Fun with Fong and Magar the Morrible

Thomas Magar, known as “tmagchesspgh” on the USCF forum, was the first to comment on the aforementioned post by Mike Murray. He begins his comment(s) with, “Somehow, I am less inclined to believe a blog which has a personal axe to grind for authoritative analysis of a topic.” Mr. Magar is a prolific poster on the USCF forum as can be seen by this being his 2802 post. This pales in comparison to Mr. Allen Priest, writing as “Allen” on the forum, who has made an astounding 4918 posts. He joins Mr Magar by writing, “Having met and interacted with the blogger at issue multiple times, a comment that the blogger might have a personal axe to grind is certainly believable.” This is known as “kill the messenger.” This is a common practice when some cannot refute the message. I will address the axe grinding momentarily, but first I must take exception to something Mr.Magar wrote, “The “Armchair Warrior” has mischaracterized some of their work.” I have done no such thing. What I have done is to simply copy what these eminently educated people have written, and I have copied it verbatim. If Mr. Magar were writing about the JFK assassination he would be known as an “apologist” for the Warren Commission. He would probably write something along the lines of, “What do you mean you do not believe in the magic bullet theory? When I took out my vintage WWII low-powered Italian made carbine, called “junk” by expert military riflemen, and shot into a watermelon from the rear, it went back, and to the left! Not only that, when I lined up two watermelons at an angle from each other, and shot from an angle high above the melons, the bullet entered the first melon, changed direction heading from down to up, zigged to the left, then zagged back to the right and entered the melon, again zigging to the left, where it exited the watermelon, after zagging, then striking Lyndon’s Boy John, who happened to be walking by just as I was demonstrating the power of a magic bullet, in the thigh.”

As far as having an axe to grind, nothing could be further from the truth. But to be as honest as possible, and in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to relate the following. The fact is that some years ago the President of the GCA insisted on holding a Senior tournament that was thought so highly of by Seniors that only EIGHT players entered. He did this against the wishes of many members of the chess community, including the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who had advocated getting a committee of Seniors, such as the esteemed Scott Parker and the highly regarded Michael Mulford, known as “Mulfish” on the USCF forum, together to discuss what kind of tournament should be held. Fun Fong, the POTGCA, nixed that idea, “nippin’ it in the bud,” as Deputy Barney Fife would say. Fun Fong is an emergency room doctor, and as such is the man in complete control. He gives the orders in the same way a General or dictator gives orders, and expects them to be obeyed. Dr. Fong was not happy to read my criticism. When I decided to write another blog, this one, I called former POTGCA Scott Parker, a member of the Emory Castle Chess Camp board, as is Dr. Fong, and asked if it would be OK for me to post some signs for my blog at the Castle tournament which concludes the camp. Scott said he saw no problem with my doing that, as long as I checked with the Chief TD, Colonel David Hater, whom I knew from the House of Pain. I did just that and David was very gracious, shaking my hand and asking how I had been, then walking me around while discussing chess and the best places for me to post my notices. He was called away and I noticed Dr. Fong heading my way so I extended my hand, which was rebuffed rather hatefully. I will admit this was rather embarrassing with all the people around to see what had transpired. I placed a few notices before Jennifer Christianson, a lovely woman familiar to me because her sons played chess at the HOP, walked up and told me Fun Fong had asked her to tell me I would have to take the notices down. After informing Jennifer that I had discussed it with Mr. Parker, and then asked Colonel Hater, she told me to forget about what Fun had said; she would tell him I had permission.

I am a Southern man. I was born and raised in the South, as they say, “by the grace of God.” In the South if a man, any man, has a woman do his bidding for him, he is considered to be not much of a man. I have not written about the incident until now, and have not gone out of my way to spread it around, but when asked, I have discussed it with a few players, who, to a man, feel exactly as I do. There is absolutely nothing Fun Fong can do to change the fact that he is, and always will be, considered “NOT MUCH OF A MAN.”

That said, I do not have a bone to pick, or an axe to grind, with Fun Fong on a personal level. As GM Hikaru Nakamura is so fond of saying, “It is what it is.” Fun Fong is what he is. I do, though, have a problem with what Fun Fong, whom I will admit I think of as “Fun E. Fong,” has done as POTGCA. Rather than instituting changes to the format so that many more Senior players would consider playing, Fun Fong held the same tournament and only thirteen players entered the next year. In order to improve a chess player must acknowledge, and correct, his mistakes. Fun Fong let the chess community know in no uncertain terms that things were going to be his way, or the highway. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is, unfortunately, not the only example of Fun Fong making a mistake again and again. What lit Richard De Credico’s fuse is the GCA made the exact same mistake made at the previous tournament. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/the-decredico-incident/). As Mike Mulford has written, the buck has got to stop somewhere, and Fun Fong is the POTGCA, and as such, must be held accountable. I have been around chess in Georgia since 1970 and have never seen any GCA board member engender the enmity of so many.

In the most recent scholastic chess tournament the GCA, under the leadership of Fun Fong, lost a round. How is that possible you ask?

From: Georgia Chess Association
Date: Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Teams Invited to the K-8 Team State Championship

“Dear Parents, Coaches & Players,

Thank you so much for attending the 2015 State Qualifier tournament. Teams invited to the State Championship can be found on our website using this link: http://www.georgiachess.org/event-1773262. Details and registration will be up this week.

We’d like to apologize for the delay we had following round 3. Much time and energy was put into preparing for this event in hopes of running a smooth, on-time tournament. Few are more distressed than we are as volunteers for the technical issues we had with the K-3 section. (See below for details.)

One issue we are trying to address for the future is communication. Our pre-tournament communication with you allowed for a very smooth start. This year chess control was split into 4 sections staffed with more volunteers to help answer questions. It went very well. After the technical issues at round 3 began we had difficulty communicating with the parents. Without carpet in the exhibit halls (which is currently not an option due to the expense) the PA system is ineffective. We are working on finding alternate ways of communicating with you on tournament day in the future if we use this venue.

We would like to thank all the parents and coaches who volunteered for this event and who were supportive through out the day. We can not hold chess tournaments without you.

Sincerely,
GCA Scholastic Team

Details of the technical issue: Files for rounds 1 & 2 & 3 were lost on the K-3 laptop with the pairing software. All results for round 1 had to be re-entered. With so many unrated players, when we paired for round 2 to enter those results, the pairings didn’t match the actual round that was played. We had to pair those boards by hand in order to input those results. The same had to be done for round 3. Once we realized how long this would take we decided to go with a 4 round tournament for K-3 and have the other sections play ASAP. Not being able to communicate this to parents was a huge problem.”

There is no explanation for how the files were lost. I have heard they were deleted. This may, or may not, be true, but it sounds like something par for the course for the GCA gang who have trouble shooting straight. I will admit to having a difficult time fathoming how this is possible because when I hit the “delete” key, a small window always appears asking me, “Are you sure you want to do this, dude?”

Upon moving back to my home state the father of a young boy told me an incredible story of how his son had been “shafted” during a scholastic tournament that was so outlandish it was difficult to believe even though I knew this man to be a fine, honest father and strong family man. Since I was newly returned and did not know the people now in charge of chess in Georgia I told the father the BaconLOG was discontinued, and was not certain I wanted to write another blog, and certainly did not wish to write about scholastic chess. There was no one else for him to turn and I do not believe he has ever forgiven me. If I had known then what I now know, I would have started another blog right then and there and published what I had been told.

I have come to think of those in charge of chess in my home state as the Roseanne Roseannadanna’s of the chess world. “Roseanne Roseannadanna” was one of several recurring characters created by Gilda Radner, who appeared on “Weekend Update” in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live airing on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).”

“Eventually, Weekend Update co-anchor Jane Curtin would interrupt, stating, “Roseanne, you’re making me sick.” Curtin would then ask her what her comments had to do with the question. Roseannadanna’s response was, “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something—if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roseanne_Roseannadanna)

Mr. Magar writes, “I also know Bob Ferguson and have talked with him about his studies.”

I met Bob Dylan once, but was unable to talk with him about his song writing because, after being introduced as the Atlanta Chess Champion, our conversation consisted of him asking me about chess. What did Mr.Magar learn about the Ferguson study? Why did he mention this?

Mr. Magar drops another name, writing, “Ferdinand Gobet was at CMU in Pittsburgh for a time doing some research. I met and discussed some issues with him way back when.”

What “issues” were discussed and did it have anything at all to do with anything about which I wrote?

Mr. Magar writes, “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling. The examination and experimental framework they use is over a very short time frame. Other studies that are over the application of chess study over an extensive time are much more positive with regards to the effects of chess and scholastic achievement. I am well aware of potential structural flaws of some of the studies. However, the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.”

What “other studies?” Please explain what you mean by your vague statement, “…the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.” SHOW US THE EVIDENCE! “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling.” Maybe not to Thomas Magar, but it is to Dr. Zach Hambrick, and that is good enough for me.

Mr. Magar writes, “I could point to anecdotal evidence in my own practice in dealing with special education students in a school and what some of my students have achieved.”

So could I, and many other chess teachers and coaches, but still it would only be “anecdotal evidence.” The reason studies such as this are done is to obtain the big picture.

In Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, by Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli, one finds, “…compulsory instruction is not to be recommended, as it seems to lead to motivational problems.” I could give you an anecdotal tale of a boy to whom I tried to teach chess, not because the boy was interested in the Royal game, but because his mother, who was originally from the home town of Garry Kasparov, Baku, Armenia, wanted him to learn. He was being home schooled after having had “problems” in public school. The time I spent trying to teach the boy, in the home city of Alan Priest, I might add, was like pulling eye teeth, and as far as I am concerned, proof positive that Gobet and Campitelli hit the nail on the head with this one. But, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose Magar and Priest decided to so a study and questioned four hundred ninety nine other chess teachers, and they all reported that “Compulsory instruction was to be recommended because it did not seem to lead to motivational problems.” My “anecdotal evidence would be an outlier, and worthless. Mr. Magar seems to acknowledge this when he goes on to write, “But since I am too busy working to teach chess and do not intend to publish an academic article, you can dismiss what I am about to say.”

And that is exactly what I did, Mr. Magar.

https://screen.yahoo.com/roseanne-rosannadanna-smoking-000000279.html

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Can You Handle the Truth?

Yesterday Mike Murray started a new thread in the “All Things Chess” section of the USCF Forum. The title of his thread is a question, “Does chess develop transferable skills ?” (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=21185&sid=fc8aa899349128eec2cc1414646786be) Mike begins his post answering the question by writing, “Evidently, not so much.” He then quotes from this blog by copying something I copied verbatim:

“…recent research into expertise has clearly indicated that, the higher the level of expertise in a domain, the more limited the transfer [of skills to other fields] will be… Moreover, reaching a high level of skill in domains such as chess, music or mathematics requires large amounts of practice to acquire the domain specific knowledge which determines expert performance. Inevitably, the time spent in developing such skills will impair the acquisition of other skills.”

Mr. Murray then gives a link to my post, and adds a link with which I was unfamiliar:
“see also” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126200/

I would like to express my thanks to Mike Murray for drawing my attention to this paper.

Before deciding to write about what is currently known in regard to the question of whether or not chess is beneficial for children I took the time to read several papers pertaining to what has been learned by those who study these types of questions. These are the papers:

Facing facts about deliberate practice

David Z. Hambrick1*, Erik M. Altmann1, Frederick L. Oswald2, Elizabeth J. Meinz3 and Fernand Gobet4
1 Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA
2 Department ofPsychology, Rice University, Houston, TX, USA
3 Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, IL, USA
4 InstituteofPsychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK
*Correspondence: hambric3@msu.edu
Editedby:
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia
Reviewed by:
Lena Rachel Quinto, Macquarie University, Australia
Michael H. Connors, Macquarie University, Australia

The Role of Domain-Specific Practice, Handedness, and Starting Age in Chess

Fernand Gobet and Guillermo Campitelli
Brunel University

The genetics of music accomplishment: Evidence for gene–environment correlation and interaction

David Z. Hambrick & Elliot M. Tucker-Drob

Accounting for expert performance: The devil is in the details

David Z. Hambrick a,⁎, Erik M. Altmann a, Frederick L. Oswald b, Elizabeth J. Meinz c, Fernand Gobet d, Guillermo Campitelli e
a Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, United States
b Department of Psychology, Rice University, United States
c Department of Psychology, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, United States
d Institute of Psychology, Health, and Society, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom
e School of Psychology and Social Science, Edith Cowan University, Australia

Does high-level intellectual performance depend on practice alone? Debunking the Polgar sisters case

Robert W. Howard∗
School of Education, University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia

Longitudinal Effects of Different Types of Practice on the Development of Chess Expertise

ROBERT W. HOWARD*
University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Deliberate Practice and Performance in Music, Games, Sports, Education, and Professions: A Meta-Analysis

Psychological Science published online 1 July 2014
Brooke N. Macnamara, David Z. Hambrick and Frederick L. Oswald
DOI: 10.1177/0956797614535810

Intelligence and chess

Fernand Gobet, & Guillermo Campitelli

Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review

Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli
University of Nottingham

What put me on this path was the flap over what Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his book. “In Gladwell’s bestselling “Outliers” he discusses the “10,000-hour rule”: If you practice the necessary 10,000 hours you can reach the zenith of your field.” (http://www.salon.com/2014/07/15/is_malcolm_gladwell_wrong_scientists_debate_the_10000_hour_rule/)

In the same article Zach answers, “We found that, yes, practice is important, and of course it’s absolutely necessary to achieve expertise,” Hambrick told the Times. “But it’s not as important as many people have been saying.”

The article, Is Malcolm Gladwell wrong? Scientists debate the “10,000-hour rule: The argument between talent versus practices deepens with the release of a new study, by Sarah Gray, Tuesday, July 15, 2014. This particular article begins:

“A new study, published in the journal Psychological Science, is fueling the practice-versus-talent debate. The study was co-authored by Zach Hambrick, of Michigan State University, Brooke Macnamara, who is currently at Case Western Reserve University, and Rice University’s Frederick Oswald. According to the New York Times, this study is the “most comprehensive review of relevant research to date.”

“The paper, which looked at 88 different studies, covering a wide range of activities, from chess to music to sports, found that only 20 to 25 percent of a person’s ability — in music, sports and chess — came from practice. In academics, the Times reports, it is even lower; only 4 percent of a person’s academic ability came from practice. However, the authors note that academic skill was more difficult to measure, because it was tough to gauge how much people knew beforehand.”

The book by Malcolm Gladwell was a best-seller and the author, no doubt, made much money. Unfortunately for him, his theory has been refuted. Even so, their are many people who have not gotten the word. For example, I was sitting at a table in a Barnes & Noble with a chess board in front of me while reading a copy of the best chess magazine in the world, New In Chess, when an older fellow walked up and asked, “Putting in your 10,000 hours?” I asked if he were referring to Gladwell’s book and he answered in the affirmative. As he took a seat I told him Gladwell’s theory had been refuted. Having read the book, he was in disbelief. “The man would not have written the book if it were not true,” he said. Nothing I said could disabuse him of his belief. Fortunately, someone whom he knew arrived and he took his leave, but not before telling his friend that I was a “party pooper.” I have been called far worse…

This kind of thing happens all the time in our society. An example would be what the Bushwhackers said happened to Private First Class Jessica Dawn Lynch during the invasion of Iraq. Initial reports by the Bushwhackers said that before being captured and brutalized, PFC Lynch, in her best Rambo imitation, fired all the rounds in her weapon until the weapon was so hot it burned her hands, but still she continued, in great pain, to hold onto the weapon, using it to club Iraqi soldiers until there were so many of them she could no longer swing said weapon…or some such. I will admit to paraphrasing here, but you get the idea. The truth came out later, and I quote, “Initial official reports on Lynch’s capture and rescue in Iraq were incorrect. On April 24, 2007, she testified in front of Congress that she had never fired her weapon, her M16 rifle jammed, and that she had been knocked unconscious when her vehicle crashed. Lynch has been outspoken in her criticism of the original stories reported regarding her combat experience. When asked about her heroine status, she stated “That wasn’t me. I’m not about to take credit for something I didn’t do… I’m just a survivor.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jessica_Lynch#Further_reading) See The authorized biography, I Am A Soldier Too: The Jessica Lynch Story, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Rick Bragg.” See also, “The truth about Jessica.” (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/may/15/iraq.usa2) People can still be found who will tell you all about the brave woman during the invasion of Iraq who made Rambo look like a wuss…

The lies the Bushwhackers told about former NFL star Pat Tillman are even more egregious, and the truth still has not been told to WE THE PEOPLE. I do not mean to single out the Bushwhackers. “Presidential aide Arthur Schlesinger has written that President Kennedy said just days before the assassination that Johnson was a man “incapable of telling the truth.” (See Robert F. Kennedy and His Times, page 655. I have taken this from the masterful work by Douglas P. Horne, Chief Analyst for Military Records, Assassination Records Review Board, “Inside the Assassination Records Review Board: The U.S. Government’s Final Attempt to Reconcile the Conflicting Medical Evidence in the Assassination of JFK – Volume 5.”)

Another example would be the prosecutor who, while the defandant is on the stand, looks the jury in the eye and says, “The defendant is obviously a scurrilous scumbag!” The public defender then leaps to his feet saying, “Your Honor, I most strenuously object.” At which time the judge says to the prosecutor, “The objection is sustained. Mr. Prosecutor. I cannot believe a man with your credentials would would say such a thing.” To which the prosecutor says, “Yes Your Honor. Forgive me. It will not happen again.” The judge then say, “That last remark will be stricken from the record and the jury will disregard the comment made by the esteemed prosecutor.”
When the trial ends and the jury is marched into chambers to decide the fate of the accused, the only question to be decided is which one will be chosen foreman. Once a foreman is chosen he will say, “Do we really need to spend any time voting? It is more than a little obvious the defendant is a scurrilous scumbag.”
Someone will mention the judge said to disregard the remark and will be turned on by the rest of the pack while the foreman says forcefully, “What the hell do you mean? The ESTEEMED prosecutor said the defendant was a scurrilous scumbag, and he would not have said it if it were not true!” Meanwhile the rest of the pack will nod in agreement, saying, “Uh huh, uh huh, right on, right on, right on.” The poor defendant will be lucky to have a show of hands before being declared guilty.

Shocked to Find Cheating on PlayChess.com

Several days ago this notice appeared on the USCF website:

“USCF & Internet Chess Club Join Forces to Provide Online Rated Chess!

The Internet Chess Club (ICC) and the United States Chess Federation (USCF) are delighted to announce the start of USCF online rated tournaments on the ICC. Bonus: 20% off ICC memberships for USCF members!” (http://www.uschess.org/content/view/12816/772/)

Wow, what a “bonus.” How about playing on one of the plethora of places where you can play FREE?

Today a new thread appeared on the forum under “All Things Chess”:

“New form of cheating on PlayChess.com ??”

by MikeMurray on Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:22 am #285620
“The last few days, I’ve experienced what appears to be a new cheating technique on PlayChess.com. What happens is my time seems to simply evaporate and I lose on time the instant my opponent moves. These are rated games. The last occurrence, with a huge material advantage on the board, I had about 25 seconds left and had a “premove” set up. My opponent thought for about 30 seconds, moved, and bingo, I instantly lost on time. This has happened more than once. The first couple of times (with different opponents), I thought I’d simply zoned out and not noticed my opponent’s move. But this last time, I was clearly focused and paying attention.
Anybody else experience this or something similar?
By the way, my premove did execute on the board, so I technically lost on time when it was my opponent’s move!”

A short time later Mike Nolan weighed in, as he does often, with:

by nolan on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:07 pm #285622
“This doesn’t sounds so much like a way of cheating as a poorly designed or buggy playing interface.”

Next up was Hal Terrie:
by Hal Terrie on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:14 pm #285623
“This kind of thing is frequently caused by lag. If you have a slow connection to the server your moves (and the replies of your opponent) will not be transmitted right away but meanwhile the server is still counting down your clock. This can result in the sudden disappearance of time as you have described.”
— Hal Terrie

Mr. Murray answered:

Postby MikeMurray on Mon Oct 06, 2014 1:52 pm #285629
“In the past, the server seemed to be able to account for lag. I’m wondering if some other applications I’m running on my PC might #### this up. I had Skype up, as well as gDrive, couple of browser windows and the usual antivirus.”

Hal took another turn with:

by Hal Terrie on Mon Oct 06, 2014 2:12 pm #285631
“I don’t think it’s related to other applications. I have had the exact thing you describe happen to me – I try to move instantly but 30 seconds or a minute just vanish. I have had this happen on both ICC and Chess.com. Some servers have an internal test for lag and won’t let you start a game if your connection is too slow but I don’t think it always works.r
I get broadband internet from Comcast and there’s a tendency to think it’s very fast. However, when overall usage is very high (for example, in late afternoon when all the kids are getting home from school and simultaneously logging on), I have sometimes found my connection slowing to a crawl. It’s not just the chess servers, web pages take forever to load too. All I can do is just log off and come back later. Sometimes, if I try logging in instead using an alternate ISP (I have a wireless laptop card from Verizon), the problem vanishes.”
— Hal Terrie
(http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=20621&sid=70db42d2bdfc049f1cc046fd44d6b0a0)

Blame it on the “kids”!

I do not play chess on the internet and wonder why anyone would do so. But then, I also wondered why any fool would play poker on a website. If you play against other humans you can at least see them dealing from the bottom of the deck. (http://www.pokernews.com/news/2013/05/audio-tapes-expose-ultimate-bet-cheating-scandal-14986.htm)

I had a problem trying to listen to music from the Hearts of Space (https://www.hos.com/). When the music stopped a message appeared onscreen, “Your internet connection is too slow. You must be in the US, which means your 20th century low-speed internet, unlike the twenty-first century ultra high-speed connection in most other advanced countries, like Japan and South Korea, for example, runs circles around your antiquated, obsolete, low-speed internet, while you pay exponentially more for infinitely less service.” Or something like that…

I was talking with a gentleman from another country in a coffee shop just the other day as his frustration mounted. “I cannot believe how slow the internet is here! It takes me many minutes longer to do my work! In my country all I have to do is THINK about where I’m surfing next and the page will appear ten seconds BEFORE I realize that’s where I wanted to go!”
I told him to have another cuppa joe while he waited. “Good idea,” he said.

Casablanca gambling? I’m shocked!