Sometimes chess games really are like baseball

Last night I visited the Arlington Chess Club (VA), and played a ladder game against another B player.  I’ll get to the game in a moment.

We had some informal discussion of the “5 second delay” rule in game-time control settings, which usually starts in the last 5 minutes of the clock.

There is a general feeling that the rule rewards players who have managed their time badly until the last 5 minutes.  If you can make every move in 5 seconds, the clock never advances.  Typically, if you have a won position there is much less chance of blowing it, so there is more emphasis on playing well in the early parts of the game than on “coming from behind” for a ninth-inning walkoff, so to speak. That could mean that there is more value in playing sound openings systems. Maybe a 2-second delay would be more desirable.  And cheaper electronic clocks (and old manual clocks like the Benko’s, popular in the 1960s) don’t offer the delays.

When clubs have action tournaments (3 rounds in an evening or 5 rounds on a Saturday) it is difficult to get all games in one round finished.  I think a two second delay is better.  It is true that at a Chess for Charity even in 2016 I had two opponents get into time trouble and not handle the 5 second rule well.  I won those games, one of them setting a trap with a back rank mate just before he might have forfeited, when he had been winning a few moves before.

Last night I had Black and played a Grunfeld.

D4 Nf6 2. C4 g6 3. Nc3 b5 4. E3 (not critical) Bg7 5. Nf3 OO 6. Bd3 a6 7. Cxd 8. Nxd4 8. E4 (why not in one move?) NxNc3 9, bxc3 c5 10. Be3 Nc6 11 rc1 (this could leave the a pawn hanging to a Qa5 check, but it is often very risk for Black to try to win a pawn this way; but it seems to be a blunder in the center anyway) cxd4 12 cxd4 Nxd4 13 00 Bg4 14 h3 Nxf3 ch 15 gcf Bxh3  White has apparently blundered two pawns, but it isn’t as easy for Black as it looks 16 Re1 Rc8 17, Qb3 (where the white Queen usually belongs in the Grunfeld, to set up threats on black’s g6 with the white Bishop) b5 18. RxRc8 BxRc8 (intending to give the Bishop more scope and possibly attacking on the diagonal) 19 Re1 Qc7 20 Rc1 Qe5 21. F4 .

Now should Black play Qh5 (as I did) intending to check and chase the W king, or play Qb2 and force a queen trade 2 pawns ahead.  That’s probably best, although White’s rook is a lot more active and can make the ending harder than it looks.  Instead, I tried to attack and in the ensuing scramble overlooked the Bxg6 threat and blundered the two pawns back.  Then I won the QRP but then lost two more pawns..  Finally we wound up in an ending came where my King was more active and won his extra pawn back.  I was able to lose a move to get the opposition and win the K+P v K+P ending, but my opponent missed a chance to do the same.

This was like a sloppy see-saw baseball game.  My blundering on the Bxg6 was like a pitcher’s hanging a slider right over the heart of the plate.  He hit it out of the park.  But several more reciprocal blunders happened.  This game belonged to the bullpen, but neither “team” ‘s relievers were very effective. This was like pulling out a game on the road in the top of the ninth after having blown a big lead earlier and winning a one-runner by finally hanging on.

Maybe the Washington Nationals need Magnus Carlsen as their closer.  He is an outstanding athlete. Donald Trump admires him.  Why not have a public simulataneous exhibition (shown on the scoreboard) as a pregame show at Nationals Park or maybe Mets CitiField?

(Posted: Saturday, May 13, 2017 at 1 PM EDT)

Update: Tuesday, May 16, 2017 10 AM

In the picture above,  I am playing Black (Black is moving away from me).  if White to move, Black wins (by zugwang).

Note the lesson video above.

“DADT” is about the obligations of the individual, turning policy inside out

The primary focus of my “Do Ask, Do Tell” books and blog posting chains is, how should the individual who perceives the self as somehow different or special, behave and be expected to behave?

I’ve turned the usual paradigm for talking about policy inside out, like an opposite-field hitter in baseball.

The usual way of asking a policy question is, what will work, and what will be “fairest” to all?  Usually that degenerates to, what policy serves the interest of the voter base who put someone in power?

But it’s also true that a reasonable and fair outcome depends on the behaviors of individual people, whether people in a position of some unearned privilege will chose to do what they must.

Generally, the more people will make the “morally right” choices (which really are completely open choices) the less the government needs to intervene.

For example, we say we value all human life.  But we expect some people to take some risks for the good others.  Look at services ranging from volunteer fire departments to the military.  Think back at how the draft used to work.

We usually talk about health care policy in terms of what is “fairest” to the greatest number.  We have to provide services, we have to pay for them, and we have to get people to pay for services given to others that they have very little chance to benefit from, or else pay for them through taxes, as a public good (which practically all western countries find necessary).

But if we depend less on taxes or compulsory mechanisms (like mandatory insurance for unwanted coverage), then individuals need to step up to need.  Sometimes this means intervening in unusual ways, in an individualistic “mind your own business” world.  Sometimes it means accepting ties that seem silly or gratuitous.  Sometimes it means belonging to groups and internalizing their goals as if they were partly one’s own, and accepting the outcome for the group, and the authority of the group, in place of one’s own direction.  It has to get localized.

A person who takes undue advantage of the covert sacrifices of others and doesn’t own up to this when needed, generally faces consequences and is likely to lose it to the wrongful actions of others.

(Posted: Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 10:15 PM EDT)


DADT IV: Moral Redux: Video Outline

I am planning to make a video of the “Do Ask, Do Tell Moral Redux”, which would follow the DADT-III book, with an introduction following the Introduction and Epilogue of the book, and three more videos following roughly the first three chapters.

But the video will also explain the logic of the earlier postings in this thread (label DADT IV).

The Url for the outline is here.   For some reason, WordPress kept all the extra Word code when I converted it (when I look at the file directly with Internet Explorer or Chrome it shows the outline as it looks in Word; when put it into WordPress, it shows all the unnecessary Word code.  I’ll have to work on this later.

The words in red are “buzzwords” or “keywords” that help the viewer get the gist of the argument.

I would expect to make Powerpoint charts from these as a prop for the video.

(Posted: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 11:20 PM EDT)

The reference to “Pharisees” in the last short story in my DADT III book

At the opening of the short story “The Ocelot the Way He Is”, a third party revolutionary or possible “terrorist” is depicted in a private residential conversation of referring to “Bill” (based on me) as a “Pharisee”, figuratively.  The “Bill” is seen as someone who likes to be heard or be listened to (regarding the title of the DADT-III book) and known for his “much speaking.”

Actually, many scholars view the Pharisees as more progressive than the Sadducees, but in a sense that is a problem.  They were the “elitist” who preached the right answers for everybody else but didn’t put their own skin in the game.  But they weren’t necessarily rich or politically powerful,  They were somewhat asymmetric in their influence.  But they still didn’t care for “people as people” all that much.

Here is a link   discussing the Sadducees v. Pharisees.  Both the “conservatives” and the “liberals” were dangerous when pressed and neither were too compassionate with real people (think of today’s Republicans and Democrats, or “Republicrats”).

Here’s a discussion of how Jesus felt about the Pharisees and “scribes” (and perhaps sophists).

(Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2017 at 11 PM EDT)



Maundy Thursday: Cleansing, vulnerability, and tribunals — and maybe resilience

The First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC this evening held a Maundy Thursday communion service in three parts: “The Preparation”, “The Cleansing”, and “The Meal”. It was concluded by the Stripping of the Altar.

“The Cleansing” was a foot washing, which I “watched”, but at least I attended.  The celebrants would line up as if for communion, but each participant would wash one person’s feet as well as be washed. The program said, “Foot washing involves some vulnerability”.

In John Chapter 13 Peter at first refuses to let Jesus wash his feet.  It is curious that Peter would refuse this from his best friend.  The critical verses are from 7-10.

One could say that this is about “serving” and “being served”.  But it may be more, about accepting vulnerability as a necessary part of socialization.

I could relate this to the “Tribunals” at William and Mary in the “Do Ask, Do Tell I” book, Chapter 1, Section 04

Or I could correlate it to the “Be Brace and Shave” cancer fundraisers of a few years ago at the Westover Market in Arlington VA.  It gets to be a social resilience matter.

(Posted: Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 11 PM EDT)

Backyard baseball (or softball) revisited

Remember backyard baseball?  Or maybe softball?  Where 12 run half-innings were commonplace.

It seems that the Nationals found that out Saturday night in Philadelphia when they gave up 12 runs in the bottom of the first, with a spot starter who couldn’t get anybody out. story. Here’s the link (to see the embed you may need to view it without https).

The Nats made up for it with a 14-6 win against St. Louis tonight. 14 runs without homers.

But in 1958, we had a “league”, where individuals played games of softball with the rules adjusted so that scores were “reasonable”.  You had to score (either hit a homer, get a wild pitch, or outrun the pitcher) in most cases. But maybe every yard was a Fenway Park or a Coors Field.

Imagine an enclosed climate controlled stadium on Mars. Outfield fences would be 1000 feet away.  But players might not be as strong, living in less gravity.

(Posted: Monday, April 10, 2017 at 11:30 PM EDT)

I didn’t play up the word ‘privilege’ in my DADT III book as much as I might have

I have a slight addition to the “Epilogue” (perhaps Arnold Bax-like) of the “non fiction” part of my “Do Ask, Do Tell III” book: “Speech is a fundamental right, but being listened to is a privilege”.

A text search of the chapter doesn’t use the word “privilege” at all, except to mention my 2005 essay “The Privilege of Being Listened to”, which folded into a controversy about my online presence when I worked as a substitute teacher (March 6, 2014 post). Remember, in 2006 a reader in Australia excoriated me on this essay (here).

Right now, I am reading a book by Phoebe Maltz Bovy, “The Perils of ‘Privilege’: Why Injustice Can’t Be Solved by Accusing Others of Advantage”, St. Martin’s Press, 2017.  I will give a full review soon on my WordPress Media Commentary blog.  The basic argument is one of paradox:  being in a position to accuse others of being privileged is itself a privilege.  Furthermore, it presumes that the point of life is to get a grade on how self-sufficient you were.

Already, there is the interesting point about what I have called “conflict of interest”: A teacher, professor or workplace supervisor should not go online to discuss the “privilege” of some person he or she has power over.

There’s been a difficult I.T. problem (story ) in the Arlington VA school system with the system that allows parents to enroll their kids in “extended day” for middle and elementary grades.  I did work on some Extended Day assignments in the fall of 2004 (Feb. 20, 2014 post).   This can put working parents (where both work) in a real bind knowing if their child(ren) is (are) enrolled at all.  There were few problems with these (although there was someone who wasn’t potty trained once).  Maybe I should have worked as an IT consultant during those years.  Actually, once they had a payroll problem that was related to not using the “distinct” option in an SQL SELECT statement.

(Posted: Monday, April 3, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT)

There are two organizations using the name “CAIR” and this turns out to be important

There is some follow-up on the March 25 post.  The Virginia attorney I had met with on Oct. 4 had mentioned the “CAIR org” as an organization that might be able to supervise a housing offer.  (The other group had been Ayuda , which specializes in Latin American immigrants.)

When I looked up CAIR online I found the Council on American Islamic Relations.  But apparently I dropped the signal on this one.

But today I learned on Facebook, from a new DC Center Global posting,  about an upcoming briefing by a different group, the Capital Area Immigrants’  Rights Coalition  which also uses the acronym.

This might be significant. CAIR Coalition focuses on immigrants in detention or facing deportation, including some asylum seekers, and has considerable legal expertise in Virginia specifically.  A large number of detainees are kept in facilities in Virginia, which I was not aware of (the nearest facility I knew about is near York, PA).  The group recruits volunteers who can answer phone banks or assist with detention facility visits or possibly credible fear hearings (as witnesses).  The group prefers volunteers to be fluent in immigrant languages (especially Spanish or Arabic).  The website that the group does supervise foster care housing arrangements for unaccompanied minors (usually teens 15-17).  The site does not mention a need for hosts for adults.  As far as I know, it is generally not possible for potential hosts to “bail people out of detention” unless they are relatives or in some other way unusually credible in the view of ICE.  However, in connecting the dots, one wonders if the group could help other organizations (Center Global) which have published requests for hosts.

I will follow up on this.

(Posted: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 at 11:45 PM EDT)

My availability to provide housing hosting: here is my statement

Since last summer, late July, I have considered the possibility of hosting an asylum seeker or possibly an international refugee in my “inherited” trust house.  I see that I discussed my previous experience with this matter on February 23, 2014 (and to some extent Nov. 2, 2016).

I won’t give a detailed history of all the discussions, but I have met with an attorney separately in Virginia (where I lived), for some sense of what legal risks could be involved. I’ve documented elsewhere the requests for housing assistance particularly from The DC Center Global, as here on a legacy blog.

There is a big difference between refugees and asylum seekers.  Refugees are vetted by the State Department and by Homeland Security before they arrive.  They can get benefits and can go to work and support themselves.  They usually have support from religious congregations, which work through a number of non-profits (themselves faith-based) who work with DHS.  Generally these non-profits are pretty mainstream now and don’t impose their religious values (as with LGBTQ people).  Usually refugees are intact families that are put up in commercially run apartments with rental assistance.  Occasionally there are single individuals who are placed with people who know them (relatives if possible) or whom social service agencies locate.

Asylum seekers are already here in the U.S.  They may have overstayed their visas, but applied for political asylum within the one year period of arrival (in most cases).  They might have entered illegally and then requested asylum, in which cases they are often placed in detention.

Asylum seekers are not allowed to work or get federal benefits for some number of months (6-9) after application.  Asylum cases can take an extremely long time to be heard by immigration judges.  In practice, judges have a lot of discretion on applying ideas like “particular social group” or “credible fear”.  It’s conceivable that the Trump administration could try to tighten these, but there is no really clear sign yet that this is happening,

Asylum seekers, by definition, have not been vetted before coming.  Therefore, it is riskier, on its face, to allow them to circulate freely in American society.  Generally, the idea behind the law is that asylum seekers are welcome when some individual or family or small social group will vouch for their integrity and will financially and physically support them.  That means that asylum seekers who have relatives in the US usually have more sources of help than those who do not.

The best host, then, is usually a relative or someone who already knows the asylum seeker personally,  Someone else who would host an asylum seeker might be able to do a background check with a school or employer, if the person had been here on a work or study visa.  A host might be able to use one of the many “background investigation” sites on the Internet to do a check of public records.  But the prospective host has the situation of potential liability for the behavior of the person hosted without (short of very radical ideas like marriage or adoption) the legal arrangements that are possible, say, in Canada, which has legally well defined private sponsorship status in its family law.

Organizations seeking to assist asylum seekers do not have the resources behind them that churches assisting the hosting of refugees have. Generally that may be asking “strangers” to host them without the usual reassurance of knowing the person well, and without the social service agency supervision that lawyers have told me personally is necessary.  One practical solution is to ask prospective hosts to volunteer for a while to get to know the people first, to help build “social capital”.  This might be problematic if a volunteer has housing space but resists offering it out of personal caution.  So hosting gets to be seen as an act of “faith”.  It’s easy to misuse other people’s “faith”.  But it’s also true that a potential host, like me, could have the “Rich Young Ruler Problem”.  That is, he has limited social capital personally (because he has a veneer of self-sufficiency) and has a lot to lose if something goes terribly wrong.  On the other hand, someone used to a communal lifestyle with “less to lose” might think that offering hosting is not much of a deal and ought to be expected of everyone.

The host does face some possible hazards . Without going into too much detail, these could include housing someone with illegal status after an application is denied (although there are some faith-based groups who attract volunteers who see providing sanctuary to undocumented immigrants as a moral duty – that is another matter), a “trojan horse” person (Donald Trump’s “take care of your own first” idea), or criminal misuse of the host’s Internet router.  Another possibility is that, especially depending on unknown future developments, the person becomes a long term financial dependent in areas like health care treatment (including HIV-related).  There can be general social adjustment issues around behaviors like smoking., recreational drugs or alcohol.

At this point, let me reiterate what my own position on hosting anyone is.

If I know the person already (even if primarily onine), my attitude is no different than anyone else’s would be.  It all depends on that person and my connection to him/her.  It may be easier if the person is publicly known.  This is the normal experience of having a house guest.  It’s not an issue.  But I’ add that I don’t “do” Airbnb (either as a provider or guest).

If it involves a request to house a person suddenly in need of housing, and I learn of this suddenly:

If I already know the person, then it is no issue (above).

If I learn about the situation at a social or volunteer event and the person is not from overseas, I would need to talk to the person in detail and would need references (see Feb.23 posting – I’m stricter now than I was then).  This actually happened once in early January, 2017 but I took no action..  It is very unusual in general.

If it is an international hosting situation (refugee or especially asylum seeker) and if I do not know the person already, I need to have a scheduled in-person private meeting with at least one attorney or professional social worker representing the organization, to discuss a number of potentially adverse scenarios.  Some time (up to two weeks) could elapse before I decided if I’m “in” or remain “out” (no pun).  I make no apologies for my “faith deficit” or lack of “social capital”.  Actually, I may have my own sources of social capital to bring to the table.  But an existing organization asking for this kind of assistance must recognize me as an “Out of Network” provider.

It could help if the organization offered a public “town hall”  information forum for potential hosts, or published an FAQ page, after review by an immigration attorney.

In talking about “knowing the person” from online activity, I also realize this assessment must be looked at carefully.  The person needs to be capable of (verifiable) independence and not simply trying to manipulate others online.

(Posted: Saturday, March 25, 2017. 3:45 PM EDT)

More on unsolicited job interview invitations to “pimp out charities”

A little correction to P. 137, Chapter 4 of my DADT-III book.  It was 2009, not 2006, that I was approached for the job of supervising teens raising money in shopping malls.

It was a Friday evening, just before 6 PM,  in February, 2009 that I got that unsolicited call on my Blackberry.  I was in the basement about to sit down to my computer and I was surprised by the call.

I went to the “interview” on the following Tuesday afternoon in an office park just inside the Beltway on Route 7, on a bitterly cold day after an arctic front and polar vortex.  I remember that the interviewer, who said he was ex-military, reeked of cigarette smoke.

I generally don’t like to be approached in public by fundraisers, because there is so much of this – unless I recognize the cause.  Just like, I don’t like telemarketing calls – who does.  And I don’t like to be interrupted with silly “deals” that I don’t need.

There’s more to say about this – it used to be honorable to sell for a living, but it seems like with the loss of manufacturing and other “real” jobs, we’re left with pimping out things,  including charity, to one another.  On that idea Donald Trump could be right.  I’ll come back to this soon.

(Posted: Sunday, March 19, 2019 at 11:30 AM EDT)

A repository of footnotes for my DADT books and other stuff