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Bedfordshire’s finest ever player, GM James Plaskett, once decided that it was too difficult to make money in chess and tried showbiz instead. He entered the tv show ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ and did rather well. When I last returned home to study, I spoke to friends about this, since his former teacher and mentor Paul Habershon still plays for Bedfordshire, and one of my friends remembers James very well, describing him as ‘learned’ from an early age, and likely to do well on such a show.

I found James’s performance to be intriguing on many levels, he seemed totally focused and completely unphased by the whole thing. The presenter Chris Tarrant didn’t know how to handle him at times, and showed great respect throughout I thought. I won’t say how well James did, or ‘Jim’ as he is known amongst friends, all I will say is that I only got half as far as he did, and I’m pretty strong on general knowledge. During the summer I entered a pub quiz in my current home town Baku and formed a team by myself (if a team can comprise of only one that is). The team of 8 that won that day scored 93/100, I came second with 92 and the rest I didn’t pay much attention to as they were well behind. All participants worked in the education sector, most if not all were teachers too but few, if any, of the questions were as tough as what ‘Jim’ had to answer once the money started rolling in. If I were to guess, I would say the producers realized he was more than capable of going all the way and gave him untypically difficult questions. It’s not that the topics became so specialized but that the degree of knowledge required was so high. Like ‘Jim’, I too was completely flummoxed by the final question he faced.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRjAa83f-tk  (please go to 5.50 to Jim in action)


The last question the author was able to answer.

The last question which the author was able to answer.

Bedford Modern School. Though Mr.Habershon, stillin the 190's beat my 1 f4 when I was most active, one of his protege's, a certain Ben McFarlane, who had reached 170 before he left school was not so fortunate.

Bedford Modern School. Though Mr.Habershon, still in the 190’s, beat my 1f4 when I was most active, one of his proteges, a certain Ben McFarlane, who had reached 170 before he left school was not so fortunate, resigning on move 28 if memory serves me correctly.

You can find the winner of the ECF Chess website of the year here. http://www.chessdevon.co.uk/. It’s a nice site with a bit of everything, though I personally thought its presentation could be improved. Anyway, if you are involved in club or county chess and are a webmaster too, you might take something from the site.


Those who played in the Bangkok Open this year can find the pdf for the tournament magazine here http://bangkokchess.com/downloads/BCCOpen2014-Journal-web.pdf. Peter has done a good job of putting it together. There are some nice interviews, and the pictures reveal just how international the tournament is. I am unable to photograph it anymore and won’t be able to participate for a few years at least, however, some photos are still in evidence, the cover was one of mine I believe. It is a tournament I will miss very much.

The documentary ‘Chess Kids’ can be found in the following link


It’s well-handled and worth a watch.

Answers to two wins & a draw

1) Ra8+ Kxa8 2.Qa1+ Kb8 3. Qa7+ Kxa7 4. Nc6+ (the move I couldn’t see) Ka6/a8, 5. Ra1++

2) I thought this was quite pretty. As you have probably noticed, black is already close to stalemate, so…1. Re1+ Kh2 2.Qg1 Kg3 3.Rd3+! Qxd3 (Kg4 will ose to Qd1) 4.Qe3+! QxQ Stalemate. Easy but pretty.

3) 1. Qa8!! (at first sight, counter-intuitive but winning). The rook cannot be saved, black can safely resign here.

Whilst reading the truly wonderful ‘Chess: the history of a game’, by Richard Eales, I discovered that Benjamin Franklin once wrote an essay on ‘The Morals of Chess’. His comments show that he understood our beautiful game very well. The piece certainly reveals it age, his comments regarding ‘the rules of play’ made me chuckle. I would like to add that I am in concordance with the view that singing at the board whilst your opponent is thinking is rather ungentlemanly. After all, the last thing you want whilst deep in concentration is for renditions of the latest death metal number to waft across the board… .

You can find it in Appendix on pg.6.


Founding fathers of the USA or death metal?

Founding father of the USA or death metal?

 A founding father of the USA or death metal?

Two wins & A draw

The positions below are from Hodgson’s ‘The Chess Travellers Quiz book’

1) Wahls – Bjarnason Malo 1986, white to play and win.Pos2

2) Gogolov – Varshavsky, Luksena 1967, black to play and draw.


3) Pagilla – Carbone, Argentina 1976, white to play and win.


Answers to come soon.