Thursday, August 6, 2015

An Appreciation of Mike Royko

I recently checked out "For the Love of Mike", a collection of Mike Royko columns. The best way to pay tribute to this literary genius is to discuss a few of his more thought-provoking columns.

1.  Washington Post fake story, (4/26/81).  This column deals with a story in the Washington Post about an eight-year-old boy who was being turned into a heroin addict by his mother's boyfriend. The reporter and her newspaper refused to reveal the name of the boy and his mother, because the mother had been promised anonymity. The paper won a Pulitzer Prize for the story, and later it was discovered that the story was a complete fabrication on the reporter's part.

Royko's take on this fiasco was unique and refreshing. He said that the editor who passed on the story was grossly derelict. Royko said that if he were the editor, he would have demanded that the reporter tell him the names. He would have said "We're going to call the cops right now, and we're going to have that sonofabitch put in jail, and we're going to save that kid's life. After we do that, then we'll have a story." And if the reporter refused, he would have fired her.

How ironic that the Post, which made its reputation exposing the Watergate coverup, was guilty of a cover-up itself in protecting a guy who was thought to be slowly murdering an eight-year-old boy.

2.  The supposed "disgrace" of low voter turnout, (11/7/96). On election night of the Dole-Clinton 1996 election, Dan Rather called the low voter turnout "a national disgrace". Royko begged to differ.

Royko wrote that "My belief is that someone who must be nagged into voting hasn't been paying attention and doesn't have any idea what the issues are or what the candidates will or won't be trusted to do."

But Royko goes on to make a larger point. He says the media has to shoulder a large part of the blame for the low turnout. Almost every day during the campaign somebody in the media was talking about how the polls showed the election was already over--Dole had no chance.  So how then can the media complain that people didn't go to the polls?

Royko calls polling "the laziest, dumbest, cheapest form of journalism." And it has only gotten worse since 1996. With all the news outlets today, one can hardly turn around without being bombarded with the latest poll results. Let's talk about the issues, and not treat an election as some kind of sporting event.

3.  On how words matter, 2/9/94.  The Minister for the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, said that "You can't be a racist by talking--only by acting". He was defending himself and his senior aide for their vicious verbal attacks on Jews.

In response, a cartoonist for the Sacramento Bee came up with the idea for an inspired cartoon; two Ku Klux Klan members are looking at Farrakhan's statement and one said, "That nigger makes a lot of sense".

Royko says that if he had been the editor, he would have said : "Fine cartoon. It makes the point".

Despite the fact that the cartoonist was trying to take the side of blacks in this issue, there was a huge outcry against the use of the dreaded N word. So much so that the publisher wrote a profuse page one apology!

Royko is aghast, and ends by saying that "there is a need for people to look in their dictionaries for an understanding of the meaning of 'satire'." The point the cartoonist was making is that words do matter, and the outcry from some quarters was simply misplaced and moronic in the failure to understand this basic point.

4.  One the Pete Rose suspension, 8/25/89.  An idiot on the radio used the words "American tragedy" to describe the Pete Rose suspension, and this prompted a response from Royko. He noted that many millions of American boys would have given anything to have played in the major leagues, himself (and this writer) included.

Rose knew the rules but chose to ignore them, and he got what is supposed to be the penalty for betting on your own team--a  lifetime ban from baseball. But this occurred after his playing days were already over.

Royko says: "What matters is that he had those 24 wonderful summers and those 3,562 games. And whatever kind of jerk he may have been in his private life, it was obvious that when he stepped out onto the field he loved every moment of it. How many people can say that about 24 years in the same job?"

Royko ends with "It's not a tragedy. It isn't even sad...Tragedy is a kid getting hit by a car. Sad is being old, alone, and lonely."

Saturday, August 1, 2015

PCC June Swiss

This tournament was divided into two sections, as announced if 30 players or more showed up. All four games were tough, the lowest in my (upper) section being rated 1725.

Rd. 1, chessart(1889) - Joshua Grabinsky(1882), Classical French, C14
1 e4 e6 2 d4 d5 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e5 Nfd7 6 BxB QxB 7 f4 a6 8 Nf3 c5 9 Qd2 Nc6 10 dc Nxc5

10...Qxc5 is slightly favored, but black scores slightly better with 10...Nxc5.

11 Bd3 b6?

This is not even given in the database. 11...b5 is most usual.

12 0-0-0 Bb7 13 Rhe1 0-0-0 14 Qe2 Kb8 15 a3 Na5 16 f5 NxB+ 17 QxN Nc4 18 Ne2 ef 19 Ned4 g6 20 e6 Nd6 21 ef QxP 22 Ne5 Qf6 23 Nec6+ Ka8 24 NxR RxN 25 Re6 Qf7 26 R1e1?

I should have retreated my rook on e6. I was oblivious to the danger.

 Ne5 27 Rxb6? Qc7

Now my rook is toast, as 29 Qb4 Nd3+ forks king and queen.

38 Qb3 Nc5 29 RxB NxQ+ 30 RxN Qf5+ 31 Kb1 QxR 32 Re7 Rb8 White resigns 0-1

Rd. 2, Danny Phipps(1823) - chessart(1889), Benko Declined, A57
1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 c5 3 d5 b5 4 Nf3 bc 5 Nc3 d6 6 e4 Nbd7 7 Qa4 g6 8 Bxc4 Bg7 9 e5 de 10 Nxe5 0-0 11 Nc6 Qe8 12 0-0 Nb6 13 Qb5 Bd7 14 Qxc5

White's win of a pawn is only temporary.

Bxc6 15 dc NxB 16 QxN Rc8 17 c7 Qd7 18 Bf4 Nh5 19 Rfe1 NxB 20 QxN BxN 21 PxB Qxc7

Pawns are now equal again.

22 Qe3 e6 23 Rac1 Qc5 24 c4 Rfd8 25 g3 QxQ 26 RxQ Rd2 27 Ra3 Rc7 28 Ra6 Kf8

The start of a bad plan to move my king to the queen-side.

29 c5 Ke7 30 a4 Kd7 31 c6+ Kc8 32 Rc4 Rd6 33 Kg2 Kb8 34 h4 h5 35 Rc3 Kc8 36 Kh3 f5 37 f3 e5 38 g4 e4 39 gf gf 40 Kg3 ef 41 Rxf3 Rdxc6 42 RxR RxR 43 Rxf5 Rc3+ 44 Kh2 Ra3 45 a5 Ra2+ 46 Kg3 Ra3+ 47 Kf7 Kb7 48 Kg5 Kc6 49 Kxh5 Kd6 50 Kg6 Ke6 51 h5 Rg3+ 52 Rg5 Rf3 53 h6 Rc3 54 h7 Rc8 55 Rh5 Black resigns, 1-0

                                                                *** Rd. 3, chessart(1889) - Dagadu Gaikwad(1793), Giuoco Piano (by transposition from Scotch Gambit), C53

1 e4 e5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 ed 4 Bc4 Bc5 5 c3 Nf6 6 e5 d57 Bb5 Ne4 8 cd Bb4+ 9 Nbd2

9 Bd2 is more accurate, the idea being that I get a knight to the hole at c5.

9...0-0 10 BxN bc 11 0-0 Bg4 12 Qc2 NxN 13 NxN Qd7 14 f3 Bf5 15 Qa4 c5 16 QxQ BxQ 17 PxP BxP+ 18 Kh8 Bb5 19 Rd1 Rad8 20 Nb3 Ba4 21 Bg5 BxN 22 PxB Rd7 23 Rd3 Bb6 24 f4 h6 25 Bh4 Re8 26 Rad1 d4 27 Bf2 c5 28 Bh4 Rb7 29 g4 Reb8 30 Rc1 a5 31 Rc4 Ba7 32 Ra4 Rxb3 33 RxR RxR 34 Rxa5 Bb6 35 Ra8+ Kh7 36 Rb8 d3 37 Rb7 d2 38 Rd7 Rxb2 White resigns 0-1

                                                             *** Rd. 4, chessart(1889) - David Yoshinaga(1742), Smith-Morra Declined, B21
1 e4 c5 2 d4 cd 3 c3 e5 4 cd ed 5 Nf3 Nc6 6 Nxd4 Qb6 7 NxN dc 8 Bc4 Nf6 9 Qf3 Bg4 10 Qf4 Rd8 11 0-0 Bc5 12 e5 Rd4 13 Qg3 Nh5 14 Qb3 0-0 15 Be3

Winning the exchange.

15...RxB 16 QxR BxB 17 PxB Be6 18 Qd4 c5 19 Qc3 Rd8 20 Nd2 Qb5 21 Ne4 c4 22 Rad1 Qb6 23 RxR+ QxR 24 Nc5 Qd5 25 NxB QxN 26 Rd1 g6 27 Rd6 Qc8 28 Qd4 Qf5 29 Rd8+ Kg7 30 e6+ Nf6 31 ef KxP 32 Qxc4+ Kg7 33 Qc7+ Kh6 34 Qf4+

It's over now, but black plays on for a few more moves.

Kg7 35 QxQ PxQ 36 h3 Ne4 37 Rd7+ Kg6 38 Rxb7 h5 39 h4 Nf6 40 Rxa7 Ng4 41 Ra3 Kf6 42 Kf1 Ke5 43 Ke2 Nf6 44 b4 Ne4 45 b5 Ked5 46 Rb3 Kc5 47 b6 Black resigns, 1-0