Irresponsible Chess Poetry Mediums

Irresponsible Mediums: The Chess Games of Marcel Duchamp

by Aaron Tucker, published by Book Thug of Toronto (, (Not to be confused with the bookstore with my all time favorite name, BookThugNation, which “…is an used bookstore and community space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”

is a small volume of poems created by a computer program, Chess Bard, created by the author. The only redeeming thing found in the book is the introduction by Jennifer Shahade,

and the only THREE games by Duchamp published. There are EIGHTY poems. There is enough blank space to include almost every Chess game played by Marcel Duchamp in his life!

“All artists are not chess players – all chess players are artists.” – Marcel Duchamp

Jennifer begins her introduction with, “In my study of Marcel Duchamp’s chess games and career, I am often struck by his statement that “Beauty in chess is closer to beauty in poetry; the chess pieces are the block alphabet which shapes thought; and these thoughts, although making a visual design on the chessboard, express their beauty abstractly, like a poem.” Duchamp’s understanding that visualization is at the centre of chess explains to me how he reached chess mastery at nearly 40 years old, a relatively advanced age to become fluent in chess patterns. In teaching adult students chess, this visual aspect is often the hardest-because they are so anxious for verbal cues and shortcuts.”

Also included in the introduction is her (in)famous picture sitting across from a tattooed naked man.

This one was left out of the book:

Jennifer writes about “blindfold” Chess:

“In the fall of 2015, I went to Toronto to play my first-ever public blindfold game with Aaron Tucker, as an experiment for this project. The blindfold game also generated a poem. I’d given hundreds of simultaneous chess exhibitions called and talks, but had firmly resisted on of the most crowd-pleasing of chess spectacles, the “blindfold.” I never enjoyed the mental exertion, which literally induces headaches. It never seemed like an efficient way to improve general chess strength.”

Contrast this with an article at Chessbase, Learning to play blindfold with Fritz 16 by Albert Silver on 1/20/2018, which begins, “The overriding theme of Fritz 16’s new functions is chess improvement, and among them is a special feature for blindfold chess that can help you refine your visualization skills like no other.”

Oh really? Jennifer begs to differ. Reading on one finds:

A valuable training technique

“On the surface the blindfold chess feature in Fritz 16 could be dismissed as just a curiosity, or as a function that is beyond your current skillset. Whatever the case, this would be a serious mistake, since used properly it could become one of your key training tools, even if you can barely play a few moves without seeing before you get lost. In fact, especially if that is the case!” (

That last sentence caused me to recall a grammar school teacher who said that because of my writing I alone had caused her to use “several” red ink pens that year. Knowing this guy is writing for a living would, no doubt, make her turn over in the grave…

The book begins with this game:

“Playing White vs Mario Schroeder (New York, 1922)

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 e6 4. Nc3 Nbd7 5. cxd5 exd5 6. Qb3 c6 7. e4 Qb6 8.
Qxb6 Nxb6 9. e5 Ne4 10. Bd3 Bb4 11. Bd2 Nxd2 12. Nxd2 O-O 13. f4 Bd7 14. O-O c5
15. a3 cxd4 16. axb4 dxc3 17. bxc3 Rac8 18. Rfc1 Na4 19. c4 Nb2 20. Be2 Nxc4
21. Nxc4 dxc4 22. Rxa7 c3 23. Rxb7 Bf5 24. g4 Be4 25. Rd7 f5 26. Rd4 c2 27.
Bc4+ Kh8 28. Bb3 Rfd8 29. Rxd8+ Rxd8 30. Bxc2 Rc8 31. e6 Rxc2 32. Rd1 Rc8 33.
e7 Re8 34. b5 Kg8 35. Rd8 Kf7 36. gxf5 Rxe7 37. Kf2 Rb7 38. Rd4 Bxf5 39. Rb4
Rb6 40. Ke3 Bd7 41. Kd4 Rxb5 0-1

After this game was put into the “Chess Bard” the program ejected this “gem.”

machine sealed sand or
resistance, any blurred sketch, instant
questions deserted cell or cord

single cast or broken sand
warily measures some seashell

single silicon gobbles within
the reassemblage, dormouse beside coherence

each speed the purposeful decomposition
gobbles beside the cloudy redundancy

I cannot make this up. The Chess Bard did…

“Playing Black vs Henri Weenink (The Hague, 1928)

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. Bd3 Nc6 5. c3 Nf6 6. Bg5 h6 7. Bf4 e6 8. Nf3
Bd6 9. Bxd6 Qxd6 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Bd7 12. Nbd2 Na5 13. Ne5 b5 14. b4 Nc4 15.
Ndxc4 dxc4 16. Bc2 a5 17. a3 Ra7 18. Re3 axb4 19. axb4 Rfa8 20. Rc1 Bc8 21. Rg3
Bb7 22. Ng4 Qf4 23. Nxf6+ Qxf6 24. Bb1 Kf8 25. Qh5 Ra1 26. Qd1 Qf4 27. Rg4 Qd6
28. Rg3 Bd5 29. Qg4 g6 1/2-1/2

Imagine that centre centers hooded diagonal!

personable estimate, some clogged radar
negates and blesses some fork

the knight, verbose can or
insult fits below evolution or
proud cog lithely reproduces

I once lost a game due to that centre centers hooded diagonal! Dammit!

The last game given in the book:

Playing Black vs Eduard Glass (Folkstone, 1933)

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Bb4 4. Nf3 b6 5. Bg5 Bb7 6. Rc1 O-O 7. e3 d6 8. Be2
Nbd7 9. O-O Bxc3 10. Rxc3 Qe8 11. Nd2 e5 12. f4 exd4 13. exd4 Ne4 14. Nxe4 Bxe4
15. f5 f6 16. Bd2 Qd8 17. Bh5 d5 18. Qg4 Kh8 19. Rh3 g5 20. Bg6 1-0

Fortunately, the poem is as short as the game:

the estimated half or insult (insult)
rustically forgets bookshelf among memory

a L-shaped butt suspends
the centre devilishly contains plaster

Now I would like to focus on two poems with no game attached.

Playing Black vs Gosta Stoltz (Hamburg, 1930)

this centre or diagonal
suspends and forgets butt, curiosity
and estimate (estimate, estimate) between elderly punctuation

a memory, this centre
accusingly short-circuits or materializes database

clogged mathematics, any washed smartphone
reproduces woman under beefy ghost

a farm or truthful ownership
core slimes and traps

Playing Black vs Frank James Marshall (Hamburg, 1930)

this instant, estimate punctually slights
central noise and collared revision

Which personable path darkens any foreground?
a slight pitch

gear must delightfully evolve bust!

specific or wooden isolation, isolation
pitches bust or equivalent opposition

nonstop mineral and each smartphone tricks

I do not believe Stoltz, Marshall, or Duchamp had a smartphone in Hamburg back in 1930, but I could be mistaken.

For the record, I will publish the two games since the author, or the Chess Bard, chose to leave the pages blank. The book would have been better if the author had chosen to leave the “poems,” and I use the word loosely, off of the page in lieu of the games…

Playing Black vs Gosta Stoltz (Hamburg, 1930)
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6 (Duchamp, MY MAN!) 6. Nf3 Bf5 7. g3 Nd7 (…7 Qd5) 8.Nh4 (c3) Be4 9. f3 Bg6 10. Bg2 Qc7 11. O-O e6 12. Qe2 O-O-O 13. c4 Nb6 14. Bf4 Qd7 (14…e5!?)
15. Rfd1 Be7 16. a3 Na8 (16…Rhe8) 17. d5 e5 18. Be3 Nb6 (18…f5!?) 19. f4 cxd5 20. c5 Na4 21. c6 Qe6
22. Qb5 Nb6 23. Bxb6 axb6 24. Qxb6 bxc6 25. f5 Qd6 26. Rxd5 Qc7 27. Qa6+ Qb7
28. Rxd8+ Rxd8 29. Qxb7+ Kxb7 30. fxg6 fxg6 31. Rc1 Rd6 32. Bf3 f5 33. Rd1 Kb6 34. Ng2 Kb5 35. Be2+ Ka4 36. Ne3 Kb3 37. Rxd6 Bxd6 38. Bd1+ Ka2 39. Nc4 Bc5+ 40. Kf1 Bd4 41. a4 Kb1 42. a5 Kc1 43. Ba4 1-0

Playing Black vs Frank James Marshall (Hamburg, 1930)

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 3. c4 e6 4. Bg5 Be7 5. Nc3 Bb7 6. Qc2 d5 7. e3 O-O 8. cxd5
Nxd5 9. Bxe7 Qxe7 10. Nxd5 Bxd5 11. Bd3 h6 12. a3 c5 13. dxc5 Rc8 14. b4 bxc5
15. Rc1 Nd7 16. Ba6 Rc7 17. e4 Bb7 18. Bxb7 Rxb7 19. bxc5 Qxc5 20. O-O Qxc2 21.
Rxc2 Kf8 22. Rfc1 Ke7 23. Nd4 Ke8 24. f4 Rab8 25. e5 Nf8 26. Rc5 Rb1 27. Rxb1
Rxb1+ 28. Kf2 Rb7 29. Rc8+ Ke7 30. Ra8 Ng6 31. g3 Kd7 32. a4 Ne7 33. Nb5 Nc8
34. g4 Rxb5 35. axb5 Kc7 36. g5 hxg5 37. b6+ Kb7 38. Rxc8 Kxc8 1/2-1/2

The price for this book is $18, but it also available as an eBook, which must be cheaper. EIGHTEEN BUCKS!? Fortunately, I suggested my local library system, the Athens regional library system, the Georgia public library of the year in 2017, purchase this book, something I now deeply regret.


Land of the Sky XXXI

The turnout at the 2018 Land of the Sky Chess tournament in the beautiful city of Asheville, in the Great State of North Carolina,

Sunset adds a warm glow to the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina

hosted by Wilder Wadford for over a quarter of a century, was down considerably from the previous year, although it was comparable to the number of players in 2016. This century the number of players has consistently been between 160 and 260, so the official total of 173 is on the low end of the spectrum. Back in the day, meaning last century, LOTS drew as many as 300 participants. It is
difficult to get a handle on the turnout trend line because of the occasional inclement weather in the mountains (one year we were forced to stay Sunday night because the down hill driveway was covered with ice, making it impossible to traverse), but I do see that the 3-year running average shows it down considerably. For example, the three years after We The People were Bushwhacked, 2009-2011, show an average of 185; while the past three years show an average of 181. In comparison, 2012-2014 shows an average of 231. Inquires to my mountain friends, and others, as to possible reasons for the decline run the gamut. The prize fund has stayed the same for about a quarter of a century. There is no corporate sponsorship like in Europe, or even here in the states. I played in the Govornor’s Cup in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2002 and the community had gotten behind the tournament in a big way. Could it be that communities have turned off Chess? Another possible reason expressed is that the Land of the Sky tournament shows a large disparity between the young and the old, with not so many players between those ages. Another wrote, “Why should I spend all that money to go play chess when I can make hundreds of dollars staying at home teaching?” Although he has a point, the fact is that if everyone did the same there would be no more Chess tournaments, and, hence, no more students.
Another stated bluntly, “I think the major reason is Chess in the US is declining in general.” One player who did not attend offered this frightening reason, “Bacon, people are AFRAID OF NUCLEAR WAR, and are holding their cards close to the chest, afraid to go anywhere or spend any money.” One wrote, “You’re actually writing about the LOTS? Maybe there should have been more publicity before the tournament. You’re closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.” Lastly, “Chess is doomed!”

On to the games! The first game was played in the Under 2200 section. Gene Nix, the main man in Greenville, South Carolina, President, Greenville Chess Club, and Treasurer of the SC Chess Association, faced off with Randal Ferguson, who has fallen one point below NM. Randal has been out of action for almost a year and the rust showed. Some years ago he was a solid NM, and I say that from personal experience as I lost to him at least once and always thought of him as a strong player. The game was played Saturday morning at the “hurry up and get it over” speed.

Gene Nix (1907) vs Randal Ferguson 2199

Round one

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. g4 b5 11. a3 Bb7 12. Bg2 Rc8 13. Rd2 Nb6 14. Re1 Nc4 15. Rd3 O-O 16. Bh4 Rfd8 ( Nxe4!) 17. Bg3 e5 (The normal break would appear to be 17…d5) 18. Nf5 exf4 19. Bxf4 Ne5 20. Bxe5 dxe5 21. Nxe7 Qxe7 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 23. g5 Nd7 24. h4 Nb6 25. Rd1 Rc8 26. Bh3 Rd8 27. Qf2 Rxd1 28. Nxd1 Qd6 29. Nc3 g6 30. h5 (Maybe simply Bg2) gxh5 31. Bf5 Kg7 32. Qh2 Nc4 33. Qxh5 h6 34. Nd5 Bxd5 35. exd5 hxg5 36. Qxg5 Kf8 37. Be4 Qb6 38. Bd3 Qe3 39. Qxe3 Nxe3 40. d6 Ke8 41. a4 Kd7 42. axb5 axb5 43. Bxb5 Kxd6 44. Kd2 Nd5 45. c4 Nc7 46. Ba4 Kc5 47. Kc3 Na6 48. Bb5 Nb4 49. Bd7 f6 50. Bf5 Nc6 51. Kd3 Nd4 52. Be4 Ne6 53. Bf5 Nd4 54. Be4 Kb4 55. Bg6 Kb3 56. Bf7 Kxb2 57. c5 Kc1 58. Bd5 Kd1 59. c6 Nxc6 60. Bxc6 1/2-1/2

The next game features the Yerminator, GM Alex Yermolinsky,

known for his Yermo’s Travelogue pieces on Chessbase (, versus the Ol’ Swindler, NM Neal Harris.

I write this with a smile on my face, which is what Neal had on his face when informed that he had been given the moniker “Ol’ Swindler” by a disgruntled legendary Georgia Chess player who had lost to Neal in the same line, and in the same way, as he had previously, going down in flames quickly both times. The legendary one exclaimed, “That Neal ain’t nothing but an Ol’ Swindler!!!” Let that be a lesson to you; go over your losses so you do not lose that particular way again.

Alex Yerminator (2587) vs Ol’ Swindler (2209)

Round two

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 Nc6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. a3 Bxc3 8. bxc3 O-O 9. a4 (This is a Theoretical Novelity) e5 (If a student had played this game Neal would, most probably, explained that white intends on playing Ba3 next, attacking the Rook on f8, so it would be advisible to move the Rook to e8 now in order to take the sting outta the Bishop move. I am far stronger when reviewing a game than when sitting at the board with the clock ticking. Hence, Armchair Warrior! Why would Neal play e5? My guess is that, being an aggressive type Ol’ Swindler, he wanted to come at the GM!) 10. Ba3 Re8 11. Ng5 Be6 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. O-O e4 14. f3 Nd5 15. Qd2 Nb6 16. Ba2 exf3 17. Rxf3 Ne5 18. Rh3 Nec4 19. Bxc4 Nxc4 20. Qd3 Nxa3 21. Qxh7 Kf7 22. Rf1 Ke7 23. Qxg7 Kd6 24. Qe5 Kd7 25. Rh7 Kc8 26. Rff7 Rh8 1-0

The game of the tournament occurred in the third round. Pairings are everything in a short Swiss tournament and the Yerminator drew the short straw, being given the black pieces against the much younger, and stronger, GM Elshan Moradiabadi.

GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613) vs Alex Yermolinsky (2587)

Round 3

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Nbd2 d6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e5 7. d5 Bxd2 8. Nxd2 Ne7 9. e4 O-O 10. O-O Ng6 11. Qc2 Ne8 12. c5 dxc5 13. Qxc5 Nd6 14. b3 b6 15. Qc2 f5 16. Bb2 f4 17. Nf3 Qe7 18. Rac1 Rf7 19. h4 Bg4 20. Ng5 f3 21. Nxf7 fxg2 22. Kxg2 Nxf7 23. Qxc7 Nxh4 24. gxh4 Qxh4 25. Qc3 Be2 26. Rfe1 Qxe4 27. f3 Qg6 28. Kf2 Bb5 29. Rg1 Qf5 30. Qe3 Rd8 31. Qe4 Qf6 32. Rc7 Ng5 33. Qg4 h6 34. Bc1 e4 35. Bxg5 hxg5 36. Qe6 Qxe6 37. dxe6 Rd2 38. Kg3 exf3 39. Kxf3 Rd3 40. Ke4 1-0

The next morning in the fourth round this gem was produced:

GM Alexander Ivanov (2568) vs GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613)

Round four

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Nxe5 7. Rxe5 Be7 8. Bf1 O-O 1/2-1/2

With only 18 players in the open section this draw made some kind of sense to the GMs. Ivanov is a Senior while Moradiabadi is at the peak of his career. Why bother playing a real game when they can shake hands and rest before the last round? Why indeed…

Alex Yermolinsky (2587) vs GM Alexander Ivanov (2568)

Round five

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. e3 a6 4. b3 Bb7 1/2-1/2

There oughta be a rule against crap like this. Oh wait, there is! It’s just that the organizer/TD with cojones enough to forfeit those who cheat Cassia has yet to be born! Alexander Ivanov

made ONLY TWELVE FORKIN’ MOVES on Sunday to steal his prize money. Pitiful…And Donnie gray had the audacity to ask, What’s the matter with draws? at at Chessbase. HERE IS YOUR ANSWER, DONNIE!!! (

This left it up to Moradiabadi to play a real game of Chess in the last round while having the advantage of the white pieces facing a young man rated about 300 points, at least one class, maybe two, below him. Just another day at the office for the Grandmaster…

GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613) vs Sanjay Ghatti (2341)

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Qxc4 Bd5 11. Qd3 Be4 12. Qe3 c6 13. Nc3 Bc2 14. Re1 Bg6 15. Ne5 Nd5 16. Qd2 Nd7 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. e4 Nxc3 19. bxc3 Qa5 20. Qb2 Rab8 21. Bd2 e5 22. f4 exd4 23. cxd4 Qb6 24. Qxb6 Nxb6 25. Rec1 Bf6 26. e5 Be7 27. a5 Nc8 28. Be3 Bd8 29. d5 cxd5 30. Bxd5 Re8 31. Bxb7 Rxb7 32. Rxc8 Rc7 33. Ra8 f6 34. Rd1 1-0

This left Moradiabadi with 4 1/2 points, a full point ahead of the two older GMs.Ivanov and Yermo left the beautiful western North Carolina mountains with $350 each. Elsan nabbed $880. Sanjay Ghatti and Mark Biernacki (2187), who beat NM Peter Bereolos (2244) in the last round, tied for ‘best of the rest’with 3 points, along with Neo Zhu (2142), who forced Benjamin Yan (1986) to take the dreaded blue pill in the final round. Because of the way things are done in Chess Biernacki and Zhu each won $220, while the higher rated Sanjay Ghatti left with only $180. To make things even worse for Sanjay his performance rating was 2376, better than both Biernacki (2323) and Zhu (2117). In addition, the latter two players had white in three games, while Mr. Ghatti had the black pieces three times; white only two. Who said Chess tournaments were fair? I would attempt to explain this to my international readers, but why bother? The inequities have been there for decades, or longer, and the will to improve things in the Chess world is simply not there…

In the hard fought Asheville section, for players under 2200, David High (2055) drew with Michael Kliber (1915) in the final round to tie for first, along with Alexander Rutten (1998), who became an Expert. Each scored 4 points. All scored $373. Four players each scored 3 1/2 points in the section. Three of the four garnered $147, while one fortunate son left with $280.

Michael Kliber (1915) vs David High (2055)

Last round

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. c3 d6 6. e4 Qe8 7. Bd3 e5 8. O-O h6 9. Bh4 Nh5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Ne1 Nf4 12. Nc4 Nd7 13. Ne3 Nc5 14. f3 Be6 15. Qc2 g5 16. Bf2 Qc6 17. Bc4 Bxc4 18. Nxc4 Ncd3 19. Nxd3 Qxc4 20. Nxf4 exf4 21. Rfd1 Rfd8 22. h4 Rxd1 23. Qxd1 Qb5 24. Qb3 a6 25. Rd1 Be5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. Qxb5 axb5 28. Rd5 f6 29. Rxb5 b6 30. a3 Rd8 31. Be1 Rd1 32. Kf2 Kf7 33. Ke2 Rb1 34. Bd2 Ke6 35. Be1 1/2-1/2

Alexander Rutten (1973) vs Peter Michelman (2065)

Round 4

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. O-O O-O 7. d3 d6 8. h3 Bd7 9. Be3 Ne8 10. d4 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Ne5 12. Nce2 Nc4 13. Bc1 Qb6 14. b3 Ne5 15. Be3 Qc7 16. c4 a6 17. Rc1 Qa5 18. Rc2 Nc6 19. Nxc6 Bxc6 20. Nd4 Bd7 21. Kh2 Rc8 22. f4 Nc7 23. Ne2 Ne6 24. e5 Bc6 25. exd6 exd6 26. f5 Bxg2 27. Kxg2 gxf5 28. Nf4 Nxf4 29. Bxf4 d5 (Rfd8!?) 30. Bd6 Rfd8 31. c5 Qb5 32. Rxf5 d4 33. Rcf2 Qc6 34. Kh2 b6 (? f6 !?) 35. Rxf7 bxc5 1-0

In the Buncombe section Benjamin Webb (1672) drew with Brian Lee Moore (1677) in the last round to finish clear first with 4 1/2 points. Mr. Webb won the second highest amount of money of all the winners of all the sections, taking home $560.

Benjamin Webb (1672) vs Brian Lee Moore (1677)

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. exd6 exd6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bg4 8. Be3 g6 9. Qe2 Qe7 10. O-O-O Bg7 11. c5 dxc5 12. dxc5 Bxc3 13. cxb6 Bg7 14. bxc7 Qxc7 15. Bb6 Qe7 16. Qxe7 Nxe7 17. Bb5 Nc6 18. Rhe1 Be6 19. Bc5 Rd8 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nd4 Bxd4 22. Bxd4 O-O 23. Bxa7 Bxa2 24. Bc5 Rxd1 25. Rxd1 Re8 26. Bd4 Bb3 27. Rd3 Re1 28. Kd2 Rd1 29. Kc3 Rxd3 30. Kxd3 Kf8 31. Bf6 Ke8 32. Ke3 Kd7 33. Kf4 Ke6 34. Bc3 h5 35. Kg5 1/2-1/2

Brian joined Vladimir Besirovic, Asha Kumar, Eli Davis Moore, Lukas Komel, and last, but not least, my friend, fellow Senior, Bruce Goodwin, the Chess Cat, the man behind the Smoky Mountain Chess Club, with 4 points, to tie for second place in the section with the most players. Mr. Kormel won $280; Mr. Eli Davis Moore and Mr. Kumar each left with $220; while Brian Lee Moore and Vladimir Besirovic were lucky to leave with $93.

How God Plays Chess

An article, How God plays chess, by Frederic Friedel, was published 1/23/2018. at the Chessbase website. It contained this story:

“One day World Champion Garry Kasparov,

who towers above all his rivals, reached an Elo of 3000. When the rating list was released the heavens over Baku opened and an Angel of the Lord descended. He approached Garry and said: “For what you have achieved you are invited to play a game of chess against God.”

Garry was overwhelmed. He dressed into his finest and got onto the golden escalator that transported him to heaven. There the Angel led him into a small room where God was sitting, drinking coffee and looking at a computer screen. Garry was somewhat surprised that He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and had a fairly unkempt white beard. He bowed deeply and said:

“Oh Almighty Lord, Creator of the Universe…”

“Just call me God,” God interrupted. “Or G, which is what most of my friends call me.”

“Okay, God, it is a great privilege for me to stand in your presence and to actually play a game of chess against you. Of course I have absolutely no expectation of winning. I assume you play a perfect game!?”

“Yes,” replied God, “I have done the 32-piece endgame.”

“Ahh,” said Garry, “Of course that is trivially easy for you.”

“No, no,” said God, “it was really tough. More than 10^35 legal positions — it took the matter from a good-sized planet to store. But let us play. You can have white.”

So Garry played his favourite 1.e4, expecting an exciting Sicilian. But after a few moves the game had left all known theory and a weird position was on the board. Actually God’s position was in shambles. “This is divine humour,” Garry said, “You want me to have a chance, God?” But He just smiled and said “No.” Soon Garry was two pawns up and had an overwhelming position. “But I am winning for sure now,” he said. “No,” said God, “it is a draw. The whole game is a draw. Can’t be won.”

Garry was not convinced. He played on with great attacking moves, and even won an additional piece. Surely now he was completely winning. He reached a stage where it was clearly only a matter of technique to mate the opponent. However, try as he might, he was not able to actually deliver mate. There was always some unexpected defence, some bizarre move that prevented it. He tried this and that, but somehow could not succeed.

Then suddenly God interrupted a phone call he was making and stared in disbelief at the board. “My Self!” he said, “It’s a win! I haven’t seen one in a billion years.” “But I can’t find it,” said Garry, “I cannot seem to convert my advantage to a mate.” “Oh, no,” God said, “it is a win for me — for Black. This only happens once in a decillion times.”

The game proceeded, and God, now fully concentrated, started making moves that were completely incomprehensible to Garry. But they slowly improved Black’s position. Soon the game was equal, and then Black started to take what for Garry seemed to be the “initiative”. Then, in a flurry of unexpectedly brilliant moves, he found himself mated.

“I will be eternally grateful, God, for this demonstration of your omniscience,” Garry said in parting. “I thank you for a very interesting game, Garry,” God replied. “A one in a billion experience.”

The entire article can be found here:

The Tortured Face of an International Tournament Chess Photographer

An article, The Tortured Faces of International Tournament Chess Players by Michael Hardy, was published in Wired “1.22.18 09:00 AM.”

It begins:

“In 1987, Russian grandmasters Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov faced off in Seville, Spain for the World Chess Championship. David Lloda, then a nine-year-old boy growing up the small northern town of Asturias, remembers being captivated by a newspaper photograph of the two chess geniuses. “Two grown men, playing a mysterious game, with those little figures carved in wood?” he recalls thinking. “That seemed interesting.”

Unfortunately the author of the article, which is about a recently published book of photographs of Chess players, The Thinkers, misspelled the name of the photographer who authored the book, David Llada. Adding insult to injury, Michael Hardy did it again in the next paragraph:

“A few days later, a teacher at Lloda’s school taught him the basic chess moves, sparking a lifelong passion for the game that has persisted throughout stints as a journalist, author, entrepreneur, and money manager—and, most recently, photographer. About five years ago, Lloda began traveling the world to shoot chess tournaments, who then hired him to help them get publicity.”

After skipping a paragraph which does not include Llada’s name, Michael Hardy does it again but also gets it right once in the fourth paragraph:

Lloda has included over a hundred of his portraits in his new book The Thinkers, which was published earlier this month by Quality Chess Books. Llada’s favorite photos in the book are the ones he took of his childhood heroes, Kasparov and Karpov. He particularly liked Kasparov’s picture: “I think it captured his soul, all that energy in him.”

The last paragraph:

Although chess might not appear the most exciting sport to the average viewer, Lloda captures the game’s intensity through the often tortured faces of its players. “Only those who have played it know how tense a chess game is,” he says. “You spend five or six hours ‘fighting’ with someone, but you can’t touch him, you can’t talk, you can barely move…. All that pent-up tension can be felt by the observer, and I thought it could be captured, too.”

David Llada must feel like Rodney Dangerfield…

Chessbase has an excellent article about the book in which they spell David Llada correctly:

David Llada with new book from Chessbase article

Magnus Carlsen Superman

The World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, did not win the recently completed London Chess Classic. Although he may have lost a battle he won the war by taking the Grand Chess Tour.

One of the headlines at the Chessbase website during the tournament proclaimed, London Chess Classic: Magnus on tilt. (

The article, by Macauley Peterson, began:

“Round 8 saw a startling blunder from the World Champion whose frustration following the game was palpable.”

Later we fans of the Royal Game read this:

Round 8

“For the first few hours of Sunday’s games, it looked like we could be heading for another day of peaceful results. Adams vs Aronian and Vachier-Lagrave vs Anand both ended in early draws, and the remaining games were level. Suddenly, a shock blunder from World Champion Magnus Carlsen flashed up on the screens, a variation which lead to Ian Nepomniachtchi being up a piece, and easily winning. Carlsen resigned just four moves later.

After the game, a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup with Grand Chess Tour commentator GM Maurice Ashley.

These occur in the same conference room in which a live audience enjoys commentary during the round, and around 150 people were crowded into the room to hear from Carlsen.”

Whoa! Let us stop right here and consider what we have just read…

“…a visibly frustrated World Champion stepped into the live webcast interview zone for a contractually obligated webcast standup…” I believe the word “interview” should be inserted after “standup.”

Why would anyone in their right mind put something in any contract, in any game or sport, forcing a player who has just lost to be interviewed by anyone BEFORE THEY HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO DECOMPRESS?! This is incomprehensible, and the sanity of those responsible for forcing anyone to sign a contract that requires the person to be interviewed before having a chance to compose themselves must be questioned.

The article continues:

“A few moments before they were to go on air, Ashley casually reached over to adjust the collar on Carlsen’s sport coat, which had become turned outward awkwardly. Magnus reacted by violently throwing his arms up in the air, silently but forcefully saying “don’t touch me”, and striking Ashley in the process. Maurice was, naturally, taken aback but just seconds later he received the queue that he was live.”

Maurice is a GM, and a pro, not only when it comes to playing Chess, but also when it gets down to interviewing tightly wound Chess players. Since he played the Royal game at the highest level he knows the emotions it can, and does, evoke first hand. Maurice was the first one to ‘fergettaboutit.’

I recall a time during a tournament when a young fellow playing in his first tournament lost control of his emotions and, shall we say, “flared-up.” His mother was aghast, and appalled, saying, “Now you will never be able to come here again.” Since I had given lessons at the school the boy attended I stepped in saying, “Ma’am, that’s not the way it works around here. By the next time your son comes here everyone will have forgotten what happened today.” The mother gave me the strangest look before asking, “Are you just saying that to make me feel better?” I assured her I was not and then someone else interjected, telling her, with a large grin on his face, that I was indeed telling her the truth. Chess people, to their credit, are about the most forgiving people one will ever know.

There followed:

Magnus was clearly in no mood to chat:

“I missed everything. There’s not much else to say. I think I failed to predict a single of his moves, and then, well, you saw what happened.”

“It will be interesting to see if Magnus will recover tomorrow. When asked for his thoughts on the last round pairing he replied, “I don’t care at all. “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task, with that attitude.”

The excellent annotation of the game Magnus lost to Ian Nepomniachtchi

on Chessbase is by GM by Tiger Hillarp-Persson,

who has also annotated games of Go on his blog ( After move 29 Tiger writes, “There were probably a few who thought Magnus would win at this stage…”

Magnus begins going wrong at move 30. He then gives a line and writes, “White is dominating. It is quite out of character for Carlsen to miss something like this. It seems like he wasn’t able to think clearly today.”

Before Magnus plays his 33rd move Tiger writes, “Now White’s pieces are all in the wrong places.”

After White’s 34th move Tiger writes, “Here Carlsen seems to lose his will to fight. Now one mistake follows another.”

Those are very STRONG WORDS! Human World Chess Champions, with the exception of Garry Kasparov when losing to Deep Blue,

do not lose their will to fight!

Yuri Averbakh,

Russian GM, and author, in a 1997 article in New in Chess magazine, the best Chess magazine of ALL TIME, placed chess players into 6 categories; Killers; Fighters; Sportsmen; Gamblers; Artists; and Explorers. Although he listed only Kasparov and Bronstein

as “Fighters,” the World Chess Champion best known for being a “Fighter” was Emanuel Lasker.

I would put current human World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen in the class with Lasker as a “Fighter.”

In an interview at the Chess24 website his opponent in the game, Ian Nepomniachtchi,

had this to say, “To be fair, Magnus had a bad cold during the second half of the tournament and therefore wasn’t in his very best form.”

Nepo is extremely gracious while explaining why Magnus “…seemed to lose his will to fight.” When one is under the weather it is extremely difficult to think clearly, especially as the game goes on and fatigue begins to dominate. Imagine what history would have recorded if Bobby Fischer had not caught a cold after the first few games against former World Chess Champion Tigran Petrosian.

This was a topic of conversation during a meal with Petrosian, Paul Keres,

and future World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov,

at a restaurant in San Antonio, the Golden Egg, during the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in 1972.

Interviewer Colin McGourty asked Nepo this question:

“It seems as though he’s stopped dominating as he did a few years ago. Is that the case?

A few years ago the level he was demonstrating was out of this world, particularly when he wasn’t yet World Champion, plus at times good patches in his career alternated with even better ones. Gradually, though, people have got used to him, and when you’ve already achieved it all, when over the course of a few years you’ve been better than everyone, it gets tougher to motivate yourself. That doesn’t just apply to sport, after all. Magnus has a great deal of interests outside of chess, but even his relatively unsuccessful periods are much more successful than for many of his rivals. Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

There you have it. “Even in what generally wasn’t the tournament of his life he beat Aronian with Black in the final round and finished third i.e. he performed very decently.”

Levon had the year of his life in 2017. He had the White pieces in the last round against a weakened World Champion. He could have ended the year in style with a victory. This from Chessbase:

The Magnus bounce

“The World Champion, after a troubling performance yesterday, appeared once more to be on the brink of defeat with the black pieces against Levon Aronian. Carlsen was considerably worse in the middlegame, but it took just a couple of inaccuracies from Aronian for the World Champion to completely turn the tables. He went on to win, despite knowing that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the Grand Chess Tour standings.

In fact, Aronian offered Carlsen a draw, right after the time control, which Magnus refused, as he was already much better in the position. It was the 11th time in 17 tries that Carlsen came back with a win immediately following a loss, since 2015.” (

Many years ago IM Boris Kogan told me the measure of a Chess player is how he responds to a loss. Many in the same condition would have been happy to settle for a draw in the last round. Some would have made it a quick draw. Not Magnus!
Magnus Carlsen is a worthy World Champion. My admiration for our World Champion has grown immensely.

Consider this headline from the official tournament website:

Round 8 – Carlsen Car Crash at the Classic

11.12.17 – John Saunders reports: The eighth round of the 9th London Chess Classic was played on Sunday 10 December 2017 at the Olympia Conference Centre. The round featured just the one decisive game, which was a disastrous loss for Carlsen, as the result of two terrible blunders.

As bad as that is, it could have been much worse. Even when completely well Magnus has sometimes gotten into trouble early in the game, especially when playing an opening some consider “offbeat.” Every true human World Chess Champion, one who beat the previous title holder in a match, was a trend setter who was emulated by other players of all ranks and abilities. Simply because Magnus opened with the Bird against Mickey Adams

in round seven other players may now begin opening games with 1 f4. It is true that Magnus got into trouble in the opening of that game, but his opponent was unable to take advantage of it and Magnus FOUGHT his way out of trouble. (see the excellent article, including annotations to The Bird game, by Alex Yermolinsky at Chessbase:

As Macauley Peterson

wrote, “Black against Levon Aronian will be no easy task…” That is Black in the LAST ROUND against the player who this year has stolen Magnus Carlsen’s thunder. An obviously under the weather Magnus had Black versus a man who believes he should be the human World Chess Champion. If there were no FIDE (we can only dream…) and things were like they were before World War II, Levon Aronian would have absolutely no trouble whatsoever finding backers for a match with Magnus Carlsen. The outcome of the game could have psychological ramifications for some time to come.

Levon held an advantage through 34 moves, but let it slip with an ill-advised pawn push on his 35th move.

Position before 35. b6

The game ws then even. The player who fought best would win the game. That player was Magnus ‘The Fighter’ Carlsen. The loss must have shattered Levon Aronian’s psyche; there is no other way to put it. Levon had White against a weakened World Champion yet he did not even manage to make a draw. That fact has to be devastating to Aronian. Oh well, Levon has a pretty wife…

FIDE’s Moroccan General Cronyism

A recent article on Chessbase, Morocco Chess Federation hit with corruption troubles, by Diana Mihajlova, dated 12/9/2017, begins:

“The Royal Morocco Chess Federation has been in discord since members of its governing body raised the alarm over impropriety on the part of its leadership, including the disappearance of the equivalent of $200,000 US Dollars. Diana Mihajlova reports on a host of allegations which have beset the federation’s president Mustapha Amazzal.”

This is “Part one of a two-part chronicle.” It continues:

12/9/2017 – The Royal Morocco Chess Federation has been in discord since members of its governing body raised the alarm over impropriety on the part of its leadership, including the disappearance of the equivalent of $200,000 US Dollars. Diana Mihajlova reports on a host of allegations which have beset the federation’s president Mustapha Amazzal. Part one of a two-part chronicle.

It continues:

An uphill battle

“It comes as no surprise that people in power sometimes cannot resist abusing their position for personal benefit. Often, even when detected, the culprits operate with impunity amid comparatively powerless opposition. The sports world is rife with examples, and chess is no exception. In recognition of International Anti-Corruption Day we take a look at a story of a chess federation in turmoil, as its leadership is accused of exploiting the very players it is entrusted to represent.”

There is a reason “…the culprits operate with impunity amid comparatively powerless opposition.”

The reason is that the governing body of World Chess, FIDE, is a completely corrupt organization. For TWO DECADES FIDE has turned a blind eye to the corruption in the Royal Morocco Chess Federation because an investigation into Moroccan corruption could lead into an investigation of FIDE corruption.

From the article: “Among the serious charges are the expropriation of federation funds, players poached or replaced between competing chess clubs without consent or remuneration, suspensions on individual players and clubs without due process or cause, misappropriation of chess sets and clock grants by FIDE, fraudulent submission of arbiter certifications, failure to submit tournament ratings to FIDE, and general cronyism.”

I love the last part about “general cronyism!” Don’t you? Those two words nicely sum up FIDE.

The article continues:

“The chief target of these allegations is the president of the FRME, Mustapha Amazzal (pictured at right).”

More from the article:

“According to International Arbiter Zoheir Slami, a complaint against Amazzal has been filed before the Court of Appeal of Casablanca by the Moroccan Association for the Protection of the Public Money, headed by Mohammed El Ghaloussi. The prosecutor overseeing the case has referred the investigation to the National Brigade of the Judicial Police (BNJP), which tackles serious national crimes.”

Seeing the word Casablanca naturally brought back memories of one of my favorite movies, Casablanca. One of the main players in the movie was an ex-patriate American, Rick, or Richard Blaine, the owner of Rick’s Cafe Americain,

played by one of the all-time great actors, Humphrey Bogart, who also happened to be an avid Chess player who, it is written, played for money in New York city during one of the all too frequent depressions caused by capitalist economic policies.

Games Have Been Terminated!

The thing about writing a blog is that one never knows what an email will bring. After spending an inordinate amount of time in front of Toby, the ‘puter, yesterday learning how to insert diagrams, and then putting together the post in order to have something in which to insert them, I determined that today I would spend time with the Daniel Gormally book, Insanity, passion and addiction: a year inside the chess world, while playing over Chess games on an actual board with pieces one can feel, and possibly “working” on the openings intended for the Senior Championship of the Great State of South Carolina, which is only ten days away, by going to the CBDB and 365Chess. Wrong, Ke-mo sah-bee! An email from my friend Mulfish arrived at 11:42 am, upsetting the Bacon cart…

“Looking forward to the AWs take on AlphaZeros stunning win over Stockfish,” was the message. “What’s this?” I thought, wondering if Mike was referring to the TCEC Computer Chess Championship that is in the final stretch. “But Stockfish is not participating in the Super Final,” I thought. I therefore fired off an immediate response: “To what, exactly, are you referring?” His reply was, “Look in the all things Chess forum.”

Although there are not as many incoming as there were before taking a long break from blogging, I have received several emails directing my attention here and there, and they are greatly appreciated. Checking the AW stats today showed many people in countries other than the USA reading the AW. In particular I noticed that today, as every day, there is one, and only one, reader in the Maldives. Thank you, whoever you are, and feel free to send an email, as I am curious by nature.

Keep ’em coming:

This is the post found on the USCF forum that prompted Mulfish to fire a salvo at the AW:

Postby billbrock on Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:16 am #321974

“AlphaZero learned to play chess by playing against itself. After just FOUR HOURS of self-learning, it was able to decisely (sic) defeat Stockfish 8.0! (EDIT: this statement is slightly misleading. See downthread.) (100 games match: +28 =72 -0)
What’s really impressive: Stockfish was calculating far more deeply than AlphaZero (at least in terms of nodes per second). AlphaZero is just “smarter.”

After reading only this I thought, “Whoa! This will change not only my day, but possibly the future course of history!” The more I read the more convinced was I of the latter.

Bill Brock provided a link to a PDF paper, Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm
( which I read immediately, blowing my mind…

Every morning I read while drinking my first cuppa coffee, and today was no exception. Toby is not fired-up until time to sit down and eat breakfast. I check my email, then the quotes of the day, followed by the poem of the day, which was The Writer’s Almanac, by Garrison Keillor, but it has been discontinued, so I’ve moved on to Poem-a-Day ( & The Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day ( Next I click on the Drudge Report in order to understand what the enemy is thinking, and doing. Then it is the newspapers in digital form, the NYT, WaPo, and AJC. For you readers outside the USA, that would be the New York Times, the Washinton Post, and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Then I check out the word of the day (, before heading to check what was on the nightly radio programs broadcast while I am sleeping, Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis (, and the Granddaddy of them all, Coast to Coast AM ( You may think that Chess comes next, but you would be mistaken. I check out The Hardball Times at Fangraphs ( Then I check out what’s happening in the world of Go (

Then it is time for Chess! My routine is to check in at Chess24 ( first in order to learn if there is a new article I will want to return to after checking out Chessbase (, where there is usually something interesting to peruse. (Today is no exception because the lead article is, How XiangQi can improve your chess, which will be read. During the TCEC Championships it is then on to Chessdom (, where I click onto TCEC ( And then it is on to the Chess Granddaddy of them all website, TWIC, aka The Week In Chess (, which is Mark Crowther’s wonderful website which contains a Daily Chess Puzzle, which I attempt to solve, in hopes it will keep my mind sharp. Why was I writing all this?…Just kidding!

The point is that I read so long this morning (Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas; Cover Me: The stories behind the GREATEST COVER SONGS of all time, by Ray Padgett, who has a wonderful website (; and Murder on the Death Star: The assassination of Kennedy and its relevance to the Trump era, by Pelle Neroth) in order to finish the latter. The point being that by the time I got to the email by Mulfish I would ordinarily have already seen the momentous news.

DeepMind’s AlphaZero crushes chess

The excellent article by Colin McGourty begins: “20 years after DeepBlue defeated Garry Kasparov in a match, chess players have awoken to a new revolution. The AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself to synthesise the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium and reach a level where it not only surpassed humans but crushed the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. All the brilliant stratagems and refinements that human programmers used to build chess engines have been outdone, and like Go players we can only marvel at a wholly new approach to the game.”

Colin ends with: “And where do traditional chess programmers go from here? Will they have to give up the refinements of human-tuned evaluation functions and all the existing techniques, or will the neural networks still require processing power and equipment not easily available? Will they be able to follow in DeepMind’s footsteps, or are there proprietary techniques involved that can’t easily be mastered?

There’s a lot to ponder, but for now the chess world has been shaken!”


If games people play are to survive they will be something like that described in the novel I consider the best I have read, Das Glasperlenspiel, or Magister Ludi, aka, The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. (

Or maybe a book, The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, which is not only one of my favorite Sci-Fi books, but also one of my favorite book about games.

The stunning news also caused me to reflect on a Canadian Sci-Fi television program I watched, Continuum, in which mega-corporations dominate the world in the future as time-travelers fight one of the largest corporatocratic entities, SadTech, which sounds an awful lot like Google. (

The Brave New World is here. The Science Fiction books I read as a youngster are no longer fiction.

The Terminator has arrived.

We are all doomed. DOOMED!

R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World

The End of the World