Jon Speelman: Agony Column #5

by ChessBase
6/8/2016 – Computer engines generate thousands and hundreds of thousands moves per second. The majority of these moves are utter nonsense but the sheer numbers help the machine to play strong chess. The move-generator of the human mind is less well-tuned and much more limited but also finds remarkable moves. As Jon Speelman illustrates in his Agony Colum #5.

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Agony Column #5 June 8th 2016

This week's pair of games come from a player at the higher end of my spectrum: Frank Van Tellingen who is rated in the 2200s. A thirty-eight-year-old German teacher who lives in The Hague. Mr Van Tellingen studied German and Philosophy, venerates Misha Tal and Wittgenstein, enjoys playing the guitar, is married and has two young children.

After playing a game, it's normal nowadays to use a chess engine to check it. The important thing is not to follow the great silicon guru slavishly – though of course if it uncovers something huge you can't deny it – but to test the ideas you had during the game, or at least as much as you can remember.

Mr Van Tellingen has done this very well, quite rightly not taking too much notice of what Fritz has to say and I've incorporated a number of his original notes marked as FVT.

We start with Agony, in which he got a decent position from the opening, drifted somewhat, ended up worse but fighting after a melee, and then suddenly had a hallucination which turned a probably defensible position into one where he was a queen down!


In his second "Ecstatic " game Mr Van Tellingen played extremely well positionally though I have at some points had issue with his "move generator" which wasn't firing on all cylinders in all the variations he calculated.



About the author

Jon was born in 1956 and became a professional player in 1977 after graduating from Worcester College Oxford where he read mathematics. He became an IM in 1977 a GM in 1980 and was a member of the English Olympic team from 1980-2006. Three times British Champion he played twice in the Candidates reaching the semi-final (of what was then a knockout series of matches) in 1989 when he lost 4.5 - 3.5 to Jan Timman. He's twice been a second at the world championship for Nigel Short and then Viswanathan Anand against Garry Kasparov in London 1993 and New York 1995. He's written for the Observer (weekly) since 1993 and The Independent since 1998. With its closure (going online, but without Jon on board) he's expanding online activity and is also now offering online tuition. He likes puzzles especially (cryptic) crosswords and killer sudokus. If you'd like to contact Jon, then please write to

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