Friday, July 29, 2011

The Chess Tournament From HELL!

After mentioning Walter High's new blog on the NCCA website, I received an email telling me to go to the site and read the post on the LPO on the forum, which I did. The first post, by 'blitzchampion' set the tone. "In my 10+ yrs in playing tournament chess, i've had my fair share of bad tournaments, horrible playing conditions, etc. This was by far, one of the worse tournament experiences i've ever had!"
The next post, by 'upandcoming' begins, "Right on target, Josh. As a parent who forked over $100.00 for his son to play in this tournament I expected much better. Instead what I got were reports of kids screaming running up and down the hall, loudness from the pool last night that were terrible distractions during the games, and then today a final round loss when, at the point of being a pawn ahead, loud jukebox music and the sounds of partying from the lounge RIGHT BESIDE the tournament room blew away the focus and concentration necessary for the win."
It gets worse, much worse. The next one, by 'ThrillerFan' begins, "Speaking as one from the Open section, I saw many problems with the LPO this year as well:

1) The swealtering heat in the Open/U2200/U2000 sections. The best room in the hotel was guess where? The book room, where the organizer sat. Figures!
2) The noise in Round 2 - and I hear it was worse practically every round in U1800 and below
3) The horrible lighting in the back of the room where the Open section was. Lighting for boards 1, 2, 5, and 6 was horrible (I was at one of those two tables for rounds 1, 3, and 4).

Responding to previous posts, the organizer of the LPO has a reputation of always advertising a based-on that will result in a 50% payout. If it says "b/215", don't ever expect more than 107 players. It's been that way for years on end. Any time you see "Thad Rogers" as the organizer, when you decide whether or not you want to go, figures half the prize fund, unless he changes his advertisement." He continues with: "I even spoke to Thad and he asked me, since I've been to numerous tournaments, having played almost 1900 tournament games in my lifetime, what needs to be done. I told him the following: 2) The LPO is an adult tournament."
There is a #1, and a #3, and I urge you to read the forum posts, all of them. They had me LOLROTF! (

I would like to concentrate on #2 because there is no longer any such thing as an 'adult' tournament! There are so many children playing and competing for money that, without them, there could be no 'adult' tournaments. For example, I have been giving lessons to a student for the past two years. He takes them because his parents are from Azerbaijan and know the importance of chess to his developing brain. He is homeschooled, and chess lessons are a part of his schooling. He has only a moderate interest in chess, yet he has recently crossed into 900 range, which puts him in the top half of all tournament players in the US. That's right, the majority of current tournament players have ratings of only three digits!!!
And that is a large part of the problem with tournament chess. Consider this from an article in the LA Times:
The average age of chess masters has been steadily falling for years, but recently, that pace has quickened. To win a tournament in Reno last year, Jesse Kraai, a 28-year-old grandmaster from the Bay Area, played four of his six matches against children; the average age was 13.

"Today, you have 7- and 8-year-olds who are training better than Bobby Fischer did a generation before," said David Pruess, content manager for, a global chess website with 3 million members. He holds the international master ranking, one step higher than master and one below grandmaster.

This bounty of prodigal talent has had an unintended side effect: The half-life of a newly minted chess star has shrunk "to a year or two, tops," said Pruess, 29. "It's easy for a kid on his way up, full of confidence bordering on arrogance, to forget that he's become a target for even younger players."

Pruess, in a column last year, detailed his own loss to David Adelberg and good-naturedly warned the youngster that he'd better start preparing "for the 10-year-olds who will soon be coming to get him!"-From

I received an email fom a friend, an adult who happens to also be a Senior, which included the following: "I owe my success to the fact that I didn't get paired against a bunch of kids."
He was truly a lucky fellow. Consider this, from another friend, also an adult Senior: "I lost like a beginner to a little kid this morning. It is hard to take and I think it is the reason most old fellas quit."
It made me wanna cry...
From another email: "The last time I played in a tournament all of my opponents were children. Only one was a teen, and he had just reached the teens at thirteen. I do not feel comfortable playing only children and will wait until I become a senior. That is why I applaud your efforts on behalf of all seniors and future seniors."

I realize there were problems with the LPO this year, and I feel for my friend, and former boss, Thad Rogers. The last post, at this time, is from Thad: Dear Chess Participants,

It was one of my most embarrassing tournaments that I have ever organizer. I am sorry about what happened. I just got back in at 3 a.m. I have a camp in Atlanta this week and getting ready for the
U.S. Open. I will give a full reply this coming Saturday.

Thad Rogers

While on duty at the Atlanta Chess & Game Center, aka, the House of Pain, I had an unfortunate situation when a youngster, in his exuberence, created too much noise, thereby upsetting an adult who was playing in a lower section because he is a career lower section type. It has been expecially difficult for those type of players who remain because they now have to play mostly children. Most stop coming to play. The adult was mad as hell. The child stood up like a man and showed something by making an apology. The adult would not take it and continued to complain until I stepped in saying, "The young man has already apologized, TWICE! He has learned a lesson. How about YOU!" The adult piped down, fortunately. So let's not all continue to beat poor Thad while he is down. I'm sure no one feels worse than does he. Give him a break, and let us all learn a lesson from this. Please. Because as bad as the LPO must have been, it is far from the worst chess tournament of all time. For example, I wrote about the problem of loud music entering the playing hall each time the large, thick doors were opened at the 2002 US Senior on the left coast. Then there is the tournament known as the 'sweat box open' which will long live in infamy. Just ask the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear, and stand back! Fortunately, I missed that one. I missed the 'crack hotel' tournament, too. It was held in a hotel that had seen better days. Parents who had gone 'round back with their children were aghast. Other parents were told to not go near the back under any circumstances. Naturally, they had to go see for themselves...
The Ironman and I played in the Florida state championship one year that was also held in a hotel that had seen far too many spring breaks. I was talkwith a woman who's son was entered into the tournament after having stayed there the night before. When I mentioned that Tim and I had spent the night in the hotel, her eyes enlarged as she began to move away from me...
Ah, the chess road. How I miss it!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Uggla Crosses Mendoza Line!

Last night in a game the Braves took from the Pirates by a score of 2-1 Dan Uggla went 3 for 4 and raised his batting average to .205, thereby crossing the infamous 'Mendoza line', which is .200. The previous game, now infamous because of the blown call at the plate, Uggla went 2 for eight in the 19 inning contest, finishing with a BA of .199. Uggla crossed the line in the 105th game of the season. It is difficult to raise your BA later in the season, so it is obvious Uggla has somewhat righted the ship. Uggla has now hit in eleven straight games, with 14 hits in 50 at bats, which works out to a .280 BA during that time, which is about average for him according to his lifetime BA. He has had two hits in three of those games, and a single hit in the others, so he is not exactly 'on fire'. But it is over one hundred points higher than the .170's he hit for the first 90+ games. He has only drawn four walks during the streak as opposed to his eleven strike outs. Who misses Jeff Francoeur? I was able to watch four straight Braves games over the weekend, staying in because of the unbearable heat, and it became more than a little obvious that their main problem is swinging at balls outta the strike zone. The Atlanta home park is a pitcher's park and it is difficlut to hit it outta the park. Nevertheless, the Braves go up there trying to hit a 3-run homer, with the bases empty. What they need are batters who will work the count and put the ball in play. That is not Uggla's style.
As for the terrible call to end the 19 inning game...Well, the ump had been sweating behind the dish for over six hours. He gets paid the same whether he works two hours, or six. It is only human nature to be, in that position, predisposed to having a 'safe' call in your head, unless you have no other choice. How many times have you heard an announcer say something like, "It's a blow-out, and it's hot as hell, so you know the ump has expanded the strike zone." Then the color man pops in with, "You are so right, Bubba. A batter has got to know that and go up there swinging."
All calls are not the same in baseball. When the count reaches 3-0 studies have proven the umps will call a strike on anything near the plate. It's not right, but that's just the way it is. Deal with it.
Speaking of blown calls...Before the game last night, Sports Center did a countdown of the top ten worst blown calls in baseball. Number one was the infamous Don Denkinger call in game six of the 1985 World Series. Whew, it stunk up the stadium, and the smell still lingers. I was surprised that the non-call from the 1991 World Series when Kent Hrbek slam-dunked Ron Gant off of first base was only rated as the sixth worst of all time. That was not the only terrible call of that World Series. David Justice stumbled coming around third base and was call out for not touching the bag, when the replay clearly showed his toe kicked up white powder from the bag! Memory fails, but I seem to recall a Braves player called out for leaving third base early on a fly ball. Replay showed he did no such thing. It seems that all the bad calls went against the Braves because all of the bad calls DID go against the Braves! Granted, if the right calls had been made, we would not have had the fabulous game seven pitching duel to remember, which some call the greatest game seven in World Series history. Then again, if the Braves had won that Series, as they should have, then there would not be the knock against Bobby Cox, and the Braves, 'under achieved' in that they only one one World Series. Not to mention the 1996 World Series, game three, when the Braves relief pitcher, Nuke LaLoosh, chose that exact time to start 'thinking'. All the while Tim McCarver, the former catcher and one of the best baseball on-air men of all time, was explaining that Nuke should not throw his third best pitch in the situation because, "If you get beat, you wanna get beat with your best." Which was his fastball. Unfortunately, Nuke began to cogitate at that very moment. He was no Butch Cassidy, as the home run by Jim Leyritz proved conclusively. The Braves coulda been the team of the decade. Instead, they became a contender...
With their best hitter, Brian McCann on the DL, the Braves will need Uggla to continue to be average, at least. It's tough when your best hitter wears the 'tools of ignorance', because the probability of injury is so great. Ask the SF Giants.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thanks For The Comments

First, to the reader who left the url concerning Abe Lincoln, thank you; Thank You; THANK YOU! I cannot remember when I've laughed so much! (
A big thank you goes to the person leaving the url ( on my post, 2011 US Senior. I resided in the great state of NC some years ago and was unaware Walter High was writing a blog. I like what he has done in researching attendance over the past year. I know it must have taken him some time. I would like to see more stats like this; for example, a list from each year going back a decade, from 2001-2010. This could be done for the years 1991-2000, since the USCF database begins in 1991. Looking at data like this one can see trends. Speaking of trends, I would like to point out Walter's latest post, The LPO and Problems with Chess Tournaments. I recall USCF Ex Dir Bill Hall writing in an issue of Chess Life magazine something about having to address the problem of losing so many adult members at the US Open meetings. That was a couple of years ago, I think; or was it just last year? I read recently that what we perceive as time does actually speed up as one ages, and that it seems to advance at 2 1/2 times the rate at 60 as opposed to 20.
I am one of those people who print out articles I wish to read in lieu of reading them online. I made the post, King's Game in Queer Street, before actually reading the whole article. As for the comment, I wondered the same thing. I mean, it's rather obvious when it comes to women's chess tournaments. What is to stop a world class GM from declaring he is 'gay' and playing in the event? If he is not homosexual and questioned, he could just say he thought the tournament was for 'happy' people! Do not laugh, I saw a half-page ad in the NY Times by 'gays' in which they decried the fact that younger people today are using the word 'gay' to mean something different from homosexual. I do not know who wrote the article because it is not signed. When I got around to reading the whole thing, I was struck by this sentence, "Chess player is a person who has some aberrations." I was reminded of the time I was on a balcony with my friend Tim Brookshear overlooking the playing area of the World Open before the event, when the Ironman looked at me and said, "Bacon, everyone who comes here to play has had his life altered by chess." Ain't it the truth!
As for the coment about using the ko rule in chess where the pawns can retreat...Well, I see your point. In the Ruy Lopez, when white plays his boshop to b5 and black answers with a6 and white retreats the bishop, black could retreat the pawn and white could move his bishop to b5 once again, thereby drawing the game. But if players really want to make a draw, what is to stop them even without the ko rule? After writing the post I had a dream in which I had a pawn on the seventh rank, and when I moved it to the eight rank and reached for a Queen, my opponent asked, "What are you doing?" I informend him I intended to promote the pawn to a Queen. "You cannot do that," he said. "Why the hell not?" I shot back. "Because it is a knight pawn and you can only promote to a knight."
In my dream one could only promote the pawn to whatever file it was on. Kinda makes the queen pawn more valuable, unless one is about to be mated on the move and has a pawn on the King file. Then one gets a new King!
Concerning Monroi...I've ragged on them for some time, but not in the past few years. It does seem like they have had more than enough time to work out the bugs, does it not? But I gotta say that I REALLY like the feature of producing a copy of the scoresheet, which includes the time taken by both opponents. Every game published should show the time used as it reveals a great deal about the players.
One more thing...Michael Weinreb, who wrote the book, Game of Kings: A Year Among the Oddballs and Geniuses Who Make Up America's Top High School Chess Team, has written a piece on the new Stathead blog at baseball-reference titled, Statis Pro Baseball: An Instruction Manual: The exhausting work of adolescent obsession. (
I, too, played a table-top baseball game when I was young. I sent off for an APBA brochure and learned enough to make my own game. I also made my own football game. My friend who lived across the street, Larry Jones, who was the center fielder on our high school team, would come over and we would spend hours playing on the days it rained. Later I earned enough money to send off for a Negamco baseball game, which, I later learned, was a cheaper version of Big League Manager. Neither Larry or I liked it nearly as much as the game I invented. I have known other chess players who played table-top games as children, including Thad Rogers, who owned a BLM, and Chris Chambers, who was a Strat-O-Matic man. How about you?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Revolutionary Proposal For Chess: Free The Pawns!

Reading the latest from the fantastic website of GM Kevin Spraggett caused me to have an epiphany. His entry is titled: Capablanca on why he lost the world title. (
Kevin has been reading Chess Notes by Edward Winter, #7134 Capablanca explains his defeat by Alekhine. (
Herman Helms asks the former World Champ, ‘’What modification would you suggest?’’
Capa answers,
‘’The board can be changed so as to encompass 100 squares instead of 64. Ofcourse, that would mean the addition of two more pieces and two pawns on each side.’’
It may come to that in the future, but I will not be around to see it. I do, though, have a radical, revolutionary proposal to change the game of chess. It will include no extra pieces, or squares, leaving the game pretty much as it is. But it will radically change the game.
I propose we FREE THE PAWNS! I once heard the Legendary Georgia Ironman say, while giving a lesson at the House of Pain, "I never retreat. I only advance to the rear!"
What better way of advancing to the rear, when necessary, than allowing the pawns to move BACKWARD!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

King's Game in Queer Street?

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making California the first state in the nation to add lessons about gays and lesbians to social studies classes in public schools. He said, "History should be honest," the governor said in a statement Thursday. "This bill revises existing laws that prohibit discrimination in education and ensures that the important contributions of Americans from all backgrounds and walks of life are included in our history books." (
I agree that history should be honest. It is time we recognized cross-dressing head of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover and the homosexual relationship he had with long time number 2 Clyde Tolson, for example.
I thought of this upon surfing an article on the new website, WhyChess. The title of this post is taken from an article on the site of the same title. (
The article begins, "On October 16th, 2010, in the city of Malaga, Spain, there was held the 1st Gay Chess Open Championship (those who don’t hide their names)." The rest you can read for yourself...
I decided to research 'happy' chess and discovered there was a tournament in Torremolinos. The article, Gay chess, as Torre queens take over the world, (, begins: "IN further efforts to attract the pink pound, Torremolinos is holding a gay chess tournament.
With a top prize of 1500 euros, it seems it pays to be gay…and good at chess."
One comment was left by smeone named Juan.
October 11th, 2010 10:09 am

Ridiculous and discriminatory. If I decided to hold a chess tournament (or any other sporting event) and declared “no homosexuals allowed” there would be an outcry.

I also found this in the Campbell Report: (
"In issue three the main topic was Weaver Adams, an other well-known gay chess master..."
As Johnny Carson used to say, "I didn't KNOW that."

I found, The chess games of Alan Turing, at (
It is only one game, but an interesting historical game nevertheless, as it is considered to be, "arguably" it is said, the first computer chess game. Since there was no computer then, it was played with "pencil and paper." The opponent was Alick Glennie and it was a Vienna Game: Falkbeer Variation. Guess who won?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Honest About Abe

Watched the movie 'The Tall Target' on TCM this morning. The star is Dick Powell and the movie is about a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln as he travels on the Ohio & Baltimore Railway to his inauguration in 1861. At the end of the movie the Lincoln character says, "Has any President had to travel to his inauguration like a thief in the night?" I do not know if that is a direct quote from Lincoln, but history records he was considered by many, and not just those from the South, a coward for the way he came to Washington.
Lincoln is considered to be the 16th President of the US, but, in reality the states were not united while he was President, so he should be called the first President of the disunited states.
Because presidential hopeful Michelle Bachman has admitted to having migraine headaches it has been mentioned that Lincoln also suffered from migraine headaches, among his other maladies. Joshua Wolf Shenk wrote a book, Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness, in which he posited that Lincoln's depression made him a BETTER president! Depression is a dibilitating disease. He wants us to believe that Lincoln, unlike every other person who has ever suffered from depression, was made BETTER. The thought defies comprehension.
The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln by C. A. Tripp and Jean Baker, questions Lincoln's sexuality. They write that he shared a bed with different men on NUMEROUS occasions, but then write that he was "forced" to do so because of a lack of beds in those days. Until this book, I had been unaware of such a lack of beds.
Fortunately, some historians are beginning to write truthfully about the real Lincoln. Read the book: The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War by Thomas J. DiLorenzo.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

2011 US Senior

I will admit to being shocked, SHOCKED!, upon reading on the USCF website that 70 players had entered this year's US Senior. The article, Senior Open Underway in Houston, states: "The 71 players, so far, easily surpassed last year’s attendance of 49." (
Then I recalled the last minute addition of a 3-day schedule whereby players could play 3 one hour games at 10am, 12:30pm, 3pm, then merge with the one game a day players for a 'classical' game at the more traditional time control of 40/2, G1. This is happening as I write. Twenty players chose the much shorter time limit. In a few hours those burned-out players will try to complete their FOURTH game of the day! Good luck with that...
The sad fact is that there were no more players at the US Senior this year than last. I find it rather sad that 20 players opted for the 4 rounds in one day format because to play is a way of voting for the format. Future organizers will look at this and see it as a way of 'enhancing' the turnout and opt for more of it. It is a crying shame that someone, anyone, in USCF does not have the BALLS to just say no to these organizers who foist trumped-up games on Seniors!

Just Say No To Monroi

Looking for information on the US Senior on the USCF website, I saw the link to the dreaded Monroi. I regretted clicking on it as soon as I did. Something I read on the website of GM Kevin Spraggett, who has what has to be the most interesting website of any GM, came to mind. He wrote, "Once more MONROI proved to be the wrong medium to host web coverage of leading tournaments. Their site often fails and has bugs that have not been resolved yet." (
I have written much the same, including writing to the Ex Dir of USCF. Since I am not a GM, Kevin's words have much more gravitas than mine! At this time, nothing can beat the DGT board.
There is one feature of Monroi I do like very much, and that is the fact that one can print out a nice scoresheet, which is a great thing for those of us who like to play over the game on a set & board.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hail Viktor!

Dennis Monokroussos reports on his Chess Mind blog that 80 year forever young Viktor Korchnoi has won the chess championship of Switzerland, an amazing feat. (
Christian Bauer actually won the tournament with a score of 7 1/2 out of 9, but he is from France. Andrei Sokolov finished second with 8 points, so Viktor, who actually tallied 6 1/2 points, finished in a large tie for third. Viktor won a playoff with Joe Gallagher, as they had the best tiebreaks.
I have never understood why the champion of a state, or especially a country, would be chosen in an open tournament. I cannot imagine the US Champion being chosen in the US Open by finishing in a tie for third. That has happened several times in the great state of Georgia. I recall David Vest 'winning' the state title once by finishing, along with several others, behind other players from out of state. The new 'champions' finished with 3 1/2 points. Since Mr Vest was also the Georgia State Senior Champion, I told him he must be the only player ever to hold both titles, maybe anywhere. He was not impressed. As a matter of fact, Mr Vest, aka the High Plains Drifter, was deprecatory concerning his 'accomplishment'. I asked him if he would feel differently if he had scored 4 points and he answered, "Not much."
Then I asked how he would have felt if he had scored 4 1/2 points. "Then I would've won the tournament!" Mr Vest never made much of his 'win'. The Same goes for the Legendary Georgia Ironman, Tim Brookshear. He tied with a group one year, also scoring 3 1/2 points to 'win' the title of Georgia champ. I have rarely ever heard him mention the fact. Not so with a fellow named John Austin, who tied with Tim, and others. It was the first thing he said to me, and it is the first thing he says to anyone who will listen. You may recall Mr Austin from a post on the BaconLOG from June of '09, 'Gizmos, etc at the Ga St Championship'. He is the fellow with the ringing cellphone during the round.

Valiant Effort

The wonderful World Cup women from the USofA gave it all they had and I enjoyed watching them play like girls, as Jennifer Shahade would say (Play Like a Girl!: Tactics by 9Queens by Jennifer Shahade), which is a chess book for all you lovers of Megan who have been directed to the BaconLOG. There has been an incredible increase in viewers since I posted I LOVE MEGAN RAPINOE!
Ian Darke, the announcer with the British accent said that when Pia Sundhage, the new coach of Team USA, met her team she played a song on her guitar by none other than Bob Dylan! She played 'The Times They Are A-Changing' and it turned out to be prophetic, as Japan was the first Asian team to win the Women's World Cup. Hats off to that plucky team from a beleaguered land, who withstood the onslaught from the US team in the first half. I still do not believe what I witnessed.
I have fallen in love with the World Cup, especially the women. Sure wish we had the proper kind of football when I was young. I have always had a stronger lower body than upper. I could run like the wind and run all day and night. Those were the days! I believe I would have been a very good footballer. Maybe in my next life...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Chicks Are Complicated

The title comes from a quote by Julie Foudy in an article titled, 'U.S. Goalkeeper Made Quite a Comeback of Her Own' published in the NY Times, July 12, 2011.
“Men are definitely different in that regard,” said Julie Foudy, a former captain of the American team. “Men can say whatever, and go and have a beer afterward. Chicks are complicated..."
While reading an article in the NY Times, 'Daytime Show About Women Isn’t Soap Opera', I came across this:
"Women’s soccer doesn’t always get this kind of respect, even in countries where the sport is revered. To boost male interest in their team, three of the French team players posed nude for a German newspaper this month. The players, arms strategically draped to conceal their nipples, were photographed over the tagline, “Is this how we should show up before you come to our games?"
The British announcer o the World Cup matches mentioned this, saying the publicity had caused ratings or the rench women's team to increase dramatically.
Hmmmm...That made me think of the famous picture of the artist, Marcel Duchamp, playing chess against a nude female opponent. Then a light bulb went off in the BaconHead. Why not publicize women's chess in the US by having the girls play nude? Then there would be four boobies in the picture in lieu of only two as in the Duchamp picture. Dueling boobies!Imagine beautiful nude female chessplayers walking around on camera at the St Louis Chess and Scholastic Center for everyone to behold all over the world! I'm willing to wager a spectacle like that would at least double the adult male membership of USCF! For if women are 'complicated', because no man can ever know what a woman is thinking when she looks at a man, it is well known that every heterosexual man is simple in that when a man looks at a woman, he simply sees her nude, no matter how much she is wearing!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I Love Megan Rapinoe!

I have been fortunate enough to watch all the games played by the wonderful women of the USA football team. Missing the first half, I was in time to watch the second half of the game against Brazil. The game was replayed later on that day, so I tuned in to watch the first half and was so riveted to the action that I watched the second half again! It was hard to believe my eyes the first time, so I was compelled to watch again.
After hearing the story of Megan Rapinoe, I fell in love. For those who do not know the story, Megan lost her starting position before the first game of the World Cup. She took her demotion like a woman and has become a super-sub! I was dissapointed when I did not see her on the field during the first half in the next game against France. I was even more disappointed when I did not see her start the second half. France was all over the exhausted USA squad to begin the second half, but when the coach inserted Megan at the 65 minute mark, her energy gave the team the lift it needed. "Megan came off the bench and changed the game," Coach Pia Sundhage said. A good coach must know exactly what a player is capable of and put them in the right spot to succeed. One article mentioned Megan's "surgically repaired knees." It could be that Coach Pia understands that Megan is better at coming off of the bench than going the distance.
Only one time during my time playing baseball did I not start a game. It was my last year of high school ball and Coach Jackson came to me before the game to inform me that he had decided to insert Jack Nunn into my position. "Now Bacon, you can go to the bench and sulk, or you can lead the chearing section. The team will be looking to you, so decide what kinda man who want to be." I cannot tell you how much it hurt to not start that game. I had to admit that I was in a slump, so I became the most vocal of the benchwarmers. All season the subs had been quite and docile, but now they had a leader. We were behind by a run in the last inning and I put on the 'rally cap' and the team got into it. We got a runner on first and Jack was up. "Bacon," the coach yelled, "grab a bat." Did I! But then I paused... This was a terrible thing for Jack, but I followed the coach's command, realizing the situation called for a bunt and I was the best bunter on the team. The slump did not matter if all I had to do was bunt. Up at the plate I got the sign from coach Jackson. When I read the sign, it was a special play; the swinging bunt! I was to square around as if to bunt while the runner took off for second base, and then draw the bat back and hit the ball into the hole vacated by the enemy second baseman. For a moment I thought I had better call time and ask the coach if I had read his sign right, but thinking that would give the play away, I got in the batter's box. I did exactly as we had practiced and the play worked so perfectly that the ball died before it could get to the rightfielder and the runner on first made third and I wound up on second. A single drove us both in and I scored the winning run. I was mobbed by my teammates, with Jack the first to hug me. After the season was over the team voted for the player that most typlified the '105' spirit, what we all chattered all year, meaning you give that extra effort, 105%. I won the trophy with only one vote not for me, as I had voted for another player. Because it was given to me my my teammates, I will treasure the thought as long as I live.
I have gotten into world cup football so much in the past few decades that I have even read books on the game, the last one being, Chasing the Game: America and the Quest for the World Cup by Filip Bondy. I actually like the women's game better than the men's. As I read the article, Routine Ruse in Men’s Soccer Tumbles Into Women’s World Cup, in the NY Times ( I realized why. The women are more honest than the men!
What we Americans call 'soccer' is called 'football' in the rest of the world, showing how out of step our violent prone society is with everyone else in on this planet. International football is a beautiful game. It is closer to chess, or Go, than the game we call football, which really should be called 'maimball'. We are a violent society and it is reflected in our most popular sport, 'maimball'. I read an article some years ago in which the author posited that there has been a direct correlation between the increasing popularity of 'maimball' and violent crime in our country. If you tune into HLN you will find a countdown clock counting down the hours, minutes, and seconds, until some young woman, who was found not guilty of murdering her daughter, is released from jail. We would have a much better country if the people responsible for that kind of thing would instead insert a countdown clock until the start of the World Cup Championship game between Japan and the USA. I know I'm counting down. How about you?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Was The Fix In?

Upon learning a mistrial had been declared in the Roger Clemens trial due to an error that "Any first year law student would not have made," I thought of one of the most interesting books I've read in the past few years, The Fix Is In: The Showbiz Manipulations of the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and NASCAR by Brian Tuohy. No one who reads the book will ever think of sports in the same way again.
Certainly Bud and the boys at MLB did not want any more negative publicity about raging 'roids and the game of baseball. Absolutely nothing could have been better for Bud and the owners than a mistrial. Makes one wonder...

Nakamura Knocked Out!

The headline reads: Chess wins as Nakamura goes all-in
It seems 'Chris' Nakamura decided to pay his money and take his chances at the WSOP. He made it through the first day...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Defection From Chess

HOWARD Stern has revealed why he ditched chess for photography.

“Chess was becoming an obsession. I felt that after three years as a hobby, I have reached pretty much where I was gonna go. In my dreams, I would start to see chess games. I said, ‘This is not good for me,’ so I took up photography,” he told US TV show Extra.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Chose Ryan Vogelsong for MLB All-Star Team?

Showtime is filming the San Francisco Giants for a series titled, “The Franchise: A Season With the San Francisco Giants." In an article in the Sunday NY Times, A Documentary Team Aims for the Bleachers, (, it is written of the producers: "They’re hoping that Ryan Vogelsong, a journeyman pitcher whose surprising success this season has become a major story line, will make the team. Mr. Oshinsky anticipates emotional moments and dramatic shots — a cut from the manager’s pregame pep talk to Vogelsong’s face — and Mr. Waksman interjects that they need to have a basic plan that includes only what they know will happen. “Assume none of these guys does anything,” he says."
The manager of the SF Giants, Bruce Bochy, managed the NL All-Star squad and he chose Vogelsong for the All-Star team. He has had a fine first half of the season, but does that make him an All-Star? Many players in the history of MLB have had been outstanding in the first half of the season, but did not make the All-Star team. Did Bochy REALLY make the choice, or was he ordered, because of the Showtime series, to add Vogelsong to the team by someone like Bud Selig, Commissioner of MLB?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Becoming a 'Beast'

Some time ago a GM Nigel Davies post, Why Sleep Is Important, appeared in my inbox. (
Later GM Kevin Spraggett, prompted by the earlier post by GM Davies, wrote about sleep on his amazing blog in an entry dated Friday, July 1, 2011. ( Quoting from GM Spraggett, "Clearly getting insufficient sleep will noticeably reduce your reasoning power, which is the chess player's most important weapon in his arsenal. No matter how hard you might want to concentrate, it simply doesn't materialize if you don't have enough sleep. Sleep increases mental energy."
"From my own experience, I have learned that the energy required for a 5-hour game is so great that you need to plan ahead and have reserves of energy ready. The only practical way to do this is to get up within 3 or 4 hours of the game: then you will still be wide awake and ready for the entire day ahead."
GM Spraggett supports my contention that the round time at a US Senior should be at ten or eleven in the morning; noon at the latest. It is a sad fact that the US Senior has never considered the exigencies of the Senior players.
I could not help but think about what the greatest chess player to have ever lived, World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer, said concerning the importance of sleep. He said something about a good night of sleep being more important than knowing all the theory.
Some years ago there was a picture taken before the last round of all of the participants in the South Carolina Senior who had not left for home except for yours truly. I had fallen asleep in the car after eating lunch. It seems like yesterday I played in the Point Lounge Open after staying up all night. I won my first two games before losing to the future NM Joe Jurjevich in the third round Saturday night. I would not even consider attempting such a thing at my age. Just as well blindfold me and put me in front of the firing squad...
I drove a taxi at night for Buckhead Safety Cab back in the 80's. I was like a vampire, going to sleep when the sun was coming up. I tried taking a few days off to readjust my schedule before playing in the some of the larger tournaments a few times. That did not turn out well because I would feel sleepy while trying to play during the day, then come alive at night when I should be sleeping! My results showed it, too.
Winston Churchill recommended a nap after being awake about eight hours. He advised one to take off his clothes and get in bed for half an hour, and only half an hour. He said it was like having two days, and, during the War, he needed it. I try to do exactly that these days because it often feels like a tsunami wave of fatigue overcoming me in the afternoon. After a nap I have a cuppa java and feel somewhat rejuvenated. The truth is that my energy level is about half of what it was after my first cuppa joe in the morning, but at least I can still function. Once one of those tsuanmi waves rolls over me, I am weak and worthless without a nap.
The way chess tournaments are scheduled is not conducive to obtaining enough sleep. The days of grabbing a biggy burger and cramming it down my gullet between rounds are, thankfully, behind me. Beginning a game a few hours before my sleep period and trying to play while my body is trying to shut down is out of the question. Yet, to play chess, even in Senior tournaments, these are the kind of things one must do in order to play. If you think about it, these kinds of things take the fun right out of chess.
Thinking about this kind of thing, I came to the realization that if one breaks down my day into four equal parts, morning, afternoon, evening, and night, of about four hours each, then one could say that I am, in chess terms, an expert in the morning, class 'A' in the afternoon, class 'C' in the evening, and become a 'beast' at night, dropping into the dreaded triple digits! Knowing that, under those circumstances one would have to be a fool to begin a five hour game of chess at the time one is becoming a 'beast'.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

USCF US Senior Hyperbole

In an article, U.S. Junior & U.S. Senior Opens Headline Houston Chess Festival, that has just been posted on the USCF website (, it is written, concerning entries for the US Senior, that, "The early entries have already exceeded the attendance for last year’s event."
I clicked onto the site given, (, and counted 43 pre-entries. "That's funny," I thought to myself, thinking that, since I have written about Senior chess for some time now, I recall there were only 49 players at the event last year. So I went to the USCF crosstable at: (, and found I was correct. They need 7 more players to exceed last years total. I sincerely hope they make it. I am amazed that such a large number have already signed up to play. I would not play if paid to do so. As I have written previously, seven o'clock central time is eight o'clock to my eastern time zone body, and I will not consider begining a classical chess game of five hours duration at eight pm. I turn in around eleven these daze. It is terribly difficult to try and play good moves when ones body is crying for sleep. It is, at my age, simply out of the question.

Chess & Baseball

The question of the month on the US Chess Trust website is: Where Do You Place Fischer On The List of Greatest Players Ever?
The President of the US Chess Trust, Jim Eade answers the question by writing, "Just for my own amusement, I tried to think about which baseball pitcher I would pair with which player..."
Guess which former MLB pitcher Jim pairs with Bobby?
He also writes: "I, personally, rate Karpov just a bit above Fischer." When you stop laughing, consider which former pitcher Mr. Eade thinks of as a baseball version of Karpov.
The one that made me laugh out loud while rolling on the floor (Bet you didn't think an old(er) guy like me could tweet, now did you? Are you now LOLROTF?!) was the former chess player he pairs with Gary Kasparov. Come to think of it, Jim may have something, there...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

In A League By Himself

Last night Dan Uggla hit a home run and a double, and also walked twice, getting on base all four times he came to the plate, probably a first for the season. He raised his batting average all the way up to .178, which is still lowest, by far, of all regular players in the majors. He raised his on base percentage to .250, which is pitiful, by any standard. The Braves no-brain trust hope, no doubt, that last nights versus the Rockies signal a 'return to form' for the beleaguered player.
There is a new article on the excellent Hardball Times website today titled: The 2011 All-Collapse All-Stars

Most of the players who made the 'team' are 30 or older. The only exceptions are the 28 year old third baseman of the Brewers, Casey McGehee, and the 27 year old relief pitcher (called 'closer' for some unknown reason), Joakim Soria of the Royals. Relief pitchers are notorious for being great one year and stinking up the bullpen the next. This is in line with a study appearing in AGE, the official journal of the American Aging Association: Athlete Atypicity on the Edge of Human Achievement: Performances Stagnate after the Last Peak, in 1988 (
The study makes a case that performance peaks from 20 to 30 years of age, then declines irreversibly. This is in line with what is known about the amount of time spent on the disabled list by baseball players.
There is a nice picture of the Uggla player at the end of a swing. The caption reads: "At least he looks good swinging through this pitch."
The last sentence of what is written about him is, "Uggla is in a league by himself with this year’s collapse."
His collapse is one of epic proportions. It may be the worst of all time.

Monday, July 4, 2011


The Yankees vs Mets game was supposed to begin at one pm Sunday. Imagine my surprise when I sat down to eat a sammy at 2:30 and found the game about to begin. R.A.Dickey was the starting pitcher for the Mets. Most all baseball fans know his story. He was drafted by Texas and about to sign a $800,000 bonus when one of the trainers notice something funny about the way Dickey's arm was hanging on the cover of Baseball America. Upon exaimination, the doctor found R.A. was born without the ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He signed for $75,000. Basically, it cost him a zero. He made it to the show by learning to throw a knuckleball.
Phil Kniekro was my favorite Brave for many years. I loved to watch him pitch because he threw the knuckleball. I enjoyed watching the best hitters flail away at Knucksie's flutterball without making contact. Twice he won 20 games for the Braves, and twice he lost 20. In 1979 he won 21 and lost 20! You have got to be real good to win and lose 20 games in one season. Phil is in the Hall of Fame. In 1977 he pitched in 330 innings. The next year he topped that by pitching in 334 innings. In 1979 he pitched in 342 innings. These days it would take two starting pitchers to pitch that many innings. Having met Phil, I liked him so much that I even pulled for him when he signed with the Damn Yankees! I would pull for Phil to pitch 6 or 7 good innings, keeping his team in the game, and then turn it over to the bullpen, when I hoped the relief pitchers would get bombed! Hey, that's the best I can do when it comes to the Damn Yankees...
R.A. met 'Knucksie' a few years ago and Phil gave him some advice, "No matter where it goes, never let the batter know it didn't go where you wanted it to go."
Earlier this year R.A. came down with a case of plantar fasciitis. It is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia, which is the thick connective tissue which supports the arch of the foot. I, too, have it, unfortunately. I purchased some Dr. Scholls inserts which has allowed me to walk with much less pain. Unfortunately, the foot will become painful later after walking.
R.A. got a base-hit in the game, which turned out to be the worst thing that could have happened to him, as he had to leave the game later after running the bases. It would have been better for him if the game had been played in Yankee Stadium, under AL rules with the Dreaded Hitter batting for the pitcher. Although R.A. did not get the win, the Mets did beat the Damn Yankees. Any day the Damn Yankess lose is a good day!

Sunday, July 3, 2011


In the year 1863 this was the last day of the battle at Gettysburg. It has been called a turning point and the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. Over the three day battle, enough men were killed and wounded to fill a modern day sports stadium. There was only one civilian casualty: Jennie Wade, who was hit by a stray bullet that passed through her kitchen wall and killed her while she was baking bread.
Most people know a little about what happened at Gettysburg during the three day battle, but few know of what came after. In what has become known as one of the greatest feats in warfare, General Robert E. Lee led the successful retreat from Gettysburg.
For those who would like to know move I suggest the book, Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign by Kent Masterson Brown. About the book from Amazon: In a groundbreaking, comprehensive history of the Army of Northern Virginia's retreat from Gettysburg in July 1863, Kent Masterson Brown draws on previously untapped sources to chronicle the massive effort of General Robert E. Lee and his command as they sought to move people, equipment, and scavenged supplies through hostile territory and plan the army's next moves.
More than fifty-seven miles of wagon and ambulance trains and tens of thousands of livestock accompanied the army back to Virginia. The movement of troops and supplies over the challenging terrain of mountain passes and despite the adverse conditions of driving rain and muddy quagmires is carefully described, as are General George G. Meade's attempts to attack the trains along the South Mountain range and at Hagerstown and Williamsport, Maryland. Lee's deliberate pace, skillful use of terrain, and constant positioning of the army behind defenses so as to invite attack caused Union forces to delay their own movements at critical times.

Brown concludes that even though the battle of Gettysburg was a defeat for the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee's successful retreat maintained the balance of power in the eastern theater and left his army with enough forage, stores, and fresh meat to ensure its continued existence as an effective force.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Great Moodini

When one escapes from a hopeless position in chess, he is called a 'Houdini'. What is this player called when things do not go as planned and he snatches defeat from the jaws of victory? I would like to suggest a new term be added to the lexicon of chess terms for such a situation-Moodini! That's right, henceforth I would like to hear players wandering around shaking their heads, if not beating them against a wall, while muttering, "I am the Great Moodini!" When asked, "How did you do?", the player who has just lost a completely 'won' position will answer, "I pulled a Moodini."
To better understand why I suggest 'Moodini' as the term for such poor play, I suggest you go to your favorite search engine and input, The Great Moodini, or watch this video:

Can It Get Any More Uggla?

Last night the manager of the Braves, Freddie Gonzalez, inserted Dan Uggla, into the sixth spot in the batting order, right behind Freddie Freeman. Dan struck out swinging the first three times up. The third strikeout was a double play because Freeman, who had walked, was caught stealing at second base. The next batter, Alex Gonzalez, hit a deep drive to LF for a double. McLouth was walked intentionally to bring up the pitcher, Jair Jurrjens, who struck out to end the inning. So far this year the Braves have stolen 25 bases, and have been caught trying to steal the same number of times. For a steal attempt to be considered successful, the steal must be made at least 75% of the time. The Braves are not a fast team. They have made an inordinate number of outs on the bases this year, and the manager just compounds things when he sends a runner. With a black hole in whichever spot the manager places Uggla, and the mistakes on the bases, the Braves still win, in spite of one of the truly bad managers to have ever managed a team.
The last time at bat it got even uglier as Uggla took a called third strike.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dreaded Hitter

I think I would like Bill James. I have read most everything he has writtn on the game of baseball. That does not mean I agree with everything he has written, though. What he does is make me think.
He once wrote that he believed the desiginated hitter made the game MORE complicated for the manager! Go figure...As far as I'm concerned, he could not be more wrong.
Chris Welch, the 'color' man on the Reds broadcasts, during a discussion on the DH during the game between the Reds and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, on 6/28/11, said this about the AL: "You can sleepwalk and manage at the same time in this league."
My sentiments exactly. The AL is simply not real baseball. As far as I'm concerned, there is only one league, and that is the league in which the pitcher steps up to the plate with a piece of lumber in his hands! When a game is played in which someone hits but does not take the field, it is only an exhibition game. Hey, you've got your world view, and I've got mine!

How Baseball Has Changed

Wednesday afternoon at Wrigley Field in the windy city, Chicago. The Cubs faced off with the defending World Champs, the San Francisco Giants. What a game it was! I remember reading somewhere about a guy who was dying. Someone asked him what he would miss about life, and one of the things he mentioned was "...being able to watch a meaningless mid-season baseball game." I had the opportunity of doing just that and availed myself of the pleasure wednesday afternoon. The Cubs faced off with the defending World Champs, the San Francisco Giants. What a game it was!
The Freak, Tim Linecum took the mound for the guys from the left coast, while Ryan Dempster started for the Cubbies. It turned out to be a pitcher's duel. The Cubs scored one in the bottom of the seventh and that was it until the ninth, as Dempster retired twenty in a row at one point. Pat Burrell led off with a double in the top of the ninth and...out comes the manager of the Cubs, Mike Quade. Dempster had only thrown 83 pitches, far below the usual century mark managers use as a standard these daze. I could not believe my eyes when he brought in a relief pitcher! "My god man," I thought, "this can't be happening!" I could hear Tim McCarver in my mind talking about what Bob Gibson would've said to the manager back in the day if he had been dumb enough to try and take the ball out of Gibson's hands at this point of the game. Hell, I can't imagine Leo Durocher coming out in 1969 to try and relieve Ferguson Jenkins, the Cubs HOFer who completed 23 of the 42 starts he made that year. Used to be a game like that belonged to the starting pitcher, and WE LIKED IT THAT WAY!
Now the namby-pamby spoiled pitchers only pitch every fifth day and are expected to go only six innings for a so-called 'quality start'. Now the hurlers are considered to be over-worked if they throw more than 200 innings a season. Back in '69 Fergie Jenkins hurled 311. His teammate Bill Hands took the mound for 300, while the #3 starter, Ken Holtzman, pitched 261, which would lead MLB these crazy, hazy, daze...
The relief pitcher allowed the man on second to score, but shut the Giants down and the Cubs scored to win the game. So the so-called 'closer', Carlos Marmol got credit for blowing a save opportunity and also winning the game. Who said baseball was fair?
Speaking of fair...The Braves manager, Freddie Gonzalez, has inserted the worst hitter in the major leagues, Dan Uggla, whose stats are truly ugly, into the #2 spot in the batting order, to "try and get him going." What he ought to do is get him going to the minor leagues! I read somewhere that the most important batting order position in relation to scoring runs was the second spot. I recall it because I was so surprised. I would not have guessed it, and I don't miss much in my beloved game of baseball. For some time, the manager was putting Uggla in the spot behind the rookie first baseman, Freddie Freeman. When Freeman got hot, nothing would come of his base hits because he had a desiginated out batting right behind him. Dan became a real ugly rally killer. The manager has begun to place Freeman in the clean-up spot in the lineup, which is as smart as putting Uggla in the two hole. A batter with the kind of rotten stats that Uggla has should, if in the lineup, be batting eight, unless, that is, there is a good hitting pitcher! Then he should be batting last. Freddie should take a page out of Tony LaRussa's book and hit him ninth. Maybe Uggla would pull a 'Hor Hey' and refuse to play. The Braves could then unload the guy without having to pay him the Big Bucks they owe him. Hey, it's worth a shot...
How is it that these over-priced ballplayers have come to feel entitled? I mean, why should someone like Derek Jeter, who only plays a game, be able to afford a mansion that has come to be called 'St. Jetersburg'? Many millions are out of work and it is only getting worse. I sometimes think we would be better off if, like in the movie, Doctor Zhivago, the people would rise up and take over houses like that and move many families into it. How is it that the owners can afford to pay these players so much money? They can afford it because, for a generation, the politicians have gotten into bed with the owners and stuck WE THE PEOPLE with paying for the new stadiums. Read the chapters on George W. Bush and how he came to own the Texas Rangers, and on George Steinbrenner, in the book, Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense (and Stick You with the Bill) by David Cay Johnston. I have read probably far too many books on the business of baseball. I am currently reading: Hot Stove Economics: Understanding Baseball's Second Season by J. C. Bradbury, after having read his first book: The Baseball Economist: The Real Game Exposed. Both are highly recommended. These books, and others, detail just how far in the slimy politicos and owners have stuck it in us. Could it be time for WE, THE PEOPLE, to start sticking back?