C.C. How We Did Things In The Old Days.

C.C. How We Did Things In The Old Days.

Feb 22, 2018, 11:22 AM |

A Long, Long Time Ago ( well, that just split my readers in 2 - half of whom are now humming 'American Pie' to themselves) The world was a strange and innocent place. If you wanted to drive somewhere, you bought a map to work out where you were going. No one ever went anywhere without change for the phone box ( yes , my American friends, those big red things) in case of emergency. A 'Home Computer' was a flat greeny coloured thing made by Amiga - you could by a half meg memory upgrade the size of a chocolate bar - Cadbury's was English then - for a weeks wages. In the words of Kurt Angel 'Oh It's True!!'

Back in that strange mystical world, I used to play correspondence chess. It was often called postal chess, because the moves went around the world by post. In a window envelope. I could tell you how much it cost to send a letter to pretty much anywhere in the world.

My c.c. essentials are in the header picture. Working 'unsocial hours', as I always have, left me a couple of hours before the kids came home from school. I would retire to a quiet corner of my local pub, with my portable chess set, an A4 notepad,a pen, a couple of big blue Correspondence Chess scorebooks, and at least 20 cigarettes, and settle down with a pint or two of Irish intellect stimulant. 

Apart from team events, I played purely for the enjoyment of it. Knowing that I was never going to be anywhere near as good as the wonderful players I have spent so many hours studying, I was totally unconcerned about things like ratings and rankings.

The great thing for me was the many wonderful friendships that I made with people all around the World. Well, the moves to the games would  always be accompanied by a letter of friendly chit-chat.

One particular opponent invited me and my children over to  stay with him on holiday. He was a terrific player - top board for his country in the iccf Olympiad. One afternoon we all went out to a big play park. While the kids were off running around we sat down with my portable set and clock to play some blitz. Soon we had gathered a crowd of young 'chess fans'. One young lad asked us which one of us was the best player. Simultaneously we pointed at each other and said 'HIM!!' Another youngster came up and put an illegal move on the board, saying 'What about this?' I smiled, and said; 'Interesting!! I hadn't thought of that!!', and off he went, very pleased with himself!grin.png.

In one international Team Tournament I was playing a wonderful gentleman from Sweden. In one of our letters - it is staggering how many people around the world can converse in English - I mentioned that if he ever came across a copy of Collijn's larobok ( a famous chess book, of which I had never even seen a copy for sale) I would be very grateful if he could put a small deposit on it and let me know - I would pay whatever the asking price, plus postage etc. O.K. At the end of our game, a small box arrived by recorded delivery. Opening it I found an immaculate, two volume edition of the 1903 Larobok, with a name embossed on the covers in gold leaf, and a note.

' Thank you for an enjoyable game and your friendship. The book was presented to my father as his prize for winning a tournament in 1906. Plese do not send me any money for it. I am getting old, and my children are not so interested in chess. I know that you will look after it and cherish it as I have. Bengt.'

Wow! To give such a thing to someone that you have never met. I am still moved and humbled every time I see the box on my bookshelves. Don't worry mate, I am looking after it.

So I had better introduce you to a couple of games! I have added some notes to show how I did things in the old days. I hope  you enjoy them.