The Cinderella man of chess

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Martin Crichton
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The Cinderella man of chess

Post by Martin Crichton » Wed Nov 05, 2014 8:14 am

Every sport has its Cinderella man and 2014 proved to be the year for the Cinderella man of chess , England's journeyman grandmaster Keith Arkell.
One of the most active Grandmasters on the UK circuit Keith's performance for several years now has been solid but unspectacular and his rating has been significantly below the Grandmaster threshold of 2500 but 2014 has been the best year of his chess career to date.
Most chess players peak between the ages of 32 and 36 but Keith is in his mid fifties! Earlier this year Keith won the European over 50's championship and this week he has finished equal first in the world over 50's championship. Despite the fact that he was seeded well down the field Keith put in a performance the belied his years to beat the odds and prove his doubters wrong.
Well done Keith amazing performances. Looking forward to the release of your book... Champion of the ages.
Last edited by Martin Crichton on Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mick Norris
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Mick Norris » Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:36 pm

Keith has written an excellent book, suggest you read that

You can then see when looking at his games why he plays g4 (g5 as black) in positions where most of us wouldn't :wink:

I would suggest that writing the book put back his chess strength for a couple of years, but now he is back to form, so I would rather he didn't write another book (yet)
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Nigel Short
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Nigel Short » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:07 pm

I hate to strike a discordant note on what was otherwise a superb performance by Keith, but why, in the last round, did he abandon all winning attempts, in a safe position, with a slight edge, against a significantly lower-rated player? When else is he going to get a better chance to win a World Championship? Alas, as one other England team member, who had also been willing Keith to victory, said "it is disappointing, but not at all surprising".
If offered this splendid result, way above his relatively modest Elo, before the start of the tournament, I am sure Keith, or almost anyone else in his shoes, would have grabbed it with both hands. But having done all that hard work and also rode his luck a little, the golden opportunity was there for the taking. I am not saying Keith would have definitely won had he continued, but there was no significant risk and the upside was way higher than the downside. I would love to see Keith challenging for the World Championship title, year-in year-out, but sometimes life only gives you one shot at glory. And I am sorry, but you have to go for it...

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:15 pm

If we are going to strike discordant notes, it would be interesting to hear people's views on whether John Nunn and Mark Hebden should have done better than they did. Were they out-prepared or outplayed by their opponents? I'd love to hear Nunn's thoughts on what must have been a baptism of fire in his return to competitive OTB chess. Hopefully he will write about it somewhere at some point.

Martin Crichton
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Martin Crichton » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:24 pm

Mick Norris wrote:Keith has written an excellent book, suggest you read that

You can then see when looking at his games why he plays g4 (g5 as black) in positions where most of us wouldn't :wink:

I would suggest that writing the book put back his chess strength for a couple of years, but now he is back to form, so I would rather he didn't write another book (yet)
Mick ..it was a figure of speech... I didn't think anyone would interpret it literally but you have proved me wrong ;)
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David Sedgwick
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by David Sedgwick » Wed Nov 05, 2014 1:44 pm

Nigel Short wrote:I hate to strike a discordant note on what was otherwise a superb performance by Keith, but why, in the last round, did he abandon all winning attempts, in a safe position, with a slight edge, against a significantly lower-rated player? When else is he going to get a better chance to win a World Championship? Alas, as one other England team member, who had also been willing Keith to victory, said "it is disappointing, but not at all surprising".
If offered this splendid result, way above his relatively modest Elo, before the start of the tournament, I am sure Keith, or almost anyone else in his shoes, would have grabbed it with both hands. But having done all that hard work and also rode his luck a little, the golden opportunity was there for the taking. I am not saying Keith would have definitely won had he continued, but there was no significant risk and the upside was way higher than the downside. I would love to see Keith challenging for the World Championship title, year-in year-out, but sometimes life only gives you one shot at glory. And I am sorry, but you have to go for it...
Nigel, Keith has already answered that point on this very forum. He ran out of energy and simply felt unable to continue playing.

http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... &start=180 and http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... &start=195.

Nigel Short
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Nigel Short » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:03 pm

Enough said...

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:05 pm

The direct links to Keith's posts are:

http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... 95#p148434
http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php ... 80#p148401

(you click on the link after 'Post subject' to get those URLs)

I just discovered a way to view recent posts by someone (from the user control panel):

Keith Arkell: http://www.ecforum.org.uk/search.php?au ... 1&sr=posts
Nigel Short: http://www.ecforum.org.uk/search.php?au ... 2&sr=posts
David Sedgwick: http://www.ecforum.org.uk/search.php?au ... 6&sr=posts

Heh, David has author id number 36. Carl Hibbard is number 3. 'Administrator' is number 2. I'll leave everyone to look up who has the author id '1' (presumably due to the apostrophe business).

Leonard Barden
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Leonard Barden » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:15 pm

The final position in Arkell v Barle really looks quite equal (Stockfish +0.08) so White would have to take risks in playing for the full point. That's hazardous if the pieces are starting to swim before your eyes ('it was all getting a bit blurry').

Also at that moment when Sturua had already agreed a draw the tie-break position was completely unclear and could have gone either way. So if Keith had played on, overpressed or blundered, and then found after the game that he had the better tie-break (which could have happened with a couple of marginal results elsewhere ending differently) he would have suffered for the rest of his life.

Barle ('significantly lower-rated player') had already drawn with Sturua; in his peak years he beat some very strong GMs including Gligoric and Lubo, so no mug.

Nigel's argument would be generally valid, but I don't find it convincing applied to the actual situation yesterday.

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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Roger de Coverly » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:34 pm

Christopher Kreuzer wrote: I'll leave everyone to look up who has the author id '1' (presumably due to the apostrophe business).
Id 1 is "all deleted ids", over 600 pages worth.

Keith Arkell
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Keith Arkell » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:35 pm

Nigel Short wrote:why, in the last round, did he abandon all winning attempts, in a safe position, with a slight edge, against a significantly lower-rated player?
Hello Nigel,
I explained, in the thread on the Championship, why I offered a draw ( having declined one on move 19). It is difficult to describe how exhausted I was unless you have experienced it yourself. I listed 13 very strong opponents I have played in the last few weeks ( including your good self!) not to brag, but to give people some idea of how punch drunk I was by the end. I gave everything, every ounce of determination and energy in that previous game against Sveshnikov, and then, yes, finally got lucky. Had I not looked across and seen Mark Hebden losing to Sturua I would never have played ...g5??! ( the normal...Nf8 is fine, of course) but somehow I spiralled into Simon Williams mode, knowing I had to win at all costs, and tried to bamboozle him.

There were , then, two factors involved in my draw offer: 1) The board was quite literally blurring in front of my eyes, and 2) perhaps more importantly even than that, I ( wrongly as it turned out) believed that key the tie-break (sum of opponent's scores) was going in my favour. We began the last round neck and neck in the first 2 tiebreaks, but when I offered the draw two of Sturua's 4 unique opponents had drawn ( Sheverley and Furman), whereas Madeira ( one of mine) had already won. Furthermore, Terry Chapman was White against his 3rd unique opponent, and he was a big favourite as the guy was only rated 1949.
Nigel Short wrote: "it is disappointing, but not at all surprising"


I'm not sure what you mean by this comment. If you are referring to quick draws I had against Joe Gallagher and Peter Heine Nielsen, settling for 2nd place rather than fighting for first, at the British Championship and Hastings Premier, more than a decade ago, in the days when I used to suffer from panic-attacks, then I explained in my autobiography, which I believe you have a copy of, how I then didn't play again in the British for 7 years because I was so angry at myself. I also explained how, when I did return, in the 2008 Championship at Liverpool, my attitude had completely changed, I was free from the panic-attacks and I was no longer psychologically afraid of big games. I think I have proved that by eg Jointly winning that English title, and winning the Euro 50+ this year.
Nigel Short wrote: If offered this splendid result, way above his relatively modest Elo, before the start of the tournament, I am sure Keith, or almost anyone else in his shoes, would have grabbed it with both hands. I would love to see Keith challenging for the World Championship title, year-in year-out, but sometimes life only gives you one shot at glory. And I am sorry, but you have to go for it...


I am doing something about my modest ELO Nigel, but I won't say more about that except let my results do the talking now that my chess mojo is at full throttle. I packed my suit, , and came here for one purpose and that was to win, just as I did for the Euro Championship in Porto in March. I even tactlessly said as much to Terry Chapman in front of John Nunn, early on. I hope to be challenging for both titles for many years to come, though I understand that my chances will be diminished if you enter :x

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Wed Nov 05, 2014 2:50 pm

Roger de Coverly wrote:
Christopher Kreuzer wrote: I'll leave everyone to look up who has the author id '1' (presumably due to the apostrophe business).
Id 1 is "all deleted ids", over 600 pages worth.
Oh, oops! :shock: (I just saw Brendan's name at the top and assumed it was the apostrophe problem, never even looked at the number of pages). Bit of a shock to find the 'deleted' posts hiding in plain view. Anyway, back to Nigel and Keith (I very much liked Keith's restrained yet forceful response).

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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by NickFaulks » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:17 pm

Keith, there's only one person here who doesn't think you did brilliantly ( and even if that's how he feels, what purpose is served by saying it? ). Just ignore him, most people have learned that's the best way.

Martin Crichton
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Martin Crichton » Wed Nov 05, 2014 3:59 pm

Nigel Short wrote:I hate to strike a discordant note on what was otherwise a superb performance by Keith......
hmm easy to criticise from the armchair but whilst on the topic....in 93 when you had your chance against Gary... you only woke up in the second half of the match when it was all over and of little consequence (To Gary) so I suppose you are at least qualified to criticise however unpopular it may be with 99.99% of the chess readers here :)
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Eric Gardiner
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Re: The Cinderalla man of chess

Post by Eric Gardiner » Wed Nov 05, 2014 4:02 pm

Congratulations Keith - hope you have many more achievements in the 'senior' half of your career! I've played you once back in 2001 and I recall how you kindly went through the game with me afterwards without talking down to me. Little things like that can make a difference to amateur players and if you do write any more books I promise to buy them (I own a copy of Arkell's Odyssey) ! Mastering the Quickplay Finish maybe :D ?

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