Chess marine Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller has posted highly controversial criticisms of President Donald Trump, President Barrack Obama, General James Mattis, General David Petraeus, General Michael Flynn, and more.
At last reporting, Lt. Col. Scheller had laid out charges he said he planned to bring against Central Command (CENTCOM) chief General Kenneth F. McKenzie under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Before that, he posted that he had sent a Request for Resignation letter to the Secretary of the Navy with an effective date of Sept. 11, 2021. He wrote several notes to followers with various observations and complaints about what he has seen among leadership, “the system,” media, and more. He said lawyers, family, and friends were advising him to stop making public statements.
All this came after his initial videos that called for accountability from U.S. military leaders for what he called “clear, obvious mistakes” in the Afghanistan withdrawal.
The recent posts began Sept. 25 when Scheller levied a bevy of criticisms in a 1417 word complaint posted to Facebook and LinkedIn. He writes of “failed systems” that “key holding hypocrites” use as “safe haven.” He goes after military authorities who he says have ordered him to “refrain from posting any and all material, in any form without exception” to social media, mass emails, group texts, or anywhere similar. He goes on to list complaints about a number of central figures in U.S. foreign policy:
President Donald Trump: “I was told by everyone to kiss the ring because of your following and power. I refuse. While I respect your foreign policy positions, I hate how you divided the country. I don’t need or want your help. You do not have the ability to pull the US together. You may even win the next election. But your generation’s time is running out. Tell your son to stop tweeting about me. Your whole family knows nothing about US or our sacrifices. I could never work with you. I’d rather sit in jail and be released with a dishonorable than make compromises in my beliefs.”
President Barrack Obama: “Great at speeches… obviously weak in any intestinal fortitude.”
President George H.W. Bush: “…great at speeches… obviously ignorant in thinking he could import democracy.”
President Bill Clinton: “Great at bringing Congress together… obviously morally bankrupt. This includes his wife.”
General James Mattis: “The warrior monk. We all know you became a monk because you are gay… You talked about reading books all the time. The only problem… you didn’t win any wars. Maybe you should have read different books.”
General David Petraeus: “You led Iraq and Afghanistan because you were such an influential leader. However, history demonstrated you didn’t have the insight of George Bush Sr., who knew when to pull out of a military campaign once the objectives were achieved. History somehow forgot George Bush Sr.’s genius. If you were half as smart as him, you would have recommended an efficient withdraw much sooner than the long wars you promoted. But that would have marginalized the theory of your genius. And without your celebrity… there are no adulterous escapades.”
General Michael Flynn: “You gave interviews about me. Pretending to understand me. You are the same as the rest. You were caught in a lie. My generation is sick of your lies. We are not the same. Stop speaking my name as if you understand me. You could never understand US.”
The roast continues as Scheller takes on Ph.D.’s at military academies, Generals involved in his legal situation, and a recent Task and Purpose article about him.
Scheller’s post ended with, “Col Emmel, please have the M.P.s waiting for me at 0800 on Monday. I’m ready for jail. VR/US,” and had an image attached with a picture of a chessboard. More on the chess later.
Comments from his followers came in, and he made a reply comment to one of them that remarked on his criticism of Trump. “You may not like or agree with Trump, but at some point, you will need someone’s help and he may be the only one with any pull,” the commenter said, and further opined that Scheller should use the situation as an “opportunity” to “educate him and others,” and warned him not to “completely alienate” himself.
He responded by saying:
“Trump has bone spurs? The older generation is enamored with his truth, they fail to see his faults. He’s a liar like all the others.”
The same day, he posted 540 words that offered his take on a variety of issues:
Status Quo Government: “Does the current government still serve the interests of the people? If the American people feel the answer to the critical question is ‘no’ or ‘the government is so broken that fundamental change needs to occur’ then the American people must evaluate the four options laid out by the founding fathers to make fundamental change. 1) Navigating a new generation of thinkers through one of the two existing major parties, 2) Building a new generation of thinkers in a smaller pre-existing nationally recognized third party, 3) Exercising article V of the Constitution, or 4) Revolution.”
Economic Crisis: “Both major parties have been unable or unwilling to, not only stabilize a budget, but more importantly, decrease the national debt. The current path is clearly unsustainable and will result in the collapse of the Republic.”
Military Employment Failure: “Failure to utilize the military in a manner that increases national power. The current military-industrial machine is broken. They post WWII National Security System needs replaced.”
Lack of Accountability: “Senior officials in the government and political establishment are allowed to abuse their power at the expense of the everyday American. The everyday American is held to a much higher standard than the people leading the critical organizations within the government.”
Individual Freedom Encroachment: “The purpose of the American government is to provide safety and stability for the people. However, individual freedoms have deteriorated at an alarming rate due to centralization of power and false claims in the name of safety.”
Immigration Policy Failure: “Failure to implement sustainable legal immigration policies. America was built upon immigration. America needs immigration to evolve within the global system. However, the current government is unable or unwilling to lay out a clear path forward without risk to the American people.”
This post began with the heading “#86” and ended with, “Edited by no one. Informed by only me… and books… and Bud Light. Forgive the poor writing. #authenticamericans.”
The next day, Sept. 26, Scheller posted what he called a “clarification” response to the “strong reaction” he has received to his comments “against President Trump.” It was addressed “To the people who stand with me,” in which he said:
“No, President Trump didn’t divide the country. But President Trump, in my humble opinion, is incapable of bringing us back together. Did he expose the corruption in the DOJ, media, and other places… yes. Was he the right person to expose the corruption at that time… maybe. Is he honest, accountable, and full of integrity… no. Would I want to work for a leader like that… no. I want a leader that will bring US together. Someone who has the courage to defend our country when called. My sons deserve that type of leader running the country in the future. That type of person is the only leader who I want in my corner. I respect all opinions. I’m not asking you to agree with me, but to at least consider my perspective. Much love.”
In the first article of this series, we discussed the presence of the chessboard in Scheller’s Aug. 29 video that had pieces arranged in a prominent position called the “Trompowsky Attack.” In his video, we noted that his inclusion of commonly understood chess notation in social media posts confirms that the chess game is a prop, not just decoration. We showed that chess has a rich history of at least a thousand years representing military strategy and is used as a wargaming and training tool.
Part two examined the statistics of the Trompowsky position in masters’ chess games and analyzed the subsequent moves that Scheller has provided in signatures to his posts. Though not all moves of the game had been provided, we played out the limited set of possibilities based on the information that we had.
Part three came after Scheller provided another move that brought about an even greater field of unknown potential permutations. Accurate deduction of the correct resulting board position was unlikely from what was given; too many moves were unknown.
But now we have a new picture of a chessboard provided by Lt. Col. Scheller. Let’s see what the latest information gives us to consider. Before we look at the chess moves themselves, let’s take a look at the other conspicuously placed clues:
- The board appears to be a 3D computer rendering from a game or animation program. Did Scheller take a screenshot of a game he was/is playing on a computer? The perspective of the chessboard looks that way, and it is as though the white pieces are being played. Recall that Scheller sat in front of white in his chess video.
- The opposing king is colored green, unlike the rest of the black pieces. It is not haphazardly photoshopped green; it appears to be rendered with a low-reflection, matte green surface material in keeping with the rest of the picture. For whatever symbolic speculation is worth, a green king in a military chess riddle would, all else equal, be something to look at. However, suppose the rendering is from a video game. In that case, it may be automatically colored differently by the software to indicate that the king was the last piece to move (indeed it was, as shown below.) On the other hand, it could conceivably be an option in the settings. Lt. Col. Scheller may be using a program that allows him to choose what color the last piece moved will be painted. Scheller’s actions have made it not unreasonable to imagine him choosing Army green in such a scenario.
- There are numbers on the side of the board, “17:75” and “20:21.” Two sets of two numbers with a colon between them would be pretty standard on a chessboard to keep time, and these are so placed. The number closest to the white’s side is red with an arrow. Any chess player would recognize this to indicate that it is the white’s turn to play (which matches the board.) However, one of those numbers is 75, and we wouldn’t expect to see any number larger than 59 in a time control. Since one of the numbers is 2021, and because Lt. Col. Scheller has spoken of revolution and the founding fathers, the obvious speculation is to observe that 1775 is the year that the First Continental Congress was held followed the next year with the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- If the numbers are read as a chess clock, Scheller has more time left to play his moves. If he were playing a computer opponent, that would be unlikely.
Now let’s take a look at the board:
Black’s missing choices are clear. We now know the moves that resulted in the current arrangement:
A few things to observe:
- There have been no masters’ games that reached this position during recorded International Chess Federation (FIDE) play.
- The chess engine Stockfish 14 gives white a ~55% chance of winning from this position.
- lichess.org is a popular free open-source website with analysis tools and the ability to play chess with others over the Internet. Many top professionals and thousands of all skill levels from all over the world play on the site at any given time. All games played at lichess.org are searchable and used for historical analysis. Five have been played to this position in that database, and white won 3 of those games.
- If the first few moves of the game had gone a bit differently, with black choosing to match Queen’s Pawn rather than the Indian defense, this exact position could have been achieved starting with ‘D03 Queen’s Pawn Game: Torre Attack’ rather than ‘A45 Trompowsky Attack.’
What would the next move be? We can use the computer chess engine to speculate:
- O-O, Nc3, Bb5, h3, and a3 are the next moves played for white by humans on lichess. These are listed in the approximate order that they are preferred by the Stockfish 14 chess analysis engine. The computer considers O-O, Nc3, and Bb5 to be almost equally good moves, while h3 and a3 are almost equally bad ones.
- Bb3, Qc2, Qd2, and Qe2 are reasonable options that maintain some advantage for white.
- Matching black’s castle is natural.
Scheller continues the conspicuous inclusion of riddling material both on and off the board. We just don’t know why. It could be a riddle, or a code, or a message; it could be to satisfy a delusion, it could be entertainment, it could be for marketing or for attention. It could be authentic, it could be nefarious, or he may have lost his social media passwords. Perhaps there are too many possibilities to come to a rational and accurate conclusion with the available information, leaving no more reason to examine this board position than any other.