In early April 2012 I was trying to work on raising my results in chess.
I decided that one part of this process would be to improve my endgame technique, and that to start with I should even try to better familiarise myself with some of the most basic endings of all; the very elementary ones, not forgetting that in 1993 I had drawn the ending of Queen versus a Rook against Mark Hebden and that in 1997 concerns over that ending materialising on to the board had led me to draw a trivially won position against Jonathan Speelman.
During that game I was recalling Speelman´s comments in 1979 when I overheard him say that Grandmaster Walter Browne, many times U.S. champion, had twice recently drawn that elementary ending against a database.
My erstwhile coach, GM John Nunn, had observed that endings were interesting although "... they don´t happen all that often."
Nevertheless this was a clear relative weakness in my game and I had begun the process of doing something about it, and already that month spent some time looking at, e.g. the theory of the endings of Queen versus a Rook and of Rook and Bishop versus a Rook. This latter ending is a draw but Grandmaster Ulf Andersson had won it twice in the 1970s against strong opposition and I knew that Grandmaster Keith Arkell had won it every time he had got it - an amazing sixteen times!
I recalled that in his book Practical Chess Endings, Estonian GM Paul Keres had remarked that even top players sometimes revealed an alarming unfamiliarity with elementary checkmates.
On the evening of Monday April 16th 2012 I noticed that, for the first time ever, Hugh Murphy had posted something at my Facebook wall -
Hugh Murphy First time I have seen the word Plaskettian
Steve Giddins' Chess Blog: Termitewatch (19) - The Sincerest Form of Flattery stevegiddinschessblog.blogspot.com
I posted in response -
H. James Plaskett Today Termitewatch: tomorrow the world!
And, having thought about it more, decided to refer to a coincidence that I had just encountered (I slightly amend what went up on my wall at Facebook) -
H. James Plaskett Actually, something Plaskettian did befall me yesterday and today - the date of Giddins´ usage of the term. It goes like this: -
I played a rapids event in Dos Hermanas on 14th-15th April. In the last round game of GM M.Ilescas he had, as White, Bishop and Knight and a pawn at f6, defended by the knight from e4.
BUT, apparently this was all new! The 86 year old solution runs thus - 1 Bc6 Qc6 2 Nd8 Ka8 3 Nc6 c2 4 b7 Kb7 5 Na5 Ka8(a7) 6 Nb3 cb3 Stalemate. I sent my version to Baburin and he acknowledged that it´s sound and that therefore the study has just been cooked! But, had I not witnessed that Ilescas game... (!?¿).
THREE more coincidental, minor, codicils, are
a) Barria had, 2 or 3 yrs before, WON on time vs me in the last round of an event in Pilar de la Horadada, just 20 miles from my home, i.e. I was looking for a win in a position , where I could have forced a draw, and I stupidly let my time run out, thus gifting HIM a half a point and some extra Euros.
b) I, a GM and ex British Champion, due to appear on the July 2012 ELO list with a 2503 rating thought, until that day, that the pawnless ending of Q vs B+N was drawn (!!)
c) I had been setting myself an improvement programme and one of the key areas was to work on better acquainting myself with elementary and rare pawnless endings.
This prompted further Facebook postings at the same thread on my wall-
Hugh Murphy Coincidentally I have been looking at Keres' Practical Chess Endings. Keres analyses Q v B & N in detail with only slight drawing chances such as the fortress of Ne5 Bg7 Kg8
H. James Plaskett WHEN WERE YOU LOOKING AT IT?
Hugh Murphy April 15th
H. James Plaskett The very day
a) The Ilescas game occured and
b) I saw the Baburin e mail.
A neat codicil - number four - to the main coincidence, Señor Murphy.
H. James Plaskett FAR less significantly, don´t forget this, from my Back-Up list of coincidences, i.e. those not strong enough for me to deem them Bloggable -
16) Hugh on the train
In late 1985 I found myself in the same train compartment as Hugh Murphy, a chessplayer I knew.
H. James Plaskett ... and the coincidental codicils continue.
I just posted, 10 minutes ago, at 1.11 a.m. Spanish Time, Señor Murphy´s link to Señor Giddins´ Blog post using the adjective Plaskettian on Twitter, addressing the tweet to Courtney Plaskett, a resident of Maryland and pointing out to her that a new adjective had, it would seem, just been coined. Immediately afterwards I spotted that one of 3 new people the site was suggesting I follow was this guy -
Andy Giddings @Gids1980 Football Heaven presenter, bbc radio sheffield. Superleague Show Reporter. ·
H. James Plaskett Never heard of him. And his surname is essentially the same as that of Steve Giddins...
... ... ...
One week later I mentioned the ending of Q Vs B+N to Grandmaster Davor Komlyenovic and also to Daniel Barria himself, and neither was certain of the correct result.
... ... ...
On May 5th 2012, Ingrid Lauterbach got the very rare ending of Bishop and Knight with g and h Pawns Versus Queen and g and h Pawns when playing on board 8 for my Guildford team in a 4NCL match at the Hinckley Island Hotel in Leicestershire against Marcos Camacho Collados.
Hugh Murphy happened to enter the small room where they were playing. It was the first time we had met since the Facebook interchange and he remarked to me on how coincidental it should be, following the events outlined in this entry, that she should have such a position.
Her game ended in a draw.
My opponent the next day was Marcos Comacho Collados.