"Chandler you are a blethering idiot."
This is how Lyndsay McGregor, his face upside down with fury,
greeted me on my Christmas Eve trip to Sandy Bells.
"And a Merry Christmas to you too." I retorted.
"This afternoon I heard you gibbering your usual nonsense on the radio.
Why did you say Jonathan Rowson won the British title 3 times by playing
only 30 games of chess? The British is eleven rounds. Rowson played 33 games."
And before I could reply he continued.
"It's OK getting facts wrong on your trashy Chandler Cornered (trashy?),
nobody reads that muck, but you have now spouted your usual nonsense
on a national radio station."
He took a deep breath loading the next broadside when
Keith Ruxton appeared with a chess set.
"What position is this?" he asked.
"It's a standard Ruy Lopez." I replied. "1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5."
"Wrong again Honey." said Keith.
And he proceeded to show me how the above position could
be reached via a totally different order of moves.
And that is how I spent Christmas Eve.
McGregor lambasting me for a simple slip of the tongue and Ruxton showing
me the dozens of different ways to reach the above position and calling me Honey.
Time passed, Guiness was drunk, Agatha the Bells barmaid was looking prettier
after each pint when suddenly she rang for last orders and I went home.
I jumped into bed and thought how crap it was to be an adult on Christmas Eve.
For a few minutes I thought of all the millions of kids who tonight would
be forcing themselves awake hoping to catch Santa bringing them presents.
I soon fell into a deep sleep.
I wake up with eyes wide and mind fully alert.
"Agatha....11 Days...The Ruy Lopez Problem...The British Chess Championship..."
I jump out of bed, switch on the light and searched my library....I found it.
Agatha Christie went missing for 11 days in 1926.
This book claims to explain where she was and what happened.
Apparently she hid in a hotel somewhere in the south of England.
Or did she?
She wrote a story called: The Chess Problem.
It features a Ruy Lopez, the victim getting electocuted when he plays 3.Bb5.
So she knew a bit about chess. Was she a chess player?
Here is a famous picture of her at work.
That is clearly a Rook brooch and on the desk there is something about CHESS.
Another Library search, this time amongst my full set of BCM's.
Here is photo-copy of the 1926 BCM page 94.
Mrs Lisa Pem won it and she never entered the Ladies British Chess Championship again.
Another library search surfaced my A-Z of Agatha Christie characters.
Sadly I found no Lisa Pem in any of the Agatha Christie novels.
However there are plenty of mentions of one Miss Marple.
It's a perfect anagram. The coincidence is too striking.
Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days to play in and win
the 1926 British Ladies Chess Championship. Amazing!