Theory Of Shadows: A Review

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

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

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

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

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

Paolo Maurensig.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was also found:

Who was Esteban Canal?

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


Lajos Steiner (1903-1975), by Len Leslie

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

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

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

“You mean being killed?”

The journalist nodded.

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

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

“I took my precautions.”

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

I’m thinking, “Just ask JFK…”

Jews and Chess:

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


Akiba Rubenstein

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


Aaron Nimzowitsch

Lasker,


Emanuel Lasker

and Reshevsky,


Sammy Reshevsky

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

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

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

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

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

Advertisements

Checkmate! The Love Story of Mikhail Tal and Sally Landau: A Review

Checkmate! The Love Story of Mikhail Tal and Sally Landau,

is a beautiful book written about a lifelong love between two people, one of whom, Mikhail Tal,
happened to win a World Chess Championship match against the man called “the patriarch of the Soviet School of Chess,” Mikhail Botvinnik. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/botvinnik-the-patriarch)

The book, written by Sally Landau, and published by Elk and Ruby Publishing Company (http://www.elkandruby.com/), is a wonderful history of a time long gone with the wind. The author brings to life a different time and the people who lived during the Soviet Communist period. The book, like a Chess game, has only three chapters, the opening by Sally, the middle by Gera, the son of Mikhail and Sally Tal, and the end, again by Sally.

She begins the book by writing about herself. “I am an inconsistent and impulsive person, who first does and only then thinks about what I have done. I am an ordinary, vulnerable woman, in which a womanly nature lived and lives, found joy and finds joy, suffered and suffers, in the full sense of those words. The way I see it, selfishness and a desire for independence somehow manage to coexist inside me with love for the people surrounding me and a subconscious wish to be a woman protected by a man who lives for me – protected by him from all sorts of major and minor everyday troubles.”

Later she writes, “Still sharp contradictions coexisted within me: on the one hand, this immense fear of losing my personal freedom, on the other hand, this equally immense fear of solitude and a subconscious desire to have a strong man beside me with whom I wouldn’t be afraid of falling off an overturned boat in the open seas, even if I didn’t know how to swim. These contradictions played a significant role in my life with Misha…”

She writes about her impression of what it was like being a Jew in the Soviet Union. “So it wasn’t the external appearance of the Tals’ apartment that struck me that evening. Rather, it was its anti-Soviet spirit that I sensed. I immediately inhaled this pleasant middle-class air. It was apparent straight away that the people living there were not “mass-produced” but very much “hand-crafted”, and that relations between them did not fit into the usual framework of socialist society.”

“Misha was born a frail child. He had two fingers missing from his right hand. When she (Ida, Mikhail Tal’s mother) first saw her son after he was brought to her and unwrapped from his swaddling clothes she again fainted in shock at the site of his three crooked fingers. She was unable to breastfeed. Her lack of milk was perhaps due to those shocks. She was treated for a long time after that.

“When he was just six months old, Misha was struck by a nasty meningitis-like infection with a very high temperature and convulsions. The doctor said that his chances of making it were remote, but that survivors turn out to be remarkable people. Well, Misha began to read at the age of three, and by the age of five he was multiplying three-digit numbers – while adults were still struggling to solve the math with a pencil he would tell them the answer.”

“He got “infected” with chess at the age of seven and began to spend nearly all his time at the chess club, nagging adults to play him.”

Gera was a Medical Doctor and qualified to write about Tal’s well known medical problems.

“Well, the actual start of my father’s physical ailments, however banal it may sound, was the fact of his birth. Ever since then he simply collected illnesses. But the fundamental cause of course was his totally pathological, nephrotic kidney. It tortured him relentlessly. People suffering from kidney disease know that there is nothing worse in the world than pains in the kidneys. I don’t understand how such people can even exist, let alone play chess. I’m sure that it wasn’t my father who lost the return match to Botvinnik,

but his diseased kidney.”

“My father treated his life like a chess game, somewhat philosophically. There’s the opening, then the opening transposes into the middle game, and if no disaster strikes in the middle game you get into a dull, technical endgame, in which a person ultimately has no chances. As far as I know, father didn’t gain pleasure from playing endgames – he found them boring and insipid. Force him to give up smoking, brandy, partying and female admirers – basically, the source of intense experiences in the middle game of life – and he would find himself in the endgame, when he would have nothing left to do other than passively see out the rest of his life. However, that would have been a different person just resembling Tal. And what’s the difference – to die spiritually or die physically if you can no longer be Tal?”

Throughout their life, together and apart, Mikhail and Sally had other loves and lovers, yet remained friends. A love interest of his was written about but only named by the letter “L.” Research shows this was Larisa Ivanovna Kronberg,

a Soviet/Russian actress and a KGB agent. She was named Best Actress at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival for her performance in A Big Family. In 1958, she was involved in the Ambassador Dejean Affair, Kronberg lured Dejean in a honey trap. She was in a long-time relationship with World Chess Champion Mikhail Tal in the 1960s, they parted in the 1970s. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larisa_Kronberg)

Sally had an affair with a man about whom she writes, “I won’t name him in the book. Why? Let’s say he was a high-up government official…I will call him “The Minister”…Let that be his name here.” Reading this caused me to reflect upon something IM Boris Kogan said decades ago about the KGB. “Mike, KGB like octopus with many tentacles that reach everywhere!” The relationship between Sally and “The Minister” was doomed to failure because a good Soviet communist did not consort with a Jew. Sally writes, ” Misha was such a unique person! I was living with Alnis; at the time he was effectively a common-law husband; and Misha understood that perfectly well. And yet, while he treated Alvis with respect, he continued to consider me his only woman and the most important woman in the world – his Saska. Alnis took quite a liking to Misha, saw what a remarkable person he was, and would say of him: “Tal isn’t a Jew. Tal is a chess genius.”


Tal playing the husband of his former wife Joe Kramarz, not only a Chess player but a HUGE fan of Mikhail Tal!

The book is replete with things like this from Yakov Damsky writing in Riga Chess, 1986. “He has a wonderful ability with language and always has a sharp wit. I remember, for example, after a lecture some tactless dude asked Tal: “Is it true you’re a morphinist?” to which Tal instantly replied: “No, I’m a chigorinets!”

“Petrosian once joked morbidly: “If I lived the way Tal does I would have died a long time ago. He’s just like Iron Felix.” (The nickname of Felix Dzerzhinsky, the founder of the KGB)

Having worked at the House of Pain I got a kick out of this: “Chess players talk to each other in the language of notation. I was always amazed at this. Although I understood nothing of it, I listened to them as though they were aliens, observing their emotions. If, for example, Tal, Stein and Gufeld got together, their conversation could flow along the following lines:

Gufeld: What would you say to knightdfourfsixbishopg2?
Stein: Bishopgsevenfgknightdefivecheck!
Tal: Yes but you’ve forgotten about if knightfsixintermezzoqueenheight!
Gufeld: Pueenheightrookgeightwithcheckandrooktakesheight and you’re left without you mummy!
Tal: But after bishopeone you’re left without your daddy!
Stein: Bishopeone doesn’t work because of the obvious knighttakesoneecfourdekinggsevenrookasevencheck!

And this wonderful chitchat would continue endlessly, with people not “in-the-know” thinking they were in a madhouse.”

During tournaments at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center it could be, at times, a “Madhouse of Pain.”

A player would walk up talking about his game in these terms while having the position clearly in his mind. I, on the other hand, had no clue, but would nod in agreement, or frown when called for, while commiserating with the player, understanding, but not understanding, if you get my drift. The worst was when two players who had just finished their game would come downstairs talking in variations, bantering back and forth, then look at me asking, “What do you think, Mr. Bacon?!” To which my usual response was, “That’s a heckofaline!” Hopefully they would smile and nod in agreement before giving way to the next player or players wishing to tell me all about their game…

“A grandmaster said to me once: “When Misha finds himself in a hopeless position, his head tells him this but he doesn’t believe that he, Tal, has no chances. He starts to seek a saving combination, convinced that such a combination exists – it’s just a matter of locating it. And as a rule he finds it. However, despite all its beauty and numerous sacrifices, the combination turns out to be flawed, and then the defeat becomes for him even more painful and humiliating than if he had been physically dragged face down in the road.”

After reading the above I reflected upon a game recently played over contain in the latest issue of Chess Life magazine. In reply to a letter to the editor GM Andy Soltis writes, “Good point, Dr. Seda-Irizzary. Tal is a splendid example because he understood the principle of “Nothing Left to Lose.” That is, when you are truly lost, you should forget about finding a “best” move that merely minimizes your lost-ness.” The game follows:

Vassily Smyslov

vs Mikhail Tal

Candidates Tournament Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade 10/03/1959 round 15

B42 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Bd3

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.Nxc6 bxc6 7.O-O d5 8.Nd2 Nf6 9.Qe2 Be7 10.Re1 O-O 11.b3 a5 12.Bb2 a4 13.a3 axb3 14.cxb3 Qb6 15.exd5 cxd5 16.b4 Nd7 17.Nb3 e5 18.Bf5 e4 19.Rec1 Qd6 20.Nd4 Bf6 21.Rc6 Qe7 22.Rac1 h6 23.Rc7 Be5 24.Nc6 Qg5 25.h4 Qxh4 26.Nxe5 Nxe5 27.Rxc8 Nf3+ 28.gxf3 Qg5+ 29.Kf1 Qxf5 30.Rxf8+ Rxf8 31.fxe4 dxe4 32.Qe3 Rd8 33.Qg3 g5 34.Rc5 Rd1+ 35.Kg2 Qe6 36.b5 Kh7 37.Rc6 Qd5

38.Qe5 Rg1+ 39.Kh2 Rh1+ 40.Kg2 Rg1+ ½-½

I conclude the review with this paragraph:

“Salo Flohr,

with whom I was great friends, once showed me around the Moscow chess club, and told me, pointing at the photos of world champions on the wall: Sallynka, look at them. They are all the most normal, mad people.” Well, I’m ever thankful that I lived my life among such “normal, mad people” as Misha,

Tigran,

Bobby,

and Tolya Karpov.

(Garry Kasparov is also a genius, but not mad – that’s my opinion, anyway.)”

I enjoyed this wonderful book immensely. Anyone with a love of the history of the Royal Game will be greatly rewarded for spending their time reading a beautifully written love story surrounded by the “mad men” who play the game of Chess. Please keep in mind I have told you not all the words.
I give it all the stars in the universe!

Dark Side of the 2015 US Chess Championship

At the beginning of February an interesting article appeared on the USCF website, “Shankland on his Rise From GM to Top Hundred: Part I” By GM Sam Shankland, dated February 3, 2015. After perusing the article I went to the trouble of cutting and pasting it in order to save it in hopes of being able to read it later. Part II appeared February 12, 2015 and I once again copied and saved the article. Although I have had the time I have yet to go back to it, but it has been on my mind.

I brought the article to the attention of the Legendary Georgia Ironman. When I mentioned the games were not complete, but truncated, with diagrams, Tim related something he had seen decades ago at a major tournament such as the New York or World Open. The Ironman recalled being near when now FM Miles Ardaman wanted GM William Lombardy to look at a position. “Do you have the moves leading up to the position?” asked Father Lombardy. Miles said he did not, and the GM said, “In that case I have no interest in the position whatsoever,” and walked away.

I was gratified to here this because I, too, have always felt that past is prologue, and if you do not know where you have been, you do not know where you are going. It means something because there is the “chess door” principle. The higher rated players walk through the door first and a Grandmaster enters before a floored Expert. One of the wonderful things about the game of chess is that it matters not what title one has in the world outside of chess. It does not matter what elected office one holds in the chess world, or how many times one posts on any chess forum, the only thing that matters is one’s strength at playing the Royal game.

The Ironman said he could not understand why the opening moves had not been given in light of the fact that an article on the endgame in a recent Chess Life by IM Danny Kopec on the “Browne Endgame” contained the moves leading up to the position in the diagram, “Just like the endgame book Smitty had squirreled away you found at that downtown library book sale.” The Ironman was referring to, Exploring the Endgame by Peter Griffiths. He also made a comment about how the USCF does not have an interactive feature as do most, if not all, chess websites. “The USCF is so far behind the times it has 1995 type features,” he said. The Ironman is correct because it is a fact the USCF has been behind the curve when it comes to anything computer for the past quarter century, if not longer.

The Ironman also decried that such an article would be posted on the scroll at the USCF online website in lieu of in the magazine. I concur with the Ironman’s astute assessment of the situation. Chess Life proudly boasts on the cover that it is, “The World’s Most Widely Read Chess Magazine.” Would that not seem to be reason enough to have the article included in the moribund magazine? As it is, to read the article I would need to have my computer sitting next to my chessboard, which is possible with a laptop, but not for someone like Tim who has a much larger home unit. Even with a laptop it is unwieldy with a board, and I have never done so. When I have my board on the table I have a book or magazine, open.
I realize it is possible to print out the article, but I have no printer. I also realize it would be possible to obtain the missing moves by finding the games online, but why should I have to go to all the trouble, especially when there is so much chess readily available online, and all I have to do is plug in and turn on without having to jump through all those hoops?

I mention this because the US Championship is only about a week away, and there may not be any better article to read before the first round begins. “I did not know Wesley So was playing this year,” the Legendary one exclaimed the other day. “Now I am really FIRED UP!” The Ironman is not the only one…it is almost time for Yaz & Jen, not to mention Maurice & the ‘puter…I can hardly wait!

Yet there is a dark side to the tournament…This can be found on the USCF forum:

Post: #289601 by sunmaid on Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:58 pm
Last year Kamsky, Akobian and Lenderman tied for first place at the US championship and it was only through a very unfair playoff system that Gata Kamsky was ultimately crowned champion. Since Kamsky and Akobian are in, I think it would have been a wise decision to give the wild card entry to Alex Lenderman. Sam Sevian is an exciting young player, but he will get his chance in many years to come to play in this tournament.
http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php&f=24&t=21044

It is a travesty that one of the players who TIED FOR FIRST PLACE last year is not included in the field this year. This brings SHAME on all involved with the tournament, and especially on the pooh-bahs of the USCF, who obviously have no shame. Only someone like Darth Cheney would be content with this sorry state of affairs…(http://www.ora.tv/offthegrid/senator-angus-king-vs-darth-cheney-0_4ub9v4vxhn35)

Shankland on his Rise From GM to Top Hundred: Part I
By GM Sam Shankland
February 3, 2015
http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12944/798/

Shankland on his Rise From GM to Top Hundred: Part II
By GM Sam Shankland
February 12, 2015
http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12954/798/

GM Sam Shankland – Official Site
http://www.samshankland.com/index

“Big Bad” Badrakh Galmandakh Plays the Mieses Opening

Unlike most chess fans I look forward to the opening round of an Open event in lieu of the final round because the last round usually devolves into a song by Big Maybelle, better known from the 1957 rockabilly song by Jerry Lee Lewis, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.” Or as the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who has done a fair amount of shakin’ himself, has been heard to say, the last round usually turns into a “Big ‘ol group hug.” The first round is more interesting because of the huge rating disparity, affording the possibility of an upset. Players of my level, “weakies” according to Bobby Fischer, have a chance at glory. Lower rated players can benefit from playing over the games of other lower rated players in order to discern where they went wrong; what kind of mistakes they made. In addition, more “offbeat” openings are played in the opening round and not the “round up the usual suspect” openings. It may be true that one should play so-called “main lines,” but how interesting is it to play over a game when the same twenty moves have been trotted out yet again?

In the opening round of the recent 2015 Tradewise Gibraltar Chess Festival Badrakh Galmandakh, representing Mongolia, rated 2240 by the FIDE, sat down behind the White pieces to battle GM Alexander Motylev, rated 2665, the 78th highest rating in the world. As he played his first move Badrakh reached for his Queen pawn, and moved it one square, to d3. This caused me to think of the famous game between World Champion Anatoly Karpov and English GM Tony Miles at the 1980 European Team championship when, in reply to Karpov’s first move of 1 e4, Tony answered with a move which shocked Karpov and stunned the chess world, 1…a6. The game ended in victory for the Englishman.

Upon reflection I also considered something contained in the regular column by GM Andy Soltis in the January issue of Chess Life magazine, “It seems to me that in non-standard positions, chess players have become significantly weaker,” GM Boris Gulko said in a recent Chesspro.com interview. “Because all their strength and energy goes into working with the computer.”

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – GM Motylev, Alexander (2665)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 1
1.d3 d5 2.e4 dxe4 3.dxe4 Qxd1+ 4.Kxd1 e5 5.Be3 Nf6 6.f3 Nbd7 7.Nd2 a5 8.a4 Bc5 9.Nc4 Bxe3 10.Nxe3 Nc5 11.Nc4 Nfd7 12.Nh3 Ke7 13.c3 Nb6 14.Nxb6 cxb6 15.Bc4 Bd7 16.b3 Rac8 17.Bd5 Rc7 18.Nf2 Rhc8 19.Kc2 f5 20.c4 fxe4 21.Nxe4 Na6 22.Kb2 Nb4 23.Rad1 Bf5 24.Rhe1 Rd8 25.Ng3 Nd3+ 26.Kc3 Nxe1 27.Nxf5+ Kf6 28.Ne3 Nxg2 29.Nxg2 h5 30.Ne3 g5 31.Rg1 Rg7 32.Be4 Rdd7 33.Nd5+ Ke6 34.h3 Rd6 35.Ne3 Rd8 36.Bd5+ Kf6 37.Rg2 Rgd7 38.Be4 Rg7 39.Nd5+ Ke6 40.Nxb6 Rd1 41.Rh2 Rc1+ 42.Kb2 Re1 43.Nd5 Kf7 44.Nc3 Ke8 45.Kc2 Ra1 46.Kd2 Rf1 47.Bd5 Kd8 48.Ne4 Ke7 49.Ng3 Ra1 50.Kc3 Rg6 51.Bxb7 Re1 52.Be4 Rb6 53.Bd3 Rf6 54.Be2 Kd7 55.Nxh5 Rb6 56.Bd3 Re3 57.Rf2 Rd6 58.Rd2 Rxf3 59.Kc2 Ke7 60.Ng7 e4 61.Bxe4 Rxd2+ 62.Kxd2 Rxh3 63.Nf5+ Kf6 64.Ne3 Ke5 65.Bg2 Rh7 66.c5 Kd4 67.c6 Rc7 68.Nc4 g4 69.Na3 Kc5 70.Nb5 Rc8 71.c7 Kb6 72.Ke3 Rf8 73.Bh1 g3 74.Bg2 Rf2 75.c8=Q Re2+ 76.Kf4 Rf2+ 77.Bf3 1-0

Like I said, everyone loves an upset, except the one having been upset. Galmandakh did not stop there, but played 1 d3 again, and again. He played it in all five games in which he opened the game!

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – GM Bartel, Mateusz (2631)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 3
1.d3 b5 2.e4 Bb7 3.Nf3 g6 4.Bd2 Bg7 5.Bc3 Nf6 6.a4 a6 7.axb5 axb5 8.Rxa8 Bxa8 9.g3 c5 10.b4 cxb4 11.Bxb4 Nc6 12.Bc3 b4 13.Bb2 Qb6 14.Qe2 b3 15.c3 O-O 16.Bg2 d5 17.exd5 Nxd5 18.O-O Qa5 19.Nfd2 Rb8 20.Nc4 Qd8 21.d4 Na7 22.Nbd2 Nb5 23.Qd3 Nbc7 24.Na5 Ne6 25.Qa6 Ndf4 26.Nc6 Bxc6 27.Qxc6 Nd3 28.Rb1 Qa5 29.Qc4 Qf5 30.f4 Nxb2 31.Rxb2 Qc2 32.Rxb3 Rd8 33.d5 Qxd2 34.dxe6 Qe3+ 35.Kh1 Rd1+ 36.Bf1 fxe6 37.Kg2 Kf7 38.Rb2 Bf6 39.Re2 Qb6 40.Qb4 Qc6+ 41.Qe4 Qd6 42.Re1 Rd2+ 43.Re2 Bxc3 44.Rxd2 Qxd2+ 45.Kh3 Qd5 46.Bd3 Bd4 47.Qxd5 exd5 48.Kg4 Kf6 49.h4 Bf2 50.Kf3 Be1 51.h5 gxh5 52.Bxh7 e5 53.fxe5+ Kxe5 54.Bg6 Ba5 55.Kg2 h4 56.gxh4 Kf4 57.Bh7 d4 58.Kh3 Kf3 59.Bg6 Ke2 60.Kg2 d3 61.Bxd3+ Kxd3 ½-½

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – IM Das, Arghyadip (2476)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 5
1.d3 c5 2.g3 Nc6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 g6 5.O-O Bg7 6.Nbd2 e6 7.e4 Nge7 8.a4 b6 9.Re1 h6 10.h4 a5 11.Nf1 Ba6 12.c3 d4 13.c4 e5 14.Bh3 O-O 15.h5 Qd6 16.N1d2 Nb4 17.Ra3 Bb7 18.Nh4 Bf6 19.Ndf3 Kh7 20.Kg2 Nbc6 21.Rh1 Ng8 22.Bg4 Kg7 23.Bd2 Nce7 24.Qc1 Bxh4 25.Nxh4 f5 26.Bf3 fxe4 27.Bxe4 Bxe4+ 28.dxe4 g5 29.Bxg5 hxg5 30.Qxg5+ Kh7 31.Ng6 Rf6 32.Qxe5 Nxg6 33.hxg6+ Kxg6 34.Qxd6 Rxd6 35.Rd3 Re8 36.Re1 Rde6 37.f3 Nf6 38.Rd2 Nxe4 39.fxe4 Rxe4 40.Rxe4 Rxe4 41.Kf3 Kf5 42.Rd3 Re1 43.g4+ Kg5 44.Rb3 Re6 45.Kg3 Rd6 46.Rf3 d3 47.Rf5+ Kg6 48.Rf1 d2 49.Rd1 Rd4 50.b3 Kg5 51.Kf2 Kxg4 52.Ke3 Kg3 53.Rg1+ Kh2 54.Rd1 Kg2 55.Ke2 Rd6 56.Ke3 Re6+ 57.Kd3 Kg3 58.Kc2 Rd6 59.Rh1 Kg2 60.Rd1 Kf3 61.Rxd2 Rxd2+ 62.Kxd2 Kf2 63.Kd3 Ke1 64.Ke4 Kd2 65.Kd5 Kc3 66.Kc6 Kxb3 67.Kxb6 Kb4 68.Kc6 Kxc4 0-1

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – GM Tarjan, James E (2518)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 7
1.d3 g6 2.g3 Bg7 3.Bg2 c5 4.Nf3 Nc6 5.O-O e5 6.c4 Nge7 7.Nc3 d6 8.Ne1 Be6 9.Nc2 d5 10.cxd5 Nxd5 11.Ne4 Qe7 12.Ng5 O-O 13.Nxe6 Qxe6 14.Ne3 Nde7 15.a4 Rad8 16.Nc4 Rd7 17.a5 Rc8 18.Bd2 Nd5 19.Qa4 Nd4 20.Rfe1 b5 21.axb6 axb6 22.Na3 Nc7 23.Qc4 b5 24.Qxe6 Ncxe6 25.Be3 Rb8 26.Rac1 Bf8 27.Kf1 Rd6 28.Bxd4 Rxd4 29.Nc2 Rd7 30.Ra1 ½-½

Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240) – IM Docx, Stefan (2450)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 9
1.d3 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.e4 Bc5 4.Nxe5 Bxf2+ 5.Kxf2 Nxe5 6.d4 Nc6 7.c3 Qh4+ 8.g3 Qxe4 9.Bd3 Qd5 10.Re1+ Nce7 11.Na3 d6 12.Be4 Qe6 13.Bxb7 Qf5+ 14.Qf3 Qxf3+ 15.Bxf3 Rb8 16.b3 Bb7 17.d5 Nf6 18.Bg5 Kd7 19.c4 Ng6 20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Nb5 Ne5 22.Be4 a6 23.Nd4 Rbe8 24.Kg2 c5 25.dxc6+ Nxc6 26.Bxc6+ Bxc6+ 27.Nxc6 Kxc6 28.Rxe8 Rxe8 29.Rf1 Re6 30.Rf5 Re2+ 31.Rf2 Re6 ½-½

Badrakh Galmandakh faced three GM’s, and two IM’s, and battled them to a draw with the Mieses opening, scoring 2 1/2 out of 5 games. He was out rated by an average of 308 points and finished the tournament with a PR with White of 2548.

If you are curious, as was I, about how he played as Black, here are the games:

IM Donchenko, Alexander (2511) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 2
1.d4 d6 2.Nf3 Bg4 3.e4 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.h3 Bh5 6.Qe2 d5 7.Qb5+ Nbd7 8.exd5 Bxf3 9.gxf3 exd5 10.Nxd5 Bd6 11.Qe2+ Kf8 12.Nc3 Bb4 13.Bd2 Bxc3 14.bxc3 c5 15.Bg2 Qc7 16.O-O h6 17.Rab1 g6 18.f4 Rb8 19.f5 b6 20.fxg6 fxg6 21.Qf3 g5 22.Qf5 Rg8 23.Rbe1 Re8 24.Rxe8+ Kxe8 25.Re1+ Kd8 26.Re6 Rf8 27.d5 Qb8 28.c4 Nh5 29.Qh7 Nf4 30.Qe7+ Kc8 31.Rc6+ Kb7 32.Qxd7+ Ka6 33.Rc7 1-0

IM Georgiadis, Nico (2490) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 4
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.a4 a5 8.Re1 c6 9.h3 Qc7 10.Be3 exd4 11.Nxd4 Nb6 12.Bb3 Nfd7 13.Nf5 Nc5 14.Bd4 Bxf5 15.exf5 Kh8 16.Qg4 f6 17.Be6 d5 18.b3 Bd6 19.Bxc5 Bxc5 20.Ne2 Bd6 21.Rad1 Rae8 22.Nd4 Bb4 23.Re2 Nd7 24.Bxd7 Rxe2 25.Qxe2 Qxd7 26.Ne6 Re8 27.c4 g6 28.cxd5 cxd5 29.Qd3 gxf5 30.Nf4 d4 31.Qxd4 Re1+ 32.Rxe1 Qxd4 33.Re8+ Kg7 34.Ne6+ Kf7 35.Nxd4 Kxe8 36.Nxf5 Kd7 37.Kf1 Ke6 38.Nd4+ Ke5 39.Nc2 Bc5 40.Ke2 Ke4 41.g3 Bd6 42.f3+ Kd5 43.Ne3+ Kc5 44.Nf5 Bc7 45.Kd3 Kb4 46.Kc2 Bb6 47.h4 Bc5 48.h5 Bf2 49.g4 b5 50.axb5 Kxb5 51.Nd6+ Kb4 52.Ne8 Bd4 53.Nc7 Be5 54.Ne6 Bd6 55.Nd4 Bc7 56.Ne6 Bd6 57.Nd4 Bc7 58.Ne2 Be5 59.f4 Bc7 60.Nc3 Bd8 61.Ne4 h6 62.Nf2 Kc5 63.g5 fxg5 64.fxg5 Kd5 65.g6 Bf6 66.Ng4 Bg7 67.Kd3 Bf8 68.Ke3 Ke6 69.Ke4 Bg7 70.Ne3 Bc3 71.Nf5 Bd2 72.Nd4+ Kf6 73.Kd5 Be3 74.Ne6 Bd2 75.Nd4 Bc3 76.Ne6 Bb2 77.Kd6 Ba3+ 78.Kd7 Bb2 79.Kd6 Ba3+ 80.Nc5 Bb2 81.Kd5 Kf5 82.Ne6 ½-½

Skutta, Bernd (2059) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 6
1.d4 d6 2.e4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.O-O O-O 7.Re1 c6 8.a4 a5 9.b3 exd4 10.Nxd4 Nb6 11.Bf1 d5 12.e5 Ne8 13.Nce2 g6 14.Nf4 Ng7 15.Bb2 f6 16.e6 Bd6 17.Qf3 Qc7 18.g3 Be5 19.Bh3 Qe7 20.Ba3 Bd6 21.Bb2 Be5 22.Re2 c5 23.c3 cxd4 24.cxd4 Bd6 25.Nxd5 Nxd5 26.Qxd5 Ra7 27.Qb5 Ne8 28.d5 Bc5 29.b4 axb4 30.Rc2 b6 31.a5 Ba6 32.Qa4 Bb7 33.Qb3 bxa5 34.Qc4 Bd6 35.Bd4 Ra8 36.Qb5 a4 37.Rc4 Ba6 38.Qxa4 Bxc4 39.Qxa8 Nc7 40.Qa4 Bxd5 0-1

IM Almagro Llamas, Pablo (2469) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 8
1.e4 d6 2.d4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7 5.Bc4 Be7 6.a4 a5 7.O-O O-O 8.Re1 c6 9.h3 exd4 10.Nxd4 Nb6 11.Ba2 Nfd7 12.Nf5 Nc5 13.Nxe7+ Qxe7 14.Bf4 Rd8 15.Qd4 Be6 16.Nd5 cxd5 17.exd5 Nxd5 18.Bxd5 Qd7 19.b3 Bxd5 20.Qxd5 Ne6 21.Be3 Qc6 22.Qd2 d5 23.Qd3 Rac8 24.Rac1 d4 25.Bd2 b6 26.Qg3 Nc5 27.Re7 Ne6 28.c3 Qe4 29.Kh2 Qg6 30.Qxg6 hxg6 31.cxd4 Rxc1 32.Bxc1 Rxd4 33.Rb7 Rb4 34.Bd2 Rxb3 35.Bxa5 Ra3 ½-½

GM Bellon Lopez, Juan Manuel (2370) – Galmandakh, Badrakh (2240)
Gibraltar Masters 2015 Round 10
1.b3 b6 2.Bb2 Bb7 3.e3 e6 4.Nf3 Nf6 5.d4 Be7 6.Bd3 O-O 7.O-O d5 8.c4 c5 9.Qe2 Nc6 10.Nc3 Rc8 11.Rfd1 cxd4 12.exd4 Nb4 13.Ne5 Nxd3 14.Rxd3 Ne4 15.Nxe4 dxe4 16.Rh3 f6 17.Ng4 Kh8 18.f3 f5 19.Ne5 Qe8 20.Rd1 Rd8 21.fxe4 Bxe4 22.Nd3 Bg5 23.Nf2 Bb7 24.Re1 Bc8 25.Nd3 Bf6 26.Ne5 Bb7 27.Qe3 Be4 28.Qg3 Kg8 29.Kh1 Qe7 30.d5 exd5 31.Nc6 Qd7 32.Bxf6 Rxf6 33.Nxd8 f4 34.Qf2 Rg6 35.Rf3 Qxd8 36.cxd5 Qxd5 37.Qe2 Re6 38.Kg1 g5 39.Rf2 Bf5 40.Qc4 g4 41.Qc8+ Kg7 42.Qc7+ Kg6 43.Rxf4 Qb5 44.Rxg4+ Kh5 45.Rg3 Re4 46.Qxh7+ 1-0

It is an established fact that it is much more difficult to play chess having the Black pieces. Still, Badrakh finished only -1 in his five games playing defense, for a PR of 2360. To put this result in perspective, Kenny Soloman recently earned a GM title and his FIDE rating was 2399 at the time. Badrakh Galmandakh finished the tournament in the middle of the field with a score of -1 and a PR of 2428. The new GM, Kenny Soloman also played in the Gilbralter Masters, and although he finished with an even score, ahead of Badrakh by 1/2 a point, Soloman’s PR was only 2320. (http://chess-results.com/tnr158561.aspx?lan=1&art=9&fed=RSA&turdet=YES&wi=821&snr=96).

I know nothing more about Badrakh Galmandakh than what I have been able to find online. He is 25 years of age and #17 in Mongolia. My hat is off the “Big Bad” Badrakh Galmandakh!

Karpov, Anatoly – Miles, Anthony 0-1
B00 EU-chT 1980
1. e4 a6 2. d4 b5 3. Nf3 Bb7 4. Bd3 Nf6 5. Qe2 e6 6. a4 c5 7. dxc5 Bxc5 8. Nbd2 b4 9. e5 Nd5 10. Ne4 Be7 11. O-O Nc6 12. Bd2 Qc7 13. c4 bxc3 14. Nxc3 Nxc3 15. Bxc3 Nb4 16. Bxb4 Bxb4 17. Rac1 Qb6 18. Be4 O-O 19. Ng5 h6 20. Bh7+ Kh8 21. Bb1 Be7 22. Ne4 Rac8 23. Qd3 Rxc1 24. Rxc1 Qxb2 25. Re1 Qxe5 26. Qxd7 Bb4 27. Re3 Qd5 28. Qxd5 Bxd5 29. Nc3 Rc8 30. Ne2 g5 31. h4 Kg7 32. hxg5 hxg5 33. Bd3 a5 34. Rg3 Kf6 35. Rg4 Bd6 36. Kf1 Be5 37. Ke1 Rh8 38. f4 gxf4 39. Nxf4 Bc6 40. Ne2 Rh1+ 41. Kd2 Rh2 42. g3 Bf3 43. Rg8 Rg2 44. Ke1 Bxe2 45. Bxe2 Rxg3 46. Ra8 Bc7 0-1

Beautiful Flowers on the Chess Battlefield

Being pawed in the eye by Copper the dog left me with much time to cogitate, what with my eye being swollen shut. The day before I had read an article in the August issue of Chess Life, “Excutive Director’s Report,” which is by the new woman chosen to lead the USCF, Jean Hoffman, the first woman to hold the position (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Executive+Directors+of+the+United+States+Chess+Federation). I learned the USCF mission has become, “Empowering people through chess one move at a time.” I wondered what that meant, exactly.

According to the Free Dictionary (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/empower), the definition of “empower” is:
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority.
2. To equip or supply with an ability; enable: “Computers … empower students to become intellectual explorers” (Edward B. Fiske).

Jean writes, “As a result of this process, we crafted a new mission, complemented it with our first-ever vision statement and also developed long-term organizational goals that align with our status as a 501(c) charitable organization.”

The USCF mission statement sounds like one of those Orwellian “newspeak” things along the lines of the “Clear Skys Initiative,” promulgated by the Bushwhackers, which brought massive pollution raining down upon We The People by the Bushwhacker admistration. What happened to “Chess is a lifetime sport?”
The first-ever USCF “vision statement” is, “Our vision is to enrich the lives of all persons and communities through increasing the play, study, and appreciation of the game of chess.” How is it possible USCF made it through eighteen male Executive Director’s without a “vision statement?

Chess is not for all people. USCF statistics show the vast majority of children who learn chess reject it at, or before, puberty. Why is that? A generation after moving toward scholastic chess USCF is still “studying the question.” If the USCF has a clue, it has yet to be divulged to the membership.

The new female Executive Director comes from what is now referred to as “the scholastic part of chess.” With Ruth Haring the President of the USCF board the top two leadership positions are held by women. Here in the Great State of Georgia three of the five remaining board members are women, who do not play chess. Women like change. I cannot count the times I have heard someone say after a break-up between a man and a woman, “She thought she could change him.” The proliferation of women in the game of chess has changed things drastically. This is not your father’s chess, Bunky.

A good illustration would be an article published today on the Georgia Chess News website, “Women’s Open 2014 Results” By Laura Doman. (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/09/29/womens-open-2014-results/)
“Pink carnations were laid beside each board position. Beautiful flowers in vases graced the tournament directors’ informatics table. Yes, this was the site for the annual Georgia Women’s Open tournament, which hosted sixteen women and girls on Saturday, September 20 at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria Hotel.”

“Pink carnations” and “Beautiful flowers”? Laura Doman is a lovely woman, and I am sure she means well, but this is the kind of thing women have done, and are doing, that is off-putting to male chess players. What could be worse than to spend time getting psyched-up for the coming battle, getting prepared, as it were, to pull your sword, and arrive at the field of battle with “Pink carnations” and “Beautiful flowers” gracing the battlefield? This reminds me of an episode of the TV show, “Northern Exposure.” Holling Vincoeur, played by John Cullum, married a much younger woman, Shelly Marie Tambo, played by Cynthia Geary. Shelly began to “make changes.” Next thing you know Holling is forced to visit the Dr. Joel Fleischman, played by Rob Morrow. For the first time in his life Holling has become constipated. Dr. Fleischman cannot understand it and fails to find a reason, until it comes out that Holling had given Shelly permission to make changes in the bedroom. She had turned his rustic, log cabin in Alaska into a “pink” room with “flowers.” It was obviously more than Holling’s system could take, and he became all stressed out and “jammed-up.” I had the same kind of feeling after reading Laura Doman’s report.

This kind of thing proliferates. For example, see “Yamie Chess simul with Jennifer Shahade” on the Chessbase website (http://en.chessbase.com/post/yamie-chess-simul-with-jennifer-shahade). What is Yamie Chess? “Manufactured in the Michigan, USA, and designed for 5 to 12 year olds, the Yamie Chess® learning aid series focuses on nurturing children’s cognitive thinking and intellectual potential for mathematics, and is aligned to support the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics’ Curriculum Focal Points in algebra, geometry, data analysis, measurement and number logic.” If you are still uncertain about what, exactly, Yamie Chess is, it will help you to know that “Under the pieces the cartoon characters can be seen.”

Scott MacKenzie San Francisco 1967(original)

Scott McKenzie – San Francisco.flv

Chess Life Editor Daniel Lucas and Mental Illness

This was posted on the USCF forum a couple of months ago:

by Chess Life Editor on Tue Jul 08, 2014 4:58 pm #281923

“Chess Hoarders, we want to hear from you! For a future article on chess hoarding, let us know about your experiences, huge piles of books, scoresheets, etc. Do you have a ‘spare bedroom’ that has never seen a guest because it is filled with Informants from the 1970s? Let us know! Send hi resolution photos too. Email us at letters@uschess.org.”
Dan Lucas
Editor, Chess Life

As of this writing 192 people have read the Editor’s post, none of whom left a comment. Why am I not surprised? After all, hoarding is considered a mental illness, to wit:

“Compulsive hoarding (more accurately described as “hoarding disorder”) is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the excessive acquisition of and inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress or impairment.
Researchers have only recently begun to study hoarding, and it was first defined as a mental disorder in the 5th edition of the DSM in 2013.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsive_hoarding)

Diseases and Conditions
Hoarding disorder
Definition
By Mayo Clinic Staff
“Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” (http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hoarding-disorder/basics/definition/con-20031337)

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Hoarding: More Than Just a Mess
Hoarding is a common problem that is difficult to treat.
By Eric Metcalf, MPH
WebMD Feature
“This problem has gained wider visibility in recent years, thanks in part to several hoarding-related television shows. Two percent to 5% of Americans may meet the criteria for being hoarders, says psychologist David Tolin, PhD, a hoarding specialist and author of Buried in Treasures. “Panic disorder might affect 1%, and obsessive-compulsive disorder maybe 2%. We’re talking about a surprisingly common disorder that had never really been recognized,” he tells WebMD.” (http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/harmless-pack-rat-or-compulsive-hoarder)

I cannot help but wonder how many emails the Chess Life editor has received? I question the sanity of anyone who would ask chess players with a mental illness to be profiled ” For a future article on chess hoarding…”
I await this article with bated breath.

The Hoarding Song

Kathy Griffin – ‘Hoarders’

The Cost of Chess Magazines

The Legendary Georgia Ironman loves “Chess Monthly” (http://www.chess.co.uk/). He takes it with him to lessons and pontificates at length about the good qualities of the magazine. He does this while there are copies of the best chess magazine in the world, “New in Chess” (http://www.newinchess.com/), sitting unopened, still in cellophane, in the apartment. The Barnes & Noble in Buckhead carries “Chess Monthly” and “Chess Life” but not “New in Chess.” An advertisement in the 2014/3 issue of NiC shows ten places it is sold and one of them is The Book Tavern in Augusta, Georgia, yet I have been unable to find it in any bookstore or newsstand in the largest city and the capital of the state, Atlanta.
I have purchased “Chess Monthly” at the B&N when found. This means it comes irregularly, so the Ironman is missing some issues. We usually split the cost. One time Tim received a B&N gift card and he gave it to me to use and it covered the cost of two issues. We hit the jackpot when Greg Yanez of chess4less.com (http://www.chess4less.com/) was here for the National children’s something or other at the downtown Hyatt. Greg had back issues on sale for only five dollars, and they went fast. The last July issue sold before the Ironman was able to nab one. Meanwhile the issues of NiC, which cost more, did not sell well. Everyone wants a deal. Still, I would rather have a NiC at ten dollars than a CM for five.
I was in the B&N the other day and, as luck would have it, so was the July issue of “Chess Monthly.” I had a buck or two left on the aforementioned B&N gift card, so I nabbed a copy and took it to the checkout counter. My billfold was out when I heard the clerk say, “That will be eighteen something.”
“Pardon me?” I said. Having tinnitus means I do not hear as well as I used too, what with the constant ringing in the brain.
“That will be eighteen something,” he repeated. The last one I purchased was “eleven something.”
“Are you sure?” I asked. He showed me the price attached to a price tag that covered the one on the magazine, and, sure ’nuff, it showed a price of $16.99 US. Include tax and, wah-lah, “eighteen something.”
As I was putting my billfold back into my pocket I said, “Wow…Last time I purchased a copy it was only eleven plus; that is a dramatic increase.” He gave me a blank stare. The clerk at the next register, who had been watching this unfold, gave me a look and sort of shrugged his shoulders as if to silently say, “What’cha gonna do?”
I started to grab the magazine, telling the young man I would put it back, but he jerked it out of my hand saying, “We will do that!” I was stunned, thinking, “I did not even get a chance to peruse the mag…”
I went to the coffee shop where one of the Starbucks employees is a fellow who used to come to the House of Pain and trade genuine Starbucks coffee for a membership, etc. And now everyone knows the secret of why the House had the best coffee of any chess club. I told him my tale of woe while awaiting my cuppa joe. Back in the adjoining bookstore an empty table was located, where I broke out my chess board and latest copy of the best chess magazine in the universe, “New in Chess.” I am behind with the NiC, having only recently received issues 2014/2 & 3. The subscription ended and times are tough, with the current situation being in a state of, shall we say, flux. I purchased the issues from Amazon. The Gorilla recently raised the amount for free shipping from $25 to $35, and since the price of a NiC is a little over $10, I have included it to meet the new requirement. Unfortunately, the Gorilla cannot produce an issue in a timely fashion. For example, check out the dates of the two NiC’s I have on order:
Not yet shipped
Track Package
Delivery estimate: Friday, October 10, 2014 – Wednesday, October 15, 2014 by 8:00pm
New In Chess Magazine 2014/4
Guezendam, Dirk Jan ten
Sold by: Amazon.com LLC
Delivery estimate: Thursday, October 9, 2014 – Tuesday, October 14, 2014 by 8:00pm
New In Chess magazine 2014/5
ten Geuzendam, Dirk Jan
Sold by: Amazon.com LLC
That’s right, the Gorilla has the issue out now set to ship before the previous issue! I believe 2014/4 was published in June. I have been sending emails to the Gorilla about this, but maybe I expect too much from a Gorilla…It is obvious there must be a better way.
Back at the B&N with my cuppa joe, I opened NiC 2014/3 and thought about what GM Jonathan Rowson wrote about taking his new issue of NiC to the coffee shop as soon as it arrived…Then I began to read. I discovered a letter by one Evan Katz, of “New York, NY, USA.” Seems Mr. Katz is disappointed in the price of the best chess magazine, ever, in the recorded history of the human race. NiC is truly “cheap at twice the price,” but not to Evan.
At this point I began to ponder the reason for the dramatic increase in the price of “Chess Monthly,” so I decided to ask the manager. When I mentioned the amount of the price increase she was obviously shocked. “That is a huge increase,” she said. The nice woman went on to tell me B&N had nothing to do with the price of magazines because a distributor handled it, going on to inform me that beginning in July B&N had a new distributor. I told her that explained things, and thanked her for the information, and her time.
In putting this together I did discover that chess4less.com not only provides a yearly subscription for $70, but has individual issues for sale for $7.95. The Ironman and I have not seen the May, June, July, and August issues. Even with shipping charges one can purchase two for the price of one from chess4less in comparison to B&N. Goodbye Barnes & Noble, hello chess4less!

Elton John perfoms Benny and The Jets on Soul Train