Edition # 12 - 07 /01/04 - Editor: C. Thompson
(A monthly e-mail newsletter-pertaining to activities in the area)
-Produced by the 1st-week - monthly

The Homan Sq. Pool Checkers and Chess Club
of Chicago-
Homan Sq. Community Center
3559 W. Arthington St.
Chicago, IL.
Hours: Mon., Wed., Fri. - 2:30 - 9:00 P.M.
Phone - 312-746-6650
Pres. Charles Thompson

Chess Corner

Man vs. Machine

The Machine Mauls Man

And finally the chess machine (Chessmaster 4000) received a challenge. After observing my musing about the machine being unable to get a challenge, recently joined member, Fabian Ramos e-mailed the editor and emphatically stated, "I will beat any machine." "Nobody has, yet, seen my real power on the chess board," Mr. Ramos continued. After my inquiry about whether he was really serious, the match was on. Opting for a couple of warm-up exhibition games before the match, Mr. Ramos tried what he said was a new line of play. He was ‘mated’ on move # 9. Trying the same line in a second game, Mr. Ramos was able to stay through a full 19 moves before he was 'mated' again; The match, itself, was put on hold. Another new member, Mr. Ron Goins, took up the challenge and was soundly trounced (3-0). The Machine, which is now (8-0), is still looking for an opponent.

But, we offer our congrats to the two challengers for their bravery, because the games were saved, and now can be studied. The Machine will never get away with wining those games, that way, again. In effect, we learned something-even in losing.

With that victory, Chessmaster 4000 has done it's job. It is now being retired. A new and more powerful program has been introduced as the Center's own super instructor-coach, Mr. Brown has provided the Club with the use of his desktop computer and an even stronger program (Chessmaster 5000). Even some members are threatening to bring in more powerful programs. Windpool and Sage, in Pool Checkers, and up through Chessmaster 9000, in Chess, is being contemplated. More about that later.

Legends of "Buster"

"Buster" vs. Owens

"A Match Made in Heaven," as the late-great Mayor Harold Washington, of Chicago, Illinois often-timed said.

For five years running, (1972-1976), Freddie Owens had finished in 2nd place behind "Buster at the APCA Tournaments." And for the most part, it was by the narrowest of margins-2 points. One could, perhaps, sense the frustration building up in Mr. Owens as the finally tally was computed, and he would come up short time and time again. I was one of those officials who had the responsibility of staying up half the night to help make sure the tally was correct. And each time, Mr. Owens’ (zero loss) performance would not be enough.

Out east, he was called the "Hawk," perhaps for his aggressive play. But, many of us, here in the Midwest, had never heard of him, and his precise play, until he burst upon the tournament scene, I think, in 1972. Even in losing to "Buster," in those five consecutive years, Mr. Owens would oftentimes go undefeated in the whole tournament. That was considered remarkable, when you keep in mind, the eventual winner would usually have lost, at least, one game.

And so on a date, lost in my memory, the gentlemen from the East invited "Buster" to come to Baltimore, Maryland, Freddie's hometown, for a showdown match. It was, by some accounts, a Pool Checkers Match for the Ages. Playing his signature game called the "Pitch and Squeeze," it's said that Mr. Owens tied up, our own Carl "Buster" Smith, game after game, until such time as "Buster" had to stop making the ‘Hit," as we in the Pool Checker's world would call it. Many say "Buster" was lucky to escape with a 3-2 loss after 14 games.

Of course, the kibitzers of Chicago, was not about to accept that "Buster" had lost to Freddie. And so the spin was on. Van "Vansky" Penn said, It didn't happen, it couldn't happen, and it would not have happened had it not been for the weather. "I took 'Buster" to the airport, and the snow was three feet deep," he deadpanned. "Yea, chipped in, James 'Variation James" Adams, "and when he arrived at the airport in Baltimore, it was even deeper than that." "Buster" was simply to fatigued to play," my good friend Mr. Penn would end up.

But, Freddie Owens did defeat Carl "Buster" Smith in that historical match. And it was no fluke. I know because our own, Mr. Fred D. Shurn has shown me the games (especially the pitch and squeeze games many times). And so the cry went out, "Bring Freddie to Chicago." But, it never happened.

We were ready to declare Mr. Owens the king of the American Pool Checkers’ universe-notwithstanding "Buster‘s" five straight APCA Championship wins. But, Freddie then made his ill-fated trip to Detroit, Michigan to play Mr. George "Lil George" Ramsey a 20 game match. This was another battle of the titans (more about that match later). Mr. Owens lost that match, and we were now back to square #1. Who was the best Pool Checkers player in American?

Eventually, the Russians would change the whole equation. And the questions about Freddie and "Buster" would become mute. Who was the very best, would then become abundantly clear -- as the Legend continues… "Buster" meets the Grandmaster, as his woes grow. But eventually, he would bow out in a ‘blaze of glory.’