Monday 11 September 2017

Giving Something Back

Giving Something Back
David Hardy
220+ pages

David is both my friend and CSC work colleague; my counterpart in Manchester. I have a good idea of how hard he works to promote chess in schools and clubs. He has given far more to chess than he could ever take, yet he is still driven by the need to give something back.

David's new book is an autobiographical games collection marked by two distinct features: honest writing and highly combative chess games. 

'What I have attempted to do is select games that will highlight what it is like to be an ordinary club player and give fellow club players some food for thought about how they might win that odd extra half or full point.'

It is immediately apparent when reading the introduction that the author's approach is justified.

Within these 22 pages David tells the story of his introduction to chess during the weekend of the 1966 World Cup final and his subsequent drifting in and out of the 64-squared world until finally taking up competitive chess at the age of 20.

The over-the board battles - augmented by the occasional offering from the world of correspondence chess - define the hurly-burly world of club chess.

The 64 illustrative games (with a plethora of further examples in the detailed notes) certainly do fit the bill. Sharp openings represent the order of the day and fans of the Vienna Game, French Winnower, Open Sicilians and the King's Indian Defence will definitely find plenty of interest here.

A selection of colour photos shows David enjoying chess in various locations, from Paul Morphy's house to beaches; from the London Chess Classic to the Manchester Gigafinal.

With David at the 2017 Manchester Gigafinal
David includes various episodes revealing the quirky nature of some club players, naming names when it comes to opponents who walk out of the room, never to return, instead of resigning in conventional fashion; giving short shrift to one opponent who turned up at the board and made the mistake of asking for David's name ('I suggested to him that I had taken the trouble to find out who I was playing so I recommended that he do the same'); the tale of the sore loser who questions David's grading in an attempt to explain his loss.  Anyone with experience of club chess will recognise these type of characters and many more.

The illustrative games show the ebb and flow of club and tournament chess, where smooth victories are rarely to be found as there will always be errors, either large or small, to turn around the fortunes of the players. Most of the games clearly demonstrate the sheer fight and frustration we all encounter and experience virtually every time we sit down at the board.

That all leaves plenty of scope for wonderful tactical knockouts, such as the following.

Hardy vs. Coe
Manchester League 1994
This sparkler didn't even make it into the main 64 games, but was given in the notes to another game. 

It is White to play. Can you see how David forced a fine checkmate?

There is a definite gap in the market for books really aimed at club players and we could do with a lot more like this, which provides genuine instruction and inspiration to players of the sub-master level.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this entertaining book (club and tournament players, parents, lawyers of David's opponents...) should connect with David via the Ashton Community Chess Club page on Facebook.

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