Wednesday, June 17, 2015

On Self-Identification

The story of Rachel Dolezal has gotten many in an uproar in recent days. She is the Spokane, Washington, woman who has been president of her local NAACP chapter, but now it comes out that her parents say she is white, not black. She says she has self-identified as black since she was five years old. She was forced to resign her NAACP post in the wake of this revelation.

I am perplexed by the hysterical reaction of the media to this development. In almost every other case I can think of, it seems the media bends over backwards to honor the self-identification that public figures give themselves. I first became aware of this phenomenon when Bill Clinton took office in January of 1993. All of a sudden, his wife was no longer "Hillary Clinton", as she had been all during the campaign, but now his wife magically became "Hillary Rodham Clinton". Obviously the Clinton camp asked the media to make this change, and the media, like the sycophantic lemmings they are, readily obliged. Interesting that when Hillary decided to run for president in 2007, she did an about-face, and decided that she was now, again, "Hillary Clinton". The media followed along with this change with absolutely no comment.

We have the example today of Bruce Jenner, who has decided he will become a woman and be henceforth known as Caitlyn. The media follows along without questioning the change.

For some reason the media is obsessed with race. Poor Rachel gets pilloried, when every other public figure is given the courtesy of self-identification.

Here in Oregon we have the recent example of the former governor, John Kitzhaber, whose girlfriend insisted on being called "the first lady", and who gained the title of "fiancee" to bolster her claim to first lady status. There is no evidence that either one of these people has any intention of getting married, yet the media obligingly goes along with identifying Cylvia Hayes as Kitzhaber's "fiancee", despite no evidence that there is any legitimacy to the term. If they really want to get married, why don't they go ahead and do it? Investigations have uncovered much evidence of Ms. Hayes' nefarious past, and it is obvious that she is nothing but a no-good gold digger. This is backed up by emails that the media has obtained documenting her gold-digging goals. Yet, to this day you will not find her referred to as Kitahaber's "girlfriend", even though this would be the most accurate term. No, she is still his "fiancee". For non-Oregonians, it should be pointed out that Kitzhaber has resigned his position as governor, due to the gold-digging actions of his girlfriend.

Now, we have a new governor, Kate Brown, who is called "the first openly bisexual governor in US history". And how do we know she is bisexual? The answer is we don't, all we have is her statement to that effect. She is married to a man, and presumably happily so. So, why are supposed we to see her as "bisexual"?

The only example I can find in which the media makes reference to the self-identification issue is in referring to the Islamic State. The media always says "self-styled Islamic State". With terrorism, the normal rules are obviously out the window. But in every other case, the media does not say "self-styled", or "self-identified", but simply goes sycophantically along with the dictates of the subject involved.

The importance of this issue is magnified by the trend towards misrepresenting one's background. It has become commonplace to lie on one's resume; for example it is said that most resumes these days contain at least one lie. Lying about one's military service, or lack thereof, became so commonplace that in 2005 Congress enacted the "Stolen Valor Act", making it a crime to lie about military honors received. The Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional in 2012 on free speech grounds. The majority opinion made the cogent point that it would be an easy matter to put a list of medal recipients on a website, so that claims could be checked quite easily and, if unfounded, refuted. This in fact is what the federal government did following the decision. The point for our present purposes is that it still presupposes a media that is ambitious enough to actually do this checking, which we do not currently have.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Portland Chess Club March Game/60 Swiss

This tournament was a complete disaster. I lost rounds 2 and 3 to lower-rated players and then withdrew, losing 40 rating points. Here is what happened.

chessart(1935) - Mike Hasuike(1500), Rd. 1, Alekhine's Defence, B03

1 e4 Nf6 2 e5 Nd5 3 d4 d6 4 c4 Nb6 5 ed ed 6 Nc3 Be7 7 Be3 Nc6 8 Bd3 Bf6 9 Nge2 h6?

This seems pointless. If black wants to move a king-side pawn, ...g6 is usually played.

10 Rc1 Bg4 11 Qd2 Qe7 12 0-0 0-0-0

I have never seen black castle queenside in this opening.

 13 h3 Bh5 14 Nf4 g6??

 This loses a piece.

15 g4 Nxd4 16 BxN BxB 17 gh g5 18 Bf5+  Black resigns, 1-0
Kian Patel(1734) - chessart(1935), Rd. 2

1 Nf3 c5 2 b3 d5 3 e3 e6 4 Bb2 Nf6 5 d4 Be7 6 Bd3 0-0 7 Nbd2 Nc6 8 0-0 cd 9 ed Re8 10 Ne5 NxN 11 PxN Nd7 12 f4 Nc5 13 Be2 Bd7 14 b4 Ne4 15 a3 Rc8 16 Bd3 NxN 17 QxN g6 18 Rf3 Bf8 19 g4 Qh4 20 Qg2 Bc6 21 Bd4 Bg7 22 g5 h6 23 Raf1 h5 24 h3 Ba4 25 Bf2  Black resigns, 1-0

chessart(1935) - Danny Phipps(1642), Rd. 3, Caro-Kann Defence, B13

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 ed cd 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Bf5?

A huge mistake. White scores 80% or better against it.

6 Qb3!

Wins a pawn by force, and in the process destroys black's queenside.


Black has no good moves here. Most usual is 6...Nc6, but white scores 90% against it.

7 Qxb7 dc 8 Bxc4 e6 9 Nf3 Be7 10 0-0 0-0 11 Bf4 Nb6 12 Bb3 Nfd5 13 NxN NxN 14 BxN PxB 15 Rfe1 Bd6 16 BxB QxB 17 Re7?

White should play 17 b3 to prevent black from regaining his lost pawn. I throw away my pawn and a half advantage by my carelessness.

 Rfb8 18 Qc7 QxQ 19 RxQ Rxb2 20 a4 f6 21 h3 Bd3 22 Re1 Re2 23 Rec1 a6 24 Rd7 Bc4 25 Rb1 Kh8 26 R1b7

Despite material being equal, I now have a huge advantage due to my doubled rooks on the 7th rank.

Rg8 27 Nh4 Re1+ 28 Kh2 Rf1 29 Kg3 Bd3 30 f3??

This horrible move loses a piece. I considered 30 Rxd5, the idea being that if 30...Be4, I can play 31 Rh5 and he cannot take my R/b7 due to 32 Ng6#. But Danny was playing very carefully and deliberately, and I felt certain he would not fall for the trap. I was unable to visualize how the game would then proceed, so I backed away from this line. He cannot kick my R/h5 with ...g6, as then I have (either)Rxh7#. However, later analysis shows that black has 31...g5!, which leaves two of my pieces en prise, so my gut instincts were correct here.

30...g5 31 Rxd5 PxN 32 KxP 32 Rf2 33 Rd6 R2xg2 34 Rxf6 R2g3 35 d5??

35 Rff7 and at least the game goes on, although black has a point and a half advantage.

35...Bf1! White resigns, 0-1

Friday, June 5, 2015

A New Start in Chess: Portland Chess Club's March 2015 Quad/45

Up until thirty years ago or so, I regularly played in chess tournaments; however, around the mid-1980's my duties as a father took precedence and I have played little since then.

This all changed this past March 21st when I journeyed to the Portland Chess club for a one-day Quad. I prepared well by taking a Melatonin the night before and getting a good night's sleep, plus eating a good breakfast, taking good stuff for lunch, and taking my Prozac and multi-vitamin before leaving my apartment. Still, I was apprehensive, since playing in a Quad meant three tough games, unlike the more usual Swiss System, when the first couple of games are usually pretty easy for someone rated in the upper echelon.

I was put into the highest Quad, with one Expert and two fellow A players. Here are the games.

Michael Goffe (1944) - chessart(1930), Rd. 1
Closed Sicilian, B23

1 e4 c5 2 Nc3

An early surprise. The Closed Sicilian is a notoriously unenterprising opening for white against the Sicilian. I should know, for I played it for years before abandoning it.

2...e6 3 f4

I never could understand the appeal of this move for white. If he trades off his pawn on e4 (after black's ...d5), then the pawn on f4 becomes more of a liability than an asset; i.e., white has weakened his king-side defenses for no good attacking reason. On the other hand, if white pushes to e5, then he has the "big center", but this has been shown to be easy for black to play against.

3...d5 4 ed

A database I consulted shows this to be the worst of the white choices here. The other choices -- 4 Nf3, 4 Bb5+, 4 d3, and 4 e5--all score better: .

4...ed 5 d4 Nf6 6 Bb5+ Nc6 7 Nf3 Be7 8 Ne5 Bd7 9 dc Bxc5 10 Nxd5?

Falling right into my trap. The thematic idea here is indeed for white to try to win black's isolated pawn on d5. However, taking the d-pawn now does nothing to meet my threat of 10...Nxe5. White, playing capriciously and somewhat obliviously, makes his move without thinking through the ramifications. As a result, he pays a heavy price.

10...Nxe5! 11 Nxf6 Qxf6 12 Qe2

12 fxe5 is out due to 12...Qf7#, which is perhaps what white overlooked when he went into this line.

BxB 13 PxN?

Better is 12 QxB+, hoping for 12...Qc6 13 Qe2!, and black recovers his piece. However, I can thwart this with 12...Nd7, but white then at least still has his queen, which gives him some chances compared to going into a hopeless endgame.


White was no doubt banking on 13...BxQ 14 PxQ B moves, 15 fg, with some cheapo counterchances due to his pawn on g7. With 13...Qh4ch, I give white hopelessly messed-up king-side pawns, ensuring an easy endgame for me, with my extra piece.

14 g3 BxQ 15 PxQ Bh5 16 Bg5 Be7 17 Rg1 BxB 18 RxB g6 19 Kd2 0-0-0+ 20 Kc3 Rhe8 21 Rf1 Re7 22 Rg3 Rd5 23 Re3 Rc7+ 24 Kb3 Bg4

This well-timed maneuver gets my Bishop into the game, and from e6 the bishop will guard my pawn on f7, which is my only weak point, as well as participate in the attack on white's exposed king.

25 Re4 Be6 26 c4 Rd3+ 27 Kb4 Rd2 28 Kc3 Rxh2 29 a3 b6 30 Rg1 a5 31 b3 Rh3+ 32 Kb2 Rd7 White resigns 0-1

Either mate or serious win of material follows soon.

Jason Cigan (2139) - chessart(1930), Rd. 2
Grunfeld Defence, D07

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5 4 Bf4

There are many possible moves here, 4 Bf4 being the third-most popular after 4 cd and 4 Nf3. For many years I played the Stockholm Variation, 4 Bg5 Ne4 5 Bh4, popularized by GM Mark Taimanov in the 1970's, but I recently decided that it was passe. At some point one must let go of the past.

 4...Bg7 5 e3 0-0 6Nf3 c5 7 dc Ne4 8 Rc1 Nd7 9 cd Qa5 10 Qc2 Ndxc5 11 Nd2 Nxc3 12 bc Na4 13 Nb1 Bd7 14 Bd3 Rac8 15 0-0 Nxc3 16 NxN RxN 17 Qd2 Rfc8 18 e4 Qa3 19 RxR RxR 20 Rd1??

A horrible blunder. I realized my mistake as soon as I let go of the piece. Simply 20 Bb1 and an even game ensues.

20...Ba4 and 0-1 in a few more moves

chessart - Moshe Shai Rachmuth, Rd. 3
Chigorin Defense, D07

1 d4 d5 2 c4 Nc6 3 e3 e5 4 de

4 cd scores better.

 dc 5 QxQ KxQ 6 BxP NxP 7 Be2 Bf5 8 Nf3 NxN+

8...Nd3+ gives white some temporary discomfort, but he remains in decent shape. White can castle queenside if need be.

 9 BxN c6 10 0-0 Nf6 11 Nc3 Bd6 12 e4 Bg4 13 BxB NxB 14 h3 Ne5 15 f4 Bc5+ 16 Kh1 Ng6 17 f5 Ne5 18 Bf4 f6 19 Rad1+ Ke7 20 BxN PxB 21 Rd3 Rad8 22 Rfd1 RxR 23 RxR Rd8 24 RxR KxR 25 g4 Bc4 26 Nd1 Ke7 27 Kg2 Kf6 28 h4 h6 29 Kf3 K 7 30 g5 h5 31 b3 b5 32 Ne3 BxN 33 KxB c5 34 Kd3 a6 35 a4 Ke7 36 ab ab 37 Kc3 Kf7 38 Kd3 Ke7 drawn

Going over the game afterwards, Moshe kept saying during the latter part of it that he thought he had the draw. My response was always the same: "Yes, black has a draw but only if he finds all the right moves!" Moshe did indeed find the right moves, limiting my king in his quest to infiltrate black's position. 

So, I break even in the tournament and gain five rating points. Not a bad (re)start.