An Epidemic of Loneliness

George Will

is a columnist for the Washington Post and his latest effort is titled, We have an epidemic of loneliness. How can we fix it?

Excerpts follow, but I would like to begin with this, which is frightening: “America’s largest job category is “driver” and, with self-driving vehicles coming, two-thirds of such jobs could disappear in a decade.”

I drove professionally and I do not just mean when driving a taxi. There were various driving gigs in varied places when younger. I once drove a brand new Ford Probe across the country from Atlanta to Los Angeles in less than three days. I slept, or more properly napped, only in rest areas, stopping to take only one shower in a truck stop along the way because of tremendous time pressure, something with which all Chess players can identify. The person contracted to drive the car to the architect who had won it in a raffle at an architectural convention in Atlanta pulled out at the last moment. The owner of the company called me because, as he put it, “You are the only driver who can get it there on time.” The car was delivered to the owner on time. He gave me a twenty dollar bill as a tip. Enraged, I said, While driving a taxi for Buckhead Safety Cab Mickey Mantle once gave me a fifty dollar bill for a three fifty fare!” The cheapskate just glared at me…

Another driving gig was transporting Bell South vehicles to various cities in Southern states. Vehicles heading to the larger cities would usually go via hauler because those drivers could transport multiple vehicles. The single vehicles heading to smaller cities had to transported by individuals such as yours truly. Some of the drivers had worked for an airline, which at the time meant Delta Airlines in Atlanta, and they could return home using their free miles, while I would have to return on my own, which meant the Greyhound bus or Amtrak. The older drivers had no desire to go to, for example, Lake Charles Louisiana.

I, on the other hand, loved heading to Lake Charles because it meant a trip to New Orleans, a visit with the sui generis Jude Frazier Acers,

the Chess King of Decatur street (https://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/456-the-chess-king-of-decatur-street) and a night on Bourbon Street, before heading to the Amtrak station, and a train leaving the next morning at seven, giving me plenty of time for sleep on the return trip.

George begins his column, “If Sen. Ben Sasse is right — he has not recently been wrong about anything important — the nation’s most-discussed political problem is entangled with the least-understood public-health problem. The political problem is furious partisanship. The public-health problem is loneliness. Sasse’s new book argues that Americans are richer, more informed and “connected” than ever — and unhappier, more isolated and less fulfilled.”

“In “Them: Why We Hate Each Other — and How to Heal,” Sasse’s subject is “the evaporation of social capital” — the satisfactions of work and community. This reflects a perverse phenomenon: What has come to count as connectedness is displacing the real thing. And matters might quickly become dramatically worse.”

“Loneliness in “epidemic proportions” is producing a “loneliness literature” of sociological and medical findings about the effect of loneliness on individuals’ brains and bodies, and on communities. Sasse (R-Neb.) says “there is a growing consensus” that loneliness — not obesity, cancer or heart disease — is the nation’s “number one health crisis.” “Persistent loneliness” reduces average longevity more than twice as much as does heavy drinking and more than three times as much as obesity, which often is a consequence of loneliness. Research demonstrates that loneliness is as physically dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and contributes to cognitive decline, including more rapid advance of Alzheimer’s disease. Sasse says, “We’re literally dying of despair,” of the failure “to fill the hole millions of Americans feel in their lives.”

“Work, which Sasse calls “arguably the most fundamental anchor of human identity,” is at the beginning of “a staggering level of cultural disruption” swifter and more radical than even America’s transformation from a rural and agricultural to an urban and industrial nation. At that time, one response to social disruption was alcoholism, which begat Prohibition. Today, one reason the average American life span has declined for three consecutive years is that many more are dying of drug overdoses — one of the “diseases of despair” — annually than died during the entire Vietnam War. People “need to be needed,” but McKinsey & Co. analysts calculate that, globally, 50 percent of paid activities — jobs — could be automated by currently demonstrated technologies. America’s largest job category is “driver” and, with self-driving vehicles coming, two-thirds of such jobs could disappear in a decade.”

I hope you will read the entire column.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/we-have-an-epidemic-of-loneliness-how-can-we-fix-it/2018/10/12/e8378a38-cd92-11e8-920f-dd52e1ae4570_story.html?utm_term=.e87c12c89089

Chess and Luck

One of my favorite Chess places on the internet is the Mechanics’ Institute Chess Club Newsletter, by IM John Donaldson. If you are new to Chess and unaware, the Mechanics’ Institute is located at 57 Post Street, in San Francisco, California. The newsletter is published almost every Friday, unless IMJD, as he is known, is out of town, as in being a team captain for the US Olympiad squad. The MIN is a veritable cornucopia of Chess information, and it continues to get better and better, if that is possible. The edition this week, #809, is no exception. For example we learn, “An article at the singer Joni Mitchell’s web site mentions she polished her talent at the Checkmate coffeehouse in Detroit in the mid-1960s.” I have just finished reading, Joni: The Anthology, edited by Barney Hoskins, and the just published, Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell, by David Yaffe, awaits.

John writes, “Few have done as much as Jude Acers to promote chess in the United States the last fifty years and he is still going strong. View one of his recent interviews here.” I love the sui generis Jude the Dude! For the link to the interview you must visit the MIN.

We also learn that, “Noted book dealer National Master Fred Wilson will open his doors at his new location at 41 Union Square West, Suite 718 (at 17th Street) on December 20.” In MIN # 804 we learned that, “Fred Wilson earns National Master at 71.”(!) Way to go Fred! Congratulations on becoming a NM while giving hope to all Seniors, and on the opening of your new location. There is also a nice picture of Fred included, along with many other pictures, some in color, which has really added pizazz to the venerable MIN!

There is more, much more, but I want to focus on: 2) Top Individual Olympiad Performers. John writes: “Outside of the World Championship the biannual Chess Olympiad is the biggest stage in chess. Although it is primarily a team event, individual accomplishment is noted, and no player better represented his country than the late Tigran Petrosian. The former World Champion scored 103 points in 129 games (79.8 percent) and lost only one individual game (on time) in a drawn rook ending to Robert Hubner in the 1972 Olympiad.

Garry Kasparov is not far behind with 64½ points in 82 games (78.7 percent), and unlike Petrosian his teams took gold in every Olympiad he played. Garry won gold but he did lose three games.

Two of the players who defeated Kasparov in Olympiads were present during the Champions Showdown in St. Louis last month: Yasser Seirawan and Veselin Topalov. The latter had an interesting story to tell about the third player to defeat Garry—Bulgarian Grandmaster Krum Georgiev.

According to Topalov, one could not accuse his countryman of being one of Caissa’s most devoted servants. Lazy is the word he used to describe Krum, who loved to play blitz rather than engage in serious study. However it was precisely this passion for rapid transit which helped him to defeat Garry.

Before the Malta Olympiad Georgiev was losing regularly in five-minute chess to someone Veselin referred to as a total patzer. He got so frustrated losing with White in the same variation, over and over again, that he analyzed the line in the 6.Bg5 Najdorf inside and out and came up with some interesting ideas. You guessed it—Garry played right into Georgiev’s preparation. Who says there is no luck in chess.”

The game is given so click on over to the MIN and play over a Kasparov loss in which he let the Najdorf down. (http://www.chessclub.org/news.php)

I want to focus on the part about there being no luck in Chess. After reading this I something went off in my brain about “Chess” & “Luck.” I stopped reading and racked my aging brain. Unfortunately, I could not recall where I had seen it, but it definitely registered. After awhile I finished reading the MIN and took the dog for a walk, then returned to rest and take a nap. I could not sleep because my brain was still working, subconsciously, I suppose, on why “Chess” & “Luck” seemed to have so much meaning to me…It came to me in the shower. I have been a fan of Baseball since the age of nine, and I am also a Sabermetrician.

Sabermetric Research

Phil Birnbaum

Chess and luck

In previous posts, I argued about how there’s luck in golf, and how there’s luck in foul shooting in basketball.

But what about games of pure mental performance, like chess? Is there luck involved in chess? Can you win a chess game because you were lucky?

Yes.

Start by thinking about a college exam. There’s definitely luck there. Hardly anybody has perfect mastery. A student is going to be stronger in some parts of the course material, and weaker in other parts.

Perhaps the professor has a list of 200 questions, and he randomly picks 50 of them for the exam. If those happen to be more weighted to the stuff you’re weak in, you’ll do worse.

Suppose you know 80 percent of the material, in the sense that, on any given question, you have an 80 percent chance of getting the right answer. On average, you’ll score 80 percent, or 40 out of 50. But, depending on which questions the professor picks, your grade will vary, possibly by a lot.

The standard deviation of your score is going to be 5.6 percentage points. That means the 95 percent confidence interval for your score is wide, stretching from 69 to 91.

And, if you’re comparing two students, 2 SD of the difference in their scores is even higher — 16 points. So if one student scores 80, and another student scores 65, you cannot conclude, with statistical significance, that the first student is better than the second!

So, in a sense, exam writing is like coin tossing. You study as hard as you can to learn as much as you can — that is, to build yourself a coin that lands heads (right answer) as often as possible. Then, you walk in to the exam room, and flip the coin you’ve built, 50 times.

——

It’s similar for chess.

Every game of chess is different. After a few moves, even the most experienced grandmasters are probably looking at board positions they’ve never seen before. In these situations, there are different mental tasks that become important. Some positions require you to look ahead many moves, while some require you to look ahead fewer. Some require you to exploit or defend an advantage in positioning, and some present you with differences in material. In some, you’re attacking, and in others, you’re defending.

That’s how it’s like an exam. If a game is 40 moves each, it’s like you’re sitting down at an exam where you’re going to have 40 questions, one at a time, but you don’t know what they are. Except for the first few moves, you’re looking at a board position you’ve literally never seen before. If it works out that the 40 board positions are the kind where you’re stronger, you might find them easy, and do well. If the 40 positions are “hard” for you — that is, if they happen to be types of positions where you’re weaker — you won’t do as well.

And, even if they’re positions where you’re strong, there’s luck involved: the move that looks the best might not truly *be* the best. For instance, it might be true that a certain class of move — for instance, “putting a fork on the opponent’s rook and bishop on the far side of the board, when the overall position looks roughly similar to this one” — might be a good move 98 percent of the time. But, maybe in this case, because a certain pawn is on A5 instead of A4, it actually turns out to be a weaker move. Well, nobody can know the game down to that detail; there are 10 to the power of 43 different board positions.

The best you can do is see that it *seems* to be a good move, that in situations that look similar to you, it would work out more often than not. But you’ll never know whether it’s 90 percent or 98 percent, and you won’t know whether this is one of the exceptions.

——

It’s like, suppose I ask you to write down a 14-digit number (that doesn’t start with zero), and, if it’s prime, I’ll give you $20. You have three minutes, and you don’t have a calculator, or extra paper. What’s your strategy? Well, if you know something about math, you’ll know you have to write an odd number. You’ll know it can’t end in 5. You might know enough to make sure the digits don’t add up to a multiple of 3.

After that, you just have to hope your number is prime. It’s luck.

But, if you’re a master prime finder … you can do better. You can also do a quick check to make sure it’s not divisible by 11. And, if you’re a grandmaster, you might have learned to do a test for divisibility by 7, 13, 17, and 19, and even further. In fact, your grandmaster rating might have a lot to do with how many of those extra tests you’re able to do in your head in those three minutes.

But, even if you manage to get through a whole bunch of tests, you still have to be lucky enough to have written a prime, instead of a number that turns out to be divisible by, say, 277, which you didn’t have time to test for.

A grandmaster has a better chance of outpriming a lesser player, because he’s able to eliminate more bad moves. But, there’s still substantial luck in whether or not he wins the $20, or even whether he beats an opponent in a prime-guessing tournament.

——

On an old thread over at Tango’s blog, someone pointed this out: if you get two chess players of exactly equal skill, it’s 100 percent a matter of luck which one wins. That’s got to be true, right?

Well, maybe you’re not sure about “exactly equal skill.” You figure, it’s impossible to be *exactly* equal, so the guy who won was probably better! But, then, if you like, assume the players are exact clones of each other. If that still doesn’t work, imagine that they’re two computers, programmed identically.

Suppose the computers aren’t doing anything random inside their CPUs at all — they have a precise, deterministic algorithm for what move to make. How, then, can you say the result is random?

Well, it’s not random in the sense that it’s made of the ether of pure, abstract probability, but it’s random in the practical sense, the sense that the algorithm is complex enough that humans can’t predict the outcome. It’s random in the same way the second decimal of tomorrow’s Dow Jones average is random. Almost all computer randomization is deterministic — but not patterned or predictable. The winner of the computer chess game is random in the same way the hands dealt in online poker are random.

In fact, I bet computer chess would make a fine random number generator. Take two computers, give them the same algorithm, which has to include something where the computer “learns” from past games (otherwise, you’ll just get the same positions over and over). Have them play a few trillion games, alternating black and white, to learn as much as they can. Then, play a tournament of an even number of games (so both sides can play white an equal number of times). If A wins, your random digit is a “1”. If B wins, your random digit is a “0”.

It’s not a *practical* random number generator, but I bet it would work. And it’s “random” in the sense that, no human being could predict the outcome in advance any faster than actually running the same algorithm himself.

http://blog.philbirnbaum.com/2013/01/chess-and-luck.html

Booming Interest in Amateur Chess?

I was given a gift of a coffee mug with the logo of the Economist magazine. It was filled with java at a Borders bookstore as I awaited a student when a young fellow walked over after seeing the mug. He began talking to me as if I were an arch conservative. I mostly nodded and grinned, preferring at that time to not engage the fellow in a political discussion. Every time I saw the man after that he would smile and say hello. I always feared the offer of some kind of secret handshake to which I would not know how to respond. Fortunately, it was not forthcoming. My conservative friends find some of my views too liberal; my liberal friends think me too conservative.
Because of the upcoming World Championship there is an article about chess in the latest edition of the Economist magazine. The title is, “Professional chess has a chequered history. Fans hope to revive it.” http://www.economist.com/news/international/21587245-professional-chess-has-chequered-history-fans-hope-revive-it-sporting-chance The article comes sans byline, at least in the online edition. It is written that, “Match organizers see a chance to turn a struggling sport into a global brand.” Good luck with that…
The article continues, “Time was when the world stopped for professional chess. Millions watched Bobby Fischer, an American, beat the Soviet Union’s Boris Spassky in 1972. In the 1990s a pair of matches between Garry Kasparov and Deep Blue, a computer, recaptured some of that suspense. Yet despite booming interest in the amateur game, top-level chess has become obscure again, hobbled by squabbles and eccentric leadership.”
Come on, get real! The so-called “matches” Kasparov played versus the computer program captured none of the suspense of the Fischer-Spassky match! This is what happens when someone who was probably not alive in 1972 writes about chess. I started playing tournament chess in 1970 and am here to tell you the excitement was palpable. I have experienced nothing remotely similar since that time. Chess was in the news and on the minds of almost everyone in the world. All of a sudden it was “cool” to play chess, and I was no longer considered “weird” for playing the Royal game. Chess sets were everywhere and hardly a party I attended did not see people playing a game. The only “suspense” in the series of games between Deep Blue and Kasparov was how much bigger a fool the later would make of himself as the games continued. With the last game debacle Kasparov went out with a whimper. The “bang” was created when he made an ass of himself. Chess has never recovered from the damage done to the game by the human player known as Kasparov. When someone learns I play and teach chess they ask, “Why? I thought chess ended when that machine beat the Russian. What was his name?” Mostly they recall Kasparov’s histrionics and “sour grapes” attitude, along with the fact that he was the human that lost to a machine. People still write that Kasparov was “the greatest of all-time,” but the simple fact is that he will always and forever be known for losing to a machine. It overshadows everything he accomplished in the world of chess. There was a time when people talked in hushed tones about the possibility Kasparov took a dive in the series of games with Deep Blue. Now people speak of it overtly.
The article can be considered as gauge of public opinion concerning the state of chess today. Perception is reality and the perception is best illustrated by the following, “Critics gripe about mercurial decision-making within FIDE. The sport’s governing body gets by on some $2m a year (FIFA, football’s federation, spent more than $1 billion in 2012) and has had only two presidents in 31 years. Its boss since 1995 has been Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, who also ran Kalmykia, one of Russia’s poorest regions, until 2010. That year Mr Ilyumzhinov said he was once contacted by aliens; in 2011 he played chess with Muammar Qaddafi.”
The perception meets reality when it comes to the official chess body of the world, FIDE, being led by a nut-job.
Then there is this, “A deeper challenge is that watching chess is less fun than playing it. A single game can last six hours; its most riveting moment may be a strategic nuance known as the Yugoslav variation on the Sicilian. “Good chess leads to draws,” says Maurice Ashley, an American grandmaster. Mr Ashley believes that new game and tournament formats could attract a wider audience. Competitors in blitz chess must finish their games in half an hour. Matches lasting minutes make popular footage online. Yet many players resist fast games, arguing that they reward low-quality chess. FIDE’s enthusiasm for shorter championships in the 1990s and 2000s prolonged the professional game’s split.”
I wrote recently about Jude Acers pontificating at length a quarter of a century ago about how quick games would revolutionize chess, putting money in every master’s pocket. The only thing that has put money in the pockets of master’s, and far too many who know too little about the game, is teaching chess to children, who then give up the game around puberty.
I was eating at one of my favorite spots, the Mediterranean Grill, while wearing a Chicago Open Tee-shirt from 2002. The owner, Sam Moussa, walked over and began a conversation about chess, telling me he had lived in Chicago for a couple of decades before moving to the South. “Chess is getting younger,” Sam said, before walking away. The people know. Back in the early seventies there were the same number of members of the USCF as now, except the vast majority of them were adults. Now the vast majority are children. The proliferation of children has driven most adults away from the game. There is a pronounced disparity in the ages of the competitors one can see at any large tournament. The players are either very young or very old. So-called “adult” tournaments consist of mostly children. Seniors comprise the second largest group, and they are leaving the chess world every day, because death happens. When Bobby beat Boris in 1972 the percentage of children playing in “adult” tournaments was miniscule, with only the very best children challenging the elders. Chess is now perceived, rightly, as a game for children.
The thing about being fortunate enough to grow older is one can see, upon reflection, the changes that have taken place in our world. It is common for anyone to think the way things are now is the way they have always been. Such is not the case, and especially in the world of chess. Most, if not all, of those coming into the chess world today have no clue as to how much the world of chess has changed. If all of those children who have come into the chess world had stayed I would be writing of what a huge success the move toward the United States Scholastic Chess Federation has been. Unfortunately, it has not. Statistics prove beyond any doubt that not enough children stay with chess to justify what has transpired in the world of chess. Yet, like the Republicans who still continue to advocate trickle-down economics when it has been proven in practice to work only for the very few at the top of the economic ladder, the chess F.I.P.s (Fools In Power) continue their “In for a penny, in for a pound,” moves on the chess board, even when faced with statistics proving it has not previously worked. They continue to advocate speeding up the time controls when the evidence shows it has only served to drive adult players, and members, out of the game. Even sadder is the fact that the F.I.P.s has done little for the second largest segment of members, Seniors. Granted, the latter group pales in comparison to the hefty numbers of spuds, but still Seniors do constitute the second largest group in number. What goes for Senior chess in this country is basically an insult to Seniors. Or, as one fellow Senior put it, “Senior chess in the USCF is a joke!”

The Irrepressible Jude Acers

I first met Jude Acers when he came to Atlanta in the 1970’s to give a simultaneous exhibition at Lenox Square Mall. It opened in 1959 and is the oldest Mall in the South. Back then it was THE place to go, and Jude’s simul was covered by the press. This was during a time when Jude was traveling all over the country performing simultaneous exhibitions. Jude has written about those days and you can find some of the articles he wrote for the Berkeley Barb from 1972-1974 on the wonderful ChessDryad website containing California Chess History: (http://www.chessdryad.com/articles/acers/index.htm) One of his articles is entitled, “Atlanta at Dawn” The Road, Part 1 Berkeley Barb, Vol. 16, No. 23, Dec. 8-14, 1972. Another is, “Adventures in a Greyhound Terminal” The Road, Part XI Berkeley Barb, Aug. 2-8, 1974. I can identify with both of these articles. If Jude had not loved chess so much it is possible he could have been a great writer.
I took one of the boards that evening and admit to being one of Jude’s victims. There can be no doubt Jude helped popularize chess in those days. Jude was strong enough to draw a four game match with Mr. Six-Time, GM Walter Browne, if memory serves.
When Jude had enough of the road he settled in New Orleans, where he has been for decades. Please go to his website, http://classactionfilms.com/, where you will find a short film that captures the quintessential Jude. I promise it will be the best nine minutes of your day. It was one of the best parts of my yesterday. It shows Jude being, well, Jude!
Watching the film brought back memories of the time years ago when I had a job driving vehicles, mostly Bell South, to nine different southeastern states. If there were two or more vehicles they would go on a hauler, but if there was only one, someone would have to drive it, and that someone would be me. Some of the drivers were retired airline personnel and they managed to get home by flying free. I, on the other hand, had to pay to ride a Greyhound bus in order to return home. One of the possible trips was to Lake Charles, Louisiana. None of the other drivers wanted that trip, for various reasons, so I drove there often. I would then make my way back to New Orleans via bus, where I would have a twelve hour layover from seven pm until the Amtrak train left the next morning at 7 am. At that time I was still young enough to handle a night on Bourbon Street. Each and every night I spent there could be a chapter in the book of the Armchair Warrior.
I looked forward to the first trip in hopes of being able to get a chance to play Jude, because I wanted revenge. Every time I left the bus terminal heading for the French Quarter I would walk to the Gazebo, where Jude would be holding court. I do not recall how many times I made the trip, but I know he was always playing someone, and often more than one game was in progress. There always seemed to be ‘victims’ lined up, awaiting their chance for a crack at Jude. I would get something to drink, sit back and listen, while watching the show, for if he is nothing else, Jude is a showman. The show was invariably enjoyable.
The last time I made the trip, as luck would have it, Jude was alone at his table, going over a chess game from some magazine. He quickly put it away when he noticed me. I paid my five bucks and Jude allowed me to move first. I opened with the move known as “best by test,” 1 e4, and it was game on! Jude answered with 1…c6, the Caro-Kann, the opening I started playing after giving up my beloved Najdorf. I played the so-called “Fantasy” variation. My memory will only allow me to tell you I recall Jude bringing his Queen to h4 early in the game, and I somehow won a pawn. We reached an endgame and the place was closing, so I did the gentlemanly thing and offered Jude a draw. “Move,” was his reply. This infuriated me! How dare he turn refuse my offer? Did he think he could outplay me from a pawn down position in an endgame? I fortified myself for the battle to come, knowing that at the conclusion there would be blood spilled over the board, hopefully his! I managed to not blow it and cruised to a victory. “You sure took a lot of time,” was his comment after shaking hands. “What did you expect after turning down my draw offer? What, did you think you could beat me from that pawn down endgame position?” I made my way to the French Quarter ready to celebrate my victory with an adult beverage, while listening to some authentic jazz. I have drawn with dozens of chess masters, but beaten only a couple of handfuls, and that includes only one player who was not technically a NM, my friend the Discman. When I defeated Chris Chambers at the Tennessee Open in 1988 he had just returned from scoring 8 ½ points in the US Open, pushing his rating over the coveted 2200 mark. Anyone who can score 8 ½ out of 12 at the US Open ought to be considered a NM in my book. I have been fortunate enough to beat many players who later became NM’s, but the win over the irrepressible Jude will always have a special place in the book of the Armchair Warrior.
One of my trips driving a Bell South vehicle took me to Asheville, NC, in time for the Land of the Sky chess tournament, considered by many to be the best chess tournament in the South for over two decades. My friend Wilder Wadford is not getting any younger, so I urge you to start making plans to attend his excellent tournament after the first of the year. My friend, The Dude, aka Tim Bond, followed me and, once the mission had been completed, gave me a ride to the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, site of the LOTS, as it is known. On the way I mentioned my win over Jude in the French Quarter. “You beat Jude?” he said. “I played him ten times, drawing the first game, but losing the other nine.” A man does not make a living for decades playing chess by losing many games.
The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I made a trip to play in the Texas State Championship decades ago and Tim wanted to stop in New Orleans for lunch. After eating we walked over, finding Jude alone. Even though he was disappointed to hear we did not have time for a game, we were able to converse with him. I am uncertain when this occurred, but it was around the time when USCF began to rate quick chess. Jude managed to bring this fact into the conversation and it became a soliloquy. Jude was under the impression quick chess was going to revolutionize chess, exuberantly saying things like, “It will put money in every master’s pocket and a chicken in every pot! The future of chess is quick chess and it will bring in thousands, MILLIONS, of new players! It is the dawning of a new age of chess!” Jude was reeling with the feeling and got carried away, I suppose. His soliloquy lasted some time. He had to catch his breath and it was then we were able to take our leave. As we walked toward the car I could not help but notice the Ironman had been unusually quiet. I looked at him, noticing a strange look upon his face. I asked if everything was OK. “No, it’s not OK, Bacon. You do not understand… that man was my childhood hero. I got into chess after playing in one of his simuls, and now I find him a raving lunatic!” Tim had not been around Jude like I had and therefore had little understanding. I thought Tim was being a little harsh and had to stifle a laugh. “Look Tim, that’s just Jude’s shtick. He’s a character, which is what makes him what he is. That’s one of the best things about chess, the different characters one meets.” We walked on quietly until the Ironman said, “I guess you’re right, Bacon.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit and the Bushwhackers did nothing but look on from the window of a plane, my thoughts, like many others, went to Jude, wondering if he had made it. Hearing the first report that Jude was alive caused great relief.
I was elated upon learning Jude was participating in the World Senior Championships in 2008. He has played in each tournament since then and he is always my “horse.” As David Spinks was fond of saying, “It is not fun unless you have someone to pull for.”
I urge you to spend less than ten minutes of your time watching the aforementioned film because Jude is definitely sui generis. Read this article to learn why Jude wears a red beret, and what is buried in GM Arthur Dake’s coffin: http://www.nwchess.com/articles/people/dinner_with_Acers.htm
To learn more about one of the true characters of chess, and a real chess hero, go to Jude’s website: http://judeacers.com/
For the chance of a lifetime, please go here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/304635435/the-man-in-the-red-beret