Games Have Been Terminated!

The thing about writing a blog is that one never knows what an email will bring. After spending an inordinate amount of time in front of Toby, the ‘puter, yesterday learning how to insert diagrams, and then putting together the post in order to have something in which to insert them, I determined that today I would spend time with the Daniel Gormally book, Insanity, passion and addiction: a year inside the chess world, while playing over Chess games on an actual board with pieces one can feel, and possibly “working” on the openings intended for the Senior Championship of the Great State of South Carolina, which is only ten days away, by going to the CBDB and 365Chess. Wrong, Ke-mo sah-bee! An email from my friend Mulfish arrived at 11:42 am, upsetting the Bacon cart…

“Looking forward to the AWs take on AlphaZeros stunning win over Stockfish,” was the message. “What’s this?” I thought, wondering if Mike was referring to the TCEC Computer Chess Championship that is in the final stretch. “But Stockfish is not participating in the Super Final,” I thought. I therefore fired off an immediate response: “To what, exactly, are you referring?” His reply was, “Look in the all things Chess forum.”

Although there are not as many incoming as there were before taking a long break from blogging, I have received several emails directing my attention here and there, and they are greatly appreciated. Checking the AW stats today showed many people in countries other than the USA reading the AW. In particular I noticed that today, as every day, there is one, and only one, reader in the Maldives. Thank you, whoever you are, and feel free to send an email, as I am curious by nature.

Keep ’em coming: xpertchesslessons@yahoo.com

This is the post found on the USCF forum that prompted Mulfish to fire a salvo at the AW:

Postby billbrock on Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:16 am #321974

“AlphaZero learned to play chess by playing against itself. After just FOUR HOURS of self-learning, it was able to decisely (sic) defeat Stockfish 8.0! (EDIT: this statement is slightly misleading. See downthread.) (100 games match: +28 =72 -0)
What’s really impressive: Stockfish was calculating far more deeply than AlphaZero (at least in terms of nodes per second). AlphaZero is just “smarter.”

After reading only this I thought, “Whoa! This will change not only my day, but possibly the future course of history!” The more I read the more convinced was I of the latter.

Bill Brock provided a link to a PDF paper, Mastering Chess and Shogi by Self-Play with a General Reinforcement Learning Algorithm
(https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.01815.pdf) which I read immediately, blowing my mind…

Every morning I read while drinking my first cuppa coffee, and today was no exception. Toby is not fired-up until time to sit down and eat breakfast. I check my email, then the quotes of the day, followed by the poem of the day, which was The Writer’s Almanac, by Garrison Keillor, but it has been discontinued, so I’ve moved on to Poem-a-Day (https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem-day) & The Poetry Foundation’s Poem of the Day (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/). Next I click on the Drudge Report in order to understand what the enemy is thinking, and doing. Then it is the newspapers in digital form, the NYT, WaPo, and AJC. For you readers outside the USA, that would be the New York Times, the Washinton Post, and the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. Then I check out the word of the day (https://www.merriam-webster.com/word-of-the-day), before heading to check what was on the nightly radio programs broadcast while I am sleeping, Ground Zero with Clyde Lewis (http://www.groundzeromedia.org/), and the Granddaddy of them all, Coast to Coast AM (https://www.coasttocoastam.com/). You may think that Chess comes next, but you would be mistaken. I check out The Hardball Times at Fangraphs (https://www.fangraphs.com/tht/). Then I check out what’s happening in the world of Go (http://www.usgo.org/).

Then it is time for Chess! My routine is to check in at Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en) first in order to learn if there is a new article I will want to return to after checking out Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/), where there is usually something interesting to peruse. (Today is no exception because the lead article is, How XiangQi can improve your chess, which will be read. https://en.chessbase.com/). During the TCEC Championships it is then on to Chessdom (http://www.chessdom.com/), where I click onto TCEC (http://tcec.chessdom.com/). And then it is on to the Chess Granddaddy of them all website, TWIC, aka The Week In Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), which is Mark Crowther’s wonderful website which contains a Daily Chess Puzzle, which I attempt to solve, in hopes it will keep my mind sharp. Why was I writing all this?…Just kidding!

The point is that I read so long this morning (Why Bob Dylan Matters, by Richard F. Thomas; Cover Me: The stories behind the GREATEST COVER SONGS of all time, by Ray Padgett, who has a wonderful website (http://www.covermesongs.com/); and Murder on the Death Star: The assassination of Kennedy and its relevance to the Trump era, by Pelle Neroth) in order to finish the latter. The point being that by the time I got to the email by Mulfish I would ordinarily have already seen the momentous news.

DeepMind’s AlphaZero crushes chess

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/deepmind-s-alphazero-crushes-chess

The excellent article by Colin McGourty begins: “20 years after DeepBlue defeated Garry Kasparov in a match, chess players have awoken to a new revolution. The AlphaZero algorithm developed by Google and DeepMind took just four hours of playing against itself to synthesise the chess knowledge of one and a half millennium and reach a level where it not only surpassed humans but crushed the reigning World Computer Champion Stockfish 28 wins to 0 in a 100-game match. All the brilliant stratagems and refinements that human programmers used to build chess engines have been outdone, and like Go players we can only marvel at a wholly new approach to the game.”

Colin ends with: “And where do traditional chess programmers go from here? Will they have to give up the refinements of human-tuned evaluation functions and all the existing techniques, or will the neural networks still require processing power and equipment not easily available? Will they be able to follow in DeepMind’s footsteps, or are there proprietary techniques involved that can’t easily be mastered?

There’s a lot to ponder, but for now the chess world has been shaken!”

“Shaken?” More like ROCKED TO ITS FOUNDATION!

If games people play are to survive they will be something like that described in the novel I consider the best I have read, Das Glasperlenspiel, or Magister Ludi, aka, The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. (http://www.glassbeadgame.com/)

Or maybe a book, The Player of Games, by Iain M. Banks, which is not only one of my favorite Sci-Fi books, but also one of my favorite book about games.

The stunning news also caused me to reflect on a Canadian Sci-Fi television program I watched, Continuum, in which mega-corporations dominate the world in the future as time-travelers fight one of the largest corporatocratic entities, SadTech, which sounds an awful lot like Google. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1954347/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_6)

The Brave New World is here. The Science Fiction books I read as a youngster are no longer fiction.

The Terminator has arrived.

We are all doomed. DOOMED!

R.E.M. – It’s The End Of The World

The End of the World

The Assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy

“I never let schooling interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain

Today is the anniversary of the brutal murder of POTUS John Fitzgerald Kennedy. The event which transpired in New York city on September 11, 2001 has been equated with what happened in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, which to anyone my age is laughable. The enormousness of the killing of a POTUS dwarfs any other day of infamy.

The death of President Kennedy was announced at a pep rally at my high school on a Friday afternoon. Half of those in attendance cheered. JFK was reviled in the South, not only because he was a yankee, but also a Catholic. Southern Baptists did not like Catholics. Actually, most of them did not like anyone other than those who were like minded.

I had turned thirteen a few months earlier and was in the eight grade at a new high school where I knew only two other students, both from my grammar school. Fights broke out after the announcement. Fortunately I was not involved.

Like most other Americans my family gathered around the television to watch the continuous coverage. One could tell how important an event was this because there were no commercials broadcast for days. I saw Jack Ruby allegedly shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, if it was really Lee Harvey Oswald, in the basement of the Dallas police department. Oswald said he was a patsy. Some do not believe Ruby, an FBI informant, actually shot Oswald. Only a few people know the truth, and they are not telling. One reason may be what has been written about something in the office of organized crime figure Carlos Marcello’s office: “Three can keep a secret if two are dead,” which is a quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin.

I read Rush To Judgement, by Mark Lane, in the late 1960’s and was hooked. At one time I could count the number of books on the assassination, but that is no longer the case, and has not been for decades. Former Georgia Chess Champion Michael Decker once told someone that I “Had read EVERYTHING!” It may have been close to the truth then, but there have been so many books written now that it is virtually impossible for anyone to read all of them. Michael, like most other Americans, refused to believe anything other than what the government said had happened. On one of the many visits I made to visit him in Louisville I noticed a copy of Best Evidence: Disguise and Deception in the Assassination of John F. Kennedy, by David S. Lifton. When asked if he had read the book he looked like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He refused to discuss the matter, so I let it drop. I could discern his faith in our institutions had been shaken.

I even read discredited books concerning the assassination considered by knowledgeable people to be disinformation. When asked why I would reply, “In order to know what they leave out, or where they want you to go, so I can go the other way.” I drew the line, though, at the doorstop, Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, by Vincent Bugliosi. After all, my time on this earth is limited and reading that piece of trash would be a complete waste of time. I will admit, though, that the reviews panning it were even better than the reviews of Gerald Posner’s terrible book, Case Closed: Lee Harvey Oswald and the Assassination of JFK.

I went to the Atlanta Historical Society one evening to listen to a lecture by a man some call an “eminent historian,” Robert Dallek, who had written, An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963. I was in line to ask him a question when the first question to him was, “What books have you read on the assassination of JFK?” When he said, “Case Closed,” the questioner asked, “That’s all?” When Dallek said there was no need to read any other books after reading that one, the audience booed, and hissed, and booed some more. I turned and walked out. Need I tell you this is one of the highlights of my life?

Back in the 1980’s Michael “Mad Dog” Gordon, another Chess player, watched a two-hour program on the JFK assassination, which he thought made him an expert. The Legendary one, had told Mike that I had read many books on the subject, so Mad Dog began asking me questions one evening while taking a break from playing fifteen minute games. We did not play another game. Many hours later he offered his couch because of the late hour. I could not do that now because my memory is not what it used to be. I have forgotten names, dates, and details, unfortunately. The program Mad Dog had watched “proved” that LHO had shot JFK. As the man from the High Planes, Life Master David Vest, former Georgia Chess Champion and Georgia Senior Chess champion, would say, “I refuted the Mad Dog.”

Whatever one thinks of John Fitzgerald Kennedy the fact that you are here today and reading this is testament to the man because if he had not been POTUS during the Cuban Missile Crisis there would have been a nuclear war. There would have been an alternate timeline, one that possibly would not have included humans. You see, the hawks who wanted to bomb the hell out of Cuba did not know that nuclear weapons were positioned there, ready to strike the US, and that the Russian battlefield commanders had authority to fire them in case of an invasion. This was learned decades later at a conference in Cuba.

A few who have learned of my continuing interest in the sordid affair have asked me what book to read, as if there were one, and only one, book to read on the assassination of President Kennedy. My usual response has been to scoff at such a ridiculous question. Now I am old and today may be my tomorrow, so I have decided to share the titles of the books I would recommend one read, if interested in the subject.

When I began researching the subject I focused on not who had killed the POTUS, but why was he killed. This is the best book to answer that question:

JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James W. Douglass.

Garrison Keillor puts out an edition of The Writer’s Almanac every day, which can be listened to on NPR and found here: https://writersalmanac.org/

Mr. Keillor writes in today’s edition, “As they drove through Dealey Plaza, Lee Harvey Oswald opened fire from a sixth-floor window in the Texas School Book Depository.” Lee Harvey Oswald was later that day tested for nitrates on his face, something he would have had if he had fired a rifle earlier in the day. He tested negative.

Because it is his birthday a piece on Charles de Gaulle, a former President of France, follows, which is ironic because when asked about the Kennedy assassination, de Gaulle, who had survived numerous assassination attempts, said, “His security was compromised.” This is the book to read in order to understand what happened that November day in 1963:

Survivor’s Guilt: The Secret Service and the Failure to Protect President Kennedy, by Vincent Palamara.

Douglas Horne has written a five volumne set of books that is simply de rigueur if one wants to know what happened in Dallas that terrible day: Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK.

If one wants to know the empirical evidence he should read the masterful: A Deeper, Darker Truth, by Donald T Phillips.

That’s it, unless one is interested in speculation, when I would highly recommend: Target JFK: The Spy Who Killed Kennedy? by Robert K. Wilcox, the author of the highly acclaimed, Target Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton.

Then there is, THE MEN THAT DON’T FIT IN, by Rod MacKenzie. Can it really be true that these last two books are true? With the JFK assassination, anything is possible.

The Men That Don’t Fit In
By Robert W. Service
There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
And they don’t know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
He’s a man who won’t fit in.