Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Discman

GM Kevin Spraggett included chess videos in his entry of Tuesday, April 26, 2011, on his fantistic blog ( They are, shall we say, unique. Here are the links:
A Chess Song (maneater) by kathified

A Chess Song (take me away)

HOW TO PLAY CHESS! (the battle)

I mention this because I received an email from my friend, the Discman, a chess National Master, who cashed in at last year's World Series of Poker. I would look forward to Wednesday evenings at the House of Pain because the Discman would come for the 15 minute tournament. Before the House had a computer, the Discman would print out The Week In Chess and bring it for the center, which usually meant me because most of those coming came only to play. Although younger than my generation, the Discman would have fit in nicely at Woodstock with his love of the music from my era. Living in the suburbs of Atlanta requires many hours on the roads of Atlanta filled with jam-packed traffic. What better way to fill the time than with good music? The Discman sent me a file of each and every one of the songs he had years ago and I was astounded. Knowing the Discman is one of the best things about the game of chess, for that is how we met. Though many miles seperate us, and we no longer play tournament chess, the love of music is a bond that has kept us together through the internet.

Yo nocaB,
Are you familiar with the song Spanish Train, from Chris de Burgh’s 1976 album Spanish Train & Other Stories?

Spanish Train

There's a Spanish train that runs between
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
and people hear she's running still...

And then they hush their children back to sleep,
Lock the doors, upstairs they creep,
For it is said that the souls of the dead
Fill that train ten thousand deep!!

Well a railwayman lay dying with his people by his side,
His family were crying, knelt in prayer before he died,
But above his bed just a-waiting for the dead,
Was the Devil with a twinkle in his eye,
"Well God's not around and look what I've found,
this one's mine!!"

Just then the Lord himself appeared in a blinding flash of light,
And shouted at the Devil, "Get thee hence to endless night!!"
But the Devil just grinned and said "I may have sinned,
But there's no need to push me around,
I got him first so you can do your worst,
He's going underground!!"

"But I think I'll give you one more chance"
said the Devil with a smile,
"So throw away that stupid lance,
It's really not your style",
"Joker is the name, Poker is the game,
we'll play right here on this bed,
And then we'll bet for the biggest stakes yet,
the souls of the dead!!"

And I said "Look out, Lord, He's going to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, He's going to win!.."

Well the railwayman he cut the cards
And he dealt them each a hand of five,
And for the Lord he was praying hard
Or that train he'd have to drive...
Well the Devil he had three aces and a king,
And the Lord, he was running for a straight,
He had the queen and the knave and nine and ten of spades,
All he needed was the eight...

And then the Lord he called for one more card,
But he drew the diamond eight,
And the Devil said to the son of God,
"I believe you've got it straight,
So deal me one for the time has come
To see who'll be the king of this place,
But as he spoke, from beneath his cloak,
He slipped another ace...

Ten thousand souls was the opening bid,
And it soon went up to fifty-nine,
But the Lord didn't see what the Devil did,
And he said "that suits me fine",
"I'll raise you high to a hundred and five,
And forever put an end to your sins",
But the Devil let out a mighty shout, "My hand wins!!"

And I said "Lord, oh Lord, you let him win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is dead on time, many souls are on the line,
Oh Lord, don't let him win..."

Well that Spanish train still runs between,
Guadalquivir and old Saville,
And at dead of night the whistle blows,
And people fear she's running still...
And far away in some recess
The Lord and the Devil are now playing chess,
The Devil still cheats and wins more souls,
And as for the Lord, well, he's just doing his best...

And I said "Lord, oh Lord, you've got to win,
The sun is down and the night is riding in,
That train is still on time, oh my soul is on the line,
Oh Lord, you've got to win..."

I replied, asking:


What brought your attention to the song Spanish Train, from Chris de Burgh’s 1976 album Spanish Train & Other Stories?

His reply is classic Discman!

It’s funny that you should ask.
I have acquired a TON of additional songs in the past year or so, basically doubling my total library.
I’m preparing to add another 40 90-minute discs to my listening rotation, which will make it 280 total 90-minute discs. This will be a total of 420 hours – to listen to my rotation would take you 17.5 days straight through.
Anyway, I’m getting the songs together and looking at each artist in my library. When I came to de Burgh I decided that I should add 1 song since he is not represented in the rotation yet, even though I have 6 of his albums (like I said I’m not really a fan of his).
So the obvious decision would be to add Don’t Pay the Ferryman since it was the only song of his that I know. I’m not really in love with that song so I decided to do a little research first, using as my reference of course.
AMG gave his 2nd album 4 stars (as many as any of his other albums) and I’m always partial to an artists earlier albums.
I read the review and saw: “The opening "Spanish Train" is a mysterious yarn about a chess match between God and the Devil, where the victor inherits the soul of a dying train engineer. de Burgh's vocal escalation from serene to flamboyant makes this one of his best songs, as does the marvelous twist at the end of the story.”
This sold me on adding this song…

Now you know why he is known as The Discman!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Winning by Drawing

This is the question posed on the website of the current US Chess Championships (

What do you think is the best bid in an Armageddon game to receive black and draw odds vs. white's 45 mins + 5 seconds / move?:
More than 40 minutes
35-40 minutes
30-35 minutes
25-30 minutes
Less than 25 minutes

Please notice the question presupposes that an Armageddon game is de rigueur. Nothing could be further from the truth! The so-called 'Armageddon' game is an abomination! There should never, under any circumstances, be a game whereby a player can win by drawing! I would like to know the name of the person who first had the 'thought' behind this travesty. This 'thinker' should have been hit, immediately, with the full opprobrium of his peers and the weight of an inexorable slide into an immoral society, at the very least. He should have been held to public ridicule, thereby nipping this damnable black rose in the bud, consigning it to oblivion, where it belongs.
How do things like this come into existence without discussion as to whether or not they should exist? We are now suffering because nuclear power was foisted on we, the people, without any discussion whatsoever as to the efficacy of what is now Hell on Earth. It would seem appropriate to call it an 'Armageddon' game when one considers it, would it not?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unusual Powers

After arriving early for a chess lesson at a Barnes & Noble, I was perusing the magazine section when the name 'Stefan Zweig' on the cover of what I took to be the New York Review of Books caught my eye. I was mistaken, as it was actually The Jewish Review of Books, Number 4, Winter 2011. ( It turned out to be a review by George Prochnikof the new book: Stefan and Lotte Zweig's South American Letters: New York, Argentina and Brazil, 1940-42, edited by Oliver Marshall and Darien J. Davis. Zweig authored what I, and many others, consider to be the best chess fiction ever written, The Royal Game, a novella first published in 1942, after the author's death by suicide. It is the Austrian master's final achievement, completed in Brazilian exile and sent off to his American publisher only days before his suicide in 1942.
After the lesson ended I sat there thinking about how little I knew of the life of the author who wrote such a magnificient work, so I took the time to read the review. I learned that he wrote many of his best-known works on a desk that once belonged to the greatest composer of all time, Ludvig Von Beethoven. During World War Two his books were banned in Austria and Germany. He travelled to South America giving lectures. From the review, "Ernst Feder, a Berlin-born journalist writing for a Rio daily, claimed that no other writer, native or foreign, enjoyed Zweig's popularity in Brazil...
...there's no question that Zweig was a literary superstar in both Brazil and Argentina. Zweigs short fictions and long historical biographies, flickering with secrets, abrupt intimacies, and intricately filigreed erotic fantasy, struck home on the continent long bdfore his arrival."
He was severely depressed. His term for it was the notorious "black liver." From the review, "As time closes in on the Zweigs, they spend their hours reaing the classics, taking long walks with their fox terrier, stopping off at the nearby Cafe' Elegante for coffee, and playing chess in the evening."
The German invasion of the Soviet Union provoked Zweig to write his friends the Altmanns that the war situation would only "become worse and worse for our mankind," and that "while a younger generation would no doubt live to see better times, I with my 'three lives' feel that my generation has become superfluous."
Zweig's restrained, deeply moving suicide letter reads at times like a love note to Brazil. It begins with the announcemant that "Before parting from life of my own free will and my right mind I am impelled to fulfill a last obligation: to give heartfelt thanks to this wonderful land of Brazil which afforded me and my work such kind and hospitable repose." There has been much speculation about what, finally, snuffed out Zweig's will to live. He killed himself just after watching Rio's Carnival...But why, really, look for answers beyond the reason he gave in his letter?
...he finishes
"After one's sixtieth year unusual powers are needed in order to make another wholly new beginning. Those that I possess have been exhausted by the long years of homeless wandering. So I hold it better to conclude in good time and with erect bearing a life for which intellectual labor was always the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on earth...I salute all my friends! May it be granted them yet to see the dawn after the long night! I, all too impatient, go on before."
Reading this made me recall some of the last words of one of my favorite authors, the irrepressible Doctor of Gonzo journalism, Hunter S. Thomson. "67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted." For some reason the quote I remembered had Dr Thompson writing 7 years past 60. It is most probably because I turned 60 last year. Like most people who reach the age, I never thought I would still be here among the living. After one's sixtieth year unusual powers are needed, indeed...

Friday, April 22, 2011

You Can't Win If You Fear Losing

Grandmaster Alexander Onischuk, having the white piesces, drew his game yesterday with Grandmaster elect Samuel Shankland. It was an especially good result for Shankland because there will now be a playoff between these two players for a spot in the finals. GM Maurice Ashley, commenting on the game from the St Louis Chess Club, was incredulous at the draw; the choice of opening by Onischuk; and the fact that Al did not seem to even try and win the game. The previous day Shankland had only drawn with GM Ben Finegold in a position in which he had an extra pawn and what looked to be good winning chances. A win would have put him in a much more favorable position. FM Mike Klein reports on the website ( Their game was one of the few in the tournament to be settled with imbalances everywhere. “I’m really disappointed with my game today,” Shankland said. “Ben sacrificed a pawn for what I thought was insignificant compensation.” Asked why he agreed to the draw, Shankland said there was too much risk in the position. “I’m either going to get mated or run my pawns through. I saw that Alex (Onischuk) had a bad position. But I don’t like losing a White against the lowest player in the competition.”
GM Jan Ludvig Hammer, a GM from Norway visiting the championships said on the webcast that he was against draw offers being allowed. "A draw is offered by a player who is afraid to lose," Hammer said. That about sums up Sam Shankland. A chess player cannot play the game with fear of losing. I will be surprised to see him advance after the tie-break games. If he does somehow make it, I am willing to wager he will not ever become US chess champion.
The poll question on the St Louis Chess Club website today is: What do you think is the best way to discourage short non-fighting draws?
The four possible answers are: 1) Ban the draw offer (A.K.A. Sofia-Corsica rules); 2) No draw offers before move 30 (or another move number); 3) Impose a financial penalty; 4) The full opprobrium of your peers and the weight of an inexorable slide into an immoral society is enough.
Although I loved #4 I voted for #1.
Offered draws are killing chess. I have lost games because I refused to take a draw many times. I recall Patrick Tae, an expert at the time, asking me why I had refused his draw offer in an equal position. "Because I wanted to beat you," I answered. "That's crazy," he said. Even I have not been immune to offering the draw. At the 103rd annual US Open in Cherry Hill, NJ, I offered a draw after time control in a better position to a youngster named Gary Huang, an expert who out-rated me by a couple of hundred points. He looked at me quizzically, got up from the board (I learned later he had gone to ask his coach if he should accept the offer), returning to agree to split the point, to my relief. The fact is that it was late at night and I had no energy whatsoever. If he had continued he would probably have won, no matter the position on the board. I was just about to turn 52 at the time. It was the first time I actually felt old(er) at the board; not wanting to try and win a better, although murky, game. To quote Vince Lombardi, "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." In the case of a young man like Sam Shankland, one could substitute the word "fear" for "fatigue."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We're Talkin' Baseball!

Just received from ACTA Sports the Stat of the Week: Who are the best defensive teams of 2011 so far? It's free; just go to
One of the best things Bill James, the original stat-head, did was shine a light on how important defense is to a winning team. Casey Stengel once said he did not want the player who would drive in two but let in three. The Ol' perfessor knew the importance of defense.
An article, Angst Over Jeter’s Hitting Is Off to a Robust Start, by Ben Shpigel in the New York Times 4/12/11 ( does not mention Jeter's fielding, but it has been said that he has lost a step. He won a gold glove last year, which was a bad joke. He has always been a below average fielder, and fielding does not improve as a player ages. A baseball player does not usually improve in his late thirties, unless he uses a performance enhancing drug. Shpigel writes, "If his average improves, climbing under a barrage of line drives and settling beyond the .270 that taunted him last season, Jeter will have defied age and historical precedent."
I hate the Yankees. No, strike that, I loath and detest the Damn Yankees! It made me happy when the Yankess signed an aging shortstop to a multi-year contract during the offseason. Now they're stuck with an underperforming has been, having spent money that could have been better used on a younger, better, player.
My point was made by Sean Forman writing in the New York Times 4/15/11 in an article, Struggling Jeter Could Use Some Rest. (
This is a fine article using a chart to illustrate what he calls 'The Jeter Slide'. He writes about the few other players who have played the demanding position of SS in the history of MLB in the late 30's. It does not look hopeful for Jeter, which is a great thing for Yankee haters!
The Phillies' Four Aces by Pat Jordan in the NYTimes magazine of 4/3/11 ( is an excellent article; a must read. What no one, though, seems to be writing about is how old, in baseball terms, are three of the four '#1 starters' on the staff. Players, especially hurlers, usually encounter difficulties as they near the mid 30's. The odds are against this staff turning out to be one of the best of all time for that reason. Barry Zito, said on the new San Francisco Giants Reality Series The Franchise, "It's still there somewhere. You've just gotta find a way to access it." I hope he can, but when your fastball drops to 84 mph I'm afraid you are not long for the Show. All big legue ballplayers probably think that it's still there, somewhere, after it's gone, never to return.
After reading the article, Vexing Rise in an Injury with Little Explanation, in the New York Times 4/12/11 ( I thought back to the time the Legendary Georgia Ironman and I went to the batting cages. It was twenty years since I put the bat down, and it showed. Tim put the pitch speed on the 'major league' setting, though it was no where near that caliber. I was swinging and missing, and it embarassed me considerably. It was obvious that I was not seeing the ball well, so I opened my stance dramatically. I could now see the ball much better, learning later that my left eye was much weaker than the right one; not good for a right-handed batter. I began to put wood on the ball, enjoying the sound of solid contact. Evidently others were too, as a crowd gathered around to watch. Reeling with the feeling, I continued to pound away at the ball with visions of my glory days coming back. It was a wonderful evening that I enjoyed immensely.
The next morning upon waking I could hardly breath. Although I tried taking a deep breath, it was too painful to complete. My ribs hurt like all get out! That whole day was torture! I was miserable; hurtin' for certain. Now I know the name of the muscles I strained. It took me a week to fully recover...

Monday, April 18, 2011 Censorship

I received an email asking why my blog was no longer listed on the blog page of, so I wrote to sometime in late Febuary of this year asking why my blog was no longer being posted along with other blogs on the blog page. I received this answer:
Kohai (Staff) 24 Feb 2011 06:02 PM
Which blogs aren't showing ? do you have links for them so i can take a look ?
Kohai Support Manager
Ticket #: 190059
Department: General Support

I responded: nocab (Member) 24 Feb 2011 11:02 PM
Teaching Chess is Subversive @
I was made aware that it was not listed on the blog page, so I entered it again,
that's why you will see 2. It does not look like it made it either, yet 60
people have read it...

And received this reply: Kohai (Staff) 02 Mar 2011 02:03 AM
nocab did you copy that entire blog content from another site ? or did you write the whole content yourself personally ?
Kohai Support Manager

So I sent this answer: nocab (Member) 02 Mar 2011 04:03 PM
Most of it is from books, some from websites, and some my own words. Emails have
been positive. Why? I mean, why are you asking? Is it not acceptable to to use the words of others to illustrate MY points?
I've received emails asking why my blog has not been listed on the blog page.
That's why I sent this query...

The reply was from a new person: Matt Helfst (Staff) 05 Mar 2011 08:03 AM
Yes, it is fine to use other resources so long as you give proper credit for the content of others that you use. Your blog postings are listed in the blogs section but as more blog content is published your blog content will move down the list and eventually off the 1st blog page which shows the most recent blog postings.


As you might imagine, I was pretty much exasperated by now. My frustration shows in my next email: nocab (Member) 05 Mar 2011 04:03 PM
I do not understand why you people refused to post my blog on the blog page, and
I certainly do not understand why you asked me, "nocab did you copy that entire blog content from another site ? or did you write the whole content yourself personally?"
This fellow seems to infer that I am a thief because I copied my 'entire content
from another site." I resent the implications greatly. You people have impugned
my character! I have NEVER and would NEVER use the work of another WITHOUT
ATTRIBUTION! EVERY WORD printed on your site, or at the original BaconLOG ( ) is either my own, or, if written by someone
else, is attributed to them! I have asked several of my friends, a college
English professor; a guy with not one, but two PhD's., and others, to check my
work and they have all said that there is indeed something wrong ...Something
wrong with YOU!!!
The reason I use the words of others to illustrate my points is that, for
example, when it comes to educating children, my only experience has been in
teaching in-school afternoon chess. If you take time to read my post again, you
will see that the people I quote have spent their WHOLE LIVES either teaching,
or writing books about teaching! They have much more gravitas than I, would you
not agree? I included the book by Jim Marrs, a friend of mine, and even the name
of the chapter, and sub-name! I included the url so ANYONE could check. I take
it you did not 'click-on' to verify, now did you?
You owe me, at the least, an apology!
Michael Bacon

The exchange continues:

Matt Helfst (Staff) 07 Mar 2011 11:03 PM
Hello Michael. Yes, it is fine you post this. We apologize if it appeared as if we were accusing you of copying other's content. This is fine what you have done.


nocab (Member) 08 Mar 2011 04:03 PM
Yet I just checked and did not see my latest post, Houston, We Have a Problem,
listed with the other blogs...I don't have time to check for my penultimate
post, 2011 US Senior, but doubt ist's there either. Why is that?


I'm sorry if i came across as accusing, i didn't mean it to sound like that. I was trying to determine if the blog was copied from another site to see if it was our filter that hide the blogs thinking it was a form of spamming due to the amount of hyperlinked lines in the blogs themselves. We are using a new spam filter because of the increasing number of spammers we're getting on the site, but the filter does need tweaking somewhat as its detecting hyperlinks in blogs, and unfortunately some innocent members are being caught up in this.
Kohai support.

I received another email from a friend who had mentioned my blog to someone, who was having trouble finding it on the blog page of, so I decided to look for it myself, to no avail. I then sent this to 'support':
nocab (Member) 11 Apr 2011 06:04 PM
I've noticed that the number of readers is way down, so I went back and have not
been able to find where ANY of my blog posts have been included along with the
other blogs. Will you please tell me why you people stopped posting my blog?

This is the last email I have received from, this time from 'Dan':

Your blogs did not appear in the main blog listing because you kept posting either controversial subjects not appropriate for here, or copyrighted material.
Your blogs are still readable; anyone who goes to your page, or who is tracking your activity, will be alerted to them and see them.
But you will need to post more acceptable content in order for it to appear under the main blog listings.

Dan Support

So decided to stop posting my blog, along with others on the 'official' blog page because " kept posting either controversial subjects not appropriate for here, or copyrighted material."
First they accuse me of using copyrighted material, then apologize, and now accuse me once again! It would seem either these people cannot make up their minds, or the right hand does not know what the left is doing.
Although this is not total censorship, it is at least partial censorship. It would seem that, if I were actually guilty of using copyrighted material, would not allow me to post on their site at all. As for "...posting either controversial subjects not appropriate for here, or copyrighted material", I have no idea what is "not appropriate" since 'Dan' makes no mention of exactly what is "not appropriate." As for being "controversial", since when is something written banned in this country because it is "controversial"? I thought that was something done in countries like the former Soviet Union, or, going back further, Nazi Germany. Controversy is suppressed today in communist China. People all over the world are in revolt from despotic rulers who suppress any thought they consider to be "controversial." Yet the people at are trying to limit exposure of my thoughts on their website. What they have done is un-American. Many have fought and died for the people of this country to have the right of being "controversial."
This will be my last post on I do not like the site because of all the pop-up ads that only detract from my enjoyment. The site is run like the Mafia used to run neighborhoods in that they would come to your place of business and tell you that you needed 'protection' from, say, fire. When you would inform them that there had been no fire in a century, you better believe that if you refused 'protection' there would be a fire, and soon! That's the way it is at They offer you a chance to 'upgrade' your account, which means paying for the opportunity to enjoy your surfing pleasure sans pop-up distractions. A man who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. I have had enough of

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Are Ben & Yasser Worthy?

There has been much written on the internet concerning whether or not GMs Ben Finegold and Yasser Seirawan should be playing in the 2011 US Championship. There is an entry on the Boylston Chess Club weblog: Something Fishy at the 2011 US Chess Championships (
Rihel writes, "The ones I want to highlight are in bold. First up is GM Ben Finegold. According the most recent USCF top list, Ben is ranked 33rd in the US, yet he is given a wild card spot. One can only speculate that this is because he works for the Saint Louis Chess Club, which is hosting the Championship. I can think of many other players that deserved a slot. Instead, most of those players are now forced to duke it out in the qualifying tournament. Ben Finegold is a strong player, no doubt. He deserves a spot-- in the qualifying tournament with the other strong(er) players."
I could not disagree more!
Some years ago there was a lower class player who came to the House of Pain the years the University of Georgia beat the Georgia Institute of Technology in FOOTBALL. He did not care about basketball, baseball, or even chess. If the bulldogs lost the football game, we would not see him until the next year, only if UGA won. We called him 'Foghorn' for obvious reasons. His mantra was what the club needed was a Grandmaster in residence. If the Foghorn blew, chances were he was tooting his horn for a GM for the club. When the cost of having a GM around was mentioned, Foghorn would change the subject to, "How 'bout dem Dawgs!"
The St Louis Chess Club is fortunate enough to have a GM in residence. Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting GM Ben Finegold, one of the members of the Atlanta Chess Club, Larry Stanfield, from Michigan, spoke very highly of Mr Finegold. From what I've read on the SLCC website, he seems like a good fellow and a real positive addition to the St Louis chesscommunity.
Before writing this, I took time to go to the SLCC website and noticed that Ben had participated in a one-day event this past weekend, in lieu of spending his time preparing for the US Championship. Ben writes, "The CCSCSL has decided to run four one-day tournaments in 2011 held on a Sunday. The first such event was last Sunday, April 3, and twenty-six players participated. I was the highest rated (by quite a bit)..." (
He gives every game he played that day against much lower rated opposition. He had everything to lose, and not much to gain, yet he played at the club. I have never faced a Grandmaster in a rated game. I did, though, contest several games with an IM of GM ability, Boris Kogan. Upon reflection, I sure would have liked to have played at least one GM. The only way I would now have the opportunity would be if someone were to hold an open US Senior with decent playing conditions, time limits, etc., worth going to the trouble to attend. I expect to be dead if and when that should occur, unfortunately.
The GM played five opponents with an average rating of 1723. Those players are the kind of players a GM would expect to face in a simul. The next weekend he will be facing off with some of the best chess players in the country.I feel strongly that GM Finegold should be participating in the US Chess Championship "because he works for the Saint Louis Chess Club, which is hosting the Championship."
On the USCF website one finds this comment in Post: #211728 by BMcC on Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:47 am: "I am completely amazed at the thought of Yasser getting a wild card spot for this US Championship. From his USCF records, the last time he played in this country was 2003 in that year's US championship. At that time he was barely playing enough games to stay eligible for the US championship. I think there is plenty of room for immigrants in US chess, but cmon, this guy was born in Syria, has been living in Holland and someone thinks he deserves a valuable spot in the US championship??"
You can read this rest of what this fellow has to say, if interested, at
All I will say about the above is that one of the great things about our country is that everyone has the right to express his opinion, no matter how erroneous it may be.

According to Rihel, on the Boylston chess club weblog, GM Yasser Seirawan should not be playing because, "...according the USCF rules for the US Championship, Yasser does not seem to qualify." Rules are made to be broken! Bobby Fischer would never have become World Champion if this guy had his way. I have no idea how old this fellow is, but I cannot imagine that he was around in the 1980's. So many new people come into the chess world with memories extending back only to around the turn of the century, that they have lost sight of who Yasser Seirawan was and what he meant to US chess. As a fan of the Royal game, I'm here to tell you that I have been a fan of Yasser, and his king-walks, for decades. As a Senior, I look forward with great anticipation to learn how he will fare against the younger generation! I will be living and dying with every move he makes, and with my friend, Larry C as well. I just hope they do not have to face-off! I abhor the thought of pulling for a dreaded draw!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

War of Northern Agression

For that is what it was, in reality. The entry in Wikipedia begins: The American Civil War (1861–1865), also known as the War Between the States (among other names), was a civil war in the United States of America. (
I particularly like the 'among other names'. It should never, under any circumstances, be called a 'civil war'. To quote the great writer Shelby Foote, "There was nothing civil about that war." From Wikipedia: Shelby Dade Foote, Jr. (November 17, 1916 – June 27, 2005) was an American historian and novelist who wrote The Civil War: A Narrative, a massive, three-volume history of the war. (
There are two kind of Southerners, those who have read his masterpiece, and those who have not.
The Confederates were forced by the president of the disunited states of america to fire on Fort Sumter at 4:30 am 150 years ago today. The devil Lincoln decided, against the advice of everyone in his cabinet, to re-supply the Fort, deep in the heart of the Confederate States of America. Alone among his administration and knowing it meant war, Lincoln sent supplies he knew would never make it to the Fort. It was extremely important to the devil Lincoln that the South fire the first shot because he knew historians would write that the South was the agressor.
Flash forward a century and contrast President John F Kennedy's handling of the Cuban Missle Crisis. Against the advice of his cabinet and the joint chiefs of staff, JFK stood alone, refusing to bomb targets in Cuba, knowing it would mean war. Make no mistake, the devil Lincoln wanted war, knowing it was the only way for the Hamiltonian northerners to obtain the wealth of the South. A close reading of history informs one that Europeans considered the war to be one of economics; a transfer of wealth. War, it has been said, is politics by other means. Those who say that the war of northern agression was about slavery are right only to the extent that the issue had been settled in 1857 by the decision in the case before the Supreme Court titled Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. 393. The law, as far as slavery was concerned, was on the side of the South. It took Lincoln's war to change the law.
Please do not get me wrong, I am against slavery, for the simple reason that I would not wish to be enslaved. Watching Ken Burns series titled The Civil War, I heard spoken history from a plantation owner who said, "I would rather be dead than be a nigger on a plantation." I am not proud of the history of my forefathers. It is not difficult to understand why this country has been so successful when one considers the fact that caucasian Europeans came here and took the land from those to whom it belonged, performed genocide on native americans for good measure, then imported Negroes to work the land. Who would not prosper with free land and free labor? If there is such a thing as 'karma' then the people of this land are doomed. DOOMED!
My cousin, a retired high school english teacher, lived in Jonesboro, a city in the great state of Georgia, my home state. She resided just off Tara Boulevard. One of her passions was the movie Gone With The Wind, certainly one of the greatest movies of all time. She had a plethora memorabilia from the movie, including dolls of the characters. Yet during a discussion concerning Lincoln's Gettysburg address, she was perplexed when I expressed my view, which was contrary to what she had taught for decades. She maintained the address was one of the greatest speeches ever delivered. "Not to a Southerner," I responded. She was perplexed, as my view did not fit in with her long held belief. I explained that what had been taught to us Southerners was from the viewpoint of the victors, the damned yankees. As far as I was concerned, she was only passing on yankee propaganda. I told her that it was extremely important to continue reading after school, to think for oneself, and make up ones own mind. Then she dropped the bomb, saying that Lincoln had "saved the union." This was more than I could take. "Look, Cuz, that's like you going to Tommy and telling him you want a D-I-V-O-R-C-E. He proceeds to beat the shit outta you, rapes you and takes everything you got, then puts his boot to your neck and chains you to a post in the basement, and then says he "saved the marriage!" I actually saw understanding emanate from my cousin's face. All she said was, "You think differently, Michael." One of her daughters told me later that Linda had said, "That Michael really makes you think." Kim said, "Hurts, doesn't it mother?"
During the last decade I heard a number of people say "George Dubya Bush is the worst president we've ever had!" You can imagine the look I received each time I came back with, "No. He was not as bad as Lincoln." Invariably they would say something like, "What? I thought he was our greatest president?"
"How could you possible think that?" I would ask. "He killed his own people." They would look at me like I just told them I was from the planet Zud! So many writers have written hagiographies of Lincoln that a cult has formed.
The Nazi Joseph Goebbels said, "The bigger the lie, the more it will be believed." draft

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Big Open, with Sections

The irrepressible Bill Goichberg is trying something completely new and different for Seniors at the World Open this year. From the tournament announcemant: Senior prizes: Open to rated seniors age 65/over, based only on score (section doesn't matter): $1800-1200-600-400. I would not be eligible for these prizes as I have yet to attain the requisite age. This is another example of the varying age at which older players are considered to be a 'Senior'. One has only to attain the age of fifty to play in the US Senior, for example.
This is the first time I have ever seen players in different sections competing for the same prize. Let me say that I have written on numerous occasions that there is only one World Open; that being the open section of the World Open. The ancillary tournaments held in conjunction, and at the same location as the World Open are just that, ancillary. They are NOT the World Open and should NEVER be called the World Open. A section winner should never say he has won the 'World Open' although it happens, in the same way that some young spud who has won an age limit 'world championship' should never say he won a 'world championship'.
If I were eligible to play, and played in the 'A' section, scoring 6 1/2-2 1/2 to lead all 'Seniors', when a Senior playing in the World Open scored 6-3, it would be preposterous for me to say I had a better tournament and deserved the top prize. To award the top prize to a player in the lowest section who outscores a Senior player in the World Open proper is ridiculous and the height of absurdity! This is, quite simply, the dumbest thing I've heard in some time. Why stop at those 65 and over? Why not have everyone, no matter what section, compete for the same prizes? After all, those who toil in the depths of the lower circles support the prize fund of those fortunate enough to play in the upper circles, do they not? If there are 500 players in one of the lower sections, but only 100 in the top section, those in the lower section compete for LESS money than those at the top! It is as if the World Open is run by Republicans, who tax the middle class and the poor to give to the wealthy. Why not have one big tournament, with players competing against only those of their own class for score, but competing for prizes against everyone in every other class! Think of it...A GM in the top section sitting across from another GM, in a hopelessly drawn position, both afraid to offer the draw because some guy in the 'D' section looks like he is about to win and maintain a perfect score! That oughta cut down on draws considerably, don't you think?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Most Instructive Chess Video of All Time

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down

On this day in 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, effectively ending the Civil War.

I found the above on one of the websites I surf every day, The Writer's Almanac, by Garrison Keillor (
Because I am a Southern-american, I prefer to think of the conflict as, more properly, The War of Northern Agression. As Shelby Foote stated so eloquently, "There was nothing civil about that war." I will also accept The War Between the States. Victors write history and by called the bloodletting "civil" the victors make it sound like something is was not.

While living in Hendersonville, located in the beautiful mountains of the great state of North Carolina, a few years ago, I happened to be at the barber shop on main street when an elderly gentleman entered. Judging from his yankee accent I took him to be from New York, and from every thing about him, a former cop, and was right on both counts. He was astounded, asking how I possibly could have known he was from New York. "We Southerners can smell a yankee a mile away," said I. There was much laughter all around, even from the barber, who was from Cleveland, Ohio. "How could you possibly have known I was a former policeman?" he asked. "Because you are as ugly as Abe Vigoda and dumb as 'Wojo'!" (referring to the old Barney Miller tv show).
The yankee cop was now livid. He mentioned something about running me in, "if I was still on the force." So I told the man that he had moved down here; I had not moved to yankee land. "Yeah, well, I seem to recall that WE won the war!" The others there who had been getting a kick out of the proceedings, now turned sullen. The oppressive feeling became palpable.
You do not move down South and bring something like that up in front of Southerners who have lived in the mountains for generations. Memories linger forever in the mountains. Word travels like wildfire in the mountains. I remember thinking that this particular yankee would never have a friend here unless it was a fellow yankee. Once word got around, he would be shunned. Trying to lighten the mood, I asked the yankee cop "Who is the best american general of all time?" He scratched his bald noggin', then said, "I don't know...Patton?"
"Patton?" I said.
"Well, maybe Eisenhower?"
"OK, George Washington?" The yankee cop was grasping now.
"Look, mister, let me give you some invaluable advice. You're down here. It's like one of those World War II movies...the one where you have got to know the password to cross our line. If asked the all-time home run leader and you don't answer "Babe Ruth", you will be SHOT ON THE SPOT!"
By now, judging from his buldging eyes, I had his attention, so I finished him off with, "If anyone asks you who was the best General of all time, you had best answer ROBERT E LEE!!!"
There was an outburst of noise and patriotism from the fellas, with knee-slappin'and hands over hearts like you ain't never seen!
The yankee cop decided he would leave and come back another day because there were too many waiting...

I cannot call this song my favorite because it is simply too sad. It does, though, evoke strong emotions and passions, not only when I hear it, but even upon thinking about it...I cannot listen to it without tears welling up in my eyes.

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
The Band

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

The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, "La, la, la"

Back with my wife in Tennessee, when one day she called to me
"Virgil, quick, come see, there go the 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 all the people were singing
They went, "La, la, la"

Like my father before me, I will work the land
And 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 singing
They went, "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 singing
They went, "Na, na, na"


An American Intellectual

Bernard Henri-Levy of France has been all over the media recently. He is usually called a "French intellectual" by our 'lamestream' media. For example, consider this paragraph from an article in the venerable NY Times: Mr. Lévy, a celebrated philosopher, journalist and public intellectual, gives Mr. Sarkozy sole credit for persuading London, Washington and others to support intervention in Libya.

How has it come to be that France has all the intellectuals, while US has none? I have never heard any american called an "intellectual." Have you? Why is that? Could it be one of the major problems with US? We desperately need at least one citizen known as an "intellectual."

Friday, April 8, 2011


Until earlier this year I had not clicked on 'stats' and upon doing so I was amazed at the number of people reading the BaconLOG and even more amazed by the number of countries from where they emanate. I greatly appreciate those who have left comments, especially the positive ones!
I started this blog while working at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, aka, the House of Pain. NM Damir Studen, 2009 Georgia Chess Champion, for whom the House was a second home, once said, "Everybody reads the BaconLOG!" 'Everybody' being those in our small circle of chess afficionado's who came to the HoP, I suppose. I have moved on and the circle of readers has grown exponentially and now includes readers from several dozen countries. I am truly amazed.
I would like to answer the comment left to 'Flip a Coin' on 3/27/11. There is no need to "feel sorry for that poor younger fellow respectfully looking for some advice about a good book." The fact is that I spent almost an hour talking with the young man, who had a laptop with him. I talked him through my favorite chess related websites, such as the Chess Cafe and Chessbase, and even showed him the USCF website, along with the Kentucky Chess Association website. We spent much time talking about books and the best places to purchase them. You should know that I was grinning when I asked the question that ended the post, and so was he! Our time actually began when the post ended, so to speak. I did not feel it necessary to bore readers with what came next, choosing instead to end the post with what I thought to be a somewhat humorous comment on the dearth of chess books available at a bookstore these days. All my life I have tried to be cordial to anyone who has come to the table when I have had a chess set out. I have always tried my best to be a good ambassador for the Royal game.
As far as doing a 'Just Checking' on myself...There is a certain 'Drifter' back home who would most probably be indignant at the prospect of my doing something reserved for, until now, Grandmasters! I may, though, write of some of my favorite things. For example, after dropping a friend at the airport this morning, I headed to the Cracker Barrel for the new Wholesome Mornin' Sampler, which included, fresh blackberries and blueberries blended in low-fat vanilla yogurt, topped with our honey oat granola mix with almonds served with a fresh-baked blueberry-raspberry muffin, along with eggs, etc. It was extremely difficult to not order the Wild Maine Blueberry Pancakes. Discerning readers should now know my favorite fruit...
I will get to books eventually, but, no, my favorite movie is not Conspiracy Theory, but I do watch Jesse Ventura's show on tv!
I'm sure there are ways to make this a "better blog", but including pictures ain't one of 'em! I am a WORDSMITH! When I paint my masterpiece, it will be with WORDS. I enjoy reading, and hope my readers do, too. There are many wonderful blogs that include pictures. This is not one of them! After discovering GM Kevin Spraggett's fantastic blog, I check it each and every day. I have also gone back to the beginning and am enjoying catching up on what I've been missing. If you want pictures, I suggest you do the same. You can find him at:
As those left behind at the HoP can attest, I can talk baseball until blue in the face, and, on numerous occasions, have! I thank you for your interest, but there are many other blogs devoted to baseball. The only one I check everyday is The Hardball Times ( So many blogs, so little time. Especially when one reads as voraciously as do I. If you have not read the Hardball Times Baseball Annual you might want to check it out. Adjectives like 'superlative' and 'stupendous' come to mind.
That's all for now. Keep those comments coming! I do appreciate them. I just hope the BaconLOG is as good for you as it is for me! (The thing about being a 'wordsmith' is that I do not have to insert one of those smiley faces here to know you have, most probably, got a shit eating grin on your face right about now!)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Best Blog Entry of All Time

Thursday, April 30, 2009
Just how NERDY is chess?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Was Abby Marshall a Prodigy?

There is an article on titled, The Second Place Sex: Why chess may be an ideal laboratory for investigating gender gaps in science and beyond, (
Abby Marshall is quoted in the article, after being called a 'female chess prodigy'. From the article: But as put by female chess prodigy Abby Marshall, accustomed to being a minority in the chess world and recognized for being the first girl to win the national high-school-level chess championship, “Any tournament that isn’t an all-women’s tournament is basically a guys’ tournament.”
Was she ever considered a 'prodigy'? If so, when and where? What constitutes a 'female chess prodigy'? Is a 'female chess prodigy' different from a 'male chess prodigy'? If so, how?
Ms Marshall is quoted in the article, "I don’t think that there’s something that shows that men’s and women’s brains are different in a significant sense."
The young 'prodigy' is simply wrong on this point. The corpus callosum is larger in women than men, leading to speculation that women use much more of their whole brain than men, who seem to be more 'right' or 'left' brain oriented. This is from Wikipedia: "Both neurologist Roger Gorski of the University of California at Los Angeles and author/brain surgeon Leonard Schlain, M.D. have stated that women have 30% more connections to the left and right hemispheres than men." With a quick search of the internet I found this: 10 Big Differences Between Men’s and Women’s Brains (
But this article is the one the young 'prodigy' should read first: Neuroscience For Kids - The Brain: Right Down the Middle, where we find written, "In adults, the average brain weight in men is about 11-12% MORE than the average brain weight in women. Men's heads are also about 2% bigger than women's." We also find this, "The major pathway that connects the right and left cerebral hemispheres is called the corpus callosum. (The corpus callosum is the fiber tract made up of 200-250 million axons that is cut in split brain patients.) Some claims have been made that the corpus callosum is bigger and more developed in women than in men. These claims have even been reported in the popular media (Time Magazine, Jan. 20, 1992, pp. 36-42; Newsweek Magazine, March 27, 1995, pp. 51)."
"Also, The hypothalamus is one area of the brain with well-documented differences between men and women. Two areas of the hypothalamus, the preoptic area and the suprachiasmatic nucleus, have clear differences in female and male brains." You can find this at:
Jennifer Shahade, Author of the fine book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport, weighs in with, “There may be some distinctions between men and women, but they’re really marginal compared to what really matters, and that’s spending a lot of time studying and practicing chess”.
The 'distinctions' between men and women are "marginal?" Really, Jennifer.
Ms Marshall writes a column for the Chess Cafe ( I assume she receives a stipend for writing the column. Her only claim to fame is that she was "the first girl to win the national high-school-level chess championship." I seriously doubt she would be writing the column if she had not won the event. Money is hard to come by in the chess world. The fact that she is writing a column on openings in lieu of a titled player points out one of the things wrong with the world of american chess. There are many Grandmasters who have given their lives to the Royal game who could, no doubt, use some extra money as they advance in years. They have the one thing that cannot be taught, experience. They may not have the energy and stamina to compete with the youngsters writing books and columns these days, but they have something it has taken a lifetime to accrue, that being wisdom.

US Still Being Raped by BP!