Once upon a time a 7-year-old refugee living in a homeless shelter sat down at a chess board in school and learned how to play. His school then agreed to his mom’s plea to waive fees for him to join the chess club.
The boy wasn’t any good at first. His initial chess rating was 105, barely above the lowest possible rating, 100.
But the boy, Tanitoluwa Adewumi — better known as Tani — enjoyed chess as an escape from the chaos of the homeless shelter, and his skills progressed in stunning fashion. After little more than a year, at age 8, he won the New York State chess championship for his age group, beating well-coached children from rich private schools.
I wrote a couple of columns about Tani at that time, and readers responded by donating more than $250,000 to a GoFundMe campaign for Tani’s family, along with a year of free housing. It was heartwarming to see Tani running around the family’s new apartment, but I wondered: Is this kid really that good?
It turns out he is. This month, as a fifth grader, Tani cruised through an in-person tournament in Connecticut open to advanced players of all ages and won every game. He emerged with a chess rating of 2223, making him a national master.
At 10 years 7 months and 28 days, Tani became the 28th-youngest person ever to become a chess master in the United States, according to John Hartmann of U.S. Chess. Tani had one of the fastest rises, for he began playing chess only at the relatively late age of 7. And he’s aiming higher.
“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” he told me. “I want to have it when I’m 11 or 12.” The youngest person ever to become a grandmaster, Sergey Karjakin, achieved that honor at 12 years 7 months.
is the poet who plays Chess, and he plays it well enough to have won the championship of the Great State of California. Dennis lives in Berkeley, a city near and dear to the hearts of those of us who came of age in the 1960’s. It is the home of one of the great learning institutions, or was until Ronald Raygun became governor and did all he could to decimate one of the best universities in the USA. Republicans do not like independent thinking. Good thing the grand old party was not around in the time of George Washington or We The People would still be bowing to the Queen!
Dennis has written poetry for years, with many of his poems published in the Mechanics Institute Newsletter (https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/966). He has graciously sent a game he annotated and a poem to go along with it. First the poem:
came into the tournament
a red suit.
My friend Sharon
said she saw
a silvery aura
He left in disgust
she said, because
of all the hubbub
he was causing.
I guess John
was more distracted
than even I was;
I won my game.
1972 American Open, Los Angeles
Fritzinger – John Grefe, American Open 1972
1 g3 g6 2 Bg2 Bg7 3 c4 e5 4 Nc3 d6 5 e3 Nc6 6 Nge2 h5 (A logical thrust) 7 h4 (The best reply) 7…Nh6 8 d4 (White must hurry to get this in or Black will play Nf5 and prevent it) 8…exd4 9 Nxd4 (White can also play exd4, but I wanted to exchange a knight) 9…Nxd4 10 exd4 Bg4 (The position is approximately equal) 11 Qd3 O-O 12 O-O Bf5 13 Qf3 c6 14 Qd1 (Now I could find no better move than this retreat) 14…Re8 (Black could play 14…Bg4 15 Qd3 Bf5 16 Qd1 and take a draw, but wants more) 15 Bg5 (What’s sauce for the goose…) 15…Qb6 16 Qd2 Ng4 17 Rad1 a5 18 b3 Nf6 19 Bf4 (Targeting the weak d-pawn) 19…Qb4 (Optimistic) 20 d5 Ng4 21 Ne2 cxd5 22 Bxd5 Qb6 23 Bxd6 Qxd6 (All goes as Black has foreseen…) 24 Bxf7+ Kxf7 25 Qxd6 Rxe2 (With three pieces for the queen, Black thought he had an advantage here) 26 Qd5+ Kf8 27 Rde1 (Not 27 Qxb7 Be4 when the Black pieces start to really coordinate) 27…Rae8 28 Rxe2 Rxe2 (In order to keep a rook on the 7th, Black decided to give up his a-pawn) 29 Qxa5 (White accepts) 29…Kg8 (Black wants to play Bd4 with unbearable pressure. Unfortunately he can’t do it yet because his king is exposed. If 29…Bd4 30 Qd8+ picks up the bishop) 30 Re1 Rxe1+ (If 30…Rxf2 31 Re8+ is nettlesome. But what the heck—surely 3 pieces are enough compensation considering White’s vulnerable f-pawn?) 31 Qxe1 Bd4 32 Qe8+ Kh7 33 Qe7+ Kh6 34 Qg5+ Kg7 35 Qe7+ Kh6 36 Kg2? (Better was Qxb7 since after 36…Nxf2 it’s harder for Black to coordinate his pieces) 36…Bxf2? (Returning the favor. Better was 36…Nxf2 and White can’t take the b-pawn due to Be4+) 37 Qxb7 (All’s well again for White) 37…Bd4 38 Qf3 (With a crude threat) 38…Be3 39 b4 (Giddy-up!) 39…Bd2 40 c5 (That check on f4 has been useful twice!) 40…Be3 41 c6 Bb6 42 Qf4+ Kg7 43 c7 (Another tiny little threat) 43…Ne3+ 44 Kh1 Bc8 (The bishops aren’t as effective at long distance) 45 Qe4 (Guarding the long diagonal and threatening Qa8 winning a piece. The c-pawn is indirectly defended due to the check on d7) 45…Nf5 46 Qc6 (Overlooking 46 Qa8! Nd6 47 Qc6 Bb7 48 Qxb7 Nxb7 49 c8(Q). Now the win becomes much harder) 46…Bf2 (Black is still breathing, but barely. Unfortunately he is powerless to stop the advance of the b-pawn) 47 b5 Ne7 48 Qe4 Nf5 49 Qe8 Bb7+ (49…Nd6 is met by 50 Qe5+ picking up the knight) 50 Kh2 Bxg3+ 51 Kh3 Nd6 52 Qd7+ (Finally winning a piece, since 52…Nf7 is met by 53 Kxg3, and after any other move first White checks (to avoid the knight fork) and then takes the bishop. 1-0
The following game proves my favorite move, Qe2, is not always a good move!
“Nuclear Family” by Dennis Fritzinger coming out soon!
By Haas School of Business Posted on December 20, 2019
We are so excited to announce that our wonderful colleague and long-time mail room manager Dennis Fritzinger has a poetry-filled memoir coming out very soon. “Nuclear Family” is about growing up during the Cold War. Dennis tells us that we will get a poet’s-eye-view of those scary times when it seemed like a nuclear war could break out at any moment. “Since it’s a memoir, it’s circumference is my immediate family, with drop-ins by other relatives and bit players from time to time. Not to spoil the story, but the subject covers family matters even beyond the icy reach of the Cold War.
If you are interested in a copy of “Nuclear Family” please get in touch with Dennis.
Dennis Fritzinger receives the Haas Heart Award, Nov 6, 2013
In Sunday school we were told Lot’s wife Looked back and turned To Salt. But her family wasn’t leaving Paradise. We loved our trees and waters And the creatures and earths and skies In that beloved place. Those beings were our companions Even as they fed us, cared for us. If I turn to salt It will be of petrified tears From the footsteps of my relatives As they walked west.
In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke people were forcibly removed from their original lands east of the Mississippi to Indian Territory, which is now part of Oklahoma. Two hundred years later, Joy Harjo returns to her family’s lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice. A descendent of storytellers and “one of our finest—and most complicated—poets” (Los Angeles Review of Books), Joy Harjo continues her legacy with this latest powerful collection.
April was National Poetry Month and I had hoped to publish a poem before the month ended but, alas, it was not to be. When young I often heard something about being, “A day late and a dollar short.” Seems things never change…
W.S. Merwin is thought of by some as the finest poet produced by the United States. He earned a long list of awards. His stunning 2008 book, The Shadow Of Sirius, won a Pulitzer Prize in 2009.
The poem I have chosen to present is from his 2016 book, Garden Time.
What Can We Call It
It is never what we thought it would be it was never wished for when it was here the clouds do not wish for it on their way the nesting birds are not waiting for it it is never on time never measured but it has no promises to keep it remembers but only for one time it tells us that it has never left us but where is it where was it where will it be where were we where are we where will we be each time it has taken us by surprise and vanished before we knew what to say but who could have taught us what to call it it can join in our laughter and sometimes startle us for a moment in our grief it can be given but can never be sold it belongs to each one of us alone yet it is not anyone’s possession wild though it is we fear only its loss
Dedicated to Dennis Fritzinger
On the last day of the world I would want to plant a tree – W.S. Merwin
was at the Sports Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The Motor City Madman was with the Amboy Dukes and wearing only a loincloth. For some reason the crazed maniac decided to jump off the stage and into the crowd. That was, as Boris Kogan was so fond of saying when analyzing one of my Chess games, a “BEEG mistake.” The crowd began pummeling the poor dude, with the audience, including the fellow with whom I had attended the show, Richard Dalrymple, shouting, “KILL HIM!” If there was any security they were most definitely not going to attempt going into the crowd that had turned into a blood thirsty mob; Ted was on his own…Fortunately, he was returned to the stage, bloodied, but unbowed, and he picked up the guitar and continued playing as if nothing had happened. The crowd went WILD, yelling and screaming in appreciation.
“The debut album by the Amboy Dukes should be high on collectors’ lists. Fusing the psychedelia of the early Blues Magoos with Hendrix riffs and British pop, the band which launched the legend of Ted Nugent has surprises galore in these lost grooves. As essential to the Amboy Dukes’ catalog as the non-hit material on Psychedelic Lollipop was to the Blues Magoos, the first album from the Amboy Dukes is a real find and fun listening experience. “The Lovely Lady” almost sounds like the Velvet Underground meets the Small Faces by way of Peanut Butter Conspiracy. This is a far cry from Cat Scratch Fever, and that’s why fans of psychedelia and ’60s music should cherish this early diamond.” AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione (https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ted-nugent-mn0000749970/biography)
Ted left The Dukes and set out on his own. The title of one of his albums seemed to have Chess players in mind:
Fast forward several decades and the Madman transformed himself into the Wildman and a television show filled with the blood and gore of animals he killed to prove it:
It should come as no surprise that Terrible Ted became a strident arch conservative:
Ted Nugent has no idea what ‘COVID-19’ means in bizarre rant
Turns out there is such a thing as a dumb question.
In a viral video shared via Facebook Live on April 7, “Cat Scratch Fever” rocker Ted Nugent claimed he wasn’t afraid of the big bad coronavirus.
“I ain’t scared. I ain’t scared of nothing,” Nugent, 72, began in the 12-minute clip recorded, presumably from his home near Jackson, Michigan, where he runs a 340-acre hunting ranch called Sunrize Acres.
After waxing on about regional “songbirds,” the outspoken conservative then launched into a rant about his canceled tour plans due to pandemic restrictions.
“Are you kidding me? The production companies won’t let us tour again this year,” said Nugent in the meandering rant. “Dirty, bastards, lying, scam, smoke and mirrors, COVID-19 freaks.”
“Why weren’t we shut down for COVID one through 18?” the “Stranglehold” singer then asked in the video, which contains some PG-13 language.
Nugent’s fans wished him a speedy recovery beneath his post, especially as his age puts him in a high-risk group for severe COVID-19 illness. His critics, on the other hand, reveled in the news that Nugent was infected with the very disease he has denied and spread misinformation about.
His name was trending on Twitter on Tuesday morning — just a week after he went viral for appearing to be confused about what “COVID-19” actually means.
In fact, the name notes the fact that the virus was discovered in 2019 — not that it’s the 19th coronavirus. Specifically, COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2, which the World Health Organization first learned of on Dec. 31, 2019. The WHO notes that coronavirus disease 2019 has been called “COVID-19” for short.
The United States has vaccinated more than half of its adults against Covid-19, but it could be months until the country has vaccinated enough people to put herd immunity within reach (and much of the world is still desperately waiting for access to vaccines).
Places with rising vaccination rates, like the United States, can look forward to case numbers coming down a lot in the meantime. And sooner than you might think. That’s because cases decline via the principle of exponential decay.
Many people learned about exponential growth in the early days of the pandemic to understand how a small number of cases can quickly grow into a major outbreak as transmission chains multiply. India, for example, which is in the grips of a major Covid-19 crisis, is in a phase of exponential growth.
Exponential growth means case numbers can double in just a few days. Exponential decay is its opposite. Exponential decay means case numbers can halve in the same amount of time.
Understanding exponential dynamics makes it easier to know what to expect in the coming phase of the pandemic: Why things will improve quickly as vaccination rates rise and why it’s important to maintain some precautions even after case numbers come down.
Exponential decay will cause infections to plummet
Every case of Covid-19 that is prevented cuts off transmission chains, which prevents many more cases down the line. That means the same precautions that reduce transmission enough to cause a big drop in case numbers when cases are high translate into a smaller decline when cases are low. And those changes add up over time. For example, reducing 1,000 cases by half each day would mean a reduction of 500 cases on Day 1 and 125 cases on Day 3 but only 31 cases on Day 5.
The end of the pandemic will therefore probably look like this: A steep drop in cases followed by a longer period of low numbers of cases, though cases will rise again if people ease up on precautions too soon.
Reaching herd immunity is a key goal. It drives cases toward zero by slowing the spread of the virus through a combination of vaccination and infection-acquired immunity to maintain exponential decay — even as society resumes normal activities.
By Zoë M. McLaren
Dr. McLaren is an associate professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, who studies policies to combat infectious disease epidemics, including Covid-19.
[Mos Def:] Bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka-bucka, haha! You know the deal: it’s just me, yo Beats by Su-Primo for all of my people, Negroes and Latinos And even the gringos
Yo, check it 1 for Charlie Hustle, 2 for Steady Rock 3 for the forthcoming live future shock It’s 5 dimensions, 6 senses 7 firmaments of heaven and hell, 8 million stories to tell 9 planets faithfully keep in orbit with the probable 10th The universe expands length The body of my text possess extra strength Power-lift the powerless up out of this towering inferno My ink so hot it burn through the journal I’m blacker than midnight on Broadway and Myrtle Hip-Hop passed all your tall social hurdles Like the nationwide project-prison-industry complex Working-class poor: better keep your alarm set Streets too loud to ever hear freedom ring Say evacuate your sleep, it’s dangerous to dream For ch-ching, cats get the “cha-pow!” You dead now Killing fields need blood to graze the cash cow It’s a numbers game, but shit don’t add up somehow Like I got 16 to 32 bars to rock it But only 15% of profits ever see my pockets like 69 billion in the last 20 years Spent on national defense but folks still live in fear like Nearly half of America’s largest cities is one-quarter black That’s why they gave Ricky Ross all the crack 16 ounces to a pound, 20 more to a ki A 5-minute sentence hearing and you’re no longer free 40% of Americans own a cell phone So they can hear everything that you say when you ain’t home I guess Michael Jackson was right: you are not alone Rock your hardhat, black, cause you in the Terrordome Full of hard niggas, large niggas, dice-tumblers Young teens and prison greens facing life numbers Crack mothers, crack babies and AIDS patients Young bloods can’t spell but they could rock you in PlayStation This New Math is whipping motherfuckers’ ass You want to know how to rhyme you better learn how to add It’s mathematics
[Chorus: scratched by DJ Premier:] “The Mighty Mos Def” “It’s simple mathematics” “Check it out” “I revolve around science..” “What are we talking about here?” “The Mighty Mos Def” “It’s simple mathematics” “Check it out” “I revolve around science..” “What are we talking about here?” “Do your math, do your math” “1, 2, 3, 4” “What are we talking about here?”
[Mos Def:] Yo, it’s 1 universal law but 2 sides to every story 3 strikes and you biddin’ for life, mandatory 4 MCs murdered in the last 4 years I ain’t trying to be the 5th when the millennium is here Yo it’s 6 million ways to die, from the 7 deadly thrills 8-year-olds getting found with 9mils It’s 10 PM, where your seeds at? What’s the deal? He on the hill pumping krills to keep they bellies filled Light in the ass with heavy steel, sights on the pretty shit in life Young soldiers trying to earn their next stripe When the average minimum wage is $5.15 You best believe you’ve got to find a new grind to get cream The white unemployment rate is nearly more than triple for black Some front-liners got their gun in your back Bubbling crack, jewel theft and robbery to combat poverty And end up in the global jail economy Stiffer stipulations attached to each sentence Budget cutbacks but increased police presence And even if you get out of prison still living Join the other 5 million under state supervision This is business: no faces, just lines and statistics From your phone, your Zip Code to SSI digits The system break man, child, and women into figures 2 columns for “who is” and “who ain’t niggas” Numbers is hard and real and they never have feelings But you push too hard, even numbers got limits Why did one straw break the camel’s back? Here’s the secret The million other straws underneath it It’s all mathematics (math)
“The Mighty Mos Def” “It’s simple mathematics” “Check it out” “I revolve around science..” “What are we talking about here?” “The Mighty Mos Def” “It’s simple mathematics” “Check it out” “I revolve around science..” “What are we talking about here?” “Do your math, do your math” “1, 2, 3, 4” “What are we talking about here?”
The AW received his first shot of vaccine yesterday. The next follows in 27 daze. I had wanted to receive the Jannsen, or Johnson, or Johnson & Johnson, whatever…because it was one shot, like the movie, The Deer Hunter:
After asking if they had the Jannsen vaccine I was informed, “We are not giving the J&J.” I did not ask if they were giving it, but rather let it drop and took the shot. I’ve played the odds most of my life, and even though there have been situations in which I was a big underdog, I’m still sitting here punching & poking, so I must have made some good moves on the Chessboard of life.
In the immortal words of Eric Clapton, If you want to hang out/You’ve got to take her out/Vaccine…If you want to get down/down on the ground/Vaccine
OK, the word Eric used is “cocaine”. OK, I was considered a “hippie” back in the day, but what the hell do I know about cocaine, something about which, in the immortal words of Sgt. Schultz…
Watching events evolve while nutted-up the last year has been amazing. Who’d ever thunk, huh? I mean, we protested against the Viet Nam “police action” (That’s right, youngsters, Viet Nam was not a “war”), and some of we hippies may have looked odd, and even strange, to the mainstream viewers, but we never attempted an insurrection in a vain attempt to take over the US Capital and over throw the government. I mean, seriously, if the leader, or “guru” of your movement looks like this:
maybe you oughta reconsider joining the “movement.” The dude has become a cult hero:
The attempted coup d’etat was about as ridiculous as the Presidency of the Trumpster. The participants will have plenty of time to consider how absurd were their actions.
Many have written negatively about the vaccines developed to fight the Coronavirus. A woman, known earlier in my life, who lives in Indiana and “loves” the sycophantic former VeeP, Mike Pence, calls the pandemic the “fauci hoax.” The crazed woman is completely against any vaccination. Period. She doesn’t trust the government, or at least the current government. She trusted the former government, of which the renowned and highly esteemed Doctor Anthony Fauci
was a part. Go figure…
People like her do not understand the history of pandemic flu. In 1918 the Spanish flu killed a reported 500,000 Americans from 1918 to 1920, and more than 50 million worldwide. From reading the history of POTUS Woodrow Wilson decades ago I recalled a story about the city of San Francisco donning masks, then thinking the disease had left the scene they had been struck again, so they put the masks back on, and did this time and again until, finally, they took them off and were able to keep them off. Here are two articles about San Fran in 1918: https://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/San-Francisco-s-1918-Spanish-flu-debacle-A-15191518.php
In addition, my memory contains something about a monastery in the Bay area during that time that had no cases because they closed their doors and did not open them until the coast was clear, so to speak. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate anything about a monastery, but I did find an article about the United States Naval Training Station on Yerba Buena Island that is extremely interesting:
“While the flu was devastating for an unprepared public in San Francisco, just off the shoreline a completely different story emerged at the Naval Training Station on Yerba Buena Island. Home to over 6,000 military soldiers, officers, and family members at the time, the island was only accessible by boat and was protected from the virus by a strict quarantine. For 62 days, officials locked down Yerba Buena from the rest of the world.
Not one person was infected or killed by influenza during that period.”
When the Trumpster stole the election, just like Tricky Dick Nixon in ’68
by using assistance from another country, Russia, which is illegal because it is treason, I had been living with a woman for about half a year. She was in the habit of going to bed with the chickens, as we say down South, and getting up with the birds, so she was in for what my father constantly informed me I would be in for one day, a “rude awakening.” After learning the Trumpster won, she changed completely as a person. She refused to talk about him, calling him an “idiot” and leaving it at that…I have talked with a number of men who said the same thing about their significant others, one of whom was a Republican, but voted for Hillary Clinton because she wanted to see a woman in the White House before she died. She will not get the chance, I am sorry to hafta write…In an election between the, arguably, most qualified candidate and the least qualified candidate of all time, the less qualified in every respect, won the election and became POTUS, to the detriment of We The People. There was blood on Nixxon’s hands as he kept the Viet Nam “conflict” ragin’ for seven more years, and there is blood on the Trumpster’s hands because, while he and his wife were secretly vaccinated, and received the best treatment available at the time when they contracted the coronavirus, he refused to wear a mask, leading maybe half a million people to their deaths on his way out the door. From all the history you read you will learn that if only everyone wore a mask…if only…it was as simple as that in 1918
Red Cross volunteers wore face masks during the flu pandemic of 1918. (CNN)
and the same holds true for today. The major difference is that today we are fortunate enough to have a vaccine, or more properly, several vaccines. You do not hafta trust the “gov’mint” but you can trust SCIENCE! Yet the virus still rages and is growing exponentially, like wildfire, all over the globe because of “idiots,” or as I’ve come to think of them, Fools In Power.
In round twelve of the Candidates tournament Kirill Alekseenko
decided to play the Caro-Kann against MVL. On his third move MVL must have stunned the young player when he moved his f-pawn up one square to f3. The opening then became what is known as the “Fantasy” variation.
It is also known as the Tartakover variation, having first been played in a top level event by the inventive Dr. Savielly Tartakover.
Tartakover is known for some great Chess quotes. One of the best is, “A master can sometimes play badly, a fan never!”
One of the best Chess books you will ever read is, 500 Master Games of Chess, by Tartakover.
We devoured the book ‘back in the day’. I was known for playing “off beat” openings and many came from the mind of Dr. Tartakover, and this book.
MVL v Alekseenko
1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3
I played this against The Man in the Red Beret, Jude Frazer Acers
he had traveled with Jerry Wheeler from Nashville, Tennessee, to play in an American Chess Promotions tournament in Atlanta. Brian was wearing a Metallica tee-shirt while sporting wild, frizzy hair, as was the custom ‘back in the day’. He was full of nervous energy and full of “in your face” confidence and bluster.
I defeated Brian the first two times we faced off over the board but lost the third game. We never played another rated game. For years I was under the impression Brian had won the game by projecting an overwhelming, massive amount of energy. I played the B16 Caro-Kann, Bronstein-Larsen variation, and had a decent position until being overwhelmed on the queen-side. Decades later we looked at the game and it was obvious I had at least an even position until making a rather weak move. “Hey man,” I said, “I’m in good shape if’n I play this!” Brian just grinned…
While on the road playing Chess, Brian invited me to spend a week in between tournaments at his parents house. After a few days I heard his folks talking. His father asked his wife, “How long is this guy gonna be here?” I immediately went into the kitchen saying, “Brian asked me to spend a week saying he had discussed it with you, and you said it would be OK.” They were very nice and understanding. I’ve no idea what was said to Brian, though I would have liked to have been a “fly on the wall.”
That was the most intense week I have ever spent, Chess wise. It was like Brian sucked out all the Chess knowledge my brain contained. The only time we left the house was to play in a nightly Backgammon tournament. I had stopped playing professionally some time earlier when the boom went bust. At least the tournament got us away from Chess for a few hours…Decades later this came up in conversation and Brian shot out, “Yeah Bacon, you got knocked out in the first round. I played two matches!” What could I do but smile? Another player said, “Come on Brian, Bacon won the Atlanta and Georgia Backgammon titles. How many Backgammon titles do you hold?” That shut Brain up, at least for a little while, which was not something that happened often.
Brian moved to New York, working a day job at Merrill Lynch, playing Chess at night. If you can make it there…
Brian made it in New York. He had some great stories about that time and about the people, like Jay Bonin,
someone Brian held in high regard. He regaled us with the inside story of famous players, like the one famous guy who earned his IM title fraudulently.
During this time Brian visited a tournament in which I participated in up north near New York. I cannot recall if Brian played in the event or only visited. What I do vividly recall is that Brian missed his ride into the city and needed a place to spend the night. I had met a fellow at a tournament on the road before the event who had advertised for a roommate. We agreed to share the room. It must have been a weekend night, so Brian did not have to be at work the following day. I offered to share my bed with Brian. We returned to the room late, as is to be expected. My roommate, a US Army soldier, a supply sergeant, was asleep. We were awakened at o’dark thirty by a clapping sound. Army was up and at’em early, doing push-ups while clapping his hands.
“What the Fork you doing, G.I. Joe?!” I inquired.
“I gotta lose some weight or they’ll boot me outta the service,” he said.
“How about doing it OUTSIDE, man; anywhere but HERE!”
We laughed about it later after a few more hours of sleep. When Brian laughed his face scrunched up and lit up like a Christmas tree.
Later I was eating when two players sat behind me and started talking about the roommates who did not know one another until meeting at a tournament before this one. “One of the guys is in the Army and the other one was an old hippie,” I heard one say. “It must be tough not having enough money to have your own room,” said the other. Then the first one said, “Seems the hippie invited a stranded friend to spend the night and let him sleep in his bed!”
“No way!” said the other.
“Yeah,” said the first one. “It gets better. The Army guy got up real early and began doing the kinda push-ups where you clap your hands, which awakened the old hippie, who was none to pleased to be rudely awakened!”
“I’ll bet,” said the other. “Then what happened?”
The old hippie guy ordered the Army soldier out of the room!”
After eating I paid the tab before walking by and stopping at their table. “Hello gentlemen, in which section are you playing?” I asked. One was in a lower section, the other in an even lower section.
“I could not help but overhear your conversation. I’m the old hippie.” As the saying goes, you shoulda seen the looks on their mugs! “I was the Atlanta, Georgia, Chess Champion from 1974-1976 and topped out as an expert. The fellow I invited to share my bed is a fellow Road Warrior, Brian McCarthy, who topped out as a Senior Master, rated over 2400. He works for Merrill Lynch and was stranded, so I took him in because he is a friend. I split the room with G.I. Joe because I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Splitting the room means having more cash to get to the round on time at another tournament. Have a good day.” They watched incredulously as I walked away.
Brian developed brain cancer over a decade ago and received treatment via the Gamma Knife. It seemed to work, fortunately. Then the cancer returned, this time it was his spine.
Brian intended on defeating cancer just as he had defeated Chess opponents. His father was a high school basketball coach and one of Brian’s favorite expressions was, “Don’t leave the gym on a missed hoop.”
Brian met the Emory doctors in downtown Atlanta while making many trips from Butler, Georgia, where he was a science teacher and basketball coach.
When Brian told the “rad-heads,” those who were receiving treatment, some for many years, about the experimental treatment he was about to undergo, they became quiet, looking in amazement and wide wonder that any human being could receive that much radiation…and live. Brian immediately became the “King of the rad-heads.”
There was an article in the New York Times Science section concerning the end of life and when it was best to give in and simply enjoy the remaining time one had left. Brian would sleep on the couch and there was a table nearby, which was where I left the article for Brian to read. When we were alone, before he started to dress to leave, he informed me he had read the article, saying, “I understand why you left the article, Mike.”
“Good, Brian; that’s a relief.” He sorta smiled before saying, “I know you meant well, Bacon, but I’ve gotta fight this shit with all I’ve got. I’m gonna beat it just like before.”
“Good luck with that, MacAroon!,” I said. He laughed like the old Brian…
The last tournament in which Brian participated was the 2019 Castle Chess Grand Prix at Emory University, a fine tournament hosted by many good people. Brain lost three games, but did manage to draw with Christopher Shen, rated 2373, in the third round, played Saturday night. How Brian had the strength to draw a game against such a strong opponent boggles the mind. I accompanied him on the ride back to the apartment and frankly, he was wasted. Yet, like all losing players, Brian had an excuse. “If only I’d had more time…” he lamented.
Born in Chicago, Illinois on June 22, 1961, Departed on March 10, 2021 and resident of Butler, GA.
Funeral and Burial Services: Friday, March 19th 2021 10:00 am Visitation followed by 11:00 Funeral Mass at Holy Rosary Catholic Church. Internment to follow at Calvary Cemetery.
Dr. Brian Anthony McCarthy, PhD, a devout Catholic and devoted Husband, Father, Son, Brother, Cousin, Uncle, Teacher and accomplished Chess Master has played his last game. He fought the good fight against multiple challenging opponents, but in the endgame was checkmated by an aggressive debilitating illness on March 10th.
He was born the second of four boys born to Larry and Irene McCarthy. Life during his first few years was on the south side of Chicago Illinois where he enjoyed life as part of a large extended family in the local area. In 1967 the family relocated to Nashville Tennessee where Brian and his brothers were educated thru Holy Rosary Academy and Father Ryan High School. While at Fr. Ryan, he will be remembered for challenging the school’s sense of humor as co-editor of an independent newspaper parody. He started his college career at Middle Tennessee State University and later relocated to New York to pursue his true passion, Chess.
Those that knew him, understood that from very early in his life, Brian was passionate and relentless in his efforts to excel at chess. He would often go to extreme measures to prepare, play and compete, including: playing blindfolded, playing over the phone for hours on end (remember dial-up web access!), driving hundreds and thousands of miles, foregoing sleep and often times using his vehicle as a hotel. His efforts were rewarded as he achieved Senior Chess Master, the highest national title (2400 rating) in 1992 after 10 years as a Master. He achieved victories over numerous higher-rated Grand Masters and later in his chess career became a prolific online teacher. He taught players of all ages and took pride in their accomplishments, especially the five national titles that have been earned along with the three national titles earned by the Junior High School team he coached.
While still in the New York area, and faced with the practical limits of focusing on chess, Brian turned his attention back to academics. Typical of Brian, he went all-in graduating from New Jersey City University with his Bachelor of Science (Biology) and Master of Science (Biology) degrees. He completed his education at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey where he earned his Doctorate in Molecular Pathology and Immunology and authored his Dissertation “The Effects of Interleukin 10 in the NZB Mouse Model”. Brian spent his post-doctorate years in cancer research at his Alma Mater, Ohio State and Augusta Universities. Through these efforts, he contributed to publishing numerous papers and was part of the team that first discovered the oncogene BCL-2 on the surface of leukemia cells. It was after his research at Augusta University that he transitioned his professional career to teaching and became a Chemistry and Biology teacher at Taylor County High School.
Along the road of his life’s adventures and pursuits, Brian met and in 2009 married Pawanrat (Kai) and in 2010 added their son Patrick to the family. Brian was a good husband and father for his son. He encouraged his son to play chess and they often traveled to the tournaments in Atlanta and Nashville. Even as his illness brought on disabilities, he continued his work to teach and inspire his students until the point he was admitted to the hospital. As a teacher he was known to challenge his students and support them in their pursuits. His success can be noted in their standardized test scores which were at tops in the state. Brian also followed his father’s foot steps and coached the Taylor County Middle School basketball team which won the league championship one of the four years he coached.
Brian will be remembered for living his life on his own terms. Regardless of age, social or family status, anyone proposing “alternative terms” were rarely if ever successful! He loved his family and will also be remembered for his personal sacrifices made to support his family wherever they were whenever needed. His multi-state road trips for family events where he could only spend a few hours before heading back are legendary.
A few short words only touch the surface of Brian’s story. The legacy he leaves to his family, students, players and opponents will be the memories of his love, courage and determination he showed in victories, defeats and when faced with the most challenging of circumstances. He will be missed, but undoubtedly will travel the Heavens to watch over us.
Brian was preceded in death by his father, Lawrence Elmer McCarthy. He is survived by his Wife Kai and son Patrick; his mother Rose Irene; Brothers Larry (Kim), Barry (Kathy), Paul; nieces and nephews Michael (Caroline) of Jacksonville FL, Michele (Brendan) of Girard, Ohio, Meghan (Sean) of Cedartown, GA, Kristin of Louisville, KY, Lauren of Nashville, TN, Bradley of Nashville TN and a growing number in the next generation!