End The Candidates Tournament Now!

The FIDE Candidates tournament should never have been started. The tournament was begun because Russian dictator Vladimir Putin craves attention in a way only superseded by POTUS Donald John Trump.

https://cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/180717132942-02-trump-putin-summit-0716-opinion-exlarge-169.jpg

Why is it Putin is invariably the only one smiling in pictures taken with Trump?

The Russians cheat at everything they attempt. Because of Russian interference in the previous Presidential election, Hillary Clinton

https://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Hillary+Clinton+yn8UZVJ7oV2m.jpg

was cheated out of becoming POTUS. Everyone other than the thirty something percent of people who support the obviously deranged Trump knows this fact, including the Hitlerian thirty something percent of deranged people who support any clown foisted on them by the Republican party.

The Russians have been banned from participating in the Olympic games in the coming years for cheating. This was a terrible for the ego of Vlad the Impaler because without attention he is nothing. Other than petrol and Chess Russia has nothing. Vlad the Impaler has previously said, “Chess is our Baseball.” Putin would like nothing better than for a Russian to face World Human Chess Co-Champion of Classical Chess Magnus Carlsen.

https://i.pinimg.com/236x/27/a8/8a/27a88adda64a1d4875d7d3cf2cc4d114.jpg

Two of the players, one quarter of the players, currently participating in the 2020 Candidates tournament were not eligible to participate. Kirill Alekseenko,

https://chess24.com/en/read/news/alekseenko-the-candidates-wild-card-should-be-abolished

a Russian, and by far the lowest rated player in the tournament, was a “wild card.” This was, and is, ridiculous to the point of absurdity because the Candidates tournament is played to choose a challenger for the title of World Human Chess Champion. The tournament is far too prestigious to have some local yokel battling against the very best Chess players in the world who have devoted their lives to the game and who have earned entry to the tournament with that hard work over the course of many years.

Maxime Vachier-Lagrave,

https://www.mvlchess.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/mvl-1.jpg

from France, was chosen to replace the only sane Chess player involved with the ill-fated Candidates, Teimur Radjabov,

https://thumb.tildacdn.com/tild3836-3335-4465-b537-626162323965/-/contain/760x500/center/center/-/format/webp/11_Tata2019_PHC00098.JPG

from Azerbaijan, who declined to travel to Russia because of the COVID-19 virus. The tournament should have been called off at that moment. If the Chess community felt strongly enough to hold the tournament, then certainly the young player Alekseenko should have been dropped, leaving six players who did qualify to play. But why would Putin agree to such an outcome when having an extra Russian player with no chance of winning the event to possibly take orders, directly from Vlad the Impaler, to intentionally lose to whomever Putin desired? As Chess player Oscar Al Hamilton was fond of saying, “Everything is rigged.” History shows us that is certainly true of Russia.

The tournament continues even with players saying things like this:

“Referring to the worldwide crisis we are going through, Caruana expressed his doubts as to whether he will be able to return to the United States by the time the tournament is over, while Giri is putting all his hopes on the International Chess Federation:

I have faith in a private jet of FIDE, that will fly all players to their houses.

This was certainly the least exciting game of the round. Grischuk did get a little pressure with White, but Ding played it safe once he realized he could get in trouble. After the game, the players were asked about their form. The Coronavirus crisis had a strong impact on Grischuk:

My form is terrible. I don’t want to play at all with all this situation. I mean, when it was beginning I did not have a big opinion, but now for several days I have a very clear opinion: that the tournament should be stopped. I mean, the whole atmosphere is very hostile.

Ding, on the other hand, is enjoying having made an adjustment to his living conditions in Yekaterinburg:

My form is much better comparing to the first two days. Since I moved to a new hotel, I got some fresh air and life became more beautiful.”

https://en.chessbase.com/post/candidates-2020-r5

Anyone who “…has faith in FIDE…” is a fool. Just because Anish Giri

is one of the best human Chess players on the planet does not mean he is intelligent in other facets of life.

How can Fabiano Caruana

https://en.chessbase.com/Portals/all/thumbs/086/86486.jpeg

concentrate on playing Chess when he has “…expressed his doubts as to whether he will be able to return to the United States by the time the tournament is over?” The United States government should send a plane IMMEDIATELY to bring Fabi home! If that is not possible how about the billionaire, who must be losing money as fast as a crazed gambler in Las Vegas, Rex Sinquefield,

https://static.politico.com/dims4/default/fb9ec96/2147483647/resize/1160x/quality/90/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fs3-origin-images.politico.com%2F2014%2F06%2F20%2F140620_fang_rex_proechel.jpg

sending a plane to Russia to save Caruana. Mr. Sinquefield could possibly pull some strings with other people from the super-wealthy class to make it happen. We are perilously close to a time like the Russian revolution of a century ago with Doctor Zhivago having to share his family mansion with the hoi poi.

Fabiano Caruana deserves a rematch with World Human Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen. I call upon Rex Sinquefield to organize a match between the two Co-Classical World Human Chess Champions, as Magnus Carlsen stated, played in the opulent St. Louis Chess Club,

https://s3-media0.fl.yelpcdn.com/bphoto/K0npFO8B2KuaxaHGF9xPCw/o.jpg

in the future, if we make it out of these dire times, played OUTSIDE OF FIDE auspices. The match could be of sixteen games, the number, if memory serves, chosen by former World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik,

who ought to know as he played more matches for the World Chess Championship than any other player, I believe. If tied at the end of regulation then two game mini-matches could be played until there is a winner. Only Mr. Sinquefield could do this because there would be no obstacle to having a match that goes into overtime if held in St. Louis.

We are in the early days of a revolution. Chess will having little meaning in the aftermath of the virus that is changing the world. No matter how this plays out things will NEVER be the same. Certainly Chess will never return to even the weakened status currently held in society. Chess, like other games and sports, will take a back seat to SURVIVAL.

Much was expected of Ding Liren before the tournament but he was forced into isolation because of the COVID-19 virus. That in itself should have been enough for at least a postponement of the 2020 Candidates tournament. Ding said, “My form is much better comparing to the first two days. Since I moved to a new hotel, I got some fresh air and life became more beautiful.” Consider this when considering what isolation has already done to this person:

Man falls to his death from 16th floor of luxury flats during coronavirus isolation

By Andrew Gilpin

22 MAR 2020

A man has fallen to his death from the 16th floor of a luxury apartment block as people self isolate due to coronavirus.

The horror incident in the Tribeca Park apartment block in New York saw him die instantly when he hit the courtyard.

Shocked neighbours said the 64-year-old’s death has left them shaken as they are in quarantine from the deadly disease.

One woman saw what happened when we she went outside to smoke a cigarette told the New York Post: “You have to be mentally strong to take on isolation.

“The uncertainty of what’s going to happen is scary.”

https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/world-news/man-falls-death-16th-floor-21735275

How can any human play Chess when “The uncertainty of what’s going to happen is scary.”

Where is the outrage from the American Chess community? Surf on over to the USCF website and try finding one word from any leader of US Chess concerning the sordid situation in which We The People find ourselves. I have gone to many Chess website, such as Chessbase, Chess.com, and Chess24, in a futile attempt to read the thoughts of any person in authority. The silence is deafening.

I have expected little from the current leadership of the USCF and have rarely been disappointed. That said, I now call on the Chess community to get “up in arms,” metaphorically speaking, and SPEAK OUT. Now is not the time to remain silent, people.

Like Mrs. Robinson, the world turns it’s lonely eyes to you. (https://genius.com/Simon-and-garfunkel-mrs-robinson-lyrics)

END THE CANDIDATES TOURNAMENT NOW!

 

With A Little Feedback From My Friends

Upon opening my email this morning I noticed a comment had been left regarding an earlier post, Chess Segregation, published October 13, 2019. (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/10/13/chess-segregation/) After reading the comment by David Quinn I approved what he had to say, then continued surfing…but I continued thinking about David’s comment. I had forgotten exactly when the aforementioned post was published so I went back and found it, learning it had been published some months ago. I then decided to publish his entire comment on the blog:

David Quinn says:
January 14, 2020 at 2:08 am

I tried to tell USCF that a male member (no pun intended) is just as worthy as a female member, and we should be trying to recruit chessplayers without regard for the gender stuff. That view was ignored of course. And FIDE is even worse than USCF in its pretense that restricted women’s chess is as good as just plain chess.

I remember chatting with the late John Peters, several time US champion who never quite got the GM title. I guess the title was harder to get then. We were playing in a “futurity” event at Lina Grumette’s house, where I was invited as an up and comer who had recently made expert, and the US women’s champion Diane Savereide who was a low master was also playing, as was John. I had just beaten her by exploiting what I had noticed, that her play has no patience. So I got a small durable positional edge and just sat and basically let her self-destruct. John knew her well because he was the guy the USCF paid to coach her. (I never got a chess coach, let alone one provided by USCF!). I was chatting with John out on the front lawn. I think he had just beaten me, although I had an advantage into the early middle game before learning why he was a strong IM and I wasn’t. I asked him if Diane, the perennial US women’s champion, was really talented, because it didn’t seem like it to me. He said no. This confirmed my suspicions about chess politics, and how even a US champion had to bow to it to earn a living, and so I just decided to make master and quit, which I did a year or two later. Fortunately I had a real source of income.

It must, however, be noted that women’s chess can attract larger crowds to watch their 24 and 2500 players, than men’s chess does for its 27 and 2800 players. Personally I like chess, and I like women, but I don’t really care if they coincide in the same person.

The day the Chess Segregation was published I received a succinct email from GM Kevin Spraggett:

From: Kevin Spraggett
To: Michael Bacon

Oct 13, 2019 at 7:06 PM

Great article, Michael! Deeply researched. I will study it more carefully.

No doubt you will be criticized for telling some unpleasant truths and asking some uncomfortable questions.

Have a good evening!

Grandmaster Spraggett’s wonderful blog, one of the best, if not the best, Chess blogs being published, can be found here:

https://www.spraggettonchess.com/

 

 

 

 

 

GM Igor Rausis says “Chess is a disease”

The post dated July 13, 2019, GM Igors Rausis Caught With The Toilet Seat Down, (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2019/07/12/grandmaster-igors-rausis-caught-cheating/) went viral. The number of viewers was the most, by far, of any previous post on the AW blog. Tens of thousands of people all over the world viewed the post in numbers that dwarfed any other post. The number of viewers is given each day and there is a map of the world in which the number of viewers is color coded. The world map lit up like a Christmas tree, with viewers from almost every country on the planet. This continued for a few days until dropping back to what was previously considered “normal.” Because of the huge daily numbers for those days what was formerly considered a “normal” day is now seen as a tiny blip on the graph of viewers. From this it is more than a little obvious people interested in the Royal game are very interested in the ever increasing problem of cheating in Chess.

I had not intended on writing anything else on cheating but a recent interview with GM Igor Rausis has caused me to have second thoughts about posting anything concerning the confessed cheater. Chessbase published, Igors Rausis: How to quit chess in one move By Andris Tihomirovs, yesterday, August 23, 2019, which was read this morning. (https://en.chessbase.com/post/how-to-quit-chess-in-one-move) The article was, “Originally published in SestDiena magazine, July 26, 2019.” I clicked onto the link (https://www.diena.lv/raksts/sestdiena/tuvplana/ka-ar-ravienu-tikt-prom-no-saha.-saruna-ar-igoru-rausi-14223781) finding it in need of translation, so I headed to Google translate only to learn only the heading could be translated but one cannot cut & paste the article. This is what could be translated:

How to Get Away from Chess A conversation with Igor Rausis

A photo of a chess player in a restroom using his mobile phone during a game

broke a long-standing storm not only among fans of the sport, but also for those who have a simple black and white picture of chess. Chess grandmaster Igor Rausis, who has been trapped in a fraud, says it was his chance to get away from the chess world with a twist.

What follows is part of the translation from the aforementioned Chessbase article:

Has anyone else been accused or suspected of cheating in chess?

Lots. Unfortunately, lots. I don’t want to talk about the others. I don’t want to name any specific surnames. I don’t know why people came up with this idea of making phone apps for chess. It all started with that.

They’ve been around for a long time.

But why? What’s the point?

To play. To analyse. I play on the tram.

But they didn’t think about the consequences. Well, there are a lot of sick people in the world. Previously, this sickness didn’t exist. Gaming mania. Unfortunately, it’s a contemporary illness.

Like casino?

That’s different, because a person goes to the casino and leaves money behind. It’s like drugs.

What exactly? Chess?

Gaming. And the world supports this, because somebody’s earning money from his. (It is possible the word “his” should be “this.” It is printed exactly as found at Chessbase.)

Beyond phones, is chess a sickness?

Chess players never talk about it, because chess fans like other words — like chess is art. Maybe it partially applies to those who compile compositions [chess problems].

So is chess a disease?

In a manner of speaking. A great pyramid has been built. I can now say something controversial aimed at the functionaries.

THE THREAT IS STRONGER THAN ITS EXECUTION!

If Chess is to survive it MUST change in order to adapt to the current circumstances. Over a decade ago I wrote about the need for Chess to adapt but money was flowing into Chess thanks to billionaire bullies with more money than sense, so who wanted to be the first to rock the boat? (I use the term “billionaire bullies” because of people like the Koch bros, etc., and other extremely wealthy people who donate money to political candidates who would obviously be more comfortable in a Nazi-type party than any political party consisting of We The People) At a recent Chess tournament in Atlanta someone mentioned Daniel Lucas,

formerly editor of Georgia Chess before becoming editor of Chess Life magazine. There was laughter upon my mentioning I thought Daniel was still editor of Chess Life. “Because USCF is now awash in Sinquebucks there have been many changes at USCF, Bacon,” said someone who will remain nameless. “Now Daniel’s WIFE is the editor and he has been given a new title of, Senior Director of Strategic Communication for the United States Chess Federation.”

“What does that mean, exactly?” I asked. “I mean, wouldn’t simply Director of Communication have sufficed? Is there a “Junior Director of Strategic Communication?” After more laughter I asked, “What, exactly, is ‘Strategic Communication’ and how does it differ from just plain Communication?” After the uproarious laughter abated someone said, “They just pull those kind of names out of their ass.” This brought the house down, so to speak.

In a capitalist economy it is said, “He who has the money makes the rules.” It is no secret Rex Sinquefield wants much shorter time controls for the Royal game. It has become apparent how little it matters what he, on any other wealthy patron of Chess wants, because now, for the game of Chess to survive, it MUST limit a game to one sitting, with no player allowed to leave the room.

On the very popular, and famous, television show, House, the character of Doctor House

was famous for saying, “Everyone lies.” The way Chess is currently played I can say, “Everyone cheats,” and who will argue? It is too easy to cheat so it is happening in every section by players of all ages. Some years ago at a tournament in Atlanta a player was caught cheating and his response was, “Everyone else is doing it, so I must do it too.” At another tournament, at Emory University some years ago, everyone but the TDs was talking about a group of young boys who would simply leave the playing hall heading for the seats of the cafeteria where they would check out a cell phone in plain sight. Why go to the lavatory when one can sit in the comfort of the cafeteria?

There are signs everywhere pointing to the death of Chess. The recently concluded US Open Chess tournament managed to draw only three hundred plus players. Before a recent round of the Sinquefield Cup Chess tournament in St. Louis, Maurice Asheley talked about the myriad draws in the tournament thus far, contrasting the mostly draw “classical” Chess tourney with a recent “rapid” tournament round in which six of the ten games were decisive. Is the Royal game as it is played by the best Chess players “played out?” How many people will be interested in Chess if it must devolve to “Blunder Fest Chess” to survive?

American Chess Magazine #11: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

When the first issue of the American Chess Magazine debuted I mentioned something about it being expensive, writing the price of the magazine, twenty five dollars, was as much as a book. My intention was to read, and then review, the first issue. After contacting someone at the ACM about receiving a review copy I was informed it would only be possible to receive the first copy if I anted up twenty five dollars, for which I would receive the first two issues. I turned down the “offer.”

It was only a few months ago upon returning to the Atlanta area that I got a chance to peruse past issues, which were wonderful. The new issue, issue #11, the second issue of 2019,

was the second issue after increasing from four issues to six issues per year. The new US Women’s Chess Champion, Jennifer Yu, graces the cover, surrounded by a pink background. This is my review.

I will be completely honest and say that before taking the magazine out of the plastic wrap I was hooked, and not because of the picture of a very pretty young lady on the cover, although I can see what a wonderful hook is Jennifer Yu!

It is a shame the ACM is not sold at book stores or newspaper and magazine stands because the cover would attract much interest. This on the cover is what “hooked” me:

American Civil War
A Dying Southern Diarist
Theodore P. Savas

I read the article immediately before even scanning the magazine and it brought tears to my eyes. I was born in the back seat of a ’49 Ford convertible on the way to Emory University Hospital in Decatur, Georgia, which means I was born a Southerner, as is often heard in the South, “By the grace of God.” The diarist, “Leroy Wiley Gresham, was born in 1847 to an affluent family in Macon, Georgia.” His mother’s name, Mary, was the same as my Mother’s name. The title of the article is, An Elegant Game: The American Civil War, a Dying Southern Diarist, and a Fascination with Chess. Leroy Wiley Gresham wrote his diary during the War of Northern Aggression, while he was dying. It is an elegant piece. I could end the review now and give it five stars, but there is more, much more, contained in this elegant issue!

Although I have read extensively about the War Between the States during the course of my life, it has been some time since I have read a book on the subject. This will be remedied when the book upon which the article is based, The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of Leroy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1864, edited by Janet Kroon, which I have ordered, arrives.

The focus of the magazine is the most recent US Chess Championships. The annotations of the final round game are by the loser, Jeffery Xiong,

Isle of Man Chess International, Round 5, 24 October 2018. Photo by John Saunders

and they are excellent! For example, look at this position:

Jeffery writes, “21. Qb1 Preventing any …a4xb3 and Ra8-a2 ideas. But 21 Rfe1, quickly preparing Nf1-d2 and e2-e4, might have been more to the point.” Some annotators provide Lubomir Ftacnik

style reams of analysis when all that is needed is something simple. At the conclusion of the game Jeffery writes, “It was as clean a win as you can get with the black pieces. The opening experiment proved to be golden as my inexperience in this type of position was revealed to its fullest extent. Nakamura

played truly inspiring chess, especially with the black pieces, and his will to win in this game made him the deserved champion. He has amply demonstrated his greatness, being one of the perennial top-10 players in the world. Any player can win games, but at top level only great players are capable of consistently winning must-win games!”

GM Jeffery Xiong has shown his class as a gentleman with what he has written about what must have been a tough game to lose.

The honesty continues when Xiong annotates his win with the black pieces against the now dethroned US Chess Champion, Sam Shankland,


https://www.milibrary.org/chess-newsletters/872

when Jeffery writes at the end of the game, “At first I was quite pleased with my play as I felt I had found some nice ideas. However after heading back to my hotel room and opening ChessBomb, I saw a sea of red moves! Nonetheless, I was now leading the tournament with 2 1/2/3, yet fully aware that the quality of my play was not entirely satisfactory.”

This is amazingly honest writing.

A few pages further into the magazine one turns the page to see a beautiful picture of the new US Women’s Champion, Jennifer Yu, sitting at a Chessboard behind the black pieces while flashing a gorgeous smile. The title above reads, Lady With A Torch, which is appropriate because Jennifer torched the field this year! One reads, “Exclusive annotations and an interview by WGM Jennifer Yu.” The following page contains the game between former many time Women’s Champion Irina Krush,

playing white, and Jennifer, which happens to be an opening I have played, the B13 Caro-Kann, which begins 1 c4 c6 2 e4 d5 3 exd5 cxd5 4 d4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 Be6. While visiting the Nashville Chess Center (http://www.nashvillechess.org/content.aspx?page_id=0&club_id=164844) earlier this decade FM Todd Andrews,

the Music City Master, gave a lecture which happened to be this very variation. After 7 a3 Qd7 Jennifer writes, “Not 7…dxc4?, when after 8 Bxf6! exf6 9 d5 Black loses a piece.” I recall raising my hand during the early part of Todd’s lecture asking about the early move c5 for White. Todd was nice enough to illustrate what was behind the move c5 for the audience, while letting me know in a nice way it was a lecture, not a Q&A. The game continued, 8 Be2 Rd8 9 Bxf6 exf6 10 c5. Ms. Yu writes, “Although a general principle of chess is to maintain tension in the center during the opening, this is a good move that prevents any…dxc4 tricks. It locks up the center and challenges the wisdom of my piece placement, making the bishop on e6 and the rook on d8 look silly, since these pieces no longer have any prospects against c4 and d4. 10 Bf3 doesn’t work because after 10…dxc4 11 d5 Qe7! the threat to the white king, as well as the pin on the white d-pawn, provides the black knight and bishop with immunity against the fork.” The annotations are exceptional.

I could go on and on, but this is a blog post. Still, I must mention an article by GM Alex Fishbein,

Secrets Of Same-Color Bishop Endings, which is superlative! And then there is the wonderful article, Beauties of Underpromotion, by IM Boroljub Zlatanovic, which was enjoyed immensely!

Unfortunately, not everything included in the magazine is rosy. Fresh Leaves from the Bookshelf is the title of the book review column by FM Carsten Hansen.

In this issue the FM has “reviewed,” and I use the word rather loosely, ten books. As he did in the previous issue Mr. Hansen reviewed ten books for the ACM. Beginning with the previous issue the ACM went from being published quarterly to bi-monthly. It may have been possible to review ten books quarterly, but how is it possible for anyone to read ten Chess books every other month? The answer is contained in the review of Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi,

by Andy Soltis,

published by McFarland. (https://mcfarlandbooks.com/) Hansen writes, “When I first saw the description of this book, (There is no need for the comma) I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it. (“Upon first seeing description I did not know how to feel about the book.” THE ACM needs a good editor.) However, having now received a copy and read a fair amount of the text…” Let us pause in the middle of the sentence to reflect. Many years ago someone mentioned something about coming to the House of Pain “soon.” This caused David Vest, the only man to have won both the Georgia Chess Championhip and Georgia Senior Championship, to pose the question, “How long, exactly, is soon?” He added, “I hate those nebulous words…” This began a discussion concerning nebulous words. A short time (Nebulous!) later Mr. Vest, heading out the door, said, “Tell Murphy I will be back in a little while.” He was half way out of the door when someone asked, “How long is ‘a little while’, Dave?” This brought the House down! What is a “fair amount” of the book? Your “fair amount” may not be the same as my “fair amount.” Can you imagine a New York Times book reviewer revealing they only read a “fair amount” of a book? I usually pay little attention to these short book reviews by writers who obviously simply scan the book reviewed. It would be better for Mr. Hansen to review only a few books he has actually read as opposed to scanning ten books before writing a review. It seems many reviewers spend more time writing the review than actually reading the book being reviewed.

Then there is the article, 50 is the new 40, by Jon Edwards, an ICCF Senior IM. Reading the article caused me to reflect upon the words written by GM Nigel Short

in New In Chess magazine 2019 #2

in his piece, Obsolescence, which concerns correspondence chess. “If ever an activity should have long ago expired and been buried with dignity, it is surely correspondence chess.” This caused Kirill Oseledets to write a letter to the editor of NIC in which he expressed his unfavorable opinion of NIC for publishing the Short column. Kirill wrote, “I was sincerely surprised and deeply disappointed to see that in New In Chess 2018/2 you published Nigel Short’s article with the provocative title ‘Obsolescence.’ Later he writes, “One thing that Nigel Short fails to recognize is that correspondence chess is first of all a research laboratory for chess.”

Mr. Edwards begins, “Chess players do not yet have access to AlphaZero and so we are left to peruse more conventional chess technologies. It is tempting to focus primarily upon new databases, new videos, and new online chess services, all of which keep me feeling young and invigorated, but the fact is that chess is experiencing another profound change that has gradually but inexorably changed chess forever.” Then the article begins and Jon writes, “Just a few years ago, patiently permitting a desktop computer to run for day or longer might net an evaluation depth of 35-40 ply, each ply representing a single half move.”

He continues, “With new hardware , it is not uncommon (Don’t ‘cha just hate it when a writer uses a double negative and the editor prints it?) today for such runs to reach a depth of 50 ply or even much higher, depending obviously upon the position, the number of viable moves for each player, and the chess engine being employed. Those depths are high enough to predict accurately the future endgames, which themselves become trivial to evaluate. These long runs in typical positions are producing a slew of draws in Correspondence chess. I present here the current crosstable of the Spanish Masters, a tournament in which I am competing. With just 8 games still unfinished, the crosstable creates quite an impression, a veritable sea of draws.”

The crosstable shows a tournament with fifteen players almost complete. There is only one decisive result, and the only ‘1’ and lonely ‘0’ stand out like Bo Derek!

Jon continues, “You might indeed conclude prematurely that correspondence chess is therefore fully dead or dying.”

Duh, ya think?!

“But that’s not the point or the end of the story. The reality is that it is becoming very hard to win, but it is still possible!”

The CC IM writes this because the only game won in the “veritable sea of draws,” was won by the author…

He continues, “Those long runs are turning up interesting finds.”

Indeed.

“I parlayed one such discovery into a win over the reigning Russian correspondence chess champion, the only win so far in this crosstable.”

The game is given, along with a game played later by former World Chess Champion Vishy Anand,

who was unable to produce the move found by a computer Chess program after a “long run.” At the Isle of Man Anand faced Artemiev

with white and these moves were played: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be2 e6 7 f4 Be7 8 Be3 0-0 9 g4 d5 10 e5 Nfd7 11 g5 Nc6.

“Undoubtedly unaware of the game I had recently completed, Anand tried 12 Qd2.”

“I reached the diagram position through a different move order: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 Be2 Be7 8 f4 0-0 9 g4 d5 10 e5 Nfd7 11 g5 Nc6

Edwards continues, “I reached the diagramed position in December 2017 through a different move order: : 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 a6 6 Be3 e6 7 Be2 Be7 8 f4 0-0 9 g4 d5 10 e5 Nfd7 11 g5 Nc6. Sensing an opportunity for White, I ran Robert Houdart’s Houdini 6.02 Pro x64 for 35 days(!) on an Intel Xeon CPU E5-2687W @3.00 GHz with 32 GB of installed RAM. At depth 45, 12 Bd3 emerged not simply as the best move, as I had anticipated (Where is that darn comma when you need it?) but also with a completely winning advantage!”

“Edwards – Lobanov instead continued: 12 Bd3!! (Please note the ICCF Senior International Master gives not one but TWO exclamation marks for a move found by a Chess engine after doing whatever it is it does for over a MONTH of computing!!) Qb6 13 Na4 Qa5+ 14 c3

“I suspect the engines at lower depth had rejected this line owing to 14…Nxd4 15 Bxd4 b5 trapping the knight, but at higher depth, the engines easily find: 16 Bxh7+!! (Once again one exclam is not enough!!) 16…Kxh7 17 Qh5+ Kg8 18 0-0+ with a transfer of the Rf1 to h3. On 18…g6 (the toughest defense) 19 Qh4 Re8 20 Rf3 Bf8 21 Rh3 Bg7 22 f5! gxf5 23 Nb6 Nxb6 24 B5 with mate to follow. Without that line at his disposal, Lobanov chose instead to sacrifice a knight for two pawns but achieved insufficient compensation. Here’s the rest of the game.”

I will spare you the remainder of the game. Mr. Edwards adds this at the end of the game: “Not long after the game ended, I shared it with a GM friend of mine, the second for a world top-player, who ran 12 Bd3 on a very powerful mainframe overnight. He concluded that Black was already lost and he added White’s new idea into their collective repertoire. The translation: Our world’s best players fully understand the need for world class computing. He was able to do in half a day what took me more than a month! I do not know what hardware they are running but it clearly surpasses my setup. I am also proud that analysis of this game appeared in New in Chess Yearbook 129 (itl), pp33-35.
While it is clearly getting much tougher to win correspondence games and to achieve Correspondence IM and GM norms, any correspondence wins that doe occur clearly deserve considerable attention. Just ask Anand. I therefore recommend that strong players involve the Games Archive at iccf.com as a key part of their opening preparation. You will gain access to the archive after you sign up (for free).”

What, no double exclam after “free?”

Reading, “…correspondence chess is first of all a research laboratory for chess,” caused me to stop reading and start thinking about what was being read. I thought the computer championships, such as the TCEC Chess tournaments, were Chess laboratories. Jon and his ilk input a position into a computer and let it do it’s thing for a month and call it Chess. Jon, and all other correspondence players would be much better off if they would go to a club or tournament and use their brain to actually play CHESS!

Jon was right when he wrote, “…chess is experiencing another profound change that has gradually but inexorably changed chess forever.”

With that sentence Jon Edwards just KILLED CHESS!

Consider the last theoretical novelty you saw from one of the top ten players in the world. Did it spring from the fertile imagination of a human like, for instance, the Magician of Riga, Mikhail Tal?

Or did it emanate from the bowels of some hellish mainframe? If it has gotten to the point where a computer can provide a world class Chess player a move early in the game with which any world class player will win, what is the point of Chess? Has it gotten to the point where, “Those depths are high enough to predict accurately the future endgames, which themselves become trivial to evaluate?”

If Jon is correct there is no point in watching Chess because one will never know how the ‘beautiful’ move was produced. A Chess fan will never know if the “tremendous move” emanated from a human brain or from the machinations of a computer program. What we currently have is some kind of symbiotic relationship between human and machine kind of like the ‘Borg’ depicted in the television show, Star Trek: The Next Generation.

The first World Chess Champion to lose a match to a computer program, Garry Kasparov,

became an advocate of some kind of Chess in which both players have access to a program, which, thankfully, did not become popular. It appears what happened is the symbiotic relationship was kept behind closed doors. The computers and programs were there all the time, like some kind of Wizard of Oz.

Because they were out of sight they were also out of mind.

What is the point of the folks at the Chess Informant awarding a prize for the “best” theoretical novelty if the TN was found by a computer program? It has reached the point where a Grandmaster without access to a mainframe computer has little chance against another GM with access to a powerful computer. Who is actually winning the Chess game, the human or the program?

Chess will continue to be played just as Checkers continues to be played by a small number of people. When was the last time you were aware of the world Checkers champion?

Then there is the last page, 5×5 Q&A “Where Grandmasters Advise Young Players.”

The advice being given is by Susan Polgar. What the woman did to the USCF was UGLY!

Allen Priest Started A Thread

The President of the USCF board, Allen Priest, started a new thread on the USCF forum under All Things Chess, titled: World senior team 50+ (http://www.uschess.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=24693&st=0&sk=t&sd=a).

I posed this question on the thread: “Why was there no 65+ team from the USA?” (by nocab on Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:14 pm #335352)

It was no surprise that the POTUSCF was the first to reply as he weighs in on almost everything on the forum.

“Well you can organize one – it is an open tournament. As many teams from any country can enter as wish.”

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

Maybe another person on the forum would have been surprised by the flippant remark but I was not because of having previously interacted “up close and personal” with Allen at a Kentucky State Championship. He allowed the tournament to begin without lighting because of no electricity after turning a deaf ear to the players.

My friend Michael Mulford replied with the following post:

Postby Mulfish on Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:30 pm #335356

Did US Chess fund the winning team? If they did, a more accurate answer might be US Chess did not budget to fund one and no self-funded team emerged”.

Allen answered:

Postby Allen on Wed Apr 24, 2019 9:41 pm #335357

We has a stipend for one team for 2018 and 2019 based on our invitional list rules. Again these are open events. Any team that wants to enter certainty can.

Last edited by Allen on Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

by Mulfish on Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:01 pm #335358

Allen wrote:
We has a stipend for one team for 3018 and 2029 based on our invitional list rules. Again these are open events. Any team that wants to enter certainty can.

Ignoring the obvious typos on the years, would it be fair to say that we have budgeted for stipends for one team. That team could have been either an over 50 or an over 65 team, based on the invitational list rules?

And, as usual, Allen got the last word:

by Allen on Wed Apr 24, 2019 10:25 pm #335361

Sorry. The phone keyboard is hard to use. We budgeted for one set of stipends for two tournaments that occurred during a single budget year. The original motion didn’t address anything about divisions of the event. So, if the invitational list yielded a 65+ team that’s who would have received the stipend.

Allen Priest
National Tournament Director
Delegate from Kentucky

At this time there are twenty four posts on this particular thread and sixteen, or two thirds, of the posts were made by the POTUSCF. Does this make you think of the POTUS and his propensity for firing salvos via Twitter?

In the March issue of Chess Life magazine Allen writes about US Chess Affairs/ News for our Members in something named, ACROSS THE BOARD. He begins, “Not many people get Chess Life to read a missive from the president of the organization. I understand.”

I’m thinking, “Well, at least the man understands something.”

Allen also writes, “But we all share one thing-an interest in a grand game.”

And I’m thinking, “Interest?” Then I realize the difference between Allen and me is a chasm because I LOVE the Royal Game! I have played Chess seriously since 1970, and if you go back to when my father taught me the game, 1966. I have read extensively about the game and have followed it even when spending most of my time playing Backgammon professionally. I have played Chess in USCF rated tournaments in twenty five different states, more than any other native born Georgian. I have played Chess in seedy dives, such as the legendary Stein Club on Peachtree street in Atlanta, Georgia,

and opulent places such as the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina. (https://www.biltmore.com/)

Allen has played all of forty five USCF rated games IN HIS LIFE!

Allen is rated 701. Allen has NEVER BEATEN A PLAYER WITH A RATING CONTAINING FOUR DIGITS!

Why is Allen the president of the USCF? How did Allen become president of the USCF? What could Allen possibly know about Chess?

I asked myself the above questions after reading 25 Questions for Steve Doyle: A major figure in American chess relates his lifetime experiences in characteristically upbeat fashion, by Peter Tamburro, in issue #3 of the American Chess Magazine recently.

This question was posed, “How has the USCF fared over the years and what do you think its prospects are for the future? Now that there is a search for a new executive director, what qualities should they look for?”

The former President of the USCF, Steve Doyle

gave this answer: “The huge savings built up in my term were then the saving life blood for a series of incompetent boards – and that followed with very weak leaders in charge. They ran the book business into the ground., squandered resources and lived off the savings account. Finally the building in New Windsor was sold, the book business outsourced, savings used to pay off massive debt and the operation moved to Tennessee. Now new people are coming forward, the entire membership votes on officers and we have a 501c3 status. All positive moves. Of couse, millions wasted along the way.”

The current president of the USCF, Allen Priest, is, fortunately, on his way out. In his aforementioned column he wrote, “Many of our members are not particularly interested in the governance of US Chess. Few, if any, join to be involved in governance. I know. I was the same way.”

If only it had stayed the same way…

I am now one of the members who is “…not particularly interested in the governance of US Chess.” Frankly, at this point in my life I could care less as it is time for me to leave the future to those whom it will affect.

The fact is that Allen Priest, like all other Chess politicians, will be judged by history. Will he be considered a “very weak leader in charge?” Will history be kinder to him than those posting on the USCF forum have been to this point in his tenure? Only time will tell…

Biothythms of Magnus Carlsen vs Fabiano Caruana

Upon learning I played tournament Chess in the late 1970’s the father of a new girlfriend mentioned a book he had read, Biorhythm: A Personal Science, by Bernard Gittelson, going on to say Bobby Fischer had been profiled during the match with Boris Spassky. Naturally this peaked my interest. I read the book, learning the importance of critical days. For example, the Japanese did not allow any professional driver to work on a double critical day, or allow any to pilot fly on those days and it cut the number of accidents tremendously. Over the course of my life while in a relationship with a woman I have charted their moods by jotting down simple notes such as, “bitchy day,” or “good mood day.” Hold off on those nasty comments and emails, please, as I have done the same for me. In addition I have focused on not only my individual day but on different periods in an attempt to understand biorhythms and whether of not they have anything to do with my state of being. I have come to the conclusion there is something to biorhythms, especially physically. A critical day is when one is changing from one phase to another. One can go from a low to a high phase, or the reverse. It has been my experience that it is much worse to go from a high phase to a low phase, and it becomes increasingly pronounced as one ages. It has been extremely difficult to understand the other two phases, emotional and intellectual. I can, though, say with authority that several woman in my life have sent me to the biorhythm chart when having a…how to describe it…let us say an “overly emotional” type of day. It has also been my experience over the last four decades that it is better to be in an emotionally low phase than a high phase. Being in a high phase is akin to being what is commonly known as “wound too tightly.” Beginning at birth everyone’s day of birth will be a critical day followed by either a peak or floor day. For example, I was born on a Monday, so every other Monday is an emotional critical day for me.

Some years ago I put something on the USCF forum concerning a World Championship match and biorhythms. The nattering nabobs ripped me a new one. I recall “pseudo-science” and “akin to astrology” among other remarks. For this reason I ask the reader to be open-minded and kind when commenting or sending an email.

Magnus Carlsen

Fabiano Caruana

https://www.biorhythm-calculator.net/

When the match begins the graph shows Magnus at his physical nadir while Fabiano is near his physical zenith. It is almost the exact opposite for the two combatants intellectually. Magnus will be going through an emotional critical day, transferring from high to low. Fabi will coming off of his emotional nadir. This illustrates how different are the two players, biorhythmically speaking. This is dramatically shown with this:

Relationship Compatibility

Name: Carlsen
Date of birth 1990-11-30

Name: Caruana
Date of birth 1992-7-30

Physical: 13%
Emotional: 42.9%
Intellectual: 15.2%

Spiritual: 5.7%
Awareness: 33.3%
Aesthetic: 72.1%
Intuition: 100%

http://www.procato.com/biomatch/

The lack of compatibility between the two players in the three main facets is striking. I left the latter part in for illustration purposes only because of the 100% match in intuition. Ordinarily I only look at the ‘Big 3’ but the total match had to be shown even though I have no idea what it means. When I learned about biorhythms there were only the top three.

The physical match up shows Carlsen playing most of the match in a physical high phase, while it is the opposite for Caruana. This could be a major factor, especially in light of the fact Fabiano has played so much Chess leading up to the match. Magnus has demonstrated throughout his career just how much endurance and stamina he possesses. No current player can match Carlsen in this regard. It would be wonderful to step into an alternate universe where the physical cycles are reversed, would it not?

If FIDE president I would strongly advocate a sixteen game match. With only a twelve game match I would advocate a tie match at the end of regulation would require another match one year later. If that match was also tied after regulation, then the champion would remain the champion. The challenger would have had two chances to beat the champ. To obtain another chance the challenger would have to again win the candidates tournament.

The World Champ will begin the match intellectually high before declining into a low phase the second half of the match. The challenger will begin the match low intellectually, but spend the majority of the match in a high phase.

Magnus will play most of the match in an emotionally low phase while Fabiano will only be in an emotional low period at the beginning of the match with the latter two-thirds being in a high phase.

Simply put, the two contestants biorhythms could not be more disparate.

The critical period of the match will be games three through six. One look at the chart of the challenger vividly illustrates this fact. Caruana will be undergoing biorhythmic changes in all three phases. His biorhythms will be going every which a way…

The chart of the World Champion looks much “smoother” in contrast.

I did this comparison in an attempt to make a prediction according to biorhythm theory. After studying the charts I am unable to do so as the disparity is simply too great. How much of a factor will it be that Magnus will be physically high during the latter part of the match? How much will it matter that Fabi will be high intellectually? In a longer match of even sixteen games, the number many time World Chess Champion Mikhail Botvinnik said was needed to determine a winner, the physical factor would play a larger part, but this is a shorter match. They are both young so the physical aspect may not mean as much as the intellectual, but how does one quantify the intellectual biorhythm? As I have grown older the physical factor is much easier to quantify, for example. Some physical critical days, especially transferring from high to low, are pronounced in a way that can be felt and understood. It may take a huge amount of information to demonstrate the kind of impact an intellectual critical day produces. I just do not know…One thing I do know, though, is that this will be an extremely interesting match, biorhythmically speaking.

If my life were on the line I would have to go with the current Champion because of the tiebreak issue. If the match is even then Magnus will be a heavy favorite.

Hypothetically speaking, if there were no tiebreak and my life depended on only the biorhythms of the players, again I would be forced to go with Magnus because of the critical period between games three and six for the challenger and his physical high phase toward the end of the match.

That was from the logical ‘Spock’ part of my brain. The ‘Captain Kirk’ emotional part from my heart will be hanging on every move Fabiano Caruana makes during the course of the match.

I would also like to mention I plan on spending much time watching, and listening, to the best Chess internet broadcasting trio, Yasser Seirwan, Maurice Ashley, and Jennifer Shahade, which can be found here (https://www.uschesschamps.com/2018-today-in-chess/world-chess-championship).

Let the games begin!

Chess Cheating: The Eternal Battle Between Good And Evil

A subject on which I have received much response from readers is cheating in Chess, and the number of emails received has increased over the years. Cheating at Chess is a subject that is not going away any time soon. Much has been written about the subject recently, including the following, but I want to mention an email received from a Chess dad. He mentioned talking with another father of a young Chess player about the subject of cheating in Chess and the man told him he needed to read the Armchair Warrior because the AW questions everything. Maybe I should have called the blog the ChessX-Files

Or maybe Mcully and Sculder…

The gentleman did get in touch, writing that his son, who was considered a promising player, had stopped playing Chess. When asked why he no longer wanted to play the game the son said, “Half the kids CHEAT, dad!”

The stunned father was taken aback. He wrote it took a few moments to gather himself. Then he questioned the number saying, “Surely it is not as bad as that?” The son replied his friend had also decided to quit the game because of the rampant cheating.

I have not been involved in playing Chess the past few years and have been away from tournament action. All I know is what I read on the Chess websites and what is sent to me via email, such as the following:

“This also goes past the actual cheating..I have beaten several GMs..so has (Name withheld)(even in his 70s)…of course the results are consider “upsets”…however If go to the US Masters and have a similar “upset win”..I am going to be accused of cheating..the organizers are going to strip search me looking for evidence..maybe call in DHS!…and if I was to have two “upset wins”… the GMS will pass around a letter asking that I should be removed from the US Masters…I would never get my reputation back…it’s kinda like be accused of a child abuse charge.. and notice that number of Masters that do not play anymore?… Chess at least in the US is doomed…and of course these are my personal comments and should not be connected to my name..you can use my concerns but please not my name or the state that I live in…”

This was received in the spring of this year. Reading it again caused me to think of the US Open this year in which only one IM participated…(This comes from memory; I did no research so I may have it confused with another large tournament) Make of it what you will…

How prevalent has cheating in Chess become?

Canadian Arbiter Caught Cheating

by kevinspraggettonchess · Published September 22, 2018 · Updated September 28, 2018

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.

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. Not just with apps.

Now that it is well established that parents, spectators, arbiters and even organizers are participating in this ‘epidemic’, that rule of thumb must be updated and increased.

Organized chess can not continue this way. Perhaps it is time for FIDE to stop listening to arbiters and organizers, or to start expelling some arbiters and organizers that players have already noticed can not be trusted.

http://www.spraggettonchess.com/canadian-arbiter-caught-cheating/

“If a player is determined to cheat, it will happen”

by Davide Nastasio

10/20/2018 – In the United States, there are many weekend tournaments, thanks to the efforts of many independent tournament organizers nationwide. Some of these tournaments provide significant prize money, over USD $12,000, and the chance to play against strong master level players. Georgia-based DAVIDE NASTASIO recently spoke to one such veteran organizer, Walter High,

and sent this brief interview along with annotated games from the North Carolina Open.

Walter High: I started playing because my two sons, David and Zachary, were becoming very good players and I got tired of sitting in the hallways of hotels and schools waiting for them to finish their games. I thought: “I can play this game! How hard could it be?” I found out the answer to that very, very quickly!

DN: What about cheating? The technology has made falling into temptation definitely easier, how are the USCF and US tournament organisers dealing with such a big problem?

WH: I sincerely doubt that there was ever a time when cheating did not exist in chess. Technology has just changed the methods used to cheat and also the methods used to prevent cheating. If a player is determined to cheat, it will happen. We cannot prevent it other than by making players face off naked in isolation from other players and all spectators! Technology is also used to help prevent cheating; metal detectors and wands are used to eliminate electronic devices from entering the playing venue. There is a point at large tournaments where anti-cheating measures can only go so far without making the tournament experience disagreeable for too many players. It is a trade-off we cannot escape. This problem will be as timeless as the eternal battle between good and evil.

https://en.chessbase.com/post/north-carolina-open-2018

Isle of Man Chess International, Round 2, 21 October 2018. Photo by John Saunders