Vampires, Movie Stars, and No Rules to the WRITING on the WALL

In what now seems another lifetime my younger sister, a grammar school teacher, insisted I read a book:

A “special preview edition” of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (1976). (faboorecords/eBay)

I have long forgotten my response but it must have been along the lines of, “Are you kidding me, Lynnette?” I do, though, recall her response, which was, “Oh Michael, you will LOVE IT!” I had my doubts…Nevertheless, I read the book because my sister had never previously recommended any book. Turned out my little sister was right… I even read a few more of the series until it seemed the author was writing the same story again and again.

The book was made into a movie I did not see because, well, you know, I read the book. When putting this post together I found the following video, of which I was completely unaware, as I was unaware of how well the movie did at the box office. I watched the video several times while telling myself the time spent was for “research” when the truth is that it contains Andie McDowell, whom I adore, after meeting her in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Earth Fare grocery store on the east side of town, while living in the mountains. I was next in line when, all of a sudden, Ms. McDowell comes barging in from the front in a failed attempt to check out before me. “I am in a big hurry,” she said. “Sounds like something a city girl would say,” said I. She shot me a look which reminded me of the time I was walking to Fantasyland Records ( near the corner of Peachtree Street and Rumson road in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia, where I resided, and there was Virginia Gunn, a local television personality, sitting in a sports car smoking a cigarette. “You’re Virginia Gunn,” I said. She shot me a look before saying, “Buzz off, buster!” That was the kinda look given by Andie… I smiled when saying, “Go ahead, ma’am, celebrity has some privilege.” She gave me another look that was the definition of perplexed, and began unloading her cart. “I saw you on the David Letterman show before you married your high school sweetheart and you sure were happy.” Ms. McDowell replied, “Yeah, well, it didn’t work out. It never does…” She left hurriedly as I proceeded to check out. After exiting I walked by her car and she seemed to be having trouble getting it together. By the time I was near she dropped a rather large pizza box and I nabbed it before the thing touched the pavement. She again looked at me strangely before saying, “You’re my hero.” Unfortunately it did not sound like I was “her hero,” if’n you get my drift… Sometime later I was having brunch at the Earth Fare on the west side of town. I was at a large table all by myself reading the Sunday New York Times, oblivious to the fact that the lunch crowd had quickly filled the place. When I looked up there was Andie, with a young girl I took to be her daughter. There they stood, looking at me and the empty surrounding seats with longing in their eyes. “Would you like to sit down?” I asked. “I thought you’d never ask,” Andie said. I began making arrangements to leave as quickly as possible when the daughter said to her mother, “That’s the chess guy. He was in the newspaper,” said the young girl. Andie again gave me a look that’s difficult to describe before saying, “So, you’re famous?” I smiled before saying, “Not like you. I’m a local yokel.” She smiled, and that was the first time I had seen her smile. I told her about beginning as an extra on the movie filmed at Atlanta Stadium, The Slugger’s Wife (, and how I had to join the screen actor’s guild to be shown in the movie (I had to run out to centerfield and man the camera when the ‘slugger’ slugged the record ball the chicks love outta the park), but my “part”, was cut outta the movie, which is now considered one of the worst movies ever produced. I told them about getting to eat with the actors and ball players, like Mark, “The Bird” Fidrych, a “flash in the pan” but what a flash!

Photo of Mark Fidrych

They laughed uproariously after being told that I found myself in line at the buffet, behind one of the stars, Rebecca De Mornay,

Michael O’Keefe & Rebecca De Mornay

and when she looked back at me I said, “You’re Rebecca De Mornay.” She scowled before replying, “And who the hell are you?”

Before leaving Andie asked me which of her movies was my favorite. I looked at her daughter and hesitated…”It’s OK, she knows all my movies.” The reply came immediately, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” She looked at me for a moment as a faint smile began to appear before saying, “Really?” To which I responded, “I liked Four Wedding and a Funeral, too.” Her smile grew larger and I looked at her daughter, who was absolutely loving this. Then Andie said, “Most people choose Groundhog Day.” The response was, “I am not most people.”

“It’s the birthday of American horror novelist Anne Rice (books by this author), born in New Orleans (1941) and best known for creating the novel Interview with the Vampire (1976)

in which a young man interviews a 200-year-old vampire named Louis about his life. The book introduces the character of Lestat the Vampire and was later made into a film. There are 14 books in the Vampire Chronicles saga, most of which have been international best-sellers.

Rice was inspired to write Interview with the Vampire after the death of her six-year old daughter from leukemia. She said:

“I was a sad, broken atheist. I pitched myself into writing and made up a story about vampires. I didn’t know it at the time but it was all about my daughter, the loss of her and the need to go on living when faith is shattered. But the lights do come back on, no matter how dark it seems, and I’m sensitive now, more than ever, to the beauty of the world — and more resigned to living with cosmic uncertainty.”

Rice based the character of the girl vampire, Claudia, on her daughter.

It took Rice five weeks to write 358 pages about the relationship between two vampires for Interview with a Vampire. She researched vampires during the day and wrote at night, once even attending a concert by the heavy metal band Iron Maiden for inspiration.

When asked why she chose to write about vampires, Rice answered:

“Vampires are the best metaphor for the human condition. Here you have a monster with a soul that’s immortal, yet in a biological body. It’s a metaphor for us, as it’s very difficult to realize that we are going to die, and day to day we have to think and move as though we are immortal. A vampire like Lestat in Interview … is perfect for that because he transcends time — yet he can be destroyed, go mad and suffer; it’s intensely about the human dilemma.”

When asked who makes a better literary subject, vampires or zombies, Rice answered:

“The vampire is an articulate character in our literature. In the last 30 years or so, the vampire has been an articulate, charming, beguiling complex person so he’s miles away from a zombie. The vampire is the poet and the writer of the monster world. The zombies are the exact opposite. They’re not sexy, they don’t listen to good music and they don’t wear good clothes.”

On writing, Anne Rice once said, “There are no rules. It’s amazing how willing people are to tell you that you aren’t a real writer unless you conform to their clichés and their rules. My advice? Reject rules and critics out of hand. Define yourself. Do it your way. Make yourself the writer of your dreams.” (

“The Writing On The Wall”

Across a painted desert lies a train of vagabonds
All that’s left of what we were it’s what we have become
Once our empires glorious but now the empire’s gone
The dead gave us the time to live and now our time is done

Now we are victorious, we’ve become our slaves
A land of hope and glory building graveyards for the brave

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?
Can you see them riding?

Holding on to fury is that all we ever know
Ignorance our judge and jury all we’ve got to show
From Hollywood to Babylon ~ holy war to kingdom come
On a trail of dust and ashes ~ when the burning sky is done
A tide of change is coming and that is what you fear
The earthquake is a coming but you don’t want to hear
You’re just too blind to see

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?
Can you see them riding, riding next to you?

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?
Can you see them riding, riding next to you?


While putting together the post of February 14, 2018, THE SURROUNDING GAME

(, I was thrilled to see the movie was available on YouTube. After finishing the post I had something to eat and then rested. After a cuppa joe I settled in to watch the movie…Unfortunately it was no longer available due to a copyright infringement.

It has been many years since watching any movie in a theater. Since it would have cost five dollars to watch the movie online I decided to wait until it could be watched free of charge. The movie debuted on Netflix August 30 and I watched it the next day. The focus of the movie was on the young players. This caused me to reflect upon what I consider the best post ever made on this blog, or the earlier BaconLOG, for that matter ( It matters not what game is being played, or even if a game is being played. It is the same feeling one has when attending a convention of model train enthusiasts, or sports memorabilia fanatics.

When the movie ended I headed to the Internet Movie Data Base ( to find it rated 8.1. A few minutes ago I returned to find it now rated 6.8. I liked the movie but am no impartial observer as I was there during the US Go Congress when it was filmed. I was living in Hendersonville, North Carolina at the time and traveled to Black Mountain four times during that week. I did not participate in the tournament because there was a “Meal Plan,” priced at $195, required for all attendees. I kid you not…The organizers did not expect participation by a local and they would not relent.

From the movie one learns there were only two hundred players who were members of the US Go Association a couple of decades ago. The exponential increase in the number of Go players has been phenomenal, and this was before the movie!

The 2006 Go Congress did attract 334 players. It was held at the Blue Ridge Assembly (, a magnificent venue. I was reminded of the first Land of the Sky Chess tournament held at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina ( The majority of my time was spent in the room where books and equipment was sold. Most of the games I played were in that room and were played with those doing the selling. I did, though, play a few games with lower ranking players who were participating in the tournament. Since I was unable to win a game maybe the organizers, without knowing, did me a favor.

I purchased many books about the game of Go, including one, Reflections on the Game of Go : The Empty Board 1994-2004,
by William S. Cobb, that is priced at $125 at Amazon. It appears the price of Go books has increased dramatically since many, if not most, books come in digit form these days.

I had a wonderful time during that week and met many people who were extremely nice to me, even if I was considered to be some kind of curiosity since I was considered a Chess and Backgammon board game player. When it came time to eat I went to a Mexican restaurant in the city of Black Mountain where someone who lives in the area, and whom, per his request, I can never mention again, (this came after my post of July 18, 2018, had previously taken me for lunch.

The Clanking Digital Monster

Some time ago I received an email from an older, obviously disgruntled, Chess player who asked why I did not write about what the influx of so many children has done to tournament Chess. “They are noisy and disruptive,” he wrote, “and Chess is no longer taken seriously because of it.” He enclosed a picture, which prompted his words, adding, “How would you like to sit across the board from THIS for HOURS!”

I have given his email serious thought for quite sometime. I recalled seeing the picture somewhere, but for the life of me cannot recall where…

I thought about something one legendary Georgia Chess player said years ago. He was gearing up for some scholastic event I thought was the Georgia High School championships, knowing he was into the HS thing ‘back in the day’. “What’cha talking about Mike,” he said, “by the time they get to High School they’ve stopped playing Chess. Junior High is where it’s happening!” This caused me to reflect upon the time Neal Harris asked me to coach a group of middle school children in 2006. Neal had taught them the basics and they seemed to be quite serious. Chess was only one of the activities in which they participated, but they took Chess seriously. They did not wear funny hats, but like all children they liked to have some fun. Several days later I sent the man a nice email telling him about growing up at a Boys Club, and later earning a collage scholarship to work at that same Boys Club. I mentioned that one of the attractions of the Boys Club was that it was a place to go have some FUN, and that I never forgot that fact while working around the younger boys. I enclosed this picture, writing, “I hope I never grow too old to have a little fun.”

Jacob Crofts (left) and Lane Erickson (right) dressed in their chess best for Halloween and round two of the TNM, pose for the camera, while Frank Bannan takes a break from his blitz game to check them out. This photo was taken in the Chess Room Annex, where a giant photograph of Mikhail Tal (partly seen in the photograph) is hung. (Photo: Laura Sheppard)

I’ve yet to hear from him again…

After the previous LOTS I received an email from Gene Nix, who had read the post. It began, “Thanks for the kind comments on my contest with Randall.” It got better from there…”This was only my second LOTS, and obviously I’ve been missing out. Many children wearing animal hats (a few adults too), lucky plushy toys at the chess boards, and a festival atmosphere. As a school teacher I often scowl at kids always on their electronic distraction devices, so it’s good to see young people involved in an engrossing mental and tactile game. Of course one must accept gracefully being outplayed by said youngsters.”

“…a festival atmosphere.” I like that phrase immensely! Most people, even an old curmudgeon, will gravitate towards “a festival atmosphere.” If Wilder Wadford is fostering a “festive atmosphere at the Land of the Sky the number of players do not matter, for the Wild Man has done his job! It made me lament the fact that I could not make it again this year, and I vowed that if still alive next year I will make it to the Land of the Sky, as we say in the South, “Creek willing and the Lord don’t rise.” Who knows, maybe I will find the right hat to wear next year…and maybe you reading this will find the right hat to wear next year and we will have started a MOVEMENT! I know Wilder will read this, so I propose that next year the name be changed to the Land of the Sky Chess Festival!

I have also given much thought to “community involvement.” The “community” is not limited to the businesses in and around Asheville, though it would be nice if some younger Ashevilleians were to spend the next year talking with business types about some kind of sponsorship for the LOTS Chess Festival. “Community” also means US, as in ME and YOU. I will, therefore, put my money where my mouth is and make a pledge to the 2019 LOTS Chess Festival. I will donate a book, a brand spanking new book, to be given away by drawing before each and every round next year. All one has to do to be entered in the drawing is to be paired for the upcoming round. Withdraw and you are not entered!

Gene also wrote, “Life Master Klaus Pohl, the Old Gray Wolf, fared poorly in the top section, but took second place behind only Alexander Ivanov in Saturday morning’s blitz tourney.”

I would like to humbly suggest, Wilder, that you limit the LOTS Chess Festival to only FOUR rounds, in order to have a speed tournament Friday evening before the event so all can participate. Four rounds will make it much more difficult for top players to make a quick buddy-buddy, draw, as every half point will COUNT!

If you are reading this YOU are a member of the “community,” and maybe you have an idea you would like to share. If so, leave a comment. Maybe YOU will pledge to get just one more player to come next year. If so, you have done your part. If EVERYONE did this then Wonderful Wilder Wadford could actually RAISE the prize fund! You can start by sending an email with a link to this post to just one player you know, asking them to pass it forward.
What’cha waiting for?

Now, some CHESS! Gene was nice enough to send me a couple of games he annotated, with the help of what he calls the “clanking digital monster.” Check it out: “The clanking digital monster says I missed a win late in the endgame when we both had under a minute remaining, but the details included allowing an unthinkable, but apparently not uncomputable, pawn-romp that involved the other fellow promoting first. Unthinkable.”

The complete Nix vs Ferguson game can be found in the previous post.

We will begin with the position after 52 Be4:

Black plays 52…Ne6?

Gene then played 53 Bf5? missing the move of the “clanking digital monster” (He does not attach a name to the CDM) 53 Kc3!

There follows:


54 b4+


55 c5+


56 Kc4


57 Bd3


58 b5


59 b6


60 Be4


61 Bg2 (Gene writes: “One can always spot the computer analysis. What live human could allow this pawn-scamper with under a minute on the clocks?”)


62 Kd5


63 Kxc6


64 b7


65 Bxf1


66 b8=Q


67 Kc7


68 Kb7


69 Ka8


70 Qb7+


71 c6 +-

Hard to believe Gene missed this line…

Land of the Sky XXXI

The turnout at the 2018 Land of the Sky Chess tournament in the beautiful city of Asheville, in the Great State of North Carolina,

Sunset adds a warm glow to the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina

hosted by Wilder Wadford for over a quarter of a century, was down considerably from the previous year, although it was comparable to the number of players in 2016. This century the number of players has consistently been between 160 and 260, so the official total of 173 is on the low end of the spectrum. Back in the day, meaning last century, LOTS drew as many as 300 participants. It is
difficult to get a handle on the turnout trend line because of the occasional inclement weather in the mountains (one year we were forced to stay Sunday night because the down hill driveway was covered with ice, making it impossible to traverse), but I do see that the 3-year running average shows it down considerably. For example, the three years after We The People were Bushwhacked, 2009-2011, show an average of 185; while the past three years show an average of 181. In comparison, 2012-2014 shows an average of 231. Inquires to my mountain friends, and others, as to possible reasons for the decline run the gamut. The prize fund has stayed the same for about a quarter of a century. There is no corporate sponsorship like in Europe, or even here in the states. I played in the Govornor’s Cup in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2002 and the community had gotten behind the tournament in a big way. Could it be that communities have turned off Chess? Another possible reason expressed is that the Land of the Sky tournament shows a large disparity between the young and the old, with not so many players between those ages. Another wrote, “Why should I spend all that money to go play chess when I can make hundreds of dollars staying at home teaching?” Although he has a point, the fact is that if everyone did the same there would be no more Chess tournaments, and, hence, no more students.
Another stated bluntly, “I think the major reason is Chess in the US is declining in general.” One player who did not attend offered this frightening reason, “Bacon, people are AFRAID OF NUCLEAR WAR, and are holding their cards close to the chest, afraid to go anywhere or spend any money.” One wrote, “You’re actually writing about the LOTS? Maybe there should have been more publicity before the tournament. You’re closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.” Lastly, “Chess is doomed!”

On to the games! The first game was played in the Under 2200 section. Gene Nix, the main man in Greenville, South Carolina, President, Greenville Chess Club, and Treasurer of the SC Chess Association, faced off with Randal Ferguson, who has fallen one point below NM. Randal has been out of action for almost a year and the rust showed. Some years ago he was a solid NM, and I say that from personal experience as I lost to him at least once and always thought of him as a strong player. The game was played Saturday morning at the “hurry up and get it over” speed.

Gene Nix (1907) vs Randal Ferguson 2199

Round one

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. g4 b5 11. a3 Bb7 12. Bg2 Rc8 13. Rd2 Nb6 14. Re1 Nc4 15. Rd3 O-O 16. Bh4 Rfd8 ( Nxe4!) 17. Bg3 e5 (The normal break would appear to be 17…d5) 18. Nf5 exf4 19. Bxf4 Ne5 20. Bxe5 dxe5 21. Nxe7 Qxe7 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 23. g5 Nd7 24. h4 Nb6 25. Rd1 Rc8 26. Bh3 Rd8 27. Qf2 Rxd1 28. Nxd1 Qd6 29. Nc3 g6 30. h5 (Maybe simply Bg2) gxh5 31. Bf5 Kg7 32. Qh2 Nc4 33. Qxh5 h6 34. Nd5 Bxd5 35. exd5 hxg5 36. Qxg5 Kf8 37. Be4 Qb6 38. Bd3 Qe3 39. Qxe3 Nxe3 40. d6 Ke8 41. a4 Kd7 42. axb5 axb5 43. Bxb5 Kxd6 44. Kd2 Nd5 45. c4 Nc7 46. Ba4 Kc5 47. Kc3 Na6 48. Bb5 Nb4 49. Bd7 f6 50. Bf5 Nc6 51. Kd3 Nd4 52. Be4 Ne6 53. Bf5 Nd4 54. Be4 Kb4 55. Bg6 Kb3 56. Bf7 Kxb2 57. c5 Kc1 58. Bd5 Kd1 59. c6 Nxc6 60. Bxc6 1/2-1/2

The next game features the Yerminator, GM Alex Yermolinsky,

known for his Yermo’s Travelogue pieces on Chessbase (, versus the Ol’ Swindler, NM Neal Harris.

I write this with a smile on my face, which is what Neal had on his face when informed that he had been given the moniker “Ol’ Swindler” by a disgruntled legendary Georgia Chess player who had lost to Neal in the same line, and in the same way, as he had previously, going down in flames quickly both times. The legendary one exclaimed, “That Neal ain’t nothing but an Ol’ Swindler!!!” Let that be a lesson to you; go over your losses so you do not lose that particular way again.

Alex Yerminator (2587) vs Ol’ Swindler (2209)

Round two

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 Nc6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. a3 Bxc3 8. bxc3 O-O 9. a4 (This is a Theoretical Novelity) e5 (If a student had played this game Neal would, most probably, explained that white intends on playing Ba3 next, attacking the Rook on f8, so it would be advisible to move the Rook to e8 now in order to take the sting outta the Bishop move. I am far stronger when reviewing a game than when sitting at the board with the clock ticking. Hence, Armchair Warrior! Why would Neal play e5? My guess is that, being an aggressive type Ol’ Swindler, he wanted to come at the GM!) 10. Ba3 Re8 11. Ng5 Be6 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. O-O e4 14. f3 Nd5 15. Qd2 Nb6 16. Ba2 exf3 17. Rxf3 Ne5 18. Rh3 Nec4 19. Bxc4 Nxc4 20. Qd3 Nxa3 21. Qxh7 Kf7 22. Rf1 Ke7 23. Qxg7 Kd6 24. Qe5 Kd7 25. Rh7 Kc8 26. Rff7 Rh8 1-0

The game of the tournament occurred in the third round. Pairings are everything in a short Swiss tournament and the Yerminator drew the short straw, being given the black pieces against the much younger, and stronger, GM Elshan Moradiabadi.

GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613) vs Alex Yermolinsky (2587)

Round 3

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Nbd2 d6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e5 7. d5 Bxd2 8. Nxd2 Ne7 9. e4 O-O 10. O-O Ng6 11. Qc2 Ne8 12. c5 dxc5 13. Qxc5 Nd6 14. b3 b6 15. Qc2 f5 16. Bb2 f4 17. Nf3 Qe7 18. Rac1 Rf7 19. h4 Bg4 20. Ng5 f3 21. Nxf7 fxg2 22. Kxg2 Nxf7 23. Qxc7 Nxh4 24. gxh4 Qxh4 25. Qc3 Be2 26. Rfe1 Qxe4 27. f3 Qg6 28. Kf2 Bb5 29. Rg1 Qf5 30. Qe3 Rd8 31. Qe4 Qf6 32. Rc7 Ng5 33. Qg4 h6 34. Bc1 e4 35. Bxg5 hxg5 36. Qe6 Qxe6 37. dxe6 Rd2 38. Kg3 exf3 39. Kxf3 Rd3 40. Ke4 1-0

The next morning in the fourth round this gem was produced:

GM Alexander Ivanov (2568) vs GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613)

Round four

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Nxe5 7. Rxe5 Be7 8. Bf1 O-O 1/2-1/2

With only 18 players in the open section this draw made some kind of sense to the GMs. Ivanov is a Senior while Moradiabadi is at the peak of his career. Why bother playing a real game when they can shake hands and rest before the last round? Why indeed…

Alex Yermolinsky (2587) vs GM Alexander Ivanov (2568)

Round five

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. e3 a6 4. b3 Bb7 1/2-1/2

There oughta be a rule against crap like this. Oh wait, there is! It’s just that the organizer/TD with cojones enough to forfeit those who cheat Cassia has yet to be born! Alexander Ivanov

made ONLY TWELVE FORKIN’ MOVES on Sunday to steal his prize money. Pitiful…And Donnie gray had the audacity to ask, What’s the matter with draws? at at Chessbase. HERE IS YOUR ANSWER, DONNIE!!! (

This left it up to Moradiabadi to play a real game of Chess in the last round while having the advantage of the white pieces facing a young man rated about 300 points, at least one class, maybe two, below him. Just another day at the office for the Grandmaster…

GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613) vs Sanjay Ghatti (2341)

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Qxc4 Bd5 11. Qd3 Be4 12. Qe3 c6 13. Nc3 Bc2 14. Re1 Bg6 15. Ne5 Nd5 16. Qd2 Nd7 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. e4 Nxc3 19. bxc3 Qa5 20. Qb2 Rab8 21. Bd2 e5 22. f4 exd4 23. cxd4 Qb6 24. Qxb6 Nxb6 25. Rec1 Bf6 26. e5 Be7 27. a5 Nc8 28. Be3 Bd8 29. d5 cxd5 30. Bxd5 Re8 31. Bxb7 Rxb7 32. Rxc8 Rc7 33. Ra8 f6 34. Rd1 1-0

This left Moradiabadi with 4 1/2 points, a full point ahead of the two older GMs.Ivanov and Yermo left the beautiful western North Carolina mountains with $350 each. Elsan nabbed $880. Sanjay Ghatti and Mark Biernacki (2187), who beat NM Peter Bereolos (2244) in the last round, tied for ‘best of the rest’with 3 points, along with Neo Zhu (2142), who forced Benjamin Yan (1986) to take the dreaded blue pill in the final round. Because of the way things are done in Chess Biernacki and Zhu each won $220, while the higher rated Sanjay Ghatti left with only $180. To make things even worse for Sanjay his performance rating was 2376, better than both Biernacki (2323) and Zhu (2117). In addition, the latter two players had white in three games, while Mr. Ghatti had the black pieces three times; white only two. Who said Chess tournaments were fair? I would attempt to explain this to my international readers, but why bother? The inequities have been there for decades, or longer, and the will to improve things in the Chess world is simply not there…

In the hard fought Asheville section, for players under 2200, David High (2055) drew with Michael Kliber (1915) in the final round to tie for first, along with Alexander Rutten (1998), who became an Expert. Each scored 4 points. All scored $373. Four players each scored 3 1/2 points in the section. Three of the four garnered $147, while one fortunate son left with $280.

Michael Kliber (1915) vs David High (2055)

Last round

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. c3 d6 6. e4 Qe8 7. Bd3 e5 8. O-O h6 9. Bh4 Nh5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Ne1 Nf4 12. Nc4 Nd7 13. Ne3 Nc5 14. f3 Be6 15. Qc2 g5 16. Bf2 Qc6 17. Bc4 Bxc4 18. Nxc4 Ncd3 19. Nxd3 Qxc4 20. Nxf4 exf4 21. Rfd1 Rfd8 22. h4 Rxd1 23. Qxd1 Qb5 24. Qb3 a6 25. Rd1 Be5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. Qxb5 axb5 28. Rd5 f6 29. Rxb5 b6 30. a3 Rd8 31. Be1 Rd1 32. Kf2 Kf7 33. Ke2 Rb1 34. Bd2 Ke6 35. Be1 1/2-1/2

Alexander Rutten (1973) vs Peter Michelman (2065)

Round 4

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. O-O O-O 7. d3 d6 8. h3 Bd7 9. Be3 Ne8 10. d4 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Ne5 12. Nce2 Nc4 13. Bc1 Qb6 14. b3 Ne5 15. Be3 Qc7 16. c4 a6 17. Rc1 Qa5 18. Rc2 Nc6 19. Nxc6 Bxc6 20. Nd4 Bd7 21. Kh2 Rc8 22. f4 Nc7 23. Ne2 Ne6 24. e5 Bc6 25. exd6 exd6 26. f5 Bxg2 27. Kxg2 gxf5 28. Nf4 Nxf4 29. Bxf4 d5 (Rfd8!?) 30. Bd6 Rfd8 31. c5 Qb5 32. Rxf5 d4 33. Rcf2 Qc6 34. Kh2 b6 (? f6 !?) 35. Rxf7 bxc5 1-0

In the Buncombe section Benjamin Webb (1672) drew with Brian Lee Moore (1677) in the last round to finish clear first with 4 1/2 points. Mr. Webb won the second highest amount of money of all the winners of all the sections, taking home $560.

Benjamin Webb (1672) vs Brian Lee Moore (1677)

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. exd6 exd6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bg4 8. Be3 g6 9. Qe2 Qe7 10. O-O-O Bg7 11. c5 dxc5 12. dxc5 Bxc3 13. cxb6 Bg7 14. bxc7 Qxc7 15. Bb6 Qe7 16. Qxe7 Nxe7 17. Bb5 Nc6 18. Rhe1 Be6 19. Bc5 Rd8 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nd4 Bxd4 22. Bxd4 O-O 23. Bxa7 Bxa2 24. Bc5 Rxd1 25. Rxd1 Re8 26. Bd4 Bb3 27. Rd3 Re1 28. Kd2 Rd1 29. Kc3 Rxd3 30. Kxd3 Kf8 31. Bf6 Ke8 32. Ke3 Kd7 33. Kf4 Ke6 34. Bc3 h5 35. Kg5 1/2-1/2

Brian joined Vladimir Besirovic, Asha Kumar, Eli Davis Moore, Lukas Komel, and last, but not least, my friend, fellow Senior, Bruce Goodwin, the Chess Cat, the man behind the Smoky Mountain Chess Club, with 4 points, to tie for second place in the section with the most players. Mr. Kormel won $280; Mr. Eli Davis Moore and Mr. Kumar each left with $220; while Brian Lee Moore and Vladimir Besirovic were lucky to leave with $93.

GM Timur Gareyev Lost In Space

The headline reads:

Delhi GM Open 2018: Walkover Shocker for the fourth-seed
Jan 11, 2018

“The games had begun, the top seeds were comfortably seated on their boards. For the professional star players, it was yet another day at work. 14-year-old Koustav Chatterjee, rated 2288, was the only player waiting anxiously for his opponent. American Timur Gareyev GM,

rated 2605, had ‘left’ the official car and had not reached the venue. He had decided that he will come to the venue on his own. The clock was ticking and the walkover time-limit of 30 minutes was fast approaching.
Timur Gareyev did reach the venue, but not on time. He was three minutes late. The chief arbiter Vasanth BH decided to award the point to the young Koustov Chatterjee.”

The article reminded me of the time a few Chess players were talking about favorite sci-fi TV shows. After naming the original Star Trek

as my favorite, one self-proclaimed ‘legendary’ Georgia player named his.

Upon hearing the name of the show Dubious Dave erupted with, “That’s the difference between you two. Bacon boldly goes where no man has gone before while you (the legendary one) are Lost In Space!” This brought howls of laughter. The legendary one pouted all evening…

I met GM Timur Gareyev

at the 2012 Land of the Sky Chess tournament in the beautiful city of Asheville, in the Great State of North Carolina. It was hours before the first round and I had been talking with the organizer, Wilder Wadford, when Timur came up to speak with Wilder. He noticed the book held in my hand asking if he could look at it.

I gave him the book, he talked with Wilder, then turned abruptly and walked away. I followed, yelled, “Hey you,” or some such, and he turned to gaze at me. After catching up with him I said, “You have my book, sir.” Timur looked flummoxed before saying, “I would like to read it.”
“Who are you?” I inquired. It was then I learned his name. As he was returning the book I said, “It is customary to ask before taking off with someone’s book.” He said, “Yes, of course you are right,” before turning to walk away. Since I had finished reading the book I decided to let him read it, for which he was grateful. Later I noticed Timur sitting in the spectator section reading the book while playing on board one. Someone mentioned later that he had gotten into what looked like trouble against NM Richard Francisco, from my home state of Georgia, while reading the book, before extricating himself from difficulties. Timur went on to tie for first with GM Sergey Kudrin. I enjoyed the conversation we had after the tournament ended, as I have always derived enjoyment from getting into the mind of a top level Chess player. Timur walks to the beat of a different drummer, and I mean that in the best way possible. I liked him immensely. Nothing against “normal” people (whatever “normal” is), but they are not as interesting as we who are, shall we say, “slightly skewed.”

For those of you who do not know, Timur is known as the Blindfold King, and has the website to prove it. ( One finds this applicable quote at the site: “I close my eyes so I can see.” – Paul Gauguin

Timur and I have something else in common; our brains have been studied. His brain was “loaned” to science before setting the blindfold Chess record.

Inside the brain of the man who would be ‘Blindfold King’ of chess

Next month, Timur Gareyev will play nearly 50 opponents at once – blindfolded. Can neuroscientists reveal how he performs such incredible mental feats?

I urge you to read the article:

Standard memory tests showed nothing exceptional. However, brain scans suggest that Gareyev’s visual network is more highly connected to other brain parts than usual Photograph: Jesse Rissman

The scans also found much greater than average communication between parts of Gareyev’s brain that make up what is called the frontoparietal control network – used in almost every complex task Photograph: Jesse Rissman

I have participated in several brain studies at places such as the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emory University, and the Veterans Administration. All of these studies involved the memory. My brain:

These studies give one a new way of looking at yourself. Examples:

The Irrepressible Jude Acers

I first met Jude Acers when he came to Atlanta in the 1970’s to give a simultaneous exhibition at Lenox Square Mall. It opened in 1959 and is the oldest Mall in the South. Back then it was THE place to go, and Jude’s simul was covered by the press. This was during a time when Jude was traveling all over the country performing simultaneous exhibitions. Jude has written about those days and you can find some of the articles he wrote for the Berkeley Barb from 1972-1974 on the wonderful ChessDryad website containing California Chess History: ( One of his articles is entitled, “Atlanta at Dawn” The Road, Part 1 Berkeley Barb, Vol. 16, No. 23, Dec. 8-14, 1972. Another is, “Adventures in a Greyhound Terminal” The Road, Part XI Berkeley Barb, Aug. 2-8, 1974. I can identify with both of these articles. If Jude had not loved chess so much it is possible he could have been a great writer.
I took one of the boards that evening and admit to being one of Jude’s victims. There can be no doubt Jude helped popularize chess in those days. Jude was strong enough to draw a four game match with Mr. Six-Time, GM Walter Browne, if memory serves.
When Jude had enough of the road he settled in New Orleans, where he has been for decades. Please go to his website,, where you will find a short film that captures the quintessential Jude. I promise it will be the best nine minutes of your day. It was one of the best parts of my yesterday. It shows Jude being, well, Jude!
Watching the film brought back memories of the time years ago when I had a job driving vehicles, mostly Bell South, to nine different southeastern states. If there were two or more vehicles they would go on a hauler, but if there was only one, someone would have to drive it, and that someone would be me. Some of the drivers were retired airline personnel and they managed to get home by flying free. I, on the other hand, had to pay to ride a Greyhound bus in order to return home. One of the possible trips was to Lake Charles, Louisiana. None of the other drivers wanted that trip, for various reasons, so I drove there often. I would then make my way back to New Orleans via bus, where I would have a twelve hour layover from seven pm until the Amtrak train left the next morning at 7 am. At that time I was still young enough to handle a night on Bourbon Street. Each and every night I spent there could be a chapter in the book of the Armchair Warrior.
I looked forward to the first trip in hopes of being able to get a chance to play Jude, because I wanted revenge. Every time I left the bus terminal heading for the French Quarter I would walk to the Gazebo, where Jude would be holding court. I do not recall how many times I made the trip, but I know he was always playing someone, and often more than one game was in progress. There always seemed to be ‘victims’ lined up, awaiting their chance for a crack at Jude. I would get something to drink, sit back and listen, while watching the show, for if he is nothing else, Jude is a showman. The show was invariably enjoyable.
The last time I made the trip, as luck would have it, Jude was alone at his table, going over a chess game from some magazine. He quickly put it away when he noticed me. I paid my five bucks and Jude allowed me to move first. I opened with the move known as “best by test,” 1 e4, and it was game on! Jude answered with 1…c6, the Caro-Kann, the opening I started playing after giving up my beloved Najdorf. I played the so-called “Fantasy” variation. My memory will only allow me to tell you I recall Jude bringing his Queen to h4 early in the game, and I somehow won a pawn. We reached an endgame and the place was closing, so I did the gentlemanly thing and offered Jude a draw. “Move,” was his reply. This infuriated me! How dare he turn refuse my offer? Did he think he could outplay me from a pawn down position in an endgame? I fortified myself for the battle to come, knowing that at the conclusion there would be blood spilled over the board, hopefully his! I managed to not blow it and cruised to a victory. “You sure took a lot of time,” was his comment after shaking hands. “What did you expect after turning down my draw offer? What, did you think you could beat me from that pawn down endgame position?” I made my way to the French Quarter ready to celebrate my victory with an adult beverage, while listening to some authentic jazz. I have drawn with dozens of chess masters, but beaten only a couple of handfuls, and that includes only one player who was not technically a NM, my friend the Discman. When I defeated Chris Chambers at the Tennessee Open in 1988 he had just returned from scoring 8 ½ points in the US Open, pushing his rating over the coveted 2200 mark. Anyone who can score 8 ½ out of 12 at the US Open ought to be considered a NM in my book. I have been fortunate enough to beat many players who later became NM’s, but the win over the irrepressible Jude will always have a special place in the book of the Armchair Warrior.
One of my trips driving a Bell South vehicle took me to Asheville, NC, in time for the Land of the Sky chess tournament, considered by many to be the best chess tournament in the South for over two decades. My friend Wilder Wadford is not getting any younger, so I urge you to start making plans to attend his excellent tournament after the first of the year. My friend, The Dude, aka Tim Bond, followed me and, once the mission had been completed, gave me a ride to the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, site of the LOTS, as it is known. On the way I mentioned my win over Jude in the French Quarter. “You beat Jude?” he said. “I played him ten times, drawing the first game, but losing the other nine.” A man does not make a living for decades playing chess by losing many games.
The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I made a trip to play in the Texas State Championship decades ago and Tim wanted to stop in New Orleans for lunch. After eating we walked over, finding Jude alone. Even though he was disappointed to hear we did not have time for a game, we were able to converse with him. I am uncertain when this occurred, but it was around the time when USCF began to rate quick chess. Jude managed to bring this fact into the conversation and it became a soliloquy. Jude was under the impression quick chess was going to revolutionize chess, exuberantly saying things like, “It will put money in every master’s pocket and a chicken in every pot! The future of chess is quick chess and it will bring in thousands, MILLIONS, of new players! It is the dawning of a new age of chess!” Jude was reeling with the feeling and got carried away, I suppose. His soliloquy lasted some time. He had to catch his breath and it was then we were able to take our leave. As we walked toward the car I could not help but notice the Ironman had been unusually quiet. I looked at him, noticing a strange look upon his face. I asked if everything was OK. “No, it’s not OK, Bacon. You do not understand… that man was my childhood hero. I got into chess after playing in one of his simuls, and now I find him a raving lunatic!” Tim had not been around Jude like I had and therefore had little understanding. I thought Tim was being a little harsh and had to stifle a laugh. “Look Tim, that’s just Jude’s shtick. He’s a character, which is what makes him what he is. That’s one of the best things about chess, the different characters one meets.” We walked on quietly until the Ironman said, “I guess you’re right, Bacon.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit and the Bushwhackers did nothing but look on from the window of a plane, my thoughts, like many others, went to Jude, wondering if he had made it. Hearing the first report that Jude was alive caused great relief.
I was elated upon learning Jude was participating in the World Senior Championships in 2008. He has played in each tournament since then and he is always my “horse.” As David Spinks was fond of saying, “It is not fun unless you have someone to pull for.”
I urge you to spend less than ten minutes of your time watching the aforementioned film because Jude is definitely sui generis. Read this article to learn why Jude wears a red beret, and what is buried in GM Arthur Dake’s coffin:
To learn more about one of the true characters of chess, and a real chess hero, go to Jude’s website:
For the chance of a lifetime, please go here: