Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Armed Forces Chess

A few days ago, I asked about this. USCF EB Member Mike Atkins responded:

The previous US Armed Forces Opens were held at:
2009- Gettysburg War Museum, Army, Chief TD/Organizer Mike Hoffpauir
2008- Bethesda Naval Hospital, Navy, Tom Belke Organzier, Ernie Schlich Chief TD
2007- Henderson Hall Marine Corps Base (On the grounds of Fort Myer, next to Arlington Cemetary), John Farrell/Organizer, Michael Atkins, Chief TD
2006 - Washington DC Old Soldier's Home, Org/Lt. Col Doug Taffinder, Chief TD/Michael Atkins
For the 2006 event we brought in as special speaker retired USAF Lt. General William Earn Brown, a chessplayer who was in one of the Tuskeegee Airman graduating classes in the late 1940's.

The US Armed Forces Open is open to solder who are active-duty, retirees (20+ year retirees) and students at the Academies.

This year's event is being organized by Lt Col Taffinder again and will be in the DC area. They do a wonderful job in securing donated prizes and have gotten financial support in the past in order to purchase great trophies. The Military Academies participate in the tournament with West Point typically bringing the most players. When it is being held on military bases, the rooms for the academy students are usually free and the EF is always free for everyone.

The Military Chair recently resigned and they are in the process of ironing out a strategy to always have a Chair. I am the EB Liaison to the Military Committe.


(Used with permission.) Here's a chess site devoted to this topic:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Walters' Chess Qualifications

Here's a short list:

Chess Club Official: None
Tournament Director: None
State Affiliate: None
USCF Committeework: None
Newsletter/Magazine: None
Blog: Started one after he announced his campaign. (See below.)

Walters is saying the typical things chess politicians say when they have no real credentials:

a) He's going to represent the players, since he has no organizer experience.

Trying to turn a liability into an asset. So, why didn't/won't he represent the players in his state or his local chess club?

b) He's passionate about chess.

Sure, and the other pols are not? Since his one claim to contributing to chess other than just playing it is this blog, it sure would be nice if there were at least more than one post to it since Feb. 18 - and that was just a crosstable!

c) He's posted 300 odd comments to the USCF's Issues Forum. Mostly mean, nasty attacks or else some petty comment. These means that he fits right in with the USCF politics culture. (Sigh!)


Note John Hillery's comment to yesterday's post. Walters should be elected only to keep Sam Sloan out. This is what the USCF has come to.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Walters' Campaign Blog

Earlier I had stated that Gary Walters, candidate for the USCF Executive Board, had done nothing in chess but put up a campaign blog after he began his electioneering. More on that in later posts, but on the blog issue John Hillery commented, saying that my characterization of his blog was unjust.

(Sadly the links do not show up in this blog very well. You have to move your cursor around to find them.)

I am not the only one who's saying this blog is for campaigning. This from the USCF's Forums, thread "I Will Only Vote Positively", post #180806, Gary Walters himself says,

I am also campaigning actively on my blog at You can find out more about me there.

This compares to Hillery's comment cited above:

"You failed to mention that he only started his blog after he launched his election campaign." [quoting me - JL]

That would be a fair point if his blog were primarily (or even significantly) about politics. It isn't. It's a chess news and analysis site, and a good one.

The point of all this is that what we have is a candidate who is not willing to work his way up but wants to start at the top. In order to make up for his lack of chess experience, he launches a blog so that he can have at least some chess thing to campaign on.

Let's face it. In a year with the USCF in a financial crisis, it is going to need a very active Executive Board, aggressively helping with fundraising and promoting. It's stuck with Walters because the alternative is so unacceptable. If the members expect this pol to be more than just a resume credential collector, they are likely to be disappointed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Adventures In NY, Boston, and Elsewhere

Just learned of a new chess blog. Well, chess and lots of other stuff, too. Rather like my own at Jack Le Moine's Blog.

This blog is run by Erabin at Brandais University. Check his blog out and tell him Jack sent you!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Queen's Gambit

Get ready to play in a chess tournament this weekend.

Here's a little video to help you get your engine started. (-or to just learn a little more about the game.)

Almost always, when the Queen Pawn meets the Queen Pawn in the center, White supports with the Queen Bishop Pawn. While this forumation is not as deadly as its brother formation on the Kingside, it is more strategic and hence more practical.

I usually play this. I note that the QB pawn usually moves up next to the Q pawn no matter what Black does.

This is an overview for beginners.

Chess events in your area . . . and visit The Chess Website who created these wonderful videos.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Old Finances

This is from my Way-Back Machine at the USCF's Forum. An oldie but goodie from 1/1/2007. Post 25787.

Thanks for the audit reports. I did look up the ones going back to 2002. Just a few comments. I note that all of the reports for all years was unqualified. This meant that the auditors found nothing materially wrong with the financials. If there were significant missing moneys, then that would have been noted somewhere - especially if they were in the ballpark of millions of dollars. There were no internal control reports - that dispenses with that issue. There should have been management reports, too. Those are not normally made available to the public.

I know that this next may stick in your craw but the Executive Board members should be given access to those reports. That's the price of having SS on the board. I don't mean to be troublesome here, just fair. I don't think there's a legal requirement for that, that's just my opinion.

I note that the building and land in TN is valued at near the price SS claimed was paid for it. The FY 2006 financials noted that the land was appraised but the building was not. Professional appraisers as a rule value property based upon all relevant factors. If encumbrances had the effect of significantly reducing the re-sale value aka the fair market value of the land, then the appraisers should have included that in their appraisal. Accounting rules require that assets be recorded at the lower of cost or market. Since the auditor did not write down the HQ in Crossville, this supports Joel Chandler's explanations and not Sam Sloan's. That should dispense with that issue. The building will be appraised this year. I do wonder why the building and land weren't both appraised at the same time.

I note that the 2005 report is marked "draft". This looks bad. You really should get the final version of the report up, even if it has no changes from the draft version.

Summary: the audit reports do not support Sam Sloan's allegations.*
* He was claiming $3 million were missing from the treasury.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Sam Sloan Should Do

Sloan does have a big positive. He comes across pretty good on video. He could concentrate on producing videos for youtube and elsewhere. He’s got eccentric ideas on openings and other strategies but here, this works in his favor. Chess needs coverage of eccentric openings and not just more of the same old stuff. - Yet another video of the Najdorf Sicilian (for example)!

If he gets a director to coach him and line up shots, together with some post-production editing, he could make a name for himself – which is to say, he could re-brand himself in the chess world.

Conclusion: how Sloan could rehabilitate himself is an interesting exercise for a lazy afternoon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Non-Chess Jack 3/9/10

What am I up to when I'm not playing chess and chess politics?

Yesterday, I read a book on Twitter. It was really an eye-opener for me. I did a little bit to my twitter site and my twitter practice. I went up from 6 to 65 followers. Here's my Twitter site, and check out the book, too.

- Yes, I know. You saw on the USCF's Forum this:

Big picture time here: I notice I have 63 followers on Twitter.
- Myself, Post 183785

Same terminology used by the Rev. Jim Jones. Scary.
- Another USCF poster, citing the leader of a famous mass suicide in the early 1980's, Post 183786

I had to inform the group that "followers" is the official term used by Twitter, Google (see the right panel here) and other major social internet sites. Why bother with such crazies?


Here's another installment of Herodotus on my History Blog. H was a tourist as well as an historian in the 5th. century BC, so his description of the ancient Egypt he saw takes us back in time 2,400 years.

Now, with securities prices low is the best time to invest. In my Finance Blog, I ruminate on wisdom I found from Rich Dad and others.

Health Care dominates the news on my Politics Blog but the most far-reaching news is Obama's cutting back on the Space Program. What are the Left's goals in Space?

and don't forget my first Youtube video ever!

Sam Sloan's Tricky Ingredients

The above are easy stuff. More tricky is his belief system relating to that 3 letter word that begins with s and ends with x. He’s been really in-your-face with it and it has caused him a lot of trouble on this forum and elsewhere. For me, this is a deal-breaker but I realize that for most, they do not take the kind of moral stands as I do. So, what is his optimal strategy here?

First, we’ve got to respect the fact that he is sincere in what he believes. His record goes back a half-century now to his days in Berkley. As for the children issue, he notes that it is/was legal in the countries where he did it.

Second, we’ve got an environment where tolerance for matters related to the s word is artificially high. It is plausible to see a scenario where Sloan responds to concerns about his website, books, and other media by successfully urging a live-and-let-live attitude.

His best bet would be to put his s-word related stuff on the web behind some kind of wall like other adult-content sites do. As I recall, this was the chief complaint by people on this forum during the time Sloan was on the Board.

As for his views on adults, children, and the s-word, they are what they are. While parents will probably always be uncomfortable having him around their children at chess tournaments, at the rate society keeps accepting more and more gross behavior, it is plausible to imagine his views gaining wider acceptance in the years to come.

The issue needs more finesse than Sloan is probably capable of but once again, it is possible for him to do it.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sam Sloan's No-Brainer Ingredients

I know that it is difficult to imagine a Sam Sloan that has some measure of respectability in the chess world but it is possible. Like Nixon’s case after Watergate, it will take awhile. What are the ingredients of a Sloan rehabilitation?

1) He’s got to dial back on chess politics. Post less on USCF Issues and more on All Things Chess.

2) Lawsuits against Polgar/Truong are popular but not against the USCF. He’s got to refrain from any more anti-USCF litigation.

3) Stay out of trouble with the law. This especially goes for child-related trouble!

This is the no-brainer stuff.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Positively Sam Sloan

Is there a strategy for Sloan getting back to some status of respectability in the chess world? (I’m thinking of something like the post-Watergate Nixon did.)

First, let’s clear out some underbrush. About the election:

Sloan’s election chances are slim. The worst thing from his standpoint was that he’s in an effectively 2 man race. Had there been a third man for that last slot, then he might have had a shot at getting in by the majority of anti-Sloan voters splitting their vote. As it is, every one of them can concentrate their votes on Walters. The election is Walters’ to loose. He does not need to be qualified or even knowledgeable; he just needs to avoid anything stupid. Sloan’s only hope is to get people thinking the USCF is badly managed and then go negative on Walters. He’s not up to the job; he cannot fix things – that sort of spiel. This is a plausible strategy for him; he likes attacking people. Still, Sloan faces the problem that he has no base of support. Further, in his case, his experience on the Board actually works against him in this election.

I just do not see him winning this. Even if he does win, what does he get? - A seat at a Board where he will once again be isolated. Worse, Sloan being Sloan, he probably won’t be able to resist the opportunities to cause trouble. Having gone to the well once already, the USCF may do unto Sloan what it did to Polgar and Truong and expel him. Eviscerating the rules for removal from the Board will not be the novelty it was last year.

Sloan’s best bet would be to withdraw from the race so that he can get an early start on his rehabilitation but to analyze that move would be to withdraw from any plausible Sloan-like behavior into fantasy. So, I assume that he will run, adopt some strategy such as I imagine, and loose.

Then what? What is his best strategy from that point?

Saturday, March 6, 2010

More on That Miami Tournament

(Continuation of the March 1 post.)

There's some further information on this issue:

1) The organizers had set unrealistically high guaranteed prizes. They would have been unlikely to have broken even - even if there had been no hurricanes and the weather had been perfect.

2) They had not done unusual publicity to boost the attendance, meaning

3) The guaranteed prize fund was their publicity and they just used the hurricane warning as an excuse to pull it.

4) The USCF delayed action on this until after the election so that the appearance of political manipulation could be avoided.

These are pretty substantial arguements on the other side of this issue. In light of this, the organizers really ought to explain themselves to the chess public.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Dutch Defense, Stonewall

Get ready to play in a chess tournament this weekend.

Here's a little video to help you get your engine started. (-or to just learn a little more about the game.)

The Stonewall has pawns on KB4, K3, Q4, and QB3. Either Black or White can move into this formation. In my experience, it is really hard to bust this formation. I recall Max Euwe's book on the middlegame had an extensive chapter on how to bust it.

This is one opening I recommend for beginning players.

Chess events in your area . . . and visit jrobi who created these wonderful videos.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Hurricanes, Tsunamis, and Chess Tournaments

The 2008 Miami tournament is back in the news with an appeal from the Rules Committee. - Fallout from the organizers lowering the prize funds due to Hurricane Ike - which did not hit.

Hurricanes and other natural disasters do occur. Experts put out alerts and then they turn out to be wrong. Just look at the tsumami warnings in Hawaii and throughout the Pacific this weekend. Experts thought it might happen; mass evacuations were declared and made. Fox, CNN, and MSNBC provided all-day coverage of an anticipated disaster that did not happen.

It does not help chess organization in the future to create precidents that discourage organizers by blaming them for National Weather Service warnings that do not pan out.