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Updated 18.10.16

Random remarks and quotes and absurdities. Send your contributions to Michael Flatt


"I would like to thank the Chairman for his brief introduction."
- Secretary of the FIDE Anti-Cheating Committee. The Chairman's 45-minute introduction had been preceded by "I won't speak for more than a couple of minutes".

"Suseenthiram, Rajajifideno=5064066"
A congress player found in the ECF grading database

"The English Chess Federation Office is now closed for Christmas. We re-open at 9 o'clock on Tuesday 4th January."
ECF out-of-office message, Thursday 18.2.2016 (7 pm)

A correspondent writes:
"Our school is visited by a local U11 team. Players are advised to score. I collect the score sheets after the match. The first one reads:
     1  e1  c2
(Nothing like taking your opponent out of the opening book!)"

"I agree with the incorrect result."
Controller, responding to query

"Can you advise us on how to break the system?"
Local grader, to ECF Grading Administrator

More from the ECF AGM 11.10.14
A County delegate had sent apologies for absence. He was in China. ("Shows how far people will go to avoid Council meetings.") In the course of the meeting he posted on a forum that was reporting it: It's half past midnight here, could you all hurry up a bit? And if there is a break in proceedings could someone tell Richard Haddrell that while most English chess websites seem to be readable from China, the SCCU site is blocked?
     30 minutes later, from another absentee:I believe that the Chinese authorities routinely block subversive material of whatever nature.

From the ECF AGM 11.10.14:
   •  "I don't actually have a vote. They've given him the vote because he speaks louder than me."
   •  "I wrote it, and I agreed with it at the time I wrote it."
   •  "If you want the full story it will take some time."  (Council didn't.)
   •  "Internecine warfare on the Board isn't unknown, but I think we're getting better at it."

Today at the Junior 4NCL.
Girl: "She made an illegal move!"
Arbiter: "She's a he."
Girl: "Whatever."

"Date of birth 30 September 2014"
"Age Less than one year"

"My son joined ECF in May and upgraded his status from blonde to gold in June."
Parent, to ECF

Just asking if I can take a bye for the first round of the XXX. I will check my emails in the morning at 8.30. Please let me know by then if you can.
Email to ECF Office at 2.23 am, regarding an Aberystwyth event starting same day at 9.30 am. The Office is a long way from Aberystwyth and keeps office hours.

"It sounded like a herd of wild elephants upstairs, and we weren't sure if the Chess Club were in so we thought we'd better come up and check."
Venue Person to chess players at a match yesterday in the Kent Summer Quickplay

"Last week's position is the starter problem for the Winton Capital British Chess Solving Championship. There is therefore no solution."
RD Keene in his Times chess column, 7th June 2014

"I would like the agenda to include seeding the draws for the ECF stages to ensure that M1 & M2 meet in the final."
An MCCU person, responding to proposed changes in the ECF County Match Rules

ECF Council 12.4.14
Chairman: "I understand Silvino wants to speak."
Council: "No, it's Sabrina!"
In fairness to the Chairman, Sabrina was at the back of the room and he was unsighted.

"I don't want to take up your time and bore you." We perked up when he said "finally" after 3 minutes, but 5 more minutes ensued.

SCCU Executive meeting 4.4.14
David Sedgwick wishes it to be known that he was on time for the start of this meeting.

From the EC Forum. Arising from the new National Club rules (see below), people have asked when and where the event will be held. The Director's response:
"It will be made public when you all need to know."

The Rules of the National Club Championship 2014 have just appeared on the ECF website. Rule 1 reads:
The competition will be divided into five sections:
  1. Open
  2. Major, restricted to teams whose average grade is less than 175
  3. Inter, restricted to teams whose average grade is less than 150
  4. Minor, restricted to teams whose average grade is less than 125
Rule 3 reads, in part:X
"...If this is tied between more than two or more teams..."

"Team A 2½ 1½ Team B
"Both sides penalised for failure to return result sheets
"Adjusted score 0 0"
A county league controller. That's the way to keep them in line!

"I'm pleased to inform you that the ECF Board has frozen membership rates for 2013-14 at the previous year's levels."
ECF renewal reminder. Er, wasn't it Council that froze membership rates?

Coach: "Why did you resign?"
Junior: "It's my bedtime."

"What's changed?"  -  "Only his mind."
from the ECF AGM 12.10.13

"That's a fallacy, about the Forth Road Bridge."

"Do the clocks go clockwise?"
An 8 year old in a recent junior congress

From a recent Megafinal:
Junior: "I lost in three moves by Scholar's Mate."
Controller: "Scholar's Mate is four moves."
Junior: "Oh. It was three moves. Does that mean I won?"

"God was upset because Adam and Eve had disobeyed him."
From a wall display at Tunbridge Wells's away semi-final today. It may not have had any bearing on the home side's victory.

"Live membership was now 5650 approximately."
Minutes, ECF AGM 2012. Dead membership not stated.

"the Regulations can be accessed at [insert URL]."
ECF website

"The Kazakh whose family live in Germany, but who normally resides in Holland, is unavailable. So I've brought in an Indian who normally lives in Spain but has to travel from Switzerland."
A team manager

From a junior event last weekend in Worcester:
Controller (checking a result slip): "Kevin and Jason drew. That right?"
Jason: "No, I'm Jason Smith."

"The recent changes downgrade the ECF from 'mostly harmless' to 'becoming a nuisance'.
EC Forum

"I wasn't present at the non-meeting."
From the ECF Council meeting 14.4.12

"Next item is Sean's proposal. Sean? He's not here. Next item."

"The elephant in the room is Raymond Keene."

"Tonight I did something that I last did in 1977. I organised the World's first-ever FIDE Rated blitz in Hastings."
S Reuben on the EC Forum

"Name supplied (Smith, John) differs from that on file (Smith, UG)."
ECF Grading computer

From a County Junior committee meeting:
Puzzled committee member: "I know we've got a lot of officers and we pride ourselves on our catering. But Manager of Menus? That's ridiculous!"
Everyone else: "Venues, Richard. Venues."

Junior, at Kent Megafinal 28.5.11:
"No, that's my dad's email address. My name's James."

Which reminds us. A Kent player entered a recent tournament in France, giving his postal address (in part) as 79 St Johns Park. When he arrived, he couldn't find his name in the list of competitors. Eventually he worked out that he was entered as Park, St John (age 79).

"The Board apologises to all eligible voters who took the time and trouble to vote for the failings in the voting methodology"
ECF website 9.5.11

From the ECF Council meeting 16.4.11:
"Why the £5000 contingency item? We've never had one before."
"It's for unexpected items of expenditure."

"The journey from Manchester to Sheffield includes some of the most beautiful countryside in the world and I'm pretty sure no one in Manchester has ever seen it."
Same meeting as the above. (Guess the relevance to Finance.)

"The date of the Club's 2010 AGM has been set as Sunday 17 July 2011."
Hastings & St Leonards CC

From an EPSCA event:
"He beat me with an undiscovered check."

From an U9 event 26.2.11:
Junior (who has bare king): "Tell him it's a draw. He's only got a king and queen left."
Adult: "Well, no, that isn't a forced draw."
Junior's opponent: "Yes, it is." (Accepts draw)
[What should Adult really have said? "I'm not allowed to interfere," presumably.]

"To win a grade limited section you need a grading performance above the upper limit - and therefore you shouldn't be in it."
A correspondent

From a congress leaflet:
"Rate of Play 36 moves in 90 minutes, then 15 moves to complete the game"

From an EPSCA event 5.2.11:
An organiser observed that a game had been agreed drawn where one side was many pieces up (but had not achieved stalemate).
Organiser, curiously: "What happened? Did you offer a draw, or did you accept his offer?"
Junior (after a pause for thought): "Yes."

A correspondent writes:
During an inter-club match recently, when I had a terrible position and virtually no time left, the following exchange occurred.
Opponent: "You've stopped writing the moves down."
Me: "Yes, I've got less than five minutes left."
Opponent: "Is that the rule?"
Me: "Yes."
Opponent continued to think, then played on but stopped writing the moves down.
Me: "You've stopped writing the moves down."
Opponent: "I'm not writing them down if you're not."
Me: "But you have half an hour left."
Opponent: "Well, that's not fair."
Me: "Maybe not, but it is the rule."
Opponent: "Sod it, call it a draw."
Opponent then walked away, leaving his clock running and not waiting for a reply to his draw offer. Correspondent thought about letting the clock run down and claiming a win on time, but decided to settle for the draw.

"If your opponent makes a move that you have never seen before, stop the clock and ask for assistance."
An SCCU (junior) website

An SCCU match captain, noting that a number of his players had arrived late 18.1.11 after horrendous delays on and off the M25:
"Hopefully comments made by those who now no longer wish to play in away matches will not lead to another nail in the coffin for inter-county chess."

MCCU website, noting that four Greater Manchester players had failed to arrive for a match 23.10.10 after horrendous delays on the M6:
"There were more biscuits to go around for the rest of the players."

"The eyes were converted to match points."
Website of World Youth U16 Olympiad (thanks JFP). No, we don't know what they meant.

A Director yawns. Chairman: "I think I agree with ***** on that one."
ECF AGM 16.10.2010

"***** has established a number of public venues where chess can be paid for free."
From the papers of the ECF AGM 16.10.2010

"The only alteration was that rule      should be expunged."
Kent CCA: minutes, December 1890

The Bury (St Edmunds) League 2009-10 has a team called Ely Beetroots and another called Bollards.

"A number of sets have received schools as a result."
From the ECF Finance Council meeting 17.4.10

"It's a completely thankless task." - "Not if you thank him."

"Is it all right if I chair the meeting?" - the chairman

"I was warned, when I took on the job of being the ***** delegate, to expect to be confused."

"In the Intermediate there was a re-pairing in round 4 where the players had already played each other. This was unfortunate, but as their original opponents failed to arrive they agreed to play again."
A congress organiser. It breaks the oldest rule in the book, but what organiser hasn't done it? (Don't all speak at once.)

Your Webmaster's ECF Yearbook arrived today. On the back cover is a large advertisement for the UK Chess Challenge, featuring a chess board which at first sight appears to be the wrong way round. Closer inspection reveals that it has a black square in each corner.

"Rejected. The Date Of Birth (04/08/0199) is 1810 years ago."
ECF grading computer

"It's Gordon Brown's fault. The pound had plummeted when we had to pay our FIDE fees."
ECF AGM 17.10.09: a speaker, on a subject you can guess

"Please enter ............................... in the Rapidplay Handicap National Club Competition. (Please delete as appropriate)."
English Chess Federation

Improbable Swiss Department
Is this a record? The ***** CA has just run a 5-round Swiss with 6 players. They rescued it, but only by adding a 6th round and some byes.

The Bradford League has a new club called Idle. They play at the Idle Working Men's Club.

"Our County sides have done well in recent years. The Captains will usually welcome new faces."
A County website

"****** very kindly stood in as acting Captain for the day owing to my indisposition. The result however was as satisfactory as would be expected from a ****** team."
An SCCU match captain

"Today we won the match with Herts by 8.5 to 7.5...      NOW ! In the quarter final we play with Yorkshire."
An EACU match captain

It is often hard to establish National Club results from other parts of the country. We knew Ashfield had beaten Lancaster, but not by what score. A correspondent wrote 9.4.09:
"I have ascertained that Ashfield reached the Minor semi-final by tieing 2-2 with Lancaster but going through on board count."
     Three minutes later:
"Ignore the last e-mail. The Ashfield website has not been updated for a year and the headline I had spotted proved on closer inspection to relate to last season's competition."

"Split infinitive ordered to be removed by the Chairman!"
Marginal note in Kent CCA minute book, September 1925

"I welcome handwritten letters, and I type them out."
SCCU Bulletin Editor, on readers' letters: November 1997. How times change.

"The meeting was between ******** and the Gerry Walsh (ECF President)."
English Chess Forum

Virgin Trains, on the way back from the ECF Council meeting belowsaid:
"We apologise for the late arrival at Coventry. It is due to late departure from Birmingham."

"...onto Ladywell Walk. The Ibis (big red building) is on your left-hand side."
"...onto Ladywell Walk. The Ibis (big red building) is on your left inside."
Directions for ECF Council meeting 18th October 2008, homing in on the venue from two different starting points

Someone has been sending letters to Ian Voice at the ECF Office. There isn't an Ian Voice at the ECF Office, but there were Invoices in the envelopes.

"Well done to all the teams that have made it this far, but the journey is far from over; there is the finals to negate yet."
Manager of Home Services, to National Club finalists

"This workshop has been devised for attendance by both the Chair and the CEO... to develop their working relationship."
From the summer workshop programme of the CCPR ("one voice for sport and recreation")

"If players don't turn up for the fist round, they will receive no points."
A congress entry form

Four Quotes
from a Megafinal 2008 (thanks JFP):

"Do I put my queen here if I want to castle?"

U10: "There's no set on my table. Does that mean I've won?"

U7 (who has lone K): "It's a draw, isn't it? He's only got a king."
     Arbiter: "No, look, he's got a queen as well."
U7: "Yes, but that's no use."

U8: "Is this nearly checkmate?"

A congress organiser, to ECF webmaster:
"Please note the correct date of this congress. I suspect the error was mine in completing the form as I was using Easter Day as a calendar reference to find Palm Sunday."

An exchange from the ECF Council meeting 26.4.08
"The President is officiating at a junior event in Bulgaria."
   "He thinks he's in Greece. Look at his Report."
"Well, Greece and Bulgaria aren't far apart."

From the above meeting:
"Why do we want good people in office?"
   "Well, personally I prefer them to bad ones."

"My spell checker suggests SCUM for SCCU."

"Drugs for Grading"
Email received 27.11.07 by ECF Grading Administrator

"Changes to ECF Regulation No 3 The Arbiters and Coaches Regulations
Current regulations allow the appointment of an unsuitable person for s/he to then be removed. This has now been changed."
ECF Council 20.10.07: minutes

"Object to Sundays... as the SCCU play in churches."
Council minutes as above

ECF website 26.10.07
"David Welch (ECF Chief Arbiter) is conducting a two-day course for female trainee arbiters."

"A Board that makes mistakes is not an exceptional circumstance."
ECF CEO, to Council 28.4.07

"Good evening. - Good afternoon."
An ECF Council rep 28.4.07, to Council on arriving 15 minutes late

"Entries for the 2007 County Championships are not being taken. Click here for details and to enter."
Leicestershire & Rutland CA website

"Montenegro is now an independent country from Serbia."
ECF website

"Due to spam I have had to change the email address for this tournament."
A congress organiser

From a tournament brochure sent by Kevin Thurlow: -
"As usually, we will attempt to offer... access to the swimming pool.
...Cash prizes will not be divided among the players that have drown."

From the Tunbridge Wells Junior 30.4.06. White has K, Q, R and B against bare K but is making no progress.
White: "Would you like a draw?"
Black: "Er... no, thanks."
White: "Oh, go on, have a draw."
Black: "Oh, all right then."

"Did I thank you for sending me to Luton? No, of course I didn't, you're still standing."
A rep who took someone's proxy at the ECF Council meeting, Luton 22.4.06

"..... Teams of 12, all of whom must be qualified to play for their County, and whose date of birth must be after 1st September 2005"
English Chess Federation (déjà vu division)

"Awaiting details of the competition to see whether we want to enter it."
Mushrooms CC website, Results 2005-6: National Club Rapidplay Championship page

"Players name[d] in blue have already reached the maximum possible score and to increase their score must replace a lower scoring event with a higher scoring event."
ECF Grand Prix: web page

Exmouth's Royal Beacon Seniors (sixty plus) now has a Junior section. Fifty-five plus.

"Penalty points awarded in ratio of board count for defaults above bottom board"
Surrey CCA. We're thinking about it.

BCF Council meeting 23.4.05
Delegate A: "On this point..."
Delegate B: [inarticulate noise suggesting "Here we go again"]
Delegate A: "Oh, shut up!"

"..... Teams of 12, all of whom must be qualified to play for their County, and whose date of birth must be after 1st September 2004"
British Chess Federation

"Bobby Fischer (who still languishes in a Japanese detention centre and was recently given five days solitary due to a dispute over a hard-boiled egg)"
Leonard Barden in the Guardian 12.3.05

"I propose next business, Mr Chairman. He isn't worth the space."
A BCF Director, at the October 2004 Council meeting, on a subject we won't divulge

National Club Championships 2004-5: Entry form
"The Standard Play Finals will take place at venues to be announced on 10th July 2005."

      "Can X play in an U125 event? Our grader says he's graded 134, but that can't be right."
     "Of course he can. The 134 isn't a published grade, it's based on three games. Your grader wants shooting."
     "OK, I'll follow your advice."

"Grading performance (658) not possible - player has a grade of 42."
BCF grading computer

From a County grader:
"There will be no grading of the *********** Congress 2003. The organiser lost the results."

"Can we vote on the first proposal and ignore the amendment?"
A BCF Council delegate

"Any problems, advice please do hesitate to contact me."
Controller, Counties Championships

Christian Herald, 7th February 2004 (acknowledgments RH):
"The Russian Orthodox Church has rejected a request to brand chess as the work of the devil.
     "A young churchgoer had led a campaign and organised a petition claiming chess was the work of the devil. But Archbishop Wikenti from Yekaterinburg told the Itar-Tass news agency: 'Chess is a quiet, intelligent game that encourages people to think. It's not a sin.' He added that 'passionate games and arousing games that cause confusion, anger and irritation' are banned by the Church, including computer games.' He failed to say if this included chess played on a computer."

Proposed: "That the BCF shall in future be known as the English Chess Federation"
Put to the SCCU AGM 11th June, having been previously agreed in principle by the BCF Executive. Carried 23-7 Oh, sorry. 11th June 1977.

"Bugger the Website!"
JA Speigel, August 2003, on learning that the SCCU Bulletin was being reduced to three issues a year because it was only an extract from the Website

"Today's Coulsdon repaidplay..."

From a recent junior event:
Controller: "Are there any other questions, before we start?"
Junior: "Can I borrow a pen?"

Same event, different section:
Controller: "Are there any other questions, before we start?"
Junior: "Do you know how to play chess?"
(Most intelligent Junior question we've heard for ages)

"Total score     18-Jun"
From a match result, received in an Excel spreadsheet. 24 boards.

"Frost, Katie: Gender supplied (MALE)- thanks!"
BCF grading computer

"If you have a rating above 2200 (2000 for women) and have played 24 rated games you qualify for the [(FIDE) Candidate Master] title. If you wish to apply, please send a cheque for £60..."
     From a BCF source

"The final will take place at a venue taking into account the competing teams' locations on the date set."
National Club Handicap Rapidplay rules 2002-3. Well, there is a club called Nomads.

"Also, you will have the great opportunity to play chess and have summer holidays in the sunny Crete, in a luxury five stars hotel. The prizes for the winners are too high."
From an emailed advertisement received 13.8.02

From a recent Megafinal (acknowledgments NB):
Junior: "As I lost my first game, will I be playing someone else who lost their first game?"
Controller: "Yes, that's the way pairings work."
Junior: "Oh cool!! I'll be playing someone from my own school!"

Controller to Junior, in Tonbridge U10 4.5.02: "Why didn't anyone hand the result of your game in?"
Junior: "But you said the winner hands it in, and we drew."
     Collapse of stout Controller. It was round 4, but it was the first draw in the tournament.

"International Title Regulations of FIDE Draft 1
The objects of this revision of the regulations are to:
[ ... ]
make them briefer."
Stewart Reuben 26.4.02. It's 22 sides of A4.

A prep school teacher, in a western Zone of the BCF Schools 2001-2, gave the team's grades as 8, 8, 8, 8, 5 and 5. It was a while before the penny dropped.

"He does the work of two men, but prevents three others from doing theirs."
Said of a certain organiser at the Executive meeting 8.3.02

BCF 28.2.02:
"It was agreed to form a task force/working party on the issue of young chess players ceasing to play chess, as they got older throughout their school career."
     Well, they would, wouldn't they?

A certain match captain is often slow with his results. One arrived this morning, and on the back it said:
     "Both Counties must send the top copy of this form duly completed to the BCF Registration Records Secretary, Paul Buswell, 4 The Close, Norwich, within three days of the date of the match... The Registration Rules and the Championship Rules appear in the BCF Yearbook for 1977-78."

"U.S. Naturist Dave Woltz drove 15,000 miles in the nude last year. The 47 year old did it en route to chess tournaments in the Mid-West and is aiming for 20,000 miles in 2002"
Daily Mirror 4.1.02 (thanks, Marc)

"The Annual General Meeting of the Berkshire Chess Association will continue on Friday 2nd November..."
Berkshire Chess Association

"No serviceable parts included."
Microsoft, on the Website's new mouse.

"170999K  Neatherway, Lauren      Sex: F"
BCF Grading List, August 2001. Actually his name's Laurence. The computer chopped two letters off.

"Mr Tonmai is currently writing a book about chess in Mongolia and lecturing on practical landscape gardening in Great Wittering."
Essex Chronicle 22.6.01, in an article reprinted by Chessex
     We get the impression (a Chessex later) that the chess club this article was about does not exist. Indeed Colin Ramage suggests that the IM's full name, given elsewhere in the article as Laer Tonmai, should be read backwards.

"When Essex played their very first competitive match back in 1898 their opponents, the North London Chess Club, played in alphabetical order."
Chessex for July/August 2001

Chorus girls in a wartime revue at Bletchley Park, from the same Chessex as the above:
We've brains and we've beauty, we work in the Park,
We work in the daytime, we work after dark.
     My chief's a Professor,
     My Don's over forty,
     My dear old Colonel's too old to be naughty.
     In Hut 6 I admit there are young men in plenty,
But their hobby is chess and they're all under twenty.

"Grading Committee: This Committee works so well it is difficult to find anything fresh to report. Its officers at all levels perform an exemplary service and Grading is now one of the 'in' words in British Chess."
Report to BCF Council, 1971

The SCCU President has heard from a hotel having extensive conference facilities and willing to host SCCU events and meetings. It is in Český Krumlov, renaissance and baroque jewel of central Europe and situated only 160 km from Prague.

"KCS v Whitgift: Draw by wrong venue."
Briant Poulter League report

From a recent junior Rapidplay:
"Yes, but I didn't mean to put it on that square. I was holding it like this, while I decided where to put it, and it slipped out of my hand."

Same tournament:
White, who is in check, plays O-O. Black: "That's illegal!" White retracts O-O, and plays O-O-O instead.
     Black: "Does that count as one illegal move, or two?" Two, presumably. It didn't matter, because we weren't applying penalties for illegal moves. We'll have to in July when the rules get explicit.

"What's my average age?"
Team member, Times Schools Championship

"Throughout this short pamphlet... Beasley does succeed in keeping both his readers puzzled and amused."
ChessMoves for March/April 2001

Player amendments
These are changes to a players details, i.e. change of club, name, sex, date of birth etc.

"NB:Your grade may go down as well as up"
Scottish Chess Association

"225178R   Other, AN   *202"
BCF grading master list, September 2000

"Ungraded players were illegible for first prize."
A congress report, January 2001 (acknowledgments LWB)

"Arpad Elo wrote a book on the subject. It is no longer in print, but it may be possible to obtain a copy. Mine was stolen."
Stewart Reuben 22.12.00

At end of a junior competition:
Boy (approaching from behind): "Where's my money?"
Controller: "What?"
Boy: "Sorry, I thought you were my dad."

Player 1 : "What is the penalty for an illegal move?"
Player 2 : "Everyone laughs at you."
Acknowledgments (for above also) Neville B 16.12.00

"Disputes Organizer: Harry Lamb."
From the Manchester & District CA's entry in the BCF Yearbook 2001

"The game is won by the player who has checkmated his opponent's king with a legal move. This immediately ends the game, provided that the move producing the checkmate position was a legal move."
From the FIDE Laws, revised version taking effect 1.7.01. From our copy, anyway.

"Membership fees must be paid to the Treasurer no later than 31st December in any year."
Ilford CC Rules (source JAS via PEW 30.11.00)

"It is well known that no grading scheme gives sensible results for lighthouse keepers."
Mike Gunn 8.9.00

"I'm looking forward to the time when we get the wrong grades published twice a year instead of only once! An up-to-date wrong grade is so much more appealing than an outdated wrong grade."
Jeff Goldberg 18.8.00

"Brain Games Network are delighted to announce that the long-awaited World Chess Championships will be held at The Riverside Studios, London in October - where undisputed World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov..."
Press release received 19.7.00

"David Howell maintained the trend in recent years for up-and-coming youngsters to attract votes by finishing fourth."
- BCF press release 21.6.00

"I was expecting quite a few with nose bleeds, all these southerners coming up north."
From the BCF Council meeting in Manchester 15.4.00

1. The Controller's decision is final.
2. ....
From a congress leaflet.

"Surrey qualify for the Girls Final, and Oxen for the Minor Counties." - Yearbook 2000

Children are marvellous value for oddities. Both-sides-in-check happens all the time, but have you met this variant?
     UK Chess Challenge, local school. "Please sir, we've got a checkmate." So we went and looked, and it was rather a nice checkmate. A smothered one with a knight. Then it emerged that it was the other side that was claiming checkmate. Sure enough, there was a checkmate at the other end of the board as well.

Very small junior, to Arbiter at an EPSCA qualifier:
"I moved it as far as I could reach, then I had to let go of it to push it the rest of the way."

"County Matches Central Venue. Hammersmith Town Hall would be unavailable next year and the Royal Scottish Corporation wants nothing more to do with chess-players because of their untidiness and non-cooperation at clearing-up time."
     - Minutes of Executive Committee, 24th March 1972

"The Meeting broke up in disorder at 17.55 while the President was searching in vain for the bottom half of the Shannon Trophy to present it, together with the top half, to Hampshire."
     - Minutes of Fixtures Meeting, 23rd January 1971: draft item deleted by Council 10.7.71

"It was proposed by Mr Owen, seconded by Mr Lauder, that the Executive Committee be instructed to appoint a sub-committee to consider the admission to the Union of Chess Leagues. Carried nem con."
     - Minutes of SCCU Council, 15th July 1967. A sub-committee was appointed - twice - but we cannot find that it ever reported.

"The secretary said that throughout the season he had experienced difficulty in getting [match] results from County Hon. Secs; and had in fact read of results in papers, periodicals and Bulletins long before receiving them from the Counties. This brought a suggestion that duplicated forms be issued to all County Hon. Secs; for recording County Match scores, a copy of which should be sent immediately after the match to the Union Secretary."
     - Minutes of SCCU Executive Committee, 2nd June 1955. How could it take them till 1955 to think of that? But we still know how he felt sometimes.

The new Holloway Garage site has a Massages page. Nothing in it yet, but we're going back tomorrow.

"Please note that the message board has been removed due to illicit postings by a transsexuals club."
     - from a chess club website. Thanks JS.

"The U100 team was plagued by poor availability and defaults, otherwise would have done much better."
     - from a County newsletter

"X is a very strong player, because he drives." - a County match captain

Anyone happen to know the BCF's code for "Ukraine"?

"I form my own opinions, but I don't let that cloud my judgment."
A delegate at the BCF Council meeting, 25.9.99

New grading list has a CD with it. An informant tell us that it's in a plastic envelope stuck onto the reverse of the last page. That's not unusual, when a book has a CD with it. You lift the flap, and take the CD out. The BCF's envelope is stuck on the wrong way up, with the flap underneath so you can't open it. Not without destroying the last page of your grading list.

Another informant remarks, and the one quoted above confirms, that the list of Standard-Play events graded ends with two events that haven't happened yet. One of them (31st September 1999) probably never will.

"In another match the two players concerned accused one another of making two consecutive moves. To compound the matter there was mention of a pawn falling on the floor and not being immediately replaced. The parties ultimately agreed a draw though there was a 'winner' on the evening."
     From Sussex Chess 1999. Can you think of a plausible way this might have happened?

Why does Paul Watson (same source) call your Webmaster's commentary "occasionally clairvoyant"?

Never noticed, till it appeared on a website. The Surrey CCA have a Rules & Ethics Committee.

Hastings is a chess club with a strong sense of tradition. They have just submitted their games for grading from 1899.

"Mr Lomax is, of course, unique among congress organisers (he is the only one whose car has been in collision with a steamroller)."
     Chess, June 18th 1960. JN Fishlock-Lomax was SCCU Tournament Controller from 1954 to 1965 (and President 1957-58).

An SCCU Trophy was missing, after the AGM at the Marquis of Clanricarde on the 3rd July 1999. It was at the meeting and was not presented, but two days afterwards it suddenly dawned on someone that we hadn't got it. Two senior SCCU officials had had a good look round at the end of the meeting, especially on the bar where the Trophies had been, and there was no way we were leaving anything lying around.
     Ten days later an SCCU Person was in the pub, for reasons of his own. SCCU Person: "We didn't leave a Trophy behind at the end of the meeting, did we?"
     Landlord: "You did, you know. Here it is. I found it on the bar upstairs, in the room you were using, between a couple of beer pumps."
"It does look a bit like a beer pump, doesn't it?"

"If someone would like to propose me I'd very much like to go." - An SCCU volunteer for the BCF Council.

"The BCF Office has recently sent me more than 1,000 e mail reminders in the space of 72 hours." - John Philpott

"All chess information is interesting for me, tournaments, chess classes... things about new rules, things or curses about arbiters, trainers, etc." - an enquiry from Spain.

Maidstone Megafinal. A Controller became aware that White, in a very junior game, was playing a lot of checks. On approaching, he observed that there were five queens on the board, including two upturned white rooks and one upturned black one. Just as he got there, White played another check, using a black queen. Black, seemingly unperturbed, got out of check from his own queen.
     Intervention of puzzled Controller. "Oh, no," White said. "That's a white queen. I ran out of white rooks to turn over, so I used a black one."
     It would spoil this story if we told you the game ended with Black giving stalemate.

At the start of the year, we were promised that a gradings list would appear in January/February. I was looking forward to this, having 2 chances a year to gloat at my increasing grade, in spite of the efforts of the League Secretary to keep it down. Now I hear that the list will only be circulated to graders, and not made public. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE! THE PUBLIC SHOULD BE INFORMED OF THEIR GRADING. The official reason is that the software is late. What a load of hollyhocks!!!!
     The BCF is also pleading poverty. I have a suggestion for the powers that be. Let us send our results in, with our own estimated grading. We do this for the income tax now, so why not the gradings? If we have made a mistake, then let us pay £5 for an extra 5 points, £10 for an extra 10 etc. Just think, £200 gets you a GM rating, England will have 300 GMs and the BCF is better off by 60 grand.
Uncle Harry"
From a (non-SCCU) county magazine

"The number of different [chess] games of 40 moves or less... is rather larger than the estimated number of electrons in the universe, a mere 1079."
     Kevin O'Connell (1997) at Sport & Education: transferability of skills, an in-depth examination of chess.
     My browser's not the culprit, the source html says 1079. It also gives a very funny figure for the actual (estimated) number of games. Seriously, this is a useful round-up of studies on the educational value of chess. It is the handiest ammunition so far to have come out of those Chess-as-a-Sport emails. (If you didn't know, a campaign's afoot to gather hard facts supporting the cause. Keep you posted as more emerges.)
     Later note. It says 1079 now. I'm a lousy typist as well.

"After noting that many Federations were in the habit of not following up on their promises to organise FIDE events, the [FIDE Presidential] Board [13-14 March 1999] directed the FIDE Secretariat to strictly enforce the requirement that all bids for the organisation of FIDE events must be accompanied by deposit fees or financial guarantees, which will be forfeited once the concerned Federation fails to organise the event."
     From a report in Chess Express (Malcolm Pein: email London Chess Centre)
So how about financial guarantees when it's FIDE that pulls out?

"Refreshments by all play all will be on sale." - A congress leaflet. This can't mean "next to the APA section", because there isn't one.

"The agreement and derision reached on the day must stand." - David Sedgwick, BCF Senior Arbiter (OCR version)

Got an email the other day from Cyril Johnson's cat. "A feline walked across the keyboard..."

"Standard Play grades were used in the tournament."
A recent Rapidplay event. Why?

"The Pint-a-Point tournament is an unusual tournament where for each game you win you receive a pint of your chosen beverage, on condition that you drink it before the next game."
Website of Cambridge University CC
[Note 11.2.02. That's a link to the University Club's old address. The current one is in the Links page, but we don't promise the pint-a-point story is still there.]

"The hon. treasurer's statement showed a balance of over £8."
SCCU AGM, 1st July 1905. Beat that, Tony!

"One game split over two games (contains an illegal move!)" - 4NCL PGN downloads.

Speaking of illegal moves... (rjh comment)
I spent some time during a recent club match wondering why I was a rook down. The offending piece came to light sitting neatly upright among the captured (opponent's) pieces in the vicinity of a1, which was the square it ought to have been on. No doubt I had brushed it off the board at some point and, either then or later, absent-mindedly picked it up and placed it where it looked tidy. General mirth, and we put it back on a1. Thought afterwards, since I had a poor position even after the restoration of my rook, that I should have insisted on going back to the position where it was illegally displaced. Neither of us would have had the foggiest idea when that was, so we'd have had to start the game again. The offside rook had not interfered with the play, and we knew perfectly well where it was supposed to be, but I'd have had Rule 7.4 on my side.

"In 1998 there were attempts, mostly well-intentioned I think, to persuade GMCCA to leave the Midlands and affiliate to the Northern Counties Chess Union. Connected with this were moves to resolve the long-standing boundary dispute between GMCCA and Lancashire. Unfortunately, these moves served to re-open old wounds rather than to promote healing. In the event, the idea was decisively rejected at the AGM.
     "The congress scene is fairly flat or in decline. The club scene, with some notable exceptions, is looking moribund. I am frankly amazed that county matches still exist in their present form and wonder for how much longer. The local junior scene has patches of brightness but it is becoming harder and harder for us to compete with the better-resourced South-East, and we could do with some serious attempts to find sponsorship to promote local junior chess activities."
Phil Adams in Checkpoint, newsletter of the GMCCA (Autumn-Winter 1998)

From SCCU Bulletin, November 1976:
"The counties whose teams compete in the Chiltern Competition have accepted a Handicap method of scoring in their team matches, which are played over 20 boards..."
     Mean grades are calculated, ignoring players who lose (or win) by default. Match captains' estimates are used where necessary. Then "At the tea-break, or before half-way through the match, the match captains shall calculate and agree the number of points which each team has to score for the match to be drawn. This should then be announced to the teams. This agreed score shall then be deemed to be the score for the match to be drawn, notwithstanding any errors in the calculations which may subsequently come to light."
     Grading To draw, stronger
     difference team needs
          0 -   1.25    10
     1.25 -   3.75    10½
     3.75 -   6.25    11
     6.25 -   8.75    11½
     8.75 - 11.25    12
     ascending by 2.50 stages until
   23.75 - 26.25    15
Yes, it does say "etc". The Editor, JJ Lauder, observes that a team outgrading its opponents by 48.75 points will need to score 20-0 to draw. (When you get to 51.25 they might as well stay at home.) Match captains may also have found it inconvenient that all the grading-boundaries lie in two different camps. Don't know how many seasons they kept this up.

Heard at a junior event:
"I couldn't remember how to checkmate with a queen, so I pretended it was a rook and mated him that way."

"The home team won in seven of the nine matches in round 1. I am convinced there is a conspiracy to make the pairing difficult for me." - John Leake, National Club U175 Controller 1998-9.
     There was a Nat Club controller once, name rhymed with Leake, who avoided this problem by doing the entire draw before they started. Venues included. If your team was at the top of the list it was home in every match, and if it was at the bottom it was away in every match. Come to think of it, don't they still use this method in the national stage of the Counties Championship?

Recent congress:
"There was an U18 event, but there were no entries."

The same congress had an U14 section run as a six-round Swiss with five players. That beats Whitstable's eight-player six-rounder. They don't say how they overcame the technical difficulties.
     Later: it wasn't true. See "On juniors" in Open Forum.

"Thanks to....  for the loan of a lorry and Driver on Thursday & Sunday."  -  Mega Mela tournament organisers, November 1998

Heard at a London club recently:
"I'd have offered him a draw only he might have accepted."
Thanks IDH, and we won't mention the one about chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.

BCF Counties Championship rules, item 7.1  -
Except in the Final of each Championship, when a central venue may will be nominated by the Director of Home Chess and agreed upon by the Management Board, matches shall be arranged by the Counties concerned.
     Misprint for "may well", obviously.
If you want to know what it's really supposed to say, you could try asking Cyril Johnson. He has recently revised the rules. To save you the bother we've asked him, and it's "will". Can't say whether this has priority over the version circulated by accident.
     Later note: Cyril has removed this typing mistake, and possibly one or two others, for the website's Rules Section. Our version is his official one, and more up to date than the one you got in September/October.

Spot the error
Grading Conversion Table
         BCF x 8 + 600 = Elo
          Elo - 600 ¸ 8 = BCF
BCF Diary 1999

Thought that would grab your attention. Neil Clifton, in the October 1998 Newsletter of the Surrey Girls Chess League, says: "I am trying to get the BCF to agree to gender-discrimination in the [grading] list, for example by using '14F' in the age column rather than just '14'."
     Gender's a grammatical term and it has nothing to do with sex, but clearly he means sex. This Website goes ape if you say gender when you mean sex. (Which is, of course, a sure sign that gender does now mean sex.) Having prised itself off the ceiling the Website is not sure it agrees with him anyway.

Since we're on the subject, have you ever wondered about those 4NCL people?
"In each match a team must comprise eight players including one male and one female player." - 4NCL Rules, with effect from 1st December 1998

Oh dear. Just got the BCF's instructions on grading submissions, and there's a GENDER field.

Neil has made his point in ChessMoves as well.  Anyone running a book on when ChessMoves will have some news on its front page?  [Cancel that. Dec/Jan issue has.]

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