Reading the New South

The following article appeared in the venerable New York Times after the last post was composed, and posted, as if by synchronicity…

After getting to know a little about me a fellow in Louisville, Kentucky, Rick Rothenberg, from Indiana, said I reminded him of another Southerner he had known earlier. Rick said, “The man was so Southern he would not even go out of the house if the wind was blowing from the north!”

Reading the New South

A group of forward-thinking, upstart journals and websites are exploding the stereotypes so many attach to this place and its people.

By Margaret Renkl

Contributing opinion writer

Sept. 17, 2018


Some of Lyndsey Gilpin’s collection of books on the South.CreditCreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

NASHVILLE — I was a graduate student in Philadelphia when James Watt, the former Secretary of the Interior of the United States, came to campus in 1984. Mr. Watt’s brief tenure in federal office was characterized by an almost cartoonish villainy. Rolling Stone magazine called his attitude toward the environment a “rip-and-ruin view of our natural resources, land, water, parks and wilderness.” That night Watt argued for letting each state set its own air- and water-safety standards, a position that makes no sense if you’re aware that rivers and winds don’t respect state borders.

During the Q. and A., I took my turn at the microphone to make this point. “Sir,” I said, “I’m from Alabama.” Instantly that giant audience of Pennsylvanians broke into laughter. Who was this cracker daring to voice an opinion about federal environmental policy?

Well, that was 1984, you’re probably thinking. Today we don’t judge people by their accents any more than we judge them by their skin color. People know better now.

Except they don’t. The political polarization of our own day means that a region like the South, a red voting bloc in national elections, is a source of continual liberal ridicule, no matter the subject. In June I wrote about the transcendently beautiful Mobile-Tensaw Delta, one of the most ecologically diverse places in the country. When I posted the link on Facebook with a note about its magic, someone commented, “Except that it’s in Alabama.” As though nothing in the whole state could possibly have any value at all.

As stereotypes go, this one surely doesn’t rank among the top 10 most objectionable human prejudices, but it stings even so. Fortunately there is plenty of on-the-ground proof to counter it. Among the most important is a raft of publications, many so new they’re still on shaky financial footing, that aim to convey the genuine complexities of the modern American South. They are planted in the South and created by Southerners, people who love this place but who nevertheless see it all too truly.

Unlike lifestyle glossies like Southern Living and Garden & Gun (which is assiduously apolitical, despite what its name might suggest), these publications blast past sweet-tea-and-moonshine preconceptions to convey the nuances of a region where people are rarely as ornery and dumb as they’re held to be in the national imagination.

The oldest of them is the Oxford American, founded in Oxford, Miss., but now based in Conway, Ark., which was first launched in 1992. (A print quarterly, it has foundered a number of times over the years, ceasing publication until new funding arrived, which somehow always has.) In many ways, it set the tone for all the publications that followed, celebrating the artistic innovations of the region but refusing to gloss over its manifold shortcomings.

The latest issue includes a nonfiction report by Kelsey Norris on a Nashville oral-history project focusing on the descendants of slaves; Beth Macy’s profile of the Appalachian playwright and novelist Robert Gipe; “Bikers,” a poem by the Virginia native Kate Daniels about her brothers (“What foreign lives they lived / With their deer hunts, and their / Love of speed, and their boring jobs / In factories”) and a short story by David Wesley Williams about a hitchhiker stuck in West Memphis, Ark. The story is called “Stay Away From Places With Directions in Their Names.”

The tagline for Facing South, an online publication of the progressive Institute for Southern Studies in Durham, N.C., is “A Voice for a Changing South.” The site focuses on politics, history and human rights, with recent articles on voting rights during Reconstruction, South Carolina’s present refusal to evacuate convicts in advance of Hurricane Florence and delays in compensation for people sickened by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Scalawag, another nonprofit publication out of Durham, also reports regional politics with a progressive eye, though it covers regional art and literature, too, and includes a section titled, simply, “Witness.” The magazine, which is published online and in print, fosters “critical conversations about the many Souths where we live, love and struggle” and aims to empower “activists, artists and writers to reckon with Southern realities as they are, rather than as they seem to be.” Recent stories confront toxic masculinity, explain how to fight racism through the auspices of craft beer, collect a range of Latinx poetry from around the American South, and report on Syrian cuisine in small-town Georgia.

The Southern Foodways Alliance, based in Oxford, Miss., publishes a print quarterly called Gravy. Despite its name, the journal does more than report on cuisine, continuing the work of the alliance itself by showcasing, through food, “a South that is constantly evolving, accommodating new immigrants, adopting new traditions and lovingly maintaining old ones.” The latest issue includes an article on “The Queer Pleasures of Tammy Wynette’s Cooking” by Mayukh Sen and a profile by Osayi Endolyn of Joe Stinchcomb, an African-American bartender who invented five new cocktails, to celebrate Black History Month. The drinks had names like “Blood on the Leaves” and “(I’m Not Your) Negroni,” and they definitely raised some hackles down there in Mississippi.

For anyone still hoping to define Southern literature, storySouth is an online literary journal based in Greensboro, N.C. It publishes “the best fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry that writers from the New South have to offer,” according to its website. Subjects that seem to play into regional stereotypes can be found there at times. The current issue features a poem called “Roadkill” by Megan Blankenship and one by William Woolfitt called “Grassy Branch Pentecostal Church, Face of Christ on Tin,” for example. But read the poems: This is not your unlamented Agrarian’s Southern literature.

Perhaps the liveliest of the whole bunch is an absolutely wonderful online publication called The Bitter Southerner, an irreverent Atlanta-based site that truly covers the cultural waterfront, celebrating the lunacy of genuine homegrown geniuses, lifting up the unsung heroes of the region, and peeking behind the veil of great cultural institutions, and all while holding power to account in a part of the world where power has too often lost its uneducated mind.

But it’s the newest of these publications that most often captures my own attention these days. Southerly began in late 2016 as a weekly newsletter of investigative journalism, plus curated links to “News Flying Under the Radar” by other journalists around the region. Until this summer, when it received a grant from Solutions Journalism Network, it was funded entirely by Patreon subscribers, who monthly contribute an average of five dollars each through an online portal. Those supporters are still crucial to its survival. Lyndsey Gilpin — the magazine’s founder, editor and publisher — is a Northwestern University-trained journalist based in her hometown, Louisville, Ky., and her weekly reports from impoverished and often oppressed corners of the South have given a microphone to people whose voices are rarely heard in conversations about climate change, environmental exploitation or economic disparity.


Lyndsey Gilpin, founder of Southerly, an online magazine, near her home in Louisville, Ky.CreditAndrew Spear for The New York Times

In July, Southerly grew into a full-fledged “independent media organization” that “covers the intersection of ecology, justice and culture in the American South,” according to its new website, and already it is taking no prisoners. The site — in partnership with The Montgomery Advertiser and Scalawag — launched with a four-part series on the breakout of tropical diseases in the rural South owing to failing sewage infrastructure. On Sept. 22, Southerly will convene a public discussion in Hayneville, Ala., about poverty-related illnesses and how communities can address the governmental crisis that spawned them.

Southerly’s mission statement sets out some uncompromising goals: “This region stands to bear the brunt and lose the most from the effects of climate change. It is experiencing massive economic shifts from a changing energy industry. The South is the fastest urbanizing area of the United States, but it is also the most economically distressed. Southerners deserve a publication that covers the nuances of their environment, history and communities without being condescending or stereotypical, without parachuting in from large metropolitan areas. The rest of the world deserves to know about the creative ways communities here are adapting to these changes, and the challenges that come with that.”

You could almost call it a mission statement for celebrating — and transforming — the South itself.

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Psycho Taxi Boy Checkmated

My birthday is tomorrow, or today, depending…Technically, according to legend, I was born at 7 AM, August 21, 1950, in the back seat of a Ford convertible on the way to Emory hospital. The story handed down says my mother’s cousin, Carrie, was in the back seat attempting to keep me from coming by keeping mothers legs together. I was having none of it, and pushed my way into the world.

The next day at the blog begins at 8 PM, so technically it is already August 21, but then, it’s always five o’clock somewhere according to fellow Georgian and country singer Alan Jackson. I have therefore decided to publish a couple of posts that are personal in nature. Without further ado…

Someone did an internet search of yours truly finding my name, Mike Bacon, contained in a blog post. “Is that you?” he inquired. After checking it out, honesty compelled me to reply it was indeed me about whom she had written. If unaccustomed to reading something someone has written about you it can be disconcerting. I write about other people, some of whom like it, some are indifferent, and some do not like it at all. I have always appreciated hearing what others think of me, which seldom happens unless someone wants to give you a piece of their mind.

I met Debbie while driving a cab. As a matter of fact it was an “outlaw” cab because I was in Atlanta and the cab was registered in another county. I was in that particular cab because the folks at Checker Cab Company wanted me to better learn other areas of the metropolitan Atlanta area which would help if I decided to become a dispatcher. Unfortunately, the manager of the company feared I was there to take his job. Long story short, the manager of this particular company, a fat, smarmy type was “in love” with some woman and was apparently embezzling funds to spend on “the love of his life” from the small company which had earlier been purchased by Checker Cab Co. I voiced my suspicions to the supervisor, who happened to be a friend. He told the owners, who did not want to hear it, and I left the company. Later my friend, TDub, informed me an audit had been instituted because of my suspicions and it was found the guy had been, in fact, embezzling funds…

Debbie and I had a short, tempestuous, relationship. Some of my acquaintances thought of her as a “new age” type. She had an apartment in a nice, upscale, area and asked me to move in with her. I was only there a few days because the manager of the property did not want a taxi parked anywhere near the place. Debbie wanted me to talk with the lady in hopes talking with me would dissuade the woman. Even though I told her it would be a waste of time she convinced me to talk with the woman. It was a waste of time, and I moved immediately…

Debbie told me she had been in the import-export business, traveling the world making purchases which she would sell while turning a profit. Upon learning I had been in the sports memorabilia business she said, “So you were in retail, too!”

The last time I saw Debbie she had gotten touch to invite me to her houseboat on Lake Lanier. I was informed she was on the lake as a way of “getting off the grid,” because of a “deal gone wrong.” I did not ask her to elaborate…

After beginning this blog a comment was left by Debbie. We corresponded via email for some time and I learned she had gotten heavily involved with Reikki, and Thai massage. She sent a picture of her and of her house/business in Indiana:

What can I say other than Debbie is a colorful, and quirky, woman…

What follows is from her blog. Rather than providing a link I have decided to print the whole thing. If you decide to read it I would like you to understand something important. The piece is a mixture of fact and fantasy. For the record, I am agnostic. Debbie writes, “I got in the passenger seat alongside Mike…” If one drives a cab in Atlanta it is OK to have a female in the front seat with no passenger(s) in the back ONLY IF THE METER IS OFF! If the meter is on there must be people in the back seat, with the front seat utilized only in that event. This is because there is a law against it, which dates to a time cab drivers would have a woman in the front seat with them who was amenable to administering to the needs of certain passengers, if you get my drift…The police are very strict about enforcing that particular law. In addition, when a cabbie arrived at a “Gentleman’s Club” he was, at the time I drove, given a certain amount of cash per each passenger, which varied at each joint, and the new ones would ‘up the ante’ as a way of having more patrons come through the door. No cab driver would allow ANYONE to sit in a cash seat. So her riding around in my cab while I was on duty NEVER HAPPENED! I will, though, give Debbie “poetic license,” along with the caveat “Creativity comes from the dark side,” a quote from Glenn Frey.

It is written: “Mike claimed that the most lucrative night of the year for Atlanta’s cabbies was the last night of the Southern Baptist convention. After sending their families and attendees away in time for Sunday services back home, a select group of pastors, choir directors, youth leaders and the like stayed on for a little private convening of their own…at the infamous Cheetah strip club.”

Evidently I regaled Debbie with tales of cabbie daze. Unfortunately, she is writing a couple of decades after the fact and has obviously misconstrued some things. For instance, I never drove as “Cab load after cab load of these church guys were carried from their fancy midtown hotels to the club all night long.” As a matter of fact my most memorable trip to the infamous Cheetah Club culminated with one of the three passengers in the back seat being ARRESTED. To make matters worse, the drunken fool claimed to be an assistant DA in some small town in South Carolina. I asked them nicely to “tone it down.” Two did, but the fellow in the middle refused to comply even when the other two begged him to be quiet. He ridiculed me for driving a taxi, constantly making disparaging comments. I took more than necessary because no cab driver wants to lose a fare. I was fed up with his verbal abuse so pulled over on Spring street and ordered them out of the cab. The assistant DA began screaming, “YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM!” I AM AN ASSISTANT DA!” I replied, “Mister, I don’t give a shit who you are. If you were the Attorney General you would have to abide by MY RULES because it is MY CAB, and when you are in MY CAB I AM THE SUPREME CAB CONTROLLER!!!”

The other two passengers attempted to talk sense to the idiot, but he was out of his mind DRUNK, and refused to listen. They exited the cab, but Mr. Ass DA refused, so I called the dispatcher, who notified the police. Upon arriving the cops wanted to hear what I had to say, which pissed him off IMMENSELY. He continued to talk, saying things like, “Why are you talking to a lowly CAB DRIVER. YOU DON’T KNOW WHO I AM! I AM AN ASSISTANT DA! YOU SHOULD BE TALKING TO ME!”

One of the cops responded, “Sir, I don’t care if you are the Attorney General. I want to talk with the cabbie. If you do not SHUT-UP you are going to JAIL!” This pissed him off even more and he continued his drunken blather, so was slapped in irons and taken to jail. After leaving I got back into MY CAB and started to drive off. The two quiet drunks said, “Hey, you ain’t gonna leave us here on the side of the road are you?” Before hitting the gas I said, “Call a CAB!”

I will admit that during convention time I drove “Cab load after cab load…” to and from strip clubs because that was my JOB. But I never drove “church guys” because it was a well known fact that the church types preferred staying in their rooms to watch porn. Anyone around during that time will tell you the rentals of porn videos was off the charts at every hotel in the city when the religious types came into town. Business was so bad at the strip clubs many of the girls did not come to work and most of those who did were sent home.

With this in mind I give you…

Psycho Taxi Boy on a Terribly Hot Sunday Night with the Southern Baptist Convention

13 January 2017

“Want to go for a ride? We haven’t talked in awhile…”

I recognized that drawl…
Mike Bacon…miscreant, Atlanta Chess Champion cum gypsy cab driver…
Against my better judgment, I said ok.
“Meet me out front in half an hour.”

The uniquely infuriating Mike Bacon aka Psycho Taxi Boy…
Our last big blowup was 5 or 6 months before.
He had insulted me to the limits of my patience…over some alleged
scandalous behavior of church leaders.
Now Michael had no patience for religious types.
I had little myself, but he had brought his point home
in a stunningly dreadful way.

Now, word for word, no one on the planet has a better command
of the English language than a denizen of the American South.
They are easily the most colorful, artful and entertaining of the speakers.
They certainly do the most with the least.
Homespun wit and native intellect merge in a wickedly punchy brew.
Consider the likes of Tom Robbins if you don’t believe me…

Having ferried all manner of people from around the world in his cab
all those years, Michael had an endless supply of quirky stories.
Ever the acute observer of the human condition, driving cab allowed him
to travel the world from the comfort of his front seat…affording him
not only a unique education, but the freedom to compete in chess tournaments and still keep a roof over his head.
We had met in his cab, in fact.
It was Halloween night, but that is another story…

Michael had surmised that I was still somewhat in the chokehold
of old time religion and needed some wising up.
There was nothing defensible in religion, according to Michael.
We debated the topic hotly one more time.
He told me exactly why he had no faith in those hypocrites.
Michael waxed virulent that day and we blasted apart.
I was still stinging from his attack months later…

Mike claimed that the most lucrative night of the year for Atlanta’s cabbies
was the last night of the Southern Baptist convention.
After sending their families and attendees away in time for Sunday services
back home, a select group of pastors, choir directors, youth leaders
and the like stayed on for a little private convening of their own…
at the infamous Cheetah strip club.
Now the only strip club that was open on a Sunday night was the Cheetah.
Cab load after cab load of these church guys were carried from their fancy midtown hotels to the club all night long.
Mike went into shocking and sordid detail, much to my horror and dismay.
He just wouldn’t let up!
Tempers flared!
I didn’t care if I ever saw Michael again!

Then the soft drawl of his voice that late afternoon…
Much as I hated to admit it, I missed him…
his surly, recalcitrant humor, his edgy droll outlook,
not to mention the peculiar metaphysical experiences
that spontaneously erupted whenever we got together…

I got in the passenger seat alongside Mike, unsure of how to reconnect.
He was a little tucked inside, as well.
He drove toward downtown Atlanta in silence.
Then a little cautious chit chat.
Things eased up. It was good spending time with him again.

First stop…one of the most expensive hotels in the heart of midtown.
Three well-dressed gentlemen got into the back seat.
Destination: the Cheetah club.
Mike dutifully dropped them off, wishing them a good night.
Moments later, 2 men emerged from the club with hookers
on their arms.
They drunkenly waved Michael down and squeezed in.
The cab suddenly reeked of alcohol, cigar smoke and cheap perfume.
Repugnant! I rolled my window down.
Destination: the hotel we had just come from.
I squirmed uncomfortably.
There was too much activity in the back seat for me, but Michael was unfazed.

Finally they exited the cab, only to be replaced by a clump of men
filling the back seat once more, nervously requesting the Cheetah.
They didn’t seem the type, but looks could be deceiving, I reasoned.
None of them seemed the type, but perhaps I was naïve.

Three pale, overweight drunk guys clambered into the back seat
upon their exit…all sporting wedding bands.
Back to the nice hotel.
The men were foul-mouthed…pretty vile, actually.
I glanced at Mike a few times, wincing at their remarks.
He remained impassive.
‘It is what it is,’ I could almost hear him say.

As the night wore on, the fares were rowdier, more crude.
The same sickening circuit.
Too many scantily-clad women draped over their fat arms.
Then some lines of cocaine were snorted in the back seat.
I was churning inside, wondering how I could escape the cab.
I’d had enough!
The men were nothing short of bestial, despite their fine suits,
expensive watches and other ostentatious trappings of wealth.

I overheard their conversations. There was no escaping it.
I was already mortified, but things were about to get worse…
A snatch of conversation held me riveted.
The men were bragging about their conquests, each one trying to best the others.
That’s when I heard them mocking their wives…their mistresses…
and their congregations.

My blood boiled, my stomach turned…
I realized what night it was…
Sunday night- the infamous last night of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The fine suits, conservative haircuts, wedding bands, their coarse mockery,
the long line of cabs making the non-stop circuit between the Cheetah
and the fine hotels.

“Michael! Please get me out of here!!!”
Michael finished one more run…for emphasis.
Then he pulled to the side of the road so I could retch.
I shook with revulsion…and understanding.
He had exposed the rabble of southern Baptist preachers.

checkmate…

https://bliss-writes.ghost.io/psycho-taxi-boy-on-a-terribly-hot-sunday-night-with-the-southern-baptist-convention/

Dedicated to Ms. Debra Robinson

Taxi Taxi

Cher

All these streets are never ending
Tie ’em in a knot
Drive me through a red light
Waiting for everyone to stop
Sing to me like Pavarotti
Sing to me of Spain
Take me to you operetta
And make it rain
[Chorus:]
Taxi, taxi, give me a ride
I’m gonna take you to the other side
Taxi, taxi, turn off your light
I’m gonna ride with you all night
Take me to your meditation
Take me to your door
Show me love’s sweet revelation
Lying on your floor
Hole me in your arms forever
Take me to the end
Drive me to the edge of nowhere
And sing again
(chorus)
You’re as cool as Colorado
And Orpheus on fire
Crash the car into a rainbow
Here with me tonight
All the satellites are shining
In the starry sky
I can feel your arms surround me
Higher and higher
(chorus)
Taxi, taxi, taxi, taxi
Sing to me like Pavarotti
Sing to me
(chorus)
Taxi, taxi, give me a ride
I’m gonna ride with you all night
I’m gonna ride with you all night
I’m gonna ride with you all night
(repeat 2 times)
Taxi, taxi

https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/3062837/Cher/Taxi+Taxi

The Passive Caro-Kann

“If you play the Caro-Kann when young, what are you going to play when old?” – Bent Larsen

Federico Perez Ponsa (2553)

vs Hikaru Nakamura (2781)

Gibraltar Masters 2018

Round 3

1. e4 c6 2. Nc3 d5 3. Nf3 Bg4 4. h3 Bxf3 5. Qxf3 e6 6. Be2 g6 7. O-O Bg7 8. Rd1
d4 9. Nb1 Ne7 10. d3 c5 11. a4 Nbc6 12. Na3 O-O 13. Qg3 a6 14. Bf4 e5 15. Bd2
Rb8 16. Rf1 b5 17. axb5 axb5 18. f4 Bh6 19. Qh4 Bxf4 20. Bxf4 exf4 21. Rxf4 Ne5
22. Raf1 N7c6 23. Qf2 b4 24. Nb1 b3 25. c4 Nb4 26. Qg3 f6 27. Kh2 Qd6 28. Na3
Nc2 29. Nb5 Qe7 30. R4f2 Ra8 31. Rb1 Ne3 32. Na3 Rf7 33. Re1 Kh8 34. Bf1 Re8
35. Nb1 f5 36. Nd2 Qc7 37. Kg1 f4 38. Qh4 Ref8 39. Be2 Qa5 40. Qg5 Qxd2 41.
Qxe5+ Kg8 42. Rb1 Qc2 43. Rbf1 Nxf1 44. Bxf1 Qc1 45. Qxc5 f3 46. g3 Qe3 47. Qd5
h5 48. h4 Kh7 49. Qg5 Ra7 50. Qc5 Ra1 51. Qe7+ Kg8 52. Qe6+ Kg7 53. Qe7+ Rf7
0-1

Does this mean Naka has grown old, at least as a Chess player? Seeing this game caused me to reflect on a post found at GM Kevin Spraggett’s website recently, Samurai Spassky. Kevin provides Spassky’s original annotations to a Caro-Kann game played in 1959: Boris Spassky vs Aaron Reshko, St.Petersburg. Also provided is a PDF of a 1969 Soviet-Life article containing Spassky’s thoughts on the Caro-Kann, which I transcribed:

“The Caro-Kann is quite popular now, but it is usually employed by passive-minded players. The main idea of this system is that Black temporarily declines a Pawn battle in the middle and strives, instead, to quickly as possible finish deploying his forces, especial the Queen’s Bishop, before the King’s Pawn move P-K3. Only after this does he launch vigorous operations in the center. The result is that Black’s position is solid, even though passive. The weakness of this system is that it offers White too much a wide a choice of possible patterns of development, which provides not only chess, but also psychological trumps.”
http://www.spraggettonchess.com/samurai-spassky/

Former US Chess Champion Stuart Rachels,

now an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama, said, “Play main lines.” That may be good advice for top flight players, but for the rest of us, “Where is the fun in that?” I have never, ever, not once, played Bf5. After 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 e5 I have only played 3…c5 and Qb6. Upon returning to Chess after leaving the Royal game for the more lucrative Backgammon I played mostly obscure and little known openings, such as what was called by Kazim Gulamali,

the “Caro-Kann Krusher.” 1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 f3!

Now there is a book on the move…

There are so many multifarious opening lines, yet top players continue to trot out the same ol’, same ol’…BORING!

Kevin plays the “passive” 5…exf6 in this game, which features double doubled pawns, and a Queen sacrifice!

Daniel H. Campora (ARG)

(

vs Kevin Spraggett (CAN)

Portugal Open 2018 round 06

B15 Caro Kann, Forgacs variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. Bc4 Bd6 7. Qe2+ Be7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 Nd7 11. h3 Bh5 12. g4 Bg6 13. Bb3 a5 14. a4 Nb6 15. c4 Bb4 16. Rad1 Re8 17. Nh4 Be4 18. f3 Bg6 19. Nxg6 hxg6

White to move

20. Qf2 Qe7 21. Rd3 Nd7 22. Bf4 Nc5 23. Re3 Ne6 24. c5

Black to move

Nxf4 25. Rxe7 Rxe7 26. Qc2 Ne2+ 27. Kg2 Nxd4 28. Qc4 Nxb3 29. Qxb3 Bxc5 30. Qc4 b6 31. Rd1 Rae8 32. Rd2 Re1 33. h4 g5 34. h5 Rg1+ 35. Kh3 Rh1+ 36. Rh2 Rhe1 37. Rd2 Rh1+ 38. Rh2 Rb1 39. Re2 Rd8 40. Qc2 Rh1+ 41. Kg2 Rg1+ 42. Kh2 Ra1 43. Kg2 Bd4 44. Qxc6 Be5 45. Qxb6 Rdd1 46. Rxe5 fxe5 47. Qb8+ Kh7 48. Qxe5 Rd2+ 49. Kg3 Rg1+ 50. Kh3 Rh1+ 51. Kg3 Rg1+ 52. Kh3 ½-½

Rea B. Hayes vs John Harold Belson

1936 Canadian Championship

Toronto

B15 Caro-Kann, Forgacs variation

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nf6 5. Nxf6+ exf6 6. Bc4 Bd6 7. Qe2+ Be7 8. Nf3 O-O 9. O-O Bg4 10. Be3 Nd7 11. Rad1 Qc7 12. h3 Bh5 13. Bf4 Qxf4 14. Qxe7 Nb6 15. Bb3 Rae8 16. Qa3 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Nd5 18. Bxd5 cxd5 19. Qd3 f5 20. Rde1 a6 21. c3 Qg5+ 22. Kh2 f4 23. Qd2 Re6 24. Rxe6 fxe6 25. Re1 Rf6 26. Re5 Qh4 27. Qe1 Kf7 28. Qe2 g5 29. Qf1 h5 30. Qg2 Rg6 31. Re1 g4 32. fxg4 hxg4 33. Rg1 b5 34. Kh1 g3 35. Qf1 Rh6 0-1

Tribute to Rea Hayes

Rea B. Hayes

October 31, 1915 – February 15, 2001

Rea Bruce Hayes was born in Weston Ontario, Canada, on October 31, 1915. His first memory of chess was when he was taught to play at age eleven by a boy in the neighborhood. When he thought his friend was being inconsistent about the rules, Rea “read the article in the 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica”. From that point on he was the teacher.

Rea joined the St. Clair Chess Club in Toronto and became its champion a few years later. This club later became the Canada Dairies Chess Club.

He moved to Greeneville, South Carolina in 1953 and won his first tournament at Columbia. One trophy was for being the South Carolina Open Champion, the other one was for being the highest scoring South Carolina resident. At the time, no one expected a resident to win the state tournament outright. In 1954, Rea was again the South Carolina Open Champion, but he only received one trophy this time.

While living in South Carolina, Rea tied for third with a 5-2 score in the 1953 Southern Open in Columbia. He finished in a foursome of 5.5-1.5 scores in the 1954 Southern Open in Atlanta and had to settle for fourth on tie breaks.

From South Carolina, Rea transferred to Chattanooga, TN for a two year period. Having just moved, he entered the 1955 Southern Open in Chattanooga and won the Southern Championship with a 6-1 score.

Rea lived the next 30 years of his life in Cincinnati, Ohio. There, he organized the Parkway Chess Club and the City League, a chess team competition. He revived the city championship which had been abandoned for years, winning both the city and club championship many times. For his efforts on behalf of the club, Rea is an honorary member.

In Ohio, the annual Ohio Championship was captured outright by Rea in 1963, winning with only one draw. Several other times, he tied for first in the event. The Region V Championship was his at least once. He was instrumental in organizing the Cincinnati Open, the second annual tournament in Ohio. He was also the president of the Ohio Chess Association. Rea was twice honored by his Cincinnati club, as Chessman of the Decade (1958-1968) and again when he left Cincinnati in 1987.

Before leaving Cincinnati, Rea retired from Union Central Life where he worked as an actuary. Rea visited New Zealand in 1980-1981. Playing chess with players in the Hastings area, one of them paid him the compliment of saying that if Rea lived there, he would be the second or third player in the country.

During 1981, he traveled to Sun City West in Arizona, to take part in the 1st US Senior Open tournament. Although ranked 7th of the eight upper section players, he won top honors. He conceded only one draw, to the player ranking below him. He also won the upset prize, a nice wristwatch, for beating the favorite, Eric Marchand.

Rea’s lasting legacy is being the first US Senior Champion. The Senior trophy now rests at the US Chess Hall of Fame in Washington DC with his name engraved first on the list of champions.

He moved to Chattanooga for the second time in 1990 and became a regular player at the tournaments in and around the state of Tennessee. In 1992, he entered the 46th Annual Tennessee Open in Oak Ridge and captured State Champion honors. He had three wins and three draws.

Since his coming to Chattanooga and the Chattanooga Chess Club, Rea fulfilled the role of Chessman of the Area. He served in almost every club capacity over the years, including president and newsletter editor. All of his contributions and accomplishment have prompted the Chattanooga Chess Club to elect him Life Member and hold an annual tournament in his honor.

http://www.chattanoogachess.org/rea-hayes/

Land of the Sky XXXI

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

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

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

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

Gene Nix (1907) vs Randal Ferguson 2199

Round one

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

The next game features the Yerminator, GM Alex Yermolinsky,

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

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

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

Round two

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

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

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

Round 3

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

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

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

Round four

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

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

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

Round five

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Michael Kliber (1915) vs David High (2055)

Last round

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

Alexander Rutten (1973) vs Peter Michelman (2065)

Round 4

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

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

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

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

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