We take a break from the ongoing book review before the final installment appears, hopefully, soon.
After posting on October 29 I read the venerable New York Times the old fashioned way and had ink stains on my hands to prove it. I regularly read the Paul Krugman column as I have done for who knows how many years now. There was another op-ed on the opposite of the page, Trump Got Booed. Can I Smile? written by Jennifer Weiner. It begins, “Most weeks my Mondays unfold in a well-practiced routine: brush teeth, wash face, walk dog. This morning, I added a new step: spend 15 minutes scrolling through Twitter to see whether anyone had synced that delicious footage of President Trump’s face falling on Sunday — as the World Series crowd is booing him — with the R.E.M. song “Everybody Hurts.”
That particular song never entered my mind. The one that did enter my mind was published that day. I made a mental note to check out the lyrics to the song and finally got around to it today.
There was another applicable op-ed by one of the regular op-ed writers, Michelle Goldberg, titled, In Praise of ‘Human Scum’. I took it for granted it pertained to the scummy human currently residing in the Oval Office, located inside the White House. Donald Scumbag Trump called the People’s House, “A real dump.” (https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-the-white-house-is-a-real-dump) It was never a dump until Donald J. Dumpster entered the House. Michelle begins her op-ed:
“I’m often incredulous at Republican servility to Donald Trump. I’ve struggled to understand how people who’ve spent a lifetime chest-beating about patriotism can be so willing to burn liberal democracy to the ground to protect a man they wouldn’t trust to sell them a used car.”
Donald Dumpster is no aberration. The Dumpster Trumpster IS the personification of the Republican party. The Republican party has been circling the drain for decades. Donald PoppinJay Trump was the one who finally led the Republican party down the drain.
There should no longer be a Republican political party. The Republicans should be consigned to the Dumpster, never to see the light of day again in the way the German Nazi party was forced to hide, like roaches, in dark places. That is because Republicans are ‘Human Scumbags’ on their better days. On other days they are simply ‘scum’. I have come to think of Republicans as “scummy bears.” They continue to win elections by rigging the vote and making if as difficult as possible, if not impossible, for certain Americans to vote. Why would anyone who believes in democracy vote for any Republican? The only people who continue to vote for Republicans are the kind of people who would have felt comfortable at a Nazi rally listening to Adolph Hitler spew his vitriol. Keep the aliens; send the Republicans back, or to Hell, so they can stop hurting We The People.
Produced by R.E.M. & Scott Litt
Album: Automatic for the People
When the day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you’re sure you’ve had enough
Of this life, well, hang on
Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts
Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it’s time to sing along
When your day is night alone (Hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go (Hold on)
If you think you’ve had too much
Of this life, well, hang on
‘Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
And everybody hurts
Don’t throw your hand
Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone
No, no, no, you’re not alone
If you’re on your own in this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you’ve had too much
Of this life to hang on
Well, everybody hurts
Sometimes, everybody cries
And everybody hurts
And everybody hurts
So, hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
Hold on, hold on
No, no, no, no, no, you’re not alone
Although interesting I must admit to being somewhat disappointed because there is little Chess contained in the book. I was fascinated because Marcel renounced art for Chess. When it comes to Duchamp most Chess players will immediately think about the iconic photograph of Marcel playing Chess with a nude woman, Eve Babitz. Although similar, this is mot the picture to which I refer:
“There are those moments when you’re aware that your human programming is a little defective. You become acquainted with the possibility that you’ve been designed to pursue insane commitments directly opposed to your survival. In these moments, when you feel like you need to call God on His private line and demand a refund for what He personally placed in you cranial cavity, it’s sometimes reassuring to remember that you’re probably not alone.”
“Given the number of people who have lived and died, there’s usually someone, alive or otherwise, whose faults resemble your own. For this reason, I often seek consolation in the story of Marcel Duchamp,
a man whose chess problem was a lot like mine, but dialed up to an implausible intensity.”
“You probably know Duchamp’s work, or have at least heard of him. Duchamp is considered one of the most important artists of the twentieth century, a reputation he established by infuriating people.”
“Duchamp is both loved and loathed – celebrated as the man who freed artists from their old constraints, and vilified by the people who thought those constraints were a good idea.”
Duchamp, my man!
In a 1952 interview with Time magazine, he said, “It (Chess) has all the beauty of art – and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.”
That was, two years after I was born, and this is now. In a futile attempt to commercialize the Royal game it has been besmirched and whatever purity Chess had has been replaced by greed so it’s position in society has been sullied. After informing someone you played Chess back in the day the response more often than not was, “You must be smart.” Now the reply is often a one word question, “Why?”
“But in chess, of course, there is no pageantry – none of the pompousness that Duchamp’s work tried to skewer. One can’t speculate about whether a chess move is honest or dishonest. Chess can’t be pretentious, or self serious. It’s just not that kind of thing. It’s simpler than all of that. It is what it is.”
What is it? Chess is a game. Nothing more; nothing less.
“In the final analysis, Duchamp gave up being one of the great shit-stirrers of the artistic tradition, and ended up being a mild curiosity in the history of chess.”
“I am still a victim of chess,” he (Duchamp) said, in the aforementioned Time magazine interview.
“If you’re a player starting late in life, the most you can be, generally, is third class. Duchamp actually did remarkably well, given the low ceiling of chess achievement available to a late bloomer.”
I can testify to that!
“Moreover, age isn’t the only factor that constrained Duchamp’s success. If that were the sole determinant of chess mastery, then every intelligent player who started young and had a solid work ethic would have a shot at the World Championship. But that’s not the case. That’s really, really not the case. Being great at chess is also a matter of raw talent. Chess is one of those things, like music or math, that certain minds really fuse with. You just have it, or you don’t.”
Our hero returns to Toronto after five months travelling while attempting to find an identity.
“My time away left me with no real insights. My world view was not transformed. Everything was essentially unmodified, including me. While I wasn’t sure what I expected, I was sure that it hadn’t happened.”
Been there and done that…
“The only thing that was different about me was, well, chess. Or, rather, at that point the lack of chess, because I’d sworn to give it up – both to myself and to the few friends who knew about the more tedious details of my existence. After all, life was out there for the taking, and I shouldn’t spend all my time getting checkmated. But there was a cavity in my head where all the churning about the Poisoned Pawn Variation of the Winawer French Defense used to be. Without the activation of that specific part of my brain, I felt weak and watery.”
I’ve had the exact feeling, often when in time pressure. Now there is no time pressure because time is added. Chess was better before time began to be added.
“Everything non-chess-related seemed silly.”
Are you thinking that if the man just gives it a little time he will drop the “non?”
“Once I had inhabited the realm of chess, full of violence and aesthetic beauty, but also replete with the restfulness of unambiguous actuality, my previous life was unappealing. When you quit chess, or try to, you don’t just leave a game behind. You leave a world behind. It’s painful. All I did was get drunk and circulate, inhabiting vague mental states in barrooms and living rooms. And on one of these nights
I came home a little more drunk than usual and fired up a little blitz game. The next morning, having realized that I’d played chess the night before, I told myself that a slip isn’t the same as a relapse, and I solemnly renewed my vow to never again move a single pawn. Six hours later I was in full relapse – a week disappeared into a long session of unsatisfying blitz. Following this, I tried again, this time installing software that prevented me from accessing chess websites. A few days later, I came home drunk again and uninstalled the software. Another clump of days evaporated. Finally, it got so bad that I told myself I’d trade one addition for another – I’d take up smoking again, which I had quit during my last month in Bangkok, in exchange for not playing chess. This is how I became a chain-smoking chess player.”
We take a break from the ongoing book review in order to bring you the latest on the criminal enterprise sitting in the Oval Office of the President of the United states, Donald J Trump. If you live in America you have, no doubt, seen or at least heard about the reception the POTUS and his wife received at the old ball park when they visited game five of the World Series of Baseball. The game was between the powerful Houston Astros and the wild card winner, the Washington Nationals, and it was played in Washington D.C. The fact that the Trumpsters visited any place other than some kind of “rally” where the fools who support the traitor are bussed in to yell and scream in support of the Fool In Power was an amazing circumstance. It is one of the few times the Trumpster has put himself in a position where he has been surrounded by We The People. This was the result:
Written by Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy
Keep smiling, keep smiling, keep smiling, keep right on smiling
I know sometimes your whole world seems blue
Seems like the whole weight of the world is resting on you
But remember when you hang your head, its hard to see the sun
There’s a brighter day, yes it is, just ask and I sure will come
But you’ve got to keep (keep smiling) well, ooh, yeah
(Keep smiling) Keep on, keep on, keep on, keep on
(Keep smiling) Ooh, ha (Don’t you ever stop smiling)
Oh, don’t you ever stop, no, no, no, oh, when you’ve got to keep on stepping on
You know that you’ve got to be strong and understand the facts of life
You won’t get no place until you make some sacrifice
Try to make it a little easy when you’re doing it on your own
Once you think you’ve got everything, the next day its all gone
But you got to keep (keep smiling), well, well, well, well (keep smiling)
Oh I know its hard, I know its hard, but you’ve to keep (keep smiling), oh—
The third chapter begins, “My headlong descent into an Internet chess wormhole did terrible things to my personality.”
Let me take a moment to inform you, the reader, that I once tried to play the Royal game on the internet. This was at the former Atlanta Chess & Game Center on one of the computers in the back room. It only took a few games before the realization hit me in the form of a question. “What the fork are you doing, man?” That particular form of Chess held absolutely no interest for me and, frankly, I question the sanity of anyone who would do such a thing.
Mr. Chapin continues, “This is because Internet chess is a fertile breeding ground for hatred. When you’re playing someone who isn’t visible, known to you only by their nickname – SchellingFord or ButtSex69 – your competitive instincts are unmitigated by the basic civilizing effect of the presence of a living person before you.”
This reminded me of the time Lester Bedell, after having been away from the House of Pain for about a year, walked through the door just in time to be paired for the nightly tournament. I asked Lester where he had been during the year he had missed and he replied, “I was playing on the internet.” Later, between rounds, I asked Lester why he had returned to the House. “Mike,” he began, “It’s not the same, playing on a computer. I returned because I missed playing a human being.”
Sasha continues, “But on the Internet, the patter is a little different. When somebody asks you what cup size your mother is, you say, “Fuck you.”
“How your mother do it?”
“I ignored his continuous abuse until right before the end of the game, when I offered the gracious message “You lose.”
“Come in hell for cock suck,” he responded.
Why would anyone in their right mind spend their precious time cursing someone via the internet while playing Chess? There was much trash talking in the pits, or skittles room, at the House of Pain, but without the cursing and without involving anyone’s mother, fortunately. What was heard, mostly, was what could be called “good natured trash talk,” if such a thing is possible. I never liked trash talking and never understood why anyone would do it other than to break the concentration of his opponent. I would watch players trash talking each other while those watching the game would laugh uproariously and think of something IM Boris Kogan was fond of saying, “This is not chess.” Writing this caused me to reflect upon something written in the previous chapter, “Badly played chess is kind of like badly played life.”
Because of constantly playing Chess on the internet, “My life was a constant alternation between triumph and ignominy, all delivered through the glow of my MacBook. The ratio of wins to losses was the determinant of my whole emotional spectrum.”
Is that not sad? Then reality struck.
“At some point I became alarmed that I wasn’t actively seeking human company. It wasn’t exactly that I was getting lonelier. It’s that I was disturbed by how little my loneliness was affecting me now that I was playing chess. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. There was an ideal personality I was supposed to be striving for: that of a witty and urbane writer-type who would fling consequential phrases from his well-compensated fingers before going our in the evening to quip his way through intimate gatherings and win over strangers with lustrous anecdotes. But none of that was happening at all. In Bangkok, a bright and gritty city, totally free to be whomever I wanted, I was becoming a chess nerd.”
Who wants to be a chess nerd, right? Actually, Chess nerds come in various shapes and sizes. To wit:
“So, I downloaded Tinder, in an attempt to prove to myself that I still possessed worldly desires. Resultantly, I met up with a cute girl named Sundae on a lantern-lit patio. She was charming and smart and full of contagious optimism, sure that both of our lives would be forever involved in a state of continuous improvement and joy.”
Oh, to be young again! Her name was Cecelia Jordan, Cecil for short. She had driven a clunker all the way from Sacremento, California, to become a stewardess for Delta Air Lines. She was cute as a button with a rather deep voice like that of one of my earliest crushes, June Allyson. She initiated me into the “Mile High Club.”
Sasha and Sundae had a wonderful one night in Bangkok. “But later that week, when she sent me a very felicitous text, I was deep in a chess game. Two days later, she texted me again, at 1 a.m. But I didn’t respond immediately because I was deep in a chess game.”
He fell into the rabbit hole…”My only contacts with non-chess reality were Elena and Sally…”
“So, it occurred to me, in Bangkok, as I started feeling like a sack of fatback left under a heat lamp, that I might be in the middle of this cycle again. Perhaps my chess infatuation was just another vanishing fancy…”
To Sasha it was obvious things had to change because, “I was becoming frightened of my increasingly hostile interior landscape, so I decided that I needed counsel. Therapy occurred to me…Instead, I decided I needed the presence of other chess players, who would steer me in the right direction. I took a shower, got on the Skytrain, and went to meet the Bangkok Chess Club.”
The club met on the upper floor of a pub on the far end of Soi Cowboy, one of Bangkok’s high-efficiency sex markets. Pink lights illuminated pink banners over bars where pink drinks were served by women wearing pink bikinis. Reality was painted one color. Up and down the neon-crated avenue, the working women preened with numbers pinned to their chests. It was a slow night, so the salesmanship was particularly energetic. One woman in a barely existing spandex onesie took my hand and asked me where I was going. When I didn’t offer a distinct answer, she took hold of my crotch. I gently removed her hand from my person, saying something like, “Excuse me, ma’am, I have to go to chess club.”
“At the chess club…Social affiliation has only one cost: the game of chess. Friendship in chess is simple. It isn’t about smartly signaling that you’ve got the right opinions about recent topics. It’s about examining small areas of the game’s infinite tapestry – finding each other in a landscape that transcends the complexities of cultural taste, as well as every geographical boundary. This common bond engenders a positive spirit. With the exception of a few petty jerks, chess players tend to be cooperative creatures.”
“That first night at chess club
brought me back from the edge of melancholy.”
“There are different kinds of players, and broadly, you can sort them by how crazy they are.”
“Strangely, I now remember those pre-tournament days fondly, and not just because of the specialty beverages of Southeast Asia. When you’re devoting your life to chess, even if the devotion is as troubled as mine was, there’s a satisfying purity to it all. You’re surrendering yourself to a search for aesthetic pleasure as well as mental fitness. Chess, to the seasoned player, is pretty like poetry is pretty – it bears the wonder of indelible combinations arising from a simple language.”
It also brought information about a chess tournament, and a chess teacher named Mike. Before the first round of the tournament Mike said, “I’ll be watching you.”
“Do you have any advice? I asked.”
“Be calm,” he said. Ignore psychology, ignore your self, ignore the face of you opponent – just play a good move.”
“I lost the game in fifteen moves, in fifteen minutes – an astonishingly brief amount of time…”
“After I slept for twelve hours, I emailed the tournament directors, announcing my resignation. I would not be attending the remaining six games. This brought me great, instant relief. Clearly, I had been right when I was a teenager – chess just wasn’t my game. A chess hobby would lead only to misery and frustration. I decided to quit, and to keep doing things I was good at.”
I enjoyed every minute spent reading this wonderful book.
It was so interesting the book was completed in only a couple of days because I simply could not put it down. From the inside front cover jacket one reads, “Sasha Chapin is a victim of chess. (“I am still a victim of chess. It has all the beauty of art – and much more. It cannot be commercialized. Chess is much purer than art in its social position.” Marcel Duchamp)
Like countless amateurs before him – Albert Einstein,
– the game has consumed his life and his mind.”
Which means, even though he is a writer by trade, he is one of us! On the inside jacket one finds, “Sasha Chapin is an award-winning journalist and recovering chess enthusiast.”
I have yet to win an award for writing and I am still recovering from the years spent playing the Royal game.
The book begins, “Anyway, like most people, I became obsessed with chess after I ran away to Asia with a stripper I’d just met.”
I had been hooked, lined, and sinkered after reading only the first sentence! The stripper was Courtney and she “…made an impression.”
From experience I know most strippers make an impression or they find another line of work.
Courtney suggests they “do drugs together – specifically Psilocybe cubensis, aka magic mushrooms. “Doing shrooms with somebody instantly acquaints you with about half of who they are.” Unfortunately, as often happens when dealing with the opposite sex, “I became sullen and Courtney became moody and erratic.” What to do? “”Since we were going crazy, I suggested we take a trip to Bangkok.”
Courtney runs out of money and decides to return to Toronto earn it the old fashion way.
“She left just before Christmas, so I was alone on New Year’s Eve in our Chiang Mai apartment…”
“In January I was writing six pieces at once, but in February I was barely writing one. My credit card balance crept up; I observed it with no particular emotion. And as I predicted, there was no sign of Courtney.” That’s when my troubles really started. That’s when life as I know it began. Not that I knew that at the time. The future never announces itself. Your destiny is quietly prepared offstage, until the hour when it emerges, saying something like, “Knock, knock, motherfucker.” Elena arrived in the apartment bearing a contagious excitation about the most recent leg of her travels.”
“Nepal is so interesting,” she said.
“What’s going on there?” I said.
“There’s a blockade, gasoline isn’t making it over the Indian border, nobody can do anything and, like, everything is paralyzed.”
“That sounds good. Should I write a story about it?”
And Sasha was off to Kathmandu.
“So I did – a story about the incredibly complicated domestic tensions there, which I barely understood, even after extensive research. Essentially all I knew was that reporters should talk to people, so from the moment I landed in Kathmandu, I began a conversation with everyone who engaged me in more than a moment of eye contact. During the ungainly process, after after ambling down an arbitrary lane, I found myself in a rubble-strewn square presided over by a group of chess hustlers – strong players who make their salary on small-wager games with suckers like me.”
You know what comes next: “He opened the game in the most common fashion, by playing e4. This was the only opening move Bobby Fischer
enjoyed playing; he called it “best by test.” In response I played the move e6-the first move of the French Defense. The French Defense was an old friend of mine that I hadn’t seen since I was a teenager. I hardly recognized it when I saw it on the board, although we had once been intimately familiar. It was my weapon of choice when I played on my hippie alternative school’s Pawnishers.”
This is how the first chapter concludes, and how the book begins. Now you know how I became hooked, lined, and sinkered.
All The Wrong Moves: A Memoir About Chess, Love, and Ruining Everything
by Sasha Chapin
I liked and enjoyed reading this book immensely. Chess people who have sold Chess as some kind of panacea for helping children learn will loath this book because it contains the enemy of the fraudsters; the truth. I give it a wholehearted thumbs up. The author is a professional writer and the book flowed. The book was read in only a couple of days because it was riveting. As usual I have yet to read any review of the book but will upon completion of the review, which will be a non-traditional review in that more than one post will be written about the book. This post is part one of who knows how many posts will be written.
authored the very successful book Outliers
in which he popularized the now infamous “10,000 hour rule.” As Sasha puts it, “…if you’re really good at something, it’s because you’ve spent about ten thousand hours on it.”
The first time Gladwell’s theory was encountered made me laugh out loud. “What a crock,” was my initial thought. It brought to mind a former school mate, the tall and lanky Leon Henry. Leon was the slowest runner I have ever seen. He was far too slow to play for the school basketball team. When we were high school seniors it was decided to have a basketball game between the faculty and students, but only the students who had not played on the school team were eligible. Leon wanted to play on the team but the other members were against it. The only reason there was to be a game was because a new, young teacher and sportsman had become the Baseball coach. Prior to coach Jim Jackson arriving the football coach was also the Baseball coach, and he did little coaching of the Baseball team. Coach Jackson had been offered about ten grand by the New York Mets to play Baseball but had a wife and child and the woman talked him into becoming a teacher and coach. Basically, the teacher team consisted of four old, tired, and slow men and coach Jackson. The coach made those of us on the Baseball team who would be playing later that night run extra laps to, hopefully, wear us out.
Leon begged for a chance to play, so coach Jackson decided that Leon could play that night if, and only if, Leon could beat me in a foot race. Since Leon had no chance coach Jackson altered the usual rules for a race. All Leon had to do was run from one end of the basketball court to the other end before I could run down the court and return. When the whistle blew I had to run towards Leon, who would be running hard, then turn around and run back toward the finish line. I had to run twice as far as Leon. This was a piece of cake. Leon, and everyone else, knew he had no chance. There was much laughter when we began running.
Leon won the race.
“You pulled up, Bacon,” said coach Jackson.
“I think I pulled a hammy, coach,” I said in my defense. Coach Jackson guffawed. “Hell Mike, you could out run Leon with a TORN hamstring!”
With Leon on the court there was no fast break possible. Leon had to stay on only one side of the court, so we had him stay back on defense and “stick with coach Jackson like glue.” In addition, I would also stick with coach Jackson, so he was double-teamed, which was my plan all along, and the reason I “pulled up.”
Coach Jackson made a buzzer-beater shot to win the game, but I had a new best friend…
If Leon Henry ran every day until completing ten thousand hours he would never have been able to increase his speed because of genetics. I do not care if Leon ran ten million hours, he would never have been able to run fast. There are people with brains about as slow as Leon’s legs. One of them played regularly at the House of Pain (the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, not to be confused with GM Ben Finegold’s Atlanta Chess & Scholastic Center, which is located in Roswell, Georgia, the seventh largest city in the Great State of Georgia, making the name “Atlanta” a misnomer). The man had made it to class C even though he could not locate the square to which he was moving to or from on the board without first looking at the letter and then the number located on the side of the board. He did this every move, and he had been doing it for many years because his brain could not, for whatever reason, look at the board and see the square two rows in front of the king pawn as e4. If you do not have it all the time in the world will not give it to you no matter how much or hard you try.
Sasha Chapin blows Malcolm Gladwell out of the water when he writes, “Now obviously, nobody is silly enough to think that talent doesn’t exist, period. That’s not the debate here. The existence of talent is proven by the fact of people like Strinivasa Ramanujan
(http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/history/Biographies/Ramanujan.html)-the man who, without any formal training, became one of the greatest mathematicians who ever lived, effortlessly emitting utterly complicated theorems that astounded his colleagues. The debate here is about proportion. It’s about whether people like Ramanujan, the true freaks, are the only cases in which talent is a primary factor – whether talent is relevant only in the most extreme cases. Can we ordinary people blame talent for our lack of success? When we say that we don’t have talent, are we just coming up with a convenient excuse for our lack of diligence? To what extent can we transcend certain inborn aptitudes?
These are big questions. They don’t have simple answers or at least none that I’m qualified to provide. But if we limit the discussion to chess, the answer is clear. The data shows that talent matters. A lot.
Probably the most persuasive piece of evidence that talent is important in games in general is a meta-analysis conducted by Macnamara et al., published in Psychological Science in 2014. (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0956797614535810) (I posted about this years ago @ https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2015/02/28/can-you-handle-the-truth/) After analyzing a combination of eighty eight studies of skill acquisition, the researchers concluded that, when it comes to games, only 25 percent of individual variance in skill level can be attributed to practice. Practice is valuable, but its importance is dominated by a combination of other factors, like working memory, general intelligence, and starting age. So the paper suggest that if you want to be a world-class player, you should start really, really young and be really, really lucky with your genetics. This was further corroborated by another meta-analysis conducted by the same researchers, pertaining specifically to chess players, which demonstrated the same conclusion.
Now, there’s an obvious objection here – can’t playing chess make you more intelligent, thus improving your raw talent in a roundabout way? Well, current evidence say no. According to another study published in Current Directions in Psychological Science, playing chess doesn’t improve your non-chess faculties significantly. (One interesting implication here is that a lot of the chess economy is built on a fraud: lots of parents send their children to expensive chess camps in an effort to make them smarter, in the same way that some other parents enhance their babies with Mozart,
but this effort seems futile, based on the data.)
This is not nearly all of the evidence for my side of the debate. There are a lot more factors that make the deliberate practice hypothesis look even more doomed. Like the fact that the ability to practice for hours is itself genetically influenced – it relies on traits like conscientiousness, which are highly heritable. The basic case is made: talent matters. Unless all of this research somehow fails to replicate, or is fundamentally flawed in non-obvious ways – which, of course, is possible – then Gladwell’s rule does not belong on the chessboard.”
So, then, exactly how big is the gulf between the talented player and the untalented player? Quite simply: it’s huge.”
Go as part of curriculum at U.S. Army Command and General Staff College: an interview with Dr. James Sterrett
Wednesday October 16, 2019
As the Chief of Simulation Education at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Dr. James Sterrett
uses games and simulations in a variety of ways to teach students. In an interview conducted last month by Chris Ghorbani, Dr. Sterrett described his introduction to the game, as well as how and why he uses go in his classes. From starting in college with a friend “on a home-made board using bottle caps as the stones,” he now uses go to demonstrate the concepts of design elegance. In his class on Training with Simulations, students play go for 30 minutes before discussion on the depth and utility created in the game by just a tiny number of rules. Students use this as inspiration to design and develop their own training games, trying to achieve elegance with their own new game requirements.
Dr. Sterrett describes one of his favorite things about go as being the discussions it provokes in his classes, describing them as “wonderful – not just of strategy, operations, and tactics inside Go, but people wind up drawing parallels between the situation on the board and various situations in current affairs, history, or even their own lives.” He continues in the interview to discuss the game, the rise of AI, and comparisons between go and other games he uses in his curriculum, including kriegspiel and chess. “Go teaches strategy, operations, tactics, and weaving them together to achieve victory,” says Dr. Sterrett. “The lack of a clearly defined center of gravity in Go ensures the players must define it by their decisions, much as in grand strategy. Thus, Go is a superb tool for honing a strategic mindset and seeing the links between the levels of war.”
Dr. Sterrett concludes by thanking the go community for continued efforts to spread go, and hopes that it is still played thousands of years in the future.
Computer programs have revolutionized opening theory in the game of Go with new books being published with regularity. The same is true for the Royal game but without the new books being published acknowledging how the new moves were obtained. For example:
The impact upon the Royal game has been great but what about the acknowledgement? How extensively have the computer Chess programs changed the way the game is played? Do human players find new moves these daze or do they sit back and let the programs crunch the numbers and use what is found?
1 d4 f5 2 g3 Nf6 3 Bg2 g6 4 Nf3 Bg7 5 O-O O-O 6 b3 (SF 250919 @ depth 46 plays 6 c4, expecting 6…d6 7 Nc3, which is the Leningrad Dutch. The CBDB shows SF 10 @ depth 43 also playing 6 c4, but SF 260819 prefers the move in the game) 6…b6
(Until recently 6…d6, known as the Leningrad Dutch, was invariably played. The CBDB shows 6…d6 having been played in 1100 games. 6…b6 has only been attempted a paltry 22 times. The game move, 6…b6, is the move of Stockfish 021019 @ depth 75; SF 10 @ depth 41 plays 6…Na6 with 7 c4 Rb8 following) 7 c4 Bb7 8 Nc3 e6
(The choice of Stockfish, which is a completely different way to play. IM Boris Kogan played 6 b3 but I cannot recall him ever facing an early b6 and would like to know what the Hulk would have thought of the mirror move. For 8…Na6 see Lemos vs Alvarado Diaz below) 9 Bf4 TN (This move, the choice of Komodo, is not shown at the CBDB or 365Chess. 9 Bb2 has been the most often played move. StockFish 10 plays 9 Rb1 while SF 120919 would play 9 Bg5, neither move has yet been seen in action) 9…a5 10. Rc1 Na6 11. d5 Nc5 12. dxe6 Nxe6 13. Be5 Bh6 14. e3 Ng4 15. Nd5 Nxe5 16. Nxe5 d6 17. Nd3 Rb8 18. a3 Re8 19. b4 axb4 20. axb4 Ng5 21. b5 Bg7 22. N3b4 Ne4 23. Nc6 Bxc6 24. bxc6 Nf6 25. Nc3 Kh8 26. Ra1 Ne4 27. Nxe4 fxe4 28. Ra7 b5 29. cxb5 Rxb5 30. Qa4 Rbe5 31. Bh3 Rf8 32. Bd7 h5 33. Qa6 Rc5 34. Qb7
(As is often the case in top level Chess these daze one ‘red move’ follows another ‘red move’ over at DaBomb. Back to back, or double blunders by the best human players happens with regularity. I’ve no idea why this is happening. Maybe double vision
is the cause. Any ideas? This is the best variation according to the Fish after crunching numbers for all of fifteen seconds) 35. Qxc7 Qxc7 36. Rxc7 Bf6 37. Be6 Bd8 38. Rc8 Be7 39. Rxf8+ Bxf8 40. Bd5 Rc5 41. Bxe4 g5 42. Rd1 Be7 43. f4 Kg7 44. Bd5 gxf4 45. gxf4 Bd8 46. Kf2 Kf6 47. e4 Rc3 48. Rb1 Rc2+ 49. Ke3 Ba5 50. Rb7 Rxh2 51. Rf7+ Kg6) Rb2 36. Qe6 Qg5 37. Qxe4 d5 38. Qe6 d4 39. Rb7 dxe3 40. Rxb2 Bxb2 41. fxe3 Rxf1+ 42. Kxf1 Qf6+ 43. Qxf6+ Bxf6 44. Ke2 Kg7 45. Kf3 Be5 46. Ke4 Kf6 47. Be8 h4 48. gxh4 Bxh2 49. Kd5 Bg3 50. Ke4 ½-½
Damian Lemos (2482) vs Alejandro Alvarado Diaz (2399)
It has been my policy to approve all comments left by readers, especially if signed by the respondent, with only a few exceptions. It bothers me not if I am criticized because one of the things that sets our country apart is freedom of the press. I have even printed comments left by people using a nom de plume. However, there is a line and I do enforce the line from time to time.
A scathing comment was left recently by someone disgruntled because of what had been written in the post, Chess Segregation. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/chess-segregation/) The writer was obviously “ticked off” by, “There are more women and girls involved with Chess than ever before and it started with the so-called “youth movement,” which began when money earmarked for Master Chess was, shall we say to be kind, diverted to children’s Chess.”
Among the many things I was called during the diatribe was “liar.”
I am sixty nine years of age and will be the first to admit my memory is not what it used to be. Still, having participated in brain and memory studies at Emory, Georgia Tech and the Veteran’s Administration (the results of which were to be used to help veterans who had served our country), I am thankful for how much better off than others even younger than am I. That said, I will admit to having an occasional “Senior moment” which is exacerbated by fatigue.
After receiving the salvo comment I racked my brain in an attempt to recall what and where I had read concerning the diversion of funds. I seemed to recall something former POTUSCF Don Schultz had written in a Chess Life magazine, thinking it was a letter to the editor, but I could be mistaken. I went to the internet in an attempt to locate anything about the matter. What you are about to read is the only thing I managed to locate. If anyone can shed any more light on the subject please leave a comment.
Honor the Intent
by Don Schultz
During the 1990s the direction of the American Chess Foundation changed from sponsoring a wide variety of chess projects to almost exclusively promoting their highly successful New York City inner city school programs. In order to emphasize this redirection, the American Chess Foundation changed their name to Chess-in-the-Schools. Although their inner school programs continue to be enormously successful, part of the funding of these programs comes from income from donations of patrons who intended other uses for their contributions.
Case in point, when former USCF President Fred Cramer died in April 1989 he bequeathed a quarter of a million dollars to the ACF. Throughout his life, Cramer was an avid advocate for better communication and improved chess journalism, particularly at the state level. In order to partially satisfy Cramer’s wishes, Fan Adams, then President of the ACF, used a portion of the income from the Cramer bequest to sponsor the Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism. Unfortunately Chess-in-the-Schools has now cancelled their financial support of the Cramer Awards Program. They did this so they can redirect all of the income from the Cramer bequest to support their NYC inner city school programs.
The Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism are not the only victim of the Chess-in-the-Schools new policy. An example is the income from over a million dollars of Thomas Emery donations. Emery was a close friend of many of our finest players, including Frank Marshall and Al Horowitz. He helped support master chess. He also was a member of the Marine Corps during World War I and as a result had an enduring interest in armed forces chess. He sponsored the first Armed Forces Championship in 1960, and continued to sponsor it during his lifetime. He had every expectation that income from his donations would continue to be used for master and armed forces chess promotions. But it is not. All of it is now being used for the Chess-in-the Schools New York City inner city school programs.
Chess-in-the-Schools does continue to support a few projects unrelated to their inner school programs. These include the Denker High School Invitational and the Paul Albert Awards. But the patrons for these projects are still living and members of their Board.
However invaluable the Chess-in-the-School programs are, income from bequests and contributions such as those from Cramer and Emery should be used to pay for the intended programs of the patron. If you agree with this assessment, please express your feelings to Members of the Board, Chess-in-the-Schools, 353 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036, tel. 212 643-0225, fax 212 757-7704.
If I could be you
And you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way
To get inside
Each other’s mind, mmm
If you could see you
Through my eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you’d be
Surprised to see
That you’d been blind, mmm
Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes
Now your whole world
You see around you
Is just a reflection
And the law of karma
Says you’re gonna reap
Just what you sow, yes you will
You’ve lived a life of total perfection
You’d better be careful of every stone
That you should throw, yeah
And yet we spend the day
At one another
‘Cause I don’t think
Or wear my hair
The same way you do, mmm
Well I may be
But I’m your brother
And when you strike out
And try to hurt me
It’s a hurtin’ you, lord have mercy
Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes
There are people
And out in the ghettos
And brother there
But for the grace of God
Go you and I, yeah, yeah
If I only
Had the wings
Of a little angel
Don’t you know I’d fly
To the top of the mountain
And then I’d cry