Saturday, 16 September 2017

Graves of Famous Non-Chess Players - Number 2 in a Series of ....?

Just when you thought my morbid tendencies had run their course, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you with another instalment of my latest riveting series. (And I have more to come, too - you have been warned!)

The small island of Mallorca was the scene of the very famous Palma Interzonal in 1970, when Bobby Fischer scored a great victory with 18.5/23 - no less than three and a half points ahead of Larsen, Geller and Hubner who tied for second with 15 points. Also qualifying for the Candidates matches were Taimanov and Uhlmann with 14 points. Both Taimanov and Larsen may have subsequently wished they hadn't qualified given what Fischer did to them (6-0 in case you didn't know!)

So the chess connection is well established, which gives me an excuse to present a couple of photos of the grave of the famous poet and novelist, Robert Graves - how appropriate is that?! Graves (1895-1985) is best remembered for I Claudius, though presumably most people, myself included, only know that work through the brilliant BBC serial of the 1970s rather than the original novel. He spent much of his life in the beautiful Mallorcan village of Deia, about 30 km north of Palma, high in the Serra de Tramuntana, though a more local connection for us is that, surprisingly, he attended Hillbrow School in Rugby for a time. Graves' former house is now a (very interesting) museum and he is buried in the cemetery adjacent to the village church of San Juan Bautista. Rather annoyingly for me - as I like to be the first to document such things - there is a picture of Graves' grave in his Wikipedia entry, but I am able to present original images here, courtesy of Mrs Club Organiser. So blame her for the fact that the gravestone inscription is almost illegible! (But it was a very sunny day and a very light coloured stone, so go easy with the criticism, please.)

And the chess connection is actually even stronger than I have so far made out, since in a few weeks time, another major event will also take place in Palma de Mallorca, with the staging of the fourth and final leg of the Fide Grand Prix series, from which two players will qualify to the Candidates tournament to determine the next challenger for Magnus Carlsen. I'm sure you will be joining me in hoping that nobody scores enough points to oust my favourite player, Alexander Grischuk, from his current qualifying position.

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