Chess Grandmaster, Raymond Keene OBE

Chess aficionados and those who were simply curious, gathered together today in the elegant surroundings of the Polish Hearth Club , to hear a talk by Raymond Keene, Chess Grandmaster. This was the latest in a series of Fund Raising Literary Lunches organised with the aim of raising money for the refurbishment and repair of the club which has been at the centre of Anglo-Polish cultural life for over 70 years.


Prior to starting his talk Raymond played the seminal pop anthem “Money” by the Flying Lizards to remind everyone  why they were gathered! Raymond informed the guests that there were only about 1,000 Chess Grandmasters in the world. To a question about the origins of chess, he replied, ”Chess is a game of war!”

 Lady Cholmideley

He shared reminiscences from a fascinating career which involved observing the fall of the Soviet Union through the world of chess and being called on to help solve a murder mystery using his chess skills. He said that Chess has been proven to be one of the two sovereign remedies  in helping fight Alzheimer’s disease, the other being dance.

He discussed the benefits of chess for children in developing the powers of logic and analysis. The other key aspect is the child learning to take responsibility for what he/she has done as there is only one person to blame if you get things wrong – yourself.  In chess a child can see the relationship between what it does and the end result. To the question, at what age one should start playing he replied, “Not before 4 but it is good to start at about 5 years if you want any chance of  becoming a Chess Grandmaster.” He did know of someone who was an exception to this.

Raymon Keene OBE

After the talk finished,  Raymond Keene OBE challenged the guests to a ‘simultaneous chess match’. A table was cleared and a long line of chess boards was laid out on the linen tablecloths.  To the delight of his spectators Raymond proceeded to demonstrate in an understated but resolute way why he is a Chess Grandmaster....

Date: 10 October 2012