News feedback: your views and opinions

5/1/2005 – Every day, between generous offers to consolidate our loans or improve our lives in very personal ways, we receive a large number of genuinely interesting letters on the news items published on the site. We can only answer a small fraction of them. Rather let the others go to waste we have decided to share them with you.

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The following is, believe us, a very small selection of letters, a somewhat haphazard choice, based on no strict rules of merit or execllence, but just on what caught our attention while making the selection. We wish to offend no one by omission – please don't take it personally if your exceptionally well-penned message is not included in the collection below.

Doping in Chess

Jeremy Shatka, Sioux City USA
Of course, the street drug crystal methamphetamine will improve chess abilities, as will its over-the-counter form, desoxin.

John Marble, Bakersfield, USA
The article covering possible performance enhancing drugs in chess was quite eye-opening. In 2001 I had a stroke. The perscription for short term memory rehabilitation from my doctor was chess. I had played a few games as a child, but had never taken the game up because I was so bad at it. I am now addicted to the game. It has helped my memory some, but I have always believed I was doomed to be disabled. The reason this article is such a surprise is that my doctors, one a specialist at the UCLA Medical Center, have never mentioned these forms of treatment to me. At 44 I still have many good years ahead of me. I could return to my career if I could fix my short term memory problems. Thank you for the article...I'll be bringing it up with my doctors.

On the subject of performance enhancement, as the article said, it is just another catagory to compete in for chess players. Traditional chess, computer enhanced chess and now chemically enhanced chess. What is really too bad, is that people have such low self esteem that they'll do anything to try and be somebody special in a sport when they don't have the tools naturally. Finding an alternative line of work may not satisfy their ego, but it might just keep them around longer for those who love them. Just ask Lyle Alzedo his opinion on the subject. Oh, you can't... he's dead.

Bill Taylor, USA
I got interested in this subject when you seen your news clip on Bobby Fischers crazy 180+ IQ wow!! I didnt even know the scale even went that high. I remember seeing somewhere a article saying that Eienstiens IQ was 160+ and that was about the limit of the scale. Any how i was wondering if you guys could maybe see if its possible to put together a average IQ for GMs that we know of.Maybe we would find if you didnt have a IQ above a certain mark or maybe your chances of ever becoming a GM would be very low see my point here?

The Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a value calculated from a set of standardized tests to measuring a person's cognitive abilities. The average value for a population is by definition 100, the distribution of scores across the entire population is follows the Gaussian bell curve. Roughly 68% of the population has an IQ between 85 and 115. A score below 70 usually indicates mental retardation, and a score above 130 can be equated with extreme intellectual talent. 1% of the population has an IQ of 136 or higher. A "genius" score Is generally considered to be 140 or greater. Einstein was said to have had an IQ of 160. Serious IQ tests produce scores ranging from 55 to 145. Anything that deviates wildly from these values has been derived by non-standard testing or simply "guesstimated", usually by writers and story-tellers.


Charles Krauthammer

Tempers flared over Krauthammer's essay on reclusive chess genius Fischer and our characterization of the author. We got a number of virtually unprintable letters from people defending Krauthammer and his views or criticizing them (and decrying the policies of the USA in general or with regard to the Fischer case). Some were positively frightening, so that in the future we may want to be cautious about statements that could be interpreted as being even eliptically critical towards... maybe we should better shut up before we get into any more trouble. Memo: in addition we must remember not to use the word "ilk". For some reason it seems to irk a section of our readers, get their gander up.

Ben Schatz, St. Louis, MO
Baldasar Castiglione, who was an Italian diplomat and an authority on propriety in court life, advised against playing chess (even though he considered the game "pleasing and ingenious") because he said it was common for avid players to become "obsessed" with it.

Brad Hoehne, Columbus, Ohio
I, who disagrees with the majority of what he writes, feel odd defending Mr. Krauthammer's article on chess and madness, but even as an avid chessplayer I find nothing offensive or wrongheaded about it. Indeed, I cannot find a solid opinion expressed in the piece at all. A careful reading of it would show that what Mr. Krauthammer is doing is not calling up a bunch of reasons why chessplayers tend to be mad, but providing a counterargument for each of those common explanations. He dismisses each one as inadequate. His final answer to question of whether or not one should allow a child to play chess is "yes... I think." Far from the definitive besmirching of chess that chesbase.com seems to imply. Could Mr. Krauthammer's other opinions in the non-chess sphere be clouding the editors judgement?

In a sense, Krauthammer's piece could be considered a kind of "paralipsis", that is, calling attention to something by claiming not to be calling attention to it. It wouldn't be the first time he has used this rhetorical trick. Unfortunately, this sort of thing is a sticky trap. How does one attempt to effectively correct a common misperception (chess causes madness) without drawing attention it?

Thanks for a great website, I read it every day!

Miles Duncan, Alexandria, VA, USA
Maybe chess made Bobby Fischer crazy, but Time Magzine no less. They have republished the story with a different author [Joe Klein instead of Charles Krauthammer].

Patrick Thompson, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
Here's a copy of a letter I sent to the author of the Time article on Fischer and madness:

Dear Mr. Krauthammer:

I enjoyed your thought-provoking article on Bobby Fischer and his "Great (but nutty) Predecessors," but it is highly arguable that you confuse cause with effect. Isn't it possible that, rather than chess leading a person into insanity, it is the person predisposed to insanity who is more drawn to chess?

In Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, author Kay Jamison of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine convincingly makes the connection between artistry and insanity (specifically, bipolar disorder and cyclothymia). As I hope you will agree – - being a chess player yourself – - chess is an art-form as much as it is a game or sport. The numbers of poets, writers, composers, musicians, sculptors and painters who have committed suicide, attempted suicide, or been hospitalized is staggering, according to Dr. Jamison's numbers.

The percentage of artists in general who suffer(ed) bipolar disorder is at or near 50%, versus just 1% of the general population. In sum, those with bipolar disorder or cyclothymia tend to be more creative and imaginative than their "sane" counterparts, and this appears to be because of the disorder, not because of creativity and imagination.

Patrick Thompson
Louisville, Kentucky

Michael Parsons, Cedar Rapids, USA
The posted TIME Article was interesting and entertaining... Your commentary on Dr. Krauthammer is not only the opposite but in fact misleading. Perhaps rather than use Wikipedia as a "source" why don't you next time use a biography that more accurately reflects Dr. Krauthammer's credentials and opinions. And in the interest of accuracy and fairness, let us point out that politically Garry Kasparov shares many of Dr. Krauthammer's political views.

Kyle Betterton, Dallas, USA
Charles Krauthammer, is one of the most insightful people of our times. However, your bio on him seems like an under-handed attack. Why does chessbase always express such liberal opinions? You just don't understand the American mind set. Do us all a favor and keep the political editorials to yourself. Now, I know that you took the information off of wikipedia and that’s fine. But it’s the way you treat the info. It’s like he’s a Martian. Or, it’s like you can’t believe anyone could be so stupid to think the way he does. Heaven forbid that he should talk bad about “The Great Bobby Fischer”. What I can’t understand is how you can support a guy like Fischer after some of his comments about Jews, but then you hate President Bush because he wants to get rid of a scum bag like Sadaam Hussein. Heaven help us if the U.S. ever subordinates itself to the United Nations.

Joseph Healy, Matthews, NC
Hmm... I wonder if you meant "quite a character" in a good way.

Lonnie Kwartler, Chester, NY, USA
Yes, Charles Krauthammer is "quite a character," as you say. Saying that hardly adds to your article. He is. after all described by you as a journalist of conservative ilk. Yet, you gave him space for the content of what he said. True he is not of your ilk – apparently all views belong to an ilk – but it would have served your readers better, considering the psychological nature of his discussion, to include the fact that Charles Krauthammer is a psychiatrist.

Joseph Healy, Matthews, NC
Thank you for giving those other links to Charles Krauthammer. He is one of my favorite columnists and it upset me that you made him seem sort of creepy. Though I take it your position would be his opinions make him ipso facto creepy. Can't you start a political journal and have at it with your worldview? I just want to enjoy chess & it ruins my "chessday" to find you taking a shot at my President (as in a prior article) or beliefs.

Jonathan Shockley, San Francisco, CA
Here's a man that supports genocide and unbridled use of American/Israeli power. Here's a man whose actions of support towards a regime that is accelerating nuclear proliferation, are tantanamous to a threat against the human species. Talk about a REAL mad man.

David Knight, Vitória, Brasil
That biography you guys published about Charles Krauthammer was almost as funny as his name.

Merlijn van Veen, Arnhem
The story Mr. Krauthammer tells here is nothing more than a provocative sensational subject that is candy for the gossip lovers, certainly if it concerns Bobby Fischer. No doubt the aim of Mr. Krauthammer is to get himself heard with all the other "big boys", and he simply uses news for unleashing his unfounded opinions that are masked by so-called heavyweights who are similarly specialized like Bobby Fischer. Because that is really the issue here: Mr. Krauthammer talks about the dangers of specializing in chess, that supposedly would be absent in other fields – don't you believe it! In business, chess or other, there are always adversaries and also battles – sometimes these battles should be taken litteraly. Usually battles are started because of economic uncertainty, but everybody needs his bread, right?

As for my personal opinion about Mr. Fischer: personally I think he is right when he says that he is a genius who happens to play chess. That said, perhaps it is being a genius itself that could cause someone being not the right person for a number of things, or that others require a user's manual in order to address this person the right way. Like Mr. Krauthammer himself says, there are many chess grandmasters who are not crazy. I think Bobby Fischer has had enough turmoil, caused by others as well as by himself – no doubt he realizes that, and he may have come to this conclusion if he is to have the so much needed happiness for the rest of his years.

Gil Morales, Playa del Rey, CA
Mr. Krauthammer's observations on Bobby Fischer and the phenomenon of chess genius were interesting. However, I consider your attempts to discredit Mr. Krauthammer with misleading and erroneous assertions about The New American Century organization to be typical of the euro-lefist "ilk" promoting their anti-American agenda. I am neither a member of the Republican party in the U.S. or a member of The New American Century. But to assert that this organization is "a controversial organisation which proposes military and economic domination of land, space, and cyberspace by the United States, so as to establish American dominance in world affairs for the future" as you state in your news item is false and absurd, and lays bare the knee-jerk deceit and bais of the euro-leftist thought process.


Chess and business

Gerald Aycardo, Cebu, Philippines
Chess as a business enhancement tool? This is fallacious. How come most of the chess people I know are scared to venture into business? How come most of these people are just satisfied to be employed? How come most professional chess players depend on businessmen to fund their avocation? Chess is just chess. It may develop our analytical skills ... but only in the realm of chess. If you want to venture into business, stay away from chess.


Assault on Kasparov

Mahathr Chan, Edinburgh, UK
I am disgusted with the pictures of the Kasparov assault. It seems to me that everything was planned, including the staging of the "photo shoot". I also observed that the others around the place of incident didn't even raised an eyebrow. Not even a little look of surprise, showing that the majority were involved. How queer does it get? That is not the way treat a king of chess. I'm angered at this disrespectful behaviour.

FIDE world championship in San Luis

John Cate, Virginia Beach, USA
Of course people wrote in that the championship had no chance, no value, was not a solution. Of course it isn't. Will FIDE hold their championship? Maybe. Just maybe. just barely maybe, just potentially possibly barely maybe. Even if they do will it mean anything? Nope. Will Kramnik agree to this? Of course he won't, and who can blame him? So what does it solve? Will it unify the world championship if Kramnik and/or Anand don't play? Of course it won't. This is all so ridiculous. FIDE has chess in a tight chokehold. Garry has already tapped out. Who will be next?

Juan Carlos, San Isidro
If it were not for the official announcement in the Fide´s webpage, I would be still probably wondering if the article was one of your April Fool jokes. It's just that I am from Argentina and after having read several times about problems with funding in the chess world, the prize fund draw my attention. I mean, who guarantees the 1.000.000? The province of San Luis is going to provide it? Well, I´m glad that such an important tournament is to be held in my country.

Daniel Rezinovsky, Buenos Aires, Argentina
One million dollars to be paid by Argentina towards this event just seems to be a little too much. The country is still in recession, and not long ago half of its population was under the poverty line. Even if we consider the potential benefits of international exposure, and the possible gains from turism, I do not find it justifiable. Moreover, as a sarcastic remark, would you really trust my country to honor the agreement, reckoning it was defaulted until a couple of weeks ago?

Raul Lagomarsino, Montevideo, Uruguay
One million dollars for chess in Argentina? The country is in default, for Lasker´s sake! If the money is not in the bank now, it will never be. I really hope I am wrong, but I would bet this is yet another act of Kirsan's circus show. Please prove me wrong, for the good of all Latin America.

Marcel Balcarek Franktown, CO, USA
Congratulations to FIDE for gaining sponsorship to their 2005 World Championship; but shouldn't they wait until April 28 when the bidding process was due to end before announcing the winning bid?

There was a clause, 2.5.1, in original FIDE regulations that specified: In the event that FIDE receives a satisfactory open offer for a minimum prize fund of 1.000.000 USD + 20% (200.000 USD) as FIDE’s share by 15th of April, then FIDE may terminate the bidding procedure.


Ni Hao and Xie xie

Timothy Chou, Ithaca, New York
Just for reference: "ni hao" is "hello" in Chinese, and "xie xie" is thank you. There's some ambiguity since Chinese is written in traditional characters rather than the alphabet, so the translation is roughly phonetic.

April Goh, Singapore
I enjoyed your article on the Ladies' World Championship in Jinan, China. The Chinese (standard mainland
Pinyin) equivalent of "Hallo" and "Thank you" should be "Ni hao" and "xie xie" respectively.

Shan Gao, Perth Australia
Quote: "Ni hau" is hello in Chinese, "shia shia" is thank you. You should be a bit more careful with the words you use in the article. The greetings look like in Mandarin Pin Yin, but hello in Pin Yin is "Ni Hao", not "Hau". It is disrespectful to the Chinese people, likewise some of the captions in the picture. I was annoyed at this piece.You really should be more respectful. I've always thought highly of your journalism, but this one surprised me a bit.

A few hours later after corrections:
Wow, I am really surprised at the speed you guys edit your article. That was really great. I knew I would not be let down, chessbase.com is an awesome site.

Frederic Friedel


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