snooker+chess for beginners=steve davis

Apr 22, 2011, 5:22 PM |

 If you're in the UK, you may well be aware that the Snooker World Championships are taking place at the moment. If you're not in the UK and you're not British, you might be wondering why anyone would care; you might well be wondering this even if you are British and in the UK. Either way you'll definitely be wondering what this has to do with chess. Well, for one thing, as Barry Hearne, British snooker controller mogul, recently said, snooker can be like 'chess with balls'. (Yes, another chess analogy!) But the real link is legendary snooker player and BBC pundit, Steve Davis, who is, or was, an avid chess player; he was even chairman of the British Chess Federation for a brief time. I came across a book that he wrote in the 90s where he studied chess with British grandmaster, David Norwood.

  The book's great for beginners who want to learn more because Steve himself is a beginner trying to get better. The pages are full of his trademark self-deprecating humour as he grinds away on the chessboard under the watchful eye of his mentor David Norwood. It's refreshing to read a chess book by someone who finds chess as difficult as you do and as Norwood teaches him, Steve asks all the questions you would. Norwood's speciality was the modern system which is based around the unconventional opening of either: 1. g3 as white or 1…g6 as black. The idea behind this system is that having control of the centre can actually be a hindrance later on in the game. I don't really grasp why, not having studied it closely. In the book Steve adopts this opening and enters a local chess tournament. Below is one of the games he played in this tournament. I think it's instructive. It shows that opening theory's all very well but be careful! And watch out for tactics! Also, check out the wonderfully congested position Steve gets himself into after move 12. I thought it was funny. As funny as a chess position can be.



I tried to contact Steve to ask him for a correspondence chess match but he didn't get back to me. Steve, if you're out there in land, how about it? Get in touch. I'm not weird.