This morning while drinking my first cuppa Joe I read the following at the home page of the United States Chess Federation:
US Chess Final Statement About Alejandro Ramirez Investigation By US Chess May 24, 2023
US Chess launched an investigation in late 2022 when it received formal complaints from two individuals alleging sexual misconduct by GM Alejandro Ramirez.
The primary focus of this investigation was to determine when US Chess had knowledge of the various allegations and what responsive actions US Chess took. The third party, independent investigation is complete, and, based on the information received, the third party concluded that the US Chess response was timely and appropriate regarding the reports it received about Ramirez’s conduct. Our focus now is implementing specific action steps to build a safe, welcoming environment for the future. The investigation report will not be released due to the confidential nature of the witness statements.
This writer disagrees with the decision made by the USCF because the United States of America is a forgiving country in which it is said, “If you commit the crime you’ve got to do the time.” We Americans are given second chances for a reason. Please do not get me wrong because from what I have read the actions of GM Ramirez were reprehensible. If he had treated one of my sisters in such a fashion there would have been hell to pay. Actions speak louder than words and you can read in a recent post about the time I took action when one of my sisters suitors intentionally ran her car off of the road in, Say It Ain’t So, Alejandro (https://wordpress.com/post/xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/15193).
One of the members of the Atlanta Chess community ‘back in the day’ was an ex-con, Ulysses Martin. He was a very nice guy and we played many Chess games, including one rated game in which Mr. Martin lost on time after making only 24 moves! Ulysses was a quiet gentleman who had committed a crime, murder, for which he served his time, seven years, before being paroled. As far as I know Ulysses was never again in trouble, other than the trouble he got into over the Chessboard.
‘Back in the day’ a tournament director, Ted Abbott, got up in my face, spewing spittle. I slapped him, not hard, but hard enough to get him to stop spewing. Unfortunately for Ted he responded, slapping the you know what outta me, so I decked him with a straight right fist. For that I was banned from playing in any Georgia Chess Association tournament for one year. As an aside, many years later when involved with sports memorabilia, Mr. Abbott purchased a table at an event in which I was involved. The Legendary Georgia Ironman also had a table, right next to mine, at the event. Tim excitedly returned to the table informing me that “Ted Abbott is here, Mike. He has notebook after notebook filled with autograph cards. They all look like the same person signed them.” After walking over Ted was SHOCKED to see me. After a brief discussion I said, “Ted, all these cards look like they were signed by the same person.” Ted immediately began packing his binders and left the hotel. He was never seen again.
CNN has reached out to Ramirez for comment about the accusations through his lawyer Albert S. Watkins, who replied, “I have been directed to respect the confidentiality I was advised would purportedly attach to pending investigative undertakings.”
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the accusations, quoted Watkins as saying, “At some point we are all compelled to take pause and reflect on the reality that unsubstantiated, temporally aged, and concurrent use of social media to incite a ‘Me Too’ call-to-arms runs afoul of every constitutional safeguard we have always held so dear.
Unless there is more, much more, to the story, that the USCF, in its wisdom, is holding back, the decision to permanently ban GM Ramirez should be reconsidered.
Boys Will Be Boys is my attempt at making sense of society’s tendency to blame the victims of sexual assault and rape and make excuses for the perpetrators. It was also my way of dealing with certain events that were occurring in my life at the time. The video itself was intended to express the burden of victim blaming and sexual assault on the victims themselves as the mundane aspects of life go on. A song is just a song but at the very least I hope it will open up difficult yet important conversations between family members, friends, government bodies, organisations and most importantly, boys and men.
Yesterday Chessbase published, An interview with Andrzej Filipowicz,
a Polish chess polymath, by Uvencio Blanco (https://en.chessbase.com/post/andrzej-filipowicz-interview-uvencio-blanco). This is being mentioned because I faced IM Filipowicz in a USCF rated Chess tournament in 1980. The FIDE Congress was held in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, and there were many notable Chess players and notable personages here for that reason. Thad Rogers held a Chess tournament that weekend. In addition, there was a speed tournament organized. At that time “speed” meant five minute Chess, as in each player begins the game with only five minutes on the clock. My opponent in the first round of the knock-out tourney was the notorious Soviet Vice Chairman of the USSR Chess Federation, Victor Davydovich Baturinsky.
I have never been good at playing speed Chess. Give me just a little more time, like fifteen minutes, and the strength of my game increased exponentially, which is why I preferred the extra time. Baturinsky beat me like a drum. As if the ignominy of losing quickly was not enough, Baturinsky rubbed salt into the fresh wound by laughing prior to saying, “Americans cannot play Chess!”
“Oh yeah, fat man, have you ever heard of BOBBY FISCHER?!” I said. Baturinsky became LIVID! FIDE pooh-bahs came running, afraid of an international incident. After turning my back to Baturinsky and walking away, he began shouting something about the loser having to replace the pieces. I stopped, turned around, and said, “You replace them, fat man!” One of those who came running was IM Filipowicz.
In the aforementioned classical (which was forty moves in two hours ‘back in the day’) Chess tournament my first round opponent was IM Filipowicz, who had the white pieces. The game was a long, hard fought battle, agreed drawn on his offer many hours later. Much more time was spent analyzing the game with the gentleman.
The interview is excellent. What follows are excerpts from the interview. The first tells you much about the International Master.
Most experts consider that there are four megatrends: ICTs, biotechnology, nanotechnology and cognitive sciences. In your opinion, and being a person close to academia and technological practice, what links could we establish with some of them?
“I do not think I am an expert in the mentioned matters, so I would better not to comment it.”
Can you imagine Garry Kasparov giving that answer? The dude would pontificate at length for many hours, given the chance, because Garry considers himself an expert in EVERYTHING!
What is your opinion on the impact that Artificial Intelligence has had on chess in recent decades, and what do you see for the future?
“The development of computers has changed the chess world, but I doubt that is good for chess. The tradition of fifteen centuries is being destroyed. People are trying to find solutions using computers and Artificial Intelligence instead of developing their own minds.”
Who is the most intelligent chess character you have dealt with in your prolific life? Any particular anecdotes?
“I have met many interesting people in all these chess years, and it is very difficult to say, but I remember very well many discussions I had with Boris Spassky regarding the history of our two countries and, of course, also many chess problems.
As for the anecdotes, I really like the philosophy of the following anecdote: In a Polish city before the War, a master plays for stakes with a very weak player without the queen, but rarely wins. So seeing the tiredness of the rival, who only looks at his pieces, the master decides to keep the queen on the board. After a few moves, the opponent suddenly says, ‘Master, you didn’t remove the queen’. The master replied, ’I removed it’. ‘That’s where you got it from?’. ‘I promoted the pawn’. ‘But you have eight pawns. So please remove one!’.
Another one has to do with an arbiter’s experience. The arbiter was invited to referee a women’s tournament in the late 1940s. Around that time, they used rules from amateur chess. The level of the games was also not the highest. The arbiter suddenly saw that on one of the boards the king was under check by two knights…. As an experienced arbiter, he immediately left the room and went to the buffet. He calmly drank his coffee and returned to the hall. He saw that the mentioned game had finished and the lady attacking the opposite king with two knights had won the duel. He went to this board, explained that ‘someone’ told him that on this board Black’s king was checked by two knights. He began to ask both players why such a situation arose. The lady playing white explained: ‘Dear Mr. Arbiter, when I checked with one knight, my opponent sarcastically smiled and played the bishop, placing it quite decisively. The retort to such a dictum was to check the king with the second knight, but again there was no reaction, so I decided to capture the pawns on the queenside and … I won’.”
We are in a world where uncertainty, limits to freedom and climate change have taken over. In these conditions, what message would you give to the new generations of chess players?
“Unfortunately, I do not see the proper solution to the mentioned problems. I am convinced that chess players cannot change the basic rules and have to keep the tradition of our favorite game and play over-the-board games to see their opponents instead of the screen of the computer. Tradition is the future of chess!” https://en.chessbase.com/post/andrzej-filipowicz-interview-uvencio-blanco
I urge you to read the entire interview. Kudos to Chessbase for publishing an exceptionally good interview with one of the real gentlemen involved with the Royal Game!
72-year-old Georgia man set to graduate college after 50 years
“When I was young it just wasn’t in the cards. Then I had kids and grandkids.”
By Sawyer Buccy Published: May. 10, 2023 at 5:01 PM EDT
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – If you think it is too late to make your dreams come true, one Georgia man is here to prove you wrong; and he is doing it a few decades later than most.
There are some people who believe new beginnings fade with old age, for Sam Kaplan new beginnings can start at any age, especially in your seventies.
“I am graduating 50 years late but right on time,” said Kaplan.
Sam is a storyteller. He wanted to learn a new way to tell stories.
“I have written a couple of books, not published. I thought I would like to create screenplays based on some of my works,” said Kaplan, “Heard on the radio they were offering this degree in script writing, my car just automatically took the next exit.”
Sam started school at Georgia Gwinnett College.
“I went to my 50th high school reunion when I was a junior here,” said Kaplan.
On Thursday, Sam will put on a cap and gown and graduate 50 years late he says, and right on time.
The Stockfish program used at lichess.com will play 7 Nb3, as have over ten thousand other players according to 365chess.com, which is ten times more than those playing the weaker 7 Nf3. The following game, in which the player of the black pieces played the inferior 7…h3, was located. Obviously GM Zapata has had much practice with the line made famous by former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Here is yet another example of an older player continuing to “go with what’cha know, Joe” in lieu of studying the opening and incorporating changes into one’s repertoire.
d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. Nf3 d6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. Nc3 Nc6 (Stockfish gives this move the dubious treatment with a ?! Books have been written, as have blog posts [https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/04/21/tcec-championship-leningrad-dutch-battles/], concerning the best move in the position. At one time 7…Qe8 was all the rage, with Grandmasters publishing books devoted to the move, which is now considered inferior to 7…c6. This is yet another example of an older player not doing his homework and going with a move with which he is familiar. The result speaks for itself) 8 d5 Na5 (It has been known for some time the move played in the game is inferior to the better Ne5. In numerical terms Stockfish shows that after the ill-fated 8…Na5 was played white was close to having a theoretically won game at +1.3) 9 b3 (SF now shows white having an advantage of +1.5, which is considered to be winning) 9…c5 (This move is not given a “?” or even a “?!” but it does show that white is now up by +1.8, which means a Grandmaster has played the opening so weakly he has a lost position PRIOR TO MAKING HIS TENTH MOVE!)
After reading an article at Chessbase, Chess – a waste of time?, by Frederic Friedel, published 2/13/2023, an order for the book, Chessays/Travels Through The World of Chess,
by Howard Burton,
along with a few others, was ordered from my Chess book go to guy, Greg Yanez, at Chess4Less (https://chess4less.com/). When the book arrived it went to the top of the list as I stopped reading any of the other books being read to concentrate on Chessays.
Yesterday I discovered an article, The Societal Impact of Chess, Part 1: Introduction (https://www.chess.com/blog/hsburton1/the-societal-impact-of-chess-part-1-introduction) and suggest you read it after reading the review because the author, and film maker, talks about “Far Transfer,” which is the title of the sixth chapter. Chapter seven is entitled, “Farther Transfer,” with “Further Transfer” being the eighth, and final, chapter. The decision was made to truncate the review for two reasons. The first is that the review was already too long, and much time had to be spent cutting out some of the review, something I will admit to being loath to do. The other reason is that the final three chapters seemed to be rather esoteric. There is so much thought provoking material in the first five chapters the review will be presented in two parts. It has taken all of my wherewithal to not lead with the second part, which begins with chapter four.
One of the best features of the book is that here we have a ‘newbie’ to the world of Chess who is willing to write openly and honestly about how he perceives the world of Chess. Each and every person who has anything to do with governing the Royal Game should read this book, and maybe, depending on the individual, read it again. Anyone with an interest in Chess will appreciate this book. Although it is good enough to at least earn some nominations for Book of the Year award, many people in the Chess world will not like what the young man has to say. Nevertheless, anyone and everyone in the Chess community should at least be apprised of his thoughts concerning the world of Chess. From my over half a century of involvement with Chess it is apparent Chessays has about as much chance of being voted an award as a snowball has in hell.
The book begins with an introduction which contains this paragraph:
“I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know how to play chess, any more than I can remember a time when I didn’t know how to read, yet for most of my youth I didn’t pay a great deal of attention to either. As a child I was always much more interested in sports: street hockey or touch football or basketball.”
After reading the opening paragraph the book was put down as I sat, looking out the glass door to the outside world filled with greenery, and reflected… “That sounds like me,” I thought. Change the “street hockey” to “boxing” and it could be me. Include Baseball and it would be this writer, who was a twenty year old adult when first playing in a USCF tournament, where all six games were lost, I am sad, but honest enough to report…
In the introduction the writer informs the reader, “It was only in university that I had my first significant exposure to chess as a sport.”
That sentence made me cringe. Chess is most definitely not a “sport”. Chess is a GAME, just like any other board GAME. Baseball, basketball, and football (as in soccer; American “football” should be called “maim ball” for obvious reasons) are SPORTS. Bridge is a game, as are backgammon and poker. Dude comes into the Chess world (for various reasons which will be mentioned momentarily), plays a little, and assumes he has obtained enough knowledge to make proclamations about what is the definition of Chess…
He continues, “So I began to read about these mysterious openings, and much more besides, that my opponents all seemed so intimately familiar with.”
One of my high school English teachers, Mrs. Simpson, once returned something I had written that was covered in red ink, with many instances of my ending a sentence with a preposition. When queried about all the red circles after class ended she said, “It appears to me that you go out of your way to defy the rules of English grammar. You have as much chance of ever becoming a writer as a snowball has in HELL!” Well, as you can imagine, that stung.
The writer continues, “And the more I read, the more astounded I became: there was an enormous, simply overwhelmingly large, literature here – with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of books devoted to one opening variation, or a series of middlegame tactics, or endgame approaches, or what have you. It was astounding.”
Yes Mr. Burton, Chess can be astounding. One of the best things about the book is that Chess is being viewed objectively by someone new to the Royal Game. It is always good to learn how ‘newbies’ think about Chess because “fresh eyes” usually bring something interesting. We learn how he came to write about Chess when reading, “Decades later, I became fascinated by “the history of ideas,” tracing the subtle, shape-shifting development of key societal concepts over different times and places. I read books by intellectual historians methodically charting the notions of “freedom” and “genius” and “civil war” and found myself increasingly intrigued by how different human societies often managed to be both so similar and so different from our own.”
“One day I was idly thumbing through Baldassare Castiglione’s The Courtier, and came across the passage where chess is singled out as representing a dangerous drain on one’s time and energies, thereby making it “a most unusual thing” where “mediocrity is more to be praised than excellence.”
“It’s a very odd experience to suddenly feel yourself in complete lock step with a character from a 1528 book devoted to courtly Renaissance culture; and it made me think. Perhaps chess, I wondered, might make for a suitable topic of the sort of “intellectual history” I was personally suited to explore – not rigorous academic scholarship, of course, but simply getting a taste of our intriguing sociocultural evolution by looking through the lens of one particularly historically-rich activity: chess.”
The reader knows where the writer is coming from. (Sorry, Mrs Simpson)
Next we learn, “By then I had somehow become “a filmmaker,” so why not make a few films about that? Hence Through the Mirror of Chess-a four-part documentary series charting chess’s fascinating tale of cultural influence from its murky origins to the modern day.”
I have not watched any of the four-part film and have no intention of doing so because it costs digits, err, money, and there is so much free Chess material why should I spend my Senior digits to watch more films about Chess? I purchased the book, not with a view toward writing a review, but after reading about it at Chessbase in an excellent article concerning a book published months ago. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/chess-a-waste-of-time).
Mr. Burton continues, “So there was that. But there was also something else. The more I read and researched the past and present worlds of chess, the more something else unexpected happened: I began to get opinions. And for me, at least, the best way to express opinions is through books.”
Or maybe a blog?!
The introduction concludes with these words: “And for those who do find themselves indignant and offended, the one way I respectfully suggest that you shouldn’t react is by launching some sort of reflexive, ad hominem salvo based on the fact that I have a pitifully low Elo rating or am not a FIDE executive, but rather by attacking the substance of my claims. I say this not because I am worried about anyone being angry with me (I am not), but because I’ve noticed that this is the sort of thing that chess players often do: viewing their entire world through the lens of a rigidly hierarchical framework so that the only voices they hear are from official members of the establishment. That is a dangerous practice for any domain, but particularly so when it come to chess, since so many of those voices conflate the interests of chess with their own self-image and are thus deeply deleterious to chess itself. Well, that’s my opinion, anyway.”
The first chapter is entitled: The Uses and Abuses of History. It begins, “Enthusiasts sometimes like to point out that one of the things that makes chess special is its exceptionally broad appeal to a wide range of different interests and inclinations.”
“Having played many other board games, such as Backgammon, Go, and Poker, I find it strange that only Chess aficionados consider Chess “special.” The idea has been promulgated to the point many, if not most, Chessplayers consider it a fait accompli. Consider this paragraph: “But however diverse these activities might be, there is one common characteristic of any self-proclaimed chess aficionado: a deep and abiding respect for “chess history” and an unquenchable pride in the game’s storied past.”
I like history, and enjoy reading about the history of the Royal Game, but I must disagree with what was written above. After having interacted and talked with countless Chess “aficionados” the fact is that many could care less about what happened previously because they are much more concerned with what is happening now. I recall talking with an exceptional budding young player at the House of Pain who said, “Why should I study those old farts who played so weakly? I’d rather spend my time replaying current games played by today’s players who are far stronger than those from way back then.” I remember thinking, “Wow, it seems like only yesterday Bobby Fischer was revered. Now the young’uns consider him a chumpy-lumpy.” That thought was prior to my saying, “If you don’t know where you’ve been, how can you know where you are going, kid?” That brought hardy laughter from resident curmudgeon Bob Bassett, who said, after he managed to stop laughing, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” I was the one howling after the young spud asked, “What does that mean?” I mention this before writing the following sentence/paragraph: “Normally, I take this characteristic indifference as my starting point to launch into a full-throated tirade against the vapidity of the media or the woeful incuriousness of our time, but in this case the situation is even worse still, because it clearly demonstrates that the overwhelming majority of self-proclaimed “chess historians” simply can’t trouble themselves to take the most obvious preliminary steps to contact actual specialists to verify essential aspects of their “theories.”
To give equal time to the other side the author again gives another sentence/paragraph: “During my investigations, I have also encountered several anti-chess historians, self-proclaimed history of games types who were so overwhelmingly antagonized by what they saw as the grossly unjustified dominance of chess in the broader games history landscape that the very idea that I was willfully engaged in producing a detailed exploration of the history of chess was enough to send them into fits of blind rage.”
We will conclude with the first chapter with a two sentence paragraph followed by another long sentence/paragraph: “Chess, in other words, is acknowledged to be an activity that demands highly specialized skills honed by years of dedicated effort. But history, goes the thinking, is somehow something that anyone can do.”
“So when Russian grandmaster Yuri Averbakh opted to publish his own vapid and trivialized account of the game’s past, A History of Chess: From Chaturanga to the Present Day,
his efforts were widely applauded by “the chess community” because, well, Averbakh was a personable and celebrated chess player who wrote many highly-respected books on chess theory; and, after all, you can’t have too many books on the history of chess.”
Or too many Chess books filled with “Chessays” too, I suppose…
The second chapter poses the question, (Is Chess a) Waste of Time? A good question which caused me to wonder if reading the book was going be a waste of my time… The author writes, “If chess were a far easier game-if it was like checkers or reversi or mancala or something- (there is the number 10 referring to a footnote at the bottom of the page where it is written, “This is precisely the sort of statement that will drive one of those passionate anti-chess mancala fanatics I mentioned in the previous essay right over the edge.
But then they were there already.) – things would be different indeed. Nobody devotes her life to studying backgammon.”
Whoa now, dude. First, when any writer uses “her” in lieu of “he” it grates like someone scratching the blackboard with their fingernails. When a writer, any writer, swaps “her” for “him” it appears the writer is singling out only females, as in females being the ones not devoting their lives to ‘studying backgammon’, which is ridiculous, and untrue. When Gammons first opened in the Buckhead part of Atlanta one of the top players was a woman named Kathy, from Chicago, and she had devoted her time to learning, and playing Backgammon as a professional. If, on the other hand, the writer was only being “politically correct” he was not. If one is to assume the writer used the gender specific word intentionally rather than the gender neutral “him” then he is wrong, and it can be proven by anyone typing in the words “Bill Robertie” into any search engine. This can be found at Wikipedia: “William Gerard (Bill) Robertie (born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States on July 9, 1946) is a backgammon, chess, and poker player and author. He is one of several (6 as of 2022) backgammon players to have won the World Backgammon Championship twice (in 1983 and in 1987).” Bill Robertie (https://thegammonpress.com/bill-robertie-blog/) is the refutation to the writer’s erroneous and ridiculous statement.
Turn the page and one finds, “This profound complexity is a fundamental aspect of what make chess chess.”
What makes chess chess? The game of Go, or Wei Chi, is exponentially and profoundly more complex that is Chess. Is that what makes Go Go?
“Which brings us to the intriguing case of Albert Einstein and Emanuel Lasker.
Many consider Lasker to be the most dominant chess player in history, given his 27-year reign as world champion from 1894 to 1921. He was also a mathematician, who in 1905 developed a theorem in algebraic geometry which significantly influenced no less a figure than Emmy Noether.”
1905 is an ironic date for Lasker’s most important mathematical work, because it was also Einstein’s annu mirabilis, where he published, among various other profoundly transformative ideas, his theory of special relativity-ironic, not so much because Einstein and Lasker later became friends during his time in Berlin, but because Lasker later famously contributed to the ridiculous anti-Einsteinian 1931 screed, One Hundred Authors Against Einstein.”
“Why, in Einstein’s view, hadn’t Lasker done more to achieve his wondrous human potential? Well, Einstein surmises, because of chess:
“Spinoza’s material existence and independence were based on the grinding of lenses; chess had an analogous role in Lasker’s life. But Spinoza
was granted a better fate, because his occupation left his mind free and untroubled, while on the other hand, the chess playing of a master ties him to the game, fetters his mind and shapes it to a certain extent so that his internal freedom and ease, no matter how strong he is, must inevitably be affected.”
The author continues: “What is most interesting to me about all of this is not so much that I’m convinced that Einstein was right and that the act of focusing one’s attention on the most profound conceptual issues imaginable is the most judicious use of one’s brief time on the planet (Footnote #30: “Although, of course, he was and it is.” I could hear my former English teacher, Ms. Simpson, asking, “He was ‘what’, and ‘what’ is ‘it’?”)
Chapter 3: Evolutionary Forces
The reader is informed by the writer, “Personally, I’m unconvinced that those 19th-century players were as indifferent to winning and losing as is now generally supposed, but there is no doubt that times have changed considerably: for better or worse chess is now a fully-fledged sport.”
There he goes again…
And again: “Of course, chess is far from the only activity to move from the domain of friendly, “gentlemanly” competition to cutthroat professional sport over the past 150 years or so, as juxtaposing Pierre de Coubertin’s
writings with modern-day attitudes will immediately reveal, but its distinct lack of any physical component makes it a particularly vivid measure of to what extent our sporting culture has evolved.”
And again: “Chess, in short, has emphatically made the transition from game to sport-which is the major reason, I believe that it is Fischer and not Morphy who best represents the modern archetype of the American chess player.”
“But intriguingly, many pastimes have not made this jump to the modern sporting realm. In particular, duplicate bridge, the primary target of Johan Huizinga’s over-professionalization ire, you will recall, (https://davidlabaree.com/2021/11/22/johan-huizinga-on-the-centrality-of-play/) still very much remains mired in the milieu of games, along with the likes of backgammon and Mahjong.”
“More revealing still, radically new forms of non-physical competition have recently sprouted up that are unhesitatingly viewed as sports-so much so, in fact that their very development has occasioned the creation of a new word to appropriately describe them: esports.”
“So what’s going on? What, in the modern age, distinguishes a sport from a game?”
Now the author finally comes to the crux of the matter:
“Well, I don’t pretend to know, of course, but you may recall from several pages ago that I have a theory. Here it is.”
You must read the book to read about his “theory.” Frankly, I do not know if the writer is full of excrement, but I have a theory…
After many pages devoted to explaining his ‘theory’ the reader finds this:
“When it comes to chess, the first thing to say is simply that, as previously noted, for better or worse, the Fischer worldview has unequivocally demolished the Morphy one: modern chess ticks all the contemporary sporting requirements and is no longer regarded by either its advocates or detractors as “a relaxation from the severer pursuits of life, whose battles are fought for no prize but honor.” It’s not at all certain whether or not the majority of Morphy’s contemporaries subscribed to such a characterization back in the 1850s, but it’s patently obvious that nobody believes it today.”
“The dust has settled, and chess is now a sport and not a game.”
At least in the author’s mind…
“A further point worth mentioning is that chess is hardly the only “old fashioned” game to make the modern sporting transition. The most obvious example is poker, which decidedly satisfies all of the above-mentioned criteria and is thus now near-universally recognized as a sport.”
Really? I asked several Chess players who also play, or have played, poker, if they thought poker could be considered a “sport.” One fellow caused me to laugh uproariously when he answered, “Sport? How the hell can anything done while sitting on one’s ass be considered a “sport?”
In the seventh round of the recently completed European Championships GM Anton Korobov,
of Ukraine, faced underdog IM Stamatis Kourkoulos-Arditis.
Both players had won five games and drawn one, and were tied for first place. Although Korobov built an advantage during the opening phase of the game he let it slip and after playing his 19th move the game was equal. Then Koukou pushed the g-pawn in lieu of taking the pawn with 19…gxf4, opening lines to Korobov’s king, and the battle raged until Koukou blundered with his 37th move and was ground down by Korobov.
Korobov, Anton (2658) – Kourkoulos-Arditis, Stamatis (2520) 09.03.2023
The win obviously left Korobov in the catbird seat, a half point in front of the large field. The situation was even better for Korobov because he again had white in the next, eight round. How did Korobov respond?
Korobov, Anton (2658) – Gledura, Benjamin (2637) 10.03.2023
1.e4 e5 2. Nc3 (This move makes it a C25 Vienna game) 2…Nf6 (Now it becomes a C26 Vienna, Falkbeer variation, I was surprised to see the SF program at lichess.com will play 2…Bc5, the third choice of human players at 365Chess.com, with 1546 games in the database. Contrast that with the move played in the game, which shows 11723 games. In between there is 2…Nc6 with 4621 games. ‘Back in the day’ 2…Nf6 was about the only move faced in any kind of play, and the Vienna was in my opening “database” back then, only no one called it a “database.” It was called a “brain.”) 3. g3 (This was the only move I ever played in this position. The first choice of we humans has been 3 f4 (4169), with 3 Bc4 (3561), followed by the game move (2849). The choice of SF, 3 Nf3, comes next, with 2673 games showing) 3…Bc5 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nge2 Nc6 (SF prefers 5…c6) 6 0-0 (SF shows 6 Na4, followed by 6…Be7, followed by 7 Nac3 Bc5 before showing 8 0-0. Although the extra moves may help later it also allows a triple repetition and an early end of the game. If you have no awareness of the Ko rule in the great game of Go, or Wei Chi, depending, then please educate yourself and you will question why Chess has such a ridiculous rule) 6…a5 7 h3 (A Stock of Fish were not needed to know this move is premature; he should have first played 7 d3) 7…Nd4 (SF would play 7…Re8) 8 d3 (I was shocked by this move. 8 Nxd4 was expected) 8…8. d3 c6 9. Kh2 (Nxd4) 9…d5 (Re8) 10. exd5 cxd5 11. f4 (? ) I can, unfortunately, tell you from personal experience things will go downhill from here for Korobov. When you do not play to WIN, you LOSE.
This occurred less than two miles from home. Earlier this morning the following article was read in the New York Times concerning an incident in Atlanta.
A Heavily Armed Man Caused Panic at a Supermarket. But Did He Break the Law?
In states with permissive gun laws, police and prosecutors have limited tools at their disposal when a heavily armed individual sows fear or panic in public.
By Richard Fausset Jan. 2, 2023, 5:00 a.m. ET
ATLANTA — Two days after a gunman killed 10 people at a Colorado grocery store, leaving many Americans on high alert, Rico Marley was arrested as he emerged from the bathroom at a Publix supermarket in Atlanta. He was wearing body armor and carrying six loaded weapons — four handguns in his jacket pockets, and in a guitar bag, a semiautomatic rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun.
Moments earlier, an Instacart delivery driver had alerted a store employee after seeing Mr. Marley in the bathroom, along with the AR-15-style rifle, which was propped against a wall. A grand jury indictment later described what had come next: “panic, terror and the evacuation of the Publix.”
Mr. Marley, then 22, was arrested without incident that day in March 2021. His lawyer, Charles Brant, noted that he had not made any threats or fired any shots, and had legally purchased his guns. Mr. Marley did not violate Georgia law, Mr. Brant said; he was “just being a person, doing what he had the right to do.”
Indeed, Mr. Marley’s arrest kicked off a long and as yet unresolved legal odyssey in which the criminal justice system waffled over what it could charge him with and whether to set him free. Clearly, visiting the grocery store with a trove of guns had frightened people. But was it illegal?
The episode, and others like it, speaks to a uniquely American quandary: In states with permissive gun laws, the police and prosecutors have limited tools at their disposal when a heavily armed individual’s mere presence in a public space sows fear or even panic.
The question of how to handle such situations has been raised most often in recent years in the context of political protests, where the open display of weapons has led to concerns about intimidation, the squelching of free speech or worse. But it may become a more frequent subject of debate in the wake of a landmark Supreme Court decision in June, which expanded Americans’ right to arm themselves in public while limiting states’ ability to set their own regulations.
The ruling also affirmed the principle of allowing states and local governments to ban guns in “sensitive places”; as examples, it cited legislative assemblies, polling places and courthouses. But the high court left much open for interpretation. “A wave of litigation is going to confront the courts with questions about what, for example, makes a restriction on guns in schools and government buildings different than in museums or on public transit,” Jacob D. Charles, a professor and gun law expert at Pepperdine Caruso School of Law, wrote in a recent blog post.
Events like the one involving Mr. Marley, while difficult to quantify, are extreme examples of a problem already bedeviling the police and prosecutors, sometimes from the moment an armed person is spotted in public. All but three states allow for the open carry of handguns, long guns or both, and in many there is little the police can do.
Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a bipartisan law enforcement policy group, said police officers sometimes had mere seconds to determine whether a person with a gun “either legally has the right or he’s a madman” — or both.
“For the average cop walking the street in America, it’s a huge dilemma, knowing there have been countless active shooter situations,” Mr. Wexler said.
Prosecutors initially went all in on Mr. Marley’s case, charging him with 11 felonies: five counts of criminal attempt to commit a felony and six counts of possession of a weapon “during commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies.” An arresting officer said in an affidavit that when Mr. Marley had put on his antiballistic armor in the Publix bathroom and placed the handguns, with rounds in the chambers, into his pockets, he had taken a “substantial step of the crime of aggravated assault,” a felony.
In July 2021, Judge Debbie-Ann Rickman of Fulton County Magistrate Court denied Mr. Marley bond, determining that he posed a “significant danger to the community.”
But court records show that the charges were dismissed in February. Mr. Marley was released from jail after 10 months, only to be rebooked in May, this time after being indicted by a grand jury on 10 lesser counts of reckless conduct, a misdemeanor. The indictment says that Mr. Marley was “loading and displaying” his AR-15 in the restroom and that he left it unattended.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges in August and remains in custody. (Mr. Brant, his lawyer, said he had not filed a new bond motion on his client’s behalf because Mr. Marley was homeless and did not have family or friends to stay with.)
John R. Monroe, a defense lawyer and the vice president of a gun-rights group called Georgia Second Amendment, is not involved in Mr. Marley’s case. But from the outside, he said, it seems baseless.
“I mean, all the guy did was be in the store with guns,” he said. “I go into Kroger with a gun, and I don’t expect to be arrested for reckless conduct when I do that. Based on the information from the case, he didn’t do anything that would even remotely constitute reckless conduct. And shame on the state for even prosecuting him for that.”
Taking out the rifle in the men’s room would have most likely violated the law in Illinois, Florida and California, where open carry is banned, Mr. Charles said. But states with more lenient gun laws have struggled with scenarios similar to the one involving Mr. Marley.
In February, a man named Guido Herrera was discovered at the Galleria mall in Houston, a few yards from a youth dance competition, wearing a spiked leather mask and carrying a Bible and an AR-15-style rifle. An off-duty police officer working as a security guard was alerted to his presence and tackled him. Mr. Herrera was found to have more than 120 rounds of ammunition with him, as well as a semiautomatic handgun holstered in his waistband.
He was charged with disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor that under Texas law includes knowingly displaying a firearm in public “in a manner calculated to alarm.” A jury found him guilty, and he was given a six-month jail sentence.
Prosecutors were openly frustrated. “His circumstance kind of fell in the gaps,” Barbara Mousset, a lawyer with the Harris County District Attorney’s office, said at Mr. Herrera’s sentencing, according to The Houston Chronicle. “He took advantage of some technicalities in the law — he had the right to have that firearm and, ultimately, this was the only charge that we could get him on.”
In an interview, Armen Merjanian, a lawyer for Mr. Herrera, called his client “a proud owner of firearms living in Texas,” adding that Mr. Herrera brought the rifle into the mall because he was worried about it being stolen from his car.
Nathan Beedle, the misdemeanor trial bureau chief in the Harris County prosecutor’s office, pointed to the practical challenges of applying the legal standard. “How long does it take to go from ‘in a manner calculated to alarm’ to deadly conduct?” said Mr. Beedle, who helped handle the Herrera case. “A millisecond, right?”
Not all such cases have ended peacefully. In 2015, a woman in Colorado Springs called 911 after seeing a man in her neighborhood with a gun. The dispatcher reportedly explained to her that Colorado was an open-carry state. Within minutes, the man went on a shooting spree, killing three people.
Mr. Brant, the lawyer for Mr. Marley, said his client might suffer from mental illness and was awaiting a formal diagnosis. He said Mr. Marley had attempted suicide during his first, 10-month jail stint.
Mr. Brant also offered an explanation for Mr. Marley’s conduct that day: He had acquired the guns and the body armor, Mr. Brant said, because he had felt threatened by someone in his neighborhood. On the day of his arrest, he had hoped to take his guns to a nearby shooting range but first had to run some errands, which included a stop at the grocery store. (Mr. Marley did not have a car, Mr. Brant said, which is why he was carrying the guns around with him.) While in the Publix men’s room, Mr. Brant said, Mr. Marley had taken out some of the weapons, including the rifle, to clean them after discovering that some guacamole he had bought had caused a mess inside the bag.
Charles Russell, the Instacart driver who came upon Mr. Marley in the men’s room, told police that, at one point, he had heard clicking sounds from a stall that “sounded to him like someone was loading firearms,” according to a police report.
In a recent interview, Mr. Russell, 27, said he had the Colorado massacre on his mind at the time. He recalled thinking, “If I don’t do anything, then I’m afraid of what will happen.”
In a statement to The New York Times, Fani T. Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, which covers most of Atlanta, said her office had taken a hard look at the case but had not found “provable felonies under Georgia law.”
“Georgia’s General Assembly must examine our statutes governing this type of behavior,” added Ms. Willis, a Democrat, referring to the state’s Republican-controlled legislature. “Respecting the right to bear arms should not require that we tolerate people entering public places with assault rifles and body armor.”
Mr. Brant said he did not believe anything Mr. Marley had done that day amounted to reckless conduct in a state that has been vigorously pushing the boundaries of the freedom to carry weapons in public. He alluded to a law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, more than a year after Mr. Marley’s arrest that allows people to carry concealed handguns without a license.
“What is the definition of reckless conduct?” Mr. Brant said. “Carrying weapons? In a state that requires no permit? And no license? I mean, help me understand, what’s the reckless conduct?”
Richard Fausset is a correspondent based in Atlanta. He mainly writes about the American South, focusing on politics, culture, race, poverty and criminal justice. He previously worked at The Los Angeles Times, including as a foreign correspondent in Mexico City. @RichardFausset
The movie Gone With the Wind opened in Atlanta on this date in 1939. Excitement was at a fever pitch; at a top-secret preview screening in California three months earlier, the audience had gone wild when they realized what they were seeing. They screamed, they cried, and they stood on their seats. The official opening of the film in Atlanta was the culmination of three days of parades, receptions, and a costume ball. Confederate flags and false antebellum façades covered the city. The governor declared December 15 a state holiday, and asked Georgians to dress in period clothing. Former president Jimmy Carter remembered it as the biggest event to happen in the South in his lifetime. The cast attended the premiere, with the notable exception of the African-American performers, who were prevented by Georgia’s Jim Crow laws from sitting next to their white co-stars. https://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php%3Fdate=2011%252F12%252F15.html
relocated from Music City to the Phoenix city, Atlanta, Georgia. It happened that by happenstance I was at Todd’s apartment after he moved in and again later as he was getting ready to return to Nashville, Tennessee. There was an obvious disparity between how the apartment looked on those two occasions, kind of like one of those ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures.
Todd was young, and strong, at that time, and was the “Big Dog” at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, kickin’ ass and takin’ names. He was also an extremely personable and animated fellow. After being beaten by Todd one regular habitué of the House of Pain vociferously and demonstrably said to any and everyone within earshot, “That Todd has a BIG HEAD!” To which Bob Bassett replied, “Yeah, and if you ever get your rating up to 2400 you will have a big head.” Another wag added, “Fat chance.” The loser hit the door… The name stuck, although no one ever called Todd “Big Head” to his face. After yet another player had been battered and bloodied, metaphorically speaking, of course, over the Chess board by Todd, the loser would be asked about the result and the reply would invariably be, “Big Head got me.” About this time there was a popular music group, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, who were quite popular. Todd traveled to a music festival in another state and I considered asking if Big Head Todd and the Monsters were there, but refrained from so doing…
These days Todd is the man with the Big Head at the Nashville Chess Center:
FM Andrews drew with fellow FM James Canty in the opening round of the May 2022 GM/IM Norm Invitational at the Charlotte Chess Center and followed that with a victory over GM Alonso Zapata, now a citizen of Georgia living in the metro Atlanta area. A couple of losses set him back before he was paired with serial drawer IM Nikolay Andrianov,
“…who became the Soviet Junior Champion in 1980. He beat GM Gary Kasparov in their junior years and maintains a plus score against the world champion. After that, he chose to focus on chess training. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chess training from the Moscow Central Physical Culture and Sports Institute, considered the top chess school globally at the time. He has since then trained students, many of them becoming masters in Russia, Ukraine, Greece, Indonesia, the Philippines, and the United States. Currently, he teaches chess in Arizona and online with Ashburn Chess Club.” (https://ashburnchessclub.com/nikolay-andrianov)
These are the games produced by IM Nikolay Andrianov in the first four rounds:
IM NIKOLAY ANDRIANOV (2317) vs DONALD JOHNSON (2102)
What happened in the second round? It looks as though Tianqi Wang actually considered attempting to try and play for a win, but after making a very weak move that gave the advantage to his opponent changed his mind and offered a draw, which was accepted by the player with little fight left in him. It takes two to tango, and make a draw, so all the blame cannot go to IM Andrianov. Some of the blame must be taken by the pusillanimous pussies so ready to accept a draw offer from an old and weak IM. Todd Andrews came to play Chess and forced the ineffectual IM to play to the death. Unfortunately, it was Todd who lost, but he went down fighting, like a man, and my hat is off to FM Todd Andrews. In losing Todd Andrews comes away a winner from one of the Charlotte Drawing Tournaments.
GM ALONSO ZAPATA (2367)
vs FM TODD ANDREWS (2209)
Round 2 | 2022.05.05 | 0-1 ECO: C06 French, Tarrasch, closed variation, main line
e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 (Stockfish 14 and 15 both play 3 Nc3, as does Komodo) 3…Nf6 (According to the ChessBaseDataBase, Komodo, Houdini, and Deep Fritz prefer 3…c5) 4. e5 Nfd7 5. c3 (SF 8 @depth 46 plays the move played in the game, but SF 13 @depth 44 goes with the most often played move of 5 Bd3. SF 14.1 @depth 47 will play 5 f4) 5…c5 6. Ndf3 (SF 311221 plays 6 Bd3 which has been far and away the most often played move with 8421 games in the CBDB; SF 14.1 will play 6 f4, the second most often played move (1924). The move played in the game has only been attempted in 54 games) 6…Nc6 7. Bd3 cxd4 (This move has been played most often with 130 games in the CBDB, but SF 14.1 and Komodo will play 7…Qa5. The reason could be that 7…cxd4 has resulted in a 66% score for players of the White pieces as opposed to only 42% in 31 games for 7…Qa5) 8. cxd4 f6 9. exf6 Nxf6 (SF 12 plays this move, but SF 070222 will take the pawn with the Queen with 9…Qxf6. Houdini will fire a TN with 9…Bb4+. 9…Nxf6 has been played in 84 games; 9…Qxf6 in only 8. White has scored 64% versus the former, but only 38% against the latter move) 10. Ne2 Qc7 (SF 130121 @depth 59 plays 10…Bd6, as do two different Fritz programs) 11. O-O Bd6 12. Nc3 (Fritz 16 plays this move, but Deep Fritz will play will play 12 g3. SF 170821 prefers 12 h3) 12…a6 13. Bg5 O-O 14. Rc1 (SF 14.1 plays 14 Bh4 and so should you) 14…h6 (14…Bd7 has been played most often, and one of the “New Engines” @depth 42 likes it, but left running a little longer it changes its whatever @depth 43 to 14…Ng4, which is what Komodo will play @depth 26) 15. Bh4 Bf4 (There is only one prior game with the game move. Komodo 8 @depth 14 plays 15…Bd7, but SF 261120 will play 15…Nh5, as will Komodo 9)