Marine Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller’s first public video put him in the public eye and referenced chess briefly, but not in such a way as to draw attention to chess as a particularly important part of his thinking. In it, he simply said, “If you play chess, you can only see two to three moves out, because there’s too many variables.”
Then, as shown in the first article of this series, Lt. Col. Scheller’s second video and social media posts showed he is certainly riddling with chess, as the video conspicuously featured a board set-up known as the ‘Trompowsky Attack’ and the post included commonly understood chess notation indicating the next move to be played in the sequence.
On August 31, Lt. Col. Scheller posted again, and again he signed with a chess move:
I understand you want to court-martial me. Your entire staff has already told me. All the Captains you spoke to today already texted me.
You recently banned all unit social media pages so that you could centralize the message. Because, I’m assuming, you think Marine leaders aren’t capable of passing a message in line with your intent.
Your problem right now… is that I am moving faster than you. I’m out maneuvering you. Where can we find this philosophy…
That post has since been deleted.
Another August 31 post is still up. It contains an image of a letter of resignation he sent that day, along with the note:
“To The American Leadership,
We the people submit our resignation with a requested date of 11 September 2021. Reason: Loss of trust and confidence. We the people seek change. We the people seek leadership. We the people seek accountability. We the people WILL take it. Every generation needs a revolution.
Then on September 1, his next post closed with a quote from the Matrix movie:
“To all my followers,
I plan for this to be my final post concerning my legal struggles with the Marine Corps. I will describe in this single post how the next two months will play out.
The Marine Corps will assign an investigating officer. Most likely a Colonel. In his investigative capacities, the Colonel will write an unnecessarily long document, with 323 findings of facts. He will ultimately find my posts/statements in violation of 2 to 3 UCMJ articles. Then, on page 38 of the investigation, he will ‘recommend further administrative action.’
Meanwhile, General Berger isn’t allowed to comment on the situation or else it will appear as ‘undue command influence.’ Such a stupid rule. The biggest issues in the Marine Corps, and our Generals can’t address them for fear of undue command influence. Who let the lawyers decide that?
Once the investigating officer finalizes his recommendation, the Marine Corps will decide if they should pursue court-martial. Normally they would (and should), but this situation may be different.
If it does go to court-martial, I will be found guilty, and will probably do some jail time. This will provide me a valuable opportunity to read, write, and contemplate.
But as stated in the beginning, I plan for this to be my final post concerning my legal struggles with the Marine Corps. Continuing to squabble with the organization I love so dearly doesn’t do either of us any benefit.
Young officers don’t join to become yes men. Young aspirational politicians don’t join to compromise their values. IT’S THE SYSTEM. The system forces us to give small pieces of ourselves so that we can continue playing. We willing[ly] give up these pieces believing it will lead to a place within the system where we eventually ‘influence real change.’ The problem is, that over time, those small pieces add up to significant moral, spiritual, mental, and physical changes. The system changes people, and they don’t even realize it.
‘That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.'”
That post, which did not include a chess move, has since been deleted.
On September 2, Lt. Col. Scheller posted,
“To all my followers,
It’s been a long week for me. I plan to take the next week off of social media. However, I felt compelled to make one final statement so that people aren’t overwhelming my inbox with questions over the next week.
First, I am as good as can be expected. My followers experienced a roller coaster of emotions with me this last week. All of your stories were comforting. The empathy shown revived my belief in humanity and Americans. I hope, when faced with perceived injustices, all Americans make the decision to always fight. I believe warriors never quit. I know I will never quit. This situation, like all others before it, will only make me (us) stronger.
Second, I want to clarify the purpose of this whole endeavor: accountability. Without accountability, Marines (Americans) cannot heal and the Marine Corps (America) cannot evolve as an organization. I must acknowledge that the rage escalated in my body very quickly, and perhaps my emotions didn’t always provide the rational clarity the situation required. But maybe… every once in a while… a little rage is required too.
Going forward at this point on my life’s path, I must remain committed to forcing accountability across our senior leaders. I do not trust that reviews done by panels at the political/military level will bring the change we seek. And I do not trust that it will change unless a strong enough force is applied to the system. Major changes are needed. The system needs to be broken and rebuilt. We need fresh blood and perspective across the entire system. Here’s a crazy idea to illustrate my point… what if we allowed the next EWS honor graduate to become the next Commandant? If you say it’s not possible for a young, intelligent, charismatic leader to lead an organization such as the Marine Corps, then I’d say you haven’t been reviewing the history books you tell us to read. If you say it’s not possible because that young officer can’t navigate the political landscape of DC… then I’d say you’re making the point for me. It’s time for a new generation to assume American power. We are ready, and we reject the current system.
Third, this entire experience has illustrated to me just how hungry Americans are for honesty, accountability, and reform across the government. This was expressed to me from ALL political parties. We the people want change. We the people WILL take it. We the people are ALL Americans.
Follow me, and we will bring the whole fucking system down… in a constitutional manner with one loud voice.
I respectfully ask all reporters, authors, friends, congressional offices, etc. to please also stop texting for the next week. I need to unplug.
Oddly, the chess move in that post would be another move by white (and so was C4)—but based on the moves we’ve seen, it would not be white’s turn. Further, in his video with the chessboard in it, though he was sitting as though he were playing as white, Lt. Col. Scheller titled the video ‘your move,’ and it was white’s turn next. Now his next public statement containing a chess move, posted on September 5, has yet another move for white (e3):
“To the people who stand with me, I have been advised not to make any further statements by all my lawyers, family/friends, and the teams of people trying to push me into different directions following my military career. I also said I would take the week off, and it’s only been three days.
BUT, tomorrow is Labor Day. The day we celebrate the hard hat wearing, time card punching, hungover but still gets up and goes to work hero. And I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to celebrate that hero with some sentiments that I think belong to the entire Labor Force.
The Labor Force has this to say to the American Government… perhaps, we the people are not as divided as you want US to be. We understand that divisions make it easier to control US. We understand that divisions can be exploited.
Fox News and CNN clearly illustrate our point. We have to watch both commentaries to understand how one side is spinning a story towards the other side. What if we just had an organization that reported the facts. We could come up with a name for it… like the news.
We the people are not black/white, straight/gay, Christian/atheist, mask/nomask, police/community, Wallstreet/Mainstreet… so on and so on. We are Americans. Adjectives are not required.
The Labor Force seeks fundamental change in our Government. We reject your system. If you’re not paying attention, you fucking should be. Refer to the Declaration of Independence as a reminder.
‘Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness… When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new guards for their future security.’
Second, the Labor Force wants to make another statement to the military establishment. Our current National Security Establishment created after World War II does not work. We the people seek fundamental change.
President Eisenhower, a man with more experience/insight than any other American past or present on this matter, clearly anticipated our current problems. Reference his quote on the military industrial complex.
How many General Officers and high-ranking OSD employees get jobs with Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Haliburton, or Northrop Grumman. I dare you to publish that stat. Do you think we’re stupid?
We can’t ALL be wrong.
They only have the power because we allow it.
Every generation needs a revolution.
The initial four moves that Lt. Col. Scheller chose (two by each player), as shown in the video previous to this article, occurred in ~0.002% of all officially recorded games played by masters of chess (4,753). The Stockfish 14 computer tool evaluates this position as almost exactly 50/50 odds of winning for black and white.
Here are the five moves that Lt. Col. Scheller had provided at last reporting (the first four on the board, then the first move provided as a signature):
d4: Queen’s Pawn Game 826,558/2,299,869 = 35.93%*
White moves the pawn in front of the queen forward two spaces. This is the second most common opening move (36%**).
Nf6: Indian Defense 496,281 games = 21.58%*
Black moves the king-side knight forward. This is the most common response to the Queen’s Pawn opening (60%**).
Bg5: Trompowsky Attack 20,017 games = 0.87%*
White moves the queen-side bishop to threaten black’s knight. This is the third most common response to the Indian Defense. (4%**)
d5: Trompowsky Attack cont’d 4,753 games = 0.21%*
Black matches queen pawns in the center by moving his queen’s pawn forward two spaces (21.97%**).
Bxf6: Trompowsky Attack cont’d 2,100 games = 0.09%*
White bishop takes black’s knight. This is the most common move from this position among masters (44%**).
* percentage of all masters games (FIDE rating > 2200 from 1952-2019) that reached this exact position, rounded.
** percentage of all masters who chose this move from this exact position, rounded.
Here is the position that resulted:
Now it is black’s turn—but since all of the moves that Scheller has provided since Bxf6 could only be referring to the white pieces, it begs the question: What are the missing moves by black in between?
Though we don’t know for sure, there are only two moves that would make any sense to even the most amateur of players on the first go. White’s last move began an exchange by taking black’s knight; the obvious response is to finish the trade by taking the bishop with one of two pawns: exf6 or gxf6.
While the Stockfish chess engine recommends the pawn on g7 take the bishop, most chess masters have used the pawn on e7. Experience with common chess openings shows that the e7 move looks more natural to the human:
Scheller has provided three more moves for white: c4, Nf3, and e3. Similarly to the other move in which black’s response was missing, the move black must be playing in between is limited by the logic of strategic chess. However, there are enough options that it is not obvious.
After playing out the possibilities for a bit, here is a position I came up with as likely to occur from sound chess between two human beings:
- The conservative lower bound of possible unique sequences of moves in a chess game is called the Shannon number after the American mathematician Claude Shannon. It has been estimated that there are 10^15 hairs on all the human heads in the world (1 with 15 zeroes), 10^23 grains of sand on Earth, and 10^81 atoms in the universe. The Shannon number is 10^120.
- Only about 10,000 early game possibilities are very common, given that a small number of moves makes strategic sense from each position. Even so, it does not take very many moves, even in a game among masters, to reach probability that the exact game sequence has never been played before.
- In a game between two chess masters, a great number of those 10,000 games might be used, even if not thought to be the ‘best.’ Any of them that give black and white something close to 50/50 odds to win could be chosen by players who desire variety or a strategic edge by using a lesser played game sequence. However, it is fairly well known up to a handful of moves among all top players what the very best move is thought to be among humans and by computers, and the computer’s evaluation of the strength of any position can be found by anyone who uses one of the many computer analysis tools available online.