Reading the New South

The following article appeared in the venerable New York Times after the last post was composed, and posted, as if by synchronicity…

After getting to know a little about me a fellow in Louisville, Kentucky, Rick Rothenberg, from Indiana, said I reminded him of another Southerner he had known earlier. Rick said, “The man was so Southern he would not even go out of the house if the wind was blowing from the north!”

Reading the New South

A group of forward-thinking, upstart journals and websites are exploding the stereotypes so many attach to this place and its people.

By Margaret Renkl

Contributing opinion writer

Sept. 17, 2018


Some of Lyndsey Gilpin’s collection of books on the South.CreditCreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

NASHVILLE — I was a graduate student in Philadelphia when James Watt, the former Secretary of the Interior of the United States, came to campus in 1984. Mr. Watt’s brief tenure in federal office was characterized by an almost cartoonish villainy. Rolling Stone magazine called his attitude toward the environment a “rip-and-ruin view of our natural resources, land, water, parks and wilderness.” That night Watt argued for letting each state set its own air- and water-safety standards, a position that makes no sense if you’re aware that rivers and winds don’t respect state borders.

During the Q. and A., I took my turn at the microphone to make this point. “Sir,” I said, “I’m from Alabama.” Instantly that giant audience of Pennsylvanians broke into laughter. Who was this cracker daring to voice an opinion about federal environmental policy?

Well, that was 1984, you’re probably thinking. Today we don’t judge people by their accents any more than we judge them by their skin color. People know better now.

Except they don’t. The political polarization of our own day means that a region like the South, a red voting bloc in national elections, is a source of continual liberal ridicule, no matter the subject. In June I wrote about the transcendently beautiful Mobile-Tensaw Delta, one of the most ecologically diverse places in the country. When I posted the link on Facebook with a note about its magic, someone commented, “Except that it’s in Alabama.” As though nothing in the whole state could possibly have any value at all.

As stereotypes go, this one surely doesn’t rank among the top 10 most objectionable human prejudices, but it stings even so. Fortunately there is plenty of on-the-ground proof to counter it. Among the most important is a raft of publications, many so new they’re still on shaky financial footing, that aim to convey the genuine complexities of the modern American South. They are planted in the South and created by Southerners, people who love this place but who nevertheless see it all too truly.

Unlike lifestyle glossies like Southern Living and Garden & Gun (which is assiduously apolitical, despite what its name might suggest), these publications blast past sweet-tea-and-moonshine preconceptions to convey the nuances of a region where people are rarely as ornery and dumb as they’re held to be in the national imagination.

The oldest of them is the Oxford American, founded in Oxford, Miss., but now based in Conway, Ark., which was first launched in 1992. (A print quarterly, it has foundered a number of times over the years, ceasing publication until new funding arrived, which somehow always has.) In many ways, it set the tone for all the publications that followed, celebrating the artistic innovations of the region but refusing to gloss over its manifold shortcomings.

The latest issue includes a nonfiction report by Kelsey Norris on a Nashville oral-history project focusing on the descendants of slaves; Beth Macy’s profile of the Appalachian playwright and novelist Robert Gipe; “Bikers,” a poem by the Virginia native Kate Daniels about her brothers (“What foreign lives they lived / With their deer hunts, and their / Love of speed, and their boring jobs / In factories”) and a short story by David Wesley Williams about a hitchhiker stuck in West Memphis, Ark. The story is called “Stay Away From Places With Directions in Their Names.”

The tagline for Facing South, an online publication of the progressive Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, N.C., is “A Voice for a Changing South.” The site focuses on politics, history and human rights, with recent articles on voting rights during Reconstruction, South Carolina’s present refusal to evacuate convicts in advance of Hurricane Florence and delays in compensation for people sickened by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scalawag, another nonprofit publication out of Durham, also reports regional politics with a progressive eye, though it covers regional art and literature, too, and includes a section titled, simply, “Witness.” The magazine, which is published online and in print, fosters “critical conversations about the many Souths where we live, love and struggle” and aims to empower “activists, artists and writers to reckon with Southern realities as they are, rather than as they seem to be.” Recent stories confront toxic masculinity, explain how to fight racism through the auspices of craft beer, collect a range of Latinx poetry from around the American South, and report on Syrian cuisine in small-town Georgia.

The Southern Foodways Alliance, based in Oxford, Miss., publishes a print quarterly called Gravy. Despite its name, the journal does more than report on cuisine, continuing the work of the alliance itself by showcasing, through food, “a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions and lovingly maintaining old ones.” The latest issue includes an article on “The Queer Pleasures of Tammy Wynette’s Cooking” by Mayukh Sen and a profile by Osayi Endolyn of Joe Stinchcomb, an African-American bartender who invented five new cocktails, to celebrate Black History Month. The drinks had names like “Blood on the Leaves” and “(I’m Not Your) Negroni,” and they definitely raised some hackles down there in Mississippi.

For anyone still hoping to define Southern literature, storySouth is an online literary journal based in Greensboro, N.C. It publishes “the best fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry that writers from the New South have to offer,” according to its website. Subjects that seem to play into regional stereotypes can be found there at times. The current issue features a poem called “Roadkill” by Megan Blankenship and one by William Woolfitt called “Grassy Branch Pentecostal Church, Face of Christ on Tin,” for example. But read the poems: This is not your unlamented Agrarian’s Southern literature.

Perhaps the liveliest of the whole bunch is an absolutely wonderful online publication called The Bitter Southerner, an irreverent Atlanta-based site that truly covers the cultural waterfront, celebrating the lunacy of genuine homegrown geniuses, lifting up the unsung heroes of the region, and peeking behind the veil of great cultural institutions, and all while holding power to account in a part of the world where power has too often lost its uneducated mind.

But it’s the newest of these publications that most often captures my own attention these days. Southerly began in late 2016 as a weekly newsletter of investigative journalism, plus curated links to “News Flying Under the Radar” by other journalists around the region. Until this summer, when it received a grant from Solutions Journalism Network, it was funded entirely by Patreon subscribers, who monthly contribute an average of five dollars each through an online portal. Those supporters are still crucial to its survival. Lyndsey Gilpin — the magazine’s founder, editor and publisher — is a Northwestern University-trained journalist based in her hometown, Louisville, Ky., and her weekly reports from impoverished and often oppressed corners of the South have given a microphone to people whose voices are rarely heard in conversations about climate change, environmental exploitation or economic disparity.


Lyndsey Gilpin, founder of Southerly, an online magazine, near her home in Louisville, Ky.CreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

In July, Southerly grew into a full-fledged “independent media organization” that “covers the intersection of ecology, justice and culture in the American South,” according to its new website, and already it is taking no prisoners. The site — in partnership with The Montgomery Advertiser and Scalawag — launched with a four-part series on the breakout of tropical diseases in the rural South owing to failing sewage infrastructure. On Sept. 22, Southerly will convene a public discussion in Hayneville, Ala., about poverty-related illnesses and how communities can address the governmental crisis that spawned them.

Southerly’s mission statement sets out some uncompromising goals: “This region stands to bear the brunt and lose the most from the effects of climate change. It is experiencing massive economic shifts from a changing energy industry. The South is the fastest urbanizing area of the United States, but it is also the most economically distressed. Southerners deserve a publication that covers the nuances of their environment, history and communities without being condescending or stereotypical, without parachuting in from large metropolitan areas. The rest of the world deserves to know about the creative ways communities here are adapting to these changes, and the challenges that come with that.”

You could almost call it a mission statement for celebrating — and transforming — the South itself.

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Tim Tobiason: A Colorful Chess Character

Reading the following from Mark Weeks blog, Chess for All Ages, caused me to pause and reflect upon the man named in the post:

“By coincidence, while I was preparing the recent post, An 1886 Photoshopped Illustration, where I mentioned that ‘I’ve been downloading old copies of The Chess Journalist (TCJ)’, I noticed that the December 2006 issue of the TCJ credited the existence of the scanned CL/CRs to Tim Tobiason. He seems to have been a colorful character in several ways, but this isn’t the time or place to repeat stories that can be found elsewhere on the web. It is his misfortune that while the original magazines are protected by copyright, his scans aren’t protected by a second copyright because they don’t represent creative work.”
(http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2018/06/caveat-ebay-digital-documents.html)

The first time I met Tim Tobiason was in Rolla, Missouri, at the 2002 Missouri State Chess Championship. Mr. Tobiason, who was also playing in the small event, had the most eclectic collection of things ever seen at a Chess tournament. Along with the usual Chess books and other Chess related things, he displayed books he had written, and other items looking like they would be more comfortable at a gun show. I cannot recall the titles, but they were along the same line as the infamous Anarchist Cookbook.

He talked of the right he had to publish anything, and of being hounded by the FBI because of the content, which tended toward blowing things up with explosives. Tim rather proudly stated he had been “filmed by 60 Minutes,” the CBS TV show. He also mentioned having been banned at gun shows, which is where he sold most of his self-produced books. People began moving away from the table. He also mentioned needing a place to stay, or at least a shower, as he was traveling from Chess tournament to tournament while living in his van. I mentioned, with as much deference as could be mustered, maybe he might want to reconsider the part about being followed by the FBI if he wanted a place to stay. “You gotta point,” he said.

The next encounter with Tim was at the Atlanta Chess Center. He needed to take a shower and wanted to stay inside the House of Pain that night. In addition, he needed some space in the back room to set up his equipment, which consisted of scanning equipment to be used to copy older material, which he would sell. Unbeknownst to me David Spinks had flatly turned him down. Later on I saw and greeted him. He was obviously road weary and in a disheveled state. Tim was heavyset, with a rather large, and protruding belly. Happy to see a friendly face after his encounter with Spinks, he greeted me like a long-lost friend. After informing me he knew Thad Rogers, owner of the Dump, and explaining the situation, as he had attempted with Spinks, I told him it would be OK to shower. I figured Thad would give the OK, so I did so. David was LIVID! It was one of the few times I saw Spinks “lose it.” David was adamant. He did not want Tim around, especially on a tournament weekend. I tried reasoning with him, to no avail. For the first and only time while working at the HOP I placed a call to Thad. After informing him of the situation, he said, “Toby’s there? Tell him I said hello, and yes, you were right to allow him access. Let me speak with David.” Spinks did not like being overruled, but had no choice in the matter.

Toby said he was hungry and I mentioned the Dekalb Farmer’s Market, but Toby had other ideas. He asked about an all you can eat place, telling me he only ate once a day, spending hours eating all he could, which would have to last until the next day. I understood immediately why Thad liked Toby, as he, too, could spend hours at an all you can eat buffet. Besides, Toby was a character, and Thad always had a fondness for characters, one of the great things about Thad. That particular character trait was exactly what one needed to interact with Chess players.

Upon his return we made room for Toby and his equipment in the back room while taking pains to pacify Spinks. I spent a great deal of time with Toby that evening while working the front. Toby was a nervous type, and who would not be with the FBI breathing down his neck? Most Chess players are paranoid; it seems to come with the game. Toby was not the only player claiming to be followed by authorities. IM Emory Tate was in the military for many years, playing, and winning, the Armed Forces Championship five times. We were regaled with stories of his being in Military Intelligence, and according to Emory, “They are still watching me.” Who were we to argue? After listening to Emory I will admit to being pleased someone was keeping an eye on the man. Consider this:

“A lone lion wanders afar in the wilderness, no longer part of the pride
Once gleaming, accepted, a beautiful beast, now having been cast aside
No chance for part in coordinated hunt, this one can’t run very fast
Nature holds no place, and faltering, it seems this beast just won’t last

~Emory Andrew Tate, Jr.”

Is Emory writing about himself, or the Royal game? This can be found at the excellent website of Daaim Shabazz, The Chess Drum. (http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2015/10/21/emory-tate-chess-savant-warrior-1958-2015/)

Thad drove up from Macon the next day and if memory serves, stayed the night. While on duty Thad could be heard laughing constantly from the back room. It was obvious he had an affinity for Toby. I cannot differentiate between all the tournaments held at the House of Pain, but because of Toby I do recall that particular weekend. Toby definitely brought something different to the staid House that weekend. In deference to Spinks I mentioned the recent rash of car break-ins experienced at the House in the crime filled area and Toby decided to sleep in his van.

I asked Thad if what Toby related was real, or a figment of his imagination. “I dunno,” he answered, “But they make for great stories!” he said with a grin. Toby kept busy, and out-of-the-way, making his discs, which he sold to Thad. One legendary Atlanta player was extremely pleased with what he purchased.

The last time I encountered Toby was in Louisville many years later. There was a children’s tournament and I arrived a little after noon. The event was over (they ‘head ’em up and move ’em out’ in Derby land) and Toby was getting ready to leave, hitting the road for who knows where.

Reading the Chess for All Ages post prompted a visit to startpage.com, where I entered Toby’s name, finding this article, which is quite lengthy. If you do not have the appetite for all of it, scroll on down to the last four paragraphs, which has been made bold. This will make you want to read all of what follows, so why not just invest the time and read it all now?

Hoax! (part 2)
The second half of Jon Ronson’s investigation into people behind the post-September 11 anthrax hoaxes.

I had met Tim two years earlier at a gun show in Rochester, Minnesota. I was there with my producer, Jim, and the Ruby Ridge survivor Randy Weaver, whose wife and son were shot by FBI agents in a bungled raid in Idaho 10 years ago. Crowds flocked to get Weaver’s autograph, but Tim didn’t. He stood apart, a lone wolf among lone wolves, a pasty-looking man, wearing a lumberjack shirt and glasses. He had a deep grudge against the federal government and, it turned out, a rudimentary scientific knowledge. He told us that anthrax was the only way forward for the “movement”. In our experience, anthrax wasn’t a big militia topic of conversation. In fact, we’d never heard it mentioned, so Jim did a quick interview with him.

“I get into the more dangerous biological and chemical weapons area,” Tim said during this taped interview. “You can mail massive-scale weapons in microscopic form on a postage stamp, and that way you can re-arm the entire nation if the government ever tries to take your guns away.”
Guardian Today: the headlines, the analysis, the debate – sent direct to you
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The people we met at the gun shows all had their own special ways of theoretically battling the government. One man had advocated the use of piano wire, another favoured firebombs. Tim’s big thing was anthrax. I’d never ratted out an interviewee to the feds before. I’d never given up a source. This would normally be a very bad thing for a journalist to do. But this was October 2001.

“Tim probably isn’t the anthrax killer,” I thought to myself. “But how often does one meet someone who is almost the anthrax killer?”

“I should call the FBI,” I said to Jim, when he telephoned in early October to remind me about our interview with Tim.

“Hang on,” he said. “I’m the one who thought of Tim. I should call the FBI.”

“I want to call the FBI,” I said.

“Well, I don’t want you bloody going to the FBI without me,” said Jim.

There was a hurt silence. “OK,” I said. “I promise to bring you with me to the FBI.”

It wasn’t easy to find the FBI in London. Directory enquiries had no record of them. “Are you sure F stands for Federal?” they asked.

I finally tracked them to the US embassy, and an agent called Michael came on the phone. When I told him what I had, he said, casually, “Yes. That would be something we’d be interested in. Could you bring it in?”

“Tomorrow?” I asked, and Michael agreed.

I realised that things were less casual when Michael telephoned me at 8.30am to ask if I was coming in today. Things aren’t casual at 8.30am. People call at 8.30am if they’ve been up worrying.

And two hours later – in Grosvenor Square, central London – Jim and I were past the security guards, past the ocean of fencing, through the x-rays, the bag search, up the elevator, through a series of reinforced steel doors – the kind of doors you find on safes – through more corridors, through the body search, and into London’s FBI headquarters. We were led into an office decorated with novelty Big Ben snowstorms and a collection of funny police helmets.

Michael was sitting at his desk. He was bookish and young. He shook hands, led us through to his boss’s office, and sat us on the sofa. He got out his notepad and said, “So how did you come to meet this Tim?”

“Well,” said Jim, “we’re journalists, and we were following Randy Weaver around the gun show circuit. Actually, Jon had hooked up with Randy Weaver a few days earlier, but I’d been researching another project, would you believe it, surveillance cameras in shopping malls!” Jim laughed nervously. Michael’s eyes began to glaze.

I think that Jim, like many people who meet law enforcement officers, was feeling the desperate urge to confess. Luckily, Jim didn’t have anything to confess to, so this compulsion was finding a different outlet – mad small talk. I glanced down at Michael’s notepad. So far, he’d written only two words: “Randy Weaver.”

“Shall we watch the tape?” said Michael.

“With a mass propagated pre-packaged bio-weapon, you could render most of the major cities uninhabitable in about a week, which would wreck the economy and pretty much put an end to the government,” said Tim on the tape.

“Tim,” replied Jim on the tape, “what you’re advocating here is the spread of really dangerous information. Why do you feel that it’s a good idea for everybody to know this terrible stuff?”

I was relieved that Jim had adopted a combative style of questioning with Tim. All too often, Jim and I ask extremists over-soft questions that might lead FBI agents erroneously to believe that we had gone native. When the tape ended, Michael thanked us very much and escorted us back to the lobby.

That night, as I lay in bed, I thought of Tim, and I wondered who he really was. A week later, the Wall Street Journal provided the answer: the FBI, it said, was looking for a home-grown anthrax terrorist, and they were making inquiries about a Nebraska man called Tim Tobiason, who was known on the gun show circuit for advocating the use of anthrax. Apparently, the FBI had been alerted to Tim by a “member of the public”. There was a photograph. This was my Tim.

It turned out that Tim Tobiason came from Silver Creek, Nebraska. He had once been a pillar of the community, the owner of an animal-feed mill with 24 employees and $3m a year cashflow, married, with two daughters, and a bit of a chemical wizard, too; he mixed up witches’ brews at night in his garage – funny-smelling stuff, said his neighbours. Then he made a new kind of phosphate-based feed additive which, he calculated, would net him millions. He set about patenting it, but the government said it would be dangerous to cattle, so they rejected it. He began bitching to his friends about a conspiracy, how the government had stolen his patent and given it to some agricultural corporation. He moved into a Dodge caravan and plotted his revenge. He wrote Scientific Principles Of Improvised Warfare: Advanced Biological Weapons Design And Manufacture. The cover promised, “If you can make Jell-O, you can wipe out cities. Enjoy!”

His marriage collapsed and he took to selling his book on the gun show circuit. In the wake of the Wall Street Journal article, TV crews stormed Silver Creek. But Tim had vanished. The FBI analysed his handwriting, and followed the instructions in his anthrax cookbook, finding them to be shoddy and incomplete. They concluded that Tim Tobiason was innocent. As a result of the publicity, Tim was banned from gun shows across the US. His Silver Creek neighbours said they didn’t expect him back, which was for the best because he was no longer welcome in town.

The last I heard of Tim Tobiason was in December last year. Dan Rather’s CBS news team secretly filmed him at a gun show in California – one of the few still letting him sell his books. In this covert recording, Tim said that if a federal agent killed him and his children, an unnamed colleague of his would exact a terrible revenge. This colleague would take “communicable weapons to every grade school within 50 miles of CIA headquarters, infect them all, they go home, infect Mom and Dad, Mom and Dad goes back to CIA, and two weeks later CIA’s gone.” Tim was one of those people who always lived in fear that the federal government would come after him, and Jim and I made his paranoid fantasy come true.

For all his blather, I think my decision to shop Tim to the FBI was an even less justifiable response to the hysteria than the actions of the four anthrax hoaxers whom I interviewed. Clay Waagner had a good excuse for going crazy that month. He had a cause. Lucy Manifold was trying to stay happy. Bryan Mangnall was a dumb jock. And Terry Olson was depressed and wanted attention. I had no good reason to do what I did. And I got thanked for it.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2002/oct/05/anthrax.uk1

Crime in The City (Sixty to Zero) by Neil Young
——–

All the champs and the heroes
They got a price to pay
They go from sixty to zero
In the split of a hair
They see the face in the window
They feel a shadow out there
They’ve got the places they can go
They’ve got the people who stare
They’ve got to walk in their shoes
They’ve got to see what they see
They’ve got the people around them
Getting too much for free
All the pimps and the dealers
All the food they can eat
All the screamers and squealers
When they walk down the street
Yeah.

He’s just a rich old man
He never cared for anyone
He likes to count his possessions
He’s been a miser from penny one
He never cared for his children
Never cared for his wife
Never made anyone happy
That’s the way he lived his life
And one day in the sunshine
He got a bolt from the blue
Unloaded all of his possessions
Sold his investments too
And now he lives with the homeless
Owns 900 hospital beds
He prefers to remain nameless
It’s publicity he dreads
Yeah.

There’s a judge in the city
He goes to work every day
Spends his life in the courthouse
Keeps his perspective that way
But I respect his decision
He’s got a lot on his mind
He’s pretty good with the gavel
A little heavy on the fines
One day there was this minstrel
Who came to court on a charge
That he blew someone’s head off
Because his amp was too large
And the song he was singin’
Was not for love but for cash
Well, the judge waived the charges
He fingered his mustache
Yeah.

Well, there’s a clown in a carnival
He rode a painted horse
He came from somewhere out west
He was very funny of course
But that is not what I noticed
It was the incredible force
With which he held his audience
While he rode on his horse
His jokes were not that off-color
His smile was not that sincere
His show was that not that sensational
Reasons for success were not clear
But he still made big money
One day the circus was his
Now he’s married to the acrobat
And they’re training their kids
Yeah.

Now the jailhouse was empty
All the criminals were gone
The gate was left wide open
And a buck and fawn
Were eating grass in the courtyard
When the warden walked in
And took a rifle from the prison guard
And said to him with a grin
To shoot those deer would be stupid, sir
We already got ’em right here
Why not just lock the gates and keep them
With intimidation and fear?
But the warden pulled the trigger
And those deer hit the ground
He said Nobody’ll know the difference
And they both looked around.
Yeah.

Well, the cop made the showdown
He was sure he was right
He had all of the lowdown
From the bank heist last night
His best friend was a robber
And his wife was a thief
All the children were murderers
They couldn’t get no relief
The bungalow was surrounded
When a voice loud and clear
Come out with your hands up
Or we’re gonna blow you out of here
There was a face in the window
TV cameras rolled
And they cut to the announcer
And the story was told.
Yeah.

Well, the artist looked at the producer
The producer sat back
He said What we have got here
Is a pretty good track
But we don’t have a vocal
And we still don’t have a song
If we could get this thing accomplished
Nothin’ else could go wrong
So he balanced the ashtray
And he picked up the phone
And said Send me a songwriter
Who’s drifted far from home
And make sure that he’s hungry
And make sure he’s alone
And send me a cheeseburger
And a new Rolling Stone
Yeah.

Well, the Sioux and Dakota
They lost all of their land
And now a basketball player
Is trying to lend them a hand
Maybe someday he’ll be president
He’s quite a popular man
But now the chief has reservations
And the white man has plans
There’s opposition in Congress
The bill is up against cash
There’s really no way of predicting
If it will fly or it will crash
But that’s the nature of politics
That’s the name of the game
That’s how it looks in the tepee
Big winds are blowing again
Yeah.

There’s still crime in the city
Said the cop on the beat
I don’t know if I can stop it
I feel like meat on the street
They paint my car like a target
I take my orders from fools
Meanwhile some kid blows my head off
Well, I play by their rules
So now I’m doing it my way
I took the law in my own hands
Here I am in the alleyway
A wad of cash in my pants
I get paid by a ten year old
He says he looks up to me
There’s still crime in the city
But it’s good to be free
Yeah.

Now I come from a family
That has a broken home
Sometimes I talk to my daddy
On the telephone
When he says that he loves me
I know that he does
But I wish I could see him
Wish I knew where he was
But that’s the way all my friends are
Except maybe one or two
Wish I could see him this weekend
Wish I could walk in his shoes
But now I’m doin’ my own thing
Sometimes I’m good, then I’m bad
Although my home has been broken
It’s the best home I ever had
Yeah.

Well, I keep getting younger
My life’s been funny that way
Before I ever learned to talk
I forgot what to say
I sassed back to my mummy
I sassed back to my teacher
I got thrown out of Sunday School
For throwin’ bibles at the preacher
Then I grew up to be a fireman
I put out every fire in town
Put out everything smoking
But when I put the hose down
The judge sent me to prison
Gave me life without parole
Wish I never put the hose down
Wish I never got old.
http://thrasherswheat.org/fot/lyrics_crime.htm

The Najdorf in Black and White: A Review

Because of having played the Najdorf system during my formative years in the last century I was interested in learning about GM Bryan Smith’s new book on the opening (https://mongoosepress.com/the-najdorf-in-black-and-white/).

I met Bryan

at the 2009 Kentucky Open where he took first place by a half point. There were myriad problems with the tournament, directed by Alan Priest, which included no electricity for the lighting in the first couple of rounds, so it was played in semi-darkness, which seemed to not bother Mr. Priest. After developing a splitting headache, due to the poor lighting, and losing a game, I withdrew from the tournament, but returned the following day to spectate. While Bryan was waiting on the last round games to finish a conversation developed. Bryan is a quite, taciturn young man, the kind of fellow who lets his moves do his talking. I learned he was from Anchorage Alaska, and he is now the first-ever Grandmaster from Alaska. My home state of Georgia has yet to produce a home-grown GM. I recall asking Bryan why he decided to travel to Louisville in lieu of playing in one of the other, larger, tournaments in his area. He answered in a way that said he would rather be a big fish in a small pond that weekend rather than being a smaller fish in a much larger pond. “Better odds of taking home money?” I asked, and he produced a grin. We talked for some time and I transcribed what was recalled of the conversation later that day, but never used it, much to my regret. Bryan graciously answered my questions so what I recall was an enjoyable afternoon conversation with one of the nicest GM’s with whom I have conversed.

I have replayed many Nadjorf games since moving on to playing other openings, but have not devoted time studying the Nadjorf system with the intensity shown earlier when playing the system. For some time I have wanted a book to read on the system in order to compare the way the system is played now as opposed to how it was played last century, but the books are usually dense and voluminous, with a heavy emphasis on variations. Some of the books could be used as a doorstop. When my review copy, published by Mongoose Press (https://mongoosepress.com/), arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see it was only a small volume of 162 pages. The book is heavy on words, and ideas, rather than being yet another “data-dump.” Some have written books like the magnificent Zurich International Chess Tournament 1953,

by David Bronstein,

et al, cannot be published today because words, conveying ideas, are predominate. This book proves those writers wrong. Most of the variations included are short enough one does not need a board with which to visualize them. One of the players from my early days told me he liked to read a Chess book without using a board. There are enough diagrams for one to utilize this book in that way, which is exactly how I read the book. Then I read it again using a board and pieces because it is that good.

The book begins with an Introduction: The Cadillac of Openings.

“With this book, I present a collection of games played in the Najdorf Sicilian. The purpose of this book is not to be exhaustive – that would require at least ten times the content, and even then it would not encompass a fraction of the analysis and relevant games played in the Najdorf. This book also does not suggest a repertoire for either White or Black – although players can glean some ideas, since I have generally picked games played in the lines I favor. I think it is dishonest for a writer to try to portray an opening in only a positive light: ultimately, even the most objective writers of repertoire books have to massage the facts and minimize the problems of an opening – and every opening has them.

The purpose of this book, rather, is to show how to play the Najdorf, with White or Black, through archetypal games. I believe that by studying the games in this book, one can develop a solid general sense of the different types of game resulting from the Najdorf as played in the twenty-first century. It is my hope that readers will also gain some degree of enjoyment or entertainment from the games, which have been selected not only on their instructional merits, but also for their aesthetic value.”

The book will be judged by the criteria chosen by the author. The question is whether Bryan delivered on his promise. The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Baseball terms this book is like hitting a walk-off grand slam home run in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the World Series!

Bryan continues the introduction. “Having a lifelong opening that one knows inside and out like one’s own house is a major advantage to a chess player. It means that the player can always rely on reaching position that he understands in general terms and knows something about. Perhaps more importantly, though, it gives confidence.”

Reading the above caused me to reflect upon my early days playing the Najdorf. I have never felt as confident playing any opening as I did when playing the Najdorf system. Why did I stop playing the Najdorf system? Bryan continues the introduction, “A sufficiently rich opening will provide immunity against the winds of theory – if one variation is refuted, another can be found, so long as the opening is built on proper principles. I believe the Najdorf can be such an opening. Some may imagine that is is a theoretical labyrinth, suitable only for those with an incredible memory and a willingness to play twenty or more moves of known theory before beginning the game. It is true that there are certain lines in the Najdorf where this is the norm – for instance, the Poisoned Pawn Variation (6.Bg5 e6 7,f4 Qb6). However, the reader will see in this book that these variations can be sidestepped, and that it is indeed possible to play the Najdorf “by the light of nature,” with experience providing a guide. Most of the games I have chosen feature ways of avoiding these quagmires. Despite its sharpness, the Najdorf is an opening built on solid positional principles. It is basically a positional opening.”

When first beginning the Chess road the Dragon variation was very popular. Once a strong player advocated against purchasing a book on the Dragon because “It is written in disappearing ink.” He said that because the theory was changing so fast by the time you read the book, much of it had been refuted. The same could have been said about the Najdorf system. I also recall reading something about there being players who knew the Najdorf, but did not know Chess. I was one of those people, because like others, I knew the Najdorf, but not Chess. After leaving Chess for Backgammon, upon my return to Chess I simply did not have time to keep abreast of the constantly changing theory of the Najdorf system, so decided to learn, and play, other openings. Yet what I learned about Bobby Fischer’s favorite opening has stuck with me, while the other openings never infused me with the confidence felt when playing the Najdorf system.

After the introduction, and before the first chapter, one finds, The Development Of the Najdorf Sicilian, a seven page historical perspective of the Najdorf system. It begins, “The Najdorf can trace its origins to the nineteenth-century German master Louis Paulsen.

Paulsen was an innovator of defense. In an era when 1.e4 e5 was the dominant opening and direct attacking play was the main method of winning, Paulsen understood the concept of asymmetrical play and counterattack. His openings and positional play were often a full century ahead of their time.”

Louis Paulsen was one of the most interesting, and underappreciated, players from the early days of the nineteenth century. Paulsen’s ideas influenced the development of the Royal game greatly. I played openings such as the C26 Vienna, Paulsen-Mieses variation, for example.

Bryan gives a game between Lewis Isaacs and Abraham Kupchick played at Bradley Beach in 1928, writing, “A forgotten 1928 game from a tournament in the U. S. might be the first use of the “real” Najdorf.”

Lewis Isaacs vs Abraham Kupchik

Bradley Beach 1928

ECO: B92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opovcensky variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 b5 7. Bf3 e5 8. Nb3 Bb7 9. O-O Nbd7 10. Bg5 Be7 11. Re1 O-O 12. Rc1 Nb6 13. Na5 Rb8 14. Nxb7 Rxb7 15. b3 Rc7 16. Qd3 Nbd7 17. Be3 Nc5 18. Qd1 Qa8 19. Bg5 Ncd7 20. Nb1 h6 21. Bd2 Rfc8 22. Ba5 Rc6 23. g3 Nc5 24. Nc3 Bd8 25. Bxd8 Rxd8 26. Nd5 Nxd5 27. Qxd5 Qc8 28. Red1 Ne6 29. Bg4 Rc5 30. Qd2 Rc3 31. Re1 Qc5 32. Re3 Rxe3 33. fxe3 Ng5 34. Qd3 d5 35. exd5 Rxd5 36. Qe2 Qc3 37. h4 Rd2 38. Qe1 Ne4 39. Bf5 Nf2 40. Bd3 Nxd3 41. cxd3 Qxd3 42. Rc8+ Kh7 43. Rc1 f5 44. a4 b4 45. g4 Re2 0-1

He culminates the chapter with, “Despite the opening’s great popularity and constant use at the top level for many decades, the Najdorf remains mysterious and has its unexplored areas, with the new ideas waiting to be born. Its attraction for the chess professional today is easy to understand, since it is an opening where it is possible to play for a win with Black, while it is also unquestionably sound. Although positionally and tactically very sharp, the Najdorf player still controls his own fate.”

Chapter one is titled, Va Banque: 6.Bg5. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 the author advocates Qc7. I never played any move other than 7…Be7 because, well, you know, that is the move played by Bobby Fischer. After studying the games, and positions, I came to understand why the author would advocate the move Qc7 for those taking their first Najdorf steps. The amount of material in the main line can be daunting for a neophyte. The fourth game of the chapter is one in which the author had white against Hristos Banikas at Retymnon in 2009. After the obligatory first five moves of the Najdorf Bryan played 6 Bg5, which was answered with Nbd7. “An old and new move – it was played frequently in the 1950s and again in the 2010s – and not so much in-between.” After 7 f4 we have Qc7.

The other chapters are:

2) The Classicist’s Preference: 6 Be2
3) Add Some English: 6 Be3
4) In Morphy’s Style: 6 Bc4
5) White to Play and Win: 6 h3
6) Systematic: g3
7) Healthy Aggression: 6 f4
8) Action-Reaction: 6 a4
9) Odds and Ends

To illustrate what I mean by the use of words, in lieu of variations, to explain what is happening on both sides of the board, look at the position from Game 11: Zaven Andriasian-Ian Nepomniachtchi, played at the 2010 Aeroflot Open in Moscow. After 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be3 e5 7. Nf3

The reader finds, “The retreat of the knight to f3 rather than b3 changes nothing in the structure (at least not right away), but the choice of this square has a dramatic effect on the course of the game. In contrast to 7. Nb3, putting the knight on f3 leads to much quieter, more positional play, where White tries t dominate the d5 square. And why is this? Whereas 7.Nb3 allows for White to play f2-f3 with queen-side castling and a king-side pawn storm, after 7,Nf3 this is not possible. White will almost certainly castle king-side. In the meantime, b3 is left free as a retreat square for the bishop from c4. Consequently, rather than opposite-side castling and mutual attacks, you get a more positional struggle.”

Another fine example is from Game 14, Nigel Short

vs Garry Kasparov,

PCA World Championship, game 8, London 1993: 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bc4 e6 7. Bb3 Nbd7 8. f4 Nc5 9. e5 dxe5 10. fxe5 Nfd7 11. Bf4 b5

“In this way, Black places the bishop on its best diagonal (the long diagonal) before White can prevent it by Qd1-f3. Such a position might look good for White on the surface-the e5-pawn confers some space advantage and White has rapid development, plus the f-file is open and the white pieces are placed in threatening-looking positions. But such is the poison of the Sicilian. Black too has his advantages, and they tend to be more long-lasting. The bishop which will come to b7 will be very well placed. The advanced e5-pawn is not only a strength, but a weakness. And most importantly, Black has a well placed knight on c5 and a substantial advantage in space on the queen-side – the advance…b5-b4 is constantly looming over White, and the b3-bishop, if not activated in some dramatic fashion, could turn out to be a complete dud.”

One can turn to almost any page and find nuggets of wisdom such as the above illustrating the aims of BOTH SIDES! If one wishes to play the Najdorf system, or play against it, this is the book for you.

The author has dug deep, unearthing this game, found in the notes to Game 24, Judit Polgar

vs Dariusz Swiercz,

which I was unable to locate in any database. Bryan writes, “6…e6 is likely to be met by 7.g4, which looks like a fairly promising line for White – although 7…Nc6 is another possibility for Black to look into. Instead, the originator of 6.Qf3, American master Andrew Karklins, liked to continue with 7.b3. His record against grandmasters with this line was not very good, but he did have one major scalp:

Andrew Karklins

vs Peter Svidler,

World Open 1995

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6.Qf3 e6 7. b3 Qb6 8. Nde2 Qc7 9. Bb2 b5 10. a3 Bb7 11. g4 d5 12. exd5 Nxd5 13.
Bg2 Nd7 14. O-O Bd6 15. Qh3 Nxc3 16. Nxc3 Be5 17. Bxb7 Qxb7 18. Rad1 O-O 19.Qe3 Bb8 20. Ne4 Ne5 21. Bxe5 Bxe5 22. Nc5 Qc7 23. f4 Bf6 24. Rd7 Qb6 25. Rfd1 Rfd8 26. b4 a5 27. Qf3 axb4 28. axb4 Kf8 29. Kg2 Rdc8 30. R1d6 Qb8 31. Qd3 1-0

This book achieves its aim, hitting the target with a bullseye!

GCA Hegemonic Designs

An email making the rounds in the local chess community has reached the AW. The sources are impeccable. It appears the GCA board has decided to hold a chess tournament about every other weekend in the coming year. To set the stage one should know the players in this drama.
The GCA board consists of three women, Laura Doman, Katie Hartley, and Pam Little, who do not play chess; Ben Johnson, who thinks he plays chess; Fun Fong, who plays mediocre chess; and Tim Payne and Frank Johnson, who are, or have been, rated expert. These are the committees found on the GCA website (http://www.georgiachess.org/contact):
GCA Committees
By-Law Task Force: Fun Fong, Katie Hartley, Mike Mulford, Scott Parker, Jeanne Ward
Communications: Laura Doman (Director)
Membership: Parnell Watkins
Open Events: WIM Carolina Blanco (Chair), Frank Johnson, Carolyn Lantelme, Greg Maness, Tim Payne, Bryan Rodeghiero, Thad Rogers, Parnell Watkins
Scholastic: Laura Doman, Katie Hartley (Co-Chair), Tricia Hill, Ben Johnson (Co-Chair), Susan Justice, Tim Payne, Steve Schneider, Ted Wieber
Volunteer Coordinator: Frank Johnson
Web Team: Laura Doman, Katie Hartley, Vijay Jayaram, Jagadeesh Rathnasabapathy, Keith Sewell
Committee members are volunteers who can commit to a year of working on the team.
In addition there the GCA has a “Task Force”:
GCA By-Law Task Force: Fun Fong (President), Katie Hartley (2nd VP), Mike Mulford (USCF delegate, Past Treasurer), Scott Parker (Past President), Jeanne Ward (Non-profit consultant)
Suggested By-Law Revisions to be voted on June 21st by GCA Members (http://www.georgiachess.org/bylaws)
These are the current “movers and shakers” of the Georgia Chess Association.

The GCA has myriad committees. The President of the GCA, Fun Fong, posted his, “From the President: GCA May 2014 Update” (http://georgiachessnews.com/2014/05/03/from-the-president-gca-may-2014-update/) on the new online magazine, “Georgia Chess News” on May 3, 2014, in which he writes about today’s committees and those to come. I asked two respected chess luminaries, NM Chris Chambers, and former GCA President and Georgia Senior Champion Scott Parker, for their thoughts on the President’s message. This was recieved from the Discman:
Happy Monday Bacon.
“Yes I’m fine with you using my stuff on blogs.
Regarding the GCA message, he sure seems to be planning to put together lots of committees.
Are there even enough dues-paying adult GCA members to man all the spots in those committees?
At this point they’re talking about forming committees to decide how to arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Virtually all of the passengers (actual tournament players) have boarded the life boats and are long gone, leaving only the wanna-be TD’s to train each other how to run tournaments that nobody will attend.”
CC
Mr. Parker sent an polished, insightful and obviously well-thought-out reply:
Michael,
“Fun is very high on the concept of working through committees. I am not, nor was my predecessor, Ted Wieber. That doesn’t mean it is wrong. There is more than one way to accomplish a task. My preference, and Ted’s too, I believe, was to find a committed volunteer and put a heavy workload on him/her. Committees tend to be slow and cumbersome things, and they lack direction. Each member wants to pull it in a different direction. You’ve heard the old joke, “A platypus is an animal designed by a committee.” It’s funny because there is an underlying truth to it. Committees do tend to come out with proposals that look like they ordered from a take-out menu – something from column A, something from column B, something from colunmn C, etc.
I’m also not sure that it makes sense to operate through committees in an orgainzation that has about 200 voting members. For USCF, which has over 10,000, that’s one thing, It’s another thing for GCA. We don’t have that many committed volunteers. I prefer to work with a small number of committed people rather than a large number of casually interested people.
All this being said, I will freely admit that I didn’t do a great job of identifying those committed volunteers, and ended up doing way too much of the grunt work myself. I was so busy doing the mundane stuff that I had little time to be President. It’s hard to concentrate on your plan to drain the swamp when you’re up to your a** in aligators. My impression is that as long as I was President that probably wasn’t going to change. As long as I was President and things were getting done a crisis didn’t exist. Without a crisis, not many people jumped up to volunteer. Perhaps in the long run it would have been better if I had refused to do the grunt work and let some tournaments and projects die so that a crisis situation would exist. Maybe that would have stimulated a few volunteers to step forward. For better or worse, I was not willing to do that.
Anyway, Fun’s idea of working through committees seems to be working pretty well for him. There has been some short term dislocation, and not everything is flowing smoothly, but in general the GCA is healthy. His way may not be my way, but if it works for him, that’s all that counts. “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” – Deng Xiao Ping.
Best Wishes, Scottt
P.S. You have my permission to use any or all of this in any way you see fit, or to copy it to anyone you choose.”

Both of these replies from my friends were received May 12, 2014. Although I tend to agree with the Discman, listening to a person who has the respect of all the chess community, as does Scott Parker, gives one a different perspective. There are always two sides of an issue and one must try, as difficult as it may be, to understand the other side.

Emails are being fired at such a rate the NSA is having trouble keeping up with the heavy volume…The first email is from WIM Carolina Blanco, Georgia Chess Open Event ( Chair).
On Monday, July 7, 2014 6:24 PM, Carolina Blanco wrote:
“Hello Everybody
Please find attached the update information for all the Open event tournaments to be organized by Georgia Chess Association from September 2014-July 2015.
Dates and location were verified according last Board meeting at Emory University on June 21st, 2014. Please note that the flyer still need to pass for one more review correction by the committee however with all these information we can see more organized our goal in maintain the tournaments organized in the past calendar year and adding two more new tournaments and new locations for the convenient and benefits of the chess community.
* Only event missing in this email ( but going to be added) is the Collegiate tournament. I am waiting for Ted Wieber to give us all the information for next year since he is the coordinator for this event.
* Location for Senior’s Open and Women’s Open is TBA since the Rivers Academy and Mrs. Justice proposal are in discussion, however the date that we saw more convenient at the board meeting in June for this event is September 20th, 2014.
* There are 4 tournaments to be held at the Wyndham Galleria Hotel and the dates in the flyer are the one that we are committed in the contract with the except of the Georgia State Championship that instead to be held on May 1st 2015. It was moved to April 18th 2015
* there are 2 new Class championship tournament added on February 27th and July 24th 2015. Beside the Class Championship on November 2014.
We are in the process to contact to Continental chess to try to extend our Open event activity from 6 tournaments a year to 12 tournaments a year for the next calendar period.
Questions?. Please feel free to email me.”
Greetings,
WIM Carolina Blanco
Georgia Chess Open Event ( Chair)

Ms. Blanco’s email evoked this response from former GCA President, International Arbiter, and chess business owner L. Thad Rogers:
On Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 6:45 PM, thad rogers wrote:
“Why is the Georgia Chess Association trying to put
American Chess Promotions and Championship Chess
out of business.”
I have 6 weekend tournaments scheduled with the dates
with Katie.
The Georgia Chess Association is to support chess in Georgia and not put other chess companies out of business.
This is the only way I try to make a meager income. I guess you all wouldn’t mind it if a nonprofit company came along and put all of your jobs and living out the window in order to satisfy them-selves.
No board in 40 years ever tried to do such a thing. I am very proud of such a caring Georgia Chess Association. I have tried tto do nothing but help the Georgia Chess Association for 40 years.
I have five or six people tell me that Fun said he is trying to put Georgia vendors out of business. If this goes through, then I guess he will get his wish.
All my tournaments are getting to have a signed contract. If Southeast holds tournaments. Then how in the heck can anybody make any money with about 26 weekend tournaments.
Like I said, the GCA Board and Volunteers don’t have to worry because you all aren’t risking any of your personal money. You are using State Association Funds. That is something to be proud of.
Sincerely,
Thad Rogers
American Chess Promotions
I am suppose to be on the Open Events committee. I never hear a word about meetings or issues until after the fact.”

The next email is from the POTGCA:
From: Fun Fong
Date: 07/09/2014 2:49 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: thad rogers
Thad,
“It seems that there’s an unfortunate – and false – rumor circulating that the GCA is looking to put you or any other Georgia chess organization out of business. I can understand why you would be upset. You have a long personal relationship with the GCA, which we all appreciate, and many of our members have enjoyed playing in American Chess tournaments for many years. As president, my mission is to serve the greater chess community by providing a full calendar of quality events for both adult and scholastic members. It is not, nor has it ever been, to destroy another’s livelihood through the power of the GCA. There is absolutely no way that the GCA could put anyone out of business, even if it wanted to, which is certainly no one’s intentions. You will not find any legitimate conversation anywhere that has even hinted of this. Somehow, facts are becoming distorted by the time they get to you, and I am greatly troubled by the prospect of a malicious rumor mill.
It is my belief that more chess is better chess, and that the chess community will eventually expand as opportunities expand, much as have road races greatly expanded in the Metro Atlanta area. GCA does endeavor to raise the bar for quality, so that other organizers will continue to innovate in their offerings, giving the Georgia player more choices and a better selection of events to participate. This initiative should provide a better experience overall for Georgia players. I know that you have been constantly thinking of new events and ways to execute them, and I think this endeavor is working for the benefit of the Georgia player.
Still, it is my responsibility as president to promote chess and to offer our players with as many opportunities to play good competitive chess as the market will support. Besides American Chess and Championship Chess, there is the North Georgia Chess Center, Vibha, and other organizations that host all sorts of tournaments, ranging from afternoon tournaments for young beginners to multi-day events for top-rated competitive players. I believe that there is room for all because we have a large, diverse community of chess players, and tournaments by virtue of their competitive level, time requirements, or location cannot all appeal to all types of players at all times. The chess community today is not the same as it was in the past. As GCA president, I must listen to our members and respond to their demands: to expand, support, and promote opportunities for competitive, quality play.
I understand and respect your concern that an outside group may be stronger or better financed, and potentially threaten your business. We will not tolerate any organization trying to drive another out of business. On the other hand, the GCA will not act as the personal agent for a business seeking to keep others out of their “turf.” I will tell you that the GCA will be advising Continental Chess (or any other organization that we may approach or that approaches us) that we must have a balanced calendar. Similar events need to be coordinated in advance, so that they don’t overlap too often.
The GCA cannot carry out its mission if we are beholden to vendor interests – any vendor. We must maintain the balance of support to our valued vendor organizations with our responsibilities to the chess playing public. If a vendor is involved in a GCA endeavor that could be perceived as a conflict of interest, then the vendor should recuse itself from voting or debate on such an issue. As an example, and I say this with due respect, it seems that whenever the GCA proposes dates in a modest expansion of our programs, we have heard you state that the GCA has no right to do so, presumably because the proposal conflicts with your own business’ plans or calendar. We cannot function as an organization if we cannot maintain impartiality. And under my leadership, this will cease to be a problem.
Thad, I continue to honor and value your long commitment and dedication to the GCA. We are all glad to have you involved and hope that you will want to do so for a long time to come. Regarding the Open Events committee meetings, there has actually not been a full meeting of the Open Events committee yet. Some committee members are changing their commitments to some degree, and while we’re managing this, I would anticipate a full meeting this month. You’ll certainly be advised when the meeting is scheduled.
As always, I welcome your feedback and look forward to talking with you about this or any other area of concern.”
Fun

The POTGCA writes about having a “balanced calendar.” Since the GCA has plans for a tournament every other weekend, that can only mean half for the GCA and half for everyone else.
As far as “…advising Continental Chess…”, I question why the GCA would want any other tournaments here along with their two dozen. Is the chess community large enough to support just the GCA tournaments? It is well known that Bill Goichberg, from New York, has intentionally stayed out of the South. Yes, he has held tournaments in Orlando, but how many tournaments has he held in other Southern states? The Ironman mentioned one in Nashville. One. The most famous was the Continental Open, a CCA tournament in Atlanta back in May of 1973 in which Mr. Six Time, GM Walter Browne flew in from the west coast. GM Browne was on the cover of the May, 1973 “Chess Life & Review.” Walter was treated to some “Southern hospitality,” drawing with Rueben Shocron and losing to Milan Momic, and Robert Burns, before leaving to catch a much earlier flight than anticipated. As GM Browne was leaving someone asked him why he was leaving. The Legendary Georgia Ironman was present to hear what came next, now Tim’s ALL-TIME FAVORITE chess quote. Walter turned on the man like a cobra, yelling, “I DID NOT COME HERE FOR YOUR BENEFIT!”
I realize the World Open was held in the Great State of Virginia this year, but how many tournaments has the CCA brought to the Deep South in the last forty plus years? Of all the tournaments the CCA has held since the 1970’s I will be kind and say that if one includes Louisville, although having lived there I cannot imagine anyone would, the CCA has held maybe five percent in the South, probably less. The “pooh-bahs” should consider leaving the CCA alone and concentrate on holding the conjectured GCA tournaments to the best of their ability. I would like to warn the GCA of over saturation. The Ironman and I were in the sports card business in the late 1980’s, early 90’s, before over saturation and the MLB strike of 1994. When we began there were only a few monthly shows in the metro area. Then a few were added, and then there were card shows every other weekend. More were added until it became a card show every weekend in many locations. In those halcyon days the action was fast and furious. I recall being involved in major deals that were so involved that when another customer would pick a card and pay the advertised price without haggling. I would stuff the bill in my pocket and carry on with the deal. Then the customers stopped coming because they knew there would be another show the next weekend, and the next. Near the end it was so bad at one show I told the Ironman I would not eat lunch until I made a sale. My stomach was growling all afternoon until after the show when Tim took pity on me and bought me a beer and a sammy at Spondivits, saying, “A man who don’t make even one sale shouldn’t have to pay the tab.”