Russian President Vladimir Putin Accused of Murder

There is an article by Jane Croft on the Financial Times website, dated Jan. 27, 2015, “Putin accused of presiding over ‘mafia state’ at Litvinenko probe.”

“Russian President Vladimir Putin was on Tuesday accused at the opening of an inquiry into the death of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko of presiding over a “mafia state” with links to organised crime syndicates in Spain.”

This man, RasPutin, is the power behind the world chess federation known as FIDE. This is also the man seen hobnobbing with the chess elite, including the World Human Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen, and the man he vanquished for the title, Viswanathan Anand. (http://www.sochi2014.fide.com/closing-ceremony) Is it any wonder the public has tuned out the Royal game?

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The article continues, “Ben Emmerson QC, representing Litvinenko’s widow Marina at the public inquiry, claimed that the evidence for Litvinenko’s “horrifying assassination” by a radioactive isotope “all points in one direction” and was only likely to have happened “on the order of very senior officials in the Russian state”.

In a hard hitting speech, Mr Emmerson claimed that Litvinenko was killed “partly as an act of political revenge for speaking out, partly?.?.?.?as a message of lethal deterrence to others and partly to prevent him giving evidence in a criminal prosecution in Spain that could have exposed Putin’s direct link to an organised criminal syndicate in that country”.

Mr Emmerson claimed that the events showed the “unlawfulness and criminality at the very heart of the Russian state”.

“The intimate relationship that will be shown to exist between the Kremlin and Russian organised crime syndicates are so close as to make the two effectively indistinguishable,” Mr Emmerson claimed.

“The startling truth, which is going to be revealed in public by the evidence in this inquiry, is that a significant part of the Russian organised crime around the world is organised directly from the office of the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a mafia state,” Mr Emmerson alleged to the inquiry.

Mr Emmerson added that Litvinenko had been a “marked man” since giving a press conference in Moscow alleging national security service FSB corruption and Mr Putin was a “ruthless and deadly enemy” to Litvinenko, Mr Emmerson claimed.

“The evidence all points one way,” Mr Emmerson said claiming that the two main suspects implicated in the poisoning had “links to Putin’s inner circle”.

Mr Emmerson said he believed the inquiry would show not just a trail of polonium from London to Moscow but a trail leading “directly to the door of Putin’s office” and Mr Putin would be “unmasked” by the inquiry “as a common criminal dressed up as a head of state.”

The former Russian spy, who died after ingesting radioactive polonium 210, may have been poisoned “not once but twice”, the inquiry into his death was told.

Sir Robert Owen, chairman of the public inquiry, said the circumstances of Litvinenko’s death brought in to focus issues of the “utmost gravity”, which had attracted “worldwide interest and concern”.

The inquiry, which is due to last for 10 weeks, will look at the circumstances around the death of Litvinenko who was allegedly poisoned as he sipped green tea at Mayfair’s Millennium Hotel in November 2006.

The death of Litvinenko sent relations between the UK and Russia to a post-cold war low, with diplomats expelled by both sides.

Russia has long denied claims, attributed to Litvinenko on his deathbed and repeated by his friends and family, that Moscow ordered his death after the Kremlin critic was granted asylum in the UK.

UK prosecutors had accused two Russians Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun of the murder. They have strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Russia has refused to extradite them under the terms of its constitution.

Robin Tam QC, counsel to the public inquiry, told the hearing that scientific evidence will be presented to the inquiry that appeared to show that Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium “not once but twice”.

As well as a November 2006 meeting at the Pine Bar of the Millennium Hotel, the hearing was told an earlier poisoning attempt may have been made at a meeting weeks earlier.

Samples from Litvinenko’s hair show that he may have been poisoned twice with the first attempt much less successful, Mr Tam told the hearing.

Mr Lugovoi and Mr Kovtun were present at two meetings with Mr Litvinenko — including at the Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel in Mayfair.

Litvinenko, who converted to Islam before he died, claimed to police on his deathbed that he believed he had been targeted by the Russian security services on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to details of his police interview conducted just before he died and read out to the hearing.” (http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/998d690c-a62c-11e4-9bd3-00144feab7de.html)

An article, “What’s Been the Effect of Western Sanctions on Russia?” appeared on the PBS website as a companion piece to the hard hitting documentary, “Putin’s Way.”

“When Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine last March, the United States and European Union responded with an economic weapon — sanctions.

The first few rounds, applied in March and April of 2014, targeted Russian and Crimean officials, as well as businessmen seen to have close ties to President Vladimir Putin — his “inner circle” — with travel bans and asset freezes.

Since then, the West has steadily expanded its sanctions against Russian entities, targeting major businesses and parts of Russia’s financial, energy and military industries.

FRONTLINE talked to Anders Åslund, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, on Jan. 8, 2015 about the effects and consequences of Western sanctions on the Russian economy. Åslund served as an economic adviser to the Russian and Ukrainian governments in the 1990s.
Which round of sanctions do you think really had an effect on the Russian economy? How would you measure that?

The sanctions the U.S. imposed came in two big chunks. The first concerned Crimea, and they were only personal sanctions for Crimean and Russian leaders involved in the Crimean drama.

Then, the important sanctions were imposed on July 16, which are called sectoral sanctions.

We can see that no money has been going into Russia after July. No financial institutions dared to provide Russia with any financing more than a month after that. And that we know from talking to banks. …

The point is that the [July] financial sanctions have worked out as far more severe in their effect than anyone seems to have believed.
Would sanctions alone have damaged Russia’s economy without the current plunging oil prices?

There are three major causes for Russia’s economic troubles. The first cause is the corruption and bad economic policies that Putin pursues, which on their own would lead to stagnation, or at most 1 percent growth.

The second element is the falling oil prices. The oil prices have now fallen so much that Russia’s total export revenues this year will be two-thirds of what they have been before. That means that Russia will have to cut its imports by half. This is a big blow.

This is then reinforced by the financial sanctions, so that Russia cannot mitigate this blow by borrowing money. By ordinary standards, Russia is perfectly credit-worthy with a public debt that is only 10 percent of GDP. But if you don’t have access to financial markets, then it doesn’t matter how credit-worthy you are, because you’re not credit-worthy so-to-say.

[Editor’s Note: On Jan. 9, Fitch Ratings cut Russia’s credit rating to BBB-, one step above junk.]”
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/foreign-affairs-defense/putins-way/whats-been-the-effect-of-western-sanctions-on-russia/

Vladimir RasPutin has become a pariah. The world will watch as he is consigned to oblivion because he, and his friends, like FIDE President Kirsan the ET, is on his way off of the world stage. He is learning first hand something a fellow Georgian, Martin Luther King Jr., said decades ago. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Garry Kasparov must be following these events closely. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “For the loser now will be later to win/
For the times they are a-changin’.

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A Declaration Of Independence

I have recently come under fire by some readers who have criticized me for, well, being critical. This amazes me because in every other facet of life those in power and control receive criticism. The POTUS has always received criticism, and as long as We The People have the right granted to US under the Constitution to freely express our thoughts, he always will be criticized. Before the start of the 2014 Major League Baseball season new rules were instituted. Two were so laughable, and caused so many problems, it made many wonder about the sanity of those who promulgated said rules. The outcry was so loud that MLB officials were forced to listen, and later changed the new rules during the season, which was unprecedented. The rules would still be in place if not for those who questioned, and criticized, the ridiculous rules.

As the story goes, when a very young boy I filled a pot with water, climbed up onto a chair, placed the pot on the stove, and fired it up. When my mother entered the kitchen she asked what I was doing. “Watching the water boil,” I answered. “And why are you watching the water boil, Michael?”
“Because Aunt Lea said a ‘Watched pot never boils.’ She was wrong.”

Another story told is that my father and his mother were in the car with me in the backseat. I kept asking questions, which was frustrating for my father, who told me to “Shut up.” When questioned about his response my father told his mother, “The boy asks too many questions.” She castigated him for it, saying, “How else is he going to learn?”

It has been my experience that people, especially those in power, do not like to be questioned. The man known for his “plain speaking,” Harry Truman, said, “When you have an efficient government, you have a dictatorship.” Harry said this because he could not always get his way because there were others in government who opposed some of his ideas.

Several people who have criticized me for questioning the status quo have also criticized me for not offering any alternatives or solutions. I am flummoxed by this because one can find many examples of alternatives and solutions in this blog, and also in my previous BaconLOG. It makes me wonder if they read anything other than what they criticize.

In regard to the odious practice of offering a draw I have suggested awarding more points for a draw, or a win, with Black. I have suggested changing the rules of chess so that after White makes his first move Black can then make two moves, as long as they are not with the same piece, or pawn. I have also suggested pawns be allowed to “retreat to the rear” by being allowed to move backward.

I have suggested a program for the USCF to “Bring ‘Em Back,” whereby those in power put some money into a program to bring back adults who have left the Royal game. I have also suggested USCF do something, anything, for Senior chess, to no avail. The price for an adult membership is $46. A Senior receives a $6 break, having to pay “only” $40. Contrast this with a membership in SABR, the Society for Baseball Research, which is $65 for a regular membership, but only $45 for a Senior membership. The cost of a USCF membership is lower for younger members and the younger the age, the lower the price of membership. This tells you exactly what kind of member is wanted by those in charge of the USCF. The motto of the USCF used to be, “Chess is a lifetime sport.” Now those in power have something called a “vision statement,” which is, “Our vision is to enrich the lives of all persons and communities through increasing the play, study, and appreciation of the game of chess.” All, that is, except Seniors.

There is no doubt about where the money is in chess; it is in children’s chess. If anyone questions this just ask those triple digit rated “players” who cannot differentiate between checkmate and stalemate who are making money hand over fist by selling parents a pig in a poke for their children.

For the problem of the criminal element in power and control of FIDE I have suggested getting rid of Kirsan the ET, and the power behind his throne, Rootin’ Tootin’ Ras Pootin’, by having the ET’s with whom Kirsan has traveled the galaxy place both of them on a spaceship and send them across the universe. There have long been rumors of an exchange program between ETs and humans. (http://www.serpo.org/release32.php) I advocate another exchange program with the aforementioned tag-team duo being the first to board the alien space craft.

There are many who tout, and spout, the party line, whether they believe it or not, and they can be found currying favor and sucking up to the fools in power, brown nosing it all the way to the bank. I am not one of those people. If that is what you want this is not the blog for you. “Don’t worry, be happy,” and “Everything is beautiful in its own way” type blogs proliferate, as do “yes men,” and yes, women. Society is not advanced by those who never question, but only accept what what they are told.

You can find the lyrics to this song, which include this, “Oh yes, there’s those who only criticise yet offer nothing new, solutions? Ideas?
No, just rake up shit what a clever thing to do,” here: http://www.lyricsmania.com/a_declaration_of_independence_lyrics_conflict.html

“And We Will Have Discipline”

The best chess magazine on the planet, New In Chess, has a regular feature, “Just Checking,” in which questions are posed to famous players of the Royal game. One of the questions that has been posed most often is, “What is the stupidest rule in chess?” The answer given most is, “The zero-tolerance rule.” It is more than a little obvious most players do not care for the FIDE’s draconian rule. Peter Heine Nielsen, Boris Avrukh, Daniel King, and Ivan Saric, all GM’s answered the question posed with the zero-tolerance rule, with the latter going on to add in NIC 2014/2, “In the whole history of chess (and also sport) there hasn’t been such a stupid rule. It puts huge pressure on the players before the game. This was the easiest question.”
Since there is almost universal agreement among the best human players in the world it would seem those who promulgated the rule would have rescinded it long ago. To understand why they have not done so is to understand what kind of people are those who administer FIDE. They obviously know how the players feel but obviously could care less. These despotic dictators simply do not care what their “subjects” think about the rule. These are people who insist on imposing their will on chess players because they understand they are much inferior compared to the great players. Draconian dictators do not listen to their subjects because they expect their inferiors to listen, and obey, them. They expect this no matter how much it hurts the Royal game because they could care less about the game of chess. These despots care only about ruling the game.
The players should get together and organize just as the Major League Baseball players did decades ago. I have no idea why they have not done so, but it could be because they compete it is difficult for them to agree. Yet they seem to be in total agreement about the zero-tolerance rule. What top level chess needs is a man like Marvin Miller, who was head of the Major League Baseball Players Association from 1966 to 1982. “He was responsible for negotiation baseball’s first collective bargaining agreement in 1968, which included the first rise in the minimum salary in a decade; salaries would rise exponentially during his tenure, reflecting growing revenues. He was a key figure in the development of free agency, and he led the players through strikes in 1972, 1980 and 1981, and lockouts decreed by the owners in 1973 and 1976. Hank Aaron said he was “as important to the history of baseball as Jackie Robinson.” Red Barber called him one of three most important figures in baseball history, alongside Robinson and Babe Ruth.” (http://www.baseball-reference.com/bullpen/Marvin_Miller)

In an article, “King talks with Kirsan,” on the Chessbase website, dated 8/11/2014, GM Daniel King asked Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the mediocre player and FIDE dictator, who said he has traveled the universe in an Extraterrestrial spaceship piloted by otherworldly entities, “There is one FIDE rule that many many chess players are unhappy with, which is the zero tolerance rule. For example, there was a young girl here, a ten-year-old girl here, who unfortunately came two minutes late to the game and she lost. It seems very harsh. Would you consider reviewing this rule?”

Kirsan the ET answered, “We have a technical commission consisting of chess players and arbiters and I remember in Dresden in 2008 at the General Assembly, we decided that everyone should be on time. You remember the football match between Brazil and Germany? Can you imagine if both teams arrived five minutes late?”

GM Daniel King: “Of course, but chess isn’t football. This girl was young and innocent and was very very upset. There are many other incidents where a player has arrived a little late just by accident and this seems very harsh.”

Kirsan the ET: “Ok, write your proposal and we will discuss it at the presidential meeting. However, the Chief Arbiter (of the Olympiad) came to me five minutes ago and said, “Mr. President, it’s very good, no one is late. At 2 PM they start.” For me it’s not a problem because this was decided by the majority. I remember in 1998, when I organized the World Championship match between Vishy Anand and Anatoly Karpov in Lausanne, Switzerland, in the presence of the president of the Olympic Committee, in the Olympic Museum, with dozens of cameras, many journalists, the mayor of Lausanne, some high officials of the Swiss government, hundreds of spectators. At 3 PM, Vishy Anand was there sitting, but not Anatoly Karpov. We waited 10-15 minutes, and the president of the Olympic Committee turned to me and asked how I could expect to join the Olympic games in such circumstances.”

GM Daniel King: “I understand completely for professional chess, but it seems to me there is a big difference between professional chess and amateur chess.”

Kirsan the ET: “There is no professional chess and non-professional chess, there is only chess. And we will have discipline.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/king-talks-with-kirsan)

The added remark, “And we will have discipline,” sounds like something one might hear from a grammar school principal, or a despotic dictator. For chess to survive as a viable game Kirsan the ET has got to go back to the stars, along with his benefactor and power behind the scenes, Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

The Chess Book Critic

It is ironic that in one respect we seem to be living in a golden age of chess books. It is ironic because “books” are giving way to “digits” on a machine, not to mention the possible diminution of chess because of so many negative facets of the game in this new century. There is the problem of so many non-serious drawn games, and the cheating crisis, not to mention the possibility of Kirsan the ET “winning” yet another term as FIDE President. Any one blow could be fatal. All three could mean oblivion for the Royal game. Today I put all of that out of my mind and write about chess books.
Decades ago I had an opening notebook in which games were written by my hand, along with clippings and copies of games in my esoteric choice of openings, such as the Fantasy variation against the Caro-Kann, 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3!?, a move played by World Champion Vassily Smyslov. The Legendary Georgia Ironman called my notebook “Bacon’s book of ‘Death Lines’.” The cover came off but like LM Brian McCarthy said, “It still has the meat!” Like most all of what I had collected over the years, it too, alas, is gone with the wind. There were no databases then, and no books on such an obscure variation. A line such as this would be given maybe a line or two in an opening encyclopedia. Over the years I have seen a book published on just about all of the openings I used to play to “get out of the book,” such as the the Bishop’s opening, “The truth- as it was known in those far-off days,” or so said Dr. Savielly Tartakover in his book, “500 Master Games of Chess.” There were half a dozen books devoted to the BO on the shelves of The Dump. A quick check shows a new one, “The Bishop’s Opening (Chess is Fun)” by Jon Edwards appeared at the end of 2011 in what is called a “Kindle edition.” I have often wondered if it is possible to change a digit on one of those gizmo’s. For example, is it possible to “hack” one of the digital monsters and change one digit in ALL of the digital monsters? Like changing a move for Black from Bd6 to Bb6? Then when your opponent follows “book” and plays his bishop to b6 and loses, he may say something like, “I don’t understand it, Bb6 is the “book” move…” That is when you come from Missouri and say, “Show me.” When he brings out his reading machine you say, “That was not a ‘book’ move, it was a ‘gizmo’ move!”
This book has been on my ’roundtoit’ list since it was published in April: The Extreme Caro-Kann: Attacking Black with 3.f3, by Alexey Bezgodov and published by New In Chess. The books published by NiC are usually exceptional, and from what I have seen, this one is no exception.
Another book on my list is “The Enigma of Chess Intuition: Can You Mobilize Hidden Forces in Your Chess?” by Valeri Beim, published in June of 2012 and also by NiC. I have always been intrigued by those fortunate enough to have chess intuition. I thought I had this book in a box but could not find it: “Secrets of Chess Intuition” by Alexander Beliavsky and Adrian Mikhalchishin. This was published by Gambit way back in 2001. While researching this book online I managed to find it in downloadable form, and it is now a bunch of digits inside Toby, my ‘puter. GM Mikhalchishin was a student of IM Boris Kogan, so who knows, I may find a little of his wisdom passed down therein.
I have many books that came after the flood that are still waiting to be read, so I do not need another chess book. At least that was what I thought until reading the Book Review of June 18, 2014, by Steve Goldberg of “John Nunn’s Chess Course” by John Nunn. “Illuminating and clear, and informative and entertaining.” That is succinct. Steve gives it six stars and you can find it here: http://www.chesscafe.com/Reviews/review943.htm
The last thing I need at my age is any kind of “chess course.” I forget most of what I have learned by game time, so I have to go with what I know, Joe. Memorizing an opening variation is out of the question. But I was hooked after reading the first sentence, “In John Nunn’s Chess Course, Grandmaster John Nunn presents 100 of Emanuel Lasker’s games and twenty-four exercises taken from Lasker’s games.” That is good enough for me. With one of the best chess writer’s of all time, GM John Nunn, writing about the Great Man, Dr. Emanuel Lasker, what is not to like? Above the table where I study chess and Go is a picture of the Great Man himself. It is a color painting of Lasker in a suit, sitting with pen in hand while writing.
Wanting to know more about the book I surfed on over to the Gorilla, finding there were three reviews and a composite score of four and a half stars. Skrolling down showed two reviewers had given the book all five stars, while one had given it only three stars. I read this review last.
The first review was by Derek Grimmell who said, “A games collection both good to read and educational.” It is stated on the page that “20 of 21 people found the following review helpful.”
The next review is by AltitudeRocks, who writes, “Here, here! Or is it “hear here!” (or some other permutation)?” I have no idea what AR means by this, but he did follow it succinctly with, “Reviewer Grimmell deserves five stars for his review, and I cannot improve upon it.” 2 of 3 people found it helpful. Each of these reviewers used a “Kindle Edition” gizmo in lieu of an actual book, but the last reviewer, David, read a paperback, or so it says. The first review appeared May 23, but the two following popped up the same day, June 7.
David writes, “Not really with verbal explanations…” He then proceeds with his review, all of which I present:
“I will not describe the book, since that is done already by the publisher. What I will describe is my impression, and why I give 3 stars to Nunn’s books.
Nunn shows over and over in all his books, that the truth in chess exists. He doesn’t explain “how” to reach it (e.g did he use different engines plus his GM Level evaluation? Or he just analyses everything by himself, and then ask to someone else to check the analysis with an engine? or…? And “how” would the reader reach the same “truth” if he is not at Nunn’s level?), but he shows the faulty analyses of previous commentators, and also many authors who just copied and paste. In his book is shown how some publishers don’t have editors to correct mistakes like when the author of another book writes “Black” and means “White.” Of course shame on those authors, but evidently the chess field is full of snake-oil salesmen. Now, also when Nunn just tries to give a comment, without going into deep analyses, well feel ready to open your computer, and use your database program, because Nunn will go deep to prove the point. Example. I bought the book on Alekhine’s game, written by Alekhine, and with effort I could follow Alekhine’s comments and lines without moving the pieces on the board. With Nunn I cannot do so. The lines he gives are too long to be visualized, and there are many under-lines which need to be checked. (This has been synthesized well, by another reader of the book saying that if one wants analyses 40 plies long, it is just enough to click the engine button)
The real problem with Nunn is that he writes and check his analyses like a scholar, a professor of the field, while most other authors are amateurs trying to make some bucks out of their books. I don’t know if the average player, the one who plays blitz all day long online, and whose favorite authors have IM titles gained long time ago (maybe out of luck) deserve such precise and difficult books.
While I praise Nunn for writing this book, I honestly don’t like it, and I feel cheated by the publisher which writes: “explanation focus on general ideas rather than detailed analysis” This phrase is only partly true. The analysis are detailed like the one of Kasparov in his great predecessor series, and if I had known that, I wouldn’t have bought it.
Still, Nunn’s job is monumental, but as a reader, I don’t really think I will improve, because he made all the analysis, and in the end I can only agree with them, without using much of my brain (also because his analysis are good, and correct, not like the authors mentioned above who just make a copy and paste of other writers before).
The humor is that Nunn choose Lasker, because his games should be easier for the reader to understand.
For example, I’d like to take the first position given in the book. Houdini after 7 minutes, using 4 cpus, goes back from Qxe4 (chosen after 10-15 seconds) to Pc4, to Qxe4, all with numerical evaluations which are ridiculous, like + or – 0.13 or 0.20. Now honestly as reader how would I understand which move is better and why? Not from Nunn who doesn’t explain how he came to choose one over the other. After 12 minutes thinking Houdini at 27 moves deep (54 plies) agrees with the moves played in the game from move 24 to 26, changing move 27. But as a reader, I didn’t learn anything from Houdini, or from Nunn’s analysis, also if they are correct, and once again praise to GM Nunn for such an amazing job. If the publisher after reading this review, wants to give me back the money, I will gladly send the book back! (just add 3.99 for the S&H thanks! something like 20$ total, or just send me another book, so I can sell it and get the money back, because I already know, I will not be able to read this book)” (http://www.amazon.com/John-Nunns-Chess-Course-Nunn/dp/1906454825/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1403116508&sr=1-1&keywords=John+Nunn%27s+Chess+Course)
Make of it what you will…Only “2 of 8 people found the review helpful.” I clicked on “David” to find he has reviewed seven different items, six of which he awarded ONE star. Only the Nunn book received more than one star. The other book reviewed by “David” is “The Alekhine Defence: Move by Move by Cyrus Lakdawala.” He asks, “Why Lakdawala hates President Bush?” Then he writes, “I didn’t buy the book, but I was interested in buying it. What stopped me was an offensive political/historical comparison made by Mr. Lakdawala upon President Bush.”
After reading the above you KNOW I was COMPELLED to read the rest!
“Mr. Lakdawala comparison with previous wars made by dictators and self-centered ego maniac like Hitler and Napoleon, is unfair toward President Bush, and should be removed by its publisher Everyman chess.
Thanks to Amazon “Look Inside” feature we can see Mr. Lakdawala political agenda. Mr. Lakdawala begins with a faulty assumption, saying that all history great military failures follow this equation: “temptation + undermining = Overextension.” Of course, Mr. Lakdawala is NOT a historian, and fails to prove the point, showing us if that did actually happen in ALL military failures, or if this is just his opinion, not based on actual research, which I believe is the case.
Mr.Lakdawala continues saying that “the aggressor” please keep in mind this term because will be referred to President Bush too, seizes power and territory (here Mr. Lakdawala forgets 9/11, and the tragedy brought upon United States, and equal the war in Afghanistan, and Iraq to the wars made by Hitler and Napoleon) instead of consolidating gains, the aggressor continues to expand with unbridled ambition (Did President Bush do that Mr. Lakdawala??) and then Mr. Lakdawala finishes his faulty syllogism with: “the aggressor overextends, retreats in disarray, and bungles the war.”
Now we come to the salient part, where Mr. Lakdawala needs to attack President Bush: “If you don’t believe me, just asks Napoleon, Hitler, and Bush how well their campaigns worked for them!”
I’m sorry but I don’t accept that someone compares the imperialist warmongers, like Hitler, and Napoleon, with President Bush, a president elected by hundred of millions of Americans, who had to lead the nation through a terrible tragedy.
First of all, also at superficial level we could notice that Hitler killed himself in a bunker, and one of his strict collaborators, Goebbels, also killed himself with all his family. Then we could notice that most of nazi leaders have been condemned for crimes against humanity in the Nuremberg trial, did Bush have the same fate? Have the congress and senate of the United States of America, who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and who has been elected also with the vote of Mr. Lakdawala, have been indicted and put under trial for crimes against humanity? Is United States a country divided in two parts, controlled by China, and some European countries, like it happened to Germany after the end of the Second World War?
Of course I could continue for hours to show the ignorance of politics and history Mr. Lakdawala shows in his light comment, but I believe here there is also a failure from the publisher, and its editors into correcting mr. Lakdawala’s political views, and keep them confined to his blog, his facebook, his twitter, or whatever other forms of social media he uses to communicate with his buddies. A book, about chess, and about a chess opening, should talk about that subject, let’s leave politics, and historical judgments, to those who write in those field as professionals.

Then let’s speak also of the Alekhine defence, an opening who has the name from someone who was a Nazi collaborator, and Mr. Lakdawala, so fond of comparisons with Napoleon, Hitler, and Bush, forgets to mention it. Does really White loses all his games due to overextension? Because if this doesn’t happen, then also the beginning “universal equation” fails. For example did Mr. Lakdawala showed us examples of Houdini, one of the best chess engines, losing a single game against him, due to overextension? No. Mr. Lakdawala fails to show us that. Because a “scholar” of a subject should prove his statements through some statistical analysis. But I don’t find this in his book. In Chessgames.com there are about 1618 games with the Alekhine defence, and they are divided in 37.3% of the times wins by White, 33.1% wins by Black, and a 29.5% draws. This fails to illustrate the point that the “universal” equation works, because in fact we don’t know if White overextended in those 33.1% of the times, but it would have made more sense, than instead of knowing Mr. Lakdawala political agenda against President Bush, his publisher and editors would have steered him toward the realm of chess data, and asked to answer that question.”
My first thought after finishing the above was, “There’s something happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. David.”
“6 of 24 people found the review helpful.” Did they now? I found it highly entertaining in a Rush Limbaugh kind of way, but helpful? No. Although I have not taken the time to ascertain what the average number is for those clicking on whether or not the review was helpful, it seems to me the total must be something like at least 70%-80% helpful. For “David’s” two book reviews it is 8 out of 32, or 25%. For all seven of his reviews 78 out of 262 considered his reviews “helpful.” That is a batting average of .298 folks, which is 3 out of 10.
If you are still with me you may have surmised that I JUST HAD to go to the page of the book and have a “Look Inside.” I liked the first sentence, “The only openings worth playing are the ones that reflect our inner nature.” As for an author using the military and war to make a point about chess…who would do something like that? Surf on over and read it for yourself.
If you are into chess books there is this interesting article on Chess.com, “Best chess masters biographies?” (http://www.chess.com/forum/view/chess-equipment/best-chess-masters-biographies)

The Chess Ostrich

In an essay by Dave Cameron, “White Bred: Major League Baseball’s Intern Issue,” in the excellent book, “The Hardball Times Baseball Annual 2014,” a Fangraphs production, I read, something that made me think of my writing about chess. Dave wrote, “Even within a single organization, it is valuable to have people pushing back against the accepted ideas so that traditions don’t become entrenched simply because it is the cultural norm for the majority of the employees.”
Bill James is considered to be the “father of sabermetrics,” because he questioned the accepted ideas that had become entrenched traditions in Major League Baseball. The game has changed in many ways because one man dared to question the Status-quo.
Progress is not made by conservative people who do not question. If our forefathers had accepted the Status quo we would still be subjects of the Queen of England. If Albert Einstein, and his wife Mileva (http://www.pbs.org/opb/einsteinswife/) had not questioned accepted wisdom and given us special relativity and general relativity, we would not now have GPS.
Former President of the GCA and former Senior Champion of the Great State of Georgia Scott Parker once said about my writing, “I do not often agree with you, but I will admit what you write is always interesting.” Michael Mulford, another chess “pooh-bah,” wrote in an email that he only agreed with me “about 25% of the time.” My thought was, “That much?” The Georgia Tech radio station, WREK, one of only two college stations in the world that possess 100,000 watts (WRAS, the Georgia State station being the other one, but that could change if Georgia Governor Nathan “Raw” Deal has his way: http://clatl.com/atlanta/up-in-the-air/Content?oid=11215404) used to play something that began with one bird singing, then another joining in, and culminating with many birds singing. Then a voice could be heard saying, “Here at WREK we give all the birds a chance to sing.” Everyone should be heard, no matter how outlandish one may think their opinion. Otherwise we are all “singing to the choir.”
I write this because chess is facing difficult times. There is the draw death issue, the cheating by gizmo issue, and the Kirsan the ET issue. The signs are everywhere, if one is receptive to them. For example, a decade ago chess books were crowded off the shelves at bookstores by books on poker, the latest craze. Now that the air has been let out of the poker balloon, one finds very few books on poker on the shelves (“Straight Flush: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a Billion-Dollar Online Poker Empire” by Ben Mezrich). The space has not been replaced with books on chess. Backgammon was the “in thing” back in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, and then it faded quickly. The game is still played, and there are tournaments, but at least a zero has been taken off the number of participants.
I, and many others, believe the proliferation of short draws has diminished the stature of chess. There are enough hard fought, “serious” games ending in a draw without players agreeing to split the point before a “serious” game can be contested. What some ignorant people fail to understand is that if only one fan of chess decides he has seen enough short draws by the best players to last a lifetime and turns to something else more interesting than another boring draw, it has diminished chess and hurt the Royal game. When the news from the chess world is of yet another cheating scandal like the one now known as “Toiletgate,” it diminishes the game in the mind of the public. When the game has no credibility in the mind of the public, there is no game.
Because the issue of so many short non-game draws is so important I decided to put my post of June 6, “What Constitutes a “Serious Game?” on the USCF forum. It has, as of this writing, been read by only a couple of hundred people (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=20054&sid=b5bf1c80970edc2dd56544fdd20b3c44). A few readers have left comments, including one by tmagchesspgh, or Thomas P. Magar. His comment culminates with this paragraph: “If you want the players to be gladiators at all times, selfish spectators, pony up the cash to sponsor the event. Buy tickets. Then you can demand that the players play for blood. Otherwise, just shut up and watch. There are enough deluded professionals out there who will sacrifice health, sanity, and their economic well being to provide you with free games to watch.”
The Discman sent me this comment concerning the post by Thomas Magar:
“Well that post is over the top. Spectators just want to see hard-faught games between great players.
Free lessons & DVD’s? What the heck??”
It is difficult, if not impossible, to hear the birds sing when one has, like the ostrich, buried his head in the sand.

The South Carolina Senior Chess Championships

The SC Senior was held April 19-20 at the Embassy Suites Golf Resort & Conference Center in Greenville. It was nice to see a Senior tournament in such a fine venue. It was unfortunate to see such a small number of players, with only ten playing in the SC Senior and eight in the ancillary “Section 2” tournament, called “Amateur.” I could not help thinking of something Klaus Pohl, the winner of the tournament, said many years ago about, “A Senior tournament ought to be only an open tournament because when one gets to be a Senior, any player can beat any other player.” He agreed when I mentioned another reason being that by the time one reached 50 there were hardly enough players for even one section.
I just checked the website of the South Carolina Chess Association (http://www.scchess.org/) to find the lead article is on the SC Scholastics Championship Tournament, held on Saturday, March 22, a month prior to the SC Senior. This, as much as anything, illustrates the sway held by scholastic chess not only in SC, but the US. If one skrolls down a notice for the coming SC Senior can be found.
I did not play in the tournament because of the time control, which was G/100 d5. The players with whom I talked about the tournament had not even heard of it, nor were they aware of the Chess for Seniors Website, which can be clicked on at the aforementioned SC website. Although I find this a shame, the fact is that organizers of Senior events continue to hold tournaments in which Seniors have little, if any, interest in attending. I am reminded of the quote by Albert Einstein, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As I mentioned the forever young LM Klaus Pohl won the event with a score of 4-0, which included wins in his first three rounds and a full point forfeit win to his friend and travel partner Wayne Christensen. I have written about the duo previously and their love of the game, demonstrated when they stayed at the House of Pain after a weekend swiss ended, playing speed chess with any and everyone during a storm that caused the power to terminate. I could not understand what had caused such an event, so I sent an email to the Chess for Seniors website (http://chessforseniors.org/), and received this reply:
Apr 23
Hi, Michael

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Bob Mahan, organizer/director of the 2014 South Carolina Senior Championships. I also serve as Chairperson of the USCF Committee on Senior Chess and am President of the Blacksburg (Virginia) Senior Chess Club. This year I am organizing and directing five senior chess tournaments, four of which (West Virginia, South Carolina, Kentucky, and North Carolina) are state championship events. Along with Mike Eberhardinger, President of the Chess For Seniors Association, I have also put together and operate the Chess For Seniors Challenge, a consortium of seven senior chess tournaments in the mid-Atlantic region that awards a travel stipend to a player in the consortium tournaments for travel to the U.S. Senior Open. So as you can see, I am very much committed to senior chess and am very open to suggestions from members of the community like you. Thank you very much for taking the time to contact the CFSA with your comments, questions, and suggestions.

First, concerning the 4th-round game between Klaus Pohl and Wayne Christensen at the recent SC Senior Championships. The round times were published in all pre-tournament publicity and were prominently displayed on the wall in the playing room. In retrospect, I probably could have been been more diligent in emphasizing in my announcements before Round 3 the starting time for Round 4. You can probably see where this is going. Wayne arrived ready to play at approximately 3:05 PM on Sunday, one hour and five minutes late for the posted 2:00 PM starting time for Round 4, which started on time. Wayne was the only person who did not arrive on time for the start of Round 4. By the time he arrived, he had overstepped the one-hour time limit by five minutes. To his credit, Klaus offered to play him anyway, with no time penalty. However, the rules give the TD very little discretion on this point. Also, it was the last round at the end of a two-day tournament, and starting more than one hour late would have extended an already long day for the organizer/TD. Wayne was gracious in accepting the inevitable, which will not surprise those of you who know him. When I told him he had lost on forfeit he said something like “oh!” and left the playing site without further discussion.

Concerning pre-tournament publicity. I am sorry that you did not hear about the tournament in a timely manner. I took over responsibility for the tournament at the last minute with only 8 weeks notice. As a result I was only able to get a TLA inserted in the April Chess Life. However, the tournament was advertized at the ChessForSeniors site and at the SCCA web site for the entire 8 weeks. Also, there was an ad in the March Chess life for the “Chess For Seniors Challenge” that listed the SC Senior Championships, with the dates, as one of the seven tournaments. Also, I attend a regional tournament essentially every weekend and post and distribute flyers advertising all of my coming tournaments. Finally, I sent out nearly 100 emails to my list of regional senior members of USCF. If you have visited chessforseniors.org you will have seen the postings of all senior chess tournaments that we know about, include international tournaments. We are trying hard to get the word out about this comprehensive listing, but we are a new organization (less than a year old) and it takes time to become known. We’ll do better next year.

Finally, concerning time controls. I have heard from others on this topic and agree that something like G/120 is more appropriate (Please see the Survey at chessforseniors.org) for senior chess. Unfortunately, our next two tournaments (Blacksburg Senior Open and Kentucky Senior Championships) are already advertised in Chess Life with the G/100, d5 TC, so I can’t change those two. However, I will increase the TC for the North Carolina Senior Open. In fact, I prefer the increment to the delay mode and may use that at the NC Senior.

Feel free to paraphrase and/or quote me in your blog, and thanks again for taking the time to write such a thoughtful message.
Best regards,
Bob Mahan
My reply to Bob:
It is I who should thank you, sir, for such a thoughtful reply. I would also like to thank you for what you are trying to do for Senior chess. I played in a few events after turning 50 and tried to boost interest with my blog(s), emails, and word of mouth while working at the Atlanta Chess Center and traveling to play in tournaments. I tried to get Rex Sinquefield interested, to no avail. All the interest,and money, has gone to chess for children. It is a shame, for me, you did not become involved a decade ago. I no longer have the desire, energy, or money to travel. I have seen first-hand the toll it takes on a player much younger than me. Two games a day now seems like torture. I simply no longer have the stamina for it at this time in my life. I therefore understand shortening the time limit for the game when more than one will be played. Honestly, I, and others, would prefer to play only one game a day now. It simply no longer sounds like fun…I will say that one thing I have heard frequently from my generation (I was a “pre-Fischer boomer,” having played in my first USCF tournament in 1970) is they would prefer to have a time control like the old days, at move 40. It does not have to be 40/2, as it was, but maybe 40/90, with a secondary time control, even if it is SD/30 with a 30 second increment, or some such. For example, I have never played in a tournament with a 30 second increment, and I resent the fact that everyone seems to be marching in lockstep to the dictates of Kirsan the ET and his G/90+ time control. Where was the discussion? Why are Seniors forced to adhere to regulations they do not want? And it is not only I who ask these questions…
It is late and I am tired…I will send you another email later with links to some of the posts I made concerning Senior chess. I will give you a link to a post that Harry Sabine sent to everyone he knows, I am told. Unfortunately, he changed the format the next year after asking my opinion. I told him I would not play if he insisted on including “drop-in.” He did and I didn’t…and have not played since. Evidently many other players agreed with me as the turnout dropped the next year, and maybe since. I cannot recall…
http://baconlog.blogspot.com/2009/06/tennessee-senior-open.html
All the best to you,
Michael Bacon
After sending the reply I sent Bob another email, telling him I saw Chris Ferrante, the only player from Georgia at the SCS, at the recent large tournament for children held in Atlanta at the Hyatt downtown and asked him what transpired with the last round game between Klaus and Wayne. I quoted Chris, “I do not know because I had withdrawn and left, but when I looked at the crosstable, I assumed there was some kind of deal between them because I have seen them agree to early draws in other tournaments.” At this point he turned and walked out the door, obviously in a hurry. For that reason I had no time to tell him about Bob’s email. For that reason I decided to post this, for the record.