Techmate

An article, Tech mate? Top grandmaster claims chess is riddled with cheats using smartphones, By Leon Watson, appeared in The Telegraph 21 Mar 2015. It must have flown under the radar because it was not mentioned by other chess based websites. It now seems prescient because underneath the headline one reads, “Daniel Gormally suggests many chess players now disappear to the toilet with their smartphones during games to work out their next move.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11487515/Tech-mate-Top-grandmaster-claims-chess-is-riddled-with-cheats-using-smartphones.html)

“The genteel world of British chess has been rocked after a top grandmaster claimed the game of kings is riddled with cheats.”

Daniel Gormally, 38, suggested the game is facing an epidemic of people popping to the loo during competitions and using mobile phones to work out their next move.

Mobile apps such as Droidfish and Shredder have made it easy to play chess on the move and analyse complex positions with so-called “chess engines”.

But despite handsets being banned in most tournaments on the English circuit, Gormally said there is nothing to stop players hiding in cubicles with them.”

“Gormally, from Durham, said: “There’s a few players in English chess whose ‘improvement’ I’ve found a bit suspicious, to say the least. But I won’t name any names.

“The worrying thing is the amount of chess players who cheat at chess, a game with very little money in it.”

Gormally, ranked 13 by the English Chess Federation, went on to say he believes chess is no different to sports like cycling which have been embroiled major drug taking scandals.

“The problem is that computers are so powerful,” he added. “It’s just a shame because now when you see someone have a significant improvement you think ‘hang on, wait a minute’ and it shouldn’t be that way.

“Of course, you can’t prove it. If somebody wants to go to the toilet once or twice in a match you wouldn’t be suspicious, but they could easily look at their phone and gain a significant improvement.”

“I don’t think it happens at the top level because they would get found out. The top players have press conferences after their matches and have to explain all their moves. But its at the lower level where it is a problem.”

Until GM Gaioz Nigalidze was caught with his pants down and his engine up, this has been the accepted, conventional wisdom. The administrators of chess have tried to either ignore, or talk the problem to death. They failed, because it lives.

Who is Daniel Gormally? ” Gormally himself hit the headlines in 2006 – although for other reasons.

He was involved in a drunken punch-up in a nightclub after he saw a rival dancing with a female player, dubbed the “Anna Kournikova of chess”.

Gormally had struck up an email relationship with 19-year-old Aussie Arianne Caoili and was accused of hitting and shoving world number three Levon Aronian when he spotted the Armenian with her.

The day after the bust-up at a tournament in Turin, Italy, Gormally was attacked by fans of Aronian.”

That would not happen today because the best players are not old enough to drink an adult beverage.

“Telegraph chess correspondent Malcolm Pein, who runs the top level London Chess Classic tournament, said he is not aware of any allegations of cheating in the English game and the game is clamping down on the use of technology.

He added: “The chess community is very aware of the possibility of cheating and measures are being taken to prevent it.

“There are metal detectors now at some tournaments and all electronic devices are banned at most. At the London Chess Classic, which I run, the arbiters observe the audience to check for suspicious behaviour.

“Were there to be a drug invented that makes you better at chess, I would give it to my children and boost their exam results.”

Most parents would probably do the same thing with their children because they have done exactly that with all kind of psychotropic drugs without having any idea what effects the drugs will produce later in life. The next generation should be called the “guinea pig” generation. At least adult guinea pigs get paid. (http://www.gpgp.net/)

“The English Chess Federation’s chief executive Phil Ehr denied cheating is widespread in the game and said he is aware of only one English player in the past four years who was caught cheating with a mobile phone.”

This is typical of the F.I.P.s in control of chess today. They are in denial, and have been all of the early part of this century. During the broadcast of the last round of the US Open Championship, and the ancillary tournament reserved for women not strong enough to make the Open a film was played of GM Maurice Ashely interviewing Yuliya Levitan, a counselor on the FIDE anti-cheating commission. She was there to spout the party line while singing, “Everything is beautiful, in its own way”…and “Don’t worry/be happy.” The woman ran down a list of things FIDE is doing to thwart cheating, including “…players not having cellphones on them.”

The latest gizmo wizard, who will forever be known as the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, did not have a gizmo on him. He beat FIDE by leaving it in the toilet, which is where some say FIDE is headed. Yuliya mentioned something about “…keeping fans separate.” Maybe that should apply to a manager like Silvio Danilov.

She mentioned something about cameras, which made me think of the old TV show, Candid Camera, as in, “Smile, you’re on candid camera! Euuww, what ARE you doing?” FIDE will go ANYWHERE to prevent cheating! Anywhere but Russia, where in a tournament like Aeroflot, players conspire to draw games in the opening and, who knows, maybe even throw games, as happened between the nefarious Russians in the last round of the recent 2015 European Championship. She also mentioned “metal detectors,” and one could not help but notice the security guard behind Maurice holding, you guessed it, a metal detector.

Ms. Levitan also mentioned something about “…investigations going on. I cannot comment on those.” Too bad someone is not investigating FIDE…

The interview comes at the 3:06 mark and you can watch it, which is exactly what I did again. I wanted to make sure I quoted the woman correctly. She said, “Once again, more concern for the open tournaments. It does not happen often in professional chess…it does happen on higher level, but usually it happens on lower levels.”

Until the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, this has been the “party-line.” The cat is now out of the bag, or should I say the genie is out of the bottle. Every result the “Dubai Cheater” has ever had is now suspect. Actually, one could drop the “Dubai Cheater” and just say that every FIDE result is suspect.

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Tony Rich is The Arbiter

Tony Rich is the Chief Arbiter of the 2015 US Championships. Wesley So was until this tournament, one of the top ten highest rated chess players in the world. Mr. Rich had previously warned Mr. So about taking notes during the game, which is a violation of the rules of FIDE, the governing body of world chess. During the game between Wesley So and Varuzhan Akobian in today’s ninth round the latter brought it to the attention of the Chief Arbiter that Mr. So was violating the rules of chess. The Chief Arbiter, Tony Rich, then forfeited Wesley So.

As I watched the live coverage today my thoughts drifted back to last decade when I, too, had to go into the back room with of the St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center with the arbiter during a tournament. Fortunately I was not the one forfeited. Until today the incident in which I was involved at the relatively new St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center with a young boys father in which the latter told his son to violate a rule by continuing to look at the chessboard on his Monroi gizmo in lieu of the actual chessboard, even though the father had promised to not advise his son to do so, was the most egregious incident to ever occur at the Scholastic Center and Chess Club. The incident is still brought up and discussed. Thanks to Wesley So, it may well forgotten.

The Future of Chess

“The phrase, “All politics is local” is a common phrase in U.S. politics. The former Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill is most closely associated with this phrase, which encapsulates the principle that a politician’s success is directly tied to the person’s ability to understand and influence the issues of their constituents.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_politics_is_local)

The world of chess is beset with myriad problems. For example, consider something recently written by GM Kevin Spraggett on his blog, Spraggett on Chess:

RIP: Canadian Open Championship (1956-2014)

“For my readers (Canadian and international) who were wondering about the 2015 edition of Canada’s most PRESTIGIOUS tournament, I have sad news. Not only has the 2015 Canadian Open been cancelled, but it is unlikely to be resurrected in coming years. The present mind-set of the CFC executive is to concentrate on junior chess and slowly (quickly!) phase out adult chess.

The writing was on the wall for some time now, but few wanted to believe it. Despite a well documented decline in adult membership in the CFC since 2007, and calls to organize a membership drive to remedy the situation, the CFC refused to act. Adult membership levels are now 50% of normal levels. All funding of adult-programs have been eliminated.”

Grant Oen is a junior at Emory University, Grant is a 2-time GA Collegiate Chess Champion, 2-time NJ Grade Level Chess Champion, manager of the 2014 Atlanta Kings Team, and current Emory Chess Club President. He is one of the people who are the future of chess, and the future is NOW! I have come to admire and respect Grant because he is GREAT for chess in my home state.

I received an email from Mr. Oen a short time ago, and after reading it, sent an email asking for permission to post it on the blog, which was granted. Although it may be true that “all politics is local,” what happens in my home state of Georgia, just as what happens in our wonderful neighbor to the north, Canada, affects the Royal game in the WORLD. It is not just the worldwide governing body of chess, FIDE, that impacts chess, fortunately. Chess stays viable because of the efforts of those in, for example, New Zealand, even though you may not here of what is going on with chess there, unless you make an effort do so. When the chess lights go out, for whatever reason, in any town, city, state, or nation, it has a negative impact on the game of chess. I urge you to read what Grant has to say, and to forward it to anyone and everyone, and ask them to do the same. “In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.”
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect)
I believe there is a “butterfly effect.” I also believe that “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” What has happened to chess in my home state of Georgia is tragic. I can only hope that you who read this learn from the recent mistakes made here and do not let it happen in your part of the chess world.

“Good evening,

First, I’d like to thank many of you for supporting Southeast Chess in its first year of tournaments. Since our first event in March 2014, we have run over 25 events, attracting 250+ unique players from 15 states. Despite being a small operation, we have offered large open tournaments, scholastics, invitationals, Grand Prix, blitz, and action tournaments which have become a staple in the chess landscape in Georgia, and will continue to do so going forward.

Southeast Chess recognizes the following players for participating in 6 or more of our events in our first year:

Shanmukha Meruga – 22 tournaments
Grant Oen – 21
Frank Johnson – 16
Kapish Potula – 10
Amaan Pirani – 8
Sijing Wu – 8
Saithanusri Avirneni – 7
William Remick – 6
Phillip Taylor – 6
Rochelle Wu – 6

I would also like to express my personal opinions on the upcoming GCA election. The following positions are up for election at this year’s State Championship:

President: Fun Fong (incumbent), Frank Johnson
Secretary: Herky del Mundo, Greg Maness
2nd Member at Large: Steve Schneider, Ashley Thomas

The remaining board positions, not up for election this year, are filled by Vice Presidents Ben Johnson and Katie Hartley, Treasurer Amrita Kumar, and 1st Member at Large Laura Doman.

I will be voting the following ticket – President: Frank Johnson, Secretary: Herky del Mundo, 2nd Member at Large: Ashley Thomas. To have a positive say in the future of the GCA landscape, I strongly encourage you to do the same.

The GCA is in a long period of deterioration under the current administration. While scholastics have shown relative success in recent years, the GCA’s organization of open tournaments has proven to be a terrible insult to our royal game. The lethargic, unorganized, and indecisive “organization” under President Fong has devastated the hundreds of chess players in Georgia. Developing youngsters and seasoned masters alike have not been shown any respect as players by the GCA.

Fun Fong, additionally, has not fulfilled his designated role as GCA President. Supposedly, the responsibilities undertaken by his office are to support chess in Georgia through and through. However, Fun has shown a clear conflict of interest in only supporting the GCA’s events, and not providing any measure of support to the rest of the community.

For example, when former Emory Chess Club President Jeff Domozick and I were developing the idea for Southeast Chess to fill a meaningful gap in Georgia, we approached Fun to hear his thoughts and potential improvements on our business plans. His response could not have been more negative – he was critical of our idea, and warned us of the dangers and difficulties of running tournaments, strongly suggesting us to abandon the venture.

Of course, we were persistent, and although Jeff graduated Emory in Spring 2014, I have continued the Southeast Chess enterprise and hope that many of you would agree that it is a professionally-run and successful tournament business. Similar stories regarding Fun have been echoed by American Chess Promotions owner Thad Rogers and North Georgia Chess owner Kevin Schmuggerow, both of whom I greatly respect for their pursuits as chess organizers.

Throughout his tenure as GCA President, Fun has shown a clear preference for having all chess activities remain under the flailing umbrella of the GCA, and shuns all other ventures. Throughout Southeast Chess’ infancy, Fun was loathe to extend us help of any kind, threatening us not to use any TDs under the GCA’s umbrella. The President of the GCA should simply support all chess events in Georgia. Fun’s unprofessional behavior overall has led to many resignations on the GCA board and its subcommittees. Support for Fong among the rank and file in Georgia chess has been all but diminished.

Of course, there are many other reasons for which I could criticize the incumbent candidate (print magazine extinct, abuse of power, no support for players, school programs, or organizers), but I am of course also obligated to mention why I am voting for Frank Johnson.

Frank has significant chess experience in all capacities. He is an avid player, organizer, director, project manager, coach, parent, former GCA secretary, and overall chess supporter. He supports tournaments all across the state and country, and organizes and directs his own events under the popular Chess-coach.net label. He has years of experience and knowledge in working with developing chess communities, and has sponsored hundreds of local formal and informal chess meetups in the greater Atlanta area, including Atlanta Chess Mess.

As a personal aside, Frank proved essential in helping Southeast Chess get off the ground by providing critical organizational advice, helping to market the events, and playing in them himself. He served in an important management position in the Atlanta Kings chess team, a co-venture between my friend Thad Rogers and I.

Frank has shown significant expertise in all arenas of Georgia chess. Most importantly, he in unbiased in his vision to move the chess community forward. Right now there is a disconnect between players, organizers, and the GCA. Frank has essential plans in place for removing this disconnect for the benefit of all parties. He is a true chess professional who, as President, will develop the GCA into the association it should be. If you have questions or comments for Frank, he is always available at frankjohnson@chess-coach.net.

For the office of secretary, I support Herky del Mundo, organizer of the Atlanta Chess Club, active tournament player, director, and supporter. Herky has been influential in the outreach to GM Mark Paragua for the annual state championship. For the 2nd Member at Large position, I support Ashley Thomas, a long-time chess parent and player.

The election is open to current GCA members 18 years or older who have paid the $15 annual dues in the last year. A current membership is also required for Georgia players in play in the State Championship. The election will be held on Sunday, April 26 at 2:30pm, between rounds 4 and 5 of the Georgia State Championship in the Hotel Wyndham Hotel Galleria. If you are interested in voting but will not attend the state championship, email secretary@georgiachess.org to request an absentee ballot by 4/12, and have it returned to the secretary by the beginning of the tournament on 4/24.

Please remember to vote, as each eligible member can have a meaningful say towards change in the future of Georgia Chess.

Thank you.”

Grant

Pentagon Study Claims Putin Has Asperger’s Syndrome

“A study from a Pentagon think tank theorizes that Russian President Vladimir Putin has Asperger’s syndrome, “an autistic disorder which affects all of his decisions,” according to the 2008 report obtained by USA TODAY.” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/04/putin-aspergers-syndrome-study-pentagon/22855927/)

I write this because Vladimir Putin is the power behind the world chess organization, FIDE. Kirsan ET Illuminatus is only a titular figurehead.

I know something about the effects of Asperger’s syndrome because a friend, also a chess player “back in the day,” was diagnosed with it. Upon first reading about Asperger’s I got in touch with my friend because what I read described him. He informed me he felt the same, and scientist’s wanted to study him as he was considered the quintessential exemplar of the disorder. He did not wish to be studied then, but came to regret his decision later. As he described it at that time, Asperger’s syndrome is basically a high functioning autistic person. Much more is known about the disorder now.

“Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome)

I could have used WebMD.com (http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/mental-health-aspergers-syndrome) but decided to use Wiki because my friend loathed Wikipedia, much preferring Encyclopaedia Britannica. I brought to his attention an article reporting on a comparison of Wiki with EB in which the number of mistakes found was about the same. He simply refused to believe it. New ways often come hard to those who are fortunate enough to grow old(er).

“The diagnosis of Asperger’s was eliminated in the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and replaced by a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder on a severity scale.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome)

When this was first proposed it caused my friend much consternation. As is the case with many people with Asperger syndrome my friend also suffered with clinical depression. From what I have read about Bobby Fischer his inherited mental illness grew worse as he aged, just as it had with his real father, Dr. Paul Nemenyi. The same happened to my friend. Having known him as an intelligent and vibrant man when younger, with not one, but two PhDs, it was difficult to see him deteriorate before my eyes. Even though other people in the chess community counseled me to be extremely careful about being around someone who is severely depressed because of the fear it could have a deleterious effect upon me, I ignored their advice because he was my friend and had asked for my help.

His depression grew to the point the only thing that would help was extremely strong drugs. They would help for a short while until toxic levels would build in his blood and the doctors would be forced to stop drug treatment altogether, with my friend begging them to please continue. The doctors would then find some new drug and the cycle would repeat. My friend lived in fear of reaching a point when there would be no new drug to try.

It was at this point that my friend was offered a new experimental therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Polarization Therapy. He was happy at the prospect of being cured of his malady, as happy as a person suffering from clinical depression can be, I suppose. Since he was no longer capable of digesting what he read I was asked to do the research. He waited patiently as I read everything on the subject. He was crestfallen when I tendered my report. The statistics promulgated by those doing the zappin’ were not as good as promised. I found that for some of those counted as being helped by the zappin’ the effect did not last. After all those hours reading studies I concluded his chances of success were less than fifty percent. I also found it strange that it was difficult to ascertain the negative effects of the zappin’. Nevertheless, my friend decided upon the procedure, as if there had been any question he would not, because when a drowning man is thrown a life vest he will grasp it, and hold on for dear life.

I drove my friend to and from the procedure for weeks. It was obvious there were no positive results, which caused him to go even deeper into his depression. It seemed to me what he was undergoing only tended to exacerbate an already tenuous situation. The scientists decided to ramp up the juice and when that did not show positive results they jolted him with even more juice until a threshold was crossed and my friend was in uncharted territory where no man had gone before. They finally stopped, having to admit the treatment was a failure, something they were extremely reluctant to do because there is big money involved. Later there was a question about whether the insurance company would pay for the treatment. My friend had been so desperate he had paid some money out of pocket, expecting the insurance company to reimburse him, and so had the company. There was a lawsuit and the company won, and my friend was sent a rather large check in the mail.

I mention this because I know from personal experience just how dangerous a man is Vladimir Putin. When Richard Nixon found himself cornered during Watergate, he was found wandering around the White House talking to pictures of those who had previously held the office of POTUS. Putin’s wife divorced him recently and the walls around him are closing in. He is like the rat he cornered as a young boy. His mind is deteriorating rapidly, and he has his finger on the nuclear trigger. “The world is “3 minutes” from doomsday. That’s the grim outlook from board members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.”

With what I have learned about those with Asperger syndrome and depression, I would say the clock should be something like 30 seconds from midnight.

Russian President Vladimir Putin Accused of Murder

There is an article by Jane Croft on the Financial Times website, dated Jan. 27, 2015, “Putin accused of presiding over ‘mafia state’ at Litvinenko probe.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin was on Tuesday accused at the opening of an inquiry into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko of presiding over a “mafia state” with links to organised crime syndicates in Spain.”

This man, RasPutin, is the power behind the world chess federation known as FIDE. This is also the man seen hobnobbing with the chess elite, including the World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and the man he vanquished for the title, Viswanathan Anand. (http://www.sochi2014.fide.com/closing-ceremony) Is it any wonder the public has tuned out the Royal game?

_MG_0601

The article continues, “Ben Emmerson QC, representing Litvinenko’s widow Marina at the public inquiry, claimed that the evidence for Litvinenko’s “horrifying assassination” by a radioactive isotope “all points in one direction” and was only likely to have happened “on the order of very senior officials in the Russian state”.

In a hard hitting speech, Mr Emmerson claimed that Litvinenko was killed “partly as an act of political revenge for speaking out, partly?.?.?.?as a message of lethal deterrence to others and partly to prevent him giving evidence in a criminal prosecution in Spain that could have exposed Putin’s direct link to an organised criminal syndicate in that country”.

Mr Emmerson claimed that the events showed the “unlawfulness and criminality at the very heart of the Russian state”.

“The intimate relationship that will be shown to exist between the Kremlin and Russian organised crime syndicates are so close as to make the two effectively indistinguishable,” Mr Emmerson claimed.

“The startling truth, which is going to be revealed in public by the evidence in this inquiry, is that a significant part of the Russian organised crime around the world is organised directly from the office of the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a mafia state,” Mr Emmerson alleged to the inquiry.

Mr Emmerson added that Litvinenko had been a “marked man” since giving a press conference in Moscow alleging national security service FSB corruption and Mr Putin was a “ruthless and deadly enemy” to Litvinenko, Mr Emmerson claimed.

“The evidence all points one way,” Mr Emmerson said claiming that the two main suspects implicated in the poisoning had “links to Putin’s inner circle”.

Mr Emmerson said he believed the inquiry would show not just a trail of polonium from London to Moscow but a trail leading “directly to the door of Putin’s office” and Mr Putin would be “unmasked” by the inquiry “as a common criminal dressed up as a head of state.”

The former Russian spy, who died after ingesting radioactive polonium 210, may have been poisoned “not once but twice”, the inquiry into his death was told.

Sir Robert Owen, chairman of the public inquiry, said the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death brought in to focus issues of the “utmost gravity”, which had attracted “worldwide interest and concern”.

The inquiry, which is due to last for 10 weeks, will look at the circumstances around the death of Litvinenko who was allegedly poisoned as he sipped green tea at Mayfair’s Millennium Hotel in November 2006.

The death of Litvinenko sent relations between the UK and Russia to a post-cold war low, with diplomats expelled by both sides.

Russia has long denied claims, attributed to Litvinenko on his deathbed and repeated by his friends and family, that Moscow ordered his death after the Kremlin critic was granted asylum in the UK.

UK prosecutors had accused two Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun of the murder. They have strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Russia has refused to extradite them under the terms of its constitution.

Robin Tam QC, counsel to the public inquiry, told the hearing that scientific evidence will be presented to the inquiry that appeared to show that Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium “not once but twice”.

As well as a November 2006 meeting at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel, the hearing was told an earlier poisoning attempt may have been made at a meeting weeks earlier.

Samples from Litvinenko’s hair show that he may have been poisoned twice with the first attempt much less successful, Mr Tam told the hearing.

Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun were present at two meetings with Mr Litvinenko — including at the Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Litvinenko, who converted to Islam before he died, claimed to police on his deathbed that he believed he had been targeted by the Russian security services on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to details of his police interview conducted just before he died and read out to the hearing.” (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/998d690c-a62c-11e4-9bd3-00144feab7de.html)

An article, “What’s Been the Effect of Western Sanctions on Russia?” appeared on the PBS website as a companion piece to the hard hitting documentary, “Putin’s Way.”

“When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last March, the United States and European Union responded with an economic weapon — sanctions.

The first few rounds, applied in March and April of 2014, targeted Russian and Crimean officials, as well as businessmen seen to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin — his “inner circle” — with travel bans and asset freezes.

Since then, the West has steadily expanded its sanctions against Russian entities, targeting major businesses and parts of Russia’s financial, energy and military industries.

FRONTLINE talked to Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, on Jan. 8, 2015 about the effects and consequences of Western sanctions on the Russian economy. Åslund served as an economic adviser to the Russian and Ukrainian governments in the 1990s.
Which round of sanctions do you think really had an effect on the Russian economy? How would you measure that?

The sanctions the U.S. imposed came in two big chunks. The first concerned Crimea, and they were only personal sanctions for Crimean and Russian leaders involved in the Crimean drama.

Then, the important sanctions were imposed on July 16, which are called sectoral sanctions.

We can see that no money has been going into Russia after July. No financial institutions dared to provide Russia with any financing more than a month after that. And that we know from talking to banks. …

The point is that the [July] financial sanctions have worked out as far more severe in their effect than anyone seems to have believed.
Would sanctions alone have damaged Russia’s economy without the current plunging oil prices?

There are three major causes for Russia’s economic troubles. The first cause is the corruption and bad economic policies that Putin pursues, which on their own would lead to stagnation, or at most 1 percent growth.

The second element is the falling oil prices. The oil prices have now fallen so much that Russia’s total export revenues this year will be two-thirds of what they have been before. That means that Russia will have to cut its imports by half. This is a big blow.

This is then reinforced by the financial sanctions, so that Russia cannot mitigate this blow by borrowing money. By ordinary standards, Russia is perfectly credit-worthy with a public debt that is only 10 percent of GDP. But if you don’t have access to financial markets, then it doesn’t matter how credit-worthy you are, because you’re not credit-worthy so-to-say.

[Editor’s Note: On Jan. 9, Fitch Ratings cut Russia’s credit rating to BBB-, one step above junk.]”
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/putins-way/whats-been-the-effect-of-western-sanctions-on-russia/

Vladimir RasPutin has become a pariah. The world will watch as he is consigned to oblivion because he, and his friends, like FIDE President Kirsan the ET, is on his way off of the world stage. He is learning first hand something a fellow Georgian, Martin Luther King Jr., said decades ago. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Garry Kasparov must be following these events closely. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “For the loser now will be later to win/
For the times they are a-changin’.

A Declaration Of Independence

I have recently come under fire by some readers who have criticized me for, well, being critical. This amazes me because in every other facet of life those in power and control receive criticism. The POTUS has always received criticism, and as long as We The People have the right granted to US under the Constitution to freely express our thoughts, he always will be criticized. Before the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season new rules were instituted. Two were so laughable, and caused so many problems, it made many wonder about the sanity of those who promulgated said rules. The outcry was so loud that MLB officials were forced to listen, and later changed the new rules during the season, which was unprecedented. The rules would still be in place if not for those who questioned, and criticized, the ridiculous rules.

As the story goes, when a very young boy I filled a pot with water, climbed up onto a chair, placed the pot on the stove, and fired it up. When my mother entered the kitchen she asked what I was doing. “Watching the water boil,” I answered. “And why are you watching the water boil, Michael?”
“Because Aunt Lea said a ‘Watched pot never boils.’ She was wrong.”

Another story told is that my father and his mother were in the car with me in the backseat. I kept asking questions, which was frustrating for my father, who told me to “Shut up.” When questioned about his response my father told his mother, “The boy asks too many questions.” She castigated him for it, saying, “How else is he going to learn?”

It has been my experience that people, especially those in power, do not like to be questioned. The man known for his “plain speaking,” Harry Truman, said, “When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.” Harry said this because he could not always get his way because there were others in government who opposed some of his ideas.

Several people who have criticized me for questioning the status quo have also criticized me for not offering any alternatives or solutions. I am flummoxed by this because one can find many examples of alternatives and solutions in this blog, and also in my previous BaconLOG. It makes me wonder if they read anything other than what they criticize.

In regard to the odious practice of offering a draw I have suggested awarding more points for a draw, or a win, with Black. I have suggested changing the rules of chess so that after White makes his first move Black can then make two moves, as long as they are not with the same piece, or pawn. I have also suggested pawns be allowed to “retreat to the rear” by being allowed to move backward.

I have suggested a program for the USCF to “Bring ‘Em Back,” whereby those in power put some money into a program to bring back adults who have left the Royal game. I have also suggested USCF do something, anything, for Senior chess, to no avail. The price for an adult membership is $46. A Senior receives a $6 break, having to pay “only” $40. Contrast this with a membership in SABR, the Society for Baseball Research, which is $65 for a regular membership, but only $45 for a Senior membership. The cost of a USCF membership is lower for younger members and the younger the age, the lower the price of membership. This tells you exactly what kind of member is wanted by those in charge of the USCF. The motto of the USCF used to be, “Chess is a lifetime sport.” Now those in power have something called a “vision statement,” which is, “Our vision is to enrich the lives of all persons and communities through increasing the play, study, and appreciation of the game of chess.” All, that is, except Seniors.

There is no doubt about where the money is in chess; it is in children’s chess. If anyone questions this just ask those triple digit rated “players” who cannot differentiate between checkmate and stalemate who are making money hand over fist by selling parents a pig in a poke for their children.

For the problem of the criminal element in power and control of FIDE I have suggested getting rid of Kirsan the ET, and the power behind his throne, Rootin’ Tootin’ Ras Pootin’, by having the ET’s with whom Kirsan has traveled the galaxy place both of them on a spaceship and send them across the universe. There have long been rumors of an exchange program between ETs and humans. (http://www.serpo.org/release32.php) I advocate another exchange program with the aforementioned tag-team duo being the first to board the alien space craft.

There are many who tout, and spout, the party line, whether they believe it or not, and they can be found currying favor and sucking up to the fools in power, brown nosing it all the way to the bank. I am not one of those people. If that is what you want this is not the blog for you. “Don’t worry, be happy,” and “Everything is beautiful in its own way” type blogs proliferate, as do “yes men,” and yes, women. Society is not advanced by those who never question, but only accept what what they are told.

You can find the lyrics to this song, which include this, “Oh yes, there’s those who only criticise yet offer nothing new, solutions? Ideas?
No, just rake up shit what a clever thing to do,” here: http://www.lyricsmania.com/a_declaration_of_independence_lyrics_conflict.html

“And We Will Have Discipline”

The best chess magazine on the planet, New In Chess, has a regular feature, “Just Checking,” in which questions are posed to famous players of the Royal game. One of the questions that has been posed most often is, “What is the stupidest rule in chess?” The answer given most is, “The zero-tolerance rule.” It is more than a little obvious most players do not care for the FIDE’s draconian rule. Peter Heine Nielsen, Boris Avrukh, Daniel King, and Ivan Saric, all GM’s answered the question posed with the zero-tolerance rule, with the latter going on to add in NIC 2014/2, “In the whole history of chess (and also sport) there hasn’t been such a stupid rule. It puts huge pressure on the players before the game. This was the easiest question.”
Since there is almost universal agreement among the best human players in the world it would seem those who promulgated the rule would have rescinded it long ago. To understand why they have not done so is to understand what kind of people are those who administer FIDE. They obviously know how the players feel but obviously could care less. These despotic dictators simply do not care what their “subjects” think about the rule. These are people who insist on imposing their will on chess players because they understand they are much inferior compared to the great players. Draconian dictators do not listen to their subjects because they expect their inferiors to listen, and obey, them. They expect this no matter how much it hurts the Royal game because they could care less about the game of chess. These despots care only about ruling the game.
The players should get together and organize just as the Major League Baseball players did decades ago. I have no idea why they have not done so, but it could be because they compete it is difficult for them to agree. Yet they seem to be in total agreement about the zero-tolerance rule. What top level chess needs is a man like Marvin Miller, who was head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982. “He was responsible for negotiation baseball’s first collective bargaining agreement in 1968, which included the first rise in the minimum salary in a decade; salaries would rise exponentially during his tenure, reflecting growing revenues. He was a key figure in the development of free agency, and he led the players through strikes in 1972, 1980 and 1981, and lockouts decreed by the owners in 1973 and 1976. Hank Aaron said he was “as important to the history of baseball as Jackie Robinson.” Red Barber called him one of three most important figures in baseball history, alongside Robinson and Babe Ruth.” (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Marvin_Miller)

In an article, “King talks with Kirsan,” on the Chessbase website, dated 8/11/2014, GM Daniel King asked Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the mediocre player and FIDE dictator, who said he has traveled the universe in an Extraterrestrial spaceship piloted by otherworldly entities, “There is one FIDE rule that many many chess players are unhappy with, which is the zero tolerance rule. For example, there was a young girl here, a ten-year-old girl here, who unfortunately came two minutes late to the game and she lost. It seems very harsh. Would you consider reviewing this rule?”

Kirsan the ET answered, “We have a technical commission consisting of chess players and arbiters and I remember in Dresden in 2008 at the General Assembly, we decided that everyone should be on time. You remember the football match between Brazil and Germany? Can you imagine if both teams arrived five minutes late?”

GM Daniel King: “Of course, but chess isn’t football. This girl was young and innocent and was very very upset. There are many other incidents where a player has arrived a little late just by accident and this seems very harsh.”

Kirsan the ET: “Ok, write your proposal and we will discuss it at the presidential meeting. However, the Chief Arbiter (of the Olympiad) came to me five minutes ago and said, “Mr. President, it’s very good, no one is late. At 2 PM they start.” For me it’s not a problem because this was decided by the majority. I remember in 1998, when I organized the World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Anatoly Karpov in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the presence of the president of the Olympic Committee, in the Olympic Museum, with dozens of cameras, many journalists, the mayor of Lausanne, some high officials of the Swiss government, hundreds of spectators. At 3 PM, Vishy Anand was there sitting, but not Anatoly Karpov. We waited 10-15 minutes, and the president of the Olympic Committee turned to me and asked how I could expect to join the Olympic games in such circumstances.”

GM Daniel King: “I understand completely for professional chess, but it seems to me there is a big difference between professional chess and amateur chess.”

Kirsan the ET: “There is no professional chess and non-professional chess, there is only chess. And we will have discipline.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/king-talks-with-kirsan)

The added remark, “And we will have discipline,” sounds like something one might hear from a grammar school principal, or a despotic dictator. For chess to survive as a viable game Kirsan the ET has got to go back to the stars, along with his benefactor and power behind the scenes, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.