THE SURROUNDING GAME on Netflix

While putting together the post of February 14, 2018, THE SURROUNDING GAME

(https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/the-surrounding-game/), I was thrilled to see the movie was available on YouTube. After finishing the post I had something to eat and then rested. After a cuppa joe I settled in to watch the movie…Unfortunately it was no longer available due to a copyright infringement.

It has been many years since watching any movie in a theater. Since it would have cost five dollars to watch the movie online I decided to wait until it could be watched free of charge. The movie debuted on Netflix August 30 and I watched it the next day. The focus of the movie was on the young players. This caused me to reflect upon what I consider the best post ever made on this blog, or the earlier BaconLOG, for that matter (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2015/03/10/these-are-my-people/). It matters not what game is being played, or even if a game is being played. It is the same feeling one has when attending a convention of model train enthusiasts, or sports memorabilia fanatics.

When the movie ended I headed to the Internet Movie Data Base (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3973724/?ref_=nv_sr_1) to find it rated 8.1. A few minutes ago I returned to find it now rated 6.8. I liked the movie but am no impartial observer as I was there during the US Go Congress when it was filmed. I was living in Hendersonville, North Carolina at the time and traveled to Black Mountain four times during that week. I did not participate in the tournament because there was a “Meal Plan,” priced at $195, required for all attendees. I kid you not…The organizers did not expect participation by a local and they would not relent.

From the movie one learns there were only two hundred players who were members of the US Go Association a couple of decades ago. The exponential increase in the number of Go players has been phenomenal, and this was before the movie!

The 2006 Go Congress did attract 334 players. It was held at the Blue Ridge Assembly (https://blueridgeassembly.org/), a magnificent venue. I was reminded of the first Land of the Sky Chess tournament held at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina (https://www.biltmore.com/). The majority of my time was spent in the room where books and equipment was sold. Most of the games I played were in that room and were played with those doing the selling. I did, though, play a few games with lower ranking players who were participating in the tournament. Since I was unable to win a game maybe the organizers, without knowing, did me a favor.

I purchased many books about the game of Go, including one, Reflections on the Game of Go : The Empty Board 1994-2004,
by William S. Cobb, that is priced at $125 at Amazon. It appears the price of Go books has increased dramatically since many, if not most, books come in digit form these days.

I had a wonderful time during that week and met many people who were extremely nice to me, even if I was considered to be some kind of curiosity since I was considered a Chess and Backgammon board game player. When it came time to eat I went to a Mexican restaurant in the city of Black Mountain where someone who lives in the area, and whom, per his request, I can never mention again, (this came after my post of July 18, 2018, https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/?s=fuck+you+mr+president) had previously taken me for lunch.

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The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

During the summer of 1864 the insane yankee General William Tecumsch Sherman and his marauders had crossed the line into the Great State of Georgia, alarming the citizens of Atlanta. “Joseph E. Brown, Georgia’s petulant, half-mad governor, grew increasingly and understandably anxious about Sherman’s advance.” (From: The Grand Design: Strategy and the U. S. Civil War,” by Donald Stoker)
The troops of Confederate General Joe Johnston were vastly outnumbered. On July 9, “Governor Brown sought another means of strengthening Johnston’s army and saving his state: he decreed what equated to a levee en masse. Brown (with a few exceptions) summoned to the colors all men in the Georgia reserve militia between the ages of sixteen and seventeen, all those fifty to fifty-five, and all free white men between seventeen and fifty who had not been subject to conscription. “Georgians,” Brown cried in his proclamation, “you must reenforce General Johnston’s army and aid in driving back the enemy, or he will drive you back to the Atlantic, burn your cities and public buildings, destroy your property, and devastate the fair fields of your noble State.” Anyone who has seen the movie, “Gone With The Wind” knows how things turned out. The South has still yet to recover. If you question this, please check out the map of the US charting the “Hardest Places to Live” in the US published recently by the venerable NY Times:(
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/26/upshot/where-are-the-hardest-places-to-live-in-the-us.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpSumSmallMedia&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1). Every chart and map I have seen in my now seventh decade shows something similar.
The USCF, according to the chart provided by President Ruth Haring (it can be found on the USCF website in an issue of Chess Life magazine, but one has to be a member to access it, so go to “Chess For All Ages,” the wonderful blog by Mark Weeks http://chessforallages.blogspot.com/2013/06/2013-uscf-executive-board-election.html), the largest age group, by far, is the one comprised by children. The numbers flat line until one sees a bump around age fifty.
Governor Brown had to call upon the very young and old because those of the “prime” age group, the one advertisers covet, those of the ages eighteen to forty-five, had been decimated by death, severe wounds, or desertion by cowardice, like Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.
USCF President Ruth Haring and the boys on the board find themselves in a similar situation. The adult chess players, for whatever reason, have deserted; there are none to be called upon because they are no longer members.
I have posted several links to several recent Armchair Warrior blog posts on the USCF forum. I am suprised to report the discussion has been interesting, and civil. Typical of the responses is this one by Thomas Mager:
by tmagchesspgh on Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:45 pm #282799
“When the Fischer boom went bust in the late 70’s and 80’s, there wasn’t a surge of juniors at that time to replace the players who left the game. We have a big demographic hole from that era. Today, when I go to a large Grand Prix tournament, I see lots of gray hair and tons of kids below the age of 16.”
I received an email from a reader of the AW in which he blamed me for “…constantly criticizing the USCF and offering no ideas to change the situation.” He obviously missed the part of the post, “THIS EVENT IS CHILD FRIENDLY” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/this-event-is-child-friendly/), where I wrote, “I do not have answers to these questions.” Nevertheless, his comments stung, causing me to reflect and cogitate on what I would do if, by some quirk of fate, I were installed as the Supreme “Pooh-Bah” of USCF. (Think of me as Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis, in the movie, “Armageddon.” From the Internet Movie Database – “After discovering that an asteroid the size of Texas is going to impact Earth in less than a month, N.A.S.A. recruits a misfit team of deep core drillers to save the planet.” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0120591/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_63)
The first thing I would do would be to institute a program named, “Bring ‘Em Back!” I would appoint a team to contact as many former members as possible via email, snail mail, telephone and cards and letters, and any other feasible idea offered. The former members would be welcomed back with a membership costing only as much as any new scholastic membership, at least for the first year. I would immediately institute a membership drive which would award prizes to the members who recruit the most former members. First prize would be an all expenses paid trip to St. Louis as a special guest to spectate at the US Championships. The St. Louis Chess Club and Scholastic Center is so wonderful that just a trip there, with the chess HOF across the street would be enough in itself, I suppose, but why not go all the way?
Next I would immediately lower the cost of a membership for any Senior, those eligible to play in the US Senior, to the same as that offered little Spud. I would also offer a lifetime membership for those Seniors age 62 and up of only $300. Many would be willing to “bet on the come.” Most would not live ten years, but they would have the satisfaction of knowing they had helped USCF in time of crisis. Older players also have something invaluable to any organization, time.
The last thing I would do while hitting the ground running would be to stop publishing a monthly magazine. I would cut the magazine to a quarterly publication in order to make it a “world-class” magazine, on a par with the best chess magazine in the world, New in Chess. The columns, like “The Check is in the Mail,” which has already moved, could be continued online, while the magazine would focus on noteworthy US tournaments, and have interviews with featured players. Consider the comment made by GM Levon Aronian, the #2 rated human player in the world, “I love it when the book consists of light analysis but plenty of words describing the subtle psychological details.”
http://susanpolgar.blogspot.com/2014/05/a-very-special-interview-with-levon.html
These are the things I would do immediately, with other ideas to follow.
For those who are unaware, the title of this post comes from a song by the greatest Rock & Roll band of all time, a group held in high regard by peers, The Band. Just thinking of the song makes me well-up. Listening to the song always brings tears to my eyes.
The Band – The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville train,
Til Stoneman’s cavalry came and tore up the tracks again.
In the winter of ’65, we were hungry, just barely alive.
By May the tenth, Richmond had fell, it’s a time I remember, oh so well,
[Chorus]
The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing,
The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin’. they went
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la,

Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me,
“Virgil, quick, come see, there goes Robert E. Lee!”
Now I don’t mind choppin’ wood, and I don’t care if the money’s no good.
Ya take what ya need and ya leave the rest,
But they should never have taken the very best.

The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing,
The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin’. they went
La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la,

Like my father before me, I will work the land,
Like my brother above me, who took a rebel stand.
He was just eighteen, proud and brave, but a Yankee laid him in his grave,
I swear by the mud below my feet,
You can’t raise a Caine back up when he’s in defeat.

The night they drove old Dixie down, and the bells were ringing,
The night they drove old Dixie down, and all the people were singin’, they went
Na, la, na, la, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na,

The night they drove old Dixie down, and all the bells were ringing,
The night they drove old Dixie down, and the people were singin’, they went
Na, la, na, la, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na, na
http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/90003/

Georgia Chess News

The original purpose of this blog was to write mainly about chess in Georgia. I have received inquiries as to why I have not written more about local chess activities. Scholastic chess predominates and I wanted to focus on what was formerly called “chess,” but is now called “adult chess.” The only tournaments exclusively for adults are Senior events. Children proliferate at “adult” tournaments here and in the US. Yet tournaments consisting of mainly children are called “adult” tournaments. Go figure…I recently noticed an announcement in the local Decatur Dispatch for a chess club at the Tucker library on the second and fourth Tuesday evenings in which it is stated, “No children. Please.” Make of it what you will. I find it rather sad that chess has been so completely overwhelmed by children that anyone would print something like this, but such is the reality of the situation.
Dr. Cano left a comment to my post, “Booming Interest in Amateur Chess.” He also asked me the same question via email some time ago. His question is, “Where are the chess tournaments that we used to have here in Georgia?” This is a good question. Unfortunately I cannot answer it. I will, though, ask any member of the GCA board, or anyone else who can answer the question to leave a comment on this post, or send me an email I can publish. Dr. Cano, and many others who ask the same question, deserve an answer. These are the kinds of things discussed on the forum of other states, such as North Carolina. Those in control of the GCA have chosen to not have a forum. One can only wonder why the pooh-bahs refuse to allow their members to express their views.
I would like to direct anyone interested to the GCA website, http://www.georgiachess.org/open, where it has been announced that the 2014 Georgia Chess Championship will be held May 2-4 at the Atlanta Marriott Northwest, 200 Interstate North Parkway SE • Atlanta, Georgia 30339. Since it is a Marriott, I do not have to tell you this is a tremendous upgrade from an empty space at a Mall in decline. Backgammon tournaments have previously been held at this hotel. The recent unrated tournament for children was held at this very hotel. I will leave the efficacy of the GCA holding an unrated tournament for rated players to others interested in the chess of children.
I have had several chess coaches tell me recently that the real battle these days is in the middle school because by the time children reach high school they have lost interest in chess. This was confirmed by the turnout for the above mentioned tournament, where there were only fourteen players in the top section consisting of grades 6-12, but thirty-five in the K-5 section and sixty in the K-3 group. There were an additional twenty-five in the K-1 section. This tournament is a vivid illustration of what USCF President Ruth Haring has said about the mass exodus of children from organized chess around age eleven. It would appear puberty is killing chess. For those interested, the results can be found on the GCA website at: http://www.georgiachess.org/news?mode=PostView&bmi=1407698
I have chosen to eschew writing about local events in order to be kind. A tournament I mentioned in an earlier post, “10th Annual Georgia Senior Open” (https://xpertchesslessons.wordpress.com/2013/09/19/10th-annual-georgia-senior-open/), something called the “GCA Combined,” included the Senior tournament. It has been jokingly said this event was the Georgia response to the recent Carolinas Chess Festival. If I were writing for one of the so-called “fair and balanced” extremist networks I would write, “There was a huge percentage increase in the turn-out for the 2013 Georgia Senior Chess Championship.” I prefer to tell it like it is and say that only fourteen players participated this year, five more than last year. There were only five players in the Open section, barely enough for a four round tournament. Last year’s Senior champion, Alan Piper, decided to play in the one day G/45 in lieu of defending his championship. This is a scathing indictment of the tournament and of those in control of the GCA. Former Senior Champion Chris Ferrante and Van Vandivier tied for first, scoring 3 out of 4. Captain Jeff Kidd finished clear third half a point behind. Richard Jones finished clear first in the second section with 3 ½ points, followed by Stephen Yancey with 3. I have written previously the tournament should be a true Open, with only one section. Once again, the small turnout proved my point. The results could be found on the GCA website, but it appears they have been removed. If one is interested in the results of the other events held at an empty space in a Mall that has seen better days, go to the USCF website: http://www.uschess.org/component/option,com_wrapper/Itemid,181/
The Georgia Open took place this weekend at Emory University. A total of sixty-four players, appropriately enough, entered the event that had been limited to no more than two hundred fifty. The song by Arrowsmith, “Dream On,” just entered my brain, for some reason. GM Alonso Zapate (2575) and LM Chris Mabe (2326), from the Great State of North Carolina, drew their last round game to tie for first place along with class “A” player Jinseok Kim (1963). Mr. Kim drew his first game then ripped off four in a row, including an upset of Expert Donny Gray in the last round. Five players tied for 4-8 with four points. They were, NM Michael Corallo; Expert Reese Thompson; class “A” Nicholas Williams; class “B” Shanmukha Meruga; and class “D” Ingrid Guo. Only five of the sixty-four players participating in this tournament were from other states. That is only 8%! When Dr. Cano asks why we do not have tournaments like we used to have here in Atlanta, I believe a large part of what he means is that at one time out of state players comprised a large percentage of players at our tournaments. There is a reason they refuse to come to the capital of the South to play chess. To have tournaments like we had “back in the day,” it is imperative the GCA has tournaments in which players from other states want to participate.
The crosstable can be found at the GCA website: http://www.georgiachess.org/Resources/Documents/results/2013%20Georgia%20Open%20Cross%20Tables.pdf
The 2013 Georgia Class Championships, dedicated to Ruben Shocron, will be held at Emory beginning Friday night, November 22, a day that will live in infamy. Maybe consideration should have been given to naming it the “JFK Memorial,” for obvious reasons. Details can be found, once again, on the GCA website.
It would seem the GCA website is beginning to shed its “moribund” state. While researching IM Carlos Perdomo for an interview that never materialized I found a group of interviews on YouTube, including one with Carlos, as well as other players like LM Chris Mabe, GM John Fedorowicz, GM Julio Becerra, IM Jonathan Schroer, and others, by the President of the GCA, Fun Fong. This is the kind of thing that should be accessible on the GCA website. Check them out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Tk1_EEJuEQ
Finally, it has been reported that Keith Sewell has left the GCA board. There have been rumors of dissension and rancor among board members for some time, with the possibility of other disillusioned members possibly leaving in the near future. I can only hope the GCA gets its act together, listens to wizened members of the community such as the esteemed former President Scott Parker, the eminence grise of Georgia chess, and otherrespected members, like Michael Mulford, and decides to give players the kind of tournaments they want, and deserve, in lieu of ramming down their throats tournaments they refuse to attend.