Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

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Stephen Ormerod
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Stephen Ormerod » Thu Aug 09, 2012 6:54 am

Rock star Bono from U2....looks like he was seriously into chess at one point. Now HE should be approached to be ECF honorary president

From a U2 website

11. Was Bono really a great chess player as a kid?

It's apparently true. There are many references in various books about Bono and U2 to the fact that Bono "excelled" at chess as a youngster. Here's a quote from 1987 where Bono talks about his interest in chess: "I never knew what I wanted to be. One day I'd wake up and want to be a chess player -- the best. I'd read a book on it, and at twelve I studied the grandmasters, and I was fascinated."

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JustinHorton
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Aug 09, 2012 8:38 am

Stephen Ormerod wrote:There are many references in various books
None of which are actually cited, let alone any games.
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Ian Kingston
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:25 am

A little Googling finds this conversation from 1984 between Bono and Bob Dylan:

http://www.interferenza.com/bcs/interw/84-jul8.htm
Bono: Chess, do you play chess?

Dylan: Yeah, I play chess. Are you a chess player?

Bono: I am a chess player.

Dylan: I'm not that good actually.

Bono: I'll challenge you to a game of chess.

Dylan: I don't have it right now actually, I just don't have one on me, but the next time you see me!

Bono: Oh, you can get these little ones you know, that you can carry around.

Dylan: Yeah, I take them on tour all the time, but nobody in the band will play me.

Bono: Really?

Dylan: Yeah, they say it's an ego trip. They say I want to win, I don't want to win, I just like to play.

...

Bono: What's your opening game?

Dylan: My opening game, you mean king's pawn up two - and all that? I don't know.

Bono: You just takes it as it comes.

Dylan: Yeah. I don't really play that seriously.

Bono: Well, I thought I did until I played Adam's brother Sebastian - he was only about 13 years old and he beat me!

Dylan: Somebody may have a chess game here.

Bono: I'd love to play.

searching for a chess board ... enter Van Morrison
So Bono and Bob Dylan both play. 'Adam' is almost certainly Bono's band mate Adam Clayton (Wikipedia confirms that he has a brother named Sebastian).

And there's this, from U2 at the End of the World by Bill Flanagan (http://yanko.lib.ru/books/music/u2-book ... c517423370). (For clarity, Bono's real name is Paul Hewson.)
Lately the newspapers have been carrying stories of McGuinness purchasing for Bono at a charity auction a match with Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov. The reports all explain that Bono was a child chess prodigy. One even quoted Bono as saying, "I reckon I have a good shot at beating him." Now, aside from its value as another example of the inability of some newspapers to spot a tongue in a cheek, there is some historic basis for claims of Bono's chess-playing skill. He's told me that as a kid he was crazy about the game, and at a young age he beat the local chess teacher to the wonder of all. He always downplayed this enthusiasm because chess is so un—rock & roll. Later this was a source of common ground with Bob Dylan, who had hidden his bishops under a basket for the same reason. I asked Mr. Hewson to tell me about young Bono's gift for chess.

"I think that's been blown up," he says with a tolerant smile. "The press got it and blew it up. I taught him how to play chess, though I haven't played in donkeys' years now. He did join a chess club and he won a couple of medals. He beat the chairman of the club and I think in order to maintain the chairman's reputation he more or less exaggerated Paul's prowess." We both start laughing and Mr. Hewson adds, "I think that's the real story!" (Bono once pointed out that the fact that he was a child in a club full of adults would not impress his father one bit: if Paul won the chess contest it must mean the fella he played against was no good.)
It seems that Bono didn't play Kasparov (http://u2_interviews.tripod.com/id70.html):
Marcus: Can he beat you in chess, Axl Rose?

Bono: I've not played Axl in chess, no.

Marcus: Have you played the one that begins with K and ends with V yet? I always get Kasparov and Karpov mixed up.

Bono: Kasparov. Yeah yeah, y'know I played him just a couple of weeks ago, it was a close thing. (laughs)

Marcus: Was it pretty tense? Did you think this is the big one? No did you really play him?

Bono: It was a close thing. No I haven't played him yet, no.

Marcus: But you have a voucher that entitles you to play him.

Bono: That's it, it was given to me as a birthday present, you're quite right.
It sounds as though Bono was an enthusiastic junior, but it's hard to say more.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:30 am

Dylan.

I would want convincing of Bono's medals, and what they actually meant. Rock 'n' roll anecdotes are not always worth a great deal.
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Ian Kingston
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:52 am

JustinHorton wrote:Dylan.

I would want convincing of Bono's medals, and what they actually meant. Rock 'n' roll anecdotes are not always worth a great deal.
Quite. I'll ask Bono about it next time he pops round for tea.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:57 am

Fair enough, but it occurs to me that Bono having been as famous as he has for as long as he has, some actual facts on this one might have been established by now.
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James Pratt
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by James Pratt » Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:59 am

Alexander was known as Charlie on occasion.
Michael Foot's biographer was son of DJ Morgan, the Q&Q man in BCM for many years. 'A Life: Michael Foot' by Kenneth O Morgan (Harper Perennial 2007).

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JustinHorton
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:02 am

James Pratt wrote:. 'A Life: Michael Foot'
I think it's Michael Foot: A Life despite them putting the second phrase above the first on the cover. (Check the title page.)
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Ian Kingston
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Ian Kingston » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:01 am

JustinHorton wrote:I would want convincing of Bono's medals, and what they actually meant. Rock 'n' roll anecdotes are not always worth a great deal.
Of course. I was hinting that the only way to find out for sure would be to ask Bono in person.

I would guess that for Bono (and many other touring musicians) casual games of chess are a good way of whiling away long hours on the tour bus. If anyone here owns a copy of an album by Peter Hammill called The Margin they'll see a photo of Hammill doing just that (bottom of the page). Modern bands probably play computer games instead. In the absence of any real evidence I would put most tales of rockers playing chess in that category.

Since I've mentioned Peter Hammill, there is other evidence of his interest in the game. His first solo album was called Fool's Mate and his band Van der Graaf Generator recorded an album called Pawn Hearts. There are also a few lines in a song, 'In the End':
No more rushing around, no more travelling chess;
I guess I'd better sit down, you know I do need the rest....
Yes, it's time to resign with equanimity and placidity
from the game.
But there's better evidence than this. If you go to http://www.vandergraafgenerator.co.uk/peter.htm and scroll down about halfway (to 'Peter Hammill plays chess with Bert Van de Kamp for OOR magazine in 1977', you'll find scans of three pages from a Dutch music paper which include a complete game between Hammill and his interviewer. I've included a couple of Google-translated comments by the players.



I would say that the standard is below 100 ECF. I've seen similar levels of skill in the bottom division of league chess.

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JustinHorton
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:41 am

Ian Kingston wrote:I would guess that for Bono (and many other touring musicians) casual games of chess are a good way of whiling away long hours on the tour bus. If anyone here owns a copy of an album by Peter Hammill called The Margin they'll see a photo of Hammill doing just that (bottom of the page). Modern bands probably play computer games instead. In the absence of any real evidence I would put most tales of rockers playing chess in that category.
Sure. I'm reminded that there's a story of various Beatles learning to play chess to while away the time on, if I recall rightly, the set of Magical Mystery Tour.
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Kevin Thurlow
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Kevin Thurlow » Thu Aug 09, 2012 12:23 pm

Sir John Simon (every senior cabinet post except PM) was an enthusiast, http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/simon.html
and he said that H Asquith played. That isn't mentioned in either of the Bonar Law biographies I've read, and they were contemporaries, although not exactly friends.
I'm told Stephen Hawking played years ago. I did read that Princes William and Harry both played when they visited a shelter for homeless people.
Obviously I've no idea how good any of these were.
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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:07 pm

Edward Winter has written quite extensively about Simon. I suspect that he might be the subject of one of EGW's articles on the Chess Notes site.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

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JustinHorton
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by JustinHorton » Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:27 pm

Er....
"Do you play chess?"
"Yes, but I prefer a game with a better chance of cheating."

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Matt Mackenzie
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Matt Mackenzie » Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:06 pm

JustinHorton wrote:Er....

Ah, yes. Oh dear :oops: :mrgreen:

Anyway, to return to Kevin's post which I should have read properly the first time - I do believe that QEII herself has at least confirmed that she knows the rules.
"Set up your attacks so that when the fire is out, it isn't out!" (H N Pillsbury)

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Gareth Harley-Yeo
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Re: Famous amateurs and FIDE ratings

Post by Gareth Harley-Yeo » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:01 pm

Sian Lloyd (weathergirl) & Lembit Opik (LibDem MP) are former patrons of the Welsh Chess Union and enthusiastic amateurs.

I've also heard that Holly Willoughby has admitted on more than one occasion on This Morning to being a big fan of the game :!:

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