Examine All Checks!

One of the things this Chess teacher has been BIG on is instructing the student to EXAMINE ALL CHECKS! There was an encounter with a student and his mother in a grocery store when I asked the student what he had been up to recently. The reply came immediately, “Examining all checks, Coach!” You know that put a smile on my face, and that of his pretty mother, too.

Black to move

Every day I surf over to The Week In Chess after ingesting enough caffeine to jump start the brain and attempt solving the Daily Chess Puzzle. Frankly, at my age nothing is going to improve my play, but putting some strain on the ol’ brain cannot hurt…much. Some days I feel like the King; other daze I feel like a lowly pawn…

Todaze puzzle emanates from a game played just a few days ago between:
GM Gupta Sankalp (2504) – GM Samvel Ter-Sahakyan (2616)
Airthings Masters Play-In chess.com INT (3), 2023.02.03
https://chesspuzzle.net/Puzzle/848631

Good Skill!

Chess.com Talks To Your Kids About Chess

With my first cuppa Joe this morning I did the usual surfin’ by hitting the high spots, which includes rounding up the usual suspects, such as The Week In Chess (TWIC), and Chessdom, Chessbase, Chess24, and last and least, Chess.com. It has become rare to stay at the latter for any amount of time these days, but today was an exception because our girl, Lularobs, had published an article, How To Talk To Your Kids About Chess. This turned out to be one of the funniest Chess articles ever read, and when one gets to my advanced age that is saying much. Until recently Chess had not been known for it’s frivolity, but as Bob Dylan sang:

‘Back in the day’ Chess was considered a serious game played by smart adults, mostly men. The game had gravitas. “Oh, you play Chess? You must be smart,” was often heard. Now one hears things like, “Oh, you play Chess? I’ve heard there is much CHEATING IN CHESS these days.” One of the saddest things I have ever heard about Chess was a woman, when describing todaze Chess, said, “It’s become a game for children.” My first thought was to argue with her, but upon quick reflection it was obvious she was correct.

Our girl, Lularobs, begins her post with: You may have seen the news: the Chess.com app has reached number one in popularity for free games on the App Store. I can hear your sigh from across the screen because you and I both know the gravity of the situation. This is no Flappy Bird, Temple Run, or Candy Crush situation. This is a big deal; this is chess.

I have no idea, or even a clue as to what is, “Flappy Bird, Temple Run, or Candy Crush.” This is because I am a Senior citizen who cares not what constitutes Flappy, Temple, or Candy. I will proudly admit to being “not with it,” at least when it comes to FB, TR, and/or CC.

Next comes the second paragraph: Your fears are confirmed; your child has been playing blitz throughout dinner, talking about “blunders” and “forks” (not the ones on the table), and asking if they can sign up for a “FIDE rating.” All weekend, you hear “chat, then we go here, takes, takes, takes, here, no no no chat, here, then you grab the juicer chat, it’s so obviously winning chat,” coming from their laptop. You’ve decided it can’t be put off any longer… you need to talk to your child about chess.

It may be better for the child to have a talk with his parent(s) about Chess because from my experience most parents have absolutely no clue when it comes to Chess. That goes for the majority of adults who become involved with the Royal Game because of their children because they come into the Chess world and want to “get involved,” while knowing little, if anything, about Chess. Unfortunately, from their perspective what they want coincides with what is best for their children, and possibly the children of ohter adults. When it comes to the Big Picture of what is actually best for Chess they could care less because to them their children are all that matter. When working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center a parent actually said, “I don’t care whether or not it’s good for Chess. The only thing I’m concerned with is how it relates to my child.” There were nods all around from some of the other parents.

Miss Lula next continues under the header: Reassure Your Child

Developing an interest in chess is perfectly natural, and your child needs to know that.

My first thought was, “Know what, exactly?” How about, “Your child needs to know that developing an interest in chess is perfectly natural.” There appears to be little, if any, oversight when it comes to writing articles for this website, which is strange because it is mostly a website for children, and don’t you want your child to read something well written? Who knows, being able to construct a well written sentence later on in life may mean much more than knowing how to play the Najdorf Sicilian. Then again, maybe not, as there are now chat type thing-a-ma-jigs that will take your words, rearrange them and make you look like you know what you are doing.

Miss Lula continues: You remember your first checkmate, your first heartbreak (a loss from a completely winning position), and your first tournament. Your naive fascination for one of the oldest board games on Earth developed into a meaningful life-long relationship, through hardship and victory, and now it was time for your child to discover this wonder of life for themselves.

Was that written with tongue in cheek?

Lula continues with what is really important: When you talk to your child about chess, make sure not to confront them. Don’t make them feel shameful about their new obsession with tactics or GothamChess recap videos. Encourage them to explore chess in a healthy, informed way. Sit down across from them with a chess board and talk through tactical themes, explain your own excitement for chess, and help them to make a ChessKid or Chess.com account (depending on their age).

Lula is not finished, at least with this part: If your child becomes comfortable with talking to you about chess, then you’re already doing great. If you don’t have this conversation, then your child might end up doing nothing more than playing ultrabullet and grunting disdainfully at you whenever you mention “Chessable” or “studying.” Even worse, your child might end up quitting chess altogether and playing checkers.

What is wrong with playing checkers? Well, from the perspective of Chess.com, everything is wrong because there is no Chess.com account for checkers! If you are an adult reading this then I urge you to give some serious thought to making your child aware of the Great Game of Go (https://www.usgo.org/) because we live in a boom and bust society and Chess currently happens to be in a “boom” period. From over half a century in Chess my perspective says it is inevitable that Chess will eventually, sooner or later, devolve into the “bust” part of the equation. Just sayin’…

https://www.usgo.org/news/2023/02/registration-open-for-2023-aghs-blitz-tournament/

The next phase is: Speaking About Chess Respectfully

I will respectfully publish only the picture, with caption:

Unfortunately, Chess.com will not allow the picture to load.

For some reason I feel compelled to put what follows after the above picture because it cracked me up…

Show your child how to report unkind behavior from their opponents instead of returning the negativity, and don’t worry… I won’t tell them about the trash talk between you and your friends when you’re playing blitz at the bar on the weekend.

When reading the next header: Introduce Them to Chess in a Safe Way, I wondered if sometime in the past I had read almost the same sentence: Introduce Them to Sex in a Safe Way.

Miss Lula continues: It can be easy for kids today to be drawn into “KILLER OPENING TRAPS THAT WIN IN 5 MOVES!” when what they need are solid foundations and opening principles to nurture their chess development. After all, skipping to the Tennison Gambit: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Variation when they haven’t yet learned “knights before bishops!” or “control the center, castle and connect your rooks” is a dangerous game, and will more often than not end in disappointment.

Over fifty years in Chess and this was the first time learning of the Tennison Gambit: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Variation. If you go to Chess.com and read the article, you, too, can learn what constitutes the above gambit.

There is more before a video:

Chess content creators are awesome, and you enjoy them yourself, so don’t withhold fun chess content from your kids. Instead, show them rating-appropriate content. The landscape has changed since we were kids, and now all your favorite content creators are making beginner-friendly videos and courses. These are great for your kids, and healthy ways to engage in fun chess content without being peer-pressured into all the latest opening gambits and traps just because their friends are trying them.

I could not help but wonder if I am a “Chess content creator” and, if so, am I awesome, or what?!

The next section is titled: Practicing Safe Chess

It can be hard to know when to stop when it comes to chess. It could be a three-hour bullet chess binge late at night or “just one more game” when there’s still homework to be done. Your child must learn when to stop.

I know that’s right! Then again, what does a parent say when the child says, “But Daddy, can I just do it until I need glasses?” Maybe the parent should give some serious consideration to informing the child about what is a condom. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that Tennison Gambit: Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Variation all over me!

Then there is: The Issue of Elo

Ratings and Elo are huge talking points among chess-playing adolescents, and such discussions can, unfortunately, devolve into competitive comparisons such as “my blitz rating is 1300” and “oh, well my peak rapid rating is 1450.” These my horse is bigger than your horse discussions are commonplace among individuals whose prefrontal cortices are not fully developed, and while they should grow out of this in time, if such behavior goes unchecked, it may become entrenched.

https://www.chess.com/article/view/what-your-chess-piece-style-says-about-you

Then we come to: The Inevitability of Heartbreak

As children grow up, they form all sorts of attachments, whether these be to people, TikTok dances, or chess openings. A devastating loss in their pet line of the Sicilian Defense: Hyperaccelerated Dragon Variation at such a formative stage in their chess could mark the end of an era, and a lot of heartache. “I’m not playing this opening ever again!”, “It was my favorite opening!” or “I can’t believe it would let me down!” are all sentiments you may be hearing after a five-hour classical game that didn’t go your child’s way.

I am here to inform you that if you play Chess, you will inevitably suffer some form of heartburn that will break your heart…

This part concludes with this admonition from Miss Lularobs: If you want your child to stay honest and open with you about the chess openings and strategies they are using, then this is when they need you to support them the most. Let them know that you’re on their side, even if they hung their queen with an hour on the clock.

The article ends with: To Conclude

Ultimately, when it comes to their child discovering chess, every parent knows they’re in for a bumpy ride. There will be highs: the excitement of the World Chess Championship, seeing your child’s eyes light up when their favorite streamer takes part in PogChamps, and your child’s first classical FIDE-rated win. But, you know, there will also be lows: rating fluctuations, schoolyard teasing about the London System, and seeing Danny Rensch in a giant pawn costume. (If you go to Chess.com one can click onto a link in which Danny Rensch is actually dressed in some lime green thing that does sorta resemble a huge pawn, which is kinda appropriate for Danny Rensch, if you come to think about it…)

I don’t know about the part concerning “…the excitement of the World Chess Championship.” The two players contesting the upcoming WCC, which only found a venue recently, are not the best Chess players on the planet. One of the players melted down against World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen during the last WCC, and the other just played miserably in the first ‘Major” tournament of the year. The excitement for the upcoming WCC in the Chess world is most definitely NOT at a fever pitch. The so-called “World Chess Championship” has been turned into some kind of sick joke. What do you expect when the body overseeing Chess in the world, FIDE, is controlled by the Russians, who are currently perpetuating genocide against their neighbors in Ukraine.

Miss Lula concludes with: We may not have all been afforded such a supportive start to chess. I mean, playing Chessmaster alone and getting one weekly after-school session on ladder mates might have been the extent of your developmental support during your period of chess discovery, but we can do better by our kids and provide support for them in improving at chess, being respectful towards other players, and perhaps one day even beating Mittens.

What Is Your Chess Horoscope?

Seeing the recent article, Aquarius and their strategy, by Dagmar Seifert, (https://en.chessbase.com/post/aquarius-and-their-strategy) “…a North German journalist, author and astrologer. She loves chess, but is by no means an overly good player. ” (https://en.chessbase.com/author/dagmar-seifert) at Chessbase, (https://en.chessbase.com/post/aquarius-and-their-strategy) caused me to reflect upon the changes that have been brought to Chess with the inclusion of many females into the, shall we say, Chess stream. ‘Back in the day’ it would have been preposterous for any male involved with the Royal Game to even suggest a Chess magazine (there was no internet ‘back in the day’) publish an article on anything astrological. Now it is de rigueur.

https://en.chessbase.com/author/dagmar-seifert

The first article concerning astrology was online at Chess.com, Find Out Your Chess Horoscope, by a woman with the handle Lularobs, posted Feb 28, 2022 (https://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-horoscope).

https://www.chess.com/article/view/chess-horoscope

We would look forward to reading the horoscopes by Rob Brezsny (https://freewillastrology.com/) found in a local Atlanta tabloid, Creative Loafing:

Rob Brezsny can now be found online (https://freewillastrology.com/).

Horoscopes by Rob Brezsny
Week of February 2nd, 2023

♌ LEO (July 23-August 22)

Fate has decreed, “Leos must be wanderers for a while.” You are under no obligation to obey this mandate, of course. Theoretically, you could resist it. But if you do indeed rebel, be sure your willpower is very strong. You will get away with outsmarting or revising fate only if your discipline is fierce and your determination is intense. OK? So let’s imagine that you will indeed bend fate’s decree to suit your needs. What would that look like? Here’s one possibility: The “wandering” you undertake can be done in the name of focused exploration rather than aimless meandering.

Horoscopes by Rob Brezsny
Week of February 2nd, 2023

♍ VIRGO (August 23-September 22)

I wish I could help you understand and manage a situation that has confused you. I’d love to bolster your strength to deal with substitutes that have been dissipating your commitment to the Real Things. In a perfect world, I could emancipate you from yearnings that are out of sync with your highest good. And maybe I’d be able to teach you to dissolve a habit that has weakened your willpower. And why can’t I be of full service to you in these ways? Because, according to my assessment, you have not completely acknowledged your need for this help. So neither I nor anyone else can provide it. But now that you’ve read this horoscope, I’m hoping you will make yourself more receptive to the necessary support and favors and relief.

Alien Expert Says They Don’t Come In Peace

Alien expert: They don’t come in peace


Malcolm Robinson has researched UFO sightings and alien abductions for decades and is one of the experts in the field.
By MAARIV ONLINE
Published: JANUARY 31, 2023

UFO (illustrative).
(photo credit: RAWPIXEL)

Malcolm Robinson is one of the leading alien experts in Britain and wrote over ten books on the subject, after analyzing lots of incidents connected with aliens during the last decades.

While according to him, most alien sightings have relatively simple explanations, Robinson claims that there are still a lot of sightings he couldn’t explain.

The mystery is real.

Talking to The Daily Star, he said: “Whilst a large proportion of UFOs [unidentified flying objects] can be explained away as having natural explanations, only a few remain, and it is to that small one percent that I and my colleagues worldwide are trying to get to the bottom. What is in no doubt, is that the UFO enigma is real, very real, it has been with us throughout time. We see this in Renaissance paintings and old cave paintings, these strange shapes and entities.”

https://www.coasttocoastam.com/article/odd-ufo-clouds-spotted-over-central-texas/

When asked about what they could want from us humans, Robinson answered: “They have an agenda for sure, we can but speculate. I wouldn’t say they are peaceful, due to the thousands of UFO abductions worldwide.”

When asked how aliens look in his opinion, Robinson said that the most frequent sightings that are reported, don’t look different from the creatures we usually see in films and television. “[These are] small childlike creatures, about 3 to 4 feet in height with bluey-grey translucent skin, large pear-shaped heads with inky black wrap-around eyes. No sign of any genitalia. These small greys are the most commonly reported entities seen in close proximity to UFOs.” (https://www.jpost.com/omg/article-730140)

Chess Is The Name Of The Game At The 85th Tata Steel 2023 Chess Tournaments

It has been a rough first month of 2023 for this writer, what with first the flu, followed by a bad back, and then a tooth extraction. On the bright side it did give me time to watch much of the action emanating from the country still thought of as Holland by we older players.

In the top section of the 2023 Tata Steel Chess tournament played in the city of Wijk aan Zee, in The Netherlands, there were only two undefeated players, Anish Giri,

and Wesley So.

Wesley So | Photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit / Tata Steel Chess Tournament 2023

Giri plays under the flag of The Netherlands, which will surely make the nonpareil Chess journalist, Diederik Johan Mathijs ten Geuzendam,

editor-in-chief of New In Chess, an international chess magazine with readers in 116 countries, a happy writer. GM Giri won four games, two more than GM Wesley So, who plays under the American flag, and deservedly earned the title. Nodirbek Abdusattorov,

of Uzbekistan, finished in a tie for second place after losing his last round game to Jordan Van Foreest, who finished at minus one.

Jordan Van Foreest vs. Vincent Keymer (https://en.chessbase.com/post/tata-steel-chess-2023-endgames-3)

Current World Chess Champ Magnus Carlsen

Magnus Carlsen missed a great chance against Praggnanandhaa | photo: Lennart Ootes, Tata Steel Chess

of Norway also finished in a tie for second place, which was quite an achievement after losing with black to Giri in round 4 and Abdusattorov in the following round. Magnus scored the most wins, five, and earns the comeback of the tournament award.

The Tata Steel Challengers was won by GM Alexander Donchenko,

Alexander Donchenko (https://en.chessbase.com/post/tata-steel-chess-2023-r11)

who plays under the German flag. Donchenko won eight games, with one loss. Mustafa Yilmaz, of Turkey, finished second, a full point back, with six wins and only one loss, which came at the hands of Donchenko. Javokhir Sindarov, from Uzbekistan, finished clear third while winning five games, and losing only one, to Yilmaz.

It could have been better for Donchenko but for a huge hiccup in an even position versus GM Erwin L’Ami:

Donchenko vs L’Ami Position after 53…Rb5 (https://lichess.org/broadcast/tata-steel-challengers-2023/round-9/y6YttXFI)

The best thing about the tournament was the fighting spirit displayed by most of the players. For the most part all games were played to a conclusion, which is how Chess should be played. The players had their knives out, and the blades had obviously been sharpened before sitting down to fight! It is unfortunate this tournament, like most tournaments played at the house that Rex built in St. Louis, is one of the only tournaments in which short draws do not proliferate. For Chess to survive that must be changed.

One of the takeaways from the tournament was the poor endgame play. One Chess fan posited the reason to be all of the quick play games which proliferate today. Another mentioned all the “games not played,” meaning the multitude of short draws agreed to these daze… It is extremely difficult to learn how to play the endgame if a player regularly agrees to short draws. It would be better for the younger player to LOSE an endgame, rather than agree to a draw, because after the loss he would have something to study. A player can replay all of the endgames published in textbooks, or found online, but there is nothing like reviewing one of you own games to have the lesson indelibly etched into your brain!

Ding Liren,

Anish Giri has become a 2800-killer | photo: Jurriaan Hoefsmit, Tata Steel Chess

from China, is to play the Russian, Ian Nepomniachtchi,

for the title of World Chess Champion in less than three months. Until the last few days there was no venue for the match. The Russian, Nepo, suffered a meltdown versus Magnus Carlsen in the previous match for the World Championship. No matter which player wins the match, Chess will be the loser. Ding could only win one game while losing three. His performance rating was only 2678. His current FIDE rating was 2811 prior to the Tata Steel event. The poor form displayed in this event bodes ill for the match and it appears to have dropped Ding into third place on the Live Rating List, putting him behind Nepo for second place.

The tournaments were followed wire to wire, and immensely enjoyed. Much will be written about these tournaments in the coming days, but not by this writer, who will leave it to the professionals, like my friend Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam, one of the best Chess writer’s to have ever to write about the Royal Game.

School librarians vilified as the ‘arm of Satan’

https://www.drudgereport.com/

School librarians vilified as the ‘arm of Satan’ in book-banning wars
Story by Jeffrey Fleishman

In her time as a Texas school librarian, Carolyn Foote watched the image of her profession veer from “shrinking violets behind spectacles” cataloging titles to “pedophiles and groomers” out to pollute the minds of the nation’s youth.

“Librarians came from a climate of being so appreciated to hearing this message that we’re reviled,” said Foote, co-founder of Freadom Fighters, an advocacy group for librarians that has nearly 15,000 Twitter followers. “It was an astonishing turn of events.” A lot of librarians are asking themselves whether they want to remain in the profession, she added. “At least five people I know have retired early.”

Once a comforting presence at story circle and book fairs, librarians have been condemned, bullied and drawn into battles over censorship as school and library boards face intensifying pressure from conservatives seeking to ban books exploring racial and LGBTQ themes. Those voices have grown stronger in red states since the pandemic, when parental groups opposed to mask mandates expanded their sights and became more involved in how and what their children were taught.

Recent polls suggest most Americans are not in favor of banning books.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/school-librarians-vilified-as-the-arm-of-satan-in-book-banning-wars/ar-AA16Nq5A

My Morning Jacket


“Librarian” Lyrics

Walk across the courtyard towards the library
I can hear the insects buzz and the leaves ‘neath my feet
Ramble up the stairwell into the hall of books
Since we got the interweb these hardly get used

Duck into the men’s room, combing through my hair
When God gave us mirrors he had no idea
Looking for a lesson in the periodicals
There I spy you listening to the AM radio

Karen of the Carpenters, singing in the rain
Another lovely victim of the mirror’s evil way
It’s not like you’re not trying, with a pencil in your hair
To defy the beauty the good Lord put in there

Simple little bookworm, buried underneath
Is the sexiest librarian
Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me

So I watch you through the bookcase, imagining a scene
You and I had dinner, spending time, then you sleep
And what then would I say to you, lying there in bed
These words with a kiss I would plant in your head

What is it inside our heads that makes us do the opposite
Makes us do the opposite of what’s right for us
‘Cause everything’d be great and everything’d be good
If everybody gave like everybody could

Sweetest little bookworm, hidden underneath
Is the sexiest librarian
Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me
Take off those glasses and let down your hair for me

Simple little beauty, heaven in your breath
Simplest of pleasures, the world at its best
https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/mymorningjacket/librarian.html

Dedicated to my favorite librarian, Heather.

GCA President On The Mend!

Mr. J. Parnell Watkins is the President of the Georgia Chess Association. He has been sidelined recently after having heart surgery to replace a valve. It was good to have this good news in the inbox today! The following exchange transpired a short time ago:

Mike Bacon magister7476@gmail.com

Your words would make a fine post, Parnell, and with your approval I am willing to put it on the blog.

The reply:

Yes, you are free to share. I will be glad to review and comment on any edits you make.

Parnell

Mike Bacon magister7476@gmail.com

to Jr.
I’d not planned on any edits! I would not change a word, sir. Now if you want something changed, please let me know…otherwise, I’m ready to fire that salvo!

J Parnell Watkins, Jr.

to me
No changes. I’m feeling reckless, and short on work hours.

Parnell

With that in mind…

J Parnell Watkins, Jr.

12:42 PM (1 hour ago)

to me
I should add, heart surgery went well and other than a tendency to end sentences with “Mooo”, no ill effects. New valve working well, arteries and veins relatively healthy, and back to (limited) work today. I have about a month of GCA to catch up on, but am glad to say we are now at a state where we can host a tournament without my direct intervention. The MLK went well from planning to implementation with minimal input from me. I have the greatest respect for Scott Parker, but I am not him nor am I willing to be the critical piece that makes the entire organization function. I do not have either his or Fun Fong’s energy (each of us have different strengths and weaknesses to work with).

We desperately need a treasurer if you know anyone who has that kind of mind for details and a love of chess. It isn’t me for sure. Board positions up for election in April are: President (me), 1st VP (Thad Rogers), Treasurer (vacant), Secretary (Kendya Scott), 1st Member at Large (Kevin Schmuggerrow), 2nd Member at Large (vacant). Kendya will not run again (focusing on running tournaments) and Thad may not (he is slowing down).

Thanks to the generosity of James Altucher, most of your concerns with last year’s Senior’s Tournament have been addressed. He is hosting the event, giving us a break between rounds. Most of the other details are the same. Formats for the championship, class, and open are the same this year. Women’s tournament tournament failed to occur last year, the first choices for venue were not available and the backup site was cancelled on us. Still trying to get a college, preferably a women’s college (Agnes Scott or Spellman), to host.

With some minor exceptions, this year is planned, and we will begin looking at 2024 in April. Two biggest challenges right now are the office of treasury (paying bills, awarding winnings, accounting, etc.) and communications (websites, blogs, etc.). I need the right people to run these efforts. We need to be more timely paying out and have better accounting practices and ensure easy and clear access to any and all GCA information via social media of choice, coordinating the outlets and feeding them in a timely manner.

Well, I’m back and open for feedback again. Sorry for the long absence but my heart wouldn’t wait for a more convenient time to make its own problems known. Now with a fully functioning heart I hope to have more energy to put into the GCA.

Parnell

You have heard from The Man. Any organization is only as good as those who lead the organization. The GCA needs YOU!

President of the GCA Parnell Watkins awarding a prize to Alex, a student of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear

The Doomsday Clock and The Final Countdown

The Doomsday Clock reveals how close we are to total annihilation

By Megan Marples, Kristen Rogers and Rachel Ramirez, CNN
Tue January 24, 2023

From left: Members of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Siegfried S. Hecker, Daniel Holz, Sharon Squassoni, Mary Robinson and Elbegdorj Tsakhia stand for a photo with the 2023 Doomsday Clock in Washington, DC, on January 24.

The Doomsday Clock has been ticking for 76 years. But it’s no ordinary clock.

It attempts to gauge how close humanity is to destroying the world.

On Tuesday, the clock was set at 90 seconds until midnight — the closest to the hour it has ever been, according to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which created the clock in 1947. Midnight represents the moment at which we will have made Earth uninhabitable for humanity. From 2020 to 2022, the clock was set at 100 seconds to midnight.
https://www.cnn.com/2023/01/24/world/doomsday-clock-2023-climate-scn/index.html

The Land of the Sky

The Land of the Sky Chess tournament has a special place in the hearts of every Southern Chess player because of the organizer, Wilder Wadford, who, for whatever reason, took it upon himself to host the tournament, which began in 1992. The 2023 edition will take place again in one of the most beautiful cities on the planet, Asheville, North Carolina. After surfin’ to the tournament website (https://landofthesky.us/) one finds: “The People’s Chess Tournament.” I can attest that it is! This year’s event will be the 35th edition of the tournament known as the “LOTS.”

Wilder may not be aware of this but in certain circles he is thought of, and called, “The Impresario,” and it it said with the utmost respect. “Wild Man Wilder” has also been heard on occasion, although Wilder is anything but a “wild man.” He is a respected attorney who lives in Weaverville, who hails from the Great State of Virginia. Wilder is, or maybe I should say was, a tournament Backgammon player. I have never, ever, heard anyone say anything derogatory about the man also known as “WW.” He is the epitome of a gentleman and scholar. There is one tale that was told to me about Wilder when I was residing in the mountains I will share. At a Chess tournament in New York city a thief nabbed the bag of someone WW was with on the sidewalk and without hesitating, WW took off after the thief, caught him, and returned with the bag! In NEW YORK CITY!

One year the fellow who took care of the wall board for the first board could not attend because his wife booked a cruise for the date of the LOTS. WW called this writer, who had not planned on attending, and asked if I would come up and man the wall board. The answer was, “I am honored by your request and will certainly be there, my friend.” It turned out to be one of the most pleasurable visits to the LOTS because I did not have to suffer the agony of defeat! It was interesting to watch, listen, and learn from a different perspective. The task was taken seriously and watching the top board, while attempting to predict the next move, was interesting. There was time to walk around and check out the games of my friends and frenemies while awaiting the next move made on the top board. WW comped the room, which meant I could stay Sunday night without having to drive after the tournament ended. This was nice because by that time I qualified for “Senior” status.

The most memorable and vivid memory was of an incident which will tell you about what kind of man is Mr. Wadford. I was in the TD room, talking with WW, when a well-known “live wire” player entered and began reading some papers as WW and I talked. Let me add here that some, if not most, would classify this writer as somewhat of a “live wire,” so I do not disparage the man when using the term “live wire.” I was about to take leave of the TD room when, all of a sudden, the live wire began arguing with WW about the prize fund. He was not happy about something and accused WW of who knows what. All I recall is that Mr. Live Wire thrust the papers he was holding into the face of WW! For a few seconds I was STUNNED… After looking at Wilder’s impassive face, and then taking a look at the live wire, I, as was told by a bystander, “Grabbed live wire by the throat with his left hand and shoved live wire out of the door and into the hallway wall, while balling up his right fist!” What can I say? I was LIVID! The thought of Wilder being attacker that way was “beyond the pale.” Fortunately I did not slug the cretin because the look of fear on his face told me there was no need to hit him. I did, though, give the live one the boot… After returning to the room WW was still sitting there with an impassive look on his face… After gathering the papers that had been strewn about the floor after leaving WW’s face I asked if he were OK. Wilder had the strangest look on his face as he nodded, so I figured maybe he wanted, or needed, to be alone, so I headed out of the TD room. It needs to be mentioned here that Mr. Live Wire was later one of only two players that had to be ordered out of the Atlanta Chess and Game Center by this writer.

Some time later as I was headed into the tournament room there were Wilder and Live Wire standing in the hallway, talking. That’s the way it is in Chess…

To prepare for writing this post I went to the LOTS website (https://landofthesky.us/) where this was found:

Please take the Land of the Sky Survey
Land of the Sky XXXV
The People’s Chess Tournament
February 3-5, 2023 (Weekend before Super Bowl)
Downloadable Flier
Registration: https://achievementtesting.info/wp/product-category/land-of-the-sky/

I urge everyone reading this to go to the website and take the survey. Over the years I have heard some bitch, whine, and complain, about organizers who will not listen to them. Wilder Wadford listens, and wants your feedback. Please honor the man and give him your two cents worth! As noted above, he can take it…

In preparing to write this post I went to the LOTS website where four games from the 2022 LOTS can be found. Each of them was replayed. The following game stood out:

Sheehan, Ethan Thomas (2288) – Smith, Bryan (2540)
Land of the Sky XXXIV (Asheville NC) [5] 2022.02.06
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 Na6 7.O-O e5 8.Qc2 Nb4 9.Qd1 a5 10.a3 Nc6 11.d5 Ne7 12.Nd2 Bd7 13.b3 Nc8 14.Bb2 c5 15.Nb5 Bh6 16.Bd3 Nh5 17.Re1 Nf4 18.Bf1 Qg5 19.Kh1 f5 20.Bc3 Nh5 21.b4 b6 22.bxa5 bxa5 23.exf5 gxf5 24.Nf3 Qg6 25.Rxe5 Nf6 26.Re2 Ne4 ½-½
https://landofthesky.us/

Final position

This writer first wrote about GM Bryan Smith

store.chessclub.com

on the long defunct BaconLOG in the post Louisville Chess (https://baconlog.blogspot.com/2009/11/louisville-chess.html) many years ago. The most recent post, The Najdorf in Black and White: A Review, can be found here: (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/06/01/the-najdorf-in-black-and-white-a-review/).

Upon reaching the final position it was obvious NM Ethan Thomas Sheehan had an advantage at the time of the draw. Much time was spent looking at the position in an attempt to learn how much of an advantage… This writer, and Chess fan, has gotten pretty good at guessing the numerical advantage, or disadvantage, the Stockfish program at lichess.com assigns a position, but still… Grandmasters do not usually offer a draw to a much lower rated unless maybe it is the last round, so I checked the cross table and it was the last round game. Because it ended in a draw GM Smith only tied for first with his last round opponent, and another National Master, Donald Johnson, from North Carolina. A Grandmaster would not offer a draw in that particular situation unless there was a good reason. The longer I looked at the position the less understanding was found. White is a pawn up, and the Black King is out in the open. It became obvious that it was incumbent for NM Thomas to reject the draw offer and at least make an attempt to defeat his GM opponent. No guts, no glory. For the rest of his life NM Thomas can tell others he drew with a GM, but when they say, “Oh yeah, let’s see the game,” he will not show it because it is proof positive he was chicken excrement that day. It is also positive proof of what is wrong with the Royal Game. There are no draw offers allowed in the Great Game of Go, which is why it is light-years better than Chess. It is also another reason all draw offers should be abolished. I do not know which is worse, agreeing to a three or four move draw or offering a draw when winning the game, but I do know that both should be consigned to oblivion. By the way, I finally estimated NM Thomas had an advantage of +1.5. The Stockfish program at lichess.com shows the advantage to be +2.4, which is considered having a winning advantage. Maybe the affinity developed for GM Smith after spending time with him in Louisville, and the well-placed Knight on e4, entered into my thinking a little too much…