From the above results one would think maybe there was something to the Colorado Gambit, but if so, why was this writer unaware of its potency? It was late at night when first reviewing the game, so I decided to input the first two moves into the analysis program at Lichess.com just for the hellofit, and sat there way past bedtime watching the game unfold. The result was a surprise, to say the least…
What seems a lifetime ago a fellow high school classmate who lived up the street, Jesse Pettit, said, “The way you feel about Bob Dylan is how I feel about John Denver.” This one is dedicated to Jesse.
The intention was to write a post today concerning a few of the games, and positions of the recent US Chess Championships, to follow the previous post, but a couple of emails from regular readers recently changed my mind. One reader wanted to know if I could recommend one article that would bring him up to speed with the events of the Magnus Carlsen caused affair. This caused me to smile. One article. Ha! I have read so much on the subject it has made my eyes bleed, and this guy wants one article that is a be all and end all article…
The other reader asked a question that is on every mind of everyone involved with Chess. “How will this affect the future of Chess?”
Is that a loaded question, or what? I am no soothsayer. Nevertheless, how can all the negative publicity do anything but harm the Royal Game? Then again, the recent cheating scandals in Major League Baseball by the Houston Astros, now called by many the “Cheating ‘stros,” has not ended MLB, although the people who watch the game has dwindled to alarmingly low numbers, but then, MLB has been losing interest for other reasons ever since the Ragin’ Roid’ scandal and the Bud Selig caused premature end of the 1994 season. Then there is the New England Patriots serial cheating which has not appeared to diminish the number of fans. The title of one article tells the story: A timeline of Patriots scandals: Spygate, Deflategate and other controversial incidents under Bill Belichick (https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/patriots-spygate-deflategate-bill-belichick-timeline/ovkdjh8ny5qb1fnns9grat5mk). Just type in “Patriots” and “Cheating” into any search engine and you will be inundated with a plethora of maimball cheating articles.
As luck would have it I surfed over to the excellent website of Daiim Shabazz,
The Chess Drum,
recently, something I had put off because of all the reading done on the Magnus Carlsen affair in an attempt to understand why the current World Chess Champion would do the things he has done recently.
There, at The Chess Drum, I found one of the best articles read recently. I was taken aback by the depth and breadth of the article. Although much of it was known I read every word because there was so much that was new to me. If I were a member of the Chess Journalists of America I would nominate the article for an award because it is that good. It is a remarkable piece of Chess journalism. I left a comment for Daiim and only just revisited the article in preparing to write these words. The following, which had obviously just been posted, was found:
Daaim Shabazz says: October 25, 2022 at 12:47 pm
What impact would Carlsen’s signing the scoresheets have on whether he believed that Niemann had cheated during their game? Signing the scoresheet in FIDE games is an agreement that the result was fair. Refusing to sign could be considered a protest.
I once saw a cheating case (touch move violation) at an Olympiad. The accused (a GM) claimed that he had adjusted his king (despite holding it and hovering over a square). The move would’ve allowed the queening of a pawn and resulted in a big team upset. There were bystanders who saw the violation. The arbiter was not present but did not allow any witness statements. After a back-and-forth debate, he believed the GM and allowed the game to continue. The GM moved another piece. The accuser (an FM) was distraught and let his clock run out in protest and signed the sheets.
When the appeal was filed, it was determined that while it appeared the GM had violated the rules, the accuser had signed the scoresheets and had thus agreed with the result. Based on this, the committee rejected the appeal.
I urge everyone reading this to visit the website and read it for yourself. In addition, I urge anyone involved with the Chess Journalists of America to give strong consideration to giving some kind of award to the writer. To the gentleman wanting that “one article” this, sir, is that article. I am still amazed at how much time and effort was put into the article. It is more than an overview. It is more like the kind of article that answers questions you did not ask, but after reading, wondered why you had not asked those questions. It is a magnificent article at which I stand in awe. To this writer it is a masterpiece, like an artwork.
“Andrea Carte: Born in Italy, IT engineer, he’s written some GO software, published several papers about reconstructing GO games from videos by means of AI tecniques and has joined two scientific conferences (Liberec 2015 and Pisa 2018) during the corresponding European Go Congresses. Like Ingo Althoefer – who arranged such conferences – he’s above all a chess fan since the Spassky-Fischer match and has even attended many World Championships since then. He considers himself a good amateur, despite not even reaching the 2000 barrier (that will forever remain his forbidden dream).”
Since there are only three degrees of separation, especially among we lovers of games, I urge anyone reading this to contact the writer in order to give him a ‘heads-up’ about this post. And to Mr. Carta, I too, play Go, but not very well. Nevertheless, I enjoy reading about the great game of Go and replaying games online, and have been known to actually play a few games over the years. I sincerely hope you manage to cross the 2000 barrier because although it has been said the demarcation line for becoming a respected Chess player is 1600, which is class “B”, any player who has ever seen that crooked number after his name knows it bestows credibility lacking when a rating begins with a ‘one’.
The final two paragraphs of the stellar article follow:
“In the end we have found that “statistics at first sight”, all of them, look like strong evidence of Hans Niemann cheating, and cheating a lot. But at second sight, all the statistics show instead a picture typical of a young player rising fast, with no evidence of cheating whatsoever. Ken Regan was right.
Does this mean that Hans Niemann never cheated on the board? It’s still difficult to say. Opinions of strong players cannot be discounted, nor cannot be the ones of expert commentators like Alejandro Ramirez (his opinion can be read at https://en.chessbase.com/post/alejandro-ramirez-it-does-seem-very-likely-that-hans-cheated-over-the-board, with a link to a podcast in which the matter is fully discussed). But it’s extremely unlikely that statistics alone will ever provide evidence on the matter, and unless some clever Philo Vance will ever be able to deduce his method and trap him “on the spot”, the mystery will never be solved. Chess, already diminished because of the overwhelming engines’ dominance, is on the verge of completely losing its charisma. Hysteria is spreading fast: already people are not permitted to watch important tournaments in person, and live broadcast is quickly disappearing. Will the “old times” ever come back?” https://en.chessbase.com/post/the-hans-niemann-case-numbers-what-they-reveal-and-what-they-do-not-reveal
People still play the antiquated game, and there are still tournaments, but reading about them makes one sad. We here in America live in a boom and bust society. I cannot speak for the rest of the world, but here it is obvious the ship named the Royal Game has taken a torpedo and is in damage control mode. I have no idea how much damage has been done or what kind of deleterious effect it will have upon Chess, but I do know each and every Chess player needs to grab a pail and start dipping to keep the ship of Chess afloat. Chess is akin to a rudderless ship because FIDE, the World Chess organization, has done absolutely nothing to mitigate the damage. This could be because FIDE is controlled by the Russians. The head of FIDE does not make any decision without the approval of Mad Vlad, and he has other, much more important things on his mind at the moment. The President of FIDE, Arkady Dvorkovich,
known as “The Dvork”, is far too busy covering his ass while trying to stay alive to even consider doing something, anything, to mitigate the onslaught of negative publicity that has inundated the Royal Game over the last month or so. The dude has got to be cringing in fear of doing anything that might displease Mad Vlad,
or else he, like so many other nefarious Russians in Putin’s orbit, might take a header out of a window in a high rise building.
“…the mystery will never be solved.” And there’s the rub. Hans Niemann
can never, ever, prove he did not cheat, which means his reputation has been drastically damaged by the allegations made by the nattering nabobs. His reputation has been forever tarnished. With that in mind, I have something to say to young Mr. Niemann, and would appreciate it if a reader will pass this along to Hans, or someone who knows him.
“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.” – Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind.
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]
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)
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)
Months after pro- and anti-Trump protesters clashed violently in São Paulo, displeased demonstrators returned to the streets on the day of his inauguration.
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
A mural lampooning US President Donald Trump in Dublin’s Temple Bar by artist ADW. (Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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.
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
An article, Garry Kasparov told us what it’s like to live in fear of being assassinated by Putin, by Jim Edwards, appeared on the Business Insider website.
Garry Kasparov and Jim Edwards
These are the main points given in the article:
In 2007, a former KGB general warned that he believed former chess champion Garry Kasparov was next on a list of Putin critics to be assassinated.
Putin is suspected of condoning the assassination of 14 people in the UK.
Kasparov has lived in exile in New York since 2013. “Look I’m an optimist and I think it will not last forever,” he told Business Insider.
Putin will be a major issue at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year because US President Donald Trump will address the meeting. Putin and Trump have a relationship that baffles outsiders.
Trump gets unusually positive coverage in the Kremlin-controlled Russian media, Kasparov says.
Excerpts from the lengthy article:
When I met Garry Kasparov, the Russian chess grandmaster and Putin critic, in Lisbon recently, he was sporting a large Band-Aid on his forehead. The wound had been sustained in the back of a taxi in London on the way from Heathrow Airport to a conference in Canary Wharf. With traffic crawling along, as it always does in London, Kasparov decided he didn’t need to wear a seatbelt.
Then the taxi driver slammed on the brakes.
“I was just talking to my wife, talking to my mother, looking at my phone. And next thing I remember I’m just lying on the floor with my head covered in blood,” Kasparov says. “At first, I was screaming because — now it looks fine — but I was bleeding for more than an hour, so it was pretty nasty. Then I realised how lucky I was because I had my glasses on me, these glasses, one inch down, could be my eyes. One inch on the side could have been temple.”
Kasparov went flying across the back of the Hackney cab, and hit his forehead on the top side of the jump chair. After a couple of stitches at Newham University Hospital Urgent Care, he posted a picture of his injury on Twitter. It spawned a rash of jokes in response: “Lame assassination attempt, Putin is desperate,” that kind of thing, Kasparov says. “The best one was, ‘are you preparing to play Gorbachev at Halloween?’ I was lucky, but now I buckle up.”
That Putin joke is only half funny.
Kasparov really is one of Putin’s potential assassination targets. In 2007, the former KGB general Oleg Kalugin told Foreign Policy magazine that Putin’s targeted killings would one day reach Kasparov.
Cryptically, Kalugin said: “People who knew them are all dead now because they were vocal, they were open. I am quiet. There is only one man who is vocal, and he may be in trouble: [Former] world chess champion [Garry] Kasparov. He has been very outspoken in his attacks on Putin, and I believe that he is probably next on the list.”
Kasparov is no longer one of Putin’s most visible critics, but Putin still regularly assassinates inconvenient Russians. Fourteen people have been killed in the UK on Putin’s orders, according to an exhaustive investigation by BuzzFeed.
As world leaders, billionaires, and oligarchs meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, again this year, Putin and Russia are suddenly one of the biggest issues at the conference.
That’s because US President Trump will address the Alpine gathering for the first time. Trump has repeatedly expressed his enthusiasm and admiration for Putin. And many in America believe Russia covertly interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a way that swayed votes toward Trump.
Russia is normally mere background noise at Davos. While Russia has a large military and is not afraid to flex its muscles in Crimea, Ukraine, and Syria, the country itself is relatively poor. Its GDP ranks below Italy and Canada, and only just above Spain — a country whose economy was so heavily battered by the 2008 credit crisis that it still hasn’t fully recovered.
Russia’s influence in the West is limited in large part because European and US companies are afraid of doing business with Russia, precisely because of the ever-present threat of showing up on Putin’s radar.
That means individual ex-patriot Russians in the West who disagree publically with Putin — like Kasparov — can never go home. Does Kasparov worry about being in danger from Putin?
“Would it help? I live in New York, so what else can I do? I live in New York, I don’t drink tea with strangers,” he says.
“Tea with strangers” is a reference to the death of Alexander Litvinenko, the former Russian FSB secret service agent who was fatally poisoned in 2006 when he met two Putin agents at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair who placed radioactive polonium-210 into his drink.
“I don’t travel to certain countries where I believe that my security could be in jeopardy. So, unfortunately, the list of the countries I have to avoid is growing,” Kasparov says.
Of course, the big unanswered question for everybody in Davos is, what is the true nature of the relationship between Putin and Trump? Does Putin have some kind of hold over Trump — as the infamous Steele dossier suggests? Or is it simply that Trump really likes to be in the presence of powerful people, and that Putin — and ex-KGB man — is playing him like an asset, as James Clapper, the former US director of national intelligence, believes?
Kasparov doesn’t believe it is quite that sinister.
“No, what I saw from the beginning of the US presidential campaign is that the Russian press they like Trump but for different reasons. So they started liking him because he could help them to portray US elections as a circus. And this is, by the way, a part of Putin’s message, both inside and outside of Russia. Truth is relative — everybody’s bad. We bad, they bad,
we corrupt, they corrupt. We don’t have democracy, they have a circus. So that was the original message,” he says.
“America-bashing is 24/7 on all the Russian channels, on Kremlin-controlled media,” Kasparov says. “Trump is an exception. Trump personally is not criticised. The only criticism, mild criticism, is that he’s too weak to fight the deep state, which is amazing. … So everything’s bad in America. Except Trump, who’s a good guy.”
I have never understood what our Republican Presidents have seen in Vladimir Putin. For example, George Dubya Bush infamously said, “I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialog. I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”
Dubya has even painted a picture of Vladimir Putin:
“The genteel world of British chess has been rocked after a top grandmaster claimed the game of kings is riddled with cheats.”
Daniel Gormally, 38, suggested the game is facing an epidemic of people popping to the loo during competitions and using mobile phones to work out their next move.
Mobile apps such as Droidfish and Shredder have made it easy to play chess on the move and analyse complex positions with so-called “chess engines”.
But despite handsets being banned in most tournaments on the English circuit, Gormally said there is nothing to stop players hiding in cubicles with them.”
“Gormally, from Durham, said: “There’s a few players in English chess whose ‘improvement’ I’ve found a bit suspicious, to say the least. But I won’t name any names.
“The worrying thing is the amount of chess players who cheat at chess, a game with very little money in it.”
Gormally, ranked 13 by the English Chess Federation, went on to say he believes chess is no different to sports like cycling which have been embroiled major drug taking scandals.
“The problem is that computers are so powerful,” he added. “It’s just a shame because now when you see someone have a significant improvement you think ‘hang on, wait a minute’ and it shouldn’t be that way.
“Of course, you can’t prove it. If somebody wants to go to the toilet once or twice in a match you wouldn’t be suspicious, but they could easily look at their phone and gain a significant improvement.”
“I don’t think it happens at the top level because they would get found out. The top players have press conferences after their matches and have to explain all their moves. But its at the lower level where it is a problem.”
Until GM Gaioz Nigalidze was caught with his pants down and his engine up, this has been the accepted, conventional wisdom. The administrators of chess have tried to either ignore, or talk the problem to death. They failed, because it lives.
Who is Daniel Gormally? ” Gormally himself hit the headlines in 2006 – although for other reasons.
He was involved in a drunken punch-up in a nightclub after he saw a rival dancing with a female player, dubbed the “Anna Kournikova of chess”.
Gormally had struck up an email relationship with 19-year-old Aussie Arianne Caoili and was accused of hitting and shoving world number three Levon Aronian when he spotted the Armenian with her.
The day after the bust-up at a tournament in Turin, Italy, Gormally was attacked by fans of Aronian.”
That would not happen today because the best players are not old enough to drink an adult beverage.
“Telegraph chess correspondent Malcolm Pein, who runs the top level London Chess Classic tournament, said he is not aware of any allegations of cheating in the English game and the game is clamping down on the use of technology.
He added: “The chess community is very aware of the possibility of cheating and measures are being taken to prevent it.
“There are metal detectors now at some tournaments and all electronic devices are banned at most. At the London Chess Classic, which I run, the arbiters observe the audience to check for suspicious behaviour.
“Were there to be a drug invented that makes you better at chess, I would give it to my children and boost their exam results.”
Most parents would probably do the same thing with their children because they have done exactly that with all kind of psychotropic drugs without having any idea what effects the drugs will produce later in life. The next generation should be called the “guinea pig” generation. At least adult guinea pigs get paid. (http://www.gpgp.net/)
“The English Chess Federation’s chief executive Phil Ehr denied cheating is widespread in the game and said he is aware of only one English player in the past four years who was caught cheating with a mobile phone.”
This is typical of the F.I.P.s in control of chess today. They are in denial, and have been all of the early part of this century. During the broadcast of the last round of the US Open Championship, and the ancillary tournament reserved for women not strong enough to make the Open a film was played of GM Maurice Ashely interviewing Yuliya Levitan, a counselor on the FIDE anti-cheating commission. She was there to spout the party line while singing, “Everything is beautiful, in its own way”…and “Don’t worry/be happy.” The woman ran down a list of things FIDE is doing to thwart cheating, including “…players not having cellphones on them.”
The latest gizmo wizard, who will forever be known as the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, did not have a gizmo on him. He beat FIDE by leaving it in the toilet, which is where some say FIDE is headed. Yuliya mentioned something about “…keeping fans separate.” Maybe that should apply to a manager like Silvio Danilov.
She mentioned something about cameras, which made me think of the old TV show, Candid Camera, as in, “Smile, you’re on candid camera! Euuww, what ARE you doing?” FIDE will go ANYWHERE to prevent cheating! Anywhere but Russia, where in a tournament like Aeroflot, players conspire to draw games in the opening and, who knows, maybe even throw games, as happened between the nefarious Russians in the last round of the recent 2015 European Championship. She also mentioned “metal detectors,” and one could not help but notice the security guard behind Maurice holding, you guessed it, a metal detector.
Ms. Levitan also mentioned something about “…investigations going on. I cannot comment on those.” Too bad someone is not investigating FIDE…
The interview comes at the 3:06 mark and you can watch it, which is exactly what I did again. I wanted to make sure I quoted the woman correctly. She said, “Once again, more concern for the open tournaments. It does not happen often in professional chess…it does happen on higher level, but usually it happens on lower levels.”
Until the “Dubai Cheater,” GM Gaioz Nigalidze, this has been the “party-line.” The cat is now out of the bag, or should I say the genie is out of the bottle. Every result the “Dubai Cheater” has ever had is now suspect. Actually, one could drop the “Dubai Cheater” and just say that every FIDE result is suspect.
An article has appeared on the New York Times website, Putin, Said to Be ‘Perfectly Healthy,’ Is Also Nowhere to Be Seen, By NEIL MacFARQUHAR, MARCH 13, 2015, which asks the question, “Where’s Putin?” It begins, “It was the question preoccupying Moscow and much of Russia on Friday, as speculation mounted about why President Vladimir V. Putin had not been seen in public since last week.”
“He canceled a trip to Kazakhstan; postponed a treaty signing with representatives from South Ossetia who were reportedly told not to bother to come to Moscow; and, unusually, was absent from a meeting of top officials from the F.S.B., Russia’s domestic intelligence service.
The last confirmed public sighting was at a meeting with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy on March 5 — although the Kremlin would have citizens think otherwise.
Given that the Kremlin borrows all manner of items from the Soviet playbook these days, there appeared to be an attempt to doctor the president’s timetable to show that all was well.”
Putin is not the only Russian who “…borrows all manner of items from the Soviet playbook these days.” Just as in the days of Soviet Communism, Mikhail Botvinnik and Paul Keres, every game between Russian chess players is suspect.
The NY Times reporter continues, “Early in his presidency, Mr. Putin dropped out of sight when the submarine Kursk sank in 2000 and again two years later when terrorists seized a Moscow theater and took hundreds of hostages.”
Putin obviously has a tendency to “nut-up” when the going gets tough. Or is it something else? The article also contains this, “Andrei Illarionov, a former presidential adviser, wrote a blog post suggesting that Mr. Putin had been overthrown by hard-liners in a palace coup and that Russians could anticipate an announcement soon saying that he was taking a well-deserved rest. Conspiracy theorists bombarded Facebook, Twitter and the rest of social media along similar veins.”