He who climbs upon the highest mountains laughs at all tragedies, real or imaginary. Nietzsche TSZ
By now you’ve probably noticed that the best site on the net is Edward Winter’s Chess Notes and the worst is my own…right? If not then shame on you. Owing to the former ambitions of the Proletarian Tourist Excursions Society not too far from Stalin’s home town and a near simultaneous fireworks display held past midnight at -10, some late night surfing on top of a snow-capped mountain range has come to fruition.
A book about chess in my home county was written in 1933, Chess in Bedfordshire by F. Dickens and G.L. White (Leeds, 1933). According to Mr.Winter my home town had its fair share of pre-WW2 talent, with an adopted Lutonian disposing of former world champion Lasker in a simul with the Falkbeer Counter-gambit of all things, and a possible relative of Dickens beating Tartakower, also in a simul. Admittedly, the play from our Maestros leaves a lot to be desired, and had Tartakower played 13…g5 against me (see below), there is no doubt I would have beaten him too. I will endeavour to find out what brought him to Luton and report any findings.
Before its catastrophic modernization, which began in the 1950’s and finished the year I was born, Luton was once a quaint picturesque town where everyone knew each other -quite unlike what it has become. If you don’t know anything about Luton, it was once voted as the worst town in England, although in truth it’s best described as a northern town down south. In recent years it has become an immigration dumping ground for the government, causing the rise of the far-right movement the EDL, which was formed by a group of individuals who lived at the top of my road, and went to the same school I did. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/3692154.stm
In chess terms it is famous for the shortest game ever played between Stewart Reuben and Tony Miles in 1975, the game was:
I am indebted to Edward Winter for the content below:
Courtesy of ChessNotes 7224. http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/winter85.html
An adopted Lutonian, J.E.D Moysey, owner of the once infamous Midland Hotel beats Lasker!
What the Dickens! Tartakower loses in Luton!
S.W. Dickens – Savielly Tartakower
Luton, January 1928
Queen’s Gambit Declined
1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 Nbd7 6 Nf3 O-O 7 Rc1 c6 8 a3 Ne4 9 Bxe7 Qxe7 10 Bd3 f5 11 O-O Rf6 12 Ne2 Rh6 13 Ng3
13…g5 (‘Fierce, but premature attack.’) 14 cxd5 (‘Initial move of a combination threatening to win two pawns and the exchange.’) 14…g4 15 dxe6 gxf3 16 Nxf5 Qxe6 17 Nxh6+ (‘17 Bc4, pinning the queen, would shorten the road to victory.’) 17…Qxh6 18 Bxe4 fxg2 19 Bxg2 Nf6 20 Qf3 Kh8 21 Rc5 Bg4 22 Qf4 Qxf4 23 exf4 Rd8 24 h3 Bh5 25 Rf5 Kg7 26 Re1 Rxd4 27 Re7+ Kg6 28 Rg5+ Kh6 29 Rxb7 Rxf4 30 Rc5 Bg6 31 Rxa7 Rd4 32 Rxc6 Nh5 33 Rac7 Rd1+ 34 Kh2 Rd2 35 Be4 (‘A good manoeuvre to gain freedom.’) 35…Rxf2+ 36 Kg1 Rxb2 37 Bxg6 hxg6 38 a4 Nf4 39 a5 Ra2 40 a6 Kh5 41 a7 Kh4 42 Rc4 g5 43 Rh7+ Kg3 44 Rc3+ Resigns.
Source: pages 19 and 68-69 of Chess in Bedfordshire by F. Dickens and G.L. White (Leeds, 1933).
An excerpt from the Beds Advertiser and Luton Times Nov 11th 1910 shows F.Dickens in action for Luton (source cf: The British Newspaper Archive)
Legal Disclaimer by the author:
This post contains disturbing, graphic imagery that is far too shocking for chess players. Discretionary viewing is advised.
The danger of staring too long at this still is that you may become a feature of our lifeless past for generations. Imagine having to wait over 100 years before anyone could upload and emancipate you into the net.
The horror of it all. The Midland Hotel, a typically rough Luton drinking establishment and its chess-playing owner who’indulged in animated and dogmatic estimates of London players he had met’ during heavy drinking sessions. ‘-his favourite derogatory phrase, delivered in his strong public school accent, was “He’s a mere CAFFYHOUSE player!” So often did he bring this out that it became a sort of shibboleth or “Hi, de, Hi!” in Luton chess circles.’
The Midland Hotel is to the right. It was demolished as was much of Luton town centre for the sake of ‘progress’. The substance of that progress was concrete, unpainted concrete and lots of it, rendering the town centre a light-grey colour in the sun and dark-grey in the rain, sleet and snow. An American style mall became the focal point of the town and ripped the heart out of it. Apart from its grotesque, functionalist design, the most obvious criticism, which still stands today, is that a shopping centre cannot function as the heart of the town, given that it closes at 5pm the town centre is dead thereafter. Culture gave way to commerce, which in turn was based on the whims of a few empowered and disenchanted individuals.
The swinging sixties: when you look at this image you can’t help but relive those psychedelic grooves can you? The street you see (Williamson St.) no longer exists and in the name of progress, the building to the right was ripped down and rebuilt to look the same some years later. This is why so many leave small towns in England, they have nothing to offer except urban misery.
The 70’s revealed in what is the most graphic, disturbing image ever to be posted on a chess website. Luton Arndale centre: a timeless void you must never gaze into.
The Price of Art in Luton
On the bridge approaching the railway,
the man was begging.
I said draw me a dog
and I’ll give you a quid.
So I gave him some paper
and he did.
And I said, there you go, mate,
you can make money out of art!
Will you sign it?
As I handed him the one pound thirty-odd
I had in my pocket,
he informed me that the signed ones were a fiver.
John Hegley (Luton poet and comedian)
A music video by The Doves, which illustrates the effects of the drab and dreary nature of urban life in 70’s Britain can be found below. After being brutalized by a bland supermarket, a gentleman breaks down mentally and abandons all around him. In his need to escape he undertakes a journey full of functionalist architecture, panic, exotica and psychedelia. All that aside its a very catchy tune.