Putin Has Weaponized Conspiracy Theories

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/25/opinion/putin-russia-conspiracy-theories.html

The Five Conspiracy Theories That Putin Has Weaponized
April 25, 2022, 1:00 a.m. ET
By Ilya Yablokov

Mr. Yablokov is a historian of Russian media and the author of “Fortress Russia: Conspiracy Theories in the Post-Soviet World.”

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is driven by conspiracy theories.

For two decades, journalists and officials, in concert with the Kremlin, have merrily spread disinformation. However far-fetched or fantastical — that the C.I.A. was plotting to oust Mr. Putin from power, for example — these tales served an obvious purpose: to bolster the regime and guarantee public support for its actions. Whatever the personal views of members of the political establishment, it seemed clear that the theories played no role in political calculations. They were stories designed to make sense of what the regime, for its own purposes, was doing.

Not anymore. Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two months ago, the gap between conspiracy theory and state policy has closed to a vanishing point. Conspiratorial thinking has taken complete hold of the country, from top to bottom, and now seems to be the motivating force behind the Kremlin’s decisions. And Mr. Putin — who previously kept his distance from conspiracy theories, leaving their circulation to state media and second-rank politicians — is their chief promoter.

It is impossible to know what is inside Mr. Putin’s head, of course. But to judge from his bellicose and impassioned speeches before the invasion and since then, he may believe the conspiracy theories he repeats. Here are five of the most prevalent theories that the president has endorsed, with increasing fervor, over the past decade. Together, they tell a story of a regime disintegrating into a morass of misinformation, paranoia and mendacity, at a terrible cost to Ukraine and the rest of the world.

The West wants to carve up Russia’s territory

In 2007, at his annual national news conference, Mr. Putin was asked a strange question. What did he think about the former U.S. secretary of state Madeleine Albright’s comment that Russia’s natural riches should be redistributed and controlled by America? Mr. Putin replied that such ideas were shared by “certain politicians” but he didn’t know about the remark.

That’s because it was entirely made up. Journalists at Rossiyskaya Gazeta, a state-owned newspaper, had invented the quote on the grounds that Russian intelligence was able to read Ms. Albright’s mind.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/25/opinion/putin-russia-conspiracy-theories.html

“Eye In The Sky”

Don’t think sorry’s easily said
Don’t try turning tables instead
You’ve taken lots of chances before
But I ain’t gonna give anymore
Don’t ask me
That’s how it goes
‘Cause part of me knows what you’re thinking

Don’t say words you’re gonna regret
Don’t let the fire rush to your head
I’ve heard the accusation before
And I ain’t gonna take any more
Believe me
The sun in your eyes
Made some of the lies worth believing

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

Don’t leave false illusions behind
Don’t cry cause I ain’t changing my mind
So find another fool like before
Cause I ain’t gonna live anymore believing
Some of the lies while all of the signs are deceiving

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

I am the eye in the sky
Looking at you
I can read your mind
I am the maker of rules
Dealing with fools
I can cheat you blind
And I don’t need to see any more to know that
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind (looking at you)
I can read your mind

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/alanparsonsproject/eyeinthesky.html

For Valerie

The Kremlin Has Launched A Criminal Case Against FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich

Arkady Dvorkovich, who once served as Russia’s deputy prime minister and is currently chairman of the International Chess Federation (FIDE), criticised the war with Ukraine. Nevzlin said he is now subject to ‘criminal charges’ in Russia https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10718247/Putins-defence-minister-Sergei-Shoigu-massive-heart-attack-not-natural-causes.html

Nevzlin also claimed that the Kremlin has launched a criminal case against long-serving ex-deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich, 50.

Dvorkovich is one of the highest-ranking Russian officials to have criticised the war in Ukraine, saying in March that his thoughts were with Ukrainian civilians subjected to violence.

But he stepped down from his position as chairman of Russia’s Skolkovo science and technology founation just days after his statement, as Russian lawmakers labelled him a traitor.

‘[Dvorkovich] is expected to testify against his colleagues and friends,’ Nevzlin said.

‘Sources in the FSB say that if he does not make a deal with the investigation, he will be transferred to either the Matrosskaya Tishina or Lefortovo pre-trial detention centres.’

From the article:

Putin’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu has had a ‘massive heart attack not from natural causes’ and TWENTY generals ‘have been arrested’ over bungled invasion (https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10718247/Putins-defence-minister-Sergei-Shoigu-massive-heart-attack-not-natural-causes.html)

Play Go for Ukraine!

https://goteachers.org/

Support the European Go Journal: As reported previously, European Go Journal editor Artem Kachanovskyi,

Artem Kachanovskyi (https://www.usgo.org/news/)

a resident of Kyiv, has posted movingly on Facebook about how the Russian war on Ukraine has affected the go community and his own life and work as EGJ editor. When the war started, Kachanovskyi had to leave Kyiv and was forced to stop printing and distributing physical copies of the journal. He plans to continue producing the journal and distribute it digitally as a PDF until he is able to distribute hardcopies again. He takes subscriptions through Patreon and has about 235 subscribers right now. It’s $6.50 a month for a personal subscription to the monthly PDF version of the journal, and he offers a $3.50 per-person club subscription to groups participating in a Go club.
– Spencer Rank

Vishy Anand Dances With The Devil

Evidently former World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand has lost his mind. This writer was stupefied after seeing this headline at Chess24: Vishy Anand joins Dvorkovich’s bid for second term as FIDE president (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/vishy-anand-joins-dvorkovich-s-bid-for-second-term-as-fide-president). Since the article was dated April 1, 2022, April Fools’ Day, I assumed it was some kind of sick April Fools’ joke. Unfortunately it was not a joke.

Of all the living former World Champions, Vishy, as he is known in the Chess world, had the best reputation of the small, select group. That reputation has been incontrovertibly tarnished. Russia has become a pariah country. Russia has committed, and continues committing, unimaginable atrocities in Ukraine, and will continue so doing until Russian strongman Vladimir Putin is deposed. The aftereffects of the needless war will linger for decades, if not centuries, especially when the truth of what kind of monster is the Russian state is revealed. Why would Vishy Anand smear his own reputation by aligning himself with FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich? What’s in it for Vishy?

Who is Arkady Dvorkovich?

Arkady Dvorkovich once served as a deputy prime minister and is currently chair of the International Chess Federation, or FIDE. He criticized the war with Ukraine in comments made to Mother Jones magazine on March 14 and came under fire from the Kremlin’s ruling party. (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2022/03/chess-grandmasters-putin-russia-ukraine-war/)

“Wars are the worst things one might face in life. Any war. Anywhere. Wars do not just kill priceless lives. Wars kill hopes and aspirations, freeze or destroy relationships and connections. Including this war,” he said.

Putin shakes hands with Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich during a meeting at the Kremlin in April 2018. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/The Associated Press)

Dvorkovich added that FIDE was “making sure there are no official chess activities in Russia or Belarus, and that players are not allowed to represent Russia or Belarus in official or rated events until the war is over and Ukrainian players are back in chess.”

FIDE banned a top Russian player for six months for his vocal support of Putin and the invasion.

Two days after Dvorkovich’s comments, a top official in the United Russia party demanded that he be fired as chair of the state-backed Skolkovo Foundation. Last week, the foundation reported that Dvorkovich decided to step down. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/prominent-anti-war-russians-1.6398505)

In an article at Chess24, Vishy Anand joins Dvorkovich’s bid for second term as FIDE president, one reads: “Indian great Vishy Anand has made a dramatic entrance into chess politics by joining Arkady Dvorkovich’s campaign to be re-elected as FIDE President, it was announced today. The five-time World Champion was pictured alongside Dvorkovich at an event in Delhi today to sign the contract for the 2022 Chess Olympiad, which will start in Chennai this July. Dvorkovich later said India’s most decorated chess player will be a “huge part of our team”. It follows FIDE’s decision to strip Russia of its flagship international team event on February 25, one day after Russia invaded Ukraine. The Olympiad was subsequently awarded to India at a meeting of the FIDE Council on March 15, following a swift bidding process. (https://chess24.com/en/read/news/vishy-anand-joins-dvorkovich-s-bid-for-second-term-as-fide-president)

No doubt former World Chess Champion Anand will “…be a “huge part of our team”. The Russians will use Vishy Anand as a “showpiece.” Vishy will become the “face” of FIDE. Everyone admires and respects Anand, so what’s not to like, especially if you are a Russian.

In an article by Peter Doggers, at Chess.com, Dvorkovich To Run For 2nd Term, Supported By Anand,

Dvorkovich (left) and Anand on Friday in New Delhi. Photo: FIDE. (https://www.chess.com/news/view/dvorkovich-to-run-for-2nd-term-supported-by-anand)

one finds: GM Viswanathan Anand is supporting FIDE President Arkady Dvorkovich in his bid for a second term as FIDE President. Both were present at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday, where Dvorkovich announced that he will be running for re-election.

The decision to run for a second term is somewhat controversial in light of Dvorkovich’s recent statements on the war in Ukraine and his background as a Russian politician. Initially, the FIDE President seemed to be holding an anti-war point of view, saying to the American website Mother Jones on March 14: “Wars are the worst things one might face in life… including this war. My thoughts are with Ukrainian civilians.”

A day later, however, a different and rather nationalistic statement was published, and Dvorkovich said he was “sincerely proud of the courage of our soldiers” and that there is “no place for either Nazism or the dominance of some countries over others.” He made the latter statement as the chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation, a position Dvorkovich no longer holds.

The Ukrainian Chess Federation and some Ukrainian top players have called for a full ban on Russia and expressed a desire for a new FIDE leadership, but they seem to have received little support for their—however understandable—point of view.

“Yes, I am committed to run for re-election and Anand will be a huge part of our team,” said Dvorkovich today.

Anand said he would be actively supporting the FIDE President, but at the moment it’s not exactly clear how. “We have had a good discussion, but we haven’t decided yet in what role or capacity I will be involved,” said Anand.

“I am willing and determined to work with this team. It is a wonderful team led by Dvorkovich, and they have done a lot for the sport. As and when a decision is taken, I will let you know.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/dvorkovich-to-run-for-2nd-term-supported-by-anand)

Reading the above almost caused me to hurl…especially the part about there being “no place for either Nazism or the dominance of some countries over others.” It is more than a little obvious Dvorkovich will say and/or do anything to stay in power at FIDE. The Dork, as he is known in the world of Chess, talks out of both sides of his mouth. It is difficult for Dvorkovich to express what Anand will do because how does one say, “We want to use the good reputation of Vishy Anand because the recent damage done to the Russian reputation is irreversible.”

In another article, Statement by Chairman of the Skolkovo Foundation Arkady Dvorkovich,

https://sk.ru/news/zayavlenie-predsedatelya-fonda-skolkovo-arkadiya-dvorkovicha/

which had to be translated by Google translate, one reads:

“Today, Russia continues to live under harsh but senseless sanctions. But we will rise to this challenge. We are ready to respond with technological breakthroughs and our own development. It has always been so.

While working in the government, I did everything to ensure that sanctions were not an obstacle, but an opportunity to create our own economy. And the results of this work in many sectors have made it possible to create the springboard for ensuring national security that we have today – in agriculture and construction, in energy and petrochemistry, in infrastructure development.

I cannot respect foreign companies that have left the Russian market. Some of them lost him for a very long time, perhaps forever. Our main task is to get rid of technological dependence. This can only be achieved through teamwork, in which everyone who is capable of being a leader will be involved – each in his own place.

Skolkovo has always been at the forefront of innovation in Russia, and today it is ready to make every effort to build its own competitive economy in our country.” (https://sk.ru/news/zayavlenie-predsedatelya-fonda-skolkovo-arkadiya-dvorkovicha/)

The Russians in Chess are like termites in the woodwork of the House of Chess. They, and all of their fellow travelers, like Vishy Anand, must be eradicated from the Chess House, known as FIDE. The Russian infestation of Chess must end and it must end NOW! All Russians, and those who support them, must be cast out of the House of Chess for the good of the game. To allow the nefarious, genocidal Russians to remain involved with Chess will end the recent Chess boom and send it to where one now finds Checkers, if Chess is fortunate. It will be ironic if a former World Chess Champion began the down hill slide into oblivion for Chess. What the hell could Vishy Anand have been thinking? Maybe Vishy will attempt an explanation in the near future. Vishy, my man, if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas.

Arthur Guo Let One Go

It was Saturday night and almost all was right, until young Arthur Guo let one go…like a hooked fish that somehow gets offa the hook…There I was, watching the action from Charlotte while listening to my man, H. Johnson, spin vinyl on his Saturday night program Jazz Classics on WABE FM from Atlanta, Georgia, a program to which I have listened since it’s inception way back in 1978.

https://www.wabe.org/people/h-johnson/

One of the best things about the internet is being able to listen to a program from home while in another part of the country. While listening I was also watching the Chess games being contested at the Charlotte Chess Center. One game in particular captured my attention, keeping my eyes transfixed on the screen for far too long, I’m sad to report, because my eyes were blurred upon awakening and even after a mid-morning ‘nap’ to rest them they are still somewhat out of focus. That’s OK though, because it was worth the time spent watching the game, which follows. At one point I eschewed the other games and gave my full attention to this game exclusively, rooting for Arthur while thrusting my fist in the air and shouting, “YES!,” or sometimes, “NO,” or “Oh No,” with a “What The Fork?” thrown in for good measure. WHAT A GAME!!! As far as this reporter is concerned this game was THE GAME of the tournament. Granted, I have not reviewed all the games, but of those that I’ve seen this was THE ONE! I’m telling you the game gave me HEART PALPITATIONS! At the conclusion of the game I was EXHAUSTED as if it had been me making the moves. Chess, and life, don’t get any better than that, I’m here to tell you, that is if you are a Chess Fan. At times the AW was yellin’, “Go Authur Guo, GO!” I’ve heard something about those that can no longer do, watch…Yes, I admit to living last night vicariously through the moves of future Grandmaster, and fellow Georgian Arthur Guo. The game can be found all over the internet, and I have provided a link to FollowChess, and would like to recommend this one from Lichess.com (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-charlotte-chess-gm-norm-invitational/round-7/BamwVdbA)
I will also recommend you play over the game at followchess.com and make notes before surfin’ on over to Lichess.

IM Arthur Guo (2412)

https://chess.stream/Invitational/spring-2022-gm-im-norm-invitational/Default.aspx

vs GM Aleksander Mista (2541)

https://chess.stream/Invitational/spring-2022-gm-im-norm-invitational/Default.aspx

Charlotte Spring GM A (round 7)
C50 Giuoco Pianissimo

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 (The ChessBaseDataBase gives Fritz 17 @depth 42 playing 3 Bc4, and it gives it twice in lieu of another program. Wonder why? The other program shown, Stockfish 300121 @depth 85[!] considers 3 Bb5 best) 3…Bc5 (Fritz 17 will play this move, but Stockfish 070215 @depth 48, and SF 14.1 @depth 62[!] will play 3…Nf6) 4. d3 Nf6 5. a4 (SF 14.1 @depth 59 castles) 5…d6 6. a5 a6 (The CBDB contains 16 games in which this move has been played; one with 6…h6. Stockfish 080222 @depth 36 will play 6…h6, SF 14.1 @depth 35 will play 6…0-0) 7. c3 (Again the most often played move according to the CBDB, with 17 examples and only 4 games showing 7 0-0. Fritz 16 plays the move, but Stockfish 11 [Eleven? Why does the CBDB show a move from such an antiquated program? Obviously the CBDB needs an upgrade] will castle) 7…h6 (The most often played move, with 11 games at the CBDB. There are 7 games containing the move 7…Ba7, and it is the choice of Fritz 18. Stockfish 14.1 will play 7…0-0, and so should you. There is only one game in which the player behind the Black pieces castled and it was found only at the CBDB:

Alexandra Kosteniuk 2516 (RUS) vs Ryan Hamley 2077 (USA)
Titled Tuesday Intern Op

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.d3 Nf6 5.a4 a6 6.a5 d6 7.c3 O-O 8.O-O Ba7 9.Re1 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.Qb3 Qd7 12.Nbd2 Rab8 13.Nf1 Rfe8 14.Be3 Bxe3 15.Nxe3 d5 16.Qc2 h6 17.h3 Kh8 18.Ra4 Qf7 19.Ng4 Nxg4 20.hxg4 Qg6 21.g5 hxg5 22.exd5 exd5 23.Rg4 e4 24.dxe4 Rxe4 25.Rexe4 dxe4 26.Nxg5 Nxa5 27.Qa4 b6 28.Rh4+ Kg8 29.Qa2+ Kf8 30.Rh8+ Ke7 31.Rxb8 Qxg5 32.Qb1 Qf4 33.Qd1 Nc6 34.Rh8 Kf6 1-0)

  1. O-O O-O 9. h3 (The most often played move, but SF 14.1 @depth 40 will play 9 Nbd2) 9…Be6 (9…There are 10 games at the CBDB in which the move 9…Ba7 was played, and it is the choice of SF 191221 @depth 34 plays the move, but SF 14.1 @depth 39 will play the move played in the game) 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11. Be3 (Although this move is the choice of SF 14 @depth 37, SF 14.1
    @depth 49 will play 11 Nbd2, which will be a TN if’n it’s ever played by a human. The move 11 b4 was seen in the following game, found only at the CBDB:

Kirill Alekseenko (2699) (RUS) vs Alexander Zubov 2598 (UKR)
Titled Tuesday Intern Op 2021

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d3 d6 6.O-O a6 7.a4 h6 8.a5 O-O 9.h3 Be6 10.Bxe6 fxe6 11.b4 Ba7 12.Re1 Qe8 13.Be3 Nh5 14.g3 Rf6 15.Ra2 Qf7 16.Nbd2 Rf8 17.Kg2 Qg6 18.Kh2 Qf7 19.Kg2 g5 20.Qe2 Qg6 21.Rf1 Kh7 22.Bxa7 Nxa7 23.Nh2 R6f7 24.Nc4 Nf6 25.Ne3 h5 26.Rb2 Nb5 27.Rc2 Kg8 28.Qd2 g4 29.hxg4 Nxg4 30.Nexg4 hxg4 31.Qe2 Rf3 32.Qd1 d5 33.Re1 d4 34.c4 Nc3 35.Qd2 Kg7 36.Rh1 R3f6 37.Qe1 b6 38.axb6 cxb6 39.Qc1 a5 40.c5 a4 41.cxb6 Qh5 42.Nf1 Qf7 43.Qg5+ Qg6 44.Qxe5 Kg8 45.Qxd4 Nd1 46.Rd2 Nxf2 47.Rxf2 Rxf2+ 48.Qxf2 Rxf2+ 49.Kxf2 Qf6+ 50.Ke1 Qc3+ 51.Nd2 Qxb4 52.Ke2 Qxb6 53.Rb1 Qa7 54.Nc4 a3 55.Ra1 a2 56.Ne3 Qa3 57.Nc4 Qb3 58.Rf1 Qc3 0-1

Fork the Russians. Score one for UKRAINE!!!

I’m So Glad Vlad Is Mad!

https://www.drudgereport.com/

How desperate Putin has just three moves left against Ukraine… and is running out of time: War expert JUSTIN BRONK says Russian ruler is in a ‘dangerous position’ but his BIGGEST difficulty is ‘selling his disastrous war as a victory to his own people’

By Justin Bronk For Mailonline

Published: 07:04 EDT, 17 March 2022 | Updated: 08:33 EDT, 17 March 2022

Ukraine has to sustain the ability of its forces to continue fighting effectively and counterattacking to regain lost territory if it is to hold out against the Russians, military expert JUSTIN BRONK writes on MailOnline today.

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops are mobilising new Ukrainian forces in the west with modern weapons provided by Western countries and these could be sent to reinforce Odessa or Kyiv rapidly if needed.

Mr Bronk, a leading military expert in airpower and technology, added that Ukraine must sustain morale of its troops and citizens and ensure Western military and other assistance continues to flow into the country.

He added that Russian forces are in a ‘dangerous position’ which is likely to deteriorate in the coming weeks without a major pause in fighting – meaning that it is vital that the Ukrainians continue to battle hard.

In contrast, Mr Bronk said the Russians are likely to attempt three options – one of them being driving northwards from Melitopol towards Dnipro to meet with a thrust southward from Kharkiv at the same time.

The second is that the Russians will continue bombardments of Mariupol, Kharkiv and other smaller cities – while the third is that they will carry on attempting to encircle and bypass Mkyolaiv in the south.

He also said parts of Ukraine are ‘now beyond Russia’s capacity to influence or “regain” forever’, adding: ‘Putin now needs his forces to achieve something he can sell to his own people as a victory worth these huge costs.’

Here is the full analysis by Mr Bronk, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-10622533/Russia-Ukraine-happens-win.html

Poems in a Time of Crisis

Rather than publish excerpts I decided to print the entire articled because, “Ilya Kaminsky (@ilya_poet) is the author of “Dancing in Odessa” and “Deaf Republic.” Born in the Soviet Union, he lives in Atlanta, where he teaches at Georgia Tech.

Poems in a Time of Crisis

March 13, 2022

By Ilya Kaminsky

Mr. Kaminsky is a Ukrainian American poet and the author of “Dancing in Odessa” and “Deaf Republic.”

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/ukrainian-american-poet-ilya-kaminsky-on-his-viral-poem-and-watching-a-war-from-afar/ar-AAUC5dr

Two weeks into the war, the Russians are still menacing my birth city, Odessa, in southwestern Ukraine. It sits on high bluffs above the Black Sea, its famous steps leading from the water to a square.

I don’t want to imagine soldiers chasing civilians through my city. Some part of my brain turns it into a farce, based on something I remember from my own childhood: In 1984, in a village just outside Odessa, I’m a 7-year-old deaf boy running in the government’s corn field. Behind me, waving his arms, runs a policeman. My grandmother, in her 60s, sprints in front of me.

We are stealing corn from the government, my grandmother and I. We get away, and we don’t stop at corn. A different day, Grandmother hauls me up onto the roof of the state farm so my long arms can reach into the branches of the plum trees. Her lips say, “Pick only the ripest.” She makes jam. Years later, I read the Russian poet Inna Kabysh: “Whoever is making a jam in Russia / knows there is no way out.”

Now I spend most of every day online, in America, trying to find ways out for Ukrainian poets and translators. Many literary organizations are willing to open their doors, bring in refugees, but unlike my grandmother and me, lots of Ukrainians writers don’t want to leave. They want their freedoms. They want their own languages — Ukrainian and Russian — in their own streets. I understand. My Jewish family keeps running from Odessa — and then returning.

Since the war began, I have received emails from journalists asking me to explain my poem “We Lived Happily During the War,” which went viral on the day Vladimir Putin’s troops began bombing my birth country. The poem was published on Poetry International in 2013, the same year the Maidan protests began in Ukraine. Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president at the time, was trying to lean closer to Putin and crush protests. Ukrainians rejected him; Putin stole Crimea; and the war in Donbas began.

“We lived happily during the war,” the poem begins, “and when they bombed other people’s houses, we / protested / but not enough, we opposed them but not / enough.” As I was writing the poem, my adopted country, the United States, was in the middle of its own “freedom” campaigns.

How are Putin’s bombardments of Kyiv different from George W. Bush’s bombardments of Baghdad? Both invasions used false premises: imaginary weapons of mass destruction in Bush’s case, and imaginary protection of the Russian language, among other justifications, in Putin’s. Odessa is a largely Russian-speaking city and Putin is sending troops to bombard Russian speakers — that is how he “protects” the Russian language.

“I woke up because of explosions,” my cousin Petya emailed me recently. “They were bombing the beach. Who do they think they’ll hit? This isn’t vacation season!” His jokes are typical of Odessa, a city of good humor, where April 1 is one of the most important holidays.

When I think of Russian troops arriving at the bay, I imagine them in their heavy gear, trying to huff and puff up the stairs, while Ukrainians throw Molotov cocktails and stones. My grandfathers fought the German tanks on tractors. This war feels like something out of a movie or a poem — but it is real. The city trembles.

“And when they bombed other people’s houses,” the poem goes. Who remembers the blitz of Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city, now? American politicians shouted for a bit. Then they forgot. It is lucrative to forget. The oil companies like doing business with Putin. “In the street of money in the city of money in the country of money,” the poem says, “our great country of money.”

And yet on the first day of March, over 800 people gathered for a Zoom poetry reading bringing together Ukrainian and American poets. It was one of the largest poetry readings I have witnessed. Why did so many turn to poetry in this time of crisis?

While we read poems, the 40-mile Russian military convoy threatened north of Kyiv. The West watched as young civilians took up guns, sand bags, Molotov cocktails. It’s not an especially large country, only 44 million people. There’s no one to fight for us but us.

“The West is watching us,” a friend writes. “This is their reality TV war, they are curious to see whether we will go on living, or die.”

Another friend emails: “We saw fighter aircraft, helicopters and Russian paratroopers from our window. But we walked for miles.” He tells me that they’re safe now: His wife is in Poland and he’s in Ukraine. He sends photos of the city where they lived.

A different day, a friend from Kyiv writes: “Am in Bukovina, took 2 dogs and 1 cat with me, Sophie’s choice, left 3 cats behind, being cared for by a neighbor.” It’s unbearable, she tells me. She is 12 miles from the Romanian border. Eventually, she crosses with only one dog.

An Odessa friend contacts me to say: “I’ve seen today 10-km queue in Palanca and approx 500-600 people that were walking by feet. Mamas with kids and it’s snowing and some kids crying, others have serious men’s eyes.”

Another friend, who remains in Odessa, tell me he just got back from the store: “People are grabbing any food they can find. I’m trying to do art. Read out loud. To distract myself. Try to read between the lines.”

I ask how I can help. Finally, an older friend, a lifelong journalist, writes back: “Putins come and go. If you want to help, send us some poems and essays. We are putting together a literary magazine.”

In the middle of war, he is asking for poems.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/13/opinion/ukraine-odessa-poems.html

The Saint Louis Spring Classic Tournaments

A remarkable thing happened in St. Louis the past couple of weeks during the playing of the 2022 Spring Classic at the St. Louis Chess Club.

https://www.hisour.com/world-chess-hall-of-fame-saint-louis-missouri-united-states-5153/

There were two different Chess tournaments, the “A” and the “B”. In the top section there were twenty three (23) decisive games played out of the forty five (45) total games contested, which is over 50%. There were even more decisive games, twenty eight (28) in the “B” tournament! That means 62% of the games ended in a victory for one player! This is unheard of in todaze Chess world what with the plethora of drawn games dominating play. The “A” section saw white score twelve (12) wins, with the general of the black army winning eleven (11) games! In round three there were three (3) black wins to go with two draws. Round five (5) saw three (3) black wins with only one (1) win for the player of the white pieces. In the “second section” there were nineteen (19) victories scored by players of the white pieces, with nine (9) games won by the player in command of the black pieces. These two tournaments were truly “fighting” tournaments. This should not be Big News but is because of the unbelievably large number of drawn games in most tournaments these daze, such as tournaments held at the Charlotte Chess Club, where players go to draw. There is a reason for the great disparity between the two Chess havens. Simply put, if a player comes to St. Louis with a case of “shakeitus” he is not again invited. In Charlotte they “Follow the rules.” In St. Louis they make their own rules, which happen to engender fighting Chess. If a player comes to St. Louis with his hand extended, ready to accept a draw at any time, that player deservedly suffers opprobrium from the community.

The time spent watching the games from St. Louis was time well spent. What with the Russian monster killing machine laying waste to Ukraine time was needed for escapism, and nothing is a better escape outlet than the Royal Game, especially when the players come to the board with their knives unsheathed.

The first featured game involves one of my favorite players, GM Titas Stremavicius.

He must be the only Grandmaster who plays with the f-pawn, both f-pawns. Certainly Titas is the leading exponent of the Bird’s opening (1 f4), and after 1 d4 Sid Vicious, as I think of him, plays 1…f5 with regularity. Sid is an imaginative and interesting player who usually plays to win. Until this tournament Sid, given the chance, usually played the Leningrad Dutch. For some reason Titas decided to play differently in his round six game with GM Robert Hungaski.

ajedrez-riogalleguense.blogspot.com

After, 1. d4 f5 2. g3 Nf6 3. Bg2, Stremavicius played the move 3…e6?! in lieu of 3…d6. Why, Sid, why? Sid tripped and fell all over his blade. Sid must have “booked up” on 3…e6 in order to surprise his opponents in this tournament because he played the same move against GM Elshan Moradiabadi

in round eight. Unfortunately, the vicious one was the player surprised. Sid came out of the opening with a decent position, but in the transition to the middle game Sid Vicious first put one foot in it before putting the other foot in it before falling face first into the slime pit. Those two losses with black were sandwiched between a loss with white to GM Arman Mikaelyan,

Arman Mikaelyan (GM armeno, 23 anni) https://unoscacchista.com/2019/12/13/roma-capitale-degli-scacchi/

making it three losses in a row heading into the last round. Keep this in mind as you read on…

The following game was contested in the last round. GM Christopher Repka

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Chris Repka Interview | Round 4

started the tournament with four (4) straight wins, and after a couple of draws defeated Christopher Woojin Woo

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Christopher Yoo Interview | Round 8

in round seven while General of the white army. At one point I recall Repka being two full points ahead of the player in second place. The youngest human to become a Grandmaster, Abhimanyu Mishra (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2021/07/14/chess-dirty-laundry-begins-to-smell/),

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Abhi Mishra Interview | Round 9

won four (4) games in a row after a second round loss with black versus GM Cemil Can Ali Marandi.

Cemil Can Ali Marandi | ChessStreamers .com

After a draw in the antepenultimate round with GM Elshan Moradiabadi the two players, Mishra and Repka, were tied for first place and were to meet in the penultimate round. It was the game of the event as Mishra, in charge of the black army, handed Repka his first loss. In the last round Stremavicius, who had lost three games in a row, had white versus Repka, who now desperately needed a win…

Titas Stremavicius (2520) vs Christopher Repka (2508)
Saint Louis Spring Classic “B”
A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack

  1. c4 e5 2. Nc3 Bb4 3. Qc2 d6 4. e3 c5 5. g3 Ne7 6. Bg2 Nbc6 7. Nge2 Bf5 8. d3 Qd7 9. h3 O-O 10. Bd2 Bxc3 11. bxc3 Be6 12. Rd1 f5 13. Bc1 Rad8 14. O-O f4 15. exf4 Bxh3 16. d4 Bxg2 17. Kxg2 Qf5 18. Qxf5 Nxf5 19. g4 Nfe7 20. f5 Na5 21. Bg5 Kf7 22. Rfe1 Rfe8 23. dxe5 dxe5 24. Rxd8 Rxd8 25. Nf4 Nxc4 26. Ne6 Re8 27. Re4 b5 28. Nc7 Rb8 29. a4 Nc6 30. Nxb5 N6a5 31. Nxa7 Rb2 32. Nc6 Ra2 33. Nxa5 Nxa5 34. Bd8 Nc6 35. Bb6 Ne7 36. Bxc5 Nd5 37. Rxe5 Nxc3 38. g5 Nxa4 39. Re7+ Kf8 40. Re2+ Nxc5 41. Rxa2 h6 1-0
    https://live.followchess.com/#!spring-chess-classic-b-2022/-1909464958

Stockfish 14 @depth 47 will take the Knight with 4…Bc3. The only other game with the same move order follows, which makes 5 g3 a Theoretical Novelty. There were several turning points and I suggest you surf on over to Lichess.com (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-spring-chess-classic/round-9/TYTT0kRI) and reply the game. The following position captured my attention:

Position after 17 Kxg2 with Black to move

I was expecting 17…Qg4 because there is no way I would trade Queens when my opponent had an ‘open air’ King!

Klaus Bischoff (2504) vs Rene Stern (2521)
Event: Bundesliga 2016-17
Site: Berlin GER Date: 11/19/2016
Round: 3.5 Score: ½-½
ECO: A21 English, Kramnik-Shirov counterattack
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Bb4 3.Qc2 d6 4.e3 c5 5.Nge2 Nc6 6.a3 Ba5 7.d3 f5 8.Bd2 Nf6 9.g3 O-O 10.Bg2 Bd7 11.O-O Rb8 12.f4 Qe8 13.Nd5 Bxd2 14.Qxd2 Ne7 15.Nxf6+ Rxf6 16.fxe5 dxe5 17.Nc3 Be6 18.Nd5 Bxd5 19.cxd5 Nc8 20.Qc3 b6 21.b4 cxb4 22.Qxb4 Nd6 23.Rac1 Rd8 24.Rc6 e4 25.dxe4 Nxe4 26.Bxe4 ½-½
https://www.365chess.com/game.php?back=1&gid=4022571&m=9

Abhimanyu Mishra won the “B” section of the tournament with seven (7) points, one more than Christopher Repka, who finished a point and a half ahead of a group of four with 4 1/2.

GM Abhimanyu Mishra (2505) vs GM Christopher Woojin Yoo (2514)
Saint Louis Spring Classic “A” Round 9
C03 French, Tarrasch

  1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nd2 Be7 4. Ngf3 Nf6 5. e5 Nfd7 6. Bd3 c5 7. c3 Nc6 8. O-O g5 9. Nb1 b6 10. Be3 Bb7 11. a3 c4 12. Bc2 h5 13. Ne1 Qc7 14. f4 gxf4 15. Bxf4 O-O-O 16. Nd2 Rdf8 17. Qe2 f6 18. exf6 Bd6 19. Bxd6 Qxd6 20. Nef3 Rxf6 21. Ng5 Qe7 22. Ndf3 Re8 23. h4 Qd6 24. Nd2 e5 25. Bf5 Rff8 26. Bxd7+ Kxd7 27. Qxh5 Rxf1+ 28. Rxf1 exd4 29. cxd4 b5 30. Ndf3 Qe7 31. Re1 Qxe1+ 32. Nxe1 Rxe1+ 33. Kf2 Re8 34. Qf7+ Re7 35. Qxd5+ Kc8 36. Qf5+ Kc7 37. Qf4+ Kc8 38. Ne4 Nd8 39. Nd6+ Kd7 40. Nf5 Rf7 41. g4 Nc6 42. d5 Ne7 43. Qd6+ Ke8 44. Qb8+ Nc8 45. Kg3 a5 46. Nd6+ 1-0
    https://live.followchess.com/#!spring-chess-classic-b-2022/-289612928
Now that’s a Chess MOVE! Position after 8…g5

9…b6 was a weak move for many reasons, foremost in that it blocked the Queen. 9…Qb6 was best. Mishra hald an advantage even after playing the weak 11 a3. At Lichess the move is given as 11 a3?!, with “Inaccuracy. Ne1 was best.” Then a few moves later Mishra played 13 Ne1? “Mistake. a4 was best.” after that move the game was even…until Yoo took the pawn with 14…gxf4. Stockfish preferred 14…g4. (https://lichess.org/broadcast/2022-spring-chess-classic/round-9/TYTT0kRI) The game was lost after Yoo played 17…f6? What would Ben Finegold say?

In the top section, “A”, GM Samuel Sevian and GM Illya Nyzhnyk tied for first place with each scoring six (6) points. Unfortunately, they were forced to play some kind of quick game that is inherently unfair to decide which player “won” the tournament. It is sad, really, when one thinks about it… Show the players some RESPECT!

GM Ray Robson (2676)

2021 U.S. Chess Championships: Ray Robson Interview | Round 11

vs GM Illya Nyzhnyk

2022 Spring Chess Classic: Illya Nyzhnyk Interview | Round 8


Saint Louis Spring Classic “A”
C43 Petrov, modern attack, Symmetrical variation

  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 Bc5 5. Bc4 Nxf2 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qd5+ Kg6 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Nc3 h6 10. Qd4 d6 11. Nd5 Nc6 12. Qe4+ Kf7 13. Be3 Re8 14. Bxh6 Rxe5 15. Nxe5+ Nxe5 16. O-O-O Nf2 17. Rf1 Qf6 18. Nxf6 Nxe4 19. Nxe4+ Kg8 20. Bf4 Ng6 21. Ng5 Bd7 22. Be3 b6 23. Bd4 Rf8 24. Rxf8+ Nxf8 25. Kd2 Ne6 26. Nxe6 Bxe6 27. a3 Kf7 28. h4 Bf5 29. c3 c5 30. Be3 Ke6 31. Bf4 Be4 32. g3 Bf3 33. Ke3 Bd1 34. Kd2 Bf3 35. Ke3 Bd1 36. Kd2 Bf3 1/2-1/2
    https://live.followchess.com/#!spring-chess-classic-a-2022/861379315
Position after 9…h6 with White to move
  1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. dxe5 (SF 14.1 @depth 55 and SF 250222 @depth 56 will play 4 Bd3. Houdini @depth 27 will play the move made in the game) 4…Bc5 5. Bc4 Nxf2 6. Bxf7+ Kxf7 7. Qd5+ Kg6 8. Qxc5 Nxh1 9. Nc3 h6 10. Qd4 (The game is still in “book” theory, but this is not “book.” The only move played until now has been 10 Qc4 and eleven examples can be found here, if’n you’re of a mind to delve deeply into the opening: https://www.365chess.com/opening.php?m=19&n=3249145&ms=e4.e5.Nf3.Nf6.d4.Nxe4.dxe5.Bc5.Bc4.Nxf2.Bxf7.Kxf7.Qd5.Kg6.Qxc5.Nxh1.Nc3.h6&ns=3.5.5.221.765.909.766.19757.80384.104065.395428.558033.1231410.1527481.1249477.1542437.2519503.3249145)

Sting posts video of himself singing his 1985 song ‘Russians’ amid war in Ukraine

By Chloe Melas, CNN Sun March 6, 2022

“Russians”

[Soviet news report excerpt:]
…и премьер охарактеризовала переговоры с главой делегации Михаила Сергеевича Горбачёва как конструктивный, реалистический, типовой и дружественный обмен… …но послание заложено…

In Europe and America there’s a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mister Khrushchev said, ‘We will bury you’
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
It’d be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy
From Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?
There is no monopoly of common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent to put
The words in the mouth of the president
There’s no such thing as a winnable war
It’s a lie we don’t believe anymore
Mister Reagan says ‘We will protect you’
I don’t subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/sting/russians.html