Monday, 28 March 2016

WCBCSC move completed

I am happy to say that I have just completed moving all the WCBCSC (Winton Capital British Chess Solving Championship) content from my website to that of the BCPS. In recent years this has included lots of photographs of solvers and controllers at the finals. This has been a lot of work and I am relieved that it is now over. I have removed the WCBCSC content from my website, but retained the menu item for it, which now links to the BCPS site. All this material does not yet comprise a full archive of the competition. I have several years yet to add from my own archive as director, but there are many years where such records don't exist and these years will need to be researched. I will add to the archive as time permits. Complete or not, it will form a useful source of practice material for budding chess solvers.

I have also been continuing to migrate material to my new website from the existing one and producing new content for it too. This is another of those long jobs and I am not sure how long it will take. In the next few days I shall be preparing material ready for the BCPS Residential weekend in Nottingham - a solving tourney and a fairy composing tourney.

I am sorry that I didn't prepare another weekly BBC radio drama preview. I was just too busy with other things. However, I don't rule out doing further previews in the future.

Friday, 18 March 2016

BBC Radio Drama preview, Saturday 19th March, 2016 - Friday, 25th March, 2016

It’s been a few years since I last sat down and prepared a radio drama preview for the coming week. I got too busy with other things, but I have more time now so I have decided to start up again. I don’t know how regular this will be, but I will at least make a start this week.

Saturday, 19th March

Radio 4

The Saturday afternoon drama at 14:30 is The Massacre at Glencoe, by Adrian Bean, produced and directed by Bruce Young. The cast includes Tamara Kennedy, John Buick, Brian Pettifer, Jordan Young, Matthew Zajac, Paul Young, Martin McBride, Julie Duncanson, Iain Robertson, Anne Lacey and Stewart Campbell. I have a vague memory of listening to this when it was first broadcast in 2014. It was gritty and engaging, if I remember correctly.

In the evening, there is part 2 of Sylvia‘s Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell, adapted by Ellen Dryden and produced and directed by Pauline Harris. There is a cast of Barbara Flynn, Jodie Comer, Graeme Hawley, Siobhan Finneran, Paul Copley, Jonathan Keeble, Nichola Burley and Verity Henry. I haven’t been listening to this, so can’t provide a comment other than the hope that with such a cast, the result will be worth listening to.

Radio 4 Extra

The offering at 13:00, Charlotte Bronte in Babylon looks intriguing. All I can glean from the website it that it stars Samantha Power, as the cast list there is clearly completely wrong. That same erroneous cast list has been attached to several Radio 4 Extra dramas recently. An investigation of the Radio 4 online schedule from this week reveals that the writer is Charlotte Cory, the producer is Susan Roberts and the director is Charlotte Riches. Apart from the aforementioned Samantha Power, Claire Brown, Ben Lamb and Robert Pickavance are in the cast. With all those Charlottes involved one hopes that it is a suitable tribute to its subject.

Yet another Charlotte provides the entertainment at 14:15. It’s called The Diva in Me and is by Charlotte Jones. It is directed by Claire Grove and features Philippa Stanton, Stuart McLoughlin, Sally Orrock, Daniel Rabin, Joanna Monro and Brian Bowles in the cast. This looks to be something rather special.

At 16:00 there is Dario Fo’s classic Accidental Death of an Anarchist. This adaptation by Jeremy Hardy stars Adrian Edmondson, Jennify Saunders, Jill Gascoine, Stephen Frost and Mark Steel. The producer is Turan Ali. How can you resist such a cast?

Finally there is the latest episode in the current series of radio adaptations of The Twilight Zone, this one starring Stan Freburg. This one is called ‘Static’ and it is about a man who hates television and loves radio, so you just have to listen!

Sunday 20th March

Radio 4

The new Classic Serial at 15:00 is The Magus by John Fowles. This is the first of 3 parts, adapted by Adrian Hodges and produced and directed by Heather Larmour. There is a strong cast headed by Charles Dance, with Hayley Atwell, Anna Skellern, Josie Taylor, David Seddon, Chris Pavlo and Lynsey-Anne Moffat. I read the novel back in the 1970s and couldn’t put it down, so shall be expecting a lot from this adaptation.

Radio 4 Extra

Paul Copley appears for the second time this weekend at 13:00 in Once More with Feeling. This is written by Kieran Prendiville and is produced and directed by Clive Brill. Appearing with Mr Copley are Belinda Everett, Blue Merrick, Christian Rodska, Harry Hepple, Rob Hudson, Brogan West, James Baxter, Joan Walker and Kieran Prendiville himself.

At 16:00 there is The Campden Wonder by Richard Derrington and Roger Hume. It stars Peter Jeffrey.

The last drama offering this weekend on Radio 4 Extra is Here Am I Where Are You? by Sheila Hodgson, the 7th Dimension’s spooky drama. It stars David March as MR James, with Lockwood West also in the cast.

Radio 3

The weekend drama ends on Radio 3 with a fantasy called The Striker, written by Caryl Churchill, produced by Sue Roberts and directed by Sarah Frankcam. This sounds exciting and I shall be sure to be listening. Maxine Peake heads a cast that includes Danusia Samal and Laura Elsworthy.

Weekday series and serials

Radio 4

The Woman's Hour Drama serial this week running from Monday to Friday and continuing next week is Hollywood Endings by Ron Hutchinson, produced by Eoin O'Callaghan The cast includes Kathleen Turner, Nathan Osgood, Laurel Lefkow, Eric Loren, Patrick Bailey, Colin Stinton, Barbara Barnes and Amaka Okafor. You have two opportunities each day to listen to this: it is first broadcast at 10:45 and repeated at 19:45.

Radio 4 Extra

On Monday and Tuesday there is a 2-part adaptation of Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, directed by Viv Beeby and Jeremy How. This is first broadcast each day and 10:00 and then repeated at 15:00. The cast includes Tim McInnerny, Niamh Cusack, and Sunny Leworthy. In the same slot from Wednesday to Thursday are the repeats from Radio 4 of the last series of Home Front.

In the Crime and Thriller slot at 13:00, repeated 20:00 from Monday to Wednesday are the last three episodes of Paul Temple and the Gilbert Case by Francis Durbridge, featuring Peter Coke and Marjorie Westbury. On Wednesday, carry on listening after the end of the final episode for a lovely interview with Peter Coke, repeated from 2005. In the same slot on Thursday and Friday Kathleen Turner stars in the first two episodes of Deadlock by Sarah Paretsky. This serial is dramatised my Michelene Wandor.

In the 18:00 slot the reading by Angus McInnes of I am Legend continues all week. This classic science fiction novel by Richard Matheson is a gripping listen.

Monday 21st March

These 45-minutes weekday dramas are on daily at 14:15 on Radio 4 and at 11:15, repeated at 21:15 on Radio 4 Extra.

Radio 4

Monday's Afternoon Drama is Bowen and Betjeman by John Banville, produced and directed by Gemma McMullan. This story of an imagined meeting between Elizabeth Bowen and John Betjeman features Miranda Richardson, Toby Jones, Nick Dunning, Nicholas Murchie, Gerard McDermott, Miche Doherty, Sophie Harknes and Maggie Cronin.

Radio 4 Extra

Monday on Radio 4 Extra sees the first of a series of three plays (Forest Tales) by Colin Haydn Evans. This first one is called Tristan and Iselda.

Tuesday 22nd March

Radio 4

On Tuesday afternoon we have what sounds like the surreal drama This is not a Banksy by Alan Harris, produced by James Robinson. Ellis James, Kimberley Nixon, Eiry Hughes, Steffan Rhodri, Tim Key, Aled Pugh and Kirsty Lang are in the cast.

Radio 4 Extra

The second Forest Tale is A Tale of Three Beds.

Wednesday 23rd March

Radio 4

Toby Jones is also in the Wednesday drama, which appears to be a time-travelling tale about William Blake called Blake in Lambeth. It is written by Tim Wright, directed by Jeremy Mortimer and, apart from Mr Jones, features Jo Joyner, Kirsty Oswald and Tom Harison.

Radio 4 Extra

The concluding Forest Tale is The Story of Melusine, starring Michael Povey.

Thursday 24th March

Radio 4

For the Thursday drama, Jack Dickson has written A Sudden Surge about some unexpected side-effects of medical treatment. It is directed by Eilidh McCreadle and the cast is Alexandra Mathie, Simon Donaldson, Rosalind Sydney, Simon Tait, Wendy Seager and Kenny Blyth.

Radio 4 Extra

Today, there is a play about Beethoven and his deafness. It is The Listening Heart and has been written by David Constantine. The cast features Robert Glenister, Anastasia Hille and Jamie Glover.

Friday 25th March

Radio 4

The final Radio 4 Afternoon Drama of the week is a comedy called Planning Permission by Sarah Wooley, directed by Gaynor Macfarlane. It is about a real-life Goldfinger and features Justin Salinger, Melody Grove, Michael Maloney, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Karl Johnson, Simon Harrison, David Seddon, Shaun Mason, Elaine Claxton and Monty d'Inverno.

Radio 4 Extra

Radio 4 Extra finishes off the week with Park Life by Harvey Virdi. The cast is Shelley King, Paul Bhattacharjee, Ambur Khan, Inam Mirza, Rina Mahoney and Pushpinder Chani.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

More web work

This week I have been doing more work on transferring content between my website and the BCPS website. I have also done a little work in building my new site, but I changed priorities a couple of days ago when I received news that the Sheffield Chess Congress will be going ahead this year. This came after a period of several weeks in which it looked like the Congress was in danger, not for venue or money reasons, but because nobody seemed willing to step up and take the place of Steve Mann, who has wished to retire for some years from his position of overall organiser. The new supremo is Phill Beckett and he has started energetically. As the webmaster and entry secretary to the Congress I had a website to update. Not only did I update it, but I took the opportunity to convert it to jQuery and Bootstrap. The work is not quite finished yet, but will be I hope over the next week or so. You can see the result here.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Developing my new site

As I have mentioned before, I have been designing and building a new site to replace the BDS Website. I have now posted the work so far. It is currently just a skeleton (some links will lead to empty pages, for instance), but I shall be adding flesh to the bones by transferring to it all I want to transfer from the existing site. I don't know how long this will take, but the existing site will remain until the new site is complete.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Olympic Composing Tourney

Later this year the Chess Olympiad will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. As part of the celebrations a chess composing tourney was organised. The provisional award of the section for mates in three has just been published. This evening I have been looking at it and I would like to share one of the problems with you.

Grigory Atayants

1st HM., Olympic Ty., 2016


Mate in 3


1.Qg2!       (2.Qxc6+ dxc6 3.Bxc6#)

1...Sxg2     2.Sa8    &    3.Sc7#
1...Bxg2     2.Sc4    &    3.Ra5#
1...Rxg2     2.Bxd7   &    3.Bxc6#
1...Qxg2     2.Sc8    &    3.Sa7#
1...Sd5      2.Bxd7   &    3.Bxc6#
1...Rd5,Rxd6 2.Qxa2   &    3.Ra5#
1...Qh1      2.Sc8    &    3.Sa7#

In making the key, White moves his queen en prise to three more black pieces and threatens to sacrifice it on c6. In answer, Black four times captures the queen, but each time he deprives himself of a useful defence and White can take advantage of the fact. For instance, after 1...Sxg2, White threatens 3.Sc7 and Black can no longer play 2...Sd5 or 2...Se6 to defend against it. In addition the white queen shows she is not just bait when the black rook defends on d5 or d6. 1...Sd5, by blocking the line from g2 to c6 has the same effect as 1...Rxg2 and so leads to the same thing. Lastly, 1...Qh1 makes the same error as 1...Qxg2. Apart from the threat, there is quiet play throughout, which I always value. Nice to see such an old-fashioned problem getting such a high place in a modern award.

Friday, 4 March 2016

At last the 2016 blog post.

After several years' break, I have decided to start blogging again. I've deleted all the old posts and used a different template, so don't panic if you've been here before and don't recognise it.

As the last task of my twenty-five year stint as director of the Winton Capital British Chess Solving Championship (WCBCSC) I am currently moving all the WCBCSC content from my website to the BCPS website, where it should have been all along, and would have been if I had been webmaster of that latter site years ago, as I am now.

After all that content has disappeared from my site, it won't require such regular updating. All those updates were one reason why I have been using Joomla. However, performing all those upgrades to evade the hackers has become something of a bore, so I have decided that I shall use the opportunity I now have (more free time) to redesign and rebuild my site. I want a responsive site that loads faster than Joomla, so I shall not be using a CMS at all. I have decided to use HTML5, jQuery and Bootstrap on the client-side supported by Perl and MySQL on the server-side. Perl and MySQL are old friends, but the first three are new and I shall enjoy learning all about them as I develop the new site.

I listen to the radio most of the day and I especially like radio drama. This week the best new production has been the five episodes of the seventh, and last, series of Pilgrim by Sebastian Baczkiewicz. I have been listening to this since series one and am sad that there will be no more stories about the immortal and compassionate William Palmer. There have been some disturbing scenes this week, but the series came to a satisfying, and indeed moving, conclusion. You can start listening from last Monday's episode one. This has been a fine example of what the BBC is best at - audio drama.

Other drama worth a listen has been the repeat on Radio 4 Extra of their most recent adaptations of the Sherlock Holmes stories. These, starring Clive Merrison as Holmes and the late Michael Williams as Watson were adapted by, amongst others, Bert Coules. For me they have become definitive radio versions and I listen to them each time they are repeated. You can start listening with A Scandal in Bohemia, which started the series last Monday.

I don't know how regular this blog will be, but I've made a start. I hope it has been of interest to somebody.