Just Checking The End Of The Line

Each issue of the best Chess magazine in the universe, New In Chess, culminates with Just Checking, which is a series of questions for various strong players from various parts of the world. Since I am not a titled player NIC will never interview me, yet I have sometimes fantasized about answering the questions posed. Some of the answers are surprising and each and every answer tells you something about the person providing the answer. Since it is a magazine with limited space most of the answers are short. Since this is a blog I can elaborate at length. Don’t get me started! I hope you enjoy what follows.

What is your favorite city?

Decatur, Georgia, the city of my birth.

What was the last great meal you had?

Something beautiful in its simplicity prepared by the woman with whom I was in love.

What drink brings a smile to your face?

Which book would you give to a dear friend?

I have no “dear friend.”

What book are you currently reading?

Just finished reading, Presumed Guilty: How and why the Warren Commission framed Lee Harvey Oswald, by Howard Roffman. Although it was published in the mid-seventies it had somehow escaped my attention. Although I had read a few books before beginning to work at the Oxford bookstore in Atlanta, my serious reading began a few years after the book was published, yet I missed it. I ordered the book after reading about it in Volume 20, #3 of the JFK/DEEP POLITICS QUARTERLY, published in August of 2018 by Walt Brown and Tim Smith (info @ kiasjfk@aol.com). Upon opening the package and reading the front of the dust jacket I turned to the back and was taken aback, no, ASTOUNDED, to see a picture of a young Justin Morrison, now owner of Kid Chess in Atlanta, Georgia (https://www.kidchess.com/). I kid you not! The picture of the the young man bears an uncanny resemblance to the young Justin Morrison, who was one of my opponents in the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship. From the jacket: “Howard Roffman, now 23, was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa., where he attended public school. His interest in the assassination of President Kennedy began when he was fourteen, and he read everything he could lay his hands on on the subject. By 11th grade he had bought all 26 volumes of the Warren Report ($76), and, convinced of the inadequacy of the conclusions, he went to the National Archives and studied the files – the youngest researcher ever to see them. Alarmed at what he discovered, he writes, “I can’t think of anything more threatening than when the government lies about the murder of its leader.” It is a fine book and a clear refutation of the US Government’s “official” finding that Lee Harvey Oswald murdered the POTUS, John F. Kennedy.

What is your favorite novel?

The Glass Bead Game by Hermann Hesse

Do you have a favorite artist?

Maxfield Parrish

Way back in the 1970’s a girlfriend, Cecil Jordan, who was from California, and came to Atlanta to become a stewardess for Delta Air Lines, took me to some place in San Francisco where the paintings of Maxfield Parrish were being shown. The colors, especially blue, were so very vibrant it was like they jumped out at you in a spectacular way. I fell in love with the artists work. The pictures one sees in a book or magazine are nice, but absolutely nothing like what one sees if fortunate enough to see the real McCoy.

What is your favorite color?

What is your all-time favorite movie?

When young it was Cool Hand Luke,

then came One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,

but I cannot watch either of them now because they are too depressing. The English Patient

became a candidate, but only one movie has stood the test of time. When channel surfing and the movie flashes upon the screen it matters not what is on any other channel as the surfing ends immediately. That movie is Casablanca.

What is your all-time favorite TV series?

Who is your favorite actor?

Humphrey Bogart.

And actress?

Kim Basinger

and Blair Brown.



To what kind of music do you listen?

Because of tinnitus I now listen to mostly what is called “ambient,” or “electronic,” or “New Age,” or “space” music. (https://www.hos.com/)

I have, at one time or another, listened to every kind of musical genre.

Who is your favorite composer?

Duke Ellington.

Favorite male singer/songwriter?

Bob Dylan

Female?

Joni Mitchell.

Best Rock & Roll song of all-time?

Like a Rolling Stone.

Like A Rolling Stone

Written by: Bob Dylan

Once upon a time you dressed so fine

You threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn’t you?

People’d call, say, “Beware doll, you’re bound to fall”

You thought they were all kiddin’ you

You used to laugh about

Everybody that was hangin’ out

Now you don’t talk so loud

Now you don’t seem so proud

About having to be scrounging for your next meal

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be without a home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

You’ve gone to the finest school all right, Miss Lonely

But you know you only used to get juiced in it

And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street

And now you find out you’re gonna have to get used to it

You said you’d never compromise

With the mystery tramp, but now you realize

He’s not selling any alibis

As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes

And ask him do you want to make a deal?

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

You never turned around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns

When they all come down and did tricks for you

You never understood that it ain’t no good

You shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you

You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat

Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat

Ain’t it hard when you discover that

He really wasn’t where it’s at

After he took from you everything he could steal

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

Princess on the steeple and all the pretty people

They’re drinkin’, thinkin’ that they got it made

Exchanging all kinds of precious gifts and things

But you’d better lift your diamond ring, you’d better pawn it babe

You used to be so amused

At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used

Go to him now, he calls you, you can’t refuse

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose

You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal

How does it feel

How does it feel

To be on your own

With no direction home

Like a complete unknown

Like a rolling stone?

Copyright © 1965 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1993 by Special Rider Music
http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/rolling-stone/

Favorite Rock & Roll song of all-time?

The Night They Drove Old Dixe Down.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

The Band

Produced by John Simon

Virgil Caine is the name and I served on the Danville train
‘Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again
In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell
It’s a time I remember, oh so well

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”

Back with my wife in Tennessee
When one day she called to me
“Virgil, quick, come see, there go the Robert E.Lee”
Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood
And I don’t care if the money’s no good
Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”

Like my father before me, I will work the land
And like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand
He was just eighteen, proud and brave
But a Yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the mud below my feet
You can’t raise a Caine back up when he’s in defeat

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “La, la, la”

Best Rock & Roll band of all-time?

George Harrison of the Beatles said The Band was the best band in the universe. Who am I to argue with him?

What is your all-time favorite album?

The Romantic Warrior.

What is the best piece of advice ever given to you?

“Life is like the Bataan death march. Your best buddy might fall down but you cannot help him up because he will only drag you down so you gotta keep high-steppin’.”

Is there something you would love to learn?

The meaning of life.

What is your greatest fear?

Fear itself.

And your greatest regret?

Regrets? I’ve had a few…

Who is your favorite Chess player of all-time?

Robert J. Fischer.

Is there a Chess book that had a profound influence on you?

Chess Openings in Theory and Practice by I. A. Horowitz

I would also like to mention a Grandmaster for whom I much admiration, Vladimir Malaniuk,

because he devoted his entire life to playing the Leningrad Dutch, and with much success. For anyone desiring to play the Leningrad Dutch his book is de rigueur.

What does it mean to be a Chess player?

Nothing.

Is a knowledge of Chess useful in everyday life?

No.

Do you have any superstitions concerning Chess?

No.

If you could change one thing in the chess world what would it be?

End the offering of a draw, award more points for a win, especially with the black pieces, and rid Chess of all the people in positions of power who do not, and have not, played Chess, most of whom do not even like the game, and only want to “run things.”

That is three things.

You want me to go on?

No.

That’s what I thought…

What is the best thing ever said about Chess?

Before the advent of the computer programs:

I believe in magic … There is magic in the creative faculty such as great poets and philosophers conspicuously possess, and equally in the creative chessmaster. – Emanuel Lasker

After the advent of the computer programs:

“The ability to combine skillfully, the capacity to find in each given position the most expedient move, is the quickest way to execute a well-conceived plan, and is in fact the only principle in the game of chess”- Mikhail Chigorin

What is the most exciting Chess game you have ever watched?

Keep in mind we were unable to “watch” most games ‘back in the day’. Even the World Championship games were replayed from the next days newspaper, which was usually the New York Times. Therefore, I am limited in the number of games I have “seen” in real time. That said, I was working the demo board the day the following game was played at the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in San Antonio 1972 and managed to watch every move. It was “exciting” to me, and some of the home town crowd, to watch Ken Smith,

who had been manhandled by the GM’s (Ken did manage to draw earlier with Mario Campos Lopez, and beat former World Junior champion Julio Kaplan in the previous round eleven) draw with GM Paul Keres.

After the game someone mentioned something about Ken drawing because Keres was old and obviously tired. I responded, “What? You think Ken was fresh as a daisy? He has probably sat at the board longer and played more moves than any other player during the event because he was the lowest rated player, and the other players were going to test him in the endgame in each and every game.” Ken, known as the “Capablanca of the cattle country,” heard this, and was nice, and gracious to me from that day forward. Some years later I entered an elevator after losing a game in a big tournament, such as the World Open, or maybe the Western States Chess festival in Reno. There were three people on the elevator, one of whom was Ken. “How did you do, Mike?” He asked. I hung my head and answered, “I lost, Ken.”
“What opening did you play?” He asked. “It was a Leningrad Dutch,” I said. “Ah, at least you played a fighting opening!” For some reason that made me feel better and as he exited I smiled in response to his smile. It is difficult to make a player who has just lost a Chess game smile.

Paul Keres vs Kenneth Ray Smith
San Antonio (1972), San Antonio, TX USA, rd 12, Dec-04
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Queen’s Knight Variation (A16)

1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c6 3. e4 d5 4. e5 d4 5. exf6 dxc3 6. fxg7 cxd2+ 7. Bxd2 Bxg7
8. Qc2 Nd7 9. Ne2 Nf6 10. Ng3 Qc7 11. Bd3 Bd7 12. Bc3 O-O-O 13. O-O-O Ne8 14.
Rhe1 e6 15. Bxg7 Nxg7 16. Qc3 Nf5 17. Qf6 Rhf8 18. Re5 Kb8 19. Bxf5 exf5 20.
Qd6 Be6 21. Qxc7+ Kxc7 22. b3 Rxd1+ 23. Kxd1 Rg8 24. f4 Rg4 25. Ke2 Rxf4 26. h3
Kd6 27. Ra5 a6 28. Ke3 Rh4 29. Nxf5+ Bxf5 30. Rxf5 Ke6 31. Rg5 Rh6 32. Ke4 Rh4+
33. Ke3 Rh6 34. Kd4 Rg6 35. Re5+ Kd6 36. c5+ Kd7 37. g4 Rh6 38. Rf5 Ke6 39. Rf3
Rf6 40. Re3+ Kd7 41. Re5 Rh6 42. Re3 Rf6 43. Ke4 Ke6 44. Rd3 Rf2 45. Rd6+ Ke7
46. Rd4 Rxa2 47. Rb4 Ke6 48. Rxb7 Re2+ 49. Kd4 Rd2+ 50. Kc4 Rc2+ 51. Kb4 a5+
52. Kxa5 Rxc5+ 53. Kb4 Rc1 54. Rc7 Kf6 55. Ka3 Kg6 56. Kb2 Rc5 57. h4 h6 58.
Rd7 f6 59. Rd6 Kg7 60. h5 f5 61. Rg6+ Kh7 62. gxf5 Rxf5 63. Rxc6 Rxh5 64. b4
Rg5 65. Rc5 Rg8 66. b5 Kg6 67. Kc3 h5 68. b6 h4 69. Kd4 Rd8+ 70. Kc4 h3 71. Kb5
h2 72. Rc1 Kg5 73. b7 Rb8 1/2-1/2

What was your best result ever?

Winning the 1976 Atlanta Chess Championship 5-0.

What was the best game you played?

A win with the black pieces vs Mark Pinto, or possibly a win vs the sour Kraut, LM Klaus Pohl which was published in Chess Life magazine.

FM Mark Pinto

vs Bacon

1986 US Open rd 4

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ gxf6
6. c3 Qd5 7. Ne2 Bg4 8. f3 Bf5 9. Ng3 Bg6 10. Qb3 Qxb3 11. axb3 e6 12. Be3 Nd7
13. b4 f5 14. Bc4 Nb6 15. Bb3 Nd5 16. Bd2 Be7 17. O-O h5 18. Ne2 h4 19. Nf4
Nxf4 20. Bxf4 h3 21. g3 a6 22. Be5 Rg8 23. Kf2 Bg5 24. f4 Be7 25. Bc7 Kd7 26.
Bb6 Bh5 27. Rfe1 Bd6 28. Rg1 Rg6 29. Bc4 Rag8 30. Rae1 Bxf4 31. gxf4 Rg2+ 32.
Rxg2 Rxg2+ 33. Ke3 Rxh2 34. Bd3 Ke7 35. Bc5+ Kf6 36. Bf8 Rg2 37. Bf1 Rg3+ 38.
Kf2 Rf3+ 39. Kg1 Bg4 40. Bh6 Kg6 41. Bg5 f6 42. Rxe6 h2+ 43. Kxh2 Rxf1 44.
Rxf6+ Kg7 45. Rd6 Rf2+ 46. Kg1 Rxb2 47. Rd7+ Kg6 48. Rxb7 Bf3 49. Rb6 Kh5 50.
Rxa6 Kg4 51. Ra1 Kg3 0-1

The game was annotated by GM Jon Speelman:

https://en.chessbase.com/post/jon-speelman-s-agony-column-23

What is your most memorable game?

You and your Chess program will have a field day with this game. After making my twenty third move, which threatened checkmate, in addition to attacking the Queen, and knowing there were four ways my knight could be taken, all of which lose, I sat back and folded my arms with a smug look on my face, expecting my opponent to resign. It is the most beautiful move I have ever played on a Chess board. Instead, he did what a player is supposed to do, he put his head in his hands and “hunkered down.” Although I do not recall, it is highly probable I got up and strutted around the room, waiting for the resignation that did not come… I should have simply taken the knight. I did, though, learn a valuable lesson which I have attempted to teach everyone to whom I have given lessons. “Examine ALL CHECKS.”
The game was played in Midland, Texas, in the Halliburton Open, 1974. If I recall correctly, it was played in the second round, after I had lost to a NM named Gary Simms. I also recall that after I came back to win my last three games Mr. Simms was nice enough to say, “You showed us something by not withdrawing.”

T. Thompson vs Michael Bacon

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Qb6 8. Qd2
Qxb2 9. Nb3 Qa3 10. Bxf6 gxf6 11. Be2 h5 12. f5 Nc6 13. O-O Bd7 14. fxe6 fxe6
15. Rxf6 Qb4 16. a3 Qb6+ 17. Kh1 Ne5 18. Rb1 Qc7 19. Nd4 Rc8 20. Qg5 Be7 21.
Bxh5+ Kd8 22. Rb3 Qc4 23. Rxb7

Nf3?!!?

24. Nxe6+ Bxe6 25. Rf8+ 1-0

A close second would be a game in which I drew with IM Andre Filipowicz

with the black pieces in the first round of a weekend swiss tournament in Atlanta during the FIDE congress. IM Boris Kogan


Boris Kogan with raised hand at Lone Pine

and NM Guillermo Ruiz became excited with the possibility of my nicking an IM for a half-point to begin the tournament. I graciously accepted the draw offer in an even position, which brought relief to the other titled players because they knew I usually disdained a draw, preferring to play on in what was usually a futile effort.

Going back to my first blog, the BaconLOG (http://baconlog.blogspot.com/) I have been blogging, off and on, for over a decade. You cannot please all of the people but evidently, judging from some of the comments received, you can please some of the people. An example of the former would be this email received from the Ol’ Swindler:

raj kipling
To:Michael Bacon
Jul 19 at 9:27 AM
Michael,
PLEASE remove my email address from any of you “blog” notifications…you are heading for a fall and I do not want to be dragged down with you…in fact do not email me under any circumstances…do not even respond to this email…forget that you even knew me…good luck…neal harris

Judging by the date it would appear Mr. Harris

did not care for my post of the previous day (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/fuck-you-mr-president/). When we were together politics was never discussed. Why would we discuss politics when there was Chess to discuss? I did, though, travel with the Ol’ Swindler to Waynesville to attend the Smoky Mountain Chess Club once and Neal did stop at a survivalist store where it could be gleaned from the very right of center conversation all of the votes there would go to Republican candidates…

Fortunately most of the email responses received have been positive. For example:

Kevin Spraggett

To:Michael Bacon
Nov 3 at 10:02 PM
Great Article, Michael. You have become a wonderful writer!

Kevin

Karen
To:Michael Bacon
Dec 10 at 6:05 AM
Great article! You are a very good writer ( I was an English major and went to grad school so I notice these things!).

Best,
Karen

That would be Karen Boyd, wife of GM Ben Finegold.

“A man who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.” I cannot recall when or where I heard, or read, that, but know it is true. I have had enough blogging. We, dead reader, have reached…

End of the Line
The Traveling Wilburys
Featuring Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne & 2 more
Produced by Nelson Wilbury (George Harrison) & Otis Wilbury (Jeff Lynne)
Album Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1

[Chorus 1: George Harrison]
Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please
Well it’s all right, doing the best you can
Well it’s all right, as long as you lend a hand

[Verse 1: Tom Petty]
You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring
Waiting for someone to tell you everything
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring
Maybe a diamond ring

[Chorus 2: Jeff Lynne]
Well it’s all right, even if they say you’re wrong
Well it’s all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it’s all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay
Well it’s all right, everyday is Judgement Day

[Verse 2: Tom Petty]
Maybe somewhere down the road away
You’ll think of me, and wonder where I am these days
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays
Purple haze

[Chorus 3: Roy Orbison]
Well it’s all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it’s all right, if you got someone to love
Well it’s all right, everything’ll work out fine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

[Verse 3: Tom Petty]
Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive
It don’t matter if you’re by my side
I’m satisfied

[Chorus 4: George Harrison]
Well it’s all right, even if you’re old and grey
Well it’s all right, you still got something to say

[Jeff Lynne]
Well it’s all right, remember to live and let live
Well it’s all right, the best you can do is forgive
Well it’s all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it’s all right, if you live the life you please

[George Harrison]
Well it’s all right, even if the sun don’t shine
Well it’s all right, we’re going to the end of the line

https://genius.com/The-traveling-wilburys-end-of-the-line-lyrics

After a sports memorabilia show about three decades ago the self-proclaimed Legendary Georgia Ironman and I were at Spondivits, a bar with a seafood motif, when one of the songs, from the album, Tweeter and the Monkey Man began blasting from the excellent sound system. The late afternoon, early evening crowd broke into song, and we were with them. “Wow Mike,” the smiling Tim Brookshear, schooner filled with beer, said, “I’ve never been in a bar when everyone in the place sang along with the song!”

For that reason alone I nominate Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1 for best Rock & Roll album of all-time.

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The Clanking Digital Monster

Some time ago I received an email from an older, obviously disgruntled, Chess player who asked why I did not write about what the influx of so many children has done to tournament Chess. “They are noisy and disruptive,” he wrote, “and Chess is no longer taken seriously because of it.” He enclosed a picture, which prompted his words, adding, “How would you like to sit across the board from THIS for HOURS!”

I have given his email serious thought for quite sometime. I recalled seeing the picture somewhere, but for the life of me cannot recall where…

I thought about something one legendary Georgia Chess player said years ago. He was gearing up for some scholastic event I thought was the Georgia High School championships, knowing he was into the HS thing ‘back in the day’. “What’cha talking about Mike,” he said, “by the time they get to High School they’ve stopped playing Chess. Junior High is where it’s happening!” This caused me to reflect upon the time Neal Harris asked me to coach a group of middle school children in 2006. Neal had taught them the basics and they seemed to be quite serious. Chess was only one of the activities in which they participated, but they took Chess seriously. They did not wear funny hats, but like all children they liked to have some fun. Several days later I sent the man a nice email telling him about growing up at a Boys Club, and later earning a collage scholarship to work at that same Boys Club. I mentioned that one of the attractions of the Boys Club was that it was a place to go have some FUN, and that I never forgot that fact while working around the younger boys. I enclosed this picture, writing, “I hope I never grow too old to have a little fun.”

Jacob Crofts (left) and Lane Erickson (right) dressed in their chess best for Halloween and round two of the TNM, pose for the camera, while Frank Bannan takes a break from his blitz game to check them out. This photo was taken in the Chess Room Annex, where a giant photograph of Mikhail Tal (partly seen in the photograph) is hung. (Photo: Laura Sheppard)
http://www.chessclub.org/news.php?n=805

I’ve yet to hear from him again…

After the previous LOTS I received an email from Gene Nix, who had read the post. It began, “Thanks for the kind comments on my contest with Randall.” It got better from there…”This was only my second LOTS, and obviously I’ve been missing out. Many children wearing animal hats (a few adults too), lucky plushy toys at the chess boards, and a festival atmosphere. As a school teacher I often scowl at kids always on their electronic distraction devices, so it’s good to see young people involved in an engrossing mental and tactile game. Of course one must accept gracefully being outplayed by said youngsters.”

“…a festival atmosphere.” I like that phrase immensely! Most people, even an old curmudgeon, will gravitate towards “a festival atmosphere.” If Wilder Wadford is fostering a “festive atmosphere at the Land of the Sky the number of players do not matter, for the Wild Man has done his job! It made me lament the fact that I could not make it again this year, and I vowed that if still alive next year I will make it to the Land of the Sky, as we say in the South, “Creek willing and the Lord don’t rise.” Who knows, maybe I will find the right hat to wear next year…and maybe you reading this will find the right hat to wear next year and we will have started a MOVEMENT! I know Wilder will read this, so I propose that next year the name be changed to the Land of the Sky Chess Festival!

I have also given much thought to “community involvement.” The “community” is not limited to the businesses in and around Asheville, though it would be nice if some younger Ashevilleians were to spend the next year talking with business types about some kind of sponsorship for the LOTS Chess Festival. “Community” also means US, as in ME and YOU. I will, therefore, put my money where my mouth is and make a pledge to the 2019 LOTS Chess Festival. I will donate a book, a brand spanking new book, to be given away by drawing before each and every round next year. All one has to do to be entered in the drawing is to be paired for the upcoming round. Withdraw and you are not entered!

Gene also wrote, “Life Master Klaus Pohl, the Old Gray Wolf, fared poorly in the top section, but took second place behind only Alexander Ivanov in Saturday morning’s blitz tourney.”

I would like to humbly suggest, Wilder, that you limit the LOTS Chess Festival to only FOUR rounds, in order to have a speed tournament Friday evening before the event so all can participate. Four rounds will make it much more difficult for top players to make a quick buddy-buddy, draw, as every half point will COUNT!

If you are reading this YOU are a member of the “community,” and maybe you have an idea you would like to share. If so, leave a comment. Maybe YOU will pledge to get just one more player to come next year. If so, you have done your part. If EVERYONE did this then Wonderful Wilder Wadford could actually RAISE the prize fund! You can start by sending an email with a link to this post to just one player you know, asking them to pass it forward.
What’cha waiting for?

Now, some CHESS! Gene was nice enough to send me a couple of games he annotated, with the help of what he calls the “clanking digital monster.” Check it out: “The clanking digital monster says I missed a win late in the endgame when we both had under a minute remaining, but the details included allowing an unthinkable, but apparently not uncomputable, pawn-romp that involved the other fellow promoting first. Unthinkable.”

The complete Nix vs Ferguson game can be found in the previous post.

We will begin with the position after 52 Be4:

Black plays 52…Ne6?

Gene then played 53 Bf5? missing the move of the “clanking digital monster” (He does not attach a name to the CDM) 53 Kc3!

There follows:

53…Nd4

54 b4+

54…Kd6

55 c5+

55…Ke7

56 Kc4

56…f5

57 Bd3

57…f4

58 b5

58…f3

59 b6

59…Nc6

60 Be4

60…f2

61 Bg2 (Gene writes: “One can always spot the computer analysis. What live human could allow this pawn-scamper with under a minute on the clocks?”)

61…e4

62 Kd5

62…e3

63 Kxc6

63…e2

64 b7

64…f1=Q

65 Bxf1

65…exf1=Q

66 b8=Q

66…Qg2+

67 Kc7

67…Qh2+

68 Kb7

68…Qb2+

69 Ka8

69…Qc2

70 Qb7+

70…Kf6

71 c6 +-

Hard to believe Gene missed this line…

Land of the Sky XXXI

The turnout at the 2018 Land of the Sky Chess tournament in the beautiful city of Asheville, in the Great State of North Carolina,

Sunset adds a warm glow to the mountains surrounding Asheville, North Carolina

hosted by Wilder Wadford for over a quarter of a century, was down considerably from the previous year, although it was comparable to the number of players in 2016. This century the number of players has consistently been between 160 and 260, so the official total of 173 is on the low end of the spectrum. Back in the day, meaning last century, LOTS drew as many as 300 participants. It is
difficult to get a handle on the turnout trend line because of the occasional inclement weather in the mountains (one year we were forced to stay Sunday night because the down hill driveway was covered with ice, making it impossible to traverse), but I do see that the 3-year running average shows it down considerably. For example, the three years after We The People were Bushwhacked, 2009-2011, show an average of 185; while the past three years show an average of 181. In comparison, 2012-2014 shows an average of 231. Inquires to my mountain friends, and others, as to possible reasons for the decline run the gamut. The prize fund has stayed the same for about a quarter of a century. There is no corporate sponsorship like in Europe, or even here in the states. I played in the Govornor’s Cup in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in 2002 and the community had gotten behind the tournament in a big way. Could it be that communities have turned off Chess? Another possible reason expressed is that the Land of the Sky tournament shows a large disparity between the young and the old, with not so many players between those ages. Another wrote, “Why should I spend all that money to go play chess when I can make hundreds of dollars staying at home teaching?” Although he has a point, the fact is that if everyone did the same there would be no more Chess tournaments, and, hence, no more students.
Another stated bluntly, “I think the major reason is Chess in the US is declining in general.” One player who did not attend offered this frightening reason, “Bacon, people are AFRAID OF NUCLEAR WAR, and are holding their cards close to the chest, afraid to go anywhere or spend any money.” One wrote, “You’re actually writing about the LOTS? Maybe there should have been more publicity before the tournament. You’re closing the barn door after the horse has escaped.” Lastly, “Chess is doomed!”

On to the games! The first game was played in the Under 2200 section. Gene Nix, the main man in Greenville, South Carolina, President, Greenville Chess Club, and Treasurer of the SC Chess Association, faced off with Randal Ferguson, who has fallen one point below NM. Randal has been out of action for almost a year and the rust showed. Some years ago he was a solid NM, and I say that from personal experience as I lost to him at least once and always thought of him as a strong player. The game was played Saturday morning at the “hurry up and get it over” speed.

Gene Nix (1907) vs Randal Ferguson 2199

Round one

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 Nf6 4. Nc3 cxd4 5. Nxd4 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. g4 b5 11. a3 Bb7 12. Bg2 Rc8 13. Rd2 Nb6 14. Re1 Nc4 15. Rd3 O-O 16. Bh4 Rfd8 ( Nxe4!) 17. Bg3 e5 (The normal break would appear to be 17…d5) 18. Nf5 exf4 19. Bxf4 Ne5 20. Bxe5 dxe5 21. Nxe7 Qxe7 22. Rxd8 Rxd8 23. g5 Nd7 24. h4 Nb6 25. Rd1 Rc8 26. Bh3 Rd8 27. Qf2 Rxd1 28. Nxd1 Qd6 29. Nc3 g6 30. h5 (Maybe simply Bg2) gxh5 31. Bf5 Kg7 32. Qh2 Nc4 33. Qxh5 h6 34. Nd5 Bxd5 35. exd5 hxg5 36. Qxg5 Kf8 37. Be4 Qb6 38. Bd3 Qe3 39. Qxe3 Nxe3 40. d6 Ke8 41. a4 Kd7 42. axb5 axb5 43. Bxb5 Kxd6 44. Kd2 Nd5 45. c4 Nc7 46. Ba4 Kc5 47. Kc3 Na6 48. Bb5 Nb4 49. Bd7 f6 50. Bf5 Nc6 51. Kd3 Nd4 52. Be4 Ne6 53. Bf5 Nd4 54. Be4 Kb4 55. Bg6 Kb3 56. Bf7 Kxb2 57. c5 Kc1 58. Bd5 Kd1 59. c6 Nxc6 60. Bxc6 1/2-1/2

The next game features the Yerminator, GM Alex Yermolinsky,

known for his Yermo’s Travelogue pieces on Chessbase (https://en.chessbase.com/post/yermo-s-travelogue-2nd-sevan-muradian-memorial), versus the Ol’ Swindler, NM Neal Harris.

I write this with a smile on my face, which is what Neal had on his face when informed that he had been given the moniker “Ol’ Swindler” by a disgruntled legendary Georgia Chess player who had lost to Neal in the same line, and in the same way, as he had previously, going down in flames quickly both times. The legendary one exclaimed, “That Neal ain’t nothing but an Ol’ Swindler!!!” Let that be a lesson to you; go over your losses so you do not lose that particular way again.

Alex Yerminator (2587) vs Ol’ Swindler (2209)

Round two

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 Nc6 6. Nc3 Bb4 7. a3 Bxc3 8. bxc3 O-O 9. a4 (This is a Theoretical Novelity) e5 (If a student had played this game Neal would, most probably, explained that white intends on playing Ba3 next, attacking the Rook on f8, so it would be advisible to move the Rook to e8 now in order to take the sting outta the Bishop move. I am far stronger when reviewing a game than when sitting at the board with the clock ticking. Hence, Armchair Warrior! Why would Neal play e5? My guess is that, being an aggressive type Ol’ Swindler, he wanted to come at the GM!) 10. Ba3 Re8 11. Ng5 Be6 12. Nxe6 fxe6 13. O-O e4 14. f3 Nd5 15. Qd2 Nb6 16. Ba2 exf3 17. Rxf3 Ne5 18. Rh3 Nec4 19. Bxc4 Nxc4 20. Qd3 Nxa3 21. Qxh7 Kf7 22. Rf1 Ke7 23. Qxg7 Kd6 24. Qe5 Kd7 25. Rh7 Kc8 26. Rff7 Rh8 1-0

The game of the tournament occurred in the third round. Pairings are everything in a short Swiss tournament and the Yerminator drew the short straw, being given the black pieces against the much younger, and stronger, GM Elshan Moradiabadi.

GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613) vs Alex Yermolinsky (2587)

Round 3

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 Bb4 4. Nbd2 d6 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 e5 7. d5 Bxd2 8. Nxd2 Ne7 9. e4 O-O 10. O-O Ng6 11. Qc2 Ne8 12. c5 dxc5 13. Qxc5 Nd6 14. b3 b6 15. Qc2 f5 16. Bb2 f4 17. Nf3 Qe7 18. Rac1 Rf7 19. h4 Bg4 20. Ng5 f3 21. Nxf7 fxg2 22. Kxg2 Nxf7 23. Qxc7 Nxh4 24. gxh4 Qxh4 25. Qc3 Be2 26. Rfe1 Qxe4 27. f3 Qg6 28. Kf2 Bb5 29. Rg1 Qf5 30. Qe3 Rd8 31. Qe4 Qf6 32. Rc7 Ng5 33. Qg4 h6 34. Bc1 e4 35. Bxg5 hxg5 36. Qe6 Qxe6 37. dxe6 Rd2 38. Kg3 exf3 39. Kxf3 Rd3 40. Ke4 1-0

The next morning in the fourth round this gem was produced:

GM Alexander Ivanov (2568) vs GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613)

Round four

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Nf6 4. O-O Nxe4 5. Re1 Nd6 6. Nxe5 Nxe5 7. Rxe5 Be7 8. Bf1 O-O 1/2-1/2

With only 18 players in the open section this draw made some kind of sense to the GMs. Ivanov is a Senior while Moradiabadi is at the peak of his career. Why bother playing a real game when they can shake hands and rest before the last round? Why indeed…

Alex Yermolinsky (2587) vs GM Alexander Ivanov (2568)

Round five

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 b5 3. e3 a6 4. b3 Bb7 1/2-1/2

There oughta be a rule against crap like this. Oh wait, there is! It’s just that the organizer/TD with cojones enough to forfeit those who cheat Cassia has yet to be born! Alexander Ivanov

made ONLY TWELVE FORKIN’ MOVES on Sunday to steal his prize money. Pitiful…And Donnie gray had the audacity to ask, What’s the matter with draws? at at Chessbase. HERE IS YOUR ANSWER, DONNIE!!! (https://en.chessbase.com/post/what-s-the-matter-with-draws)

This left it up to Moradiabadi to play a real game of Chess in the last round while having the advantage of the white pieces facing a young man rated about 300 points, at least one class, maybe two, below him. Just another day at the office for the Grandmaster…

GM Elshan Moradiabadi (2613) vs Sanjay Ghatti (2341)

1. Nf3 d5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2 e6 4. O-O Be7 5. c4 O-O 6. d4 dxc4 7. Qc2 a6 8. a4 Bd7 9. Rd1 Bc6 10. Qxc4 Bd5 11. Qd3 Be4 12. Qe3 c6 13. Nc3 Bc2 14. Re1 Bg6 15. Ne5 Nd5 16. Qd2 Nd7 17. Nxg6 hxg6 18. e4 Nxc3 19. bxc3 Qa5 20. Qb2 Rab8 21. Bd2 e5 22. f4 exd4 23. cxd4 Qb6 24. Qxb6 Nxb6 25. Rec1 Bf6 26. e5 Be7 27. a5 Nc8 28. Be3 Bd8 29. d5 cxd5 30. Bxd5 Re8 31. Bxb7 Rxb7 32. Rxc8 Rc7 33. Ra8 f6 34. Rd1 1-0

This left Moradiabadi with 4 1/2 points, a full point ahead of the two older GMs.Ivanov and Yermo left the beautiful western North Carolina mountains with $350 each. Elsan nabbed $880. Sanjay Ghatti and Mark Biernacki (2187), who beat NM Peter Bereolos (2244) in the last round, tied for ‘best of the rest’with 3 points, along with Neo Zhu (2142), who forced Benjamin Yan (1986) to take the dreaded blue pill in the final round. Because of the way things are done in Chess Biernacki and Zhu each won $220, while the higher rated Sanjay Ghatti left with only $180. To make things even worse for Sanjay his performance rating was 2376, better than both Biernacki (2323) and Zhu (2117). In addition, the latter two players had white in three games, while Mr. Ghatti had the black pieces three times; white only two. Who said Chess tournaments were fair? I would attempt to explain this to my international readers, but why bother? The inequities have been there for decades, or longer, and the will to improve things in the Chess world is simply not there…

In the hard fought Asheville section, for players under 2200, David High (2055) drew with Michael Kliber (1915) in the final round to tie for first, along with Alexander Rutten (1998), who became an Expert. Each scored 4 points. All scored $373. Four players each scored 3 1/2 points in the section. Three of the four garnered $147, while one fortunate son left with $280.

Michael Kliber (1915) vs David High (2055)

Last round

1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 g6 3. Bg5 Bg7 4. Nbd2 O-O 5. c3 d6 6. e4 Qe8 7. Bd3 e5 8. O-O h6 9. Bh4 Nh5 10. dxe5 dxe5 11. Ne1 Nf4 12. Nc4 Nd7 13. Ne3 Nc5 14. f3 Be6 15. Qc2 g5 16. Bf2 Qc6 17. Bc4 Bxc4 18. Nxc4 Ncd3 19. Nxd3 Qxc4 20. Nxf4 exf4 21. Rfd1 Rfd8 22. h4 Rxd1 23. Qxd1 Qb5 24. Qb3 a6 25. Rd1 Be5 26. hxg5 hxg5 27. Qxb5 axb5 28. Rd5 f6 29. Rxb5 b6 30. a3 Rd8 31. Be1 Rd1 32. Kf2 Kf7 33. Ke2 Rb1 34. Bd2 Ke6 35. Be1 1/2-1/2

Alexander Rutten (1973) vs Peter Michelman (2065)

Round 4

1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. Nge2 Nf6 6. O-O O-O 7. d3 d6 8. h3 Bd7 9. Be3 Ne8 10. d4 cxd4 11. Nxd4 Ne5 12. Nce2 Nc4 13. Bc1 Qb6 14. b3 Ne5 15. Be3 Qc7 16. c4 a6 17. Rc1 Qa5 18. Rc2 Nc6 19. Nxc6 Bxc6 20. Nd4 Bd7 21. Kh2 Rc8 22. f4 Nc7 23. Ne2 Ne6 24. e5 Bc6 25. exd6 exd6 26. f5 Bxg2 27. Kxg2 gxf5 28. Nf4 Nxf4 29. Bxf4 d5 (Rfd8!?) 30. Bd6 Rfd8 31. c5 Qb5 32. Rxf5 d4 33. Rcf2 Qc6 34. Kh2 b6 (? f6 !?) 35. Rxf7 bxc5 1-0

In the Buncombe section Benjamin Webb (1672) drew with Brian Lee Moore (1677) in the last round to finish clear first with 4 1/2 points. Mr. Webb won the second highest amount of money of all the winners of all the sections, taking home $560.

Benjamin Webb (1672) vs Brian Lee Moore (1677)

1. e4 Nf6 2. e5 Nd5 3. d4 d6 4. c4 Nb6 5. exd6 exd6 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. Nc3 Bg4 8. Be3 g6 9. Qe2 Qe7 10. O-O-O Bg7 11. c5 dxc5 12. dxc5 Bxc3 13. cxb6 Bg7 14. bxc7 Qxc7 15. Bb6 Qe7 16. Qxe7 Nxe7 17. Bb5 Nc6 18. Rhe1 Be6 19. Bc5 Rd8 20. Bxc6 bxc6 21. Nd4 Bxd4 22. Bxd4 O-O 23. Bxa7 Bxa2 24. Bc5 Rxd1 25. Rxd1 Re8 26. Bd4 Bb3 27. Rd3 Re1 28. Kd2 Rd1 29. Kc3 Rxd3 30. Kxd3 Kf8 31. Bf6 Ke8 32. Ke3 Kd7 33. Kf4 Ke6 34. Bc3 h5 35. Kg5 1/2-1/2

Brian joined Vladimir Besirovic, Asha Kumar, Eli Davis Moore, Lukas Komel, and last, but not least, my friend, fellow Senior, Bruce Goodwin, the Chess Cat, the man behind the Smoky Mountain Chess Club, with 4 points, to tie for second place in the section with the most players. Mr. Kormel won $280; Mr. Eli Davis Moore and Mr. Kumar each left with $220; while Brian Lee Moore and Vladimir Besirovic were lucky to leave with $93.

Who Are You?

Within the past several days I have been asked, via comment, “Who are you?” and, via email, “Why do you write a Chess blog?” Some time earlier I received an email from my friend Michael Mulford: “Just got a message from a very surprised David Rupel. One thing he pointed out was that your blog never identify who the author is!”

I replied, “OK Mulfish…I just went to my blog and…I’ll be damned, I could not find a way to get the the page showing who I am, which is really STRANGE, because some years ago a woman I knew in another life, (name withheld), whom my friends called a “New Ager” & (withheld) suddenly became a follower of the blog, so we emailed awhile so I could learn how she tracked me down, and she did it somehow, so I know there must be a way to find out who the AW is, it’s just that I do not know how to do it! Maybe in the real near future I will do a “Who I am” kinda thing as a post…

Since then I have learned that I must obtain a “Gravatar” if I want people to know who I am. I do not want a “Gravatar.” Hell, I do not even know what a “Gravatar is, and at my age, feel I can live, and die, without knowing, or having, a “Gravatar.”

This is rather ironic because over the weekend I found a new, and interesting, Chess blog, Chessentials, Vjekoslav Nemec’s Chess Blog (http://www.chessentials.com/). The first question posed is: “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT CHESS?” The answer follows: “My name is Vjekoslav Nemec and i am a candidate master from Croatia. My current rating is 2175 Fide Elo.” In addition he writes, “Which implies I don’t know that much at all.” This leads to the second question: WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO WRITE ABOUT SOMETHING YOU DON’T KNOW “THAT MUCH AT ALL”? His answer is wonderful: “Because I love it. I really love chess and everything involved around chess, whether it is playing, reading or following top level games. And someone somewhere has once remarked that you should always pursue things you love.”

I am not as strong as Vjekoslav, but I have loved the Royal game for almost half a century. My name is W. Michael Bacon. I add the W. so as to not be confused with Michael H. Bacon, who played in Atlanta, Georgia, some years ago and people kept getting us confused. I am currently a floored Expert, rated 1800. Or as my friend OLM Neal Harris once said about a decade ago, “Hmmm, you’re a nineteen hunderd.” Yes, I know the correct spelling is “hundred,” but that is not the way we talk in the South. What, you think we Southern people talk funny? Former POTUS John F. Kennedy pronounced “Cuba” as “Cuber.” I do not even know how to write how yankees pronounce clam “chowder.” Maybe something like “CHOWdah.” However one pronounces it I’m here to tell you that the best “CHOWdah” I ever put into my mouth was at a roadside seafood stand in Sturbridge, Massachusetts while playing in a CCA Chess tournament. Those northern folk may talk funny, but they sure know their seafood!

I took being called a 1900 as a compliment. I drew with the Ol’ Swindler once on the White side of the Closed Sicilian. He sent me another game we had contested later in which I lost pitifully, also as White in a CS, and I thought, “Who was THAT player?” It was like two completely different players.

Actually, it made me feel good to be considered a 1900 player. When I first began playing seriously the highest rated player who came to the Atlanta Chess Club on Friday nights at the downtown YMCA was a fellow named Tom Pate, and he was rated 19 something. There were a few higher rated players in the area, like Experts D. Brad Wade, and William A. Scott, but they rarely played, and then only in tournaments like the Georgia State Championship. Coming to the game as an adult I never thought I would make it to 1900.

A decent introduction to who I am, including a picture taken earlier this decade, can be found here: https://en.chessbase.com/post/jon-speelman-s-agony-column-23

The two games encapsulate my Chess career, which was, like my life, erratic. I scored against some players much stronger than an I, such as Polish IM Andre Flipowicz (first round with Black, so it was no “buddy-buddy” draw), but lost to players many hundreds of points lower.

Leonard Cohen said, “There’s a crack in everything. That is how the light gets in.”

I am the crack in the Chess board. I write about Chess from a different perspective, because I look at things a little differently than the herd. I am most definitely not one to tow the “party line.” One can find “Don’t worry, be happy,” and “Everything is beautiful in it’s on way,” blogs all over the internet. I question EVERYTHING! If I had lived in Communist Russia “they” would have, no doubt, sent me to Siberia. If I had been born to an African American woman I would have turned out to be “H. Rap Bacon.”

“The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing.” – Albert Einstein

Who am I?

Ga Open Final Round Board One: The Pipe Cracks

When the game between Meruga and Studen finished, all eyes, or at least my two, turned to the game on top board. IM Ron Burnett, from the Great State of Tennessee, needs no introduction. He has played in, and won, so many tournaments in Georgia he should be made an honorary citizen. Of all the memories I have of Ron, several stand out. After losing the only tournament game we contested, Ron said, “I did not know you were so strong.” Hearing that assuaged my hurt pride to some extent. I happened to walk by a game in which Ron had just arrived at a position of Bishop & Knight versus King. I stood there while the International Master took about thirty seconds to consider the position before beginning to play his moves, which came with rapid fire once he began. Then there was the time at one of the US Masters in Hendersonville, North Carolina, when Ron was locked in battle with FM Miles Ardaman. Time was short and the players were playing as if it were a speed game. While they played, LM Klaus Pohl, for some unknown reason, was histrionically gesticulating while also making much noise. The two players sat transfixed, oblivious to the commotion. I asked NM Neal Harris, “Has Klaus lost his mind?” Neal said only, “Yes.” I never learned what caused the Dour Kraut to come unglued, but I did ask both players if they had been bothered by the outburst. “What outburst?” they said. The game ended in a draw.

Alan Piper needs no introduction to local readers as he has been one of the most prolific players locally for many years. Mr. Piper best typifies what used to be the motto of the USCF, “Chess is a lifetime sport,” until it became, “Chess is a children’s game.” The Pipe is a former Champion of the Great State of Missouri. I went to the website of the Missouri Chess Association (http://www.mochess.org/Champs.php) to determine when, and how many times Alan won the Championship, but the list of Champions only goes back to 1999. It is surprising it went back to the last year of the last century. I am not surprised it goes no further because to the new people who have taken over chess the players of an earlier era are dead, even if they still play the game. Suffice it to say Alan Piper has been a factor in every chess tournament in which he has participated since he set foot in Georgia. He is a taciturn, unprepossessing gentleman who loves the Royal game. As one of the few Seniors who still play, he is one of the players the herd of children must “kill” in order to advance in the ranks. Most do not succeed. One who did is Reece Thompson, by now old enough to be considered a veteran, who bested The Pipe in round four, the only blemish in Alan’s score as he sat down to face Ron in the last round.

Ron Burnett vs Alan Piper
Last round Ga Open Top Board

1. c4 e5 2. g3 Nc6 3. Bg2 Nf6 4. Nc3 Bb4 5. Nd5 Bc5 6.
e3 O-O 7. Ne2 d6 8. a3 a6 9. O-O Nxd5 10. cxd5 Ne7 11. d4 exd4 12. Nxd4 Nf5 13.
Nc2 Re8 14. b4 Bb6 15. Bb2 Bd7 16. e4 Nh6 17. Qd2 Bb5 (17… Ng4) 18. Qc3 (A natural choice, my choice, but Houdi shows 18 Rfc1 is better) Qg5 19. Rfe1 Ng4
20. Nd4 Qh5 21. h3 (h4!?) Ne5 22. a4 Bd7 23. g4 Qh4 24. a5 Ba7 25. f4 (This self-pins the Knight. 25 Re2!) Ng6 (25… Rac8 26. fxe5 dxe5 and “pin to win”) 26. Kh2 Bxd4
27. Qxd4 f6 28. Rf1 (28 f5 is one of the most ugly moves ever seen, severely weakening the dark squares and giving the e5 square to the Knight, but must be played because of the possibility of…) Bxg4 29. f5 (Closing the barn door after the horse has escaped) Ne5 30. Rf4 (The program thinks the White position so bad it plays 30 Qf2, allowing a trade, and then takes the Knight to boot. If that had happened we would not have what is about to follow. Sometimes a player must play a dubious move, knowing just how dubious it is!) Qh5 31. Ra3 Be2 32. Rg3 Kh8 33. Bc3
Rf8 34. Qd2 Rae8 35. Bxe5 Rxe5 36. Rf2 Bb5 37. Bf3 Qe8 38. Rfg2 Re7 39. Qd1 Qd8
40. Rg4 Be8 41. Rh4 Qd7 42. Bh5 Qa4 43. Qg4 Kg8 (43… Bxh5 44. Qxh5
h6 and if 45. Qg6 Qe8) 44. Bxe8 (Qf4!?) Qxe8 45. Rh5 Rff7 46.
Re2 (46 Rh4) Qb5 (46…Re5!) 47. Rh4 Re5 48. Qh5 (48. Rb2) Stop! Consider the position. Although Black has a “Beeg Pawn,” he is under a withering attack from his top-seeded IM opponent. How does one defend against the onslaught from the heavy artillery?

48…h6 ( 48…g5! A move I did not even consider because of my dogmatic thinking in adherence to the “rule” of “never moving a pawn in front of the King when under attack.” Sometimes the most beautiful defensive move is one not played…)
49. Rg2 Kf8 50. Rhg4 Qd7 (50… Qe8) 51. Qg6 Ke8 52. Qh7 (The program considers taking the Rook with 52 Qxf7 and going into a pawn down endgame best, but what do machines really know? The human is trying to WIN THE GAME!)
52…Ree7 (A natural defensive move, but it gives the advantage to White. Alan should have played, there it is again, 52…g5!) 53. Rxg7 Kd8 (53… Rf8 !?) 54. Rxf7 Rxf7 55. Rg8+ (55. Qh8+ and it is all over but the shouting) Ke7 56. Rg7 Qe8 57. Qxh6 (57. Rxf7+!) Qb5? (With this move the Pipe cracked. Simply 57…Kd8 is equal) 58. Rxf7+ Kxf7 59. Qg6+ Ke7 60. Qg7+ Ke8 61. Qg8+ Kd7 62. Qe6+ Kd8 63. Qxf6+ Ke8 64. Qg6+ Kd8 65. f6 Qe2+ 66. Kg3 Qf1 67. Qg8+ Kd7 68. Qe6+ Kd8 69. Qe7+ 1-0

A thrilling battle. There were many vicissitudes and missed opportunities by both players. This game is what chess is all about. It is the kind of all-out battle one would expect from a last round game, and should be the kind of game played in each and every round. Unlike the truncated early agreed draws that proliferate these daze, this game is a credit to both the victor and the vanquished. All I can say is, “Thank you, gentlemen.”

T bone Burnett – Kill Zone

Flowing With Intuition

After moving to Hendersonville, NC, I found myself sitting across the chess board playing a speed game at the weekly chess club from Expert Jimmy Hardy. It was my move. I saw the opportunity to retreat my Queen, bringing it back to the center of the board where it would be surrounded by enemy pieces. Nevertheless, it looked like a strong move.
I was never much of a speed chess player and have always thought the reason was because I began playing chess as an adult. While playing speed chess I would often see what to me was a beautiful position and wish there were more time to look into the depths of the position. Sometimes I would try to remember the position so it could be looked at later. When I mentioned this to Big Al after losing yet another speed game after my flag fell, he said, “That’s crazy.” The last time we played speed chess Al won again. He got up from the board saying, “It happens every game…You have a winning position and I win on time. This is no fun.” I beat Oscar Al Hamilton in only twenty moves in what would now be called a “classical” game at a Thad Rogers event, called by the Legendary Georgia Ironman “another nameless, faceless weekend swiss.” Big Al got up after resigning saying, “Nobody beats me like that. NOBODY!” It was only years later I realized how much the loss had affected our relationship.
Another time I was facing Uylsses Martin, a man who had served seven years in the state penitentiary for murder before being paroled. I sat there contemplating whether of not to move my h-pawn and launch an attack. The logical, “Mr. Spock” side of my brain was arguing with the intuitive, “Captain Kirk” side and I went with Spock holding back the pawn move, hoping to make the pawn move next. Without even writing down my move, Uylsses immediately played a move to prevent my moving the wing pawn. I looked at him and sort of grinned. He looked back at me as if to say, “What?” I went on to win that game, but it took much longer than it would have if I had listened to Kirk. As an aside, I won another game against Uylsses, one of the nicest fellows you could ever meet, when his flag fell before he made his twenty fifth move!
I could give many more examples, but you get my drift. Because of the battle between Spock and Kirk that has raged in my brain over the course of my chess career I have been interested in reading about chess intuition. Just this week a new book, “The Enigma of Chess Intuition,” by Valeri Beim, arrived. The book, in excellent condition, cost only $7.95, plus shipping.
The Ironman has a book, “The Magic Tactics of Mikhail Tal,” by Karsten Muller & Raymund Stolze. Like the aforementioned book, it too is published by New in Chess. I allowed Tim to open “Enigma” and the first thing he said was, “If it’s published by New in Chess you know it has got to be good!” When young and on his way toward the battle for the World Championship with Mikhail Botvinnik, Tal was a creative genius who was an intuitive player. He played moves that defied calculation by humans of the day. Computer programs may be able to refute some of Tal’s moves now, but human players were unable to do so “back in the day.” Just how much chess programs have affected the game of chess is illustrated by this from GM Rafael Vaganian in an interview with Sergey Kim on the chess24.com website:
“Sergey Kim: Both at the board and simply in life you met all the Soviet world champions from Botvinnik to Kasparov. The world champions of the twentieth century – of your generation – and the champions of the third millennium – first and foremost, Carlsen: how do they differ?
Rafael Vaganian: It’s hard to compare, because the chess is totally different. Those champions worked in another setting, playing another kind of chess. With no computers, they worked and created on their own, and their creativity was immense. If they found something it was with their own minds, while now there are these amazing programs. Theory has “grown” to 30-35 moves, and you simply can’t compare the two types of chess. Frankly speaking, I don’t like modern chess, and I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. After all, a person isn’t capable of remembering so much, so they simply suffer because of it. They need to remember and learn it all, but then what of creativity? They barely play at the board, but at home, and that’s bad.
I consider those champions to have been greats, though perhaps that’s natural, since I’m a chess player of that generation – the Soviet School – and it all means a lot to me. I find modern chess alien, so it’s possible I’m not objective. Botvinnik, Karpov, Kasparov – they beat everyone for 10-12 years in a row, while for me the thirteenth champion is a separate topic. The way Kasparov and his group worked was incredible. They were a class above the rest and therefore he crushed everyone. Garry won a huge number of games in the opening. His preparation was colossal! But he found moves himself at the board rather than the computer coming up with them. Back then people still beat computers, while now even the world champion can’t beat a computer.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/rafael-vaganian-anand-won-t-lose)
After one tournament Gail told me Big Al had mentioned to her that I was “trying too hard.” I gave his words considerable thought, coming to the conclusion Al was right. When at my best I did not have to try so hard because it seemed easy and just kind of flowed. Many years later, after devoting all my time and energy to backgammon, chess was anything but easy. When playing baseball I had to give it my all since I was smaller than the other players. When a senior in high school I was awarded a small trophy that meant all the world to me because my teammates had voted it to me for being the player that best showed what our coach called the “105” spirit. We chattered “105” on the field that year, which meant giving that little extra. It was the only way I knew to play, and it carried over into my chess.
I read something earlier this year by a Go player, Michael Redmond, that seems applicable to a discussion of intuition. “The charismatic Redmond, an American, is one of very few non-Asian Go celebrities. He began playing professionally in Japan at the age of 18, and remains the only Westerner to ever reach 9-dan, the game’s highest rank.”
“The trouble is that identifying Go moves that deserve attention is often a mysterious process. “You’ll be looking at the board and just know,” Redmond told me, as we stood in front of the projector screen watching Crazy Stone take back Nomitan’s initial lead. “It’s something subconscious, that you train through years and years of playing. I’ll see a move and be sure it’s the right one, but won’t be able to tell you exactly how I know. I just see it.” (From-The Mystery of Go, the Ancient Game That Computers Still Can’t Win, by Alan Levinovitz 05.12.14)
http://www.wired.com/2014/05/the-world-of-computer-go/
Substitute “chess” for “Go” above and you will understand, grasshopper. “You’ll be looking at the board and just know.” You do not have to calculate, and sometimes it will not matter because no matter how long you calculate you will never to be completely certain as there are just too many possibilities.
Intuition can be found in every endeavor. For example, in a 1997 interview with Robert Hilburn, found in the “Dylan Companion,” while referring to Neil Young in the song “Highlands” from the “Time Out of Mind” album, Bob says, “It’s anything you want it to be. I don’t give much thought to individual lines. If I thought about them in any kind of deep way, maybe I wouldn’t use them because I’d always be second-guessing myself. I learned a long time ago to trust my intuition.”
In a 1995 interview in the USA TODAY not long after his “Unplugged” performance, Dylan said, “As you get older, you get smarter and that can hinder you because you try to gain control over the creative impulse. Creativity is not like a freight train going down the tracks. It’s something that has to be caressed and treated with a great deal of respect. If your mind is intellectually in the way, it will stop you. You’ve got to program your brain not to think too much.”
The first line reminds me of Mikhail Tal. His style of play changed as he grew older. Part of it may have been a natural process, but being forced to work with Karpov also had a lasting effect on his style of play.
What it all boils down to is that one must go with the flow and play what you know, Joe. This is exactly what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a “Positive psychologist,” means when he says that flow is, “A state of heightened focus and immersion in activities such as art, play and work.” (http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow?language=en)
Viswanathan Anand lost his “flow” but somehow managed to get back into the flow for the Candidates tournament, one of the most amazing things in the history of chess.
After losing the game to Jimmy, our friend NM Neal Harris walked over, asking the result. Jimmy said, “I won, but take a look at this position!” He immediately set up the position to which I referred at the beginning of this article. Jimmy looked at Neal with blazing eyes and said, while moving the Queen to the middle of the board, “Mike missed this crushing blow. I don’t see how I can continue after this move.” The two mountain men continued moving the pieces around while I debated telling them I had actually seen the move, but rejected it. Instead I said, “Yeah, that looks like a real strong move.”

Watching The River Flow by Bob Dylan

What’s the matter with me
I don’t have much to say
Daylight sneakin’ through the window
And I’m still in this all-night café
Walkin’ to and fro beneath the moon
Out to where the trucks are rollin’ slow
To sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow

Wish I was back in the city
Instead of this old bank of sand
With the sun beating down over the chimney tops
And the one I love so close at hand
If I had wings and I could fly
I know where I would go
But right now I’ll just sit here so contentedly
And watch the river flow

People disagreeing on all just about everything, yeah
Makes you stop and all wonder why
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
Who just couldn’t help but cry
Oh, this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow

People disagreeing everywhere you look
Makes you wanna stop and read a book
Why only yesterday I saw somebody on the street
That was really shook
But this ol’ river keeps on rollin’, though
No matter what gets in the way and which way the wind does blow
And as long as it does I’ll just sit here
And watch the river flow

Watch the river flow
Watchin’ the river flow
Watchin’ the river flow
But I’ll sit down on this bank of sand
And watch the river flow
Copyright © 1971 by Big Sky Music; renewed 1999 by Big Sky Music

Bob Dylan Watching The River Flow

http://njnnetwork.com/2010/01/bob-dylan-watching-the-river-flow/

LEON RUSSELL, WATCHING THE RIVER FLOW

The Ol’ Swindler Strikes Again!

Many years ago NM Neal Harris beat the Legendary Georgia Ironman for the second time in the exact same variation. The Ironman, who was none too pleased, said, “That Neal…he ain’t nothing but an ol’ swindler!” We have all laughed about it since then, and I have been known to address my friend Neal as “Ol’ Swindler”, which invariably brings out a smile from the Ol’ Swindler. Today the ol’ dog proved he still has some bite!
This afternoon as fire raged on every board at the Sinquefield Cup, with GM Maurice displaying histrionics that would make Tom Cruise proud, and Jen and Ben talking excitedly when given the chance, with even the usually calm and understated Yaz getting in on the act, especially when Hikaru Nakamura eschewed the opportunity to put Darth Topalov out of his misery with 21…Bxf2+, I was following the game between Neal and Kazim Gulamali at the US Masters along with the coverage from St. Louis.
Neal is a fellow Senior who happens to be against Senior tournaments. We have agreed to disagree on the matter. Knowing Kazim from the time he was a child put me in a tough position. It is one of those situations where one might hope for a great game that turns out to be a draw. Then there is David Spinks, who said, “You gotta pull for SOMEBODY!” I admit that when the Ol’ Swindler obtained an advantage my heart was with him. “Come on Neal, push that pawn to e2!” I exclaimed as he missed chance after chance to do just that. Nevertheless, Neal found a way to win. Congratulations my friend! NC obtained a modicum of revenge for the loss to the Atlanta Kings earlier this week.

NEAL D HARRIS (2218) vs KAZIM GULAMALI (2398)

US Masters rd 2 Greensboro, North Carolina

B29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein variation

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. e5 Nd5 4. Nc3 Nxc3 5. dxc3 Nc6 6. Bf4 e6 7. Qd2 h6 8. h4 Qc7 9. Rd1 b6 10. Qe3 Bb7 11. Nd2 Ne7 12. (12. Ne4 Nf5 13. Qe2 Qc6 14. Nd6+ Bxd6 15. exd6 h5 16. f3 O-O-O 17. Qd2 e5 18. Bh2 e4 19. Qf4 exf3 20. Bd3 Ne3 21. Qxe3 fxg2 22. Rg1 Rde8 23. Be5 f6 24. Kd2 Rxe5 25. Qg3 Qf3 26. Qxf3 Bxf3 27. Rde1 Rhe8 28. Rxe5 Rxe5 0-1, Ingvar Asmundsson (2338) – Jacob Murey (2496) EU-ch Seniors, 10/03/2002) Nc4 Nd5 13. Qg3 O-O-O 14. Nd6 Bxd6 15. exd6 Qc6 16. Bc1 Qa4 17. c4 Nb4 18. c3 Nc2 19. Kd2 Na1 20. a3 Nb3 21. Ke1 Nxc1 22. Rxc1 Qc6 23. f3 e5 24. Rd1 e4 25. b3 Rde8 26. f4 Rhg8 27. Rd5 Kb8 28. h5 Qc8 29. Rf5 f6 30. Rh4 Re6 31. Rg4 Qf8 32. b4 e3 33. bxc5 bxc5 34. Rd5 Bxd5 35. cxd5 Qxd6 36. c4 Re7 37. Bd3 Qc7 38. Kf1 Rge8 39. Qe1 Qb6 40. Bg6 Rf8 41. Bd3 Qb3 42. Ke2 Qxa3 43. Qb1 Qb4 44. Qxb4 cxb4 45. d6 Re6 46. c5 a5 47. Bf5 Rc8 48. Bxe6 dxe6 49. f5 exf5 50. Rc4 b3 51. Rc3 a4 52. Rc4 Kb7 53. Rxa4 Rxc5 54. d7 Kc7 55. Rb4 Kxd7 56. Rxb3 f4 57. Rb7 Ke6 58. Rxg7 Rxh5 59. Kf3 Re5 0-1

Traveling Wilburys – Congratulations