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9. Oktober 2001

King Pin? More!

Hurray! The new Kingpin has arrived, England’s most funny and entertaining chess magazine and the best I know. I discovered it at a minor congress where some copies lay around. At home I realized what a treasure I had in my hands. I couldn’t stop laughing. Until then I didn’t even realize that chess can be really funny, apart from William Hartston’s (A Brit he is also! What a surprise!) fine book "How to cheat at chess”. So, I immediately subscribed and also accepted the generous offer to have all the remaining issues for a reasonable price. Now I’m the proud owner of nearly all issues from number 14 (1988) on, and I am in a desperate search for all the rest. Besides, it is interesting to see how things have developed since then, how the little 30-paged magazine, containing the odd analysis, became a splendidly made booklet of 70 pages, but also escalated from £ 1.40 to the present £ 4 product. It has expanded in every sense, but it’s definitely worth the cost. None of the issues has disappointed. Already the name is meaningful: not only does Kingpin mean to pin the king which is nonsense, but it refers to the classic Chinese erotic novel Kin Pin Meh. But don’t worry, one has not to expect primitive erotic as it is often seen in some German papers – erotic in the mostly prudish Albion is no theme really – but expect a lot of verbal erotic. Even if it comes hard sometimes, in the end there is always the freeing laugh. Sure, the subjects and jokes are often very British and therefore not always to our taste. Unforgettable is Stuart Conquest’s brilliant article "The Prizegiving” for anyone who has witnessed such a strange occasion in England. Conquest is a highly gifted writer, but I’ve never spotted anyone here who is not gifted (German papers like "Europa Rochade” are packed with boring and poor articles).

Why, one has to ask, is there clearly no one among the German Grandmasters who is capable of doing the same, no one who has the wit, the linguistic gift, the self irony and the spirit to do something comparable (only the quiet Robert Hübner seems to be the exception)? And nearly everyone who is anyone in chess writes for this still largely unknown quarterly: Jim Plaskett, Chris Ward, Malcolm Pein, Michael Basman, Graham Burgess, John Emms, Nigel Davis, Tony Kosten, Cathy Forbes, Aaron Summerscale, John Nunn… to name just a few. All do it in a way worth reading. He’s got it in his blood, the Englishman, the Scotsman, the Irish and Welsh or is it in the language? But even international stars are writing for the mag: Edward Winter, Shaun Taulbut, Eduard Gufeld, Yasser Seirawan - and sometimes on a philosophical level.

One of the highlights is "Gary Lane’s Agony Column”, in which the popular IM answers (probably) self invented reader’s letters with verve and mockery. Besides the "Hack Attack”, an opening column for the somehow unusual player, there is traditionally an interview with some of the stars of the scene: Pia Cramling, Peter Swidler, Bent Larsen, Michael Adams are examples.

He who is not writing for Kingpin is a major target, above all the illustrious figure of Raymond Keene – England’s first GM, as he describes himself – and who nowadays is active behind the scenes. But also Nigel Short with his sometimes staggering pronouncements and who has left the country is a popular target; and that Kasparov is another one can be no surprise.

It’s not only about fun. There is a lot of serious and interesting material to find on the theory and history of the game: analyses, congress reports, opening theory, excellent book reviews, and interviews – the whole spectrum. I have always found Chris Ravilous articles highly enlightening.

So, if you want it and can afford it, don’t miss the next issue and look it up on the website:

The subscription costs £ 14 and it’s worth a thought to consider ordering the whole stock for a further £ 20.

There is only one complaint: punctuality! One sometimes has to wait a little longer than a quarter of a year. At least they can learn one thing from us Germans…


Copyright © 2002 by Christian Hörr