Sunday, March 12, 2006

(198) Completing the Irish set

Example 65 in Coincidences is centred around a 3 move queen sacrifice sequence overlooked in the 1999 game Daly Vs Rochev but executed by John Travolta in the 1996 film, Phenomenon.

At a Birmingham team match weekend in March 2003 I spotted Yuri Rochev, whom I had never before encountered, and silently handed him a gift copy of my book.

There were 3 young, titled Irish players named Quinn, Kelly and, in my opinion the most talented, Sam Collins.
Three quintessentially Irish names, so much so that it had occurred to me that you only really needed a Murphy to complete the set!

In May 2003 I met Rochev again at the same venue and we briefly discussed the book.
He said that he had actually noted the queen sacrifice that he could have played in his game at an earlier moment, looming as a future possibility, but when the moment came to actually do it... he had forgotten and played a prosaic winning move instead!

On August 29th 2003 I got an e mail from a man signing himself Niall Murphy and saying that he would like to buy a copy of Coincidences.

I wrote back asking how he had come across it. He responded -

Dear Mr Plaskett I came across your book via ICC finger notes.I had your book playing to win and stumbled on to parsifal when looking at B23
I also liked your French vs. short a few years ago I had a feeling I had seen you play it on icc against NDS prior to 4NCL game.

ICC stood for Internet Chess Club.

In subsequent e mails he added -

I was reminded of your book when chess playing friend and psychology graduate told me he had read it while studying in the UK.
He also had played you in simul last year 1 e4 Nc6 somewhere and found you to be a very nicefellow. Address with money.
Regards Niall Murphy
p.s apologies if previous form of address "hi James" was too American

And -
Hi James If I send a draft to this address for 20 dollars you will forward it to meon receipt.
Regards Niall Murphy

Then somehow the money did not arrive (... lost in the Spanish post?)
After a while I explained the problem and he said he would send it again.

In September (I think) 2003 an Irish family came to stay in their holiday home which was in the next street to ours of the Urbanisation Amapolas 3 on the Orihuela Costa.
Their son played chess with mine a few times on the large chess table on our patio. His mother had an interest in martial arts and when she discovered that my wife and son were into karate they got chatting.
I think the family came out again that October for a brief visit and it was then that the lady mentioned that the husband of her best friend was Johnny Joyce, who was apparently a good Irish chess player.
I had not heard of him.

She said that he had heard from her that there was an English Grandmaster in the next street to them in Spain, so she asked for my name. She added that she thought that at that moment Joyce was away with Irish juniors in Greece.
It all prompted me to mention that the three most promising young Irishmen were Quinn, Kelly and Collins, and that with these names you really only needed a Murphy to complete the set!

In late October/ early November I got around again to contacting Mr Murphy re his uncompleted order.
On Nov 4th 2003 this e mail arrived -

Hi James, I have just returned from world junior chess tournament. My son was playing Dara O Murchadha Under 12. I was unable to access my e mail out there(Kalithea)Sorry for all frustration. I will e mail tomorrow when money sent. Yes I want book.
Regards Niall

I did not even know he had a son, nor that the Irish entrant in this event was Murphy (for the surname o´Murchadha is rendered thus in English) as his father had already been doing.

Later that day I got this -

Hi Here is his link
Regards Niall

I wrote back mentioning the Johnny Joyce´s missus´ holiday home in the next street thing, and he came back with -

Hi James I met John Joyce out there.He was one of three coaches we brought.Yuri Rochev,JJ and Dave Drakeford.He( John Joyce) made a big impression hard working nice supportive and very good with the kids.He lives in Wicklow Ballykissangel land. He found (everyone did) coaching very draining emotionally.I have attended only two chess tournament so I was overwhelmed with how hard(stressful it is)but my son enjoyed and learned a lot and met some nice people.what more can you ask for. Watch for confirmation tomorrow on posting of money.Thanks again.
Regards Niall

Next day I got this -

Hi James Money and address sent.Postwoman said 5 or 6 days counting from tomorrow. Yuri lives in Galway(like me)and coached my son since April.
Regards Niall

I wrote back and for the first time mentioned that Rochev was in the book, and had a gift copy from me.
His response was -
.... Yuri never mentioned your book! I am really surprised that he has a copy. If there was a free copy available I do not think I would buy it (to be honest) He still has not mentioned it.
He is professional scientist so I imagine extremely sceptical of coincidences. I had sent message to you once before on ICC where I asked you after you beat Short in Be7 line in Tarrasch if you had used ICC to sharpen openings .You replied enigmatically maybe but not that exact phrase. It was meeting Rory Quinn that rekindled my interest this Summer.

So, I give Rochev the gift book in March, and next month he starts teaching the Murphy boy, whose father later contacts me for a copy of the book, which he was unaware Rochev already possessed.

By then I had sold just over 200 copies, globally.

Niall said something about his having a university academic friend called Quinn who had read my book and liked it.
He refers to him in the last e mail.

NB. In early January 2010 I logged on to the Internet Chess Club and found that Mr Murphy, with whom I had had no contact since 2003, had left a message for me on December 29th 2009. He said that he had just noticed my signature in a copy of Simon Webb´s book Chess For Tigers.

I asked him to clarify and on January 11th 2010 I got -

Happy new year to you and your family as well.I Have it on my shelf along with other chess books i intend to read
. I just noticed it your name on it recently.It is second hand I probably got it in local second hand bookshop.I live in Galway. niall Murphy

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