The Milner-Barry Gambit

  1. e4 (365Chess designates this the “B00 King’s pawn opening”) 1…e6 (This move signifies the opening has become the “C00 French defence) 2. d4 d5 3. e5 (After this move it becomes the “C02 French, advance variation”) 3…c5 4. c3 Nc6 5. Nf3 (Now it is the “C02 French, advance, Paulsen attack”) 5…Qb6 6. Bd3 (And now we have the “C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit” [https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=12&n=712&ms=e4.e6.d4.d5.e5.c5.c3.Nc6.Nf3.Qb6.Bd3&ns=3.16.12.17.453.525.454.526.711.742.712] or do we?)
The Milner-Barry Gambit

Already an adult when playing in my first USCF rated tournament, I was a bad, but persistently tenacious, player. It was my good fortune to have had International Master Branko Vujakovic travel to Atlanta from Yugoslavia to attend college. My first out of state Chess tournament, in New Orleans, Louisiana, was with Branko. It was in that tournament I used a version of the Milner-Barry taught by Branko against an Expert only a few rating points below National Master, Glenn Ruiz in the very first round. That game featured 4 Nf3 in lieu of 4 c3 in the main line. I recall being on move when one of the local players walked by our board and stopped dead in his tracks. “Would you look at that..” my opponent lamented about his broken and battered position while shaking his head.

We also drove to the Church’s Fried Chicken Chess Tournament in San Antonio, Texas, in 1972, where I met Bobby Fischer after his recent victory over Boris Spassky to win the title of World Chess Champion.

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Fi.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FUPaI5rM2COs%2Fmaxresdefault.jpg&f=1&nofb=1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPaI5rM2COs

One of the things recalled about the trip was that the night before the first round we were soundly sleeping when there was a knock on the door. After opening the door there stood two women, one of whom asked, “Would you like a date?” I modestly replied, “No ma’am, but thank you anyway.” After closing the door Branko asked, “Who was that?” After telling him what had transpired he asked, “Does that happen often?” Now here’s a guy who has been around the world and he is asking a young dude for whom a road trip to Savannah, Georgia, had been one of the highlights of his life a question like that…”How should I know?” was the answer.

Branko showed me the opening moves of what he called the “Milner-Barry Gambit,” which were, 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 c5 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. Bd3 cxd4 6. O-O. According to 365Chess.com the fourth move makes the variation the “C02 French, advance, Nimzovich system” (https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=12&n=4274&ms=e4.e6.d4.d5.e5.c5.Nf3.Nc6.Bd3.cxd4.O-O&ns=3.16.12.17.453.525.1942.2541.4273.4841.4274). We called it the “Milner-Barry Gambit.” If you go to the page at 365Chess you will find the opening having been played by World Chess Championship contender Nigel Short and fellow British countryman GM Julian Hodgson, along with GM Artur Kogan. The idea is simple enough with white sacrificing a pawn for development in order to attack on the Kingside.

In the second round of the recently completed US Women’s Chess Championship the eventual winner, Carissa Yip

Eighteen-year-old International Master Carissa Yip was crowned U.S. Women’s Champion with a...
Eighteen-year-old International Master Carissa Yip was crowned U.S. Women’s Champion with a round to spare, finishing with an incredible 8.5/11 score. The tournament was held at the Saint Louis Chess Club in Saint Louis, Mo.

faced the French defense played by former US Women’s Chess Champ Tatev Abrahamyan:

https://chessterra.com/2021/10/16/slash-and-burn-style-interview-with-wgm-tatev-abrahamyan/
  1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5 (StockFish 13, going way deep to depth 82 proclaims 3 Nc3 best) 3…c5 4. c3 (According the Chess24.com this is the only move with which White can show an advantage. The Stockfish program at ChessBomb.com shows the game equal. SF 030721 at the ChessBaseDataBase, @depth 57, shows White with a miniscule advantage) 4…Nc6 (SF 130721 @depth 57 plays this move but SF 13 @depth 69 would play 4…Qb6) 5. Nf3 Qb6 6. Bd3? (SF, along with everyone else, plays 6 a3, and so should you. Why would the new Women’s Champ play an inferior move? This game may have had something to do with why she played the move:

Magnus Carlsen (2863) vs Pentala Harikrishna (2732)
Event: Saint Louis Blitz 2020
Site: lichess.org INT Date: 09/19/2020
Round: 15.1
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Qb6 5.Nf3 Nc6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Nbd2 Rc8 9.Nb3 dxc3 10.bxc3 Qc7 11.Re1 Nge7 12.h4 Ng6 13.Qe2 Be7 14.h5 Ngxe5 15.Nxe5 Qxe5 16.Qxe5 Nxe5 17.Rxe5 Bf6 18.Re3 Rxc3 19.Rb1 d4 20.Rg3 O-O 21.Bb2 Rfc8 22.Bxc3 dxc3 23.Rd1 Bc6 24.Bc2 Kf8 25.Re3 b6 26.Nd4 Bd5 27.a4 g6 28.hxg6 hxg6 29.Nb5 Rc4 30.Nxa7 Rb4 31.Nb5 Rb2 32.Rc1 Bg5 33.Nxc3 Bxe3 34.fxe3 Bc6 35.Be4 Bd7 36.Bd3 Bc6 37.Rc2 Rb4 38.Bb5 Bxb5 39.axb5 Rc4 40.Kf2 Ke7 41.Ke2 f5 42.Kd3 Rb4 43.Ra2 Kf6 44.Ra6 Rb2 45.Rxb6 Rxg2 46.Nd5+ Ke5 47.Nf4 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?gid=4270402)

Back to the game: 6…cxd4 7. O-O (7 cxd4 is best according the Fritz 15, 16, and 17, for what it’s worth. Unfortunately, there is no word from the best program, or any other, better, program. All we have to go on is the human mind of Magnus Carlsen and the fact that in the 38 games contained by the CBDB White has scored an astounding 66%, while the move 7 cxd4 has scored only 42% in 203 games. Back in the day the move played by a World Champ would have been enough. I miss those daze…) 7…Bd7 8. Re1 (Ms. Yip varies from the World Champ. The most popular move has been 8 cxd4, with 308 games in the CBDB, and it is the choice of Houdini, and the overwhelming choice of most human players even though it has only scored 43%! I kid you not…The move played in the game has only been attempted 40 times, scoring 64%. It is also the choice of SF 11 @depth 47. But SF 14 @depth 48 would play what is invariably almost no doubt the best move on the board whenever it is played, 8 Qe2!!! According to the CBDB the move 8 Qe2 has only been attempted TWICE. That will most certainly change after this post is read by Chess players all over the world looking for any kind of advantage. Pardon me, I sometimes get carried away when Qe2 is played, in case you have not noticed…Where we’re we? Oh yeah, my new hero, who has played THREE games using 8 Qe2, my Man, Adrian Flitney:

Adrian Flitney (1999) vs Daniel Baider (2032)
Event: Nelson op
Site: Nelson Date: 10/05/2007
Round: 5
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Qe2 Nge7 9.Rd1 dxc3 10.Nxc3 Ng6 11.Be3 Qd8 12.Bg5 Be7 13.Bxe7 Qxe7 14.g3 O-O 15.Rac1 f5 16.h4 Be8 17.Ng5 h6 18.Nxe6 Qxe6 19.Nxd5 Qxe5 20.Qd2 Kh8 21.Bc4 f4 22.Re1 Qd4 23.Qxd4 Nxd4 24.Kg2 fxg3 25.fxg3 Bc6 26.h5 Nf3 27.hxg6 Nxe1+ 28.Rxe1 Rf5 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3599055&m=18

Wait a minute…what if Adrian is a woman?

I checked, learning Mr. Flitney is an Australian male who was born in 1961 and played a total of 134 games between 1981 and 2009 (https://www.365chess.com/players/Adrian_Flitney). For some reason Adrian faced an inordinate number of French defenses and, to be kind, did not score all that well. Nevertheless, I will replay each and every game because one can usually learn more from a loss than a win.)

Again, where were we? Oh yeah, Ms. Yip has just played 8 Re1 in lieu of the 8.Nbd2 played in a blitz game. This was answered with 8…Nge7 9 h4 a6 (Although SF 13 @depth 50 would play the move played in the game, SF 14 @depth 54 goes with 9…Rc8, as in the following game:

Piroska Palotai (2055) vs Attila Barva (2335)
Event: HUN-ch univ
Site: Hungary Date: 2000
Round: ?
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.Nf3 Qb6 5.Bd3 Nc6 6.c3 Bd7 7.O-O cxd4 8.Re1 Nge7 9.h4 Rc8 10.a3 (SF 14 gives 10 Nbd2 as best) 10…a6 11.Qe2 dxc3 12.Nxc3 Nd4 13.Nxd4 Qxd4 14.g3 Nc6 15.Bf4 Be7 16.Rad1 Qb6 17.Bb1 g6 18.Bh6 Nd4 19.Qg4 Qxb2 20.Nxd5 exd5 21.Qxd4 Qxd4 22.Rxd4 Be6 23.a4 Rc3 24.Ba2 Bc5 25.Rd2 Rxg3+ 26.Kh2 Rg4 27.Bg5 Bb4 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=526031&m=20

Alessio Valsecchi (2432) vs Luca Moroni Jr (2321)
Event: 17th Padova Open 2014
Site: Padova ITA Date: 12/17/2014
Round: 5.11
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Re1 Nge7 9.h4 Rc8 10.h5 a6 11.Bc2 h6 12.a3 dxc3 13.Nxc3 Na5 14.Ra2 Nec6 15.Be3 Qc7 16.Bf4 Qd8 17.Bb1 Nc4 18.Bd3 b5 19.Bg3 Qb6 20.Nh4 Qd4 21.Nf3 Qg4 22.Ne2 Bc5 23.Qa1 Bb6 24.b3 N4a5 25.Qd1 O-O 26.Bb1 Ne7 27.Ned4 Rc3 28.Qd2 Rfc8 29.Rb2 Qxh5 30.Rd1 Qg4 31.b4 Bxd4 32.Qxd4 Qxd4 33.Nxd4 Nc4 34.Rb3 Nxa3 35.Bd3 Rc1 36.Rf1 R8c3 37.Bf4 Rxf1+ 38.Kxf1 Rxb3 39.Nxb3 Nc6 40.Bd2 Nxe5 41.Be2 Nec4 42.Bc3 e5 43.Nc5 Bc8 44.Bd3 d4 45.Ba1 a5 46.bxa5 Nxa5 47.f4 f6 48.fxe5 fxe5 49.Kf2 N3c4 50.Be4 Kf8 51.Nd3 Bb7 52.Bf5 Nb3 53.Bd7 Nxa1 54.Bxb5 Nd6 55.Ba4 e4 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3923226&m=20)

If you are still with me we have come to the only other game found in which 9…a6 was found:

Rauf Mamedov (2654) vs Boris Markoja (2453)
Event: Online Olympiad Top DivB 2021
Site: chess.com INT Date: 09/10/2021
Round: 7.3 Score: 1-0
ECO: C02 French, advance, Milner-Barry gambit
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 c5 4.c3 Nc6 5.Nf3 Qb6 6.Bd3 cxd4 7.O-O Bd7 8.Re1 Nge7 9.h4 a6 10.h5 g6 11.h6 Ng8 12.cxd4 Nxh6 13.Nc3 Nf5 14.Na4 Qc7 15.Bg5 Nfxd4 16.Nxd4 Nxd4 17.Bf6 Rg8 18.Rc1 Nc6 19.Nc5 Qb6 20.b4 Nxb4 21.Nxd7 Kxd7 22.Qa4+ Nc6 23.Rb1 Qc7 24.Rec1 Be7 25.Bxe7 Kxe7 26.Qa3+ Ke8 27.Bb5 Qe7 28.Bxc6+ bxc6 29.Qe3 Qc7 30.Rb6 Kd7 31.Qf4 Rgf8 32.Rcb1 Ra7 33.Qh6 Ke7 34.Qc1 Kd7 35.Qf4 h5 36.a4 a5 37.R1b2 Kc8 38.Qe3 c5 39.Rb8+ Qxb8 40.Qxc5+ Qc7 41.Qxf8+ Kd7 42.Qxf7+ Kd8 43.Qf8+ Kd7 44.Rb8 Qxe5 45.Qd8+ Kc6 46.Qb6+ 1-0
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4304033&m=19

10. h5 (SF plays 10 Nbd2) 10…h6 (SF prefers 10…g6, putting the question to White. It will be a TN if and when played by a human. 365Chess shows no games with 10…h6, but the CBDB has 4 games with the move) 11. Qe2 (The StockFish programs at Chess24 and the CBDB show 11 Nbd2 as best. The weaker SF program at the ChessBomb shows the move played in the game.) 11…f5? (StockFish shows 11…dxc3 as best. 11…f5? is a RED MOVE at ChessBomb. In computer numerical terms Black has just tossed a pawn. If you do not understand why please STOP! Go set up a real 3D set and pieces and look at the position as long as it takes for you to acquire understanding of the position, grasshopper, then return to the AW for, hopefully, more understanding) 12. exf6? (Because of being taught this particular opening a half century ago I had a modicum of understanding of the rudiments of this position. This weekend I was assisting a Chess Coach because his antiquated laptop needs to have “cool down” time. When this happens the AW takes control of the group. The Coach said nothing after 11…f5 so I stayed silent, but after he made the move 12 exf6 on the board and erupted effusively with, “I love this move! It just rips black apart! What do you think of the move, Mike?” Rock…Hard Place…I actually thought of a song, which will probably not surprise regular readers, even if it did surprise me:

For readers who do not know much about the Royal Game, in Chess there is one thing that is paramount: The Truth. For this reason I was compelled to either feign a heart attack or answer truthfully. Although only taking a few seconds to answer it seemed like HOURS had elapsed before I stated, “Pawn takes pawn en passant is an awful move, Coach.”

Silence followed before the Coach gathered himself enough to inquire, “Why would you say that, Mike?” The answer came immediately. “Because the White e-pawn is a bastion in the center of the board, Coach. When it goes Black will be left with three pawns in the center of the board that will be like Larry Csonka, Jim Kiick, and Eugene “Mercury ” Morris, the three running backs for the only undefeated NFL team in history, rolling forward over any and every thing in their path.”

The Coach was stunned speechless. Therefore I added, “If you go back to the position after 11 Qe2 was played you will see that 11…f5 was also a bad move. Black should have played 11…dxc3.”

The Coach finally responded with, “Well Mike, we don’t have much time and I’m only trying to give the students an overview of the game and not so much detail.”

The kids are LOVING THIS!

“But now I gotta know so I’ll go over to the Bomb and check it out.”

And that is exactly what I expect you to do because inquiring minds want to know (https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2021-us-womens-chess-championship/02-Yip_Carissa-Abrahamyan_Tatev).

BTW, in lieu of 12 exf6 StockFish would play 12 Na3. Just sayin’…

12…gxf6 13. cxd4 (Komodo plays 13 Nxd4 while the Fish plays 13 Qd1) 13…Nxd4 14. Nxd4 Qxd4

White to move

15. Be3 (Truth be told I did not question this move and we discussed what a natural move was this, as it attacks the Queen thereby “developing with tempo,” which is a good thing in Chess, especially if one is behind in development. As luck would have it the next night I was again called upon and was showing the game to another group when the Coach returned just in time to hear me say this was a bad move. “What?” the Coach erupted. Then he gives the students all the reasons enumerated above before saying to me, “Why would you say that, Mike?!”

“Oh no, Mister Bill,” I’m thinking. It was kinda like being called on in class when the teacher knows you’ve been sitting there zoning out while dreaming about that last bell so you could get home and to the Boys Club ASAP… Nevertheless enough gumption was mustered to say, “I spent some time reviewing the game for a possible blog post and checked with all the usual websites and was just as shocked as you to learn that although StockFish 8 played the move, SF 14 finds 15 Nc3 superior.”

Silence. Then, “Well, 15…Qe5 looks like a good move. What do you think, Mike?” I actually thought about having a power failure, but decided to inform the coach that the Fish proclaimed 15…Qh4 best. The coach moved the Queen to e5 before saying, “Well, it looks like Nc3 is out of the question because of the pawn fork, and Nd2 drops the b-pawn, but it looks like White gets counter play by moving the Rook to b1, so how about 16 Na3?” I knew one of the programs (Houdini) would have played Nd2 but kept quiet, but when the Coach asked, “What do you think, Mike?” I was again on the spot, so I said, “f4.” Yip played 16 Nd2)

15…Qe5 16. Nd2 Rg8 17. f4 Qd6 18. Qf2 Rc8 19. Rad1 (19 Nf3 SF) 19…Bc6 (The Coach liked this move, using arrows to show the Bishop and Rook firing on g2. Unfortunately he again asked me to weigh in, so I had not choice but to point out how bad was the move, a move from which Tatev never recovered. “Well, what the hell should the woman have played, Mike?!” I answered “f5.” The coach continued moving the pieces until reaching the position after 20. Bh7 Rg7, asking the students to find a good move for White. By this point the poor things were afraid to utter a sound, so the Coach showed the next move: 21. Ne4 explaining what a good move was this and explaining why, before saying, “We’re running out of time so I’m just gonna run through the rest of the moves before ending the session.”

And I am thinking “Oh Happy Day”

21…Qc7 (Qd8) 22. Bb6 (Nxf6+) dxe4 23. Bxc7 Rxh7 24. Bd6 Rg7 25. Rc1 Nf5 (f5) 26. Bxf8 Kxf8 27. Rxe4 Rd8 (Ke7) 28. Rxc6 bxc6 29. Rxe6 Ng3 (Kg8) 30. Rxf6+ Ke7 31. Qc5+ (Rg6) Kxf6 32. Qe5+ Kf7 33. Qc7+ 1-0

Robert Ris’ Fast and Furious: The Improved Milner-Barry Gambit
(https://en.chessbase.com/post/robert-ris-fast-and-furious-the-improved-milner-barry-gambit)

Vampires, Movie Stars, and No Rules to the WRITING on the WALL

In what now seems another lifetime my younger sister, a grammar school teacher, insisted I read a book:

$_57
A “special preview edition” of Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire (1976). (faboorecords/eBay) https://vamped.org/2014/11/11/20-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-the-interview-with-the-vampire-movie-pt-1/

I have long forgotten my response but it must have been along the lines of, “Are you kidding me, Lynnette?” I do, though, recall her response, which was, “Oh Michael, you will LOVE IT!” I had my doubts…Nevertheless, I read the book because my sister had never previously recommended any book. Turned out my little sister was right… I even read a few more of the series until it seemed the author was writing the same story again and again.

The book was made into a movie I did not see because, well, you know, I read the book. When putting this post together I found the following video, of which I was completely unaware, as I was unaware of how well the movie did at the box office. I watched the video several times while telling myself the time spent was for “research” when the truth is that it contains Andie McDowell, whom I adore, after meeting her in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Earth Fare grocery store on the east side of town, while living in the mountains. I was next in line when, all of a sudden, Ms. McDowell comes barging in from the front in a failed attempt to check out before me. “I am in a big hurry,” she said. “Sounds like something a city girl would say,” said I. She shot me a look which reminded me of the time I was walking to Fantasyland Records (https://fantasylandrecords.com/) near the corner of Peachtree Street and Rumson road in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia, where I resided, and there was Virginia Gunn, a local television personality, sitting in a sports car smoking a cigarette. “You’re Virginia Gunn,” I said. She shot me a look before saying, “Buzz off, buster!” That was the kinda look given by Andie… I smiled when saying, “Go ahead, ma’am, celebrity has some privilege.” She gave me another look that was the definition of perplexed, and began unloading her cart. “I saw you on the David Letterman show before you married your high school sweetheart and you sure were happy.” Ms. McDowell replied, “Yeah, well, it didn’t work out. It never does…” She left hurriedly as I proceeded to check out. After exiting I walked by her car and she seemed to be having trouble getting it together. By the time I was near she dropped a rather large pizza box and I nabbed it before the thing touched the pavement. She again looked at me strangely before saying, “You’re my hero.” Unfortunately it did not sound like I was “her hero,” if’n you get my drift… Sometime later I was having brunch at the Earth Fare on the west side of town. I was at a large table all by myself reading the Sunday New York Times, oblivious to the fact that the lunch crowd had quickly filled the place. When I looked up there was Andie, with a young girl I took to be her daughter. There they stood, looking at me and the empty surrounding seats with longing in their eyes. “Would you like to sit down?” I asked. “I thought you’d never ask,” Andie said. I began making arrangements to leave as quickly as possible when the daughter said to her mother, “That’s the chess guy. He was in the newspaper,” said the young girl. Andie again gave me a look that’s difficult to describe before saying, “So, you’re famous?” I smiled before saying, “Not like you. I’m a local yokel.” She smiled, and that was the first time I had seen her smile. I told her about beginning as an extra on the movie filmed at Atlanta Stadium, The Slugger’s Wife (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090036/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1), and how I had to join the screen actor’s guild to be shown in the movie (I had to run out to centerfield and man the camera when the ‘slugger’ slugged the record ball the chicks love outta the park), but my “part”, was cut outta the movie, which is now considered one of the worst movies ever produced. I told them about getting to eat with the actors and ball players, like Mark, “The Bird” Fidrych, a “flash in the pan” but what a flash!

Photo of Mark Fidrych
https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/f/fidryma01.shtml

They laughed uproariously after being told that I found myself in line at the buffet, behind one of the stars, Rebecca De Mornay,

Michael O’Keefe & Rebecca De Mornay

and when she looked back at me I said, “You’re Rebecca De Mornay.” She scowled before replying, “And who the hell are you?”

Before leaving Andie asked me which of her movies was my favorite. I looked at her daughter and hesitated…”It’s OK, she knows all my movies.” The reply came immediately, “Sex, Lies, and Videotape.” She looked at me for a moment as a faint smile began to appear before saying, “Really?” To which I responded, “I liked Four Wedding and a Funeral, too.” Her smile grew larger and I looked at her daughter, who was absolutely loving this. Then Andie said, “Most people choose Groundhog Day.” The response was, “I am not most people.”

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098724/mediaviewer/rm1865690112/

“It’s the birthday of American horror novelist Anne Rice (books by this author), born in New Orleans (1941) and best known for creating the novel Interview with the Vampire (1976)

in which a young man interviews a 200-year-old vampire named Louis about his life. The book introduces the character of Lestat the Vampire and was later made into a film. There are 14 books in the Vampire Chronicles saga, most of which have been international best-sellers.

Rice was inspired to write Interview with the Vampire after the death of her six-year old daughter from leukemia. She said:

“I was a sad, broken atheist. I pitched myself into writing and made up a story about vampires. I didn’t know it at the time but it was all about my daughter, the loss of her and the need to go on living when faith is shattered. But the lights do come back on, no matter how dark it seems, and I’m sensitive now, more than ever, to the beauty of the world — and more resigned to living with cosmic uncertainty.”

Rice based the character of the girl vampire, Claudia, on her daughter.

It took Rice five weeks to write 358 pages about the relationship between two vampires for Interview with a Vampire. She researched vampires during the day and wrote at night, once even attending a concert by the heavy metal band Iron Maiden for inspiration.

When asked why she chose to write about vampires, Rice answered:

“Vampires are the best metaphor for the human condition. Here you have a monster with a soul that’s immortal, yet in a biological body. It’s a metaphor for us, as it’s very difficult to realize that we are going to die, and day to day we have to think and move as though we are immortal. A vampire like Lestat in Interview … is perfect for that because he transcends time — yet he can be destroyed, go mad and suffer; it’s intensely about the human dilemma.”

When asked who makes a better literary subject, vampires or zombies, Rice answered:

“The vampire is an articulate character in our literature. In the last 30 years or so, the vampire has been an articulate, charming, beguiling complex person so he’s miles away from a zombie. The vampire is the poet and the writer of the monster world. The zombies are the exact opposite. They’re not sexy, they don’t listen to good music and they don’t wear good clothes.”

On writing, Anne Rice once said, “There are no rules. It’s amazing how willing people are to tell you that you aren’t a real writer unless you conform to their clichés and their rules. My advice? Reject rules and critics out of hand. Define yourself. Do it your way. Make yourself the writer of your dreams.” (https://www.garrisonkeillor.com/radio/twa-the-writers-almanac-for-october-4-2021/)

“The Writing On The Wall”

Across a painted desert lies a train of vagabonds
All that’s left of what we were it’s what we have become
Once our empires glorious but now the empire’s gone
The dead gave us the time to live and now our time is done

Now we are victorious, we’ve become our slaves
A land of hope and glory building graveyards for the brave

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?
Can you see them riding?

Holding on to fury is that all we ever know
Ignorance our judge and jury all we’ve got to show
From Hollywood to Babylon ~ holy war to kingdom come
On a trail of dust and ashes ~ when the burning sky is done
A tide of change is coming and that is what you fear
The earthquake is a coming but you don’t want to hear
You’re just too blind to see

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?
Can you see them riding, riding next to you?

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?

Have you seen the writing on the wall?
Have you seen that writing?
Can you see the riders on the storm?
Can you see them riding?
Can you see them riding, riding next to you?
https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ironmaiden/thewritingonthewall.html

The South May See the Largest Share of Coronavirus Misery

The South May See the Largest Share of Coronavirus Misery

By: Christine Vestal April 13, 2020

https://www.pewtrusts.org/-/media/post-launch-images/2020/04/sln_apr13_1/16x9_m.jpg?mw=1290&hash=5627FCA37C0E63A654F967E4F5B058614B6344B1

The French Quarter of New Orleans was deserted last month, amid restrictions in place to help deal with the pandemic.
Gerald Herbert/The Associated Press

It looks increasingly likely the South will endure more death and economic loss from COVID-19 than any other region in the country — and not just because Southern governors were slow to shut down businesses and order people to stay at home.

Southern poverty rates are high, social welfare programs spotty and health care infrastructure threadbare. Last year, 120 rural U.S. hospitals closed their doors; 75 of them were in the South.

And emerging data from some cities and states shows that black peoplemore than half of whom live in the South — are contracting and dying from the virus at a disproportionately high rate.

Because of poverty and limited access to health care, African Americans more often have underlying health conditions — such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, obesity and asthma — that increase the risk of death from COVID-19. In addition, African Americans more often work in essential frontline jobs that make social distancing impossible.

“The South is expected to be hit hard, because African Americans are expected to be hit hard,” said Dr. Harry Heiman, a professor at Georgia State University’s School of Public Health. “There’s no getting around that.”

Still, he and other advocates for low-income people say it’s not too late for elected leaders in the South to enact policies that could substantially improve the region’s chances for recovery.

Medicaid Politics

Expanding Medicaid is at the top of every advocate’s wish list. Of the 14 states that still refuse federal money to extend the low-income health plan to thousands of adults, nine are in the South.

Medicaid expansion, which would provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of low-income people with the federal government paying 90% of the cost, is the best way for Southern states to boost their budgets, according to a study by researchers at Harvard University published last month in response to the coronavirus crisis.

“There is no moment in recent memory more critical than now to bolster Medicaid,” they wrote. “Covering more people in Medicaid is a rapid way to bring needed resources into the health care system and infuse federal dollars into state economies on the verge of a major downturn.”

https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2020/04/13/the-south-may-see-the-largest-share-of-coronavirus-misery

Virus hot spots in South poised for disproportionate suffering

With equipment shortages coast to coast, local officials are left begging residents to stay indoors.

https://static.politico.com/dims4/default/0ecd918/2147483647/resize/1160x/quality/90/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fstatic.politico.com%2Fde%2F25%2F49b7d48345f09d6320110d1e2699%2F200403-louisiana-gty-773.jpg

An street in New Orleans is empty due to the coronavirus pandemic. | Chris Graythen/Getty Images

By DAN GOLDBERG and ALICE MIRANDA OLLSTEIN

St. John the Baptist Parish, just southeast of Baton Rouge, La., has a population of just over 43,000 — and the highest per capita coronavirus mortality rate in the nation.

Frantic local officials instituted an overnight curfew just this week and are begging residents to stay home. But in largely rural Southern states like Louisiana — where social distancing has been spotty, widespread testing is unavailable and hospitals are poorer and farther apart — the response may be coming too late to avoid a public health crisis as bad as the one now engulfing New York.

Hot spots like St. John the Baptist are erupting across the South. The virus is also poised to consume the area around Norfolk, Va., a rural county in Tennessee just north of Nashville and parts of southwest Georgia near Albany, according to models assembled by Columbia University epidemiologists. And without the resources of major cities, these areas are poised to see disproportionate suffering, economic hardship and death when cases peak.

“There is no city anywhere in the world that can withstand the outbreak that would occur if there isn’t rigorous social distancing,” said Tom Frieden, a former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/03/coronavirus-rural-south-164225

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bitter Southerner

A LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

or

Why We Created The Bitter Southerner in the First Place

The essay below was originally published August 6, 2013, the night The Bitter Southerner was launched. In the years since, we have published a few other pieces to clarify the purpose of our publication. A year after our launch, for our first membership drive, we specified our vision and mission statements. After the 2016 presidential election, we promised to go deeper in our coverage, to call out those who would deny the rights of — or commit violence against — anyone they see as “the other.” We pledged to raise hell on the folks who deserve it, and at the same time to try our best to understand our region better, even if that means confronting the distasteful. But the essence of The Bitter Southerner remains exactly as we put it that August night in 2013:
If you are a person who buys the states’ rights argument … or you fly the rebel flag in your front yard … or you still think women look really nice in hoop skirts, we politely suggest you find other amusements on the web. The Bitter Southerner is not for you.
The Bitter Southerner is for the rest of us. It is about the South that the rest of us know: the one we live in today and the one we hope to create in the future.

This whole thing got started because I got pissed off. Bitter, as it were.

Here’s how it happened. My then-fiancée and I spent a week in New Orleans. We spent time with amazing barkeeps like Chris Hannah at Arnaud’s French 75, Kirk Estopinal at Cure and one of the granddaddies of the American cocktail revival, Chris McMillian at Bar Uncommon.

We drank very well. We heard great stories. We learned.

Shortly after we returned, Drinks International released its list of the top 50 bars in the world. Not a single bar in New Orleans — or anywhere in the South — was on the list. I felt a familiar twinge of bitterness. I remembered the first time I moved away from the South, to New York City, and learned that my accent could trigger certain negative assumptions. To my new NYC acquaintances, my twang equaled “dumb” or “backward” or worse. Of course, when people discovered that I was reasonably intelligent and could speak in complete sentences, their assumptions quickly melted away. I learned a lesson: Sometimes, you just gotta show people.

I decided somebody needed to show the world our region’s drinking secrets. So I rounded up a gang of co-conspirators — designers, photographers, videographers, whiskey geeks — with a plan to hunt down the South’s finest barkeeps and ask them to tell their stories. We would give them their due.

Then we started thinking: There’s a larger point here, a bigger story to be told.

You see, the South is a curiosity to people who aren’t from here. Always has been. Open up your copy of Faulkner’s 1936 masterpiece, “Absalom, Absalom!” Find the spot where Quentin Compson’s puzzled Canadian roommate at Harvard says to him, “Tell about the South. What it’s like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.” ― WILLIAM FAULKNER / ABSALOM, ABSALOM!

It always comes down to that last bit: With all our baggage, how do we live at all? A lot of people in the world believe that most folks in the South are just dumb. Or backward. Just not worth their attention.

And you know what? If you live down here, sometimes you look around and think, “Those folks are right.” We do have people here who will argue, in all sincerity, that the Confederacy entered the Civil War only to defend the concept of states’ rights and that secession had nothing to do with the desire to keep slavery alive. We still become a national laughing stock because some small town somewhere has not figured out how to hold a high school prom that includes kids of all races.

If you are a person who buys the states’ rights argument … or you fly the rebel flag in your front yard … or you still think women look really nice in hoop skirts, we politely suggest you find other amusements on the web. The Bitter Southerner is not for you.

The Bitter Southerner is for the rest of us. It is about the South that the rest of us know: the one we live in today and the one we hope to create in the future.

According to Tracy Thompson’s brilliant “The New Mind of the South,”

it’s been only two decades since Southern kids (including the entire Bitter Southerner crew) stopped learning history from censored textbooks, which uniformly glossed over our region’s terrible racial history. Even today, kids are studying texts that Thompson rightfully labels “milquetoast” in their treatment of Southern history.

And recent election results suggest that the Southern mind hasn’t evolved much, that we’re not much different from what we were in 1936, when Faulkner was struggling yet again with the moral weirdness of the South. Almost 80 years later, it’s still too damned easy for folks to draw the conclusion that we Southerners are hopelessly bound to tradition, too resistant to change.

But there is another South, the one that we know: a South that is full of people who do things that honor genuinely honorable traditions. Drinking. Cooking. Reading. Writing. Singing. Playing. Making things. It’s also full of people who face our region’s contradictions and are determined to throw our dishonorable traditions out the window. The Bitter Southerner is here for Southern people who do cool things, smart things, things that change the whole world, or just a few minds at a time.

The world knows too little about these people, which is, alas, another reason to be bitter. But it prompted us to create The Bitter Southerner™.

We’re talking here about people whose work embodies what my old buddy Patterson Hood once called, in a song, “the duality of the Southern thing.” The purpose of The Bitter Southerner is to explore, from every angle we can, the duality of the Southern thing.

Last time I saw Patterson, we sat in his van outside Eddie’s Attic in Decatur, Ga.

We were talking about how his view had changed in the dozen or so years since he’d written that song.

To him, the 2012 election results brought clear evidence that we are moving into a more progressive era, and that our southern home might actually be following, however slowly. “We may actually wind up living in a more enlightened country,” he said, and laughed a little.

Still, the tension — the strain between pride and shame, that eternal duality of the Southern thing — remains. Lord knows, most folks outside the South believe — and rightly so — that most Southerners are kicking and screaming to keep the old South old. But many others, through the simple dignity of their work, are changing things.

“We may actually wind up living in a more enlightened country” ― PATTERSON HOOD of THE DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS


Patterson Hood and the Drive-By Truckers have released the overtly political new album ‘American Band.’
Al Pereira/GettyImages
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-country/inside-drive-by-truckers-controversial-new-album-american-band-107171/

Drive-By Truckers plays through the new record, American Band, in the opbmusic studio

We’re here to tell their stories. Over time, you’ll see many pieces about bartenders, because a) that’s where we started and b) we very much enjoy a great cocktail. After all, one Southern tradition worthy of honor is the act of drinking well. But we’ll also cover the musicians, cooks, designers, farmers, scientists, innovators, writers, thinkers and craftsmen. We’ll show you the spots that make the South a far better place than most folks think it is. You’ll also see essays, short stories and poems — pieces that Bitter Southerners like ourselves create as we wrestle with our region. And every now and then, we’ll give you a peek at the oddities that seem to happen only down here.

We hope you’ll enjoy The Bitter Southerner and spread the word about it. Help us round up other Bitter Southerners, no matter where they live.

We hope you’ll want to contribute to The Bitter Southerner. In fact, we need you to. Right now, we have no budget and a staff of volunteers, so we’re starting in our hometown of Atlanta. But we know there are others out there like us, people with the skills to capture a good story, or create one. Tell us your ideas. Let us know who you are.

The stories are out there, all over the South. They deserve to be told.

Until we tell them all, we will remain as bitter as Antoine Amedie Peychaud.

Welcome to The Bitter Southerner.

— Chuck Reece, Editor


The Bitter Southerner team Tim Turner, Eric NeSmith, Kyle Tibbs Jones, Dave Whitling, Chuck Reece and Butler Raines.
(Photo by Brinson + Banks)

Check it out @ http://bittersoutherner.com/

Drive-By Truckers’ Top 10 Songs

Ranking The Albums That Made The Drive-By Truckers A True American Band

http://ultimateclassicrock.com/drive-by-truckers-albums-ranked/

Stinking It Up At The Sinquefield Cup

The trio of announcers at the Sinquefield Cup were effusive during every round, especially during the final round. They did the best they could to put lipstick on a pig

but in the final analysis it was still a stinking pig. The gang mentioned the high percentage of draws and GM Yasser Seirawan said something like, “We haven’t noticed because of the quality of the draws.” Forty five games were played during the tournament with only eight of them ending decisively, which is 17.7%. There were nine rounds so the average was less than one win per round.

The announcers for MLBaseball teams are called “homers” for a reason. They are paid by the ball club so it is in their interest to put lipstick on their particular pig.

I am uncertain about who pays the announcers at the Sinquefield Cup, but it is more than a little obvious they want to continue being paid. It is in their interest to put as much lipstick on the Chess pig as possible. Because of this they lack objectivity. I am not being paid by anyone so can be objective. The tournament was B-O-R-I-N-G. To their credit, the announcing team of Yaz, Maurice, and Jen did the best they could to inject some excitement into the moribund tournament. The excitement certainly did not come from the players. The pigs were in full force and there was some reeking Chess played at what I have come to consider the Stinkfield Cup.

Hikaru Nakamura lost the last round game to World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen


Photo: Saint Louis Chess Club / Lennart Ootes

by first needlessly allowing Magnus a protected passed pawn. Later he exacerbated an already tenuous position by jettisoning a pawn for absolutely nothing, and was deservedly ground down by the ultimate grinder.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave managed to turn what should have been a win into a draw against Sergey Karjakin because he did not know how to play the endgame.

Wesley So and Fabiano Caruana played what was arguably the most boring game of the tournament in the last round and, guess what, it ended in a draw. Watching lipstick being put on a pig was better than watching the “game.” Here is what two Chess fans posted on the ChessBomb chat at the game:

Abraxas79: So will drop out of sight soon. Will be playing open tournaments with Kamsky
eddiemac: was being interviewed and said he be in a chess960 tourney in a few weeks. Should be more exciting than this dreary tourney.
(https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2018-sinquefield-cup/09-So_Wesley-Caruana_Fabiano)

The 71st Russian Chess Championship began less than a week ago with twelve players competing. After four rounds twenty four games have been played and seven of them have ended decisively. That is 29%. Not great, but much better than the paltry 18% of the Stinkfield Cup. At least there has been a decisive game in each of the four rounds of the Russian Championship. In the third round three games were decisive. Three of the rounds of the Stinkfield Cup finished without any decisive games.

Yaz can talk all he wants about “…the quality of the draws,” but the fact remains the games ended in yet another draw. There is not enough lipstick Yaz can smear to obviate the fact that pigs were stinking it up at the Sinquefield Cup. Chess fans want winners. Potential Chess fans do not understand the proliferation of draws; they want to see a WINNER.

The last round game causing much excitement was the game between Levon Aronian and Alexander Grischuk. Levon unsoundly sacrificed a rook on f7 and the game was all for Grischuk’s taking, but he had previously spent almost three quarters of an hour on one move which left him short of time. Still, I cannot imagine Bobby Fischer losing the game with the black pieces after 18 Rxf7 no matter how little time he had left. Give Bobby two or three minutes, maybe only one, and he would have won the game. Seriously, give Bobby only the thirty seconds added and he would have won that game!

“The Herceg Novi blitz event was the speed tournament of the 20th century. It had four world champions competing, and Bobby not only finished 4½ points ahead of Tal in second place, he also obliterated the Soviet contingent, 8½-1½, whitewashing Tal, Tigran Petrosian and Vasily Smyslov, six-zip; breaking even with Viktor Korchnoi; and defeating David Bronstein with a win and draw.” (http://www.thechessdrum.net/blog/2012/03/16/bobbys-blitz-chess/)

This was with a time limit of only FIVE minutes for the whole game! When I hear people talking about how strong are today’s Grandmasters and how the players of the 20th century would not stand a chance against the current top players I laugh. In his prime Bobby would have OBLITERATED these posers no matter the time control. Bobby played each and every game to WIN.

Because I played the Bird opening often, but not as many as the Atlanta player who became a NM using it exclusively, Adam Cavaney, who became an attorney and moved to New Orleans before hurricane Katrina, I paid close attention to the following game.

Let us review the aforementioned game between Alexander Grischuk and Wesley So from the penultimate round:

Alexander Grischuk vs Wesley So


Photo: V. Saravanan

Sinquefield Cup 2018 round 08

1. f4 Nf6 2. Nf3 b6 3. b3 Bb7 4. e3 g6 5. Bb2 Bg7 6. g3 O-O 7. Bg2 c5 8. c4 d5 9. O-O Nc6 10. Qe2 Rc8 11. d3 d4 12. exd4 Nxd4 13. Nxd4 Bxg2 14. Kxg2 cxd4 15. Na3 Nd7 16. Nc2 Nc5 17. f5 Qd7 18. g4 b5 19. Ba3 a5 20. Bxc5 Rxc5 21. Rae1 bxc4 22. bxc4 gxf5 23. gxf5 Rxf5 24. Rxf5 Qxf5 25. Qf3 Qg5+ 26. Kh1 Kh8 27. Rg1 Qh6 28. Qd5 Qd2 29. Nxd4 Qxa2 30. Qe4 Qb2 31. Nf5 Be5 32. Rg2 Qc1+ 33. Rg1 Qb2 34. Rg2 Qc1+ 35. Rg1 Qb2 36. Rg2 1/2-1/2

An analogous position after 7…c5 was reached by a different move order in this game:

David Bronstein (2585)

v Vladimir Tukmakov (2560)

Event: URS-ch40
Site: Baku Date: 11/23/1972
Round: 6
ECO: A01 Nimzovich-Larsen attack, symmetrical variation

1. b3 b6 2. Bb2 Bb7 3. e3 Nf6 4. f4 g6 5. Nf3 Bg7 6. g3 O-O 7. Bg2 c5 8. O-O Nc6 9. a4 d6 10. Na3 a6 11. Qe2 Rb8 12. d3 Ba8 13. c4 e6 14. Rfd1 Qe7 15. e4 Nd7 16. Bxg7 Kxg7 17. Nc2 e5 1/2-1/2
(https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=2419289&m=15)

After 13 moves this position appeared on the board:

I was certain Grischuk would play 14 Qxg2. He took with the King. In the old BC (before computer) days if one disagreed with a move a GM played we would defer to the GMs move because, well, you know, he was a Grandmaster. Still, with my limited understanding of the Royal game, my thinking was that now that the white squared bishop has left the board, what better piece to take it’s place than the Queen? Stockfish agrees.

This position was reached after 16 moves:

While Grischuk was thinking I thought he would first play 17 Ne1 followed by 18 Nf3, considerably improving the position of the woeful knight. After the game the Stockfish program at the ChessBomb made me feel like I knew something about how to play the Bird as it gives this variation as equal: 17. Ne1 e6 18. Nf3 Qd7 19. Kg1 Rfd8 20. Ba3 Qb7 21. Rae1 Bf8 22. Bb2 Bg7 23. Ba3. The clanking digital monster also shows 17 Ba3 as equal. The move Grishuk played, 17 f5, is not shown as one of the top four moves. His choice gives the advantage to black.

This position was reached after 22 moves:

SF shows 23. Qxe7 Qc6+ as best, but Grischuk played 23 gxf5. It is easy to see black has an increased advantage. After a few more moves were played we reach this position after white played 25 Qf3:

Wesley So could have simply dropped his queen back to e7 with a by now large advantage. IM Boris Kogan said, “Chess is simple. He attack, you defend. You attack, he defend. My retort was, “Maybe for you, Boris.” Wesley played 25…Qg5+, which still left him with an advantage. I was thinking, “Patzer sees a check and gives a check.”

We move along until his position was reached after 28 Qd5:

The two best moves according to SF are 28…Qf4 and/or Qb6. So played the fourth best move, 28…Qd2.

After 29…Qxa2 we come to this position:

30 Nc6 is the best move. Grischuk played the second best move, 30 Qe4.

Bobby Fischer

spoke of “critical positions.” This is one of them.

Wesley had far more time than his opponent at this point. I was therefore shocked when he took very little time to play 30…Qb2. I will admit the moved played was my first choice, but then I am not a GM. Faced with the same position Wesley So had on the board I would have probably played 30…Qb2. I followed the games at Mark Crowther’s wonderful site, The Week in Chess (http://theweekinchess.com/), because it has no engine analysis. After the game was concluded I went to the ChessBomb to see StockFish had given the move 30…Qf2 as much superior to the move played in the game. Initially flummoxed, I wondered if Wesley had taken more time, which would have meant more time for me to cogitate, would I have seen the much better 30…Qf2? Honesty compels me to think not, as 30…Qb2 attacks the knight and makes way for the passed a-pawn. What’s not to like? SF only gives 30…Qf2 followed by 31 Nc6, so I had to “dig deep” to understand the efficacy of moving the queen to f2. Fortunately for this old grasshopper there was understanding. Later I watched some of the coverage by Yaz, Maurice, and Jen. Maurice showed the engine they were using gave it as best. This begs the question, which engine were they using? I have yet to hear a name used for the “engine.” There are many “engines,” so why do they not inform we Chess fans which “engine” they utilize?

After 30…Qb2 Grischuk played 31 Nf5 (SF says Nf3 is a little better) and this position was reached:

I was thinking Wesley would play 31…Bf6, later learning SF shows it best. As a matter of fact, it is the only move to retain an advantage. Wesley So played the second choice of SF, 31…Be5, and the game sputtered to a draw, a fitting conclusion to a poorly played game by both players. So much for Yasser’s comment about “…quality of the draws.”

This is what Chess fans who chat at the ChessBomb thought about the ending of the game:

CunningPlan: I suspect draw agreed
dondiegodelavega: WTF???
BadHabitMarco: this cant have happened
rfa: yup draw
poppy_dove: BUG
dondiegodelavega: moving to twitter
CunningPlan: Maybe So missed Kxg1
jim: mdr
jim: Qxg1 wow
Frank200: hahahaha somebody was trolling
LarsBrobakken: no takebacks!
CunningPlan: So is a dirty rotten cheat
CunningPlan: Oh So. What a cop out.
rfa: 🙂
BadHabitMarco: devine intervention
Vladacval: phhhooogh
BadHabitMarco: divine
Vladacval: nice save!
jim: So touched accidentally the rook
poppy_dove: draw
dondiegodelavega: what a pussy!
CunningPlan: Grischuk deliberately dropped an eyelash on it to tempt So to brush it off
CunningPlan: Oldest trick in the book
CunningPlan: I’ve won many a game that way
BadHabitMarco: he was like “did you see that the felt was missing under my rook?”
https://www.chessbomb.com/arena/2018-sinquefield-cup/08-Grischuk_Alexander-So_Wesley

The Irrepressible Jude Acers

I first met Jude Acers when he came to Atlanta in the 1970’s to give a simultaneous exhibition at Lenox Square Mall. It opened in 1959 and is the oldest Mall in the South. Back then it was THE place to go, and Jude’s simul was covered by the press. This was during a time when Jude was traveling all over the country performing simultaneous exhibitions. Jude has written about those days and you can find some of the articles he wrote for the Berkeley Barb from 1972-1974 on the wonderful ChessDryad website containing California Chess History: (http://www.chessdryad.com/articles/acers/index.htm) One of his articles is entitled, “Atlanta at Dawn” The Road, Part 1 Berkeley Barb, Vol. 16, No. 23, Dec. 8-14, 1972. Another is, “Adventures in a Greyhound Terminal” The Road, Part XI Berkeley Barb, Aug. 2-8, 1974. I can identify with both of these articles. If Jude had not loved chess so much it is possible he could have been a great writer.
I took one of the boards that evening and admit to being one of Jude’s victims. There can be no doubt Jude helped popularize chess in those days. Jude was strong enough to draw a four game match with Mr. Six-Time, GM Walter Browne, if memory serves.
When Jude had enough of the road he settled in New Orleans, where he has been for decades. Please go to his website, http://classactionfilms.com/, where you will find a short film that captures the quintessential Jude. I promise it will be the best nine minutes of your day. It was one of the best parts of my yesterday. It shows Jude being, well, Jude!
Watching the film brought back memories of the time years ago when I had a job driving vehicles, mostly Bell South, to nine different southeastern states. If there were two or more vehicles they would go on a hauler, but if there was only one, someone would have to drive it, and that someone would be me. Some of the drivers were retired airline personnel and they managed to get home by flying free. I, on the other hand, had to pay to ride a Greyhound bus in order to return home. One of the possible trips was to Lake Charles, Louisiana. None of the other drivers wanted that trip, for various reasons, so I drove there often. I would then make my way back to New Orleans via bus, where I would have a twelve hour layover from seven pm until the Amtrak train left the next morning at 7 am. At that time I was still young enough to handle a night on Bourbon Street. Each and every night I spent there could be a chapter in the book of the Armchair Warrior.
I looked forward to the first trip in hopes of being able to get a chance to play Jude, because I wanted revenge. Every time I left the bus terminal heading for the French Quarter I would walk to the Gazebo, where Jude would be holding court. I do not recall how many times I made the trip, but I know he was always playing someone, and often more than one game was in progress. There always seemed to be ‘victims’ lined up, awaiting their chance for a crack at Jude. I would get something to drink, sit back and listen, while watching the show, for if he is nothing else, Jude is a showman. The show was invariably enjoyable.
The last time I made the trip, as luck would have it, Jude was alone at his table, going over a chess game from some magazine. He quickly put it away when he noticed me. I paid my five bucks and Jude allowed me to move first. I opened with the move known as “best by test,” 1 e4, and it was game on! Jude answered with 1…c6, the Caro-Kann, the opening I started playing after giving up my beloved Najdorf. I played the so-called “Fantasy” variation. My memory will only allow me to tell you I recall Jude bringing his Queen to h4 early in the game, and I somehow won a pawn. We reached an endgame and the place was closing, so I did the gentlemanly thing and offered Jude a draw. “Move,” was his reply. This infuriated me! How dare he turn refuse my offer? Did he think he could outplay me from a pawn down position in an endgame? I fortified myself for the battle to come, knowing that at the conclusion there would be blood spilled over the board, hopefully his! I managed to not blow it and cruised to a victory. “You sure took a lot of time,” was his comment after shaking hands. “What did you expect after turning down my draw offer? What, did you think you could beat me from that pawn down endgame position?” I made my way to the French Quarter ready to celebrate my victory with an adult beverage, while listening to some authentic jazz. I have drawn with dozens of chess masters, but beaten only a couple of handfuls, and that includes only one player who was not technically a NM, my friend the Discman. When I defeated Chris Chambers at the Tennessee Open in 1988 he had just returned from scoring 8 ½ points in the US Open, pushing his rating over the coveted 2200 mark. Anyone who can score 8 ½ out of 12 at the US Open ought to be considered a NM in my book. I have been fortunate enough to beat many players who later became NM’s, but the win over the irrepressible Jude will always have a special place in the book of the Armchair Warrior.
One of my trips driving a Bell South vehicle took me to Asheville, NC, in time for the Land of the Sky chess tournament, considered by many to be the best chess tournament in the South for over two decades. My friend Wilder Wadford is not getting any younger, so I urge you to start making plans to attend his excellent tournament after the first of the year. My friend, The Dude, aka Tim Bond, followed me and, once the mission had been completed, gave me a ride to the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, site of the LOTS, as it is known. On the way I mentioned my win over Jude in the French Quarter. “You beat Jude?” he said. “I played him ten times, drawing the first game, but losing the other nine.” A man does not make a living for decades playing chess by losing many games.
The Legendary Georgia Ironman and I made a trip to play in the Texas State Championship decades ago and Tim wanted to stop in New Orleans for lunch. After eating we walked over, finding Jude alone. Even though he was disappointed to hear we did not have time for a game, we were able to converse with him. I am uncertain when this occurred, but it was around the time when USCF began to rate quick chess. Jude managed to bring this fact into the conversation and it became a soliloquy. Jude was under the impression quick chess was going to revolutionize chess, exuberantly saying things like, “It will put money in every master’s pocket and a chicken in every pot! The future of chess is quick chess and it will bring in thousands, MILLIONS, of new players! It is the dawning of a new age of chess!” Jude was reeling with the feeling and got carried away, I suppose. His soliloquy lasted some time. He had to catch his breath and it was then we were able to take our leave. As we walked toward the car I could not help but notice the Ironman had been unusually quiet. I looked at him, noticing a strange look upon his face. I asked if everything was OK. “No, it’s not OK, Bacon. You do not understand… that man was my childhood hero. I got into chess after playing in one of his simuls, and now I find him a raving lunatic!” Tim had not been around Jude like I had and therefore had little understanding. I thought Tim was being a little harsh and had to stifle a laugh. “Look Tim, that’s just Jude’s shtick. He’s a character, which is what makes him what he is. That’s one of the best things about chess, the different characters one meets.” We walked on quietly until the Ironman said, “I guess you’re right, Bacon.”
When Hurricane Katrina hit and the Bushwhackers did nothing but look on from the window of a plane, my thoughts, like many others, went to Jude, wondering if he had made it. Hearing the first report that Jude was alive caused great relief.
I was elated upon learning Jude was participating in the World Senior Championships in 2008. He has played in each tournament since then and he is always my “horse.” As David Spinks was fond of saying, “It is not fun unless you have someone to pull for.”
I urge you to spend less than ten minutes of your time watching the aforementioned film because Jude is definitely sui generis. Read this article to learn why Jude wears a red beret, and what is buried in GM Arthur Dake’s coffin: http://www.nwchess.com/articles/people/dinner_with_Acers.htm
To learn more about one of the true characters of chess, and a real chess hero, go to Jude’s website: http://judeacers.com/
For the chance of a lifetime, please go here: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/304635435/the-man-in-the-red-beret