Clock setting: no more Mr. Nice Guy

by Slivovitz on Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:13 am #339747

At a recent CCA tournament, just before round 2 started, a young man was wandering around the area where I was playing, asking if anyone could set his Chronos GX for him.

With a suppressed eye-roll, I told him to hand it over, and set it for him, storing it as time control #1. That’s usually saved for five minute blitz, but that way he wouldn’t have any trouble getting it back once the clock was turned off. Just press the red button. And it gave him an added incentive to get hold of the #!☠️⚡️⛈!! instructions and learn how to set it himself. The GX is actually quite simple once you learn a few basics.

In the meantime, the director told people to start their games, my opponent started my clock, and I lost about a minute off my time. No big deal, but you know what, new resolution for 2020. I’m not helping anyone to set his clock unless it’s a personal friend of mine, and even then I’ll use a friend’s privilege to give him a hard time about it. I know how to set the long and short versions of a Chronos (at least for any chess time control I’d encounter), a DGT 3000, and a Leap KK9908. I know this because I actually read manuals to the point where I don’t need to consult them every time, and I do keep the manuals. It continues to baffle me that so many chess players can’t seem to master the basics for at least the one model that they own.

The above sounds angrier than it is. I’ve seen this topic come up before, and it will doubtless come up again. But, one pro tip. If the reason you don’t know how to set your clock is because you bought it from the tournament’s equipment vendor two minutes ago and haven’t had time to absorb the manual, the vendor will probably set it for you. Then you can read the manual before the next round, and you’ll never have a problem again.

Who Is The Real Mozart Of Chess?

After clicking on to CNN I noticed ‘Mozart of chess’ now unbeaten for 111 games directly below ‘Jeopardy!’ crowns ‘Greatest of All Time’. I clicked onto the Mozart of chess story where this picture was found:

‘The Mozart of Chess’

Edward Winter

Christian Sánchez (Rosario, Argentina) enquires about the origins of a nickname given to Capablanca, ‘The Mozart of chess’, and wonders when it was first used. We plan to revert to that matter later on, and readers’ assistance with citations will be welcomed. Firstly, though, we would point out that the term has been applied to many masters. Some examples:

  • Paul Morphy:

‘Morphy was the Mozart of chess.’
Page 228 of the Columbia Chess Chronicle, 29 December 1888 (article by G.H.D. Gossip).

Page 305 of the August-September 1884 BCM had stated: ‘What Mozart, as to innate, natural ability, was to music, Morphy likewise was to chess.’

  • Emanuel Lasker:

‘The Mozart of chess’
Page 45 of White King and Red Queen by D. Johnson (London, 2007).

  • Mikhail Tal:

‘El Mozart del ajedrez’
Page 113 of El campeonato mundial de ajedrez by E. Gufeld and E.M. Lazarev (Barcelona, 2003).

  • Boris Spassky:

‘Spassky has been called the Mozart of chess.’
Page 65 of Bobby Fischer Goes to War by D. Edmonds and J. Eidinow (London, 2004).

  • Bobby Fischer:

‘Fourteen-year-old “Mozart of Chess”’
Page SM38 of the New York Times, 23 February 1958 (article by H.C. Schonberg – see C.N. 5491). Schonberg referred to Capablanca as ‘the Mozart of chess’ on page 181 of Grandmasters of Chess (Philadelphia and New York, 1973).

  • Anatoly Karpov:

‘He is the Mozart of the chessboard …’
Page 21 of Karpov-Korchnoi 1978 by R. Keene (London, 1978).

  • Magnus Carlsen:

‘In January 2004, I called Magnus Carlsen the Mozart of chess for the first time. It was a spontaneous, last-minute decision to meet a deadline for my column in the Washington Post. The name was picked up immediately and spread around quickly. It was used, misused, overused.’
Lubomir Kavalek, article dated 23 February 2012.


Chess during Mozart’s time: “Nannerl”


The Ugly Chess Move

White to move

Take a good look at this position and enough time to chose a move before reading further…Details about the game will follow later.

How did you assess the position?

Let us look at the position from the eyes of a Chess teacher. If a student showed me this game expecting comment I would begin by saying, “This is a dream position for the General of the white pieces for many reasons. White has a preponderance of material on the king side because his two rooks are on the e-file whereas the two black rooks are on the queen side. In addition, the bishop on d3 is exerting pressure on the black king side, specifically the g6 pawn. The white queen is working in coordination with the black squared bishop, which is ready to move into enemy territory. Take the two black squared bishops off of the board and replace the white bishop with the queen on f4, for example, and you will see the entire white army is either on the king side, or exerting force toward the king side, which is where the king resides in this position. The entire white army is opposed by a lone, lonely knight of f6. Therefore the natural move for white would be Bh6.”

I chose this position because I happened to be watching the game in progress. The game was played in the third round of the recently completed Charlotte Open, which began on the first day of the new year and ended January 5, 2020. Atlanta area player FM Benjamin Moon

was in charge of the white pieces. His opponent was GM Ulvi Ilqar Oglu Bajarani,

from Azerbaijan. These are the moves that brought us to the position:

1 d4 d5 2 Bf4 c5 3 e3 Nc6 4 Nf3 Nf6 5 Be2 cxd4 6 exd4 g6 7 c3 Bg7 8 O-O O-O 9 Nbd2 Bg4 10 h3 Bxf3 11 Nxf3 a6 12 Re1 e6 13 Bd3 Nd7 14 Qd2 Re8 15 Re2 b5 16 a3 Qb6 17 Rae1 a5 18 h4 Nf6 19 Nh2 b4 20 g4 Rec8 21 h5 bxc3 22 bxc3 a4. According to ChessBomb the last move was a mistake. When the white move 23 appeared on the board I thought there had been some kind of transmission problem because it was so UGLY! Ben played 23 Re3?

I could not help but wonder if Ben had developed a case of Grandmasteritis. It often happens that players, for whatever reason, do not play up to their usual level when sitting across from a titled player. After the move 23…Na5 appeared on the board I realized Ben had, in fact, blundered horribly by playing one of the most ugly moves ever played on a chess board. I have no idea what was in Ben’s mind upon playing such a weak move, but maybe he wanted to move the ugly rook on e3 to h3?! The Stockfish program  at the ChessBomb gives this variation as an improvement: 23. Bh6 Qb3 24. Bxg7 Kxg7 25. Qf4 h6 26. Bxg6 Qb8 27. Qf3 Qc7 28. Bd3 Rh8 29. Rxe6 fxe6 30. Rxe6 Qf7 31. Rxc6 Rac8 32. Ra6 Rhe8 33. Qf5 Rxc3.

The game ended after 23. Re3 Na5 24. hxg6 hxg6 25. Rh3 Nb3 26. Qb2 Qa5 27. Bb1 Nxd4 28. Qb7 Qb5 29. Qe7 Nc6 30. Qd6 Rd8 31. Bd3 Qb6 32. Qc7 Qxc7 33. Bxc7 Rdc8 34. Bf4 Na5 35. g5 Nh5 36. Be5 Bxe5 37. Rxe5 Rxc3 38. Ng4 Kg7 39. Rf3 Nc6 40. Ree3 Nd4 41. Rf6 Rh8 0-1




The Girls Chess Game

Credit…National Museum, Poznan



The complete video above can be watched here:



Yakov Vilner First Ukrainian Chess Champion and First USSR Chess Composition Champion: A Review

Having earlier reviewed Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution ( I was pleased when a new book, published by Elk and Ruby ( and by the same author, Sergei Tkachenko,

appeared in the mailbox. Yakov Vilner: First Ukrainian Chess Champion and First USSR Chess Composition Champion,

is the follow up to the aforementioned book.

Tkrachenko writes in the introduction to the latter book, “I found clear evidence that the versions that Alekhine was saved by important Soviet functionaries were incorrect. Historical facts and memoirs pointed to the undoubted fact that his salvation was down to the modest Jewish lad Yakov Vilner, who at the time the grandmaster was arrested was working as a clerk in the Odessa revolutionary tribunal.

Naturally, I wanted to find out more about this figure. However, it transpired that there was little ready information about Vilner. Even his date of birth was unknown. Well, I then spent eight years researching him until the curtain of mysteriousness finally fell! I now saw a vivid and gifted personality who had the “luck” to live in such turbulent times.

Moreover, I collected so much material that on the advice of historians among my friends I decided to split it into two books, with the material on Alexander Alekhine’s three trips to Odessa compiled as a separate book (subsequently published later in 2016 in Russian and in 2018 in English, as Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution, which was short-listed for the 2018 English Chess Federation Book of the Year).

The book you are now reading was originally intended as a prelude to the book on Alekhine and is devoted to the first Ukrainian Chess Champion, first USSR Chess Composition Champion and first Odessa Master Yakov Semionovich Vilner, who in 1919 managed to save Alekhine from death and thereby cange the courst of chess history.”

Before reading the two books by Sergei Tkachenko what I knew about Ukraine could be summed up in the sentence, “Ukraine was the breadbasket of the USSR.” Because of the attempt of the Commander in Thief of the DisUnited States of America, Donald John (has any POTUS ever had a better fitting middle name?) Trumpster to gain another term as POTUS by strong arming the young President of Ukraine that country has been in the news often this year. In an attempt to learn more about Ukraine I recently watched two documentaries, Ukraine on Fire, and Revealing Ukraine. Oliver Stone

is the Executive Producer, which was all I needed to know to watch. My knowledge of Ukraine was increased exponentially by watching the films, which were viewed between reading the two aforementioned books.

From a historical perspective I enjoyed the book, yet wondered how many others would be interested in what was happening in Chess a century ago. The first book was about a former World Chess Champion with a backdrop of radical political change containing firing squads for those with a different political thought. Firing squads feature in the Vilner book but the drama is lacking. Yakov Vilner was obviously a fine Chess player, but unfortunately, his health was sometimes bad because he had asthma. Thus, his Chess results were rather erratic. The same can be said about the Chess games. For example, the second game, versus Boris Koyalovich, features 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5 f6? I kid you not. This is the kind of move Chess teachers of children often encounter. The author writes, “One of the weakest ways to defend the Spanish. Koyalovich clearly chooses it to avoid the well-known variations.” I’ll say! This game was played during the Tournament of Kislovodsk in 1917.

When healthy Yakov Vilner was the best player in Odessa, and Ukraine. He was good enough to finish in a three way tie for sixth place in the eighteen player 3rd tournament Championship of the USSR in 1924 played in Moscow in August/September.

Some of the games are interesting and the annotations are excellent. For example, consider this game from the 4th USSR Championship played in Leningrad 1925:

Yakov S Vilner

vs Boris Verlinsky

URS-ch04 Leningrad 1925

E00 Queen’s pawn game

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 b6 4.e4 Bb4 5.Bd3 Bb7 6.Qc2 Bxc3+ 7.bxc3 d6 8.Ne2 c5 9.O-O Nbd7 10.Ng3 Qc7 11.f4 cxd4 12.cxd4 Rc8 13.e5 Nd5 14.Qb3 Ne7 15.Ba3 d5 16.Rac1 Qd8 17.f5 O-O 18.f6 gxf6 19.exf6 Ng6 20.Bxg6 hxg6 21.Be7 Qe8 22.Qe3 Kh7 23.Nf5 1-0

The author writes, “A game of fireworks! Interestingly, almost all of white’s moves were consistent with Rybka’s first line. In our days that might have led to allegations of cheating!” This is a sad indictment of modern Chess. Spurious allegations by, for example, have forced former online players to go elsewhere. An example can be found at GM Kevin’s Spraggett’s wonderful blog with the post, Blogger’s Reputation Intentionally Smeared? ( Reading the article caused me to do some checking around and one of the things learned was that one local youngster was given the boot from for allegedly “boosting.” The youngster was accused of creating false accounts to play in order to beat them and “boost” his rating. The youngster did no such thing, yet had no recourse other than to leave and play at one of the other, more reputable, websites. How many players have been falsely accused by ?

Another game from the same tournament attests to the strength of Vilner.

Efim Bogoljubow

vs Yakov S Vilner

URS-ch04 Leningrad 1925

D49 Queen’s Gambit Declined semi-Slav, Meran, Sozin variation

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 Nf6 3.c4 c6 4.e3 e6 5.Nc3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.e5 cxd4 11.Nxb5 Nxe5 12.Nxe5 axb5 13.O-O Qd5 14.Qf3 Ba6 15.Bg5 Be7 16.Rfc1 O-O 17.Qh3 h6 18.Bf4 Bb7 19.Re1 Bb4 20.Re2 Rxa2 21.Rf1 Rfa8 22.f3 Bf8 23.Ng4 Nxg4 24.Qxg4 Qb3 25.Bb1 Rxb2 26.Ree1 d3 27.Rc1 Ra1 28.Bc2 Rxc1 0-1

The annotations to both games were provided by Yakov Vilner. The author writes, “Naturally, I wanted to find out more about this figure. However, it transpired that there was little ready information about Vilner. Even his date of birth was unknown. Well, I then spent eight years researching him until the curtain of mysteriousness finally fell! I now saw a vivid and gifted personality who had the “luck” to live in such turbulent times.”

Vilner was very ill for a time and the title of one chapter is, How To Combine Treatment With Playing. Then came the Odessa Championship tournament of 1927.

“At first, everything went to plan. On 12 April the 12 best players of Odessa began their battle for the city championship. After round 4 Vilner headed the field with a perfect score. But then his illness returned. The tournament committee managed to postpone several of Vilner’s games so that he could complete the tournament. His short rest brought dividends. After round 8 Yakov Semionovich was still a point ahead of Sergei Ballodit and 1.5 ahead of Dmitry Russo. Vilner then had to play each of them in the final rounds. Such intrigue would have been hard to make up! A reporter hiding behind the initials AMO shared his observations in the newspaper Odessa Izvestia. The column was entitled Before the end and stated:

“Final games. Vilner-Ballodit. Two stubborn “wolf-dogs”. They will battle to the end, to the final pawn. They both possess deep theoretical preparation and have mastered the complex meandering of combinational play. Who will come out on top? So they begin. We see agile bishops slipping out. Knights crawling over the heads of pawns. Carefully feeling out the paths, the queen emerges.
A schematic position has already appeared. Vilner “presses”. With an apparently strong front, Vilner strides towards a difficult but possible victory. Vilner analyzes dozens of variations. He thinks ahrd. But the clock isn’t sleeping. Maestro, time is running out. The maestro makes his move. Then another and another. Time is running out. He needs to catch up.
Well, his opponent is “time-rich”, and coldly calculating. time-trouble disrupts the accuracy of the plan. “Enemy” pieces ahve already broken through. One blunder and it’s death. A crush is close… The game cannot be saved. Destruction…”

This reminded me of the battles between IM Boris Kogan and LM Klaus Pohl, the German Shepard, ‘back in the day’. Boris usually took the measure of Klaus, but occasionally the Krazy Kraut would do the measuring. Ballodit played second fiddle to Vilner, but took over first position in this particular tournament.

Also found is this:

“In order to popularize chess, two rounds were played at factories in the city: at the jute factory and the leather goods factory. “Chess to the masses”, as the slogan went! But of course sharp games are the best adverts for chess.” (The USSR was as full of slogans as it was full of excrement)

Vilner finished near the bottom of the Fifth championship of the USSR in 1927, but did inflict a defeat upon future World champion Botvinnik in the tournament.

Yakov S Vilner vs Mikhail Botvinnik

Moscow 1927
A45 Queen’s pawn game

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Qd3 g6 4.h3 Nc6 5.Bf4 Bf5 6.Qd2 Bg7 7.e3 O-O 8.g4 Bc8 9.Bg2 Re8 10.Nf3 Ne4 11.Nxe4 dxe4 12.Ne5 Be6 13.Nxc6 bxc6 14.Bxe4 Bd5 15.Qd3 e5 16.dxe5 Bxe5 17.Bxd5 cxd5 18.Bxe5 Rxe5 19.O-O-O c6 20.h4 Qd7 21.Qc3 Rae8 22.Rd4 Qd6 23.h5 c5 24.Rdd1 Re4 25.hxg6 Qxg6 26.Rxd5 Rxg4 27.Qxc5 Rg2 28.Rd2 Qg4 29.Rhd1 h5 30.Rd8 Rxd8 31.Rxd8+ Kh7 32.Rd4 Rg1+ 33.Kd2 Rd1+ 34.Kc3 Rxd4 35.Qxd4 Qg5 36.Qd7 h4 37.Kd2 Kg6 38.Qh3 Qd5+ 39.Ke2 Qe4 40.Kf1 Kh6 41.f3 Qxe3 42.Qxh4+ 1-0

We humans like to speculate about “what if?” As in, “What if Klaus Junge

had not died in World War Two?” ( How many players have died needlessly on a battlefield somewhere in yet another war without end? Hopefully, one day peace will break out… Reading this book brought another to light.

Alexander Moiseevich Evenson (1892-1919)

“He became recognized as a top chess player in 1913 after winning the All-Russian amateurs tournament with a score of 6.5 out of 7! He edited the chess column of the newspaper Kievan Thought (Kievskaya Mysl) (1914). Graduated from the Law Faculty of the Stl Vladimir Kiev University. Fought in WWI. Served in the cavalry and was injured. A Knight of the Order of St. George. Died in the Civil War. According to one version, he served in Kiev as an investigator of the military-revolutionary tribunal and was shot by a Denikin forces’ firing squad after the latter captured the city. Another version has that Evenson actually signed up as a volunteer for Denikin’s white army and was killed in unclear circumstances. Alekhine and Capablanca considered Evenson to be one of the most talented chess players of his time.

The 6th Championship of the USSR was held in Odessa from September, 2-20, 1929. Because of the large number of participants it came to be thought of as “Odessa roulette”. There were so many players because the Communists in charge wanted to welcome “the masses.”

“A record number of players took part – 36! Of these, 14 were masters and 22 were first category players. How were such a large number of players to be paired off? Oddly enough, the tournament had no clear regulations. It was all decided on an ad hoc basis. At the opening, the organizing committee proposed two options for holding the tournament to the players: either six groups each with six players and one game per day, or four groups each with nine players and three games every two days. The majority voted for the second option, which was later subject to harsh criticism… by the very same players. That’s democracy for you!”

The infamous communist apparatchik, Nikolai Krylenko,

who in the 1930s headed the Soviet chess and checkers associations. ( (, wrote in Chess List:

“The outcome of the USSR championship has given rise to a number of critical articles in our periodical publications, most of which lack sufficient objectivity.”

Objectivity being whatever Lenin or Stalin said…

“Many secrets of the championship remained backstage. The biggest one was Izmailov’s withdrawal from the final. The master’s son recalled:

This championship could well have become Izmailov’s hour in the sun. He was only 23,
he was gaining ground and his game was blossoming, but alas, my father didn’t play in the final. Why? I attempted to establish this but failed to do so. In Chess List Duz-Khotimirsky wrote about “the need to take university exams”. Kan in 64 writes that Izmailov withdrew from the tournament at his own volition. Pravada and Izvestiia referred to illness, while Komsomolskaya Pravda cited exhaustion. Half a century later, recalling this episode, my mother told me that in the mid 1930’s she and my father held a conversation on this subject (they didn’t yet know each other in 1929), and he confirmed that he was healthy and ready to continue the battle, but he was forced to leave…

So who forced Izmailov to leave Odessa? Whom was this talented chess player impeding? Is fecit cui prodest (“it was done by the person for whom it was advantageous”). Seven years after the Odessa tournament ended, Piotr Izmailov was arrested by the NKVD and accused of “Trotskyist-Fascist activity”. He was eventually sentenced to the firing squad on 21 April 1937 and executed the next day.”

As for the protagonist, “At the end of October 1930, Vilner moved to live in Leningrad. Is it not surprising that a person suffering from serious asthma suddenly abandons the warm Odessa climate with its curative sea air in favor of the rainy climate of Northern Palmyra? I consulted with doctors specializing in heart and respiratory illnesses what such a change of environment could bring. They told me that it would mean serious stress on the body and was quite a suicidal step! So why did Vilner, despite his illness, prefer Leningrad? Had he planned this change of residence in advance?”

“At the end of the 1920s the political climate in Odessa worsened, as it did throughout the country. The ideological war against Trotsky and his supporters


reached an apex by the beginning of 1929. At the end of January, the former Minister for War and Naval Matters was secretly transported along with his family from exile in Almaty to Odessa. It was here that the ferry with the symbolic name Illych awaited him. On the night before 11 February the ferry set course for Constantinople accompanied by an icebreaker and government officials, and the next day Trotsky reached Turkey. With Trotsky’s expulsion, the USSR intensified its purges of his supporters and mentors. Christian Rakovsky, the protector of Alexander Alekhine and one of the leaders of Soviet power in Ukraine, was cruelly punished. He had been expelled from the party back in 1927 and then sent to internal exile in Barnaul in 1929. His party membership card was returned to him in 1935 and he was even entrusted to head the All-Union Red Cross society, but not for long. He was arrested in 1937, sentenced to 20 years in jail, and then shot at the start of the war. Vilner also suffered during the battle against Trotskyism.”

It seems Vilner chose the wrong side…

“Vilner didn’t quite live to the age of Christ – he was granted less than 32 years on this earth. Yakov Rokhlin published an obituary on the Odessite in the June edition of Chess List (1931): “Soviet chess players have endured a heavy loss. Master Yakov Semionovich Vilner died on 29 June at &pm in Leningrad after a lengthy illness…”

The book is replete with many interesting Chess games and annotations. In addition, it contains ninety five problems and studies, and if you are into that kind of thing this book is simply de rigeur.

After an email discussion with Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam,

editor of New In Chess magazine, I have decided to forgo the usual star system and grade the way teachers still grade papers, even if they are written in digits now, with A+ being the top of the line and “F” as in “failure” as the bottom. This book deserves the grade “A”.

Kosteniuk Versus Koneru: Learning The Bishop’s Opening Truth

In the sixth round of the Monaco Grand Prix for inferior players of the opposite sex today the prettiest female player currently playing, Alexandra Kosteniuk,

played “The Truth” ( against Humpy Koneru.

Kosteniuk is rated 2495; Koneru 2560. Both players are clearly at least one category below male Grandmasters, and two categories below what are now called “Super Grandmasters.” Yet because they were born female they are battling for big, in Chess terms, money. That is money that should be going to the best players regardless of sexual orientation. Because of rating we know how inferior are women at Chess when compared to men. This begs the question of why women, with only very limited exceptions, such as Hou Yifan,

are inferior to men players.

Kosteniuk (2495) vs Koneru (2560)

FIDE Women’s Grand Prix – Monaco 2019 round 06

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 Be7

(4…d5 is the best move according to both Stockfish and Komodo. The game move is second best. The Stocky shown at the ChessBomb has 4…d5 best, followed by 4…Qc7 and 4…d6) 5 Nc3

(Like Be7, 5 Nc3 is a light blue move. 5 0-0 is the best move) 5…d6 (Komodo 13.2 64-bit @depth 38 at the CBDB likes this move, but going to depth 41 changes it’s whatever and prefers 5…0-0) 6 d4?

(I will admit to being stunned upon seeing this move. It is clearly inferior and I do not need a machine to know this fact. The Stockfish program running at the Bomb shows this move forfeits whatever advantage white had with the first move of the game. Could this have really been Kosteniuk’s opening preparation or was she simply “winging it”? 6 0-0 has been the most often played move but Komodo shows the best move being 6 a4) 6…0-0?

(This is unfathomable. 6…exd4 is the only move. The move played by Humpy is not even shown at the CBDB or 365Chess. There is a reason…)

There is no longer any reason to continue this exercise in futility. It is more than a little obvious one of the reasons women are inferior to men at Chess is their extremely weak opening play. Why women are so weak playing the opening is open to conjecture, but there it is for anyone to see. This game is, unfortunately, not an anomaly.

Alexandra Kosteniuk (2495) – Humpy Koneru (2560)

FIDE Women’s Grand Prix – Monaco 2019 round 06

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Nc3 d6 6. d4 O-O 7. O-O Na6 8. a4 exd4 9. Nxd4 Nb4 10. Re1 Re8 11. Bg5 h6 12. Bh4 d5 13. exd5 Nfxd5 14. Bxe7 Rxe7 15. Rxe7 Qxe7 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Bxd5 cxd5 18. Qe1 Qe4 19. Qd2 Bd7 20. Re1 Qg6 21. b3 Qd6 22. h3 Rc8 23. Re3 a6 24. Rd3 Qc7 25. c3 Qb6 26. Qf4 Re8 27. Re3 Rxe3 28. Qxe3 Qd6 29. Ne2 a5 30. Qd4 Qg6 31. Kh2 Qe4 32. Qd2 b5 33. axb5 Bxb5 34. Nd4 Bd7 35. Qd1 Qe5+ 36. Kg1 Qc7 37. Qf3 Qe5 38. Qd1 Qc7 39. Qd3 Qe5 40. Qd1 Qc7 ½-½

When it comes to playing Chess it is obvious the top women players are exponentially worse than the top men players, yet women play in separate tournaments with large prize funds because…I have no idea why there are separate tournaments for female players. There should be no tournaments for women only because women should play in OPEN tournaments which are OPEN TO ALL! In that event women would have to elevate their game or battle in the lower sections for a much smaller prize fund. There is not, and has never been, enough prize money in Chess to support inferior players playing for large sums of money which should go to better, and more deserving, Chess players!

Igors Rausis Pays For Playing The Cheating Game

Igors Rausis,

formerly Grandmaster, lost the title according to GM Alexei Shirov, who wrote on f—book:

Alexei Shirov

Yesterday at 2:49 AM ·

Igor Rausis is banned for 6 years from playing and also stripped from his GM title that he’s been holding since more or less 1992. No rating change for some reason. I am not sure, I agree with such severe sanctions even though I perfectly understand that Igor has been guilty. But still, many players have been guilty in similar way, some of them haven’t even been caught, some of them got very short ban. The biggest ban so far has been 3 years, that would be perfectly justified in Igor’s case. But 6? Would be interested in your opinions. (

The FIDE PDF can be found here:

Rawhide Chess

Taking time to check out what was happening in the world of Chess found me surfin’ to the ChessBomb, where the Salamanca Chess Festival was on top of the list. The round seven games had been completed. The last game looked interesting because Yifan Hou, with the black pieces, had defeated none other than the man who accelerated the demise of the Royal game when he falsely accused Vladimir Kramnik of cheating, Vladimir Topalov. What made it so interesting is that word on the street had it that Topalov had been cheating in consort with his manager, Silvio Danilov. Topalov once held the title of FIDE world champion, a title with huge import ‘back in the day’. These daze there seems to be a plethora of so-called, “world champions.” What with age groups, each broken down into male and female, and other forms of the formerly Royal game, it would take a calculator to count all of them.

Where was I… Oh yeah…

Topalov, Veselin

– Hou, Yifan

Salamanca Chess Festival 2019 round 07

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 0-1 (

I have no idea…

This caused me to go to the beginning where I noticed, and began to replay, the game Hou vs Ponomariov. Do not ask me why…

Hou, Yifan – Ponomariov, Ruslan

Salamanca Chess Festival 2019 round 01

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. d3 Bc5 5. Bxc6 dxc6 6. Nbd2 Bg4 7. Nc4 Nd7 8. h3 Be6 9. Na5 Rb8 10. O-O f6 11. Qe1 O-O 12. Be3 Bxe3 13. Qxe3 c5 14. a3 c6 15. b4 Qc7 16. Nd2 b6 17. Nab3 Qd6 18. bxc5 Nxc5 19. Nxc5 bxc5 20. Rfb1 Rb6 21. a4 Rfb8 22. Rxb6 axb6 23. a5 Ra8 24. Nb3 Bxb3 25. cxb3 Rxa5 26. Rxa5 bxa5 27. Qe2 Kf8 28. Qg4 Qxd3 29. Qc8+ Kf7 30. Qxc6 Qd4 31. g4 h6 32. Qc7+ Kg6 33. Qxa5 Qxe4 34. Qxc5 Qb1+ 35. Kg2 Qxb3 36. Qc6 Qd3 37. h4 e4 38. Qe6 Qf3+ 39. Kg1 Qf4 40. Kg2 Qe5

Now any Chess player other than Allen Priest would know it is imperative in this position to keep your queen on the board. The woman played, I kid you not…

41. Qxe5?? A Bomb RED MOVE, if ever there was one…

After taking the queen with 41…fxe5 black is soooooooooooo won.

Hou played 42 Kf1 and I wondered why. Then I noticed she only had eighteen seconds time remaining while her opponent still had over five minutes on his clock. Ponomariov (Did he, too, win some kind of Chess World Championship?), with all the time in the world to win a completely won position produced the move 42…h5?? BIG RED!

And we now have a completely drawn game that any Chess player, other than Allen Priest, could hold with a nano second on the clock.

43. gxh5+ Kf5 44. Ke1 Kg4 45. Ke2 Kf4 46. h6 gxh6 47. h5 e3 48. f3 e4 49. fxe4 Kxe4 50. Ke1 Kf3 51. Kf1 Kg4 52. Ke2 Kf4 53. Ke1 Kf3 54. Kf1 e2+ 55. Ke1 Ke3 ½-½

I will admit it took me some time to learn the above game was a rapid game. Still…

Chess is rapidly (couldn’t help myself) changing, and not for the better. The above game is only a taste of the excrement being provided to the Chess fans of the world. Back in the day any form of speed Chess was considered an exhibition. We marveled when Bobby Fischer decimated the competition, “In April 1970, Bobby scored 19-3 (+17 -1 =4) to win the unofficial “Speed Chess Championship of the World,” which was held in Herceg Novi, Yugoslavia.” (

That was then and this is now and it is obvious speed kills. Yet, because of the Chess programs Chess has no choice other than to hold the time limit of a game to the human bladder. It is either that or having every player wear a diaper. What, you think I’m kidding? How do you think a NASCAR driver disposes of waste material during a four or five hour race? Needing petrol is not the only reason a driver looks forward to a pit stop.

Back in the day we would play around the clock on Saturday and return for another possibly ten hours, AND WE LIKED IT!

These daze it seems the Chess people in charge are moving toward rawhide Chess. As in “Head ’em up Move ’em out, Rawhide.”

As I was wondering why anyone in their right mind would watch Rawhide Chess the answer was provided today by GM Kevin Spraggett on his excellent blog, Spraggett on Chess:

“We have all noticed this phenomenon from Day#1 of our very first visit to the tournament hall. A densely packed crowd gathers about a board, and when you investigate you find that one of the players is about to lose.
The expectation is palpable in the spectators’ facial expressions. It does not matter if the players are masters or beginners: the coming ‘execution’ is worth the wait!
It is difficult to explain this phenomenon, I suppose it has to do with human nature. And probably also explains why more people are willing to watch a blitz game than a slow game. A blitz game allows for faster executions!”

Reading this caused me to recall something former Georgia, and Georgia Senior, Chess Champion David Vest said to me around the turn of the century. “You only watch NASCAR to watch the wrecks.” The retort was, “You only watch the horses because they crash and burn on the track.” I was afraid of the Drifter sending me into the High Planes, but fortunately, he kept it together…

The Moves That Matter Finale: The Tragedy of Chess

Jonathan writes, “Intellectual beauty is the lifeblood of chess rather than something that occurs as a one-off historic event. World-class games are replayed thousands of times to open-jawed amazement. But there are beautiful ideas permeating otherwise unremarkable games between players of all abilities. What makes the beauty of chess ideas not merely interesting, but also important, is that beauty and truth are so closely intertwined. If an idea does not ‘work’ it might be impressive, or even aesthetically appealing, but it can’t really be beautiful. The perception of intellectual truth and beauty, in chess at least, is not relative to the subjective intent of the players, but to aesthetic qualities of the ideas that feel more objective.”

“The tragedy of chess is that many use it to make themselves real and add depth and definition to their lives, but the game is not ultimately fit for this purpose. However culturally resonant it may be, it remains a game within the game of life, not the game of life itself.”

“Chess is not a waste of time, but time is scarce and there is more to life than chess.”

“Many of those who love the cultural contours that have surrounded the game for decades sense that its meaning and mystery and majesty is slowly ebbing away.”

“This book is a personal story, an expert guide to the chess world, and a philosophy of life in general.”

“What chess taught me, through contrasting the intense drama of the game with the relative monotony of life, is that beyond pleasure, purpose and even meaning, we have deep need to make ourselves feel real.”

“The sublest and most enduring gift that chess gave me is the awareness that we can feel gratitude for life regardless of the happiness it offers at any given moment.”

“On reflection, while one of many reasons to write this book was to share my deep love of chess, another was atonement. My chess career was characterised by significant success that fell short of complete fulfillment. Ever since I started a professional life outside of chess I wanted to finish this book to be at peace with the relationship between my past and my future.”

“I miss many things about playing chess regularly and seriously. I miss believing that each move in each game really matters, I miss the sense of strength and power and dignity that comes with playing well. I miss the felt sense of honour and self-overcoming when you make better decisions because you have learned your lessons well. I miss the clarity of purpose experienced at each moment of each game, the lucky escape from defeat and the thrill of the chase towards victory. And yet, I like what has become possible because I am no longer living through and for the game. I feel liberated from the centripetal pull of chess; it is easier now for my thoughts and feeling to move outwards rather than inwards.”

“Other people play the game of chess, and I feel like one of them now, as if the part of me that plays chess is an autonomous region of my psyche, rather than the sovereign part of my identity. My mind is still charmed by the game, but my soul feels free of it.”

Jonathan writes, “I prefer to end with the disarming thoughts of the fourteenth-century Persian poet Hafiz:

Tripping Over Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move
That the saint is now continually

Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, ‘I Surrender!’

Whereas, my dear, I am afraid
you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.

This is the end of the ongoing review. I hope each of you who have read this review obtain the book. Although I have written extensively about the book the fact is that what was written is only the tip of an iceberg. This is one of, if not the most beautiful book about Chess I have had the good fortune to read. Much time has been spent thinking about the ideas contained in the wonderful book. Everyone who reads this book will profit from so doing.

Shifting the social imaginary | Blog by Jonathan Rowson

Jonathan Rowson — Integrating Our Souls, Systems, and Society

The Moves That Matter Part 5: The King Ain’t Got No Hustle


Jonathan Rowson writes, “I have a friend who never reads or watches anything recommended by only one person, but acts almost immediately on the advice of two or more. He enjoys looking out for such signals and waits for the world to reveal to him what he should do. He says he appreciates books and films all the more when he senses that they are meant for him, and while I am charmed by his methodology, I fear for his sanity. I thought of him when I started watching The Wire

on DVD in 2011. ( The series is a gritty and sometimes harrowing take on the urban drug scene in Baltimore, USA, and is awash with swearing and violence. From that kind of description, I found it hard to imagine I could like it, yet with so many trusted friends telling me I would, I relented, and was pleasantly surprised.”

The opening theme music for HBO’s series The Wire is a song written by Tom Waits titled “Way Down in the Hole” (1987). Each year, during the series’ five-season run, the producers selected or solicited a different version of the song. As a series, The Wire is often interpreted as lacking a space for representations of Black spirituality. Each of the five seasons features complex institutional characterizations and explorations of the Street, the Port, the Law, the Hall (i.e., politics), the School, and/or the Paper (i.e., media). Through these institutional characters and the individual characters that inhabit, construct, and confront them, The Wire depicts urban America, writ large across the canvas of cultural and existential identity. For all of its institutional complexity, The Wire then serially marginalizes Black spirituality in favor of realism, naturalism, and some may argue, nihilism.1 “Way Down in the Hole” is a paratextual narrative that embodies this marginalization and creates a potential space for viewers (and listeners) of the show, one that frames each episode and the entire run, through literary and spiritual Black musical contexts. The multiple versions of “Way Down in the Hole” ultimately function as a marginalized repository for the literary and spiritual narratives that are connected to the series—narratives that become legible via intertextual analyses and in turn render visible The Wire’s least visible entities: Black spirituality and the Black Church.2 (

Something similar happened to me some years after Jonathan decided to invest the time watching what has come to be on everyone’s short list of the best series to grace a screen. For many years I considered the best television series of the genre commonly known as ‘Cops and Robbers’, to be Homicide: Life on the Street

The Wire rivaled Homicide and may have even superseded it. Ironically, both series are set in Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

“The characters are raw and compelling and their dialect electrically authentic. I remember being irritated to find that audiences in America watched some films set in Scotland, like Trainspotting, with English subtitles, but the street language of The Wire is also so far from conventional English that I initially had to do the same. Still, in an early episode I knew I had made a good decision to watch when I saw one young drug dealer – D’Angelo – teach two others – Bodie and Wallace – how to play chess.

“Ya’ll can’t be playing checkers on no chessboard yo!” – D’Angelo Barksdale

this particular scene is an extraordinary work of art; a beguiling mixture of social commentary, existential despair, youthful hope and dark humour.”

“D’Angelo describes the king as ‘the kingpin’ and says that the aim of the game is to protect your own king and get the king of the other side. He says the king can move one square in any direction but that he doesn’t have ‘hustle’.”

“There are many worlds within that word: hustle. As a noun and a verb, hustle hints at a relationship between a setting and a plot, a juxtaposition that defines the moral ambiguity of characters in The Wire. Describing the king’s lack of hustle is a succinct way to say that the king is rarely out on the streets; in professional terms he does not have to solicit clients. The expression also means the king does not directly display force, he’s not typically aggressive, he’s not illicit, not in a hurry, but equally he doesn’t have what you might need to get things done. ‘Hustle’ is sometimes admirable, not least when it seems necessary; the word conveys the spirit of entrepreneurial transgression needed to survive.”

“The king

may not have hustle, but nonetheless he survives for longer than the other pieces by definition. Checkmate – from the Persian Shah Mat – literally means the king is dead. ‘The man’ is therefore the ultimate target of attack, but he is surrounded by people who will give their lives to protect him, and often do. Most chess endgames when few pieces remain, are characterized by the king suddenly becoming emboldened, partly because with fewer enemies around it is relatively safe to come out ‘into the street’, but also because there are fewer allies left to do his hustling for him.”
“The realization that life-and-death chances are not fairly distributed is what makes the chess scene from The Wire so poignant.”

D’Angelo (center), explaining chess to Wallace (left) and Bodie (right), triangulated in a
way as to distinguish a hierarchy within the Barksdale crew

“As the rules of the game are described by D’Angelo, Wallace and Bodie can see their own lives in the game’s metaphors, giving rise to an open question of who or what exactly they are living in service of, and why.”
“Bodie, himself a pawn in the drug wars, points to the pawns, and asks about ‘them little baldheaded bitches’. D’Angelo explains that they are like soldiers and shows how they move, saying they are out on the ‘front lines’. Bodie gets excited by the possibility of pawns getting promoted, about becoming ‘top dog’ if he can ‘get to the end’. D’Angelo is quick to disabuse him of the probability of that happening, implying that they often get ‘capped’ (shot) quickly.”

‘The queen ain’t no bitch. She got all the moves.’

“Bodie shoots back that this may not happen if they are ‘smart-ass pawns’, which he himself later proves to be, surviving and rising through the ranks until series four. Wallace, on the other hand, proved as vulnerable as most pawns do, and died a few episodes later when he was just sixteen after trying to leave the drug scene. Bodie, Wallace’s friend, was also his assassin.”

“The writers loop back to this scene in series four when Bodie is speaking with Detective McNulty and considering his next move. Bodie is resolute about not being a snitch and conveys that he has done everything he was told to do by his bosses since he was thirteen, including killing his friend Wallace. McNulty know the context and has clearly grown to admire Bodie, calling him ‘a soldier’, as D’Angelo called the pawns earlier. At that moment, after years of imagining he might somehow escape or transform his fate, Bodie sees the truth of being a pawn more clearly, and realizes he is still ‘one of them little bitches on the chessboard.’ McNulty clarifies: ‘Pawns.'”

“In an early chess manual published around the middle of the sixtenenth century, Francois-Andre Philidor

describes pawns as ‘the soul of chess’, and this line is widely quoted by chess teachers and commentators because we know and feel its truth. Pawns are not the most powerful pieces, and they are mostly at the mercy of events, but they have a certain amount of hustle and they both set the scene and shape the narrative.
What occurred to me while watching The Wire is that most of us are pawns to a greater or lesser extent. We have our moments of power, fame and glory, but we are always potentially alone and vulnerable to forces beyond our control. We are the soul of the game of life, and our lives are precious not in spite of our fragility, but because of it.”