Saturday 30 May 2009

Chewing The Fat

It was great to catch up with Julian Allinson again. We don't meet as often as we'd like (his last blog appearance was almost a year ago: ( Indeed, we were never on the same chess team as often we'd liked to have been either but there were two very notable exceptions.

The first was in 1988. Guisborough had the chance to win the league title for the first time in 50 years. Only a 6-0 scoreline in the last fixture of the season would do it. We had a great squad and strength in depth throughout the year.

Julian was back in the area after a short time away and he was ideal choice to play a part in our last match.

It was a nervy, edgy night. The Bishop wasn't much better. We all spent as much time looking at the other games as we did on our own. Julian's game was particularly interesting.

A Traxler Counter-Attack seemed to be doing what it usually did in the hands of Julian; White's King came under a ferocious early attack. It did cost material but that doesn't matter too much in such lines. Unfortunately Julian's further sacrifices, to 'force' mate, didn't go to plan and the White King slipped out of the net.

White has just played 26 Rxg4

It seems astonishing that Black can turn this around. Yet only a 6-0 would do, and 50 years is a long time to wait. Julian had the hopes of everyone resting on his shoulders. If he resigned then a whole season of hard work would evaporate immediately.

With extraordinary concentration, he somehow managed to claw his way back into the game and create serious counterplay. The nerves of the occasion were felt throughout the room. Opponents are not immune. Mistakes were now, the match score was 5-0 and some Guisborough players paced the room while others allowed their jaws to drop as they watched...

Even now, it is hard to believe, but the game ended in this position:

After Black's 48 …Kxc3 White resigned

Fast-forward 10 years. It's my first season with Elmwood and we need to win the final match of the season to take the title. We are playing the only other team who can win the league but it's not quite winner takes all; our 'goal difference' is slightly poorer than theirs so a 3-3 isn't good enough for us.

We are forced to play with a weakened team; a pity after such a close season but rules are rules and can enforced if people so wish.

However, there is a chance...Julian will be in town! He is signed up. A willing warrior, happy to play Black, on board one, in the toughest match of the season. This time it's a Caro-Kann. 10 years can do a lot to a person's opening repertoire.

After 28 Ne4

Has White made any progress? A timely Ne4-d6-c8-e7+ might cook the goose of the pinned Knight on f8. Black, however, demonstrates that the potential trouble is an illusion.

28...Qc1+ 29.Kh2 Qxb2 30.Nd6 Qf6 31.Nc8 Qf4+ 32.Kg1 Qc1+

Elmwood won, 3½–2½. Just enough!

...and where will we be in ten more years...?

Friday 29 May 2009

It's A Sign!

There's a brand new Live Journal site for you to add to your favourites.

It's a collaborative effort from Girlorchid and myself and it aims to bring you the best of all the crazy, amazing and ridiculous signs we've ever seen.

We are currently in the process of adding all the signs that we have already posted on our respective sites and then we'll add some new ones.

Here it is:

Interview With A King

My six-page interview with Grandmaster Daniel King is in the June issue of CHESS Magazine. The man himself is on the front cover.

It's time you subscribed, so here's the link:

Wednesday 27 May 2009

Two New Festival Guests

The new Children's Literature Festival continues to gather pace.

Two more guests have been announced and I'm hoping to confirm three more in the next week or so.

For further details, please visit:

Chess Reviews: 95

Nottingham 1936
By GM Alexander Alekhine
21st Century Edition!
195 pages
Russell Enterprises

Nottingham 1936 is undoubtedly one of the greatest of all chess tournaments. Max Euwe, the reigning World Champion, had a tough task defending his honour against three former champions (Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine), a future champion (Botvinnik) and the cream of American chess players (Reshevsky and Fine). Throw in several other established chess stars (Flohr, Bogoljubow, Vidmar and Tartakower) and four of the best 'home' players (Tylor, Alexander, Thomas and Winter) and it all makes for a fascinating mix of styles and personalities.

To cut a long story short, Capablanca and Botvinnik shared first place just ahead of a logjam of super stars.

This new edition of an already famous tournament book begins with a good introduction by GM Andy Soltis.

To see the games from such a strong event fully annotated by a World Champion is a treat indeed. Perhaps the theory of the openings has dated, but nothing else has.

Here's some randomly chosen moments from Alekhine's annotations. He is often quite sharp in his criticisms but he doesn't exclude himself from the treatment.

Alekhine - Taylor


This sacrifice cannot even be called a blunder; it is as good, or as bad, as any other move. Black's position being hopeless. if for instance 46...Kxd5, then 47 Rd1+ Ke6 (or 47...Ke5 48 Bc6 threatening 49 Rd5+) 48 Kc3 and the advance of the king wins rapidly.

47 Kd3??

An awful move, the fact that White was very short of time is, to my mind, as little to be considered as an excuse, as for instance the statement of the law-breaker that he was drunk at the moment that he committed the crime. the inability of an experienced master to deal with the clock should be considered as grave a fault as a miscalculation.

He then goes on to point out that 47 Bxa4 wins easily.

Tylor - Flohr

77...Ka4?? (allowing 78 Bd3; 1-0 after 95 moves)

There were some voices in the press which attributed Flohr's failure at Nottingham to ''bad luck,'' and especially to the fact that he lost two points to the British players, against whom he had previously had good results. The present game, more than any other, shows that such an appreciation is entirely wrong: Because a master, who not being able to win through his own ability, tries to gain a point by exhausting a less physically trained opponent, fully deserves to lose.

The annotations are refreshingly verbal in the main, with not too many long variations.

Indeed, schematic thinking is more often the order of the day, such as in this classic endgame.

Botvinnik - Thomas

This position has been reached perforce, and White's win is now assured. the process is divided into four parts:

I. White forces the advance of the h-pawn

II. White captures the h-pawn with the king.

III. By playing his knight to f5, White secures his king's advance.

IV. After retreating the knight to f1, White drives the black king into a stalemate position, thus forcing the move f2. On this square the pawn will be captured, and that is the finish.

...and that's exactly what Botvinnik did.

Russell Enterprises are doing a fine job in giving classic tournament books a whole new lease of life. This is an eminently readable and highly enjoyable account of a fascinating tournament.

For more on books from Russell Enterprises, pop along to:

Missed a review? Please visit my archive:

Saturday 23 May 2009

Chess in 'The Times'

Good news for chess fans.

GM Keene's chess column was taken off the online site of The Times for a short time but it has now been reinstated.

Follow all the action here:


Friday 22 May 2009

Literature Festival: First Guest Announced

I have just made the first guest announcement on the festival sites:

More announcements soon.

Wednesday 20 May 2009

Mongoose Update

Pop along to Mongoose Times for the latest chess update:

Chess Reviews: 94

Der Weltmeisterschaftskampf Lasker - Steinitz 1894
GM Robert Hubner
235 pages
Edition Marco

The titanic World Championship in 1894, in which Lasker was the challenger and Steinitz the defending champion, was an important point in the history of chess. It was the first time an official World Champion lost his title and it set Lasker on the road to his record tenure at the top of the chess world.

The bibliographyof this new book reveals an impressive amount of research. Nearly 60 books and magazines are referenced, all the way from 1894 J.G. Cunningham’s ‘The Games in the Steinitz- Lasker Championship Match’ to 2005’s ‘Why Lasker Matters’ by GM Soltis.

The first part of the book is devoted to Lasker’s earlier matches, showing how he gained experience and enhanced his reputation along the way. His match opponents included Mieses, Bird and Blackburne.

The match reports are accompanied by photos, tables and background information. There are also some annotated games, with several earning the full Hubner treatment. For example, game three of the Lasker - Mieses match receives nearly nine full pages of analysis. Amazing, for a forgotten game in an obscure match.

The bulk of the work covers the titular match.

It wasn’t at all clear who was the favourite to win the 1894 match. Chess wasn’t necessarily seen as a young man’s game back then. Steinitz’s exciting matches against Zukertort, Gunsberg and Chigorin had established the Austrian as a very worthy champion. Lasker had youth on his side and had been building up essential match practice.

The match featured several distinct phases.

Games 1-6: Two wins each followed by two draws.

Games 7-11 A disaster for Steinitz, who should have won game 7 but lost instead, inaugurating a stunning five-game winning streak for Lasker.

Lasker - Steinitz
Game 7

This is a pivotal moment in the game (and, indeed, the match). Lasker has just played 33 Bd3-f5 and Steinitz tried to flee the troubled corner with 33...Kf7? and eventually lost.

GM Hubner digs deep and analyses five options, namely:

33...gxf5 33...Rg3 33...d4 33...b5 33...c3

Each variation contains various subsections. GM Hubner likes to leave no stone unturned.

Games 12-14 Steinitz stopped the rot and took two wins and a draw from an impressive spell of recovery.

Games 15-19 Tough battles, with more traded wins before Lasker finally notched up his critical tenth win.

GM Hubner plumbs the depths of every game with his keen and determined analytical eye. Improvements on previous annotations are revealed with frequency and ‘?’ abound. Eagles eyes are needed to spot any sign of a ‘!’

Extended coverage is also given to Lasker’s intriguing 1910 title clash with the enigmatic Karl Schlechter. Despite being tagged ‘the drawing master’, Schlechter dragged the champion to the very brink of defeat with fighting chess of ferocious quality. The author really is in his element as he turns the spotlight on the dramatic twists and turns games 5, 7 and 10 (the other seven games are unannotated).

The 10 and final game remains one of the most controversial and murky of all World Championship encounters. Why did Schlechter push so hard for the win from an apparently winning match situation? Leading by a point with a single game remaining, the challenger showed no signs of playing for a ninth draw.

Lasker, who had failed to dent Schlechter’s Open Defence to the Ruy Lopez in any his four White games up until that point, had to try something different and this led to the first 1 d4 of the match.

The author devotes over 27 pages to this sensational clash, drawing on 27 sources to enhance and expand his own annotations. The score: 10 question marks for Lasker (out of 71 moves), 9 for Schlechter but nevertheless a priceless win for the defending champion.

Lasker - Schlechter
Game 10

Having recently sacrificed the exchange, Schlecter tragically misses the best path.


39...Qh4+ is much better. GM Hubner considers:

40 Kd1 Qh1+ und Schwarz gewinnt: 41 Ke2 Qg2+

40 Rg3 Qh1+ 41 Kd2 Rf2+ und Schwarz gewinnt’

40 Kd2 and 40 Kf1 are both analysed to a draw, thanks partly to two loose pieces dropping off. For example: 40 Kf1 Qh3+ 41 Kf2 Rxf3+ 42 Qxf3 Qxc8 43 Qh5+ Kg8 44 Qxb5

Surely even Lasker wouldn’t be able to significantly complicate this simplified position.

However, after 39...Qh1+? the champion eventually won and kept his title. What a pity that a second match was never played. Indeed, Lasker played Schlechter played only two more games with each other, in a small tournament of troubled men after The Great War.

I found the analysis to be impressively thorough but less intense than that in GM Hubner’s ‘25 Annotated Games’ and therefore more accessible.

The book is in German but that shouldn’t put off any students of chess. The game moves and annotations can be followed just as easily as normal.

The production values are very high. The blue hardback binding is very elegant and the paper is of impressive quality. The layout is very crisp and clear. It’s quite clearly a labour of love.

It will not appeal very much to casual players or those who are interested mainly in the latest theory of the openings. However, historians and analysts who like to really dig deep into chess positions should welcome the book with open arms

The contact email for further details and ordering information is:

Monday 18 May 2009

No Burning Ambition

Arson: there's a lot of it about.

Yet some places should be quite safe from this beastly crime.

However, just in case, it always makes sense to warn people not set things alight. The river Wear should be able to sleep soundly in its bed and feel a lot safer thanks to this warning sign

Sunday 17 May 2009

Chess Reviews: 93

Kill K.I.D. 1
By Semko Semkov
140 pages
Chess Stars

‘Warning! Do not kill any kid around. I only refer to the King’s Indian Defence! That one, I have been trying to kill for more than 20 years.’

To that end, the author has come up with an original work on the Four Pawns Attack, in which White eagerly grabs all of the space on offer and plans to push Black off the other end of the board.



About the structure of his Book

Modern Benoni Pawn Structures

King’s Indian Defence and Volga Pawn Structures

Modern Defence and Other Rare Move Orders

The trademark Chess Stars format is used for the main coverage, with each system analysed over the course of three section; namely:

‘Quick Repertoire’

‘Step by Step’

‘Complete Games’

The author believes there are many improvements to previously published material. ‘I feel the current theory of the FPA is totally messed up if not entirely wrong’ and has confidence in his new ammunition: ‘I hope it will cause considerable headache to Black players.’

Perhaps the most critical line of all arises after the following sequence:

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 c5 6.d5 0–0 7.Nf3 e6 8.Be2 exd5 9.cxd5 Re8

It is here that the book’s worth will stand or fall. The author has invested a lot of time and effort in his quest to kill this particular branch of the K.I.D.

‘This whole part is based solely on my original analysis, so do not wonder about the absence of references to other games. The reason to write this book is that I want to propose a new approach to this variation.’

10.e5 dxe5 11.fxe5 Ng4 12.e6! fxe6 13.d6!

Several advantages are stated to support the suggested approach. In summary, these are:

1. It is unexplored

2. It has very sound positional foundation

3. It has been extensively checked with the latest chess engines

4. It has been tested in blitz games

The Four Pawn Attack is definitely not for the faint hearted. Will White end up being hopelessly overextended or will Black be smashed off the board? This book hopes the former will be the case.

Time and again, examples are given in which the black squares around the enemy King prove to fatally weak. Here’s an easy demonstration:

18 Qxd4!! cxd4 19 Bxg4 Qa4 20 b3

The latter part of the book looks at related Black systems and move orders which make it awkward for White to get into a Four Pawn Attack.

‘The best part of having the FPA in one’s repertoire is that Black will often try to outsmart you with tricky move orders and second grade systems which commonly delay …Nf6 or …g6. They are called ‘Modern’, but perhaps ‘Dubious’ would have been a more appropriate name.’

Here, the general strategy is not to try and blow Black away in short order; the emphasis is more building and maintaining a solid positional advantage based on the natural territorial gains.

I often try out book lines against chess engines and was surprised to see Fritz fall into the trap given on page 76. It was only a three minute game but it does show the danger Black can easily slip into.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0–0 6.Nf3 c5 7.d5 b5 8.cxb5 a6 9.a4 Qa5 10.Bd2 Qb4 11.Qc2

‘Black can easily lose his Queen’ says the book, and so it came to pass...

11 …axb5 12.Bxb5 Ba6 13.e5 dxe5 14.fxe5 Ng4 15.Nd1

….and White won easily.

As usual with original analysis, everything needs to be tried out over the board in serious games to give it a thorough testing. Killing the King’s Indian Defence is no easy matter but Semko Semkov provides plenty of food for thought.

For further details of all Chess Stars products, please visit:

Missed a review? Pop along to my archive:

Friday 15 May 2009

Norman Stephenson's Openings Workshop #8

Time to refresh your chess openings!

Norman Stephenson's

Openings Workshop Report #8

Sunday 10 May 2009

David Benson Sings Noel Coward

David Benson Sings Noel Coward

Darlington Arts Centre

This was by no means the first David Benson show I have had the pleasure of watching
(see: ) and I can happily say, right at the start, that his usual high standard was definitely maintained.

He was joined by Stewart Nicholls on the piano (and occasional duet). Stewart, a member of the Noel Coward Society and clearly a great expert on the life of works of The Master, is also responsible for the newly restored version of the score for 'Sail Away'.

The show covered an excellent selection of material from all eras of The Master’s work, including: 'There Are Bad Times Just Around The Corner', 'Mad About The Boy', 'London Pride', 'Mad Dogs And Englishmen', 'A Bar On The Piccolo Marina' and 'Don't Put Your Daughter On The Stage, Mrs Worthington'.

Not all of the songs were from Coward's better-known works and it was good to see the inclusion of some from 'Sail Away' and 'The Girl Who Came To Supper'. The latter hardly ever gets a mention which is a shame as it contains some real buried treasure, such as 'Just People'.

Biographical snippets interspersed the songs; the audience may have known some of them prior to the show, but certainly not all.

Props included feather boas, a Joyce Grenfell straw hat (complete with exaggerated blond pigtails), a crown, a green carnation, a pith helmet (to enable one to go out in the midday sun) and even, for 'Three Juvenile Delinquents’, a hoody (the garment, not the wastrel).

The evening drew to a close with the fitting ‘I’ll See You Again’ and a semi-improvised version of ‘Nina’.

It was a thoroughly entertaining show and one I would definitely go to again if and when it returns to the North East.

Stewart and David - clearly delighted to be in Darlington

Stewart appears shocked by David's playing of the air piano

For further details of the two stars, pop along to:

For more on The Master, this is the place to go:

Thursday 7 May 2009

Staunton Memorial 2009

Details of the 2009 Staunton Memorial have emerged.

The number of participants has grown and there are now two tournaments.

The UK will play Holland in a Scheveningen tournament and there will be an intriguing all-play-all alongside.

The UK team consists of Adams, Short, Howell, Rowson and Jones. They will be up against Sokolov, Smeets, van Wely, L'ami and Werle.

The all-play-all features ten players, including two former World Championship finalists, in the form of Korchnoy and Timman.

The events start on 7 August and finish on 17 August. The venue is London's Simpsons In The Strand.

It's remarkable that in these troubled times the Staunton Memorial event is able to reveal its strongest ever line-up. This is all excellent news for chess.

Further details are available here:

Some information regarding last year's event san be found here:

...with some more relative information here:

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Mongoose Update

There's a new article over at Mongoose Times, you lucky people!

'All Stars' Match

‘All Stars’ Football Match

3 May 2009

Darlington Football Club is in serious financial trouble. This exhibition match was organised to raise funds and it pitched the Darlington team 1999-2000 against the ‘All Stars’.

Former top referee George Courtney was in charge on the pitch and another former referee, Jeff Winter, acted as MC throughout proceedings.

Darlington included former manager Dave Penney, Marco Gabbiadini and current manager Martin Gray. The All Stars featured Paul Gascoigne, Dean Windass, Alun Armstrong and Bernie Slaven.

Before the match started, the crowd of nearly 3,400 was treated to a rousing performance by the band of the First Scottish Guards.

The photos are from a distance and aganst the sun but should be good enough to provide a flavour of the day.

The band in full swing

The players line up

Once under way, the ‘All Stars’ dominated the early stages and were soon 2-0 ahead. Darlington looked outclassed but they did manage to grab a goal back shortly before half-time.

Paul Gascoigne was cheered virtually every time he touched the ball and was happy to sign autographs before and after the match. He was full of tricks and mischief; running behind the linesman and pretending to pull down his shorts; bending down to play the ball off his knee; telling the officials he’d ‘…get his Mam on to them’ after a decision had gone against him. He took - and scored - an early penalty after pointing and telling the keeper exactly where he was going to place the ball.

In the black and white, the two nearest players are Bernie Slaven and Dean Windass

He lasted about 70 minutes before being substituted. Jeff Winter immediately interviewed him and congratulated him on his performance. ‘Aye, not bad like for a man whose been sectioned’ replied the irrepressible Gazza.
Gazza being interviewed by Jeff Winter

Meanwhile, the ‘All Stars’ were fading and Darlington were scoring goals for fun. They turned the match around and established a commanding 5-2 lead, thanks partly to two good goals by Martin Gray. The ‘All Stars’ had just enough gas in the tank to snaffle a late consolation goal, with Bernie Slaven rolling back the years to produce a magnificent finish for his second goal of the match.

There wasn’t enough time or energy left for a major comeback so the final score was 5-3 to Darlington.

It's all over - possibly in more ways than one

It had been a very entertaining afternoon. The future of the club, alas, remains entirely unclear.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Chess Reviews: 92

The Closed Sicilian
By GM Nigel Davies
4.5 Hours

‘During the early stages White quietly builds strong central fortifications and gains space on the kingside. Despite the quiet appearance of this plan, in the middlegame this can lead to a ferocious onslaught against Black’s king.’

GM Davies starts off by drawing the viewer’s attention to the pedigree of the Closed Sicilian. It has been played by Smyslov, Spassky, Adams and Short, with occasional outings in the hands of Lasker and Karpov.

The ten-minute introduction shows the basic moves and provides a rough outline of the plans at White’s disposal. Highlighting the creative side of the opening - and the fact that ideas are much more important than theory - GM Davies opines that the system is an ideal choice for players with limited study time.

The material is based around 18 main illustrative games and each one focuses on the ideas and plans involved.

The starting point for the meat of the DVD is one of the most popular positions. Following the moves: 1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 d6

White is now at a crossroads. The choice for the sixth move depends on which plan a player wishes to follow. The presenter runs through the basic options:

6 f4 Expansion on the Kingside with a general pawn storm

6 Be3 to exchange the dark squared Bishops

6 Nge2 to keep the options open

6 Nh3 developing without blocking the f4 pawn

6 Nf3 perhaps heading for Nh4 and f4.

The plan of a3 and b4.

All of these are covered over the course of the 18 games.

Spassky’s crushing victories over Geller, in their 1968 Candidates’ Match remain essential study material for aspiring Closed Sicilian exponents and game six of the match is the first to analysed.

Spassky - Geller

Here’s a small taster of the action…

25 Nxf7! 1-0 (32)

The concluding segment puts a new slant on things, first looking at a couple of nuances in the early move order and then showing how to use the same ideas for Black to combat the English Opening.

This DVD should be well received by those who would like to get an anti-Sicilian system up and running with the minimum of fuss. As usual, GM Davies hits the club player target level right on the bullseye.

Power Play 9:
Major Pieces v Minor Pieces
By GM Daniel King
4 Hours, 15 Minutes

‘These material imbalances are incredibly common - be prepared and take control.’

The impressive ‘Power Play’ series continues with a thorough investigation into material imbalances, specifically those featuring major pieces against minor pieces. Creating any sort of imbalance can be the first step on the road to victory, especially when an experienced player intends outfoxing and outplaying a less knowledgeable opponent.

The excellent introduction nicely sets the scene. GM King shows four positions; the first two demonstrate the power of the major pieces against uncoordinated minors, with the inevitable carnage there for all to see. He then balances things up with two examples of better placed minor pieces easily holding their own against the chessboard giants.

The next video clip is used to present a set of test positions for the viewer to try, such as this one:

Abramovic - Benjamin
New York Open 1984

Black to play

There are no clues on the DVD, but what would you do if you were in Black’s shoes here?

The rest of the DVD presents the answers, with full extremely instructive explanations.

The topics include:

Queen v Bishop and Knight

Queen v Rook and Knight

Queen v Rook and Bishop

Two Minor Pieces v Rook

Exchange Sacrifice

The latter subject highlights the expertise of first Petrosian and then Topalov, who has ‘…really brought on the exchange sacrifice; he’s taken it to a new level’.

One of the most straightforward examples is a classic by the ninth World Champion.

Polugaevsky - Petrosian
Moscow 1983


GM King explains that Black has undisputed control of the lion’s share of the dark squares and, very importantly, Polugaevsky has now counterplay at all.

Although White could have played some better moves, the game continuation provides total justification for the sacrifice.

20 fxe3 Nc5 21 Qc2 Re8 22 Rf2 Bh6 23 Qc3 Qe7 24 Rb6? Na4 0-1

With an excellent selection of material and a polished presentation, this DVD keeps up the very high quality of the Power Chess series.

Opening Encyclopaedia 2009

The encyclopaedia contains 3.3 million games (of which 79,000 are annotated) and consists of 4,500 opening surveys. There are 437 theory databases, some of which will be familiar to readers of Chessbase Magazine, although 78 are new for this disc.

Those numbers alone should easily convince the reader that the amount of material is truly astonishing.

Main line openings are well represented but there’s plenty of material for free spirits and those looking to master a number of surprise weapons. For example, there are eight sections on the Elephant Gambit and even a whole survey on Basman’s 1 c4 g5.

The survey authors include such luminaries as Korchnoy, Anand, Hubner and Ribli, so the quality is not in question.

Naturally, it is not enough to merely have a vast amount of data at one’s disposal; one must also use it. Lazy players or those with very limited study time should look elsewhere, but the hard-working student will find a veritable goldmine on a single disc.

For further details of Chessbase products, please go to:

Missed a review? Pop along to my archive:

Sunday 3 May 2009

3rd Scarborough Literature Festival 2009

It didn't seem like a whole year had gone by since I attended the Second Scarborough Literature Festival ( ), but somehow it had.

Our B&B was part of a converted windmill, which also housed the owner's huge collection of toys.

I couldn't get to any of the events on the Thursday but I was there for nearly all the rest of the festival.

Friday 24 April started off with effervescent author and poet, Jackie Kay, whose lively readings began proceedings with a bang.

Next up were three crime writers: Graham Hurley, Lee Child and David Hewson, in a session hosted by Peter Guttridge. They had very different writing styles, particularly in their approach to research.

The popular Kate Atkinson ensured a full house for the next session.

Then it was back to more crime, with Simon Kernick and Stewart Pawson revealing more murderous deeds.

Niall Stanage brought the day to a close with a very insightful account of his time on the Obama trail and he read several passages from his book 'Redemption Song'.

Saturday 25 April saw another full house for a quartet of historians.

Alison Weir, Tracy Borman, Sarah Gristwood and Kate Williams all read from their latest works and took many questions from the audience.

Anne Fine is another very popular author, especially with children. This was the probably the most family-orientated session of the lot.

Fran Sandham gave a very interesting talk about his experiences walking 3,000 miles across part of Africa.

One of the highlights of the whole weekend was the talk given by Terrance Dicks. I remember, at the age of 10, buying his novelisation of 'Genesis of the Daleks' from the school Bookworm Book Club. All these years on and Davros has made a stunning return to our screens and I'm still buying Terrance Dicks books. Some things never change.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get a ticket of the Saturday finale, featuring Kate Adie. The next day I heard lots of people saying how good she had been.

Sunday 26 April kicked off with Jenni Murray in fine form, interviewed by James Nash. James, an author and poet in his own right, went on to do a session of his own afterwards.

The sun was out in Scarborough; it was the rain's weekend off. I had plenty to think about as I looked out over the bay and eat my lunch, under the watchful eye of Queen Victoria.

The weekend was drawing to a close but there were still two treats left.

Libby Purvis was another very popular guest and she kept the packed audience entertained and amused.

The finale brought a terrific performance from actor, writer, wit and livewire Barry Rutter, whose jokes, stories and readings of more serious matter brought the weekend to a close on a definite high.

All being well, the festival will return next year.