Not long ago I published an article entitled ‘On Preparation’. Essentially, this was an attempt to explain what preparation means in chess terms, and (had you read it) you could be forgiven for thinking it was intended solely for the initiated. Strictly speaking, this is not so, but certainly much of its terminology would sound rather obscure to readers less familiar with our ancient game; what does 1. e4 mean, for instance?

To answer this question, I refer you to the diagram above. As you can see, each square on the chessboard is represented by a letter and a number…


Photo by Toni Reed (licenced byUnsplash)

This article focuses on the approach of chess specialists, as well as some of the psychological and creative elements of the game. This is a general view only, as a more comprehensive guide would exceed the scope of this work.

We could simplify chess as a game of ‘you go here, and I go there.’ A broader knowledge of the game’s intricacies, its nuances and subtleties, reveal something more complex, however. And many serious players believe they are doing something cosmic (or, at the very least, scholarly): in every position there is, as it were, a mystery/problem to be solved.


Artwork by Paul Hamilton

In examining the traditions of Christianity in Britain, it is interesting to note that several of its churches were constructed on top of sites previously dedicated to Pagan gods. Canterbury, for instance, was formerly home to a temple built in honour of Jupiter. In terms of material culture, then, it is clear that the early church fathers understood the powerful effects that such monuments exerted on the religious imagination. And as evidenced by David Morgan, in an article entitled The Construction of Material Culture, these effects are just as profound today as they were to our distant forebears:

“As a…


Jesus paced up and down the platform, where he’d been waiting anxiously for a further announcement of his train’s arrival; it was scheduled for 9:36 p.m but was already delayed by twenty-minutes. He’d promised God he’d be back home in good time for their fish supper, and his anxiety wasn’t helped by the stare of a couple of police officers who had taken a special interest in him: Granted, outside of the Bronze Age it was unusual to see a dark-skinned man barefoot and dressed in little more than a loincloth. And the briefcase he was carrying only added to the officers’ interest. Indeed, Jesus thought, what would they make of the sheer volume of pure alcohol that threatened to bust the case’s buckles?

Finally, they approached. “Good evening sir,” said one of them, inquisitively, “Forgive the imposition but we’d like to have a look in your briefcase.” “Is that really necessary?” replied Jesus, “I really must get back to Heaven, my father is in a terrible state and he might just have me crucified again if I’m late.” The officers chuckled, and one of them responded: “So, you have a messiah complex? … Can you show us some I.D.?” More laughter … “Look,” said Jesus, “I don’t expect you to believe me but I really am the Messiah! And if you promise to leave me in peace, I’ll let you in on a secret: our father, who art in heaven, is an alcoholic!”


My Love

There is beauty in the world, and I need look no further than you for proof. You have soul and sensitivity, too, and that’s why I love you :)

You are mindful, caring, conscientious, sweet and loving, and every day I am thankful that you’re in my life. I cannot tell you how wonderful it feels to have someone who I feel safe around, to feel that my vulnerabilities are accepted and will not be abused. …


My dearest Danni,

You know now, unmistakeably, my heart’s desire for the love of a good woman and a good woman to love. Love is something the heart has made welcome, and you are that woman. Thankyou a thousand times.

I love your vulnerability, your transparency, and how you don’t pretend to be anyone other than you are. And, accepting me in equal measure, then— for what on God’s great earth could I possibly ask?

I love your eyes — wow, those fucking eyes!—and the way they drift into seas of emotion only to return to mine. …


What an intriguiging article!

Writing as something of a grammarian pedant, I took the liberty of highlighting Amy's appetite for kittens; that's an acquired taste, for sure! To my mind, the first "and" in this sentence is redundant, whereas in the second instance its usage sounds appropriate.

The funny thing about a lot of arguments is that they invite dualistic - i.e. "either/or" - thinking. Obviously this is the nature of arguments. However, it's often the case that both parties are right, not that one party is wrong and the other is right.

You may have noticed that, like your dear selves, I'm also a colon explorer :)


The Ditchley Portrait

The Ditchley Portrait, painted in 1592 by Marcus Gheeraerts The Younger, was commissioned by, and produced for, Sir Henry Lee. Lee was the Queen’s Champion from 1559–90. Ditchley, near Oxfordshire, was also the residence of Lee, where in an effort to reconcile certain contradictions that had arisen between himself and Elizabeth he proffered a performance of elaborate displays of homage to her. The Ditchley Portrait was one such token of his esteem which also served to commemorate the event.

As though to acknowledge her champion’s devotion, the portrait sees Elizabeth standing on the county of Oxford. However, Gheeraert’s portrayal constitutes…


Image licenced by Pixabel

It has long been the quest of philosophers to find some noble truth by which we could live by and thereby realise happiness. And, as evidenced by their numerous expositions, all knowledge depends upon the question asked.

Recently I came across an intriguing question posed by Plato, the pivotal figure of western philosophy. His question was: “How can happiness dwell when continual becoming and never being are the sole form of existence?”

Initially, I responded to this as a pessimist; “Indeed,” I thought, “what’s the point of even pursuing happiness when all it seems to do is elude me?” …


The late comedian George Carlin (1937–2008) once posed an intriguing question: “Do we really have our own words?” Since we all share the same culturally sanctioned dictionary, isn’t our vocabulary “available for hire” as it were? Yes, no, maybe?

In any case, certain statements have echoed down the ages. And even more recent observations will no doubt continue to impress upon our imagination as we pursue the frontiers of understanding.

Largely for my own amusement, I have compiled a list of my favourite quotes. And, just for good measure, included is a sketch from the inimitable George Carlin himself :)

Ian James Grant

Aries; chess enthusiast/teacher; agent of consciousness. Words belong to those who use them, only till someone else steals them back!

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