Everybody Hurts

Children called for help from inside classrooms in Uvalde. The police waited.

UVALDE, Texas — Furtively, speaking in a whisper, a fourth-grade girl dialed the police. Around her, in Room 112 at Robb Elementary School, were the motionless bodies of her classmates and scores of spent bullet casings fired by a gunman who had already been inside the school for half an hour.

She whispered to a 911 operator, just after noon, that she was in the classroom with the gunman. She called back again. And again. “Please send the police now,” she begged.

J. David Goodman, Edgar Sandoval, Karen Zraick and Rick Rojas

Hymn for the Hurting
May 27, 2022, 5:17 p.m. ET

By Amanda Gorman

Everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed and strange,
Minds made muddied and mute.
We carry tragedy, terrifying and true.
And yet none of it is new;
We knew it as home,
As horror,
As heritage.
Even our children
Cannot be children,
Cannot be.

Everything hurts.
It’s a hard time to be alive,
And even harder to stay that way.
We’re burdened to live out these days,
While at the same time, blessed to outlive them.

This alarm is how we know
We must be altered —
That we must differ or die,
That we must triumph or try.
Thus while hate cannot be terminated,
It can be transformed
Into a love that lets us live.

May we not just grieve, but give:
May we not just ache, but act;
May our signed right to bear arms
Never blind our sight from shared harm;
May we choose our children over chaos.
May another innocent never be lost.

Maybe everything hurts,
Our hearts shadowed & strange.
But only when everything hurts
May everything change.

Amanda Gorman

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/amanda-gorman-writes-poem-school-shooting-uvalde-texas-rcna30555

is a poet and the author of “The Hill We Climb,” “Call Us What We Carry” and “Change Sings.”

The Third Baseman’s Gambit

The Third Baseman’s Gambit

Manny Machado of the San Diego Padres is the hottest hitter in baseball, and he is coming for your Queen.

Manny Machado frequently takes on teammates and coaches on a pair of chess sets at Petco Park in San Diego.Credit…Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres

By Scott Miller
May 13, 2022

SAN DIEGO — The pawns are lined up and the gleaming white knight stands ready to attack. The game will resume, again, as soon as the hitters’ meeting is finished and sometime before the star third baseman lights up a box score.

Given Manny Machado’s torrid start for the San Diego Padres this season, it would be predictable to joke that the five-time All-Star is playing chess while his peers are playing checkers. But in Machado’s case, it is also true: When he’s not battering opposing pitchers and stealing hits with acrobatic defensive plays, Machado can be found keeping his mind sharp with quiet contemplation at a chess board.

“Chess is interesting,” said Machado, who learned the game from Brady Anderson, the former player and Orioles executive, in Baltimore in 2017. “It’s something you can’t just go play. You’ve got to think ahead to what your opponent is thinking, what he’s trying to do to you, how he’s trying to attack you.”

The game intrigued Machado from the beginning. He keeps a board on a small table between his locker and his clubhouse neighbor, Fernando Tatis Jr., has another board in the nearby players’ lounge; and plays at home during the winter with his father-in-law, Luis Alonso, who is the father of the former major leaguer Yonder Alonso.

When Tatis Jr. revealed last season that he occasionally plays chess, Machado began bringing a board to the park for matches in his downtime, just like the ones he had played in Baltimore.

“If you play every day, you’re in a battle with him,” said Wayne Kirby, the Mets’ first-base coach and a regular opponent of Machado’s, both in Baltimore and again last summer in San Diego.

So many Orioles would play chess in Machado’s time there that players would wait in line and call “I got next” as if at a court for a pickup basketball game, Kirby said, and eventually the team kept three chess boards in the clubhouse and a traveling board for road trips. Machado said he is still recruiting new opponents in San Diego, having thus far matched wits with outfielders Wil Myers and Trayce Thompson, who this week was designated for assignment (in baseball, not in chess). Machado has also played a little with Tatis Jr.

His regular opponent, though, is Michael Brdar, San Diego’s first-year hitting coach.

“It’s been fun,” Brdar said. “He’s good. He’s very good.”

Machado vividly remembers the first time he and his main Orioles nemesis, Jonathan Schoop, played a game. It was in Seattle in 2017, Machado said. Both were beginners then, so raw that Machado said their first game lasted only about three minutes.

“We both sucked,” Machado said. “It was interesting to pick up and learn from it.”

Machado and Schoop had ascended together through Baltimore’s farm system and were competitive in everything, including who had the strongest throwing arm. They continued improving as chess players until their matches became something close to an addiction, complete with trash talking that still echoes today.

Who won more?

“Come on, that’s not even a question,” said Schoop, who now plays second base (and plenty of chess) for the Detroit Tigers. “I let him beat me a couple of times just to make him feel good. If we played 100 times, he’d beat me maybe 10 times.”

Machado laughs when this is relayed to him — and corrects Schoop’s math.

“Honestly, in the beginning it was a little rough because he knew a little more than I did when I started,” Machado said. “But once I learned how to do a couple of moves, he had no chance against me. Now, it’s probably 70/30 — I’m 70, he’s 30.”

Machado then upped the ante: “I don’t think he could win a game against me now. He won’t even get his Queen out of the way. He’d be done.”

Schoop, though, claims to know “all of Manny’s moves,” especially one tendency in particular. “If you take the horse away from him,” he said, referring to the knight, “he’s done.”

Kirby concurred. “The horse is huge for Manny,” he said. “He likes that horsey.”

Kirby and Schoop said games between the players would sometimes devolve into arguments because both were so competitive. Sometimes, Schoop said, Machado would accuse him of cheating.

“They wouldn’t get to 100 games, they’d be arguing too much,” Kirby said. “They’d get into it because once you touch your queen or something, and then take your hand off of it, you’re done. Both of them would be claiming they didn’t take their hand off a piece.”

Brdar, who started playing chess after watching “The Queen’s Gambit” two winters ago, suggested there can be a link between chess and hitting.

“You’re going to make a bad move in chess, and a lot of times it’s how you recover from that instead of letting it leak into two, three, four bad moves in a row,” Brdar said. “That’s similar to hitting.

“You’re going to chase a pitch here and there, you’re going to miss a mistake here and there. But more often than not it’s about what you do the next two, three, four pitches after that, or the next two, three, four at-bats after that. I think there are definite parallels.”

Machado agreed, noting that “you’re training your brain to do something right. People read, people do little puzzles to activate their mind.”

For Machado, chess fills that role.

He and Brdar play “slow” games on the board in front of Machado’s locker — if the hitting coach walks through the clubhouse and sees Manny has made a move, for example, Brdar will stop and make his own, and vice versa. Then, after the hitters’ meeting or batting practice, they’ll play longer games on the board in the players’ lounge.

“Right now he plays a fianchetto with his bishop,” Brdar said of Machado’s opening strategy in many games. “So he likes to have his bishop have the whole visual diagonally of the whole board.”

“That’s my move,” Machado said. “When I saw ‘The Queen’s Gambit,’ I didn’t really know the names at the time. I still don’t that much. I know a few. But it’s all about openings. If you put yourself in a good position and start attacking in a certain way and you stick to it, you can do it. That’s one of the moves I use the most.”

Brdar proudly reports that he has learned to shut down that move. Machado ruefully admits that in their games so far this season, the hitting coach has won three times and Machado only once, with one tie.

“But it’s a long year,” Machado said. “Things change. It’s just like baseball. You go on a hot streak, you go on a cold streak. I’m on my cold streak right now.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/sports/baseball/manny-machado-chess.html

Putin Has Weaponized Conspiracy Theories

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/25/opinion/putin-russia-conspiracy-theories.html

The Five Conspiracy Theories That Putin Has Weaponized
April 25, 2022, 1:00 a.m. ET
By Ilya Yablokov

Mr. Yablokov is a historian of Russian media and the author of “Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World.”

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is driven by conspiracy theories.

For two decades, journalists and officials, in concert with the Kremlin, have merrily spread disinformation. However far-fetched or fantastical — that the C.I.A. was plotting to oust Mr. Putin from power, for example — these tales served an obvious purpose: to bolster the regime and guarantee public support for its actions. Whatever the personal views of members of the political establishment, it seemed clear that the theories played no role in political calculations. They were stories designed to make sense of what the regime, for its own purposes, was doing.

Not anymore. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two months ago, the gap between conspiracy theory and state policy has closed to a vanishing point. Conspiratorial thinking has taken complete hold of the country, from top to bottom, and now seems to be the motivating force behind the Kremlin’s decisions. And Mr. Putin — who previously kept his distance from conspiracy theories, leaving their circulation to state media and second-rank politicians — is their chief promoter.

It is impossible to know what is inside Mr. Putin’s head, of course. But to judge from his bellicose and impassioned speeches before the invasion and since then, he may believe the conspiracy theories he repeats. Here are five of the most prevalent theories that the president has endorsed, with increasing fervor, over the past decade. Together, they tell a story of a regime disintegrating into a morass of misinformation, paranoia and mendacity, at a terrible cost to Ukraine and the rest of the world.

The West wants to carve up Russia’s territory

In 2007, at his annual national news conference, Mr. Putin was asked a strange question. What did he think about the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s comment that Russia’s natural riches should be redistributed and controlled by America? Mr. Putin replied that such ideas were shared by “certain politicians” but he didn’t know about the remark.

That’s because it was entirely made up. Journalists at Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a state-owned newspaper, had invented the quote on the grounds that Russian intelligence was able to read Ms. Albright’s mind.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/25/opinion/putin-russia-conspiracy-theories.html

“Eye In The Sky”

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of chances before
But I ain’t gonna give anymore
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
‘Cause part of me knows what you’re thinking

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind
So find another fool like before
Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/alanparsonsproject/eyeinthesky.html

For Valerie

Oh Atlanta

The following picture greeted me this morning when I surfed on over to the website of the New York Times in an article:

Cities Lost Population in 2021, Leading to the Slowest Year of Growth in U.S. History

Although some of the fastest growing regions in the country continued to grow, the gains were nearly erased by stark losses in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Atlanta is growing, which isn’t true of other major cities. Credit…Audra Melton for The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/24/us/census-2021-population-growth.html)

In Dreams

Why We Dream About Past Loves

And what the dreams can teach us about our own yearnings, then and now.

Linda Merad

By Lindsay Goldwert
Feb. 23, 2022

If you’ve slept, perchance you have dreamed about an ex and woken up wondering, “What was that all about?”

The good news for chronic analyzers: An intense dream about a person you cared about months or even decades ago doesn’t mean you’re secretly pining for them. Deirdre Barrett, a dream researcher at Harvard University and the author of “Pandemic Dreams” and “The Committee of Sleep,” who has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, said that a number of factors can spark a dream about an ex-partner.

“Triggers can include an anniversary of a death or a breakup or a divorce decree,” she said. “But dreams can also be a reaction to how we feel about our present relationships.”

Instead of looking at dreams about exes as a sign of still being hung up on them or as a signal to look them up on social media, Dr. Barrett said to think of them as a chance to examine your current emotions and how you’re coping with them.

“The whole idea that we process deaths or breakups in an ‘all or nothing’ way is deceptive,” Dr. Barrett said. “Life is a continuous ‘getting over it.’ These things never fully disappear.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/style/dreams-about-an-ex-love.html)

Casablanca

The movie Casablanca premiered in New York City 79 years ago today, in 1942. The film starred Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, with notable support by Claude Rains and Paul Henreid. It’s the story of a cynical American expat, Rick Blaine, who runs a bar in Morocco’s largest city during World War II. He’s unexpectedly reunited with his former love, Ilsa, who is now married to a leader of the French Resistance. By the end of the movie, Rick finds he still has a selfless heart under his bitter exterior. The movie was originally intended for release in January 1943, and that is when it came out in the rest of the country, but the producers moved up the New York premiere to take advantage of the free publicity surrounding the landing of Allied forces in North Africa.

The film was based on an unproduced play called Everybody Comes to Rick’s, by Murray Burnett and Joan Alison. A story analyst called it “sophisticated hokum,” but recommended it to Warner Bros. anyway. Unlike most movies, Casablanca was filmed in story order rather than out of sequence, because the screenplay was only half done by the time filming began. Ingrid Bergman wrote in her autobiography, My Story (1980): “We were shooting off the cuff. Every day they were handing out dialogue and we were trying to make some sense of it. Every morning we would say, ‘Well, who are we? What are we doing here?’ And [director] Michael Curtiz would say, ‘We’re not quite sure, but let’s get through this scene today and we’ll let you know tomorrow.’” She didn’t know which man her character ended up with until the final scene was filmed.

The movie was filmed almost entirely indoors, because a Japanese submarine had been spotted off the coast of California and everyone was worried that Japan might attack the mainland. The production crew also had to cope with war rationing and shortages of things like rubber and aluminum. They couldn’t use nylon or silk in the costumes, so Ingrid Bergman wore cotton.

Casablanca received great reviews, but at the time most people just seemed to think it was going to be one of many boilerplate movies intended to raise American morale during World War II. The New York Times wrote, “Yes, indeed, the Warners here have a picture which makes the spine tingle and the heart take a leap.” The Hollywood Reporter called it “a drama that lifts you right out of your seat” and added, “Certainly a more accomplished cast of players cannot be imagined.” Variety wrote, “Casablanca will take the [box offices] of America just as swiftly as the AEF took North Africa.” Another reviewer said, “It certainly won’t make Vichy happy — but that’s just another point for it.” It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, and won three of them: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Not every critic since the movie’s release has considered it a masterpiece, however. Pauline Kael said, “It’s far from a great film, but it has a special appealingly schlocky romanticism, and you’re never really pressed to take its melodramatic twists and turns seriously.” (https://www.garrisonkeillor.com/radio/twa-the-writers-almanac-for-november-26-2021/)

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 Covid-19 Blues

The risks of unvaccinated unmasking

A detailed new study from the C.D.C. found that an unvaccinated elementary school teacher in Marin County, Calif., spread the coronavirus to half of her 24-student class in May and June when she lowered her mask to read aloud, in violation of the district’s rules.

Twelve of her students, who were masked but too young to be vaccinated, subsequently contracted the virus. The Delta variant outbreak subsequently spread to at least 26 people.

“I thought I respected its contagiousness,” Dr. Lisa Santora, deputy health officer the Marin Health and Human Services and an author of the report, said of the Delta variant. But its efficiency in overtaking the classroom “surprised and humbled” her.

Bibb County, Georgia, Schools sends classes home for remote learning

The district says they made the decision after seeing rising COVID-19 cases

“In reviewing the number of COVID-19 cases for schools each day, officials noticed the number of positive COVID-19 cases is slowly increasing in these schools,” according to a Bibb County Schools press release. “In order to ensure the safety and wellness of our students and staff, we made the decision to switch these schools to asynchronous learning for a brief period. This will help reduce any possible spread of COVID-19.”

Bibb County sends thousands of students to remote learning | Macon Telegraph

Love Song of the South

I was born in the South, seventy one years ago one week from today, in the back seat of a ’49 Ford convertible on the way to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, as the story goes. When I leave the South it is akin to what most of you feel when you leave the country. When I am out of the South I feel like the world is a tuxedo and I am a brown shoe. Coming back to the South feels like returning home.

There was a time, before the War Between the States (I refuse to call it by the more popular name because, as the writer Shelby Foote

https://memphismagazine.com/downloads/10364/download/Groppe%202-9-S1-0001_1_desaturated.jpg?cb=3cd11cb4fd1d8d90371292603159f1fd&w=-1
An Interview with Shelby Foote – Memphis magazine
memphismagazine.com

so eloquently said, “There was nothing civil about that war.”) when the South led the nation in most everything. It was easy to accumulate wealth when not having to pay for the work done by enslaved people. I rue the day the northern people brought Africans here to be enslaved, against the wishes of the Southern people, I might add. It should go without saying, but I will say it anyway, no human should ever be enslaved because, well, you know, how would you like to be a slave?

https://www.azquotes.com/picture-quotes/quote-people-want-to-know-why-the-south-is-so-interested-in-the-civil-war-i-had-maybe-it-s-shelby-foote-62-70-61.jpg

Once again the South is leading the nation, but not in a good way. This is a map of the somewhat United States copied today from the New York Times. The darker the color the more the Covid:

https://static01.nyt.com/newsgraphics/2021/coronavirus-tracking/images/maps/USA/hotspots-state.png
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases.html

USCF Drops Set & Clock

This is not a post I wanted to write, but it needs to be written. I followed the action at the 2021 US Open last week and immensely enjoyed the time spent watching. There were several interesting articles posted at the USCF website by J.J. Lang (https://new.uschess.org/author/jj-lang) during the event. I found an interesting game from round seven which became a post (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/08/09/nm-steven-cookley-vs-im-victor-matviishen-us-open-round-7-bishops-opening/). In addition I managed to utilize two games from the last round which became the two previous posts. To do so I had to transfer all of the moves from the online DGT board to the analysis board at 365Chess (https://www.365chess.com/analysis_board.php). It would have made my task easier if the USCF had broadcast the games at ChessBomb (https://www.chessbomb.com/), or Chess24 (https://chess24.com/en). The Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy broadcast all their tournaments at Chess24, and also at the ChessBomb, as does the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco for their Tuesday Night Marathon (https://www.milibrary.org/chess). Yet the National Chess Organization, the United States Chess Federation broadcast the games on DGT in lieu of the much more popular previously named venues. Go figure…This matters because there is an immediacy today that was lacking ‘back in the day’. For example, back in that day and age one waited until the next issue of Chess Life appeared to see the games. During the Karpov vs Kasparov clashes, while driving a taxi for Buckhead Safety Cab overnight, I would nab the early edition of the New York Times newspaper, knowing which hotel was the first stop, to see the moves from the World Championship match. There is no waiting today, as one can watch the games in real time. Therefore, it is really true that by tomorrow everything is “yesterday’s news.”

While watching the last round of the US Open online I had a brainstorm, or fart, depending on how one looks at it, I suppose. Thing is, I have recently been helping a father of two children who were captivated by The Queen’s Gambit to learn the ropes, so to speak. One day he asked about the names of the openings and I was attempting to explain how an opening could start with one name but change to another by transposition. With that in mind I decided to go to 365Chess and copy the new names of the opening with the twelve games given on the DGT boards. My intention was to wait until they were posted at the USCF website and download them, saving me all the time necessary to transcribe all twelve games. As stated, I did record the two aforementioned games, which can be found in the two previous posts. Unfortunately, the games were not forthcoming. They did not appear Monday, the day after the event and neither did the final article at the USCF website. Ditto for Tuesday, the tenth of August. Finally, Wednesday morning, there was an article concerning the 2021 US Open, but it was not at the USCF website, but at Chessbase! The title read, U.S. Open: Chess games, awards, signings, meetings, by Alexy Root. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/u-s-open-chess-games-awards-signings-meetings) Hooray! I thought, but was soon disabused of that euphoric feeling when reading the article and finding only three, THREE!, games out of the many thousands of Chess games played during the US Open! Frankly, the article, although well written and somewhat interesting, was far below the usual Chessbase standard of excellence. The article contains what the title proclaims, which is much fluff; the kind of thing one expects from Chess Life magazine, or an USCF online article. I refuse to bore you with the details. After a quick check at the USCF website I see an article by J.J. Lang has finally been posted. (https://new.uschess.org/news/victor-goes-spoils) It is dated August 11, but I did not see it on the website yesterday, but I did turn in about eleven, leaving an hour for it to be posted…Seriously, I cannot recall the time the last time I looked for the article, so maybe it was posted earlier, but I would not wager on that being the case. I did not check this morning as was done each previous day because, frankly, I had given up all hope of ever seeing a final article on the 2021 US Open…

Every day I went to the USCF webpage looking for the last round, the ninth round, games to be posted. I just looked at four pm, August 12, 2021 and the last round games have still NOT BEEN POSTED! Check for yourself here (http://www.uschess.live/). It is sad…pitiful, really…In addition, the fifth round games cannot be downloaded, and have never been able to be downloaded…I asked someone to check and he, too, was unable to download the fifth round games.

So here’s the deal…What I am about to give you is my working notes, excepting the two aforementioned games already posted, to what would, and could have been a post about the top twelve games of the 2021 US Open. There were some interesting games and theoretical novelties in the opening, but you would not have known that if up to the USCF. That has got to say something about the organization, and I use the word loosely. Someone dropped the King, or Queen, or Rook, or even the Bishop and Knight, along with the pawns, and even the CLOCK, on this one.

Before reading the following please keep this in mind:

https://quotefancy.com/media/wallpaper/3840x2160/2360539-George-R-R-Martin-Quote-Writing-is-like-sausage-making-in-my-view.jpg

Board one: C01 French, exchange variation

Board two: B12 Caro-Kann, advance variation

Board three: After move 2: A48 King’s Indian, East Indian defence
After White move 3: E60 King’s Indian, 3.Nf3
After Black move 4: D90 Gruenfeld, Three knights variation
After White move 5: D91 Gruenfeld, 5.Bg5

Board four: After Black first move: B06 Robatsch (modern) defence. Timur came up with TN of 4…Nf6!

Board five: After Black 3…Nf6: C11 French defence
After White 4 e5: C11 French, Steinitz variation
After White 7 Be3: C11 French, Steinitz, Boleslavsky variation

Board six: After first move: C20 King’s pawn game
After White second move: C40 King’s knight opening
After Black second move: C44 King’s pawn game
After White third move: C60 Ruy Lopez (Spanish opening)
After White fourth move: C70 Ruy Lopez
After Black fourth move: C77 Ruy Lopez, Morphy defence
After White fifth move: C78 Ruy Lopez, 5.O-O
After Black fifth move: C78 Ruy Lopez, Moeller defence

Board seven: After first White move: A10 English opening
After first Black move: A20 English opening

Schmakel played 8…h5 (TN)

Nakamura, Hikaru (2746)
Caruana, Fabiano (2832)
Event: 10th London Classic 2018
Site: London ENG Date: 12/13/2018
Round: 1.3 Score: ½-½
ECO: A20 English opening
1.c4 e5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.Nf3 e4 5.Nd4 Qb6 6.Nc2 d5 7.O-O dxc4 8.Nc3 Na6 9.d3 exd3 10.exd3 Be7 11.Re1 Be6 12.dxc4 O-O 13.Be3 Qa5 14.Bd2 Qb6 15.Na4 Qd8 16.b3 Re8 17.Bc3 Nc5 18.Bxf6 Qxd1 19.Raxd1 gxf6 20.Nc3 f5 21.Ne2 Bf6 22.Ned4 Rad8 23.Bh3 f4 24.Nxe6 Rxd1 25.Rxd1 Nxe6 26.Bxe6 Rxe6 27.Kf1 b5 28.cxb5 cxb5 29.gxf4 Re4 30.f5 Kg7 31.Rd5 a6 32.Rd6 Rh4 33.Ne3 a5 34.Ra6 a4 35.bxa4 bxa4 36.Kg2 Rd4 37.Kf3 h5 38.Ra5 Rh4 39.Kg2 Rf4 40.Kg3 Rb4 41.Nd5 Bh4+ 42.Kg2 Rd4 43.f6+ Kg6 44.Kf3 Bg5 45.h3 h4 46.Rb5 Bxf6 47.Ke3 Rd1 48.Nf4+ Kg7 49.Ra5 Rh1 50.Kf3 Rh2 51.Nh5+ Kg6 52.Nf4+ Kg7 53.Rxa4 Be5 54.Kg4 Rxf2 55.Nd3 Rg2+ 56.Kf5 Bg3 57.Nf4 Rf2 58.Kg4 Bxf4 59.Rxf4 Rxa2 60.Kxh4 Ra6 61.Rg4+ Kh7 62.Rf4 Kg7 63.Rg4+ Kh7 64.Rf4 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4158698&m=15

Board eight: After White first move: A04 Reti opening
Aftere White second move: A07 Reti, King’s Indian attack (Barcza system)

7 Bb2 is a TN by FM Dov Gorman

Ladva, Ottomar (2513)
Sorensen, Hampus (2364)
Event: European Rapid 2019
Site: Tallinn EST Date: 12/05/2019
Round: 2.29 Score: 1-0
ECO: A07 Reti, King’s Indian attack (Barcza system)
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nd7 3.d4 Nb6 4.Bg2 Bf5 5.O-O e6 6.b3 c6 7.Nbd2 h6 8.Bb2 Nf6 9.a4 Bb4 10.c3 Be7 11.Ne5 Nbd7 12.Nxd7 Qxd7 13.a5 O-O 14.b4 Qc7 15.Qb3 Rfc8 16.Rfe1 Bh7 17.e3 Bd3 18.c4 dxc4 19.Nxc4 Bxc4 20.Qxc4 Nd5 21.Ba3 b6 22.e4 Nf6 23.Rec1 Qd8 24.Bb2 Rab8 25.axb6 Qxb6 26.d5 exd5 27.exd5 Nxd5 28.Bxd5 cxd5 29.Qxc8+ Rxc8 30.Rxc8+ Kh7 31.Rd1 Bxb4 32.Bd4 Qe6 33.Rcc1 a5 34.Rb1 h5 35.h4 Qe4 36.Ra1 Qc2 37.Be3 Qf5 38.Bb6 Bc3 39.Rac1 Qe5 40.Rd3 d4 41.Rcd1 g6 42.Bxd4 Bxd4 43.Rxd4 Kg7 44.Ra4 f5 45.Rd7+ Kh6 46.Ra7 Qe1+ 47.Kg2 Qc3 48.Ra6 Qc2 49.R6xa5 Qc6+ 50.Kh2 Qb6 51.Ra2 f4 52.Ra6 fxg3+ 53.fxg3 Qe3 54.Ra7 Qd4 55.Rf7 Qd5 56.Raa7 Qd2+ 57.Kh3 1-0

Board nine: After Black first move: B20 Sicilian defence
After White second move: B27 Sicilian defence
After Black second move: B30 Sicilian defence
After White third move: B30 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rossolimo attack (without …d6)
After black third move: B31 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rossolimo attack (with …g6, without …d6)

Ennsberger, Ulrich (2368)
Breder, Dennis (2438)
Event: TCh-AUT 2012-13
Site: Hohenems AUT Date: 11/04/2012
Round: 3.5 Score: 0-1
ECO: B31 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rossolimo attack (with …g6, without …d6)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.O-O Bg7 6.d3 e5 7.a3 a5 8.a4 Ne7 9.Nbd2 d6 10.Nc4 f5 11.Bg5 f4 12.h3 Be6 13.Ra3 h6 14.Bxe7 Qxe7 15.Re1 g5 16.Nh2 h5 17.f3 Kf7 18.Rb3 Ra7 19.Qe2 Bf6 20.c3 Qc7 21.Ra3 Rb7 22.Ra2 Kg7 23.Raa1 Re8 24.Rad1 Rbb8 25.Rd2 Re7 26.Qd1 Kh8 27.Rf1 Rg7 28.Qe1 Rbg8 29.g4 Rh7 30.Rg2 Rb8 31.Rff2 Kg7 32.Qd1 Kg6 33.Qc2 hxg4 34.hxg4 Rbh8 35.Qb3 d5 36.Nd2 c4 37.Qc2 cxd3 38.Qxd3 Kg7 39.Qa6 Bc8 40.Qd3 Qb6 41.Ndf1 Ba6 42.Qc2 Be7 43.exd5 cxd5 44.Qf5 Qf6 45.Qd7 Qd6 46.Qf5 Rf8 47.Qb1 Qg6 48.Qd1 Bd3 49.Rd2 e4 50.Rxd3 exd3 51.Rd2 Rfh8 52.Rxd3 Qb6+ 53.Kg2 Qh6 54.Rxd5 Qxh2+ 0-1
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=3833698&m=14

Board ten: After Black second move: B30 Sicilian defence

Board eleven: After first White move: A40 Queen’s pawn
After first Black move: D00 Queen’s pawn game
After second White move: D06 Queen’s Gambit
After second Black move: D10 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav defence
After third White move: D10 Queen’s Gambit Declined Slav defence, exchange variation

Board twelve: After third White move: C03 French, Tarrasch
After third black move: C05 French, Tarrasch, closed variation
After sixth black move: C05 French, Tarrasch, Botvinnik variation

10 a4 by IM Alexander Katz appears to be new move.

https://quotefancy.com/media/wallpaper/1600x900/28999-John-Greenleaf-Whittier-Quote-Of-all-sad-words-of-tongue-or-pen.jpg