Chess Is In A World of Trouble

Chess is in trouble.

I realize the Royal Game appears to be in its heyday, but circumstances can be deceiving. Many will scoff because Chess has been enjoying a period of incredible popularity recently, which has put chickens in the pots of many players the all over the world. Yet for several reasons there are storm clouds gathering. The pandemic caused many to spend much more time at home at a time when contact could be made with anyone in the world via the internet. When Viswanathan Anand became World Chess Champion

Anand won the FIDE World Chess Championship in 2000 for the first time after defeating Alexei Shirov in the final at Tehran, Iran. (

it kindled a firestorm in India which brought untold millions into the game. Kenneth W. Gronbach is president of KGC Direct, LLC and author of the current book, “Upside: Profiting from the Profound Demographic Shifts Ahead“, which was recently released in April 2017. “A demographic winter refers to locations that are seeing significant declines in their birth rates, such as China, which has “changed from an aging country to an aged country,” he commented. In practical terms, this means more people dying than being born. India, on the other hand, has a growing populace and will likely be strengthened in the years ahead.” ( There are many Chess teachers in the US who teach only Indian students. With Anand covered with FIDE slime, how long will that last?

One of the most pressing problems with Chess is FIDE, the world Chess organization, which is led by a Russian stooge, Arkady Dvorkovich, known as Mad Vlad Putin’s “lapdog.”

Is Putin a king maker for the World Chess Federation? (

Former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand decided, for whatever reason, to join the ticket of current president of the World Chess organization, Arkady Dvorkovich,

Dvorkovich and Anand sending Vlad a signal? photo: FIDE

who is running for reelection. Anand, known as “Vishy”, had a stellar reputation while being admired and respected the all over the world. That ended immediately when he chose to join the nefarious Russians, who are performing genocide against a neighboring country as this is being written. The name “Anand” has now become besmirched the world over. Why would anyone in his right mind join the perpetrators of war crimes against civilians? Need I remind anyone the Russians are not only wantonly killing innocent women and children but also bombing their wheat fields! ( The wheat grown in Ukraine formerly fed much of the world, therefore Russia has, in effect, attacked the REST OF THE WORLD! Although not acknowledged, World War III has begun, thanks to the opprobrious Russians. And Vishy Anand has joined the villains.

World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen

decided to give up HIS title and who can blame him? The title of World Champion most definitely does NOT BELONG TO FIDE. That particularly corrupt organization can bestow the title on anyone, as it has done in the past. It matters not who is called the “World Chess Champion” when every Chess player in the world knows the best player is Magnus Carlsen. Awarding the title to another player will only cheapen the title, which has lost much luster over the years as changes were made to the World Chess Championship match format. Former World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik

once said, when asked, the match for the World Championship should be at least sixteen games. Even with the souped-up heebe-jeeb games, played with little time, the match for the World Championship is not played with sixteen games. Frankly, the World Championship lost luster when the match began using quick-play games to decide the Championship. It has reached a point where the Championship is virtually meaningless. The WCC cycle went from three years to a two-year cycle. Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend six months preparing for the match and do it again in little more than a year? Why would the World Champ want to face a player he defeated handily after that opponent, the Russian Ian Nepomniachtchi,

melted down during the last match. The candidates tournament that Nepo won in order to face Carlsen should not have been started. After it was stopped it was certainly a terrible mistake to resume the tournament after a lapse of one whole year. The next recently completed Candidates tournament was an unmitigated DISASTER! FIDE has egg, after it has been digested, all over their faces. Fact is, FIDE is covered head to toe in STUFF.
The World Chess Championship match has been a cash cow for FIDE, and you can bet your sweet bibby that, if reelected, Putin’s lapdog, the Dvork, and his second in command, Vishy, will milk that cash cow for all it is worth.

Younger people will ignore what I write because, well, you know, to them I am an old fogy. The thing about we “old fogies” is that we have been around awhile and have seen things change, sometimes in a heartbeat. I have written on this blog (or was it the forerunner, the BaconLOG? about how the game of Putt-Putt was once more popular than golf.

The players earned more cash playing Putt-Putt than did the golf professionals of the PGA (Professional Golf Association) because Putt-Putt was televised. Then the fad was over, in the beat of a heart. I have also written about how popular was Backgammon. ( After hitting the road to play the best I returned home to find Gammons closed. The “boom” had ended. As I write this the once popular card game of Bridge is on life support because the players have grown old(er) and not been replaced by younger players. ( The time to worry is not after interest wanes but when interest is booming, because when interest fades it is too late to do anything but cry in your beer.

2 Nf3 Versus The French

Decades ago when playing Backgammon professionally there was a story going around about the best player in the world, a fellow named “Ezra.” As the story went “Ezra” enjoyed spending time watching players new to the game. When asked why he would waste his time watching novice players yet to have found a clue the answer was he liked watched those new to the game because they had no preconceived ideas about how the game was played. For that reason I have always found watching the play of newbies interesting.

In the second round of the European Senior 65+ an unrated player, Ryszard Borowik faced class A player Roger S Scowen, rated 1864. The opening moves were 1 e4 e6 2 Nf3. Now, “Everybody knows” the best second move is 2 d4, because players are taught to “Control the center,” are they not? Playing 2 d4 has become de rigueur. Who checks to learn what the latest version of Stockfish plays on the second move? The AW, that’s who. I was shocked, SHOCKED, to see the version of Stockfish at plays 2 Nf3.

Ryszard Borowik UNR vs Roger S Scowen 1864
European Senior 65+ (round 2)
C00 French defence

  1. e4 e6 2. Nf3 d5 3. Qe2 dxe4 4. Qxe4 Nf6 5. Qh4 Be7 6. d3 c5 7. Nc3 Nd5 8. Qg4 Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bf6 10. Bb2 e5 11. Qe4 Nc6 12. O-O-O O-O 13. h4 g6 14. h5 Bf5 15. Qe3 Bg4 16. Qxc5 Bxh5 17. Qc4 Bxf3 18. gxf3 Bg5+ 19. Kb1 Rc8 20. Qe4 f5 21. Qc4+ Kg7 22. Qb3 Na5 23. Qb5 Nc6 24. Bc1 a6 25. Qb2 Bxc1 26. Qxc1 h5 27. Be2 f4 28. Rh2 Rf5 29. Bf1 Rg5 30. Bh3 Rc7 31. Qb2 Qd5 32. Bg2 b5 33. Qb3 Ne7 34. Kb2 Qc5 35. Bh3 Nd5 36. c4 Nb6 37. cxb5 axb5 38. Kb1 b4 39. Be6 Rc6 40. Bg8 Rc7 41. Rhh1 Qxf2 42. Rhf1 Qc5 43. Rd2 Qc3 44. Bh7 Qxb3+ 45. axb3 Kxh7 46. d4 exd4 47. Rxd4 Rg2 48. Rxf4 Rcxc2 49. Rf7+ Kh6 50. Ra7 Rb2+ 51. Ka1 Rxb3 52. f4 Ra3+ 53. Rxa3 bxa3 54. f5 gxf5 55. Rxf5 h4 56. Rf6+ Rg6 57. Rf3 Kh5 58. Rxa3 Rg3 59. Ra5+ Kg4 60. Ra6 Nd5 61. Rg6+ Kf3 62. Rd6 Nf4 63. Kb2 h3 64. Rh6 Rg2+ 65. Kc3 h2 66. Kd4 Ne2+ 67. Kd3 Ng3 68. Rf6+ Kg4 69. Rh6 h1=Q 70. Rxh1 Nxh1 71. Kc3 Kf4 72. Kd4 Rg5 73. Kd3 Rd5+ 74. Kc4 Ke4 75. Kc3 Rd4 76. Kb3 Kd3 77. Kb2 Rb4+ 78. Kc1 Ng3 79. Kd1 Rb1# 0-1!european-senior-65-2022/2005571260

GM Mikhail Bryakin 2441 RUS vs IM Balazs Csonka 2496 HUN
Titled Tuesday intern op 12th Apr Early 2022

1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.Qe2 dxe4 4.Qxe4 Nf6 5.Qh4 c5 6.b3 g6 7.Bb2 Bg7 8.Bb5+ Bd7 9.Bxd7+ Nbxd7 10.d3 O-O 11.Nbd2 Nd5 12.Qxd8 Rfxd8 13.Bxg7 Kxg7 14.g3 1/2-1/2 (From the ChessBaseDataBase)

The programs frown on 3 Qe2, preferring 3 exd5, as in the following games:

Magnus Carlsen (2857) vs Julio Catalino Sadorra (2560)
Event: 42nd Olympiad 2016
Site: Baku AZE Date: 09/08/2016
Round: 6.12
ECO: C00 French defence
1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.d4 Bd6 5.c4 Nf6 6.c5 Be7 7.Nc3 O-O 8.Be3 b6 9.b4 a5 10.a3 Ng4 11.Bf4 Re8 12.Be2 axb4 13.axb4 Rxa1 14.Qxa1 bxc5 15.bxc5 Bxc5 16.dxc5 d4 17.O-O dxc3 18.Bc4 c2 19.Qa4 Bf5 20.Nd4 Bg6 21.Nxc2 Re4 22.Bg3 Ne5 23.Bxe5 Rxe5 24.Ne3 Rxc5 25.f4 h6 26.Qb4 Nd7 27.f5 Bh5 28.Qd2 Qg5 29.Qd4 Re5 30.Qxd7 Qxe3+ 31.Kh1 Qc5 32.Qd3 Re3 33.Qc2 Qe5 34.Qd2 Kh7 35.h3 Qe4 36.Kg1 c6 37.Rc1 Qe5 38.Bf1 Rg3 39.Qf2 Qd6 40.Rc4 f6 41.Rxc6 Qxc6 ½-½

Vassily Ivanchuk (2704) vs Ian Nepomniachtchi (2714)
Event: SportAccord Blitz 2014
Site: Beijing CHN Date: 12/13/2014
Round: 1.8
ECO: C00 French defence
1.e4 e6 2.Nf3 d5 3.exd5 exd5 4.d4 Nc6 5.h3 Be6 6.Bd3 Qd7 7.O-O O-O-O 8.Nbd2 f6 9.Nb3 g5 10.Re1 g4 11.Nh4 Kb8 12.Qe2 Bf7 13.Bf5 Qd6 14.Bxg4 Nge7 15.c3 h5 16.Be6 Bg6 17.Nc5 b6 18.Nxg6 Nxg6 19.Qb5 Nh4 20.Kf1 Rh7 21.g3 Ng6 22.Bf5 Nce7 23.Bxg6 Nxg6 24.Re6 1-0

French 1. e4 e6 2. Nf3?

Sep 10, 2009

So I decided to start learning an opening or two at some point, and decided the French Defense would be one I would try out.

The books all have it. 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5

There’s an occaisional variation mentioned, but that’s the line the books say is the usual one.

When playing blitz on, the most common second move I see is Nf3. What’s up with that? Has some master found great success with that line, but my books are too old for it? I just bought a book on the French Defense. 269 pages of French Defense. I doubt I’ll ever slug my way through it, but I thought I would try really studying one opening in depth, and seeing where it leads. In all those 269 pages, published in 2003, they don’t even mention the possibility of Nf3, or bother telling the reader how to reply.

So, am I just running into lots of players who don’t know the “right” move, or has someone advanced some theory showing why 2. Nc3 is superior to what people did for the last 100 years? And is there a better response than d5?

The President of the Georgia Chess Association Replies

A different post was about ready to go when the decision was made to check the email, where this reply was found in the inbox:

J Parnell Watkins, Jr.

4:03 PM

Well written as always. I will ask you, just how many people walk away from a tournament with prizes? How many are motivated by the prize fund to play? Am I in a minority?


J. Parnell Watkins, Jr.
President, Georgia Chess Association

I would like to thank the POTGCA for his kind words.

His questions will be answered in order:

I have no idea “…just how many people walk away from a tournament with prizes.” If anyone does have an answer please share it with the POTGCA.

“How many are motivated by the prize fund to play?” can only be answered by asking each and every player in each and every section how motivated they were by the possibility of winning money. If one does that for every tournament for a year one would probably have enough information to answer the question.

As for the last question about possibly being in a minority, once again, how large a sample size do you need? I will begin by informing you, sir, that you are, indeed, in a minority!

Then again, I will admit Chess is different in some respects, which can best be illustrated by something that happened at Gammons, in the Piedmont Peachtree Crossing shopping center, in the 1980s. One day Steve Moffitt and I were there early and began conversing about Chess. Steve was a Texas junior Chess champion, and he asked if I would like to play a game. He had a set and clock in his trunk even though he had not played in years. Once a player… We decided to do as GM David Bronstein suggested and play a fifteen minute game. Since the game was drawn we set them up again. The second game was also drawn. A backgammon player had entered and was standing there watching the conclusion of the second game. He had no idea why we were shaking hands and smiling. “Who won?” he inquired. Steve said, “It was a draw.” He looked dumbfounded before incredulously saying, “You mean you SPLIT? Nobody paid off?” After wrapping his mind around the fact that no money had changed hands he asked, “So the only way to get paid is to win?” Steve told him that was the way it was. I added, and then immediately regretted it, “We were not playing for anything other than the love of the game.”

“What?!!?” he scoffed. “You mean you weren’t playin’ for ‘nuthin at all? What’s the point of playing?”

US Senior: Larry C. vs The Kentucky Lion

While the majority of the attention of the Chess World has been focused on the World Cup I have been focusing my attention on the US Senior, and US Junior, championships being contested in St. Louis, which is now considered a Covid “hot spot.” St. Louis County Is Now A ‘Red Zone’ For COVID-19, According To The CDC. A third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is coming, the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force warned yesterday. (

The hottest Chess spot in the USA is at the St. Louis Chess Club, where the intrepid boys, girls, and Men are battling it out over a Chess board in three separate tournaments, the US Senior; US Junior; and a completely separate “US Girls Junior Championship.”

Before the US Senior began I predicted the winner to be either Alexander Shabalov, or Larry Christiansen,

a man with whom I stayed up all night playing Backgammon, after he beat me handily at a simultaneous exhibition sponsored by Church’s Fried Chicken in the 1970s. I won the Backgammon battle. Larry kept looking at me with a look that said, “I beat this chumpy-lumpy like a drum at Chess. Why am I losing to the guy at Backgammon?” The stake was only a quarter a point, far below the stake for which I usually played, but it was Larry C., and Chess players don’t have much money, even those traveling the country giving simuls. Larry spent the night at the home of former Georgia Chess Champion Michael Decker, which is where we “rolled the bones.” Still, that twenty five cents would now be worth about two bucks, Chuck, if you get my drift…

Yesterday Larry had to face the Kentucky Lion, Gregory Kaidanov,!/quality/90/? Photo by: Claire Crouch

who had run away from the field, scoring 5 1/2 points in the first 6 rounds! He was a full point ahead of Larry C. at 4 1/2, who was a point and a half ahead of the four players with 3 points. Larry C. was in need of a victory. What do you play against an opponent who is obviously in form in that situation? You bring out “The truth as it was known in those far off days.”

Larry Christiansen (2634) Age: 65 vs Gregory Kaidanov (2626) Age: 61

U.S. Senior Championship 2021 round 07

C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

  1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Ne2 d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O Be6 8. Bxd5 Bxd5 9. f4 f6 10. fxe5 Nxe5 11. Nxd5 Qxd5 12. c3 Bd6 13. Nf4 Qf7 14. d4 O-O-O 15. Qa4 a6 16. dxe5 Bc5+ 17. Kh1 fxe5 18. Re1 exf4 19. Bxf4 Rhf8 20. Be5 g6 21. Qg4+ Qd7 22. Qc4 Qd5 23. Qg4+ Qd7 24. Qc4 Qd5 25. Qg4+ ½-½
  1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 Nc6 (SF plays 3…c6) 4. Nc3 (SF plays 4 Nf3) 4….Bb4 5. Ne2 (SF 080221 @depth50 plays this move, but the same engine chuggin’ only one more ply would play 5 Nf3) 5…d5 6. exd5 Nxd5 7. O-O Be6 8. Bxd5 Bxd5 9. f4 f6 (SF 13 @depth 41 plays the game move, but SF 14 @depth 33 would play 9…Bxc3) 10. fxe5 Nxe5 (SF takes with the knight, but Houdini would take with the pawn. There is only one game, found at 365Chess, with 10…fxe5, which can be found below) 11. Nxd5

(Komodo shows this move, but Deep Fritz would play 11 d4, which was played in:

GM Alexander Zaitsev 2473 RUS vs GM Klementy Sychev 2537 RUS

Wch Blitz 2018

1.e4 e5 2.Nc3 Nf6 3.Bc4 Nc6 4.d3 Bb4 5.Ne2 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.O-O Be6 8.Bxd5 Bxd5 9.f4 f6 10.fxe5 Nxe5 11.d4 Nc6 12.Nxd5 Qxd5 13.c3 Bd6 14.Nf4 Bxf4 15.Bxf4 O-O-O 16.Qf3 Qxf3 17.Rxf3 Rhe8 18.Kf2 Rd7 19.Re3 Rxe3 20.Bxe3 a5 21.a4 Re7 22.g4 Kd7 23.Rg1 Rf7 24.h4 Ne7 25.c4 Nc6 26.Bd2 Nxd4 27.Bxa5 Nc6 28.Bc3 f5 29.g5 g6 30.b4 Re7 31.Rd1+ Kc8 32.Bf6 Re8 33.b5 Ne5 34.c5 Ng4+ 35.Kf3 Ne5+ 36.Kf2 c6 37.h5 Nd7 38.Bd4 Re4 39.hxg6 hxg6 40.Kf3 Rg4 41.bxc6 bxc6 42.Bf6 Nxc5 43.Rc1 Ne6 44.Rxc6+ Kd7 45.Ra6 Nxg5+ 46.Ke2 Ne4 47.Be5 Nc5 48.Rd6+ Ke7 49.a5 Re4+ 50.Kf3 Rxe5 51.Rxg6 Ne6 52.Rg8 Rxa5 0-1) 11.Qxd5 12. c3 Bd6 13. Nf4 (SF and Houey play 13 d4) 13….Qf7 14. d4 O-O-O 15. Qa4 (SF 12 @depth 43 would play a move near and dear to my heart, 15 Qe2!) 15…a6 16. dxe5 (SF 31 @depth 31 would play 16 Qb3, but the SF program churning at ChessBomb would play the move Larry played in the game)
16…Bc5+ 17. Kh1 fxe5 18. Re1 (This is a TN, but not the best move. 18 Qe4 was played in the Mons vs Raggar game given below. Given the chance SF 170521 @depth 49 would play 18 Rf3)

Risto Eskola (2153) vs Antti Lehto
Event: FIN-chT 0203
Site: Finland Date: 10/20/2002
Round: 3
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Ne2 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.O-O Be6 8.Bxd5 Bxd5 9.f4 f6 10.fxe5 fxe5 11.Ng3 Bf7 12.Nce4 O-O 13.Qg4 Bg6 14.Be3 Qc8 15.Qxc8 Raxc8 16.a3 Be7 17.Rxf8+ Bxf8 18.Rf1 Nd4 19.Rf2 b6 20.Nc3 c6 21.Nge4 Rd8 22.Ng5 h6 23.Nge4 Be7 24.Kf1 Rd7 25.Kg1 Nf5 26.Bc1 Bh4 27.g3 Be7 28.Kg2 Nd4 29.Be3 Rd8 30.h3 Be8 31.g4 c5 32.g5 h5 33.Ng3 Bc6+ 34.Nce4 g6 35.Kf1 Kg7 36.Ke1 Rf8 37.Bxd4 exd4 38.h4 Rxf2 39.Kxf2 Kf7 40.b3 Ke6 41.a4 Ke5 42.Kf3 Bd5 43.Nf1 a6 44.Nd2 b5 45.axb5 axb5 46.Kg3 Ke6 47.Kf4 Bc6 48.Nf1 Be8 49.Nfd2 Bf7 50.Nf3 Be8 51.b4 cxb4 52.Nxd4+ Kd5 53.Nf3 ½-½

Leon Mons (2554) vs Markus Ragger (2701)
Event: TCh-AUT 2018-19
Site: Austria AUT Date: 01/18/2019
Round: 6.5
ECO: C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defence

1.e4 e5 2.Bc4 Nf6 3.d3 Nc6 4.Nc3 Bb4 5.Ne2 d5 6.exd5 Nxd5 7.O-O Be6 8.Bxd5 Bxd5 9.f4 f6 10.fxe5 Nxe5 11.Nxd5 Qxd5 12.Nf4 Qf7 13.c3 Bd6 14.d4 O-O-O 15.Qa4 a6 16.dxe5 Bc5+ 17.Kh1 fxe5 18.Qe4 Bd6 19.Rf3 exf4 20.Bxf4 Bxf4 21.Rxf4 Qd5 22.Qxd5 Rxd5 23.Raf1 Re8 24.R4f2 Kd7 25.g3 a5 26.Kg2 Re7 27.Rf7 a4 28.h4 h5 29.Rxe7+ Kxe7 30.Rf4 Rd2+ 31.Rf2 Rd1 32.Rf1 Rd5 33.Rf4 Rd2+ 34.Rf2 Rd1 35.Rf1 Rd6 36.Rf4 b5 37.Re4+ Kf6 38.Kf3 Rd3+ 39.Re3 Rd1 40.Re4 c5 41.Re2 Kf5 42.Rf2 Ke5 43.g4 Rh1 44.Kg2 Rxh4 45.Rf5+ Ke4 46.Rxc5 Rxg4+ 47.Kh3 g6 48.Rxb5 Kf3 49.Rd5 Rg3+ 50.Kh4 Rg2 51.Rd3+ Kf4 52.Rd4+ Kf5 53.Rd5+ Kf6 54.Rd6+ Ke5 55.Rb6 Kf5 56.Rb5+ Kf4 57.Rb4+ Kf3 58.Rb5 Rg4+ 59.Kh3 Rg1 60.Kh4 Rg4+ 61.Kh3 Kf2 62.Rd5 Rg3+ 63.Kh4 Rg4+ 64.Kh3 g5 65.Rf5+ Ke3 66.b4 Kd3 67.Rc5 a3 68.b5 Rg1 69.b6 g4+ 70.Kh4 Rb1 71.Rxh5 Rxb6 72.Ra5 Kxc3 73.Rxa3+ Kb4 74.Rb3+ Ka5 75.Rxb6 Kxb6 76.Kxg4 Ka5 77.Kf3 Ka4 78.Ke4 Ka3 79.Kd5 Kxa2 ½-½

Captain of Aircraft Carrier with Growing Coronavirus Outbreak Pleads for Help from Navy

My father was a Radioman for the U S Navy during Wordl War II. “Radioman (RM) was a rating for United States Navy and United States Coast Guard enlisted personnel, specializing in communications technology.” ( This was a time when “communications” were done using “Morse code is a method used in telecommunication to encode text characters as standardized sequences of two different signal durations, called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. Morse code is named for Samuel Morse, an inventor of the telegraph.” ( After the war my father became what was called a “ham,” short for radio operator. It was his avocation allowing him to keep in touch with other former Radiomen, and other “hams.” “Amateur radio, also known as ham radio, is the use of radio frequency spectrum for purposes of non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, private recreation, radiosport, contesting, and emergency communication. The term “amateur” is used to specify “a duly authorised person interested in radioelectric practice with a purely personal aim and without pecuniary interest;”[1] (either direct monetary or other similar reward) and to differentiate it from commercial broadcasting, public safety (such as police and fire), or professional two-way radio services (such as maritime, aviation, taxis, etc.).” (

My father would take me with him to something called a “Hamfest.” What I recall from those days was how nice to me were the other “hams.” He wanted me to get into ham radio and was disappointed when I showed little interest. Nevertheless, I listened, and learned. Three decades later I brought Gary Southerland, a Viet Nam vet and a chess playing “ham” to visit my father. They went down below to the radio room while I visited with my Mother. They were there for hours, with Gary eating lunch with my folks. On the way back to Gary’s apartment we talked about ham radio. Astounded at what I knew, Gary blurted, “You could be a HAM!” I disabused him of the notion by informing him I did not do Morse code.

Gene Nix is, among other things, Treasurer of the South Carolina Chess Association. Gene was nothing less than wonderful to me during my time in Greenville some time ago. Gene is also a retired Naval Officer, and a gentleman. Dean Creech lives in Greenville and found his way to Chess late in life. Before things took a drastic change for the worse Dean was playing, and directing tournaments in Greenville after retiring. Mr. Creech is also a Naval Officer.

Decades ago I met a young man through budding Doctor Frank Blaydes when he was attending classes at Georgia Tech. Jim R. was in Naval ROTC. When learning of my passion for the poetry for Robert Service, Jim R. purchased a large book containing three volumes of Service verse. After reading it Jim inscribed the book and gave it to me as a gift. He did this because, unlike most gamblers, I freely shared my approach to playing Backgammon. I did this because I was also a Chess player, and Chess players often shared their knowledge simply for the love of the game. Gamblers have an expression, “You’ve gotta pay to play.” For sharing with the younger fellows I was called “God.” Jim R. was chosen for submarine service. Many sailors want to become a part of the Submarine corp but few are chosen. Jim R. went into another world and I never saw him again. Frank became an MD. To be more specific, he was a GP, or General practitioner. In the medical profession, a general practitioner (GP) is a medical doctor who treats acute and chronic illnesses and provides preventive care and health education to patients. ( A GP is more commonly called a “Family Doctor.” This was at a time when most students were going into some kind of specialized care, which paid much more than a GP. Frank was from Hahira, Georgia, which is located in Southern Georgia. In order to cover more territory, because of the lack of Doctors in that part of our state, Frank learned to fly. While watching the news one evening I learned of the death of Frank Blaydes, MD, when his plane hit a tower in the fog. Needless to say, I was devastated.

These people put their lives on the line every day in service to our country. Some, like Jerry Waller, from my high school, was the battalion commander of three high school ROTC’s. Each year only one cadet is chosen to lead all three schools. He wanted to like General George Patton. Jerry died in Viet Nam and his name is the only one I know on the Viet Nam wall. I went to Central City Park when the mobile Viet Nam wall was there to view his name.

One of the boys who lived across the street from me, Tommy Twaites, joined the Army as Viet Nam was beginning. He died when loading a ship when something gave way and a couple of tons of material landed on him. Although this was during ‘Nam Tommy is not on the Viet Nam wall because he was stateside. The material was headed for Viet Nam.

I practically lived at a Boys Club while growing up. One of the adults working there was a young fellow on scholarship while attending Georgia Tech, a position I later earned. The first time we met he was reading a Model Railroad magazine. When asked if I could look at it, he replied, “You know something about model trains?” I told him about the gentleman who had lived next door to us who had a “layout” in his attic. I was the only boy in the neighborhood ever allowed in his “train room.” We bonded right then and there. I regret age has taken a tole and I can no longer recall his name, but I do know that he went to ‘Nam, and did not return.

These people I have known offered, and sometimes gave, their lives for this country. I dedicate this post to each and every one mentioned, and must include my friend, former Chess Champion of California, Dennis Fritzinger, who served in ‘Nam.

I urge you to read the following article. Unfortunately, the Captain is not the only one pleading for help which has not been forthcoming. In addition, if you deem it worthy, please forward it to someone you know, keeping in mind I do not, and have never earned one cent while writing this blog.

Exclusive: Captain of aircraft carrier with growing coronavirus outbreak pleads for help from Navy

Matthias Gafni and Joe Garofoli March 31, 2020 Updated: March 31, 2020 4 p.m.

“The captain of a nuclear aircraft carrier with more than 100 sailors infected with the coronavirus pleaded Monday with U.S. Navy officials for resources to allow isolation of his entire crew and avoid possible deaths in a situation he described as quickly deteriorating.

The unusual plea from Capt. Brett Crozier, a Santa Rosa native, came in a letter obtained exclusively by The Chronicle and confirmed by a senior officer on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which has been docked in Guam following a COVID-19 outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000 less than a week ago.

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do,” Crozier wrote. “We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors.”

USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS America Combat Force

All The Right Moves

During the interval between finishing the book

and writing the review a younger fellow came to the Ironman Chess club one evening with his lady friend on his arm. As an unknown he attracted much attention especially when playing his first game with one of the regulars, a class ‘B’ player with obvious mental problems (he is the kind of human who, when he comes in contact with a dog, the dog begins to growl before baring its teeth and barking. At the House of Pain it was commonly acknowledged the fellow, “Ain’t right.”). The newcomer had the ‘B’ player on the ropes, and was actually winning. The worse his position became the more afraid were we he might EXPLODE. Fortunately, the newbie blundered and lost the game and the frown and stare of his opponent turned into a smile while he “talked shit,” happy as a clam, while his opponent continued playing out the lost cause his game had become.

I was next in line to play a game with the newcomer. Before beginning the game I asked the young man a few questions, learning he had only played online Chess up to this point in his life. This made me think of the recently finished book, which was to be reviewed. While listening to the man I could see he had “The Look.” If you play any type of game you know about what I am talking. I have seen “The Look” many times throughout the course of my life. It has been noticed in not only Chess, but Backgammon and Poker. I even saw in in an opponent when playing Risk. Sure enough, we were the final two players in that particular game, and yes, I won. Writing about Risk reminds me of another game of Risk played in the Great State of Alabama many decades ago when returning from a Chess tournament. Big Al Hamilton, NM Michael Lucas, and I stopped at Doug King’s house and a Risk game was started. The three fellow Chess players were all from Alabama. When the game began Big Al looked at the other Bama brothers and said, “Let’s all attack Bacon and put him outta the game.” Since all three of them would play before my turn the of my chances surviving were minuscule. After being wiped from the board I upset the board and that ended the game. I regretted it immediately because I needed a ride back to Atlanta. Fortunately, the Bama bro’s were the understanding kind of fellows and I made it back without having to ride the ‘Hound…

It was obvious the younger man could play some Chess, and had played some Chess, but, like most newbies, he “attacked” with only his Queen and Knight, eventually “winning” my Queen’s Rook. Unfortunately for him he lagged in development and his “plan” allowed me to place pawns on both d5 and e5 while infiltrating the seventh rank with a Rook, which was en prise for several moves on d7 while his Knight on f6 could not move because of a deadly pin.

After resigning they decided to leave, but we did have a chance to talk, with my learning he was twenty-nine and a programmer. I highly recommended he read the book, All The Wrong Moves, but not for the reason he thought. The email exchange will explain:

Oct 15 at 10:12 PM
Hi Michael,

Enjoyed meeting & playing you tonight!

I went to buy “all the wrong moves”, but the book description says it’s a memoir – is that correct? I was under the impression that the book you recommended was a chess tutor book.

Michael Bacon
Oct 16 at 8:14 AM
Why would you have thought that? It’s about a 29 year old man who decides to enter the world of human Chess tournaments after first playing online. You NEED to read the book before taking another step into the Chess world.


To:Michael Bacon
Oct 28 at 10:24 AM
Just finished the book and really enjoyed it, thanks for the recommendation. I read it as a cautionary tale to not get into chess! It does seem like for certain people (like me!) chess can have an addictive quality, so I’d like to enjoy it more casually.

I don’t think I’ll be able to make a club meet up until late november!

Make of it what you will but I prefer to think it was synchronicity that brought the man to the club of Iron. I also like to think he attained that for which he was looking at the Ironman CC. I realize there are many “true believers” reading this who will disagree with me. You know the type. To them “Chess is the BEST AND GREATEST GAME OF ALL TIME!” They will ask, “Why did you do that? Chess needs more adults because currently the vast majority of humans who play Chess are children.” You know, the “Kill the messenger” kinda people. The fact is that I only gave the young man additional information to help him decide what to do with his time in the future. Besides, does the Chess world really need another stumble bum who gave up a promising career, and life, to do whatever it takes to get to the next round on time even though he may have to sleep on the floor underneath the table upon which a Chess game will be played in only a few short hours?

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.”


“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.”

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,

( 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. (

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

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

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

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”


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 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 (

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 (, 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, ( 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’


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.”