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Giving Thanks

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Happy Thanksgiving to all, even those who only consider it a weird American thing. It was always interesting to explain to friends around the world why we have a holiday based on food. Not that most American holidays aren't. (Okay, Valentine's Day and Halloween aren't really holidays.) So take a break from the gluttony and give some chess thanks in the comments.

I'm thankful that despite all the political BS we've had a ton of good top-level chess. Instead of the usual three, maybe four, top events, we'll have had seven or eight by the end of this year. Linares, the Mtel and San Luis were all memorable. And all topped by Topalov, including a fitting shared first with Kasparov in Linares. We can be thankful someone stepped up and picked up the slack with The Garry away from the board. Thank you, Veselin!

And I haven't hit the potent eggnog yet, but I probably won't have time to post after festivities begin so I'll get maudlin now. Thanks to all the subscribers, contributors, readers, comment crazies, and everyone else out there. There are now over 200,000 visits here every month. You have turned this blog into a tool for turning public knowledge and opinion into real change. I raise my roast turkey leg in salute. (But keep your mitts off the stuffing.)


OK! As you wish Mig :)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and all your readers!

Best wishes,
Susan Polgar

I give thanks that the great game of chess exists!

Now I just wish they had tournaments and clubs here in China so I could play.

Nice idea, Mig.

I've been very harsh on Topalov in the past, so I'd like to use this occasion to say that I really admire the way he plays chess and I always enjoy to watch his games on the playchess server. Without any doubt he would be a worthy "unified" world chess champion.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

I would like to thank the American chess organizers for hiding the results and especially games of their open tournaments so cleverly. It makes the otherwise boring job of observing the opens more exciting. :-)


I am grateful that we have 2 Champions instead of none.

I am grateful that the two champions will become one champion next year. ( I keep hoping )

I am especially grateful for the internet. it brings the world into my home every day. It allows me to play chess every day. It brings me the chess news every day. It allows me to watch the great games of chess live with comments.

This is incredible. in 1972 I tried to watch the
Fischer Spassky match on TV and the reception was terrible. it would come in and fade out. some days it never worked and always it was a very poor reception. I was so frustrated that America could not do better about such an exciting match.

Today I can participate in World Championship matches far beyond my wildest imagination back in 1972.

And Last but not least. I am grateful that the world has given us Mig the Chess Guru who entertains and informs and is always a most important part of the World of Chess.

And Susan Polgar who is so wonderful for chess in the united states and the world. what a wonderful woman.

Mig and Susan the 2 best blogs on the internet. One of these days I am going to get one of her great chess puzzles correct.

somewhere after dinner everyone will hear the cry coming from the Boston area. It will be me saying


Happy Thanksgiving

God Bless Everyone



Very many thanks for providing both the news and a forum for discussing it (where much more news is often uncovered!). You do a great job!

warm regards,

Mig, thanks for providing a forum for current chess news and dicussion. It is much appreciated.


Happy thanksgiving yanks from your neighbours up north, who also celebrate thanksgiving, but at a different time of year, and for no particular reason.

Thanks for all the wonderful things said, so I don't need to add any more.

And thanks for providing an avenue for my rare idiosyncratic hypercritical and mostly useless comments.

And thanks for a website I can visit everyday.

And thanks to you too unknown contributor who might need some thanks.


How sad that Americans are telling other countries Thanksgiving is about food. George Washington's proclamations making Thanksgiving a national holiday shows the essence of our holiday:

"Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness":

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

Thank you for posting that Wideman, but it won't be to far down the road when "In God We Trust" will be removed, just like he has been kicked out of the classroom. Traditions mean nothing to folks anymore. Kirsan and his thugs now want to take away WC Match Play and shove tourneys down our throat. Yes, how sad it is, thanks again for printing our first Prsident's remarks.

Thanks for your efforts on our behalf, Mig.

I'm also thankful for computers- the use of which has raised the quality of the human game.

Thanks to Mig and all you Yanks, Happy Thanks Giving from the UK. And thanks also to Susan Polgar for giving me an idea - post your own website link here. Now we are a small chess club using a free web host service [thanks to Beehive for that] So go on make my day and lets see the web counter start ticking over big time, Thanks, Peter Chapman


thank you chess ! you make us happy :)
happy thanksgiving from India

Bah. Thanksgiving has always been about food (more precisely, bounty) and in the 20th century we officially added shopping. Written accounts of it as a harvest festival in the US go back hundreds of years before George Washington made his comments incorporating the dominant superstitions of his day and his life, as did Lincoln when he made it official. In a largely Christian country you can expect everything to be presented through the filter of Christianity, but that doesn't mean everyone sees it that way. It was, and is, a celebration of bounty. (Unless you'd like to claim the cornucopia as a Christian symbol.)

That some prefer to give thanks to a god for said bounty does not make Thanksgiving a religious occasion. Along with the Puritans and other witch-burners, it was celebrated in the 17th century America by various groups with no interest in gods. The sky-god worshipers already have Christmas in the US. Please leave Thanksgiving to everyone who has something for which to give thanks.

Thanksgiving was proclaimed sporadically by various US presidents on an individual basis and wasn't made an annual holiday until 1863. Later FDR moved it up to create more shopping days in the unofficial shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This year I had Thanksgiving dinner in the company of a European history teacher from Germany who teaches at Rutgers. He moved here with his family in August. When I told him about the tradition of the President pardoning the White House turkeys from execution he first thought I was joking, and then wondered if it was a cruel irony in a country that executes so many humans!

"...in a country that executes so many humans!"
Wow, Mig, did you say "Right on!" or did you ask him to elaborate? Frankly, his words trouble me.

Well, it is a well-known fact that about 90% of the world and practically all of the developed countries except USA have abolished capital punishment and consider those who didn't (like Americans) complete barbarians.

Well, this was a dead holiday thread anyway I suppose...

I didn't feel any elaboration was required. That a vast majority of the citizens of every other industrialized nation see capital punishment as barbaric is well documented. Just read through the nations in the top group on this page with America's co-practitioners in the bottom group.


Keeping some fine company there.

That a president who personally presided over so many human executions as Texas governor (152) is pardoning poultry is, at the very least, ironic. Of course the turkey thing is a lighthearted tradition, but it's always good to see things through the eyes of others on occasion.

I just finished "Fast Food Nation" and if Bush has pardoned poultry, maybe he read it too! Unbelievable book... although I was familiar with much of the content. Interesting read!

Yah, read that when it came out and haven't eaten ground beef since. Not that I ate a lot of it before, but now if I really need it I buy steak and grind my own. Just the thought of a package of ground beef coming from so many different cows is enough, let alone the conditions he describes and the regular e coli outbreaks. Of course he owes much to Upton Sinclair and his 1906 book "The Jungle." Still very much worth a read.

I enjoy the chess, Mig, but the liberal, humanistic, political views belong in another blog. Perhaps a new page on politics or maybe your own forums for off-topic discussion. That being said, it's your blog, write what you want (no matter how far out of the mainstream) and I'll still enjoy the chess stuff.

Now the real facts (just numbers - not liberal ideology) about capital punishment:

"During the temporary suspension on capital punishment from 1972-1976, researchers gathered murder statistics across the country. In 1960, there were 56 executions in the USA and 9,140 murders. By 1964, when there were only 15 executions, the number of murders had risen to 9,250. In 1969, there were no executions and 14,590 murders, and 1975, after six more years without executions, 20,510 murders occurred rising to 23,040 in 1980 after only two executions since 1976. In summary, between 1965 and 1980, the number of annual murders in the United States skyrocketed from 9,960 to 23,040, a 131 percent increase. The murder rate -- homicides per 100,000 persons -- doubled from 5.1 to 10.2. So the number of murders grew as the number of executions shrank. Researcher Karl Spence of Texas A&M University said:

"While some [death penalty] abolitionists try to face down the results of their disastrous experiment and still argue to the contrary, the...[data] concludes that a substantial deterrent effect has been observed...In six months, more Americans are murdered than have killed by execution in this entire century...Until we begin to fight crime in earnest [by using the death penalty], every person who dies at a criminal's hands is a victim of our inaction."

Notes Dudley Sharp of the criminal-justice reform group Justice For All:

"From 1995 to 2000," "executions averaged 71 per year, a 21,000 percent increase over the 1966-1980 period. The murder rate dropped from a high of 10.2 (per 100,000) in 1980 to 5.7 in 1999 -- a 44 percent reduction. The murder rate is now at its lowest level since 1966. "

Thanks for your permission to write what I want, even in the comments. It's a blog. I'm not going to sanitize it of any hint of personality to satisfy a few reactionairies. I make the occasional aside or joke in perhaps one item from every 20 and it's only indicative of the hypersensitivity and anal retentiveness of a select few that they make a big deal out of each one instead of just accepting that not everyone on Earth agrees with them and that it's not offensive to encounter different viewpoints from time to time, however shocking that can be to Fox News devotees. It's actually okay to let things go sometimes, especially when it's obvious they aren't the point.

Just numbers, eh? Lies, damned lies, and statistics. Thinking for yourself is good too. (And finding better sources for boilerplate conservative hackery than plagiarist Jeff Jacoby. Just post a link next time to save space. For example, http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/article.php?scid=12&did=167 has actual information.) The simplest refutation is that murder rates closely follow the rate of all crime, and most crime does not have capital punishment. So unless shoplifters are deterred by the death penalty, there is vague correlation but no causation. Drug-funded wars and an extreme increase in the availability and lethality of weaponry accounted for a much higher death rate per assault as machine guns and powerful 20-shot clip handguns replaced Saturday Night Specials. That and murder rates rose and fell similarly both in states with and without capital punishment, showing that economics and, less so, broad changes in law enforcement are what matter. Heck, if you dump the extreme spikes of Texas data there's nothing even to Jacoby's typically one-sided presentation. We can even toss in the fact that neighboring states with similar crime rates, the murder rate in the state with the death penalty is usually higher than the the neighbor without it, one of many pieces of evidence that favor what is called the brutalization effect of capital punishment.

Plot the crime rate against joblessness if you really want causation. Or read some of the articles on that linked page with an open mind before cutting and pasting some out of context numbers from a predictable ideologue.

Mig, just out of curiosity, what makes you call Jeff Jacoby a plagiarist? That is, besides the abundantly obvious fact that he is not your favourite author.

And speaking of "boilerplate conservative hackery", what is your opinion of another obscure fellow who goes by the name of Garry Kasparov?

Stephen Levitt in his book Freakonomins also states that there is little correlation between death penalty and reduced crime. Besides, he claims that the biggest responsible for crime reduction in the 90's was Roe v Wade.

Looking at the list of countries where the death penalty is still practiced, I noticed the US is not alone among the list of "developed" countries. Japan and South Korea sprang to mind.

I don't know, dz, is an article by Kasparov under discussion here or can we stick to the topic for a bit? And not all conservatives are hacks. Jacoby copy-pasted talking points from the web into his column. Along with a few others he was nabbed doing this in 2000 and was suspended from the Globe. Of course it was a cheapo on my part to mention this but the original poster didn't credit his source or just post a link to the Jacoby column where he got it.

Yah, Japan, the US, and South Korea are regularly singled out as the remaining industrialized democracies with the death penalty. South Korea may be abolishing it next month, however, and I don't think they've executed anyone since 1997.

Just to show we're all keeping up to the minute. This in today's WaPo:


Mig, let us say that my dragging in Kasparov was a return cheapo, my apologies. However, I do take exception with your handling of Jacoby's "plagiarism." Your statement "Along with a few others he was nabbed doing this in 2000 and was suspended from the Globe" is in fact extremely misleading.

Globe itself never accused Jacoby of plagiarism. Unlike those "a few others" - Mike Barnicle and Patricia Smith - who were indeed accused of plagiarism and subsequently fired (forced to quit, technically speaking). Whereas Jacoby was reprimanded for being sloppy and suspended for a few months. The difference was obvious - he was quoting from some popular web sites and just assumed it had all been common knowledge. No one, Globe included, was under impression that he intended to pass that material as his own.

As far as sticking to the topic is concerned, that was supposed to be a "dead holiday thread", right? Why so much venom?

What venom?

Lifting most of a column from a 1956 Paul Harvey essay (modified and sent around the net) without attribution was the action. What the Globe called it is up to them. "Serious journalistic misconduct" was their choice. You don't suspend someone for four months for being wrong, which it also was. That the Globe published a Dear Abby column on the same day with pretty much the same information as Jacoby's column no doubt made them feel doubly burned. Same day!

I wasn't referring to Barnicle and Smith; that was two years earlier in an unrelated incident. (Although Jacoby's punishment was no doubt more severe because of those recent cases at the Globe.) Several other equally gullible conservative columnists "borrowed" from the same item as Jacoby when it went around as an email in 2000. Those are the others I was referring to.

Thank you for clarifications, but my initial point still stands. Jacoby's "crime" was in fact a misdemeanor at best and nowhere near plagiarism. I agree with you that his punishment was more severe because of Barnicle and Smith's real plagiarism (fabrication in case of Smith) - there would have been a huge public outcry otherwise.

As the Globe put it, the "concept and structure for his column were not entirely original," which was my point. They stopped short of calling their own columnist a plagiarist for various reasons, but it was certainly quite near indeed. ("to use and pass off as one's own") At least he didn't repeat the various factual errors in the email that others passed on unchecked.

The Dear Abby thing was the best part though. When your political columnist is printing the same stuff as Dear Abby you ain't getting your money's worth from somebody!

Mig, I hate to be nitpicking so much, but to the best of my recollection, the Globe never (that is to say, for the last 20 years) carried the Dear Abby column. Ann Landers it may have been, thank you for reminding me of this detail. In the spirit of the holiday season, I won't hold that against you. They were twin sisters, after all...

Mig, some more nitpicking for you. The Jacoby's article was published on July 3rd, 2000. The Ann Landers' column appeared in print the next day, on July 4th. You were close though...

Ah, I remembered it from an item about another paper that syndicates both of them. Jacoby's column on the next day, after the Globe. They both ran on the 4th there and in other papers that ran both syndicated columns. (Fitting considering the Founding Fathers theme.) Don't remember if it was Landers or Abby, interchangeable to me twin sisters or no.

They must have been triplets then (Landers, Abby and Jacoby.)

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on November 24, 2005 2:15 AM.

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