Saturday, December 25, 2010

Xmas presents

I got Chess for Zebras and the 4th edition How to Reassess Your Chess.

With the holidays winding down, I hope to get back on the study wagon. Team League starting up again will help- having a purpose to study makes a big difference. Just an intangible "to get better" doesn't work for me. I need a constant prod, an accounting to others.

Hope everyone has had a great holiday :)

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I jested to my teammates before my first TL game that Drive It Like You Stole It by The Glitch Mob was my fighter entrance theme.

I had their album Drink the Sea pumping for my entire second TL game.

Studying The Amateur's Mind this morning with Drink the Sea on headphones, I feel like Optimus Prime, Silver Surfer, Cosmic Spiderman...

I am unstoppable.

The groove on these tracks is amazing. I could hit the gym right now (something I'm a little overdue on) and go forever on cardio and weights!

What an amazing effect music has on the mood and mental state. If I wasn't studying, I'd probably go to Wikipedia for the next couple hours reading on research into how the brain reacts to music.

How much of the effect is due to cultural influences? Are there elements in Drink the Sea such that someone who'd never listened to electronic/dance/glitch would get the same mojo?

You can check the album out at Grooveshark. The Drive It track is duped because of the way they sort and show music (inefficiently, despite providing and otherwise pretty solid free music streaming site).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Birthday presents

33 this past Sunday!

I got The Amateur's Mind and Lev Alburt's Comprehensive Chess Course Vol 2 (Beginner to Tournament Player) from the wife and child :)

Alburt's will be nice to go through with my daughter, and there are some nifty (pretty basic) square visualization exercises I like so far.

Amateur's mind already keyed me in to something I'd felt was a weakness- identifying plans in quiet positions without threats. Looks to be a fun read.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

2010 Mid-Atlantic Girls Championship

My daughter took 8th place in the Novice/U400 section today!

78 girls showed up and she went 4-1, losing only to the eventual champ in the 4th round (who told her she was the best she'd faced to the point :P)

We had an awesome time. She won her first tournament game, which was all I had been hoping for.

Here is her first tourney win:

Monday, November 15, 2010


I've been following the implementation of the TSA's new, aggressive pat down procedures for the last several days. A sampling for those that haven't:

Fines threatened for refusing to submit to assault and leaving the airport as directed

3-year old gets assaulted by the TSA

A mother with infant gets sexually assaulted

Soldiers at war prohibited from doing to potential enemies what we do to our citizens

I have some calls to make to Congress tomorrow.

The absurdity has to stop.

Image to e4: Surreal and thought provoking

Chess by ~F31dak1n on deviantART

While looking for an image for my woefully irregular Image to e4, this caught my eye.

In the moment I saw it and cocked my head, my daughter (looking over my shoulder) said, "I get it! They're like pieces!"

So something like this:

What do you think?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Second Team Leaue Game

A bit of a swindle, this one:

Never got around to adding more to that last one, so we'll just burn a little midnight oil to add some thoughts:

5. d5

Feel like this was the novice in me- Ooh! My pawn can attack a piece! Probably a little ahead of myself here. The subsequent exchange of light-squared bishops made me miss mine later in the game.

7. ... f5

Yikes! I thought I was playing myself for a minute- this was aggressive and a thorn in my side (as my in-game whispers reflect)

10. O-O

kosu mentions later that he thinks I should have gone O-O-O, and I considered it. Just felt too loose over there.

14. Be3

I need to look at g4. Not sure that was actually stronger or just better in the moment. When I later recapture with the f-pawn, I was looking for the open file, but think the Queen might have been more stable long term.

17. cxd6

I considered c6, but not hard enough. Need to come back and look at why.

On moving my Queen to the kingside, it was to get my e-pawn up and I was planning on sliding my Queen back to the queenside along e1. I ended up spending a fair amount of time looking for back-rank tactics through the next stretch. kosu was rightly concerned because there were some spots where I think a knight sac would get me in.

Once my knight stole the bishop, I figured two ways to draw, or maybe eek out a win. One was to trade my knight for the b-pawn while not also committing my King. Two was to get my king to the b-pawn and use the knight to trade for the k-side pawns.

Both ended up happening.

Both the king and the knight would need 4 moves to capture on the queening square. Once I had counted that, I was confident I had a draw. On 51. g4, the black king needs 5 moves to get my knight, assuming I don't move it. Like someone observed in game, the knight just pops out to f5 and the king is stymied.

At the end, I was very aware of stalemate possibilities (Hi Pat!) and was very careful, in spite of the appearance of playing quickly here (I think that is where the comment about playing too fast occurred).

A wild game. kosu was very gracious aftewards and we had a great chat. I look forward to crossing swords with him again.

Also- thanks to those who complimented Chess Adventures :) It's been slow around here lately, and the kind words should be helpful in sparking some posting!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Been blitzing

Since my Team League game I haven't gotten any long games in, just a hadnful of 5/0s.

I need to start playing with some kind of increment because I get to some good spots with chances, but can't see fast enough where to go.

I've never won a game of blitz on FICS (that I can recall) and my rating is crazy low at like 722P. Half the games that start have people abort thinking I'm a pushover. My last opponent was kind enough to say I'm clearly much stronger than my rating.

This weekend I'll be warming up my daughter for her second tournament (first in 2 years). It's a 5 round swiss, G/30. I think we'll do 5 games of G/30, starting every hour like at the event, so she can sort of feel how the day will go and I can see at what point her attention will waver and get some ideas on how to help her re-focus.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

First Team League Game


Here's the Watchbot version commentary by myself at points. Once run through Crafty and more review by me, I'll update this post.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Babas / FICS tips

So I've learned a couple new things that might be of interest to people new and old to Babas. There are so many options that don't do anything at first, that it can take a fair bit of experimenting.

None of these are earth shattering, but simply useful and convenience oriented.


I like to keep FICS up at work and home for long periods of time observing Team League games. At work, I often have to go into busy mode, so I may get logged out after 60 minutes. Babas can cheat this by going into File -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Scripts and then choosing Configure Timer Commands.

You can have 3 different timers; perhaps one to go AFK (like the default example), one to advertise something (like looking to start a Team League team) and a third to keep you logged in.

Check the "Enabled" box, set the interval to the time between running your command and enter the command in the box.

I have "date" set to run every 45 minutes. I like date because I always get confused about the time difference between local and server (I know it's Pacific, but I never remember when I'm looking at a schedule of events).

Clean Console:

I prefer to have my console show none of the crap that it default displays.

I uncheck the following items in Preferences/Console and Chat/Chat Windows:
1. Show Private Tells in console
2. Show Channel Tells also in main console
3. Show Shouts also in main console
4. Show superfluous server responses

Tabbed view:

I don't like having 18 windows overlapping and popping around my screen. Click Window -> Tabbed Documents. Boom.

Channels tab has tabs for each channel (like it normally does). Info Window has its stuff. The console and private chats get tabs. Boards get their own tab.

The one disadvantage is if you like to have multiple boards up at once or a board and private chat. Tabs gives you one thing at a time. If you like it, you will probably want to uncheck the following in Preferences/Console and Chat/Chat Windows:

1. Automatic Tab Switch (this one is in both sets of options)
2. Show chat window when new tell received
3. Show channel window when new shout received

Those 3 options will make sure whatever you are looking at doesn't flip away when those events occur.

For some people, Tabs will be a lifesaver and for others a hated inconvenience.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Anyone know why he wiped his site? I know he'd lost some content trying to clear out some spam a month or so ago...just moving or gone?

hardcore pawnography was (is?) one of my favorite chess blogs.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Life is always busy, huh?

I've had some time for a few games on FICS over the last month (been aiming for longer games, although none have gone the distance), but haven't put down enough time for study.

Hoping to get a shot in the next couple weeks for ArchBishops_Artists U1600 team. Our captain had been eyeing a match against a team that had only 4 people and the 4th board was more closer to my rating than other likely mathcups, but I believe they added at leat one member just prior to the add/drop deadline.

I also got sucked into Civ 5 pretty hard the last couple weeks. My wife is so hooked on the game and has been staying up so late she had to go into work late one morning :P She didn't grow up playing things like Wing Commander, Pirates and Silent Service for 24 hour marathons and lacks the ability to will oneself through the next day like I can :D

After a frustrating day in the ER with her (she had severe stomach pains, no certain cause identified so she is making an appointment with her primary doc for tomorrow) I hope to get some chess in tonight.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Several updates for the Book

EDIT: Finally figured out what was wrong with the PGN viewer, so now the games are visible.

In this first one, I drop a pawn (recurring theme) early by not counting out.

However, I counter-attack a little later when things are bleak and my opponent seemed to overestimate my chances and I cracked his position open. A dropped Bishop quickly becomes game.

The turning point is 15. ... Nxh5 when my pieces are allowed to sieze initiative and everything aiming at my cornered king becomes a target.

This next one I drop a pawn in the opening, but at least I saw the traps and pins I would have been subject to if I had tried to get it back. I should have played 7. O-O-O, but instead 7. Bd3 d5 and my Queen could get pinned by the Rook, or 8. ... d4 wins a piece.

I scrapped, but my opponent made no mistakes and gave no ground.

I'm not sure this next one counts as "dropping" a pawn...I end up with a complete lead in development (my Queen and no other pieces moved by either side except O-O :P).

22. ... a4 dooms a Knight to no escape, and then it is essentially clean up time as I scrape pawns off the board.

However...I missed a forced mate at 34. Kf5 and should have won a lot faster.

(34. ... Bc8+ 35. Re6 Kf7 36. g4 Bxe6#)

Monday, September 13, 2010

u1600 Team: ArchBishops_Artists

I was successfully recruited by the ArchBishops_Artists u1600 team.

Negotiations were tense with me waiting for a spot to open up and saying "Sure!" when asked if I would be interested.

I'm on a reserve board, which suits me fine, as this will be my first run with the league.

If there's interest, I'd still like to get a u1400 team together, so we'll see what we get there.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lost in the woods

Chess, Renaissance Festival by ~HeartbreakerStudios on deviantART

There's a little whimsy in there- playing against a plant today? Mostly a lot of sadness, though...fenced off, abandoned, tilting over.

Also resembles what it feels like whenever you look back over your shoulder after giving up the game for a while. Seems a lost cause, but...

Sweep away the leaves, clear off the chair and it's almost good as new.

Also, I wasn't digging the two mini columns- felt really cluttered.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Trying to make a 1400 team for FICS Team League

In joining the FICS Team League, there are a couple teams that might be able to use me as a reserve in the 1600 section, and not many spots open at 1400.

I've messaged some other folks on the interested list to try and get a 1400 team together. We'll see how it goes!

I should probably read up to see if messages on FICS can be sent to multiple people, rather than copy-pasting as I did to each person...if so that would have made sharing info easier.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yes- that's what they are.

chess by ~b3njamin on deviantART

Clever chess set. I feel like I've seen this picture elsewhere, recently.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Starting a book...of my mistakes

Taking Dan Heisman's advice in Novice Nook 81 (item #12), I am starting a 'book' of positions where I erred. They will likely be flat out material losses in many cases. Until I improve, what else would they be- poor attack of an isolated pawn? Nope (see item #14).

The article was also a good bump for reinforcing why I need to do all the mate in ones in PCT...not so much for me to see them, but rather to see them in replies my opponent may have.

So- mistake number one.

Up a Queen for a Knight, I played 20. ... Rxc2. I still won, but it was a lot harder than it needed to be.

Should have played ... Rxe5, with threats of mates or getting another exchange.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Image to e4 returns!

chess by ~xxlivingindreamsxx on deviantART

I think dA has changed the way they provide sharing links...that or I forgot how I used to set them up.

This is a really cool pic, and livingdreams has many other cool pics in their gallery.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Having fun

My daughter and I have read through a couple more games in Logical Chess and also played a few games the last few days. She has been having a good time, which is the main thing.

She was having trouble seeing knight moves, so I looked up some exercises for her to practice with. One puts a knight and king at opposite corners of the board, with pawns scattered about (a chess maze, essentially); the goal is to check the king without getting captured moving only the knight. She did it for a while and told me it was getting too easy, so I told her to start replacing a pawn or two with Rooks or Bishops, and she kept at it. Over 3 days she made significant gains and is able to point out knight moves a lot quicker.

Tonight I had her playing KNB vs K. I showed her how the mate would look with the king trapped in the corner, scattered the pieces and let her at it. I told her to make sure the Black king fought hard back and didn't voluntarily go to the "bishop's corner". About 30-45 minutes later she worked it out!

In our game last night, she actually had a pretty good attack, but let the initiative slip away and I won the game. I hope to review the game with her and see if we can't find spots she could have improved.

She's also really excited her middle school will have a chess club.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fresh eyes, clear mind

My daughter surprised yesterday morning as I was heading out for work- I asked what she had going on besides her chore list for the day and one of the things she mentioned was "practicing her chess"!

I was tickled and told her to either do Logical Chess game 1 again or do game 2 and make notes with any questions she had.

She ended up not looking at it, but I'm still tickled that she has some independent interest in chess right now.

Last night was the family 'No TV' night, which includes no computers or videogames. My daughter fell asleep at about 6:30 pm and my wife was working late, and after two games of Logical Chess Move-by-Move (LCMBM), I cracked and got on PCT. I only played a single ~10 minute module, but it was really cool to feel some of the old memory muscles waking up.

I had a realization while playing through the LCMBM games that in the past I wasn't really seeking to understand the material. Chernev will describe the negatives of some moves and attention is paid to the exploiting of them and capitalizing on opponent's errors, but I found myself several times looking at what moves would have avoided the trouble.

He described Black's 7th (iirc) move in one game as one a beginner would make quickly. Because it is so early in the game, and it wasn't an outright blunder, I know there might not be a clear "best" continuation, but I spent some time looking at possible moves, looking for tactics they walked into and settled on 3 possibilities.

Tonight I will un-shelve the NCO and see if the lines are covered. If not I'll probably pop it in Crafty to see if there is anything forcing I missed and if not go to Chess Forums to see what others can point out.

After LCMBM and a dab of PCT, I read Silman's criticism of de la Maza's 400/400 method, updated my future book list (there's a Morphy book that I was interested in before, Chernev's Most Instructive Games, and then Silman's Reassess Your Chess and The Amateur's Mind), and got info on a couple big tournaments coming up in Maryland January and February.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Change is good

Fiddled with the new layout tools at Blogger. I like the way it looks, but I'll have to brush up on my html to figure out where to stick a center tag for the banner.

I finally got my daughter to play through the first game of Chernev's Logical Chess Move by Move. I read and she moved pieces. She was surprising vocal, and saw that 7. d5 was better than the text 7. a4. (Until I get a PGN viewer back in action, just nod and roll with it).

I couldn't immediately refute the move, so we made a note and stuck it in Crafty once we finished with the game. It lead to a much more complicated position, which is likely why Chernev didn't delve into it- the point was to show how to take advantage of mistakes.

She had a good time and said if I continued to work with her reading from the book and playing timed games, she'd give another tournament a go. She, too, hasn't really played much chess in the last two years. Part of her attraction is doing what I do, and before suggesting we play through the game, I deliberately did some things she wanted to do.

We've tentatively decided to look at 3-4 games from the book per week. It took about an hour, but that included me reading from the introduction. Her attention definitely wavered towards the end, but that'll improve as we practice. She liked the chessKids site I showed her earlier in the evening, so she might take off on her own a little!

Cleaning up, taking stock, looking forward

Donnie was right- a number or folks around the last time I was active have faded out.

I removed blog links with no posts in 2010 from the 'roll. I'll be looking to clear any other essentially inactive links from there and other widgets shortly, and will then move forward adding new sites.

Chessimo customer support rocked it over the weekend and let me use my old PCT code- I had installed PCT on a computer that crashed, and couldn't get it to work on the Vista machine that replaced it. Now, with a Windows 7 laptop at home, I can use the software no problem, and they were hassle free in making it happen.

Found my old improvement thread at Blew me away...I have totally forgotten more about my training in the past two years than I recall!

I've learned a lot about real-world time-management the last two years. I have a better grasp of my limitations, and also my strengths. Once I have a routine planned, I know I need to work it for 21 days solid to make it a habit. Recording/sharing my progress will help make me accountable for it, so I'll have to incorporate blogging time to do so, as well as blog maintenance/reading time.

I'll get the weekly art feature back up and running shortly, as well. I really liked that.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chess Bug

Vanished off the face of the earth due to personal/work issues.

Got 30-day lay-off notice. Wife caught pneumonia. Missed two weeks of work. Told after returning to work and declining family offers to help take care of wife that all the time I had missed would be unpaid due to an HR error and that I should have been monitoring the accumulations myself.

Lucked into a new job starting a couple days after the old one ended.

Touched my chess set maybe 4 times in the last two years. Stumbled onto a chess game sign-up at a forum I hang out at. Downloaded Babas.

My apologies to everyone whom I had games with that I bailed on. I'd gladly play one with you in the near future :)

I'm just going to bounce along and try to enjoy myself.