The recent weather has seen dark and cloudy skies with periods of rain making it dark and dreary, which means perfect weather for watching Chess! Yesterday afternoon this writer/spectator sat glued to the screen watching two American Seniors, the Kentucky Lion, Gregory Kaidanov,
and Shabba Dabba Do, aka, Alexander Shabalov,
battle their opponents in the American Continental Chess Championship 2023. The game between Grandmasters Gregory Kaidanov and Alder Escobar Forero was the first to end. This was the final position after the players prematurely agreed to a draw:
It should be obvious white has an advantage. You know it, I know it, and Stockfish ‘knows’ it, too. It is incumbent upon the player of the white pieces to at least make an attempt to win the game, but, for whatever reason, Colombian GM Alder Escobar Forero decided to gift his opponent a Grandmaster draw. THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH CHESS! These premature draw eruptions with a board full of pieces are killing the Royal Game. If only 1/4 point were awarded to each player for making a draw do you think this game would have been agreed drawn?
Oh well, at least my attention could be turned to the Shabba game, in which The US Senior Champ played The Najdorf. Regular readers know how much I love the venerable Najdorf variation even if it was left behind long ago. You never forget your first love… I will admit to living vicariously through Shabba yesterday because, as David Spinks, or Big Bird, as he was called by some habitués of the Atlanta Chess Center, aka, the House of Pain, was fond of saying, “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY, man!” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2020/04/19/im-boris-kogan-versus-expert-david-spinks/) This spectator was living and dying in real time with Shabba. The analysis feature was not on as I sat their exercising my brain when deciding on the move I would make. Speaking of making something, my last cuppa Joe was percolated while spectating, so I was sippin’ the coffee while living vicariously.
GM Cristobal Henriquez Villagra (2616) vs GM Alexander Shabalov (2480) American Continental Chess Championship 2023 B90 Sicilian, Najdorf, Adams attack
There was no doubt that white came out of the opening with an advantage and was in the drivers seat after 12 Qh5.
I was actually pleased to see Shabba answer with 12…g6 because that was my choice. Unfortunately, later the Stockfish program disabused me of that notion, showing 12…0-0 as best. Now that is what you call “castling into it.” This is one of the reasons I was so fond of playing The Najdorf ‘back in the day’. Every game was like being on the knife’s edge.
15…Rg8 was not on my radar. Later it was learned two games, given below, had been contested with 15…Rf8. This spectator was contemplating 15…Qc7, with a view toward castling Queenside. Stockfish simply plays 15…Rc8. “Why did I not even consider the move?” I was asking myself later… I was expecting 17 f4, for obvious reasons, but the GM decided to move his Rook to d1, which was another move not on my radar…
When GM Forero played 18 Rh7 Stockfishy says the advantage was now with Shabba. SF says, “Inaccuracy. Bc1 was best.” If that’s the case, then why is there an arrow showing the best move being Rh4?! Inquiring minds wanna know. If you know, or if you know someone, anyone, who knows, then please leave a comment because this inquiring mind wants to know… Whatever… Shabba then sacked the exchange with 18…Rxc3, and the fight was ON! Yes, SF, too, woulda sacked the Rook…
I was expecting 19…Bxe4 and was flummoxed with Shabba’s choice of 19…Qc7. According to the Fish, the game was now even, Steven. In Chess one is either learning, or dead.
Once again GM Forero had a chance to move the pawn to f4, attacking the proud steed ensconced on e5, but chose to play 20 Bf4, yet another move not consider by this spectator… At this point this squirrel did actually consider the move given as best by the silicon monster, 20…Nc4, but rejected it in favor of the move made by Shabba, Bishop takes Pawn on e4.
GM Forero then sacrificed his Knight on b5 when playing 21 Nxb5, and there was then blood all over the board, and the pieces, while drippin’ over the sides of the board. This viewer was LOVIN’ Chess LIFE! This is the way Chess was meant to be PLAYED! The Fish would have simply played 21 a4…
With 33 Kb4 GM Forero let go of the rope with one hand…
When playing 35 Rh4?! the GM let go of the rope with the other hand… White was sooooooooooooo BUSTED! In addition, the General of the white army was low on time. ‘Back in the day’ one would have felt comfortable wagering his net worth on a win for the Black pieces. Unfortunately, those daze are gone…
With the ill chosen RED MOVE of 36…e3?? (“Blunder. Nd3 was best.” Stockfish) Shabba jettisoned much of his advantage. Then he stepped into it with the other foot by playing 37…Nd3?! (Inaccuracy. Rc8 was best.) The game ended with a repetition. Shabba let that fish offa the hook.
The first time the former US Women’s Chess Champion Nazi Paikidze
appeared on the Armchair Warrioradar was when she played an opening near and dear to my heart. After opening with 1 e4 at the St Louis Autumn GM 2016 her opponent, Jayram Ashwin,
answered with 1…e6, the French defense. When Nazi moved her Queen to e2, the move made famous by the father of Russian Chess, Mikhail Chigorin,
my Chess heart had been stolen. I have been a Nazi fan ever since that day. Although Nazi lost that game her opponent was India’s 39th GM. Unfortunately she has not played the opening again, but I can always hope…Nazi has faced the Leningrad Dutch as white about a half dozen times over the past decade, which makes me wonder if those games influenced her to play the Leningrad Dutch? Inquiring minds want to know so how about a Chess journalist asking Nazi the question of how she came to play the LD? I will admit it was more than her choice of openings that brought Nazi to my attention as I found her coy insouciance attractive.
David Spinks was fond of saying, “You gotta pull for somebody!” For the reasons given above there is much to admire, therefore I ‘pull’ for Nazi.
1.d4 f5 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 g6 (There is a major internecine fight with Stockfish 180521 between 3…e6 and 3…g6. The Fish is completely divided, as if it had been filleted; split 50-50. My advice is, “When in doubt, play the LENINGRAD!”) 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nh3 (5 Nf3 has been the most often played move with 2104 games in the CBDB, and it shows a 56% success rate. 5 Nc3 has been played in 1630 games, scoring 56%. SF 14 @depth 41 shows 5 Nc3. However, SF 091021 @depth 42 plays 5 Nh3. There are only 237 examples of the move played in this game contained in the CBDB and it has only scored 50% against lower rated opposition than the two aforementioned moves. Just sayin…) 5…O-O (SF 080920 @depth 44 plays 5…c6. There are only 10 games with that move in the CBDB. The most often played move has been 5…0-0, with white scoring 54% of the time. The second most played move has been 5..d6 and it has held white to a 48% score. In the main line any time white has played d4 followed by c4 it is generally a good idea to play an early d6 if you intend on playing the Leningrad Dutch. With the early Nh3 the StockFish computations obviously change. I only faced Nh3 once, in a game with Joe Scott, who I believe was an expert on his way to National Master, but he could have been a NM. I recall Joe telling me he became a NM because of the book The Encyclopedia of Chess Combinations.
Joe moved the Knight to f4 and clamped down on my e6 square and played a fine game, choking the life out of me until I expired. The loss inspired me to devote much time to annotating the game back in BC time. That’s “Before Computer” time. I read anything and everything found on the move 5 Nh3 in order to be prepared the next time I faced the move. Next time never came…but you can bet your sweet bibby that if next time comes around in a Senior event I will be prepared!) 6. O-O (SF 12 @depth 40 plays 6 Nc3) 6…d6 7. d5 (In an article by André Schulz at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/us-championships-2021-r5) this is found after 7 d5, “7. Nc3 is vanishing.” This is strange because two different Stockfish programs show 7. Nc3 as the best move. The CBDB contains 60 with 7. Nc3 and 62 with 7. d5. White has, though, scored 54% with the latter while 7. Nc3 has only scored 48% and this against roughly the same opposition) 7…Na6 (Although Komodo at only depth 18 plays the game move, two different SF programs at double the depth show 7…c6. There are 23 games with 7…Na6 and white has scored 50%; in the 22 games when 7…c6 has been the choice white has scored 59%, with this being against roughly the same level opposition. Given the opportunity to play either move I would play 7…c6, which is reason enough for you to play the move chosen by our girl!) 8. Nc3 Nc5 (The move played in the game has been the overwhelming choice, but SF 13 likes 8…Qe8; SF 14 prefers 8…Bd7. I would play the latter move to complete development) 9. Be3 (SF 13 @depth 37 plays the game move, but SF 210920 @depth 41 plays 9 Qc2, yet 9 Nf4 has been the most often played move with 43 games in the CBDB in which it has scored 63% against 2398 opposition. In 26 games the move played in the game, 9 Be3 has scored 56% against 2452 opposition in 26 games. In 27 games against opposition rated 2482 the move 9 Qc2 has scored an astounding 70%! There is a reason the move 9 Qc2 is the choice of the Fish…) 9…e5 10. dxe6 (Here’s the deal…the CBDB shows 14 games in which this move has been played and one with 10 Bxc5 having been played, yet three different Stockfish programs show 10 b4 as the best move!) 10 Nxe6 (SF 14 plays 10 Bxe6) 11. Ng5 (The aforementioned annotations at Chessbase show, “White has an edge.” There are no games found at either the CBDB or 365Chess containing the move 11 Ng5 so it appears to be a Theoretical Novelty!)
You can find the game annotated all over the internet but since I followed the the game with something akin to religious fervor and made notes along the way I would like to share them with you.
11…c6 12. Nxe6 Bxe6 13. Qb3? This has gotta be bad. I’d be feeling pretty good sitting behind the black pieces after seeing a move like that! Maybe Thalia did not want to leave the Knight undefended with the black squared firing at the Rook on a1 after Ne4 but it does not work…Big advantage for Nazi!)
13…Qe7 14. Rad1 Ng4 15. Bf4 Ne5 16. Qb4 Rfd8? (OMG what has my girl done? Why would she not take the pawn???) 17. b3 g5 18. Bd2 Rd7? (She should play the most forcing move on the board, a5, something I watch the top players not doing as a matter of course. Makes me think of that line from the CSNY song Deja Vu…”It makes me wonder/really makes me wonder’/What’s going on…”)
Qa3 Rf8? (I dunno, Qf6 looks good about now…) 20. Qc1 h6 21. f4 (I thought h6 was OK but now I’m not so sure…taking leaves me with a couple of ugly duckling pawns but bring the Knight back for defense only seems to clog up the works. Nazi has stepped into some excrement) 21…gxf4 22. Bxf4 Kh7? (Why not 22…Qf6?) 23. e4 (What a mess Nazi has stepped into…looks like one of my uncoordinated LD positions. I wanna play Rfe8 but that Rook oughta stay where it is…so maybe dropping the other Rook back to the back rank…or moving, let’s call it ‘repositioning’ the Queen is what the doctor ordered…or was that life support? Things aren’t looking so good for my favorite female player about now…not even a Houdini, or a Houdini program will help her now, I’m sad to write…) 23…Ng6 (Did not consider that move. Looks like Nazi gets opened up like a can of sardines after exf5…) 24. Be3 (What is this? Now I’m pushing the f-pawn while singing, “Save my life I’m going down for the last time…”) 24…Qd8?
(Oh no Mr. Bill, what the fork is this? From where did that idea come?) 25. Bh3 (Well that helps. Qc2 piling on the pressure looked real strong) 24…Rdf7 26. Qc2 (I dunno, taking with Bxf5 looks good. Nazi continues dodging bullets) 26…Qe7 27. Bf4 fxe4 28. Bxe6 Qxe6 29. Nxe4 d5 30. Nc5?
(White coulda come outta all the exchanges better than she did but this has gotta be wrong as it will drive the Queen over and every Black piece will be firing at the White King! What a turnaround!!! 30…Qg4 31. Nd3 Bd4+ 32. Kh1 Re8 33. Rde1 Rfe7 34. cxd5? (I cannot believe this…the woman just let go of the rope!!!) 34…Re2 35. Rxe2 Rxe2 36. Qd1 Qh5 37. g4 Qxd5+ 0-1 (Wow! That is what we call “snatching victory from the jaws of defeat…”)
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c6 3 Nf3 d5 4. Qc2 (Komodo plays 4 Nc3, the most often played move according to the CBDB. Stockfish prefers 4 e3, played a little less than half as many times as 4 Nc3) 4…g6 (Although 4…d6 and 4…dxc4 have been played far more than the game move, both SF & Komodo choose the move played by Spinks) 5 Bf4 (The most often move seen in practice, but Komodo prefers 5 Nc3) 5…Bf5 (Deep Fritz @depth 28 plays this move, but SF @depth 55 plays 5…dxc4) 6 Qb3 Qb6 7 c5 (SF plays the most often played move, 7 e3) 7…Qxb3 8 axb3 Nbd7 (Both SF & Komodo prefer 8…Na6) 9 b4 (Komodo & Houdini play 9 Nc3) 9…Bg7 (Komodo plays this but SF produces a TN with 9…Nh5) 10 Nc3 (Although SF 7 plays the game move SF 10 chooses 10 Nbd2. The only game found saw Lein play 10 h3 versus Smyslov:
After spending far too much time analyzing the game while making notes, the decision was made to surf over to 365Chess and utilize the free Stockfish engine to correct the “Beeg Mistakes” made in analysis. Frankly, after burning the midnight oil, my analysis was far better than expected, excepting for the “HH” moves, as in Horrendous Howlers, from which you will be spared.
39. h4 (Wonder why Boris did not play 39 Ra7+?) 39…h6 (39…gxh4 is much better…) 40. Ra7+ Ke8 41. Ra8+ Kd7 42. Kg3?
(This is a, as Boris was so fond of saying about one of my moves, “Beeg Mistake.” 42 Ra7+ looks like a winner…) 42…Rf6 (This is certainly a really BEEG MISTAKE! David could have possibly drawn the game with 42…Rxd6!) 43. hxg5 (43 Ra7+ is a winner…43 h5 could be better than the move played in the game.) hxg5 44. Rg8
absolutely, positively had to win with the black pieces in the final round of the 2019 US Championship he played the Leningrad Dutch
against Jeffrey Xiong
and won in style. Since Fabiano Caruana,
the world co-champion of classical Chess according to World Rapid Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen,
could only draw with the 2018 US Chess champion Sam Shankland
in the last round, and newcomer Lenier Dominguez Perez
managed to draw a won game versus tournament clown Timur Gareyev,
included only because he won the US Open, which is not and has not been an elite tournament for many years, Hikaru Nakamura, by winning became a five time winner of what he called, “…a super event, almost.” The inclusion of Timur the clown and Varuzhan Akobian,
a “fan favorite” at the St. Louis Chess Club we were informed by GM Maurice Ashley, made the event “almost” a super event. It is time the people in the heartland stop with the gimmicks and include only the best players on merit in the US Chess championship.
I have spent many hours this decade watching the broadcast via computer of the US Chess championships. The broadcasts have gotten better each year and now can be considered “World Class.” Grandmasters Yasser Seirawan,
and “Woman” Grandmaster (inferior to “Grandmaster” as she is only a Life Master according to the USCF), Jennifer Shahade
do an excellent job of covering the US Chess championships. The manager of the old Atlanta Chess Center, aka the “House of Pain,” David Spinks was fond of saying “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY, man!” He found it difficult to believe anyone could watch anything, like Baseball or Golf, and not “pull” for someone, anyone, to win. I will admit to “pulling” for Bobby Fischer
to beat Boris Spassky
in 1972 World Chess championship, which he did, but now simply enjoy watching the event unfold. Every round is a different story, a story told well by Yaz, Maurice and Jen. But when Hikaru Nakamura moved his f-pawn two squares in reply to his opponent’s move of 1 d4 I unashamedly admit I began to “pull” for Hikaru to win the game and the championship. I was riveted to the screen for many hours this afternoon as the last round unfolded.
One of the best things about traveling to San Antonio in 1972 was being able to watch some of the best Chess players in the world, such as former World Champion Tigran Petrosian
and future WC Anatoly Karpov,
make their moves. I also remember the flair with which Paul Keres
made his moves. All of the players made what can only be called “deliberate” type moves as they paused to think before moving. IM Boris Kogan gave anyone who would listen the advice to take at least a minute before making a move because your opponent’s move has changed the game.
Lenier Dominguez Perez took all of eleven seconds to make his ill-fated twenty sixth move. If he had stopped to cogitate in lieu of making a predetermined move he might be at this moment preparing to face Nakamura in a quick play playoff tomorrow. I’m glad he moved too quickly, frankly, because I loathe and detest quick playoffs to decide a champion. Classical type Chess is completely different from quick play hebe jebe Chess. Wesley So obviously lacks something I will call “fire.” He took no time, literally, to make his game losing blunder at move thirty. Maybe someone will ask them why and report it in one of the many Chess magazines published these days.
What can one say about Jennifer Yu
other than she has obviously elevated her game to a world class level. She is young and very pretty so the world is her oyster. It was a pleasure to watch her demolish the competition this year. Often when a player has the tournament won he will lost the last round. Jennifer crowned her crown by winning her last round game, which was impressive.
The quote of the tournament goes to Maurice Ashley, who said, “When you’re busted, you’re busted.”
1. d4 f5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 g6 4. g3 Bg7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. O-O d6 7. Nc3 Nc6 (Stockfish 181218 at depth 50 considers 7…c6 the best move. The game move has been my move of choice)
8. d5 Na5 (An older version of SF plays this but the newer versions prefer 8…Ne5, the only move I played because as a general rule I do not like moving my knight to the rim, where it is dim, much preferring to move it toward the middle of the board)
9. b3 c5 (9…a6, a move yet to be played, is the move preferred by Stockfish at the CBDB, while Houdini plays 9…Ne4)
10. Bb2 (SF 10 shows 10 Bd2 best followed by 10 Rb1 and Qc2) a6 11. Ng5 TN (SF has 11 Rb1 best, while Komodo shows 11 e3, a move yet to be played, but Houdini shows 11 Qd3 best and it has been the most often played move. There is a reason why the game move has not been seen in practice)
Torbjorn Ringdal Hansen (2469) vs Andres Rodriguez Vila (2536)
I have a vague memory of someone, possibly David Spinks, saying something about what counted was not how many times an actor won the award, but how many times he or she were nominated. I feel the same about books.
This brought to mind an email received concerning the book from former California Chess Champion Dennis Fritzinger:
Feb 24 at 3:28 PM
You definitely read widely! I would never have heard of this book I’m sure but for your review. Somehow I thought my eyes were going to glaze over reading about such past happenings but they didn’t. I was swept along to the very end. The book reminded me of a certain author, Ian Fleming. It certainly gives him a run for his money!
Book of the Year 2018 shortlist
Posted By: WebAdmin 28th August 2018
The large number of varied and interesting books this year made the selection particularly difficult, but the choice came down to books by two new chess publishers and two excellent instruction manuals (beautifully printed by Quality Chess) which the judges had great difficulty in separating, so included both!
Alekhine’s Odessa Secrets: Chess, War and Revolution
Sergei Tkachenko, Elk and Ruby Publishing House, paperback, pp213, £19.99
The cover alone indicates this is not a conventional chess book. It vividly covers the chess community in Odessa, how it and they coped with the rapidly changing governments 1916 to1919. Alekhine was a frequent visitor to Odessa. When the Bolsheviks captured the town in 1919, they shot an estimated 1,200 “traitors”. Alekhine was arrested, imprisoned and was on the list to be executed. Why he was released remains a mystery. Amongst the narrative drama are the chess games he played in Odessa which show his outstanding chess imagination.
Carlsen vs Kajarkin World Chess Championship 2016
Lev Alburt and Jon Crumiller, Chess Information and Research Centre, paperback, pp336, £22.50
World championship matches are the summit of the chess world. Whilst there is extensive short-term media coverage during the match, there are surprisingly few books published after the event giving a considered view. This book is one, with the usual photos, atmospheric background and computer analysis all well done. What lifts the book to an exceptional level is ‘Vlad’s Viewpoint’ which occurs throughout the book. The former world champion Vladimir Kramnik is able, from his unique experience, to give a wider and deeper insight into the play and players. Essential reading for Caruana!
Small Steps to Giant Improvement
Sam Shankland, Quality Chess, hardback, pp 331, £23.99
Shankland had a setback in his chess playing activities so had some free time. He decided to study and write about pawn play which he identified as one of his weaknesses. Written in a refreshing and open style he gives pointed examples of various issues eg advanced pawns can be strong, but they can also be weak. There is much to learn in this book as Shankland himself showed: he won his next three tournaments including the USA championship and raised his grading over 2700!
Under the Surface
Jan Markos, Quality Chess, hardback, pp276, £23.99
Markos has not written a standard text book, rather an exploration of the other factors that affect chess play. A sample of the chapter headings give an impression of his unusual approach – ‘Anatoly’s billiard balls’, ‘What Rybka couldn’t tell’, ‘Understanding the Beast’ and so on. Markos writes in an original way bringing in applicable concepts from the none chess world. There are four fascinating chapters on computer chess. All in all players of every level will find something original or instructive in this book.
— Ray Edwards, Julian Farrand, Sean Marsh – 20th August 2018
Reading the following from Mark Weeks blog, Chess for All Ages, caused me to pause and reflect upon the man named in the post:
“By coincidence, while I was preparing the recent post, An 1886 Photoshopped Illustration, where I mentioned that ‘I’ve been downloading old copies of The Chess Journalist (TCJ)’, I noticed that the December 2006 issue of the TCJ credited the existence of the scanned CL/CRs to Tim Tobiason. He seems to have been a colorful character in several ways, but this isn’t the time or place to repeat stories that can be found elsewhere on the web. It is his misfortune that while the original magazines are protected by copyright, his scans aren’t protected by a second copyright because they don’t represent creative work.”
The first time I met Tim Tobiason was in Rolla, Missouri, at the 2002 Missouri State Chess Championship. Mr. Tobiason, who was also playing in the small event, had the most eclectic collection of things ever seen at a Chess tournament. Along with the usual Chess books and other Chess related things, he displayed books he had written, and other items looking like they would be more comfortable at a gun show. I cannot recall the titles, but they were along the same line as the infamous Anarchist Cookbook.
He talked of the right he had to publish anything, and of being hounded by the FBI because of the content, which tended toward blowing things up with explosives. Tim rather proudly stated he had been “filmed by 60 Minutes,” the CBS TV show. He also mentioned having been banned at gun shows, which is where he sold most of his self-produced books. People began moving away from the table. He also mentioned needing a place to stay, or at least a shower, as he was traveling from Chess tournament to tournament while living in his van. I mentioned, with as much deference as could be mustered, maybe he might want to reconsider the part about being followed by the FBI if he wanted a place to stay. “You gotta point,” he said.
The next encounter with Tim was at the Atlanta Chess Center. He needed to take a shower and wanted to stay inside the House of Pain that night. In addition, he needed some space in the back room to set up his equipment, which consisted of scanning equipment to be used to copy older material, which he would sell. Unbeknownst to me David Spinks had flatly turned him down. Later on I saw and greeted him. He was obviously road weary and in a disheveled state. Tim was heavyset, with a rather large, and protruding belly. Happy to see a friendly face after his encounter with Spinks, he greeted me like a long-lost friend. After informing me he knew Thad Rogers, owner of the Dump, and explaining the situation, as he had attempted with Spinks, I told him it would be OK to shower. I figured Thad would give the OK, so I did so. David was LIVID! It was one of the few times I saw Spinks “lose it.” David was adamant. He did not want Tim around, especially on a tournament weekend. I tried reasoning with him, to no avail. For the first and only time while working at the HOP I placed a call to Thad. After informing him of the situation, he said, “Toby’s there? Tell him I said hello, and yes, you were right to allow him access. Let me speak with David.” Spinks did not like being overruled, but had no choice in the matter.
Toby said he was hungry and I mentioned the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, but Toby had other ideas. He asked about an all you can eat place, telling me he only ate once a day, spending hours eating all he could, which would have to last until the next day. I understood immediately why Thad liked Toby, as he, too, could spend hours at an all you can eat buffet. Besides, Toby was a character, and Thad always had a fondness for characters, one of the great things about Thad. That particular character trait was exactly what one needed to interact with Chess players.
Upon his return we made room for Toby and his equipment in the back room while taking pains to pacify Spinks. I spent a great deal of time with Toby that evening while working the front. Toby was a nervous type, and who would not be with the FBI breathing down his neck? Most Chess players are paranoid; it seems to come with the game. Toby was not the only player claiming to be followed by authorities. IM Emory Tate was in the military for many years, playing, and winning, the Armed Forces Championship five times. We were regaled with stories of his being in Military Intelligence, and according to Emory, “They are still watching me.” Who were we to argue? After listening to Emory I will admit to being pleased someone was keeping an eye on the man. Consider this:
“A lone lion wanders afar in the wilderness, no longer part of the pride
Once gleaming, accepted, a beautiful beast, now having been cast aside
No chance for part in coordinated hunt, this one can’t run very fast
Nature holds no place, and faltering, it seems this beast just won’t last
Thad drove up from Macon the next day and if memory serves, stayed the night. While on duty Thad could be heard laughing constantly from the back room. It was obvious he had an affinity for Toby. I cannot differentiate between all the tournaments held at the House of Pain, but because of Toby I do recall that particular weekend. Toby definitely brought something different to the staid House that weekend. In deference to Spinks I mentioned the recent rash of car break-ins experienced at the House in the crime filled area and Toby decided to sleep in his van.
I asked Thad if what Toby related was real, or a figment of his imagination. “I dunno,” he answered, “But they make for great stories!” he said with a grin. Toby kept busy, and out-of-the-way, making his discs, which he sold to Thad. One legendary Atlanta player was extremely pleased with what he purchased.
The last time I encountered Toby was in Louisville many years later. There was a children’s tournament and I arrived a little after noon. The event was over (they ‘head ’em up and move ’em out’ in Derby land) and Toby was getting ready to leave, hitting the road for who knows where.
Reading the Chess for All Ages post prompted a visit to startpage.com, where I entered Toby’s name, finding this article, which is quite lengthy. If you do not have the appetite for all of it, scroll on down to the last four paragraphs, which has been made bold. This will make you want to read all of what follows, so why not just invest the time and read it all now?
Hoax! (part 2) The second half of Jon Ronson’s investigation into people behind the post-September 11 anthrax hoaxes.
I had met Tim two years earlier at a gun show in Rochester, Minnesota. I was there with my producer, Jim, and the Ruby Ridge survivor Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were shot by FBI agents in a bungled raid in Idaho 10 years ago. Crowds flocked to get Weaver’s autograph, but Tim didn’t. He stood apart, a lone wolf among lone wolves, a pasty-looking man, wearing a lumberjack shirt and glasses. He had a deep grudge against the federal government and, it turned out, a rudimentary scientific knowledge. He told us that anthrax was the only way forward for the “movement”. In our experience, anthrax wasn’t a big militia topic of conversation. In fact, we’d never heard it mentioned, so Jim did a quick interview with him.
“I get into the more dangerous biological and chemical weapons area,” Tim said during this taped interview. “You can mail massive-scale weapons in microscopic form on a postage stamp, and that way you can re-arm the entire nation if the government ever tries to take your guns away.”
Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you
The people we met at the gun shows all had their own special ways of theoretically battling the government. One man had advocated the use of piano wire, another favoured firebombs. Tim’s big thing was anthrax. I’d never ratted out an interviewee to the feds before. I’d never given up a source. This would normally be a very bad thing for a journalist to do. But this was October 2001.
“Tim probably isn’t the anthrax killer,” I thought to myself. “But how often does one meet someone who is almost the anthrax killer?”
“I should call the FBI,” I said to Jim, when he telephoned in early October to remind me about our interview with Tim.
“Hang on,” he said. “I’m the one who thought of Tim. I should call the FBI.”
“I want to call the FBI,” I said.
“Well, I don’t want you bloody going to the FBI without me,” said Jim.
There was a hurt silence. “OK,” I said. “I promise to bring you with me to the FBI.”
It wasn’t easy to find the FBI in London. Directory enquiries had no record of them. “Are you sure F stands for Federal?” they asked.
I finally tracked them to the US embassy, and an agent called Michael came on the phone. When I told him what I had, he said, casually, “Yes. That would be something we’d be interested in. Could you bring it in?”
“Tomorrow?” I asked, and Michael agreed.
I realised that things were less casual when Michael telephoned me at 8.30am to ask if I was coming in today. Things aren’t casual at 8.30am. People call at 8.30am if they’ve been up worrying.
And two hours later – in Grosvenor Square, central London – Jim and I were past the security guards, past the ocean of fencing, through the x-rays, the bag search, up the elevator, through a series of reinforced steel doors – the kind of doors you find on safes – through more corridors, through the body search, and into London’s FBI headquarters. We were led into an office decorated with novelty Big Ben snowstorms and a collection of funny police helmets.
Michael was sitting at his desk. He was bookish and young. He shook hands, led us through to his boss’s office, and sat us on the sofa. He got out his notepad and said, “So how did you come to meet this Tim?”
“Well,” said Jim, “we’re journalists, and we were following Randy Weaver around the gun show circuit. Actually, Jon had hooked up with Randy Weaver a few days earlier, but I’d been researching another project, would you believe it, surveillance cameras in shopping malls!” Jim laughed nervously. Michael’s eyes began to glaze.
I think that Jim, like many people who meet law enforcement officers, was feeling the desperate urge to confess. Luckily, Jim didn’t have anything to confess to, so this compulsion was finding a different outlet – mad small talk. I glanced down at Michael’s notepad. So far, he’d written only two words: “Randy Weaver.”
“Shall we watch the tape?” said Michael.
“With a mass propagated pre-packaged bio-weapon, you could render most of the major cities uninhabitable in about a week, which would wreck the economy and pretty much put an end to the government,” said Tim on the tape.
“Tim,” replied Jim on the tape, “what you’re advocating here is the spread of really dangerous information. Why do you feel that it’s a good idea for everybody to know this terrible stuff?”
I was relieved that Jim had adopted a combative style of questioning with Tim. All too often, Jim and I ask extremists over-soft questions that might lead FBI agents erroneously to believe that we had gone native. When the tape ended, Michael thanked us very much and escorted us back to the lobby.
That night, as I lay in bed, I thought of Tim, and I wondered who he really was. A week later, the Wall Street Journal provided the answer: the FBI, it said, was looking for a home-grown anthrax terrorist, and they were making inquiries about a Nebraska man called Tim Tobiason, who was known on the gun show circuit for advocating the use of anthrax. Apparently, the FBI had been alerted to Tim by a “member of the public”. There was a photograph. This was my Tim.
It turned out that Tim Tobiason came from Silver Creek, Nebraska. He had once been a pillar of the community, the owner of an animal-feed mill with 24 employees and $3m a year cashflow, married, with two daughters, and a bit of a chemical wizard, too; he mixed up witches’ brews at night in his garage – funny-smelling stuff, said his neighbours. Then he made a new kind of phosphate-based feed additive which, he calculated, would net him millions. He set about patenting it, but the government said it would be dangerous to cattle, so they rejected it. He began bitching to his friends about a conspiracy, how the government had stolen his patent and given it to some agricultural corporation. He moved into a Dodge caravan and plotted his revenge. He wrote Scientific Principles Of Improvised Warfare: Advanced Biological Weapons Design And Manufacture. The cover promised, “If you can make Jell-O, you can wipe out cities. Enjoy!”
His marriage collapsed and he took to selling his book on the gun show circuit. In the wake of the Wall Street Journal article, TV crews stormed Silver Creek. But Tim had vanished. The FBI analysed his handwriting, and followed the instructions in his anthrax cookbook, finding them to be shoddy and incomplete. They concluded that Tim Tobiason was innocent. As a result of the publicity, Tim was banned from gun shows across the US. His Silver Creek neighbours said they didn’t expect him back, which was for the best because he was no longer welcome in town.
The last I heard of Tim Tobiason was in December last year. Dan Rather’s CBS news team secretly filmed him at a gun show in California – one of the few still letting him sell his books. In this covert recording, Tim said that if a federal agent killed him and his children, an unnamed colleague of his would exact a terrible revenge. This colleague would take “communicable weapons to every grade school within 50 miles of CIA headquarters, infect them all, they go home, infect Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad goes back to CIA, and two weeks later CIA’s gone.” Tim was one of those people who always lived in fear that the federal government would come after him, and Jim and I made his paranoid fantasy come true.
For all his blather, I think my decision to shop Tim to the FBI was an even less justifiable response to the hysteria than the actions of the four anthrax hoaxers whom I interviewed. Clay Waagner had a good excuse for going crazy that month. He had a cause. Lucy Manifold was trying to stay happy. Bryan Mangnall was a dumb jock. And Terry Olson was depressed and wanted attention. I had no good reason to do what I did. And I got thanked for it. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/oct/05/anthrax.uk1
Crime in The City (Sixty to Zero) by Neil Young
All the champs and the heroes
They got a price to pay
They go from sixty to zero
In the split of a hair
They see the face in the window
They feel a shadow out there
They’ve got the places they can go
They’ve got the people who stare
They’ve got to walk in their shoes
They’ve got to see what they see
They’ve got the people around them
Getting too much for free
All the pimps and the dealers
All the food they can eat
All the screamers and squealers
When they walk down the street
He’s just a rich old man
He never cared for anyone
He likes to count his possessions
He’s been a miser from penny one
He never cared for his children
Never cared for his wife
Never made anyone happy
That’s the way he lived his life
And one day in the sunshine
He got a bolt from the blue
Unloaded all of his possessions
Sold his investments too
And now he lives with the homeless
Owns 900 hospital beds
He prefers to remain nameless
It’s publicity he dreads
There’s a judge in the city
He goes to work every day
Spends his life in the courthouse
Keeps his perspective that way
But I respect his decision
He’s got a lot on his mind
He’s pretty good with the gavel
A little heavy on the fines
One day there was this minstrel
Who came to court on a charge
That he blew someone’s head off
Because his amp was too large
And the song he was singin’
Was not for love but for cash
Well, the judge waived the charges
He fingered his mustache
Well, there’s a clown in a carnival
He rode a painted horse
He came from somewhere out west
He was very funny of course
But that is not what I noticed
It was the incredible force
With which he held his audience
While he rode on his horse
His jokes were not that off-color
His smile was not that sincere
His show was that not that sensational
Reasons for success were not clear
But he still made big money
One day the circus was his
Now he’s married to the acrobat
And they’re training their kids
Now the jailhouse was empty
All the criminals were gone
The gate was left wide open
And a buck and fawn
Were eating grass in the courtyard
When the warden walked in
And took a rifle from the prison guard
And said to him with a grin
To shoot those deer would be stupid, sir
We already got ’em right here
Why not just lock the gates and keep them
With intimidation and fear?
But the warden pulled the trigger
And those deer hit the ground
He said Nobody’ll know the difference
And they both looked around.
Well, the cop made the showdown
He was sure he was right
He had all of the lowdown
From the bank heist last night
His best friend was a robber
And his wife was a thief
All the children were murderers
They couldn’t get no relief
The bungalow was surrounded
When a voice loud and clear
Come out with your hands up
Or we’re gonna blow you out of here
There was a face in the window
TV cameras rolled
And they cut to the announcer
And the story was told.
Well, the artist looked at the producer
The producer sat back
He said What we have got here
Is a pretty good track
But we don’t have a vocal
And we still don’t have a song
If we could get this thing accomplished
Nothin’ else could go wrong
So he balanced the ashtray
And he picked up the phone
And said Send me a songwriter
Who’s drifted far from home
And make sure that he’s hungry
And make sure he’s alone
And send me a cheeseburger
And a new Rolling Stone
Well, the Sioux and Dakota
They lost all of their land
And now a basketball player
Is trying to lend them a hand
Maybe someday he’ll be president
He’s quite a popular man
But now the chief has reservations
And the white man has plans
There’s opposition in Congress
The bill is up against cash
There’s really no way of predicting
If it will fly or it will crash
But that’s the nature of politics
That’s the name of the game
That’s how it looks in the tepee
Big winds are blowing again
There’s still crime in the city
Said the cop on the beat
I don’t know if I can stop it
I feel like meat on the street
They paint my car like a target
I take my orders from fools
Meanwhile some kid blows my head off
Well, I play by their rules
So now I’m doing it my way
I took the law in my own hands
Here I am in the alleyway
A wad of cash in my pants
I get paid by a ten year old
He says he looks up to me
There’s still crime in the city
But it’s good to be free
Now I come from a family
That has a broken home
Sometimes I talk to my daddy
On the telephone
When he says that he loves me
I know that he does
But I wish I could see him
Wish I knew where he was
But that’s the way all my friends are
Except maybe one or two
Wish I could see him this weekend
Wish I could walk in his shoes
But now I’m doin’ my own thing
Sometimes I’m good, then I’m bad
Although my home has been broken
It’s the best home I ever had
Well, I keep getting younger
My life’s been funny that way
Before I ever learned to talk
I forgot what to say
I sassed back to my mummy
I sassed back to my teacher
I got thrown out of Sunday School
For throwin’ bibles at the preacher
Then I grew up to be a fireman
I put out every fire in town
Put out everything smoking
But when I put the hose down
The judge sent me to prison
Gave me life without parole
Wish I never put the hose down
Wish I never got old. http://thrasherswheat.org/fot/lyrics_crime.htm
While watching this game I tuned it out to concentrate on the position after Awonder played 27…Kb7.
My initial thoughts concerning Sam playing 28 Nbc6, but after black plays 28…Rh8 it seemed there must be more to the position than offered by the move 28 Nbc6. I wanted to move the knight attacked by the pawn, but digging deeper I saw another line. 28 Nbc6 need not be played because of the devastating move, after 28 Nec6 axb4, of 29 Qa7+! Kc8 30 Ne7+, winning the Queen…
28 Nec6 is the most FORCING MOVE. Black MUST take the Knight. After 28…Nxc6 29 Bxc6+ Rxc6 30 Qxc6 Qxc6 31 Nxc6 Kxc6 32 Rxe6 fxe6 33 Rxg7 it’s “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”
The move Sam played was good enough to win, but it is a shame Sam did not play the Knight to c6 variation in lieu of backing down at the critical moment. One can do that with a completely won game I suppose, but other completely won games in this championship were not won. Sam had worked on that c6 square and though it looked as though Awonder had it covered, he did not have it covered sufficiently. I am not criticizing the new United States Chess Champion as this is only a slight blemish on his overall splendid, and strong, play in this tournament. What seemed to concern Sam most was making the Olympiad squad. Now Sam makes the US “big three” the US “BIG FOUR!”
What makes this so amazing is that in his previous tournament, China vs The World, Sam had lost FIVE games, while winning only one, for a performance rating of only 2597. Do you think Sam had something to prove after that debacle? Prove it he did!
A gambling man could have obtained great odds wagering on Sam Shankland, who would, no doubt, be stuck with the moniker, “The Shank” with the gamblers. All, or at least most, of the “smart money” would have gone to the Big Three. Considering the fact that tournaments like this with an even number of players are unfair, because have the field must play with the black pieces an extra time, which is obviously inherently unfair. How many “smart” gamblers would wager on any of the unfortunate players at a serious disadvantage? Sam was given lemons, which he turned into lemonade. He won four games with the black pieces while drawing two, for a performance rating with black of an astounding 2927! This was higher than his PR with white of “only” 2849. His combined PR was 2892.
I intentionally eschewed watching the coverage provided by the usual suspects this year in order to “watch” the old fashioned way, using a real board with pieces while watching the games provided at TWIC, without computer aided analysis. Copious notes were taken, along with comments, which were later checked over at the ChessBomb. Until the last round…when I brought up Yaz, Maurice, and Jennifer, just in time to watch Sam give his now famous fist pump. Every picture tells a story, don’t it?
I have been involved with the Royal game since 1970 and this is the most remarkable performance I can recall. David Spinks was famous for saying, “You gotta PULL for SOMEBODY, man!” As the tournament progressed I could not help but “pull” for The Shank. Congratulations to Sam Shankland for a brilliant tournament performance, which was a thing of beauty. I recall a time when The Shank was in some kind of crisis, talking of giving up the Royal game. Fortunately for we Chess fans, Sam did not quit. I can think of no more deserving Champion than Sam Shankland. This was his tenth appearance at the US Chess Championship. Sam has paid his dues, in full. If lack of confidence has held The Shank back until now, it is no longer a factor in the equation. Samuel L. Shankland has earned his place on the podium along with all of the great former US Chess Champions of history! Long live the Champion!
as he did jump through the hoops and relished arguing about how to rate a movie. Upon learning I would rate it so highly David would, no doubt, exclaim, “What? Have you lost your mind? Nobody rates any movie higher than a 9.5!”
I spent an inordinate amount of time watching each and every game during March of 2016 while greatly enjoying the commentary of 9 dan Michael Redmond,
an American who is the highest ranking Western player ever, and Chris Garlock, the editor of the American Go Journal.
If I had to use only one word to describe the movie it would be “poignant.” Many people with no interest in the game of Go, or any game for that matter, would have little, if any, interest in watching a movie, especially a documentary, about a mere game, possibly considering it dry and uninteresting. They would be sorely mistaken. Games are played by human beings and we humans are emotional creatures. Only a psychopath could watch this movie without having feelings evoked. When something is gained something is also lost. The computer program known as AlphaGo gained a victory for artificial intelligence when man lost yet another battle with a machine.
a 9-dan, the highest rank, professional Go player, who has won 18 World Titles, and is considered to be one of the all-time great Go players, lost the match to AlphaGo, 1-4, but won our hearts. Lee Sedol said, “I want my style of Go to be something different, something new, my own thing, something that no one has thought of before.” Unfortunately it was the silicon monster that showed something new, something that no one had thought of before. It is now known all the world over as “Move 37!” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNrXgpSEEIE)
“In Game Two, the Google machine made a move that no human ever would. And it was beautiful,” writes Cade Metz in Wired.
The move reminded me of the great Go Seigen,
considered to be one of the strongest players of all time, if not the greatest, because it was played on the inside, near the middle of the board, a type of move he made famous.
Lee Sedol vs AlphaGo Move 37 reactions and analysis
In the movie one hears, “Move 37 begat move 78.” From the aforementioned Wired article: “But in Game Four, the human made a move that no machine would ever expect. And it was beautiful too. Indeed, it was just as beautiful as the move from the Google machine—no less and no more. It showed that although machines are now capable of moments of genius, humans have hardly lost the ability to generate their own transcendent moments.” (https://www.wired.com/2016/03/two-moves-alphago-lee-sedol-redefined-future/)
Move 78 has become known as the Hand of God move.
Lee Sedol Hand of God Move 78 Reaction and Analysis
Lee Sedol won the fourth game, striking a glorious blow for humans. Unfortunately he lost the final game in a close, hard fought battle. It may have been the last game a human will ever win against any program as the next incarnation of AlphaGo beat the current world No. 1 ranking player Ke Jie,
3-0 in the Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, China, played on 23, 25, and 27 May 2017.
Before the match it was commonly accepted that it would be at least a decade before any program was able to challenge the best human players. Beating Kasparov at Chess was considered child’s play to beating a human at Go. “The Game of Go is the holy grail of artificial intelligence. Everything we’ve ever tried in AI, it just falls over when you try the game of Go.” – Dave Silver Lead Researcher for AlphaGo
While watching the movie the thought crossed my mind that what I was watching was a watershed moment in the history of mankind, analogous to Neal Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“We think of DeepMind as kind of an Apollo program effort for AI. Our mission is to fundamentally understand intelligence and recreate it artificially.” – Demis Hassabis Co-Founder & CEO, DeepMind
A comment from a member of the AlphaGo team has stuck with me: “We do not understand enough about Go to understand what AlphaGo is doing.” I cannot help but wonder if, in the future when programs are exponentially more powerful, humans will allow the programs to make decisions for them while not understanding why those decisions have been made…
This is a great movie. The Chess player IM Boris Kogan said, “The measure of a man is how he comes back after a defeat.” In the two months after Lee Sedol lost to the computer program known as AlphaGo he won every match he played against human opponents.
IM Daniel Gurevich “cut his eye teeth,” as we say in the South, at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, aka, the House of Pain.
I made a point to be near the first board game of the last round of the K-6 section when Daniel took clear first in the Supernationals at Opryland in Nashville back in 2009 and I was the first one to congratulate him. He was beaming and his face broke into a big smile as he took my proffered hand. His score of six and a half out of seven games raised his rating from 2075 to 2104, and it has not stopped rising. His FIDE page shows his current FIDE rating as 2471. It will continuing heading upward after his second place finish, tied with four others, in the GM section of the recently concluded St. Louis Invitational, with a undefeated score of plus two, both wins coming with the black pieces. The final crosstable shown at the website of the STLCC (https://www.uschesschamps.com/2017-saint-louis-invitational/pairings-results-gm) shows Daniel with the second highest performance rating (2563) behind only that of tournament winner IM John Burke (2606).
I would like to present all of Daniel’s games at the tournament, some of which I was fortunate enough to watch (“You GOTTA pull for somebody, man!” – David Spinks); all of which I have played over.
Two games annotated by his opponents follow below the games. The first game, which I enjoyed immensely, could be called a “real barn burner!” The ChessBomb shows a plethora of “red moves,” but then most fighting games are repleat with “off-color” moves, are they not?
IM Daniel Gurevich (2471) v IM Aman Hambleton (2484)
Many years ago NM Neal Harris beat the Legendary Georgia Ironman for the second time in the exact same variation. The Ironman, who was none too pleased, said, “That Neal…he ain’t nothing but an ol’ swindler!” We have all laughed about it since then, and I have been known to address my friend Neal as “Ol’ Swindler”, which invariably brings out a smile from the Ol’ Swindler. Today the ol’ dog proved he still has some bite!
This afternoon as fire raged on every board at the Sinquefield Cup, with GM Maurice displaying histrionics that would make Tom Cruise proud, and Jen and Ben talking excitedly when given the chance, with even the usually calm and understated Yaz getting in on the act, especially when Hikaru Nakamura eschewed the opportunity to put Darth Topalov out of his misery with 21…Bxf2+, I was following the game between Neal and Kazim Gulamali at the US Masters along with the coverage from St. Louis.
Neal is a fellow Senior who happens to be against Senior tournaments. We have agreed to disagree on the matter. Knowing Kazim from the time he was a child put me in a tough position. It is one of those situations where one might hope for a great game that turns out to be a draw. Then there is David Spinks, who said, “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY!” I admit that when the Ol’ Swindler obtained an advantage my heart was with him. “Come on Neal, push that pawn to e2!” I exclaimed as he missed chance after chance to do just that. Nevertheless, Neal found a way to win. Congratulations my friend! NC obtained a modicum of revenge for the loss to the Atlanta Kings earlier this week.