Dumb Americans

Lately I no longer read what American white nationalists say. But I always check my spam tray and, as long as I am subscribed to articles from The Occidental Observer, before deleting them I usually see the first lines of the latest article published by that webzine. I no longer have the patience to read an entire article. So this day I only read the lead paragraph of ‘Jones vs. KMac: Spirit or Material? Toward a Synthesis’:

By now, healthy numbers of informed people are generally aware of the work of our editor Kevin MacDonald and traditional Catholic thinker E. Michael Jones. Much of their influence comes from the fact that both have devoted major portions of their careers to writing about what is absolutely the most pressing issue of our age: The Jewish Question.

The most pressing issue, really? Also, I only read a single comment, the one that appears at the top in the comments section:

In essence… it always was… and still is… a war on Christ!

Definitely, as Thomas Kuhn said, science advances at funerals while people who believe in the old paradigm (e.g., JQ monocausalism) have to die for the new paradigm (CQ) to gain momentum.

The saddest thing is that people older than those who write and comment on MacDonald’s webzine already knew the causes of Aryan decline. That remarkable SS pamphlet that mentions not only Jewry, but Christian churches and Gentile liberals comes to mind (and in the case of Savitri, this priestess of the holy words had a perfect notion of the role that Christianity had played in the darkest hour in which we live). The contrast between what the cream of Nazi power said and these dumb Americans cannot be greater.

As for myself, I will continue to translate Savitri’s book. At least I have already found a soulmate in the world after 1945. It’s curious, but the first time I visited England was precisely the year Savitri died there, in 1982. I was unaware that she existed! In the last of my autobiographical books I mention the anecdote that, in 1973, I asked in a bookstore if they had books ‘in favour of Nazism’. I say in my book that the person who attended me was stunned by my question, and he said no. I would never have imagined that it would take so long for me to find the books I was looking for. And who would have told me that they were written by a woman?

In the photo we see the bookstore where, as a teenager, I asked that. In recent years all that was demolished and in its place they built a huge building. Although I found a Spanish translation of Mein Kampf in that bookstore, I was looking for updates on Nazism: books written by my contemporaries. At the Madrid High School where I was studying, very close to the Librería de Cristal (‘Crystal Bookstore’ would be the translation), there was a classmate with Canary-yellow hair who admired Nazism. But I lost contact with Eduardo after the principal expelled us both because we were bad students of the silly program that these dumb refugees of the Francisco Franco regime taught us.

Published in: on October 17, 2021 at 11:24 am  Comments (6)  

The painter and my sister

The wife of the Catholic painter Jorge Sánchez (1926-2016) was my mother’s primary classmate. From his work I remember the series of several oil paintings about passages from the life of Jesus, but he also made baroque paintings of crowned nuns, and I remember a collection of twenty-one oil paintings about the life of the nun, poet and writer Juana Inés de la Cruz.

For the collection on the occasion of the 450th anniversary of the myth of the apparitions of the Virgin of Guadalupe, Jorge Sánchez presented his collection in eighteen oils, using my sister (who died the same year as him) as a model for the Virgin.

On one occasion when my mother invited him to dinner, Jorge sat next to me and I remember a conversation so incredibly surreal that I feel the duty to rescue my memory.

He confessed to me that he didn’t understand why animals still exist!

Although much has been written about Protestant fundamentalism in the neighbouring country to the north, they rarely speak of Catholic fundamentalism south of the Rio Grande.

The sky under which Sánchez lived was, like his paintings, that of a New Spaniard. Talking to him was like entering a time warp and conversing with a criollo from New Spain. Someone who sincerely believes everything the Church of Rome has been teaching sees the world from a strictly anthropocentric point of view. What Jorge Sánchez wanted to tell me must be understood from the Christian theodicy. In short, the god of the Jews created man and when he sinned he had to send his son into the world to redeem him. In this scenario, the Earth as a theatre of human actors to see who will be saved after the Fall, the animals are already obsolete.

I couldn’t believe what Jorge was telling me, who was a very kind person. Over the years, every time he came to my parents’ house and greeted me, he said in a friendly way, “¿Cómo está el joven ilustre?” (‘How is the illustrious young man doing?’).

In my post yesterday morning I quoted these words from Savitri: ‘So what are these values that make Hitlerism a “negation of man” in the eyes of almost all our contemporaries? For it is, indeed, a negation of man as Christianity and Descartes and the French Revolution have taught us to conceive him’.

The secular humanists of today don’t have the faintest idea that the mind is a structure, and that these things that come to us from Christian theology were transfigured into that absolute lunacy that Descartes said, that animals were ‘automatons’ (or the French revolutionaries, who proclaimed ‘human rights’ as if other mammals didn’t count).

Even those who today claim to defend the Aryan race suffer from a strictly anthropocentric vision of good and evil, so unlike our Führer they never question their abject carnivorism or experimentation with animals. They haven’t realised that this anthropocentrism has been poison for the original Nordic spirit, or that it’s a residue of a Judean ideology for Aryan consumption.

From the point of view of crossing the psychological Rubicon, they are closer to the old-fashioned Jorge than to me.

Published in: on September 30, 2021 at 12:01 am  Comments (4)  

Reflections of an Aryan woman, 5

It cannot be repeated or emphasised enough: intolerance, religious or philosophical, is characteristic of devotees of ‘man’ regardless of any consideration of race or personality. As a result, it is the real racists who show the greatest tolerance.

No doubt racists demand from their comrades in arms absolute fidelity to the common faith. This is not ‘intolerance’; it is a question of order. Everyone must know what they want, and not adhere to a doctrine and then make reservations about it. Whoever has objections to formulate—and above all, objections concerning the basic values of the doctrine—has only to remain outside the community of the faithful, and not to pretend to be the comrade of those with whom he does not share faith entirely. No doubt also the racist is ready to fight men who act, and even who think, as enemies of their race. But he does not fight them in order to change them, to convert them. If they stay in their place, and stop opposing him and his blood brothers, he leaves them alone—for he is not interested enough in them to care about their fate, in this world or into another.

In the third Book of his Essays, Montaigne laments that the Americas were not conquered ‘by the Greeks or the Romans’, rather than by the Spaniards and the Portuguese. He believes that the New World would never have known the horrors committed to converting the native to a religion considered by the conquerors to be the ‘only’ good, the only true one.

What he does not say; what, perhaps, he had not understood, is that it is precisely the absence of racism and the love of ‘man’ that are at the root of these horrors. The Greeks and Romans—and all ancient peoples—were racists, at least during their time of greatness. As such they found it quite natural that different peoples had different gods, and different customs. They did not get involved in imposing their own gods and customs on the vanquished, under pain of extermination.

Even the Jews did not do this. They so despised all those who sacrificed to gods other than Yahweh, that they were content—on the order of this god, says the Bible—to exterminate them without seeking to convert them. They imposed on them the terror of war—not that ‘spiritual terror’ which, as Adolf Hitler so aptly writes, ‘entered for the first time into the Ancient World, until then much freer than ours, with the appearance of Christianity’.[1] The Spaniards, the Portuguese, were Christians. They imposed terror of war and spiritual terror on the Americas.

What would the Greeks of ancient Greece have done in their place, or the Romans or other Aryan people who would have had, in the sixteenth century, the spirit of our racists of the twentieth? They would undoubtedly have conquered the countries; they would have exploited them economically. But they would have left to the Aztecs, Tlaxcaltecs, Mayans, etc., as well as the peoples of Peru, their gods and their customs. Furthermore, they would have fully exploited the belief of these peoples in a ‘white and bearded’ god, civiliser of their country, who, after having left their ancestors many centuries before, was to return from the East, to reign over them—their descendants—with his companions: men of fair complexion. Their leaders would have acted, and ordered their soldiers to act, so that the natives effectively take them for the god Quetzalcoatl and his army.[2] They would have respected the temples—instead of destroying them and building on their ruins monuments of a foreign cult. They would have been tough, sure—as all conquerors are but they would not have been sacrilegious. They would not have been the destroyers of civilisations that, even with their weaknesses, were worth their own.

The Romans, so tolerant of religion, have on occasion persecuted adherents of certain cults. The religion of the Druids was, for example, banned in Gaul by Emperor Claudius. And there were those persecutions of the early Christians, which we talked about too much, without always knowing what we were saying. But all of these repressive measures were purely political, not doctrinal—not ethical. It was as leaders of the clandestine resistance of the Celts against Roman domination, and not as priests of a cult which might have appeared unusual to the conquerors, that the Druids were stripped of their privileges (in particular, of their monopoly of teaching young people) and prosecuted. It was as bad citizens, who refused to pay homage to the Emperor-god, the embodiment of the State, and not as devotees of a particular god, that Christians were persecuted.

If in the sixteenth century Indo-European conquerors, faithful to the spirit of tolerance which has always characterised their race, had made themselves masters of the Americas by exploiting the indigenous belief in the return of the white god, Quetzalcoatl,[3] there would have been no resistance to their domination, therefore no occasion for the persecution of the kind I have just recalled. Not only would the peoples of the New World never have known the atrocities of the Holy Inquisition, but their writings (as for those who, like the Mayans and Aztecs, had them) and their monuments would have survived.

And in Tenochtitlan, which over the centuries had become one of the great capitals of the world, the imposing multi-storey pyramids—intact—would now dominate modern streets. And the palaces and fortresses of Cuzco would still be admired by visitors. And the solar and warlike religions of the peoples of Mexico and Peru, while evolving, probably, in contact with that of the victors, at least in their external forms, would have kept their basic principles, and continued to transmit, from generation to generation, the eternal esoteric truths under their particular symbolism. In other words, they would have settled in Central America and in the former Empire of the Incas Aryan dynasties, whose relations with the conquered countries would have been more or less similar to those which they formerly had maintained, with the aristocracy and the peoples of India, the Greek dynasties who, from the third century BC to the first after the Christian era, ruled over what is now Afghanistan, Sindh and Punjab.

______ 卐 ______

Note of the Editor: William Pierce’s Who We Are was published after Savitri Devi’s book. She didn’t grasp the full meaning that the Aryans of India would, over many centuries, succumb to what happened to the Iberian Europeans in a few centuries: interbreeding with the Indians. Since Savitri was female, because of her yin nature she couldn’t see tremendously yang issues, like what Pierce tells us about extermination or expulsion.

The yin wisdom of the priestess (her loyal Hitlerism, something that Pierce lacked) must be balanced with the yang input of the priest (an exterminationist drive, something that priestess usually lack).

______ 卐 ______

Unfortunately, Europe itself in the sixteenth century had long since succumbed to that spirit of intolerance which it had, along with Christianity, received from the Jews. The history of the wars of religion bears witness to this, in Germany as well as in France. And as for the old Hellenic-Aegean blood—the very blood of the ‘ancient world’, once so tolerant—it was won in the service of the Roman Church: represented, among the conquerors of Peru, in the person of Pedro de Candia, Cretan adventurer, one of Francisco Pizarro’s most ruthless companions.

I will be told that the cruelties committed in the name of the salvation of souls, by the Spaniards in their colonies—and by the Portuguese in theirs (the Inquisition was, in Goa, perhaps even worse than in Mexico, which is not little to say!)—are no more attributable to true Christianity than to Aryan racism as understood by the Führer, unnecessary acts of violence, carried out without orders, during the Second World War, by some men in German uniforms. I am told that neither Cortés nor Pizarro nor their companions, nor the Inquisitors of Goa or Europe, nor those who approved their actions, loved man as Christ would have wanted his disciples to love him.

That is true. These people were not humanitarians. And I never claimed they were. But they were humanists, not in the narrow sense of ‘scholars’, but in the broad sense: men for whom man was, in the visible world at least, the supreme value. They were, anyway, people who bathed in the atmosphere of a civilisation centred on the cult of ‘man’, whom they neither denounced nor fought—quite the contrary! They were not necessarily—they were even very rarely—kind to humans of other races (even theirs!) as Jesus wanted everyone to be. But even in their worst excesses, they venerated in him, even without loving him, Man, the only living being created, according to their faith, ‘in the image of God’, and provided with an immortal soul, or at least—in the eyes of those who in their hearts had already detached themselves from the Church, as, later, to those of so many list colonialists of the eighteenth or nineteenth century—the only living being endowed with reason.

Note of the Editor: Left, a monk pitying and loving a conquered Amerindian (mural by Orozco in Mexico).

They worshipped him, despite the atrocities they committed against him, individually or collectively. And, even if some of them, in the secrecy of their thoughts, did not revere him more than they did love him, not granting him, if he was only a ‘savage’, neither soul nor right soul—after all, there were Christians who refused to attribute to women a soul similar to their own—this does not change the fact that the ‘civilisation’ of which they claimed, and of which they were the agents, proclaimed the love and respect for every man, and the duty to help him access ‘happiness’, if not in this earthly life, at least in the Hereafter.

It has sometimes been maintained that any action undertaken in the colonies, including missionary action, was, even without the knowledge of those who carried it out, remotely guided by businessmen who did not have them in sight, only material profit and nothing else. It has been suggested that the Church itself was only following the plans and carrying out the orders of such men—which would partly explain why it seems to have been far more interested in the souls of the natives than in those of the conquering chiefs and soldiers—who, however, sinned so scandalously against the great commandment of Christ: the law of love. Even if all these allegations were based on historical facts that could be proven, one would still be forced to admit that colonial wars would have been impossible, from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century (and especially perhaps in the nineteenth), without the belief, then generally widespread in Europe, that they provided the opportunity to ‘save’ souls, and to ‘civilise savages’.

This belief that Christianity was the ‘true’ faith for ‘all’ men, and that the standards of conduct of Europe marked by Christianity were also for ‘all’ men—the criterion of ‘civilisation’—was questioned by no one. The leaders who led the colonial wars, the adventurers, soldiers and brigands who waged them, the settlers who benefited from them, shared it—even if, in the eyes of most of them, the hope of material profit was in the foreground less as important, if not more, than the eternal salvation of the natives. And whether they had shared it or not, they were nonetheless supported, in their action, by this collective belief of their distant continent, of the whole Christendom.

______ 卐 ______

Note of the Editor: That is very true. For example, in the last decades of his life my very Catholic father became obsessed with the biography of a 16th-century Spanish monk who made several trips from the Old to the New World to protect the rights of the Amerindians; so much so that my father dedicated his magnum opus, La Santa Furia (Holy Wrath), to him. This is a composition with three series of woods, six horns, three trumpets, four trombones and tuba, two harps, piano and timpani, percussion instruments among which were some pre-Hispanic, as well as a solo vocal quartet, a sextet of men and a choir mixed with four voices: 115 choristers in total and 90 orchestral musicians: a one-hour symphonic work that can be watched on YouTube:

It was precisely my father’s behaviour—cf. my eleven books in Spanish—that prompted me to repudiate not only Catholicism but Christian axiology, becoming a true apostate of Christianity. Savitri concludes:

______ 卐 ______

It is this belief which—officially—justified their wars which, if they had been waged in the conditions in which they were waged, but solely in the name of profit, or even security (as had been the wars of the Mongolian conquerors in the thirteenth century), would have seemed ‘inhuman’. It was such conquest that, still officially, defined the spirit of their conduct towards the natives. From there this haste to convert him—willingly, by force or using ‘bribes’—to their Christian faith, or to make him share the ‘treasures’ of their culture, in particular to initiate him to their sciences, while making him lose all contact with his own.


[1] Mein Kampf, German edition of 1935, p. 507.

[2] Or, in Peru, for the god Viracocha. The Peruvians had initially called the Spaniards Viracochas.

[3] Or Viracocha in Peru.

The human side of chess, 13

Bobby Fischer had horrendous problems with his mother, who invited her Jewish friends from Brooklyn to her apartment; friends who in the eyes of the boy Fischer were but little buddies. Fischer confessed to the women who knew him intimately that, at the age of twelve, he resented the absence of his mother as a great betrayal, who had a greater preference for her little buddies than for the child Bobby. When Fischer achieved grandmaster status at sixteen, his mother left him and his sister to move with friends to Europe. The teenage Fischer never mourned for his parental losses (his father had abandoned him even earlier, since Fischer was two years old). He rather did the opposite: he threw himself on Caissa’s skirts with unequalled vehemence. Such was the vehemence with which he amalgamated his life with Caissa’s that she gave him the magnificent gift of defeating, singlehandedly, the Soviet chess school at the age of twenty-nine. But out of his early unresolved experiences, which some of us call the betrayal of love, emerged the adult Fischer’s anti-Semitism.

Fischer was never a reader of, say, a wise scholar about Jewry like Kevin MacDonald, who continues to write about the subversive way Jews have been behaving in the West. Fischer’s anti-Semitism was more rancid, and at times paranoid. Already exiled in Budapest, he told one of his interviewers: ‘Day and night the Jews persecute me’. He called Kasparov ‘the Wenstein Jew’ despite the fact that Fischer was ethnically Jewish by both parents. (As our society doesn’t allow the child to express feelings of anger towards his parents, once the child is grown these feelings are transferred.)

After conquering the sceptre Fischer fled the world, especially from the journalists who harassed him. In 1975, the year that all the fans longed to see him defend his title against Karpov, Fischer befriended Claudia Mokarow, an older woman whom he affectionately called mommy. When the journalists tracked him down Fischer ran to Claudia’s apartment yelling: ‘Mommy, mommy, they’re here! Help me mommy: they’ve found me!’ Obviously Bobby, considered by some to be the greatest player in history, needed a motherly surrogate for the mother he never had. He never grew up. Some journalists from whom Fischer fled saw symbolism in the fact that Fischer’s mother was called Regina (a Late Latin feminine name meaning ‘queen’) and that when he was a child she was treated precisely as queen by the community of Jewish buddies that Regina brought to her apartment. Fischer never opened one of his classic chess games with the move 1. d4, pawn to Queen four, as we said before the algebraic notation.

Alexander Alekhine (World
Champion from 1927 to 1946).

I had already mentioned that Alekhine took it out on his spouses. His acquaintances noted Alekhine’s strange submission to authority: the quintessential parental figure. He was married four times, always to women older than him. A writer that Reinfeld mentions comments that it seemed that Alekhine wanted to be taken care of, and Edward Lasker says that when Alekhine was twenty years old, in a club he preferred to dance with a woman twice his age and thickness even though there were fairer girls around. All of this suggests an unresolved problem with the mother, who taught the child how to move the pieces. The proof is that one of his wives was twenty years old and the other thirty! His friends teased him that she was Philidor’s wife, a mummy. The tall and handsome Alekhine, whose games, especially those of his youth, are among the most artistic in the kingdom of Caissa, needed a mother. But for being so cruel to his wives he died alone and as a refugee in Portugal, while in Europe a witch-hunt was perpetrated against those who had collaborated with the Third Reich. Reinfeld wrote: ‘My feeling is that Alekhine was an unusually timid man who was terrified all his life by a profound feeling of insecurity’. And a few pages later he adds:

From all accounts, Madame Alekhine’s affection and maternal solicitude meant a great deal to Alekhine in his later years and had a very beneficial influence on him. But what more convincing proof could there be of his timidity, his insecurity, his fear of facing the world? There may also be significance in the fact that Alekhine was taught chess by her mother; this may have created a powerful emotional bond between his need for chess and his constant need for a mother. When all these elements are added up, I think we have an irresistible weight of evidence for the view that Alekhine’s genius for chess had its origin in an unusually virulent form of insecurity.

When Alekhine took refuge in Portugal from the witch-hunt unleashed by the allied forces he was already completely alone. Two days before his death he told a Portuguese fan: ‘Lupi, this loneliness is killing me!’ Unlike the title of this book in Spanish, En Pos de un Rey Metafórico, for the English translation I chose The Human Side of Chess. And it is that the photograph of someone who had been an idol in my early teens died in a hotel in his days of maximum solitude in times when the allied forces perpetrated a true holocaust of Germans, portrays the side of the game that fans don’t dare to see.

Also the great North American champion of the 19th century had something hideous unresolved with the figure of his mother. Paul Morphy, a native of New Orleans, the city where Carlos Torre would later grow up, had a curious habit of forming women’s shoes in a semicircle ‘because he liked to look at them.’

During a period of his life he would go up to the roof of his house to declaim in French a paragraph that seems to be taken from a song, of which its last words are et le petit Roi s’en ira tout penaud: and the little king will walk away covered in shame. Morphy saw no one except his mother with whom he spent every afternoon, whom he obeyed even though he was already the best chess player in the world. Even when his mother found him dead in the bathtub, Morphy was surrounded by women’s shoes. Morphy defeated all the active grandmasters of his time, including Löwenthal, Anderssen and Paulsen; although the match I like the most was the one he beat Harrwitz in Paris, played a century before I was born. That match shows that Morphy had already found, since then, how to handle the semi-open and closed openings. But like Fischer, Morphy suffered from paranoia. He believed that his brother-in-law and his friend Binder were conspiring to poison him and destroy his clothes, and it is said that on one occasion he showed up at Binder’s office and attacked him. Let us never forget that, like Fischer, Morphy retired from chess at the height of his chess career.

Paul Morphy, who died at 47.

I have said that Fischer’s greatest pleasure was breaking the adversary’s ego. This reminds me of why I was attracted to chess as a boy. I remember a time when I told my parents that the best moment of my life was when my opponent lost his morale to my game. This memory may give me the key to penetrate Fischer’s mind. ‘Break the ego’ is an oblique resonance of how his mother broke Fischer’s ego as a child (and how my mother destroyed it through constant humiliations). When decades before I found out that Fischer had said similar things I said, I was referring to a problem not only with my mother but with my father. In sixth grade my female teacher once asked the question of what had been the happiest moment of the students. To the teacher’s fluster, I replied euphorically that the happiest moment was when I defeated my father in chess: whom I loved enormously but at the same time I had to refute. His vehement religious beliefs had hurt the sensitive child that I was, but my childish mind didn’t know how to refute them.

Some have said that chess is a game of schachmaty, of killing the father. Before I read the enlightened philosophers and freethinkers, chess was a perfect metaphorical substitute for going after the father. The same word ‘refutation’ was constantly used by the adolescent I was, although without arguments yet, when talking about what I wanted to do with my parents’ beliefs: put an end to them. But because we love our parents, the volcano of anger that many children, and adult children, feel towards them can only erupt with substitute objects: opponents whose ego we break as Fischer would say. However, such a transfer can produce a split personality, especially in those who spend their lives running away from themselves through gambling. As I said, I have heard of various fans, and other adults who have nothing to do with chess, who have been damaged by their abusive parents and have suffered psychotic breakdowns: like that funny crazy man who, according to Reuben Fine, believed that Botvinnik was the real leader of the Soviet Union. But that’s a distant case. I remember the late Ricardo Bravo, one of those who went to the park and who was known to have suffered hellish conditions at home. Ricardo crossed the line from mere psychological trauma to insanity and virtually committed suicide by abruptly crossing a busy avenue.

The human side of chess, 8

5 Tort – Computer

HAL 9000 and man

I didn’t play this last game with a human being.

When I play with my computer it seems as unequal a struggle as competing in arithmetic with a calculator. As mathematician John von Newmann told Jacob Bronowski, chess is not a game: it is a special form of computing. But before Newmann, Lasker had already intuited that an entity ‘that could keep millions of variants in mind would not need planning’, the theory. The so-called ‘chess theory’ is a crutch for us mortals. The machine that sees billions of actions shows us the quintessence of chess not in its scarlet facet, but its pure and soulless logic. (Despite what fans of A.I. say, the computer system still has no soul.)

When I was fifteen, I went with my father to visit Robert Schirokauer, who changed his name to Robert Hartman, at his house in Cuernavaca. Hartman played chess and I brought my favorite Alekhine book: the beautiful games of his youth that my dad had given me.

Hartman told us that the machine would never beat man ‘because it was Man who programmed it’. Robert S. Hartman was wrong. This game, and on another level Kasparov’s games with Deep Blue, should move us humans to great swallowing of our pride. By the way, it was from Hartman that I learned the word ‘axiology’. His dense book The Knowledge of Good: Critique of Axiological Reason, whose Spanish version my father acquired before Hartman died, is still in the home library. Metapedia’s critical article on the anti-Nazi Hartman was started by me.

November 2003
French Defense

1 e4 e6

2 d4 d5

3 Nc3 Nf6

4 Bg5 Be7

5 e5 Nfd7

6 Bxe7 Qxe7

7 f4 O-O

8 Nf3 c5

9 Nb5 ?!

It’s incredible but this move, which had given me so much success with the players in the park in similar positions, could be inaccurate. The rebuttal the machine applied to me—virtually the rest of the game—is so mathematical that it is terrifying to see such precision in a soulless object.

9… a6!

10 Nd6 f6

11 c3 Nc6

12 Be2 cxd4

13 cxd4 g5

14 g3 fxe5

15 fxe5 g4

16 Nh4 Ndxe5!

From this piece sacrifice Chessmaster didn’t let me go. It won the initiative until my surrender.

17 dxe5 Nxe5

18 Nxc8 Raxc8

19 Rf1 Qb4 +

20 Qd2 Rxf1 +

21 Bxf1 Qe4 +

22 Qe2 Rc2

23 Qxe4 dxe4

24 Rd1

When I made this move of my rook and the next ones I thought I was going to get a certain counterplay and equalizing chances, but…

25 … e3

25 Be2 Rxb2

26 Rd4 h5

27 Re4 Rb1 +

28 Bd1 Nd3 +

29 Ke2 Rxd1!

… I didn’t see this move!

30 Rxe3 Nb2

31 Rxe6 Rh1

32 Re7 Rxh2 +

33 Ke3 Nc4 +

34 Kf4 b5

35 Kg5 Rxa2

36 Kxh5 a5

37 Kxg4 b4

38 Kh5 Rf2

I confess that since move 33 I was taking back several moves: something that can be done to a mindless machine that cannot complain. But not only did I not find a checkmate net; there was not even a continuous check.

39 Kg6 Kf8

40 Rb7 Ne5 +

41 Kg5 Nf7 +

42 Kg6 Nd8

43 Rb8 Ke7

44 Nf5 + Rd7

45 Kf6 Nc6

46 Rb7 + Kc8

47 Rh7

I couldn’t move the rook to b5 because its rook would take my knight and the fork would come.

47 … b3

48 Rh1 a4

49 g4 a3

50 I resigned

I played this game with Chessmaster 8000, although then the Chessmaster 9000 version arrived. Only now, thirty years after having reproduced it for the first time thanks to one of Alekhine’s books, do I understand the French Defense between Capablanca and Reti played in New York, 1924. Capablanca played 9 Qd2 instead of the one I played and beat the Jewish Reti. The strongest commercial program for analysing games now that I review this book for publication is Fat Fritz 2. I do not doubt that if that new engine analysed the above game it would find moves that neither Chessmaster nor I could see.

Stanley Kubrick was a chess fan. I remember a photograph in which he is seen playing on a break with George Scott during the filming of Dr. Strangelove. In the annexes that come with the Chessmaster program you can read that in Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey the HAL 9000 supercomputer faces astronaut Frank Poole in a game of chess en route to Jupiter, and beats him.

But losing to a heartless machine like Chessmaster doesn’t hurt. The first tournament defeat that hurt me was neither more nor less the first game of my first chess tournament, which I played at the age of fifteen outside of what is now called the World Trade Center: the tallest building in Mexico City at the time. My opponent was the strong player Enrique Monroy, who with white opened with a Ruy López in which, with black, I tried to use a defense that Alekhine sometimes played. In part, my defeat was due to the tournament organisers not even informing all of us about time control. I played as if the time limit was not for the first 40 moves, but the entire game. That resulted in that even after reaching the time control I was responding to Monroy’s moves as if it was a blitz game! These were not yet the days of electronic chess clocks. We used mechanical clocks. At that time, losing by default meant that a little red flag on top of one of the two faces of the clocks dropped. Even though I was ignorant of the time control rules in the first round of my first tournament, I blamed myself for the defeat. It was so embarrassing for me to have been beaten that, once I arrived home in a dazed state, I told my parents that the game had ended in a draw…

Published in: on June 24, 2021 at 10:51 am  Comments Off on The human side of chess, 8  

The human side of chess, 7

4 ‘The Russian’ – Tort

In pursuit of a metaphorical king

I played this game in a tournament of the Ibrahim Martínez club in the Colonia Roma in Mexico City: a neighbourhood that Alfonso Cuarón made known to the world with Roma, a film that I have criticised on my website The West’s Darkest Hour. I couldn’t say it’s a great game but I’m including it because I used to enjoy reproducing it at home, safe from the agonies of live fighting. Even after playing it long ago, I am delighted to see how I crucified the poor white king in the first row of the board. As in the games in which I defeated Norgaard and friend Marco, the direct attack on the king is what gives us the greatest pleasure. Not during the tortuous live game, of course; but safe at home, with beautiful Staunton pieces of wood, and with our living room fireplace lit.

Time control: 2 hours / 40 movements
February 24, 1993

1 e4 e5

2 f4 d5

The Falkbeer Countergambit.

3 exd5 c6!?

I prepared the Nimzowitsch variant of the countergambit especially for this game. I had made inquiries about the opening repertoire of my opponent, Manuel García Marquina, a young white man nicknamed ‘The Russian’ in chess circles. The referee of the event himself had the indiscretion to tell me that he was playing the King’s Gambit. ‘Really?’ I replied with wicked eyes and a smile. And I went home happy to prepare a line for the Russian: a variant that surprised him.

4 Nf3

Another possibility is 4 Qe2. After this game I heard these words from a fan who was surprised by my victory: ‘The Russian is a specialist in the King’s Gambit’.

4 … e4

5 Qe2 Nf6

6 d3 cxd5

7 dxe4 dxe4

8 Nc3 Bb4

9 Qb5 +

Already in the postmortem, according to some beautiful variants played by the machine, 9 Bd2 would have been better for Black.

9 … Nc6

10 Ne5 Bxc3 +

This opens the a3-f8 diagonal. But if 10… Qd4; 11 Tb1 Nd5; 12 Nxc6 and the resulting complications seem to leave White better. I confess that these calculations, and countless others, I do thanks to my computer system. Only with these sophisticated toys that play first-rate chess have I managed to delve deeply into many of my games.

11 bxc3 O-O

12 Nxc6??

12 Ba3! could have tied the game after 12 … Re8; 13 Rd1 Qc7 (but not 13… Qa5 because 14 Qxa5 followed by 15 Bb5, winning); 14 Bd6 Db6; 15 Bc5 and draw by repetition of moves.

12 … bxc6

13 Qxc6 Bg4

14 Ba3 Re8

15 Qd6 Qa5

16 Bb4 Qa4

17 Bc4 a5

18 h3

And now the direct assault on the king:

18… Rd8

19 Qc7 Qxc2

20 hxg4 Qxg2

21 Qxf7 + Kh8

22 Rh6 e3

23 White resigns

Chess players are sadists. Many of us were abused as children by our parents and, as we must honour them, we take it out on scapegoats. My youth idol Alekhine beat his wives and suffered attacks of violence. Once he lost a game he destroyed some furniture in his hotel and occasionally threw his king across the room. And it was Alekhine himself who said: ‘During a chess tournament a master must envisage himself as a cross between an ascetic monk and a beast of prey’.

An American journalist asked the former champion Spassky, of style influenced by Alekhine, if he believed that the young Seirawan, then the promise of the United States, would conquer the crown. Spassky replied that he doubted it, and added that to become world champion it is necessary to be a kind of bird of prey, a potential murderer: a gift that not all chess players have. In no other game or sport do players speak of ‘killing’, ‘destroying’ or ‘breaking’ the opponent as in chess (remember my quoted diary: ‘I had always wanted to kill Marco with a queen sacrifice’). The type of chess player Spassky refers to sometimes plays in order to engender the morbid pleasure of seeing his opponent bow down. In 1971, a year before being crowned world chess champion, Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) responded to Dick Cavett during a television show: ‘The greatest pleasure? When you break his ego’ referring to the opponent’s ego; and there are those who have said, with some hyperbole, that Fischer had the mentality of a killer.

Unscrupulous psychologists insert electrodes into the rats’ pleasure centres in the brain. They are then conditioned to push a button for ultra-rewarding stimulation. Electrode-implanted rats become addicted to infinite pleasure; so much so that they stop eating and, when they put a metal floor where they will receive a strong electric shock if they step on it, they gladly do so in order to touch the button and artificially masturbate their neurons. What does the torment matter if what is pursued is the absolute glory of that moment!

The players I know appreciate my electric chair metaphor. They say it’s accurate to illustrate the gambit that we do in life when we play in tournaments. Like me, they have suffered horrors in a gambling room that sometimes looks like a torture chamber. But the apparent masochism of faithfully subscribing to the next tournament is inexplicable to them. These gambling addicts, with no insight about what they did to us as children, must have a huge motive for revenge that compels them to hunt down a metaphorical king. We cannot attack those who gave us life. But in the game we can crucify our opponent from time to time.

Published in: on June 23, 2021 at 11:53 am  Comments (2)  

The human side of chess, 6

3 Tort – Norgaard

Fuck chess!

After playing three months at Club Mercenarios, this was the first time Jesper Norgaard, a Dane who fathered children with a Mexican woman, lost. In the end, everyone shook my hand, which filled me with satisfaction, especially the congratulations from Héctor Busto. Even the now deceased Ricardo Ramírez Honey published the game in the newspaper. But that is not the reason for picking it up here, but the agonies that I wrote down live during the game. My second retirement from tournament chess in my thirties (I had retired for the first time in my twenties) can be traced to this pseudo-victory.

Time control: 2 hours / 45 movements
November 12, 1992

1 e4 e5

2 Nf3 Nc6

3 Bb5

The Ruy López Opening is Jesper’s favourite, but here I am the one who plays white.

3 … a6

4 Ba4 Nf6

5 O-O Be7

6 Bxc6 dxc6

7 Qe1!?

The twice-postponed exchange variation surprised Jesper. The idea is to prevent the black pin Bg4.

7 … Nd7

It was not good 7 … Bd6 for 8 d4, with initiative. With the textual, which is the one recommended by theory, white recovers the time he lost by changing his ‘Spanish bishop’.

8 d4 exd4

9 Nxd4 O-O

10 Nc3 Ne5

Instead, Marcel Sisniega played 10 … Bf6 against Roberto Martín del Campo in the first game of the Closed National Championship, played three months after my game with Jesper, and won in thirty-five moves.

11 Nde2 Bc5

The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings analyses up to this move, and evaluates the position as equal play. The rest was our improvisation.

12 Kh1

The idea is f4-f5-f6 with a strong attack. Months later the story reached my ears that in a chess event held in Ciudad Juárez, Jesper was asked about this game and that he had replied he had fallen in ‘a laboratory move’. But it was not like that. I only knew religiously as far the encyclopaedia goes.

12 … f5

Jesper used half an hour of his time on this move because he knew he was in trouble. At postmortem he commented that he disliked 12 … Qh4 for 13 f4, which according to him would have led to an inferior endgame. Unlike Marco (‘I’m short fuse’ he told me the last time I saw him, in the sense that he exploded for anything), Jesper commented on the postmortem without any apparent discomfort.

13 f4 Ng4

14 e5 Be6

15 h3 Ne3

16 Bxe3 Bxe3

17 Rd1 Qe7

18 Rf3 Ba7

Two bishops against two knights! But if Black cannot activate them, they are badly parried due to the passed and protected pawn.

19 Rfd3 Kh8

20 Nd4 Bc4

21 R3d2 Rae8

Black’s last moves prepare the liberating …g5 that never came.

22 Qg3 Bb6?

23 Nxc6!

Jesper later told me he didn’t see it. On a blank sheet that I hid behind the score sheet of some games of this tournament, I wrote the agonies that I suffered in the live game. The idea was to calm me down, understand the situation and temper my nerves. On the sheet I wrote: ‘(11:19 PM). Having played 23 NxBP makes me the bitch nervous. That nasty! Fuck chess if this is what it does to me! What does it matter to me even if I have a clear advantage…!’

23 … Qc5

24 Nd4 Qb4

25 b3 Bf7?

In the postmortem Jesper explained to me that, since he looked bad positionally, he preferred to lose another pawn in order to complicate the game. But on the loose sheet during the live game I wrote: ‘(11:34 PM). Again after 25 PQN3: Stress, when discharged, makes you see visions!’ And it is that the chair in which I was sitting when facing Jesper was like an electric chair. It was as if it gave ‘shocks’ but I had to remain seated if I wanted to win.

26 Nf5

‘The stress continues at 26. I know it’s crucial that…’ and here I stopped writing because my opponent played:

26 … Bg6

27 Nd5 Qa3

28 Ch4 Bh5

29 Nf3 Ba5

30 c3 c6

31 Ne3 Bxc3

32 Nc4

This knight manoeuvre gave me the victory but I suffered a lot in finding it because I was in time trouble.

32 … Qb4

33 Rd7 Re7

From now on, I will call the chess programs that I had, Fritz and Chessmaster, ‘the machine’, which in this position analysed 33 …Rf7 to which a winning 34 Qg5 would also come, although without the next attack on the King:

34 Qg5 Rxd7

35 Rxd7 Bf7

In my home analysis the machine analysed 35 …Bg6, which could also have been followed by 36 Nd6. At this point the now-deceased Luis Vaca, who presided over the Mercenarios and whom I highly esteemed, called his friends with these words: ‘The Jesper-Tort game is very, very tough!’

36 Nd6 Bg6

The summoned onlookers made an exclamation: the attack on the King was overwhelming. If Black had defended himself with 36 …h6, 37 Qf5 would come.

37 Rd8 Qxf4

Jesper made a curious gesture of displeasure at this moment when we had all Mercenarios players on top. The truth is that they were fascinated by blood and wanted to see him lose. But I suffered more, although in this position it seems laughable, because I was forced to deliver a proper coup de grace and not screw it up, with the very little time on the clock I had.

38 Qxf4 Rd8

39 Nf7 + Bf7

40 Qxf7 h6

41 e6 Black resigns

Although I won, what no one found out and that I only now confess, is that the victory cost me dear. In my diary the next day I wrote down my agonies, although I will edit the comments on the moves to focus on the psychological aspect, and will correct some syntax:

How tough! There were moments of confusion and suffering and, obviously, of ‘ghosts’ like that Qd1 that I saw but the knight prevented it… Very annoying. It was no use writing down my agonies during the game, which was supposed to relieve stress. What did relieve me somewhat was talking to Jorge Aguirre, talking about anything. I hope that for the next game I don’t get like that. It is clear that the cause of stress is the duty to win in an advantageous position and the paranoia of making a mistake. But it’s mostly ‘self-consciousness’ by onlookers that triggers stress. How will I avoid it in the next game?

Speak? Talk to onlookers? ‘How was your game?’ for example—or whatever, whatever to lower the excruciating stress! I wish there was therapy for this. I wish I was as calm as Romanishin [a Ukrainian GM I saw playing in an international tournament], I wish I was a laid-back! But that’s opposite to the spirit of the chess player, the opposite to the spirit of the fighter. I still have to try something or it’s pure masochism every tournament.

The funny thing is that when I thought I was wrong by not taking the Bb6 I relaxed. Maybe it’s because it loosened my tension as I no longer had a perfect game. Perhaps perfectionism causes stress because the paranoia of making a mistake comes. Or maybe it was that I had already talked to these guys…

What a strain relief once my rival gave up! Alejandro Tirado (who yesterday called those in my book about Cuba ‘worms’) watched the game for a long time. Afterwards I felt that he was envious that I had defeated the number #1 player. He had lost his game. Also after …QxP; QxQ I made a pause which contributed that my win be appreciated by the onlookers. It’s funny how at home I like to remember that they saw my attack and victory, but that at the time it was an extreme torment. The sign is changed. The torment becomes glory.

I played the game in the only tournament I have ever won: a club tournament. The memory still comes to me perfectly that when I got home after my decisive victory over Argentine Silvio Pla, three rounds later, with which I secured the first place, I slept the quietest and sweetest night I had slept in a long, long time. Excited, I signed up for the next club tournament. But my victories were still expensive. It’s amazing how chess players keep their emotions to their souls. I have come to the conclusion that it is perfect nonsense to approach chess from a purely logical viewpoint. The heavy intellectual analyses of chess literature not only fail to reflect our inner life: they are misleading to know what’s going on in our little heads. Only if the confessions of the players were written and published would we get to the core of the game.

In my diary I underlined in red my comments about a miniature that I inflicted on Willy de Winter in the first round of my second tournament in Mercenarios:

I lost this game a hundred times in my inside, paranoid insides!

What should I do?

I’m a failure as a chess player…

Today’s suffering was incredible: the greatest stress of all that I’ve experienced. I’d have accepted a draw on any move!

Note the ‘I am a failure as a chess player’. After playing with de Winter I had played ten games on Mercenarios, and except for a single draw I had won them all. None had defeated me. But I was right: these agonies screamed at me, over and over again, that I was in no way a tournament-playing guy, and augured something ominous for my competitive future.

The Spanish writer Fernando Savater stated in an interview: ‘I think that the great secret of chess, what makes it so superior to other logic games, lies in its tremendous intensity. This game compromises the ego of the person. A card player may feel affected because he has lost a lot of money, but he has not bet himself, which is what the chess player does. In this sense, chess can be dangerous’.

Wise insight! To Javier Anaya of the Mercenarios I owe the comparison of chess with mountaineering, where horrors are also suffered although mountaineers continue to climb mountains. I will be told that the comparison is defective since in mountaineering you risk your life and in chess ‘only the ego’. I disagree, and the best answer I can think of is to weigh the following anecdote.

There was Keres, called ‘the champion without a crown’ playing a tournament in 1944 in Estonia in the middle of the world war when an air raid sent everyone fleeing to the shelters. Those who saw him stay asked him in amazement if he wasn’t afraid. Keres replied: ‘I am hardening up my nerves for the World Championship fight’. The torment of sitting in a kind of electric chair at an important chess event causes more stress than the fear of bombings!

One last comment on the total lack of communication between fans. No one at the club realised that my victory over de Winter had been Pyrrhic. In the autistic bubbles in which they live locked up, between players it isn’t politically correct to speak about a lost soul. From the outside we appear to be scientists engaged in a game of pure logic. The truth is that when we play we twist in the magma of emotions. The colour of chess is not the black and white that onlookers see: it’s scarlet red.

After my game with de Winter in my second tournament at Mercenarios, a tournament appropriately called ‘Guerra y Paz’ (War and Peace), in the next round I beat Jesús Casillas. Interestingly, when I was aware that I had made a hideous mistake in that game, my nerves magically calmed down. The experience with Casillas and an identical one with René Sánchez, the only one who had obtained a draw from me until then, suggests that it’s precisely the desire for perfection, to want to play as flawlessly as the algorithms of a computer, which causes the crisis in the chess player. We have to understand that human beings do not have silicone minds. We are creatures of emotions. There is no such thing as ‘Mr. Chess Spock’, not even the world champion. It is known how nervous Kasparov was in his games with Anand for the World Championship, and let’s not talk about Ivanchuk.

After my game with Casillas, which I won only thanks to a very human mistake he made, my tortured invincibility in Mercenarios evaporated. Jesper Norgaard was the first to snatch a point from me in a very close duel that ended at 2:30 in the morning. Those still present at that time, engrossed to see the then invincible fall, congratulated the Dane as they had congratulated me when I won the previous tournament. In the next round something worse came: ‘the shortest game I’ve played in a tournament’, Roberto González, my opponent, told me. I resigned in the middle of the opening because of a crude trap that he tended to win my queen. That would be the beginning of the great collapse of my level of play both in that and in the following tournaments that I played in ’93.

Although with some exceptions, as can be seen in the next game.

Published in: on June 22, 2021 at 3:29 pm  Comments Off on The human side of chess, 6  

The human side of chess, 5

2 Tort – Colín

The park that welcomed me

This game was played in the park where I played chess in the Colonia del Valle in Mexico City, very close to where I lived with my grandmother. This park welcomed me in my teens when I fled from extremely abusive parents and school. It was a different place than the public parks where the outcast underclass used to take refuge to play chess and dominoes. It’s true that when I was repudiated by my parents I found myself as marginalised as the underclass, but in Las Arboledas Park there was a cultural level very different from that of the parks with the tents in the centre of Mexico City. It was there, in this park for middle-class people, that I really learned to play chess.

Las Arboledas Park
(ca. 1985)

1 e4 e5

2 Bc4

This was my favourite move in the park. I won countless games with 1 PK4, PK4; 2 BB4, as it was written then in the descriptive notation (as opposed to the algebraic notation that I use in most of this book). The idea was not to play the hackneyed lines of the Bishop’s Opening, but the gambit that ensues after 2… NKB3; 3. NKB3, NXP; 4. NB3!? whose theory no one knew. In this game Marco Colín eluded the gambit and simply transposed to the Two Knights Defence, so he came out unharmed from the dangers of this opening.

2 … Nf6

3 Nf3 Nc6

4 d4

When I made this move Marco complained that it was a prepared book line. The advantage of friendly games over tournament games is that you can unleash your emotions; you can even curse and there is no rule against it.

4 … Nxe4

5 dxe5

Here Marco exclaimed: ‘Bishop takes pawn, check!’ in the sense that he had seen the threat. ‘Damn brother!’ Only Marco called me with the pleonastic nickname ‘El hermano brother.’

5 … Nc5

6 Nc3 Be7

7 Nd5 O-O

9 O-O Ne6

8 Nxe7 +

I remember that I was worried about the bishop on c5 and wanted to eliminate it as soon as possible.

8… Qxe7

10 c3 b6

11 Bb3 Bb7

12 Re1 Rd8

Since I wrote down this game from memory only when I got home, I don’t remember if the order of the last two moves was correct. Did I play the rook first and then the bishop?

13 Nd4 Rfe8?!

When Marco played this I was surprised. I thought that because of my next move he had to exchange knights. At postmortem he told me he didn’t want me to join my pawns. But he should’ve taken the knight (Kasparov says that when he manages to bring a knight to the f5-square he already feels won). As in the previous game, I didn’t use computer systems to analyse this game. What I write down here were the memories of what I was thinking during the game in the mid-eighties, without outside help.

14 Nf5 Qc5

15 Qh5!

If now 15… Nxe5; 16 Rxe5, winning.

17 … g6

16 Ch6 + Kg7

17 Qf3 Qe7

18 Qg3 Kh8

19 Ng4 d6

One of the Arboledas players, Antonio Galán, who had been watching the game, told me alone when we were walking in the park while Marco reflected: ‘NB6 and pélas!’ although I had already seen this move before he told me. In Mexico this expression is used when a person has been left out of something, for example, eliminated from a competition: ‘Pelas!’ Antonio used the expression in the sense that he saw the black’s defence collapsing. In Spain the pélas colloquialism means something very different: money, as in the neighbouring country to the north it’s colloquially said buck instead of dollar.

20 Nf6 Nxe5

Otherwise a very dangerous attack on the king would come.

21 Nxe8 Rxe8

22 Bxe6! Qxe6

It took me a while to reassess this new position. (Although clock games weren’t played in the park unless they were blitz games, this and others that I played with Marco, Antonio and Enrique Legorreta were virtual tournament games.) Marco then indicated that he intended to play 22…Ng7 if I hadn’t taken the knight from him.

23 Be3

The game is technically won, but this was a trap Marco missed.

23 … c5?

24 f4

Marco made an angry exclamation and shook his head. The interest that we both had invested in the game was considerable because we hadn’t played for a long time with each other.

24 … Nc6

Marco was still flustered and visibly pissed off when he made this last move.

25 Bd4 + Nxd4

26 Rxe6 Nxe6

27 f5!

If this one survived among the countless games I played in the park, it was because of something that caught my attention. As I noted in my diary many years ago: ‘I had always wanted to kill Marco with a queen sacrifice right in this position a few moves later. Synchronicity?’, referring to Jung’s theory. Although I am now sceptical of that theory, the coincidence is interesting: one of the reasons that prompted me to score this game.

27 … Ng7

28 f6 Nf5

29 Re1

I remember Marco’s shock when he saw this move.

29 … Be4

30 Qf4 d5

31 g4 Nh4

32 Qh6 Nf3 +

33 Kf2 Rg8

34 Re3

I thought about this a lot, making sure that after:

34 … Ne5

I immediately made the following pseudo-sacrifice of queen to surprise the old friend:

35 Qxh7 +

Marco removed both his king and my queen from the board as a sign that he was resigning. He was so outraged by the defeat that we barely commented on the postmortem, and at a fast pace he headed for the subway station División del Norte while, naively, I wanted to talk to him after not seeing him for so long. But to be fair I must say that the next day, after his severe moods he confessed to me ‘You played very well!’

Regardless of the game above, it hurts that other games that I played with Marco and those in the park have not been preserved. How I would like to have, for example, that ‘historic’ game in which, playing both blindfold chess, I beat Gerardo Brauer in 1978: a game that merited a bet between my admirers in the park and those of Gerardo. I would also like to be able to reproduce, at home, that five-hour game when I beat Enrique in front of his girlfriend, or those that I beat Gilberto Rangel in a match that he and I played at my grandmother’s house, or the Volga Gambits that with the black pieces I played against Fernando Pérez Melo until he devised a good reply to the defective gambit. (Although he came from the underclass, Fernando had a very good taste for art cinema. I remember that he liked Andrei Rublev when the Russian Embassy premiered it in Mexico.) Only Antonio took the trouble to transcribe some of the games he played in the park. Thanks to his initiative I was able, twenty years after it was played, to reproduce one of the games that Antonio played with Gilberto; although he didn’t want to give me the score sheet of another one where I beat him with white when, from attacking to his queenside, I suddenly switched to a kingside attack. Instead of reproducing his game with Gilberto that he provided me, I would like to say a few words about

This friend who never was

We men are supposed to be very tough, like the tough guys in Hollywood movies: that we don’t cry and that we face our problems alone. This code leads men to seek comfort in gambling, alcohol, a drug, or another artificial balm to alleviate the internal sting. Gilberto, one of the park’s children who threw himself the most on Caissa’s skirts, had a permanent scar on his face caused by a dish that his mother had thrown at him. His friend Roberto, a good-looking, fair-haired lad who also went to the park, had been raped by a priest of the Catholic church on Avenue Cuauhtémoc on the corner of Concepción Beistegui street.

I never knew of anyone who approached Gilberto to talk about the abuse he had suffered at home. The player is able to sit in front of his opponent for years without knowing anything about his life. The purpose of the chessboard between these tough guys is to function as a kind of isolation barrier, and I would like to confess what happened to me when I wanted to break that code of isolation between players. Like Gilberto, what I needed back then was a friend who could listen to me about the huge problem I had at home. But I had none, and when I dared to bring up the subject with Antonio he went to complain to the others that ‘we all have problems’, in the sense that my position was self-centred. As the gossip reached me, Antonio added that he was a friend of mine ‘just to talk about chess’.

If he really said that, he was wrong. I was not self-centred. The proof is that Antonio’s family problems with his brothers were not so serious as to prevent him from pursuing a career. Mine or Gilberto’s were so big that we were left without a profession. The fact that such an elementary reality, one of those that between women so well communicate with each other, is impossible to communicate between men speaks very badly of the player’s psychology, so well portrayed in Dostoevsky’s tale. Precisely because our society forbids us men to mourn, or to have an intimate confidant, Roger Bayde, another of our friends from the park, committed suicide. Like Gilberto, Roger had had a traumatic past with his mother since his childhood, but no one listened to him. Although I’m not sure, it seems to me that the Department of Psychiatry at UNAM, the university where Roger worked, prescribed him psychotropic drugs instead of offering him the ear that he so badly needed.

Roger’s story is not an isolated case in the troubled kingdom of Caissa. Iván used to visit the cabin whose photo appears in the Introduction. This friend became psychically disturbed due to parental abuse (once I spoke to him on the phone he exhibited all the symptoms of ‘word salad’: the peculiar way some people labelled as schizophrenic speak). On one occasion we saw how a man with a hat dragged him by the hair while taking him out of the cafe of the old Gandhi Bookstore: the only time I saw his father. If so he mistreated him in public, how could he not do it in private (his brother shot himself dead in front of his father)?

I could mention other cases of chess players who, like Iván, Roger, Gilberto and Fernando were beaten by their parents and their lives were shattered. But it is unnecessary. Rather, and although very belatedly, I would like to answer the friend who never was: What would I give so that there would be a little more communication between men. And a little less chess…

Published in: on June 21, 2021 at 1:23 pm  Comments Off on The human side of chess, 5  

The human side of chess, 4

1 Grushka – Tort

A beautiful game

If I kept this game it is because I showed it to the poet Jaime Sabines in a 1981 letter, a copy of which I still have. I had played several games of chess with Sabines at his house. In times when my parents’ treatment had spoiled my future, I believed that, being the governor’s brother in Chiapas, he would help me find a job.

Carlos Grushka, the opponent in this only game that I kept from my first tournaments had been, the previous year, youth champion of his country and later he would be Argentine runner-up; he represented Argentina in four Olympics, drew with Karpov and beat Larsen.

I have no interest in analysing this game with the computer system, which didn’t exist then. The analyses that I transcribe are those that appear in my letter to Sabines, when I was twenty-three years old. The poet, by the way, didn’t reply to my letter. But some time later I went to see him in Chiapas in search of work: something that constantly fails us players who were marginalised by our families.



Time control: 2½ hours / 40 movements


1 Nf3 Nf6

2 g3 d5

3 Bg2 Nbd7

I hadn’t studied this opening, so I improvised according to my own sense.

4 d4 e6

5 O-O Be7

6 c4 O-O

7 Nbd2 c5

8 b3 b6

9 Bb2 Bb7

10 Rc1 Rc8

11 e3 Rc7

12 Qe2 Qa8

13 Ne1 cxd4

14 Bxd4 Bb4

Threatening 15 … Bxd2 and 16 … dxc4, leaving a weak and isolated pawn on an open file.

15 Nef3 dxc4

16 Nxc4 Rfc8

17 Rcd1 b5

18 Nce5 Nxe5

19 Bxe5 Rc2

20 Qxb5 Ng4

21 Ne1

If 21 Qxb4 Bxf3; 22 Bxf3 Qxf3 threatening both 23 Nxf2 and taking the bishop.

21… Bxg2

22 Nxg2

He played that because 22 Nxc2 would lose a piece.

22… Nxf2!!

I have forgotten many moves, games and even opponents that I’ve faced over the board, but will never forget this great knight move. Grushka wasn’t expecting it.

23 Rxf2 Rxf2

24 Nf4

If he took my rook, the check of my other rook would be deadly.

24 … Qf3

25 Qd7

Had he taken my bishop, 25 … Qxd1 would also be fatal.

25 … Rcc2

26 Qd8 + Bf8

27 White resigns

Grushka got upset when I wanted to comment on this game as a postmortem. It’s obvious that his defeat didn’t match the image he had cultivated with his friends from the Club Mercenarios who had brought him to the tournament. After this game, in a raid that some young members of the Mercenarios gave me, Manuel López Michelone, with whom I would also play in that tournament, said something in front of me of bad taste. I was in the back of the car savouring my victory. Manuel, who was in the lead, said to his friends: ‘Who knows why Grushka lost’. It was as if the triumph wasn’t due to how I played, but to something mysterious!

Fortunately, friend Gerardo Brauer congratulated me and made very favourable comments on my plan to have brought the queen to square A8 to double my rooks on the C-file, which gave me a good development in addition to the beauty of an attack on the king from the corner of the board. Not all chess players are able to recognise that the other simply played well. But what stuck me the most that night was what another member of the Mercenarios told me, who was driving the car. He did it with the best of his intentions, but it hurt me. He told me that he had met my mother and that he ‘liked her very well’. I was speechless. I didn’t even smile. It was precisely she who had caused the abuse at home: something that Mario Guevara couldn’t know, and in fact in 1981 I didn’t even live with my mother but with my grandmother. I couldn’t communicate it due to the taboo of never criticising the parents, so I kept quiet among these young chess players and about the rest of the raid I don’t remember anymore.

Published in: on June 20, 2021 at 11:45 am  Comments Off on The human side of chess, 4  

The human side of chess, 2


When I sat down to write this book, I was officially retired from chess. It was the talks with Rafael Martínez, an old friend from a park where I played chess many years ago, that motivated me to confess what I have thought about the game since my retirement.

(Left, in 1975 outside of ‘La Cabaña’ I played my first game in the park with Señor Cervantes.)

My goal here is to break various taboos. In the first chapter I address a topic hardly touched by other chess players. I am talking about the emotions that affect the player during the game: a topic that I address by analysing my emotions in some games that I have played in tournaments. There are very few chess players, and one of them was the Mexican grandmaster Marcel Sisniega (a pure Aryan about my age, who passed away in 2013), who describe their moods after the rounds. I haven’t read Crónica Personal de un Torneo de Ajedrez of Sisniega, but I suppose that the descriptions I make here are more crude and direct.

In a short passage in the second chapter I try to show that chess treatises omit the biological cause that some play better than others. I also venture a program that I consider useful to face the emotions not only in defeat, but for the average player to understand and accept his skill level.

For centuries, chess theorists have avoided going into the subject of personal tragedies that have led some to seek solace in the game; tragedies that have devastated the sanity of some masters, grandmasters, and even world champions. This blind spot has existed from the 1620 treatise by Gioacchino Greco, considered the first chess professional, to Kasparov’s recent work on his predecessors. The motto of the inveterate tabletop gamer seems to be:

Elude the Knowledge of Thyself

Avoid settling accounts with the existential sting that made you seek comfort in an activity as elusive as the game of chess or any other game.

Among chess players there have been cases of crossing the line from simple escapism to madness. In the third chapter I break with the biggest taboo not only in the community of players, but of humanity in general. I talk about the cause of disorders of the spirit and what we can do when a loved one suffers a psychotic crisis. The fate of Carlos Torre, the best Latin American chess player after Capablanca, serves as a paradigm for me to point out what we should never, ever do when a family member suffers a crisis: go to the psychiatrist.

After that important chapter I include an epilogue about what I think of the game.

Juan Obregón, who gave me some information about Carlos Torre, probably has the largest number of interviews from people who knew the Mexican grandmaster. But without the help of the late Alfonso Ferriz, the great lover of the game-science in Mexico, it would have been impossible for me to collect the most relevant information about Torre. It saddens me that my conclusions from the same information that Ferriz so generously provided me cast a shadow over this wonderful person who was Don Alfonso; and I publish this little book not without some remorse in order to expose private matters that could help the West to regain its sanity.

Published in: on June 18, 2021 at 11:41 am  Comments Off on The human side of chess, 2