What Happens at Chess Club

I attended the Chess club Thursday night at the local Barnes & Noble bookstore. Because of my age and having only recently sufficiently recovered from illness I informed the TD I would be willing to act as a “filler” in the event there were an odd number of players and would only play in the first two rounds.

Having attended the previous week, the first time I had made it in some time, a few new players were noticed, which the gentleman who runs the club attributed to the recently finished match for the Human World Chess Championship. Most, if not all, of the players who attend are so hungry for a game they play “skittles” games before the G/15 event begins. There was a “newby” who caught my eye because he was wearing sandals during winter. He looked as though he would have fit in at Woodstock in 1969, so I spoke to the young man, saying, “You gotta like a guy who refuses to give in to winter.” His name was Dawson and he was ready to play, someone…anyone, so we sat down for a game after introductions. I had the white pieces and opened with 1 e4. He responded with the French move of 1…e6. After playing the standard 2 d4 he answered with 2…d5, whereupon I advanced my pawn to e5 on my third move. My opponent stopped to cogitate a few moments before playing 3…Nc6 with obvious trepidation, which showed when he kept his finger on the Knight after placing it gingerly on the square. As he did so I took a good look at him while thinking he appeared about the same age as I was when first visiting an official Chess club. He finally removed his finger from the Knight. I continued looking at the young man, wondering if I should say anything…Before speaking a particular scene from one of my favorite movies flashed in my mind:

When he looked up from the board I said, “At the Chess Club we do not, ever, hold our finger on a piece. When you decide upon your move, make it like you mean it and place it firmly on the square with deliberation, and immediately remove your fingers from the piece.”

The young fellow was somewhat taken aback, but gathered himself quickly and nodded in assent. I continued, “Are you playing in the tournament?” He said he was not. “Then I suggest you spend some time watching these gentlemen play, paying particular attention to how they move their pieces.” Again, he nodded. I did not have to mention it again.

Granted, I am no longer the player I was earlier in my life, and having played over many of the games from the recent World Senior Chess Championship,
(http://www.wscc2018.european-chessacademy.com/index.php/en/) I realize how much of a decline there is for an old(er) player, especially in the 65+ section, which is now my category. That said, the young fellow played a decent game, developing his pieces in the opening without any extraneous pawn moves or outright blunders. We arrived at about an even position in the early middle game, before he made a mistake, moving his a-pawn aggressively, but weakening his b-pawn in the process. I secured my b-pawn by playing a3, then picked off his undefended b-pawn. A few moves later there was a tactical skirmish in which I came out a piece ahead, and he sort of went downhill from there. The game ended in mate by my newly minted Queen protected by a lone Knight.

“You played very well, young man,” I said. There were a couple of players watching the game and they seconded my remark. He said graciously, “I appreciate your saying that, sir.” We talked and I learned he was twenty years old, the same age as was I when I first went to the Atlanta Chess club. He mentioned coming because he was beating the players with whom he had been playing and wanted better competition. Wondering how he could play such a decent game I asked if he read any Chess books. “Not really,” he said. “But I’ve been on Chess.com and watched many YouTube videos.”

The tournament began and I was not needed, fortunately. This gave me an opportunity to watch some of the action, talk with some of those who come and play without playing in the tourney, and those who come to simply “hang-out.” It was immensely enjoyable. I watched Dawson play one of the young players who is not a member of the USCF (“It costs $30!”) but comes to play skittles. Dawson was a piece down but came back to win the game.

After becoming a Senior I began staying home at night for a reason. Although exhausted after being at the Chess Club I was unable to sleep soundly and the next day, Friday, was not one of my better days, so I took it easy and relaxed, spending much time reading, and listening to programs via the internet.

Fortunately, Saturday was a totally different story. I read while having my first cuppa joe. After breakfast the web was surfed. Chess is usually saved for last and one of the sites I visit every day is GM Kevin Spraggett’s

website (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/). He has a “Chess News” scroll, “What is Happening Today?” I clicked on the ones new to me and began reading. I read every article and there were many on AlphaZero. I even read an editorial by Garry Kasparov

in Science magazine. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/362/6419/1087) Then I clicked on to read Mastering board games, by Murray Campbell.

I had intended on watching several videos by GM Matthew Sadler concerning the recent World Human Chess Championship games, but discovered videos at Chess24 in the article, AlphaZero really is that good (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/alphazero-really-is-that-good). I watched every video contained in the article superbly elucidated by GM Sadler. I was had by hook, line and sinker, after watching the first one, All-in Defence, “A true Najdorf brawl.”

The Najdorf was my first love. Like many others I played it because Bobby Fischer played the opening. With Bobby the Najdorf was an offensive defense.

While watching the Najdorf “brawl” I noticed another Sadler video over on the right and it looked like the position could have emanated from the Leningrad Dutch, my “second love.” I clicked on and, sure enough, it was a Leningrad! I was compelled to watch.

As if that were not enough I noticed a video by GM Ben Finegold, who married a woman in my home city of Atlanta and they opened the new Atlanta Chess Club & Scholastic Center. (https://atlchessclub.com/) The video is Capablanca Endgames with GM Ben Finegold.

I enjoyed Ben’s commentary while thinking, “I wish the internet existed in 1970.” How can young players, and even older players, not be far superior to those of my generation with tools like this, and the best players giving great advice away for practically nothing? Why would anyone pay someone to teach Chess?

In an email to Karen I wrote, “I did surf over to Twitch the other day to listen to the lonely Ben comment on the game. I was thinking it must be very difficult to do it alone for a long period of time…Ben the Maytag repairman…”

Karen replied, ” I don’t think he gets lonely streaming …. he seems to enjoy it and likes to talk a lot so it works out.” Ben talks a lot because he has something useful to say. He is like the old EF Hutton TV commercial. “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

Other articles read:

AlphaZero: Shedding new light on the grand games of chess, shogi and Go
https://deepmind.com/blog/alphazero-shedding-new-light-grand-games-chess-shogi-and-go/

Updated AlphaZero Crushes Stockfish In New 1,000-Game Match
https://www.chess.com/news/view/updated-alphazero-crushes-stockfish-in-new-1-000-game-match

Inside the (deep) mind of AlphaZero
by Albert Silver
https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-full-alphazero-paper-is-published-at-long-last

Three new articles were found before writing this post at Spaggett On Chess and I intend on reading them later today, even the one by discredited economist and former GM Ken Rogoff:

Commentary: Where is the fun of playing chess against a robot? by Kenneth Rogoff
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/commentary/why-human-classic-chess-survives-even-with-technology-chess-ai-10980248

Saudi Arabia calls Israel’s bluff
If Saudis do not feel like welcoming Israelis on their lands, they are perfectly right


Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Image Credit: AFP

Published: December 08, 2018 16:39 Tariq A. Al Maeena, Special to Gulf News
https://gulfnews.com/opinion/op-eds/saudi-arabia-calls-israels-bluff-1.60805086

Chess Is An Important Part Of Russian Soft Power
by Joseph Hammond December 3, 2018

https://tsarizm.com/analysis/2018/12/03/chess-part-russia-soft-power/

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How The World Sees The Trumpster

England


A man takes a picture of a mural by English street artist Bambi depicting British Prime Minister Theresa May dancing with US President Donald Trump in London on February 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP/Getty Images


A woman runs along a towpath near graffiti depicting U.S. President Donald Trump on a canal bridge in east London, Britain, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville[/caption]

Bulgaria


Mural depicting US President Donald Trump is seen on a wall as part of Mural Festival in the village of Staro Zhelezare, Bulgaria, Wednesday 26 July 2017. Outdoor murals on the walls of houses in the village of Staro Zhelezare feature local people alongside well known figures from the worlds of politics and religion. (Photo by Valentina Petrova/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

China

This photo taken on December 24, 2016 shows a giant chicken sculpture outside a shopping mall in Taiyuan, north China’s Shanxi province.
A Chinese shopping mall is ringing in the year of the cock with a giant sculpture of a chicken that looks like US president-elect Donald Trump. / AFP / STR / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil

Months after pro- and anti-Trump protesters clashed violently in São Paulo, displeased demonstrators returned to the streets on the day of his inauguration.

Indonesia


A man cycles past graffiti condemning US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on a street in Surabaya, Indonesia’s east Java on October 17, 2016. / AFP / JUNI KRISWANTO/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland

A mural lampooning US President Donald Trump in Dublin’s Temple Bar by artist ADW. (Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Israel


Tourists walk past a graffiti by street artist Lushsux, depicting US President Donald Trump kissing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drawn on the controversial Israeli separation barrier separating the West Bank town of Bethlehem from Jerusalem, on October 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images


In the days after Trump’s election, a souvenir shop sold politically satirical merchandise in Jerusalem’s Old City, including items depicting Trump as a Hasidic Jew and Barack Obama donning a kaffiyeh. Israelis, on the whole, preferred Hillary Clinton in the election, but Hasidic Jews have expressed approval of Trump’s alignment with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the fact that his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism.

Italy


Many Italians see Trump as the American version of Silvio Berlusconi, the flamboyant media tycoon turned prime minister. In late October, artist Dario Gambarin remade a cornfield outside Verona into a colossal portrait of Trump. “In Italy, we say ‘ciao’ to say hello and goodbye,” Gambarin told Inside Edition. “I am saying hello if he becomes president and goodbye if he doesn’t.” Trump, he added, “would not make a good president.”
Dario Gambarin | Getty Images


The Carnival of Viareggio, an annual Mardis Gras parade hosted by the Tuscan city of Viareggio, is traditionally celebrated with giant papier-mâché floats depicting caricatures of popular characters and politicians. This year, parade floats featured elaborate masks of Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Getty Images

Mexico

Detail of the mural paint made by Mexican artist Luis Sotelo called “We are migrants not criminals” (Somos migrantes no delincuentes) in Tonatico, Mexico, on 25 June 2016.
The mural is part of the cultural movement “Stop Trump”. / AFP / MARIO VAZQUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

View of a graffiti painted against US President Donald Trump in Mexico City on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images


In Mexico City, graffiti denounced Trump on the day of his inauguration.
Getty Images

Picture of a graffiti against US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump painted by an unknown artist on the embankment of the Bravo River on the border with the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico, on June 28, 2016. / AFP / JESUS ALCAZAR/AFP/Getty Images


A mural reading “Todos somos migrantes” (“We are all migrants”) in Tijuana sits close to the U.S.-Mexican border.
Getty Images

Spain

A man takes pictures of a graffiti of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Barcelona on June 7, 2016. / AFP / JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

Lithuania

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA – MARCH 17: A mural of U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘shotgunning’ a marijuana joint is seen on March 17, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Trump has decreased his tweeting of praise for his Russian counterpart as the former’s administration has found itself on the defensive amidst investigations into Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections last year. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Serbia


The Cyrillic words at the center of this painting of Trump and Putin in Belgrade read “Kosovo is Serbia,” a nod to Serbia’s, and Russia’s, refusal to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty. Trump’s candidacy has renewed enthusiasm for the United States among Serbia’s ultranationalists, many of whom see him as an ally in their opposition to globalization.
Getty Images

Russia


In Russia, where Trump’s friendliness with Putin has been well-received, Trump has begun to appear in commercial contexts, including on a commemorative smartphone case released shortly after his election and on sugar boxes at a supermarket in the city of Tula.
Getty Images

USA

A Donald Trump mural covers a building in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on October 27, 2016.
The Anti-Trump, batman themed mural was created by the artists of the Bushwick Collective ahead of the US presidential election. / AFP / RHONA WISE /AFP/Getty Images

Chess in Schools and Communities Initiative

LM Brian McCarthy left a comment on the previous post and provided a very interesting link. Brian writes, “Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on primary school children’s cognitive development. She debunks every last study before hers as being flawed by low numbers as you say or bad methodology or both. Her’s is hard to find fault with, unless you want every grade tested in the same fashion.”

I would urge anyone with interest in this subject to read what Susan has to say. For example, I quoted GM Yasser Seirwan in the previous post concerning the “Margulies” study. This is what Susan has to say about that particular study:

“In the South Bronx NYC, Stuart Margulies (1990 – 1992) conducted a study to look at changes in reading scores after chess instruction. Mid-elementary school children joined chess clubs at school. In the 1st year, they received instruction by chess masters. In the 2nd year, they also participated in computer-supported chess activities. Chess club membership was voluntary. Before the study began, students were assessed, using a standardised reading test. In this instance, the “control” group was the National Norm for the same grade students in the same school district. Students in the chess group made greater improvements than the national norm. However, since the chess group had higher pre-test scores than the control, Margulies aimed to address the selection bias, by comparing the chess group scores with those of a non-chess control group, consisting of children with pre-test scores comparable to the chess group. But again, the chess group showed more gains than the control group. However, Margulies himself, is quick to point out that “chess participants form a pool of intellectually gifted and talented students. Students who join this group make contact with a core of high achievers and thereby develop more academic interest, speak at higher levels of standard speech……”

Brian also provides a link to a page which contains an interesting study recently conducted in Great Britain by “the “Chess in Schools and Communities” Initiative (CSC) set up by International Chess Master, Malcolm Pein.” A link can be found in Brian’s comment, and I will provide a link to the PDF of “Susan Sallon explores the impact of chess on primary school children’s cognitive development.” (http://www.chessinschools.co.uk/download/research/Susan_Sallon_Dissertation.pdf)

This study appears to be very good news for the effect chess can have on students. It is possible that this is the best news of any study yet conducted on chess and education, at least from a chess perspective. Kudos to LM Brian McCarthy for sharing this information!

Former GCA Board member Tim Payne, who resigned from the board, along with the man I hope becomes the next President of the Georgia Chess Association, Frank Johnson, sends information about the “largest study in world about impact of chess on education is underway in Israel.” – http://www.israel21c.org/social-action-2/can-chess-make-you-smarter/

In an article, Can chess make you smarter? by Viva Sarah Press, dated January 23, 2013, we learn, “Boris Gelfand made all the right moves to become Israel’s highest-ranking chess player. Now, he’s partnering up with an Israeli university to launch the country’s first scientific research project focused on chess. The Grandmaster Chess Research Project is a one-of-a-kind initiative to develop a novel academic approach to the skills and culture of chess-playing that can, in turn, contribute to social and scientific development.”

We also learn, “Gelfand’s ranking as vice world champion is what triggered the Grandmaster Chess Research Project.” That is the first time in my four and a half decades I have heard anyone called a “vice world chess champion” although I will admit to having heard some called the “world champion of vice.”

“The program will provide an opportunity to achieve breakthrough research and social outreach in a field that has not yet been fully explored,” said University of Haifa Vice President and Dean of Research Prof. Michal Yerushalmy. The researchers will examine the impact of chess on students’ abilities in math, language acquisition, and other areas.”

“I am sure this will make our society better,” Gelfand said during a toast to launch the new research initiative. “I know leading intellectual professionals who succeeded thanks to their playing chess in school and continued playing alongside their professional development.”
(http://www.israel21c.org/social-action-2/can-chess-make-you-smarter/)

My thanks to Tim Payne for sharing the information. Many detract from, but only a few “add to” the discussion, and I appreciate those, like Brian and Tim, who have added something pertinent. The more one knows the better the chances of obtaining the truth, at least in theory.