The Stanley Random Chess Files

The Dignity of Stanley Random Chess Analysis

Earning Respect and Increasing Solemnity

In this article, GM Topov makes a case for enhancing the respect for and solemnity of SR Chess and its analysis.

Greater Respect

Sadly, in view of the Great SR Chess Purge, Stanley Random Chess lacks much of the respect and honor it deserves as the original form of chess, and a greatly superior form of the game. What can be done to increase respect for Stanley Random Chess? No other form of chess has as much history and cultural flavour associated with it as SRC does, and as a result SR Chess is in an elite category of its own. This is only strengthened by the fact that it pre-dates the "common" form of chess played today, an honor that no other chess variant can boast. One can expect volumes of discussion about SRC aside from game commentary, because there is so much history and legend to explore. This expectation is not true of any other form of chess played in the world today.

One only needs to consider the monumental works of surviving literature on SR Chess. For example, I have a 800 page work merely about the art of SRC distraction by the great Italian GM Georgio Busini entitled "SR Chess Distraction for Beginners: Introduction and History," a subject which in itself stimulates extensive discussion. Just last week I attended a week long convention on that subject alone, and that only covered the 18th century! To get an idea of how much there is to talk about regarding SRC, consider also some of the other resources available: There's GM Volga Sharpinksi's "Exhaustive Pictorial Encyclopedia of Russian SR Chess: An Random Adventure of Memorable Stanley Moments" - an incomparable resource consisting of a mere seventeen volumes. And then there are more specialized works like "Test Cricket's Silent Debt: The Influence of 19th Century Stanley Random Chess on Modern Cricket" by Ian Botham.

I think you get the idea. No other form of chess would be able to produce more than a few chapters on the subject with respect to their version of the game. Since the end of the Great SR Chess Purge with the Great Enlightenment, the rich treasure of SR Chess is again being discovered. As Irish GM Neil O'Pollo was quoted as saying when he promoted an eleventh pawn in the 1969 German Open, "A small step for a pawn, a giant leap for mein kindt" (sadly and often misattributed to some astronaut engaged in a lunar mission around the same time). Much work, however, remains.

Greater Solemnity

Analysing SR Chess games is a highly developed art of pseudo-scholarship. It would be good for the SR Chess community to establish some guidelines that could function to set the contours for appropriate and legitimate scholarship, to preserve and maintain the very highest standards for game commentary and analysis.

In one of his Sherlock Holmes stories, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle noted that "Excellence at chess is one mark of the scheming mind." Since the same can be said of SR Chess analysis, the remarks of the late Dorothy L. Sayers about Sherlockian scholarship are highly relevant. In a 1932 letter she spoke about "the determined seriousness and majestic parade of scholarship with which it plays the game. It's no fun unless it is played with deadly earnestness."

Sayers continued in that belief, and in the introduction to her Unpopular Opinions (1946) wrote: "The game of applying the methods of the 'Higher Criticism' to the Sherlock Holmes canon was begun, many years ago, by Monsignor Ronald Knox ... Since then, the thing has become a hobby among a select set of jesters here and in America. The rule of the game is that it must be played as solemnly as a county cricket match at Lord's: the slightest touch of extravagance or burlesque ruins the atmosphere."

I'm sure that if Sayers was alive today, she would be an ardent enthusiast of SR Chess. At any rate, it is my belief that many of these same principles are equally valid for SR Chess scholarship and analysis. Although SR Chess scholarship does allow room for some notions of the absurd and fantastic, these must always be cloaked within the dressing of deadly seriousness, and retain the solemnity of a Lords Test Match commentary.

SR Chess GM Gregory Topov

Posted Tuesday - 2006-04-04 - 12:07:25 EST
by Staff Reporter Verdra H. Ciretop in Toronto
All Rights Unreserved - Loof Lirpa Publishing
Text may be freely copied & redistributed

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