discussion thread under the game, or try here).

But anyway – none of that really bears particularly on my own chess playing… and it is where to put stuff relating to that that I haven’t decided.

So: views please – from both the chess-positive and the more, errm, ‘chess-negative‘.



Have decided to put the analysis of last Tuesday night’s league game in a solely chessical post, to spare the rest of the readers. To follow later, or perhaps tomorrow morning (PS – now up here).

I actually played a game I like better that my league game later on last Tuesday evening, whilst playing some casual rapid stuff with other people from the club. So here is that one for my chess-ist readers, to tide you over while I finish the diagrams for the league game.

White: AE Black: AN Other Czech/Pribyl Defence (10 min a side rapid game)
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d6 3. Nc3 Qc7 4. f4 Nbd7 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. Bd3 a5 7. a4 e5 8. de: de: 9. f5 Bb4 10. 0-0 Bc3: 11. bc: 0-0 12. Ba3 Re8 13. Qe2 b5 14. ab: cb: 15. Bb5: Qc3: 16. Rfd1 Ra7? 17. Ng5! h6 18. Nf7:! Nc5 (if ..Kf7: 19. Bc4+ wins) 19. Be8: Ba6?! 20. Bb5 Bb5: 21. Qb5: Qe3+ 22. Kh1 Nce5: (threat Nf2+ and mate) 23. Qb8+! Kf7: (if ..Kh7 24. Qh8 mate) 24. Qf8 mate

Quite a fun one – I was pleased with N-g5-f7, and the Qb8-f8 mate idea is also quite neat.

About Austin

Middle-aged grouchy white male. Hair greying but hasn't all fallen out yet. Spreading waistline ill-concealed by baggy jumper.Semi-extinguished physiology researcher turned teacher. Known for never shutting up. Father of two children (aged 6 and 2) who try to out-talk him. Some would call that Karmic Revenge.
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8 Responses to Where to put the chess?

  1. cromercrox says:

    Austin – you can set up seperate pages that aren’t your actual blog. I’ve set up a three; one for random book reviews, another with an extended biography, and another touting the various books wot I wrote. One might imagine you setting up a Dr Aust’s Chess Clinic page that you could update by adding new games, analyses and so on.

    On the other hand, I don’t see why you should be so shy as not to blog about chess on your main blog here. I don’t think that would run against the OT ethos. We’re all people in and around science, but we do like to blog about our hobbies, pets and so on. You might bring lots of chess addicts to OT that might not otherwise have come to the site, and, finding that they like it, will stay, having been engaged by (for example) Stephen’s fascination with space, or Jenny’s lab tales. So in my view it’s all good.

    • Austin says:

      Yes, I’d seen your book reviews page, Henry. Have now found the settings to set up new pages (I think).

      Good point about perhaps pulling in the odd passing chess enthusiast. Chess clubs and players do seem to have a strong representation from the scientific/technical. You meet a lot of IT people at the chess club, as well as a fair few academics.

      Will wait a while and see if any other views drift in.

      In the meantime, may add the chess analysis to this post tonight, if I have a spare hour.

  2. Bob O'H says:

    I’m with Henry – it’s all good. The only annoyance would be if you put all of the post above the line, so that it appears in the RSS feed. But you don’t do that anyway.

    Which reminds me, I should start putting up my annotated Mornington Crescent games.

    • cromercrox says:

      Don’t put these up, Bob, unless you’re playing the Burlington-Chudleigh Rules, inversely.

  3. Steve Caplan says:

    I’m always happy to look at games that others have played. I just realized that I won the first non-rated tournament I ever played when I started back in 2006, and then, after essentially giving up about 2 years ago, I played one last tournament (reserve section, for the no-so-active players) and won. So I can retire undefeated.

    My main problem is that while I can concentrate for hours at a time on science, in chess I can play a flawless game for 2 hours and then “hang a piece” without blinking an eyelid. So frustrating, that I would rather watch than play!

    So in answer, post-em!

  4. I am a technical dimwit and don’t understand RSS feeds at all, so the formatting here is all RPG’s default settings…!

    (that was a response to Bob O’H’s comment, BTW – comment embedding seems to have got lost).

    Re Steve’s comment on powers of concentration, I think I’m better with chess than science (!!!), though the reality is that my ability to concentrate on anything isn’t what it was when I was younger. Nowadays I have the attention span of a kind of extra-large Drosophila.

    Anyway, will add the game analysis from last week’s effort to the bottom of this post later tonight.

  5. Cath@VWXYNot? says:

    Go for it, Austin – those who aren’t interested in the chess posts can just skip them, just like many people skip my hockey pool updates or other topics that any blogger likes to write about from time to time. I admit I won’t read the posts that are just about chess in its own right, but the ideas you listed about linking chess to other topics sound really interesting!

  6. stephenemoss says:

    A belated response after a very busy few days. I think OT is an eminently suitable place to talk about chess, and have just read your recent detailed game analysis (on my phone before getting up). As Cath says, if people aren’t interested they can just move on, though I’d agree that anything linking chess to the wider world, or science, racks up the interest a notch or two.

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