Honor The Intent

It has been my policy to approve all comments left by readers, especially if signed by the respondent, with only a few exceptions. It bothers me not if I am criticized because one of the things that sets our country apart is freedom of the press. I have even printed comments left by people using a nom de plume. However, there is a line and I do enforce the line from time to time.

A scathing comment was left recently by someone disgruntled because of what had been written in the post, Chess Segregation. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/chess-segregation/) The writer was obviously “ticked off” by, “There are more women and girls involved with Chess than ever before and it started with the so-called “youth movement,” which began when money earmarked for Master Chess was, shall we say to be kind, diverted to children’s Chess.”

Among the many things I was called during the diatribe was “liar.”

I am sixty nine years of age and will be the first to admit my memory is not what it used to be. Still, having participated in brain and memory studies at Emory, Georgia Tech and the Veteran’s Administration (the results of which were to be used to help veterans who had served our country), I am thankful for how much better off than others even younger than am I. That said, I will admit to having an occasional “Senior moment” which is exacerbated by fatigue.

After receiving the salvo comment I racked my brain in an attempt to recall what and where I had read concerning the diversion of funds. I seemed to recall something former POTUSCF Don Schultz had written in a Chess Life magazine, thinking it was a letter to the editor, but I could be mistaken. I went to the internet in an attempt to locate anything about the matter. What you are about to read is the only thing I managed to locate. If anyone can shed any more light on the subject please leave a comment.

Honor the Intent

by Don Schultz

During the 1990s the direction of the American Chess Foundation changed from sponsoring a wide variety of chess projects to almost exclusively promoting their highly successful New York City inner city school programs. In order to emphasize this redirection, the American Chess Foundation changed their name to Chess-in-the-Schools. Although their inner school programs continue to be enormously successful, part of the funding of these programs comes from income from donations of patrons who intended other uses for their contributions.
Case in point, when former USCF President Fred Cramer died in April 1989 he bequeathed a quarter of a million dollars to the ACF. Throughout his life, Cramer was an avid advocate for better communication and improved chess journalism, particularly at the state level. In order to partially satisfy Cramer’s wishes, Fan Adams, then President of the ACF, used a portion of the income from the Cramer bequest to sponsor the Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism. Unfortunately Chess-in-the-Schools has now cancelled their financial support of the Cramer Awards Program. They did this so they can redirect all of the income from the Cramer bequest to support their NYC inner city school programs.
The Cramer Awards for Excellence in Chess Journalism are not the only victim of the Chess-in-the-Schools new policy. An example is the income from over a million dollars of Thomas Emery donations. Emery was a close friend of many of our finest players, including Frank Marshall and Al Horowitz. He helped support master chess. He also was a member of the Marine Corps during World War I and as a result had an enduring interest in armed forces chess. He sponsored the first Armed Forces Championship in 1960, and continued to sponsor it during his lifetime. He had every expectation that income from his donations would continue to be used for master and armed forces chess promotions. But it is not. All of it is now being used for the Chess-in-the Schools New York City inner city school programs.
Chess-in-the-Schools does continue to support a few projects unrelated to their inner school programs. These include the Denker High School Invitational and the Paul Albert Awards. But the patrons for these projects are still living and members of their Board.
However invaluable the Chess-in-the-School programs are, income from bequests and contributions such as those from Cramer and Emery should be used to pay for the intended programs of the patron. If you agree with this assessment, please express your feelings to Members of the Board, Chess-in-the-Schools, 353 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036, tel. 212 643-0225, fax 212 757-7704.


Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Joe South

[Verse 1]
If I could be you
And you could be me
For just one hour
If we could find a way
To get inside
Each other’s mind, mmm
If you could see you
Through my eyes
Instead of your ego
I believe you’d be
Surprised to see
That you’d been blind, mmm

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

[Verse 2]
Now your whole world
You see around you
Is just a reflection
And the law of karma
Says you’re gonna reap
Just what you sow, yes you will
So unless
You’ve lived a life of total perfection
You’d better be careful of every stone
That you should throw, yeah

[Verse 3]
And yet we spend the day
Throwing stones
At one another
‘Cause I don’t think
Or wear my hair
The same way you do, mmm
Well I may be
Common people
But I’m your brother
And when you strike out
And try to hurt me
It’s a hurtin’ you, lord have mercy

Walk a mile in my shoes
Walk a mile in my shoes
Hey, before you abuse, criticize and accuse
Walk a mile in my shoes

[Verse 4]
There are people
On reservations
And out in the ghettos
And brother there
But for the grace of God
Go you and I, yeah, yeah
If I only
Had the wings
Of a little angel
Don’t you know I’d fly
To the top of the mountain
And then I’d cry


Upset in Sautron

The games from the National Open were being broadcast by a website new to me, FollowChess (http://followchess.com/news/). Further exploration brought a page of upsets, nothing but upsets (http://followchess.com/share/). Everyone loves an upset, unless they are the one being upset! The first entry is:

Upset in Sautron: Flachet 2025 beat Sergeev 2417. Attack & Tactics!
October 27, 2017

The game is, according to 365Chess, a C00 French, Chigorin variation! What are the odds?! If you are a regular of this blog you KNOW I was compelled to play over the game…

Vladimir Sergeev (2417) vs Thierry Flachet (2025)

17e open international de Sautron, 2017.10.26

1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Be7 (Stockfish at the ChessBaseDataBase gives this as best. Komodo prefers 2…c5, which is the move chosen by Siegbert Tarrasch

in the second game of the 1893 match with Mikhail Chigorin,

still the most outstanding Chess match ever contested. Seven times Chigorin played 2 Qe2 against his opponent’s French defense. If you have not played over the match I urge you do do so. It can be found at a fantastic historical website, chessgames.com (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=85135)

Here is a game played by Chigorin and the man who lost the US Chess Championship to Frank Marshall,

Jackson Whipps Showalter,

on June 13, 1899 in London. Chigorin pulled a rabbit out of his hat when playing his third move, a move that cannot be found at the CBDB!

Mikhail Chigorin vs Jackson Whipps Showalter

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Qg4 Nf6 4. Qxg7 Rg8 5. Qh6 Nc6 6. Nf3 Rg6 7. Qe3 d5 8. e5 d4 9. Qb3 Nd7 10. Bb5 Nc5 11. Qc4 Rxg2 12. b4 Nd7 13. Bxc6 bxc6 14. Qxd4 Rb8 15. Ba3 a5 16. bxa5 Rxb1+ 17. Rxb1 Bxa3 18. Qa4 Bc5 19. Qxc6 Kf8 20. d4 Be7 21. a6 Bxa6 22. Qxa6 Nb6 23. Qb7 Kg7 24. Kf1 Rg6 25. Rg1 Nd5 26. Rxg6+ hxg6 27. c4 Nf4 28. Qb8 Qd7 29. Qa8 Bf8 30. Rb8 Qe7 31. c5 Nh3 32. Qc6 1-0. Back to the game…)

3 Nf3 d5 4 e5 (Komodo’s choice of 4 d3 is far and away the most often played move, although Stockfish 9 at a depth of 32 gives 4 d4. Stochfish 9×64, at a depth of 25, shows the game move)

4…Nh6 (SF 9 and Komodo 11.2 2 64-bit at depth 27 play 4…c5, but Komodo 9.2 64-bit at depth 25 would play the game move)

5 h4? (I considered being kind and including an exclamation mark after the question mark but not because the move is dubious but because the move is so shocking. Consider for a moment you are sitting across from your student. Let us call him “Allen.” He has just begun showing his most recent rated game and you are sitting behind the black pieces. Your first instinct may be something like, “What the hell kinda move is THAT?!” You cannot say this because Allen is a “Priest.” So you stifle yourself and say, “That is a bad move.” Although a middle-aged man Allen looks like one of your young students as he hangs his head before asking, “Why is it bad?” As you sit gazing into the distance you consider his lowly 701 rating and recall some of the lame opening moves you played in the past before replying, “Because it is unnecessary.” Then you tell him about how important time is in the opening phase of the game, and of the many things one needs to accomplish in the opening, such as development, etc. You would follow by explaining why 5 g3, to develop the bishop, is the way to play this particular opening. This would also be the time you attempted to explain why h4 may be a decent move in the opening if black has weakened his pawn structure when playing g6. This would make Allen feel a little better, especially if you add, “In many openings the same moves are played, but what matters is not the move played, but the order in which they are played. There must be a reason for every move.” Since you must sit there and see the remaining moves of Allen’s game you decide to show him the opening moves of the game between Dimitri Bogdanov (2175) and Bjorn Brinck Claussen (2354) from the 21st Politiken Cup in 1999 at Copenhagen. 1 e4 e6 2 Qe2 Be7 3 Nf3 d5 4 e5 Nh6 5 g3 f5 6 d4 Nf7 7 h4. “See how the pawn stops any black piece from coming to g5?” you ask. “Now the rook pawn move has a purpose,” you say as the color begins returning to Allen’s face. This causes you to show him the rest of the game before having to get back to his game. After all, you are getting paid by the hour…

7…c5 8. dxc5 Na6 9. Be3 Qc7 10. Bg2 Nxc5 11. Bd4 O-O 12. O-O Bd7 13. Re1 b5 14. Nbd2 a5 15. Bxc5 Qxc5 16. Nb3 Qb6 17. Nbd4 Nd8 18. Qd2 Nb7 19. Rad1 Nc5 20. Qf4 b4 21. Bf1 a4 22. Re3 Ne4 23. Rdd3 a3 24. bxa3 Rxa3 25. Rxa3 bxa3 26. Rb3 Qa7 27. Kg2 Rc8 28. Qe3 Qc7 29. Ba6 Rb8 30. Rxb8+ Qxb8 31. Qb3 Qa7 32. Bb5 Bc8 33. c4 Bc5 34. Qd3 g6 35. cxd5 exd5 36. Nc6 Qb6 37. Qxd5+ Kg7 38. Bc4 Qb2 39. Kh3 Qxf2 0-1)

5…c5 6 d3 Nf5 (6…Ng4 would be possible because of white playing pawn to h4) 7 c3 h6 8 h5 Nc6 9 Na3 a6 10 Nc2 b5

11 g3 (Although the move could have possibly been played earlier, now looks like the right time for 11 g4)

11…a5 (The coach would have to take time here explaining why development should be completed before launching any kind of aggressive movement, such as the last move. 11…O-O or Bb7 are good alternative moves)

12 Bg2 Rb8 13 Bf4 b4 14 c4 b3 15 ab3 Rb3 16 Bc1 Ba6 17 O-O O-O 18 Re1 dc4 19 dc4 Ncd4 20 Ncd4 Nd4 21 Nd4 cd4

22 Rd1 (22 Qg4! Kh8 23 Bd2 looks about equal) 22…Bc5 23 Be4? (23 Bxh6! gxh6 24 Qg4+ Kh8 25 Qf4 Kh7 26 Be4+ Kg7 27 Qg4+ Kh8 28 Qf4 looks like all white can hope for at this point in the game)

Take a good look at this position as black. What move would you make?

23 Rg3! (Brings the house DOWN! Examine ALL checks, something neglected by the much higher rated player)

24 Kf1 d3 (I looked at moving the rook to either b3 or h3, in addition to 24…f5, so the move in the game took me by surprise) 25. Rd3 Rd3

26 Bd3 (The human brain rejects 26 Qxd3 Qh4 27 Kg2 Qxf2+ 28 Kh3, leaving the King naked in no mans land) 26…Qh4 27. Qf3 Rd8 ( As my friend the Master of Understatement was fond of saying, 27…Bb7 looks strong, not that it matters) 28. Be4 Bc4 29. Kg2 Rd4 30. Ra5 Re4 31. Ra8 Kh7 32. Qe4 Qe4 0-1

P. Vessosi (2351) vs M. Astengo (2064)

Lodi Open 2008

1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 Be7 3. Nf3 d5 4. e5 Nh6 5. d3 Nf5 6. g3 c5 7. Bg2 Nc6 8. O-O g5 9. c3 h5 10. h3 g4 11. hxg4 hxg4 12. Nh2 Nh6 13. Rd1
Bd7 14. Na3 Qb6 15. Bxh6 Rxh6 16. Nxg4 Rg6 17. Bf3 O-O-O 18. Kg2 Rdg8 19. Rac1 Kb8 20. Rh1 Qa5 21. Rh6 Rxg4 22. Bxg4 Bg5 23. Rch1 Bxh6 24. Rxh6 b5 25. Bh5 Be8 26. d4 c4 27. Qd2 b4 28. cxb4 Qxb4 29. Qc3 Qf8 30. Rf6 Rh8 31. g4 Nb4 32. Nc2 Nd3 33. Ne1 Qg7 34. Kf1 Qh7 35. Nxd3 cxd3 36. Qb4+ Ka8 37. f3 Qg7 38. Qd2 Qh7 39. Ke1 Rf8 40. b3 Bb5 41. a4 Ba6 42. b4 Bc4 43. b5 Qg7 44. Qf4 Qh7 45. Kd2 Bb3 46. Rxf7 Rxf7 47. Qxf7 Qh6+ 48. f4 Bxa4 49. g5 Qh8 50. Qe8+ 1-0

The general of the white pieces takes 46 seconds of his five minutes to play his THIRD move of the game, obviously flummoxed by the choice of move made by the general of the black pieces.

Death On The Chess Board

It filled me with sadness when first reading the report of the death at the board of fellow Senior Kurt Meier during his last round game at the 2014 Olympiad. Reports have been slow in coming even in this age of instant access. I was mortified this morning to read about the death of another player after the conclusion of the tournament. Reports are that he was found dead in his hotel room.

I have spent the morning reading all the reports that could be found. I have a personal interest in this not only because I am a Senior, but because I collapsed at the board during a chess tournament, with paramedics having to be called. This was at the 32nd Continental Open in Sturbridge, Massachusetts in 2002. Upon regaining consciousness I saw FM Miles Ardaman hovering over me. Knowing Miles to be a psychiatrist, I feared the worst. I refused to be transported to a hospital, but did see a doctor a few days later. After checking me out and talking with me about what may have possibly caused the collapse, he surmised I had become dehydrated. I traveled to the Continental directly from the US Open in New Jersey where after playing in the normal schedule, with games each evening. The first two games at the C.O. were also at night, but the third, and my last, was a morning round. I had coffee, but hardly any water because I feared spending too much time going to the restroom. It was a mistake I have not repeated. For quite some time I had been sitting with a full bladder trying to make time control. When I stood up quickly and took a few steps, my heart could not make the adjustment, which happens as one ages. I also learned of a heart murmur. Often I wonder why I am still alive…

Most Seniors have some kind of health problem, and I am not an exception, as there is a problem with my heart. My father lived many years with a machine in his body, a pacemaker. I have chosen to not be a member of the Borg, part man and machine. During the two decade run of the Atlanta Chess and What Other Game Center more than one player had to be taken away in an ambulance, none of whom were young.

With this in mind I have written extensively on my blogs, the BaconLOG and now the Armchair Warrior, concerning the dangers faced by Senior chess players. I have also spoken out about the problems faced by Senior players. Unfortunately, my words have fallen on dear ears.

I have written about several measures that could be instituted in order to lessen the chances of a death at the board during a Senior tournament. One of the major problems has been that organizers schedule a Senior chess tournament as if it were a tournament for younger players. Most weekend tournaments have five rounds with the first beginning Friday night. Since the last round is over sometime Sunday evening, that means five games of chess are played in about forty eight hours. That is a lot of chess for even younger players. It is simply too much for a Senior. Even when I was in my twenties a five round tournament would leave me what the Legendary Georgia Ironman calls a, “wiped out Waldo.” I began taking a half-point bye in the third round Saturday night in order to continue playing. I will no longer play a serious, long game at night.

For a Senior tournament I have suggested having no more than four rounds, with two each day. I have also suggested a break of at least two hours between the games. Bob Mahan, the man behind the Chess For Seniors Association (http://www.chessforseniors.org/index.php) had the audacity to tell me that would mean a delay in the time the organizers and TD’s would get home from an event, which shows the thinking by even some Seniors when it comes to the safety of the players.

There are many stories in the press concerning the deaths at the Olympiad, including one on Chessbase, where one finds this:
“There was momentary chaos in the hall when Meier collapsed, which was explained by Morgan Lillegård, head of communication for the Chess Olympics, in The Local: “People in the hall thought the defibrillator was a weapon. Panic spread because the thought there was an armed person. I can definitely confirm there was no weapons. This is a misunderstanding. It is in itself dramatic enough that someone had a heart attack.”

The Guardian comments that Meier is not the first player to die in the middle of a match: in 2000 Vladimir Bagirov, a Latvian grandmaster, had a fatal heart attack during a tournament in Finland, while in the same year another Latvian, Aivars Gipslis, suffered a stroke while playing in Berlin, from which he later died. To this we add that Johann Zukertort died from a cerebral hemorrhage suffered during a game in Simpson’s Divan, in a tournament which he was leading at the time. José Raúl Capablanca died of a stroke in March 1942 while watching a skittles game at the Manhattan Chess Club.

Other players who died during a chess tournament or game: Gideon Stahlberg (1908-1967), Vladimir Simagin 1919-1968), Cecil Purdy (1906-1979), Ed Edmundson (1920-1982). The following players died very shortly after a game or event: Frank Marshall (1877-1944), Efim Bogoljubov (1889-1952), Herman Steiner (1905-1955), Paul Keres (1916-1975), Alexei Suetin (1926-2001).”

The most interesting is, “Why chess is really an extreme sport,” by Stephen Moss, online at theguardian.com. The tag line reads, “The deaths of two players at the Chess Olympiad in Norway shows that it’s time tournaments came with a health warning.” In the article he writes, ” Chess, though the non-player might not believe this, is in many ways an extreme sport.”

“At the Olympiad, participants were playing a game a day over a fortnight – 11 rounds with just a couple of rest days on which to recuperate. For up to seven hours a day, they would be sitting at the board trying to kill – metaphorically speaking – their opponent, because this is the ultimate game of kill or be killed. In some positions, you can reach a point where both sides are simultaneously within a single move of checkmating the other. One false step and you will have lost. This imposes enormous pressure on players.”

Stephen is a player, as can be learned from this, ” I spend a day at work, rush home, bolt down a meal, then go to my chess club and play a three-hour game which often makes me feel ill, especially if I lose. After that, usually around 10.30pm, I go home, go to bed, and frequently fail to sleep as my moves and mistakes revolve around my head.”

The author concludes with this paragraph, “So next time someone suggests a nice, quiet game of chess, or paints it as an intellectual pursuit played by wimps, tell them they’ve got it all wrong: this is a fight to the finish played in the tensest of circumstances by two players who are physically and mentally living on the edge. We all need to get fitter to play this demanding game, and society should recognise it for what it is – a sport as challenging, dramatic and exciting as any other. Such recognition would be a tribute of sorts to the two players who sadly played their final games in Tromso.”

It is a shame this may be what it takes for those in power to take notice and institute changes, especially in the way Senior chess tournaments are implemented.