Lecture Course

Historical knowledge and information regarding our great game.
Paul McKeown
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Lecture Course

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 20, 2014 3:09 am

Hi, I have been approached by City Lit, Covent Garden, to give a series of course on chess in the summer and later in the 2014-15 academic year.

One of the courses will deal with historical/literary aspects of chess, rather than more technical issues. It isn't yet clear to me how many lectures are intended in this historical/literary course, I suspect that it will be one seminar of two hours duration, one hour of lecture, one hour of audience participation. It is also not yet clear to me how general or how chess oriented the audience is intended to be for this course. I will provide more information as it becomes available.

However, it would help me greatly, if London and South East based players would give an indication as to whether or not such a course would be of interest, and if so some idea of the sort of aspects of chess culture they might like to hear discussed.

A few thoughts that I have had are:
a) the early history of chess from the Arab conquest of Persia until the Spanish reconquest, with particular emphasis on the canon of mansubat (problems)
b) Philidor, composer of music and chess, his lasting legacy
c) the 1927 World Championship match between Capablanca and Alekhine, a titanic struggle
d) chess in 20th century literature

Colin S Crouch
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Colin S Crouch » Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:17 am

Greetings night-owls!

For a course on chess history and literature, based in Covent Garden, surely there is only one possible answer!
Just around the corner, La Bourdonnas and McDonnell battled for 85 epic games there, in 1834. Not surprisingly, they both ended up in wrecks, and each died young.
Many of the games were, by modern standards dreadful, but at its best showed remarkable inventiveness. Staunton, Andessn, Morphy and many others, were enthralled and inspired by this ground-breaking event. The origins of modern chess started there!

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Joey Stewart
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Joey Stewart » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:06 am

Paul McKeown wrote:Hi, I have been approached by City Lit, Covent Garden, to give a series of course on chess in the summer and later in the 2014-15 academic year.

Why did they approach you?
Lose one queen and it is a disaster, Lose 1000 queens and it is just a statistic.

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MJMcCready
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by MJMcCready » Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:39 am

Could you provide more details please. You say you were approached. I am assuming that you are suitably qualified to lecture on the history of chess, MA, Ph.d? Are you going to provide a course outline with stated sources in advance?

Paul McKeown
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:07 am

@MJMcCready

I'm none of those things, merely a strong club player with an interest in the subject. The lecture course is not intended to be a formal academic exercise. City Lit will publish a summary course outline, both in its printed prospectus and online to allow people to decide whether the course is of interest to them. I would endeavour to publish something more detailed closer to the time providing a bibliography, amongst other things. I think, as a start, you can anticipate reference to HJR Murray to feature.

@Joey Stewart

City Lit approached Chess in Schools in the first instance. Of the people that showed an interest, Julian Way and I were eventually shortlisted. We will give courses for beginners and, novices, having learned the rules, who seek to understand the rudiments of playing well and to learn a little about the culture of the game. (Later, in 2014/15, there may be courses seeking to help those seeking to develop further.) There will also be a course this summer dealing in the cultural aspects of chess, because I suggested that during the process of applying to carry out the lectures.

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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:09 am

Hi, Colin,

La Bourdonnais and McDonnell, that's just a perfect suggestion, thanks. Would you be interested in attending, if the date and time were suitable?

Regards,
Paul

John Upham
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by John Upham » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:09 am

Paul,

All the best with this venture: I only wish I could attend!

No doubt someone will enquire as to what grading / rating is required to have expertise on anything to do with chess :lol:

Also, Is it possible to be an expert on something without having a formal qualification for that subject? - hopefully most of us know the answer to that...

Doubtless some will expect you to provide this service gratis or, indeed, pay for the privilige yourself!

Good luck!
Last edited by John Upham on Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Paul McKeown
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Paul McKeown » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:12 am

Thanks, John, for your wishes, and your supportive observation.

[I note that Dr. Colin Crouch and Dr. John Upham, both of high academic distinction, were immediately supportive of the idea...]

Brendan O'Gorman
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Brendan O'Gorman » Mon Jan 20, 2014 10:41 am

Paul,

I like the suggested possibility of focusing on a famous match. The more the lectures were about the actual games or the developments they represented in the theory of chess, the more interested I'd be in attending. (I appreciate that there may be some tension between attracting a more general audience and chess obsessives like me).

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Christopher Kreuzer
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Christopher Kreuzer » Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:01 pm

Do you have any idea what sort of time of day or day of the week this would be likely to take place? When I Googled Cit Lit, I got "Part-time adult education, evening classes" and "evenings, daytimes or weekends."

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:30 pm

Brendan O'Gorman wrote:Paul,

I like the suggested possibility of focusing on a famous match. The more the lectures were about the actual games or the developments they represented in the theory of chess, the more interested I'd be in attending. (I appreciate that there may be some tension between attracting a more general audience and chess obsessives like me).
Yes, and Fischer v Spassky also has obvious historical aspects to it. Some twelve years ago, the Guardian nominated it as the most significant (?) sporting event ever.

I don't understand some of the above posters, by the way. Do people think that the world is awash with PhDs in the history of chess and that the hundreds of academically qualified candidates all applied for this job too? Good luck, Paul!

Stewart Reuben
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Stewart Reuben » Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:45 pm

Paul I wish you all the best with your course. But I won't wish you, good luck. You shouldn't need that.
Two things puzzle me in your outline.
a) the early history of chess from the Arab conquest of Persia.
Why ignore the first 3 centuries starting in 6th century India?
Why not go up to the present day? The new World Champion may have a very significant effect.

I suggest you also consider the future. My expectation is that people will be able to have computers built into their body with direct input to the brain this century. Will that mean the end of competitive chess?

Jonathan Rogers
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Jonathan Rogers » Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:05 pm

Stewart Reuben wrote:Paul I wish you all the best with your course. But I won't wish you, good luck. You shouldn't need that.
Eh, you should always wait to see the students first ...

John McKenna
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by John McKenna » Mon Jan 20, 2014 2:43 pm

I'd be willing to stay away for a small consideration if Paul wants it to remain exclusive...

Seriously now - I welcome this and would be interested in all the topics mentioned so far.

As usual, though, the question is whether the subject itself should be treated from the point of view of the whole spectrum or people's favourite colours? Emanuel Lasker was of the opinion that in a game of chess one should combine the long view, by searching for a win/mate, and the short, by finding the concomitant next move. If Paul follows Stewart's outline he would have to deal with the infrared - ancient Indian chaturanga - and the ultraviolet - the future of modern chess. These extremes are not easy to discern but their existence should be at least touched on in a wider presentation of the subject.

On the other hand, concentrating on only a few particular regions of the spectrum - such as the 1834 and 1972 matches for example - risks losing the interest of members of the general public, who might attend, if the mechanics of the games is discussed in detail . It seems to me that if the long and the short view could be judiciously combined in a way that even a layperson could follow for most of the time then Paul would be continuing in the manner to which his chess students have probably become accustomed.

I wish Paul success - whatever he decides to present.
To find a for(u)m that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now. (Samuel Beckett)

Colin S Crouch
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Re: Lecture Course

Post by Colin S Crouch » Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:07 pm

Paul,

I look forward to it.

My own inclination would be to concentrate on one event in depth, the great 1834 match, particularly if it is both a local event, and the start of modern world chess history. There is a vast amount of material to be uncovered, both in terms of the chess itself, and the broader aspects of the history of the time. I am happy to discuss things, relaxed in depth, maybe at the Plough, or somewhere closer to the original venue. Or, if we are cheapskates, maybe Harrow or Hayes.
I have played through all the games myself, and I have made a few very small inroad into the history itself.
Above all, I thoroughly dislike the lazy assumption, made my many chess writers, that there was no interesting chess between the days of Philidor and Anderssen, with perhaps a brief mention to Staunton.

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