Good Stuff

“Let The (Chess) Games Begin”

I have a long history with the game of chess.  My dad taught me how to play as a young boy – on both a real live board and on the first personal computer our family ever owned (way back in the mid-1980s). A decade later during breaks at my first…

I have a long history with the game of chess.  My dad taught me how to play as a young boy – on both a real live board and on the first personal computer our family ever owned (way back in the mid-1980s).

A decade later during breaks at my first after-school job (hauling boxes of frozen chicken at a Columbia, S.C. refrigerated warehouse), I tested my skill daily against a black grandmaster named Marvin.

Ok, maybe he wasn’t really a grandmaster …

Marvin had a pocket-sized chess board consisting of small plastic pieces with magnetized bases.  It probably sold at the time for less than a dollar.  How good was he?  Very.  In fact he would routinely set me up by deliberately sacrificing his queen (the most powerful piece on the board) in order to gain a strategic advantage regarding the positioning of other pieces.

“I play better without my b*tch,” he would say.

Ah, the good ol’ days …

Anyway, I rarely get to play anymore … which is too bad.  Every once in awhile I’ll go up against the computer on my iPad, invariably losing in less than forty moves (although I’ve played it to a draw a couple of times).

It’s a fun game … it’s also becoming increasingly popular around the world thanks to No. 1 player Magnus Carlsen of Norway – the reigning world champion in classical, rapid and blitz chess.  Carlsen, 24, has a current FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs) rating of 2876 – just off of his peak rating of 2882, which is the highest score in history.

Why write about this now?

Because Berlin is currently hosting the World Chess Rapid and Blitz Championship.  In addition to welcoming current champions, the event also pays homage to great players from the past including the late Bobby Fischer and Russian chess legend Boris Spassky.  In fact the opening ceremony of the championship featured the German premier of Pawn Sacrifice, a film about the legendary 1972 match between Fischer and Spassky (starring Tobey Maguire as Fischer and Liev Schreiber as Spassky).

Want to learn how to play chess?  There are dozens of online sites you can visit (and dozens of chess apps for your phone or your tablet).  And there are also numerous local chess clubs you can participate in if you’d like to play the game the way it was intended.

Game on!

***

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22 comments

The Colonel October 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

I thought this was going to be a “piece” about the Speaker’s race.

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It Is October 12, 2015 at 2:21 pm

The House can play better without it’s bitch.

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The Colonel October 12, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Well played!

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BrigidBernadette October 12, 2015 at 2:29 pm

FITS, can you pul-eeze do something about the press conference the city called this morning, where they said parts of the city will be without clean water for WEEKS? Does anyone know about this work being done on the road over the Lake Murray dam, reducing it to two lanes, that they say is completely unrelated to the storm but is being done now anyway, further bottle-necking traffic and taking workers away from obviously more pressing road work, unless of course they are lying about the real reason? And how Richland County has been missing in action this whole time? Sorry to be off topic, but in Lexington you aren’t suffering like we are over here in craptown. You seem to have contacts, maybe you can provide us with more information than the shitty manager, who made a comment that things are back on track because today she wore heels instead of rainboots, yuk yuk. I wish they all had one neck.

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shifty henry October 12, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Good article, Will…..

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erneba October 12, 2015 at 4:35 pm

Back when I was in the Navy, an old First Class Radioman taught me how to play a decent game of Chess for a beginner. He beat everyone he played, guess he had been at it for years.

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Bible Thumper October 12, 2015 at 3:42 pm

I tested my skill daily against a black grandmaster named Marvin.

Ok, maybe he wasn’t really a grandmaster …

Was he black? Really?

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Left side of the bell curve October 12, 2015 at 6:50 pm

How many black grandmaster’s do you know?

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Bible Thumper October 12, 2015 at 7:13 pm

None. Don’t know any white grandmasters either.

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Left side of the bell curve October 12, 2015 at 7:51 pm

What percentage of grandmasters have historically been white compared to black?

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Bible Thumper October 12, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Don’t Know. What percentage were named Melvin?

Left side of the bell curve October 12, 2015 at 10:16 pm

“Don’t Know.”

You should look it up. It might be relevant.

“What percentage were named Melvin?”

Did you mean Marvin?

checkmate October 13, 2015 at 6:28 am

For decades Blacks in Amerikkka could be legally hanged for learning to read or write. I wonder what the punishment would have been for learning to play chess. Capablanca, the Cuban World Champion, who went undefeated for eight years was a gentleman(and ladies’ man) of color. And Ambassador to the U. S.

Left side of the bell curve October 13, 2015 at 10:04 am

You make a reasonable argument-

So contain your research to a post civil rights era time frame and let us know what you find.

If you’re looking to expand the window for statistical reasons, than you can adjust for slavery in black America and explain to us what’s happened to the African continent post colonialism.

I’ll think you’ll find that blacks are statistically under-represented(you probably already know this, hence the argument you’re making).

Now we can argue back and forth as to “why”, but Bible Thumper up there might gain an appreciation eventually as to why Sic Willie pointed out the good chess player was “black” even though it might offend the PC sensibilities of him & others.

That again, we all know BT has an axe to grind against Willie because Willie has an axe to grind against Haley- so in the end rationality might not matter.

checkmate October 13, 2015 at 11:39 am

What happened to Africa post colonialism was neo-colonialism.

Left side of the bell curve October 13, 2015 at 12:11 pm

In some areas. It can be accounted for statistically for a larger sample.

en passant October 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

How many white Americans have been World Chess Champions?

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erneba October 12, 2015 at 4:22 pm

Chess, no way, I spent every night last week trying to beat Solitaire on my tablet.

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Tazmaniac October 12, 2015 at 5:47 pm

When I quit smoking I became a Freecell freak.When people call it Solitare I say thats like calling Chess Checkers!

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erneba October 12, 2015 at 7:06 pm

Those games really do get addictive. I am not a big TV watcher and getting into these shorter days, I find myself playing a variety of basic computer games.

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MashPotato October 13, 2015 at 11:49 am

Will, I’d love to play a game of chess with you! I have an account on Chess.com if you have one. http://en.lichess.org/ is a good site to play on without making an account. Euwe Max, a regular in the comment section, is pretty good at the game, I think I only beat him once in the three or four games we played.

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