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  • Glenn Julich

In some of the chess books and videos I've enjoyed recently, I've noted a common reference to finding your individual chess hero.  From what I gathered, this would be someone whose games resonate with you and inspire your own decisions on the board.

As I am just now getting more serious with my chess study, I don't really have a chess hero at this time.  I really haven't yet studied enough games by the masters to discover someone whose tactics really speak to me.

So I wanted to create a simple and short post tonight and ask: Do you have a chess hero?  If so, who?  And why?  I'd really enjoy reading which players inspire my readers. 

(And since I don't have one... feel free to nominate one!) 

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  • Glenn Julich

Updated: Oct 7, 2020

Every once in a while I come across something on the web about chess that makes me realize that the benefits of the game extend beyond our simple love of the game.

One such story that I came across was the recent blog posting by the Veterans Administration (VA) about the integration of chess into their service offerings at the Detroit VA Medical Center.

The Detroit VA started a Detroit veterans team, who call themselves the Checkmates. They meet weekly for practices and recently joined together in a tournament in Chicago.

Often, veterans are reluctant to ask for help.  The VA has been able to use the chess team to connect with veterans in a non-clinical setting and foster veteran-veteran connections as well for mutual support.   Their hope is that these connections will open the door for those who need help, but might not otherwise ask for it.

What a brilliant and heart-warming story! You can read the full story here: Click here for the full story.

What type of hidden benefits of chess have you stumbled across? If you have found one, please share it in the comments below!

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  • Glenn Julich

On a cool Paris evening in 1783, Ben Franklin sat down to play a pleasant game of chess against the world's first "chess computer." This "computer" wasn't made of metal and silicone. No, this computer was wood, gears, and (of course) dressed as a Turkish intellectual -- and thus, the machine was appropriately called "The Turk."

After only a few minutes of puffing away and pawn pushing, Ben Franklin fell victim to a nasty checkmate by the so-called computer. To which he uttered the famous words which have been passed down through the ages, "Dude, this computer has pwned my n00b face!"

I might be exaggerating. I mean, the part about the wooden "chess computer" is true, but I'm sure he didn't really say anything about pwnage. He probably just acted like the rest of us: he swore loudly and then rage quit the game.

As I much as I have loved the game of chess over the years, I somehow missed this incredible piece of chess history: "The Turk."

"The Turk" was the creation of a Hungarian inventor named Wolfgang Von Kempelen -- known in the hip hop community as "Wolfy V-K." (Again, I exaggerate)

Ole Wolfy created this machine in 1770 as a clever entertainment for the societal elites. It was basically, as the picture shows, a giant box with a chessboard and a wooden manikin dressed in Turkish garb of the time.

Wolfy V-K traveled around Europe with his "machine" and dominated the Pogchamp circuit of the day. It was clearly a hoax, of course. People all over Europe speculated how it could possibly work. There had to be something in the wooden box; but what? Theories included a chess-playing monkey and a legless war veteran. Of course, there was someone inside... there had to be. Right?

While traveling in Europe, it is reported to have beaten many famous people. Aside from Ben Franklin, it also beat Napoleon -- who incidentally tried to cheat by playing an illegal move to which the chess-playing monkey (?) replied by wiping all the pieces of the board. Onlookers swear they heard a chimpanzee shout "Monkey don't play!" (Exaggeration)

So "The Turk" was high entertainment during its day. It prompted books to be written about it speculating as to its design and function. Ultimately, "The Turk" was destroyed in a fire in 1854. Since that time, it has been recreated by John Gaughan, an American who manufactures equipment for magicians.

If you'd like to learn more about "The Turk," there are some interesting documentaries on YouTube: "The Turk" Documentary

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