Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest

The USCF has a Forum. In theory, members are allowed to discuss anything Chess related. In practice, the censor will not allow anything deemed controversial, as I learned, much to my chagrin, on numerous occasions.

There are six different categories at which one can post. Under the All Things Chess category one finds a “thread” entitled,
Another Boycott Hits FIDE. This thread was started by ChessSpawn on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:58 am.

by ChessSpawn on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:58 am #321527 … -players/#

“I hope that US Chess will publicly support Nakamura’s position. Perhaps it’s time to start working to replace FIDE?”
Brian Lafferty
“If you play the Caro-Kann when you’re young, what are you going to play when you’re older.” – Bent Larsen

ChessSpawn is Brian Lafferty. One is allowed to use a quote and the Larsen quote is the one chosen by Mr. Lafferty.

I happen to know the next post is by Thomas Magar. If one goes to the USCF forum he would not know this fact. Mr. Magar is from N. Versailles, Pa. I know this because it is stated on the side of the post. One would not know where Mr. Lafferty is located because it is not stated.

by tmagchesspgh on Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:40 am #321529

“The only way to stop this form of discrimination is if all of the top players refuse to play in this type of official mock championship event. However, since there is so much money involved, I do not expect that to happen. Money trumps principle, all pun intended. There will always be players who will cross lines for money, even if it makes them international pariahs.”

The following post is by Scott Parker, former President of the Georgia Chess Association. He is originally from Wisconsin. Scott is a former Georgia Senior Champion who is now rated class A. Although his USCF page shows he has played around 300 rated games since USCF began using a computer program to keep stats in 1991, I can attest that he has played many more unrated games in the “pits,” or skittles room, at the House of Pain. Scott is not known for playing, but directing, and he has directed an unbelievable number of tournaments, devoting countless hours to Chess. One legendary player in the Atlanta area stuck Scott with the moniker, “The Sheriff,” because of his ramrod straight walk, saying, “Scott reminds me of Gary Cooper in High Noon.” Mr. Parker has never cared for the term even though it fits. Another crusty Chess personality once said, “Scott is like E.F. Hutton…when he talks, people listen.”

Postby scottrparker on Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:38 pm #321542

“It’s been time to replace this thoroughly corrupt organization for a long time. Some half hearted efforts have been made, but none of them ever gained much traction. I’m hoping that this may be a catalyst for a real alternative to emerge, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Don’t hold back, Mr. Parker, tell us how you REALLY feel!

Several other posts follow before one arrives at a post by “Allen.” It shows that “Allen” is from Louisville, Kentucky. “Allen” weighs in on everything, and “Allen” has considerable weight with which to weigh in, having posted 6703 times since Jan. 20, 2007. “Allen” is Allen Priest, who was previously on the policy board of the USCF.

by Allen on Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:16 am #321561

“This event was not announced at the recently completed FIDE Congress, nor were there bids, nor was there any review. Just like the Iranian hosting of the women’s world championship, the event was announced late and outside the normal FIDE rules for awarding events.

Agon never paid FIDE the fee for the Rapid/Blitz world championship held in Germany. The powers that be in FIDE decided they would waive that fee and not demand it to be paid. There have been calls to void the contract with Agon – most notably from Americas President Jorge Vega. But that contract is still in effect.

However, to call for US Chess to simply withdraw from FIDE is not realistic. FIDE will have a US national federation. I believe it is far better for that to be us rather than for it to be someone who perhaps likes to curry favor with FIDE and is complicit to FIDE shenanigans. There clearly have been behind the scenes maneuvering over the years to supplant US Chess within FIDE, although those efforts do not appear to have gained much traction.”

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

Allen Priest is rated only 701. THIS IS NOT A MISPRINT! Between 2003 and 2014 Mr. Priest played a total of forty-five (45!) games. I have previously written about Mr. Priest on this blog,and/or an earlier blog, the BaconLOG. I first met him at the ill-fated 2009 Kentucky Open. The lights were not working and I was one of the few who questioned starting the first round sans lights. I found him to be dictatorial and a bully. I was very small when young, and bullied, so because of that first-hand experience, I ought to know a bully when in close proximity to one. Another player, an FM from Tennessee, who gave himself the moniker, “The Nashville Strangler,” felt much the same. One never gets a chance to make another first impression. I lived in Louisville for a few years and while there learned that Mr. Priest was brought into Chess by the man called, “Mr. Kentucky Chess,” Steve Dillard, whom I have written about on this blog. ( Several Chess moms informed me that Allen came to Chess after being involved with the Boy Scouts and Soccer where he “Just wanted to run things.”

Scott Parker then replies:

by scottrparker on Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:11 pm #321564

“What is not realistic is believing that you can somehow reform FIDE from the inside. FIDE has been a corrupt organization as long as I can remember, and I’m well into my seventh decade. It’s governance structure is such that just getting rid of the top guy won’t change anything. Campomanes left, Ilyumzhinov took over, and what, exactly changed for the better? Ilyumzhinov will leave one day, possibly fairly soon, but don’t expect much to change with FIDE when that happens. It’s one thing to stay with FIDE for the nonce when they are the only game in town, as long as you’re also working to supplant them with a better organization. If you’re just going along with them because “somebody else would be worse”, then how do you differ from Vidkun Quisling?”

Someone else came between the two, posting this:

by bruce_leverett on Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:18 pm #321565

“Flag on the play — violation of Godwin’s law — penalty, you have to edit that message to not compare the present FIDE goings-on with World War II.”

Mr. Parker answers this:

by scottrparker on Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:21 pm #321571

“It’s not a violation of Godwin’s Law. It’s a confirmation of Godwin’s Law.

FIDE is an international criminal enterprise that has, at least so far, monopolized international chess. To help US players succeed internationally US Chess has to go along with them for the time being. I get that. But not to also work to supplant them with something better is to become complicit in their actions.”

“All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke


After several more posts by various members Mr. Priest weighs in again:

by Allen on Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:18 pm #321574

“FIDE will have a US national federation. Period. That body will be the one that is charged with looking out for US players interests. I would rather than be US Chess than Susan Polgar and friends.”

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

Let me see now…Susan Polgar was a women’s World Chess Champion. Alan Priest is rated seven OH one (that’s 701). Which one do you think knows more about Chess?

There is more, much more, and I hope you, the reader, will go to the USCF webpage and read all of this important thread, but for now I will conclude with this:

by ChessSpawn on Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:08 am #321586

“Replacing FIDE is the only alternative. FIDE can not, and will not, be reformed from within.”

by Allen on Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:40 am #321589

“Much easier to say than to do.”

And now for the pièce de résistance:

Postby sloan on Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:03 pm #321719

“What do you expect from someone who has made a career of saying, but not doing?”

Will this be an Edward R. Murrow vs Senator Joe McCarthy moment for the good of Chess? One can only hope.

If Alan Priest had been in the old Soviet Union he would have been an “apparatchik.” He clearly prefers to work with a criminal organization from the inside. Scott Parker uses the word “complicit.” Seems I heard that word bandied about often during the sordid Watergate and Iran-Contra affairs, and it will no doubt be used in conjunction with the current Special Prosecutor probe of the Trumpster. As for “working within” FIDE, let me pose this question. What if we exchange “Nazi” for “FIDE?” Can anyone argue that it would have been better to “work within” the Nazi party to engender change? Or would it have been better, historically speaking, to work toward replacing this thoroughly corrupt organization, the position taken by Mr. Parker?

All comments will be published providing they break no law and are within the commonly accepted bounds of decency.

The full thread can be found here:

The Najdorf in Black and White: A Review

Because of having played the Najdorf system during my formative years in the last century I was interested in learning about GM Bryan Smith’s new book on the opening (

I met Bryan

at the 2009 Kentucky Open where he took first place by a half point. There were myriad problems with the tournament, directed by Alan Priest, which included no electricity for the lighting in the first couple of rounds, so it was played in semi-darkness, which seemed to not bother Mr. Priest. After developing a splitting headache, due to the poor lighting, and losing a game, I withdrew from the tournament, but returned the following day to spectate. While Bryan was waiting on the last round games to finish a conversation developed. Bryan is a quite, taciturn young man, the kind of fellow who lets his moves do his talking. I learned he was from Anchorage Alaska, and he is now the first-ever Grandmaster from Alaska. My home state of Georgia has yet to produce a home-grown GM. I recall asking Bryan why he decided to travel to Louisville in lieu of playing in one of the other, larger, tournaments in his area. He answered in a way that said he would rather be a big fish in a small pond that weekend rather than being a smaller fish in a much larger pond. “Better odds of taking home money?” I asked, and he produced a grin. We talked for some time and I transcribed what was recalled of the conversation later that day, but never used it, much to my regret. Bryan graciously answered my questions so what I recall was an enjoyable afternoon conversation with one of the nicest GM’s with whom I have conversed.

I have replayed many Nadjorf games since moving on to playing other openings, but have not devoted time studying the Nadjorf system with the intensity shown earlier when playing the system. For some time I have wanted a book to read on the system in order to compare the way the system is played now as opposed to how it was played last century, but the books are usually dense and voluminous, with a heavy emphasis on variations. Some of the books could be used as a doorstop. When my review copy, published by Mongoose Press (, arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only a small volume of 162 pages. The book is heavy on words, and ideas, rather than being yet another “data-dump.” Some have written books like the magnificent Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953,

by David Bronstein,

et al, cannot be published today because words, conveying ideas, are predominate. This book proves those writers wrong. Most of the variations included are short enough one does not need a board with which to visualize them. One of the players from my early days told me he liked to read a Chess book without using a board. There are enough diagrams for one to utilize this book in that way, which is exactly how I read the book. Then I read it again using a board and pieces because it is that good.

The book begins with an Introduction: The Cadillac of Openings.

“With this book, I present a collection of games played in the Najdorf Sicilian. The purpose of this book is not to be exhaustive – that would require at least ten times the content, and even then it would not encompass a fraction of the analysis and relevant games played in the Najdorf. This book also does not suggest a repertoire for either White or Black – although players can glean some ideas, since I have generally picked games played in the lines I favor. I think it is dishonest for a writer to try to portray an opening in only a positive light: ultimately, even the most objective writers of repertoire books have to massage the facts and minimize the problems of an opening – and every opening has them.

The purpose of this book, rather, is to show how to play the Najdorf, with White or Black, through archetypal games. I believe that by studying the games in this book, one can develop a solid general sense of the different types of game resulting from the Najdorf as played in the twenty-first century. It is my hope that readers will also gain some degree of enjoyment or entertainment from the games, which have been selected not only on their instructional merits, but also for their aesthetic value.”

The book will be judged by the criteria chosen by the author. The question is whether Bryan delivered on his promise. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Baseball terms this book is like hitting a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series!

Bryan continues the introduction. “Having a lifelong opening that one knows inside and out like one’s own house is a major advantage to a chess player. It means that the player can always rely on reaching position that he understands in general terms and knows something about. Perhaps more importantly, though, it gives confidence.”

Reading the above caused me to reflect upon my early days playing the Najdorf. I have never felt as confident playing any opening as I did when playing the Najdorf system. Why did I stop playing the Najdorf system? Bryan continues the introduction, “A sufficiently rich opening will provide immunity against the winds of theory – if one variation is refuted, another can be found, so long as the opening is built on proper principles. I believe the Najdorf can be such an opening. Some may imagine that is is a theoretical labyrinth, suitable only for those with an incredible memory and a willingness to play twenty or more moves of known theory before beginning the game. It is true that there are certain lines in the Najdorf where this is the norm – for instance, the Poisoned Pawn Variation (6.Bg5 e6 7,f4 Qb6). However, the reader will see in this book that these variations can be sidestepped, and that it is indeed possible to play the Najdorf “by the light of nature,” with experience providing a guide. Most of the games I have chosen feature ways of avoiding these quagmires. Despite its sharpness, the Najdorf is an opening built on solid positional principles. It is basically a positional opening.”

When first beginning the Chess road the Dragon variation was very popular. Once a strong player advocated against purchasing a book on the Dragon because “It is written in disappearing ink.” He said that because the theory was changing so fast by the time you read the book, much of it had been refuted. The same could have been said about the Najdorf system. I also recall reading something about there being players who knew the Najdorf, but did not know Chess. I was one of those people, because like others, I knew the Najdorf, but not Chess. After leaving Chess for Backgammon, upon my return to Chess I simply did not have time to keep abreast of the constantly changing theory of the Najdorf system, so decided to learn, and play, other openings. Yet what I learned about Bobby Fischer’s favorite opening has stuck with me, while the other openings never infused me with the confidence felt when playing the Najdorf system.

After the introduction, and before the first chapter, one finds, The Development Of the Najdorf Sicilian, a seven page historical perspective of the Najdorf system. It begins, “The Najdorf can trace its origins to the nineteenth-century German master Louis Paulsen.

Paulsen was an innovator of defense. In an era when 1.e4 e5 was the dominant opening and direct attacking play was the main method of winning, Paulsen understood the concept of asymmetrical play and counterattack. His openings and positional play were often a full century ahead of their time.”

Louis Paulsen was one of the most interesting, and underappreciated, players from the early days of the nineteenth century. Paulsen’s ideas influenced the development of the Royal game greatly. I played openings such as the C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation, for example.

Bryan gives a game between Lewis Isaacs and Abraham Kupchick played at Bradley Beach in 1928, writing, “A forgotten 1928 game from a tournament in the U. S. might be the first use of the “real” Najdorf.”

Lewis Isaacs vs Abraham Kupchik

Bradley Beach 1928

ECO: B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 b5 7. Bf3 e5 8. Nb3 Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Re1 O-O 12. Rc1 Nb6 13. Na5 Rb8 14. Nxb7 Rxb7 15. b3 Rc7 16. Qd3 Nbd7 17. Be3 Nc5 18. Qd1 Qa8 19. Bg5 Ncd7 20. Nb1 h6 21. Bd2 Rfc8 22. Ba5 Rc6 23. g3 Nc5 24. Nc3 Bd8 25. Bxd8 Rxd8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 Qc8 28. Red1 Ne6 29. Bg4 Rc5 30. Qd2 Rc3 31. Re1 Qc5 32. Re3 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Ng5 34. Qd3 d5 35. exd5 Rxd5 36. Qe2 Qc3 37. h4 Rd2 38. Qe1 Ne4 39. Bf5 Nf2 40. Bd3 Nxd3 41. cxd3 Qxd3 42. Rc8+ Kh7 43. Rc1 f5 44. a4 b4 45. g4 Re2 0-1

He culminates the chapter with, “Despite the opening’s great popularity and constant use at the top level for many decades, the Najdorf remains mysterious and has its unexplored areas, with the new ideas waiting to be born. Its attraction for the chess professional today is easy to understand, since it is an opening where it is possible to play for a win with Black, while it is also unquestionably sound. Although positionally and tactically very sharp, the Najdorf player still controls his own fate.”

Chapter one is titled, Va Banque: 6.Bg5. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 the author advocates Qc7. I never played any move other than 7…Be7 because, well, you know, that is the move played by Bobby Fischer. After studying the games, and positions, I came to understand why the author would advocate the move Qc7 for those taking their first Najdorf steps. The amount of material in the main line can be daunting for a neophyte. The fourth game of the chapter is one in which the author had white against Hristos Banikas at Retymnon in 2009. After the obligatory first five moves of the Najdorf Bryan played 6 Bg5, which was answered with Nbd7. “An old and new move – it was played frequently in the 1950s and again in the 2010s – and not so much in-between.” After 7 f4 we have Qc7.

The other chapters are:

2) The Classicist’s Preference: 6 Be2
3) Add Some English: 6 Be3
4) In Morphy’s Style: 6 Bc4
5) White to Play and Win: 6 h3
6) Systematic: g3
7) Healthy Aggression: 6 f4
8) Action-Reaction: 6 a4
9) Odds and Ends

To illustrate what I mean by the use of words, in lieu of variations, to explain what is happening on both sides of the board, look at the position from Game 11: Zaven Andriasian-Ian Nepomniachtchi, played at the 2010 Aeroflot Open in Moscow. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3

The reader finds, “The retreat of the knight to f3 rather than b3 changes nothing in the structure (at least not right away), but the choice of this square has a dramatic effect on the course of the game. In contrast to 7. Nb3, putting the knight on f3 leads to much quieter, more positional play, where White tries t dominate the d5 square. And why is this? Whereas 7.Nb3 allows for White to play f2-f3 with queen-side castling and a king-side pawn storm, after 7,Nf3 this is not possible. White will almost certainly castle king-side. In the meantime, b3 is left free as a retreat square for the bishop from c4. Consequently, rather than opposite-side castling and mutual attacks, you get a more positional struggle.”

Another fine example is from Game 14, Nigel Short

vs Garry Kasparov,

PCA World Championship, game 8, London 1993: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. f4 Nc5 9. e5 dxe5 10. fxe5 Nfd7 11. Bf4 b5

“In this way, Black places the bishop on its best diagonal (the long diagonal) before White can prevent it by Qd1-f3. Such a position might look good for White on the surface-the e5-pawn confers some space advantage and White has rapid development, plus the f-file is open and the white pieces are placed in threatening-looking positions. But such is the poison of the Sicilian. Black too has his advantages, and they tend to be more long-lasting. The bishop which will come to b7 will be very well placed. The advanced e5-pawn is not only a strength, but a weakness. And most importantly, Black has a well placed knight on c5 and a substantial advantage in space on the queen-side – the advance…b5-b4 is constantly looming over White, and the b3-bishop, if not activated in some dramatic fashion, could turn out to be a complete dud.”

One can turn to almost any page and find nuggets of wisdom such as the above illustrating the aims of BOTH SIDES! If one wishes to play the Najdorf system, or play against it, this is the book for you.

The author has dug deep, unearthing this game, found in the notes to Game 24, Judit Polgar

vs Dariusz Swiercz,

which I was unable to locate in any database. Bryan writes, “6…e6 is likely to be met by 7.g4, which looks like a fairly promising line for White – although 7…Nc6 is another possibility for Black to look into. Instead, the originator of 6.Qf3, American master Andrew Karklins, liked to continue with 7.b3. His record against grandmasters with this line was not very good, but he did have one major scalp:

Andrew Karklins

vs Peter Svidler,

World Open 1995

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Qf3 e6 7. b3 Qb6 8. Nde2 Qc7 9. Bb2 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. g4 d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13.
Bg2 Nd7 14. O-O Bd6 15. Qh3 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 Be5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Rad1 O-O 19.Qe3 Bb8 20. Ne4 Ne5 21. Bxe5 Bxe5 22. Nc5 Qc7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Rd7 Qb6 25. Rfd1 Rfd8 26. b4 a5 27. Qf3 axb4 28. axb4 Kf8 29. Kg2 Rdc8 30. R1d6 Qb8 31. Qd3 1-0

This book achieves its aim, hitting the target with a bullseye!

Sitting Kills, Moving Heals

The headline on the post dated March 6 of Spraggett on Chess is, “More bad news for chess players…”( Kevin references a new recently released study, Study shows each hour sitting increases heart disease risk by 14%. This is nothing new because it has been known for a long time that a sedentary lifestyle leads to bad health. Their are many in the chess community who are overweight and I include myself in that category. Like most older people I have gained a few pounds and know from personal experience how difficult it can be to shed them, even with concerted effort. Then there are those who have crossed the line into obesity, such as USCF Board member Alan Priest, who weighs in on almost every thread on the USCF forum. When I first met him at the Kentucky State Championship in 2009 he was huge. The next time I saw Alan was at the scholastic event held at the downtown Hyatt here in Atlanta last year. I could not believe a man that huge could be larger but he has now become gargantuan. My heart goes out to Alan because he obviously has a problem with food addiction. There were a few obese relatives in my family and it did not turn out well for them, with one dropping dead of a heart attack after eating a big mac, and another having to live on dialysis for years. What kind of example is Alan for the children with whom he is in contact at these scholastic tournaments? The best example he could set would be to lose weight, and to do that Mr. Priest needs to begin with an exercise called “push-backs,” as in pushing back away from the table.

Several years ago Dr. Joan Vernikos, research scientist and former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division, wrote, Sitting Kills, Moving Heals: How Everyday Movement Will Prevent Pain, Illness, and Early Death — and Exercise Alone Won’t. “In Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, Vernikos uncovers the unsuspected medical connection between the health dangers of weightlessness in space and the chronic diseases caused by sedentary lifestyles here on Earth. In her research at NASA, Vernikos discovered that movement that resists the force of gravity is essential to good health. In weightlessness, astronauts, who are far fitter than the average adult, seem to rapidly age; their muscles, bones and overall health degenerate to levels usually seen in elderly people. Vernikos found that keeping subjects resting and immobile — an extreme form of the typical American lifestyle — caused the same health problems as extended weightlessness.” (

Dr. Joan advocates standing for two minutes out of every twenty minutes sitting. Most chess players do this without realizing it. Because of nervous energy most players will stand when it is the opponents move. They will also head to the head much more often because of the nervous energy, and walking is a wonderful thing, even if it is only to the lavatory. Health problems arise when a human sits without moving for hours on end, such as someone who sits in front of a computer turned to the USCF forum and weighs in on every thread.

Simply standing is good for the leg muscles. While waiting for a friend whom I had driven to retrieve a prescription he surprised me by returning to the car much earlier than expected. He caught me standing on one leg, and then the other, which he found amusing. “What are you doing,” he asked with a big grin. When I answered, “What does it look like?” he laughed. I told him that standing on one leg at a time was an isometric exercise and he howled with laughter. I thought of this man, who had trouble walking from the car to the drug store and back, later when reading an article, Simple Sitting Test Predicts How Long You’ll Live: Flexibility, balance and muscle strength are key indicators of longevity By Becky Lang ( Can you pass this test?

Fun with Fong and Magar the Morrible

Thomas Magar, known as “tmagchesspgh” on the USCF forum, was the first to comment on the aforementioned post by Mike Murray. He begins his comment(s) with, “Somehow, I am less inclined to believe a blog which has a personal axe to grind for authoritative analysis of a topic.” Mr. Magar is a prolific poster on the USCF forum as can be seen by this being his 2802 post. This pales in comparison to Mr. Allen Priest, writing as “Allen” on the forum, who has made an astounding 4918 posts. He joins Mr Magar by writing, “Having met and interacted with the blogger at issue multiple times, a comment that the blogger might have a personal axe to grind is certainly believable.” This is known as “kill the messenger.” This is a common practice when some cannot refute the message. I will address the axe grinding momentarily, but first I must take exception to something Mr.Magar wrote, “The “Armchair Warrior” has mischaracterized some of their work.” I have done no such thing. What I have done is to simply copy what these eminently educated people have written, and I have copied it verbatim. If Mr. Magar were writing about the JFK assassination he would be known as an “apologist” for the Warren Commission. He would probably write something along the lines of, “What do you mean you do not believe in the magic bullet theory? When I took out my vintage WWII low-powered Italian made carbine, called “junk” by expert military riflemen, and shot into a watermelon from the rear, it went back, and to the left! Not only that, when I lined up two watermelons at an angle from each other, and shot from an angle high above the melons, the bullet entered the first melon, changed direction heading from down to up, zigged to the left, then zagged back to the right and entered the melon, again zigging to the left, where it exited the watermelon, after zagging, then striking Lyndon’s Boy John, who happened to be walking by just as I was demonstrating the power of a magic bullet, in the thigh.”

As far as having an axe to grind, nothing could be further from the truth. But to be as honest as possible, and in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to relate the following. The fact is that some years ago the President of the GCA insisted on holding a Senior tournament that was thought so highly of by Seniors that only EIGHT players entered. He did this against the wishes of many members of the chess community, including the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who had advocated getting a committee of Seniors, such as the esteemed Scott Parker and the highly regarded Michael Mulford, known as “Mulfish” on the USCF forum, together to discuss what kind of tournament should be held. Fun Fong, the POTGCA, nixed that idea, “nippin’ it in the bud,” as Deputy Barney Fife would say. Fun Fong is an emergency room doctor, and as such is the man in complete control. He gives the orders in the same way a General or dictator gives orders, and expects them to be obeyed. Dr. Fong was not happy to read my criticism. When I decided to write another blog, this one, I called former POTGCA Scott Parker, a member of the Emory Castle Chess Camp board, as is Dr. Fong, and asked if it would be OK for me to post some signs for my blog at the Castle tournament which concludes the camp. Scott said he saw no problem with my doing that, as long as I checked with the Chief TD, Colonel David Hater, whom I knew from the House of Pain. I did just that and David was very gracious, shaking my hand and asking how I had been, then walking me around while discussing chess and the best places for me to post my notices. He was called away and I noticed Dr. Fong heading my way so I extended my hand, which was rebuffed rather hatefully. I will admit this was rather embarrassing with all the people around to see what had transpired. I placed a few notices before Jennifer Christianson, a lovely woman familiar to me because her sons played chess at the HOP, walked up and told me Fun Fong had asked her to tell me I would have to take the notices down. After informing Jennifer that I had discussed it with Mr. Parker, and then asked Colonel Hater, she told me to forget about what Fun had said; she would tell him I had permission.

I am a Southern man. I was born and raised in the South, as they say, “by the grace of God.” In the South if a man, any man, has a woman do his bidding for him, he is considered to be not much of a man. I have not written about the incident until now, and have not gone out of my way to spread it around, but when asked, I have discussed it with a few players, who, to a man, feel exactly as I do. There is absolutely nothing Fun Fong can do to change the fact that he is, and always will be, considered “NOT MUCH OF A MAN.”

That said, I do not have a bone to pick, or an axe to grind, with Fun Fong on a personal level. As GM Hikaru Nakamura is so fond of saying, “It is what it is.” Fun Fong is what he is. I do, though, have a problem with what Fun Fong, whom I will admit I think of as “Fun E. Fong,” has done as POTGCA. Rather than instituting changes to the format so that many more Senior players would consider playing, Fun Fong held the same tournament and only thirteen players entered the next year. In order to improve a chess player must acknowledge, and correct, his mistakes. Fun Fong let the chess community know in no uncertain terms that things were going to be his way, or the highway. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is, unfortunately, not the only example of Fun Fong making a mistake again and again. What lit Richard De Credico’s fuse is the GCA made the exact same mistake made at the previous tournament. ( As Mike Mulford has written, the buck has got to stop somewhere, and Fun Fong is the POTGCA, and as such, must be held accountable. I have been around chess in Georgia since 1970 and have never seen any GCA board member engender the enmity of so many.

In the most recent scholastic chess tournament the GCA, under the leadership of Fun Fong, lost a round. How is that possible you ask?

From: Georgia Chess Association
Date: Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Teams Invited to the K-8 Team State Championship

“Dear Parents, Coaches & Players,

Thank you so much for attending the 2015 State Qualifier tournament. Teams invited to the State Championship can be found on our website using this link: Details and registration will be up this week.

We’d like to apologize for the delay we had following round 3. Much time and energy was put into preparing for this event in hopes of running a smooth, on-time tournament. Few are more distressed than we are as volunteers for the technical issues we had with the K-3 section. (See below for details.)

One issue we are trying to address for the future is communication. Our pre-tournament communication with you allowed for a very smooth start. This year chess control was split into 4 sections staffed with more volunteers to help answer questions. It went very well. After the technical issues at round 3 began we had difficulty communicating with the parents. Without carpet in the exhibit halls (which is currently not an option due to the expense) the PA system is ineffective. We are working on finding alternate ways of communicating with you on tournament day in the future if we use this venue.

We would like to thank all the parents and coaches who volunteered for this event and who were supportive through out the day. We can not hold chess tournaments without you.

GCA Scholastic Team

Details of the technical issue: Files for rounds 1 & 2 & 3 were lost on the K-3 laptop with the pairing software. All results for round 1 had to be re-entered. With so many unrated players, when we paired for round 2 to enter those results, the pairings didn’t match the actual round that was played. We had to pair those boards by hand in order to input those results. The same had to be done for round 3. Once we realized how long this would take we decided to go with a 4 round tournament for K-3 and have the other sections play ASAP. Not being able to communicate this to parents was a huge problem.”

There is no explanation for how the files were lost. I have heard they were deleted. This may, or may not, be true, but it sounds like something par for the course for the GCA gang who have trouble shooting straight. I will admit to having a difficult time fathoming how this is possible because when I hit the “delete” key, a small window always appears asking me, “Are you sure you want to do this, dude?”

Upon moving back to my home state the father of a young boy told me an incredible story of how his son had been “shafted” during a scholastic tournament that was so outlandish it was difficult to believe even though I knew this man to be a fine, honest father and strong family man. Since I was newly returned and did not know the people now in charge of chess in Georgia I told the father the BaconLOG was discontinued, and was not certain I wanted to write another blog, and certainly did not wish to write about scholastic chess. There was no one else for him to turn and I do not believe he has ever forgiven me. If I had known then what I now know, I would have started another blog right then and there and published what I had been told.

I have come to think of those in charge of chess in my home state as the Roseanne Roseannadanna’s of the chess world. “Roseanne Roseannadanna” was one of several recurring characters created by Gilda Radner, who appeared on “Weekend Update” in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live airing on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).”

“Eventually, Weekend Update co-anchor Jane Curtin would interrupt, stating, “Roseanne, you’re making me sick.” Curtin would then ask her what her comments had to do with the question. Roseannadanna’s response was, “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something—if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” (

Mr. Magar writes, “I also know Bob Ferguson and have talked with him about his studies.”

I met Bob Dylan once, but was unable to talk with him about his song writing because, after being introduced as the Atlanta Chess Champion, our conversation consisted of him asking me about chess. What did Mr.Magar learn about the Ferguson study? Why did he mention this?

Mr. Magar drops another name, writing, “Ferdinand Gobet was at CMU in Pittsburgh for a time doing some research. I met and discussed some issues with him way back when.”

What “issues” were discussed and did it have anything at all to do with anything about which I wrote?

Mr. Magar writes, “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling. The examination and experimental framework they use is over a very short time frame. Other studies that are over the application of chess study over an extensive time are much more positive with regards to the effects of chess and scholastic achievement. I am well aware of potential structural flaws of some of the studies. However, the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.”

What “other studies?” Please explain what you mean by your vague statement, “…the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.” SHOW US THE EVIDENCE! “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling.” Maybe not to Thomas Magar, but it is to Dr. Zach Hambrick, and that is good enough for me.

Mr. Magar writes, “I could point to anecdotal evidence in my own practice in dealing with special education students in a school and what some of my students have achieved.”

So could I, and many other chess teachers and coaches, but still it would only be “anecdotal evidence.” The reason studies such as this are done is to obtain the big picture.

In Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, by Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli, one finds, “…compulsory instruction is not to be recommended, as it seems to lead to motivational problems.” I could give you an anecdotal tale of a boy to whom I tried to teach chess, not because the boy was interested in the Royal game, but because his mother, who was originally from the home town of Garry Kasparov, Baku, Armenia, wanted him to learn. He was being home schooled after having had “problems” in public school. The time I spent trying to teach the boy, in the home city of Alan Priest, I might add, was like pulling eye teeth, and as far as I am concerned, proof positive that Gobet and Campitelli hit the nail on the head with this one. But, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose Magar and Priest decided to so a study and questioned four hundred ninety nine other chess teachers, and they all reported that “Compulsory instruction was to be recommended because it did not seem to lead to motivational problems.” My “anecdotal evidence would be an outlier, and worthless. Mr. Magar seems to acknowledge this when he goes on to write, “But since I am too busy working to teach chess and do not intend to publish an academic article, you can dismiss what I am about to say.”

And that is exactly what I did, Mr. Magar.

You Must Be Present to Win

Having awakened with a headache Saturday morning the last thing I wanted to do was look at a computer screen. Because light and sound caused pain I stayed in a quiet, dark room most of the day. After taking a handful of 81 mg aspirin, and several naps, the pain diminished to a point nearing evening where it was possible to crank-up Toby and watch a replay of the sixth game of the WC match. As I watched, and listened to the commentary of GM Peter Svidler, and the incessant giggling and tittering of Sopiko, which grates on the nerves like someone scratching a blackboard with fingernails, a decision was made to take a break. Upon resumption of the coverage it was blatantly obvious by the demeanor of Peter that something dramatic had happened, but what? Rather than informing we viewers of exactly what had transpired, Svid “drug it out,” as we say in the South, until I was screaming at the screen, “Get on with it!” Finally, the blunder by the World Champion was shown. It was what Yasser Seirawan would call a “howler.” It was the kind of blunder one would expect from someone rated in the triple digits. When that was followed by a blunder by the former World Champion I yelled, “Oh Nooooooooooooo!!!” This was like watching a game between GCA VP Ben Johnson and USCF board member Alan Priest, both of whom sport triple-digit ratings.

As if it were not bad enough to break away from the action at what turned out to be the most critical part of the game, and possibly the match, the people in charge of the “live” coverage did NOT continue filming, but also took a break. This is absurd! Upon resumption of the coverage all we were left with is the description of GM Sivdler. This is reminiscent of the now infamous “Heidi game,” as it is called. “The Heidi Game or Heidi Bowl was an American football game played on November 17, 1968. The home team, the Oakland Raiders, defeated the New York Jets, 43–32. The game is remembered for its exciting finish, as Oakland scored two touchdowns in the final minute to overcome a 32–29 New York lead. It came to be known as the Heidi Game because the NBC Television Network controversially broke away from the game, with the Jets still winning, to air the 1968 television film Heidi at 7 p.m. in the Eastern Time Zone.” ( The blunders on the board were nothing compared to the decision made by someone producing coverage of the game.

When teaching children to play chess one of the things I have said is, “You must be present to win.” I tell the children that in Las Vegas if one enters a drawing the rules state “you must be present to win.” If your name is called and you are not there, another name will be drawn. “You snooze, you lose,” I say in hopes this will stay with the children. I add that it is imperative they stay focused at whatever is is they are doing and “be present.”

The blunder Viswanathan Anand made is the same kind of move all players have made; he moved too quickly. Peter Svidler said, “If Vishy had taken thirty seconds to look at the position he would not have played that move,” adding, “It is always the quick move that kills you,” or some such. I know that is true from first-hand experience. Vishy was so focused on his plan he neglected to ask himself how the position had changed after the blunder made by Magnus.

I have taught the children what I call the “cardinal” rules of chess. 1) Why did my opponent make that move? 2) What move do I want, or need, to make? 3) Am I leaving anything en prise? Anand obviously did not ask himself any questions, much to his regret. Vishy was so “not there” that he did not watch Magnus play one of the worse moves ever made in a match for the championship of the world. Vishy was not present and did not win.

But what about Magnus Carlsen? He violated cardinal rule number three. I am having trouble getting my mind around the fact that Magnus did not even ask himself the question, “If I play my King to d2, how will my opponent respond?” These are the best players in the world and both drifted away at the same moment. This is INCREDIBLE! This type of double-blunder has happened previously in the games of Magnus. The Legendary Georgia Ironman mentioned the back to back “red moves” (Chessbomb displays the move in red if it is what GM Yassser Seiriwan would call a “howler”) played by Magnus and Levon Aronian recently, adding, “Somehow it is always the opponent of Magnus who makes the second “howler.” Maybe they just do not expect Magnus to make a mistake.” Maybe so, but a wise man always expects the unexpected.

It was so bad during the press conference the moderator, Anastasiya Karlovich, said, “Are there any questions not about the move Kd2?” Everyone wanted to know how Magnus could have played such a horrible move. He had no explanation. It is more than a little obvious things are not right with team Carlsen. This is the main reason I thought Vishy would win the match. Magnus has not played well since winning the title, and his poor play has continued. Vishy had not played particularly well in the year(s) leading up to the first match. Some thought he may “get it together,” but I was not inclined to believe it possible to reverse such poor play, which proved to be the case.

How much did the fact that Magnus would play White two games in a row during the middle of the match factor into the game? I recall reading about a group of mathematicians who “proved” it is much more fair during a shootout in football that the team who goes second will also have the third attempt, and then revert to alternating. This would seem to be inherently better than to have one player play the White pieces twice in the middle of a World Championship match. Who thought of, and implemented this ridiculous format? Could it have been the FIDE ETs”? Back in the day games were played every other day, but now it is two games and then a break. Things were better “back in the day.”

Most have wondered how Vishy will respond to such an oversight, forgetting that Magnus is the one who made one of the worst blunders ever made in a WC match. Magnus has to know that he missed his chance to put the hammer down in the first game by playing 42…Re3. If he had won that game, and also won the second, as he did, the match would have been all over but the shouting. He knows he has only himself to blame for being in a contest. He also knows that even with a win in the first game the match could now be tied, if Vishy had won the most recent game. He also knows it is possible that Vishy could very well be leading the match at the halfway point. Vishy is not the only one seeing ghosts at this point in the match.

I have no idea what to expect tomorrow; probably more of the same. I do, though, expect the players to take a page out of the book of former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura ( and “stay vigilant.” Although down, I still have faith in Viswanathan Anand, and expect him to win the match.

United Scholastic Chess Federation

This past Saturday, July 20, Alex Relyea started a thread on the USCF forum when he published the following:
“As some have pointed out, it is a long time since I have attended an Oklahoma state championship, so I was curious as to how the state champion was determined. In New Hampshire it is all of the New Hampshire residents that have the highest score in the Championship section, so it is possible to have more than one state champion. I believe that it is the same way in Maine, except that the Maine state championship tournament is closed to Maine residents.
The reason I ask is because I notice that Big Chuck Unruh and Little Chuck Unruh, that is CD and CM Unruh, were tied for first this year, and I was wondering if they were co-champions or if one of them won on tiebreaks?
Thank you.”
Alex Relyea

A few hours later, Alan Priest, responded with:
“Ky holds a closed round robin to determine its state champion. The players qualify for the closed based on the top state residents placing in the Ky Open, as well as winners of other events in the year.”
Allen Priest
Delegate from Kentucky

His response has absolutely nothing to do with the question posed by Mr. Relyea. Mr. Priest is a chess politician who was on the board of the USCF (and still may be). Like most politicians who do not answer questions, he provided an answer which was a non-sequitur. Two days later another chess politician, Randy Bauer, decided to get in on the act by throwing in his two cents worth with:
“Iowa has a series of qualifier events where high-finishing players earn qualifying points for the next state championship. Five players plus the defending champion then play a round robin. In the case of a tied state championship there is no automatic qualifier the following championship and the top 6 players qualify.”
Randy Bauer

Mr. Bauer has been on the USCF policy board. Although he has played tournament chess, he is now a chess politician. Either of these two chess politicians could have attempted to find an answer to the question posed by Mr. Relyea, but chose to answer a question that was not asked, just like a politician.
I have no idea who is the champion from Oklahoma. But I do know the results for the USCF policy board have been tabulated. From the USCF website: “Pending certification of the election results by the delegates at the annual meeting, Ruth Haring and Mike Atkins have been elected to three-year terms, and Randy Bauer and Charles D. Unruh have been elected to two-year terms.”
We also learn that, “A total of 2,049 ballots were received for the USCF Executive Board election, of which 2,046 were qualified.”

I do not know the number of USCF members, but from the graph provided by Ruth Haring in the May 2013 issue of Chess Life magazine it is obvious the vast majority of members are not old enough to vote. It is therefore impossible to know what percentage of eligible members took the time and made the effort to vote. I urge you to go to Mark Weeks blog, CHESS FOR ALL AGES to see the graph and read what Mark has to say in response to what Ms. Haring wrote in Chess Life:
“As we look forward to the future it is important that we address membership retention. Existing scholastic programs see constant turnover and we see in our membership data, a membership decline beginning around the age of 11.
Scholastic retention is one of the most urgent and least understood puzzles facing the organization (see chart). USCF needs to focus in on this phenomenon to better understand the dynamics in play and develop strategies to convert scholastic members to lifelong members.”I cannot help but wonder how the two chess politicians who did not answer Mr. Relyea’s question would answer how they intend to “…develop strategies to convert scholastic members to lifelong members.” Since both Mr. Priest and Mr. Bauer have been on the USCF board, and were unable to answer the most important question facing organized chess during that time, maybe the new man on the board, who may or may not be the chess champion form Oklahoma, Mr. Unruh, will be able to answer a question that has had chess politicians scratching their heads for decades, ever since the pooh-bahs here in the US decided to turn the United States Chess Federation into the United Scholastic Chess Federation.

Coaching Kasparov, Volume 2: A Review

In 2009 I traveled to the Opryland Resort in Nashville, Tennessee, for the SuperNationals.

I went to eat during one of the down times and found myself in a room with only one other person, Garry Kasparov. He was holding a gizmo in one hand while putting food into his mouth with his other hand. While eating I could not help but wonder what Garry was doing alone. With people like Kasparov there are usually other people around. Maybe he was enjoying having time alone. I thought about saying something to him on my way out, but what do you say to someone like Kasparov? “Hello Garry. My name is squat and I am an Expert.” That would be analogous to a city councilman from Podunk (choose a state) walking up to the POTUS and saying, “Hello Mr. President. I am Nobody from Nowhere.” I walked on by and noticed he took a quick glance at me…
I had a trunk load of books with me to sell but I realized that was not going to happen after checking out the expansive display in the book room. After mentioning this to the self-proclaimed “Nashville Strangler,” aka FM Jerry Wheeler,

he said one of the fellows working for Malcolm Pein in the book room, Chris, was a friend of his and he could get Kasparov to sign my copy of The Test of Time,,204,203,200_.jpg

the book former Georgia State Chess Champion Michael Decker said was, “The Best of All Time!” That is how I came to have a signed copy of the book. As Garry was autographing his books I was standing there watching when he looked right at me and nodded, so I returned the nod. I have always thought he nodded as a way of thanking me for leaving him alone while eating.
Garry Kasparov playing against 15 young players aged 8 to 14 at a chess event in 2015. Wassilis Aswestopoulos / ullstein bild via Getty Images

Coaching Kasparov, Year by Year and Move by Move
Volume 2: The Assassin (1982-1990)

By Alexander Nikitin

After completion of this book my first thought was, “It will win the Book of the Year award.”

Early in the book we find Kasparov is a speed reader of sorts. “His ability to read entire pages at once, rather than just line by line as we lesser mortals are used to, enabled him to read a thick book from beginning to end in an evening.” Really? Could this possibly be hyperbole? It has been my experience with most speed readers that they sacrifice detail for speed. They do not take time to cogitate while continuing to “read.” Granted, I have never known anyone who could read “entire pages at once”; but still…

“In Belgrade in 1990, the lad from Baku achieved six wins and no losses – a great achievement in a tourney of such a high level. Only once at the very end did Garry find himself on the verge of defeat after a careless opening. Yet he managed to befuddle Timman so expertly that the latter was unable to achieve more than a draw despite being a rook ahead.” (

“July 1982 should be considered the starting point of the work of our powerful, creative team that would work with Kasparov for nearly four years. For a month and a half, Garry and his coaches (me, Shakarov, Vladimirov and Timoschenko) worked in the mountains far from temptations and populated areas.”

“At the end of the session Garry played a training match against Vladimirov. Its unexpected result (3:3) proved to be great medicine for his big head before the upcoming interzonal tournament, whose result no expert was prepared to predict in advance.”

“Garry was seconded at the tourney by me, Shakarov and Valery Chekhov.” (No Vladimirov! AW) Botvinnik as always limited himself to general advice and long, deep telephone conversations with Garry and his mother. Garry was quite impressionable and constantly sought approval of his decisions and actions. The mentality of a man from the south means that approval had to come from a universally respected person, and Botvinnik was an ideal figure for that. Conversations with the teacher were effective psychotherapy for Garry for about five years, but the they transposed into more of a ritual.”
International Grandmaster and World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik in Moscow (

“It was only at the end of the Olympiad, once victory of the Soviet grandmasters had been assured, that Karpov

committed an error in suddenly refusing to play against Switzerland, as had been originally planned. In doing so he really did leave Kasparov in a tricky situation, who now had just a few hours to plan how he would take on Korchnoi with black.

Even though this was Kasparov’s eight game in a row without a break, his duel with Korchnoi

would go down in history as one of the most exciting games ever seen at an Olympiad. When the excited winner relayed the moves to me in Moscow I was spellbound by the events that had taken place on the board, and then I spent ages with my own chess pieces trying to figure out what had happened.” (

We learn how Kasparov came to play the Tarrasch Defense. John Hartmann, writing in the January, 2020 issue of Chess Life magazine, wrote, “I have long thought that the Tarrasch Defense is the swiss army knife of chess openings.”

“Vladimirov and I spent half a year analyzing the subtleties of the Tarrasch Defense to death.
At first, Garry was unimpressed with our initiative, but we convinced him by demonstrating refutations to the unflattering evaluations of this classical opening contained in many textbooks. Eventually, his eyes began to sparkle at the notion and he joined in with our investigations, contributing a number of interesting ideas.”

“Garry certainly didn’t expect an opening setup so criticized by theory to bring him such a large number of victories and to essentially solve the problem of the black pieces in all matches of the candidates cycle. During these two years (1983-84) Kasparov deployed the Tarrasch in twelve games in official tournaments and matches, and on no occasion did he obtain a worse of unpromising position, no matter how well prepared or strong his opponents were.”

“However, time was to confirm that Kasparov didn’t like openings “imposed” on him. The fact that the idea of deploying the Tarrasch didn’t come from him made this somewhat a “Cinderella” of an opening in his repertoire-a poor cousin deprived of trust and affection. The two defeats that Garry recorded at the start of his first match with Karpov, in games that began with the Tarrasch but which were actually lost in the middle-game while the opening wasn’t responsible, conclusively turned him away from that defense.”

When reading this I could not help but think of Bobby Fischer…

Bobby allowing anyone to “impose” an opening on him is unfathomable! Then we read the following:

“It would be about an hour before the game was due to begin, after he had eaten lunch and was putting on his evening suit, that opening variations would incessantly spin in his head and completely unexpected ideas would occur to him, I termed this intensification of his thought process “unfortunate insight.” It was then that he would find slip-ups, most often than not imaginary, in our analytical work. This would last about half an hour and was an unpleasant trial for his coaches’ nervous systems. Without looking at a board, none of us was capable of maintaining a meaningful argument with a supergrandmaster, as the speed of the computer in his head was incomparable to our arithmometers.”

The fact is that the, “powerful, creative team that would work with Kasparov…” were slowing him down!

Later we read, “The young and hard-working Chekhov,

who had briefly joined our team for the candidates’ cycle, would have been very useful on our-subsequent journey, and at this match we had a chance to get to know each other better. Valery found it tough to bear the nervous, negative tension that pierced relations between the coaches and a player even during a successful battle, and he desired to play a role no more.”

Seems it gets hot in the kitchen…

We learn things like, “The crafty politician Florencio Campomanes immediately grasped what this was all about. Being a longstanding friend of Karpov, the FIDE president also got involved and became a noticeable figure in our show, although he was really only a stooge.”

I have heard Campo called worse. I met him once. Campo was one of, if not the most unctuous people involved with the world of Chess.

We learn the author was a “quiet revolutionary” when he writes, “The Karpov of those years was for me a symbol of the injustice imposed in our country by the communist regime. So my wish to help Garry overthrow the world champion was not only a desire to keep my promise of years earlier, but also a quiet protest against our society’s way of operating.”

Really? Read on to learn why…

“At the same time, the list of grandmasters and coaches involved in aiding Karpov was a veritable nightmare: grandmasters Vaganian, Geller, Zaitxev, Polugaevsky, Balashov,Tamaz Georgadze, Lerner, Mikhalchishin ( a former student of IM Boris Kogan – AW), Makarychev. The list of masters began with the highly experienced Podgaets and Kharitonov, followed by young masters serving in the so-called sporting squadron and carrying out heavy lifting such as choosing Kasparov’s games or putting together game selections in the opening repertoire that Karpov planned for the match. This monster-sized preparation was financed by the state, Moscow and army sports committees, as well as the Komsomol leadership, which provided a country house to their favorite at a resort in Latvia.”

This was obviously a match between Samson and Goliath.

Then comes several pages concerning the ill-fated first match in which Kasparov showed he was not ready for prime time by going down 0-5. “It’s known that Karpov constantly adjusted his match strategy, and now, having been handed a huge advantage on his plate by his opponent, he decided to finish Kasparov off with a 6:0 score. All he had to do was play slightly mor actively, make his play more complex and dynamic, and he would gain a quick win, as the challenger, already crushed, would be incapable of solving even moderately complicated problems. However, you needed to know Karpov’s character – he decided not only to win 6:0, but to achieve this result solely due to Kasparov’s errors, in order to further humiliate him and make him consider himself worthless. Karpov decided to wait for Kasparov to blunder, and to wait manifestly. In this cruel game of cat and mouse, the cat would suddenly stop running after the condemned victim. This, as it turned out, was his key mistake.”

Kasparov turned into a Stonewall, just like the famous Confederate General:

After holding firm, the young Kasparov began to win. Then we read, “Once game 47 finished Karpov suffered a nervous breakdown that prompted interference by sporting and other officials of various ranks who were somehow involved in the match. They rushed around like headless chickens, not knowing what to do. During that time Karpov had managed to take a course of recovery in the decompression chamber of the Institute of Space Medicine.”

It was not enough. Karpov returned to battle and was beaten like Mark Taimanov was beaten by Bobby Fischer.

“A decision to end the match was taken at the level of the Party Central Committee, and unchesslike maneuvers began.” (What, exactly, are “unchesslike maneuvers”? AW)

The chapter culminates with, “Now that this is all history you can burst out laughing at the micromanagement sometimes demonstrated by our government, ignoring far more important matters for the country. Maybe that is why our ranking fell so low in standard of living compared with other countries?” (Was a Chess match really so important that the “government” ignored far more important matters? AW)

Chapter 5, Ambitions and Nerves (Match 4, 1987) begins, “In the day when Botvinnik and Petrosian were champions chess remained a prestigious, “royal” game, and world champions were respected. However, they didn’t play any remarkable role in public life. When they became champions, they were mature, formed personalities, award of their weight and place in society. There were almost no chess professionals in the western world playing for a living, and only 20-30 grandmasters from the USSR and Eastern Bloc countries were financed by the state. This enabled them to remain at the top of the list of the strongest chess players in the world. It hence demonstrated the “superiority’ of the socialist way of life in those countries. However, even those grandmasters could not publicly call themselves professionals. Formally they ranked as undergraduate students, post-graduate students, military personnel or sports instructors.
Bobby Fischer’s storming of Mount Olympus in 1972 was accompanied by an unprecedented chess boom. For the first time, chess was on the radar screens of many politicians, forcing its way to the front pages of leading newspapers, and even gained the attention of businessmen. Fischer could easily have become an important public and even political figure on the back of his remarkable popularity. However, he, just like his legendary fellow-countryman Paul Morphy, suddenly walked away from chess after attaining global recognition. The mystery surrounding his peculiar reclusion managed for several years to retain the heightened public interest in this wise but, as it turned out, harsh game capable of breaking the character and even sanity of grandmasters. However, the public demanded new heroes, and they appeared very quickly.”

On page 68 the reader finds, “Before the start (of what has become known as KK4, the fourth World Championship match contested by K&K – AW), Kasparov presented his autobiographical book Child of Change, written by an English journalist. The book turned out to be a pretty poor one. Moreover, it was hardly wise to try and time its publication to coincide with the start of the match. However, the laws of commerce dictate certain decisions.”,204,203,200_.jpg

I checked with the Gorilla (Amazon) to find a first edition booking for $1002. Gary Kasparov is listed as the author. In an excellent article written by GM Jon Speelman

in The Guardian, the following can be found: “In his autobiography, Child of Change, written by Donald Trelford, Kasparov gives a presumably slightly apocryphal account of how he picked up chess by watching his parents trying to solve a problem.” (

“Just like before the match with Korchnoi in 1983, Garry’s bravado started to slip a few days before we began. The day of the first game he was in a very tense and defensive state of mind. His psychological disturbance became clear after the tragic second game, when he deployed the English opening for the first time. Garry went for a well-known line, hoping to try a new idea discovered in Zagulba that changed the position’s evaluation in white’s favor. Karpov intuitively sensed a trap, and, after thinking a little, pulled from the depth of his memory a counter-idea which, as later transpired, he had analyzed about twelve years earlier. The effect was breathtaking. Garry spent an incredible 83 (!) (the exclam is in the book – AW) minutes on the deciding whether to capture a dangerous pawn. He seemed to be in shock. Once the game was over, he was unable either to show us cohesive variations or to explain coherently on what he had spent so much time. It was hard for him to count on success after such a “snooze”, and he was severely punished. (

“During a five-hour game, chess players have perfected the stereotypical alternation between heavy pressure (when thinking what move to make) and, relatively speaking, a rest mode (during the opponent’s move). A grandmaster’s body is used to this work regime, and any sharp deviations from it impinge on the quality of their work. Almost an hour and a half of intense thinking while bearing nervous tension, worries and doubt, provoked a depressive, faltering state in Garry that lasted the rest of the game and led to him forgetting to press his clock shortly before time control, when he just sat at the board in a detached pose. In accordance with the rules, nobody could tell him of his misstep. Garry only snapped out of it when the arbiter was required to come to the board and stand next to the table, ready to declare the game lost on time a couple of minutes later. The champion’s loss in this game was the logical conclusion of the factors involved. The most important of these was that his opponent noted his awful psychological state, which encouraged Karpov at the start of battle.”

“Had Karpov not created himself problems in the English Opening we would have had a tougher time, as it took ages for Garry to recover. He was constantly criticizing himself, which merely drained his strength. So we spent the whole subsequent year racking our brains to try and figure out why, despite winning game two, Karpov would never again repeat his successful idea.”

“Before us was now a new Kasparov, believing in Kabbalah numerology

and all sorts of superstitions. Prior to game 16, instead of serious preparation, he attempted to convince both himself and us just as seriously that he always plays game 16 wonderfully. ( As a result, instead of a wonderful game, he lost his way and Karpov leveled the score. Constant nervous tension led him to forget his opening analysis. He couldn’t remember the precise paths devised by his seconds, and in game 21 he even offered a draw in a position where he had a material advantage without compensation for his opponent.” (

Then there is this:

“A person needs a goal in life, and really several, otherwise their existence on Earth transforms into nothing but a biological process.”

This caused me to recall something said by the Chess player/artist, Marcel Duchamp:

“It evokes Duchamp’s claim that he had given up art to become a “respirator,” because, as he said, “each breath is a work which is inscribed nowhere.”

Chapter 5, Ambitions and Nerves (Match 4, 1987)

“So, the fourth K vs K match had ended in a draw. It was unusually nervy and had exhausted everybody with its tension, which sometimes even arose when we least expected it. Games from this match were painful for me to recall for a long time to come, just like touching raw nerves, as there had been so many mistake in them – sometimes, quite strange ones. During this standoff (here this word is more apt than “battle” or “duel”) psychology dominated chess creativity for the first time.

By the was, this was the first time that Garry played a title match without professional psychological help. Even the faithful doctor Gasanov was left at home. The champion decided to place himself in the hands of the psychological mastery of his mother and Litvinov. (KGB-AW) Alas, events proved yet again that common sense, life experience and the greatest of intentions cannot replace professional know-how in extreme situations.

Karpov, meanwhile, had delivered us another surprise in this match. After his failure in the previous match he lost faith in Dzhuna and found support in Dadashev. Yes, he was being supported by that psychic psychologist who had aided Garry in the previous matches. Such a switch of teams by a trainer is a hard blow for a sportsman, and indeed a step that forever darkens the reputation of the defector. The transfer of a psychologist to the enemy camp is nothing short of treason. After all, for a psychologist to provide real help to a patient the latter has to open up to them fully, recounting all their weaknesses in order to help the expert identify new reserves of character and mental balance. A psychologist for a sportsman relying on them is like a priest listening to a confession. And there is no greater crime than retelling somebody’s confession or using what they said to harm them. Evidently, Dadashev considered his transfer from Kasparov to Karpov to be nothing more than replacing his patient. As Dadashev would say later, he gave Karpov three pieces of advice. Karpov followed two of them to the letter, but ignored the third and failed to win the match for that reason.”

I will conclude with this:

The 55th USSR championship was held in 1988 in Moscow. All the strongest Soviet players took part. This time, Kasparov was unable to steal a lead on his eternal shadow, and these “Chuckle Brothers”
“Chuckle Brothers”

shared the top two spots in the table. However, the match between the two top players, which was stipulated in the tournament rules, was never held…”

You will have to read the book to learn the reason why they did not contest another match.

This concludes the review. I could continue and write just as much, or even more about the first eighty-five pages of the book. There are a total of 264 pages, six of which are pictures; and thirty comprise the appendix. The rest of the book consists of thirty-nine well annotated games. I will present the first of the thirty-nine games, including the entire preface so you will understand why I think so highly of this wonderful book:

The Yugoslav city of Bugojno hosted a grandmaster tournament that proved to be the scene of one of Kasparov’s most stunning performances. He achieved a number of combinational victories, though by that time we were all used to those. For me, a win that on the surface looked quite simple was a real phenomenon. Above all, it was a victory over himself. Up until Bugojno he had only managed a single draw versus the ex-world-champion. Two fierce attacks by Garry had crashed against the armor of fantastically skilled defense.
Several months before the Yugoslav tournament, another ex-world champion, Boris Spassky,

my childhood friend, had flown into Moscow. The three of us spent several evenings engaged in long conversations that were most useful for Garry. In one of them, the lad complained that he found it impossible to bread the defenses of Iron Tigran. Boris, who had of course played two world title matches with Petrosian and had studied his play thoroughly, gave a quite surprising reply: “Tiger, however paradoxical it sounds, possesses fantastic tactical vision that against the background of his immensely subtle understanding of positions and supernatural sense of danger nobody notices. Try not to sacrifice anything, and in general, don’t play directly against him. He’ll always find a defense, no matter how improbably, against concrete threats. His Achilles heel is defense in a slightly worse position, especially when he has no counterplay. Even then, you have to positionally squeeze him gently, without rushing and without making any sudden movements.”
The careful reader might note that the recipe for beating the great defender contained components that were quite alien to the playing style of the young and temperamental grandmaster. I had no doubt that two or three years later Garry would learn to play in that style, too. However, when it came to chess improvement he preferred leaps to measured walking. Half a year after our conversations with Spassky the lad once again met the cunning Tiger in battle.

Well, take a look at how he digested the lessons of the former matador.

G. Kasparov – T. Petrosian

Bugojno. International tournament. 15.05.1982
Bogo-Indian Defense [E11]

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ (In the language of professionals, this check is a demonstration of a peaceful frame of mind. Petrosian clearly didn’t want to repeat their recent clash in the sharp 3…b6 4.a3 Bb7 5.Nc3 d5 6.cxd5 Nxd5 system, which he only won after a massive effort.) 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Bxd2+ 6.Qxd2 0-0 7.Bg2 d5 8.0-0 dxc4 9.Na3 c5 (A hard-to-spot inaccuracy dictated by black’s confidence that the boredom being created on the board was not Kasparov’s cup of tea and that a peace treaty was around the corner. It was more accurate to advance this pawn after the initial 9…Rd8 10.Qc2.) 10.dxc5 Qxc5 11.Rac1 Nc6 12.Nxc4 Qe7 13.Nfe5 Nxe5 14Nxe5 (The exchange of knights actually deepens black’s difficulties in developing his queenside. It was only his absence of pawn weaknesses and the young man from Baku’s volatile chess temperament that gave Petrosian hope that the threat would pass, even if more slowly than he would have liked.) 14…Nd5 15.Rfd1 Nb6 16.Qa5! (A wonderful queen maneuver paralyzing black’s queenside. It suddenly transpires that the black knight’s transfer has been a complete waste of time, as he cannot even pressure white in the center. So instead he needs to make the last possible useful move.) 16…g6 (The previously planned 16…f6 weakens the seventh rank, and this sharply stregthens the effect of the white pieces’ invasion along the c-file – 17.Nc4 Nxc4 18.Rxc4 b6 19.Qc3 Ba6 20.Rc7 Rad8! 21.Rxe7 (21.Rxd8 Qxd8 22.Bf1 Rf7) and then 21…Rxd1+ 22.Bf1 Bxe2 23.Qc7! Rxf1+ 24.Kg2 Bd3 25.Rxg7+ Kh8 26.Rg4 with a win) 17.Rd3! (An excellent move, stamping out the attempt at a further exchange – 17…Rd8? 18.Qc5! while preparing to gain the c7 square for the white pieces.) 17…Nd5 18.e4! Nb6 (He needs to go back, as 18…Qb4? 19.Rxd5!, 18…Nb4? 19.Rc7, and 18…b6 19 Qd2 Nb4 20.Rd6! are equally unappealing. Petrosian again hopes to chase the white knight from the center.)

19.Bf1! (Just a year earlier Garry could not have come up with such a move – his level wasn’t there yet. It’s rare when a piece returning to its starting square decided the game. Now, Petrosian’s sole hope of saving the game by breaking out with 19…f6 20.Nc4 Nxc4 21.Rxc4 b6 would turn out to be suicide – 22.Qc3 Ba6 23.Rc7, and all because the crafty bishop now protects the rook, while the reply 23…Qc7 is not longer available.) 19…Re8 20.Rdd1! Rf8 21.a3! (Now even the pawn sac 21…f6 22 Nc4 Bd7 23.Nxb6 axb6 24.Qxb6 Bc6 fails to slow the chain of events, as 25.Bb5 opens all the doors to black’s house.) 21…Kg8 23.a4! (White’s last three modest pawn moves, like an ancient form of Spanish torture, have prevented black’s king from moving – 23…Kg7 24.Rc5! f6 25.Nc4 Nxc4 26…Rxc4 b6 27.Qc3. Petrosian, disappointed, attempts to exchange a rook pair. However, his king on the eight rank means that even hoping for a miracle is a wast of time.) 23…Rd8? 24.Qc5! (Now black immediately loses with 24…Qe8? 25.Ng4!, although the “better” 24…Qxc5 25.Rxd8+ Qf8 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 leads to a position after 27.Rc7 where resistance is pointless. Therefore, black resigned.

“I don’t recall Petrosian ever losing to anybody else in such style. After analyzing this masterpiece of positional skill, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing more I could teach Garry about chess. He had demonstrated that he knew how to do absolutely anything. My function now could only be to help him prepare for competitions and give advice of an experienced master.”

If you like reading about the history of the Royal game, and about the behind the scene machinations involved in Chess at the highest level, and replaying extremely well annotated games, this book is for you! This book, too, will stand ‘the test of time’.

The book was published by Elk & Ruby. Please check out the website located here:

Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 ( “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” ( Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games ( Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.


AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”