The World Of Championship Chess

During the meeting of the Ironman Chess Club Tuesday, July 16, 2019 I was able to question the owner of Championship Chess, (https://www.championshipchess.net/) Steve Schneider,

a man I have known since the 1970’s, and for whom I once worked teaching Chess to children in an after school program. Our ‘conversation’ turned into an interview. There were others listening to our discussion. Without those witnesses I would be unable to publish this interview. It began after Steve, who is elderly, and like many older people, battling myriad health issues, including life threatening blood clots in his legs, stated, “I spend eighteen hours a day on Chess.” I did not question this because it is common knowledge Steve ‘burns the midnight oil’, sending emails into the wee hours of the night. I was holding a Championship Chess flyer for the 8th annual K-12 Summer Scorcher Chess tournament, which includes, on the back, the first twenty moves of the game between World Human Chess Co-Champion (at classical Chess) Magnus Carlsen and Sharsidden Vokhidov from the 2018 World Rapid Championship, titled “The Queen’s Raid.”

Me: “I see you are still teaching the Queen’s Raid.”

Steve: “There is nothing wrong with teaching the Queen’s Raid. It’s a good opening. Look at who plays it!”

Me: “Come on, Steve.”

Steve: “All the computers say it’s a playable opening!”

Me: “Which computers?”

Steve: “Stockfish, and all the top programs! Stockfish says white is better in the game!” (Referring to the aforementioned game printed on the back of the flyer. For years a Championship Chess flyer contained Chess puzzles chosen by NM Tim Brookshear. The Queen’s Raid game appears because Tim, for various reasons, decided to no longer produce the puzzles, allowing Steve’s atavistic tendencies to rear their ugly head. Hence the Queen’s Raid, something near and dear to the heart of the owner of Championship Chess. A case can be made that Championship Chess was predicated upon the Queen’s Raid, which has become synonymous with Championship Chess. The Queen’s Raid is the foundation of Championship Chess. Steve Schneider will invariably be known as the “Queen’s Raid guy.”)

Me: “When, exactly, is white better according to Stockfish, Steve?”

Steve: “In all the diagrams!”

Me: “Come on, Steve.”

Steve: Except where Magnus missed the best move in the last diagram.”

Me: “But the diagram is before Carlsen, as you say, ‘…missed the best move.'”

Steve: “Then he’s better there, too!”

(All I could do was shake my head as I muttered “unbelievable.” I then decided to move to a different subject. Granted, Magnus was better but only after his opponent played a theoretical novelty that was an extremely weak move, 4…Qe7. The Patzer is so bad that even with the inclusion of the weak move Qe7 the game is considered about even by “all of the programs.”)

Me: “What’s the deal with the World of Chess?” (Steve has spent much money having someone develop a program for beginners to which he sells access to unknowing parents of children who are in Championship Chess after school programs. I had previously seen a flyer for The World of Chess at the Ironman CC)

Steve: “What do you mean?”

Me: “Is it operational?”

Steve: “Yes.”

Me: “I looked for it on the internet but could not locate it.”

Steve: “Not just anyone can get to it.”

Me: “I would like to review it, Steve.”

Steve: “I DO NOT WANT IT REVIEWED!”

Me: “You don’t want it reviewed?” (Asked with incredulity)

Steve: “Why would I want others to see it?”

Me: “When a new product is developed it is usually reviewed…”

Steve: “You have to pay first.”

Me: “You must pay before even checking it out?”

Steve: “Yes.”

Me: “I understand it is similar to Mike Klein’s ChessKid, (https://www.chesskid.com/) which is free.”

Steve: “It’s NOT free. You must pay!”

Me: “I checked out ChessKid and there is much free content for anyone to see and use…”

Steve: “ChessKid really took off after he came to one of my lectures and stole my ideas.”

Me: “Who came to your lecture?”

Steve: “Mike Klein came to a lecture in Alabama. Most of what’s on ChessKid he took from me!”

Me: “But Steve, ChessKid has been around since long before you developed The World of Chess.”

Steve: “And you have to pay.”

Me: “But you can check it out before paying.”

Steve: “I’m not giving anything away. You must pay first!”

At this point Steve’s face was beet red and he was in a highly agitated state, so there were no further questions as others began to query “Coach Steve.”

This is my attempt to reproduce the Championship Chess flyer:

ECO20 The Queen’s Raid (At the 365Chess.com website you will find this-C20 KP, Patzer opening) (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=4&n=332&ms=e4.e5.Qh5&ns=3.5.332)

Carlsen, Magnus (2835)
Vokhidov, Shamsiddin (2480)
World Rapid Championship 12.2018

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 Qe7 5.Ne2 Nf6 6.d3 Bg7 7.Nbc3

Typical opening moves where the players are even. h6 8.Nd5 Nxd5 9.exd5 Na5 10.d6

Carlsen prevents Black from trading his Bishop. He sacrifices a Pawn for better development.cxd6 11.Bd5 Nc6 12.Bd2 Qf6 13.Qe4 O-O 14.O-O Ne7 15.Nc3 Qf5 16.Qb4 Nxd5

Black trades a Knight for a Bishop. 17.Nxd5 Kh7 18.Nc7 Rb8 19.Qxd6

White is better. b6 20.f3 Here Carlsen missed the best move Ne8! 0-1

I went to 365Chess and the “Big Database” contains 281 games with white winning 36.3% while losing 50.9%. The ChessBaseDataBase contains only 35 games because it is more selective, containing mostly games by titled players. It shows white scoring only 44%.

The CBDB shows what the engines ‘thought’ of the opening moves played in the Carlsen v Vokhidov game.

1.e4 e5 2.Qh5 (After this move SF 10 at D43 shows an evaluation of -0.50 for white after black plays 2…Nc6 ; Komodo 12 has it -0.20)

Nc6 3.Bc4 g6 4.Qf3 (Although Stockfish at Depth 43 plays the game move Komodo 12 at D42 prefers 4 Qd1)

4…Qe7? (There is only one game with this move in the CBDB. Komodo has it -0.02 after 5 Ne2. There are 25 games with 4…Nf6, SF has it -0.56. Vokhidov did not know the opening, which may have contributed to the thinking of Magnus Carlsen before playing The Patzer. Magnus has never played it again. There is a reason…) 5.Ne2 Nf6 (The Fish and the Dragon both play 5…Na5) 6.d3 (SF 10 plays 6 Nbc3) 6…Bg7 (Komodo and Houdini play the game move but Stockfish plays 6…h6, which will be a Theoretical Novelty if and when a titled human player makes the move on a board) 7.Nbc3 (SF 10 shows an advantage of -0.39 after 7…Nd4) 7…h6 8.Nd5 (SF 8 h3; Houdini 8 Be3) 8…Nxd5 9.exd5 Na5 ( According to both SF and Houdini 9…Nb4 is better) 10.d6 cxd6 11.Bd5 Nc6 (SF 11…Rb8) 12.Bd2 (This is Komodo’s move; Houdini plays 12 Qe4) 12…Qf6 (SF 10 castles)

Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 (http://www.takeoverworld.info/Grand_Chessboard.pdf): “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html)

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=alan+priest)

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((http://www.chessdom.com/trouble-for-chess-as-swiss-bank-account-closed/))

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.
(https://www.quora.com/What-do-chess-players-think-of-Go-and-Go-players)

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (https://www.britgo.org/learners/chessgo.html)

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chess-go-chess-go-morozevich-beats-tiger-in-dizzying-match-2272) Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/morozevich-on-go-computers-and-cheating)

AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/putting-for-the-fences.html)

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-25/chinas-rise-americas-fall)

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/15/chinas-rise-didnt-have-to-mean-americas-fall-then-came-trump/?utm_term=.59f66290ffff)

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/03/is-chinas-rise-americas-fall/#41bd7a0d1e5f)

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)


http://georgiachessnews.com/2018/01/09/why-you-need-to-learn-xiangqi-for-playing-better-chess/

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html