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Friday, June 29, 2018

Revisiting Claude Bloodgood

     I recently read an interesting Murderpedia article on Claude Bloodgood. He has been described as both a nasty, scary guy, and also as gentle, even generous to others, depending on when you knew him. 
     In 1969, Bloodgood brutally killed his mother. He surprised her on the porch of her one-story home in the East Ocean View area of Nrofolk, Virginia, jumped her, beat her head in with a blunt object (some reports say he used a hammer, others say it was a screwdriver) then strangled her with his hands. Then, just to make sure she was dead, he then smothered her with a pillow. He then rolled her body inside a porch rug, drove 70 miles to New Kent County, and gently laid her corpse along a wooded road near West Point, Virginia, thoughtfully placing a pillow under her head. 
     At his trial in 1970, he spit in his lawyer's face in jail, threatened witnesses, lawyers and the judge. Of course he was convicted and sentenced to death, but his sentence was later reduced to life in prison. You can read the particulars on his death sentence appeal HERE and his denial of parole and minimum security status HERE and HERE
     When Bloodgood escaped prison in 1974 some of those he had threatened were scared. So scared that police offered round-the-clock protection to everyone he had threatened. 
     The former prosecutor who helped put Bloodgood away, Franklin A. Swartz, said, "He was an evil man...He forged his mother and father's checks. He stole. He was brutal to them. He abused them." 
     While in prison guards occasionally let him out to organize and play in tournaments. The one day in 1974 Bloodgood was being escorted by a prison guard to a tournament.  When they stopped by the guard's home, Bloodgood and another inmate who was also a convicted murderer overpowered the guard, cuffed him to a bed, stole his guns and fled to New York with their girlfriend. They were captured several weeks later. The resulting scandal brought down the state's prison bureaucracy. 
Powhatan Correctional Center

     Bloodgood was a pathological liar. He was born Klaus Frizzel Bluttgutt III on July 14, 1937, but claimed he was born in 1924 in order to make his story about being a Nazi spy during World War II believable. 
     He claimed to have played over 100 postal games with celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, Gary Cooper, Marlene Dietrich, Albert Einstein, Clark Gable, Edward R. Murrow, and John Wayne. All fake, of course.
     Bloodgood was famous for pumping up his rating while in prison to the point that he was rated number two, at Elo 2700, in the US behind Gata Kamsky. It wasn't a case of fraud though. 
     At the time, players were complaining of rating deflation...everybody's rating was drifting downward. It was because there was such an influx of rapidly improving young players. The rating system was like a poker game where a player sits down at the table with no money and wins from those already in the game. In order to “fix” the problem, officials (who were not mathematicians) introduced bonus points, feedback points and fiddle points. You were awarded points just for entering a tournament and in some cases could even gain points with a minus score. Bloodgood warned the USCF what was happening and pumped up his rating by playing against fellow prisoners. The USCF hurled charges of rating fraud, erased his rating, kicked him out of the USCF and changed the system. In the process the chess program at the prison got destroyed.
     I also discovered an article published on page 36 in the August/September 1981 issue of Moves, the Magazine for War Games that bears Bloodgood's name.
     Bloodgood died in Powhatan Correctional Center of lung cancer on August 4, 2001. Attached is one of Bloodgood's legitimate OTB games from 1957. His real rating was probably 1900 to the low 2000's.    Murderpedia article
 

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