Friday, December 21, 2012

Pestaño: Chess playing bad guys

Friday, December 21, 2012

The deadly mass shooting of 26 persons at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut last week shocked the whole world. The act is so evil that it is almost beyond comprehension.
Sixteen of the children who died were only six years old. Four were seven. All were shot multiple times. The gunman, Adam Lanza, who previously killed his mother then shot himself.
A few weeks ago, I featured saints, popes and other holy men who play chess, This article chronicles the opposite- the bad guys.
Alphonse Gabriel “Al” Capone was an American gangster who led a Prohibition-era crime syndicate that was dedicated to smuggling and bootlegging including prostitution, in Chicago from the early 1920s to 1931. An Al Capone Gambit is when you use the IRS to pin someone down.
Robert Stroud served 54 of his 73 years in prison, 42 of them in isolation. He played chess with some of the guards. He is famous because of the movie “Birdman of Alcatraz” .He was sent to prison for murder and while there stabbed a fellow inmate and killed one of the guards.
Raymond Weinstein was an American International Master from New York. He killed his 83-year-old roommate with a razor after an argument .
Charles Manson is a convicted serial killer who has become an icon of evil. In the late 1960s, Manson founded a hippie cult group known as “the Family” whom he manipulated into brutally killing others on his behalf. One of those murdered was the actress Sharon Tate, my favorite. He sometimes played chess with the chaplain of San Quentin.
Claude Bloodgood was sentenced to death after being convicted of murdering his mother, although this sentence was later commuted. While in prison, he played a large number of correspondence games and rated games with other inmates.
Harold Davidson was sometimes known as the “Prostitutes’ Padre.” He was a Church of England priest. He spent his weekends saving young girls from sin. At his trial the prosecution maintained that what he was saving them for was himself. He was defrocked on charges of immorality. He was president of the Oxford Chess Club and captain of their team.
John Christie was a notorious English serial killer active in the 1940s and early 1950s. He murdered at least eight females–including his wife Ethel–by strangling them in his flat in Notting Hill, London. While on trial, he passed his time thrashing his wardens and other prisoners at chess. He was hanged.
Aleister Crowley was known as the wickedest man of the world. He became the most notorious practitioner of black magic in the 20th century. Between his orgies he represented Cambridge and Oxford team in chess and he rarely lost.
Norman Whitaker was a lawyer who became a conman. He swindled the Lindbergh parents on a promise that he could returned the kidnapped Lindbergh infant. He was imprisoned for 5 years.He got an IM norm in by placing 1st in San Francisco in 1923.
The most notorious murderer who killed John Kennedy was Lee Harvey Oswald . His squad leader in the Marines said chess was his favorite game.
John Wayne Gacy was an American serial killer and rapist who sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 teenage boys. He was convicted of 33 murders and sentenced to death for 12 of these killings. He was executed in May 1994. He was a competitive chess player.
Walter Sickert,who they say was also known as Jack the Ripper, gave London an autumn reign of terror in 1888.. He was a keen chess player.
Other chess-playing bad guys were John Hinckley who tried to assassinate Reagan, Sirhan Sirhan who was convicted for the assassination of United States Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Ian Huntly for the killing of 2 girls known as the Soham murders.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Pestaño: Chess and religion

Thursday, December 6, 2012

MOST of the news last month was about the canonization of Visayan Pedro Calungsod and the thanksgiving mass at the SRP where more than a million people attended.
Present were some Cardinals from Rome and all the Bishops in the Philippines, two of whom were my classmates in Christ the King Mission Seminary ( an outstanding class!).
There are an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 saints in the Catholic church, so it’s no big deal. Its significance lies in the fact that he was a Cebuano from Ginatilan and he was only the second Pinoy after San Lorenzo Ruiz.
Why is there so much fascination about religion?
I have an interesting theory on why this is so. Fishes travel in schools and various birds migrate to the same places because it is genetic. So are the bees with their honeycomb.
It is the same with humans, Man’s belief in a Supreme Being and the afterlife is genetic, embedded when we evolved. To do otherwise is unnatural. That is why all kinds of religion are popular. I should know. I was in the seminary before and I joined the Cursillo movement in the late 60s and was a member of the “Born again” phenomenon in the 80s.
Now back to chess. I did a research if San Pedro Calungsod was a chess player. There is no clear picture. The closest I got was that by the time he was born, chess was already played in Cebu.
Chess and religion did not always get along. At one time or another, chess was forbidden by Roman Catholics, Jews, the Puritans, and the Muslims because of the graven images . During the 10th to 12th century you could be excommunicated for
playing chess.
Most recently the Taliban banned it.
There were exceptions though-St. Francis Xavier saved a soldier’s soul by teaching him chess and St, Francis de Sales encouraged it as long as it is played in moderation.
St Thomas Becket played constantly with another avid player King Henry II.
St Charles Borromeo was the cardinal- archbishop of Milan from 1564 to 1584. He played chess almost every day.
Sir Thomas More (died 6 July 1535) was an English lawyer and statesman. He was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1935 . He said chess would be played in Utopia.
But the most outstanding of them all is a woman--St. Teresa of Avila ((March 28, 1515 – October 4, 1582), one of the leaders of the Counter Reformation. She was a reformer of the Carmelite Order and is considered to be a founder of the Discalced Carmelites.
In 1970 she was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI. Her enthusiasm of the game led to her being considered to be the patron saint of chess players
Popes who played chess included Pope Leo XIII, Pope Gregory VI, Pope Innocent III, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Leo X.
He was not a saint or a pope but the strongest player of them all was Ruy Lopez, a Spanish priest. The most popular opening in chess is named after him. He was such an excellent player that Philip II (the Philippines is named after him) gave him a pension of 2,000 gold crowns a year which makes him more prosperous than most modern grandmasters.
A one-time Catholic priest is William Lombardy ,a grandmaster. He became a GM when he scored the only 11-0 perfect score in the World Junior Championship in 1957. In the early 1980s, Lombardy left the priesthood and subsequently married. He is now retired and lives in New York City, where he is writing and teaches chess at his home and by appointment elsewhere.
Not all Christian chess players are Catholic. Martin Luther wrote that his recurring dream was owning an ornate gold and silver chess set. Another one is Billy Graham, who plays chess when not saving souls.