Letter Arrives More Than 100 years After Being Posted
By Christian Edwards, CNN February 16, 2023
London CNN —
A letter has finally been delivered to its destination – more than a century after it was written.
Sent in February 1916, the correspondence arrived at its intended address in Hamlet Road, south London, much to the bewilderment of the current occupants.
“We noticed that the year on it was ’16. So we thought it was 2016,” Finlay Glen told CNN Thursday. “Then we noticed that the stamp was a King rather than a Queen, so we felt that it couldn’t have been 2016.”
Glen told CNN that the letter arrived at the property a couple of years ago, but he has only recently taken it to the local historical society, so they can research it further.
The envelope has a 1 pence stamp bearing the head of King George V. The letter was sent in the middle of World War I – more than a decade before Queen Elizabeth II was born.
“Once we realized it was very old, we felt that it was okay to open up the letter,” said Glen, 27.
An article, Rowson Returns!, appeared at the website of the United States Chess Federation dated February 7, 2023 (https://new.uschess.org/news/rowson-returns), which was written by John Hartmann. The article includes a nice picture of the older, pensive, Rowson, obviously lost in thought.
Event: Mindsports Masters GM Site: London ENG Date: 09/13/2022 ECO: E20 Nimzo-Indian defence
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.Bd2 c5 5.d5 O-O 6.f3 d6 7.e4 exd5 8.cxd5 Nh5 9.g4 (Jahn Hartmann attaches a !?, to the move, which means “A move deserving attention.” I’ll say!
It is difficult to believe any GM, or any titled player for that matter, would play such a weak, losing move. The Rowson page at 365Chess.com shows he only played nine games between 2014 and 2017. There is a gap from then until 2022. Any player returning after such a long layoff could be considered “out of form.” Let us think of him as “Rusty” Rowson. Still, no matter how out of form was Rusty Rowson, the fact is that no Grandmaster, whether in, or out of, form, would play such a move, violating as it does many Chess ‘rules’. If teaching the Royal Game to a student any Chess teacher would CRINGE upon seeing such a move. With that in mind, why did the Rusty one play a losing move? Your guess is as good as mine… Maybe someone will bring this post to the attention of Rusty and he will leave a comment explaining why he played a losing move so early in the game.
In his annotations to the game John Hartmann writes, “A remarkable concept. White gives up the exchange for hamstringing the black queen.” Say WHAT? After this move white is BUSTED, Buster! Mr. Hartmann needs to replace that exclamation mark with a second question mark.
9…Qh4+ (Duh) 10.Ke2 Ng3+ 11.hxg3 Qxh1 12.Kf2
(The annotator gives the move a “!?” and writes, “A remarkable concept. White gives up the exchange for hamstringing the black queen.” Say WHAT? After this move white is BUSTED, Buster! Mr. Hartmann needs to replace that exclamation mark with a second question mark.) 9…Qh4+ (Duh) 10.Ke2 Ng3+ 11.hxg3 Qxh1 12.Kf2 (I had quickly gotten to this position in my mind because there is a pause for, “This position is well worth analyzing without an engine because there are options at every turn.” Say WHAT? That sentence is the definition of superfluous as it could be said about most Chess moves. Regardless, the fact is that while reading and replaying the game on the USCF website I noticed colorful variations, not in the sense of a “colorful” Chess variation, but variations in different colors. Being a straight, no chaser, kinda guy
I decided to input the moves up to this point into 365Chess and play it out on a board sans annotations. After imputing 9 g4 I saw there were two games in the database so I clicked on and… It was necessary to click onto all the moves until 12.Kf2, which was when this game, in addition to “Aronian v Efimenko,” was found, blowing what’s left of my mind… Not one, but TWO, different GMs had played a losing move on the ninth move of the game! Inquiring minds MUST KNOW, so off I went to see the Fish, Stock, that is. After thrusting the g pawn Stockfish gives -2.0. Like I said earlier, BUSTED! No doubt a doubly remarkable concept.)
Grandmaster Rowson is a very interesting fellow whom I had the pleasure to meet and talk at a World Open. One of the book reviews found at this blog concerns one of his books, and the multi-part review elicited this from a reader concerning the review. “This is, with a doubt, the longest, and best, book review I have ever read!” That may, or may not, be hyperbole, but I will take it because more condemnation has been received concerning what has been written on the blog than praise…Check out part one here:
By Daniel B. Baer, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision in late 2021 to amass more than 100,000 soldiers on the Russian border with Ukraine and then to send thousands more into Belarus last month—ostensibly for exercises—has seized the West’s, if not the world’s, attention. The precedent seems clear: In 2014, Putin invaded Ukraine, purportedly annexed Crimea, and set up a proxy occupation of two regions in Ukraine’s east, fueled by Russian money, directed by Russian officials, and supported with Russian military and intelligence personnel. Now, he looks poised to come back and take another, even bigger, bite out of Ukraine.
The menacing move has triggered multiple vectors of diplomacy, with Washington offering Moscow serious talks about security concerns while simultaneously rallying partners and allies to be prepared to impose costs—an effort to deter a possible invasion but also to ensure it does not happen with impunity. So far, Putin’s behavior has not encouraged confidence in a diplomatic outcome. In December 2021, the Russians published demands to, effectively, rewind the clock on most of the last quarter century of developments in European security. Sergei Ryabkov, the deputy foreign minister responsible for representing Russia in talks with the United States in mid-January, had no authority to engage on any topics at all unless Russia’s maximalist demands were accepted ex ante. That isn’t the position of a diplomat who has come to do diplomacy; it’s the position of a guy who’s part of a setup.
All of this—and the attempt to avert an invasion—has set off a new round of guessing at what Putin’s objectives are and subsequent conjecture about how to mollify him in an acceptable way. It has become a kind of parlor game in Washington, Berlin, Brussels, London, and Paris to unravel a presumed multistep play, where they imagine Putin hived away in the Kremlin and calmly managing a complex strategy, always half a dozen steps ahead. An endless analysis of ulterior motives by the pundits gets mixed in: Putin wants to restore the Soviet Union, prevent Ukraine from pursuing a European future, draw a red line around NATO, drive a wedge into the West, distract from his failings at home, respond to a genuine—if unwarranted—sense of threat, make things difficult for U.S. President Joe Biden by bringing back former U.S. President Donald Trump, or any combination of the above. Add a few references to the Cold War and its long-game complexities, and it’s easy to see why the chess match metaphor is never far away.
But, as political scientist Eliot Cohen has eloquently noted, the cliche of Putin as amaster chess player thinking multiple steps ahead—and the metaphorical corollary of his Western counterparts playing mere checkers—is tired. If anything, it was never apt at all, in no small part because it attributes to genius what is better attributed to base thuggery. And the thing about thuggery is it doesn’t take enormous amounts of strategic thinking to make it effective. It is essentially opportunistic and asymmetric.
Putin exercises power in international politics by destroying things. He invades and occupies countries. He throttles the supply of gas to threaten freezing European families in the middle of winter. His diplomats at the United Nations and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are clever international lawyers enlisted in a cynical mission to sabotage the efforts of more responsible countries to build international institutions and tackle common regional and global challenges based on universal human rights. The infrastructure of world peace and prosperity takes time, patience, and skill to build. Knocking the pieces over is easy.
Putin’s genius as a strategist is often overstated. But there are two additional flaws in the chess metaphor that lead to even more consequential analytical mistakes. The metaphor—and others used to describe the high-stakes interaction between Biden and Putin—risks distorting not only the search for policy solutions but also the world’s understanding of the stakes.
The chess metaphor also obscures the moral stakes. Indeed, the discussion in the United States and Europe about the current standoff often seems dangerously detached from any moral worldview. It approaches with intellectual remove the question of whether some sort of agreement can be reached and implicitly encourages indulgence in moral relativism as if the two sides were moral equals. Strikingly, the most powerful condemnation in recent weeks has come—with immense courage—from inside Russia, when Russian human rights activists, artist, and intellectuals signed a public petition to condemn Putin’s threats to invade, stating: “Promoting the idea of such a war is immoral, irresponsible, and criminal, and cannot be implemented on behalf of Russia’s peoples. Such a war cannot have either legal or moral goals.” The petition is an important reminder that what Putin is doing is morally outrageous. He is threatening to kill even more Ukrainians than the 14,000 individuals who have already died since the 2014 conflict began. Ukraine has not threatened Russia or its citizens. Putin is threatening a war of aggression. (https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/02/05/putin-chess-metaphor-russia-ukraine/)
Computers Are Haunting The World Chess Championship (Which, Yes, Is Still Tied)
By Oliver Roeder
Game 3 of the World Chess Championship in London, like the two games that came before it, ended in a draw — 49 moves and a touch more than four hours. The best-of-12 championship is currently level at 1.5 points apiece in a race to 6.5 points and the game’s most important prize.
On Monday, Caruana controlled the white pieces and Carlsen the black.
The pair began Game 3 with an opening called the Sicilian Defence, specifically its Rossolimo Variation. It was the same opening they played in Game 1 — which ended in an epic seven-hour draw — and the first five moves exactly matched those from that earlier game. But they deviated dramatically from this familiar ground on move 6, when Carlsen moved his queen to the c7 square. Caruana glanced around the soundproof glass room in which they played, looking slightly befuddled.
A quick word on this opening’s eponymous Rossolimo himself seems warranted, given that Monday’s game was lacking in fireworks and Rossolimo’s name has figured more prominently thus far in this world championship than any but Caruana and Carlsen. He was Nicolas Rossolimo, Renaissance man:
one of the U.S.’s 12 grandmasters at the time, fluent in Russian, Greek, French and English, and the “proprietor of a chess studio,” which became a second home to some players. He was also a judo master and a New York City cab driver and recorded an album of Russian folk songs, according to The New York Times. He died in 1975 after a fall near the storied Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan.
There is another figure, aside from the colorful Rossolimo, casting its shadow over this championship: The Computer. Most livestreams of the match feature instant computer engine analyses, whose cold numbers instantly assess the humans’ tiniest inaccuracies down to hundredths of a pawn. Those judgments ripple through the commentary. Full disclosure, I rely heavily on a chess engine running on my laptop to aid my understanding as I watch the games. One popular site during recent world championships features live analysis showing arrows pointing out a supercomputer’s favored moves. (http://analysis.sesse.net/)
The principals in the match have also commented on The Computer’s somewhat spooky influence.
“I’m facing not only Fabiano and his helpers, but also his computer help,” Carlsen said in a press conference after Game 2. (He was referring to Caruana’s deep preparation for the game, although Carlsen surely uses a computer to prep, too.)
“It’s like you’re playing against a phantom,” Judit Polgar,
a grandmaster providing official commentary on the match, said today.
The Computer can often seem like a phantom, a specter haunting the games. It can seem like an overlord that has rendered the human game obsolete and small. But it’s important to remember that man made the machines. Garry Kasparov lost to the supercomputer Deep Blue,
World Chess champion Garry Kasparov barely acknowledges the handshake from Dr. C.J. Tan head of the IBM Deep Blue computer team which defeated Kasparov in the six-game series that ended on May 11, 1997.
Credit: Roger Celestin/Newscom
but a team of humans sweated and bled to built it. In these technological gaming battles, man plays two roles: builder and performer.
At the world championship in London, we are witnessing the performance of two of the best players in the history of the game. That stronger computers exist, and have helped Caruana and Carlsen get to London, does not detract from their feat.
Trump did it and he’s going down for a host of crimes, and some of them have nothing to do with Russia
Lucian K. Truscott IV
May 19, 2018
I’ve been “covering” the Trump story for over a year now, and I’m sick and tired of stacking up the details of his treachery day after day, week after week. What more do you need to know? He’s a lying, thieving, incompetent, ignorant traitor who conspired with the Russian government to steal the election of 2016 and illegally defeat a candidate who won the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots. His presidency is illegitimate, and his occupation of the White House is a stain on our nation’s honor and a threat to our democracy. History will cast him into the same sewer in which float the putrid remains of Benedict Arnold, Jefferson Davis and Richard Nixon. Impeachment would be too kind an end for him. He belongs behind bars, broken, bankrupt and disgraced.
Every day the front pages of the newspapers and the headlines of the cable news shows are filled with evidence of Trump’s lies and thievery. Look at what happened this week alone.
Trump started out denying that he even knew Stormy Daniels, then he denied having a sexual relationship with her, then he said he didn’t know about any payoffs to her. Monday, he filed his required federal financial disclosure form in which he effectively admitted making the $130,000 payment to shut her up just before the election in 2016.
He did an about-face on trade restrictions on China, announcing that he would seek to help the Chinese communications giant ZTE, which paid a $1.2 billion fine last year for violating sanctions against trade with North Korea and Iran. Three days previously, China had issued a half-billion dollar loan to a development project in Singapore that includes Trump-branded hotels, golf courses and condos.
He opened the American embassy in Jerusalem, a move he had been warned would result in fighting and deaths in the Middle East — and sure enough, dozens of Palestinians were killed on the day the embassy opened during demonstrations in the Gaza Strip.
The Trump White House refused to apologize for a sick joke made about John McCain by one of his aides.
Trump’s former secretary of state gave a commencement speech at VMI in which he made repeated veiled criticisms of Trump’s lying and warned gravely “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no longer grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued a subpoena to a former aide of Trump’s long-time consultant Roger Stone, who has admitted being in touch during the campaign of 2016 with a Russian intelligence agent involved in the hacking of the Democratic Party emails.
A major story in Buzzfeed on Thursday detailed work by Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen on a 100-story Trump skyscraper in Moscow during 2015 right through the Republican National Convention in 2016. It was revealed that Trump signed a “Letter of Intent” on the Moscow project on the day of the third Republican primary debate on Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colorado. ABC News reported last week that Trump has denied having deals in Russia “hundreds of times in the past 18 months.” Just before the inauguration in 2017, for example, Trump tweeted:
Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2017
A Qatar deal was announced. The revelation follows a report that during the transition in 2016, a Qatari diplomat was asked by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for a $1 million “fee” in return for arranging connections to the Trump family. The government of Qatar bought a $6.5 million apartment in Trump World Tower on the east side of Manhattan recently.
The news of last week was a perfect mix of lies, thievery, buffoonery and malice that have characterized the entirety of Trump’s presidency.
He promised to get rid of Obamacare “on day one.” He failed. Obamacare is alive and well and enjoyed record registrations last year.
His executive orders on everything from immigration to environmental regulations have ignored requirements for public comments and simple federal paperwork and face lawsuits from one end of the country to the other.
He claimed that “nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have.” He has refused to enact most of the sanctions on Russia passed by Congress.
He appointed a hatchet man who had sued the EPA over a dozen times to head up the agency and that man, Scott Pruitt, currently faces no less than 14 investigations of his tenure there, including allegations that he broke federal laws on office renovations and accepting gifts from lobbyists when he rented a room at below-market rates from a lobbyist with business before his agency.
Last week he claimed he raised military pay for “the first time in 10 years.” President Obama raised military pay in every year of his presidency.
Trump has claimed repeatedly that his White House “is running like a fine-tuned machine.” He filled it with wife beaters, worn-out Wall Street bucket shop shysters and half-baked neo-Nazi flacks. At this point, more than 40 top White House officials and aides have either resigned or been fired over the last 18 months. The place leaks like a shredded fish net.
The Washington Post recently reported that the lies he has told in office now number more than 3,000.
But it’s his lies about Russia that really ring a bell. Trump and his White House surrogates began by claiming that the Trump campaign never met with any Russians and had nothing to do with Russia. Revelation after revelation about contacts between Trump people and Russians followed. Then they claimed they had met with only a few Russians. More revelations about more Russians. Then they claimed they had not met with any Russians “about the campaign.” The Trump Tower meeting was revealed. Meets between George Papadopoulos and Russians in London came to light. Trump suddenly started claiming that there was “no collusion.” Evidence of collusion emerged. Then Trump began claiming that even if there was collusion, it was not illegal. Indictments came down. Now Rudy Giuliani is out there telling the world that even if Trump did something wrong, he can’t be indicted as a sitting president.
Wow. Watching Trump revisions on the Russia story is like watching a Slinky descend a staircase, flipping over and over and over and over.
But every set of stairs has a bottom and in Trump’s case, it’s the law. His lies and dissembling about Stormy Daniels came up against the law this week when he had to file his financial disclosure form. Lying or omitting information on a federal form is a felony, which is why Trump was forced to include the repayment of his debt to Michael Cohen which covered the $130,000 that had been paid out to silence Stormy Daniels in October of 2016. He lied about her and he lied about that payment until he came up against the law and then he was forced to tell the truth.
He has reached the ground floor with Russia and everything else. You can lie at rallies, you can lie to the media, you can lie to voters, but lies don’t work when they come up against laws. That’s where Trump finds himself today. He’s a lying, thieving traitor who conspired with a hostile nation to steal the presidential election of 2016 and he got caught. Not even his bone spurs will get him a deferment this time. He’s going to be drafted for the farm team at Leavenworth. He’s going down.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives on the East End of Long Island and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. He can be followed on Facebook at The Rabbit Hole and on Twitter @LucianKTruscott.
After the penultimate round of the recently concluded European Championships in Israel the Russian player Evgeniy Najer had eight points, half a point more than the two players tied for second place, David Navarra, of the Czech Republic, and another Russian, Denis Khismatullin. The two Russians were paired in the last round, while GM Navarra was paired the Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov, who had scored seven points, half a point less than the two aforementioned players tied for second place. The pairings for the final round were Khismatullin vs Najer, and Navarra vs Cheparinov. These are dream pairings for a chess fan! Khismatullin needed to win and had the White pieces, and the same could be said for the board two battle. This is the game “played” by the two Russians:
I do not need a 3300 rated chess program to inform me something was rotten in Denmark. If a student showed me this game I would have to question why he played 17 Bg2. It is incomprehensible that Najer did not take the Rook in lieu of the Bishop on move 19. All chess players with four digits after their name would question the move made by Black, 19…Bxd2+. This game brought to mind the famous article in the August 1962 issue of Sports Illustrated by Bobby Fischer, The Russians Have Fixed World Chess. My next thought was that a new chapter on chess should be included in a revised issue of, The Fix Is In: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR, by Brian Tuohy. Then I thought of a chess player of yesteryear, Oscar Al Hamilton, who believed, “Everything is rigged.”
What have the “mainstream” chess websites had to say about the collusion conclusion of the European Championships? The first article, dated March 10, appeared on the chess24.com website, Najer is European Champion, by IM David Martínez, who wrote, “Russian Grandmaster Evgeniy Najer has won the European Individual Championship in Jerusalem after drawing with compatriot Denis Khismatullin in the final round. After a fine tournament he could afford to offer a draw on move 28 in a very favourable position and still finish half a point clear of the field on 8.5/11.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/najer-is-european-champion)
A day later an article appeared on the Chessbase website, Evgeny Najer is 2015 European Champion, by by Albert Silver. He writes, “The fresh European champion for 2015 is Russian GM Evgeny Najer! In the final round having a better position he accepted a draw offer by his compatriot Denis Khismatullin to secure the desired championship title though not before making sure that David Navara, the other runner-up, wouldn’t achieve more than a draw against Bulgarian Ivan Cheparinov.” (http://en.chessbase.com/post/evgeny-najer-is-2015-european-champion)
Bobby Fischer was proven right and the commie collusion continues to this day. It will not stop as long as the Russians who still think, and act, like communists are in control of FIDE. The day after the tournament ended saw this headline, Putin just awarded a medal of honor to the chief suspect in one of Russia’s most notorious political murders, by Jeremy Bender, dated March 9, 2015. “Russian President Vladimir Putin has just awarded the chief suspect in one of the past decade’s most notorious political assassinations a medal of honor, AFP reports.
The Kremlin honored Andrei Lugovoi, a member of Russia’s lower house of parliament, for his “great contribution to the development of the Russian parliamentary system and his active role in lawmaking.”
Lugovoi is still wanted in Britain as one of the two chief suspects in the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Litvinenko, a defector from the FSB, Russia’s leading intelligence service, died after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210 in London.
After Litvinenko’s defection from the FSB, he moved London where he became an outspoken critic of Putin and his regime. British intelligence believes that Lugovoi personally slipped the polonium into Litvinenko’s tea during a meeting at the Millennium hotel in London in November 2006. Twenty-three days later, Litvinenko died in a London hospital.
Lugovoi was cleared of wrongdoing after a questioning by a British polygrapher in Moscow following the murder. However, the polygrapher has admitted to skewing the results and said that Lugovoi actually failed a portion of the test in which he denied having ever handled polonium-210, the Guardian reports.
Putin giving an award to Lugovoi might be aimed at undermining Britain specifically during its ongoing investigation into the 2006 assassination. London is currently holding public hearings as part of an inquiry into Litvinenko’s death.