In the first round of the ongoing Cambridge International Open, Henry Adams, born in 2005, sat down behind the white pieces to play the dean of British Chess, long time British number one, Grandmaster Michael Adams. Because of the huge rating disparity of almost 800 points, on paper it looked like a walk over for the now Senior eligible GM, who was born in 1971. The younger Adams sports a 1963 British Chess rating. His International FIDE rating is only 1738. Mickey Adams is rated 2757. With all the talk, including from Rex Sinquefield ((https://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/news/2023/01/05/sinquefield-chess-wagering.html), concerning the future prospects of wagering on Chess going Big Time in a Big Way in the near future, one could have gotten BIG odds on the much younger, but much less accomplished, Adams.
The following position was reached after the GM made his 23rd move:
It appears the Grandmaster offered his much lower rated opponent a draw. Put yourself into the position facing the much younger player. How would you respond? The game ended here so we know the young player has no guts and therefore, obtained little glory. The young fellow had a chance to make a name for himself in the world of Chess by possibly defeating one of, if not the best player in the history of British Chess. Instead, he wimped out…That, more than anything else, illustrates what is wrong with Chess. If this were a game of Go the young player would be forced to play on because the offer of a draw is not allowed. The youngster would have been FORCED TO GO FOR THE GLORY! So what if he had lost? At least in that event he would have learned something that may have later helped him along the Chess road.
In case you are wondering, the Stockfish program at lichess.com shows white with an advantage of an ASTOUNDING +3.4!!! !!!!
After being taken to task by a reader from the Carolinas for not publishing short games from tournaments not in Carolina I went to the website of the 2022 New York Fall Invitational only after explaining to the Carolinian the decision had earlier been made to stop watching all so called “Norm” tournaments. After being lambasted for “picking on” the norm tournaments contested at the Charlotte Chess Center this writer reached out to several Chess friends, asking for their thoughts on “Norm” tournaments. The replies were along the lines of, “Why do you waste your time watching those things?” and, “I have absolutely no interest in those things.” The quotes are from two different people. It is ironic both consider a “Norm” tournament to be a “thing.” The reason I have not written about “Norm” tournaments is the decision was made to stop wasting my time watching tournaments in which there appears to be hanky panky. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/09/11/the-charlotte-chess-center-mr-hankey-award/) In the interest of fairness I decided to follow the tournaments held in New York, and this will be the last time I ever waste my time watching Chess not being played.
Some of the “players”, and I use the word loosely, at the 2022 New York Fall Invitational are the same people who were written about in the posts concerning the plethora of short draws at the Charlotte Chess Center, such as IM Nikolai Andrianov, who should have his passport revoked and be sent packing to whatever hole out of which he crawled. Andrianov is no spring chicken, which may be why he has decided to rest on his limited laurels. The most disappointing player who has decided to stop playing Chess to make short draws is GM Titas Stremavicius (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2022/05/09/how-to-draw-a-chess-game-at-the-charlotte-chess-center/), who has obviously become a serial drawer, and who, like Andrianov, has become known for wearing “Maggie’s Drawers” when he “plays.” When Titus first began playing I checked him out, finding he played some of the same openings as I once played. Many of his games were replayed, finding him to be a “vicius” player. What happened Titus? When and why did you decide to embarrass yourself, and Caissa, and become a non-Chess player? Maybe if we Americans are lucky the passports of this serial drawer will be revoked.
Let me be as clear as a sunny day, all these short draws proliferating “norm” tournaments smack of collusion, and give the appearance of cheating. It smacks of selling “norms” to the highest bidder. The practice should have been stopped long ago, but since it was not it should be stopped NOW!
The low-life non-players and organizers accept no blame while saying they are “just following the rules.” This is done while they deposit digits into their bank accounts. It does not take a genius, or Grandmaster Chess player, to see what they do is harmful to Chess in the long run. These kind of people could care less about what happens to the Royal Game in the future as long as they can continue to stuff their bank accounts with inflated digits. Obviously, the rules should be changed. They should consider taking a page out of Rex Sinquefield’s book and institute their own rules, using the rules in play at the American Chess Mecca, the St. Louis Chess Campus as a guideline. The “go along to get along” Chess politicians at the United States Chess Federation need to grow some cojones and institute new rules.
Make no mistake, all the players listed above are cheaters. They have cheated Caissa and the spirit of the game. It is long past time for the USCF pooh-bahs to STEP UP and SPEAK UP. Someone, anyone, in power needs to do something, anything, about those who blaspheme against the Royal Game! If the current Fools In Power do not do something immediately their heads should roll so they can be replaced by someone, anyone who cares about CHESS! This “go along to get along” crap ain’t working. It is long past time for someone, anyone, in power to GROW A PAIR and STEP UP TO THE PLATE! If, that is, they are not too busy taking cash to stuff into their pockets…
This writer was able to watch most, not all, of the coverage of the 2022 US Chess Championships. When unable to watch the live broadcast for various reasons I went back and watched what was missed earlier during the first twelve rounds. There were many “technical problems” with the last round so I turned it off and watched the games the old fashioned way by watching the moves played at Lichess.com. I did not later watch what was missed during the last round. Yasser mentioned something about the broadcast emanating from philanthropy and I realize the broadcast is not like any for profit broadcast, such as a Baseball game, or golf tournament, etc. Nevertheless, the broadcasts emanating from the St. Louis Chess Campus have been ongoing for many years, long enough for those broadcasting to have their collective act together. At the beginning of the broadcasts the commentators would focus on one game for a length of time, which was disconcerting, because there were fourteen ongoing games. I thought an overview of all the games should be given and from the emails received, so did many other viewers. One day the guys and girl focused almost exclusively on one game, which caused me to fire a salvo at the folks in St. Louis. After it happened again another salvo was fired, but no response was received from the Campus. I simply turned off the volume and watched the opening moves of all the games at Lichess.com.
I realize the commentators are not ‘professional’ media types, but they are getting paid, so maybe they could be considered “untrained” professionals. In one salvo fired at the StLCC I asked if there was a director, but have yet to receive an answer. A director could inform the commentators of where there was “action” in another game and they could switch to it immediately. I recall one instance when they were following an endgame in the open while there was a very interesting game with lieelt time remaining being contested in the women’s championship. I also recall Yasser saying something about, “We’re staying right here!” I tuned the sound off and watched the women’s game on Lichess.com.
(born 29 May 1982) is a Ukrainian chess player and journalist. She achieved the FIDE titles Woman International Master in 2000 and Woman Grandmaster in 2003. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anastasiya_Karlovich) Her accent often made it hard to understand what she was saying. In addition, she had a disconcerting habit of talking over Yasser. It is impossible to understand what is being said when two people are talking, which happened all too often.
That said, I still give the StLCC a B+ for the effort. There were too many positives for a lower grade to be given. Please understand this old Warrior is still amazed at being able to watch something like this, which was unheard of ‘back in the day’. “Shelbourne Richard Lyman (October 22, 1936 – August 11, 2019) was an American chess player and teacher known for hosting a live broadcast of the 1972 World Chess Championship for the PBS television station Channel 13 in New York. This broadcast became the highest-rated public television program ever at that time, far surpassing viewership expectations.” In addition, Shelby also, “…later hosted a two-hour broadcast covering the World Chess Championship 1986. This segment was recorded at WNYE-TV in Brooklyn and aired on 120 public television stations.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby_Lyman) It was during the latter time the woman with whom I lived, after watching the first broadcast, facetiously called him, “Mr. Charisma.” Chess broadcasts have come a long way, baby.
When there was a break in the action I would glance at some of the comments left by those watching. I was surprised when reading some that questioned Yasser Seirawan’s penchant for telling stories of the past. “you cannot understand where you are at unless you know where you have been,” I thought. One of the pleasures of my childhood was watching the Baseball Game of the Week on Saturday afternoon. Former Major League Baseball players Dizzy Dean and Pee Wee Reese
would regale we neophytes with stories of bygone days, just as Yasser does during the broadcast. To this writer those stories are one of the best facets of the broadcasts. One was so good I took notes, realizing words would not come near describing how good was the tale. Imagine the elation when the segment was found! It concerns former World Chess Champ Gary Kasparov and to just read the words, or even listen to them, would not contain the visceral response shown by Yasser. All the hours spent spectating, and listening to the broadcasts were worth it just to be able to see Yasser when describing the story.
The 2022 US Chess Championships were inherently unfair. The player of the white pieces has an advantage, which is more apparent in the Open than with the Women. Someone was overheard saying to a student, “Fabiano Caruana played the best Chess in the tournament.” I begged to differ, saying Ray Robson played the best Chess. He knew how much time I had spent on viewing the action, so respected my opinion, but still questioned the statement. “Fabi had the white pieces in seven games; Robson in only six,” I said.
It is long past the time those in the Chess world come to terms with the fact that the way tournaments are structured favors one half of the field. The only way to remedy the problem is to have a US Chess Championship in which each player has an equal number of games with both colors. This could be done by having an eight player field, the Elite Eight, with two games versus each of the seven opponents, making for a fourteen round tournament. The fact is there were too many players who should not have been playing in the tournament.
The games are too long. The time for the games should be shortened because there are many games which do not begin until the players have spouted out twenty moves of opening theory in only a few minutes. Give the players ninety minutes with some kind of increment and have them play two games each day. It would be like going to work an eight hour day job. After the first game there would be a two hour break and the second game could then begin.
Deciding a championship by playing speed (kills) Chess is ludicrous, especially when a so-called “champion” is determined by some abomination called, appropriately enough, “Armageddon”. One of the definitions of Armageddon is: “A decisive or catastrophic conflict.” (https://www.thefreedictionary.com/Armaggedon). On second thought maybe it is appropriate after the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, in an unprecedented act, withdrew from the Sinquefield Cup after losing a badly played game to Hans Niemann. There is nothing worse than for a player to withdraw in a round robin tournament, unless there was some major reason for so doing, such as having a stroke, or going blind, etc. The action of sore loser Carlsen was an affront to the Royal Game, the Singuefield Cup, and to the St. Louis Chess Club. In addition, it was a slap in the face to the man responsible for the philanthropy, Rex Sinquefield. Tony Rich, Executive Director of the St. Louis Chess Campus,
said Magnus would be welcomed back to the STLCC, but he will never be welcomed by this writer. It is possible his ill-advised action will bring down the House of Chess. Magnus will not be the Chess champion of the world much longer and he should be classified as persona non grata everywhere, forced to sit home and ‘stream’ like Hikaru Nakamura
They are back at it in Charlotte. The first round of four different tournaments was played last night. Before I begin let me say I have no bone to pick with the good people in Charlotte. I have written about the Charlotte Chess Center because they are located in the South, the region from which I sprang over seven decades ago. I am proud there is such a wonderful place as the CCC and the same goes for the Atlanta Chess Center, home of GM Ben Finegold, who is famous all over the world. When I began playing back in the 1970s the South was not exactly a hot bed of Chess activity. When traveling to an out of state Chess tournament I met many people who told me they had never met anyone from the South who played Chess, and some who had never met any Southerner, period. Therefore when anyone causes opprobrium down South I am not pleased. Someone who refused to give permission to use his name said, “Everyone knows Charlotte is the place to go to draw. It was that way before you began to write about it, Mike. All you did was shine a light on it.” Like it or not, that is the reputation of the Charlotte Chess Center.
Mr. Grant Oen,
who is the “Chief Arbiter and Organizer of the Chess tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Club and Scholastic Academy,” and is also the “Assistant Director, Charlotte Chess Center, and a National Tournament Director, International Arbiter,” has previously written, “If he is fine with several quick draws, that is acceptable for with us as long as the rules are followed.” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/06/03/reply-to-grant-oen/) A draw culture has been fostered in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The rules do need to be changed. You may think me crazy especially since Chess is currently riding a cresting wave because of the popularity of the Queen’s Gambit movie, just a Chess enjoyed a boom after Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky to win the title of World Chess Champion. What follows a “boom”?
Back in the late seventies and early eighties the game of Backgammon “boomed” before going “bust”. I mean it busted like a poker player being dealt a 2-4-6-8-10! The Backgammon craze, or fad ended like a Chess game that ends with the word, “Checkmate!” One week Gammons was full of people every night, the next it was empty…
I beg to differ. The statement is false, and is a perfect example of the hubris shown by the Chess community. There are far more people who play, and consider the ancient game of Wei-Chi to be “the ultimate intellectual game.” I am one of them. One of the reasons what is called “Go” in the West is “the ultimate intellectual game,” is that there is a winner in 99 and 44/100, if not more, of the games played. Seriously, it is would probably be better to say 99.9%, but there was this Ivory snow commercial ‘back in the day’ that used 99.44.
To back up my point this is what World Chess Champion Emanuel Lasker said about Go:
Go uses the most elemental materials and concepts — line and circle, wood and stone, black and white — combining them with simple rules to generate subtle strategies and complex tactics that stagger the imagination. Iwamoto Kaoru,
9-dan professional Go player and former Honinbo title holder.
instituted a NEW RULE in the series of Chess tournaments named after him, the Sinquefield Cup. Players are not allowed to offer a draw. Unfortunately, they can repeat the position three times and the game ends in another dreaded draw…Listen up, Rex! You have got the money and are like E.F. Hutton. When you speak people listen. How about instituting the Ko rule from Go in the next Sinquefield Cup tournaments. If a player repeats the same position for the third time YOU LOSE!!!
Now if I had a billzillion digits I would go even further and change the stalemate rule to a win for the player that forces the enemy King into a position without having a legal move at his disposal. What, you think the AW is crazy? I’ve been called worse…I would not stop there. The Royal game needs NEW LIFE! The AW would FREE THE PAWN! That’s right, folks, I would allow the pawn to RETREAT! Why not allow the pawn advance one square to the rear?!
This game was “played” in the first round of the Charlotte Labor Day GM A 2021 last night:
GM Kamil Dragun 2555 (POL) vs GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi 2530 (TUR)
The FIDE Candidates tournament should never have been started. The tournament was begun because Russian dictator Vladimir Putin craves attention in a way only superseded by POTUS Donald John Trump.
Why is it Putin is invariably the only one smiling in pictures taken with Trump?
The Russians cheat at everything they attempt. Because of Russian interference in the previous Presidential election, Hillary Clinton
was cheated out of becoming POTUS. Everyone other than the thirty something percent of people who support the obviously deranged Trump knows this fact, including the Hitlerian thirty something percent of deranged people who support any clown foisted on them by the Republican party.
The Russians have been banned from participating in the Olympic games in the coming years for cheating. This was a terrible for the ego of Vlad the Impaler because without attention he is nothing. Other than petrol and Chess Russia has nothing. Vlad the Impaler has previously said, “Chess is our Baseball.” Putin would like nothing better than for a Russian to face World Human Chess Co-Champion of Classical Chess Magnus Carlsen.
Two of the players, one quarter of the players, currently participating in the 2020 Candidates tournament were not eligible to participate. Kirill Alekseenko,
a Russian, and by far the lowest rated player in the tournament, was a “wild card.” This was, and is, ridiculous to the point of absurdity because the Candidates tournament is played to choose a challenger for the title of World Human Chess Champion. The tournament is far too prestigious to have some local yokel battling against the very best Chess players in the world who have devoted their lives to the game and who have earned entry to the tournament with that hard work over the course of many years.
from France, was chosen to replace the only sane Chess player involved with the ill-fated Candidates, Teimur Radjabov,
from Azerbaijan, who declined to travel to Russia because of the COVID-19 virus. The tournament should have been called off at that moment. If the Chess community felt strongly enough to hold the tournament, then certainly the young player Alekseenko should have been dropped, leaving six players who did qualify to play. But why would Putin agree to such an outcome when having an extra Russian player with no chance of winning the event to possibly take orders, directly from Vlad the Impaler, to intentionally lose to whomever Putin desired? As Chess player Oscar Al Hamilton was fond of saying, “Everything is rigged.” History shows us that is certainly true of Russia.
The tournament continues even with players saying things like this:
“Referring to the worldwide crisis we are going through, Caruana expressed his doubts as to whether he will be able to return to the United States by the time the tournament is over, while Giri is putting all his hopes on the International Chess Federation:
I have faith in a private jet of FIDE, that will fly all players to their houses.
This was certainly the least exciting game of the round. Grischuk did get a little pressure with White, but Ding played it safe once he realized he could get in trouble. After the game, the players were asked about their form. The Coronavirus crisis had a strong impact on Grischuk:
My form is terrible. I don’t want to play at all with all this situation. I mean, when it was beginning I did not have a big opinion, but now for several days I have a very clear opinion: that the tournament should be stopped. I mean, the whole atmosphere is very hostile.
Ding, on the other hand, is enjoying having made an adjustment to his living conditions in Yekaterinburg:
My form is much better comparing to the first two days. Since I moved to a new hotel, I got some fresh air and life became more beautiful.”
Anyone who “…has faith in FIDE…” is a fool. Just because Anish Giri
is one of the best human Chess players on the planet does not mean he is intelligent in other facets of life.
How can Fabiano Caruana
concentrate on playing Chess when he has “…expressed his doubts as to whether he will be able to return to the United States by the time the tournament is over?” The United States government should send a plane IMMEDIATELY to bring Fabi home! If that is not possible how about the billionaire, who must be losing money as fast as a crazed gambler in Las Vegas, Rex Sinquefield,
sending a plane to Russia to save Caruana. Mr. Sinquefield could possibly pull some strings with other people from the super-wealthy class to make it happen. We are perilously close to a time like the Russian revolution of a century ago with Doctor Zhivago having to share his family mansion with the hoi poi.
Fabiano Caruana deserves a rematch with World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. I call upon Rex Sinquefield to organize a match between the two Co-Classical World Human Chess Champions, as Magnus Carlsen stated, played in the opulent St. Louis Chess Club,
in the future, if we make it out of these dire times, played OUTSIDE OF FIDE auspices. The match could be of sixteen games, the number, if memory serves, chosen by former World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik,
who ought to know as he played more matches for the World Chess Championship than any other player, I believe. If tied at the end of regulation then two game mini-matches could be played until there is a winner. Only Mr. Sinquefield could do this because there would be no obstacle to having a match that goes into overtime if held in St. Louis.
We are in the early days of a revolution. Chess will having little meaning in the aftermath of the virus that is changing the world. No matter how this plays out things will NEVER be the same. Certainly Chess will never return to even the weakened status currently held in society. Chess, like other games and sports, will take a back seat to SURVIVAL.
Much was expected of Ding Liren before the tournament but he was forced into isolation because of the COVID-19 virus. That in itself should have been enough for at least a postponement of the 2020 Candidates tournament. Ding said, “My form is much better comparing to the first two days. Since I moved to a new hotel, I got some fresh air and life became more beautiful.” Consider this when considering what isolation has already done to this person:
Man falls to his death from 16th floor of luxury flats during coronavirus isolation
By Andrew Gilpin
22 MAR 2020
A man has fallen to his death from the 16th floor of a luxury apartment block as people self isolate due to coronavirus.
The horror incident in the Tribeca Park apartment block in New York saw him die instantly when he hit the courtyard.
Shocked neighbours said the 64-year-old’s death has left them shaken as they are in quarantine from the deadly disease.
One woman saw what happened when we she went outside to smoke a cigarette told the New York Post: “You have to be mentally strong to take on isolation.
“The uncertainty of what’s going to happen is scary.”
How can any human play Chess when “The uncertainty of what’s going to happen is scary.”
Where is the outrage from the American Chess community? Surf on over to the USCF website and try finding one word from any leader of US Chess concerning the sordid situation in which We The People find ourselves. I have gone to many Chess website, such as Chessbase, Chess.com, and Chess24, in a futile attempt to read the thoughts of any person in authority. The silence is deafening.
I have expected little from the current leadership of the USCF and have rarely been disappointed. That said, I now call on the Chess community to get “up in arms,” metaphorically speaking, and SPEAK OUT. Now is not the time to remain silent, people.
This paragraph is the first of chapter 7: The Secret Of Chess.
I first stumbled upon the lectures of my future teacher and spiritual guardian,
during a despairing google for chess tips in Bangkok. He was different from all the other chess lecturers I’d seen before. Most lecturing grandmasters, even the most charming ones, approach the game with a hushed reverence, as if delivering news on a pediatric oncology ward, or trying to placate an errant tiger. Finegold is the complete opposite. He’s charismatic, frank, and viciously funny, matching a respect for the game’s elegance with flagrant mockery of everything else. When Finegold’s students raise their hands, he often points a meaty had at them and says, “You, with the wrong answer,” or “You, with some crazy comment.” Upon hearing one of their replies, he’ll often respond, “Ugh, that was painful,” or “Hey, you’re the best player in your chair.” He’s given to claiming that the Panov-Botvinnik Atack was named after “Mr. Attack.” His lectures are littered with Tarantino references, imitations of other lecturers from hiss chess club, and fatuous advice like “never move pawns.”
has a unique place in the chess world. He has ardent fans, because of his aforementioned characteristics, and many detractors, also because of his aforementioned characteristics. Moreover, he lives on an odd plateau of chess skill – that of the low-level grandmaster.
It seems like just yesterday Ben was being proclaimed “The World’s Strongest IM,” while gracing the cover of Chess Life (now Lifeless) magazine. Garner that coveted GM title and nobody knows your name…
The fact that this is a coherent concept is another illustration of the vast distance between the amateur and the professional player. To any player like me, any grandmaster lives in an unreachable and starry grove of intellectual superiority. Someone like Finegold can calculate in drunken sleep better than I can while achieving satori on Adderall. But, to most grandmasters, Finegold isn’t that notable, except for his personality.
Euwe, that hurts!
There are essentially two ways you could regard Finegold, given his position in the chess ecosystem. You could see him as a pitiable example of the game’s mercilessness, by focusing on the fact that Finegold never made it to the upper ranks. On the other hand, you could see him as someone who hurled himself directly into the howling void of chess and came out intact, with a fan following, two kids, a little house in Georgia,
and the ability to eke out a modest living by teaching his favorite game to captivated pupils –
occasionally including desperate adults who come all the way from Canada to absorb his teachings.
I arrived in St. Louis a few days before my first meeting with Finegold, to have a chance to explore the city. And during this pre-Finegold interval, I had a random meeting with a stranger that would prove to be an omen of the month ahead. She was a woman walking alone downtown, screaming.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Holy shit,” she screamed.
“Um,” I said.
“Fuck all these pussy-ass people,” she screamed.
“I am so tired of this life,” she screamed.
“Damn it,” she screamed.
She walked away. And, unfortunately, I came to agree with her about the city of St. Louis.
This is probably my fault. I am a great believer in the idea that a failure to love is often the fault of the lover. If I were more patient and more curious and more forgiving, I probably could’ve found more to appreciate. I’m told that St. Louis contains many beautiful sun-strewn lanes and cheerful people, and fun bars where tender words are exchanged over locally made beers of the highest quality. But that is not what I found. What I found was a humid, boring, and flat place, dappled with some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in North America. According to the website of the St. Louis Police, you shouldn’t “wear clothing or shoes that restrict your movement” in their fair metropolis, so you can run away from assailants if you need to.
The local food, also, is hilarious. There’s a special kind of pizza they make there, which is a prank played by Satan. It’s a cracker, topped with ketchup, finished with a goopy kind of processed cheese that you’ve never had before, because they invented a new kind of cheese for this pizza. It’s edible caulking that clings to the back of your throat, reminding you that you live in an unjust world.
Based on my experiences, I cannot recommend St. Louis. Unless, that is, you’re interested in studying chess. Weirdly, St. Louis is the home of the world’s best chess school. This is the greatest love of billionaire Rex Sinquefield,
a longtime St. Louis resident. Although he was never a skilled player, he was a skilled investor, to say the least, and he arrived at retirement age with enough money that he could quite casually open an air-conditioned temple devoted to his favorite game, and bankroll grandmaster lectures as well as exclusive tournaments with big prizes for the strongest players in the world. The club is housed in a pristine two-story commercial property, and might be mistaken for a posh hernia clinic or a yoga studio if not for the chess pieces depicted on the frontispiece’s stained glass windows.
We have now arrived at what I consider to be the best part of the book, that being the meeting of the teacher and the pupil.
“Hey, Finegold,” I said.
“Sup,” he said.
that Canadian guy.”
“That guy who emailed you.”
“I know who you are.”
“Yeah, so here I am.”
You ever notice that no matter where you go, there you are?
“How many lessons are you looking for?”
“I was thinking like ten hours.”
“You could do more – the more you pay, the more you learn.”
Wasn’t that the motto of Trump University?
As I considered this, a class of kids, whom he had just taught, flooded out of the classroom and started playing blitz in the lobby, which is to say that they started knocking pieces off tables, knocking clocks off tables, making illegal moves, and screaming at each other. Finegold presided for a few minutes until the parents showed up, delighting the kids with a barrage of verbal abuse, and then returned to me with a searching look on his face.
“Jesus, I want to kill myself,” he said, very quietly.
“Wait till you see my games,” I said.
“You’re not here to impress me, you’re here to learn.”
“But I’d like to impress you.”
“Well, you won’t.”
And he was right. He was right about everything. Sooner or later, everything he told me came true.
Just Because Someone Goes Crazy, It Doesn’t Mean You Also Have to Go Crazy
“If your wife
cheats on you, that’s bad,” Finegold said. “She shouldn’t have done that.
But if you then kill her, kill yourself, and the mailman, that’s not really constructive. You shouldn’t escalate a situation just because someone else did.”
“How does this apply to chess?” I said.
“Well, you consider yourself a creative guy, which is kind of a problem. So, from move two, you’re going out of you mind, trying to invent a work of genius. Which means that when your opponents play crazy, you start playing even crazier. Don’t do that. Just don’t be crazy at all. When they play weird, just play normal good moves. Other grandmasters will tell you that you have to punish your opponents for all of their mistakes. That’s one point of view. My point of view is that you have to win chess games.”
The wisdom of this became clear after the lesson, when we played some blitz at one of the tables
set up on the sidewalk outside the club.
The muggy air was licking my face. Cute couples walked by on their way to Whole Foods, unaware that they were passing a spectacle of truly historic importance: my first game against a grandmaster. It was also the first time I’d ever played against someone drinking two brands of seltzer at once. Finegold played the Slav Defense, an extremely solid opening.
“I hate playing against the Slav,” I said.
“The truth hurts,” he said.
“Is this a good move?”
“It’s a move.”
“But is it good?”
“Probably not. Whose turn is it?”
He moved his queen deep into my territory. For the first ten moves, I thought I might have a microscopic chance of victory, because I didn’t lose all of my pieces. But, every other turn, I made a slight mistake that I didn’t know I was making, and in the face of my craziness, he responded not with theatrics but with a quiet malice. As sweat dripped down my chest, I realized that a crowd was gathering – all the kids in the neighborhood wanted to see Finegold crush me. I tried to put up a good fight so I could entertain these little boys and girls, who were soon to be embittered adults, maybe losing at chess themselves. But Finegold didn’t give me a good fight – he gave me a slow, vicious grind, allowing me only to twist lamely while he attained total control. I was a jittery rabbit, running from a surefooted cheetah, in a maze whose pathways slowly curled in on each other and contracted, until we were confined together, predator and prey, in a tiny cell. Under the pressure, I cracked, and made a horrible blunder.
“You’ll have to forgive him for that,” Finegold said to the audience. “He’s tired, because he just moved here. From Crazytown.”
Finegold, who was always coming and going, and who noticed everything, observed that I was having a lot of fun, and that it was translating into my play as a whole. He disapproved.
“Take a look at those guys over there,” he said, during a lesson, pointing to an array of portraits of great players that hung on the far wall.
“What am I supposed to be seeing?” I said.
“Tell me who looks like he’s never had fun in his life.”
Garry Kasparov was the top-ranked player in the world for nineteen years, except for a three-month-long slump. And he was famous for his boundless, masochistic work ethic. “Chess is mental torture,” he said.
“Yeah, Kasparov never had any fun. Now, tell me who looks like he’s furious all the time.”
“Yeah, Fischer. That guy didn’t have a lot of fun.”
What he was saying was true. Slow tournament chess, played well, is like violent meditation. The mind is wrenched by an evolving series of parenthetical thoughts, during which the limits of human cognition are directly assaulted.
“Being a winner starts when you realize what a loser you are.”
At my next lesson, I explained my emotional turmoil to Finegold. He was having none of it. “Your emotions are irrelevant,” he said. “You can’t stop protecting your pawns because you’re sad. Chess isn’t one of those crazy stories that you sell to a magazine. You’re not a hero; your opponent isn’t the villain.”
“It’s hard for me not to think like that. It’s kind of who I am,” I said.
“Well, then, don’t be yourself.”
“I can tell you everything I know,” he said, “but absorbing it can take years. Chess is hard. Like, let’s take a simple part of being a grandmaster. To be a grandmaster, you have to spend a lot of time thinking about what your opponents want to do, rather than just focusing on your own plans. Saying that to you is easy, but it’s hard to do, because just thinking about yourself is kind of the human instinct. Being good at chess is pretty counterintuitive. A lot of the time, you’re fighting your basic tendencies.”
“That sounds hard.”
“It’s actually easy. It’s just impossible.”
I was twenty-nine years old. I walked back towards the metro station, through the deserted streets beyond, between beautiful art deco skyscrapers, and I thought about what Finegold had said at the end of our first lesson. After we’d gone through a few of my games, he had nonchalantly asked me whether I’d like to know the secret of chess.
“Um, sure,” I said.
“Okay, I’ll tell you. But you’re not going to believe me,” he said. “And maybe you never will.”
This was correct. I had no idea what to make of the secret of chess. And I definitely didn’t believe it. Only later, much later, when I was walking on a beach in California, did his words really strike me with their full force.
The review must end somewhere, and this is where it ends. It seems I have written, arguably, too much, but actually, it is only the tip of the iceberg. To learn the secret of chess, according to Ben Finegold you must find a copy and read it for yourself. You can thank me later…
After reading Kevin Spragett’s post dated March 30, 2019, Friday Coffee
by kevinspraggettonchess · Published March 29, 2019 · Updated March 30, 2019, (http://www.spraggettonchess.com/friday-coffee-24/) which includes the question, “Is Chess Sexist?”, I sent Kevin an email:
You write, “We acknowledge that there is no fundamental difference when it comes to the brain of a women or that of a man.” You, sir, are WRONG! I have written much on my blog concerning the science and studies which confirm just how wrong are you as there is a “fundamental difference” between the male and female brain, which you would have known if you had read my blog.
After reading the new book, Gender and Our Brains, by Gina Rippon,
I must apologize to Kevin and admit being wrong. Although there appear to be some differences between the male brain when compared with the female brain that does not mean there is any difference between the two brains when it comes to cognitive ability. For example:
Study finds some significant differences in brains of men and women
Ms.Rippon writes, “We have tracked the “blame the brain” campaign down the ages, and seen how diligent was the scientists’ pursuit of those brain differences that would keep women in their place. If a unit of measurement didn’t exist to characterize those inferior female brains, then one must be invented!”
She also writes, “Hence men’s more efficient callosal filtering mechanism explained their mathematical and scientific genius (with chess brilliance thrown in for good measure), their right to be captains of industry, win Nobel Prizes and so on and on. In this instance, in the “size matters” wars, with respect to the corpus callosum, small is beautiful.”
This is the only place in which one finds the word “chess” in the four hundred pages of the book.
If you believe Gina Rippon’s thesis then the question of why women are segregated in Chess must be asked. As a matter of fact the question was asked by E.E. Deedon in a letter (via email) to Chess Life magazine in the July 2019 issue. Mr. Deedon wrote:
“I just received my May 2019 edition of Chess Life, “The Women’s Issue.” What I cannot understand is the fact that men and women are still segregated after it has become quite obvious that men have no “advantage” when playing against women as they would obviously have in “physical” sports like football, basketball, and track and field. Would you be so kind to enlighten me as to why this situation still exists?”
For my international readers I must mention that when E.E. uses the word “football” he is talking about the American version, what I call “maimball”, not what is known in the rest of the world, which is called “soccer” here in the United States of America.
There follows in Chess Life:
Women’s Program Director for US Chess, WGM Jennifer Shahade
(that’s for WOMAN Grandmaster, as opposed to a real Grandmaster, whether male of female. For the international readers, Jennifer Shahade is rated 2301 US and 2322 FIDE. She has earned the title of “Original Life Master” from the United States Chess Federation. Although I am uncertain how one becomes an OLM I do know that if Jennifer were a male she would be considered just another National Master) responds:
“Women have historically been outnumbered in chess competition (She could stop there as it answers the question, but adds more, much more, as if she is a long-winded politician running for office) and most women and girls play and study in mixed competitions for the majority of the time.”
This begs the question of how she knows “most women and girls study in mixed competitions.”
“Women’s spaces, tournaments, and camps are great ways to allow them to work on their game, make friendships, and get attention for their success and talent, which creates a positive, self-perpetuating cycle that brings more girls and women into the game.”
You are not alone in your curiosity. Your question is by far the most frequent I get when hosting, supporting, or streaming an event that includes a women’s or girl’s component. Unfortunately, when this question is asked, it is often negatively charged, and changes a positive event (women and girls enjoying and playing chess) into a forum for amateur analysis of gender, biology, and sociology. This line of questioning is so common that streamers like Alexander Botez (as featured in the first edition of my Ladies Knight podcast) create automated moderator responses for her streams – if the questioning become negative, moderators advise re-focusing on the chess.
Which brings me to an important point when we talk about women and girls in chess. As Woman’s Program Director, I focus on the positive as we grow the game: from Jennifer Yu’s stirring victory to the inspiring story of Phiona Mutesi, from Rachael Li’s standing as the top nine year old in the U.S. to the rich history of women’s chess from Menchik to Graf to Rudenko.
Thanks for you interest in US Chess Women!”
What, women cannot “work on their game, make friendships, and get attention for their success and talent” by attending a “space” -whatever that means- tournament or camp that includes males?
Who judges when a question is “negatively charged?” If anyone suggests females play in tournaments open to everyone regardless of sex does Jennifer consider that to be “negatively charged?”
I played Backgammon professionally for a time and women were welcomed in tournaments. There were no tournaments for only women.
Jennifer’s ridiculous answer to an important question can be distilled to, “Because we’re special.” Women want to eat their cake and have it too. It is as simple as that…
The fact is that men resent preferential treatment for women in Chess because females are diverting money from the small pool of Chessbucks which should go to the best player(s) regardless of sex. Period.
As I write this a Chess tournament, the FIDE chess.com Grand Swiss, is unfolding in the Isle of Man. In the second round the female player GM Antoaneta Stefanova defeated male player Gawain Jones. IM Batkhuyag Munguntuul bested GM Sergei Movsesian.
There are many female players challenging males. I do not know exactly how many, or what percentage, are female because Chess Results (http://chess-results.com/tnr478041.aspx) makes no distinction between the sexes.
There are more women and girls involved with Chess than ever before and it started with the so-called “youth movement,” which began when money earmarked for Master Chess was, shall we say to be kind, diverted to children’s Chess. With this brought an influx of “Chess moms,” a term first heard in relation to soccer, as in “Soccer mom.” It has gotten to the point that many women have been placed in positions of power in the Chess world, taking positions formerly held by men. For example, in the Spring 2018issue of the American Chess Magazine
there is an interview with the new executive director of the USCF, Carol Meyer.
Pete Tamburro posed this question to the new E.D.:
Have you learned to play chess? (Upon reading this my first thought was, “What The Fork?”) Anybody offer you lessons? Do you have a chess strategic plan?
“I know how to move the pieces and have played with my family.” (I’m thinking, “You’re kidding me, right?”) “What I’ve learned is that playing chess for a tournament player is a very different concept from playing chess as a casual player. (How would the woman know that if she has NEVER PLAYED A TOURNAMENT GAME?) I have considered taking lessons after I settle in a bit more. I was thinking about blogging the personal experience of someone over the age of 50 learning the game.”
Good luck with that! The fact is that Chess is so difficult it is almost impossible for anyone over the age of 50 to learn how to play a decent game of Chess. I have attempted to teach Chess to men in their 30s to no avail. One gentleman was an attorney with a prominent law firm who informed me he had accomplished whatever it was he attempted until trying to play Chess.
From the earliest days of my involvement in Chess everyone involved came from some kind of Chess background. It may not have been required, but that was the way it was…I have battled over the Chess board with many USCF pooh bahs, such as Don Schultz, President of several different state organizations. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Schultz) Don was POTUSCF at one time. The fact is I cannot recall all of the many positions Don held in Chess. I do know he was once President of the Georgia Chess Association. This woman, Carol Meyer, in that position makes the USCF President, Allen Priest, rated 701 after having played 45 games in his life (10 wins; 3 draws) look like a battle scarred veteran. What can this woman possibly know about the Royal game? Is having someone who knows almost nothing about Chess good for the USCF? Having a litigious imbecile as POTUS has not exactly turned out well for the USA or the world, and it will get worse before he is impeached and forced to resign. I do not know about you but I would not want the pilot of my plane to say, “I know how to push the buttons and have flown in a simulator.”
Then there is the Publications Editor, Melinda Matthews. I searched the USCF and found her listed along with other rated players but the USCF MSA page shows she has yet to play a rated game. I kid you not. Maybe she is the reason the once venerable Chess Life magazine now includes articles such as More Chess Parenting: Nurturing the Talented Child, by Alexey Root, WIM.
Alexey is rated 2000 USCF, meaning she would be a floored National Master if male. I recently reached out to a number of Chess players, asking if they read the article. No one replied in the affirmative. One wag responded, “No one reads that shit, Bacon.” Who knows, maybe a few parents of children involved with Chess actually read the article. Maybe… Another said, “The USCF could care less about people who actually play Chess, Mike. They are attempting to reach PARENTS!”
“It’s a Total Numbers Game”
The above has become the mantra for women involved with Chess. It is also a load of crap. Statistics prove that young girls exposed to Chess stop playing the game around puberty. There is a reason. I do not profess to know the reason, but there must be a reason, because there is always a reason. Unfortunately, the same could be said for preteen boys. Something happens to children of both sexes around puberty and they leave Chess in droves. Why is that? There is a reason, and it would seem those in charge would spend as much of Rex Sinquefield’s money as they could grasp to learn why young people leave the game. Instead, large sums of money go to attracting even more young children to replace the money of those who leave the game, never to return.
Sports Illustrated Features US Chess Women: “It’s a Total Numbers Game.”
By Jennifer Shahade|December 21, 2018|Kids, News, Women
It’s a total and complete numbers game. What the women’s committee is trying to do is to grow the base- Maureen Grimaud
Ladies Knight with Maureen Grimaud [PODCAST]
By Jennifer Shahade|August 21, 2019|Ladies Knight, News, Podcast, Women
The August episode of Ladies Knight features Maureen Grimaud,
chair of the US Chess Women’s committee. Maureen is a vocal proponent and supporter of bringing more women and girls into chess, from her work with the girls club’ rooms and Regional women’s events. In a Sports Illustrated article about women in chess, Maureen said, “It’s a numbers game, It’s a total and complete numbers game. What the women’s committee is trying to do is to grow the base.”
How about Maureen’s numbers? The woman has played a total of 44 rated games since 2006. She won four of the games and drew three. She last played in a USCF rated tournament in 2012. Her rating is 440. How about Rex Sinquefield putting up money for a match between Maureen and the President of the USCF, Allen Priest? Although the Prez outweighs her by about the same number of pounds as he out rates her I would hafta say it’s a toss-up.
I do not have answers to the questions posed in this post; maybe there are no answers, or no one really wants to learn the answers while the money is still flowing into Chess. But how long will it last?
So here’s the idea. To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the death of former World Champion Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian and the 70th of his birth, a memorial tournament was organized in Moscow featuring ten of his contemporaries:
Yuri Balashov (50); Svetozar Gligoric (76); Vlastimil Hort (55); Borislav Ivkov (65); Bent Larsen (64); Lajos Portisch (62); Vasily Smyslov (78); Boris Spassky (62); Mark Taimanov (73); Vitaly Tseshkovsky (54).
Sounds nice, but think about it. Ten players, ranging in age from 50 to 78, playing in a . So how do you best honor Tigran Petrosian?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts
01 Ivkov * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 5.0
02 Portisch ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 5.0
03 Taimanov ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
04 Spassky ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
05 Smyslov ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
06 Hort ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ ½ 4.5
07 Balashov ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 4.5
08 Tseshkovsky 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 1 ½ 4.5
09 Gligoric ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ 4.0
10 Larsen ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * 4.0
This could be regarded as the Least Interesting Tournament in the World, with 42 draws in 45 games and five of the ten players drawing every game.
So who stepped out of line? Larsen, of course, but you have to expect that. The big offender was the youthful Tseshkovsky, with two decisive results in the first four rounds. I imagine his elders sat him down and told him to get with the program, and he took the advice: every game in the last five rounds was drawn.
But mocking and criticizing this tournament is the wrong attitude to take. Instead, it should probably be regarded more as an exhibition than a truly serious competition. Many sports will have “Old-Timers” games, where retired players will dress up in their uniforms and go through the motions. The attraction is not who wins or loses or what the final score is, but just watching the legends of long ago gathered together – here, in tribute to a fallen comrade.
Original collection: Game Collection: Petrosian Memorial 1999, by User: Phony Benoni. http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=80793
Phony Benoni seems to consider the Petrosian Memorial 1999 an aberration, attributing it to the age of the participants. The players stinking it up at the Sinquefield Cup are still mostly young men half the age of those who battled at the Petrosian Memorial. What is their excuse?
Losers In The Game
The endless years and hardluck tales,
and some that have just moved on,
I guess it could be envy
when I wonder what’s gone wrong
Fingers point at all the problems,
but that won’t change my mind
I must have been held back
in hardknox school a few more times
A few more years, a few more tears,
are we the losers in the game?
When time is done and kingdom come,
we’ll not be losers in the game!
No one ever said it’s easy to watch the world go by
Console myself by trying and trying,
and trying just one more time
Put on a smile and fake your way in through another door
But only if you have more luck than a thousand times before
A few more years, a few more tears,
are we the losers in the game?
When time is done and kingdom come,
we’ll not be losers in the game!
Try again, change direction, spend more money,
new horizons, what’s it gonna be?
Take your hits, I hate my job, live like who,
think like what, no thanks I’ll just stay me
The post dated July 13, 2019, GM Igors Rausis Caught With The Toilet Seat Down, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/grandmaster-igors-rausis-caught-cheating/) went viral. The number of viewers was the most, by far, of any previous post on the AW blog. Tens of thousands of people all over the world viewed the post in numbers that dwarfed any other post. The number of viewers is given each day and there is a map of the world in which the number of viewers is color coded. The world map lit up like a Christmas tree, with viewers from almost every country on the planet. This continued for a few days until dropping back to what was previously considered “normal.” Because of the huge daily numbers for those days what was formerly considered a “normal” day is now seen as a tiny blip on the graph of viewers. From this it is more than a little obvious people interested in the Royal game are very interested in the ever increasing problem of cheating in Chess.
How to Get Away from Chess A conversation with Igor Rausis
A photo of a chess player in a restroom using his mobile phone during a game
broke a long-standing storm not only among fans of the sport, but also for those who have a simple black and white picture of chess. Chess grandmaster Igor Rausis, who has been trapped in a fraud, says it was his chance to get away from the chess world with a twist.
What follows is part of the translation from the aforementioned Chessbase article:
Has anyone else been accused or suspected of cheating in chess?
Lots. Unfortunately, lots. I don’t want to talk about the others. I don’t want to name any specific surnames. I don’t know why people came up with this idea of making phone apps for chess. It all started with that.
They’ve been around for a long time.
But why? What’s the point?
To play. To analyse. I play on the tram.
But they didn’t think about the consequences. Well, there are a lot of sick people in the world. Previously, this sickness didn’t exist. Gaming mania. Unfortunately, it’s a contemporary illness.
That’s different, because a person goes to the casino and leaves money behind. It’s like drugs.
What exactly? Chess?
Gaming. And the world supports this, because somebody’s earning money from his. (It is possible the word “his” should be “this.” It is printed exactly as found at Chessbase.)
Beyond phones, is chess a sickness?
Chess players never talk about it, because chess fans like other words — like chess is art. Maybe it partially applies to those who compile compositions [chess problems].
So is chess a disease?
In a manner of speaking. A great pyramid has been built. I can now say something controversial aimed at the functionaries.
THE THREAT IS STRONGER THAN ITS EXECUTION!
If Chess is to survive it MUST change in order to adapt to the current circumstances. Over a decade ago I wrote about the need for Chess to adapt but money was flowing into Chess thanks to billionaire bullies with more money than sense, so who wanted to be the first to rock the boat? (I use the term “billionaire bullies” because of people like the Koch bros, etc., and other extremely wealthy people who donate money to political candidates who would obviously be more comfortable in a Nazi-type party than any political party consisting of We The People) At a recent Chess tournament in Atlanta someone mentioned Daniel Lucas,
formerly editor of Georgia Chess before becoming editor of Chess Life magazine. There was laughter upon my mentioning I thought Daniel was still editor of Chess Life. “Because USCF is now awash in Sinquebucks there have been many changes at USCF, Bacon,” said someone who will remain nameless. “Now Daniel’s WIFE is the editor and he has been given a new title of, Senior Director of Strategic Communication for the United States Chess Federation.”
“What does that mean, exactly?” I asked. “I mean, wouldn’t simply Director of Communication have sufficed? Is there a “Junior Director of Strategic Communication?” After more laughter I asked, “What, exactly, is ‘Strategic Communication’ and how does it differ from just plain Communication?” After the uproarious laughter abated someone said, “They just pull those kind of names out of their ass.” This brought the house down, so to speak.
In a capitalist economy it is said, “He who has the money makes the rules.” It is no secret Rex Sinquefield wants much shorter time controls for the Royal game. It has become apparent how little it matters what he, on any other wealthy patron of Chess wants, because now, for the game of Chess to survive, it MUST limit a game to one sitting, with no player allowed to leave the room.
On the very popular, and famous, television show, House, the character of Doctor House
was famous for saying, “Everyone lies.” The way Chess is currently played I can say, “Everyone cheats,” and who will argue? It is too easy to cheat so it is happening in every section by players of all ages. Some years ago at a tournament in Atlanta a player was caught cheating and his response was, “Everyone else is doing it, so I must do it too.” At another tournament, at Emory University some years ago, everyone but the TDs was talking about a group of young boys who would simply leave the playing hall heading for the seats of the cafeteria where they would check out a cell phone in plain sight. Why go to the lavatory when one can sit in the comfort of the cafeteria?
There are signs everywhere pointing to the death of Chess. The recently concluded US Open Chess tournament managed to draw only three hundred plus players. Before a recent round of the Sinquefield Cup Chess tournament in St. Louis, Maurice Asheley talked about the myriad draws in the tournament thus far, contrasting the mostly draw “classical” Chess tourney with a recent “rapid” tournament round in which six of the ten games were decisive. Is the Royal game as it is played by the best Chess players “played out?” How many people will be interested in Chess if it must devolve to “Blunder Fest Chess” to survive?
The title is a play on the hugely popular Japanese TV series, “Hikaru no Go” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0426711/).
the popularity of this program is best described by this, “World Go population probably tripled because of ‘Hikaru no Go'”, said Joey Hung, USA 8 dan Go instructor. All of Joey’s Go School ( http://www.egogames.com) Go students in Fremont, CA, USA have watched the exciting Go anime. Also, at the World Amateur Go Tournament and Beijing Mental Olympics Tournament, many European, South American and Asian players reflected that they have seen a dramatic increase in Go population due to the ‘Hikaru no GO’ anime.”
“Hikaru no Go (literally The Go of Hikaru or Hikaru’s Go) is a manga (a Japanese comic) and an anime (a Japanese cartoon) about a boy (Hikaru Shindo) who discovers the ancient game when he finds an old board in the attic and meets the spirit of a past Go master (Fujiwara-no-Sai).
The Hikaru no Go manga is published by VIZ Media ([ext] http://www.viz.com) in the United States and Canada, and the Hikaru no Go anime has been licensed by VIZ Media in the United States and Canada. The manga is serialized in the United States version of Shonen Jump ( http://www.shonenjump.com), while the entire anime is viewable at Hulu.com. In North America Hikaru no Go is also available on the ImaginAsian TV Channel” (http://senseis.xmp.net/?HikaruNoGo).
“Hikaru no Go ( lit. “Hikaru’s Go”) is a manga series, a coming of age story based on the board game Go written by Yumi Hotta and illustrated by Takeshi Obata with an anime adaptation. The production of the series’ Go games was supervised by Go professional Yukari Umezawa (5-dan). The manga is largely responsible for popularizing Go among the youth of Japan since its debut, and considered by Go players everywhere to have sparked worldwide interest in Go, noticeably increasing the Go-playing population across the globe, perhaps tripling it.
Current top Japanese Go professional Iyama Yuta is considered to be part of the influx of young Go players whose generation was inspired by the series.
First released in Japan in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump in 1998, Hikaru no Go achieved tremendous success, spawning a popular Go fad of almost unprecedented proportions” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikaru_no_Go).
Maybe the best way to impart just how popular is “Hikaru no Go” would be to mention that in the December, 2012, issue of the second best chess publication in the world, “Chess Monthly,” the man who recently tied with GM David Howell for first place in the British chess championships, IM Jonathan Hawkins, the author of “Amateur to IM: Proven Ideas and Training Methods,” when asked the question of what is your favorite film or TV series, answered, “Hikaru no Go.” (!)
The impetus for my last post was Hikaru Nakamura. It is no secret that Hikaru has not been playing well recently. I am sure many other fans of “Naka” have “felt his pain.” After blowing a certain win against human World Champion Magnus Carlsen in the third round of the Zurich tournament, I could not help but wonder if he could ever come back from such a defeat, especially since he has never beaten Magnus in a classical game of chess. Now he has finished dead last on his home court of the St. Louis Chess Club & Scholastic Center in the latest edition of the Sinquefield Cup. If there is a next S.C. Hikaru should be left out, as was Gata Kamsky this year. It is clear there is something wrong with Hikaru. He would not be a good poker player because he is easy to read. It is obvious from his body language that he is not the same person I saw in Sturbridge, Massachusetts, at the 32nd Continental Open in 2002, when he was kicking ass and taking names. He was brimming with confidence and the world was his oyster.
After losing to Veselin Topalov, the Bulgarian, who is often referred to as a former “world champion” though I know not why, Hikaru was interviewed by GM Maurice Ashley. Maurice said, “There was a moment in the game that the computer spotted an idea and we thought you were for sure gonna play. It’s the kind of move you always play. Yasser said you would play it in a bullet game, the move Bxf2. Tell us your thoughts in this moment right now.” Hikaru responded, “Well, I mean basically I had this exact position up until move 19 up on the board, um, you know, before the game and e5 was not a computer move and I knew it had to be bad but, um, during the game I just couldn’t quite figure it out. Um, OK, obviously I looked at Bxf2 and then I rejected it, but, I mean I just simply did not see the end of the line and more or less it’s unfortunate, but even then later I was still OK and then I just completely lost the thread, so I mean, sometimes things don’t go your way.”
Maurice: “The…we hear this often from really high level players like yourself that something goes wrong in the calculation. Can you ever explain it when that happens, because it seems unnerving even to you guys.”
Hikaru: “Um…well I mean…I’m not so upset about missing this one because I mean it wasn’t clear even though it’s the most intuitive move on the board. I mean, sometimes it happens, but again what can you do, sometimes, sometimes you don’t…I mean, if you don’t calculate perfectly, I mean that’s why, that’s why computers are just much better than all of us.”
Maurice: “Well, at least it’s calculating for sure. You’re in a tough situation now.”
It appears the wagons have been circled and the popular thing to say is that GM Nakamura finished last, without winning a single game, because his powers of calculation have deserted him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hikaru has been playing badly because he has lost faith in his judgement and doubt has crept in where there once was confidence. Losing will do that to a player no matter what game is being played. Simply put, Hikaru has lost confidence in his intuition. His suspect moves show this fact.
When on his way to becoming World Chess Champion Mikhail Tal played moves that defied calculation. There were no super computer programs in those days so humans could not calculate the ramifications of some of Tal’s moves. Tal could not calculate the ramifications of some of his moves, yet he played them anyway, because his intuition told him they were the right moves to play. Nakamura played like that at one time in the past. Now he seems to be trying to play like a calculating machine. He tells us this with his answer above to the question posed by GM Ashley. “I looked at Bxf2+ and then I rejected it…I just simply did not see the end of the line…”
There is a battle raging inside the head of Hikaru Nakamura. It is a battle between the emotional Captain Kirk and the logical Mr. Spock. Hikaru is an intuitive player, not a calculating machine. He is a poet of the chess board, not a philosopher. I say that with a line from Kevin L. Stoehr, professor of Humanities at Boston University, in mind. He wrote, “Philosophy typically strives for the clarity of definition and proposition. Poetry, in most cases, revels in ambiguity and mystery.” (From the essay, “You Who Philosophize Dylan: The Quarrel between Philosophy and Poetry in the Songs of Bob Dylan” in the book, “Bob Dylan and Philosophy: It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Thinking).” Later on in the same essay he writes, “Like the true poet that he is, Dylan believes that when it comes to the construction of his lyrics (and certainly the creation of the music itself, we might assume), the power of immediate intuition counts far more than the categorizing and ordering power of the intellect.” Hikaru Nakamura must somehow come to terms with the fact that he is an intuitive player and know that ” the power of immediate intuition counts far more than the categorizing and ordering power of the intellect.”
In an alternate universe Nakamura, at Zurich, after disposing of the former Human World Chess Champion, Vishy Anand, in round two, then beat the new Human World Champion, Magnus Carlsen, in lieu of losing the “won game” as he did in this universe. In that universe Hikaru played 21…Bxf6+ in lieu of the insipid 21…g6, bringing the sinister Topalov to his knees, making him 0-3, and having the black pieces against the Human World Champion the next round. Hikaru would have been in clear second place, only a half point behind Fab Car. Things would have turned out differently. After the tournament in which Nakamura and Caruana tied for first place, bizillionaire Rex Sinquefield put up one million dollars for a match between Naka and Fab Car, with the winner going on to play a match with Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen, with ten million dollars going to the winner. I regret it is impossible for me to give you any more details, as I am certain you would like to know who won the matches in the other universe, but Dr. Walter Bishop’s machine providing a window into the other universe destructed when Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin invaded Ukraine, which caused the other Magnus to decline the match with the other Vishy Anand. This caused World War III in which nuclear weapons were used, which destroyed the window on the other side.
In this universe the best thing our Hikaru Nakamura could do would be to take a page out of Bobby Fischer’s book and take a year or so off from chess to, as Human World Champion Magnus Carlsen said to GM Maurice Ashley after beating Naka for the ELEVENTH time, “Figure it out.”