Saturday, December 29, 2007

David Bronstein

The December Chess Life has a really cool, previously unpublished, interview with David Bronstein in it. His Modern Chess Self-Tutor was the second chess book I bought as a teenager (the first was Burgess' Mammoth Book of Chess) and only after reading the interview did I realize he is very likely the source of my love for the game.

The way he talks about chess in the self-tutor is magical- its a war, a fairy tale, a battle of wills and intellect and imagination. I didn't realize, until I dug out the self-tutor a few days ago, that he influenced how I taught my daughter the game this past summer.

I described chess as a battlefield of soldiers and knights, of castles and archers, all marching and engaging at your, the king's, command. I told her she was responsible for the command to sacrifice pawns and pieces when its time to rip the other king out of his home, to smash that home down and leave it in ruins, or infiltrate it like an assassin and leave the queen weeping.

When I first started using the Polgar 5334 book for tactics, I was bemused by my own bemusement and wonder at the cleverness and beauty in some of the Mate in Ones. How can something found by process of elimination be beautiful, carry ingenuity and elegance within it? Now putting it to electrons, I Googled and found:

The scientist does not study nature because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it, and he delights in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful, it would not be worth knowing, and if nature were not worth knowing, life would not be worth living.
Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) French mathematician.

And there it is- if chess weren't beautiful, it wouldn't be worth it.

Between the self-tutor and the interview, which was done in 1992 and held back for political and personal reasons, I have a hard time telling how he felt about the "science" of chess. In the interview he laments the explosion of technique and book knowledge extending into the middle game stifling creativity, but in the self-tutor he describes a systematic approach to marshal you army and unseat the opposing king.

Part of the confusion may be that the self-tutor was translated from Russian, even though he was fluent in English. There may have been translation missteps that don't convey what he truly meant, and he does celebrate creativity and inventiveness in his book; its just couched in method and formula.

Either way- his love was infectious and I'm now a carrier (hopefully contagious myself!). Thanks, Dave!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

8 Random Facts

1. Post these rules before you give your facts.
2. List 8 random facts about yourself.
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
4. Leave a comment on their blog to let them know they’ve been tagged.

Like Edwin Meyer, I'll be letting the honor system tag the 8 people that I estimate might read this post :P

I've actually had a hard time deciding what to list. Random isn't conscious, and any 8 things I choose would be consciously chosen, so I'll do my best to do it off the cuff:

1. I like prime numbers and patterns. I think my grandmother said Asperger's Syndrome or something runs in our family. She and I have trouble not 'bouncing' our mind between the dashes on the road, guardrail posts, lightposts or anything regularly spaced. You know it if you have it, I guess.
2. I have to wear undershirts, even under casual t-shirts.
3. I was a Klingon in Shakespeare's Hamlet (for a Theatre Arts project). One person's line at the final bloodbath was "Dammit, Jim! I'm an actor, not a doctor!"
4. Pearl Jam is the greatest rock band ever. I've seen them in concert once and hope to see them many more times.
5. I like raw broccoli but refuse to eat it cooked.
6. I spent part of my childhood believing the spirit of an uncle I'd never met had possessed one of my hamsters.
7. I like ice water.
8. I have what I think is called an occipital ridge on the back of my skull. I think it's because I cracked my skull open when I was a kid (If there's one thing I've learned, its not to stand on a rocking chair that is situated in front of a brick fireplace and rock it back and forth really hard) and all the world will see it as soon as the forehead recession meets the crop circle out back.

Whew! And I didn't even talk about that time I was house sitting for my sister-in-law and went through her...uh...never mind...

A Rockin' Xmas and a Horrible Nightmare

I got everything I wanted, chess-wise, for xmas!

-I got Chernev's Logical Chess, and the first two games got me fired up. Like chessloser, I love kingside violence.

-A review will go up at Chess Central later today for the bag, set and board combo I got.

-I also received my first clock. Until I can set it correctly and have used it, I won't be able to review it :P

My daughter really likes playing with a clock, so I'm hoping she and I get a lot of games in. She wants to play in the Maryland State Girls Championship and will probably play at least one warm-up before that.

My wife also thinks we'll be able to swing my entry in the Baltimore Open. Two days and five rounds of G120 will blow my mind. I'll have the chance to play out the endgames I'm getting in G30, and hopefully get to them in better shape!

Now the nightmare...

I was dreaming that I was playing in the Baltimore Open and my first opponent was at least a Master. He was trying to convince me to start off in some kind of symmetrical opening with the king bishops King's Bishop 3...very bizarre. After spending a few mintutes looking at the setup, I declined.

He got pissy and responded to 1.e4 with e6 and I got mated in like 5 moves! I woke up sweating, thinking, "Oh my god...I'm gonna be a lamb at slaughter there!"

And then it hit me...GPA! If I'm gonna go down, its gonna be like a Quentin Tarantino movie, dammit! Loads of action and plot twists :)

And lastly, here's a cool, IMHO, tip for handling vinyl boards in bags:

After sitting down and putting my initials on the bottom of all the pieces, contact info inside the bag and on the clock and putting my name on the bottom of my board (my wife thought I was cute doing so, like a kid getting his school gear ready at the end of the summer :D), I noticed that the velcro straps were 'biting' into the board and adding two unsightly creases down the board. A little ripple from rolling up ain't so bad, but these made it look like I kept the board crammed in my pocket.

And what do people probably have laying around in tatters right now? Empty and nearly empty rolls of wrapping paper! I grabbed a naked tube, measured it against the bag and cut it just a tad short, rolled the board, slid the board inside the tube, strapped it in and bam! No creasing action, and a sturdier package!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Holiday busy-ness

I've been stalled out for a couple weeks. I haven't made time for PCT or playing since all the stuff that needs doing at home (why did I let my wife convince me to repaint the bathroom in December, again?) and work (low income energy assistance, where every call is a crisis and there aren't enough dollars in the budget to solve them all!) has been kicking my butt.

I'd been planning on posting about the IECG, but right after they confirmed my membership, their site registration expired and it took a couple weeks to get back online. Tonight, the pairings for my first event, a 7-player class tourney, came in. 6-0 would be a nice start :P

I do have this game I'd like feedback on:

It was G30, my opponent about 120 points higher than me, I lost on time. I think exchanging the Queens when offered at 24. ... Qe6 would have kept a draw, but I didn't want to undouble his pawns; I felt they were my main advantage to me without the Queens on the board.

I let Crafty look at the game right away but it gave no imporvements, which surprised me, so I let it go again for a awhile longer. Still nothing, so I guess I missed no tactical chances.

I'm really stumped where I could have done better, other than 1) something other than the Exchange Variation or 2) maybe my Ne5 was premature.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Maryland student wins his section in Houston

From Baltimore Chess:
Shin Uesugi came in first in the 10th grade section of the K-12 grade Championships held in Dallas, TX on December 7-9, 2007. This is the second year in a row that Shin has won his section at the K-12 Grade Championships! Shin, the 2005 Sweet 16 winner, was on first board for the entire tournament and finished with a score of 6 out of 7. His two draws were to the 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

Kid seems to be a prospect! The Sweet 16 is a Maryland Scholastic Championship, so that's 3 straight years of state and national championships.

One of my daughter's opponents from her first tournament also went to Houston. Hopefully they'll cross paths again. My girl seemed to like her.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Image to e4 (Working Title for the Weekly Image)

We're Playing Chess by ComeWatchMyArt

"You can go anytime during the day to Lindenhof (it's a little bit on top of Zurich, so you have a beautiful view over Zurich) and you'll see some old men, who are playing chess."

I think I've got the position worked out after the jump.

My guess is that it is White to move, given the way the guy is standing on c1.

Be sure to check out ComeWatchMyArt's gallery of landscapes. Some fantastic images there, especially Snowscape.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A man of my word

When a man asks an egg to post seducteggly on a bed of green pepper, onion, ham and cheese and take a picture of eggself in eggschange for linkeggs in the man's sidebar, and the egg does it, the man must link the egg's blog.

Oh, yeah. There's more today!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


Friday, December 7, 2007

Early Xmas Gift

Thought my daughter had gotten something from the USCF in the mail yesterday, so I tore the envelope open. It was the membership my wife had purchased for me. Oops :P

Awesomely, they were able to renew the membership I had that expired in 2003. When I emailed her my Xmas list a week or so ago, I hadn't been able to find my USCF ID# on the website. I never played in any events, so I figured it was lost forever.

There is no more to read here now. I haven't had time to decide how to handle the Read More link. Apparently, based on Firefox showing what is being loaded each time I hit the blog, even though I'm hiding stuff it still has to load (like diagrams at Chessup and the PGN reader at Chess Publisher) so I'm not making the page load faster, just look cleaner. I guess that has its own advantages.

Now that there's enough to have used the Read More link, I guess that's how I'll waste my time today, rather than fiddle with borders for images I post.

There's still nothing to read after the jump :P

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

This feature needs a title

Chess Globe v3

I chose this image by evilhomer145 as my first weekly image. Prints are available for purchase through deviantART.

I don't know if the images I choose will be limited to "art" or if they'll include other things I find like interesting player photos and stuff. Any suggestions on naming this feature is appreciated :)

And it only took like 15 edits of this post to get the thumbnail and links formatted correctly and displayed to my satisfaction :P

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Any advice on improvement would be appreciated

Did some PCT last night and fired up a G30 on FICS. Crafty has illuminated the error of my 34th move. Really obvious that I missed it in hindsight. I wouldn't have figured the whole line, I don't think, but that one move should have stood out to me.

I'm not sure where I could have done better in the middlegame. Crafty saw no tactical chances missed.

Crafty at move 34: 34. ... Kc4 35. a3 Kb3 36. Kd3 Kxa3 37. Kc3 Ka4 38. d5 a5 39. bxa5 Kxa5

I never feared for my King, really. My pieces had a good hold on the center and I was comfortable pushing his dark Bishop when I did. I feel like I might have missed something with either my dark Bishop finding a check on f2 and/or the knight that eventually took his Bishop on g3 finding a fork.