Homeless ‘tramp chess champion’ challenges Cambridge’s best minds

Comments: 8

A ‘tramp chess champion’ is throwing down the gauntlet to Cambridge University’s finest minds and challenging them to try their luck against him at chess. 🙂 The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.
Cambridge university

Cambridge University


Rough sleeper Slide Martin, 62, is back in the city and claims to have lost only six times in his 35 years living on the streets; he is also unbeaten since arriving in Cambridge four years ago. Mr Martin has been returning to the city on a regular basis for more than three decades.


Accompanied by his pet dogs Check, 14, and Mate, 4, Slide has found a loophole in begging laws by challenging the world’s cleverest students to matches – and winning, as previously reported on the news.
Tramp Chess Champion Slide Martin

Slide Martin, 62, playing chess on the streets of Cambridge


Slide was a junior chess champion and began challenging passers-by as a way to get round begging laws. He plays people for free and skirts the law by accepting “donations” if he wins. The father-of-three has used this loophole to make a living off challenging, and invariably beating, the world’s cleverest students.


Suggestion: are you a beginner? Then our FREE “The ultimate guide: Chess rules for beginners” will definitely help you! 🙂


The former under-11 south London chess champion said: “I don’t think much of these Cambridge University students. They’re not really that clever. Most of them think that they can play but they haven’t got a clue. They look at me and think I’m stupid because I’m a tramp.


They assume they’ll easily beat me, but when they realise I’ll win they get the hump. I’ve had students kick the board and steal pieces – they’re really sore losers”.
Tramp Chess Champion Slide MartinSlide, a self-titled ‘knight of the road’, has travelled across the country playing anyone since he was made homeless aged 27 after losing his job as a chef. He claims the game has provided him with a “comfortable” living and allows him to buy the five cans of super-strength beer he drinks every day.


Currently, he sits playing outside a side entrance to St Michael’s Court, part of Cambridge University’s Gonville and Caius College. Since he’s on private property, the police cannot move him on unless the college complains, which it has yet to do.


This allows him to use his brown and cream coloured chessboard to challenge passers-by heading into the city’s nightlife district o. He said: “I’ve played people everywhere, from Land’s End to John O’Groats, and I’ve only lost six times. I’m a natural and I’ve played the game since before I can remember.


I sit in a busy part of the city, so I get loads of passers-by. I just put my chess board out and challenge anyone to a game. I don’t take drugs but I like a drink. I have around five cans a day and playing helps pay for that.


I like Cambridge because it’s the only place I’ve been where you can walk around with a can and not get any hassle. The beer also helps me because the drunker I get, the better I play”.
Tramp Chess Champion Slide MartinSlide currently lives alone in a garage in Cambridge with Check, a black retriever cross, and Mate, a husky cross. His three adult children, two women and a man, live independently in London and he speaks to them regularly.


A police spokesman said: “The act described is not an offence of begging under the Vagrancy Act, therefore, not enforceable by police officers”.


Source: Cambridge News


P.S. Isn’t it great to see this! What are your thoughts after reading this article – feel free to comment below and discuss. And, by the way, if you live near this place, maybe you can play a game with him and let us know about it. 🙂
Comments: 8

Comments 8

  1. There’s no doubt in my mind I could whip this bum. Since i have a Rothweiler, an Akita, a dalmatian, a german shepperd, a doberman and a beagle, I wouldn’t be afraid of his dogs.

  2. Hi!
    Sorry Igor for repeating this question yet again, even though I already did several times in other blogs of yours, I will do it again since I am of very strong opinion that this question is very crucial, very critical and important to discuss whose answer will improve the game of huge amounts of your students. And here’s the question. You are known for your famous principles of chess which are made to simplify people’s tasks like Least active piece max activity.. and so on, and you mention them in a huge variety of your courses, in fact, probably in all of your courses do you talk a lot about these base principles. But what about the more deeper, long term positional planning aspects of chess? Yes, I am yet again referring to IM Daniel Rensch whose ideas are very convincing. One of his main ideas he teaches his students of is, that you develop your pieces with purpose, with a mutual plan. He says how developing your pieces to the most active squares, most forward where they exert pressure on the center, and then castling and figuring out what to do next in the middlegame, is a very beginner-like approach towards chess. He says that every beginner knows that he needs to develop his pieces, but says that the next step in one’s chess improvement is when you develop with purpose, with a plan. In other words, it’s a wrong approach to just focus on developing your pieces actively, towards center, without any concrete plans, and figuring out what to do next in the middlegame. The problem is, this kind of wrong approach is EXACTLY YOUR approach. You start by development of this bad habbit in your course the Grandmaster’s Secrest where you talk about this superficial, basic, beginner principles “develop pieces to forward squares toward center in the opening, and figure out what to do next in the middlegame” and furthermore, you promise people who study this course to get Grandmaster’s results. You promise the same thing in your Grandmaster’s Positional Understanding course, but you still just focus on these principles and not much more. I recently got your GrandMaster’s Opening Laboratory 2 course and it seems that you keep doing that. Where is the deeper picture long term positional evaluation of elements that is hidden in a certain opening you have chosen, and the long term plans of these openings, and thereby the purposes of development of each piece? Let me give you a concrete example. In game 6, Karjakin played at some point his bishop to f4. Some commentators called this an empty move. Guess why 🙂 Because it’s exactly what I was talking about. Bf4 would be a typical beginner like “oh let me use the principle of least active piece and principle of maximum activity(“which I’ve learned from Gm secrets, positional understanidng, Callculate till mate, opening laboratory 1 and 2 and I can’t count in which more courses…”) and I will just use this beginner principles. No plan, and deeper picture long term thinking was involved when one’d play Bf4, it would be the exact BEGINNER approach, which is the ONLY kind of approach you give in your courses. I’m not here to criticize you, I am here just for the better good of me and your other students who invest money on your courses. Because the topic I am talking about here is of EXTREME importance and I hope I got you thinking about this and I really also hope that you will finally answer this, I think we can all finally agree, very important and critical question.
    Thanks in advance and I REALLY look forward to finally hearing from you on this question.


    1. Karjakin’s Bf4 move is also considered by some commentators as a natural move. Karjakin could have played a move that challenges the knights that were on his side of the board as igor advises in his courses, eg, Be3 However Magnus would allow the exchange to have the bishop pair, which Igor teaches is powerful in open positions or Karjakin could have played Nce2 but there is no danger in the position yet, so Karjakin decides to develop his bishop to an active diagonal which Igor also advises to do as part of opening task. Igor states to not allow the word beginner to take any importance away from his teachings, because they are powerful strategies in positional play. When it comes to blitz games Igor would rather you play longer time controls because it gives you more time to think. Like 15 mins + rapid games. Longer the better. It would have been very interesting to analyse your blitz games and see what happened. Please remember that the most important aspect of your game that Igor wants you to constantly work on is to improve on your thinking system. You have mentioned that this is not the first time you have brought up this topic and I might know why Igor has not answered your blog. if you have seriously studied Gm secrets and positional play courses, completed all the tasks diligently as Igor requires then you will know the deeper, long term positional planning aspects of chess. I have studied both Gm secrets and positional play courses and found it fantastic. Igor explains his ideas in its simplest and basic forms and I think that because of its simplicity you feel that you are missing something, which you may be, but not because of Igor or his courses. it is interesting however that you write ” I’m not here to criticize you… and yet also write, ” this kind of wrong approach is EXACTLY YOUR approach…” and, ” You start by development of this bad habbit in your course the Grandmaster’s Secrest…”. If you believe that you are not progressing using Igors courses then turn your attention to something or someone else. You mentioned IM Daniel Rensch. Maybe if you use IM Daniel Rensch courses to learn chess, maybe you will get the answers you have been looking for and your play may improve. However why learn from an International Master when you can learn from a Grand Master? Good luck Lovro…

    2. Hi Lovro,

      GM Igor has already answered to you about a very similar question. Here is his answer.

      “Hi Lovro,

      It’s good that you strive to analyze the principles and apply them methodically!

      As other guys already replied to you in their comments, chess is a very complex game. You can create a list with hundreds of chess rules, which will cover most of the situations (still there will be exceptions) – but how will you apply it practically?

      Based on my own experience, and the experience of thousands of my students, the principles you find in the courses do work. True, it generalises and simplifies the situation a little. It will NOT be enough for you to following the principles from “The GM’s Positional Understanding” course to become a 2600+ player. However, following the principles can help you beat your current opponents, and gain +300 rating points (which happened to many students already).

      Finally, if you run a computer engine, after 1.d4-d5 engine gives equal evaluation to 2.Nc3 and 2.c4. So, 2.Nc3 is a perfectly fine now. Similarly, in Ruy Lopes (1.e4-e5 2.Nf3-Nc6 3.Bb5 etc) – computer prefers Nc3 to pawn move c3.

      Often times in an opening White plays moves that are NOT the best objectively, but helps avoiding simmetrical positions, where draw is a more likely result.

      I can write much more explanations but this will only confuse you. Just follow the principles you study in the courses instead and you’ll win many games. “Just do it!” :)”

      Prasaadh | Support Officer

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