Baku: why the US media doesn’t care.


It has been a full week now since the Baku Olympiad ended. The victorious US team won its first gold medal in almost 80 years, an achievement that was as brilliant as it was deserved. (My apologies to Kavalek, but except for historians, few consider the 1976 Haifa Olympiad a real Olympiad given the USSR and the Warsaw-pact countries boycotted the event, as did all of the Arab world). 

Many of us expected that the US winning team would be welcomed as national heros when they returned to the US. That they would appear on CNN, have a parade thru Times Square. Maybe even invited to the White House…

But this was NOT to be the case. Instead, this past week has been a NIGHTMARE for American Chess:


(click on image for link)

In the week since their victory, except for the above controversial news item and some reporting in and around St.Louis, NOT A SINGLE major US news service has even carried the victory. Only dedicated chess-sites or regular chess-columns mentioned the US victory in Baku. Unbelievable!  Had I not seen with my own eyes, I would have thought this could have never happened.  But it did…

Is the US media afraid of Trump?


Trump has made the 2016 run for the White House all about immigration.  What is more, his hardline views on what today is American and what is un-American are gaining ground as the election campaign nears its end. Polls show that Trump is neck and neck with Clinton.  And it very much appears that the mainstream US media is trying not to provoke Trump’s obsession with immigration.


Below are a but a few clickable news articles that indicate what I am talking about with respect to the media’s changing attitude with respect to immigration. They are taken from  The last two, in particular, show how a number of media chains might actually be getting onboard Trump’s campaign.




The 2016 US election is going to DEFINE America for a long time to come.  Especially, it is going to define America’s attitudes with respect to what is and what is not an American.  As a Canadian, I am repulsed with such growing racist views and and racial stereotypes.  Clearly I do not agree with them!  I find such thinking scary…

BUT it is not for me to decide. What only matters is how the American people PERCEIVE what is an American or not.  About what is American and what is un-American.


As a chessplayer, I am shocked at how the US team that won in Baku is COMPLETELY IGNORED by the US media.

Now the question is to see how (or if) the US media covers the upcoming world championship match in NYC between Carlsen and Karjakin…

The importance of symbols…






Time is 17:45 (London time) and NOT a single major US news service has carried the US Team’s success in Baku two days ago , since the NY Times’ controversial article depicting the US Team’s victory as due to ”imported talent”. (READ: mercenaries or “hired help”)


As I have tried to explain in yesterday’s blog (and here with the ‘flag’ omission), the reasons are more complicated than just one article in the NY Times.  True, the US Team was a PR disaster at the closing ceremony and definitely deserves to be criticized for this.  But there is something, obviously, very wrong with chess in America.  If all you do is listen to Susan Polgar, Maurice Ashley and Yasser Seirawan–as eloquent they can all be–then you will probably end up understanding nothing about American chess’ problems.

On the otherhand, most countries would be happy to have American Chess’ problems, especially because of Rex Sinquefield, who has single handedly sponsored America chess for a number of years now.  Now if only we could convince him to move to Canada…

Baku: the day after…



Click on above image for original story

So I suppose there will be no parade thru Times Square, or a visit to Obama’s White House. On the otherhand, with a bit of luck, and assuming that Donald Trump is not elected in November, there will be little risk of any of the US chess team being deported in the near future.

This is the modern world we live in today. Things can change quickly, and often for the worse.


I remember being in Dubai (27th Olympiad) in 1986 when the US had real chances of winning the gold medal (Seirawan had defeated Kasparov in their individual encounter, leading the US team to a well deserved victory over the reigning champions), and for many Americans it seemed likely that they would win the gold medal.  The White House was waiting for that to happen and Reagan was anxious to phone the US team to personally congratulate them. (The players were made known of this plan before the final game)

And the NYTimes headline would have been  “US wins gold at Chess Olympiad“, and not have included the qualifying ” with the help of imported talent

But that never happened. The US could only draw with Bulgaria in the final round, and the USSR wiped out Poland 4-0 to clinch the gold. President Reagan had better things to do than have personal contact with a Bronze medal winning US team.

Thirty years on, probably Obama is not interested (assuming he even knows)…chess is almost dirty word in America today. Stripped of prestige and rapidly disappearing from important newspapers, our royal game exists almost entirely on the internet, far away from public view. If it were not for a wealthy patron in St.Louis who pays for EVERYTHING in US chess, well…you get the picture.

As of 16:15 September 14 (London time), except for the above mentioned NYTimes article and a few St.Louis news services, not a single major US news service has carried the American victory in Baku. Not TV,radio or internet based.  Says something, doesn’t it!










Thursday 15th September (14:05 London time)

Still absolutely no coverage on the US team’s gold medal in Baku from any major US news services on any of the media (print,TV,internet, radio). What is going on?  It can not be that bad, can it?!  I thought that CNN and FOXnews had no standards….


Anti-cheating rules: a big PR disaster!



Don’t say I did not warn you!  The very first day the Baku Olympiad began the complaints started rolling in.  Some arbiters decided to impersonate the ‘Toilette Gestapo’, forcing players who needed to take care of some body functions in private to make a written request first. Several captains protested strenuously, and a petition was quickly circulated to end this abusive and humiliating practice.

A number of arbiters then tried to justify the above mentioned arbiters’ actions by hiding behind existing regulations that anticipate some sort of control to visiting the washrooms during the normal playing period.  But as Tsorbatzoglou eloquently argued, no rule can ever justify  disrespect, abuse and/or humiliation of anyone while representing his/her country in a prestigeous event.


Then yesterday, the ‘Anti-cheating’ Gestapo decided that longtime Kirsan critic Nigel Short would be their target, but he would have nothing to do with it. He refused to cooperate with them, as a matter of principle.


The incident was described in a article written by Peter Doggers:


Many inside the chess community are fully supportive of Nigel’s actions.  Myself included. I have been a longtime critic of the way FIDE has dealt with the problem of cheating in chess, having written literally dozens of times here on this blog on this subject.


When FIDE first decided to form an anti-cheating commission a few years back, I (rightly) pointed out the error of asking for simple volunteers to become part of the process.  No one paid any attention, ofcourse, and as a result, there were no IT-hardware experts on the new commission, despite that fact that cheating is virtually 100% a hardware problem!

INSTEAD, and probably a direct consequence of having a commission that was blind to the real problem,  initially floated and proposed were ridiculous ideas such as mandatory strip searches , or the creation of a BIG-BROTHER database of games of everyone who played chess, and so on.

This latter idea,  incredibly, was somehow accepted; to filter these games using chess engines  to look for, find and identify ‘cheating suspects’…essentially stigmatizing and OVERWHELMING the entire anti-cheating commission with McCarthy like paranoia where EVERYONE becomes a potential suspect until they can prove their innocence!


I don’t know where all of this is going to lead, but I think that FIDE has to admit that a HUGE mistake has been made.  FIDE should seriously consider dis-banding the current anti-cheating commission and start over. Not from scratch per se, but learning from its mistakes. This time NOT a group of volunteers (who in some cases clearly are unfit for the job or are only interested in self-promotion), but INSTEAD  experts should be INVITED to become part of the next committee.

Ofcourse, I have little faith that this route will be investigated, and so more controversy and scandal can be expected.

Who is afraid of Kirsan?

Who is afraid of Kirsan? Most people, I would think. EXCEPT, ofcourse, the US Treasury. (For natural reasons)  Having been put on the US Sanctions list, Kirsan now finds himself unable to travel to the US. Last week he tried to do so, but was asked to leave the Delta flight before it took off from Moscow.  Here are some comments related to Kirsan’s on going efforts to deal with this issue.



Riding the ‘net; survival guide

Black/W photos (Pt. I), Web-surfing, philosophy and nonsense!

Odds and Ends

Odds and Ends







“A recent article in the New York Times saw as a problem the fact that females are greatly under-represented among the highest rated chess players. Innumerable articles, TV stories and political outcries have been based on an “under-representation” of women in Silicon Valley, seen as a problem that needs to be solved.

Are there girls out there dying to play chess, who find the doors slammed shut in their faces? Are there women with Ph.D.s in computer science from M.I.T. and Cal Tech who get turned away when they apply for jobs in Silicon Valley?

Are girls and boys not allowed to have different interests? If girls had the same interest in chess as boys had, but were banned from chess clubs, that would be something very different from their not choosing to play chess as often as boys do. As for chess ratings, that is not subjective. It is based on which players, with which ratings, you have won against and lost to.

Are women and men not to be allowed to make different decisions as to how they choose to spend their time and live their lives?


Chess is not the only endeavor which can take a huge chunk of time out of your life, and unremitting efforts, to reach the top. If you want to become a top scientist, a partner in a big law firm or a top executive in a major corporation, you are very unlikely to do it working from 9 to 5, or taking a few years off, here and there, to have children and raise them.

Applying the same unsubstantiated assumption to differences in “representation” between different racial and ethnic groups likewise produces many loudly expressed grievances, political crusades, and millions of dollars from lawsuits charging discrimination — all without a speck of evidence beyond numbers that do not match the prevailing assumptions.

People who base their conclusions on hard facts often reach very different conclusions than those who base their conclusions on the preconception that outcomes would be even or random in the absence of somebody treating somebody wrong.

Something as simple as age differences among groups can doom any assumption of even or random outcomes.

If every 20-year-old Puerto Rican in the United States had an income identical with the income of every 20-year-old Japanese American — and identical incomes at every other age — Japanese Americans as a group would still have a higher average income than Puerto Ricans in the United States. That is because the median age of Japanese Americans is more than 20 years older.

People with 20 years more work experience usually make higher incomes. And age difference is just one of many differences between groups.

You can study innumerable groups in countries around the world today, or over centuries of recorded history, without finding a single example of the even or random outcomes that are used as a benchmark for determining discrimination.

Nevertheless, courts of law — including the Supreme Court of the United States — use something that has never been found anywhere as a norm to which current realities are to be compared. Billions of dollars, in the aggregate, have changed hands as a result of individual lawsuits charging discrimination.

Life is undoubtedly unfair. But that is not the same as saying that the unfairness occurred wherever the statistics were collected. The origins of this unfairness often go back to different childhood environments for individuals or different geographic or cultural settings for groups and nations.

These differences between nations, as well as differences between individuals and groups, reflect the fact that the world “has never been a level playing field,” as economic historian David S. Landes put it. Renowned historian Fernand Braudel said, “In no society have all regions and all parts of the population developed equally.”

How long will we continue to take something that has never happened, and never had much chance of happening, as a norm?”




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Sevilla Monologues



Glasses and pretty Asian girls

(Part I)

Sunday Coffee

Good morning, Sunday!  Do you know what annoys the heck out of me today? Thinking about the recent massacre in Nice,France. My heart goes out to the innocent victims. It should have never happened!

But it does. It is the world we live in. EVERYDAY, somewhere in the middle east/ Afganhistan/ Africa MANY MORE innocent people are blown-up, beheaded or shot. Often raped beforehand…the media just reports it like it reports the weather…indifferently.

But mostly I am tired of how we in the west think ourselves so special! Born special.  In France, according to the news count, more than 200 innocent people have become victims of terrorism in the past 18 months. Charlie Hebdo, Paris and now Nice.  If only some other countries could be so lucky!

What has the French government done about it?  Apart from legislating bills to restrict civil liberties and increase the information services’ right to invade our private lives, the French government has imposed a state of emergency that seemingly will remain indefinitely.

Why bother? It has done nothing to stop the violence, or make us safer. Besides, nothing can stop such pre-meditated acts of violence and rage. Our law enforcement services have not failed.  But the media and the government seem to be in collusion, each time such an act is perpetrated in Europe, to treat it as something SPECIAL.

Instead of treating such acts as a crime (which is what it is) and letting the police deal with it, the government uses it for its own purposes and to increase their own political capital…The result is evident to anyone with eyes:  we find ourselves living in a society that is increasingly spiralling out of control.

Tens of thousands of troops on our streets, thousands of arbitrary arrests…probably much more than we really know about because it is all in the name of ‘national security’.


Orwell’s 1984 showed us how fear is the tool that autocratic governments use to control and subjugate its people.

Have you noticed that everytime something terrible like what happens in Nice  occurs, the government never assumes any responsibility?  Should they change their foreign policy? Should they reduce the bombing and military interference in other countries. Should they reduce their sales of weapons? 

I am tired of being told, over and over again, that we are born special and that our leaders are competent protectors of the fundamental principles of democracy. What kind of democracy puts the value of a child in Syria, Libia or Iraque as something less than our own children? I am tired of the double standards of our media. I am tired of the hypocrisy of our political leaders.



OddsAndEnds - 03.png

There is an interesting article today about Monika Fekete, a scientist, and how she uses her specialixed training to help coffee shop owners produce a better cup of coffee.

“With a PhD in chemistry from Australia’s Monash University and a research background in the electrolysis of water, Monika Fekete might have been expected to keep working on the quest to make hydrogen for fuel cells.

Instead, the Melbourne-based academic became fascinated with another very human fuel source: coffee.

In March she left her academic job and set up the Australian Coffee Science Lab, Australia’s first independent scientific coffee consultancy.”