Monday, July 31, 2006

Computer Chess -- Yesterday's Challenge

It may surprise you to learn that it's more difficult for a computer to play poker, perhaps the world's most popular card game, than chess, the pastime of deep thinkers.

Unlike chess, poker deals with tricky matters such as uncertainty, probability, guesswork and deception - human wiles that a chess-playing robot, such as the one that beat world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, doesn't need to consider.

As a result, computer experts say, poker is more like real life - with all its subtleties and complications - than chess is, with its fixed rules and vast but finite possibilities.

"Chess might be a better test of raw computer power," said Christian Lebiere, a psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. But computer poker programs "are indeed more like human problem-solving."
Read "Computers find poker, like real life, a tougher challenge than chess" at The Mercury News.

A Perfect Pair

I bet you didn't know that GM Maurice Ashley's sister Alicia is a professional boxer. They would undoubtedly be prohibitive favorites for the Sibling Doubles Chessboxing Championship.

Here is an excerpt from a recent interview with Alicia Ashley:
ESB: Your other brother, Maurice Ashley, is the first black grandmaster in chess. Who is better, you at Chess or him at boxing?

Alicia: (Laughing) Probably equally horrible. (laughing) I would say, me, because I at least know the moves. (Laughing) He doesn't know boxing at all; I don't even think he knows what a jab is.

ESB: Does he ever come to your fights to cheer you on?

Alicia: Only a couple of my amateur fights, the one or two at the Garden he has been to. All my pro fights have been away, so he hasn't been to my pro fights. We are really trying to get a pro fight in New York, cause just the people at the gym would be a huge crowd.

ESB: Did you hear about the new sport of ChessBoxing in Europe?

Alicia: (laughing) I have never heard of that.

ESB: Yeah, it's like alternating rounds and you can win by checkmate or knockout.

Alicia: (laughing) I don't think they have much to do with themselves over there.

ESB: You would never compete in something like that if Maurice trained you?

Alicia: (laughing) No, I think they would checkmate me, although if we boxed first?

ESB: (Laughing) Yeah, I mean, there is a lot of strategy involved in that. Would your parents rather have had another chess player in the family or another boxer?

Alicia: My mom, she has never seen me boxing; actually, she has never seen me in karate, either, but she is very proud of me and what I have done. So they are happy, you know. She is a world champion here, and he is a grand master there, so they are happy in that sense.

ESB: Which boxer do you think would make a good chess player with the right training and why?

Alicia: Mayweather because I think he uses strategy a lot. When he went in to fight Gatti, people expected him to run around and he didn't. He comes out and surprises you, and now people know he is not just a mover and he can stand there and fight. So he employs strategy and that is what you need in chess.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Reubens-Landey standings after Round 3



#
NameIDRtngPostRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Tot
1Jason M Rihel1255120519031918B---W10W4 3.0
2Brian D Salomon1268511420202033D9W7W5 2.5
3Bryant C Vernon1253747419091921H---W9W10 2.5
4Farzad Abdi1286837219821981W11W6L1 2.0
5Simon K Warfield1262557221792170H---W11L2 1.5
6Natasha Christiansen1136680518721860B---L4D8 1.5
7Daniel Schmidt1260357118241828H---L2W11 1.5
8Jonathan M Lee1274292817071713H---H---D6 1.5
9Philip A Nutzman1284296018651861D2L3H--- 1.0
10Robert J Oresick1265951916081599B---L1L3 1.0
11Lior Rozhansky1282591017691751L4L5L7 0.0


Tentative Round 4 Pairings

Salomon - Rihel
Abdi - Vernon
Warfield - Lee
Christiansen - Schmidt
Nutzman - Oresick
Rozhansky (1 pt. bye)

Friday, July 28, 2006

Still more drinking chess

On paper, Power Hour doesn't really seem like it's that big of a deal. You take a shot of beer every minute for an hour. Sounds straightforward enough, especially for the drunkards in our audience....

In practice, [however], the whole Power Hour thing is like trying to play chess while riding a rhino - or that's what it seems like about halfway through.

Yet another twelve step program

Spending 16 hours a day on CTS? Have so many turn-based games going that you can't keep count any more? Still dreaming about chess?

You might be suffering from the little understood affliction of board game addiction. Fear not, there are people available to help. Board Gamers Anonymous (BGA) is an organization committed to helping board game addicts and their families.
"Most people are shocked when they hear about our group," states David, the founding member of the Newark chapter of BGA, "most people have never heard of board game addiction, but I can assure you it is a very real problem."
No doubt Tempo will eventually find his way to the Amsterdam chapter.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Passerby

Hey, get out of the way! I'm trying to get a shot of the chess set.

Chess Poetry IX

"A Game of Chess"

The cafe revels in the smell of things sweet
Of coffee and pastries and other such treats
And the man bathed in the window light
With a glow in his eyes quite dark
And a twist of the lips quite stark
Over squares of black and squares of white
He beckons with a smile like a ghost wise
Whilst the man by the clock just lingers and sighs

Read more...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

On the one hand

My interest was piqued by a post at The 64 Square Jungle about the plight of NM Alexander Stamnov. Chessdad64 reports:
National Master Alexander Stamnov, a virtual fixture on the Chicago area chess scene, has been confined for over three months at a detention facility in El Paso, Texas on immigration violations... Alex ... has been one of the most active tournament players in Illinois and the country -- 323 events since 1998, he has been a mainstay at local chess clubs and the North Avenue Chess Pavilion over the years.

Tomorrow evening, many members of the Illinois chess community will join together for a benefit that will include GM Simuls and a buffet dinner, with the proceeds going to assist Alex.... Those supporting this cause include GM Dmitry Gurevich, GM Nikola Mitkov, GM Vladimir Georgiev, IM Jan van de Mortel, chess organizer Zack Fishman, and many others as well.
My initial thoughts were along these lines -- Is he being held improperly? If not (i.e., if he illegally entered the country or overstayed his visa), why all the concern?

An anonymous commenter offered the following:
Stamnov entered the country legally. He should have applied for political asylum within one year; he did not. Were he to return to (former Yugoslav) Macedonia, it would not be good for his health.
One side of my brain says, "Hey, the rules are the rules", while the other says, "Surely a refugee deserves a political asylum hearing even if he's 7 years late in asking for it." What do you think?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Before the days of punch cards

Seoul Hero's Nathan Bauman has posted an interesting piece about the first analog chess "computer," which was invented around the turn of the century by the Spanish inventor Torres y Quevedo.

According to Nathan:
The post contains all the pictographic evidence I can find on the internet for the first two chess computers, including a new color photograph showing the workings of the first machine in more detail than was the case with the only other photograph of this machine. I think it's kind of sad how unknown this machine is, considering how far ahead of its day it was when it was invented.

Remember when...

...all the excitement was about the 10,000th visit to BCC Weblog?

50,000 Baby!!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Reubens-Landey standings after Round 2

2.0 Abdi, Farzad (1982)
2.0 Rihel, Jason (1903)

1.5 Salomon, Brian (2020)
1.5 Vernon, Bryant (1909)

1.0 Warfield, Simon (2179)
1.0 Christiansen, Natasha (1872)
1.0 Lee, Jonathan (1707)
1.0 Oresick, Robert (1608)

0.5 Nutzman, Philip (1865)
0.5 Schmidt, Daniel (1824)

0.0 Rozhansky, Lior (1769)

Tentative pairings for Round 3:

Rihel - Abdi
Salomon - Vernon
Warfield - Christiansen
Lee - Oresick
Schmidt - Rozhansky
Nutzman (1/2 pt bye)

Friday, July 21, 2006

"...like fight club, except with more bishops"

whiffer likes to play a variant called Full Impact Chess.

...its just like normal chess except when you lose a piece you were going to use or otherwise didnt want to lose, you punch your opponent. the best part is, most people dont know theyre playing full impact chess until that first hit.

Virtual Chess Babe Championship


Follow all the action at the Sims Bachelor Chess Competition:

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Fritzky

Over at Yahoo! Chess there is another man vs. machine competition taking place, one that has very little to do with chess.

Like any web community, Yahoo! Chess has an Instant-Message window, where the chatter alternates between chess nerds flirting and homophobic racists spouting names at Bush-whacking foreigners. That is, until about a year ago, when the streets of our cyber neighborhood -- like those of any thriving economy -- attracted the online equivalent of hookers. In order to drive traffic to their pornographic web sites, these clever bots engage players with flirtatious chatter crafted to simulate genuine chess-playing hotties.

Read "Return of the Cyber Street Walkers" at Who Has Time For This?.

Mill Valley shoots down chess board

The Mill Valley (CA) City Council voted 3-1 to reject the proposal to install a chess board in its town center plaza. Apparently the Council was persuaded by "well thought out" arguments like this:
...others feared giant tour busses would inundate the town, and the resulting traffic would put the children at risk.
{turn on sarcasm} I know I would have been one of the first to book my seat for the cross-country tour bus trip to see the giant chess board. {turn off sarcasm} Idiots!!

Despite the setback, there are always rays of hope. Colonie, NY resident Denis Burke's campaign to have chess tables installed across the Capital District has had some early success.

Related Posts: Size doesn't matter - Save the Mill Valley Chess Board!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Chess boards you can't misplace

Chinese archaeologists have found two ancient chess boards engraved on the Great Wall.
The two boards, one for Chinese chess and the other for the ancient game "Tiger Eats Sheep," were engraved on a stone in front of a Great Wall beacon tower possibly in the Song Dynasty (960-1279)...
Tiger Eats Sheep ... I think that might have been the original name of the Trompowsky Attack.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Name Roulette

It's a fact of life in the modern world that we need to continually adapt to change, but this one is getting hard to keep up with -- the ever changing Gila Chess Blog (at other times named Chess Improvement and Chess Training) is now named Chess Patzer Theory. I'm going to leave it listed as Gila Chess since I'm sure it will be changing again (and again).

Related Posts: Blogosphere Potpourri - Blog Rename

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Reubens-Landey standings after Round 1

1.0 Abdi, Farzad (1982)
1.0 Rihel, Jason M (1903)
1.0 Christiansen, Natasha C (1872)
1.0 Oresick, Robert J* (1608)

0.5 Salomon, Brian D (2020)
0.5 Vernon, Bryant C (1909)
0.5 Nutzman, Philip A (1865)
0.5 Schmidt, Daniel (1824)

0.0 Rozhansky, Lior* (1769)
0.0 Paphitis, Alexander* (1756)
0.0 Lee, Jonathan M* (1707)

* Weaver Adams Qualifier; see the final Weaver Adams crosstable

It's not too late to join the fun. BCF members rated between 1800-2199 can enter this Monday with a 1/2 point bye for the first round. Not yet a member? Join and your entry for the Reubens-Landey will be waived.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chess Blog Puttanesca

There have been several "around the chess blogosphere" pieces posted recently:
  • About.com offers links to several of their favorite posts from last month in Elsewhere on the Web: Blog Tripping in June. In particular, The Closet Grandmaster was cited for providing the best coverage of the Turin Olympiad, Gormallygate, and the FIDE presidential election. Two pieces here at BCC Weblog also received mentions -- Rihel on Chess Life and the US Championship and Weaver Adams: In his own words.

  • Chessdad64 penned an article for the Illinois Chess Bulletin -- Explorations in the Chess Blogosphere -- which he adapted into a post on The 64 Square Jungle. Chessdad asked me for some thoughts on major trends in chess blogosphere, which he included at the end of the piece.

  • At brainwashcafe you'll find Chess Pimp Links -- an occasionally irreverent review of several blogs from our corner of the 'sphere. TCG, The Chess Mind, Shakmaty Bereolos, and others come in for some mild ribbing and criticism, but I wouldn't take it all too seriously. I mean, who knew that Dennis M. was "the FIDE president's right hand?"

Taking chess to heart

Montreal ... A chance encounter with a chess teacher ... A timeless lesson in the role of passion and emotion in chess.

Read the whole story.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Chess with maps

Competitive orienteering has been called the thinking sport and has been likened to running while playing chess.

How about mail order?

Harry Singh has abandoned his quest to Find a Wife because dating is too much like a game of chess:

My take on the whole issue was that most modern relationships are like a game of chess. People mull over their moves, they brainstorm about the other person's plans and then they make their moves all the time worrying about what the other person is going to do next. You can give these things the labels of "element of mystery", "my dignity" and "your dignity" but in the end, it is essentially reduced to a game of chess.

I always figured that we played chess because it was so hard for us to find a date.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A luxury hotel, not!

Well I'm back from Chess camp, not that you care anyways. The food there was bad, I didn't eat much, so I starved myself for a week, dont try it, it's not fun! Then the girls dorm rooms were by a guys bathroom so they just put a sign on it saying it was a girl bathroom. Let me tell you a guys bathroom is no place for a girl, they lack those lovely candy boxes or slot machines, if you know what I mean. And the showers were bad no matter what you did, your clothes got wet...

I guess that's going to happen if you shower with your clothes on.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Cleaning up at chess

From "And all the king's men..." at Luxord's Live Journal:

I was dusting off my chess set out of sheer boredom today, and I realized... I spend more time cleaning the bloody things than actually using them.

HAL doubles the stakes

Here's an interesting article about the development of computer programs to play backgammon. It's interesting that while the best chess playing programs utilize "brute force" calculation, world class backgammon programs use neural nets and "...are entirely self taught using the technique of reinforcement learning...".

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Back in the saddle

After returning from a week's vacation on Cape Cod (and a self-imposed hiatus from the internet), I was quite heartened to see several new posts on BCC Weblog. As some of you know, my original vision for this blog was a community site for the club where many members would post occasionally on chess related topics of interest to them. While this idea never really came to fruition, there are a few members who do post intermittently. My thanks to Bob and Jason for keeping the content fresh while I was gone (even though I never told them I was going away). Thanks also to Ken Ho who joined our post parade recently; I'm looking forward to reading more from him in the future.

While I was gone, one or two more Knights Errant appeared (depending on who you read). I added Dr. Munky to the list of Knights, but placed Square One Chess on the sidebar despite The Hungarian Knight's announcement (since it's not totally clear from his posts if he wants to join the group -- of course, he is more than welcome to).

One last comment which relates to measuring the size of the chess blogosphere -- I returned to almost 300 chess blog posts in Bloglines. Guess I've got some reading ahead of me.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Reubens-Landey Starts Monday

Monday, July 10th, is the beginning of the Reubens-Landey, a Boylston Chess Foundation tournament to remember and honor Emil Reubens and Benjamin Landey.

Part of the club championship cycle, the winner of the Reubens-Landey advances into the club championship with the invited masters. If you are a BCC member and rated 1800 and above, but not a master, please consider playing. If you are not a member, this is a good excuse to join. Notice the change in time control this year – no adjournments.

from a Robert Oresick e-mail

Friday, July 07, 2006

BENJAMIN LANDEY


BENJAMIN LANDEY

by Bernardo Iglesias
Benjamin Landey was born in 1912 and died on January 20, 1981 in Quincy. From his high school days he worked for the Sharon Bolt and Screw Company founded by Emil Reubens, reaching the position of board chairman, which he held at his death.

According to Harry Lyman, Benjamin married Reubens’ daughter.

For many years, he was the ceremonial chess leader of New England: Landey was President of the MSCA, the Boylston Chess Club, the Boston Metropolitan Chess League, the New England Chess Association, and the USCF Regional Vice-President. He was a truly regional chess entrepreneur, a notable chess organizer, a man of remarkable poise and intelligence, a master of parliamentary procedure and a skillful politician, that is, a leader among leaders in the region. He worked for long hours at his job and then spend evenings and weekends on numerous chess projects and clubs.

While Ben Landey was a tournament director for M.S.C.A., he brought to Boston the U.S. Open in 1970 and the U.S. Junior Open in 1965 and 1969, held at Northeastern University. Ben Landey's most active years were from 1965 to 1970; after this year his health impeded more time in his passion for the royal game of chess. Despite his failing health, he was an extremely successful teacher of chess for beginners, though he himself was rated only about 1500 during most of his over the board career; he also, worked with the Massachusetts Association for Retarded Citizens and several local groups. Along with Emil Reubens, Landey was a major sponsor of prison chess programs, and the two of them sought the parole of a number of inmates who were avid chess players. In addition to being a regular tournament player, Ben Landey was very active in postal chess with the Nights of the Square Table (NOST).

Landey was the first person to compete with a computer in chess at a U.S. Chess Federation rated tournament. He lost.

Landey’s most glorious moment in the spotlight as an organizer was winning the bid for the 1970 US Open for Boston. It was Ben Landey’s rhetoric that easily won the bid at the 1969 U.S.C.F. meeting in Lincoln, Nebraska. It was unfortunate that the then M.S.C.A. was not ready to host such a major event. The host site, Boston's Parker House, was a less than welcoming host, and a great number of participants complained about the space designated for the playing room, that the light was not good enough for many, etc. Also, Ben Landey got sick a few months before the event along with his co-organizer Lewis Icenogle. It was not Landey's shining hour. `

Ben was treasurer of the Greater Boston Committee of the U.S. Peace Council, past President of the South Shore Assn. for Retarded Citizens. He was the President of the Boylston Chess Club at the time of his death.

After his death in 1981, M.A.C.A. organized a memorial tournament at the Mass. Open in April; the winner of this tournament was the young James Rizzitano in North Darmouth.

The Boylston Chess Club has honored Ben Landey since 1986, when the Board of Directors dedicated a qualifier tournament to those members of the club rated 1800 to 2199 plus the winners of the Weaver Adam's; the winner to participate in the fall championship. His memory will endure for ever at the Boylston Chess Club along with that of Emil Reubens.

References:
Boylston Chess Club Bulletin, 1986
Boylston Chess Club Bulletin, 1987
Chess Horizons, 1981, vol. 13, #2, p. 5, 10
Chess Horizons, 1981, vol. 13, #3, p. 5, 46
Chess Horizons, 1981, vol. 13, #4, p. 50
Chess Horizons, 1981, vol. 36, #4, p. 46
[edited by Robert Oresick July, 2004]

EMIL M REUBENS


EMIL M. REUBENS
...Chess appeals to our emotions and brings us joys and sorrows.

by Bernardo Iglesias

Emil Reubens was born in a beautiful land very far away, in Yelisavetpol (Kirovabad) Russia, in 1886, on September 23 and, died in Massachusetts in Norwood Hospital in 1973, on August 29 after a brief illness. Emil Reubens was 86 years old when he died, an extraordinary man who believed that mankind could become rehabilitated through Chess. Chess is more than life and can change a person to benefit Society. He was a chess master emeritus and one of the founding member of the United States Chess Federation, a member of the Boylston Chess Club, the Brockton Chess Club and his dear Sharon Chess Club.

Reubens received his formal education at the University of Prague. In 1906 he immigrated to the United States and worked for a time in steel mills in Detroit. Eventually he moved to Boston and graduated from Boston University in 1922 with a degree in business administration. Much later, in June of 1973 he received his Master's degree in business administration, he was the oldest person in the university's history to obtain such a degree at 86.

He lived in Sharon, Mass. for many years. Emil Reubens was a U.S.C.F. life director and authored a wonderful book on chess play, entitled Chess - Trick and Treat in 1965. This book is a treasure, a precious jewel for any novice player. At the end of the book he recommends that every young player should “Join a chess club. Meet chess players of differing skill and style. Subscribe to a periodical that will keep you abreast of the important events in Chess world."

In 1964, he helped to bring the U.S. Open to Boston. He was an honorary Chairman of the Committee, along with a lot of the great chess organizers of the time: Robert Goodspeed (Brockton C.C), Harold Dondis (Johnson C.C.), Eleanor Goodspeed, Eleanor Terry, Frank Ferdinand (Harvard C.C.), James Burgess (Boylston C.C.) ,Harry Goober (Clarendon C.C.), Beverly Jarnigan and Joseph Hurvitz (Boylston C.C.). That year, the U.S.C.F. was celebrating the silver anniversary of its foundation, in which Emil Reubens had been a strong force in promoting chess in this country.

Emil had a long time interest in prison reform and was instrumental in assisting many prisoners get back into society. In his book, mentioned above, he thought that “When I was drafted into becoming a "leader" in youth clubs, I employed chess and chocolate bars to lead the youth into the paths of righteousness. There are no available data to estimate the effect of chess on juvenile delinquency, nor are there statistics to gauge the collateral effects of chocolate bars freely rewarded for chess merits."

Reubens combined a lifelong interest in better prisons, rehabilitation and parole systems with chess activities. He organized many teams of players who visited several penal institutions to play against teams of inmates, or just to play simultaneous exhibitions against the inmates. On one occasion, he took Steve Frymer, John Curdo, and R. Gleason to Norfolk Prison, delighting one inmate in particular so much that he became an active player and organizer in Norfolk area.

Emil Reubens loved the youth, kids of all ages, -- they are our future joys and sorrows in life. The second Brockton Open, on September 25 & 26, 1971 in Brockton, Mass. William Lombardy, former World Junior Champion, had agreed to participate in the selection and awarding of a special Lombardy - Reubens “best played game” trophy to some player under the age of 21 (Harry Lyman was present in this ceremony). The winner of the award trophy was won by the young John Peters. The third Brockton Open, on September 23 & 24,1972, the Lombardy-Reubens award trophy was won by John Stopa. For the Boylston C.C. member’s information, at this event Alex Slive and Andrew Anisimov, two new youngsters showed up in the chess arena. After this event, it seems that such award stopped being awarded by the Brockton Chess Club, since he became sick and died shortly. The "MASS STATE JUNIOR CHESS CHALLENGE TROPHY PRESENTED BY EMIL M. REUBENS " is a silver trophy cup at the Boylston Chess Club to preserve his memory for future generations. In 1988, William Lukowiak, treasurer of the Boylston Chess Club and long time an officer on the board of MACA, introduced a motion to the Executive Board of MACA that the winner’s name of the Junior Scholastic Champion from Massachusetts be inscribed in this trophy and that MACA will help to pay for traveling expenses to the National Championship whenever it was to be held. The MACA board turned down this motion, and denied youngsters of this State such an honor.

After his death, the Mass State Chess Association, organized a one time "the Emil Reubens Memorial" at the Massachusetts Open at the new Brockton High School in 1974. The winner of this event was John Peters.

Emil founded the Steinberg-Reubens Educational Foundation. The Boylston Chess Club Board of Directors decided that in 1986 to pay tribute to Emil Reubens and Ben Landey by naming a qualifier cycle of the B.C.C. championship qualifier in their honor, for players rated 1800 to 2199. The winners of the Reubens/Landy move on to play against the club’s masters for the club championship.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:
CHESS LIFE & REVIEW, 1973, v.28, #11, p. 647 CHESS LIFE, 1964, v.19, #5, p.106 CHESS HORIZONS, 1970, v.2,#2, p.2 CHESS HORIZONS1971, v.3, #5, p.2 CHESS HORIZONS, 1973, v.5, #6, p.20 CHESS HORIZONS1972, v.4, #6, p. 19 CHESS TRICK & TREAT - E. REUBENS, 1965, p.7,11,126 BOYLSTON C.C. BULLETIN, 1985, v. 1, #1, p.2 BOYLSTON C.C. BULLETIN, 1987, v.2, #2, p. 1 BOSTON GLOBE, 1973, August 30. [Edited by Robert Oresick]

Thursday, July 06, 2006

First Impressions of New USCF website

Since so many people felt strong, mostly negative, feelings towards the newest design update to Chess Life, I decided to carefully puruse the new additions to the USCF Chess LIfe website. After some delay, the first version of the new website is now available, and I believe that the additions to the website strengthen the magazine as a whole.

The Magazine-- First stop, the on-line version of Chess Life. All the articles from the magazine are now on-line. The major advantage is that all of the chess games from the 'zine are now playable directly on-line. If you are like me, you are often too lazy to set up the chess board when going over tournament commentary. This is a welcome addition. The on-screen boards are on the smallish side, and the notes to the game are not easily read side-by-side with the on-screen board. However, using the paper copy of the magazine with the on-line game boards is an easy fix for now.

The diagrams from Chess Life staples such as Key Crackers and Chess to Enjoy are much nicer on-line. Big and clear to read, a very nice improvement. ABCs of Chess is not inspired-- they could use the interactive features of the 'net to make it easier to cover up and reveal moves as you play along, but instead they just list moves and notes. It is actually harder to cover up the next moves. In another missed opportunity, Benko's Endgame Lab and other articles that start analysis from middle or end-game positions completely lack interactive diagrams. Boo!

Chess Life On-Line -- This is the heart of the changes to the USCF Chess Life service. All signs point to: YES! Keeping in mind this is still the early version, I am very pleased with what I see. The World Open just ended on Tuesday, and there are already several articles devoted to it. Several of the major games are already posted, with interactive diagrams. The puzzles section has 25 new puzzles, and there is a nice selection of puzzles specifically from Ruy Lopez games. GM Joel Benjamin has a section for answering reader's mail, taking over Larry Evan's old job. Perhaps he will field more than just questions about Bobby Fischer. Greg Shadade's analysis of the rating changes to the top players is an nice, if overlong, regular feature. Any way of drawing attention to the top players helps bring professionalism and legitimacy to these elite players and to American chess in general.


Top Players Bios -- Here is a great new USCF feature. With lots of photographs, nice write ups, and even a cute diagram of one of their best positions, the Top Players Bios injects a good helping of humanity into the USCF website. They should work to expand this list to include even more players, say the Top 100, and even the Top Junior players.

Ratings-- The rating section hasn't changed. All complaints about the USCF aside, the rating system and website are suberb. I played in a tourament last night that was rated by this afternoon. Players are easy to search and find, and it lists tournament cross tables all the way back to 1991.


Overall Grade-- B+ A nice first effort, with timely articles, a lot of puzzles, and many photos. Some features could use some tweak still, especially to the oversmall interactive diagrams. How successful this new web launch will be, however, depends on two factors-- 1) the regularity of updates and new articles 2) whether articles posted in the on-line portion do not overlap with the magazine portion. -- Jason

Saturday, July 01, 2006

How can we improve attendance at our club?

Our tens of thousands of friends who play darts have a good idea.

Play in a pub.

Maybe we made a mistake working so hard to get non-profit status.

We should try for a liquor license. Posted by Picasa