Monday, January 31, 2005

Optical Chess Illusions


Monetizing La Maza

Well not exactly, but this newly launched on-line service gives you the opportunity to pay a lot of money for pre-packaged tactical lessons and its focus on improving "sight of the board" is downright La Mazian. The Knights will surely confirm that effort and commitment are the currency of chess improvement, not dollars or pounds sterling. Of course, calling it a chess gym is just silly.

Read "First Ever Gym for Chess Players: A new international web site guarantees to build your muscles - chess muscles that is."

BCF-Donchenko after move 8

The club played 8.c3 and Oleg responded 8...Be7. It's our move again.

BCC-Donchenko after move 8

What's your vote for White's next move?

See also "BCF - Donchenko correspondence game".

The Mating Game


Sunday, January 30, 2005

Way to go!

Congratulations to JG who scored 3-1 and tied for third in the 'Age 8 & under and Under 600' section at today's Massachusetts Scholastic State Championship Qualifier No. 4 at Milton Academy.
JG at the BCC
Photo: JG warms up against some old guy prior to the February 2004 BCC Scholastic. (by Carl Hoffman)

Fractal Chess


Chess vandalism

[Peter Helzer's] most famous work in this region is perhaps the bronze Chess Player that until recently was seated at a granite table in Vogel Plaza. That work was damaged last fall when two men from Klamath Falls tried to steal it. "The men were arrested and convicted, but the Chess Player sustained about $3,000 worth of damage," said Bev Power, park and recreation department spokesperson. "Peter Helzer is repairing that for us and as soon as he is finished we will put it back in Vogel Plaza."
Read "Bronze Statues Of Girl Musicians Unveiled On Medford Sidewalk" from the Rogue River News.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

A different kind of chess puzzle

Read "Alice, Bob and the coins".

Catching Up #2 - Chess Improvement Blogs

So much material, so little time... Here are some scatter shot bullets for now:
  • The search for the Orange Knight is over. While Don has included him in a list of abandoned chess improvement efforts, I've simply removed him from the list of Knights Errant. Let's hope he's the only casualty of the group.

  • Speaking of abandoned efforts, Don included Tim Hanke's Becoming A Chess Master site. While Tim currently spends most of his chess-related time on politics, this rating report is evidence that we have seen him across the board at the BCC.

  • I did have a chance to join the Knights for a virtual roundtable at last Sunday. Live blogging the event didn't prove feasible (I don't know how one can simultaneously participate in and document an event in real time). In any case, it was good to have the chance to meet the guys in an interactive setting. Here are brief reports and comments on the meeting from Pawn Sensei and General Kaia.

  • I've included a new section in the sidebar for Non-Knights Errant Chess Improvement blogs. Neither is a La Mazian - in fact Rakshasas doesn't hesitate to express his disagreements with the Knights' icon - but both provide interesting, worthwhile content. Check out this GM/IM game from Wijk aan Zee annotated by Pawn In the Game and Rakshasas' theory of chess improvement.

  • A quick round up of recent Knights' posts: Don modified his program and kicked butt at his club tournament. Sancho just about hit the wall but ultimately decided to continue in modified form. Pale shared his top 5 learnings from reading the Knights' blogs (#4 is my favorite). Pawn took a few days off from chess and shared some reflections. The General seems to be taking a fairly academic approach to his training: evaluating his strengths and weaknesses and describing his desired thought process. Finally, J'adoube got so fed up with CT-Art that he wrote a string of posts documenting his concerns (here and here, too).
See also "Knights to some, de la Mazans to others".

Friday, January 28, 2005

Chocolate Chess Pie

From Family Recipes:
chocolate pie9 inch unbaked pie crust
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 Tbsp cocoa
1 stick butter, melted
2 eggs
1 small can pet milk
1 tsp vanilla
dash of salt
1 c. broken pecans

Pour melted butter into blender. Add all ingredients, except pecans, and blend well. Stir in pecans, or add just to top. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
What in the world is pet milk? I sure hope it doesn't come from cats or dogs!?

See also "Chess Pie".

Chess in Cuba

From Cuba XP:
2005 will be an intense year for Cuban chess players, whose first competition will be the National Women's Chess Championship.

According to experts, the tournament will be held this month in western Matanzas province, and will be attended by 12 female players.

One of the favorites to win the tournament is Grand Master (GM) Sulennis Piña, who is considered Cuba's best female chess player.

More Chess and Football

At Mr. Blonde's Garage, Jay gives his analysis of why the Patriots will win the Superbowl (a very astute guy, that Jay). However, in making a chess analogy I think he chooses the wrong world champion:
Football can indeed often be like a chess match, and Belichick is the Bobby Fischer of football coaches.
To my mind, Bill Belichick doesn't remind me of a raving anti-semitic lunatic who refused to defend his championship unless he was provided special rules and considerations. I think a better choice might be Botvinik with his scientific approach to the game (assuming you can overlook his participation in Soviet political machinations) or Steinitz who just understood more about the game than any of his contemporaries.

John Watson is a blogger!

No, not our John Watson.

I'm the sixth result at Google when you search for John Watson and the fourth when you search for "John Watson" (with quotes). The guys ahead of me are: the John Watson who invented the behaviorism branch of psychology and the John Watson who writes and reviews chess books.


I thought I might Google myself to see where DG the chessplayer ranks:
  • I'm not the Rabbi from Michigan or the comedian from Florida.

  • I'm not the Chairman of the Board of TelePacific (that would have been good!).

  • I'm not the real estate advisor from New York or the President of Amer Kefir Co., makers of a low-calorie product originally fermented from mare’s milk.

  • Ah, there I am on page 3 - DG the blogger.

  • I found my first chess reference on page 6 of the search results.

Why not Google yourself? Who aren't you?

A Grandmaster in your hand

I haven't seen this one reported on the major chess news sites: A chess program for the Palm handheld platform defeated GM Jan Gustafsson 3-1 in an online match held January 22-24. Click here for the details and to replay the games. (Hat Tip: mypalmlife)

Mating with Knight and Bishop

The one we all dread, especially if time is an issue. For some reason I have found it difficult to internalize most explanations of the correct technique that I have read over the years. However, this article on "building a cage" seems pretty clear.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Winning on time

SIMONE AVRATINER is not a morning person.

It had been years - truly - since the fourth-grader had regularly made it to Louis H. Farrell Elementary School before the bell, so fiercely did she resist getting up and out the door.

Her mom, Faina, and her teachers tried everything... But their discussions, bribes, threats and pleas did nothing to reform the child's chronic school tardiness.

Finally, her mom and Farrell principal Marie McCarthy pulled a smart move: If Simone didn't get to school on time, no more chess club for her.


"I didn't think it would work," says Faina Avratiner, "because nothing else had."

But the next day, Simone was at her desk when the bell rang. And for the next 25 days, she wasn't late once - the longest on-time streak she'd ever had.
Read "Chess has unexpected benefits" from the Philadelphia Daily News.

Chess word play

At A Patzer's Tale, Daniel discusses how nomenclature affects chess thinking:

In chess we name all of the major tactics and even the not-so-major tactics because it helps us think about ideas more clearly.... When I learned about 'double-check' I had already conceptualized the idea but had not used [it] with regularity until then..... On the flip side, semantics can hinder development too. I dreaded the bad bishop for a while, until I read ... a quote from Suba, "Bad Bishops protect good pawns." Then I became enthralled with the bad bishop to [the] point a human can be enthralled with bad bishops.

Here are a few additional alternatives to common chess concepts which might expand our thinking:

  • Doubled pawns = Dual outposts
  • Isolated Queen Pawn (IQP) = IQP kingside mating attack formation
  • g4 vs. the Semi-Slav = Kasparov's Junior killer
  • King stuck in the center = King poised for the endgame
Can you add any of your own?

Chess and Intelligence

From Psychology Today, a piece entitled "Chess: Not All About Logic?":
Chess is not necessarily a game reserved for people with IQ scores on par with Einstein. In fact, chess strategy may rely more heavily on spatial processing than on logic and computational skills. Researchers at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of novice players during a match and found a flurry of activity in the parietal and occipital lobes, areas not associated with general intelligence.

"It's not what we were expecting," says Sheng He, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology.
Ugly Chart sums up the study nicely:
Researchers have discovered that bad chess players are not necessarily intelligent...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

It's National Chess Week in the UK

From the Community Newswire:
A national children's charity is today celebrating after popular comedian and panto star Joe Pasquale took time out from his busy schedule to help launch the second National Chess Week.

National Chess Week, hosted by leading children's charity Barnardo's, encourages youngsters to put down the game controller, switch off the TV and engage their brains.

Throughout the week, which runs until January 30, events will take place nationwide including a 24-hour chess marathon, speed chess and an exhibition by a chess grand master.


Chess and Football

At Stew's Bad Football Analysis, Stew is looking for feedback on the following supposition:
Football is what Chess would be like if the pieces were alive.
What do you think?

Don't drink and fish

Maverick Philosopher shares an opening trap in the Scotch:
I've caught a lot of fish with this gambit in blitz games -- which goes to show that a fish can catch fish...

Chess, Artificial Intelligence and Free Will?

Computational Complexity initiates an interesting conversation by asking, "Does a Chess Program have Free Will?" He begins by quoting David McAllester, an AI professor at TTI:
In actual chess playing programs the program "considers" individual moves and "works out" the consequences of each move. This is a rather high level description of the calculation that is done, but it is fair to say that the program "considers options" and "evaluates consequences". When I say, as a human being, that I have to choose between two options, and that I have not decided yet, this seems no different to me from the situation of a chess playing computer before it has finished its calculation. The computer's move is determined - it is a deterministic process - and yet it still has "options". To say "the computer could move pawn to king four" is true provided that we interpret "could do x" as "it is a legal option for the computer to do x".... A chess playing program shows that a determined system can have free will, i.e., can have options. So free will (having options) is compatible with determinism and there is no conflict.
Read the entire post, as well as, the equally interesting comments.

See also "Artificial Intelligence & Chess".

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Hungry for chess?

J-Walk Blog provides us with an edible form of chess:
Edible Chess by J-Walk Blog
I suspect that pawn promotion isn't feasible as captured pieces probably disappear quickly.

Napier on chess and life

"Of Chess it has been said that life is not long enough for it, but that is the fault of life, not Chess."

William Ewart Napier

Hat Tip: Imagine Carbon

Chess, soldiers and war

From Joygantic, another example of chess as political metaphor:

I grew up surrounded by folks in the military and have had friends who have served so I have deep admiration for the individuals who join the service even as I despise the way that they are too often turned into chess pieces for arrogant politicians.

Soldiers as chess pieces in the hands of "evil" politicians is actually a fairly common theme. Of course, this all depends on your perspective on the specific policy. For those opposed to the war, the soldiers are inanimate objects directed by others; for supporters, they are real people exhibiting human characteristics like heroism and sacrifice.

The Passion of the Chess

Chessnut provides a description of chess passion:
Chess, like writing, is passion, even for a not very good player like myself. Unlike writing, it is also an exercise in pure logic. Somewhere during the long stretch of time which makes up a slow chess game, one’s mind can sometimes find a way to reach a plateau of concentration and understanding that feels, frankly, selfishly wonderful. The getting there is exciting, and tempestuous as well, as it leaves one feeling either elated or completely crushed.
I think he is on to something with this 'plateau of concentration'. I find that I can never get quite as absorbed in a game I am watching or playing over as I can with one of my own tournament games. This also probably explains the intensity of feelings (both good and bad) which one experiences based on the outcome.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Chess helps cure social ills?

From a report on Aberdeen's primary school chess development programme:
Chess, like all educational initiatives, cannot be a substitute for social policy measures that tackle the material poverty of low income and a long working day for many parents. It can, however, contribute to children's personal growth and resilience in circumstances of poverty.

If a primary source of social capital is the 'keeping of privilege' by the rich and powerful by means of extended family resources and the purchase of educational opportunity, then chess-play, as a form of cultural capital, can redress some of these imbalances of educational opportunity.
Wow! I just thought it made you a better student.

Read "Classroom revolution as chess puts a check on unruly children" from The Scotsman.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

The Pariah Chess Club

Charles Krauthammer writes about his chess club:

Pariah status has not been required of subsequent members, though it is encouraged. Being a chess player already makes you suspect enough in polite society, and not without reason. Any endeavor that has given the world Paul Morphy, the first American champion, who spent the last 17-odd years of his life wandering the streets of New Orleans, and Bobby Fischer, the last American champion, now descended John Nash-like into raving paranoia, cannot be expected to be a boon to one's social status.

Hat Tip: Maverick Philosopher

Catching Up #1 - Chess Horizons

Just like at work, I'm facing a pile of material that has grown while I've been gone. I guess this is when blogging starts to feel a bit more like a job than a hobby:
  • Harold published another BCC Championship game in the Boston Globe. I'll try to post it soon.

  • The Knights Errant have been posting and cross-commenting like crazy. Major themes include - problems with CT-Art and proposed modifications to the MDLM program. I need to read through the blogs in detail and pull out the best stuff.

  • The Knights have also called a virtual meeting for tonight which I hope I can attend. I'm thinking about trying to live blog it; we'll see.

  • Pete posted another article from Femi Oyekan at Chess Underground. I haven't read it yet, but past history suggests it will be worth a post.

  • I still have lots of stuff in draft to review and post.
Plenty to look forward to, but for now I want to cover the most recent issue of Chess Horizons (the magazine of the Massachusetts Chess Association). The Boylston Chess Club/ Foundation is extremely well represented in the January-March 2005 edition:
Regarding my article on the Championship, virtually all the content published (and much more, of course) can be found in the Weblog, except for the following introduction that I wrote specifically for the magazine piece:
From late August until the end of November I provided daily internet coverage of the 2004 BCC Championship at . My motivation for this project was only partially chess-related; I wanted to learn a bit about this blogging-thing which was just starting to get mainstream attention. In point of fact, I gained an education in several areas: blogging tools and technologies, building virtual communities, tools and techniques for analyzing and publishing chess games on the web, enough html to get into trouble, something called RSS, and perhaps most interestingly, the perils of assuming the role of a journalist.

From the club's perspective the project has been viewed as a success. It provided a means for the broader membership to truly follow the Championship in a way which was not possible through paper-based cross-tables and game reports. From the comments posted to the Blog we know that it helped us reconnect with current/former members who we hadn't seen in awhile and/or who had moved out of the area. And we even had loyal readers who don't live in the New England area. To build on this effort, I decided to launch a second weblog which provides the entire BCC membership the opportunity to publish and share just about anything chess-related. You can check it out at and see how it's going.

I would like to thank Mark Donlan for making the initial content selections and assembling this article. Unless otherwise noted, all game annotations (good and bad) are mine with significant help from Fritz 8.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

More Craigslist humor

I've been known to post an amusing item from Craigslist on occasion. At There's Pie in the Lunchroom, they found one that seems to have both tickled their fancy and incurred their disdain:

Effervescent Chess Coaches Needed

STAR Chess is hiring chess coaches for spring and summer. If you are sparkling personality with a passion for chess and you would like to teach kids the most fantastic game ever invented then this job is for you. Make no bones about it! We want teachers who can teach kids chess in a fun and exciting way. Effervescent chess professionals welcome! Working with kids from K-6 in the classroom and a basic understanding of the rules and tactics is a must. FBI background and health screening for TB will be required. We pay well so we expect only the best. Actors, singers and dancers welcome. If you have what it takes then reply to this ad. If you are not sure, try tax accounting. We hear the IRS is hiring.

Read their response here.

A chess confession

NORFOLK — Over a game of chess in a jail medical ward, Anthony Juniper confessed to another inmate that he had killed Keshia Stephens, according to testimony today....

Juniper’s chess partner, Ernest Smith, testified wearing the black-and-white stripes of the Norfolk City Jail. He said he met Juniper in the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, where they were both being held in October.

As they played chess, Smith testified, he asked Juniper if he had killed Stephens.

“He said he killed Keshia and killed the kids because he didn’t want to leave witnesses,” Smith testified....
Courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot (click here for a "free" username and password, if you need it).

Chess Art

Link - Here's a sample:

Friday, January 21, 2005

How to build a chessboard

Over at Treebeau, Tim is documenting his efforts to craft a chessboard. Learning the Sicilian Najdorf seems like it would be less complicated:
I started gluing up the thin strips of cherry and poplar for the chess board. I can only do these in pairs. 8 strips = 4 pairs, which I glued up and clamped. Next I will glue together 2 of THOSE pairs, then later the FINAL pair. Then the board will be half done. I then turn it 90 degrees and cut 8 strips again. When these are rotated and opposed, they will make the alternating 64 squares.
Apparently, there is little margin for error:
I glued up 4 of the "two strip" sub assemblies. When set, an hour later, I unclamped and scraped off excess glue.... This morning I looked and the one that was laying on top had formed a cup. Ugh!

I should go away more often...

It turns out that while I was away Boylston Chess Club Weblog was selected as Link of the Week by the Greater Peoria Chess Federation. Thanks to Pete from Chess Underground for the nomination.

... also received a link from a new chess improvement blog. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but you may want to take a look at PawnInTheGame.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Steady Progress on the Road to Grandmaster

Bill Paschall has been a long time member of and a very active tournament player at the Boylston Chess Club, though he has recently lapsed because he has moved from the Boston area.

Actually, he spends quite a bit of time in Europe, working toward GM norms. Grandmaster Michael Rohde chose one of Bill's games from the November Budapest First Saturday as the Chess Life January 2005 "Game of the Month," subtitled "Steady Progress." Keep it up Bill. Posted by Hello

While I'm away...

I'll be taking some R&R over the next week from work and blogging. Hopefully not too many of you will experience serious symptoms of miscellaneous chess bits withdrawal. But just in case, I've compiled a list of chess-related blogs which I do not currently link to in the sidebar.

Why not? Some are relatively new; some are probably abandoned; some I haven't found to be all that interesting (but that's just my opinion); some are probably pretty good, but I haven't spent enough time with them. Also, there are a few chess improvement blogs which may or may not choose to join the Knights Errant (some are clearly not on the road to La Maza).

Let me know what you think of any or all of these blogs. I'll "permanently" link to those you think are most worthwhile.

Renaissance Knights Town Crier

Chess Obsession

Blog do Xadrez


Bungalow Bill

Rakshasas - King Patzer! (moved to sidebar list 1/25/05)

Art Of Chess

The 64 Square Jungle

Chess Spectator

Rich Tong On Chess

32 Pieces Of My Mind

Let the chimp play instead

"Nowhere in sport, perhaps in human activity, is the gap between the tryer and the expert so astronomical.... My chances of a chess brilliancy are the 'chances' of a lab chimp and a typewriter producing King Lear." - Martin Amis

Hat Tip: Andaaayyy's Live Journal

Friday, January 14, 2005

A birthday wish

My birthday is Friday, February 11th. I'll be turning 23. All I want for my birthday is for all of my friends to get together and play a game of human chess.

If you are planning on being in Buffalo on February 11th (would anyone voluntarily chose a winter vacation in Buffalo?), Tom needs you.

I still need: 2 players (the people controlling the pieces), 16 pawns, 4 bishops, 4 knights, 3 rooks, 2 kings, 1 queen

Ever see a chess player eating between rounds?

The Globe and Mail's Russell Smith on how "the whole experience of going to movies is highly unpleasant":
How can people possibly enjoy the lining up, the waiting with coats on for tickets, then the shuffling with the heated herd toward a crowded, windowless room? And when you get to that butter-scented trough, with its seats piled high with coats and scarves, the representatives of humanity who surround you are anxious: They are focused on their feed. This focus is quite dramatic. Their eyes are glazed and dilated, their shoulders are hunched over their cartons, they are stuffing themselves with viscous oil products with orange cheeze whip on fried nachos, with yellow "topping," with gallon jugs of liquid sugar. They have the concentration of chess players, of athletes before contests, of the starving.
Nothing like the gourmet spread at the Herb Healy. (Hat Tip: The Adventures of Accordian Guy in the 21st Century)

Looking for a good work-out? Play chess!

At Here Goes, a post on how a chess game provides a harder work-out than a triathlon:
I'm posting this quick entry to describe a very strange phenomenon I've noticed when I play chess. It actually is harder on me physically than triathlons! Once we reach the middle of the game, while I'm waiting quietly for my opponent to move, I notice that my breathing becomes shorter and more rapid, my heart pounds, I smell funny from the sweat drenching my underarms.

Either I'm really not pushing very hard when I compete in triathlons or the competition in chess games is more psychologically and physically compelling than triathlons.

I have no context for comparing chess to a triathlon, and a long walk can't possibly be a reasonable substitute. Nevertheless, I can relate to how draining a long tournament game can be. Particularly after weekend tournaments, when I played 4 or 5 games over two days, I remember being completely exhausted. On more than one occasion I fell ill at the end or shortly thereafter.

Chess Murder Mystery


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Knights to some, de la Mazans to others

Previously, I joked with Don Q about alternative themes for the Knights Errant as they continue to grow in number. At the time, I mentioned the disciples of the last supper. Lately I've been considering some contemporary options -- "Twelve Angry Men", "Ocean's Eleven", "The Magnificent Seven", "The Dirty Dozen", etc. Another idea is to adopt the chromatic schema of "Reservoir Dogs"; who wants to be Mr. Pink?
Reservoir Dogs Mr. Pink & Mr. White
In any case, it is time for a new introduction; welcome to J'adoube. Other than the obvious chess reference, J'adoube hasn't mentioned any particular meaning associated with the name. For now I'm going to go with the "off-center" knight (why else adjust?).

I think I'm going to give the Orange Knight another week or so before the Search & Rescue mission is called off permanently. However, at this point I think we all need to begin to come to terms with what most likely was a terminal case of the rhinovirus.

Here is a selection of recent Knights Errant links for your reading pleasure:

Man de la Maza - Don discovers the value of keeping his blog and reaches his 100 day anniversary.

Sancho Pawnza - Sancho is either experiencing real changes in his perception/understanding of chess or he's having flashbacks (you never know when those college-year indiscretions come back to roost).

Pale Morning Dun - Pale circles the date for his conquest of Caissa. My advice to him is to stick with the current pace of the program and view the tournament as a single step on the road, not the final destination.

Pawn Sensei - While waiting for CT-ART to arrive, Pawn begins to wax philosophical. What does one do after chess? Die, I suppose.

General Kaia - The General actually takes a shot at La Maza over the price of his book (with no backlash from the assembled throng). I would certainly agree that the "free" articles provide pretty much everything you need to embark on the program.

J'adoube - ...takes a shot to the chest. No, not in a chessic sense - a real karate kick that caused him to go "flying". Ouch! I hope he is feeling better.

See also "Tipping Point".

On chess databases and preparation

The New York Times follows the development of chess databases and how it has impacted tournament game preparation at all levels:
Mr. Bonin is much more active than most elite players, but he is doing what most serious players have long thought is necessary: playing frequently to stay in peak form. Now, however, because of the widespread availability of databases of games and the growing strength of chess software, such activity may actually be making it easier to beat him.

Scholastic Chess Championship - China


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

One Member's Blog

BCF member Brian Salomon maintains a Live Journal and regularly discusses his chess playing and sometimes the BCC/BCF. Here is a recent sample:
It may not be the New York Masters, but Boston's Tuesday Night Blitz is drawing in the local heavyweights. This week starred an impressive roster:

FM, SM Bill Kelleher (2378 FIDE, 2383 USCF)
FM Chris Chase (2330 / 2304)
FM Paul Mac Intyre (2245 / 2305)
NM Jacob Rasin (2359 / 2303 / 2460 Quick!)
NM Charles Riordan (2287 / 2280)
NM Vadim Martirosov (2249 / 2215)

There's the usual slew of Experts to fight through, most of them dominated by the strong Russian Expert, Slava Volk.

With any luck, this will keep up through the Winter. Every round finishes in an exciting head-to-head Master clash for the win; no quick draws here! The environment is greatly encouraging, with killer chess all around, and it just compels anyone with an interest to raise the bar on their play.

Medieval Chess


Prison Chess

Most of us in the chess community know of prison chess, but probably don't spend much time thinking about how it works, what role it plays in the prison system, etc. Fresh Inc. - the weblog of Inc. Magazine - has a very interesting piece on a recent prison chess tournament in New Jersey.
"All the guys talk about in the yard is the tournament," says Jesus "Big New York" Sanabria. "You beat the Princeton guys and become a hero for a few weeks, get bragging rights and maybe a few extra packs of cigarettes." It's not hard to fathom why chess has caught on. From the inmates' perspective, it takes up time and as 'Red' taught us, prison time is slow time. It also keeps the mind sharp, doesn't cost much and makes for a nice press release because participation requires a good behavioral record...

Chess and Science Fiction

From Eternal Blade Runner's Blade Runner FAQ:

The chess game between Tyrell and Sebastian uses the conclusion of a game played between Anderssen and Kieseritzky, in London in 1851. It is considered one of the most brilliant games ever played, and is universally known as "The Immortal Game".

The Immortal Game, in algebraic notation, was as follows:

Anderssen - Kieseritzky (London 1851):

1 e4 e5 2 f4 exf4 3 Bc4 Qh4+ 4 Kf1 b5 5 Bxb5 Nf6 6 Nf3 Qh6 7 d3 Nh5 8 Nh4 Qg5 9 Nf5 c6 10 Rg1 cxb5 11 g4 Nf6 12 h4 Qg6 13 h5 Qg5 14 Qf3 Ng8 15 Bxf4 Qf6 16 Nc3 Bc5 17 Nd5 Qxb2 18 Bd6 Qxa1+ 19 Ke2 Bxg1 20 e5 Na6 21 Nxg7+ Kd8 22 Qf6+ Nxf6 23 Be7 Checkmate.
Blade Runner Chess Game
The chess boards in the film are not arranged exactly as they would in be the Immortal Game, and Sebastian's board does not match Tyrell's.

The concept of immortality has obvious associations in the ensuing confrontation between Tyrell and Batty. On one level, the chess games represents the struggle of the replicants against the humans: the humans consider the replicants pawns, to be removed one by one. The individual replicants (pawns) are attempting to become immortal (a queen). At another level, the game between Tyrell and Sebastian represents Batty stalking Tyrell. Tyrell makes a fatal mistake in the chess game, and another fatal mistake trying to reason with Batty.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Old Men Chess - Outdoors


Dances with Knights

Dave the Moon Man has a crazy thought:
...maybe I'll drive to Saskatchewan and play chess on the hood of the car in front of some neverending wheat field while I blare The Sea And Cake into the prairie air.
Here's another thought - psychotherapy.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Local club needs help

The Lexington Chess Club is looking for space (sound familiar to anyone?).
This year has been a different story. The school department wants to charge us for the rooms but the cost is prohibitive to us as an all-volunteer organization. We have approached the Lexington Public Library which is closed on Friday nights, Cary Hall which has other events scheduled for Friday nights and some of the churches in town to no avail.
Read "Chess Club without a home" from the Lexington Minuteman.

Chess and Design

Awhile back, we took a look at Thinking Machine 4 - the chess program that shows its thinking on the board. Recently, the site was selected as a Yahoo! Daily Pick so it is showing up again all over the blogosphere. At Be A Design Group, Adrian uses it to launch a discussion on the similarities between chess and design:
I can’t help but think that the process of graphic design is similar to chess. The comparison won’t ring true for everyone, but any serious chess player will tell you that success in chess requires something very important to designers: creativity.
The chessboard as the artist's canvas.

Did you forget to bid?

Last October, President Kennedy's White House chess set was up for sale on eBay. However, the final bid of $26,100 did mot meet the seller's reserve.

Hat Tip: rummaging

Chess in Denver

Courtesy of the Rocky Mountain News:
The Denver Chess Club, one of the oldest in the country (founded in the 1940s), meets every Tuesday night from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Cherry Creek Community Church, 366 Garfield St. For event information, visit the club Web site...

In 2004, the Denver Chess Club sponsored 26 tournaments and paid out more than $13,000 in prize money.

Congratulations to Brian Wall who won the 2004 Denver Chess Club Championship and to Tyler Hughes, the 2004 Denver Chess Club Grand Prix Champion.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Live Blogging - Law & Order:CI

9:04 - No chess in the opening sequence before the credits, must still be doing the pairings.

9:14 - Still no chess. What kind of chess show is this anyway? So far I've seen playing cards and they've mentioned lottery tickets. Maybe they're working their way up to chess...

9:27 Goren: "This guy thinks the whole world is after him." In other words, he must think he is the King on the chessboard. OK, they still haven't mentioned chess yet, but I do have an agenda here.

9:31 Casinos, gambling, poker chips ... a paranoid traveling all over Asia.

9:34 Goren: "He likes to time make the right decisions quickly."

9:36 Blum: "It's their only move.... My risks, my moves, my deals."

9:38 Goren: "64 squares...chessboards have 64 squares... the guy with the visor was timing himself...chessplayers time themselves."

9:39 Eames: "...from chess prodigy to paranoid prodigy, that's why I stuck to checkers."

9:42 A paranoid GM, traveling around Asia, dropped out of the game 22 years ago, refused permission to play a match in Cuba, fugitive from the government, rails against US government - I guess they take this 'ripped from the headlines' concept seriously.

9:45 "When he became a GM he became so eccentric." "Not eccentric, mental illness." - Are there any GMs who don't exhibit at least some level of eccentricity?

9:48 Goren: "What's his next move?"

9:52 Nf3, g3, Bg2 - Eames: "The moves are from the King's Indian Attack. The opening David used to win the tournament when he was 12."

9:53 At a local scholastic tournament - Blum: "Protect your queen."

9:54 Goren: "Nice move clearing away from the kids."

9:55 Goren: "This was the key piece. You blundered when you killed Allison."

9:56 Blum holds a knife to his own throat. Goren: "Are you resigning?"

9:57 Goren: "Isn't it true GMs will only resign as a last resort?" [Obviously the writers are not familiar with Ivanchuck!] "You can still play for a draw."

9:58 Blum drops the knife. Goren: "That was the right move, David." Blum requests legal representation from the UN and begins to rail against the government as he is taken into custody. Eames: "Apparently he knows his next move."

See also "Who says there's no chess on television?".

Beach Chess


Ever see a U.S. cabinet secretary at a chess tournament?

From, the story of new U.K. Home Secretary Charles Clarke's visit to the Hastings International Chess Conference:
Charles Clarke broke off from his first official engagements as Home Secretary today – to visit a chess tournament.

Mr Clarke, who took over from David Blunkett three weeks ago, spent the morning meeting representatives from a crime reduction partnership at Hastings police station in East Sussex.

But before heading for Dover, in Kent, where he was due to visit immigration facilities this afternoon, the keen chess fan made an unofficial stop at the event.
I particularly liked this political "CYA" from the Home Office's spokesman:
"It's not organised by the Home Office because we obviously don't have responsibility for chess".

BCF - Donchenko correspondence game

Oleg Donchenko is a BCF member who doesn't play in any of our tournaments. That's because the Russian chess expert, formerly from Odessa, currently lives in Oregon. However, he hasn't let geography get in the way of playing other members. In fact, he is currently engaged in a correspondence game against the entire BCF membership. Each week members vote on White's next move and the most popular choice is sent to Oleg. Here is the game so far and the current position:

White: BCF
Black: Donchenko

1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 dxe4 4. Nxe4 Nc6 5. Nf3 a6 6. Bf4 f5 7. Ng3 Nf6 *

BCF-Donchenko after move 7

Perhaps you'll want to play along as well ... what's your vote for White's 8th move? I can't guarantee that votes from the blog will count, but if there is a lot activity here I'll ask Paul about it.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Tim Redman remembers Arnold Denker

NPR Audio

Knights as sheep, rather than horses

At Dyed in the Wool, an explanation of postal knitting:
No, not like postal chess (knit one row, send it on, knit a row, send it on...)!
It makes one wonder about internet knitting, rapid knitting, e-mail knitting, blitz knitting... Perhaps Kasparov will campaign against rules which have the effect of marginalizing classical knitting.

BCC Championship Rating Report

The USCF rating report for the 2004 Boylston Chess Club Championship is now available. Top rating point gainers were Martirosov and Glickman (both +17); the largest point losers, Riordan (-21) and Slive (-17). Not surprisingly these results are completely in line with the post-tournament analysis of relative performance.


Apparently the San Francisco Chronicle couldn't find any more room in a part of the paper people actually read:
The Commuter crossword puzzle that used to run on the back page, and the Bridge column, Chess column, Jumble, Cryptoquip and Horoscope, all of which used to run on the puzzles page, can now be found on the second page of the Classified section.
Read "New location for puzzles". The Boylston Puzzle Foundation?

Friday, January 07, 2005

What's the game of choice on Capitol Hill?

Chris Anderson believes that the Democrats...
...need more poker players and fewer chess players.
To be honest, I know of more prize fighters that play chess than politicians. In any case, the whole "back room deal" sort of genre seems more amenable to poker than chess. Anyone know of prominent, chess playing politicians?

Who says there's no chess on television?

Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Sunday January 9th at 9 pm EST:
CAN GOREN CHECKMATE MURDEROUS CHESS GRANDMASTER? -- Detective Goren (Vincent D'Onofrio) matches wits and moves with a paranoid but murderous chess grandmaster (as David Blum, guest star Robert Carradine) after a newly engaged woman is found slain and tossed in a garbage bin -- but Goren believes the killing might be a case of mistaken identity and finds links to a wealthy family and a pimp. Edging closer, Goren and Detective Eames (Kathryn Erbe) study the passenger manifest on the victim's recent flight and they discover the curious zig-zag path of one disturbed man who is later discovered to be a famous chess prodigy-turned-fugitive now intent on blackmailing his family for money. Jamey Sheridan and Courtney B. Vance also star. TV-14
Get those TiVo's programmed.

Playing for your meal

An excerpt from the Humor Columns' "What's for Dinner? or the Texas-Death Chess Match":
The decision of what to have for dinner combines the strategy of chess with the brute force of burnt eggs.

Melissa: What do you want? I don't care at all; I'll fix whatever you'd like.
This is her opening gambit. It never varies.

Me: Pork chops? Steak? Chicken? Fish? I don't care; whatever you want.
The Russian-Supper counter-gambit.

Melissa: Nope! No! Ugh uh! Ain't happenin' today?
In to the fray, let the battle begin.
Move, counter move, the discussion method leads nowhere, so we carry the skirmish to the grocery and tire store.

Melissa: What about fried shrimp?
The offer of a prawn....

Chess City of the Year

Perhaps Lindsborg, Kansas is destined to become the Beersheba of the Midwest...
Like countless other small towns across the Midwest, Lindsborg, which has a population of 3,500, is struggling to survive as rural life becomes more difficult and people move to cities or suburbs. Until a few years ago, it relied on its niche as Little Sweden, a place where tourists could buy Swedish crafts and eat pancakes with lingonberry sauce.

Swedish flags are still visible around town, but now the banners along Main Street say, "Welcome Anatoly Karpov School of Chess."
Read "In One Kansas Town, the End of the Year Game Is Chess" from the New York Times.

An ode to the Pawn

Most people call this chess piece a 'pawn', although the word 'peon' can be used interchangeably.

It's interesting that the peon is the only piece on the board that is capable of being promoted into something more powerful.

From Chain of Command - The benefits of being a Peon!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Tipping Point

The Knights Errant de la Maza have grown to the point where I have now given them their own section in the sidebar. Chess aside, Don and Sancho's gang already make an interesting case study in the growth and development of blog-based communities. I'm happy they've invited me in as a "house" reporter (and I don't even have to spend two hours a day doing tactical exercises, though I suppose it wouldn't hurt my game if I did).

Check out the group's newest member - General Kaia. As for the Orange Knight, the sniffle watch continues.

See also "The Four Musketeers".

Chess and Music

From Blather Review's analysis of the lyrics of the Beach Boys' "Surf's Up":
A diamond necklace played the pawn

Firstly, I think of a chess pawn: the player of least value; the one that's most easily sacrificed for the good of the whole. Then, there's the diamond necklace; presumably a thing of great value. The most becomes the least in this 'play'.
This reminds me a bit of literary analysis from college, e.g., what was the author trying to get across with his multiple uses of the color red? Does anyone know of other songs with chess-related references?

Goethe on innovation

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Hat Tip: Jereve

A clever man commits no minor blunders. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Hat Tip: Quotes from Kan

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Come play in the January Monday Night Swiss

In last month's MNS, Chikwere Onyekwere [2075] and Kevin Croxen [1846] tied for 1st place.

We need more players for the January Monday Night Swiss. Come try your luck against the 7 player field - it's not too late to enter with a bye and be competitive. Charles and Osamu drew in the first round and Osamu has taken byes for rounds 3 and 4, so anything can happen.

Riordan, Charles 2284
Katsuhara, Osamu 2070
De Koekkoek, Trevor 1991
Croxen, Kevin 1846
Lee, Jonathan 1607
Oresick, Robert 1513
Hager, Greg 1211

Winter Chess




Lee LeFever uses a chess analogy to try to make sense of the Washington State governor's race that will not end:
Sachiko and I were talking the other day about this and comparing it to a chess match that ends in a draw. More often than not, I think a draw indicates that neither player had a strong strategy (of course it could be the opposite too).

In a situation like ours in Washington, I wonder if the practical "draw" in the election is similar - that neither candidate connected with enough people to really create a majority?
While many draws in chess reflect the fact that neither player sees a strong strategy going forward from the current position, it usually doesn't mean that they didn't have a strong strategy leading up to the current state. Quite commonly, one player is pursuing a reasonable, or even strong, plan but his opponent simply defends well and reaches a position which is prospectless for both. Of course a draw is an acceptable outcome in a chess game, but proves wholly unsatisfactory in a political contest.

As to the specific political situation in Washington, I have no great insight to contribute.

The Next American GM?

Angus Dwyer writes about his experiences playing chess against his 5-year old nephew. Based on his comments, it would seem that he agrees with my "beat them while their young" theory (that's beat them at chess ... we don't condone corporal punishment at the BCF):
I found in the endgame my biggest challenge was trying to be more entertaining than the Blue Power Ranger. No easy task.

I estimate that at this rate he'll be able to beat me consistently by the time he's eleven or so.

Well, it'll be a fun six years.
Angus is a Yankees fan, but since he is also a chess player we'll forgive him.

Is chess this depressing?

If you've ever played chess, you'll notice that every piece on the board struggles to a shallow grave or just struggles ... even the "winning" side dies in little pieces along the way. And once the battle's over? No more reason even to exist, except hope for another battle.

War is hell, and existence is a war. Everyone loses.
Read "Life is a game with no winners" from Shattered Vortex.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

A chess makeover?

Several years ago, the look-out was grim. Falling attendance at tournaments, dropping sales of chess-sets and reports of school chess clubs closing across the world pointed to an eventual decline and, perhaps, an end to chess as we know it....

A series of strategic focus groups identified an image problem. “Kids felt that we were too hidebound, unable to appeal to their more radical side” ...

The answer was a total overhaul of the game’s image, beginning with the name. “We conducted a survey and established that ‘Xtreme Chequerboarding’ was a more accepted name amongst key demographics."
Read "Chess Seeks Youth Market: 'Xtreme Chequerboarding' launched" from The Chaser News.

New Year's Chess Resolutions

"Learn to play chess.... I don't plan to be a grandmaster by the end of the year, but would at least like to be a non-dull competitor should there be a board sitting around at a cafe, and a companion who wishes to play" - Sarah

"National Women's Chess Champion (even without a coach :))" - May Li

"Study much harder in chess, and more often" - LosingForever

"Obtain a chess rating of 1400 USCF" - Memo Book

"Play in four rated chess tournaments, including one to which I take my chess playing nephew" - Robert

Monday, January 03, 2005

Chess and Baseball

Ed Lynch compares our game with the national pastime:, like chess, is a thinking person's game...the best baseball game would be 1-0 in ten innings, like the best chess games are quietly incremental struggles of position and strategy...

Maintaining the tension: the beauty of both baseball and chess.

baseball chess

Rage against the machine

From Kyle's files:
A computer once beat me at chess, but he was no match against me at kick boxing.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Warning: Don't provoke the youngsters!

I played another old guy then, and completely slaughtered him twice! It was the best feeling in the world, and very satisfying, since [h]e was one of those smack-talking old geezers who told me I could pick whatever color I wished, since he would beat me regardless. Hahaha it felt good to lay the smack down on the old coot.
Read "Chess Nights" from The Memo Book.

Pale Dun faces a crisis on the road to La Maza

De La Maza mentions that if you are having trouble initially then you should probably focus on those problems before moving on. Before I started this, I thought, "That won't be me." Yet here I am wondering if my tactical skills are really this bad. If chess was an elementary school, I'd be riding the short bus to class.
Read "Ringing in the New Year with Mediocrity".

Saturday, January 01, 2005

I out-scored GM Larry Christiansen at the Herb

Well, I suppose it is true that Larry was just making an appearance at our New Year's event and only planned to play in the first round of the tournament. But hey, why get hung up on minutiae and trivial details?

I out-scored GM Larry Christiansen 2.5 to 1.0 at the 2005 BCC Herb Healy Open! That's my story, and I'm sticking with it!
GM Larry Christiansen

Wishful Thinking

From Mahesh Shetty's Dallas Morning News Column December 24, 2004:
More brain and less brawn: I wish we celebrated the University of Texas at Dallas chess championship as much, if not more, than UT's appearance in a BCS bowl; intellectual athleticism is no less valuable than the physical kind.
Don't hold your breath waiting.