Quotes by

Raymond Dennis Keene

A collection of quotes by Raymond Keene:

Loyalty: 

“He [Korchnoi] is certainly a man inspiring great loyalty.”

Raymond Keene (CHESS, August 1977, page 331)

Policy:  

“Honesty and openness is always the best policy!”

Raymond Keene (British Chess Magazine, May 1986, page 208)

Questioning Miles’ patriotism: 

“Much nonsense has been written along the lines of how grateful we all are for Tony’s marvellous achievements in the past, what a noble team player and self-sacrificing human being he is etc. This misses the point. Miles is an egoist who cannot face playing on board three, which is now the highest board to which he can legitimately aspire.

Miles is playing in Zagreb, the third and last of the Interzonals. If he qualifies for the Candidates’ tournament, as Short and Speelman already have, it will be a source of private pleasure to him, but sadly no longer a matter for national rejoicing. Indeed he may as well defect entirely to Andorra, where he will, I am sure, hold down top board as long as he wishes.”

Raymond Keene (The Spectator, 8 August 1987, page 44)

“The [British Chess Federation] press release is co-signed by that well-known patriot and globetrotter Grandmaster Tony Miles, the former top board for Andorra, or was it the US, or Australia, I forget.”

Raymond Keene (The Spectator, 3 April 1993, page 44)

On Donald Schultz of the USCF:

“All Don wants to appear to do is to be clapped by African delegates. … Unfortunately, it [chess in America] does not attract the brightest and the best. So you are going to get people who are basically the dregs. And you got ’em.”

Raymond Keene (Interview with Larry Evans, 24 February 1988)

Work ethic:

“One book I wrote over a weekend, and it only took that long because of the physical limitation of getting the stuff onto the page.”

– Raymond Keene (CHESS, November 1990, page 17)

“I’m not good at attention to detail, I’m much better at broad sweeps.”

– Raymond Keene (CHESS, November 1990, page 17)

On Tony Miles:

“Concerning the British Chess Federation inquiry into Miles’ allegations, which he made two years after the event: on examining the outlandish nature of Miles’ complaints in 1987, the professional legal advice [sic] I had sought indicated unequivocally that I should have nothing to do with the inquiry, on the grounds that Miles appeared to be ‘barking mad’.”

– Raymond KeeneCHESS, July 1991, page 18. The [sic] relates to Keene’s faulty grammar. “Dangerous lunatic” was his description of Miles on page 16 of the Sunday Times Magazine, 13 January 1991: “Keene claims that Miles is a ‘dangerous lunatic’ trying to ruin his career; and that he has an answer to every charge Miles has made against him.”

The 1993 Kasparov vs Short match:

“As the World Chess Federation, hide-bound national chess bodies and chess traditionalists fumed impotently at the bold breakaway by Kasparov and Short, the stage was set in London by The Times for the most gigantic chess extravaganza the world had ever seen …”

– Raymond Keene in The Official Biography of Tony Buzan (Filament Publishing, 2013, page 198); see the “Quotes about” page for Kasparov’s own considered view of the breakaway from FIDE.


A selection of quotes from an article titled “A Life in the Day of Raymond Keene” published in the Sunday Times Magazine, 9 October 1983, page 126:

“Usually I have four or five books I should be finishing at any one time. Most of the 40 I’ve written so far are on the practical, playing aspects. The major part of my income is from the royalties. I bill myself as ‘author’ on my passport.”

– Raymond Keene

“I wish I could be a vegetarian. But if anyone puts a roast duck in front of me, I can’t resist.”

– Raymond Keene

“Eating is my main hobby; I like everything.”

– Raymond Keene

“I lived next door to Prince Charles on the first floor of Trinity Great Court. I saw him every day, but he had his own, very clearly-defined group of friends. I once stole a sausage roll from a tray outside his room during a party. When I went back for another, there was a burly policeman outside the door.”

– Raymond Keene

“I work for an enormous number of magazines all over the world. I scribble it out in longhand, and Annette [his wife – Keenipedia editors], who’s at the sauna for the moment, types it. I work for about an hour. Most of that time is spent thinking of a title, because I try to make them amusing.”

– Raymond Keene

“I only read on journeys.”

– Raymond Keene


A further selection of quotes by Raymond Keene from his Chessgames.com page:

On crediting:

“have chessgames.com been reprinting my times puzzles? No problemo as long as they give full credit!”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 11 June 2004)

On errors:

“i wd not say that i am happy to be informed re errors if people spot them i wd rather know than be left in ignorance.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 22 June 2004)

On research for Samurai Chess:

“i actually participated in a month long aikido class to get the feel of japanese martial arts to prepare for the book.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 22 June 2004)

Superspy:

“i once as a joke created an alternative cv for myself – all true – which made me look like a superspy – it was – however – all a matter of emphasis.”

On 30 August 2004 he added: “of course a year spent sharing lodgings with hrh prince charles at trinity college cambridge.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comments, 29 and 30 August 2004)

A Chessgames.com member asks: “Is chess history a legit field of academic study?

“chess history ought to be!”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 4 September 2004)

Celebrities:

“raymond chandler and i both went to the same school – dulwich college – other alumni schackleton pg woodhouse. (…) my college trinity cambridge was the same as newton! and byron. my son has gone to the same school as lord byron – eton – and i had byrons room at cambridge where he used to keep his pet bear tethered.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 4 October 2004)

“my son was well aware of the royal connection at eton – i myself shared a landing with hrh prince charles at trinity cambridge.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 20 April 2006)

On Kasparov’s Predecessors books (which he plagiarized):

“they contain some serious blunders but overall they are great books – later editions will eradicate the errors such as one alekhine euwe game back to front and a missed mate in one in lasker steinitz notes.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 4 October 2004)

Praising his own memory:

“i was having lunch with kasparov and tony buzan in the jules verne restaurant at the eiffel tower in paris in 1991 and i got involved in a dispute – of a friendly nature – with kasparov about his own games. tony buzan was the witness and the adjudicator. at the end of the discussion it turned out i knew kasparovs games better than he did!”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 6 October 2004)

On the Chinese:

“i think the chinese gamble on everything…”

“they also eat everything.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comments, 12 and 13 October 2004)

Self-aggrandizing:

“in my opinion – setting aside for a moment the greater sophistication in openings available nowadays – i wd say that I am broadly comparable in strength to staunton – possibly i am a little stronger (…)”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 29 October 2004)

“british chess was at its strongest in the 1840’s when staunton was world champion in effect and we also had players like williams and buckle.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 22 September 2005)

“i am the oldest surviving british gm and the first still living to get the title.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 29 November 2004)

Advice on preparation:

“self hypnosis can be useful – especially for boosting confidence.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 25 January 2005)

“a few good beers in the evenings – carlsberg special brew won me lloyd masters 1981 – dortmunder krone won me the dortmund gm tournament 1980 – plus a lot of opening preparation.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 4 July 2005)

On writing:

“anyone can write a chess book – very weak players can write very amusing books – depends on your angle.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 30 June 2005)

On composing his column:

“since there are many ways of getting chess news quickly nowadays i also try to give what cannot be found elsewhere when there is time and space for it – ie informed opinion and game comments.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 17 November 2006)

On Korchnoi’s complaints during the 1978 match:

“i didn’t believe any of it and thought it paranoid raving.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 25 November 2006)

On Kasparov:

“one of the most erudite people i have ever met.”

 – Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 3 December 2006)

On Topalov:

“topalov has become a pariah amongst his colleagues.”

– Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment on 2 October 2006)

How many chess books has he written?

“i have written over 130 books on chess which i believe is the world record.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 25 April 2007)

“i believe i have written 140 which is the world record as far as i can see.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 23 July 2009)

“i very recently calculated how many books i have written either as sole author, co-author, main author, editor or major contributor and the total comes to 158 with translations into 11 different languages, apart from english.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 10 September 2009)

His favourite top ten books:

“the ten books i wd take on a desert island: 500 master games by tartakower and dumont; alekhines best games 1924-1937; kasparovs my great predecessors as set is just one big book – i wd take that; my own book on nimzowitsch; clarkes book on tal; golombeks book on reti the descriptive version not the badly edited algebraic one; masters of the chessboard by reti; tartakowers 2 volume set of his best games – i regard this – as with kasparovs – as one big book; who was the greatest – warriors of the mind vol 2 by me divinsky and jeff jonas; golombeks book on capablanca.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 30 June 2007)

Poor defence:

“i have never knowingly purveyed any kind of falsehood in anything i have written.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 10 January 2008)

On alleged weaknesses of great champions:

“weaknesses of the greats: kasparov – sometimes overoptimistic; anand – sometimes lazy; Kramnik – too cautious; karpov – sometimes superficial.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 29 March 2008)

“petrosian – agonaphobia [sic]; fischer – petulance; korchnoi – time trouble.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 6 April 2012)

On the quality of his books:

“personally i think all my books stand up to scrutiny.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 17 July 2009)

“i have no regrets about any of the books i have written but i am also fully aware that there are some highly envious people out there.”

Raymond Keene (Chessgames.com comment, 13 December 2009)


Raymond Keene’s books contain numerous untrue or misleading claims. For instance:

On the dust-jacket of Samurai Chess, co-authored with Michael Gelb (Aurum Press, 1997): “The world’s leading authority on chess and mind sports.  … Winner of 14 separate British championship titles.” Tony Miles mocked those claims in his book review in Kingpin (Spring 1998, pages 52-53, available on-line)

The “About the Authors” feature in World Champion Combinations by Raymond Keene and Eric Schiller (Cardoza Publishing, 1998) asserted that Keene was “considered one of the strongest players in the world.” In his review of the book Edward Winter pointed out: “In reality, he played his last serious chess in the mid-1980s, and on the 1986 rating list he was not among the top ten players in England, let alone the world.”

The back cover of Keene’s book Fischer – Spassky II (Batsford, 1992) described him as “one of the world’s leading chess writers.”