Friday, December 31, 2010

G/30 Game Score!

I received this in my in box. It is proof positive that some players actually write down the moves at the Monday night G/30 here in Louisville. The game is between an expert and a class 'A' player. Can you tell which is which? Names are being withheld to protect the guilty!

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Bc4 Nc6 4. O-O Nf6 5. Re1 e5 6. c3 h6 7. d4 Be7 8. dxe5
dxe5 9. Qc2 O-O 10. Nbd2 a6 11. a4 Rb8 12. Nf1 b5 13. axb5 axb5 14. Ba2 Qc7 15.
Ng3 c4 16. Nf5 Bc5 17. Be3 Ne7 18. N3h4 Nxf5 19. Nxf5 Bxf5 20. exf5 Bxe3 21.
Rxe3 Ra8 22. b4 Ra3 23. Rae1 Rd8 24. Rxe5 Rxa2 * 0-1

G/30 is NOT Real Chess

The irrepressible John Linton, in response to my previous post,

No Rules, Just WRONG!,
writes in an email: Mike Bacon has opened my eyes to the evil that no notation is. And I was one of the earlier sinners in this regard.

However, I do detect a slight logical contradiction: As G30 is not, we can all agree, real chess, it's difficult to see why people should bother to notate non-chess games.

Hell, to notate a G30 is a bit like notating G5, is it not?

John L.

Well, is it, or is it not?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

No Rules, Just WRONG!

In spring of 2009 I was talking with local TD Steve Dillard at his Monday night tournament at the dining area of Meijers, a big box store. A woman walked up asking Steve is he could reccommend a chess teacher for her son, Michael. Steve pointed at me, I introduced myself, and have been giving her son, nine at the time, weekly lessons since then. Her name is Luba and she is from Azerbaijan, home country of former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov. Because of the rich chess culture there, Luba wanted her son to be introduced to the game.
I learned Michael was home schooled. Steve mentioned it was obvious the boy had "severe psychological problems." How he could know that and why he would say it after such a short time around the young fellow was beyond my comprehension. I figured that, since Steve is a teacher and has spent much time interacting intimately with young boys, he must have some basis for the remark. Later I did mention to Steve that Michael was the most difficult student with whom I had ever worked. He said it would be best if I stopped teaching the youngster. I like a challenge, and Steve telling me that only firmed my resolve to continue the lessons. Anyone can teach the good students; it is much harder to try and reach the difficult ones.
One of the biggest problems I encountered with Michael was that he needed to play. Being home schooled and not in an after school program made it difficult for him to find partners with whom to play. Luba took him to a tournament directed by John Simmons of the company Chess Performance (, but there were only a few players and they stopped going. Luba then took Michael to the Monday night tournament at Meijers in order for him to play other children. Since he was not ready for tournament chess, Luba wanted him to play 'skittles', not rated games. Unfortunately, most everyone there is there to play rated games! Michael would, therefore, play between rounds, but then the pairings would be announced and that was the end of the game.

This fall Luba informed me that Michael had received a magazine from the USCF. She asked me if I had purchased a membership for her son. I told her I would never do such a thing without consulting with her first. It was around this time I severely injured my back. Although I only missed one lesson, I will admit that the pain had a deleterious affect on me. Around this time Luba began to tell me about Michael playing on Monday nights. I must have missed the fact that he had actually begun to participate in the RATED tournaments. At one of our lessons he informed me he had a rating, and I asked how that was possible? Then I realized Steve must have been the one responsible for Michael becoming a USCF member. Being his teacher, I naturally asked to see his game scores. He did not have any game scores because he had not taken notation! I told them that the best way to learn was to go over the games he had played, learning from the mistakes. I strongly urged them to take notation, telling them that keeping score is not only a USCF rule, but a rule everywhere in the world, except Louisville, Kentucky! I was aware that keeping score in a USCF rated game was not mandatory here because I once informed an opponent that he must keep score and was accused of 'gamesmanship', if not outright cheating, because I had done so. I decided to leave the chess community here to their ways, although I would attend the Thursday night chess meeting at Highland Coffee. Dillard then decided to run another tournament on Thursday evenings and the turnout dwindled to zero several times I stopped by, so I stopped going. In 2009 the so called 'rule' here was that, if you deducted five minutes from your clock you did not have to keep score. That is not in the USCF rulebook, but hey, Steve Dillard marches to a different drummer, I suppose you could say.
One of the problems here is that there is nothing like the Ironman Chess Club in Decatur, Ga. It is hosted by the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear the first and third Tuesday of the month. It is from six until nine officially and, although there are adults who attend, it is mostly a place for the children to play chess. There are no rated games, no entry fees and few clocks. Parents bring their children to the church and they 'network', read or work, while keeping tabs on theiir children. Louisville desperately needed something like that then and probably needs it now. Matter of fact, EVERY community without something like that needs it for chess to thrive and grow.
Michael can write the moves because I taught him to do just that. After much prodding he finally brought in a very short game he had won. When asked about the other two games he told me he had not written them down. I asked why he had not and he answered "It slows me down." So I asked if he had used a clock and he said he had not! I managed to elicit from him that his opponents did not write down the moves and so he did not want to do so. I told him the story of the time I happened to be at a bookstore on a chess night. I was challenged to a game by a strong player and accepted the offer. I got out paper and pen and he asked, "What's that? You gonna keep score?" I told him that if I told my students to keep score how could I not? "Wow. That makes it a REAL GAME!"
This was, naturally, lost on Michael. I mentioned to them that the TD was responsible for seeing that players adhered to the rules, but that, for some reason, Steve Dillard did not. "Steve was not the TD," I heard. "It was John Simmons." I shook my head, thinking that it's not just Steve Dillard who ignores the rules, but his acolytes too.
I believe the rule says one does not have to keep score if one cannot keep score. My student is fully capable of keeping notation, as are most of his opponents, as they play almost every week. Go the and click on Players & Ratings, then Player/Rating Lookup and type in Suslikov. Michael is the only Suslikov. Or you can type in his USCF ID number, 14476305. You will see that his first tournament was in August and that he has played in a dozen tournaments. Certainly he should be writing down each and every one of his games by now.
While still a USCF member I wrote to Ex Director Bill Hall, lodging a formal complaint about the fact that Steve Dillard refused to enforce the rule, but heard nothing from USCF. Steve Dillard is the 'big dog' in these parts. He has been an organizer and TD for decades. I have been told by others active in the chess community here that everyone involved with running things are the generation that has come after Mr Dillard. From my experience there is usually one person in each chess community who sets the tone. For example, in Western North Carolina that person would be NM Neal Harris, former President of the North Carolina Chess Assoc. I do not have to tell you that the rules are followed in the mountains of NC.
Michael did not like it when I told him I had looked him up on the USCF site and saw he had lost all three games in his last tournament. He does not wish to have a rating and does not want his information to be found online. He has asked me to write to USCF asking that he be removed from their files. He became upset upon learning that there is now nothing to be done.
This is a difficult situation for me, his teacher. On the one hand I'm told he has never paid an entry or membership fee, but he did actually win three dollars at one tournament. He is, at the age of ten, now a 'professional' chess player; one that does not take notation!
I find it sad that the great game of chess has devolved to this level.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brave New World

Genna Sosonko's in his excellent article, Cafe Central and the Life and Times of Savielly Tartakower, in the 2010/6 issue of the best chess magazine ever to appear on this planet, New in Chess, mentioned the book Moral Victories, by David Lovejoy. It's a novel about Dr Tartakower I would like to read. I went to Amazon, finding that I can only read if if I have one of the new reading machines. Since I do not, and will never, have one of the new, new things, I checked for the book on several other sites, to no avail.

If anyone has a copy they would like to sell me, please drop me a note. I would appreciate it very much.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Hulk

One of the sites I check everyday is the Chess Cafe. In the top left corner there is a listof those who were born, or died, on this date. I noticed that IM Boris Kogan died on this date 17 years ago. It does not seem like he's been gone that long.

I had the pleasure of knowing, and traveling to tournaments with Boris. The Legendary Georgia Ironman stuck Boris with the moniker of 'The Hulk'. Boris was a 'Hulk' when it came to chess in the South. Although he was in his 40's when he and his family managed to get out of the Soviet Union, and therefore, past his prime, he still played in several US Championships. GMs Larry Christiansen and Michael Rhode both told me Boris was GM strength and he proved it by finishing with an even score at the US Championships.

Boris was a professional chessplayer. I thought I knew something of the game until encountering 'The Hulk'. I was reminded of it today while reading Genna Sosonko's excellent article, Cafe Central and the Life and Times of Savielly Tartakower, in the 2010/6 issue of the best chess magazine ever to appear on this planet, New in Chess. Sosonko wrote: "Chess players are familiar with the so-called pearls of eastern wisdom that were dreamt up by Tartakower. One of the most well known of them goes: 'There are players who are weak and don't know that they are weak: these are ignoramuses-avoid them! There are players who are weak and know that they are weak: these are smart-help them! There are players who are strong and don't know that they are strong: these are modest-respect them! There are players who are strong and know that they are strong: these are the chess sages-follow them!

After spending very little time with Boris, I realized just how weak I was. That must be the reason he tried to help me. I will never forget the time The Hulk looked at me and asked, "Mike, why you play chess?" Why, indeed.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Amateur American Chess

An essay by Irwin M Stelzer, Chinese Chess, published Dec 18, 2010( ) begins, "The Chinese are playing grandmaster chess against an amateur America that can’t see beyond the second move."

I was reminded of JFK's famous statement during the Cuban Missle Crises about the Russians, "They play chess, we play poker."

In the buildup to the first Gulf War, President Bush's father put a lot of pressure on Japan to get involved -- preferably with cash to support the U.S. operation. Many perceived Japan to dither but it was the only country in the world to formally tax its population to support the Gulf War, eventually contributing more than $13 billiion.

But at that time, then Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said Americans play tennis and Japanese play golf -- to explain the difference in response times.

At the "Arab Strategy Forum" in Dubai in 2006, Iran's nuclear negotiator Ali Larijiani said: "Americans play baseball. We play chess. Let them come."

After reading Mr Stelzer's article, I get the impression he knows little, if anything, about the game of Wei Chi, known as Go in the west. If he did he would probably have to admit that the Chinese are playing a strong game of Go on the board of the World, while the US seems to be bluffing without even a lousy pair. Meanwhile their opponents hold all the cards!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Shrinking Bobby Fischer

I started playing tournament chess while Bobby Fischer was on the ascent, heading to heights no American had previously attained. To the vast majority of chessplayers in those days, he was larger than life. It seems that now that he's gone, vermicular types are crawling out of the woodwork to cut him down to size. In the entry, Fischer - compared to John Lennon, on the blog, Celebrate Chess, ( ) Mr Toad writes that 'EndridCold' (in a YouTube commentary) says, "Who knows, something as simple as 100 mgs of Doxepin (for Bobby Fischer) per day might well have been a God's send." It made me think of the famous Rolling Stone article in which some pedant said that because Paul McCartney smoked pot he wrote 'silly little love songs'. He postulated that Paul may have written 'great music' if he had not smoked marijuana. After reading it, Paul sat down and wrote the song Silly Love Songs, which went to #1! The flip-side is that without smoking mother nature's finest, he may not have even been able to write 'silly little love songs'.
Joseph G. Ponterotto, is a professor of counseling psychology in the Graduate School of Education at Fordham University. He is also a licensed psychologist and maintains a small private practice in New York City. In a Miller-McCune Research Essay A Psychological Autopsy of Bobby Fischer at the website,, he writes, "Providing a detailed differential diagnosis of Bobby Fischer would require a much longer treatment of the topic than is possible here. I do provide such an expanded consideration in a book-length project in progress." Cannot wait for that one!
In the essay he does tell us that,
"The goal of a psychological autopsy is to assess the feelings, thoughts, behaviors and relationships of an individual who is dead. Such an evaluation is usually conducted without the benefit of direct observation, but often with more access to historical records and archives than would be available in a standard psychological assessment."

He also writes, "It is inappropriate of me to proffer a formal psychological diagnosis of Fischer, and in writing this assessment, I am guided by the ethical code of the American Psychological Association, which says that practitioners in my position should “document the efforts they made and the result of those efforts, clarify the probable impact of their limited information on the reliability and validity of their opinions, and appropriately limit the nature and extent of their conclusions or recommendations.”

Then he tells us, "With those qualifications and limits well in mind, I have come to believe Bobby had a genetic vulnerability to develop a mental illness, and that this predisposition — in concert with early life trauma and the burden of relentless media pressure — eventually led to serious mental health problems."

Why am I not surprised? It is a long essay and Joe has a great deal to say about why he considers Bobby to have been nuts. According to Joe, if strong sandpaper had been taken to young Bobby, he may have been able to live a healthy and happy life! Just round off those edges in order to fit the square peg into the round hole!

People like this earn their living from 'rounding off the edges' of people on the fringe of life. If left up to them, everyone would be on prescription drugs and walking around like Zombies. They do not understand, and never will, that civilization is advanced by those outside the herd.

A friend invited me over to watch the new movie, Bobby Fischer Live. Mr Toad writes, "

I am not alone in comparing Bobby Fischer's behaviour with that of other celebrities - though John Nash is perhaps more appropriate from a psychological point of view, thus:

"In many ways Fischer's story resembles that of the mentally unstable Nobel Prize winner John Forbes Nash Jr., the mathematician who inspired the book and Oscar-winning movie A Beautiful Mind, but without the happy ending. Both Fischer and Nash were the best at their chosen professions. Both were widely considered to be geniuses. Both were also supremely arrogant, rebellious, eccentric, and - although respected - not necessarily well liked by colleagues. Fischer left the United States to live in exile. So did Nash. Even eerier, while in the grip of schizophrenia Nash was an anti-Semite and was convinced that Communists (the men at MIT wearing red ties) were observing him." (from Rene Chun's excellent summary of Fischer's life)
A Beatiful Mind was a very good movie. Russell Crowe should have won his second Oscar in a row. Instead the Academy decided to give it to an actor for his poor acting in a bad movie just to shut him up. When the preview for Training Day appears, one sees that the stars are Ethan Hawke and Scott Glenn, not the actor who won the Oscar! What does that tell you? Bobby Fischer Live will not win any awards, nor should it do so. Watching this movie was like having someone take their fingers and scrape them on a blackboard! I took the movie home in order to watch it again to pause it and write my thoughts for a review. It is simply not possible for me to watch it again. I would rather go to the dentist and have teeth pulled without any anti-pain medicine administered! I find it sad that, because our society has become such a visual one, the lasting impression of the Great Bobby Fischer could be what people will see on the screen when they watch this movie. I can only hope few people watch this excrement!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Chess Nazi

Some years ago while working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center I mentioned that I had never seen an episode of the popular sit-com, "Seinfeld". I received some very strange looks before someone said, "What? You've never seen The Soup Nazi?" It seemed that everyone, except me, had seen episode 6 of the 7th season. David Spinks, long time live-in caretaker of the House of Pain said he would have to remedy that immediately, which he did by pulling out one of the many thousand tapes, of DVD's, he owns from storage so I could watch that particular episode. For many years it was the only episode I had ever watched. When someone would bring up Seinfeld I would just nod and say, The Soup Nazi, and it was like I was a member of the club. If the Soup Nazi did not like you, you would could not purchase his soup.
The chess version of The Soup Nazi is Bill Goichberg. If he does not want you to have any more soup (win any more money), he simply excludes you from his tournament by having a rating cutoff below your rating, as he has stated he did to Grandmasters Kudrin and Alex Ivanov at the recent 17th Annual Eastern Chess Congress and Senior. (See Discrimination in Chess). Bill Goichberg is, therefore, The Chess Nazi!
I read the report on the tournament and could not help but notice there was no mention of the Senior part of the tournament, so I clicked on the link taking me to the CCA web page devoted to the tournament and did not find the Senior tournament listed. I did, however, find the results for the ◦Fischer Random tournament, all six players. I cannot help but wonder why I cannot find any mention of the so-called Senior tournament?
It's not that I care who won the rigged event. For the winner of the event, it is a hollow victory, to say the least. I mean, so what if someone won a Senior event because the best, and just plain better players were excluded from playing. How proud can they be of the 'victory'?
Some years ago, as he wrote in the award winning Georgia Chess magazine, long time President of the Georgia Chess Association, Scott Parker, a class 'B' player, rated right below 1800, intended on playing in the under 1800 section, but, because there would have been an odd number in the Open section, decided to play up. To his surprise, he won the tournament, probably his greatest triumph in chess. I say that because Mr Parker won an Open section, a section in which anyone who wanted to play could do so. If he had played in the under 1800 section, and won it, it could not possibly have been as satisfying as winning the OPEN section. It would have been shallow even if players rated lower than 2209 had been allowed to play, with those higher rated excluded.
Big Al Hamilton told me once that he envied me in that I had won a tournament open to all. "Just once I'd like to stand on a table, beat my chest, and say, I beat those who showed-up to play!"