Shanglei Lu Seeks Bishop’s Opening Truth

In the recently completed Chinese Chess Championship Shanglei Lu played the Bishop’s opening four times out of the five games in which he had the white pieces. In round six, facing Yi Wei, after 1 e4 e5, Lu played 2 Nf3. I wondered why…or if there had been a history of the Bishop’s opening being played previously between the two players, but could find no earlier encounters with the opening at the page devoted to the games between the two players at 365Chess ( What I found was that there have been twenty games contested between the two players since 2013, only thirteen being classical. Six games either rapid or blitz games, with no score given for the 2014 Kings Tournament Blitz. This means an astounding 35% of the games for perusal are quick games!

It brought a tear to my eye to see that at the ChessBomb, after 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 is a colorful move…”The truth, as it was known in those far off days,” ( according to Tartakower, in the preface to a Bishop’s opening game between Bowdler and Conway, on page 244, played in London way back in 1788 in the book, 500 Master Games of Chess,

by Dr. S. Tartakower and J. Dumont. 2 Bc4 is not the brightest red move, nor is it the second brightest shade, but it appears to be what I would call the third grade shade. How bad is the move numerically speaking? After 2 Nf3 white, according to the Stockfish program at ChessBomb, enjoys an advantage of +0.73. After playing “the truth,” 2 Bc4, black enjoys a minuscule advantage of -0.15 if he plays 2…Nf6. Learning this brought a tear to my other eye.

Oh well, I still have memories of playing “the truth” with regularity at the Stein Club

Whatever happened to Atlanta’s Hippies?

Super soft t-shirt inspired by The Stein Club in Atlanta.

Opened in 1961, the Stein Club was a beloved neighborhood bar located at 929 Peachtree Street. For a time, regulars could even bring in their own steins (mugs) to store in the cooler, ready for their next visit in for a cold beer.

After 39 years of fun, the Stein Club closed its doors in June 2000. Two 21-story residential and retail towers called Metropolis now sit over top of where the Stein Club once was.

Made and printed in the USA. We’re very proud to help you share Atlanta memories.

Stein Club — Smoky, grubby and utterly without pretension, the tiny Peachtree Street bar provided a cozy refuge from trendiness and posers for nearly 40 years before the walls came down to developers in 2000.↵↵ ↵Twelfth Gate Coffee House — It represented relaxed bohemia in Midtown; Wet Willie played free on Wednesdays. (

located on Peachtree street near tenth, ‘back in the day’.

"The Strip," looking north on Peachtree Street from 10th Street in 1977.

This was around 1970 and the area was known as “The Strip,” which was the “counter-culture” area of the city, where we hippies hung out because of all the “counter-culture” shops, known as “head shops,” short for “pot head.” It was a very colorful area, full of beautiful hippie chicks,

and there I was, enthralled with the Royal game, inside the Stein Club, looking for an opponent.

There was a rotund gentleman, Bill Bush, who wore suspenders and had played in USCF tournaments, who would come in after work, order a pitcher of beer, and take on all comers. I was one of the “comers.” He beat me like a drum until one day I played “the truth.” Bill sat back, paused to take a large gulp of beer, and then looked me straight in the eye before saying, “There’s no disguising intentions when you play that move.” The game took a long time for a Stein Club game and as other players entered they began talking about the game. “What opening was it?” one of the later arriving players would ask. “The newcomer played 1 Pawn to king four, and Bill responded with his usual Pawn to King five. Then the new guy played 2 Bishop to Queen Bishop four.”
“The new guy played the Bishop’s opening?! Well I’ll be damned…”
The “new guy” defeated Bill Bush for the first time ever and now had a name. Bill had drained his pitcher during the game so he got up and left…We played a few more times but he never scored again.

  1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 (I find it interesting that Komodo at the ChessBaseDataBase prefers 4 Bb3. Stockfish plays the game move) 4…d5 5. Bb3 a5 (In the fourth round Jinshi Bai played 4…Bb4+, which is the choice of Komodo, but in the other three games played with this opening 5…a5 was played)
  2. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. exd5 cxd5 (This is the choice of SF, but 8…Nxd5 was played by Yan Liu in the second round) 9. Bg5 (This is the choice of all the engines) 9…Be6 10. Na3 Nbd7 (This move was played by Wenjun Ju in the 8th round, with the game ending in a draw, and by Di Li in the 10th round, with the game being won by Di Li. But here’s the deal…although 10 Nbd7 has been the most often played move, SF would play 10…Nc6; while Komodo would play 10…h6, which was seen in the following game:

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vsYu, Yangyi (2709)
Event: ch-CHN 2020
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 12/29/2020
Round: 10.5 Score: ½-½
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 cxd5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Na3 h6 11.Bh4 Nc6 12.Nb5 Bb8 13.O-O O-O 14.Re1 Ra6 15.h3 Re8 16.Rc1 Qd7 17.Bg3 Bf5 18.d4 e4 19.Bxb8 Rxb8 20.Ne5 Qe7 21.f4 Be6 22.c4 dxc4 23.Bxc4 Bxc4 24.Rxc4 Rd8 25.Qc1 Rb6 26.Nc3 Nxd4 27.Nxe4 Ne6 28.f5 Nd4 29.Qf4 Rb4 30.Rxb4 axb4 31.Ng4 ½-½

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vs Liu, Yan (2524)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/08/2021
Round: 2.1 Score: ½-½
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 Nxd5 9.O-O O-O 10.Nbd2 Bg4 11.Nc4 Qc7 12.d4 e4 13.h3 Bh5 14.g4 Bg6 15.Nfe5 Bxe5 16.Nxe5 Nd7 17.Nxg6 hxg6 18.Qe2 f5 19.f4 Kf7 20.c4 Nb4 21.c5+ Nd5 22.Ra3 Nf6 23.Bc4 Qd7 24.Rg3 Rh8 25.Qg2 Rh7 26.gxf5 gxf5 27.Kf2 Kf8 28.Ke2 Nb4 29.Rd1 Rd8 30.Rg6 Nbd5 31.Rg1 e3 ½-½

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vs Bai, Jinshi (2618)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/09/2021
Round: 4.1 Score: ½-½
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 a5 8.c3 Bg4 9.h3 Bxf3 10.Qxf3 a4 11.Bc2 O-O 12.O-O Nbd7 13.Rfe1 Re8 14.a3 h6 15.exd5 cxd5 16.d4 Qb6 17.Rab1 exd4 18.Rxe8+ Rxe8 19.Bxa4 Re7 20.Bxd7 Rxd7 21.cxd4 Qxd4 22.Nb3 Qb6 23.Qd3 Ne4 24.Nd4 Rc7 25.Qe3 Rc3 26.Qe1 Rd3 27.Nf5 Rd2 28.Ne7+ Kf8 29.Nxd5 Qd4 30.Ne3 Nxf2 31.Rc1 g6 32.Rc4 Qd3 33.Rc3 Qd4 ½-½

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vs Ju, Wenjun (2560)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/12/2021
Round: 8.1 Score: ½-½
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 cxd5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Na3 Nbd7 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.O-O O-O 13.Re1 Re8 14.Nd2 h6 15.Bh4 Nc5 16.Bc2 Bd7 17.d4 exd4 18.Rxe8+ Qxe8 19.Nxd4 Nfe4 20.Nf1 Qe5 21.f3 Nf6 22.Qd2 Ba7 23.Bf2 Ne6 24.Re1 Qc7 25.Ng3 Nxd4 26.Bxd4 Bxd4+ 27.Qxd4 Ra6 28.Bd3 Re6 29.Kf2 b6 30.b3 Qd6 31.Re3 Kf8 32.h4 Qc5 33.Ne2 Ke7 34.g4 g6 35.Qf4 Rxe3 36.Qxe3+ Qxe3+ 37.Kxe3 Kd6 ½-½

Lu, Shanglei (2615) vs Li, Di (2561)
Event: ch-CHN 2021
Site: Xinghua CHN Date: 05/14/2021
Round: 10.1 Score: 0-1
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence
1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bb4+ 7.c3 Bd6 8.exd5 cxd5 9.Bg5 Be6 10.Na3 Nbd7 11.Nb5 Bb8 12.O-O O-O 13.Re1 Ra6 14.d4 e4 15.Nd2 h6 16.Bh4 Bf4 17.c4 g5 18.Bg3 Bxd2 19.Qxd2 dxc4 20.Bc2 Nc5 21.f3 Bf5 22.h4 e3 23.Rxe3 Bxc2 24.Qxc2 Nd5 25.Re2 Nd3 26.Qxc4 gxh4 27.Bh2 N5f4 28.Rd2 Rc6 29.Qb3 Qg5 30.Kh1 Re8 31.d5 Nc1 32.Qd1 Nfe2 33.Rd4 f5 34.f4 Ng3+ 35.Bxg3 Qxg3 36.dxc6 Re1+ 37.Qxe1 Qxe1+ 38.Kh2 Qg3+ 39.Kh1 h3 0-1

This entry in the Flashback Fotos series takes a look at Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood during a generation of change and growth from 1970-1990 as seen through the lenses of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's photographers and others archived in the Georgia State University Digital Collections Department. In this September 1968 photo, a group of hippies hang out in front of a Midtown Atlanta building. Other Flashback galleries: Auburn Ave. | Ponce de Leon Ave. | Cabbagetown
Atlantans Leigh Bunkins and Tom Duggins campaign for the environment in Hurt Park on April 23, 1970.

 Peace and love came to the Strip in the 1960’s. Then it vanished.

 By Rick Briant Dandes

Peace and love came to the Strip in the 1960’s. Then it vanished.

Then it was gone with the wind…

Jeffery Xiong Teaches The Truth

GM Jeffery Xiong

Jeffery Xiong is a fighter at heart | Photo: FIDE

had his back to the wall and was in a must win situation facing GM Jan-Krzysztof Duda

in the FIDE World Cup. Fortunately, the American had the white pieces for the coming battle. In that situation, after the opening moves of 1 e4 e5, what would you play? Jeffery Xiong decided to play “The truth-as it was known in those far-off days.” (

Jeffery Xiong (2707) vs Jan-Krzysztof Duda (2730)

2019 FIDE World Cup

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 Nf6 3 d3 c6 4 Nf3 d5 5 Bb3 Bb4+ (SF plays 5…a5 first, with 6 a4 then Bb4+) 6 Bd2 (Komodo prefers 6 c3, but the Fish goes with the move played in the game) 6…Bxd2+ 7 Qxd2 (SF 010719 @ Depth 38 plays the game move, but SF 010119 @D 44 prefers 7 Nbxd2) 7…Qd6 (Fritz 15 @D 15 plays this move, but Komodo @D 41 castles) 8 Qg5 Nbd7 9 exd5 cxd5 10 d4 e4 (Both Stockfish and Komodo would play 10…exd4, a move that does not appear at the CBDB or 365Chess!)

11 Ne5 O-O 12 Nc3 Nb6 13 f3 Be6 14 O-O-O Rac8 15 Qd2 a6 16 Rhe1 exf3 17 gxf3 Nfd7 18 h4

18… f6? (Former US Chess champ Sam Shankland writes in his book


that one should be extremely careful about moving a pawn forward because it cannot retreat. Maybe Duda should have read the book?

19 Nd3 Bf7 20 Qf4 Rc6 21 Qxd6 Rxd6 22 Nc5 Rb8 23 Re7 Kf8 24 Rde1 Nxc5 25 dxc5 Rd7 26 Rxf7+ Kxf7 27 cxb6 Rbd8 28 Nxd5 Kg6 29 c4 Kh5 30 Re4 Rc8 31 Kd2 g5 32 Ke3 Rf7 33 hxg5 fxg5 34 Ba4 Kh6 35 Be8 Rf8 36 Bd7 Rb8 37 b4 Kg6 38 Nc7 Rfd8 39 Re7 Rh8 40 Be8+ Kf6 41 Nd5+ 1-0

Duda had recent experience facing “The Truth”:

Peter Svidler (2737) vs Jan Krzysztof Duda (2729)

Riga FIDE Grand Prix 2019

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Qd6 8.Qg5 Nbd7 9.exd5 cxd5 10.d4 e4 11.Nh4 Nb6 12.Qxg7 Qf4 13.Qxh8+ Ke7 14.Nc3 Qxh4 15.Qg7 Bg4 16.Bxd5 Nbxd5 17.Nxd5+ Nxd5 18.Qe5+ Be6 19.c4 f6 20.Qg3 Nf4 21.d5 Nd3+ 22.Kd2 Qxg3 23.hxg3 Bf5 24.f3 exf3 25.gxf3 Nxb2 26.Rae1+ Kd7 27.g4 Bg6 28.Kc3 Nd3 29.Re6 Rf8 30.g5 fxg5 31.Rxg6 hxg6 32.Rh7+ Kd6 33.Kxd3 Rxf3+ 34.Ke2 Rc3 35.Rxb7 Rxc4 36.Rxa7 Kxd5 37.Ra5+ Rc5 38.Rxc5+ Kxc5 39.Kf3 Kb4 40.Kg4 Ka3 41.Kxg5 Kxa2 42.Kxg6 ½-½

Dejan Pikula (2461) vs Ivan Leventic (2454)

E TCh-CRO Div 1a 2014

ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Qd6 8.Qg5 Nbd7 9.Qxg7 Rg8 10.Qh6 Rxg2 11.Nh4 Rxf2 12.Nf5 Qc5 13.Nc3 Ng4 14.Ng7+ Ke7 15.Qh4+ Ndf6 16.O-O-O Qe3+ 17.Kb1 Qh6 18.Qxh6 Nxh6 19.exd5 Bg4 20.Rde1 Rg8 21.Rxe5+ Kf8 22.dxc6 bxc6 23.h3 Bf3 24.Ne6+ fxe6 25.Rhe1 Rg7 26.Rxe6 Nhg8 27.R6e5 Re7 28.a4 Bg2 29.R1e3 Nd7 30.Rxe7 Nxe7 31.Rg3 Nf6 32.Ka2 Nf5 33.Rg5 Bxh3 34.Ne4 Nxe4 35.dxe4 Ne7 36.Rh5 Bg4 37.Rxh7 Ke8 38.Rh8+ Kd7 39.Rb8 Kc7 40.Re8 Nc8 41.Rg8 Rf4 42.e5 Re4 43.Rg7+ Kd8 44.Rg8+ Kd7 45.Ka3 Bf5 46.c3 Rxe5 47.Bc4 Nb6 48.Bb3 Kd6 49.Rd8+ Kc7 50.Rg8 Be6 51.Rg7+ Nd7 52.Bc2 Kd6 53.Bh7 Re1 54.Kb4 Ra1 55.Rg6 Nf8 56.Rh6 Ra2 57.b3 Nxh7 58.Rxh7 a5+ 59.Kxa5 Bxb3 60.Rh4 Kc5 61.Rg4 Bc4 62.Rg5+ Bd5 63.Rg4 Rg2 64.Rxg2 Bxg2 65.Ka6 Kc4 66.Kb6 c5 67.a5 Bh1 0-1

Igor Malakhov (2425) vs Alexander Beliavsky (2657)

11th EICC Men
Round 2
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Qd6 8.Qg5 Nbd7 9.exd5 cxd5 10.Qxg7 Rg8 11.Qh6 Rxg2 12.Nc3 d4 13.Nh4 Rg4 14.Nf5 Qc6 15.Ne4 Rxe4+ 16.dxe4 Qxe4+ 17.Kd2 Qxf5 18.Rae1 Ng4 19.Qg7 Qf4+ 20.Ke2 b6 21.Bxf7+ Kd8 22.Bc4 Bb7 23.Bb5 Bf3+ 24.Kd3 Nc5+ 0-1

Nikita Vitiugov (2721) vs Alexander Zubov (2612)

17th ch-EUR Indiv 2016

Round: 7.4

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Bxd2+ 7.Qxd2 Qd6 8.Qg5 Nbd7 9.exd5 cxd5 10.d4 e4 11.Ne5 O-O 12.Nc3 Nb6 13.f3 Be6 14.Qe3 exf3 15.gxf3 Nh5 16.Qg5 f6 17.Qxh5 fxe5 18.Qxe5 Qxe5+ 19.dxe5 Rxf3 20.O-O-O Rd8 21.Nb5 Re3 22.Rde1 Rxe1+ 23.Rxe1 a5 24.c3 Kf8 25.Nd6 Rb8 26.Kd2 Ke7 27.Ke3 Rf8 28.Bc2 Nc4+ 29.Nxc4 dxc4 30.Be4 Bf5 31.Bd5 Be6 32.Be4 Bf5 33.Bd5 Be6 34.Be4 ½-½

Jennifer Yu Learns “The Truth”

It is written in the book, 500 Master Games of Chess by Savielly Tartakower and Julius Du Mont,

in a Bishop’s opening game on page 244, between Bowdler and Conway, played in London way back in 1788, after 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4, “The truth-as it was known in those far-off days.”

Joshua Sheng (2449)

vs Jennifer Yu (2341)

U.S. Junior Championship 2019 round 09

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bd6 (6…Bb4+ is best) 7. exd5 Nxd5 (SF & Komodo play 7…cxd5) 8. O-O O-O 9. Re1 (Olav Sepp played 9.Nc3 vs Robert Sevtsenko below) Nd7 10. Bg5 Qc7 11. Na3 (11 d4) 11…Bxa3 (When looking at this position several moves looked plausible: either knight to b6; h6 and Re8. I would have been surprised, and pleased to see this move because white now has the advantage of the two bishops) 12. Rxa3 f6? (12…Nc5) 13. Bh4 Nb6 (13…Nc5) 14. d4 Bg4 15. dxe5 fxe5 16. Ba2 Kh8 17. h3 Bxf3 18. Rxf3

Nxa4? (18…Nf4 should be played. After this move the game is, for all intents and purposes, over…) 19. Rxf8+ Rxf8 20. c4 Nxb2 21. Qc2 Nxc4 22. Bxc4 Nf4 23. Bg3 Qd6 24. Ba2 b5 25. Bb1 g6 26. Qc3 b4 27. Qa1 Qd5 28. Be4 Qb5 29. Bxc6 Qxc6 30. Qxe5+ Qf6 31. Bxf4 Qxe5 32. Bxe5+ Kg8 33. Rc1 b3 34. Rc7 Re8 35. f4 a4 36. Rg7+ Kf8 37. Rb7 Rc8 38. Rxh7 Rc1+ 39. Kh2 a3 40. Bd6+ Kg8 41. Bxa3 Ra1 42. Rg7+ 1-0

Olav Sepp (2440) vs Robert Sevtsenko

Estonia Team Championship 1996

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 c6 4.Nf3 d5 5.Bb3 a5 6.a4 Bd6 7.exd5 Nxd5 8.O-O O-O 9.Nc3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 Bg4 11.h3 Bh5 12.Re1 Nd7 13.g4 Bg6 14.Bg5 Qc7 15.Nh4 Nc5 16.Bc4 Nxa4 17.Bd2 Nb2 18.Qe2 Nxc4 19.Nxg6 hxg6 20.dxc4 Rfe8 21.Be3 Qe7 22.Reb1 e4 23.c5 Bxc5 24.Bxc5 Qxc5 25.Rxb7 Qxc3 26.Ra4 e3 27.Rf4 exf2+ 28.Qxf2 Re1+ 29.Kg2 Rae8 30.Rf3 Qa1 31.Ra3 Rg1+ 32.Kh2 Rf1 33.Rxa1 Rxf2+ 34.Kg3 Rxc2 35.Rxa5 Re3+ 36.Kf4 Rxh3 0-1

In the first round of one of the only two games played with a time limit called “Classical Chess” these daze, GM Rustam Kasimdzanov opened by playing The Truth against GM Evgeny Bareev. It was my intention to incorporate the game into this post, but after seeing the game excellently annotated by GM Kevin Spraggett on his blog the decision was made to send you to his fantastic blog, which can be found by clicking the link:

The “Truth” At The Ironman Chess Club

Earlier this week at the Ironman Chess Club the Legendary Ironman, NM Tim Brookshear,

who has been hosting the ICC for over nineteen years, asked me to play one of his students, Sofia, a young, intelligent (MENSA member), Class D player. All I knew about her was she liked playing gambit-type openings. Unlike some Chess organizations which tell students what openings to play, coach Tim allows his students to chose their own openings before offering input. I figured, since Sofia liked gambits, she would be an aggressive player. After playing 1 e4 Sofia replied instantly with 1…e5. If you are a regular reader of this blog you probably know what came next, which was, “The truth as it was known in those long ago days,” 2 Bc4. When the young lady played 2…c6

I was somewhat flummoxed because c6 is not usually played until after 2…Nf6 3 d3. Because of her unusual move order I had to stop and cogitate for a few moments…I decided to play 3 Nf3 to put immediate pressure on my opponent, knowing I would have played Nc3 if she had prefaced c6 with Nf6, later learning it was not the best move. Although she resigned some time later, the game was not easy because she continually set traps that had to be avoided, causing me to use time like a turkey gobbling food. For example after playing Bd6 she backed it up with Qc7, which meant that after I played Bg5 she kicked my bishop with h6, so I dropped back with Bh4, before being forced to drop back again with Bg3 to counter her queen and bishop battery. Then Sofia took my bishop, softening my kingside as I had to reply hxg3. There is another young female, Jade, I have previously played who shows promise. I sat there wondering if we will one day in the future be watching them playing in the US Women’s Championship at the St. Louis Chess Club.
What with the intermittent internet connections from the from AT&T it was only some time later I was able to get to and the ChessBaseDataBase to learn everything to be learned about the move 2…c6.

This was the first game found with my dubious 3 Nf3:

Rustam Kasimdzhanov (2425) vs Yuuki Tanaka

Asia-ch Boys

ECO: C23 Bishop’s opening, Philidor counter-attack

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 c6 (A seldom played move according to the CBDB, which shows 39 games, but but it does show 2…c6 scoring better than any other move, albeit with a severely limited sample size. Stockfish and Houdini both play the most often played, by far, the move, 2…Nf6) 3.Nf3 d5 4.Bb3 Bd6 5.d4 Bg4 6.dxe5 Bxe5 7.exd5 Nf6 8.O-O O-O 9.dxc6 Qc7 10.cxb7 Qxb7 11.h3 Bh5 12.g4 Nxg4 13.hxg4 Bxg4 14.Bd5 Nc6 15.Bxc6 1-0

The Nepo man is the highest rated player to have played 2…c6:

Sergei Rublevsky (2688) vs Ian Nepomniachtchi (2707)

Siberian Bank Cup, Novosibirsk RUS 11/18/2012
C23 Bishop’s opening, Philidor counter-attack

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 c6 3.d4 (This was SF 9s move but has been superceded by SF 10s 3. Nc3 expecting 3…Bc5 4. Qg4) d5 4.exd5 cxd5 5.Bb5+ Nc6 6.dxe5 Bc5 7.Nf3 Qb6 8.Nc3 Bxf2+ 9.Kf1 d4 10.Ne4 Qxb5+ 11.Kxf2 Qb6 12.Nd6+ Kf8 13.Rf1 Be6 14.Bf4 h6 15.Kg1 Nge7 16.Bg3 Nd5 17.Bf2 Ne3 18.Nxd4 Qxd4 19.Qxd4 Nxd4 20.Bxe3 Nxc2 21.Bc5 Nxa1 22.Nxf7+ Kg8 23.Nxh8 Kxh8 24.Rxa1 b6 25.Bb4 Rd8 26.h3 Kg8 27.a3 Rd5 28.Bc3 Kf7 29.Rf1+ Ke7 30.Bb4+ Kd7 31.Bf8 g6 32.Bxh6 Rxe5 33.Rf2 Bc4 34.Rd2+ Ke6 35.Kf2 Rd5 36.Rc2 b5 37.Bg7 a5 38.Bc3 a4 39.Kg3 Bd3 40.Rf2 Rg5+ 41.Kh4 Rh5+ 42.Kg4 Rf5 43.Rd2 Rd5 44.Kg3 Bc4 45.Rf2 Rf5 46.Rc2 Bd3 47.Rd2 Rd5 48.Kf2 Bc4 49.Bd4 Rf5+ 50.Ke3 Rf1 51.Bc3 Re1+ 52.Kf4 Re2 53.Rxe2+ Bxe2 54.g4 Kf7 55.Ke4 ½-½

Nikola Mitkov (2455) vs Walter Arencibia (2550)

ESP-chT 1997
C23 Bishop’s opening, Philidor counter-attack

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 c6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Nf3 d6 5.d4 Qa5 6.Qd3 Nf6 7.Bd2 O-O 8.a3 d5 9.Ba2 Bxc3 10.Bxc3 Qb6 11.Nxe5 Nxe4 12.O-O Na6 13.Rfe1 Bf5 14.Qf3 Be6 15.b4 Nc7 16.Bb2 a5 17.c3 axb4 18.cxb4 Nb5 19.Qe3 Rfe8 20.Bb1 f6 21.Nd3 Ned6 22.Nc5 Bf5 23.Qc1 Rxe1+ 24.Qxe1 Re8 25.Qd1 Bxb1 26.Rxb1 Nc4 27.h3 Nbxa3 28.Bxa3 Nxa3 29.Rb3 Nb5 30.Rg3 Qc7 31.Qg4 Qf7 32.Kh2 h5 33.Qf4 b6 34.Na4 Re4 35.Qb8+ Kh7 36.Nc3 Rxd4 37.Nxb5 cxb5 38.Qd6 Re4 39.Rd3 Re2 40.Qxd5 Qc7+ 41.Rg3 Re5 42.Qd3+ f5 43.Qd1 g6 44.Kg1 Qe7 45.Qd4 Re1+ 46.Kh2 h4 47.Re3 Qc7+ 48.f4 Rxe3 49.Qxe3 Qd6 50.Kh1 Qxb4 51.Qxb6 Qb1+ 52.Kh2 Qd3 53.Qf6 Qg3+ 54.Kh1 Qe1+ 55.Kh2 Qe8 56.Qxh4+ Kg8 57.Qf6 Kh7 ½-½

(SF 10 plays 3…Bc5 expecting 4. Qg4 g6 to follow. There is no game with 3…Bc5 found at the CBDB, but there is one game with 3…Bc5 found at

Sarah Hegarty vs Meri Grigorian (2036)

Ron Banwell mem 08/26/2002
C23 Bishop’s opening, Philidor counter-attack

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 c6 3.Nc3 Bc5 4.Nf3 b5 5.Bb3 Qb6 6.O-O d6 7.a4 b4 8.Ne2 Nf6 9.d3 a5 10.h3 h6 11.c3 Ba6 12.Ng3 bxc3 13.bxc3 O-O 14.Rb1 Qa7 15.Qe2 d5 16.c4 Nbd7 17.Bb2 Rab8 18.Bc2 dxc4 19.dxc4 Rb4 20.Nd2 Rfb8 21.Bc3 Rxb1 22.Rxb1 Bb4 23.Qf3 Qc5 24.Qd3 Nb6 25.Bb3 Rb7 26.Bxb4 axb4 27.Nf5 Rd7 28.Qe2 Kh7 29.Nf3 g6 30.Qe3 Qxe3 31.Nxe3 Nxe4 32.Nxe5 Rd2 33.Bc2 Nxf2 34.Rxb4 Nc8 35.Kf1 Nd6 36.Nf3 Rxc2 37.Nxc2 Nd3 38.Rb6 Bxc4 39.Nd2 Bd5 40.Ne3 Ne4 41.Nxe4 Bxe4 42.a5 Nc5 43.Ng4 Kg7 44.Ne5 Kf6 45.Ng4+ Ke6 46.Nxh6 f5 47.Ke2 Kf6 48.a6 Nd3 49.Ke3 Ne5 50.Ng4+ 1-0

Truth Hits Everybody
The Police
Album: Outlandos d’Amour

[Verse 1]
Sleep lay behind me like a broken ocean
Strange waking dreams before my eyes unfold
You lay there sleeping like an open doorway
I stepped outside myself and felt so cold
Take a look at my new toy
It’ll blow your head in two, oh boy

Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone
Oh, oh, oh
Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone
Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone

[Verse 2]
I thought about it and my dream was broken
I clutch at images like dying breath
And I don’t want to make a fuss about it
The only certain thing in life is death
Take a look at my new toy
It’ll blow your head in two, oh boy

Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone
Oh, oh, oh
Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone
Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone

Where you want to be
Won’t you ever see

Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone
Oh, oh, oh
Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone
Truth hits everybody
Truth hits everyone

Can You Handle the Truth?

Yesterday Mike Murray started a new thread in the “All Things Chess” section of the USCF Forum. The title of his thread is a question, “Does chess develop transferable skills ?” ( Mike begins his post answering the question by writing, “Evidently, not so much.” He then quotes from this blog by copying something I copied verbatim:

“…recent research into expertise has clearly indicated that, the higher the level of expertise in a domain, the more limited the transfer [of skills to other fields] will be… Moreover, reaching a high level of skill in domains such as chess, music or mathematics requires large amounts of practice to acquire the domain specific knowledge which determines expert performance. Inevitably, the time spent in developing such skills will impair the acquisition of other skills.”

Mr. Murray then gives a link to my post, and adds a link with which I was unfamiliar:
“see also”

I would like to express my thanks to Mike Murray for drawing my attention to this paper.

Before deciding to write about what is currently known in regard to the question of whether or not chess is beneficial for children I took the time to read several papers pertaining to what has been learned by those who study these types of questions. These are the papers:

Facing facts about deliberate practice

David Z. Hambrick1*, Erik M. Altmann1, Frederick L. Oswald2, Elizabeth J. Meinz3 and Fernand Gobet4
1 Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
2 Department ofPsychology, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
3 Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, USA
4 InstituteofPsychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia
Reviewed by:
Lena Rachel Quinto, Macquarie University, Australia
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia

The Role of Domain-Specific Practice, Handedness, and Starting Age in Chess

Fernand Gobet and Guillermo Campitelli
Brunel University

The genetics of music accomplishment: Evidence for gene–environment correlation and interaction

David Z. Hambrick & Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

Accounting for expert performance: The devil is in the details

David Z. Hambrick a,⁎, Erik M. Altmann a, Frederick L. Oswald b, Elizabeth J. Meinz c, Fernand Gobet d, Guillermo Campitelli e
a Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, United States
b Department of Psychology, Rice University, United States
c Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, United States
d Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
e School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Australia

Does high-level intellectual performance depend on practice alone? Debunking the Polgar sisters case

Robert W. Howard∗
School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

Longitudinal Effects of Different Types of Practice on the Development of Chess Expertise

University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis

Psychological Science published online 1 July 2014
Brooke N. Macnamara, David Z. Hambrick and Frederick L. Oswald
DOI: 10.1177/0956797614535810

Intelligence and chess

Fernand Gobet, & Guillermo Campitelli

Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review

Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli
University of Nottingham

What put me on this path was the flap over what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book. “In Gladwell’s bestselling “Outliers” he discusses the “10,000-hour rule”: If you practice the necessary 10,000 hours you can reach the zenith of your field.” (

In the same article Zach answers, “We found that, yes, practice is important, and of course it’s absolutely necessary to achieve expertise,” Hambrick told the Times. “But it’s not as important as many people have been saying.”

The article, Is Malcolm Gladwell wrong? Scientists debate the “10,000-hour rule: The argument between talent versus practices deepens with the release of a new study, by Sarah Gray, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. This particular article begins:

“A new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, is fueling the practice-versus-talent debate. The study was co-authored by Zach Hambrick, of Michigan State University, Brooke Macnamara, who is currently at Case Western Reserve University, and Rice University’s Frederick Oswald. According to the New York Times, this study is the “most comprehensive review of relevant research to date.”

“The paper, which looked at 88 different studies, covering a wide range of activities, from chess to music to sports, found that only 20 to 25 percent of a person’s ability — in music, sports and chess — came from practice. In academics, the Times reports, it is even lower; only 4 percent of a person’s academic ability came from practice. However, the authors note that academic skill was more difficult to measure, because it was tough to gauge how much people knew beforehand.”

The book by Malcolm Gladwell was a best-seller and the author, no doubt, made much money. Unfortunately for him, his theory has been refuted. Even so, their are many people who have not gotten the word. For example, I was sitting at a table in a Barnes & Noble with a chess board in front of me while reading a copy of the best chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, when an older fellow walked up and asked, “Putting in your 10,000 hours?” I asked if he were referring to Gladwell’s book and he answered in the affirmative. As he took a seat I told him Gladwell’s theory had been refuted. Having read the book, he was in disbelief. “The man would not have written the book if it were not true,” he said. Nothing I said could disabuse him of his belief. Fortunately, someone whom he knew arrived and he took his leave, but not before telling his friend that I was a “party pooper.” I have been called far worse…

This kind of thing happens all the time in our society. An example would be what the Bushwhackers said happened to Private First Class Jessica Dawn Lynch during the invasion of Iraq. Initial reports by the Bushwhackers said that before being captured and brutalized, PFC Lynch, in her best Rambo imitation, fired all the rounds in her weapon until the weapon was so hot it burned her hands, but still she continued, in great pain, to hold onto the weapon, using it to club Iraqi soldiers until there were so many of them she could no longer swing said weapon…or some such. I will admit to paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. The truth came out later, and I quote, “Initial official reports on Lynch’s capture and rescue in Iraq were incorrect. On April 24, 2007, she testified in front of Congress that she had never fired her weapon, her M16 rifle jammed, and that she had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed. Lynch has been outspoken in her criticism of the original stories reported regarding her combat experience. When asked about her heroine status, she stated “That wasn’t me. I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do… I’m just a survivor.” ( See The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg.” See also, “The truth about Jessica.” ( People can still be found who will tell you all about the brave woman during the invasion of Iraq who made Rambo look like a wuss…

The lies the Bushwhackers told about former NFL star Pat Tillman are even more egregious, and the truth still has not been told to WE THE PEOPLE. I do not mean to single out the Bushwhackers. “Presidential aide Arthur Schlesinger has written that President Kennedy said just days before the assassination that Johnson was a man “incapable of telling the truth.” (See Robert F. Kennedy and His Times, page 655. I have taken this from the masterful work by Douglas P. Horne, Chief Analyst for Military Records, Assassination Records Review Board, “Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK – Volume 5.”)

Another example would be the prosecutor who, while the defandant is on the stand, looks the jury in the eye and says, “The defendant is obviously a scurrilous scumbag!” The public defender then leaps to his feet saying, “Your Honor, I most strenuously object.” At which time the judge says to the prosecutor, “The objection is sustained. Mr. Prosecutor. I cannot believe a man with your credentials would would say such a thing.” To which the prosecutor says, “Yes Your Honor. Forgive me. It will not happen again.” The judge then say, “That last remark will be stricken from the record and the jury will disregard the comment made by the esteemed prosecutor.”
When the trial ends and the jury is marched into chambers to decide the fate of the accused, the only question to be decided is which one will be chosen foreman. Once a foreman is chosen he will say, “Do we really need to spend any time voting? It is more than a little obvious the defendant is a scurrilous scumbag.”
Someone will mention the judge said to disregard the remark and will be turned on by the rest of the pack while the foreman says forcefully, “What the hell do you mean? The ESTEEMED prosecutor said the defendant was a scurrilous scumbag, and he would not have said it if it were not true!” Meanwhile the rest of the pack will nod in agreement, saying, “Uh huh, uh huh, right on, right on, right on.” The poor defendant will be lucky to have a show of hands before being declared guilty.

The Escape Artist

The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I had time last night for a brief discussion of the chess action happening this weekend. One of the topics discussed was the fact that the human World Champion played the Bishop’s Opening proper yesterday against Fabiano Caruano. As regular readers know, the BO, “The truth– as it was known in those far-off days,” according to Savielly Tartakower, has been one of my favorite openings ever since reading his quote in “500 Hundred Master games of Chess.” (see the book in GM Bryan Smith’s excellent article Magnus played the opening horribly, and lost. GM Yasser Seirawan questioned the moves of the World Human Champion, especially the move 11 Bg3. I questioned 13 h3, which allowed the Bishop to take the Knight, forcing White to capture with the f-pawn, disrupting the pawn structure in a horrible way. It is obvious things have gone terribly wrong after 14 fxg3. When Magnus played the move Qd8, after 1 e4 d5 2 exd5 Qxd5 3 Nc3, against Caruano at the Olympiad, I mentioned to Tim that players would now start playing the move, long discredited since Bobby Fischer beat Karl Robatsch in 20 moves at the Olympiad in Varna in 1962 and William Addison in 24 moves at the Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca in 1970, since Magnus had won the game. I also brought up the fact that before the HWC played the move, I had mentioned the possibility of purchasing the book, “The 3…Qd8 Scandinavian: Simple and Strong” by Daniel Lowinger and Karsten Müller, which brought ridicule from the Ironman. Last night I wondered aloud if players would now begin to play the BO because Magnus had played it. Before the Ironman could respond, I added, “Probably not since he lost.” Tim said, “The opening did not let Magnus down, Magnus let the opening down.”
One of the great things about chess is that a lesser player can question the moves of the great players. We may not often be right, but like that blind squirrel, we will occasionally find an acorn. Back in the day “BC” (before computers), we had to try and figure it out for ourselves. If a GM played a move, we accepted it as gospel. Today we turn on our “engine” and the “truth” is right in front of us. In a way this is a wonderful thing in that we now know if our move is better than the human World Champion. On the other hand, we now know that even the best human player is, well, human, and we humans make mistakes. As the Discman said, back in the day Grandmasters were “Gods.” Which makes me think of the famous speech by JFK in which he said, “…and we are all mortal.”

Schmuggy sent me an email last night after his game with Damir Studen, which I opened after noon:
Kevin Schmuggerow
Today at 1:09 AM
I had this one Michael, let it get away….
> e4 d5 ed Qd5 Nc3 Qa5 d4 c6 Bc4 Nf6 Ne2 g6 Bf4 Nd7 Qd2 Nb6 Bb3 Nbd4 Be5 Nc3 Nc3 Bg7 OOO OO h4 h5 f3 Ne8 Qg5 e6 Rhe1 Kh7 Qe7 Kg8 g4 Be5 Re5 Qc7 Qg5 Kg7 gh5 Rh8 Qg2 Rh6 Rg5 Qf4+ Kb1 Qh4 hg6 Rg6 Ne4 Rg5 Ng5 Kf6 f4 Nd6 Qf3 Qh6 Rh8 a5 a4 Ra6 Qc3 Ke7 Qc5 Bd7….Ne4 wins!! Mate in 7 (I played Rb8 and eventually got my rook trapped)

Looks strange without the numbers, does it not? Thinking the game would most likely have to be transcribed, I decided to hold off on going to the US Masters website until later. Fortunately, the whole game was provided. I broke out my trusty small wooden board and pieces and played over the game. Here are my thoughts…

Kevin Schmuggerow (1971) vs Damir Studen (2264)
USM Rd 3
1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qa5 4. d4 c6 5. Bc4 Nf6 6. Nge2 g6 7. Bf4 Nbd7 8. Qd2 Nb6 9. Bb3 Nbd5 10. Be5 Nxc3 11. Nxc3 Bg7 12. O-O-O O-O 13. h4 h5 14. f3 Ne8 15. Qg5 e6 16. Rhe1 Kh7 17. Qe7 Kg8 18. g4 Bxe5 19. Rxe5 Qc7 20. Qg5 Kg7 21. gxh5 Rh8 22. Qg2 Rh6 23. Rg5 Qf4 24. Kb1 Qxh4 25. hxg6 Rxg6 26. Ne4 Rxg5 27. Nxg5 Kf6 28. f4 Nd6 29. Qf3 Qh6 30. Rh1 Qg6 31. Rh8 a5 32. a4 Ra6 33. Qc3 Ke7 34. Qc5 Bd7 35. Rb8 Qf5 36. Qe5 f6 37. Qxf5 exf5 38. Nh7 Bc8 39. c4 Be6 40. d5 cxd5 41. c5 Ne4 42. Rxb7 Bd7 43. c6 Rxc6 44. Nf8 Nc5 45. Ng6 Kd6 46. Rb5 Ra6 47. Bc2 Bxb5 48. axb5 Rb6 0-1

Wow, Damir was sooooooo busted! Poor Schmuggy…This game reminds me of many I played. If only IM Charles Hertan’s award winning book, “Forcing Moves” had been published in the 1970’s… Two things kept me from becoming a stronger player, one is not winning enough “won” games. The other will be discussed in a future post.
Damir’s 14th move looks weak. After 15 Qg5, white is all over him. After the obligatory 15…e6 Schmuggy played 16 Rhe1. I have to question this move. I mean, White is attacking the Kingside and threatening to open up the castled King position, so why move the Rook? I sat looking at this position quite a while…Obviously 16 g4 must be considered, but I wonder if this is one of those positions where a world class player would simply make a move like 16 Kb1? Then the thought hit me that Schmuggy could have played maybe 16 a3, but I like Kb1 better, but what do I know? One thing I have always taught my students is to count the total number of points one has in a sector, especially when one is on the attack. As it now stands White has a Queen, Rook, and Bishop, or 17 points, on the Kingside. Black has only a Rook, Bishop, and Knight, or 11 points. If White were to play 16 Ne4 he would have an additional 3 points, for a total of 20 points, versus 11. That is a huge disparity. And since Black has been forced to weaken himself with his last move, the Knight move takes advantage of the weakened dark squares. 16 Ne4 would be my move. Black would then be in “deep do.”
Schmuggy is right, 35 Ne4 brings the house down. It wins because it is a FORCING MOVE. The knight on d6 is PINNED. Another thing all chess teachers say is, “Pin to win.”

After going over the game I first went to the Chess Base database ( and 365chess ( to check out the opening. What I found was that Damir’s 7…Nbd7 is a TN. All games show 7…Bg7. Since the Scandinavian is Damir’s main (only?) defense to 1 e4 it is difficult to believe he came up with this move over the board. I must assume it was “home cooking.” It often happens that one can be burned while cooking at home.
Next it was put it into my now antiquated Houdini. I am sure you will do the same because that is what is done these daze. Some even put it into the machine before looking at it and thinking for themselves. Where is the fun in that? I find it shameful. After analyzing the game, my Houdini said, “The player with the Black pieces was the real Houdini in this game!”
What? Your computer program does not talk to you?

Escape (The Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes

Classical Chess

“Bill James is the best known baseball analyst in the world” ( Bill began his writing career by questioning the assumptions in baseball, something commonly called, “The Book.” For questioning some of the commonly held beliefs in baseball Bill was excoriated by the MLB establishment. His books, and the thinking contained therein, caught on with many and his books became very successful. Many other baseball fans began to question things like the sacrifice bunt, held dear by the MLB establishment. Decades later Bill was hired by the Boston Red Sox as an analyst and the Red Sox became the World Champions. Now every MLB team has an analyst, or team of analysts.

Bill’s latest book is, “Fools Rush Inn: More Detours on the Way to Conventional Wisdom.” One of the essays is, “Classical Sport.” As is often the case, while reading the essay my thoughts would drift to chess and I would substitute the word “chess” for “classical music.” Read on and you will understand why.

Bill writes, “Classical music has very, very serious problems as an industry. The number of people who enjoy classical music is small compared to the market for other kinds of music and the market is composed primarily of old people.

“Classical music survives, or has survived so far, because it has advantages over the marketplace, rather than advantage in the marketplace. Classical music is perceived by a very large cadre of musical professionals as the highest form of music, and these people have integrated themselves and their music into the society in ways that insulate it from extinction by economic forces. High schools do not teach young musicians to play rock and roll, as a rule; they teach them to play “instruments,” which are in truth the instruments of classical music. Millions of small children take violin lessons, which their parents get for them because this is how music is taught. The perception that this form of music is “classy” -widely accepted in our culture- keeps the form alive by giving it these advantages, and many similar and related advantages. At the symphony I am below the median age and, I suspect, well below the median income. Those old people who go to the symphony have more-than proportional power because they have more-than proportional wealth. There is something much more than that going on here. It has to do with the perception of rectitude, of value and of virtue.”

“Music, like sport, is instinctive to us, exists in all cultures, and will never disappear. There are primal and sophisticated forms of music and of sport, which could also be called vibrant and calcified, or youthful and moribund. There is a spectrum in these activities that runs from vibrant, primal and youthful to sophisticated, calcified and moribund. All sports and all forms of music move across that spectrum, crawling toward obsolescence.”

I have always thought of chess as a form of the “Glass Bead Game,” made popular by the greatest novel ever written, “The Glass Bead Game,” also published as “Magister Ludi,” Latin for “Master of the Game,” by Hermann Hesse, who won a Nobel Prize in Literature for the book. The Glass Bead Game takes place centuries into the future. It concerns the place the game occupies in the culture. “As the novel progresses, Knecht begins to question his loyalty to the order; he gradually comes to doubt that the intellectually gifted have a right to withdraw from life’s big problems. Knecht comes to see Castalia as a kind of ivory tower, an ethereal and protected community, devoted to pure intellectual pursuits but oblivious to the problems posed by life outside its borders.” (

The game of chess can be thought of in the way Bill James writes of classical music. Chess has always been thought of as important because it requires thought, something some very wealthy people have valued highly enough to become patrons of the game. I am thinking of Gregor Piatigorsky and his wife, Jacqueline, and the famous tournaments they funded in Los Angeles in 1963 and 1966, called the Piatigorsky Cup. ( Every chess player knows of these tournaments, and if you encounter anyone involved with chess who has never heard of the Piatigorsky tournaments the question becomes, “What is this person doing in chess?” In 1961 the Piatigorsky’s sponsored a match between Bobby Fischer and Sammy Reshevsky. It ended prematurely when the wealthy couple wanted to change the scheduled time of one of the games because of a conflict Gregor had with a musical performance. Bobby refused because he had signed a contract that specified the round time of each game. The wealthy couple must have felt like Ronald Raygun, when running for POTUS, and he was heckled from the audience. Ronnie famously yelled, “I am paying for this microphone!” In actuality he was not paying. The people contributing money toward his campaign were paying, but why quibble? It was a great sound bite for the Gypper. The Piatigorsky’s were paying and thought Bobby should jump through any hoop provided. Bobby provided them with what is called a “rude awakening” when he “just said no.” Extraordinarily wealthy people are not used to being refused. They are also not used to being told “no” because they surround themselves with “yes men.”
I mention this because without the patronage of very wealthy people there may not be future chess as we have known it until now. Consider for a moment the state of chess without the largess provided by the latest patron, billionaire Rex Sinquefield. Rather than being held in the state of the art St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center the US Championships may have been held in some room in a college, as has been the case previously. The STLCC&SC is an artificial construct. I mean that because St. Louis was never known as a hot-bed of chess in the way New York city was known to be a hot-bed of chess. The game of chess developed naturally in New York, San Francisco, and other cities without some fantastically wealthy individual building it so they would come. Please do not take me wrong; I am not saying this is a bad thing, just that it is a “thing.”

Chess is in a fight for its life in the marketplace. The common perception among adults is that chess is dead, and that it died when the computer program “defeated” human World Chess Champ Garry Kasparov. In order to survive chess has been “sold” as a wonderful game to help children “think.” Chess is a wonderful tool to help children learn how to think, but so are literature and math The game of Wei-Chi, popularly known as “Go” in the west, is also a wonderful game and in many ways it is better than chess because a computer program is not yet as strong as the best human players (I will discuss this in a planned future post). Go is exponentially more complicated than chess and it is much simpler to learn, with no “weird” moves such as castling or en passant. A draw in go is about as common as leap year. One of the major problems afflicting chess is non-serious games. It will be terribly difficult to explain the worth of a game in which he is asked to contribute after being shown a game such as the one played today in the British Championship:

Pert, Richard G – Pert, Nicholas
101st ch-GBR 2014 Aberystwyth WLS (8.2), 2014.07.27
1.e4 e5 ½-½

To those who may say they are related I say, “Go talk to Venus and Serena Williams.” To those who may say it is near the end of the Championship and they were tired I say, “It is only one game per day and the previous day was an OFF DAY!”

In reply to the post “Has Cheating Affected Chess?” my friend the Discman sent me an email in which he wrote, “Interesting discussion and on point. However, cheating isn’t the biggest problem facing chess. Computers have taken the mystery out of the game. GM’s used to be gods with almost super-natural powers. Now any schmo with a smartphone can figure out the best move. Technology and the public’s need for instant gratification have left chess behind. It is no longer relevant in the public consciousness. Yes, cheating and the potential of cheating are contributing factors, but not the root cause.”

Chris has hit the nail on the head. The Royal game no longer has mystique. Most adults without children consider chess an anachronism, much in the same way they think of the game of checkers, a hugely popular game once upon a time. Consider these comments, first from Ron Suarez on the USCF forum: “We have seen a big drop in adult participation and membership.” (
Gary Maltzman wrote this on the NCAA forum: “Seems like some of the big NC Tournaments are on an attendance downswing.” (

These kinds of comments proliferate on the web these days.

I have no solution to offer other than those previously written. The chess world has to look toward those in positions of power, for better or worse. A quote attributed to Albert Einstein to mind: “The thinking it took to get us into this mess is not the same thinking that is going to get us out of it.”

GCA Hegemonic Designs

An email making the rounds in the local chess community has reached the AW. The sources are impeccable. It appears the GCA board has decided to hold a chess tournament about every other weekend in the coming year. To set the stage one should know the players in this drama.
The GCA board consists of three women, Laura Doman, Katie Hartley, and Pam Little, who do not play chess; Ben Johnson, who thinks he plays chess; Fun Fong, who plays mediocre chess; and Tim Payne and Frank Johnson, who are, or have been, rated expert. These are the committees found on the GCA website (
GCA Committees
By-Law Task Force: Fun Fong, Katie Hartley, Mike Mulford, Scott Parker, Jeanne Ward
Communications: Laura Doman (Director)
Membership: Parnell Watkins
Open Events: WIM Carolina Blanco (Chair), Frank Johnson, Carolyn Lantelme, Greg Maness, Tim Payne, Bryan Rodeghiero, Thad Rogers, Parnell Watkins
Scholastic: Laura Doman, Katie Hartley (Co-Chair), Tricia Hill, Ben Johnson (Co-Chair), Susan Justice, Tim Payne, Steve Schneider, Ted Wieber
Volunteer Coordinator: Frank Johnson
Web Team: Laura Doman, Katie Hartley, Vijay Jayaram, Jagadeesh Rathnasabapathy, Keith Sewell
Committee members are volunteers who can commit to a year of working on the team.
In addition there the GCA has a “Task Force”:
GCA By-Law Task Force: Fun Fong (President), Katie Hartley (2nd VP), Mike Mulford (USCF delegate, Past Treasurer), Scott Parker (Past President), Jeanne Ward (Non-profit consultant)
Suggested By-Law Revisions to be voted on June 21st by GCA Members (
These are the current “movers and shakers” of the Georgia Chess Association.

The GCA has myriad committees. The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, posted his, “From the President: GCA May 2014 Update” ( on the new online magazine, “Georgia Chess News” on May 3, 2014, in which he writes about today’s committees and those to come. I asked two respected chess luminaries, NM Chris Chambers, and former GCA President and Georgia Senior Champion Scott Parker, for their thoughts on the President’s message. This was recieved from the Discman:
Happy Monday Bacon.
“Yes I’m fine with you using my stuff on blogs.
Regarding the GCA message, he sure seems to be planning to put together lots of committees.
Are there even enough dues-paying adult GCA members to man all the spots in those committees?
At this point they’re talking about forming committees to decide how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Virtually all of the passengers (actual tournament players) have boarded the life boats and are long gone, leaving only the wanna-be TD’s to train each other how to run tournaments that nobody will attend.”
Mr. Parker sent an polished, insightful and obviously well-thought-out reply:
“Fun is very high on the concept of working through committees. I am not, nor was my predecessor, Ted Wieber. That doesn’t mean it is wrong. There is more than one way to accomplish a task. My preference, and Ted’s too, I believe, was to find a committed volunteer and put a heavy workload on him/her. Committees tend to be slow and cumbersome things, and they lack direction. Each member wants to pull it in a different direction. You’ve heard the old joke, “A platypus is an animal designed by a committee.” It’s funny because there is an underlying truth to it. Committees do tend to come out with proposals that look like they ordered from a take-out menu – something from column A, something from column B, something from colunmn C, etc.
I’m also not sure that it makes sense to operate through committees in an orgainzation that has about 200 voting members. For USCF, which has over 10,000, that’s one thing, It’s another thing for GCA. We don’t have that many committed volunteers. I prefer to work with a small number of committed people rather than a large number of casually interested people.
All this being said, I will freely admit that I didn’t do a great job of identifying those committed volunteers, and ended up doing way too much of the grunt work myself. I was so busy doing the mundane stuff that I had little time to be President. It’s hard to concentrate on your plan to drain the swamp when you’re up to your a** in aligators. My impression is that as long as I was President that probably wasn’t going to change. As long as I was President and things were getting done a crisis didn’t exist. Without a crisis, not many people jumped up to volunteer. Perhaps in the long run it would have been better if I had refused to do the grunt work and let some tournaments and projects die so that a crisis situation would exist. Maybe that would have stimulated a few volunteers to step forward. For better or worse, I was not willing to do that.
Anyway, Fun’s idea of working through committees seems to be working pretty well for him. There has been some short term dislocation, and not everything is flowing smoothly, but in general the GCA is healthy. His way may not be my way, but if it works for him, that’s all that counts. “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” – Deng Xiao Ping.
Best Wishes, Scottt
P.S. You have my permission to use any or all of this in any way you see fit, or to copy it to anyone you choose.”

Both of these replies from my friends were received May 12, 2014. Although I tend to agree with the Discman, listening to a person who has the respect of all the chess community, as does Scott Parker, gives one a different perspective. There are always two sides of an issue and one must try, as difficult as it may be, to understand the other side.

Emails are being fired at such a rate the NSA is having trouble keeping up with the heavy volume…The first email is from WIM Carolina Blanco, Georgia Chess Open Event ( Chair).
On Monday, July 7, 2014 6:24 PM, Carolina Blanco wrote:
“Hello Everybody
Please find attached the update information for all the Open event tournaments to be organized by Georgia Chess Association from September 2014-July 2015.
Dates and location were verified according last Board meeting at Emory University on June 21st, 2014. Please note that the flyer still need to pass for one more review correction by the committee however with all these information we can see more organized our goal in maintain the tournaments organized in the past calendar year and adding two more new tournaments and new locations for the convenient and benefits of the chess community.
* Only event missing in this email ( but going to be added) is the Collegiate tournament. I am waiting for Ted Wieber to give us all the information for next year since he is the coordinator for this event.
* Location for Senior’s Open and Women’s Open is TBA since the Rivers Academy and Mrs. Justice proposal are in discussion, however the date that we saw more convenient at the board meeting in June for this event is September 20th, 2014.
* There are 4 tournaments to be held at the Wyndham Galleria Hotel and the dates in the flyer are the one that we are committed in the contract with the except of the Georgia State Championship that instead to be held on May 1st 2015. It was moved to April 18th 2015
* there are 2 new Class championship tournament added on February 27th and July 24th 2015. Beside the Class Championship on November 2014.
We are in the process to contact to Continental chess to try to extend our Open event activity from 6 tournaments a year to 12 tournaments a year for the next calendar period.
Questions?. Please feel free to email me.”
WIM Carolina Blanco
Georgia Chess Open Event ( Chair)

Ms. Blanco’s email evoked this response from former GCA President, International Arbiter, and chess business owner L. Thad Rogers:
On Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 6:45 PM, thad rogers wrote:
“Why is the Georgia Chess Association trying to put
American Chess Promotions and Championship Chess
out of business.”
I have 6 weekend tournaments scheduled with the dates
with Katie.
The Georgia Chess Association is to support chess in Georgia and not put other chess companies out of business.
This is the only way I try to make a meager income. I guess you all wouldn’t mind it if a nonprofit company came along and put all of your jobs and living out the window in order to satisfy them-selves.
No board in 40 years ever tried to do such a thing. I am very proud of such a caring Georgia Chess Association. I have tried tto do nothing but help the Georgia Chess Association for 40 years.
I have five or six people tell me that Fun said he is trying to put Georgia vendors out of business. If this goes through, then I guess he will get his wish.
All my tournaments are getting to have a signed contract. If Southeast holds tournaments. Then how in the heck can anybody make any money with about 26 weekend tournaments.
Like I said, the GCA Board and Volunteers don’t have to worry because you all aren’t risking any of your personal money. You are using State Association Funds. That is something to be proud of.
Thad Rogers
American Chess Promotions
I am suppose to be on the Open Events committee. I never hear a word about meetings or issues until after the fact.”

The next email is from the POTGCA:
From: Fun Fong
Date: 07/09/2014 2:49 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: thad rogers
“It seems that there’s an unfortunate – and false – rumor circulating that the GCA is looking to put you or any other Georgia chess organization out of business. I can understand why you would be upset. You have a long personal relationship with the GCA, which we all appreciate, and many of our members have enjoyed playing in American Chess tournaments for many years. As president, my mission is to serve the greater chess community by providing a full calendar of quality events for both adult and scholastic members. It is not, nor has it ever been, to destroy another’s livelihood through the power of the GCA. There is absolutely no way that the GCA could put anyone out of business, even if it wanted to, which is certainly no one’s intentions. You will not find any legitimate conversation anywhere that has even hinted of this. Somehow, facts are becoming distorted by the time they get to you, and I am greatly troubled by the prospect of a malicious rumor mill.
It is my belief that more chess is better chess, and that the chess community will eventually expand as opportunities expand, much as have road races greatly expanded in the Metro Atlanta area. GCA does endeavor to raise the bar for quality, so that other organizers will continue to innovate in their offerings, giving the Georgia player more choices and a better selection of events to participate. This initiative should provide a better experience overall for Georgia players. I know that you have been constantly thinking of new events and ways to execute them, and I think this endeavor is working for the benefit of the Georgia player.
Still, it is my responsibility as president to promote chess and to offer our players with as many opportunities to play good competitive chess as the market will support. Besides American Chess and Championship Chess, there is the North Georgia Chess Center, Vibha, and other organizations that host all sorts of tournaments, ranging from afternoon tournaments for young beginners to multi-day events for top-rated competitive players. I believe that there is room for all because we have a large, diverse community of chess players, and tournaments by virtue of their competitive level, time requirements, or location cannot all appeal to all types of players at all times. The chess community today is not the same as it was in the past. As GCA president, I must listen to our members and respond to their demands: to expand, support, and promote opportunities for competitive, quality play.
I understand and respect your concern that an outside group may be stronger or better financed, and potentially threaten your business. We will not tolerate any organization trying to drive another out of business. On the other hand, the GCA will not act as the personal agent for a business seeking to keep others out of their “turf.” I will tell you that the GCA will be advising Continental Chess (or any other organization that we may approach or that approaches us) that we must have a balanced calendar. Similar events need to be coordinated in advance, so that they don’t overlap too often.
The GCA cannot carry out its mission if we are beholden to vendor interests – any vendor. We must maintain the balance of support to our valued vendor organizations with our responsibilities to the chess playing public. If a vendor is involved in a GCA endeavor that could be perceived as a conflict of interest, then the vendor should recuse itself from voting or debate on such an issue. As an example, and I say this with due respect, it seems that whenever the GCA proposes dates in a modest expansion of our programs, we have heard you state that the GCA has no right to do so, presumably because the proposal conflicts with your own business’ plans or calendar. We cannot function as an organization if we cannot maintain impartiality. And under my leadership, this will cease to be a problem.
Thad, I continue to honor and value your long commitment and dedication to the GCA. We are all glad to have you involved and hope that you will want to do so for a long time to come. Regarding the Open Events committee meetings, there has actually not been a full meeting of the Open Events committee yet. Some committee members are changing their commitments to some degree, and while we’re managing this, I would anticipate a full meeting this month. You’ll certainly be advised when the meeting is scheduled.
As always, I welcome your feedback and look forward to talking with you about this or any other area of concern.”

The POTGCA writes about having a “balanced calendar.” Since the GCA has plans for a tournament every other weekend, that can only mean half for the GCA and half for everyone else.
As far as “…advising Continental Chess…”, I question why the GCA would want any other tournaments here along with their two dozen. Is the chess community large enough to support just the GCA tournaments? It is well known that Bill Goichberg, from New York, has intentionally stayed out of the South. Yes, he has held tournaments in Orlando, but how many tournaments has he held in other Southern states? The Ironman mentioned one in Nashville. One. The most famous was the Continental Open, a CCA tournament in Atlanta back in May of 1973 in which Mr. Six Time, GM Walter Browne flew in from the west coast. GM Browne was on the cover of the May, 1973 “Chess Life & Review.” Walter was treated to some “Southern hospitality,” drawing with Rueben Shocron and losing to Milan Momic, and Robert Burns, before leaving to catch a much earlier flight than anticipated. As GM Browne was leaving someone asked him why he was leaving. The Legendary Georgia Ironman was present to hear what came next, now Tim’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE chess quote. Walter turned on the man like a cobra, yelling, “I DID NOT COME HERE FOR YOUR BENEFIT!”
I realize the World Open was held in the Great State of Virginia this year, but how many tournaments has the CCA brought to the Deep South in the last forty plus years? Of all the tournaments the CCA has held since the 1970’s I will be kind and say that if one includes Louisville, although having lived there I cannot imagine anyone would, the CCA has held maybe five percent in the South, probably less. The “pooh-bahs” should consider leaving the CCA alone and concentrate on holding the conjectured GCA tournaments to the best of their ability. I would like to warn the GCA of over saturation. The Ironman and I were in the sports card business in the late 1980’s, early 90’s, before over saturation and the MLB strike of 1994. When we began there were only a few monthly shows in the metro area. Then a few were added, and then there were card shows every other weekend. More were added until it became a card show every weekend in many locations. In those halcyon days the action was fast and furious. I recall being involved in major deals that were so involved that when another customer would pick a card and pay the advertised price without haggling. I would stuff the bill in my pocket and carry on with the deal. Then the customers stopped coming because they knew there would be another show the next weekend, and the next. Near the end it was so bad at one show I told the Ironman I would not eat lunch until I made a sale. My stomach was growling all afternoon until after the show when Tim took pity on me and bought me a beer and a sammy at Spondivits, saying, “A man who don’t make even one sale shouldn’t have to pay the tab.”

The Chess Book Critic

It is ironic that in one respect we seem to be living in a golden age of chess books. It is ironic because “books” are giving way to “digits” on a machine, not to mention the possible diminution of chess because of so many negative facets of the game in this new century. There is the problem of so many non-serious drawn games, and the cheating crisis, not to mention the possibility of Kirsan the ET “winning” yet another term as FIDE President. Any one blow could be fatal. All three could mean oblivion for the Royal game. Today I put all of that out of my mind and write about chess books.
Decades ago I had an opening notebook in which games were written by my hand, along with clippings and copies of games in my esoteric choice of openings, such as the Fantasy variation against the Caro-Kann, 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3!?, a move played by World Champion Vassily Smyslov. The Legendary Georgia Ironman called my notebook “Bacon’s book of ‘Death Lines’.” The cover came off but like LM Brian McCarthy said, “It still has the meat!” Like most all of what I had collected over the years, it too, alas, is gone with the wind. There were no databases then, and no books on such an obscure variation. A line such as this would be given maybe a line or two in an opening encyclopedia. Over the years I have seen a book published on just about all of the openings I used to play to “get out of the book,” such as the the Bishop’s opening, “The truth- as it was known in those far-off days,” or so said Dr. Savielly Tartakover in his book, “500 Master Games of Chess.” There were half a dozen books devoted to the BO on the shelves of The Dump. A quick check shows a new one, “The Bishop’s Opening (Chess is Fun)” by Jon Edwards appeared at the end of 2011 in what is called a “Kindle edition.” I have often wondered if it is possible to change a digit on one of those gizmo’s. For example, is it possible to “hack” one of the digital monsters and change one digit in ALL of the digital monsters? Like changing a move for Black from Bd6 to Bb6? Then when your opponent follows “book” and plays his bishop to b6 and loses, he may say something like, “I don’t understand it, Bb6 is the “book” move…” That is when you come from Missouri and say, “Show me.” When he brings out his reading machine you say, “That was not a ‘book’ move, it was a ‘gizmo’ move!”
This book has been on my ’roundtoit’ list since it was published in April: The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking Black with 3.f3, by Alexey Bezgodov and published by New In Chess. The books published by NiC are usually exceptional, and from what I have seen, this one is no exception.
Another book on my list is “The Enigma of Chess Intuition: Can You Mobilize Hidden Forces in Your Chess?” by Valeri Beim, published in June of 2012 and also by NiC. I have always been intrigued by those fortunate enough to have chess intuition. I thought I had this book in a box but could not find it: “Secrets of Chess Intuition” by Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalchishin. This was published by Gambit way back in 2001. While researching this book online I managed to find it in downloadable form, and it is now a bunch of digits inside Toby, my ‘puter. GM Mikhalchishin was a student of IM Boris Kogan, so who knows, I may find a little of his wisdom passed down therein.
I have many books that came after the flood that are still waiting to be read, so I do not need another chess book. At least that was what I thought until reading the Book Review of June 18, 2014, by Steve Goldberg of “John Nunn’s Chess Course” by John Nunn. “Illuminating and clear, and informative and entertaining.” That is succinct. Steve gives it six stars and you can find it here:
The last thing I need at my age is any kind of “chess course.” I forget most of what I have learned by game time, so I have to go with what I know, Joe. Memorizing an opening variation is out of the question. But I was hooked after reading the first sentence, “In John Nunn’s Chess Course, Grandmaster John Nunn presents 100 of Emanuel Lasker’s games and twenty-four exercises taken from Lasker’s games.” That is good enough for me. With one of the best chess writer’s of all time, GM John Nunn, writing about the Great Man, Dr. Emanuel Lasker, what is not to like? Above the table where I study chess and Go is a picture of the Great Man himself. It is a color painting of Lasker in a suit, sitting with pen in hand while writing.
Wanting to know more about the book I surfed on over to the Gorilla, finding there were three reviews and a composite score of four and a half stars. Skrolling down showed two reviewers had given the book all five stars, while one had given it only three stars. I read this review last.
The first review was by Derek Grimmell who said, “A games collection both good to read and educational.” It is stated on the page that “20 of 21 people found the following review helpful.”
The next review is by AltitudeRocks, who writes, “Here, here! Or is it “hear here!” (or some other permutation)?” I have no idea what AR means by this, but he did follow it succinctly with, “Reviewer Grimmell deserves five stars for his review, and I cannot improve upon it.” 2 of 3 people found it helpful. Each of these reviewers used a “Kindle Edition” gizmo in lieu of an actual book, but the last reviewer, David, read a paperback, or so it says. The first review appeared May 23, but the two following popped up the same day, June 7.
David writes, “Not really with verbal explanations…” He then proceeds with his review, all of which I present:
“I will not describe the book, since that is done already by the publisher. What I will describe is my impression, and why I give 3 stars to Nunn’s books.
Nunn shows over and over in all his books, that the truth in chess exists. He doesn’t explain “how” to reach it (e.g did he use different engines plus his GM Level evaluation? Or he just analyses everything by himself, and then ask to someone else to check the analysis with an engine? or…? And “how” would the reader reach the same “truth” if he is not at Nunn’s level?), but he shows the faulty analyses of previous commentators, and also many authors who just copied and paste. In his book is shown how some publishers don’t have editors to correct mistakes like when the author of another book writes “Black” and means “White.” Of course shame on those authors, but evidently the chess field is full of snake-oil salesmen. Now, also when Nunn just tries to give a comment, without going into deep analyses, well feel ready to open your computer, and use your database program, because Nunn will go deep to prove the point. Example. I bought the book on Alekhine’s game, written by Alekhine, and with effort I could follow Alekhine’s comments and lines without moving the pieces on the board. With Nunn I cannot do so. The lines he gives are too long to be visualized, and there are many under-lines which need to be checked. (This has been synthesized well, by another reader of the book saying that if one wants analyses 40 plies long, it is just enough to click the engine button)
The real problem with Nunn is that he writes and check his analyses like a scholar, a professor of the field, while most other authors are amateurs trying to make some bucks out of their books. I don’t know if the average player, the one who plays blitz all day long online, and whose favorite authors have IM titles gained long time ago (maybe out of luck) deserve such precise and difficult books.
While I praise Nunn for writing this book, I honestly don’t like it, and I feel cheated by the publisher which writes: “explanation focus on general ideas rather than detailed analysis” This phrase is only partly true. The analysis are detailed like the one of Kasparov in his great predecessor series, and if I had known that, I wouldn’t have bought it.
Still, Nunn’s job is monumental, but as a reader, I don’t really think I will improve, because he made all the analysis, and in the end I can only agree with them, without using much of my brain (also because his analysis are good, and correct, not like the authors mentioned above who just make a copy and paste of other writers before).
The humor is that Nunn choose Lasker, because his games should be easier for the reader to understand.
For example, I’d like to take the first position given in the book. Houdini after 7 minutes, using 4 cpus, goes back from Qxe4 (chosen after 10-15 seconds) to Pc4, to Qxe4, all with numerical evaluations which are ridiculous, like + or – 0.13 or 0.20. Now honestly as reader how would I understand which move is better and why? Not from Nunn who doesn’t explain how he came to choose one over the other. After 12 minutes thinking Houdini at 27 moves deep (54 plies) agrees with the moves played in the game from move 24 to 26, changing move 27. But as a reader, I didn’t learn anything from Houdini, or from Nunn’s analysis, also if they are correct, and once again praise to GM Nunn for such an amazing job. If the publisher after reading this review, wants to give me back the money, I will gladly send the book back! (just add 3.99 for the S&H thanks! something like 20$ total, or just send me another book, so I can sell it and get the money back, because I already know, I will not be able to read this book)” (
Make of it what you will…Only “2 of 8 people found the review helpful.” I clicked on “David” to find he has reviewed seven different items, six of which he awarded ONE star. Only the Nunn book received more than one star. The other book reviewed by “David” is “The Alekhine Defence: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala.” He asks, “Why Lakdawala hates President Bush?” Then he writes, “I didn’t buy the book, but I was interested in buying it. What stopped me was an offensive political/historical comparison made by Mr. Lakdawala upon President Bush.”
After reading the above you KNOW I was COMPELLED to read the rest!
“Mr. Lakdawala comparison with previous wars made by dictators and self-centered ego maniac like Hitler and Napoleon, is unfair toward President Bush, and should be removed by its publisher Everyman chess.
Thanks to Amazon “Look Inside” feature we can see Mr. Lakdawala political agenda. Mr. Lakdawala begins with a faulty assumption, saying that all history great military failures follow this equation: “temptation + undermining = Overextension.” Of course, Mr. Lakdawala is NOT a historian, and fails to prove the point, showing us if that did actually happen in ALL military failures, or if this is just his opinion, not based on actual research, which I believe is the case.
Mr.Lakdawala continues saying that “the aggressor” please keep in mind this term because will be referred to President Bush too, seizes power and territory (here Mr. Lakdawala forgets 9/11, and the tragedy brought upon United States, and equal the war in Afghanistan, and Iraq to the wars made by Hitler and Napoleon) instead of consolidating gains, the aggressor continues to expand with unbridled ambition (Did President Bush do that Mr. Lakdawala??) and then Mr. Lakdawala finishes his faulty syllogism with: “the aggressor overextends, retreats in disarray, and bungles the war.”
Now we come to the salient part, where Mr. Lakdawala needs to attack President Bush: “If you don’t believe me, just asks Napoleon, Hitler, and Bush how well their campaigns worked for them!”
I’m sorry but I don’t accept that someone compares the imperialist warmongers, like Hitler, and Napoleon, with President Bush, a president elected by hundred of millions of Americans, who had to lead the nation through a terrible tragedy.
First of all, also at superficial level we could notice that Hitler killed himself in a bunker, and one of his strict collaborators, Goebbels, also killed himself with all his family. Then we could notice that most of nazi leaders have been condemned for crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg trial, did Bush have the same fate? Have the congress and senate of the United States of America, who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who has been elected also with the vote of Mr. Lakdawala, have been indicted and put under trial for crimes against humanity? Is United States a country divided in two parts, controlled by China, and some European countries, like it happened to Germany after the end of the Second World War?
Of course I could continue for hours to show the ignorance of politics and history Mr. Lakdawala shows in his light comment, but I believe here there is also a failure from the publisher, and its editors into correcting mr. Lakdawala’s political views, and keep them confined to his blog, his facebook, his twitter, or whatever other forms of social media he uses to communicate with his buddies. A book, about chess, and about a chess opening, should talk about that subject, let’s leave politics, and historical judgments, to those who write in those field as professionals.

Then let’s speak also of the Alekhine defence, an opening who has the name from someone who was a Nazi collaborator, and Mr. Lakdawala, so fond of comparisons with Napoleon, Hitler, and Bush, forgets to mention it. Does really White loses all his games due to overextension? Because if this doesn’t happen, then also the beginning “universal equation” fails. For example did Mr. Lakdawala showed us examples of Houdini, one of the best chess engines, losing a single game against him, due to overextension? No. Mr. Lakdawala fails to show us that. Because a “scholar” of a subject should prove his statements through some statistical analysis. But I don’t find this in his book. In there are about 1618 games with the Alekhine defence, and they are divided in 37.3% of the times wins by White, 33.1% wins by Black, and a 29.5% draws. This fails to illustrate the point that the “universal” equation works, because in fact we don’t know if White overextended in those 33.1% of the times, but it would have made more sense, than instead of knowing Mr. Lakdawala political agenda against President Bush, his publisher and editors would have steered him toward the realm of chess data, and asked to answer that question.”
My first thought after finishing the above was, “There’s something happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. David.”
“6 of 24 people found the review helpful.” Did they now? I found it highly entertaining in a Rush Limbaugh kind of way, but helpful? No. Although I have not taken the time to ascertain what the average number is for those clicking on whether or not the review was helpful, it seems to me the total must be something like at least 70%-80% helpful. For “David’s” two book reviews it is 8 out of 32, or 25%. For all seven of his reviews 78 out of 262 considered his reviews “helpful.” That is a batting average of .298 folks, which is 3 out of 10.
If you are still with me you may have surmised that I JUST HAD to go to the page of the book and have a “Look Inside.” I liked the first sentence, “The only openings worth playing are the ones that reflect our inner nature.” As for an author using the military and war to make a point about chess…who would do something like that? Surf on over and read it for yourself.
If you are into chess books there is this interesting article on, “Best chess masters biographies?” (