Michael Basman’s Questionnaire


What is your earliest memory of playing chess?

I went up to Selfridges with my dad and we bought a wooden set for 10s. 6d. He taught us to play chess that evening. I remember him showing us the knight move.


What is your most memorable game?

Probably against Botvinnik in 1967 at Hastings.


What was your worst defeat?

Two recent games against Michael Hennigan.


Which living player do you most admire?



How do you relax?

I don’t relax, but I like to doze off in bed.


What/who is your favourite band/music/composer?

Sandy Denny and the Fairport Convention.


What is your favourite record?

Sandy Denny: One More Chance.


What do you consider to be your greatest weakness as a chess player?



What is your greatest strength?



What is your most unappealing habit?

Urinating on my opponents during chess games.


Which book would you take to a desert island?

Probably the Masnavi by Rumi.


How would you characterize your chess-playing style?



What is your favourite television programme?

I don’t watch television. Televison is for people too lazy to find something to do.


Against which player do you have the worst results?

Currently, Michael Hennigan.


Which meal do you most like to eat and could you cook it yourself?

Madras chicken. I can’t cook.


What was your most embarrassing moment at the chessboard?

Sitting in front of the audience at my first Hastings Premier.


Do you own a chess computer and can you envisage ever losing to a machine in a competitive game?

I own and sell computers, and can quite easily imagine being beaten by one. They are much more accurate.


Which chess writer do you most enjoy reading?

Fred Reinfeld. For example, his books The Human Side of Chess and A Treasury of Chess Lore.


What single thing in your opinion would improve the chess scene in Britain?

The general awareness of the educational value of chess and the need to fund it properly. and if the Government and sponsors will not do it, then we the people must do so.


In which particular tournament do you most like to compete?

I don’t compete much at the moment.


Have you ever been the victim of cheating at a chess tournament?

Yes, but it was self-inflicted.


Who is the most irritating opponent you have faced?

Florin Gheorghiu at the Varna tournament in 1971. Every time he made a good move he would slam his pop bottle down on the table.


Who is the most courteous person you have played?

Most opponents are courteous, so I do not single out any in particular.


Are there any other sports/activities at which you excel?




first published in Kingpin 21 (Autumn 1993)

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