Hammer played host to chess royalty this past Monday – Grandmaster Nigel “Nosher” Short and FIDE vice-president was our guest speaker. The man who crushed Anatoly Karpov playing brilliant chess to challenge Gary Kasparov for the World Chess Championship. The first Briton to challenge for the world title in over a century. The 1993 match made headlines all over the world.
Stepping in at the last minute NS gave a brilliant talk centred around three games drawn from his first published chess book titled “Winning”.
As you know Lord Clueless is partial to extreme exaggeration, occasionally, but I can state without any hyperbole this was an amazing night. Nigel was a great presenter, with great stories and a very courteous manner. He also provided a fascinating insight into the thinking of a grandmaster and the role psychology can play in chess games. The other thing that was refreshing, he did not duck questions and was forthright in his opinions – something our politicians should take note of, and practice.
The lecture lasted about 90 minutes with Nigel taking questions all the way through and then enjoying a few glasses of wine afterwards. There was more drama to follow but more of that later.
The lecture was packed with so much but for me, these were some of the highlights
- Nigel reckons too much attention is paid to the opening and that the critical elements and how you can best improve your game are in the middle game and end game.
- The move Bh3 when it was already on its prime diagonal h1-a8 and the reasoning behind it -critical in the equation was his centralised knight on d4
- The adoption of the white pawn structure c4, d3 and e4 brought joy to our President’s heart – although I was really impressed with the early d4 that followed.
- His negotiation of multiple tactical counter threats whilst keeping control of the position
- The preference for the two bishops
- The use of psychology against an opponent who had lost the previous round and was content to play for a draw. Nigel destabilised the position deliberately which meant a fight would occur. A win followed demonstrating that courage and the occasional ?! move
- The switching of advantages – he was not wedded to one route to victory
- His reflections on calculation and his thought processes
- His comments on the use and application of engines and what writing the book taught him about this resource.
- Interspersed with anecdotes on playing chess in many (a trip to Iran was a definite highlight) and various tournaments – the evening was superb.
- A definite stand out moment in the 60 – year history of this great club.Normally I would sign out here but there was more drama to follow.
Following a full debriefing with a few glasses of vino we exited the MSC gathering outside. Nigel was not to be seen- we presumed he had gone home -the building was secured and we departed into the night.
This was the start of “LockinGate”- The biggest chess scandal since some dodgy yoghurt in Baguio City 1978 – Nigel was still in the building – he even tweeted about it. To misquote the classic Jam lyric – “He was down in the MSC at midnight” – yep when Hammer don’t what you to leave – as Chris Skulte commented – there are no lengths to which Hammer will go to raise the strength of our club – kidnapping is not as low as we go.
Thanks to Chris “Batman” Skulte who answered his calls for help, and he was released from his incarceration well after midnight. Nigel was fine and even gave his consent to the following series of tweets.
Many thanks again for the book signing and the lecture @nigelshortchess! Sorry we locked you in the MindSports center afterwards. Get Nigel's first ever book from @chessandbridge pic.twitter.com/YEt9uYD0kI
— Hammersmith Chess (@hammer_chess) September 14, 2021
In the end all’s well ends well ruled the night.
A big shout to Nigel and he is welcome at the Hammer anytime – next time we will not incarcerate him.