The Chess Cheating Epidemic Is Destroying The Game

In a post, Canadian Arbiter Caught Cheating,by kevinspraggettonchess, published September 22, 2018, The Canadian Chess Grandmaster wrote:

“Claude Lessard is a popular and well respected arbiter,

organizer and promoter in the Quebec City area chess community. Earlier in the month the Quebec Chess Federation (FQE) took the unprecedented step to ban him for 2 years following an investigation into multiple longtime allegations of cheating using a cellphone chess app during his games.

Questions of whether this cheating was just the tip of the iceberg amongst members of the popular chess club he ran and owned remain unanswered.”

THE CHEATING EPIDEMIC

“On September 7th of this year I wrote a blog article dealing with this precise topic. In this article I argued, amongst other things, to indirectly remove arbiters from FIDE’s efforts to catch cheaters. This Quebec incident proves my point: a cheating arbiter will NEVER report a cheating player because he will be afraid of himself being caught in the resulting web of investigation.

Curiously, the above announcement by the FQE of the two year suspension of Claude Lessard was removed from the FQE’s official website one day after the decision first being announced. Is the FQE trying to bury the incident?

In my blog article mentioned above, I argued for a LIFETIME ban for any individual caught cheating. Zero tolerance. We have come to the point where we have spectators, arbiters, organizers and players cheating. Something must be done about this!”

Cheating is destroying the game

“I don’t play so much these days, but in the relatively few international tournaments that I have played in during the past 5 years here in Europe, I have witnessed a significant number of examples of cheating. Even amongst 2700-plus players, not just the lowly amateur.

Some of these methods used are quite sophisticated, and implicate outside help. All require the tournament arbiters to close their eyes and look the otherway. As I wrote several times here on this blog, a good rule of thumb is that at any given time in any tournament as many as 20% of the participants are cheating in one way or the other.”
http://www.spraggettonchess.com/canadian-arbiter-caught-cheating/

I do not know where, exactly, the tipping point is for people to turn away from the game, but if Grandmaster Spraggett is correct the game is in imminent if not immediate danger of being consigned to the dustbin of history. Ask yourself this question, “If I were a parent would I want my child playing a game in which one out of every five players cheated?”

Ask yourself this question, “What percentage of cheating would be acceptable for me to participate in any game?”

There is, and has been, a small amount of cheating in most games. For example, Leo “The Lip” Durocher,

(https://sabr.org/research/1947-dodgers-suspension-leo-durocher) manager of the 1954 New York Giants, cheated by stealing signs of the opposing teams catcher so his batters would know what kind of pitches were coming, and Leo the Lip is in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The National Football League New England Patriots cheated so often one can click on and read all about the New England Patriots Cheating History. (http://yourteamcheats.com/NE)

In the United States of America it has become fact that cheaters are winners. It has been written Dirty Tricky Dicky Nixxon

did not contest the lost 1960 election because a recount would have shown that he, too, had cheated.

We The People now have a nocuous imbecilic POTUS sitting in the oval office who not only cheated to win, but has continually cheated throughout his life.

Maybe the twenty percent GM Spraggett

quotes is too small a number…For decades FIDE, the governing body of world Chess, has been administered by cheaters and crooks who have turned a blind eye to cheating while having “zero tolerance” for a player turning up a few minutes late for the start of his or her game. I do not see things improving any time soon unless GM Nigel Short wins the soon to be election for FIDE President. One candidate, Georgios Makropoulos,

has been VP for decades and knows where the bodies, and money, is buried. He has one foot, and several toes, in the grave. Another candidate, Arkady Dvorkovich,

is yet another Putin puppet. If elected Putin’s puppet Dvorkovich will simply bring more of Putin’s poison to the world of Chess. Therefore, the only hope for change in FIDE is Grandmaster Nigel Short.

What chance does Nigel have against the rotten cheaters against whom he is running? Maybe a snowball’s chance in HELL…

There is a post on the forum at the website of the United States Chess Federation titled, Spraggett on Cheating where one finds this by the forum’s resident philosopher, Thomas Magar:

“Over the years, from the early 1970’s to now, the most frequent forms of “cheating” I have seen fit into the following categories:

1. Casual contact between players, coaches, spectators, and parents. It was common to go to big tournaments and see players conversing in aisles with compatriots. While some of it was innocuous, the frequency of the contacts was more than suspicious. It was clear that chess was a team game for some Russian speaking players, with information being passed at critical times. One could hear moves and variations being discussed during games. Other nationalities also talked to each other about games in progress. TDs who did not know the languages could not police the floors even if they tried. One player I know found his higher rated, titled foreign opponent in the book seller’s room reading a book on the opening they were playing. They guy was forfeited but was allowed to play subsequent rounds, earning a prize. Today it is common to see kids conversing animatedly with parents who are holding thin tablets with the position of their child’s games.

2. Various drugs have been used to stimulate players. Back in the ’70’s and even before that, some players experimented with different amphetamines to improve energy and focus. Many players hyped themselves up with extreme doses of caffeine through coffee and tea which may haver worked for some, but were not helpful physically. The use of drugs and caffeine supplements have effects like sleep deprivation, tremors, and frazzled nerves during critical moments. I see players guzzling “5 Hour Energy” at tournaments as well as popping pills. For short term gain, players are risking long term health damages. In the old days, players thought alcohol was a stimulant. Now it is used to come off the highs and numb the brain into sleep. Drugs and alcohol, not a good chess combination.

3. Electronic devices have become ubiquitous. When the program Tech was developed in the early ’70’s, it was not very good, but it was a precursor of what was possible using computers and good programming. By the mid-’80’s, the Hitech and Deep Thought programs were 2450-2550 strength. They required sophisticated hardware and were unwieldy to use except by their handlers. Today, one can buy powerful programs and download apps that fit into devices that are in the palm of your hand. This has opened the chance to cheat to everyone. Every tournament I attend, there are players or parents sitting on the floor analyzing positions using Fritz, Komodo, Stockfish, or other programs, either alone or in multiple configurations tied into databases. The power of these devices is enticing, even if it is used to win a mere trophy.

4. Sandbagging. Once a player rises to a certain level, he may discover that improving the chess rating is noble and ethical, it is not vey economic. Lowering the rating, throwing games in tournaments you are not doing well in, may lead to large prizes in class section of future tournaments. Maintaining a rating below a rating threshold is fairly easy to do. With the new rating changes that have increased volatility, it is possible to lose many more points in the tournaments a player decides to crash his rating in. He must be careful to toss as many as he can before and after a big event. That is not so hard as there are plenty of Game 30s to give away points in. Running out of time or hanging a piece is easy in a fast timecontrol tournament and no one notices what he is doing, unless he loses several games o players who are considerable lower rated. Having a couple of mediocre tournaments that are cheap to play in works just fine. He can work on new openings and then make a blunder. The acting crushed takes some dramatic skill, but suffering for one’s art is expected.

Is all of this killing the game? There seem to be a lot more players around even if one cannot trust them. If your goal is to attract attendance and make money, you may not want to notice what is going on. On the other hand, if you are a purist who thinks the game is an art, a noble conquest, and an elevation of man’s culture, you are not happy about the sleazy way the tournament game has degenerated into a gambler’s paradise. In any event, move over as the means to stop the cheating are few. You can punish the ones you catch, but you will have a harder time changing the new chess culture. As they say, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” It is all about the Benjamins.”

I have never played Chess because of “the Benjamins.” I played for the love of the game. I played Backgammon professionally for “the Benjamins.” If I play tournament Chess again it will, most probably, be in a Senior tournament, where the risk of encountering cheating would be minuscule, if at all. I may possibly play in a week night tournament with a time limit of fifteen minutes. Who would cheat in in such a tournament?

GM Spraggett has called for “Zero tolerance,” and “…a LIFETIME ban for any individual caught cheating.”
Although this seems rather harsh to someone brought up in a Southern Baptist environment with the prevalent idea of giving people a second chance, I must concur with GM Spraggett. The Major League Baseball rule against wagering on MLB games did not deter Pete Rose


https://nypost.com/2018/04/24/pete-rose-still-betting-and-losing-big-estranged-wife-claims/

even with the possibility of a lifetime ban, so it will not eliminate all cheating, but surely it could possibly cut the twenty percent figure considerably.


Cheating At Solitaire

Mike Ness
Album: Cheating at Solitaire

You can lie to yourself, you can lie to the world
You can lie to the one you call your girl
You can humble yourself to the hearts that you stole
Wondering who’s gonna love you when you grow old?

With a fist full of courage and a heart full of rage
I realized I’d locked myself in a cage
I’ll be the one standing there with the watery eyes
I’ll be the fool in the mirror asking you why…asking why

When I got to the end of my dirty rainbow
And I found that there was no pot of gold
Well, I learned that I was empty and not quite as strong
For I had robbed my heart and cheated my soul

Look for the one with the watery eyes
I’ll be the fool in the mirror asking you why
Cursing lovers in a warm tender embrace
Scoffing at the world and the whole human race

Chorus:
You can run, you can hide
You can feed your foolish pride
You can use and abuse
In the end you’ll always lose…at the game

Chorus:
You can run, you can hide
You can feed your foolish pride
With the hearts that you stole
And an empty pot of gold
And the lover’s warm embrace
And the whole damned human race
You can use and abuse
In the end you’ll always lose…at the game

“For I cheated myself at solitaire”

https://genius.com/Mike-ness-cheating-at-solitaire-lyrics

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THE SURROUNDING GAME on Netflix

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

(https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/the-surrounding-game/), I was thrilled to see the movie was available on YouTube. After finishing the post I had something to eat and then rested. After a cuppa joe I settled in to watch the movie…Unfortunately it was no longer available due to a copyright infringement.

It has been many years since watching any movie in a theater. Since it would have cost five dollars to watch the movie online I decided to wait until it could be watched free of charge. The movie debuted on Netflix August 30 and I watched it the next day. The focus of the movie was on the young players. This caused me to reflect upon what I consider the best post ever made on this blog, or the earlier BaconLOG, for that matter (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/these-are-my-people/). It matters not what game is being played, or even if a game is being played. It is the same feeling one has when attending a convention of model train enthusiasts, or sports memorabilia fanatics.

When the movie ended I headed to the Internet Movie Data Base (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3973724/?ref_=nv_sr_1) to find it rated 8.1. A few minutes ago I returned to find it now rated 6.8. I liked the movie but am no impartial observer as I was there during the US Go Congress when it was filmed. I was living in Hendersonville, North Carolina at the time and traveled to Black Mountain four times during that week. I did not participate in the tournament because there was a “Meal Plan,” priced at $195, required for all attendees. I kid you not…The organizers did not expect participation by a local and they would not relent.

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

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

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

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

The Najdorf in Black and White: A Review

Because of having played the Najdorf system during my formative years in the last century I was interested in learning about GM Bryan Smith’s new book on the opening (https://mongoosepress.com/the-najdorf-in-black-and-white/).

I met Bryan

at the 2009 Kentucky Open where he took first place by a half point. There were myriad problems with the tournament, directed by Alan Priest, which included no electricity for the lighting in the first couple of rounds, so it was played in semi-darkness, which seemed to not bother Mr. Priest. After developing a splitting headache, due to the poor lighting, and losing a game, I withdrew from the tournament, but returned the following day to spectate. While Bryan was waiting on the last round games to finish a conversation developed. Bryan is a quite, taciturn young man, the kind of fellow who lets his moves do his talking. I learned he was from Anchorage Alaska, and he is now the first-ever Grandmaster from Alaska. My home state of Georgia has yet to produce a home-grown GM. I recall asking Bryan why he decided to travel to Louisville in lieu of playing in one of the other, larger, tournaments in his area. He answered in a way that said he would rather be a big fish in a small pond that weekend rather than being a smaller fish in a much larger pond. “Better odds of taking home money?” I asked, and he produced a grin. We talked for some time and I transcribed what was recalled of the conversation later that day, but never used it, much to my regret. Bryan graciously answered my questions so what I recall was an enjoyable afternoon conversation with one of the nicest GM’s with whom I have conversed.

I have replayed many Nadjorf games since moving on to playing other openings, but have not devoted time studying the Nadjorf system with the intensity shown earlier when playing the system. For some time I have wanted a book to read on the system in order to compare the way the system is played now as opposed to how it was played last century, but the books are usually dense and voluminous, with a heavy emphasis on variations. Some of the books could be used as a doorstop. When my review copy, published by Mongoose Press (https://mongoosepress.com/), arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only a small volume of 162 pages. The book is heavy on words, and ideas, rather than being yet another “data-dump.” Some have written books like the magnificent Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953,

by David Bronstein,

et al, cannot be published today because words, conveying ideas, are predominate. This book proves those writers wrong. Most of the variations included are short enough one does not need a board with which to visualize them. One of the players from my early days told me he liked to read a Chess book without using a board. There are enough diagrams for one to utilize this book in that way, which is exactly how I read the book. Then I read it again using a board and pieces because it is that good.

The book begins with an Introduction: The Cadillac of Openings.

“With this book, I present a collection of games played in the Najdorf Sicilian. The purpose of this book is not to be exhaustive – that would require at least ten times the content, and even then it would not encompass a fraction of the analysis and relevant games played in the Najdorf. This book also does not suggest a repertoire for either White or Black – although players can glean some ideas, since I have generally picked games played in the lines I favor. I think it is dishonest for a writer to try to portray an opening in only a positive light: ultimately, even the most objective writers of repertoire books have to massage the facts and minimize the problems of an opening – and every opening has them.

The purpose of this book, rather, is to show how to play the Najdorf, with White or Black, through archetypal games. I believe that by studying the games in this book, one can develop a solid general sense of the different types of game resulting from the Najdorf as played in the twenty-first century. It is my hope that readers will also gain some degree of enjoyment or entertainment from the games, which have been selected not only on their instructional merits, but also for their aesthetic value.”

The book will be judged by the criteria chosen by the author. The question is whether Bryan delivered on his promise. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Baseball terms this book is like hitting a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series!

Bryan continues the introduction. “Having a lifelong opening that one knows inside and out like one’s own house is a major advantage to a chess player. It means that the player can always rely on reaching position that he understands in general terms and knows something about. Perhaps more importantly, though, it gives confidence.”

Reading the above caused me to reflect upon my early days playing the Najdorf. I have never felt as confident playing any opening as I did when playing the Najdorf system. Why did I stop playing the Najdorf system? Bryan continues the introduction, “A sufficiently rich opening will provide immunity against the winds of theory – if one variation is refuted, another can be found, so long as the opening is built on proper principles. I believe the Najdorf can be such an opening. Some may imagine that is is a theoretical labyrinth, suitable only for those with an incredible memory and a willingness to play twenty or more moves of known theory before beginning the game. It is true that there are certain lines in the Najdorf where this is the norm – for instance, the Poisoned Pawn Variation (6.Bg5 e6 7,f4 Qb6). However, the reader will see in this book that these variations can be sidestepped, and that it is indeed possible to play the Najdorf “by the light of nature,” with experience providing a guide. Most of the games I have chosen feature ways of avoiding these quagmires. Despite its sharpness, the Najdorf is an opening built on solid positional principles. It is basically a positional opening.”

When first beginning the Chess road the Dragon variation was very popular. Once a strong player advocated against purchasing a book on the Dragon because “It is written in disappearing ink.” He said that because the theory was changing so fast by the time you read the book, much of it had been refuted. The same could have been said about the Najdorf system. I also recall reading something about there being players who knew the Najdorf, but did not know Chess. I was one of those people, because like others, I knew the Najdorf, but not Chess. After leaving Chess for Backgammon, upon my return to Chess I simply did not have time to keep abreast of the constantly changing theory of the Najdorf system, so decided to learn, and play, other openings. Yet what I learned about Bobby Fischer’s favorite opening has stuck with me, while the other openings never infused me with the confidence felt when playing the Najdorf system.

After the introduction, and before the first chapter, one finds, The Development Of the Najdorf Sicilian, a seven page historical perspective of the Najdorf system. It begins, “The Najdorf can trace its origins to the nineteenth-century German master Louis Paulsen.

Paulsen was an innovator of defense. In an era when 1.e4 e5 was the dominant opening and direct attacking play was the main method of winning, Paulsen understood the concept of asymmetrical play and counterattack. His openings and positional play were often a full century ahead of their time.”

Louis Paulsen was one of the most interesting, and underappreciated, players from the early days of the nineteenth century. Paulsen’s ideas influenced the development of the Royal game greatly. I played openings such as the C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation, for example.

Bryan gives a game between Lewis Isaacs and Abraham Kupchick played at Bradley Beach in 1928, writing, “A forgotten 1928 game from a tournament in the U. S. might be the first use of the “real” Najdorf.”

Lewis Isaacs vs Abraham Kupchik

Bradley Beach 1928

ECO: B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 b5 7. Bf3 e5 8. Nb3 Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Re1 O-O 12. Rc1 Nb6 13. Na5 Rb8 14. Nxb7 Rxb7 15. b3 Rc7 16. Qd3 Nbd7 17. Be3 Nc5 18. Qd1 Qa8 19. Bg5 Ncd7 20. Nb1 h6 21. Bd2 Rfc8 22. Ba5 Rc6 23. g3 Nc5 24. Nc3 Bd8 25. Bxd8 Rxd8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 Qc8 28. Red1 Ne6 29. Bg4 Rc5 30. Qd2 Rc3 31. Re1 Qc5 32. Re3 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Ng5 34. Qd3 d5 35. exd5 Rxd5 36. Qe2 Qc3 37. h4 Rd2 38. Qe1 Ne4 39. Bf5 Nf2 40. Bd3 Nxd3 41. cxd3 Qxd3 42. Rc8+ Kh7 43. Rc1 f5 44. a4 b4 45. g4 Re2 0-1

He culminates the chapter with, “Despite the opening’s great popularity and constant use at the top level for many decades, the Najdorf remains mysterious and has its unexplored areas, with the new ideas waiting to be born. Its attraction for the chess professional today is easy to understand, since it is an opening where it is possible to play for a win with Black, while it is also unquestionably sound. Although positionally and tactically very sharp, the Najdorf player still controls his own fate.”

Chapter one is titled, Va Banque: 6.Bg5. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 the author advocates Qc7. I never played any move other than 7…Be7 because, well, you know, that is the move played by Bobby Fischer. After studying the games, and positions, I came to understand why the author would advocate the move Qc7 for those taking their first Najdorf steps. The amount of material in the main line can be daunting for a neophyte. The fourth game of the chapter is one in which the author had white against Hristos Banikas at Retymnon in 2009. After the obligatory first five moves of the Najdorf Bryan played 6 Bg5, which was answered with Nbd7. “An old and new move – it was played frequently in the 1950s and again in the 2010s – and not so much in-between.” After 7 f4 we have Qc7.

The other chapters are:

2) The Classicist’s Preference: 6 Be2
3) Add Some English: 6 Be3
4) In Morphy’s Style: 6 Bc4
5) White to Play and Win: 6 h3
6) Systematic: g3
7) Healthy Aggression: 6 f4
8) Action-Reaction: 6 a4
9) Odds and Ends

To illustrate what I mean by the use of words, in lieu of variations, to explain what is happening on both sides of the board, look at the position from Game 11: Zaven Andriasian-Ian Nepomniachtchi, played at the 2010 Aeroflot Open in Moscow. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3

The reader finds, “The retreat of the knight to f3 rather than b3 changes nothing in the structure (at least not right away), but the choice of this square has a dramatic effect on the course of the game. In contrast to 7. Nb3, putting the knight on f3 leads to much quieter, more positional play, where White tries t dominate the d5 square. And why is this? Whereas 7.Nb3 allows for White to play f2-f3 with queen-side castling and a king-side pawn storm, after 7,Nf3 this is not possible. White will almost certainly castle king-side. In the meantime, b3 is left free as a retreat square for the bishop from c4. Consequently, rather than opposite-side castling and mutual attacks, you get a more positional struggle.”

Another fine example is from Game 14, Nigel Short

vs Garry Kasparov,

PCA World Championship, game 8, London 1993: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. f4 Nc5 9. e5 dxe5 10. fxe5 Nfd7 11. Bf4 b5

“In this way, Black places the bishop on its best diagonal (the long diagonal) before White can prevent it by Qd1-f3. Such a position might look good for White on the surface-the e5-pawn confers some space advantage and White has rapid development, plus the f-file is open and the white pieces are placed in threatening-looking positions. But such is the poison of the Sicilian. Black too has his advantages, and they tend to be more long-lasting. The bishop which will come to b7 will be very well placed. The advanced e5-pawn is not only a strength, but a weakness. And most importantly, Black has a well placed knight on c5 and a substantial advantage in space on the queen-side – the advance…b5-b4 is constantly looming over White, and the b3-bishop, if not activated in some dramatic fashion, could turn out to be a complete dud.”

One can turn to almost any page and find nuggets of wisdom such as the above illustrating the aims of BOTH SIDES! If one wishes to play the Najdorf system, or play against it, this is the book for you.

The author has dug deep, unearthing this game, found in the notes to Game 24, Judit Polgar

vs Dariusz Swiercz,

which I was unable to locate in any database. Bryan writes, “6…e6 is likely to be met by 7.g4, which looks like a fairly promising line for White – although 7…Nc6 is another possibility for Black to look into. Instead, the originator of 6.Qf3, American master Andrew Karklins, liked to continue with 7.b3. His record against grandmasters with this line was not very good, but he did have one major scalp:

Andrew Karklins

vs Peter Svidler,

World Open 1995

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Qf3 e6 7. b3 Qb6 8. Nde2 Qc7 9. Bb2 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. g4 d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13.
Bg2 Nd7 14. O-O Bd6 15. Qh3 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 Be5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Rad1 O-O 19.Qe3 Bb8 20. Ne4 Ne5 21. Bxe5 Bxe5 22. Nc5 Qc7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Rd7 Qb6 25. Rfd1 Rfd8 26. b4 a5 27. Qf3 axb4 28. axb4 Kf8 29. Kg2 Rdc8 30. R1d6 Qb8 31. Qd3 1-0

This book achieves its aim, hitting the target with a bullseye!

A Pawn In The Army Of The Righteous

The American Go E-Journal has a feature, Go Spotting. After reading the Tuesday February 13, 2018 edition, Go Spotting: Altered Carbon

I decided to check it out. In season one, episode six I heard something that caused me to write it down.

“You sound like a priest.”

“If we do not know our role in this world, why are we in it?”

“A pawn in the army of the righteous can be more powerful than a king who is without faith.”

Later I went to Mark Weeks blog, Chess for All Ages, (http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/02/another-ai-engine.html) and read, Another AI Engine, posted 16 February 2018, and clicked on the link, which led me to:

Hart House Chess Club

‘Where the Kibitzer is King’

WELCOME TO THE HART HOUSE CHESS CLUB!

The Official Chess Club of the University of Toronto

Some call it synchronicity. It made me think of a friend named Ron Sargent, who was shot in the face by a Viet Cong bullet. He underwent many operations. Some said he could have been a world class pool player. T I was playing in the first round of a weekend Backgammon tournament. My opponent, a nice woman who was a weak player. I had one checker left and was off next roll. She had four checkers left on her six point. Only one roll would win for her, double sixes. She rolled box cars. “Sposed to happen,” came a voice from behind me. It was Ron. I had to grin because he was right, it is supposed to happen once every thirty-six times, on average. “Oh Mike,” she said, “I’m sorry. You could win this tournament. What were the odds?” What could I say other than, “thirty-five to one.”

Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 (http://www.takeoverworld.info/Grand_Chessboard.pdf): “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html)

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=alan+priest)

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((http://www.chessdom.com/trouble-for-chess-as-swiss-bank-account-closed/))

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.
(https://www.quora.com/What-do-chess-players-think-of-Go-and-Go-players)

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (https://www.britgo.org/learners/chessgo.html)

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chess-go-chess-go-morozevich-beats-tiger-in-dizzying-match-2272) Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/morozevich-on-go-computers-and-cheating)

AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/putting-for-the-fences.html)

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-25/chinas-rise-americas-fall)

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/15/chinas-rise-didnt-have-to-mean-americas-fall-then-came-trump/?utm_term=.59f66290ffff)

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/03/is-chinas-rise-americas-fall/#41bd7a0d1e5f)

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)


http://georgiachessnews.com/2018/01/09/why-you-need-to-learn-xiangqi-for-playing-better-chess/

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html

THESE are my people

In an article at the Chessbase website, written by chess GM Peter Heine Nielsen, Grandmasters at the Shogi Forum (part 2), one finds, “The tradition of the best Japanese board game players, to be interested in a game other than their ”main” one is known from Nobel Prize winner Kawabata’s masterpiece “The Master of Go”.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/grandmasters-at-the-shogi-forum-2-2)

The title of Tiger Hillarp’s post, dated March 9, 2015, is, Virtual ascent to 1 dan. Tiger, a Chess GM, has become a dan Go player! Congratulations are in order for the Tiger! World chess champion Emanuel Lasker, who said, “. . . [it is] something unearthly . . . If there are sentient beings on other planets, then they play Go,” (http://www.kiseido.com/) would be proud of Tiger’s accomplishment. He writes, “After a rather long struggle to get up to 1 dan on KGS I finally managed the other day. It might seem like a rather small step for mankind, but it felt quite big to me and merited a rather bouncy and ungraceful dance around the livingroom. As a chess coach I always recommend my students to annotate their games and I do – of course – follow my own advice as I try to improve my go skills. Here are two examples that I have tried to make less go-diary-like.” (http://tiger.bagofcats.net/)

Tiger not only annotates two of his Go games, but also annotates the 39:th Kisei titel match, game 1, in his post dated February 18, 2015. (http://tiger.bagofcats.net/go/39th-kisei-titel-match-game-1/)

As many of you know I have spent time attempting to learn Go the past few years. From a crossword puzzle study at Georgia Tech, for which I was paid, under the supervision of graduate student, now Ph.D. Zach Hambrick, I learned Seniors who had worked crossword puzzles for a long time did not show the changes that those for whom, like me, it was a new experience. Current thinking is that the brain needs new stimulation as one ages. I do not want anyone, like the nattering nabobs of negativism who post on the USCF forum, to misconstrue my words as they have previously done so often. I do not know if the time I devote to chess is helpful or not. I do it because of the joy it brings. I do, though, know the time spent studying Go is beneficial for my brain, not to mention the fact that it, too, brings me immense joy. Having playing chess most of my adult life, Go is like entering a portal into a completely new and different universe. Whether it be chess, Shogi, Go, or even backgammon, it is all a game which we play. After all, we game players are all kindred spirits. One of my favorite stories comes from a wonderful woman involved with the Emory Castle Chess Camp (http://www.castlechess.org/dnn/). She said, “The very first year his mother brought him he was a tiny little thing, very serious, didn’t have many friends at school. She had been trying to help him by telling him he just needed to find the right people to make friends with. When they walked into the ballroom at Emory for Castle orientation and there were kids all over the floor playing blitz and bughouse, and his face lit up and he turned to her and said with a huge smile, “Mom…. I’ve found them, THESE are my people.”

Chess and Luck

Is there luck in chess? After receiving a “gift” from former World Champion Viswanathan Anand in sixth game of the current match for the championship of the world, World Champion Magnus Carlsen admitted he was “lucky.” When playing backgammon professionally decades ago some of my vanquished opponents would say, “You were lucky.” My response was invariably the same, “I had rather be lucky than good, because when I am good and lucky, I cannot be beat!”

I found this on the “Sabermetric Research” blog by Phil Birnbaum: Monday, January 14, 2013

Chess and luck

“In previous posts, I argued about how there’s luck in golf, and how there’s luck in foul shooting in basketball. But what about games of pure mental performance, like chess? Is there luck involved in chess? Can you win a chess game because you were lucky?

Yes.” (http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2013/01/chess-and-luck.html) Read the post to understand why Phil thinks there is luck involved in chess.

Later in the post Phil writes, “On an old thread (http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/poker_is_a_game_of_skill_not_luck/#27) over at Tango’s blog, someone pointed this out: if you get two chess players of exactly equal skill, it’s 100 percent a matter of luck which one wins. That’s got to be true, right?”

In #27 James writes, “I think it comes down to what is the relative difference in skill between players and the role of skill vs luck in a game.

If a game is 100% skill (say chess) and say for the sake of argument that the two players are perfectly equally skilled then who wins a single game is purely luck. Regardless of whether they are two unskilled beginners or the two best players in the world.

How do you differentiate between that and the two of them tossing a coin.”

Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were “the two players perfectly equally skilled.” Garry was obviously not the equal of Anatoly when they first met in the ill-fated match that went on for many months, with one short draw after another after Kasparov was down 0-5, until the slight Karpov neared collapse, when Kasparov won 3 games before FIDE President Florencio Campomanes ended the match, fearing one of the players may “drop dead at the board.” From the second match on, Kasparov was ever so slightly better than the much older Karpov. We know this because they played hundreds of games in many matches for the title. Games are played to determine who is the better player, and by what margin.

Because my friend the Discman played, and has followed, baseball, and because Sabermetrics emanates from the field of dreams, I asked him to read the post and let me know what he thought of luck in chess. This is his response:

“I have a much less esoteric and simplistic example of luck in chess. This happens frequently in over-the-board tournament games where neither player is being assisted by a computer. The frequency is directly correlated to the strength of the players, occurring less frequently the stronger the players are. At my level of play when facing competition of similar strength it occurred maybe once every 20-25 games. Here goes:

I’m sure you have heard it said that chess is 98% tactics and I generally agree with that. How many times have you gone back over your games and realized that you had made a significant oversight that your opponent could have taken advantage of, but also missed?

In many cases, seeing the correct combination to punish you was well within the skill level of your opponent, but for any number of reasons (he was having a bad day, he was distracted at that moment, his biorhythm’s were off, etc.) he just missed it.

If he had been put in that same situation next Tuesday instead of today he may very well have seen it. You were lucky that he missed it – he didn’t miss it because you were a stronger player than he was.

Sometimes the oversight is so simple a 1200 player could see it, like the time Leonard Dickerson missed a mate in 1 and got checkmated by a 1500 player. There was a simple defense to the checkmate – in fact the move Leonard made allowed the mate so it was truly a Helpmate. You could put Leonard in similar situations 10,000 times and he would make a similar mistake 1 time.

Did his opponent get lucky? Hell yes he did. You might argue that the 1500 player was better than the master at that one point in time but I don’t think so – he got extremely lucky that Leonard had a brain-fart that allowed a mate in 1.”

Luck in Chess?

‘Chess,’ said the Dutch grandmaster, Jan Hein Donner, ‘is as much a game of chance as blackjack; or tossing cards into a top hat.’ There was a pained silence, then a polite babel of disagreement: it was a game of the utmost skill; a conflict between disciplined minds in which victory would inexorably go to the more perceptive, the more analytical player; a duel of the intellect in which luck played no part. Donner shrugged, lit another cigarette and said: ‘Believe that if you like.’ Bent Larsen smiled the smile of a man who had heard his friend air such iconoclastic arguments in the past but was quite happy to contest them again, when the score of the fifth game of the World Championship match between Karpov and Korchnoi was brought in. Both men pulled out of their inside pockets the wallet sets all grandmasters seem to carry at all times and began to skim through the moves.

It happened that the teleprinter tape had been torn off after Karpov’s 54th move as Black […]. They studied the position for a few moments, mated Karpov in four moves and were surprised when another whole sheet of moves was brought from the teleprinter.

When they saw Korchnoi’s 55th move – Be4+ – Larsen’s eyebrows went up.

‘There you are,’ Donner said, quietly and without triumph as though some self-evident truth had been revealed, ‘pure luck’.

KORTSCHNOJ,V (2665) – KARPOV,AN (2725) (05) [E42]
WCH29-BAGUIO CITY, 1978

1. c4 Nf6 2. d4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. e3 c5 5. Nge2 d5 6. a3 Bxc3+ 7. Nxc3
cxd4 8. exd4 dxc4 9. Bxc4 Nc6 10. Be3 O-O 11. O-O b6 12. Qd3 Bb7 13.
Rad1 h6 14. f3 Ne7 15. Bf2 Nfd5 16. Ba2 Nf4 17. Qd2 Nfg6 18. Bb1 Qd7
19. h4 Rfd8 20. h5 Nf8 21. Bh4 f6 22. Ne4 Nd5 23. g4 Rac8 24. Bg3 Ba6
25. Rfe1 Rc6 26. Rc1 Ne7 27. Rxc6 Qxc6 28. Ba2 Qd7 29. Nd6 Bb7 30.
Nxb7 Qxb7 31. Qe3 Kh8 32. Rc1 Nd5 33. Qe4 Qd7 34. Bb1 Qb5 35. b4 Qd7
36. Qd3 Qe7 37. Kf2 f5 38. gxf5 exf5 39. Re1 Qf6 40. Be5 Qh4+ 41. Bg3
Qf6 42. Rh1 Nh7 43. Be5 Qg5 44. Qxf5 Qd2+ 45. Kg3 Nhf6 46. Rg1 Re8
47. Be4 Ne7 48. Qh3 Rc8 49. Kh4 Rc1 50. Qg3 Rxg1 51. Qxg1 Kg8 52. Qg3
Kf7 53. Bg6+ Ke6 54. Qh3+ Kd5
55. Be4+
[55. Bf7+ Kc6 56. Qe6+ Kb7 [56… Kb5 57. Qc4+ Ka4 58. Qa6#] 57. Qxe7+
Ka8 58. Qd8+ Kb7 59. Qc7+ Ka6 [59… Ka8 60. Qb8#] 60. Bc4+ b5 61.
Qc6#]

55… Nxe4 56. fxe4+ Kxe4 57. Qg4+ Kd3 58. Qf3+ Qe3 59. Kg4 Qxf3+ 60.
Kxf3 g6 61. Bd6 Nf5 62. Kf4 Nh4 63. Kg4 gxh5+ 64. Kxh4 Kxd4 65. Bb8
a5 66. Bd6 Kc4 67. Kxh5 a4 68. Kxh6 Kb3 69. b5 Kc4 70. Kg5 Kxb5 71.
Kf5 Ka6 72. Ke6 Ka7 73. Kd7 Kb7 74. Be7 Ka7 75. Kc7 Ka8 76. Bd6 Ka7
77. Kc8 Ka6 78. Kb8 b5 79. Bb4 Kb6 80. Kc8 Kc6 81. Kd8 Kd5 82. Ke7
Ke5 83. Kf7 Kd5 84. Kf6 Kd4 85. Ke6 Ke4 86. Bf8 Kd4 87. Kd6 Ke4 88.
Bg7 Kf4 89. Ke6 Kf3 90. Ke5 Kg4 91. Bf6 Kh5 92. Kf5 Kh6 93. Bd4 Kh7
94. Kf6 Kh6 95. Be3+ Kh5 96. Kf5 Kh4 97. Bd2 Kg3 98. Bg5 Kf3 99. Bf4
Kg2 100. Bd6 Kf3 101. Bh2 Kg2 102. Bc7 Kf3 103. Bd6 Ke3 104. Ke5 Kf3
105. Kd5 Kg4 106. Kc5 Kf5 107. Kxb5 Ke6 108. Kc6 Kf6 109. Kd7 Kg7
110. Be7 Kg8 111. Ke6 Kg7 112. Bc5 Kg8 113. Kf6 Kh7 114. Kf7 Kh8 115.
Bd4+ Kh7 116. Bb2 Kh6 117. Kg8 Kg6 118. Bg7 Kf5 119. Kf7 Kg5 120. Bb2
Kh6 121. Bc1+ Kh7 122. Bd2 Kh8 123. Bc3+ Kh7 124. Bg7 1/2-1/2

From The Master Game, Book 2, Jeremy James and William Hartston (1981). London: BBC.
(http://chess.eusa.ed.ac.uk/Chess/Trivia/Chessluck.html)