Cheating At Chess: “Killing Da Wabbit”

I posted a notification of my blog post, Yet Another Chess Cheating Scandal, ( at the All Things Chess section of the USCF forum on Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:17 am. When checking out the forum this morning I learned posts were still being made as of last Friday, August 23. Something in one of the posts caught my eye:

“Players who frequently go to the bathroom are always suspect.”

This is contained in a post by the resident philosopher of USCF forum, Thomas Magar, known as “tmagchesspgh” on the forum. I, along with many other Chess players “…are always suspect.” As a Senior I must head to the head inordinately more often than a younger player. Upon reflection I must admit to having to go to the men’s room during a Chess tournament far more often than normal even when younger. Copious amounts of coffee no doubt contributed to making the frequent trek. There is a recollection of finding myself on the same schedule as a famous International Master at the Governor’s Cup in South Dakota in 2002. IMJD later mentioned the fact, as he, too, had noticed the synchronicity. At another tournament I was on schedule with a GM with whom I was on speaking terms. After the tournament I mentioned not having played like a GM. “Yes,” he agreed, “But you pee like a GM!”

The full post from Mr. Magar:

by tmagchesspgh on Wed Aug 21, 2019 3:08 pm #337358

Facial expressions, hand and arm movements, coughing, and breathing patterns can convey information in a very subtle way if only to alert the player that the position on the board is critical requiring more time. Before I asked him to leave the playing hall at one tournament, I watched one chess dad be almost a semaphore of hand movements and arched eyebrows. That is low tech and may or may not be confusing for a child. When scanning a crowd of players it is useful for a TD to see who is looking with some frequency at an adult or other player during a game. Players who frequently go to the bathroom are always suspect. If a player locks eyes with me across a room, I always wonder what he/she is doing that he needs to see if the TD is watching his behavior.

The worst incident I have heard of was an adult sitting out in the hallway with his daughter’s position on his tablet. How that position got there was a mystery unto itself. When the girl went to the loo, her father was alleged to have told her to “play what you have just seen” while they were huddling over the device. Other parents turned them in. This was just for a trophy and a few rating points in an under-section. Some people cheat because they can, not just for money, trophies, or rating points. There is an amoral approach to competition which irks other players who play honestly. If caught, the offenders shrug it off as a cost of doing business, much like what we see in the real world. The cynical baseball adage, “If you aren’t cheating you are not trying,” is offensive to real players of every sport and game who bust their brains and bodies trying to prepare for competition.

by gwschenk on Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:09 pm #337210

Seriously, though. Why would someone pay the big entry fees to a CCA tournament, for instance, knowing that they’ll be playing a computer for prize money in their class? How rampant is cheating? Do we know? I heard of a FM banned from a small local club for using a phone to cheat. If 2300s will cheat for a $50 prize, what else goes on?

During a game I find myself needing to go to the bathroom, but because the game is in a crucial spot, if I leave will my opponent think I’m cheating? Will the TDs have to start issuing Depends to all players and just make leaving the hall forbidden?

by MikeMurray on Tue Aug 20, 2019 8:51 pm #337336

I agree with GM Spraggett that only a small percentage of cheats are caught. All the cases we’ve discussed in this forum have involved players drawing suspicion by improving way too fast, or by taking excessive restroom breaks or other odd behavior. There is no reason to assume that more patient, more careful players are not slipping under the detection wire. “But cheaters are never patient” say the doubters. And we know this how?

by tmagchesspgh on Fri Aug 23, 2019 1:53 pm #337407

As a coach, I cannot watch my players’ games. Inevitably, they look up or turn around if I am behind them to see from my expression what I think of their positions. I have told them when they do this, it raises the specter of my cheating to help them, so I stay a far distance away or not even enter the playing room at all. I have seen coaches use all manner of gestures, both subtle and overt, to prompt their players. To eliminate that, it is wise for scholastic organizers to keep all adults except TDs out of the room and shoo players who are finished with their games out of the playing area. In big money events, TDs have to be alert to all manner of unusual behavior, technology, and tricks. It is just as exhausting as playing. Even if there is only one instance of cheating in an event, it poisons the general chess atmosphere for everyone else who now suspect that even more cheating has been missed.

Just to give an example or two of how easy it is to cheat, all I have to do is quietly hum “Kill da Wabbit” as I pass by to indicate that there is a sacrifice in the position. I do this as a prompt/hint when we are analyzing a position on a board in the dining room of their homes when they are stumped. Humming a few bars from “Night on the Mountain” or “Finding Nemo”

can impart signals of what to do as well. It does not take much to create mnemonic devices to jog memory or alert the player to danger. Dots by moves or notes of encouragement at the top of a scoresheet are passe. Earbuds with music that reflect studied opening lines is much better as a memory aid. Eyeblinks are useful for giving specific information. Messages can come in many forms. As a former school teacher, I have found the ingenuity of children to cheat on tests to be almost limitless. They are really offended when caught out because their methods were so intricate and foolproof that they cannot believe that the teacher was capable of paying attention.

The Chess Cheating Epidemic Is Destroying The Game

In a post, Canadian Arbiter Caught Cheating,by kevinspraggettonchess, published September 22, 2018, The Canadian Chess Grandmaster wrote:

“Claude Lessard is a popular and well respected arbiter,

organizer and promoter in the Quebec City area chess community. Earlier in the month the Quebec Chess Federation (FQE) took the unprecedented step to ban him for 2 years following an investigation into multiple longtime allegations of cheating using a cellphone chess app during his games.

Questions of whether this cheating was just the tip of the iceberg amongst members of the popular chess club he ran and owned remain unanswered.”


“On September 7th of this year I wrote a blog article dealing with this precise topic. In this article I argued, amongst other things, to indirectly remove arbiters from FIDE’s efforts to catch cheaters. This Quebec incident proves my point: a cheating arbiter will NEVER report a cheating player because he will be afraid of himself being caught in the resulting web of investigation.

Curiously, the above announcement by the FQE of the two year suspension of Claude Lessard was removed from the FQE’s official website one day after the decision first being announced. Is the FQE trying to bury the incident?

In my blog article mentioned above, I argued for a LIFETIME ban for any individual caught cheating. Zero tolerance. We have come to the point where we have spectators, arbiters, organizers and players cheating. Something must be done about this!”

Cheating is destroying the game

“I don’t play so much these days, but in the relatively few international tournaments that I have played in during the past 5 years here in Europe, I have witnessed a significant number of examples of cheating. Even amongst 2700-plus players, not just the lowly amateur.

Some of these methods used are quite sophisticated, and implicate outside help. All require the tournament arbiters to close their eyes and look the otherway. As I wrote several times here on this blog, a good rule of thumb is that at any given time in any tournament as many as 20% of the participants are cheating in one way or the other.”

I do not know where, exactly, the tipping point is for people to turn away from the game, but if Grandmaster Spraggett is correct the game is in imminent if not immediate danger of being consigned to the dustbin of history. Ask yourself this question, “If I were a parent would I want my child playing a game in which one out of every five players cheated?”

Ask yourself this question, “What percentage of cheating would be acceptable for me to participate in any game?”

There is, and has been, a small amount of cheating in most games. For example, Leo “The Lip” Durocher,

( manager of the 1954 New York Giants, cheated by stealing signs of the opposing teams catcher so his batters would know what kind of pitches were coming, and Leo the Lip is in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. The National Football League New England Patriots cheated so often one can click on and read all about the New England Patriots Cheating History. (

In the United States of America it has become fact that cheaters are winners. It has been written Dirty Tricky Dicky Nixxon

did not contest the lost 1960 election because a recount would have shown that he, too, had cheated.

We The People now have a nocuous imbecilic POTUS sitting in the oval office who not only cheated to win, but has continually cheated throughout his life.

Maybe the twenty percent GM Spraggett

quotes is too small a number…For decades FIDE, the governing body of world Chess, has been administered by cheaters and crooks who have turned a blind eye to cheating while having “zero tolerance” for a player turning up a few minutes late for the start of his or her game. I do not see things improving any time soon unless GM Nigel Short wins the soon to be election for FIDE President. One candidate, Georgios Makropoulos,

has been VP for decades and knows where the bodies, and money, is buried. He has one foot, and several toes, in the grave. Another candidate, Arkady Dvorkovich,

is yet another Putin puppet. If elected Putin’s puppet Dvorkovich will simply bring more of Putin’s poison to the world of Chess. Therefore, the only hope for change in FIDE is Grandmaster Nigel Short.

What chance does Nigel have against the rotten cheaters against whom he is running? Maybe a snowball’s chance in HELL…

There is a post on the forum at the website of the United States Chess Federation titled, Spraggett on Cheating where one finds this by the forum’s resident philosopher, Thomas Magar:

“Over the years, from the early 1970’s to now, the most frequent forms of “cheating” I have seen fit into the following categories:

1. Casual contact between players, coaches, spectators, and parents. It was common to go to big tournaments and see players conversing in aisles with compatriots. While some of it was innocuous, the frequency of the contacts was more than suspicious. It was clear that chess was a team game for some Russian speaking players, with information being passed at critical times. One could hear moves and variations being discussed during games. Other nationalities also talked to each other about games in progress. TDs who did not know the languages could not police the floors even if they tried. One player I know found his higher rated, titled foreign opponent in the book seller’s room reading a book on the opening they were playing. They guy was forfeited but was allowed to play subsequent rounds, earning a prize. Today it is common to see kids conversing animatedly with parents who are holding thin tablets with the position of their child’s games.

2. Various drugs have been used to stimulate players. Back in the ’70’s and even before that, some players experimented with different amphetamines to improve energy and focus. Many players hyped themselves up with extreme doses of caffeine through coffee and tea which may haver worked for some, but were not helpful physically. The use of drugs and caffeine supplements have effects like sleep deprivation, tremors, and frazzled nerves during critical moments. I see players guzzling “5 Hour Energy” at tournaments as well as popping pills. For short term gain, players are risking long term health damages. In the old days, players thought alcohol was a stimulant. Now it is used to come off the highs and numb the brain into sleep. Drugs and alcohol, not a good chess combination.

3. Electronic devices have become ubiquitous. When the program Tech was developed in the early ’70’s, it was not very good, but it was a precursor of what was possible using computers and good programming. By the mid-’80’s, the Hitech and Deep Thought programs were 2450-2550 strength. They required sophisticated hardware and were unwieldy to use except by their handlers. Today, one can buy powerful programs and download apps that fit into devices that are in the palm of your hand. This has opened the chance to cheat to everyone. Every tournament I attend, there are players or parents sitting on the floor analyzing positions using Fritz, Komodo, Stockfish, or other programs, either alone or in multiple configurations tied into databases. The power of these devices is enticing, even if it is used to win a mere trophy.

4. Sandbagging. Once a player rises to a certain level, he may discover that improving the chess rating is noble and ethical, it is not vey economic. Lowering the rating, throwing games in tournaments you are not doing well in, may lead to large prizes in class section of future tournaments. Maintaining a rating below a rating threshold is fairly easy to do. With the new rating changes that have increased volatility, it is possible to lose many more points in the tournaments a player decides to crash his rating in. He must be careful to toss as many as he can before and after a big event. That is not so hard as there are plenty of Game 30s to give away points in. Running out of time or hanging a piece is easy in a fast timecontrol tournament and no one notices what he is doing, unless he loses several games o players who are considerable lower rated. Having a couple of mediocre tournaments that are cheap to play in works just fine. He can work on new openings and then make a blunder. The acting crushed takes some dramatic skill, but suffering for one’s art is expected.

Is all of this killing the game? There seem to be a lot more players around even if one cannot trust them. If your goal is to attract attendance and make money, you may not want to notice what is going on. On the other hand, if you are a purist who thinks the game is an art, a noble conquest, and an elevation of man’s culture, you are not happy about the sleazy way the tournament game has degenerated into a gambler’s paradise. In any event, move over as the means to stop the cheating are few. You can punish the ones you catch, but you will have a harder time changing the new chess culture. As they say, “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.” It is all about the Benjamins.”

I have never played Chess because of “the Benjamins.” I played for the love of the game. I played Backgammon professionally for “the Benjamins.” If I play tournament Chess again it will, most probably, be in a Senior tournament, where the risk of encountering cheating would be minuscule, if at all. I may possibly play in a week night tournament with a time limit of fifteen minutes. Who would cheat in in such a tournament?

GM Spraggett has called for “Zero tolerance,” and “…a LIFETIME ban for any individual caught cheating.”
Although this seems rather harsh to someone brought up in a Southern Baptist environment with the prevalent idea of giving people a second chance, I must concur with GM Spraggett. The Major League Baseball rule against wagering on MLB games did not deter Pete Rose

even with the possibility of a lifetime ban, so it will not eliminate all cheating, but surely it could possibly cut the twenty percent figure considerably.

Cheating At Solitaire

Mike Ness
Album: Cheating at Solitaire

You can lie to yourself, you can lie to the world
You can lie to the one you call your girl
You can humble yourself to the hearts that you stole
Wondering who’s gonna love you when you grow old?

With a fist full of courage and a heart full of rage
I realized I’d locked myself in a cage
I’ll be the one standing there with the watery eyes
I’ll be the fool in the mirror asking you why…asking why

When I got to the end of my dirty rainbow
And I found that there was no pot of gold
Well, I learned that I was empty and not quite as strong
For I had robbed my heart and cheated my soul

Look for the one with the watery eyes
I’ll be the fool in the mirror asking you why
Cursing lovers in a warm tender embrace
Scoffing at the world and the whole human race

You can run, you can hide
You can feed your foolish pride
You can use and abuse
In the end you’ll always lose…at the game

You can run, you can hide
You can feed your foolish pride
With the hearts that you stole
And an empty pot of gold
And the lover’s warm embrace
And the whole damned human race
You can use and abuse
In the end you’ll always lose…at the game

“For I cheated myself at solitaire”

Google’s AlphaZero destroys Chess

The headline of the American Go E-Journal reads:

Google’s AlphaZero destroys highest-rated chess engine in 100-game match

Thursday December 7, 2017

Chess changed forever today. And maybe the rest of the world did, too.

Chris Garlock writes the AGEJ and this is his take on the development:

“A little more than a year after AlphaGo sensationally won against the top Go player, the artificial-intelligence program AlphaZero has obliterated the highest-rated chess engine.

Stockfish, which for most top players is their go-to preparation tool, and which won the 2016 TCEC Championship and the 2017 Computer Chess Championship, didn’t stand a chance. AlphaZero won the closed-door, 100-game match with 28 wins, 72 draws, and zero losses.

Oh, and it took AlphaZero only four hours to “learn” chess. Sorry humans, you had a good run.

That’s right — the programmers of AlphaZero, housed within the DeepMind division of Google (, had it use a type of “machine learning,” specifically reinforcement learning. Put more plainly, AlphaZero was not “taught” the game in the traditional sense. That means no opening book, no endgame tables, and apparently no complicated algorithms dissecting minute differences between center pawns and side pawns.

This would be akin to a robot being given access to thousands of metal bits and parts, but no knowledge of a combustion engine, then it experiments numerous times with every combination possible until it builds a Ferrari. That’s all in less time that it takes to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. The program had four hours to play itself many, many times, thereby becoming its own teacher.”

The article ( continues with a comment from the ‘Deep Thinking’ Garry Kasparov from an article by Mike Klein at another website.

Thomas Magar posted a comment on the USCF forum under the thread, AlphaZero – first true AI in chess? (, which gets right down to it; cuts to the chase, or gets to the heart of the matter. No matter how one puts it, this is the $64,000 Question ($64,000_Question):

“Think of the endless possibilities for silicon based cheating. It is going to be a challenge for the anti-cheating committees to compare games and catch someone who is using a new algorithm based on AlphaZero. The unique and paradoxical moves may not be comparable to known move selection by present programs. If the chips are small enough, virtually anything could become the device that can be used to generate moves quietly, stealthily, and effectively.”

Could this be the end of Chess?

Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest

The USCF has a Forum. In theory, members are allowed to discuss anything Chess related. In practice, the censor will not allow anything deemed controversial, as I learned, much to my chagrin, on numerous occasions.

There are six different categories at which one can post. Under the All Things Chess category one finds a “thread” entitled,
Another Boycott Hits FIDE. This thread was started by ChessSpawn on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:58 am.

by ChessSpawn on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:58 am #321527 … -players/#

“I hope that US Chess will publicly support Nakamura’s position. Perhaps it’s time to start working to replace FIDE?”
Brian Lafferty
“If you play the Caro-Kann when you’re young, what are you going to play when you’re older.” – Bent Larsen

ChessSpawn is Brian Lafferty. One is allowed to use a quote and the Larsen quote is the one chosen by Mr. Lafferty.

I happen to know the next post is by Thomas Magar. If one goes to the USCF forum he would not know this fact. Mr. Magar is from N. Versailles, Pa. I know this because it is stated on the side of the post. One would not know where Mr. Lafferty is located because it is not stated.

by tmagchesspgh on Tue Nov 14, 2017 8:40 am #321529

“The only way to stop this form of discrimination is if all of the top players refuse to play in this type of official mock championship event. However, since there is so much money involved, I do not expect that to happen. Money trumps principle, all pun intended. There will always be players who will cross lines for money, even if it makes them international pariahs.”

The following post is by Scott Parker, former President of the Georgia Chess Association. He is originally from Wisconsin. Scott is a former Georgia Senior Champion who is now rated class A. Although his USCF page shows he has played around 300 rated games since USCF began using a computer program to keep stats in 1991, I can attest that he has played many more unrated games in the “pits,” or skittles room, at the House of Pain. Scott is not known for playing, but directing, and he has directed an unbelievable number of tournaments, devoting countless hours to Chess. One legendary player in the Atlanta area stuck Scott with the moniker, “The Sheriff,” because of his ramrod straight walk, saying, “Scott reminds me of Gary Cooper in High Noon.” Mr. Parker has never cared for the term even though it fits. Another crusty Chess personality once said, “Scott is like E.F. Hutton…when he talks, people listen.”

Postby scottrparker on Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:38 pm #321542

“It’s been time to replace this thoroughly corrupt organization for a long time. Some half hearted efforts have been made, but none of them ever gained much traction. I’m hoping that this may be a catalyst for a real alternative to emerge, but I’m not holding my breath.”

Don’t hold back, Mr. Parker, tell us how you REALLY feel!

Several other posts follow before one arrives at a post by “Allen.” It shows that “Allen” is from Louisville, Kentucky. “Allen” weighs in on everything, and “Allen” has considerable weight with which to weigh in, having posted 6703 times since Jan. 20, 2007. “Allen” is Allen Priest, who was previously on the policy board of the USCF.

by Allen on Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:16 am #321561

“This event was not announced at the recently completed FIDE Congress, nor were there bids, nor was there any review. Just like the Iranian hosting of the women’s world championship, the event was announced late and outside the normal FIDE rules for awarding events.

Agon never paid FIDE the fee for the Rapid/Blitz world championship held in Germany. The powers that be in FIDE decided they would waive that fee and not demand it to be paid. There have been calls to void the contract with Agon – most notably from Americas President Jorge Vega. But that contract is still in effect.

However, to call for US Chess to simply withdraw from FIDE is not realistic. FIDE will have a US national federation. I believe it is far better for that to be us rather than for it to be someone who perhaps likes to curry favor with FIDE and is complicit to FIDE shenanigans. There clearly have been behind the scenes maneuvering over the years to supplant US Chess within FIDE, although those efforts do not appear to have gained much traction.”

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

Allen Priest is rated only 701. THIS IS NOT A MISPRINT! Between 2003 and 2014 Mr. Priest played a total of forty-five (45!) games. I have previously written about Mr. Priest on this blog,and/or an earlier blog, the BaconLOG. I first met him at the ill-fated 2009 Kentucky Open. The lights were not working and I was one of the few who questioned starting the first round sans lights. I found him to be dictatorial and a bully. I was very small when young, and bullied, so because of that first-hand experience, I ought to know a bully when in close proximity to one. Another player, an FM from Tennessee, who gave himself the moniker, “The Nashville Strangler,” felt much the same. One never gets a chance to make another first impression. I lived in Louisville for a few years and while there learned that Mr. Priest was brought into Chess by the man called, “Mr. Kentucky Chess,” Steve Dillard, whom I have written about on this blog. ( Several Chess moms informed me that Allen came to Chess after being involved with the Boy Scouts and Soccer where he “Just wanted to run things.”

Scott Parker then replies:

by scottrparker on Wed Nov 15, 2017 1:11 pm #321564

“What is not realistic is believing that you can somehow reform FIDE from the inside. FIDE has been a corrupt organization as long as I can remember, and I’m well into my seventh decade. It’s governance structure is such that just getting rid of the top guy won’t change anything. Campomanes left, Ilyumzhinov took over, and what, exactly changed for the better? Ilyumzhinov will leave one day, possibly fairly soon, but don’t expect much to change with FIDE when that happens. It’s one thing to stay with FIDE for the nonce when they are the only game in town, as long as you’re also working to supplant them with a better organization. If you’re just going along with them because “somebody else would be worse”, then how do you differ from Vidkun Quisling?”

Someone else came between the two, posting this:

by bruce_leverett on Wed Nov 15, 2017 2:18 pm #321565

“Flag on the play — violation of Godwin’s law — penalty, you have to edit that message to not compare the present FIDE goings-on with World War II.”

Mr. Parker answers this:

by scottrparker on Wed Nov 15, 2017 3:21 pm #321571

“It’s not a violation of Godwin’s Law. It’s a confirmation of Godwin’s Law.

FIDE is an international criminal enterprise that has, at least so far, monopolized international chess. To help US players succeed internationally US Chess has to go along with them for the time being. I get that. But not to also work to supplant them with something better is to become complicit in their actions.”

“All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.” – Edmund Burke


After several more posts by various members Mr. Priest weighs in again:

by Allen on Wed Nov 15, 2017 8:18 pm #321574

“FIDE will have a US national federation. Period. That body will be the one that is charged with looking out for US players interests. I would rather than be US Chess than Susan Polgar and friends.”

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

Let me see now…Susan Polgar was a women’s World Chess Champion. Alan Priest is rated seven OH one (that’s 701). Which one do you think knows more about Chess?

There is more, much more, and I hope you, the reader, will go to the USCF webpage and read all of this important thread, but for now I will conclude with this:

by ChessSpawn on Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:08 am #321586

“Replacing FIDE is the only alternative. FIDE can not, and will not, be reformed from within.”

by Allen on Thu Nov 16, 2017 10:40 am #321589

“Much easier to say than to do.”

And now for the pièce de résistance:

Postby sloan on Wed Nov 22, 2017 9:03 pm #321719

“What do you expect from someone who has made a career of saying, but not doing?”

Will this be an Edward R. Murrow vs Senator Joe McCarthy moment for the good of Chess? One can only hope.

If Alan Priest had been in the old Soviet Union he would have been an “apparatchik.” He clearly prefers to work with a criminal organization from the inside. Scott Parker uses the word “complicit.” Seems I heard that word bandied about often during the sordid Watergate and Iran-Contra affairs, and it will no doubt be used in conjunction with the current Special Prosecutor probe of the Trumpster. As for “working within” FIDE, let me pose this question. What if we exchange “Nazi” for “FIDE?” Can anyone argue that it would have been better to “work within” the Nazi party to engender change? Or would it have been better, historically speaking, to work toward replacing this thoroughly corrupt organization, the position taken by Mr. Parker?

All comments will be published providing they break no law and are within the commonly accepted bounds of decency.

The full thread can be found here:

Fun with Fong and Magar the Morrible

Thomas Magar, known as “tmagchesspgh” on the USCF forum, was the first to comment on the aforementioned post by Mike Murray. He begins his comment(s) with, “Somehow, I am less inclined to believe a blog which has a personal axe to grind for authoritative analysis of a topic.” Mr. Magar is a prolific poster on the USCF forum as can be seen by this being his 2802 post. This pales in comparison to Mr. Allen Priest, writing as “Allen” on the forum, who has made an astounding 4918 posts. He joins Mr Magar by writing, “Having met and interacted with the blogger at issue multiple times, a comment that the blogger might have a personal axe to grind is certainly believable.” This is known as “kill the messenger.” This is a common practice when some cannot refute the message. I will address the axe grinding momentarily, but first I must take exception to something Mr.Magar wrote, “The “Armchair Warrior” has mischaracterized some of their work.” I have done no such thing. What I have done is to simply copy what these eminently educated people have written, and I have copied it verbatim. If Mr. Magar were writing about the JFK assassination he would be known as an “apologist” for the Warren Commission. He would probably write something along the lines of, “What do you mean you do not believe in the magic bullet theory? When I took out my vintage WWII low-powered Italian made carbine, called “junk” by expert military riflemen, and shot into a watermelon from the rear, it went back, and to the left! Not only that, when I lined up two watermelons at an angle from each other, and shot from an angle high above the melons, the bullet entered the first melon, changed direction heading from down to up, zigged to the left, then zagged back to the right and entered the melon, again zigging to the left, where it exited the watermelon, after zagging, then striking Lyndon’s Boy John, who happened to be walking by just as I was demonstrating the power of a magic bullet, in the thigh.”

As far as having an axe to grind, nothing could be further from the truth. But to be as honest as possible, and in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to relate the following. The fact is that some years ago the President of the GCA insisted on holding a Senior tournament that was thought so highly of by Seniors that only EIGHT players entered. He did this against the wishes of many members of the chess community, including the Legendary Georgia Ironman, who had advocated getting a committee of Seniors, such as the esteemed Scott Parker and the highly regarded Michael Mulford, known as “Mulfish” on the USCF forum, together to discuss what kind of tournament should be held. Fun Fong, the POTGCA, nixed that idea, “nippin’ it in the bud,” as Deputy Barney Fife would say. Fun Fong is an emergency room doctor, and as such is the man in complete control. He gives the orders in the same way a General or dictator gives orders, and expects them to be obeyed. Dr. Fong was not happy to read my criticism. When I decided to write another blog, this one, I called former POTGCA Scott Parker, a member of the Emory Castle Chess Camp board, as is Dr. Fong, and asked if it would be OK for me to post some signs for my blog at the Castle tournament which concludes the camp. Scott said he saw no problem with my doing that, as long as I checked with the Chief TD, Colonel David Hater, whom I knew from the House of Pain. I did just that and David was very gracious, shaking my hand and asking how I had been, then walking me around while discussing chess and the best places for me to post my notices. He was called away and I noticed Dr. Fong heading my way so I extended my hand, which was rebuffed rather hatefully. I will admit this was rather embarrassing with all the people around to see what had transpired. I placed a few notices before Jennifer Christianson, a lovely woman familiar to me because her sons played chess at the HOP, walked up and told me Fun Fong had asked her to tell me I would have to take the notices down. After informing Jennifer that I had discussed it with Mr. Parker, and then asked Colonel Hater, she told me to forget about what Fun had said; she would tell him I had permission.

I am a Southern man. I was born and raised in the South, as they say, “by the grace of God.” In the South if a man, any man, has a woman do his bidding for him, he is considered to be not much of a man. I have not written about the incident until now, and have not gone out of my way to spread it around, but when asked, I have discussed it with a few players, who, to a man, feel exactly as I do. There is absolutely nothing Fun Fong can do to change the fact that he is, and always will be, considered “NOT MUCH OF A MAN.”

That said, I do not have a bone to pick, or an axe to grind, with Fun Fong on a personal level. As GM Hikaru Nakamura is so fond of saying, “It is what it is.” Fun Fong is what he is. I do, though, have a problem with what Fun Fong, whom I will admit I think of as “Fun E. Fong,” has done as POTGCA. Rather than instituting changes to the format so that many more Senior players would consider playing, Fun Fong held the same tournament and only thirteen players entered the next year. In order to improve a chess player must acknowledge, and correct, his mistakes. Fun Fong let the chess community know in no uncertain terms that things were going to be his way, or the highway. Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” This is, unfortunately, not the only example of Fun Fong making a mistake again and again. What lit Richard De Credico’s fuse is the GCA made the exact same mistake made at the previous tournament. ( As Mike Mulford has written, the buck has got to stop somewhere, and Fun Fong is the POTGCA, and as such, must be held accountable. I have been around chess in Georgia since 1970 and have never seen any GCA board member engender the enmity of so many.

In the most recent scholastic chess tournament the GCA, under the leadership of Fun Fong, lost a round. How is that possible you ask?

From: Georgia Chess Association
Date: Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Teams Invited to the K-8 Team State Championship

“Dear Parents, Coaches & Players,

Thank you so much for attending the 2015 State Qualifier tournament. Teams invited to the State Championship can be found on our website using this link: Details and registration will be up this week.

We’d like to apologize for the delay we had following round 3. Much time and energy was put into preparing for this event in hopes of running a smooth, on-time tournament. Few are more distressed than we are as volunteers for the technical issues we had with the K-3 section. (See below for details.)

One issue we are trying to address for the future is communication. Our pre-tournament communication with you allowed for a very smooth start. This year chess control was split into 4 sections staffed with more volunteers to help answer questions. It went very well. After the technical issues at round 3 began we had difficulty communicating with the parents. Without carpet in the exhibit halls (which is currently not an option due to the expense) the PA system is ineffective. We are working on finding alternate ways of communicating with you on tournament day in the future if we use this venue.

We would like to thank all the parents and coaches who volunteered for this event and who were supportive through out the day. We can not hold chess tournaments without you.

GCA Scholastic Team

Details of the technical issue: Files for rounds 1 & 2 & 3 were lost on the K-3 laptop with the pairing software. All results for round 1 had to be re-entered. With so many unrated players, when we paired for round 2 to enter those results, the pairings didn’t match the actual round that was played. We had to pair those boards by hand in order to input those results. The same had to be done for round 3. Once we realized how long this would take we decided to go with a 4 round tournament for K-3 and have the other sections play ASAP. Not being able to communicate this to parents was a huge problem.”

There is no explanation for how the files were lost. I have heard they were deleted. This may, or may not, be true, but it sounds like something par for the course for the GCA gang who have trouble shooting straight. I will admit to having a difficult time fathoming how this is possible because when I hit the “delete” key, a small window always appears asking me, “Are you sure you want to do this, dude?”

Upon moving back to my home state the father of a young boy told me an incredible story of how his son had been “shafted” during a scholastic tournament that was so outlandish it was difficult to believe even though I knew this man to be a fine, honest father and strong family man. Since I was newly returned and did not know the people now in charge of chess in Georgia I told the father the BaconLOG was discontinued, and was not certain I wanted to write another blog, and certainly did not wish to write about scholastic chess. There was no one else for him to turn and I do not believe he has ever forgiven me. If I had known then what I now know, I would have started another blog right then and there and published what I had been told.

I have come to think of those in charge of chess in my home state as the Roseanne Roseannadanna’s of the chess world. “Roseanne Roseannadanna” was one of several recurring characters created by Gilda Radner, who appeared on “Weekend Update” in the early seasons of Saturday Night Live airing on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC).”

“Eventually, Weekend Update co-anchor Jane Curtin would interrupt, stating, “Roseanne, you’re making me sick.” Curtin would then ask her what her comments had to do with the question. Roseannadanna’s response was, “Well, Jane, it just goes to show you, it’s always something—if it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” (

Mr. Magar writes, “I also know Bob Ferguson and have talked with him about his studies.”

I met Bob Dylan once, but was unable to talk with him about his song writing because, after being introduced as the Atlanta Chess Champion, our conversation consisted of him asking me about chess. What did Mr.Magar learn about the Ferguson study? Why did he mention this?

Mr. Magar drops another name, writing, “Ferdinand Gobet was at CMU in Pittsburgh for a time doing some research. I met and discussed some issues with him way back when.”

What “issues” were discussed and did it have anything at all to do with anything about which I wrote?

Mr. Magar writes, “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling. The examination and experimental framework they use is over a very short time frame. Other studies that are over the application of chess study over an extensive time are much more positive with regards to the effects of chess and scholastic achievement. I am well aware of potential structural flaws of some of the studies. However, the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.”

What “other studies?” Please explain what you mean by your vague statement, “…the general trend is positive, not negative, toward the effects of chess study.” SHOW US THE EVIDENCE! “The research by Gobet and Campitelli is not compelling.” Maybe not to Thomas Magar, but it is to Dr. Zach Hambrick, and that is good enough for me.

Mr. Magar writes, “I could point to anecdotal evidence in my own practice in dealing with special education students in a school and what some of my students have achieved.”

So could I, and many other chess teachers and coaches, but still it would only be “anecdotal evidence.” The reason studies such as this are done is to obtain the big picture.

In Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, by Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli, one finds, “…compulsory instruction is not to be recommended, as it seems to lead to motivational problems.” I could give you an anecdotal tale of a boy to whom I tried to teach chess, not because the boy was interested in the Royal game, but because his mother, who was originally from the home town of Garry Kasparov, Baku, Armenia, wanted him to learn. He was being home schooled after having had “problems” in public school. The time I spent trying to teach the boy, in the home city of Alan Priest, I might add, was like pulling eye teeth, and as far as I am concerned, proof positive that Gobet and Campitelli hit the nail on the head with this one. But, just for the sake of argument, let us suppose Magar and Priest decided to so a study and questioned four hundred ninety nine other chess teachers, and they all reported that “Compulsory instruction was to be recommended because it did not seem to lead to motivational problems.” My “anecdotal evidence would be an outlier, and worthless. Mr. Magar seems to acknowledge this when he goes on to write, “But since I am too busy working to teach chess and do not intend to publish an academic article, you can dismiss what I am about to say.”

And that is exactly what I did, Mr. Magar.

USCF Going Down

This concerns the first post pulled by deputy Schulte on the USCF forum. I was responding to comments made by another deputy dawg, Boyd M. Reed, who wrote, “It should also be noted that the economic crisis triggered by the Lehman collapse did not discriminate based on age. My portfolio bears sorry witness to that fact.” Many books have been written refuting the comments made by Mr. Reed. I thought he might read an article or two in order to educate himself, but I could have been mistaken. Some people would rather hold onto their fallacious beliefs, spoon-fed by the corporate controlled media, rather than search for “the truth”, which is, as Mulder told Scully, “out there.”
Re: Should Children Play in “Big Money” Events?
Sent at: Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:30 pm
From: mfschulte
To: nocab Moderators
Mr. Bacon,
The below post has been pulled. Specifically, the AUG discourages posts unrelated to chess, and in this case, there is a lot in your post on politics, which can particularly make other members uncomfortable or unwelcome. Please do confine the discussion to chess.
Thank you.
nocab wrote: I have been a fan of baseball about 44 years. There is only one baseball World Series. Although I have played poker, I am not, and never have been, a fan of the game in the same way I have been a fan of baseball, and chess. I would like to thank you for picking that particular nit, as I now know much more about the WSOP than I need to know.
I would suggest to anyone who would write, “… the economic crisis triggered by the Lehman collapse,” do a search on and type in the name, Matt Taibbi, and read anything and everything the man has written on the so-called “economic crisis.” Begin with his most famous article, “The Great American Bubble Machine: From tech stocks to high gas prices, Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression — and they’re about to do it again” … z39vy95uJc
“The now famous Rolling Stone magazine article in 2009 by Matt Taibbi unforgettably referred to Goldman Sachs, the world’s most powerful investment bank, as a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.”
At the time, Taibbi was describing Goldman’s role in the 2008 financial crisis and the speculative bubble of mortgage-backed securities assets which later came crashing down.” … n-sucking/
If you do not have time to read everything he has written on the subject, then after you read this famous article, skip to his last one,
“The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet”
Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever … z39vsE5Opq

If one takes the time to do this, he will never again be naive enough to write, “… the economic crisis triggered by the Lehman collapse.” He will have a much better understanding of why I say we were Bushwhacked by the Banksters.

Specific to this discussion, more nuclear waste is being produced. This isn’t a bad thing. The more difficult proposition is disposing of said waste material. However, the more waste produced, the more likely it is that someone will come up with an idea as to how we dispose of the waste material. (This was written in response to this, written by Boyd Reed: “Times have changed a bit since 1970. Specific to this discussion, more children have gravitated to chess. This isn’t a bad thing. The more difficult proposition is keeping them involved with chess in general, and USCF in particular, as they become adults. However, the more children one can get involved in chess, the more likely it is more children will make chess a lifelong avocation.” It has been a quarter of a century since USCF was diverted to become the United States Scholastic Chess Federation and the pooh-bahs keep saying things like “the more children one can get involved with chess the better the odds are that one day, hopefully soon, some of those children will stop dropping out of chess before puberty.”)

The thread to which I refer is: MonRois and how they are used…tournament question for TDs!
Postby RayKinStL on Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:38 am #140440

It is possible that the comments by the fellow who started the above thread I mentioned were on the forum of the St. Louis Chess & Scholastic Center, which no longer exists, and not on the USCF forum. (This is in response to Boyd Reed, who wrote, “I sorrowfully confess that, despite my best efforts, I can’t seem to find a Forums thread within the last five years that references such castigation and/or vilification. I would be most grateful if Mr. Bacon could direct me (and others) to the thread in question.”)

I apologize if any of my comments have offended any of the badge men. My friend Mulfish elucidated me in a private email as to the relationship of the sheriff to the USCF.

Equating how a child is treated in school bears absolutely no relation to how a child is treated at a chess tournament because the child MUST attend school. The government has laws forcing children to attend school. The government will not arrest a parent if he does not make his child attend a chess tournament. (This was a response to one “tmagchesspgh” aka, Thomas Magar, who wrote, “In schools, a parent may request to come into a classroom to observe his/her child. The school in turn may reject that request. There is no absolute right that the parent be allowed in the same room as the child. Doing so might be distracting to the learning process for the other children. It also bums out the kid who is really embarrassed by the overbearing parent. Just because you have an interest does not mean that you have a right to interfere with administration.”)

Learning to dislike children at an early age saves a lot of expense and aggravation later in life. – Robert Byrne

Deputy Schulte writes, “…which can particularly make other members uncomfortable or unwelcome.”

It has been my experience on the USCF forum that one is made welcome by the people who have written extensively on said forum only if one toes the party line. As soon as anyone expresses any idea that is opposed to the politburo, the nit-pickers and nay-sayers come out in force, singing, “Don’t worry, be happy,” and “Everything is beautiful in its own way.” I am reminded of the scene in the movie, “Titanic,” when the band keeps playing as the ship is going down…
Speaking of going down…Last month there was a gathering at the huge World Congress Center of Telegu people from the southern part of India who are living in Atlanta. One of the speakers was a man known to be their financial “guru.” He created a firestorm when he told the gathering there was an economic tsunami coming, and to not purchase a house here, but rent. One assumes that is so they can “get outta Dodge” ASAP when the crisis hits. This was before the financial wizard, George Soros made news when he decided to “double-down” on an economic collapse. Anyone involved with chess knows there is a plethora of Indian children playing the game. If they were to leave USCF…Oh well, the band will continue to play while the ship of chess goes down.
And if reading this makes you uncomfortable, good! Chess does not exist in a vacuum. What happens in other parts of the world affect the Royal game. For example, the headline today reads, “FIDE rejects Carlsen’s request to postpone match.” (
And with headlines like this, found on the Drudge Report, “NATO: ‘Alarming’ build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine border…
Russia firing artillery within Ukraine…” who can blame the World Human Chess Champion for wanting to postpone the match? My advice to the young man, Magnus Carlsen, is the championship belongs to you, not FIDE. Those crooked bastards can take it away from you in name only. They need you; you do not need them, and even ET and Rootin’ Tootin’ Putin know this fact. You will still be considered the World Human Chess Champion no matter what the corrupt FIDE rules!

Jeff Beck Group – Going Down

Joe Bonamassa, Dusty Hill, Derek Trucks and Billy Gibbons – Going Down (HD)

To Catch A Chess Cheater

Cheating at chess has been featured prominently in the news recently. In addition to the article in the latest issue of Chess Life, June 2014, “How To Catch A Chess Cheater,” the subject of the article, IM Ken Regan, was interviewed on the PBS program, “Weekend Edition,” on June 21, 2014. The program can be heard, or a transcript read, online here:
Mark Weeks posted “The ‘No Cheating’ Jigsaw Puzzle; on 10 June 2014 ( He posted a link to the aforementioned Chess Life article and to the “Draft Copy of Recommendations of the Anti-Cheating Committee” at the FIDE website: (
There is a current thread on the USCF forum, “Increased Allegations of Cheating.” (
The thread was started by “DENTONCHESS,” who is Robert B. Jones. His thread begins, “This topic applies to regular events, as (at least in most DFW events) we kick parents/coaches out of the scholastic playing area. The allegations that seem to be increasing…”
Jeff K. Weiwel, Posting as “jwiewel,” writes, “I’d guess that one reason for the larger number of accusations is that now there are programs anybody can run that are much stronger than the scholastic players (heck, often they are much stronger than GMs).”
Most of the thread concerns cheating in scholastic events. For example, Thomas Magar, or “tmagchesspgh” on the forum, writes, “It may be necessary to have some announcements before a tournament begins, backed up by flyers and education sessions for parents to explain to them what acceptable communication they can have with their children. Alleging someone is cheating is ratcheting up complaints to the highest degree.”
Later on he writes, “At one tournament, one of my students went outside of the playing hall to talk to his dad. I exploded all over him and his dad for doing that.”
I would liked to have seen that explosion! I cannot help wondering how long it took to clean the mess…
My point is that talk of possible cheating is prolific. The chess discussion, rather than being about the positive attributes of the Royal game, has been consumed by constant talk of cheating. Rumors abound in every tournament. An example would be the rampant rumor of the child playing in a recent scholastic event here in Atlanta who “Built a fortress around his scoresheet in order to hide a gizmo underneath.” I have absolutely no idea whether or not this particular rumor is true. Whether true or not does not matter. What matters is people are talking about the possibility of cheating.

Do you, Mister Jones?

I am usually shocked when receiving praise for my writing. I would not be shocked if someone said, “Mr. Bacon, I knew a writer. He was a friend of mine. Mr. Bacon, you are no writer.” All my life I have been an avid reader, and admire those who can actually write. As a writer I think of myself in the same way I think of Dubious Dave Kraft, a career class “B” player good enough to have crossed into the “A” class. One time the Legendary Georgia Ironman was at the Dube’s apartment, a place we called the “Love Shack.” The Ironman was showing the Dube and I one of his games from a recent tournament, a game Tim had won. While analyzing the Dubious wonder continually kept making outlandishly ridiculous suggestions, some so inept they would lose a piece, or worse. “Come on Dave, that’s absurd,” Tim would say. After half an hour of this the Dube found a move for Tim’s opponent. It was a killer and if played it would have brought the Ironman’s house down. Try as he might, the Ironman could not refute Dubious Dave’s move. Dave got up from the board and did his best impression of Gene Wilder, in the movie with co-star Richard Pryor “Stir Crazy,” when they entered jail and were strutting around saying, “We bad. We BAD!” It was hilarious. This was more than the Ironman could take, so he left in a huff.
Marlene Dietrich said, “I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.” I too have always had an affinity for quotations. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.” I cannot recall the exact quote, but it went something like, “One must speak up as otherwise the universe will not know you exist.” Harriet Martineau said, “Readers are plentiful; thinkers are rare.” I spend a great deal of time thinking, and am thankful to have people read, and hopefully discuss, my thoughts. John Kenneth Galbraith said, “The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.” Paul Valery said, “That which has always been accepted by everyone, everywhere, is almost certain to be false.”
If I write what is expected readers will not think because I will have given them nothing about which to cogitate. With that in mind I cannot help but think of a quote from Malaclypse the Younger, “‘Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.”
Every writer has his critics, which reminds me of another quote, “Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.” Christopher Hampton said that, bless his heart!
I will admit being stung when reading a reply to my post which was posted on the USCF website, “What Constitutes a “Serious Game?” (, when Thomas Magar wrote, ” Otherwise, just shut up and watch.” Reading that hit me like a cold slap in the face. In another time and different circumstances, say the decade before the War For Southern Independence, circa 1856, and Mr. Magar and I were in the US Congress and Senate, it might cause one to take up a cane, as Congressman Preston S. Brooks of South Carolina did when he strode into the United States Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C., and began beating Senator Charles Sumner with a gold-topped walking cane. (see: The Caning: The Assault That Drove America to Civil War by Stephen Puleo)
In the epilogue (“The text in the epilogue by Mikhail Tal was taken from the article ‘The puzzle that is Tal’ The manuscript was given in autumn 1993 by the then 77 year old trainer and friend of the eighth World Chess Champion Alexander Koblents to the co-author of this book Raymond Stolze for publication”), titled, “An unbroken love for chess,” by Mikhail Tal, in the five star book, “The Magic Tactics of Mikhail Tal,” by Karsten Muller & Raymond Stolze, Misha writes:
“Chess is my world. It is not a house or a fortress in which I barricade myself against human cares, but the world which I enjoy to the full, because I am active in it. I love the atmosphere of tournaments, the matches and last but not least discussions about the art of chess, although not everyone is of the same opinion. Many of my friends, perhaps the majority of them, do not play chess or only have a lay person’s understanding of it. And yet I have above all one thing in common with them-the love of chess! And in this sense we grandmasters are necessary for them-just as they are for us…”

This is the best answer ever given to a critic:

Bob Dylan – Ballad Of A Thin Man (Vinyl rip)