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: http://thechessworld.com/learn-chess/18-general-information/288-20-websites-that-will-make-you-a-better-chess-player

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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6UtU78pAgc

US Chess Queen

There is an article, “The Queen Within Opens in Saint Louis,” by Jennifer Shahade on the USCF website. http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12393/343/
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 uschess.org/clo, 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.” https://www.stlbeacon.org/#!/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: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2013-10-11/machines-gauging-your-star-potential-automate-hr-hiring.html 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,” (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12378/729/) 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. (http://www.kingpinchess.net/2013/10/elisabeth-paehtz-20-questions/)
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: http://www.earthfiles.com/
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.

Rick

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!

Rick

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.