A new chess board

Our dad gave us a chess set when we were kids. Somehow my brother got the board and I got the pieces. Several decades later I’ve belatedly treated myself to a new board to replace the crappy, cardboardy thing I got from who-knows-where. The new board even has the letters and numbers to assist me when I’m following the games of the grandmasters – cool!

Son, next time you’re over from Berlin, we must have a rematch!

[Note to self: Next time I take a picture of a chess board, ensure the pieces are lined up properly in their squares…]

Painting kite flying

After my last painting I wrote that it was my final artwork until I’d worked through some of “Acrylics for the Absolute Beginners, by Charles Evans”. Well that hasn’t happened – I’ve never been very good at RTFM.

So here’s me at work, the laptop casting Steely Dan to the speakers, the iPad showing the photo I’m attempting to approximate, and the work in progress. Below is the finished painting. I confess that I’ve digitally brightened the image as my painting was, shall I say, subdued. I’m reasonably happy with it.

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

The Box Hill kite curse

What a great walk up Box Hill with the family and the kites, followed by a splendid lunch at the Grumpy Mole in Brockham.

Sadly the curse of Box Hill and kites has repeated, and following on from the lost kite on our last visit, this time I managed to lose one of the kite struts on our way back to the car. Yet another kite bites the dust.

My chess opponent is called Noam

I’ve begun playing chess again. I learnt as a child and then played friendly games against a work colleague in my twenties and early thirties, but nothing since. I know the rules, some basic principles, but I’ve always been lazy when it comes to studying openings and beyond. But I’m not stupid and I don’t mind losing, two necessary qualities to enjoying playing chess or in fact any game.

I don’t know anyone who is interested in playing chess so I’ve searched the web and found a website, chess.com. It allows me to play humans or a computer, and my instinct is to play against a computer. On chess.com you can chose the level you want to play at, and after trying a fairly low level computer opponent (it made deliberate, silly mistakes – no thanks!) I’ve jumped into the deep end and gone for a computer opponent far beyond my chess skills. That way I’ll hopefully learn more and quicker. So far I’ve slipped up really early in the games and chosen to resign the games rather than waste my time in hopeless positions. I don’t play a continuous game but instead play a move when I feel like it and after due consideration.

My opponent on chess.com is called Noam and is described as “a veteran player who can tell you stories about his clashes with stars of the past. In the present, he plays very solidly, so be prepared for a long fight.” I have zero expectation of ever beating “Noam”, but I’m hoping to learn a lot, fast.

So far I’ve tried playing on my mobile phone but I think the small screen has made it too easy to make silly mistakes so I’m going to try using the phone app in combination with my old chess set. See the screenshots below for the current game – I’m already in trouble…..

A life of games

Childhood

I was mad on playing football as a young kid. I considered myself a star dribbler in the junior school playground. At senior school I once played matches for the junior, middle and senior teams, all in the same week.

I even had a trial to get into the Southampton schoolboys team (was it Southampton West or East? – I can’t remember). I was rubbish on that day and my football playing days came to an end when Saturday matches clashed with doing a Saturday job.

That’s me, with the ball

College days

At college I played an awful lot of bridge. I fondly recall playing well into the early morning with only a break around 11pm, to re-energise with chicken and chips from the chippy around the corner. Once we tried playing in the evening in a pub but some grumpy sod complained and that was cut short. Oh happy, wasted days!

In my last year at college I discovered badminton. I remember beating the class instructor in my very first game. My interest in badminton was to continue for many decades.

Twenties

During my first career job I took up chess, having learnt to play at a young age. I still have my first chess pieces, which were a present from my dad. I played at work during the lunch break on a rather nice portable set that I treated myself to. Games stretched over several days and me and my colleague would sometimes play over the phone (each with our own board). I somehow accumulated two more sets, presents I think, so a total of 4 of sets which I still have, though I haven’t played for many, many years. I’m hoping that I may be able to interest one of the little ones in the near future.

I also played a bit of badminton, in church halls with low ceilings.

Thirties & beyond

After a bit of a gap I eventually resumed playing badminton. For a couple of years I was hooked on playing singles against a much younger work colleague. For a long time he was unable to beat me, but given the closeness of the games it was inevitable that eventually he would. From then on the games were pretty evenly matched and the spoils shared.

I began playing mixed doubles with work colleagues, and this was to continue for some considerable time. My time as a badminton player came to end when for the second time in two years I tore something at the back of my leg (first the right then the left). The experience was so painful and distressing that I decided I didn’t want a repeat of this injury.

Regrets

I wish I had put more of an effort into playing tennis and also table tennis. I’ve played a little, and I love these games. I’m clearly a missile-over-the-net person!

I’ve been to a football match

I can’t remember the last time I went to a football match – possibly a Premiership match at Fulham, 10 or more years ago. On a whim I decided today to go watch my local team, Sutton United (newly promoted into League 2 of the Football League) play a home match against faraway Carlisle. Sutton went on to win 4-0. It wasn’t a bad game but it was a great result. The picture below was taken after one of the goals.

I once went to a match with my dad. This was after he had separated from my mum. I can’t remember the actual teams but I think it was two of Corby, Kettering or Northampton. My dad lived in Corby. Today, my more-than-grown-up son who lives in Berlin messaged me in response to my messages re today’s match that “I would also like to go sometime!!!”. Back in 1989 (I had to look that date up) Sutton beat Coventry in a famous third-round FA Cup match, only to be slaughtered 8-0 in the following away match against Norwich. Me and my son went to both matches and if I remember correctly he was distraught by the drubbing in this fourth-round match. That was probably the last time I went to a match with my son. It would be nice to do it again, son.

It was interesting being at today’s match. There’s a lot of booting the ball forward and far more heading of the ball than I would consider healthy. The supporters at the match were predominantly male, middle-aged or older, bearded. Mums and dads came with their kids but most kids seemed disinterested in the match. I can’t believe how long people will queue for burger and chips, even during play. The players seemed to be more gentlemanly that players in the top divisions, which I appreciated. I’ll go again.

The NotAnArtist resurfaces

It’s been over a month since I last had out my acrylics and it was probably about the same time that I last sent cards of my paintings to the two little ones. So here are two more efforts by yours truly, NotAnArtist.

I’m very aware that I’m not really progressing, despite have bought or been given some cheap art books such as How to Draw Anything, Acrylics in 10 Steps, Painting With Watercolours, Oils & Acrylics, Read This If You Want To Be Great At Painting, and finally, How to Draw Anything. The trouble is I have no discipline and I’m, and have always been, a lousy learner. I’m not sure what the answer is….

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

2 paintings in one day!

The kids sent me a WhatsApp image taken from their trip to the seaside and I tried to paint something similar. Here is my effort. That was done in the morning and in the afternoon I decided to carry on and came up with a second work. The subject wasn’t quite what I intended- let’s just say it evolved into what it is!

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

Father’s Day

Father’s Day this year passed off without seeing my daughter and with seeing my son off at the airport on his way back to Berlin. My daughter usually gives me a card like this year’s card and always manages to write warm words about how wonderful a dad I am. Thank you, kid. On the way to the airport I reminded my son that it was Father’s Day. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad”, he said! Ever since he’s been living in Berlin he hasn’t been doing cards – birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day. That’s OK, son…..

Several decades ago I made a decision that Mother/Father’s Day cards were a marketing thing by the card industry and that I would stop sending a card to my mother. I seem to recall this didn’t go down well with my mum and I reverted to going with the flow in subsequent years.

Not David Hockney

I have a copy of a David Hockney painting, “Red pots in the garden”. My latest project as not an artist was to paint it – see below for Hockney’s original. I’m OK with my effort and I enjoyed doing it. You can see my development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

In the style of David Hockney
Red pots in the garden, by David Hockney