Dazed and Confused at the 28th World Senior Chess Championships

The 28th World Senior Chess Championships (http://www.wscc2018.european-chessacademy.com/index.php/en/) began today in Maribor, Slovenia. The USA contingent is being led by FM Nathan Resika (2124), number 49 on the list of entrants in the 50+ tournament. Michael A. Gilbert (1921) and unrated David Jones are also playing in the section. Leonid Bondar (1931) and Mariano Acosta (1721) are playing in the 65+ section. There are no USA women participating in the two sections only for women.

In the first round GM Henrik “Polar Bear” Danielsen (2504) of Iceland

was paired with Antonio Lopez Pereyra (2066), from Spain. GM Danielsen left the Polar Bear in Iceland so his opponent moved his f-pawn on move one! The opening turned into a Leningrad Dutch.

1. g3 f5 2. d4 g6 3. Bg2 Bg7 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. O-O d6 6. c4 O-O 7. Nc3 Nc6 8. d5 Na5 9. Qa4 c5 10. dxc6 bxc6 11. Rd1 Bd7 12. c5 Nb7 13. Qb3+ 1-0

Lopez Pereyra was no doubt left dazed and confused.

Todaze lesson is to DEFEND YOUR PIECES! Everyone who knows me is more than a little aware that the first thing I teach is: 1) Why did my opponent make that move? 2) What move do I want, or need, to make? 3) AM I LEAVING ANYTHING EN PRISE?

GM Karen Movsziszian (2513) of Armenia faced Andres Belmont Hernandez (2080), of Mexico, with the game transposing after the third move into a Bird!

1. g3 Nf6 2. Bg2 d5 3. f4 Nc6 (See 3…g6 below) 4. Nf3 e6 5. O-O Be7 6. d3 O-O 7. e3 b6 8. Kh1 Bb7 9. Qe2 a5 10. a4 Qb8 11. Nc3 Rd8 12. Nd1 Ra7 13. Nf2 Ba6 14. c4 dxc4 15. dxc4 Bb7 16. b3 Nb4 17. e4 Nd7 18. Bb2 Nc5 19. Nd4 Ra8 20. Rad1 Nc6 21. Qe3 Nxd4 22. Bxd4 Bc6 23. g4 Qb7 24. g5 Rd7 25. Bb2 Rad8 26. Rxd7 Rxd7 27. h4 f5 28. gxf6 Bxf6 29. Bxf6 gxf6 30. Rg1 Rg7 31. Qd4 Kf7 32. Bf3 Rxg1+ 33. Kxg1 Qc8 34. Ng4 e5 35. fxe5 Bxe4 36. Nh6+ Kg6 37. Bxe4+ Kxh6 38. Qe3+ Kh5 39. Bf3+ Kg6 40. Qf4 Qe6 41. h5+ Kg7 42. h6+ Kg6 43. exf6 Qf5 44. Qxf5+ Kxf5 45. f7 Ne6 46. Kf2 Kg6 47. Ke3 Kxh6 48. Bd5 Nf8 49. c5 bxc5 50. Kd3 Kg7 51. Kc4 Nd7 52. Kb5 h5 53. Kxa5 Nb8 54. Bf3 Kxf7 55. Bxh5+ Ke7 56. Kb5 Kd6 57. Be8 Ke7 58. Bg6 Kd6 59. Be4 Ke5 60. Bf3 Kd6 61. a5 Nd7 62. a6 Nb6 63. a7 c4 64. bxc4 c6+ 65. Kxb6 1-0

Gata Kamsky (2638) vs Samuel Sevian, (2600)
US Chess Masters 2016
Greensboro, North Carolina USA 08/27/2016

1. g3 Nf6 2. Bg2 d5 3. f4 g6 4. Nf3 Bg7 5. d3 O-O 6. O-O Re8 7. Qe1 Nc6 8. e4 dxe4 9. dxe4 e5 10. f5 gxf5 11. Nh4 Nxe4 12. Nxf5 Bxf5 13. Rxf5 Nd6 14. Rf1 e4 15. c3 Ne5 16. Qe2 Nd3 17. Bf4 f5 18. Na3 Be5 19. Be3 Qd7 20. Rad1 Qg7 21. Nc2 Rf8 22. Nb4 f4 23. gxf4 Nxf4 24. Bxf4 Bxf4 25. Nd5 Be5 26. Qh5 Rfe8 27. Qh3 Kh8 28. Kh1 Rf8 29. Qh5 Rxf1+ 30. Rxf1 Rg8 31. Bh3 Nc4 32. Ne7 Qxe7 33. Rf7 Qxf7 34. Qxf7 Nd6 35. Qxc7 a6 36. Bf5 Rg7 37. Qd8+ Rg8 38. Qe7 Nxf5 39. Qxe5+ Ng7 40. Qxe4 Rb8 41. Qe7 h5 42. Qc7 Re8 43. Qxb7 Re2 44. Kg1 Kh7 45. c4 h4 46. c5 h3 47. c6 Rg2+ 48. Kf1 Kg6 49. c7 Nf5 50. Qb6+ 1-0

Annotations to the Senior game can be found at http://live.chessbase.com/watch/28th-WSCC-Open-50-2018.

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Kacper Piorun vs Hikaru Nakamura Play Captain Mackenzie’s Variation

In the Chessbase report Batumi Olympiad Round 9: Poland stuns USA, Sagar Shah writes:

10/4/2018 – “Being the sole leader at the Olympiad is not an easy task. USA was the sole leader with 15.0/16 going into the ninth round. They were the clear favourites facing the Polish team. But the inspired Poles played out of their skins and beat the US with three draws and the decisive result being Piorun beating Nakamura.” (https://en.chessbase.com/post/batumi-olympiad-round-9-poland-stuns-usa)

I nominate the latter part for understatement of the year. Team USA held control of its fate in its hands. Hikaru Nakamura’s loss was, quite simply, DEVASTATING. There were other losses earlier in the Olympiad by team USA but coming when it did, none compared to Nakamura’s loss in round nine. To argue that it was not the most devastating loss of the 2018 Olympiad, and arguably the most devastating loss by any American in any Olympiad, would be akin to arguing that a batter striking out in the bottom of the ninth inning of the seventh game of the MLB World Series with two outs and the tying and winning runners on base was the same as a strikeout earlier in the game.

Mr. Shah writes about the game, “Nakamura tried the Scandinavian against Kacper Piorun, retreating his queen back to d8, and was in a slightly inferior position out of the opening. There were a few equalizing chances like the one below, but Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that’s the reason why he made certain poor decisions.”

The author of those words mentions absolutely nothing about how he came to know that, “…Naka wanted to win the game at all costs and that’s the reason why he made certain poor decisions.” Is this what Hikaru said after the game when questioned, or is this what Mr. Shah assumes? Inquiring minds want to know…Maybe we Chess fans will be able to glean what, exactly, was in Nakamura’s mind during that game if, and only if he gives an interview. Maybe IM John Donaldson will explain the circumstances in a future article about the Olympiad. I find it extremely difficult to believe “…Naka wanted to win the game at all costs.” Hikaru Nakamura has been drawing the majority of his games recently and his current rating decline is an indication of the correctness of what I have written. Hikaru Nakamura is now thirty years old, and if he were a Chinese player would not be on the Olympic squad because when a player turns thirty in China he must stop playing and become a teacher. Could this be the reason China took the gold medal? Although it pains this old man to write this as Nakamura is to me still a young man the fact is that in modern Chess when players earn their GM title before leaving grade school Hikaru became “old” upon turning thirty.

Let us have a look at the game. I have previously attempted to play this line, first played by Captain George Henry Mackenzie

in the London tournament held in 1883. Why Nakamura chose this particular opening only he can explain.Certainly if he were of the mindset to “…win the game at all costs…” he would have chosen a more, shall we say, dynamic opening. Incidentally, Piorun is five-time World problem-solving champion. He certainly solved the Nakamura problem in this game…

Kacper Piorun (POL) (2612)

– Hikaru Nakamura (USA) (2763)

World Chess Olympiad Batumi 2018 round 09

B01 Scandinavian or Centre Counter defense

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 (It should come as not surprise that both Komodo and Stockfish prefer 3…Qa5)

4. d4 Nf6 5. Nf3 g6 (The top two moves are, in order, 5…Bg4 and c6. Houdini would play the seldom played 5…a6. Nakamura has entered fertile territory here as his move has not been played often, and it has not been played previously by a so-called “super” GM)

6. Be2 (This move has only been attempted a handful of times by much lesser players. The Dragon would move the prelate to c4, or play 6 h3)

6…Bg7 7. O-O (Komodo prefers 7 h3) 7…O-O (Komodo prefers 7…Nc6)

8. Bf4 Nc6 (Komodo would play either 8…c6 or Bf5 depending on the program and depth. The game between Georg Schwager and Rudolf Ohmstede from Ruhrgebiet VK3 9899, 1999 continued, c6 9. Qd2 Re8 10. Rfe1 Bf5 11. Bd3 Bxd3 12. Qxd3 Nbd7 13. Rad1 Nb6 14. Ne5 Nbd5 15. Nxd5 cxd5 16. b3 Rc8 17. c4 a6 18. h3 Qa5 19. Re2 Qb4 20. Rc2 e6 21. Qf3 Rf8 22. Rdc1 Qa5 23. Bg5 Ne4 24. Be7 Bxe5 25. Bxf8 Bxd4 26. Bh6 g5 27. cxd5 Rxc2 28. Rxc2 Qe1+ 29. Kh2 f5 30. dxe6 Nd6 31. Re2 Be5+ 32. g3 Qc3 33. Qd5 Bxg3+ 34. fxg3 Ne8 1-0)

9. Qd2 b6 10. Rad1 Bb7 11. Rfe1 (Until this move we have been following the game R. Miranda (2238) v S. Slipak (2458) played at the Caba Legislatura Cup 2018. Slipak played 11 Nb5 Nd5 12. c4 Nxf4 13. Qxf4 a6 14. d5 Ne5 15. Nbd4 Qd6 16. Qc1 Qc5 17. Ng5 Qa5 18. Qb1 c5 19. f4 Nxc4 20. Nf5 Nxb2 21. Rc1 Bf6 22. Ne4 Qb4 23. a3 Qxa3 24. Rf3 Qb4 25. Kh1 Bg7 26. Nxe7+ Kh8 27. Nd6 c4 28. Nef5 Bxd5 29. Nxg7 Bxf3 30. Bxf3 c3 31. Bxa8 Qxd6 32. Bf3 Qf6 33. Nh5 gxh5 34. Qe4 Rc8 35. Qb4 Rc5 36. g3 Nd3 0-1)

11…e6 12. Bh6 Ne7 13. Bxg7 Kxg7 14. Ne5 Rc8 15. Qf4 a6 16. Rd3 b5 17. a3 Qd6 18. b4 Rcd8 19. Red1 Nfd5 20. Nxd5 Nxd5 21. Qh4 f6 22. c4

22…g5 (This weakening move gives the advantage to white. Naka should have played 22…bxc4)

23. Rg3 Ne7 24. Qh5 (Nakamura has been outplayed up to this point and with 24 c5 Piorun would retain a large advantage)

24…Be4 25. Re3 Bf5 26. c5 Qd5 27. Bf3 Qa2 28. Nc6 Nxc6 29. Bxc6 Qc4 30. Be4

30…Bxe4 (This is an instructive mistake. Stockfish shows two better moves, 30…Rxd4 and 30…Bg6, both leaving the game equal)

31. Rxe4 e5 32. h4 h6 33. Qf3 Qd5 34. h5

34…exd4? (This is as bad as it gets. The Fish shows that a prudent move such as 34…Kg8, or even 34…Rd7 would keep Naka in the game)

35. Rdxd4 Qf7 36. g4 Rxd4 37. Rxd4 Qe6 38. Qd3 f5 39. Rd7+ Rf7 40. Qd4+ Kh7 41. Rd8 Rg7 42. Rf8 (Breaking the coordination between the Queen and Rook. There were many better moves. Stockfish has the simple 42 Kg2 best. White is still winning, but has possibly given his opponent chances to hold))

42…Qc4 43. Qxc4 bxc4 44. Rxf5

44…c6 (Turn out the lights, the party’s over…There were many better moves, all of which did nothing, such as 44…Rd7 and Re7. Sometimes it is difficult to no nothing when wants to do something, hoping to save the game. Moving the pawn makes Naka’s position worse. Shuffling the rook keeps the position bad, but does not make it worse. It is difficult to sit there facing defeat without wanting to do something; anything, but as Sergei Karjakin showed in his World Championship match with Magnus Carlsen, it can be difficult for an opponent with a “won” game to actually “win” the game if one continues to limit the damage to his position)

45. Re5 Rd7 46. Re4 Rd1+ 47. Kg2 Rc1 48. Kf3 Kg7 49. Ke3 Kf6 50. Kd4 c3 51. Re8 c2 52. Kc3 a5 53. Rc8 axb4+ 54. axb4 Ke5 55. Rxc6 Rb1 56. Kxc2 Rxb4 57. f3 Kd4 58. Rxh6 Rc4+ 59. Kd2 Rxc5 60. Re6 1-0

This particular variation took a devastating hit in the 1962 Olympiad in Varna with the following game:

Bobby Fischer

vs Karl Robatsch

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 g6 5. Bf4 Bg7 6. Qd2 Nf6 7. O-O-O c6 8.
Bh6 O-O 9. h4 Qa5 10. h5 gxh5 11. Bd3 Nbd7 12. Nge2 Rd8 13. g4 Nf8 14. gxh5 Ne6
15. Rdg1 Kh8 16. Bxg7+ Nxg7 17. Qh6 Rg8 18. Rg5 Qd8 19. Rhg1 Nf5 20. Bxf5 1-0

After the following game the variation was put into moth balls for quite some time:

Bobby Fischer vs William Addison

Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Nf6 5. Bc4 Bf5 6. Qf3 Qc8 7. Bg5 Bxc2 8.
Rc1 Bg6 9. Nge2 Nbd7 10. O-O e6 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. d5 e5 13. Bb5 Be7 14. Ng3 a6
15. Bd3 Qd8 16. h4 h5 17. Bf5 Nb6 18. Nce4 Nxd5 19. Rfd1 c6 20. Nc3 Qb6 21.
Rxd5 cxd5 22. Nxd5 Qxb2 23. Rb1 Qxa2 24. Rxb7 1-0

Alexander Sellman vs George Henry Mackenzie

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Bf5 5. Qf3 Qc8 6. Bf4 e6 7. Bd3 Bxd3 8.
Qxd3 Nf6 9. Nf3 Bd6 10. Be5 Nbd7 11. O-O-O a6 12. Rhe1 Bb4 13. d5 Nxe5 14. Rxe5
Bd6 15. Re2 O-O 16. dxe6 fxe6 17. Rde1 Qd7 18. Rxe6 Rae8 19. Rxe8 Rxe8 20.
Rxe8+ Qxe8 21. Qc4+ Kf8 22. Kd1 Qg6 23. g3 Qh5 24. Qe2 Bb4 25. Qd3 Bxc3 26.
Qxc3 1/2-1/2

Samuel Rosenthal vs George Henry Mackenzie

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 Bf5 5. Nf3 e6 6. Be2 Nf6 7. O-O Bd6 8.
Nb5 Be7 9. Bf4 Na6 10. a3 c6 11. Nc3 Nc7 12. Re1 O-O 13. Nh4 Bg6 14. Nxg6 hxg6
15. Bd3 Ncd5 16. Nxd5 Nxd5 17. Be5 Bf6 18. Qg4 Bxe5 19. dxe5 Re8 20. Rad1 Qc7
21. h4 Ne7 22. h5 gxh5 23. Qxh5 g6 24. Qh6 Nf5 25. Bxf5 exf5 26. e6 Rad8 27.
Rxd8 Qxd8 28. exf7+ Kxf7 29. Qh7+ Kf6 30. Qh4+ Kf7 31. Qh7+ Kf6 32. Qh4+ Kf7
33. Qc4+ Kf6 34. Qc3+ Kf7 35. Qb3+ Kf6 36. Rxe8 Qxe8 37. Qxb7 Qe1+ 38. Kh2 Qxf2
39. Qxc6+ Kf7 40. Qc4+ Kf6 41. Qc3+ Kf7 42. b4 g5 43. Qd3 g4 44. c4 Kf6 45.
Qc3+ Kg5 46. Qg7+ Kh5 47. Qe5 Kh4 48. Qe7+ Kh5 49. Qe5 Kh4 50. Qh8+ Kg5 51.
Qd8+ Kh5 52. Qe8+ Kh4 53. Qe7+ Kh5 54. Qe5 Kh4 55. Qf6+ Kh5 56. Qf7+ Kh4 57.
Qe7+ Kh5 58. c5 f4 59. c6 Qf1 60. Qe5+ Kg6 61. c7 f3 62. Qe4+ Kg5 63. Qxg4+
Kxg4 64. c8=Q+ Kg5 65. Qg8+ Kf4 66. Qf7+ Kg4 67. Qg7+ Kf5 68. gxf3 Qxf3 69.
Qxa7 Qe2+ 70. Kg1 Kg4 71. Qg7+ 1-0

The Captain was not the only player to attempt the “Queen back” variation at London:

James Mortimer vs Berthold Englisch

London 1883

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 e6 5. Be3 Nf6 6. Bd3 Be7 7. Nce2 b6 8.
Nf3 Bb7 9. Ng3 Nbd7 10. c3 O-O 11. h4 c5 12. dxc5 Nxc5 13. Bxc5 Bxc5 14. Qc2
Qc7 15. Ng5 h6 16. Kf1 Rfd8 17. N5e4 Ng4 18. Re1 Nxf2 19. Nxc5 Nxd3 20. Nxd3
Qxg3 21. Rh3 Qg6 22. Nb4 Ba6+ 23. Kg1 Qxc2 24. Nxc2 Rd2 25. Rc1 Bb7 26. Rg3
Rad8 27. b4 Rd1+ 28. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 29. Kf2 Rd2+ 0-1

Other players were inspired by the Captain, including the man with one of, if not the best nickname in the history of Chess:

Szymon Winawer

vs Joseph Henry “Black Death” Blackburne

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8 4. d4 g6 5. Be3 Nh6 6. Qd2 Nf5 7. Bd3 Bg7 8.
Bxf5 Bxf5 9. h3 h5 10. Nge2 Na6 11. a3 c6 12. Ng3 Qd7 13. O-O-O h4 14. Nxf5
Qxf5 15. Qd3 Qa5 16. Qe4 e6 17. Bf4 O-O-O 18. Qe3 Nc7 19. Bxc7 Qxc7 20. f4 Rh5
21. Rhf1 Qb6 22. Ne2 c5 23. c3 cxd4 24. Nxd4 e5 25. Nc2 Rxd1+ 26. Kxd1 Qxe3 27.
Nxe3 Bh6 28. Nd5 exf4 29. c4 Re5 30. Re1 Rxe1+ 31. Kxe1 Kd7 32. Ke2 f5 33. Kf3
g5 34. Nb4 Bg7 35. Nd3 Kd6 36. b3 Bd4 37. Ke2 Be3 38. Kf3 b6 39. b4 a6 40. a4
Bd4 41. Ke2 Bc3 42. b5 a5 43. Kf2 Bd4+ 44. Ke2 Bg1 45. Kf3 Be3 46. g4 hxg3 47.
Kg2 Bd2 48. c5+ bxc5 49. b6 c4 50. Ne5 Kxe5 51. b7 Ke4 0-1

Yes, that is the man responsible for the Winawer variation of the French defense.

How The World Sees The Trumpster

England


A man takes a picture of a mural by English street artist Bambi depicting British Prime Minister Theresa May dancing with US President Donald Trump in London on February 22, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP/Getty Images


A woman runs along a towpath near graffiti depicting U.S. President Donald Trump on a canal bridge in east London, Britain, February 18, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville[/caption]

Bulgaria


Mural depicting US President Donald Trump is seen on a wall as part of Mural Festival in the village of Staro Zhelezare, Bulgaria, Wednesday 26 July 2017. Outdoor murals on the walls of houses in the village of Staro Zhelezare feature local people alongside well known figures from the worlds of politics and religion. (Photo by Valentina Petrova/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

China

This photo taken on December 24, 2016 shows a giant chicken sculpture outside a shopping mall in Taiyuan, north China’s Shanxi province.
A Chinese shopping mall is ringing in the year of the cock with a giant sculpture of a chicken that looks like US president-elect Donald Trump. / AFP / STR / China OUT (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil

Months after pro- and anti-Trump protesters clashed violently in São Paulo, displeased demonstrators returned to the streets on the day of his inauguration.

Indonesia


A man cycles past graffiti condemning US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, on a street in Surabaya, Indonesia’s east Java on October 17, 2016. / AFP / JUNI KRISWANTO/AFP/Getty Images

Ireland

A mural lampooning US President Donald Trump in Dublin’s Temple Bar by artist ADW. (Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)

Israel


Tourists walk past a graffiti by street artist Lushsux, depicting US President Donald Trump kissing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu drawn on the controversial Israeli separation barrier separating the West Bank town of Bethlehem from Jerusalem, on October 29, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Musa AL SHAER/AFP/Getty Images


In the days after Trump’s election, a souvenir shop sold politically satirical merchandise in Jerusalem’s Old City, including items depicting Trump as a Hasidic Jew and Barack Obama donning a kaffiyeh. Israelis, on the whole, preferred Hillary Clinton in the election, but Hasidic Jews have expressed approval of Trump’s alignment with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the fact that his daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism.

Italy


Many Italians see Trump as the American version of Silvio Berlusconi, the flamboyant media tycoon turned prime minister. In late October, artist Dario Gambarin remade a cornfield outside Verona into a colossal portrait of Trump. “In Italy, we say ‘ciao’ to say hello and goodbye,” Gambarin told Inside Edition. “I am saying hello if he becomes president and goodbye if he doesn’t.” Trump, he added, “would not make a good president.”
Dario Gambarin | Getty Images


The Carnival of Viareggio, an annual Mardis Gras parade hosted by the Tuscan city of Viareggio, is traditionally celebrated with giant papier-mâché floats depicting caricatures of popular characters and politicians. This year, parade floats featured elaborate masks of Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Getty Images

Mexico

Detail of the mural paint made by Mexican artist Luis Sotelo called “We are migrants not criminals” (Somos migrantes no delincuentes) in Tonatico, Mexico, on 25 June 2016.
The mural is part of the cultural movement “Stop Trump”. / AFP / MARIO VAZQUEZ/AFP/Getty Images

View of a graffiti painted against US President Donald Trump in Mexico City on June 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images


In Mexico City, graffiti denounced Trump on the day of his inauguration.
Getty Images

Picture of a graffiti against US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump painted by an unknown artist on the embankment of the Bravo River on the border with the United States, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State, Mexico, on June 28, 2016. / AFP / JESUS ALCAZAR/AFP/Getty Images


A mural reading “Todos somos migrantes” (“We are all migrants”) in Tijuana sits close to the U.S.-Mexican border.
Getty Images

Spain

A man takes pictures of a graffiti of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in Barcelona on June 7, 2016. / AFP / JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images

Lithuania

VILNIUS, LITHUANIA – MARCH 17: A mural of U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘shotgunning’ a marijuana joint is seen on March 17, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Trump has decreased his tweeting of praise for his Russian counterpart as the former’s administration has found itself on the defensive amidst investigations into Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections last year. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Serbia


The Cyrillic words at the center of this painting of Trump and Putin in Belgrade read “Kosovo is Serbia,” a nod to Serbia’s, and Russia’s, refusal to recognize Kosovo’s sovereignty. Trump’s candidacy has renewed enthusiasm for the United States among Serbia’s ultranationalists, many of whom see him as an ally in their opposition to globalization.
Getty Images

Russia


In Russia, where Trump’s friendliness with Putin has been well-received, Trump has begun to appear in commercial contexts, including on a commemorative smartphone case released shortly after his election and on sugar boxes at a supermarket in the city of Tula.
Getty Images

USA

A Donald Trump mural covers a building in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, Florida, on October 27, 2016.
The Anti-Trump, batman themed mural was created by the artists of the Bushwick Collective ahead of the US presidential election. / AFP / RHONA WISE /AFP/Getty Images

Weiqi (Go) Versus Chess

“Using a universally relevant metaphor, Zbigniew Brzezinski,

former National Security Adviser to US president Jimmy Carter,

wrote in The Grand Chessboard,

published in 1997 (http://www.takeoverworld.info/Grand_Chessboard.pdf): “Eurasia is the chessboard on which the struggle for global primacy continues to be played.” China’s New Silk Road strategy certainly integrates the importance of Eurasia but it also neutralizes the US pivot to Asia by enveloping it in a move which is broader both in space and in time: an approach inspired by the intelligence of Weiqi has outwitted the calculation of a chess player.”
“The chronicle by Japanese writer Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1972) of an intense intellectual duel, translated in English as The Master of Go,

contributed to the popularity of the game in the West, but Weiqi is a product of the Chinese civilization and spread over time in the educated circles of Northeast Asia. Kawabata, who viewed the Master as one of his favorite creations, knew that for China the game of “abundant spiritual powers encompassed the principles of nature and the universe of human life,” and that the Chinese had named it “the diversion of the immortals.”
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html)

Several years ago I contrasted the number of players in the US Chess Open with the number of players in the US Go Congress, posting the findings on the United States Chess Federation forum, and was excoriated for so doing, except for one person, Michael Mulford, who put the nattering nabobs of negativism to shame by congratulating me for “good work.” Basically, the numbers showed Chess losing players while Go had gained enough to have caught up with, and surpassed, Chess. It has continued to the point that if one thinks of it as a graph, with Chess in the top left hand corner; and Go in the bottom left hand corner, an “X” would appear.

I have spent some time recently cogitating about why this has come to pass. Certainly world Chess (FIDE) being administered as a criminal enterprise for at least a quarter of a century has not helped the cause of the Royal game. It has not helped that members of the USCF policy board have stated things like it being better to work within a corrupt system than to leave the corrupt system. See my post, Scott Parker Versus Allen Priest, of November 29, 2017 (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=alan+priest)

Now that the bank account of FIDE, the world governing body of Chess, has been closed I do not foresee anything but further decline for the game of Chess. IM Malcolm Pein,

Mr. Everything tin British Chess, commented for Chessdom, “The statement from the FIDE Treasurer was alarming to say the least, but not totally unexpected. As the statement said, we had been warned. All legal means should be used to remove Ilyumzhinov

from office as soon as possible. Taking away his executive authority has not been good enough for the bank and FIDE will experience difficulty finding another institution to handle it’s accounts and this threatens the viability of the organisation. ((http://www.chessdom.com/trouble-for-chess-as-swiss-bank-account-closed/))

Although both Weiqi (Go in America) and Chess are board games there are major differences between the two. The following encapsulates the drastic difference between the two games:

R. Saxon, Member of a GO club in Tokyo (3k). USCF B rated at chess
Updated Mar 14 2017

From my experience, GO players are far friendlier and more polite than Chess players, who are prone to both trash talk and to gloating after a win. This is especially true for club players and younger players. Chess players may engage in gamesmanship to psych out their opponent. I’ve known quite a few superb Chess players that were real nut cases. More than just a few, actually.

That has not been my experience with GO players. GO players are almost always successful and well-adjusted outside of GO. GO players are willing to say with sincerity that they enjoyed a game that they just lost. I don’t recall a Chess player ever being so gracious.

The nature of the game is a good indicator of the personality of the players that like them. Chess is an attacking game in which you try to control the center. It’s very direct and may be over quickly if a player makes a mistake. The idea of a “Checkmate” is like a home run or a touchdown. It’s a sudden and dramatic moment that appeals to a particular type of person.

Chess appeals to people who like to attack and who savor the win over the process.

GO, on the hand, is a slower game which starts at the corners and edges and only gradually moves to the center. It’s extremely complicated, but in a subtle way. GO strategy is indirect. It’s a game of influence and efficiency more than a game of capture. The best players are those that know how to sacrifice pieces for territory elsewhere or to take the initiative. Making tradeoffs are key. There’s usually no “checkmate” type moment or fast victory.

GO is a game of patience and position. It appeals to very bright people who don’t expect to win quickly but who are willing to earn success one small step at a time. GO players enjoy the process as much as the win.
(https://www.quora.com/What-do-chess-players-think-of-Go-and-Go-players)

There are many Chess players involved with Go. Natasha Regan,

a Woman Chess International Master who has represented the English women’s team at both Chess and Go, says: “When I learnt Go I was fascinated. It has a similar mix of strategy and tactics that you find in Chess and, with just a few simple rules, Go uncovers a whole new world of possibilities and creativity. Chess players may also find that they can use their Chess experience to improve in Go very quickly. I highly recommend learning this ancient but ever new game!” (https://www.britgo.org/learners/chessgo.html)

Consider, for example, this by Mike Klein: “Many cultures have nationally popular strategy games, but rarely do top chess players “cross the streams” and take other games seriously. That is not the case with GMs Tiger Hillarp Persson and Alexander Morozevich,

who long ago claimed the top title in chess, and who both now take go somewhat seriously.” (https://www.chess.com/news/view/chess-go-chess-go-morozevich-beats-tiger-in-dizzying-match-2272) Check out Tiger’s website and you will see annotated Go games along with Chess games (https://tiger.bagofcats.net/). Chess Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich

plays in Go tournaments,

and holds Go classes.

(https://chess24.com/en/read/news/morozevich-on-go-computers-and-cheating)

AlphaGo has done for the game of Go in America what Bobby Fischer did for the game of Chess when he defeated the World Chess Champion, Boris Spassky, in 1972.

The number of people playing Go has increased dramatically in the past few years. After the world-wide release of a new movie about Go, The Surrounding Game,

the number of people playing Go will increase exponentially. In a very short period of time the game of Go will be unrivaled, leaving all other board games in its wake.

Sometime around 1980 a place named Gammons opened in the Peachtree Piedmont shopping center located in the section of Atlanta called Buckhead, the “high-end” district of Atlanta. In was a restaurant/bar, which contained tables with inlaid Backgammon boards.

I quit my job at a bookstore and began punching the proverbial time clock at Gammons, which closed at four am. The Backgammon craze burned brightly for a short period of time, as do most fads, such as putt-putt. Few remember the time when putt-putt was so popular it was on television, and the professional putters earned as much, if not more, that professional golfers.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/24/magazine/putting-for-the-fences.html)

Although quite popular for centuries, Chess lost its luster after the human World Chess Champion, Garry Kasparov, was defeated by a computer program known as Deep Blue,

a product of the IBM corporation. The defeat by AlphaGo, a computer program from Google’s Deep Mind project, of first Lee Sedol,

one of the all-time great Go players, and then Ke Jie,

currently the top human Go player in the world, has, unlike Chess, been a tremendous boon for the ancient game of Go, which is riding a crest of popularity, while interest in Chess has waned.

I have wondered about the situation in the world considering the rise of China and the decline of the USA.

For example, consider these headlines:

China’s Rise, America’s Fall by Tyler Durden (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-10-25/chinas-rise-americas-fall)

China’s rise didn’t have to mean America’s fall. Then came Trump. By Zachary Karabell(https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/15/chinas-rise-didnt-have-to-mean-americas-fall-then-came-trump/?utm_term=.59f66290ffff)

Is China’s Rise America’s Fall? by Glenn Luk (https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/03/is-chinas-rise-americas-fall/#41bd7a0d1e5f)

Also to be considered is the stark difference between the two games. It could be that the people of the planet are moving away from the brutal, war like, mindset of a war like game such as Chess and toward a more cerebral game such as Go.

“While in chess or in Chinese chess (xiangqi)


http://georgiachessnews.com/2018/01/09/why-you-need-to-learn-xiangqi-for-playing-better-chess/

the pieces with a certain preordained constraint of movement are on the board when the game begins, the grid is empty at the opening of the Weiqi game. During a chess game, one subtracts pieces; in Weiqi, one adds stones to the surface of the board. In the Classic of Weiqi, the author remarks that “since ancient times, one has never seen two identical Weiqi games.”

“In Written in a Dream, the polymath and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072), a magister ludi, captures the depth and mystery of Weiqi: “The Weiqi game comes to an end, one is unaware that in the meantime the world has changed.”
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-gosset/weiqi-versus-chess_b_6974686.html

IM Colin Crouch on The So – Rich – Akobian dispute

The news was announced on the English Chess Forum by Nevil Chan, Sat Apr 18, 2015 8:34 am:

“Harrow Chess Club deeply regret to announce that Colin Crouch has passed away. Colin was 58 years old and a member of the club since 1970.” (http://www.ecforum.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=7336)

Dr. Crouch was Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick; External Scientific Member, Max-Planck-Institut für Gesellschaftsforschung, Cologne. (http://www.britac.ac.uk/fellowship/elections/index.cfm?member=4526)

His Principal publications were:
Making Capitalism Fit for Society, 2013
The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism, 2011
Capitalist Diversity and Change, 2005
Post-Democracy, 2004
Social Change in Western Europe, 1999
Industrial Relations and European State Traditions, 1993

IM Crouch published a chess book, one of many, How to Defend in Chess, in 2007. It became one of my favorite chess books. “Many books discuss how to attack in chess, but resourceful defensive play is also a vital ingredient in competitive success. This is an area largely neglected in the literature of the game. This book fills the gap admirably. Following a survey of general defensive methods in chess, Dr Colin Crouch investigates the techniques of World Champions Emanuel Lasker and Tigran Petrosian, both highly effective defenders. Lasker would place myriad practical obstacles in the opponent’s way, and was a master of the counterattack. Petrosian developed Nimzowitsch’s theories of prophylaxis to a new level. His opponents would find that somehow their attacking chances had been nullified long before they could become reality.” (http://www.amazon.com/How-Defend-Chess-Colin-Crouch/dp/1904600832/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1429714416&sr=1-1&keywords=colin+crouch+chess)

I enjoyed the blog written by IM Colin Crouch. This is an excerpt from his last post:

The So – Rich – Akobian dispute

“Sadly, the news at St Louis dominates all discussion in the US Championships. The forfeit of Wesley So’s game against Varuzhan Akobian is deeply controversial, and no doubt will have long term implications.

The situation was, at its most basic, that Akobian had made a complaint against So, after move 6. There was no indication that there was any cheating by So, of, for example, using the computer of finding the very best moves in a particular position (the main reason for barring electronic devices).

What then was Akobian complaining about? The answer was that he had been scribbling a few notes, while the game was being started, mainly as motivation techniques. It was along the lines of thinking before you make a move, slow down, don’t hurry. It is more a case of getting more relaxed, for what is likely to be a tense game.

I have heard recently of this type of technique, used in political speaking. At a recent Seven-ways Leader debate (hes, these days there were seven parties, plus minor groupings), just before the British General Election, there were notes placed before the podium, for many of the leaders. With seven players battling it out, there were never going to be long set-piece speeches. It was much more the case of the speakers having written down in advance something like, calm down, don’t get wound up, that sort of thing. It does not even involve the speakers having written notes, and loads of statistical facts and figures o be wheeled out. That would have caused unconvincing lack of spontaneity.

It is in many ways what Wesley So has been doing in the last few months, and maybe before. Maybe it can be claimed that what he was doing was technically in breach of the chess laws, although it is, it can be regarded, as only a slight technically breach. Presumably something will need to be clarified at some later FIDE congress. Again though, such a writing down in such notes is, it seems, acceptable in politics, and in other fields. Is there is no totally clear rule that this should be forbidden during a game of chess? And what happens if, for example a couple of players agree to meet up for a meal after the game, and write down where they should meet up at a restaurant?

The simple point is that unless there is absolute clarity in the regulations, there should be no reason for a player being given the drastic punishment of a loss – after six moves of play!

Akobian claimed that he was distracted by So’s play. Really? It is surely much more of a question of how much Wesley So was distracted by Akobin’s play, and in particular in trying to make a formal complaint. It is of course just about possible that Akobian had only made a casual note to the chief arbiter, and that the Chief Arbiter, Tony Rich jumped the gun. I do not know, and without much clearer information, I cannot be certain.

My suspicions are however that Akobian was at least as guilty as distracting So, than So is of distracting Akobian. It is an unfortunate aspects of chess that one way of “cheating” is by accusing the opponent of cheating. Akobian was clearly able to take full advantage of Tony Rich’s actions. Even so, without 100% knowledge of what was going on, I am reluctant to say whether this was what in fact happened.

The next question is how Tony Rich handled things. We must too remember that unfortunately he would have had his clashes with chess authority. We was, for example, not given the expected payment for his contributions for Chess for the Philippines, in a bib Asian sports event, as the excuse was made that chess does not count. He moved to the USA, but it took time to play for the team in the Olympiad in Tromso, while various players originally from Ukraine were given the chance to change qualifications to Russia almost instantly. Where is the justice in that? I do not want to attempt to write about what was happening during his time at St Louis. There were some complications. He did not however complete his university degree there, which is totally understandable, as, unlike the vast majority of even top grandmasters, he is capable of playing at fully equal terms against Carlsen, given time. He also had problems with his mother, on his future in chess and study. There was an unexpected encounter with her at the beginning of the US Championship.

My instincts here is that quite probably he felt that he was being hassled by Tony Rich, and his continuous complaints that Wesley was doing such-and-such a thing, and that quite simply he merely wanted to play chess, concentrate on chess, and try to become the top player from the USA. He could easily be thinking that why does this arbiter keep whinging? It is not as if he is a strong player anyway.

There is an indication that probably Tony Rich is not quite as clued up as one would like. To make things easier, it is simplest that when strong players, including super-strong players, are under the control of the arbiters, the convention is that the arbiters have full knowledge and understanding of what is going on, during the game, and elsewhere in the tournament and surrounds. It is only when suspicions arise, that players have doubts about the arbiters.

A final point. I would hope that the game between Akobian and So is to be expunged from the points gained and lost in their game. Akobian did not win any points through his superior chess knowledge.” (http://crouchnotes.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-so-rich-akobian-hispute.html)

Does Playing Chess Make You Smarter?

D. Zachary Hambrick is a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Michigan State University. He received his Bachelors from Methodist College, Fayetteville, NC 1994; Masters at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 1997; and became a Ph.D. at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 2000, where I became acquainted with him by taking part in studies which led to his earning his Ph.D. Because of the kinds of things he studies I sought his answer to the question of what, exactly, is the state of knowledge pertaining to whether or not learning, and playing, chess can enhance intelligence. Zach emailed me a copy of Educational benefits of chess instruction: A critical review, by Fernand Gobet & Guillermo Campitelli, of University of Nottingham, which, unlike many other studies, can be found online. This study is considered by those in the academic world to be the “last word.”

The introduction begins, “Chess playing makes kids smarter.” “Chess increases mathematical abilities.” “Chess improves academic performance.” Numerous similar claims have been made about the efficacy of using chess to foster education.”

That it has…It used to be that chess was considered to be a lifetime “sport.” Now when a Chinese GM reaches the ripe old age of thirty he is forced to retire and become a “trainer,” or “coach.” The players have become ever younger, and now one sees a picture of the latest four year old “prodigy” at Chessbase. Check out, Moscow Open: The four-year-old veteran by by Albert Silver. (http://en.chessbase.com/post/moscow-open-the-four-year-old-veteran) The chess world is doing the age limbo; how low can it go?

The introduction continues, “Indeed, schools in various countries (e.g., USA, France, Argentina) offer chess as an optional subject, and some even propose compulsory classes. There is clearly a strong interest worldwide in the potential advantages of chess in education, and the conference from which this book stems is just another example of this interest. Implicit in all these activities is the belief that skills acquired playing chess can transfer to other domains. Is this belief based on well-substantiated evidence? Is the educational value of chess a well-established empirical fact? Or have chess players been blinded by their love of the game into thinking that it offers instructional advantages? In this chapter, we attempt, as objectively as possible, to tackle the question of whether chess is advantageous for general education. To do so, we subject research into the educational benefits of chess to the same rigorous criteria commonly used in academia for evaluating educational research.”

They begin with The question of transfer.

“The question addressed in this chapter can be summarized as follows: Can a set of skills acquired in a specific domain (in our case, chess) generalize to other domains (e.g., mathematics, reading) or to general abilities (e.g., reasoning, memory)?”

The question is simple enough. People have pondered the question for centuries. A well known and popular NM here in Georgia, a former State Champion, and Georgia State Senior Champion, and the only player to hold both titles simultaneously, the sui generis David Vest, has stated that the President of the Georgia Chess Association, Dr. Fun Fong, “is proof positive that expertise in one area does not translate into expertise in another area.” I wholeheartedly concur with his astute assessment of the situation in regard to the POTGCA. He may be a fine emergency room doctor at Emory University, but as POTGCA he leaves a great deal to be desired.

The authors continue, “This is an old question, which, for a long time, was answered positively; for example, for centuries, it was accepted without dispute that learning Latin or geometry would train the mind and prepare it to cope with other topics. However, when, for the first time at the beginning of the 20th century, the question was studied scientifically, the conclusions were rather different.”

Inquiring minds want to know, and not just accept that which is offered. The more highly educated the people the more questions asked, and the generations after the second world war are the most highly educated in history. There are more inquiring minds than ever before in the history of mankind. So when, for example, there are constant problems with the organization of the GCA; when there are problems with every tournament organized by the GCA; and when members of the GCA board resign and there is no accountability by the President of the GCA, who continues to stonewall in the same way as did US President Richard Nixon during what came to be known as “Watergate,” people begin to question. The two members who resigned have not answered my email entreaties and have chosen to remain silent. This has caused rumors of things like financial malfeasance, illegal stipends paid out, and hush money, to run rampant.

The paper continues, “A different view of transfer emerges from the psychological study of intelligence. Researchers in this field believe that one or a few transferable abilities form the basis of intelligence. These abilities are seen as general, at least within verbal or visuo-spatial domains, and are supposed to apply to a variety of domains (see Sternberg, 2000, for an overview). However, these basic abilities are also seen as innate, and thus not amenable to improvement through practice.”

“In spite of these disagreements about the nature of transfer, some results are clear. In particular, recent research into expertise has clearly indicated that, the higher the level of expertise in a domain, the more limited the transfer will be (Ericsson & Charness, 1994). Moreover, reaching a high level of skill in domains such as chess, music or mathematics requires large amounts of practice to acquire the domain specific knowledge which determines expert performance. Inevitably, the time spent in developing such skills will impair the acquisition of other skills.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Fortunately for Dr. Fong, he has already developed the skills needed to become a ER Doctor. The Georgia chess community can only hope the Doctor decides the time he is spending on chess will impair the acquisition of other skills he may need to become even better at his day job and leave the administration of chess in Georgia to those who have a clue as to what to do.