Archive for June, 2010

Kindred’s Special: Ontario Volunteer Fire Department – 103 Years of Service

June 29, 2010

We have a deeply committed volunteer group of highly motivated personnel who make up our town fire and emergency on call community service. It isn’t unusual to see quick response to area needs whenever and whereever the need arises. Every year requests go out in the mail to the Ontario residents and the response to the financial needs of the department is met wholeheartedly. 1907-2010 is a long time and many changes have occurred both in growth and in the vast improvements in hardware to meet every potential alarm call to duty. I thought you might enjoy a bit of poetry titled CALL WAITING from a Firefighter’s Wife that goes like this:

I’m layng in the darkness, I cannot fall asleep. I wonder where my husband is, I wish he’d call or beep. I saw him leave this morning, the black boots on his feet. He said he had run now, and I know he’s on the street. You’ll know him when You see him, his truck is very loud. He has no time to stop now, he doesn’t want a crowd. A caller said, “Please hurry!” Come quickly if you will. A young man with motobike is laying very still. A mother calls in anguish, her child limp and blue. HURRY! Come,I need you! I don’t know what to do. I hear his key turning, he’s coming in the door. I hear him drop his boots, then footsteps on the floor. I hear him in the kitchen, I can tell from his walk, He’ll soon come and wake me, and ask if we can talk. We’ll sit out in the moonlight, and listen to the night. He talks about a shooting, a streetgang in a fight. A car crash, a drowning, a small child hurt at play. The things he needs to talk about, the things he did today. The old, the sick, the injured, some so very small. He did all he could to help them, he answered every call. Every day he has a mission, he knows it in his heart. He does everything he can and always does his part. If you are sick or injured and you need to reach my Hon, I can tell you how to reach him, his number is… 911.

Kindred’s Special: If You Must Attack, please be stubborn.

June 26, 2010

Recently I pointed out that Bobby Fischer employed the KING’S GAMBIT on 3-occasions and scored 3-0, referring to my article on THE AMERICAN CHESS QUARTERLY. Fischer played 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4 whereas his “Bust of the King’s Gambit” was based upon the 3.Nf3 variation. During his development, Fischer did a study of many historic battles and in another article where he named the 10 greatest players in chess history picking both Morphy and Staunton among them which drew criticism from the modern chess elite, he defended Staunton inclusion based upon his modern approach to the opening where he said Staunton would have fared quite well in a match with Morphy and the result would be closer than most believed. He based that upon the modern understanding of the chess position of Staunton and said he believed Morphy had some difficulty handling those types of positions. Of course Fischer was always seemingly under the gun for his comments that often came in off-the-cuff remarks but this was a written article. As I said once, perhaps Fischer was referring to those who were giants in their era and whose contributions went beyond just the game play. Certainly in that case, Howard Staunton was a giant and leading player in England.

Lets return to those days and take a look at one of the chess stars of that period, namely here 1845 chess dual, game 2, of the match between Daniel Harrwitz and Adolf Anderseen in which Harrwitz as white essayed the King’s Gambit offer and Anderseen accepted the challenge as defender.

1.e4  e5  2.f4  exf4  3.Bc4  Qh4+ 4.Kf1

A necessary move because on 4.Ke2 is met by ..Qg4+ and the spicey looking 4.g3 ? fxg3 5.Qf3 g2+ 6.Ke2  setting up a neat trap as …gxh1(Q) 7.Qxf7+ Kd8 8.Qxf8 mate. But the spoils of war can turn on a turn and so it does here with the very nice  shot …gxh1(N)+!!  A cute way of saying Q-promotion is not always best!

4. … Bc5

I don’t like this move and a player of Anderseen’s strength makes me wonder why he would play it instead a more adventureous counterattack directly in the center with …d5!? Now, white proceeds to achieve a tempo gain and establish a strong pawn center which is a main goal of King Gambit lines. Was it to say to Harrwitz, “I can play a move known to be bad and create a worry for you that I have found an improvement for the defense.” Or, could he simply be hoping for a blunder like 5.Nf3 Qxf2 mate?

5.d4  Bb6  6.Nf3  Qe7  7.Nc3

After 7.Bxf4 Qxe4 8.Bxf7+! (see my article on the f7 square inherent weakness.) ..Kf8  9.Bg3 Nh6 10.Nc3 gaining a square count advantage.

7. … Nf6  8.e5 !? Nh5  9.Nd5

The logical followup to 8.e5. Now the question is where does the Queenie go? She is in a tight box that hinders her power.

9. … Qd8  10.g4

Exciting chess! Harrwitz starts action that disables Black from hoping to castle.

10. … fxg3  11.Bg5 

Again square count and noting Capablanca’s “combining development” theory expressed in his book CHESS FUNDAMENTALS.  Note how the idea of SqCt aids the player to find good moves.

11. … f6  12.exf6  gxf6  13.Ne5  O-O  14.Qxh5!!

Harrwitz is interested only in crushing Anderseen’s sheepish play. And his stubborness in pursuing this makes this example of the KG Accepted variation in that era truly spirited.

14. …fxg5+ 15.Nxf6+  Kg7

Suddenly Black finds the monarch almost without clothes. Harrwitz shuts the door on the King’s mobility.

16.Qxh7+ Kxf6

Never resign while there is a hope of salvation through the infamous “blunder” escape.  Now, 17.Qg6+ would be met by 17…Ke7+.

17.Ng4 checkmate!!!

Daniel Harrwitz was a European master, just one of whom Staunton referred in his letter inviting Morphy to visit Europe where he would meet the chess elite of the day. Excellent books of Morphy’s chess adventure to Europe have always been in fashion and are popular even today. Frances Scott Keyes wrote a fictional book THE CHESSPLAYERS that gives life to a period of chess heroics and captures the spirit of the times in Morphy’s life. She bought the Morphy estate where he lived until his death and was an excellent author.

One of my correspondents asked me how I viewed the likes of the Morphy era with that of today in terms of chess quality. I think it is like trying to compare oranges and apples or pecans and walnuts. The availability of, let alone the rarity of such published literature, and the travel requirements so vastly different as well as playing conditions (see my articles on the Staunton-St. Amant match) is difficult as a judgment call. For example, the whole of the Russian crowd or former USSR players had access to coaching, sharing analysis, playing regularly in top competive contests that kept and sharpened their game and or added much to theory. Bobby Fischer on the other hand rose to the top through many tournaments in the United States and rapidly improved his game by sheer desire to achieve his dream of someday returning the world crown to America. He basically achieved this through literature from the Soviets as well as competitions in the leading tournaments in the USA and participation in foreign events where he had the opportunity to test his skill among the best in the world. No matter what people think about Fischer, he did it alone, his way, and with a spirit that accepted rarely nothing but victory and pressure applied to his opponents. As he once said, “I like to see’m squirm!”

Today many top notch players exist and the elite continues to grow. Talent abounds. In the era of Staunton, Morphy, Harrwitz and Anderseen, the styles were strictly fighting chess where gambits and sparkling attacks ruled the day. One reason for this was the fact that many of these games were played with onlookers watching and games that ended in sharp attacks or brilliant moves saw coins tossed on the board as reward for such brilliance. Perhaps the fact that so many gambits ruled the spirit of combatants in those days was for that very reason. Whereas playing conditions today more or less limit onlookers close to the boards and players, years ago onlookers often surrounded the table of favorite players. The time clock changed the conditions as well over the years.

Truth be told, Paul Morphy was perhaps the most gifted player in the world. Had he lived in modern times of the Fischer “boom” and having access to all the modern weaponry available to achieve tournament preparation, he would be on par with Fischer, Spassky, Karpov, Kramnik and Kasparov. That most likely would also be true of his own peers.

Kindred’s Special: The Art of Correspondence Chess–the CCLA Way

June 22, 2010

WHAT HAS SIZE TO DO WITH THE VALUES ONE MIGHT PLACE ON A CHESS ORGANIZATION? For most I would say value is placed on the number of members and tournaments, the size and frequency of literature and explanation of rules and procedures that enable especially new players but also refreshing those of established members of current policy. In past columns I have touched upon the positive merits of THE CORRESPONDENCE CHESS LEAGUE OF AMERICA (CCLA) and can affirm the integrity and the leadership qualities possessed within that organization, the skill of and friendliness of its membership, and quality of both published games, annotations, and further on the occasional articles devoted the opening, middle or endgame. I have been a member since 1958, served as editor for a 3-year period (1966-8) filling in until a permanent editor could be found and lst Vice President on one of the most active Boards having insight and quality leadership at every level and some really good membership suggestions. It was a team effort where brainstorming and ideas were fully aired. For many years Dick Rees (who was quite handicapped) did an excellent job although tended to be overprotective of his position as Secretary; he was followed by Jerry Honn, a very strong player as well as a great administrator. Jerry retired but continues to play in CCLA. CCLA success was continued with quality leadership through all these years.The magazine THE CHESS CORRESPONDENT was the forerunner of Reuben Fine’s treatise IDEAS BEHIND THE CHESS OPENINGS. His openings and explored ideas were first seen in it’s pages and in those days CCLA was bigger than the US Chess Federation, The two merged but eventually USCF to appease Al Horowitz of CHESS REVIEW decided to devote its full energies to overtheboard chess. At that time, CHESS REVIEW (the picture magazine) was America’s most popular chess magazine with over 11000 readers. What was most important is– that commercial magazine was sold on newsstands as well as through subscriptions.

I just got my hard copy for April-June 2010, vol.83. no. 2. The article under the title: CCLA Server Play FAQ, covers a host of questions and answers that is relevant to any chess enthusiast wishing to play or refresh policies and rules. If you are a CCLAer right now, no problem, but if you are not and want to join or get info, the president to contact is: Herbert Hickman. The mailing address is: CCLA, P. O. Box 142, Livingston, NJ 07039-0142. I encourage you to visit the website www.chessbymail.com and happy chess adventures await you!

Some of the upcoming tournaments are, 19th U.S. Correspondence Chess Championship (July 1, 2010).  CCLA Women’s Championship (July l, 2010).  A full listing of all tournaments are on the tournament schedule of CCLA. Update schedules as they apply.

For some years now I have been inactive in cc play due to family illness,  falling off a roof, having physical problems, etc. I started two tournaments but had to withdraw so as not to make my opponents suffer unduly. It would have been too much for me to fully observe the rules of cc play. I hope to return to active play should I find the time. I am not supposed to sit for long periods without exercising my limbs since I rely upon my brain as my main source of chess skill. Sitting at the board these days is not the cup of tea I need!

Take my word for it: CORRESPONDENCE CHESS WILL HELP YOU IMPROVE  ALL ASPECTS OF YOUR GAME SKILL.

Kindred’s Special: USCF Executive Board Candidates

June 19, 2010

ALAS, I THROW UP MY HANDS IN DISGUST. Today I opened a circular from USCF with listed tournament announcements and a page on which to vote for three listed candidates with no comments or who these folks are or what they represent. NICE GOING USCF!! List of three USCF members seeking to sit on this ailing board are: Gary Walters, Sam Sloan and Mike Nietman. I have no axe to grind with two, either Mr. Walters or Mr. Nietman because I have not heard from USCF and cannot get into the Chess Life on line magazine as of this writing. However, I have received a rather thorough lists of reasons to support Mr. Sam Sloan.

Committee to Elect Sam Sloan to the USCF Executive Board–VOTE for Sam Sloan –Restore Chess Life; Restore Chess Life for Kids; Guarantee the Printed Magazine to Life Members; Restore the USCF to what it Once Was.

Here are some of the key points brought up by Sam Sloan :

  1. Chess Life covers are horribly bad selections as are some of the photos inside on articles;
  2. Losses continue due to poor management decisions. Two bailouts  avoiding financial ruin were bequests by wealthy life members who had died and one this year who lives in St. Louis, Mo. Mr. Sloan asks just who will bail us out next time?  Without such bailouts, USCF would cease to exist and have to declare bankrupcy or cut to the bone;
  3. Now that services are b eing cut, membership is down to the lowest level in over 30-years;
  4. The Board ignores discussions with the membership, keeping everything under the covers; minutes are not prepared nor posted.

Mr. Sloan is a publisher of chessbooks and he relates that sales are high. Somewhere there is a disconnect.  1995 Mr. Sloan served on the Board and it was the only year they made money and membership grew.

Four former USCF Presidents have drafted a joint motion to force the Board to stop losing money??!! Since when does such joint or any motion in USCF ever amount to the ink on the paper?

Personally I do not know these presidents mentioned: LeRoy Dubeck, E. Steven Doyle, Tim Redman; my personal correspondence with Beatrice Marinello was a gift to The Chess Trust. When I was involved heavily in USCF as a Region II Director for 11-years,  I had close ties with Reinhart, VP Dr. Marchand, Jerry Spann and Col. Ed Edmonson, all of whom led USCF during the “GRASS ROOTS ERA”.  These leaders led USCF in slow steady growth without the aid of the Fischer Boom years.  Each dealt wisely with finances. With the Fischer Boom and burst of huge membership increases especially among kids, USCF sat back and reaped the rewards without worrrying about the conditions that saw that junior memberships would eventually hurt finances unless governed carefully. USCF went wild with their generosities.

Some of my earlier articles dealt with my personal disgust with USCF and some local Rochester leaders that came on the scene after I stepped down from organizing and serving otherwise the local chess public.

Frankly I do not know if I should vote at all. Candidates in the past have often looked at it as a reward for service with no real understanding of the needed work to accomplish positive results.

Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: The Growing Folly in USCF and Chess

June 18, 2010

During the 1950s the US Chess Federation had a small membership until it started the magazine CHESS LIFE and some of its young stars like William Lombardy, Larry Evans, the Bryne brothers, Donald and Robert, Abe Turner, came on the scene to bolster the greats of the past and living legends of Fine, Horowitz, Marshall, Reshevsky, Kashdan, Santasiere, etc. Despite the low number and a phony Life Membership plan pushed by Col. Ed Edmondson to raise fast cash in the ridiculous price of $100 for which I was chastised for questioning as being sorley inadequate for a longterm lifespan. After all the USCF had hired a marketing firm to tell us what was a decent plan. Their calculation was that people would not have any interest for chess beyond a 10-year period. Lots of money doled out to reach such a conclusion was the beginning of a board and executive dreamworld that led to multi-years of losses and it continues even today with only bailouts by rich folks but as Sam Sloan says, how long will bailouts be forthcoming from members or supporters? And some of the decisions made the last couple years has caused many to consider dropping out. As a Life Member, I cannot seem to get any response from their headquarters but will try to telephone them at their number 800-903-8723. Will they respond to tonight’s e-mail?

Kindred’s Special: A Remembrance of a great magazine THE AMERICAN CHESS QUARTERLY

June 17, 2010

Not many today in the American chess community probably remembers or cares about The American Chess Quarterly,  founded by GM Larry Evans.  It was published from 1961-1965, having a joyful experience for readers  of 16-issues ,  English Descriptive Notation which was the common language of chess notation in America during that period.  Most famous of course was the article written by Bobby Fischer which he called A BUST TO THE KING’S GAMBIT that featured lines starting after 1.P-K4 P-K4  2.P-KB4  PxP 3.N-KB3. Fischer’s analysis led many ardent King Gambiteers to challenge his findings by submitting analysis of their own that questioned the  conclusion. Fischer himself later played 3-games featuring 1.P-K4 P-K4 2.P-KB4 PxP 3.B-B4 which he won with White. Much has been made of this as the principle  remembrance of this wonderful publication that sold for under $3.00  for annual subscription. It was meant for young people and it was Larry Evans hope to reach millions of American youth and adults alike to popularize the game. There were many games and articles written; a regular column by Fred Wren he called THE WOODPUSHER.  So famous and well received was this column that Fred Wren became known affectionately as “The Woodpusher”. While the magazine had a relatively short run of only 16-issues, 4-issues a year, it left a lasting and favorable impression on me. The fact that Fischer chose it to print his article on the King’s Gambit attests to his own admiration for Larry Evans and THE AMERICAN CHESS QUARTERLY.

Kindred’s Special: What Value or Good Comes From Money

June 14, 2010

I do not belong to the faith of a very good friend who happens to be a Catholic priest. After a pleasant meal and evening of good conversation, we proceeded to take a stoll, visiting the shoreside of my pond/lake. Somehow the conversation came to his hopes and dreams for his homeland Kenya. He related how he was in the process of building a much needed school for his community. His sincerity and hopes in some manner forced my hand into search out my wallet and I gave him a generous cash gift toward his goal. Now, you may dispute the wisdom of reducing my life savings on a whim of a prayerful priest and friend. Some months past with his travels to Kenya and working on the project. He sent me a picture of the school and the wall he captured in the photo was my “gift”.

The spirit of the Lord works in mysterious ways. I have often thought about the potential comparison of that deed and transaction. On the one hand, I could be a little financially better off; in reality, it boosted my spirit and genuine joy to have been a part of his dream, his school, his people. That enriched my life that no money could equal.

When I think about chess and the years of help and inspiration to others as a servant at a time when chess was on the lowest of scales as a sport and organization infantile in America, the oft praise given students and players who possessed skill in handling a battle being my main concern, I am reminded of the many who came to play for enjoyment and challenge of a good fight. The elite will have their reward. I was told that I wasted my time that was better spent on honing my own skill and playing in tournaments with a set goal to achieve mastership. I may have achieved it but it would have left a void in my heart that serving others brought riches to my spirit and accomplishments far greater than any title or chasing the rainbow for the rainbow’s sake.

I applaude those who desire to achieve success in chess and there is nothing wrong with aspiring to mastership of our noble game. Such skill and success among a few I have known proved transitory in nature and a personal memory and interest often waning with age. While I have had some wonderful chess battles from the time of my youth to this old gray head of 72, the lasting joy has come from chess service and aid in governance and leadership.

Kindred’s Special: My Financial Interest in America—A chessplayer’s perspective (Part 4)

June 12, 2010

 The Federal Reserve System, the end product of the National Monetary Commission and founded by President Woodrow Wilson has bit the nose of TV journalist Glen Beck recently terming it the start of the Progressive Movement which he rightly or wrongly interprets and lays at the feet of President Wilson as being a major flaw in the modern era of governance and political skullduggery. It is difficult to fully understand in our modern times the effects of this commission which introduced the Aldrich Bill that provided for the establishment of a weak central bank named the National Reserve Association with its main office in Washington, DC overseeing 15 banks scattered in various parts of the country. The crux of it was that the Association carried a portion of funds from those banking reserves, determine discount rates and issue currency based upon gold and commercial paper representing a liability of the Association and not the federal government. Basically the bankers favored this approach while radicals criticzed it as being nothing more than a bankers’ bill. To William Jennings Bryan it meant a continuation of the money trust and Wall Street control of the nation’s credit resources. Their objections were given further affirmation due to the findings of the Pujo Committee in 1912. President elect Wilson was obliged to examine and formulate an alternative to the Aldrich Bill where his views did not go beyond the expressed general objections to it. But he was not wise to the details of alternative proposals.

Enter now the House Banking and Currency Committee chaired by then Virginia Representative Carter Glass and worked on by economic advisor  H. Parker Willis. President Wilson met with these gentlemen and they drafted what basically was a call for a reserve system both privately and locally controlled by designated banks. So that national banks could be brought into the system, Willis proposed broadening their lending powers and to allow the distinguishment between demand and time deposits. Hence, this meant breaking the concentration of Wall Street power. Thus, the new President perceived the idea of reconciling the demands for centralization with the practical need for  central control–the idea behind the Federal Reseve Board. But the battles waged from 1912 through most of 1913 did not end the almost endless series of floor bills, proposals, arguements and disputes among Congress members. The new President had to weigh through many of the pros and cons of dissent to finally in December of 1913 sign the bill calling for the establishment of the Federal Reserve System and it was not until 1917 that banks no longer could maintain vault currency as part of their reserves but such reserve requirements be in the form of deposits with their regional FRB. Despite this 1917 edict, it took four decades to achieve. Thus, the philosophy of President Woodrow Wilson was, “We shall deal with our economic system as it is and as it may be modified, not as it might be if we had a clean sheet of paper to write upon and step by step we shall make it what it should be.”

There has always been the battle for ideas where liberal, conservative and libertarian ideologies wage war through the American experience of governance at every level. Very early on the idea of a communistic social structure existed and championed in a New York experiment which totally failed. Capitalism flourished and ideals of hard work, education, and dedication to a strong family and work ethic achieved great support of the American people and ideals. Success was the catch word for a good life. In contrast the idea of socialism which prevailed in many countries bred a different philosophy pretty much foreign to this success experienced in America. Still, the idea of socialism has raised its ugly head time and again by those professional elite types who exist on theory and dreamland ideologies that smack of having little practical experience of running a company, holding a real competitive job where a good work ethic promotes a stronger financial family unit.

Writing about the Controller of the Currency covers an enormous range of governmental policies, laws, changes, often times the result of political powers in charge. The roaring twenties was a time of rampant carefree life for many and the desire to make money made easy by the Congress passing Prohibition that saw America suffer criminal activity and openness that flaunted every legal law in the Land. In effect, such repudiation by the general public was a American institution: DON’T TREAD ON ME. It was repealed but left a scar on the landscape that took long to defuse due to the infiltration of the Mafia-families that reigned in a kind of underworld government that had power even within the walls of Congress backed by crooked judges, lawyers and police departments that looked the other way.

During the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt saw many social advancements: the Social Security System, the advancement of workers in Union movements for better working conditions and fair wage contracts and support of the right to strike for grievances; improvements in the educational opportunities and build up of public utilities and structure. Under both Democrat and Republican leadership the country had survived good and bad times. In all cases though, respect and honest effort put forth the ingredients that kept America strong, safe and secure as a nation. And to some extent the history of the Controller of the Currency and financial backbone that prevailed conserved and maintained economic policies that gave our nation a unique perspective despite often heated debate usually saw one overview phrase: ” monetary integrity and conservative practice” that reinforced our national commitment to our heritage as a people, a true melting pot.

While I can write a great deal more about the financial system it is time to put the topic to bed. Let it be enough to say that our nation, its interests, the protective nature of American thought and practice in the short existence of our nation compared to many from ancient times continues to survive largely because our system is bendable but unbreakable if we keep alert to always protect it. Understanding somewhat our system of financial integrity is not sufficient alone without those who lead and who are part of the system from the working clerk to highest powers in government, Wall Street, and business leaders to possess the character that builds and not tears down.

In chess we experience history and visit on many occasions those openings and literature from the past that enrich our game and hopefully stimulate our interest and maybe just proving that chess is more than just a game. I find it has the benefit of teaching truism that enable us to understand the world around us just a little bit better and to be part of the chess community at large. I have from time to time ‘tweaked the nose’ of the US Chess Federation which I find has been often times too socialistic. Part of that socialism is the belief that chess competition offers no real winners but that just about everyone gets a trophy just for competing. Feel good about yourself doesn’t mean getting something for nothing. Value comes from hard work, dedication to any endeavor you choose and that is the way I see it.