The Supreme Court: Every seat "a chess piece in the struggle for power" – CBS News


Christine Blasey Ford has agreed to testify this coming week about her allegation of assault by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Word came yesterday – after a standoff between her and the Senate Judiciary Committee. Martha Teichner takes us behind the headlines:

For the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, this past week has been all about optics – how to stage manage the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation vote, fast, before November’s midterm elections.

But at the same time, to look like the embodiment of sensitivity toward Christine Blasey Ford.

“Where I’m focused right now is doing everything that we can to make Dr. Ford comfortable,” Grassley said.

Call it Grassley’s – no, the entire Judiciary Committee’s – Anita Hill problem.

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Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual misconduct by Christine Blasey Ford while the two were in high school.

CBS

“People are asking, how we could have let your statements slip past us?” Grassley said to Hill in 1991 “How could we have had the committee vote without airing this matter?” Grassley said.

Grassley is one of three senators still on the committee (Sens. Orrin Hatch and Patrick Leahy are the others), who were there for the spectacle of 14 white men confronting law professor Anita Hill over allegations of sexual harassment against then-Supreme Court nominee (now Justice) Clarence Thomas.

Sen. Arlen Specter: “Professor Hill, you said that you took it to mean that Judge Thomas wanted to have sex with you but in fact he never did ask you to have sex, correct?”
Anita Hill: “No, he did not ask me to have sex. He did continually pressure me to go out with him, continually.”

Millions of women voters with long memories were offended.

Sen. Howell Heflin: “Are you a scorned woman?”
Hill: “No.”

“So, they had no idea how to handle this,” said Nina Totenberg, legal affairs correspondent for NPR. “And I have to say, I don’t think they took it very seriously.”

Totenberg broke the Anita Hill story, and is covering the replay.

“This is an election year, after all,” Totenberg said. “Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want to look insensitive. But it is a very political proceeding. A great deal of what we see on camera will be, and has been, role-playing.”

In The New York Times last week, Hill wrote that the Senate Judiciary Committee appears to have “learned little from the Thomas hearing, much less the more recent #MeToo movement.”

So, can this week’s hearing be fair, to either Blasey Ford or Judge Kavanaugh?  

“Confirmation hearings are never fair,” Totenberg said. “It’s the nature of the beast. It’s pretty raw politics.”

President Trump railed against those who would “take a man like this and besmirch [him].”

“What is this White House afraid of?” asked Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. “What is this president afraid of?”

Sen. John Cornyn said, “We don’t want this to be a three-ring circus.”

“I just want to say to the men in this country just shut up and step up. Do the right thing,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking on Friday to the Values Voter Summit in Washington, said, “You’ve just watched the fight; you’ve watched the tactics. But here’s what I want to tell you: In the very near future Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court.”

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and author of “The Soul of America,” said, “The Supreme Court has always been a political body, but it hasn’t always been a weapon in the wars of polarization, and that’s what we’re seeing.

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Random House

“A central thing to remember here is that ever since 1962, which was the school prayer decision, the Supreme Court has been at the center of the conservative agenda for power. This was clearly advanced as well by Roe v. Wade, but you didn’t have these kind of confirmation battles. You have them now, because every seat is seen as a chess piece in the struggle for power.”

Republicans remember the defeat of Reagan nominee Robert Bork, in 1987 – a campaign so ugly that “bork” became a verb, meaning to kill someone politically.

Democrats were apoplectic when Sen. Mitch McConnell refused – for nearly 10 months – even to hold hearings on nominee Merrick Garland, running out the clock on the Obama presidency.

“It is a President’s Constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court Justice,” McConnell said then. “And it is the Senate’s Constitutional right to act as a check on a President and withhold its consent.”

Meacham said, “Ideally the Senate should be an umpire in American life. The Constitutional structure was set up so that they would be the saucer in which the milk cooled. Right now the Senate isn’t doing that.”

So, where does that leave this week’s “he said, she said” … and the vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination that will surely follow?

“All these interests with an investment in the outcome are more interested in pressing ahead to rush a vote than they are in finding out the truth,” Meacham said. “And I think that that’s one of the reasons a moment like this is going to create even more division in a country that a lot of us thought couldn’t be much more divided.”

     
For more info: 

     
Story produced by Kay Lim and Young Kim.



'Know what you're walking into': For these middle schoolers, chess is serious business – Twin Falls Times-News


TWIN FALLS — Every move is calculated. Every thought is at least three steps ahead. These are just the beginning steps to mastering chess.

Behdad Ebadeh Ahwazi challenges Peter Clark to a game of chess. Clark, a math teacher at Robert Stuart Middle School, has an ongoing rivalry with Ebadeh Ahwazi, the eighth-grade president of the school’s chess club.


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Chess Club

Ezekiel Heikkila, 13, moves his king Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, during Chess Club at Robert Stuart Middle School in Twin Falls.



They sit down for their 15th game. So far Ebadeh Ahwazi has won two games.

“People think of chess players as nerds with thick-rimmed glasses,” Clark pauses. “I guess we can’t dispute that cause we are both wearing thick-rimmed glasses.”

The two start their game. To the untrained eye, it looks like an even game: blow for blow, piece for piece. Clark smirks and uses this as a moment to teach.

“In higher level play even losing a pawn is crucial,” he said as he takes a pawn.

Ebadeh Ahwazi looks at the board, his king isn’t immediately threatened, but he admits defeat.


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Chess Club

Ezekiel Heikkila, 13, waits for an opponent Thursday during Chess Club at Robert Stuart Middle School in Twin Falls.



Ebadeh Ahwazi isn’t discouraged by the loss; he uses it as inspiration. He plays with everyone. He reads books on it. He plays a chess app.

It’s more than a game, it’s his lifestyle.

At noon Saturday, Robert Stuart Middle School is hosting its second chess tournament. The chess tournament is open to all skill levels.

Every Thursday at Robert Stuart, upwards of 20 students attend the club meetings — including homeschooled students and students from Robert Stuart, South Hills and Vera C. O’Leary middle schools.

The club started last year when Clark wanted to give students a place to learn the game.

Clark started playing chess at 8 and in played in tournaments in junior high.

“You guys can be as good as you want to be,” he said. “It depends on how much time you put into it.”


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Chess Club

Lyzette Ursenback, 12, holds her hand on a piece as she considers a move Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, during Chess Club at Robert Stuart Middle School in Twin Falls.



Ebadeh Ahwazi’s advice for anyone wanting to get into the sport is simple: “You need to take time and study it so you know what you’re walking into.”

The club is full of burgeoning prodigies. Darren Su, a fifth-grader at Sawtooth, walks around the club asking every person if they want to play a game.


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Chess Club

Darren Su, 9, studies a chess formation Thursday during Chess Club at Robert Stuart Middle School in Twin Falls.



Su doesn’t hesitate to ask an adult to play him in a game. He’s even quicker to announce when his opponent has made a bad move.

Eighth-grader Lincoln Whitney recently beat DeWayne Derryberry, one of the top chess players in Idaho.

“Every game is different than the last,” Whitney said. “It’s a fair game.”


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Chess Club

Chess Coach Peter Clark talks about a chess publication Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, during Chess Club at Robert Stuart Middle School in Twin Falls.



Chess is a chance for students to think in a different way, said Lindsay Clark, Peter Clark’s wife and partner in overseeing the chess club.

Lindsay Clark, who oversees the homeschool group, said they’ve built this club from the ground up so kids can learn to play.

“The best thing about chess is that anyone can play,” she said.



Chess: US favourites to maintain Russia's title drought at Olympiad – The Guardian


The United States, Russia and China are top seeded and the teams to beat at the 179-nation biennial Olympiad, which starts at Batumi, Georgia, on Monday. Russia and China are the favourites in the women’s event.

For half a century in the Soviet era their teams of legends led by Mikhail Botvinnik, Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov were totally dominant. In 26 Olympiads from Helsinki 1952 to Bled 2002 the USSR/Russia won every time bar 1976, when the Soviets boycotted the event in Israel, and 1978, when Hungary were first.

The golden generation at their zenith hated to lose a single game. When Botvinnik was beaten by Austria’s Andreas Dückstein in 1958, bad light was blamed and the Munich organisers had to install a special lamp at the world champion’s board. When Mikhail Tal fell into a prepared variation against Jonathan Penrose at Leipzig 1960, the USSR’s only loss, he blamed Paul Keres, who had been caught by the same plan a few weeks earlier but had omitted to tell his teammate. There was a darker episode at Dubai 1986, where Soviet trainers gave advice to England’s Spanish opponents during the games.

But from 2004 onwards Russia, though top-seeded every time, have failed at seven Olympiads in a row. Armenia have won three, Ukraine two and China and the US one each. The Americans are the reigning Olympiad champions and will be hard to dislodge. Their top-10 trio of the world title challenger, Fabiano Caruana, Wesley So and Hikaru Nakamura are backed up by the reigning US champion, Sam Shankland, who this summer had a 62-game unbeaten run.

Russia is taking the Olympiad very seriously, and Vladimir Putin himself visited the team training camp in Sochi this week to wish the open and women’s teams success.





Vladimir Putin Russia chess team



Vladimir Putin poses for a photograph with members of the Russian national chess team at their training camp in Sochi before the Olympiad. Photograph: Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS

England, with Michael Adams, David Howell, Gawain Jones, Luke McShane and Nick Pert, are seeded eighth. On paper this implies an outside medal chance, but the silver years of 1984-88, when England were bested only by the USSR, are a distant memory. England’s players will count it a success if they match their seeding.

Monday’s opening Olympiad round starts at midday, and all England’s matches will be shown free and live online at chess24.com.

Iran’s young team, though ranked outside the top 20, may surprise. Many chess fans link Iranian chess only with its 1979 revolution ban on the game, which lasted nine years before it was lifted by the Ayatollah Khomeini, and with the recent controversy over the mandatory hijab for female players.

At last week’s world junior championship in Turkey two of Iran’s teenage grandmasters finished high up, while the third, Parham Maghsoodloo, won the title in truly impressive style. The 18-year-old, who said “ It’s good to play for a win and be a fighter,” works on chess 10-15 hours a day. He has jumped 44 places in the live ratings, is poised to become Iran’s first ever 2700-rated GM and hopes to challenge Magnus Carlsen in 2022.

This game clinched the junior crown with a game to spare. White controls the centre with his d5 knight, systematically opens up the black king and finishes off with a forced mate.

Parham Maghsoodloo v Maksim Vavulin

1 Nf3 c5 2 e4 d6 3 d4 Nf6 4 Nc3 cxd4 5 Nxd4 a6 6 h3 e5 7 Nde2 h5 8 Bg5 Be6 9 Bxf6 Qxf6 10 Nd5 Qd8 11 Qd3 g6 12 0-0-0 Bh6+ 13 Kb1 Nd7 14 Qa3 Nc5 15 Nec3 0-0 16 h4 b5 17 f3 f5 18 Be2 Bg7 19 g4 hxg4 20 fxg4 fxg4 21 Rhg1 Rb8 22 Bxg4 Bf7 23 h5 gxh5 24 Bf5 Kh8 25 Ne2 Bh6 26 Qh3 Rg8 27 Rxg8+ Qxg8 28 Rg1 Qf8 29 Ng3 Rb7 30 Nf6 b4 31 Ngxh5 a5 32 Nh7 Bxa2+ 33 Kxa2 Rxh7 34 Bxh7 Kxh7 35 Qg4 Qf7+ 36 Kb1 Ne6 37 Nf6+ 1-0

3585 (by Einar Kudsen, Skakbladet 1925), 1 Qh5. If Re5 2 Qd1 mate. If Rf8/f7/f6 2 B(x)f6 mate. If Rf4/f3/f2/f1 2 B(x)f4 mate. If Ke5 2 Rc5 mate.



CHESS COLUMN: Defenders of the realm – Enid News & Eagle



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Chess Corner: Defenders of the realm

In this week’s position the theme of “removing the defender” is illustrated. White employs this idea to win a pawn. With this hint in mind, please try to find white’s best move.

White’s rook on c1 has latent power along the “c” file. Black’s knight on c6 is in the white rook’s line of sight but is guarded by black’s b7 pawn.

White’s knight on c5 removes the defender on b7 by capturing black’s b7 pawn. This simultaneously exposes black’s c6 knight to white’s c1 rook. Black must capture white’s knight on b7 after it captures the pawn because the knight threatens black’s queen.

Hence, black’s rook on b8 takes the white knight after it captures the black b7 pawn. White’s c1 rook next takes the black knight on c6 (see next diagram).


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Chess Corner: Defenders of the realm

Black has lost a pawn. Moreover, the loss is not compensated by some sort positional gain or counter-play. Thus, black is losing and, if black does not outplay white from here on out, black is lost.

The lesson this week is that pieces that nobly assume the role of defending other pieces — defenders of the realm, so to speak — are an inherent point of vulnerability in any position. Any review of a given position should account for such points.

Reach Eric Morrow at ericmorrowlaw@gmail.com or (505) 327-7121.



Stockfish Leads 8 Engines In Computer Chess Championship Stage 2; Lc0 A Contender – Chess.com


The first stage of the first Computer Chess Championship event is in the books, and after 562 official games Stockfish tops the leaderboard with an excellent score of 39/46, the first of eight engines to advance to stage two.

The two other big-name engines, Komodo (38/46) and Houdini (37/46), are just below Stockfish at the end of the stage one, with a large gap between those three and the next five engines in the standings.

The machine-learning chess project Lc0 (“Leela“) finished in a solid fifth place with 32.5/46, good enough to advance to the next round as the neural-network engine wows fans with its intuitive and energetic play.

Created just eight months ago, Lc0 has improved rapidly enough to stake a claim as one of the world’s top five chess engines—and it’s not done gaining strength.

The Fire chess engine was in fourth place as stage one closed, nipping Lc0 by a half-point on 33/46. Ethereal, Booot and Andscacs round out the top eight to advance.

Stage one standings:

The top eight engines advance to CCCC 1: Rapid Rumble stage two.

The top eight engines advance to stage two of the tournament. 

Stage two:

Those eight engines will now battle in an intensive, 280-game stage as each engine plays every other five times as White and five times as Black in stage two. The top two finishers of stage two will play each other in a 200-game superfinal. Stage two is underway now at Chess.com/CCCC and Twitch.tv/computerchess. 

Visit the main CCCC page for interactive features in the groundbreaking Chess.com UI, or go to Twitch if you want to relax with some music generated by artificial intelligence. Both sites feature the same chat room (which is likely overflowing with Leela hype as you read this). 

Stage two of the Rapid Rumble is expected to last about a week before the two top engines emerge to play a weeklong superfinal. In stage two, the engines begin each pairing with a random, four-ply (two-move) opening book. In the next game between the two engines, the colors are reversed and the same line is played.

The four-ply lines are chosen randomly from a set of 354 openings that CCCC developers deemed “reasonably balanced.” The miniature opening books provide variety of play and interesting positions likely never-before-played at such a high level of strength. 

Games of stage one:

Computer chess fans can now download the entire 569-game PGN from stage one, which includes the 552 official games counted for the standings and 17 more that were affected by technical issues. 

Download full PGN CCCC 1: Rapid Rumble | Stage 1

What was the best game of stage one? Many Leela fans would choose Lc0’s demolition of the Crafty engine from late in the stage. Leela’s early Rxg7 sacrifice was both beautiful and pragmatic.

Lc0-Crafty is a candidate for game of the tournament. Do you have a different choice for best game? Post it in the comments.

CCC 2: blitz

Chess.com also announced this week that the second CCC event, due to start in early October, will be at a blitz time control of five minutes per game plus two-second increment

Stage one prediction contest:

The five Chess.com members who predicted the most accurate round-robin standings for stage one were rewarded with membership prizes.

The Chess.com member @supercell45678 topped the contest standings with nine correct picks, including four of the top five. Accuracy in the top five was used as the first tiebreaker. For the win, @supercell45678 received three years of Chess.com diamond membership.

The members @Karavadgooo and @Cardhu32 shared second-third place with nine correct picks and three of the top five. They each received one year of diamond membership. 

Members @pourya7 and @weski shared fourth-fifth with nine correct picks and one of the top five. They received three months each of diamond membership. 

Follow the Computer Chess Championship 24 hours a day at Chess.com/CCCC to watch your favorite engines and chat with computer chess fans.


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