The Milner-Barry Gambit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wait a minute…what if Adrian is a woman?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The kids are LOVING THIS!

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

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

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

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

White to move

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

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

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

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

And I am thinking “Oh Happy Day”

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

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

Coronavirus Rumors and Chaos in Alabama Point to Big Problems

Coronavirus rumors and chaos in Alabama point to big problems as U.S. seeks to contain virus

Todd C. Frankel, The Washington Post Published 12:35 pm EST, Sunday, March 1, 2020

ANNISTON, Ala. – Not long before local leaders decided, in the words of one of them, that federal health officials “didn’t know what they were doing” with their plan to quarantine novel coronavirus patients in town, a doctor here set out in a biohazard suit to stage a one-man protest along the highway with a sign. “The virus has arrived. Are you ready?” it asked.

The town didn’t think it was. Residents already were unnerved by strange stories posted on Facebook and shared via text messages about helicopters secretly flying in sick patients, that the virus was grown in a Chinese lab, that someone – either the media or the government – was lying to them about what was really going on.

The quarantine plan hastily hatched by the federal Department of Health and Human Services was soon scrapped by President Donald Trump, who faced intense pushback from Alabama’s congressional delegation, led by Republican Rep. Mike Rogers. Americans evacuated after falling ill aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan would not be coming to Anniston, a town of 22,000 people in north-central Alabama, after all. They would remain in the same Texas and California sites where they were taken after leaving the cruise ship.

What happened here over the past week illustrates how poor planning by federal health officials and a rumor mill fueled by social media, polarized politics and a lack of clear communication can undermine public confidence in the response to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease named covid-19. The rapidly spreading virus has rattled economies worldwide in recent weeks and caused the deaths of more than 2,900 people, mostly in China.

The panic and problems that burned through Anniston also provided a preview of what could unfold in other communities, as the spread of the virus is considered by health experts to be inevitable.

“Their little plan sketched out in D.C. was not thought out,” said Michael Barton, director of the emergency management agency in Calhoun County, where Anniston is located.

As local officials learned more, Barton added, “We knew then -”

We were in trouble,” said Tim Hodges, chairman of the county commission.

https://www.thehour.com/business/article/Coronavirus-rumors-and-chaos-in-Alabama-point-to-15096757.php#photo-19112018

One Pawn, Knight, Bishop, and Rook Save the Day

Sergei Tkachenko,

a Grandmaster of composition, is a member of the Ukrainian team that won the 5th World Chess Composition Tournament in 1997 and which came in second in 2000. 2004, 2013, and 2017, has produced four books in which white ends up with just one pawn, knight, bishop, or rook in the finale manages to win or draw.

I think of these small books as “little jewels,” as in diamonds! These amazing and fantastic studies, some classics from bygone ages, others originally published in the Soviet Union, or ex-Soviet countries, and Sergei’s own compositions, are a feast for those who enjoy expanding their minds and improve their play.

I recall reading a story about former US Chess Champion Stuart Rachels,

from Alabama, in which his father, James Rachels, a professor of Philosophy at the University of Alabama, a position in which one can now find Stuart, who followed in his father’s footsteps, said that when he came home Stuart would often greet him in the driveway while holding a Chess board with a study he had been attempting to solve. Stuart would have loved these books!

Each book contains one hundred problems. The paperback books measure four by six inches so they can be transported easily. They can also be purchased in Kindle form. Unfortunately only One Pawn and One Knight are available on Kindle now. They are free if you purchase a Kindle unlimited. How can one beat that price? In addition, the Endgame Books Available on the Forward Chess App, which can be found here: https://forwardchess.com/product-category/endgame-books/

Some examples follow:


Black to move

M.Klyatskin, 1924 (finale)

The first problem is No. 1 in the pawn book. It is one of the most well-known studies in Chess, and the solution should be known by anyone attempting to play Chess. This illustrates there are studies for everyone, from beginner to Grandmaster.


White to move and win

Authors: J. Kling and B. Horwitz, 1853

One more pawn study by the man famous for ending World Champion Jose Raul Capablanca’s

long winning streak (http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1102101):


White to move and draw

Author Richard Reti, 1925 (position after black’s first move)

From One Knight Saves the Day:

“Newbies to chess problems will also find analyzing these studies useful. The diverse set of tactical ideas involving a single knight in the finale will enable them to gain a deeper understanding of the knight’s resourcefulness. The first studies appeared in the game of shatranj, a precursor of modern chess (VII-VIII centuries). They were called mansubat (singular: mansuba), which can be translated from Arabic as “an arrangement.” Around 700 mansubat have survived, some of which involve a lone knight n the finale.”

Mansuba No. A1 from the XII century has spawned a vast number of studies:


White to move and win

Unknown author, XII century

The next is from one of the most famous Chess players in the history of the game:


White to move and win

Author Paul Keres, 1936

I had the good fortune to meet Paul Keres


A stamp released in the USSR in 1991 to mark the 75th anniversary of the birth of Paul Keres

at the Church’s Fried Chicken tournament in San Antonio, Texas in 1972. For those with a desire to learn about Paul Keres I highly recommend the magnificent six part series recently concluded @ https://chess24.com/en/read/news/paul-keres-prince-without-a-crown

The next volume, One Bishop Saves the Day,

contains a history of the development of the bishop. “In the game of shatranj, a precursor of modern chess, the bishop differed from its modern cousin. It could jump diagonally over both its own player’s and its opponent’s pieces. At the same time, this bishop was much weaker and more vulnerable: it moved diagonally only two squares at a time (no lese and no more)), which made it easy prey for more mobile pieces.” Examples are given, but you must purchase the book to see them, as I give only modern examples:


White to move and draw

Author Jan Timman, 1982 (Grandmaster Jan Timman

is the Honorary Editor of the best Chess magazine in the world, New In Chess)


White to move and draw

Author Pal Benko,

1967 (Everyone should be familiar with Pal Benko, the man who punched out by Bobby Fischer! http://chessmoso.blogspot.com/2010/12/getting-killed-over-chess-game.html)

In One Rook Saves the Day

we find:

“In the game of shatranj, a precursor of modern chess, the rook was the strongest piece. The rook featured frequently in ancient mansubat (singular:mansuba) – the first chess compositions. In those days, it was called a ‘rukh’ (sometimes spelt ‘roc’ or ‘rucke’), an ancient and powerful phoenix-like firebird so big that it could even carry elephants in its claws.”


Black to move. White achieves a draw

Author Sergei Tkachenko, 2000, the GM who put these wonderful books together. (http://www.gmsquare.com/composition.pdf)

Every day for I do not know how long I have gone to TWIC (http://theweekinchess.com/) every morning an attempt to solve the Daily Chess Puzzle as a way of firing my brain. Since receiving these books I attempt to solve at least one study. There have been days when I hold the position in my mind and reflect on it throughout the day. For example, yesterday I kicked back in our new recliner to rest, close my eyes, and there was the morning position. One day we were busy so I had not had time to attempt to solve the position that had been indelibly etched in my memory, but when I went to bed that night, there was the position, which I was still unable to solve. The next morning, after taking a couple of jolting slugs of coffee, I opened the book currently being read, looked at the page, and “Wa La,” there was the position! Getting up immediately I walked over to the desk graciously given to me by my friend Michael (Mulfish) Mulford when he moved to Lost Wages, set up the board, and solved the study!

The books are published by Elk and Ruby (https://twitter.com/ilan_ruby?lang=en).

‏I love these books I have come to think of as little nuggets of gold!

The Wesley So Forfeit

The St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center was in its infancy when I played in the St. Louis Open there in the spring of 2009. In the second round I faced a young boy, Kevin Cao, who was an expert at the start of the tourney. Playing my favorite Bishop’s opening the boy did not take advantage of the opportunities my play afforded, putting him in a difficult position. My opponent had been keeping score on a gizmo called “Monroi.” When the going got tough my opponent pulled the hood of his jacket over his head and placed his gizmo on the table, eschewing the actual chessboard in order to focus only on the chessboard on his gizmo. Since this violated the rules of chess, I lodged a protest with the TD’s. The rule is simple and clear: 11.3 a) During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard. (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/us-champs-r9-so-forfeited-amid-family-turmoil)

The tournament director’s did not see it that way. Since the Monroi was a USCF “approved” gizmo they had trouble ruling the only way they should under rule 11.3. They decided to “compromise” by asking my opponents father have his son not use the gizmo as a chessboard the rest of the game. I agreed to this, and so did the father, albeit reluctantly. This was done because I was playing a child. If my opponent had been an adult I would not have agreed, but insisted he be forfeited because the rule is clear. Things change dramatically when a child is involved.

After a few more moves my opponent’s position deteriorated, and he was in also in time pressure which happens with a G/2 time control. His father, seeing this while constantly hovering over the board, told his son to do go back to using his gizmo. The boy then pulled his hood over his head and placed his gizmo on the table and again eschewed the actual chessboard. I protested, the clocks were stopped and into the TD room we went. This time things became, shall we say, heated. Actually, the father went ballistic. Some time later the USCF issued a ruling castigating the father for “reprehensible behaviour.” The father took his son home and when his time ran out, I was declared the “winner.” The young boy dropped back into the “A” class because of the loss. He is now rated 2300+.

This was written about and discussed on the forum of the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center, which no longer exists, and some have said it is no longer in existence was because of what was written on it, none of it positive toward me. Simply put, I was vilified. Much was written on the USCF forum at the time, where I was also excoriated unmercifully.

I closely followed the recent US Championship tournament, the one now called the “Open” tournament, as opposed to the one called the “Women’s” tournament. GM Wesley So is obviously a supremely talented chess player. I found the interviews with him intriguing, to say the least. After the interview early in the tournament,maybe the very first round, the one in which he mentions playing weakly in the middle game after not seeing his foster mother for some time, (She had been with Jeanne Sinquefield he said) I told the Legendary Georgia Ironman something was obviously “not right” about Mr. So. I could not put my finger on it, but knew something was wrong.

Much has been written about Wesley being forfeited, and I have read everything found on the interweb. I would like to share some of it with you, then share a few comments of my own.

“Akobian complained that this distracted him”!? What is the motive behind this statement? To me it looks like a “sucker punch” from Akopian to get an easy win. Chess referees should according to the rules always apply common sense. And the nature of this incident considering the actual writing of So does not by any means amount to such a serious offence that So should forfeit his game against Akopian.” – thomas.dyhr (Thomas Dyhr, Denmark)

“This decision is absolutely ridiculous I take it So has been writing on his scoresheet sometimes which would show on his copy handed in and is against Fide rules ok and Rich told him this.
He gets a blank piece of paper instead to write some thought positives and Akobian complains to Rich who forfeits So.
Akobian if he was distracted by So’s actions should have asked him to stop first.
Rich should have seen that this was not writing on a scoresheet which he warned him about and if he was not allowing So to write on blank paper as well told him to stop immediately and if So complied let the game continue.
Akobian and Rich do not come out of this with any credit and Akobian should be ashamed of himself as a man of integrity.” – Gilshie (Thomas Gilmore, United Kingdom)

“I guess they wanted to guarantee that an American wins the US Championship…” – Shtick (Nick Daniels, Canada)
(All of the about quotes from: https://chess24.com/en/read/news/us-champs-r9-so-forfeited-amid-family-turmoil)

“PS: editorial comment to myself

Many chess writers and commentators seem to have little better to do this weekend than to talk about a silly forfeit incident in the US championship, so I will throw in a few of my own observations.
The first is that even though some tournament rule might give the tournament arbiter, Tony Rich, the POWER or the AUTHORITY to forfeit Wesley So , no rule –just because it is written–gave Tony Rich the RIGHT to forfeit Wesley So for doing what he did. So offended no one nor did he disrespect his opponent; he caused no disturbence, nor did he cheat. Wesley So’s actions were not designed to give him anything other than peace of mind and a calm spirit.
Please understand that I am not saying that Akobian–who is a perfect gentleman– acted wrongly when he drew to the arbiter’s attention So’s actions. Nor am I saying that Tony Rich acted incorrectly when he decided to act according to the written rules. And especially I am not saying that So was right when he lashed out when interviewed afterwards…there were CLEARLY better ways to have handled the situation.
What I am trying to say is that once more the game of chess DESERVES to be belittled because of this incident. ONCE MORE, mainstream media will target and make fun of us. Chess LOST some prestige on that day. When Jon Stewart recently did a humorous skit on the USCF trying to recruit F.Caruana for the national team, many–including ChessBase–thought it was also a bit insulting to the game of chess. Perhaps it was a bit insulting, even though it might not have been intended to be insulting…
But until the day we (the chess community) STOP allowing silly and poorly written rules to hurt and denigrate the noble game of chess in the eyes of normal and intelligent onlookers (and let us not forget about potential sponsors and patrons), then we deserve to be insulted a little bit more each time…” – Grandmaster Kevin Spraggett
(https://kevinspraggettonchess.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/it-took-a-really-long-time-but/)

“Guess my point is – even if he warned So, forfeiting is a staggering over-reaction. Threaten with forfeit = fine. Actually doing it = insane” – GM Jon Ludvig Hammer (Also from the aforementioned chess24 article, and if you click on this, you will find more comments, including this one by IM Mark Ginsburg, “Correct. Time penalty first. This action was wildly disproportionate as GM Hammer points out. Bad call.”)

GM Emil Sutovsky, President at Association of Chess Professionals, wrote this on his Facebook page (taken from the aforementioned chess24 article) “The arbiter’s decision to forfeit Wesley So for writing down irrelevant notes on his scoresheet during the game seems weird to me. Indeed, that can be seen as a violation of rules: ” 8.1 b. The scoresheet shall be used only for recording the moves, the times of the clocks, offers of a draw, matters relating to a claim and other relevant data.” And arbiter has repeatedly urged Wesley to stop it. But awarding a loss is way too harsh a punishment for such a minor sin. Yes, it can be disturbing for the opponent, and the arbiter could and should have deducted the time on Wesley’s clock for disturbing the opponent. And to keep deducting it (2 minutes each time), if needed after each move (warning Wesley, that a forfeit will come after 2nd or 3rd deduction). That was the most painless and logical decision. Unfortunately, the arbiter has preferred the most brutal solution. These things should not happen.”

It should be obvious from the above that the TD, Tony Rich, and the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center have not come out of this sordid incident in a favorable light. As GM Spraggett says, once again chess has suffered a black eye. I agree with Kevin when he writes, “…no rule –just because it is written–gave Tony Rich the RIGHT to forfeit Wesley So for doing what he did.” The reputation of the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center has been sullied.

The punishment should fit the crime. As GM Kevin Spraggett writes, “So offended no one nor did he disrespect his opponent; he caused no disturbence, nor did he cheat. Wesley So’s actions were not designed to give him anything other than peace of mind and a calm spirit.”

Contrast this with how I was treated at the St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center. My opponent violated the rule in order to gain an ADVANTAGE! GM Wesley So did no such thing. He is one of the elite chess players in the world and has no need to gain an advantage against any other player in the world.

If one closely examines the rule, “11.3 a) During play the players are forbidden to use any notes, sources of information or advice, or analyse any game on another chessboard,” it is clear the meaning is that a player cannot use any “NOTES, sources of information or advice,” to help, or assist him in regard to making his MOVES. A player cannot utilize a book, or gizmo containing chess information, or any “advice” from another person. There is no ambiguity here.

I was not there and do not know EXACTLY what Tony Rich said to Wesley, but from what I heard on the broadcast, and have now read, GM So was under the impression he could not write on his scoresheet, so he wrote on another piece of paper. How culpable is Tony Rich in this matter? Did he make himself COMPLETELY understood? Besides, as “Najdork” (Miguel Najdork, from Nepal) commented, “Also I would like to point out how from rule 8.1 you are allowed to write on the scoresheet any “relevant data”, and that is so vague that I guess you could write almost anything.” Who defines what is “relevant?” Your relevant may differ from what I consider “relevant.” For example, what if your opponent in a Senior event wrote on his scoresheet, “Take heart medication at 3 PM.” Who, other than GM Varuzhan Akobian, would complain? And who, other than Tony Rich would forfeit the man? I know Tony Rich. As Tony reminded me in 2009, I won our game at the Missouri State Championship in 2002 in Rollo. He was nice to me then, and has been every time I have encountered him, such as at the US Open in Indiana a few years ago. I liked Tony until he lost his mind. What could possibly have motivated the man to issue this stupid ruling, which will have lasting repercussions? If you were Wesley So would you join the American team at the Olympiad?

“In love with this rule: “12.2 The arbiter shall: b. act in the best interest of the competition.” Common sense.” – GM Jon Ludvig Hammer.

The forfeit defies common sense. “Judges are like umpires. Umpires don’t make the rule; they apply them. The role of an umpire and a judge is critical. They make sure everybody plays by the rules. But it is limited role. Nobody ever went to a ball game to see the umpire.” – John Roberts, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court to the Senate Judiciary Committee in September 2005. (http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/10/when-the-umpire-is-playing-for-the-other-team/262429/)
No one watches a chess tournament to see the TD. In lieu of watching Wesley So play GM Akobian, the world was instead subjected to a TD try and explain his “logic.” As many a TD has proven over the years, the less involved they are, the better the outcome.

None of this made any sense to me until reading this, “In the final reckoning Wesley So’s forfeit had no effect on the top three standings. Even a win against Akobian would only have tied So with Ray Robson on 7.5/11, and since he lost against Robson he would still have finished third. The person who has a real cause for complaint seems to be Gata Kamsky, who was edged out of 5th place – his goal in order to qualify for the World Cup later this year – by Akobian.” (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/nakamura-and-krush-are-2015-us-champions)

There it is, the reason for this whole debacle. It always comes down to “Who profits?”

The whole affair is disgusting, and sickening. It proves only that a TD has only one rule by witch to abide: Do What Thy Wilt! There should be some kind of punishment for a TD who oversteps his bounds. I have seen far too many tournament director’s puff out their chest while strutting around singing, “I’ve got the power,” such as Richard Crespo, the former TD spending his days in prison after abducting a woman and shooting it out with police in San Antonio, Texas a decade ago.
I am embarrassed, and ashamed, to be an American involved with chess. This putrid affair rivals anything I have written about FIDE and the nefarious Russians. United States chess has reached a new low. Tony Rich has now made everyone forget about L. Walter Stephens, the TD who awarded Sammy Reshevsky a win against Arnold Denker in the 1942 US Championship even though it was Sammy who lost on time. The game will die before the shock waves emanating from this debacle subside. The St. Louis Chess Club AND Scholastic Center touts itself as the US Capital of Chess. Knowledgable players and fans know that three of the players in the Championship, Sam Shankland, Sam Sevian, and Daniel Naroditsky, cut their chess teeth in the San Francisco Bay area, home of the oldest chess club in America, the venerable Mechanic’s Insitute Chess Room. If any area should be acknowledged as the “Capital of US Chess,” it is San Francisco, in lieu of the neuveau rich, faux chess club AND scholastic center in St. Louis, which has now been tarnished. No longer can it be considered a “leading light,” or “shining example.”

I can only hope this affair does not dessiccate Wesley So’s desire. If one watches the interviews with Mr. So during the US Chess Championship he will see a dramatic change in Wesley as the tournament progressed. Hopefully, this will fire him up and prod Wesley to play the kind of chess of which he is capable culminating in a match for the World Chess Championship.

Dominic “Lone Nut” Lawson

Dominic Lawson is the President of the English Chess Federation. An article he has written, “Dialogues of the deluded: Computers and the death of kibitzing,” was published in New In Chess 2014/7. He writes, “…the computer-aided kibitzing on chess websites has become increasingly ugly-and stupid.” This may, or may not be so, but what happens to the Royal game when fans lose interest and stop kibitzing?

Mr. Lawson goes on to further insult kibitzers, fans of chess, by writing, “There is an even less appealing explanation for some of the more savage online abuse of our leading grandmasters from patzers armed with large computer programs. Perhaps they are the chess equivalent of nonentities who try to assassinate great men-a grim feature of American public life over the decades. Just as the gun enables the inconsequential loner to somehow ‘equalize’ himself with, say, John Lennon or John F. Kennedy, so the computer allows the talentless to prove themselves ‘better’ than celebrated grandmasters. And via online comments they can broadcast their imaginary superiority to the world.”

This man, Lawson, is a citizen of Great Britain, yet he has chosen to disparage America. Need he be reminded of the assassinations that occurred in his country long before there was an America? Why the man chose to single out America when assassinations have taken place in almost every country in the world is beyond my comprehension. If that is not bad enough, Lawson has continued to promulgate the shibboleth that an “inconsequential loner,” i.e. a “lone-nut,” was responsible for the cold-blooded murder of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963 on the streets of Dealy Plaza in Dallas, Texas. Nothing could be further from the truth. With a modicum of research Lawson would have known this fact, but he obviously did not do his due diligence, and nor did the editors of New In Chess magazine, which is published in The Netherlands.

All of these people, Lawson and everyone at New In Chess, must be unaware that “The United States House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) was established in 1976 to investigate the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr..” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_House_Select_Committee_on_Assassinations)

“The Final Report of the House Select Committee on Assassinations presents the HSCA’s findings in the murders of both President John F. Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. The HSCA found a “probable conspiracy” in the JFK assassination, but was unable to determine its nature or participants.” (http://www.history-matters.com/archive/contents/hsca/contents_hsca_report.htm)

It is impossible for there to be a conspiracy of one “inconsequential loner.” Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, who rode in the front of the Presidential limousine during JFK’s assassination, describing what the Warren Commission would later describe as a single fatal shot said, “Now, in the seconds that I talked just now, a flurry of shots come into the car.” (http://history-matters.com/index.htm) Secret Service Agent Kellerman, who had taken a vow to protect the POTUS, sat in the front seat talking on the radio in lieu of thrusting himself into the back seat in order to try and save the life of his President. It has been written in many books on the assassination that Jackie Kennedy, after the assassination of her husband, was at a party and saw a picture of Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman. She then took a pen and wrote, “Killerman” on it.

Lee Harvey Oswald, a paid informant of the FBI at the time of the assassination, has been blamed for killing Kennedy. “No nitrates (contained in powders in gases when a weapon is discharged) were found on Oswald’s cheek when a paraffin test as conducted following his arrest.”
“Since the paraffin wax seeps deep down in to the pores, it is a very sensitive test,” wrote G. Paul Chambers in his scientific approach to the assassination, “Head Shot.” Even washing one’s face prior to the test will not remove all presence of nitrates. As someone who has worked extensively with ball powders, I can tell you that reacted powders have a very distinctive odor, which is difficult to get out of your skin and clothes. The presence of nitrates may indicate that he had fired a revolver, for instance (he was accused of shooting Officer Tippet on the same day as the assassination), however, nitrates could also have gotten on his hands from other sources, such as paper or ink. The absence of nitrates on his cheek is court-admissible evidence, however, that he had not fired a rifle that day.” This is taken from the book, “The Man Who Killed Kennedy: The Case Against LBJ,” by Roger Stone. This is only one of a plethora of books about the assassination of JFK by LBJ. Others are, “LBJ and the Conspiracy to Kill Kennedy,” by Joseph P. Farrell; “LBJ: The Mastermind of the JFK Assassination,” by Phillip F. Nelson; “Blood, Money, & Power: How LBJ Killed JFK,” by Barr McClellan; and LBJ and the Kennedy Killing, by eyewitness James T. Tague. Are you beginning to see a pattern, Mr. Lawson?

What Dominic Lawson wrote is an insult to all questioning and reasoning, Americans. What makes it even worse is the fact that the first books printed questioning the “official version” of the assassination of JFK were written in Europe by Europeans. The fact that New In Chess has printed such erroneous information only serves to sully the once fine reputation of the magazine. By publishing such nonsense New In Chess helps those who conspired to assassinate President John F. Kennedy. There is nothing better for the guilty than for people in positions of influence to continue to facilitate the cover-up, and the lie, that some “lone nut” shot JFK.

What has been written, and published, is analogous to my writing on this blog that the Queen of England ordered the assassination of Princess Diana. I cannot write that Queen Elizabeth of England, acting as a lone nut, ordered the cold-blooded murder of Princess Diana because I have no facts to confirm that the Queen of England, Elizabeth, gave the order to eliminate Princess Diana “by any means necessary.” For all I know, Harry Pearce, of MI-5, gave the order to agent 007, James Bond. But there are, and will continue to be, rumors. A reasoning man deals in facts, Mr. Lawson.

As for the assassination of John Lennon I would suggest Mr. Lawson to read, “Rethinking John Lennon’s Assassination: The FBI’s War on Rock Stars,” by Salvador Astucia.