Memorabilia Corner 3 (1991-2004)

1. After the 5th game of the Kasparov-Kramnik World Championship match (Oct 2000) at the Riverside Studios in London it was made clear by the organisers that no autographs were possible from the two Ks. However during the question and answer session GM Danny King and GM Yuri Averbakh were but a few feet away so I took the risk of stepping over the barrier.....

In the foyer next to the playing room commentators and organisers wandered about so the autographs of GM Julian Hodgson, and FM and book author, Eric Schiller were also obtained.

(A report on this game with observations of the players, conditions and game notes can be found in the archive section of this site).

2. Photographs of my Correspondence Chess International Master certificate and medal (ICCF conference, Rimini, Italy, Sept. 2001)

3. A few moments of Chess fame (October 2002).

4. Some of the well over 100 trophies collected over 30 years of competitive chess which after they reached " forest" proportions have now been "spruced up" and returned to chess organisers for "re-cycling" rather than gather more dust (June 2003).

5. My BCF Regional Master certificate signed by Ged Walsh and John Robinson (Sept 2003).

6. Meeting Garry Kasparov in London (June 3, 2004).

Chess and Bridge Ltd (London) the well-know centre for chess goods of all descriptions organised a book signing session by Garry following the publication of the second volume of the series " My Great Predecessors" and this was appealingly advertised in the magazine "Chess" which I have subscribed to for over 35 years.

I travelled down to London by train for this event and remarkably, despite the repairs on the line needing part of the journey to be carried out by coach, arrived some 40 minutes before the predicted time. This was just as well since following a 10 minute walk from Euston Station to the Chess and Bridge I found myself about number 15 in the queue outside the shop. Within just a few minutes the line of people had extended as far as the eye could see and disappeared around the corner. The presence of many press photographers was readily noted. There was much activity with pictures of the queue being taken at regular intervals and of some famous players and organisers who were let into the shop as the crowd waited outside. The front group in the queue received especial attention and in fact came from Columbia. It was clear there were many nationalities present, for example, the person behind me coming from Chile. Whether these people were on holiday in London or had come specially is not known. Certainly a group of German couples were on holiday when they passed the shop and noticed the poster publicising Kasparovs visit. In very voluminous tomes the name "Kasparov!" was exclaimed and whatever plans had been made were quickly scrapped as they made off to join the end of the queue. Standing in the queue was an ideal situation for mobile phone technology and various call tunes were heard every few seconds. "Outsiders"  to the event were kept informed of every miniscule detail even to the level of "Yes the crowd has moved (a whole 2 feet...). I myself rang my son Paul, who was in the south of London, and persuaded him to come to the event but by the time he arrived the queue was massive so he never did get into the shop.

Garry actually arrived some time after he was expected since an unknowledgeable taxi driver has deposited him in Euston Street and not Euston Road.

Malcolm Pein (pictured left) had to explain , in jovial manner, to the crowd about the delay and then he shot off to collect Garry (pictured right during the signing session). Indeed Malcolm was an excellent "host" during the day and kept things moving along with many witty comments and snippets of information to keep the crows occupied. Once let into the shop there was the expected rush to obtain one or both volumes of "My Great Predecessors" or the DVD "Game Over-Kasparov and the machine". The mountain of books and DVDs reduced rapidly and had to be restocked in just a few minutes from other piles held elsewhere in the shop.

Once "armoured" with the material for signing the crowd snaked very slowly toward Garry who had now arrived and was being photographed by an army of press people. Reactions in the crowd were quite interesting as many people felt obliged to ensure everything was just so with their appearance and demeanour. Digital cameras and camcorders were everywhere and there was much sudden negotiation as people neared Garry along the lines of if  I take your photo then you take mine. It was noted Garry made a real effort with everyone, especially the young players, and each person received quite a few minutes of his time.

Before joining the book signing queue people had had to fill in a form for what phrases Garry has to write in the book. I had used the phrase "Correspondence Chess" as part of mine. It was quite a tense moment when I left the crowd and took the few steps towards Garry and indicated that I had 3 things to sign. These were volumes 1 and 2 of his book and I also explained with my son being stuck in the crowd would it be possible for him to sign the free copy of the magazine "Chess" that each of the days participants had been given. He listened to all this with great patience and agreed and some general chess conversation took place. Suddenly without warning a scowl appeared on his face and he asked  "How do you know you are not just playing a computer in correspondence chess?" I started to explain that I just tried to use grey matter but again he exclaimed in a loud voice exactly the same question. He then called out to Malcolm Pein who was stood nearby (and is of course an expert of Chessbase and Fritz) "How does Mike Donnelly know if he is not just playing a computer!". Malcolm quickly dissipated any possible tension in the situation by saying "Ah Yes Mike Donnelly he buys everything in the shop" and then went on to explain  some correspondence players do and some don't use computers. This seemed to satisfy Garry and allowed me to further explain that I used a triple checking procedure to try and ensure analysis of a particular position was as error free as possible. I did explain this was in fact very hard work, which Malcolm supportingly agreed, and so did Garry in saying "that is good". However, I began to wondering if Garry was thinking along the lines of how come correspondence players seem able deal with Fritz et all but some world class players cannot. With the signing and discussion completed, I thanked him and offered to shake his hand which he did warmly but it was obvious he was still, in part, musing over the discussion (this actual moment in caught on camera and appeared on the Chess and Bridge web site on 9 July 2004).

Once complete various helpers ensured that participants went outside the rear of the shop and not back into the shop. There  one was guided to the Smugglers Tavern which was situated just a few yards down the road. This pub had been completely taken over by chess players and dozens of boards and clocks were set up for friendly games and for the later planned blitz tournament. I had intended to play in this but the crowds were so extensive time was short before I had to get the planned train back to Coventry . Instead I met up with my son and over a drink discussed the days events.

There was just time to nip back to the front of the shop being let in in front of the large crowds which had now regathered to attend Garry's lecture of some new analysis of games in his new books. Fulfilling Malcolm's comments about numerous purchases a few (a hum) books were bought and the front door was unlocked and we were shown out  just as the crowds were being let back in again.

As if to make up for the unusual early arrival of the train to London the journey back took some 2 hours longer than normal. Also looking at the pictures of myself and Garry on my digital camera it was obvious something had gone wrong with almost all of them and they were well out of focus. However, these problems certainly did not, as I browsed through my signed volumes (see front page of my copy of volume 2 of MGP picture to the left), spoil a very memorable day.