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

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Would You Take the Pawn?

Imagine you are the General of the black pieces and reach the following position in the opening:
1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. fxe4 dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nf6 7. Bd3

Would you take the proffered pawn? Cogitate on the answer a few moments until we come back to it.

Chess players have a style. The choices a player makes signals his style, whether or not he is aware of this fact. Humans communicate with not just what they say, but how they say it. Chess players also communicate, giving information to their opponent not only not only with what they play, but what they do not play.
For decades I have used a position with students in order to discern what type of player he may be. I have also shown the position to groups of students on a demo board, and listened to some lively discussions as each student tries to justify their answer. It is also very useful as a way to teach that in chess it is sometimes possible that there can be more than one way to skin a rabbit. It is from a standard opening, the Caro-Kann. The position arises after the standard opening moves of, 1 e4 c6 2 d4 3 d5 3 Nc3 dxe4 4 Nxe4 Nf6 5 Nxf6. With which pawn do you capture the Knight?

Statistics show that after capturing with the e-pawn Black draws far more than when capturing with the g-pawn, but also wins much less. Such a simple choice says something about a players style.
Most players would choose one move or the other. The Legendary Georgia Ironman is one of the few who has played both captures, but his predominant choice has been 5…exf6, which is better suited to his style. During a recent conversation about openings Tim mentioned something about liking the Berlin because, “It suits my style.” I would much prefer to undergo waterboarding by Darth Cheney than be forced to sit behind the Berlin. The move 5…exf6 is anathema to me. I cringe at the thought of ever having to play such a move. On the other hand, my eyes light up and become filled with fire at the prospect of playing 5…gxf6! This move opens the g-file, giving the black General something with which to work. It also follows the principle of capturing toward the center, whereas the capture 5…exf6 leaves the black General with an ugly pawn structure with the future prospect of long hours of laboriously striving to hold an inferior position. Where is the fun in that?

The game in question is the first one in the first chapter, “Rare Continuations,” of “The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking black with 3. f3,” by Alexey Bezgodov.

Paul Kuijpers (2074) – Harry Van der Stap Sr
Vlissingen HZ op 8th 2004

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. f3 f5 4. Nc3 fxe4 5. fxe4 dxe4 6. Nxe4 Nf6 7. Bd3
Here the author writes, “A well-founded pawn sacrifice, which Black dare not accept.” I closed the book to sit there for some time thinking about the position, finally coming to the conclusion that I would take the pawn. Then I wondered if this position could also provide a clue into a players style. It is well-known that Bobby Fischer had a fondness for taking material and defending that choice with “machine like defense.” This could be one reason GM Mark Taimanov, in answer to the question, “Do you think that you had chances of winning your match against Bobby Fischer?” answered, “It was the first time I was encountering not a playing partner, but a computer that didn’t make mistakes.” (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php?n=678)

Inquiring minds want to know, so I put the position into my now antiquated Houdi, as I now think of it, dropping the “ni” since it has been passed by Stockfish and Komodo. Houdi took the pawn and it is not close. Taking the pawn leaves Black with an even game, whereas Houdi’s second choice, 7…Nxe4, gives White an advantage of 2/3 of a pawn. Not taking did not turn out well for the General of the Black pieces in this game: 7…Nbd7 8. Bg5 Qc7 9. Qe2 Nxe4 10. Bxe4 Qa5+ 11. Bd2 Qb5 12. Qxb5 cxb5 13. Bd3 a6 14. Nf3 Nf6 15. O-O e6 16. Rfe1 Be7 17. Ng5 Nd5 18. Nxe6 Kf7 19. Ng5+ Bxg5 20. Bxg5 h6 21. Rf1+ 1-0

The Andrew Sisters & Bing Crosby-Accentuate The Positive

Rex Sinquefield’s Agenda

While watching the games of the US Championship I have open the websites TWIC; ChessBomb; and my favorite, Chessdom. The latter has analysis by the big three, Stockfish, Komodo, & Houdini, the three highest rated “entities” playing the Royal game these days. I like to judge the position myself before looking at the evaluation of the programs. One of the things I like about the Chess arena board displayed on Chessdom is the difference of opinion on some moves by the big three. For example, after Mackenzie Molner played the standard third move, after 1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 Bb5, Timur Gareev, my pick to win the tournament last year in the contest, which was not held this year, played 3…f5, the Schliemann defense, a favorite of a player from LA (that is Lower Alabama to those of us fortunate enough to be from the South), The Dude. The Legendary Georgia Ironman hung the moniker “Rainbow Warrior” on him, but Tim Bond did not like it. After a soliloquy on the movie “The Big Lebowski” while drinking white russians, I began called him, “The Dude.” The Dude would play 1 Nf3 as his opening move with white, but play wide openings like the Schliemann with black. His theory was that “With white one already has the advantage and must play conservatively to keep it. But with black one must try to wrest the advantage from white by any means necessary.” After 3…f5, Houdini has as best either 4 Qe2 or Bxc6. Komodo would play 4 Nc3; while Stockfish shows 4 d3.
After having decided to not go to the website of the StLCC&SC to listen to the broadcast I decided to check it out Sunday. What I found was an interview of Rex Sinquefield by GM Maurice Ashley. One of the first things I heard was Maurice say something about his politics being different from those of Mr. Sinquefield, who responded with some condescending remark about letting him “educate” Maurice sometime. Then Rex went into a rant about Missouri legislation concerning taxes. He said something about a bill that had been passed and vetoed by the Governor, but the veto had been overridden, something that had not happened since the 1800’s. Who cares? Why was this man talking about tax policy on a chess website? And why the hell does it matter to him? He is a BILLIONAIRE! He pays accountants large sums to find loopholes so he does not half to pay taxes. The tax code is written by sycophants of the super-rich to favor the upper crust. What does it matter to him whether tax rates go up or down? And besides, if taxes go down, how will the bill for endless war be paid? Certainly Rex and his ilk will not pay the freight for US troops who are in almost every country on the face of the earth. I turned it off after hearing Rex, who seemed quite pleased with himself, make a disparaging comment about Ben Finegold being uglier than Jennifer Shahade.
The next day, Monday, I surfed on over to the website again to find the pretty Jennifer had joined Yasser fo that day’s broadcast. Unfortunately, there was yet another problem with the broadcast, just like the previous day, and like last year. For that reason I clicked off and went to the Livestream website (http://new.livestream.com/accounts/3913412/events/2966247). The problem persisted on that site as well. Here are some of the comments from the livestream website:
Is it lagging like crazy with any1 else?- Ole Feiring
terrible stream-Gary Sharkey
it is just lagging a lot-Ralf Schnabel
yeah its awful and ruining the coverage last year was the same-Gary Sharkey
Since Rex Sinquefield is a billionaire it would seem he would be able to afford the best video possible. But who knows why the upper crust do the things they do? With that in mind I set down at my ‘puter to watch a program on the History channel, or to be specific, H2. The program is “America’s Book Of Secrets” and the episode is “The Billionaire Agenda.” It can be watched on TV or on the internet here: (http://www.history.com/shows/americas-book-of-secrets/videos/the-billionaire-agenda?m=51896f6e2acad)
Although I do not know Rex Sinquefield, he is as near to the super rich as I will probably get, being only one of the six degrees of separation made famous by Kevin Bacon, no kin, as far as I know, although when asked I always lie and say he is a distant cousin! I know Tony Rich, the manager of the Chess Club & Scholastic Center of St. Louis, having played him in the Missouri state chess championship in 2002, and having visited the aforementioned chess club with the long name. I could not help but think of Rex while watching the program, and what part he plays in the “agenda” of the filthy rich.
I took notes while watching the program and will share them with you. First, there 492 billionaire Americans, with Oprah being the only so-called by the program “African-American,” among the group. Notice there were none called say, “European-American” for example. 152 reside in China and 111 in Russia. Never before in the history of the world has so much wealth been concentrated in so few hands. The number one man on the list, Bill Gates, makes $17,000 a MINUTE! Walmart CEO Mike Duke makes $11,000 an hour. He’s got workers making $8.00 an hour and before he goes to lunch he’s made more than any one of one million Walmart workers make in an entire year. In 1980 an average CEO made 42 times the pay of an average worker. Today an average CEO makes 350 times the rate of an average worker!
What is a billion anything? One billion is a thousand millions. Compare that to one million being a thousand thousands. One million seconds is about 11 and a half days. One billion seconds is about 31 and a half years! One million pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower nearly a mile high. One billion pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower almost 870 miles high. One million ants would weigh a little over six pounds. One billion ants would weight over 3 tons – a little less than the weight of an elephant. One million dollars divided evenly among the U.S. population would mean everyone in the United States would receive about one third of one cent. One billion dollars divided equally among the U.S. population would mean that everyone in the United States would receive about $3.33. If you earn $45,000 a year, it would take 22 years to amass a fortune of one million dollars. If you earn $45,000 a year, it would take 22,000 years to amass a fortune of one billion dollars. It is said that in the not too distant future Bill Gates will become the first trillionaire. One trillion is a thousand billions, or equivalently a million millions. It is a 1 with twelve zeros after it, denoted by 1,000,000,000,000. One trillion seconds is over 31 thousand years. One trillion pennies stacked on top of each other would make a tower about 870,000 miles high – the same distance obtained by going to the moon, back to earth, then to the moon again. One trillion ants would weigh over 3000 tons. One trillion dollars divided evenly among the U.S. population would mean that everyone in the United States would receive a little over $3000.
If you spent $10,000 a day it would take you over 300 years to spend the entire sum. It is no wonder Matthew Erich “Mancow” Muller, a talk radio host said he could not wrap his mind around the concept of a billion dollars. Surely his head will explode when Bill Gates becomes the first human to amass one trillion dollars. “Mancow” said, “The only people they can relate to is other billionaires.” Someone said, “They kind of live in their own universe that’s removed from the rest of us, so they’re not grounded in the economic realities he rest of us are.”
Former chessplayer NM Peter Thiel, who has not played since 2004, is among the group of billionaires. One local NM who knew him while living on the left coast can be heard condemning the man for “not giving back by putting money into chess.” Instead, Peter has invested $1.25 million to the Seasteading Institute, who want to produce floating cities upon which the filthy rich can live while floating around the ocean in order to not have to pay taxes, or have to follow any rules made by nations or states.
In a 5-4 decision on April , 2014, the Supreme Court decided government cannot limit the amount of money donors can give to political candidates, committee’s and parties.
I read about a new sci-fi show last year, “Continuum” and have been watching it. In one of the episodes We The People were demonstrating against a ruling made by the Supremes in which they ruled that corporations were people. The thing about growing old(er) and having read and watched much sci-fi is that one know everything that seemed so much like fiction back then has come to fruition.
In speaking about the huge sums coming into the political arena it was said that no one knows exactly how much money goes to whom because there is no accountability. “It’s all dark money.” that reminded me of the famous interview after 9/11 in which VP Darth Cheney said, “We will have to work on the dark side.”
Then there was this comment, “Billionaires can exert a subtle control over what issues et put on the national agenda. They can choose the issues they care about and make sure they get talked about while others might not.”
“Are the super rich really working together towards a unified, one world agenda?” If so, I would ask Rex the Billionaire if he was chosen to contribute money to chess and if so, why it was he in lieu of NM Peter Thiel, which would seem to make more sense.
It was heard that, “Billionaires are different from us.”
How did Rex Sinquefield become the Daddy Warbucks of chess? From Wikipedia: “In 1981, Sinquefield co-founded Dimensional Fund Advisors, which manages more than $310 billion in assets as of September 30, 2013.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rex_Sinquefield)
Consider this from the May 8 column, “Now That’s Rich,” by Noble prize winning economist Paul Krugman in the New York Times:
“But that’s not what those hedge fund managers do for a living; they’re in the business of financial speculation, which John Maynard Keynes characterized as “anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be.” Or since they make much of their income from fees, they’re actually in the business of convincing other people that they can anticipate average opinion about average opinion.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/opinion/krugman-now-thats-rich.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0),

Rex did not make anything useful for the human race; he did not invent anything to save lives, or improve conditions on this planet for those less fortunate. He is, basically, what is called in the bible, a “money changer.” Those readers who have read the bible will immediately think of the only time Jesus lost control and threw the money changers out of the temple. If Rex had been in the temple he would surely have been tossed out with them like yesterday’s garbage. So, once again, I ask why is Rex Sinquefield funding chess? What’s in it for him? Coming from a man who is opposed to raising the minimum wage (and why is it that it is always those who have too much who want to limit the take of those who have too little?), and against unions, when the only way We The People have of fighting the upper crust is by organizing, it seems incongruous, to say the least.
The program emphasized the fact that the only thing the upper crust cares about is keeping what they have. I thought of the scene in the movie, “Dr. Zhivago,” when the doctor comes home to find his family mansion has been taken over by We The People, and now there are many families living in the huge house in lieu of just his small family. There is a storm brewing in this country and it don’t take no weatherman to know which way the wind is blowing. The Russian intelligence service published recently their prediction of revolution in America. I leave you with these quotes from the great American from the Great State of Virginia, President Thomas Jefferson:
“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.”
“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants .”

10th Annual Georgia Senior Open

The Georgia Senior is scheduled to be played the weekend of Sept. 28-29. The tournament announcement on the GCA website states registration is limited to 50 players, a pipe dream if ever there was one. Checking today the website shows 46 places left. I am not surprised. I refused to play last year and will not participate again this year. What’s more, I do not know anyone else planning on playing. The poor choice of venue was discussed in my last post, so the format of the tournament will be discussed in this post.
The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, insisted on a format for the 2012 Georgia Senior against the wishes of many, if not most, of those eligible to participate. He decided to have only one prize, a $500 stipend to the winner to be used only toward playing in the US Senior. Only NINE players participated, the lowest number of all other Georgia Senior tournaments to date. It was, obviously, a miserable failure. The winner of the tournament decided not to make the trip to upstate New York, at the strong urging of his wife. The winner, NM Alan Piper, has received nothing for winning the tournament. Alan has no idea what happened to the $500, which should have gone to him. I have been unable to learn what happened to the money. This is an open plea for any member of the GCA board to leave a comment on this blog informing the chess community of the disposition of the $500.
During an interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman, NM Tim Brookshear, it was stated the President of the GCA reached out, asking Tim for his input on how the 2013 Ga Senior should be changed. Tim said a relative newcomer to chess, Parnell Watkins, was also consulted by the President. Tim suggested a committee of stewards be brought on board as consultants, with such Senior luminaries as former Georgia Champion and Georgia Senior Champion David Vest; former Ga Senior Champion and former President of the GCA board, Scott ‘The Sheriff’ Parker; Dr. Orlando Cano; and Kelly Hollins, along with others, being mentioned. Tim wanted to plan a good tournament that would attract Senior players from other states, such as Wayne Christiansen and Klaus Pohl from the Great State of South Carolina, Tim ‘The Dude’ Bond, along with Rex Blalock and his wife, from the Great State of Alabama. That was the last Tim heard from Fun Fong concerning the Georgia Senior. The suggestions of the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who has been involved with chess in Georgia continually for four decades, fell on deaf ears. Tim was as shocked as everyone else to learn the tournament had been planned for this fall. Word is Fun Fong wanted to hold the tournament in conjunction with the other tournaments scheduled that weekend. Could this have been his response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival?
Fun Fong obviously liked his idea of awarding a $500 stipend because it is back again this year. The entry fee has been raised to accommodate other prizes, which were not there last year. I do not recall specifically, but it seems the entry fee is almost double this year compared to last. Fun Fong obviously thinks a large increase in the entry fee will bring in more players. The $500 stipend idea proved a disaster last year, yet Fun Fong, and make no mistake, this is Fun Fong’s tournament, insists on keeping it for this tournament. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The Ga Senior has been divided into three sections, the Open, Under 1800, and unrated. This makes absolutely no sense because there will barely be enough players for one section. The time control is G/100 with a 30 second increment. I have yet to find a Senior player who likes this time control. We Seniors played for decades with a time control of 40/2, or even 40/90, with additional time added. FIDE has announced the first time control should end at move 40. Over the years organizers have tried various first time controls, such as 30, or 35, but best by test is move 40. Most games are decided at, or after, move 40. Seniors realize the chess world has moved forward with increasingly faster time controls at a time when we are slowing down. Our pleas to hold the line have fallen on deaf ears, with the younger people forcing Seniors to follow their dictates, or else not play. Most have chosen to opt out. LM David Vest said, “My game used to be predicated on putting the pressure on around move 32.” Seniors played for DECADES with the crisis coming around or near move 40. Our motto is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Everything changes, but change just for the sake of change is not good. Sometimes “progress ain’t,” and this is one of those times. Seniors resent the changes being forced upon them. Some still play for the love of the game, but do not like it. Most have given up the game.
The fact is that the body of a Senior player is not the same as a young person. In the movie, “The Bucket List”, the character played by legendary actor Jack Nicholson enumerates three rules for an older man. One of them is to “Never pass up a men’s room.” The reason for that Seniors know only too well. Every male Senior will have to deal with the fact his prostate gland will enlarge and press on his bladder. This means Seniors must go to the men’s room far more often than when younger. With any open ended time control it may not be possible to go to the men’s room. Forcing such a situation on a Senior is uncivilized. A Senior playing on any increment may be forced to lose on time if he goes to answer the call, or piss his pants. This happened to me once because I chose to sit there in pain in lieu of going to the men’s room. Playing with a delay, although a pawn up, I lost the game and upon getting out of my chair, could not make it to the men’s room in time. I vowed then and there to never again put myself in such a situation! What Seniors desire is a time limit whereby additional time will be added, as it was “back in the day,” in order for us to be able to answer the call when nature knocks. Why is it organizers cannot understand this simply fact? It is not only their sanity I question when it comes to the matter of bodily functions. These open ended time controls seem like something the man from the “dark side,” Darth Cheney, would have dreamed up. Waterboarding sounds like fun compared to these ridiculous time controls! IM Boris Kogan told me it was important to get up after making time control in order to “clear one’s head.” That is not possible with these open ended time controls. Some have mentioned the possibility of “shooting out several really quick moves in order to build up time,” so as to be able to “run to the men’s room.” First, shooting off even one quick move in chess can lead to an immediate loss. Second, Seniors no longer have the capacity to run without possibly inducing a heart attack, or a stroke.
The first round is at noon, Saturday the 28th. I assume this is to accommodate all the players from out of town who will not be coming. This means the second round will begin at 5:30. In an email several years ago from the CCA promoter, Bill Goichberg, I was told he would not play a round beginning after four (or was it five?) PM. Not to mention the fact that the second round could be delayed by a long Queen & Pawn, or other such, ending, and possibly begin even later. From what I learned about the venue of the tournament, I would not want to be heading to the parking lot after dark. The fact is, I would not want to go to that place during broad daylight! A woman was murdered in the area during the day. See the previous post for details.
There is a picture of Fun Fong on the website of the NCCA in an article on the North Carolina Gambit titled, “Random Thoughts and Observations on the Carolinas Chess Festival,” posted September 17, 2013, by the webmaster, Gary Newsome.(http://www.ncchess.org/wordpress/) Gary writes, “On Friday afternoon, Fun Fong (President of the Georgia Chess Association) and his entourage came in to start working on the NC Open.” I mentioned this during my interview with the Legendary Georgia Ironman and his comment was, “Fun travels to tournaments such as the US Open and World Open, so he knows what a good tournament is, yet he brings us nothing but crap tournaments, and you can quote me on that.” I will leave you with a quote by former Vice President of the US, Dan Qualye: “People that are really very weird can get into sensitive positions and have a tremendous impact on history.”