Fishing Contest Hooked, Lined, and Sinkered by Cheating!

Fishing Contest Rocked by Cheating Charges After Weights Found in Winning Catches

Two competitors stuffed walleye with lead balls in a scheme that was caught after the tournament director and attendees grew suspicious.

By Vimal Patel
Oct. 2, 2022

Jason Fischer became suspicious when the five fish he estimated to be about four pounds each — or 20 pounds total — weighed in at nearly 34 pounds. Attendees at a fishing tournament in Cleveland on Friday also had doubts. “No way,” one man said.

Mr. Fischer, the director of the tournament, known as the Lake Erie Walleye Trail, inspected one of the walleye and felt a hard object in its stomach that seemed unnatural. “It’s not like they’re eating rocks,” he said.

He grabbed a knife and sliced open the fish as Jacob Runyan, one member of the two-person team that presented it for weighing, looked on. The next moments rocked the competitive fishing world.

“We got weights in fish!” Mr. Fischer shouted, holding up an egg-sized lead ball he plucked from the fish in a dramatic moment captured on videos posted online.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/02/us/fishing-tournament-cheating-scandal-lake-erie.html

Caught hook, line and sinker! Moment LEAD WEIGHTS are found in professional fishing duo’s catch and they are stripped of tournament title and $5,000 prize – as furious crowd berates them

Chase Cominsky and Jake Runyon were stripped of their winning title after a tournament official discovered lead weights inside the fish they caught
The anglers had been competing in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail Championship
Suspicions were raised at the weigh-in when their fish weighed almost double their closest competitor
In the world of competitive fishing, by adding the weights to the fish, Cominsky and Runyon’s total poundage increased and put them on top of the leaderboard
When the weights were discovered, the duo was disqualified from the event
The waiting crowd were furious once the officials announced they had cheated
Prior to the scandal, Cominsky and Runyon were leading the season standings for the professional fishing team of the year
Cominsky and Runyon have been embroiled in controversy in the past
At last year’s Fall Brawl fishing tournament, the duo was disqualified following their win after one of them failed a polygraph test

By James Gordon For Dailymail.com

Published: 21:22 EDT, 1 October 2022

She’s Come Undone

She’s Come Undone (on Purpose)

The jeans of the young and stylish are unzipped, unbuttoned and unbothered. Why?

By Shane O’Neill

Published Sept. 16, 2022Updated Sept. 21, 2022

Prisha Jain, a student at New York University. Credit…Gabby Jones for The New York Times

If you see a young person strolling down the street, pants undone, it’s probably not an “examine your zipper” situation.

Once the province of your uncle after Thanksgiving dinner or a practical adaptation to a pregnant belly, sporting unbuttoned jeans has become a fashion statement.

“The zipper did fall a little bit, but my pants didn’t fall off,” Katie Pettit said of a pair of Levi’s that a stylist recommended she wear unbuttoned and folded down.Credit…Gabby Jones for The New York Times


https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/style/shes-come-undone-on-purpose.html

Dedicated to Kevin Spraggett

Magnus vs Hans: The Loser Is Chess!

One of the best things about the Atlanta Chess and Game Center was the multifarious people, who came from every walk of life while having one thing in common: Chess. I thought of this while reading an article in the New York Times, How to Change Minds? A Study Makes the Case for Talking It Out. Below the title one finds the main point of the article: Researchers found that meaty conversations among several people can align beliefs and brain patterns — so long as the group is free of blowhards. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/science/group-consensus-persuasion-brain-alignment.html)

There were the habitués who would pontificate loudly, but usually anyone could get a chance to put in their two cents worth. There were a few blowhards and occasionally the Forhorn would blow. During the time spent working there it became obvious the blowhards were all far right of the political spectrum. One extremely strident wrong-winger lost it once, balling up his fist before slamming it into the glass counter top, shattering the glass. He was never seen again, thankfully.

From the article:

“Conversation is our greatest tool to align minds,” said Thalia Wheatley, a social neuroscientist at Dartmouth College who advises Dr. Sievers. “We don’t think in a vacuum, but with other people.” The new study “suggests that the degree of similarity in brain responses depends not only on people’s inherent predispositions, but also the common ground created by having a conversation,” Dr. Leong said.

The experiment also underscored a dynamic familiar to anyone who has been steamrollered in a work meeting: An individual’s behavior can drastically influence a group decision. Some of the volunteers tried to persuade their groupmates of a cinematic interpretation with bluster, by barking orders and talking over their peers. But others — particularly those who were central players in the students’ real-life social networks — acted as mediators, reading the room and trying to find common ground. (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/09/16/science/group-consensus-persuasion-brain-alignment.html)

There were myriad “meaty conversations” at the House of Pain. The President of the Georgia Chess Association, Scott Parker, was also the Tournament Director at many events. Scott was called, “The Sheriff” behind his back because he did not care to be called “Sheriff,” but with his ramrod straight deportment it fit. When The Sheriff was in the House the conversations may have been “meaty” but they were “conversations,” not shouting matches. Scott was, whether he likes it or not, The Sheriff because of the respect everyone at the House had for him.

Writing these words caused me to reflect upon those days and nights at the House and how little conversation has been engaged during the pandemic. A phone call is not the same as actually watching someone engaged in conversation; nor is an email. With that in mind I have recently been reading comments left at various websites concerning the Magnus Freak Out affair. I spent time reading the comments left by Chess fans at various websites and after copying one, wondered why I did not copy an earlier comment, so I scrolled backward and did just that. What follows could be considered modern day conversation:

Chumlychess
@DohnalSteven
Replying to
@ChampChessTour
Always admired the World Champion but unless he speaks out to his proof this seems like a wussy move

B
@damnthecatt
emotional damage for niemann his chess career is done

kiran.sol 🔮🦉
@kiranjaimon
He has an impeccable record with no controversy. If he believes something is wrong, I am inclined to agree

David Gil de Gómez
@ITStudiosi
Why anyone would defend Magnus here is beyond me.

Khan Explorer
@khan_explore
Unfortunately Magnus has too many dick riders who will keep defending him.

dd df
@dddf08021173
Disqualify Magnus for this behaviour.

Steve Holloway
@JSteveHolloway
A good lawyer sees a defamation suit against Magnus

Indian Sports Fans
@IndianSportFan
King 👑 Magnus does it again.
Magnus Carlsen vs. Hans Niemann game today, a recap:

Magnus Quits.. Why. Can anyone explain. Pls. #chessdrama #chess

CryptoSala🔁
@CryptoSala
Magnus should not participate in events with Hans in that case. Or provide evidence for Hans cheating.

Neil Merryll 👌🥀
@Neilmerryll
True its unsportsmanlike and he has no integrity

Praava 🇮🇳
@Praava97
Magnus losing all his fans really quickly. Going down the Fischer lane..

Praava 🇮🇳
@Praava97
I’m a huge fan of Magnus but this sort of behaviour is just bullish to say the least. It’s high time now that Magnus should come forward and SPEAK on the matter.

Gerry Last
@PatzerGod
I feel this is some kind of massive troll, or publicity stunt. Most likely wrong but this just doesn’t make any sense.

https://www.chessdom.com/the-carlsen-niemann-conflict-is-more-recent-than-everyone-thinks/

Vishesh Kabra
@visheshkabra
This is the new Queen’s Gambit Declined

DK
@DaleKerr
Magnus should have been sanctioned after the Sinquefield Cup, either he makes a full statement and provides some evidence, or he is banned from future tournaments. His actions are disrupting tournaments and every player, not just himself and Hans.

Martin Hansen
@bondegnasker
If he isn’t sanctioned, that raises another point about a wealthy and influential player owning his own chess server and how that affects fair play.

Kela Siame
@TheRealKela
You’re in fantasy world sir.

dot
@dot16060982
Magnus should be banned from chess tournaments

Big Alex
@Big__Alex
this summed to the fact that he will not defend his title is really a shame. He should have been punished!

Mark J. Moser
@mjmoser
I lost all respect for Magnus. Whatever Niemann did or not. Magnus should communicate and not just fan the flames of gossip and ruin the reputation of Niemann. The loser is chess!

Hic.
@TheHigherSpace
Everybody turning against Magnus .. This is weird ..

Saltybird
@saltcod1
Naa.. Hugely impressive move by Magnus in my opinion. Brutal forcing strategy.. no sweeping it under the carpet now and it will ALL come out.

The Memphis Legend B.B.Cunningham sings his 1967 #12 hit by The Hombres “Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out)” with Jeffrey and The Pacemakers at Nocturnal in Memphis on August 22, 2009.

Chess For The Children

Upon awakening this morning it was my intention to end this blog. I am not getting any younger, and the re-election of the corrupt Russian stooge and lackey for mad Vlad Putin, Arkady Dvorkovich, who won “by a landslide,” disgusted and bummed me out. The headline at Chess24 says it all: Dvorkovich re-elected FIDE President by landslide.

The Dovrk & Vishy Anand: Partners in crime

The first paragraph says it all: “Arkady Dvorkovich, Russian Deputy Prime Minister from 2012-2018, has been re-elected as President of the World Chess Federation (FIDE) for another four years. He defeated Ukrainian Grandmaster Andrii Baryshpolets by a landslide 157:16 vote at the FIDE General Assembly in Chennai, India, after the remaining candidates all withdrew.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/dvorkovich-re-elected-fide-president-by-157-16-landslide) Mother would have said, “It was a put-up job.” The fix is always in when FIDE is involved. Colin McGourty writes in the excellent article: “The elections for FIDE President are always murky, with the principle of one federation, one vote meaning that countries with few chess players have the same power as major chess countries with tens of thousands of rated players. Inevitably it’s often a question of what a candidate can directly promise the delegates of a country, while another level of influence is diplomatic. The Russian government is reported to have directly campaigned through its embassies in previous elections.” With Russia waging war against a neighbor, Ukraine, the last person the Chess world needs as it’s “face” is a nefarious, underhanded Russian apparatchik who is nothing but a lackey and toady for Mad Vlad, yet that is what we the Chess players of the world have leading the main international Chess body. It does not bode well for Chess.

The news of the death of an old friend, classmate, and roommate has not helped but only enforced the funk into which I had fallen.

Then this morning with my first cuppa coffee I fired-up the Dude, surfed over the the New York Times and saw an article, replete with myriad pictures, that was positively fascinating. It was then the realization struck that I had at least one more post in me, especially after knowing immediately what song would accompany the post. I drained that cuppa Joe while listening to more than a few different versions of a wonderful song by a singer with a fantastic voice and narrowed the choice down to two different versions. But first the article, which unfortunately cannot include all of the pictures:

His Next Move: A Ukrainian Boy Starts a New Life Through Chess

After fleeing the war in Ukraine with his mother, Maksym Kryshtafor, 8, is using his passion for chess to help him assimilate into the United Kingdom.

By Megan Specia Aug. 13, 2022

Photographs by Mary Turner

YORK, England — Pints in hand, a group of men sat hunched over chessboards under the sloping ceiling beams of the Eagle and Child pub in York, in northern England.

Among them sat Maksym Kryshtafor, an 8-year-old Ukrainian boy with freckles and an impish smile, who navigated his pieces across the board with intense focus.

The group had moved its weekly meeting to an earlier time to accommodate its young guest’s bedtime, and he was soon impressing these chess aficionados with decades more experience.

“He’s really good for his age; there’s no question about that,” said Paul Townsend, 62, an avid chess player and member of England’s chess federation. “And he clearly has a talent.”

Mr. Townsend and his family are hosting Maksym and his mother after the federation essentially played matchmaker and asked if they would be willing to sponsor the pair.

More than six million refugees have left Ukraine for Europe, according to the United Nations, each facing the challenges of a life ripped apart by war: a strange land, an unfamiliar language and tenuous ties to support systems like education and health care — if they have any ties all. Finding a pursuit that provides focus and stability can help exiles navigate the anxieties and upheaval of restarting life far from home.

For Maksym, it was chess.

Maksym staring down his opponent before winning a game of speed chess in the Delancey U.K. Schools Chess Challenge in June.

Just four days after arriving in Britain, Maksym drew the attention of the local news media when he won a tournament in County Durham, about 45 minutes north of York by train. He quickly became known on the local chess circuit.

“Chess is all his life, and now it’s all my life,” said Maksym’s mother, Iryna Kryshtafor. “It’s like air for him because all the time he is playing.”

Chess has helped Maksym deal with the complex emotions of leaving his home and adjusting to life in Britain, which has not always been easy. Without a good grasp of English, he was placed with younger students for some of his lessons in school, and it has been hard for him to connect with other children, his mother said. He misses his grandparents, who lived with them in the Ukrainian city of Odesa and who stayed behind. Ms. Kryshtafor is estranged from Maksym’s father, who has not been a part of the boy’s life.

When the war broke out in February, Ms. Kryshtafor, 45, had scrambled to throw her and Maksym’s most essential belongings into a rucksack as they fled for the border.

Countless mothers across Ukraine were focused on how to save their children while maintaining a sense of stability, and Ms. Kryshtafor was no different.

While she forgot to bring a proper winter coat for herself, she packed the things she knew were the most important to Maksym: a chess book, a laptop for him to practice his games on, and the white polo shirt and red fleece that he wears for every competition.

They went first to Romania, where they stayed for weeks. Then Ms. Kryshtafor reached out to the English Chess Federation to see if someone would host her and Maksym so he could continue playing and return to school.

She was eventually connected with Mr. Townsend and his wife, Helen, who offered them an annex in their spacious house near York, under a program that allowed British families to host Ukrainians fleeing the war for six months. So far, despite procedural difficulties, more than 65,000 people have headed to Britain from Ukraine under the program.

Maksym has been enrolled in school, where he is beginning to make friends and is enjoying math, Ms. Kryshtafor said, because even without a strong grasp of English, he can understand it.

Even with hospitable hosts like the Townsends and the security of life far from war, Ms. Kryshtafor said she had found it difficult to adjust to humbling circumstances. She had spent most of her life in Odesa, and despite having two college degrees and a career as a journalist, she is now working as a hotel cleaner.

Maksym before taking part in a chess tournament in June in York.

“It’s not so simple,” Ms. Kryshtafor said as she described the anxieties of living in someone else’s home and having to rely on them for her and her son’s needs.

“I feel comfortable here,” she said, “but all the time I am thinking about what will happen in six months.”

Under British policy, families agree to host Ukrainians for six months, and their visas last for up to three years. The Kryshtafors will need to find a place of their own unless the sponsors allow them to stay beyond the initial agreement.

To ease the anxiety, mother and son have thrown themselves into chess, a focus of much of Maksym’s young life.

He began playing at 4 and has showed early promise.

Both have expressed hope that he can become a grandmaster before turning 12, eager to unseat the world’s youngest person to reach the prestigious ranking.

Maksym began playing chess at age 4.

But Mr. Townsend and other chess ‌‌aficionados say that goal is a long shot. Still, Maksym is clearly skilled, Mr. Townsend said.

“Does that mean he’s going to become a grandmaster ever, let alone at the age of 12? Not necessarily,” he said.

Still, Maksym is nothing if not determined. He wakes at 5 a.m. each day to practice online before school and until recently had regular online training sessions with a Ukrainian chess grandmaster through the Ukrainian Chess Federation.

So far, his lucky outfit and his hours of training have served him well as he wins competition after competition in England. In late July, he and his mother traveled to Greece for the European Youth Chess Championship, where he won in two categories — rapid and blitz — in his age group.

Like many former Soviet nations, Ukraine has a long tradition of strong chess grandmasters, Mr. Townsend explained, but often the expectation is of total dedication to the game from a young age.

Players watching a game of chess with Maksym.

“You would see it as a place where chess is taken a lot more seriously than it is here,” Mr. Townsend said. Parents put young children into rigorous training programs, and school is often second to chess.

“It’s such a massive, culturally different approach to chess playing,” Ms. Townsend said. As a diversion from chess, she has enjoyed showing Maksym how to cook, taking him on nature walks, and building with Lego pieces.

But much of Maksym’s time is still dedicated to chess, and Mr. Townsend has been keen to help him get involved in local tournaments.

On a recent Saturday morning, he took Maksym and Ms. Kryshtafor to a Quaker school in York for a competition involving 120 youths ages 7 to 18. Boards were lined up on tables in a gym, filled with row after row of children tapping clocks and moving pieces.

Some of the children were so small that when seated, their feet swung above the floor. Maksym’s sneakers barely touched it.

In June, 120 youths ages 7 to 18 competed at the tournament in York.

He sat, fidgeting slightly, while the organizers rattled off the rules in English. He did not understand much of what was being said, but he knows how to play. His first match was over in under a minute.

He ran into the hall where Ms. Kryshtafor was waiting and embraced her. After the next match, Maksym again went running out to his mother.

“Too easy,” he said with a smile. “I made a checkmate.”

Before the fifth match, Maksym pressed his forehead against his mother’s and she whispered some words of encouragement. His opponent, an older boy, arrived just before play began.

Maksym rested his chin on his hand and smiled until, suddenly, he realized he had made a mistake. He pulled at tufts of his hair, twisting them around his fingers. He eventually lost to the boy, and after they shook hands, he wiped tears from his eyes.

Maksym eventually placed second in the competition. By the end, he seemed more interested in chatting with a group of children who had organized a game of tag outside.

His long hair flew behind him as one of the children chased him.

“He’s just a child,” his mother said as she watched him frolic. “He works so hard with chess that sometimes you forget he’s just a child.”

This post is dedicated to arguably the best Speaker of the House in the history of the United States of America, Nancy Pelosi, who did it all “For the Children”.

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2022/01/25/for-the-children-nancy-pelosi-announces-run-for-reelection/

“Greatest Love Of All”

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody’s searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago
Never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity

Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I’ll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can’t take away my dignity

Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

And if, by chance, that special place
That you’ve been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/whitneyhouston/greatestloveofall.html

In addition, this post is dedicated to my friend and former roommate, Gary Allen Whitlock:

Gary Whitlock

Obituary for Gary Allen Whitlock

Mr. Gary Allen Whitlock, age 73, of Palmetto, passed away Wednesday, August 10, 2022. He was born January 3, 1949 to Harold and Dorothy Whitlock. Gary served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. He was employed with the United States Postal Service in Palmetto, GA for 34 years. He is survived by his wife, Nara Denise Whitlock; his mother, Dorothy Allen Whitlock; his children, Micah Whitlock and his wife, Laura, Sarah Deck and her husband, Thomas, Anna MacIsaac and her husband, Barry, Mark Whitlock and his wife, Alyssa; his 10 grandchildren, Hannah, Jacob, Jordan, Hailey, Jadon, Isaiah, Raelynn, Garrett, Greyson, Owen; and his brother, Mark Whitlock. A funeral service will be held Sunday, August 14, 2022 at 2 o’clock in the Chapel of Parrott Funeral Home with Pastor Brian Hosmer officiating. Interment will follow at The Whitlock Family Cemetery in Peachtree City. The family will receive friends Saturday evening from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. at Parrott Funeral Home & Crematory, 770-964-4800. In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made to Daystar Israel at www.daystar .com. (https://www.parrottfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Gary-Allen-Whitlock/#!/Obituary)

Gary was,, obviously, responsible for bringing many children into this world. During the pandemic an old friend and I discussed getting some of the old gang together when it ended. Susan called one day saying, “Hey Eggs, guess who just stopped by for a visit?!”

Gary Whitlock (R.I.P.)

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/)