GM Keith Arkell is a constant presence in chess tournaments ranging from smaller British weekend tournaments, to big-stage open tournaments like the Chess.com Isle of Man International. Over the years, he has amassed dozens of tournament victories, including winning the 2014 European Over 50 Championship, and tying for first in the 2008 British Championships. Of course, Keith is best known for his legendary endgame prowess, and he shows off and explains his approach to endgames in his enjoyable and instructive new book, Arkell’s Endings. In our interview,Keith discusses the book, including his fascinating “hierarchy of pawns.” Keith shares some great chess tips as well as life reflections from a life spent wholly immersed in chess. As always, please read on for more details and timestamps.
0:00- We begin by discussing the genesis of Arkell’s Endings, as well as the origins of Keith’s legendary endgame skills.
Mentioned: Chess for Life by GM Mathew Sadler and Natasha Regan, Ginger GM Publishing, GM Simon Williams, GM Anatoly Karpov, GM Ulf Andersson, GM Tony Miles,
08:00- Does Keith think he is uniquely feared due to his propensity for grinding down opponents in long games?
Mentioned: GM Mark Hebden
12:00- In Arkell’s Endgames, he lays out his “heirarchy of pawns”- how does he value each pawn, and how did he come upon that framework?
18:30- Keith makes no secret that he dislikes opening theory. How does he approach chess to minimize memorization? How does he characterize his chess style generally?
Mentioned: IM John Bartholomew, GM Simon Williams
26:30- As a European senior champion what is Keith’s advice for other older players? How does he balance a desire to socialize with his chess colleagues while also trying to perform well in tournaments?
30:30- In addition to an evident endgame prowess, Simon Williams shows some impressive tactical melees that Keith has played in Arkell Endgames. How did Keith learn to calculate?
34:00- Keith has a light touch in Arkell’s Endings, with regard to how much analysis he includes. How did he decide on this approach?
Mentioned: Bertrand Russell, GM Peter Svidler, IM Ali Mortazavi
41:50- Perpetual Chess is brought to you in part by Chessable.com. Check out all of their latest offerings here:
42:30- How does Keith stay sharp in blitz?
Mentioned: Hodgson, Howell, GM Simon Williams, IM Ameet Ghasi, GM Alireza Firouzja, GM Mickey Howell, GM Luke McShane, GM Gawain Jones,GM Ivan Sololov, John Naylor
46:00- Are the rumors true, that Keith’s fun first book, Arkell’s Odyssey, will soon be updated and reissued? Keith expounds on some personal issues touched upon in the book, including a lack of confidence before he discovered chess, and a history of panic attacks.
56:00- Keith made an early decision in life to try to avoid a “real job.” How old was he when he made this decision? How strong was he at chess?
Mentioned: IM Susan Lalic, GM Glenn Flear, WIM Christine Flear
1:03:00- What are Keith’s favorite places that he has visited for tournaments?
Mentioned: GM Vassily Smyslov, GM Lev Psakhis, Arkell-Psakhis 1983, GM Leonid Yudasin, GM Alexander Khalifman, Marshall Chess Club,
1:08:00- How did Keith find his chess heroes, like Anatoly Karpov and Ulf Andersson?
Mentioned: Simple Chess, My System, Think Like a Grandmaster, Chess for Zebras, Fred Reinfeld, Irving Chernev, GM Yuri Averbakh
1:13:00- What is Keith’s approach to analyzing his own games?
1:15:30- What was it like to play Magnus Carlsen when Magnus was 11 years old? What other memorable encounters has Keith had with top players?
Mentioned: Arkell-Carlsen 2002, Isle of Man International, GM Fabiano Caruana, GM Sergei Karjakin, Arkell-Karjakin 2003, GM Michael Adams, Gm Jonathan Speelman, GM Nigel Short, GM Anish Giri, GM Teimour Radjabov, GM Vidit Gujrathi
Thanks so much to Keith for joining the show!
Get Arkell’s Endings here:
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Check out how he did at Pardubiche here: