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Last year, in one of the most reprehensible chess-related acts ever seen in this country, a half-witted vandal made off with the red pieces of a chess set that was housed in the Palace of Westminster. Earlier this month, however, a London chess set collector, Mr Victor Keats, presented the House of Commons with the loan of a splendid Chinese chess set to restore the status quo.

Yet was this munificent loan really in the best interests of the game? For the House of Commons has not boasted a truly gifted chess player since the days of the late Julius Silverman. Indeed, it would not surprise me at all were it to be discovered that the missing chessmen had been spirited away by the ghost of old Julius, horrified at the level of chess now being perpetrated by our elected representatives. Here is Silverman at his best, defeating a player of grandmaster strength. Could Mr "Tony" Blair have done so well?

White: Julius Silverman

Black: Erich Eliskases

Birmingham 1937

1.e4 e5 2.f4!

If the King's Gambit was good enough when Queen Victoria was on the throne, it should be sufficient to cope with Johnny Foreigner, grandmaster or not!

2...exf4 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Nc3 c6 5.Nf3 d5 6.exd5 cxd5 7.Bb3 Bd6 8.0-0 0-0 9.d4

Bobby Fischer (born 1943) was later to recommend this variation for White.

9...Be6 10.Ne5!

Now, for good or ill, Black must reconcile himself to an inferior game. Instead, Eliskases picks an argument with a man skilled in the arts of debating.

10...Bxe5? 11.dxe5 Qb6+ 12.Kh1 Ng4 13.Qe2 d4 14.Nd5 Bxd5 15.Bxd5 Ne3

Consistent play, but I now call upon the member for Birmingham, Aston (1955-74) to refute the whole idea.

16.Bxe3 dxe3

16...fxe3 could have been met by 17.Rxf7 Rxf7 18.Rf1.

17.Rxf4 Nc6

Black has gained the time needed to bring his other rook into the game.

18.Qh5 Qxb2?? (see diagram)

But more time means another opportunity to make a mistake. This is suicide.

19.Bxf7+ Kh8 20.Qxh7+! resigns

20...Kxh7 21.Rh4 is mate.