Which Side Are You On?

It is no longer possible to recall when the Batgirl blog was discovered but after reading the first blog post I became a regular reader of Le blog de la Batgirl at Chess.com. For several reasons this reader drifted away from Chess.com, but not Batgirl. That changed with the pandemic and my year sans internet. Something recently sent me in search of Batgirl again, and what was found was shocking. The latest blog post by Batgirl is dated Feb 5, 2022, and is entitled, Which Side Are You On? (https://www.chess.com/blog/batgirl/which-side-are-you-on) It begins:

Several points:

  1. This blog is about music, not chess so there’s no need to mention this in the comments. It’s featured because I have Top Blogger status. If you find this offensive, I’m sorry but I have no control over it. Just contact the powers-that-be and complain to them instead of using the comment area to note the obvious.
  2. Although this blog addresses certain political influences, it’s about music not politics. Politically, I’m simply a Humanist and whatever advances the situations for those least able or least advantaged has my vote. Whatever your own political philosophy might be, I don’t care to read about it in the comments and will most likely delete any that appear there.
  3. I’ve spent the past several months considering my options. Since, after the rather despicable treatment I received at the duplicitous hands of chess.com back in Feb. 2021, I have no plans to ever blog about chess on this site again [though I occasionally write something chessic (e.g.) in the forums for the members’ benefit], I left myself the uncertain option of blogging on non-chess topics. I decided to give a go to writing again about music, especially as I had already spent many, many months of focused reading and listening on the subject below. While I’m sure that few here have any interest in the topic, I wanted it in my catalogue.

Wow! It appears Batgirl left Chess.com. There must be a story in the fact that the top blogger at Chess.com was given “…rather despicable treatment I received at the duplicitous hands of chess.com back in Feb. 2021.” Wowee…

Batgirl begins, “I live in what was once predominately a textile region and have little to no experience with mines, but there’s something about mining that captures one’s attention. I’ve even written before about mining in the UK, specifically in Wales, in a previous music-inspired posting (see: Bells) (https://www.chess.com/forum/view/off-topic/bells

I read “Bells” first, and suggest you do the same.

“In the best of times coal mining is an extremely difficult and dangerous life, but for most miners, the best of times has always been a rarity.

During the past year my attention has been focused on the factors that surround the development of unions in the United States along with their strong associations with communism, socialism, pacifism, minorities and the U.S. government all relative to the music. I’m constantly reminded of the complexities as well as the subtleties involved, but I’m never surprised by the anguish, anger and helplessness of those who tended to be most affected in this struggle.

This posting concerns itself with the coal mines in Southeastern Kentucky, an area not far from West Virginia, Tennessee or North Carolina, mainly in the 1930s, and the heartfelt music that the events inspired.”

In 1930 Harlan County Kentucky was the home to about 12,000 miners.(https://www.chess.com/blog/batgirl/which-side-are-you-on)

Every picture tells a story, don’t it?

Next comes, “Coal mining was a rather recent development in Harlan County. Traditionally this area was home to mountain people who lived on the land farming, hunting, raising commercial livestock and even moonshining. As one elder recalled, he used to kick coal down the path on his way to retrieve firewood to heat his house. This changed around 1910 when US Steel and International Harvester began their exploitation of the the hidden coal resources to fuel their faraway plants. Ford Motor Company would soon join in. These and many other companies created coal towns or camps where the L&N (Louisville and Nashville) Railroad was enticed to build spurs for the transport of this black bituminous freight. People who had never before seen a train were hired to lay the track. Suddenly, almost overnight, coal mining jobs with their promise of a better life became the best employment option and mutated the entire culture of the region. Coal miners were in fact paid a somewhat decent wage and with WWI and the closing of mines in the UK, the demand was exceptionally high and the future looked bright.”

This brought one of my all-time favorite TV shows, Justified, to mind because much of it was set in Harlan county, in the state of West Virginia, one of, if not the poorest, states in the union.

The state is on, or near the bottom of every listing when it comes to wealth, or lack thereof. West Virginia has coal, lotsa coal. Unfortunately for the United States the current Democratic Senator, Joe Manchin, appears to be a DINO (Democrat in Name Only).

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., is vowing to block all legislation in the Senate until the bill he is co-sponsoring to shore up the miners pension fund receives a vote. (https://www.pionline.com/legislation/sen-joe-manchin-promises-roadblock-until-miners-pension-bill-passes)

Along with Senator Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten Sinema Brags Cleavage Has ‘Extraordinarily Persuasive Effect’ on ‘Uptight’ GOP Colleagues (https://www.mediaite.com/print/kyrsten-sinema-brags-cleavage-has-extraordinarily-persuasive-effect-on-uptight-gop-colleagues/)

of Arizona, (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10751455/Kyrsten-Sinema-boasted-using-cleavage-persuade-uptight-Republican-lawmakers.html) the two threw monkey wrenches into the recent Joe Biden legislation, watering down what could have been good for We The People. Sinema recently left the Democratic party to become an Independant. (https://nypost.com/2022/12/09/kyrsten-sinema-branded-traitor-by-democrats/) Politics is not the only thing in which the woman goes both ways. (https://www.huffpost.com/entry/kyrsten-sinema-first-openly-bisexual-person-senate_n_5c2e5094e4b08aaf7a97504f)

Joe wrecked the Biden agenda because he must cater to the coal industry to become reelected. Joe put personal interest before the welfare of We The People. There is less need for coal now because of access to cleaner fuels, but the poor people mountain people have nothing else, so Joe Manchin keeps fighting a losing battle to stay in office. The poor man is so tied to the past he cannot step into the future.

After the first few minutes of Justified I was hooked, lined, and sinkered, with each and every episode eventually being watched.

The next scene from Justified shows what it is like to work in a mine:

Batgirl continued:

The United Mine Workers of America Union (UMW or UMWA) under John L. Lewis, made several half-hearted attempts to organize locals and recruit area miners into the union but nothing much came of it. In fact, it was met with resistance from the miner owners and their resistance took an uncompromising stance. Miners who dared to joined the union were immediately blacklisted and evicted from their company-owned houses. The Kentucky mines used the “truck system” or “payment in kind” or “script” only good in the company store for wages so the miners received little or no actual money for their work, had no savings and were totally dependent on the mine owners. To be fair, this wasn’t always forced on them, though mine owners or “operators” did use pressure tactics to convince their employees, and many had an option for cash wages, but, like credit cards, it was a trap nonetheless that put even the most judicious folks at the mine owners’ mercy.
The song Sixteen Tons (Merle Travis 1946) addressed this system. In fact the Kentucky coal miner/singer George S. Davis claimed to have written a similar song called Twenty-One Tons in the 1930s (while this was an unprovable claim, it’s quite possible both Davis and Travis embellished on already existing songs from somewhere deep in their memories (Travis’ father was also a Kentucky coal miner). Back in the 1930s George S. Davis, known as the “The Singing Miner,” wrote some songs about the Harlan struggle. 

Then there is the second song provided, one with which I was unfamiliar, and I have been a fan of Johnny Cash since the early nineteen sixties:

Batgirl continues:

One of the saddest songs to come out the the coal camps was written by 12 year old Della Mae Graham of Wlider Tennessee (just south of Harlan County Kentucky) after her father, Byron “Barney” Graham, leader of the UMW local, was shot in the back by Jack Green , a company hired Chicago gunman (along with Doc Thompson) on Sunday morning, April 30, 1933 as he walked by the company store (he had 10 bullet wounds, a bruise on his head and 14 shell cartridges from 3 different guns were found at the site). Out of fear, no local minister would conduct the funeral so divinity students from Nashville were called in to perform the ceremony which was attended by 1000 people. After a mock trial, Green was acquitted. Thompson was never charged. 

The Ballad of Barney Graham

On April the thirtieth
Nineteen thirty-three
Upon the streets of Wilder
They shot him brave and free

They shot my darling father
He fell upon the ground
‘Twas in the back they shot him
His blood came streaming down

They took the pistol handles
And beat him on the head
The hired gunmen beat him
‘Til he was cold and dead

When he left home that morning
I though he’d never return
But for my darlin’ father
My heart shall ever yearn

We carried him to the graveyard
There we laid him down
To sleep in death for many a year
In the cold and sodden ground

Although he left the union
He tried so hard to build
His blood was spilled for justice
And justice guides us still

Here Hedy West sings the song under the title Lament for Barney Graham. Hedy West’s father had been a textile and coal mine union organizer during the 1930s.

Florence Reece wrote the most enduring song to come out of that era: Which Side Are You on? Although she had long been an activist, below she outlines the specific circumstances for the poem:

Sheriff J.H. Blair and his men came to our house in search of Sam – that’s my husband – he was one of the union leaders. I was home alone with our seven children. They ransacked the whole house and then kept watch outside, waiting to shoot Sam down when he came back. But he didn’t come home that night. Afterward I tore a sheet from a calendar on the wall and wrote the words to ‘Which Side Are You On?’ to an old Baptist hymn, ‘Lay the Lily Low’. My songs always goes to the underdog – to the worker. I’m one of them and I feel like I’ve got to be with them. There’s no such thing as neutral. You have to be on one side or the other. Some people say, ‘I don’t take sides – I’m neutral.’ There’s no such thing. In your mind you’re on one side or the other. In Harlan County there wasn’t no neutral. If you wasn’t a gun thug, you was a union man. You had to be.

There have been many modifications to the verses over time, but here are her original words:

Which Side Are You On?

Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell,
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.

Which side are you on?
Which side are you on?

We’ve started our good battle,
We know we’re sure to win,
Because we’ve got the gun thugs
A-lookin’ very thin.

They say they have to guard us
To educate their child;
Their children live in luxury
Our children’s almost wild.

With pistols and with rifles
They take away our bread,
And if you miners hinted it
They’d sock you on the head.

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there;
You either are a union man
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.

Oh workers, can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

My daddy was a miner,
He is now in the air and sun [i.e. blacklisted]
He’ll be with you fellow workers
Until the battle’s won.

There is more, oh so much more, to this wonderful post. The article, which appears to be the last written for Chess.com, is magnificent. Batgirl has created a blogging masterpiece. This is the best thing to ever appear at the now moribund Chess.com. Batgirl is the best female blogger of my time. My hat is off to the one and only Batgirl.

Iranian Woman Plays In FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Tournament Without Mandatory Hijab

Iranian chess player Sara Khadem competes, without wearing a hijab, in FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhstan on December 26, 2022. (https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/28/sport/iran-sara-khadem-chess-tournament-hijab-spt-intl/index.html)

By Celine Alkhaldi, CNN
Published 9:06 AM EST, Wed December 28, 2022

Iranian chess player Sara Khadem, also known as Sarasadat Khademalsharieh, took part in an international tournament without a hijab, Iranian news outlet Jamaran said on Tuesday.

Khadem is the latest sportswoman to appear at a competition without a hijab since anti-government protests erupted in September.

Khadem appeared in photos shared by Jamaran without her hijab, which is mandatory under Iran’s dress code, during her participation at the FIDE World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships in Almaty, Kazakhastan.

CNN reached out to Khadem’s Instagram page for comment.

The 1997-born chess player is ranked 804 among active players globally and is ranked as number 10 in Iran, according to the International Chess Federation.

In October, Iranian climber Elnaz Rekabi competed in South Korea without her mandatory hijab on, later saying it had fallen off accidentally. However, it is unclear whether Rekabi’s comments were made under duress.

In November, Iranian archer Parmida Ghasemi demonstrated her support for anti-government protests by removing her hijab during an awards ceremony in Tehran, later saying she did not notice it falling off.

Video shared on social media shows her allowing the headscarf to drop in what was widely interpreted as a show of support for nation-wide demonstrations.

Iran’s deputy sports minister Maryam Kazemipour said in November that athletes who acted against Islamic norms “regretted” their actions afterward and “are looking for an opportunity to make up for their mistake.” (https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/28/sport/iran-sara-khadem-chess-tournament-hijab-spt-intl/index.html)

World Rapid & Blitz Funded With Dirty Money

Today an article appeared at Chess24.com entitled, World Rapid & Blitz begins on 26th as Carlsen faces dilemma. The opening paragraph: “World Champion Magnus Carlsen and US teenager Hans Moke Niemann will be in the same venue for the first time since the scandal that rocked the chess world in Saint Louis three months ago. The Norwegian faces a dilemma if he is paired against the teenager, who launched a $100 million lawsuit over cheating allegations.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/world-rapid-blitz-begins-as-carlsen-faces-dilemma)


The following paragraph caught my attention: “The main sponsor of the event is investment company Freedom Finance, founded and owned by the Russian-born Kazakh financier Timur Turlov, who according to Forbes magazine has a net worth of $2.5 billion. He is among the many Russians who have been placed on the Ukrainian sanctions list. The total prize fund is $1 million.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/world-rapid-blitz-begins-as-carlsen-faces-dilemma)

That sent me to the Duck,Duck,Go search engine to learn more about Timur Turlov in order to ascertain why FIDE would accept funds from someone on the sanctions list. An extremely long article was found. Brief excerpts follow:

Swindler Timur Turlov may be arrested soon

Swindler Timur Turlov

Swindlers of all stripes love flattery and praise. This is not a reproach, but a simple statement of fact – ask any psychologist or, even better, an experienced policeman: what is the most important feature of a swindler? And the answer will surprise you, because it will not be a desire to deceive as many people as possible and earn as much money as possible. No, this goal, of course, is there, but it is the goal. But the most important feature is narcissism and outright narcissism.

And it is on this that the majority of the most successful swindlers “burn”, and it is precisely the understanding of this important psychological feature that makes it possible to understand who is in front of you – a businessman corny “sniffing” his product to you, or an outright fraudster, after “cooperation” with whom you will remain naked and barefoot.

Because some headlines directly contradict each other. Judging by them, it turns out that Timur Turlov is a Russian, Kazakh, Estonian, Ukrainian businessman and leader. On the one hand, in the age of globalization, it seems like nothing surprising. But on the other hand, how does he manage to do it all and how does it all fit together?

Well, you will have to delve a little into the topic and try to understand who is “a successful businessman, billionaire, banker, investor, hero of the project” Russian Norms! ” “How to do nothing and earn a lot.” That in itself is already nonsense – the word “earn” means “work”.

Here is an excerpt from the official biography of our hero:

Incomprehensible, of course, for an ordinary person, but beautiful. The main thing that can be learned from this is that Timur Turlov is the owner of several companies. And a very wealthy person. And it works in several countries – in Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Germany and Cyprus.

This is all well and good, the reader will say, but what is the fraud? Yes, earning capital in the field of finance is not a very high moral activity, but there is nothing criminal in it. We are forced to agree, but with one caveat – not in this case.

As follows from everything that has been written about Turlov, his main brainchild is the Freedom Finance bank, which “gave access to private investors from Russia and Kazakhstan to American IPOs.” Limited Liability Company Bank “Freedom Finance” (LLC “FFIN Bank”) was registered at the address Moscow, Karetny Ryad street, 5/10, building 2.

As can be seen from the ownership structure, Turlov controls his bank through the “gasket” of Freedom Holding Corp., registered in Belize.

And for a person who is even superficially interested in finance, this is already a rather alarming factor. The fact is that Belize has a very, very liberal financial system, which is also protected from the interest of both the financial authorities of other countries and their own. In other words – an excellent offshore, in comparison with which the notorious Cypriot rest.

But that’s not all. The fact is that Freedom Holding Corp processes transactions in the United States for Turlov’s Kazakh and Russian clients. She contributed as much as 70% of Freedom Finance’s stock trading fees for the first half of fiscal 2021. This is not the data of anyone, but Forbes, so they can be completely trusted.

But that’s not all. The most important question concerns the so-called lock-up period (the time when shares cannot be sold) during the IPO – in Freedom Holding it is 93 days. This differs from brokerage services in the United States, which allow clients to place and cancel orders until an IPO takes place, Forbes writes. Freedom Holding’s practice described as “unusual” in an article by the Financial Journalism Foundation

This mild formulation actually means the following. An investor who has invested money in Freedom Finance is deprived of the right to dispose of it for 93 days. Without his knowledge or consent, bank employees can do whatever they want with them, and without not only any control on the part of the depositor, and without even informing him about all the operations performed with his money.

Another moment in the actions of Turlov’s structures painfully resembles a pyramid. Nothing in Freedom Holding’s filing explains how clients can benefit from a 93-day lockdown of their capital. This agreement, however, gives Timur Turlov’s Belize-based FFIN (Belize again!) Access to a large amount of cash for three months, with the sole obligation to deliver the newly issued shares at the end of the period. Sound familiar?

By the way, it is worth mentioning the “IPO syndication”. The English abbreviation is incomprehensible to the common man. But in reality, this means the initial mechanism for buying shares off the exchange before the enterprise goes public, that is, before the shares actually go to the exchange.

And the most interesting thing is that Timur Turlov’s firm does not have the right to operate with Western IPOs, but actively offers this service in the CIS and Europe. In doing so, Freedom Finance cites the extreme success of the average IPO sample. The conditionality of this criterion of success is obvious, but blocking money for three months is part of this very success.

But how does Timur Turlov collect and invest clients’ money in an IPO without having an appropriate license in the United States? The answer to this question lies in the configuration of the flow of money from small investors in the CIS to an IPO in the United States. These trades are carried out in an intricate maneuver: Freedom Holding clients send money to FFIN Brokerage Services Inc., a Belize-based broker-dealer whose website promises “direct access to the American market.” However, FFIN Brokerage Services is not a subsidiary of Freedom Holding. Instead, it is owned by Freedom Holding CEO Turlov, as clearly stated in a July 2018 statement from Freedom Holding itself. This is the answer to the question why such a huge part of the business is registered in Belize.

However, to all appearances, Turlov will soon end as well. Because the scandal has reached the international level: the already mentioned Foundation for Financial Journalism has released an investigation into the activities of Timur Turlov with a very eloquent title:

For those who do not know English, we give the translation: “Freedom Holding: the dumbest product of Kazakhstan after Borat.” In his article, Roddy Boyd examines Turlov’s activities and comes to the same conclusion that we are a classical pyramid. By the way, Timur Turlov and his structures repeatedly tried to remove Boyd’s investigation, but their appeals to the courts did not lead to anything: the article “Freedom Holding: the dumbest product of Kazakhstan after Borat” is still in the public domain. We recommend that you familiarize yourself.

By the way, Boyd also comes to the conclusion that the main mechanism of protection against collapse for the Freedom Holding pyramid is the same blocking of money for 93 days. This makes it possible to accumulate the amounts required for current payments.

After the publication of the above-mentioned investigation and a number of similar materials in the Western media, Turlov’s pyramid became agitated and began to actively “clog” the issue on the Internet with laudatory materials. However, we wrote about this at the beginning. Their goal, however, was not only and not so much to praise Timur Turlov, but to omit the journalists in search of an investigation who could not be removed by court decisions.

But the main question remains – why is Timur Turlov still continuing his activities and there are no claims to him in the countries of the former USSR, where he “cuts” the main “loot”?

And the small chest opens simply here. The point is, “cutting the little suckers” (sorry – investors) with the help of the Freedom Finance pyramid is more of a side activity for him. The main thing is that Freedom Finance LLC is an ordinary “laundry” for money that officials have stolen from the budgets of Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and those countries of the former USSR where Turlov works. According to the well-known economic expert Alexey Kushch, over the past year and a half, Freedom Finance Bank LLC has legalized several hundred million dollars for such odious persons as Bulat Utemuratov, Sergey Katsuba, Pavel Fuks, Margulan Seisembayev, Sauat Mynbayev, Andrey Birzhin, Askar Mamin and the whole a number of others. Nationality is very different: the entire spectrum of the former USSR.

But this is already the subject of another investigation and another big story. In the meantime, Timur Turlov frantically tries to disown comparisons with “MMM” and other pyramids. In the vastness of our former country, it turns out. But as a result of publications in the press, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission took over the activities of Timur Ruslanovich Turlov. And these are by no means the corrupt fiscal and supervisory bodies of the countries of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, whose top officials are served by Timur Turlov.

It’s A Chess Family Affair

A remarkable team: The “Chess Family” Peglau from Germany

by André Schulz

12/23/2022 – With nine chess playing members, the Peglau family from Dippoldiswalde, a small town in Germany, is probably the world’s largest chess family. But it definitely is one of the strongest. As the successes of the Peglaus at the recently finished European Blitz and Rapid Championships show.

Photos: Henrik Teske (https://en.chessbase.com/post/a-remarkable-team-the-chess-family-peglau-from-germany)

Markus and Adelheid Peglau have seven children, six girls and one boy – and they all play chess, including their parents. With nine players, the family can easily field an entire team, and that’s what they do, with their own club, Schachzentrum Seeblick Dippoldiswalde, near Dresden. In the Second Women’s Bundesliga West, the team occupies a position in the middle of the field.

Christmas market in Katowice

Ambassador Magnus Carlsen

After returning from purchasing supplies for, “A ‘once in a generation’ winter storm (that) will impact nearly every state and cripple Christmas travel” (https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/21/weather/christmas-arctic-winter-storm-wednesday-wxn/index.html), this writer needed rest and a good, strong cuppa Joe. When waiting for the coffee out came the surfing board. While reading an article at Chess.com the coffee was not the only liquid boiling… The title of the article was, Chess.com Officially Acquires Play Magnus, Carlsen Signs As Ambassador (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chesscom-acquires-pmg)

The article begins, “Chess.com, the world’s largest chess website, has acquired Play Magnus Group, a leading chess entertainment and education company. The proposed acquisition was initially announced on August 24, 2022 and was unanimously recommended by Play Magnus Group’s board. After receiving regulatory and shareholder approval, the acquisition officially closed on December 16, 2022. By sheer coincidence, on the same day, Chess.com reached 100,000,000 members, another major milestone in the site’s history.”


The paragraph that really caused my blood to boil was, “In association with the acquisition of Play Magnus Group, Magnus Carlsen has signed on as a Chess.com ambassador. He will be competing regularly in Chess.com events such as the Speed Chess Championship. On December 18, 2022, Carlsen contested the 2022 Speed Chess Championship Final which was in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire performance by Hikaru Nakamura. More than 200,000 viewers tuned in to watch this highly anticipated matchup.”

Hold on now…wait a MINUTE! “Contested”? “CONTESTED!” Ambassador Carlsen lost, LOST, the “thrilling, down-to-the-wire performance by Hikaru Nakamura.” What? Chess.com did not want to embarrass the new AMBASSADOR?

Nakamura beats Carlsen for 5th consecutive Speed Chess title (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nakamura-beats-carlsen-for-5th-consecutive-speed-chess-title)

‘Aggressive’ Shark Kills Woman

‘Aggressive’ shark likely killed missing woman in Hawaii

By Isabel Keane
December 20, 2022

A missing Washington state woman was likely eaten by an “aggressive” shark while snorkeling in Hawaii, said authorities — who revealed that her husband spotted the possible culprit nearby with “something red” around its gills.

The 60-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was last seen on Dec. 8 when she and her husband were snorkeling at Keawakapu Beach in Maui County, according to Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources on Friday.

Though her body has not been recovered, officials concluded that the woman was killed in a shark attack.

The missing woman’s husband told police he encountered an “aggressive shark” while swimming about 50 yards off the beach. He said he and his wife were not snorkeling next to each other and that he had only been able to see her from time to time.

The man recounted that the shark began to circle him, prompting him to continually pop his head out of the water and scan the surface to try to locate her.

He then spotted the shark in the distance and noticed “something red around the shark’s gills.” At the time, people on the beach began yelling at him to get out of the water because a shark was feeding in the area.

Shock Wave From Sun Has Opened Up a Crack in Earth’s Magnetic Field

Shock wave from sun has opened up a crack in Earth’s magnetic field, and it could trigger a geomagnetic storm

By Ben Turner

The storm is classed as a G1 storm, so is expected to be fairly mild.

A giant coronal mass ejection bursts from the sun toward Venus on Sept. 5, 2022. (Image credit: NASA/STEREO)

A mysterious shock wave in a gust of solar wind has sent a barrage of high-speed material smashing into Earth’s magnetic field, opening up a crack in the magnetosphere. The barrage of plasma could lead to a geomagnetic storm today (Dec. 19), according to spaceweather.com.

The shockwave’s origins aren’t exactly known, but scientists think it could have come from a coronal mass ejection launched by the sunspot AR3165, a fizzing region on the sun’s surface that released a flurry of at least eight solar flares on Dec. 14, causing a brief radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean. 

Sunspots are areas on the sun’s surface where powerful magnetic fields, created by the flow of electrical charges, knot into kinks before suddenly snapping. The resulting release of energy launches bursts of radiation called solar flares, or plumes of solar material called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Once launched, CMEs travel at speeds in the millions of miles per hour, sweeping up charged particles from the solar wind to form a giant, combined wavefront that (if pointed toward Earth) can trigger geomagnetic storms.

Cutting Edge Theory in the C00 French, Chigorin variation

‘Back in the day’ this writer tried everything against the French defense, and it was like banging your head against a brick wall. I particularly recall losing several games to NM Rex Blalock, who if I recall correctly, came from France (not really, but it sure seemed that way). Memory fails, but I probably played 2 Qe2 versus his French at least once, and it was probably a loss. Nevertheless, it was my preferred method of playing against the venerable French defense, always a tough nut to crack, and theresults were much better than with more common lines. There was some success with the line 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. O-O, the C02 French, advance, Nimzovich system, which was used as a surprise weapon when first beginning play. The first time the move 2 Qe2 versus the French defense appeared on the AWDAR it was found appealing. What can I say? I love the offbeat. During the Stein Club daze I went into a Qe2 versus any and everything period.

After 1 e4 e6 one finds the most often played move, 2 d4, has scored 56% in 118490 games according to the ChessBaseDataBase (https://database.chessbase.com/). The move 2 c4 has been played in only 902 games, and is the only move to outscore 2 d4, showing a 57% rate of success. In 2122 games the move of the Queen to e2 has also scored 56%. What did Chigorin know and when did he know it?

Antique Soviet Chess Book Chigorin.Vintage Russian chess books (https://crealandia.com/shop/antique-soviet-chess-book-chigorin-chess-ussr/)

An article entitled, French Defense Chigorin Attack, by misterbasic, published Jul 10, 2016 (https://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-openings/french-defense-chigorin-attack) begins: “When someone plays French Defense (1.e4 e6), they always have something prepared and I know nothing about that opening, so I have started playing the Chigorin Attack, which is the move 2.Qe2.” The first comment was by the aggressivesociopath: “Your opponents are rather militant about avoiding the critical lines. If this is to be a serious discussion, then you should focus on 2..c5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Nf3 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7.” The “aggressivesociopath” must have meant 5. Bg2, the move played by passivesociopaths.

Position after 1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7

This is a key position not only in the Chigorin French, but in any opening in which black has developed the Bishop to g7 and the King Knight to e7. In the main game being presented the player with the white pieces essayed the most often played move according to 365Chess.com, 7 d3, the preferred move of Deep Fritz 13, according to the CBDB. Yet Stockfish 10 shows a predilection for 7 c3, as does Stockfish 14+NNUE at lichess.com. From the position it is obvious the dark squared prelate on g7 is exerting HUGE pressure on the white position. The move 7 c3 blunts the projected force. In addition, the move prepares the possible move of the pawn move d2-d4. But wait, there’s more! After playing 7 c3 white can now develop the Queen Knight to a3, possibly followed by again moving that Knight to c2 in preparation for the move of the d pawn. What’s not to like?!

FM Austin Mei vs GM Joshua Sheng
Winter 1000GM Bay Area IM Norm Invitational Rd 7
French Defense: Chigorin Variation

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7 7. d3 O-O 8. h4 e5 9. Be3 d6 10. Nc3 f5 11. exf5 gxf5 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxe7 Nxe7 14. Nd2 d5 15. f4 e4 16. dxe4 fxe4 17. Rad1 Qe8 18. Nb3 Bxc3 19. bxc3 Qg6 20. Qe1 Bg4 21. Rd2 Rae8 22. Nxc5 Qb6 23. Qf2 Rc8 24. Nxe4 dxe4 25. Qxb6 axb6 26. Bxe4 Rxc3 27. Kh2 Nf5 28. Rb1 Rxg3 29. Rxb6 Rh3+ 30. Kg1 Bf3 31. Bxf5 Rxf5 32. Rxh6 Rxf4 33. Rg6+ Kf7 34. Rg5 Bc6 35. Rh2 Rxh2 36. Kxh2 Rxh4+ 37. Kg3 Rc4 38. Ra5 Rxc2 39. Kf4 Ke6 40. Ke3 Rc4 41. Kd3 Ra4 42. Rxa4 Bxa4 43. Kc4 Kd6 44. Kb4 b5 45. Ka3 Kc5 46. Kb2 Kb4 47. Ka1 Kc3 48. Kb1 Bc2+ 49. Ka1 b4 50. a3 b3 0-1 (https://lichess.org/study/twjlOJV6/oI2GlI9W)

The game was downloaded and, to my surprise, there were annotations, the first time I can recall anything but the game moves being found after clicking on “import.”

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7 7. d3 O-O 8. h4 e5 9. Be3 d6 10. Nc3 f5 11. exf5 (11. Qd2) 11… gxf5 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxe7 Nxe7 14. Nd2 d5 15. f4 e4 16. dxe4 fxe4 17. Rad1 Qe8 18. Nb3 Bxc3 19. bxc3 Qg6 20. Qe1 Bg4 21. Rd2 Rae8 22. Nxc5 (22. c4 Nf5) 22… Qb6 23. Qf2 Rc8 (23… Nf5 24. Rxd5 e3 25. Qe1 e2 26. Rf2 Ne3 27. Nd3 Nxc2 28. Qd2 Qb1+ 29. Kh2 Qd1 30. Rxe2) 24. Nxe4 dxe4 25. Qxb6 axb6 26. Bxe4 Rxc3 27. Kh2 Nf5 28. Rb1 (28. Re1) 28… Rxg3 29. Rxb6 Rh3+ 30. Kg1 Bf3 31. Bxf5 (31. Bxf3 Rxf3 32. Rf2 Rc3 33. Rxb7 Nxh4 34. a4 Ra3 35. c4 Rxa4 36. Rc7 Rf7 37. Rxf7 Kxf7) 31… Rxf5 32. Rxh6 Rxf4 33. Rg6+ Kf7 34. Rg5 Bc6 35. Rh2 Rxh2 36. Kxh2 Rxh4+ 37. Kg3 Rc4 38. Ra5 Rxc2 39. Kf4 Ke6 40. Ke3 Rc4 41. Kd3 Ra4 42. Rxa4 (42. Rh5 Kd6 43. Kc3 Rxa2 44. Kb3 Re2 45. Kc3 Re4 46. Rh8 Kc5 47. Rh7 b5 48. Rc7 Rf4) 42… Bxa4 43. Kc4 Kd6 44. Kb4 b5 45. Ka3 Kc5 46. Kb2 Kb4 47. Ka1 (47. Kb1 Kc3 48. Kc1 Bc2 49. a3 Ba4 50. Kb1 Bb3 51. a4 b4 52. a5 Bc2+ 53. Ka2 b3+) 47… Kc3 48. Kb1 Bc2+ 49. Ka1 b4 50. a3 b3 0-1

1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 (OK, we all know the Fish sets Stock in 2 d4, but where is the fun in that?) 2…c5 (According to the Stockfish program 14+ NNUE at depth 47 at lichess.com the move should be 2…e5, but the Stockfish 15 program at the CBDB at depth 51 plays 2…c5) 3 Nf3 (Stockfish 14+ NNUE at depth 48 plays 3 g3, with 396 games in the CBDB. With 1030 games the move played in the game has been played three times as often as 3 g3. SF 15 at depth 46 will play 3 d3, as have only 19 other players in the CBDB. Then there is Stockfish 061022 which will play 3 b3, as have 84 human players) 3…Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 (Nge7) 6. O-O Nge7 (e5) 7. d3 (c3) O-O (d6) 8. h4 (c3) e5

Fjodor Zugaj (2180) vs Pregarac, V.
Event: Portoroz op
Site: Portoroz Date: ??/??/1996
Round: ?
ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.g3 Nc6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Bg2 Bg7 6.O-O Nge7 7.d3 O-O 8.h4 h6 9.Re1 d6 10.c3 b6 11.Nbd2 Ba6 12.Nf1 Ne5 13.Rd1 Qd7 14.Ne3 Nxf3+ 15.Bxf3 Nc6 16.Bg2 b5 17.Ng4 h5 18.Nh2 Qe7 19.Bg5 Bf6 20.Be3 Rac8 21.d4 c4 22.Bf3 Kg7 23.Bd2 Qc7 24.Kg2 b4 25.Qe3 Rh8 26.Be2 d5 27.e5 Be7 28.Nf3 bxc3 29.bxc3 Rb8 30.Re1 Qa5 31.Ng5 Rb2 32.Qf3 Nd8 33.Red1 Rxa2 34.Rxa2 Qxa2 35.Nh3 Bb5 36.Bg5 Bxg5 37.Nxg5 Qc2 38.Qf6+ Kh6 39.Qxh8# 1-0

The three games below were all found at the CBDB, meaning your writer had to transcribe each and every one of them. Enjoy.

Haik M Martirosyan 2633 ARM vs Conrad Holt 2553 USA
Titled Tuesday intern open 22nd Feb Late

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7 7. d3 O-O 8. h4 e5 9. h5 d5 10. hxg6 hxg6 11. exd5 Nxd5 12. Nc3 Bg4 13. Nxd5 Qxd5 14. Qe3 Qd7 15. Bd2 Rac8 16. Rfe1 Rfe8 17. Qg5 e4 18. dxe4 Bxb2 19. Rab1 Bg7 20. e5 b6 21. Bf4 Qf5 22. Qh4 Bxf3 23. Bxf3 Nd4 24. Bg4 Qxc2 25. Rbd1 Rcd8 26. Bg5 Rd5 27. Bf6 Qxa2 28. Kg2 Nf5 29. Bxf5 Rxd1 30. Rxd1 Bxf6 31. exf6 Qe2 32. Qh6 1-0

SF prefers 25 Qh1!

FM Ricardo B Franca 2278 BRA vs IM Kirill Shubin 2429 RUS
Titled Tuesday intern op 25th AUG

  1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O Nge7 7. d3 O-O 8. h4 e5 9. h5 d6 10. hxg6 fxg6 11. Nh4 Nd4 12. Qd1 Bf6 13. c3 Ne6 14. Bh6 Rf7 15. Bh3 Bxh4 16. gxh4 Nf4 17. Bxc8 Qxc8 18. Qf3 Nh3+ 0-1

GM Evgeni Janev 2487 BUL vs FM Joao Francisco ANG
Loures YM 9th

  1. e4 e6 2. d3 c5 3. Qe2 g6 4. g3 Nc6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. Bg2 Nge7 7. O-O O-O 8. h4 e5 9. c3 d6 10. Nh2 f5 11. exf5 gxf5 12. f4 Kh8 13. Na3 Be6 14. Nf3 Qd7 15. fxe5 dxe5 16. Nc4 Bxc4 17. dxc4 h6 18. Nh2 Qd6 19. Be3 e4 20. Bf4 Ne5 21. Bh3 N7g6 22. Be3 Nxc4 23. Kh1 Qxg3 24. Bxc5 Qxh3 25. Bxf8 Rxf8 26. Qxc4 Be5 27. Rf2 Nxh4 28. Qf1 Qg3 29. Qg1 e3 30. Re2 Qxg1+ 31. Rxg1 Bf4 32. Rf1 Bg5 33. Ng4 Re8 34. Nf2 f4 35. Nd3 Nf5 36. Kg2 Ng3 37. Rfe1 Nxe2 38. Rxe2 Rd8 39. Ne5 Rd2 40. Kf3 Rxe2 41. Kxe2 Kg7 42. Kf3 Kf6 43. Nc4 h5 0-1

Life Is A Game Of Chess

Why Life Is a Game of Chess (And Why It Helps to Know This)

By Darren Matthews

Life is a game of chess.

Right now, you’re thinking one of two thoughts. I know—or more likely, as you reflect on your knowledge of chess and try to form a comparison, is life really a game of chess?

A more significant observation comes when we look for games within our lives.

Competition riddles life. For example, schools are obsessed with league tables, and success is defined more by status than happiness, even though the later is far more important.

Games are everywhere.

Financial health is your credit score. Physical health is your BMI, and education success is judged on the grades you receive and so on.

Life is a game.

Even with this association, I find people end up in one of three positions.

Those who don’t see life as a game

Those who do, but lose

Those who win

Most people don’t see life as a game, let alone a chess game. These people rarely, if ever win. They see luck as a fluke.

It is a big problem.

When you see life as a game, things change.

Luck becomes seen as an opportunity. One you can prepare for and be ready to seize when it appears.

But I digress.

So, what does chess have to do with life? After all, they don’t strike an obvious relationship.

Chess offers insights few consider when seeking to understand life.

When we begin to see the comparison, our minds become open to new ways of living. Decisions take on a different dimension as the future begins to matter more than today.

Chess and life are the same.

Chess And Life

Is the game of life really comparable to chess?

To answer this, I want us to look closer at the game of chess. The classic board game requires many single piece moves. Most of them appear inconsequential.

But combine those moves with a strategy filled with tactical flair and a winner appears.

We believe our decisions embody the same single piece moves chess offers.

Most of our choices and actions appear unimportant to our futures so we act quickly. Our urge to move with haste is enforced by biases telling us we’re right, so we act. We fail to see the relationship between each decision and often it is only a matter of time before we end up losing.

Here lies the truth of this unusual comparison.

Author Allan Rufus said “Life is like a game of chess. To win you have to make a move. Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way. We become each and every piece within the game called life.”

The most important sentence is this: “Knowing which move to make comes with insight and knowledge, and by learning the lessons that are accumulated along the way.”

Insight and knowledge are grasping the connections which exist unseen between every single decision you make and every consequence you create.

The same logic applies when playing chess.

Every single piece moves matters—and life is no different.

Our greatest challenge is that we miss this. Of course, this is compounded by a further problem.

The game of life demands we play many games—often at the same time.