Tuesday, 2 July 2002

Archive: UNCUT! 16

The Sean Marsh Chess Column


Column 16

The World Championship

So, the world is at last trying to re-unite the various World Championships, in a series of events set to mark the tenth anniversary of the big split of 1993, when Kasparov and Short broke away from the official body for world chess, FIDE, and played their championship match under their new association, the PCA.

The curious Dortmund tournament will soon be over. This started as a two-group system, with the top two players qualifying for a mini-match in the semi-finals. Topalov and Leko are currently contesting the final; the eventual winner then plays BGN champion Kramnik.

Meanwhile, FIDE champion Ponomariov must play ex-champion Kasparov in amatch, the winner of which will then face the winner of Kramnik’s match.Finally, we will be able to call one single person the World Chess Champion,just as we could in the old days. Of course, Bobby Fischer will still claim tobe the World Champion no matter happens, but as he’s only played one matchsince 1972 his claim must be wearing a little thin by now.

The tradition of the World Championship has been badly damaged over the last decade. The ever-quickening FIDE time controls have given us year after year of superficial encounters. How many games can you remember from the FIDE K.O. World Championships? Have any of them stuck in your mind as classics? Yet when we hadthe traditional matches every two or three years, classic games were produced each time.

What are your thoughts on the World Championship? Do you welcome the return to a more traditional, full-length match or would you prefer a single, high-profile K.O. Tournament? What are the chances of this new cycle actually going ahead without one of the major players getting upset about something orother and then jeopardising the whole thing?

There’s a thread just started in the forum section of this site; why not let us know what you think?

The Curious Case of the Countless Clues

(Or...the difference bewteen vulgarity and double entendres!)

As Doctor Watson entered the rooms of 221B Baker Street, he could tell be the raging enthusiasm of his great friend that there was a case to be solved.

‘Great Scott, Holmes! What’s afoot?’

‘Twelve inches, Watson’ came the immediate reply from the world’s greatest detective.

Come now, surely you are working on case of the utmost import. I can tell from your agitated state and animated manner.’

Yes Watson, and I think I have very nearly solved it. It concerns the anonymous postings on a certain chess website. And I now know the true identities of Mr. White Knight and Mr. A.N. Onimous!’

Holmes!’ ejaculated Watson. ‘How can you possibly have solved it so quickly! You’ve deduced the names of the culprits faster than those in thecase of the yellow-door painters!’

‘Yes, but don’t forget, the latter case was lemon-entry, my dear Watson. In point of fact, the two anonymous posters both left countless clues. So many,in fact, that I thought some of them must surely be red herrings.’

Ah, you thought something was a bit fishy, right from the start! So what clues did the gentlemen in question leave, Holmes?’

Here the detective drew heavily on his pipe, but his face suddenly turned into a picture of displeasure. ‘Nearly out of tobacco again! I must go around to see that lady tobacconist and see about my shag!’ Pausing only to fill his pipe-bowl with the last few flakes of ready-rub from his Persian slipper, Holmes reclined in his favourite armchair once more and continued the narrative of his deductions.

‘In the case of A.N. Onimous, I recognised the style of the language...’


Shocking! His idea of using a blatant vulgarity instead of a subtle double entendre helped...but the clincher came when I read the post about his displeasure regarding White Knight insulting people’s intelligence. His spelling of intelligence was unfortunately incorrect. I then knew that MrOnimous was somewhat lacking in the area of diction. Then it was a simple matter of consulting my files and matching it with the right suspect.’

‘And what of White Knight? What clues did he leave?’ asked Watson, still none too bright despite being involved in scores of famous cases.

Well Watson, I knew we were up against a fellow with a strong personality,who cared deeply about chess, had been recently wronged, was local, has playedchess in this region for several decades, has a knowledge of law and has the curious habit of spelling ‘Sean’ ‘Shaun’. Inspecting these clues, evenyou, Watson, could have deduced who it was and announced ‘fair cop’!

You astound me Holmes!’ exclaimed Watson. ‘So what happened next?’

‘I have contacted the two gentlemen and they have been good enough toconfirm the correctness of my thinking. I believe the world of Cleveland chess will now be free of such anonymous postings, and everyone can now be nice to each other once more. I shall only reveal their names publicly if they are naughty boys again. I now turn my attention to the peculiar case of the smelly drains of Baker Street. But first I must replenish my supply of tobacco.’

‘Why, what’s afoot?

‘It’s that thing on the end of your leg, my dear Watson. I need tobacco because the case of the drains looks tricky, and is certain to be a two-pipe problem. Would you mind popping out and buying some, my friend? Oh, and could you collect my violin from the repair shop, too?’

So good old Doctor Watson picked up his little black bag and made to fetch Holmes’s shopping. As he got to the door, his friend called out, ‘Here,Watson, catch! You’ll need this for the shop!’

What is, old chap?’ Asked Watson, catching the object instinctively.

‘The Pound of the Baskervilles, Watson! And I expect some change!’

So Watson left his friend for a short time to visit the tobacconist and violin repair shop; yet there was still one thing he could never work out...as he left the rooms of 221B Baker Street, he could have sworn he heard the soundof his old friend fiddling away....

Coming up in the next column.....

County Champion Norman Stephenson annotates three games from his great Middlesbrough Congress success!