Tuesday, March 07, 2006

(4) Timepieces stopping, mobiles misbehaving, springtime and Nazi lies

During my chess game with Lars Karlsson at a tournament in Gausdal, Norway in April 1982, the clock stopped functioning.
This also occurred in my games with Alexander Chernaiev in the London International Students House tournament in the Summer of 1998, Dean Ippolito at an event in Hampstead in Autumn 1998 and Vs Thomas Rendle in the first round of the Deloitte Touche Jersey tournament of February 1999.

All of the last three events were run by Adam Raoof.
After the Jersey incident I was so annoyed that I threatened to report him to the British Chess Federation for persistently supplying faulty clocks.

Raoof adopted a quite unexpected line of defence.
He said that only I was encountering this difficulty and that there was nothing wrong with his clocks: "It’s you," he suggested.

On December 12th 1999 I played in a quickplay chess congress in Golders Green. In my first round game with Paul Gheorgiou the chess clock stopped.
On January 12th 2000 my first round game of a tournament in Malta was Vs Daniel Abela. Not far into it the clock stopped.
During my first round game vs John Daugman at the Golders Green quickplay of July 15th 2000 the clock stopped.
This happened again in my round three game.

Then at the Golders Green quickplay event of January 13th 2001 the clock stopped in my first round game with Anthony Hines, and also in my sixth round game.

On April 18th 2001 I was playing my second round game in a Hampstead International event against Irina Krush.
After her eleventh move my clock stopped working. She pressed down the button on my side, to start her clock for a second, and then depressed her own button again. My clock started... and then stopped again after just a few seconds. There was no other instance of a clock stopping during the tournament.

This event, like all of those held at Golders Green, was run by Adam Raoof. I called him over to deal with it. "The usual," I explained.

On June 13th 2010 I was competing in a tournament in the Valencian suburb of Massanassa. Digital clocks were being used on all boards.
During my third round game with Fausto Castalla (who is to be seen here playing white on the adjacent board to mine at that event ) -


the clock stopped functioning.
This happened whilst my watch was under repair in Cartagena because it was sometimes stopping.

On January 14th 2012, whilst at a chess event near Daventry, my watch fell of my wrist. The repairer found it to be in three pieces. In July 2012 it fell from my wrist whilst I was in my kitchen. That time the repairer quickly rectified it.
... ... ...
I had a scheduled chess lesson to give to a gentleman in Chicago at 9.p.m. GMT on March 23rd 2001. The handle he used on the Internet Chess Club was Patzermaster.
At about 9:25 I realised that I had forgotten my appointment and hastily logged on to the ICC. I was embarrassed and anxious not to lose his custom, so I hastily sent him this message -

Parsifal (16:27 23-Mar-01 EST):
We have had a shift of time zones here, by one hour, spring time. I think we may therefore have missed each other.
Many aoplogies.

This was a complete falsehood.

Nevertheless, it was not the worst lie I had ever told, and I thought that it might come across as plausible to an American. I soon found out that the altering of the clocks was, in fact, to occur the next day.

Whilst I was typing the message my wife called out that she had just noticed her watch had stopped. I muttered something, and she said that I was not very sympathetic, so I said that I was sorry to hear it.
I think she said that it had stopped at nine o’clock.

A few seconds later a challenge to a three minute chess match appeared on my screen. It was from a Grandmaster with the handle of springtime.

Players’ ratings on ICC alter after each game.

The rating of GM springtime when he challenged me was 2911, and so was mine.
He used a small ‘s’ in his handle, just as I had used a small ‘s’ when typing spring time.

I mentioned the coincidence to him and he said that he had taken his handle from the song Springtime for Hitler from Mel Brooks’ film The Producers.

He made a reference to something like ‘Nazi Germany’.

Earlier that afternoon I had been told off by an anonymous player for spreading ‘Nazi’ lies about GM Tkachiev, when I had made the public announcement that his mother is a Gypsy.

I said this was daft, pointing out that it was Tkachiev himself who had told me.

Later I realised that my student had also not turned up for the appointment, so there was no need for my deceit.

The alteration in time which I falsely claimed had led to my missing my scheduled lesson, but which would occur the next day, was of course to Spring Time.

ICC keeps records of all games of titled players. There are twelve extant between myself and springtime, but this particular one is no longer traceable.

It was suggested to me by administrators that this was probably due to the system having crashed later that day, which would have wiped out any games yet to be added to the records.

All my efforts to find out the identity of springtime have so far drawn a blank.
... ... ...
On at least ten occasions mobile telephones went off by themselves and called to or from me.
The second time that Laurence Garman’s rang my Hastings home of its own accord was on January 15th 1998 and when it did so for a third time on Jan 18th 1998 he came on the line, sounding bewildered, and said that it had never rung anyone else like this. He solved the problem by removing me from the phone’s memory of stored numbers.
In the late 1990s, Nick Foster’s mobile also rang my number twice of its own accord, the first when he was travelling by car with his girlfriend, Paulette Bersch.
On the second such occasion, Foster and I were together in a London bar, after my having just taken part in an Adam Raoof chess event. My wife had previously been trying to contact me via his phone, but it had then called our house spontaneously.
She answered, recognised my voice as one of those that she could hear and shouted over the hubbub for several minutes before giving up.
There was also at least one other occasion in the late 1990s when a mobile called my home in Hastings. All I was able to make out was murmuring in the background, and my shouts did not register.
On July 1st 2000 Jay Kouchak’s mobile called my home in Hastings by itself.
In July 2003 my brother Neil´s mobile misdialled and rang my mobile in Torrevieja, Spain. “Who´ve I got?”, he asked as he came on the line. “Your brother.”
At 10 p.m. on August 17th 2003 the mobile of Al-Helil Munir Saleh rang our home in Playa Flamenca of its own accord.
After nearly ten minutes I rang him at his nearby restaurant from our mobile, as his unmanned call was preventing us from dialling out on the landline.
I explained what was going on and proved my story by quoting excerpts from the conversation which had been going on around him. He had no numbers stored in his phone’s memory bank, and said that he hardly ever used the mobile to dial out, but the last time he had done so was probably to phone me earlier in the month. That was the best he could do for an explanation for the spontaneous call as the phone rested in his trouser pocket.
In August 2004 my wife and son visted a circus near our home, and the mobile which Fiona had taken with her went off and called me at home about half an hour before I was due to leave to pick them up.
On June 17th 2005 a Frau Winkler, mother of a classmate of my son´s, rang our home in Playa Flamenca circa 3:05 p.m. to say that our number had rung her mobile that day.
We had not.

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