FM William Stewart’s Website Tops The List!

An article by Yury Markushin on The Chess World website, 20 Websites That Will Make You a Better Player has the Online Chess Lessons website of FM Willaim Stewart topping the list! OK, I noticed the disclaimer, “Note: the websites are not organized in order by their significance,” but I know William. He is from and currently resides in the Great State of Georgia. He is also the only person I asked who consented to an online interview and actually followed though with it. He is a likeable fellow, a fine chess player, and evidently an excellent chess teacher. I would have mentioned this if his website had been last on the list. Check out the other websites that made the list here:

The Book on Bobby Fischer

While perusing books at the library I noticed a book titled, Jewish Jocks: An Unorthodox Hall of Fame, edited by Franklin Foer, editor of the magazine, The New Republic, and Mark Tracy. As I took the book from the shelf I could not help but reflect upon a former friend who gave up chess, Mike “Maddog” Gordon, and his collection of Jewish baseball players he called his, “Hammerin’ Hebes.” I flipped through the book and noticed the essay about the famous first baseman, Hank Greenberg. He had come close to breaking the home run record held by Babe Ruth and many Jewish writers had written that the gentile pitchers colluded against Hank, walking him in lieu of throwing him pitches he could possibly hit out of the park. I recalled reading something about the book when it first appeared in 2012. Hank said that was not true, so I sat down to read the essay. Then I saw a picture of Al Rosen, the third baseman for the Cleveland Indians, and one of the best ballplayers ever until he hurt his back. I read that, too. Upon turning the pages I was astounded to see a striking lithograph of Bobby Fischer which accompanied a piece titled, “The Unnatural.” It was written by Jonathan Safran Foer, brother of Franklin, and an author of some repute, having published “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” in 2005, a book recently made into a movie starring Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock I thought it strange to include Bobby in a book of Jewish jocks. Although the essay was short, only five pages, I decided to check it out, wondering how Bobby would be written about by one of those he so reviled.
The piece begins, “A Jew wrote The Natural, but has there ever been a natural Jew? Free-spiritedness, joie de vivre, ease in the world-these are not what we do. We do scrappiness, resilience, hard work, self-questioning, self-consciousness, self-destruction, and unflappable will. This applies especially to our athletes, many of whom were not given the best of genetic toolboxes. Most great Jewish athletes have at least this in common: they overcome God’s gifts.
Not a jock, and not a Jew by any definition richer than heredity, Bobby Fischer was the quintessential Jewish Jock. He worked harder than any of his peers. He attempted to conceal his insecurity behind an ego built for twenty, and his self-love behind self-hatred behind self-love. And perhaps more than any human who has ever lived, he kvetched: the board is too reflective, the presence of breathing humans too distracting, the high-frequency sounds-which only he and Pomeranians could detect-made game play utterly impossible. Some loved him for his loony obstinacy. Most didn’t.”
He writes about Bobby the Jew, whether or not Bobby wanted to be considered a Jew. “Like a good Jewish boy, he outworked his peers and brought the A home to Mama. And like a good Jewish boy, he couldn’t stand Mama-her politics, priorities, relationship to money, of religion.” I wonder if this fellow would have written that if he had read the recent books about Bobby, such as Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall, by Frank Brady, and The Greatest Secret of Bobby Fischer, by Nenad Nesh Stankovic. From these books one learns how much Bobby loved his mother.
There is another book about Bobby I will mention, A Psychobiography of Bobby Fischer: Understanding the Genius, mystery, and Psychological Decline of a World Chess Champion, by Joseph G. Ponterotto, Ph.D. This expensive book (I paid $35 and it is now selling on the Gorilla for over $50), an exercise in futility, proves the old axiom of Ph.D. meaning, “Piled Higher and Deeper.” I will only say that upon finishing the book, I felt ripped off. The book by Nesh, in contrast, is much cheaper and would still be “cheap at twice the price.” Nesh was introduced to Bobby before the second match with Boris Spassky (who does come off too well, offering to lose intentionally if enough money was involved) as “…the person who would take care of his most immediate security.” Nesh writes about a dinner during the final days of his job in which the “…working hours extended to all twenty-four…”
“Bobby said to me, “You know, Nesh,” that’s what he called me, “you’re the only person to spend so much time with me.” Then he looked over at Philippine Grandmaster Eugene Torre and Hungarian-American player of the old school, Pal Benko who were keeping us company that evening, and he burst into laughter and added, “I mean, the only one who lasted that long.” He continued by adding the story of his “strange” friend Sam Sloan with whom he cruised Manhattan for six months, covering every inch of the heart of New York. They spent time together every day during that period, but then “poor Sam” disappeared without a trace. I liked the story, but I did not feel like laughing, because I myself was fairly worn out and exhausted after something more than a year with him.” Nesh portrays Bobby as he was during the year plus he spent with him. His book can be considered the “practice” part while the book by the pointy-headed intellectual, who never even met Bobby, can be considered the “theory.” The book by the Ph.D. is cold, distant and dry. The book by Nesh is sometimes warm and tender, while also being brutal and bitter. The book by Nesh is human and the best book on Bobby thus far. The book by the Ph.D. could have been written by a computer program.
Mr. Foer prints some of the diatribes Bobby broadcast from DZSR Sports Radio in Manilla, culminating with, “It’s time to start randomly killing Jews.” Mr. Foer then asks, “With Jews like this, who needs Nazi’s?” This is followed by, “His girlfriend at the time excused his behavior thusly: “He’s like a child. Very, very simple.” Consider that for a moment…The greatest chess player of all-time being thought of by someone who knew him intimately as a simpleton.
Mr. Foer continues, “Or perhaps chess is an inherently paranoid game, and anti-Semitism is the paradigm of paranoids. The most obvious explanation would be that he had experienced some kind of psychic break. Whatever the cause, he had left the fold of mainstream humanity, and despite whatever lingering chess abilities he might have had-his 1992 rematch with Boris Spassky, after twenty years out of public view, was at best uninspired-he was universally reviled.”
Mr. Foer is wrong. According to Frank Brady, a better case can be made that Bobby was afflicted with the same mental illness attributed to his natural father, Paul Nemenyi, which only manifested later in his life, as it did with Bobby, who possibly inherited the genes from his father. Bobby Fisher should therefore be pitied, not reviled.
Mr. Foer’s essay ends a question, “What do we do with the unnatural mind? Praise it when it’s beautiful, excuse it when it’s ugly? Or should we write off the unnatural mind in all cases? Should we put it on a pedestal to observe, in a cage to protect ourselves from it-put it in a book?”

GM Nigel Short Questions Andrew Paulson, Agon and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov

There is an interview with GM Nigel Short by WGM Maria Manakova of Serbia on You Tube that should be watched by any and everyone who cares about the Royal game. It is difficult for me to believe the interview has only been seen by a few thousand viewers.
The always outspoken GM Short has many questions about the current state of affairs in the world of chess. For example, he says, “The real question for me is Andrew Paulson’s exact relationship with Kirsan Ilyumzhinov.” Nigel asks, “Who owns Agon?” He says, “It is a company that’s supposed to make payments to FIDE but has not been doing…” Then he asks, “Why is a company that is in breech with FIDE allowed to continue with FIDE?” Nigel uses words like immoral and illegal while questioning FIDE. When asked whom he intends on supporting for President of FIDE in the coming election, he says, “I am the delegate of England and will support Kasparov.” He adds, “The vast majority of chess players in England do not like Ilyumzhinov.” Nigel could have substituted the word “world” for “England.”
I strongly urge anyone reading this to watch the eight and a half minute interview, which can be found here:

US Chess Queen

There is an article, “The Queen Within Opens in Saint Louis,” by Jennifer Shahade on the USCF website.
I began the third sentence, “As I wrote in the Beacon…,” and stopped to click on the link in order to read the earlier published article in the St. Louis newspaper. The Beacon article, “On Chess: Hall of Fame exhibit focuses on the power of the queen,” begins, “You may want to try a more subdued red,” the hairstylist told me. “It will work better for the office.” Obviously I never went to that salon again. Luckily I don’t need toned down style to edit articles for, arrange wacky photo and video shoots, play poker tournaments, or do commentary for the Sinquefield Cup. To the contrary, fire engine red pops very well on camera. As my brother IM Greg Shahade wrote recently in his blog, the life of a chess player affords an unusual degree of freedom.”!/content/33286/on_chess_fashion_101713?coverpage=4159
I focused on the words, “…the life of a chess player…” She is obviously a busy woman judging from the list of things she does, but I see nothing about actually playing the game of chess in the list. I clicked on the “players & ratings” section of the USCF website and typed in her name. Jennifer has played in only one real tournament since 2004! She participated in the St. John’s Masters at the Marshall Chess Club in 2008. The next year her page shows she played in a ten minute tournament that was quick rated and that is all, folks. For all intents and purposes, the lady has retired from playing chess. Yet we learn in the penultimate sentence that, “When I begin my stint as GM-in-residence on Oct. 20, I signed on to also lead “Queen Power” workshops and Thursday night Ladies Chess classes at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.” Jennifer is not a Grandmaster. She is a Life Master with a USCF rating floor of 2200. She is though, according to FIDE, a “Woman Grandmaster.” For a male to earn a GM title his rating must be at least 2500. Why are women different? Helen Milligan of New Zealand, in an email exchange, mentioned she was opposed to separate titles for women.
Getting back to the aforementioned sentence, it continues after, “As I wrote in the Beacon, a major point of the show is to attract more girls to our game, through “Queen Power” initiatives.”
There have been many “initiatives” recently trying to attract more girls, and more boys, for that matter, but what about the segment that has turned its back on chess, the adults? After what has become known as the “Fischer boom” the number of members stabilized at around 70,000, the vast majority of whom were adults. Maybe 6 out of 7 were adults. It is still 6 out of 7, but those comprising the group of 60,000 are CHILDREN! Imagine for a moment if USCF had kept the 60,000 adults while attracting an additional 60,000 children. Now imagine what the number would be today if USCF had been able to add an additional ten percent to each group since the Fischer boom. The number boggles the mind. I am like Robert F. Kennedy who said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why..I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” I make absolutely no apology for being the same way. USCF would be a much larger, and stronger, organization if there had only been one driving force with the vision of a RFK in lieu of the visionless leaders with which USCF has been saddled.

Chess Has Been Fukushimaed

Decades ago I worked at the Oxford bookstore on Peachtree Street in the part of Atlanta called Buckhead. Although I did not make much money- no one does working at a bookstore-it was a wonderful job because of the people with whom I associated. Book lovers are special people. The first book on computers to appear was special. It was brought from the back room and passed around. A discussion about the section in which it should be placed ensued. Soon there were so many books on computers the owner, Rupert LeCraw, had carpenters come in to build an upstairs to contain the technology section, along with a coffee shop, making our bookstore the first in the South with one. The books were catalogued by index card until Rupert purchased a computer system. He obtained a low price because part of the deal was to allow the company to use his system to sell other systems to prospective buyers. It was named “Duet” but we came to call it the “Mongrel.” It was down at least as much as it was up, and seemed to go down before it was to be shown, as if it knew people were coming. “That thing has a mind of its own,” manager Mike would say. Rupert had signed an agreement whereby the only people who could repair the Mongrel were from the company from whom he bought the thing. Mike and I began to read the computer books arriving daily on our off time. We both had thoughts of going into the computer field. One of the books I read was, “Computer Power and Human Reason,” by Joseph Weizenbaum, a professor emeritus at MIT. It was an extremely influential book in which a man who had devoted his life to computers basically said the advent of computers would be the demise of freedom and we should take sledgehammers to all computers. Ok, I am paraphrasing somewhat. Actually, he said computers should not be allowed to make decisions because they lacked human qualities such as compassion and wisdom. For that reason I find the move toward allowing drones to make decisions frightening. Every day there are articles concerning a program making decisions that earlier were made by a human. For example, check this out: After reading the book Mike and I would have stimulating arguments. Mike did go into the computer field while I stayed away from computers until this century.
While reading the article by Irina Krush on the USCF website, “Water From a Stone,” ( something she wrote caused me to stop and reflect on the above. Irina wrote, “This put me in the leaders group, and I was paired with the top seed, Evgeni Alekseev in round three. I played rather naively in the opening, took a dangerous pawn, ran into his computer-assisted knowledge of the line, and was crushed very aesthetically.”
How does she know her opponent’s knowledge was “computer-assisted?” She does not say. Could it be Irina assumes his knowledge was obtained through the use of a computer? It could be her opponent had spent the previous evening acquiring the knowledge used against her in something as antiquated as a, dare I say, book!
Back in the day there was a player, IM Bernard Zukerman, known as “Zuke the Book.” It was always said, and written, in derogatory terms, as if being a “book” player meant one’s understanding came from being “booked-up,” not from having talent. Many players were known for being a “book” player then, but poor Bernard had the misfortune of having a name that could be made to rhyme with the dreaded word, “book.” Nowadays everyone is a ’puted-up player. I recall an interview with GM Vladimir Kramnik in which he posited chess was much more difficult at the top level now because one had to spend so much time using a computer for analysis because the opponent was doing the same, whereas in the past one could rely on things like judgment and intuition. Now every player has to be a “Pete the ‘Pute” to survive.
I read an interview with IM Elizabeth Paehtz on the Kingpin website. (
Her answer to the question, “Which single thing would most improve the global chess scene?” is interesting:
“Probably to abandon all engines and chess software and play chess like in former times, when real strength and understanding counted and not who did the most precise home preparation with the help of engines. These engines are even more destructive nowadays as the problem of cheating has increased drastically. In Germany there have been two recent cases involving rather young players and that’s quite sad.”
This is usually the kind of answer given by a player from the previous generation, not someone as young as Elizabeth. For example, in answer to the question posed in New in Chess 2009/3, “If you could change one thing in the chess world, what would it be?” GM Vlastimil Hort answered, “I would strictly expel and forbid all computers. Using them is a surrender of the human brain.”
Unfortunately, now that the genie known as computer is out of the bottle, it can never be put back. Chess programs can be regarded in the same way I view nuclear power. They both come at a cost, and the price is far too high. Another book I read over a quarter of a century ago has a profound influence, “Forevermore: Nuclear Waste in America”, by Donald Bartlett and James Steele. There was no way to dispose of the byproduct of the so-called “cheap” energy produced then, and there is no way to dispose of it now. The fools who brought it online in the 1950’s, without giving We the People a choice in the matter told us that although there was no way of disposing of the waste, they were so brilliant they would eventually figure out a way to get rid of the dangerous stuff. It turns out we have been “Fukushimaed.” “Nobody really knows how to solve the problems at Fukushima.
There is nobody who has solutions. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented.
…There is no solution that other countries have to come in and fix the
reactors, or rather, shut down the contamination, shut down the leaks.” – Robert Jacobs, Historian, Hiroshima Peace Institute
Fukushima Farmers Protest Growing Food
in “Decontaminated” Soil That’s Still Radioactive.
“We won’t eat it ourselves, but we sell it.”
Earthfiles Gulf Resident’s Email September 9, 2013: “I just watched the video you posted (above) about the Fukushima farmers selling contaminated food. This is exactly what has happened to the Gulf Coast fishermen after the BP oil spill, who are still having to sell contaminated seafood in order to make a living. Seafood coming out of the Gulf is still unhealthy. Shrimp is … hideous with mutations, but no public officials want to admit it for fear of ruining the seafood trade in the Gulf. Most of the crab fishermen have gone out of business because there are NO CRABS to fish. Don’t hear anything about that, do you? It is being suppressed in the news media. … I just wanted to say that the Fukushima farmer in the video could easily be a Southeast Louisiana fisherman – same words, same anger, same grief.”-The above is taken from Linda Moulton Howe’s excellent website:
In a sense one could say chess has been Fukushimaed by the advent of the chess program. Like it or not it is a fact that the nuclear waste created over the last half century plus must be dealt with, and the brilliant minds that foisted the devil upon us still have absolutely no idea how to dispose of the agent of death. The waste at Fukushima will be the demise of We the People. If those holding the reins of power in the chess world do not find a way to deal with the byproduct of what has come to be called “engines,” the game of chess will be destroyed before human beings are destroyed by nuclear waste.

The GCA Check Is In the Mail

I received this email from Richard Jones last month:
Sep 14
Michael, I was wondering if you or anyone you know has tried to register for the Georgia Senior Open. The online site only lets non-residents enter and there is no info about mailing in an entry. I guess I’ll just register on site. As usual, there doesn’t appear to be much effort to publicize or promote the tournament.


This was my reply:

Hey buddy! I, along with everyone I know, will not be playing. It is basically the same format as last year, when only 9 players came. I will have a post concerning the Ga, and the upcoming NC Senior later in the week. I must say that I find it uproariously funny that the only people who can enter are the players from out of state who will not be coming! Why should they? They are not eligible for the top prize and who in their right mind would pay $45 to play for, what, a little over a hundred bucks? Keep in mind GM Zapata is a Senior and he should win the stipend. I see the F.I.P.s have delayed the start of the first round in order for all those out of state players who will not come to drive in! It’s He-larry-us!!!

Richard replied: Thanks for the response. I missed it last year for some reason. I didn’t realize there were only 9 players! Maybe I’ll go up there and play, maybe not.
And I responded: Read my next two posts on the AW before you decide.

Upon checking the results I learned Richard had not only played, but won the U1800 section of the Georgia Senior! Any win, in any section, at any age, is a BIG win, but especially so when one becomes a Senior, for obvious reasons. I heard from Richard again yesterday, October 17, when he sent this disconcerting email:

Yes, there are problems with the GCA. I should have taken your advice and not played in the Senior. I thought it was strange that they wouldn’t pay prize money on site but were going to mail it instead. I wonder if they are really going to mail out prizes. It’s been almost three weeks. If $1800 is “chicken feed” to them, I would think they could afford the small prize money!


Richard should not have to wait three days, much less three weeks, or longer, to receive his prize check. It is well known that Bill Goichberg, as an example, has been known to sit long into the night making out prize checks for the winners of CCA tournaments. I have absolutely no idea who is responsible for this delay or if this is only a single, isolated case or if none of the checks have been mailed.
I urge someone, anyone, from the GCA board to leave a comment on this blog, or to send me an email which I will publish. Richard deserves to know why he has yet to be paid, as do all other members of the Georgia chess community.

GCA President Rejects Scholarship Offer

Kevin Schmuggerow is the new owner of the North Georgia Chess Center. I have yet to meet him because his Chess Center is really north of the metro area. He is a reader of this blog. Yesterday an email was received from Mr. Schmuggerow. I believe it should be shared with the Georgia chess community. Because Kevin benefited from a chess scholarship in Illinois years ago he had the idea to fund a scholarship here. He sent his idea to Katie Hartley, a member of the GCA board.
On Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 7:48 PM, Kevin Schmuggerow wrote:

I hope all is going well with Scholastic Chess.

I was thinking ways to fund a scholarship program. I’m kicking around the idea of raising my entry fees by $1.00 to be set aside for scholarships. If I have 150 players a month, that would raise $1,800 a year.
Your feedback is appreciated!”


Kevin Schmuggerow
North Georgia Chess Center
2450 Atlanta Highway, Suite 201
Cumming GA, 30040
(770) 844-9204”

This was the reply from Katie Hartley:

“On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 2:05 PM, Katie Hartley wrote:
It is a nice idea and I’m copying Fun on this so he can add it to the board agenda when next we meet. the GCA has also talked about seeking out sponsors for something like this. i think at the very least we could put on the website a place to make donations specifically for scholastic scholarships.


Katie did copy Fun Fong, the President of the GCA board and this was his response:

From: Fun Fong []
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 2:43 PM
To: Katie Hartley
Cc: Kevin Schmuggerow
Subject: Re: Scholastic Chess

“Katie and Kevin,

It’s an OK idea, but the real thing to do is to FIND SPONSORS!!!! That’s how we get real money for scholarships. This stuff you’re getting is chicken feed and we’re harvesting off (taxing) our own audience to do this. I’m not crazy about this idea. GCA needs to find 2 people to go to UPS, FedEx, Coke, Home Depot, Chick-fil-A, etc and make a polished presentation of what we would do scholarship wise with $10K or 20K. There are a TON of big companies that could potentially help and it really only takes ONE.


Chicken feed? This must have come as a cold slap in the face to Kevin. I was shocked upon reading this email. Mr. Schmuggerow magnanimously offered a plan to fund a scholarship through the GCA and was not only rebuffed, but ridiculed! The next email is from a man who can be only be considered a true gentleman:

On Fri, Sep 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM, Kevin Schmuggerow wrote:


I apologize.

I know that my $1,800 is not close to $10,000 or $20,000, it was just meant as a gesture to help.”

Kevin Schmuggerow
North Georgia Chess Center
2450 Atlanta Highway, Suite 201
Cumming GA, 30040
(770) 844-9204”

How does the President of the Georgia Chess Association respond to such magnanimity?

From: Fun Fong []
Sent: Friday, September 13, 2013 4:21 PM
To: Kevin Schmuggerow
Cc: Katie Hartley
Subject: Re: Scholastic Chess

You sentiments are good and well-intended. Katie knows me better, and knows that I am both ambitious and impatient in our efforts. I just think that our efforts really need to be directed towards some corporate funding. After a Communications Director, the GCA should find two people who can start looking for funding. We also need to start up our long-range planning group to figure out how to use a windfall like that.
My sense is that adult chess players in our current demographic are some of the biggest cheapskates in the world! I hope to change that demographic over time. Getting any money from them, is problematic. Scholastics is better, but I just think we should be looking towards other sources of funding. That’s really the only way that progress in the state will become palpably different.”
Best wishes,

Best wishes, indeed. I can only say these emails provide a startling glimpse into the mind of the President of the GCA, Fun Fong. Make of them what you will.

Georgia Chess News

The original purpose of this blog was to write mainly about chess in Georgia. I have received inquiries as to why I have not written more about local chess activities. Scholastic chess predominates and I wanted to focus on what was formerly called “chess,” but is now called “adult chess.” The only tournaments exclusively for adults are Senior events. Children proliferate at “adult” tournaments here and in the US. Yet tournaments consisting of mainly children are called “adult” tournaments. Go figure…I recently noticed an announcement in the local Decatur Dispatch for a chess club at the Tucker library on the second and fourth Tuesday evenings in which it is stated, “No children. Please.” Make of it what you will. I find it rather sad that chess has been so completely overwhelmed by children that anyone would print something like this, but such is the reality of the situation.
Dr. Cano left a comment to my post, “Booming Interest in Amateur Chess.” He also asked me the same question via email some time ago. His question is, “Where are the chess tournaments that we used to have here in Georgia?” This is a good question. Unfortunately I cannot answer it. I will, though, ask any member of the GCA board, or anyone else who can answer the question to leave a comment on this post, or send me an email I can publish. Dr. Cano, and many others who ask the same question, deserve an answer. These are the kinds of things discussed on the forum of other states, such as North Carolina. Those in control of the GCA have chosen to not have a forum. One can only wonder why the pooh-bahs refuse to allow their members to express their views.
I would like to direct anyone interested to the GCA website,, where it has been announced that the 2014 Georgia Chess Championship will be held May 2-4 at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest, 200 Interstate North Parkway SE • Atlanta, Georgia 30339. Since it is a Marriott, I do not have to tell you this is a tremendous upgrade from an empty space at a Mall in decline. Backgammon tournaments have previously been held at this hotel. The recent unrated tournament for children was held at this very hotel. I will leave the efficacy of the GCA holding an unrated tournament for rated players to others interested in the chess of children.
I have had several chess coaches tell me recently that the real battle these days is in the middle school because by the time children reach high school they have lost interest in chess. This was confirmed by the turnout for the above mentioned tournament, where there were only fourteen players in the top section consisting of grades 6-12, but thirty-five in the K-5 section and sixty in the K-3 group. There were an additional twenty-five in the K-1 section. This tournament is a vivid illustration of what USCF President Ruth Haring has said about the mass exodus of children from organized chess around age eleven. It would appear puberty is killing chess. For those interested, the results can be found on the GCA website at:
I have chosen to eschew writing about local events in order to be kind. A tournament I mentioned in an earlier post, “10th Annual Georgia Senior Open” (, something called the “GCA Combined,” included the Senior tournament. It has been jokingly said this event was the Georgia response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival. If I were writing for one of the so-called “fair and balanced” extremist networks I would write, “There was a huge percentage increase in the turn-out for the 2013 Georgia Senior Chess Championship.” I prefer to tell it like it is and say that only fourteen players participated this year, five more than last year. There were only five players in the Open section, barely enough for a four round tournament. Last year’s Senior champion, Alan Piper, decided to play in the one day G/45 in lieu of defending his championship. This is a scathing indictment of the tournament and of those in control of the GCA. Former Senior Champion Chris Ferrante and Van Vandivier tied for first, scoring 3 out of 4. Captain Jeff Kidd finished clear third half a point behind. Richard Jones finished clear first in the second section with 3 ½ points, followed by Stephen Yancey with 3. I have written previously the tournament should be a true Open, with only one section. Once again, the small turnout proved my point. The results could be found on the GCA website, but it appears they have been removed. If one is interested in the results of the other events held at an empty space in a Mall that has seen better days, go to the USCF website:,com_wrapper/Itemid,181/
The Georgia Open took place this weekend at Emory University. A total of sixty-four players, appropriately enough, entered the event that had been limited to no more than two hundred fifty. The song by Arrowsmith, “Dream On,” just entered my brain, for some reason. GM Alonso Zapate (2575) and LM Chris Mabe (2326), from the Great State of North Carolina, drew their last round game to tie for first place along with class “A” player Jinseok Kim (1963). Mr. Kim drew his first game then ripped off four in a row, including an upset of Expert Donny Gray in the last round. Five players tied for 4-8 with four points. They were, NM Michael Corallo; Expert Reese Thompson; class “A” Nicholas Williams; class “B” Shanmukha Meruga; and class “D” Ingrid Guo. Only five of the sixty-four players participating in this tournament were from other states. That is only 8%! When Dr. Cano asks why we do not have tournaments like we used to have here in Atlanta, I believe a large part of what he means is that at one time out of state players comprised a large percentage of players at our tournaments. There is a reason they refuse to come to the capital of the South to play chess. To have tournaments like we had “back in the day,” it is imperative the GCA has tournaments in which players from other states want to participate.
The crosstable can be found at the GCA website:
The 2013 Georgia Class Championships, dedicated to Ruben Shocron, will be held at Emory beginning Friday night, November 22, a day that will live in infamy. Maybe consideration should have been given to naming it the “JFK Memorial,” for obvious reasons. Details can be found, once again, on the GCA website.
It would seem the GCA website is beginning to shed its “moribund” state. While researching IM Carlos Perdomo for an interview that never materialized I found a group of interviews on YouTube, including one with Carlos, as well as other players like LM Chris Mabe, GM John Fedorowicz, GM Julio Becerra, IM Jonathan Schroer, and others, by the President of the GCA, Fun Fong. This is the kind of thing that should be accessible on the GCA website. Check them out at:
Finally, it has been reported that Keith Sewell has left the GCA board. There have been rumors of dissension and rancor among board members for some time, with the possibility of other disillusioned members possibly leaving in the near future. I can only hope the GCA gets its act together, listens to wizened members of the community such as the esteemed former President Scott Parker, the eminence grise of Georgia chess, and otherrespected members, like Michael Mulford, and decides to give players the kind of tournaments they want, and deserve, in lieu of ramming down their throats tournaments they refuse to attend.

Booming Interest in Amateur Chess?

I was given a gift of a coffee mug with the logo of the Economist magazine. It was filled with java at a Borders bookstore as I awaited a student when a young fellow walked over after seeing the mug. He began talking to me as if I were an arch conservative. I mostly nodded and grinned, preferring at that time to not engage the fellow in a political discussion. Every time I saw the man after that he would smile and say hello. I always feared the offer of some kind of secret handshake to which I would not know how to respond. Fortunately, it was not forthcoming. My conservative friends find some of my views too liberal; my liberal friends think me too conservative.
Because of the upcoming World Championship there is an article about chess in the latest edition of the Economist magazine. The title is, “Professional chess has a chequered history. Fans hope to revive it.” The article comes sans byline, at least in the online edition. It is written that, “Match organizers see a chance to turn a struggling sport into a global brand.” Good luck with that…
The article continues, “Time was when the world stopped for professional chess. Millions watched Bobby Fischer, an American, beat the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in 1972. In the 1990s a pair of matches between Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue, a computer, recaptured some of that suspense. Yet despite booming interest in the amateur game, top-level chess has become obscure again, hobbled by squabbles and eccentric leadership.”
Come on, get real! The so-called “matches” Kasparov played versus the computer program captured none of the suspense of the Fischer-Spassky match! This is what happens when someone who was probably not alive in 1972 writes about chess. I started playing tournament chess in 1970 and am here to tell you the excitement was palpable. I have experienced nothing remotely similar since that time. Chess was in the news and on the minds of almost everyone in the world. All of a sudden it was “cool” to play chess, and I was no longer considered “weird” for playing the Royal game. Chess sets were everywhere and hardly a party I attended did not see people playing a game. The only “suspense” in the series of games between Deep Blue and Kasparov was how much bigger a fool the later would make of himself as the games continued. With the last game debacle Kasparov went out with a whimper. The “bang” was created when he made an ass of himself. Chess has never recovered from the damage done to the game by the human player known as Kasparov. When someone learns I play and teach chess they ask, “Why? I thought chess ended when that machine beat the Russian. What was his name?” Mostly they recall Kasparov’s histrionics and “sour grapes” attitude, along with the fact that he was the human that lost to a machine. People still write that Kasparov was “the greatest of all-time,” but the simple fact is that he will always and forever be known for losing to a machine. It overshadows everything he accomplished in the world of chess. There was a time when people talked in hushed tones about the possibility Kasparov took a dive in the series of games with Deep Blue. Now people speak of it overtly.
The article can be considered as gauge of public opinion concerning the state of chess today. Perception is reality and the perception is best illustrated by the following, “Critics gripe about mercurial decision-making within FIDE. The sport’s governing body gets by on some $2m a year (FIFA, football’s federation, spent more than $1 billion in 2012) and has had only two presidents in 31 years. Its boss since 1995 has been Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who also ran Kalmykia, one of Russia’s poorest regions, until 2010. That year Mr Ilyumzhinov said he was once contacted by aliens; in 2011 he played chess with Muammar Qaddafi.”
The perception meets reality when it comes to the official chess body of the world, FIDE, being led by a nut-job.
Then there is this, “A deeper challenge is that watching chess is less fun than playing it. A single game can last six hours; its most riveting moment may be a strategic nuance known as the Yugoslav variation on the Sicilian. “Good chess leads to draws,” says Maurice Ashley, an American grandmaster. Mr Ashley believes that new game and tournament formats could attract a wider audience. Competitors in blitz chess must finish their games in half an hour. Matches lasting minutes make popular footage online. Yet many players resist fast games, arguing that they reward low-quality chess. FIDE’s enthusiasm for shorter championships in the 1990s and 2000s prolonged the professional game’s split.”
I wrote recently about Jude Acers pontificating at length a quarter of a century ago about how quick games would revolutionize chess, putting money in every master’s pocket. The only thing that has put money in the pockets of master’s, and far too many who know too little about the game, is teaching chess to children, who then give up the game around puberty.
I was eating at one of my favorite spots, the Mediterranean Grill, while wearing a Chicago Open Tee-shirt from 2002. The owner, Sam Moussa, walked over and began a conversation about chess, telling me he had lived in Chicago for a couple of decades before moving to the South. “Chess is getting younger,” Sam said, before walking away. The people know. Back in the early seventies there were the same number of members of the USCF as now, except the vast majority of them were adults. Now the vast majority are children. The proliferation of children has driven most adults away from the game. There is a pronounced disparity in the ages of the competitors one can see at any large tournament. The players are either very young or very old. So-called “adult” tournaments consist of mostly children. Seniors comprise the second largest group, and they are leaving the chess world every day, because death happens. When Bobby beat Boris in 1972 the percentage of children playing in “adult” tournaments was miniscule, with only the very best children challenging the elders. Chess is now perceived, rightly, as a game for children.
The thing about being fortunate enough to grow older is one can see, upon reflection, the changes that have taken place in our world. It is common for anyone to think the way things are now is the way they have always been. Such is not the case, and especially in the world of chess. Most, if not all, of those coming into the chess world today have no clue as to how much the world of chess has changed. If all of those children who have come into the chess world had stayed I would be writing of what a huge success the move toward the United States Scholastic Chess Federation has been. Unfortunately, it has not. Statistics prove beyond any doubt that not enough children stay with chess to justify what has transpired in the world of chess. Yet, like the Republicans who still continue to advocate trickle-down economics when it has been proven in practice to work only for the very few at the top of the economic ladder, the chess F.I.P.s (Fools In Power) continue their “In for a penny, in for a pound,” moves on the chess board, even when faced with statistics proving it has not previously worked. They continue to advocate speeding up the time controls when the evidence shows it has only served to drive adult players, and members, out of the game. Even sadder is the fact that the F.I.P.s has done little for the second largest segment of members, Seniors. Granted, the latter group pales in comparison to the hefty numbers of spuds, but still Seniors do constitute the second largest group in number. What goes for Senior chess in this country is basically an insult to Seniors. Or, as one fellow Senior put it, “Senior chess in the USCF is a joke!”