Chess Camp Courier Journal Hailey Mize,15, plays blitz chess against her opponent as several girls watch during the all girls chess camp hosted by the West Louisville Chess Club at Louisville Urban League on Thursday, July 12, 2018.
Apparently, astounded that all black children don’t spend their time shooting hoops or exploring new avenues of committing black-on-black crime, the governor of Kentucky regurgitated a small amount of previously digested racism when he declared how surprised he was that black kids could play chess.
On Tuesday, Republican Gov. Matt Bevin visited Nativity Academy at St. Boniface, a Louisville, Ky., middle school that is 86 percent black and only 1 percent white. Before entering, Gov. Bevin recorded a brief introduction for his Twitter followers.
“I’m about to go in and meet the members of the West Louisville Chess Club,” he explained. “Not necessarily something you would’ve thought of when you think of this section of town.”
The video montage, appropriately set to Appalachian banjo riffs, shows Bevin actually standing next to the blacks and imploring teachers to “give them the chance to succeed, to pursue the American dream.”
While I could point out how Bevin doesn’t give a damn about black kids or their dreams being that he supports Donald Trump, the Tea Party, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, lowering the minimum wage, gun-toting teachers and the Blue Lives Matter law, I’d rather focus on a more important question:
What does Matt Bevin, and other white people expect from that “part of town?”
Well, The Root has obtained an exclusive copy of an internal memo circulated by the Bevin administration listing the top 10 things Gov. Bevin expects to see when he visits black schools:
10. Dance-offs: We’ve all seen the movies. When white people go to black schools, the first person they want to meet is the liberal, white woman who took a job at an inner-city school and saved the miniature negroes from a life of gangbanging by teaching them how to channel their anger and pain into the annual statewide dance competition usually dominated by nonblack students from the Becky Y. P. Pull Ballet Academy.
9. Jordans: Everyone knows black parents spend their welfare money on sneakers and designer outfits.
8. Crips and/or Bloods: Prior to his visit, Gov. Bevin trained in mixed martial arts for weeks so he could stop little J’Quavius from being jumped into the 57th Street Piru Thug Killers on the playground during recess
7. Liberal education: The liberal media doesn’t talk about how black kids are taught to hate the police, chant “Black Lives Matter” or believe in the myth of evolution. Black schools don’t teach kids how to respect the flag or that God named the first couple Adam and Eve (not “Adam and Steve,” as progressive textbooks would have them believe).
6. Rappers: How else do you think the kids learn how to be thugs? Rap music. In Advanced Placement hip-hop, honors-level thugs learn the correct way to conjugate the word “nigga” and how to sag their pants while walking down the street, smoking Indo, sipping on gin and juice, laid back with their mind on their money and …
you catch my drift.
5. Black-on-black crime: According to white people, at least once a month, schools hold “Continue-the-Violence” pep rallies celebrating the top gangbangers and thugs. That’s why we disregard crime in the black community.
4. Violent attacks on nerds: To be fair, this myth comes from middle-class black people who want to tout their hood bonafide by explaining how they were bullied for speaking correctly or getting good grades.
White people love shit like this because it correctly explains the education gap.
3. Sex: According to a survey conducted in the minds of conservatives, 85 percent of all teen pregnancies were conceived under the bleachers in a black high school or in the bathrooms where everyone hangs out smoking Newports after pre-Algebra.
2. Fake history: Black kids don’t learn the truth about how the war of Southern aggression actually had nothing to do with slaves. It was actually about Southerners’ rights to fly Confederate flags on their pickup trucks … And the constitutional right to own, kidnap, torture, rape and lynch black people. But mostly about the flag thing.
1. Hating white people: According to the memo, black kids spend 49 percent of their classroom time learning how to hate white people. The history of slavery perpetuates hate. Math classes teach kids to believe in data on police shootings instead of Fox News. Geography teaches them to respect other cultures. U.S. history teaches them how America has oppressed every nonwhite population in this country. Science teaches them that white supremacy has no basis in fact.
All of this leads to reverse racism, or what some educators refer to as “the truth.”
When challenged to a game of chess, Matt Bevin did not refer to the complicated game as “checkers for liberals.” Instead, Bevin left Louisville and went to visit Kentucky’s hacky-sack state championship team in one of Louisville’s white suburbs.
To be fair, I don’t know if that’s true.
It’s just something I “would have thought of” in that part of town.
DC Police are investigating a bizarre incident in which they believe four suspects hurled giant chess pieces from an apartment building roof to the street 11 stories below.
It happened early Monday evening at the Senate Square apartment building near 2nd & I Streets in Northeast Washington.
The roof of the building featured a giant chess board with 32 pieces. One resident estimates they weighed about 15 pounds each.
The suspects threw the pieces off the roof, smashing several car windshields and causing a chaotic scene.
Bottom floor resident Peter Likus says it all started when he believes the suspects threw a rock down at his dog, which was in an enclosed area just outside his apartment.
“[It sounded like] a loud explosion,” he said. “The dog ran into the apartment. We thought it was a car accident. We came out and looked and [the rock] is what we found. And that’s when the chess pieces started flying off the roof.”
No one was hit by the chess pieces, but that was fortunate because residents say someone could have either been seriously injured or killed.
Likus says he was told the suspects likely followed a resident with a key fob into the building and then went to the roof.
As of Monday night DC Police said no arrests had been made.
Aatur Mehta (left) and Bhavya Gohil capitalised on the commercial potential of their smart chess board Image: Aditi Tailang
The idea came from a project to build a chessboard for the visually impaired. In 2013, Bhavya Gohil and Aatur Mehta, then second-year students of electronics engineering at KJ Somaiya College of Engineering in Mumbai, took up the challenge at their college’s incubator lab RiiDL.
The result of that project—a Braille chessboard with voice feedback and where the opponent’s pieces move on their own—took them to the innovations fair Maker Faire Rome in 2014 where the positive response made the duo realise the commercial potential of their board. The two decided to turn it into a smart chess board that lets the user challenge anyone in the world on a traditional board.
“We never had a conversation [on whether] we have to make this a commercial project, it was a given,” says Gohil, 24, sitting in a conference room at thinQbate in suburban Mumbai, where their company InfiVention Technologies is now incubated.
Four years and seven prototypes on, the chessboard now lets users battle the system’s artificial intelligence (AI) chess engine, which has 20 difficulty levels. The related app Square Off lets users challenge players located anywhere, whether they have the board or not. When your opponent makes a move on the app it plays out on your Square Off board with the selected piece moving on the board.
Square Off has also tied up with chess.com so that brings another 21 million players into the fray, says Gohil. “So any Square Off player will be able to play with any chess.com player and vice versa. This is expected probably by July-end, we have it in beta right now,” adds Mehta, also 24.
The startup, founded by Gohil (CEO) and Mehta (CTO) in September 2015 as Chess Automated soon after they passed out of college, was initially funded by Pranav Marwah, co-founder of thinQbate, and Samir Somaiya, chairman of the KJ Somaiya Trust, after which they took to crowdfunding through Kickstarter and Indiegogo.
“I’m an avid scrounger of interesting consumer products from across the globe via Kickstarter and Indiegogo, so the opportunity to see and invest in a product (and two extremely sharp innovators) with potential up-close was convincing,” says Marwah.
On Kickstarter, their goal was $50,000 and they reached that in six hours. “In 24 days, we raised $220,000,” say the founders who then started the process of manufacturing the board in China. The board has a rosewood finish and traditional wooden pieces and comes in two versions—the Kingdom set and the Grand Kingdom set, priced at $329 and $399 respectively. The latter has an auto reset feature where the pieces move back to their designated spaces at the end of a game.
A seed round of investment of $500,000 from investment firm India Quotient followed in July 2017. While the initial pre-orders were for around 1,800, they did a first run of 2,600 and started delivering the product in January this year. They started selling the surplus on their website (squareoffnow.com) launched in April. “The only downside of building a product like this is the [small] size of the market that it initially attracts or caters to. They’ve constantly shown, however, that even this is something that can be changed,” says Marwah.
The founders seem to have identified their markets. They have tied up with Amazon to sell in the holiday season in the US and a manufacturing run of double their first round is on the cards. “We don’t sell in India yet because it becomes expensive with custom duty and shipping, but maybe next year we can think of a proper launch in India when we have a bigger team in place,” they say.
Though the concept and technologies can be used to play other board games too, for now they are focusing on chess, constantly adding updates. But other tech products are on the cards. “Because now we know the entire cycle, how much time, money and effort it takes, we are starting the R&D,” says Gohil.
While they don’t want to discuss details, what’s certain is that they will be products where the virtual and real worlds meet.
(This story appears in the 20 July, 2018 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com. To visit our Archives, click here.)
FLINT — Ruben Ramon, of Manistee, took second place in the Michigan Senior Championships held on June 23 and 24 in Flint.
In 2015, Ruben Ramon holds his second place trophy that he won competing in the Michigan Senior Open Championships. Ramon again won second place during the tournament in June. (Courtesy Photo)
The Michigan Chess Association is the recognized state affiliate of the national organization, the U.S. Chess Federation. A nonprofit founded in 1931, the MCA sponsors and conducts all state championships tournaments for both children and adults. All its tournaments, except the senior and women’s tournaments, are open to everyone.
“Chess is not a toy, it’s a learning thing,” said Ramon. “I’m glad I was able to learn how to play and to teach others to play.”
He used to teach Chess at Kennedy Elementary.
Ramon placed first in the same tournament in 2008 and again in 2013, then took second place in 2015.
I look at the chessboard — I have an extra pawn and it looks like my prospects are good. My 12-year-old opponent thinks for a moment, and his rook slices down the board. A sacrifice! I take the offered rook but now his queen and knight begin a series of checks. It will end in only one way — checkmate. The king is dead. Long live the king.
For, my opponent is the world’s second youngest Grandmaster (GM) ever: Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa, the boy king. “Prag”, as he is dubbed, is part of the new Indian chess wave — he along with players like Nihal Sarin is breaking records and crushing GMs, powering India to the very apex of chess-playing nations. Frederic Friedel, founder of ChessBase, a leading chess software firm, says Prag is actually ahead of Magnus Carlsen, the current world champion, when Carlsen was at a similar age.
Seven months ago. Hyderabad, November 2017. “Now he is winning,” says Viswanathan Anand. All through the dinner, the five-time world champion was glancing at his smartphone. He was checking an app that tracks the moves played in chess tournaments all over the world. Anand wasn’t watching one of his elite, world-beating peers. He was following the match of Prag, whose race to become the world’s youngest GM had captivated the chess public.
Prag was in Italy at that time, playing the World Junior, the same event Anand had won in 1987. If Prag had won it, he would have become the world’s youngest GM ever. The record was set in 2002 by Sergey Karjakin, at the age of 12 years and 7 months.
Anand was watching Prag play against a top American player, Awonder Liang. “This is one of those Giuocos you shuffle around,” says Anand. The Giuoco Piano is an opening, also known as the Italian Game, which was popularised over 500 years ago in medieval Italy. It leads to complex, strategic battles, which is what unfolded there.
Prag is the real deal. All he needs to do is dot the i’s and cross the t’s. The basic ingredients are all there — just needs to be the complete package
Anand and I analysed some of my recent games. He was giving moves so fast, 2-3 moves ahead of me all the time. I have to improve
That evening, I was having dinner with Anand at a restaurant in Hyderabad. He reminded me that he had to play four times in the World Junior before winning — and he was already 14 when he played the first time, much older than Prag was now. After a phase of manoeuvring, Prag’s higher-rated opponent sacrificed a pawn — but they headed to an endgame where Prag’s rooks ran rampant.
As Anand studied the position, he said Prag was going to notch up a full point. How would he assess a promising player — by their tactics or their strategy? “What you are looking for is fluidity, how you are able to shift from one (kind of position) to another,” he explains.
Prag went on to win the match, netting his first GM “norm”, although he agonisingly missed out on winning the championship. Norms are a benchmark of performance and their seekers are called “normhunters”. Accumulate three of them, and you are made a GM by the governing body of the sport, Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE).
So, is Prag the real deal, I asked Anand. Yes, he is the real deal, he says emphatically. All he needs to do is dot the i’s and cross the t’s. The basic ingredients are all there, just needs to be the complete package. Since that November, Prag has had hits and misses and finally bagged his last GM norm at the Gredine Open in Italy in June. He is also the world’s youngest GM at the moment (Karjakin is now 18) and closer to that complete package Anand talked about. I walk down a quiet street in T Nagar, Chennai, to Chess Gurukul. This is where Prag’s journey began at the coaching academy run by Grandmaster RB Ramesh, which has helped propel him and many others to the top league. The L-shaped hall is crammed with tables with chessboards.
There are trophies everywhere. Bookcases are stuffed with tomes: Key Concepts of Gambit Play by Razuvaev, Yusupovs Boost Your Chess series, several volumes of the venerable ECO (Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings). Prag and his elder sister Vaishali are playing a mock game for a television channel, but even then the voracious appetite the two have for chess is evident: they are taking the game semi-seriously, playing proper moves. Their parents Rameshbabu, a bank employee, and Nagalakshmi, who travels with the children to tournaments look on proudly. They live in Padi, a suburb of Chennai, some 20 km from the academy.
How did Prag get into chess? It began nine years ago. Vaishali was watching too much television, and her parents enrolled her in a chess academy as a diversion. Vaishali brought the game home. Prag, who was three and a half, watched his sister and pestered her to teach him the rules, which he soon mastered. This is fairly extraordinary most prodigies, including Anand and Carlsen, learnt around the age of six. Prag also shares a trait with the legendary Bobby Fischer in that he was taught by his sister rather than a parent.
I ask about the rather unusual name Praggnanandhaa. Rameshbabu shows his pendant. We are devotees of Kalki Bhagwan, he says. A priest from the Kalki ashram picked the names for both children, including Praggnanandhaa (delight of the intellect), for he had said that one day the boy would have the world under his feet. Prag soon began playing tournaments. His extreme youth meant he was playing much older children. He was never scared, says his father. A glittering run, including winning the World Cadet Championship (U8 Boys), brought him to Rameshs attention. The prodigy joined the academy and has been commuting by bus every day. Prags first game as a GM will be one for the record books it was a smashing victory against World No. 7 Wesley So at the Leon tournament in Spain. After that game, So said, I think my opponent is a genius. Are you busy preparing now? I ask Prag.
I just want to have fun, he says. I ask him about the Gredine Open, which netted him the GM title. Prag had the norm in the bag but still had a round to play against the strong Dutch player Pruijssers Roeland. He just needed a draw. My mother said a draw was OK but I wanted to play, he says with a smile. When Roeland went wrong in the opening, he relentlessly applied pressure and snared him in a checkmating net. I ask him about his best game a win over GM Alex Bachmann two years ago, which shot him into the limelight. Prag had just turned 11 then.
He zips through the moves to show me, but gets stuck he cant remember the exact sequence. While Vaishali is looking up the moves in her phone, he simply goes to the final position which has him about to deliver checkmate to the beleaguered enemy king and works backward like a tape on rewind. What were his emotions during that final attack? I was calculating. Then he resigned, he laconically replies. The game is quite remarkable in that it shows Prags utter fearlessness. The opponent a super-grandmaster (a term for those whose ratings are higher than 2600 on the Elo scale) had gone for an ultra-aggressive approach right from the start, but Prag had replied with equal ferocity. He doesnt remember how many countries he has travelled to. Every journey means airport, venue and back to the airport. He is not much into sightseeing. In some countries you can manage with English. In Russia you have to speak Russian, is his response when I try to ask him about culture shock. I read books, he says.
What’s his favourite? He thinks for a moment.Gelfand’s Positional Decision Making.What are his inclinations as a player? I like to play e4,he says, referring to moving the king-pawn first, which generally leads to sharper positions. Does he prefer a tactical or a strategic approach? Tactics, but sometimes I like to go slow and crush them positionally,he says with a grin.
I like to calculate. How many hours does he put in daily. Four-five hours is enough for me, he says. I remember the famous Pele quote: I train one hour a day, while the rest of the time I think about football. I try to ask Prag about hobbies, but he is getting visibly bored. I suggest a blitz game.
His eyes light up. He brings out the chess clock an ingenious contrivance where two stop clocks are attached; with each move you stop your own clock and start your opponents.
With the advent of digital clocks, increments can also be added, which means with each completed move, some extra time is added. We sit across the board. The pieces are all worn down the king without the cross, the bishop without the mitre testimony to a thousand battles. He sets the clock: 11 seconds for the entire game, with 1 second increment. I look at him, there is no way I can play that fast. He reluctantly agrees and sets it to 1 minute, which to him is probably an eternity. When I demur again, he sets it to the regulation 3 2 3 minutes for the game, with 2 seconds added for each completed move.
This, for someone who plays as fast as him, will feel like forever and a day. I play black and he opens with the king pawn and follows it up with a bishop move. I can see where this is going he wants to set up his bishop and queen and deliver checkmate in about four moves approximately. I know how to counter this, though, and soon the play becomes fast and furious. We castle on opposing sides of the board he hurls his pawns towards my king, I snap up the sacrificed footsoldiers but now there is a blistering attack on my castled king position.
He is playing almost instantaneously while I’m taking more and more time, trying to calculate my way out. Finally, I counterattack in the centre my hope is to consolidate and then make my extra pawn pay. He reacts coolly, allowing my break, but now his queen and knight are descending onto my king a shot. A rook sacrifice blows open the position and I am in a situation perhaps familiar to his opponents imminent and inevitable checkmate.
He points to some improvements I could have made but seems satisfied with my play. I look at the clock thanks to increments, he has more time than he started off with, while Im down to my last few seconds. It can be odd talking to him sometimes he gives the air of a much older person, giving out variations, before slipping back into the mischievous boy. When the interview is over, he runs off to play hide-and-seek in the car park. He had recently visited Anand at his home, We analysed some of my recent games, he says.
How was it? He was giving moves so fast, 2-3 moves ahead of me all the time. He was too fast… I have to improve, he says. Does he analyse with his rivals after a game? The postmortem is one of the hallowed traditions of chess. If I win, I don’t, he says, because the opponent might be in a bad mood.Does he look at his own games? If I lose, I analyse. If its bad I forget it. I can forget anything if I want to. As the true masters know, remembering is easy, but learning to forget is the hardest thing.
As he runs off to play with the other kids, I try my best to fix the moves of the game we just played, but I know it will fade with time. Still I relish the encounter I might have just played a future world champion.