Yet Another Chess Cheating Scandal

Teen at centre of new chess cheating scandal

By Ian Rogers

Just a few weeks after a photo of Grandmaster Igors Rausis analysing with a mobile phone inside a toilet cubicle went around the world, a new cheating scandal has blown up in the Netherlands.
Joris Boons,

a 19-year-old amateur from Utrecht, had enjoyed a dream run over the past few months, winning rating restricted tournaments in Hilversum, Haarlem and Amsterdam with perfect or near-perfect scores.

Boons’ convincing victories, from a player who had never shown exceptional talent previously, aroused suspicions, especially since he seemed to be visiting the toilet rather often.

So when Boons entered the third group of the recent Dutch Open in Dieren the organisers decided to be prepared. Unfortunately, their efforts to source a metal detector proved fruitless – until the penultimate round.
By then Boons had won every game bar one and seemed headed for a new tournament success. However in the eighth round the arbiters stopped Boons on his return from a toilet visit and asked to scan him. Boons refused.
He was taken to the arbiters’ office and after having been told the consequences of refusing screening, admitted to having a phone. The phone was shown to contain chess apps, but Boons claimed that he had never used them during a game. He was nonetheless forfeited (for phone possession), expelled from the tournament, and all his opponents during the event were given back the point they had lost against him.
Boons’ case has been referred to the world body FIDE, which is expected to implement a ban of two years. (The Rausis case, in which the cheating could have been taking place for as many as six years, may become FIDE’s first life ban.)
In many ways Boons is a far more typical cheat than Rausis, a teenage, overconfident, but weak player who wants to prove that they are cleverer than everyone else. (Australia has seen two.)
However the Rausis case is far more worrying. If a strong player decides to get occasional help with a hidden phone for just a few key moments in a game, it will be very hard to identify.
Only when 58-year-old Rausis became greedy, reaching the top 50 after winning half a dozen tournaments in Italy and France over the European spring and summer, did suspicion rise to the point where vigilante players decided to secretly photograph him in a cubicle and present the evidence to the world.
The warning signs have been been clear since at least 2015 when Georgian Grandmaster Gaioz Nigalidze was banned after his mobile phone was found hidden behind a cistern at a tournament in Dubai.

Nigalidze was banned for three years but he had already won two Georgian Championships and a $15,000 first prize at an open event in Al Ain.
The moral seems to be that, despite isolated successes, current anti-cheating measures are inadequate and the integrity of the game is in serious danger.

https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6316922/teen-at-centre-of-new-chess-cheating-scandal/

Because of the internet being down for three days (It was up for about six hours four days ago before going away again, and had been down for at least two days prior to being up. It is like being in a third world country here in the USA. Thanks, AT&T!) I have been in the dark concerning the happenings in the world of Chess. I discovered this latest unfortunate news at the website of GM Kevin Spraggett (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/cheater-caught-in-dutch-tournament/).

Kevin writes, “Reality is that perhaps less than 1% of all the cheating taking place in todays tournaments is actually being identified. This is a serious issue. It is time for FIDE to get serious and purge the current FPC and start over.
It is time for FIDE to invest some money and buy the equipment that will stop cheaters cold.”

Unfortunately, the cost of the “equipment” needed to stop all cheating is prohibitively expensive. Only Draconian means will stop Chess cheating. Unfortunately someone must be made a martyr to send a message to all who may even be considering cheating at the Royal game. On the bright side, the name of the unfortunate human being stoned to death by Chess pieces on live internet TV will live forever.

Theory Of Shadows: A Review

It must be extremely difficult to write a historical novel because many have tried and most have failed. Many of the historical novels I have read were of the type, “What if he had lived?” Some concerned POTUS John F. Kennedy.

The last one read was years ago and it caused me to put other books of the type on the “back burner,” where they have since continued to smolder…It may have helped if the author could write, but he had as much business writing as I have running a marathon. The book was not one of those print on demand tomes which allow anyone to publish a book nowadays but a book published by an actual publishing company, which means there was an editor who must have thought the book good enough to earn money. I found the book, a hardback, only a few weeks after it had been published and it was marked down to a price low enough for me to take a chance and fork over the cash. P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” In a way the editor was right, but then, marked down enough anything will sell.

There have been notable historical novels such as Michael Shaara‘s masterpiece, The Killer Angels,
which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1974.

It must be terribly difficult to write a novel about people who actually lived. A novelist invents a character. To write historical fiction about an actual living, breathing human being is another thing entirely.

Having recently returned to the city of my birth meant a visit to the local library, which happened to be selected as the 2018 Georgia Public Library of the Year. After renewing my lapsed library card I went to the catalog that very evening to check on, what else, Chess books. I had been pleasantly surprised when seeing the latest issue of Chess Life magazine in the reading room of the Decatur branch of the Dekalb county library system after obtaining my new card. While surveying the Chess books a jewel was found, a book I recalled being published years ago, but not in English. It was published at the end of the last century by the author of The Luneburg Variation,

Paolo Maurensig.

It was his first novel, published at the age of fifty, and it was a good read. The book about which I will write is, Theory Of Shadows,

published in Italy in 2015. It was published in the US by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2018 after being translated by Anne Milano Appel.

From the front inside jacket: On the morning of March 24, 1946, the world chess champion, Alexander Alekhine – “sadist of the chess world,”

renowned for his eccentric behaviour as well as the ruthlessness of his playing style – was found dead in his hotel room in Estoril, Portugal.”

There it is, a fictional account of how Alekhine died. The last paragraph on the jacket reads: “With the atmosphere of a thriller, the insight of a poem, and a profound knowledge of the world of chess (“the most violent of all sports,” according to the former world champion Garry Kasparov), Paolo Maurensig’s Theory of Shadows leads us through the glamorous life and sordid death of an infuriating and unapologetic genius: not only trying to work out “whodunit,” but using the story of Alexander Alekhine to tease out what Milan Kundera has called “that which the novel alone can discover.”

I loved everything about this book. The book begins with this quote : “If Alekhine had been a Jew hating Nazi scientist, inventor of weapons extermination and therefore protected by those in power, then that intellectual rabble would have held its breath. Instead, the victim had to drain the bitter cup to the last drop…Even the supreme act of his death was vulgarly besmirched. And we cowards stifled our feelings, remaining silent. Because the only virtue that fraternally unites us all, whites and black, Jews and Christians, is cowardice.” – Esteban Canal

After reading the above I had yet to begin the first chapter yet had been sent to the theory books…OK, the interweb, in order to learn who was Esteban Canal. “Esteban Canal (April 19, 1896 – February 14, 1981) was a leading Peruvian chess player who had his best tournament results in the 1920s and 1930s.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esteban_Canal)

This was also found:

Who was Esteban Canal?

Writing in a 1937 edition of Chess Review, Lajos Steiner,


Lajos Steiner (1903-1975), by Len Leslie

who knew Canal when they were living in Budapest, said that Canal never reached the heights his talent deserved. He was awarded the IM title in 1950 and received the honorary GM title in 1977.
Not much is known about his life and what little is known is wrapped in a cloud of mystery. Canal himself claimed to have been a cabin boy on a cargo ship carrying wheat from Australia, but it has proven to be impossible to verify dates. It is known that he had an extensive nautical knowledge and sailors.
In 1955 the South African player Wolfgang Heindenfed, writing in his book Chess Springbok, An Account of a South African Chess Player’s Experiences Overseas wrote of Canal, “The grand old man of Italian chess is Esteban Canal, originally of Peru, who at the age of 57 won the 1953 Venice tournament to which I had the good luck of being invited. He is one of the most interesting and amusing of all chess personalities. Formerly a roving reporter, he speaks six or seven languages and still treasures mementos of such VIPs as Kemal Pasha and Abd el Krim. He is an inexhaustible raconteur of chess stories.” (http://tartajubow.blogspot.com/2018/03/who-was-esteban-canal.html)

About a third of the way through the one hundred seventy nine page book we read: “Though it was an essential task, armchair analysis of the matches he’s played in the past often bored him. Without the presence of the human element, the pieces on the chessboard lost their vitality. It was quite a different matter to play with an opponent in front of you: to enter his mind, predict his strategies by interpreting the slightest variations of his posture, the position of his hands, the subtle though significant contractions of his lips. During the period when he worked for the Moscow police, they had taught Alekhine how to interpret small signs such as these during interrogations, to see if their subjects were lying.”

During an interview, after discussing the murder of his brother at the hands of the Soviet communists as retribution of Alekhine leaving “Mother Russia” the interviewer asks, “And you never feared that you might suffer the same fate?”

“You mean being killed?”

The journalist nodded.

He hesitated a moment, then: “Perhaps, yes, now and then, the thought’s occurred to me.”

“After all,” Ocampo said, a little heavy-handedly, “Trotsky himself, despite taking refuge in Mexice, was ultimately hit by a hired assassin.”

“I took my precautions.”

For a time Alekhine was silent. In fact, he knew very well that it was not strictly necessary for a victim to be close to his murderer, that there was no place in the world where one could be assured of finding a completely secure refuge. A well-trained hit man could strike even in broad daylight and in the midst of a crowd.”

I’m thinking, “Just ask JFK…”

Jews and Chess:

“That was the first time he’d faced a Jewish chess player – it would certainly not be the last. He would endure a stinging defeat by Rubenstein


Akiba Rubenstein

in the first masters tournament in which he competed. He was eighteen years old then, and, encountering that young man, some years older than him, who was said to have abandoned his rabbinical studies to devote himself to chess, he’s had to swallow several bitter truths. Later on, he played against Nimzowitsch,


Aaron Nimzowitsch

Lasker,


Emanuel Lasker

and Reshevsky,


Sammy Reshevsky

soon realizing that, in his rise to the world title, his competitors would all be Jews.
Their faces were still sharply etched in his memory: Rubinstein, dapper, with a drew cut and an upturned mustache and the vacant gaze of a man who has peered too closely into his own madness; Lasker, with his perpetually drowsy air and spiraling, hopelessly rebellious hair; Nimzowitsch, looking like a bank clerk who, behind his pincenez, is haughtily judging the insufficiency of other people’s funds’ Reshevsky, resembling a prematurely aged child prodigy. Often he imagined them muffled up in long black cloaks, gathered in a circle like cros around a carcass, intent on captiously interpreting chess the way they did their sacred texts.”

Near the end of this magnificent book it is written, “By then, the harbingers of what in the coming decades would be called the Cold War were already looming. And if the weapons of the two blocs were to remain unused, it was essential that there be other arenas in which they could compete and excel. Chess was therefore, as ever, a symbolic substitute for war: gaining supremacy in it was a constant reminder to the enemy that you possessed greater military expertise, a more effective strategy.”

In beating the Soviet World Chess Champion Boris Spassky in 1972 Bobby Fischer won much more than a mere Chess match.

Bobby emasculated the Soviet Communist regime. Alekhine may have taken a brick out of the wall when leaving Mother Russia, but Bobby Fischer took the wall down.

Being a novel within a novel made the book was a pleasure to read and I enjoyed it immensely. I give it the maximum five stars.

Halftime at the World Human Chess Championship

The sixth game of the 2018 World Human Chess Championship was drawn, as were the first five games.

There are multiple reasons all games have been drawn. The format of only twelve games lends itself to many drawn games. When Bobby Fischer

defeated Boris Spassky in 1972 the World Chess Championship was comprised of twenty four games. A player could lose a game, or two, as did Fischer to begin the match, and still have time to mount a comeback. In a much shorter match the combatants know one decisive game could be all she wrote. In addition, the players are evenly matched. One would expect extremely close games between the two best human players in the world. Then there is the fact that human players are much stronger and better than their predecessors. As Chess players improve there will be more draws, unless there are changes to the rules.

In the recent 2nd Du Te Cup 2018 played in Shenzhen, China 4th to 11th November 2018, six of the top Grandmasters in the World, rated between 2709 and 2816, played an eight round double round robin in which a total of twenty four games were played, only five of which ended in victory, and each was a win for the player with the white pieces. The first win did not come until the fifth round.

The recent TCEC computer program World Chess Championship is a possible indication of what could happen in future human tournaments and matches. Stockfish and Komodo played one hundred games; only twenty one were decisive. Stockfish won thirteen games with white; Komodo won five, for a total winning percentage of eighteen percent for white. Playing black Stockfish won only two games, while Komodo won only one. Only three percent of the games played ended in victory for the black pieces. Seventy nine percent of the games played by the two 3500 rated programs were drawn.

FiveThirtyEight

It was my intention to write something about the revelatory Chess articles being written at the website of ABC News, FiveThirtyEight (https://fivethirtyeight.com/), which has been on my radar because of the excellent articles written about Major League Baseball. I first surfed over to FiveThirtyEight to read an article mentioned on another Baseball website and soon was surfing there every day, and not only because of the MLB atricles.

Mark Weeks over at Chess For All Ages beat me to the punch, so to speak, with his post Chess@538, dated 15 November, 2018 (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/11/chess-538com.html). It is an excellent post which culminates with:

“The resulting brouhaha convinced one respected chess journalist, GM Ian Rogers of Australia, to resign his job working with the American team: @GMIanRogers: Sadly parting ways with @ChessLifeOnline after a decade… (twitter.com):-

…I declined to accept edits to my round 4 World Ch’p report which would downplay responsibility of editors of the Caruana video, downplay the effect of the video on Caruana’s chances, and omit the key image from the video.

On top of that, all of the videos produced by the St.Louis Chess Club disappeared from Youtube. Out of sight, out of mind? Hardly. Someone in St.Louis is guilty of an unprofessional lapse of judgement. That’s the person who should resign — not a journalist doing the job he was paid to do.”

I must concur conclusively with Mark’s astute assessment of the situation. Who is guilty in St. Louis? Inquiring minds want to know…

In the latest column by Oliver Roeder, Chess World Rattled As Someone Nearly Wins Game, it is written, “Chess players are second only to maybe biological taxonomists in their proclivity to elaborately name things, and sure enough even this rare position has its own proper name: the Karklins-Martinovsky Variation. But neither player was troubled by Karklins-Martinovsky, they said after the game. Its theory is well known to these elite players.

And so they played on. The powerful queens came off the board by move 8, but this loss took no edge off the fight. For a while, the game looked less like a battle and more like a dressage competition, as 66 percent or more of each player’s first 12 moves were knight moves.”

The following paragraph can be found in the November 16 post by Mr. Roeder:

“The data scientist Randal Olson analyzed hundreds of thousands of chess games in an article a few years ago. The closer players are in rating, he found, the longer games tend to go. And as the players get better, draws become far more common. Carlsen and Caruana are as good — and about as close in rating — as you can get. Indeed, they are even beyond the scope of Olson’s chart below, with Elo ratings (which measure the strength of players given the opponents they’ve played) north of 2800.”

I clicked on the link provided and was sent to a column written May 24, 2014, by Randal S. Olsen. There is a fantastic picture of Bobby Fischer playing Mikhail Tal, which I saved. It was worth clicking on just to see the picture.

Then I went to Mr. Olsen’s home page (http://www.randalolson.com/) and found this: “Does batting order matter in Major League Baseball? A simulation approach”

Good thing today is an off day in the WHCC.

Playing With The Polar Bear

An article on the Chessdom website published March 9, 2015, GM Danielsen publishes The Polar Bear System, caught my eye. It begins, “The famous Grandmaster from Iceland – Henrik Danielsen – has published his first edition of The Polar Bear System. GM Danielsen shared, “I have spent 15 years developing the Polar Bear system. Indeed I have turned every stone in the system and lost many games in doing so. Since there is no theory of importance I had to work hard. I read everything about the Dutch defense and used the ideas with reversed colors. So the theory in the book is mainly created with my own games and analysis.”

“The Polar Bear System starts with 1.f4 (the Bird opening) and then fianchetto of the kings, bishop as a mirror image of the Leningrad Dutch.” (http://www.chessdom.com/gm-danielsen-publishes-the-polar-bear-system/)

I have played this system without knowing it was called “The Polar Bear System.” I cannot help but wonder if the chess players down under, in Australia, have developed a Koala Bear System…

I clicked on “See the official website of The Polar Bear System” and saw this, a continuation from above, “I had to select the cream. And turn the cream into a repertoire book. Omitting lines in which I do not believe.

“Every game and every move has been checked by the chess programs Stockfish and Fritz 13. It will not be easy for the reader to find a tactical mistake in the text. It is on purpose I have chosen to comment the games with short text. Boiling the material down and letting the games speak for themselves. The repertoire is for serious club players but also professionals can get inspired.” (http://www.polarbearsystem.com/about-pbs.html)

At this point the Polar had me in a Bear hug, so I clicked on where it says, “But the book hear!” I landed in the Amazon, going from the grip of a Polar Bear into that of a Gorilla. For sixteen inflated US digits I could have purchased the “book” with one more click. Unfortunately for me the “book” only comes in digits, and I would need something named a “Kindle” to read those digits. Finding nothing about a real book, I decided to click on “contact” and sent GM Danielsen an email, asking if he had any plans for a book we e-reader challenged people could purchase. This was his reply: “On Tuesday, March 10, 2015 3:35 PM, The Polarbear System gmhenrikdanielsen wrote:

Hello Michael

thank you for your e-mail, I can hopefully publish the book later. I would like that to happen.
All the best of luck to you also.

Regards
GM Henrik Danielsen”

Oh well…Unless and until a book is published I will have to content myself with the video included in the Chessdom article and others I have located, such as this one on youtube: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXq4–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki), and this one, Blitz Chess #1 with Live Comments – Bird Opening vs GM Hikaru Nakamura (b loss). (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXq4–F816I&list=PL0Pymw6KEu42sv0wo-pMyrBDzpcYle3Ki)

And here is an article found on the USCF website, GM Joel on the Polar Bear, By GM Joel Benjamin, March 18, 2009. (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/9203/341/)

Can You Handle the Truth?

Yesterday Mike Murray started a new thread in the “All Things Chess” section of the USCF Forum. The title of his thread is a question, “Does chess develop transferable skills ?” (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=21185&sid=fc8aa899349128eec2cc1414646786be) Mike begins his post answering the question by writing, “Evidently, not so much.” He then quotes from this blog by copying something I copied verbatim:

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

Mr. Murray then gives a link to my post, and adds a link with which I was unfamiliar:
“see also” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126200/

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

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

Facing facts about deliberate practice

David Z. Hambrick1*, Erik M. Altmann1, Frederick L. Oswald2, Elizabeth J. Meinz3 and Fernand Gobet4
1 Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
2 Department ofPsychology, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
3 Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, USA
4 InstituteofPsychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
*Correspondence: hambric3@msu.edu
Editedby:
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia
Reviewed by:
Lena Rachel Quinto, Macquarie University, Australia
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia

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

Fernand Gobet and Guillermo Campitelli
Brunel University

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

David Z. Hambrick & Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

Accounting for expert performance: The devil is in the details

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

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

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

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

ROBERT W. HOWARD*
University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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

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

Intelligence and chess

Fernand Gobet, & Guillermo Campitelli

Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review

Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli
University of Nottingham

What put me on this path was the flap over what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book. “In Gladwell’s bestselling “Outliers” he discusses the “10,000-hour rule”: If you practice the necessary 10,000 hours you can reach the zenith of your field.” (http://www.salon.com/2014/07/15/is_malcolm_gladwell_wrong_scientists_debate_the_10000_hour_rule/)

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

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

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

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

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

This kind of thing happens all the time in our society. An example would be what the Bushwhackers said happened to Private First Class Jessica Dawn Lynch during the invasion of Iraq. Initial reports by the Bushwhackers said that before being captured and brutalized, PFC Lynch, in her best Rambo imitation, fired all the rounds in her weapon until the weapon was so hot it burned her hands, but still she continued, in great pain, to hold onto the weapon, using it to club Iraqi soldiers until there were so many of them she could no longer swing said weapon…or some such. I will admit to paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. The truth came out later, and I quote, “Initial official reports on Lynch’s capture and rescue in Iraq were incorrect. On April 24, 2007, she testified in front of Congress that she had never fired her weapon, her M16 rifle jammed, and that she had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed. Lynch has been outspoken in her criticism of the original stories reported regarding her combat experience. When asked about her heroine status, she stated “That wasn’t me. I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do… I’m just a survivor.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_Lynch#Further_reading) See The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg.” See also, “The truth about Jessica.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/may/15/iraq.usa2) People can still be found who will tell you all about the brave woman during the invasion of Iraq who made Rambo look like a wuss…

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

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

Debunking the Polgar Sisters Case

Mark Weeks writes the “Chess For All Ages” blog, and he is confused about the facts (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2015/02/confusion-about-facts.html) when it comes to the statement, “‘chess makes you smarter.” Many are confused when it comes to chess and intelligence because much has been written, but little understood, about the role chess has played in improving the “smarts” of a human being. Inquiring minds what to know so I asked for a little help from my friends in order to learn what is known by the most intelligent and learned people who study these kinds of questions. Numerous papers have been published concerning the issue and they are quite expensive. In my impecunious situation I would not have been able to read the papers except for the fact that friends in the world of academia gave me a helping hand. I profusely thank them for their kindness. I have read numerous papers recently, which made my eyes bleed…For the next several days I will share what I have learned with the chess community.

Judit Polgar retired from chess recently, bringing an end to the experiment conducted by the Polgar sisters father, Laszlo. Many women have written that if only there were more female chess players there would be more women in the top echelon of chess. For example, see “USCF President Ruth Haring’s “Numbers Game” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=USCF+President+Ruth+Haring%27s+%22Numbers+Game%22). Anjelina Belakovskaia is planning on a run for the USCF policy board and has written, ” I know that there is much more needs to be done and as a professional chess player myself (WGM), a business person, a Mom of 3 chess playing kids and a coach running Belakovskaia Chess Academy, I feel I can bring a lot to the table. From improving professional chess image, to attracting more girls into chess…” (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=20700&sid=be60acd8a7253d079b536fc53c4dad14) She wants more girls in spite of the fact that the USCF’s own numbers show that girls drop out of chess at, or near, puberty. These women play, or have played chess, so they seem to think that if it was good for them, it will be even better for the game if many more girls play chess, and it will translate into many more elite female chess players. What I wanted to know is what the empirical evidence shows. I found the answer in a paper published in 2011 by Robert Howard of the School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia, Does high-level intellectual performance depend on
practice alone? Debunking the Polgar sisters case.

“The Polgar sisters case often is cited as evidence that practice alone is key to chess skill and that
almost anyone can become a grandmaster (Ericsson & Charness, 1994; Forbes, 1992; Vinkhuyzen, van
der Sluis, Posthuma, & Boomsma, 2009). It has featured in the popular media, with the suggestion of
major educational implications (Colvin, 2008; Flora, 2005; Gladwell, 2008; Ross, 2006). As described
by Hearst and Knott (2009, pp. 136–137), “The Polgars’ father, Laszlo, was a teacher who believed that
there is really no such thing as innate talent or genius and that any reasonably normal intelligent person could achieve great success in a specialized field if he or she were given extensive and concentrated training in that field from an early age, starting particularly before they were six years old. . .”. The three sisters (born in 1969, 1974, and 1976) were raised in Hungary and home-schooled. They learned chess at a very young age and reportedly studied chess many hours a day (Forbes, 1992; Polgar & Truong, 2005). They excelled, two becoming grandmasters, and one still is the strongest-ever female player.
The Polgar case often is regarded as if it had been scrutinized carefully by expert reviewers and
reported in a scientific journal. But it never has been. If so submitted with the bare-bones facts cited by researchers (e.g. early starting ages, many daily practice hours, two becoming grandmasters), would the usual claims for it pass reviewer scrutiny?”

Examination method

“Here, the Polgar case was examined closely. Each sister’s expertise development was quantified
and compared with the other sisters’ development and with other groups and an individual. Two
data sets were used; longitudinal rating data from the international chess federation (FIDE) and data
from an online survey. Practice in chess is defined here as playing games and studying chess material
(Howard, 2009).
One comparison group was other players entering the international chess domain around the same
time; between the sisters’ entry dates of July 1980 and January 1987. The sisters had much more
practice on average because the other players mostly attended school, and there are no reports of
others having a Polgar-type upbringing. Most players do not study a lot. Charness, Tuffiash, Krampe,
Reingold, and Vasyukova (2005) reported a mean 6.3 h per week of “serious study” in chess players.
A second comparison was with an archetypal chess prodigy (ACP, born in 1990). He entered the
domain in January 2001, with a later start than the sisters (he reports taking up the game seriously at
age 8), gained the grandmaster title at age 13, and reached the number one ranking spot at age 19 in
2010. He lacked a Polgar upbringing and must have received much less practice, as detailed below.”

“The sisters started serious practice around the same age and studied about the same number of
hours daily, often being coached together (Polgar & Truong, 2005). Yet there are wide differences in
their rating development and their peak ratings.”

Conclusions

When examined closely, the Polgar case does not show that almost anyone can become a grandmaster
and that practice alone is key. From starting age to the late 1990s, the Polgars probably received
more practice than anyone ever has. Despite their much greater practice levels, two sisters’ peak ratings
are quite comparable to those of other players first on the list around the same time and to those
of eight surveyed and much less practiced grandmasters, and are well below that of less-practiced
ACP. If only practice and an early start were important, there should have been little difference among
them in their rating trajectories and peak ratings. All should have made the top ten and they should
have had a lasting stranglehold on the open world championship. A plausible alternative account is
that the Polgars have much natural talent for chess, one sister has more than the others, and ACP has
more than all three. No claim is being made here that the data presented show the existence of natural
talent, only that this interpretation is plausible.
The present study has limitations. It was not possible to directly survey the Polgars or ACP nor
to administer any tests to them. One might argue that some kind of practice really was key, that
training methods have improved and this somehow accounts for the results, or that everyone in the
present study on the list from 1980 to 1987 really had a Polgar upbringing. One could argue that too
many variables are confounded, or that ACP received some very special type of practice. Nature and
nurture are notoriously difficult to separate and there is no claim that they were separated here. Such
objections are irrelevant to the present purposes of demonstrating that an interpretation of the Polgar
evidence that invokes natural talent is plausible. In conclusion, the Polgar case does not stand up to
the claims often made for it.”

San Francisco Chess Institution

The Mechanic’s Institute Newsletter, written by IM John Donaldson, is, quite simply, a treasure-trove. The MIN is one of the chess sites I frequent regularly. It is de rigueur not only for the members of the M.I. but for anyone fortunate enough to have visited the venerable institution. Upon entering the building at 57 Post street the sense of history is palpable. It is as if the contained chess history of the last century or so oozes from the nooks and crannies, seeping into the visitor by osmosis. What IMJD has written will stand the test of time long after he has departed for the awaiting chess board at the next plane of existence.

Imagine my surprise upon reading the latest entry, #692, dated December 12, 2014 (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php), and finding a Georgia connection. IMJD writes, “Many thanks to Jamie Duif Calvin, who recently made a very generous gift of chess books and chess clocks to the Mechanics’ Institute in memory of her chess mentor International Master Boris Kogan, “who believed that an interest in chess should be supported with a strong foundation of technical study as well as an appreciation for the great games of the past.”

Kogan (1940-1993) was the Soviet Junior Champion in 1956 and 1957, but not long after his successes was encouraged to become a trainer and stopped playing seriously. He only became an International Master in 1981, the year he immigrated to the United States. A nine-time Georgia state champion (he settled in Atlanta), Kogan played in three US Championships.

Encouraged to become a trainer at a time when Jewish players in the Soviet Union didn’t always get a fair deal, Kogan became an excellent coach. Upon his arrival in the United States he worked primarily with older players, but also coached Stuart Rachels who tied for first in the 1989 U.S. Championship. Rachels remembers the fantastic notebooks Boris complied of carefully-selected training positions. One wonders what happened to this “gold”, which deserves to be published.”

During an email exchange a decade or so ago with former US Chess Champion Stuart Rachels I asked about the notebook(s) Boris used during lessons. Stuart said that if they are to be found, they are, most probably, with Mike Kogan, a Master level player, who, at last report, was living and working down under in Australia. If anyone in that part of the world knows anything about the whereabouts of Mike Kogan, pass the word the Armchair Warrior would like to get in touch.