Jon Speelman's Agony Column #11

by ChessBase
7/20/2016 – In today's column English Grandmaster Jon Speelman presents two fine games played by amateurs - the "ecstasy" - while reserving the "agony" for himself. Whereas the two amateurs showed a good eye for tactics and a fine sense of attack the grandmaster demonstrated how difficult tactics can be - and how difficult it is to win a won game, no matter, how strong you are.

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Agony Column #11

The intended format of this column is normally a pair of games by a single player, one of which he or she is delighted with, the other very much the reverse. Sometimes I've only been sent  a single game or indeed a pair or more of which one stands out. And this week, for a change,  comprises  a couple of these stragglers.

First though, a small piece of "Agony" I recently subjected myself to. It comes from the last round of the world senior team championship near Dresden where my team England I got the Bronze medal behind Germany I and Armenia. Every one of our team got a board prize of one sort or another but I made every effort to avoid doing so.


We continue with a very nice tactical defence by Tarit Mitra who is  a business analysis consultant in Washington DC and sent a splendid photo of himself being "viciously attacked by parrots". As he himself says, he "played actively through high school and college, and this was one of two wins I recorded against masters." (JS: a US master that is - not an IM).

Attacked by parrots...


Luciano Castro, who is from Rio, is 44 and married with three children. A maths teacher he is one of the coaches of the  Brazilian Team on the IMO - International Mathematical Olympiad. He learnt chess from his father-in-law about 1992 and played from time to time but has only been a member of a chess club for three years which makes this nice attacking game all the more impressive.  (He did send me am "Agony" too but since the blunder at the end is quite horrible I'm ignoring it.) Apart from chess he also likes surfing.

Luciano Castro



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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