Just Checking The End Of The Line

Each issue of the best Chess magazine in the universe, New In Chess, culminates with Just Checking, which is a series of questions for various strong players from various parts of the world. Since I am not a titled player NIC will never interview me, yet I have sometimes fantasized about answering the questions posed. Some of the answers are surprising and each and every answer tells you something about the person providing the answer. Since it is a magazine with limited space most of the answers are short. Since this is a blog I can elaborate at length. Don’t get me started! I hope you enjoy what follows.

What is your favorite city?

Decatur, Georgia, the city of my birth.

What was the last great meal you had?

Something beautiful in its simplicity prepared by the woman with whom I was in love.

What drink brings a smile to your face?

Which book would you give to a dear friend?

I have no “dear friend.”

What book are you currently reading?

Just finished reading, Presumed Guilty: How and why the Warren Commission framed Lee Harvey Oswald, by Howard Roffman. Although it was published in the mid-seventies it had somehow escaped my attention. Although I had read a few books before beginning to work at the Oxford bookstore in Atlanta, my serious reading began a few years after the book was published, yet I missed it. I ordered the book after reading about it in Volume 20, #3 of the JFK/DEEP POLITICS QUARTERLY, published in August of 2018 by Walt Brown and Tim Smith (info @ kiasjfk@aol.com). Upon opening the package and reading the front of the dust jacket I turned to the back and was taken aback, no, ASTOUNDED, to see a picture of a young Justin Morrison, now owner of Kid Chess in Atlanta, Georgia (https://www.kidchess.com/). I kid you not! The picture of the the young man bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Justin Morrison, who was one of my opponents in the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship. From the jacket: “Howard Roffman, now 23, was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., where he attended public school. His interest in the assassination of President Kennedy began when he was fourteen, and he read everything he could lay his hands on on the subject. By 11th grade he had bought all 26 volumes of the Warren Report ($76), and, convinced of the inadequacy of the conclusions, he went to the National Archives and studied the files – the youngest researcher ever to see them. Alarmed at what he discovered, he writes, “I can’t think of anything more threatening than when the government lies about the murder of its leader.” It is a fine book and a clear refutation of the US Government’s “official” finding that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered the POTUS, John F. Kennedy.

What is your favorite novel?

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

Do you have a favorite artist?

Maxfield Parrish

Way back in the 1970’s a girlfriend, Cecil Jordan, who was from California, and came to Atlanta to become a stewardess for Delta Air Lines, took me to some place in San Francisco where the paintings of Maxfield Parrish were being shown. The colors, especially blue, were so very vibrant it was like they jumped out at you in a spectacular way. I fell in love with the artists work. The pictures one sees in a book or magazine are nice, but absolutely nothing like what one sees if fortunate enough to see the real McCoy.

What is your favorite color?

What is your all-time favorite movie?

When young it was Cool Hand Luke,

then came One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,

but I cannot watch either of them now because they are too depressing. The English Patient

became a candidate, but only one movie has stood the test of time. When channel surfing and the movie flashes upon the screen it matters not what is on any other channel as the surfing ends immediately. That movie is Casablanca.

What is your all-time favorite TV series?

Who is your favorite actor?

Humphrey Bogart.

And actress?

Kim Basinger

and Blair Brown.



To what kind of music do you listen?

Because of tinnitus I now listen to mostly what is called “ambient,” or “electronic,” or “New Age,” or “space” music. (https://www.hos.com/)

I have, at one time or another, listened to every kind of musical genre.

Who is your favorite composer?

Duke Ellington.

Favorite male singer/songwriter?

Bob Dylan

Female?

Joni Mitchell.

Best Rock & Roll song of all-time?

Like a Rolling Stone.

Like A Rolling Stone

Written by: Bob Dylan

Once upon a time you dressed so fine

You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?

People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”

You thought they were all kiddin’ you

You used to laugh about

Everybody that was hangin’ out

Now you don’t talk so loud

Now you don’t seem so proud

About having to be scrounging for your next meal

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be without a home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely

But you know you only used to get juiced in it

And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street

And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it

You said you’d never compromise

With the mystery tramp, but now you realize

He’s not selling any alibis

As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes

And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns

When they all come down and did tricks for you

You never understood that it ain’t no good

You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you

You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat

Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat

Ain’t it hard when you discover that

He really wasn’t where it’s at

After he took from you everything he could steal

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people

They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made

Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things

But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe

You used to be so amused

At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used

Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose

You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music
http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/rolling-stone/

Favorite Rock & Roll song of all-time?

The Night They Drove Old Dixe Down.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

The Band

Produced by John Simon

Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train
‘Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell
It’s a time I remember, oh so well

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”

Back with my wife in Tennessee
When one day she called to me
“Virgil, quick, come see, there go the Robert E.Lee”
Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood
And I don’t care if the money’s no good
Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”

Like my father before me, I will work the land
And like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand
He was just eighteen, proud and brave
But a Yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the mud below my feet
You can’t raise a Caine back up when he’s in defeat

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”

Best Rock & Roll band of all-time?

George Harrison of the Beatles said The Band was the best band in the universe. Who am I to argue with him?

What is your all-time favorite album?

The Romantic Warrior.

What is the best piece of advice ever given to you?

“Life is like the Bataan death march. Your best buddy might fall down but you cannot help him up because he will only drag you down so you gotta keep high-steppin’.”

Is there something you would love to learn?

The meaning of life.

What is your greatest fear?

Fear itself.

And your greatest regret?

Regrets? I’ve had a few…

Who is your favorite Chess player of all-time?

Robert J. Fischer.

Is there a Chess book that had a profound influence on you?

Chess Openings in Theory and Practice by I. A. Horowitz

I would also like to mention a Grandmaster for whom I much admiration, Vladimir Malaniuk,

because he devoted his entire life to playing the Leningrad Dutch, and with much success. For anyone desiring to play the Leningrad Dutch his book is de rigueur.

What does it mean to be a Chess player?

Nothing.

Is a knowledge of Chess useful in everyday life?

No.

Do you have any superstitions concerning Chess?

No.

If you could change one thing in the chess world what would it be?

End the offering of a draw, award more points for a win, especially with the black pieces, and rid Chess of all the people in positions of power who do not, and have not, played Chess, most of whom do not even like the game, and only want to “run things.”

That is three things.

You want me to go on?

No.

That’s what I thought…

What is the best thing ever said about Chess?

Before the advent of the computer programs:

I believe in magic … There is magic in the creative faculty such as great poets and philosophers conspicuously possess, and equally in the creative chessmaster. – Emanuel Lasker

After the advent of the computer programs:

“The ability to combine skillfully, the capacity to find in each given position the most expedient move, is the quickest way to execute a well-conceived plan, and is in fact the only principle in the game of chess”- Mikhail Chigorin

What is the most exciting Chess game you have ever watched?

Keep in mind we were unable to “watch” most games ‘back in the day’. Even the World Championship games were replayed from the next days newspaper, which was usually the New York Times. Therefore, I am limited in the number of games I have “seen” in real time. That said, I was working the demo board the day the following game was played at the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in San Antonio 1972 and managed to watch every move. It was “exciting” to me, and some of the home town crowd, to watch Ken Smith,

who had been manhandled by the GM’s (Ken did manage to draw earlier with Mario Campos Lopez, and beat former World Junior champion Julio Kaplan in the previous round eleven) draw with GM Paul Keres.

After the game someone mentioned something about Ken drawing because Keres was old and obviously tired. I responded, “What? You think Ken was fresh as a daisy? He has probably sat at the board longer and played more moves than any other player during the event because he was the lowest rated player, and the other players were going to test him in the endgame in each and every game.” Ken, known as the “Capablanca of the cattle country,” heard this, and was nice, and gracious to me from that day forward. Some years later I entered an elevator after losing a game in a big tournament, such as the World Open, or maybe the Western States Chess festival in Reno. There were three people on the elevator, one of whom was Ken. “How did you do, Mike?” He asked. I hung my head and answered, “I lost, Ken.”
“What opening did you play?” He asked. “It was a Leningrad Dutch,” I said. “Ah, at least you played a fighting opening!” For some reason that made me feel better and as he exited I smiled in response to his smile. It is difficult to make a player who has just lost a Chess game smile.

Paul Keres vs Kenneth Ray Smith
San Antonio (1972), San Antonio, TX USA, rd 12, Dec-04
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Queen’s Knight Variation (A16)

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c6 3. e4 d5 4. e5 d4 5. exf6 dxc3 6. fxg7 cxd2+ 7. Bxd2 Bxg7
8. Qc2 Nd7 9. Ne2 Nf6 10. Ng3 Qc7 11. Bd3 Bd7 12. Bc3 O-O-O 13. O-O-O Ne8 14.
Rhe1 e6 15. Bxg7 Nxg7 16. Qc3 Nf5 17. Qf6 Rhf8 18. Re5 Kb8 19. Bxf5 exf5 20.
Qd6 Be6 21. Qxc7+ Kxc7 22. b3 Rxd1+ 23. Kxd1 Rg8 24. f4 Rg4 25. Ke2 Rxf4 26. h3
Kd6 27. Ra5 a6 28. Ke3 Rh4 29. Nxf5+ Bxf5 30. Rxf5 Ke6 31. Rg5 Rh6 32. Ke4 Rh4+
33. Ke3 Rh6 34. Kd4 Rg6 35. Re5+ Kd6 36. c5+ Kd7 37. g4 Rh6 38. Rf5 Ke6 39. Rf3
Rf6 40. Re3+ Kd7 41. Re5 Rh6 42. Re3 Rf6 43. Ke4 Ke6 44. Rd3 Rf2 45. Rd6+ Ke7
46. Rd4 Rxa2 47. Rb4 Ke6 48. Rxb7 Re2+ 49. Kd4 Rd2+ 50. Kc4 Rc2+ 51. Kb4 a5+
52. Kxa5 Rxc5+ 53. Kb4 Rc1 54. Rc7 Kf6 55. Ka3 Kg6 56. Kb2 Rc5 57. h4 h6 58.
Rd7 f6 59. Rd6 Kg7 60. h5 f5 61. Rg6+ Kh7 62. gxf5 Rxf5 63. Rxc6 Rxh5 64. b4
Rg5 65. Rc5 Rg8 66. b5 Kg6 67. Kc3 h5 68. b6 h4 69. Kd4 Rd8+ 70. Kc4 h3 71. Kb5
h2 72. Rc1 Kg5 73. b7 Rb8 1/2-1/2

What was your best result ever?

Winning the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship 5-0.

What was the best game you played?

A win with the black pieces vs Mark Pinto, or possibly a win vs the sour Kraut, LM Klaus Pohl which was published in Chess Life magazine.

FM Mark Pinto

vs Bacon

1986 US Open rd 4

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6
6. c3 Qd5 7. Ne2 Bg4 8. f3 Bf5 9. Ng3 Bg6 10. Qb3 Qxb3 11. axb3 e6 12. Be3 Nd7
13. b4 f5 14. Bc4 Nb6 15. Bb3 Nd5 16. Bd2 Be7 17. O-O h5 18. Ne2 h4 19. Nf4
Nxf4 20. Bxf4 h3 21. g3 a6 22. Be5 Rg8 23. Kf2 Bg5 24. f4 Be7 25. Bc7 Kd7 26.
Bb6 Bh5 27. Rfe1 Bd6 28. Rg1 Rg6 29. Bc4 Rag8 30. Rae1 Bxf4 31. gxf4 Rg2+ 32.
Rxg2 Rxg2+ 33. Ke3 Rxh2 34. Bd3 Ke7 35. Bc5+ Kf6 36. Bf8 Rg2 37. Bf1 Rg3+ 38.
Kf2 Rf3+ 39. Kg1 Bg4 40. Bh6 Kg6 41. Bg5 f6 42. Rxe6 h2+ 43. Kxh2 Rxf1 44.
Rxf6+ Kg7 45. Rd6 Rf2+ 46. Kg1 Rxb2 47. Rd7+ Kg6 48. Rxb7 Bf3 49. Rb6 Kh5 50.
Rxa6 Kg4 51. Ra1 Kg3 0-1

The game was annotated by GM Jon Speelman:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/jon-speelman-s-agony-column-23

What is your most memorable game?

You and your Chess program will have a field day with this game. After making my twenty third move, which threatened checkmate, in addition to attacking the Queen, and knowing there were four ways my knight could be taken, all of which lose, I sat back and folded my arms with a smug look on my face, expecting my opponent to resign. It is the most beautiful move I have ever played on a Chess board. Instead, he did what a player is supposed to do, he put his head in his hands and “hunkered down.” Although I do not recall, it is highly probable I got up and strutted around the room, waiting for the resignation that did not come… I should have simply taken the knight. I did, though, learn a valuable lesson which I have attempted to teach everyone to whom I have given lessons. “Examine ALL CHECKS.”
The game was played in Midland, Texas, in the Halliburton Open, 1974. If I recall correctly, it was played in the second round, after I had lost to a NM named Gary Simms. I also recall that after I came back to win my last three games Mr. Simms was nice enough to say, “You showed us something by not withdrawing.”

T. Thompson vs Michael Bacon

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 8. Qd2
Qxb2 9. Nb3 Qa3 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Be2 h5 12. f5 Nc6 13. O-O Bd7 14. fxe6 fxe6
15. Rxf6 Qb4 16. a3 Qb6+ 17. Kh1 Ne5 18. Rb1 Qc7 19. Nd4 Rc8 20. Qg5 Be7 21.
Bxh5+ Kd8 22. Rb3 Qc4 23. Rxb7

Nf3?!!?

24. Nxe6+ Bxe6 25. Rf8+ 1-0

A close second would be a game in which I drew with IM Andre Filipowicz

with the black pieces in the first round of a weekend swiss tournament in Atlanta during the FIDE congress. IM Boris Kogan


Boris Kogan with raised hand at Lone Pine

and NM Guillermo Ruiz became excited with the possibility of my nicking an IM for a half-point to begin the tournament. I graciously accepted the draw offer in an even position, which brought relief to the other titled players because they knew I usually disdained a draw, preferring to play on in what was usually a futile effort.

Going back to my first blog, the BaconLOG (http://baconlog.blogspot.com/) I have been blogging, off and on, for over a decade. You cannot please all of the people but evidently, judging from some of the comments received, you can please some of the people. An example of the former would be this email received from the Ol’ Swindler:

raj kipling
To:Michael Bacon
Jul 19 at 9:27 AM
Michael,
PLEASE remove my email address from any of you “blog” notifications…you are heading for a fall and I do not want to be dragged down with you…in fact do not email me under any circumstances…do not even respond to this email…forget that you even knew me…good luck…neal harris

Judging by the date it would appear Mr. Harris

did not care for my post of the previous day (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/fuck-you-mr-president/). When we were together politics was never discussed. Why would we discuss politics when there was Chess to discuss? I did, though, travel with the Ol’ Swindler to Waynesville to attend the Smoky Mountain Chess Club once and Neal did stop at a survivalist store where it could be gleaned from the very right of center conversation all of the votes there would go to Republican candidates…

Fortunately most of the email responses received have been positive. For example:

Kevin Spraggett

To:Michael Bacon
Nov 3 at 10:02 PM
Great Article, Michael. You have become a wonderful writer!

Kevin

Karen
To:Michael Bacon
Dec 10 at 6:05 AM
Great article! You are a very good writer ( I was an English major and went to grad school so I notice these things!).

Best,
Karen

That would be Karen Boyd, wife of GM Ben Finegold.

“A man who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” I cannot recall when or where I heard, or read, that, but know it is true. I have had enough blogging. We, dead reader, have reached…

End of the Line
The Traveling Wilburys
Featuring Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne & 2 more
Produced by Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison) & Otis Wilbury (Jeff Lynne)
Album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

[Chorus 1: George Harrison]
Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand

[Verse 1: Tom Petty]
You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring
Waiting for someone to tell you everything
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring
Maybe a diamond ring

[Chorus 2: Jeff Lynne]
Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it’s all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay
Well it’s all right, everyday is Judgement Day

[Verse 2: Tom Petty]
Maybe somewhere down the road away
You’ll think of me, and wonder where I am these days
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays
Purple haze

[Chorus 3: Roy Orbison]
Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

[Verse 3: Tom Petty]
Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive
It don’t matter if you’re by my side
I’m satisfied

[Chorus 4: George Harrison]
Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say

[Jeff Lynne]
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive
Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please

[George Harrison]
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

https://genius.com/The-traveling-wilburys-end-of-the-line-lyrics

After a sports memorabilia show about three decades ago the self-proclaimed Legendary Georgia Ironman and I were at Spondivits, a bar with a seafood motif, when one of the songs, from the album, Tweeter and the Monkey Man began blasting from the excellent sound system. The late afternoon, early evening crowd broke into song, and we were with them. “Wow Mike,” the smiling Tim Brookshear, schooner filled with beer, said, “I’ve never been in a bar when everyone in the place sang along with the song!”

For that reason alone I nominate Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 for best Rock & Roll album of all-time.

Paul Magriel R.I.P.

I learned of the death of Paul Magriel from the excellent blog of Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/), in his ‘Trending Now’ section, ‘Chess in the News’. This led me to his obituary in the New York Times. These are excerpts:

Paul Magriel, Who Was Called the Best in Backgammon, Dies at 71

By Sam Roberts March 8, 2018

Paul Magriel,

a former youth chess champion who traded game boards to become known as the world’s best backgammon player, then turned to poker as his passion for gambling grew, died on Monday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 71.

After winning the New York State Junior Chess Championship at 19, Mr. Magriel (pronounced ma-GRILL) became fixated by backgammon, the 5,000-year-old dice-and-disk board game that combines luck, skill and speed.

Before the 1970s ended, Mr. Magriel had won the world backgammon championship and published what was acclaimed as the bible of backgammon. He was also writing a weekly column about the game for The New York Times.

In 1977, The Boston Globe described Mr. Magriel,

who by then had given up teaching math at a New Jersey college to play professionally, as “probably the best backgammon player in the world.”

His quirkiness and cunning gave backgammon currency.

“He was a big part of the reason for the backgammon boom that happened in the late ’70s and ’80s,” Erik Seidel, a stock trader who became a professional backgammon and poker player, said in an email.

Mr. Magriel could be philosophical on the subject of games. “Games are controlled violence,” he told Gambling Times magazine in 1978. “You can take out your frustrations and hostilities over a backgammon set, where the rules are clearly defined — in contrast to life, where the rules are not so well defined. In games, you know what’s right and wrong, legal versus illegal; whereas in life, you don’t.”

As a child, Paul was remembered as a savant who rarely answered questions and spoke only when he had something to say. After graduating from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and getting a perfect score on his college boards, he earned a bachelor’s degree in math from New York University. At. N.Y.U., he was a fellow of the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.

He was later a National Science Foundation fellow at Princeton University, where he specialized in probability. He taught at the Newark College of Engineering (now part of the Newark Institute of Technology) from 1969 to 1973.

Mr. Magriel made his transition from chess to backgammon in Greenwich Village, at hangouts like the Olive Tree Cafe, while he was a doctoral student at Princeton and on track to become a math professor there.

“Psychologically, backgammon is very different from chess,” Mr. Magriel said. “It’s an exercise in frustration — you can make the right moves and lose, or you can make the wrong moves and win. And chess didn’t have the gambling that I like.”

For all his expertise in any game that required mental acuity, Mr. Magriel found backgammon to be “the most frustrating, the cruelest.”

“The fascinating thing about backgammon is that it represents an interesting paradox,” he told The Boston Globe in 1977, adding: “People who want a sure thing don’t make it in backgammon. There are risks, yes, but on the other hand there is an enormous amount of control needed, something most gamblers lack.”

With Ms. Roberts, he wrote the seminal “Backgammon” (1976)

and “Introduction to Backgammon: A Step-By-Step Guide” (1978). His Times column appeared from 1977 to 1980.

Wrote the Book on Backgammon

“When it came to games, Magriel loved them all. At just 19, he became the New York State Junior Chess Champion while studying at New York University, where he would graduate a year later with a BA in mathematics.

However, his real expertise was in backgammon, which is where he earned his “X-22” nickname. He was the 1978 World Backgammon Champion and co-wrote both “Backgammon,” still considered the game’s bible, and “An Introduction to Backgammon: A Step-By-Step Guide,” both published in 1976.

He was profiled in the New Yorker, which is where he explained how he came to be known as X-22.

“I used to play backgammon against myself and once I had a private tournament with 64 imaginary entrants, whom I designated X-l, X-2, and so forth, through X-64,” he said. “In the final, X-22 was pitted against X-34, and X-22 won.” (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1985/05/27/game-9)

Magriel, who wrote weekly backgammon columns for The New York Times from 1977-1980, was considered one of backgammon’s best teachers and thinkers. He is thought to have won the most major backgammon tournaments in the world.”
https://www.cardschat.com/news/rip-paul-magriel-backgammon-legend-known-as-x-22-dies-at-71-59717

Remembering Paul Magriel

“He was a math wizard, who loved numbers and relished the opportunity to solve complex puzzles. At night, he played games. During the day, he was a math instructor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he worked for seven years before deciding to finally put away the chalk and take up backgammon (and later poker playing) for a living, because the money was just too good a thing to pass up and there were plenty of suckers who wanted a game.

Back then, backgammon was a high-stakes web of rich people and cultural elites who gathered nightly at posh social clubs. Paul’s immersion onto that privileged scene, first in New York City then later around the world at the most exclusive resorts, was every bit as momentous as the indelible impact on games and gambling left by Ken Uston

and Stu Ungar,


The 1980 WSOP, where Stu won his first Main Event title, was also the first time he played Texas Hold’em. The Legendary Doyle Brunson is on the left.

every bit his contemporaries.”
http://www.nolandalla.com/remembering-paul-magriel/

RIP Paul Magriel: Backgammon Legend and Poker Player Known as X-22, “Quack, Quack,” Dies at 71
March 7th, 2018 by Chad Holloway

“To poker fans, Paul Magriel was the wild player who would often say, “Quack, quack.” What most don’t know is that Magriel, who died in his sleep on Monday at age 71, was to backgammon what Doyle Brunson

is to poker.”
https://www.cardschat.com/news/rip-paul-magriel-backgammon-legend-known-as-x-22-dies-at-71-59717

Although I never met Paul he had a HUGE on my life through his book. BACKGAMMON influenced me in the same way Chess Openings: Theory And Practice by I. A. Horowitz

influenced me in Chess.

About the time a new bar/restaurant named GAMMONS opened in the Peachtree-Piedmont shopping plaza in the Buckhead section of Atlanta his book was published. I spent the first week eating dinner after work and nursing a beer while watching the “action.” Those were the only alcoholic drinks ever consumed at GAMMONS. One night Steven Moffitt, a former junior Chess champion of Texas, entered. Steve was a professor of statistics and probabilities at Emory University at the time. We met in San Antonio in 1972 during the Church’s Fried Chicken Chess tournament. He greeted me warmly, asking if I would play a couple of speed Chess games. My reply was, “Only if they are fifteen minute games.” He smiled, and agreed. Steve was higher rated, but both games ended in hard fought draws. He had also come early from work and the sight of us playing Chess caused raised eyebrows as the regulars entered. Those two games were the only Chess games ever played at Gammons.

Steve mentioned a Backgammon book I needed to read. It was Paul Magriel’s book. As it turned out his advice was some of the best advice ever received in my life. I was not seen again at Gammons until the book was devoured. The first match I played at Gammons was with a regular, Rick Calhoun. I took a lead never relinquished. When time to pay Rick offered a check, which bounced. The next time I entered GAMMONS, I spotted Rick playing in a chouette, and walked straight to the table, whereupon I laid the rubber check, saying, “Make it right or step outside!” He did not have the money, but some of the other regulars produced the money, hoping to avoid any negative publicity. It was the only check I ever took from any Backgammon player.

Later Steve said they had wondered who was the fellow who came every night to watch. Knowing Steve told them I was a player. Calling Rick out said to them I was a player to be reckoned with…

During research for this post I found the following:

“I do not recommend this book to beginners. Yes, it was a masterpiece at the time it was written, and it is incredibly clear, but I rolled out the Advanced section — excluding the openings chapter — about 322 positions, and found 27 percent of them incorrect. I do not want to put wrong ideas into beginners’ heads by recommending Paul Magriel’s book when there are better books available. I recommend Backgammon Boot Camp instead because it contains some match theory and has a lot more about doubling theory. You can learn a lot if you roll out the positions and think about what Magriel got right and wrong.”

He is correct in that Paul’s book was an introduction to how Backgammon should be played. What it did was make me THINK critically about the game. QUESTION EVERYTHING! Think for yourself. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you.” (http://bobdylan.com/songs/rolling-stone/)

Backgammon Boot Camp was published in 2004, decades after I stopped playing Backgammon and went back to Chess, so I have not read it. Notice it is unsigned. Here are a couple of other, signed, comments about Paul’s book, a book known as the “Bible of Backgammon”:

“The best introduction to the game. Covers basic checker play very well. If you read and thoroughly understand this book, you’ll play a decent game. Weaknesses—skimpy treatment of the doubling cube.”—Marty Storer, May 1992

“By far the most complete book on the game. A must for the serious minded backgammon enthusiast. It carefully explains the game’s basic concepts, ideas and strategic principles.”—Butch Meese, January 1984 (http://www.bkgm.com/books/Magriel-Backgammon.html)

Paul’s book helped me to become a decent player. Two books by Danny Kleinman, Vision Laughs at Counting: With Advice to the Dicelorn,

part one & two, helped elevate me to another, much higher, level. (http://www.bkgm.com/books/Kleinman-VisionLaughsAtCountingVol1.html)

Some years later, after “retiring” from BG, I encountered a young man who had earlier asked my advice on how to become stronger at Backgammon and I mentioned the Kleinman books. “I read the books you mentioned and am now the strongest player in Atlanta,” he proudly boasted. “I do not know how to thank you,” he said. “You just did,” I replied.

There were many good Backgammon players at GAMMONS. There was a tournament every Monday night.. Tom Daniel, a Viet Nam vet, won more than his share of those tournaments. There were two women, Kathy, from Chicago, and Debbie, who excelled at the nightly tournament. The real players, the money players, played in the tournament, but could not wait to get into action where the money was…Neither Kathy, or Debbie won any of the weekend tournaments, where the matches were longer and the pressure higher. The competition was fierce, with players coming from several different states to play. Then there were the traveling Backgammon players who took their ego’s on the road. Only two players finished in top places two tournaments in a row. One was Steve Moffitt, who took top prize back to back in tournaments with names long forgotten. The other was this writer, who finished second twice in a row. Former Chess player, and budding Doctor, Frank Blaydes, whom I had known from Chess, and his friend Mark watched while writing down the moves, as I lost to a dentist in the first round. “He was lucky,” they said. “Remember what I told you guys,” I answered. “I know, I know,” said Frank, “I’d rather be lucky than good, ’cause when I’m good and lucky I can’t be beat!” Fortunately for me it was a double elimination event, and I was able to get to the final from the elimination group, a first. My opponent, the dentist, said, “I was hoping it would not be you.” Once again Frank and Mark took notation. Once again the dentist was lucky, besting me again in a long match, in which I was the heavy favorite in the side betting. I could not contain myself. “You were lucky,” said I. “You are not as good as you think,” he retorted. I challenged him to continue the match the following night, which was Monday. He entered the tournament; I did not. He lost his match and it was game on. I won all the prize money he had won from the weekend tournament, plus some…Frankly, I cleaned his clock. He was never seen again…

That’s the way it is in Backgammon. Former Georgia State Chess Champion Bob Joiner played BG at Gammons. He had the misfortune to win a weekend tournament. I say misfortune because he was not a top player. Winning the tournament made him think he was now a top player. He began to play the best, and began to lose money, then had the wherewithal to stop playing. After retiring Bob came to the Atlanta Chess Center where I was working. I asked him why he had stopped playing Backgammon. He was honest enough to say, “Because I was losing too much.” We had never played Backgammon, but I would visit him at his office when he was a well respected Public Defender where we would have lunch while playing Backgammon.

One of the weekend tournaments I won was named the Georgia Championship. Another was the Atlanta Championship, which made me the only person ever to become the Atlanta Champion in both Backgammon and Chess.

http://pokerdb.thehendonmob.com/player.php?a=r&n=466

X-22 knocks out the Brat

I Am a Hou YiFAN!

When I began playing chess seriously what now seems like a lifetime ago the French defense gave me trouble. The defense also gave Bobby Fischer trouble; the loss to Edmar Mednis comes to mind. I experimented with all the “tried and true” variations, but did not feel comfortable with any of them. then Branko Vujakovic, an exchange student in Atlanta from Yugoslavia, and a strong player, showed me the variation, 1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 c5 4 Nf3 Nc6 5 Bd3!? White usually plays 5 c3, or even 4 c3. the idea is to sac a pawn for development after 5…cxd4 6 0-0. Although it has been called the Milner-Barry, it actually has no name, as far as I can ascertain. NiC has it listed under “C02,” while http://www.365chess also has it as “C02, advance, Nimzovich system.” I liked the variation because it was little known. Because of that I was able to score several knock-outs, including one over Roger Sample, may he R.I.P. The game was played in a tournament in the Great State of Tennessee. We both smoked cigarettes then and Roger suggested we play in his hotel room so we could smoke, and I wholeheartedly agreed. The TD allowed us to do so, with the proviso that, “If there any problems you are on your own as to how to settle it. I just want to know the outcome.” I sacked a Knight on f7 and attacked Roger like a wild man, winning the game. When I saw Roger decades later he said, “I still have Knightmares about your move.” I also recall being on the road with Branko somewhere, sometime, and playing the variation against an expert (with my being a class “D” player). I played like Branko had taught me, advancing my h-pawn, opening up his castled position. Someone my opponent knew was standing, looking at the position, when my opponent looked up and plaintively said, “Would you look at that. Hardly out of the opening and I’m busted…”
My chess “bible” was “Chess Openings: Theory and Practice” by I.A. Horowitz. This particular opening was listed under “UNUSUAL VARIATIONS.” I found that appealing. A variation from Alekhine-Euwe from Nottingham, 1936 is mentioned in the notes, but there was one full game:
Igor Bondarevsky v Mikhail Botvinnik
Absolute Championship Leningrad/Moscow 1941
Round: 2 Score: 0-1
ECO: C02 French, advance, Nimzovich system
1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. O-O Bc5 7. a3 Nge7 8. Nbd2 Ng6 9. Nb3 Bb6 10. Re1 Bd7 11. g3 f6 12. Bxg6+ hxg6 13. Qd3 Kf7 14. h4 Qg8 15. Bd2 Qh7 16. Bb4 g5 17. Qxh7 Rxh7 18. exf6 gxf6 19. hxg5 e5 20. gxf6 Kxf6 21. Bd6 Re8 22. Nh4 Rg8 23. Kh2 Bf5 24. Re2 d3 25. Rd2 dxc2 26. f4 Be3 27. Bxe5+ Nxe5 28. fxe5+ Ke7 29. Rf1 c1=Q 0-1
This loss did not deter me from essaying the Nimzovich system. But my opponents began to study the opening and I needed to find another variation with which I was comfortable. “Seek and you shall find.” I sought, and found, the answer in “Theory and Practice.” You will not be surprised to learn I “discovered” the variation once again in the “UNUSUAL VARIATIONS” section. This is the only complete game with my new variation contained in T&P:
Mikhail Chigorin – Hermann Von Gottschall
Barmewi, 1905
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. f4 Nc6 4. Nf3 Be7 5. Nc3 d5 6. d3 d4 7. Nd1 Nf6 8. g3 b5 9. Bg2 Ba6 10. O-O Rc8 11. b3 c4 12. Ne1 cxd3 13. cxd3 O-O 14. Bd2 Qb6 15. Nf2 Nb4 16. Qd1 Bb7 17. a3 Nc6 18. g4 a5 19. g5 Nd7 20. Ng4 b4 21. a4 Nc5 22. Rf3 f5 23. gxf6 Bxf6 24. Rh3 Bd8 25. Rc1 Rc7 26. Rh5 Nb8 27. Ne5 Nbd7 28. Nc4 Qa6 29. Rb1 Nf6 30. Rh3 Ncd7 31. Nf3 Qa7 32. Qe2 Nc5 33. Nfe5 Ncd7 34. Kh1 Nxe5 35. fxe5 Ne8 36. Rg1 Rcf7 37. Qh5 g6 38. Bf3 Rg7 39. Qg4 Bc8 40. Bh6 Qe7 41. Be2 Bc7 42. Bxg7 Qxg7 43. Qg5 Bd7 44. Rhg3 Rf7 45. h4 Kh8 46. h5 gxh5 47. Bxh5 Qxg5 48. Rxg5 Rf8 49. Bf7 1-0
I was hooked. Who was Mikhail Chigorin? I tried to discover as much as possible about the player, and it was not easy “back in the day.” It took months, YEARS, to find all I could about the man responsible for 2 Qe2. Who would play such a move? What would GM Reuben Fine, PhD, say about a player who moves the Queen to e2 leaving the King in her rear? I managed to locate the games of the famous match between Siegbert Tarrasch and Chigorin in which the move Qe2 was played eleven times by the latter, scoring six wins, two draws, with three losses. 365Chess shows an astounding FIFTY games played by Chigorin with 2 Qe2 (http://www.365chess.com/search_result.php?search=1&m=3&n=118&ms=e4.e6.Qe2&wid=158099). For this Mikhail had twenty five wins, ten draws, and fifteen losses.
After reading the above you may have an idea of how elated I was upon discovering Hou Yifan essayed Qe2 against Harika at the recently completed Lopata Women’s Grand Prix. It is rare to see a game with the early Quees move by such a strong player.
Hou Yifan – Dronavalli Harika
Lopota WGP 2014 Lopota GEO , Rd 8 2014.06.27
1.e4 e6 2.Qe2 c5 3.Nf3 Nc6 4.g3 d6 5.Bg2 g6 6.O-O Bg7 7.c3 e5 8.a4 Nge7 9.Na3 O-O 10.Nc4 h6 11.d3 Be6 12.Bd2 Re8 13.h3 b6 14.Rfe1 Qd7 15.b4 cxb4 16.cxb4 d5 17.exd5 Bxd5 18.Nfxe5 Nxe5 19.Nxe5 Qb7 20.f4 Nf5 21.Qf2 Nd4 22.Rac1 Rad8 23.Bc3 Qa8 24.b5 Nb3 25.Rc2 Nc5 26.Bb4 Bxe5 27.Bxc5 Bxg2 28.Rxe5 Rxe5 29.fxe5 Bxh3 30.Bd6 Qd5 31.Qe3 Re8 32.Re2 Bg4 33.Qe4 Qxe4 34.Rxe4 Bf5 35.Rc4 Bxd3 36.Rc7 Ra8 37.Kf2 Bf5 38.Ke3 Be6 39.Kd4 g5 40.Rb7 h5 41.Rb8+ Rxb8 42.Bxb8 h4 43.gxh4 gxh4 44.Ke3 Bb3 45.Bxa7 Bxa4 46.Bxb6 Bxb5 47.Kf4 Bd7 48.Bd8 h3 49.Kg3 Be6 50.Bf6 Bf5 51.Bd8 Be6 52.Bf6 Bf5 53.Bd8 ½-½
8 a4 appears to be a TN. While researching the opening on http://www.365chess.com and http://database.chessbase.com/js/apps/onlinedb/ I found two games in which GM Kevin Spraggett, the man responsible for the best chess blog, “Spraggett on Chess” (http://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/) had to face 2 Qe2.
Lawrence A Day v Kevin Spraggett
C00 Toronto Summer op 2000
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. a3 Nge7 9. b4 O-O 10. Bb2 b6 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. d3 h6 13. Nbd2 Bb7 14. Nc4 Rad8 15. b5 Nb8 16. a4 d5 17. exd5 Nxd5 18. Re1 Rfe8 19. Qc2 Nd7 20. Qb3 N7f6 21. Nfxe5 Nh5 22. d4 Re6 23. Nc6 Rxe1+ 24. Rxe1 Bxc6 25. bxc6 cxd4 26. cxd4 Qxc6 27. Ne5 Qe6 28. Rc1 Ndf4 29. Qxe6 Nxe6 30. Nc6 Rd7 31. Ne5 Rd8 32. Nc6 Rd7 33. Ne5 1/2-1/2
Igor Ivanov v Kevin Spraggett
C00 Montreal m 1981
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. b4 cxb4 9. cxb4 Nxb4 10. Nc3 Ne7 11. Rb1 Nbc6 12. Ba3 O-O 13. Nb5 Bg4 14. Nxd6 b6 15. Qc4 h6 16. h3 Be6 17. Qc2 Qd7 18. Kh2 Rfb8 19. Rfe1 Nc8 20. Nb5 a6 21. Nc3 b5 22. Nd5 N8e7 23. Rec1 Rb7 24. Qc5 Rab8 25. Bb2 Kh7 26. Nxe7 Nxe7 27. Bxe5 Rc8 28. Qe3 Bxa2 29. Rxc8 Qxc8 30. Ra1 Be6 31. Bxg7 Kxg7 32. d4 Rb8 33. d5 Bd7 34. Qd4+ Kh7 35. Qf6 Qf8 36. Rxa6 Ng8 37. Qf4 b4 38. Ra7 1-0
Jaan Ehlvest – Robert Huebner
C00 Rubinstein mem 32nd 1995
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O d6 7. c3 e5 8. d3 Nge7 9. Nh4 O-O 10. f4 f5 11. Nd2 exf4 12. gxf4 Kh8 13. Ndf3 Be6 14. Ng5 1/2-1/2
Ian Nepomniachtchi (2704) v David Navarra (2722)
Event: 28th European Club Cup
Site: Eilat ISR Date: 10/12/2012
Round: 2
ECO: B40 Sicilian defence
1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. Qe2 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. O-O Bg7 7. c3 e5 8. Na3 Nge7 9. Nc2 O-O 10. Rd1 Qb6 11. b3 Be6 12. Bb2 c4 13. Ng5 cxb3 14. Ne3 bxa2 15. Nxe6 fxe6 16. Ba3 Qb3 17. Bxd6 Rfd8 18. Bxe7 Nxe7 19. Qc4 Qxc4 20. Nxc4 b5 21. Ne3 a5 22. Rxa2 b4 23. Rda1 b3 24. Rxa5 Rxa5 25. Rxa5 b2 26. Rb5 Rxd2 27. Bf1 Nc6 28. Nc4 Rc2 29. Rxb2 Rxc3 30. Bh3 Nd4 31. Rb8+ Kf7 32. Rb7+ Kf8 33. Bf1 Nf3+ 34. Kg2 Ne1+ 35. Kh3 h5 36. Rb1 Nf3 37. Kg2 Ng5 38. Rb8+ Ke7 39. Rb7+ Kf8 40. Nd6 h4 41. h3 Kg8 42. Be2 hxg3 43. h4 Bf8 44. Rb8 Nf7 45. Nxf7 Kxf7 46. fxg3 Rc2 47. Kf3 Bc5 48. Rb7+ Kf6 49. Bb5 Rf2+ 50. Kg4 Rb2 51. Bc6 Rxb7 1/2-1/2
Igor Glek (2575) v Stephen Brady (2320)
Event: EU-Cup 21st
Site: Saint Vincent Date: 09/20/2005
Round: 3 Score: 1-0
ECO: C00 French, Chigorin variation
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. g3 d6 5. Bg2 g6 6. c3 Bg7 7. h4 h5 8. d3 Bd7 9. Na3 Nh6 10. Nc4 Qc7 11. a4 Ng4 12. Ng5 Bh6 13. O-O Nge5 14. Ne3 f6 15. Nh3 Ne7 16. d4 Nf7 17. f4 cxd4 18. cxd4 Rc8 19. Bd2 Qb6 20. Bc3 Bg7 21. f5 gxf5 22. Nf4 Bh6 23. exf5 e5 24. Ned5 Nxd5 25. Nxd5 Qd8 26. dxe5 dxe5 27. Kh2 Bf8 28. Nf4 Be7 29. Ng6 1-0
I discovered Stoltz played Qe2 eleven times, winning four, losing five, with two draws. (http://www.365chess.com/search_result.php?submit_search=1&eco=C00&wid=154632#)
Goesta Stoltz – Mikhail Botvinnik
Staunton mem 1946
1. e4 e6 2. Qe2 c5 3. g3 Nc6 4. Bg2 Nge7 5. Nc3 g6 6. d3 Bg7 7. Be3 d5 8. exd5 Nd4 9. Qd2 exd5 10. Nce2 h6 11. Qc1 Bf5 12. c3 Nxe2 13. Nxe2 d4 14. Bd2 Bxd3 15. Bxb7 O-O 16. Bf3 g5 17. O-O Ng6 18. Re1 Ne5 19. Bg2 Ba6 20. Qd1 Nd3 21. Qa4 Qf6 22. f4 Rae8 23. Bc6 Nxe1 24. Bxe8 Nf3+ 25. Kf2 Nxd2 26. Bc6 Bxe2 27. Kxe2 dxc3 28. bxc3 Qxc3 29. Rd1 Rd8 30. Be4 gxf4 31. gxf4 Qh3 32. Rg1 Qh5+ 33. Ke3 Qh3+ 34. Ke2 Qxh2+ 35. Rg2 Qh5+ 36. Ke3 Qh3+ 37. Ke2 Qe6 0-1
White may not win every game, but every game will be interesting!