Archive for August, 2012

KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: Stifling Dissent Returns to the Russian Empire

August 21, 2012

Well folks–now you know what I’ve known for a long time, the Russian Bear has returned in the guise of the little Napoleonic President Vladimir Putin, who dons his old KGB hat to let the masses know that his old antics of repression has returned to the motherland. Perhaps he sees himself as a savior! With his first hundred days in power since being reelected for the third time as Russia’s ruler, he has initiated a very real stifling of dissent. His twelve-year power hold on the former Soviet citizenry where he has followed a sincere belief in the POWER OF THE STATE and so much so, that he came to envision himself  as a necessary defender of the State.  One might say he plays an endgame like a chess master in protection against his perceived domestic enemies as well as foreign interlopers. Thus, any attack on his position in his rule is looked upon as an attack on the nation.  It is possible that in witnessing the domino effect of falling middle east powers by rebels desirous of throwing off the chains of tyranny, he finds himself in that very role as a leader who must walk softly while carrying a big stick.  He was very pleased to have overthrown the challenge by Garry Kasparov and company for rulership of the great Russia.

In his almost Tsar like approach to rule, he administered with help of the Duma, the very assembly whose disputed elections in December had sparked the Moscow protest movement of which former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov had put his hat in the ring to overthrow Putin’s influence as a major player.  Turmoil boiled over with the likes of tough rally organizers, the internet sites were blocked under pretense of protecting the people,  especially children, from supposed vice and corruption.  Such a power grab by the government Putin justified as bringing modernizing Russian laws up to the international standards that liberal and socialist agendas have long aimed for.  One can look at the Russian government today and see the dark shadows of the former Nazi Gestapo strong-armed thugs peeling away whatever freedoms the people enjoyed. Former public figures in both government and the news media are under the gun of communist tyranny. An unknown number of Putin foes have been jailed in pretrial isolation from having a voice in the public arena. That no longer exists.

I remember the days of the 1940s-50s when even in this country, the Soviet Justice System was highly praised by our government officials.  The courts were held up before the world as a dream of decency and justice.  That ended with the breakup of the Soviet Union where it was literally known less for justice than maintaining and upholding the legacies of the former Soviet Communist State.

Today we no longer have Kasparov’s influence with the people where he was greatly admired as was Karpov.  But the winds of change, of disenchanted pockets that loom across the vastness of Russia, even to the very walls of Moscow is dangerous for Putin’s stepping down hard on the freedoms experienced by the Russian public.  Certainly, there are those, especially those, who desire peace at any cost, even surrendering their freedom which the Russian people long were denied anyway–those who looked to uncle Stalin and company for a meager life existence.  Much is being reverted to former times after a relatively brief experiment with self-determination and a form of republic/democratic tinkering.

Putin has drawn a line in the sand and has placed his hopes on reverting to crushing opposition rather than sharing with others some formula toward a dialogue of public and honest debate but such tyranny and violence can only lead to hardships for the Russian people. That is something too few have experienced or learned in the brief history of modern Russia.

Kindred’s Special: Is Chess Just a Game?

August 9, 2012

When Evgeny Tomashevsky was handed a series of questions regarding his thoughts about chess and life in general, he had this to say about a few that I thought you might enjoy.

What is the best thing that was ever said about chess?

Chess is for people who want to make an intellectual effort, who have respect for the game.–Boris Gelfand.

Is knowledge of chess useful in everyday life?

 Definitely yes, but only up to the level at which chess hasn’t become a profession yet.  After this, things are not so clear.

This last question and answer holds a similar spirit within my own being.  But here, I would like to add that knowledge of chess history helps to sustain interest and understanding of its colorful past and, that without it, leaves a void for the amateur enthusiast.


KindredSpirit’s Kaleidoscope: 1984 World Chess Championship Revisited

August 8, 2012

The eve of this match brought forth Harry Golombek’s London Times column accusations that a fix was in to assure a Anatoly Karpov victory. This emerged partly from interviews with Korchnoi who had accused the Soviets of beating his son while being in a labor camp. Golombek’s remarks in his column noted that an overwhelming victory by Karpov would make the match smell to high heaven. . In a Golombek interview with Korchnoi, he accused the Soviets of forcing Kasparov to lose games and not play up to his ability. Both IM Jonathan Tisdall who was USCF’s Chess Life reporter on the scene in Moscow strongly rebutted his assertions as did the FIDE President Florencio Campomanes. Both Ks had also disputed the rumors.  In fact, during the match both Anatoly and Garry conducted brief postmortems of the game play. Kasparov’s temper tantrums when losing  likely hurt his play.

As the match appeared nearly over with Karpov leading with 5-0, with 21 draws victory seemed inevitably for Karpov. But he made the mistake of deciding to play more positional chess hoping his younger opponent would eventually lose the deciding game making Karpov the one to first score 6 wins.  Some games later with drawn games and Kasparov picking away at the score, Karpov declared illness and needed a break in tune with the rules. On the eve of the 49 match game, Karpov could not continue; Kasparov had stalled his victory run to 5 games and Kasparov had taken the 48th game. The match was cancelled which was very controversial although written in the rules for the match as a discretionary use if necessary.

President Campomanes had to stop the match due to its long length probably remembering the Capablanca vs. Alekhine match some years before in South America where the reporters and general public tired of viewing the games.  It was definitely interrupting the schedule and other important international events.

The storm that followed included all top Grandmasters who, in unison said the match had to be decided per the rules.  Kasparov was apparently the favorite among the throng of players across the world.  His brilliant and imaginative play made him a heavy favorite to win if Karpov could be beaten. The momentum had shifted to Garry Kasparov who was proved to be a very worthy opponent as someone who could defeat Karpov.

Garry Kasparov became World Champion and defended the title successfully; his tournament play was superb; he wrote a number of books and contributed to opening theory.  He took on chess politics creating an organizational structure that competed with FIDE, and later became involved in Russian politics with the hope of displacing Putin. Today he is considered to be the strongest chessplayer achieving a record of success not before seen in the modern world of computer science.  He took advantage of wealth and had a ready stable of GMs and other top quality analysts that enriched his opening arsenal and natural talent of both middle and endgame excellence.

New In Chess just arrived which touches on this very article. It is called ‘Coming Full Circle’ Kasparov wrote in his autobiography calling February 15th 1985 to be the most memorable day in his life. His private struggles became public. His struggle against FIDE continued with his latest attempt (reported by me) to unseat Kirsan Illyumzhinov by supporting Anatoly Karpov for President. He intends to either find another candidate or may choose to run himself in the 2014 elections in Tromsa, Norway. In his formative years dealing with chess politics, his slogan was: “If not you, who else?” That slogan may be appropriate for the next round of this intrigue.