The Dirty Laundry of Atlanta Chess

While living in Greenville, SC, the octogenarian, LM Klaus Pohl, said something that stuck with me. When asked what he thought of the new Chess Center in Charlotte Klaus said he did not like to play there because the young players offer too many draws. Upon further questioning Klaus said that with scholarships so important the young players were “afraid to lose,” so therefore made far too many draw offers. From the time I began playing in USCF tournaments rating has been King. This was, though, the first time I had heard anything concerning what the rating points could possibly mean toward earning a scholarship. Another player listening to the conversation said, “Everyone knows rating points are being bought and sold like it’s an open market.” My reply, “I did not know that,” elicited this response, “Ah, come on man. You worked at the Atlanta Chess Center. Surely you were aware of that kind of thing taking place.” With a blank look on my face I replied, “Not really.” I am not saying it did not happen, just that I was completely unaware of it if it did, in fact, happen while I was employed at the House of Pain.

There were rumors going around before I returned to Atlanta. I will not print rumors. I did, though, reach out to several people involved with Chess in Georgia, writing, “If you would like to comment on any of this, let me inform you that I may use anything you say, or write, UNLESS YOU WANT IT KEPT PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL!”

No one responded. They ain’t talking.

In an article appearing at the Georgia Chess News website, Meet the 2019 GCA Candidates (http://georgiachessnews.com/2019/04/27/meet-the-2019-candidates/), David Hater,

candidate for the position of OFFICE OF 1ST VICE PRESIDENT writes: “I am running for 1st Vice President of GCA. I previously served on the GCA Board in this position, but I resigned from the board because, in my opinion, the board had become dysfunctional. Several months ago several GCA Board members encouraged me to run for the position again. I agreed to do so only after Scott Parker also agreed to run for President of GCA. My hope is that the next board will place personal feelings and animosity aside and work for chess instead of for their own interests/pet projects or a narrow constituency.”

The fact that Colonel David Hater felt he had to resign from the GCA Board speaks loudly. The fact that David, a man I admire and respect, felt compelled to write, “…the board had become dysfunctional,” screams out in pain. Nevertheless, David did not respond to my entreaty.

One of the board members did say, in an off hand comment at the Ironman Chess Club, they were “fed up” with all the “screaming and shouting” at the meeting of the GCA board. Although no names were mentioned the fact is that it is now, and has been for some time, an open secret that Thad Rogers was not happy when Parnell Watkins used his affiliate, American Chess Promotions to rate some of the events listed below. The thing is that Thad Rogers

and Parnell Watkins

were earlier listed as running for the same office, that of 1st member at large. The only one leaving a statement at a page mentioned earlier was L. Thad Rogers, the man who became POTGCA again after the previous president, Fun E. Fong, abdicated, leaving Chess behind like it was the plague. From reports it is obvious Chess in my home state of Georgia has quickly devolved under the caretaker leadership of Thad Rogers.

The Georgia State Chess Championship begins tonight and there will be an election Sunday. Chess players, and members of the GCA, can only hope responsible leaders, such as Scott Parker

and David Hater, gain a seat on the board.

Alan Piper was known as “The Pipe” at the House of Pain. As one of Alan’s victims eased down the stairs those below watched as someone said, “It looks like he got hit by the Pipe,” while others nodded in agreement. One wag said, “Sometimes you hit the Pipe. Sometimes the Pipe hits you.” Alan once won a state championship (I want to say Missouri, but could be wrong) when younger and was a NM. Although uncertain about Alan’s age, the fact is he has been eligible for the Senior tournaments for many years and must be seventy, or older.

The following results for the past 12 months was taken from the USCF website:

10487030: ALAN G PIPER
Current Published
Rating ( Supplement)
Regular Rating 2000 2019-03
(Current floor is 1600)
Quick Rating 1905 2019-03
Blitz Rating 1808 2019-03

Rank USCF ID Name Games Wins Draws Losses
1 14916346 SHANMUKHA MERUGA 50 1 0 49
2 14114923 KAPISH POTULA 19 1 1 17
3 14299428 SAITHANUSRI AVIRNENI 14 7 0 7
4 14577814 DAVIDE NASTASIO 3 1 1 1
5 15909472 TAIYE HILARY ESTWICK 1 1 0 0
6 16045110 TYLER JAMES BREDOW 1 1 0 0
7 16045235 CASEY WASSERMAN 1 1 0 0
8 14822494 TYLER SCHMUGGEROW 1 1 0 0
9 14684432 JOSHUA MORGAN KAROL 1 1 0 0
10 12365700 J PARNELL WATKINS JR 1 1 0 0

http://www.uschess.org/datapage/gamestats.php

The Pipe has obviously played an inordinate amount of games with two players. The number of losses to the two much younger players is simply staggering. Usually when one is drubbed in a match there are no further matches. One of the members of the GCA board, a very nice woman, Anna Baumstark, told me it was all “public record on the USCF website.” I decided to take the time to check it out…You, too, can check it out here: http://www.uschess.org/msa/MbrDtlMain.php?14114923

On September 12, 2015. Alan Piper played in the INVITATIONAL QUAD #10 (GA), directed by Grant Oen. The Sponsoring Affiliate was SOUTHEAST CHESS.

Pair | Player Name |Total|Round|Round|Round|Round|
Num | USCF ID / Rtg (Pre->Post) | Pts | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |
———————————————————————–
1 | KAPISH POTULA |2.5 |W 2|D 3|W 4|* |
GA | 14114923 / R: 2014 ->2053 | |B |W |B | |
———————————————————————–
2 | CARTER F PEATMAN |2.0 |* |W 3|W 4|L 1|
GA | 12945576 / R: 2101 ->2108 | | |W |B |W |
———————————————————————–
3 | ALAN G PIPER |1.5 |L 2|* |W 4|D 1|
GA | 10487030 / R: 2070 ->2071 | |B | |W |B |
———————————————————————–
4 | SHANMUKHA MERUGA |0.0 |L 2|L 3|* |L 1|
GA | 14916346 / R: 2088 ->2053 | |W |B | |W |

Alan would not play again until August 13, 2016 when he participated in the CHESS BUG ATLANTA TOURNAMENT, directed by JOSEPH COUVILLION, with CHESS BUG ATLANTA, being the affiliate. SHANMUKHA MERUGA was clear first with 3-0. KAPISH POTULA finished clear second with a 2-1 score, the loss was to Meruga. Alan Piper won a game from a class C player, and lost two other games, one with a class B player, the other to Kapish Potula.

Let us go back to the tournament prior to the Quad, August 8, 2015, the LOGANVILLE SUMMER QUAD, directed by Grant Oen, with the affilate being Southeast Chess. The Pipe won all three games; gained 29 rating points which raised his rating to 2079. He beat Shanmukha Meruga, rated 2054, in the first round, then two class A players, Vedic Panda and Davide Nastasio.

After playing in the aforementioned CHESS BUG ATLANTA TOURNAMENT Alan did not play again until January 22, 2018 when he played a match with Shanmukha Meruga. The TD was J PARNELL WATKINS JR, and the affiliate was Gwinnett Chess. The time control was G/30;d5. Meruga won all four games, gaining fourteen points to end with a rating of 2056. The Pipe lost twenty points dropping to 2019.

After a couple of blitz quads on July 13 the next match with Meruga took place the next day, July 14. The TD was J PARNELL WATKINS JR, using the affiliate of the acting President of the GCA, L. Thad Rogers, AMERICAN CHESS PROMOTIONS. It was a real old fashioned, “speed,” time control of five minutes only for the games. Meruga won all ten games.

Three days later another match was contested between the same two players, named, PIPER MERUGA MATCH 2. The time control was, G/25;d5. The TD was J PARNELL WATKINS JR, and it was rated using the affiliate of GWINNETT CHESS. Meruga won all five games.

Two days later, July 19, 2018 there was yet another tournament contested once again by the young whippersnapper and the old leaky Pipe. Once again it was directed by J PARNELL WATKINS JR and the sponsoring affiliate was again GWINNETT CHESS, and once again Meruga won all ten games played at a “speed” TC of five minutes for the entire game.

Three days later there was the NASTASIO-PIPER MATCH, which was held at the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta in Roswell, Georgia, the seventh largest city in the great state of Georgia. The chief TD was BENJAMIN P FINEGOLD,


Meruga/Finegold in front of the Atlanta Chess and Scholastic Club of Atlanta located in Roswell, Ga.

assisted by KAREN BOYD.


Karen Boyd and Ben Finegold

The time control was G/60;+10. The three game match was drawn. In addition there was another match played that day between the same two players. The TC was G/4;+2, and Piper won 8-2.

A few weeks later, 9/8/18, Piper and Meruga were back at it, contesting not one, but two, more matches. J PARNELL WATKINS JR was again the TD and AMERICAN CHESS PROMOTIONS was the affiliate used to rate the matches. No one will be surprised to learn Meruga won the G/5 “speed” match 9-1. What is surprising is that Piper actually won a game…Three games were also contested at a TC of G/30;d10. Guess who won all three games? Yeah, Meruga.

The very next day, 9/9/2018, the two intrepid players were back at it. Once again J PARNELL WATKINS JR was the TD, but the affiliate used was now GWINNETT CHESS. The speed match, with only five minutes per game, was convincingly won by Meruga by a score of 20-0. That is ZERO, ZIP, NADA!

It will come as little surprise by now that Meruga also won the G/30;d10 match by a score of 4-0.

The very next day yet another match was contested between the same two players, again with the same TD and affiliate. The time control was G/30;d10 and Meruga won all six games.

Have you gotten a whiff of some sort of fishy smell yet?

A few days later the Pipe was back at it, but with a different opponent, Kapish Potula. The TD and affiliate was the same, J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS. The time control was G/25;d5. Kapish Potula won all four games and increased his rating from 2136 to 2159.

One week later, on 9/28/18 the two players with the same TD and affiliate did it again. And again Potula won all four G/25;d5 to raise his rating from 2159 to 2179.

On October 6, 2018 the Pipe had a new opponent, SAITHANUSRI AVIRNENI, rated 1964. A six game match at a time control of G/35;d5 was contested and…the match was drawn! J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS was at it again.

On October 13, 2018 there was another six game, G/25;d5 match with Kapish Potula, and again it was J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS. Hold on to something as I inform you that Alan G Piper actually won, and drew, two of the games played, while losing the other four.

The thing is that on that very same day, October 13, 2018, the Pipe also played another match with someone else, SAITHANUSRI AVIRNENI. It was another G/25;d5 with all the usual suspects present, meaning Parnell and Gwinnett Chess. The match was drawn, 2-2.

Then we come to November 19, 2018, the 2018 MERUGA PIPER “dual.” It appears as though that between 2018-11-17 thru 2018-11-19 a NINETEEN GAME MATCH at a TC of G/25;d5 was contested by the usual suspects, Meruga and Piper. The aforementioned player, Meruga won all nineteen games…J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS were again the usual suspects.

But wait, there’s MORE! On November 27 the same two players contested yet another G/25;d5 “dual,” which Meruga won 12-0. Again, J PARNELL WATKINS JR and GWINNETT CHESS were the responsible parties.

On December 7, a day which will live in infamy, 2018, another G/25;d5 match took place between Alan G. Piper and Kapish Potula. It was won by Potula, 5-0. J PARNELL WATKINS JR directed and GWINNETT CHESS sent it in to be rated.

After a couple more tournaments in December and a last one on January 26, the CCSCATL WINTER BLITZ CHAMPIONS, the record shows no more games, or matches, for the Pipe.

As a result of all these games, and others, Meruga became a 2300 rated player. Kapish Potula is currently rated 2187, knocking on the National Master door.

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Cyrus Lakdawala Interviewed at Georgia Chess News

An Interview with IM Cyrus Lakdawala

by Davide Nastasio was published March 1, 2019 at the GA CHESS NEWS website. http://georgiachessnews.com/2019/03/01/an-interview-with-im-cyrus-lakdawala/

The interview is excellent and was enjoyed immensely. Although aware of IM Lakdawala from his playing days, and knowing he was a prolific author considered controversial by some, I knew very little about him. The lack of knowledge was remedied by the interview found him to be a very interesting person with whom I would like to spend time.

The knock on Cyrus is the number of Chess books he has written. I visited the Gorilla and stopped after counting on my fingers and toes twice. I must admit to not having read any of the books. I do not even recall seeing one of his books in a bookstore. Yet his book published last summer, How Ulf Beats Black: Ulf Andersson’s Bulletproof Strategic Repertoire for White,

looks interesting, especially since I previously read, Grandmaster Chess Strategy: What Amateurs Can Learn from Ulf Andersson’s Positional Masterpieces, by Jurgen Kaufeld and Guido Kern, published at the beginning of this decade and consider it to be a masterpiece.

The interview begins, “Life is full of surprises. Thanks to the unexpected alignment of Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter, I had the chance to interview Cyrus Lakdawala, likely the biggest writer in chess history. Some love him, and some definitely hate his writing style. Whatever your inclination is, don’t miss this interview, because in it we discover more about a great professional player who has worked in chess for decades, and who has dedicated his life to something he truly loves.
Generally when I don’t know what to give as a gift for Christmas, I give Lakdawala’s books. I remember once I found an incredible offer of Korchnoi’s Move by Move for something like $6, and bought some for Christmas.” One of the friends I gave the book to never played chess again, so I guess Lakdawala was pure enlightenment! I loved interviewing Lakdawala for the following reasons: he is really articulate, he shows a human side of chess in which we can all find ourselves, but most of all I felt the similarities with his writings and my own.

As always in my articles I will pause the interview from time to time to show some excerpts from the great books written by Lakdawala, Some of the games I found in his books are quite important for our development as chess players.”

Davide Nastasio: Could you tell for our readers how the chess journey began for you?

Cyrus Lakdawala: My father taught me how to play at age eight, and I have never forgiven him for it! I got immediately addicted, even though I didn’t display an iota of talent for the game.

DN: Who coached you when you were young?

CL: At first I only played my father (who was an A-player) and kids at school, but never had a formal coach. I was essentially self-taught from books — and I wasn’t a very good teacher, since my study was all over the place. Also, I was completely dishonest with myself, since at age eight, I strove to be the new Tal, which was a wee bit off the mark, since on the chess board I was the biggest dove of all time. When I was a kid, during summer vacation I desperately sought out strong competition and would walk miles to the shopping center bus stop, take a 45-minute bus trip to downtown Montreal, then take a 20-minute metro ride to the En Passant Chess Cafe. There I could play blitz with strong masters, like FM George Levtchouk (maybe I’m misspelling his name, if so, sorry George!) and GM Kevin Spraggett, and many others. I would play endless blitz games for stakes of 25 to 50 cents per game, which for a 13-year-old in 1973, was a fortune, since I only made $5 per week from my paper route. I was completely lopsided in playing strength with fast and slow time controls. I could hang with masters and even some titled players in blitz, yet in tournament play, I was still rated 1795 in over-the-board play when I was 17 years old, so it would be slightly dishonest to describe myself as a budding prodigy!

DN: Which books influenced you most in your formative years? (An excellent question for a prolific Chess writer)

CL: Five chess books deeply influenced me:
1. I don’t remember its name or its author, but it was a book on Capablanca’s games. Going through them, I craved to replicate Capa’s Mozartian perfection in my own games and always fell short.
Let me pause the interview here to point out that Lakdawala wrote a book on Capablanca!

And this is a game from that book which shows Lakdawala’s great teaching skills! (The game between Capa and A. Conde from Hastings 1919 follows)

And now back to the interview!

2. I read a book on Nimzowitsch’s games (I don’t remember the name or author of this one either and I’m wondering if I should up my daily dose of Ginko Biloba) and desperately tried to imitate Nimzo’s play, usually with disastrous results, since I would cleverly transfer my queen to a1 and then get mated on the other side of the board, or with great erudition I would overprotect my e5-pawn (just as Nimzowitsch taught) and then overlook my opponent’s response …Bxa1, chopping my now hanging queen.
3. I devoured Fischer’s 60 Memorable Games, and swore to be his next incarnation and play just like him. As you may have guessed, this vow didn’t come to fruition.
I need to pause the interview once again to show another book by Lakdawala on Fischer.

My idea to show entire games commented by Lakdawala has purpose to show the great deal we can learn from his format, thanks to his questions at the right moments.
4. In the summer of 1977, I read my buddy IM Tony Saidy’s

masterpiece: Battle of Chess Ideas

and was so inspired that I made the slightly questionable decision of striving to become a professional chess player, despite the fact that I was 17 years old and rated 1795. I have since demanded an apology from Tony for tricking me with his book.
5. In 1994, I was mired at a USCF rating of 2500 for several years and it felt as if I had reached my peek rating. Then to my great good fortune, I bought a copy of my buddy Jeremy Silman’s

Reassess Your Chess

as a teaching tool for my students, since I considered it a beginner’s book. To my great astonishment, the book shifted something which was previously jammed in my thinking process and my rating rocketed to nearly 2600 within the space of a very short time, which I completely attribute to Jeremy’s indispensable book. The reason Reassess Your Chess is the best-selling chess book of all time is that it may be the greatest chess book of all time. There is some hidden secret within it. Exactly what the essence of that secret is I can’t fathom, but it is there.
Again, I pause the interview to interject my own comments: I bought a 3rd edition of Silman, because I thought it was a classic. And I also bought the last edition, now I just need to find the time to read them!

DN: Now I’d like to ask you some questions about your books, because I know you are a prolific author. How did you select material for your own books?

CL: Sometimes I propose an idea and sometimes the publisher suggests one. I’m at the point right now where there is no time when I’m not simultaneously working on at least two books. For me, the books are all consuming and I think about them day and night. Since I began writing chess books, I filled up 77 yellow notepads with notes for my books. If I average about 650 notes per pad, that is a lot of notes. I can’t give you the exact number, because I already mentioned that I’m not very competent in math and am only able to count to 20.

DN: What is your philosophy for teaching?

CL: My philosophy for teaching is to never BS the student (or parent) and always ruthlessly tell them the truth — even when it hurts — which I do, since I’m not afraid of losing students by offending their parents. It is the nature of humans to crave praise, but false praise (which I see some teachers engage in) is harmful to the student. It’s a ruthless world out there and the student shouldn’t be congratulated if they didn’t prepare, lost 50 rating points in the tournament, ignored your opening advice and placed 40th in their section, yet some of the parents clap their hands in delight and tell the kid, “Great job! High five!” Instead, the student must be toughened with the truth. If the student is weak in a portion of the game or with a psychological aspect, I insist that they strive to fix the problem. The other issue is unrealistic expectations from parents. Their kid is lazy, 14 years old and rated 1400, yet they believe he or she is a prodigy and expect me to have the student break the 2200 barrier by the end of the year, achieve the IM title the following year and GM the year after that. I tell them this is impossible, yet love is blind and many parents believe their kid is the next Caruana or Carlsen.
Speaking of Carlsen, Lakdawala also wrote one Move by Move book on the World Champion.

DN: Do you have any advice for senior players?

CL: If we are the exquisitely carved porcelain doll, then old age is the hard stone floor when we are dropped, destined to smash into a thousand tiny shards. It’s difficult not to regard old age as a personal rebuke, since it is also a thief who slowly and brazenly embezzles our abilities over time. Survival in an unforgiving environment means having to make ruthless choices, so adjust your style to reduce calculation and complications, which exhaust us old guys. If you are an older player now way past your prime, you are most certainly better than your younger counterparts when it comes to decision-making and technical positions. So strive for these, rather than math-based situations. Our brains just don’t work as well as they did in our prime, so think about switching to the Caro-Kann and put your Dragons on the shelf. Factor in that your synapses don’t fire in the brain as fast as they used to and stop being the antlered buck who wants to smash heads, vying for dominance in the herd. Be sneaky, rather than forceful. So steer the game to logic-based positions, rather than irrational ones. Look, it isn’t all doom and gloom for us old guys and gals.

Davide then writes, “I’d like to pause the interview here to show Lakdawala can help also in the field of openings. He just mentioned the Caro-Kann for senior players, and he wrote a book on the Move by Move series.”

The game between A. Matanovic and T. Petrosian, Kiev, 1959 from the Caro-Kann book follows. Then the interview resumes:

With age comes the following:
1. Our experience translates to instant understanding in some positions, which youth and inexperience sorely lack.
2. With a slowing of our brain speed comes an increase of deceit, from decades of having been tricked ourselves. Young, inexperienced players can sometimes be easily tricked into positions which require experience and understanding, rather than calculation. I wrote in Play the London System,

“Old age and deceit overcome youth and talent,” and I meant it! So there are actual advantages to being old, and as the spokesperson for Farmer’s Insurance loves to repeat, “We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two.”

A writer cannot please everyone and must have thick skin to put his thoughts on paper, or digits on a screen. This is an example found on the internet:

maxharmonist

3 years ago

Cyrus Lakdawala is insufferable, his books being filled with endless and pointless meanderings of this sort (from the Kramnik book):

“The meek bishop backs off, does what he is told to do and goes where he is told to go. A beaten dog may still follow the cruel master’s command. In college, my first job was as an inept hotel clerk. When encountering daily traffic of unruly, spoiled hotel guests, my mouth would obediently respond, ‘Thank you, Sir, for your constructive criticism! Of course, Ma’am! Right away, Ma’am!’ As a pressure valve, my chafing mind, suffering from some strange, inward form of Tourette’s Syndrome, would add in the dark, silent realm of thought: ‘Bugger off (anatomically explicit expletives deleted)!'”

I am one of the readers who actually like “endless and pointless meanderings of this sort,” as they tell one much about the human being who has pointlessly meandered off endlessly. Some of my favorite books about Baseball have used a meandering regular season game as a backdrop for the author’s “meanderings,” which, when one cogitates a little, were the real reason for the book.

Because of reading this fabulous interview on the website of my state Chess magazine I intend on making it a point to read several of the author’s books, including this one since I have long been a Birdman:

It is obvious Lakdawala’s books have held their value. An example would be this book:

It is out of print and will set you back at least $83.44 on Amazon with some books priced over two hundred dollars. Obviously some readers like Cyrus Lakdawala’s books.

Chess Cheating: The Eternal Battle Between Good And Evil

A subject on which I have received much response from readers is cheating in Chess, and the number of emails received has increased over the years. Cheating at Chess is a subject that is not going away any time soon. Much has been written about the subject recently, including the following, but I want to mention an email received from a Chess dad. He mentioned talking with another father of a young Chess player about the subject of cheating in Chess and the man told him he needed to read the Armchair Warrior because the AW questions everything. Maybe I should have called the blog the ChessX-Files

Or maybe Mcully and Sculder…

The gentleman did get in touch, writing that his son, who was considered a promising player, had stopped playing Chess. When asked why he no longer wanted to play the game the son said, “Half the kids CHEAT, dad!”

The stunned father was taken aback. He wrote it took a few moments to gather himself. Then he questioned the number saying, “Surely it is not as bad as that?” The son replied his friend had also decided to quit the game because of the rampant cheating.

I have not been involved in playing Chess the past few years and have been away from tournament action. All I know is what I read on the Chess websites and what is sent to me via email, such as the following:

“This also goes past the actual cheating..I have beaten several GMs..so has (Name withheld)(even in his 70s)…of course the results are consider “upsets”…however If go to the US Masters and have a similar “upset win”..I am going to be accused of cheating..the organizers are going to strip search me looking for evidence..maybe call in DHS!…and if I was to have two “upset wins”… the GMS will pass around a letter asking that I should be removed from the US Masters…I would never get my reputation back…it’s kinda like be accused of a child abuse charge.. and notice that number of Masters that do not play anymore?… Chess at least in the US is doomed…and of course these are my personal comments and should not be connected to my name..you can use my concerns but please not my name or the state that I live in…”

This was received in the spring of this year. Reading it again caused me to think of the US Open this year in which only one IM participated…(This comes from memory; I did no research so I may have it confused with another large tournament) Make of it what you will…

How prevalent has cheating in Chess become?

Canadian Arbiter Caught Cheating

by kevinspraggettonchess · Published September 22, 2018 · Updated September 28, 2018

Claude Lessard is a popular and well respected arbiter, organizer and promoter in the Quebec City area chess community. Earlier in the month the Quebec Chess Federation (FQE) took the unprecedented step to ban him for 2 years following an investigation into multiple longtime allegations of cheating using a cellphone chess app during his games.

Questions of whether this cheating was just the tip of the iceberg amongst members of the popular chess club he ran and owned remain unanswered.

Cheating is destroying the game

I don’t play so much these days, but in the relatively few international tournaments that I have played in during the past 5 years here in Europe, I have witnessed a significant number of examples of cheating. Even amongst 2700-plus players, not just the lowly amateur.

Some of these methods used are quite sophisticated, and implicate outside help. All require the tournament arbiters to close their eyes and look the otherway. As I wrote several times here on this blog, a good rule of thumb is that at any given time in any tournament as many as 20% of the participants are cheating in one way or the other. Not just with apps.

Now that it is well established that parents, spectators, arbiters and even organizers are participating in this ‘epidemic’, that rule of thumb must be updated and increased.

Organized chess can not continue this way. Perhaps it is time for FIDE to stop listening to arbiters and organizers, or to start expelling some arbiters and organizers that players have already noticed can not be trusted.

http://www.spraggettonchess.com/canadian-arbiter-caught-cheating/

“If a player is determined to cheat, it will happen”

by Davide Nastasio

10/20/2018 – In the United States, there are many weekend tournaments, thanks to the efforts of many independent tournament organizers nationwide. Some of these tournaments provide significant prize money, over USD $12,000, and the chance to play against strong master level players. Georgia-based DAVIDE NASTASIO recently spoke to one such veteran organizer, Walter High,

and sent this brief interview along with annotated games from the North Carolina Open.

Walter High: I started playing because my two sons, David and Zachary, were becoming very good players and I got tired of sitting in the hallways of hotels and schools waiting for them to finish their games. I thought: “I can play this game! How hard could it be?” I found out the answer to that very, very quickly!

DN: What about cheating? The technology has made falling into temptation definitely easier, how are the USCF and US tournament organisers dealing with such a big problem?

WH: I sincerely doubt that there was ever a time when cheating did not exist in chess. Technology has just changed the methods used to cheat and also the methods used to prevent cheating. If a player is determined to cheat, it will happen. We cannot prevent it other than by making players face off naked in isolation from other players and all spectators! Technology is also used to help prevent cheating; metal detectors and wands are used to eliminate electronic devices from entering the playing venue. There is a point at large tournaments where anti-cheating measures can only go so far without making the tournament experience disagreeable for too many players. It is a trade-off we cannot escape. This problem will be as timeless as the eternal battle between good and evil.

https://en.chessbase.com/post/north-carolina-open-2018

Isle of Man Chess International, Round 2, 21 October 2018. Photo by John Saunders

Magnus Carlsen’s Bishop’s Opening

Having recently annotated a Bishop’s Opening played in the Women’s World Championship I had not intended on annotating the following game played in the ongoing Altibox Norway Chess 2018 tournament, but since it was yet another BO played by the human World Champion Magnus Carlsen, versus his challenger for the crown later this year, my mind was changed. Rather than making extensive comments I decided to make only a few pertinent comments, since the game has been annotated by many, including video(s) of the game, which can be found everywhere. In addition, Chessbase is now advertising a new video, The Bishop’s Opening and the Italian game, by GM Sergei Tiviakov.

I could not help but wonder if this product is being brought to the market now because of its use by the World Champ, Magnus Carlsen? The article/advertisement is authored by Davide Nastasio, who writes for the Georgia Chess Magazine (http://georgiachessnews.com/), which is now mainly devoted to reviews in lieu of articles concerning Georgia Chess. He begins the article, “This DVD could be Carlsen’s answer to Caruana’s unbeatable Petroff Defence.” I can only hope Magnus opens with 1 e4 e5 2 Bc4 one time in the upcoming World Championship. Imagine one of your “off-beat” openings that has been derided and ridiculed for decades being played in a match for the human World Championship!

The aforementioned game (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/05/25/2018-womens-world-championship-game-five/) between Zhongyi Tan

and Wenjun Ju

began 1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+. This caused a pause to study the position. The automatic response seems to be the move played, 7 c3. What if white plays 7 Bd2? Black could (should?) retreat the bishop as taking the bishop on d2 would mean black has moved his bishop twice in order to take a piece that has only moved once, thereby facilitating his opponents development. It would appear blacks best move would be to simply play 7…Bd6. But what if black takes the bishop? Does white take with the knight, playing , after 8…Bxd2, 9 Nxd2, or 9 Qxd2? These are the kinds of things argued about “back in the day.” Stockfish at ChessBomb gives 7 c3 in this particular position as best)

Magnus Carlsen (NOR)

vs Fabiano Caruana (USA)

Altibox Norway Chess 2018 round 01

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ (Wenjun Ju played a5 6. a4 Bb4+ vs Zhongyi Tan. See below) 6. Bd2 Bxd2+ 7. Nbxd2 (Magnus takes with the knight. What do the CDMs know? They know Magnus made an inferior move. They also know that now, without the inclusion of a5 followed by a4, the best move in the position is 7 Qxd2) 7…a5 8. c3 Nbd7 9. exd5 cxd5 10. O-O O-O 11. Re1 Re8 12. Nf1 b5 13. a4 b4 14. cxb4 axb4 15. Ne3 Bb7 (Nc5 is better)

16. d4? (Stockfish considers this move leaving a completely equal position, while 16 Nf5 gives white with an advantage of about half a pawn. Which move would you make? GM Daniel King in his video of the game found at Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/norway-chess-carlsen-round-1) does not mention the much better 16 Nf5) 16…e4 17. Ne5 Nxe5 18. dxe5 Rxe5 19. Qd4 Re7

20. Rac1? (When seeing this move I thought it might be a misprint. After becoming apparent it was the move played I could hear IM Boris Kogan asking, as he did so often when going over my games, “Mike, why you move rook protecting completely passed pawn when you could move other rook to the c-file?” Why indeed. GM Daniel King

glossed over this move, saying “Rac1 looks good to occupy the open file,” continuing as if it were the most natural move in the game. Frankly, the video leaves much to be desired. If GM King had been reviewing a game by one of his students, would he have praised the move? Or would he mention the possibility the move was inferior to Rec1? Why are other GMs afraid to criticize the human World Champion? Back in the day we accepted moves played by a World Champ almost without question. There is a reason Magnus is the human World Champion, but still…He is, after all, HUMAN. To NOT criticize the Champ is a disservice to we fans of the Royal game. We the Fans deserve better than twenty-two minutes of insipid drivel, which can be seen below providing you have twenty-two minutes to waste) 20…Rd7 21. Red1 h6 22. Rc5 Ra5 23. Rxa5 Qxa5 24. h3 Kh7 25. Rc1 Rc7? (GM King quotes Magnus as saying, “This is insane.” Stockfish at the ChessBomb gives the “sane” 25… Qa6 26. Rd1 Qa5 27. Rc1 Qa6, which likely leads to a draw, as best. After winning the candidates tournament, earning the right to face Magnus for the World Championship, I predicted Fabiano would beat Magnus. That was before watching Fabi play game after game, and tournament after tournament, in lieu of resting, and preparing, for the most important match of his life. Caruana has made weak move after weak move, followed by blunder after blunder, since becoming challenger. All I can say now is Caruana’s chances have diminished considerably. Unless things change DRAMATICALLY Fabi will be fortunate to not be blown out of the match early on…There is no more to be said about this game. I give the remaining moves for the record)

26. Rxc7 Qxc7 27. Qxb4 Qc1+ 28. Bd1 Ba6 29. Qd4 Be2 30. Kh2 Bxd1 31. Nxd1 Qc7+ 32. Kg1 Qc1 33. b4 e3 34. fxe3 Ne4 35. Qxd5 Nd2 36. Qf5+ Kh8 37. Qg4 f5 38. Qe2 Ne4 39. Qe1 Qa1 40. a5 Nd6 41. Qd2 Nc4 42. Qd4 Qc1 43. Kf1 Nxe3+ 44. Qxe3 Qxd1+ 45. Kf2 Qc2+ 46. Kg3 g5 47. Qe5+ Kh7 48. Kh2 f4 49. Qd5 Qa4 50. Qf7+ Kh8 51. Qg6 Qxb4 52. Qxh6+ Kg8 53. Qxg5+ Kh7 54. Qh5+ Kg7 55. Qg5+ Kh7 56. h4 Qd6 57. Qh5+ Kg7 58. Qg5+ Kh7 59. h5 f3+ 60. g3 f2 61. Qg6+ Kh8 62. Qxd6 f1=Q 63. Qh6+ Kg8 64. Qe6+ Kh8 65. Qe3 Qb5 66. Qc3+ Kh7 67. g4 Qd5 68. Qc7+ Kg8 69. Kg3 Qe6 70. Qd8+ Kh7 71. Qd3+ Kh8 72. a6 Qe5+ 73. Kh3 Qa1 74. Qd8+ Kh7 75. Qe7+ Kh6 76. Qe3+ Kh7 77. a7 1-0

Zhongyi Tan (CHN) 2522 – Wenjun Ju (CHN) 2571

FIDE Women’s World Championship 2018 round 05

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 a5 6. a4 Bb4+ 7. c3 Bd6 8. O-O O-O 9. exd5 cxd5 10. Na3 Nbd7 11. Re1 h6 12. Nb5 Bb8 13. d4 e4 14. Nd2 Nb6 15. f3 Re8 16. Bc2 Bd7 17. Rb1 exf3 18. Nxf3 Ne4 19. Ne5 Bxe5 20. dxe5 Bxb5 21. axb5 Rxe5 22. Be3 Re6 23. Bd4 Nc4 24. Bd3 Qg5 25. b3 Ncd6 26. Rb2 Rae8 27. Rbe2 Nf5 28. Bc2 Nh4 29. Qd3 Ng6 30. Be3 Qh5 31. c4 Ne5 32. Qd4 Rg6 33. Bxe4 dxe4 34. Kf1 Nf3 35. Qd7 Nxh2+ 0-1

Magnus Carlsen (2877) vs Fabiano Caruana (2801)

2nd Sinquefield Cup 2014
Saint Louis USA 08/29/2014
C24 Bishop’s opening, Berlin defense

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Nf3 d5 5. Bb3 Bb4+ 6. c3 Bd6 7. Bg5 dxe4 8. dxe4 h6 9. Bh4 Qe7 10. Nbd2 Nbd7 11. Bg3 Bc7 12. O-O Nh5 13. h3 Nxg3 14. fxg3 Nc5 15. Bxf7+ Kxf7 16. Nxe5+ Kg8 17. Ng6 Qg5 18. Rf8+ Kh7 19. Nxh8 Bg4 20. Qf1 Nd3 21. Qxd3 Rxf8 22. hxg4 Qxg4 23. Nf3 Qxg3 24. e5+ Kxh8 25. e6 Bb6+ 26. Kh1 Qg4 27. Qd6 Rd8 28. Qe5 Rd5 29. Qb8+ Kh7 30. e7 Qh5+ 31. Nh2 Rd1+ 32. Rxd1 Qxd1+ 33. Nf1 Qxf1+ 34. Kh2 Qg1+ 0-1

The High Planes Drifter

An excellent article, 1st Ron Finegold Memorial, by Davide Nastasio, appeared at the Chessbase website recently (https://en.chessbase.com/post/1st-ron-finegold-memorial).

5/7/2018 – “Open weekend tournaments in the United States are proof of chess as a very competitive high stakes sport. Local tournaments often celebrate the changing of seasons, recurring events, or, as in this case, memorialise (sic) a master player who dearly loved chess, and gifted such passion to his children. GM Elshan Moradiabadi took top honours (sic) in the inaugural Ron Finegold Memorial, held at the new Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta, which was founded by his son, Ben.”

Elshan Moradiabadi wins with 4½ out of 5

“From March 31st to April 1st, 2018 At the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta was held the Ron Finegold Memorial, a tournament with 4 sections and 92 players.

Ron Finegold (born in 1937), the father of GM Ben Finegold, was a National Master who died after a long illness on July 15th, 2014. His passion for chess brought him to teach the game to his children.”

“The Open weekend tournament in the USA is proof that chess is a sport. Five rounds in two days. On Saturday one can play for nine hours straight, for a total of three games, then follow on Sunday another six hours of playing. The last three hours are quite important because the last round is what divides the winner from the losers, those who will bring home the money from those who fought for nothing. The Open section of this tournament was particularly well stocked with two GMs, plus the US Women’s Champion of 2017, and a few national masters and candidate masters.”

Reading the above made me laugh. The ‘next generation’ considers the above playing schedule “grueling.” Back in the day we played five rounds over two days at a time control of 40 moves in two hours, followed by various time limits such as twenty moves in an hour, which became twenty moves in a half hour, followed by increasingly shorter time limits for the endgame. I won the Atlanta Chess Championship in 1976 at a time control of forty moves in two and one half hours, followed by twenty moves in one hour. Granted, there was only one game played at night for five weeks, but when we sat down it was known the game could possibly last well into the wee hours. During the 1980 US Open in Atlanta my opponent, Dauntless Don Mullis, finally resigned at three thirty the next morning. The game began at seven pm. And WE LIKED IT! My heart bleeds for these namby-pamby wussies…

The address given at the website of the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Atlanta is, 2500 Old Alabama Rd., Suite 11, Roswell, GA 30076. Roswell is not Atlanta. It is a city far to the north of Atlanta. In 2014 the estimated population was 94,089, making it Georgia’s seventh largest city (http://www.visitroswellga.com/). Maybe it should be called the Atlanta Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Roswell?

A game Ron Finegold

lost to Bobby Fischer

at the Western Open in Bay City accompanies the article. No date is given. The other game contained in the article is by LM David Vest, aka, the High Planes Drifter, whom I have known for almost four decades. We played many speed games over the years, with Mr. Vest usually besting me. One time the Drifter informed me he intended to sacrifice the exchange in every game, which is exactly what he did, as I lost again and again… David gave me a lesson never forgotten. I used that lesson in a telephone game with the legendary one, playing an exchange sacrifice that brought the house DOWN! I proudly showed the game to Vest, who smiled with approval.

David Vest


Scott Prichard playing against Carter Peatman | Photo: Davide Nastasio (Vest is shown in the background playing Harry Le)

is the only player to hold the title of both Georgia State Chess Champion, and Georgia Senior Champion. The man from the High Planes stopped drifting and settled down at the House of Pain. Frequently heard from the younger players were things like, “Vest got me again,” and “How come I can’t beat that old man?” They knew the Chess road led through Mr. Vest, and to best Vest was a sign that, as one young player succinctly put it, “Now I’m getting somewhere!”

Mr. Vest talks with a booming voice, which was often heard, to the detriment of the other players, when he was right outside the front door, directly below the window of the main playing room, smoking his ready-rolled cigarettes. David was known for his “A.O.” theories. That’s for “Atmospheric Occupation.” As far as he was concerned, the only hope for mankind was to get off of the planet. He could not understand why everyone did not agree with him. For some reason he thought he was the first to come up with the idea of moving off planet. He told of taking his theories to the US government, and his disappointment in being rejected…Voice booming and eyes blazing, Mr. Vest would rail against our government and threaten to take his ides to the “Communist Chinese.” One time a VietNam veteran, who had listened to some of a Vest tirade, entered the HOP saying, “That man ain’t right.” He got no argument. I attempted to council Mr. Vest about toning down his traitorously inflammatory harangues, but it fell on deaf ears…Another time one of the Chess fathers, after listening to a Vest diatribe, said, “There is a fine line between sanity and insanity, and that man is on it.”

As can be seen in the photograph, Mr. Vest has a large scar in the shape of a horseshoe underneath his right eye, which was obtained when he moved to Louisville and began a job working with horses, which he loved. The horse obviously did reciprocate. Dave was fortunate as a kick to the head from a horse can be fatal. One legendary Atlanta player informed me the Drifter told them he had experience with horses to obtain the job. “What he did not say was the experience came from wagering at the track!” he said while laughing uproariously. “What the hell does Dave know about horses other than the betting odds?” he added.

Mr. Vest’s rating plummeted as he continued to play Chess while pus oozed from his wound. His Master rating fell below 2100 and the word at the House was he would never be the same player. Mr. Vest proved them wrong when, after recovering, his rating steadily climbed to over 2200 once again, where it stayed for some time. After losing yet again to Vest one promising junior came down the stairs saying, “That man OWNS this place!”

Before leaving Atlanta and moving to the country the aforementioned legendary player informed me Mr. Vest was to be interviewed on an Atlanta radio station, WGST. “You’re kidding, right?” I asked. “I wish I were, but I’m not,” he said. “I just hope he don’t give Chess in Atlanta a bad name.” We listened with trepidation to the interview, with the legendary one muttering things like, “Lordy,” and “I hope he don’t mention Championship Chess.” When they went to a break I glanced over at the legendary one to see what can only be described as an ashen face. “I don’t know if I can take any more of this,” he said. He, and we, did. “Oh God,” the legendary one exclaimed at one point, “Chess in Atlanta will never be the same.” Having listened to Mr. Vest at length over the years I was grinning while enjoying the show. “You’ve gotta admit, it’s entertaining,” I stated. “Maybe in some kinda way in your warped brain, Bacon,” he said. “It’s sad Dave don’t know he’s making a fool of himself,” the legendary one said as he sat there shaking his head. “How did the drifter get on the show?” I asked. “He called in regularly,” was the reply.

By now you should understand why I decided to put Dave’s game through the clanking digital monsters at the ChessBase DataBase.

David Vest 2200 vs Harry Le 1971

1 c4 (David’s love of the English rivaled has that of LA Master Jerry Hanken, of whom Vest spoke highly) Nf6 2 Nc3 e5 3 Nf3 Nc6 4 e3 Be7 5 a3 (Komodo plays 5 Qb3) O-O 6 b4 (Stockfish plays either 6 d4 or Qb3) d6 (Stockfish plays either 6…d5, or 6…e4. Houey prefers d5)

7 d4 (This move cannot be found in the databases so must me a Theoretical Novelty. Unfortunately, it is not a good one. It is the way of Chess that the best move in the position on the previous move now becomes less than desirable.) exd4 8 exd4 Bg4 9 Be2 a6 10 h3 Bh5 11 Bf4 d5 12 g4 (I am not surprised Vest played this move, but a more circumspect move such as 12 0-0 may have been better. After 12…Bxf3 13 Bxf3 dxc4 white would have the possibility of completely ruining the black pawn structure with 14 Bxc6. There is also the possibility of playing 14 d5! Granted, black does not have to play to take the pawn, as after 12 0-0 he could play 12…Re8, for example) Bg6

Look at this position from white’s perspective and imagine your student sitting across from you. What move would you suggest, and why?

13 Ne5

After seeing this move one might question a student, offering 13 0-0 as an alternative. “Look kid,” one could begin, “You have followed the rules of the Royal game by developing your four minor pieces. You need only move your king to safety before developing your major pieces.”) dxc4

14 Nxg6 (I would be strongly tempted to play 14 Nxc6 bxc6 a5 Bxc4) hxg6 15. d5 Nb8!

(Shades of the man from the High Planes! Vest was famous for playing the Brooklyn variation of the Alekhine’s defense. An example:

IM Vinay Bhat (Earned GM title in 1997)

vs David Vest

1996 American Open

Los Angeles, California

B02 Alekhine’s defence, Brooklyn defence

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Ng8 3. d4 d5 4. exd6 cxd6 5. c4 e6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. Nc3 Be7 8. Be3 Nbd7 9. Nf3 b6 10. O-O Bb7 11. Bf4 O-O 12. Rc1 a6 13. h3 Qb8 14. Re1 Qa7 15.Qb3 Rac8 16. Na4 Rfd8 17. Bf1 h6 18. Be3 Bc6 19. Nc3 Ba8 20. Qa4 Bc6 21. Qb3 Ba8 22. Qa4 Qb7 23. b4 Nb8 24. a3 Rc7 25. Bf4 Qc8 26. Qb3 Bxf3 27. gxf3 Nc6 28.Be3 Rb7 29. f4 Rb8 30. d5 Na7 31. Na4 exd5 32. Nxb6 Qf5 33. Nxd5 Nxd5 34. cxd5 Rd7 35. Kh2 Nb5 36. Bd3 Qh5 37. Be2 Qh4 38. Qd3 Bf6 39. Rg1 Bb2 40. Rg4 Qe7 41.Rcg1 Qd8 42. Bd1 Rc7 43. Bc2 Kf8 44. Qh7 Nxa3 45. Rxg7 Bxg7 46. Rxg7 Nxc2 47.Qg8+ 1-0)

16 g5 (I would take the pawn with 16 Bxc4. The game move is more in keeping with the High Planes Drifter’s fast & loose, shoot from the hip style, but 16 Bxc4 is best) Ne8

I could not help but wonder what Mr. Vest was thinking about while looking at this position. Many years ago the Drifter said that after 1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nf8 he was “Sucking them into my vortex!” This position has Vest in the wrong plane! Now he is the one being sucking into a vortex…)

17 Qd2 (Now 17 Bxc4 is answered by 17…Bxg5) Bd6 18. Be3 Be5 (Black has driven white back and the bishop takes a dominating position. The amazing thing about the position is that black has only one piece off of the back rank but has the advantage)

19 f4 (Vest could take the pawn with 19 Bxc4, but Nd6 20 Be2 Re8 black has greatly improved his position ) Bxc3 20. Qxc3 Nd6

21 h4 (Having been outplayed Vest decides to thrust his sword, or fall on it…It was still possible to castle even though black could then play 21…b5, protecting the pawn. Still, after 23 Bf3 white would have the two bishops versus the two horses, which may have been why Vest pushed the pawn, come to think of it…You see, the Drifter LOVES the horses, so how could he possibly bet against them? I have often watched his play without Queens on the board, in which his knights shine) Re8

22 h5 Nf5 23 Bf2? (He had to try 23 Rh3 gxh5 24 Bxh5) Qxd5 24 Rh3 Qe4

25 Qb2? (Dave could have tried (25 O-O-O as 25… Qxe2 26 Re1 Qxf2 27. Rxe8+ Kh7 28. h6 Qf1+ 29. Kc2 Qg2+ 30. Kc1 Qf1+ only leads to a draw. 25…Nc6 is better, though…) gxh5 (25…Qg2! The remaining moves need no comment) 26 g6 fxg6 27 Kf1 Qxf4 28 Rf3 Qe4 29 Re1 Nc6 30 b5 Ne5 31 Rc3 Qh1+ 32 Bg1 Nd3 0-1

The High Plains Drifter was a strong Chess player; strong enough to beat many time US Women’s Champion Irina Krush

in the last round of one of the 2003 EMORY/CASTLE GRAND PRIX. The upset win translated into a first place tie with GM Julio Becerra.

The game was annotated by IM John Donaldson in the award winning Georgia Chess magazine. I will admit to being somewhat disappointed when the Drifter informed me he had “chickened out” when offering Irina a draw, which was declined.

I have met many Chess players during the course of my life. The mold was definitely broken after the Drifter came down from the High Planes. He often claimed to be “above you humans.” Fortunately, Chess kept him somewhat grounded…David Vest is definitely sui generis.