Monday, 23 December 2019

Christmas Quiz 2019

Yes, its that time of year again, and here it is - the annual KCC Christmas Quiz. And this time it is possibly the best yet - or rather its definitely the hardest yet! But its guaranteed to provide hours (and hours and hours) of entertainment - or more likely frustration. Still, we spend all year wasting our time on a fundamentally pointless game, so this is the perfect quiz for a chess player!

Below you will find a really rather touching, yet dramatic, short story marrying politics, romance and adventure. Maybe not up to the level of KCC's published author, Ben, but its the best I could do in the circumstances. Because within the story I have hidden a number of chess players' names, and your task is to find them. Some are very obvious; some are the product of such tortuous prose that it will be clear that there must be a hidden name in there; but some of them are very difficult; and several, dare I say, are virtually impossible!

Now its only a short story, but within it your task is to find:-

37 (oops! updated now to 41) Grand Masters (of whom 4 are deceased) including one (no actually two!) world champions and two (make that three!) women's world champions
3 (no make that 6!) International Masters, including a former British Champion; a former World Junior Champion; and one who was murdered! (And one you'll never, ever have heard of.)
13 KCC members

Most names appear once; some a few times and a few rare beasts appear many times. You get one point each time you spot a hidden name. The most appearances by a single name is a remarkable 22 - but even so I'm not expecting anyone to get this even once!! Just to make it more difficult, in at least three cases, (I've lost track of the exact number!) names can be found hidden inside even longer names. Two pairs of GM's share the same surname; and 3 KCC members share their names with either GMs or IMs. These all count double when you find them. So here's the short story - the rest is up to you!

Love Conquers All

Steep Hill, Ipswich was not where you would have expected a political revolution to start, but MI5 had been watching the place like a hawk – ever since the left wing activist known as Deep Red Ken had taken up residence. It was all quiet at first without any untoward incidents. While the original Red Ken had a thing for newts, the most exciting thing about his near-namesake was that he liked to keep a gerbil or two and a pet springbok. But when Baron Ian Nash, or the Aristocratic Anarchist as he was lampooned by the tabloids, paid him a clandestine visit at the midnight hour, the alarm bells started ringing again in Whitehall. This was “a potentially explosive combination,” joked the Home Secretary in very poor taste – a possibly live, possibly dud atomic weapon had gone missing from Russia recently, and until it was tracked down, no-one could feel entirely safe. Indeed, morale in the secret services was at a very low ebb; the missing weapon was like a smoking gun at their heads.

“Follow Ken,” commanded the Home Secretary. “I want to know what he’s up to. He’s the kingpin. Keep a very close watch on him. He’s a very dangerous fellow, especially if he’s teamed up with another group of thugs like the Aristo’s anarchists.” So MI5, of course, did their master’s bidding.

And the plot thickened as the trail led them to Holland, and a sleazy jazz club in a run down, graffiti daubed building – lit only by an old gas lamp -  on Rijksmuseum Road, Amsterdam. As a mournful saxophone played, and a would be heart-throb songsmith crooned away, the watching agents witnessed a surprising rendezvous with glamorous Mayfair socialite Ellin Back, dubbed London Nelly by the popular press.

“Fancy that!” whispered Agent No 1. “Any idea how a militant weirdo like Deep Red Ken finds a rich woman like her?” “No idea”, replied Agent 2. “Nor how Ellin found him. They should be on opposite sides in the class war, don’t you think? And I thought she had better taste in men than that! Now, do we grab him or risk it by letting him walk out with her?” “We’ve still got nothing concrete to hold him for yet,” moaned Agent 1. “I’m not a gambler, so we’ll just have to keep watching him until he lets his guard down – even for a minute will do.” So the two agents settled back, deep in the shadows, to enjoy the smooth jazz music, which had now been supplemented by a drum machine dub over a twangy guitar.

Back in the UK, the Baron was becoming rather unhinged by the stress of the whole affair, and also by the absence of Nelly. “I’m really missing my woman tonight”, he muttered. “Why did I ever introduce that man and woman. I’m to blame for that. Oh good grief, I’m even talking to myself now! I’m turning into a lame duck.” And he began to recite a psalm, as if the power of prayer could calm his nerves and send her back to him that very night.

But former deb Ellin did not return that night, nor anytime soon. Because she and Ken were out of control, in a whirlwind romance which sent them travelling across Europe, with ever more mystified British spies on their tail. One week it was a cruise up the Nile, then it was back to the Netherlands, via Italy and Spain. The two seemed to have a special rapport – life was just a bed of roses, all kisses and smiles. But their behaviour was driving the watching authorities crazy, and when they ended up in Berlin it was like waving a red rag. “Germany, now is it?” seethed the Home Secretary, slamming his fist down on the table like a hammer and knocking over a desk-lamp in the process. “This is a calamity. They’re scoring all the points in this contest and making a laughing stock of us.”

But apart from an irate politician, a couple of disgruntled spooks and a pining aristocrat, no-one else cared. For this was a triumph of love across the class divide. And who doesn’t like a story with a happy ending?

By my reckoning, the maximum score possible is now a (further) revised 154 (119 GM references; 11 IM references and 24 KCC references - remember some names score more than 1 point). Good luck. You will need it. The solution will appear here in due course - when I decide the suffering has gone on long enough!! For now I leave you with, if not a clue, then at least a hint. Just remember that a number of Chinese/Asian GMs do have very short names!


  1. Well, I said it was difficult - and in fact I just noticed there were another 2 GMs in the text that had completely escaped me when I was writing the original story! I have updated the relevant numbers within the article - and the targets are now even higher!

  2. A second update was needed to the numbers after the first/only solver found 2 more GMs and 2 IMs that I had overlooked!