Chess Edinburgh lewischessmen2-75h 

Chandler Cornered

Ian 'Spike' Mullen

Ian David Mullen ('Spike')

The 'Spike' nickname came from a jazz musician in the 30's and 40's
Spike Mullen. This was the same Spike that Spike Milligan borrowed.

In July 2004 Spike committed suicide by jumping from the Dean Bridge in Edinburgh.

I waited one year before mentioning anything about on this site.
I'm not too sure why. I'm a coward when it comes to these things.

At the funeral the person conducting the service said that
Ian made a decision and took his own life.

This decision left me and his many friends exasperated
at the waste of such of wonderful talented person.

Spike was hit with a series of personal tragedies
each one capable of putting a person down.

He took them on the chin and perhaps his mistake was keeping them bottled up.

I knew Spike for nearly 30 years.
Yet I never found out till the day of his funeral
that prior to his breakdown his father had died of cancer
and his mother was killed in tragic circumstances.

Spike's brother was involved in an accident in the 70's
and is still in a nursing home with a lawyer who has to
make decisions for him.

Spike's very good friend Vaughan Siguin was killed in a
drowning accident in Portugal. Spike took this quite badly.

Then Spike and Annakin (the girl in the photo) split up
after living together for a couple of years. He was later to find
out Annakin was pregnant with his child.
Annakin had her (it was girl), adopted.

And that's not me pointing a finger of blame.
Annakin had her own reasons and perhaps felt she was not
ready to give a child her full attention.

Spike told me prior to the birth,
Annakin's twin sister had passed away.

Who knows how anybody is going to cope
carrying around this load of emotional baggage.

Spike became withdrawn and irrational. Perhaps out of embarrassment
he made little effort to contact his friends and chance meetings
in the street were worrying and a cause for concern.

I've just read what I typed. If Spike was here he would say
"For God's sake Geoff,cheer it up."

Spike was one of the most kind and gentle people you could know.
A wry sense of humour, an exceptional guitarist, educated to a
high standard and a very good Chess player.

He co-wrote an excellent book with Mo Moss called
'Blunders and Brilliancies'

it was recently voted one of the best Chess books
ever written. Ian's instructive writing shines through.

A second edition was planned but sadly Mo passed away.
Mo's death was another brick added the load Spike was carrying around.

Thankfully I and a lot of other people can
remember the kind, gentle and happy go lucky Spike
and dismiss these episodes as part of his illness.

I got to know Spike when he and Alastair White
were the co editors of Capital Chess.

I later took over the magazine and had the printing
press delivered to The Edinburgh Chess Club and stored
it in the coffee room.

I can remember having just completed an edition and had
just stapled half of the run (approx 75 copies) together when
Spike appeared and wanted a game put in. A game he lost!

This was against Tommy Milligan (I can never recall Tommy being called Spike).

I said I'll use it next issue. I can't fill two sides with
one game. Spike gave me a game he played against George Weeden.
This was a brilliant game. But Spike wanted to 'Stop The Press'
with a game he had lost. This was Spike Mullen.

So in typical Chandler fashion I typed up another page including
Spike's lost v Tommy Milligan and his win v George Weeden.
I added some other games, printed off the page and started stapling.

"What about the one's you have already stapled?" asked Spike.

"To hell with un-stapling that lot." says I.
"Your page will become a collectors item."

So I sold my mag knowing half of them had a page missing.

Here is the Tommy Milligan game. It's from the Dundee Open 1980

[Click here to replay the game]
Tommy Milligan vs. Spike Mullen

1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 exf4 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.c4 c6 6.d4 cxd5 7.Bxf4 Bb4+ 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Be2 dxc4 10.0-0 Bxc3 11.bxc3 Nd5 12.Qd2 Nxf4 13.Qxf4 Be6 14.Ng5 Bd5 15.Bh5 f6 16.Nxh7 Kxh7 17.Qf5+ Kg8 18.Bg6 Qd7 19.Qh5 Rd8 20.Rae1 Nc6 21.Qh7+ Kf8 22.Qh8+ Bg8 23.Rxf6+ gxf6 24.Qxf6+ Bf7 25.Qh8+ Bg8 26.Qh6+

I recall one magical day in 1978 when Spike and
I decided to cash in on the Chess Cassette market.

Chess cassettes's were big business in the late 70's.
I think Mike Basman started it. The idea was simple.
Set up your Chess set, turn on your cassette player
listen to the teacher/instructor and your eyes
never leave the chessboard.

So Spike turns up at the Edinburgh Chess Club.
We plugged in at the power socket by the window,
this is relevant, and off we went.

I know Spike still had the cassette because he played
it for me in the late 80's and we cracked up again.

At the time Britain was swithering between descriptive
and algebraic notation. So to hit both markets we decided
to do a joint descriptive/algebraic version.

It went something like this...

Spike plays a classical intro on his guitar.

A brief incident free introduction why we chose this game.
(A line in the Two Knights with a Bxf7+.)

Spike: "A game full of interesting ideas and imagination."
Me: "I like the sacs."
...and a nod from Spike and off we went.

Me: "White played one pawn to King Four."
Spike : "one e4."

Me: "Black replied one pawn to King Four."
Spike: "one e5"

Me: "White then played two, Knight to King's Bishop three."
Spike: "two Knight f3."

Me: "Black replied 2 Knight to Queen's Bishop six."
Spike: "that was Knight to King's Queen's Bishop three... 2 Knight c6."

Me: "ER.. Sorry... er Queens Knight to Queens Bishop three."
Spike: "Three Knight c6."

Me: "Black's third move was Queens Knight to Queens Bishop three."
Spike: "... Three Knight c6."

Me: chuckle and slight snigger. "King's Bishop to Queen's Bishop five..four."
Spike: "3 Bishop c4 attacking f7."
Me: "attacking King's Bishop seven, Black's King's Bishop's two."

(whispering noises Spike telling me to make Black's move.)

Me: "Black played... 3 King's Bishop to Queen's Bishop 4."
Spike: pause, shrug of shoulders " 3 Bishop c5."

Me: "The Guioco Piano... the Guioco Pianissimo, the quiet game."
Spike said nothing but look at me with his eyebrow raised.
(people who knew Spike will remember this look.)

We agreed briefly beforehand what
we would say but my mind had gone blank.

Me: "Yes... The Old Guioco Piano... Do you play the Guioco Spike?"
Spike: "Yes but today I thought we were talking about the TWO KNIGHTS."

Me: "Oh no wonder I could think of anything to say..."

Spike laughed, leaned back in the chair and knocked the guitar over...

All this is picked up on the tape.

We played back what we had.

First of all we had the mic laying on the chess table and you
could hear an almighty thump everytime the we move a piece.

Because we were right by the window the mic picked all the
traffic noise including a distant fire engine.

It was the Fire Engine noise that had us both collapsed
on the carpet giggling in a fit of hysterics.

The venture never got off the ground.

My other lasting memory was the day
we fixed the broken library window.

Spike was caretaker and I just popped by during the
day to pay him a visit. He had two nasty cuts on his hand.

He was trying to take the glass out of a broken window in
library cabinet. I helped him.

I got a cut on my hand.

The Chandler brain kicked into action.

"Why not remove the door and take it to a glazier?"

So with a table knife I unscrewed the door.
Gouging out big chunks of the frame in the process.

Annakin bound our wounds and off we went.

I cut myself again during the journey.
We swopped ends and Spike picked up another cut.

The thing was a death trap.

We stopped off at the news agent by Haymarket and bought
plasters. We patched ourselves up and arrived at the glaziers.

Suddenly Spike started laughing.

"What's a matter with you?" I said.

This door was covered in our blood and we were both
sporting plasters (those blue ones) on our hands.

"Typical 'Do-It-Your-Selfers'." he said.
"We botch it up, cut ourselves to ribbons and bring it to an expert."

We started snorting and giggling and had to lay
the door down till the fits of laughter passed.

Finally, In the glaziers. The guy saw the blood and saw
our plasters. "Cut yourselves lads?"

The George Weeden Game

George was a very good and solid Chess player
who was at the time, I think I'm right,
the current East of Scotland Champion.

George put a notice up on the Edinburgh Chess Club board
challenging anyone to a match for 30.00.
The winner being the first score 3 wins.

George was delighted when Spike took up the challenge because Spike,
like himself, was one of the classical school, Spike would play open Chess.

Ian's hero was Morphy and this reflected in his play.
His games were models of opening development sprinkled
with artistic combinations.

Spike won the match 3-0 with no draws.
Here are the key moments from the 1st game.

All theory to here. White should have played 13 d4.
13 Nc3 looks OK But Spike spotted what wrong with it and
played 13...c5. Now d4 cannot be played and White is cramped.

Black to play. Spike found a tactical way to bring
his offside Knight into the game 17...Nc4!

if 18 Nxd6 Qxd6 and Black is
winning due to the threat of Bxf3.

In this position Black uncorked 19...Bxh2+!

An intuitive sacrifice, the consequences of
which are virtually impossible to calculate.

It looks very tricky here but Spike had seen...

....if 22 Bxe4 then 22....Qxe4 is very strong.
He had seen this idea before he played 19...Bxh2+!

The game continued and White did well to stave off mate.

In the final position the opposite coloured Bishops
count for very little. White is totally lost.

[Click here to replay the game]
G. Weeden - Spike Mullen

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Be2 h6 9.Nf3 e4 10.Ne5 Bd6 11.f4 exf3 12.Nxf3 0-0 13.0-0 Re8 14.Nc3 c5 15.d3 Bb7 16.Bd2 Ng4 17.Ne4 Nc4 18.dxc4 Rxe4 19.Bd3 Bxh2+ 20.Nxh2 Qd4+ 21.Kh1 Nxh2 22.Kxh2 Rh4+ 23.Kg3 Re8 24.Rf4 Qe5 25.Qe2 Qxe2 26.Bxe2 Rxf4 27.Bxf4 Rxe2 28.Rg1 Rxc2 29.Be5 Rxc4

That game shows Spike at his imaginative best.
I feel sorry for anybody who never met him.
He never had an enemy in World. Everyone liked him.
He was a true Gentle Man.

And finally to end this tribute. A joke I know Spike would
have found funny. It's the sort of social comment he was always making.

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